How spoiled are our pets?

We are a nation of pet lovers, with 13 million households having at least one pet. Dogs remain the most popular pet in the UK, with cats coming a close second. This is nothing new, but what is surprising how spoilt Britain’s pets actually are!

Our pampered pooches are getting spa treatments, personalised kennels and even doggy watches costing a whopping £3,500! Not many people I know own a watch worth so much.

Chinchillas are the pet most likely to receive a birthday present and 30% of horse owners would buy their beloved pet a valentines gift.

Read on for more shocking statistics – I won’t be letting Toby in on exactly how spoilt he could be – he gets a kitty stocking and some treats at Christmas and thats about it!

Capital One’s Infographic: How much do Brits spend on their pets


This infographic, was taken from dog day care NJ website.

Christmas Trifle

Each and every single year I make a trifle – we could have 10 guests, we could have none, but the trifle is always made. It usually gets eaten.

I realised last week that I make it in exactly the same way as my Mum did, back in the 80’s, when you know, trifle was actually cool. I can somehow increase its credibility slightly if I refer to it as retro, but the fact is, its outdated. It’s a basic recipe, and I am more than capable of adapting it, bringing into the current day. But I never will.

It’s not about the trifle, it’s about the memories it brings with it. I’ll still be making the trifle in 20 years time, even if no one wants to eat it (this Christmas, as always, it went down a storm!). It takes me right back to my childhood, to happy days. To times when Mum seemed happy. I wonder if Sophie will make it too? In years to come when she has a family of her own, will it bring the same comfort to her?

And it’s not just trifle either. One of my favourite things to make at Christmas is Jam and Lemon Curd tarts. I don’t eat either of those things at any other time of the year, but I have to make them at christmas, with Sophie. It’s a special time for us, a time for us to forget about the other 100’s of jobs that still need to be done before the big day and concentrate on spending time together, just us.

And it’s no different from when I was a child, making the same jam tarts. I can’t remember if my Mum made her own pastry – I assume she did? I can’t even remember a specific time. But I remember the feelings. The memories come flooding back.

It’s funny how food can conjure up such strong memories. As I sit writing this, I can’t even begin to explain how much I miss my Mum, how sad I am that we will never make jam tarts again. I can’t remember the last time, no more than I remember the first. I’m sad that she will never see me carrying on the traditions we made together, with my own daughter. That she may never realise how precious those moments were to me, how comforting they are to me now.

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Family Favourites – Chilli Con Carne

This is another staple in our house, and actually one of Sophie’s favourite meals of all time! I don’t tend to make it too spicy, but the great thing about making it from scratch is that you can have it as hot or as mild as you like. I cook mine in the slow cooker, but it can be just as easily done on the hob – I do find the longer you cook it, the better it is, as the flavours have more time to infuse and develop. You can of course omit or add in any veg you do/don’t like, which is the beauty of dishes like this and my spaghetti bolognese. The following recipe will serve 8 – I always make plenty and freeze the leftovers for another day when I don’t have time to cook.

Chilli Con Carne

Serves 8. Prep time 15 minutes.

chilli con carne


  • 500g lean minced beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or crushed
  • 100g mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 peppers, chopped
  • 400g tin of kidney beans, drained
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 500ml Passata
  • beef stock cube
  • 2 tbsp chilli powder (or to taste)
  • 2 tbsp cumin (or to taste)
  • Cooked rice, to serve


  1. Dry fry the mince beef and drain of any excess fat. Add to a slow cooker with all the other ingredients and stir well.
  2. Cook on low for up to 8 hours or high for up to 4 hours, add addition chilli powder and/or cumin to taste
  3. Serve with rice

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Parmesan, sundried tomato and basil soda bread

This week was bread week over on the Great British Bake Off. The contestants were challenged to make a no prove bread, baguettes and a 3D bread sculpture. Of course I was going to attempt the latter* but I ran out of time, so I opted for a (no prove) soda bread. I decided to go for an Italian theme as it has to be my favourite food. I just love all the vibrant colours and delicious flavours and I wanted that to come across in my bread this week.

*blatent lie

Parmesan, sundried tomato and basil soda bread

parmasan, sun dried tomato and basil soda bread



  • 400ml Milk (preferably whole milk, but semi skimmed is fine. Skimmed milk tends to be too watery)
  • 1.5tbsp lemon juice
  • 450g plain flour
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1tsp salt
  • 75g parmasan, finely grated
  • 75g of sundried tomatoes, dried well and roughly chopped
  • bunch of fresh basil, finely chopped, or 1 packet of Gourmet Herbs Lightly Dried Basil – I used this and it was amazing!


  1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees/180 degrees fan.
  2. I tend to use milk and lemon juice instead of buttermilk as I always have it in, you can substitute it for 400ml of buttermilk if you like. Mix the lemon juice and milk together and put to one side for 5 minutes.
  3. Sieve your flour, bicarb and salt into a large mixing bowl and combine before adding the parmasan, sundried tomatoes and basil. Combine until the ingredients are evenly mixed throughout.
  4. Make a well in the centre of the dry mixture and add around half your milk/lemon juice. Using your fingers lightly combine, adding more liquid as necessary – you may not use it all, but you are looking for a soft, slightly sticky, dough – a little drier than plain soda bread as the added ingredients will add moisture. Again try to ensure that your ingredients are evenly dispersed.
  5. Using floured hands put your dough onto a well oiled baking sheet. Form into a round and flatten. Use a sharp knife to cut a criss cross on the top, around a third of the way down. This allows the bread to expand as it bakes.
  6. Bake for 45mins until golden brown and cooked through. To test if bread is cooked turn it over and tap on the bottom – a hollow sound indicates it is cooked. If it isn’t turn it upside down and bake for a little longer.
  7. Although to cool slightly before serving warm – perfect served with a selection of antipasti and dipping oil and vinegar.

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Pistachio and Caramel Biscotti

Can you believe its week 2 already? I am pretty sure the Bake Off is going to fly by this time! Anyway, this week the lovely Jenny from Mummy Mishaps has asked me to host. It seems that this year there are more bloggers than ever joining in which is great, but it also means the competition for star baker each week is fierce!

And now we are onto biscuit week. This week’s challenges were:

  • Signature Challenge – 24 Biscotti
  • Technical Challenge – Arlettes
  • Showstopper Challenge – An edible biscuit box with 36 biscuits of a different flavour

I decided on biscotti and came up with these pistachio and caramel biscotti, which were delicious. They were however incredibly sweet. By dipping them in dark chocolate, the sweetness of the biscotti and bitterness of the chocolate makes them just perfect.

Pistachio and Caramel Biscotti

pistachio and caramel biscotti


  • 280g plain flour
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 100g pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 100g hard caramel sweets, broken up (I used Werthers)


  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl mix together the eggs, vanilla and oil before adding to flour mixture and mixing until combined.
  4. Add in the pistachios and caramel pieces and mix together thoroughly, before emptying out onto a floured surface
  5. Roll the biscotti mix into a log and then flatten
  6. Bake on a baking sheet lined with baking paper in your preheated oven for around 30 minutes, turning it half way through
  7. Remove from the oven and put the biscotti log onto a wire rack for 15 minutes to cool
  8. Slice the biscotti to around 1cm and put them back on the lined baking tray. Reduce the oven temperature to 120 degrees. Place them back in the oven for around 15 minutes until crisp
  9. Cool on a wire rack
  10. When cooled melt 100g dark chocolate and dip half of the biscuits to coat them. Scrape any excess chocolate off with a knife and put on baking paper to dry completely

Great Bloggers Bake Off

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Turkey and bacon risotto

Turkey and bacon risotto

Right before Christmas we had a bit of a change in plans. Due to a family illness we ended up with a few more people for Christmas dinner than we had anticipated and one of them had already begun defrosting their Christmas turkey, so it made sense to use that for dinner.

Our turkey crown ended up in the freezer and I took it out and cooked it this week. Now I know turkey doesn’t seem to be popular throughout the year, but its cheaper and leaner than chicken!

I was obviously left with copious amounts of leftover Turkey, so I made this delicious Slimming World friendly turkey and bacon risotto. Without the parmesan this dish is completely free on the Extra Easy plan. Each level tbsp of parmasan is 1 syn.

Turkey and Bacon Risotto

turkey and bacon risotto

Serves 4, ready in about an hour


  • 250g leftover cooked turkey, chopped
  • 150g bacon, chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 chopped pepper, any colour, or a mixture – I used frozen as I had run out of fresh and always keep a bag in emergencies for such occasions.
  • handful of frozen peas
  • 250g risotto rice
  • 750ml chicken stock
  • grated parmesan, to serve


  1. Spray a deep sided frying pan with low calorie cooking spray. Gently fry the bacon, onion and garlic until the bacon is cooked.
  2. Add the peas, pepper and chopped turkey. Fry for a minute, before adding the rice and stirring thoroughly until it coats the other ingredients.
  3. Over a medium heat begin to add the stock, a small amount at a time, and keep stirring. When the stock is absorbed, add more and continue until the rice is cooked. If the rice isn’t cooked by the time all the stock is absorbed, then simply add boiling water
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste (we leave out the salt) and serve sprinkled with 1 level tablespoon of parmesan per person (1 syn each)

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