Super Easy Flatbread

We're big fans of Pita Bread and use it all the time for sandwiches or just to dip hummus. It's also ideal for Baby Led Weaning as it can be cut into long strips that are easy for baby to hold and work themselves. Much like Naan, Flatbread is also a great vehicle for carrying additional flavour. They are also perfect to keep frozen and then just popped into the toaster when needed.

What I particularly love about these Flatbreads is that there are only four ingredients and the cooking process is super easy. Aside from burning them, there really is no way you could mess up these delicious breads!

Christian's Super Easy Flatbread

350g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
a pinch of sea salt
1 tsp baking powder
350g Glenisk natural yoghurt

Put the self-raising flour, baking powder, sea salt and Glenisk natural yoghurt in a mixing bowl and mix together with a spoon. Then, using clean hands, gently work everything together.

Next, dust your work surface with flour and roll out your dough. For one to two minutes knead the dough. Don't excessively knead the dough though - this isn't a traditional bread dough. Move the dough to a floured dusted bowl and cover. Set it aside for 30min.

Re-dust your work surface and a rolling pin with flour. Take your dough and divide it in half and then further divide each half into 6 equal-sized pieces. These should work out to roughly the size of a ping pong ball. Using your hands, flatten the dough and use the rolling pin to roll each piece into 12cm rounds, roughly 2mm to 3mm thick. Cut 6 lines into the centre of each round.

Heat your griddle pan to a high heat and cook each round for 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Ideally you want to achieve bar-marking as the rounds puff up.

If you want to add a little extra flavour like I mentioned above, just create your own herb butter and brush the flatbreads as soon as they come off the griddle. You can add ingredients directly into the mix but refrain from adding anything wet and don't go overboard - a little goes a long way. Feel free to throw in some herbs or spices to your mix though.

Goodbye To The Convertible

It's not something that every new parent faces, but it's certainly not uncommon - changing the car for something more family-friendly. Perhaps you had a car with no isofix fixtures or maybe it didn't have the space to fit a travel system (stroller). Or, like me, perhaps you drove a two seater, convertible, sports car - the most un-baby-friendly car a soon to be parent could have!

Despite how much I loved that car, I happily got rid of it for Beckett. Plus, it's not like the new car is in any way shabby. And, the boot space for his stroller is just massive.

SALE at The Gap

If you're looking to buy some new baby clothes there's a great sale on the Gap site at the moment. We've gotten Beckett a lot of Gap stuff since he was born and I definitely recommend it. Their clothes are well made and wear well too. Plus, they've some really, really cute gear. Check it out!

Tayto Park

Following my post 'What To Do On a Summer's Day' I had several people mention to me that I should have included Tayto Park. The thing is though, I had never actually been to Tayto Park. Beckett had, twice perhaps, but not good old dad. So I decided that there would definitely be a trip to the park in the near future.

So when Beckett's Aunt asked would he and I like to join her and two of his cousins on a trip to Tayto Park, how could I say no?

Admittedly the weather wasn't looking super this morning but nonetheless we were committed to visiting the park and sure it's Ireland and we're Irish - when did a little bit of rain bother us. We arrived at the park at 11.30 and made our way in. The first thing that struck me was that the place is super clean. As someone who has visited many, many, many amusement parks around the world, this was basically spotless. Also, in contrast to a lot of parks, I was immediately aware that there were a lot of staff. Not too many that they were standing around idle or anything but enough that you could tell, things were getting done immediately as needed.

The Rotator

Pricing at Tayto Park is very reasonable. Children under 3 are free of charge and everyone over 3 is €14 unless you're an O.A.P., a student, or have a special need, in which case it's €12. Once inside then you either buy individual ride tokens for €1 each or an unlimited wristband for €15. Please note that some rides require more than one token and as such the unlimited wristband is highly recommended if you plan to be there for the day and have people likely to want to ride a lot of rides.

Once inside the park I am happy to say that I noticed that the level of cleanliness continued. I also noticed that the park has been designed with space in mind. Nothing is on top of anything else and there's plenty of space to move around, even with two strollers and two kids in tow. Thankfully it wasn't super busy today and queues were relatively small. Of course, the park isn't just about rides and this is what makes it brilliant for families.

You see, in addition to the numerous rides, including Europe’s largest wooden rollercoaster, the park also features: Dinosaurs Alive, a massive Playground, a tour of the Tayto Factory and a Zoo. Yup, a Zoo! This basically means that there is literally something for everyone in the family. Beyond the above there are also live shows, an Arts & Crafts station with free Facepainting and numerous spots to eat (both options for buying food and places to sit and enjoy a picnic).

Arts & Crafts and Free Facepainting

As you can see, Beckett particularly loved the Arts & Crafts and created an awesome, magical Potato Creature. Though given that he didn't really want to let go of the Potato to begin with, he may just like spuds!

So all in all, I would thoroughly recommend Tayto Park as a family destination. Bring a picnic. Go early. Stay late. Enjoy everything going on at the park. And don't forget your free Taytos on the way out!

Beckett and his cousin, Scott,
discuss which bit of the park was best

Babymoov Sweet Night Travel Cot

Owning a good travel cot will serve you in two ways: 1) as the name suggests you'll have a bed for your baby that is easy to bring with you if you're staying away from home, 2) you'll have a place for baby to play safely while mum or dad take care of housework etc. The former is pretty self explanatory - your baby has a comfortable temporary bed that they are familiar with and will sleep in. The latter is, for many, an absolute essential for the stay at home parent who needs to get things done.

We decided on the Babymoov Sweet Night Travel Cot. This was partly based on family members giving it a good report from their own use but also a price choice. The cot folds down quite small and features two wheels to allow you to wheel the folded cot around. It's also very sturdy and has both corner positioned feet and three central feet meaning it won't sag or drop if you have a baby who likes to bounce!

Babymoov Sweet Night Travel Cot Folded

All in all, a great cot that is very reasonably priced at €69.99. This doesn't include the additional cost of a travel mattress but you should be able to pick up a good one for around €30.

Spiced Yogurt Muffins - A Stop-Gap Breakfast Solution

More than once I've heard a friend say that they didn't have time for breakfast because they were looking after their baby. Perhaps they were feeding them and getting them ready to go out or perhaps their child was pukey or sick. Either way, missing the occasional breakfast is not an unusual thing for some parents. And let's face it, that's not a good thing - you can't expect to be at your best if you're missing meals.

So as a way to avoid missing breakfast entirely, why not keep something to hand that will tide you over and fill a gap until you can eat properly? My solution...

Christian's Spiced Yogurt Muffins

2 cups plain flour
1 cup light brown sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
3/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups plain low-fat yogurt
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup applesauce
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Put 18 muffin cups into suitable muffin tins. Lightly brush each cup with vegetable oil.

Put the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and 1/2 teaspoon of the nutmeg into a food processor. Pulse the mix together and place in a large mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, butter, applesauce and vanilla. Then fold the egg mixture into the dry ingredients until just blended.

Divide the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle the granulated sugar and remaining 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg over the muffins.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the muffins are springy and a toothpick inserted into a muffin removes cleanly. Let the muffins cool in the pans for 5 minutes, before transferring them to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The great thing about this mix is that it is very suitable to adapting and changing as your ingredients dictate. Obviously don't add a lot of extra moisture to the mix but a few bits of fresh fruit or some dried fruit isn't a problem. Or perhaps a bit of desiccated coconut or orange peel.

Have fun and enjoy the muffins!

New Boots Parenting Club Launches #BootsParentingClub

On Wednesday, Beckett and I took a trip down to Dublin for the day. Aside from dropping Mama Bear to work and doing a bit of very important shopping at the Disney Store, we were on our way to The Intercontinental Hotel in Ballsbridge for the launch of Boots new Parenting Club.

So before I tell you about the launch, what's Boots Parenting Club all about anyway? Well... the Club is available to expectant mums and parents of children aged up to 3 years old all across Ireland, and is an online resource and hub of information on all things to prepare for and then look after your baby. When you sign up you not only receive 10 Boots Advantage Card points for every €1 spent on baby products but you'll also receive gifts, offers, exclusive advice, inspiring ideas and the latest news, which are tailored to your specific circumstance and details.

Gillian Hennessy, Head of Marketing, Boots Ireland says “Care underpins everything that we do in Boots, and what better way to care than to provide support for pregnant mums and new parents. The aim of Boots Parenting Club is to create a club that prepares and supports parents by offering exclusive, tailored advice throughout pregnancy and early childhood. In addition, we want to celebrate our bundle of joy together with all other parents celebrating their baby’s birth today, 8 July with a special gift.”

So basically it's a three fold system: a reward club for spend, an online advice hub and personalised gifts and offers. And let's face it, as any parent will tell you, anywhere you can get a little help and save a little money, all the while not compromising on quality, is a no brainer. Plus, if you're anything like us, you probably do shopping in Boots already so this is just a way to add further value to your existing routine.

To celebrate the launch, Boots are also gifting every baby born in Ireland on launch day, 8 July, with a special gift of a €20 voucher. Vouchers are limited to the first 300 applicants and all you have to do is send your full name & contact details as well the name of the baby born 8th July 2015 to by Wednesday 31st July.

So what about the launch itself? Boots put on a great launch. As simple and obvious as it sounds, the event was all about the babies. There was super talks and advice from Gillian Hennessy (Head of Marketing, Boots Ireland), Aisling O’Loughlin (Mum of two and TV3 Xpose Presenter) and Boots own Pharmacy team, but for me the best thing was the chance for Beckett to spend a bit of time playing around with other kids. There were Ball Pools, baby toys and a Face Painter. Unfortunately Beckett rubbed off the curly French-style moustache before I took photo it :(

Still, all in all, even with no moustache pic it was a lovely event.

Speaking about the Boots Parenting Club, Aisling O’Loughlin commented: “When expecting a baby or becoming a mother you realise just how much you have to learn! The tailored emails from Boots Parenting Club will be an amazing and helpful step-by-step resource straight to your phone as your baby develops! Every parent or parent-to-be soon discovers just how expensive babycare can be so it’s a real reward that Boots will be offering 10 Advantage Card points for every €1 and a nice way to treat Mum and Dad for a change”.

Baby Led Weaning - How To?

I found myself having a conversation with another parent a few days ago regarding Baby Led Weaning. I was telling her about a particular recipe that Beckett loves and I mentioned that one of the benefits is that he can feed himself. Somewhat shocked she asked what I meant. I told her that because the vegetables and meat were cooked in large chunks, Beckett would pick them up and feed himself. She tried to clarify by suggesting that I obviously meant that he'd play around with a few bits but ultimately we'd need to spoon feed him. I corrected her.

I'm not suggesting that Baby Led Weaning can be easy or that it doesn't usually create a mess, but it is what we feel is best for Beckett and it means from an early age (ie as soon as he was on solids) he is experiencing food as it should be - it's not being given to him as a puree. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to be all evangelical and preachy about there being a right and wrong way to teach your child about food and eating; I'm just outlining what we believe and what is working best for us.

The 'how to?' is rather easy. Make sure that the food is manageable for the child. Before they can bite you will need to provide food that if swallowed whole will be ok - think Pea-sized or slightly bigger. However, once they have some teeth and are more comfortable with the whole eating process, the pieces can be bigger - enough for them to hold and get two or possible three bites out of.

To be honest, you just need to dive in and work out what works best for you. I can guarantee it will be a wonderful journey and there is a really special bond being with your baby as they experience new foods and not just new tastes.

Out for a Meal With Baby @ Eastern Seaboard Bar & Grill

As any of our friends will testify, Jules and I (and now Beckett, of course) are big Eastern Seaboard fans. We've been going for the last 5 years and know a lot of the staff at this point, including Jenny and Reuven, the owners. So do take this review as a considered eport on 5 years worth of visits and meals, not just a random Saturday Afternoon. Though it was a Saturday on which we made our latest culinary encounter.

We have had a number of items up for sale that Beckett has grown out of. One of which was his old Maxi Cosi Cabriofix and Isofix Base. Beckett's been in his Axiss for months now and we'd arranged to meet a girl who was buying the old car seat system. Given where she was coming from, Eastern Seaboard was a good landmark, and a great excuse to pop in for some 4th of July food.

We arrived a little after 1pm and the place was still a little quiet but by no means empty. We were seated immediately and there was already a high chair waiting at our table - I'd rung ahead just 20min before to confirm there was a table. Eastern Seaboard use the IKEA Antilop High Chairs which is brilliant. As I've said several times before, we're a big fan and think they are the best High Chair out there while still being compact and easy to clean. Sure we use one at home. Says it all really.

While we perused the menu we asked the waitress to bring us out a Baby Bowl immediately so that we could get feeding Beckett. Eastern Seaboard's Baby Bowl is €2 and comes with a generous portion of mashed potato and an accompanying selection of fresh vegetables (usually carrot, cauliflower and broccoli). You also have the option of gravy.

Eastern Seaboard's Baby Bowl is fantastic. For an exceedingly reasonable price you get very delicious spud and really good quality freshly prepared vegetables. I do recommend it!

Service was prompt and super friendly as always. Though I would find it hard to ever fault Eastern Seaboard's staff. Though I guess it probably does help when the majority of service staff are female and your son is an incorrigible and insatiable flirt. Seriously though, they are brilliant and very attentive. In the end the girl even insisted on taking Beckett's plastic feeding spoon and washing it for us. Not a word said by us. All her own initiative. And while this may seem inconsequential and ultimately a tiny gesture, it was very much appreciated. Truth be told, I've been in many, many places that haven't thought of it.

Jules started with the Crostini and then had the Burger for her main. I too had the Burger, but with Cheese and Bacon, and I started with the Baby Back Ribs. The burgers were both delicious and Jules really enjoyed her Crostini. The Baby Back Ribs, however, were the best ribs I have ever had in my life! I have had ribs are dozens and dozens of places her in Ireland and I have had ribs in even more places across the United States. None have ever come close to these. The meat melted off the bone. The sauce was sharp, sweet and awesomely rich. If you do nothing else in July, get to Eastern Seaboard and order the ribs. Amazing!

All in all... a fantastic visit. I really couldn't fault the guys at all. Let's just hope that next time we have time (and room) for dessert.

Spicy Sesame Peanut Noodles

First up, this recipe is the first recipe I've shared that I would consider just for mums and dads. While it's not necessarily unhealthy in any way, it does have quite a bit of chili, honey and soy sauce. So best just to keep it for the grownups, at least for a little while. Of course, if your kids are older and like spicy food - go for it!

This recipe comes from a lot of tinkering and testing of various ingredients, techniques and cooking processes. And I'm happy to say that it is at a place that I am really happy with. Not only is it relatively simple to make but it is exceedingly delicious and works brilliantly to be made in advance or had as a leftover. It's also super versatile and can be added to or changed as your wants and cupboards dictate.

Christian's Spicy Sesame Peanut Noodles

1/2 Cup Sesame Oil
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1 tbsp finely chopped Red Chili Pepper (Lazy Chili is excellent)
1 tsp Chinese Five Spice
1 tsp Ground Ginger
1/2 tsp Crushed Red Chili Pepper
1 tsp Garlic Granules
1/2 tsp Onion Granules
2 tbsp (heaped) Tahini
3 tbsp (heaped) Crunchy Peanut Butter
5 tbsp Soy Sauce
5 tbsp Honey
200g - 400g Medium Egg Noodles
Whatever vegetables you like!
Meat or Seafood, hot or cold, if you like...

Combine the Sesame Oil and Olive Oil and add to a saucepan with the finely chopped Red Chili Pepper. Bring to a moderate heat very gently - do not boil or overheat the oil as it will ruin the flavour. Once the oil starts to heat up, add the Chinese Five Spice, Ground Ginger, Crushed Red Chili Pepper, Garlic Granules and Onion Granules. Continue to heat the mixture for 3 to 4 minutes on a very moderate heat.

Pour the mixture through a sieve into a large mixing bowl. Use the back of a spoon and press the wet mix left in the sieve to 'squeeze' through as much liquid as possible. Once you've pressed through as much liquid as you can, run the spoon across the reverse side of the sieve and collect the fine mush that has collected their. Place this in the mixing bowl too.

Now add the Tahini, Crunchy Peanut Butter, Soy Sauce and Honey to the bowl. Whisk all the ingredients together vigorously. At this point, your Spicy Sesame Peanut Sauce is ready and can be used straight away. If you are making it ahead of time, simply allow it to cool, cover it and place it in a fridge for up to 48 hours ahead of use.

When you want to use the sauce, simply cook your noodles and throw them into the mixing bowl. Ensure the noodles are well mixed around the bowl and evenly coated in sauce. If you like your noodles quite 'wet' with a good amount of excess sauce, I would recommend using 200g of noodles. If, however, you prefer your noodles drier and with less loose sauce, use 400g of noodles. Bare in mind of course that if you are using more noodles, you may end up making a huge portion so think about proportionally reducing all ingredients.

The noodles are amazing as they are and will work either by themselves or as an accompaniment to a main dish. Either way, they also form the base to which you can basically add anything you want. I like to use carrots, baby sweetcorn, spring onion and red peppers, all finely sliced and julienned. I don't usually add meat but if you have leftover meat or seafood and want to add it then go for it.

Overall, I don't find these noodles to be especially spicy but I do enjoy my spicy food. If you find them too much, instead of using finely chopped Red Chili Pepper at the beginning, just use half a finely chopped red pepper.