Easy peasy Chilli con Carne

The heating has been on full blast since October, my hot water bottle is a permanent fixture in my bed  and it’s nearly flipping April. The only good thing about this weather is you’ve still got the perfect excuse to indulge in good old comfort food.

I’ve been cooking this Chilli con Carne for aeons and although my husband likes to slow cook it, I’ve not got the will nor the patience so it’s normally ready within half an hour.

If I’m on a diet, I ditch the rice and eat it with mashed cannellini beans warmed in the microwave, if not I serve it with rice and a pita bread with a dollop of creme fraiche on top.

concarne

Ingredients

  • 1 onion (I use frozen, diced onions – the cheat’s way!)
  • 1 garlic clove or teaspoon of Lazy Garlic
  • 400g lean minced beef
  • 400g tin of tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 3-4 teaspoons chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin and 1 tsp ground coriander
  • Shake of Worcester Sauce
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 1 tin kidney beans
  • Slug of red wine

Method

  1. Fry the onion and when it’s softened, add the mince. I like to mash it up with a fork to give it a finer consistency.
  2. When the mince is nicely browned, add the red wine (and pour a glass for yourself).
  3. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato puree, cumin, coriander, Worcester sauce, chilli flakes and stock cube. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. At this stage, I add the kidney beans but you can leave putting them in until the end.
  5. Cook for 25-30 minutes on a low heat but if you want a really rich con Carne, cook on a very low heat for 50 minutes.

Verdict: perfect for a cold winter’s evening and can be made in advance and heated up. It freezes really well too.

Why you need a Dermaflannel

Pre-children I had a fairly healthy bank balance and used to spend a hefty part of it on the latest beauty & hair products. As soon as I read about a new ‘miracle’ hair creme that promised to control my unruly curly hair, I’d buy it but inevitably it would join the other dozen or so mousses, serums and sprays that had failed to live up to expectations on my ‘shelf of shame’.

Then along came my children and no longer could I justify spending £50 on a tiny pot of ‘miracle’ moisturiser  or £30 on a frizz-control creme. However, I’m still a gullible sucker for a new product and when I read on various forums about ‘Dermaflannels’, I surrendered and ordered one from Bravuralondon.com.

When it arrived, I have to admit that I did wonder if spending £11 on what looked like a piece of thick kitchen roll might have been yet another semi-expensive beauty mistake but this time, my money was well spent.

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God only knows what the Dermaflannel is made of and it may look innocent enough but after using it a couple of times I swear my skin looked better than it had for years and it has been very effective on those annoying little pimples that spring up on the back of your arms during the winter.

Bravura’s website says: The Dermaflannel is a beauty breakthrough for anyone who likes the idea of a chemical peel….this easy to use, reusable and chemical free way of achieving deeper exfoliation has a unique weave that sweeps away dead skin cells to reveal soft, glowing skin on the face or the body.”

I also bought the glycolic acid 15% night treatment too, which stings like an absolute devil when you apply it so it must work but I mixed it with my trusty Nivea so it was more bearable.

So all in all, I was pretty pleased with my latest beauty purchase but be warned, it does make your skin a little red afterwards so for goodness sake don’t use it before a big night out or if you’ve got an important event the next day – just in case.

Verdict: won’t be joining the ‘shelf of shame’ so it must be good!

Best ever lemon drizzle cake recipe

As the weekend forecast is so grim, batten down the hatches, ramp up the heating and bake a cake.

I’ve shamelessly stolen this lemon drizzle cake recipe from Mumsnet but it’s so easy and fuss-free, you could pick up the ingredients on the way home tonight and be tucking into it along with a well-deserved cuppa in no time at all.

drizzle cake

Ingredients

  • 225g (9oz) sugar
  • 225g (9oz) butter
  • 340g (12oz) self-raising flour
  • 4 beaten eggs
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 2 lemons or lemon juice

Method

  1. Preheat oven to gas mark 4/335F/170C.
  2. Mix all the ingredients (except the lemon) together and pour into a lined tray or loaf tin.
  3. Bake for approx 30-40 mins.
  4. Squeeze the lemon juice into a bowl and heat for approx 20 seconds in a microwave. You can add icing sugar to the juice to thicken the mixture.
  5. Prick the cake with a fork and pour the lemon juice mixture all over the cake.

Verdict: will definitely cheer up a cold & wet weekend.

Baby wipes – your household essential

I’ll start straight off by admitting that today’s tip is not in the least bit environmentally-friendly but I use baby wipes for so many things around the house, I just have to share it with you.

This discovery has all happened by accident as pre-children, I never had any in the house but over the past few years I’ve been using own-brand baby wipes for pretty much every cleaning job in the house.

So, apart from cleaning bottoms, wipes are absolutely brilliant for the following:

  • Cleaning dusty skirting boards
  • Cooker hoods, hobs and stainless steel toasters (rub down with a dry cloth afterwards for a dazzling shine)

    IMG_0583

    Baby wipes – perfect for cleaning those pesky hobs

  • Cleaning up spills on hard floors and carpets
  • Keyboards and laptop covers
  • Spills on upholstered chairs and sofas (even curry stains but you have to get to it mega-quick)
  • Cleaning wall and floor tiles
  • Bathroom and kitchen taps (same as above, rub down afterwards with an E-cloth or dry tea towel)
  • Wiping the leaves of houseplants
  • Removing crayon marks from painted walls
  • Cleaning out the microwave
  • Cleaning leather shoes
  • Car dashboards and steering wheel etc

I’m sure there are a 101 other uses for baby wipes that I haven’t even discovered yet but this does beg a rather unsettling question; if wipes have such superior cleaning powers, what on earth do they do to  a baby’s bum?

Verdict: A cleaning essential

The magic of Sudocrem

Chances are if you’re not a parent, you won’t even know what Sudocrem is so let me enlighten you. Although it’s primarily a nappy rash cream and a pretty good one at that, I’ve since discovered a whole host of ways of using this miracle elixir.

sudocrem_cream

Firstly, it’s absolutely brilliant for spots. How I wish I’d know about this when I was a pimple-blighted teenager. Just dab a bit on, especially overnight and in the morning that pesky spot will have all but disappeared.

I’ve also used it on a cold sore and I have to say, it might just be coincidence and it was never going to develop into a nuclear cold sore anyway, but it took two days to heal rather than five.

Other uses are: for burns, as a primer for makeup, although I haven’t tried this as yet but you’d definitely have to thin it out a bit as the cream is paste-like in texture, as a face mask on particularly spotty skin, sunburn, cuts and sore skin.

I’ve also used it on my disgusting cracked heels, which I’ve always suffered from. I usually smother my feet in it and put a pair of socks on as it goes everywhere and doesn’t smell particularly fragrant.

One word of warning though, don’t get it on any black clothes or carpet because it is an absolute devil to wash out.

The best bit, a 125g tub of Sudocrem only costs £2.55 and lasts for ages.

Verdict: an absolute essential in the Betty household.

The toilet roll & cable tip

This is what happens every single time I try to find the USB cable for my camera: I search through a web of all-black cables for about 10 minutes, spend another few minutes untangling said cables, find what I need and by this point have lost the will to live so throw them all back in the drawer only to have to go through the same rigmarole next time I need to download photos onto my laptop.

So while wasting half an hour on Pinterest the other day, I found the perfect answer – cardboard toilet rolls.  I know it sounds a bit ‘Blue Peter’ but you’ll thank me for this tip especially if you live with a cable-collecting man (seriously, how many USB cables and phone chargers does one man need)?

Get the cardboard tube, simply shove in the wire and write on the side what’s in there. For longer wires with heavy plugs, it might be worth using kitchen roll tubes.

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OK. this tip isn’t going to set the world alight and when I showed my husband the drawer full of cardboard tubes he looked at me like I’d lost my mind but I think it’s useful, so there!

Verdict: makes you look a bit anal, but handy and cheap