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06 October 2016

Hello Fresh - Baked Cheesy Chicken Taquito with Zesty Salad

Hello Fresh is a company here in the UK that delivers recipe boxes directly to your home. 
I was visited this past week by a lovely young lady who was a representative of Hello Fresh, offering a promotional deal. I had already heard of Hello Fresh, and had researched them briefly in the past. So a promotional deal to give them a try was tempting to me. I signed up, and received my first box yesterday.  I decided on a family box, with two meals, each serving four people. I was able to go online and choose between the options available for the week, and this is one of the recipes I chose - Baked Cheesy Chicken Taquito with Zesty Salad.
The box was filled with all of the ingredients I would need for both of my chosen meals, and recipe pages with photos and detailed instructions.
One of the appeals of the service offered by Hello Fresh was that I would receive only the amounts of ingredients needed for the recipe, and there would be no waste - no extra tortillas that would grow stale in the cupboard, or veggies that would not be used!
Another appeal is that I would stretch myself a little and try new things, maybe discover some new family favorites!
Above you see just the ingredients for the taquitos - the little cheese cubes look adorable, but I am not necessarily looking forward to trying to grate them!

I loved the detailed instructions and pictures of the various steps.  The recipe card said it would take 30 minutes to prepare and it cooks for 10-15 minutes.  So... that means I have to do all the prep in about 15 minutes. Hmmmm. I think that is assuming I am a faster cook than I am, but we shall see!
The cheese provided came in the form of three tiny blocks of cheese, similar to that I would give the girls as a snack. I thought that might make it more challenging to grate the cheese without grating a bit of finger in with it! :( But, I was pleasantly surprised that it was actually just fine.  Once I saw the amount grated, though, it occurred to me that my family would have probably liked more cheese to be included, but less makes it healthier - right?
I sauteed my onions in a bit of olive oil...
Then added the chicken and spices...
Here is the filling, with the onion and chicken tossed together with the fresh spinach and cheese and sour cream (or soured cream, as they call it here in the UK)!
I filled and rolled all of the taquitos and filled them as full as I thought I could, while (or whilst, as they say in the UK) still being able to actually roll them up properly.
Sadly, though, I had a bit of filling left over. However, that was not a problem, as several hungry children wandered through the kitchen and snagged a bit of filling until there was none left!
Here is a side by side comparison of my finished product and the sample picture provided by Hello Fresh.  Theirs is obviously the one above.  I cooked my taquitos for 15 minutes, but they probably needed a bit longer to get browner and crispier. But, the aforementioned hungry children, and the fact that I had to get one fed and out the door to her gymnastics class, precluded me from cooking mine even a minute longer!  

They were quite delicious and all of the girls gave them a big thumbs up! Even though I would guess that the complete preparation time was closer to 45 minutes to an hour, I didn't think it was unbearable.  And the finished product seemed well worth the time.   
My conclusion is that, so far, I am quite pleased with Hello Fresh.  We have one more meal to try out this week. However, I have already checked out the offerings for next week and didn't see anything that I fancied trying, so I suspended my delivery until the following week. If I continue the service beyond that will be determined by if I find anything tempting on offer.  We shall see!

03 July 2016

Black Tie Leaver's Dinner

The school does a really beautiful send off for it's Year 8 girls, they call leavers.  The weeks preceding the finish of the school year are filled with activities, the Common Entrance Exam celebrations I mentioned in another post, but also there were events like Staff vs. Leavers Rounders match, Parents vs. Leavers Rounders match (sadly had to be cancelled due to weather, a Hog Roast, and the Leavers Black Tie Dinner. 
Georgia was excited to have her Dad wear his dress uniform. 
The school took a photo of each leaver wither parents as we arrived.
Chris mugging for the camera with one of the ladies' handbags!
Happy Mums!
Chris with the school's headmistress.
Happy girls with the headmistress.
We finished the night with friends at our local pub!

02 July 2016

End of Common Entrance Celebrations

At the end of Year 8 (equivalent to 7th grade in the States), students either go off to boarding school, or go to a day school in London (called Senior School). To enter either boarding school, or day school, entrance exams have to be taken. These exams are like SATs, at the age of 13!  So, needless to say, they are prepared for extensively.  For boarding schools, the exams are called Common Entrance Exams.  The day school exams are mostly completed in January, but the Common Entrance Exams take place in June. So, to celebrate the end of Common Entrance Exams, there is quite a celebration planned by the parents and school.  The girls finished lessons early, and all congregated in the school's front garden, where they were presented with their leavers' hoodies. They were all able to choose a color they liked, and the designs were all the same, which included their names, and the names of all of the leavers inside the numbers on the back.
They were super excited to receive their hoodies and all had fun modeling them for the many parents who were there to take pictures and see them off to the day's adventures!
The day's adventures included the girls traveling into town from school in Humvee limousines!  There were multiple limos and the girls all piled inside, with music blaring!
The girls all headed into town for lunch, followed by pedalos (what they call paddle boating) on the Serpentine in Hyde Park! 
We picked up the girls from Hyde Park and discovered some hot and tired girls, as it was a truly gorgeous day in London!  They were exhausted, but certainly exhilarated by their day!

01 July 2016

The Dragon Ball

Occasionally there are charity balls held for teenagers in London, and The Dragon Ball is one that Georgia has attended for the last two years.  

This year, we made an appointment for her to have her hair done at a local salon. She chose this snazzy sophisticated ponytail.
The girls all met up at our house to get ready, eat pizza, and hang out before going to the ball together.
They all seem to have a lot of fun when they are together!
While the girls were at the ball, several of the other Mums and I went to a local pub for dinner.  This sign made me laugh, so I snapped a quick picture of it!
Here are the girls after the ball - they all had a great time!

30 June 2016

The Queen's Birthday Street Parties

The UK makes quite a to-do for the Queen's birthday. They encouraged everyone to hold street parties and celebrate. Totally fun!  So, throughout the weekend, many streets were cordoned off, bunting was hung, flags were flying, and parties were held. Some included rented bouncy castles, live music, visits from the local fire brigade and more! 

Although our own street didn't hold a street party, several nearby streets did, and friends who lived there invited us to attend with them.  The girls scootered over to the first one, and we found it to be great fun!
There were tents set up with tables full of fabulous food, and the Pimms Cup and wine were flowing!
The second party was also a ton of fun with live music playing (and a friend shared the story of a street party she attended in 2012 where there was a "cute ginger" playing guitar and singing. She didn't recognize him at the time, but later found out it was Ed Sheeran, who lived nearby at the time).
The local fire brigade brought out a truck and gave tours to all the children!
What a fun day!