I remember the thrill of being given the Argos catalogue at Christmas every year by my parents. I think they took the approach that Argos was a great one-stop shop that would sort my Christmas pile out nicely. As the youngest child and the only girl, the mountain of gifts was always impressive.

Funnily enough, my most memorable toy was the doll’s house my Dad’s best friend Colin made for me. He was a joiner so it was well done and then his sisters had fun decorating it. Ah memories …

These days I am more likely to shop at Argos by using their website which is easy to search.

My children have been trying out some toys from Argos recently.

My son chose a Hot Wheels set. He was into wheels from a very early age and I imagine him learning to drive as soon as possible.

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My daughter added to her Design-a-Friend collection. It was wonderful because it was waiting for her as a treat when she returned from her school trip.

My older son has always loved Lego.

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Lego is available at Argos online here.

Argos provided us with three toys to enable this post.

Stuffed pumpkins recipe

Stuffed Pumpkins

Ingredients

2 x 700-800g pumpkins, halved and pips scooped out

75g couscous

2 tbsp SuperValu olive oil

1 SuperValu leek, washed, trimmed and sliced

175g SuperValu chestnut mushrooms, chopped

50g SuperValu pine nuts

2 tbsp SuperValu parsley, chopped

100g SuperValu feta cheese, crumbled

Freshly milled black pepper

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C/ Fan 170°C/ Gas Mark 5.  Place the pumpkin halves on a baking tray and cook for 40 minutes.  

  1. Place the couscous in a bowl and pour over 100ml cold water and leave to stand for 10 minutes.

  1. Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a pan and cook the sliced leeks for 3-4 minutes before adding the mushrooms.  Cook for a further 5-6 minutes, until     the vegetables have softened.

  1. Fluff up the couscous with a fork then stir into the leek and mushroom mixture with the pine nuts, parsley and crumbled feta cheese.  Season with black pepper.

  1. Spoon the stuffing mixture into the pumpkin halves, drizzle with the remaining olive oil and bake for a further 15 minutes.

The SuperValu range is stocked in Budgens stores which are owned and operated by independent retailers. To find your nearest store visit www.budgens.co.uk

I love spider cupcakes for Halloween. Gruesome food ideas always entertain the children.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes

Serves: 12

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Ingredients

175g (6 oz) Stork tub


175g (6 oz) golden caster sugar


300g (11 oz) self raising flour, sieved


3 medium eggs


5 tablespoons milk


½ teaspoon baking powder


100g cooked pumpkin or butternut squash, mashed


50g chocolate and hazelnut spread


Zest of 1 orange


Topping


115g icing sugar


A little orange juice


55g (2 oz) plain chocolate, melted or use chocolate and hazelnut spread


Liquorice sweets and laces to decorate

Method
1. Place 12 muffin cases into a muffin tray.

2. Place the first six ingredients into a bowl, and beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth.

3. Stir in pumpkin mash and orange zest and divide half the mixture evenly between the paper cases, add a half teaspoon chocolate spread and then top with remaining mix.

5. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes oven 200°C, 180°C (fan assisted), Gas mark 6 for 20-25 minutes.

6. Add a little orange juice to the icing sugar until thick and spread over the muffins. Pipe the melted chocolate in 4 circles over the top and then drag a skewer through to give the cobweb effect. Place the sweets and laces on top to look like a spider

I hope you try these spider cupcakes.

Confessions of a New Mummy

Mummy in a Tutu

Witches fingers are a must-have for any Halloween party. Perfectly tasty and gruesome too!

witch finger recipe

Makes: about 32

Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus 1 hour rising

Cooking time: 12-15 minutes

Ingredients:

 

225g strong plain white bread flour

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon caster sugar

½ teaspoon fast- action dried yeast

1 teaspoon Very Lazy Garlic Paste

1 tablespoon Very Lazy Basil Paste

1 tablespoon olive oil

150ml warm water

1 egg, lightly beaten

25g freshly grated Parmesan cheese

32 blanched almonds

Little paprika

For the dip:

125g soft cream cheese

150g roasted red peppers, from a jar, drained

1 tablespoon tomato purée

½ teaspoon Very Lazy Piri Piri chillies with oil, drained

Method:

1.       Place the flour, salt, sugar, yeast and garlic and basil paste in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Using a wooden spoon stir in the olive oil and enough of the water to form a dough.

2.       Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for 7- 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.

3.       Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 1-1½ hours, or until doubled in size.

4.       Preheat the oven to 190ºC, Gas Mark 5. Line two large baking trays with baking paper.

5.       Using your fist punch the dough to knock out the air bubbles. Knead on a lightly floured surface, then roll of the dough to a rectangle about 32 x 26 cm. Using a pizza wheel or sharp knife cut the dough in half horizontally, then into 2cm thick strips. Fold one strip of dough in half, so it is 1cm thick, then roll to make a thin finger about 12cm long. Repeat with remaining strips. Pinch the dough to form knuckles and mark with lines. Bend to make scraggy fingers. Place on the baking sheets and brush with the beaten egg. Sprinkle over the cheese.

6.       Toss the almonds in a little paprika, then press into the end of the fingers. Bake for 12- 15 minutes.

7.       Meanwhile make the dip. Place the roasted peppers in a food processor and blend until smooth. Stir into the cream cheese, tomato purée and chillies.

8.       Serve the witches fingers with the dip.

 

Will you indulge in witches fingers?

Pumpkin and sweet potato soup combines two of my favourite things for a taste sensation.

Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Soup

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

700g (1/b 6oz) pumpkin flesh, roughly chopped

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped

1.2 litres (2pts) water or vegetable stock

200ml (7fl oz) Alpro Soya Original alternative to milk

4 tbsp Alpro Soya Alternative to cream

For the breadsticks:

4 assorted part baked bread sticks

2 tbsp olive oil

Method

1 Heat the olive oil in a large pan, add the onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes to
soften.

2 Add the pumpkin and sweet potato and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the water or stock. Season with salt and ground black pepper, cover and bring to the boil, then simmer for 25 mins until the pumpkin and sweet potato are really tender.

3 Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200ºC (180ºC fan, Gas 6). Cut the bread in half lengthways, then make several cuts one third of the way up the length to look like broom bristles. Repeat with the other bread, put onto a large baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake for 5-8 mins until becoming golden.

3 Stir the Alpro Soya Single alternative to cream into the soup, whiz everything together in blender or processor in batches until smooth. Return to the pan, gently warm through to
serve. Pour into bowls and finish with a swirl of Alpro Soya Alternative to cream.