Sunday, 30 December 2012

Oodles of Noodles for toddlers

An 'OMG what am I going to feed him' moment came upon me a few days ago.  Not that the fridge wasn't groaning but it was groaning with all the high fat foods for the festivities to come.  So I came up with this.  A delicious (if I say so myself) slightly sweet sauce which worked well with the noodles and would also be great with some chicken.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Carrot, Ginger and Pumpkin Soup

A zinger of a soup to cheer up your jaded taste buds from the days of excess!  Ginger is meant to help reduce feelings of nausea which is great if you've overdone it over the past few days.

My son was initially a bit unsure about this soup but once he started dunking with the bread he was well away.  It packs a punch so if you're a little unsure, tone down the ginger or serve in small portions but after the last few days, small portions are probably a very good thing indeed!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

I hope that Santa fills your stockings with everything you desire...

...and that Santa has a few black coffees on his route!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Top Tips for Christmas Dinner

Christmas is fast approaching and although I have a couple of recipes I need to blog, I thought I'd have a quick rundown of the top tips and hints for Christmas day.  I've made Christmas dinner a few times now on my own but even when I was younger I used to help my Mum.  There are some keeping your sanity tips here but also food safety tips (which is what I do as a job) because there is always a spike in food poisoning at this time of year and toddlers more than anyone need to be protected.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Apple and Berry Crumble for the Whole Family (low sugar)

My husband had a rough morning at the weekend with my son.  It's my fault, we're trying to get him to go swimming and we haven't done so regularly since he was a baby.  It was always something I'd intended to do but my son was a bad sleeper and getting him to nap was vital for a night's sleep.  Ironically bad naps in the day meant bad sleeping at night.

All of the baby swimming classes seemed to coincide with when he normally napped and they were all things I needed to commit to for 10 weeks or more.  So, I just didn't.

Fast forward to 2 and a half and we have a little boy who is a bit scared of water.  He will get in but clings like a limpet around your neck.  We started taking him to classes (or rather my husband did) and things were gradually improving but then this Sunday, it all took a turn for the worse.

So this is what I made to cheer up my husband.  Not sugar free baking but certainly low sugar.  Only 20g added sugar per portion.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Creamy Mushroom Pasta Bake for the Whole Family

Sorry about the lack of posts.  As I'm sure all Mummies feel at this time of year, it's like one foot is in the supermarket, one at work, a hand holding my son's hand and the other is stirring mincemeat / cake mixtures or writing menus.  It's like some festive torturous form of Twister!

So all of this plate spinning / balancing and generally spreading myself thinner than the merest scrape of Gentleman's Relish has meant I've not posted recently.  For that, kind readers, I apologise and will try harder in future!

This was a dish I made last weekend.  Serve, if liked, with some vegetables or salad.  Yummy!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Sausage Casserole for the Whole Family

Could there be a more warming, family friendly autumnal or wintery dish?  I say "no" and I'm wondering why I didn't think of this around bonfire night?

This is the poor relation to a cassoulet but tasty nonetheless and thrifty too.  I used 700g of sausages in this recipe which easily would have fed 5 adults and by reducing the amount of meat each person has and increasing the amount of pulses it's not only environmentally friendly (especially being cooked in a slow cooker) but it's also great health wise.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Eat Your Greens Soup for toddlers and adults

I love soup.  The most versatile dish, using up bits and bobs from the fridge and cupboard.  It's incredibly thrifty and a sneaky way to hide the vegetables if your child (or partner) is less than keen.

So this soup has three green vegetables as well as onion in it.  There is a bit of salt from the bacon so not for babies but my toddler certainly enjoyed it asking for seconds.  He might be going through a bit of a growth spurt at the moment though.  I hope so, he's eating me out of house and home!

For soups, frozen vegetables are also great as texture isn't so important.  Mix this up a bit, try other vegetables, as Louis Walsh would say, "You made it your own!"

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Parsnip Chips for Babies and Toddlers

Nothing wrong with adults having them either!  A great recipe for the slightly reluctant vegetable eater as these look a bit like chips, they taste sweeter but handily, unlike potato based chips or fries, these count towards your five a day.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

12 Days of Christmas

As advent is here, I thought I'd have a bit of fun, here are my 12 days of Christmas in recipes and great gifts for foodie types and a few words of wisdom...

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder for the Whole Family

Lamb might not be an obvious choice for kids but there are lots of great things about it.  Kids need iron and red meat is a great source of it.  Lamb though is a fairly strong taste in comparison with chicken and pork but that said, if you don't offer stronger tastes with kids, they don't get used to them, and let's face it, I would happily serve a lamb curry to my 2 year old.

Rosemary and garlic are natural partners for lamb but with a leg of lamb, it's often inserted and I find the garlic is still undercooked and indigestible.  This way makes sure the garlic and rosemary are fully cooked but still flavours the meat because it's cooked in it's own little steamy oven.

The other great reason to cook this dish is it's incredibly thrifty.  When I went to my local supermarket to buy this, a leg of lamb was £11-12 a kilo.  Lamb half shoulders were £5 a kilo.  Trust me, this is as good or even better than a leg of lamb and brings it into the price range of more households.

Monday, 26 November 2012

The Best Roast Potatoes EVER!

The fact that you can buy frozen roast potatoes has confirmed to me that people don't know how to make roast potatoes but it's super easy and makes you look like a superb cook to your friends and family.  This is the VITAL recipe to have to hand come Christmas.  Don't worry about the turkey needing a lower temperature, cook the turkey to be ready to take out of the oven 1 hour before you want to eat, then turn up the temperature.  Not only does the resting time help the meat, it then means you don't have to worry.

Even some really good cooks don't know how to make these.  The perfect roast potato should be golden and crunchy on the outside and lovely and fluffy within.  The perfect accompaniment to Christmas lunch or any other roast (and just maybe a delicious midweek treat!)  What's more is depending on what fat you use, these are really cheap to make (if you're smart, why not save some fat from roasting a duck to make these later, which kind of makes one of the ingredients free!)  No cheating with flour either.  Just two ingredients.  Done.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Slow cooked duck with Thyme and Apple for kids and adults

I made this last weekend but it's been a busy week in the Mamacook household.  I now have my own business providing food safety support to food companies (which is my day job) and it's going pretty well but it does mean that time is short to fit in playing with my toddler, blogging, running and sleeping.  Unfortunately sleeping is paying the price as a result and if you think I've touched the vacuum cleaner in the last few weeks you are much mistaken!

It's inevitable that something has to give but I hope to get back on top of blogging asap because it brings me so much joy.  It's odd to think my little blog has been going for nearly two years now and regularly has 20,000 page views a month.  That might not sound like a lot but it's significant for me.

I still use the recipes from my first post (so much so I even went back and added a photograph recently) so everything changes but nothing does in lots of ways.

This is an easy recipe for duck.  If you've never cooked duck it's a great meat to roast.  Just be aware the amount of meat you will get won't be huge but you will feed 2 adults and a toddler without much of a problem.  Also don't be afraid of the fat (there's a life lesson!)  The fat is delicious and great for making roast potatoes.  In fact, you could freeze it and use it for Christmas day!

Which comes to another point.  Turkey is not for everyone and if you are just eating as a couple on Christmas day, a duck might be a tasty alternative if you fancy something a bit different.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Vegetable and Chorizo Soup

One of those things, you've been to the supermarket, bought some ingredients, then you come home and your partner suggests something for tea you'd not planned for.  Today was 'soup'.  Now soup is easy, you can often make it from store cupboard ingredients but I didn't fancy lentils (I've over lentil-ed recently, even though I love lentils, you can have too many) and pumpkin is so autumnal.  So this was the result.

My husband astutely pointed out when I told him what we were having it was "the stuff which was in the fridge".  Yes.  Sometimes inspiration takes the form of cooking the "stuff which is there" and the "stuff which needs eating up".  I like to think there is more science to it than that but, let's face it, sometimes there isn't.  Still, despite that, my husband described this as 'delicious'.  I've not tried this with my son yet but it's the kind of thing he likes, definitely full of flavour and he has a bit of a thing for chorizo.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Sugar Free Fruit and Nut Slice for Toddlers

This is a lovely and simple fruit and nut slice which has no added sugar, no honey, no sugar substitutes.  It's a good substitute to the sugar and fat laden fruit and nut cereal bars which kind of seem healthier than they actually are.  Lots of healthy fats and fibre in here though.  Still even with no added sugar and very little added fat, the ingredients are reasonably filling so I did cut into small squares.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Great Christmas Present Ideas for Foodies - My favourite recipe books and online resources

People often ask where my inspiration comes from and in general it is often lying in bed in the morning when you're half asleep and ideas drift in.  Sometimes it's eating out in restaurants and cafes but I do also sometimes use inspiration from cook books and online recipes.

Where I've used a recipe as the basis for mine, I always credit it but there are also cook books that I cook from without changing anything.  Obviously I don't really blog about this because, well you can go out and try them for yourselves!  But if I don't blog about them, how do you know?

So, I thought I'd put together a list of the things I use most often, the recipe books and online resources I turn to again and again.  Some of them might make great Christmas presents too for the foodie in your life.

My own scrapbooks.  I have been keeping a recipe scrapbook for about 20 years.  I picked up the habit from my Mum.  Some of them are stained with recipes, have crossings out (some recipes have been unceremoniously removed or overpasted too!  I'm ruthless!)

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Chorizo and Mozzarella Panini for Toddlers

Ok, I know I'm mixing countries here but panini aren't Italian anyway.  If you asked for a panino in Italy, you'd probably get a bread roll!

But in the UK (and I think the US where it was probably invented) it has come to mean a toasted sandwich normally made in a baguette or ciabatta.  I often share one of these with my son if there is no other option when we're out.  I say "if there's no other option" because they're often served in cafes which are one of the few places in some towns which will serve food at 11:30/11:45 which is when my little man gets hungry.

Well it occurred to me that we often make toasted sandwiches in our famous boxer endorsed "grilling machine" so why not panini?  I chose chorizo because there was precious little choice of Italian salamis in my local supermarket this morning, certainly nothing spicy and I like chorizo.  I chose mozzarella because you need something which melts well.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Proper Cocoa

This is probably a recipe for older kids and adults.  Forget hot chocolate, it's not that nasty overly sweet confection, this is the good stuff, the real stuff, the thing you crave when it's chilly outside...

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Very Berry Compote for Babies and Toddlers (and their parents)

I love berries.  In summer, pretty much the only pudding I really want is fresh raspberries, maybe with some blueberries or blackberries depending on the month.  I miss that in the winter, as does my son from the amount of times he's asked for "Strawberries and Cream" recently.

Well winter feels like it's here and if you think I'm buying a hothouse strawberry at this time of year, you must be mistaken.  There's no point.  The flavour in strawberries is pretty much all perfume and sweetness, winter strawberries have neither (and some would argue a lot of summer ones aren't much better!)  So I have turned to the frozen berries.  Raspberries can just about get away with being frozen and defrosted to be eaten cold and only just.  They're still better as part of a dish.  That said, you can use the tendency for berries to leak juice to your advantage and make this compote.

I have added honey to the compote because the frozen berries I had weren't very sweet.  Obviously only do so if your child is over 1 year old and if you want to.  I wouldn't have sweetened this when my son was still a baby and if you're looking at 1-2 tsp across the whole batch, it's not a lot compared with cakes and sweets.  Likewise if you do have a younger baby, you could also whizz this up and sieve out the seeds (if you want to, I never bothered) and mix with yoghurt for a lovely pudding.

For adults this would be great as a topping for a good vanilla ice cream or even as a topping for porridge in the morning.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Pumpkin Risotto with Thyme for babies and toddlers

I posted a risotto recipe a while back.  It was made in the slow cooker to make it easy with a little one around but, well it wasn't quite as good as a proper risotto, not that this is a 'proper' risotto, not really.  I've used some cheats and used up items in my fridge which needed using.

Risotto made with parmesan is not vegetarian so if you do want to make this veggie, you will need to switch the cheese.  A good tip is Berkswell which is a British cheese made from vegetarian rennet but it is a hard parmesan style.  Alternatively use a vintage cheddar, a properly strong 'crunchy' one.  Obviously all of these changes are completely inauthentic but then as ever I make no claims for authenticity!

So this was made after my son spent the morning at a birthday party eating breaded bits and bobs and sugary snacks.  You have to admit it's quite a good thing to have a risotto freshly made for you to include some vegetables into your diet!  He's a lucky boy!

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Monster Mash - great for babies, toddlers and older kids

Ok, your kids might be off eating their body weight in sweets tonight, let's sneak in some vegetables before they go...

Quick Mulled Wine (adults only of course!)

This is a quick, one person cup of mulled wine.  The evenings are drawing in and it always seems to me that there is one person who doesn't like mulled wine too much (or insist it's a drink for Christmas only and it's only allowed in December) so this is a quick recipe without feeling like you need to make a full bottle worth.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Mini Pumpkin Pies for the Whole Family

Have you got a pumpkin you're thinking about carving?  What are you going to do with the flesh?  I have made a large pumpkin pie in the past but I wasn't totally happy with it.  I was listening to the Daily Mayo podcast the other day and they had a Mark Hix recipe for pumpkin pie.  Now this recipe is not it.  In fact it's so far from Mark Hix's recipe, it's difficult to see how I was inspired by it but inspired I was, just as I was listening I thought "I'd change that, I'd add vanilla, I'd change the sugar, I'd change the pastry, I'd make smaller versions, I'd add the spice later" so sorry Mark.  I am just someone who likes to tinker (and I wanted to make it as low in sugar as possible).

So this is what I came up with.  I should have made more pastry because I had at least 40% of the mix left so I could have made way more.  My son had his mouth full of his second tart and said "mudemmatofnaous".  

As we are trying to encourage good manners with my 2 year old I explained how he should finish his mouthful before chatting, then I said; "what where you trying to say?"

"Mummy, it delicious!"

Praise indeed!  Now the observant of you will notice this isn't sugar free as many of my baking recipes are but bearing in mind I didn't use a sweet pastry and my miscalculation with the filling there is no more than a tsp of added sugar per tart but they were still very sweet and the muscovado flavour shone through.  Trust me some yoghurts aimed at kids have far more so I don't feel too guilty.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Soda Bread with Spinach and Thyme

Despite the fact I've worked in the bakery industry, I've never made soda bread.  I've made scones which are basically a sweetened soda bread but I have no idea why I'd not made that step.

I mixed it up a bit by adding in some hidden vegetable (spinach, I do like a hidden vegetable) and some herbs.  Completely non traditional so feel free to miss them out.  I also used yoghurt when buttermilk is the traditional ingredient but not all that easy to find, at least not near me.

Soda bread relies on chemical production of carbon dioxide rather than biological methods.  Bicarbonate of soda (sodium hydrogen carbonate) produces carbon dioxide, water and some kind of salt when it reacts with an acid.  As it then cooks in the oven and the structure of the flour around it sets, the holes are captured.  That said, it's not as light as a well made sponge and dough traditional loaf but it is still good and great if you're on a thrifty mission (you can pick up bags of plain flour for peanuts) or if the cupboards are bare.

I have to be honest and say I'm not a fan of the flavour of bicarbonate of soda, I find it gives an astringency which I find off putting but I think I'm just sensitive to it.  That said, I will have a play with this recipe and see if I can reduce the bicarb or hide that flavour.  That all said, it was still pretty yummy and making bread from scratch in 45 minutes can't be bad (you're reading about someone who makes sourdough here so I believe in long bread making processes most of the time!)

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

No Added Sugar Flapjacks - kid friendly

I was inspired to look again at my flapjack recipe I posted a while back by Ramshackle Mama.  I was never 100% happy with it, it's far too difficult to blend the dates for a start so I've had another look and tried a few different ingredients.  I think this is an improvement and got the thumbs up from my son and my husband.  A great and filling snack too for people trying to avoid refined carbohydrates.  Also it's possible to make it vegan by swapping the butter for margarine.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Braised Red Cabbage for the Whole Family (sugar free)

Most red cabbage recipes contain quite a lot of sugar, although they are lovely and tasty, I wanted to see if I could make a recipe without using added sugar.  The results, if I do say so myself, are pretty good and a great idea for kids.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

My favourite spinach recipes for kids!

Popeye had it right, spinach is a great and healthy food but getting it into a child is difficult right?  Nope!

I was looking through my blog recently and had a realisation that my son eats a lot of spinach.  This might be a shocking realisation to other mothers of two year olds but I'm not talking about feeding him floppy green mush alongside his sausage and mash, no, I use spinach a lot in recipes and I thought I'd share some ones I've published over the past couple of years and you might have missed.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

"Mac and Cheese" with Vegetables for the Whole Family

My son isn't well.  He's got chicken pox bless him and he's feeling grotty.  So what do I do?  I make spotty pasta with peas in it!  Poor thing.  I hope he didn't think Mummy was taking the mickey.  My thought was comforting food.

Ok, so this isn't macaroni.  I didn't have any, and I didn't have any penne to even make it look like macaroni.  But to be fair, I hate macaroni and my husband has a pathological hatred for mac and cheese.  It's a textural thing I think.  Generally I'm not a fan because it has no real nutritional value and I hate those 'healthy' mac and cheese recipes with sliced tomatoes.  Yuk.

So this isn't Mac and Cheese but it does have pasta, it does have cheese but I've changed it.  Ok, it's more of a pasta bake really but it's not a tomatoey pasta bake so it is different.

Self justification over...

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Fruity Prune Muffins

I have to be honest, prunes had too much of a healthy reputation for me to give them a go but I tried a pack of ready to eat (rehydrated) prunes recently and they are surprisingly tasty and have such big natural sweetness so I gave them a go in a muffin.

I'm not convinced this is perfected yet but my son seemed to like them.  Try to get the prune pieces small so you get a few in each mini muffin otherwise some bites won't be sweet enough.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Great kid's breakfasts

"Breakfast like a king!  Lunch like a prince.  Dine like a pauper."  My mum used to say this proverb when we were young and certainly I would agree that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  It's important, especially for kids, because it might be 14 hours or so since they last ate.  Kids have growing bodies and brains and that needs fuel.

It is a shocking statistic that some primary schools have 25% of pupils who arrive not having eaten breakfast, not because they are in breakfast clubs but because the home supply of food is erratic.

Some adults skip breakfast thinking they're saving calories but on the days I have done it, I always regret it.  I end up snacking instead not feeling too guilty about it because I've not had breakfast.  It's only at the end of the day I realise how many extra calories I've eaten.

What's even more surprising is if you look at some of the breakfast cereals marketed at children.  We do have some sweetened cereals in our house but a mouthful of chocolate based cereal has never passed my son's lips.  I mean, what is the point in feeding your child something like that?  Even for the cereals which aren't as sugary as you might think, why do you want to train kids to need this?  I've looked at one major brand and of the 85% carbohydrate it contains, 35% are simple sugars which will make blood sugar peak very quickly and crash back down again leaving you hungry late morning.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not always giving my son wholemeal foods but something that sugary is surely not great?

So here is my list of favourite foods for my son's breakfast and mine.  Not all of them are weekday foods, not all of them are all that virtuous but they are all yummy, interesting and made with love.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Wholemeal Apple Pancakes

They say necessity is the mother of invention, well the cupboards are a bit bare but I really fancied pancakes for breakfast so this is what I came up with.  Things are very, very tough in the Mamacook household and in the absence of someone to look after me today, sometimes you have to do a bit of looking after for yourself.

I think half and half wholemeal self raising to self raising is best but do a bit of trial and error.  Also remember wholemeal is more filling than white so you probably won't need as many as you would have had of the old pancake recipe.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Mini Yorkshire Puddings for Babies and Toddlers

Yorkshire puddings (for those outside the UK) are normally served with Sunday lunch (traditionally beef joints) to make the meat go a bit further.  They're made from a simple egg, flour and milk batter cooked in oil or dripping.  Now that might not sound that tasty to the uninitiated but it's like saying a pancake is boring, of course it isn't and it's all about what you serve it with.  I like to serve mine with a good beef stew.  For a start it's way cheaper to make a beef stew than a joint of roast beef but also there's loads of lovely gravy for soaking up with the Yorkshires.  Think about it as the English version of the French obsession of wiping their plates with bread and I think you get the idea.  It's not about the flavour of the pudding itself, it's about what you mop up with it.

Now I'm not Northern.  I can do mighty tall Yorkshires and some people might look at these and think they're a bit disappointing but they are deliberately made toddler sized.  I used a small, shallow fairy cake tin.  You can use one big tin, muffin tins, cupcake tins etc. but all of them will be bigger and so require longer cooking times so keep that in mind.  Probably not the time for silicone bakeware, apart from the fact they are often only stable up to 230oC, the idea of hot fat in a wobbly 'tin' is the stuff of nightmares.

Two rules for Yorkshires:

1.  Get the pan really really hot

2.  Once you put the pan in the oven to cook, resist the urge to take a peak until near the end of the cooking time or they will collapse.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Our Favourite Vegetarian Meals

Anyone who knows me in real life will know I'm about as far from being vegetarian as it's possible to be.  BUT I do like tasty vegetarian food and I seem to attract a surprising number of vegetarians as friends.

So, after having a bout of insomnia and reviewing some recipes there were a few I thought "oh that was great" and "I'll have to make that again" most of which were vegetarian.  So here are my top 10 meals where you really don't miss the meat...

Mutter Paneer.  I first made this for a couple of friends who came round and had a curry night.  I toned it down a touch to make it toddler friendly but a hit with even my meat loving husband.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Slow Cooked Creamy Pork

So back to the recipes...

I love slow cooked pork at the moment.  There is something about cooking pork in a slow cooker that intensifies the 'porky' flavour.

This recipe is based upon one from the good food website.  I have changed it a bit and made it a touch more kid friendly and cheaper.  Also it's now cooked in a slow cooker so it's something that doesn't need fussing with once it's on.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Chicken, Stuffing and Butternut Squash Pie for the Whole Family

Well I did say in my previous post that chestnut stuffing rocks in leftovers right?  Absolutely.  This is my favourite way to use it.  The butternut squash is a recent addition but I have to say I liked it, as it absorbed loads of chicken-y flavour in the pie.

That said, you could make this the ultimate leftovers dish if you liked and you could use cooked veg leftover from your sunday roast?

Monday, 24 September 2012

Chestnut Stuffing

Shhh.  Don't tell my mum I've shared this recipe...

When I was little, Christmas Day meant presents.  I was an annoying child for Santa and my poor parents though, I never really knew what I wanted.  So, every year, realising that knowing what you were getting anyway was a bit rubbish, I would ask for a "surprise".  I'm sure my parents looked at each other with forced smiles at my letter for Santa saying through gritted teeth "that's great honey, we'll just let Santa know to get his thinking cap on..."

I would love to say I'd grown up into an easier adult but frankly it's not true.  I love thinking really deeply about what someone might like for a present, what makes them tick.  I don't get it right every time but when I do, I love the feeling.  I love the feeling more than I love getting presents because, let's face it, I'm a difficult person to buy for.  So that's why I love Christmas, the sense of surprise but also the joy of getting presents for people that they never would have thought of asking for but actually are perfect for them.

After presents though was the joy of Christmas lunch.  For breakfast I would only eat grapefruit so my stomach would be rumbling come 2pm for the joy of Turkey, chipolatas, potatoes, brussels sprouts (picked that morning), carrots, peas, turkey liver wrapped in bacon, parsnips and of course, chestnut stuffing.  It was a once a year treat.  My mum would start the night before by roasting the chestnuts in the oven and getting me and my sisters to peel them.  Even though it was really annoying and the skin got under your nails, it was worth it knowing what you'd be eating tomorrow.

Nowadays, as with everything, we are kind of spoiled.  You can buy ready cooked, ready pureed chestnuts in a tin (which, shhh, I actually think makes better stuffing than whole chestnuts).  It does mean that a once in a year treat becomes a once every 2 months or so joy.  Is it diminished because of that?  Maybe a little, perhaps all things are diminished slightly when they are more accessible but it is still a wonderful thing and a very tasty thing.  I first made this for my son for Christmas 2011 when he was 18 months old.  He had a little pot of it just to himself (because he was going to be napping during Christmas lunch).  To say he loved it may have been understating things...  I love the fact I'm now passing on a love of another food close to my heart to my son.

I am not great at carving joints as you can tell...

Friday, 21 September 2012

Pepper, Onion and Goats Cheese Tart

I have to be honest and admit my son didn't have any of this but only because he was in bed.  I think he'd like although I'd have to watch out for him picking the cheese off the top and just eating that (he does love his cheese).

Anyway even if the kids don't get any, it's a very simple teatime dish, especially if you get ready rolled pastry and most of the prep can be completed in advance.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Guest Post: Chicken and Butter bean Casserole

Things are hectic in the Mamacook household.  As many of you know, there have been some problems going on of late and things have been stressful and busy.  As a result, I have gratefully accepted the offer of a guest post from the lovely Best of 2 Sisters.

I was honoured to be given a few options on what I'd like them to cook for us and chose this because it sounded like something my son would love and seemed great for the increasingly chilly days.  I hope you enjoy too and also take a look at their blog, which has fantastic photography I think you'll agree.  And so without further ado, may I hand you over to Louisa and Camilla Best of 2 Sisters:


Monday, 17 September 2012

Spinach and Goats Cheese Cannelloni

I'm very tired.  I had the amazing gift of a day off being a Mummy on Saturday so I went to London to see the Preraphaelite exhibition at Tate Britain.  It was an amazing experience.  So many paintings I thought I knew well but seeing them in real life felt like poetry.

So after a full day on Saturday making a roast dinner felt like the last thing I wanted to do on Sunday and something about tiredness brings out the creativity in me so I came up with this off the top of my head.  I have to say even if I'm blowing my own trumpet, it was a success.  The wee man ate two cannellonis and half a slice of garlic bread all on his own occasionally looking up to say "hmmm".

What's best though is apart from this being a cheap meal (as meals without meat often are), it's delicious and it contains at least four hidden vegetables which are great for you; spinach, tomatoes, pepper and carrots.  Perfect for the little (or big) fusspot in your life.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Top 10 Great recipes for your family from your freezer

What is it about autumn which starts you thinking about filling up the freezer?  Perhaps it's a throwback to the times of plenty; harvest time and the bottling, curing, drying and preserving which would have gone on then.  Whatever it is, at this time of year I dust off the slow cooker, start soaking pulses and buying big packs of beef mince.

In that vein, I thought I'd do a bit of a summary on recipes I know freeze brilliantly, those recipes where it's really worth making double and having a night off later!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Broccoli and Ham Pasta

It would be wrong of me to call this 'carbonara' but that was the inspiration for this recipe.  It is pretty far removed from the original but still retains that creamy deliciousness.  Like all the best carbonara recipes (in my humble opinion), this might taste creamy but contains no cream so as the only dairy is from hard mature cheese, some lactose intolerance sufferers may be able to get their creamy pasta fix from this as a result.  Definitely good enough for adults and enthusiastically devoured by my 2 year old.

This isn't one for babies though because the eggs are lightly cooked, make sure you use Lion eggs but still there is a small risk.  Also the salt is a little high but fine for a toddler portion.  The recipe below is for what I would call an 'average' adult appetite and a toddler bowl, it's not a huge bowlful but something about carbonara makes it pretty filling I think.  Add more pasta though if you know you're really hungry.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Crispy Baked Paprika Chicken for the Whole Family

Suitable for toddlers upwards and maybe younger, this is a way of getting really crisp chicken pieces without frying.

I'd seen a few American recipes using corn flakes as a coating for chicken and Annabel Karmel sometimes uses corn flakes or rice krispies.  I've taken that idea and made a dish suitable for the whole family.  If you wanted to make it just for adults, maybe include a bit of chilli into the coating.  If you're concerned your little ones might find the flavour a bit full on, reduce the amount of smoked paprika and miss out the chilli and mustard (or some variation of that).

Friday, 7 September 2012

Lunchtime inspiration

The kids are back at school or you and your partner are back at work, I know what it's like, it's difficult to get out of the rut of having cheese sandwiches every day so here are a few ideas to liven up that lunchbox whether it's for your child or anyone else!  You all deserve a decent lunch, it's that little moment for you in the middle of the day!


Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Ginger Parkin (or thank you for babysitting)

It was my birthday recently and the weekend before my in laws babysat at short notice so I could get out for the evening.  To say "thank you" to my Yorkshire born Father in law, I made some ginger parkin.

This is not the traditional recipe as that contains oats but this is adapted from how my mum made it so apologies if it's not authentic.  Ounces first because this is how the recipe was written, it's pretty old...

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Mushroom Stroganoff for kids

This is loosely based on this recipe from the good food website but I've made a few changes to make it my own.

My son loves mushrooms, along with prawns he'd eat them for every meal if I let him.  I'd had the idea of making a mushroom stroganoff for him for a while but never attempted it, to be honest knowing what he's like I was worried it would be too bland but with some tweaks to this recipe it really wasn't, if perhaps it was a bit redder than normal recipes due to all the paprika but tasty!

I served it with rice but all the mushrooms were eaten and the rice was ignored.  I think he's on some "why should I eat rice unless it's got interesting bits in it" vibe at the moment.  Well who can blame him I guess?

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Spicy Sausages with Cous Cous for the Whole Family

I bought some sausages from Grasmere Farm at the weekend and I felt inspired to make something with a North African vibe to go with them.  I should point out this isn't a sponsored post, I certainly pay for every banger I buy from Grasmere but I happily do so.  They are the best sausages I have ever tasted, not full of fillers and fat like a lot of commercial sausages can be but a real quality product.  They do mail order too if you're not based in the midlands and can't get to one of their shops or farmers markets they frequent.

I saw the 'Zouk' sausages for sale (unfortunately not currently available on their website) and thought I'd give them a go.  Subtly spiced with paprika and lots of other lovely goodies, they went a treat with this cous cous recipe but if you can't get hold of them, merguez sausages are also lovely.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Mutter Paneer for the whole family

If you've never tried paneer it might seem a bit odd to put cheese in a curry but bear with me.  Yes I am serious about putting cheese with spices and yes it does work.

For all of you doubters out there, think about halloumi and how well that works when cooked and with spicy ingredients.  In fact the taste of paneer is a lot like halloumi, not to put you off but there is a hint of squeakiness about it but that firm texture works really well in a curry.

I first had paneer when travelling around India.  In India I had some of the best and worst food I think I've ever had but the paneer was in the first category along with the traditional breads like chapattis and paratha and yoghurts.  I just think if I decided one day to become a vegetarian I could happily live on Indian food without missing meat too much.  My husband described this as "delicious" and said that it solved one of those issues for him with a lot of vegetarian food at not just being mush with that lovely firmness of the cheese.  I also like chickpeas (garbanzo beans) for making a vegetarian curry with texture.

Oddly if you ever see paneer on a restaurant menu, it is often described as "cottage cheese" which in the UK anyway means a disgusting lumpy bland concoction, absolutely nothing like paneer.  If you can't find paneer, there are recipes out there to make it on the internet.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Skordalia for the whole family

Hey, I'm not Greek so this is probably really inauthentic.  What I know about this dip come spread come side dish is it's always garlicky, it's a bit like hummus but not quite.  Sometimes it's made with potato, bread or other bulking foods.  I've made it here with split peas which you can pick up from the supermarket for pence.  Whatever the origins, I like it and I enjoy it.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Prawn and Broccoli Pie - Great for babies, toddlers and adults

This is a great one for older babies and toddlers.  Some hidden vegetables and a thick cheesy sauce.  Great for parents too because not only is it tasty, the ingredients are pretty cheap too.  No need to splash out on the priciest prawns.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Courgette Salad for Grown Ups

This was an impromptu salad put together from fridge ingredients.  I have to be honest and say if I'd had parmesan, that's what I would have used but I didn't unfortunately but the upside is by using a good strong cheddar, it was vegetarian (as parmesan contains animal rennet) and so it's suitable for most people.

My son had some of this, ate the cheese, had a bit of a nibble on some courgette but generally was more into the cheese so perhaps more of an adult recipe.  A great dish though for lunch boxes (just put the dressing in a different pot until you're ready to serve) and a different way of serving courgettes for all of you lucky people who have loads and aren't looking at little tags in the ground marking the place the plant used to be before the slug attack like some kind of vegetable tombstone :'(