Friday, 27 December 2013

Simple Baked Southern Fried Chicken

Ok, sorry to remind you but we're approaching New Year and the time for those resolutions.  What will yours be this year?  Lose weight?  Stop smoking?

Have you ever noticed how resolutions are always about what we don't want rather than what we do want?  That's a bad thing because we're not wired that way.  Don't think about a pink elephant.  Go on, think about ANYTHING else apart from pink elephants.  Don't think about it.  You're thinking about it aren't you?  You can't help yourself!

Anyway, in general, I'm always of the opinion that a bit of what you actually fancy is better than 101 diet products.  Let's face it, if you buy diet biscuits, you eat more biscuits don't you?  Go on, we all know the truth...  So although I'm not a huge fan of dieting per se, I also managed to lose quite a lot of weight in the last two years.  You didn't know that about me did you?  I am now a shadow of my former UK size 16/18 self and am now a comfortable size 12, size 10 in Fat Face or White Stuff on a good day with a fair wind behind me (and size 8-10 in US terms which is even better!)

I can't pretend that I'm healthy all of the time either.  It's not true.  I do exercise but I also occasionally eat chips and, very occasionally, fried chicken.  But that said, I can't bring myself to actually fry chicken at home, I can feel my arteries hardening at the thought and there is something a bit gross about the extreme fattiness of it.  If I ever do buy fried chicken (from a certain well known High Street chain), I always drain it on the paper towels to make it a bit less greasy before eating.

So this recipe is good all round.  Lower in fat but also much less greasy which is a good thing and makes it tastier.  No frying smells to stink out the house and you can feel slightly more virtuous for having your cake (or chicken) and eating it!  Just don't eat 10 pieces because it's 'healthier'!

Monday, 23 December 2013

Simple salt free poultry stock and how to make gravy

It's Christmas Eve Eve (i.e. the 23rd) and I picked up our goose yesterday from Seldom Seen farm.  Yes, goose is an extravagance but even at the pampered free range prices you're looking at less than £3 per portion for each meal we will eat it for.  You can't even get a meal in a Toby carvery for that!

So we're having goose but even if we have turkey I always make stock a day or two in advance.  I've been warned though that although you get masses of fat (great for roast potatoes) juices can be a bit thin on the ground with a goose so I'm making some stock.

Chicken stock

Stock is stupidly easy to make.  Think about it as bones and water and you get the idea.  At other times of year I make stock from left over roast bones (especially chicken) but for Christmas it gets a bit special, albeit not expensive.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

How I decorated my Christmas cake (and I'm rubbish at this kind of stuff)

I'm no sugar crafter.  You will see this from my results but although an amateur, I am quite pleased with how my cake turned out this year and the big secret was, it was so easy.

There is no hard stuff here but I'll give it to you with all the short cuts...  You don't even need an icing bag!

Monday, 16 December 2013

Vegetable fritters - great for babies and toddlers on finger foods

After making my sweetcorn fritter recipe; I was determined there must be a good vegetable fritter recipe in me.  Look, I know courgettes (zucchini) aren't terribly seasonal at this time of year but they are still available in the shops and I'm sure you could substitute for another ingredient if you prefer.

This made a lovely, soft, pancake like texture which would be great for babies first finger foods, either alongside traditional weaning or as part of baby led weaning.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

No added sugar, nut free Granola

I find commercial granolas a bit too sweet if I'm honest and although my son loves things like this for breakfast, they're also pretty expensive and, as a three year old, there is still a choking risk on larger nuts.  Not of course if you make it yourself and control what goes in!  This is refined sugar free!

Home made granola

I have to be totally honest and say the chunks weren't all as quite as big as I would have liked but I suspect I might have to add more honey to make that happen.  There were some satisfyingly large bits though and a tasty and pretty healthy option for breakfast.

This should be for over 1's only due to the honey but also be guided by your child and their ability to chew the delicious chunky bits!  My son has been eating things like this since he was around 2 years old.

Nut free granola

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Turkey Sliders for all ages

A slider, so I'm told is a small burger.  I've mixed these up by making them with turkey (seasonal) but also sneaking in some hidden vegetables (why not) and a bit of spice!  These are super easy and healthy because they're made with white meat and baked not fried.

I do have a bit of love for sweet chilli sauce.  Although when my son was under 1 I diligently avoided giving him sugar as much as possible, I eased up as he got older.  Sweet chilli as an ingredient is a great way to introduce some gentle spicing in a way that is more predictable than using a small amount of chilli.


He tried some of my sliders with sweet chilli sauce but on balance preferred his served with ketchup.  Had I got any in the house, I would have served these with baked sweet potato wedges but I didn't so I served with cooked carrot sticks instead.  Might seem a bit strange but he loved it!

Friday, 29 November 2013

Mushroom and Bacon Frittata

I started off making frittatas just for me and my son but it's a sign of a recipe which is a pretty good one when I start making it for myself when he's already in bed!

Another frittata recipe.  Yes, I know, but they are good value, delicious, great warm or cold and a fantastic way to include both eggs and vegetables in your diet.  For some reason my body was craving eggs and mushrooms today and I went with it.  I didn't twig until I'd finished my meal how I'd chosen two foods high in dietary vitamin D.  What could I be craving?  Sunshine of course.  Now the nights are drawing in, our bodies aren't seeing the light so much so what could be better?

Monday, 25 November 2013

Baked Cherry Custard

This isn't a sugar free recipe but at only 2 tsp added sugar per portion and a step towards your five a day, it's not terrible!

I started trying to think of a custard recipe, then thought "what fruit could I include" and before I knew it, it was almost a clafoutis except a gluten free one.  Best served warm or cold not hot.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Chicken Tray Bake, a thrifty meal for the family

A whole chicken is a great thing.  It can provide multiple meals like chicken pasta bake, orzotto, soup, pie, even more pie etc, etc.

But that said, not everyone wants or needs a whole chicken.  Sometimes it's a bit daunting as well for some people to get to grips with a roast (even if it's one of the easiest things to cook in my opinion).  So this is a roast for extreme novices and also handy for people on limited budgets.

Any vegetables which roast well would work here.  Just make sure you cut them to a suitable size so they cook in the time.  The longer a vegetable takes to cook, the smaller you cut it.  If you cut it too small, it might collapse a bit (like my butternut squash did here) but it's still tasty.

Don't add any oil to the vegetables, there is some fat which cooks out of the chicken which makes them taste yummy.

Chicken Tray Bake

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Child friendly Prawn Laksa

Laksa isn't an obvious choice for a preschooler but why not?  Most kids I know are fans of prawns and noodles.

I've toned this all down a bit to make it friendly for kids who aren't big fans of spice.  Although my son does have more spice in his food than he sometimes realises, last time his Dad cooked him a curry, he was less then keen and apparently ended up eating fish fingers so I went gentle (but noticeable) on the spicing here.

He looked at it.  Said "I don't think I like that"
I said "Have you tried a prawn?"
He said "Ooh, no"
Has a couple of bites, then starts eating the mushrooms and noodles.  I'm trying to photograph my portion while my stomach is rumbling because it smells pretty good (I'm not one of those food bloggers who cooks to photograph, I cook to eat.)
"Mummy this is yummy"
And indeed it was :-)

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Borlotti bean, bacon and vegetable soup

It's soup season.  I've called it.  Over the past few weeks I've been grabbing a pack of soup from the freezer and heating it up at work.  It's like a warming cuddle in my day.  Not that I often get bored of tomato and pesto soup, but a bit of variety is good and although this contains bacon, it also contains a lot of lovely fibre.

Borlotti bean soup

Monday, 11 November 2013

Onion Bhajis for Toddlers and Grown ups

Onion bhajis or pakoras; is there a more convenient finger food?  They are so ridiculously easy and cheap to make yourself too and you can mix up the type of vegetables in them.  Here I've included a bit of carrot.

My son liked them but only the bits with smaller onion pieces, he found the long bits a bit stringy.  Next time I might make them with more finely chopped or grated vegetables.  He was a big fan of the spicy yoghurt dip though which surprised me.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Spinach and Potato Bites, great for babies and toddlers

I was out running this morning, as you do, and thought about something my Mum used to cook for us sometimes.  In retrospect I suspect it was a way to use up excess mashed potato but it was something I loved.  If I'm honest I was never a big fan of mashed potato on it's own and this mixed it up a bit.

So I made them smaller, added spinach and made these.  They were a big hit with my son.  I gave him 6 and he ate them all first off his plate, even before the fish fingers I served them with and he does love fish fingers (well we all need some time off).

This would be great as a first finger food.  They're still soft when baked.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Low Sugar Mini Cherry Tarts - Great for kids or grown ups

I'm showing my age now, the urge to type "damn fine cherry pies" was very strong.

As I said in my last post, I promised to write up a recipe for the pastry leftovers.  Because I don't know how much pastry you might have, the quantities are per tart.  Please adjust for the number you have!

This isn't sugar free.  Jam is laden with sugar but there is around 1-1.5 tsp jam per tart and only half of that is sugar, not massive amounts of sugar at all, much less than a commercial tart.

Damn fine cherry pie

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Chicken and Mushroom Pies

There is something great about chicken leftovers.  Something which is almost better than the original chicken (almost, I'm a sucker for crispy skin).  The other great thing about making your own pies is you can just stick with pastry on the top which cuts down on the refined carbs and fat and you can include some vegetables (or fungi) in the sauce.

Chicken pie

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Broccoli frittata for babies, toddlers and the whole family

I'm in a frittata place at the moment.  Blimey, how middle class does that sound?  It shouldn't.  Frittatas are so cheap to make and they're a great way to get vitamin D in the diet and also include some hidden vegetables.  Great for the reluctant vegetable eater in your life (although perhaps chop up a little smaller so they don't see them!)

Monday, 21 October 2013

Gingerbread men

...or considering the time of year... Gingerbread Mummies!!!

halloween biscuits

I posted a recipe for Gingerbread men a while back (or ninja bread men, I do like a play on words!)  This though is adapted to give a lighter result which is less dominated by anything other than the ginger flavour.  I found the treacle in the old recipe tended to drown out the spicy warmth.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Anchovy and Broccoli Pasta

I started this blog to get a bit of myself back while I was on maternity leave but one thing I didn't expect was how it would push me to be more creative with my son's food.  One thing I'm very bad at though is cooking just for myself.

If there are other people around I'll go to huge amounts of effort and, don't get me wrong, I do enjoy cooking but I also have 30 hours of work to do in an average day and I kind of like to get some sleep.  The amount of times I've slung some oven chips in while cleaning up or doing an exercise video.  It's not good.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Ham, Spinach and Courgette Frittata Fingers - great for babies and children

This got a very excited greeting by my little boy.  Little does he know the hidden vegetables contained inside!

Ham, Spinach and Courgette Frittata

Another sneaky Mamacook recipe to hide some vegetables into your child's meal.   Keep offering them alongside too though, just think of them as your insurance policy!  My son devoured this with some broad beans from the freezer and some cooked carrot sticks.   Clean plates all round!  I'd be tempted to say that leftovers would be great in packed lunches but there weren't any!

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Cheap eats; thrifty recipes for end of the month

I've been thinking a lot about Jamie Oliver's approach to cheap meals recently and I think he has a good point.  A roast can yield a lot of meals, cheap cuts can be really tasty.  What disappointed me though was when I saw his interpretation of 'cheap'.  Many of his recipes are aimed at £2 a head.  Yeah, cheap if you buy ready meals but not cheap if you're on jobseekers allowance, what's more when MSN tested it, they couldn't make them as cheaply.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not a religiously cheap cook but I do believe in thrift.  My parents brought me up this way, not to be wasteful.  They grew all their own fruit and vegetables and when you've invested that much time, it's worth respecting them.  As I said in my post about Jamie Oliver's approach it's not just about overall cost, sometimes when you pay less for something you respect it less.

It doesn't have to be this way though.  I would say that one of the cheapest, most filling ingredients there is, lentils, is impossible to cook without respecting it.  They take 20-45 minutes to cook.  Ok, not quick but sometimes slow is good, slow makes you think about what you're eating and, let's face it, it's not that slow, it's not necessarily food you have to be stood over poking and prodding for the whole time!

So in answer to the £2 a head meal, I've costed out some recipes for you for the price of an adult portion.  Remember even if my recipe says "serves 2" and you're cooking for one it might be worth making the full amount (or even doubling it) to have some left over for lunchtime, freezing can give you some variety so you grab something from the freezer and head out.  It's so easy to spend £3 on lunch in even a subsidised canteen in the workplace or more in a coffee shop.  Over a year if you reduced that cost to £1, you could save £500 a year!

Monday, 30 September 2013

Slow Cooked Mexican Style Beef - Makes two meals

After my thrifty food posts and the weather becoming cooler, I thought I'd look at beef brisket again.  I mean I do love a good pot roast and love leftover cottage pie even more but woman cannot live by pot roast alone!

So I thought I'd mix up the flavours a bit and see if I could make a dish with a super easy leftover idea.

Friday, 27 September 2013

The BRAT diet for dodgy tummies

When I was little, I thought my Mum made me banana on toast as a treat when I was feeling poorly.  I was wrong.  She was being sneaky but with my best intentions in mind.

The idea is that BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast) is meant to stop the swirly tummy in it's tracks.

Well it wasn't my son, it was me.  And isn't it always the way that when you feel ill, the first thing you reach for is the food from your childhood?

So not so much a recipe, more a snapshot from my childhood.  My mum used to sprinkle with a little Demerara sugar on top.  I've used a touch of honey but miss out for children under 1.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

No Refined Sugar Breakfast Muffins; great for adults but also for kids

I have some 'cupcake' cases in the cupboard, bought in a moment when I actually needed fairy cake cases but picked up the wrong thing.  They were somewhere between a cupcake and a muffin in size, nearer a muffin so I decided to cook something more substantial to fill them.

Ok, they may look 'parent sized' but my son has a large appetite so he still ate two.  No refined sugar though which can't be bad.  Sorry, just for over 1 year olds though as under 1's can't eat honey.

Ooh, I've just realised while I was writing this up, this is dairy free!  Purely accidental!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Vegetarian Cottage Pie for all of the family

Sometimes you just need vegetables.  My son loved this!  He'd had a week of nothing really home made and was a touch bunged up if you don't mind me being crude so I was determined to get him a full on meal of delicious vegetables without either of us noticing we had no meat.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Quick Ginger Biscuits

My son had a hankering for some biscuits after nursery.  I must be mad because what do I do after a hard day at work?  I only go and make some!

Not masses of sugar here but certainly just treat food.  When they cool, they make a pretty crunchy biscuit but my son loves biscuits like that.  While still warm they're a bit softer so don't be surprised if they're still soft when you take them out of the oven.  This was a recipe from my mum but originally from my aunt.  The recipe was originally to use 1lb of flour!  That must have made 40 odd biscuits!  I know my son eats a lot but...

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Cheese and Onion Stuffed Jackets for the Whole Family

This was an improvised dish after I'd got some potatoes in the oven and I was determined to squeeze a small amount of vegetable into my son's diet (it had been 'one of those' days food wise) and I was a bit lacking in things 'suitable' for filling a jacket spud.

What is it as well that salad feels right with a regular jacket spud but if you then stuff it, boiled or steamed veg suddenly seems ok?  Not sure but I wanted to go down the boiled vegetables accompanying route so this is what I came out with.

Normally I make more 'interesting' food for my son but this was pure comfort food which somehow feels right for the autumn which seems to have come in with a bang rather than a whimper this year!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Porridge for Babies, Toddlers and Grown Ups

Why don't more people eat porridge?  I think part of the reason is people think it's difficult.  It's not at all but if you make it on the hob it makes no sense to cook it for 1 and the pan ends up pretty mucky.  Making it in the microwave solves all of that.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Soba Noodle Salad

I've not tried this with my son yet but he has similar dishes with hot noodles so I see no reason not to try.  Certainly a meal for adults though or older kids and despite the humble ingredients it's substantial enough to make you feel you've really eaten something.

Soba noodles are made with buckwheat.  They are often served chilled in Japan so having them in a salad isn't a big leap.  Buckwheat if pure, is gluten free.  If you are following a gluten free diet, make sure your noodles specifically say 'gluten free' and also check the sauces you're using.  Soy sauce would be more authentic but I only had fish sauce which makes this non vegetarian.  Substitute for Soy Sauce (or wheat free Tamari) if you prefer.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Day 4 and 5, no food shopping

So it's my 5th day of not shopping for food.  After Jamie Oliver's comments about the poor in society not having good, nutritious, cheap food more out of choice than necessity, I challenged myself.  On Monday I thought I needed to get an urgent food shop.  It's now Saturday and I've been eating pretty well without it.

On Tuesday I made dahl for lunch from the freezer and sausages (from the freezer) and home made coleslaw for tea.
On Wednesday I had leftovers and home made vegetarian lasagne.
On Thursday that lasagne was my lunch and I had beetroot and bacon soup for tea.
On Friday I finished the lasagne at lunchtime and reheated some spicy lamb meatballs with cous cous for tea.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Day 3 of raiding my cupboards; have I lost the plot? Has Jamie Oliver?

Something A Girl Called Jack said rang true.  Why are we so judgemental about people?  Why does it matter what people eat, what people spend their money on?  Doesn't the judging turn people off?  After my first post on Jamie Oliver's comments on what people on low incomes, it's interested me and I've started to think about it much more.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Were Jamie Oliver's comments patronising? Day two of no food shopping

I posted yesterday about Jamie Oliver's comments about poverty and food.  Although this seems to be courting controversy I do see his point.  I've always thought of myself as a pretty thrifty cook but for the rest of this week, despite thinking I desperately needed to do some food shopping, I'm just going to eat what I have in the house.

Having had more time to think about Jamie's comments.  Do I think they were patronising?  Perhaps a little but I do think it's something that needs to be said.  Junk foods are cheap but you can still cook deliciously and cheaply from scratch.  In traditional cultures across Europe, people did that (including the UK) but it does take some knowledge and experience.  Irrespective of Jamie's comments, it's not only the UK where that knowledge is being lost and it's harming our waistlines, our health and we're losing the joy of food.

For me though, thrifty cooking and joy need to be brought back together.  There are still places in the country where country fairs judge the best jams and chutneys.  These things were once made because there was no alternative available and to make use of the autumn glut and there are still people out there who take pride in these things.  We forget that there is a joy and a pride in food, irrespective of how humble it's origins.

Perhaps I would have liked it more if he talked about respect for food irrespective of your pay or upbringing rather than the size of a person's television but the point is no less valid.

He mentioned how cheap a mussel and pasta dish is, which is true, I've made something similar in the past myself but not many people have mussels in their shopping basket.  Perhaps they should but I suspect few know where to start.  The fact is though with a bit of knowledge you can make a meal out of lentils, eggs, bread, pasta, any of these things which might seem basic or boring and sometimes necessity shakes us out of our autopilot rut.  It doesn't have to be fancy to taste great.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Haricot Beans for Babies, Toddlers and the Whole Family

Haricot beans are the basic staple carbohydrate of some of France.  The great thing about them in comparison with potatoes is pulses can count as one of your five a day.  Although they aren't mass packed full of vitamins, they are a decent source of fibre and protein.

For babies, exclude the seasoning and use salt free or low salt stock.  This would be great for babies on soft lumps or you could mash or puree them for younger babies.  Don't miss out the garlic though.  Some babies might reject something so garlicky but if you don't try it, you won't know.  You could always tone it down a little if you like.

For adults, toddlers and older children, this is a great side dish for sausages; think of it like a deconstructed cassoulet.  For adults certainly, some seasoning would be welcome, salt seems to bring out the flavour of the garlic.

By using dried haricot beans, this is a super cheap dish.

Don't miss out the overnight soaking or boiling stage, it's important for food safety.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

My favourite apple recipes for kids

Apples aren't the most glamourous of fruits but they're one of the fruits we grow really well in the UK and they're great in sweet or savoury dishes.  Soon it's going to be apple season as we approach the autumn and I thought I'd share some of my favourite recipes.

My wholemeal apple pancake recipe might be appearing in a magazine soon which is kind of exciting! I will keep you posted...

With only a drizzle of honey (for over 1s) it's a great way to get fruit into breakfast time.  Bircher muesli is another great way to do this.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Easy Gazpacho for Grown Ups

An inauthentic gazpacho for people who can't get decent tomatoes!  It is the prerequisite to get decently ripe ones for a proper gazpacho, this is a sneaky and cheap way around it.

I've not tried my son on this yet, soup for a meal is a generally popular choice for him but cold soup... perhaps a stretch too far.  But this is delicious and easy.  Great to take for lunch and a healthy and quick summer dish for parents when you really are tired after bath-time.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Hidden Vegetable Sausage Rolls for the Whole Family

I've often said it's great to have a hidden vegetable recipe up your sleeve to ensure your kids are getting enough of their 5 a day.  All kids go through their fussy stages and vegetables are often the victim of it.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

How I got my son eating lettuce

My son is generally a reluctant salad eater.  He will eat coleslaw, occasionally some cucumber but anything leafy is a flat refusal on the salad front.

This got me thinking... what if I chop it smaller?  What I often say to people with fussy kids is to try cutting up the food or serving it in a different way.  I should say here, all parents think their kids are fussy sometimes and they'd be right.  All kids at least go through a fussy stage or have something they flat refuse.

So this was the outcome.  A few lettuce leaves, some cucumber, raw peas... mix this up how you like and you could even add some chopped apple if your child isn't much of a fan of savoury food.  Radish might be nice, as would grated broccoli stem (might sound odd but it tastes cabbagey).

Friday, 26 July 2013

'Creamy' Mushroom Tagliatelle for Toddlers

This is a very simple and not overly strongly flavoured pasta dish which might be pretty good for the pickier eaters among us.  Similar to my creamy mushroom pasta I posted as my very first recipe post but rather than cream cheese this uses eggs to create a creamy sauce.  This means it's a great source of vitamin D as eggs and mushrooms are two of the few dietary sources.

I say 'creamy' because this contains no cream, and so depending on the severity of the intolerance may be suitable for lactose intolerant kids (as hard cheese is low in lactose but not suitable for people with milk protein allergy); be guided by your medical practitioner.  The eggs are lightly cooked so not for under 12 month olds; use vaccinated 'Lion' eggs if in the UK.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Watermelon Ice Lollies Great for Toddlers

If I can encourage you to do one thing this summer, which is setting out to be a scorcher, is buy an ice lolly mould.  Ice lollies are so expensive to buy and often full of sugar, artificial food colourings and other stuff which isn't all that great for kids.

Much better is to make your own lollies out of fruit or fruit juice with a little added sugar if needed.  Even if you do add something to make it sweeter, it's still far more natural, lower in added sugar and can count towards their 5 a day!  In fact, one of these ice lollies contains 60g of fruit and only around half a teaspoon of added sugar.

So here is my latest ice lolly recipe.  My 3 year old said "I like pink lollies best" when he had one of these and was upset when I wouldn't give him one at 6:30pm because it was bath time!

Saturday, 13 July 2013

The Best Salads

I do like a good salad but when I was growing up, "salad" meant some cucumber, some little gem lettuce and a flavourless hard tomato, with salad cream if you were lucky.  Nowadays shops, palettes and awareness of alternatives have all caught up so the humble salad is now not quite so humble even if my son did say recently (while eating a piece of cucumber) "Girls eat salad!"

Salads are a great way to increase the amount of vegetables in your diet fairly easily.  There aren't many of us who manage 5 a day on a regular basis but put a salad in your lunchbag instead of a sandwich and you're well on your way.

Seeing the weather is unseasonably warm in the UK right now, I thought I'd share with you some of my favourite "more interesting" salad recipes.

My favourite has to be Goats Cheese Salad.  Goats cheese is pretty rich but the dressing and slight bitterness of the nuts offsets it nicely.

Also brilliant if you're trying to cut down on carbohydrates with lots of healthy oils in the olive oil and nuts.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Sausage Pasta for the Whole Family

I'd always been really nervous about cooking sausage pasta, too many memories of student meals made with value sausages but I was inspired by the Salsiccia Pasta at my local Italian Caffe to give it a go, this isn't an attempt to copy the recipe and anyway it's not a patch on the pasta Alison D'Angelo sells at Caffe Italia, but I hope she wouldn't be embarrassed by my efforts!

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Honey Digestive Biscuits - no refined sugar

I'd been thinking about making a simple, no nonsense, "no bad stuff" biscuit for a while and I'd had some attempts at making some sugar free.  If I'm honest though, I was never happy with them.  Unlike a cake, a sweet biscuit is very difficult to make without sugar.

After a few attempts though I settled on this recipe.  Not strictly sugar free because it contains honey but no refined sugars and pretty low in sugar overall.  Yet it's still sweet but in that sweet / slightly savoury way that digestive biscuits are which make them as at home with a cup of tea or with strong cheddar.

I was impressed and will make them again.  Just keep an eye on them, the temperatures and times are for my oven and after I overcooked a previous batch, I lowered the temperature to what you see below.  You want to take them out of the oven when they're just starting to colour and firming up.

Obviously due to the honey, these won't be suitable for kids under the age of 12 months.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Sausage Squishes for Babies and Toddlers

Hey you, kid who doesn't eat vegetables?  Yes, you!  You know who you are!

We all feel like that sometimes and I swear if you ask any Mum what an acceptable level of vegetables are and contrast it with your average child... I mean, I hate to generalise but "pork" is not a type of vegetable and "sausage" is not a food group!

I jest I jest.  I know not all kids are the same but we all need those recipes where you can squeeze in a bit of hidden vegetable goodness, just once in a while as an insurance policy.

These are kind of burgers, kind of patties or let's just face it "squishes".  Great finger food.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Spanish Chorizo with Haricot Beans for the whole family

This was inspired by a Spanish version of Cassoulet.  It's pretty rich but absolutely delicious as certified by my son loving it and eating all of his portion.

Ok, it's not the healthiest meal in the world but a dish full of haricot beans and garlic has some benefits.  Think small portions perhaps with salad or some fruit afterwards.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Ninja bread men for kids (or Gingerbread men)

My mother is my inspiration in life in general.  Incredibly intelligent she didn’t have the breaks in life nor the education.  At the time giving a woman an education was seen as a waste of time and money.  How much we have moved on.  I was lucky enough to have all the opportunities she didn’t and she encouraged and supported me through everything in life, every bump, every triumph, every disaster and here I am with two degrees a Dr of Chemistry and she still is far my superior.

It’s funny how we learn how to love and be loved first from our parents.  My Mum shows people she loves them through food and I have inherited this from her.  This was the first ever recipe I made with my son and I remember making it with my Mum when I was little.  I also handily got some cool “Ninja” bread man cutters from an online shop which I loved and so did my son but he made some hearts for me too.

This does make a very traditional, crisp gingerbread man with a strong ginger flavour which is how I had them when I was little.  If you prefer them a little softer, take them out a little earlier or it might be an idea to substitute the flour for self raising (they will spread though).  If you like a milder flavour, cut down on the ginger a little.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Tuna 'meatballs' for babies, toddlers and grown ups

Fish can be a hard sell for a lot of kids.  Partly it's flavour, then there's the bones and the look of it.  I was lucky though and for some unknown reason as soon as I had the chance to try fish, I loved it and ate it as much as I could.  I remember peeling prawns at the age of about 6 or 7.  I only hope I encourage my son to do the same because people who say "I don't like fish" are missing out.

We all know nowadays how important Omega 3 oils are in our diets and fish is a great source, especially oily fish like tuna.  Unfortunately unlike some other fish, tinned tuna doesn't have much in the way of Omega 3 but fresh or frozen does.  The great thing is about tuna is it does taste so meaty so if you really do have a reluctant fish eater on your hands, this could be the dish for you!

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Sweetcorn Fritters for babies, toddlers and even grown ups!

11:55am, he normally has his lunch at some point between 11:30 and 12.  Panic!  What on earth do I cook?  Considering Grandpa had given him a pack of cheese and onion crisps for his snack (thanks Grandpa) I wanted healthy!

So this is what I came up with from the contents of my fridge and freezer.  Not only did it make a meal out of simple vegetables, (served with peas and broccoli we were racking up our 5 a day) but with a bit of extra sweet chilli sauce for Mummy on top, it officially rocked!

My 3 year old ate two and a half and Mummy had three but the last half of his got dropped on the floor and it led to a HUGE meltdown because he'd lost it.  The sure sign of a well received recipe!

The sweet chilli sauce obviously introduces a bit of sugar and spice so miss out if you prefer for very little ones but it does add some interest.  I reckon this would be a cracking recipe for baby led weaners.

Sweetcorn Fritters serves 1 adult and 1 toddler


Friday, 31 May 2013

Vegetarian "Sausage" Rolls for the Whole Family

I'm not vegetarian but I do like my vegetables and I see no need to have meat in every meal.  There's something great about normal sausage rolls but there's also something a fatty about them too.  So why not do something vegetarian?

Well I gave it a go.  I loved them but the toddler was slightly less impressed (there was a pate sandwich in his eye line which was drawing his attention).  But I liked and will definitely make again.