Are you a fan of a Sunday roast? In our house it is a family tradition. It is the meal for which daddy is usually responsible; it is best not to leave the vegetarian in charge of roasting the meat – she may instead decide to serve a nut roast. This would cause a riot. Simon is relatively happy eating veggie once or so during the week, but would never choose to eat a vegetarian Sunday Dinner! There would probably be mutiny in the ranks if I served a vegetarian Sunday Dinner…
Pretty much my favourite part of a roast dinner is the roast potatoes. I seem to easily put away considerably more roast potatoes than seems logical or sensible even. They are just so comforting and warm. As you have probably already guessed from my previous posts we wholeheartedly encourage our children to help out in the kitchen and when I found some Minature Potatoes during my weekly shop, they set me thinking about mid-week roast potatoes . I walked around the supermarket with a grin fixed upon my face thinking about having roast potatoes on an non-Sunday. Smaller potatoes means less roasting time which is perfect for mid-week and with them being small they have the added bonus of appealing to the children.
The hands on time for this recipe is minimal. The youngest of little kitchen helpers could definitely manage this recipe under supervision. I gave my two boys the instructions and they proceeded and successfully executed it by themselves (once I had decanted the oil into a smaller vessel to pour it – I did not want to have to clean an oil spillage). You could make this recipe with new potatoes or any type of small potatoes. If you are unable to find small potatoes, you could even cut down larger potatoes. Please do remember that the larger the potato, the longer the roasting time. Yes I am stating the obvious, but just in case as these things do sometimes slip my mind…
When the boys made this, they only made enough for their dinner as us grown-ups tend to eat later. This recipe can easily be increased to make enough for a family roast. Don’t judge us, but we always make more roast potatoes than it seems our family could eat, but by the end of Sunday they have generally all disappeared. I am not at liberty to divulge who tends to gobble them up between meals, only that they are never wasted!
150g miniature potatoes
3tbsp olive oil
1tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp garlic salt
A couple sprigs of fresh rosemary/2tsp dried rosemary
Pepper to season
Preheat the oven to 180°c and get an oven proof dish.
Pour the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic salt and rosemary into a bowl and mix around. If you are using fresh rosemary, you will need to remove the rosemary leaves from the stalks and consider tearing large leaves in half.
Add the potatoes to the bowl and gently shake it from side to side (not up and down unless covered!) to ensure that all of the potatoes are coated in the oil mixture.
Add pepper to season the potatoes and mix again.
Pour the oil-coated potatoes into the oven proof dish and place in the oven for 35-45 minutes until they are tender. Ours took just under 40 minutes. They may well require turning to prevent them from getting too coloured on the top.
Sprinkle some salt on top before serving if you desire.
These were hit the spot and provided my midweek roast potato fix. They would also work really well if you have time restrictions on making your roast, or you are just somewhat impatient. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did. Our resident potato-hater managed one whole one and some of the insides of another – so maybe we are making potato progress!
I recently discovered how easy it is to make honeycomb, or cinder toffee if you prefer to call it that. Seb and I were rather mesmerized by how it bubbled and fizzed and had great fun smashing it!
After our foray into making cinder toffee, I decided to find something to do with the leftover honeycomb. I decided that it would work nicely in some blondies. Ophelia had a lot of fun mixing and putting the toffee into the mixture. I was impressed at how restrained she was as none of the toffee ended up in her mouth! These are really easy to make with little chefs as they contain melted butter which makes it really easy to mix entirely by hand. We did have rather a lot of flour on the surface during the process, but the result was a truly scrummy baked good. It was so tasty that Seb was heartbroken when daddy ate the last couple of pieces without saving him any. Simon was forbidden from taking the second batch into work after that reaction. This means I have to exercise some super human restraint and ignore them while he is at work. So if I do happen to be in your vicinity with baked goods, please do save me from myself and remove the baked goods from my possession – my waistline will thank you!
We also used this recipe to help Ophelia practise her egg cracking skills. The first one she watched me crack and then she had a go on her own. This time we had no egg shell in the mixture and a happy little girl with a round of applause from her mother and grandmother.
You don’t have to have homemade honeycomb for this recipe, you could use some chopped up Crunchie bars and that would also have the added benefit of adding chocolate to the recipe too. Now I have that idea in my head, I may have to go and make another batch of them with Crunchie bars. If you do want to have a go making your own honeycomb, I have left a recipe at the end of this post.
240g plain flour
300g golden caster sugar
225g melted butter
1/2tsp baking powder
160g cinder toffee or Crunchie bars
Preheat the oven to 170°c or 150°c fan and line a brownie pan.
Mix the melted butter and sugar until fully combined.
Add in the eggs and vanilla and beat.
Put the flour, baking powder and salt and mix together.
Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until smooth.
Add the honeycomb and mix.
Put the mixture in the lined brownie pan and cook for 30-35 minutes.
Once cooled sprinkle with sifted icing sugar and cut into squares.
These blondies will not win any prizes in a beauty contest, but the honeycomb caramelised beautifully and rises to the top giving a sort of irregular patchwork effect. They have become a new family favourite particularly with Simon and Seb.
If you want to make your own honeycomb, you will need:
400g caster sugar
100ml runny honey
2tbsp liquid glucose
1.5tsp bicarbonate of soda
Put the sugar, honey and glucose in a heavy-based pan and heat to 160°c. Oil a square cake pan with oil . Once the sugar mixture has reached 160°c remove from the heat and quickly add the bicarbonate of soda and whisk. Adult, pour into cake pan and once set smash. We used one of the kids wooden hammers for this.
Do you ever find that dinner is a battleground? It often comes to dinner and I am wondering why the children aren’t grateful for the food I have lovingly prepared them. There are some evenings when I just take the path of least resistance and end up feeding the children pesto pasta even if they have already had it once in the week as it is a crowd pleaser in his house.
Now we have made pesto several times with the kids, but always the traditional basil and pine nut pesto. Since the children have decided they also like red pesto, I thought we would try and make some with a jar of red peppers I had lurking in the pantry. We added some walnuts and fresh rosemary from our garden – yes the rosemary bush seems to be taking over again. Red pesto generally has a sweeter taste than its green counterpart, so if your kids haven’t tried pesto, it is a good one with which to introduce its flavour and texture.
Atticus chopped the peppers with a table knife, but Ophelia decided that using her hands to tear them apart was preferable to trying to use the knife in this instance. I wasn’t going to complain as she was doing a really good job this way and the result was the same.
The children enjoyed this pesto with pasta, but also as the sauce on tortilla wraps for homemade pizzas. I definitely love how versatile pesto is. In all honesty, both Atticus and Ophelia would have eaten it out of the jar with a spoon had the opportunity arisen!
1 jar roasted red peppers, drained weight 360g
2 cloves of garlic
30g grated parmesan
125ml olive oil
2 large sprigs of fresh rosemary
Drain the red peppers and chop with a table knife of tear into smaller pieces and place in the food processor.
Gently bash the garlic cloves with a wooden spoon or rolling pin to loosen the skin and peel it off and add to the food processor.
Put the cheese and olive oil into the food processor.
Pull the rosemary leaves off the stalks and add to the food processor.
Blitz until smooth.
Place in a container and keep refrigerated until ready to use.
We think homemade pesto definitely tastes nicer than the shop bought stuff. Making this saved me from having to buy pesto in my shop this week. However, as it is homemade, it does have a shorter shelf life, think a week compared to the two the shop bought brands recommend. It didn’t survive a whole week in this house though!
Maltesers are dangerously addictive. I find it near impossible to open a sharing bag and not guzzle the lot at top speed – sharing chocolate is a real struggle for me! So imagine my surprise when I bought a couple of sharing bags of Maltesers to use in mini cupcakes with the kids and then didn’t get round to making them for a couple of weeks and they sat there huddled together in the pantry with their packets completely intact! Practically a miracle.
This activity was a reward for Atticus last week as his swimming lesson was cancelled. He was very upset; a reaction which I had failed to foresee as up until recently he has always had a somewhat ambivalent attitude to his swimming lesson. He went and behaved beautifully for the crèche ladies and played nicely with his sister so I wanted a tangible well done treat.
We started making these quite late on a school night. This made me feel somewhat rebellious as I had it in my head that I should have been preparing dinner so the kids would get to bed on time. As we made them randomly after swimming, I was unable to carve out time to ice them the way I wanted for a couple of days. This meant I was frantically guarding their Tupperware box to prevent any sneaky children (please read husband here too) pilfering them before they had been adequately adorned. In case you were worried (I doubt you were, but anyway), they only ended up in bed 10 minutes later than planned on the night we made them and Simon only managed to sneak a couple out of the tub before they were iced.
Ophelia, it turns out needs further practice with the piping bag. This is not surprising as she is only two. It was rather funny to see her reaction when she had a go; the icing missed the cake and also came out of the top. However, she was in her element putting a single Malteser on top of each decorated cake.
Oh and also popping some into her mouth and also trying to eat the icing that was being piped. She did manage to get a beautifully sticky handprint on my cake dome in her eagerness to access further chocolatey goodness. I did what any good parent did, and shared mine with her, told her she had to wait until we collected ‘her boys’ (notice they are not my boys!) from school. This went down like a lead balloon- not surprising really!
Makes 30 mini cupcakes or 15 larger cupcakes
For the cakes
180g dark brown muscovado sugar
135g self-raising flour
1tbsp cocoa powder
1tbsp malt powder (eg Horlicks)
Pinch of salt
1 medium egg
1/2tsp vanilla extract
50g melted dark chocolate
110ml whole milk
60g milk chocolate/milk chocolate chips
2 sharing bags of Maltesers (1 inside each cupcake or a couple inside each larger one and 1 each for decoration on the icing)
For the icing
This is enough to ice 15 larger cupcakes, and nearly all 30 mini cupcakes
120g icing sugar
100g melted milk chocolate
Preheat the oven to 170°c fan and put the cupcake wrappers into the muffin trays.
Gently mix the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, malt powder, and salt in a bowl.
Add the margarine and beat with electric mixers. It may look lumpy, this is fine.
Add the egg and the vanilla and beat again.
Mix in the melted chocolate chips and mix to fully combine.
Pour in the milk and mix until you have a smooth batter.
Half fill each cupcake case and then add a Malteser(s) and then evenly distribute the remaining batter.
Bake little mini cupcakes for 20-25 minutes and the larger ones for 30-35 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
Allow to cool fully before icing.
Once cooled, beat the icing ingredients except the melted chocolate until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and beat again. The icing will need to be relatively thick if you wish to pipe it and have it remain rigid (you may need to add more icing sugar), but if you just want to spread it on, that is not so important.
And breathe. It is the weekend, the reward for the long working week (well only really if you work Monday-Friday). For our kids, Saturday morning is for playing in PJs with each other and me just letting them get on with it while I catch up with my blog, eat breakfast in peace and theoretically get some down time while they have fun and before we have to start thinking about homework and the day’s activities.
Saturday morning is also the morning of experimenting in the kitchen in daddy’s absence. This morning was no exception. I haven’t had the chance to get in the kitchen with the kids much this week. But this morning, I managed to kickstart the day with breakfast kebabs. These involved chocolate cinnamon eggy bread, pears and blueberries. I don’t think I have ever seen Seb eat his breakfast so quickly!
It really is an easy breakfast which the kids enjoyed making. They could be cooked in a frying pan over the stove or grill them like we did. Ours were grilled on greased tin foil so we didn’t loose any blueberries! I would recommend using tinned pear or ripe pear as ours was still a bit firm so it was a bit of a challenge to thread onto the skewer. The boys did patiently achieve it, but I did have to do that bit for Ophelia.
To make 3 kebabs
Three slices of bread
1 ripe pear or half a tin of pears
A handful of blueberries (defrosted if frozen)
2 medium eggs
1tsp icing sugar
1tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8tsp ground cinnamon
Honey to brush pear and blueberries with (this will give them a caramel flavour – it is optional though)
Three skewers, soaked in water for 5-10 mins
Cut the crusts off the bread and slice into 4 smaller squares.
Cut each of the 4 squares into 2 triangles (a diagonal cut).
Crack the eggs in a small bowl and whisk.
Add the icing sugar, cocoa powder and cinnamon and mix well.
Chop the pear into chunks. These need to be quite big.
Dunk the small triangles of bread in the eggy mixture one at a time and thread onto the soaked skewers and alternate between the bread triangles and pieces of fruit.
Brush the fruit with honey if you want. We didn’t as and they grilled fine.
Either cook in a well greased frying pan for a couple of minutes each side, asking your grown up to turn for you or grill for a couple of minutes each side.
The kebabs are ready when the eggy bread has set. Keep a close eye on them as they can easily burn.
I hope you all have a good weekend and I shall be back next week with more of the recipes that turned my kitchen into chaos with the kids!
Bananas are a problematic fruit in our house. Up until recently Seb was the only one who would even contemplate eating them. Then about a fortnight ago, Atticus decided that he does now like bananas. When Atticus announced that he liked bananas (it did feel somewhat like a proclamation at the time), all of a sudden, I had to increase the weekly amount of bananas. This, however, then left me with a plethora of bananas as it turns out that Atticus’s new found love of bananas only really means he likes bananas on some days and sometimes only three quarters of a banana. Seb has taken to finishing off stray bits of Atticus’s bananas and I had to search for recipes to use up the overripe bananas that no-one wanted to eat. Rest assured, I have now reduced the weekly amount of bananas again – I can always go and buy more later in the week!
This recipe was a ‘What do I make with all the bananas that isn’t cake?’ recipe. It is an easier way of making flapjack with small children as it has no stove time; banana, oil and golden syrup bind it together. I made these with Ophelia and she really enjoyed making them and then proudly sharing them with her big brothers.
Recipe adapted from The Tickle Fingers Toddler Cookbook
2 ripe large bananas
9 tbsp vegetable oil
5 tbsp golden syrup
75g slivered almonds
30 natural coloured glacé cherries
Preheat the oven to 170°c fan and grease and line a 20cm (or slightly smaller) square tin. Our tin was a bit smaller (16cmx18cm) with thicker flapjacks.
Put the bananas into a large bowl and squish and squash with the back of a fork until smooth.
Add the oil and the golden syrup and mix until fully combined.
Count out the cherries and slice in half with a table knife or pull apart.
Add the oats and almonds and mix.
Add the cherries and mix again until they are evenly distributed in the mixture.
Transfer to the tin and flatten with the back of a spoon.
Place in the oven for 30 minutes until golden.
Remove from the oven and cut into slices or bite-size squares while still warm and in the tin.
Leave to cool fully in the tin.
I am generally not a banana fan and I enjoyed these. One batch lasted the kids for the majority of the school week and got a happy reaction at the school gate. I have discovered though that Seb isn’t a huge fan of glacé cherries, but Ophelia really, I mean really loves them. Seb took to handing his unwanted cherries to her and she was gobbling them up as quickly as he gave them to her!
It really feels as if winter is on its way now. I am delighted when the heating comes on and I seem to be spending my evenings wrapped up in a comforting big jumper (often liberated from my husband’s wardrobe! – ssshhh, don’t tell him!), snuggly thick socks and slippers. Oh and hot chocolate when the kids are in bed.
With the colder weather, I have been increasing my efforts to make potato more appealing and appetizing to my little potato-hater. We did try making hash browns, and he really did love using the food processor to grate the potato, but the entire recipe failed to entice him to devour a potato. Maybe wanting Atticus to do a complete one-eighty on his opinion of potatoes is a long shot, but I am really, really hoping that he will all of a sudden discover his Irish roots and the love of potatoes that everyone in my side family seems to have.
This recipe is the latest attempt, and I am happy to say that it is the most successful to date. I also have photographic evidence of Atticus eating it as I didn’t think his dad would believe me unless I had proof. I am unsure as to whether this was a one off or if it will become a bit more frequent, but for the moment I am revelling in my success!
For this recipe, I allowed one jacket potato per adult and half per child. We served it as an accompaniment to sausages, and corncobs for the kids. I had mine with salad and Simon had chicken wings.
4 cooked jacket potatoes (I tend to cook mine for a couple of hours the morning of or the evening before making these. They are easier to do when the skin is crispy)
1/2tsp garlic salt
2tsp dried mixed herbs
150-200g grated cheddar (or cheese of choice)
Black pepper to taste (optional)
Variations; add some tuna and sweetcorn as well as the passata or chopped sausage or pepperoni to make different flavours.
Slice each cooked jacket potato in half (lengthways). The boys (6 and 4) used a sharp knife to do this).
Scoop out the centre of the potatoes with a spoon being careful not to tear the skin and put in a large bowl. Place the skins in an oven proof dish.
Squish and squash the potato with a masher.
Add the passata, garlic salt, dried mixed herbs and black pepper (if using) and any other flavours and mix so that the mashed potato is fully coated in the passata.
Spoon the potato mixture back into the potato skins and place in a large ovenproof dish.
Sprinkle the cheese on top and put in the oven for 15 minutes so that the cheese melts and the potato warms through.
The children thought these were fun and they all got really involved in the process of making these ‘Pizza Potato Boats’. The two year old told me off for trying to help her (Little Miss Independent!). It was wonderful to see them all hard at work with the same activity and then all actually eat it without a single complaint!