Breadsticks

You would have thought that nearly eight years into our parenting journey that by now I would have learnt that I never ever have enough snacks in the house. When in the supermarket and asking myself how many packets of breadsticks or crackers I need to buy, I should always just put another packet in the trolley because it’s not like they won’t get eaten!

Squish and squash the dough

I came home from one blissful child-free trip to the supermarket happily thinking I had managed to get every single item on my list (a real achievement for a Falklands shopping trip), only to discover that I had neglected to add breadsticks to the list and our snack cupboard was rather empty. After putting the supplies away, I couldn’t contemplate another trip out to the supermarket. We had all the ingredients for breadsticks, so I decided we would make them instead. As an added bonus, this gave Ophelia and me an activity to do while the boys were in school. I never have to ask her twice if she wants to come and help with the cooking!

Carefully stretching it out.
Dividing the dough.

Making breadsticks may sound like a bit of a faff, but my kids really enjoy it. The highlights are kneading, rolling and stretching the dough out to make the long breadsticks. I am pretty sure Ophelia would have happily spent the morning playing with the dough and singing happy little songs had I let her. This recipe does carry a sticky fingers warning as it can get a bit messy. We did manage to spread the flour all over the kitchen surfaces and the floor, but this time Ophelia’s outfit remained uncharacteristically clean!

To make breadsticks you will need:

Making them into sausages
  • 190g bread flour
  • ½ teaspoon instant dry yeast
  • 100ml warm water
  • 15g melted butter or margarine
  • ½ teaspoon fine salt
  • Olive oil for coating
  1. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until well combined.
  2. Using your hands, squish and squash the dough for 5-10 minutes. If your child is anything like mine, they might not want to stop and that point or they might ask for some initial help. This was a great opportunity to describe the texture and temperature of the dough.
  3. Cover the bowl with clingfilm or a clean tea towel and let it rest at room temperature for at least one hour.
  4. Preheat your oven to 160°c fan and line 2 baking sheets with silicone mats or baking parchment.
  5. Cut the dough in half with a table knife and then cut each half into 6 pieces. We managed to use this as good counting and adding practice.
  6. Gently stretch and roll each piece into a long sausage shape around 30cm long. Some of ours were longer than others.
  7. Brush them with a little olive oil.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and crisp.
  9. Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

This article appeared in Penguin News on 17 July 2020.

Raisin Bran Muffins

Cake was the subject of most of my conversations with Ophelia while her brothers were at school last week. This meant we had tea parties, the dolls had tea parties and we made and ate rather a lot of cake. The poor kitchen must have felt rather sorry for itself with flour and sugar all over the surfaces and even an egg cracked on the floor all at the hands of my increasingly independent three-year-old who has decided that mummy can only help in certain circumstances.

I was quite happy when the weekend came around and wrongly thought the older kids might dilute my daughter’s enthusiasm. What I didn’t bank on was the kids having gotten accustomed to the steady stream of cake and their reluctance for it to stop! On Friday evening there was the discussion about what flavour cake would be next. Looking back at the rocky road, flapjack brownie, lemon cupcakes and chocolate cake which had sweetened the week, I decided it was time to steer the kids towards something a bit less sugar-filled. In the past, I have discovered that this is not always a successful endeavour, but in this instance, I got my way and the kids happily made and enjoyed eating Raisin Bran Muffins.

Ready to soak overnight.

I think the majority of the enthusiasm for this recipe stemmed from the fact that the kids think it is hilarious that mummy sits eating what they think looks like sticks at breakfast as they are enjoying their Shreddies or Cheerios. Luckily for me, they were not disappointed that after soaking the All Bran, raisins and sugar overnight they had lost their structural integrity and stick-like appearance! This is a versatile recipe that can be made vegan/dairy free by using almond milk.

To make the Raisin Bran Muffins you will need:

  • 75g All Bran cereal
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 175g raisins
  • 300ml milk
  • 175g wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 50ml water
  • 25ml milk
Dividing the mixture between the cases.

Method:

  1. Put the All Bran, caster sugar, raisins in a large bowl with 300ml of milk and mix well. Leave to soak overnight or for at least 6 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 160°c fan and put 12 cupcake cases into a muffin tin.
  3. Sift in the flour and add in the water and 25ml of milk and combine well.
  4. Divide the mixture between the 12 cases and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes until springy.

This recipe appeared in Penguin News on 19 June 2020 and Soar Valley Life July/August 2020 edition.

Chocolate Granola

I am not entirely sure how, but breakfast seems to confuse my kids. Lunch and dinner both come with a pudding, but breakfast does not. I understand their logic, but they completely fail to understand that this just isn’t normal! Their constant requests for pudding after their cereal has led to a two-tiered breakfast system with toast or fruit following their initial bowl of cereal. The only way we can even contemplate forgoing breakfast pudding is if the breakfast is special enough to not require it. In the kids’ eyes, this generally means pancakes and there are not many mornings that I have the inclination to be sorting out pancakes even if I have been able to make the batter in advance. The other breakfast fare that seems to fit the bill is homemade granola.

Scooping in the oats.

We make granola quite frequently and the kids will happily gobble it up and it does seem to fill them. Unsurprisingly, their all-time favourite type of granola is chocolate granola. Over the years, I have learnt that some granola recipes are so full of sugar that they could practically be a pudding themselves so we have adapted and reduced the amount of sugar for this recipe. You can add whatever dried fruits or nuts to this that you like. On this occasion, we added flaked almonds and dried apricots which both went really well with the chocolate. We tend to measure this recipe in cups as it is easier for the kids to scoop oats the oats and cocoa that way.

To make our chocolate granola you will need:

  • 4 cups of oats
  • 1/3 cup of cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup or runny honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups of additions (we used half flaked almonds and half dried apricots)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160° fan and line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or baking parchment.
  2. Mix the oats, cocoa powder and salt in a large bowl with a wooden spoon.
  3. Put the melted coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract into a jug and mix to combine.
  4. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well to ensure that all the oats are coated.
  5. Divide the mixture between the two baking trays, ensuring each has a thin layer of the granola.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes turning the granola half way through. Keep a close eye on it as it can easily burn.
  7. Once cooled, put into a large bowl and put in your additions, mix with a wooden spoon and store in an airtight container.

This recipe was published in Penguin News on 15 May 2020.

Fruity Filo Pie

I am always on the hunt for super simple dishes that the kids can help with in the kitchen. Recipes that they can take ownership of the whole way through and can proudly share with the rest of the family. This pie fits the bill perfectly. An added bonus, by using tinned fruit there is very little washing up. Although that said, my younger two are rather obsessed with washing up even if they do tend to flood the kitchen floor!

Sprinkle on the sugar.

Ophelia (three going on thirty) made this with me during the our first or second week off school during our Falklands lockdown. It hasn’t been written up until now as all the days seem to have blurred into one and the idea of writing a recipe up after trying to help all the kids with their school work just seemed like one job too many at the end of so many days!

For us here, the kids go back to school on Monday. I will miss my little partners in crime, but I am looking forward to having some time without them in the house undoing the work I have tried to do or ‘help’ me in the most unhelpful ways. Such as loading dirty dishes into the clean dishwasher or emptying the washing machine and not telling me leaving the wet laundry in a hidden place! That said, they all do love hoovering and as previously mentioned washing up. It’s such a shame they are no so eager to tidy up their toys or the remnants of the day’s school so we can eat supper on the table later in the day.

This recipe was a huge hit and has minimal added sugar, so it could be classed as a relatively healthy recipe with only 4 ingredients!

To make a fruity filo pie you will need:

  • 5-6 sheets of filo pastry
  • 1 tin of apples or other fruit (we also added a small handful of frozen blackberries)
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp melted butter/margarine.
Painting on the melted butter.

Method

  1. Grease a 20cm shallow cake tin with melted butter.
  2. Preheat the oven to 160°c fan
  3. Gently fold the large rectangle of filo pastry in half and place on the bottom of the cake tin.
  4. Leave the excess filo pastry hanging out of the tin.
  5. Spoon in the fruit (if you have chosen a fruit with juice or syrup, take care not to add the liquid or you will end up with a soggy pie.
  6. Once the fruit is added, gently scrunch the edges of the filo pastry to create the walls of the pie.
  7. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top of the fruit.
  8. Paint the filo pastry scrunch with melted butter.
  9. Place in the over for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and cooked.

The kids loved this pudding and Ophelia happily shared it out telling each brother which piece they could have. It didn’t last for long and we have had several requests for this pudding since then!

Slow Cooker Easter Egg Cookie

It has been a strange month. Life has changed significantly, but as we approach Easter I am remined of new opportunity and being grateful for everything that we have. I am trying to tell myself that this extra time with the children and their dad at home is a blessing, but I am constantly reminded of my shortcomings and lack of patience as I try and help them with their school work and have them ‘helping’ me with the chores, making them take three times as long. I find safety in familiar ground with them and for me that is cooking with them. We have cooked in the happiest and hardest times of my time as a mum and for me this period is no different. In all the time we have spent in the kitchen we have had some wonderful successes as well as monumental failures. Examples the latter would be a whole bottle of coconut essence working its way into a batch of cupcakes or neglecting to add sugar to another batch… But I have to say I don’t remember how either of those bakes turned out, what I remember is the delight in my kids’ voices when they have been able to do something they hadn’t managed before, or their happy chocolate-stained faces after licking the bowl.

Easter Egg Cookie anyone?

The kids and I frequently make soup in the slow cooker and have also used it to make a delicious steamed lemon sponge, but after brainstorming Easter cooking activities with my cook books all around me, I realised that the base of my slow cooker is shaped like an Easter Egg. When I pointed this out to the kids, they were excited. They could tell their mum was about to suggest an activity and indeed I was; a Slow Cooker Easter Egg Cookie.

For the cookie:

  • 350g plain flour
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 200g softened butter or margarine
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g chocolate chips/dried fruit

To decorate:

  • 50g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • Decorations of choice
The slow cooker lined with baking parchment.

Method:

  1. Generously grease the inside of the slow cooker with butter or cooking spray.
  2. Cut two long, thick strips of baking parchment and put in the slow cooker in the shape of a cross. You need to ensure that the parchment is long enough to reach over the edges of the slow cooker. If using cooking spray, spray again.
  3. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale using an electric hand mixer.
  4. Add the egg and vanilla and combine.
  5. Gradually sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder and mix to form a stiff dough.
  6. Once all the flour has been incorporated, add the chocolate chips and dried fruit and mix.
  7. Dollop into the slow cooker and spread all around with the back of a spoon.
  8. Cover and cook on high for 1hr and 45 minutes. Remove the slow cooker bowl using oven gloves and place on a heat proof surface to cool for at least half an hour.
  9. Gently remove from the slow cooker either by using the baking parchment or by turning out onto a cooling rack. You may want to loosen the edges with a table knife before removing.
  10. Once fully cooled, make up the icing by mixing the water and icing sugar. Add more icing sugar for a thicker consistency and then use to stick on decorations.

Why Share a Cookie?!

I have seen many recent posts on Facebook and Instagram when people are making too many batches of cakes and mentioning that they would be a size larger at the end of lockdown. I have really taken this to heart and started pondering the idea of making a single cookie.  One means you don’t have to share it and also that you get the satisfaction of a delicious baked cookie and doing an activity either on your own or with your kids and not worrying that it could be a piece of cake (or cookie) too far and risk sending you into a sugary haze. Kids how about you try to convince your grown up that this is the best idea?  You can scoop out all the ingredients yourself and not have to share the cookie! Did I mention that this recipe doesn’t contain egg and can easily be made dairy free or vegan by using vegan spread and chocolate. It uses only a small amount of ingredients so you don’t have to be overly concerned about running out.

The add ins for the cookies.

My kids each chose a different tablespoon of add ins to make their cookie personal so we ended up with apricot and chocolate, dried banana and chocolate and dried pineapple and coconut. They all smelled delicious and I was honoured when Ophelia deigned to share some cookie with me! Surprised would be an understatement.

The kids would like to see your cookies; it would really brighten our day. Please do put them on our Facebook page or tag Just Add Patience on Instagram so we can see how you have got on!

To make a single-serve cookie you will need:

  • 1tbsp margarine/unsalted butter – we have found margarine is easier for the kids to scoop as I never remember to take it out of the fridge in advance.
  • 1tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1/4tsp vanilla extract
  • 2tbsp flour
  • 1/8tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1tsp oats
  • 1tbsp chocolate/dried fruit
Gently flatten.

To make a cookie:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°c fan and line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment.
  2. Put the butter, sugar and vanilla in a small bowl and cream together using a teaspoon.
  3. Add the flour, bicarbonate of soda and oats and salt into the bowl and mix to combine. My kids enjoyed using their hands to bring it together.
  4. Add in the chocolate/dried fruit and roll into a ball.
  5. Place on the baking tray and flatten slightly with your hand.
  6. Cook for 10-12 minutes and allow to cool on the tray – warm cookies are fragile.

Condensed Milk Doughnuts

Divide it between the tins.
Sifting.

With all that is going on, I have been raiding my cupboards to see what I have to bake with rather than venturing out to the shops. My last trip to the cupboards unearthed a tube of condensed milk and some wholemeal spelt flour. It may be that the logical choice would have been a cookie of some description, but I have had baked doughnuts on the brain since the schools closed on 26 March. My theory was that if I baked them into existence, I might be able to get them off the brain and focus on less sugary and more healthy snacks. I am sure that my next post (whatever it ends up being) will inform you of how successful I have been with that one. I think my kids and husband are all banking on me failing as they quite like having a steady stream of cake in the house!

Yup, Ophelia won.

These doughnuts were really fun to make. Ophelia did manage to mix it all up herself, but needed assistance spooning the mixture into the moulds. We both had fun dunking them in the icing and putting sprinkles on them. We shall glide over the creative differences which led these doughnuts to be coated in pink icing rather than peanut butter icing and there are no prizes for guessing who won that discussion…

These baked doughnuts have a rather cake-like texture, but are light and fluffy and so incredibly yummy. Our batch didn’t survive more than 12 hours. If you don’t have a silicone doughnut mould, then you can always make them in cupcake cases.

Doughnut pyramid.

To make six doughnuts you will need:

  • 1 egg
  • 100g condensed milk
  • 25g melted butter
  • 80g flour (we used wholemeal spelt, but have used plain flour in the past)
  • 1/2tsp baking powder
  • 1/2tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 1-2tbsp of water
  • Pink food colouring
  • Sprinkles

Then:

  1. Preheat the oven to 150°c fan.
  2. Whisk the egg and condensed milk together.
  3. Add the melted butter, vanilla and pinch of salt and mix.
  4. Sift in the flour and baking powder and gently fold into the mixture.
  5. Divide the batter between the 6 doughnut moulds.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes until springy to the touch.
  7. Leave to cool in the moulds for a couple of minutes and then carefully remove from the moulds and allow to cool fully before icing them.
  8. Mix the icing sugar and water in a bowl. Add less water for a thicker consistency. Add a couple of drops of food dye and mix again.
  9. Dip the doughnuts in the icing bowl and decorate with sprinkles.

If you happen to make this recipe, I would be as pleased as punch if you would leave me a comment. Stay safe everyone.

Teabread

My confession: we are not a household of tea drinkers. This may sound sacrilege for a British family, but there you go. My sister is the champion tea drinker in my family. Maybe she has tea running through her veins rather than blood like the rest of us?! I always have to check that I actually have teabags in the house before we have visitors as I have been known to be unable to provide guests with a cup of tea when visiting! When I do buy them, it takes us so long to get through them. Teabread is the only way we really use them.

Into the tin it goes

We always seem to have a load of dried fruit in the house, even more so since we moved to the Falklands. This is probably because our bulk online shop at the beginning of the year mainly comprised cereal, dried fruit, tinned tuna and squash! We are steadily working our way through the many packets of apricots and banana chips, but some of the dates, raisins and cranberries went into this yummy teabread. You could just use raisins and sultanas in this loaf, but I am a particular fan of putting some chopped dates in as they really do give it such a lovely squidgy texture. It is a versatile recipe, an easy to put your own stamp on.

Ophelia really enjoyed using a spoon to transport the dried fruit into the cold tea and spent the rest of the afternoon coming back to check their progress. The following morning after we had dropped the boys at school, the moment we got back to the house, she was immediately asking to put the soaked fruit into cake. There is no doubt at all that she gets that particular characteristic from me!

To make this teabread you will need:

  • 300g dried fruit (we used raisins, cranberries and chopped dates)
  • 2 tea bags made into 475ml tea and cooled
  • 225g soft brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 450g self raising flour (we used a mixture of wholemeal and regular)

Instructions:

  1. Spoon the dried fruit into the cold tea and leave to soak overnight.
  2. Line a large loaf tin with baking parchment and preheat the oven to 160°c.
  3. Beat the eggs into the sugar until completely combined.
  4. Add the flour and the soaked dried fruit (with the remaining liquid) and mix to form a batter.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the top with the back of a spoon.
  6. Bake in the oven for 55-60 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

I am not ashamed to admit that my kids have been enjoying a small slice of this for their breakfasts recently. With all the changes in their daily routine, I wanted them to remember some of the fun things, like when mummy allowed them to have cake for breakfast! Much love from our small corner of the world to all my readers and please do stay safe.

Chocolate Ginger buns

Yum chocolate icing too!

I am a self-confessed chocaholic. I can be very good and ignore chocolate in the fridge for weeks on end, but as soon as I open the wrapper, my resolve crumbles and a single square turns into a whole family-size packet! And despite my constant insistence that the kids share, in this instance I am powerless to follow my own advice. To prevent arguments, the kids have their own treat box which was affectionately christened the ‘num num tin’ and I am categorically not allowed their treats as I refuse to share mine! I understand this logic and it seems like a fair deal to me; I can go without the other sweets that they love, but I cannot abandon my chocolate!

Chopping ginger

Chocolate bakes are always among the most popular with my kids (I wonder where they get that from?!) and these little cakes are so yummy and moreish that it’s easy to understand why. Atticus in particular was eager to make these as they contained ginger. For those of you who haven’t met my younger son, he is my fellow redhead in the family.  He piped up that they would be his special ginger cakes and under no circumstances was I to decide that they would replace him as my favourite little ginger!

The ginger isn’t overpowering in these cakes, but it adds depth to the chocolate cake. If your kids aren’t huge fans of ginger I would recommend omitting the ginger syrup from the icing or leave them plain. My kids seem to think that undecorated cakes are some kind of crime to baking.

Mix it all up

To make the buns you will need:

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g margarine
  • 2 eggs
  • 2tbsp syrup from a jar of stem ginger
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 60g stem ginger from a jar, chopped into small pieces

For the icing:

  • 85g icing sugar
  • 15g cocoa powder
  • 1tsp syrup from a jar of stem ginger
  • 3-4tbsp milk
  • Sprinkles

To make them:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°c fan and put the cupcake cases in the muffin tray.
  2. Chop the stem ginger into small pieces. Adult help may be required.
  3. Cream the sugar and the margarine together until it is light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one.
  5. Add the ginger syrup and mix again.
  6. Sift the flour and cocoa into the bowl and fold into the mixture.
  7. Add the stem ginger and gently mix.
  8. Divide the mixture between the 12 cases and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes until springy to the touch and a cake tester comes out clean.
  9. Once cooled, make the icing by mixing all the ingredients together. Add more milk for a thinner icing if desired. Spread it onto the cakes.
  10. Let the kids go crazy with the sprinkles!

This article appeared in Penguin News on Friday 20 March, 2020.

Cottage Potato Pies

My kids all seem to have decided that mashed potato is good. This is a far cry from where we were only a year ago, when we would have to embark upon massive negotiations to get our middle child to even consider having potato on his plate. This polar change has opened up many more recipes that are now deemed acceptable as the humble potato is no longer considered food enemy number one! Unfortunately, tomatoes and courgettes remain exiled from two of the kids’ plates, but we are celebrating small victories.

There is now generally a mini stampede when I mention making mashed potatoes. This is because they all enjoy mashing potatoes and making ‘worms’ appear through the masher. The act of mashing is always accompanied by shrieks of delight!

This meal is lots of fun to put together. My kids loved scooping out the inside of the cooked potato, spooning in the mince, mashing the potato, sprinkling in cheese and then transporting the potato back on top of the mince-filled potatoes. It is true that it requires a fair amount of parent preparation; cooking the potatoes and making the mince filling. Despite this it is definitely worth the effort. It is also an incredibly versatile recipe which can be made vegetarian by using a Quorn or a lentil filling instead of the mince.

To make 4 jacket potatoes you will need:

  • 4 jacket potatoes
  • 50g grated mozzarella
  • 2-3tbsp milk
  • 500g beef mince
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 500 ml beef stock
  • 3tbsp tomato paste
  • Seasoning; dried herbs and garlic, salt and pepper

Parent prep

  • Cook and cool jacket potatoes and slice the tops off.
  • Make the beef filling by frying the onions and carrot with the seasoning. Brown the meat and then add the stock and tomato paste and allow to simmer for 30 minutes until it has reduced and cool.

Kiddie jobs

  1. Scoop out the inside of the potatoes being careful not to break the potato skin and put into a large bowl.
  2. Mash the potato and add the cheese and milk.
  3. Spoon the meat filling into the potato shells.
  4. Cover with mashed potato.
  5. Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 160°c fan until warm through.