Meringues are one of Atticus’s favourite things to make. He loves to handle the electric whisk all by himself and tends to take any attempts at interference with pure contempt. Unfortunately, he had to share the responsibility, but he did get in the Christmas spirit and did so with relative good grace. As meringues are such an easy thing to make, there was no escape giving them a little festive makeover. I had a go at this myself last year one evening when the kids were in bed, but this time I had to get the kids involved. They were just as tasty as I remembered and these will probably feature in our festivities this year as the two littlest and their dad are not fond of mince pies.
As not all children like the festive flavour of mincemeat, these are a perfect way to introduce them subtly to the flavour. My two youngest will devour these! Whisking the egg whites allows the kids to watch their volume increase and find the vocabulary to describe it. The mincemeat makes them beautifully squidgy and gives them a darker colour than plain meringues.
This recipe featured in Soar Valley Life’s November/December 2019 issue. I held off posting it too early as I couldn’t cope with posting Christmas food until advent had well and truly started!
2 medium egg whites
115g caster sugar
2 tbsp mincemeat (we used shop bought)
Preheat the oven to 90° fan and line two
baking sheets with baking parchment or silicone baking mats.
Put the egg whites in a clean bowl (it is
best to avoid plastic).
Whisk the egg whites with an electric whisk
until peaks form when the blades are lifted out of the mixture.
Add the caster sugar a tbsp at a time and
beat after each addition. The mixture should look thick and glossy.
Once all the sugar is incorporated, add the
mincemeat a tbsp at a time and beat after each addition.
Take tbsps. of the mixture and gently dollop
onto the baking trays (you should get around 10) and add sprinkles.
Place in the oven for 1hr 45 minutes and
then switch the oven off. Leave them in the oven until it is completely cooled.
We leave ours in overnight and remove the following morning.
I am always on the look out for simple recipes to make with the kids. Truth be told, I get bored if I have to make the same thing over and over again. Flapjack brownies are the exception to this; they always go down well. I do have to fight off my middle child as he is also rather partial to them, but seeing as he is considerable shorter than me, I have a certain advantage when it comes to keeping them out of his reach.
Since our move to the Falklands, we have met a few Kiwis. This got me researching recipes from there. I stumbled upon Lolly cake and thought it looked like a perfect treat for Smoko or elevenses/high tea. I decided that it would be amazing apart from the traditional idea of rolling it up – I didn’t fancy trying to role up a sticky condensed milk and biscuit concoction into a log and covering it with desiccated coconut with a small child. Can you imagine a small child faced with the instruction not to lick their fingers combined with overwhelming desire to do so when confronted with a sugary sticky messy mixture that they are shaping with their hands?! Consequently, I decided a make it as a traybake. We initially covered the bottom in desiccated coconut too, but this seemed to make it overly messy – not my aim. Therefore, my suggestion would be to just sprinkle the desiccated coconut on the top. It may be a cop out, but I think you will thank me when your surfaces and floors are not covered in desiccated coconut. It did look a bit like it had been snowing in my kitchen!
This one was a recipe that Ophelia made with me when the boys were in school. Highlights included smashing the biscuits to smithereens (I totally love that word, definitely one of my top 100 words and yes, I am that language geek) and trying to sneak dolly mixtures and mini marshmallows into her mouth during the process. Daddy, who allegedly doesn’t like dolly mixtures, certainly ate more than his fair share of this bake. Not that I am pointing the finger or anything…
250g chocolate digestives
150g dolly mixtures
30g mini marshmallows
200g sweetened condensed milk
70g desiccated coconut
Grease and line a brownie pan or a square cake tin (at least 20cm, ours was a bit bigger as we use a brownie pan)
Put the butter and condensed milk into a pan over a low heat and melt together. We measured the condensed milk directly into the pan to prevent too many sticky spillages. Once melted put to one side to cool a little.
Crush the biscuits either by placing in a zip lock bag and bashing with a rolling pin, or in a bowl and crushing with the end of a rolling pin. We did the latter, after having broken then up a bit first.
Add the crushed biscuits, the dolly mixtures and marshmallows to the condensed milk/butter mixture and mix to ensure fully combined.
Spoon into the prepared tray and spread with the back of a wooden spoon. You may want to let you little chef use their fingers to get the mixture into the edges of the tin.
Sprinkle the top wit the desiccated coconut and put in the fridge to set.
Leave to set before cutting. Please note, it is easier to cut when it is fully solid. We left ours overnight before contemplating cutting it.
Try not to eat the whole batch in a single sitting (I am not looking at anyone in particular here!!!)
My aim making this treat was to spread the sugar out evenly over the week, but unfortunately this time I was unsuccessful. Anyone got any tips for baked goods security?!
I used to be a morning person. Each new day would fill me with glee and I would be so optimistic about what it may bring me. Fast forward to now, and I can say with one hundred per cent certainty that I am no longer a morning person. I can pinpoint the exact date when my natural state was warped and unsurprisingly it coincided with the arrival of our firstborn. Mornings used to be my own personal safe haven. To reach that degree of solitude now, I have to leave the comfort of my home and run which if I am honest can be blinking exhausting! Although, running gives me an excuse, an incentive even, to eat cake and by no means cancels out the hard work of the run…
Wen you have already had the argument over getting dressed, convincing your monkeys that school isn’t optional and gently breaking it to your youngest that they will never be the same age as their older sibling at the same time, breakfast can often seem to b a battle unworthy of your time. This recipe was born from my dual desire to refuse to comply with sugar-laden breakfast requests and give the kids the impression that they were having a fun breakfast without it being full of refined sugar. I don’t think I would be any teacher’s favourite parent if I sent my children into school saturated with sugar and unable to sit still for a single second.
These breakfast cups can be made the afternoon before and stored in an airtight container in the fridge overnight and then all you have to do is present them plated up with no preparation time at breakfast! The fact that they are cooked in individual portions as well means that you don’t need to worry about cutting up the flapjack and risk uneven pieces. Yes, I really have thought this through too much. The last ting I would want is to go three rounds of such and such has a bigger piece than me! That would defeat the objective of a stress-free breakfast!
150g tinned pear
200g butter or margarine
250g runny honey
Preheat the oven to 160° fan.
Measure out the butter and the golden syrup and place in a large pan on the hob and melt over a low heat stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, cut the tinned pear into small chunks using a table knife.
Measure out the oats and the Cheerios.
When the butter and honey mixture has melted and has been stirred to combine, add in the oats and Cheerios and mix.
Add in the chopped pear and mix again.
This mixture will make around 20 breakfast cups so line a muffin tray with cupcake cases (if you don’t have 2, this mixture is sturdy enough to stand up in the cases in a cake tin) and evenly divide the mixture between the cases.
Cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. They will be fragile when removed from the oven, but they firm up as they cool.#
This recipe appeared in Penguin News on Friday 22 November 2019.
Are your children superhero obsessed? Mine certainly are and I am not ashamed to admit that I use this to my advantage somewhat when they are confronted with a vegetable they don’t want to try. We talk about vegetables helping them to be strong like superheroes and helping them to build up their vitamin stores for strength. In particular, the green ones which generally have a slightly more bitter taste. And as the hulk is green in colour, we make that connection too. My parents used to tell me to eat my vegetables so I would be strong like Popeye (even though it felt like a dated cartoon when I was small) so maybe this is just the modern version! So this is the reason for the name of the dish. It isn’t an original recipe of mine, but an adaptation of a recipe from one of my favourite cookery authors, Rukmini Iyer in her book the Green Roasting Tin. As a family we love Rukmini’s recipes and they frequently make an appearance on our dinner table or get sent into school with the kids on their birthdays.
The first time we made it I loved it, but my family didn’t appreciate all the Brussel Sprouts, so we adapted it to include some other green vegetables too. We make it with frozen vegetables as that is the most economical way to ensure we all get enough fruit and vegetables in our diet here in the Falklands. It also means that you can buy the ingredients for this dish and it doesn’t matter if it takes you a while to get around to making it as the vegetables won’t spoil and halloumi generally has a long shelf life when in a sealed packet.
This dish was our activity when Sebastian had Ronan, the take home knitted Beaver, for the week. Ronan sat on the counter and ‘helped’ us make this dish. We didn’t have any disasters – no falling in or unwelcome splatters and Seb happily spouting the importance of vegetables in a healthy diet the whole way through our endeavours. Ronan returned to Beavers the following week safe and sound after his Hulk Halloumi Bake! It has to be said our entry was one of the more boring ones, but it was second nature to me as the kids cook with me on a weekly basis. No extra planning required! I reckon that makes me a superhero in my own right!!!
1 block of halloumi
75g Brussel sprouts
200g green beans
2tbsp olive oil
2tsp nigella seeds
2tsp garam masala
3tbsp lemon juice
350g cooked rice (warm)
If you are using frozen vegetables like we did, remove from the freezer and allow to defrost for half hour or so.
Preheat the oven to 180°c fan.
Chop the halloumi into small squares with a child safe knife. Chop any large piece of broccoli into smaller pieces.
Add the halloumi, broccoli, Brussel sprouts and green beans to a roasting dish.
Drizzle with the oil, add the garlic, nigella seeds, garam masala and seasoning.
Gently agitate the tray so that the vegetables and halloumi are covered with spices and oil. Be careful not to shake up and down!
Put in the oven for 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and mix the cooked rice and lemon juice through with the halloumi and vegetables.
Distribute between bowls and enjoy warm.
I love this dish and it is one meal that my family can all eat together as it is vegetarian. I hope it goes down as well with your family as it does with mine.
There are certain days when only chocolate cake will do. I would love to claim that this cake was the outcome of a desperate need for chocolate due to a bad day, but it was in fact just a way to entertain the kids and have them working towards pudding for a family dinner! Atticus helped Simon make the main course and Seb and Ophelia joined me on the other side of the kitchen to make pudding. On this occasion, dinner certainly was a full family effort. They are happy memories.
This cake also gave me an excuse to open the kilogram bag of mini marshmallows that I managed to find and sent Simon and the kids off to discover for themselves and purchase. There was pure delight when they saw such a large bag of mini marshmallows. Previously they had only seen the 150g bags that I would purchase in Tesco. I did miss an opportunity for a maths lesson asking how many small bags would make up the large bag. Oh well, there’s an idea for next time! I was a mean mum though; I made them wait until I had a definite recipe in mind before we opened them. I knew that if we just opened them, I would blink and they would all be finished! I have three marshmallow-loving kiddies and a husband who isn’t averse to adding them by the handful to his pudding or cereal bowl! They would have been inhaled and while this would have been an impressive feat, I really wanted to prevent this outcome.
To mark the opening of our gigantic bag of marshmallows, we made this Rocky Road Traybake. It is a very think cake sprinkled with raisins, chopped nuts and mini marshmallows and drizzled with melted white chocolate. You will be surprised to hear that it lasted more than 24 hours. Although this is probably because I packaged it away and hid it under the bread in the bread bin! No one thought to look there so it was safe until I was ready to distribute it! However, now I have written this, I shall have to find a new cake hiding place.
115g dark brown sugar
100g plain flour
15g cocoa powder
1 medium egg
50g chopped nuts
20g mini marshmallows
40g white chocolate, melted
Grease and line a brownie pan, or small square/rectangular cake pan and preheat the oven to 160°c fan.
Cream the butter and the sugar together until smooth.
Add the egg and beat.
Sift in the flour and cocoa powder and mix until combined.
Add the milk and mix until smooth.
Dollop the batter into the baking tin and spread so all the edges are covered. This is meant to be a thin cake, so it may require a bit of effort.
Sprinkle the nuts, raisins and marshmallows on top and place in the oven for 15 minutes until a skewer comes out clean (unless you go through a marshmallow!
Allow to cool fully before drizzling with melted chocolate.
I hope you enjoy this traybake as much as my family did and do look for a good hiding place for it so it doesn’t all disappear in a blink!
Patience is an important commodity when dealing with children. It’s mere presence bolsters success in the kitchen with children. I mean it isn’t as if you need a kilo of it or anything – a sprinkling is just fine. That said, my stockpiles of patience have been dwindling this week. I should have known it was going to be a hard week when I hurt my leg running and my favourite outlet for solitary time vanished. This was further impacted, when I ended up late to collect Seb from a school club because I lost track of time and a last minute pre-schooler toilet trip.
Contrary children have certainly greatly contributed to this feeling of frustration. Allow me to provide an example: Ophelia loved making this recipe. She ate copious amounts of the individual ingredients, but barely countenanced the idea of eating the end product. I won’t lie, I had to take some deep breaths and think of the fact that our shipment has arrived and we now have all our stuff except our car. Once I had found these happy thoughts, I realised that this meant all the more for me to gobble up!
This recipe is full of processes that children love; squishing and squashing, chopping, cracking, mixing and transporting. The latter is a mucky process, and if your child doesn’t enjoy getting their fingers dirty, you may well want to consider using a couple of tablespoons to make the fritters and flatten them a bit.
1 tin cannellini beans
150g roasted red peppers from jar
1 beaten egg
1/2 tsp garlic (we used frozen)
Adult line a couple of baking trays with silicone baking mats or baking parchment.
Drain and rinse the cannellini beans and place in a large bowl.
Mash the cannellini beans with a fork or potato masher. Small children may well require some help to get this started. Mash until they no longer look like beans.
Chop the peppers into small pieces. We used table knives.
Add the chopped peppers, sweetcorn, flour, seasoning and garlic to the mashed beans.
Crack an egg into a small bowl or mug and gently whisk.
Pour the egg into the bowl and mix with a wooden spoon.
Using your hands make patties out of the mixture. Depending on their size, you should get between 6 and 8. If you don’t want to use your hands, dollop a couple of tablespoons per fritter and pat down with the back of a spoon.
Refrigerate for around 1 hour (this makes them more stable) before cooking at 180°c fan for 15-20 minutes, turning half way through. Alternatively, they can be pan fried.
This recipe appeared in Penguin News on October 11, 2019. For those of you not lucky enough to be able to purchase a copy, I have included a picture of the article from the newspaper.
We are in the home stretch. Our shipping crate is allegedly imminent. We will soon have all of the baking supplies that I packed including my scales and beloved brownie pan! To celebrate this auspicious occasion, what did we do?! Yes you’ve got it, we baked! We made Banana, Orange and White Chocolate Muffins.
There were bananas in the supermarket recently. Back in the UK I would think nothing of weighing out my bananas and buying them so Seb could eat a daily banana. Here in Stanley, I have to remind myself how lucky I am that Seb is the only one in the family who really loves bananas. In our local supermarket they sell for 50p each unless they are brown when they sell for 25p each. I must confess that after seeing a friend buy brown bananas for banana bread and to freeze for smoothies I quickly followed suit. I bought a 10 bananas and promptly froze 8 in slices to put in cakes. Yes I did also ensure that I cut each banana into the same amount of pieces so that I knew how many slices made up a banana. In case you need to know, in this instance it was 6.
Having all those bananas in the freezer meant that a banana bake was on the cards. I was in the fortunate enough position to have some leftover white chocolate following my raspberry blondie making session for Simon’s birthday so combined with some orange zest and bananas and boom! There you have it these yummy muffins were born!
2 ripe bananas
2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
4tbsp melted butter
Zest of 2 oranges
100g chocolate chips/chopped chocolate
Preheat the oven to 180°c fan.
Mush the banana with a fork and make it as smooth as you can.
Put the mashed bananas, flour, sugar, milk and melted butter into a large bowl.
Crack the 2 eggs into a small bowl and gently whisk.
Add the whisked eggs to the bowl and then mix until all the ingredients are fully combined.
Add the chocolate and the orange zest and mix to ensure they are distributed evenly.
Divide the mixture between 12 muffin cases and place in the oven for 18-20 minutes until they are golden and springy to the touch.
These didn’t last long, and it wasn’t because we had friends popping in to share them! Atticus and Ophelia did a stellar job and even helped with the washing up and were rewarded with a clean bowl of water with bubbles for their boats. Yes they did get rather soggy and it did necessitate a change of clothes for each child, oh and several tea towels to absorb all the water that had spilled onto the floor!
There are two big things we are currently doing; waiting for our shipping crate with the kids’ toys and books and our car to arrive and adjusting to the new house, living in a small community, the weather conditions and the price and availability of food. The first hurdle for me was that the key to our back door, which faces the sea, is labelled front door and the key for the front door which faces the street is labelled back door. It turns out that the sea is used as point of reference. The first time I tried to lock the front door with the key labelled accordingly, Simon had to come to my rescue as I was getting increasingly frustrated at my lack of progress. Have I changed the key rings around? Nope, I have adapted to that fact and moved on.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are expensive. Yes you can buy them, but gone are the 6 small apples for under £1. This has meant that I have adapted. I found some tinned apples in the supermarket. Now had we still been in the UK, I wouldn’t have contemplated using tinned apples. It does have to be said they are significantly less faff than having to peel, core and chop apples and then stew them. We just opened the tin and spread them out in the Pyrex! Simple!
Now apple and peanut butter is a favourite snack of mine and I thought adding the chopped nuts and the peanut butter would make this pudding a bit different. I believe I was right as the peanut butter gave it the qualities of a self-saucing pudding. I could have eaten the whole pudding, but I think I would have had an exceptionally grumpy family had the refrain all the yummies are mummy’s turned out to be true on this occasion!
1 tin of apples
8tbsp self raising flour
8tbsp caster sugar
4 tbsp chopped nuts (3 to put with the nuts and one for the top)
3-4tsp peanut butter.
Preheat the oven to 150°c fan.
Spread all the tinned apples out into the bottom of a Pyrex dish or baking tin. I like to use Pyrex dishes for this kind of pudding so you can see the apple and the cake layer.
Sprinkle or spoon 3tbsp of the chopped nuts over the apples.
Gently dollop the tsps. of peanut butter in random places over the apples.
Put all the cake ingredients into a large bowl and mix them all together quickly until they are fully combined.
Spread the cake over the apples and peanut butter and then sprinkle the remaining chopped nuts over the top.
Place in the oven for 15-17 minutes until the cake is golden brown and springs back when gently touched.
Much to my delight, this recipe was featured in the Falkland Islands Newspaper, Penguin News. I really hope that you enjoy this pudding as much as we did. Please do get in touch if you make this as we love to hear from people who have used our recipes.
Mushrooms are my husband’s favourite vegetable. Unfortunately, they are not mine (long live courgettes!) Now I come to think of it Simon and I both have rather strong feelings about our favourite vegetables, but he wouldn’t choose to eat a courgette and I wouldn’t choose to eat a cooked mushroom. I like to eat button mushrooms raw, but don’t do so well when they are cooked. Two of our children seem to agree with me about the mushrooms, but the third, or actually the first, seems to quite enjoy them. It is real juggling act remembering what each child will or will not eat!
To encourage the children to try mushrooms, I thought it was time that we tried to use them in a recipe. It was a fun recipe to make with chopping, measuring, spooning, mixing and then trying it. One boy enjoyed them with encouragement, the other ate the filling – which did also contain chopped mushroom so that is progress and the little girl completely ignored them on her plate. Their daddy quite happily dealt with all the leftovers without a single reference to me!
Serves 4 as an accompaniment.
4 large flat mushrooms
15g pine nuts
10g grated cheddar
Preheat the oven to 180° fan and lightly grease a baking tray.
With a table knife, carefully chop off the mushroom’s stalk and chop into small pieces and place in a bowl.
Chop the mozzarella into small pieces and add to the bowl with the mushroom stalks.
Add in the pine nuts and pesto and mix until it is all combined.
Spoon the filling equally between the four mushrooms.
In a separate bowl add the breadcrumbs and the cheddar and mix together. If your kids want to grate the cheese, I would recommend a box grater.
Sprinkle the cheesy breadcrumbs over the mushrooms .
Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the mushrooms are cooked.
Welcome to my first blog post from the Southern hemisphere! I apologise for the somewhat haphazard recipe, but I must confess I have no scales so all measurements were in cups, well mugs actually, and I doubled the recipe below as we were using a roasting tin. The latter doesn’t bother me though; it merely means that we have more flapjack than I originally planned. Faithful readers are bound to have had enough of me droning on about my love of flapjack, but I shall repeat – my love for flapjacks runs deep and true. I am, however, point blank refusing to buy more baking equipment when we should be receiving my stuff at the end of next month. We shall see how firm my resolve is after another fortnight without my stuff, but for now it is cast-iron strong and not at all faltering…
We are starting to settle into our new home, well we must be if the kids are in the kitchen. It was a bit touch and go when I realised that we had no hangers, but I solved that problem so nearly everything has a home with my slightly wonky logic. I really do hate unpacking so Simon may well have had to delve into his savings of patience while I was putting off the inevitable chore!
Our kitchen set up here is a little different, and to tell the truth it may well take some getting used to, don’t think for a second that the kids would let any of this hinder us. I did let Ophelia wash up after this and I did think that it was going rather well and then I realised that she had used nearly an entire bottle of washing up liquid! Why oh why did I turn my back on her?!
These are Tropical Flapjacks as they contain orange juice and zest, raisins and desiccated coconut. Tropical in flavour but, it’s just a shame that the August weather in Stanley doesn’t match the summery fruity vibes of these yummy flapjacks. They make me think of sunny memories in Loughborough and Surrey before our departure from the UK. They are perfect for after school snacks (if you are lucky enough that your angels have returned) or puddings or even if the kids are driving you around the bend and you need a little treat.
1/2 cup of butter or margarine
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup of golden syrup
1 cup jumbo oats
1 cup regular oats
1/2 cup of desiccated coconut
zest of 1 orange
3tbsp orange juice
Preheat the oven to 140°c fan.
Grease a brownie pan or medium-sized roasting tin if you double the recipe like we did!
Put the raisins in a bowl and cover with the orange juice.
Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup over a low heat.
Zest the orange, we used a box grater for this – I did have to remove it from Finch as he was about to grate the orange as well.
Pour both types of oats, the desiccated coconut, the orange zest and the raisins into the melted sugary mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until completely combined.
Dollop the oat mixture into the tin and gently spread it around with the back of the wooden spoon. Make sure there is an even layer.
Cook for 20-25 minutes until the flapjacks are golden. Allow to cool in the tin before removing and slicing.
As usual, I demonstrated my lack of patience by endeavouring to slice them before they were fully cooled. Despite the fact that they crumbled a bit, they were really yummy. I think the kids will have to keep a close eye on me tomorrow morning to ensure that I don’t decide to eat the rest of them for breakfast!