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.
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!
I never do things by half. I read the quantities in a recipe and my brain seems unable to process how much a recipe will yield despite clear measurements. I am so prone to doubling recipes and then having enough cake or dinner to serve a family twice our size. That said, when I make sweet mincemeat at Christmastime I always remember the kids are hit and miss with mince pies and Simon definitely isn’t a fan. So I never double the mincemeat recipe; it already creates enough for me to have pretty much a daily mince pie all year round! While this does, at the moment, sound wonderfully appealing, I am not so sure I would appreciate a mince pie for my birthday in April or even to mark the summer solstice.
As not everyone likes mince pies, I did put my thinking cap on back in the autumn and came up with some alternative bakes to lace with my homemade sweet mincemeat. My first thought was brownies (see my previous post) and my second was flapjacks. As I am sure I have already mentioned more than once, I LOVE a good flapjack. So easy to make and the illusion of being healthier than a cake or brownie while still feeling like a treat. We decided to add some of our homemade marzipan to our flapjacks too to augment the Christmassy and festive feeling of these yummy delights. Further thought also makes me realise that these would also be perfect for after Christmas as a way to use up any leftover mincemeat.
These flapjacks also work well with gluten free oats. They don’t contain any extra sugar added in as the mincemeat contains sugar and dried fruit. The amount of mincemeat gives a subtle seasonal flavour. You could add 50-75g more if you want a stronger flavour of it.
6tbsp golden syrup
200g mincemeat (we used homemade, but a jar would work well too.)
175g jumbo oats
250g rolled oats
This can be cooked in a brownie tin, or in individual muffin cases (we used silicone ones)
Preheat the oven to 160°c fan and either grease and line a brownie pan or use a muffin tray (silicone liners or paper would both be fine.)
Put the butter, golden syrup and mincemeat in a heavy bottomed pan and put over a low heat to melt and combine.
Meanwhile, chop the marzipan with a table knife or a child safe knife.
Put all the oats in a large mixing bowl. Once the butter mixture has fully melted, remove from the heat and pour it into the oats and mix thoroughly. This ensures that the children are not handling the hot saucepan.
Add in the chopped marzipan and mix again so ensure it is evenly distributed.
Place in the oven and cook for 25-30 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and gently slice while hot and leave to cool fully in the pan.
If you do manage to cook this before Christmas or even decide to give it a go after Christmas to use up any leftover mincemeat I would love to hear from you.
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!
Oats, oats glorious oats nothing quite like it for feeding the goats making yummy flapjacks. I am sure I have mentioned how much I enjoy flapjacks in the past. Oats make me feel healthy and good about all the baking we do. This time around I decided it was time to make a savoury flapjack recipe. I was toying with the idea of a hidden vegetable flapjack, then I remembered that with the kids helping me make them they would see the so called hidden vegetables (well courgette which they all seem to despise) and therefore knowing my luck, refuse to try them. My back up was to make a recipe where cheese has a starring role. The kids will gobble up pretty much any snack item which contains cheese. They really must have very strong bones as they all drink quite a lot of milk too. Maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to jump to cheese in pretty much every savoury recipe, but that is another story altogether!
I have discovered that these flapjacks are ridiculously addictive. I dare you to only manage one. I cut ours into little fingers so that I wouldn’t eat quarter of the batch in one sitting. Incidentally this also makes them finger food-sized for the smallest of foodies.
1tsp baking powder
200g Greek style natural yoghurt
200g grated cheese
1 tsp mustard powder
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp salt
Pepper to season
To make these gluten free, use gluten free oats, baking powder and ensure that you check the ingredients list of your Worcestershire Sauce. Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce is gluten free.
Preheat the oven to 170°c fan and grease and line at 20cm square tin.
Add the oats, baking powder, Greek style natural yoghurt, grated cheese, mustard powder, salt and pepper to a large bowl.
Crack the eggs in a little jug or cup and add the Worcestershire sauce.
Pour the egg mixture into the large bowl with the dry ingredients.
Mix thoroughly until fully combined.
Put into the lined tin and flatten with the back of a metal spoon.
Place in the oven for 20 minutes until firm and golden.
Allow to cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes before removing and placing on a wire rack.
Slice when cool.
I hope you enjoy this cheesy recipe. I think this has become a new favourite savoury snack for Seb!
We got some reduced strawberries and rhubarb from the supermarket and my initial thought was this would make a really tasty crumble. However, then I remembered that the boys really don’t get on with it so I started thinking of other options to use the ingredients. My little grey cells got on it and my brain jumps as it so often does to flapjack. Have I mentioned before that my love for flapjack runs deep and true? Well I can tell you right now that it does.
It has to be said that Simon was somewhat confused at my making flapjacks instead of crumble (he really loves crumble and was expecting a crumble!). However, after having tried one he told me they were delicious. Seb and Ophelia loved them. Atticus, after eagerly devouring the remnants left in the bowl decided he didn’t like them. Contrary child. It isn’t at all frustrating when a child will happily lick the bowl and then refuse to try the end product said no mum ever! He did end up gobbling one up later and declared how yummy it was…
These fruity flapjacks were made with coconut oil so are dairy free. The oats could easily be substituted for gluten-free oats. I love it so much when a recipe can easily adapted to make it suitable for everyone!
175g coconut oil
175g golden syrup plus 1 tbsp to coat the rhubarb
175g light brown sugar
50g desiccated coconut
50 flaked almonds
Preheat the oven to 160ºc fan and grease and line a brownie tin.
Slice the rhubarb (Atticus needed help with this as it is very hard before cooking) and mix with 1 tbsp of golden syrup and roast in the oven for 15 minutes.
Slice the strawberries (pay close attention to the kids at this point, as if yours are anything like mine they will try to sneak copious amounts of strawberries and you may well have to replenish your stock!)
Measure out the coconut oil, golden syrup and sugar and place in a sauce pan and put over a low heat and mix until melted and stir to combine.
Put in the oats, desiccated coconut and flaked almonds and mix well. Add the sliced strawberries and the rhubarb. Please beware as the golden syrup coating them will be very hot. Atticus carefully slid them in with the spoon while I held the hot baking tray.
Cook in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Leave to cool completely in the tin before removing them and slicing. The result is a beautifully moist and sticky flapjack, with a fruity flavour!
Following the success of my Sticky Toffee Pudding Biscuits, I decided that the kids and I would attempt to reimagine another classic pudding. This time, the pudding in the spotlight is the carrot cake.
All the kids love carrots in pretty much any form. I ate a lot of raw carrots during my pregnancy with Seb, and as a result a raw carrot is a go-to snack for the kids when we are out and about. It also takes a lot longer to eat a large carrot than a biscuit, it is healthier and less sticky and messy for small paws during a buggy ride or walk. It is a win-win in my book. Although I do look a bit strange carrying around whole carrots in my handbag and distributing them to the kids to delighted shrieks and it must look especially strange when I also decide to partake of the healthy snack! It also leads me to start listing my favourite fictional bunnies in my head (if you are interested the list includes Tweak Bunny, Peter Rabbit and Thumper).
These were easy to make. If you have very young children (between 18 and 36 months) I would suggest you do the bit over the stove for them. My children, in particular Atticus, have always been really fascinated by the stove and any cooking either Simon or I do on it, so I have become accustomed to allowing them to sit on a stool and gently mix the pans while the dinner cooks. It is for that reason I tend to allow my children to help at the stove.
For the flapjack base
150g butter or margarine
50g brown sugar
140g golden syrup
40g sesame seeds
For the carrot cake topping
225g lighter condensed milk
1 large egg
2tbsp orange juice
1tbsp plain flour
100g grated carrot (I let the kids help me with this)
25g ground walnuts (we put these into the food processor)
20g desiccated coconut
1/4-1/2tsp cinnamon (amount dependent on how cinnamony you like things)
Orange drizzle (optional)
For me this was an afterthought. They are yummy without any icing, but they do look a bit plain so if you would like to drizzle some on top mix 25g icing sugar and a couple tbsp of orange juice. If you want it thicker add more icing sugar and more orange juice if you want a thinner icing. I like to use quite thick icing so it can be seen.
Although I have not tried it, I believe this recipe could be easily adapted to make it gluten free by substituting the oats and flour for the gluten free equivalent.
Preheat the oven to 160ºc and grease and line a 20cm square cake tin.
Put the butter, brown sugar and golden syrup into a saucepan and melt to combine on the stove. When it has fully melted, add the oats and sesame seeds and mix well.
Place the flapjack mixture into the tin and place in the oven for 10 minutes.
While the flapjack is cooking make the carrot cake topping. Put the condensed milk, orange juice, plain flour and egg into a bowl and mix well. Add the grated carrot, raisins, ground walnuts, desiccated coconut and cinnamon and mix again.
Once the flapjack has cooked for 10 minutes remove from the oven and pour the carrot cake topping over it. Return to the oven and cook for 25-30 minutes or until the topping is set.
Remove from the oven and let cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Remove from the tin and add the orange drizzle if you want it. Cut into squares.
I hope you enjoy the recipe. I could eat a whole tray if given half the chance, but luckily with the kids around I don’t get that chance!