Red Pepper and Cannellini Bean Fritters

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!

Not hugely photogenic, but totally delicious!
Sticky fingers warning!
Chopping with a table knife

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.

Ingredients

  • 1 tin cannellini beans
  • 150g roasted red peppers from jar
  • 75g sweetcorn
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 50g flour
  • 1/2 tsp garlic (we used frozen)
  • Seasoning

Method

  1. Adult line a couple of baking trays with silicone baking mats or baking parchment.
  2. Drain and rinse the cannellini beans and place in a large bowl.
  3. 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.
  4. Chop the peppers into small pieces. We used table knives.
  5. Add the chopped peppers, sweetcorn, flour, seasoning and garlic to the mashed beans.
  6. Crack an egg into a small bowl or mug and gently whisk.
  7. Pour the egg into the bowl and mix with a wooden spoon.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

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Frozen Raspberry Drops

Simon’s gardening philosophy is very simple; if you can’t eat it, he would prefer not to plant it. This has led to him creating a fruit patch in pretty much every single house in which we have lived. He also grew courgettes for me despite despising them – yes it must be true love. My summertime memories with the kids in our current house are saturated with harvesting fruit and vegetables from the garden and trying to persuade the kids that if the berries are still green then they are unripe… As they get older this is obvious, but to a one or two year old it is somewhat confusing!

The fruit patch doesn’t only produce fruit, it turns out it is also a wonderful for igniting the children’s imaginations. It has been a forest to explore; to look for Gruffalos or bears. I think it has also been a kelp forest during the Octonaut obsession each of our kids seems to have had!

Back to the subject of this post – raspberries. I wanted to use them in healthy recipe for summer with the kids and a bit of contemplation this was the outcome. These will definitely feature prominently in our summer kitchen and I hope they do in yours too.

Ingredients

The nearly 3 year old managed this recipe completely by herself.

With only 4 ingredients, this is a speedy recipe that children will love making. As an added bonus, it is perfect for working on fine motor skills with younger children and is a welcome treat in the summer months.

  • 150g fresh raspberries
  • 200g Greek-style natural yoghurt
  • 1/2tbsp honey
  • Milk chocolate chips

Method

  1. Wash your raspberries and allow to dry.
  2. Line a baking tray or container (that will fit in your freezer) with greaseproof paper or a silicone baking mat.
  3. Measure out the yoghurt into a large bowl and add the honey and mix to combine.
  4. Count out the raspberries and the same amount of chocolate chips (and maybe a couple of extra for hungry tummies!)
  5. Place a single chocolate chip inside each raspberry.
  6. One at a time, gently put the raspberries into the bowl of yoghurt and cover completely using a spoon.
  7. Fish the yoghurt-coated raspberries out with a fork and gently place them on the lined baking tray.
  8. Repeat until all the raspberries are covered.
  9. Place in the freezer until frozen and leave there until you want to serve them.

This recipe features in Soar Valley Life Magazine, July/August 2019

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Chocolate Dip

I love it when I plan to make something with the kids and I actually get round to making it the week I planned to. I know it sounds crazy, but I have list upon list of ideas that I want to try in the kitchen with my little chefs. Some make it to the top incredibly quickly, but others linger for a while before they have their turn in the limelight. I may have made this one the week I planned to, but writing it up to share with you all has taken another week or two. I am placing the blame for this one firmly in the court of the house spring clean. Yes I am still trying to sort our house – it is a job of epic proportions. I should maybe be calling it a summer clean now as despite the changeable weather, not even I can deny that it is in fact summer. I find myself continually distracted and I am at the stage where I find any other activity more interesting than the one at hand! Do I sort through a pile of mismatched toys or plan a list of baking activities?! Yup the latter tends to win. Oh and I am very good at planning, it seems finishing a task is my downfall.

Top; chocolate dip spread on pancakes, bottom left dolloped in cereal and bottom right as a dip for strawberries. All totally yummy and considerably less sugar than regular chocolate spread.

This recipe is essentially a chocolate hummus. We decided to call it dip as the kids had fun dipping strawberries into it. We have also discovered that it works remarkably well with pancakes and dolloped into a bowl of cereal for added protein at breakfast. I am fully aware that it is not a usual thing to make with kids. I know this because when I informed my husband what Ophelia and I were going to be making in the kitchen, a glazed expression crossed his face. He was probably thinking something along the lines of why doesn’t she just make a batch of cookies or cupcakes?!

Ophelia had fun looking at the ingredients and pouring them into the food processor. She took great delight in helping me push down the side with a spatula to ensure it was fully mixed. The best part, once again was licking the bowl. She asked to do this pretty much from the start. I am pretty sure she figured that baking on her own with me meant she wouldn’t have to share the treat. Her brothers were referenced a couple of times.

Ingredients

  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained
  • 140g 0% fat Greek-style natural yoghurt
  • 5 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 50g Sweet Freedom Chocolate Shot
  • 3 tbsp. honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Method

  • Add all of the ingredients to the food processor and blitz until smooth. Stop the food processor every so often to scrape down the edges to ensure that it is all mixed.
  • Store in the fridge until ready to use.

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Apricot and Pistachio Energy Balls

We are nearly at the end of January and I am taking big breathes to relax as we have made it. It really can be a really dreary and depressing month weather wise and with everyone trying to be good it can seem like the fun is sucked out of it. Let me tell you this though, it isn’t all bad as when life gets overly stressful, when the kids drive me round the bend, my wonderful husband sends me off to a café on my own, with my laptop so I can write a blog post in the day and he instructs me to eat cake. Yes my lovely readers, my gem of a husband sends me out to eat cake. Some of you may well struggle to believe that I have to be told to eat cake with all the things we make, but it turns out I do… I have just ordered my second slice and I am not feeling one bit guilty. Why? Because it has been a stressful day month and I have been really good since I devoured practically a whole batch of meringue topped mince pies – and that was last year! Please don’t remind me that that was only last month! Yes the second slice of cake may well cancel out the rest of the good in the month, but for my sanity I was ordered to eat cake, so I have. It is one thing I can tick of my list without any trouble. And I will vow to work with even greater dedication at the exercise classes I attend during the week. So if any of my instructors are reading this yes you may yell at me to work harder next week and I won’t roll my eyes at you or grimace at you. I promise. Well I promise to endeavour not to!

Ophelia deciding I had taken enough time photographing the snack and wanting to dive right in!

So before I went out to eat loads of cake, last week the boys made these delectable Apricot and Pistachio Energy Balls. We seem to get through kilos of dried fruit in cereal, cakes and snacks during the year, but looking back over the things we have made, I realised energy balls had never featured. The main reason is due to the nut content and me being super paranoid about another child getting hold of them in the school grounds. But when they have these, I herd the children out of the school grounds questioning where their snacks are, (it is after all a long walk or trek in their eyes home) and then distribute them to the eager recipients. I would maybe say though, they are probably better as a pack up snack in the winter months as they do need to be stored in the fridge.

Rolling the energy balls without licking their fingers!

I promise they couldn’t be easier to make. My children made them one evening after school and enjoyed the fruits of their labour the rest of the week and over the weekend. They are literally one of the easiest thing to make with your little chefs. We also made it a game to see who could go the longest while rolling them into balls without licking their fingers. I have to say even I was sorely tempted to lick my fingers as they were so truly scrummy and at the end we all sat there eating the remains off our fingers before hand washing! We truly must have looked a sight! Poor Ophelia though, watched from the other end of the counter as she had a particularly bad cold I that was one thing I was not eager for her to share. She was given a little spoon to lick to feel included while she chatted along to grandma.

Ingredients

  • 275g dried apricots
  • 85g shelled pistachios
  • 2tbsp runny honey (or use maple syrup to make vegan)
  • 50g oats

Method

  1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and put the lid on.
  2. Turn it on at a medium speed. You may need switch off and scrape the sides a bit.
  3. Blend together until the ingredients form a big thick clump.
  4. Remove the lid and the blade from the food processor and take pieces of the mixture and roll into balls. Ours were all slightly different slices, but mainly around the half a tbsp. mark.
  5. Refrigerate for a couple of hours and the return to the fridge in a tub. These will store in the fridge for a week or so.
Challenge completed!

It has to be said that the boys were more fond of these than Ophelia. I do think that the no finger licking contest that they had going made this activity even more fun and made them want to eat even more of them! There were many happy sounds from them when I said I had energy balls for snacks. I think we shall be trying some different flavours next time. I am dreaming of chocolate and ginger… I shall leave that one out there and hopefully they will come around at some point!

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