We may have only moved to Stanley back in August, but the family’s knowledge of penguins and love of them is much more ingrained. It all started when we were still a family of 4 and took a trip to London Zoo when we were visiting my parents. Atticus, at just over a year, was completely mesmerised by the penguins and it seems they stole his heart. When in the gift shop, he made a beeline for the toy penguins and Grandma purchased him one. It went everywhere with him and we ended up buying a second one online in case the first went missing in action. That initial penguin has made the trip out here, but we did have to limit the number of toy penguins the kids brought as I was sure we would be convinced to add to their collection during our time here.
I was compiling my list of potential Christmas bakes when I found a coconut mice recipe. The first thought that struck me was how much I love coconut. Then the idea of Coconut Penguins popped into my head. What could be better?! I mean it is a penguin made of coconut and sugar! Unsurprisingly the kids were fully on board with this idea and we have had requests for more Coconut Penguins ever since we finished the first batch.
250g icing sugar, sifted
200g condensed milk
175g desiccated coconut
Black food dye
Jelly diamonds (orange and yellow)
White chocolate buttons (or yellow smarties!)
Mini smarties (orange and yellow)
Line two baking sheets with baking parchment or silicone baking mats.
Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl (my kids love doing this job and always shriek; “it’s snowing!”)
Add in the condensed milk and desiccated coconut and mix. The mixture will be stiff, so smaller children may require some help.
Add generous squirts of the black food dye (it is difficult to get it truly black and ours looked more grey, but this didn’t detract from the kids’ enthusiasm for them) and mix again.
Take tablespoon-sized amounts and shape them into oval patties and put on the baking sheets. There is a sticky fingers warning here! Slightly damp hands will prevent this to a degree.
Decorate with two silver balls for eyes, half a jelly diamond for the beak, a white chocolate button for the tummy and two mini smarties for the feet.
Put in the fridge to set and then enjoy.
This recipe appeared in Penguin News on Friday 13 December 2019.
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.
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!
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.
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!
A friend very kindly gifted me some of the rhubarb she grew in her garden. Some of it made its way into rhubarb crumble, which according to another friend is an absolute must if you have any rhubarb, but the rest made its way into these Rhubarb Maple Muffins. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will be unsurprised to hear that these were an experiment. My children and husband seem to have become quite indulgent of all the crazy and hairbrained inspired ideas that we trial in the kitchen. I certainly do have children who are eager to experiment in the kitchen and are generally willing to try new foods even if they don’t initially like them. In time, I am hoping they will learn to put their own flavour combinations together and like a wider range of flavours.
Rhubarb isn’t known for its super sweet qualities. I quite like it when it retains some of its natural tartness in a bake and isn’t fully masked in sugar. So to compliment its flavour I decided we would use maple syrup instead of sugar in our muffins. The maple syrup adds a nutty flavour to them and as it is a liquid makes it very easy for little chefs to mix all the ingredients together. I will say that I cut all the rhubarb into small pieces as it required a bit of strength and the 2 year old wouldn’t have managed this. Her and her brothers did enjoy seeing what the whole rhubarb looked like complete with its large leaf. I think Ophelia’s favourite thing about it was that it was pink. She was over the moon when she realised we were going to use the pink branches mummy had been given!
This recipe does make a bakers dozen of muffins which is great when it comes to sharing the spoils, but somewhat frustrating when dividing the mixture and then using another muffin tray for a single muffin… You could make some mini muffins with it too if you are looking to control portion sizes more easily for your tinies and if you are unsure what their reaction will be to rhubarb. For full disclosure, my kids were not a fan of the rhubarb. This will not deter me, I am still going to cook it with them as some of them have enjoyed it in other bakes in the past (Strawberry and Rhubarb Flapjacks). All the grown ups who tried them did give favourable reviews so I am unperturbed!
300g plain flour
1/2tsp baking powder
Zest of 1 orange
300g finely chopped rhubarb
2 beaten eggs
180ml maple syrup
100g melted butter
Preheat the oven to 180°c fan and line 13 muffin holes with cases.
Put the dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix to combine.
Add the rhubarb and orange zest and mix again.
Crack the eggs into a jug and whisk.
Add the milk, melted butter and maple syrup to the beaten egg and whisk again to combine.
Pour into the dry ingredients and mix fully.
Divide the mixture between the muffin cases and place in the oven for 25-30 minutes until springy to the touch.
Allow to cool and enjoy.
It always surprises me which part of the recipe my kids end up enjoying the most. In this one, zesting the orange was definitely Ophelia’s favourite task. Licking the bowl was a close second though!
Do your youngsters like rhubarb? Do you think they would like to try these? Please do get in contact if you make this recipe; I would love to hear from you.
Every time it feels like I have my children pegged, they turn round an surprise me. I know they don’t do this to be contrary, but their little quirks often leave me bemused. Allow me to enlighten you all further. Ophelia, like most two year old girls, loves pink – it is her favourite colour. No one else in the house is allowed to have that colour as their favourite. I have been told that my favourite colour in no uncertain terms is purple! (This is fine by me, but have I created a little bossy monster?!) She lives for the days when she can wear as many mismatched items of pink clothing and display them to as many people as possible. She is also the little girl who refuses to be left out by her brothers and insists on joining in with their superhero games and who received a Hulk costume for Christmas so she isn’t left out.
She also loves glitter and all things that sparkle. Unicorns it seems fall into this category. She has unicorn toys, a back pack and a lunchbox. So with this bake for World Unicorn Day on the 9 April (yes this is a thing, I was unaware until a post on Instagram informed me of the fact) I thought I would be making these with just her, but the boys also eagerly insisted on joining in – an unexpected, yet welcome surprise (this proves you should never – even subconsciously – try to categorise your children…).
The success of this bake should be measured by the fact that I have had to hide them from everyone so that they don’t gobble them up without me noticing. Because I am clearly the only one who can be trusted with leftover cake in this house… My only motive is to ensure that everyone gets their fair share and so I can take a secret blondie tithe!
To make the different colours, we used frozen blueberries and raspberries instead of food dyes. They don’t produce as vibrant a colour as food dyes do, but they do add a really nice fruity taste to them. They also make me think that they are slightly healthier despite all the chocolate!
400g white chocolate (300 for inside the blondies and 100 for on top)
175g caster sugar
175g plain flour
1/2tsp baking powder
75g frozen blueberries
75g frozen raspberries
Remove the blueberries and raspberries from the freezer and allow to defrost a little. I placed mine on defrost in the microwave for 20 seconds each.
Preheat the oven to 170°c fan and grease and line a brownie pan.
While still in the packets, bash the chocolate with the end of a rolling pin to make small pieces.
Place 100g of the chocolate pieces into a heatproof bowl with the butter and put in a double boiler until all melted. Allow to cool a bit.
Put the sugar and eggs in another bowl and whisk together until smooth and completely combined.
Gradually add the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat together.
Sift in the flour and the baking powder and fold together.
Add another 200g of the bashed chocolate and mix so all the bits are evenly distributed.
Divide the mixture between 3 small bowls as evenly as you can.
Using a stick blender, zap the blueberries and raspberries (in their separate containers) until they are smooth.
Put the blitzed raspberries into one of the blondie bowls and the blueberries into one of the other bowl and mix to combine.
With three separate spoons, dollop alternate blobs of the three mixtures into the brownie pan creating a pretty pattern as you go.
Place in the oven for 25-30 minutes until cooked.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for a while.
Melt the final 100g of white chocolate and drizzle all over the blondies (we used a teaspoon to do this) and decorate with copious amounts of rainbow or unicorn sprinkles or even edible unicorn wafers like we did.
I hope you have a sparkly and colourful World Unicorn day filled with rainbows and other beautiful things, but most importantly these Unicorn Blondies. Today is 9 April, and I am happy to report that we have three small squares of blondie left for the kids today. That is good planning and restraint on my part!
I find baking therapeutic. I even find baking with children relatively therapeutic. This is especially true when the alternative is a 20-minute argument about what board game they should play or TV show they should watch or a meltdown because one little Gilbert didn’t listen to any other little Gilbert’s ideas. The reason for this is generally because any argument can be solved by licking the bowl or by consuming copious amounts of leftover melted chocolate. Yes there are times when the melted butter pot gets knocked over or the flour manages to escape out of the packet and everyone swears they didn’t touch it, but the good in it definitely outweighs the bad and most of the time I get through the activity with my frazzled temper relatively intact! Disclosure; I would like to remind my lovely readers that the more children you try to cook with, the more stressful the undertaking for the ‘responsible’ adult. As a mum who has been cooking with little people for around 5 years, if you manage to get through the planned recipe with no mistakes or cross words I salute you! You deserve all the chocolate!
These squares were initially mummy-daughter baking time. The boys didn’t participate as they had agreed on a game and were tearing around the garden completely immersed in their imaginations (completely lovely to see especially seeing as it was a rather rotten day). But as is so often true, two is company and three a crowd so Ophelia was at a loose end. And as it is a darn sight easier to cook with just one child rather than my whole tribe, I enjoyed this time with just her and she seemed to enjoy having me completely to herself!
This recipe makes a thin biscuit bar coated in chocolate. Don’t be tempted to place it in a smaller tin for a thicker biscuit. It will fit in a brownie pan when spread out thinly – your little chef may need a bit of help to achieve this. If you are making these bars with small children I recommend using more chocolate to coat them as it is easier to spread a thicker layer of chocolate than a thin one to ensure that the top of the bar doesn’t get damaged. I think these are yummy with desiccated coconut or chopped almonds on the top. Unsurprisingly, Ophelia prefers them with sprinkles – the pinker the better! You will see that she and I compromised and both coconut and multi-coloured stars to decorate one of the batches.
For the biscuit base
100g margarine (or softened butter)
100g light soft brown sugar
1 egg yolk
50g plain flour
50g porridge oats (this recipe works best with bog standard oats rather than jumbo ones)
For the top
If for young children 200g milk chocolate and 50g margarine/butter
For older children 150g milk chocolate and 40g margarine/butter
Chopped nuts, desiccated coconut or sprinkles to decorate
Preheat the oven to 180°c fan and grease a brownie pan with a silicone baking brush and line it with greaseproof paper.
Put the margarine, sugar and egg yolk into a bowl and mix until smooth, pale and creamy.
Sift in the flour and add the oats and gently mix them in.
Carefully spread in the brownie tin (adult help may be required here) and cook for 15-20 minutes until golden.
Remove from the oven and melt the chocolate and margarine. This can be done in a double boiler on the stove or in the microwave. If you are using the microwave, melt it in short bursts on medium power, ensuring you mix it frequently.
Pour the chocolate over the biscuit base (the tin will probably still be hot, so carefully) and spread with a silicone spatula. Decorate with your toppings of choice.
Cut into squares while still warm and then leave in the tin until they have completely cooled.
Every time these are made I am surprised when they survive the night as I am always worried I may decide to sneak down stairs and devour the whole batch before the children wake! Do get in contact if you make these and let me know what you think.
Do you ever buy a packet of Filo pastry and use only a small amount of it only to be left what you are going to do with the rest of the packet?! Maybe it is just me. I made a Slimming World friendly pie for Simon and my mum and it only called for one sheet of Filo pastry. So I decided the kids and I would use the rest in a sweet recipe. As they are often reluctant to try crumble and recipes with stewed fruit (please read here, wouldn’t touch stewed fruit with a barge pole) I decided to try and alter the texture of the cooked fruit with masses of crushed bourbon biscuits, and a couple of tablespoons of Sweet Freedom Spiced Orange Choc Shot. The kitchen smelt amazing while we had this on the stove! I would have happily eaten the oranges, crushed biscuits and Choc Shot mixture straight from the pan. I was instead on my best behaviour as Seb was in charge of the pan and I didn’t want to be admonished by a six year old!
This recipe was so much fun to make; the kids had fun crushing biscuits and painting the filo pastry with melted butter. It’s true that the filo pasty sheets are fragile and they did need help moving single sheets before painting them, but we didn’t have any major mishaps! Also we put the melted butter in a wider based bowl than the last time we worked with filo pastry so I didn’t have any melted butter to clear up!
100g melted butter
3 oranges, peeled
4-5tbsp of light muscovado sugar
100g bourbon biscuits (or any other chocolatey biscuits)
2 tbsp. Sweet Freedom Spiced Orange Choc Shot
50g chocolate chips
1 pack of filo pastry
Icing sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 200°c and put a silicone baking sheet on a baking tray.
Slice the oranges into bite-sized pieces, bash the walnuts and crush the chocolate biscuits.
Put a couple of tbsp. of melted butter into a saucepan and add the oranges over a low heat.
Add the walnuts, crushed biscuits and the Choc Shot and mix all well. You should have a sticky chocolatey mess. It should be thick and not runny.
Lay a single sheet of filo pastry on the silicone baking mat and paint with melted butter and add a sprinkling of the muscovado sugar.
Add another sheet of filo pastry and repeat step five. Continue until you have used all the sheets of filo pastry.
Place the filling down one long side of the pastry and roll it up to make a long sausage, tucking the ends in as you role (I did this bit).
Ensure the strudel is seam-side down and brush with melted butter and the remaining muscovado sugar.
Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes until golden and crisp and the pastry is cooked through. Leave to cool for 10-15 minutes before sprinkling with icing sugar and serving with ice cream and/or more Choc Shot.
Two out of the three kids loved this recipe so I am counting it as a win. I thought it was yummy and would have happily scoffed the whole strudel all by myself. The only thing that stopped me is that I had had quite a cake-heavy day and I really thought I should lay off more sweet treats or I would have had a sugar rush all night!