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!
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!
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:
190g bread flour
½ teaspoon instant dry yeast
100ml warm water
15g melted butter or margarine
½ teaspoon fine salt
Olive oil for coating
Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until well combined.
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.
Cover the bowl with clingfilm or a clean tea towel and let it rest at room temperature for at least one hour.
Preheat your oven to 160°c fan and line 2 baking sheets with silicone mats or baking parchment.
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.
Gently stretch and roll each piece into a long sausage shape around 30cm long. Some of ours were longer than others.
Brush them with a little olive oil.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and crisp.
Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
This article appeared in Penguin News on 17 July 2020.
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.
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 wholemeal self-raising flour
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.
Preheat the oven to 160°c fan and put 12 cupcake cases into a muffin tin.
Sift in the flour and add in the water and 25ml of milk and combine well.
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.
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.
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
1/8tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
1tbsp chocolate/dried fruit
To make a cookie:
Preheat the oven to 160°c fan and line a baking sheet
with a silicone baking mat or parchment.
Put the butter, sugar and vanilla in a small
bowl and cream together using a teaspoon.
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.
Add in the chocolate/dried fruit and roll into a
Place on the baking tray and flatten slightly
with your hand.
Cook for 10-12 minutes and allow to cool on the
tray – warm cookies are fragile.
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.
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
450g self raising flour (we used a mixture of wholemeal and regular)
Spoon the dried fruit into the cold tea and leave to soak overnight.
Line a large loaf tin with baking parchment and preheat the oven to 160°c.
Beat the eggs into the sugar until completely combined.
Add the flour and the soaked dried fruit (with the remaining liquid) and mix to form a batter.
Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the top with the back of a spoon.
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.
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!
You know it is going to be one of those days when you are up before 7am with the kids in the school holidays. You know it is going to be longer than you want when in order to retain your sanity, you start baking before you would normally be leaving the house for the school run. Before you start yelling at your screen that I am crazy, my theory that over the summer it is cooler earlier in the morning and therefore easier to have the oven on without turning the whole house into a sauna and turning your children into little dragons set to breathe fire at each other and at you.
We made this recipe as we have a lot of dried fruit and nuts in the house – it seems I always put them in the trolley regardless of the quantity that I already own. So if you see me anywhere in the vicinity of a supermarket until the new academic year, please do feel free to remind me that I don’t need anymore of the aforementioned item or even remove them from my trolley unless I can tell you their exact date of use and purpose.
These cookies are ridiculously moreish; I managed to polish of significantly more of them than necessary for a healthy diet (after successfully completing a spin class, but still….) and the batch lasted under 24 hours from when they were made. The kids loved these and enjoyed bashing the walnuts and cutting the dates with scissors. I did also catch Atticus squeezing honey into his mouth directly from the jar. I was so surprised that I admonished him and he was so surprised that he dropped it. Luckily in this instance the jar was plastic. It is also a rather good thing that I wasn’t planning on sharing the honey with anyone outside the family.
25g melted butter/margarine
100g demerara sugar
100g self raising flour
1 egg, beaten
Place greaseproof paper or silicone baking mats onto a couple of baking trays.
Using scissors, cut the dates into small pieces.
Using a pestle and mortar or a rolling pin gently bash the walnuts into small pieces.
Crack the egg into a small cup or bowl and gently beat it.
Place all the ingredients apart from the flour into a bowl
Sift in the flour and mix until fully combined.
Take tbsp. of the mixture and either roll into balls (beware it is sticky!) or just dollop onto the baking tray.
Depending on the size of your cookies, you will have between 12 and 15.
Place in the oven for 10-12 minutes until golden.
Leave on the tray to cool for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
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.
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.
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
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.
It is the season for spring cleaning. I am not a huge fan of spring cleaning. Don’t get me wrong, I love the results, I just hate the sheer volume of work we always have to do to make the house look uncluttered. The reason we are in this mess is because we all seem to be hoarders. I am going to make a concerted effort to prevent our house becoming a nest of items with vague memories attached to them once we are done. But, I will probably be writing a very similar post this time next year!
Over half term, we all managed to escape our decluttering project and go to visit my mum. It was lovely not to have to think about sorting out our house and decide what we should keep and what should go. But it seems that we must have missed the process as we spent a significant amount of time helping her declutter. I have discovered it is much easier to sort someone else’s space rather than your own. So if I end up inviting you over for cake or under any other pretence, before accepting, it may be best to check that I am not going to put you to work!
Anyway, between moving boxes and hunting in the loft for other boxes, the kids and I managed to roast some chickpeas. I never thought I would be posting about roasting chickpeas, but the kids discovered that they liked crunchy chickpeas over Christmas when I bought some salt and vinegar ones for me. I was so surprised that they liked them, that I neglected to feel frustration at donating my treat to them! It seems sharing can be just as hard for grown up as their small charges! They have also been known to request them rather than a chocolate biscuit as an afternoon snack. Strange children; I don’t think I would ever make that choice!
This recipe was made with the younger two (five and two). The younger one enjoyed counting out tsp of the spices to add. The elder one trying to read the labels. They both had a good sniff of all of the ingredients. The scent of cinnamon is the one they seem to remember the most – probably because we seem to use it in savoury and sweet bakes. They do often associate it with chocolate though…
1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed.
1/2 tsp onion salt
1tsp lazy garlic
1tsp mixed herbs
Spray oil of choice
Preheat the oven to 200°c fan and line a baking tray with a silicone baking mat or greaseproof paper.
Put the chickpeas into a large bowl.
Add all the herbs and spices in with the chickpeas and either mix or gently move the bowl from side to side to ensure that the chickpeas are fully coated in the spices.
Pour or spoon out onto the baking tray and generously spray with oil.
Place in the oven for 40 minutes turning half way through.
Remove from the oven and let them cool completely before storing.
We didn’t have any left from this to store for another day as my youngest two really seem to enjoy them! They served as a substitute for crisps in one of our half term picnic lunches and their wasn’t a single complaint about the lack of crisps from any of the kids!
Ophelia had a Muddy Puddle walk for Save the Children at nursery today. By the sounds of it, grown ups and pre-schoolers alike had fun and managed to get drenched! In anticipation of this event, I thought it would be fun to make some muddy puddles of our own to get into the spirit. She had lots of fun spooning, mashing and squishing, mixing, dolloping and sprinkling. It has to be said that you do have to use your imagination when looking at them, because they could be described as looking a bit like cow pats. This was the reason for adding the leaf shaped sprinkles to make people realise their true nature!
This recipe is essentially a truffle made with only 3 ingredients (4 if you include the sprinkles!), but instead of rolling them into truffles, we dolloped teaspoons of the mixture onto greaseproof paper and flattened with the back of a spoon. To make these you will only need 1 small ripe avocado, chocolate and some vanilla extract. We used only dark chocolate as that is what I had in the house, but I would recommend using half dark chocolate and half milk chocolate if you are making this recipe for small children so that it is a little sweeter. To make them dairy free or vegan, you just need to ensure that your chocolate is dairy free/vegan.
Ophelia was rather intrigued by the large stone in the middle of the avocado and after several attempts managed to get it out. I loved the fact that she tried several times to get it out and didn’t give up until she had achieved it. I feel the need to add at this point, that this is the only way the boys will eat avocado! Ophelia seemed to like it on its own, but the boys have turned their noses up at it several times in salad and homemade guacamole. To my delight, Atticus asked for a second and as he was consuming avocado, I was happy to let him have another!
1 small ripe avocado
175g chocolate of choice (see above paragraph for further advice on chocolate choice)
1/2tsp of vanilla extract
Sprinkles of choice (we used autumn leaves ones which I managed to get on offer at TKMaxx, but anything, would work such as chocolate or coloured strands, etc)
Adult slice the avocado in half.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.
If sufficiently ripe, ask your child to pull out the stone. They may need encouraging to hold the avocado with one hand and to pull the stone out with the other hand.
Scoop out the flesh of the avocado and put it into a bowl. Mash with a fork until smooth. You may want to use a stick blender to ensure that it is completely smooth.
Add the vanilla extract and the melted chocolate to the mashed avocado and mix to combine fully.
Take tsp amounts and spoon onto a greaseproof lined baking tray and gently press down with the back of the teaspoon.
Add the sprinkles to the top and store in the fridge until you want to eat.
I thought these were really yummy and the kids enjoyed them too. They felt less naughty as they contained avocado rather than double cream. So two thumbs up from our family and a big yippie as they contain a hidden vegetable!
Do you have a go to treat that makes you feel better no matter what the world (or the nearly pre-schooler) may decide to throw at you? There are some days when we our smallest small displays all the world’s emotions within the space of a couple of hours. This goes some way to explaining why toddlers throw tantrums when these big emotions burst out even if it doesn’t make it any easier to cope with them! Anyway back to treats. The combination of chocolate and coconut transports me to my happy place from where I can cope with any new obstacles that our little monkeys may decide to hurl at us next. Needless to say it is also one of the children’s favourite flavour combinations too!
Coconut ice wasn’t a treat of my childhood, it seems to have featured more prominently in Simon’s. When brainstorming for this recipe, I was wondering how we could put our own stamp on it. It didn’t take me long to conclude that adding chocolate and raspberries to it would be the perfect way to do so. Practically everything is better with chocolate! Unless you are thinking along the lines of cheese then I would have to disagree.
The kids loved pretty much the whole of this recipe from decanting the condensed milk into the bowl, blitzing the raspberries, measuring the chocolate syrup and patting a layer in the tin each. Having three children may also have contributed to my conviction that this recipe needed a third layer so each child could have a go on their own! So just a way of reducing my stress levels and increasing my chocolate intake at the same time!
1tbsp Sweet Freedom Coconut Chocolate Shot (or
chocolate syrup of your choice)
1tsp vanilla extract
Allow the raspberries to defrost a little bit.
Put the condensed milk, and 340g of both the desiccated coconut and the icing sugar in a large bowl and mix together with a wooden spoon. When the mixture becomes stiff and difficult to mix, use your hands to bring it fully together.
Divide the mixture equally between three bowls.
Add 1tsp of vanilla extract to one bowl and mix or knead to combine.
Add 1tbsp of chocolate syrup to another bowl and mix or knead to combine.
With a hand held blender, blitz the frozen raspberries until smooth. You could also do this with the back of a fork or a food processor. Add to the final bowl and mix. Add enough of the remaining desiccated coconut and icing sugar to make the raspberry layer the same consistency as the other two.
Grease and line a tin with greaseproof paper (we used a 16cm square tin).
Dollop the vanilla layer into the bottom of a tin and flatten with the back of a metal spoon to reach all the edges. Pat even with fingers.
Spread the raspberry layer on top of the vanilla layer and spread a pat down.
Add the chocolate layer a spread to cover the raspberry layer.
Put in the fridge for at least 3 hours to set (we left ours overnight) and then cut into small squares or rectangles.
This treat graced our lunchboxes when we visited Legoland over the Easter holidays and it was a most welcome addition. We did receive some rather envious looks from other children queuing for the same ride while the kids were enjoying this! The icing on the cake for me in this instance was to see this recipe in print in Soar Valley Life Magazine.