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!
Do you ever buy a particular ingredient for a recipe, make the recipe and then end up left with the rest of the ingredient and no inclination to make the initial dish a second time quite so soon after? The other scenario is that you end up being completely unable to remember for what you originally bought them although when going around the supermarket they absolutely had to make their way into the trolley. I can tell you right now that I have been victim to both of these scenarios and unfortunately on more than one occasion. Is this a symptom of ageing or having kids?! Or is it a combination of the two?! Either way it is frustrating.
I bought some poppy seeds a while ago. I can’t remember their initial purpose and the packet was open so I must have used them for what I intended. As I was taking stock of our pantry, which isn’t messy – it is organised chaos, I found them and started to wonder what I could make with them. My initial thought was to combine them with lemon in something. But, while looking at my list of ideas of things I would like to make with the kids oatcakes jumped out at me. Then I realised that we also had some parmesan left in the fridge from making pesto and decided to combine the two. I also like the alliteration of parmesan and poppy seed! The latter was, of course, a big factor!
250g rolled oats
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
30g poppy seeds
50g grated parmesan
1tbsp melted butter
190-220ml boiling water
This recipe will make approximately 35 oatcakes with a 58mm round cutter.
Preheat the oven to 180°c fan and line two baking trays with silicone mats or greaseproof paper.
Put the oats, salt, bicarbonate of soda, paprika, poppy seeds and parmesan into a bowl and mix until combined.
Make a well in the centre and add the melted butter and mix with a wooden spoon.
Pour in the boiling water as much as you need to bring the dough together. We used 220ml. I poured the boiling water in and we mixed it with a wooden spoon initially. Then I checked its temperature and when it was a bit cooler we used our hands to bring it together fully.
Flour your surface and the rolling pin and roll out the oatcake mixture as thin as you can (some bits of ours were thinner than other bits) and cut out biscuits with the cutter.
Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the edges are becoming golden-brown and the oatcakes are firm to the touch (they will harden as they cool).
Transfer to a cooling rack to fully cool.
It seems that Ophelia thought that the oatcake was playdough as she insisted on poking and prodding it while cutting out the rounds. I can understand why she thought that, and I didn’t begrudge her a bit of time doing that and she didn’t have the patience or concentration to cut out all the rounds on her own.
These oatcakes were popular with all the children. I even managed to polish of quite a few when the kids had gone to bed. They taste great with extra cheese oh and pickle, I really love pickle!
We do a lot of cooking and baking in this house. No surprise there, you have probably seen the vast majority of my creations on here or on social media. I do admit to sometimes feeling guilty about the amount of sweet treats my kids consume. Sugar is still sugar even if it is in a homemade recipe. Increasingly I have started adapting recipes and reducing the sugar in some and we have even been known to make healthier options like cereal bars and no added sugar brownies.
This recipe is one that started off as one of a ‘healthy cake’, with no added sugar and only using some honey to sweeten it. But this time, I got influenced by the Great British Bake Off. These were originally going to be muffins, but after cake week on GBBO, I decided to make it into a traybake. When it came out of the oven, it smelt lovely and like a rich nutty banana bread. All good. Had we left it there, they would have been the original ‘healthy cake’ I had planned and fabulous for fuelling my kids on the return journey from school. But no, I let myself be convinced by my little people (it didn’t take much convincing in all honesty) to drench them in Nutella. Everything is better with Nutella right?! It did make them a lot messier too so they never ended up being eaten on the way home from school, only at the table to try and contain the inevitable mess! We did get 16 evenish looking pieces all decorated the same – we added an peanut on each of the slices to try and make them look elegant.
These can be made in a traybake like we did, or even in mini muffin or normal muffin sized portions. I often like to make 12 tiny muffins and 6 large ones so the children can have smaller portions and still eats ‘a whole cake’.
2 large ripe bananas
75g wholemeal flour
100g oats (ground in the food processor)
200ml unsweetened almond milk
300g smooth no added sugar peanut butter
3tbsp runny honey
1 tsp baking powder
1tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 160°c fan and grease and line a brownie tin.
Put the bananas into a large bowl and squish and squash with forks.
Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and mix until fully combined.
Place in the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Leave to cool for a little in the tin and then turn out onto a cooling rack.
When cool, spread Nutella or your chocolate spread of choice on them if you wish.
I admit these were shared with friends as I cannot be trusted with peanut butter or Nutella. I didn’t want to have an argument with myself about how many slices is too many!
If you do make any of my recipes I would love to hear from you on here or social media, so please do get in contact!
I am a big fan of malt loaf. During my second and third pregnancies I ate a lot of the stuff. The kids enjoy eating it and I love the fact that it is a slightly healthier treat. Malt loaf (or Soreen if you know it by its brand name), is called squishy cake in our house as it is so beautifully squishy and full of squidgy goodness. It is a name which encompasses its true essence.
I often make a loaf for when we go away as it can be stored for a week or so in an airtight container and seems to mature into its characteristics and get more squishy. It can, however, be a bit challenging to get nice neat slices. This means for an after school snack on the go or even at a picnic, it isn’t entirely helpful. Imagine my kids arguing over slices of squishy cake as they think someone else has the larger piece. I kid you not, this has happened and quite frankly this is the last thing I want at the end of the day or on a picnic! Especially after going to the effort of making it. And so I present to you Squishy-Cake Cakes! Instead of pouring the mixture into a loaf tin, we divided it between 12 muffin cases for individual treats with no excess plastic! This makes me a very happy bunny Kat!
75ml black tea
85g malt extract (plus extra for coating at the end. It can be bought at Holland and Barrett if you local supermarket doesn’t stock it)
40 dark muscovado sugar
50 dried cranberries
1 large egg
125g plain flour
1/2tsp baking powder
1/4tsp bicarbonate of soda
Heat the oven to 130°c fan and put 12 muffin cases (silicone or paper) into the slots of a muffin tray.
Pour the hot tea into a medium-sized bowl and add the dried fruit, the sugar and the malt extract. Beware, the malt extract isn’t as thick and viscous as it looks and it comes out rather quickly! Mix well until fully combined.
Crack the egg and add it to the mixture and mix again.
Add the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and mix quickly.
Divide the mixture between the muffin cases and put in the oven to bake for 17-20 minutes until they are firm and well risen.
Once out of the oven, brush them with a little more malt extract to glaze them and leave to fully cool.
The kids have been delighted with these Seb and Atticus have a particular fondness for squishy cake so were very eager to get started and eat the finished product. Ophelia was more hesitant, but oh my she can really make one disappear at an astonishing rate! Do reach out if you make these and let me know if you liked them. I shall leave you with a close up of the gorgeously squidgy squishy cake that is making me want to whip up another batch for me so I don’t have to share…
In my head, scones are the epitome of fancy snacking. I imagine more civilised and refined people than me sitting down in their finery and well coiffured hairstyles and perfectly made faces for high tea with a cup of tea and a perfectly proportioned scone with lashings of clotted cream and jam.
In my world, the closest I am going to come to having high tea in my schedule is me offering the kids scones after collection from school in order to fuel our 25 minute walk home. This helps them and me survive the inevitable tiredness to which they are likely to succumb without immediate sustenance and preventing me from saying something I may well regret on the return journey.
It has to be said, I do get bored of the same snack and treats so we do tend to mix it up a bit. This was the reason behind the carrot and coriander scones. I would say that carrots and sweetcorn are in tied first place for the kids’ favourite vegetable. They are all familiar with ground coriander as it frequently appears in our meals. I think Seb was somewhat flummoxed by the fact that coriander leaf and ground coriander look so different. The boys both did have a good smell of both types of coriander before we started making these scones. Discussions about colour, scent and appearance occurred.
Making these scones worked really well with them as they took turns so beautifully. They also successfully listened to the instructions and made these with minimal intervention from me. This makes me very happy!
Makes 15 scones with a 6cm cutter,
250g self raising flour
250g wholemeal self raising flour
130g grated carrot
1 small garlic clove
20g fresh coriander (chopped)
1tsp ground coriander
Egg (for egg wash)
Sesame seed (to top)
Preheat the oven to 200°c fan.
Mix both the flours together and add a pinch of salt and pepper.
Rub in the butter until it looks like breadcrumbs.
Bash the garlic clove with a wooden spoon to loosen the skin and peel the skin off. Crush the garlic and add to the breadcrumbs.
Chop the coriander (adult help may well be required at this stage – mine manged to cut a bit. I went over it again for smaller pieces, but we did still have some large pieces of coriander present!) and grate the carrot.
Add the grated carrot and the chopped coriander to the mixture.
Add the milk and squish and squash together with your hands until a dough forms.
Flour the surface and put the scone dough on it and flatten with hands or rolling pin until it is about 2.5cm thick.
Cut into rounds and place on a lined baking tray. Do this until the dough is all finished. You may have to consolidate the dough to be able to cut more rounds out.
Crack the egg and gently beat.
Brush the top of each scone with the egg wash and then sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Place in the oven for 15 minutes or until lightly golden.
Leave to cool on the baking tray for a couple of minutes before removing and placing on a cooling rack.
Seb in particular enjoyed these with cheese or ham for his lunch as well as a snack while walking home from the playground one afternoon. It seems the other two are more partial to fruit scones.
A couple of days ago while Simon was sorting out the plumbing following our downstairs bathroom’s cosmetic makeover, I had to get the children out from under his feet. Simon had let the boys ‘help’ him with the painting, but our mutual feeling was that they would definitely be a significant hindrance rather than a help during the plumbing process.
The kids don’t tend to react well when I attempt to take them away from daddy when he is around. I am sure that as I am the permanently at home parent, they see me as the boring parent as most of the disciplining falls to me. After persuasion, everyone agreed (with varying amounts of complaint at the situation) to accompany me and we left the house with tubs.
They were all rather excited about the tubs and I got asked what the tubs were for. As we approached our destination, the boys guessed our purpose which was blackberrying. Finally they seemed happy! Lots of fun was had by all on the trip. We collected nearly 800g of blackberries. I am sure Ophelia ate quadruple what she collected. She only seemed to find it necessary to store the blackberries which were still red that she had collected in her pot. The rest ended up in her tummy and all over her face and clothes! Maybe next time she will understand the task at hand a bit better! I am now feeling very grateful for the new washing machine that we had to buy last month because the old one finally gave up the ghost – something it had been threatening for around 18 months!
Lots of blackberry recipes immediately came to mind. Initially I intended to make a chocolate and blackberry tart, but Simon suggested it was time that I made something slightly healthier for the blog. After a bit of thinking, I decided that some of the blackberries would go nicely in some cereal bars. As a nod to my love of using herbs and spices in my baking I decided to pair them with some fresh mint. The aim was to achieve a hint of mint so that they tasted fresh rather than an overpowering wow that’s a lot of mint flavour! If mint isn’t your cup of tea, by all means, leave it out of the recipe all together.
Makes 12 bars, store in the fridge eat in 2-3 days.
For the cereal bars
15 fresh mint leaves
1 egg white
1tbsp melted coconut oil
50ml Greek-style natural yoghurt
For the drizzle
1/2tbsp Greek-style natural yoghurt
3-4tbsp icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 170°c fan and grease and line a 16cm square pan.
Count out the mint leaves and tear or chop into tiny pieces
Squash the blackberries with a fork and add the mint and mix around.
Add the rest of the ingredients for the cereal bars into a large bowl and mix thoroughly.
Add the blackberries and mint to the oat mixture and fully combine.
Put in the cake pan, spread out so it reaches all the corners. Use the back of a wooden or metal spoon to flatten the mixture in the tin.
Put in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until firm to the touch.
Leave to cool in the tin for around 15 minutes before turning out and putting on a cooling rack to finish cooling before slicing. If you have difficulty slicing them, put them in the fridge for 5-10 minutes first.
Once cooled, make the yoghurt drizzle by mixing the Greek-style natural yoghurt with the icing sugar and then drizzle it over the bars. I put a tea towel under the cooling rack while we were drizzling the icing as I didn’t want to have to clear up a sticky mess from the counter. I learn from the doughnut glazing experience that that was best!
These cereal bars had a beautiful purple colour and are sweetened with just honey and the icing sugar for the yoghurt drizzle. They make a perfect snack for little hands and Seb enjoyed them even more as he helped me make them without his brother or sister. Let me know if you have a try as I love to hear and see pictures if you create any of my recipes.
The kids are all cheese fiends. Whenever I get the cheese out of the fridge in their vicinity, it turns into a stealth mission so I can use it for its desired purpose without having to dole out bits of cheese to the children who have spotted me. Yes, it does end up being all three as the first one who sees it tends to squeal: ‘cheese!’ at such a volume that it brings the other two running complaining of hunger pangs as if I never bother to feed them. I promise you they are most definitely well fed and watered.
I decided it was time that we used cheese as the main ingredient in a bake again. After the success of the Rosemary and Parmesan Quinoa Muffins, it seemed like a good choice. Cheese and pickle is a long-term favourite flavour combination of mine. Incidentally, a bit of cheese and pickle sandwich was the first solid food that both the boys decided to steal off me when I wasn’t quite ready to admit that they were ready for weaning. Ophelia on the other hand decided to go for chocolate!
So this will be the last recipe with rosemary in it for while I promise. Otherwise I would have to consider renaming the blog Just Add Rosemary. I can report that the rosemary bush in the garden is now looking somewhat smaller – please don’t misunderstand me, we still have more rosemary than any family would want to eat in a year, but I seem to have banished the need to use it all up.
Whenever we use herbs and spices, I am always letting the kids have a smell so they can get a feel for the flavour before we use it and therefore be more likely to enjoy it or barely notice it in the recipe.The children now recognise the scent of rosemary and are happy when we use it. Atticus is in fact always offering to go and get me more for the cooking projects that we do. This is even for projects which don’t require it, and as I have been using it is all sorts of things recently this isn’t really surprising! It is not as if we are running low on the stuff so I see no need to complain if he is enjoying himself.
I have been wanting to try quinoa in muffins for a while. Initially I had in my head to use them in something sweet, but then after eating a quinoa salad I changed my mind and decided that savoury muffins would be really tasty. That is how these rosemary and parmesan quinoa muffins came about.
150g uncooked quinoa
200g finely grated parmesan
3 large sprigs of rosemary
Salt and pepper
Place the quinoa and the water in a pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes until the quinoa is tender. Allow to cool. I did this bit for Atticus and Ophelia.
Preheat the oven to 170°c fan.
Grate the parmesan with or without the help of your little people.
Wash and dry the rosemary. Take the rosemary off the stalks and chop. Atticus enthusiastically pulled it all off the stalks and then helped with the chopping. This will need quite a sharp knife, so there was discussion about sharp knives, being careful and paying attention and not getting distracted.
Put the cooled quinoa in a big bowl. Add the chopped rosemary, the parmesan and a small amount of salt and pepper.
Crack the eggs in and mix thoroughly.
Evenly distribute between the 12 muffin cases and cook for 25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
In my head I categorise vegetables into three categories: ones which everyone in the family will eat, ones which some of the family will eat, and ones which the grown ups will eat. Carrots and broccoli fall into the first category as do sweetcorn and peas. Tomatoes fall into the second category and vegetables like Pak Choi into the third. Courgettes seem to defy my attempts to categorise them as at the moment I am the only one who enjoys them. As I learnt in my studies (particularly French grammar), there is always an exception to the rule. Unfortunately, I can offer no explanation, and just share my general frustration at French grammar and the complexities of my children’s vegetable preferences (please just don’t mention potatoes to Atticus).
As I have previously mentioned, when vegetables are dressed up (otherwise known as fancy vegetables) the children are more likely to have a go and even enjoy them. On the undercover mission were: cauliflower, green beans, button mushrooms and carrots. Their disguise was ginger and soy sauce egg underlayer for a desiccated coconut and breadcrumb coating.
These fancy vegetables could be used as a snack or accompaniment to a main meal. The kids and I ate them as a snack and dipped some in peanut butter and Simon had his with some steak later in the day.
You can use whatever vegetables you want. Vegetables like parsnips, cauliflower and carrots will take longer to cook than button mushrooms, green beans or baby corn.
6 florets of cauliflower
12 button mushrooms
12 green beans
1tbsp soy sauce
1tsp crushed garlic
1tsp grated ginger
100g dried breadcrumbs
50g desiccated coconut
Preheat the oven to 170°c fan and line a couple of baking sheets with silicone mats.
Wash and dry the vegetables.
Chop the ends off the green beans (the kids did this with table knives).
Slice off or break off the cauliflower florets (Seb did this by breaking some off and with some help with a sharper knife cutting some off) and cut the carrot into batons (I did this). To make this a quicker activity you could prepare all the vegetables for the kids.
Crack the two eggs into a shallow bowl and whisk them. Add the soy sauce, the garlic, ginger and some salt and pepper. Atticus had a go grating the ginger, and they all had a good smell of it.
Measure out the breadcrumbs and desiccated coconut and mix them thoroughly together and put them on a plate.
Dip each bit of vegetable in the egg mixture and then roll in the breadcrumb-coconut mixture. My kids also enjoyed throwing the breadcrumb-coconut mixture at the vegetables (this may well explain the mess they made! See the last picture at the end.)
Put the mushrooms and beans on one baking sheet and the carrots and cauliflower on the other as they have different cooking times.
Place in the oven and remove the mushrooms and beans after 20 minutes and the carrots and cauliflower after 30 minutes.
Serve as a snack or an accompaniment to a main dish.
I was so very happy when all the kids ate the green beans and the mushrooms. Both are usually no goes with our kids. Since making this recipe, they have also all eaten green beans with their traditional Sunday roast, so I am pleased to announce that we have a vegetable which has moved category! When watching them eat, I was trying my best to contain the urge to dance around the kitchen with delight; I may be wrong but this would have distracted them from the task at hand and stopped them eating them!