Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Hens & wraps

We have hens!  
It's something we've been talking about for ages, Mr Chief is the kind of guy who wants to research everything thoroughly before committing and so we've been visiting chicken farms, looking at coops and runs, discussing how many, where to keep them, etc for the last year.  We went for another visit (after Master Chief and I drew a fantastic chicken run picture on a restaurant napkin) to our local chicken farm and I managed to persuade Mr Chief that we should bite the bullet and just get them.  So we now have two hens, a light Sussex and a Bluebell.  They're settling in nicely and then yesterday....

Hurrah!  They're small but perfectly formed, and I used them this evening to make the frittata featured in a previous post (  I made it for the kids but obviously had to try some - delicious!

In other news, as it's half term (more about that later) I have zero energy after the kids have gone to bed.  If I haven't used my trusty slow cooker or managed to throw something together during the day then it has to be minimal effort dinner for me and Mr Chief.  Tonight's offering was Cajun prawn salad wraps, and they turned out pretty good.  

Olive oil
Cajun spice
Red pepper
Spring onion

What to do
Chop up the lettuce, peppers, spring onion and cucumber into small pieces and mix together in a large bowl.
Fry the prawns in the olive oil and the Cajun spice for a few minutes.
Spread a little mayo on a wrap, spread some salad mix onto it and then some prawns and fold up - voila!

The picture above looks veg heavy and prawn light but there were a lot more prawns deeper down.

Obviously, you can substitute any of the salad veggies for one you like better/hate less.  I also make these with Cajun chicken, or I use other spices instead.  It's quick, filling and healthy, the perfect quick dinner when all you want to do is curl up with a glass of wine!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Frittata, the quick win big hit!

Sometimes, when I've had a bad night, followed by a bad day, I feel like I just can't be bothered to cook something for dinner.  Especially if it's likely to fail the toddler scrutiny test.
Then, the other day, I threw some eggs and things together in a pan - and it was a huge hit!
It even contains vegetables.  It's healthy, super fast to cook, and very easy - this is really important for those "I can't think" days when all you really want to do is bung some turkey dinosaurs in the oven and go and lie down.

I made frittata.  Wasn't sure that was the right name for it at the time but yup, it is.

Both my three and a half year old and my one and a half year old yummed it up, I've cooked it twice since then (with different vegetables to mix things up a bit) and they've gobbled up the lot each time.  It's definitely going on the list of quick and easy dinners - Mr Chief even said he'd like me to make some for him so there's an added bonus.

Eggs (I used three eggs between two kids)
Vegetables (I used courgette the first time, then peppers and mushrooms)
Ham (optional, but Master Chief loves it)
Soft cheese (I used the type with onions & garlic)

What to do
Chop up the vegetables, I cut them really small as I wanted them to mix in nicely, then fry them in a bit of oil.
Add a nice dollop of soft cheese to the pan and stir it up so it's all nicely mixed.
Crack the eggs into a bowl and stir well so the yolks and whites are all combined and then add the ham and the fried vegetables.
Pour it all back into the pan and cook until it's firm, loosening the edges and underneath so it doesn't stick.  Flip it over (like a pancake if you're daring, but make sure it's definitely firm - flying hot liquid egg is no fun!) and cook for a few more minutes. 
Dish it up!

Cue happy faces and clean plates - hopefully.

You could use up leftovers too, Sunday roast leavings, dinner leftovers from the night before, whatever you like.  Cut it all up really small and mix it up.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Jellyyogs (or, I have some plums that aren't going to last!)

We eat a lot of fruit in our house - I mean, a LOT.  My children are fruit monsters and Mr Chief takes a fruit bowl load to work every day.  Even though I'm buying an orchard's worth each week there still are occasions when we have lurking fruit that is past it's prime.  I've already posted my banana bread recipe 
(see here - )
but that only takes care of the bananas.  I guess I could post about other cakes but thought I'd share a little pudding idea that's a big hit with my two darlings. 


This time, jellyyogs with fruit.
I think I made up the title, it may have been my son.  It's basically jelly with yoghurt (or fromage frais) stirred into it, and with fruit chopped and mixed in.

A packet of jelly
Boiling water (as per jelly packet instructions)
Fruit, chopped (I used plums)
Fromage frais (or yoghurt) any flavour/type

What To Do
Make up the jelly as per the instructions.
When it's cooled down a bit (but hasn't started to set) stir in the fromage frais and whisk vigorously so it's thoroughly mixed.
Stir in the fruit. 
It should look something like this:

Obviously, if you use different fruit then it'll look different.  I used raspberry jelly and strawberry fromage frais for this lot.
Then decant it into little pots:
Then put it in the fridge to set.
That's it!
As it's in small pots, it sets quite quickly, which is good news for demanding little darlings.
When it's ready, it'll look something like this:

And hopefully your kids will like it as much as mine do.  Also, because it's dairy and fruit and not just jelly you can claim extra smug points.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Wet washing & veggie lasagne

I hung my washing out today.  LOADS of it - we've just had a leak in the bathroom and used a thousand towels to mop up.  Loads of colourful towels merrily swinging from the line and then the heavens opened.  Thunder, hail, lashings of rain.  My towels are still out, they are no longer swinging merrily, they are now hanging forlornly and soddenly.  My friend  in Italy said to me once that his washing often had one machine wash and a few "natural washes" before he managed to get it in dry, I'm adopting that theory!  It'll be sunny soon, right?  I'll have dry towels again at some point.  

On the plus side, I made a gorgeous, easy and cheap veggie lasagne - and everyone liked it!  I made the sauces from scratch too so there's some extra smug points.


Some lasagne sheets

For the "red sauce"

Vegetables (I used aubergines, onions and peppers but in the past I've used mushrooms, courgettes, or whatever I've found in my fridge)

Two tins of chopped tomatoes


For the "white sauce"

45g butter

45g flour

300ml milk

Loads of grated cheese

What to do
  • Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas 4.
  • Chop the veggies into whatever sized chunks you fancy and put them in a saucepan with the tinned tomatoes and basil, heat through, stirring occasionally. 
  • Melt the butter in another saucepan, stir the flour in bit by bit.  Add the milk and KEEP STIRRING!  When it looks like proper sauce thickness you can crumble in the cheese while stirring and when it's all blended then it's done.
  • In a large glass baking dish layer the red sauce, white sauce and lasagne sheets in whichever order you fancy, grate some more cheese over the top and then bung it in the oven for about half an hour or until it looks good!

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Margate - baked onions and eggy bread

We went to Margate today to meet up with my cousins.  I've never been to Margate before.  It was closed.  Nearly all of it.  At least, that's what it looked like as we drove along the seafront.  The Turner gallery looked remarkably out of place against the shabbily dignified buildings looking out at the sea.  We went to the Tudor House (where all the children were interested in was the colouring in at the end) and then we went for lunch at a cafe on the pier arm (as I believe it's called).  I chose eggy bread for my two to share and I had baked onions in a gorgonzola sauce.  Yum.
Master Chief turned his nose up at the eggy bread - until it was dipped into my delicious sauce.  That's okay, I don't mind sharing.
Miss Chief (extremely apt nickname!) turned her little nose up at the eggy bread - but yummed up my baked onions.
I had eggy bread.  Luckily for me, it was delicious.
It has however, lead me to add baked onions to my "Argh, what can I do for dinner?" list.  I hadn't thought about doing them for the children before, they seemed to be the sort of thing you did for a dinner party (remember them?) but one of the major things I like about baked onions is that you don't have to peel the onions.  Minimal prep is great, especially when you have a small one who really doesn't like it if she isn't attached to you.  Of course, if you're slathering them in sauce them you'll want to peel them, but this can be done before or after cooking
I'm not sure how they actually made the sauce in the cafe but I have made it by just adding cheese to a basic white sauce.  So, here's my "hit-with-a-three-year-old-and-a-one-year-old-baked-onions-in-gorgonzola-sauce recipe.  Hope your family like it, let me know.

  • Onions - very vague but it depends on the size.  I use about 3-4 small (an inch or so across) onions or 1 large onion per person
  • 45g of butter
  • 45g of plain flour
  • 700ml of milk
  • 55g of gorgonzola

  • What to do
  • Make the sauce while the onions are in the oven, pour the sauce over and pop them back in for another five minutes or so.
  • Far the onions - Peel the onions and cut the tops and bottoms off, put them in a lightly oiled roasting dish and bake in the oven for about 30 - 40 minutes at about 400f/200c/gas mark 6 (this will depend on the size of the onions and the consistency you'd like).   Again, very vague, sorry but I tend to just turn the oven on and check the food until it looks and feels done.
  • For the sauce - Melt the butter in a saucepan, stir the flour in bit by bit.  Add the milk and KEEP STIRRING!  When it looks like proper sauce thickness you can crumble in the gorgonzola while stirring and when it's all blended then it's done.
The onions are lovely baked on their own, or you can season with herbs or spices, or just crumble cheese over them when they're done.  Experiment!

And Margate?  I'd go there again, it's a nice place.  Maybe I wouldn't go on a rainy, blustery (well, gale force) grey Sunday again, but on the upside we had the beach to ourselves!

Friday, 9 May 2014

Banana bread (or "Oops, I've left the bananas too long, what shall I do with them?)

Banana Bread (recipe at the bottom)

Squidgy bananas.  Can't take them out with us for a snack, can't give them to the kids (unless I want to be cleaning banana off every surface known to man) so I made banana bread.
The kids yummed it up so I feel pretty good about myself.  And I remembered to take a picture before it was demolished so hurrah.

Just flour, baking powder, sugar, butter, and bananas, and you have something that makes you feel like a great Mother because you're baking from scratch.  You can even get the kids to help with the banana mashing and it counts as sensory - right?

So, this is my first post, I plan on updating when children allow.  I'll be posting some recipes, some ideas,some child related posts, some crafty bits and pieces, some random musings.
Bring all your friends!

  • 3 very ripe bananas (I actually used two - that's all I had!)
  • 110g (4 oz) sugar (I only used about 80g as I don't like things too sweet)
  • 50g (2 oz) melted margarine or butter
  • 170g (6 oz) self raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • What to do
  • Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas 4.
  • Mash the sugar and bananas together in a large bowl.  I used a fork but then let my 3 year old loose with a potato masher!
  • Add the melted margarine and stir in. Add the flour and baking powder and mix well. Place the mixture in a greased or lined loaf tin. I used lining paper as I know it turns out better in my oven.
  • Bake in preheated oven for about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on which tin you are using. Check by sticking a clean knife or skewer into the cake and it should come out clean when done.
  • Apparently, previously frozen bananas work well for this recipe, so if you have any bananas which go too ripe and are not going to be eaten, freeze them to keep for this recipe.  Because we're all that organised, aren't we?