Pancake Day

Boy A and Boy O both went to ‘school’ yesterday morning and came home with tales of their friend’s plans for chocolate pancakes. Daddy phoned from work pleading for pancakes for pudding. I think this is just the beginning of them all conspiring together.

I gave in, of course. Only not quite how they were expecting. I tried something new. Now I was prepared for an epic fail as Daddy LOVES pancakes and Boy A LOVES that famous brand chocolate spread (which he’s only allowed for Christmas and his birthday – mean Mummy), but everyone enjoyed them (Daddy being Daddy enjoyed them “as much” as ‘normal ones’, so he’s not ready to totally swap yet, but give him time…

They were very easy and The Boys helped make them. They are an adaptation of an Anna Jones recipe (whose ‘A Modern Way To Cook’ book is my favourite cookbook at the moment).

You’ll need is a blender to whizz everything up and a good frying pan.

First up, take a cup of oats and blend to a fine flour.

Then throw into the blender:

  • another 1/2 cup of oats
  • 1/2 cup of milled nut or seed mix (I especially like the nutty flavour from the nut mix)
  • a banana, sliced
  • one apple, grated
  • 150ml milk (or milk alternative)
  • (You could also pop in a handful of raspberries if you wanted to make pink pancakes for Valentines day)

Blitz everything until very well combined. Heat a little oil in a pan (I used coconut oil) and gently spoon a tablespoon of the mixture in at a time, gently ‘spreading’ the mixture so it is the thickness of a scotch pancake. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until nicely browned on one side (you don’t want to be turning them too much as they are delicate), gently turn the pancake over and cook for a further 2-3 minutes on the other side.

When nicely golden and cooked serve with your choice of toppings.

The Boys had mixed nut butter and sliced banana on their first one for ‘supper’ and then honey and sliced strawberries on their second for ‘pudding’. Boy O garnished his second one with yogurt. A whole pot.

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NB/ These would make a great finger food for a weaning baby

 

 

Lamb Balls.

Ok, so I’m kicking 2016 0ff to a start with a super-duper easy one. One all the family can enjoy.

Lamb Balls (with Squash Couscous)

This is a ‘bottom of the fridge’ recipe. Basically I had not much in, nothing planned and needed to think on my feet quickly. I was sceptical whether they’d be a success because both boys dislike avocado and Boy A isn’t a fan of red meat and so I was fully expecting Boy A to just eat the couscous and wraps and Boy O the meat and wraps as he is a cave-man carnivore. Both boys however, as well as Daddy ate everything. All of it. I think I’ll make them again. So for this you will need:

200g good quality lamb mince
1 very ripe avocado, mashed
1 tablespoon of milled seed mix (or sesame seeds, pine nuts for more ‘bite’ – whatever you have to hand)
2-3 tablespoons of ground almonds
a glug of rapeseed oil

First-up, get your hands dirty by hand-mixing the lamb, avocado and seeds together and form into little balls (I made 14 but it depends what size you like them).
Next, gently roll them in the almonds to coat them.

Heat the oil in a griddle pan until very hot and gently pop the meatballs in one by one and roll them around so they are coated in oil. Cook them for around 10 mins over a medium heat, gently shaking the pan from time to time to fully brown them all over without breaking them up. Ensure they are fully cooked inside before serving them with a big bowl of hot butternut squash couscous*, some wraps, cucumber sticks and creme fraiche and get messy!

*Squash couscous recipe to follow shortly

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NB/ I didn’t think to take a photo of this one as was expecting an epic fail, so here’s one of the boys until I make them again.

Hello again.

A new year, a new start.

2015 was crazy. When I started this blog I hoped it would slowly get my creative juices flowing again and give me an outlet aside from my boys (as truly amazing as they are, it was very much time for me to have something for myself again). At the same time I thought I’d soft launch my idea for a healthy children’s party food company – Petite Parties. So for the past six months I’ve been busy working on lots of things. And my boys. Boy A turned four and is growing in confidence and personality by the day. Boy O is always full of germs (these past few months he’s had pneumonia, tonsillitis, amongst other things and has a permanent cold) plus last week started at pre-school with his big brother, so lots of changes.

My target for the first year for Petite Parties was one party per month, so 12 in the first year. I’ve already met that. I had two on my launch weekend in October then a few others before catering for the Little Gym Xmas party in December…for 120 people. And 2016 has started with a bang with an amazing superhero party, two more very different parties to follow as well this month plus bookings coming in for the first half of the year. It’s madness. And it’s all happening so quickly. I am so grateful to all the people supporting my venture – I’ve had such lovely comments and feedback and so much interest. Thank you.

So this little update was to say I’m back! And my plan is to stay back and keep updating this page with delicious healthy child-friendly recipes for you to enjoy, and also update you on how things are progressing with Petite Parties.

My jobs for January and February are to re-build a new webpage – the current one http://www.petiteparties.co.uk is pretty basic and doesn’t show enough of the amazing parties you’ve all been having, plus continue to develop phase 3 – Petite Cookery, launch due in September. Hopefully.

Here’s to 2016. I wish you all a fantastic year ahead. Make the most of every moment.

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Sneaky Cheeky Chickpea Pasta

Recently it would appear that Boy A has been working on slowly eradicating meat and lumps from his diet.
It could just be laziness, however he’s always had an issue with textures so I’m not so sure.
He is already aware of where meat comes from and I think once he really starts to think about this for himself I can see there being no way back for him. Weirdly however, he’s fine with fish and in fact is thrilled by the idea of fishing and eating the ‘catch of the day’.

At the moment I’m finding this challenging because Boy O is an out-and-out vegetable and fish hating carnivore.

Needless to say meal planning is fun – they have a varied diet on paper and their combined diet is amazing. Singularly though, pretty poor.
So we take it in turns to choose dinners so everyone gets their favourite at least one day each week and it’s a case of “eat it or go hungry”. Hopefully this will encourage them to try foods they don’t love.
Boy A however will often eat through gritted teeth just enough to take the hunger pangs away. And Boy O is very happy to simply go hungry.

So this is my latest attempt at pleasing everyone.

Sneaky, Cheeky, Chickpea Pasta. To make it you’ll need:

Some big pasta tubes such as Rigatoni (I cut them in half whilst cooking so they are more easily consumed)
A handful of very small broccoli florets (with as much stalk removed as is humanly possible)
A handful of grated courgette
A handful of chickpeas
1 tbsp of pesto
Grated cheese to serve

Bring a large pan of water to boil. Throw in the pasta, courgette, broccoli and chickpeas. Cook for as long as the pasta needs. Drain. Stir in the pesto and serve. My boys like to throw sprinkle lots of cheese on top.

Both boys gobbled it up. Boy O had seconds and thirds, even eating the chickpeas when they were hidden inside the pasta tubes (hurrah for big pasta), but then again he chose the ‘or go hungry’ option at lunchtime so was starving. Boy A didn’t much like the broccoli, even though broccoli is one of the (very) few vegetables he does like, but tolerated it when I mashed it in.

No hungry tummies. One happy Mummy. Two empty plates and lots of mess.

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I-spy courgette eye, I-spy Fishy Pie

It’s been a while.
A lot has been happening. My Big Baby – Boy A turned four, so we had birthday chaos. My Little Baby – Boy O has had pneumonia (he’s on the road to recovery now, thanks), and my New Baby – Petite Parties launched amidst the chaos and seems to be really taking off, which is super exciting, but scary.

I’ve not been focussing on much else lately and it’s been obvious in my meal planning (or rather – lack of), so today, with friends due for supper, I decided to make a bit more of an effort and make fish pie – knowing it is their favourite, and for a change, because just lately I’ve dished up fish fingers or spaghetti bolognaise whenever they’ve come for supper.

Now fish pie is pretty simple to make, but this way is pretty darn lazy. And anyone can do it. Honesty.

You’ll need:

For the filling:
Half a leek, thinly sliced
Two cod fillets
Two salmon fillets
A handful of prawns
Approx 300ml of milk
4 cubes of frozen spinach
A heaped tbsp of soft cheese
A healed tbsp of creme fraiche
Roughly half a mug of grated cheddar

For the mash topping:
3 baking potatoes, peeled and chopped
A splash of milk
A large knob of butter
A heaped tbsp of creme fraiche
A handful of grated cheddar
A fish cookie cutter

Heat a little oil in a pan and gently sauté the leek until soft.
Add the milk, fish fillets and spinach and bring to a gently simmer. Cook until the fish is just cooked and flake the fish whilst still in the pan, removing any skin if necessary.
Stir in the prawns, soft cheese, creme fraiche and cheddar and gently mix to fully combine.

Meanwhile, cook the potatoes, drain and mash with the butter, creme fraiche and milk to make a really creamy mash potato topping.

Put the fish mixture into dishes (usually this amount makes two family sized pies – one for tonight plus one for the freezer, as well as a little one just for the freezer just for the boys), carefully top with the mash and then using the fish cutter make fish shapes with extra mash to decorate. I used courgette circles to make fish eyes but you could use anything you have to hand.
Sprinkle a little cheese in between the ‘fishes’ then bake in a pre-heated oven at around 180* for approx 20 mins.
Serve with some extra veg on the side (I roasted baby carrots and courgettes which were delicious and took only as long as the pie)
Gobble up.

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Not Prepared For Lunch, Lunch

A short one for you today because it’s been a busy week. In fact, this sums up the height of my lunchtime ‘cooking’ this week. It’s not really cooking. Or particularly impressive. But it does keep the boys happy. And more importantly, quiet.

Lets call this one ‘Not Prepared For Lunch’, Lunch.

You’ll need:
To be in a hurry (ideally you’ll be rushing in the front door with the children whining about how starving they are)
A loaf of bread
A few cookie cutters, any size or shape (more is better as provides less opportunity for arguments)
A selection of ready to go fillings – today we have grated cheese, hummus and sliced chicken
Children’s knives, 1 each

Plonk everything in the middle of the table. Give the children each a breadboard, knife and slice of bread. Let them spread and fill with whatever they wish then pop another slice of bread on top.
Choose a couple of cutters each and help them cut their sandwiches out. Boy A needs help with this because he is so gentle and doesn’t quite cut all the way through. Boy O is far too stubborn independent for help.
We get there in the end.
And I end up eating all of the ‘middles’ so there is no waste 😜

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Crumbed Spinach Chicken Wraps with Roasted Root Chips

My lovely friend, Lady C came to see us for lunch today. Actually, she’s the Mum of Boy A’s good friend Boy L. And I’m Godmother to her daughter, Little Lady P, who Boy O already sits a little too closely to – for a two year old. Keeping up?

Well, Little Lady P is allergic to dairy so I always make sure lunch is a dairy free feast. Not as challenging as it sounds, because Boy O used to have a severe dairy allergy himself (and is now a yogurt-a-holic), so I’m used to cooking this way and I really enjoy having to think about food differently.

Keeping it simple, nutritious and pleasing for everyone I settled on chicken wraps. Or DIY Crumbed Spinach Chicken Wraps to be precise. With Roasted Root Chips.

1:05pm today = six very hungry bellies

1:22pm today = six empty plates (and a lot of mess)

You’ll need:

approx 400g free-range chicken mini fillets

a bowl of good quality breadcrumbs

2 cubes of frozen spinach (yes, I use it in everything) – defrosted

4 carrots, peeled and cut into ‘chips’

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ‘chips’

a glug of rapeseed oil

tortilla wraps and salad to serve

Preheat the oven to 180. Then start by par-boiling the carrots and sweet potato for a few minutes, until they are just beginning to soften. Be careful not to over cook them (or you’ll be serving the wraps with mash). Drain and gently dab dry with kitchen paper. Toss gently in oil and evenly space out on a flat baking tray (or two), allowing each ‘chip’ plenty of space around it. This is worth taking time over as it will mean they crisp up and won’t be soft and soggy. Pop them in the oven and set the timer for 10 minutes. Next, roll the chicken in the spinach to coat it then roll the spinach-covered-chicken in the breadcrumbs and place on a large baking sheet. As soon as the timer goes off pop the chicken in the oven and set the timer for another 15 minutes. They should be ready but check the chicken is cooked through and the chips crispy – if you’re using big chunks of chicken or large chips then they may need another 5-or so minutes.

Put the chicken and chips in bowls and pop them in the middle of the table along with some salad and a pile of tortilla wraps. Some grated or crumbled cheese would go well too. Let everyone dig in and make their own wraps. And mess. The Boys love making theirs. Especially the mess.

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