One of my favourite things to do these days is to cook with my little girl.
I have to admit I had a stage not too long ago where I lost the will completely to want to cook. At all. It was hard work after a long day, if my daughter was tired she wouldn’t eat much anyway and you can’t help but feel sometimes that all your hard work is wasted as a parent. But that little lull is no reason not to try. So I have tried my hardest these last few months to try to regain my love of food and cooking in general and instill a bit of that passion into my daughter by getting her involved more!
Cooking with children, especially under fives, can be a little tedious at times. They don’t always listen, the kitchen looks like a bombs gone off and there will be stains up your walls you can’t even explain in relation to the ingredients used. However, in the grand scheme of things, we always have fun together and I get a real satisfaction out of seeing her proud little face when she happily eats and enjoys what she had helped to make, even more so when she proudly tells people what she cooked later on. That for me, makes it so worth it.
Theres nothing quite like seeing your kids progress in any area, but being able to cook is a life skill we should all be helped along with from a young age and giving children the first important steps to learn about where food comes from will really benefit them in later life. It is something I am extremely passionate about and I love coming up with new recipes that can involve children, even if it’s just in the prep! It certainly keeps mine out of trouble if she’s involved rather than raiding my cupboards or hanging from a leg whilst I attempt to cook!
On this page I will add quick and healthy meals as I create and cook them. There is nothing amazingly out of this world about my recipes, but they are all quick, easy, colourful, low-cost, interactive, healthy, toddler (and family) friendly and really delicious to boot. Hope one of these gives someone a new idea for a quick dinner. Get those little ones involved and having some fun! Enjoy x
Easy Sausage Tray Bake with Orange Gravy
Big on colour, Big on taste, Really low effort. Perfect mid-week dinner.
Main Ingredients: 1 yellow pepper, 1 green pepper, 1 large courgette, 1 red onion, Sausages, Salt, Pepper.
Glaze Ingredients: Juice of 1 orange, good squirt of honey, salt, pepper, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp smoked paprika.
Gravy ingredients: Half of remaining glaze, 1 tsp caramalised onion chutney, 200ml beef stock, salt, pepper, 1 tsp plain flour, drop of water.
Pre-heat oven to Gas 5, 190C.
Step 1: Cut up fresh peppers, courgette and red onion. Get a little helper to arrange them in a baking tray. Drizzle over 1tbs olive oil and salt and pepper to season. Arrange the sausages on top (I used the swirly ones as they look great but use whatever you have) and put in the oven for 30 minutes. Whilst cooking, mix together the glaze ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
Step 2: Remove tray from oven and using a brush coat on some of the glaze onto the sausages. Put back in the oven for 10-15 minutes until browning on top.
Step 3: Remove from oven, turn sausages over and repeat the glaze on the reverse side, cooking again for 10-15 minutes until browning.
Step 4: The glaze can be spooned a little over the vegetables too and put back in for 5 minutes. (Optional)
Step 5: Remove tray from oven, cover and set aside whilst you make the orange gravy. The first bit is done for you as you will be using the remainder of the glaze. Pour into a saucepan along with the stock, chutney, salt and pepper. Simmer for a few minutes then make a paste to thicken the gravy by mixing the flour with a few drops of cold water to get a thin paste and stir in, cooking for a few more minutes and stirring at all times. This will thicken it just enough.
And that’s it! I do like to serve this with some ready frozen yorkshire puddings or something, because us busy moms do have to take some short cuts where we can! My daughter loves the mix of colours in this and it gets some vital veg in her! Enjoy x
Eating Apple and Tinned Peach No Sugar Crumble
I am forever trying to make a meal out of whatever is left over. I really fancied a crumble last week but with limited stock I came up with this. It uses a small amount of honey instead of refined sugar,the eating apples work just as well as cooking ones and the tinned peaches compliment the apples perfectly.
Filling Ingredients: 4 eating apples (any type), Juice of 1 orange, small squeeze of honey, 1 tin of peaches in juice.
Crumble Topping Ingredients: 150g plain flour, 60g unsalted butter, 30g ground almonds, 30g flaked almonds, 2 tbsp honey.
Other: Small knob of butter for greasing the dish.
Pre-heat oven to Gas 5, 190C
Step 1: Peel and chunky chop the apples. Add to a small saucepan along with the orange juice and a squirt of honey. Simmer for 5 minutes or until tender but not breaking up, you still want a bit of firmness.
Step 2: Grease an oven proof dish with butter only. Arrange the apples over the bottom of the dish and top with the drained peach slices. Set aside and make the crumble top.
Step 3: Using your fingers (little fingers love this job!) mix together the flour and butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the other ingredients and stir. It will make a sort of cobbled mix with the honey instead of the sugar but will crunch fine still after cooking. Arrange the mix on top of the fruit and cook for about 25 minutes. Easy! And tasty! And healthy! x
Easy Mushroom and Spinach Risotto
Dont be afraid of getting your greens! Some people don’t like fresh spinach but the frozen bundles weave themselves perfectly into dishes without a strong presence so its perfect for getting goodness into kids food! This is really delicious, I make it about once a week. Better still its super low-cost and that bag of spinach in your freezer will go a long long way. The kids may not be in charge of the stirring over a hot hob but they can prep the mushrooms and do the fun bits like sprinkling on the cheese or squeezing the lemon.
Ingredients: 1 medium chopped onion, 2 garlic cloves, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp unsalted butter, 200g mushrooms, 150g risotto rice, 1 pint chicken stock, 3 frozen bundles of spinach, half a lemon.
Step 1: Chop onion and garlic and add to a pan with the olive oil. Cook until softened (Usually a few minutes).
Above: My lovely mushroom chopping assistant.
Step 2: Add the butter and chopped mushrooms and cook a further few minutes (They don’t need long!)
Step 3: Shake over the rice and add 1/3 of the stock to the pan, or just enough to cover the rice. Simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the stock has reduced but is still just covering the rice. Stir regularly.
Step 4: Add the spinach bundles along with another 1/3 of stock. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring always to break up the spinach.
Step 5: Add the remaining stock and simmer again for a further 5 minutes, or until the rice is soft enough.
Step 6: Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon and season to taste with salt and pepper. I cook the liquid away until there just a little left in between the rice as this will continue to soak in as it cools and ensures it’s not too dry.
Finish the dish with parmesan cheese and enjoy! It is great to put in the fridge and eat the leftovers the next day too.