Tag: Dinner

creamy garlic parmesan chicken

Creamy garlic parmesan chicken


Time:30 minutes


6 chicken thighs
3 cloves garlic, crushed
An onion
200g bacon chopped, or bacon lardons
400g mushrooms
1 cup cream OR milk (or half and half)
½ cup (120ml) chicken stock
½ cup Parmesan, grated
Chopped parsley, to garnish
Fresh shaved or grated parmesan, to garnish

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More family dinners

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut making the same dinners again and again so I’ve been trying to mix things up a little bit lately. Anyone with young children will know that this is a risky business so I tend to stick to safe ingredients like chicken and pasta. I found this recipe for creamy garlic parmesan chicken from Cafe Delights on Pinterest (my go to place for inspiration) and it was truly delicious. It’s always a bonus when you find something as tasty as this that the kids will eat too!


Preheat your oven to 200C / 180F / 400F
Cook the chicken

This is a step to do without the help of your little ones: Heat a tbsp of oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Brown the chicken on both sides ( a few minutes on each side).

Transfer the chicken to an oven proof dish and pop into the oven to roast until completely cooked through, about 25-30 minutes (or while you make the sauce).

Prepare the ingredients for the sauce

Get your toddler to help you peel the garlic and onion. While they are busy doing that, dice the onion.


Give your child a blunt (butter/table) knife and get them to help you chop the mushrooms. Mushrooms are a really easy vegetable to do some cutting practice with. You can always finish off any unevenly sized pieces. It was the first time Lewis had done it and he really enjoyed himself!

Make the sauce

Fry the onion and garlic over a medium heat until they are soft and fragrant, stirring frequently. This should take a minute or so.
Add the bacon and fry until it is starting to go crisp.

Add the mushrooms and cook them until they begin to soften.
If your little one is old enough and you trust them they can help you stir everything as it goes in.

Measure or get your little one to help you measure out the cream/milk and chicken stock. As we were just using a stock cube, Lewis also help unpeel and crush it.


Pour in the cream (or milk – we used half a cup of each), the chicken stock, and parmesan. Simmer in the pan until the sauce thickens slightly.

Add the chicken

Remove the chicken from the oven and add it back into the sauce. Cook for a another few minutes. Garnish with parsley and or grated parmesan (optional).

creamy garlic parmesan chicken

Serve with rice or pasta or vegetables.

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carbonara cake

Carbonara cake

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 15 minutes plus 35 minutes baking

Serves: 6


300g spaghetti, cooked
100g hard cheese, finely grated (eg parmesan, guyere, cheddar)
3 large eggs
250ml double cream
250g leftover ham (or we used bacon lardons)


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It’s not always so easy to get young children involved with making dinner for obvious reasons (knives, ovens, the cooker) but this dish is an exception. I based it on a dish from Jamie Oliver and so simple to make. It’s quick enough to be a mid week meal but a bit more special than plain pasta carbonara. You can cook the pasta and ham/bacon in advance to make it even quicker/easier. It was a first for us but we’ll certainly be making it again!


Before you start, if you don’t have left over pasta and ham, cooked the pasta and ham or bacon and add to a bowl. Allow to cool down. I did this part in advance as there wasn’t much the kids could help with.


Preheat the oven to 180C and prepare a cake tin.

Get your children to help grease a 20cm loose bottomed cake tin with oil (you can pour a little oil in and get them to brush it over all the sides.) Sprinkle a thin layer of cheese over the bottom and shake it up the sides a little.


Add everything to your bowl

Get your kids to help you add the cream and cheese to the bowl of pasta. Break the eggs into a separate bowl first to give them a quick whisk before adding to the pasta. I normally get Hannah to break the eggs and Lewis mix them so they both get a turn at doing something.

Give it a good mix so all the pasta is coated.


Bake the carbonara cake

Add the pasta to your prepared cake tin and pat down with the back of a spoon.


Pop it on a baking tray into the oven and bake for 35 minutes. It’s ready when it looks golden brown and has cooked through.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before turning out of the tin.

 carbonara cake

Serve with a lovely fresh green salad and enjoy!

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Slow cooker sausage casserole

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 30 minutes + 4 hours cooking

Serves: 6-8

1–2 tbsp sunflower oil
12 good quality pork sausages
Pack of bacon lardons
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp paprika
400g can chopped tomatoes
300ml chicken stock
2 tbsp tomato purée
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp dark brown muscovado sugar
2 tsp dried mixed herbs
1 tsp thyme
2 bay leaves
100ml red or white wine (optional)


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This sausage casserole is a delicious , hearty slow cooker dinner full of sausages, bacon, and tomatoes. It’s probably not one for teeny tiny chefs, but Hannah enjoyed measuring out everything and helping to make the sauce and learning from her Daddy how to chop onions.


Brown the sausages
Heat and spoonful of oil in a non stick frying pan and fry the sausages gently for 10 minutes. Turn them once in a while so they are brown on all sides. Add to your slow cooker.

Fry the bacon
Get your child to help add the bacon lardons to the pan (being careful not to get too close). Fry them until they are nice and crisp then add to your sausages.

Cook the onions and garlic
While the sausages and bacon are cooking get your child to help you peel the garlic and onions. If you have a garlic crusher, they can help you crush the garlic as well. If they are a bit older they may be able to help you cut the onion as well.


Cook the onions in your pan on a medium heat for five minutes or so until they start to soften.

Add the garlic to your pan and cook for a few more minutes until the onions are a golden brown.

Add the paprika. Hannah helped us measure this out. We put it in a small bowl first and then put it in the pan, as this was a bit easier for her to manage.

Prepare the sauce
Rather than add everything straight to the pan, we got Hannah to help measure out the dry herbs to a bowl and the wet ingredients into a jug. That made it much easier to then add it safely to the pan.

Start by getting your child to put the stock cube/pot into the measuring jug. Add the water and get them to give it a stir. Add the tomato puree (2 tbsp) and Worcestershire sauce (1 tbsp).


In a separate small bowl, get your toddler to measure out the sugar (1 tbsp), mixed herbs (1 tsp), bay leaves (2) and thyme (1 tsp).


Once everything is measured out, get your little one to pour the herbs and jug of sauce into the frying pan and give it a stir. Pour over some wine (100ml) or if you’re not using wine, just the equivalent in water. Bring the sauce to a simmer.


Add the sauce to the sausages and bacon in the slow cooker. Cook your sausage casserole a medium heat for 4-5 hours. If you are not using a slow cooker, pop everything in a flameproof casserole dish and cook on a simmer for 30 minutes or so, stirring from time to time.


Serve your sausage casserole with vegetables, rice or some rustic bread.

slow cooker sausage casserole

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Homemade burgers

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 20 minutes + 15 minutes cooking/assembling

Serves: 4 – 6





For the sauce
5 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tbsp sweet pickle relish
1 tbsp finely chopped shallot

For the burgers
700g steak mince
¾ tsp garlic powder
¾ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper
4 cheese slices
4 burger buns
4 lettuce leaves (romaine)
1 large beefsteak tomato cut into 4 slices


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We’ve never made homemade burgers before but we’ve got a burger cookbook and a burger press and the kids like getting their hands dirty so on a quiet afternoon in the Christmas holidays we decided to give it a whirl.
There are a lot of things little kids can get involved in with this dish from preparing and moulding the burgers to making the sauce. And they should enjoy eating them as well!


Mix the sauce ingredients together
Get your toddler to help you measure the mayonnaise (5 tbsp), ketchup (2 tbsp), relish (1 tbsp) into a bowl. Add the shallot and mix together. Set aside for later.

Make the burger patties
Add the mince to a bowl, then get your toddler to help you measure the seasoning: ¾ tsp garlic powder, ¾ tsp salt, ¾ tsp pepper.


Using your hands, mix everything together then form 4 -6 patties of equal size (depending how big you want them). We’ve got a burger press so the kids enjoyed using that. If you don’t have one just press them together using your hands. Press your thumb or use a spoon to make a small indent in the middle of each of the patties to make sure they don’t form a dome when you cook them.


Cook your burger patties
Grill, fry or BBQ your burger patties on a medium heat for 8-10 minutes. Turn them once so they brown on each side.


Add a slice of cheese on top of each burger for the last minute or so of cooking so it melts a bit.

Toast the buns.

Build your homemade burgers 
Put your burgers together on the buns with the sauce, lettuce leaf, and tomato.

homemade burgers

Serve and enjoy!

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Sticky soy and honey pork

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 20 minutes + 10 minutes

Serves: 4





2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp clear honey
1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
500g piece pork tenderloin
2 nests medium egg noodles
2 tsp sesame oil
Vegetables: baby sweetcorn, pepper, sugar snap peas (whichever ones you like)
small bunch spring onion


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I like to introduce the kids to new tastes and cuisines. It doesn’t always go down well, but this sticky soy and honey pork did – they both polished off, probably because the honey gives it a little tasty, sticky, sweetness. You can get your toddler to help prepare this in advance so you just need to cook it just before you serve it.


Prepare the pork and vegetables
Trim any excess fat from the meat and cut into bite size pieces. I didn’t get Hannah to help with this, but if your child is older and confident with a sharp knife they could do this step.
If they can, get your toddler to help you cut the peppers and any other vegetables you’re using into nice strips. Hannah cut some of the peppers with a blunt knife, but had a bit more success helping me with a sharp knife (I put my hand over hers to help guide the knife, making sure no fingers were in the way.)



Prepare the sauce
Get your toddler to help measure the soy sauce, ketchup, honey and Chinese five spice into a bowl.



Add the pork and give it a stir so all the meat is coated.


Cook the noodles
Add the noodles to a pan and cook according to the packet instructions. (We just added boiling water and cooked for a few minutes.) Drain and keep back a little (50ml) of water.

Cook the stir fry
This step I mostly did on my own with Hannah watching as I don’t quite trust her around the hot pan.

Heat the sesame oil in a wok or large frying pan. Add the pork and sauce and cook for a few minutes until the meat has browned. Add the vegetables and spring onions and continue to stir fry. Add the remaining noodle water to help steam the vegetables.


 sticky soy and honey pork


Add the cooked noodles to the wok and stir so everything is coated in the sauce.


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Vegetable spring rolls

Difficulty: Medium

Time: 30 minutes + 30 minutes cooking

Serves: 4 as a side






50g vermicelli noodles
1 medium carrot (or 2 small), grated
3 spring onions, finely chopped
½ red pepper, finely sliced
75g Beansprouts
Thumbsized peice of ginger
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp Chinese five spice
8 spring roll wrappers
1 tbsp cornflour
2 tbsp water


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We’ve got a Chinese supermarket near us and when I was in there recently I came across some spring roll wrappers which got me thinking of another cooking project for Hannah. I thought vegetable spring rolls would be easiest as they don’t require any pre-cooking and found a Jamie Oliver recipe I was able to simplify a wee bit. We had them as a side with our dinner but they would make a nice lunch treat or snack.


Preheat the oven to 200C / 180C Fan

Combine the ingredients in a bowl
Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions. We just cooked them on the hob for a few minutes. Once cooked let them cool then add them to a bowl.

Prepare the vegetables and add to your bowl. I did this part in advance as the kids can’t really help with chopping yet.

Add the beansprouts to your vegetables.


Peel the ginger then get your toddler to help you grate it into the bowl.


Get your toddler to help you measure the soy sauce and oyster sauce and add that to your vegetables. I normally hold the measuring spoon and get Hannah to pour the sauce into it or vice versa. Add the Chinese five spice. Give everything a good mix.


In a small bowl, spoon in the cornflour and water and mix together until you have a thin paste.

Make the vegetable spring rolls
Lay a spring roll wrapper down on a clean surface with a point facing towards you. Get your child to spoon 2 table spoons of your mixture on to the bottom corner of the paper.

Brush each corner of the wrapper with the cornflour mixture then start rolling from the bottom up. Try and make it quite tight (Hannah needed a little help with this). When the filling is covered fold the corners in to seal the edges then keep rolling until the top corner is sealed down.


Cook the spring rolls
Lay on a baking sheet. Continue until you have made all your spring rolls.


Pop them in the oven to bake for 30 minutes or until the spring rolls are golden and crispy.

An alternative way to cook these is to heat a litre of oil in wok or saucepan. Cook the spring rolls in batches for 2-3 minutes until they’re golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon.

Serve with a sweet chilli dipping sauce.

vegetable spring rolls

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Steamed Bao buns

Difficulty: Medium

Time: 45 minutes + 4 hours proving

Serves: 8

525g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1½ tbsp caster sugar, plus a pinch
½ tsp salt
1 tsp fast-action dried yeast
50ml milk
1 tbsp sunflower oil , plus extra for greasing and brushing
1 tbsp rice vinegar
200ml water
1 tsp baking powder


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We made these bao buns to go with some char sui (bbq pork) we had cooked in the slow cooker. They take a bit of time, mainly because having to leave them to rise twice, but I think they’re worth the effort. As well as the pork, we served them with some pickled carrot which added a tasty crunch. The recipe makes a lot, but extra buns, once steamed, can be frozen.You can make the dough by hand or using a mixer with a dough hook. There’s still plenty for your little one to help with even if you don’t do all the kneading by hand.


Mix the ingredients together
Measure the flour, sugar and salt into your mixer.*

Dissolve the yeast and a pinch of salt in a tbsp of warm water, then add it to the flour with the milk, oil, vinegar and the water.

* If you’re not using a mixer, mix everything together in a bowl before kneading on a floured work surface for 10-15 minutes or until it’s smooth.

Make the dough
Use the dough hook on a medium setting for around 5 minutes until the dough has come together in a nice smooth ball. Add a splash more water if you need to.

Place in an oiled bowl, cover then set aside in a warm place for 2 hours until doubled in size.

Make the bao buns
Line a few baking trays with greaseproof paper.

Tip the dough out onto a clean work surface and get your child to punch it down (to get the air out). Flatten it with your hands then sprinkle over the baking powder. Knead with your hands for 5 minutes.




Roll out the dough into a long sausage about 3cm thick. Cut into pieces about 3cm wide (you should end up with about 18).



Get your child to help you roll each piece of dough into a ball and leave to rest for a few minutes.


Together, use a rolling pin to roll each ball into an oval shape about 3-4mm thick. Brush the top with a little oil, and brush a little extra oil over a chopstick.



Place the chopstick on to the middle of the bun, fold it in half then pull out the chopstick.



Place on your baking tray. Hannah enjoyed helping with this bit the most which meant I could roll them out while she was busy doing this.

Once all your buns are done, cover each baking tray with lightly oiled cling film or a tea towel then leave to prove in a warm place for about an hour and a half or until doubled in size.



Steam the bao buns
Steam the buns for 8 minutes or so until they have puffed up. We tried a few in our bamboo steamer but to save having to do loads of batches we got the electric steamer out and managed most of them at the same time.


steamed bao buns photo credit: bbc good food


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Fish cakes

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 30 minutes + 15 minutes cooking

Serves: makes about 6 cakes (serves 2 adults + 2 toddlers)


Recipe makes
400g potatoes
200g white fish, skinned and boned. (we used Pollock)
2 tbps curry paste
3 spring onions
For the coating
1 egg
2 slices of bread


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We made these fish cakes for dinner last week and they went down a treat. They’re much tastier than ones we’ve made in the past as they use a little curry paste making them a little less fishy. To save a bit of time you can cook the fish and potatoes in advance and then get your kids to help you assemble the cakes.


Prepare the potatoes and fish
Peel, cut and boil the potatoes for 10-15 minutes until they are soft. Allow them to cool then get your child to help you mash them.

Meanwhile cut the fish into pieces and add to a saucepan. Cover in milk then poach for 5 minutes until cooked. You know it’s done when the flesh looks translucent and it flakes apart with a fork. Allow to cool to make assembling the fish cakes a little easier.

Make the fish cakes
Get your child to help you whizz the bread in a mini food processor until you have fine breadcrumbs. Pop them in a dish.

Break the egg into another dish and give it a quick whisk with a fork.

Put the fish and mashed potatoes in a bowl. Chop the spring onions and add to the fish.

Finally, add the curry paste.

Get your child to help you mix everything together.


With your hands divide the mixture into 6 pieces then shape them into round cakes. One at a time, dip in the egg, then cover in breadcrumbs.


Cook the fish cakes
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a frying pan. Cook the fish cakes for 5 minutes on each side until they are golden and crispy and cooked through.


Serve with seasonal vegetables or a salad.

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Brazilian chicken

Brazilian chicken

Difficulty: Medium

Time: 15 minutes + 30 minutes cooking

Serves: 2 adults and 2 toddlersimg_2802-small






5 chicken thighs (skinless and boneless)
1 large onion (or 2 small)
2 cloves of garlic
A thumb size knob of ginger
Tin of tomatoes
150ml coconut cream
1 tsp chilli flakes* (*optional)
4 sprigs of fresh coriander (or a tbsp of dried)


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We only discovered this Brazilian chicken dish recently, but it has become a family favourite. I don’t know much about South American cuisine, so don’t know what makes this particularly Brazilian, but I do know that it tastes nice and that both the kids eat it! It doesn’t have too many ingredients, and doesn’t take too long to cook so makes a perfect midweek meal.


Make a puree with the onion, garlic and ginger
Get your toddler to help peel the onion and garlic, and then pop them into a small blender. (We have a small hand pulled chopper which Hannah likes to use so we used that).
Peel the garlic – using a teaspoon is the easiest way, and a way your child can safely help with. Add the piece of ginger to the blender.

img_2803-small img_2804-small img_2807-small

Blend together until you have a puree
*This recipe still works if you don’t have a blender. Just chop the onion finely, crush the garlic and grate the ginger.

img_2809-small img_2812-small

Brown the chicken
In a large pan add a drizzle of oil and cook the chicken until it is brown on both sides. Remove it from the pan, and set aside for now.


Make the sauce
Add the onion/garlic/ginger mixture to your pan and cook over a low heat for about 5 minutes until it’s softened.


Get your child to help you open the tin of tomatoes if they can and add it safely to the pan.

Bring the pan back to the boil, and then add the chicken again.


Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes until cooked through (add a splash of water or stock if it reduces too much).

Get your toddler to measure the coconut cream into a jug or bowl. Add it to your pan and give it all a stir.

img_2817-small img_2821-small img_2828-small
Add the coriander.

Serve with rice or pasta.

Brazilian chicken

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Chicken curry

Chicken tikka

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 20 minutes + 30 minutes cooking

Serves: 4img_2439-small





1 large onion
6 tbsp chicken tikka masala paste (shop bought or make your own – see below)
red pepper
2 chicken breasts
400g can chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato purée
1-2 tbsp mango chutney
75ml double cream
75ml natural yogurt


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This chicken tikka is my favourite curry when we’re making one at home. We’d normally use a jar of curry paste but we had all the ingredients to make the paste from scratch so thought we’d try it. It also gave Hannah a chance to practice her measuring with spoons which she is always desperate to do.


Make the curry paste (or use a jar)

img_2428-smallGet your child measure the following into a small food processor:
5 garlic cloves
1 large knob of fresh root ginger (we used a tsp of dried ginger)
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp turmeric
1tsp paprika
1 tsp garam masala
The seeds from 4 cardamom pods
1 red chilli (optional, we didn’t use any so the kids would eat it!)
Blitz it all together, add a little oil to bring it together.

You can store this in the fridge for up to a week or freeze it for up to a month.

img_2431-small img_2434-small 

Prepare the vegetables
Get your toddler to help peel your onion then chop it into small pieces. Chop your pepper into chunks.


Cook the onions and pepper

Heat some oil and butter in a pan and cook the onions for 15 minutes or so until they are soft and golden.

Add the pepper and curry paste and cook for 5 minutes to cook the rawness out of the spices.

img_2443-small img_2447-small

Prepare and cook the chicken
Chop your chicken into 2cm pieces, then add to your pan. Coat in the paste and cook for a few minutes. At this point I let Hannah give things a little stir. Be sure to keep a close eye on what they’re doing so they don’t get too close to the heat.


Make the sauce

Pour the tin of tomatoes into the pan, add the tomato puree and 100ml of water. Cover with a lid and gently simmer for 15 minutes

img_2450-small img_2452-small

Finish the sauce
Add the mango chutney, cream and yoghurt, and gently warm through.

Serve with rice and and naan bread. (Get your child to help measure this out for you.)

img_2437-small chicken tikka

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