Banana and chocolate chip slices are a delicious way of using up leftover bananas and a great way of getting little hands messy in the kitchen.
Vegetable fritters a great finger food for babies and toddlers who are weaning and easy enough for young chefs to help make. They are also a great way of introducing different vegetables to kids, especially if you combine them with something they already know and love.
These are the most sophisticated biscuit we’ve ever made, but your kids are sure to love getting to ice these simple firework biscuits.
Time: 30 minutes
6 good quality sausages
2 cloves of garlic
1 400g can chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp Italian or mixed herbs
Parmesan (or any cheese) for serving
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Bacon mac & cheese
Slow cooker beef ragu
I started making this because Lewis loved sausages and Hannah loved pasta so combining them meant everyone would eat dinner (in theory!) In reality it’s worked and is now a regular dish on our dinner menu. We normally throw in peppers for a bit of colour but you can add any other vegetables you have lying around like broccoli or spinach.
Preheat the oven to 180C
Lay the sausages on a grill tray and cook in the oven for 20 minutes.
Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.
Make the sauce
While the sausages are cooking, dice the onion and chop the pepper in to small chunks. Peel and crush the garlic.
Fry the onion in a little oil in a large pan. Leave it for a few minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
Add the pepper, tin of tomatoes and herbs. Stir everything together. Cover and leave to simmer for 5 minutes or until the sausages are ready.
Add the sausages and pasta
Remove the sausages from the oven and cut into small bite sized pieces. Add to the sauce.
Add the pasta to the sauce, stir so the pasta is coated.
Serve with a little grated cheese sprinkled on top.
Time: 20 minutes plus 4 hours+ cooking
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
500g beef mince
2 carrots, sliced
1 pepper, chopped
2 400g tins chopped tomatoes
1 beef stock cube
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 splash Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp Italian herbs
1 tbsp oregano
100ml red wine (or water)
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We use our slow cooker a lot, especially in the winter. Beef ragu is one of our favourites because it’s so simple and can make a quick mid week meal served with pasta, or be turned into something a bit more special like lasagne, or cannelloni. Using the slow cooker is convenient, but also makes the sauce really rich and flavoursome. If you don’t have a slow cooker simply follow the steps below but cook everything together in one pan for 30 minutes+. This recipe normally leaves us with leftovers which we freeze for dinner another day.
Heat some oil in a large non stick frying pan and fry the onion over a medium heat for a few minutes until it has softened. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute or two.
Add the mince and cook for 5 minutes or so until it has browned.
Transfer to the slow cooker and stir in the carrots, peppers and tinned tomatoes.
Add the stock cube, tomato puree, Worcestershire sauce and herbs and 100ml of water (or red wine) and mix everything together one last time.
Cover with the lid and cook on low for 4+ hours.
Serve with pasta or use the ragu to make a lasagne or cannelloni.
Rocky road is one of the easiest things to make with really small children and this one is full of mini eggs and creme eggs to is perfect for using up all your Easter chocolate.
Time: 5 minutes + 1 hour cooking
1 pack sausages
1 red onion, cut into wedges
100g plain flour
1 tbsp oil
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Toad in the hole is a simple, quick dinner. Once you’ve made the batter you can just bung it in the oven and forget about until it’s ready so it’s great for a midweek family meal. This always used to be a disaster when I made it, but this recipe seems to work as long as the oil is really hot when you put the batter in and the red onion adds a nice bit of flavour.
Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan
Cook the sausages and onion
Arrange the sausages and onion in a 20×30(approx) sized roasting tin. Drizzle a little oil over them and cook for 20 minutes until they have browned and the onions are soft. Meanwhile…
Make the batter
Measure the flour (100g) into a bowl.
Make a well in the flour then add the egg. Either break the egg in directly or crack it into a separate bowl first if your toddler is doing it and you’re worried about rogue shell.
Add a splash of the milk (300ml) then give it a mix to incorporate some of the flour.
Slowly add the rest of the milk while mixing until all the flour is combined and you have a smooth batter.
Season (you can also add a tbsp of mustard or thyme at this point).
Add your batter back into the jug you measured your milk in to make it easier to pour into your sausages.
Cook the batter
Quickly add the batter to the hot roasting tin. I don’t involve Hannah at this point – she has to stand well back and watch. The easiest way to do it is just to pull the shelf out of the oven a little and pour the batter in. It should sizzle and bubble at first as it goes into the hot oil.
Return to the oven and cook for 40 minutes. Toad in the hole is ready when the batter is cooked through, well risen and golden.
Serve with your favourite vegetables and/or some onion gravy.
Difficulty: A bit of a faff
Time: 30 minutes + 1-2 hrs proving + 15 minutes baking
Serves: makes 6 pitta bread
350g white bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp easy-blend yeast
1 tbsp olive oil
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We make our own pizzas quite often but I’ve not made homemade pitta bread since having the kids. It’s a similar process so I thought we’d give it a go. It’s obviously not as quick as opening a pack from the supermarket but it was a fun thing to do in a free afternoon and homemade bread always tastes nice!
Mix together your ingredients
Get your toddler to measure the flour (350g) into a bowl.
Add the salt (1.5 tsp), sugar (1 tsp) and yeast (1 tsp) into different corners of the bowl. You need to be relatively accurate with these measurements so you might be better doing this bit yourself or just getting your little one to help you.
Pour the water (210 ml) and oil (1 tbsp) into the bowl a little at a time. Use a spoon (or your hands) to mix until all the flour comes away from the side and you have a soft dough. You might not need to add all the water – you want the dough to be soft, not sticky.
Kneed your dough
Put a little oil on your work surface to stop the dough sticking. Put the dough on top and start kneading. You’ll need to do it for 5-10 minutes until it looks smooth. We probably did it for a lot longer though as Hannah was having fun. She even gave Lewis a quick lesson in how to knead although I’m not sure whether their poking technique is exactly conventional!
Once you’re done, place it in a clean bowl, cover it with cling film and leave it somewhere warm until it has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 250C
Place a baking tray or baking stone on the middle shelf.
Make the pitta breads
Once the dough has doubled in size, pour it out on to a lightly floured work surface and knock it back (fold it inwards again and again until the air has gone – or just get your toddler to man handle it!)
Split the dough into 6 equal sized balls then roll each into a 3-5mm oval shape.
Remove the baking tray from the oven, sprinkle with flour and place the pitta bread on it.
Bake for 5-10 minutes. They’re ready when they’ve started to colour – some of ours also puffed up really nicely into big pockets.
This simple recipe for homemade meatballs is so easy your kids can do it. Just mix in the meat with some breadcrumbs, egg and seasoning before baking.
Time: 40 minutes + 25 cooking
1 or 2 chicken breasts *, cut into strips/pieces
2/3 slices of bread
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Chicken nuggets are a good midweek meal but I don’t really like the thought of what goes into shop bought ones so we make them from scratch. It’s much quicker and simpler than you might think and they go down well with all the family, especially James, (the biggest kid).
We used 1 large chicken breast and it was just about enough to feed all of us. Next time I’ll probably use 2 and put any left overs in the freezer – they’re easy to reheat in the oven.
Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan and prepare a baking tray.
Get your toddler to line a baking sheet with grease proof paper. You don’t have to do this, but I find it helps stop them sticking.
Prepare the coating
There are three parts to the crumb – flour, egg and breadcrumb.
First, make the breadcrumb. Hannah just tore up two slices of bread, and whizzed them up in our hand food processor. Slightly stale bread works a bit better, but I just normally use the heals from whatever bread we have open. You can add seasoning if you like at this point, or some parmesan or herbs. Put the breadcrumb in a dish ready for dipping.
Next, crack the eggs into a dish and mix them with a fork.
Finally, spoon some flour into a dish.
Coat the chicken
To make it easier, line the three dishes up in the right order with the prepared baking sheet at the end.
Take each bit of chicken and dip them first in the flour, then coat them in egg before covering in breadcrumbs. I don’t normally let Hannah near raw chicken but I let her help me cover them in breadcrumbs, on the condition she didn’t touch anything else (especially herself) before we were able to wash her hands. I’m glad I trusted her as she did a really good job.
Bake the chicken nuggets
Bake them in the oven for approx 25 minutes. They’re ready when they’ve crisped up and become a nice golden brown colour.
You can serve them with anything or try sweet potato wedges: cut a sweet potato into wedges, drizzle in oil, place them on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven with your chicken nuggets.