Stilton crust veggie or meat sausage rolls (20 mins prep/30 mins cooking)

stilton crust sausage rolls

These sausage rolls are really simple to make, using shop-bought ready-rolled puff pastry (which you roll a few extra times with crumbled stilton) and either veggie or meat sausages.  They take 20 mins to prepare and about 30 mins to cook.

stilton crust sausage rolls

stilton crust sausage rolls

The stilton gives the pastry a lovely subtle flavour.  We had the sausage rolls for dinner with sweetcorn, tuna and mayo salad and will eat them as a snack tomorrow. Yum! We all loved them.

stilton crust sausage rolls

My boyfriend stuffed the little bit of leftover pastry with chorizo and that was a big hit too.

Stilton crust veggie or meat sausage rolls (makes approx 18 small ones)

Sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry (375g)

100g stilton, crumbled

Plain flour, for rolling

6 medium sized veggie or meat sausages (I used Quorn veggie sausages)

Beaten egg, to finish

Lightly flour a work surface and lay the sheet of puff pastry on it.  Cut it in half and crumble the stilton evenly over the first half.  Lay the second half over the top and gently press it on so it is sealed, then roll with a rolling pin until twice the size.  Fold it over and roll again, and then repeat this again so the stilton is spread.  You want the final sheet to be the same size as it was originally.  Cut it in to three pieces lengthways, and lay two sausages down each of the three sheets.  Fold the pastry over the sausages, allowing a 2cm ish overlap.  Seal each sausage roll with your fingers and brush each one with the beaten egg.  Cut each sausage roll in to six equally sized pieces (making 18 in total). Place on a non-stick baking tray and bake for 25-30 mins, turning so that all four sides are golden brown and the filling is piping hot. Remove from the oven and eat!

Potato, spinach and spring onion crustless quiche (25 min prep/40 min cooking)

potato, spinach and spring onion crustless quiche

I am very excited to share this delicious, seasonal and gluten free recipe!  It is quickly becoming a staple in our house for three reasons: firstly it can be eaten hot at home or cold as a portable snack (so great for picnics!), secondly you can vary what you put in it and thirdly it works out at about £4 for 10-12 portions.  Allow 25 mins to prepare the mixture and 40 mins to cook.

You basically boil and mash some potatoes, add soft cheese, eggs, cheddar, torn spinach and spring onions and finally some ground nutmeg (available from supermarkets) to add a particularly lovely and delicate flavour.   Spoon the mixture in to a tray and bake until golden.  I don’t peel the potatoes as it saves time and I like the nuttiness of the skin, but if you want a smoother consistency you could peel them.

potato, spinach and spring onion crustless quiche

If you use the mashed potatoes, soft cheese, cheddar and eggs as a base then you could experiment with these ingredients: torn smoked mackerel, smoked salmon, cooked ham, chorizo, peas, asparagus, broccoli, leeks, mushrooms, dried or fresh herbs.  I would love to hear of any combinations that work well!

Potato, spinach and spring onion crustless quiche (8-12 portions)

400g potatoes, diced (new potatoes are particularly nice but any would work, and there is no need to peel unless you want a smoother consistency)

100g spinach, torn up

10 spring onions, finely chopped

200g soft cheese (I use the value one)

4 eggs, lightly beaten

50g cheddar, grated

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees/gas mark 5.  Line a smallish baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Gently boil the chopped potatoes for about 10 mins, until tender (but not mushy).  Mash well.  Stir in the torn spinach and chopped spring onions.  In a separate bowl mix the soft cheese with the beaten eggs and then fold in to the mash.  Add the cheddar, nutmeg, some salt and pepper and mix well.  Spoon the mixture in to the lined baking tray (it will rise slightly during cooking).

Bake for 35-40 mins until golden at the edges and firm (when you insert a knife in it should come out fairly clean).  Leave for 5 mins then carefully cut wedges out (you can leave the quiche in the greaseproof paper if you want to eat it cool).

Light and delicious yoghurt and blueberry cake (10 mins prep/1 hour cooking)

yoghurt blueberry loaf cake

This is a lovely recipe for the warmer weather, using yoghurt instead of butter to give the cake a springy lightness, and blueberries which go all swirly and pretty when they cook.  It takes only 10 minutes to prepare plus one hour to cook, there is no whisking (whoop!) and it is great for using up fruit and yoghurt as the other ingredients are cupboard staples for anyone who bakes once in a while.  You can also vary what fruit you use – as well as blueberries I have also used chopped strawberries, and I reckon raspberries and dried (or fresh) apricots would also work well.

The recipe is based on one by Ruby Tandoh that I have simplified slightly according to what I had at home. The cake will keep for a few days in a sealed container.  Serve on it’s own or alongside ice cream!

yoghurt blueberry loaf cake

Yoghurt and blueberry loaf cake

75ml vegetable/sunflower oil

125g full-fat/greek yoghurt

150g caster sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract/vanilla essence

Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon

210g plain flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

170g blueberries (or strawberries)

A pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/gas mark 4.  Grease and a 20cm (ish) long loaf tin (or small-medium cake tin if you don’t have one).

In a large bowl, mix well together the oil, yoghurt, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and lemon zest.  In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Pour the dry ingredients into the yoghurt mixture along with the blueberries and fold the lot very gently together, taking care not to mix too much.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 55-60 minutes, or until the edges are slightly golden and a small knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack before cutting in to slices and serving!

Cooking with kids – Fish in a parcel (15 mins prep/18 mins cooking)

fish in a parcel

This is a nice activity to do with kids.  You lay out some fish, veg (I chose mini corn, green beans and pepper), couscous (optional) and sauce on the table and they can load a sheet of tin foil with what they like.

fish in a parcel

Then they wrap everything up in the foil and pop it in the oven to steam for about 18 minutes.

fish in a parcel

fish in a parcel

When their parcel is done they can unseal it and eat their ‘dinner delivery’!  Feel free to vary what fish and veg you use (broccoli, carrots and asparagus would also work well and cheaper fish would bring the cost down).  The sauce here consists of soy sauce and honey to keep it simple but for an adult version or for adventurous kids you could add chilli, garlic and/or ginger.  My boys are really in to chopsticks at the moment (you can get cheap kid friendly ones off Amazon) so eating with these added to the novelty of the dish.  Allow about 15 mins to prepare the food before cooking.

fish in a parcel

fish in a parcel

I am going to put my thinking cap on for other dinner in a parcel ideas!

Fish in a parcel (serves 4)

Optional – 1/2 cup couscous, cooked as per the pack instructions (usually involves pouring with hot water, adding butter and leaving for 5 mins)

1/2 stock cube (I like OXO vegetable as it crumbles easily)

Oil, for brushing

2 handfuls mini corns, chopped in half lengthways

1/2 pepper, chopped lengthways

2 handfuls green beans, trimmed

5 spring onions, finely chopped

2 skinned fillets fish, cut in to chunks (e.g. salmon, trout, haddock, coley)

1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce mixed with 1/2 tbsp honey

4 sheets tin foil

Lay the tin foil out on the table.  Mix the cooked couscous with 1/2 crumbled stock cube and put that, plus all the other ingredients, in separate bowls on the table.  Brush/spoon oil on to the middle of the foil.  Put the couscous on first (if using) followed by the chunks of fish then the veg.  Spoon over the sauce.  Seal the foil tightly but ensuring there is some free space inside so it steams properly.  Pop in the oven for about 18 mins until the fish is flaky and everything is cooked.  Remove the foil parcels and let them cool for a few minutes (for young kids open them up to get rid of the steam and cool the food inside down before resealing)  Let the kids open up their parcels and eat!

Mad dog salad (ready in 25 mins) – using surprisingly delicious roast avocado!

mad dog salad jamie oliver

This is a brilliant, pretty and unique salad from Jamie Oliver’s America cookbook, made using ingredients popular in Arizona.  It combines roast avocado (my favourite discovery of recent years!), cheese and seed topped tortilla crisps, salad leaves, cress, lemon juice, chilli (optional) and cumin seeds.  When you roast avocado it becomes slightly charred on the outside and extra soft in the middle and the olive oil, cumin seeds and seasoning really bring it alive.  It is pretty special.  You only need a baking tray and mixing bowl to prepare everything.

mad dog salad jamie oliver

This is a great meal for guests but it is also handy to try with kids as it contains some naughty and appealing ingredients!  My kids bulk at the word salad but were intrigued at the name (so called ‘mad dog salad’ because a cheeky local dog kept running off with the ingredients when Jamie was making it!)  I gave them just one of each of the salad leaves (so they weren’t too put off) and a few sprigs of cress along with a little of the avocado (they are used to eating avocado raw) and plenty of the cheese and seed topped crisps.

mad dog salad jamie oliver

Although the cheesy crisps were definitely the highlight, they did at least taste each salad leaf, and my youngest liked the avocado, so perhaps the term ‘salad’ has taken on a slightly more positive meaning in their little heads.  We can hope!

The dish works out as about £5 in total.   Allow 25 mins to make it.

Mad dog salad (serves 4)

2 ripe avocados
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2-3 large handfuls of plain tortilla crisps
Large handful of grated cheddar cheese
Small handful of pine nuts (optional as expensive and not essential to the dish)
Handful of pumpkin seeds (cheap and available at supermarkets, normally in the Homebaking section)
1 bundle of cress, snipped
4 good handfuls of salad leaves
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Olive oil
1/2 chopped chilli or shake dried chilli flakes (optional)

Preheat your oven to full whack.  Halve, stone and peel your avocados and lay them on a roasting tray (cut smaller if you wish). Drizzle over some olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper and the cumin seeds. Toss until nicely coated, then roast in the oven for 15 mins so they get a bit of colour (you may need to roast for a few mins longer – until slightly golden at the edges). About 10 mins in, take the tray with the avocados out, lay out your tortilla crisps next to them and sprinkle over the cheddar, pine nuts and pumpkin seeds (over the crisps). Return to the oven for approx 5 mins so the cheese has time to melt and the nuts and seeds toast a little.

Mix your cress and salad leaves together. Drizzle over the lemon juice and some olive oil and sprinkle over a good pinch of salt and pepper. Quickly toss together.  Take your avocados and tortillas out of the oven.

Put the salad leaves on individual plates, then the cheesy seedy crisps, avocado and scatter over any remaining seeds/pine nuts from the tray.  Top with the chilli if you fancy.  Serve!

My one-pot kedgeree (ready in 20 mins)

one-pot easy kedgeree This is one of the most successful dinners in our house as we all wolf it down (including my kids, who can be quite fussy), it is quick to prepare, saves on washing up and only costs about £3.50 for the whole dish.  It is also extremely well balanced and healthy! Kedgeree is traditionally an Indian breakfast of fish, rice, hard boiled eggs, peas and curry powder that is believed to have been introduced to the UK by returning British colonels.   I have replaced the smoked haddock with smoked mackerel as it is cheap and already cooked (plus my kids love it’s salty flavour), used garam masala spice (available at supermarkets) as it is gentle and sweet so kid friendly, and added spring onions for a little crunch.  You can always use a stock cube instead of the garam masala. one-pot easy kedgeree Try to remove any bones while you are tearing the mackerel (the bones tend to be pretty small so don’t worry too much about this).   As an alternative to using fish, you could try canned chickpeas or cooked ham instead.  The kedgeree is particularly delicious with a good shake of sweet chilli sauce or ketchup on top! one-pot kedgeree One other top tip – smoked mackerel, peas and spring onions are also great in an omelette!

One-pot kedgeree (serves 4)

200g rice (long-grain/basmati/brown)

3 eggs

75g frozen peas

5 spring onions, chopped

200g smoked mackerel, torn up

Optional – 1-2 tsp garam masala (depending on how much you like it – I use 1 tsp which gives it a mild flavour) OR 1 vege stock cube, crumbled (I like OXO)

Start gently simmering the rice and add the eggs (still in their shells) together in one pan.  Stir occasionally to avoid sticking.  After 10 mins take out the eggs and add the peas and spring onions to the pan.  Take the egg shells off and chop each egg in to 10 pieces.  After a few mins more the rice, peas and spring onions should be cooked.  Drain the mixture and add the eggs and torn mackerel.  Add either the garam masala or crumbled stock cube and season with a little salt and pepper if you like (it doesn’t need much).  Add a little butter/marge if it needs more moisture.  Mix well and serve!

School dinner jammy coconut sponge (ready in an hour)

school dinner jam coconut sponge

As a kid I absolutely LOVED school puddings – the friendly dinner ladies would heave huge metal trays of naughty desserts to the serving area after our main course and we always got a big portion along with custard. My absolute favourite was gypsy tart but you have to whisk the tart filling for about a week to prepare that (I tried and failed) so I have chosen my second favourite, jammy coconut sponge!

school dinner jam coconut sponge

This jammy coconut sponge recipe is based on one from ‘Jamie’s Great Britain‘ and is delish – the combination of light sponge along with the sweet jam and desiccated coconut topping, served with custard, is proper comfort food. It is simple to make even if you are not used to baking.  Allow at least an hour to prepare, cook and top the cake.  Kids may like spreading the baked sponge with jam and then sprinkling on the ‘snow’ (desiccated coconut). Gorgeous.

For an alternative, exotic yet simple recipe using desiccated coconut try these burfis (Indian sweets).  They taste beautiful, contain 4 ingredients and take 30 mins: https://katielovescooking.wordpress.com/2013/02/28/beautiful-burfis-an-indian-sweet-in-15-mins/.  And for a straightforward homemade strawberry fridge jam recipe click here: https://katielovescooking.wordpress.com/2014/07/06/cooking-with-kids-strawberry-fridge-jam/.

School dinner jammy coconut sponge

225g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

225g caster sugar

4 large eggs

225g self-raising flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

Splash of milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

75g desiccated coconut

150g jam (raspberry/strawberry/blackberry – cheapest is fine!)

Grease and line the bottom of an approx 30 x 20cm cake tin with baking paper.  Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/gas mark 4.

Mix the butter and sugar together until pale, then beat in the eggs one at a time.  Fold in the flour and baking powder, add a splash of milk and the vanilla extract and mix again.  Pour in to the lined baking tin and cook for at least 30 mins, until golden brown and a knife inserted comes out clean (it may take a little longer – just keep a close eye).

Leave the sponge to cool for around 10 mins then spread the jam on top and evenly sprinkle on the coconut.  Serve with custard!