Indonesian fried rice (nasi goreng)

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You may have noticed that I am quite in to rice at the moment.  It’s really versatile, pretty cheap and I find I can be quite adventurous with what I add to it, with a (normally!) happy response from everyone in the family.  This recipe is comforting and delicious, with the tasty texture of prawns, softness of the egg, the crunch of the veg and the subtle flavours of the sweetened soy sauce, ginger and coriander.  You could experiment with the veg content – broccoli, mangetout and baby sweetcorn would also work well.

I got the kids to guess the secret ingredient (ginger) – they didn’t, but were interested to know that ginger (normally associated with gingerbread men!) was in there.

Allow about 30 mins to make the dish (or less if you use microwave rice – just add it at the same point without pre-cooking it).  You can freeze any leftovers.  The recipe is a simplified version of one in Annabel Karmel’s The Fussy Eaters Recipe Book, which is full of great ideas.

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Indonesian fried rice (nasi goreng) – serves 4

160g rice (I like brown rice)

Any oil

1/2 onion, thinly sliced

1/4 red pepper, chopped small

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 tsp grated/finely chopped ginger

Handful frozen peas

150g cooked prawns

1 1/2 tbsp dark soy sauce

1 tbsp brown sugar

4 spring onions, thinly sliced

Small handful coriander, roughly chopped

Cook the rice as per the instructions, then drain.  Meanwhile heat the oil and add the onion, pepper, garlic and ginger and cook for around 5 mins, until the veg is tender.  Add the cooked, drained rice, peas and prawns and stir fry for another few minutes, then add the beaten eggs, stirring constantly and scrapping the cooked egg off the bottom of the pan until it has scrambled (about 5 mins max).  Turn off the heat.

Mix the soy sauce and brown sugar together and stir through the rice.  Stir in the spring onions, then spoon in to bowls.  Serve with the coriander scattered on top!

 

No-bake booster bars

 

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These booster bars are simple to make, packed full of goodness and energy and are also sugar free.   The honey and dates provide the sweet hit, the nuts add crunch and the lemon/orange zest give extra flavour.  They are great for trips out and as an after-school snack for ‘starving’ children (their words, not mine).  You can also be flexible with what dried fruit/nuts/seeds you use – see the recipe for more info!

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Allow 15 mins prep plus an hour max to set in the fridge.  The bars will last a few days in a sealed container.

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No-bake booster bars (makes 15 bars)

200g dates, roughly chopped or 200g raisins/dried cranberries
170g roughly chopped nuts (any is fine – I used mixed nuts)
30g seeds e.g. linseeds/pumpkin seeds/sunflower seeds
100g oats
100g honey
85g peanut butter
Grated zest of 1 lemon/orange

Melt the peanut butter and honey in a saucepan on a low heat, then add the other ingredients and mix well.

Line a smallish baking tray with greaseproof paper and spoon the mixture in, patting it down so it is evenly spread and tightly packed. Once cooled put in the fridge for an hour or so to harden, then cut in to bars. Will last a few days in a sealed container.

 

Summer berry and almond clafoutis (10mins prep/40 mins baking)

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Clafoutis is a delicious French dessert, made by arranging fruit in a dish, covering it with a sweet batter and baking until puffed up and golden brown.  It is traditionally made with cherries but you can make it with any fresh or frozen berries e.g. blueberries/raspberries/strawberries/blackberries, and halved and stoned plums also work great.  I used the cheapest frozen mixed summer berries I could find plus 1/2 can of pitted cherries, and added ground almonds to the batter.

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Clafoutis is laughably simple to prepare – just 10 minutes using a food processor, plus approx 40 mins baking in the oven.  And it looks pretty!  Eat it with cream, ice cream or custard.

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Ingredients

Oil or butter, for greasing

350g frozen or fresh fruit e.g. cherries/blueberries/strawberries/raspberries/blackberries/plums.

For the batter

50g ground almonds

2 tbsp plain flour

100g caster sugar

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

250ml double cream

1/2 tsp almond or vanilla essence

Heat oven to 190 degrees/gas mark 5. Oil or butter an oven proof dish (not loose bottomed) and scatter the fruit over the bottom.
Whizz all the batter ingredients in a food processor/blender until smooth, pour it over the fruit and bake for 35-45 mins until slightly puffed and golden brown. Serve warm with cream, ice cream or custard.

 

Rice, tuna and veg bake (10 mins prep/30 mins baking)

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We’ve had a busy weekend and we are all tired! So this rice, tuna and veg bake is a low effort, yet healthy, recipe. Simply mix a packet of pre-cooked rice with canned tuna, canned sweetcorn, chopped pepper, two eggs, a stock cube and dried herbs. Top with grated cheese and bake for around 30 minutes. The bake is tasty and satisfying, with the egg making the bottom go a little crispy.

Most of the ingredients are long-life and can be kept in the cupboard for when you need them, and even the fresh ingredients last a fair while in the fridge.  We ate the bake with broccoli, but peas would also work well.

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Those packets of pre-cooked rice (as used here) are readily available and brilliant at time saving and I buy them regularly now. As well as microwaving or baking the rice, I sometimes fry it straight from the packet with some veg, prawns and a little soy sauce for a 10 minute dinner. Or use it in an extra quick kedgeree, which is a favourite in our house. Anyway, back to the original recipe!

Rice, tuna and veg bake (serves 4)

1/2 red pepper, chopped small
Small tin sweetcorn, drained
250g packet of pre-cooked rice (I used brown basmati rice but any is fine)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 stock cube, crumbled
Sprinkle of herbs
Small handful grated cheddar (or other hard) cheese

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees/gas mark 5.

Put all of the ingredients apart from the cheese in a casserole dish and mix well. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the top and bake in the oven for approximately 30 minutes, until slightly browned and crispy on top.

Help-yourself lunch

Having a help-yourself lunch is hardly a new or groundbreaking idea, but since my kids always get excited about it, I thought it worth sharing!

Here is how it works: most weekends we have a simple buffet style lunch where everything is laid out on plates, along with a jug of squash, and we all help ourselves.  There is a pretty healthy balance of veg, fruit, protein, dairy and carbs.  The kids LOVE choosing and serving themselves, particularly my 3 year old, who is prone to fussiness.  By giving him control, it goes a tiny way to reducing his need to assert his independence by refusing certain food.   We don’t try and push him to eat certain things and hope that, in the long-term, he will become less fussy (like his older brother).   Things are slowly improving.  The freedom to choose means that sometimes the kids will just fill their plates with bread/pizza, but we just smile sweetly and pretend we couldn’t care less whether they eat any of the veg (!)  And actually, they sometimes fill their plates with most of what is on offer too.

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I don’t normally spend more than 20 minutes preparing a help-yourself lunch as most of the ingredients are really quick to prepare, fresh or shop-bought.

Examples are: shop-bought falafel, shop-bought tortellini; chorizo or ham; cooked sausages; fresh chopped veg (cucumber, carrot, tomatoes); griddled halloumi cheese or slices of cheddar cheese; corn on the cob; asparagus with butter; oat biscuits; baguette or any bread; fish fingers; crisps; hard-boiled eggs or 3 min microwaved omelette (crack eggs with a little milk, butter, and dried herbs, beat well, then microwave in a shallow bowl for 3 mins, flipping over halfway); pizza cut in to slices; houmous and breadsticks; roasted chickpeas; fruit; quiche; olives.

That’s it!

 

15 min rainbow stir-fry

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This colourful, crunchy and nutritious rainbow stir-fry is ready in 15 minutes.  In it are an array of different coloured vegetables (hence the ‘rainbow’!), shop-bought ready-cooked tofu (which could be supplemented with cooked chicken, prawns, halloumi cubes, chopped cooked meat/veggie sausages or nuts) and a sauce made of soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and honey.  The dish is topped with sesame seeds for extra prettiness and texture.  Yum!

Don’t worry if you don’t have sesame oil as you can use any oil.  And feel free to experiment with other veg – mushrooms, broccoli, green beans and carrots would also work well.  Eat with noodles or rice.

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Rainbow stir-fry (serves 4)

1 small pepper, cut small

1 small red onion, chopped fine

100g beansprouts

100g chopped kale

Large handful sweetcorn (tinned is fine)

Pack Cauldron marinated tofu pieces (available in some supermarkets) OR cooked prawns OR cooked chicken OR chopped halloumi OR cooked meat/veggie sausages OR salted cashews/peanuts

For the sauce

tbsp soy sauce

tbsp honey

tbsp sesame oil (or other oil)

Small clove garlic, chopped/crushed

Noodles or rice

Sesame seeds

Pour any oil in to a pan then add the pepper and onion.  After a few minutes of heating, once softened, add the beansprouts, kale, sweetcorn and tofu (or whatever else you are using).  Heat, stirring regularly, for a few more minutes.  Meanwhile mix the soy sauce, honey, sesame oil and garlic and pour it in to the pan.  Heat for another couple minutes, stirring regularly, then take off the heat.  Separately cook the noodles or rice as per the pack instructions then spoon in to bowls with the stir-fry mixture on top.  Sprinkle over some sesame seeds and serve!

 

Lilla’s Raspberry Mousse

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Lilla’s Raspberry Mousse is a rather special recipe.  It was shared with me by David, who I have enjoyed delightful food chat with over email for several months now.  David’s late wife, Lilla (a wonderful cook), used to make this mousse as a treat for Sunday lunch, and he describes it as ‘a taste of heaven’.  It uses just three ingredients – jelly, evaporated milk and raspberries, but you could vary what flavour jelly and what fruit you use (blackcurrant jelly with prunes is lovely too apparently).  It tastes great, especially with the tart raspberries dolloped in to the light and sweet mixture.  You could make it ahead if need be.

On top of this, David and I have been swapping other recipes, and he has shared with me stories of growing up in post-war Britain during rationing, when his aunt would be creative with what they had and fry bread in butter before sprinkling it with sugar.  He has never forgotten the donuty taste of it. My kids love this too!

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When making the mousse, if you blitz the evaporated milk in a food processor for 7 minutes it will aerate and give it a light, consistent texture.  If not the jelly and milk will separate a bit when setting – still delicious but not faithful to the original recipe!  Thanks David for sharing Lilla’s recipe.

Lilla’s Raspberry Mousse (makes around 7 small mousses)

One packet raspberry jelly

Small tin evaporated milk

Small tub fresh raspberries or a tin of raspberries

Put tin of milk in fridge for 2 hours.  Put the broken up jelly in to a saucepan with 1/2 pint of hot water (or if using tinned raspberries, mix water with the drained syrup up to 1/2 pint and use this).   Dissolve the jelly on a low heat, stirring well, then put aside to cool.

Take the tin of evaporated milk from the fridge, put in a food processor and run for 7 minutes – it won’t get thicker but will get aerated to give the mousse a lightness.  Then pour the cooled jelly liquid in and blitz further until the colour runs deep.  Pour into either a large dish or individual dishes (recycled ramekins or small glasses are perfect), then just drop the raspberries in (we put six in each ramekin).  Put the mousses in the fridge to set for at least 2 hours (or overnight).

You can substitute the raspberries with either strawberries or oranges, with the appropriate jelly. Or blackcurrant jelly with prunes.