Fantastic Family Nachos!

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Here is a fantastic family-friendly Mexican nachos recipe that we all loved and takes only 5 minutes to prep (plus 10 minutes baking).

The tortilla crisp base is topped with kidney beans, sweetcorn, olives, grated cheese, avocado and coriander.  Put it in the middle of the table for everyone to share, and eat with hands!  You could have some salsa and sour cream on the side.

Fantastic Family Nachos (serves 4 but you might need dips and side salad to make it go further!)

1 large pack of plain tortilla crisps

1 small tin of sweetcorn, drained

1 regular sized tin of kidney beans, drained

Handful of chopped olives

1 reduced salt vegetable stock cube (I like OXO)

2 handfuls of grated cheddar

2 avocados, chopped

Small handful of fresh coriander, chopped

Spread out the tortilla crisps on to a casserole dish/baking tray.  Separately mix the sweetcorn,  kidney beans, olives, crumble in the stock cube and mix well. Spoon the mix over the crisps, evenly top with the cheddar and bake on gas mark 7/220 degrees for around 10 minutes, until the cheese has melted.

Remove from the oven and scatter over the chopped avocados and coriander. Put on the table for everyone to help themselves, and eat with hands!

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A Handy Guide to Breakfast Cereals

Breakfast cereals are notoriously confusing to choose from.  And the marketing behind them can be very manipulative.  With this is mind I have put together a handy guide to making healthier choices with cereals.  I hope you find it helpful!

ADVERTISING: Many cereals will tell you lots of positive things to draw you in, particularly childrens’ cereals.  Just because it’s wholegrain’, ‘low in fat’, ‘fortified with vitamins and iron’, has ‘no added salt’, ‘no added sugar’, ‘no artificial colours or flavours’, has a healthy sounding name or photos of glowing kids and sprigs of wheat doesn’t mean it’s not high in sugar!  

COMPARE BRANDS: Most supermarket brands and Nestle use the helpful ‘traffic light system’ on the front of the packet – this shows whether fat, sugar and salt are high (red – a bad choice), quite high (amber – not a great choice but ok sometimes) or low (green – best choice).  Kelloggs hasn’t signed up to the traffic light system – their nutrition info is all in blue – so is the least easy to understand.  

SUGAR GUIDELINES: This is the recommended amount of daily sugar for the different age groups (you don’t need to count the sugar naturally present in milk, yoghurt and whole fruit): Adults and Children over 11 years 30g; 7-10 year olds 24g; 4-6 year olds 19g.

BEST AND WORST CHOICES: The best cereals to choose are wholegrain ones (for longer-lasting energy) which are also low in sugar, salt and fat (particularly sugar).  So aim for the sugar tab on the traffic light bit to be green.  Branflakes, porridge and shredded wheat are all good choices.   Although not wholegrain, cornflakes only have 2g of sugar per 30g bowl so are an okay choice some of the time.  And definitely better than crunchy nut cornflakes, which contain 12g of sugar per 30g bowl!  This is nearly 2/3 of the daily recommended amount of sugar for a 4-6 year old.  Cinnamon Grahams and Coco Pops both contain 8g of sugar per 30g bowl.  And some mueslis and granolas can be very high in sugar.

PORTION SIZE: 30g is a small bowl and many kids and adults have much more than that for breakfast.  Try weighing out the amount you all have and then work out the total sugar – you may be shocked!  Note that some cereal boxes (usually those aimed at adults) will tell you how much sugar per 40g/45g so check closely.

MAKING CHANGES: If you/your kids love sugary cereal, consider mixing it with a healthier similar cereal and over time reducing it until you are only left with the healthier choice.   Or buy a few new, more healthy cereals for people to choose from, so atleast people feel there is some choice.  Topping cereal with fruit provides greater nutrition and a little natural sweetness.

Effortless Egg Curry

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This totally delicious egg curry is based on a BBC recipe.  It is quick to make (about 20 minutes) and great with some rice and mango chutney.   An excellent, effortless recipe to have up your sleeve!

Effortless Egg Curry (serves 4)

Oil

2 white or red onions, thinly sliced

2 heaped tbsp curry paste (I used Patak’s Korma Paste but apparently Tikka Masala also works)

400g can chopped tomatoes

8 eggs

140g frozen peas

2 tbsp natural or Greek yoghurt

Rice and mango chutney to serve (I use microwave brown rice to save time)

Heat the oil in a pan and add the sliced onions.  Gently fry for around 10 minutes, stirring, regularly, until golden.  Stir the curry paste in for 2 minutes then add the can of chopped tomatoes and 200ml of water.  Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, boil the eggs for 9 minutes until hard boiled, remove the shells and cut in to quarters and put aside.  Add the peas and yoghurt to the curry sauce and simmer for 3 minutes.  Add the hardboiled eggs.  And your curry is complete!

Best enjoyed with rice and mango chutney on the side.

Orange and Raisin Soda Bread

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My 5 year old son and I love Nadia Hussain – former Bake Off Winner and all round loveable mum – so we made the delicious, slightly sweet soda bread from her World Book Day book Bake Me A Story.   The great thing about soda bread is that you don’t have to knead it, it is just a matter of mixing the ingredients and patting the dough in to a rough ball.  It was easy and we all loved it with a spread of butter! We replaced the dried blueberries with raisins as we had them at home already.

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My son tends to help a little then run off, then help a little more and run off, before declaring he is tired.  Which is fine, because every second helping out counts.  He helped tipping in and mixing the ingredients, cutting a cross in the loaf before baking, and tapping on the bottom of the loaf to check it was cooked (it should make a hollow sound).

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Here is the recipe!

Orange and Raisin Soda Bread (makes one loaf)

400g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

50g caster sugar

2 tbsp olive or vegetable oil

100g raisins/dried cranberries/dried blueberries

Grated zest of 2 oranges

1 large egg

185ml buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk you can easily make it by mixing milk with lemon juice – mostly milk topped up with lemon juice to 185ml – it might curdle and that’s fine)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/gas mark 6.  Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

In a large bowl mix the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, oil, raisins and orange zest until combined.  Separately beat the egg with the buttermilk then pour in to the bowl with the other ingredients, and mix with a spatula.  Gently bring the dough together to form a ball, but don’t overwork it (you may need to use your hands at the end).

Place the dough on the lined tray and make two deep cuts in the top in a cross shape, nearly all the way through.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the loaf is golden and sounds hollow when taped on the base.

Leave to cool then enjoy with butter!  Should last 2-3 days and can be toasted.

 

 

One-Pot Gnocchi Bake

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I am very excited to share this 20 minute, one-pot gnocchi recipe that went down great at tonight’s family dinner!  Gnocchi is a sort of bite-sized Italian potato dumpling that you can buy fresh from most supermarkets.  To make the bake, simply fry an onion, pepper and garlic for a few minutes, add a tin of chopped tomatoes, olives and the gnocchi and simmer for a further 10 minutes.  Stir in some torn basil, top with mozzarella and grill until golden!  It would be nice with salad on the side too.  And I might add spinach to the bake for extra goodness next time.   Brilliant!

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One-Pot Gnocchi Bake (serves 2-4 people)

Olive or vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped small

1 red pepper, chopped small

2 cloves garlic, crushed

400g can chopped tomatoes

Large handful of black olives, roughly chopped

500g pack of gnocchi (available at most large supermarkets)

Handful of basil leaves, roughly torn

Ball of mozzarella, sliced

Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion, pepper and garlic.  Cook for a few minutes, stirring regularly.  Add the tomatoes, olives and gnocchi and simmer gently for 10-12 minutes, until the gnocchi is tender and cooked (it doesn’t take much to cook it), stirring regularly.  Stir in the basil leaves, top with the torn mozzarella and grill until golden.  Eat straightway!

Caramelised Apple Cake

 

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This Caramelised Apple Cake is my second favourite cake.  I have made it a few times now, so I am confident that it is delicious, moist and hard to get wrong!  To get the caramelised effect you sprinkle sugar on the bottom of a cake tin, top with sliced apples and then the cake mixture. It’s a lovely touch and looks super pretty.  We all love it!

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Allow about 15 minutes to prepare the cake and 50 minutes to bake it.  And make sure you have greaseproof paper.  Serve with ice cream.  And tea!

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Caramelised Apple Cake (serves 12)

5 medium apples

Juice of ½ a lemon

275g (9oz) light brown sugar

5 medium eggs

100g (3½oz) butter, melted

Pinch of salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

215g (7½oz) plain flour

¾ tsp baking powder

100g (3½oz) ground almonds

 

Preheat oven to gas 4, 180°C, fan 160°C. Grease a cake tin and line the base and sides with nonstick baking/greaseproof paper.  Peel, halve and core the apples and slice (as in the above picture). Sprinkle with the lemon juice and 50g (2oz) of the sugar and set aside.

Scatter a further 50g (2oz) of sugar over the base of the tin. Cover with a layer of apple slices, overlapping them slightly so they sit in concentric circles.

Beat the eggs, melted butter, remaining sugar, salt and vanilla extract together until combined. Add the flour and baking powder, followed by the ground almonds. Add the remaining apple slices (chopped smaller if you like), including any liquid, and fold together quickly. Pour into the tin and bake for 50 minutes, until the cake has risen and is golden brown. (At around 30 minutes into the baking time, check the cake. If the top is golden brown by that point, cover with a layer of foil for the remainder of the baking time.)

Carefully turn out onto a serving plate so that the base is uppermost.  Eat!!

Recipe from Tesco

Cooking With Kids – Salmon and Green Bean Curry

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This is a gently spiced Salmon and Green Bean Curry recipe from the lovely Nadiya Hussain’s free kids cookbook for World Book Day.  It is all made in one pan so nice and simple.

My youngest son Robin (5) helped me make the curry using his new proper grown up chopping knife (the knife brand is ‘kitchen devil’, so obviously he was sold).  Luckily he is naturally cautious so I wasn’t scared for long!  I just had to make sure there was no loud music on and he and his brother were in different rooms and not distracting each other.  He helped me cut the green beans and salmon, holding one end with one hand (fingers curled in) and cutting slowly with the other.

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He also helped me put the ingredients in the pan and stir.  Great job Robin!  Hopefully Freddy will cook with me soon too.  Freddy and us adults loved the dish with some brown rice.  Robin wasn’t keen on the green beans but enjoyed the rest of it and we agreed to try it with peas next time.  Canned chickpeas would make a great alternative to the salmon.  Allow about 30 minutes to make everything!

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Salmon and green bean curry (serves 4 with brown rice)

Glug of oil

2 garlic cloves, crushed

Thumb of ginger, grated very small

1 small onion, chopped small

1 tsp tomato puree or 1 tomato, chopped small

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 1/2 tsp garam masala

Water

170g green beans, chopped

450g salmon, skin removed and chopped in to chunks

Handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Heat the oil, garlic, ginger and onion in a pan for 5 minutes, until the onions have softened.  Add the tomato puree or tomatoes, turmeric and garam masala and cook for another minute.  Add a 2 tbsp water and then the green beans.  Cook for 5 minutes, adding a little more water if need be, to just cover them.

Add the salmon and cook for another 5-7 minutes, adding a little more water to help them cook if necessary.  Take off the pan and stir in the coriander.  Eat with brown rice!