As I sit here writing this post, the latest season of MasterChef ‘the professionals’ has started on our TV. I love my cooking and love watching these chefs panic as they stare at a table of random ingredients pondering what to cook for the judges as part of the invention test at the beginning of the programme.
Then I thought, hang on a minute, this is just like being a mummy – most days, unless I am super duper organised, I find myself staring at an array of random ingredients in our fridge and cupboards wondering what it is I am going to cook my harsh judges….the kids and my husband!
I have loved cooking for my kids. Since those early days of watching their little faces try to process the first taste of a pureed carrot or chomping on a bit of steamed broccoli for the first time when they were weaning babies to last week watching them both try wholegrain mustard at their grannies house and deciding that they loved it and pinching their daddies calamari in a restaurant – encouraging and enabling them to devour anything and everything has been fun!
I count my blessings that I dont have fussy eaters. Bea may be painstakingly slow sometimes and Freya is very distracted at the table and could do with a few lessons in manners when the mood takes me but, most important to me is that they do, like their parents, enjoy eating.
I have always loved Annabel Karmels books for meal ideas. She makes some great pasta sauces like this one cleverly hiding loads of different veg and getting kids tastebuds eating varied foods. As the kids have grown older, we have naturally started eating more meals together or one pot stuff that my husband and I can eat after they are tucked up in bed. I thought I would share with you my top 10 meals that get wolfed down in this house…
1 – Popeye Pasta – I wrote about this delicious Spinach pasta sauce here – it really is a winner and still my most requested pasta meal here!
2 – Fried Rice – Apparently, Daddy does this better than mummy… hmm, he is welcome to cook anytime! Like my Oodles of Noodles, this really is a great way to use up the bits of veg that need a home before they get too floppy!
Simply cook some rice (I use basmati) while that is cooking, chop up the veggies and any meat you have. I usually use some chicken (could be marinated for a bit in soy sauce for extra flavour) Spring onion, mini sweetcorn, red pepper, broccoli chopped into tiny florets, mushrooms and carrots. Fry these up, using some soy sauce, sesame oil and perhaps some lemon juice until all the veg are cooked and delicious. Add in the drained rice to the frying pan and mix it all up. If you havent any meat, then I usually push the fried rice aside in the pan and break in an egg or two and scramble it up. This mixed with the rice adds protein and of course some lovely flavour too.
This meal wouldn’t be compete for my girls without a drizzle of ketchap manis – its basically a sweet soy sauce and is delicious! 3 – Roast Chicken– is there anything better than seeing your whole family around a table having Sunday lunch together? Not for me! I love cooking Sunday lunch for my family. The girls favourite is Lamb but as this (and beef) are so expensive nowadays and because my niece and her mum only eat chicken, if they are coming along which they often do, we stick to chicken so everyone can eat the same. Its delicious and such an easy meal to get ready. If you are a roast dinner virgin chef do give this a try, you really can’t go wrong if you keep it simple; meat, potatoes and some veg covered in gravy – yum! 4 – Chicken Risotto – Jamie Olivers basic risotto recipe is an easy one to follow if you haven’t ever made one before (I don’t use celery like he does though). This is my top way of using up the leftovers from a roast chicken! The girls LOVE rice and risotto was my first introduction to it for them when they were little. Just when they got to the independent ‘I want to feed myself’ stage but I didn’t want to relinquish control of all cutlery, I discovered risotto – perfect for little fingers to pick up or very sticky on a spoon so less likely to fly around the room!I now make risotto using a whole packet of arborio rice at a time! We either all eat it together, or after the girls if its a week night. I also then fill up all my old weaning pots and freeze it – its a great standby freezer meal that can be easily defrosted in the microwave.
5 – Oodles of Noodles – I wrote about our love of noodles here.
The only thing that has really changed is that Bea has decided she loves Peanut Butter now so there is often a tablespoon dolloped into the noodles too (think satay noodles – yum!)
I have also discovered how brilliant the straight to wok noodles can be – a brilliant store cupboard ingredient.
6 – Aunty Jo Chicken and Rice – this is brilliant and so super quick. Never shall a chicken teddy darken my door again! It is called Aunty Jo chicken because the girls had it once at said aunties house and loved it! Here is the recipe Quite simply, it is chunks of chicken, tossed in tomato chutney / red pesto / at a push, Tomato ketchup – then tossed about in breadcrumbs (yes, i do find the fake orangey ones better but I am sure fresh ones if you have them are better!) Place them on a baking tray and cook for 10 mins / until definitely cooked through. They stay so moist and juicy they are just yummy!
For the girls, this meal would not be complete unless the chicken came with yellow rice. Also from Aunty Jo’s kitchen – simply, its rice that has a half a teaspoon of turmeric added to the water it is cooking in. It turns it a beautiful golden colour that is obviously much more fun to eat than white rice! 7 – Spaghetti bolognese – say no more, its a winner and if like me, you serve it with much tastier wholemeal pasta, its a great way of getting goodness into your kids. Fry up your mince with some onions, grate 2 carrots, 2 courgettes, chop a couple of peppers peppers, a handful of mushrooms and of course there are the tinned tomatoes too and the spag bol in our house is packed full of veg and feeds the kids, the parents and stocks the freezer supplies too for last minute meals. We LOVE spag bol! 8 – Fish and Chips – mummys style. I will always have a packet of fish fingers in my freezer. They are brilliant and so quick and easy (i prefer to buy these ones as they are less fake and more fish) BUT more often, the girls get their fish intake from eating plain pan fried strips of fish. They love cod, plaice, sea bass (i love living on an island with fresh fish about!) and salmon too. They have recently discovered they love the crispy skin too! Served with mash or home made chips and some veggies this is probably Freyas favourite meal. 9 – Sausage and mash – We recently met a little boy who didn’t eat sausages and my two looked at him as though he had three heads! I think my daughters would eat sausages every day if they could. I am a picky sausage buyer though and do insist in buying sausages that actually have meat in them not just bread and other gluten. We really like the Black Farmer sausages which are gluten free and a whopping 90% pork or the coop own brand chipolatas have a pretty high meat percentage too. Its pretty grim when you actually read how little meat is in some brands of sausage so worth looking at the labels for this one. 10 – Pancakes – I think I might have to do a breakfast blog as we are expanding our repertoire rapidly at the moment. Top of the list at the weekend however is always a plea for pancakes – i even took little bags filled with the dried ingredients with us on holiday this year! Little fluffy American style pancakes are the favourite here (great finger food for younger babes too). Its a really easy recipe, even for a jaded mum on a Saturday morning!
50g self raising flour
1 tbsp of caster sugar
quarter of a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
3 tbsp milk
Stir together the dry ingredients in one bowl. In a different bowl or jug beat together the milk and egg and whisk this into the flour mixture. Leave the mix to stand for 5 minutes; it will thicken slightly and bubbles will start to form on the top.
Meanwhile, heat a frying pan and brush a little oil on the base. Drop teaspoons of the batter pr tablespoons if you want bigger pancakes! Turn them over when the bubbles form on the top and the bottom of the pancakes are golden. Served with big dollops of plain greek yoghurt and some warmed up bananas and blueberries and a large drizzle of maple syrup everyone has a great start to the day!
What are your kids favourite meals? Do you love cooking or struggle to muster the enthusiasm? I would love to hear from you!
Love Mum on the Rock xx
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