Tag Archives: cooking

Tips for cooking with little children

Cooking with young twins or multiple children can be difficult, messy and scary when knives are involved.

Here are my tips on how to make cooking with little children easier…..

  1. Prepare equipment- get everything ready before hand. Put all the ingredients out, all the bowls, equipment and utensils you could possibly need on the table/side ready to hand.
  2. Prepare area – Put a cloth on the table/floor if needed.
  3. Prepare yourself – wear an apron yourself (things can get very messy).
  4. Prepare the children – talk to your children before hand, telling them what is expected of them and that they may have to wait while they all take turns sometimes. Put on aprons.
  5. Wash hands – everyone!
  6. Be mentally prepared for mess – try to stay calm, it may get messy, but remember, it can all be cleaned up after
  7. Allow plenty of time.
  8. Have fun working together and let the children get stuck in.
  9. Get the children to help clean up after – they often have as much fun cleaning up as they do the cooking.

Children love cooking, it is such a great rainy day activity that everyone can enjoy. We had fun last week making an apple crumble.

cooking an apple crumble

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A rocket cake for daddy

Rocket birthday cakeIt was Twinlife daddy’s birthday last week, so I thought we should make him a cake. Now, being a stay at home mum, I have to get my entertainment from somewhere, so what better place, than from spending time creating a cake master piece with my twins (BB unfortunately was at school).

I didn’t want to make any old ordinary cake (that would just be too boring!). We had to do something better. So I thought, how about a rocket? Daddy, loves rockets! Who said novelty cakes are only for children?

Anyone with twins, or more than one little person in the house, knows how tricky it can be cooking with multiple little children, so I must admit, we haven’t done much lately. But, I thought I would have a try again, now they are getting older.

Pinky and Boo stood on their chairs at the worktop with me. I had to take a photo of them in their aprons, looking so proud to be helping mummy make daddy a birthday cake!

Cooks in their aprons

They both greased the tin, which they found very amusing and helped weigh out all the ingredients on the scales, then poured it all into the mixer. They broke an egg in each (for the first time, and it wasn’t as disastrous as I thought it would be!). Yes, I know we should be mixing by hand, but the mixer makes such lovely quick cakes! They enjoyed turning the mixer on and off as needed before helping pour the mixture out into the prepared tin.

cake mixing

We used a loaf tin, to make the basic shape and baked it in the oven.

Once baked and cooled, I cut the two corners off the top and put them at the bottom to make the side boosters (or whatever you call them?).

Rocket cake basic shape

I cut it in half, filled it with butter icing and then covered it all with a thin layer. I then added a layer of shop bought ready to roll icing on top (yes, I know it’s cheating, but we can’t all be good at everything).

Once this was done, it looked quite rocket like. I then used writing icing tubes to decorate some details and write happy birthday.

Rocket birthday cake

Twinlife Daddy loved his birthday cake and Pinky and Boo loved helping. Unfortunately, they told daddy the day before his birthday about his cake! Why can’t children keep a secret?? But, I have to say, it was a very nice cake!

P.s I have just realised what the shape of the unfinished rocket looks like….before you say it!!

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The hungry caterpillar meatballs

The hungry caterpillar meatballs

Picture of Richmond mini meatballs Richmond kindly sent us a voucher for a packet of 40 Mini Meatballs to try.

The challenge was to see what easy, hassle free, quick recipe we could come up with that children will love.

One very favourite story, all my children love, is ‘the very hungry caterpillar’. I thought what better way to get children enjoying their food than to create something from their favourite story.

Here are the easy, child friendly, delicious hungry caterpillar meatballs we made….

Hungry-caterpillar-meatball

Ingredients per caterpillar

  • Richmond mini meatballs
  • 1 cherry tomato
  • 2 green beans
  • 1 large lettuce leaf
  • 1 Finger roll
  • Tomato/vegetable sauce (Jar or homemade)

How To Make The Very Hungry Caterpillar Meatballs

  1. Place the mini meatballs on a baking tray and put in a pre heated oven at 180 degrees C for 10 mins (or 1 min in the microwave)
  2. Cut the finger roll in half
  3. Heat some tomato/vegetable sauce from a jar (or if you prefer home made, try my delicious tomato sauce recipe below)
  4. Spoon some tomato/vegetable sauce into the roll
  5. Place a lettuce leaf on top
  6. Put the cherry tomato one end of the roll and make 2 slits in the top.
  7. Cut the green beans to size and push into the slits in the tomato
  8. Line the meatballs up on the lettuce leaf and hey presto, you have a very hungry caterpillar!

This took just 5 mins to prep and 10 mins to cook (when using a jar of sauce).

This is the quickest and easiest way to make the caterpillars, but if you prefer homemade sauce like me, here is my tomato and vegetable sauce.

 

 Ingredients for the tomato and vegetable sauce

  • 1 tbsp  Olive oilpicture of ingredients to make caterpillar meatballs
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 1 Large carrot (or 2 small), peeled & chopped
  • 1 Red pepper, chopped
  • 1 Clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Large pinch sugar
  • 1 Tin chopped tomatoes (400g)
  • 2 tbsp  Tomato puree
  • 150ml Vegetable stock

How to make a delicious tomato and vegetable sauce

  1. Heat the oil in a pan
  2. Saute the onion, carrots and pepper until soft
  3. Add the garlic
  4. Add the vinegar and sugar and cook for 2 min
  5. Add the tomato puree, chopped tomatoes and stock
  6. Simmer for 25 mins
  7. The sauce should now be nicely thickened. If you prefer a smooth sauce you can blend it

This makes 4 to 6 servings. It is good to freeze, so you could make a batch and have several portions ready in the freezer to pull out to whip up a quick meal.

These Hungry caterpillars were very quick and easy to make. The children loved them so much. They cleared their plates and even ate their lettuce (which they wouldn’t normally do!). It was great fun for them. We spent the whole mealtime trying to recite the very hungry caterpillar story from memory.

These caterpillars would also be a very easy meal children could help make themselves. They would love building their caterpillars on its nice green leaf. I think this is a really fun idea, I am going to get the children to make their own next time.

I am glad I have discovered Richmond mini meatballs as they are such a versatile food I can keep in my freezer that I know the kids will love. There are so many different things you could do with the meatballs from spaghetti meatballs, pizza with meatballs on, to tortilla wraps and sandwiches. I am not very good at making my own meatballs, as I usually burn them, so this is perfect for me, we can start eating meatballs again!

This post is an entry for Britmums Hungry to Happy Challenge sponsored by Richmond Mini Meatballs at http://wp.me/p3bVJd-5wB

picture of mini meatballs hungry 2 happy challenge

 

 

 

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I love my slow cooker

picture of a slow cookerLife when you have young children can be tough. You have to juggle so many balls all at the same time. Talk about needing to master multitasking!

There is one time of day in particular that I find most difficult (and I know that this is a very common phenomenon). That is from around 4pm until bedtime.

Yes, dinner time can be hell! There are 3 young children in the other room fighting and screaming, while you are trying to cook the dinner. At the same time, you are constantly running backwards and forwards playing referee! What is it about 4/4.30pm that turns lovely well behaved children into little argumentative monsters?! Tired, hungry children is not a good combination.

One way of making things a little easier for myself is to use my slow cooker. I fell in love with my slow cooker when my son was born. It meant I could basically cook the dinner at a time of day that suited me and the baby rather than have to panic at 5pm when the baby was screaming.

I love being able to just throw things into the pot in the morning, and then hey presto, dinner is ready at 5pm!

There are lots of different recipes you can try. My favourites are Bolognese, curry and a chicken or pork casserole. But if you don’t like cooking from scratch using a recipe, you could just throw in some chicken and a jar of curry sauce, or some mince and a jar of Bolognese sauce etc. Leave it to stew away and then your dinner is ready when you want it. It is soooo easy!

Here are a couple of my easy recipes to try:

Chicken curry

  • Chicken
  • Veg of your choice
  • 3 big dessert spoonfuls of curry paste (depending on taste)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of tomato puree
  • 1 tin chopped tomat0es

For best results brown the chicken first, throw all the rest of the ingredients in and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.

 

Bolognese

  • Onions
  • Vegetables of your choice
  • Minced beef
  • Tin of chopped tomatoes (I like using 2 tins)
  • 1-2 tbsp. tomato puree

You can just throw all the ingredients in the pot and cook, but for best results brown the mince and onions first, then throw it all in together and cook away. 4hrs on high or 8hrs on low.

These are just so simple and relatively healthy.

The other great use for the slow cooker, is, for weaning. The slow cooker makes the meat so tender, it is very easy for babies to learn to eat and chew meat. It also means, when cooking your own dinner, you can cook a little extra and then freeze baby portions to use at a later date.

I think I will be continuing to use my slow cooker when the kids get older too. They will probably all be going to different clubs and groups etc. It will be great to be able to serve dinner at different times without having to cook separately.

Oh how I love my slow cooker!! I would highly recommend it to anyone with kids!

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