cooking, cooking with kids

Tasty and quick Spinach and Mushroom Lasagne

This was another quick ‘rustle’ tonight by the 9 and 11yo boys, as we had a big bag of spinach and no coriander in the house to make a spinach dahl!… The fresh pasta sheets were in the freezer, so we defrosted those and got busy with the Spinach and Mushroom Lasagne. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Spinach and Mushroom LasagneIngredients for 4 people:

1 tbsp olive oil
300g bag spinach
2 garlic cloves, crushed
250g pack mushrooms, sliced
2 tsp thyme leaves, chopped
Cheese sauce (see below)
400g tin of puy lentils
1 tsp bouillon stock
300g fresh pasta sheets

For the Cheese Sauce

Big knob of butter
Flour
Milk
Water
Grated Cheese to taste

Instructions:

1) Heat the oil. Crush the garlic, and gently fry in a large frying pan for one minute in the oil.

2) Add the sliced mushrooms and the chopped thyme and stir

3) Meanwhile start the cheese sauce, by melting a bit knob of butter in another pan, and adding a tablespoon of flour, to make a roux – add milk, and keep stirring, the secret is to use a hand whisk which gets the lumps out, add water if it starts to thicken.

4) Add the spinach a handful at a time to the mushrooms and garlic in the frying pan. Sprinkle and stir in a tsp of bouillon low salt stock.

5) Add the grated cheese to the white sauce and keep stirring.

6) Add the remaining spinach and a tin of drained and rinsed puy lentils and stir.

7) Start to layer up the pie dish (we use a glass dish, as the kids like to see the layers) – starting with the spinach and lentils mix, then add two sheets of lasagne side by side to cover, and a dollop of the cheese sauce, and so on until you have used up the lasage, finish by pouring the remaining cheese sauce over the Spinach and Mushroom Lasagne dish.

8) Grate over another handful of cheese and crumble on some breadcrumbs. And place in the hot oven for 35 minutes. I find that covering the dish with tin foil after twenty minutes stops the cheesy breadcrumb crust from over cooking.

Another favourite for 11yo is his Salmon with mushrooms and pak choi, click here to read more.

Ali also blogs over on aGreenerLifeforus.com and is a new lover of Instagram too… pop over and say hello!

cooking, cooking with kids, gardening, gardening with kids

Tasty leeks with chickpeas recipe with grilled halloumi cheese

This was a quick ‘rustle’ last night, as we had a big bag of leeks, and all I could think of was Leeks in Cheese Sauce… not very original, 11yo doesn’t like cheese (unless it’s grilled halloumi!), and he wanted to make something that looked ‘restauranty’!

KidsChaos Leek Chick Pea Carrots Parsnips recipeIngredients for 4 people:

6 large leeks
500ml low salt vegetable stock
2 tins 400g tin chickpeas, drained
Packet of Halloumi cheese, sliced

For the dressing

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp runny honey
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
2 garlic cloves, crushed
A pinch of salt flakes

 Instructions:

1) Chop the leeks in half, and then slice into quarters length ways, to create ribbons.

2) Break up a stock cube into a large deep frying pan, and pour in the 500ml boiling water, add the leeks and simmer for five minutes.

3) Mix up the dressing of olive oil, honey, and the juice and zest of the lemons with the crushed garlic and salt flakes

4) As the leeks soften add the chickpeas to the pan and stir through to heat them.

5) Meanwhile using a ridged frying pan, grill the halloumi (we like the grill stripes!) and start plating up the leeks and chickpeas, spoon over the dressing, and then top with the halloumi cheese – very ‘restauranty’ don’t you think?!

Serve with honey and garlic roasted carrots and parsnips – delicious!

Another favourite for 11yo is his Salmon with mushrooms and pak choi, click here to read more.

You may also like Chris Mosler’s Thinly Spread’s Rich Leek Tart. We’ll be trying that one for sure!

Ali also blogs over on aGreenerLifeforus.com and is a new lover of Instagram too… pop over and say hello!

baking, cooking with kids, crafts, easter

Paper plate crafts – cookie box

Paper Plate craft - cookie boxHow about this paper plate box? Paper plate crafts don’t have to be just ‘making faces’ or using them for wheels…

They also have very practical uses, and this paper plate box works on so many levels! We have used the paper plate to create a little cookie box, which is the perfect size for holding our Bunny Biscuits, and will make a great Easter Gift for Granny and Grandma.

I had planned to make these paper plate boxes for our next School cake bake sale, as we have a little tradition at our school – the kids get sent home with a paper plate, which has a sticker reading  “Fill me up with treats & cakes, bought or baked, whatever it takes”.

And my lovely friend Nellie (smallbumbigadventure.wordpress.com) sent me a ‘how to’ that she had found on Pinterest, so we tried it out, and photographed a ‘how to’ of our own to pop on the school facebook group page so that the kids can have a go at making them too! It has inspired 9yo and he’s been experimenting with all sorts of different ways to fold the paper plate, so that the front section is lower than the back, and it has to be said, when you ARE deciding which is going to be the front of the box, be sure to have the side flap folding towards the back for neatness…!

paper plate craft biscuit box

For full instructions on how to make the Bunny Cookies, click here, includes a fuss-free recipe for Royal Icing too…

Ali also blogs over on aGreenerLifeforus.com and is a new lover of Instagram too… pop over and say hello!

baking, competitions, cooking, cooking with kids

Alphabites on InstagramOur lovely friends Bear Nibbles sent us some Alphabites to try.

It was 4pm, so we couldn’t wait for their breakfast the next morning, as the post-school-tummy-rumbles forced us to open the box – what a GOOD plan that was, we all tucked in, and meanwhile 11yo had the great idea to grab some chalk! Our game of Noughts and Crosses made for a photogenic Instagram opportunity, (I can’t help myself…) and the boys had great fun spelling out words on the slate table mat!

There are two recipes to choose from, Multigrain and Cocoa Multigrain, we’re saving the Cocoa for the weekend as we have some good friends coming to stay at the weekend, and the boys wanted to share them with them (awwww!)

bearnibbles alphabitesWhat are Alphabites?

Crunchy cereal letters made from tasty wholegrains, with no added nonsense. They are tasty, and naturally sweetened, Alphabites do have natural coconut blossom nectar sugar in them – in fact, the lowest sugar levels of any cereal made for kids.  A bowl of Alphabites with milk has 11g of sugar and more than half of those sugars come from the milk. Milk is an important healthy ingredient for growing bones and the fact they don’t add salt to their cereal helps to that end too.

So many cereals contain salt, which, did you know, causes calcium to be lost from the bones at an age. Also, coconut blossom nectar itself contains calcium, which you do not find in refined sugar.

bearnibbles alphabitesIf your kids fancy a change from porridge (my boys’ all time favourite, and it’s a win-win as we’ve sprinkled some of the Alphabites on top of our porridge this morning!) or you’d like to try an alternative to the salty/sugary cereals currently aimed at kids, we have two packs of Bear Nibbles Alphabites to give away…

So what are you waiting for? Why not enter and see how if you’re the lucky winner!

WIN A box of each of Bear Nibbles Alphabites cereals

THIS PRIZE DRAW HAS NOW CLOSED – AND THE WINNER IS EMMA FROM STOKE ON TRENT!!

Entry into the giveaway is really easy:

Follow and tweet the following message: I would love to win #AlphabitesCereals with @Follow_the_Bear via @morekidschaos http://www.KidsChaos.com

For extra entries:

And then leave a comment letting us know you have done it. The winner will be chosen by random and contacted by email. Full Terms and Conditions are below.

Giveaway End Date: Friday 21st March 2014 11.59pm

UK Entries Only

Good luck!

Terms and Conditions:

  • The prize is a two packets of Alphabites cereal. There is no cash alternative.
  • Entrants must tweet the message and then leave a comment on the blog.
  • Entrants must follow @MoreKidsChaos on Twitter, follow @Follow_The_Bear on Twitter and follow MoreKidsChaos on Facebook.
  • All steps listed above must be followed to ensure the proper qualification into the competition
  • UK Entrants only
  • Competition closes on Friday 21st March 11.59pm
  • The winner will be chosen at random by the Kids Chaos team and contacted by email.
  • Winners must respond to the email within 7 days or forfeit the prize. Another winner will then be chosen.
  • The prize will be sent from Bear Nibbles. 
  • Kids Chaos’ decision is final
baking, cooking with kids, crafts, easter, kids

 With Spring almost here, and Easter around the corner, we thought we’d rustle up some rabbit cookies – or bunny biscuits as we’ve named them! It was a great introduction for 9yo to practice his royal icing piping, and ‘flooding in’ – we learnt a LOT about icing technique!

bunny biscuits royal icing

There are LOADS of bunny cookie cutters around at the moment, we had one which was my Mum’s and for the tail you could use a flower cutter, or a small circle…

We used up some royal icing which had been in the fridge for a couple of days, and we have some TOP TIPS for you about this…see below!

Ingredients:

50g fairtrade caster sugar
100g butter
175g plain flour

Method:

Heat the oven to 150 degrees C (300 F, Gas mark 2)
Cream the caster sugar and the butter together, slowly adding the flour, mixing together to form a dough, I find we need to add a couple of drops of water, knead together to form a ball.

Roll out the dough, on a floured surface, to about 4mm thick.
Using your bunny shaped cutter, cut the dough, and place your bunnies and tails on a lightly floured baking tray, and bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. (feel free to make some spare rabbit tails… to munch on whilst you’re icing the rabbit cookies!)

KidsChaos-Bunny-Biscuits-royal-icing

bunny biscuits

As they cool down, you can make your royal icing (recipe here). Or if you are using some icing which you have been keeping in the fridge, as we were, TOP TIP make sure you really really stir the royal icing to get ALL of the lumps out, otherwise it sticks in the piping bag – and clogs the nozzle so that when you are piping the outline it stutters out, and the line will be all wobbly… 9yo wanted a pale brown bunny, so we mixed in his favourite hot chocolate mix, into a portion of the white royal icing and some more Fairtrade icing sugar, so that it’s quite thick to pipe the outlines. When this outline is dry, you add a drop of water to the remaining brown mixture, so that you can spoon it into the outline, and using a cocktail stick, gently ‘flood’ the biscuit, and prick any little bubble that appear.

Pop the ‘tail’ into position whilst the ‘flood in’ icing on the rabbit cookie is still wet, and pipe on the remaining white royal icing to make a fluffy tail!

red-ted-art-google-plus-hangout-kids-chaos-rabbits

For more Spring baking ideas, check out the daffodil cookies here and if you are after some more rabbit crafts have a look at my denim pocket purse with leaping rabbits here (FREE printable) – and watch our latest google+ hangout hosted by Maggy at Redtedart featuring Anthea, Lizzie, myself and Kelly – a great selection of Bunny Crafts!

For easy to follow instructions on how to make a little gift box from a paper plate, perfect for these cookies, please click here.

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.comAli also blogs over on aGreenerLifeforus.com and is a new lover of Instagram too… pop over and say hello!

baking, cooking with kids, crafts, food, gardening with kids

daffodil biscuitsIt’s time for some Daffodil biscuits – well, Spring is practically here, so we thought we’d have some fun and celebrate the glimmers of spring that are popping up in the gardens and vases of England… with cookies!

The daffodil biscuit, or cookie, recipe is pretty straightforward – and taste good on their own without any decorating, however, in true spring-craft honour, we went a bit to town, and made up some royal icing too… recipes here:

Daffodil biscuit ingredients:

50g fairtrade caster sugar
100g butter
175g plain flour

Method:

Heat the oven to 150 degrees C (300 F, Gas mark 2)
Cream the sugar and butter together, slowly add the flour, mixing together to form a dough, if you need to, add a couple of drops of water, knead together to form a ball.
Roll out the dough, on a floured surface, to about 4mm thick.
Using a star shaped cutter, cut the dough, and place your stars on a lightly floured baking tray, and bake for about 20minutes, until golden brown.

As they cool down, you can make your royal icing.

instagram work in progressRoyal icing ingredients:

2 large  egg whites
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
330g icing sugar, sifted

Beat the egg whites with the lemon juice. Add the sifted icing sugar and beat on low speed until combined and smooth. Adding more icing sugar if it’s too runny, or if the icing is too thick, add a little water. The icing needs to be used immediately or popped in an airtight container as royal icing hardens when exposed to air. I added a tiny amount of yellow food colouring, stirring with a cocktail stick to mix the colour in thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap when not in use.

royal icing no piping bagNow, I DIDN’T have an icing bag, but, I came up with a cunning plan:

Take a plastic sandwich bag, and fold a couple of pieces of sellotape over one corner.
Open the bag so that that rigid, sellotaped corner triangle is pointing down, pop the plastic bag into a glass or cup, so that you drop the bag over the edges of the of the cup, and you can spoon in your royal icing.
daffodil biscuits outlineTwist the bag to tighten it, and take a sharp pair of scissors, you snip a tiny bit off the sellotaped corner to make a piping bag! Simple, yet very effective. Now you can pipe your icing onto your cooled star-shaped daffodil biscuits.

(I am experimenting with FREEZING the leftover icing, so I’ll let you know how that goes)

The orange Icing is a ready-roll block from Hobbycraft, roll small sections out to about 2mm thickness, and use a smaller cookie cutter to make the frilly daffodil trumpets. I have very short fingernails, so I could shape the orange icing into a cup/trumpet shape on the end of my finger, you could use the end of a wooden spoon to do this too.

royal icing floodingI then used the royal icing as ‘glue’ to stick the trumpets to the daffodil cookie biscuit, at the same time as I stuck the coffee stirrer sticks (painted with green food colouring) to the back of the flowers.

They look so lovely in a vase or jug, (tip – I placed a glass upside down in the jug, and filled it with cheap rice, so that the sticks stay still and in position in the jug – genius my 9yo thinks!) Great for this time of year, St David’s Day, for Easter or Mother’s Day.

you tube google + hangoutIf you’d like to see more Spring crafts, watch the google+ hangout hosted by Maggy at Red Ted Art featuring lots of great ideas from me (!), Anthea with Pipe cleaner daffodils, Kelly with her ladybird cork magnet and Liz with sweet wild violet cookies.

If you like any of these images, and would like to keep them to remind yourselves to make some later, do PinIt 🙂

Ali also blogs over on aGreenerLifeforus.com and is a new lover of Instagram too… pop over and say hello!

Homemade Thursday

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

cooking with kids, education

Change 4 Life imageWe received a letter from school this week, as have many other parents – it turns out that my 11yo son is underweight – his body mass index (BMI) is in the 1st centile, which is ‘underweight’ and not a ‘healthy weight’. But I thought the measurement for change 4 life was ‘Healthy Eating’?

For us though, I’m pretty sure it’s a family thing, we are all four of us slim, and yet we eat LOTS of food (healthy, AND cakes) – The boys just move a lot… every week between them they go to a running club – twice a week; football twice a week, netball, and tennis – that’s busy, oh and one of them does a martial arts class too… They move A LOT.

I understand that The National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) is an important element of the Government’s work programme on child obesity, however, in our case I don’t want him to be worrying that he’s too thin, but he is worrying… comparing himself in height to his younger brother’s tall, big footed friends, pointing out his skinny ankles, and his skinny ribs – and most importantly, I don’t want him to be worrying that he’s doing too much exercise.

I think we’ve managed to reassure him that he’s fine as he is, (although I have been trying to get two breakfasts into him before school!) and we have continued with our five-a-day chart on the kitchen wall, (and that’s helped me – as I’m making fruit and muesli smoothies for my breakfast every day, come on, even my wedding cake was fruit-based!)

And we are also operating a ‘good behaviour’ reward chart at the moment – the prize being a Manchester United top (I know, he’s really no son of mine…), and I’ve let him pick some new running trainers online, therefore acknowledging that sport and exercise is a GOOD thing. (and his feet ARE growing!)

I’ve been reading other blog posts this week relating to this, I think the focus needs to be on healthy eating, not that the child is too fat or too thin, this is where the insecurities start – and I think that the change for life programme does essentially focus on this, with some great ideas for school packed lunches for example.

However, seeing in black and white that your child is falling into the ‘underweight’ or ‘very overweight’ category does sow a seed of doubt and make you think…

For links to healthy meals we have made together, try our baked salmon with pak choi recipe or the salmon and ginger – both really easy and healthy.

Oh, and I’m on twitter.com/MoreKidsChaos too… Instagram is my new favourite thing, I also blog at aGreenerLifeforus.com, and Erm, and funnily enough on Facebook and Pinterest! Pop over to say hello x Like it? Pin it!

baking, cooking, cooking with kids

lemon drizzle cakeWhat’s your favourite cake in your house? Ours has to be lemon drizzle cake…

we’ve have the recipe scribbled down on a piece of paper, shoved in the cake section of Delia’s cookbook, for years… Quite fortunate it’s our favourite cake really, as we sort of OVER-ORDERED the lemons on our Ocado delivery on Friday, and ended up with 12 lemons, yes, TWELVE lemons… oops!

So we wanted to share the recipe with you, and tbh, it makes it easier to find if we write it up on KidsChaos, as we just google ourselves ‘ kids chaos lemon drizzle’… 🙂

Admittedly this recipe doesn’t use all twelve lemons, however we make two lemon drizzle cakes at the same time as it disappears pretty quickly here, and we like to have it in our packed lunches in the week, in place of shop-bought snack bars (so just half the quantities if you only have a 1 litre loaf tin)

Lemon Drizzle Cake Ingredients:

350g caster sugar
350g butter, softened
4 unwaxed lemons
6 eggs
200g self-raising flour
150g ground almonds
A drop or two of milk
200g demerara sugar

Lemon Drizzle Cake Instructions:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160C fan. Grease and line two loaf tins with greaseproof paper. Beat together the caster sugar, butter, and the finely grated zest of two lemons until light and fluffy. Add a pinch of salt and beat in the eggs, one at a time.

2. Sieve the flour and fold in, then add the ground almonds (not essential, particularly if anyone has a nut allergy!). Add a tiny amount of milk to ensure the mixture has a dropping consistency, then pour into your lined tins. Bake in the oven for about 50-55 minutes, until your knife pulls out dry when you test it. Leave it in the tin for now….

3. Mix together the lemon zest, and juice of the lemons with your demerara sugar, then prod holes all over the top of the lemon drizzle cakes and pour over the lemon drizzle, so that it runs into all of the little holes.
4. Allow the lemon drizzle cakes to cool in the loaf tins before turning out.

honeycomb with chocolate fondueFor more delicious #cookingwithkids fun try our honeycomb recipe golden syrup pictured here…

Oh, and I’m on twitter.com/MoreKidsChaos too… Instagram is my new favourite thing, Erm, and funnily enough on Facebook and Pinterest! Pop over to say hello x Like it? Pin it!

cooking with kids, food

honeycomb recipe with chocolate fondueYou’ve always wondered how to make honeycomb right?

So 9yo has searched out the crunchie honeycomb recipe for us, and he made this honeycomb last night after a week of nagging to buy Bicarbonate of Soda and Golden Syrup! (be careful, it gets super-hot)

Honeycomb recipe let’s go!…(start by lining a cake tin with some greaseproof paper)

Then, melt the Butter (80g) Caster Sugar (160g) and Golden Syrup (80g) in a pan over a low heat. When melted, whack the heat up and it’ll start bubbling like crazy. Shake the pan (don’t stir; just like James Bond’s favourite cocktail) and you’ll see it start to darken, as it bubbles away – sprinkle your Two Teaspoons of Bicarbonate of Soda over the bubbles, and whisk for about ten seconds, before pouring the honeycomb mixture very carefully into your prepared dish to set. Let it sit, don’t move it or the air will drop out (and it’ll go flat!).

Instagram screengrab of Tate and Lyle tins for honeycomb recipe

When it’s cool, pop it in the fridge to set. Take photos and post on instagram…for people to click the little heart and make you happy…

KidsChaos honeycomb recipe closeup

Meanwhile, melt some chocolate in a bowl with a splash of milk, 30 seconds in the microwave, and when the crunchie crunchy honecomb has set, bop it with a rolling pin, and dunk it in the melty melty chocolate dip…. nice 🙂

Your very own chocolate fondue…This could be a great playdate activity, always fun to include the children in your kitchen activities, and a bit of a science experiment too… How does the Bicarbonate of Soda Work? It’s an alkili which gives off carbon dioxide which expands the mixture.

(now brush your teeth)

Oh, and I’m on twitter.com/MoreKidsChaos too… Erm, and funnily enough on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest! Pop over to say hello x Like it? Pin it! I also write over on aGreenerLifeforus.com – you’ll find more delicious chocolate recipes there…

baking, cooking with kids, crafts, food, google+ hangouts

Valentine's Day Pie

So we have frozen plums and frozen pastry in our freezer = The Perfect Plum Pie recipe for Valentine’s Day!

We’ve been practicing for Valentine’s Day at our house this week… and reminiscing on last year’s Valentine’s Day cake, where we used a small heart-shaped cookie cutter, and some ready-roll-out icing to decorate Daddy’s cake – we came up with the perfect idea, ready-roll-out pastry, and a heart-shaped plum pie of course!

Hearts cut from the pastryHow to:

Using the frozen plums from late summer’s picking frenzy, we warmed them from frozen in a saucepan with a tablespoon of sugar, when the plums start to thaw, strain the juice into a cup (to use later as a sauce if you like), and pour the sugary plum mixture into the plum pie dish (we have a heart-shaped cake tin, perfect for many occasions!) Meanwhile lay the pastry over the plums, and crimp the edges, cut off excess with a sharp knife, and use that excess for your little hearts. to:

Valentine's Day Plum Pie recipe heartsBrush the pastry with a beaten egg, and add the little hearts in whatever pattern you like, the egg will help them stick to the pie, don’t forget to brush the hearts with the egg glaze too, and for extra sweetness you can sprinkle some course sugar over your plum pie. Bake for about half an hour, or in our case, until the plum pie crust starts burning!

If a Plum Pie recipe is not your thing, try our Cake in a Mug, click through to Ali’s other blog aGreenerLifeforus.com

redtedart-hangout-valentines-day For more Valentine’s Day inspiration, try my easy to make hand in heart cards, and FREE Printable jigsaw puzzle piece crafts Valentine’s greetings cards and check out our Google+ hangout hosted by Red Ted Art, featuring  Kelly from domesticgoddesque.com with her glitter heart cake toppers Lizzie with her  missielizzie-meandmyshadow.blogspot.co.uk rustic twig heart wreaths and her silver birch bark candle – amazing… Plus Anthea’s needle felt hearts and Maggy’s collection of Valentines Day craft ideas.

Oh, and I’m on twitter.com/MoreKidsChaos too… Erm, and funnily enough on Facebook and Pinterest! Pop over to say hello x Like it? Pin it!