baking, cooking with kids, food, gardening

It’s been a lovely colourful summer, people have been grumbling about the on-off weather, rainy, then sunny, then rainy again, but it’s meant we have a lot of green in the fields (and our back garden), picnics in the park (sometimes under umbrellas!) and the multi-coloured fruit in the hedgerows have been in abundance!

The joy of finding all of this free fruit has been a delight, it’s brought smiles to our faces and with the winter months approaching, and summer picnics a distant memory, we’re so glad our Ocean Spray cranberry cartons do much the same, adding colour through the refreshing taste and by delighting us throughout the year (the boys just love them in their school packed lunches now the Autumn term has started).
Meanwhile, we’ve really enjoyed foraging for the fresh (FREE) fruit and made copious crumbles, and cakes and we’ve frozen blackberries for morning smoothies in the winter (TOP TIPs: freeze loose on trays so that you can bag them as single loose frozen fruits, rather than a big frozen clump! We also add dried fruit to our smoothies, and have a jar FULL of Ocean Spray’s dried cranberries, they add a real tangy zing)BlackBerry Crumble KidsChaos

aller farm glampingWe’ve spent a lovely staycation weekend down in Devon too – we seem to have given up camping this year (although the tent WAS out earlier in the summer for a night under canvas with 10yo) As a family, we tried out a bit of glamping, and are totally converted – it’s the way forward, the kids loved picking the red apples in their orchard, chasing after the free range chickens, and feeding the black and white Friesian calves, and we loved waking up to such a fabulous view of the green fields, and the wispy white clouds and blue skies…aaahhhh.

So as we head towards the end of the summer holidays, we are still going for our evening stroll around our own neighbourhood and continue to be overwhelmed by the natural colours which will forevever amaze us – Planet Earth at her best….(can’t beat a good British Sunset can you?!)Sunset-KidsChaos

I’m working with BritMums and Ocean Spray highlighting the everyday moments of colour that give each of us a little lift, just like Ocean Spray adds colour to our day and delights us all year round. I have been compensated for my time. All editorial and opinions are my own.

cooking, cooking with kids, food, kids

Quick Pizza with White Beans, Garlic and Rosemary

Pizza stage 1 Bean-Garlic-Rosemary-KidsWe do like a quick pizza on a Friday, or a playdate night at our house!

When we make our pizza base mixture in the bread maker, we always make double quantity and freeze them in small balled portions…

Perfect – so this morning, I took four of these portions out of the freezer, popped some flour onto a plate and place each of the frozen balls onto the plate to defrost for the afternoon.

Both boys like a different pizza topping, this is 11yo’s as he’s not so keen on cheese and tomato (what?!) – you’ll see he’s moved the mozzarella into one slice size just for me!pizza with bean garlic rosemary

Ingredients (for two)

2 pizza bases (either buy them ready made, use flatbreads, or follow the instructions for the pizza setting on your breadmaker)
Slosh of olive oil
2 large garlic cloves
400ml water
2 tins of beans – we used chick peas, although very nice with cannellini beans
Couple of sprigs of rosemary
1 ball of mozzarella
Handful of olives and capers
Salt and pepper

Directions for this quick pizza

Heat oven to 240ºC.
Chop the garlic, and fry gently for about a minute in the olive oil, adding the white beans, and the water, turning up the heat and simmering. Pour the beans, garlic and water into a small blender and whizz up, leaving some beans (or chick peas in this case) partially whole. Add a little water, and stir, seasoning this puree with salt and pepper and spread.

Spread the puree over both pizza bases, chop up the olives in half, and sprinkle them with the capers over the pizzas (not too many, as they are both super salty).

Rip up the mozzarella and drop onto the pizza bases (not essential, tastes good without if you’re not fond of cheese!)

Drizzle over the olive oil, and scatter the torn rosemary and pop in the hot oven for 10 minutes. Enjoy your ‘quick pizza’… 🙂

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food, key stage 2, kids

British MuseumFamily friendly places to visit with kids – something I search for when we’re in London for the weekend – this weekend was no exception, so we made our way to the British Museum, to look at their amazing Egyptian collection, and the Rosetta Stone.

One of the most famous objects in the British Museum. The Rostta Stone is a broken piece of a bigger stone slab. And carved in different scripts and helped experts learn to read Egyptian hieroglyphs. Fabulous architecture both old and new and great for Key Stage Two kids! They have a brilliant online presence too, for those who are unable to visit.

forbidden planet

Our next stop was the Forbidden Planet on Shaftesbury Avenue. There is a bit of a comic book ‘thing’ going on in our house – and there really is something for everyone in this amazing store, certainly Family Friendly! and we didn’t leave empty handed – the boys were so excited and slightly overwhelmed by the stock, needless to say, Marvel comics did well out of us!

Child Friendly restaurant

pho restaurant colouring inOn the way home, we popped into Pho restaurant in Soho, 163-165 Wardour Street, and I’ll let the kids’ reviews and photos tell you more – needless to say, we were wowed from the off, with enticingly graphic colouring-in sheets, and the most delicious fresh juice combinations.

We fought over the summer rolls, and the pork balls, and squid starters, and we were amazed at how reasonably priced the Kids Menu is – with main courses from £2.70.

9yo Pho review


The Soho restaurant has a great atmosphere, and the decor is fab – we rather liked the faux fireplaces – which came into their own as the light started to fade outside – the staff were brilliant, and were really warm with the children, who enjoyed the attention, and having their own menus.

chilli at the Pho

11yo however did go for the hottest Cà-ri a Vietnamese curry packed with veggies & mushrooms, topped with nuts & served with fragrant broken rice – needless to say, he didn’t need any ADDITIONAL Chilli sauce, which he’d been previously eyeing!

The side order of Rau muống xào, stir fried morning glory (water spinach) in garlic, was delicious, and enjoyed by all four of us.

It certainly is a family friendly restaurant, so much so, the kids’ have hand written their own reviews here:

11yo review



For dessert, we were told that the Banh lá dứa pandan pancake, with roasted coconut, was fabulous, and it so WAS! Served with honey & ginger or coconut ice cream (we had both) – it was quite exquisite… And quite bonkers to have a green pancake!

phorestaurant review

The kids had sorbets whilst we enjoyed a traditional Vietnamese coffee, a Cà phê: which is entertaining in it’s own way too, served with condensed milk – and a little filter contraption – clearly very photogenic, as was the whole experience to be honest!

As 11yo quite rightly put it:

“I recommend Pho for everyone…..

All in all, Pho is a must-go!”

Ali also blogs over on 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


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 and is a new lover of Instagram too… pop over and say hello!

Homemade Thursday

Tasty Tuesdays on

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 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 – 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

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 with her glitter heart cake toppers Lizzie with her 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 too… Erm, and funnily enough on Facebook and Pinterest! Pop over to say hello x Like it? Pin it!

education, food

KidsChaos-Calennig-AppleWhen my sister moved to Swansea a few years ago, she discovered some intriguing folklore we’d not heard of before – Calennig.

So Calennig is the tradition of New Year gift-giving – Giving these little apple delights pictured, to friends and neighbours will bring them good luck!

My boys, aged 11 and 9 are intrigued by this tradition and we are duly planning to visit our neighbours with apples punched with cloves, and ever-green leaves, and three little stick tripod legs – they are strangely delighted by this, and are dying to add some googly eyes (this idea has horrified several Welsh people!)


Another fun tradition is the Spanish Las doce uvas de la suerte, or “The twelve grapes of luck” – where a grape is eaten by the New Year’s Eve party goers on every chime at midnight, that’s 12 grapes, stuffed into one’s mouth, so much hilarity and spluttering of grape juice is had! The boys can’t wait to try this one this year, so for the adults we’re going to freeze the grapes for three hours, and serve them with dark chocolate (Divine being my chocolate of choice) and some Grappa, and for the kids, the smallest seedless grapes we can find for safety!!

For more top tips for New Year’s Eve ideas, from Maggy, Anthea and Kellycheck out the round up over on and for a bit of fun, watch us in a google+ hangout where we showcase LOADS of ideas on your screen here.

Oh, by the way, I’m also on twitter/MoreKidsChaos too… Erm, funnily enough on Google+Facebook and Pinterest! Pop over say hello x LIKE IT? Pin it!

Ali also writes over on

cooking, food, google+ hangouts, kids, life

Chaos writes:

I seem to spend my whole time impressing other people’s children with my culinary skills…. little do they know! Tonight’s a case in point, 10yo has a playdate. Playdate says: “mmm, delicious pizza, is this HOME-MADE?!”

“Yes” I answer, “of course it is!”
“Wow, it’s the most delicious pizza I have ever had. My mummy is so lazy, she BUYS ours”. (apologies to all mums and dads who BUY their pizzas, seriously, I do that too….)

So, this is basically the easiest thing, bung all of the ingredients (300g flour, a tsp of dried yeast, tbsp sugar, 30g butter, 2tbsp milk powder, 1 tsp salt, 420ml water) into the breadmaker at 3pm, go on the school run, come back from school run, break the pizza dough into six pieces, shape into balls.

Make three pizza (I have proper pizza bases, nice and thin and crispy) couple of spoons of pasta sauce, rip up mozzarella ball, grated cheese, couple of olives if you’ve got them….

Freeze the extra three dough shapes, and use them in about a fortnight! (kids get bored of having pizza TOO often believe it or not…)

job done. Nigella, beat that. 🙂

britmums hangout vegetarian

2014 UPDATE for this recipe…. temporary glitch with the breadmaker (it started spewing out black smoke!) so we’ve been experimenting with using flatbreads and wraps as makeshift pizza bases – and these are SUCH a winner – spoon a couple of tomato pasta sauce, mozzarella, a few slices of mushrooms and some grated cheese, and pop in a hot oven for about seven minutes – sprinkle over a handful of rocket, and TOTAL WIN!

I joined Britmums to talk about vegetarian meals, both simple and fancy – click to watch the google+ hangout above.

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

This post is part of the #FaveFamilyRecipes Competition with BritMums and Tilda Rice. Every pack sold will provide a meal to an expectant mum in need in support of the World Food Programme’s Mothers Helping Mothers initiative in Bangladesh