Archive for the ‘Cooking for Izzy’ Category

I Love Sunday

What is there not to love about Sunday, especially when nothing is planned and you have the whole day stretched out before you. It’s even better when Izzy sleeps a little longer than her usual 6am  – last week it was 8.30 – awesome!

James & Izzy headed out for a swim and Mummy got a lie in – bliss! A lovely peaceful morning. I started off flicking through my new Jamie Magazine which only arrived yesterday. I really enjoyed Jamie’s America and this edition of the mag follows on from that. There is a really interesting article that goes behind the scenes of the Wild West episode – I didn’t realise quite what goes into making a series like this!

So I made it to page 38 (of 138) and then found the Banana & Coconut Breakfast Muffins – straight down to the kitchen to get these in the oven ready for James and Izzy’s return!  Super easy and really really good – perfect Sunday morning muffins!!! Another triumph for Jamie!!

Banana & Coconut Breakfast Muffins (courtesy of Jamie Oliver – Jamie Magazine, Issue 6)


100g melted butter

250g self raising flour

1 level tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

100g honey

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 large ripe bananas, chopped

2 large eggs

150g plain yoghurt

4 heaped Tbsp desiccated coconut

Vegetable oil for greasing

Preheat the oven to 190C. Bung the ingredients into a food processor with a pinch of salt and pulse for the minimum amount of time it takes to get a paste. Don’t over mix it or the muffins won’t be light.

If using paper cases, put those into your muffin tin, if not grease the tin with a little oil and spoon in the mixture. If you want, you can top them with a slice of banana, a raspberry or a sprinkle of desiccated coconut.


Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until lovely and golden. Check that the muffins come away from the side of the tin when touched, Let them cool for 10 minutes before scoffing.


These are definitely going to be a more regular feature in our household. Izzy also took a couple over to our lovely neighbour, Sam.


The rest of the day was about left overs and using up what was in the house already. Izzy enjoyed the last of the Celeriac Soup and finished the lot without too much coaxing and then headed off for an afternoon nap (2 days in a row and no grumbles going down – yay!). There was a little bit of bribery of watching Annie and Daddy making popcorn when she woke up – it worked.

Looking in the vege bin we had a build up of odds and ends again and that calls for another batch of Pasta e fagoli. This time made with celeriac, pumpkin (surprise, surprise!), a baby turnip, a few new potatoes, mushrooms, celery, corn and asparagus. Yum yum!!

We still had an abundance of apples left from last week (despite my best intentions of making apple butter) and so James whipped up an apple crumble (no – we do not make desserts every day, or even every week!) and juiced the remaining apples. The crumble was delicious – great way to finish the weekend!

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So you might know by now that I love Pumpkin’s! So as much as I hate the decline into winter and the darker mornings (I’m not a morning person at the best of times!) I can look forward to the pumpkin crop!

So after our trip to Hewitts and a chilly Sunday it was the perfect time for the first batch of pumpkin soup….

Pumpkin Soup (courtesy of New Covent Garden Soup Company’s – Book of Soups)


250g butter

1 medium onion, finely chopped

200g potatoes, peeled and chopped

900g pumpkin, diced

250g carrots, diced

1.2 litres vegetable stock (no vegetarians in this house so I used chicken stock)

150ml milk

demerara sugar to taste

finely grated nutmeg to taste

salt & freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butte and cook the onion gently for 5 minutes in a covered saucepan, without colouring. Add the potato, 700g of the pumpkin (I chucked it all in!), the carrots and the stock. Cover, bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 20 mins until the vegetables are tender. Cool a little, then puree in a liquidiser. Return to a clean saucepan and stir in the milk.

Meanwhile, add the remaining pumpkin to a saucepan of boiling salted water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and add to the pureed soup. Add the sugar, nutmeg and seasoning to taste. Reheat gently. (This is the part that I skipped).

The most effective way to serve way to serve the pumpkin is in a hollowed out pumpkin. Take a pumpkin and slice off the top quarter. Scoop out the seeds. Place slices of toasted baguette in the base together with grated Gruyere cheese. Fill with the soup, put n the lid and serve at the table. (I haven’t done this but I think this might be cool for Halloween night!).


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Tonight Izzy was lucky enough to have her 2 best buddies come over and join her for dinner. The 2 Isobel’s (aka Mackie & Wrighty) and Easton have been friends since birth and it is such a joy to watch them grow and interact together. Izzy is always so excited to see them both and there are cuddles and kisses all around. Check out this photo and you can see for yourself! Have you seen 3 cuter kids?!?

The 3 Musketeers - love, love, love them!!

The 3 Musketeers - love, love, love them!!

For dinner Meredith and I quickly put together Parmesan Chicken Goujons with mashed sweet potato and peas. This went down a treat and I stood at the bench tucking into the left over chicken dipped into tomato sauce. Scrummy!

Parmesan Chicken Goujons (courtesy of Rachel Allen – Rachel’s Favourite Food at Home)


600g boneless & skinless chicken

50g plain flour

Salt & pepper

2 eggs, beaten

100g breadcrumbs

50g parmesan cheese, finely grated

You can either cook on the hob or in the oven – I went for the oven.

Preheat oven to 200C.

Cut the chicken into goujons the size of a big finger. Place the flour in a mixing bowl or in a plastic bag with some salt & pepper. Place the beaten eggs in another bowl.  Mix the breadcrumbs and finely grated cheese together and place in a bowl or bag as well.

Toss the goujons in the seasoned flour, making sure they do not stick together, then remove. Shake off the excess flour and dip them in the beaten egg. Remove from the egg, letting the excess drip off, and toss into the breadcrumb and cheese mix. Shake off the excess and lay the goujons n a plate.

Drizzle the base of a preheated baking tray with oil (I didn’t use any oil at all) and lay the floured and seasoned goujons in a single layer. Bake in the oven for 12-18 minutes, turning the goujons over halfway through (forgot to do this!), or when golden on one side. When they are completely cooked , remove from the oven and serve.

A success I think!

A success I think!

This is such an easy recipe. I remember my Mum crumbing fish in the same way and once you have done it once you don’t need a recipe at all! It’s so quick – it takes minutes and has to be better for them than frozen chicken nuggets. Well, I hope so! Finished off with juicy slices of watermelon…..

Good girl Mackie!!

Good girl Mackie!!

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So, it’s Monday again. James is in South Africa for a few days (business not pleasure) and Izzy & I are back into the weekly grind. Izzy slept for an extra hour last night, which is almost unheard of for her so she must have been completely pooped after all the weekend shenanigans.

When we were at the farm I raided the farm shop in lieu of a supermarket shop on Sunday afternoon. Such amazing meats, cheese & produce. I bought some sausages for our Monday night dinner – Pork, Apple, Apricot & Ginger – yum, yum, yum!!! I like buying locally produced goods and I am pretty fussy about sausages – you can definitely tell a good sausage from a bad one! Bad ones are greasy & tasteless! These sausages came from a family farm in Suffolk – Lane Farm.

It was quite a quick dinner tonight and I put some sweet potatoes (also from the farm shop) onto boil and some sausages under the grill. Then a quick mash and some peas and we are done. Perfect for mid week! Izzy enjoyed it which was lucky as she ended up with the leftovers for Tuesday night dinner! The sausages were absolutely delicious!


Izzy's cheesy camera smile

Izzy's cheesy camera smile

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Not too much happening here tonight. I had an afternoon at the races (came out pretty even so all good!) and so James & Izzy had to fend for themselves – no problem there.

However I did decide to make up some very quick and super easy Apricot & White Chocolate cereal bars from an Annabel Karmel magazine. I am not a purist when it comes to children’s food. I don’t want to make anything forbidden but I do want to encourage moderation (need to lead by example I think so will have to work on that). Plus if Izzy is going to eat something that perhaps is not so healthy I prefer to know I have made it myself then I know exactly what’s in it even if it is a mountain of butter!!

These cereal bars can be whipped up in 10 mins flat and just popped in the fridge.

Here’s the recipe………

Apricot & White Chocolate Cereal Bars (Annabel Karmel)


150g rolled oats

50g rice krispies

50g dried apricots, chopped

50g pecans, chopped

100g unsalted butter

85g golden syrup

75g white chocolate, broken into pieces

pinch of salt

Combine the oats, rice krispies, chopped apricots and pecans in a mixing bowl. Put the butter, golden syrup, white chocolate and a pinch of salt in a large saucepan and heat gently, stirring occasionally until melted together. Stir the oat and rice krispie mixture into the melted chocolate mixture until well coated.


Press the mixture into a shallow 28 x 18cm tin lined with parchment baking paper, using a potato masher to level the surface. Place in the fridge to set. Cut into bars using a sharp knife and store in the fridge.


James has already taste tested and given them the thumbs up!

Was just talking to Meredith too and we were chatting about making ice blocks or ice creams for the kids and she suggested pineapple and coconut milk blended together and then frozen. I just happen to have some left over pineapple in the fridge and coconut milk in the cupboard so I am off to try it out!

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We very rarely buy steak and so when I did this week I decided to go for the good stuff and buy fillets. To accompany this I chose new potatoes, buttered spinach and salsa verde.

I referred to Jamie for buttered spinach but not surprisingly (given the name) it contained a bit much butter for us. I would definitely make it again but only with a small knob of butter. I left James to cook the steak, that is always his job (so I cannot comment on the actual cooking process) and he came up trumps!

To accompany I went back to Jamie’s first book ‘The Naked Chef’ and dug out the recipe for Salsa verde. Meredith makes a great salsa verde with steak and now nothing else is an option! I do not like cream sauces at all and salsa verde is such a contrast to this as is vibrant, tangy & fresh. It is supposed to be hand chopped finely but to be honest I just do not have the time for that sort of malarkey (as my knife skills are pretty poor!) and so into the Magimix it all went. I only had a run of the mill olive oil to hand too and I think a good quality one would have made a difference. It came out tasty but doesn’t match up to Mer’s! Because I had chucked it into the Magimix it came out more of a pesto texture and the balance was not quite right as it was also a bit vinegary (I realise that is not a word but you know what I mean!). I think it needs some further practice.


Salsa Verde (courtesy of Jamie Oliver, The Naked Chef)


1 1/2 – 2 cloves of garlic

1 small handful of capers

1 small handful of pickled gherkins (the ones in sweet vinegar)

6 anchovy fillets

2 large handfuls of fresh flat leaf parsley, picked

1 bunch of fresh basil, picked

1 handful of fresh pint, picked

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Approx 8 tablespoons your best olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Finely chop all the ingredients (preferably by hand unless you aiming for the pesto texture!!). Put this mixture into a bowl and add the mustard and red wine vinegar. Slowly stir in the olive oil until you achieve the consistency you are looking for, and balance the flavours with freshly ground black pepper, and if necessary, sea salt and red wine vinegar.

We ended up having to bribe Izzy with jelly to get her to even try the spinach and salsa verde. The good news is that she surprised herself and ended up having a couple of mouthfuls of spinach. She was not taken with the S.V but is probably too strong for her taste buds yet.

The jelly went down a treat and was gobbled up at lightning speed!


Overall I found that this created a bit too many pots and pans for a week night and we ended up running late for bath and bed which meant a few tears from an over tired Izzy.

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I am a big fan of Jamie Oliver, get past all the ‘pukka’ and the media image and you have someone who loves food and knows how to get us excited about producing healthy and delicious meals. I have all his cook books and refer to them all the time for family meals & dinner parties as well as breads, pasta and pizza dough.

Lately I have been regularly referring to ‘Jamie’s Ministry of Food’ as there are some great quick recipes which are perfect for mid week meals.  Tonight I made the ‘Spicy Moroccan Stewed Fish with Couscous’. It is the second time I have made it and seriously, it just could not be easier. I left out the chilli and just added a wee bit of mild chilli powder as I didn’t want to lose the taste but needed to keep the heat down for Izzy. It was a success for James & I and a semi success for Izzy – she ate quite a bit but without her usual gusto. The recipe says serves 2 but it was enough for James, Izzy and I and there is still a portion leftover.

The recipe is as follows:-

Spicy Moroccan Stewed Fish with Couscous (courtesy of Jamie Oliver ‘Ministry of Food’)


150g couscous

olive oil

2 lemons

sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

2 cloves of garlic

1 fresh red chilli

a bunch of basil

1 teaspoon of whole cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 x 150g white fish fillets, skin off and bones removed

200g king prawns, raw & peeled (I used ready cooked)

1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

2 handfuls of fresh & frozen peas, broad beans or green beans (or use a mixture)

Put the couscous into a bowl and add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Halve the lemons and squeeze in the juice from two of the halves. Add a pinch of salt & pepper. Pour in just enough boiling water to cover the couscous, then cover the bowl with a plate or clingfilm. Let the couscous soak up the water for 10 minutes.

Get a large saucepan on a medium heat. Peel & finely slice garlic. Finely slice your chilli. Pick the bail leaves off the stalks. Put the smaller ones to one side and roughly chop the larger ones. Add a couple of lugs of olive oil to the hot pan. Add the garlic, chilli, basil, cumin seeds and cinnamon. Give it all a stir and put the fish fillets on top. Scatter over the prawns. Add the tinned tomatoes and the peas and beans. Squeeze in the juice from the two remaining lemon halves. Put a lid on the pan. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for about 8 minutes, or unti the fish is cooked through, and flakes easily. Taste, and season with salt & pepper.

By the time the fish is cooked, the couscous should have sucked up all the water and be ready to serve. Spoon the couscous into a large serving bowl and give it a stir with a fork to help it fluff up. Top with the fish, vegetables and juices from the pan, sprinkle with the reserved basil leaves and tuck in!

Couscous topped with.......

Couscous topped with.......

.....spicy Moroccan stewed fish.

.....spicy Moroccan stewed fish.

I have also put some jelly in the fridge to set for Izzy. I have done these a few times and most of the time they have been a success. Just once they refused to set. I didn’t have quite enough gelatine so reduced the liquid as well. It is so easy and has to better than jelly packets!

Home-Made Fruit Jelly (courtesy of Annabel Karmel, New Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner)


600ml cranberry & raspberry juice (or any other raspberry juice)

4 sheets of gelatine

2 Tbsp caster sugar

125g fresh raspberries

Place half of the juice in a small saucepan and heat until just at boiling point. Remove from the heat and stir in the gelatine and caster sugar until dissolved. If not completely dissolved, stir over a low heat but do not boil. Pour this into the remaining cold juice and then pour into a serving dish and stir in the raspberries. Refrigerate until set.


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Izzy & I were up at the crack of dawn this morning and so I decided on pancakes for breakfast as Izzy had asked for them yesterday. Odd as I have made them a couple of times and she has not been that fussed. I have tried a couple of recipes and they turned out fine but nothing special. Today I opted for ‘Happy Days with the Naked Chef’ – when in doubt, turn to Jamie.

At first I thought I had missed something as seemed unusual to fold in the egg white to a pancake mixture and instead of pouring the mixture onto the griddle it was dolloped on. But, they turned out delicious – really light and fluffy and Izzy scoffed 2. I made some apple puree to go with them but she was not fussed on that at all. Instead for the first time she took to maple syrup.

I also whipped up some lemon cupcakes to take to Seb’s for a play date today. I am addicted to the ‘Hummingbird Bakery’ book – it is amazing and has without a doubt produced the best cupcakes to date! I am aiming to make all the different cupcake recipes in there over the next few months.  Need to bake Blueberry muffins today too as promised I would take some into work. Bought the giant muffin tray yesterday so will make them super sized American style.

Need to head off to Sainsbury’s to do the groceries as need the ingredients before I can ice the cupcakes. One thing I really hate about cooking is writing the shopping lists and going through the cupboard trying to figure out what we have or don’t have. Gggrrr…….

The Recipe for today then…..

Pancakes (courtesy of Jamie Oliver ‘Happy Days with the Naked Chef’)


3 large eggs

115g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

140ml milk

Pinch of salt

Separate the eggs, putting the whites into one bowl and the yolks into another. Add the flour, baking powder and milk to the yolks and mix to a smooth thick batter. Whisk the whites with the salt until they form stiff peaks. Fold into the batter – it is now ready to use.

Heat a good non-stick pan on a medium heat. Pour some of your batter into the pan and fry for a couple of minutes until it starts to look golden and firm. Continue frying until both sides are golden. If you want to add a topping on the uncooked side before flipping it over or sprinkle over at the end.

So I am going to sign off and leave you with a pic of Izzy enjoying her pancakes – yum!!


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Izzy & Easton :-)

Izzy & Easton 🙂

Well, tonight I have been looking after Izzy and the gorgeous Easton! So its Saturday night and a little chilly for summer so something warm and comforting is in order. After flicking through Tana Ramsay’s ‘Family Kitchen’ I decided on Macaroni Cheese with tomato and crispy bacon. Not the most nutritious but hey it’s Saturday and nothing makes Izzy happier than cheese, meat & pasta!

We also found the last couple of peas from the garden and Izzy delighted in taking them out of the pods and eating them fresh!

Peas from Daddy's garden - yummy!

Peas from Daddy's garden - yummy!

Izzy started off helping me and then took to weighing everything on the scales! I only had to turn my back for a moment and she was sneaking cheese off the bench. She gave herself away when she stated with such enthusiasm ‘DELICIOUS!’

Only one slip up in the preparation and that was not turning the grill on full and so only grilling half at a time – annoying!

So, the verdict? Well I thought it was pretty tasty and it seemed to get the thumbs up from Izzy & Easton too. There was 1/2 teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper in the recipe but in the future I would probably halve that when making for young un’s. It had a nice kick but probably just slightly too much for Izzy who complained of a sore tongue – oops!. Easton was fine – must be his Jamaican blood!

The only other thing I would change is to add cooked diced bacon to the mixture rather than laying the streaky bacon on top – neither of the kids were fussed on this.

The cheeky cheese thief!

The cheeky cheese thief!

Macaroni cheese with tomato and crispy bacon (courtesy of Tana Ramsay ‘Family Kitchen’)


25g butter

25g flour

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

285ml whole milk

300g macaroni

400g tin chopped tomatoes, drained

250g grated medium cheddar

200g unsmoked streaky bacon, cut into strips

1. Preheat grill to hot.

2. Put  a pan of water onto boil.

3. Start making a basic white sauce. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and add the flour. Stir it around and let it form a paste. As the paste starts to look as if it’s drying (but has not yet browned), add the cayenne pepper and stir for another minute. Gradually add the milk while beating with a small whisk all the time. Bring to the boil, stirring all the time, and allow to simmer for a couple of minutes. The sauce should easily coat the back of a wooden spoon.

4. When the pasta water has come to the boil add the macaroni and cook for about 2 minutes less than the instructions on the packet. Drain in a sieve and put to one side until needed,

5. When your white sauce has simmered for a couple of minutes, add the drained tomatoes. Remove the sauce from the heat and and put to one side for about a minute before adding 150g of the grated cheddar. Finally add the drained macaroni and mix together.

6. Pour the macaroni mixture into the ovenproof dish and cover with the pieces of bacon. Finally sprinkle over the remaining cheese.

7. Place under the grill for about 10 minutes until the bacon has turned crispy and slightly burnt at the edges.

8. Serve with a crisp green salad (I opted for green peas as I have not managed to convince Izzy on salad yet!)

Serves – 4 children


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