Meals in 5 minutes – banana ice cream

Meals in 5 minutes – banana ice cream

When we started this blog (five years ago!) it was with one aim in mind. To discover fast recipes which were delicious, healthy and easy. If there is one recipe which typifies this remit it is this banana ice cream recipe. Is something with one ingredient a recipe? I’m not sure. What I do know is that it’s amazing. My kids love it. They actually think I am some kind of witch, able to create loveliness out of almost nothing. Intrigued? You should be. This is so nice you could serve it at a dinner party, maybe alongside a salted caramel brownie. I recommend watching the video (which is also an introduction to our new Five Minute Menu series) to see how easy it is. But for a description… One ingredient banana ice cream Serves: 2 2 bananas If like me you generally have a stash of half eaten bananas in the freezer, leftover from breakfast etc, you can just use them. To give your food processor (or blender) an easier ride, peel them and slice them into 1cm wide coins before freezing in a freezer bag. Freeze for an hour or more. Place in food processor and whizz until creamy. That’s it. Really. If you want to get fancy pants, add Nutella, cocoa powder or peanut butter. But really, it doesn’t need it. Because the magic of this recipe is that unlike most foods, banana gets more flavoursome, more banana-y once frozen. Serve in cone or dollop in a bowl. Either way your kids will love you a little bit...
Sophia’s DIY edible slime recipe – great children’s activity

Sophia’s DIY edible slime recipe – great children’s activity

My seven year old is obsessed with slime. I mean obsessed. She wakes up talking about it, goes to bed thinking about it and all her pocket money goes not on toys, apps or sweets but slime-making ingredients. I am not sure why she loves it so much but YouTube has been the portal – it is awash with slime videos. Slime is as it sounds. Unctuous potions made out of household goods – mostly the non-toxic stuff you find in the bathroom or kitchen cupboard. For Christmas Sophia asked for borax (as any one who watches YouTube slime videos will know this US detergent gives slime a good consistency. It is a fine white powder and I was slightly worried what UK customs would think after importing a kilo from the US vie eBay), 10 bottles of clear glue, a hotchpotch of shampoos, shower gels, some liquid starch, a bottle of vegetable oil, gel food colouring plus various vessels to make slime in.  As hobbies go, it is undeniably better than watching Nickelodeon all day and if I was doing slime’s PR, I would label it science of sorts. Scales are used, measurements adjusted and Sophia experiments with consistency, malleability (her word not mine – see YouTube can be educational!) and colour until I insist she puts it away and does something less messy instead.  There is a march of slimy thumb prints all over the house meaning I had to impose some rules…. only two pots on the go at any time, all slime-making to be done on trays and at the kitchen table. Otherwise I find little pots in various states of decay in her...
Valentine’s day dinner for the whole family

Valentine’s day dinner for the whole family

Valentine’s Day doesn’t feature largely in my life in the romantic sense since I’ve properly become a grown-up – by which I mean I have a 10y0 (A 7yo old too – but saying that doesn’t make me feel quite so old!), a never-diminishing mortgage, bags under my eyes and hair sprouting in peculiar places (feeling romantic yet?). As a teenager, a bunch of roses and a fancy steak dinner was validation to all that my relationship was not just puppy love, but the real thing and I placed more importance on it than birthdays. Which were EXTREMELY important. These days it is more about the children (frankly what isn’t?) and every year we have some kind of heart-themed play date around the 14th, a family meal and the exchanging of cards. This year along with the pink marshmallow flower bouquet and red-iced heart shaped cookies, we will be sitting down to this Valentine Day feast. OK – it is not steak and chips and chocolate fondue, but it is family friendly (well bar the parsley) and romantic in a less-hit-you-over-the-head-with-a-bunch-of-garage-flowers way than many traditional Valentine Day meals. Chicken pieces poached in wine (the alcohol burns off so the children can eat it) and garlic and served with a big plate of Persian jeweled rice is to me the perfect romantic meal for four. Exotic, yet everyday and easy to prepare. Leaving you time to put Barry White on the record player, get the heart-shaped sequins out and get stuck in to some Valentine’s Day crafts.  Pomegranate seeds add not only colour and intrigue (jewel-like they glisten in the rice) but represent fertility...
Your crash guide to Christmas

Your crash guide to Christmas

Christmas is coming and in the five years since Claire and I started this blog we have learned a lot not just about Christmas but life, the universe and everything. Here is some of it, in handy-sized bullet points because at this time of year our brains can’t cope with anything but lists. Food and drink Make your gravy in advance – it is one of the most important and stressful bits about Christmas dinner as it is all done at the last minute, so making it a few days ahead takes the pressure off. There is an easy recipe here but leave out the star anise people. It is too much!  If that is too much faff, M&S turkey gravy is supposed to be the best shop-bought on offer. Likewise make your red cabbage in advance. It freezes really well. We made our own Clementine vodka this year as presents for friends, but it is also extremely delicious to have neat straight from the freezer. In a glass of course. It takes 10m to make, 3 days to steep and about 3 seconds to down. There is still plenty of time to make some before the 25th. What’s stopping you?  This very simple fruit loaf lasts for days, is easier to make than a normal Christmas cake and is very good with cheese.  Hate to boast but although these reindeer fairy cakes are everywhere this year, we first made them 4 years ago. Still as sweet now as they were then. For the best roast parsnip recipe click here For two great Brussels sprout recipes, click here. I love this lower fat mince pie – made with shop-bought filo pastry...
Snowman – in a jar!

Snowman – in a jar!

Your first response could well be ‘Why?’ and I wouldn’t judge you for it. Why imprison a snowman in a glass jar (and that’s after you’ve impaled him on a cocktail stick)? The answer is: because it’s Christmas. That’s the reason we do all sorts of ridiculous things. I have spent more time than is healthy down the sweets aisle of the supermarket in the quest to make this, and typically that’s somewhere I never go. But the kids saw this on Pinterest here (the 6 year old boy frequently sighs ‘I love Pinterest’) and were smitten. It’s super-easy to make, quite a lot of fun, especially if you start to give your snowmen facial expressions. Watch our video to see the travesty that Lucy created, in the name of snow woman. The idea is that the snow on the base is actually cocoa so you just pour hot milk into the jar, give it a stir/shake and dip the marshmallow snowman in, for a deluxe novelty hot chocolate. I could suggest you make this for friends’ kids  as presents but the reality is that they are not very transportable, as the cocoa flies about. It’s more a fun Christmas activity in the same vein as our marzipan fruit here.  Here are the instructions: Snowman in a jar! Makes: 1 2 tsp cocoa powder 3 white marshmallows 1 cocktail stick black writing icing 1 large chocolate button 1 Rolo 1 red bootlace  1 jar Put the cocoa in the jam jar. Impale three marshmallows on the cocktail stick. Don’t go through the final marshmallow as that needs to be a...
Why I ♥ chopped onions

Why I ♥ chopped onions

I have blogged about these before but just in case you missed it, let me tell you how much I love ready-chopped onions. They are sold in the fruit and veg chiller cabinets of most supermarkets and just make life that bit easier. If you fancy making a bolognaise or a soup but peeling an onion, dicing it and wiping down a chopping board are standing in your way, then these are your answer. Cue eye-roll from some of you, but when you are busy with a million things racing through your brain – packed lunches to make, school uniform to wash, emails to answer – anything that makes cooking easy but doesn’t compromise on taste has to be good. I honestly cannot tell the difference to the final dish when I cook with these (but obviously I wouldn’t use them in a salad or when fresh, raw onions were needed) and it just makes life simpler and mascara less runny. They are not expensive either £1.50 per 750g from Sainsburys and the like. If you want to go one step further, you can even buy onions ready chopped and ready cooked and in a tin from most supermarkets. Before you fall on the floor, slow-cooked in olive oil, Eazy Onions are loved by both Delia and Nigella, so more than good enough for me. So there you have it. Chopped onions, if you’re still buying yours whole, ask yourself...