Oaty biscuit recipe – perfect for packed lunches

Oaty biscuit recipe – perfect for packed lunches

PINCH, punch, the first of the month. It’s the 1st September and the girls go back to school next week so already I am full of good intentions about how this year is going to be different. There will be no lost shoes  – and definitely no lost tempers – in the morning and no frenzied searching for homework or last minute packed lunch making. Oh no. My new year resolutions start here. PINCH, punch, the first of the month. It’s the 1st September and the girls go back to school next week so already I am full of good intentions about how this year is going to be different. There will be no lost shoes  – and definitely no lost tempers – in the morning and no frenzied searching for homework or last minute packed lunch making. Oh no. My new year resolutions start here. So instead of watching Victoria on catch-up TV, last night was spent browsing lunch box ideas on Pinterest  and parenting blogs for tips about how to make the school run a pleasure, not a chore. I have already ordered two extra school ties and gym shirts (both items that inexplicably go walkabout at 8am) and copious, complicated Tupperware  boxes  to ensure the kids’ lunches stay fresh and vaguely food-shaped. After two terms of below average school dinners, where dishes some times ran out and was occasionally mouldy, we are back to packed lunches. Sigh. I have vlogged about taking the stress out of packed lunches before and the trick, for me, is menu planning. I am religious about it. For example, every Monday it is chicken goujons, Tuesday hummus, Wednesday a thermos full...
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...
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...
Bonfire bread (dampers)

Bonfire bread (dampers)

Have you got your pumpkins? Are they sitting on the side, slowly melting (like mine)? Or have you got busy with the scalpel and created your own personal work of art? I have indulged in some Halloween crackers and as Lucy mentioned here, we’re going to hers on the actual night, for a spot of Tiny Tears mutilation, the 6yo even has a calendar countdown he made in his bedroom which he crosses off each night (with a crucifix). So we’re all set for October 31st.  How about Bonfire night though, got any plans? I worry Bonfire night is being forgotten in a swamp of orange plastic, and that makes me sad. I want my children to indulge in the numb feet, frozen fingers and acrid burning smell of dynamite that coloured my youth. Admittedly I’m not sure anyone mourns the loss of the misshapen Guys which used to litter the high street, and the angular, pale youths who used to demand a penny for them.  But there’s something about fire in autumn that shouldn’t be missed. Last year we had a bonfire party at the allotment, and despite it not quite living up to my Pinterest-inspired ideals, I loved it. I discovered mulled amaretto, we burnt a chair, we saw fireworks from a distance – perfection. This year I’m not sure what we’re doing, but whatever it is, it’s going to include fire and these – dampers.  What are dampers, I hear you ask (I have supersonic hearing)? I had no idea until a friend told me about them. She feels that marshmallows aren’t quite enough bang for your buck – they...
Fish with a pesto crust

Fish with a pesto crust

This fast family friendly fish dish has earned itself in a place in the McDonald hall of culinary fame. My children both love it and it takes about 60 seconds for a very quick person to prepare. OK – about 2m really, I was just showing off. It can be made from stuff most of us have in our cupboards or freezer. The fish is a frozen fillet (I used cod. I always have a bag of cod fillets in the freezer. It is such a great way to buy fish – good value, fresh and they last for ages) and then you literally smear over a tbs pesto, a small handful of Parmesan and a larger handful of breadcrumbs, which you have already mixed in a bowl. Then pop the fillet on a lined baking sheet in an oven that has been pre-heated to 200c and roast until cooked all the way through – about 20m. I started cooking this because, bar fishfingers and prawns, my youngest wasn’t keen on fish, until a viewer on our YouTube channel (where we made a very short film about it) recommended this so thank...

Healthy snacks – roast chickpeas

So, we had our kitchen done. In fact it’s nearly a year since the whole nightmare began. And although I can’t say that I am yet really enjoying it (the stress and pain of a potentially dangerous water pump and boiler, electrics which can’t be signed off and some very expensive and badly sealed tiles are all giving me sleepless nights) there is one element that has been truly life-changing. And that’s the island. At the end of it are two stools, on which, more often than not, are my two little boys. Precariously leaning back, often burping (the youngest is genuinely impressive) and, refusing to eat whatever delicious nutritiousness I’ve served up. Mr McDonald and I tend to eat there too, rather than the dining table. It’s warm, cosy and intimate. It’s become the absolute hub of our world, whether it’s colouring in or chopping up carrots, it all takes place here. If the youngest is feeling really irritating it’s a good thing for him to hide around – if you are opposite him, on the other side of the island and he really doesn’t want his teeth brushed, it can be almost impossible to catch him. On the other end of the island is a small brass sink and a copper tap. Mainly it looks really, really cool. But it is also useful, especially if all three of us grown ups (me, Mr McDonald and Uncle Brend, who lives with us) are cooking in the kitchen. It’s where I have the biggest fruit bowl known to man (I think it may have been a cattle feeder, in...