All posts by Sarah C

Daisy’s Breakfast Greek Salad

So in the name of fairness (after showing Ollie’s porridge yesterday), I thought I’d better show Daisy’s standard breakfast, which is a little unusual. Every morning she asks for a Greek salad. I don’t know where this has come from. We are not Greek & have never been there on holiday with them, but I can hardly complain. It’s a bit of a faff & sometimes I beg her to have a piece of toast like any other child, BUT at the end of the day she’s voluntarily asking for vegetables so it’s hard to say no. 

This is how she likes it: 

INGREDIENTS (serves 1)

4 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

Cucumber, 5cm section with skin cut off then chopped

5 green olives, cut in half 

Feta cheese, cut into 5 small cubes

Olive oil,  to drizzle on top

Balsamic vinegar, to drizzle ( optional)

Put all the ingredients in a bowl with a little olive oil on top. Voila! 

In Daisy’s case, she likes her breakfast with a cup of milky Earl Grey tea & a straw. The jazzier the better. At the moment they are both drinking out of cocktail straws which I bought from Tiger: 

Today Daisy went to school as Pippi Longstocking for School Book Day. My achievement of the day is getting her plaits to stick up thanks to some clever use of gardening wire (thanks, Beccy!): 

Happy Friday! 

Apricot & Almond Porridge

This is mine & Ollie’s standard winter breakfast. I make it gluten & dairy free but you can use normal milk & oats.

Ingredients (serves 2) 

  • 80g (gluten free) oats
  • 300ml water/coconut milk/normal milk
  • 8 dried apricots chopped up
  • Half a tsp of cinnamon
  • 20g flaked almonds
  • Honey for drizzling on top
  • 2tbsp Milled linseeds (optional)

Method

1. Place the oats and milk or water in a  saucepan over a medium heat. 

2. Add a tiny pinch of salt, plus the apricots & cinnamon and stir with a wooden spoon. 

3. Bring to a steady simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often if you want a smooth porridge. I prefer the oats to keep their shape so I don’t over stir. If you like your porridge runnier, add more milk.

4. Serve in a bowl with flaked almonds sprinkled on top & a drizzle of honey. 

5. For a bit of a health kick I add a spoonful of milled linseeds sprinkled on top. Great for a sluggish digestive system. Linseeds can be expensive but I found some in Aldi (not the first time I’ve mentioned this shop!) & they are mixed with sunflower seeds & goji berries. At £1.99 they are a complete bargain & as good as any I’ve bought at three times the price: 



There should be a picture of my bowl of porridge this morning, but as I ate it standing up while desperately urging (ie: shouting) at the kids to put their coats on, there really wasn’t time! 

It is very rare that I actually get breakfast eaten before I leave for the school run. How other parents do it amazes me. What usually happens is that Ollie & I walk slowly home together after the mad dash, & I make us a pot of Lady Grey tea (he doesn’t get much say in this), and a pan of porridge. Much more relaxing doing it this way than eating on the hoof before we’ve left the house, although after school Ollie is usually cracking the whip on what is to be our next Lego challenge. No rest for the wicked. 

Banana Cake

Today is Daisy’s half birthday. Seven and a half exactly. Somehow she’s worked it so that we celebrate it every year! The only person in the family to get this special treatment. Last year she even told her teacher who mis-heard & thought it was her actual birthday, so she spent the day wearing the class birthday hat & was sung to in assembly.  Really the half-birthday rule is that you get a nice cake for tea & that’s about it. Quite a nice thing for a cold January day. 

This year Ollie & I decided to make a banana cake on account of the bunch of bananas going over-ripe in the fruit bowl. We used this recipe of Jamie Oliver’s which uses no sugar, but a bit of honey. As we’d run out of honey I gave Agave a go. It’s a light syrup from the agave plant which apparently is healthier than sugar because it’s low GI. It tasted fine so I’ll use it again. 

Ingredients

  • olive oil

  • 250 g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting

  • 3 ripe bananas

  • 2 tablespoons fresh apple juice

  • 125 g unsalted butter

  • 2 large free-range eggs

  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 2 tablespoons runny honey

  • Optional:

  • 50 g pecans (I used walnuts)


    Method


    1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. 

    2. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 1-litre loaf tin with olive oil. 

    3. Dust the sides of the tin lightly with flour, then tap to get rid of any excess. 

    4. Peel and add the bananas to a mixing bowl. 

    5. Using a fork, mash the bananas so you’ve got a mixture of smooth and chunky, then put aside. 

    6. Add the apple juice and stir to combine. 


    7. In a separate bowl, beat the butter with a wooden spoon until creamy. 

    8. Crack in the eggs one at a time, beating each one in well before adding the next. 

    9. Fold in the flour, cinnamon, honey and banana mixture, taking care not to over mix. 

    10. Roughly chop the pecans on a chopping board, if using, then fold through the mixture. 

    11. Spoon into the loaf tin, then bake in the hot oven for around 40 minutes, or until golden and cooked. 


    My experience: the cake went brown on the outside some time before it was cooked on the inside even though I’d put it in at 10degrees lower, so it came out looking pretty dark. I’m reluctant to say burnt because it didn’t taste burnt & went down pretty well with everyone. 


    Shortly after eating it the children came down dressed like this. A funny end to a nice evening with friends (Kerry, Lucas & Isla), but definitely time for bed…..


  • Ollie’s Vegetable Soup

    This is very much Ollie’s soup. He’s been helping make it since he was one. Daisy started school in the September & one of my main memories of that autumn was of Ollie & I making this soup most days for lunch. He’d stand on a big chair & fed carrots etc into the food processor.  He may not be keen on vegetables, but he’ll always gobble up this soup. 

    This morning has been another cold, grey January one. We had to run to school to drop off Daisy early so that we could catch the bus for Ollie’s eye test. All quite a rush, and on our way home from town we decided we’d have Ollie soup for lunch to warm & cheer us up. 

    Ollie raided the fridge for carrots, onion, garlic, leek & potatoes, while I cleared up cat sick – so nice to come home to! 

    This soup is very adaptable but here’s the basic recipe: 

    VEGETABLE SOUP

    • 1 onion, sliced
    • 1 clove of garlic
    • 2 rashers of bacon (optional)
    • 1 leek, sliced
    • 1 stick of celery, sliced
    • 3 big carrots, finely chopped 
    • handful of red dried lentils (non soak)
    • Veg stock cube
    • Boiling water

    If we have no lentils in, I add a potato to thicken the soup. 

    If not using bacon, I stir in a heaped tsp of marmite at the end. Joni’s tip. Delicious!

    METHOD

    Fry the onion for 2 mins. Add the bacon & garlic. Fry for a few more minutes. I cut the bacon up with a pair of scissors. Add the leek & celery & cook again for a few minutes. Add the carrots, hot water & crumbled stock cube. Rinse the lentils & add them. Add a bit more water if needed. Simmer gently for 20mins. Taste & add seasoning if needed. 

    Hot Chocolate & Charlie Hebdo

    We battled the wind & rain this evening to meet Tom at the Forum for a gathering to remember those who had died in the Charlie Hebdo killings. We were drenched by the time we arrived, but the kids were in good spirits about being out when they should be getting ready for bed!

    Hot chocolates warmed them up & soon lots of people had gathered outside. Even though it was raining, Daisy helped to try & light candles that were laid out to spell CHARLIE.

    Clementine, who organised the gathering, spoke & we had a minute’s silence. The children were well-behaved, although Ollie looks slightly mischievous in this pic! 

    Egg & Chips 

    After a day of DIY (Tom) & kids’ parties (me & the kids), egg & chips seemed like the perfect Sunday-night tea (plus we had nothing much else in…) 

    Post-party, I was helping Daisy have a sort out of room so she could put things on her new shelves, which were a surprise from Tom when we got back from the party. 

    Unsurprisingly,  she was more interested in reading out bits of last year’s journal to me rather than picking up all the Lego & hair bobbles off the floor. 

    In the meantime, Tom & Ollie we’re tackling the bomb site that was Ollie’s room. Suddenly it was 5pm & we were all starving and a bit grouchy & there was only a handful of oven chips in the freezer which was not the plan(!) 

    We found some potatoes at the back of the fridge & while Tom peeled, I cut them into chips. Time was of the essence, blood sugar rates were dropping rapidly…. I rinsed the chips, dried them in a tea towel & tossed them in some olive oil & pink Himalayan salt (Aldi’s finest).   

    Then I put them on a baking tray with the oven chips & cooked for 25min at 200C. Enough time to race upstairs & finish sorting, while Daisy organised her nail varnishes on two saucers. Not the most essential of tasks. 

    A couple of fried eggs, plus beans & some leftover ham made the perfect tea. And Daisy certainly seemed to sleep well. Here she is snuggled up in her transformed room with a copy of Malory Towers (thanks, Nanna!) by her side & Alfie the cat wrapped round her. Just a new bed to buy now…..

    Swede & Carrot Mash with Sausages & Onion Gravy

    After a slovenly Saturday morning, we finally made it out to John & Lewis (the kids’ name), to exchange some things, buy some TV wires & have a much-needed cuppa in the cafe. The kids chose an expensive fruit tart to go with their hot chocolates. Somehow we spent two hours in J&L. Daisy did very well out of it coming home with new navy boots, a play suit & a new swimming cossie, none of which was on the agenda. 

    I thought we were out of meat for the week but found 5 fat sausages in the freezer. A lovely surprise and a perfect accompaniment to the swede in the fridge that needed using up. 

    Swede & Carrot Mash

    1 swede

    Equal weight in carrots

    Knob of butter

    Salt & Pepper

    I peeled, chopped & boiled the swede until tender & did the same with the carrots except in a separate pan. Past experience has taught me that carrots take longer to boil. Once drained, I left them for some time until all the steam had vanished. Mashing too soon can make them taste wet. I don’t like mash to have a puréed consistency but swede & carrot is hard to mash by hand so I put it in the food processor & blitzed it with a knob of butter & lots of salt & pepper. No milk or cream though as this would add to the moisture. It still seemed a bit wet so I put it in an oven dish & grilled it for a few minutes. It went down well with Ollie, regardless of what the picture shows!  I wish my grandma was still around because she made the best swede & carrot mash. I wonder what her secret was….

    Butternut Squash Quesadillas

    Ingredients

    Serves 4-5

    butternut squash, peeled and chopped with the seeds removed
    2 red peppers, sliced
    1 red chilli, de-seeded and sliced
    3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
     pitted olives, chopped
    2 teaspoon paprika
    Tablespoon olive oil
    tortillas
    spring onions or red onion, sliced
    Handful coriander leaves, chopped
    mature cheddar, grated

    Serve with a avocado salad: baby gems, an avocado & cucumber. We had a nice garlicky dressing (Olive oil, a little lemon juice, half tsp Dijon mustard, crushed garlic clove, half tsp honey, salt & pepper). 

    Method

    1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 c

    2. In a large bowl, toss the squash with the pepper, chilli, olives, sliced garlic and paprika and a tablespoon of olive oil

    3. Place on a baking sheet, and roast for 25 to 30 minutes

    4. Once cooked, heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat

    5. Place a tortilla in the pan and spoon over some squash mix and scatter over some of the spring onions, coriander and grated cheese

    6. Cover with another tortilla and heat for 90 seconds before carefully flipping over and frying for a further 90 seconds

    7. To serve, chop into wedges and serve with a huge crunchy green salad

    An adaptation of Lorraine Kelly’s Mexican Quesadillas. 

    This last one is my gluten/diary free one. Delish but not at tasty looking as the ones with cheese! 

    Swimming Celebrations!

    After a three week break from swimming lessons I thought the kids might be a bit rusty, but we were in for a few surprises! 

    At the end of Daisy’s lesson she was led up to the deep end & told to jump in then swim the length of the pool (25m). I was waiting at the other end. She was doing front crawl & I never expected her to make it all the way because the breathing is so hard, but  she absolutely put her all in to it. Talk about effort! At 20m she had to swim under a rope & I thought she’d have to stop, but no, she pushed on! I had tears in my eyes & was openly shouting in front of the other parents ‘you can do it, Daisy!’ When she made it to the end Ollie & I leapt up & down clapping. What a girl! 

    Ollie equally surprised us by doing 5m on his back completely out of the blue. Up to this point Ben – the helper – has dragged Ollie backwards and forwards every week while he just kicks his legs(!) This time Ben left him to his own devices & he shot across on his own. Clever boy!

    To celebrate we went to Morrisons for tea (actually, we go quite often after swimming but this time they were allowed pudding too – Victoria Sponge). They had no salmon or fish & chips left so I was ‘forced’ to have sausage, egg, beans & chips (surprisingly delicious) while Daisy & I discussed the Charlie Hebdon situation which scared Ollie to death. 

    Hot Milk & Honey

    A busy afternoon: first drama class of the new term to teach then tea at Kerry’s. A lovely pasta & sauce (bacon, tomatoes, veg all concentrated down), followed by apple strudel & cream for the gluten eaters (‘fraid I just got it out of the freezer, not homemade but went down well).

    Hot milk & honey for the kids once we had walked home in the dark. Bit scary going through the alleyways! Least it made the kids walk a bit quicker. 

    Ollie wanted to drink his in his den while he wrote notes with his invisible pen. Daisy preferred to sit in the kitchen & chat about school whilst I sorted out the washing. Good night!