Summer holidays are well and truly here – and we can’t lounge on beaches ALL the time. So here are some recipes for kids.
Quite a large proportion of the holidays are spent at home – and when both parents work, older children sometimes have to be left home alone. That’s when they can be put to work cooking the family dinner, or at least a few dishes to contribute.
Here are some recipes that are easy enough for them to tackle, from maybe age ten upwards, depending on how savvy your kids are in the kitchen. Just run through a few safety pointers beforehand, re-turning off the gas on the hob after you’ve finished, ditto the oven, and sharp knives etc.
My kids love using my Nutribullet (or any blender/liquidiser would be good for this) and this recipe is easy for children to bung everything in and blitz.
Gwyneth Paltrow really does some nice salad dressings, specifically, in her book “It’s All Good” by Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Turshen, £20.00, Sphere Books. This is a variation on her Carrot-Ginger Dressing.
I (unusually) didn’t have any carrots, so substituted a red pepper. I used onions instead of shallots (shallots are milder), white wine vinegar instead of rice vinegar, omitted the toasted sesame oil (didn’t have any), and used a combination of olive oil and sunflower oil instead of the grape seed oil.
As you see, you can substitute quite a lot and it still comes out delicious! Everything’s going in the blender, so the kids don’t have to be too precise about chopping.
Ingredients (makes a big jar-full)
- 1 red pepper, cored and roughly chopped
- 1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 50g fresh root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp sweet white miso paste (Waitrose has it)
- 60ml white wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp runny honey
- 50ml extra virgin olive oil
- 50ml sunflower oil or similar mild oil
- 50ml hot water
- 1 tsp sea salt
- good grinding of black pepper
Method: Blend everything well in a Nutribullet/mixer. Store in a jar in the fridge for up to a week, and pour over salads, veggies such as raw kale (see pic), broccoli or asparagus, and it’s also delicious spooned over plain roast/grilled chicken or fish, or in baked potatoes with a tin of tuna/tinned salmon.
This is not a meal, but it is a snack/treat the kids will love making. I used a combination of Divine Fairtrade 70% dark chocolate and dirt-cheap milk chocolate (probably no more than 30% cocoa solids).
I had a lovely hour melting and mesmerically half-dipping the salt-studded pretzels into the choc. It was really satisfying! Get the radio on and zone out. The salt also works surprisingly well with the sweet.
The kids are now hoovering these up – and they’re not quite AS unhealthy as other snacks.
- 250g milk chocolate
- 100g dark 70-85% chocolate
- About 500g salted pretzels
- Slowly melt the chocs together in a heatproof (usually glass) bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. You can do this in the microwave too, on a medium-low power setting, but there is a greater chance of it ‘catching’ and burning. Lay out some greaseproof paper OR flattened out waxed paper from cereal packets that you have been saving – I KNEW they’d come in handy :-).
- Cool the chocolate a bit, mixing the two types together well, and half dip the pretzels in the mix, letting the excess drip off.
- Lay flat on the waxed paper, then chill further in the fridge.
- Store in a resealable tub, and I would keep refrigerated
No cooking, just a bit of blitzing in the food processor, which my kids are fine with. If you’re worried about the blade – you can prep the cauli beforehand and they can just chop/add everything else.
A word to the doubters: I was very sceptical about this. Cauliflower can be very ammonia-ey, and have an unwanted effect on your digestion (ahem).
But this is delicious and light, and not too cauliflower-y. If you’re cutting down on carbs, it’s a good option, as it’s wheat/gluten free.
Ingredients: serves 2-3
- 1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
- salt and pepper
- juice 1 lemon
- 25g parsley, de-stalked and chopped
- 25g pack mint, de-stalked and chopped
- 25g pack coriander, de-stalked and chopped (optional)
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- Finely chopped veg e.g. 1 grated carrot/few halved cherry tomatoes, diced cucumber etc
Method: Put the raw cauli in a food processor and blitz until the size of couscous. Microwave for 2 minutes with a tablespoon of water (optional, you can leave it raw). Mix through all the other ingredients. Serve with your favourite protein: grilled prawns, chicken breast, salmon fillet, grilled halloumi, tinned tuna in a little mayo etc. Or sprinkle with crumbled feta. Really much nicer than it sounds, especially as part of a salad buffet.
I read about these a while back and then, when I had a glut of bananas, I decided to try them. They’re so creamy and indulgent-tasting, yet easy, they’re hardly even worth a recipe!
Peel bananas, halve them and carefully jam a lolly stick, plastic knife (pictured) or a coffee stirrer (of the type you might have left over from your daily trip to Starbucks/Pret etc) in the middle. Then freeze on a baking tray on some greaseproof paper.
Once they’re frozen, you can carefully peel them off and store in a bag (don’t snap the handles – easily done). They’re about 44 calories and really creamy, just like eating an ice cream, really!
My ideas for calorifying them up include dipping in a jar of Nutella as you eat them, or melting some chocolate (milk or dark, or white) and either refreezing immediately or sprinkling with toasted chopped hazelnuts/almonds/sprinkles and refreezing immediately. My kids, husband, au pair and I have been wolfing them down for dessert, or a heat-beating snack, without even noticing they’re healthy. Yum.
‘Never Eat Shredded Wheat’ is the old saying to remind you of the points of the compass: North-East-South-West. And having recently bought some shredded wheat, I can see what they mean.
The only ingredient is: wheat, and nothing else: no sugar, salt, flavour enhancers or anything. It’s a bit hard going. My kids tried it once and then rebelled – and one of their classmates, who recently came for a sleepover did the same: she took a few mouthfuls and then gave up. If you like your breakfast cereals puritan, then I guess they’re OK. But I am off wheat, so I had to think of another use for them.
The old Chocolate-Rice-Crispies recipe came into my head so I decided to adapt it. As the Shreddies are so bland/wheaty I used milk chocolate (not dark) and some extra sweetness in the form of glace cherries (which I love) and sultanas, but having tasted it you could go half-and-half with milk and dark choc.
Ingredients: (makes about 20)
- About 500g Shredded Wheat (whole box)
- 400g milk chocolate, broken up (or 200g milk and 200g dark)
- 2 tbsp golden syrup
- 50g butter
- 1 tsp cardamom (optional)
- 1 small tub glace cherries (halved)
Method: Melt the chocolate, butter and golden syrup in a large glass bowl either in the microwave on HALF power (be careful it doesn’t catch, the smell is awful) or in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Mix through the other ingredients, breaking up the shredded wheat with your fingers. Spoon into paper cake cases and chill.
My daughters make this all the time. Kladdig means sticky in Swedish and kaka means cake. Soo, this is a sticky chocolate cake.
The main difference between this and an ordinary chocolate sponge is the amount of sugar i.e. a lot (usually you have the same amount of sugar as butter, but here you have 2 1/2 times as much i.e. 250g sugar to 100g butter). Hey, your heart won’t thank you but your tastebuds will.
The other thing is, it doesn’t look like it’s set when it comes out of the oven: it wobbles and looks quite liquid under the surface. But as my Swedish au pair reassured me, “It sets as it cools”, sort of. If it’s oozing off the plate, and not standing up straight like a slice of sponge, so much the better. It’ll melt into the creme fraiche or ice cream accompaniment more effectively (this really isn’t one for the diet, is it?)
I guarantee once you’ve made this, you’ll make it time and again. Kids love it, husbands love it, anyone with a sweet tooth will love it. It’s always gone the day I make it, never mind waiting till teatime.
Ingredients (makes 8-10 slices)
- 100g butter (I used Benecol buttery)
- 250g sugar
- 2 eggs
- 150g plain flour
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp cocoa powder
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
- Melt the butter and sugar together, then take the saucepan off the heat.
- Add the rest of the ingredients, with the eggs last (once the mix has cooled down a little, otherwise you may get scrambled eggs).
- Pour into a greaseproof-paper-lined 25cm round cake tin (I use the ready-cut, pleated greaseproof liners).
- Bake for 15 minutes then check how liquid it is – it may need a few more minutes only. Don’t make my mistake of overcooking it – then it’s horrible, dry and hard.
- Cool to room temperature and serve with creme fraiche or ice cream and raspberries, if liked.
Semifreddo seems to be the name I’m giving to any type of sweet mousse or fool etc that’s a bit too liquid to be served at fridge temperature. Perhaps that is the definition?
Anyway this came about as an experiment because I was trying to use up food before going on holiday (so various odd fruits and veg wouldn’t rot while we were away). So, two bananas and one 450g pot of Greek yoghurt, plus a few bits and bobs, and we’re away.
I was fully expecting my kids to pull faces but they asked for seconds, so I was (a) astounded and (b) delighted and (c) resolved to blog about it immediately. It’s a great, cheap, healthy, child-friendly, everyday family dessert.
Ingredients: (serves 4)
- 2 or 3 bananas, peeled and chunked
- 450g pot Greek yoghurt with honey (or add your own honey)
- 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
- few scrapes fresh nutmeg (optional)
- Put everything in the blender/Nutribullet and blitz.
- Pour into 4 individual ramekins.
- Freeze for at least an hour.
- Defrost a bit before eating as they will be rock hard otherwise.
- Decorate, if liked with a blob of whipped cream, a few slices of banana or chocolate shavings, or crushed peanut brittle would be nice, or a smashed up Crunchie, or a few of those sesame brittle things you get in newsagents/sweetshops – chopped.
Note: The photo is rubbish but I had to be quick as my kids weren’t in the mood for waiting. I’d never make a paparazzo.