Vanilla Fossil Biscuits

Vanilla Fossil Biscuits

These delicious biscuits are great for baking with children. They require few ingredients and are extremely easy to do. This recipe has been used in my family for generations. One of the great things about the simplicity of these is that you can vary your shape and design for any occasion.

You Will Need

200g Margarine

150g Caster sugar

400g Plain flour

2 eggs

½ tsp vanilla essence

Method

Mix together the margarine and the caster sugar until light and fluffy. Rub in the flour until you have ‘breadcrumb’ texture.

Lightly whisk the eggs with the vanilla essence and add to the dry mixture. Mix together until you have a dough (the dough with be slightly sticky at first – or at least mine always is).

Tip the dough onto a floured surface and lightly knead. Roll the dough out to 1-2cm thickness.

Cut out whatever shapes you wish to use and place them onto a baking tray lined with parchment or baking paper. For a fossil effect, press small dinosaur and other toys into the biscuits to create prints in the dough.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at gas mark 4/180c/160 fan for 15 minutes or until a pale golden brown colour.

Allow to cool and enjoy!

Other Ideas

If you don’t want to make fossil biscuits and instead chose to keep your pattern plain, here are a few ideas for you.

When not making fossil effect biscuits, we usually use icing made from icing sugar and water and top the biscuits with sprinkles.

You can add 100g of currents to the dry mix before adding the egg to make current biscuits.

You might want to try dipping the biscuits into chocolate for an even sweeter treat.

You could also experiment with different flavours in place of vanilla. For a zesty twist, try adding the rind of 1/2 a lemon and 1/2 tsp lemon essence.

Chocolate Bark

Chocolate Bark

This recipe is the epitome of fake baking. With very few ingredients, zero cooking time and a vast variety of flavours, this is everything a busy parent needs in order to trick their children into thinking they are baking, without doing any actual baking! An extra bonus with this delectable treat is that the end product is absolutely gorgeous. Perfect for a night-time naughty or an afternoon delight.

These quantities are for white chocolate and sprinkle bark and a mint chocolate bark. See the other ideas section at the bottom of the page for a variety of other flavours.

White Chocolate Sprinkle Bark

You will need:

4 100g bars white chocolate (I used the 30p bars from Morrisons simply because they were cheap, whether you choose to use branded or baking chocolate is a choice I will leave up to you)

Sprinkles of your choosing (for this recipe I used mermaid sprinkles)

Method

Break the chocolate into a large bowl and melt. I usually melt my chocolate in a heat proof dish over a pan of boiling water. You may choose to microwave your chocolate. If you do decide to microwave, I would recommend 30 seconds to start then stir and continue to microwave at 10 second intervals stirring in between and repeating until the chocolate is smooth.

Pour the melted chocolate onto a sheet of parchment or baking paper and spread evenly until you have a thick layer of chocolate.

Add your sprinkles

Allow to cool slightly and then leave in the fridge until set.

Once all the chocolate has set, roughly chop into shards.

Mint Chocolate Bark

You will need:

4 100g bars of milk chocolate (as before, I use the cheap stuff, you can use whichever brand or make of chocolate you prefer)

½ tsp peppermint extract

1 pack mint aero bubbles (a bar of mint aero of other variety of mint bubble chocolate will also work)

1 pack after eight minis

Method

Break the chocolate into a large bowl and melt. I usually melt my chocolate in a heat proof dish over a pan of boiling water. You may choose to microwave your chocolate. If you do decide to microwave, I would recommend 30 seconds to start then stir and continue to microwave at 10 second intervals stirring in between and repeating until the chocolate is smooth.

Once the chocolate has melted, add the peppermint extract and stir well.

Pour the melted mint chocolate onto a sheet of parchment or baking paper and spread evenly until you have a thick layer of chocolate.

Smash the aero bubbles until they are a mixture of small chunks and minty dust.

Sprinkle the smashed aero bubble chocolate over the melted chocolate, add as many after eight minis to the top as you want.

Allow to cool slightly and then leave in the fridge until set.

Once all the chocolate has set, roughly chop into shards.

Other Ideas

So. Many. Options!

You can literally top your bark with anything. The options are endless. Below are my top 5 ideas to vary your chocolate bark flavours.

  1. Salted Caramel: for this flavour I use milk chocolate and add small fudge chunks and crushed up pretzels. The salt and the sweet are a heavenly combination.
  2. White chocolate and strawberry mallow: for this I use white chocolate, chopped dried strawberries and mini marshmallows.
  3. Candy Cane: this is great for Christmas! It works well with white or milk chocolate. Add ½ tsp of peppermint to the chocolate after melting and top with crushed up candy canes. So yummy!
  4. Mini Eggs: for this I use a white chocolate and crushed up mini eggs. The pastel colours of the eggs and the white chocolate look really pretty together.
  5. Rainbow Bark: you can do this a couple of ways. Firstly, you could buy coloured chocolate, melt and swirl together to make a mix of colours and then sprinkle the top with skittles or smarties. Another way to do it if you don’t want to use coloured chocolate (it can be expensive), or if you can’t find it (where I live, you’ve more chance of finding rocking horse shit) is to use plain white chocolate and cover it with as many colourful sweets and sprinkles as you can find. You can either lay the sweets on top in rainbow colour order or you can bung them altogether and create a colourful feast for the eyes.

There are probably a million more variations, these are just my top 5. Let me know in the comments what flavours you decide to do.

Happy Faking!

Chicken and Broccoli Rice

Chicken and Broccoli Rice

This is a really easy and delicious week night dinner recipe. It takes hardly any time to make so is great for those times you want something tasty but can’t be bothered cooking. I often serve mine with a splash of sweet chilli sauce. Delicious!

You Will Need

400g cooked chicken breast (diced) I use the frozen cooked chicken strips as these are cheap to buy and can be kept in the freezer. I find that this helps me to cut down on waste by only using what I need

300g dried long-grain rice

1 chicken stock cube

200g broccoli, cut into small florets

1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 tsp garlic granules

1 tsp mixed herbs

Method

Cook the rice according to the packet instructions and drain.

In a separate pan, boil the broccoli (for 2-3 minutes) drain and set aside.

Over a medium heat, pan fry the chicken with the garlic and herbs in a large frying pan or wok (ensure chicken is cooked through). Add to this the finely chopped carrot and onion and continue to fry until softened. Once softened, add the broccoli.

Crumble the stock cube in with the chicken and vegetables and add a good splash of water. Simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Add the cooked rice to the chicken and vegetables and stir until they are thoroughly mixed.

Serve straight away either on its own, or with sweet chilli or soy sauce.

Other Ideas

If you need a quicker mid-week dish, try using microwaveable golden vegetable rice. Simply prepare according to the packet instructions and add to the chicken and vegetables. You could even try other rice flavours.

If you want to sneak a few extra veggies into this, you could include a small tin of sweetcorn, some chopped mushrooms, or some chunks of courgette. Any extra veg you want to use can be added at the same time as the carrot and onion.

Roasted Red Pepper and Goats Cheese Soup

Roasted Red Pepper and Goats Cheese Soup

This is a soup-er dish to make. It is easy to do and is packed with hidden veggies which is great for the kids. We served ours at tea time with a big salad and homemade crusty bread. We had the leftovers for lunch the next day. This dish is definitely a household favourite!

You Will Need

4 red peppers (halved and de-seeded)

1 white onion

2 sticks celery

2 carrots

1 courgette

450ml vegetable stock

2tbsp olive oil

2 tsp garlic granules

½ pack goats cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Rub the chopped and de-seeded peppers with the olive oil and roast in the oven on a medium heat for 30 minutes (or until they are tender)

Dice the onion, celery carrot and courgette and in a large pan lightly fry all of the chopped vegetables with the garlic.

Once the veg is softening add the vegetable stock and simmer.

Remove the peppers from the oven and add to the pan, stirring well.

Allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Remove from the heat and using a hand blender, blend the soup until it is smooth.

Add the goats cheese and stir well (until the cheese is mixed through)

Return the soup to a low heat and simmer until it reaches a suitable eating temperature. Make sure not to boil the soup.

Season to taste and serve.

Other Ideas

If you don’t want to include the cheese, try adding some tomato puree to the soup for extra flavour.

If you don’t have a hand blended, simply allow to cool slightly and add to a smoothie maker or large blender to whizz into a soup. Return to the pan after and heat to a suitable temperature.

Soup is a great way to sneak extra veggies into your child’s diet without them ever knowing. Add as much or as little as you want to your soup base. If you feel you are veering into veg soup territory, increase your pepper count accordingly to balance the mix and keep your pepper flavours nice and strong.

Picnic Platter

Picnic Platter

A great sharing platter for children on sunny afternoons. I find that it is much easier to present all the food on one big board than serving up several individual plates of food (which usually means a tonne of washing up after). This is a stress free and easy to produce option for feeding the whole family on those sunny days in the garden.

You Will Need

One of the best things about sharing platters is that you can fill them with whatever you like. The platter in this image was created for three children and requires the following.

3 Turkey sandwiches on wholemeal bread (cut into triangles)

3 large rice cakes

3 cheese triangles

2 pork pies (cut into quarters)

6 cocktail sausages

1 salad pepper (cut into batons)

½ cucumber (cut into batons)

2 kiwi fruits (cut into quarters)

2 satsumas (peeled and segmented)

1 apple (chopped into slices)

3 kids tube yogurts

3 pepperoni snack sticks

Method

Make the sandwiches (removing the crusts if you prefer) and place them on the board in a line down one side.

Quarter the pies and position these next to the sandwiches, next to this add the sausages.

Chop the pepper and the cucumber half into batons and positions these on the board.

Slice the apple and kiwi and peel and segment the satsumas. Place all fruit together on the board near to the pepper and cucumber.

Place the cheese triangles next to the rice cakes on the opposite side to the sandwiches.

Finally add to the board the pepperoni sticks and tube yogurts.

Serve immediately.

Other Ideas

As I have said, the best part about these platters is that you can fill them with anything. If you have more adults than children, try substituting the cheese triangles for a selection of cheese slices, cured meats and crackers. You could even incorporate some chutneys and pickles to make it into more of a Ploughman’s platter.

If you prefer you could also add a larger selection of vegetable sticks, including celery and carrots and serve some dip alongside them.

Another easy ay to change it up is a wider selection of sandwiches. Try adding some egg and cress, tuna and sweetcorn, cucumber or even jam. This will give it more of a traditional afternoon tea feel. You could even throw on some scones and really make a show of it!

Bacon Naan

Bacon Naan

This is one of my favourite twists on the classic bacon sandwich! It was something that myself and my husband first discovered on a weekend away for our first wedding anniversary. When we re-create it at home it takes me back to that fabulous (child-free) weekend we had. It has now become my go to for a special occasion breakfast.

You Will Need

1 pack large garlic and coriander naan breads

1 pack smoked streaky bacon (or whichever cut you prefer)

2 tbsp Ketchup

½ tsp cumin

Method

Cook the bacon as per the cooking instructions until you have your desired crispiness.

Heat the naan breads as per the packet instructions.

Mix the cumin into the ketchup and place in a small serving pot.

Place the bacon onto the naan break and fold. Serve immediately with the accompanying sauce on the side.

Other Ideas

If you don’t want to use a naan bread, any kind of flatbread would work as a suitable substitute.

You also don’t have to use garlic and coriander, you can substitute the flavour for whichever is your preferred choice.

Rocky Road

Rocky Road

This is a great recipe if you’re in need of a sweet treat or a rainy day activity. It requires few ingredients and is easy enough that you can get the kids involved.

You Will Need

200g plain digestive biscuits (you can use rich tea if you prefer)

200g milk chocolate

100g mini marshmallows (you can chop normal sized marshmallows into smaller chunks if you can’t find mini marshmallows)

100g raisins (optional)

Method

Break the digestive biscuits into small chunks. To do this place the biscuits into a food bag and bash with a rolling pin (this is great for if you’re having a stressful day). You’re looking for your biscuits to be anywhere between dust and chunks that are about the size of a 2p.

Break the chocolate into small pieces in a heat proof dish and melt over a pan of boiling hot water. Stir the chocolate continuously until there are no lumps. Set aside and leave to cool slightly. If you prefer you can microwave your chocolate at 10-30 second intervals, however I prefer to use the boiling water method as I have had a few bad luck moments where my chocolate has burnt in the microwave.

Once the chocolate has cooled slightly, add all of the remaining ingredients and mix until everything is coated in the chocolate.

Pour the mixture into a lined baking tin and sprinkle with a few extra marshmallows. Allow to cool for at least 3 hours.

Once the chocolate has set, cut into squares or slices.

Other Ideas

You could mix up the flavours by adding ½ tsp peppermint essence to the melted chocolate and crushing some mint aero on the top before you allow it to set.

Another alternative is to use white chocolate instead of milk chocolate and substitute the raisins for dried raspberries or cranberries.

Breakfast Sundae

Breakfast Sundae

Dress your breakfast up and make it fancy! This is a really tasty twist on a simple yogurt and granola breakfast. Pack it with fruit or keep it simple, either way it is delicious! The great thing about this dish is that you can easily tailor it to any taste preference.

You Will Need

All quantities of these ingredients will differ depending on how much or how little you want to include in your dish.

Fruit yogurt (whichever flavour is preferred) I used a smooth low fat strawberry yogurt.

Granola (whichever flavour is preferred) I used a low sugar apple and blueberry granola.

Chopped fruit (whichever flavour is preferred) I used bananas on this occasion.

Method

Make sure that the fruit you have chosen is chopped into small bitesize pieces.

You will need either a tall glass, clear plastic cup or if you have them, an ice cream sundae glass.

To layer the ingredients, start with the granola. On top of this put a spoonful of yogurt, followed by a sprinkle of the chopped fruit.

Repeat the layering process until you have reached your desired number of layers.

Finish off with a final scoop of yogurt and a raspberry (or any berry of your choice)

ENJOY!

Other Ideas

You could go as big or as small as you want on this dish.

Make it tropical by using chunks of pineapple or mango and a coconut yogurt.

You could also make this dish with porridge oats or muesli instead of granola for a slightly less crunchy texture.