Leek and Potato Soup

Leek and Potato Soup

This is by far one of the easiest and cheapest soups to make. It matches my formula of minimal input for maximum output perfectly. A classic dish that has always and will forever remain a firm favourite in our house. Enjoy on a cold blustery day with warm bread and butter. Bliss!

You Will Need

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped (I prefer to use 1 tsp garlic granules)

1 litre chicken or vegetable stock (I prefer to use chicken stock for extra flavour)

700g white potato, peeled and diced

2 leeks, shredded

Salt and pepper to taste (optional)

Method

Over a medium heat, lightly fry the onions and garlic until the onions are soft.

Add the stock and bring to the boil.

Add the potatoes and the leeks, lightly season and simmer until the potatoes are soft. (this should be approximately 25-30 minutes)

Once the potatoes are soft, blend the mix until smooth.

Serve and enjoy!

Other Ideas

For a creamier soup you could blend some cream into the mix or for those who prefer a creamy flavour but are counting the calories (as I often am) you can blend through some fat free fromage frais. Be sure if you’re re-heating you do so gently, being careful not to bring the soup to the boil.

Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup

Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup

I love soup season. This soup, with it’s seasonal veg, warms my very soul. ‘It is absolutely yum’ (the Master of Mischief, age 4) and when served up with warm and buttery crusty bread it is always a hit with the kiddies. Even my husband (Mr ‘I’m not bloody eating that’ gave it a thumbs up) Enjoy!

You Will Need

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed (I prefer to use 1 tbsp of garlic granules)

1 tsp ginger

½ tsp cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp tomato puree

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, deseeded, and diced

3 small sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

600ml chicken stock (you can use vegetable stock if you want, I prefer to use chicken)

1 can coconut milk

Chilli flakes to garnish, if preferred

Method

Over a medium heat, start by cooking the onion for 1-2 minutes until soft. Add the garlic, ginger, cumin and oregano and continue to fry for a few seconds while stirring.

Add the tomato puree, butternut squash and sweet potato chunks and fry for a further 2 minutes.

After this, add the stock and bring the whole pot to the boil.

Reduce to a medium heat and simmer until the butternut squash and sweet potato are cooked. (I usually give it 30 minutes; you may wish to leave it longer or less depending on the size of your chunks)

I also like to give it a stir halfway through.

Once the squash and sweet potato are cooked, add the coconut milk and simmer again for a few minutes.

Using a hand blender (or food processor) whizz the soup until smooth.

Serve with a sprinkle of chilli flakes and a side of warm crusty bread.

Other Ideas

I love the flavours of this soup. I serve it with a sprinkle of chilli flakes to add a dash of heat, but not too much, as I usually serve it up for the kids. If you wanted to add extra kick you could add a deseeded and chopped red chilli at the same time you add the garlic and herbs. If you’re really brave, bung a second one in there.

If you want to bulk up the soup and add some extra hidden veggies (its all getting blended so why not eh?) you could add things such as mushrooms, peppers, carrots and celery with the onions to create a veggie base for the soup.

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.

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!

Superstar Eggy Bread

Superstar Eggy Bread

This makes for a great Saturday or Sunday morning breakfast. I love it mostly because it is something my dad used to make for me and that his mam made for him. It definitely takes me back to when I was a kid. An added bonus is that it is cheap and easy to make. Winner!

You Will Need

2 Large Eggs

2 Slices of bread (any flavour)

2 Tbsp Milk

1 tsp Cinnamon

Star and circle shaped biscuit cutter

Strawberries and Blueberries (as many as you want)

Icing sugar to serve

Method

Whisk the eggs, milk, and cinnamon together in a wide bowl.

Cut out two stars and two circles from the slices of bread.

Soak the stars on both sides in the egg mixture. Transfer the soaked bread from the bowl to a non-stick frying pan and fry on both sides until golden. Repeat this process again for the circles.  

Once cooked, stack a star on top of a circle and position on a plate with chopped strawberries and blueberries.

Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve.

Other Ideas

To prevent waste, try using the off-cuts from the bread and make eggy bread bites by chopping them into chunks, coating them in the egg mixture and frying.

If you don’t have a star or circle cutter you can soak a whole slice of bread into the mix and chop into fingers, squares or triangles once cooked.

You can also mix it up by trying different flavours, substitute the cinnamon for nutmeg or ginger to try something new. You could also serve the eggy bread with a dollop of Nutella to make it a bit naughtier.

You can also serve this dish with a selection of fruits. Try making it more tropical by serving pineapple, mango, and kiwi. You could even sprinkle the dish with desiccated coconut instead of icing sugar for a real tropical twist!  

Spaghetti Car Banana (Carbonara)

Spaghetti Car Banana (Carbonara)

This is always a hit with my children. Obviously, to many it is known as spaghetti carbonara, however, after a hilarious mis-pronunciation from the Master of Mischief it is only known as car banana in our house. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

You will need

350g Spaghetti

100g Bacon Lardons (or pancetta if preferred or you want to splurge and be fancy)

1 tsp Garlic Granules

1 Onion (diced)

3-4 Mushrooms (diced) – Optional

For the sauce

500ml Milk

4tbsp Plain Flour

50g Butter

100g Cheddar Cheese (grated)

Method

Cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions.

While the spaghetti is cooking, pan fry the bacon lardons with the onion, mushroom (if using) and garlic granules until cooked.

To make the sauce, pour the milk into a saucepan and add the butter and flour. Place over a medium heat and whisk together. Continue with a fast whisk while the butter melts and the mixture comes to a boil. As you continue to whisk the flour should start to disappear and the sauce should begin to thicken. Whisk for a further 2 minutes until you have a smooth sauce. Add the cheese to the saucepan and stir until all the cheese is melted.

Once you have finished the sauce and the spaghetti is cooked, combine all the prepared ingredients mixing the spaghetti into the sauce and adding the bacon, onion, and mushroom mix.

Stir together and serve with salad or vegetables.

Other Ideas

If you don’t want to include meat in the recipe you can substitute the bacon for extra vegetables such as courgettes or peppers.

You could also mix it up by using chicken instead of (or as well as) bacon.

Alien Fish Cakes

Alien Fish Cakes

This is the kind of meal you can really get creative with. Mix it up with different vegetables or prep the ingredients and let your little ones create their own alien faces. Whichever way you choose to do it, aliens are always a hit in our house.

You Will Need

1 Packet Round Fishcakes

1 Pepper (whichever colour is preferred)

1 Stick Celery

Babybel Cheese (or similar)

½ Cucumber

Cocktail Sausages (Sliced)

Handful Salad Leaves

Method

Cook the fishcakes as per the packet instructions.

Chop the celery and cucumber into thick chunks. Slice the pepper into crudités.

Slice the babybel down the centre so you have 2 circles. Cut one of the circles in half and the other into quarters.

Slice the cocktail sausages.

To construct the alien start by placing the fishcake in the centre of the plate. Use the cheese quarters as teeth, the celery as feet and the pepper as arms. Lay the babybel halves on top of halved cucumber slices and then position a slice of cocktail sausage on the babybel to make eyes. Finish off with a cucumber chunk nose and a handful of salad leaves for hair.

Other Ideas

This is the kind of meal you can really get creative with. Replace any of the vegetables with alternatives for a different kind of alien. You may choose to substitute cucumber for carrot, or pepper for green beans, you could use cherry tomatoes or radish for eyes. You may also wish to use sugar snap peas as a mouth instead of cheese quarters. Be as imaginative as you like.

Another option is to give your children the ingredients and see what they can come up with.   

Also, if your children are not fans of fish, you could use any kind of savoury or vegetarian bake. Aldi do a selection of Crispbakes including cheese & onion and corned beef. Last time I went shopping, there were priced at £1.09 for a pack of 2. They are always well received and are my go to for mixing it up at lunchtime.

Sausage and Mash Volcano (with lava beans)

Sausage and Mash Volcano (with lava beans)

A fabulous novelty twist on the classic bangers and mash. This is sure to impress even the fussiest of children. You can substitute the sausages for a vegetarian alternative to fit with any or all dietary requirements.

Sausage and Mash Volcano

You will need

1 pack sausages (whichever flavour is preferred)

500g potato (peeled and chopped)

2oz butter

1-2 tbsp milk

420g tin baked beans

Method

Peel and chop potatoes and place in a large pan of water.

Over a medium heat bring to the boil and cook potatoes until soft.

Cook the sausages as per the packet instructions.

Once the potatoes are cooked, let them cool for 3-4 minutes (or until the steam has evaporated, wet potatoes make soggy mash – nobody likes soggy mash!)

Mash the potatoes with the butter and milk and continue mashing until you reach your preferred smoothness.

Spoon a mound of potato into the centre of your plate.

Slice the sausages down the middle and begin propping them against the side of the mash potato mound, leaving space at the top for your lava.

Heat the beans and spoon into the open space at the top of the ‘volcano’

Enjoy!

Other Ideas

If you don’t want to use beans or you find you have a bean-less cupboard you could use gravy for your lava or if you want to your lava a bit fancier you could use mixed beans in tomato sauce (Aldi do a fantastic mild mixed taco beans which my littlies love!)

If your littles ones are on the fussier side and beans (baked or otherwise) or gravy is a no-go, you could just squirt some red sauce in there and you’re laughing all the way to an empty plate. 

Also, you could go really wild and add some broccoli trees to the base of your volcano or cut out some dinosaur shapes using biscuit cutters and some red, green or yellow peppers.