Tag Archives: family

Homemade Dump Truck Cake



Another homemade birthday cake. Once again from my favourite cake book: ‘The Practical Encyclopedia of Cakes and Cake Decorating’ by Beverley Jollands, Angela Nilsen, Janice Murfitt and published by Lorenz books. It was my son’s birthday cake for his second birthday, and he loved it!

The entire cake was made in a 2lb loaf tin, then cut, shaped, iced and assmbled on a cake board. It was easy and it looked good too.


Easy-Peasy (not really) Carbonara

This lovely, creamy, scrumptious Carbonara is the ultimate comfort food. If you’re making this for pregnant ladies, or the under 1s remember to cook the eggs thoroughly when you add them. Otherwise, you can leave them rich and unctuous.

Serves 2 adults


180g pasta

4 rashers of bacon snipped into bits

2 eggs

100g grated cheese

4 tblsps olive oil



1) Cook the pasta as per packet instructions. Whilst the pasta is cooking, fry the bacon until browned and crispy, then drain on kitchen paper.

2)Lightly beat the eggs with the olive oil and a pinch of pepper. Stir in the grated cheese.

3)Drain the pasta and return to the pan. Stir in the bacon.

4)Pour the egg mixture over the pasta, and cook stirring over a low heat until rich and creamy. Serve with a crispy salad.

Baked rainbow trout, fresh garlic bread and ratatouille

This sounds fancy, but it’s not- it’s quick and yummy. You could make it from scratch and it would be even tastier, but would take much longer. As  usual, here is the busy Mummy’s version, which shouldn’t take longer than 30 minutes.

Serves 2 adults and 2 toddlers


Sea salt

2 whole rainbow trout

Ready-made, fresh, wholemeal pizza dough or ‘just add water’ pizza base mix, prepared as per packet instructions

3 cloves garlic, peeled and cut into thin slices

1 large sprig rosemary

200g grated cheese

Olive oil

1 tin ratatouille (400g ish)


1) Cut the heads off the rainbow trout and discard. Then place in a roasting tin and sprinkle with a little sea salt. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 25-30min, or until the fish is soft and flakey.

2)Lightly oil a large baking tray. Then sprinkle with plain flour. Press out the pizza dough until it is about 1.5 cm thick.

3)Dot the dough with the slices of garlic. Pick leaves off the sprig of rosemary, and dot in between the garlic, pressing gently into the dough. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt. Then drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil over the pizza and top with the grated cheese.

4)Bake in the oven with the fish for around 15min, or until the cheese is bubbling and the crust risen and lightly browned.

5)Heat up the tin of ratatouille as per the instructions on the tin.

6)De-bone and flake the fish. Serve with the ratatouille and wedges of the fresh garlic bread.

Super fast one pan gnocchi

There are two great things about this meal: it tastes amazing, and it takes only 10 mins to prepare! Brilliant for getting everyone fed when you’re short of time.


Makes enough for 2 adults and 2 toddlers



1tblsp olive oil

200g bacon, snipped into bits

500g ready-made fresh gnocchi

350g tomato based pasta sauce

30g grated cheddar (any sort)



1)Heat the oil in a large, heavy based frying pan, then add the bacon and fry for 2 minutes

2)Add the gnocchi and fry at a fairly high heat until golden (about 3-4min)

3) Reduce to a low heat. Stir in the pasta sauce and grated cheese and heat until the cheese is melting.

4) Serve with plenty of salad and cherry tomatos

Mini Orange and Chocolate Rock Buns

These turn out about bite size, and are so tasty that they’re never around for long in our house. My son loves helping to make these and particularly likes hitting the chocolate with the rolling pin.

Makes around 20



225g self raising flour

125g margarine or butter

75g caster sugar

50g good quality dark chocolate

Grated zest of 3 satsumas (or 1 orange)

1 beaten egg

2 tblsps orange juice

1 tsp vanilla essence



1)Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Put the flour and margarine in a bowl and rub together until a breadcrumb like consistency is achieved. Stir in the sugar.

2)Place the chocolate in a plastic sandwich bag or wrap in cling film. Put this on a heavy wooden chopping board and smash with a rolling pin until you have created lots of little chocolate chunks.

3)Stir in the zest and chocolate chunks.

4)Add the beaten egg, orange juice and vanilla essence and stir. This will create a thick, sticky dough.

5)Grease two baking trays, and using two forks drop rough blobs of the mixture onto the tray. Leave a reasonable distance between them as they will spread a little as they bake.

6)Place in the oven for 10-12 mins or until golden brown all over. Cool on a wire rack and serve slightly warm.

Sea Bream (or Bass) oven steamed

For this recipe you can use either Sea Bream or Sea Bass, whichever is more readily available. It’s ideal for a quick, grown-up supper and super tasty. I wouldn’t recommend this for kids though, as these fish have lots of bones.



1 whole Sea Bass or Sea Bream per person

Some white wine

Salt and pepper

Garlic granules

Chilli powder



Aluminium foil

Greaseproof paper



1)Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Cover a baking tray generously with aluminium foil, then layer the greaseproof paper on top.

2)With a very sharp knife, cut the heads off the fish and throw away. Unless you like eating fish heads, in which case, leave them on.

3)Place the fish on the prepared baking tray and season liberally with salt, pepper, garlic granules and chilli powder. Pinch up the corners of the foil to form a tray shap, then pour one tablespoon of wine over each fish, and one into the baking tray.

4)Encase the fish entirely in the aluminium foil, sealing the edges tightly to prevent moisture from escaping.

5)Place in the oven and bake for 10 min. Open the aluminium foil, the fish should be soft and flaky. Serve with rice and fresh green vegetables.

Beef and Mushroom Pie (a great alternative to a Sunday roast)

In the current economic climate meat for a good roast can be a bit pricey. Here is a cheaper, but still very tasty alternative.

Makes enough for 5-6


5 rashers smoked streaky bacon, snipped into bits with scissors

1 onion, chopped

500g beef stewing steak, diced

400g sliced mushrooms

3 carrots, diced

1 tblsp plain flour

2 stock cubes

2 bay leaves

4 juniper berries

Cornflour or gravy granules

Salt and pepper

1 packet ready rolled short crust pastry

1 tblsp milk


1) Heat up a large pan or pressure cooker pan on the hob. When hot, add the bacon and fry over a medium heat until the fat starts to melt. Now add the onions and beef and fry until the beef is browned.

2) Stir in the plain flour, coating all ingredients in the pan evenly. Now add the carrots and mushrooms and fry briefly.

3)Cover with water and bring to the boil. Add the stock cubes, bay leaves and juniper berries. Simmer on the hob for around two and a half to three hours with the lid on. If necessary add more water to ensure pan does not dry out. Alternatively close the pressure cooker as per manufacturer’s instructions and cook on the highest pressure setting for 25-30min.

4)When the meat is tender, but not yet falling apart, remove the bay leaves and season to taste with salt and pepper. Then thicken using either the gravy granules or cornflour, again following the instructions on the packet. The sauce should be very thick.

5)Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Flour a surface and lay out the unwrapped pastry. Put a 2 and a half litre oven proof dish on top of the pastry and  cut around it leaving a 1 inch margin to account for shrinkage. This is the pastry lid for your pie.

6)Pour the filling into the oven proof dish and lay the pastry on top. Cut a vent into the pastry lid and decorate with left overs, sticking the decorations in place with a little milk.

7)Bake the pie in the oven for around 20-30min, until the pastry is golden brown. Remove from the oven, put straight on the table and serve with boiled potatos and mixed vegetables.