Archive for the ‘difficulty: easy’ Category

Mini cookies are awesome when you have a toddler. You have more control over how much she eats and no screaming fits because you’ve only given her half a cookie ūüėČ

This recipe is originally from My Strawberry Heart.

Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 3/4 cups bread flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 deg F/180 deg C. Line two large baking sheets with greaseproof paper. Grease the paper.
Sift the flour, salt, and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl and set aside. Cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, then mix in the egg and vanilla extract. Gradually add the flour, stirring until just combined, then stir in the chocolate chips.
Take heaped teaspoons of the dough and form into balls. Put the balls on the baking sheet and flatten very slightly.
Bake for 10 minutes. Leave to cool for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack.


Raisins would work very well instead of mini chocolate chips. So would nuts, or another dried fruit (cut up small), or you could omit the chips and not replace them with anything! Cookies are fantastically variable.

What my toddler did

  • Helping to grease the paper.
  • Sifting the flour (a little at a time and with a close eye kept on her!)
  • Lots of stirring.
  • Spooning out heaped teaspoons into my hand — your child may be able to shape the dough into balls as well.
  • Putting balls of dough on the baking sheets.
  • Flattening the balls with her hand.

The final product

My darling daughter may have flattened the cookies a little too much ūüėČ


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The other week a friend of mine was talking about a pineapple upside-down cake that she had made. I love pineapple upside-down cake, but my daughter is not a fan of pineapple. However, she loves apples. So I got out Wendy Hobson’s ‘Classic 1000 Cake & Bake Recipes’ and we made this:

Apple Upside-Down Cake

Topping ingredients:

2 dessert apples, cored and thinly sliced
75g soft brown sugar
3 tbsp raisins
2 tbsp lemon juice

Cake ingredients:

200g plain flour
50 caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
120ml milk
50g apple pureé
5 tbsp oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla essence

Pre-heat the oven to 180 deg C. Mix topping ingredients and arrange in the base of a greased 9-inch cake tin. Try to fill the holes in the apples with the raisins. Mix together the dry cake ingredients. Lightly beat the egg, then, in a separate bowl, mix with the rest of the wet ingredients. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, pour in the wets and mix until just blended. Spoon intothe  tin and bake for 40 minutes, until the cake is shrinking away from side of tin. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving dish.


For one thing, you could replace the apples with a tin of pineapple slices ūüėČ

You can replace the apple pure√© with a different fruit — I may use raspberry pure√© next time. You could also replace the raisins with another small ingredient which can fill the holes; perhaps a different dried fruit, glac√© cherries or nuts.

investigating the lemon squeezer

What my toddler did

  • Snacking on apple slices.
  • Squeezing (some of) the lemon.
  • Mixing topping ingredients.
  • Arranging apples and raisins in the tin.
  • Lots of mixing.
  • Spooning (most of) the mixture into the tin.

The finished product

apple upside-down cake

And my daughter’s verdict, after I had been so considerate of her dislike of pineapple? Well, she ate through the cake part eagerly, took one bite of the topping… and declared, ‘Eurgh, yucky!’

Oh well. Perhaps other toddlers will be more appreciative!

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Lasagna is one of the best main course dishes to make with my toddler, especially if I have the sauce or sauces already prepared. It then becomes a simple but fun assembly job!

This lasagna is based on the Red Bean Lasagna from Rose Elliot’s ‘Vegetarian Pasta ‘. It is perfect for a bean-loving girl such as my daughter. Apart from the cheese on the top it is also vegan!

Red Bean Lasagne

50g margarine

40g flour

600ml soy milk

1 bay leaf

slice of onion

some extra milk

ground nutmeg

1 onion, peeled and chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 430g tin kidney beans

2 400g tins tomatoes

2 heaped tablespoons tomato purée

1/2 teaspoon chilli powder

salt & pepper

enough lasagne sheets to cover your lasagne dish three times

70g Parmesan cheese, grated (omit or substitute for vegan dish)


To make the b√©chamel sauce, melt the margarine and stir in the flour. When it starts to bubble, add half the milk and whisk over the heat until it thickens. Add the rest of the milk and whisk until the sauce is thick and smooth.¬† Add the bay leaf and onion and leave over a low heat for ten minutes. Remove from the heat and pour the extra milk carefully over the top — this will help prevent a skin from forming.¬† Set aside.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C/gas 6.

For the bean/tomato sauce, fry the onions in a little oil until starting to brown, then add garlic and stir for about a minute. Add beans and tomatoes and leave on the heat, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, until sauce is just beginning to thicken. You don’t want it too thick or there won’t be enough liquid to cook the lasagne! Add the tomato pur√©e, chilli powder and salt & pepper to taste.

To assemble the lasagne, remove the bay leaf and onion from the béchamel sauce and whisk until any lumps are gone. Rinse one third  of your lasagne sheets under cold water and use them to cover the bottom of a greased lasagne dish. Pour a third of your béchamel sauce  on top and cover with half your bean/tomato sauce. Cover with another layer of lasagne and the same quantities of the sauces. Top with the rest of the lasagne, the rest of the béchamel sauce the cheese, then bake for about 35 minutes until the pasta feels soft when you stick a fork or skewer through it.


Lasagne is almost infinitely variable! You can use different sauces, just one sauce instead of two, you can replace the b√©chamel sauce with a soft cheese (my favourite for this is marscapone), you can add a layer of saut√©ed vegetables between the sauces… whatever sounds good to you! My daughter and I particularly love to add layers of sweetcorn. Yum.

spreading out sauce

What my toddler did

Despite my recommendation above to have your sauces made already, I did not. So my daughter did a lot of ‘helping’ to stir things on the stove. I hold her on my hip for this so I can put her down and get her out of the way quickly if anything starts to spit or bubble too fiercely. Other things she did:

  • Choosing a bay leaf from the bag.
  • Peeling (most of) the onion.
  • Attempting to use the garlic press (not very successfully!)
  • Helping to grease the dish.
  • Putting lasagne sheets in the dish — I rearranged them slightly after.
  • Spreading the sauces out to cover the lasagne.
  • Sprinkling the cheese on top. Or throwing it on in big lumps, whichever she felt like!

If I had made the sauces earlier and they had been cooler I would have put the appropriate quantities in bowls for her to pour into the dish as well. When we do this she has practically assembled the whole lasagne herself!

The finished product
…I actually forgot to take a picture of the finished product because we were so eager to eat it! So here is a picture of the almost-ready-for-the-oven product instead.

sprinkly cheese

I am going to be away for two and a half weeks for Easter, but when we get back… apple upside-down cake! Yum.

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So it was my darling daughter’s second birthday the other week. What better way to start up this blog than with a quick, easy and delicious birthday cake?

The recipe is from an old book belonging to my mother called Teatime Cookery:

Chocolate Cake

125 g self-raising flour
pinch of salt
25 g cocoa
1 ¬Ĺ level teaspoons baking powder
150 g soft margarine
150 g soft brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon milk

Preheat the oven to¬† gas 4 /180 ¬ļC and grease and line two 7-inch sandwich tins. Sift the dry ingrdients into a bowl, then stir in the wet ones. Beat until smooth. Divide mixture between the tins and bake for 25 minutes or until springy to the touch.

When it was cool we sandwiched it together with some simple vanilla butter icing (comment if you want the recipe!) and melted some chocolate over the top. Some sugar stars sprinkled on top– or thrown viciously and poked, if you’re my toddler — and a couple of candles and it was done!

What my toddler did

  • Pouring pre-measured ingredients into the bowl. She likes to pour in the eggs, but needs a close eye kept on her while she does so!
  • Stirring. Lots of stirring. Most of the stirring, in fact.
  • Pressing the start button on the timer.
  • More stirring for the icing.
  • Licking the spoon I used to stir the chocolate while it melted.
  • Decorating the chocolate-covered cake with stars.
  • Singing Happy Birthday to herself. A lot.

Other things she could have done (most of these she has done in the past, but I don’t like to interrupt her when she’s happily focussed on one task to try to make her switch to another):

  • ‘Helping’ to grease the tins. I usually do this by wiping them with some oil-soaked kitchen paper, and she likes to join in. Give it a once-over yourself as well, though.
  • Spooning the icing onto the cake.


This cake tastes good with most kinds of fillings and toppings. You can sandwich it together with whipped cream or jam instead of icing, or use the same icing for both topping and filling. Vanilla icing tastes good, but so does chocolate or orange. As for decorations, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that there are many options other than sugar stars. Try some halved strawberries instead — yum!

The finished product

(Yes, those are fingerprints.)

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