Posts filed under ‘Children’s Cooking’

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes with the Kids

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

Making cupcakes with children is just fantastic. I’ve yet to find a child that doesn’t love choosing the papercases (if you can’t find funky ones at your supermarket, take a look at our huge online range at www.cottagecooks.co.uk where they come in different shapes and sizes too!).  They’re easy and quick to make, with most being cooked within 20 minutes so not far off the instant gratification that smaller hands and tummys crave. Add to that some brightly coloured icing and sprinkles for decorating and you’ve hit kid cake paradise!

Annabel and I made these Mint Chocolate Cupcakes last weekend….thanks to my friend Anna from Nigella.com for providing the recipe for these in UK measurements. Originally taken from the book “500 Cupcakes”, these are a big hit with children and adults alike…..aero in cupcake form. Next week, we’re going to try to make them chocolate orange flavour…….!

INGREDIENTS
225g self raising flour                                   4 tbsp cocoa powder
1teaspoon baking powder                            225g caster sugar
4 large eggs                                                    1 teaspoon mint essence
100g plain chocolate chips                           225g unsalted butter, softened

and for the icing…….
120g unsalted butter, softened                    225 icing sugar
1 teaspoon mint essence                                green food colouring
100g plain choc chips (chocolate sprinkles or crumbled flake works well too)

METHOD
Preheat the oven to 160C (fan oven 150C). Ask your little helper to pop 18 paper cake cases in muffin tins.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into  a large mixing bowl.

In another bowl, beat together the flour and sugar until well combined – this is where you need the softened butter. Add the eggs in one at a time, beating together after each addition.

Gradually add the flour mixture, stirring all the time – it’s a good idea for one to stir and one to pour. Make sure all the lumps are stirred out then add in the mint essence and chocolate chips and give another stir. Spoon the mixture into the cake cases – about a dessertspoonful in each one and the adult cook should put them in the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes.

Whilst they’re cooking, tidy away all the utensils used so far and get on with making the icing. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and add the mint essence. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the bowl then beat together well – I find it much easier to do this im my magimix but you need to be careful of kids fingers and sharp blades, obviously!  Add a little food colouring to turn the icing mint green.

Once the cupcakes are cooked, turn out onto a cooling rack for 10-15 minutes, then cover them with icing. No need for fancy piping a little angled palette knife does the job perfectly. Top with the choc chips whilst the icing is still wet (or they all fall off!). Sit back and enjoy.

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April 16, 2007 at 10:25 am 1 comment

Making Quick but Healthy Pizza

april-07-048.jpgapril-07-051.jpgBoth of my girls love pizza but I hate buying the stuff from out of the freezer. Chloe makes a fabulous pizza base but time was short today and she was filthy from a day at the stables so whilst she was in the bath, Annabel and I made pizza for tea.

We cheated by buying pre-made bases and tomato topping….I normally make my topping with tomato puree and a little olive oil to thin it but Annabel finds it too tomatoey(!) so I opted for a jar of good quality bruschetta topping.  I had quite a few things going a bit limp in the fridge so Annabel made good use of a red pepper, some onions and tinned sweetcorn that we’d opened a couple of days ago. It also gave us chance to use up the remnants of slightly hard cheese that were festering in the fridge as well as a lovely ball of buffalo mozzarella.

So once I chopped the veggies up, the meal was all Annabel’s. She spread the bruschetta topping all over the pizza base, then sprinkled over the peppers and onions. I even had a problem stopping her eating all the raw pepper! A really good sprinkling of sweetcorn then lots of different cheeses over the top and it was ready to cook.

The pizza bases came in packs of 2 so I quickly blended 150g unsalted butter with 6 garlic cloves, spread it all over the base and hey presto…garlic bread as well! The pizza cooked for 15 minutes at 180c and was divine. The garlic bread was in for the same time but could have done with just 10 minutes.  The girls and I tucked in and there wasn’t a scrap remaining for the dogs!! An excellent meal by Annabel who will be 4 on Monday……..just goes to show that even from such an early age, you can get children cooking and eating good food.

 

 

 

April 5, 2007 at 8:38 pm Leave a comment

Why Should Children Learn to Cook?

Children and cooking is one of the things I feel passionately about. After all, it’s a life skill that so many grow up without and when kids leave home, they haven’t the faintest idea of how to cook meals. So they become reliant upon packets of processed foods that can be popped in the microwave for ease and convenience.  Processed foods that contain high levels of salt, sugar and quite frankly some off cuts of meat that you wouldn’t really want to give to your dog if you knew where they came from!!

Children CAN learn to cook from the earliest of ages – as young as 2 or 3. Give the youngest cooks a wooden spoon and a plastic bowl to stir some ingredients in and they simply love it. They can make dishes that require “assembling” rather than cooking like these Chocolate Almond Croissants – a recipe I put together for 3-6 year olds to make for Mother’s Day breakfast. Of course, they need help as hot ovens are involved but Annabel loves making this as a treat.

INGREDIENTS 
4 croissants
200g good quality chocolate
(milk or plain is fine)
50g flaked almonds
1 tspn icing sugar
METHOD
1.Ask your helper to preheat the oven to 180°c/fan oven 160°c/gas mark 4. Sprinkle the almonds on the smaller baking tray then when the oven is up to temperature, ask your helper to put them in to cook for 3 minutes, until slightly browned.
2.Whilst the almonds are cooking, ask your helper to slice the croissants in half for you. Put the 4 bases on the large baking sheet then break the chocolate into small pieces and sprinkle it over the top. When the almonds are ready, leave them to cool for 5 minutes before sprinkling over the chocolate. Put the tops back on the croissants.
3.Ask your helper to put the croissants in the oven for 5 minutes, until they are warm and the chocolate is melted and oozing. Pop onto a serving plate then sift over a little icing sugar for a fancy finish. Serve whilst still warm.

Chocolate Almond Croissants

March 31, 2007 at 5:03 pm Leave a comment

New Cottage Cooks Website Goes Live!

I’m delighted to announce the launch of our new look Cottage Cooks website, which can be found at www.cottagecooks.co.uk or www.cottagecooks.com . A fantastic new colour scheme and improved shopping cart is bound to be a hit with customers old and new.

By way of celebration, I’m giving blog readers 10% off all orders placed at Cottage Cooks until 1 April 2007. Just enter the following discount code during the checkout process and you’ll be getting your kids cooking (or maybe just treat yourself!)

Cookblog01

 Happy shopping!!

March 4, 2007 at 4:38 pm Leave a comment

From then ‘Til Now

So Jay was fully recovered by the end of January and back to work. The run up to Christmas was extremely busy for Cottage Cooks which is great…..lots of people wanting ot get their children into cooking.

Like many small businesses, January was extremely quiet which gave me a chance to think about where I wanted Cottage Cooks to go and how to achieve that. I was still working 2.5 days at the local hospital but really wanted to give that up and focus all of my time and energies on children’s cooking. Afterall, it has always been my passion.

So I firstly went back to Daneswood Solutions and asked them to modernise the website then go on writing this blog. And now the Cottage Cooks story is upto date, it’ll get really interesting!

March 4, 2007 at 4:28 pm Leave a comment

Like a Casualty Storyline….!

So a few weeks of preparation, grovelling to the bank and mass expenditure saw me ready to go up to the Eve show on 30 November. The show was to run for 5 days so I decided to take all of my stock with me…..not really being able to gauge how much I would be needing.

 I run Cottage Cooks on my own but found a willing helper in the form of one of my nursing colleagues, Terry. She was going to come up for 4 days to help me run the stand and keep me company drinking wine in the evenings. Husband was charged with driving the van of stock up for me then coming back to look after the girls whilst I was away, hopefully making the first Cottage Cooks fortune.

So he came home with a big van which we dutifully loaded up and the three of us were all set to go. Jay was heading out first whilst I got together the last few bits and pieces. He set off but 5 minutes later, I had him shouting from the driveway. Thinking that some moron had cut him up trying to get the van out of our drive, I took little notice………until the shouting continued.

I ran outside and down the drive to find him slumped against a wall saying he’d been crushed by the van. I couldn’t quite grasp what had happened but as he fell to the floor, I figured that it wasn’t just a little bump and he wouldn’t be able to drive the van up after having some painkillers, as he first thought. In hospital later, it turned out that the van had crushed him and fractured his pelvis in 4 places……thank heavens for the presence of my trauma matron friend!

In a moment of self pity though, I watched my Cottage Cooks dreams flit passed me, just out of reach once again. The police came and impounded the van, with all of my stock in it so they could do safety checks and my big promotional ideas went down the drain. With no stock, a critically ill husband and nobody to look after the kids, I wasn’t going to get to Birmingham for this show.

February 24, 2007 at 5:05 pm 1 comment

Glossy Mags and The Times!

It’s all very well running your own business and paying vast amounts of money for advertising. To me though, what really counts is when someone phones you up out of the blue and asks for details so they can feature your business in their magazine.

The first was Eve magazine (for non UK readers, it’s a Good Housekeeping type of mag for 20-35 year olds). They wanted some information on the individual cooking kits we do so they could feature them in an article on children’s cooking. That was great – just a paragraph about Cottage Cooks and the cooking kits, courses, cookie cutters and aprons, but it was written by someone interested in my business!!

Then a journalist from The Times phoned up – they were doing a feature in children’s cooking parties and wanted to know all about our “DIY” themed cooking parties as well as the individual cooking kits. Unfortunately, that article focused on one of my main cooking party rivals (who’ve been established for some years now) but Cottage Cooks still  got a mention as an alternative supplier. A little write-up  in the Times was certainly not to be sniffed at.

Following on from the Eve magazine article, they then contacted me to see if I wanted to take Cottage Cooks to the first Eve Style Show at the Birmingham NEC in December. I was torn as it sounded fabulous but was costly for the stand and my previous experiences of shows weren’t great. But I figured it would be a great time to show off some fantastic products……..after all, a cooking kit or cooking course is a perfect gift for the kids who have everything!!

February 24, 2007 at 4:54 pm Leave a comment

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