Feeding friends

Marvellous mushroom pesto

Marvellous mushroom pesto

This recipe! What's not to love? It's cheap, tasty and packed with goodness in the form of some sneaky spinach. 

One pot wonders: Pearl barley, chorizo and winter vegetable risotto

Why pearl barley? It's perfect for busy families. Unlike risotto rice, which you have to stir constantly, you can just chuck the stock in and leave (almost) alone while you ponder the glaring gender inequalities in Paw Patrol. 

Serves 2 adults and 2 kids


250g butternut squash, peeled and diced

1 large carrot, peeled and diced


1 onion, roughly diced

150g chorizo, sliced into 1cm slices and then halved

Small handful of sage

4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

3 handfuls of pearl barley 

600ml stock (veg or chicken) 

Glug of olive oil 


Heat a good glug of oil in a large pan.

Add the squash, onion and carrot to the pan and cook over a low heat for 15 mins, stirring occasionally.

Add the garlic and chorizo and sage and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring regularly.

Add the pearl barley, stir into the mixture and then pour in the stock. 

Cook on a low heat for 45-50 mins, stirring occasionally. It's ready when the pearl barley is soft but still has a little bite. Season to taste. 

For babies: This is a great weaning recipe. Leave out the chorizo and chop the veg a little smaller, if you'd prefer. Freeze in individual portions straight after cooking. Once defrosted, heat to piping hot, then allow to cool before serving.

Alternatives:  leave out the chorizo for a veggie version. Cook this the day after you have roast chicken, stir in the left over meat with about ten minutes to go. Make sure the chicken is piping hot in the middle.


Cheesy winter vegetable muffins

So easy to make and perfect for feeding kids on the go. You can use any vegetable as long as you can grate it so it's perfect for using up the manky carrots and parsnips in the veg cupboard (it's not just me that has those right?)

These freeze brilliantly and if you grab one on your way out in the morning it'll be defrosted by lunch! 


Makes 10

 225g flour 

3 tsp baking powder

100g mature cheddar

100g finely grated veg (carrot, parsnip, squash etc)

175ml milk

55ml olive or vegetable oil

1 egg

10 cherry tomatoes

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.


Put the flour, baking powder, cheese, veg and a pinch of salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.

In a separate bowl mix the milk, oil and egg together and then add to the other ingredients until thoroughly mixed.  


Half fill the muffin mould and add a cherry tomato to each, then spoon the rest of the mixture on top. 

Bake for 20 minutes at 200 degrees. 

If you don't have a silicone muffin tray then get yourself on Amazon and order one asap - they cost a few £ and make this recipe so straight forward. 



This recipe was inspired by this fab one: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/cheeseandcherrytomat_84142

One pot wonders: Simple sun dried tomato risotto

This dish is so simple but it packs a punch in the flavour stakes and its looks just gorgeous. It only needs a few ingredients and is my go to recipe for veggies, if I don't have time to get to the shops. 


Serves 2

2 red onions, chopped

4 good handfuls Arborio rice

280g jar sun dried tomatoes in oil

125ml white wine

500ml veg or chicken stock

Handful fresh basil

Shake the jar of tomatoes vigorously to mix all the herbs in the oil and then pour 3 tbsp of the oil into a heavy bottomed pan on a medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they soften.

Add the rice and cook for 2-3 minutes until it starts to look translucent, stirring all the time. Add half the wine and keep stirring until it has cooked into the rice and then add the rest. Pour in the stock, a ladle full at a time and keep stirring and wait until it has been absorbed before adding more liquid. It should take around 15 mins to cook, but taste the rice regularly. If you run out of stock just use water. When done the rice will be soft but should still have a bite.

Once cooked take off the heat and add the tomatoes and basil, stir well, season and serve.

**This could easily be adapted for toddlers: the alcohol should evaporate from the wine, but leave that out if you're concerned. I'd add a handful of spinach too to make it a bit more nutritious**


Posh mushy peas

My husband is a mushy pea hater (I mean a serious hater; if they accidentally end up on his plate he has to move them on to mine before eating.) So imagine my surprise when he told me we were having his take on mushy peas with dinner one evening and served this. These beans are now a firm favourite and I've served it to everyone from my 6 month old to dinner party guests.


Serves 2 big and 2 small people

300g frozen broad beans  

2 tbsp olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

A handful of fresh mint (or 1 tsp mint sauce)

1 tbsp mint sauce

Seasoning to taste

 Put the beans in boiling water. Bring back to the boil and cook for three minutes. Drain.

Add the beans and all the other ingredients into a blender and blitz until it reaches your desired consistency.

I think this works better a bit chunkier but if you are feeding to a baby you might want to make it more of a purée. It works just fine without salt but you might want to add some if feeding adults. 

You can serve this hot straight after preparing, but they also work really well as a cold dip. 

Hungover Mother Ketchup

Home made tomato ketchup 

Home made tomato ketchup 

Last Saturday I went to the hen party of one of my oldest friends. Last year, I missed my best friend and my sisters hen parties when L was still tiny. Needless to say I was very excited...All of this is a round about way of saying, last Saturday night I got horribly, horribly drunk. I spent Sunday morning in bed and Sunday afternoon, weakly sipping Lucozade on the sofa. I did absolutely zero mothering or wife-ing that day....but it was was worth it...almost.

In an attempt to assuage my maternal guilt; on Monday I tried something I have wanted to do for months - ever since I realised that L will eat anything I put in front of him if he can dip it in red sauce. 

Every ketchup recipe I found asked for either 30 ingredients or 500g of the finest tomatoes money could buy (I'm looking at you Jamie, Leon, and Hugh). Eventually I decided to wing it, adapting a recipe by preserving and pickling goddess Karen Solomon. Check the original recipe here.

  • 1 large white onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tins of whole tomatoes*
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 50 grams golden caster sugar
  • 110ml white wine vinegar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 5 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1 star anise
  • 10 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Puree the tomatoes in a blender. Tip 3 quarters of the mixture out into a bowl and add the onions to the remaining quarter of the tomatoes and blitz until smooth.

Heat the oil in a deep, heavy bottomed pan and add the onion, tomato puree, cook on a low heat for ten minutes, then add the rest of the tomato mix, along with the sugar and vinegar. Simmer for 15 minutes until it has reduced, stiring every so often. Add the spices** other than the paprika. Cook for 10 more minutes.

What you do next depends on how voracious your ketchup appetite is. If you'll eat it in a month or so then just pop it in a plastic box or clean jar. If you'd like to keep it longer or are making larger quantities then you'll need to sterilise your jars as you would if making jam. BBC Food do a great guide.

*For years I bought basics tinned tomatoes until I realised I was often using double the quantities specified. Tinned toms are one of the few things it's worth spending money on. Italian whole tomatoes are best if your budget will allow.

 **I put the spices in a metal tea leaf holder which I've had lying around for years, but you can just fish them out at the end or when you serve. Taste, season and add the paprika.

Girls night in? My fail safe meal

I've been cooking this dish for friends since my university days. It's a Jamie Oliver classic, which I've played around with over the years. Whenever someone asks me to suggest a dinner party dish, this is the one I recommend. It's so easy - there's practically no prep and everything is cooked in one tray.

Last week my two best friends came over for a long awaited catch up. I was going to sling a couple of pizzas in the oven, but they've both had a crappy few weeks so I thought something nourishing was in order.


  • 3 salmon fillets
  • 350g fine beans
  • 150g cherry tomatoes (more if you fancy which i usually do)
  • 1 tin anchovies (don't throw away the oil)
  • 1 good handful basil
  • 1 lemon
  • Splash red wine vinegar
  • handful of good Kalamata olives (I substitute for caper if i don't have any in)

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees

If the beans come with their little stalks attached, chop these off, but don't take any more of the bean than you need to.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the beans, turn it down to a strong simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Drain. 

Add the tomatoes, beans, olives and basil to a bowl and drizzle with the oil from the anchovy tin, the juice of half a lemon and a splash of red wine vinegar. Toss the mixture so everything is coated in the dressing. Tip the entire mixture in to one side of a baking tray. Lay the anchovies over the top.

Put the salmon fillets on the other side of the baking tray and season.

Cook for 20/25 mins until the salmon is cooked.

When you come to serve, give the bean mixture a bit of a stir so the anchovies crumble. Squeeze the other lemon half over the salmon and serve.

This is a brilliant and healthy meal on its own, but i like to serve with my green lentil salad.

Dinner party salmon recipe

Dinner party salmon recipe

Dinner party salmon recipe