Tag Archives: family cooking

Recipe: Easy Pesto Baked Fish – family meal favourite!

If you were to ask my family what their favourite meal is, it would be Pesto Baked Fish. If you were to ask me what the quickest, healthiest meal I make is, it would be Pesto Baked Fish. It takes me about 2 minutes to prepare and 15 minutes to cook. The fish just seems to evaporate from their plates as soon as I put it in front of them. It’s a speedy-dinner winner!

We are very lucky to have a good traditional fishmonger in our village. I always try and buy my fish from there; it’s good to shop local when you can and the fish is incredible quality. It’s so fresh and they can bone it and prepare it any way I want. For this recipe I use one fillet of white fish per person. I was cooking for the boys so I needed two fillets of skin-on white fish. The sea bass looked great, so I opted for that. I have also bought some plaice fillets and put them in the freezer for another week.

Recipe: Easy Pesto Baked Fish - a family meal favourite!

If you don’t have a fishmonger local to you; you can buy packets of skin-on fillets of fish from the supermarket. You can choose any white fish you like the look of. I’ve made this with plaice, sole, cod, haddock or bass. If you’re cooking a thicker fillet of fish like cod, make sure you cook it for a bit longer to allow for the extra thickness of the fish.

The NHS recommends that we eat two portions of fish each week, with at least one portion being oily fish such as salmon. I’m sure this recipe would also work well with salmon, but my boys find it a bit boring and much prefer the white fish. The white fish I choose is low in fat, an excellent source of protein and contains some of those omega-3 fatty acids which are essential to our diet.

Pesto Baked Fish

Ingredients:
1 fillet of fish per person
Freshly ground pepper
1 heaped spoon of pesto, red or green pesto work equally well
1 teaspoon of breadcrumbs
A small knob of butter

Method:
Pre-heat your oven to 200°.

Check your fish over for bones and remove any that you find. Put your fish skin side down on a baking tray which has been covered in baking parchment. Grind some black pepper over the top and put a dab of butter on the paper either side of the fish.

Spread a heaped teaspoon of pesto over the fish. You can use red or green pesto, whichever is your favourite, both work well. Scatter your breadcrumbs over the pesto. I have a tub of dried breadcrumbs in my cupboard, but I have used fresh breadcrumbs. Both kinds are fine, use whichever you have to hand.

Recipe: Easy Pesto Baked Fish - a family meal favourite!

Bake in your pre-heated oven for 15 minutes (or longer if your fish fillets are thick). Check they’re cooked through, they should be starting to brown slightly at the thin edges. Once they’re cooked, take them out of the oven and serve.

Recipe: Easy Pesto Baked Fish - a family meal favourite!

As you can see I’ve served my fish today with creamy mashed potato and vegetables. In the summer it is accompanied by new potatoes and a lovely fresh salad. It’s a flexible, simple summer which is guaranteed to be wolfed down every time by my hungry boys.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you might also enjoy my 55 ideas for family meals your kids will actually eat.Recipe: Easy Pesto Baked Fish - a family meal favourite!

55 ideas for family meals your kids will actually eat

If you’re looking to save money and eat well for less, the key really is meal planning. Sitting down each week, planning a menu of tasty family meals and only buying what you need can save your family an awful lot of time and money. I try where I can to meal plan, setting out a fortnightly menu and then doing a big online shop for everything I need. This saves me so much time and money, plus knowing what I’m cooking on whichever night takes the thinking out of it.

It’s easy for me to say the meal planning is the key to success, but I can guarantee that when I sit down with my blank piece of paper to plan out the next 14 family meals, I cannot think of one single family meal. Over the last few months I’ve been putting together a list of the meals I’ve made, so when meal planning day arrives I just have a quick look through my list for inspiration and then get down to work.

Family meals: Rich and Creamy Fennel & Potato Gratin

If you’re stuck for ideas for family meals your family will actually eat, below you will find a list of 55 family meals that we cook on a fairly regular basis, where there is a recipe for that dish on my blog I have included a link to it.

55 ideas for family meals your family will actually eat

Baked butternut squash
Baked fish and vegetables
Battered or breaded fish and chips
Beef or mushroom stroganoff
Beef stew
Burgers
Cauliflower cheese
Chicken casserole served with potato gratin
Chicken Kievs
Chilli con carne
Cottage pie
Curry and rice
Dahl
Egg and chips
Fajitas
Fish pie
Fish wraps
Fishcakes
Fishfingers chips and beans
Full English
Galette (a bit like a pie)
Gnocchi
Homemade Chicken nuggets or goujons
Homemade soup
Hot dogs or these pizza hot dogs
Imam Bayildi (Baked aubergines)
Jacket potatoes
Jacket sweet potatoes with sour cream and spring onions
Jamie Oliver’s Butternut Squash Penne Pasta
Lancashire Hotpot
Lasagne
Lentil cottage pie
Macaroni cheese
Macaroni peas
Omelette
Pasta bake
Pesto pasta
Pie and mash
Pizza – shop bought or homemade
Quiche
Risotto
Roast dinner
Sausages and mash
Sausage casserole
Sausage ragu
Shepherds pie
Spaghetti and meatballs
Spaghetti Bolognese
Spanish style sausages in bravas sauce
Spinach and ricotta cannelloni
Stir fry
Sweet and sour pork or chicken
Thai style curry
Toad in the Hole
Tuna and Sweetcorn Pasta Bake

55 family meal suggestions – that’s not a bad place to start from is it? I hope you’ve found some inspiration. I’ll be adding to this list as time goes on, so expect it to grow and grow.

What are your favourite family meals? Have I missed anything essential off my list?

55 ideas for family meals your family will actually eat

New Healthy Ready Meals from Goodlife Foods

I’ve been a vegetarian for nearly 30 years now and I’ve often felt that vegetarians get a poor deal when it comes to ready meals. Visit any supermarket and your choice is lasagne or an insipid curry. I was pleased when I discovered that Goodlife Foods (who make a properly interesting range of veggie foods) have just started selling a small but interesting range of ready meals. 

New Healthy Ready Meals from Goodlife Foods

The new range from Goodlife Foods features two well thought out meals. Each containing 3 portions of veg and both look like the healthiest ready meals I’ve ever had in my freezer. Both of the ready meals take 8 minutes to cook from frozen in your microwave, or 35 minutes in the oven. They’re currently available online at Morrisons and Iceland and cost just £2 each. But how do they taste?

The 3 Bean Chilli with Cauliflower Rice is packed full of beans and other vegetables including sweetcorn, tomatoes and peppers. It’s served with cauliflower rice which I thought might be bland, but was a surprising hit with us all. The chilli was spicy without being too much and was well flavoured with heavy hints of smoked paprika.

New Healthy Ready Meals from Goodlife Foods

The 3 Bean Chilli with Cauliflower Rice is low fat, high in protein and full of fibre. It is Vegetarian Society approved and suitable for vegans. This 400g portion contains just 276 calories, which makes it perfect if you’re counting calories.

The second ready meal we tried was the Vegetable Masala with Cauliflower Rice. I was worried this would be yet another disappointing curry, but I was very much mistaken.

The vegetable masala was rich and creamy and tasted far naughtier than it was. The contents of the curry had been well thought out and I was pleased to see a smattering of lentils in the mix as well as chickpeas, red peppers and chucks of roasted sweet potato. It was quite delicious and I was very impressed with the depth of flavour of this meal.

New Healthy Ready Meals from Goodlife Foods

The Vegetable Masala with Cauliflower Rice is a tiny bit naughtier than the chilli butt still manages to only be 294 calories per 400g portion. It’s slightly higher in fat than the chilli, but still contains 3 portions of vegetables and is Vegetarian Society approved (it’s not suitable for vegans though). 

Both my husband and myself go through phases of being on the 5:2 diet, so these ready meals are perfect for those fast days. We were both really impressed with these Goodlife ready meals and we’re total converts to cauliflower rice now.

These meals are the kind of thing we can throw in the microwave after a busy day without having to worry about how bad what we’re eating is for us; in fact we can feel quite virtuous after eating these virtually guilt free meals!

You can find out more about Goodlife Foods including finding your local stockist and their full range on their website.

 
Note: I was sent these products for review purposes, all images and opinions are my own.

Three Meat-Free Monday ideas from Goodlife Foods

As the head chef in our house, it falls to me to put dinner on the table most nights. I’m a vegetarian, but the boys aren’t and I like to have a balance of meals through the week which suit us all. Maybe three nights a week they get something meaty and the rest of the time they will happily tuck into something we can all eat. I’m always on the lookout for meat-free Monday ideas to keep things interesting for us all.

This week we’ve been trying out some of the vegetarian meals from Goodlife Foods and in the process discovered some great Meat-Free Monday ideas.

Meat Free Monday ideas from Goodlife Foods

We loved this wholemeal pita stuffed with lovely crunchy salad and chickpea falafel with a side of slaw. These Moroccan style chickpea falafel from Goodlife are packed with spices and are just 39 calories each; making them perfect for a light meal. I always think falafel are really versatile, my freezer is rarely without a packet.

Meat Free Monday ideas from Goodlife Foods

Another favourite from the range was this Mushroom and Spinach Kiev. The Kiev is packed with mushrooms and spinach which hides an oozing creamy garlic and cheese sauce, and is coated in a crunchy seeded breadcrumbs. Although it’s not a stunner on the plate, it is absolutely delicious and just garlicky and cheesy enough. Served with some of our favourite veg – sweet potato mash, French beans and chantenay carrots, this was a cracking meal we could feel virtuous about. Each Kiev is 290 calories, so this was a good meal we didn’t need to feel bad about.

Meat Free Monday ideas from Goodlife Foods

My own personal favourite was the French Bean and Spinach sausages. They are so flavoursome, even my pork sausage loving boy tucked into them and demanded seconds. The sausages are filled with French beans, petit pois, fresh spinach, a pinch of nutmeg and a mild crumbly Wensleydale cheese. 

They are incredibly versatile. I served them with buttery mashed potato, French beans, garden peas and veggie gravy. They’d be fantastic in a wrap or sandwich, or thrown in with some creamy pesto pasta and they’re only 86 calories per sausage. They have lots of other sausage flavours too, I need to track down their beetroot and feta for a start!

Three Meat Free Monday ideas from Goodlife Foods

Goodlife Foods have been creating vegetarian sausages, vegan burgers, vegetable based kievs and falafels in the UK for over 25 years. They work with framers across the UK to sow, grow and harvest the best vegetables at their peak, so they know that their veg is fresh and tasty.

Whether you’re having a Meat-Free Monday, feeling flexitarian or you’re committed to a full-time vegetarian diet, Goodlife have a really interesting and tasty selection of frozen foods to help you mix things up and create great family meals.

Three Meat-Free Monday ideas from Goodlife Foods

I’ve been buying Goodlife products whenever I’ve seen them for years. You can find them in the freezer section in Booths, Waitrose, Ocado and Iceland, amongst other places. I’ve tended to keep them just for me; but now I’ve seen my boys tuck into them with gusto, I guess I’m buying them for the whole family now. It’s lovely to see such dedicated carnivores tucking into a very obviously veggie sausage and asking for more!

You can find out more about Goodlife Foods including finding your local stockist and their full range on their website.

Note: I was sent these products for review purposes, all images and opinions are my own.

Books: Easy Indian Supermeals for Babies, Toddlers and the Family

I’ve always been a cook from scratch kind of girl, I love cooking and creating in the kitchen and my shelves heave with cook books. Despite all this sometimes my well of culinary inspiration runs dry. I was sent a copy of Easy Indian Supermeals for Babies, Toddlers and the Family by Zainab Jagot Ahmed to review, which is just as well, it was high time I spiced things up in the kitchen!

This colourful, hard-backed book contains 65 easy, nutritious recipes “inspired by” Indian cuisine for children aged 7 months to 5 years. We have a four year old, so we’ve well and truly passed the weaning stage, however Easy Indian SuperMeals contains a good 20 or so informative pages all about family nutrition and weaning.

Quite often I’m put off cooking Indian food because the list of ingredients is intimidatingly long, this isn’t really the case with this book, the recipes seem to be simple in both ingredients and method, they’re also quick, easy and nutritious. Each recipe introduction highlights the nutritional benefits of the meal. We’ve never been big fans of cooking different meals for different family members, what we cook we all eat, so having this nutritional information is beneficial.

Easy Indian SuperMeals

One of our favourite home made Indian recipes we cook quite often is Matter Paneer, so we chose this recipe to see if it met our usual standards. The recipe seemed slightly easier, with fewer ingredients, most of the recipes suggest leaving out salt and any spice and adding it to the adult food at the end of cooking, which we largely did, though at 4 he likes a little kick to his food.

As you can see from the pictures above, our meal looked like the picture in the book and it was a very good curry, better than our usual version. The recipes in Easy Indian SuperMeals do seem to contain lots of healthy vegetables, which is great for me as a veggie and I look forward to trying a few more recipes, such as the Bhindi Masala Curry and the Super Quick Bombay Potatoes.

My only criticism really is that I’d like each recipe to state how many of the five portions of fruit and vegetables a day they contain per portion. I know it’s fairly easy to work out, but an at-a-glance indicator would be useful to me as a mum.

It’s a great book for families who want to tantalise their toddlers taste-buds as well as for those wanting to spice up family meals. It’s the kind of book I’ll use every week, experiment with, lend to friends and splatter the pages with bits of my cooking. Recommended.

Note: I was sent a copy of Easy Indian Supermeals for Babies, Toddlers and the Family free of charge for review purposes. All images and opinions are my own.

What’s your “can’t be bothered” tea?

As the clock struck 5pm, two hungry boys looked at me expectantly. They wanted feeding and I had neither an array of exciting ingredients, nor the motivation to throw them together to create a delicious and nutritious meal.

I am largely a cook it from scratch girl, but with a lazy streak. I’ll cook double the amount of chilli and freeze half for a lazier day. Tonight I was all can’t be bothered, so I threw together a pan of pasta and pesto and we all chowed down. There are worse things to eat, but it was a meal of fuel rather than fancy, but that was fine.

Afterwards I sat down with my iPad and tweeted this…

Can't be bothered

I was interested because I can’t remember a time before pasta and pesto, it kind of arrived on the culinary scene just as I toddled off to uni and formed the basis of many, many meals there. So much so I couldn’t eat it for about three years after I left. My tweet brought a small flurry of responses…

Can't be bothered

Can't be botheredimageimageimageimage

There are some pretty interesting responses here. Easy stuff on toast and pasta six ways seems to be the order of the day. I wonder if it’s just me who feels a bit of parental guilt about not providing a meal containing seven vegetables and an organic, free-range source of protein. Sometimes a family with full bellies is all that you need to call a meal time a success.

It’s hard to make time to prep and cook a from scratch meal every night, it doesn’t matter what Jamie Oliver says, I defy him to cook a meal with a child clinging to his leg screeching “but I’m hun-grreeeeee”. A mid-week can’t be bothered meal is nothing to feel bad about. Honest.

What’s your favourite can’t be bothered meal? I am genuinely interested.