In my eyes, Italian food has to be one of the most child-friendly cuisines in the world, in the same way Italian restaurants are very often the most child-friendly places to eat with little ones in tow.
Italian dishes feature frequently in my family meal plans. There’s the now staple penne with pesto or a simple tomato sauce, spaghetti with meatballs, crowd-pleasing macaroni cheese and homely lasagne. There’s pizza and calzone – both the homemade and from-the-freezer varieties. There’s gnocchi and minestrone soup and risotto. And then there’s the puddings – the ice creams and semi-freddo, the tirimisu and panna cotta.
So for our latest Family Foodies challenge, we’re inviting food bloggers to share their favourite family-friendly, Italian-inspired dishes. From the traditional and authentic to your own unique twists on Italian classics, all are welcome at our Italian-themed feast.
Whenever I lift the lid on a jar of allspice berries, that gorgeous aroma instantly gives me a warm, Christmassy feeling. Along with cloves, allspice is pretty much synonymous with festive bakes and cakes. Yet there is so much more to allspice than Christmas cake… Continue reading “December’s Spice Trail: cooking with allspice”→
There’s nothing quite like a big family feast or party to mark the season’s festivities. Whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Eid, Diwali or Hanukkah, food’s at the heart of it all.
Whatever you’re celebrating, this month on the Family Foodies challenge we want to hear about your favourite family foods and drinks that are guaranteed to get your party started. Continue reading “Festive family foodies”→
Enter your Summer Spice dishes to win a fantastic gift set from Holy Lama Spice Drops!
I’m giving you almost completely free reign with your choice of spice in this month’s Spice Trail challenge. So long as your dish has a sense of summer about it and a splash a spice, then it fits the bill.
Your dish could come from any of the four corners of the world, be sweet or savoury, snack or main course, drink or dessert – the choice is completely yours. Just so long as it’s a) spicy and b) summery, and I’ll be happy!
Holy Lama! What a prize!
This month the lovely Gouri Kubair from Holy Lama (a chartered accountant turned serious foodie) is our guest judge and she’s offering an amazing prize for one very lucky winner – a gift set of summery Holy Lama Spice Drops, including fennel seed, mint, lemongrass, rose and pepper, presented in a beautiful handcrafted wooden stand.
The Spice Drops range of products, which recently came in the top 5 in Ocado’s ‘Top Supplier’ competition, are concentrated extracts of natural spices and herbs in the form of drops, offering a simpler, more consistent way to infuse food and drink with pure, vibrant flavours. Forget peeling, grinding, scraping and measuring and simply add a drop or two at any stage of the cooking process. Spice Drops contain no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, and a few drops go a long way!
What’s more, Holy Lama manufactures their products in an ethically-run factory employing marginalised women in the local community in Kerala, India.
Hot on the heels of The Spice Trail, today I bring you news of a second blog event I am hosting here on Bangers & Mash this month.
Family Foodies is the brain child of Lou at Eat Your Veg and I was thrilled when she invited me to co-host this recipe-sharing challenge with her. October was the inaugural month and the Weekend Slowies theme attracted a fantastic array of tempting recipes, providing lots of ideas for delicious family food to cook when you have a little more time to spend in the kitchen.
Now it’s my turn to host the challenge and for November the theme is Lunchbox Ideas.
Every parent and carer knows how easy it is to get stuck in a rut when it comes to thinking up tasty and appealing fillers for packed lunches. So come on fellow food bloggers – let’s get together and pool our ideas for easy, healthy ways to fill our children’s tummies, make sure they get their five-a-day, tickle and tantalize their taste buds, all while giving them a loving, foodie ‘hug from home’.
Whether it’s suggestions for nutritious sandwich fillings or different types of homemade bread or wraps, new takes on salads or dips, or inspiring twists on muffins, flapjacks or other home-baked goodies – we want to know what your children love to eat in their lunchboxes and how to give them them the energy boost and brain power they need for the afternoon ahead.
Oh, and there just might be a prize for the best lunchbox idea at the end of the month too!
Family Foodie Entry Guidelines:
You may submit any recipe on your blog that fits this month’s theme, new or from the archive, and feel free to enter as many times as you wish. You’re also welcome to submit the post to other challenges too. If the recipe is not your own, please give the appropriate credit.
Display the Family Foodies badge (above) on your recipe post, with a link back to both Eat Your Veg and Bangers & Mash, as well as details of this month’s challenge.
If you’re on Twitter, then please tweet your post to myself @BangerMashChat and Lou @Eat_Your_Veg and include the hashtag #FamilyFoodies. We’ll retweet all that we see.
You may enter from anywhere in the blogosphere, and we’ll happily post out any prizes.
At the end of the month a guest judge will choose a winning recipe. The winner will be announced in a monthly round-up of all the entries. Winners will get to display a Family Foodie Winner annotated badge on their blog if they wish and their recipe will go through to the Family Foodies Hall of Fame on each of our sites.
Celebrate cooking with spices and win a Mexican recipe box
This month a new challenge comes to Bangers & Mash: The Spice Trail – a monthly food bloggers’ event, showcasing dishes from all around the world that celebrate cooking with spices. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m ever so slightly partial to cooking with spices myself. Being a family cook with two daughters (aged five and eight), some people are surprised at how much spice features in my food and I’m often asked how I persuade my children to eat spicy food or whether I have to prepare them separate meals in order to satisfy my personal spice cravings. Thankfully my girls are pretty adventurous most of the time. They were introduced to spices when I was weaning them onto solid foods, and possibly even earlier – when they were in the womb. (Both babies were overdue and I consumed an awful lot of spicy curries in those final days of pregnancy hoping to bring on labour!) Jess and Mia might not always be up for hotter, pungent spices but they’re more than happy to tuck into foods flavoured with spices like coriander, cumin, paprika, cardamom, turmeric, cinnamon – the list goes on. Family food doesn’t have to be bland food. So through this new challenge, I plan to offer you some of the beautifully spiced foods I like to feed my family – and I hope you will join in and share your favourite spicy foods too. Every month there will be a different theme; sometimes a specific spice, other times a particular world cuisine or type of food.
November’s challenge: cooking with chillies
To launch The Spice Trail, our first month’s theme is Cooking with Chillies and I’m really excited to see what delicious chilli recipes you have up your sleeves. My husband and I are both self-confessed chilli-heads and it’ll be fantastic for us to have a stock of new chilli recipes to work our way through. Technically, chillies are only classed as a spice when they are dried or powdered, but I’m more than happy to accept recipes this month featuring fresh chillies as well. Quite simply, I love chilli in any form!
Win a Kitchen Nomad Mexican recipe box
Think of chilli and probably one of the first cuisines that comes to mind will be Mexican. That’s why I’ve teamed up with Kitchen Nomad for the winning prize for this first challenge, as their recipe box this month is full of the hot and spicy flavours of Mexico. The recipes in Kitchen Nomad’s Mexican box are from Thomasina Miers, an English cook, writer and television presenter. In 2005 she won the BBC cookery competition MasterChef, and she is founder of the Wahaca chain of Mexican street food restaurants. Dishes include stuffed chillies, black bean soup, rajas tacos and chilli honey crumble. I subscribe to Kitchen Nomad’s boxes and I am thoroughly enjoying working my way thorugh this month’s recipes and ingredients.
How to enter The Spice Trail
Display the The Spice Trail badge (on the left and also available here) on your recipe post, and link back to this challenge post. You may enter as many recipe links as you like, so long as they feature this month’s key ingredient – chilli (fresh, dried or powdered). Send your recipe URL to me at vanesther-at-reescommunications-dot-co-dot-uk, including your own email address and the title of your recipe or post. The closing date this month is Thursday 28 November 2013. If you tweet your post, please mention #TheSpiceTrail and me @BangerMashChat in your tweet and I’ll retweet each one I see. Feel free to republish old recipe posts, but please add the information about this challenge and The Spice Trail badge. As entries come in, links to these will be added to this page. At the end of the month a guest judge will choose a winning recipe and the winner this month will receive a fabulous Mexican-themed food box from the good people at Kitchen Nomad. The winner will be announced in a monthly round-up of all the entries. All entries will be added to The Spice Trail Pinterest Board. I can’t wait to see what dishes you come up with for The Spice Trail. Any questions, please tweet or email me.
So here we are, the final month of Recipes for Life, the challenge I launched back in February with the charity SWALLOW to help its cookery club find tasty new recipes for members to make themselves.
We decided to go right back to basics for this last challenge and our final three ingredients are milk, eggs and flour. You can’t get more basic than that now, can you?
What would you make with eggs, milk and flour? The options are wide open. Sweet or savoury; breakfast, lunch or dinner (or breakfast, dinner or tea!), or even supper – the choice is yours.
As ever you can add any extra ingredients you fancy but just please make sure they are the kind of thing you’d find in most fridges or store cupboards, or else easily and cheaply available in any supermarket or grocery store. Full guidelines on how to take part are below.
The plan is to include the best recipes from the seven months of the challenge in SWALLOW’s new cookery book. SWALLOW is a Somerset-based charity, supporting adults with learning disabilities to lead more independent lives. They run a wide range of programmes for its members, empowering them with the skills and experiences to live their lives to the full, from therapeutic art courses and drama groups to domestic and work-based training.
As part of its Fit for Life programme, SWALLOW runs cookery courses, helping members learn to prepare simple, inexpensive and nutritious meals. SWALLOW is looking for new recipes for its members to cook on the course, and ultimately to include in its cookbook, that don’t require a lengthy list of ingredients and aren’t incredibly complicated to make.
We’ve had a fantastic response from the food blogging community to date, offering a diverse collection of tasty, cheap and easy dishes made from everyday ingredients. Let’s see if we can make this month the best month yet!
Recipes for Life: how to enter
Display the Recipes for Life badge (shown above and available here) on your recipe post, and link back to this challenge post.
You may enter as many recipe links as you like, so long as they are based on the three main ingredients selected for this month and accompanied only by everyday items.
Oats, berries and honey were the three set ingredients for July’s installment of the Recipes for Life challenge and I was rather impressed with the variety of dishes we received.
While we might not have attracted as many entries as in previous months, I’d say it was definitely a case of quality over quantity and the team at SWALLOW still had a pretty tough job to decide the winner. But before we make that announcement, let’s run through the entries…
Another entry I could easily see myself scoffing for breakfast are these deliciously virtuousHoney Nut Granola and Raspberry Yogurt Parfaits from Iris at Whatever Gets You Through The Day. Like Iris, granola is one of my favourite foods and I love the look of hers. Everybody should make their own granola!
Regular readers of this blog might have noticed I’m rather partial to a fruit smoothie. They’re a pretty standard feature of our more leisurely weekend breakfasts in the Bangers & Mash household. TheseStrawberry & Honey Super Smoothies are a tasty and energising way to start the day.
Elizabeth from Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary brings us another granola as her entry. HerFruit & Nut Granola is jam-packed with juicy fruity nutty goodness and I’m definitely stealing her idea of using cashew nuts next time I make up a jar.
Martin from Spurs Cook always comes up with surprisingly ingenious entries and this month was no exception. Check out his Duck with a Honey & Oats Crust and Berries Compote – not something you’d expect to see here, right? But it looks pretty damn good nonetheless.
Another inventive entry comes from Rich at Rich in Flavour with these gorgeous Blueberry and Oat Drop Pancakes, for a deliciously lazy Sunday brunch with a clever combination of the classic winter breakfast, porridge and the American pancake of choice, blueberry. I do look forward to trying them out myself.
Helen from The Crazy Kitchen has been a fantastic stalwart of the Recipes for Life challenge and despite being away on holiday she still managed to get an entry in this month. Her Chewy Honey & Oatmeal Cookies with Summery Berry Jam look absolutely irresistible and I’m rather taken with the notion of serving cookies with homemade jam.
The final entry is one of mine but technically I shouldn’t really allow it as it features cherries which of course are not actually a berry. This really didn’t occur to me until I was posting the recipe last week but I went and entered it anyway. Cherries are very similar to berries, aren’t they? And you could easily substitute them for blueberries or blackberries. Anyway, here are my Cherry Crumble Muffins.
So there you go – July’s mouth-watering entries for Recipes for Life. Which one would you choose to win? I’m very glad the decision wasn’t down to me. That was the task for the team at SWALLOW, who are collecting recipes for their cookery club to try out, the best of which will appear in their new cookbook coming out later in the year. So which one did they go for? Drum roll please…
This month’s winner is the talented Martin from Spurs Cook with his Duck with a Honey & Oats Crust and Berries Compoteand a very deserving winner he is too. Huge congratulations to Martin – a little something will be on its way to you shortly from SWALLOW.
That really should have been the last month of the Recipes for Life challenge but due to ‘popular demand’ we have decided to extend it by another month. Watch this space for news of the next three ingredients. Will you rise to the final challenge?
We slurp our way through a fair few smoothies in our house. They’re the perfect way to use up ripe bananas, especially when it’s way too hot to consider baking banana bread, and they are a brilliantly healthy start to the day. Although saying that, quite often our smoothies are rather indulgent, especially when my husband makes them with lots of vanilla ice cream.
This strawberry and honey super smoothie is of the healthy variety. It features a couple of spoonfuls of rolled oats, making it extra thick and creamy and perfect for a fuel-filled breakfast.
And of course they’re ridiculously easy to make, which is essential first thing in the morning.
Simply pop all the ingredients into your food blender and whizz until smooth and frothy. That’s it.
Serve alongside your bowl of cereal or dippy eggs and soldiers for a top brekkie.
Because these super smoothies are so easy to rustle up and contain this month’s trio of ingredients (honey, oats and berries), I’m entering them into the Recipes for Life challenge, which I also happen to be hosting.
July is the penultimate month for Recipes for Life. Each month we challenge food bloggers to create tasty, healthy and easy-to-make dishes using three key ingredients.
I’m running the challenge on behalf of a brilliant charity called SWALLOW, which supports adults with learning difficulties. Their cookery club will have a go at making the recipes themselves and the best ones will be included in a new cookbook later in the year.
Perhaps you’d like to get involved in the challenge? Find out more here.