Chicken pie in a pot recipe

Chicken Pie in a pot recipe

Chicken Pie in a potThis is one of our favourite Saturday Night meals – Chicken Pie in a Pot, it’s loosely based on the Chicken, Mushroom and Bacon recipe from Nigella’s Express Cook book but we’ve heavily adapted it for us.

Ingredients

Serves 2

2 Chicken Breasts
1 Large Onion
Handfull of Button Mushrooms
1 Red Pepper
1 Tablespoon all purpose (plain) flour
1/2 pint of chicken stock
Pinch of Salt
Some Pepper
1 Tea Spoon of Ground Thyme
Ready Rolled Puff Pastry Sheet
Olive Oil

How to make

Preheat an oven to 200C

Cut the chicken breasts into small pieces and straight into a bag I use scissors to save time and washing up. Then chop up the onion, mushrooms and peppers and lightly fry them in a pan with some olive oil. In the bag with the chicken add the flour, salt, pepper and thyme – close the bag up and shake!

Once the onions, mushrooms and peppers are sautéed add the chicken flour mix to the pan and brown. Once the chicken starts to colour pour in the chicken stock and stir and then leave to thicken for the amount of time it takes to do the next step.

With the puff pastry unroll and cut some 1cm ish strips. We use our Le Creuset Soup Bowls
and for the kids the Le Creuset Ramekins to cook the chicken pie in a pot and first off you put the thin strip of puff pastry around the lip of the pot. Roughly cut out a circle of puff pastry to go on top of the pot.

Fill the pots with the chicken from the pan and then add the circle of pastry to the top pressing down the edges to seal.

Place the chicken pie pots in the oven for 20 minutes and then eat. We always eat ours with mixed seasonal veg.

Linked up at

Battling the Home Front

 

Toasted pumpkin seeds

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

toasted pumpkin seedsToasted pumpkins seeds are a healthy alternative to peanuts and perfect to make just after Halloween, especially if like us your kids decorated the pumpkins rather than carved them so you still have the seeds inside.

Ingredients for Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin Seeds
1 cal Spary
Rock Salt

Recipe for Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

toasting pumpkin seedsUsing a non stick baking tray spray on 1 cal Cooking Spary – I use an olive oil spary but a sunflower oil would work as well.

With your pumpkin seeds fresh out of the pumpkins wash them in a collander under running water until all the flesh has gone and then turn out onto a paper towel and pat dry.

Place the pumpkin seeds on the baking tray and using a silicon spatula push the seeds around in the oil to coat. Grind over some rock salt on top of the seeds and shake to coat evenly.

Put in a oven at a low heat – around 120C/250F/gas mark 1/2 and place the tray inside. Every 20 mins shake and move around until they are lightly golden – ours took around an hour to cook but this would vary depending on the oven

simple sausage tray bake recipe

Simple Sausage Tray Bake

Getting different dishes into the kids over time can be a challenge and trying to mix something that they like and are willing to eat regularly with new food is one of the things so whilst there is lots of different vegetables in the market we’re trying a simple sausage tray bake.

Sausage and Potato Tray Bake Recipe

Ingredients for Sausage and Potato Tray Bake

2 sausage of your choice per person
1 large potato per person
1/2 Bell Pepper per person
2 or 3 Button Mushrooms per Person
1/2 small onion per person
Oregano
Olive Oil

Method for Sausage and Potato Tray Bake

In baking tray pour in oil and preheat an oven to 200C. Chop up the potatoes into thin slices and lay in the oil and ensure that they are evenly covered

Cut up the sausages into chunks and add to the potato – drizzle with oil and add in some oregano.

Put in the oven for 10 minutes and then add in the pepper, Mushrooms and Onion all chopped up and mix. Cook for a further 35 minutes and then serve.

I liked it with fresh vegetables

Cherry Fruit Scones Recipe

Cherry Fruit Scones Recipe

Being English scones are one of our favourite cakes – I know it’s stereotypical but they are easy to make and do taste delicious. Although none of the kids or my husband will eat cheese scones I do like trying different flavours and these Cherry Scones were a big hit with the kids perfect for a traditional afternoon tea or as a snack after school.
Traditional English Fruit Scones with Cherries in for added flavour

Ingredients for Cherry Fruit Scones Recipe

225g/8 oz self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
40g/1 1/2oz butter cubed
15g/ 1/2oz sugar
150ml/ 1/4 pint milk
50g/2oz mixed dried fruit
8 small glace cherries chopped into quarters

Cherry Fruit Scones Recipe

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F Gas Mark 7 and grease a baking tray. Into a bowl sift the flour, baking powder and salt and then rub in the butter so that you get the mixture the consistency of  bread crumbs.

Add the sugar to the mix and stir then pour in the milk and mix to form a dough and turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead for a short while (this isn’t bread and the more you knead it the less the scones will rise). Then roll out until around 1/2 inch thick and cut using the round part of a pastry cutter.

Place on the baking tray and brush with some milk and then put in the oven for 12 – 15 minutes (depending on your oven), when cooked a lovely golden brown and then turn out onto a wire rack and eat.

Best eaten hot and with clotted cream and homemade Jam.

Fairy and Elf Houses

Well.. with the days slowly getting shorted and the air cooler, many will think “what, the garden, with the kids, now???”….  But there is plenty to do this Autumn in your garden and the great outdoors. One of our favourite activities this time of year, is to build elf houses! Sparked by the appearance of acorns in the parks (aka acorn elves in our house), we collect, we make and then we get crafty in the garden!

Everyone knows, that elves are always “local creatures”. You need to find “local things” and make a local house for them. Which means, having a good look around your garden, finding a safe little spot for the house and bits and pieces to build with. Of course, building materials can be important from the local park… but not too much further than that, else your elves will not feel at home!

Last year we made:

We used bark to form the sides of the house, large leaves for the roof and decorated the elf houses with pinecones stones and courgette flours (the male ones)

This year, we decided on a teepee:

Very exotic! We made it using four twigs for the frame and with long leaves we have from a palm tree in our garden. We tied the palm leave around the four twigs at the top. And then weaved it in and out to make the sides of the tent. If your garden doesn’t have long thin leaves (quite likely), can you make patch work sides out of large leaves? “Sew” them together as per this Leaf Crown).

Then we found a flat stone as a table and used acorn caps for bowls. Lovely. Oh and some people of course:

elf houses

We made the little people the same way as we made these acorn animals. The baby’s cot is made from a chestnut shell.

And now play. And bring your elves some fresh flowers every so often. Maybe bring them the odd blackberry and go foraging with kids.  Make sure they are happy and comfy and at home!

Happy magic garden everyone!

 

How to build a Bug House

Bug House: How to Build a Bug House

how to build a bug houseSpring is in the air, but the air is still a little too chilly to be doing any actual planting. Around here, Toronto, Canada, the first official gardening weekend is May 24th. By that date the cold nights are gone and the sunshine is here to stay…we cannot wait. Until then it’s all about preparing the garden and our outdoor spaces for the summer. We try and plant flowers that draw pollinators to our garden. Insects like bees and butterflies are critical to our eco-system so we try and help them out as much as possible. This year we decided to make a bug house. The idea behind a bug house is to promote the health and increase the presence of “good” bugs in our garden spaces. Some of the bugs we hope to attract, and house, are bees, ladybugs and lacewings. Ladybugs (or ladybirds) and lacewings eat pests like aphids…so they are good in my books. My daughter and I set about making a bug house for our backyard.

1. Cut a large juice container in half.bug house container

2. Cut two slits near the top/side of the container…feed a pipe cleaner end into each slit…creating a hanger for the bug house.bug house hanger

4. Cut straws to fit inside the container…the straws will serve as tight homes for the insects.bug house straws cut

5. Stuff the container with the straws and twigs…stuff it tightly otherwise the straws will come falling out when you go to hang the bug house.bug house straws sticks

6. Once stuffed, find a shady spot to hang your bug house. Since we have a dog, we decided to hang ours higher in our backyard tree…otherwise Arthur would attack it the first chance he got.hanging bug house

Now we wait to see who will come and live in our bug house. My daughter was very keen to work on this project. She was able to cut all the straws and she selected the exact spot where we hung our house. We actually ended up making 2 bug houses…she was so enthusiastic. I love the idea of helping out bugs. Often times we assume all bugs are pests, when in reality many bugs are very helpful in our gardens. What are your favourite bugs in your garden? What bugs do your kids like?

Grow your own Halloween Pumpkin

Planting Pumpkins

Grow your own Halloween Pumpkin

Way back in the Autumn for Halloween we got our pumpkin from the Farm shop near home, opened the top and the kids and I had a very messy morning removing the seeds from it – some we toasted others we dried on the windowsill for a couple of days and then added to a little brown seed package which has sat in my box of seeds all winter until recently when we opened the seeds and started to plant our pumpkins.

Pumpkin ScoopingThere was a huge will they won’t they grow. I thought that seeds from the farm shop  were slightly more likely to grow than seeds from our super market brought one (we didn’t manage to grow any last year ourselves). Planting them we used 6 inch diameter pots and filled the with a mix of Permalite and seed compost.

Planting Pumpkin SeedsThe seed pots were then placed in the green house and watered regularly every evening and the children observe the growth if any of the seeds.

growing halloween pumpkin seeds

 

It’s not even a month since we planted the seeds – the weather has improved – gone are the warm coats and the pumpkin seeds are growing – we have the first set of leaves and it’s possible to see the second set of leaves coming out.

Pumpkin SeedlingsIf you are growing pumpkins for the first time – you haven’t saved seeds from last year then seeds from the store are equally good to grow and likely to be more reliable than seeds from a supermarket pumpkin and you may get a huge pumpkin ready to carve come Halloween.

 

 

 

Growing Carrots from Seeds with Kids - Growing Green Fingered Kids

Growing Carrots from Seeds

Growing Carrots from Seeds with Kids - Growing Green Fingered KidsThe garden is warming up and we’ve started planting out in the beds. Some carrots seem a perfect idea as both of my kids will eat them so with 2 varieties – an Early and a Autumn we should be covered throughout the year (we’ll get some more to plant in Autumn to overwinter).

With a seed bed prepared in advance the weeds removed and soil raked the kids (2 and 3 and a half) were able to set about planting the seeds with minimal help (a hand to hold seeds and sprinkle some more in ensuring that the area was covered.

Digging trenches to plant seeds in

The kids use our seed dibbers to make a suitable trench or the seeds to go into. I know that they will over fill the trench with seeds but that is perfect for some thinning out later in the seasons.

Sprinkling seeds into the trench rows - growing carrots from seeds with kidsThe easiest way for young children to get the seeds into the trenches is to have the seeds on your hand and for them to pick them up from there to sprinkle into the trench to grow. Once the seeds are in the trenches cover up with soil and then water.

Watering in carrot seeds - growing green fingered kidsWe have child sizes watering cans they are traditional metal cans and perfect for little hands to carry even when full of water. Once the seeds were covered they filled up the cans from the water butt and watered them in.

Using homemade labels to label the rows of carrot seeds in the garden - Growing Green Fingered KidsUsing homemade seed labels we marked what was in the rows and now they will grow.

Growing carrots from seed is a great activity for young children to do – as you can see little support is necessary and they can then tend to and have responsibility for their seeds over the growing time.

 

 

 

 

Natural Bird Feeder

Natural Bird Feeder

Cranberry Bird Feeder

Natural Bird FeederWith winter firmly showing it’s presence it’s so important that we feed our native wildlife and in the UK that means birds. We have a few birds that remain all year round and are frequent garden visitors so creating bird feeding stations for them is important for us.

What you need to make a natural bird feeder

Cranberries
Wool
Threading needle (we used a blunt finishing needle)

Making the natural bird feeder

threading cranberriesWith a bowl full of left over Christmas Cranberries we set about making some natural bird feed to hang in the garden. Tying the end of a piece of wool in a large loop and knot the kids started to thread on the cranberries together.

making a cranberry bird feederThe large knitting needle I tied on the other end as with toddler hands it was likely to keep coming lose so with the knot in place the kids could easily thread the cranberries onto the yarn.

winter wildlifeWorking together the two of them thread the cranberries to the end of the yarn and then added another one until they completed the chain. With some help from me we then placed it in the tree for the birds to feed from.

cranberry bird feeder

Check back next week for some more winter wildlife feeder ideas

The carrot seed was one of the first books featured by the Virtual Book Club for Kids - here's some fun gardening activities that were shared by the participants to bring the book alive

The Carrot Seed – Gardening with Books

The carrot seed was one of the first books featured by the Virtual Book Club for Kids - here's some fun gardening activities that were shared by the participants to bring the book alive

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss is a wonderful book about a little boy planting a carrot seed and watching it grow – as part of the Virtual Book Club for Kids it inspired over 20 bloggers to get gardening, playing, creating and learning. Here are the gardening and learning posts that will help you bring the book alive for your kids.

Gardening

Gardening with Book - The Carrot Seed, bringing books alive through gardening and learning

Over on Rainy Day Mum I shared how to make some simple toddler carrot seed and other vegetable labels to use when planting seeds – you will see from our recent gardening posts that we are still using them this year as well.

Little Wonder Days shows how to make a Root Viewer to observe the carrots growing – fantastic for kids to observe what is going on in more detail.

Another great way to observe plant growth – My Buddies and I grew carrot tops in soil to see what happens.

The Educator’s Spin On It give you the low down on why you should or should not grow carrots as well as how to grow them fantastic advice.

Pink Oddy created some fantastic carrot seed pots which could be planted in soil to grow their carrot seeds in (don’t you just love the little carrot tops on them).

Learning with the carrot Seed

Toddler Approved has some great learning activities for The Carrot Seed with colour sorting using M&M’s, playdough mats and even cookies this is full of different ways to learn and have fun bringing the book alive.

Over on The Golden Gleam they brought the carrot seed alive with drama – a great way to learn more about the story and for children to interact with it.

Using carrots in recipes is a great way to incorporate The Carrot Seed book into children’s lives and Connecting Family and Seoul bakes up some Carrot Cookies.

Over on Rainy Day Mum we investigated new growth from old with carrot tops inspired by the book.

There are many more ideas linked up at the Virtual Book Club April 2012 Linky – pop on over and check out some more ideas.