I love making oven dishes for my family. Here are some of the reasons why:
- They fit in my busy schedule. You can often assemble the dish in advance, store it in your fridge or freezer, and warm and crisp it up in the oven when you want to eat it. This means I often make multiple oven dishes in the weekend which can be warmed up after a busy day in the office.
- They are healthy. For my oven dishes I use lots of fresh veg and homemade sauces. All I do is warm the ingredients up. Oven baking a dish filled with fresh ingredient, in my mind, is a lot better than a microwaving or frying instant meals.
- They are easy to prepare. Once your oven dish has been made, any family member that knows how the oven works can prepare dinner. While the dish cooks in the oven, we have time to relax or play, or the rest of the family can drive home from work.
These are our family favorites:
- Traditional lasagna with bolognese sauce and a bechamel and crusty top
- Moussaka – our tasty vegetarian version
- Spinache lasagne
- Gnocchi bake
- Shepards pie – I like using leftovers from a stew and covering this with a layer of mashed potatoes.
The cookies were easy to make. They are best eaten right away, or within 24 hours. This would not be a problem in my home! It is a great way to make use of that overripe banana. The riper your banana gets, the sweeter your cookies will be.
These cookies make a great healthy snack for the entire family. They could even be used as a breakfast cookie along with a smoothy or a tall glass of milk. I tested my cookies on my toddler and my colleagues. They were all amazed at how delicious they were without added sugar.
This simple recipe would also be a great recipe for children to make with very little help from you!
3 ingredient cookies
- 1 overripe banana
- 2 handfulls of quick oats
- 2 handfulls of chocalate chips
- Optional: dried fruit and/or nuts
Mash up your banana and mix your ingredients. Spoon your cookies on a baking sheet. I made 6 smaller cookies, but you could make 3 larger cookies as well.
Bake your cookies in a preheated oven for 20 minutes at 180 degrees C and enjoy!
Find more tips for cooking with toddlers.
There are so many brownie recipes. I have tried so many recipes, for me this recipe’s gives me the best brownies. Slightly dense and moist in the middle, a crunchy top and appropriately chewy.
Best Brownies (makes 18 brownies)
For the batter:
- 100 grams of dark chocolate in chunks
- 150 grams of butter
- 4 eggs
- 200 grams of sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 100 grams of flour
- 55 grams coco powder
- 1 pinch of salt
- 70 grams chopped almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts and/or peanuts
- 70 grams of chocolate, whichever you prefer
- Alternatively you can mix in chuncks of your favorite candy bar (I like Snickers, but any other chocolate candy bar could work)
Every recipe calls for a different order for mixing the ingredients. In my experience it doesn’t really matter how you combine the ingredients, just make sure you don’t cook the eggs with the hot melted chocolate.
- Preheat your oven at 190 degrees C.
- Melt your chocolate and butter above simmering water.
- Line your baking tin (I use a rectangular 15 cm by 30 cm baking tin).
- Take your melted chocolate of the heat, let it cool for a few minutes.
- Mix in the vanilla essence, sugar, this lowers the temperature of the chocolate a little more.
- Combine with the eggs, flour, salt and coco powder.
- Stir in the optional filling.
- Pour the batter in the baking tin and bake for 30 to 40 minutes.
Your cooking time depends on how dense you like your brownies. Sometimes I slightly undercook my brownies. This way I can warm them up later (and cook them a bit more) in the microwave and serve them warm with vanilla ice cream or clotted cream.
In the Netherlands, June 14th will be fathersday this year. Obviously I would like to state that me and my toddler are daddy’s favorites. However, these cookies also go down well. They are a dutch classic: speculaasjes. The dough should be made beforehand, so the spice mix can flavor the entire dough. I recommend making the dough 2 days before fathersday, then making the cookies with your toddlers 1 day before fathersday.
I have this recipe from a dutch classic cooking book aptly named; “Het nieuwe kookboek“. This is a great book for beginners, let’s call it the “silver spoon” of the Netherlands. My toddler and I tested this recipe for valentine’s day and it was a huge hit!
Getting your hands on some real speculaas might be difficult for you, I do promiss you that this festive spice mix will put a smile on your face, it is like cinnamon for grown-ups (although your kids will love it too). For the UK, check out this site, or make your own blend.
Father’s favorite cookies (40 to 50 cookies)
- 110 grams butter
- 90 grams of light brown sugar
- 1 pinch of salt
- 2 tsp of speculaas spice blend
- 1 tbsp of beaten egg
- 100 grams selfraising flower
- Almonds, sugar pieces or sugar decoration
Mix all the ingredients and combine into a ball of dough. Wrap the dough in cling film. Let it rest in the fridge for 1 to 4 days. This will allow for the spices to flavor your dough.
Take the dough out of your fridge 1 hour before rolling it out.
Preheat your oven to 170 degrees C.
Roll out the dough to a thickness of 5 mm. Use flower to prevent your dough from sticking. Cut out any shape you like. Place your cookies on a baking sheet lined with grease proof paper. Sprinkle your decorations, sugar and/or almonds on the cookies and lightly press them in.
Bake your cookies for 20 minutes, take them out to cool on the sheet.
Once cooled, the cookies keep for about a week in an air tight container. My son even decorated his own container for daddy.
Mothers day is in exactly 1 week (in the Netherlands). My mom is getting a homemade gift, from the heart. Here are my top 5 picks;
- My mom loves reading. A personalized bookmark would be a good idea!
- A heartfelt sweet message on a board or a card
- Make an egg cosy with some felt! Perfect combined with a surprise breakfast in bed!!
- Say it with food! Bake a special apple pie
- Make a simple and personal card
I love making soda bread. It makes the perfect dipping material with a freshly made tzaziki or with plain olive oil and vinegar. I inspired this bread on a recipe by Lorraine Pascale. I was out of olives at the time. Which meant adding sweet carrots to the mix, and a matching herb; caraway.
Remember this is a soda bread: Which means no kneading, just mixing and combining! This creates that light and cake-like texture.
Carrot soda bread
- 450 grams self raising flower
- 1/2 tsp of salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup of finely grated carrot
- 2 tsp caraway seeds
- 225 ml water
Preheat your oven at 200 degrees C.
Combine all the dry ingredients and the carrots. Combine the olive oil and water.
Mix all ingredients with fork. When it all seems combined, tip the bowl on your counter and combine into a ball. Place the ball on a baking tray which you dusted with flower against sticking.
Flower the handle of a wooden spoon. Push the handle into your loaf to create, halves, quarters and then 1/8 wedges.
Bake your loaf in the oven for 35 minutes. Leave to cool for 15 mins before eating, bon apetit!
Easter for me symbolizes new beginnings. It is also another occasion to relax and have a good time with people you love. Here’s my new and older suggestions for your Easter preparations:
- Decorate some branches for Easter. Just trim any tree or shrub you like.
- Make your own bread, it’s easier than you think. Read about baking bagels right here. By making the dough on Saturday evening, and doing the first proofing in your fridge, your timing will be perfect for brunch on Easter Sunday.
- Decorate Easter eggs, a fun activity for the whole family. Boiled eggs will keep for a few days in your fridge. Make them a few days in advance. For an even easier alternative: buy boiled eggs.
- Make pancakes for your Easter brunch. The batter can also be made a day in advance and kept in your fridge.
- Bake some yummy cupcakes and ice them in easter colors.
- After hunting for Easter eggs, hand out home made bags to take your treasures home.
- Looking for more ideas? Check out my Pinterest Easter Board.