Millie’s Chilli

My  nine-year old daughter Millie has suddenly developed a passion for cooking. I would like to think that I was the inspiration behind it, but I think it is more than likely sprung from watching the television, particularly Junior Bake-Off and Junior Masterchef on CBBC.

Whatever the source of her inspiration, I support her new passion, even if it does mean, which so far it hasn’t that I have to eat some disastrous meals.

I also have promised to share some of her recipes, starting with her child-friendly version of chilli con carne which is something that any kid can make with a bit of guidance from an adult. It is based on my chilli con carne recipe, but she has taken out most of the heat to make more child friendly.

Continue reading “Millie’s Chilli”


Chilli Con Carne, the kids will love it!

There are millions of variations of the chilli con carne recipe, but this is a basic, easy and quick version that you can use as a base to create your own special chilli recipes.

This recipe is designed to be a low cost alternative to a take-away.

  • Preparation time: less than 30 minutes
  • Cooking time: 30 minutes to an hour
  • Skill level: easy
  • Serves: 4


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 250g/9oz beef mince
  • ½-1 tsp chilli flakes, to taste
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 x 400g/14oz tin chopped tomatoes
  • 500ml/18fl oz stock, made from a stock cube (ideally beef, but chicken will work)
  • ½ tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 2 x 400g/14oz tin red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Preparation method

  1. Heat a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the olive oil and once hot fry the onion with a pinch of salt for five minutes, or until soft and translucent.
  2. Add the garlic and cook for two minutes.
  3. Add the mince, along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix well and cook for 5-6 minutes, or until there are no raw bits of meat.
  4. Add the chilli flakes, tomatoes, stock and dried herbs. Stir to mix well and bring to a simmer.
  5. Pour in the drained kidney beans and simmer gently for 30 minutes or until the chilli is thickened and rich. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. (I added a few dashes of chilli powder)

Serving suggestion

Serve the chilli on top of some Mexican rice, with a spoonful or two of soured cream on top of each portion. Eat while hot.

Banana Pancakes… don’t forget the eggs!

This is a recipe that I found in the January edition of Good Food Magazine, and I immediately thought of two things when I saw it… The first was that Jack Johnson once sang a song about Banana Pancakes and the second was, my kids will love this!

So with my humble cookery magazine and a bit of Jack Johnson for inspiration I decided that I would cook up a weekend treat for my girls… And all seemed to be going well, except that the mixture was a bit thick, but having never made these delectable treats I just thought that was the way it was… So I cooked up a stack and we all tucked in, and to be honest, they were not terrible but certainly they were not as good as I hoped…

…And about an hour later I learned why my little pancake adventure was not the roaring success I had hoped for when my wife yelled out from the kitchen “what are these eggs for on the counter???”

That is when I realised that I had made up the batter, but had forgotten to put in any eggs.

The next weekend I tried them again, and I must say they are a nice tasty weekend breakfast, but remember to check that you added the eggs to the mixture, they truly make all the difference.

  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: 20 minutes
  • Serves: 4 people (makes around 10 pancakes)


  • 140 g/5 oz self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp light soft brown sugar
  • 2 ripe bananas, 1 mashed, one thinly sliced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 25 g/1 oz butter, plus a little extra for cooking
  • 125 ml/4 oz milk
  • maple syrup (to serve)


  1. Mix the flour, baking powder and sugar. Make a well in the center and add the mashed bananas, eggs, butter and milk.
  2. Heat a little butter in a large frying pan, then ladle in small dollops of the pancake batter, leaving a little  space between each. Put 2 or 3 slices of banana on each and cook for 2 minutes over a medium heat. When you see bubbles appear between the banana slices flip the pancake over and cook for one minute more, until puffed up and golden.


Reindeer Cupcakes; give your kids the gift of baking this Christmas

There is nothing more fun for me than getting the kids into the kitchen, making a bit of a mess and creating a yummy treat. This Saturday the girls and I made some yummy Reindeer themed cupcakes, based on an idea from the Christmas edition of GoodFood magazine, which were delicious and easy enough that even a seven and eight year old can make them (though I did put them in the oven… It’s a bit hot in there).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Step one: Make the Cakes

 You can use any chocolate cupcake recipe you want for these cakes, but the one we used has lots of yummy chocolately goodness because it uses melted chocolate and not just cocoa powder.


  • 200 g/7 oz butter, cubed
  • 200 g/7 oz plain chocolate broken into squares
  • 200 g/7 oz light soft brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250 g/7 oz self-raising flour


  1. Heat the oven to 160°C/Gas 3.
  2. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases. This is a good job for the little ones.
  3. Gently melt the butter, sugar, chocolate and 100 ml of water together in a large saucepan, stirring occasionally.
  4. Set aside to cool slightly while you weigh the other ingredients.
  5. Stir the eggs and vanilla into the chocolate mixture.
  6. Put the flour into a large bowl and then combine with the chocolate mixture stirring until smooth.
  7. Spoon into the cake cases until they are around ¾ full.
  8. Bake on a low shelf in the oven for 20-22 minutes
  9. Leave to cool.

Step two: Ice the cakes

You could use ready-made icing or if you are feeling adventurous you could make your own using your favourite recipe or the one below:


  • 200 g/ 7 oz plain chocolate
  • 100 ml/3½ fl oz double cream, not fridge cold
  • 50 g/2 oz icing sugar


  1. Melt the chocolate, either in the microwave or using my preferred method; in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water.
  2. When the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat, stir in the double cream, then sift in the icing sugar and mix well.
  3. When spreadable ice the cupcakes.

Step three: have fun decorating your reindeer


  • 12 large milk chocolate buttons (we used Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Giant Buttons)
  • 24 white chocolate buttons
  • 12 Smarties (in the USA you may have to use M&Ms or Reece’s Pieces, as Smarties are scarce)
  • Black icing pen
  • 2 or 3 Curly Wurly‘s cut into antler shapes


  1. Position a chocolate button on each cake for the snout.
  2. Above the chocolate button place two white chocolate buttons for the eyes
  3. Use the black icing pen to draw the pupils
  4. Using a bit of icing as glue stick the Smartie on the chocolate button as a nose.
  5. Press the Curly Wurly bits into the cake as the antlers.


Pinwheel Pizzas; perfect for a weekend snack, or a lunchbox alternative.

I have not been spending a lot of time in the kitchen lately. I don’t know if I lost my motivation, my confidence, or if I just couldn’t find the time. Cooking however, like most passions, never leaves you, so it was inevitable that I would return to the kitchen and create some yummy homemade goodness, and these Pinwheel Pizzas were a perfect recipe to get me motivated and cooking again… Also the kids love them!


This recipe is taken from the August 2012 edition of Good Food magazine.

  • Skill level: easy
  • Preparation time: 30 mins + rising
  • Baking time: 12-15 mins


  • Olive oil, for the tin. About 2 tbsp.
  • 500g pack, bread mix
  • flour for dusting
  • 50g/2oz mature cheddar cheese, grated.


  • 4tbsp tomato purée
  • handful of basil, leaves roughly torn
  • 1 whole roasted pepper, from a jar, cut into strips
  • 70g pack pepperoni, chopped
  • 125g ball of mozzarella, torn into chunks.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


  1. Oil a 25cm springform tin.
  2. Make up the bread mix, following the package instructions.
  3. Turn the dough onto a slightly floured surface and roll out to an oblong 35 x 22cm using a rolling-pin.
  4. Spread the tomato purée over the dough (leaving a border of dough plain all the way round), then scatter with the basil, pepper, pepperoni and mozzarella.
  5. Carefully and firmly roll up from the longest side to make a Swiss roll, then slice evenly into 8 thick pinwheels. Arrange 7 around the outside of the tin, and the 8th in the centre. Cover the tin with cling film and leave in a warm place until well risen. Depending on the warmth in the room this could take up to an hour.
  6. Heat oven to 240c/220c fan assisted oven/GM7.
  7. Remove the cling film and scatter with the cheddar and bake for 12-15 minutes until golden

Per Pizza 271 kcals, protein 12g, carbs 31g, fat 11g, sat fat 5g, fibre 1g, sugar 1g, salt 1.3g

Related articles