Yes, I have been on another cooking day. Word is obviously out that my cooking skills need an update. Last week I attended an event at the HelloFresh HQ in East London, along with some other food and lifestyle bloggers/writers. We had an afternoon of cooking and eating. The latter of which happens to be something I excel in. HelloFresh made the cooking quite easy as their recipe cards are very detailed in explaining the steps to cooking each dish.
If you're not familiar with HelloFresh, they are a recipe box delivery service that offer healthy recipes made from fresh ingredients. Patrick Drake, the Head Chef and co-founder of HelloFresh, was at the event explaining how the business began in his home, in his kitchen. Now they have their own building, and an amazing kitchen where they can come up with new recipes.
I am not the best cook. I make about 10 meals which I rotate over a couple of weeks (luckily Husband cooks on the weekends). I can probably cook about 20 things, but a few of them are special occasion dishes that don't get made often. I've been wanting to add to my repertoire for ages, so last week I dragged one of my friends along to a Mexican street food cooking class at The Jamie Oliver Cookery School in London.
I love Mexican food, but other than cheese quesadillas, I would never dream of trying to make any. So it was a treat to have a professional chef, the lovely Gaby, show me how to cook. I say me, but there were eight of us in the class. We cooked in groups of two, which meant that we were able to take turns with chopping, etc. I chopped my first onion, which was very exciting (it's the kind of thing that I normally make Husband do). We made a chipotle chicken, various salsas and guacamole. And if that wasn't enough, we also made our own corn tortillas.
Cheers to dining out as a family! Eating out used to be quite tough, but the boy has mellowed quite a bit in the past few months. And now our weekly trips to restaurants are no longer limited to pizza and burgers (yessss!). Last weekend we tested this further by going to Bubba Gump's Shrimp Co in central London.
If the name sounds familiar, it is because it is a tribute to the Forrest Gump film. I vaguely remember Forrest and his friend discussing a million types of ways to cook shrimp. And then Forrest made loads of money fishing shrimp. To tell you the truth, I probably would never have gone to this restaurant if they hadn't invited me and my family. The truth is, it sounded really touristy. And it is. But, in a way that my family enjoyed.
Did I ever mention that my family and I love an American diner? Many years ago, when I first moved to the UK, I would drag Husband around London looking for acceptable American fare. I needed to know where I could get burgers, milkshakes and pancakes if I had an urgent craving. Fourteen years ago, there were only a handful of places to get American-style food. Nowadays, they are everywhere. There are now more American restaurants and diners in London than I have fingers and toes. One place we have frequented a few times is Ed's Easy Diner.
If you're not familiar with Ed's, it is a chain of 1950s-style American diners. They have booths, as well as tables, cute jukeboxes and My family and I last went about five months ago. My son has recently become obsessed with cheeseburgers, and we're all fans, so it makes life easier to eat at restaurants where they serve cheeseburgers. Recently, the people from Ed's invited us for a family meal to check out their new junior menu.
Dining out with kids is made so much easier with a great children's menu. Ed's Junior Bites is made for kids 10 and under. For £5.95, you get a main, side and a drink. One issue I have with many children's menus is that there is enough food for my 4-year old, but my 8-year old ends up still hungry. I would rather the kids had more proper food and less dessert. At Ed's, my 8-year old was properly full while my 4-year old had food remaining. Take note other restaurants!
We love desserts in my house. But recently I have been trying to get us to eat more healthily. My children ate a ridiculous amount of ice cream this summer and I am trying to get them excited again about fruit. Namely frozen fruit. So, I thought I would share three super easy, and very fast, recipes for frozen fruit that will make your little one exclaim 'ooh!' and they won't even notice that they're having a healthy dessert.
This has been an unusual week. Moozles and Dubz has been at their grandparents' house since Saturday. Husband and I were home alone from Sunday until Saturday. That's right, one whole week of peace and quiet. One week without playing superheroes or reading children's' books. And yes, we missed having those little ones around. But it was also one week without mediating fights or dealing with tantrums. And it was one week hanging out with Husband. And since it was my birthday week (the big 4-1), I basically got what I wanted. So on Tuesday, after visiting the Tate Modern, we went to The Café at the Hotel Café Royal.
I have walked by The Café loads of times, and have always drooled over their beautiful window displays, but I was never hungry as I passed by. But this time our visit was planned. There were so many lovely things to choose from, but I decided upon the Bounty macaroon while Husband had a coffee and walnut cake. And of course we had tea. Tea for two, and the perfect way to start my birthday week.
I like my blog and social media to be a fairly accurate portrayal of my family life. There are so many pressures to make life look perfect and glossy, but I mainly ignore those pressures. It is tough enough being a mother these days. I don't want to add to anyone's feelings of inadequacy. In fact, none of us should feel inadequate if we're just doing our best. But that being said, I will sometimes share the better photos and not share the utter mess of my life, so I thought I would give you a fuller picture of cooking with children.
This morning, the boy helped me make blueberry pancakes. Dubz loves helping me in the kitchen and is full of enthusiasm, if a little short on skill. He is obsessed with adding the ingredients, mixing them up and even helping at the stove. This of course makes life a bit more stressful than if I was just doing it on my own. But I am sure it is quite beneficial in the long-run so we just get on with it. The pancakes weren't difficult to make and tasted delicious (if you would like the recipe, you can find it and other family recipes on the Wren Kitchens' free Little Kitchen Big Ideas e-cookbook).
Anyway, here are some photos to illustrate the reality versus the perception of blogging photos. Also, the reason that my daughter is not in the photos is that she was being stroppy and just wanted to read in her room and be by herself. Reality indeed!
Reality - Oops!
Life is so hectic. I spend the weekdays rushing around after the kids. And even if I have free time, it is spent on errands and laundry (apart from the occasional break to watch The Real Housewives, heehee). The meals that I cook for my children are made quickly, and easily. Then on Saturdays we normally have a family outing and eat out. Sundays are my favourite day. It is the day we try not to make plans. We have a slow day, where we have fun at home. We play puzzles and Lego, Moozles does her homework, we watch an afternoon movie. And then, oh then, we eat.
One of my favourite British traditions is that of a Sunday Roast. Meat (usually lamb, but sometimes beef or pork in our house), potatoes (roasted or mashed), some kind of green vegetable and Yorkshire puddings (even though they are traditionally served with beef, my family loves them, especially my son who demands them with every roast).
I love pizza. Husband loves pizza. Moozles and Dubz really love pizza. And we are always on the lookout for a good family-friendly pizza place. I had been to Rossopomodoro twice before - once for a bloggers' dinner and another time with Moozles. But last week, the four of us went for our first family meal at Rossopomodoro in Kingston upon Thames.
Rossopomodoro is more than just great pizza. They specialise in food from Naples, so everything tastes like you're in a proper Italian restaurant. The pizza, yes, is wonderful. But there are loads of delicious pastas to choose from. The starters are also quite tempting. We had a very generous bowl of olives and a lovely platter of rice and cheese balls (Frito Napoletano--you must have it).
I'm not the most confident cook (although I enjoy baking). I make all the kids' meals, plus once a week I cook dinner for Husband. I would like to cook for him more often, but I am so tired once I have put the children to bed. I feel bad that Husband gets home at 7pm or 8pm most nights then has to cook our dinner. I had thought about trying to use a slow-cooker, but felt a bit overwhelmed about trying new recipes and adapting my current ones. So when Slow Cook Chef asked me to trial their services, I was intrigued.