Besides being big foodies, we love a good read as well and especially if it involves some recipes which we can whip up for our kids or entertain friends with. So its with great joy that we share with you our latest review, a 320 page hardback cookbook titled Top Bananas, Best Ever Family Recipes written by Claire and Lucy McDonald for Mumsnet to review. Aimed at parents who want to prepare good, healthy and nutritious food for their kids and families. There are about 120 recipes in the book that are easy and quick to prepare hence perfect for working parents or busy mums who struggle with work and kids. The book starts off with a foreword by Justine Roberts, the founder of Mumsnet stating why they have written the book. Then it goes on to Introduction, where helpful advice and tips are shared on how to get the kids to eat healthily, details about nutritional information, food allergies as well as meat alternatives for kids.
The recipes are broken into different categories such as Breakfast, Packed Lunch, Soup, Fast Food, Sunday Lunch, Veggies, Slow Cooking, One Pot Wonders, Cooking with Children, Party Food, Pudding and Baking. The recipes are suitable both for children and grown-ups alike so you don’t need to be making two lots of different dishes with fussy eaters. These recipes are tried and tested by real mums and we are lucky to be asked to review this book for our website.
Looking through the book, we decided to test out three recipes which caught our eyes. The first was Beef Stifado, the second was Italian Baked Chicken and the third was Party Toffee Popcorn. Do read on to find out more about each of the dish, what we thought and the recipes so you can try recreating it at home (feel free to download the photo and enlarge it to see the words clearer if you are having trouble viewing the recipes).
I actually cooked this recipe for the whole family and served it with a side of garlicy green beans. The best part about the recipe was that I was able to prepare it and then put it in the slow cooker which meant that on a busy day (which a Monday in our house normally is) tea was all done by 9.30am! I cooked it on low and check it towards the later part of the day and found that we needed to add a little cup of water – this may have been due to us not being generous enough with the wine.
I served the dish together with spaghetti and garlicy green beans for my husband and three children who cleared their plates – their only complaint was the taste that the wine gave the sauce. The recipe was really straightforward, my only complaint would be that to a novice cook a slug of wine is a little vague to know exactly how much to use, and actually don’t think I used enough. When I make this again I think I may perhaps change the wine for either a tin of passata or maybe the equivalent of beef stock – and this isn’t because the recipe didn’t work this is purely based on my family’s taste. But for anyone who enjoys coq-au-vin this is a perfect addition to a week time menu.
Italian Baked Chicken
Here’s the recipe for Italian Baked Chicken from the book, hope you give it a go.
I couldn’t wait to try this recipe – I love chicken and pesto together but have never made it like this. Although the recipe said two chicken breasts as I made it for two adults and three children hence I increased it to four chicken breasts. I kept everything else the same. I also didn’t use asparagus as my children don’t like it although I love it and I am sure it would have been even more amazing than it was with it.
This didn’t take a long time to get ready. I actually put it all into the dish in the morning and covered it over and popped it back in the fridge until I was ready to cook it. This meant I knew tea was ready by the time I had collected the children from school and taken them to their various activities. Again the recipe was really easy to do and I can’t believe how something so simple to make could taste so good. It is something I will be making again very soon and is definitely impressive enough to make for guests too. The combination of spinach and tomato and the melted mozzarella and pesto was just so moreish, and really worked well together. We had it with mash but it would just as easily go with pasta. YOU HAVE TO TRY IT!
Party Toffee Popcorn
Love popcorn? Now you can make it at home with your kids.
I regularly make popcorn at home but the only sweetness I add is a dust of icing sugar. I had always thought of toffee popcorn being a cinema treat that you bought, I have never thought about making it at home.
Following the recipe was straight forward however my only issue was not knowing how long to cook it for, as I do cook popcorn quite often hence I did stop when it started to boil slightly, however someone with less knowledge may struggle as it simply says to “mix and sizzle for a bit”. Also as instructed, I put the lid on the pan and shook the mixture over the popcorn but this didn’t quite cover all of it, so I would suggest just giving it an additional mix with a wooden spoon which ensured all the popcorn had a nice coating. It was DELICIOUS and would be a great idea as gifts for friends. You could also mix it up a bit by adding some dried coconut or fruit or nuts to the mix for a more adult treat.
What we thought
Overall we were really impressed with the recipes in the book as well as the beautiful photography throughout the book. There were lots of new ideas there which we thought was great flavour wise and very often we find that not all recipes in a cook book work, yet all three recipes wich we tested out worked perfectly! We also love that on each recipe, there is a healthy bit mentioned, and also if the dish can be frozen or if its vegetarian. We can’t wait to work our way through the book. Some of which include Honey-Roasted Parsnips, Curried Bake Beans, Simple Soda Bread, Chocolate Bride Biscuits and Guaranteed-super-squidgy-chocolate brownies ooo and the list goes on.
You can win yourself a copy of this fabulous book by heading to our Twitter account.
About the Book
Title: Top Bananas
ISBN Number : 978-1-4088-5049-7
Size: 246 x 189 mm
Number of Pages: 320
How much is the book and where can I purchase it?
Mumsnet was conceived in early 2000 when Justine Mumsnet embarked on a disastrous family holiday. Her idea was to create a website where parents could swap advice about not just holidays but all the other stuff parents talk about. Seventeen years later and who’d have thought it would come to this? Mumsnet is now the UK’s biggest network for parents, with over 12 million unique visitors per month clocking up over 120 million page views.