Where do I start? I just passed on my two Annabel Karmel
baby recipe books due to my kids having outgrown them, so when we got this book to review I was so pleased. Firstly this isn’t a baby food recipe book – this is a recipe book for the whole family. Which to me is exactly what I want. We sit down as a family at least five times a week, so having a variety of recipes is important to our household, as very often they get bored of eating the same foods (although we do love a few regular ones, like spaghetti bolognese and chicken noodle soup!). The book is called ‘Real Food Kids Will Love, with over 100 simple and delicious recipes for toddlers and up’. Karmel’s ethos is really similar to how I feel about feeding my family. In the introduction of the book, she promotes the importance of eating together as a family and not just cooking food your kids will love, but cooking food for that the whole family can eat. I have tried to do this with my three children and I am happy to say that apart from the odd treat night of hot dog and chips, my children eat pretty much everything that is put in front of them. Karmel also understands how much a mother sometimes needs to juggle with family life work life and house hold chores, so her recipes have been developed with this in mind. I also love how the book encourages you to involve your children in the making of the food, which is something my eldest and youngest are particularly fond of (my eldest boy aka middle child likes to eat what they make but isn’t interested in being involved!)
The book is set out in chapters starting with family favourites, which is where I chose my first recipe, Butter Chicken with Yellow Rice, (read on to find out more about the recipes mentioned in this paragraph). Some of the other recipes in this section include Pot Roast Chicken, Fish Pie Two Ways and Meatloaf with quick tomato sauce, which are all things I would love to cook mid week or my family.
The second chapter Meat Free and Vegan. I found this section really interesting. I cook at least twice a week vegetation (to the dissatisfaction of my husband!), however, I just think its costly to eat meat all the time, so some of the recipes in here really enticed me. I love the fact that Karmel has created a few recipes for veggie burgers (such as ‘my favourite vegan burgers’ and ‘cauliflower, broccoli and sage burgers’), which makes it feel more substantial when cutting out meat if you have an alternative that fills the plate and can be accompanied by the same types of sides you perhaps would put alongside a meat dish. Also great for families that follow this type of diet, as so often its hard to find recipes that are perhaps tasty and filling.
The next chapter was a real treat to find – 15 minute meals – now, I just don’t know who wouldn’t find it handy to have a range of 15 minute meals like this. My favourite find from this section was a butternut squash carbonara, which I can’t wait to try, but there was also sea bass with cherry tomato sauce and buttermilk pancakes – which we did try as we love to have a treat breakfast on a Sunday (see further in the post).
Chapter 4 is health fast food, this is another good selection of recipes which are likely to satisfy any craving for a takeaway that you might have. It has recipes like Sweet and Sour Chicken, Finger Licking Chicken Wings and Crispy Baked Cod and Sweet Potato Chips (this would go down a treat in our house).
Chapter 5 is Lunchbox & Playdate snacks, this section is great to keep your kids lunches interesting and also a good one for nice after school snacks. The Carrot Cake Balls look great and can be kept in the fridge for 5 days so would do as a snack for the whole week. I suspect these recipes would also be good for a kids party with ideas like a vegetable train! Chapter 5 is where I chose my third recipe to try from, in the Desserts & Sweets, my youngest loves nak’d raw fruit bars – but they can be costly however, in the book they have a cheat alternative, called No sugar chocolate orange energy bars. You will see what he thought of them later!
The final chapter is Holiday Cooking With Kids, and one of the recipes that I know my whole family will love in this is the Dough Ball Christmas Wreath. I can’t see it being one we save for Christmas as it might just have to be a summer wreath, other recipes include, Fruit Flower Pots and Skeleton Ginger Bread Men! All of which I can’t wait to try. I have to say that the whole book as so many recipes that seem easy to follow, and tasty!
This leads me to my first look at my chosen three recipes from the book.
Butter Chicken with Yellow Rice
The recipe was really straight forward and easy to follow. With this one you could be put off by the ingredients list but there isn’t anything you can’t pick up at your local supermarket, although it might be one that does need a little preparation, prior to making. There are a fair few spices in this one too, so you have to make sure your store cupboard is full of the ingredients needed. Luckily the only thing I had run out of was cumin – but I managed to get it the same day locally so it was fine (phew!!). All the ingredients for this are cooked in one pan – I lightly browned the chicken before cooking everything else and set it aside on a plate so I could carry on with the rest. So all I really had to do was follow the steps to cook the ingredients in the order directed but just throw it all in one and then re-add the chicken and let it all cook through. While that was happening I had time to cook the rice. All in all it took a total of 30 minutes to cook everything, and it was so flavoursome, all the spices were perfect and one of the most surprising additions to the recipe was the Mango Chutney, which I thought might make it taste sweet, but it just seems to add depth to the dish. It really tasted like something you would buy! My only addition to this recipe, was that I wanted to have some veg to accompany it, so I cooked up some broccoli storks, which worked really well. All in all this is something I would definitely cook again and all the family cleared their plates! Thats always a plus!
The Best Buttermilk Pancakes
For these I wanted to test how easy they would be for my 9 year old to make and whether we could do it in 15 minutes – as it was from the 15 minute meal chapter. The recipe itself was easy and we managed to have everything mixed with 9 minutes left for cooking. We chose to make slightly smaller pancakes, which overall did take slightly longer to make then 15 minutes in total. However, we had made 4 of our smaller ones within the allocated time (but still had mixture left over), so if would be interesting to see if the other 15 minute meals truly are 15 minutes – I suspect they will be! We all had different toppings, my daughter had hazelnut spread, I had peaches and yogurt, my youngest boy had plain! and my eldest boy, had his all time favourite, lemon and sugar. The pancakes were in-between an american fluffy pancake and a standard thin british pancake. The buttermilk added a nice texture. However, I actually didn’t have any buttermilk in, but you can make it – its basically a cup of milk with three-four tablespoons of lemon juice or white vinegar, leave it for 20 minutes and voila! Hope this helps! Overall I loved the fact the the timings worked but I still prefer thicker pancakes, but the kids loved them and want to make them again, so out house was split on this one.
No sugar chocolate orange energy bars
I had all the ingredients for this in my store cupboard and I love dried fruit, so I thought this would be a good one to try. My little chopper did struggle a little to finley chop all the ingredients down but I suspect this is just due to the fact its not that big, I imagine in a standard size food processor it would be really quick to do. Saying that it still only took about 5 minutes to blend together another couple of minutes to roll and then 1 hour in the fridge. I have to say I was really surprised at how indulgent these tasted – I actually felt as though I was having a little chocolate truffle not some dried fruit and nuts! I absolutely love them and will be making them again. They are so quick to do and whether its the shape that fools you into thinking its a chocolate I don’t know – but I don’t care its tastes great. My only critique with this recipe is there is no indication on the size of mixture you need to scoop to make the balls. I guessed but someone who likes to have a recipe just so might find this a little annoying. There are a few other recipes like this in the book, which now I have tried these, think I might have a go at.
PS I made these while the kids were at school, and I am not sure I want to share them. But I am pretty sure they will love them too!
What we thought
Overall the book has a huge amount of recipes and a very broad variety, as mentioned before including vegan, desserts and everyday recipes. I think that the book would be a great addition to a household that is looking for easy recipes that would fill up a months worth of day to day family cooking. This certainly would do more than that and would also quite easily suit someone who already cooks (which I can vouch for myself, as I found plenty of recipes I had never tried before and slight variations of ones I use all the time, (which is always good as sometimes you find a better version).
My only issue is that many of the recipes need a lot of ingredients that you perhaps don’t have in your store cupboard and therefore might need a bit of foresight to put together as, you might need to go and get – some examples of these ingredients are parmesan cheese (which is sometimes expensive so I don’t always stock it), pomegranate, fresh herbs (I very often used dried, but I know you get a slightly different taste with fresh), rice wine vinegar, white wine vinegar – again I tend you have vinegar for salad dressing, so similar to these in taste but not a whole variety of different ones. That being said, all the ingredients are available at most of your local supermarkets, so don’t let this put you off, as it just means a little prep is involved!
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About the book
Title: Annabel Karmel Real Food Kids Will Love
ISBN Number : 978-1-5098-8842-9
Size: 246 x 189 mm
Number of Pages: 235
Retail Price: £16.99
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* We were given a copy of the cookbook for free in return for a feature. All opinions are our own.