Chicken kebabs with jewelled cous cous

This is a version of a recipe I cut out of a magazine years ago, and I can’t remember what the magazine was so can’t credit it (am very honest about where my recipes come from – I always credit the source and link to original recipe – unless have devised it myself).

bedjewelled cous cous

I’ve made this meal a couple of times in the last few weeks and it goes down really well. For my youngest daughter I take the chicken off the kebab as, even if I cut off the pointy end of the skewer, accidents are still likely to happen.

In the last week my 7 year old has decided she’d prefer plain cous cous.  It’s easy enough to put some to one side when you’re making it to keep it plain.

This cous cous salad is great for bbq’s, picnics, goes well with home made burgers or you could add cubes of feta cheese and serve with corn on the cob for a vegetarian option. 

To make chicken kebabs you will need…

400g organic free range chicken breasts cut into cubes*
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 skewers soaked in water for 10 minutes or so

How to…

Cut the chicken breasts into cubes about 2cm cubed and put in a bowl
Mix together the olive oil and lemon juice.
Add the marinade to the bowl and stir the chicken so it’s all covered.
Cover and put in the fridge for at least half an hour to 2 hours (but don’t worry if you don’t have time!)
Take out of the fridge and put on skewers.
Grill on a medium to hot heat for about 10 minutes, turning so that the chicken is cooked through.
If it’s cooked on the outside and still pink in the middle turn down the heat a little and continue to cook for a few minutes until ready.

To make the cous cous you will need…

200g cous cous (wholegrain is best)
300ml water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
6 sun dried tomatoes in olive oil
6 organic dried apricots**
50g pinenuts
40 raisins or sultanas (I use raisins as they’re high in iron)
handful (about 15g) of mint chopped
2-3 spring onions sliced

How to…

Put the cous cous in a bowl.
Mix the olive oil and lemon juice together and stir through the cous cous along with the water.
Leave to stand for 15 minutes.
Toast the pine nuts either in a grill or in the bottom of a saucepan – keep an eye on them as they start to brown very quickly.
As soon as they’ve toasted put them in a bowl as otherwise they’ll continue to cook in the pan/baking try.
Chop the sun dried tomatoes and dried apricots and add to the pine nuts along with the sultanas/raisins.
Add the mint and onions.
Now with a fork fluff up the cous cous then add all the ingredients and mix well.

Serve with a green salad (don’t dress the salad keep the dressing in a bowl so people can have it they want to). For this salad I just did a simple olive oil balsamic vinegar one (3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil to about 2 tablespoons of balsamic mixed with a fork).

We had courgettes and courgette flowers shallow fried in olive oil with a squeeze of lemon judge along with steamed green beans (all from the garden) along with a rocket, tomato and avocado salad.

Chicken kebabs and cous cous


*400g is about enough for a child between 1-4 years, another between 5-11 years and two adults (with a little left over). This is based on portion size guidance from First Steps Nutrition which is based on guideline recommended intakes of protein.

So before you cook the chicken (as this results in weight/water loss) weigh what you need based on:

65g uncooked chicken for children aged between 1-4 years
75g uncooked chicken for children aged between 5-11 years
About 120g chicken for adults

**Organic apricots do not have sulphur added (which some children can have an adverse reaction to) which is why they are brown rather than orange.






Autumn squash spaghetti bolognese

Spaghetti bolognese is such a family staple in the UK. I can remember my mum’s in the 70’s. I don’t think it had any herbs, except a bayleaf or two. When I first left home, I made my spag bol the same way, but over the years it’s gone through so many changes.

In the Summer I put peppers and courgettes in but come the Autumn, they go out of season. So I wanted to try something Autumnal so thought of trying squash or pumpkin along with red lentils.


As this was the first time I made it this way I wasn’t sure whether the lentils would work, so I only used 50g. I think you could increase the amount of lentils and decrease the amount of beef mince. Adding pulses or beans to meat dishes makes them go further and therefore cheaper. Lentils and beans are good sources of protein, complex carbohydrates and valuable minerals and vitamins.

I am going to try and experiment a bit with the lentils and mince ratio, am sure you could make it with just the lentils (so it would be a vegetarian/vegan) dish but would need to look at whether to add stock as the lentils absorb alot of liquid. When I get a chance I will add to this post on that.


3 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove chopped
500g organic British beef mince (ideally lean)
1 onion diced
1 stick of celery washed, top and tailed and diced
1 carrot top and tailed and diced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or dried if that’s what you’ve got)*
1 squash**
200ml low salt stock or water
1 tablespoon mild smoked paprika
1 tins of chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato puree
Pasta (of course, though I have to say I’m not keen on pasta, while the rest of the family is, so I often have puy lentils with my pasta sauce instead of pasta)

How to…

Heat your oven to  200°c/ 400°f/gas mark 6.
Wash and cut the squash into chunky slices, cutting out the seeds in the middle (which you can roast separately in olive oil as a snack).
Mix with two tablespoons of olive oil and rub with smoked paprika then roast in a preheated tray for 20 minutes until just browning at the edges.
Allow to cool and then cut off the skin and chop into smaller bite size chunks.
Put to one side to add to the spag bol sauce later.

To make the spag bol

Sweat the onion, carrot and celery in a tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan.
When they are becoming translucent add the garlic.
Keep stirring so that the vegetables don’t brown.
Then add the mince, breaking it up, but not too much so you keep some texture.
Cook the mince until browned, stirring often.
Add the red lentils and thyme and cook for a few more minutes.
Stir in the tinned tomatoes and the tomato puree and stock or water.
Simmer for about 25 minutes or so, until the lentils are soft.
About 10 minutes towards the end of cooking add the squash and stir well.
Put the water on for the pasta and cook.
Serve with parmesan and side salad or veggie sticks.
Make sure it’s cooled down enough for your little ones.

For babies


If  your weaning, and you don’t want to introduce gluten to your baby’s diet yet or because baby has a possible allergy or intolerance, you can use pasta made from quinoa or corn.

This recipe is suitable from about 7 months onwards, once simple first foods have been introduced. I do try as much as possible to make the same meals for the whole family, including baby, as this keeps life simple. There is no reason why babies can’t have the same as long as no salt is added or hot spices used.

For younger babies, the dish can be thinned a little with babies usual milk and then pureed to suitable consistency. From about 10 months onwards it just needs a little chopping – depending on what your baby is used to. I usually serve spoon feeding dishes like this alongside finger food. You could save some of the squash slices for your baby to have as finger food. I also give some of the pasta as a finger food.

Portion sizes

Just to give a guide on recommended portion sizes, I use Caroline Walker Trust’s CHEW! guidance. This portion size guidance was designed for early years settings, and is useful for parents too. They are based on recommended intakes for babies.

So for 7-9 month olds give about 60g of bolognese and 50g pasta with 20g veggie finger food
10-12 months : 70g bolognese and 50g pasta with 30g veggie finger food
1-5 years : 180g bolognese and 120g pasta with two 40g portions of veggies

*You can freeze the fresh herbs you buy – just put them in a sealed freezer bag.

**I used a Harlequin Squash which was about 1 kg

Weaning recipe #3 and family meal: Last of the Summer bean stew

We had this this for supper a few nights ago. The photo above is of the leftovers we had for lunch the next day. I didn’t have time to chop the stew up into smaller pieces for my baby (this stew works best with chunky vegetables) – I am always in a last minute rush when I make meals – so I gave her chickpeas and haricot beans and some veg to eat with her fingers along with the stew which had been briefly whizzed.

Now that she’s 9 months old she’s really honed her pincer grasp and sits absorbed at the dinner table picking up small pieces of food. Some of those pieces of food she casually drops on the floor but most do end up being eaten.


Peppers and courgettes are only just in season in the UK but not for long. I  buy organic (as much as possible), local when I can, and definitely British. Buying by season does make it harder in those Winter months when you’re missing out on salads and summer fruits and it does make you really appreciate produce when it comes into season again.


For the stew
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
2 red onions cut into wedges
Red and yellow pepper cut into 1 cm wedges
2 courgettes cut into batons
1 x 400g tin of chickpeas
Half a tin of 400g haricot beans (optional)*
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons tomato purée
Handful of fresh basil chopped
zest from one lemon
200ml very low salt stock (not for babies) or water (for babies)

For the cous cous
200g whole grain (if you can find it) cous cous
300 ml water
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice

How to…

In a pan on a medium heat cook the onion, courgette, peppers and garlic for about 5 minutes, until softened.
Add the smoked paprika and tomato purée stir and cook for a few minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes and stock or water and cook for 20 minutes.
Zest the lemon and put to one side.

To make the cous cous, mix together 2 tablespoons of lemon juice with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, stir into the cous cous, then add and mix in the 300ml of water.
Leave to stand for 15 minutes.
Then fluff up with a fork.

Now add the beans and chickpeas, lemon and basil to the stew and and cook for 10 more minutes then serve.

Make sure you allow it to cool enough. For babies, either chop into smaller pieces or whizz a few times with the blender.  For younger babies (+6 months)  thin with a little of baby’s usual milk to consistency required.

Portion sizes

The recommended portion sizes (from Caroline Walker Trust):

Babies from 7-9 months:  80g of stew / 50g of couscous with 20g vegetable finger food

Babies 10-12 months: 90g of stew /60g couscous with 30g vegetable finger food

1-4 year olds : 115g stew / 80g couscous with 40g vegetable finger food

5-11 year olds: 140g stew / 120g couscous with 80g vegetable finger food

*I didn’t want to add the whole tin as thought would be too much – but might be fine – I used the rest in a beef stew a couple of days later.