Macaroni Cheese with Pancetta And Tomatoes

Being a vegetarian, mac n cheese is often the go-to on the menu when lunching out so I’m fairly confident I can pass judgement when it comes to deciding what makes a decent macaroni cheese.

And while, yes, you can just stick with a standard cheese sauce and pasta job, it can also be a great way to sneak some vegetables into a family meal – try adding a tin of sweetcorn, or just a really tasty meal which can be prepared ahead. This version, however, is a much fancier version which will satisfy anyone who likes having meat with every meal.

Don’t feel that you have to buy breadcrumbs buy the way, just whizz up some end bread crusts in a food processor. I usually make myself a small vegetarian version by leaving out the pancetta or substituting with Quorn bacon piece. I just bake in a small separate dish.

Serve on its own, with salad, garlic bread or corn on the cob. Either way, it’s one meal which I know is going to get the thumbs up from my ravenous teenagers.

this luxury macaroni cheese is a much fancier twist on a family favourite,


  • 250g/9oz macaroni
  • 40g/1½oz butter
  • 40g/1½ plain flour
  • 600ml/1pint 1½fl oz milk
  • 250g/9oz grated cheddar
  • 1/2 bunch spring onions
  • 130g pancetta
  • a packet of mozzarella cheese cut into slices
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp chives
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 6 sliced cherry tomatoes – sliced
  • 2 handfuls of breadcrumbs
  • salt & pepper to season

this luxury macaroni cheese is a much fancier twist on a family favourite,


  1. boil a pan of water and add the macaroni according to packet instructions
  2. dry fry the pancetta in a saucepan
  3. remove and set aside
  4. using the same pan, melt the butter then add the chopped spring onions and cook until soft
  5. add the flour and mustard powder stirring until it’s all combined
  6. slowly start adding the milk stirring between each addition to avoid any lumps,
  7. add the basil and grated cheddar
  8. bring the sauce to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened
  9. strain the cooked macaroni then combine with the sauce and pancetta
  10. transfer to an ovenproof dish, layer the sliced mozzarella top with breadcrumbs
  11. finish with the sliced tomatoes and a sprinkle of chives
  12. bake in a preheated oven at 180′ for 25 minutes.

this luxury macaroni cheese is a much fancier twist on a family favourite,


A Recipe For Teriyaki Lamb Stir-Fry
I’m a huge stir fry fan. Not only are they quick and easy to whip up at the end of a long day, they’re super healthy and a great way to cram in at least 5 of your 5 a day (or 7 if you go by the current guidelines) Being a pescatarian, I tend to stick with prawn and occasionally quorn but this week I took the leap into the unknown with some lamb in honour of Love Lamb Week (1st-7th September.)
This was a total first for me, I obviously don’t eat it, but my kids are all meat eaters and with lamb steaks being easy and versatile to cook this Teriyaki recipe could be a great introduction for them. (worth noting that you should look out for the Red Tractor mark when buying lamb, as this way you know what’s happening from farm to fork!)

As it happens, it went down a storm and now I know that all 3 of my boys will eat it, lamb will be gracing our dinner table sometime soon. And if you’re looking for a quick and easy healthy meal, then Teriyaki lamb stir fry is one to try. The quantities below are enough for 2 large adult sized portions, I added a courgette and shallot to bump up the vegetables to make it go between 3 adult sized appetites and a toddler.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes


350g/12oz lean lamb leg steaks, cut into stir-fry strips

10ml/2tsp rapeseed or vegetable oil

1 x 250g pack prepared stir-fry vegetables of your choice

For the Teriyaki Sauce:

60ml/4tbsp Teriyaki marinade and sauce

15ml/1tbsp light brown sugar

30ml/2tbsp lime juice

2.5ml/½tsp Chinese five-spice powder

noodles (1 nest per person)


1 courgette

1 shallot

To garnish:

Toasted sesame seeds, optional


  1. To prepare the Teriyaki sauce; in a small bowl mix all the ingredients together  and set aside.
  2. Heat the water for the noodles (if using dry)
  3. Heat the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan or wok and stir-fry the lamb for 3-4 minutes.  Add the stir-fry vegetables and cook for a further 1-2 minutes, tossing frequently.
  4. Add the noodles to the water (if using pre cooked, add them to the lamb/veg mix when adding the sauce.
  5. Add the Teriyaki sauce, toss gently and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Season, if required.
  6. Garnish with the sesame seeds, if used and serve with noodles or rice.


I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity. [I have received a voucher in return for writing this post.


Clean Eating Made Easy With Everdine

I first dabbled with clean eating last year, inspired by the Ella’s Kitchen cookbook recommended by a friend who had overcome some health problems thanks to a change in diet, it was a welcome lifestyle adjustment. I’d already given up meat (not fish) and felt better, I had more energy for starters. My sugar intake was through the roof though and I was rubbish at getting my recommended 5 a day.

So clean eating was the way forward. Everything cooked from fresh with oodles of fresh veg and introducing ingredients I’d never heard of, chia seeds were thrown in and on everything and breakfast began with overnight oats and granola. The only problem was time. I was a busy mum running 2 businesses and trying to prepare and find recipes which I knew the whole family would eat.

Luckily the older boys are quite good at trying new foods, getting them to always finish was a chore though. Clean eating soon became a chore and while I remained vegetarian and endeavoured to cook healthy meals from scratch, it was still too easy to pop a frozen pizza in the oven on days when I wasn’t in the mood for cooking.

My eldest son is now a keen health foodie though and when asked to try out a clean eating delivery  service called Everyone where clean eating is made simple we both agreed. No more mum guilt, except the whole frozen meals thing concerned me a little, surely it was cheating a little?

None the less, I picked out my favourites from the 8 meal section, that’d be 2 family meals of our choosing where everyone gets what they want. I could see this working out quite well for the boys and I! It meant I could stick to my meat free diet but the boys got their fill.

It arrived in an insulated cardboard box with icepacks (really useful to keep in the freezer and reuse for picnics as you can throw them away afterwards) I then stored them away in the freezer ready for the next day when time was of the essence.

everdine clea eating delivery service reviewed

The meals are microwaved and ready to eat in under 10 minutes and smelt as good as they tasted. The portions are a good size, enough for my older teenager and I managed to share some of mine with my toddler without feeling I’d sacrificed a meal. There’s a really great range to make your choices from on the website too, I went for a mixture of fish, lamb and vegetarian so we were all happy.

clean eating made simple with a delivery service my whole family loved. This exceeded my expectations in ready meals
The lamb chops with feta cous cous and beetroot was a huge hit with the boys, theres no expense spared on taste and seeing them try foods they’d never had before was awesome. My favourite was the harissa & king prawn tabbouleh, a nicely spiced dish with a just right balance of vegetables.

The convenience of having healthy meals ready in the freezer was priceless and while I don’t think I’d use it solely for regular family meals, I can see this being perfect for working couples and singletons. (and for my child free days when I tend to just have a sandwich rather than cook a whole meal.) The only downside was not being able to serve the meals in one go, although some you could cook in the oven.

If you’d like to try them out for yourself, Click here for your Everdine offer giving you £25 off your first box


clean eating made simple with a delivery service my whole family loved. This exceeded my expectations in ready meals


I have been invited to test Everdine‘s service thanks to a company called Tornado.


Toddler Lunch box Ideas For A Toddler-Sized Challenge

Having worked in a school in the past, it was astonishing to see the difference in the sizes of what the kids brought in for packed lunch. I remember saying at the time that there needs to be some more information giving clear examples of what is a suitable portion size. The parents were getting the healthy message (the majority were at least) but there were a few children who came in with more food than an average adult could eat in one sitting.

I guess I wasn’t alone in thinking that there was a gap in information as the Infant & Toddler Forum launched the #rethinktoddlerportionsizes campaign to help raise awareness of it’s not just what we put on toddlers’ plates it’s also how much last year.

I not alone in thinking that there should be a clearer message that it's not just what we put in a toddlers’ lunch box it’s also how much

And they’re back with a challenge for parents, grandparents and guardians to see how can you take all the ITF’s guidance and make it PRACTICAL and easy for all parents to follow every day at every meal?

Curious? Why not visit Toddler Sized Challenge to find out more, join in and share, comment, vote and have the chance to win £1000 and two £500 runners-up prizes as well as spot cash prizes of £100 for commenting and engaging.

a toddler lunch box meal planner for the Toddler sized challenge

I’m weighing in with my tuppence and submitted a suggestion to the challenge already. too with some lunch box ideas on how to help parents ensure they’re getting their toddler lunch boxes spot on.

There are some great menu ideas on the website a but I’ve purposed an idea for downloadable sheets of menu planners with suggestions for toddler lunch boxes  Taking inspiration from the Think Toddler Sized website and creating a go to sheet for lunch boxes which can be printed off and placed on your fridge, or saved as a photo of your photo along with a quick read shopping list section of items to buy.

The idea is about simplifying life for parents, grandparents and carers and taking the stress out of thinking what to buy.

Now I’ve shared mine, what’s would your idea to help parents to Think Toddler Sized be? Why not visit the website (links here if you missed it earlier ) to see what’s already been suggested and see if you can come up with something new then upload your idea to the website. You’ve got to be in it to win it!

Think about:

  • The 4 different food groups: carbs, protein, dairy and fruit/vegetables
  • How often different types food should be offered every day
  • How much should be on the plate – think toddler portions

a toddler lunch box meal planner for the Toddler sized challenge


This is a collaborative post


Roasted Vegetable and Cheddar Cannelloni #Dolmio #ThankGoodness

This is quite possibly one of my biggest and sneakiest parenting triumphs to date! My kids are relatively healthy although but there is still lots of scope for more fruit and vegetables in their diet and I think I might have just cracked it with this recipe. Not only did they wolf it down without so much of a grumble, they got all their 5 a day in one sitting and ate mushrooms which they’ve been reluctant to try for many, many years.

The golden rule to feeding fussy eaters is to chop the vegetables up into very small chunks, which also helps when filling the cannelloni, and the lashings of Dolmio Bolognese sauce helps it all under the guise of tomato sauce. With 10  tomatoes, tomato puree,  onion,  sunflower oil,  garlic, basil, a teaspoon of cornflour, a teaspoon of salt, a pinch of pepper, two teaspoons of added beet sugar for taste, a squeeze of lemon juice, a splash of water, the sauce alone kept my midweek meal full of healthy goodness! watch the video to see for yourself…..

Clean plates and no grumbles was the only feedback I needed from my busy teenagers who failed to notice the feel good mum smirk on my face as they carried their plates to the kitchen, washed up their plates and fled back to their rooms without ever knowing how happy those clean plates had made me.

One small step for mankind, one giant leap for a mum trying desperately to make sure her kids eat healthy!

If you’d like to have a go yourself, here’s the recipe I used, it can be prepared the night before and baked in the oven the following day.


2 carrots

1 onion

I courgette

1 aubergine

1 red pepper

4 balls of frozen spinach

4 large mushrooms

1 bottle Dolmio bolognese sauce

200g cheddar cheese

100g Parmesan cheese

250g  cannelloni

Sea salt & pepper

1 tsp Smoked lazy garlic or 2 fresh garlic cloves


  • Pre heat the oven to 150’c
  • Chop the courgette, red pepper, mushrooms, onion and aubergine into small chucks, keeping the same size so they cook evenly.
  • Grate the carrots and cheddar cheese

  • Place the aubergine, courgette and red pepper on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil season with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Mix everything thing thoroughly then place in a pre heated oven for 20 minutes on a middle shelf, checking to make sure nothing is burning after 10 minutes and giving the tray a gentle shake.
  • Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and gently fry the onion for 5 minutes then add the garlic,  mushrooms  and carrots and fry for another 5 minutes.
  • Put an pan of water on to boil ready for steaming the spinach.
  • Add the cheddar cheese and roasted vegetables to the frying pan mix, stirring everything through.
  • Steam the spinach over a pan of boiling water while you get on with filling the cannelloni.

  • Using a table knife, fill each cannelloni tube with the mixture then layer them in a greased dish.
  • Place a layer of spinach and slice grate half the Parmesan over the first layer of cannelloni and spinach.

  • When you finished filling, pour a jar of Dolmio over the top, making sure the cannelloni rolls have slight gaps so the sauce can seep through the middle.
  • Finish with the rest of the Parmesan over the top and bake in the middle of the oven 160’c for 20 minutes.

  • Serve straight away as it is, there’s so many vegetables you’ve already got your complete meal good to go.
  • If you’ve made it in advance, made in advance too, just add an extra 5 minutes cooking time.

This post is an entry for the #Dolmio #ThankGoodness Challenge, sponsored by Dolmio.”