During the Covid-19 pandemic many of us found ourselves in our kitchens rediscovering how and what to cook. Being able to cook is an important life skill; it teaches patience, how to follow instructions, how to learn from mistakes and how effort can produce rewards. Whether you want to teach your child some basic recipes, so they can fix themselves an after school snack, or you’re waving your child off to university, we hope the following recipes will help in inspiring your adolescent to learn how to cook some healthy and inexpensive meals. – Emma Drake
Creating a tomato sauce and a basic white sauce from scratch is a great culinary skill to perfect at a young age and will no doubt impress new friends at university! Both sauces can appear daunting to make but are in fact very simple to throw together, and they provide the basis for many classic dishes such as soups, curries, lasagne, eggplant parmesan, bolognese and casseroles. For an easy and delicious meal just pour a white or tomato sauce over some freshly cooked pasta and vegetables, sprinkle with cheese and voilà.
Tomato Sauce Ingredients
• 1 medium onion peeled and finely diced
• 1 clove of garlic finely sliced
• 1 good sized carrot peeled and finely diced
• 1 large tin of plum tomatoes with juice
• Splash of balsamic vinegar
• Dash of Worcestershire sauce
• Olive oil
• Herbs – fresh or dried oregano or basil
• Pinch of sugar (optional)
• Salt and pepper to taste
› Add oil to a frying pan.
› Cook onions in a saucepan over a medium heat, adding the garlic when they are nearly translucent.
› Add the tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and herbs.
› Season with salt and pepper if using.
› Add a pinch of sugar (optional)
› Let the mix cool.
› Use a blender to form a smooth sauce.
› Once mixed, taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
White Sauce Ingredients
• 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or rice flour if you are gluten-free)
• 2 tablespoons butter or dairy free alternative
• 1 cup milk or unsweetened dairy free milk
• Salt and pepper to taste
› In a small saucepan melt the butter over medium heat.
› Add flour and stir to combine.
› Slowly pour in the milk whilst stirring constantly as the mix will thicken quickly.
› Add more milk to achieve desired consistency.
For variations on this recipe consider adding cheese for a yummy cheesy sauce, parsley, or even lemon and sugar to create an alternative to custard.
TOP TIP: Consider buying your university student a blender. They are a useful tool to have on hand when creating healthy dishes and you can find options to suit all budgets.
A student staple, the baked potato is a tasty, filling and affordable option. When eaten with the skin on, a baked potato offers vitamins C and B as well as a good amount of fibre. Choose from white, purple or sweet potatoes and any number of fillings.
› Wash and dry a medium sized potato, rub with salt if desired. Pierce with a fork. Potatoes can either be microwaved or cooked in the oven.
› Microwave: Place on the turntable and cook for six minutes.
› Oven: Preheat oven to 425°F/220°C, 400°F/200°C for a fan oven or gas mark 7.
› Place potato on a baking sheet lined with foil, pop in the oven and bake for 45 mins to an hour until soft inside. To test give the potatoes a slight squeeze. The skin will be crisp but should give slightly. Make sure you have on either an oven mitt or cover your hand with a tea towel to avoid burning yourself.
› Great filling options include chilli, grated cheese, sour cream, ratatouille, tuna, bacon and baked beans.
This recipe is easy to make, delicious and ideal for a time-strapped student in search of a filling meal. Perfect for serving on top of a baked potato or with rice – add sour cream and avocado for an extra punch of flavour. Freeze any leftovers in individual portions to have throughout the week. For vegetarians, simply remove the mince or replace with a meat substitute such as Quorn.
• 1 white onion, diced
• 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
• 500g beef mince
• 450g tin of chopped tomatoes
• 1 tablespoon tomato puree
• 1 red pepper
• 400g tin of kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
• 1 beef or vegetable stock cube (optional)
• A smidge of chilli powder (depending on how hot you like it)
› Add some oil to a large pan over a medium heat and brown the mince.
› Once the mince is browned, add the onions and garlic.
› Boil the kettle to make half a litre of beef/vegetable stock (follow the instructions on the packet to make this).
› Once the onions are soft add the chopped tomatoes, the chopped red pepper and the tomato puree. Stir and add some seasoning.
› Pour in the beef or vegetable stock. Stir again.
› Add as much chilli powder as you like (start with half a teaspoon, you can always add more later) and add the kidney beans.
› Leave the chilli to simmer for around 20 mins.
Teaching your teenager how to make a hearty bowl of soup using whatever vegetables they have in the fridge, or can find at the farmers market, is a brilliant and inexpensive way to help your children confidently feed themselves. Soups also freeze really well.
Vegetable Soup Ingredients
• 1 onion finely chopped
• 1 garlic clove crushed
• 1 inch of ginger peeled but left whole
• 1 bay leaf
• 2 carrots peeled and diced
• ½ a sweet potato peeled and diced (pumpkin or butternut squash are also good)
• 1 cup cauliflower finely diced
• 1 vegetable or chicken stock cube plus 2 cups hot water
• Salt and pepper to taste
› Cook the onion until it is translucent (8 minutes) making sure it doesn’t burn.
› Add the garlic, ginger, bay leaf and carrots and cook for two minutes.
› Add the sweet potato or pumpkin and two minutes later the cauliflower.
› Season with salt and pepper and allow everything to cook for a couple of minutes and then add the stock.
› Cook for 20 minutes.
› Remove the ginger and bay leaf and blend to the desired consistency or leave chunky.
The ultimate comfort food – serve this soup with cheese on toast. Perfect for a cold rainy day when your teenager might be missing home!
› Follow the tomato sauce recipe on page 34 or defrost a single portion if you already have some in your freezer.
› Place in a pan on a medium heat.
› Add basil and ½ a cup of water, vegetable or chicken stock.
› Add a splash of cream.
› Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle on some grated cheese and serve.
Minted Pea & Spinach Soup
A super easy and quick soup to prepare. A healthy low calorie option that is perfect for warm sunny days.
• 10oz frozen peas
• ½ cup frozen spinach
• Handful of fresh mint leaves
• ½ a vegetable or chicken stock cube
• The green part of one spring onion / scallion chopped
› Place defrosted peas, spinach, onion, mint and stock cube in a blender.
› Cover with cold water or stock and blend.
› Season with salt and pepper.
› Keep the bright green soup in the fridge until ready to serve and then warm up just before serving. (Please note, if you overcook this soup it will lose its vibrant colour!)
Cut down on takeaway bills by teaching your adolescent how to make pizzas from scratch. Making your own pizzas is a great way to spend an evening with friends – you can even turn it into a competition; the person with the most creative pizza wins! To make things even easier, we have come up with a two-ingredient pizza dough base that even novice cooks will be able to master. Give it a go with both savoury and sweet toppings!
Pizza Dough Ingredients
•1 cup full fat Greek yoghurt
•1 cup self-raising flour (or rice flour if you are gluten-free)
› Mix flour and Greek yoghurt together in a bowl.
› Transfer to a work surface floured with self-rising flour.
› Knead dough, adding more flour as needed to keep dough from being too sticky, for 8 to 10 minutes.
• Preheat oven to 475°F.
• Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
• Divide the dough into 4 equal balls and roll out to form a pizza shape about ½ cm thick.
• Place on the baking sheet and bake in the centre of the oven for 5-10 minutes until the crust begins to bubble and turn golden.
• Remove from the oven and add the toppings of your choice.
• Return to the oven and cook for a further 5-7 minutes until cooked. Serve with a salad.
› For the tomato sauce you can use three defrosted tomato sauce cubes.
› Add any of the following additional toppings: grated mozzarella, mushrooms, salami, peppers, chicken, ham, tinned pineapple – the choices are endless!
› When mixing the dough remove two tablespoons of flour and add two tablespoons of cocoa powder and an optional tablespoon of sugar.
› Divide the dough into 4 equal balls and roll out to form a pizza shape about ½ cm thick.
› Place on the baking sheet and bake in the centre of the oven for 5-10 minutes until the crust begins to bubble and turn golden.
› Remove from the oven and spread generously with Nutella, add chopped bananas or strawberries and sliced almonds.
› Return to the oven for 2-5 minutes.
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