Clare Lavin – mum to seven-year-old Oscar and two-year-old Darcy – has always been passionate about cooking. The Dubai-based mother-of-two made it to the quarter finals of Junior Masterchef and then later appeared on the cookery show, Masterchef Goes Large. Having passed on her love of whipping up fun, innovative meals to Oscar, she now encourages him to help her in the kitchen teaching him new skills and encouraging his creative flair. Her specialities are cooking quick and easy dishes that the whole family can enjoy. For more family-friendly recipes, follow Clare on Instagram @claresfamilykitchen.
Spider web meatballs
500g low fat minced beef
50g ground almonds
Pinch mixed dried herbs
Pinch ground cinnamon
Salt and pepper for seasoning
200g carton passata
Spagetti, cooked to packed instructions
Handful of black pitted olives, cut in half
Pretzel sticks cut in half
STEP 1: To make the meatballs, put the minced beef, almonds, egg, herbs, cinnamon in a bowl, mix thoroughly with your hands and season. Roll into medium sized balls – the mix should make about 12 meatballs. Refrigerate for
a minimum of half an hour, and can
STEP 2: Fry meatballs in a little oil in a frying pan, turning regularly so that they brown evenly all over. Transfer to an oven proof dish and put in a pre-heated oven for 20 minutes at 180
STEP 3: Heat the passata in a saucepan and cook the spaghetti. To assemble, first put a nest of spaghetti, with passata in the centre, use the grated cheese to make a “web”, place meatballs on top and decorate with the olives for eyes and pretzel sticks as legs.
TIP: You can make a big batch of meatballs ahead of time as they freeze really well. Then bring them out and make them in to spiders when you need them.
Spooky chocolate tray bake
50g cocoa powder
6 tbsp boiling water
200g caster sugar
3 large eggs
175g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
White and black fondant icing
STEP 1: Put the cocoa in a large bowl, add the boiling water and mix until smooth. Add the margarine and stir until smooth, then add the remaining cake ingredients and mix
STEP 2: Pour into a shallow tin (approx. 10 by 10 inches) lined with parchment, spread evenly and bake in a preheated oven for 30 mins, or until well risen.
STEP 3: Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out and peel off the baking parchment. Cut into 12 pieces (rectangles).
STEP 4: For the fondant decoration, roll the icing and cut into strips, that can be used to decorate each slice of the chocolate tray bake. Make a good number of googly eyes, and place as appropriate.
TIP: You could design any type of spooky character on the slices such as a Frankenstien or a ghost. Use your imagination...
For the cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches
Sliced wholemeal bread
Cucumber, sliced thinly
Halloween cutter (ghost shaped)
For the carrot pumpkins
For the banana ghouls
Two ripe bananas
Step 1: Make up a batch of sandwiches, and use halloween cutter to shape. This does not have to be a ghost, but can be any Halloween shaped cutter you can find. This is so effective as a surprise treat in the childrens lunchbox.
Step 2: For the carrot pumpkins, slice the carrot and shape but indenting a pumpkin stalk. Use a pastry brush to cover in lemon juice to keep moist in the lunchbox.
Step 3: For the banana ghouls, cut the bananas in half, brush with lemon juice to stop them going brown, and used the melted chocolate to draw a ghouls eye – you can even add the nose and mouth if you are feeling adventurous!
TIP: Don't tell your kids that you have made them a special Halloween packed lunch, it will be a lovely surprise for them at lunch time.
300g soft brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
300g self raising flour
80g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
100g choc chips
Googly eyes made from fondant icing (from the tray bake recipe).
Step 1: Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in vanilla extract and eggs. Then add the flour, cocoa and baking powder.
Step 2: Fold in choc chips until just combined. Spoon a tablespoon of the mixture on to a baking tray lined with baking parchment paper, and just let it drop off the spoon, repeat until you have used up all the cookie mixture. Decorate with the M&Ms on top.
Step 3: Bake in preheated oven for 12 minutes, when you remove the cookies from the oven, leave to cool completely on the baking tray, where they will continue to cook slightly. When completely cold move to a cooling rack.
Step 4: Once completely cool, decorate with the googly eyes!
TIP: You could use maltesers instead of M&Ms.