Couscous muffins and quinoa “cakes”

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Whilst browsing my Twitter feed this week, I came across an interesting little recipe for quinoa bites from Organix and thought I’d give it a go. You’ll find the recipe at https://www.organix.com/food-planner-recipes/recipes/quinoa-bites.  Despite the growing popularity for this pseudocereal (particularly as a low gulten, wheat-free alternative), it isn’t something I’ve ever used before myself, although I have eaten it.  This made me even more curious to try out these little bites.

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They were quite easy to make and have passed the Lentil test, although we’ve renamed them “quinoa cakes”.  We’ve had a few birthdays recently, which Lentil now “gets” and as a result anything with “cake” in the name seems to go down a treat! A collective of birthdays has also meant listening to Lentil sing “happy birthday” at least four times a day such that I can’t get the tune out of my head…..

I’ve also been meaning to create a healthy little snack with couscous for a while.  I thought a cheesy couscous ball would pass the Lentil taste test.  But my couscous balls have become mini muffins as despite going into the oven as perfect almost equally sized spheres they came out anything but perfectly rounded!

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Makes 30 mini muffins, so good for parties or you can freeze some.

The what:

160g couscous

4 medium eggs, lightly beaten

1 large onion, finely chopped

70g Parmesan, grated

30g mozzarella, grated

2 tsp sage, finely chopped

large handful (approx 1tbsp) parsley, finely chopped

The how:

Pre-heat oven to 200 (180 fan).

For the couscous follow instructions on the pack.  Generally, this involves putting the couscous into a large bowl, adding about 200ml boiling water, mixing and covering for 5 minutes).  Then leave it to cool.

Add all the other ingredients to the cooled couscous and mix well.  Cover a baking tray with parchment/baking paper, mold your couscous balls / muffins and place on the paper.  Cook in the oven for 20 minutes until golden.

Enjoy!

A few of Coco’s favourites

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Now that little Coco is eating three meals a day, I thought I’d share a few of her current favourites with you: sweet potato and fish purée; lentils and apple, pear compote.  We still have to purée everything, although we’ve detected a glimmer of white through her bottom gum so hopefully she’ll have a few teeth soon.  I was beginning to wonder if she had any in there at all!

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Potato and veggie dauphinoise

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This is my tasty little twist on a traditional potato dauphinoise.  It’s easy to make and great as a side to a fish or meat dish, or even just on it’s own as a veggie option.

Makes 3 large or 5 small portions

The what:

a knob of unsalted butter

1 onion, finely sliced

4 baby leeks, trimmed and finely sliced

1 small courgette, finely sliced

3 medium potatoes, peeled and finely sliced

100ml full-fat milk

200ml cream

100g cheddar cheese, grated

a little nutmeg, grated

Tip: To get really thin slices of potato use a mandolin slicer. The potatoes crisp up nicely in the oven.

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The how:

Preheat the oven to 200 (180 fan).

Melt the butter in a saucepan and saute the onion, leeks and courgette until soft (about 2-3 minutes).  In a separate saucepan heat the milk, cream and nutmeg on medium heat for 5 minutes.

Rub an ovenproof dish with some unsalted butter and empty the onion, leeks and courgette into it.  Next add layers of potato until you have used all of them.  Pour over the sauce and sprinkle with grated cheese.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden.  This dish is suitable for freezing.

Crunchy blueberry smoothie

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I’m simply hopeless at eating pieces of fruit: I always forget (or go for the biscuit tin instead!) so I started making smoothies to try to pack in my 5-a-day.  Of course Lentil was fascinated with mummy’s new drink, especially when he saw me sprinkle granola on top, and wanted some too.  Great as a mid-morning snack or dessert for little ones.  This will only take you about 5 minutes too!

Makes one large glass or a medium and a lentil-sized glass.

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Sweet fishy burgers

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Lentil loves fish and these little fishy burgers are easy to make and packed full of goodness.

Makes 4 large and 3 mini burgers

 

 

 

Tip: If you have time, it is worth making these a day before cooking and leaving in the fridge overnight to allow the burgers to set, or even half an hour would be good before coating and baking.

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The what:

15g unsalted butter

400g sweet potato, peeled and chopped

220g salmon fillets, skin removed

1 leek, finely sliced

1 onion, finely sliced

1 small garlic clove, finely chopped

small handful of chives, snipped with scissors

1/4 tsp paprika

small handful of parsley, finely chopped

1 bay leaf

1 egg, lightly beaten

500ml fish or chicken stock

squirt of lime

pepper to season

For the coating:

120g breadcrumbs

2 egg yolks

Tip: to make the leek easier to slice, cut it in half to form two semi-circular shapes (to avoid it rolling around as you cut) before finely slicing.

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The how:

Melt the unsalted butter in a large saucepan and sweat the garlic, leek and onion for 2-3 minutes.  Add the potatoes, stock and bay leaf, cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes.  Then add the fish and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Next remove the bay leaf and drain off the stock well to remove as much moisture as possible or it will be difficult to shape the burgers. Once drained put the fish and potato mixture back in the pan adding the chives, lime juice, paprika, parsley, egg and season with pepper.  Mash together and shape into burgers with your hands and place in the fridge for 30 minutes / overnight.

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Pre-heat the oven to 200C (180C fan).

To coat the burgers take two bowls and put the beaten egg yolks in one and the breadcrumbs in the other.  Place a burger in the egg yolk first, using a teaspoon to fully coat it and then place in the breadcrumbs, turning it over to ensure the all sides are covered. Repeat for all the burgers.

If freezing any of burgers for a later date, do so now and cook once they have fully defrosted.

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 To cook the burgers, place on a lightly oiled baking tray and cook for 20-25 minutes until the coating is golden and crispy.

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Veggie mac and cheese

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Pasta seems to be a favourite at the moment.  If Lentil is given any choice at all, the response is “pasta” even if it wasn’t one of the choices!  I received a very nice and timely cookery class voucher from some friends recently so I have booked myself on the “Pasta Master” class.  I’m not convinced giving up 90 minutes on a Saturday morning is going to make me a master of anything, but it should be a bit of fun.  Will I be posting some homemade pasta recipes soon….who knows?!

In the meantime, here’s a quick ‘n easy veggie macaroni cheese recipe using shop bought pasta!

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Cuddly & warm beef bourguignon

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This is my take on beef bourguignon for little ones, i.e. sans the burgundy!  Not as yummy as the adult version so if your kids are a little older and you want to make this for whole family include a little burgundy: any alcohol should have evaporated by the time it has finished cooking.  Although it takes a long time to cook, the prep is pretty quick and then you can just leave it in the oven while you relax (i.e. sort out the overflowing laundry basket, play hid & seek or read the “Tiger who came to Tea” for the thousandth time!)

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Buttery Buttermilk Chicken

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Lentil Is going through the painfully slow process of getting his back teeth at the moment which can affect his appetite for days at a time.  Having endured a few days of very little eating, mealtimes becoming a bit of a battlefield, I was delighted when he devoured this little dish!

Makes 3-4 portions

The what:

10g unsalted butter

3 mini chicken breasts, cubed

50ml buttermilk

6 mushrooms, sliced

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 onion, chopped

a squidge of tomato puree

4 tbsp creme fraiche

1 tsp lemon juice

a tbsp parsley, finely chopped so the little ones don’t spot any big green leaves they don’t want to eat!

pepper to season

Serve with about 25g per portion of pasta or rice.

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The how:

Marinade the chicken in buttermilk for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile saute the onion, garlic and mushrooms in the butter on medium heat.  Remove from the pan and set aside.  Turn up the heat and cook the chicken for 7-8 minutes until it is cooked through.  Next re-add the onions, garlic and mushrooms and stir.  Add the tomato puree, creme fraiche and lemon juice and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Season with pepper and mix in the parsley.

Serve with pasta or rice.

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Carrot & Cauliflower Lentils

Twinkle, Twinkle, little lentils…..

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Lentils are a great source of protein and really easy and quick to cook.  Luckily our little Lentil loves them too! Even if he’s unwell and his appetite isn’t great, he’ll devour any lentil dish.  You can add whatever vegetables you have in your vegetable drawer.  I’ve married carrots and cauliflower for this recipe.  The carrots help sweeten the dish a little.

Makes 4 portions

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The what:

15g unsalted butter

1 tsp olive oil

200g cauliflower florets.  The woody stems generally don’t appeal to children (and I can understand why!) so I remove these.

1/2 onion, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1 celery stick, finely chopped

90g puy / green lentils

400ml chicken/vegetable stock

a pinch of pepper to season (optional)

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The how:

Sweat the onions, celery and carrots in the butter in a saucepan on medium heat and add a little olive oil.

Steam the cauliflower, either using a steamer over a pan of boiling water or a microwaveable steamer.  Next add the steamed cauliflower, lentils and stock to the onions, celery and carrots and bring to the boil.  Then cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  Stir in the pepper to season.

You can freeze extra portions for another day.

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Homemade Lamb Burgers

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These little burgers are incredibly easy to make and you can freeze them individually in freezer bags and defrost and cook when your little tot is hungry! You can also shape them into koftes using wooden skewers, although strictly speaking they aren’t a kofte!  That’s a recipe for another day…..

Makes 6 mini burgers / koftes or 2 large and 2 mini burgers. Continue reading

A fruity little caterpillar

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One of Lentil’s favourite bedtime stories is Eric Carle’s “The Hungry Caterpillar”.  He has 4 different versions of the book!  So today I took some inspiration from this cute story for his post-nap snack (yes he still naps and I’m soooo loving it especially on those rare occasions when Trouble sleeps at the same time!!)

I like having a bit of fun with food sometimes and it makes it a bit more interesting for Lentil too. I still haven’t got him eating oranges though – just too citrusy and obviously I didn’t allow him eat the legs! But the bananas, strawberries and raisins were devoured.

Lentil’s Second Birthday

Let them eat cake!

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I can’t believe my little Lentil is turning two this week!  And of course a birthday calls for some cake.  I’m having a slight melt down about said cake this year. Having only baked a couple of cakes theretofore and never having decorated any, I decided (in my wisdom) last year that I should bake / make all Lentil’s birthday cakes. Or at least until he’s about 18! Boy, am I beginning to regret my earthly-motherness now….

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