Spiced Apple and Pear Compote

Delicious yoghurt topping

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Coco and Lentil are big yoghurt fans and little tubs of raspberry, strawberry, apricot or peach flavoured yoghurt are a regular after supper dessert.  Generally, Lentil chooses one first and little Coco gets whichever flavour he discards.  I allow Lentil this little concession as I suspect it will quickly come to an end once Coco starts talking!

I like to add a bit of texture and additional flavour to their yoghurts and this little compote is a quick and tasty topping.  It helps with satisfying your little charges’ 5 or 3 (depending on which school of thought you subscribe to!) a day; can be pureed for babies; and is suitable for freezing. It also makes a good combo with creme fraiche, or adds a little healthiness to an ice-cream treat!

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Makes 4 portions.

The what:

2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped into kiddie bite-sized chunks

2 pears, peeled, cored and chopped into kiddie bite-sized chunks

a handful of raisins or other dried fruit

1/4 tsp of mixed spice

60ml water

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The how:

Put all the ingredients into a pan and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly. The compote is ready once the apple and pear are soft but not mushy.  If the compote starts to stick to the bottom of the pan add a little more water.

Then it’s ready to serve: on its own, with yoghurt, creme fraiche or ice-cream!  It is also delicious with porridge or muesli…..endless possibilities!

Enjoy!

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Tuna Casserole

Tuna Casserole, aka tuna pasta bake

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This dish combines two of Lentil’s favourite foods – fish and pasta. So I was expecting it to pass the Lentil taste test with flying colours – surely?? Well actually, it only got the star sticker of approval second time round.  I made the first dish using Penne pasta.  Fine for adults, but the pasta was just a bit too big for a toddler-sized mouth.  The eating of it made more difficult as said toddler hasn’t quite mastered cutting his food with a knife, yet insists on trying everything himself without any help!!  Suffice to say it was a very long mealtime and require infinite patience!

Lesson learnt I decided to use macaroni on the second attempt.  The result was the same delicious taste, but a toddler-friendly eating experience.  Big sigh of relief all round!

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Apple, Date and Raisin Compote

A versatile fruity compote – equally delicious served warm or cold

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This quick and tasty little compote is great for jazzing up yoghurts, adding to porridge or muesli, or simply on its own.  It’s also makes a delicious fruity weaning puree if you give it a few pulses with the blender.  Run out of chutney for the cheese board?  It’s a complementary substitute for that too.  I usually make extra and pop little tubs of it in the freezer. You gotta love such simple, versatile food!

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Fish Pie

Comforting fish pie with salmon, white fish, potatoes and cheese

DSC_0130aThe only fish and indeed the only pie I ate as a child was my mother’s fish pie topped with crumbled cheese and onion crisps.  And not just any cheese and onion crisps: a very special brand called Tayto, which are only available in the 4 fair provinces of Ireland.  It was such a special dinner.  As a young girl I wasn’t a great eater and dinnertime was a bit of a chore.  Fish pie day on the other hand was such a joy – who ever heard of having a treat like crisps with dinner??

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Fruit and Oat Bars

These crumbly, crunchy bars are just divine!  Mix up supermarket snacks with some home-baked treats.

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Everyone needs snacks and our family is no different!  Whenever Lentil asks for a rice cake or cereal bar I think I really need to come up with some healthy, tasty alternatives to supermarket bought treats that his Papa will also like! That’s not to say that supermarket-bought snacks don’t have their place – of course they do!  Some of the big brands now make healthy, organic snacks, which are super convenient.  I’d be kidding myself if I thought I could bake all my kids snacks, but I like to try when I can.

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Parmigiana

Parmigiana with a pinch of healthiness.  A great vegetarian option on its own or as a side dish

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The origins of this traditional dish are disputed. Jamie Oliver refers to it as a “classic northern Italian recipe” and is in good company: Antonio Carluccio confesses “I’ve never known whether this dish is called ‘parmigiana’ because it comes from Parma, or because it’s made with Parmesan cheese”. But  although the name may be claimed by the north, Carluccio concedes that the recipe stems from Sicily in the South.

My own Parmigiana story has less exotic origins! Continue reading

Bircher Muesli

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Simply known as Müesli in Switzerland and southern Baden-Württemberg, Bircher muesli was developed by Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner at the turn of the twentieth century.  A similar dish had been a staple in the diet of the Alpine shepherds for over a hundred years before Bircher was introduced to it by an Alpine dairymaid whilst hiking in the Swiss Alps. Bircher named his dish Apfeldiätspeise (the apple diet dish).

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Quinoa stir-fry

I really like this healthy, but tasty stir-fry and better still it’s quick and easy to make.  We hope you love it too!

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I’ve become a big fan of quinoa recently and luckily the kids seem to like it too.  It’s a great source of protein and really easy to cook.  As such a small grain it’s also great to use in weaning recipes, particularly if little ones have few teeth and are only getting used to managing solids!

Makes 2 large portions and 1 small portion

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The what:

120g quinoa

100g Edamme beans

a bunch of spring onions

1cm ginger

handful of coriander

2 baby pak choi

5 baby corn

juice of 1/2 lime

small handful sesame seeds

1/2 tbsp sunflower oil

For the sauce:

1 tbsp sesame oil

1/2 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp Oyster sauce

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The how:

Cook the quinoa according to instructions on the packet.

To make the sauce mix together all the ingredients.

Heat the sunflower oil in a large saute pan and saute the onions, garlic and ginger.  Remove and set aside.  Add all the other vegetables to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the sauce and cook for a further 2-3 depending on how crunchy you like your vegetables.  Stir in the onions, garlic, ginger and quinoa.  Sprinkle over the sesame seeds and coriander and serve.

 

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Cucumber and Pineapple Smoothie

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I love this flavour combination, which I happened upon accidentally while creating Riata for my chickpea and sweet potato curry (click here in case you missed it!).  I don’t know why I never thought of cucumber and pineapple before, but I’m sure glad I’ve found it now!!

Lentil loves smoothies and now regularly asks for them, so I’m constantly on the lookout for new concoctions and this one definitely seems to be a winner. Smoothies are also a great way to use up that leftover bit of cucumber in the fridge that would otherwise end up in the bin.

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The what:

a think slice of pineapple, peeled and chopped

1/3 cucumber, peeled and sliced

handful fresh mint

4 tbsp natural yoghurt

1 tsp honey

The how:

Blend the pineapple, cucumber and mint in a food processor, then add the yoghurt and honey and blend until well combined.  You can either serve as a textured smoothie, or pass through a sieve if you prefer a drinkable smoothie without any “bits”.  Personally, I prefer the former, but some kids might be put off by the “bits”.

Have a smoooooothie day!

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Fruity Coconut Porridge

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Porridge is a great breakfast to start off the day, especially for growing children and Lentil and Coco eat it most mornings.   It’s so simple and quick too. We usually add raisins, maybe some cinnamon, or other fruit. They don’t seem to tire of it, but I do!  So every so often, I try out a few new flavours. Coconut is a current favourite. I’ve used banana, strawberries and blueberries here, but you can add any fruit, whatever will get you going on a Monday morning!

Makes 1 adult and 1 child portion (about 4tbsp for an adult and 2 tbsp for a child portion).  Just multiply accordingly for the rest of the family.

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The what:

6 tbsp organic porridge oats

350ml milk

2 heaped tbsp coconut flakes plus extra for sprinkling on top

1 banana, sliced

handful of strawberries, topped and sliced

handful of blueberries

The how:

Add the porridge oats and milk to a saucepan and bring to the boil.  Add the coconut flakes and simmer for about 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Serve with your favourite fruit (or whatever is leftover in the fruit bowl!) piled high and sprinkle some coconut flakes on top.

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Enjoy!

Homemade take-away curry

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OK, I know it’s a contradiction in terms!  But you can cook take-away style food at home.  It’s quick, much healthier and you can serve in take-away boxes for a really authentic experience!  It’s also much cheaper than ordering a take-away.

I wanted to introduce Coco and Lentil to some gentle curry flavours and spices without creating too complex or piquant a first dish.  As this recipe is really easy and quick to make it’s perfect for a midweek dinner.  The mango chutney adds a refreshing element.

 

Makes 2 adult and 3 child portions.

The what:

600g chicken fillet, sliced into bite-sized pieces

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp turmeric

6 tbsp natural yoghurt

60g raisins

2 small red onions, sliced

1 tbsp olive oil

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For the mango chutney:

1 mango, skin removed and finely chopped

1 red onion, finely chopped

lime juice

1 clove garlic, finely sliced

2 small apples, peeled and finely chopped

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The how:

Add the spices to a large bowl and mix in the yoghurt to make the marinade.  Stir in the diced chicken, mix well ensuring all the chicken is coated and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

To make the chutney, simply add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix well.  Cover and place in the fridge until needed.

When the chicken is ready to be cooked heat the olive oil in a large saute pan, add the red onion and cook for 2-3 minutes to soften.  Next add the chicken and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the raisins and cook for a further 10 minutes. Make sure the chicken is cooked through before removing from the heat.

Serve with rice (brown if you’re feeling very healthy) and the mango chutney.

Enjoy!

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Asparagus and Peas with pasta

IMG_4580aCoco and I have been eating loads of beans, fruit, pasta, pulses and veg this week.  Mummy says it’s in celebration of National Vegetarian Week.  We’ve had some old favourites from Mummy’s very veggie like Speedy Gonzales Risotto and Flying Lentils.

Mummy and Daddy are also going all green and veggie.  Tonight we’re all having pasta.  Except Mia, she can’t eat the long pasta yet because she only has one tiny tooth.  I made the pasta all by myself. Er, well, Mummy helped me put the tip of the pasta dough into the machine, but I did all the rest!  It was a little hard, but although I’m only two, I’m very strong.  I used my two hands to turn the lever and roll the pasta through the machine until it got really, really thin.   Mummy has made a really quick sauce to go with the pasta using some seasonal vegetables.

Tip:

You can easily turn this into a weaning dish too.  Just puree the asparagus and peas with a handheld blender before adding to the cheese sauce.  Serve with tiny pasta stars or other very small pasta shapes.

The what:

400g asparagus, sliced (you may want to slice it into very small pieces for little ones, or larger if they are a little older)

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120g frozen peas

200ml Creme fraiche

50g grated mozzarella cheese

a little nutmeg, grated

pepper to season

 

The how:

Add the asparagus and peas to boiling water and cook for 1-2 minutes, then drain and set aside.

Heat the creme fraiche in a small saucepan until it liquefies.  Add the mozzarella and stir for 1-2 minutes until the cheese has melted.  Then stir in the asparagus, peas and mint.  Grate in some nutmeg and add some pepper to season.

Serve with your favourite pasta.  Spaghetti and tagliatelle are great with this sauce.

To make your own pasta like me, look at Mummy’s The Italian Dream post (http://bit.ly/1FqigXO).  It’s easy peasy!

Beef stir-fry

This tasty little dish provides a gentle introduction to some oriental flavours, helped along by the novelty of eating with chop sticks or “chip chops” as Lentil calls them!  There are loads of different types of toddler training chop sticks available online or in some high street stores.

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The what:

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300g rump steak

70g green beans, trimmed and chopped in half / three

1cm fresh ginger, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

80g bean sprouts

small handful of coriander, finely chopped

4 spring onions, sliced

1 tbsp olive oil

Noodles / rice to serve

Tip:

If meat is tough it takes too long for kids to chew with their little milk teeth.  They soon get bored and lose their appetite, or they just spit it out! So if your meat is a little on the tough side, cut it into smaller pieces and cook for a little longer to tenderise.

The how:

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan.  Add the garlic, beef and ginger and cook over a high heat until the meat is browned.  Next add the green beans, spring onions, beansprouts and cook for a further 5 minutes until the meat is cooked through and the beans have a bit to them. Take off the heat and sprinkle with the coriander.

Serve with rice or mashed potato and don’t forget the “chip chops”!

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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.

Bacon and Mushroom Quiche

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Quiche is a great sharing meal and your little ones will enjoy eating what Mama and Papa are eating too! Quiche is also an easy and healthy option for kids (or adult!) parties. I usually do a meaty and a veggie option.

You can use shop-bought shortcrust pastry or if you’re feeling a little bit of the chef pâtissier why not make your own! Click here to see how. Cooking with my own pastry makes me feel like a culinary goddess, if only momentarily!

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Simply Shortcrust

I learnt how to make pastry a couple of years ago and was amazed at how easy it is.  You really can’t go wrong (unlike some of the experiences I’ve had making bread!). It’s so much tastier than shop-bought pastry and I actually find the process quite relaxing and therapeutic.  It also freezes well so I usually make extra and use it to make another quiche or fruit pie at a later date.  Here’s a quick recipe for shortcrust pastry, which is great for quiches and savory or sweet tarts or pies.

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