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)

IMG_4566aa large handful of fresh mint, finely sliced

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!

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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Easter salt and sugar-free bakes

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These are a healthy, sugar and salt free little treat for little tummies.  The fruit makes them just sweet enough so they don’t last very long!

 

 

The what:

30g dried pitted dates, chopped

30g dried cranberries, chopped

130g flour

1tsp baking powder

60g unsalted butter

30ml water

The how:

Melt the butter in a small saucepan and set aside to cool.  Meanwhile puree the dates and cranberries with a hand-held blender, adding the 30 ml of water. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a large bowl.  Next add the butter and puree and mix well.  Shape into a ball, wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 200 (180 fan).  Remove the cookie dough from the fridge and soften a little between your hands.  Roll out on a floured surface using a rolling-pin until it is about 1cm thick.  Then cut your biscuit shapes and add to a lightly greased baking tray.  Cook in the oven for about 10 minutes, until golden.

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Enjoy!

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.

Coco’s weaning diary – week 2

Day 8:

DSC_0870aI feel all at sea. Being six months old is really, really hard! So many new things to learn and remember: I don’t think Mummy and Papa realise how confusing it can be. Having turned my world upside down last week with this new “food” stuff Mummy decides to give me even more food this week – twice a day! And the food stuff keeps changing. Just as I get used to the sweet potato stuff, she gives me something else.

Today Mummy gives me something she calls “papaya”. She says it’s a lovely fruit from the Carica tropical fruit tree.  I wonder if that’s one of the trees in our garden that Papa likes to show me with the birds on it that say “tweet, tweet”?? I’m not so sure about eating things from trees though….

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I try the papaya.  Uhmm….no, I’m not liking this.  Mummy says it’s bath time next. I love bath time. I kick my legs a lot and water splashes everywhere, sometimes even in my brother’s face, which is funny…hehe.  I really want to have a bath so I eat another few spoonfuls of papaya.

Day 9:

DSC_0817aMummy sometimes calls me a little princess and once, at bedtime, told me a story about a princess and a pea.  At lunchtime today Mummy tries to feed me peas.  I don’t recall the princess in the story having to eat the pea and I’m not sure about this: the peas are very green.  Mummy mixes the peas with some potato.  It’s white, not like the orange “sweet potato” I like. It doesn’t taste too bad though and I my tummy feels a bit empty so I eat one whole portion of the peas AND a portion of potato.  Mummy is very pleased.

Day 10:

DSC_0847aI don’t think this eating business is going to stop.  Mummy just keeps giving me more food and now I have to eat everyday as well as drink milk and sleep.  So many things to do and remember!

Today Papa gives me some food.  It looks like that “apple” stuff, but with something else yellow on top.  Papa calls the yellow stuff “mango”.  The apple still makes me blink a lot and the apple and mango are a bit cold (not like the warm pea and potato).  I spit some out and try to tell him I prefer warm food, but he doesn’t seem to understand and puts more apple and mango into my mouth. Why are these parent people so silly sometimes?

Day 12:

Maybe Papa did understand me when I said I prefer warm food as yesterday he gave me some warm sweet potato for lunch – yummy! I ate two portions so he would know I really like it.  He was very happy.  I really wish he would tell mummy I like sweet potato.  Today before bath time Mummy tries to give me some more carrot stuff mixed with PEAS!  Yuck! The pea with the white potato was OK, but this is disgusting.  What is Mummy thinking?  I spit out the first few spoonfuls, but Mummy tries to give me more so I stuff my whole fist in my mouth so she can’t put in anymore.

Day 13:

Oh no, is that more carrot Mummy has in the bowl?  It’s orange like carrot, but Mummy says it’s “butternut squash”.  That’s a really long name, I don’t think I can remember that.  I’ll try a little but if it tastes anything like carrot, I’m stuffing my fist back in my mouth!

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Ooh, it’s quite nice.  I think I like it more than that other orange sweet potato stuff.  It’s nice and sweet tasting.  I think I’ll eat all of this…quickly before bath time.

Mummy’s edit 

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Following a shaky start last week, little Coco seems to have taken to her food a bit better this week.  Having started with one meal a day, for weeks 2-4, I am giving her two meals: one at lunchtime and the other at tea time, both followed by milk.

Coco is doing quite well with the vegetables, particularly the root vegetables, but is not yet a fan of fruit.  One would expect the opposite! It’s just a case of persevering, discovering what foods and tastes she likes and what she doesn’t like.  I have started to introduce a couple of tastes together in one meal such as the potato and pea and apple and mango. Over the next few weeks I’ll introduce more new foods and continue to give her those she likes, such as butternut squash, sweet potato and potato and pea.

I might dispense with the carrot for a while….she really seems to dislike it, which makes the clean up operation a nightmare!  Coco may come to like it or it maybe her one food hate, like celery is to me!

What mummy made:

Papaya purée – makes 3 portions

Peal a papaya, slice in half and remove all the seeds. Chop up and blend using a hand-held blender.  Papayas are quite juicy so add 2 tbsp of baby rice to the purée to thicken it up.

Pea purée – makes 3 portions

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Add 200g frozen peas to boiling water and bring back to the boil. Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Drain the peas and add 1-2 tbsp of your baby’s milk. Blend using a hand-held blender, adding more of your baby’s milk, if needed, to achieve the right consistency for your baby.

Potato purée – makes 8 portions

Peal and half 3 medium-sized potatoes.  Add to a pot of boiling water, bring back to the boil and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes until a knife cuts easily into the potatoes.  Add a knob of unsalted butter and 4 tbsp of your baby’s milk.  Mix together well and pass through a potato ricer, to give a really smooth mash.  If you don’t have a potato ricer, you can mash with a standard masher instead – it’s just takes a little muscle to achieve a smooth purée!

Mango purée – makes 3 portions

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Cut a mango on either side of the central stone and discard the stone leaving you with two halves.  Cut through the flesh (but not the skin) of each half vertically and then horizontally.  Then invert each mango half into a hedgehog so you can easily cut out the cubed flesh.  Blend with a hand-held blender.  If needed, you can use a pestle to grind any remaining lumps.

Butternut squash purée – 1/2 half makes 5 portions

Pre-heat the oven to 200 (180 fan). Slice a butternut squash in half and remove the seeds.  Place the butternut squash flesh side up on a baking tray.  Melt a knob of unsalted butter in a pan or in a microwaveable dish in the microwave and brush over the fleshy side of the butternut squash, including the cavity.  Cook in the oven for 35-40 minutes until soft. Remove from the oven and scoop out the flesh.  Blend with a hand-held blender, adding some of your baby’s milk, if needed, to achieve a smooth purée. If you only use half the butternut squash for the purée, why not use the other half to make some of my “Wise Owl Risotto” http://bit.ly/1AdFBgi

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Tip: You can freeze the purées in ice-cube trays and cover with a freezer bag. Just pop a cube out as and when you need it. As your little ones get used to solids, you can increase the number of cubes you give them. Alternatively you can use little freezer-proof pots and label each with the date and contents.

Happy weaning!!

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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Coco’s weaning diary – week 1

Day 1:

DSC_0697bMy mummy, papa and brother all put weird colourful things into their mouths when we sit down at the long wooden thing in our kitchen.  I just have milk – I love my milk.  Today mummy tries to put some very strange orange stuff in my mouth using a blue and pink thing, which she calls a spoon.  Mummy says the orange stuff is “baby carrot”. I really don’t like it and screw up my face in disgust.  Mummy says I should try a little more and before I can wobble my lower lip and threaten tears, she puts another spoonful into my mouth. I try to swallow it but it makes me gag and then it all comes back out again.  Ha! Mummy won’t try that again!

Day 2:

DSC_0726bOh no, mummy is insisting on putting weird stuff in my mouth again! Despite my obvious disapproval, there is more orange stuff today.  It tastes different to the “carrot” stuff, but is still yucky.  Mummy calls this new orange stuff “sweet potato”. She says Lentil liked the orange stuff when he was a baby. Well…mummy should know by now that I have my own mind, even though I’m only very small.  She also says that this stuff she calls “solids” or “food” will help me sleep better. I really don’t mind waking up at night for milk and I always smile at mummy when I do. So why all the fuss about this food business??

This new orange stuff also makes me gag and this time I not only wobble my lower lip, I cry very loudly with proper big tears.  It works, mummy gives me some milk!

Day 3:

DSC_0687bEven after all the tears yesterday, Mummy tries to give me carrot again today. Although it doesn’t make me gag as much as the first day, I still don’t like it.  I just want my milk.  I spit most of it out, knock over the little tub and throw the spoon thing on the floor.  I get it all over my face and hands and make as much mess as possible.  Mummy doesn’t seem to mind the mess: she has covered me in a big plastic thing with birds and flowers on it, which she calls a “bib”.  She even gives me an encouraging smile to get my hands stuck in! What do I have to do to get her to stop giving me this orange stuff??

Day 4:

OK, message received: no sign of any orange stuff today!  Oh no, what’s that? Some weird white and green stuff.  It is a little sour tasting and makes me blink and shake my head. Mummy says it is called “apple”.  I haven’t had any milk for lunch yet and am quite peckish so maybe I should try a little. Some of it falls back out landing on the “bib” thing, but Mummy says I have done very well.  I’m not sure if that is good: does it mean I have to have more??

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Day 5: 

It seems it does mean I’ve to have more! New green stuff today.  Mummy calls it pear. It looks just like “apple” to me.  It tastes OK and I eat a little, but I still prefer my milk.

Day 6:

Uh-oh, it’s the orange stuff again today.  I don’t think mummy is going to give up.  I try a little to humour her.  It actually isn’t that bad.  It tastes sweeter than last time, more like my milk.  Maybe this food stuff isn’t so bad afterall and I still get to have my milk afterwards.  I do hate it when mummy is right though….

Mummy’s edit 

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“Every child is different”.  This certainly rings true when it comes to weaning.  I started Lentil on carrot puree and although he turned his nose up at it a little on day one, he has devoured almost everything I’ve put in front of him since! Coco, on the other hand, is taking her time to adjust to solids.  I panicked a little on day three and wasn’t sure she was swallowing anything; her bib was covered in orange puree!  However, it is a big developmental leap so one can understand why their little bodies and minds need time to adjust.  You just have to stick with it and introduce a variety of tastes.

I also learnt that my little daughter seems to have inherited her Papa’s sweet tooth (not that she actually has any teeth yet)!  Once I started adding a little milk (you can use breast milk or formula) to the purees, she gobbled them back.  If you’ve ever tasted breast milk (I have thanks to airport security), you’ll know just how sweet it is – I was really shocked! Anyway, it seems to do the trick so I’m sticking with it for the moment…..

What mummy made:

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Carrot purée – makes 3 portions

Peal and slice 4 sweet baby carrots and steam over a pan of boiling water for 15-20 minutes until soft. If you have a microwaveable steamer, steam for about 4-5 minutes.  These really are fantastic and not expensive at all.  Add a knob of unsalted butter to the hot carrots and purée with a hand-held blender.  Add a little of your little darling’s normal milk, if needed, to achieve a really smooth puree (or to satisfy that little sweet tooth!).

Sweet potato – makes 6 portions

Peel and chop one large sweet potato. Steam in a microwaveable steamer for 6-8 minutes until soft.  Alternatively, place in boiling water, bring back to the boil and cook for about 15 – 20 minutes until soft. Add some unsalted butter to the hot potato along with 1-2 tbsp of your baby’s milk or some of the water from the steamer / pot.  Mash with a potato masher or purée with a hand-held blender.

Apple purée – 3 portions

Peal, core and chop a Bramley or other dessert apple.  Cook on medium heat in a pan with 2 tbsp of water for about 8-10 minutes.  Stir occasionally and add more water if needed.  Once soft, puree with a hand-held blender.

Pear & cinnamon purée – 4 portions

Peal, core and slice 2 conference pears.  Place in a pan with 2 tbsp of water and 1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon.  Cook on medium heat for about 6-10 minutes  (depending on the ripeness of the pears) until soft.

Tip: You can freeze the puree in ice-cube trays and cover with a freezer bag. Just pop a cube out as and when you need it. As your little ones get used to solids, you can increase the number of cubes you give them. Alternatively you can use little freezer-proof pots and label each with the date and contents.

Happy weaning!!

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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Moussaka with Courgette

Moussaka with courgette

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Moussaka with courgette?? It’s my take on a traditional Moussaka: a Moussaka in disguise if you will.  My recipe doesn’t use the traditional aubergine – I simply wasn’t feeling the aubergine love the day I made this – but you can of course add it if you’re a traditionalist!  Instead I use courgette. It passed the Lentil taste test and I actually used a mix of aubergine and courgette when I last made it for us parent people.  Of course I’m going to say I think it’s nicer with the courgette addition….but I really do!

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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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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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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