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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Stuffed Zucchini Rounds

Stuffed Zucchini with butternut squash, peppers and cheddar

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Zucchini or courgettes and olive oil are a simply delicious traditional Italian combination.  Elizabeth David is credited with bringing this vegetable, previously reserved for the aristocracy, into the ordinary English kitchen.  In her book, A Book of Mediterranean Food, published in 1950, she shares a simple courgette recipe, combining the “very young marrow” with butter and tomatoes.

 

 

Taking a cue from the September sunshine over the weekend, we’ve gone for a summer – autumn vegetable flavouring, combining the zucchini with butternut squash.  It’s a light but comforting dish, which we hope you’ll enjoy as much as we have.

 

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This dish is an easy dish that is perfect for getting little hands involved in the kitchen and Lentil had great fun stuffing all the ingredients into the zucchini and sprinkling the cheese on top (a lot of which ended up on the baking tray)!

The what:

3 Round zucchini, topped and flesh removed

1 onion, quartered

1 yellow pepper, topped, de-seeded and quartered

1/2 roasted butternut squash (you can roast the other half too and use it to make our roast Butternut Squash and Courgette Risotto). Continue reading

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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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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Homemade Gnocchi with Butter and Sage

Quick and Easy Potato Gnocchi

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This is an old recipe that has been handed down from grandmother to mother to granddaughter and I’m feeling very privileged that it’s now been passed to me by my fairy godmother!  The recipe was hand-written on a piece of paper and included just the raw ingredients, no measurements. So we’ve been eating a lot of gnocchi recently (not that we’re complaining!) in the trial and error process of finding the perfect balance.  And we think we’ve cracked it!

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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

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.

 

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

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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Glazed Salmon with Carrot and Courgette Ribbons

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Once Coco and Lentil got used to the early weaning vegetable purees I made, I was keen to introduce fish.  I wasn’t a great fish eater as a child: I only ate my mother’s fish pie which she topped with crumbled crisps and even then, I ate more of the potato and crisps than the fish! Thankfully, Coco and Lentil aren’t yet showing any signs of my fish pickiness. Salmon was the first fish they tried and one I come back to regularly.  As an anadromous fish it’s great brain food, a good source of vitamin D, and, of course, it’s omega-3 properties are well publicised.  It is also very versatile and can be baked, cured, eaten raw, grilled, poached, sautéed or smoked.  This recipe calls for a saute pan and a little glaze.  It’s yummy and healthy!

You can check out our other fish recipes here.

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Makes 2 adult and 2 child portions

The what:

3 salmon fillets, skinned

1 courgette, topped & tailed

1 carrot, peeled, topped & tailed

1 cm ginger, finely sliced

1/2 celeraic, outer skin peeled

1/2 tbsp olive oil

for the sauce:

1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

2 tbsp oyster sauce

1 tsp reduced salt soy

2 tsp honey

The how:

Slice the carrot, celeraic and courgette into thin vertical strips using a potato peeler, or alternatively if you have a spiralizer, slice into ribbons.  You can prepare the vegetables in advance – just place in a bowl with water and refrigerate.  Drain and pat dry with some kitchen towel when needed.

To make the glaze mix all the ingredients together in a shallow bowl and marinade the salmon fillets for 2 minutes on each side.

Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a large non-stick pan for the vegetables.  Heat another dry pan for the salmon.  Remove the salmon from glaze (but retain the glaze for later) and add to the dry, hot pan. Cook for 2 minutes, then turn, pour over the glaze and cook for further 2 minutes.  Add the spiralized vegetables to the oiled pan and cook for 2-3 minutes.

To serve, arrange the vegetables on a plate and place the salmon on top. Drizzle over the remaining glaze from the hot pan.

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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!

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!

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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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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