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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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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Courgetti and Strawberry Salad

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Since starting my blogging journey, I’ve been inspired by (and in awe of!) the many fabulous health food bloggers out there, creating amazing recipes with deliciously fresh ingredients, and sharing drool-inducing photos of their creations.  It was while perusing some of these awesome foodies’ websites and salivating over their culinary endeavours that I came across spiralizing. Clearly, I am way behind the times – how have I missed all the hype about fruit and veggie ribbons and spaghetti styled courgettes??  I wondered if the spiralizer was just the latest kitchen gadget: something I would use once and then retire to the cupboard over the fridge, which is rarely opened: I need a stool to reach it!

I reasoned that I use my mandolin regularly and love Japanese food.  Surely something food-related originating in Japan can’t be bad?  So after a little research on the various brands and models I purchased a spiralizer online and eagerly awaited its arrival!

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I’m certainly not giving up on my yummy homemade pasta (mon Dieu!) or carbs altogether.  I think they are an important part of a balanced diet, especially for children.  However, I am bursting with ideas for new recipes using my spiralizer and it is a fun way to introduce kids to new ways of eating fruit and veg.

So here is the first of my spiralizer creations……[drum roll!]

I’ve made this salad both with and without chicken and it’s as tasty either way so if you’re vegetarian just simply leave out the chicken.

Serves 2 adult & 1 child portion.

The what:

2 large (3 smaller) chicken fillets, diced

handful of spinach leaves, stems removed

12g flaked almonds

150g strawberries, topped and quartered

2 courgettes, topped and tailed

3 tbsp natural yoghurt

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For the dressing:

juice from 1/2 an orange

juice from 1/2 lime

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

a pinch of ground black pepper

Tip: If you don’t have a spiralizer, a mandolin or julienne peeler are just as good for thinly slicing the courgette. If using a julienne peeler, you may find it easier to slice the courgette length-ways.

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The how:

Marinade the chicken in the yoghurt for a couple of hours / overnight.

You can also prepare the dressing in advance: just give it a good shake / stir again before using as the oil will have settled on top.  Add all the ingredients to a jar and shake well.  Taste test with a spinach leaf.

Pre-heat the oven to 220 (200 fan) and back for about 8 minutes and then flip the chicken pieces over, draining off any excess liquid and bake for a further 8 minutes.  Be careful not to let the chicken dry out.

Meanwhile slice the courgettes, either using a using a spiralizer to make courgetti, a mandolin or a julienne peeler (see tip above).  Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a pan and cook the courgette on medium heat for a couple of minutes to soften.  If you have used a mandolin and have very thin courgette slices, cook on a lower heat and stir and toss continuously in the pan to avoid too much browning, or burning.  Take of the heat and set aside.

toast the almonds in a dry saute pan on medium heat for about 1 minute, tossing regularly, and again being careful not to burn!

To assemble the salad, add the courgetti / courgette slices to your salad bowl.  Place the spinach leave on top and then add the chicken and strawberries. Sprinkle the almonds over the salad and pour the dressing on top.

Enjoy!

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Chilled Asparagus and Pea Soup

If you’ve read Coco’s weaning diary, you’ll know I love asparagus: green and white. It would be one of my desert island foods!  I do get slightly upset when I have to break off the ends and discard them – it seems like such a waste. If Mr Coco&Lentil gets his hands on the asparagus, half the stalks end up in the bin! I decided to put the woody ends to good use by making a stock for soup before I retire them to the bin.

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The what:

400g asparagus (ends snapped off & set aside & remaining asparagus roughly chopped)

300g fresh or frozen peas

a large handful of fresh mint (about 30 leaves)

2 garlic cloves, one finely chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped

60ml (4 tbsp) cream fraiche

black pepper to season

a squeeze of lime

Tip:

You can retain the asparagus and pea pulp (heaven forbid we through anymore asparagus out!) you get when you pass the soup through a sieve and mix it with some sweet potato and a little milk for babies.  For children over one year you can add some toasted pine nuts (assuming there are no family allergies and you have ground the nuts to avoid any risk of choking) and mix with some spaghetti or other pasta.

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The how:

Add the broken off asparagus ends (retaining the chopped asparagus for later) and one whole garlic clove to a saucepan and cover with 1000ml of water.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 25 minutes.  Drain the asparagus stock and discard the asparagus ends and garlic Set aside.

Meanwhile saute the onion, chopped garlic in the butter until the onions are soft (2-3 minutes).  Add the asparagus stock and bring to the boil.  Next add the chopped asparagus and peas and cook until tender (about 5 minutes).

Remove from the heat and stir in the cream fraiche and mint leaves and season with pepper.  Blend the soup in batches, passing each batch through a sieve into a large bowl as you go.

Chill in the fridge.  Add a squeeze of lime and mix the soup well before serving.

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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)

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!

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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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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