Saturday, 31 December 2011

Top 10 ideas for getting the most out of Parent and Tots groups and heuristic play

Many apologies for the lack of posts.  I've only just got back broadband in my new home.

My son and I had a fantastic session at a mum and tots group recently.  It got me thinking about how over the last 18 months I have found them a roller coaster ride and wanted to share my experience for newer mums who might be reading.

I realise this is a slight departure for my blog and in no way am I a play expert but I have learned some things which weren't immediately obvious to me.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Fruity Mini Muffins

The lovely people at Baking Mad sent me a bottle of orange flower water recently which is an ingredient I’d always been a bit confused by.  Well let a novice tell you about it.  It’s made from orange blossom as the name would suggest but I have to admit I was expecting a flowery perfume flavour.  Not a bit of it, the flavour is like the zesty fragrance when you peel an orange.  I have to admit it wasn't an immediate hit and I think I need some more experimentation time.

So, if you happen to have a bottle in the cupboard, why not whip up a batch of these muffins?  No added sugar but a touch of honey in them (so not suitable for under 1s) but I have found a natural affinity between the orange zestiness and honey.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Courgette and Pesto Pasta for Babies and Toddlers

A recipe that was borne from a lack of ingredients; especially fresh herbs; there’s no point in my planting some at this time of year in my new garden.

Ok, courgettes (zucchini) aren’t seasonal at this time of year but I do love them as a hidden vegetable and there’s no reason why you can’t substitute for something else, I’d imagine blanched mashed broccoli might work.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Pepper and Cheese Muffins for Babies and Toddlers

First of all, my sincere apologies for the lack of blog posts.  I’m writing this on word (which will explain any differences in formatting) and hoping I will get the chance to post it to the blog soon.

Well I have a good excuse; I’ve just moved house.  I hadn’t really talked about it for fear of it all falling through.  Things were very touch and go in the end.  While we were packing up the truck, we still didn’t know if we were going to get the keys at the other end.  Delaying the move was going to mean moving in 5 days before Christmas.  I pride myself on my resilience but that was a step too far, so we took the risk and it paid off.

So, generally I’ve been unpacking boxes, sleeping, spending far too long in Ikea, not sleeping (new house, new smells, strange boiler), etc, etc. 

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Top 10 Potato Recipes for Babies and Kids - in praise of the humble spud!

Sometimes it's time for a review and a catch up.

Let's face it, if you're anything like me, there are times where you need to go to the supermarket but you just don't have the time or energy.  Chances are you will have at least one potato in the house.  Read on because that potato might just become a meal...

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Haricot Bean and Mushroom Gratin for Babies, Toddlers and Adults

This is a yummy meal in itself or could be a great side dish for Christmas dinner (with the handy benefit of having something which feels like a main dish should a vegetarian arrive.)

I would think it would scale up pretty well but I would keep it fairly shallow in the baking dish to avoid it being too runny.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Falafels for Babies, Toddlers and the Whole Family

This is genuinely a whole family recipe.  If I don't say so myself, I'm really impressed with myself for these and it's all completely my invention.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Sugar Free Cheesecake for babies, toddlers and the whole family

Cheesecake with no added sugar?  Really?  Yep.  Bang on!  I've done it!  So this is a cheesecake which you can feel comfortable giving to your baby (if on textured food), toddler and the whole family without feeling (too) guilty.  There are variations below for very young babies too.  This is linked up here.

The cunning idea is to use wheatgerm rather than biscuits which saves a lot of sugar.  Surprisingly if you've never used wheatgerm it is subtly sweet anyway.  Definitely an adequate substitute in my mind. My husband (used to my white chocolate cheesecake) was slightly less convinced.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Sugar free wheatgerm and oat biscuits for babies and toddlers

I've been struggling for a sugar free biscuit for some time.  This almost gets there.  It's not really sweet but passed the test with my son.  He's already eaten all of his tea and his pudding and saw these on the cooling rack.  He pointed to them so I gave him one.  3 biscuits later...

My only reservation is they are really crumbly so I will experiment with reducing the amount of wheatgerm and increasing the amount of flour which should improve the structure.  That said, they hold together a little better when cool and my son coped with them.  They'd be pretty awesome with cheese actually.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Poached Pears for Babies and Toddlers

You know how it is, you've not had time to go to the shop, the fruitbowl is looking a little unexciting, there are virtually no grapes left, there is no yoghurt in the fridge and the pears are hard as bullets.

Well, here's an idea for something different to feed your little one for pudding.  It comes out beautifully soft for babies just starting on lumps but with the spice there's a lovely flavour to it too.  Any leftovers are great served as below with the syrup or would be tasty put into a crumble.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Rum and Apple Bread and Butter Pudding (Just for Adults!)

I came up with this recipe when we had some staling bread.  It made me think; why don't we value bread anymore?  It used to be that every household would have a left over bread recipe.  We have bread and butter pudding, bread pudding, stuffing, rarebit, Italy has panzanella and ribollita the French have croutons and pan perdu.

We seem to have forgotten this thrift though!  Why?  Bread and butter pudding is probably more often consumed from a ready meal packet than made from scratch.  How strange a dish to use up old bread is now specifically bought in a plastic dish from a factory miles away.  Somewhat ironic!

Anyway, the point is it's easy and tasty to make yourself.  I've suggested a slightly whacky combination of dried apple and rum which might not be to your taste but if you want something more conventional, switch it for brandy and raisins.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Slow Cooker Risotto for Babies, Toddlers and Adults

It may have been a few days since I've posted but don't think I've not been busy!

I've been meaning to cook risotto for my son since he was on soft lumps but had never got round to it.  I tried risi e bisi which was nice but lacked some creaminess.  Part of it is all that standing and stirring; completely impractical for a toddler.  Anyway, I'd heard it was possible to cook risotto in a slow cooker and seeing as I have a kitchen crush for mine, I thought I'd give it a go (but I might need a new slow cooker for Christmas Santa.... hint, hint.)

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Cottage Pie for Babies and Toddlers - VERY easy!

I proudly proclaimed the BEST COTTAGE PIE EVER the other day.  Well this comes close and is a bit of a cheat because it's more assembly than cooking.  Apologies for the photo; potato topped pies seem incredibly difficult to look pretty and I refuse to top them with a face made out of peas and carrots.  Ah what the hey!  It tastes nice!

The reason why recipes have been a little thin on the ground this weekend is my son's not well and he's off his food.  He had a temperature of 39.2 yesterday which was frightening.  Fortunately things seem to be getting better.  Unfortunately as he's now a toddler and he's been feeling rotten he seems to have discovered the "No" word when it comes to food.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Banana and coconut mini muffins for babies and toddlers

Hmm.  What do you do when you come up with a recipe which is 'ok' not perfection?  Well, in the spirit of nothing being perfect in Mummy World, I've posted it anyway.

I am not saying this does not have room for improvement; it does, it's just a little on the savoury side for what was intended to be a sweet muffin.  The texture is great though.  So if you wanted to sneak on a little icing, I don't think that would be unreasonable!  Perhaps as well if you use a proper turning black kind of banana that might up the sweetness a little.  Anyway, pumpkin likes which either says he's ok with a more 'savoury' tasting sweet thing or he has to put up with my cooking a lot!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Bubble and Squeak for Babies and Toddlers

Readers outside the UK will no doubt have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about.  Bubble and squeak is a traditional English recipe for using up leftover vegetables.  Potatoes must be included and cabbage or brussel sprouts are traditional but from then on it's up to you.  Use any left over or freshly cooked vegetables you like!

This would be great for baby led weaners I reckon.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Sugar Free Banana Bread for Babies

This is a tasty yet sweet treat without any added sugar.  Great for using up bananas which are getting a bit black in the fruit bowl; in fact it's better to use them as they will be sweeter.  I'm quite pleased with this.  Although it doesn't use as many bananas as some banana loaf recipes, it's a much lighter recipe for it.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Creamy Mustard Chicken for Babies and Toddlers

I'm thinking older babies here, the ones on finger foods and larger lumps.  I'm tempted to suggest an adventurous palate to cope with the garlic and mustard but my son was eating some very surprising things at that age.  I remember him eating some porchetta style pork belly stuffed with garlic and herbs which my sister had made at his first birthday party and loving it.  Perhaps sometimes we're not adventurous enough with our kids?

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Baked Glazed Gammon

I'm not suggesting this for little kids (although without the glaze you could use a little bit of the ham in recipes if you are careful about the day's salt content) but this falls into the category of "bung in the oven while you're sorting out bedtime" and it's a 3 ingredient recipe which tastes like so much more.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Monday, 7 November 2011

Roasted Courgette Chips for Babies and Toddlers

Courgette (Zucchini) is one of those vegetables which sneaks into my cooking more as a bulking and 'secret vegetable' rather than a star in its own right.  I'm not sure how this situation came about and it's even more annoying because I love growing courgettes and generally have had some real success with them.  There is something so beautiful about them, especially the yellow and 'ball' varieties.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Pa Amb Tomaquet for Toddlers and Adults

If you're not familiar with the name, let me explain.  This would be lofty to call this a 'dish' but it's kind of a way of serving bread in Catalonia (Spain) which is absolutely delicious and fantastic with good Spanish ham or cured meats.

This is typical of Spanish cooking.  Take good bread, good tomatoes, good olive oil and make something which elevates all of them.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Savoury Welsh Cakes for Babies and Toddlers

Why on earth did I not think of this before?  A welsh cake is a bit like a scone but cooked on a frying pan (well traditionally it would have been cooked on a griddle but that confuses people because I don't mean a ridged griddle pan, a griddle is flat without sides.  My mum is the only person I know who has one.)  I suspect they could be cooked directly onto an Aga plate but I don't have one and I suspect very few of my readers have an Aga either.

Friday, 4 November 2011

The Best Cottage Pie EVER!

I'm not generally prone to overstatement but this is certainly the best cottage pie I've ever eaten even if my presentation is a bit rubbish.  I mean it's almost worth making yesterday's pot roast just to have the ingredients!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Beef Pot Roast for Babies, Toddlers and Adults

Sorry to all US readers if this is inauthentic.  This is based upon a recipe I found in "Making the Most of your Slow Cooker" by Catherine Atkinson.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Roasted Vegetables for Babies and Toddlers

Well probably more for toddlers but baby led weaners would find this a useful recipe I think.  I've included meat and vegetarian options to the recipe.  Just keep an eye on the day's salt intake if feeding to babies younger than 12 months or miss out the feta.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Beef Stew for Babies, Toddlers and the Whole Family

I like to think I am the kind of person who doesn't need meat for every meal and I like to think the vegetarian section of this site has the odd recipe or two but at this time of year, slow cooked beef just feels right.

There are adaptations in here for adults, toddlers and babies (baby led weaning or traditional approach) so read on!

Friday, 28 October 2011

Breaded Mushrooms with Garlic Mayo for Toddlers and Adults

I seem to be getting onto some kind of "healthy trashy" vibe at the moment.  Nothing deliberate, that's not my thing but we all fancy something a bit tacky sometimes.  I have to admit to a sneaky love of the breaded mushroom but I always want to wipe my face afterwards to remove the grease.  Yuck.

So, it got me thinking... Why not try oven baking them?  Must be possible right?

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Popcorn for Toddlers (and Adults)

This has been something going through my head for a while.  The Mamacook household is a fairly thrifty place, partly due to necessity (currently buying a house with more than one loo, yay) and partly due to hating waste.  Anyway, Mr MC said he fancied some (popcorn) last night so I gave an idea I adapted from something I saw in yourhome Christmas made easy.  I'm a sucker for a Christmas food and craft mag.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Lamb Kofta Recipe for Babies and Toddlers with homemade naan (flatbread)

I'm always wary about posting things which are 'okay' rather than great but I figure there is a good dish in here somewhere, it just needs a little work.  My gut feel is some breadcrumbs in the mix would help because this was a little firm and shrank a bit.  Still, perhaps I should open this up to you lovely people?  Any ideas?  Anyway, I couldn't resist putting them in partly because they looked so sweet before baking.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Keema and Potato curry for babies and toddlers (Keema Aloo)

Well no claims to authenticity.  I'm not Indian, I once spent 5 weeks in India variably eating some of the best, worst and most food poisoning inducing food possible.  I did have some fantastic food too though and I've also lived in some of the cities in the UK with the biggest Indian, Pakastani and Bangladeshi communities.  A lot of people wouldn't think of making a curry with mince though which is quite traditional, it also gives you the opportunity to bulk out as well with lots of vegetables.  I've chosen potatoes here which again is pretty traditional (I think.)

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Apple 'jam' tarts for babies and toddlers adaptations from 6 months

These aren't really jam tarts as there isn't anything quite so sweet in them as jam but it is a cunning (if I say so myself) and tasty way to have a nice pudding without adding sugar to it.  My son and I had two each at lunchtime with a bit of cream (oops!)

There is an adaptation for younger babies so read on...

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Cheese Straws for Babies and Toddlers

This recipe goes hand in hand with another I will post tomorrow.  They both use a shortcrust pastry as a 'base'.  I wish I thought of this when my son was younger.  They're really crumbly so useful for babies with no teeth but as they do crumble, keep an eye on choking (however they do melt in the mouth).  The only salt is from the cheddar and unlike cheese straws where you put all the cheese on top and you end up with it burning and forming a skin, these are so tasty.  Piece of cake to make too and of course sugar free.  I'm definitely making these again and can already think of some flavour variations...

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Garlic and Herb Chicken Nugget Recipe for babies and toddlers

It's been a few weeks of tweaking and varying but as it's my blog, I reserve the right to post variations on a recipe; think of it as a brand extension!  If you would like to see the original recipe, just click on this link.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Mini Meatloaf Recipe for Babies and Toddlers - Mark 2

The new, the improved mini meatloaf!  Coming to an oven near you!

This is a variation on the other meatloaf recipe I posted some months back but it's a tasty, tasty dish and I think an improvement.  This is fine for toddlers and I would think ok for babies on finger foods as long as they're at the soft lump stage or later, probably 10 months plus but you know your baby best.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Prawn Pasta Recipe for Toddlers

Well sleep has improved after my last post.  Straight down for a nap and straight down at bedtime and not a peep from him until 5:45am (then chatting to himself for a good 15 minutes before getting us up.)  It's hard to explain to non parents that this is good!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Prawn Curry Recipe for Toddlers, Adults, everyone!

Oh I'm feeling a bit wrung out.  My son was happily falling asleep after a fantastic lunch, almost gone and what happens?  A blooming sales call and worst of all, they did the whole silent treatment so I didn't even get the joy of telling them how annoyed I am and how we're on the TPS and shouldn't be getting these calls...!

So then, nap is screwed.  Pumpkin is stood up in his cot saying "phone!" and when I don't give him the phone it leads to 10 minutes of screaming finally Mummy gives in and cuddles him to sleep.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Quadruple Chocolate Cookies NOT a baby recipe!

I don't want you to think I'm some kind of 'no sugar' joyless monk.  We all need a bit of fun and this recipe was a reason my husband asked me to marry him I reckon.  Well that and crumble maybe.

My other half has been nagging me for a good couple of years to make these again but after one bad batch (yes I know, kind of ridiculous to give up on a favourite recipe), it put me off.  I think I used real butter rather than margarine from memory and they just ran all over the tray.  Don't let that put you off though, I've been making this recipe for about 10 years and it was the only time they went wrong.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Sausages and Lentils (or just Lentils) for babies, toddlers and adults

When my son was first weaning, I used to make a meal which was very loosely based on Annabel Karmel's lovely lentils recipe.  My son always used to love it and so I thought about making something similar for all of us to serve with sausages.

There are variations below if you're wanting to serve it to a baby.  The vegetarian baby version is suitable from 6 months.  I would include the garlic even for babies, you'd be surprised how adventurous they can be!

Monday, 3 October 2011

Goulash for Babies and Toddlers

I've said this before but there is a tendency to feed kids bland food and there is really no reason.  During their time in the womb they're 'tasting' the amniotic fluid, if you breastfeed, they get flavour changes through that.  Ok, perhaps don't go for chilli as the first step but at the weekend my son was eating some barbecued lamb marinated in garlic and chilli!  Spices are also a great way to make family meals with flavour but without using salt and sugar which I prefer to avoid.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

The Creative Process and Carrot Muffins

I'm a scientist through and through.  In some ways it's because of my upbringing; science and maths results were praised; arts, English, languages etc., well I could come top of my class every week and it would barely pass comment.  That kind of thing rubs off on you but also, sadly, follows you in life through the hang ups and self criticisms we all have.

Vegetarian Spanish Rice for Babies and Toddlers

Well for parents too really.  I had some and liked it; probably needed more seasoning for my taste but I'm trying to get used to less salt in my diet so pumpkin can have more foods that we eat every day.

Is it wrong to be inspired by processed foods?  Well this was an idea which started with Savoury Rice.  A packet thing which used to be on sale in the UK in the 80s.  I have no idea why I thought of this, I don't remember liking it, at all.  But your mind wanders and inspiration can sometimes come from the strangest places.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Cod and Prawn Chowder for Babies on soft lumps and finger foods, Toddlers and Adults

They say necessity is the mother of invention.  My son normally goes to nursery three days a week but this week he's at home with me due to having a bout of hand, foot and mouth (no, not the disease cows get before you ask, it's a mild virus).  Now there is a double frustration here; there is no way he picked it up from anywhere else but nursery so that's annoying as obviously their exclusion policies don't work but secondly, he's not ill!  He has been a bit funny about food but that's it. 

Monday, 26 September 2011

Risi e Bisi for babies and toddlers (and adults)

I made this for my husband and son this lunchtime.  I'd been meaning to make a risotto for some time but you know, all that standing and stirring isn't really practical.  Risi e bisi is a good compromise, you get a lot of that risotto unctuousness but without all the stirring.  The finished texture is somewhat up to you.  Look at the instructions towards the end for variations.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Pea and Ham Soup for Toddlers and Adults

Pumpkin is a little off colour at the moment.  He has a cold and he's been a bit off his food.  I suspect his throat is hurting.  I've never given him soup at home and it's comforting, 'ill person' food so I thought I'd give it a go.

This makes a thick soup which is useful for toddlers still getting to grips with using a spoon.   I wouldn't give this to babies.  Ham is high in salt, and not something you should eat every day, however, it's also very tasty so I'm not giving it up anytime soon.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Chicken Nuggets for Babies and Toddlers with Parsnip Chips

I suddenly realised that meat recipes have been a bit thin on the ground of late.   It's not as if pumpkin doesn't eat meat; far from it, just perhaps I've been sticking to old favourites.

Anyway, after cooking some chicken breasts with soft cheese for my husband and I, I had a breast left so decided to prepare some chicken nuggets for the little one and me to have for lunch.  I'd never found a recipe for chicken nuggets for babies I liked the look of so I came up with one myself.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Egg Fried Rice for Toddlers

Well it could be for everyone really but I made this with my toddler in mind.  I'd never given my son prawns, probably having worked in food for so long and the fact he has eczema has made be cautious whenever I introduce a food which is on the list of 14 that the EU requires you to list on packaging.  (Do check local health care professionals advice as I know it varies on introducing potentially allergenic foods.)

If feeding to under 1's, skip the soy sauce, it is salty and also keep an eye on the salt content of the prawns.  Gut feel is the majority of salt in frozen prawns will come out from the ice glaze (yes, I did taste the water once defrosted and it was salty!  See the lengths I go to???)

If I've not put you off even with the terrible photography on this one...

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Herby Salmon Pasta for Toddlers

I do like to feed my son oily fish.  Whether or not you agree with the thoughts that omega 3 have beneficial effects on intelligence, omega 3 does have proven health benefits throughout life.  I mean it's not every day but I try to give oily fish once a week.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Cheese and Onion Muffins for babies and toddlers

I only had one egg in the fridge and some yoghurt so came up with these.  Good for babies on finger foods, baby led weaners and toddlers.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Bircher Muesli for Babies

Ok, the first recipe in this was directly from the Good Food website so I will post a link; Bircher Muesli Recipe there you are!  I did find the recipe a bit on the small side and also I'd been eating something very similar for years without realising it was kind of a 'dish' so here are some variations too.

Bircher Muesli - suitable for babies or toddlers (from when they're able to cope with lumps)