Category Archives: Little People

Little People: Cooking for Kids

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While I like the idea of having a family dinner time, it’s not really practical for our family at the moment. My kids are young and like to be in bed between 6.30-7pm, they still get messy enough at dinner to need a bath afterwards, and my husband isn’t generally home from work until around 6pm. So, for the moment, the kids have dinner around 5pm and my husband and I eat later. For the kids I often heat up some of our leftover dinner from the night before or serve a portion of our dinner to them and keep it warm for us to eat later.

Although I always serve vegetables with their dinner, I do often ‘hide’ pureed vegetables in the meal too. I still have a stockpile of frozen veggie puree cubes in the freezer so they’re easy to add. Curries are great for hiding veggies in, and I add pureed cauliflower to bechamel cheese sauce. Finely grated vegetables are also a great addition to many meals – I use a microplane grater to get really fine shavings of vegetables. I mix microplaned carrot and zucchini to tomato paste, dried italian herbs and seasoning for use on pizzas and pizza scrolls. I also add them to the pot when cooking my asian 2 minute noodles.

Asian 2 minute noodles

The other night I was cooking chicken and leek pie for dinner. This dish is delicious but when I serve it to the kids as leftovers it ends up looking a bit like mush! I don’t have a microwave so generally reheat it on the stove and have to mix everything together. Feeling inspired I cooked up the sauce in the TMX with the chicken steaming on top (one of my daughter’s mostly eats vegetarian food so I often keep the meat separate). I top the pie with feta and filo pastry then bake in the oven for dinner, but to serve early for the kids I decided to bake some puff pastry ‘pie tops’. I just used frozen puff pastry, cut circles with a large cookie cutter, placed on a lined tray, brushed with egg and baked for 12-15 min at 200C. I served the pie filling in the kids bowls, let them add their own feta and chicken, then popped a pie top on. It was a huge hit. My general rule is that the kids have to clean their bowl before they get another serving with another pie top. I use the same rule for soup and bread – clean your bowl before getting more bread. It usually works well but can end with tantrums so be prepared to stand your ground!

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Of course, I don’t have the time and energy to make little pie toppers and the like every night, but it is fun from time to time. I try to have a few quick kids meal options on hand too for those nights when you come in late and need a fast, nutritious dinner. Some ideas include having frozen pasta sauce in the freezer, I always have my winning pasta sauce and bechamel sauce frozen in cubes ready to use. Asian 2 minute noodles are really quick and easy. Of course you can’t go past eggs on toast for dinner either. Another quick and delicious recipe is Quirky Cooking’s Baked Beans – so good you’ll be wanting them for dinner too. I often save leftover mash to go with these beans. I also try to have mini frittatas or quiches in the freezer – you can pop these on a baking tray and heat under the grill to make a yummy dinner. Last, but not least, pesto of any kind is great to have frozen or in a jar to mix through pasta or spread on flat bread, sprinkle with cheese and bake like pizza.

Well, hopefully I’ve given you a few ideas. All the recipes I post on this blog are things I cook for my family, and  most of my kids eat most of the dishes! Hope yours like them too 🙂

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Feeding the Funky Bunch: Easy Peasy Healthy Ice Creams

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Nothing makes my kids happier than when I offer them ice cream for afternoon tea! It is so easy to have your own healthy ice creams in the freezer and ready to go. Here are 2 of my (and my kids!) favourite recipes.

Green Ice Cream

 

Green Ice Cream

My friend K passed this recipe onto me. It is really yummy, healthy and filling for little tummies (good for mums and dads too!). My kids aren’t big fans of avocado so this is a great way for them to enjoy eating it.

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 2 bananas (the riper the banana, the stronger the banana flavour)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 4 tbs natural pot set yogurt

Place all ingredients in TMX or food processor. Blitz until smooth. Pour into moulds. Freeze & enjoy.

You can add 1-2tsp of cacao or cocoa to make chocolate ice creams

Pink Ice Cream

Mix together and pour into moulds. Freeze & enjoy.

Use any homemade jam, berry sauce or pureed fruit to make these different flavours and colours.

Feeding the Funky Bunch: Caramel Cannellini Cakes

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I have made Chocolate Magic Bean Cakes many, many times now and they are always fantastic, but I wanted to try a vanilla version of the magic bean style cake. I chose to use cannellini beans, which  are high in fibre, high in protein, low in fat and a good source of iron. Using the chocolate recipe as a base I gave it a go, but used rapadura instead of sugar. Rapadura is the product of evaporated sugar cane juice. It is a brown, grainy sugar that has a caramel quality. Rapadura is a Wholefood as it has not been cooked at high temperatures, had the molasses separated from it, had any chemicals added to it or had the vitamins and minerals removed from it. It works really well as a substitute for refined sugar in biscuits and cakes. I buy my rapadura online for $5.95/kg from 2Brothers Foods, but it is also available in health food stores and through other online retailers. 

The result of my experimenting – caramel cakes! These are a really yummy, healthy cake and freeze well for lunch boxes.

Caramel Cannellini Cake

Ingredients

  • 420g can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed or 110g dried cannellini beans soaked and cooked
  • 1 tbls water
  • 1 tbls vanilla essence
  • 5 eggs
  • 100g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1 tsp  baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp pink salt
  • 65g (1/3 cup) oil or 125g butter
  • 180g rapadura

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C
  2. Place cannellini beans, water, eggs and vanilla essence in TMX and blitz 2 min, Sp 7
  3. Add all other ingredients
  4. Mix 20 sec, Sp 4
  5. Spoon into patty pans and bake 20-25 min in 2tbls/40ml patty pans or 15-20 min in 1tbls/20ml mini patty pans
  6. Alternately, pour into ring tin and bake 30 min

Feeding the Funky Bunch: Vegetable, Cheese & Pasta Slice

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Inspired by a recipe in the latest Donna Hay I made this slice for my kid’s dinner a few weeks ago and again the other night. It was very well received (and eaten quickly!). I sliced the rest into portions and froze it for lunch boxes next term.

Vegetable, Cheese & Pasta Slice

Ingredients

  • 1 & 1/2 cups (135g) dried pasta (small shape like shells or spirals)
  • 1 medium carrot finely grated (100-120g)
  • 1/2 zucchini finely grated (180-1200g)
  • 200g feta
  • 100g grated cheddar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup (150g) self-raising flour
  • pink salt & cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

Method

  1. Pre heat oven 180C
  2. Cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente
  3. Drain and set aside
  4. I usually complete the rest of this recipe while the pasta cooks so that i’m ready to mix it in as soon as it’s drained
  5. Crack eggs into a large bowl and whisk
  6. Add grated vegetables, crumbled feta, cheddar, flour, butter and season with salt & pepper
  7. Mix well
  8. Add cooked pasta and mix through
  9. Pour into greased and lined 20cm x 30cm tin or pyrex dish
  10. Bake 35-40 minutes

Feeding the Funky Bunch: Asian 2 Minute Noodles

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My husband enjoys the occasional Indo Mee packet noodle lunch at home on the weekend, and the kids always love having some. I wanted to recreate that 2 minute asian noodle meal without the crazy amount of additives and preservatives (and heaven knows what else!) that are in the packet ones. My husband was keen to find an alternative too, as long as it tasted as good. So with a little experimentation I whipped up this quick and easy recipe. The kids were eating so fast they couldn’t even comment and my husband says it tastes just like the packet. Winner! This is a quick and easy meal, with only a few wholesome ingredients. You could definitely add steamed or stir-fried meat and/or veg if you wanted to, or serve this as a side dish, but at my place just noodles for a quick weekend lunch.

Asian 2 minute noodles

Ingredients

I cook 100g of noodles which makes 4 children sized portions or 1 hungry husband portion. If you cook more noodles, increase the sauce component amounts accordingly.

  • 100g Organic Noodles (I use Hakubaku Japanese Noodles – cooking time will depend on your noodles. Somen cook in 2 min and the others range from 4-10 min cooking time)
  • 2 tsp TMX Vegetable Stock Concentrate
  • 2 tsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 1/2 tsp honey (add up to 1 tsp honey depending on how sweet you want it)
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • optional – dried onion flakes to taste (I use 1 tsp)
  • optional – dried chilli flakes to taste (I use 1 tsp)

Method

  1. Bring water to the boil, add noodles and cook for time recommended on the packet
  2. Place all other ingredients in a bowl
  3. Add cooked, drained noodles to the bowl and mix until coated in sauce
  4. Serve and enjoy

Feeding the Funky Bunch: Fruity Puff Bars

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One of my favourite blogs, Full Little Tummies (written by a Thermomix loving Mum in Tassie) has gone! Checking the blog today I saw that all posts have been deleted! Not sure what’s happened – she hasn’t blogged in a long time but I regularly went to her site for recipes. In a Thermomix Recipe Swap I’m part of on Facebook there has been a few upset cooks who can’t access their favourite recipes. I was ridiculously happy to find that I was so excited when I first discovered Full Little Tummies that I copied and pasted recipes into a Word Doc. Thank goodness! I’ll blog my favourites here – I’d always intended to share them but just hadn’t gotten around to it.

First up are these Fruity Puff Bars which are an absolute winner in my house. They are delicious, freeze well, add a bit of zing to any lunch box and are way better for you and the kids than any shop bought bar packed with additives, preservatives and who knows what ingredients. Thank you to Chelsea of Full Little Tummies wherever you are for this recipe.

Fruity Puff Bars

Ingredients:

  • 110g butter
  • 90g rapadura
  • 70g honey
  • 1 tsp homemade vanilla essence
  • 90g puffed brown rice
  • 40g organic shredded coconut
  • 70g dried sultanas, cranberries or chopped dried apricots

Method:

  1. Place butter, rapadura, honey and vanilla essence into TMX bowl
  2. Heat at 100C, 6 min, Sp 3
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and mix 20 sec, Rev Sp 3
  4. Scrape mixture into a baking tin lined with baking paper (mine is 30cm x 25cm x 5cm) – if you leave the baking paper a bit longer than the tin you can use it to lift out the slice
  5. Spread out mixture and press down very firmly with your hands or the back of a spoon
  6. Refrigerate (at least 2 hrs) and slice into bars when firm
  7. To freeze simply slice then pop in a resealable bag or container in the freezer. They don’t stick together or, if they do, easily come apart.

These bars do go soft in hot weather. My kids don’t mind and just eat them out of a bowl or from their lunch box with their fingers. I’ve read that people have replaced some of the sweetners with melted marshmallow to hold them together but I haven’t tried this. In summer my kids are even happy to crunch on these straight from the freezer!

Feeding the Funky Bunch: Raspberry & Apple Cupcakes

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I baked these gorgeous little cupcakes for afternoon tea today and my friend G is dying to get her hands on the recipe, so here it is! Originally from a Woman’s Weekly Cookbook, these little cakes are really moist and tasty. They freeze well for lunch boxes and make a great after school treat.

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Ingredients

  • 125g butter
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 165g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 225g (1 & 1/2 cups) self-raising flour
  • 100g (1/2 cup) milk
  • 150g fresh or frozen raspberries (I’ve only ever used frozen)
  • 200g apple (approx 2-3 apples) – peel and quarter apples for TMX, peel and dice apples for non-TMX

Thermomix Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C/160C fan-forced
  2. Place 165g raw sugar in TMX and blitz 3 sec, Sp 9 to form caster sugar
  3. Add butter and vanilla essence and cream with sugar 20 sec, Sp 4
  4. Add eggs and beat 20 sec, Sp 4
  5. Mix in flour and milk in two batches – 125g flour, 10 sec, Sp 3; 50g milk, 10 sec, Sp 3; 100g flour, 10 sec, Sp 3; 50g milk, 10 sec, Sp3
  6. Scrape down bowl and mix for a further 6 sec, Sp 4
  7. Use a spatula to help pour the mixture into a separate bowl – don’t scrape too diligently as the apple will help clean the TMX bowl
  8. Place peeled and quartered apple in TMX and chop 3-5 sec, Sp 4
  9. Use a spatula to scoop apple into the bowl with the cupcake mixture and stir through well by hand
  10. Add raspberries last and gently stir through until just mixed (don’t mix too much or the raspberries will bleed throughout the mixture)
  11. Spoon into cupcake size (2tbs/40ml) patty pans (makes 24)
  12. Bake 25-30 min
  13. Allow to cool in cupcake pan for 5 minutes before placing on wire rack to cool

Non-Thermomix Method

  1. Beat butter, sugar and vanilla essence by hand or with electric mixer until pale and creamy
  2. Beat eggs in one at a time
  3. Stir in sifted flour and milk in two batches – 3/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup milk, 3/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup milk
  4. Stir in peeled and diced apple
  5. Add raspberries last and gently stir through until just mixed (don’t mix too much or the raspberries will bleed throughout the mixture)
  6. Spoon into cupcake size (2tbs/40ml) patty pans (makes 24)
  7. Bake 25-30 min
  8. Allow to cool in cupcake pan for 5 minutes before placing on wire rack to cool

Lunchbox Legends: Sneak Peek #5

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Lunchbox Sneak Peek #5

 

This was yesterdays lunch and it was extremely well received. Clean lunch boxes all round.

  • Leftover pasta with my veggie packed Winning Pasta Sauce and some grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 mini chocolate magic bean cake
  • Corn cake
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Fruit salad of apple, rockmelon and grapes
  • Frozen water bottle to keep everything cold & fresh

Lunchbox Legends: Sneak Peek #4

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Lunch Box Sneak Peek #4

Left overs from last nights dinner and a chocolate treat from a dinner party on the weekend make for a delicious lunch today.

  • Left over home made fish & chips with a little pot of tomato sauce
  • Fruit salad of apple, grapes and rockmelon
  • Chocolate Brownie (totally decadent Maggie Beer recipe)
  • Boiled egg – I peel all the shell off except for the little face so it doesn’t take the kids too long at school
  • Frozen water bottle to keep everything cold & fresh

Read Sneak Peek #5

Feeding the Funky Bunch: Tiny Teddies & Co

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Arnotts Tiny Teddies appear to have universal appeal to children of all ages. I prefer not to buy commercial biscuits so except for the odd packet of Tiny Teddies from a party bag or as a treat on holidays they generally don’t make an appearance in my cupboard. However, with a few cute cookie cutters and a very simple recipe you can easily whip up a batch of your own little biscuits at home. I’ve found that these keep well in an air-tight container for up to a week and they’re a big hit with the kids.

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The basic recipe is the Foundation Biscuit Mixture from the Nursing Mothers Association Cookbook (a must have in any kitchen!) and I’ve added a TMX version below.

Ingredients

  • 125g butter
  • 125g castor sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 125g plain flour
  • For chocolate biscuits omit 1 tbs of plain flour and replace with 1 tbs cocoa powder

TMX Method

  1. Pre heat oven 180C
  2. Place raw sugar in TMX and blitz 3 sec, Sp 9 to make castor sugar
  3. Place castor sugar and butter in TMX and cream 20 sec, Sp 4
  4. Add egg and mix 10 sec, Sp 4
  5. Add flours and knead, closed lid position, 2 min
  6. Roll dough on a floured surface to approx 3mm and cut out shapes
  7. Place on lined baking tray and bake 12-15 min

Non-TMX Method

  1. Pre heat oven 180C
  2. Place castor sugar and butter in mixer and cream together
  3. Add egg and mix thoroughly
  4. Add flours and mix to a smooth dough
  5. Roll dough on a floured surface to approx 3mm and cut out shapes
  6. Place on lined baking tray and bake 12-15 min

I have this great set of cookie cutters – the small cutters slot inside the round cutter and are interchangeable, or can be used on their own. It is ‘Baker’s Secret’ Brand which I purchased at Myer a few years ago. Unfortunately I can’t seem to find them online but i’m sure there are similar products at good homewares stores.

IMG_3651 Tiny Teddies & Co Raw DoughIMG_3591