Tag Archives: Kids & Vegetables

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 🙂

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.

Homemade: Spinach & Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

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Last Christmas I received Alyce Alexandra‘s cookbook ‘Quick Fix in the Thermomix’ as a gift from my family and I love it! The cookbook is beautiful to read with stunning photography and food styling throughout, and all of the recipes I’ve tried so far have been delicious. Alyce is a self-taught cook who grew up in a Thermomix household. She now has several cookbooks out, including her most recent ‘Quick Fix: For Every Occasion’ (which is on my wish list!). 

You can access some of Alyce’s free recipes by subscribing to her online newsletter for free.  At the moment the selection of free recipes includes Cranberry and Hazelnut Crackers, Chewy Tropical Oat Bars, Blueberry & Mint Smoothies, Chickpea & Chorizo Stew, Saffron Mussel Risotto, Middle Eastern Chicken Salad and more. You can see why I like this site!

I’m going to share Alyce’s Spinach and Sun Dried Tomato Pesto recipe here today. It is so incredibly delicious. Great as a dip, spread on flat bread pizzas, cooked into pizza scrolls, stirred into beaten egg and cooked into mini frittatas, tossed through pasta or any other way you can think to use it.

My kids absolutely love this pesto. It makes a super-quick dinner stirred through cooked pasta. Additionally I often pop it in their lunch boxes with some crackers or veggie sticks. If your school is nut-free like ours, just be sure to omit the pine nuts from the recipe.

Spinach & Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

Ingredients

  • 100g parmesan cheese
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 60g olive oil
  • 300g semi sun dried tomatoes
  • 50g raw baby spinach
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 50g toasted pine nuts
  • Salt to taste

Method

  1. Place cubed parmesan in TMX and grate 5 sec, Sp 9 and set aside
  2. Place garlic cloves in TMX and chop 5 sec, Sp 5, then scrape down TMX bowl
  3. Add olive oil and sauté 6 min, 100C, Sp 1
  4. Add tomatoes, spinach, basil, pine nuts, parmesan and salt
  5. Chop 4 sec, Sp 6
  6. Transfer to a clean jar and store in the fridge (ideally wash jar in hot, soapy water and dry with a clean tea towel or wash in dishwasher)
  7. Lasts 2-3 weeks in fridge

Please note that I have posted this recipe and recommendation for Alyce Alexandra’s website and cook books solely of my own volition and without receiving remuneration of any type.

Homemade: Tomato Sauce

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Since making this tomato sauce for my family, we have been unable to go back to sauce from the supermarket. This recipe makes a tasty, thick tomato sauce that has a very mild spiciness. Of my 3 kids, one loved it immediately, one loved it once I convinced him to try it and one loved it on her second tasting. I love that it is so much better for the kids (and us) than processed sauce from the supermarket, it contains no additives or preservatives, and it even contains vegetables!

Tomato Sauce

The recipe is from the TMX recipe community.

Ingredients

This sauce does stain the thermomix lid and basket, but this resolves within a few regular washes in hot, soapy water.

  • 1000 g tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 180 g red capsicum, roughly chopped
  • 130 g red onion, roughly chopped
  •  2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 100 g red wine vinegar (used in 2 x 50g portions)
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 20 mustard seeds
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf, fresh if possible
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon pink salt
  • 100 g honey

Method

Makes approx 800ml sauce 

  1. Place roughly chopped tomatoes, red capsicum, red onions, garlic cloves and 50g of red wine vinegar into TMX bowl and chop 5 Sec, Speed 7
  2. Cook 40 min, Varoma, Sp 2. Place simmering basket on top of lid to prevent splattering.
  3. Add remaining 50g red wine vinegar, bay leaf, spices, salt and honey. Cook 20 min, Varoma, Sp 2 with simmering basket in place again.
  4. Insert MC and blitz 1 min, Sp 10
  5. Transfer into sterilised jars. Keeps up to 6 months in the fridge.

Sterilising Jars

Recycle used jars or buy new glass jars for your preserve. Wash the jars and lids thoroughly in hot soapy water, rinse well and air dry. Alternately wash them in the dishwasher. Then place clean jars on a clean tray in the oven at 100C and allow to dry out for 15 min. Pour hot preserve into hot, sterilised jars and seal with lids immediately. As the preserve and jar cools the lid will be pulled in to form a seal. The lid of the jar will ‘pop’ when opened. You can also purchase plastic film seals for your jars that go over the jar before the lid is put on. I’m sure you can buy them elsewhere but I get these ones from Coles ($1.83 for a 24 pack). They are handy if your jars have been reused numerous times and the lids are getting worn.

 

Feeding the Funky Bunch: Vegetable Mornay with Sage & Red Onion Crumb

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This recipe is one that has evolved over the years and is now a great, reliable midweek family meal. It makes a large serving for 4-6 hungry adults and the leftovers (if you have any!) are delicious the next day. It is a dish that can easily be prepared ahead of time and them popped in the oven when you’re ready. If you want to add meat, shredded roast chicken can be mixed through. Alternately you can add the chicken raw but cut it into very small pieces (2cm cubes) and double check it is cooked before eating.

Vegetable Mornay

Ingredients

  • 200g button mushrooms chopped
  • 1/2 cauliflower chopped into florets
  • 1 broccoli chopped into florets
  • 1/2 red onion
  • handful of sage leaves
  • 60g butter (10g & 50g lots)
  • 150g breadcrumbs

TMX Method

  1. Pre heat oven to 200C
  2. Make béchamel sauce and set aside
  3. Chop mushrooms and place in large bowl
  4. Steam cauliflower and broccoli (I do mine in the Varoma – 25 min, Sp 1, Varoma Temp – I like my vegetables quite well cooked, but steam for less time if you prefer them firmer)
  5. Allow cauliflower and broccoli to cool on Varoma trays so that most of the liquid evaporates off
  6. Place red onion & sage leaves in clean TMX bowl
  7. Chop 5 sec, Sp 5
  8. Add 10g butter, scrape down the sides and cook 100C, 5 min, Sp 1
  9. Add breadcrumbs, 50g butter and salt & pepper, then cook 100C, 2 min, Sp 1
  10. To assemble, add cooled, steamed cauliflower and broccoli to bowl with mushrooms
  11. Mix through béchamel sauce and season generously with salt & pepper
  12. Transfer to large baking dish (I use a 1.6L pyrex dish)
  13. Spread red onion & sage crumb on top
  14. Bake 40 min at 200C

Non-TMX Method

  1. Pre heat oven to 200C
  2. Make béchamel sauce and set aside
  3. Chop mushrooms and place in large bowl
  4. Steam cauliflower and broccoli (I steam mine for 25 min – I like my vegetables quite well cooked, but steam for less time if you prefer them firmer)
  5. Allow cauliflower and broccoli to cool uncovered so that most of the liquid evaporates off
  6. Finely chop red onion & sage leaves
  7. Melt 10g butter in a small saucepan over medium heat
  8. Add onion and sage, and stir gently until onion is transparent
  9. Add 50g butter and allow to melt
  10. Turn off the heat and stir through 150g breadcrumbs
  11. Season crumb well with salt & pepper
  12. To assemble, add cooled, steamed cauliflower and broccoli to bowl with mushrooms
  13. Mix through béchamel sauce and season generously with salt & pepper
  14. Transfer to large baking dish (I use a 1.6L pyrex dish)
  15. Spread red onion & sage crumb on top
  16. Bake 40 min at 200C

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

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

Little People: Arancini Balls

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After posting this recipe for one of my family’s favourite risottos, I thought I should share my favourite way to use left over risotto. Arancini balls are simple to make and great for kids dinner, lunch boxes and party food. They work best with left over risotto that has sat in the fridge overnight or has been frozen and defrosted.

Ingredients

  • Portion of left over risotto (works with any risotto)
  • 1 beaten egg for every 400-500g risotto
  • 1 more beaten egg
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs
  • Rice bran oil 

Method

  1. Mix beaten egg through left over risotto
  2. Take 2tbs risotto mix and shape into a ball
  3. Roll in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs
  4. Refrigerate for 30min if you have time
  5. Shallow fry in hot rice bran oil and place on paper towel to drain
  6. Eat hot or cold

Feeding the Funky Bunch: Pizza Scrolls

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To say these pizza scrolls are popular in my house (and other people’s houses, and playgroup, and at parties …) is an understatement. They are really yummy and this version is nice and healthy. Obviously you can choose any fillings you like, the one’s pictured here are a classic hawiaan with some extra veg thrown in. The dough for these is a breeze too. It comes together really well, doesn’t need to be rested and is easy to roll out.

Ingredients:  Dough

  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 150g wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 1tbs raw sugar
  • 50g cold butter, cubed
  • 180g (3/4 cup) milk

Thermomix Method: Dough

  1. Weigh flours, sugar and butter into TMX
  2. Mix 20 sec, Sp 4
  3. Pour in milk
  4. Set TMX to closed-lid position and Knead for 45sec
  5. Turn out dough onto floured bench
  6. Knead by hand for a few seconds, just enough to bring it together
  7. Divide dough in half
  8. Working with one half at a time, roughly shape into a rectangle and roll out to approx 50cm x 20cm, approx 3mm thick

You end up with two 50cm x 20cm rectangles which you will top, roll and slice.

This makes approximately 40 pizza scrolls in total.

Non-Thermomix Method: Dough

  • Using a food processor:
  1. Place flours, sugar and butter in food prcoessor and mix to a breadcrumb consistency
  2. Slowly pour in the milk while processor is mixing until a dough forms
  3. Follow from step 5 of the Thermomix Method above
  • By hand:
  1. Place flours, sugar and butter in a bowl
  2. Rub together to a breadcrumb consistency
  3. Add milk
  4. Mix and knead until a dough forms
  5. Follow from step 5 of the Thermomix Method above

Ingredients & Method: Topping

1. Spread your rolled out rectangles of dough with your base mix

  • You can use whatever base is appropriate for your fillings – tomato, pesto, flavoured oil
  • Here I’ve used a tomato base which is organic tomato paste with dried italian herbs, black pepper, pink salt and finely grated carrot mixed through. I use about 100g tomato paste with a whole carrot grated in and divide it between the two rolled out rectangles of dough. Of course, this comes down to personal taste and does not need to be particularly precise

2. Sprinkle on pizza toppings and cheeses

  • You can use whatever combinations of toppings you like
  • I usually try to add a couple of finely chopped or grated fresh veg like capsicum, mushroom and zucchini
  • Using a mix of cheeses like cheddar and mozzarella or feta is delicious
  • A couple of our favourite combinations are:
  • sun-dried tomato, olive, mushroom, capsicum, cheddar and feta
  • pineapple, fresh tomato, zucchini, bacon, cheddar and mozarella

How to make Pizza Scrolls

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C
  2. Take one half of dough and roll out to form a rectangle approx 50cm x 20cm, approx 3mm thick
  3. Spread with base mix, then sprinkle evenly with toppings leaving a 2cm border along the long sides of the rectangle free of toppings
  4. Rolling from the long edge at the top, fold the dough over itself and roll tightly into a log
  5. Using a sharp knife, slice into approx 2cm thick slices
  6. Place cut-side up on a lined tray
  7. Bake 18-20 minutes, 180C

Pizza Scrolls

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Feeding the Funky Bunch: Moussaka

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This Moussaka recipe is the product of much experimenting on my part.  I wanted to make a really delicious Moussaka that wasn’t too labour intensive, so I’ve eliminated all the fussing and just kept all the flavour. It is a great family meal, packed with veggies and easy to adjust either for meat lovers or for vegetarians. My kids absolutely love this dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 large eggplant or 2 smaller eggplants, thinly sliced (approx 3mmm)
  • 6tbs rice bran oil (to brush slices with)

Many recipes call for the eggplant slices to be salted, left to drain for 20min, rinsed then dried. I never bother to do this and it still tastes great.

  • 20g rice bran oil
  • 2 sticks celery, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 small red capsicum, de-seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • handful of fresh flat leaf parsley
  • handful of fresh mint
  • 400-500g lamb minced (can replace with red kidney beans or your choice of lentils for a vegetarian version)
  • 2tbs thermomix vegetable stock concentrate
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 400g passata (tomato puree)
  • black pepper to season
  • Extra 1/2 cup grated cheese for topping

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C
  2. Slice eggplant and place in a single layer on lined baking trays
  3. Brush eggplant slices lightly with rice bran oil
  4. Roast in oven for 8-10 min until soft then set aside
  5. Make béchamel cheese sauce
  6. If mincing lamb in TMX, place cubed lamb in clean TMX bowl and mince 8-15sec, Sp 7
  7. Set minced lamb aside and give TMX bowl a quick rinse
  8. Place celery, capsicum, carrot, onion, garlic, parsley and mint in TMX
  9. Chop 5sec, Sp 5
  10. Add 20g oil and cook 100C, 5min, Sp1
  11. Place lamb mince in TMX, season with black pepper and cook Varoma Temp, 5min, Rev Sp Soft
  12. Add cinnamon, passata and stock
  13. Cook Varoma Temp, 15min, Rev Sp Soft
  14. Season to taste

Assemble Moussaka

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C
  2. I use a large 1.6L pyrex dish to bake my Moussaka in
  3. Line bottom of dish with a single layer of roasted eggplant slices
  4. Spread over 1/3 of the lamb and vegetable sauce
  5. Drizzle over 1/3 of the cheese sauce
  6. Follow with layer of eggplant, layer of lamb and vegetable sauce, layer of cheese sauce until all used
  7. Sprinkle grated cheese on top
  8. Bake 30 min, 180C

Non-Thermomix Method

Ingredients

  • 1 large eggplant or 2 smaller eggplants, thinly sliced (approx 3mmm)
  • 6tbs rice bran oil (to brush slices with)

Many recipes call for the eggplant slices to be salted, left to drain for 20min, rinsed then dried. I never bother to do this and it still tastes great.

  • 20g rice bran oil
  • 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 small red capsicum, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled & finely chopped
  • handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • handful of fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 400-500g lamb minced (can replace with kidney beans or lentils for vegetarian version)
  • 2tbs thermomix vegetable stock concentrate or 1 stock cube
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 400g passata (tomato puree)
  • black pepper to season
  • Extra 1/2 cup grated cheese for topping

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C
  2. Slice eggplant and place in a single layer on lined baking trays
  3. Brush eggplant slices lightly with rice bran oil
  4. Roast in oven for 8-10 min until soft then set aside
  5. Make béchamel cheese sauce
  6. Place large frying pan over medium heat
  7. Add oil, celery, capsicum, carrot, onion and garlic, cooking for 4-6 minutes until soft
  8. Add lamb mince, season with black pepper and cook for 5 minutes until browned
  9. Add passata, stock, cinnamon, parsley and mint, and simmer for a further 15-20 minutes
  10. Season to taste

Assemble Moussaka

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C
  2. I use a large 1.6L pyrex dish to bake my Moussaka in
  3. Line bottom of dish with a single layer of roasted eggplant slices
  4. Spread over 1/3 of the lamb and vegetable sauce
  5. Drizzle over 1/3 of the cheese sauce
  6. Follow with layer of eggplant, layer of lamb and vegetable sauce, layer of cheese sauce until all used
  7. Sprinkle grated cheese on top
  8. Bake 30 min, 180C