Tag 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: 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: Wholemeal Parmesan Cracker Biscuits

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In my never ending search for yummy, homemade cracker type foods for my kids I have created these which are a bit of a cross between a cracker and a savoury biscuit. They are very tasty and a healthy option for after school, lunch boxes or with pre-dinner nibblies. They’re good with dip too – I often whip up the herb & garlic dip from the EDC to go on these. 

The dough comes together very quickly and is easy to work with. There’s no need to flour the bench either, it’s not a sticky dough. Try not to over-handle the dough, just push the left-overs together roughly after cutting each lot of cracker biscuits, and roll out again for the next lot. 

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Ingredients – Makes approx 36 cracker biscuits

  • 120g cubed parmesan cheese
  • 20g butter
  • 120g plain flour or white spelt flour
  • 120g wholemeal flour or wholemeal spelt flour
  • 1/4 tsp pink salt
  • 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 110g hot (not boiling) water

Method

  1. Preheat oven 180C
  2. Place parmesan cheese in TMX and blitz 10 sec, Sp 9 & set aside in a separate bowl
  3. Place butter in TMX and melt 50C, 30 sec, Sp 1
  4. Add all other ingredients including parmesan cheese
  5. Mix 5 sec, Sp 7
  6. Knead 2 min
  7. Mixture should look like big breadcrumbs with all flour mixed in, if not scrape down the bowl and knead for a further 30 sec
  8. Tip mixture onto clean bench and push together to form a ball
  9. Roll out to approx 4mm thickness
  10. Cut into shapes as desired – I just use the MC as a round cookie cutter
  11. Place on lined tray
  12. Bake 12-15min until golden
  13. Cool then store in an air tight container

Cracker Biscuit MixtureCracker Biscuit DoughIMG_0698 

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

Lunchbox Legends: Sneak Peek #3

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Lunchbox Sneak Peek #3

  • Salad tub with chopped cucumber and cherry tomatoes
  • Puffed Corn (Abundant Earth brand; 100% corn – available in the health food aisle at the supermarket)
  • Gingernut biscuit
  • Fruit Salad of apple & grapes
  • Wholemeal sandwich with strawberry jam
  • Frozen water bottle to keep everything cold & fresh

Read Sneak Peek #4

Lunchbox Legends: Sneak Peek #2

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Lunch Box Sneak Peek # 2

3 lunch boxes at ours today as my little boy is off to Montessori Playgroup for the morning.

  • Pot-Set Natural Yogurt with berries or honey in Squeeze Em’s
  • Tub of Garlic & Herb Dip (recipe in the EDC)
  • Rice & Corn Cakes
  • 1 mini Chocolate Magic Bean Cake
  • Carrot Sticks
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Fruit salad of apple slices (with lemon juice squeezed over to stop it browning) and grapes
  • Frozen water bottle to keep everything cold and fresh

Read Sneak Peek #3

Lunchbox Legends: Sneak Peek #1

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This Sneak Peek series gives you a little look into what I pack in my kids lunchboxes each day. Hopefully it will give you some inspiration for your lunchboxes too.

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  • Pot-Set Natural Yogurt, one with berries and one with natural honey, in Squeeze Em’s pack  (see below)
  • 2 zucchini quiches
  • 1 mini chocolate magic bean cake
  • 2 dried apricot & oat bites (I will post the recipe for these soon)
  • Fruit Salad of cut apple (tossed in a little lemon juice to stop it browning) and red & green grapes
  • 2 Cruskits spread with cream cheese (I’m trying to find time to experiment with more homemade cracker recipes but I haven’t managed it yet)
  • Frozen water bottle to keep everything cold & fresh

Squeeze Em’s are my latest purchase and I am in love with them already. They are reusable food pouches, perfect for baby food, yogurt, fruit puree and custard. My kids absolutely love sucking the food out the little spout and they are really neat, no spoon or bowl required. BPA free, recyclable, dishwasher safe and easy to use. These little pouches are very reasonably priced and shipping costs are low too. Check out the Squeeze Em’s website for more info.

*Since publishing this post I have learnt that our school prefers children not to eat from squeeze packs at school. I’ve gone back to putting yogurt in a little pot with a spoon for my lunchboxes. My kids still enjoy Squeeze Em’s at home and for picnics.

Read Sneak Peek #2

Feeding the Funky Bunch: Gingernut Biscuits

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I made a batch of these biscuits for play group last week they were a big hit. They have that gingerbread flavour that my kids love, but are a bit quicker to make than gingerbread people. Inspired by Quirky Cooking’s Crunchy Gingernut Cookies, these are a softer biscuit with a crunchy outside.

Gingernut Biscuits

Ingredients

  • 400g plain spelt flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp pink salt
  • 140g rapadura
  • 180g butter
  • 90g molasses
  • 1 egg

Method

This recipe makes approx 45 biscuits. I often place half the dough in the freezer to defrost and bake when needed.

  1. Pre heat oven to 180C
  2. Place flour, baking soda, ground spices, salt and rapadura in TMX
  3. Mix 10 sec, Sp 6
  4. Add softened butter, molasses and egg
  5. Mix 30 sec, Sp 6
  6. Roll tablespoons of dough into balls, place on lined trays and flatten gently with two fingers
  7. Bake 10-12 minutes