Category Archives: Pasta & Noodles

Turkey Meatballs… Gobble Gobble

Turkey mince is so affordable; I remembered how I raved about it over the festive season when Turkey was on my mind. It’s the ‘other less fatty white meat’ I also have the quote Seinfeld when I think Turkey… ‘It makes you sleepy’ great for kid’s right! It is the amino acid tryptophan that research suggests in large amounts can make you sleepy. It also produces serotonin that helps strengthen the immune system.  Regardless, it was half the price of Chicken mince and we haven’t had that much luck with chicken lately.

I found a great recipe from a kitchen queen – Nigella, which I adapted purely because I never have celery in the fridge, I always have carrots! Much like patties, burgers rissoles; meatballs can be a combination of anything with a few binders. The trick is to not over work the mixture as it can make them too dense.

You can serve these meatballs with pasta, mash potato, polenta, couscous, steamed vegies or salad. You can even serve them as finger foods for your next dinner party, because we all have time for that!

Sauce

1 onion, peeled

2 x Garlic Cloves

1 celery rib or carrot

1 teaspoon of dried Thyme

2 x 400g of canned tomatoes or passata

Water (fill up two of the tomato cans)

1 teaspoon of sugar

Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper

Meatballs

400g of Turkey Mince

1 x Egg

3 x Tablespoons of breadcrumbs

3 x Tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce

½ teaspoon of dried thyme

Salt to taste.

Method

Puree the onion, celery and carrot in a food processor. Reserve ¼ of the puree in a bowl for the meatballs.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and add vegetable puree and thyme, and cook for about 5 -10min.

Add tomatoes, water, sugar, salt & pepper. Bring to a gentle boil then reduce to a simmer and let cook while prepping the meatballs.

Add all meatball ingredients to reserved vegetable puree. Mix gently to combine; avoid over mixing to prevent the meatballs from being leaden and heavy.

Form mixture into about 50 meatballs, about the size of a heaped teaspoon. Once all the meatballs are formed, add them to the simmering sauce (Pushing them down to have a light covering of sauce) Continue to simmer 30 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through.

Enjoy! Rafaela does…

Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Sauce.

Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Sauce.

Rafaela eating her meatballs. Gobble Gobble.

Rafaela eating her meatballs. Gobble Gobble.

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Teriyaki Salmon & Soba Noodles

I started cooking this dish during my pregnancy and it has now become a staple on the dinner menu. As a keen seafood eater, I was definitely disappointed to read about all the seafood products I could not consume, while pregnant. It was actually my downfall when I was desperately trying to keep my being pregnant a secret until we were past the ‘safe’ period. As soon as I unassumingly motioned away a prawn rice paper roll filled with bean sprouts, suspicion was rife! I am never one to turn down a rice paper roll, let alone food in general.

As you do when you fall pregnant, or as I did, was memorise the foods I had to avoid and start working on a meal plan. My body was going through so many physical changes, overnight I felt I couldn’t fit into my pants anymore. It was quickly dawning on me that I had to start eating better. Years of not eating breakfast, drinking too much and scoffing kebabs at all hours of the night/morning hadn’t done me any favours. So this monumental step change turned into 18 months of ‘dieting’ with a great deal of motivation. Trying to have and raise a healthy baby and losing the 20kgs I gained during my pregnancy. Now that is another post in itself!

So the experts say fish, are highly nutritious and should be consumed by adults and children, twice a week. Fish contain huge amounts of protein, are low in “bad” fats and contain Essential Fatty Acid (EFA’s) – Omega-3 fatty acids. The EFA’s in fish are not found in any other protein source.

The biggest implication when consuming a diet high in fish is the level of Mercury found in some. High levels of Mercury can cause developmental delays and it is recommended that pregnant women and children avoid those fish species high in Mercury. These include Shark (Flake), Ray, Swordfish, Barramundi, Gemfish, Orange Roughy, Ling and Southern Bluefin Tuna. Salmon on the other hand is a cold-water fish, low in Mercury and high in Omega 3’s.

Rafaela is starting to enjoy it. I have made her Salmon fish cakes and this recipe also. She gobbles it up. Raf is pretty inspiring when she eats like this, especially since it is was such a battle to get Andrew to try it and now he loves it too. I have also served this to friends and family a couple of times and it has gone down a treat. The great thing about this dish is you can jazz it up with the side accompaniments like Avocado Wasabi and Pickled Ginger. The Wasabi paste and Japanese Pickled Ginger can be found in Coles, I tend to stock up when they are on sale. These ingredients are easily accessible and affordable.

You can marinate the Salmon a few different ways. You can make a teriyaki sauce from scratch or you can buy a pre-made marinade. Ayam makes a great tasting sauce, without too many nasties in it. This is a super speedy meal. So depending on your preparation time and pantry items, you could go either way. For Rafaela, I use an organic soy sauce, crushed organic ginger and some lemon juice to marinate her Salmon in.  Below are the recipes for both. Enjoy!

Teriyaki Sauce

60ml Soy Sauce

60ml Mirin (Japanese rice wine)*

Juice of 1/2 Lemon

1 teaspoon of crushed Ginger

Rafaela’s Teriyaki Sauce

(Based on a piece of salmon width and thickness of her palm, about 1inch wide and high)

2 tablespoons of Organic Tamari Soy Sauce

½ teaspoon of crushed Ginger

Splash of Lemon juice

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 x 180g skinless Salmon fillets

Teriyaki sauce as above or pre-made Ayam Teriyaki Marinade.

1 tablespoon of Sunflower oil

180g of Organic Soba Noodles (I use Hakubaku brand noodles, pack of 3 x 90g, found in Coles and Woolworths)

1 teaspoon of Sesame seeds

1 Spring Onion thinly sliced

Splash of Sesame oil

3 teaspoons of Wasabi paste, or to taste

2 Avocados, flesh scooped

Japanese pickled ginger

Method

Place the Salmon in a zip lock bag with the teriyaki sauce and leave it to marinate for as long as possible, overnight is great. Otherwise a minimum of 1hr is fine. Mix up the avocado and wasabi together and set aside.

Heat the sunflower oil in a large non-stick frypan over a medium heat. Remove the salmon from the bag, reserving any remaining marinade. Cook for 2-3 minutes each side until cooked but a little rare in the centre. Add the reserved marinade and allow to bubble for 1 minute. If you like your Salmon well cooked, then gently press on the thickest part with your finger, looking for spring back.

Boil water for noodles and cook according to the packet instructions. They usually take about 4 min. Once the noodles are cooked, strain and add a dash of sesame oil, sesame seeds and spring onions. Serve salmon with noodles and avocado wasabi. You can also add steamed vegetables such as; snow peas, broccolini or carrots.

For your baby, the obvious omits from this recipe, is the avocado wasabi and the spring onions. I tend to keep some mashed avocado aside to serve with some extra vegetables. If you are cautious about cooking oils, then consider cooking the salmon with some Coconut oil.

Rafaela's Version

Rafaela’s Version

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Spinach & Ricotta Baby Cannelloni

Well it feels like it has been a while between drinks (err Posts). We are into the full swing of the juggling act that is working and parenting. Rafaela seems to be thriving in day care, drinking from a cup all on her own and climbing like a little monkey. The drop off is getting easier, tears are fading and is now replaced by a disappointing look. We have progress!

More and more Rafaela is enjoying different foods; she is at the age where the list of foods she can’t eat is depleting rapidly. I started making Cannelloni after my mother-in-law had a bumper crop of spinach. It was spinach and ricotta bonanza in our household for a few weeks. We tried the Greek Spanakopita pie as well as spinach and ricotta gnocchi but the most appropriate for Rafaela to enjoy and the most successful (the gnocchi was pretty tricky) was the cannelloni. It is the perfect family dinner for a house obsessed with spaghetti and in desperate need of a pasta shake up! This is a variation of a classic Donna Hay recipe. It was really about omitting and substituting certain ingredients to make an infant friendly batch. Spinach is a great source of Calcium, Iron & Vitamin A. It is recommended to start babies on Spinach after 8 months as they can contain nitrates and are an oxalate food and should be eaten in moderation. Below is a baby friendly spinach & ricotta cannelloni recipe. I would keep aside a portion of the mixture for Rafaela and the rest for the adults. It is a great dish to freeze for those now so often moments we need a quick tasty meal and lunch the next day!

Baby Basic Tomato Sauce

1 x 400g can of Organic diced tomatoes

1 small onion finely diced

1 garlic clove crushed

Sprinkle of nutmeg

Splash of olive oil

Handful of fresh basil leaves

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Then sauté onion and garlic till tender. Add the diced tomato and ¼ cup of water (I usually wash the remainder of the tomato out with this water).

Add the fresh basil and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until thick and lumpy.

Cannelloni

1 x Baby Basic Tomato Sauce

2 x packet of lasagne sheets (contains 8 sheets) halved lengthways

½ cup of finely grated parmesan cheese

Filling

2 bunches or 500g of English Spinach, trimmed.

750g of fresh ricotta (I find fresh from the deli works better than the containers. It tends to contain less moisture)

1 cup of finely grated parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons of chopped flat leaf parsley leaves

1 tablespoon of chopped dill

½ cup of fresh breadcrumbs

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180°c.  To make the filling, blanch the spinach in a saucepan of boiling water for 5 seconds, then drain. Squeeze out any excess moisture, and chop.

Combine the spinach, ricotta and parmesan, herbs and bread crumbs. Grease a 20cm x 30cm ovenproof dish. Spread 1/3 of the tomato sauce over the base of the dish. Lay a lasagne sheet on a flat surface, spoon on some ricotta filling and roll up. Place into the baking dish, seam side down. Repeat with remaining filling and sheets. Pour the remaining tomato sauce over the cannelloni, sprinkle with the extra parmesan and bake for 25-30min or until soft and heated through.

Now this recipe makes a heap of Cannelloni. If you save 1/3 of the filling for your bubba choo you will make approximately 18-20 cannelloni.

Suggestions: I have also included some cooked pumpkin into the mixture. It adds a nice sweetness to the dish and it helps get Rafaela’s Veggie content up! Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni

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Dad’s Spag Bol (aka Spaghetti Bolognese)

It’s back to school week. While the traffic gets worse, the trains fill up with kids and the feeling of summer holidays fade, I have to return to work. This wouldn’t normally bother me, well it hasn’t in the last year that I’ve been on maternity leave but now my real juggling act begins. So far it has been pretty stable transition, easing into work while Rafaela has been slowing engaging in day care activities and it seems like she is adapting well. It is really hard to leave her after spending so much time together. However I can already see her growing and learning so much. She still crawls commando style and is absolutely filthy when she gets home but she is almost up on to her feet and can say “bye” and “up”.

I am still in two minds about heading back to work. I am happy to be back and stimulated again, however I miss being at home and moving at our own pace. I really enjoyed having time cook and consider meals. Now that’s reserved for the weekends. Before Rafaela (circa 2011), my husband Andrew, would cook up Spag Bol as it’s his favourite meal. Everyone has their version, Spaghetti Bolognese is the quintessential family staple meal… right. This one is Dad’s and Rafaela absolutely loves it. It will be high on the weekday rotation in this house!

Ingredients (Makes – A fair bit)

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 small onion

1 glove of garlic

1 organic carrot, grated

1 organic zucchini

¼ red capsicum

1 cup organic beef or vegetable stock

250g of organic mince (beef or pork/veal) – I’ve use the Aldi Brand of Organic Beef.

1 x 400g can of organic diced tomatoes

1 small dried bay leaf

Pinch of dried herbs; oregano & thyme

Pinch of pepper

Method

Heat the oil in a saucepan (large enough to hold 5 cups of liquid). Using a food processor finely chop the onion and garlic together. Transfer to the saucepan and cook until soft. In the mean-time add the zucchini and capsicum to the food processor and chop finely. Add grated carrot to the pan and combine well. Cook for 2 minutes and then add the mince. Use a wooden spoon to break up the mince. Once the meat is no longer pink, add the dried herbs & pepper and stir. Then add the zucchini and capsicum, stock, tomatoes, stir to combine. Bring to boil and then simmer for minimum 20min to 1 hour or until the liquid has reduced.

Serve with Organic Spaghetti, Wholemeal Spaghetti or rice or couscous, anything you want. Rafaela likes to slurp up the noodles. She is so fascinated by the action. We just cut the noodles into manageable sizes. This meal is also extremely freezer friendly and obviously enjoyed by mum & dad too.

 

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Green & Gold Pesto Pasta

I am going through a reminiscing phase at the moment. It has a lot to do with Rafaela turning one, growing up and going into day care. I was looking at photos of Rafaela on Australia day sleeping in her pram, all 9 days old and she is the tiniest little bubba choo. One year on she can enjoy the day much more. A splash in the pool and some BBQ, She might just have her first taste of Lamb! We get to have a little dress up in Green & Gold on Friday at day care too. I cannot wait to dress her up in costumes. My husband and I are pretty good at them if I do say so myself! But I think we will just stick to colour blocking on Friday, ease into it.

A great little dish, light lunch or side is this Green & Gold pesto pasta, inspired by Australia day. It’s really just pesto pasta with peas and corn, very tasty and I serve it with wholemeal spiral pasta. It makes it a great finger food for Raff to get all messy with. Yep I have had to let go of my cleaning anxiety and just let her go for it.  I actually feel really good when I see her eating all her food even if her hair is now green and I’m washing pesto out of her ears.

Homemade pesto is great to have on hand in the freezer; I enjoy pesto pasta more than pasta and sauce most of the time. It’s a great way to use up leftover herbs before they go off. Freeze them in portion sizes; it will make it easier to whip up quick meals. This is also great summer pasta for adults too, hot or cold. Add Rocket, red onion, bacon or prawns, dried chilli, salt and voilà!

Ingredients

Makes 4 Serves

1 tablespoon of LSA meal

1 clove garlic, finely minced

1 cup fresh basil leaves

1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup finely grated parmesan

Splash of lemon juice

freshly ground black pepper

1 cup cooked peas & corn (I use the frozen variety)

2 cups cooked wholegrain pasta or brown rice.

Method

1. Pulse the garlic, basil and olive oil in a blender or food processor until minced.
2. Add the lemon juice and pepper and pulse again.
3. Remove to a bowl and stir in the parmesan cheese.
4. Mix as much of the pesto as you like with the peas and pasta and freeze the rest.

Pesto Pasta and Rafaela enjoying spiral pasta

Pesto Pasta and Rafaela enjoying spiral pasta, getting messy!

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Easy Couscous

Like Millet, couscous is amongst the healthiest grain-based products around. When compared to pasta and rice; couscous is low GI, high in protein, B6 and folate. The below recipe is not only for bubba’s. Just season appropriately for adult tastes and it’s a fantastic accompaniment to salads, stews, curries or as a side dish to grilled meats.

Raffy loves it! We give her some to play with so she can work on her pincer grasp (developmental milestone where they learn to pick up small objects between her thumb and forefinger). This helps develop her coordination, which should eventually see her feeding herself with a spoon, the holy grail!

For a balanced meal, serve with meats and vegetables. It can be a difficult food to eat on its own for a baby. I used this dish to introduce fresh herbs to Rafaela. When she was 8 months old we used pureed vegetables. Now at 10 months we serve it with casseroles. You can keep this in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days or freeze.

I’ve briefly mentioned ‘Fast Food’ for babies and the commercial baby food pouches. When we are out and about I will grab an organic pouch and a small container of couscous or quiona and mix the two together. While most are a full meal (Beef, Vegetables and Rice) already and they say ‘contains lumps’. They are still very much a puree. I add the additional grains to make it lumpier.

Easy couscous (This makes enough for babies lunch and dinner and enough for me and my husband)

Ingredients:

1 cup of couscous
2 cups of water
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
Splash of olive oil.
Shake of spices or fresh chopped herbs

Method:

If you want something with a more bitey texture, then place the couscous and water together in a bowl and sit for 10 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. I personally like this method.
Or you can boil the water and add to the couscous, cover and allow the couscous to sit and absorb the water.
After each method, fluff with a fork. Add lemon juice & a splash of olive oil, spices or herbs. Mix and serve with Steamed veggies, stews, casseroles, avocado, anything!

Shopping tip – Woolworths has a fantastic range with the Macro Wholefoods Market. The most extensive and affordable I’ve seen. I’m obsessed! They have two organic varieties, Whole wheat semolina ($6.35, 750g) and wheat semolina ($5.35, 750g). Great value!

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Whole wheat couscous variety

You can make a sweet version, great for breakfast. Coming soon!

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