Tag Archives: 12 months

Chicken, Couscous & Bacon Meatloaf

Adapted from a Donna Hay Recipe

It has been awhile, I must say. What has happen since then and now, well Rafaela is growing up fast. She is 21 months old. I’m looking forward to when I can say she is 2 years and then we just go up by halves right? Imagined if we referred to our ages in months, I would be 380 months old! We definitely are in full swing of the infamous ‘Terrible Twos’ she loves to throw the most outrageous tantrums and the attitude is phenomenal. She has the ‘Terrorist’ as her nickname. However on the flip side she is so incredibly smart and funny. Her personality is shining through these days, even if it can be more challenging. She loves to repeat what we say and do, so eating now is getting to be a tad less of challenge as she wants to eat more and more by herself… Now from what I gather about most kids, green needs to be unseen so hiding vegetables has become my new pass time. Hence the Meatloaf! It’s a great way to use mincemeat and also hide vegetables. I’ve adapted this recipe from Donna Hay. She had these so nicely wrapped individually… Sorry I couldn’t quite pull that one off with the little one. So I’ve gone all traditional and used a loaf pan and a stack of additional vegies. The couscous gives the loaf a really nice texture and actually holds the loaf together quite well. The bacon naturally adds a nice smoky flavour and keeps the whole dish moist. To freeze, merely slice and place between non-stick baking papers in a freezer proof container.

Chicken, couscous and bacon meatloaf

Ingredients

1 tablespoon of Olive Oil

1 large brown onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 carrot grated

1 zucchini grated

6-8 bacon rashers, rind removed

1 cup cooked couscous

1/3 cup oregano leaves, chopped

2 tablespoons finely grated lemon rind

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 eggs

500g chicken mince

2 rashers of bacon, extra, chopped.

Sea salt and cracked black pepper

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees (350 F). Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5-7 minutes or until softened. Allow to cool completely.

Line a loaf tin with the rashers of bacon, slightly overlapping. Place on a baking tray and set aside. Place the couscous in a bowl with the onion mixture, oregano, lemon rind, mustard, eggs, mince, extra bacon, Salt & pepper and mix to combine. Place mixture into the loaf tin, packing it in tight and then fold over the bacon.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cooked through. Increase temperature to 220 degrees (440 F). Set aside for 5 minutes before inverting onto the baking tray, lined with non-stick baking paper. Bake for a further 5-10 minutes or until golden.

Serve with tomato chutney or sauce if desired. Makes 6-8 slices.

Top left: Packing in the filling. Bottom left: Snug as a bug in bacon rug, Right: Rafaela chowing down.

Top left: Packing in the filling. Bottom left: Snug as a bug in bacon rug, Right: Rafaela chowing down.

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Pumpkin, Zucchini & Fetta Mini Quiches

What glorious weather we’ve been having lately. Rafaela is taking full advantage of it too. She is much more nimble on her feet and one of her favourite words is ‘Outside’. The great thing is that she knows she has to have her shoes and hat on before she can go out there which is a great little habit! When the weather is great we try and spend as much time outside getting some much needed vitamin D. So we have been considering what makes a good ‘movable feast’. We had a somewhat impromptu picnic today with the family and we made crispy tofu rice paper rolls. Really straightforward… but not quite bubbachoo friendly right now, but great for your bigger kids!

Another great ‘movable feast’ item is the mini quiche. It’s also a great way to use up leftovers and hide vegetables, which is my new task. Therefore this recipe is totally interchangeable with a number of tasty combinations. Think ham & cheese, mushroom, spinach & fetta, corn etc.

Rafaela seems to have regained her true ‘Hunter’ appetite. She is currently well (aside from a weird rash). No congestion and no teething. Outside of just eating pasta she hasn’t been very adventurous, though she is starting to show a need for independence and eating by herself. She has the coordination down pat, just can’t work out how to get the food on the fork or spoon, I’m sure we will have some kind of stabbing cutlery injury any day now.

Enjoy!

Ingredients (Makes 12+)

1 Zucchini grated

½ Butternut Pumpkin, peeled & cubed.

½ cup of Cheese (Try Grated Gruyere, Cheddar or Fetta)

3 – 4 Eggs

½ cup Milk or Pouring Cream

Fresh or dried Chives, finely chopped.

1-2 sheets of Puff Pastry

12 hole cupcake tray

Salt & Pepper for seasoning

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees, toss the cubed pumpkin with a little splash of olive oil and salt & pepper.  Spread the pumpkin on to a tray lined with non-stick baking paper and roast in the oven for 20-25min until cooked, remove from the oven and cool. Prepare the cupcake tray with a light brushing of olive oil. Defrost the puff pastry and cut out enough rounds to line the holes of the tray. They do not need to line the entire cup. If you want to be a bit more health conscious or frugal with the pastry then you need just enough to make a little cup.

Place the zucchini in a small fry pan and cook gently for 2 minutes, remove from the heat and cool. Prepare egg mixture by whisking eggs and milk together. Then lightly season with salt & pepper.  I like to do this in a jug so you can easily pour the mixture into the individual cups

Fill up the pastry cups with pumpkin (2-3 cubes per cup), zucchini, cheese and chives. At this stage you can add any additional ingredients (Little ham or bacon is nice) evenly fill each cup with enough egg mixture to cover the pastry or to just the lip of the pastry.

Place the trap into a 180 degree preheated oven and cook for 25-30min until the pastry is golden and puffed and the filling is firm.

To freeze, make sure that they are completely cooled first. To reheat, wrap them in foil and place back into the oven. Adjust timing based on thawed or frozen.

A Moveable Feast - Pumpkin, Zucchini & Fetta  Mini Quiches

A Moveable Feast – Pumpkin, Zucchini & Fetta Mini Quiches

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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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Polenta Crust Spinach & Ricotta Tart

This tart was an experiment of combining two recipes and it worked a treat! It all came about after dedicating precious hours, during Rafaela’s nap, to clean the pantry out. Prior to this I had found a trail of ants marching their way in and was baffled as to what they were after. A few months earlier, we had the same scenario and I realised they were all over the jar of honey!

So after pulling it apart and reorganising (also a very timely exercise since returning from Costco), I found too many half full bags of pastas, rice, noodles and polenta. I thought it wise to start fresh and finish them all off. In addition to this, the hubby had returned home with a bag of silverbeet earlier in the week. He actually thought it was spinach and for a long time so did I.

So what is the difference? Well sliverbeet is from the chard family, closely linked to beetroot. They have bigger stiffer leaves with white stalks and it needs to be cooked before eaten. This is due to the high level of Oxylic Acid. Spinach on the other hand has small, soft leaves and can be eaten raw in salads. Both are great sources of Iron and Folate. Depending on the recipe it can be pretty interchangeable; therefore a spinach pie or tart can easily use both.

It is just this scenario that inspired me to develop this blog. I would find all these various ingredients and just Google them in one sentence and see what comes up. I also reach for Stephanie Alexander’s ‘The Cook’s Companion’ to filter an expansive list of ingredients. I found a polenta crust from Donna Hay and a spinach & ricotta pie from Teresa Cutler’s ‘Healthy Chef’ blog. Added some lemon, garlic and parmesan (yep the freezer is pretty similar to the pantry at the moment, too many half full bags of cheese!) and we had a pretty tasty dish for the family.

I really liked the polenta crust, it was a great way to use the grain and it added a cheese like depth of flavour to the dish. I served the tart with a tomato and balsamic vinegar salad. It felt very light and fresh and best of all, Raff gobbled it down!

Polenta Crust Spinach & Ricotta Tart (Serves 12)

Polenta Crust

½ cup (75g) plain flour

1 cup (170g) instant polenta or cornmeal

120g unsalted butter, softened.

½ cup of water

Sea salt

Filling

500g baby spinach or silver beet (Swiss chard) – remove stalks and slice

1 leek sliced

1 garlic clove crushed

450g fresh ricotta

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind

½ cup of Parmesan

Handful of fresh basil

Pinch of nutmeg

Salt & Pepper for seasoning

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. To polenta crust, place the flour, polenta, butter, water and salt in the food processor and process until a dough forms. Press the dough into 24cm loose bottom tart pan (or grease a round cake pan). Top the dough with non-stick baking paper and fill with baking weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes, remove the paper and weights or beans and bake for another 10 minutes or until crisp.

To make the filling, sauté the leek and garlic in a pan with a splash of olive oil until soft. Add the spinach or silver beet to pan and season with salt & pepper, nutmeg and basil. Cook until wilted, remove for the heat and drain any excess liquid.

Add the ricotta, lemon, parmesan and mix through until combined. Spoon the filling into the pastry lined pie shell and bake for 35-40 minutes in preheated oven at 180 degrees until golden.

The making of the tart - Pie Crust, Finished Tart and Mixing up the Silverbeet

The making of the tart – Pie Crust, Finished Tart and Mixing up the Silverbeet

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Zucchini, corn, carrot and cheddar loaf

Wondering what to make for the kids lunch boxes this week? Why not try this Zucchini, corn, carrot and cheddar Loaf? I found this recipe on a recent trip to NZ. I had the chance to go through archived Donna Hay magazine in her IPad App and found this in a old Kids issue.We love a good loaf at home, however they are usually sweet ones. I made this loaf in about 10-15 minutes, this was the time that Rafaela sat down and ate her lunch. So it is very easy and very quick. We have a walking toddler on our hands now, so cooking can be quite acrobatic at the moment and I will say that kitchen looked like a bomb had hit it!

The original recipe calls for grated cheddar. I had a mexican cheese medley in the freezer and introduced a lone carrot sitting at the bottom of the vegetable tray. The texture is light and fluffy, yet dense enough to remain in tact if toasting or using as a sandwich. It is best served with some extra sliced cheese and tomato chutney.

Zucchini, corn, carrot and cheddar loaf

2 ½ cups self-raising flour

1 ½ cups grated cheddar cheese

1 cup grated zucchini

1 cup sweet corn kernels

1 cup of grated carrot

2 green onions (Scallions) sliced

2/3 cup Canola or Sunflower Oil

1 cup of Milk

2 eggs

Sea salt and cracked pepper

Cheddar and Tomato Chutney, to serve.

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees (350 F). Place the flour, grated cheese, zucchini, sweet corn and green onion in a bowl and mix to combine. Place the oil, milk, eggs, salt & pepper in a separate bowl and whisk to combine. Add the zucchini mixture and stir until well combined. Pour into a lightly greased 8cm x 22cm (1.75 litre capacity) loaf tin lined with non-stick baking paper. Bake for 55-60 minutes if until cooked when tested with a skewer. Serve with the cheese slices and chutney. Serves 8

Slice of the loaf

Slice of the loaf

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Cheesy Polenta Slice

I must say juggling motherhood and working has taken its toll. Not to mention the sickness rotating through the household at the moment. Rafaela is the little outbreak monkey; bringing home all these random diseases and the constant runny nose. ‘Hand, foot and mouth disease’ what the hell? Sounds worse than it is…I would pride myself on being quite healthy, I have avoided countless bouts of the infamous man flu. However the combination of being exhausted and never fully recovering from one sickness to another is definitely making life that little bit more dramatic.

We’ve had some big changes of late. I went away for work for 5 days and Andrew played Mr Mum and Dad, he’s now decided number 2 addition to the family is on hold indefinitely. Ha!

Rafaela has sprouted a tonne of teeth, along with being sick, this has led to a fair few sleepless nights, vaporisers and a heap of Panadol. It has also been very challenging to get her to eat anything than puree and spaghetti. Nothing orange or green gets past her so we’ve had to get pretty creative these days. It has been a huge learning curve for us. Every meal these days seems to start with the refusal to sit in her high chair (this resembles planking) Then watching her (like a hawk) to take the first bite to then try for the second and it’s a blatant refusal.  We are then cleaning up countless bowls of food thrown across the room, arguing over the options in the freezer, to then release her from her chair and the screams that can only be described as her being tortured, to then have her just want to eat something from a packet. It is not uncommon for the whole family to be in tears by the end of this… and that was just breakfast.

Now, the little devil is walking! It has been a process as many mums and dads will know; starting with the shuffle across the furniture, then the two hand hold, then the one hand. We went from big steps to little more controlled steps and then we had the downward dog moves that took her from sitting to standing on her own. All amazing feats, and then last night in the corner of my eye I see her get into her tripod position, stand and then take off! She was practically running and on a mission to nowhere. She was just so excited to be moving. It was hilarious and charming all at once. So with all these changes, I am feeling the need to be as simplistic as possible. This leads me to the below recipe for Cheesy Polenta Slice. It is extremely easy to make, it just needs at least 25 minutes of your attention.

Ingrediants

1 cup of polenta
1 litre of water
3/4 cup of parmesan cheese
3/4 cup of a cheddar, tasty or mozzarella cheese
3 good pinches of dried oregano
Cracked pepper
Butter

Method

Bring the water to boil and slowly while whisking add the polenta. Reduce the heat and Continue to whisk the polenta for 10-15min so you don’t get any lumps. Remove from the heat and allow it to sit for 5 minutes. While it may look cooked it’s important to cook the polenta for close to 25min otherwise it will be heavy and grainy.

Add the cheese, oregano and pepper stir to combine.

Line a small rectangle baking tray (The silicon trays work a treat), smooth out the polenta into the tray and allow to set in the fridge for 30 minutes.

When ready slice up into fingers or use a cookie cutter to make fun shapes out of the polenta. Melt a dollop of butter in a non-stick pan and fry up the slices until golden brown.

Serve up with pasta sauces, fresh tomato salsa, or with roast veggies. You can also add cooked veggies to this dish before setting in the fridge, consider; pumpkin, carrot or zucchini

You can also freeze the polenta. I find it easier to package the individual portions in foil and then defrost in the fridge or microwave before crisping them up in some butter.

Cheesy Polenta cut using a cupcake cookie cutter

Cheesy Polenta cut using a cupcake cookie cutter

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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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