Tag Archives: Finger food

It’s hot hot hot… Cool down with some summer Popsicles

Below are some super easy Popsicle recipes to get you and the kids through summer. I must admit they are my healthy treat at the end of the day when I’m craving something sweet. You can use any type of yoghurt, reduce fat or flavoured. I tend to have jalna organic natural or bush honey in my fridge. Also leftover mixture is really just a smoothy. Enjoy!

Mango
11/2 cups (420g) of yoghurt. Now I use Jalna’s organic yogurt with bush honey. You can use anything from vanilla to natural.
1/2 cup (125ml) of milk
1 mango. I scrap out all the flesh from the cheeks and around and off the seed.
1/4 cup (60ml) of light agave syrup.

Place into a blender and blend until smooth.
Let the mixture sit for a few minutes to get the bubbles out.
Pour into Popsicle moulds and freeze until solid.

Strawberry
2 cups of yoghurt (560g)
1/2 cup (160g) of sugar free strawberry jam
1/2cup (65g) of finely sliced fresh strawberries

Whisk together the yoghurt and Jam. Stir through the sliced strawberries.
Pour into Popsicle moulds and freeze until solid.

Banana Maple
1cup (280g) yoghurt
1/2 cup (125ml) milk
1/4 cup (60ml) maple syrup
1 banana

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
Pour into Popsicle moulds and freeze until solid.

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Pea, Chickpea & Quinoa Fritters

Happy New Year! Wow. 2013 was quite challenging (more like First World problems challenging) – nothing in comparison to what I am sure millions of parents around the globe have to deal with every day when it comes to raising their children. I am feeling very lucky these days, too many bad news stories from hanging out with my friends that work for DOCS. We are still very blessed with our healthy little girl Rafaela, She will be two in 8 days! She has an amazing little personality these days. I have to say the most adorable thing is seeing her wiggle her bum when she is free of her nappy before her bath. It washes away the countless tantrums and leg clinging episodes we battle with throughout the day. Oh the joy!

What I do love about her age now is she can help me cook. She is so excited stirring and pounding pizza dough. I hope we can keep up the enthusiasm. Today she helped me make the fritters below and all she could say was “Oh wow” and “Yummy in my tummy”. Then she gobbled down three of them for dinner. I’m not quite sure that she understood, that what she was eating was what she helped me make. Regardless, she was eating a dinner littered with green, which was amazing enough.

I’m back at work full-time now, therefore the opportunity to really consider our meals has been limited and hence the lack of posts. Though the recent festive season (I hosted our family Christmas dinner) really ignited my love for menu planning, cooking and inventing! I’ve enjoyed an extra week off at work and armed with a few new cookbooks for Christmas, it’s game on!

As with the start of every New Year, I try to turn over a ‘new leaf’ in my eating habits and inflict these on to the hubby. This usually consists of weird grains and vegetables. He hates peas and isn’t really a fan of quinoa. We started off using quinoa instead of breadcrumbs on schnitzels. It was merely quinoa (cooked in vegetable stock) seasoned with salt, pepper and some sage on the chicken. Add a squeeze of lemon before serving with mash and greens. They worked out fantastic but didn’t photograph well. It was a really great way to pack in some extra protein, fibre and iron. With a great deal of left over quinoa, I started to look for different ways to use it and adapted this Donna Hay recipe.  As I said, Rafaela hoovered these down, which makes me so happy! Andrew also went back for more… did I mention he hates peas! We both agreed that they tasted like Chinese fried rice. Random indeed!

I served them up with a green salad and a little bit of tomato relish (store bought) and can be eaten warm or cold. This recipe makes around 14 (I did lose 2 fritters during the process of cooking – Try using a spatula and spoon to flip them)

Pea, Chickpea & Quinoa Fritters

2 cups (250g) of cooked peas (Use wholefood organic peas)

1 x 450g can of chickpeas (Use organic chickpeas)

2 cups of cooked white quinoa

1 carrot, peeled and grated

1 spring onion, finely sliced

2 eggs

2 tablespoons of rice flour

2 tablespoons of vegetable or sunflower oil (more for cooking)

Sprinkle of ground cumin

Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper for seasoning.

Method

Roughly mash the peas and blend the chickpeas in a food processor. Place into a bowl with the quinoa, eggs, rice flour, oil, carrot, cumin and season with Salt & Pepper. Mix well to combine and sit aside.

Line a baking tray with non –stick baking paper and start to form ¼ cupful’s of the mixture in to thin patties. Lay the patties on the tray to set before shallow frying.

Heat the extra oil in a non-stick frypan over medium heat and cook, in batches, for 3-4minutes each side until golden. Drain on absorbent paper. The fritters can be served warm or cold.

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Rafaela cooking up a storm!

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Golden Pea, Chickpea and Quinoa Fritters

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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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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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Rafaela is Bananas… B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

Rafaela is Bananas... B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

She can almost do it herself… Great travelling food, no mess no fuss!

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Baby Lentil Falafels & Garlic Yoghurt Sauce

Here is a simple recipe from Donna Hay’s latest cook book ‘Fresh & Light’. I have been looking for simple, healthy recipes that are freezer friendly and it has so many easy recipes that use fresh ingredients.

Patties, burgers, cakes, rissoles, meatballs… however you want to define food rolled up and then pan fried or baked is fine by me. All I can say is, these little round morsels of food are making a huge comeback in our household these days. It is the ultimate odds and ends recipe, using up odd vegetables and the staple mincemeat or that odd can of chickpeas from the pantry. So this is the start of the Palm series. I say palm as I make them all the size of Rafaela’s palm (the recommended portion size) for her and everyone really. So watch this space, over the coming weeks I will be focusing on all things…. Round!

Lentils are a great addition to your little bubba choo’s diet; High in protein, so great for Vegetarians. They also tend to take on the flavours that they are cooked with, Making them very versatile. You might want to start with Red lentils, they are slightly lower in fibre so they don’t produce as much gas as brown and green ones. They also cook to mushier consistency. Some suggestions for Lentil include; cook them in a homemade broth, mash them with vegetables, Use them as a thickener or throw them into a soup or casserole. They would require 20min of cooking. Always thoroughly rinse lentils as they are prone to debris.  This recipe calls for a can of brown lentils. These are readily available as all supermarkets. You can also get organic varieties, which I have used below.

These little Falafels are very tasty and are not deep fried. Like most falafels, they are best served with a sauce. So I’ve included the one from the original recipe. Rafaela gobbled these down, while smearing the yoghurt sauce all over her face. They freeze really well and are a great meal or snack option. These are perfect for the whole family. I found them a great finger food for parties.

Lentil Falafels (makes 12)

1 x 400g can brown organic lentils, drained and rinsed.

1 cup (70g) fresh breadcrumbs

100g Ricotta

1 egg

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ coriander leaves

1 teaspoon of finely grated lemon rind

Sea salt and black pepper

Sunflower oil or macadamia nut oil for brushing

Garlic Yoghurt Sauce

1 cup thick plain yoghurt

2 garlic cloves crushed

2 tablespoons of Tahini paste

2 table spoons of lemon juice

2 table spoons of chopped chives

Method:

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees (450F). To make the garlic yoghurt sauce, combine the yoghurt, garlic, tahini, lemon juice and chives. Set aside.

Place the lentils, breadcrumbs ricotta, egg, cumin, coriander, lemon, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is just combined. Shape 2 tablespoonful’s of the mixture into small patties and place on a baking tray lined with non-stick paper.  Brush the patties lightly with oil and bake for 10 minutes each side or until crisp.

Serve with Garlic Sauce. For infants try serving with couscous and vegetables. For older kids & adults, try serving with salad and pita bread.Image

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Sunday’s Sugar Free Yoghurt Pancakes

Now that I’m back at work, we celebrate the weekend and what better way to celebrate than with a big hearty breakfast. Saturday’s are reserved for Bacon and Eggs. If you ever wanted to know what food I could not live without, it would be eggs. I could open up a café and just serve eggs, any which way. Sunday’s breakfast is either eggs again, served a different way or Pancakes. I found this recipe on the Wholesome Baby Food site. It was one of the first finger foods I made for Rafaela. It’s perfect for breakfast or as a snack. The recipe makes enough for the whole family and more, enough to freeze for later. I like this pancake recipe because it feels healthier and has a real depth of flavour… until you slather it in syrup.

I use Quinoa flour, which makes a denser pancake than you may be used to, however there is a little technique I use to make them fluffier. If you separate the egg yolks from the whites, whip up the whites until white and foamy then fold them in to the mix before you start to cook. You can do this making any pancake recipe and you will notice the difference.

There are a few substitutions below in regards to milk and flour. I also substitute one of the eggs for a banana, it adds a little something different to the taste and this would be the appropriate substitute for any egg allergies.

Sugar-Free Yoghurt Pancakes (Makes between 20+ medium size pancakes)

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups Wholemeal flour or Quinoa Flour or Rice Flour
  • 1 teaspoon bi carbonate soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • dash of ginger
  • 2 cups whole milk (you could sub. with rice/almond/soy milk if desired)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (I use the Jalna Bio dynamic Organic Natural Yoghurt)

Method:

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Combine the wet ingredients in another bowl and whisk together until a bit frothy. (For fluffier pancakes, separate the yolks from the whites. Whisk the whites until white and frothy and fold into the mixture before you are about to cook)

Fold the liquid mixture into the dry mix and stir until just combined.

Lightly grease a non-stick frying pan with; coconut oil, butter or olive oil. Heat the pan on a high to medium heat. You need the pan relatively hot but not smoking.

Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, pour batter onto a heated frying pan

Flip pancakes when they have bubbles throughout. If you were to add fresh fruit, sprinkle them into the batter before you flip.

Some serving suggestions: organic maple syrup, agave syrup, yoghurt or fresh fruit.

These are a great snack item to have frozen. You don’t need to defrost them, just put it straight into the toaster or into a sandwich press.

 

Sugar Free Yoghurt Pancakes

 

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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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