Tag Archives: Lunch

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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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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Leftover Chicken Soup

It has been a while since I’ve posted any recipes, I must say the cold weather has taken its toll on the family. We’ve had a little sick monkey on our hands, well I am going to say it has been on and off for the last 6 months and it has just been exacerbated by the cold weather.  I am sure every parent goes through this battle, months of runny noses, ear infections and chesty coughs. I think the hardest thing is she can’t blow her nose. I think it would solve a great deal of her problems! She likes to make the noise and pull out tissues from the box and hold them to her nose which is all very cute, but isn’t helping!

Along with the sickness comes the teething, Poor girl has mini volcanoes all along the back of her mouth waiting to erupt. This all contributes to one upset little girl. Her appetite has definitely suffered, we have reverted back to the puree food so how timely that it’s soup season!

This is a great recipe to use up left overs, especially after a roast/BBQ chicken meal. You can make this with home-made stock or pre-made stock, just look for options that are organic and low in sodium (Salt). We have a cheeky weekend ritual; well it pretty much started when Andrew started renovating the house. We enlisted the help of many capable friends and family to help with a bit of coaxing – Lunch and beers. So began the trip to the best little BBQ chicken place in the hood.

So if you roast your own chickens of not, this is a great recipe from Donna Hay that uses up the carcass of the Chicken to make a beautiful, clear stock.

Left over Chicken Soup

1 cup of soup mix (Split peas, barely, lentils) or small pasta like Rissoni

Baby Spinach

Roast chicken, shredded

2 carrots

1 Zucchini

Chicken Stock

Cracked pepper and parmesan to serve.

Basic Chicken Stock Recipe

1.5kg chicken bones (still with some meat on)

2 onions, halved

2 carrots halved

2 sticks of celery, chopped

8 litres of water

8 black peppercorns

4 stalks of flat-leaf parsley

2 fresh or dried bay leaves

Sea salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Place the chicken bones, onions, carrots, celery in a large baking dish and bake for 1 hour. Transfer to a stock pot or large saucepan with the water, peppercorns, parsley and bay leaves. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer rapidly, uncovered.

Reduce the heat so that the stock simmers slowly but constantly. Skim the surface of the stock with a spoon occasionally so that it remains clear. Simmer for 1 ½ hours or until the stock is well flavoured. Add a generous amount of sea salt to bring out the flavour.

Strain the stock through a fine sieve. Allow to cool, and then remove any solidified fat from the surface. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze in ready to use portions. This should make 4 litres of Stock.

To make the soup, dice carrot, zucchini and any other vegetables such as potato and add to the chicken stock, cooking until tender. Meanwhile, cook the soup mix or pasta according to the packet instructions.  Add to the stock along with Shredded chicken and simmer for a few minutes, check for extra seasoning. Before serving, add baby spinach leaves and allow them to wilt. Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and a little cracked pepper and crusty bread.

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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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Simple Beef Casserole

I thought I would follow-up with something I actually thought to take a photo of, yummy beef casserole. I will start taking more photos as we cook, would you believe in 10 months I’ve taken 1,238 pictures of just Rafaela!

We started introducing red meat into the diet at the 10 month mark, and we celebrated with this hearty stew! Red meat is a great source of Iron, which is an important dietary mineral. It is essential in providing energy for daily life and is also vital for brain development.

I don’t really cook many casseroles; I came from a household that cooked curries instead. But the smell of this was just divine. It took me back to the day I ate goulash for breakfast, lunch and dinner en-route to Switzerland. It’s the perfect dish for the colder months and I’ve found it a great dish for a teething baby. I’m not sure if it is because it has just the right amount of gravy to go down the hatch without irritating the gums or enough bite to massage the gums. Who knows what goes on in there?

I would have loved to use organic beef for this recipe; however I can only ever find organic beef mince (Woolworths, Aldi & Costco). It’s not a necessity to go organic, but if you can then go for it. It’s more affordable than you think.

Below is the baby friendly recipe. Just add appropriate seasoning for an adult version.

Baby Beef Casserole (This recipe will make around 6 cups)

This can be made in a slow cooker, just read your instructions.

Ingredients:

400g of chunk/stewing meat. Trim away any fat.
I onion, diced
2 garlic cloves crushed
2 organic carrots, slice
1 cup of frozen peas
500ml of organic beef or vegetable stock
200ml of organic diced tomatoes or passata
2 tsp. of organic tomato paste
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. of rice flour (You can use any flour, rice flour is gluten-free)
4-5 sprigs of Fresh thyme
4-6 prunes chopped
Splash of Olive Oil, enough to brown the meat.

Method:

Heat oil in a heavy based saucepan and brown the meat. Remove and set aside.
Add onion and carrots to the pan and sauté for 2 minutes. Add crushed garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
Add the flour to the vegetables and stir to combine. Add the stock, canned tomatoes, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine.
Add beef, prunes and thyme, cover with the lid and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and leave simmering  for 1-1 1/2 hours. Stir occasionally, scraping down the sides. In the last 5 minutes remove the lid and add the frozen peas.

For smaller babies puree. For older babies break up the meat with a fork, it should pull apart nicely.

The perfect accompaniments are; sweet potato mash, rice, quinoa, pasta or bread.

This is very freezer friendly.

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Beef Casserole

Shopping tip: Coles and Woolworths both sell organic stock cubes. You can also buy ‘Celebrate Health Organic Stock’ 500ml for $10 at Coles.

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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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