Surprise. There’s spinach on your window.

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I was musing to myself earlier, as some spinach flew past my ear, I should really share the good *and* the bad more often.  Oh you hear all about my wonderful childrens eating habits, eschewing primary coloured yogurt pots for the natural stuff and  chomping down on chickpeas instead of chicken nuggets.  Just there on tuesday they both ate fajitas – salsa, guacamole – the whole shebang, Dominic’s all nicely wrapped, as in the above picture, Theo’s in its constituent parts.  Tonight, my spinach pasties rebranded as ‘green parcels’, did not go well.  Despite spanakopita usually going down a treat.

The meal plan said Thursday:  Puff Pastry Surprise.  This was a weak attempt at meal planning in fairness, I chalked it up there knowing full well that meant frozen pastry taken out this morning with whatever veg were still standing (but not walking on their own yet) that evening.  First mistake – we didn’t actually have puff pastry, only shortcrust.  That’ll do.  So I grated courgette, defrosted and patted dry some spinach and sauteed the two with some garlic.  I grated a good hunk of cheddar in, mixed the whole lot with an egg, grated nutmeg, and a bunch of herbs. Then I divided it into Daddy Bear, Mummy Bear & Baby Bear style portions on the pastry sheet.  I folded each piece over, glazed with egg  & stuck them in the oven.  Job done.

“Mammy what’s for dinner?”

“Er…Green Parcels!” I exclaim.

“I don’t li…” (thinks, what is she talking about?) “…ke them things I want eggy”

“Oh love there’s eggy in Green Parcels” (If I keep capitalising it, it’ll become a real thing.)

(Considerably calmer) “I just want the eggy then okaaayy?”

I pause 2 seconds, which these days elicits a swift “Yes or No? Mammy! Yes or No?” before I have time to think or rationalise or say maybe and I say “Yes”.

Now,  you try extracting molecules of egg from between the strands of grated courgette and mushed spinach encased in pastry.  Oh yeah, and he didn’t want the  ‘parcel’ opened for me to do this.  I haven’t been a mother long enough to learn how to perform keyhole surgery on pies. So I didn’t. And he ate a good bit of pastry and some green went in too. Some tears occurred at the injustice and yes, the spinach got on the window.

So I sit down to write this and discover through my fab Irish Parenting Bloggers group that Kate‘s kids ate squid for lunch today.  In school.  Okay maybe they did mistake it for pasta and weren’t super pleased.   But what I will say is that they only recently moved to Spain, where this and chickpea stew, and pork chops are on their school menu in the upcoming weeks.   The message I take from my and from her experience, is: Y’know what? Sometimes our kids will refuse stuff, and former favourites will be thrown back at you.  But keep offering, because though my bigger boy loves ham way too much he also knows his way around a lentil.  Don’t let your kid dictate your family meals, there’s no way they’ll starve. Variety is the spice of life.  Don’t sweat the small stuff. All those things.

Jill

Egg-based fail

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This weekend we all stayed in a castle (or at least a tower and farmhouse), where we got to be princesses and knights and cook on a range and bathe in a roll top bath.  We were part of a group of 8 adults, 3 toddler/preschoolers, 3 under 1 – all celebrating one of the grown ups significant birthdays.

We got home today with no inclination to go to the supermarket at all.  So dinner, I felt, was an inspired healthy meal cobbled together from the meagre contents of our kitchen. And, it was themed: Eggy Crowns for my little princes.

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Progress Report: Not exactly progressing

I'd rather eat fork.
I’d rather eat fork.

I’m gonna have to be honest here. We did have a big hit a few weeks ago with Kidney Bean & Walnut burgers but sure, baby likes to keep me on my toes.  When I made them again 2 out of 3 of my menfolk happily ate them up with me for dinner but not the little fella, not tonight.  He had them plated up with no bun and showed absolutely no interest but did chew some of the bun when offered afterwards. Doh.

It’s just, that now, at very nearly 9 months old Theo barely eats.  Barely at all, as far as I can see.  And that’s the crux of the matter – I’m starting to take it personally!  He eats in creche, oh yeah, loves his porridge each morning.  I offer him porridge an hour earlier and end up running late for work wiping it off the floor and wall.  Noms up chicken stew and all sorts with his minders.  Happily eats a yogurt, mandarin segments, grape halves.  (Main meals mostly mean spoon feeding in creche) Husband assures me the young fella eats a decent selection of small portions around him.  But me, oh no! I think I walk into view and all he sees is two giant boobs on legs.  That’s not how I look, not these days anyway.  He started in full time childcare a few weeks ago, and has gone from drinking maybe a total of 7 oz of formula during the day at the start, to today, where he drank none at all.  It’s called Reverse Cycling (he feeds very little during the day, and feeds at night instead), and it’s new to me this time round. Breastmilk may well be all I represent to him at the minute.  So that’s ok, but does this mean I can be excused from dinner duties?  Yeah right…

Storage in bib optional.

One simple quick lunch I can recommend is “quesadilla”.  The inverted commas are very necessary.  I don’t think if it would pass a Mexican test somehow.  These have proved popular  and I love them.  I’ve made these with 2 full size wraps and shared them with the kids, and done them with a mini wrap folded in half just for his nibs.  They’re dead handy, and super tasty whatever size you make them.

  • Stick a wrap under the grill to warm briefly while you prep your filling.
  • Grate cheese, grate apple or pear, or mash up some avocado.
  • Take wrap and  scatter grated cheese & fruit, or spread avocado and top with grated cheese.
  • Give it a quick grill.
  • Top with another wrap, and warm that a little.
  • Cut into wedges.
  • Yum.

I’ll keep ploughing on.  I can only urge my readers to please, offer me encouragement, and support, and use the archives to find all the wonderful food that stuffed 6, 7,  8, 9, 10… month old Dominic to the the gills.

Jill

Flag food.

I’ll have this, this and this.

Mama thought I didn’t really want much food and then she looked at her notebook and saw that I’m having about the same as my big brudder when he was a little baby.  I like green food, and white food and orange food.  I don’t know if it’s fun though, it’s kinda hard work sometimes I want to bounce in my jumperoo or practise my sitting up when we’re at dinnertime. If I could practise my sitting up at dinnertime then nobody could sit on me or fall me over or take my toy because nobody would be eating his dinner then.

Popeye Pasta
Good for me

The green food is spinach.  We had 2 things that was spinach that mama likes to make. One was popeye pasta. I tried to pop my eye out with a spoon I think that’s why it’s called that.  Dominic ate lots and lots but I just sucked my pasta and had some green.

Spanakopita
Everyone loves it

Then mama made the green pie that she made before, except she made ones for Dada Bear, Mama Bear and Doma Bear not just one big one.  Teddy Bear (that’s me!) just needed the inside bit on a spoon not all wrapped up like everybody else’s.

The white food is good it’s called nachurl yogurt. Everyone else eats colouredy yogurt, I eat mine from a big big tub all on it’s own or with some squished up apple mama cooked. I like that best on a spoon.

Oooh. Sweet potato wedges.
Oooh. Wedges.

Orange food is my favourite and it is the same as my plate.  Mama said she will give me lots of it again.  I had sweet potato wedges to squish up in my hand and my mouth.

Chomp!
Chomp!

Mama had to take some of the outside bit from the wedgey out of my cheek cos it wouldn’t come out and it wouldn’t go in to my tummy properly either. Then I had the same flavour all smushed onto a rice cake  at lunchtime.

No thanks.
No thanks.

There was carrotty bloop but I wouldn’t eat it. That’s because my big brudder wouldn’t eat it and sometimes I watch what he does and do it too.  Mama was a bit sad because she said it was delishus and Dada slurped it up too and sometimes Dada doesn’t like Mama’s dinner . I did eat some squashy chickpees though. Yum.

– Lil’ T.

Dragging my heels. And my arms, and my brain…

Each day I watch new and interesting parenting blogs pop up around me, with prolific postings.  I know that they’re also pretty busy mums, working in and out of the home and taking care of their little ones so I hold my hands up and say ‘I could do better’.  I’m just going to plead the well worn 3rd trimester excuse.  I’m so tired!  So, so tired!  By the time the toddler wrangling has been done, the dinner tidied up after and I’ve watched my obligatory hour or so of telly, that’s all folks! (No, I won’t ditch the telly)

Luckily we’ve had some fabulous weather in the last month.  All the outdoor activity has given us one hungry little boy.  “I’m hungry mammy” he says, directly after his dinner. “Sssssnackkk” the second he come home from creche (having been eating a slice of toast when he was picked up).   But I know on these mild and dry days that he’s spending good portions of his day running, digging, jumping, sliding, bouncing and causing general mayhem whether in creche or at home with us, and the effect that is having on his appetite is quite startling.  I try and resist snack requests unless I genuinely think he’s hungry or it’s going to be ages yet to dinner, because I don’t want food being a default go-to when he’s a bit restless or bored.   But hey, what’s another mandarin on your way to 5-a-day?

Looks can be a little deceiving

One recent recipe I’d high hopes for was Chickpea Burgers that I saw on RTE’s Kitchen Hero.  I quite like Donal Skehan, his recipes are simple and unfussy.  In this case I felt – though they formed wonderful little firm patties and didn’t crumble into the oil – that simple equated to just a bit bland frankly.  So I think I might try his method again, but add more spice and flavour somewhere – maybe aim more for a falafel flavour?

What I did learn from the same episode was that a simple sauce of natural yogurt & garam masala (and mint, I added some mint too!) is absolutely spot on for a veggie burger, a chickpea dish, a salad dressing – I’ve used it in a multitude of ways since.

Pictured above is the burger with the dressing, and a pumpkin seed roll.  Words can’t describe how I love the 39c rolls from the Lidl bakery section, just try them.  Now, funnily in the intervening weeks since we had those, Dominic has become quite the sandwich connoisseur but at the time I knew he wouldn’t pick up a burger and eat it.   So, unfortunately, as I laid out his burger, with new potatoes and baby corn and baby yellow tomatoes, I realised I had just created the most banal looking dinner plate you ever did see…

Hmm, it’s a bit beige?

…He did eat all his veggies though!  Anyone got any foolproof veggie or chickpea burgers they’d like to share?

Jill

Sous chef extraordinaire. Customer not so great.

Looks all innocent here.

Oh he’s a great little helper alright.

“Mama I see! I see!”  half dragging half pushing his stool over to the counter.

“Stir in the bowl” I hand him a wooden spoon.

“Chheeeeeeessse! More cheeese” as he bites off part of a carefully weighed ingredient and I snatch it from him. Okay that’s not true, it’s the more the ‘that’ll be enough that bit that’s left there’ school of cooking.

Buttons on coffee machine & kettle are pushed, weighing scales upended, toy tools are carefully fed lumps of mashed black eyed bean and all the while I try to keep the show on the road and the child out of danger.

Ta-da!  Quesadilla!  With extra mashed up avocado inside!

Didn’t touch them.

These are in fact delicious and we’ve eaten them up lots of times, with whatever tinned beans that seem like they might be vaguely mexican oriented in the cupboard – black beans, black eyed beans, kidney beans.  Its a Domini Kemp recipe from the Irish Times but as it’s over a year old you’ve to pay to see it so here it is here.

Blackbean tortillas 

This would serve 4-6 as a light snack. Serve them on their own or else purée a couple of avocados with some garlic, a splash of Tabasco sauce, a squeeze of lime juice and some salt and pepper for an easy dip.

1 tin (400 g) black beans

100ml crème fraîche (approximately)

80g strong cheddar, grated

1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed

Salt and pepper

4 flour tortillas

Olive oil

This couldn’t be simpler. If you want to jazz it up for grown-ups, then add a pinch of ground cumin or ground coriander or chilli flakes to the black beans. Preheat an oven to 200 degrees/gas mark six. Drain and rinse the black beans. Mash them to a bit of a lumpy paste with a potato masher. Add the crème fraîche, cheese, garlic, and season well. Mush them up a bit more.

Oil a roasting tray. Place a tortilla on the oiled roasting tray and spoon half the mixture into a circle on the tortilla, leaving a good three-centimetre rim around the outside. Smooth it down, top with another tortilla and smear or brush the top with some more olive oil. Bake until it’s crisp on the bottom (eight minutes or so). Flip it over, bake for another few minutes then remove from the oven and place on a chopping board. Allow it to cool and settle for a moment, before slicing and serving.

These are so easy you could just set up a mini conveyor belt and keep churning them out. You will be very popular.

Le sigh. Sometimes I wonder why I bother.

My daddy makes me the best dinners.  He got me from the creche last night when mamma was still in work and we went home and played for a while we did trains and jumping.  Then he went to the kitchen to make dinner and one Handy Manny later it was ready.  We had sausages and then  out of the white beeping  box we had potatoes, carrots & broccoli.  I nommed it up.  Sausages are new to me, mamma won’t eat them with me and dadda but sometimes she has special ones from the brrrfreezer and dadda and me eat them too.

Today my mammy chopped up 2 big oberjeans and put them in the dangeroushotoven. Mostly I like to see what she’s doing but it was taking her ages today and I didn’t bother. There were tomatoes and pasta too and cheese on top and it took so much time that I had a bath and everything.  Then we all had dinner together. Doma had dinner and dadda had dinner and mamma had dinner but only mamma loved dinner.  I don’t think dadda likes oberjeans very much and I said my tooth hurt and it was better when I had milk then my other tooth hurt and I drank more milk and it was better so I stopped eating dinner and had a yogurt and mamma said she thought i mean my tung hurt and she shouldn’t have put chilli in the dinner.

Dom

2 strikes and we’re out

Oh dear!  A streak of bad luck has befallen our cooking!

First up, yesterday for dinner I made Vegan Yum Yum’s Crispy Sweet & Sour Tofu.  This a great site, full of imaginative vegan grub, and lots of beautiful food photography.  I had a bit of an urge on me for good old fashioned radioactive coloured sweet and sour sauce, like the very first Chinese take out I had age 12 in my cousin Carmel’s house.  I thought it was so exotic.  It was, compared to our standard fare.

So in this recipe, the tofu method was spot on.  I didn’t have any egg replacer, being not of the vegan variety, but the tofu went lovely and crispy using the cornflour alone.  But, it was thrown across the table by his nibs, who clearly prefers my other tofu dish.  As for the sauce, hmm, I think I’ll keep looking.  It was a great consistency, but I think it was the ketchup I didn’t like in it.  Pineapple might not be authentically Chinese (or is it?  is ketchup?) but I think this might be what this dish was lacking for me.  Hungry Dom does not tolerate new foods for long if he doesn’t like the first bite, so it was forkfuls of plain white rice for the rest of his dinner.   Actually, the rice was perfectly cooked, using this method – Rinse basmati really well in a sieve, cover with water – 1.5cms approx above the rice (I start with boiling water).  12 mins covered on a low simmer. Voilà.

nooooo!

Today, it was husbag’s turn.  He turned a blind eye to the whole supermarket shop I did yesterday after his head was turned by The Good Cook on BBC.   Off we went to Fallon & Byrne for some gorgeous overpriced veg, and a trip to the offie for Vermouth.  He likes an aul cheffy dish (read: using every saucepan and utensil going) and made this Braised Fennel with Butter & Parmesan for a light dinner this evening.  Fennel cooked like this is so good for baby led weaning – perfect fingers of sliced fennel to hold, soft enough to chew easily.  To our adult taste buds, this was divine.  The vermouth is not a strong taste and the alcohol is clearly gone.  I know fennel is divisive, but one quick chew and it was spat out by our cantankerous toddler.  Talk about barely giving it a chance!

Honestly though, this is the kind of dish I’d serve as part of my meal if I were on Come Dine With Me.  Child doesn’t know what he’s missing.  He had a yogurt and 2 kiwi’s for his dinner instead.

To make up for such rejection, I decided I’d make a sure fire winner, with none for baby!  Step up the fabulous Babaduck, whose baked goods are becoming legendary via their pale imitations round here.  Husbag asked in a urgent worried tone if any of these were going into work with me as I took them out of the oven. Take that baby boy… we’re eating all of these now you’re gone to bed…

Jill

here’s a tip for you

BLW cookbook  – Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Don’t try and make meatballs this using quorn mince!  I had a feeling this might happen, there’s no fat inherent in quorn mince to make the meatballs really stick together.  They had the usual egg & breadcrumbs, and looked like perfect roundy specimens as they chilled in the fridge.  But as soon as they hit the oil they kinda crumbled.  Figured in for a penny in for a pound and just crushed them all up.  So we had a good ol fashioned “mince”y tomatoey dinner.  And it was really tasty, simmered in the tomato sauce.

I’m guessing we’re not the first people to try making quorn mince meatballs though, so after a quick google, I’ve found this recipe on the Baby Led Weaning site, which involves smaller meatballs and baking them in the sauce so definitely going to try again.

It’s a little hard to judge whether Dominic likes things or not at the moment.  His current 2 top food related words nooooo & “moh?” (more).  No, in this case, doesn’t always mean no. He’ll often say it then happily keep eating, or take what you’ve offered.  More is usually a demand for more pasta, more grapes, or more yogurt.  He can have them!  “Wuh wuh” (water) is also fierce popular, but as much for its messing abilities as its thirst quenching goodness.  He often has snacks like a breadstick or a few grapes while we’re preparing dinner post creche.  It’s pretty hard when we get in the door from creche, throw the bags down and try to start dinner.  There’s only ever one parent home at that point, and it’s tough to chop and season and sauté while Dom stands arms up towards either you or the food cupboards.   So I might be filling him with snacks before dinner is ready.

We’re doing pretty well at meal planning at the moment.  We’ll have 4 things decided that we’ll make during the week, but we’re not good at making things in advance.  The furthest I’ll go is chopping some stuff before work in the morning. And in this house that’s ultra prepared…