Surprise. There’s spinach on your window.


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.


Egg-based fail


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.


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.

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.


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?


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.