28 December 2010

Lentil Bolognaise for Baby



















Another in my baby recipe series.

Now that Christmas is over, it is back to normality and time to top up the freezer with meals for Cooper. I decided to share this one as it is one of his favourite meals and I can never resisit a wee taste either.

Lentil Bolognaise for Baby

1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chooped
1 courgette, freshly chopped
1 x 400g tin green lentils
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
4 tbsp tomato puree
1 cup baby vegetable stock
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 handful fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

1 cup baby shell pasta
more water if required


Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil until soft.

Add the carrots and courgette and cook gently until these too have started to soften.

Add the drained lentils, the tomatoes and tomato puree and stir well.

Add the vegetable stock and herbs. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook gently for 15 minutes.

Add the pasta and cook for another 10 minutes, adding more water if you think it needs it.

Makes 10 potions for a hungry 10-12 month old baby. (One for dinner, one for the fridge and 8 for the freezer, once cooled and labelled. A great time saver.)

Suitable from 9 months to adult.

If your baby or toddler doesn't like a such a chunky sauce, puree the sauce before adding the pasta. Serve with some grated cheddar cheese or a vegan alternative.

21 December 2010

NCR - Festive Photo Round-up

We have a wee tradition going for the December edition of No Croutons Required. We ask for festive photos instead of recipes and it is always a pleasure to loom at all the entries.

So, enjoy the round-up and please remember to vote for your favourite photo.



1. Festive Steamed Potatoes
Tigerfish
(An Escape to Food)
California, USA


















2. It's Cold Outside
Nic
(Nip It In The Bud)
Gloucester, England, UK













3. Winter Blue
Susan
(Holly Grove Kitchen)
Shropshire, England, UK


















4. Savannah Holly
Claire (Chez Cayenne)
Houston, Texas, USA

















5. Snowy Days On The Farm

Sue (Our New Life In The Country)
Oxfordshire, England, UK













6. Little Green Tree Buddy

Sarah (The Ordinary Vegetarian)
Illinois, USA


















7. Magic Begins When You Believe
Soma (eCurry)
Plano, Texas, USA























8. Keeping Monkey Warm

Mangocheeks (Allotment 2 Kitchen)
West of Scotland, UK























9. Holidays Past
Mary (Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes)
New England, USA


















10. Santa Baby

Jacqueline (me)(Tinned Tomatoes)
Dundee, Scotland, UK
(not in vote)























11. Einstein in the Snow

Fay (The Wind and the Wellies)
Orkney, Scotland, UK























12. Frosty Gate
Brownieville Girl (Brownieville Girl)
Ireland























13. A Box of Holiday Goodies
Nupur (One Hot Stove)
St. Louis, Missouri, USA























14. Christmas Candles

Johanna (Green Gourmet Giraffe)
Melbourne, Australia























15. Winter Blast

Lisa (Lisa's Kitchen)
London, Ontario, Canada
(not in vote)



















16. Potato Tree

Jill (Vegan Backpacker)
Ontario, Canada
























17. Festive Time and Cookies

Vanessa (Sweet Artichoke)
Switzerland























18. Snowy Townhouses

Valerie (City|Life|Eats)
Washington DC, USA


















19. Star of Wonder, Star of Light

Sra (When My Soup Came Alive)

16 December 2010

Vegetable & Coconut Korma for Baby




























As you would expect, I cook all of Cooper's meals myself. The only thing I buy for him are pouches of organic fruit. I think it is nice for him to be able to enjoy summer berries through the winter and he loves them. They cleverly add some quinoa to the fruit mixture and they are rather delicious. Oh and baby rice cakes, which he also loves.

I was making this curry and the smells were winding their way around my heart and I was thinking, "I would really like to have this for dinner", which made me think perhaps I should start blogging some of my baby recipes.

I added couscous to the curry, so it is ready to serve when it is heated up, which is much easier for Cooper's childminder and me too, come to that. I used couscous instead of rice, because I am nervous of re-heating rice for Cooper. I know if it is cooled quickly and then heated though well it should be ok, but I prefer not to if I am freezing the meal.

This recipe for curry was enough for 5 portions. One for dinner and four for the freezer. Mind you my baby is a bit of a greedy gannet, although you would never know it because he is quite a slender wee chap. You would be shocked at how much he eats in a day. I will give you an example of what a day's food would look like for Cooper.

Pre-Breakfast: One hour breastfeed (these will be ending soon, believe me)

Breakfast: Large bowl of porridge made with water and raisins. I add a glug of milk and half a mashed up banana when it is ready, to sweeten it and cool it down. He eats the other half of banana whilst he is waiting. A drink of water.

Snack: Toast, a pear, ½ jam jar (easy to store it in) of freshly made fruit smoothie, water

Lunch: Pasta and vegetables in a cheese and spinach sauce, squeezy fruit pouch, 1 breadstick, water

Snack: Follow-on milk or if I am day off, breastfeed, a few chunks of melon and kiwi fruit, 2 baby rice cakes, the rest of his smoothie, water.

Dinner: Vegetable & coconut korma with Couscous, rice pudding, water and then sometimes a breadstick or a couple of rice cakes whilst we are finishing our dinner.

Supper: 30-40 minute breastfeed


Can you believe that? That's more than I eat most days. It's crazy! Where does he put it all? I bet he would eat more if I let him.



















Vegetable & Coconut Korma for Baby

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 medium carrots, finely diced
1 large field mushroom, finely diced
4 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander or a small handful of fresh, finely chopped
1 tsp turmeric
1 ¼ cups water
1 medium potato, very finely diced
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1⁄3 cup desiccated coconut
½ cup couscous
1 cup milk or soya milk


Saute the onion and carrots until soft, then add the mushroom and cook for another couple of minutes.

Add the tomato puree and herbs and stir.

Add the potato, chickpeas, coconut and water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat. Cover the pan and simmer gently for 20 minutes until the vegetales are tender. Check to see if it needs a little more water as it is simmering.

Add the couscous and milk and leave to simmer for another 10 minutes until the couscous has fluffed up.

5 portions for a 10-12 month old baby

12 December 2010

Spinach and Pea Pesto


I love pesto and I have started introducing it into Cooper's diet too. Add some spinach and peas to it and you have a powerhouse of nutrients. Just right for baby. (Only add nuts to your pesto if you know your baby or toddler does not have an allergy to nuts. I tested Cooper out by giving him a little peanut butter when he was 10 months old. We don't have any nut allergies in the family, so I felt confident enough to try it out. If you do have a history of allergies in the family, it may be better to make the pesto without the nuts)

I do make a couple of changes to his portion. I use less garlic as he can find it a bit overpowering and I add a spoonful of Philadelphia soft cheese and he loves it. A child after his mother's heart.

Of course, I have to keep checking it to make sure it is perfect. Just a spoonful and another and another....... Yum!

It is just gorgeous!
print recipe
Spinach & Pea Pesto
The perfect pesto for you and your little ones.
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup frozen peas (I prefer petit pois as they are sweeter)
  • 1 cup blanched baby spinach
  • 1 large handful fresh basil
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • ½ cup unsalted cashew nuts
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
Simply add all your ingredients to a food processor and whizz.

Pesto is one of those things that isn't an exact science, so you can add less garlic, more olive oil, less or more cheese. Just taste it and adjust it until it has the right texture and the flavour you like.

Leave the parmesan out if you want a vegan version, which is just as delicious.

It is just gorgeous!
Details
Total time: Yield: 2 cups of pesto




05 December 2010

Flourless Chocolate Cake



I love yoghurt and consume tons of the stuff, so I was excited when I saw Activia had brought out a pouring yoghurt in three flavours: Natural, Vanilla and Strawberry. I was even more excited when they got in touch with me to ask if I would like to try some. They were hoping I would come up with some serving suggestions. I am sure they thought I would give a breakfast suggestion, but no. As soon as I saw the cartons I knew it would be at its best poured over chocolate cake and so the search for a chocolate cake began.

I sat on the floor with a multitude of cookbooks around me and flicked through them with the help of a rather nosey baby. My requirements were few, I had to have the ingredients (as we were snowed in) and it had to make me drool thinking about it. I finally settled on a Flourless Chocolate Cake from Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights, a cookbook I just love.


It turned out fabulously and as suspected the yogurt was delicious with the cake. The rich, fudgey chocolate cake was sweet which contrasted beautifully with the slightly tart yoghurt. Cream would have been too much and would have drowned the flavour of the cake, but the yoghurt complimented it beautifully. This is now my favourite chocolate cake and I will definitely be trying the other flavours of pouring yoghurt.


Flourless Chocolate Cake

300g/2cups of broken plain/semi-sweet chocolate (I used 1 bar of dark chocolate and 2 bars of dark chocolate with orange and almonds)
225g/1 cup of caster sugar
180ml/¾ cup of boiling water
225g/1 cup of salted butter, cut into cubes (I used unsalted and added a pinch of salt to the mix)
6 eggs, separated (I used large eggs)
1 tsp of instant coffee powder
1 tbsp of vanilla extract


Grease and line the base of a solid-bottomed 20cm/8 inch square or 23cm/9 inch round cake pan. Sophie - "I prefer to use a springform cake tin as the texture of the cake is quite moist and sticky, but make sure it's well lined to prevent the mixture leaking through the gaps". Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/gas 4.

In a large food processor (or done in two batches), pulse the chocolate and sugar until fine. Add the boiling water, butter, egg yolks, coffee powder and vanilla extract (add a pinch of salt if you are using unsalted butter). In a glass bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff and then add them to the mixture in the food processor and blend for 10 seconds or so. Jacqueline - "I mixed a dollop of the stiff egg whites into the food processor mixture, then gently folded the rest of the chocolate mixture into the egg whites. It just seemed the right thing to do!". Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and put in the hot oven for 45-55 minutes. The top will be cracked like a desert fault line.

After you take the cake out of the oven it will collapse in on itself quite a bit. This is ok; it's not meant to be a proud cool cake, it's meant to be slightly rough around the edges and home-made looking.

Let the cake, cool, then put in the fridge for a few hours.

Sophie - "My favourite, favourite thing!".
Jacqueline - "My favourite, favourite thing (this week and my favourite chocolate cake of all)!".

Disclosure: Activia sent me some yoghurt to try. I was not expected to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.

Hotel Chocolat Winner






My wee independent adjudicator has been put to work again to decide who would be the lucky winner of the scrumptious Hotel Chocolat Christmas Tree. He has definitely got the hang of this now. He dived straight in and pulled out our winner. I quickly took a photo, because he is a generous baby and would have quite happily proceeded to pull out all the names and bankrupt me.

Congratulations to Verity. Your tree will be sent out just as soon as I get your address.

01 December 2010

No Croutons Required - Festive Photo Round





















December is here and it is time to veer away from our regular monthly soup and salad recipes. We are all so busy in December so I like to ask for a festive photo instead of a recipe.

It is snowing heavily here with the garden hidden under a few feet of snow, so I know that other bloggers from the UK will have no problems in capturing a suitable image, but don't worry if you do not have a wintry landscape to feature, you could take a photo of your Christmas decorations, a winter dish you have cooked or baked or a festive photo of your children.

As usual you have until the 20th of the month to post your photo and link it here, then send me an email to nocroutonsrequired@googlemail.com with:

- your name
- name of blog
- blog url
- photo
- name and description of photo
- link to the post
- your location


Remember you can keep up to date with the No Croutons Required challenge each month over at Lisa's Kitchen or in The Food Blog Diary. I am off to update the diary now.

Wendy over at A Wee Bit Of Cooking has won the festive photos for the last two years. Here are her winning shots. I think you will agree they are pretty stunning.



























While I am talking about winners, I must congratulate Susan The Well Seasoned Cook who one November's No Croutons Required challenge with her Vegetarian Avgolemono Soup with Quinoa. It was a very impressive dish indeed.

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