Lentil Bolognaise for Baby

Another in my baby recipe series. Lentil bolognaise for baby (or toddler).

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 pasta 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.

   related - Leftover Bolognaise Quesadillas   

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
(An Escape to Food)
California, USA

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

3. Winter Blue
(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)

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)

18. Snowy Townhouses

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

19. Star of Wonder, Star of Light

Sra (When My Soup Came Alive)


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

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.
  • 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
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!
Total time: Yield: 2 cups of pesto


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.

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.

Scottish Macaroon Snowballs

I was on Facebook late one night, probably working on my farm, when an instant chat box popped up from one of my fellow Scottish bloggers, Marie. We often have a chat when we are on at the same time.

Marie blogs over at You'll Have Had Your Tea and runs a wee cafe called the Green Apple Apple Cafe in West Linton, just outside Edinburgh. She posts her daily menus on facebook and they always make me salivate.

Anyway, during this particular chat Marie said she had just finished baking for her 10 year old, who was to dress up in World War II clothes for school the next day and bring along a treat from the time. After speaking to her mum, she settled on making macaroon bars. After our chat, I was desperate to make some too. I have thought about making macaroon bars from time to time, but never got around to actually making any. Marie gave me a rough idea of the recipe, but I took note of quantities as I made mine, so I would know next time. Some of you may be surprised when you discover what the main ingredient is.

I shaped my macaroons into balls instead of bars and renamed them Scottish Macaroon Snowballs, which is quite apt for our weather. Heavy, heavy, deep snow.


Scottish Macaroon Snowballs


1 large potato (150g approx)
4 ½ cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g good quality dark chocolate
1 ½ cups dessicated coconut


1. Peel your potato and cut it into quarters, then boil until soft. Mash until smooth and then spoon into a large mixing bowl. Leave to cool.

2. Pour in your icing sugar a spoonful at a time, stirring with a spatula. The mixture will be quite wet and gloopy at first, but eventually it will form a smooth dough. Towards the end, as the dough gets stiffer, it is easier to work with a wooden spoon.

3. Once your dough is ready, wrap it in clingfilm and pop it in the fridge for half an hour.

4. Prepare a couple of baking trays, by covering them in greaseproof paper, then tear of small balls of the macaroon dough and roll into smooth balls. Once you have finished, pop the trays full of macaroon in the fridge, while you move onto the next step.

5. Pour half of your desiccated coconut into a ovenproof dish. I covered my dish with greaseproof paper, so the coconut would be easy to remove.

6. Toast the coconut under the grill, shaking occasionally until it is golden. Do be careful as it burns easily. I then mixed some of my toasted coconut with some plain, so I ended up with three bowls of coconut in varying colours. One plain, one mixed and one toasted. However it is entirely up to you. The original bars are coated in toasted coconut.

7. Next, break your chocolate into pieces and melt in a bain marie.

8. Take your macaroon balls out of the fridge and set up a little production line. First dip your macaroons in melted chocolate, then roll them in coconut before placing them back on the baking tray. I advise using one hand to dip the balls in chocolate and the other to coat in coconut or you are likely to get into a right mess. Have some kitchen paper at the ready too and baby wipes are very handy at this point.

9. Once all your macaroons are coated, pop the trays back into the fridge to allow the balls to set.

Serves: I made 33 balls from my dough, but amounts will vary according to size.


Christmas Countdown - 32 days to go

Excitement is building in this household. Only 32 days until our baby's first Christmas. I still have shopping to do and I am constantly on the lookout for ideas. if you are too, then you may gleam some inspiration from this post.

I saw this gorgeous cake stand in a cupcake shop in St Andrews last weekend and instantly coveted it. Isn't it fab and it's a good price too at £9.50.

"Truly Scrumptious cake stand for cupcakes and sandwiches.

It's darling! Take tea with your girlfriends and indulge in a truly scrumptious array of fabulous florals, sherbet colours and vintage chic. Just perfect to pop your cucumber sandwiches and prettiest fairy cakes.

1 disposable, pretty, card cake stand with 3 pretty tiers. Just perfect for scrumptious cakes. Comes flat pack."

I just love monkeys and sock monkeys are always extra special. These cute little chaps come in at £11 each.

"A great gift for any age, who would not love one of these gorgeous creatures..

The monkeys measure approximately 45cm and come in a variety of colours, contact me if there is a particular colourway that you would like and I will do my best to comply...

The monkeys can be made with felt eyes rather than buttons for children under 3 years. Stuffing is of BS for toys"

I fell in love with these upcycled hats for children as soon as I saw them (they will make them for adults at an additional cost, hmmmm, tempting :) ). They are so cozy and so individual. A truly unique present. I loved them so much, I bought one for Cooper's Christmas. Don't tell him! *shhhh!* They are $25 USD, (which is approximately £16.13) but they do ship to the UK and there is still time to order.

"Custom upcycled owl HOOT HAT in Orange, Brown and Cream. Freckletree presents a line of hats that are so hip, so stinkin cute, so original . . . introducing hOOtHats, upcycled winter hats that are created from patching sweaters, blankets and scarves into toasty little owls that will warm your wee one all season long."

Next up, some cookbooks. We all love cookbooks and they are such great presents. Why not support one of our fabulous blogger friends and choose one of their books. You know they will be far superior to most other cookbooks.

First up we have A Slice of Cherry Pie from our good friend Julia over at A Slice of Cherry Pie. This sumptuous book is full of the finest rustic food and sprinkled with family snapshots. It is available from Amazon UK for £11.99 and Amazon US for $16.47.

The next book is a great choice if you are buying for the mum and dad of a small child. It is The Great Big Veg Challenge by Charlotte Hume over at The Great Big Vegetable Challenge. Charlotte started her blog to encourage her son Freddie, a vegetable-hater to eat his veg. Charlotte travelled through the alphabet of Vegetables and came up with a plethora of recipes with help from bloggers across the world. I can personally recommend this book as I have a much loved copy sitting on my bookcase. It is available from Amazon UK for £11.04 and Amazon US for $15.45.

My last choice is Sweet Freedom by Ricki over at Diet, Dessert & Dogs. If you have ever been over to Ricki's blog you will know her desserts are amazing. In her baking Ricki uses whole, natural, unprocessed ingredients that are free of wheat, eggs, dairy or refined sugars, but are still the most lush creations you will ever try. Sweet Freedom is available from Amazon US for $27.95.

My last pick today are the most beautiful coasters from Anthropologie. I now realise I am suggesting all the things I would like as gifts. Oh well! Hopefully you all have the same taste as me. The coasters come in at £16, but I think they are worth it. Just gorgeous!

Onion domes, ikat snippets and folkloric flora make you feel like you're sightseeing at your own coffee table.


Set of four
New bone china
Hand wash
9cm diameter

Well, that's it for today. Hope that was food for thought.
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