It’s been a long time since I blogged a recipe, and a slow cooked one at that. It’s not that we haven’t been eating slow cooked meals, in fact it’s been a good thing to have on during the day in the warmer weather so I don’t have to slave over a hot stove (so to speak) in the evening, but I’ve just been sticking to our favourites rather than thinking of new things. I’ve also had plenty of nappy stuff and editing work to be getting on with, so something has to give.
A work colleague of Tom’s offered him some marrows this week, and, after consulting me, he accepted them. I remember having marrows stuffed with minced meat and vegetables in France when I lived there for a few months, so I thought that this would be a good thing to try in the slow cooker. I wanted to make it veggie (rather than using minced turkey – I wouldn’t use minced beef anyway), so opted for a butter bean filling with other veg and herbs to add flavour.
It turned out very well. Tom and Joel wolfed it down, Andrew was less keen, but we know he’s not a big fan of courgettes so was not impressed by the size of courgette that I put on his plate! He ate the filling at least. We have another marrow, and I think I’ll make some soup with that. Here’s the recipe for stuffing, if you fancy having a go…
Ingredients – serves 2 adults and 2 toddlers
1 tin butter beans, drained
2 cloves garlic
1 beef tomato
100g grated mature cheddar
Cut the marrow into lengths that will fit into your slow cooker (ours has a divider in the middle so I cut it into shorter bits than I would need to for a non-divided slow cooker).
Half the pieces down the centre lengthways, and cut out the seeded bit in the middle.
Chop the onion, mushroom and tomato into small cubes, and chop the garlic cloves finely.
Roughly mash the butter beans in a large bowl, then add the chopped up other veg and stir until well combined.
Fill the centre of the marrows with this filling and place in the slow cooker pot.
Cook on low for 8 hours, then serve with the cheddar sprinkled on top and some fresh crusty bread on the side: delicious!
This week in the veg box we got some beetroots. Last time we had beetroots in the box, I made a chocolate beetroot cake (it was so much yummier than it sounds!) But this time, as much as I was tempted to make another amazing cake, I decided we really needed a good all in one pot meal from them, that I could prep quickly in the morning and it would be ready for dinner. So of course in came the slow cooker.
I love crumbles, and think they work just as well as a savoury dish as with fruit in a sweet dish (here’s a previous recipe that I blogged). They are real comfort food, and if you slow cook it, you don’t have the hassle of having to cook it about an hour before you eat in the evening when the kids are tired and hungry and therefore you get some stress mixed in with your comfort. Andrew was also very interested to watch me chop the veg and make the crumble, so I let him ‘help’ rub the crumble together (it was already done really, but he dipped his hands in and copied me for about 10 seconds).
I was originally thinking of this recipe as a ‘traffic lights’ one – toddler-friendly you see – as it has beetroots, carrots and green pepper in. But once it was cooked, the beetroot colour basically took over the dish and made it look completely red. This was a hit with Andrew, who loves bright colours, though perhaps not so much actually eating beetroot! He didn’t put up much of a fight though, and was easily persuaded to put the exciting looking red bits in his mouth once the offer of some of his favourite fruits was mentioned for pudding, if he ate all his main course. The red colour also makes this savoury crumble look like a more common fruit crumble that has berries in.
As always with my slow cooker recipes, it was so simple to make….
4 medium beetroots
2 medium carrots
1 small green pepper
100g dried red lentils
900 ml hot stock (I use low salt)
2 tbsp cornflour
270g plain flour
dried mixed herbs
Wash the lentils thoroughly and leave in water whilst you prep everything else.
Chop the beetroots, carrots and peppers into small chunks.
Make the crumble topping by rubbing the margarine with the flour and a good sprinkling of herbs until you get a bread crumb texture.
Drain the lentils and add them with the veg and stock to the slow cooker pot.
Mix the cornflour with a small amount of water to form a paste, then add to the pot and stir all the ingredients together.
Cook on low for 4 hours.
Then add the crumble topping and cook for a further 4 hours.
I actually cooked this a couple of weeks ago now, but it was just before we went away for 10 days and I was too busy finishing my posts on cloth nappies for Real Nappy Week (and getting ready to get the four of us off on holiday – that’s no easy feat!) so I didn’t get round to blogging this rather delicious meal until now. Risottos are a great way to use up things in the fridge that have seen better days and/or a great way to chuck in things from the store cupboard if you’re running low on fresh ingredients. These are the reasons why I cobbled this together just before going away, and the result was a yummy family meal.
Needless to say, Andrew loved it, as always. Joel is still not eating much, just a nibble here and there, but when he’s having a go at more variety of flavours and textures, this would be a great meal for him too. I’d say it works for a baby doing baby-led weaning because you can just choose which veg they like or which veg you want them to try, and decide what size of chunks they are confident with when adding ingredients, starting with bigger pieces (maybe not kidney beans like in this recipe straight away). The pea pesto adds a lovely flavour, a sweetness that makes it appealing to kids I think, and a lovely bright colour, which is also appealing, maybe even more so to kids than adults!
And of course using the slow cooker meant I could prep earlier in the day (it took about 10 minutes) and the risotto was ready for dinner at 6.30pm. Easy PEAsy…. have a go yourself if you like!
1 tin kidney beans
200g long grain rice
2 tbsp cornflour
800ml hot stock (I use low salt)
100g frozen peas
50g Parmesan cheese
Glug of olive oil
Chop the carrots into chunks.
Put the carrots, kidney beans, rice and cornflour into the slow cooker pot.
Add the stock and stir.
Cook on low for 3 hours.
After you’ve put the slow cooker on, make the pesto. Start by cooking the peas for 2 minutes in the microwave or in a pan of boiling water.
Put the cooked peas, cheese and a glug of olive oil in a blender and whizz until a smooth paste – add a bit more oil if it’s too thick until you have the right consistency to stir through the risotto.
When the slow cooker is finished, stir the pesto through the risotto until evenly distributed.
Serve immediately; any leftovers can be frozen for a quick tasty meal another time.
A couple of weeks ago I saw a recipe for chilli with chocolate by Chrissie aka Slow Cooker Queen as part of the Slow Cooker Sunday linky. I’ve been meaning to make a chilli with chocolate for a while. We have chilli quite often, and there’s always chocolate in the fridge, so I don’t know why I haven’t done it before now – maybe because on the surface it seems like an odd combination so I don’t automatically think about reaching for a bar of chocolate when making chilli. As we currently have even more chocolate to get through than before Easter, I thought this would be a good time to use some in cooking as well as eating on its own.
This recipe is quite different from Chrissie’s, mainly because I made it veggie, and used my usual ingredients for a veggie chilli. I don’t eat any red meat, I just don’t like it; I will eat chicken and turkey if cooked for me, but in the last year or so I haven’t cooked any meat myself. We eat fish or pulses instead.
Despite the perhaps odd combination, it actually works really well. The chocolate flavour is subtle but there, and adds something to my usual simple chilli recipe. It’s a great way to get toddlers to eat vegetables too. I’d definitely recommend giving it a go…..
Ingredients – serves 6 (3 of us ate it and half went in our freezer for another day)
1 tin kidney beans
1 tin borlotti beans
1 tin sweetcorn
1 carton chopped tomatoes (approx. 400g)
1 tsp hot chilli powder
250ml hot stock (I use low salt)
Chop the onion into small pieces, and chop the chocolate into small chunks.
Drain all the tins of vegetables.
Put all the ingredients into the slow cooker and cook for 6 hours.
Put some rice on to boil 10 minutes before it’s ready.
Serve the chilli and rice together, with a dollop of soured cream if you like the spice toned down a bit.
Recently I’ve been trying to get back into the swing of slow cooking. It’s very handy when you have two small children because you can do the prep whenever you get 10 mins or so earlier in the day – usually around 9am or lunchtime for me – and then you just leave it to cook during the day or afternoon and it’s ready for dinner, so there’s no need to be slaving over a hot stove at that often fractious time of day when everyone’s tired.
Last week I chucked some veg that we had in our veg box into the slow cooker pot, along with some dried lentils and stock, and made some cheesy dumplings, to create a yummy and satisfying meal for us all (including my mum-in-law who is wheat-intolerant – I used wheat-free flour, though not wheat-free stock as she is fine with small amounts of wheat, it’s not a full blown allergy, rather an intolerance).
I was going to blog it, but then realised that in our haste to eat the steaming pot of yumminess, I’d forgotten to take any photos, so I thought I’d have to scrap the post. But then I thought that this would be a real shame because it really was yummy (even Andrew agreed, and toddlers give genuine compliments 😉 ). So when we got similar veg in our box this week, I thought I’d take a photo of the ingredients instead, as well as one of the tupperware of leftovers, which, although it doesn’t do justice visually to the meal we enjoyed, will do justice to one of our tummies one day when we need a quick meal from the freezer.
This week I’ve tried the recipe for macaroni cheese from Aly over at 2.4, mainly because we seemed to have quite a lot of milk with not a very long date on it. I adapted the recipe by using fusilli instead of macaroni, and broccoli instead of spinach, because those were what we had in. I’m hoping to blog more slow cooked recipes over the coming months. I’m linking this one up to Mediocre Mum’s Slow Cooker Sunday linky.
Anyway, enough of an intro……on with the recipe!
Ingredients – makes 6 portions
150g dried red lentils
1.5 litres hot vegetable stock (I use low salt for the boys)
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
2 tbsp cornflour
150g wheat-free self-raising flour
75 g vegetable suet
100g mature cheddar cheese
Dried mixed herbs
Chop all the veg into round chunks about 1cm thick and quarter the mushrooms; put them all in the slow cooker pot.
Wash the lentils thoroughly and add to the slow cooker pot.
Add the stock, mustard and cornflour (mixed to a paste with a little cold water); stir everything together.
Cook on low for 6 hours.
To make the dumplings, chop the cheese into small chunks, then mix the flour, suet, cheese and a good sprinkling of the herbs in a bowl; then add some cold water a little at a time and stir until the mixture forms a stiff dough, using your hands for the last bit; shape the dough into 18 small balls.
After the 6 hours of cooking on low, remove the lid and place the dough balls on top of the broth where they will just float.
Cook for a further hour on high.
To serve, ladle some broth and a few dumplings into each bowl and eat straight away.
Crumbles are one of my favourite puddings, especially on a cold day to warm and fill me up, there’s nothing like it. A while ago I came across a vegetable crumble in a magazine, and I was intrigued to know what it was. Was it one of these sweet puddings that you put vegetables in, like carrot or courgette cake that are all the rage these days? No, it was a savoury crumble, with vegetables in sauce as the base, and breadcrumbs and oats for the topping. I thought it looked appetising, but couldn’t help thinking that it wasn’t actually what I’d call a crumble – it didn’t have the classic ‘crumble’ topping that makes a crumble a crumble (wow, lots of mentions of crumble there – can you tell I love them?!) So I thought, I know, I’ll do my own, and do a similar base to the magazine’s suggestion, but use a classic crumble topping of butter and flour (but no sugar) rubbed together to make a breadcrumb like texture before baking.
That was a while ago, and since then I’ve done various fillings with whatever we happen to have in the fridge and cupboards. Just recently I came up with what I think is my best yet, so I thought I’d share it with you on the blog. It’s also a very toddler-friendly food, as the crumble tends to get mixed up with the veggies when served, so it’s a good way to encourage vegetable eating with a tasty starchy topping that will go down easily. Not that we have problems with vegetable eating (yet! I’m not taking it for granted, I know fussy stages happen), but it’s still a good idea to have up my sleeve in case. The lentils give the base a lovely thick texture, and provide protein in a veggie dish (something I’m very aware of as I eat very little meat and no red meat). So here’s the recipe. This would feed about 4 adults, or two adults and a toddler for dinner and then a yummy leftover lunch the next day.
300g plain flour
cumin seeds (or any other herb/spice that you’d like to use)
75g mature cheddar, grated
120g dried red lentils
1 parsnip, cubed
half a large butternut squash, cubed
1 courgette, cubed
500ml reduced salt vegetable stock
3 tbsp olive oil
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Fry the cubed parsnip and squash for about 5 minutes until starting to brown. Add the courgette and continue to fry for a few minutes.
Rinse the lentils and add to the pan.
Add the stock, bring to the boil, and simmer for a few minutes. Take off the heat.
If you feel confident enough, make the crumble topping whilst keeping an eye on the vegetables frying. If not, wait until you’ve completed stage 3 (I tend to flit between one thing and another quite easily, but Tom is of the finish each stage one at a time before starting the next school of cooking). Rub the margarine and flour together until you get a texture that resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in some cumin seeds (or other herbs/spices) to taste.
Pour the veggie filling into a large ovenproof dish. Spread the crumble topping over the top.
Bake in the oven at 180ºC for about 30 minutes until golden. About 10 minutes before the end, sprinkle the grated cheese over the top and leave to melt and brown off in the oven.
Serve as an all in one dish – vitamins, fibre (vegetables), protein (lentils, cheese) and carbohydrate (crumble topping) all together!
Here’s a quick Saturday night tea that I made last weekend. Partly inspired by pizza, which I can’t currently eat due to my bread fast for Lent, and partly inspired by my love of pesto, which is pretty high in salt when you buy it from the shops, but if you make it yourself you can reduce or leave out the cheese which usually makes it so salty. Using rocket for the pesto gives it a really strong flavour so the salt is less necessary for flavouring purposes. If you haven’t guessed from the picture already, I called it ‘Traffic lights’ because it has red, yellow and green things on it!
1 sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry (you can make it yourself if you have time, but I’ve had bad experiences with pastry before so I only make it when I know I’m not in a hurry – which is hardly ever these days. A decent food processor would help me too)
1 bag of fresh rocket
1 tin of pinto beans
half a tin of sweetcorn
1 large tomato (I wanted to use sundried tomatoes, but when I opened the pot that had been in the fridge, I discovered it had gone mouldy! It hadn’t even been opened long. I’m considering taking it back if I have time.)
Roll out the pastry onto a lined baking sheet. Prick it with a fork several times all over the rectangle of pastry, leaving a border of about 2cm around all the edges.
To make the pesto, whizz up the rocket with a decent glug of olive oil in a blender until you get a smooth paste.
Spread the pesto over the pastry, leaving that 2cm border.
Spread a mixture of sweetcorn and pinto beans all over the pesto until it is almost covered with a few green patches poking through.
Cut the tomato into slices and add to the topping.
Finish the topping by pouring a splash of olive oil over the top to keep it moist and brown the beans.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200°c for about 20-25 minutes, until the border is puffed and golden.