Tasty slow cooked kedgeree – #ShortcutEggsperts

One food stuff that you’ll always find in our fridge is eggs. Most of the time they get used for baking before I get round to using them for anything else, but they do come in handy for main meals too. Scrambled egg goes down well with the boys for lunch (or even breakfast when Granny cooks it at the weekend), and we have a few tea-time meals that rely on eggs: mini toad in the hole is one favourite, and kedgeree is another. That’s the recipe I’m sharing here as I join in with the #ShortcutEggsperts Linky Challenge.

Kedgeree 1 Collage

Kedgeree is a classic fish, rice and egg dish with a distinctive curry flavour that was originally eaten for breakfast in Victorian times. I can’t say that I would love it for breakfast, but it does make a tasty family tea in our house. There’s just something very satisfying about all those flavours combined. Another thing I love about this dish is the fact that almost all the ingredients are either store cupboard/fridge staples (rice, eggs, curry paste, onions) or you can chuck in whatever you have in (vegetables – we like some combo of peas, spinach or mushrooms). The fish is probably the exception; I tend to look out for it on the supermarket reduced shelf.

I’ve seen recipes for kedgeree that poach the fish (usually smoked, such as smoked haddock) in milk, but to be honest I like faff-free cooking, with minimal steps and number of dirty pots to wash at the end. So instead I choose smoked oily fish like mackerel, which comes ready to eat and so can be chucked in as it is to the one-pot dish. I’ve experimented with various versions of my take on kedgeree – I prefer the result when I use curry paste rather than curry powder, and slow cooked beats the hob version if I need to prepare it earlier in the day.

This has got to be one of my best yet. And the verdict from my testers? Daddy came back for seconds; Joel came back for seconds and polished of Andrew’s; Mr Fusspot (aka Andrew) had this to say….

“It’s an avocado egg!….It’s got a hole in it!”

I presume this was a reference to the boiled egg – the solid yolk had escaped from the white in the bits on his plate. And to be fair, he’s probably seen more avocados than boiled eggs recently, as we tend to scramble more often than not. He then proceeded to pick about his plate and find every distraction going to deter him from eating.

Kedgeree 2 Collage

Anyway, don’t let a 3 year old in a fussy phase put you off. On with the recipe…

Ingredients

  • 250g basmati rice
  • 1 onion
  • 150g button mushrooms
  • 150g smoked mackerel
  • 2 heaped tablespoons curry paste
  • 2 tsp tumeric
  • 750ml hot stock
  • 4 eggs
  • 150g frozen peas
  • 1 heaped tbsp soured cream

Method

  1. Chop the onion finely and quarter the mushrooms. (Optional: fry them in a small amount of olive oil for a few minutes to brown them – as I said above, I prefer minimal steps, and we’re happy with slightly crunchier onions and firmer mushrooms than if I fried them first.)
  2. Add the onion, mushrooms, rice, peas and turmeric to the slow cooker pot.
  3. Mix the curry paste with the stock, cover the contents of the pot, and stir.
  4. Cook on low for 2-3 hours (note: I cook rice dishes for 3 hours in my slow cooker, but we’re currently living with my parents and it only took 2 hours in theirs – lesson learned, there really can be quite a lot of variation in slow cooker efficiencies!)
  5. At any point during the cooking time, hard boil the eggs; then cool them, peel the shells off, and quarter each one.
  6. When the rice is al dente, flake the fish into the pot, and cook for a further half an hour.
  7. Just before you serve, add the soured cream and eggs, stirring gently (too vigorously will make the eggs disintegrate).
  8. Enjoy!
Or, if you don’t think enough in advance to slow cook, this can be done just as well on the hob in about 20 minutes – just fry the onion and mushrooms for a bit, chuck in the rice for a minute or two, then add the curry paste, stock and peas, bring to the boil and simmer until the rice is cooked, adding the fish and eggs near the end. Simple! I just like to prepare food ahead of the crazy half hour before we eat when the boys are testing, and slow cooking is a great way to avoid some of the chaos.

This post is an entry for the #ShortcutEggsperts Linky Challenge sponsored by British Lion Eggs. Learn more and find recipes at www.eggrecipes.co.uk.

 

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I DO like… – wot so funee?

As usual, this is the week’s round up of comedy moments brought about by toddler language. I love writing these posts, they always make me laugh remembering the moments that I noted down in the week…

Although Andrew is generally a good eater and will try most things, he has recently decided that certain vegetables are no-go. He can usually be persuaded to have a mouthful, which is all we ask if he really insists he doesn’t like it, if we say that he can’t have pudding if he doesn’t at least try it (and by pudding we mean fruit and yoghurt, which he loves). This week saw a new tactic in him trying to get out of veg consumption: when asked if he could eat some cauliflower (we he had actually chosen in the shop as we’d run out of veg in the box), his reply was “I can’t eat my cauliflower, it’s too dangerous!” Gotta watch those crazy cauliflowers, they might jump up from the plate and whack you round the head or something!

Every now and then he likes to pinch a bit of Daddy’s toast in the morning. Having asked for it one day, he left it on the table and got down. When I asked him a few minutes later if he wanted it because he’d asked for it, he replied: “No thank you, I don’t NEED toast right now”. OK then, we didn’t force you to have it in the first place!

I do love a good bit of toddler logic. As he’s grown out his 2-3 years clothes, he’s now got a 3-4 years wardrobe (or at least plenty of tops, trousers he gets by but could do with a few more). However, some of the trousers are a little long for him still, so we usually roll them up a bit to stop them dragging on the floor. I have been known to forget this, or at least not do it the immediate second that he’s got them on – he wants most things done yesterday. His reaction has been to shout: “Roll my sleeves up, roll my sleeves up!” (sometimes with a please attached on the end). When I’ve investigated further, knowing that his sleeves are fine, it’s become clear that he means his “trouser sleeves, Mummy”. Ah of course, trouser sleeves, it makes sense.

We’ve been doing a lot of packing recently for the big move. Mostly when the boys are out with one of us or asleep, but Daddy was sorting his CDs out at the weekend, which is a big job so it ran over after Andrew’s nap. He came out of his room, just opposite the CD rack, and picked up a CD – the March of the Penguin soundtrack. He studied it for a moment, and then asked: “Is this Pingu?” Not sure that Pingu is an Emperor Penguin like on the cover, but not far off I guess.

And finally, his latest favourite little phrase is: “I DO like [X]!” There’s a real emphasis on the DO, usually said i an excited manner because I’ve said that we’re going to do something involving the thing he likes, for example, eat pasta, go to the park, listen to a CD, ride in the car etc. One example that was really cute this week was when I told him we were going to church for one of our regular midweek groups there: “I do like church, it’s where all my friends are!” I’m glad that he enjoys going, as we do spend quite a bit of time there each week. And it’s lovely to hear that he thinks of other children as friends, as that’s not something he’s mentioned very much.

Wot So Funee?

Tasty veg pie with puff crust – #GBBO inspired

This week the Great British Bake Off was all about pastry. It’s not something I bake all the time, but I’m less afraid of it than I once was (after I’d had a bit of a disastrous apple pie with sweet pastry that just went everywhere!), so I like the opportunity to practice and prove to myself that I can in fact do it!

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One of the challenges on the GBBO this week involved puff pastry. Now proper puff pastry takes a long time to make – as Paul Hollywood himself emphasised, it needs a lot of time to get it right. But there is a quick, cheat’s method that gives puffy pastry (even if not as superior a puff as the real McCoy) in much more manageable time frames. So this is what I decided to do for dinner on Sunday night. For once I didn’t choose a sweet bake (I know, shocking), because we had some lovely veg that I thought would work well in a nice hearty pie, and when I mentioned to Tom that I was thinking of making a ‘hearty pie’, he said ‘Oh yes, I like anything hearty, do something hearty, yes please’. Still veggie, of course, so maybe not hearty as some avid carnivores might think of the word, but nonetheless tasty and perfect for an Autumn evening.

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Here’s the recipe, including how to make the rough puff pastry, which I roughly followed from Delia, just played around with quantities and added pepper.

Ingredients

Pastry

  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 450g plain flour
  • black pepper
  • cold water

Filling

  • half a suede
  • about a quarter of a white cabbage
  • 1 onion
  • 4 button mushrooms
  • 1 tin kidney beans
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 400ml hot stock
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • few drops of tabasco
  • olive oil

Method

  1. Put the flour into a large bowl and grind quite a bit of black pepper into it (depending on your taste).
  2. Cut the butter into chunks and toss into the flour and pepper mix, just coating them with the flour.
  3. Pour the cold water, a little at a time, into the flour and butter and use your hands to bring it together into a dough. Don’t work it too much, just enough to bring it together.
  4. Shape it into a brick on a floured board, then roll it out into a rectangle that is almost twice as long as it is wide.
  5. Then fold it into thirds, bringing the left outside edge into the centre and then the same with the right, so that they overlap, and press down with the rolling pin so that the layers stick.
  6. Rest it for a few minutes, probably a good time to chop the veg, then roll the pastry (which should be back in a brick shape) into a rectangle again, followed by the folding into thirds like you did before.
  7. Leave it to rest again, and then do the same rolling and folding as before. After this third roll and fold, place in cling film in the fridge until you’re ready to use it for the pie lid later.
  8. To make the filling, chop the veg into chunks (as fine or as chunky as you like, though cooking times will vary according to size of chunk), and heat some olive oil in a large saucepan.
  9. Brown the onion, suede, cabbage and mushrooms in the saucepan for about 5-10 minutes, then add the chopped tomatoes, kidney beans, hot stock and cornflour.
  10. Bring to a simmer and cook for about another 10 minutes until thickened.
  11. Add some tabasco to taste.
  12. Leave in the pan until you’re ready to assemble the pie.
  13. About 40 mins before you want to eat, transfer the filling to a large rectangular oven dish and spread around evenly.
  14. Take the pastry out of the fridge and roll out to just the right size to cover the filling, and press it down onto the filling gently.
  15. Prick the pastry lid with a fork several times to allow any steam to escape when baking.
  16. Bake in a hot oven 220 C (fan) for 30-40 minutes until the pastry is nicely browned and puffy.
  17. Serve immediately.

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Slow cooked stuffed marrows

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.

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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 marrow
  • 1 tin butter beans, drained
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 4 mushrooms
  • 1 beef tomato
  • fresh herbs
  • 100g grated mature cheddar

Method

  1. 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).
  2. Half the pieces down the centre lengthways, and cut out the seeded bit in the middle.
  3. Chop the onion, mushroom and tomato into small cubes, and chop the garlic cloves finely.
  4. Roughly mash the butter beans in a large bowl, then add the chopped up other veg and stir until well combined.
  5. Fill the centre of the marrows with this filling and place in the slow cooker pot.
  6. Cook on low for 8 hours, then serve with the cheddar sprinkled on top and some fresh crusty bread on the side: delicious!

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Schwartz for dinner tonight (review) #schwartz2in1

If you didn’t know already by reading this blog, I love cooking and baking, and then writing up here the new things that I’ve tried. Most of the time I just make make it up as I go along, rarely following recipes, and instead taking inspiration from dishes I’ve tasted or smelled or just heard of. There are some evenings though, when we’re all tired and hungry, that I lack inspiration or the ability to remember previous inspirational moments.

So when I saw that BritMums were offering some Schwartz 2-in-1 sachets to review as part of the “Tell us what’s for dinner tonight” challenge (I’m entering this post with a chance to win a prize) I thought I’d give them a go. As BritMums write: sometimes you need a little inspiration to make your meals even better. And that’s just what these Schwartz sachets are here to help with.

The details

Schwartz describe their new 2-in-1 range as “easy to use recipe mix sachets in one handy pack: one sachet flavours the main dish whilst the other contains ? seasoning for a complementary side dish or topping. With 5 different varieties to choose from, and an easy recipe on the back of each pack, it’s a great way to try out new dishes or transform an existing family favourite.” You can see all the different flavours here, and I was sent two of these sachets to try:

  • Mediterranean Chicken Pasta and Cheesy Crumb Topping: A blend of herbs and spices for chicken pasta with a cheesy topping
  • Garlic & Thyme Roast Chicken and Crispy Roast Potatoes: Roast chicken seasoning, with garlic and thyme, accompanied by a special seasoning to create perfect Crispy Roast Potatoes

For us, the sachet for the pasta bake is an example of a way to transform an existing family favourite, as we quite often cook a tomato-based pasta bake with veg and tuna in and cheese on the top as a quick and easy midweek meal. The recipe on the sachet suggests that you make it with chicken and peppers, but as we don’t cook meat very often, I decided to adapt it to what we had in the cupboard and veg box that week. So we had tuna, carrots and courgette instead (the “hint and tips” section on the sachet suggests that you could replace the chicken and peppers with tuna and sweetcorn, and gives you instructions for when to add these at different stages fro, the original recipe). I’m planning on using the roast chicken and potatoes mix to bake some white fish with potatoes one day, but I’m still looking out for when the fish is on the reduced shelf when we go shopping so I can grab us a bargain meal.

Schwartz 2 Collage
Before grilling…………..after grilling, yummy bubbling cheese

How easy was it?

The evening that I cooked the pasta bake was a classic for our family. We usually eat together around 6.30pm, but I’m never too sure how much I’ll be required for feeding Joel around that time. These days it’s not that much, but I can be called away at quite short notice. This is why I’m into slow cooking, it’s ready for 6.30pm having done all the prep earlier. But I digress. I started off chopping the veg, weighing out the pasta and grating the cheese, whilst Daddy and the boys were otherwise entertaining themselves. But then a tired Joel got very grizzly, so Daddy and I swapped and he carried on doing the cooking. We make a good team, and often end up cooking half a meal each. This usually involves me shouting instructions at him from the sofa, but with the recipe on the Schwartz 2-in-1 sachet, he was pleased that he could follow it himself with a couple of verbal notes from me about how I was adapting it. I too found the instructions easy to follow and adapt.

Schwartz 1 Collage
Prepping – nothing complicated

I liked the fact that the ingredients were all things that we had in the cupboard or fridge, and we could just decide at short notice that this is what we’d have for dinner, open tins and cartons, do some chopping and grating, fling it all together and that was it. No tricky steps or fancy equipment required. The larger part of the sachet contained a mix of herbs to add to the tomatoes to form a sauce, which then got mixed with the pasta, tuna and veg, and the smaller part of the sachet contained a crispy herby topping to mix with grated cheese and sprinkle them on top.

The taste test

Whilst it was cooking, both the sauce in the pan and the completed bake under the grill smelled delicious, so we were waiting with watering mouths for what was to come on our plates. We were not disappointed, the flavour did live up to the deliciousness that the smell had promised. The boys absolutely loved it – pasta is their favourite for dinner, so to get approval from them means it met their high standards. Andrew decided to call it ‘special pasta’, I’m not quite sure why, maybe he could tell that it was better than the usual pasta bakes that I whip up without the sachet! Joel expressed his opinion by making loud lip snacking noises as he shovelled fistfuls into his mouth. Us adults were also pleased with a meal that was high in taste factor but low in effort factor – the sachet really did transform what could have otherwise been a fairly ordinary pasta bake.

Schwartz 3 Collage
A very happy baby with his dinner

Any problems?

Just one problem that we found was the salt content: my little boys have good appetites, so the portion they ate of the pasta bake contains all the salt in their guideline daily amount as an under 1 and an under 3. I suspect a fair amount of this also comes from the cheese as well as the flavouring. They don’t have much other salt in the day as I don’t add it to anything (including the bread we make in the bread maker), so I don’t mind them eating something like this occasionally, but I wouldn’t want them to eat it every day unless the salt content was reduced. I find this a general problem with sachet or jar sauces, so we don’t often eat them, but they are handy to have in for the odd day here and there.

Our verdict

Overall we were very impressed by the sachet. It was easy to cook and had a yummy result. I would buy it again to have in the cupboard, though as I said it would only be for occasional use with two little ones due to the salt content. It made an ordinary meal ‘special’ for us.

This post is an entry for BritMums ‘What’s for Dinner Tonight?’ sponsored by Schwartz. Find out more about the new 2in1 mixes here

Disclaimer: I was sent the sachets free of charge for the purpose of this review, but all opinions expressed are honest and my own, based on our experience of cooking with one of them.

 

 

#slowcooked turkey and leeks with crunchy crust

Wow a meaty recipe, can you believe your eyes?! It is true that I don’t cook or eat a lot of meat (and when I do it’s only chicken or turkey), but as Joel is starting solids, I want to give him the opportunity to taste meat along with all the other foods he is trying as part of a very varied introduction to food. So I bought some turkey last weekend and cooked a dish in the slow cooker that was suitable for him to eat with us – most of what we eat is baby-friendly anyway.

turkey leek Collage
Mummy/Daddy-sized, toddler-sized, and baby-sized portions

The turkey went lovely and tender as it was slow cooked, so this was perfect for him who has no teeth quite yet. The vegetables were some of those that we got in our box that week. The ‘crunchy crust’ is a basic suet pastry that I baked separately in the oven as pastry doesn’t work in the slow cooker – it’s not hot enough to get it crunchy rather than soggy. I assembled the turkey and leeks with the crust on our individual dishes when serving the meal. Joel enjoyed munching on some turkey, mushroom and pastry (which went soggy after he gummed it for a while), though he wasn’t sure about the leeks – they are a bit weird to it without teeth I think.

Here’s the recipe, which was a bit more time-consuming than some of my ‘chuck it in the slow cooker’ recipes, but still only took about 20 minutes to prep then 7 hours to cook in the slow cooker plus a quick shove of a baking tray into the oven half an hour before it was ready.

Ingredients – serves 4

  • 250g turkey
  • Olive oil
  • 3 small leeks
  • 3 large mushrooms
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 400ml hot stock (I use low salt)
  • 120g self-raising flour
  • 60g vegetable suet
  • mixed herbs
  • cold water
Method
  1. Fry turkey for a few minutes in olive oil to seal it.
  2. Chop the leeks and mushrooms and put in the slow cooker pot.
  3. Crush the garlic cloves and add to the pot.
  4. Add the tomatoes and stock.
  5. When the turkey is sealed put it into the pot and stir.
  6. Cook on low for 7 hours.
  7. Mix the flour, suet and herbs together, and add just enough water to form a dough.
  8. Roll it out on a lightly floured surface and cut out four large squares.
  9. Place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and chill until about half an hour before the turkey mix is cooked, then put it in the oven at 180ºC and bake for 20-30 minutes until it is crisp and lightly golden.
  10. Assemble the pies individually in bowls by spooning the turkey mix in and placing the pastry on top.
  11. Eat straight away!

Photo of the week – starting solids

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Team Lloyd

I’ve been meaning to join in with Photo of the Week over at Team Lloyd’s blog for a while now. Louise always takes such great photos and all those who join in with the linky showcase take amazing pictures too, so I wasn’t sure my snaps would fit, but Louise assured me that they would be welcome!

So here we are at the second week of Joel enjoying big boys’ food. After a few months of staring amazed at Andrew (and us, though we are less hilarious) eating, he’s finally taken the plunge himself and started devouring (and covering the floor with) the food that we put in front of him. This photo is one of several that I have showing funny moments with food. I was eating an orange cut into quarters and his arm gestures clearly showed that he wanted to have some, so I gave him a quarter. But he got frustrated that however he picked it up, it either slipped out of his hand or was the wrong way to get any flesh rather than a tongue full of peel! So I held it in my hand and he grabbed my fingers, pulled it towards him and started sucking at the flesh like this – clever chap really.

I’ve also been meaning to write about what he’s been eating, as I’ve kept a note of what we’ve given him, so this post is kind of killing two birds with one stone (except no birds were actually killed, it’s all been veggie cooking). Feel free to stop reading here if you’re just interested in the picture, I won’t be offended! I guess you could say we’re ‘doing baby-led weaning’, but I like to think of it as he’s just joining in with the kinds of things we like to eat as a family. So far it’s been quite simple things, but as he seems to give most things a go and enjoys them, we’re giving more and more things a go. He’ll probably be wolfing down his pasta and sauce just like Andrew in no time!

I also don’t like to call it ‘weaning’ as such, because that suggests the end of feeding on milk. As his older brother is still not ‘weaned’ in the sense that most people take it to mean, though most of his daily calorific intake comes from solid food and the milk is just a comfort thing before bed, I’m happy for Joel to carry on breastfeeding as long as he wants to as well, which may be soon or not for a while, who knows (except him). For this reason I tend to call the process he is currently undertaking ‘starting solids’.

So to finish this post that started with a photo of Joel eating an orange, I’ll leave you with a list of what he’s been enjoying so far, and that ends with an orange 🙂

Week 1 (28th April – 4th May)

  • Sweet potato
  • Suede
  • Butternut squash
  • Parsnip
  • Carrot
  • Broccoli
  • Melon
  • Banana
  • Porridge – oats and warm milk

Week 2 (5th – 11th May)

  • All of the above plus….
  • White bread – homemade in bread maker with no salt
  • Natural yoghurt
  • Mature cheddar chunks
  • Plain pasta shapes
  • Mashed potato
  • Orange

Red veggie crumble #slowcookersunday

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.

Veg crumble 2

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).

Veg crumble 1

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….

Ingredients

  • 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
  • 100g margarine
  • dried mixed herbs

Method

  1. Wash the lentils thoroughly and leave in water whilst you prep everything else.
  2. Chop the beetroots, carrots and peppers into small chunks.
  3. Make the crumble topping by rubbing the margarine with the flour and a good sprinkling of herbs until you get a bread crumb texture.
  4. Drain the lentils and add them with the veg and stock to the slow cooker pot.
  5. Mix the cornflour with a small amount of water to form a paste, then add to the pot and stir all the ingredients together.
  6. Cook on low for 4 hours.
  7. Then add the crumble topping and cook for a further 4 hours.
  8. Serve as it is – it’s a one pot meal!

Slow cooked colourful veggie risotto with pea pesto

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.IMG_0678

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!

Ingredients

  • 2 carrots
  • 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

Method

  1. Chop the carrots into chunks.
  2. Put the carrots, kidney beans, rice and cornflour into the slow cooker pot.
  3. Add the stock and stir.
  4. Cook on low for 3 hours.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. When the slow cooker is finished, stir the pesto through the risotto until evenly distributed.
  8. Serve immediately; any leftovers can be frozen for a quick tasty meal another time.

Slow cooked beany chilli with chocolate

beany chilli 2A 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.beany chilli

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 onion
  • 1 tin kidney beans
  • 1 tin borlotti beans
  • 1 tin sweetcorn
  • 1 carton chopped tomatoes (approx. 400g)
  • 1 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 50g chocolate
  • 250ml hot stock (I use low salt)

Method

  1. Chop the onion into small pieces, and chop the chocolate into small chunks.
  2. Drain all the tins of vegetables.
  3. Put all the ingredients into the slow cooker and cook for 6 hours.
  4. Put some rice on to boil 10 minutes before it’s ready.
  5. Serve the chilli and rice together, with a dollop of soured cream if you like the spice toned down a bit.