We are LOVING kale at the moment as you may have gathered from recent recipes! It is a standard component of mine and hubby’s lunch stir fry when our LO is at nursery (i.e. not eating what we are). I will confidently state that my Little Miss K will not touch Kale with a barge pole. So much so, that it is not even worth the fight. In all honesty, if I were a kid her age, I would run a mile also; it is bitter, rough with fibre and very ‘salary’, which translates into ‘not fun’.
As an adult however, we have developed more of an appreciation for flavours, textures and health benefits. Kale is one of those, which sits at the top of the list.
Not to say this is a recipe for kids as it is great for us bog kids also but for me, we have hit the dreaded summer holiday period and my beloved daughter is around for every meal!
So, to Kale or not to Kale?!? That is the question! Or is it? Should it not be, how can we keep this awesome bit of green-ness in our diet throughout the summer?
I’m all for blending it up! Well, I am sure there are many many ideas out there to make leafy veggies like Kale, kid-friendly but here is just one I randomly tried and which worked (to my greatest surprise) and here are my top 3 reasons why:
- Steam Steam Steam = Significantly reduced natural bitterness of the kale
- Gotta love food processors = Mix it up by blending flavours so no taste is too overpowering
- Homemade sauce = parental sugar control and lets be honest, the moment you mention the word ‘sauce’ to a kid, there is an association with ketchup and hence immediate excitement!
- ½ pack tofu 250g
- 1 bunch kale
- 4-5 sundried tomato, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 heaped tspn ginger, chopped fine
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 sheets FILO pastry
- 3 large tomatoes
- 1 red bell pepper (small)
- 1 orange bell pepper (small)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1-2 tsp sugar
- Salt to taste
- 1 tbsp cornflour mixed in half cup water
- Lightly press the tofu to remove the excess water. This can be done with a tofu press or wrapping the tofu several times in kitchen roll and placing on a wooden chopping board with a weight on top (eg a plate with some tinned cans on top). Leave like this for 10-15 minutes allowing the water to drain out
- Destalk, wash and steam the kale for 4-5 minutes
- Blend the Sundried tomatoes, garlic and ginger in a food processor
- Add the kale and blend again to form a paste
- Now roughly chop the pressed tofu and add into the food processor with salt and pepper to taste
- Blend again
- Meanwhile lightly toast the pine nuts in a fry pan over a low flame and stir into the tofu kale mixture
- Place a sheet of FILO pastry on you work surface
- Place scoops of the mixture in a horizontal line about ⅓ of the way up the pastry sheet, leaving approximately 1.5 inches on either side.
- Brush some olive oil on the top ⅓rd and down each side before rolling, to ensure the pastry sticks. Roll the pastry bottom up and fold over, encasing the mixture, and press down each side.
- Place your rectangular shaped pie on a non stick baking tray and brush the top with olive oil. This will give it a golden finish once baked.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes at 180 degrees C.
- Roughly chop the tomatoes and bell peppers.
- Blend together with the minced garlic, salt and sugar
- Add in the cornflour mixture and blend again
- Transfer to a pan, bring to the boil and summer and stir for 2 minutes.
- Remove the pies from the oven when golden and serve with the sauce.
SUMMER HAS ARRIVED!!! With the weather starting to heat up for the summer, you can never go too wrong with an ice lolly. I recently made a batch with K, on one of our ‘project time’ afternoon activities.
Since watching ‘The Rainbow’ episode of Pepper Pig (Season 3 Episode 2 for those of you having produced avid Pepper Pig fans), K is obsessed with Rainbows so it was a piece of cake to get her involved in this activity.
In terms of the difficulty scale, as long you own a food processor or blender of some sorts, fruit ice lollies are one of the easiest things to make and great fun for your little one. You also don’t have to be worried about dealing with a sugar-high, duracell-charged little terrior as with the natural sweetness of the fresh fruits, there is no need for sugar!
You can use any fruits or any combination of fruits, and here are just a few ideas to get you going…
- Blueberry and Apple
- Peel, dressed and steam one apple with a box of blueberries. Blend mixture and lolly-fy. As blueberries can sometimes be a little sour, the apple adds a bit of natural sweetness.
- Strawberry and Raspberry
- Just a handful of each fruit makes a great combination for the red colour. No need to pre-cook. Simply destalk, wash thoroughly, blend to a liquid and lolly-fy.
- Kiwi and Lime
- Blend about 3-4 ripe kiwis with the juice of 1/2 a lime and lolly-fy.
- Classic Orange
- Super simple. Just lolly-fy some freshly squeezed orange juice and drink up the rest.
- Pina Colada
- Blend together about half a pineapple mixed with 1-2 tablespoons of coconut cream and lolly-fy for a frozen version of this classic mocktail.
Leave the mixtures overnight to freeze properly. As for the ice lolly makers, I am sure you can get them anywhere and everywhere. Mine are a set of 6 from Ikea.
A favourite from my own childhood and still a hit with my own little one. Quick and easy to make with great flavours from each of its components.
- 3 cups Conchiglie (shell) pasta
- 1 medium green pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
- 20-25 mushrooms, destalked, skinned and sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 large tomatoes, finely diced
- 1 can baked beans
- 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
- Olive oil
- Salt to taste
- Pepper (optional)
- Grated cheese to sprinkle layer baking dish
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
- Place pasta in salted boiling water to cook, whilst you prepare the sauce as below.
- Heat a generous swig of olive oil in a non stick pan and salute the onions and green peppers for 4-5 minutes.
- Add in the garlic and mushrooms and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until the mushrooms soften.
- Now add in the chopped tomatoes and simmer for a further 5 minutes until the tomatoes create a paste-like sauce.
- Drain the pasta once cooked.
- Once the tomatoes are cooked and soft, add in the baked beans, ketchup, salt, pepper and cooked pasta and mix well.
- Set in a baking dish and sprinkle cheese on top and bake in the oven for 10 minutes until cheese has browned slightly.
‘K you have been an angel and you can have a treat for being so good. What would you like?’
‘Mama, I wanna make biscuits..’
Can’t make this stuff up – love it!! Operation biscuit is a GO!
I based these biscuits very heavily on BBC Good Food’s Basic biscuit dough recipe and added my own flavouring. The basic biscuit dough here gives quite a sticky, gloopy dough so if you want to do any specific shapes, then it is essential to chill the mixture.
I have added some notes on chilling the mixture and how to melt chocolate below so have a little read if you are not already familiar with the techniques.
- 250g butter (soft) or margarine
- 140g caster sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 2tsp vanilla extract
- Zest of 1 large orange
- 300g plain flour
- Mix together the butter and sugar until fluffy
- Add in the egg yolk, vanilla extract and orange zest
- *There are some great videos on youtube on how to separate the yolk using an empty plastic bottle
- Sift in the flour and mix together to form a wet dough
- Press out the mixture on a sheet of baking parchment
- Place another piece of baking parchment on top and roll out the mixture until it ends up in an even, flat layer
- Refrigerate for 2-3 hours
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees C
- Remove the dough from the fridge and remove the top layer of baking parchment
- Carefully and quickly cut out your desired shapes and place on baking tray
- *Do this whilst the dough is cold or it will be difficult and you will need to refrigerate again
- Bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges start to brown or go golden
- Remove (they will be soft) and place on a cooling rack to firm up
- Melting chocolate can go horribly wrong if you don't do it properly or have the patience to wait it out
- I used Galaxy chocolate (simply because I love it)
- Place chunks of chocolate into a decorating bag (i used the Wilton disposable decorating bags)
- Boil some water in a pan and turn the gas off
- Place a bowl over the water but most importantly, don't allow the bowl to touch the water
- Place the icing bag in the bowl and cover with a lid
- Once melted, cut the edge and decorate the biscuits as you wish
It goes without saying that Kale is the ‘in thing’ in terms of healthy eating and fresh vegetables. In all honesty, it is hard enough to get kids to eat spinach these days and then when we now throw in Kale, which is all the more bitter in taste and tougher to chew through, we are asking for a challenge!
Why so popular? Kale is one of the most nutritious greens available in stores today and packed with vitamins A, K and C. To put it in perspective for you, a cup of steamed kale has over 1000% more vitamin C than a cup of steamed spinach.
So the question is, how to I pack these nutrients in a kid-friendly way? Answer, hide them and pizza-fy them.
- 1 bunch kale (approximately 200g)
- ½ bag spinach (approximately 100g)
- 1 pack basil, chopped (30g)
- ½ cup pine nuts
- Generous swig olive oil
- 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed (depending on strength preference)
- Salt to taste
- I pack ready roll puff pastry (refrigerated not frozen)
- 300-400g medium or mature cheddar cheese (or vegan cheese)
- 100-150g cherry tomatoes
- Fresh basil
- Handful of black sliced olives
- Roughly chop and thoroughly wash the kale and spinach.
- Steam for 5-10 minutes until wilted down.
- Meanwhile, place the pine nuts and garlic in a food processor until the pine nuts are ground.
- Add in the steamed kale, spinach, olive oil, basil and salt and process once again until a smooth paste is formed.
- Taste and add any further salt or olive oil if required.
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
- Roll out puff pastry to fit a 12-14 inch non-stick pie or baking dish.
- Place the pastry in the oven for 5 minutes and remove.
- Spread a generous layer of Spinach and Kale Pesto on the puff pastry pastry
- Sprinkle between 300-400g of medium or mature cheddar cheese on top of the pesto.
- Then add chopped tomatoes (halved), fresh basil, olives and any other toppings you wish and bake in the oven for a further 15-20 minutes until the pastry has browned and become crisp.
In search of something filling enough for my little one’s lunchbox and vegetable-y enough for her continual development, I came across the concept of cheese scones and had some left over courgettes from my ratatouille, so added them in also.
Result? Exactly what I wanted. They are great hot or cold, with filling and without. A great snack-come-light bite.
- 1 small courgette (about ⅔ cup)
- 300g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 1 cup grated mature cheddar cheese
- 1 cup full fat milk
- 1 tbsp lemon juice, squeezed from a fresh lemon
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees
- Add the lemon juice to the milk and leave to stand for 5 minutes
- Meanwhile, grate the courgette and wrap up in about 5 paper towel sheets, removing the moisture
- In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour and add the cheese, courgette, sugar and a pinch of salt.
- Add in the milk mixture little by little until a dough forms (don't be hasty and use it all)
- On a floured surface, pat the mixture down until it is 1.5 inches thick. Then cut out with your party cutter to scones at a size of your preference.
- Place the cut, raw scones on a non-stick baking tray
- Rework the dough and cut more scones out, repeating this procedure until all the dough is used up
- Lightly brush the top of each scone with milk
- Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until golden brown
- Serve with butter, cream cheese or any topping of your choice.
There are days when breakfast just doesn’t seem to work and you need an on-the-go alternative. Today was one of these days and these breakfast bars did the trick. Not only are they packed full of the good stuff, but they are quick to make, filling for little (and big) tummies and have a sweet kick, making them taste great and a perfect snack or breakfast bite.
Now, I looked up a lot of breakfast bars online before trying my hand at my own version and the majority require a whole cup of honey or agave syrup. This in my opinion made it way too sweet and sticky for something i would feel comfortable giving my toddler for breakfast, so I tried adding more dried fruits and less syrup to give it the same binding ability. Not quite as compact as the ‘original’ versions but it does stick less to your teeth and from my point of view, I feel much more comfortable giving it to K.
Another great thing about these bars is that you can pretty much adapt the recipe to suit your own preferences. I like pistachios and cranberries as they add some colour but you can pretty much choose any nuts or dried fruits which you like.
Bars will last for up to a week in an airtight container. When packing for ‘on-the-go’, simply wrap up the individual pieces in cling film and pack it away.
Anyhow, enjoy and here’s the recipe.
- 1¾ cup gluten-free rolled oats
- ¾ cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
- 1 cup unsalted cashews
- ½ cup chopped pistachios
- 2 tablespoon chia seeds
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup raisins
- ½ cup dates (medjool and preferably seedless) roughly chopped
- 4 tbspn agave syrup
- 1 tbspn coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a pan of boiling water, place the chopped dates, raisins and cranberries and allow to soak for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the cashew nuts and desiccated coconut in a food processor and chop until coarsely chopped.
- Add in the remaining ingredients, including the soaked fruits (which you should drain the water before)
- Mix in the food processor for a minute and then open and mix with a spoon. Then mix for an extra minute once more.
- Line a 9 inch square baking pan with greaseproof paper and transfer the mixture into the pan.
- Spread out to cover the entire area, firmly pressing it together so it is sticking together firmly. The harder you press, the better it will stick. (Don't be afraid of getting messy and use your hands for the best result).
- Even it out, trying to get a smooth surface and refrigerate for a couple of hours.
- Cut into squares (size of your preference) and store in an airtight container. e
I love how simple, quick and easy this is to make. It is one of the most versatile and healthy dishes i know of and goes with pretty much anything.
A medley of Mediterranean vegetables, which tastes great with jackets, rice, pasta or as a savoury pancake filling (my personal favourite). It can also be as kid friendly as you want as you can chop the veggies as big or as small as you like..
- 1 medium courgette
- 1 medium eggplant
- 1 small onion
- 1 large coloured pepper (yellow / orange or red)
- ½ can chopped tomatoes
- ½ vegetable stock cube
- 3 tbspn olive oil
- 1 tbspn English yellow mustard
- Salt to taste
- Chop the vegetables into medium sized chunks
- In a large pan, add the olive oil and sauté the chopped vegetables on a medium flame for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, blend the tin of chopped tomatoes with your vegetable stock cube.
- Once the vegetables have softened a little, add the pureed tomatoes, vegetable stock and mustard.
- Add salt to taste and allow the Ratatouille to cook for a further few minutes.
- Serve with jacket potato and cheese, rice, pasta or even savoury pancakes
Cheese on Toast day! I am currently managing a sick 6 month old and an almost sick toddler. By almost sick, I mean the toddler who isn’t fussy generally but won’t even touch her favourite meals. Paracetamol is just a matter of time for this one.
For those of you who know me, you will know that I don’t brag. However, when it comes to cheese on toast, I have no shame in proclaiming that I make a pretty awesome version of this classic comfort food. My methodology has evolved over the years to a winning combination of cheeses, veggies and freshly baked bread.
For the cheese, cheddar is a must as a base and this leaves you able to experiment to find your perfect partner to it. I love gruyere and smoked cheese (as used in this instance). However, there are no rules to this so just stick to the one type of cheese if you prefer.
For the veggies, again to your preference but I love the combination of onion, peppers and mushrooms.
Finally the bread; keep it simple, keep it white and keep it thick sliced. Seeded, grained or wholemeal breads will work too but my preference is white or half and half.
The milk, however odd you may find it, is the secret to success. By hand-mixing a little milk into the mixture, it creates a pastiness to the cheese, which in turn binds everything together.
- Couple of thick slices of good quality, fresh bread
- ½ cup grated cheddar cheese
- ½ cup grated cheese of your choice (mozzarella / smoked / gruyere etc)
- ½ green bell pepper, diced
- ½ tomato, diced
- ½ onion, diced
- Couple of mushrooms, diced
- Handful of chopped herbs (basil / coriander)
- ½ tspn dried mixed herbs
- 1-2 tbspn milk
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Pre-heat grill to a medium flame setting
- In a mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients together with your hands.
- Place the bread slices on a baking tray and grill for 2-3 minutes until the top is golden brown.
- Flip the bread over, soft side facing up. Spoon the cheese mixture over the soft side of the bread and place in the grill again for a further 2-3 minutes until the cheese mixture is melted.
- Eat hot and enjoy and serve with a bowl of soup or portion of salad.
Green veggies, protein and saucy; this tofu okra curry makes a great family meal when combined with a portion of rice or quinoa. The vegetables are all out there with this colourful concoction and there is no hiding from them but it’s mild and tasty so worth the try if your kids are ready for that next step.
- 5-6 large okras
- 1 large pepper
- 1 14oz pack of firm or extra firm tofu
- 1 onion
- 125g / half box cherry tomato
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp garam masala
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 2 tbspn ground cashew nut powder
- 1 tbspn sugar
- 1 cup water
- cooking oil
- salt to taste
- Prepare the tofu by draining out the water it is packaged within and then pressing it to remove the excess water. If you do not have a tofu press, you can do this by wrapping kitchen roll around the tofu 5-6 times and placing the slab on a chopping board with a weight on top (I use a frying pan). Leave for 10-15 minutes and prepare the remaining ingredients,
- Wash the okra with cool water and drain well. Pat dry with a clean kitchen towel and cut off the stems.
- Chop crosswise into ½ inch slices and set aside
- Wash, deseed and cut the red pepper into bite-sized chunks and then peel and chop the onion into similar sized pieces.
- Now unwrap the tofu and cut into 1 inch rectangular pieces.
- In a large non-stick wok and using about 3 tablespoons of cooking oil, stir-fry the tofu pieces for about 5 minutes until they are crispy on all sides. Remove the tofu pieces from the pan.
- In the same pan, add in the pepper, onion and okra and cook for a further 5 minutes until the vegetables are cooked and add the tofu back in.
- In a separate pan, make the gravy.
- Wash and dice the cherry tomatoes.
- In about 1 tablespoon of cooking oil, add in the coriander seeds. After 1 minute add in the tomatoes, turmeric powder, garam masala, salt and sugar.
- Allow to cook for 5 minutes on a low heat until the tomatoes have softened
- Add in the water and cashew powder and then blend with an electric blender to create a smooth gravy.
- Pour the gravy over the cooked vegetable, tofu mixture, simmer on a low heat and mix well.
- Serve hot with rice, quinoa or any Indian bread