Tuesday, 31 July 2012

summer superfood salads

i have discovered ready-cooked puy lentils and they taste divine. this salad was a favourite of mine. i made it in tupperware pots for after a hospital appointment with my sister (where she found out she doesn't need chemotherapy - hooray praise God!). we were travelling to london for the day and i knew she wanted to be eating healthily. i also knew that healthy wholesome cafe food in central london is ridiculously expensive . So i packed up this salad for us. It contains: - roasted butternut squash, spinach, chopped apple, cherry tomatoes, feta, pumpkin seeds, puy lentils, sweetcorn, chopped celery & cucumber.

here is another one that i love - as does my sister because it is full superfood, antioxidant, cancer-fighting raw beetroot and raw carrot. She has been investigating the benefits of various foods and she came across the benefits of sunflower seeds - apparently they 'counter fatigue, irritability, depression and lack of energy' - i could definitely do with some of these little superheroes - they sound like they could fix all my problems!.. better get munching!
so a simple winner with huge health benefits (apparently): - spinach, grated beetroot, grated carrot, chopped orange, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds.
a similar one is lettuce, rocket, chopped orange, chopped beetroot (for a change!) & chopped walnuts
this simple salad (spinach, grated carrot, feta, tomatoes & pumpkin seeds) i accompanied with toasted pitta and hummus and sticks of parsnip roasted in oil and honey.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

oats & eggs

when i was away, Little Mr Z invented a recipe and told Daddy he'd like to make it. so they embarked on this simple recipe and it turned out really well. i'm not sure i would eat it myself but  it made a great meal for the kids.

Big dollop of ketchup in the bowl
Stir in 4 eggs
stir in 2 cups of oats
pour in to a muffin tray and bake for 20mins

Friday, 27 July 2012

kids shoes

i can't believe how much children's shoes cost. i have bought very few pairs because i have been given so many hand-me-downs... even my mother saved most of our shoes and all our wellies from when we were kids. it's strange putting my kids in shoes that were on my feet when i was their size
i also can't believe that unless you spend ridiculous amounts of money on girls shoes, you end up with revolting shiny pink & purple tack. the girls selection in Clarks is apalling. i did find some sweet tan shoes at Clarks on sale for £22! still seemed like a rip off to me... but we went with them.
what i  was delighted with was this find -

these are Livie & Luca who, i looked up and discovered, make beautiful shoes. These sell for £48 new. I found them in a charity shop in great condition for £8.80!... rather pleased with these.

Monday, 9 July 2012

gingerbread men

Little Mr Z is so full of sweet questions at the moment. They go something like this: 
why is the inside of ginger yellow?
why is ginger hard?
does butter grow?
this [bicarb of soda] grows deep under the ground doesn't it?
why is this called 'kneading'?
and so on...
if i hesitate for too long it's followed by "why? why? why?"
what does keep him quiet is a good bit of batter to lick. this recipe was so quick to make (probably aided by my desire for a little bit of quiet... and for Little Miss M to not nap for too long) that as i handed Mr Z the beater to lick he said with extreme delight "already? that was the shortest lick day i've ever heard of!!"

butter (soft)
1 egg
golden syrup
brown sugar
plain flour
ground ginger
bicarb of soda
1. Beat 125g butter and 1/2cup (110g) brown sugar together until creamy
2. Add 1 egg and 2 tbsp golden syrup and beat until combined
3. sift 2 cups (300g) plain flour, 2 tsp ground ginger and 1 tsp bicarb of soda together
4. Fold the dry ingredients in to the wet ingredients until a dough is formed. On a floured surface knead gently to form a dough. Wrap in cling film and chill (the dough and you!) for at least an hour.
while the dough was chilling, i sent Mr Z to wake his little sister and heard him saying to her: "So, have you had a brilliant sleep? would you like a kiss and a cuddle?" - that melted my heart
5. preheat oven to 180C and roll the dough out to 1cm thick
6. cut out your shapes and bake on a greased/lined tray for 8-10 mins
here are our more traditional shapes
and the more unusual
 cover in various coloured icings (looks like there is more licking than decorating going on here!)
finished product
or just enjoy with a nice cool cup of milk

Saturday, 7 July 2012

lunch wraps

can you tell i'm a bit addicted to grated beetroot at the moment? i do love it and we've been getting so much in our organic box recently. they are one of the superfoods - full of antioxidants. this time i put some in a wrap. try this for lunch -

pile up liberally:
chicken (or tuna) mixed with sweetcorn and mayonnaise
grated beetroot
grated carrot
grated cucumber
cherry tomatoes

wrap and enjoy!
another favourite is tuna sweetcorn with cherry tomatoes and cheddar - zap in the microwave to melt the cheese. Add lots of spinach and wrap!
the kids LOVE chicken or tuna wraps - generally without any of the vegetables added - they like to eat veggies separately!

Thursday, 5 July 2012

basic risotto

i associate risotto with rocket & pine nut salad and we have so much rocket growing in the garden i thought i best make a risotto. i made a bacon & mushroom risotto because that's what we had in the fridge but i would also recommend chicken & broccoli. 
risotto is the ultimate comfort food for me.. and so delicious with a fresh salad. but it does involve lots of stirring which can be tricky with little ones demanding attention. i frequently burn food at the moment because i get side-tracked by the kids or go to put them to bed and forget the meal i've left on the stove for Sam and i. i tend to make risotto after the kids are in bed so i can lovingly stir it and eat it as soon as it's ready - it's best eaten fresh off the stove.

basic risotto 
[bacon & mushroom can be replaced with chicken and broccoli or whatever combination you prefer]

1. chop and saute 1 onion for 2mins
2. add (chopped) 2 cloves garlic, 4 strips bacon, 4 medium mushrooms, 2 sprigs rosemary (optional) and saute for 3mins then set aside
2. in a separate saucepan, heat 2 tbsps olive oil
3. add 1 cup of risotto rice and stir for 2 mins
4. add 1 cup of white wine and stir until wine is absorbed
5. slowly add 2.5 cups of stock 1/2 cup at a time - stirring and letting the liquid absorb before adding more
6. once all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is sticky, add the meat and vegetables and stir
7. add 1/2 cup grated parmesan and a few grinds of pepper and stir to melt the cheese

serve with rocket, cherry tomato & pine nut salad
here is a shrimp, pea and asparagus version. my kids love shrimp - i bought it cooked and added it towards the end, with the vegetables.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

precious ones

i love my precious family so much .. sometimes it hurts
life is good right now - the kids are at a stage that is enjoyable - while utterly exhausting, demanding and chaotic, they are so very precious - they can listen, understand and reason (to some extent!)- they are curious, playful, adventurous, creative, interesting, funny and fun. they love to play with each other... which gives me a little breathing space here and there as well as so much joy...
day trips and outings are fun and easier... we don't have to worry about naps and snacks as much... can be a bit more carefree... and hoping it won't be too much longer until we're nappy freee..
maybe it's time to have another baby and be plunged back in to total exhaustion, mayhem and insanity.
having said all that i currently have a screaming, hungry, tired 2 year old by my side with a nappy full of poo and i'm feeling guilty because there has been too much shouting & chaos in the house today... not all roses after all... better go.. no recipes today.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

broad bean season

the kids loved getting the broad beans out of the shells. the shells are beautifully soft & fluffy inside. we have a book about the Wattlebabies who live in the bush in Australia and make the bean shells in to boats. Little Miss M was hungry so i couldn't stop her just eating the beans raw. Little Mr Z and i didn't think they tasted very nice raw.
we boiled them for 5 minutes, drained them and left them to cool a bit. the kids ate a big bowl each as they waited for their dinner. more of these please.
for the grown-ups i added them to a simple salad of grated beetroot and grated carrot. alongside a salad of rocket, pine nuts and sweetcorn. alongside roast potatoes and chicken. fresh & delicious, the broad beans made the meal for me!

Monday, 2 July 2012

filo lunches

i discovered rolls of filo pastry recently. i've obviously eaten filo before and loved it but have never got round to buying and cooking with it. i had a week of beautiful lunches that were quick and easy to prepare. here's how -

tomato & goat's cheese filo

preheat oven to 180F
roll out filo pastry on a tray covered in aluminium foil 
turn up the edge of the filo slightly
put a thin spread of tomato puree on the filo
put sliced tomato and/or sliced red pepper on top
crumble goat's cheese and walnuts on top
spread some chopped parsley on top 
bake in the oven for 10-12mins
accompany this with a delicious salad of grated carrot, cabbage and chopped apple
or mixed leaves and grated beetroot
there are so many toppings you can do on filo - experiment with marmalade's, different vegetables, cheeses & nuts and fruits for pudding... it can spice up whatever you have on the shelves at home and is a nice change from bread. i think next i'll get a little more adventurous with the filo - perhaps some fun tarts or parcels!