Spinach Puffs Recipe

OK so when you give this to your little ones to eat, you’d better have the hoover ready. My husband seemed to delight in sharing a video with me of the mess she had made as I commuted home, and then realised that he was the only one around to handle the clean up. He was later seen wafting our beloved child in the garden, shortly followed by her high chair in a bid to de-flake.

After getting lots of inspiration from the thoughtfully compiled set of Ella’s Kitchen recipe books – it suddenly dawned on me whilst going through The Big Baking Book aka The Yellow One of the series – that combining puff pastry and yummy fillings would solve the two issues I’ve been having with sending Adelyn off to the childminder’s with her packed lunch; 1) homemade and 2) easy-to-feed-herself portioned food.

I get mildly anxious about ensuring Adelyn gets enough iron in her diet so this recipe has been somewhat of a Godsend given her reluctance to eat bolognese (like seriously, how can anyone fail to enjoy spaghetti bolognese??) The Big Baking Book helpfully reassures me that “spinach is rich in iron and calcium, making it perfect for superhero-style bones and brains.”

And look at these crispy beauts! Note: I made a change to the original recipe and made my puffs smaller.

Ingredients:

150g spinach

125g ricotta cheese

50g Parmesan, grated

Good pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

250g ready-made puff pastry (I use ready rolled)

1 egg, beaten for glazing

Sesame seeds (I only had black at home!)

  • Preheat the oven to 200C and line your baking sheet with parchment.
  • In a sizeable saucepan (must have a lid too), pop your spinach in and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of water. Cover and heat the spinach gently for 5 minutes till wilted. Tip the spinach into a sieve or colander and press out the juice as you don’t want soggy filling! Then roughly chop.
  • Drain off any liquid from the tub of ricotta and place in a large bowl along with the Parmesan and nutmeg. Mix together. Then add the chopped spinach and mix till evenly combined.
  • Assuming you’ve bought the ready-rolled sheet of puff pastry as I do, roll it out and leave on the parchment. Cut in half widthways and lengthways and then quarter those rectangles too so you have 16 rectangles.
  • Divide the filling amongst 8 of the rectangles and you’ll have something that looks like this:

IMG_0922

  • Brush the edges lightly with the beaten egg. Cover with the remaining 8 rectangles and press the edges down with a fork or finger.
  • Carefully place your puffs on to the prepared baking sheet. Cut a little cross in the top of the pastry and then glaze with the remaining egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake in the oven for 20-25minutes until wonderfully puffed up and golden!
  • Delicious served warm (but can be eaten cold). Store in an airtight container for up to 24 hours.

 

Banana Muffins Recipe (no sugar!)

Adelyn loves bananas. One of her words is “Na-Na”, complete with frantic arm waving and searching the room for her beloved yellow fruit. Sometimes I overdo it on the banana-buying and end up with some that are just begging to be muffined – and though Adelyn is now over a year old, I’m still hesitant to give her foods with added sugar in them.

With this recipe, the sultanas and bananas should give enough of a sweet hit, plus bonus points for the extra goodness you’ll get into your little one.

IMG_3529

125g self-raising flour

1/2tsp baking powder

1tsp ground cinnamon

75g sultanas

50g unsalted butter, melted

2tsp vanilla essence

1 medium egg, beaten

1tbsp milk

2-3 ripe bananas, mashed

Optional: 1tbsp honey or agave syrup (only if little one is over a year old, honey is NOT recommended below this age)

  • Preheat the oven to 180C (160C Fan oven) and lightly greased a muffin tin (when it comes to baking for baby, I don’t bother with cases)
  • Mix the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sultanas in a bowl. Then add the melted butter, vanilla essence, egg and milk – mix well. Add a little more milk if the mix seems too thick.
  • Add the honey/agave if using.
  • Fold in the mashed bananas and mix.
  • Spoon the mix evenly into the 12 muffin holes and bake for 20-25mins, till golden on top and a skewer comes out cleanly.

 

Review; Wyld Afternoon Tea at Dandelyan

I was about to write this as a “Family Friendly” edition because hey – there was a little baby there with her mum but in truth, I cannot attest to the baby-friendliness of Dandelyan as Adelyn was left at home having Daddy Time on account of this being an Afternoon Tea WITH COCKTAILS.

Mother and I have been to most of the Afternoon Teas around London, it’s our decadent treat to ourselves. I wanted to find something suitably cheeky to treat my darling Mum and found Dandelyan.

Based on Southbank on the ground floor of the Mondrian Hotel, with a view of the River Thames – Dandelyan is an award-winning bar, offering it’s Wyld Afternoon Tea (Thurs-Sun).

Cote 100%

The Bar – well stocked, well staffed, well tasty

Afternoon Tea traditionalists, look away! They don’t offer scones here, but what they lack in clotted cream carb-loading, they make up for in their thoughtfully created botanical-inspired Cocktails, four of them to be precise, served as part of the Wyld Afternoon Tea.

You have three courses, with a Cocktail to start and then another after each course, plus your choice from the tea menu – all for £55.

Cote 100%

Lime, Basil, Cacao Liquer, Orange Bitters & Prosecco – with a lemon marshmallow, topped with pistachios

The finger sandwiches at the start weren’t your usual fare either. Our faves? The Bacon Jam Pinwheels and the Elderflower Compressed Cucumber Sandwiches.

Admittedly disappointed that they don’t offer refills though (yes I asked) as we’d happily have enjoyed a bit more.

Cote 100%

The Savoury Course

We very much enjoyed the Sweet course too, which consisted of a slice of Battenberg Cake, and a range of petit-four sized treats.

It was around this time that my favourite cocktail came out – very refreshing and classy.

Cote 100%

Planter Cocktail (I think) – Pineapple Gin, Sloe Oolong, Citrus & Peychaud’s Bitters

Thankfully I am well past the age where Malibu, Vodka and Coke was the epitome of a cheeky cocktail.

All 4 cocktails were wonderfully crisp and complimented the courses quite well, I expected no less.

We left quite merry, being Asian-ladies of petite stature, yet the cocktails were perfectly sized to match the occasion (i.e. a classy afternoon out) and we very much enjoyed the quality and variety of the food.

The Tea Menu itself consists of a modest choice of 6 tea leaves, but c’mon – we were definitely there for the Cocktails, not the tea. However – if you are attending as a teetotal individual, they also offer the Boozeless Wyld Tea.

Highly recommended as an alternative to the usual Afternoon Tea scene; I look forward to going again in future.

Being a Working Mum with Ill Babies

This past week has sucked, big time.

And yes, for the record I refer to our pug Coco as my baby. And my actual baby is still being called my baby even though she’s technically a toddler but I’m in denial.

Not only has Adelyn been ill, but Coco also had emergency surgery on Monday morning (tip: do NOT let your husband let your dog eat leftover corn on the cob as a treat – it will get stuck in their stomach and will get messy and painful).

So both girls have been in serious need of TLC.

IMG_0697

Coco’s nicely on the mend and is already back to being excited for meal times and gentle walks around the block. She’s been sitting next to Adelyn at every opportunity, almost protective-like.

With Adelyn – it’s “just” a cold virus but never in the past (almost) 15 months have I been so scared for our little one. A week on from the first symptoms and she’s had a temperature rising to 40.1C and dropping to 34.6C, hours of screaming in some sort of unknown agony, dwindling to non-existent appetite and refusing to drink anything but from the boob, many calls to 111 and an early morning trip to the Urgent Care Unit.

And I was dealing with that whilst working (from home).

So why am I writing this post? I guess I just wanted to reassure other working parents out there that it is shit and scary and stressful – y’know, safety in numbers, you’re not alone, sisterly solidarity whoo!

I’ve spent the past week feeling guilty for neglecting my team, and then guilty for neglecting my girls because I was worrying about neglecting my team, ad infinitum.

I spent nights and early mornings comforting Adelyn and fretting about tasks to get done for work for the next day.

Balancing my responsibilities at work and at home has been really tough. I’ve cried more than I have in a while out of sheer frustration – it’s been terrifying to see Adelyn’s little body lose weight and keep on top of emails (and in our company, there are an inordinate amount of emails that come in).

But it’s in these tough times that you gain perspective, and it makes you so grateful for all the things you usually take for granted.

I’ve missed her smile, her laughter, her voice, her naughty curiosity about everything. Do  you have any idea how much harder it is to change the nappy of a child that is thrashing around in extreme anger at the world for giving her nasty germs?? (Actually it’s not that different from a child that wants to roll away to explore, and will loudly indicate that she will not tolerate having a clean bottom if it means she has to stay still for 20 seconds)

These are the things I’m grateful for:

  • that my company allow me to work from home
  • that I’ve been able to offer comfort to my baby (for us, it’s breastfeeding)
  • that Adelyn and Coco have a doting father who will cuddle and feed and nurture them given any chance
  • that I live doors down from my Mum and her partner – giving me a break from cabin fever and feeding us – I have tremendous respect for single parents out there holding down a job with a sick little one – this past week would’ve been near impossible without them
  • that my dad came to cook a nutritious meal for us all after hearing that the girls were poorly
  • that I have some truly lovely friends out there checking in on us, giving advice and sending love
  • the NHS – like, seriously. From pregnancy, to birth, to providing support and care for our ill bubba – they’re amazing.
  • the discovery of the Miffy cartoon (on the Tiny Pop channel) – we’ve finally relaxed our NO TV thing when Adelyn stopped screaming, pointed and said “buh-buh” (that’s “bunny” to you and I) – the first time we’d heard her voice in days.

So here we are, it’s Easter Sunday and we think (hope) our little Miss A is finally recovering.

I would be so interested to hear tips on coping from fellow parents/care-givers – comment away 🙂

Fully deserve all the Easter chocolates in the world after this week.

Happy Easter y’all!

Kx

 

Sweetcorn Fritters

Agh. The dreaded day has landed upon us; my once wonderful eater has turned into a right fusspot for the best part of the past week.

Foods she once devoured she now reacts to as though I was giving her cat food (squawking and scrunchy faces and spitting food back out ensue). 

One thing I’ve found though, is that finger foods will find their way into her mouth more often than not so I figured – how do I make her favourite foods into more of a readily held meal?

Solution: combine them in egg, milk and flour to make Fritters. Voila! My greedy eater is (kind of) back:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 50g self-raising flour
  • 10ml milk
  • 1 already-roasted sweet potato, flesh scooped out
  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 100g courgette, grated
  • 2tbsp sweetcorn
  • 50g cheddar cheese 

You’ll need to have a sweet potato already baked and ready to be used so wash, stab with a fork a bit and bake in an oven for 40-60mins (depending on size) with a bit of foil on the rack underneath to catch any juice.

Then you can get the batter ready…

  • In a large bowl, beat the egg lightly. Mix in the flour and then the milk to form a thick batter. 
  • Cut open the baked sweet potato and scoop the squishyness out and into the batter. 
  • Add the spring onions, courgette, sweetcorn and cheese. Mix well. 
  • Heat up a non-stick frying pan with a light drizzle of oil for good measure over a medium heat.
  • Using a table spoon, plop heaped tablespoons of the batter into the pan so that they form nice even rounds and fry for 2-3mins each side till a lovely golden brown.
  • Note – they’re not the driest fritters on account of the veggies in the mix! 

Things I Learned About Breastfeeding

This is my honest Ode To Breastfeeding. I’m not going to bother extolling the virtues of it because at the end of the day a fed and nourished baby is happy baby, regardless of breast or formula.

And for my guy friends – this’ll probably wander into TMI territory – you have been warned.

Tendu 100%

Throwback to a feed at 8 months old

At 14 months, Adelyn’s still getting breastmilk straight from the source (we really really tried but she just absolutely refused the bottle). Even though I’m back at work, and with her eight (!) teeth we still manage to get a morning and a bedtime feed in – I’m not in a rush to stop as I love the bonding time we get and I know it won’t last forever (because I have no intention of being GoT’s Lysa Arryn).

I’ve had some of my funniest, most memorable experiences of being a mum because of breastfeeding – from wandering outside with my nursing top still in feed position (i.e. exposed), to enjoying a walk in the woods with Adelyn dangling in her sling nursing happily. From leaky boob situations out in public (always wear a dark colour!) to now; prising her little hands away as they seek to pull my top down to get access.

I thought I’d read a lot of stuff to prepare for a baby before Adelyn came along and I was still surprised by so many things when it came to breastfeeding. Though I guess it was a nice surprise to discover that you (usually) don’t get your period if you’re Breastfeeding loads!

The Beginning:

We had to have a C-Section to give birth so I had the worry about skin-to-skin and not being able to breastfeed straight away – I’m so grateful that she didn’t sense any apprehension and simply suckered on for a good 40 minutes as soon as I was able to hold her to me.

A lot of the books talk about the importance of getting your milk supply up and maintaining it – I was so worried about “what if I can’t produce enough milk for my baby?”. So imagine my surprise as I realised really quickly that the opposite was actually possible; Overproduction.

Milk went EVERYWHERE.

My bra size went up to EE, which I didn’t even know was a thing.

When you’re feeding your newborn baby on demand every few hours and your milk is literally spraying all over said baby, do you realise how many time you have to change them into dry clothes?!

Breastfeeding Adelyn always meant frantic screaming for “more muslins!!”, many bibs, those milk cup collector things and even that wasn’t enough to stop my poor baby from getting soggy.

I went through so many breast pads, and I tried all the brands (from supermarket to eco-friendly to bamboo pads to branded) and can honestly say that Lansinoh are the best (this isn’t an ad by the way). They could absorb a stunning amount of liquid and stay dry against your skin whilst staying quite discrete.

The Let Down Reflex:

My biggest shock was that when you experience “let down” it happens in both boobs – i.e. your baby is suckling on one boob and as the milk starts coming out (basically of it’s own accord as a trickle or a stream or a downright watering-can-style-spray) it comes out of BOTH nips.

It felt weird too – like a pins and needles feeling. Kind of shocking because who the hell is used to having pins and needles in their jugs, for goodness sake.

Hearing Adelyn cry would sometime trigger my milk let down. Having a hot shower would also set them off. Literally spent at least the first 5 months of being a mum with SOMETHING held to my breasts.

A Favourite Breast:

As we had a C-Section, it made holding her bloody awkward in those first few weeks – thank goodness they come out tinyish.

For some reason Adelyn was fine feeding from Left but struggled to latch and would get frustrated about Right – which meant Left was making a lot more milk than Right and I was panicking. The Rugby Hold didn’t work too well (as a way to try to let her feed as if she was being held to the Left but actually feeding on the Right) and I was NOT impressed when the health visitor thought it’d be a great idea to nurse lying down sideways – how is a woman who’s stomach muscles have just been cut through supposed to sit back up again to wind the baby? With said newborn conked out next to her?!

We managed in the end though, through perseverance and improving the latch and my nifty pregnancy pillow turned feeding pillow. I did dread feeding from Right for what felt like an age but was probably more like 3-4 weeks.

Nipple Changes:

I now take it for granted that I’ve been able to breastfeed for a year now without much thought – she knows what to do and can basically attach herself from any angle. It’s not unless I stop and reminisce about the early days that I remember the extreme discomfort one’s nipples experience as they learn to get used to having a little being attached every few hours through the day (and night). I never had to use any balms but I do remember a hint of blood blistering and tenderness (it hurt to feel clothes against them FFS) – but thankfully that only lasted a couple of weeks and I barely remember it now.

They definitely got darker in colour too – I wonder if that’s to help the baby hone in on them…?

They go back to normal after a little while!

Pumping – Bloody Annoying:

After I discovered my alarmingly overzealous milk production in the form of poor Adelyn spluttering during her feeds, I found I had to pump a teeny bit before our night feeds (as she’d sleep for a little longer between feeds) to basically ease the pressure. I would also have to wake up in the middle of the night to pump even when she didn’t wake up for a feed because guess what? Breasts that are full of milk get pretty damn swollen and uncomfortable.

Top tip: a manual pump was easier than an electric one. That thing went with me everywhere at one point. On holiday, trips to the shopping mall – if I was out of the house and knew there was a chance that Adelyn would miss a feed, it was a boob-saver.

14 Months On:

Before I had Adelyn, I kind of figured I’d probably have stopped breastfeeding by 12 months. Yet a year went by and it still didn’t feel like it was time (even though 4 teeth had come through by then).

Yeah I have my days where I feel like this:

 

funny-animal-motherhood-photos-cats-dogs-pet-moms-4-5767d6a69d572__605.jpg

From Bored Panda’s 10+ Animal Expressions That Sum Up Being A Mum

And sure, she’s developed a habit of sticking her other hand down my bra and slapping me mid-feed.

But hey – I don’t know how much longer she’ll want to come to me with her arms thrown wide – so I’ll happily go on for a bit longer.

Kx

Peak Mum Moment

I wanted to write an inspirational post in honour of it being international Women’s Day. Y’know; about being proud to be a woman and making a difference etc etc. 

What happened though was that I had the  messiest, most difficult time feeding my very own little lady her dinner tonight. She insisted on poking her tongue out after every other mouthful and basically made the action of washing her hands in her food bowl before throwing said hands in the air thus creating a confetti effect of macaroni bolognese. 

And then I had to jump back into work mode, as I’ve been working from home today. 

Oh and I cooked dinner.

HAVOC!!


Being a working mum ain’t easy. Being a working mum and working from home is like…the ultimate test of nerve, wits and patience haha…

I’m grateful that my other little (pug) lady was around to help me clean (read: eat) up the mess. 

I’m grateful that I have my own home in which to be a working mum within.

I’m grateful to have been blessed enough to have a little one, and to have the opportunity to raise a sassy, amazing little girl. 

I’m grateful for my own sassy, amazing mum. 

And I’m grateful for marrying an incredible man who supports me in my every effort to do awesome things. 

Peace and much love to all!

Kx