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.
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:
- 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.
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.
125g self-raising flour
1/2tsp baking powder
1tsp ground cinnamon
50g unsalted butter, melted
2tsp vanilla essence
1 medium egg, beaten
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.
These crumby little bites are perfectly sized snack for little ones, full of nutrition and home-baked so you know there are no weird preservatives in there.
They’ve gone down a treat whenever I’ve offered them at play dates. Think of them as a healthy version of a flapjack, only no way near as sweet. Admittedly these are maybe not sweet enough for the adult palate but watch your kid get crumbs EVERYWHERE as they get their nibble on with these.
I’ve been using a porridge oat mix that Tescos have recently brought out which combines oatmeal, oat bran and wheat bran, but using oatmeal will also do nicely. Oat bran on its own lends an especially crumby and almost malty taste – try and see what suits your family.
Apricots are a great source of Vitamin A (for healthy cell growth and immune system), fibre (keeping things *ahem* moving) and potassium (maintains blood pressure). Their natural sweetness combined with that of the apple mean you can bake without having to add sugar.
I make a bigger batch of Apricot Purée than necessary as a teaspoon goes really nicely in porridge for the little ones. I like to think of it as jam that hasn’t been made out of refined sugar so is therefore safe.
150g oatmeal, oatbran and wheat bran mix
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp coconut oil, warmed to liquid form for ease of mixing
3 tbsp water
1 apple, peeled and grated
For the apricot purée
100g dried apricots*
200ml boiling water
- Start by making the apricot purée – pop the apricots into a small saucepan, add the boiled water and bring back to the boil. Lower to a simmer for about 7 mins and then take off the heat. Leave to cool a little before pureeing in a blender (you can make the oaty mix whilst it cools down)
- Preheat your oven to 200C and lightly oil a brownie tin or something of a similar size.
- Combine the oaty mix with the bicarbonate of soda and give it a little stir. Add the coconut oil and the grated apple and stir.
- Purée the apricots (if you haven’t already) and add approx 120g of the purée to the mix (pot up the rest of it and keep it in the fridge). Add the water a tablespoon at a time till you have a nicely formed mixture that holds together. Just leave it to rest for a minute or two.
- Pop the mixture into the prepared brownie tin and gently coax outwards to cover the tin. You’ll have a thin layer that should nicely spread out.
- Bake for 20-25 mins, until golden on top and coming away from the edge of the pan.
- Leave to cool before cutting into little squares – my brownie tin is square so I go for 5×5.
- Keep in an airtight container for up to one week.
* For my own peace of mind I use organic and naturally dried apricots; these are darker in colour as a result of not being treated with sulphur dioxide.
I’m a big fan of finger foods, especially ones that are quick to make and packed full of nutrition – courgette, carrots and spinach with the added hit of cheese for that moreishness…oooh these’ll be a hit in your household too if my family are anything to go by!
Adelyn literally bounces and makes strained squealing sounds when she sees me coming with these. Just like her Papa.
Remember – babies under 1 years old shouldn’t have salt added to their food as their kidneys aren’t mature enough to process it efficiently so there’s no need to season this. The cheese contains enough savoury flavour to satisfy even an adult’s palate.
225g self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
1 carrot – peeled and grated
1 small courgette – washed and grated
80g mature cheddar, grated
2 handfuls of spinach, chopped
1 egg, beaten
45g unsalted butter, melted
- Preheat your oven to 180C (fan) and lightly grease a muffin tray with butter or oil. You can use muffin cases if you like.
- Pop your dry ingredients into a big bowl – so your flour, baking powder, cheese, carrot, courgette and spinach – and mix together.
- Then add your wet ingredients one at a time, mixing after each addition – so the egg, butter and then the milk. You should have a thick and pleasingly colourful batter.
- Pop a generous tablespoon of the mixture into your prepared muffin tray – you should have enough for 12.
- Bake for 20-25mins, until golden brown on top and your chosen poking testing implement comes out clean (toothpick, uncooked spaghetti, actual poker tester thing etc.)
- Leave them to cool slightly, if you can bear the wait.
FREEZING TIP: These freeze well in an airtight container or baggy. You can warm them up in the oven from frozen for 15mins (or leave to defrost) to enjoy all over again.
Adelyn using two hands to devour hers – a sign of enjoyment!