Warming Pot of Butternut Squash Chilli for the Family

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Christmas is coming, the Lee Family are getting fat. Sometimes, you just want to know that you have something virtuous but stonkingly yummy waiting for you, and I think this is one of those warming dishes that can be as naughty or nice as you like.

My instinct is to carb load and then add cheese on top (see later) so I wanted to try out cooking up something that would, at it’s heart, be healthy, one-pot and easily modified to suit the needs of the family, and act as a great base for Christmas dinner leftovers.

This dish is a Butternut Squash Chilli recipe, with a decent portion taken out of the main pot before you add the spices for the grown-ups and then cooked separately to include a cooked chicken thigh so that the little one gets a good dose of all important protein.

Serves 2-3 famished grown ups, and 2-3 portions for a hungry baby

Base Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil

Half of a decent-sized Butternut Squash, deseeded and cut into 2cm cubes (freeze the other half)

1 Red and 1 Yellow Pepper, deseeded and diced

1 courgette (or more if it’s teeny), diced

1 Onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2x Tinned Tomatoes

1/2 a can of sweetcorn

400g red kidney beans

2 handfuls of Spinach, chopped roughly

250ml low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock

Additions for Baby:

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1 chicken thigh, boneless and skinless, sliced in half so that you have two thinner fillets

Finishing Touches for Grown-Ups:

Pinch of dried chilli (or more, to taste)

1 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp of cocoa powder

In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Fry the onions, peppers and garlic till softened for a few minutes.

Add the courgette and sweetcorn, and cook till the courgette softens for another few minutes.

Add the tinned tomatoes, beans and the stock then mix well. Allow to boil and then lower to a simmer for 15- 20 minutes. Add the spinach and simmer for another few minutes till wilted.

At this point you then take out about 4-5 ladle scoops of the mix to pop into a small saucepan – this will become your Baby mix.

To the main pot – this is when you add the flavour and spice to make it palatable for grown-ups! Add the chilli, cumin, cayenne and cocoa powder. Season to taste with salt and pepper and voila – finished. By all means, if you have leftovers from your Christmas meal, they’d make a tasty addition to the chilli.

I served this with a sprinkling of Tabasco, garlic bread, avocado and cheese on top.

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Baby Mix: (as seen in the photo at the top)

Pop the small saucepan containing the Baby mix back onto a low-to-medium heat and add the 1/4 tsp cumin. It might seem a little strange to put a relatively strong tasting spice into baby food but babies apparently enjoy strong flavours – I can attest that Adelyn usually noms this down with gusto.

Add the chicken too and allow to cook for another 10 minutes. I like to just place this on top of the mix, slightly submerged. Once it’s cooked, I can then easily scoop the chicken out and chop it up finely (if your baby is on Stage 3 weaning/can deal with texture/lumps). If your baby prefers a smoother texture, blitz the lot up and serve up a portion.

Freezes well, just defrost and heat gently to eat.


Kx

Autumnal Apple & Blueberry Breakfast Quinoa

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A few weeks into Adelyn’s weaning, I got bored of making Baby Rice + fruit puree, Baby Porridge + fruit puree, or sometimes just – wait for it – fruit puree.

Breakfast has become far less of a chore now that she’s happily into textures and can pretty much eat what we’re eating and vice versa. This happens to be a recipe that is actually intended for babies but also makes for a delicious and virtuous addition to one’s porridge (I’ll share my Power Porridge recipe another time).

Here you have the tangy sweetness of the apple, the soft nuttiness of the quinoa, and don’t you just love the vividly purple colour that the blueberries lend it? Babies are almost always captivated by strong colours, so if your little one is anything like mine and needs to something to keep their attention to sit still and eat – you could be on to a winner with this one.

You can rest assured that Quinoa is good for baby (and you!) as it’s low-allergenic, high in protein (so all very vegan friendly too), and is a great source of fibre and those good carbohydrates that your little one needs to fuel their growth and relentless energy.

The addition of chia seeds also helps to up the protein and fibre content, as well as good ol’ Omega-3s – SO important for healthy brain development amongst other things.

Looks pretty, tastes good, and the whole family can enjoy – what are you waiting for?!

Portions:  this should yield about 4 baby portions

Ingredients:

50g white quinoa, rinsed and drained (just as a precaution to rinse off any bitterness)

250ml water

Generous handful of blueberries, washed

2-3 eating apples (I favour Royal Gala), peeled and diced

1 tbsp chia seeds

  • Pop the rinsed quinoa into a small saucepan and cover with the water. Bring to a boil and then allow to simmer uncovered over a low-to-medium heat for 10 minutes. By this time it should be well on it’s way to absorbing the liquid.
  • Add the apples, give it a good stir and cook away for another 5 minutes.
  • Add the blueberries and the chia seeds, mix well and cook for a final 5 minutes. I add the berries and chia seeds at the end as I don’t want to cook the goodness out of them!
  • By this time, the liquid should be absorbed and the berries will have begun to release their colour. If you’re serving this for a weaning baby, a good blitz to puree it all together will do nicely. If your baby is old enough to handle lumps, a little mushing with a fork or a masher will give you the consistency as in the photo above.

Storage Note: this freezes really well, just allow to defrost before reheating.

Tips: also goes nicely with a dollop of Greek yogurt. It’s also lovely to eat slightly chilled, say in the summertime or if your baby is that hungry and can’t wait for it to be heated up (this has totally happened several times). I’ve also been known to substitute the apples for pears.

Courgette, Spinach & Cheese Muffins

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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.

INGREDIENTS

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

120ml milk

  • 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.

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Adelyn using two hands to devour hers – a sign of enjoyment!

Baby Weaning Recipe: Salmon Fish Pie

If you’re looking for a delicious way to introduce your baby to fish, look no further than this creamy and comforting dish!

Fish is a great source of protein and Omega-3s (essential for brain development amongst other things). Buy the best salmon you can afford – be conscious that too much fish could be a bad thing due to things like mercury levels etc.

Giving your little one fish twice a week is the perfect amount to reap the benefits.

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Inspired by the Truuuly Scrumptious Book of Organic Purees

Ingredients:

For the sauce

1 fillet of salmon (approx. 155g)

360ml whole milk

30g unsalted butter

30g plain flour

4 broccoli florets

2 tbsp of tinned sweetcorn (pref the low salt ones)

For the mash

55g mature cheddar cheese, grated

300g potatoes, peeled and diced

20g butter

40ml whole milk (or enough to make your mash smooth)

  • Pop the fillet into a pan and cover with the milk, bringing it to a boil. (I took the skin off of the fillet first but you can also do this after it’s cooked). Reduce the heat to a simmer and allow to cook for 10-15mins till it’s cooked through and flakes easily.
  • Use a slotted spoon or what-have-you to take the cooked salmon out of the pan and reserve the milk – you’ll need it for the cheesey sauce!
  • Once the salmon has cooled to the touch, make it baby-friendly and remove the skin and flake into small pieces, remove any bones.
  • Make the mash – add your potatoes to a pan and heat up to boiling. Reduce to simmer  and cook for 15-20mins till they’re soft and mashable. Add the broccoli for the final 10-15mins. Once cooked, drain the water and scoop out the broccoli so that you can mash the potatoes with the butter and milk.
  • Whilst the potatoes are cooking though, you can get on with the important cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a pan (I used a non-stick saucepan) on a low heat. Gradually add the flour to combine – it’ll start to bubble – and just leave to cook on this low heat for a couple of minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and gradually add the reserved milk – stir constantly please as you’ll want this smooth.
  • Return the pan to the heat and slowly bring it back up to boiling – continue stirring throughout as the sauce will quickly thicken. Once it’s the consistency of thick custard, take off the heat again and stir in the grated cheese.
  • Chop up the broccoli and sweetcorn into little bits, then add to the cheese sauce along with the salmon.
  • You can either add the mash and stir in, or blend the whole lot together (the above photo was stirred in).
  • Serve up one portion and chill/freeze the rest.

Hopefully your little one will enjoy this as much as we did!