Dinosaur Salad

We were watching Peppa Pig the other day, Sophia loves her and every time she says Peppa Pig she snorts like a pig which is hilarious – to me anyway :) – So Peppa’s brother George wouldn’t eat his salad which Grandpa Pig had grown in his own garden, so Grandpa Pig tore up the pieces of lettuce and made a dinosaur with it and cucumber & tomatoes.

Soph & Zachie thought it was great and tonight we had a go at it as well. I have found that a sure fire way to get the kids to eat is to get them involved in making the food. Tonight was no different. Zachie had grazed all day so wolfed down this salad followed by a bowl of weetbix, another great alternative to dinner when you know if they don’t eat something they’ll be up through the night!

Now I do have to confess that I have no issue at all with getting either of our kids to eat salad, they love it and would quite possibly eat only salad, some nights it’s a fight for who gets the most.

My dear friend gave me her wonderful garden salad recipe and it’s a staple in our house even through winter, I love salad in preference to vegies any day as does Hubby, which is probably where the kids get it from as well.

If you struggle to get your kids to eat salads or vegetables or just want to make it a bit more fun, this could be the way… stay tuned for a Semi Trailer styled salad soon.

Dee’s delicious Salad

You will need for 2 adults & 2 kids

1 tomato diced

1 decent sized Lebanese cucumber peeled, forked & quartered

4-6 coz lettuce leaves, rinsed and chopped

100gms of danish fetta, crumbled

dash of balsamic vinegar

Combine the ingredients in a salad bowl, mix well and serve. We do also add avocado &/or olives on occasion too.

Home delivery Fruit & Vegies

A few weeks ago we had lunch with a friend when her box of fruit & vegies were delivered to her door, looking at what was available all freshly picked and packed got me thinking… With 2 small children, one of whom has taken to questioning every purchase we make at the supermarket and constantly saying we need this, we need that has started to wear a bit thin with me, add to that working part time as well and feeling a little like there are not enough hours in the day I decided that I’d give the home delivery option a go.

I love going to the market and hand selecting our fruit and veg and I think I will still do that but this option gives us more than enough fruit & veg for the week, it’s seasonal which is fantastic, it’s organic – even better and compared to organic prices at the market it’s very reasonably priced. It will also ensure that we actually only buy what we will use for the week rather than having too many of something or another and things going off in the fridge before we can use them.

I have noticed that even though it’s only 2 days a week that our children are in child care they don’t seem to be eating as much as what they would have done if they were at home all week, that an by the time my working week finishes it’s Thursday which is normally the day I head to the Preston Market for a shop.

Anyway, after our box of goodies was delivered yesterday I made spaghetti bolognaise with organic carrots, celery & onions. Zachie ate a pear & an orange both of which he said were Delicious Mummy! So I do think I am on a winner, I just need to remember to let them know – no broccoli or cabbage, that’s the great thing about this service you can say I don’t want Chinese greens, cabbage, pumpkin, sweet potato, kale, chard, silverbeet etc (all of the things we aren’t really fans of or wouldn’t use in day to day cooking.)

I will still head to the market today to buy cucumbers, tomatoes, fresh bread etc but give or take a few items (which you could add to your order) we’re set for the week! Happy days people!

You can check out Victoria Organic Delivery here if you live in Melbourne or even Victoria as they deliver it seems to most places.

We got 6 Apples, 5 Bananas, 3 Zucchini, 5 large Potatoes, 4 Pears, 3 Onions, 1/2 a bunch of celery, 3 heads of broccoli, 1/2 a cabbage, 6 mandarins, 4 oranges, a bag of gourmet lettuce, 3 kiwi fruits & 2 avocados.

Now all I have to do is work out what to do with the cabbage??

Sweet Corn

Corn, we love the stuff – you know it’s in so many things in many different forms, but we like corn au naturale or popped as in popcorn. Autumn in Melbourne is gorgeous – no doubt about it, the mornings are cool & crisp and days for the most part a glorious sunshine, although having said that undoubtedly the weather will change in the next 10 mins and then change again as most Melburnians know. Autumn is also bring us a change in what’s available and in season at the market, corn is on that list! Yay!! For a list of seasonal fruit & vegetables click here.

Fresh corn is one of those things that you can use in a lot of other things like fried rice, corn jacks, on the barbeque, in salads, the possibilities are almost endless, we as I said like ours plain and simple.

I usually cut our cobs in half and everyone gets a half each as I’d usually serve it with other things as well, but tonight Sophia kept opening the fridge and pointing to the corn with a bit of an err err (she’s still on one to two words at 1 & 1/2 years of age) she’s definitely able to get across to us what she wants.

So corn on it’s own is what they had for dinner. Husk your corn and remove as much of the silk as you can, place them in a pot that is large enough to fit them in, cover with water and bring to the boil, boil for about 5-8 mins. Don’t add any salt to the water as this causes the corn kernels to go tough, you can add it later if you like.

That’s it.. simple, quick and easy and for kids it’s really a meal in its self. You can of course add butter, salt & pepper, even Lime juice which comes highly recommended.(thanks Liesel) pretty much anything else you fancy.

Lamb & Vegetable Tajine

You can use any vegetables you like for this one from fennel & Peas, Carrots & Cauliflower or Peas & Artichokes, as a guide the recipe below would serve 4 people depending on how hungry everyone is.

2 onions diced
6 forequater lamb chops
4 large potatoes, peeled & cut into rounds
8 carrots, peeled and cut in half length ways if they’re very thick
2 cloves garlic crushed
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley & coriander chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1 heaped tsp paprika
Pepper to taste
1 tomato
1 preserved lemon

Take a large cast iron saucepan and saute the onions with spices, herbs, garlic & olive oil for 3 minutes, add the chops and seal, take the chops out, put the carrots on top of the onions, put the chops back in a single layer where possible. Put the slices of potato on top of the chops, season with a little pepper, slice the tomato in half and place in the middle of the stack with the preserved lemon, pour in 150mls of water, cover and allow to gently simmer for at least an hour, longer if possible.
You want to end up with lightly caramillised carrots and a thickish sauce, don’t add salt until the end as the preserved lemons will add salt to the dish, also you can always add more water if required but the tomato will release it’s juices and you therefore shouldn’t need much more. Serve with crusty bread and a salad if required.

Nasi Goreng

We’ve been talking at work about new recipes and what we can try that will encourage our kidlets to try new dishes and I remember my dear friend Danielle gave me this recipe for Nasi Goreng. It’s great because it can use up all your leftovers, in particular meat, you can add any vegies you have in the fridge and make it your own. We have used left over roast beef, roast chicken, you could even add some chorizo sausage or something similar. Grated Carrots, Zucchini, corn, peas etc all work too, we haven’t made it with the bananas, but the egg is wonderful on it and 9 times out of 10 everyone scrapes their plate or asks for more so it’s a winner in my eyes. Thanks Dani!

Here is the recipe I use for Nasi Goreng a la mama Saaf (my mother-in-law).  You’re a great cook so you will know how to adjust taste to suit.  All herb and spice measurements are approximates as I just adjust to taste.  This is a great dish to use up left over rice and meat.
Ingredients
Olive oil 1 tablespoon
Butter for baking bananas
Boiled rice 2-3 cups
Ground coriander seed 3 teaspoons
Cumin 2 teaspoons
Ginger powder 1 teaspoon
Ketjap Manis 1 tablespoon
Sambal Badjak 1 teaspoon
1 onion finely diced
2-3 cloves garlic crushed
1 leek chopped (if you don’t have any leeks on hand this dish still tastes good without them.  Maybe just add more onion)
Grated zucchini (optional…I find that this dish doesn’t have enough veg in it otherwise)
250-300 grams cooked meat (we use pork or beef but you could use any type of left over meat you like), mirrepoix(?) in other words, finely diced
1 cup prawns (optional)
Bananas 1 per person
Eggs 1 per person

Instructions
Fry onion and leek in olive oil over medium heat until soft.
Add meat
Add rice and stir to mix well
Add all herbs and spices including ketjap manis and sambal
Add grated zucchini
Add prawns
Cook on low heat for about 15 minutes

In the meantime preheat oven to about 160 degrees celsius.  Melt butter in an oven proof dish and cook bananas until soft (about 15 minutes).

When nasi goreng and bananas are done, fry one egg per person sunny side up. Yolk should be a bit runny.

Serve nasi goreng with a banana on the side and top with the fried egg.

Good accompanying items to this dish are white cocktail onions, mango chutney and of course, more sambal badjak.

Eet smakelijk!  (bon apetit in Dutch)

Simple Sushi

Well this is definitely one to get your kids onto. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to make sushi or california rolls as the larger ones are known here. Zachie & I went to the supermarket and bought Sushi rice, one of those bamboo mats you use to roll up the sushi, some nori paper and the vinegar that you use to flavour the rice.

We already had tuna, cucumber, carrots, avocado etc to use as fillings so we were all set to have a go – now the first attempt I have to say was very impressive. I did undercook the rice slightly, but it was okay, there is certainly a reason they call it sticky rice.

So I simply followed the recipe on the packet of rice, which pretty much says to cook a cup of rice in 375 mls of water, you have to rinse the rice first, bring it to the boil and simmer for 10 mins then let it sit for 10 mins.

Then transfer it to a plate and add about 3 tbsp of sushi vinegar, stir it around & fan it so it cools down as quickly as possible. Once it’s cold/cool then you’re good to go ahead and use it.

I mixed a tin of plain tuna with some mayonnaise, julienne some cucumbers & carrots, you could also add capsicum & sliced up some avocado.

Just spread the rice over the nori paper to within 2 cms of one edge and right to all the other edges, put your toppings on and roll up. It really is that simple, Zachie had a great time making it & eating it as well!

Definitely something to add to your repertoire if you & your family love sushi!

After school or anytime snacks for kids

A very dear friend of mine has two boys with somewhat hectic after school activities and asked for some more ideas as to what to feed them for afternoon tea. As anyone with children will know that idea of 6 small meals is not such a bad idea, particularly come mid afternoon. It’s a sure-fire way to keep little minds focused & happy and little tummies full as googs. I’m thinking that some of these ideas are suited to older children who have sporting activities after school and really need some sustained energy.

This project has reminded me of when I was looking after my grown up cherubs (as a nanny) in New Zealand & I’d pick up Mackie & Erin after school & we’d wait about 20 – 30 mins for Jay to finish so I would take afternoon tea and everyone would eat in the car, I used to check their lunch boxes and if they (Erin) hadn’t eaten her piece of fruit, she had to eat that one & then another one & then she could have a choc chip cookie or muffin, generally I’d take them fruit, cucumber, capsicum or carrots & something sweet. It was enough to keep them going until dinner time. Anyway I put my thinking cap on, tested a few recipes and consulted friends with kids as to what they serve their little ones come afternoon tea time. I also thought a little outside the square.

We’ve, because I haven’t done this alone come up with some mostly healthy, fun and hopefully yummy ideas.

Hot weather snacks:

Obviously fresh fruit is a given and coming into summer there are so many options, mango, watermelon, grapes (fresh or frozen) peaches, apricots, nectarines, blue berries, strawberries, kiwi fruit (although not too many as it can cause rotten nappies in little ones & yes I am speaking from experience)

Muffins are a great option as you can add grated apple, sultanas, seeds etc and have a bit of a play around. Banana muffins are a definite winner with the kids & adults I know. (But maybe wait until the prices go down a bit more)

Fruit smoothies in insulated cups can be made from pretty much anything, best way to save money is to use whatever fruit is in season, add milk & some yoghurt and Vvvvvvvvvvvdddddddd blend away. I remember when we were in Marrakech we used to freeze little containers of yoghurt, normally I wouldn’t advocate buying the little containers of yogurt as they are more expensive, but for the convenience I figure it’s worth it, you could always transfer the yoghurt into smaller containers.

Cooler weather snacks:

I made some mini pizza’s today which all the kids in mother’s group seemed to enjoy and the best thing was that they tasted good warm or lukewarm to room temp which means they may even work for lunches too.

Sausage rolls, party pies, soup in thermal mugs and I was even thinking porridge with sultanas, dried or grated apples & cinnamon would work, particularly in winter & for those kids who are playing sport and need something to keep them going. You’d need to put it in a thermos or thermal cup to keep it hot.

I thought about meatballs, but really I do think they need to be warmer to hot to still taste good.

Other snack type things could be olives (yes kids love them or the ones I know do) Hummus, tzatziki, Mashed Avocado with some lemon juice to stop it from going brown. Little bread sticks, Pita breads with falafel, cucumber, carrot, capsicum sticks. Banana & Peanut butter on raisin bread. Cheese & vegemite on saladas or any dried biscuit, cherry tomatoes, kabana, hard boiled eggs. Little tins of tuna (or buy a big tin and break it up into smaller containers.

I think this is definitely an area where any other suggestions are welcome and much sort after as we all want to try to ensure our kids are eating healthily and give them variety, nothing worse than the same thing every day. If we can get them involved in the cooking & preparing of the food then they’re more inclined to eat it.

There is a great magnet we got from the maternal health nurse which reads, we decide what they (the children) eat and when they eat, they decide whether to eat and how much. It’s a rocky road at the best of times and everyone has an opinion about  this subject. There will be days when all they eat is pasta or only green things or perhaps nothing at all. However I do think as long as for the most part your children are eating relatively healthily then the occasional packet of chips or icypole isn’t really going to hurt. Everything in moderation as they say.

Lamb & Cauliflower Tajine

1 Brown Onion Diced

4 Carrots, peeled, cut in half length wise and then in half width wise

handful of chopped Italian Parsley

6 Lamb Loin or forequarter chops

1/4-1/2 a Cauliflower head

1 Tomato halved

2tsp Ground cumin

2 tsp Paprika

Salt & Pepper to taste

1/3 cup water

Place the onions & spices in the base of your tajine or a cast iron pan. Add the chops and allow to brown slightly. Remove chops and place the sliced carrots on top of the onions, then layer the chops on top.

Cut the cauliflower into small flowerets and lay over the top of the chops, place the tomato on top, pour in the water and sprinkle a little extra, salt, cumin & paprika over the cauliflower. Cover and bring to a gentle simmer. Leave to cook slower for at least 2 hours or until almost all the water has evaporated. If you’re using a cast iron pan then you may need to add a little extra water and keep an eye on it as it seems to get hotter & hold the heat for longer than a tajine.

Serve with crusty bread & a garden salad or greens.

P.S. I was NEVER a fan of cauliflower but this has completely changed my mind, I even ate it by it’s self… no white sauce in sight!