Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Food for Kids: Pork and Apple Stew

As you may know, I've got a thing about cooking for my kids rather than buying baby food. It's just one of those things. I didn't manage to breast feed them, but at least I can give them decent food now!!
This is a really easy dish which is good for toddlers right down to babies who have just started on solids. It freezes well, and it's a good way to introduce kids to pork, because of the sweetness. Not that it's really a problem for PorkChop. He eats absolutely everything I put in front of him. He had his first sandwich today (vegemite - eeewww!) and you would never know he hadn't had one before. He hoed it down with no gagging at all. He is just an eating machine!! We thought BallBoy was pretty good with his food, but PorkChop leaves him for dead! So I guess that makes this a very appropriate recipe!

Pork and Apple Stew for Kiddies
250g pork fillet, diced
1 tbs olive oil
½ leek, white part only, trimmed, washed and finely sliced
1 small kumera, peeled and finely diced
1 potato, peeled and finely diced
1 apple, peeled and finely diced
600ml chicken stock

In a sauté pan with a lid, heat ½tbs oil. Brown pork. Remove from pan and set aside.
Add remaining oil to pan. Saute leek until soft. Add potato, kumera and apple. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring regularly.
Add pork and chicken stock to pan. Bring to the boil, then simmer on low heat with the lid on for 30 minutes or until everything is soft.
Allow to cool slightly then puree (or mash, or chop finely, whatever is right for your child)
Add cooled boiled water if mixture is too dry or thick.

Monday, 23 July 2007

BallBoy's 3rd Birthday Party: The Train Cake!

The train cake!!!! Woohooo!!! I have always wanted to make the train cake, and seeing that BallBoy loves Thomas the Tank Engine so much, this was the perfect birthday for it! He loved watching me make it - he kept asking if he could eat it! It didn't turn out quite as well as I had hoped. I used chocolate cake, and the brown crumbs ended up all through the icing. I followed the recipe (fairly) closely, and there was not enough icing. It could have been better if I had made more icing, but I was too lazy. Also, I would have had trouble getting the colours the same and I absolutely hate colouring icing because I am so clumsy and end up with little drops of colour all over the kitchen. (The drops then tend to reappear for the next week or so - once they were on the bottom of GKGK's sock and he walked colour all around the kitchen!)

The only thing that matters though, is that BallBoy absolutely loved the cake. He said it was his favourite part of the day! We let him loose once we had sung Happy Birthday. He picked off all the smarties, the other lollies and the mint slices. He kept coming back all afternoon trying to sneak more bits off it (ably assisted by his aunties!)

This was the menu:
Chocolate Birthday Cake
Lemonade scones (see previous post)
Chicken drumettes (from the butcher down the road)
Mini pizzas (made them myself on slices of baguette - too easy, too tasty and they freeze well, which is something I am always looking for - because I like to make things ahead of time)
Mars Bar Slice
Caramel popcorn (the recipe is on the back of the popcorn packet - not microwave popcorn - just the basic kernels - you wouldn't believe how ridiculously addictive this is, even if you don't really like popcorn!)
And lollies and chips of course!!!

And we had a lolly hunt for the kiddies - they went psycho!

All in all, a great day - BallBoy had the best birthday he's ever had!

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Ballboy's 3rd Birthday: Lemonade Scones

.Mmmmm.......meringues!!! I know the title of this post is Lemonade Scones, but we're having the family bash for Ballboy and GKGK's birthdays this weekend. I thought meringues would be good as they can be whipped up in advance - although there is a VERY BIG risk that I will eat the entire batch before Sunday - but I can't do that because I need as much time as possible, not only because I have to make the cake, but to read HARRY POTTER!!!!!!! Unfortunately, GKGK is working on Saturday. I was hoping I could convince him to look after the boys all day while I went out, bought the book right on 9:01am, then spent the whole day reading! I could probably have it all read and be home by 5pm. I think that's entirely fair and reasonable. Somehow though, he thinks it's more important for him to go to work. Very mixed up priorities if you ask me.

Anyway, so I can't eat the meringues because I don't have time to make more, and I had to make them during sleep time today so that BallBoy didn't see them. He absolutely loves them too (finally something he shares with his mother!). He calls them "rens". Every time I walk past the oven, I see them. They're softly calling "eat me". So I thought I would share the photo with you so you can hear them calling too!!! (Of course, there are 2 that look a bit wonky, so I'll have to test them to make sure they're OK.....)

But anyway, onto today's recipe!!! I was thinking maybe some lemonade scones would be good for the birthday party. It's an afternoon tea party, and scones are always good, and lemonade scones are better than good because they're just so easy. (Hopefully I will have finished reading Harry before about midday Sunday, because then I'll have to start getting ready!)
Lemonade Scones
1 cup pure cream
1 cup lemonade
3 cups self raising flour
pinch of salt
flour, for dusting
jam and cream to serve

Preheat oven to 200°C or 180°C fan forced. Lightly flour a baking tray. Place all ingredients in a bowl. Mix lightly until combined. Scrape onto a floured surface. Knead lightly and shape into a rectangle about 3 cm high. Cut out with a 5cm scone cutter. Lightly dust with flour and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the top is browned. Serve with jam and cream. Eat!

Monday, 9 July 2007

Kids Birthdays: Mini Meatballs

We had our Mothers Group joint 3rd birthday party on the weekend. My contribution was mini meatballs. I got this recipe from Mrs F, who (I think) got it from the newspaper. As with any good recipe, it has undergone some tweaking, and it is now a bit healthier than the original. Whilst making things healthier may seem like a strange thing for me to aim for, the idea is to hide some vegetables in something that kids will eat. The only problem is that the bbq sauce is full of salt, which is not great for the kidlets, but if that's what it takes to get them to eat vegetables, well you need to decide if the trade-off is worth it! I should add that the adults seem to enjoy these just as much so don't think they are just kids food! (Also, I haven't tested it out, but I think they would probably freeze quite well if you wanted to make them in advance).

Mini Meatballs
500g pork and veal mince
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 zucchini, grated
1 cup baby spinach leaves
2 tbs bbq sauce
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/3 cup grated cheddar or mozarella (or a combination of the two)

Preheat oven to 210 C. Place spinach in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside for 2mins, then rinse under cold water. Drain and squeeze out excess water. Chop spinach.
Place spinach and all other ingredients into a bowl. Mix until combined. Roll spoonfuls of mixture into walnut size balls. Place on a tray lined with baking paper.
Bake for 15mins or until cooked through.

Winter Lunch: Lamb and Mushroom Salad with Poached Egg

I overdid the sweet things on the weekend, so I thought a salad might be the way to go for lunch today. The only problem is that today is a very cold wet wintery day, so my salad had to have some warm bits in it to combat the horrible weather outside.

This is one of my new "things" at the moment - warm lunch salads. It's a good way to get more vegetables in, and if you do it right, it can be a very fulfilling lunch that might just help keep the munchies away. I looked through my salad book, "tossed", for some inspiration using some ingredients I knew I had. I had some leftover lamb leg steaks which we barbequed for dinner last night, and I wanted to use my new egg poacher, so I started from there, took some inspiration from the book then added whatever else was in the fridge.

This is not the world's healthiest salad. It's full of veges but I cooked the mushrooms in butter and the bagelettes (which are store bought) are definitely not low in fat, so with the lamb and the egg, it ended up being fairly heavy. It probably needs an apple for dessert just to help it all digest!

Lamb and Mushroom salad with poached egg

Handful baby spinach
5 snow peas, chopped
1 roma tomato, chopped
Handful button mushrooms
1 egg
1 lamb leg steak
Handful garlic bagelettes

2 tbs lemon thyme olive oil
1/2 tbs red wine vinegar
Pinch brown sugar
Salt and pepper

Lightly saute the mushrooms in some butter or olive oil (or to be healthier, just a spray of olive oil)
Poach the egg
While the egg and mushrooms are cooking, place spinach, snow peas and tomato in a bowl or plate.
Make the dressing
Reheat the lamb and slice into thin strips. Place on top of spinach.
Add the mushrooms.
Drizzle dressing over salad.
Top with bagelettes and poached egg.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

New Baby!!!! - Fiori di Sicilia Muffins

FattyBoomBah finally decided to pop out her baby! This time she managed to go all the way to 38 weeks (last time she only managed 34 weeks!) A gorgeous little boy with lots of thick dark hair has joined our menagerie of children!
It is customary for us to provide baked goods to the mother of a newborn whilst they are in hospital. The breast feeding at midnight (and 1 am, and 2 am and 3am......) can make you very very hungry, so I thought muffins would be good. They fill you up without being too sweet and sugary. I also needed to try one of my very new and very exciting purchases, and muffins were a good way to test it.
A few months ago, I found a baking magazine put out by King Arthur Flour in a local newsagent. King Arthur Flour is a baking supplies company located in Vermont, USA, so I was quite (pleasantly) surprised to see their magazine so close to home! I actually visited them about 6 years ago - I was visiting my brother, who was living in Vermont at the time, and my sister-in-law took me there. At the time, I didn't realise the potential of the place, so unfortunately, I didn't make the most of it with lots of interesting purchases!
They have a fabulous range of baking supplies - things like speciality flours, ingredients and pre-mixes, as well as baking equipment. Of course, being on the other side of the world makes it ridiculously expensive to have their products delivered (not to mention half of them are banned from importation in Australia), but I did find two little items that I couldn't resist. One is maple flavour - not syrup, flavour. I have been looking for this in Australia for a couple of years and have not been able to find it, so I was quite excited to see it. The other was a flavouring called Fiori di Sicilia, which is a combination of vanilla and citrus. The people from King Arthur Flour raved about it in their magazine, and I was swayed by their sales pitch! So I spoke with AQIS to make sure I could import it (and the maple flavour) and so a couple of weeks later it arrived!
I thought a basic muffin recipe would be a good place to test it out as there are not a lot of competing flavours, and it turned out fabulous! It's very subtle but you can definitely notice something. You can't necessarily identify exactly what the flavour is, but it gave the muffins a real zing!

This is the basic recipe. If you can get your hands on the flavouring, go for it!
Basic Choc Chip Muffins
2 cups (300g) self raising flour
2/3 cup (150g) caster sugar
3/4 cup (140g) white choc chips
1/3 cup (80g) dark choc chips
60g butter, melted
3/4 cup (180ml) milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 tsp fiori di sicilia

Preheat oven to 190 C. Grease 3 x 12 hole mini muffin pans.
Mix all ingredients together. (Who doesn't love that line in a recipe!)
Spoon mixture into prepared pans. Bake for 15 minutes or until a skewer in the centre comes out clean.