mini veggie pasties

My little Jack goes off with Nanny on a Friday (currently, it was Thursday) so he has a fun day with swimming lessons at the moment and I get to catch up on jobs around the house (it’s so much easier to hoover/hang washing/clean the bathroom without a toddler following you around!). And I make him up a little pack lunch, there’s one problem my not really fussy little boy just doesn’t eat sandwiches, he doesn’t like cheese or eat ham, he’ll occasionally eat a tuna sweetcorn wrap but not sandwich, no filling between bread. So instead I try to keep a stash of savoury muffins and pasties in the freezer for him.

The River Cottage Baby and Toddler cookbook has a great recipe for double potato pies, with regular potato, sweet potato and sweetcorn filling but with an empty freezer and only half a sweet potato in I decided to make up my own mixed veg version.

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what we’ve been eating…

I’ve been having a mini discussion on Facebook about meal planning after I posted this picture on Instagram of my slightly excessive organisation of the freezer contents and thought that I’d write about it here too.

IMG_20140905_154404I shop for a 3/4 week period, usually doing a shop for a couple of days then the big online shop a few days later when I receive some money. We have a chest freezer in our cellar and it’s made life so much easier as previously with only the little 2 shelf freezer I had to shop every few days and couldn’t easily batch cook.

Online food shopping is great because I can start to add things to the basket as we run out and then go through with ideas for meals jumping from department to department, keeping an eye on the total. It also means that I don’t have to leave the sofa and precariously balance everything on a pushchair to get home!

I don’t plan exactly what meals we’ll have, just have some ideas, as we get our vegetables from Woodhouse Farm still and never quite know what we’ll get and it’s hard to know 4 weeks in advance what your plans are.

So this month we have eaten…

Setember 1st – 7th
Monday: Beef enchiladas with salad and guacamole
Tuesday: Sausage whorls with roasted Mediterranean vegetables and potatoes
Wednesday: (dinner out)
Thursday: Ginger and lime chicken with rice and vegetables
Friday:Pork chorizo burgers with cooked tomato salsa
Saturday:Pasta bolognaise (a huge batch made that created 2 lasagnes to freeze)
Sunday: Beef casserole with Yorkshire puddings, mash potatoes and vegetables

September 8th – 14th
Monday: Bangers and mash with vegetables
Tuesday: Fishcakes with minty potatoes and vegetables
Wednesday: Baked potatoes with chilli con carne (chilli from the freezer)
Thursday: (dinner out)~
Friday: Saag paneer with rice and naan
Saturday: Bean casserole with toast and cheese
Sunday: (dinner out)

September 15th – 21st
Monday: Pulled pork wraps with tomato and pepper salsa and yogurt
Tuesday: Lasagne and garlic bread (lasagne from the freezer)
Wednesday: Stir-fried sweet and sour beef, veg and noodles
Thursday: Aubergine and courgette risotto with salmon
Friday: Corned beef hash with baked beans
Saturday: Spicy lentil and chickpeas in tomatoes with cous cous
Sunday: Baked potatoes with cheese sauce and bacon and vegetables

September 22nd – 28th
Monday: Chinese style pork belly and egg friend rice
Tuesday: Spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread (meatballs from freezer)
Wednesday: Roast chicken dinner (as Phil’s not been here on Sunday’s)
Thursday: Homemade pizza using leftover chicken
Friday: Lentil and vegetable pasta bake (with lentil bolognaise from freezer)
Saturday: Cassoulet with crusty bread
Sunday: Mushroom risotto with extra vegetables and crispy bacon

The days in italics are when Phil’s not here this month and we can eat anything as I don’t have to accommodate his ‘fussy’ eating. I’m quite impressed that there are 25 different dinners there, yes several are pasta based and there are a couple of risottos and 2 baked potatoes but with different flavours.
The non-meat dinners that myself and Jack are eating whilst Phil’s away are mostly leftover when we’ve eaten all the meat out of them as I’ve been putting anything that’s portion sized in the freezer.
And I’ve been enjoying not having to think up dinner everyday and have been remembering to take the meat out the freezer the night before too.

How about you, do you meal plan? Weekly? Fortnightly? Monthly?

 

 

babywearing is awesome!

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For Jack’s arrival we had a travel system all ready with it’s carrycot, car seat and stroller options and despite Jack seemingly never wanting to leave my arms he was actually quite good at being pushed around in it, he’d even sleep! But apart from doing the food shopping when the large basket was very useful, it’s really quite bulky for getting in and out of some of the smaller shops and cafes in Lichfield and I felt disconnected especially when we swapped to the stroller which isn’t parent facing.

Having a velcro baby that barely would be put down for 10 minutes was hard, although I welcomed the times I’d sit on the sofa with a newborn Jack asleep in my arms as a lovely chance to rest and close my eyes myself, when he got bigger I started to want to do some other things or even just get the washing up done and tidy up a bit!

It was then that I started to think about getting a sling, I’d been given instructions and rings to make a ring sling. But after making it, I just couldn’t use it comfortably. Partly because the information with it gave instructions for a cradle carry which always meant that I’d have Jack’s feet digging into my hip bone, he never look comfortable and unless I was still holding him to take some of his weight it wasn’t really much use.
I’ve since learnt that the cradle hold in a ring sling isn’t recommend as can put baby’s chin on their chest blocking their airways and I’ve found much better ways at using the ring sling with baby upright, especially with a hip carry.

Next stop on my babywearing adventure was a woven wrap thanks to seeing two lovely ladies on my instagram feed wearing their babies. And this is where I fell in love with babywearing.

I purchased a Colimacon et Cie Miel et Malice size 6 wrap in a my favourite turquoise colour from here and waited for the post to arrive.

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I quickly learnt to get him in a front carry ( I think this is a simple front carry from the excess of wrap to tie) and yay look, two free hands, I could do things again!

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carrot and sweet potato soup

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I would start this post with ‘Now Autumn is on it’s way it’s the perfect season for soup’ but I really like soup and I’ve been eating (drinking/slurping) it through the summer months too. Though now the weather is beginning to get cooler I’ve been ‘teaching’ Jack to eat his with a spoon, I say teaching it’s more give him a spoon and let him get on with it and most of the time he tries to eat it with his hands, but he has learnt to dip his bread into the bowl.

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This week I made carrot and sweet potato soup, the orange, sweet tasting vegetables usually going down with Jack especially as he’s particularly fond of carrots currently. I prefer my soups smooth, otherwise I think I get confused whether I need to chew or slurp, plus I don’t have to chop anything into bite sized pieces, just roughly chop!

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sausage whorls and roasted vegetables

If I had the money to I’d do all my shopping in Waitrose, I like how the shelves aren’t piled up to the ceiling, the dark green branding isn’t over powering, the staff are always friendly and you get free tea! Along with the bread (best supermarket loaf I think) I really like their meat, I usually buy meat in the supermarket 3 for £10 sections as it usually makes my money go further and Waitrose always have a more interesting selection especially in the summer months when their barbecue meats are included.

This week, thanks to some £3 off £10 vouchers I’d been emailed, I  picked up some BBQ thin beef steaks which I cut into strips and with some peppers, tomatoes and onions turned into enchilada filling, and these chorizo sausage whorls  I’ve also now learnt that a whorls is a spiral or circular pattern.

As I wasn’t going to barbecue them, I’m not sure I’m allowed to touch the barbeque, I decided to create a sort of Mediterranean style bake, here’s what I did.

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my introduction into quilting or crafting with a baby

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When Jack was just a couple of months old my mum sent me this crazy lady’s video of jelly roll quilting. I brought 2 Moda jelly rolls pretty much straight away, this which is called Comma and another (further down) which is Twenty Three, the buying bit was easy with a feeding or sleeping baby on me the laptop was usually in easy reach!

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It took until August to get sewing, at this point, Jack was nearly 6 months old and could be distracted and occupied enough by by sister for a couple of hours at a time. I think I managed to get all the strips joined and half of the folding and stitching to join it as a quilt. I think this was the first time I’d done anything for months that was just for me and I really enjoyed thinking about something quite frivolous.

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family dinners: sausage and bean casserole

When I was growing up one of the meals I would really enjoy was the cassoulet that my parents would cook in the slow cooker. You’d know from the smell wafting upstairs that we’d be eating soft, slow cooked sausages and pork in rich tomato sauce packed full of beans and usually served with crusty french stick.
As a student on a budget I’d make my own sort of cassoulet with sausages and beans as it was a good dish for freezing leftovers.
Now as I cook for Phil (who really doesn’t like beans) and Jack (who loves beans) I make a sort of cassoulet that is more a sausage and bean casserole as I add lots of vegetables and put less beans in than I would otherwise.
I think it’s one of Jack’s favourites especially as it usually accompanied by cous cous, it’s quick to throw together and once we’ve eaten the sausages and portions of sauce for dinner the leftover beans and tomato sauce makes for posh beans on toast!

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family dinners: beef casserole

I like to think that we eat well on a reasonable budget. I’m not one for meal planning as I can guarantee that I won’t want to eat what is marked for dinner on Wednesday when Wednesday comes around. Then because I can’t drive I’m limited in what I can get on the pushchair to get home (and get round the supermarket in a basket too!) So I’ve got a system of getting a big online food order delivered at the beginning of the month filling the freezer with a vague idea of meals we may eat and then making it up from there! I end up shopping for fresh food every 3 or 4 days ( 1 year olds get through a lot of milk!) but I’m getting better at not buying too many treats!

We always have food in to make some staple meals and stews and casseroles are one of them especially with dumplings. Now we eat our I find meals like this are good for days when Jack and I are out in the morning as I can cook while Jack eats breakfast and pop the casserole dish in the oven on low (as Phil is home working otherwise a slow cooker would be more sensible), then when we return home Jack has a nap and I sort the veg and dumplings ready for when he wakes up.

So the recipe:

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a first birthday cake

Four days after his birthday Jack finally got to have his first taste of cake. He’d tried biscuits, fruit crumble and sponge pudding but I had made sure that the first cake he was going to eat was his first birthday cake. Then since Phil was out all day on his birthday, cake had to wait a couple more days.

However waiting meant that he got to share his birthday cake with family and have an even bigger cake than I was originally thinking!

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I was going to make a plan or template but at the last minute I just decided to make a 7 egg batch of chocolate sponge and fill a 7″ square tin and a rectangular roasting tray, bake the cakes and work out how on earth I would make a one out of it in the morning!

Which as it turned out wasn’t too hard…

partstogetherSee, simply cut, layer the two sandwiches of the cake together with a bit of buttercream and arrange on the cake board.
Roughly crumb coated in more butter cream then neatened up with a second layer (after a quick trip to the corner shop because I’d ran out of icing sugar!) And then stripes of mini smarties that I’d separated by colour the evening before.

It was nothing fancy but went down very well with the birthday boy!

I wonder what he’ll want next year?

BLW and why we’ve loved it so much

Jack has just turned one which means he’s been eating solid food for just over 6 months, in that time he’s gone from picking up, looking at and pulling faces at pieces of vegetables and fruit, realising that it is nice and he can chew and swallow it, to now pretty much eating anything and I mean anything!

We’ve followed the ‘new’ baby led weaning (BLW), though I can’t imagine the first humans spooning puree into the babies mouth with an aeroplane motion! The basic idea is that you start at 6 months when they can sit unaided, have lost their tongue thrust reflex, and put things to their mouths, Jack met all 3 of these around 2 weeks before he was 6 months. The baby is in control, if they want to eat they eat, if they don’t well you try to shrug your shoulders and not worry about the wasted food (or eat the untouched bits yourself!) There’s also the whole thing about not worrying if they don’t seem to have eaten any vegetables all day and to try and think about it being a balanced diet over a week. And to eat as a family all with the same food, this way baby sees and learns what to do and dinner time become a social activity.
Family dinners are something I remember well from my childhood, all sitting around the kitchen table for a home cooked meal and is definitely something to continue with my son. To make our dinners baby friendly was fairly simple as I’ve always cooked the majority of our food from scratch, I switched to low salt stock cubes, stopped adding salt to season whilst cooking and started adding more veg to meals. Which as a result means we now eat healthier and I now even have breakfast just about everyday.

At first it’s frustrating, most of the food ends up on the floor, or has a face pulled at the taste of it. Jack would get frustrated when he couldn’t pick something up and get it in his mouth and would easily give up. Especially with the combination of him having no routine to his day until somewhere between 8 and 9 months, the guess work in trying to work out when to cook and then eat, around him when he napped irregularly and only on me was impossible! But as he learnt to eat and started having 3 meals it all started clicking into place and we naturally found a routine of sorts and Jack started to eat more and more.

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We started by offering him bits of the vegetables we were having at dinner as he wasn’t quite 6 months, one of the first full meals he had was a roast chicken dinner, really enjoying sucking on a piece of chicken as he still had no teeth! Not a lot would be swallowed at first but he enjoyed the taste and the texture of different foods.
As his fine motor skills started to develop he got better at picking things up, he enjoys eating plain dipped in milk shreddies for breakfast, and working out the texture of foods, he can pick up clumps of porridge without just squishing it through his fingers (Though he still does that just to make a mess!). He’s now quite happy picking up individual peas to eat and handfuls of bolognaise to push into his mouth and will eat just about anything as long as it’s not cucumber or lettuce, there just about the only foods he won’t eat.
He currently loves tomatoes, cashew butter, cauliflower and raisins, oh and bread.

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Messy but fun!

Why have I loved weaning this way?

  1. I’ve not had to do any extra cooking, I’d generally cook a meal every day anyway so it was never any extra effort.
  2. Jack has eaten everything we have, even the ‘grown up’ food like prawns, mussels, squid, duck, game meats, and has tried them all. (He really likes prawns just like me!)
  3. We can go out to eat and give him bits of what we’re eating, no taking around his dinners when we’re out for the day. (Pizza Express pizza has gone down well several times!)
  4. We all sit together to eat, we do have the advantage of Phil working from home so can often eat our main meal at lunchtime but eating together means no ones dinner goes cold.
  5. He would have had to learn to feed himself making a mess in the process sometime so it may as well have been sooner than later!

Why Jack has loved being introduced to fun this way?

  1. He gets to join in, it’s noticeable how much better he eats when we are all round the table to when it’s just the two of us.
  2. He gets to try everything. So much so that if someone is eating he expects to too!