Halloween Macaroni

Can anyone truly resist macaroni cheese?! The sauce for this recipe is secretly loaded with squash which not only makes it perfect for getting reluctant veggie eaters to crank up their 5-a-day consumption but it’s also fantastic to use up all the flesh from your Halloween pumpkin later this month. You can make the sauce a few days ahead which makes it perfect for weekday evenings or when you have a hoard of kids to feed.

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Feeds 2 adults and 2 kids

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500g peeled and roughly chopped squash

500ml vegetable stock

3 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole

50g butter

50g cheddar cheese plus 100g for the top

1-2tsp Dijon mustard

250g macaroni 

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Preheat the oven to 220°C.

Place the butternut, stock and garlic in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20minutes until the squash is tender. Add the butter, 50g cheddar and mustard. Allow it to melt and then remove and place in a blender. Blitz into a smooth sauce. 

Meanwhile cook the pasta for just 6 minutes and drain.

Place the pasta in a large ovenproof dish. Top with the sauce and then sprinkle over the remaining cheese. Place in the oven for 15minutes or until golden and bubbling. Serve immediately. [Note: if making ahead then keep the sauce and pasta separate otherwise the pasta will start absorbing the sauce in the fridge and the final dish will end up dr

Coconut Veggie Curry

I can’t get enough of this creamy coconut curry at the moment. It smells incredible and feels both wonderfully comforting yet virtuous and wholesome with so many veggies and spices. It works equally well using squash, potato, cauliflower or aubergine as the main veggie and for anyone weaning its also fantastic blended down to a rough purée for babies’ first tastes. All in all you need this in your week- especially if you are vegan or looking to try more meat free days.

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Serves 2 adults and 2 children

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2 tbsp sunflower oil

choose a veg or your choice and cut into 1-inch chunks:

2 large aubergines or 6-8 Asian aubergines/ 1 small cauliflower/ 2 potatoes/ 1 squash or 1 small pumpkin

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp curry leaves, roughly chopped [optional]


For the curry paste:

1 red onion, roughly chopped 

15g prepped ginger, roughly chopped 

3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped 

1 tbsp curry powder

1 tsp ground turmeric

2 tsp tamarind purée 

1 tbsp tomato purée


200ml tomato passata

1 x 400ml tin coconut milk 

1 x tin chickpeas, drained

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Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the veg of your choice and fry for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, put all the curry paste ingredients in a food processor and blitz to a paste.

After 5 minutes add the cumin seeds and curry leaves (if using) to the frying veg and continue to fry for a minute before adding the paste. Cook for 2 minutes and then add the passata and coconut milk. Bring to the boil and then cook on a low simmer for 30minutes. Add the drained chickpeas and cook for another 10 minutes. Serve with my 2-ingredient flatbread or rice...or both

Veggie Bolognese

This is so delicious and so packed with goodness that you will feel particularly wonderful when you see your kids tucking in! I try not to ‘sneak in veg’  as its important that children want to enjoy vegetables in their own right but I guess this is a hidden veg sauce if ever there was one! It also makes a delicious soup if you want a lighter meal but remember it won’t feed quite so many.

Note: make a bigger batch and freeze for quick meals when you are short on time.

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1 onion (approx. 120g), roughly chopped

1 carrot (approx. 110g), roughly chopped

6-8 chestnut mushrooms (75g), roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

½ sprig rosemary, leaves picked

2 tbsp water

½ cup (100g) red lentils

2 tbsp tomato puree

2 tbsp olive oil

400g tomato passata

400g vegetable stock or water

25g parmesan cheese, finely grated

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 Place the onion, carrot, mushrooms, tomato puree, garlic, rosemary and water in a food processor and blitz down until roughly chopped. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan and add the chopped vegetables. Cook for 5 minutes over a medium heat before adding the lentils, passata and stock. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes. Add the parmesan and cook for a further 5 minutes before removing and serving immediately or blitzing down into a smoother sauce- whichever your family prefer.

Courgette + Feta Bake

This dish was born from some unsuccessful fritters which proves that sometimes mistakes are work making. Its tastes like some kind of summer version of bubble + squeak and the girls adore it with mini sausages (who doesn't?!) and my husband and I have the rest with salad and crusty bread. Its also great the next day as i just found out....

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Makes enough for 2 adults and 2 children.

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900g grated courgette, squeezed dry with 1/2 tsp salt (optional)

4 spring onions, roughly chopped

3 garlic cloves, crushed

3 eggs

1 tbsp mild curry powder

120g self -raising flour

200g feta cheese, crumbled

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Preheat the oven to 200oC and line a large circular ovenproof dish with baking parchment. Set aside.

Place the spring onions, garlic, eggs, curry powder and flour in a food processor and blitz until you have a rough batter. Remove and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the grated + squeezed courgette and the crumbled feta cheese. Stir to combine and then transfer into your prepared dish. Place in the oven for 30-35 minutes until set and starting to go golden. Remove and leave to cool for 10-15minutes before serving. 

Egg-Fried Rice

Egg-fried rice is one of my favourite family dinners because its just so easy to throw together plus you can use just about any veggies (or chicken) you have in the fridge and its comforting but healthy all at the same time! The quantity below makes enough for two hungry children but I often double it up and it feeds me, my husband and our two small children. 

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Serves 2 hungry children or one adult

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75g basmati rice

1 tbsp oil

1 spring onion, finely sliced

50g chestnut mushrooms, finely sliced

50g frozen peas

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp rice wine vinegar

1/4 tsp sesame oil

1 egg, beaten  

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Cook the rice as per manufacturers instructions and drain. Heat the oil in a wok and add the spring onion and mushrooms. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until the mushrooms are golden. Add the peas followed by the cooked rice, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil. Give everything a good stir and cook for a couple of minutes so the rice starts to 'fry.' Now push the mixture up the sides of the wok to make a round space in the centre. Crack the egg into the centre and draw a little rice into the egg. Leave it to cook for 10 seconds before gently moving everything about again. Cook for another minute and then serve. [Note: by cooking the egg this way you get wonderful little pieces of egg through the fried rice rather than an eggy, sludgy rice mush!]

 

 

 

Oven-Baked Pumpkin Risotto

This is literally the easiest risotto you will EVER make! Turn the oven on and pop it in. Voila. I developed this recipe just to make a quick meal for my daughter whilst we were busy playing so the quantities below will only feed two small or one larger child but just increase as suits and you have a fantastic dinner for all the family.

[Tip: you can use any root vegetable in place of the pumpkin puree- butternut squash and beetroot are my favourites.] 

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Makes enough for 2 small children or 1 larger child

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2 tbsp risotto rice

6 tbsp water

1 garlic clove, peeled but left whole

100g pumpkin puree 

10g cheddar cheese or Parmesan

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Preheat the oven to 200oC and prepare an oven proof dish. Put the rice, water and garlic in the dish and put to the lid on. Place in the oven for 20minutes.

After 20 minutes remove and stir through the pumpkin puree and cheese. Place back in the oven for 8-10 minutes or until piping hot throughout. Serve with some extra cheese.

Pumpkin & Coconut Soup

This soup is delicious for all ages, ridiculously versatile and freezes fantastically. The recipe here makes a hearty adult portion or two kids' portions but just increase the quantities as suits. You can add whatever you want to make it more filling- my daughters like it with noodles to slurp up (and sometimes chicken for added protein) but I've also had it with roasted cauliflower and chickpeas or with spiralled courgettes and prawns.

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Makes 2 kids or one adult portion

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200g pumpkin puree

200ml full fat coconut milk

3-4 tsp soy sauce

2 heaped tsp peanut butter

2 tsp turmeric

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Put all in the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and whisk everything together. Once heated through remove from the heat and serve.

Creamy Pea Risotto

This recipe is absolutely delicious and please don't think that because its a risotto its too time consuming. I cook the rice in vegetable stock for 20-25minutes (no stirring required) whilst I'm busy doing something else and the pea puree takes 2 minutes to blitz down in a food processor. I pop everything in the fridge and reheat at dinner time which makes it a stress free and super quick dinner when there are hungry, demanding tummies around!

BLW Tip: blitz the cooked risotto down for 30 seconds and mould into small balls for little hands to grab hold of.

Serves 2 adults and 1-2 small children

50g butter

150g arborio rice

1 small onion, finely diced

600ml vegetable stock

50g Parmesan (or vegetarian alternative), finely grated

75g peas, defrosted

6 fresh mint leaves

zest and juice of 1/2 lemon

for the pea puree:

1 x pea and basil pesto recipe

150g peas, defrosted (or one pre-frozen portion of pea puree)

1 garlic clove, roughly chopped

50g mascarpone cheese, optional

1/4 tsp salt, optional

freshly ground black pepper

Place a medium saucepan on the heat and melt 30g butter before adding the rice and onion. Cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes- [Note: make sure the heat is not too high otherwise the liquid will evaporate too quickly.]

Meanwhile, in a food processor blitz down the pesto ingredients along with the extra peas and garlic (plus the mascarpone and salt, if using). Remove and set to one side or chill if preparing ahead of time.

After 20-25 minutes of the rice cooking, add the parmesan, peas, remaining 20g butter, lemon zest and juice and the pea puree. Stir through and bring to the boil. Turn off the heat and cover for 5 minutes to allow everything to melt in. Serve immediately with plenty of extra Parmesan.

if preparing ahead: place the cooked rice in a container and chill immediately. 

for adults and older children: add 1/4 tsp salt  to the final risotto plus some extra lemon zest and fresh mint. A sprinkling of crispy pancetta also goes down a treat with meat eaters!

Super Quick Macaroni Cheese

This is so quick and easy you will be amazed-  using single cream in place of a classic béchamel sounds a bit naughty and extravagant but it actually makes the whole dish much lighter and a whole lot quicker! I have used blitzed down cauliflower, along with breadcrumbs, for the topping because firstly its a fantastic way to sneak in some veggies and also because everyone knows cheese and cauliflower are delicious!

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Serves 2 adults and 1-2 small children

150g macaroni

for the sauce:

1 garlic clove, crushed

285ml single cream

20g cheddar cheese, grated

20g Parmesan (or vegetarian alternative), grated

1 sprig thyme

1 tsp Dijon mustard

125g mozzarella cheese

for the topping:

20g Parmesan (or vegetarian alternative), grated

20g panko breadcrumbs

150g cauliflower, cut into bitesize florets

Preheat the oven to 200oC. In a medium saucepan cook the macaroni for 5 minutes and then drain and place in a medium ovenproof dish. Meanwhile,  for the sauce, place the ingredients in a blender and blitz down until smooth. Pour over the pasta and set aside

For the topping: put the parmesan, breadcrumbs and cauliflower in a food processor and blitz down until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Scatter evenly over the pasta and sauce and then place in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden and bubbling. Serve immediately.

just for adults: add 1/4 tsp salt to both the sauce and topping

 

Sweet Potato Laksa

Laksa is a delicious, fragrant Asian soup that we eat on a regular basis. The sauce takes minutes to prepare in a blender with no need to pre-cook the sweet potato and the result is a wonderfully vibrant dish packed with super healthy sweet potato, broccoli and spinach so the whole family will be full of energy!

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Serves 2 adults and 1-2 small children 

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2 tsp mild curry powder

300g sweet potato (prepped weight), cut into 1-cm dice

2-3 garlic cloves, peeled

10g fresh ginger (prepped weight) roughly chopped

2 tsp fresh coriander stalks, roughly chopped

2 spring onions, roughly chopped

400ml coconut milk

200ml vegetable stock or water

1-2 tbsp reduced salt soy sauce

2 tsp peanut butter

juice of 1/2 lime

1 tbsp sunflower oil

100g broccoli, cut into small florets

25g spinach

100g diced cooked sweet potato, optional

100g egg noodles

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Place the first 11 ingredients in a blender and blitz down until you have a thick sauce. Remove and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook the curry. When ready to eat place the noodles in a heat proof bowl and cover in boiling water for 5 minutes before draining and setting aside. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan and add the broccoli. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes before adding the spinach and cooked sweet potato cubes (if using) and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Add the drained noodles and the sauce. Bring everything to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

early weaning puree: once everything is cooked remove 120g and blitz down. Freeze half and serve the rest to your little one.

for adults or older children: serve scattered with fresh coriander, spring onions and freshly chopped red chillies

 

 

Frying-Pan Pizza

Once you've made pizza this way you won't turn back! This recipe makes four generous toddler size pizzas but you can easily vary the size and toppings according to preference. The dough is extremely straightforward and requires only 2 minutes kneading! You can also portion up the dough and freeze for later- very handy for adult snacks too!

for the dough:

100g 00 flour

1/4tsp dried yeast

60ml water

1tbsp olive oil

for the tomato sauce:

2 tsp olive oil

12 cherry tomatoes

2 garlic clove

60ml water

for the pesto (optional):

15g basil

10g Parmesan

5 pine nut

1/2tsp lemon

2 tbsp olive oil

To serve: 

4 bitesize balls of mozzarella

Combine all the dough ingredients. Knead for 1 minute until the dough comes together in a neat ball. Cover and leave for 15 minutes. Return to the dough and knead for a further 1-2minutes and then leave for a minimum of 4 hours and a maximum of 48! [Note: at this point you can portion up the dough and freeze individually]

For the sauce: heat the oil in a small frying pan and add the tomatoes and garlic. Stir for one minute and then add the water. Continue to cook for 5 minutes or until the tomatoes have broken down and the water has evaporated.

For the pesto: place all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz down. Taste and add a little more lemon if you want. Easy!

For the pizza: preheat your grill to the highest setting. Divide your dough into 4 small balls. Place a small frying pan on a high heat and don't add any oil. Using your hands push one of the balls of dough into a disc about 12-cm wide. Once the frying pan is piping hot place the disc carefully in it. Spread a quarter of the tomato sauce over the centre leaving a 1-cm wide border. Break up the mozzarella and place on top of the tomato. Finally, drizzle pesto over the pizza. After 1-2 minutes on the heat the bottom of the pizza should be brown and toasted. Place straight under the grill for 1-2 minutes until golden and the cheese is bubbling. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

 

15-minute Pea & Ricotta Gnocchi

Traditional potato gnocchi is renowned of being a bit tricky but this ricotta based recipe is pretty much failsafe and so quick you won't believe it! The recipe itself is a combination of gnocchi and the lesser known but wonderful Tuscan dumpling named 'gnudi.' Regardless, they are absolutely delicious and my whole family would easily eat a mountain of them any day.

Serves 2 adults and 1-2 small children

200g ricotta cheese

2 egg yolks

25g Parmesan cheese

25g fresh or frozen peas, cooked

25g fresh spinach

zest 1/2 lemon

50g plain or 00 flour

Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to the boil.

Meanwhile, place all the ingredients, apart from the flour, in a food processor and blitz until you have a smooth light green paste. Remove and place in a large bowl. Add the flour and using a wooden spoon or spatula stir through until combined- try not to over work the mixture otherwise you will get tough gnocchi. Lightly flour your hands and then remove half the mixture from the bowl and roll into a sausage with an approximately 1-inch diameter. Using a knife cut into 2-cm gnocchi and place to one side on a lined baking tray. Repeat with the second half of the mixture.

By this time your water should be boiling. Using a slotted spoon drop 4 gnocchi into the water at a time and wait until they float back up to the top (1-3 minutes) before removing onto the other side of your lined baking tray. Repeat with all the gnocchi. Once they are all cooked you can either serve straight away [drizzled with olive oil or my pea pesto and extra Parmesan] or, chill for a couple of days and reheat in the oven [add extra grated parmesan on top and place in the oven for 8 minutes at 200oC- serve drizzled with olive oil or pea pesto and even more Parmesan]. 

Basic Squash Risotto

Risotto is a great meal for little ones as you can chuck just about any vegetable in and coupled with the creamy taste and texture of the rice you have a winner!  Some people find it a little daunting but this recipe is extremely straight forward and requires very little attention and minimal stirring. I cook the butternut two ways which makes the final dish more interesting texturally for both kids and adults! 

BLW Tip: blitz the cooked risotto down for 30 seconds and mould into small balls for little hands to grab hold of.


Serves 2 adults and 1-2 small children

500g prepped and diced butternut squash

600ml vegetable stock

3 garlic cloves, peeled but kept whole

50g butter

150g arborio rice

1 small onion, finely diced

50g Parmesan (or vegetarian alternative), finely grated

for the roasted butternut:

400g prepped and diced butternut squash

1 tbsp olive oil

1/4 tsp salt, optional

freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200oC.

In a large saucepan place the butternut, stock and garlic. Bring to the boil and cook for 20minutes or until the butternut can easily be pierced with a cutlery knife. 

Meanwhile, place the butternut for roasting in a medium ovenproof dish and drizzle over the oil, salt (if using) and a good grinding of black pepper. Place in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until tender and golden. 

Check your stock/butternut mixture after 20 minutes- the butternut should be easily 'pierceable'  with a cutlery knife. Remove into a blender and blitz into a smooth liquid. Place the empty saucepan back on the heat and melt 30g butter before adding the rice and onion. Cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the blitzed butternut stock and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent it catching. After this time, add the parmesan, roasted butternut and remaining 20g butter. Turn off the heat and cover for 5 minutes to allow everything to melt in. Serve immediately with plenty of extra Parmesan.

just for adults? add 1/4 tsp salt and a sprinkling of fresh thyme to the final risotto.

Cauliflower Cheese Frittata

This frittata recipe is absolutely delicious and can either be made into mini frittatas (which are fantastic for filling lunch boxes) or alternatively, you can cook one large frittata which makes a great  light supper accompanied by salad and/or some homemade wedges for 2 adults and 1-2 small children.

Makes 12 muffin size frittatas or 1 large frittata

300g cauliflower, cut into small bitesize florets

2 shallots, roughly chopped

1/2 sprig rosemary

4 eggs, beaten

60g self raising flour

1/4 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp dijon mustard

100g cheddar cheese, grated

20g parmesan, grated

butter for greasing

1 tbsp nigella seeds

Preheat the oven to 180oC and grease a muffin tin. Set aside.

Steam 150g cauliflower for 10-15 minutes until easily pierced with a cutlery knife.

Meanwhile, blitz down the other half with the shallots and rosemary in a food processor until it resembles couscous. Remove and place in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, apart from the nigella seeds and steamed cauliflower and stir to combine. Add the steamed cauliflower and lightly break up making sure to keep some florets whole if you can. Using a tablespoon, divide the mixture between the prepared muffin tin and then sprinkle with nigella seeds. Place straight in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until puffed, golden brown and set. Remove and set aside to cool before removing the muffins from the tin.

[Note: due to the high egg content these muffins don't freeze that well- they will keep for 3-4 days in the refrigerator though but we never have a problem getting through a batch]