Tuesday 31 January 2012

Beef Hot Pot

Another great one to share with everyone, even if baby’s version does look a little like cat food! I promise it doesn’t taste like it, as far as I’m aware! Again, you can substitute ingredients for those in your fridge if you’d like, and change the herbs, flavourings as desired.


extra lean beef mince

leeks – chopped

sweet potato – half cubed, half sliced

parsnips – cubed


flour / cornflour


grated cheese


Add a little unsalted butter or low fat oil to the pan and fry off the leeks, sweet potato cubes and parsnips.

Remove from the pan and fry off the mince until browned all over. Pop the thyme, dried or fresh, over the mince.

Add the vegetables back to the pan.  Sprinkle everything with a little flour or cornflour and stir in.

Cover everything with hot water until the vegetables are just submerged, then cover with a lid (a piece of foil will do!) and leave for at least 20 minutes. The vegetables need to be soft. If you’re not sure, stick a knife into one of the biggest pieces to check.


Once cooked, baby’s dinner is now ready.


Depending on which stage of weaning you’re at, either use a hand blender to mush baby’s portions until smooth, or simply mash with a fork. You can then freeze in individual portions.



Steam or briefly boil the sweet potato slices. I popped mine in the microwave with a little water for a few minutes.

Crumble a beef stock cube into the meat and vegetables pan and stir through. If you like it spicy, either add some hot smoked paprika or a few chilli flakes.

Transfer the whole mixture to an oven-proof dish and cover with overlapping sweet potato circles. Grate cheese on top if you’d like.


At this point, you can leave to cool and freeze if you’d like or pop into an oven ay 180 degrees for about 25 minutes as everything is already hot and cooked through.

Or you can refrigerate it over night: I made one on Saturday to eat on Monday evening. To reheat, pop into a hot oven (180) covered, for about 30-40 minutes, then uncovered for the cheese to brown for the last 10 minutes.


Thursday 26 January 2012

One-pot chicken stew – for baby and you…

This is the first of the ‘meat’ recipes I tried for weaning as I thought that chicken is quite bland on its own, so there’s really nothing not to like. I combined it with tried and tested flavours, including something sweet, and herbs to give it some decent flavour. Then I crossed my fingers!

The recipe is incredibly simple and something you can prepare in about 10 minutes, then leave to cook until you’re ready. It’s also something that you can easily adapt, for example, substituting the parsnip for squash, or the pear for apple: simply use whatever's in your cupboard or fridge. there really is no excuse that there isn’t enough time on this one. If it helps, why not buy bags of ready prepared vegetables, such as cubed carrots and parsnips?

Those of you who read regularly will know I very rarely add quantities to my ingredients list as with many of my recipes, you can simply use as much or as little as you like according to taste.



parsnips / squash / carrots


chicken (the best quality you can afford)



grated pear / apple


First, peel and cube the veg. Use just one or a variety of the above. Cut the broccoli into small florets. Skin the chicken and cube.

Add a small spoon of either unsalted butter or light cooking oil (such as rapeseed) to the frying pan or wok and turn on the heat to medium – hot.

Fry off the leeks and veg until beginning to soften. Remove from pan.

Fry off chicken until beginning to brown, then add the veg back to the pan. Turn down to low – medium heat.

Sprinkle some herbs (I used thyme) and pepper over, add the grated fruit and pour over hot water until all the ingredients are just submerged.

Leave to simmer until veg are soft and chicken is cooked through. Obviously, the smaller you cube ingredients, the quicker this will be. I’d say for about 20 minutes.

When everything is cooked through, this is the point at which you split the mixture into baby and adult portions. If you prefer your veg a little crunchy, simply remove your portion and continue to cook baby’s until soft. When done, meter out as much as you’d like to blend for baby. Try to include some of each ingredient and a few spoonfuls of stock from the pan as this will make it easier to blend.


Depending on which stage of weaning you’re at, either use a hand blender to mush baby’s portions until smooth, or simply cut the chicken into small pieces and mash the rest with a fork. You can then freeze in individual portions.



This recipe is tasty just as it is, but for a little extra flavour, stir in a stock cube or a little salt and more pepper. If you’d like, add a sprinkle of chilli flakes too. Serve with brown rice for a super-healthy dinner!


(I usually like to add a few pictures to posts, but we ate it before I remembered! Will post if I remake!)


Sunday 22 January 2012

Recipes to share with your baby…

Those of you who are regular readers will know that nearly 7 months ago, I had a baby. This has led to a severe dearth of blog posts, generally due to lack of time! It has also, sadly, led to a considerable drop in the quality and quantity of home-cooked meals.

I’ve never been one to buy jars and packets, always preferring to begin from scratch, believing that it’s a healthier and cheaper option. Also, often quicker, I know, but despite this, I have rarely cooked anything of note from start to finish in the last few months. Now, however, my baby is eating, and by eating I mean, stuffing her face with anything she can get her hands on. I wanted to wait until she was 6 months to use the baby-led weaning approach ( a la My Daddy Cooks), but was advised, since she was premature and still so small, to wean her early, therefore I decided the mushy food route would be a good start, with finger foods thrown in along the way.

We’ve been ‘eating’ now for 10 weeks, and began with pureed sweet potato. I found she enjoyed it more if she also had a spoon, so when I say ‘eating’ what, perhaps, might be better descriptions are: painting her face; having a food fight; dying her hair…well, you get the picture!


Very quickly we worked our way through other fruits and veg, including finger sticks of ripe fruits, steamed veg, rice cakes and rusks and as soon as she was 6 months, moved onto everything else. Full meals, with herbs and spices, still pureed but far more tasty. And what I found was that I soon began cooking again. While making chicken stew, I kept some aside for us and after removing baby’s portion, added a little salt, a few chilli flakes and served with brown rice…it was remarkably yummy! I’ve done that several times in the last few weeks and each time, the result has been a hearty, family meal. Little Frankie has wolfed down everything and so has my husband. I began by looking at several ‘weaning’ recipes, include those from Annabel Karmel, and adapted them to what I actually had in the fridge. I really used them as an idea, to see the types of flavours that might appeal.

So, the next few posts will be recipes for, literally, all the family! I’ll be making a chicken stew, cod bake and minced beef hotpot, along with some old favourites, such as cauliflower cheese, and showing how easily you can adapt them from ‘baby-mush’ to grown up food.

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