Cottage Pie (sort of)

I know, I know. I started out with such good intentions, but haven’t actually posted anything for months. In  my defence, I’ve now returned to work…which means I’m dropping, shattered, onto the sofa and staring blankly at the TV screen until bed in the evenings now, rather than  looking up interesting recipes!

The boy is older now, and eating like a horse. Maybe he’s having a growth spurt but I don’t seem able to keep up with his appetite! After and between meals he’s snacking on a lot of bread, cereals, biscuits, hot cross buns – lots of carby foods. This probably doesn’t help with his appetite because these refined carbohydrates are quick releasing – meaning a short burst of energy followed by that tired, hungry feeling…

I need to get him eating lots of lovely protein and complex carbs – which will provide a more sustained source of energy and help him feel fuller for longer.

So today my hubby made him a beefy bolognese with a parsnip and swede mash. Like a cottage pie, sort of.


Organic minced beef
1 onion, chopped finely
Tin chopped tomatoes
Teaspoonful tomato puree
Small tin low sugar and salt baked beans
Handful frozen peas
1 clove garlic, crushed
Teaspoonful Marmite
Drizzle olive oil

For the mash
1 small swede
1 parsnip


My hubby sweated the onion and garlic in the oil, then added and browned the mince. Once the mince was brown he added the tin of tomatoes, the tomato puree, the Marmite and the baked beans. He cooked it off for as long as it took the swede and parsnip to boil, then added the frozen peas for the last five minutes.

He chopped and boiled then mashed the swede and parsnip and served it alongside the bolognese. Easy! We divided the remaining bolognese into a few batches and froze them. And the little man ate the world’s biggest portion.

Followed by an entire plum, and a slice of banana and raisin cake. The best laid plans, eh?


Beef bolognese

Dinners, Finger Food, Vegetarian

Sweet Potato Bake

I have realised that so far, most of the recipes I’ve been posting have been ideal for spoon feeding. My little one has finger foods at lunch time, but is mostly spoon fed for his evening meal in an attempt to get him full and improve his terrible sleep habits!

Lately, however, and judging by the experiences of other parents inevitably, he’s been refusing the spoon and preferring to feed himself – hence the need for some recipes that are a bit more finger food friendly!

After two nights eating very little, I came up with this as a comforting and tempting food that he could eat with his fingers AND might take, pureed, off the spoon. And we had a big success!

I simply layered sweet potatoes, spinach, and creme fraiche for this recipe:


2 sweet potatoes, sliced
small bag full of spinach
2 or 3 tbsp creme fraiche
handful of grated cheese
sprinkle black pepper


I popped the spinach in a colander and poured over boiling water to wilt it, then pressed all the water out. I then did one layer of sweet potato slices, one of spinach, another of sweet potato, then spread the creme fraiche on top, added the cheese on top of that and ground some black pepper over to season.

I baked it for 40 minutes at 180 degrees c, then let it cool before pureeing a bowlful and giving him a second bowlful of slices to eat by hand.

Sweet Potato Bake

Sweet potato could have been designed with babies in mind! A good source of complex carbs, it’s full of vitamins A, C and B6, beta-carotene and potassium. It has a higher nutritional value than regular potatoes (and tastes sweet enough to be extremely moreish to tiny humans!)

Sweet Pot Bake 2


Chicken Tagine

My husband made the boy’s dinner last night (two meals in a day, very impressive!) but declined to write a post for me, so I’ll have a go at relaying his recipe and method myself…

Chicken is an excellent source of protein and, of course, fat. It is my belief that by using only organic meat, we avoid serving up to our little boy all the synthetic chemicals, antibiotics and artificial growth hormones – toxins – that end up in the fat of animals farmed non-organically. Studies are also starting to show that animals fed on healthier, natural diets are in their turn more nutritious themselves…and of course, a free range chicken is a happier chicken!


1x free range chicken breast, diced
1 x onion, chopped
1 x aubergine, chopped
1 x pepper, chopped
handful of button mushrooms, chopped
handful chopped dried apricots
1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 pint stock (I use baby stock from Boots)
1 tbsp tomato puree
flour – about 1½ tbsp
seasoning – chopped garlic clove, cinnamon, cumin, coriander


Sauté the onion in oil and the seasoning, then add the chicken and cook for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add the rest of the veg, then the stock, the tomato puree and the chickpeas. Cover, and simmer until the chicken is done (about 20 minutes). Season with pepper if you like, then puree and leave to cool a bit before serving.

chicken tagine

At first this didn’t look too appetizing but once it had been pureed and cooled, it looked a bit better…and the boy ate it ALL. It made a huge number of portions, some of which I froze, and one of which he ate tonight – and again he hoovered it up. I’d call that a success!

Finger Food, Lunches

Sunday Roast

sunday roast

So this afternoon my husband did one of his roasts for the three of us! He and the little man had roast beef.

Nobody needs a recipe for a roast dinner, but it’s one of the boy’s favourite meals and full of ideal finger foods. The little man eats roast potatoes the way we eat apples, in his little fist munching away! The only thing he’s not so keen on is broccoli…

I insist that the husband only uses organic meat for the little man (for animal welfare reasons…). Beef is a source of complete protein, iron, zinc and B vitamins. Also on his plate today were parsnips (high in potassium) and kale (beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C and calcium). Kale, along with broccoli, contains sulforaphane, a chemical with potent anti-cancer properties. Steaming instead of boiling means the sulforaphane isn’t lost in the cooking process.

Dinners, Vegetarian

Stuffed Mushroom with Quinoa and Tomatoes

So tonight I needed to invent something for the boy to eat based on the very little food I had in the kitchen, namely, a single portabella mushroom and a tomato! Stuffed mushrooms have always gone down well, and as a vegetarian I’ve always got things like quinoa in the cupboard – so I figured I’d put the two together.

He hasn’t had much quinoa yet but it’s full of goodies – a veritable superfood, providing protein, fibre, iron and calcium, among other things. Mushrooms are full of B vitamins and tomatoes antioxidants.

So I had…

1 portobella mushroom
1 tomato, chopped into tiny pieces
20g quinoa
200ml stock (I use baby stock from Boots)
tiny handful breadcrumbs
tiny handful cheddar cheese
1 clove garlic, butter, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dried tarragon

I always use more liquid to cook the quinoa than the packet recommends. Cook it over a lowish heat in the stock until it has absorbed all the liquid.

While the quinoa was cooking I popped the mushroom on a baking tray, with the stalk removed, and drizzled a little bit of oil and balsamic vinegar over it, a couple of dots of butter and a chopped clove of garlic. I baked it in the oven for about 15 mins at 180 degrees c, then took it out and sat in on kitchen roll to get rid of the excess moisture.

I mixed half the quinoa with the tomato, the breadcrumbs, cheese and some tarragon and heaped it on the mushroom, then popped it back in the oven for another 10 minutes or so.

I pureed the mushroom and served it with the rest of the quinoa. It made about the right amount for one serving.


This is easily adaptable, so a good recipe for using up leftovers.

Dinners, Vegetarian

Butternut Squash and Chickpea Stew

I find one pot meals ideal for cooking the little man’s dinner – throw it all in, and then while it’s simmering I can get on with something more important – playing with the boy! Tonight’s recipe is based on one I found on Sainsbury’s fantastic Little Ones site. It’s a tried and tested recipe – he loves it.

It’s also chock full of good things. The chickpeas provide protein, iron, and fibre, and butternut squash is a good source of fibre, vitamins C, A and E, and potassium. Spinach is rich in antioxidants (as is the carrot), as well as vitamins A, C, E, B2, folic acid, iron, magnesium and omega-3!


Butternut squash, peeled and cubed
Tin of chickpeas, drained
1 normal sized carrot, chopped
1 onion, chopped
Small bag of spinach
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
300ml  stock (I use baby vegetable stock from Boots)
To flavour – teaspoons of cumin, coriander and cinnamon plus 2 garlic cloves, chopped


I sauté the onion in some olive oil with the cumin,  coriander, cinnamon and garlic for a while, then add everything else and simmer for about 40 minutes, Right at the end I add the spinach, and let it wilt. I serve it to the little man pureed, with couscous.


This makes a big batch and it would probably freeze well, but it’s so delicious that whenever I make it my husband and I eat the rest ourselves!

Dinners, Vegetarian

Roasted Red Vegetable Pasta Sauce

Two blog posts in one day, as it’s my first day! Tonight the little man had pasta and roasted red vegetable sauce, courtesy of this recipe from Sainsburys.

It’s so easy to  do – bung the red veg in a roasting dish, pop in the oven, and 45 mins later pull it out and whizz with a food processor then add to small pasta shapes.

It’s a great way to get some veggies in him and he just wolfs it down – it’s one of his favourites. It is lacking in protein though -I added a little cheddar cheese to the mix.

red veg pasta

The sauce freezes well, so I made three servings out of one batch and froze two, for those days when I haven’t got time to cook!