Perfect Weaning Recipes for Busy Mums

When you start to wean your baby, the last thing you want to do is prep separate meals for the whole family.

The best kinds of meals are going to be ones that you can batch cook, and have plenty leftover to make up baby sized portions and that freeze easily!

When I started weaning Olivia, I still suffered with anxiety and had a particular fear around her choking. So baby led weaning didn’t work out for us very well at first. Instead, I prepped lots of (pescetarian) meals for her and blended them up.

These are my top meals (and quick recipes) that I used a lot while weaning Olivia onto solid food!

  1. FISH PIE
  2. BOLOGNESE
  3. LASAGNE
  4. PASTA BAKE
  5. LEEK AND POTATO SOUP

Fish Pie

Ingredients:

  • Frozen White Fish Fillets x 6
  • Frozen Haddock Fillets x 4
  • Peas
  • Plain Flour (25g)
  • Butter (25g)
  • Milk (1 pint)
  • Cheese
  • Baking Potatoes x 3
  • Chives
  • Black Pepper
  • Parsley
  1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6 / 200 degrees C.
  2. Chop the potatoes and place them in a pan. Add boiling water to bring the potatoes to the boil and keep them on a medium heat. Stir regularly.
  3. In another pan, add the butter and flour. As the butter melts, whisk the butter and flour together to make a roux.
  4. Add a little milk at a time, whisking the roux into the milk. Whisk out any lumps and continue until you have used all of the milk to create the sauce. Do not let the sauce settle for too long.
  5. Sear the haddock and white fish fillets in a frying pan and remove the skin from the back of the fillets.
  6. Add cheese to the sauce and continue stirring. Add as much as you want for however cheesy you want your sauce to be!
  7. Add the fish and 2 cups full of garden peas to the sauce and stir regularly.
  8. Now add your herbs to the sauce. If you’re using ready chopped herbs, you need a pinch of black pepper, about a teaspoon of parsley, and a teaspoon and a half of chives.
  9. By now your potatoes should be soft enough to mash. Drain the water, and mash them using a splash of milk and a dash of butter.
  10. Pour the sauce, fish and peas into an oven dish.
  11. Gently scoop out the mash and spread it over the saucy layer into the oven dish. Use a fork to spread the mash so that it covers the dish evenly.
  12. Add more cheese to the top and put it in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and browned.

This can easily make 6 portions, and is very easy to blend thanks to the sauce!

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese

Ingredients:

  • Mince / Quorn Mince (500g)
  • Chopped Tomatoes (2 tins)
  • Carrots
  • Brown Onion
  • Garlic (2 cloves)
  • Cheese
  • Spaghetti
  • Tomato Puree
  • Black Pepper
  • Basil
  1. Put a little bit of oil in the bottom of your slow cooker and turn the heat onto low.
  2. Peel and chop the onion and add that to the slow cooker.
  3. Crush the garlic and add to the slow cooker.
  4. Add the mince/quorn mince and chopped tomatoes.
  5. Stir the pot thoroughly.
  6. Peel and chop the carrots and add to the slow cooker.
  7. Add some tomato puree and stir the pot again.
  8. Add your herbs and stir again.
  9. Now you can leave your pot and come back to it later. I don’t tend to leave it more than 4 hours, even on a low heat, without stirring!
  10. About 10 minutes before you want to serve dinner, boil enough spaghetti for all of you. Then drain once cooked.
  11. Grate your cheese (cheddar or parmesan).
  12. Plate up and garnish with your cheese on top! The leftovers can be blended up for baby to enjoy with you, and are easy to freeze.

Lasagne

Ingredients:

  • Mince / Quorn Mince (500g)
  • Chopped Tomatoes (2 tins)
  • Aubergine x 1
  • Courgette x 2
  • Brown Onion
  • Garlic (2 cloves)
  • Cheese
  • Lasagne Sheets
  • Tomato Puree
  • Black Pepper
  • Basil
  • Easy Mix Béchamel Sauce / Ready Made White Lasagne Sauce
  1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6 / 200 degrees C.
  2. If you need to prepare your Béchamel sauce, do that now.
  3. Put a little bit of oil into a frying pan and turn the heat onto low.
  4. Peel and chop the onion and add that to the pan. Stir until the onion starts to go transparent.
  5. Crush the garlic and add to the pan.
  6. Brown the mince/quorn mince and then add chopped tomatoes and stir.
  7. Stir the pot thoroughly.
  8. Chop the aubergine and courgettes and add to the mixture.
  9. Add some tomato puree and your herbs and stir again.
  10. Leave the pan to simmer while you pre-boil your lasagne sheets.
  11. Lay as many lasagne sheets as required on the bottom of your oven dish, then pour about half of your lasagne on top.
  12. Pour some of your Béchamel / White Lasagne Sauce over the lasagne.
  13. Repeat no. 11
  14. Top off your lasagne with more lasagne sheets, and the rest of your Béchamel / White Lasagne Sauce.
  15. Grate your cheese (cheddar or parmesan) and sprinkle it over the top of your lasagne.
  16. Cook for 30 minutes or until the cheese has all melted and begins to brown.
  17. Plate up – the leftovers can be blended up for baby to enjoy with you, or for you to have on another rainy day.

Pasta Bake

Ingredients:

  • Fusilli Pasta
  • Chopped Tomatoes (1 tin)
  • Tinned Tuna Chunks
  • Cheese
  • Tomato Puree
  • Garlic Puree
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Sweetcorn
  1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6 / 200 degrees C.
  2. Boil enough pasta to fill your oven dish when cooked. Remember that pasta doubles in size when cooked, so don’t do too much!
  3. Drain your pasta and put it back in the pan. Add your tomatoes, tuna and sweetcorn. Depending on how much pasta you’re making, you may need more than 1 tin of chopped tomatoes.
  4. Stir the pot and add your purees.
  5. Grate some cheese. Add about half to your pot and continue stirring.
  6. Now add your herbs and stir thoroughly before you pour the pasta into an oven dish.
  7. If you’re not making baby a portion, add some crunched up crisps to the top of the pasta to make it nice and crunchy once baked. If you are making a baby portion, it’s probably best to just sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.
  8. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
  9. Plate it up and blend/keep the rest for baby! Pasta is a great weaning food because it’s soft and easy for little ones to pick up with their hands.

Leek and Potato Soup

This one is one of my all time favourite recipes, so I’ve blogged it before! Check it out here.

This one is also great fun for babies because

  1. it’s already blended
  2. they get to munch on bread and butter with it

What are your favourite weaning recipes for your tots? Have you used any of these ones before?

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The 5 best one pot meals for busy parents

We all know the drill. Dinner time is approaching fast, the kids are being difficult, and there is a mountain of washing up in the kitchen. It happens to all of us.

Over time, our household has accumulated a list of one pot meals that we love. They’re quick and easy to prepare, they require minimal ingredients, and don’t take ages to cook. Our 17 month old loves them, and so does my husband and extended family. What’s more, they’re packed with healthy ingredients. Win win!

  1. Coconut Chickpea Vegan Curry

We love this one! It uses just 5 major ingredients, and some spices I guarantee you already have in your food cupboard. It took less than half an hour to make from start to finish, and was practically inhaled by my very picky toddler. It’s so creamy, and makes for perfect comfort food that you don’t have to feel bad about. It also does very well in the freezer, so its the ideal meal to batch cook and defrost later!

This recipe is by Jessica In The Kitchen. It’s not only vegan but gluten free (which is ideal if, like me, you have multiple family members with allergies. Jessica posts lots of recipes that are fit for those with allergies, so if you’re an allergy mum like me, you should check her out!

2. Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

Trust me, if you’ve got a child who’s a picky eater (or more than one!), you will love this recipe. The brilliant thing about fajitas is that you can so easily customise them! While this recipe calls for specific vegetables, we’ve used just about every vegetable we can think of, and our little monkey has gobbled it all up! This recipe uses vegan ingredients for the marinade, so you can make the fajitas vegan, vegetarian or full of meat. You can even use gluten free wraps if you have Celiac disease like me. We love sheet pan meals because you pop it all in the oven together and forget about it, which is brilliant if you have little people to keep an eye on!

This recipe comes from Show Me the Yummy.

3. Healthy Enchilada Pasta

Do your kids panic when they see anything green on their plate? Are they basically vegetable-phobic? In our household, anything with cheese is a winner, but anything that’s green gets left behind. This one pot enchilada pasta has the best of both worlds. It uses beans and pulses as the source of protein, so you know they’re getting healthy food, but to your little ones, it probably won’t feel like it. It’s also topped with a healthy portion of cheese, which in my experience will always make it attractive to little ones! Like the fajitas, we love this recipe because it’s so customisable!

This recipe comes from the wonderful Peas and Crayons

4. Chicken Chow Mein

Had a rough day and craving take-away, but need to feed the kids too? This one is for you. This chicken chow mein can be prepared and cooked from start to finish in half an hour. It uses spaghetti rather than fancy noodles, which you’re more than likely to find in your cupboard!

We use low sodium soy sauce and chicken stock when making this recipe as we are feeding our little one too, but if you’re making this solely for adults, feel free to omit this step!

In our experience, spaghetti is usually a winner in the toddler department, so we often have a spaghetti dish once a week. This recipe is great as it contains lots of veggies (but they’re covered in a flavourful sauce, so your little might not mind that much!).

This recipe hails from The Recipe Rebel

5. Italian Chicken and Vegetables

We LOVE Italian food. I love it even more when my daughter eats her vegetables! This recipe is super easy, super simple and very customisable. I love that it only takes twenty/thirty minutes; it’s the perfect food for your ‘oh my goodness, how is it nearly dinner time?’ moments.

This dish is also ideal for those nights when you desperately want something light to eat! As much as I love pasta (and often call my daughter the carb queen) I want her to learn that meals without it can be tasty too!

This recipe does call for 2 tbsp white wine OR stock. We use stock and have found it to be just as tasty! Find this recipe at Sweet C’s.

Do you love a good one pot meal? Have you got any great ideas that we missed? Let us know in the comments.

Traditional Boozy Make and Mature Christmas Cake

Let me start by saying this: if you don’t want your Christmas cake to pack a serious boozy punch then this is not the cake for you. This is for grown ups only.

You may also be wondering why I’m talking Christmas cake so early… well, the clue is in the title. This cake takes some serious maturing. So this recipe will be broken down into a rough schedule to help you pack the biggest boozy punch into your Christmas cake.  I have written this recipe so it’s easy to make half, the written recipe is for a large family sized cake.

September

Soak 1kg of mixed dried fruit (raisins, sultanas, dried peel – the works) in 200ml of whichever booze you choose. I start soaking in early September in a clip sealed lunchbox and give it a good shake once or twice a week, whenever I remember really. This just makes sure all the fruit gets a good soak and not just the bits at the bottom.

This year I am using Honey Jack Daniels, last year I used Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum and the year before I used cheap supermarket own Brandy. It all works and it’s all preference.

If you skip this stage you can just soak for an hour before you bake but I prefer a good mature soak.

October

Time to  bake!

At some point in the first week of October you need to bake your cake. Don’t worry about it going stale or going bad, you’re going to spend the next two and a half months feeding it more alcohol.

Here’s what you need:

Equipment:
LARGE saucepan
LARGE mixing bowl
LARGE tall sided cake tin.
Baking parchment or bake-o-glide

Ingredients:

Your pre-soaked fruit plus another 50ml of your chosen alcohol
250g Butter (because of allergies, we use dairy free spread or baking blocks and they work very well)
200g Soft Brown Sugar (light or dark)
Zest and Juice of 1 Orange

1tbsp Ground Mixed Spice
1tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

200g Plain White Flour
100g Ground Almonds
100g Flaked Almonds
1tsp Baking powder
4 Large Eggs

Method:
1. Put the fruit, booze, sugar, butter, spices, vanilla, zest, and juice into the saucepan and gently bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Transfer the mixture into a large bowl and leave to cool for at least half an hour.

3. Preheat the oven to 150°C and line your baking tin. A circle at the bottom as usual but the paper around the edge needs to be around twice the depth of the tin and sticking out the top. It’s a good idea to check your oven shelf is the right height to accommodate this before the oven gets hot.

4. Add the remaining ingredients, leaving the eggs until last and beat well.

5. Transfer the mix into your prepared tin and bake for 2 hours. If you end up with too much mix you can bake whatever you have left in a loaf tin or muffin tin and enjoy them before Christmas! (Smaller cakes will need less time in the oven so check regularly once the first hour has passed)

6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before poking a generous number of holes into the top of the cake with a skewer, fork or spoon handle and feeding it 25ml of your chosen alcohol.

October, November and December

You can store your cake in the baking parchment it was cooked in, wrapped in a cloth or tea towel or wrapped in cling film if you have nothing else. It’s best to then keep it inside a tub or a tin as well.

Feed it 10ml weekly or 20ml every two weeks until two weeks before the date you would like to ice it. If you feed it too close to icing it, it will be too wet to ice.

Icing

Traditionally, I ice my cake on Christmas eve, possibly because no one can be trusted not to eat it once it’s iced. I will hold my hands up to this: I use ready made marzipan and fondant icing. It’s partly a skill thing, partly a cost thing, partly a time thing. The end result is the same so I won’t lose sleep over it. You can also leave the cake naked if you prefer.

1. Roll the marzipan into a circle big enough to cover the entire cake
2. Brush the cake with some warmed up marmalade or citrus jam. One year I used ginger preserve which was delightful.
3. Lay the marzipan over the now sticky cake and smooth down the edges
4. Trim off the excess marzipan and save it for later
5. Repeat the above steps with the icing but substitute marmalade for vodka of you have it or whichever alcohol you have been feeding your cake.
6. Add any embellishments to your cake that you would like and try not to eat it straight away.

The leftover marzipan and icing

I make it into sweets. It’s the best.

1. Roll the icing into a long flat strip  and inch or two wide
2. Roll the marzipan into a sausage shape the same length
3. Moisten the  icing with a dab of water (child friendly)
4. Roll the icing around the marzipan nice and tight
5. Cut the roll at 1/4 inch intervals to make small festive treats

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Leek and potato soup in 10 easy steps

Hello mummies, daddies and anyone else reading!

Are you looking for a quick and easy, winter warmer recipe? This is just that (with a few little nudges along the way for you to take some time out for yourself)…

What you will need:

  • A large saucepan
  • Chopping board
  • Hand blender/food processor
  • Someone to do the washing up

Ingredients:

1 x onion
2 x leeks
6 x large potatoes
200ml crème fraîche
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1litre vegetable stock
Basil (no need for it to be fresh, though if you’re feeling extra posh you could throw a few fresh leaves in there)
Salt
Pepper
Bread and butter

Method:

1. Pour yourself a glass of wine, you’re probably tired and could do with it
2. Put the oil into the saucepan and set the hob to a medium heat
3. Chop the onion and the leeks – it doesn’t matter if they’re not fine, you’re going to blend it all anyway! – and pop them into the pan
4. Stir for about 5 minutes or until the onion starts to go clear – don’t let the onion go brown or it will make the soup look really unappetising!!!
5. Pour in the vegetable stock and turn the heat down
6. Peel and chop the potatoes and put them into the pan, then add the seasoning
7. Turn the heat back up and monitor for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes go soft enough to blend
8. Take the pan off the heat and get the blender out! Blend it until it’s mostly smooth and quite thick in consistency
9. Add the crème fraîche and stir it in
10. Place the pan back on the heat to warm the soup through, and at the same time butter your bread and prepare to serve!

You should all have yourselves an incredibly delicious soup!

This recipe can easily serve four people, so if there aren’t four of you there to eat it then you can absolutely freeze whatever is left and keep it for another time – we all need our precious time so save some by batch cooking!

I’m fairly certain you could create this dish just as easily using a slow cooker, but as I haven’t yet tried it I won’t recommend it – let me know if you have! PLEASE share your pictures in the comments or on our social media pages 🙂

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15 Minute Vegetable Rice

The beauty of this is that you can make it suit you and your family. You can add or take away bits depending on what you have in your cupboards and what you like to eat. We regularly eat it as a whole meal but it can be a tasty side dish (or just make  it to save some pennies on take away rice when your order a curry).

Before we get to the nitty gritty let me just say this; I HATE recipes. They always have some obscure thing that isn’t sat in your cupboards or one ingredient that’s crazy expensive and occasionally require you to have a very large piece of equipment that can only be used to do one very specific task. So, this isn’t a recipe as such – it’s an idea. A beautiful, lazy dinner idea that you can feel great about. 
 
 
You will need:
  • A chopping board
  • A knife
  • A saucepan with a lid
  • A hob
  • Running water 
  • Maybe a cheese grater
  • A measuring jug (and yes, you can use a baby bottle to measure, no judgement)
  • Kitchen scales or cup measures
  • Sieve or muslin
  • Rice (I recommend basmati but long grain is fine)
  • Assorted vegetables 
  • Herbs and spices of your choosing
  • Stock cube 
 
 
You can put any vegetables you like in this, if they have a longer cooking time like most root veg then grate them and if they’re fast cooking then chopping is fine. I like to buy onions, cabbage and carrots, prep them and freeze them so they can just be grabbed from the freezer and thrown into dishes like this. 
The only bit of measuring you need to do is with the rice – 70-80g per person and then twice as much water (140ml – 160ml). Brown rice or long grain rice may need a little extra so check your packet or just add about a quarter again. If you don’t have scales you can do it by volume using the 1:2 ratio. 
 
  1. Bring your water to the boil with your stock, herbs and spices and a handful of each of your chosen veg – we like turmeric, mixed herbs, veggie stock, onion, carrot, cabbage and peas. Love the lid on so you don’t lose too much water.
  2. Rinse your rice! This stops it going stodgy and clumpy. Pop it in the sieve or a muslin and run cold water through it until it’s basically clear.
  3. Add your rice to the boiling water and veg and STIR ONCE. Don’t be tempted to keep stirring.
  4. Pop the lid on and bring it to the boil again.
  5. Once it’s boiling turn it down to a simmer and stand back for 12 minutes. Just leave it. Don’t take the lid off, don’t stir it.  
  6. Once your 12 minutes are up take it off the heat, get a fork and  shift a bit of rice to the side. If you still have water in there pop the lid on and  simmer it in one minute intervals until the water is gone.  You probably won’t need to unless you’re making rice for 6 people though. 
  7. Fluff it up with a fork and serve! 
 
The beauty of this is that you can make it suit you and your family. You can add or take away bits depending on what you have in your cupboards and what you like to eat. We regularly eat it as a whole meal but it can be a tasty side dish (or just make  it to save some pennies on take away rice when your order a curry). Sometime we fry up some cooking bacon with courgette and have that with it and some times we fry the rice up with eggs.  I love having this versatile dish under my belt and best of all? It looks like I’ve made an effort when I reeeeally haven’t. 

Pictured:  curried vegetable rice with tortilla chips – beef stock, curry powder, mixed herbs, onion and carrot

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