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.

How to make a Moana face cake…

I always pride myself on making the girls’ birthday cakes myself every year, and no cake is too big a challenge!

For Olivia’s birthday, in keeping with her Moana themed party, I had to attempt a Moana birthday cake…

Here’s how you can do this one from the comfort of your own kitchen!

What you’ll need for the cake:
  • 4 eggs
  • 8oz self raising flour
  • 8oz caster sugar
  • 8oz butter
  • vanilla essence
  • 2x 8 inch cake tins
  • greaseproof paper
  • mixing bowl
  • an oven also tends to help 😉
What you’ll need for the filling:
 
  • 3oz butter
  • 6oz icing sugar
  • strawberry jam
 
What you’ll need for the decoration:
 
  • pink fondant icing
  • orange fondant icing
  • white fondant icing
  • brown fondant icing
  • black icing pen
  • 4oz butter
  • 8oz icing sugar
  • cocktail sticks
  • rolling pin
So, you’ve got all of your bits, time to get down to the cake business!
For Olivia’s birthday, I baked the cake the night before, and then decorated it the morning of her birthday, giving the cake time to cool in the fridge and be easier to work with. You can decorate the cake the same day, but just make sure it’s cooled enough not to wreck the icing!

The Prep…

1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5/190 degrees C.
2. Grease your tins with some greaseproof paper, spreading the butter all around the inside of the tins.

The Cake…

1. Put 8oz of butter into a large mixing bowl.
2. Add 8oz of caster sugar and mix well until the butter and sugar cream together.
3. Add the 4 eggs and mix these in.
4. Slowly pour in the 8oz of flour using a sieve, mixing it in stages until there is none left to pour in!
5. Add a teaspoon of vanilla essence and mix it again.
6. Pour the mixture equally into the two cake tins, spreading it as evenly as possible.
7. Pop the tins into the oven, on the same shelf (and if they don’t fit, you’ll have to do them one at a time as they can’t go on top of each other in the oven!), and check back in about 25/30 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when the cake has risen nicely, and you can stick a knife in the middle of the sponge and it comes out clean!
8. Lick the bowl 😉
9. Once cooked, place the halves onto a cooling rack.
10. Once cooled, take a long knife and even the tops of the cake-halves.

The Filling…

1. Make a buttercream using the butter and icing sugar. You may need more or less depending on how  much you want inside the cake, but you’ll be using it for the outside of the cake too. Always make sure you have twice as much sugar as butter to get the right taste and texture.
2. Spread the buttercream onto one half of the cake.
3. Spread the jam onto the other half of the cake, and gently place the buttercream half on top of the jammy half!
4. Leave this in the fridge for a little while to cool and set the buttercream.

The Decoration…

While the cake is cooling, you can prepare some of the features of Moana’s face – her eyes, the flower in her hair, her lips, and even her hair!
Eyes:
 
1. Prep your work surface by sprinkling some icing sugar down to work with.
2. Make two balls (the size of a Brussels sprout each) of white fondant by rolling them in your hands.
3. Roll the balls out on the surface until they are about half a cm thick, keeping them in the shape of how you want Moana’s eyes to look.
4. Repeat with brown icing to get her irises, then fix these on top of the white icing shapes with a bit of buttercream.
5. Use the black icing pen to draw on Moana’s pupils.
6. Pop them on a small plate and put them in the fridge for the black icing to set – you don’t want the pupils to run into the white fondant!
Flower:
 
1. Make 5 flower petals by rolling small balls (again the size of a Brussels sprout each!) of the pink fondant icing in your hands.
2. Roll the fondant out on the surface until it’s about half a cm thick again, and, using a small knife or cake tool, make petal shapes out of the fondant. Repeat this until you have 5 petals.
3. Prop the petals up on a plate, curving the petals if you want to, and pop them in the fridge to set.
4. For the centre, roll a small ball of orange icing in your hands, flatten the top, and insert a cocktail stick through the bottom, so that it almost looks like a drinks umbrella!
5. When you’re ready to attach the flower to the cake, affix the petals first using small amounts of buttercream, then place the cocktail stick through the cake in the centre of the petals.
Lips:

1. Roll a small ball of brown icing out onto the surface and cut out a lip shape.
2. Indent a lip line in the middle of the shape – you don’t want two separate lips to fiddle about with!
Hair:
 
1. Take larger chunks of brown icing and roll them into sausages that will fit around Moana’s face.
2. Roll these into a mixture of sizes to use for her fringe, tufty bits and the rest of her hair. You will need quite a few to layer these up.
3. Leave these ones out of the fridge! You need the hair to stay soft and easy to mould.
Putting it all together:
 
1. Spread buttercream evenly over the entire surface of the cake.
2. Roll out brown and white icing – you will need a fair amount.
3. Mix the white icing in with the brown icing to lighten the colour of Moana’s skin. Knead the colours together and add as much or as little as you want.
4. Once you have the perfect colour, roll the icing out onto surface. You will need to lift the icing up and turn it to prevent it sticking. Use more icing sugar on the surface if necessary!
5. Make sure the icing will cover the whole cake – you can pick it up and test it by holding it over the cake. Once you have enough, lay it gently on top of the cake and flatten the sides down with your hands, cutting away any excess.
6. Gently rub the top of the cake in a circular motion to flatten any air bubbles.
7. First, add the eyes and lips. Use a small amount of buttercream to fix them to the top of the cake.
8. Add the hair next, using little drops of water on the hair to fix them to the cake. The can be moulded around the cake fairly easily, layering them up and creating her fringe. This works best if the hair strands are not put into the fridge as they need to be easily pliable.
9. Fix the petals on top of the hair, using water to make them stick. Then put the cocktail stick with the orange top through the centre and into the cake (remember it’s there when it comes to cutting slices!)
10. Use a black icing pen to draw on the nose, eyelashes and any other features!
VOILA!
You’ve done it! Successfully made a cake like Moana’s face!
Share your pictures below!

20 of the best Moana birthday party ideas on Pinterest!

With a toddler who adores Moana and a 2nd birthday party to plan, I have, of course, been scrolling through Moana party ideas on Pinterest for weeks now! The trouble is that there are so many amazing things that I want to try, so here is my list of the top 20 Moana party ideas on Pinterest!

1. Heart of Te Fiti cookies

Moana Party Treats - Heart of Te Fiti Cookies Recipe from Paging SupermomMoana birthday party ideas - heart of the fiti sugar cookies
These are a simple, yet effective, Moana birthday party idea! Everyone loves cookies, and whichever design you go for, it looks like they’d be pretty difficult to get wrong! The design on the left reminds me of a jam roly poly, so you could possibly even make one of those in the Heart of Te Fiti shape and colour!
If you love the look of these cookies, have a look here at our recipe for Heart of Te Fiti cookies that are 100% vegan!

2. Kakamora coconut cups

Moana Party Favor Ideas. Complete your Moana Birthday Party with this Kokamora Cups, use the Free Printable Moana Kokamora Faces. This is a great addition to a Luau Party or Hawaiin Party as well. www.anytots.com for more Moana Party Ideas.
These are so cool! You can buy pre-made coconut cups (not real coconuts, I might add), and download the free printables to either get kids to make their own, or to choose a cup that you’ve already stuck a face onto!

3. Moana themed balloons

DIY Balloon and Fronds Tropical Party Table Centerpiece Garland - learn to make this easy table decor for your birthday table, party photo booths or summer party decorations!We made these palm tree balloon columns to fit a pirate theme
This is another simple, yet effective, Moana decoration you can easily make at home! You can switch up the colours of the balloons in the garland, and there’s even a tutorial on Pinterest to make your own balloon arch! Failing that you can use the garland as a table decoration, and have the balloon palm trees placed around the garden to make it feel like you’re on Motunui!

4. Flower garlands for kids

Want to learn how to make this beautiful JAM DIY tissue paper flower garland? Click the pin to find 5 easy steps!
You can either have these pre-made for when your party guests to wear when they arrive, or as a party favour for the kids to take home, or as another activity for them to do at the party – the possibilities are endless! Personally, I think I’d use them for when the kids arrive so that everyone can get into the Polynesian spirit and celebrate the Moana party in style!

6. Coconut bowling

Add a fun twist to summer games with the kiddos -- go coconut bowling!  A simple, fun outside game that'll have the kids giggling the whole time.
Using the Kakamora printables above, you can easily make these bowling balls into “murdering little pirates” and use them to bowl down pineapples, water bottles, or even mini palm trees.

7. Pin the nose on Pua

MOANA PARTY GAME Pua Pin My Nose 11x17 inches and 18x24 new
A classic party game is pin the tail on the donkey, so why not modify it with a Moana twist and pin the nose on Pua? You could choose any character, really! Pin the Heart on Te Fiti/Te Ka, or pin the tail on Hei Hei! All it requires is a printer, some cutting out and some blindfolds for the kids to take part! And, of course, adult supervision when they’re all blindfolded and spinning around in circles…

8. Moana sail boat hot dog trays

Moana Birthday Party Printable Sail Boat Hot Dog Tray
Even though we are vegetarians in our house, we could easily adapt this to use veggie sausages/hot dogs, or we could simply prepare these for our meat-eating guests! Either way, it’s a fun twist on a classic hot dog and the Moana sail boat is just too cute not to try!

9. Sand pudding parfaits

Sand Pudding Parfaits - a delicious Golden Oreo dessert with layers of pudding cream between.
This amazing recipe uses golden Oreos and cream to make a delicious beach-like pudding in a cup! Not only are these super tasty but they’re also no-bake, meaning less washing up and that’s always a win!

10. Personalised Polynesian Luau party favours

Kids Personalized Luau Party Favors Flower Lei by stargazinglily, $4.25
These are available to buy on Etsy, but it would be a much better idea to have the kids make their own to pop into their party favour bags! All you need is the right beads and some elasticated string!

11. Find the Heart of Te Fiti

Moana Heart of Tafiti Party Favors!  Glass gems - $1 @ Dollar Tree Lime paint pen - $4 @ Michael's
These are so quick and easy to make, and if you make enough for each child they can have a scavenger hunt to find the Heart of Te Fiti, doubling up as an additional party favour.
 

12. Themed character foods

Looking for some awesome Moana party food ideas? Look no further!

You can try out Hei Hei chicken nuggets, coconut Kakamora kebabs – all you have to do is get little themed place cards to pop next to the food… You can even DIY them by using cocktail sticks and printing it out yourself!

13. Moana doughnut boats

This is a super easy Moana party food idea! Download our free printable sails and use cocktail sticks to stick each one into a doughnut to make boats just like Moana's!
These are such a cute and fun idea for a sweet treat at your Moana party!
 

14. Tamatoa croissants

These are amazing! All you need is some googly eyes, cocktail sticks, croissants and fillings! You could even add something “shiny” to his back!

15. A hula skirt table

Luau party
If your party guests aren’t already adorned in Moana-themed costumes, get them into the Polynesian party mood with some tropical hula skirts and the flower garlands that you made yourself or bought pre-made from the shop! And if you don’t want to hang onto these after the party, pop them in the party bags for the kids to take home!

16. Moana inspired face paint

Moana inspired face painting
I mean, you probably couldn’t do this yourself unless you’re a super talented artist, but this Moana inspired face paint is just incredible!

17. Sailboat cupcakes

Wrapper e toppers para mini Cupcake. Barco Moana. Festa Moana.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE these! The wave pattern around the cupcake case just makes this look really awesome, and who doesn’t love cupcakes? The mast is just a clear straw, and then you have the classic Te Fiti spiral on the flag.

18. Heart of Te Fiti cupcakes

Perfect cupcakes for the best Moana party ever!
These are a simple yet effective design utilising simple food colouring and icing penmanship! And you can style them up with cute little place cards too!

19. Beach jelly pots

Love all of these Under the Sea party ideas!  These little jello sail boats are so cute!
These are technically an “under the sea” theme, but they would work just as well for your Moana themed party!

20. The CAKE

Well, I have seen some pretty AMAZING Moana inspired cakes… Take a look at some of these:
Handmade Moana face cake! Pretty good resemblance and amazing flower in the hair!      Moana Cake

Girl's 'Baby Moana' Birthday Cake     Pastel-para-fiesta-de-moana (15) - Decoracion de Fiestas Cumpleaños Bodas, Baby shower, Bautizo, Despedidas

Moana Cake by Simona Volpe‎     Moana cake

And as hard as it is to pick a favourite… It’s got to be this one:

Te fiti of Moana cake

I mean, it’s just incredible! I wish I could make a cake this awesome!

So that is it! I hope you’ve loved this Moana party ideas round up from Pinterest – let me know in the comments if you’ve tried any of them or if you’ve come across any more amazing Moana inspired party ideas on Pinterest!
 
And remember everyone…
 
WE KNOW THE WAAAYYYYYY…. I AM MOANAAAAAAA

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How to make VEGAN Heart of Te Fiti cookies

I was writing my upcoming blogpost about the best Moana party ideas on Pinterest (subscribe to see it when it goes live), and as I was doing so my daughter was just too excited by the pictures of Heart of Te Fiti cookies… So, of course, I had to make some, and we did them vegan style!

What you will need (this will make 20-25 small cookies depending on individual sizes):

  • 250g plain flour
  • 125g Vitalite dairy free margarine (Flora also have a dairy free range)
  • 70g icing sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 1tsp/a splash of soya milk (we used Tesco own brand)
  • A green icing pen

Method:

1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4/180 degrees C and place a sheet of greaseproof paper on a baking tray ready

2. Place the flour, margarine and sugar into a bowl and mix it with your hands until it is mixed well and forms a breadcrumb texture

3. Add the vanilla essence and enough soya milk to make the mixture sticky – you can mix this in with a spoon to save your hands getting even messier!

4. Roll a small ball of dough in your hands and flatten it out into a thick oval shape, repeat until there is no mixture left

5. Place the cookies into the oven for 20-30 minutes, checking them periodically until they’re a light golden brown colour

6. Place the cookies on a wire rack to cool

7. Once they have cooled down, grab your green icing pen and decorate them! It’s easier to do the swirl in one smooth motion and enough pressure to make sure the icing sticks to the cookie

8. You can eat them right away, but if you want the icing to set a little then pop them in the fridge for an hour or so first!

Let me know if you’ve tried them! I plan on doing these again for my daughter’s birthday party at the end of the month so would love to know if you’ve found any more Moana inspired party foods!

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Trying SimplyCook

Before I start, I should probably say, this isn’t sponsored by SimplyCook. I’m just a mumma who loves food and discounted/free thigs!

As the main cook in my household, I hate dinner time, because I try and make something new but always end up going back to the same old meals we usually have, which is what drew me to SimplyCook. As a lot of ‘post box’ brands do, SimplyCook had a ‘first box for £3’ offer going and I’m never one to turn down discounted things so I got one and eagerly awaited the post for my box.

In your box you get 4 mini boxes containing herbs, spices etc. Everything you’’ll need to add to your food to make it taste amazing.

Meal 1- Santa Fe Chicken Salad


Included in the box – 
Cilantro Salsa Blend
Grilled Pepper Mix
Ancho Chilli Rub

Ingredients to buy
Chicken
Peppers
Red Onion
Tomatoes
Bag of Salad

The Verdict.
I’m a little bit on the fence with this one. The chicken had such an intense, moreish flavour to it and really brought the salad to life and the same with peppers but unfortunately the same can’t be said about the Cilantro Salsa Blend. It had a very intense lemon flavour that was hard to swallow and just didn’t go well with the chicken. It was the only thing left on our plates at the end of the meal, which was a shame because I LOVE salsa so was looking forward to trying it on a salad. It just didn’t match the great tastes of the chicken. At  approximately 410 Calories per serving, which isn’t bad, I just don’t think its worth trying again just because of that.

Overall I’d give this meal a 6/10, sadly let down by the Cilantro Salsa Blend. My partner sadly gave it a 4, again let down by the Cilantro Salsa Blend.

Meal 2 – Hungarian Goulash Soup


Included in the box
Sweet Paprika
Goulash Spice Blend
Beef Stock

Ingredients to buy
Pork Sausages
Onion
Carrot
Red and Green Peppers
Tomato Puree

The Verdict.
This meal was delicious! It was warming, comforting and just everything you want for a cold, miserable day. I will say, I chose to have it with crusty bread rather than the 2nd option of mashed potatoes, but I wish I had gone for the potatoes as it is more of a casserole consistency and would have made the meal even better. I can’t fault this meal at all, it wasn’t perfect but it was very very yummy! It is approximately 500 Calories per serving which is amazing from something so hearty!

Overall I’d give this meal an 8/10, simply because it was more of a casserole than a soup but still tasted amazing!

Meal 3 – Shakshouka


Included in the box
Cumin & Caraway Mix
Spricy Tomato Paste
Shakshouka Spices

Ingredients to buy
Eggs
Tomatoes
Onion
Red and Yellow Peppers
Bread

The Verdict.
WOW. We had this for brunch after date night and it may not look like much but it was amazing. It was such a welcomed change to our breakfast routine and it was just perfect. The spices and flavours in this meal just blended so perfectly together with the eggs and it really got me and my partner excited to try it again. At only 375 Calories per serving, it would be rude not have it again! Definitely the best meal from these boxes so far!

Overall I’d give this meal a 10/10. It was such a lovely change from our usual breakfast choices and we are already planning on having it again!

Meal 4 – BBQ Tandoori Chicken


Included in the box
Smoked Chilli Blend
Sweet Potato Seasoning
Tandoori Paste

Ingredients to buy
Chicken Thighs
Natural Yogurt
A Lemon
Sweet Potatoes
A Bag of Salad

The Verdict.
This meal was pretty good, not too spicy but not lacking in flavour also. Even my daughter tried it, which at the moment is saying something because she is ill and really fussy. The meal made me and my partner nicely full and kept us full for a longer period of time (although, I did have room for a sneaky piece of banana cake whilst I wrote this… oops!) This one is a nice altenative to buying food from a takeaway and a lot healthier at approximately only 500 Calories per serving!

Overall, I’d give this meal an 8/10. It was a lovely meal and I will definitely try it again, it just can’t have a 10 because it was nowhere near as good as the Shakshouka.

So! Would I buy this again…?
Absolutely! Not only did it help with the buying side of things, it also gave me more ideas for dinner time. We would never have tried most of the things in this box but we do definitely be eating them again. (Especially the Shakshouka!)

I would absolutely recommend SimplyCook to anyone who is stuck for dinner ideas, wanting to try something new or anyone who just loves amazing food!

Mummy and Baby bears’ porridge

There’s been frost on the cars in the morning and a chill in the air, I can’t wait for the warmth of Spring. But there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy snuggling up in the mornings with a nice warming bowl of porridge, that both mumma and baby bear can enjoy, away from the thieving clutches of Goldilocks.

I wanted to make a hearty porridge that I like and that my toddler would enjoy, which is sweet enough without adding sugar.

I make this amount and there’s enough for my toddler and myself as you can see from the picture.

For this simple, tasty breakfast you will need:

  • 50g of porridge oats,
  • 150ml water,
  • 150ml milk,
  • 1 pot of strawberry fromage frais yoghurt,
  • 1 banana chopped into small pieces

Measure the water and milk and mix. Add the porridge oats and the banana pieces and mix. It’s best to use a deep microwave safe bowl for this.

Cook for 2 minutes in 900 watt microwave or 2.5 minutes in an 800 watt microwave and stir. Cook for another 2 minutes

Stir in the yoghurt when the porridge has cooled down to a warm temperature and serve into your bowls.

Enjoy!

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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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