Thursday, 26 March 2015

RECIPE: The #InstaWeanTeam Asparagus Challenge!

I have a confession: I've never actually cooked asparagus before. 

I've eaten it loads of times (I'll basically eat anything except Boc Choy and water chestnuts - bleugh, it's a texture thing) but it's never been something on my weekly shopping list so this is a great challenge for me. It didn't take me long to decide that my dish for this week would be a risotto - I haven't made one for a little while but when I do, I tend to stick to just a couple of my tried and tested recipes so trying it with a new ingredient felt like a good plan. 

Risotto also goes quite thick and sticky so is perfect for baby to grab little handfuls of.

Asparagus Risotto Prep...
8 Asparagus Spears
200g Arborio Rice
1/2 Cup Garden Peas
1/2 Lemon  
1.75 Pints Water
140g Cream Cheese 
4 Rashers Streaky Bacon
1 Baby (low salt) Vegetable Stock Cube (I get mine in Boots)
Black Pepper
Dried Parsley
Knob Unsalted Butter

1. Put the butter and rice in a large pan. Toast the rice gently for 2-3 minutes.
2. Add 1.5 pints of water mixed with the baby stock cube, a pinch of parsley and a pinch of black pepper. The water should start bubbling away almost immediately. Turn it down to a simmer and keep an eye on it to make sure the pan doesn't run dry. You shouldn't have to touch it again for 20 minutes or so.
3. Lay the bacon out in a frying pan and cook on a low heat for around 15 minutes until crispy. Once done, lay out on some kitchen paper to cool (this will absorb any excess fat) 
4. Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and lay on a baking tray. Sprinkle some black pepper on top and drizzle with a little olive oil. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes at Gas Mark 7 until tender.
5. At this point you should have three things cooking away - I recommend a rest and a cup of tea :)
6. Cut the cooled bacon in small pieces and set aside.
7. Remove the asparagus from the oven and chop into small slices. Keep a few of the spear 'tops' aside for decoration if you're feeling fancy...!
8. By now the rice should have been cooking for 20 minutes. Add a further 1/4 pint of water, the peas, asparagus, cream cheese and stir well for 5 minutes to make sure it doesn't stick. Add a dash more more water if necessary. 
9. Take the rice off the heat and squeeze in the juice of 1/2 a lemon.
10. At this point I separated 4 baby sized portions (1 for now and 3 for the freezer). I sprinkled 4-5 tiny pieces of bacon onto each of the baby portions and stirred the rest into the adult portion. 

Note: Bacon is super salty (mine had 1g of salt per 2 rashers) so be very careful on how much you give to baby. I didn't give any bacon before L was a year old.

If you make this, or anything else from the #InstaWeanTeam challenges over the coming weeks please tag me (@BLWMamaUK). The best will get a re-post!

Sunday, 22 March 2015

10 Easy Breakfast Ideas

Breakfast is one of those meals we don't tend to give a lot of love to. It can be particularly difficult to muster much enthusiasm when you're half asleep, bleary eyed and have been up most of the night with a teething/ill/partying baby (delete as appropriate).

Before I had Little Dude breakfast for me was either a five minute rush job as I dashed out the house (handful of nuts or quick bowl of cornflakes) or some soggy toast from the work canteen. Being on maternity leave rekindled my love with what my own Mama still tells me is 'the most important meal of the day'. Suddenly I had the time and inclination (what better motivation is there than the need to fill your baby's little tummy?) to try out some new ideas. Here are my top ten favourites to inspire you on those sleepy mornings...

1. Banana Pancakes - Just two ingredients and less than ten minutes to make, these delicious pancakes really couldn't be easier. Mash a banana, mix in a beaten egg and fry in a little unsalted butter. I get best results using a heavy frying pan (so it doesn't get too hot) and grilling the top of them before flipping them over. To add more backbone, throw in a handful of oats and for a naughty twist, a couple of tablespoons of cocoa powder.

2. Fruity Porridge - I often make this with leftover fruit or pre-made puree. A handful of oats, a generous splash of whole milk, microwave for 90 seconds then stir in your fruit. I let mine cool then spoon it onto L's tray in little balls for a quick, BLW-friendly breakfast.

3. Homemade Cereal Bars - Blend a small packet of mixed nuts with 5-6 dried dates then mix with an egg and a few handfuls of oats. Spoon the mixture onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper then bake for 25ish minutes until cooked through. Slice into finger shapes before serving.

4. Rice Pudding Balls - Little Dude loves these. I make a batch of rice pudding the night before using 50g pudding rice, 550ml whole milk and a handful of sultanas. I roll small bowls of cold mixture then dust them with cinnamon. 

5. Fruit Medley - Super simple but colourful, healthy and great for experimenting with textures. Pretty much anything works cut into finger shapes; watermelon, galia melon, apple (softened in the microwave for 30 seconds), peaches, pear, avocado... go crazy!

6. Crepes - Those who follow my Instagram feed will know I'm slightly obsessed with pancakes. My favourite method is to stew some blueberries in a little water until they're breaking down, then mix them into the pancake batter. I use a Good Food recipe for the batter which never fails. 

7. French Toast / Eggy Bread - This makes a great weekend breakfast for the whole family. Beat one egg, add a splash of milk then cut a slice of bread in half and dip it into the mixture for a few seconds to soak it through. Fry in a little unsalted butter and serve with strawberries. Mmmmm...

8. Weetabix - Quite a simple one but L absolutely loves it. I cut them into slices with a sharp knife, put them on his tray they pour milk on top to soften them. He enjoys the theatre of watching the milk pour down while I tell him to 'wait... wait... wait' before he gets stuck in. Beware: the stuff sets like concrete so make sure you clean up properly afterwards!

9. Fruit Teacake - Toasted, cut into finger shapes and slathered in butter. Comfort food at its best!

10. Crumpets and cream cheese - I never give more than 1/2 crumpet because the salt content tends to be high, but they work well alongside something else like fruit or a few cornflakes or cheerios. 

 What is your favourite breakfast? Comment below or tag me on Instagram @blwmamauk

Saturday, 21 March 2015

RECIPE: Sweet Potato and Pea Pancakes

This recipe is great if, like me, you always seem to have a lonely sweet potato lurking in the cupboard and not much inspiration about what to do with it. 

The quantities might need tweaking depending on the size of your potato.  Mine made a batch of 14 cakes; they freeze really well so just wrap a couple together in clingfilm and then defrost them overnight (or in the microwave) for lunch at short notice. They're also not too messy to eat so perfect for minimising the mess when you're eating out :)

1 Large Sweet Potato
2 Eggs
Approx. 50-75g Plain White Flour 
Approx. 200ml Whole Milk 
1/2 Cup Peas
Unsalted Butter for frying

1. Chop the sweet potato into cubes and boil for 10 minutes until soft.
2. Mash the potato until smooth.
3. Add the beaten eggs, flour (sieve it to avoid lumps), milk and peas. Mix well.
4. Heat a little butter in a heavy pan and dollop a palm-sized amount of batter into it.
5. Fry each pancake for 8-10 minutes until it has firmed up and changed to a lovely orange colour.

** Important - the batter needs to be the consistency of quite a runny yoghurt, mess with the milk and flour until it looks right!**

I usually serve them warm, cut into strips with a little butter or cream cheese.

Friday, 20 March 2015

RECIPE: The #InstaWeanTeam Brussels Sprout Challenge!

If you follow me on Instagram (@blwmamauk) you'll know that I'm a delighted to be part of the InstaWeanTeam; a group of Mamas who have challenged themselves to choose one key ingredient per week that we all make a meal with.

This week we've selected... drumroll please.... the BRUSSEL SPROUT! 

I love a few sprouts with my Christmas dinner but it's a vegetable that I tend to ignore for the other 11 months of the year. I've certainly never done anything with them other than boil them. So yes, definitely a challenge for me this week...

From the beginning I was set on making some sort of veggie fritter. Cabbage and mashed potato works brilliantly squished into balls and fried so I figured sprouts would work too. As usual, I've gone rogue and made up my own recipe and...boy, is this yummy!


180g Brussels Sprouts
1 Medium Leek
1 Large Egg
1 Slice Bread
2 Tbs Plain White Flour
40g Cheddar Cheese (Medium Strength)
Handful Pine Nuts
Black Pepper

Oil for frying - I used Organic Rapeseed Oil.

Heavy frying pan (so it doesn't heat too quickly)

1. Finely chop the sprouts and leek, saute in a little butter for 5 minutes or so until soft and cooked then put them into a clean bowl to cool.
2. Put the pine nuts in a bowl and squish them with a fork to grind them into small crumbs.
3. Heat the pine nuts in a dry frying pan until they start to change colour, then add them to the bowl of veg.
4. Grate the cheese and bread - the crumbs don't need to be too fine - then add to the veg.
5. Add the flour, pepper and beaten egg to the bowl, stir everything together well.
6. Pour a little oil into the frying pan and turn it onto a low heat.
6. Pick up small handfuls of mixture and squash it together in your hands to form a ball, before pressing them down gently in your hands to create a patty shape.
7. Fry the fritters for 5-10 minutes until golden brown and cooked through, gently turning then over a couple of times. 

Check out the #InstaWeanTeam tag on Instagram for new recipes each week or to tag us in something you try yourself.

The other Mummies made some delicious dishes too - we had sprout puff pastry tarts, shrimp and sprout stir fry, sprout pancakes and loads more!