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Tag Archives: lunch

Beetroot and yogurt risotto

Beetroot is a vegetable I’ve only grown to love cooking with recently, most probably as I’ve previously written, my experience of it growing up was ready-cooked, sliced and in tins.

When it’s in season, beetroot features a lot in our weekly delivered fruit and vegetable box, and that’s encouraged me to try using it in different ways. I’ve blogged my most successful recipes to date: beetroot, feta and thyme muffins, pink (beetroot) pancakes and beetroot and yogurt dip. The dip is what got me thinking about making a beetroot risotto.

beetroot and yogurt risotto

Cook your beetroot in your preferred way (or buy it precooked to cook down on preparation time). I like wrapping them in one piece of foil and roasting them in the oven; there’s no need to trim or chop them. Once they’ve cooled, it’s easy to remove the skin. You can also cook them in the microwave.

Surprisingly, this risotto doesn’t taste overly of earthy beetroot and the yogurt gives it a lovely (healthier) richness and creaminess without adding the usual extra butter and parmesan at the end. Kids (and adults) will love the colour and Nicholas happily ate it. I used red wine to add to the colour and liked the extra depth of flavour it gave, but white wine would work just as well.

BEETROOT AND YOGURT RISOTTO

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 20-25 mins
Serves 4 adults

400g cooked and peeled beetroot
1 tbsp olive oil
15g butter
1 onion, finely diced
350g risotto rice (I used Carnaroli)
250ml red wine
1 litre hot vegetable (or chicken) stock
150g Greek yogurt

Roughly chop the beetroot, put the pieces in a small food processor and blend until smooth.

Heat the oil and butter in a medium-sized pot over a medium-low heat. Add the onion and gently fry until softened.

Add the rice and quickly stir it so all the grains are coated. Add the wine and stir until it’s absorbed.

Start adding the stock a ladle at a time, letting it absorb then adding more. Keep doing this until the rice is ready (cooked but still with a little bite, about 15-20 minutes, and still moist). Remove from the heat.

Gently stir through the beetroot then the yogurt. Check for seasoning.

Tip: keep a small piece of beetroot aside and finely dice it to sprinkle over the top before serving.

What are you favourite ways of cooking with beetroot?

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Cute Lunches: Hearts

The only theme we could have for lunch on February 14th is hearts!

Valentine's bento lunchI made my Super Quick Cheat’s Pizza, cutting out heart shapes from the tortillas and topping them with a drizzle of olive oil, a smear of tomato puree, chopped ham, shredded spinach and grated cheese.

I added red grape hearts (slice each in half diagonally and turn one half 180 degrees) and strawberry hearts (slice in half and cut out a small V-shape at the top).

Eats-Amazing-Fun-Food-FridayI’m linking our hearts lunch up to Eats Amazing’s Fun Food Friday, a weekly round-up of fun and creative food.

Parsnip Soup

While my friends and family in Australia are trying to cope with heat rising above 40C, we’re snuggling together under blankets to keep warm.

We’re also trying to be healthier after the usual Christmas/New Year over-indulging, and soup continues to be an easy way to get Nicholas to eat a variety of vegetables (even if sometimes he HAS to drink it through a straw!).

Parsnip SoupPARSNIP SOUP

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15-20 mins
Makes 4 adult servings

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
500g parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 tsp garam masala
1 litre hot vegetable or chicken stock
Salt and pepper
Handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, parsnips and carrots cook for about 4 minutes until the vegetables are starting to soften.

Add the garam masala and a little salt and pepper, and cook for another minute.

Add the stock, bring to the boil then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes until the parsnips and carrots are soft.

Take off the heat, toss in the parsley and purée until smooth (either in a food processor or using a hand blender). Check if you need to add any seasoning.

If the soup is too thick after puréeing, stir through some milk (or coconut milk).

Variations:

  • For a curried parsnip soup, replace the garam masala with curry powder
  • Add some grated ginger with the garlic for a little more zing

What dishes to you and your family eat to feel warm?

Cute Lunches: Taco Monster

Happy Halloween everyone! While I made this snack for Halloween, monster-loving little ones would love it at any time of the year.

Halloween bentoI carefully drew eyes and a nose on a taco shell (I definitely need to work on drawing scary features!) then filled it with ham, cheese and baby leaf spinach. I cut teeth from a slice of cheddar and tucked some of them under the filling and stuck the others, using dots of mayonnaise, to the top of the taco shell (serve before they have a chance to fall off!). As a treat, Nicholas also had some ghost crisps.

How are you and your family celebrating Halloween?

Spinach crepes

We pretty much always have fresh spinach on hand. It’s easy to throw in a handful to boost the nutritional content of a surprising number of meals. A few leaves get added to Nicholas’ breakfast banana milkshake and my morning protein shake, a few handfuls into dinner casseroles just at the end of cooking, and pasta sauces, scrambled egg and savoury muffins also often have some spinach.

If you want to wilt the spinach before adding it, don’t get out a frying pan. Fill up your kettle and turn it on, put the spinach leaves in a sieve and then pour over the just boiled water. Use a wooden spoon to press out as much excess water as you can and, when it’s cool enough to touch, squeeze out more with your hands. Easy and less washing up to do!

savoury crepes

Adding spinach to a crepe mixture works really well. You end up with amazingly green crepes (we call them ‘monster food’) without any bits of spinach your little one might be tempted to pull out. Fill them with your munchkin’s favourite filling and they should be a hit.

My recipe feeds 2 adults plus 1-2 toddlers, but is easily doubled so you can freeze some for another day (put baking paper between them before you freeze them to separate them more easily), or keep the leftover batter in the fridge to make more the next day.

Leftover crepes also work really well in lunchboxes. Spread with a soft cheese and some ham, roll up like a swiss roll and cut slices about 2cm thick.

SPINACH CREPES

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Makes 6 crepes
Freezable (without filling)

50g fresh spinach
150ml milk
75g plain flour
1 egg
1 tsp butter, melted and slightly cooled
Fillings such as grated cheese, sliced ham, shredded cooked chicken, sliced tomatoes.

Preheat your oven to 120C.

Put the spinach and milk into a bowl or jug and use a stab blender to combine until the spinach has completely broken up (or use a small food processor).

Add the flour and egg and blend again. Finally add the melted butter.

Put a small frying pan over a medium-low heat and either coat with cooking spray or a little extra butter (wipe any excess butter away with kitchen towel).

Add a ladleful of batter and swirl the pan to evenly coat the base.

Cook for 1-2 minutes on the first side (the edges will start to curl up) then turn to cook the other side. Turn the temperature down to low and add your fillings. Cook for another minute before folding in half and then in quarters.

Put the cooked crepes into an ovenproof dish and put in the oven to keep warm as you make the rest.

AlphaBakes LogoI’m linking this recipe to the AlphaBakes monthly challenge (this month it’s the letter ‘C’) jointly hosted by Ros from The More than Occasional Baker and Caroline from Caroline Makes.

Savoury courgette and pine nut muffins

I’ve found muffins are a great way to get some extra vegetables into Nicholas’ diet. He can help me make them (which usually results in him eating more of them), they’re an easy-to-eat finger food (and very easy to pop into a lunchbox) and so wonderfully adaptable (you can pretty much throw in anything you have in the fridge!).

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s courgette and pine nut muffins intrigued me when I came across them. He makes the point that these flavour combinations work well in a pasta dish and also work in a muffin, which makes my mind wander to other pasta flavours to experiment with in a muffin form. I was also curious to discover if the addition of some oats was noticeable in the end muffin (no, although I used normal-sized porridge oats rather than his suggested jumbo oats).

Amazingly for me I didn’t make any changes to Hugh’s original recipe. After tasting them I did wonder about leaving the sultanas out next time, but they do add a lovely burst of sweetness to the other savoury ingredients which I think little people (as well as big people) will like. The added texture of toasted pine nuts also works very well. I’ll be making them exactly the same from now on! Oh and I can confirm that they freeze well.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

SAVOURY COURGETTE/ZUCCHINI AND PINE NUT MUFFINS

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 18 mins
Makes 12
Freezable

200g plain flour
40g jumbo oats
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1-2 tsp flaky sea salt (depending on how salty your parmesan is – you can easily leave this out for toddlers)
A few grinds of black pepper
8 large basil leaves, shredded
60g parmesan, coarsely grated, plus another 20g or so to sprinkle on the top
2 eggs
250g whole milk yoghurt
4 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
200g courgette/zucchini, coarsely grated
40g pine nuts, toasted
40g sultanas

Heat the oven to 200C and line a muffin tin with 12 paper cases.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, bicarb, salt, pepper, basil and parmesan.

In a separate smaller bowl (or jug), whisk together the eggs, yoghurt and oil, pour this over the dry ingredients and stir with a spatula until roughly combined – don’t overmix.

Add the courgette/zucchini, pine nuts and sultanas, and stir until just evenly distributed.

Spoon or scoop (using an ice cream scoop) the batter into the muffin tin and sprinkle over the rest of the parmesan.

Bake for about 18 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.

Leave them to cool in the tin for a couple of minutes to firm up before transferring them to a cooling rack.

What other yummy pasta flavours do you think would work well in a muffin?

 

Cute Lunches: Pizza Minions

‘Despicable Me’ is one of Nicholas’ favourite films (especially the ‘Banana’ short film), and one or more of his beloved toy minions are regular guests at his tea parties. We have yet to see the sequel, but in the meantime I made some pizza minions.

cheat's pizza, Despicable Me

These are really just a variation on my recent pizza bears, using my Super Quick Cheat’s Pizza recipe.

I cut out oval shapes from tortilla wraps (using kitchen scissors is much easier than cookie cutters), drizzled them with olive oil, added homemade tomato pasta sauce with some hidden veg, and a sprinkle of grated cheddar. I cut the minions’ features from a small piece of courgette/zucchini: thin strips, small circles and various mouth shapes. I added small pieces of grated cheddar for the eyes.

While the pizzas were cooking, I used an edible ink pen to draw another couple of minions on to yellow cherry tomatoes (difficult and messy!).