Tuesday, 16 December 2014

December favourites - baby centred

This month it feels like Harry's moving away from a newborn - he's nearly 5 months corrected now, and we're fully embroiled in baby led weaning, sensory play and random bouts of giggling for no real reason. If I ignore the teething it's lovely

Survival blanket from Amazon - we use one of these as our 'moon' at Hartbeeps, and Harry loves it. A good friend mentioned you could get them in Poundland, but sadly ours didn't ever stock them so I turned to Amazon. I cut it into quarters as it's massive, but at just over £1 I'm happy for Harry to scrunch, chomp, dribble and wriggle on it as much as he likes

Sock-ons - recommended by one of my NCT friends, these really do work. And without them Harry permanently has one sock on and one sock off. If he's anything like me cold feet will only make him grumpy.

Touchnote - having family fairly spread out, this is a great way to send thank you notes and postcards almost immediately on taking that 'perfect' shot. It's ideal for use with Grandparents who don't have smartphones, and for when you need to immortalise that carrot smeared grin.

Moby wrap - I've been using a sling with Harry pretty much since we came home from hospital. When he was tiny it was a surefire way of gettong him to sleep - and now it's a convenient and cosy way for us to get around. I love it because of the closeness, and I like to think that he loves it for the same reason. I suspect it's because he can see more than when he's in the pram though.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Meal Planning Monday: A thrifty Advent

Hello there, we've had a few weeks hiatus on the meal planning front. Since we went dairy free to help Harry's reflux, I've stuck to the same few recipes as I realised quite quickly just how much I relied on dairy products in my cooking. Whilst I wouldn't change how I'm eating for all the world as Harry's just so much better, I've kind of lost much in the way of impetus for cooking.

This week the run up to Christmas has hit home - we've scaled back our Christmas plans this year as I'm on Mat leave still, but even so we're still watching the pennies. This has meant that once again, we're having a week of freezer surprises. Albeit planned freezer surprises.

Harry's now having two meals a day - his breakfast tends to be a little bit of porridge or toast, with some fruit. and his lunch is either steamed veggies, fruit, or most excitingly... plaice fish cakes.

Breakfasts - I'm having porridge with oat milk which is surprisingly neutral in taste.

Lunches - tend to be whatever's hanging around. Eggs feature quite heavily.

Suppers -

Monday: Baked potatoes with leftover ham in coca-cola, cheese, bacon, beans (fridge surprise basically)

Tuesday: Chicken and mushroom risotto (freezer)

Wednesday: Cottage pie/ lasagne (freezer)

Thursday: Parsnip and pancetta pasta

Friday: There are two unlabelled tupperwares of red mystery leftovers in the freezer. I'm tempted but not sure how brave I actually am.

Saturday: I've got a portion of brisket frozen to slow cook, and I think I'll put that on when we get back from swimming to have as a roast dinner that evening

Sunday: Leftover brisket with baked potatoes

That's our week - a thrifty run up to Christmas in a bid to spend a very little money and also make some space in the freezer for my much loved and looked forward to turkey soup!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Cornbread - with some cheeky chilli

Going without dairy is actually relatively adaptable in most of my cooking - while I miss the flavour of butter, cheese and chocolate I can replace the cows milk products with rice, coconut, or sheeps milk products. Except in tea. Nothing works in tea. Excuse me while I have a little weep.

To this end I adapted my cornbread recipe to become cows milk free so that we could have it with a chilli, and a barbecue bean casserole for my lunches last week.  I see it as an alternative to rice, M likes it as well as.

Despite the adaptation it remained a lovely light bread with no flavour of the coconut milk and the only tangible difference for me was that it was slightly drier than usual. I've also taken to adding chilli to everything lately (I have no idea why, but no, I'm not pregnant) and this was no exception.

Chilli cornbread - cows milk free

175g cornmeal
125g plain flour
45g caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
250ml coconut milk
1 egg
45g Pure (dairy free spread)
1 cup of frozen sweetcorn, cooked briefly in the microwave and drained
2 teaspoons of lazy chilli

1. Preheat the oven to 200 C.

2. Grease your tin - I used my brownie tin

4. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and stir until combined(ish) - this is a bit like making muffins, it's never going to be perfect and that's fine. Add the sweetcorn and chilli at the end

5. Pour and scrape into your tin and bake, for 20 minutes

6. Resist the urge to eat it all whilst warm. 

Monday, 17 November 2014

Meal Planning Monday: Preparing for festivties

I've started - amongst thinking about weaning, going dairy free, trying to keep the baby things scooped up together - I made the stuffing for Christmas day last week. The fruit for the cake is soaking in it's usual brandy, and the Christmas pudding is maturing nicely in a cupboard. This week I'm going to make the gravy which will then go in the freezer and next weekend I'll bake the cake so it's got a few weeks of feeding before I marzipan and ice it.

In other news, I'm still dairy free, and missing cheese wildly. However that pales into insignificance when I look at how much less Harry is sick. He's like a different baby. Obviously this gives us lots to think about in case this is a long term allergy, but for now we're embracing the weight gain (26oz in 3 weeks) and just going with it!

Meal wise this week, we're fully into our slow cooked winter warmers. Next weekend I'll make another batch of casserole both for our meals and the freezer, as our homemade ready meals are the saving grace of days when Harry isn't quite himself.

Breakfasts for me are porridge made with rice milk, either with chopped up banana or sultanas and brown sugar.

Lunches are falafel, houmous and pitta bread with carrot sticks and cherry tomatoes. Not particularly wintery I know, but easy to eat while I'm feeding.


Monday - freezer surprise (casserole I think)

Tuesday - Parsnip and bacon pasta but with pecorino instead of parmesan

Wednesday - Lentil ragu

Thursday - Leftover lentils

Friday - Breakfast for tea

Saturday - Chicken casserole with dumplings

Sunday - Super slow cooked brisket - which will take us into next week with leftovers for a cottage pie and hopefully some more pasties

That's our week - festivity preparation is gaining pace and other things are ticking along quite nicely *fingers crossed*

Friday, 14 November 2014

How do you like your eggs at lunchtime? Fridge bottom chilli spiked eggs

As I'm trundling through this dairy free process I'm not just bemoaning a lack of tea, but also it seemed that all my quick, go-to whilst breastfeeding, can be eaten with one hand lunches contained cheese, or milk, or chocolate. Digestives, mainly chocolate digestives. New options needed to be found, options with flavour.

Last week, I had half a packet of wholewheat pittas leftover from some earlier homous and pretty much nothing else in for lunch. A quick scour of the cupboards showed that we were out of pasta and similarly the fridge had some brocolli, a lot of milk (we must change the order with the milkman) all the bits of cheese I can't eat and some jelly I'd made the night before. As I'm pretty sure that jelly doesn't constitute the sort of balanced diet you need while breastfeeding, I did that thing of checking the cupboards again and decided on eggs. I normally scramble eggs with milk and butter, but in the absence of these just popped a little olive oil in the pan. Veg wise I literally used up what we had, but if we'd had mushrooms or ham would have happily added those into the mix - this is an ideal, fridge bottom dish.

Fridge bottom chilli spiked eggs

3 eggs, beaten lightly
Salt & pepper
1/4 red, green and yellow pepper
1 tsp olive oil
 Wholewheat pitta toasted
Tabasco sauce
Red chilli

Chop your red chilli and peppers into a fine dice, and gently cook in a small frying pan in the olive oil until just softened
Beat the eggs into a jug and season with salt and pepper
Add the eggs to the veggies and stir until cooked through
Sprinkle in tabasco to taste (liberally if you're me)
 Serve in toasted pittas and enjoy

If you're not dairy free, please add a load of good, strong grated cheddar. Just don't tell me how good it tastes. Please. 

I know some people might consider eggs to be dairy, but our paediatrician is happy for us to continue eating them for now.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Leftover brisket pasties

Whereas I'm a complete pro at One chicken many ways - leftover roast beef poses more problems for me - once I've made cottage pie of course. The last time I made my super slow cooked brisket I didn't have quite enough leftovers to make a cottage pie, and had lots of the veggies leftover too. That's when my brisket pasties were invented (I say that somewhat tongue in cheek).

I simply shredded the leftover meat with two forks, and put it to one side - the veggies were already cooked, and covered in the thick gravy/ sauce that the casserole makes. I found some puff pastry in the freezer and quickly assembled what were to be the basis of that week's packed lunches and suppers.

One egg wash and 20 minutes later we had some gloriously golden pastry filled to the brim (slightly overfilled in some cases - don't look too closely) with tender veggies and the shredded beef. M had them cold in his packed lunch, I had them warm for mine and both were a definite hit.

Pasties aren't something I normally think of when I'm thinking about leftovers, but they were an incredibly successful way of eeking out a tiny peice of beef into another 6 portions. Without hesitation I'd do these again. There's no recipe as such, as this is more of an assembly process. Hopefully the picture above gives you an idea of how they were made - and my inexpert crimping. I'm sure you can tell pastry is not my most comfortable place.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

November favourites - baby centred

In amongst this brave new world of motherhood I'm navigating, I'm coming across things that work, things that don't and things I couldn't do it without. I thought I'd share some with you each month.

Harry's 5 months actual, and 14 weeks corrected this month as that'll be something for you to consider if these recommendations are useful to you.

Lulujo muslins, I was given one of these as a gift and it was so useful that when unable to get anymore from Kiddicare I went online and searched out some more. We currently have 3 and they're indispensable - I use them as nursing covers, sunshades, swaddles, blankets, emergency sheets (ideal for when the baby has thrown up everywhere) and on rare occaisions as a muslin. Although I have been known to squawk - not the pretty one, and thrust a considerably smaller one at the baby. They're also epically soft - I expected all muslins to be soft, but there are most definitely degrees of superiority within the world of muslins.

Bumbo, our bumbo was a gift and although Harry's only really just starting to get used to it, it's fantastic. I can pop him up on the worktop so he's in front of me while I'm pottering in the kitchen (I'd never leave him up there unattended - it's safe because I'm right there), and he sits in it quite happily. Mark's Godmother put it rightly when she said he looks thrilled to be seeing the world from a position other than his back. It's light and portable and for a little baby like Harry, we're going to get some good use out of it. We're planning to use it when we re-start weaning.

Moonbulb, I've tweeted and Instagrammed the life out of this - Harry loves it (as do I) it's a coloured, rotating bulb from Maplin -  I think it's from their disco section? But is so pretty and really relaxing. We've just popped it into an anglepoise lamp that we've positioned so it points up on the ceiling - although you could put it in any bayonet fitting.

Lansinoh, I know every breastfeeding mum says it, but I couldn't be without it. Do you need any more information than that?


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