“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in”

Can you place the quote? That’s right! This week I am channelling Michael Corleone in the Godfather Part III. Why? A family blood-feud? No, just that these words were squealed (with an edge of small child hysteria) at my dinner table last week;

“Mummy, is this ONION?, you know I don’t like ONION!”.

What, little child!?! You don’t like onion? Since when??? Onion has been liberally used throughout most of our meals for the past few years, but suddenly this week, it is being identified and picked out of everything. Then with a face screwed up in disgust, the child is smearing half chewed chunks over the table and turning a peaceful family meal into a battle scene.

Just when I thought I was on the home straight of Vegie-Smuggling I realise that I still have many years of food fads to go.

What to do when these phases hit?
1. Keep calm. Don’t inflame the situation by arguing, particularly if you have one of those argumentative little lovelies who enjoy nothing more than a battle.
2. Stay in charge. Try to get your kids to eat it all up, assertively reminding them that they’ve eaten it before and loved it before.
3. Serve a similar dish again within a few days. See if the aversion was a once-off, or something you are going to have to deal with.

If it’s a definite new food problem, head back to your vegie-smuggling basics. If you’ve been cooking with nice big chunks of the culprit veg, go back to grating it for a while, or replace with a variation. For me, grating the onion or replacing it with spring onion has been enough to keep the last couple of nights calm (and the dinners still tasty).

Within a week or two, just go back to normal. Your lovely fickle offspring will (hopefully) have forgotten all about it. Kids are good like that. Unlike the Corleones.

a meal that smuggles all vegies

This was my first vegie-smuggling recipe!

Cheesy Pots

This recipe is one I return to again and again as a fail-proof dinner that smuggles nearly anything.

2½ cups of any fresh vegetables, chopped super-fine or grated. I use peas, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, carrot and canned corn.
50g ham, diced (optional)

Cheese sauce
40g butter
2 tbsp plain flour
1½ cups milk, warmed
125g cheddar cheese, grated
Salt & black pepper

Preheat oven to 180C.
Microwave or steam each of the vegies separately until just starting to soften. Mix them together with ham, if using, and distribute evenly among overproof dishes.

For the cheese sauce, heat the butter in a non-stick saucepan over low-medium heat. Add the flour and use a wooden spoon to stir for 2 minutes. Gradually add the warm milk. It is important to do it gradually and stir constantly. The mixture will thicken into a paste before smoothing back out into a glossy sauce.

Bring sauce to the boil, remove from the heat and add the cheese. Stir until melted. Season to taste.

Divide sauce evenly among the ovenproof dishes. Place on an oven tray and bake for 25-30 minutes until bubbling and golden.

MAKES 5 CUPS (divide between ovenproof dishes to suit your family).

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14 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    I did this tonight for my littlies; Miss2 and Mr4, like you this was my first venture into vegie smuggling. I used frozen peas and corn, a cube of frozen spinach and fresh celery and baby carrots. I also sprinkled two tsp of dried breadcrumbs over each pot to make it a little bit crunchy on top. It was a hit and Mr4 asked if he could help me make it in the future. This is even with him asking what the celery was. Thank you for a great blog. I plan on the sausage rolls and meat free bolognaise sauce later in the week.

  2. 3

    Rebecca Kroes said,

    I actually can’t stomach onion myself – so I replace it with leek and shallots – gives it that onion flavour, but not as harsh on my stomach! Oh and a quick thank you – your vegetarian lasagne is a favourite in this house 🙂 the only changes I make is the whole onion thing and we use smooth ricotta over cottage cheese. My kids love their lasagne bites 🙂

  3. 4

    Mel B said,

    Yum! These look delicious. I’ll add these to the list of new recipes to try 🙂

  4. 5

    Mel B said,

    I actually tried these on the weekend with broccoli, baby spinach, carrot, zucchini, frozen peas, ham and canned corn. Absolute winner – even hubbie loved them!

  5. 8

    Does this freeze well? I want to have some backup meals in the freezer for my son…

  6. 10

    Pip said,

    Had great success with this one last night – clean ramekins from Miss 2 (the fussy one) and Miss 4. Put in pumpkin, baby spinach, carrot, and frozen peas and corn. Was so happy to see it all eaten up – thanks you! BTW how long do you allow for the food and ramekins to cool? It took much longer than I expected and I had to put them in the fridge…

  7. 11

    Pip said,

    PS rather than freeze it, I kept half the mixture in the fridge to use later in the week – will that work do you think?

    • 12

      wendyblume said,

      I’d use it within two days just to be on the safe side. Glad it worked out – such a good flexible recipe – you can pop anything in there! And yes, they hold their heat for ages – it can take a good half hour! If you’re in a hurry then tip the contents into a plastic bowl and chuck it in the fridge for a bit. Not as pretty 🙂

      • 13

        Pip said,

        Fickle Miss 2 wouldn’t touch it the next time I served it – grrrr! Trying it tonight with fish added and calling it Fish Pie (have also decanted into a plastic bowl to cool it down and then re-ramekined it for Miss 4)

      • 14

        wendyblume said,

        Aren’t they delightful! Heaven forbid they’d like anything two times in a row! Good luck, the fish will be yummy (at least you and your hubbie can enjoy the leftovers).


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