Posts tagged freezer

Living dangerously (with added nuts)

Every now and again I feel the need to live dangerously. Like last night, when I ate carbs (processed and white) at 8.15pm. Or last week, when I exited out of the carpark through the ENTRY driveway. Talk about crazy times. Not quite on par with some of the stunts from my earlier days but you know how it is – a couple of kids come along and suddenly life is being lived a little differently.

Pre-children I never gave nut allergies a care nor realised how dangerous they are (there’s a great info page here). Equipped with my new knowledge (and surrounded by my kid’s friends with these allergies) it’s hard to use nuts in a recipe without feeling like you’re being the most irresponsible parent in the world. Nuts in the hands of the wrong kids can be life-threatening. Although nuclear weapons in the hands of legendary nutter, George Bush, was also life-threatening, and yet we’ve all managed to live through that one.

Every now and then though, I break free and have a nut off. The thing is you see, that if you are in the 99% of us who are allergy free, then nuts are awesome. They offer you nutrition (lots of relevant info here) and flavour that just can’t be substituted with any other ‘safer’ ingredient. And this recipe (whilst not as full on ‘out there’ as my nut puff recipe) uses almonds in a really good way.

While not all schools are nut-free, the majority of them maintain a pretty strict policy on food. It was refreshing at our old school – which was small and had no anaphylactic kids – we could still pack peanut butter sandwiches. But I totally get that most schools are larger, and need to impose blanket bans to cover their own bums. It is interesting to note though, on this NSW Government policy PDF that ‘Banning of foods or food products is not recommended. There is a lack of evidence to suggest that banning a food from a school is helpful in reducing the risk of anaphylaxis.”

So while these muffins would be perfect in lunchboxes, you may need to pay heed to your school’s policy and most likely keep these for afternoon tea instead.

vegie smugglers choc chip almond and banana muffin

Mmmmm, I fancy one right now!

Choc chip, almond & banana muffins

Even better than the taste of these muffins is that you can measure out the whole recipe with one half cup measure! Ah the joys of no fuss baking.

1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup choc chips
1/2 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup grape seed oil
2 eggs
3 overripe bananas

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a 12 hole regular muffin tin.

In a large bowl combine the sifted flour, sugar, choc chips and almonds.

In a jug or smaller bowl, mix together the oil and eggs. Pour into the dry ingredients. Mix a bit then add the mashed bananas. Stir everything well but don’t overwork.

Divide evenly into the muffin holes. Bake for 25 minutes or so, until golden and cooked through.

Makes 12

Leftovers freeze well!

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Supermarket memory games and Boston baked beans (TOOT TOOT)

So lucky I write these things down…

I’ve developed this amazing memory game for forgetful mums like myself, in need of some intellectual challenge. It goes like this…

Spend about 30 minutes menu planning for the week, then writing out a comprehensive shopping list with every single thing you need, vaguely sorted into aisle order. This will make your grocery shop as simple as possible so that you can spend the entire time on autopilot, letting your brain drift off elsewhere, like a beach, with a handsome man giving you a foot rub and thoughtfully applying sunscreen. ANYWAY. Pack the lunchboxes, get everyone dressed and off to school. Drive to the supermarket, remembering the reusable bags. Find a parking spot near the entrance, grab your bags, grab a trolley, roll into the store and spend the next few minutes checking every pocket like a flapping idiot before clearly remembering that the list is sitting on the kitchen bench at home.

Good game? I love it. I play it ALL THE TIME.

Yes, I know, there are apps to sort out this aspect of my life, but I’m old fashioned and find the act of writing lists surprisingly soothing. And generally the act of writing a word sticks it into my memory, which is handy, considering I’m now going to shop for a full week’s food without MY LIST.

Perhaps I should be pleased that my pass rate on this game is about 96%. The fun ‘marking’ bit of the game is when you get home, check through the list and realize that you‘ve only forgotten two things. FUCK FUCK FUCK. Almost always crucial items, which entails shifting meals around so that Tuesday’s dinner now becomes Monday’s, and Tuesday’s entertainment will be heading back to the supermarket for two missing items.

The silver lining is that today is only Tuesday and yet in a feat of time travelling mastery, I’m able to post a meal that I planned for Tuesday, since I had to make it on Monday. The fish sauce, which I needed for Monday night’s dinner will be procured today and used to make Tuesday night extra tasty.

Thankfully, this dish was a huge hit last night, which surprised me considering my kids are not big fans of tinned baked beans. Even better, the recipe uses treacle & mustard powder, items located but rarely used in my kitchen. I always feel good-homemaker-virtuous when I manage to run out of an ingredient before it reaches it’s use-by date.

Vegie Smugglers boston baked beans

Easy to make, freezes well, kids (and adults) love it.



Boston baked beans (with bacon & sausage)

4 sausages (tomato & onion flavoured ones are good)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 brown onion, peeled, finely diced
1 carrot, peeled, finely diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
150g bacon, excess fat removed, finely diced
2 tbsp treacle
2 tsp mustard powder (or 1 tbsp Dijon mustard would be nice, but I forgot to buy it)
400g can crushed tomatoes
400g can borlotti beans (rinsed & drained)

Preheat the oven to 180C. Bake the sausages for 25 minutes (turn once halfway through cooking) while you prepare everything else.

You need a covered casserole dish for this recipe – save time & washing up by using a stove to oven dish. Otherwise, fry everything off in a frying pan and transfer to an ovenproof dish…

Heat the dish/frying pan over medium heat. Add the oil. Chuck in the onion, carrot, celery and bacon and fry, stirring fairly often for 8-10 minutes until soft.

Add the treacle and mustard powder and combine well. Pour over the tomatoes, add in the drained beans, cover with a lid and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, let the cooked sausage cool enough to handle, then slice up.

After 30 minutes, remove the lid. Mix in the sausage and return the uncovered dish to the oven for another 10-15 minutes until thick and delicious.

Serve with green salad & a nice sourdough bread.

FEEDS 2 ADULTS & 2-3 KIDS.
__________________________________

If your kids like sausages don’t miss my sausage fried rice.

ON-SALE-GLUTEN-FREE

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Vegetable subterfuge (and when to tell the kids the truth)

Admittedly, the placement is poorly thought through.

Turns out that Mr Meat & Potatoes has been in the habit of overshooting the toilet and weeing in the plastic bathroom bin. Doing its job well, the swing-lid has been closing post-stream and I’ve been none the wiser. Now, without revealing too much about my lax home-making abilities, I had noticed a smell but thought I’d just give it a few more days before investigating. You know, in case it was going to fade away all by itself and my intervention was unnecessary.

It didn’t though. The smell got stronger, almost to the point of rancid and then I realised I was going to have to do something about it.

So I sniffed about and there in the bottom of the bin was a puddle of urine that dated back several days.

I wondered if this was my little boy’s subconscious way of getting back at me for all of the vegetables that I’ve hidden in his food over the years. Perhaps his angelic little face is hiding a brain that is secretly ranting, “and this hidden piss mum, THIS is what I really think of all of your hidden zucchini”. Or perhaps I’m just reading a bit too much into it?

Often I get asked about how much subterfuge goes into my meals. Do I TELL my kids what they’re really eating?

The answer is yes and no. When they first sit down and see something pleasing and smell something delicious, I’m not going to kill the mood by blurting, “hope you enjoy the mushrooms”. But once they’re finished, or if they ask mid-meal, I happily let them know what ingredients they’re gobbling up. Since I’m past the emergency, early days of absolute food rejection, I’ve now moved onto food education, which is a really important second stage. I need my kids to know now, that a meal is more than a single ingredient. That even an ingredient that they don’t THINK they like, can be combined with other ingredients in truly tasty ways that they DO like.

So yes, I DO tell my kids what they’re eating. It’s a vital part of teaching them that healthy food is part of the every day and something to be celebrated and enjoyed. And once your kids are eating a wider range of meals, it’s a good time to start with the wider education at your place. Get them talking ingredients, teach them how to choose good produce, encourage them to help out with little tasks in the kitchen.

And perhaps one day soon, they’ll even be big enough to start cleaning the bathroom.

Wee little meatloaves (boom tish!!).



Individual meat loaves

These are an easy to make vegie-smuggling basic. They store in the fridge for several days, can be cut up for sandwiches or wraps and crumbled into baked potatoes. And they freeze really well too.

Canola oil cooking spray
2 slices multigrain bread
1 carrot, peeled, roughly chopped
1 zucchini, roughly chopped
Handful of green beans, ends removed, halved
3 spring onions, roughly chopped
2 frozen chopped spinach cubes (about 50g), thawed, OR a big handful of English spinach, finely chopped
500g beef mince
2 tbsp tomato chutney
1 tsp soy sauce
(optional)
1 egg
Black pepper

Preheat oven to 180C. Spray a 12-hole muffin pan with cooking spray and line with paper cases.

Use a stick blender to do the chopping for you. Start with the bread. Make your breadcrumbs and add to your mixing bowl. Then chop the carrots then zucchini, then the beans and spring onions, adding to a mixing bowl each time.

Use your hands to combine the remaining ingredients. Divide the mix into 12 portions and press firmly into your muffin tray.

Bake for 20 minutes or until browned on top and cooked through. Serve with salad, steamed corn cobs and tomato sauce.

MAKES 12

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I give you permission to stop (why there’s a difference between being busy and having purpose)

A deck worth stopping on.

There’s nothing but sunshine and autumn brilliance in Sydney this morning. It’s a heart lifting respite after a miserable summer and to celebrate I drank a cup of tea out on my glorious and rarely-used-during-the-week deck. Why rarely used? Because, of course, I am usually too busy to stop and enjoy it. Too busy packing lunches, filling book orders, ironing shirts, getting sucked into the internet, marketing my business, hanging washing, trialing recipes, filling in forms, listening to readers, finding new freelance design clients, worrying about finances, volunteering at reading groups, reading my emails, making cookbooks, texting, organizing play dates, being a taxi, doing hair, correcting manners, blogging, chasing bargains, checking my email, viewing blog stats, baking cakes, fixing toys, paying bills, removing stains, networking… STOP! STOP! STOP! STOOOOOOOOPPPPPPPPPP! And I complain that my children are fidgets.

I’m a big fan of social researcher Rebecca Huntley. She usually has interesting points to make and she expresses them in such blunt, accessible terms. On the radio talking with Richard Glover on International Women’s Day, she discussed recent qualitative research done with young mothers. Pervading all aspects of parenting was a self-imposed guilt (about everything) and our compulsive need to make ourselves busy. As if busy-ness equals purpose, we never give ourselves a moment’s rest.

I am a prime example of this, but with the recent departure of Mr M&P off to school, I am now confronted with the gap between being busy and having purpose. With a full 5 hours of totally self-directed time in my day I find myself at a bit of a loss. There’s too much thinking time in it. Too much time to contemplate my life, my (increasing) age, my foibles.

In typical modern-day style, I’ve been contemplating a return to the more structured workforce, so that life can return to the maniacal pace that seems more psychologically comfortable. So I can be like all of the other overstressed parents who are so important that they’re never in the playground but have more crucial places to be.

Yes, I know, overscheduling simply postpones the existential contemplation of life, but doesn’t solve it.

When’s the last time you had a true moment of reflection? What did you discover in the process? If you haven’t stopped for a while, today, I’m giving you permission to just sit and think. I’d like to hear how you go – is it easy or difficult is it for you to do?

I know of course, that you’ll struggle to do it when you have SO MUCH TO DO. Therefore, today’s recipe is one to make ahead and pop in the fridge; ready to reheat when you need it. With dinner done, you’ll have a moment to stop and look within and see what’s there.

Anyway, my thinking time is up. Just heard the washing machine beeping… life calls and continues on.

Turn off the TV, just sit and eat in silence tonight. Can you do it?



Vegie & chicken tagine

1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, finely diced
1 leek, finely chopped
500–600g chicken thigh fillets, trimmed
1 zucchini, finely chopped (peel if your kids won’t eat green)
½ eggplant, finely diced (peel if you prefer)
4 tomatoes, diced
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp turmeric (for colour)
1 tbsp honey
Large handful of sultanas

To serve:
Steamed couscous
Flaked almonds
Chopped parsley
Steamed peas

Heat the oil in a large saucepan (with a lid) over medium heat. Fry the onion and leek for 4–5 minutes until softening. Add the whole chicken pieces and cook on both sides until golden (it takes a few minutes each side).

Cook the zucchini, eggplant, tomato and spices. Stir well, cover, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes until everything is cooked through. Stir every 10 minutes or so to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom.

Add the honey and sultanas. Taste and season with salt and black pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes.

Serve over couscous, topped with almonds and parsley and accompanied by peas.

SERVES 2 ADULTS & 2 KIDS

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5 updates from the real world

I’ve been in a slight panic recently, realising that with each year away from the ‘real’ workforce, my skills are becoming increasingly redundant. Even though I work from home, it’s a cruel fact that employers like your CV to be up-to-date, so as a bit of workforce insurance I’ve been picking up a few days freelance work here and there.

With the phrase “you’re not getting any younger” ringing in my ears, I ventured back to a REAL OFFICE filled with child-free hipsters in a groovy part of town.

Confused? Me too... read on...

The world has changed in the last two years. So in the interest of keeping us all as modern-as-tomorrow, here’s 5 things I noticed about 2011.

1. UGLY SHOES

Everywhere there are women tottering around in sky high monstrosities that look bad and are obviously uncomfortable. Wide straps, clunky heels, garish colours. I can’t really see any design grace or aesthetic covetability – but there you have it, ALL the girls are in them. And sometimes with socks. Already I’m confused and feeling very old.

2. LONG HAIR

This has been the case for a while now, with every 16-26 year old girl in the Western world wearing their long hair in funny topknots hovering on top of their heads. This does look pretty cool, doesn’t it, so it’s a shame that I cut my hair all off years ago once a baby arrived and it was permanently drenched in vomit. I suspect many of you are in similar situations. Probably for the best, rather than being ‘cool’, I now need my hair to ‘flatter’ my face and hide as many wrinkles as possible. Another trend for the kids.

3. LEGGINGS WITH SHORT TOPS

Everywhere I walked I was confronted with jiggly bottoms of girls who’d forgotten to put their skirts on. I know black is supposed to be slimming, but this is a pretty high-risk trend, and not one to be attempted by anyone born in the 1970s. Maybe you young mamas from the 1980s might still get away with it, but the rest of us should just keep our leggings for comfy bedtimes. Chalk this one up to another trend that looks bad and makes no sense to me.

4. DEVICES

Two years ago, if you had a snazzy device, you hid it. I would keep my ipod under wraps on the train, in case someone mugged me. These days they are SO ubiquitous that you can type on your ipad and answer your iphone loudly and in total safety.

5. THE CUTE GUYS ARE GETTING OLDER

Have you noticed that phenomenon? I realised that the vaguely hot men I was checking out (sorry husband) were all the ones dappled with grey. They looked so much more SUBSTANTIAL than the foppish youth in tight saggy jeans and girlie haircuts. They all looked hard working and lovely, heading home to their young families. They looked a lot like my own lovely best friend. Let’s hope this trend works both ways and these men are also thinking about how SEXY us older ladies are too.

And of course a few days back in the workforce reminded me of how bloody exhausting it all is, trying to keep a career going and nurture your family and have a happy partnership and maybe have two seconds to yourself. Cooking just gets shoved right down to the bottom of the pile, doesn’t it? It takes so much planning to incorporate any healthy eating into a situation where you’re out of the house for 12 hours a day.

So I was back to the recipes that I developed a few years back, remembering why I spent so much time devising meals that were freezer perfect and easily made ahead. It does take a bit of effort on weekends, but all of these dishes can be made in big batches and then are simple to reheat whenever you stumble in the door – tired, with a head reeling from the complexities of the modern world.

Mash. Freeze or keeps in the fridge for several days. Serve with meatballs, sausages or a tin of tuna..

Adam's bolognaise

Bolognaise. The kids will happily eat this every week.

vegie smugglers chicken pasta and vegetable soup

Hearty soups. Filling and reheated in a jiffy.

And with that, I’m off to the burgeoning pile of dirty laundry and filthy house that was in good working order when I left it just a couple of days ago…

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My top five ‘go-to’ dinners

The other day on talkback radio the topic of discussion was how few dishes you could actually cook. The winner was some dad, who could cook 1 dish. And he’d been cooking it for 30 years without variation.

Apparently there was some study that the average person is able to cook only five dinners. Although I’ve just done some web searching and haven’t managed to find details of the study. Do you think it’s a myth?

A while back I remember reading on Lymes and Lycopene a post about this topic, and it linked to this interesting 2009 study which listed the nine most eaten meals in British households. All the regulars are there – spag bol, roasts, pasta etc etc. I suspect the Australian list would be pretty similar. Probably with a chicken stir-fry and Thai green curry to reflect our geography.

Sounds dull, but it’s no surprise that busy parents go back to the same meals each week.
1. You know you can cook them quickly.
2. You know the kids will eat them.
3. You’ve probably got all of the pantry items you need.

I wouldn’t dare interfere and say that this is wrong, but will point out that if you can manage to mix in a couple of ‘new’ recipes each week, your kids will be much more comfortable about leaving their food comfort zones and you’ll avoid a lot of the ‘I don’t eat that’ food battles.

So for inspiration, here’s a list of my five meals that I resort to often. I promise you that they are quick, easy to make and after a quick shop, you’ll have all of these ingredients in your pantry too, meaning that your ‘go-to’ list of easy dinners is now, instantly, 10.

sausage fried rice from vegie smugglers

Use up whatever is in your fridge or pantry in an easy fried rice


1. FRIED RICE
Even if you don’t have the ingredients for this exact recipe, a bit of egg omelette (just a whisked egg, fried), leftover rice and whatever canned or fresh vegies you have can be a delicious fried rice. Keep your flavourings simple – my kids are always happy with just a splash of soy sauce and mirin.
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Beef & lentil fajita recipe

A light summer meal that comes (mostly) from the freezer

2. FAJITAS
I’ve usually got a packet of tortillas in the cupboard, and some (slightly soggy) cucumber and tomato. And I always have a small container of this beef & lentil fajita mix in the freezer. It’s a great recipe for summer when you want to convenience of freezer meals, but are looking for a lighter option.

_____________________

Tuna quesadillas

Leave out whatever ingredients you don't have on hand

3. QUESADILLAS
And on the nights that are going so badly that even the freezer is bare, grab a tin of tuna and corn and you’ll have these quesadillas ready in a jiffy.

_____________________

Lamb and feta meatballs

Another flexible freezer winner


4. MEATBALLS

These oven-baked meatballs are easy to make ahead and taste great (to key to them is to make them with crumbly, not mushy feta). They are yum on pasta as the recipe suggests, but we ate them last week in tortillas (I’m seeing a theme here) with tomato chutney, diced fresh tomato, avocado and capsicum. Yum.

_____________________

And lastly? Here’a new recipe from Vegie Smugglers 2 – (have you bought your copy yet?) – that I just keep making and making. I find that I can drain off a fair bit of liquid and chop the meat up well (I cook up the kid’s portions then hack into them with kitchen scissors) and they happily slurp it all up. Then I can add chilli to the soup, leave it to brew for an hour or two until my best friend gets home and then he and I can chuck in our pre-prepared ingredients and enjoy a delicious adult, style dinner within minutes.

vegie smugglers beef pho

Prepare all this ahead, for days when your afternoon is going to be frantic



5. BEEF PHO

6 cups beef stock
2 tbsp fish sauce
4cm piece fresh ginger, peeled, cut into slices
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp sugar
1 carrot, peeled, sliced into thin rounds
4 spring onions,
thinly sliced
400g lean beef (sirloin or rump), very thinly sliced – easily done with meat from the freezer
16 sugar snap peas
200g rice noodles
Bean sprouts

To serve:
Lime wedges
Coriander
Sliced spring onion
Fresh or dried chilli (optional)

In a large saucepan, combine the stock, fish sauce, ginger, star anise, cinnamon and sugar. Bring to the boil then simmer over low heat for 15 minutes (or up to an hour if you have time).

Add the carrot and cook for 2 minutes, then add the spring onion and beef for 2 minutes more. Finally, add the sugar snap peas and remove from the heat.

Prepare the noodles according to packet directions and divide between your bowls. Place the bean sprouts on top.

Ladle over the soup mixture. Top with lime, coriander, spring onion and chilli (if using).

SERVES 2 ADULTS & 2 KIDS

I'mnotslow

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A sniff of delicious things to come?

If you’re in a climate similar to mine, then you may also have noticed the exciting development of magnolia trees coming into flower. For me, they are the first flowers of hope.

I seriously struggle through early winter and as I’ve had numb feet for over 2 months now, I can’t tell you how excited I get by the sight of these trees in bloom. They mark the turning point don’t they? They come first, then there’s blossoms everywhere – jasmine flowers, daffodils and before we know it we’ve made it through yet another winter.

Vegie Smugglers chilli with no chilli recipe

Just time left for one last winter warmer!

But, in truth, there’s still a way to go yet, so while the cold weather lingers, let’s scent the air indoors with this fantastic chilli con carne. It’s an awesome slow cook that fills the air with yumminess. This version doesn’t actually have any ‘hot’ ingredients in it that might offend the kids, but the flavor is so delicious and enticing. And it’s another flexible dish, with a stacks of goodness hidden in the stew, then topped off with ingredients to tempt each individual (including chopped chilli on the adult’s servings).

The corn chips are another magic lure ingredient. I just crumble up one or two chips for each kid and they go a really long way. It’s a fun concession that helps the whole dish get gobbled up.

Chilli (with no chilli)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 kg chuck steak, trimmed, cut into 2–3cm cubes
20g butter
2 onions, diced
1 large carrot, peeled, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp cumin powder
800g can chopped tomatoes
2 cups beef stock
¼ cup red wine
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp dried Italian herbs
2 tsp sugar
400g can red kidney beans, rinsed, drained
1 green capsicum, seeded, finely diced

To serve:
Finely diced avocado
Finely diced tomato
Grated cheddar cheese
Corn chips
Chopped fresh or dried chilli

Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium–high heat. Use paper towel to pat any moisture off the meat. Add the butter to the pan and when foaming, add the meat. Don’t overcrowd the pan; usually you will need to do this in two batches. Turn the meat and brown on all sides. Remove and set aside.

Add a little more oil, if needed, and cook the onion and carrot for a couple of minutes over medium heat until softening. Add the garlic and cumin and stir for 30 seconds then add the tomatoes, stock, wine, herbs and sugar. Return the meat to the pan. Bring to a simmer then reduce the heat right down. Cover and cook for 1½ hours, stirring every half hour or so.
Remove the lid, taste and season with salt and black pepper, then add the kidney beans and capsicum and simmer uncovered for another half hour. It will be cooked now, but if you have time, leave on a really gentle simmer for up to 3 hours.

Serve with avocado, tomato, cheddar and broken corn chips. Slices of sourdough are also delicious.

SERVES 2 ADULTS & 3 KIDS

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Balayage and the freezer – (why neglect is a good thing)

Did you know that there is a new hair trend at the moment called ‘balayage’? No, neither did I. But I found out about it at my most recent hair appointment. I like to pry ‘cool’ information out of my lovely hairdresser who is a whole 15 years younger than me. Being typically mum-busy, I rely on her to keep me up-to-date. You see, now that I AM a mum, I don’t really like LOOKING like a mum. Although the fact that I’m usually found in the school yard wearing a puffer vest is a bit of a giveaway (well it IS cold, and they ARE warm).

Anyhow, balayage, is a fancy French term for mega-long regrowth. WOW. And my hairdresser wanted me to PAY for that?

Armed with my new knowledge of ‘what’s cool’, I’ve managed to produce my very own balayage by avoiding the salon for 3 months and utilising that mummy beauty secret – NEGLECT. If only it worked as well on leg-hairs and fingernails.

So with neglect on my mind, let’s eat from the freezer this week – I’m far too busy growing my regrowth to possibly cook.

lentil burger recipe

Freeze these lentil patties individually, wrapped in cling wrap.

Adam's bolognaise

I freeze this, pasta and all, in kid-sized serves

Rissoles with yummy stuff smuggled inside!

These lamb patties will freeze well for 2-3 months

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Potato détente

At the risk of trivialising and being flippant about the Anzac legend and the atrocities of World War I, dinner time at my house does on occasion have me contemplating the war strategies faced by the German leaders of the time. Just as things calm down on one front, another opens up and just as the French are learning to sit still and eat their peas, the Russians start screaming “I don’t want anything mushy”.

What I’m clumsily saying is that the food and vegetable fight is fought on two battlefronts at my house. There’s the flavour battle, which is one I’m winning, thanks to my ever-growing stockpile of smuggling recipes. But then there’s the texture war. While Corporal Meat-and-Potatoes refuses mush or any soft food, Lieutenant Fruitarian fights anything too chewy or requiring too much utensil work and I struggle to find a happy balance.

Unlike the mums on the homefront in 1914, I do have a few mod cons working to my advantage, the freezer being a particularly useful one. Whilst I refuse to cook two dinners in one night, I do have to make textural concessions. I can get them eating the same piece of protein (ok, yes, perhaps it is just sausages), but potatoes for Mr Meat-and-Potatoes are best served chopped into chunks, tossed in oil and baked for 25 minutes and Miss Fruitarian gets a serve of this mash.

To avoid daily inconvenience, make a huge quantity of this recipe. Freeze large spoonfuls on oven trays and when solid, transfer to freezer bags for easy storage.

End the war with a stockpile of mash in the freezer.

Vegie Mash

1 carrot, peeled, diced
1 swede, peeled, diced
4 potatoes, peeled, diced
1 zucchini, grated (peel first if your child is scared of green bits)
1 cup grated cheese
¼ cup milk
Olive oil
Salt & black pepper

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the carrot and swede and boil for 5 minutes. Add the potato and boil for 10-15 minutes more. Use a fork to test that the vegies are cooked enough to mash easily. Drain.

Meanwhile, place the zucchini in a microwave-proof dish, cover and zap on high for 1 minute. Drain any excess water.

Mash the carrot, swede and potato for as long as you need to get the texture your kids will enjoy. Stir in the cheese and zucchini – the cheese should melt nicely. Add the milk and olive oil as needed to get a nice creamy texture. Season to taste.

On a good parenting day, serve this with fish fillets baked in lemon juice and herbs. On a bad day, add drained canned tuna. On a terrible day, serve with an enticing dollop of tomato sauce and peas.

SERVES 2 ADULTS & 4 KIDS AS A SIDE DISH

FREEZING & DEFROSTING INSTRUCTIONS
Scoop separate portions onto an oven tray, cover with a large freezer bag and freeze for a couple of hours. Once frozen, snap them off the tray and store in a freezer bag back in the freezer. Squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible. Use within 1 month. Reheat in the microwave, stirring every minute until steaming hot.

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