Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Roasted Tomato and Basil Soup

There is something incredibly comforting about a homemade tomato soup, and this version, with roasted tomatoes, really is a winner. Gorgeous in the summer with fresh, ripe tomatoes - in my case from my Dad's allotment, it's such a treat and so easy to make - it beats any shop-bought versions hands down.

Roasting the tomatoes, intensifies the flavour and gives that lovely, slightly charred, smoky element that makes for a delicious tasting bowl.

This is great for a family meal, with some hunks of fresh, crusty, buttered bread, or a simple light lunch alone too.

If you are watching your calorie or fat intake, simply omit from adding the crème fraiche or the Parmigiana shavings.

Roasted Tomato and Basil Soup


Here's how:
  • 600g fresh tomatoes
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stick celery
  • 1 white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch garlic salt
  • Pinch black pepper
  • Pinch sugar
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. crème fraiche
  • Handful basil leaves and stalks
  • Handful Parmigiana shavings to scatter over the soup

Firstly pre-heat the oven to 180-200. Place the tomatoes into a baking dish. I used a mixture here and halved the larger ones, putting them skin side down. Drizzle over 2 tbsp. of olive oil - use a good quality if you have it, it will make a difference. Now scatter over the tomatoes the garlic salt, oregano, sugar and black pepper and place into the oven for about an hour, or until juice has been exuded from the tomatoes and they are slightly charred - but not blackened.

Tomatoes pre-roasting


Roasted tomatoes


In the meantime prepare the 'base' of the soup, by firstly peeling and dicing the onion and mincing the garlic. Peeling and chopping up the carrot into small pieces and slicing the celery. All of this can be added to a heavy-bottomed pan with a tablespoon more of olive oil and placed onto a low heat until all has been softened, about five minutes. Then turn off the heat and set aside until the tomatoes are roasted.


Place the tomatoes, and any escaping juice in the dish into the saucepan now, and make up the vegetable stock, then pour over. Place the basil stalks into the soup and season liberally with black pepper and sea salt. Now place back on the heat and cook for 30 minutes then remove from the heat and allow to cool

Blitz to a smooth texture and return to the heat. Just before serving add the crème fraiche and most of the basil leaves and stir through, and once dished up into soup bowls, add the shavings of cheese and a few extra basil leaves for garnish. Enjoy!

Some other soup recipes you may enjoy:


Asparagus and Crispy Bacon Soup
Red Pepper Soup
Vegetable Soup
Curried Parsnip and Spinach Soup
Chicken Noodle Soup with Pak Choi Soup
Thai Sweet Potato Soup
Chunky Lentil Bacon and Kale Soup
Winter Vegetable Soup
Quick Pork Noodle Soup
Skinny Broccoli and Fennel Soup
Creamy Mushroom Soup without Cream

Baby Bites: Sweet Potato, Spinach and Pea Puree

Beatrice is six months old this week, and we are well established on the weaning front; she's been enjoying a range of homemade purees, and I will slowly start to introduce a wider selection of foods, meat, fish and different textures over the coming weeks.

In the meantime I will share some of the purees and meal ideas here, as I did with Bridget. Once again, I'm not anti-shop-bought when it comes to feeding babies and weaning, and am actually using the Aptamil Baby Porridge at the moment, for example, as the super soft texture is perfect for babies and I'm a huge fan of the Ella's Kitchen and Hipp Organic ranges too.

Recently we've been using the Lidl fruit pouches too, which are excellent and super convenient. In the main part, I do try to prepare most of the weaning dishes myself, because I can, and enjoy the knowledge that I know every ingredient that my baby is having, but having said that, I've found, like many parents before me from what I've heard, that second time around, I'm a lot more laid back around the whole weaning situation. I'm less neurotic over panicking if Beatrice has a taste of something that she shouldn't have at her age, she was in Crete last week, boiling and had a few licks of a frozen yoghurt - something I would never have done when Bridget was a baby, but she enjoyed it, didn't get a sore tummy, and it cooled her down into the bargain.

I stick by my original weaning 'tools' and say, that you can get by with a simple potato masher if that's all you have, it's what I used first time around and, still do for some of the meals. I'm so reliant on my Nutribullet these days though for myself, I use it at least once a day and it's excellent to help quickly blitz up a meal into a puree for weaning.

This puree is super simple; sweet potato, baked, and scooped out of the shell, a handful of washed, blanched spinach and a handful of boiled or steamed peas. Either mash all together with a little water or baby milk (breast or formula works) or pop into the Nutribullet, allow to cool a bit first, then blitz for 10 seconds.

Sweet Potato, Spinach and Pea Puree


You'll be left with a glorious, green coloured puree that doesn't look very appetising, but is full of goodness, and Beatrice has been wolfing it down.

Beatrice enjoying her Sweet Potato, Spinach and Pea Puree


If you use 1 medium sweet potato, one handful of spinach and the same of peas, this should make a good 3 portions. May your littles ones enjoy! 

Baby Bites: Weaning Breakfast Yoghurt and Banana

At six months old, Beatrice is well under way with weaning and like her big sister Bridget, she enjoys pretty much everything, she's a hungry baby and has been super content since the journey with solid food began.

For breakfast, we started out with the Aptamil Baby Porridge, and I do still give this a couple of days a week, but I like to offer variety and this yoghurt breakfast has been going down really well the past week, so I thought I'd share it.

Weaning Breakfast Yoghurt and Banana

 



A spoonful of Greek Natural Yoghurt, with a 2-3cm piece of banana, mashed with a fork, and then all mixed in together. It's a lovely, healthy breakfast, and one that my toddler loves too - her version is slightly more grown up with chopped banana, strawberries and blueberries and a drizzle of honey. I'm sure it won't be long until Beatrice enjoys the blueberries and strawberries as finger foods, but please remember honey is off limits for baby's under 12 months.

Natural Yoghurt with Mashed Banana


I still only allow Bridget to have Greek Natural Yoghurt as it only has the natural sugars inside - all the yoghurts aimed at children seem to have a shocking amount of added sugars and nasties - even the Yeo Valley Little Yeo's range, have a shocking amount of sugar per pot - it works out to almost 10% so just be cautious of these 'healthy' ranges aimed direct at your little ones. Enjoy!
Beatrice enjoying her yoghurt and banana

Monday, 24 July 2017

Lemon and Honey Yoghurt Cake with Blueberries

 
Bridget with her masterpiece - the Lemon and Honey Yoghurt Cake with Blueberries
Yoghurt cakes are a favourite in this household, they keep moist for longer than other cakes and can keep for a week or so in the fridge; if they don't get eaten sooner.

This one is flavoured with honey and lemon and I make it in a silicone bundt mould with blueberries popped onto the base, which makes a beautiful, squished blue and purple topping once baked; irresistible. With a quick lemon icing to finish the cake, it's always a crowd pleaser. You can play around with other fruits too but blueberries go really well with the lemon.

My eldest daughter, Bridget is almost three and absolutely loves cooking with me, and particularly baking. I think it's a great, sensory activity for children of all ages, and love the thought that I am instilling into her an interest and indeed, a passion for food and cooking. Today's bake is our first 'big' one together, outside of biscuits, cupcakes and fairy cakes, and I was so pleased it turned out so well to see her little happy face.  

Lemon and Honey Yoghurt Cake with Blueberries


Here's how:

  • 325g caster sugar
  • 60g butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 230g Greek Natural Yoghurt
  • Rind of one lemon
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 175g self raising flour
  • 100g blueberries
  • drizzle of vegetable or rapeseed oil

For the icing:
  • 150g icing sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Firstly pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees and lightly grease your bundt mould or tin with the vegetable or rapeseed oil. (Obviously you can use a different shaped baking tin if you don't have a bundt). If using a silicone mould, like myself, place onto a baking tray or tin.

Pop the blueberries into the base of the bundt (or other) mould, no particular pattern, just try to evenly spread them around.



Separate the eggs, with the yolks being popped into a large mixing bowl and the whites into a smaller one.

Now add to the egg yolks the butter and sugar and beat until smooth. Add the rind of the lemon and the yoghurt and mix well. Now stir through the honey.



Now beat the egg whites until soft peaks are formed and there are lots of bubbles, to ensure a good rise. Now slowly fold the egg whites into the cake batter.

Finally pour the batter into the cake mould, even out as much as possible and then place the mould into the centre of the oven.



Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown, and when pricked with a skewer, it comes out dry.

Leave to cool for 20 minutes before turning out onto a cake stand or plate, and once turned over, gently peel the mould away.

Lemon and Honey Yoghurt Cake with Blueberries pre-icing


To make the icing, simply sift the icing sugar into a small bowl, and juice the lemon and mix well. You should be left with a thick, glossy, white icing. Use a spoon to drizzle over the top - be warned if making this with a little person, like Bridget, expect this to become a bit of a sticky mess, but it only adds to the fun. For a final flourish, add the leftover lemon zest over the top of the icing.

Lemon and Honey Yoghurt Cake with Blueberries


Leave the icing to set for thirty minutes or so, and then serve, preferably with a mug of tea. Enjoy!

Some other cake ideas that might be fun to make with your little ones:
Guilt Free Apple Cake
Pig Face Cupcakes
Double Chocolate Traybake
Chocolate Cornflake and Marshmallow Cakes
Lemon Drizzle Cake
St Clement's Drizzle Cake
Lemon Curd and Blueberry Muffins
Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Family Day Out: Stepney City Farm

We enjoyed a fabulous afternoon out this week at Stepney City Farm, in the East End of London; a gem I'd never visited before and that was fun for all of the family.


Stepney City Farm

Bridget saying hi to the chickens
Fun at Stepney City Farm

Stepney City Farm
 

The city farm is fairly compact as far as farms go, but packs in plenty.

Animal feed is available to purchase at the farm reception so children are able to try their hand at feeding their favourite animals, Bridget loves animals so she found this super fun.

There are lots of 'buzz facts' boards up around the farm with interesting little nuggets of information about farm life and the animals within, which provide an interest and an educational side to the trip - perfect for older, more curious children.

Stepney City Farm buzz fact


In the centre of the farm is a huge area dedicated to some allotments for local residents. My Dad has recently took over an allotment so this proved to be quite interesting to my Mum and I, less so for Bridget and Beatrice and my brother Dan who came along for the fun. You can tell a real care and dedication goes into these small growing patches, every effort has been made to repel birds and bugs from eating the produce and we saw some impressive things growing, from courgettes, tomatoes, squash, onions and an abundance of beautiful smelling fresh herbs. The farm apparently sells 'veg boxes' to locals too, which I thought was great. 
 
Allotment at Stepney City Farm


The farm hosts a number of events for locals - there was a music group for toddlers taking place when we arrived and there's a play section with lots of toys and ride ons available to enjoy - again popular with Bridget.

There is a little farm shop, which was unfortunately shut on Friday when we visited, and a picnic area too.

Stepney City Farm runs as a charity organisation, so rather than ask for an entry price fee, there are simply donation points to offer up what you can afford or would like to pay. This makes for an affordable day out for the family, especially if you have more than one child; a lot of farms or petting zoos charge a fair amount per adult and child, so for the summer holidays, this is a great shout as a cheap way of keeping them entertained for a day!

Stepney City Farm has a heart and soul that is based all around the local community, and there's something really special about that.
 
Stepney City Farm is open Tuesday-Sunday 10am-4pm and is about a ten minute walk from both Limehouse and Stepney Stations.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Chunky Lentil, Bacon and Kale Soup

This is my final and favourite post from my 'Seven Days of Soup' challenge - the Lentil, Bacon and Kale Soup was utterly delicious and a different version to the one I often make.

Keeping it chunky really made it feel more hearty and more of a meal than some of the more watery soups and it felt like a real, restorative, robust treat during my week long liquid diet. I've made it again since, and this will firmly be one of my staple soups going forward.

Chunky Lentil, Bacon and Kale Soup


Here's how:
  • 2 rashers smoked bacon
  • 250g red split lentils
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 2 litres chicken stock
  • Pinch sea salt
  • Pinch black pepper
  • Handful bay leaves
  • 1 pack kale
  • Water to top up as necessary
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

Firstly place the lentils into a sieve and give a very thorough rinse to remove any excess dirt or starch from the lentils. Keep running water pouring over if possible whilst you prepare the other parts of the soup.

Place the coconut oil into the pan and onto a low heat. Cut the bacon into small pieces and add to the pan to slowly cook through.

Peel and finely chop the onion, mince the garlic and finely dice the celery stick and add all the pan. Throw in the thyme and rosemary and season generously.

Peel and dice the carrot into small cubes and add to the pan with the lentils. Cook like this for five minutes.

Now pour over the stock and give a thorough stir through and up the heat to a medium. Add the bay leaves now too.

You will need to keep an eye on the soup throughout cooking and remove the 'cooking scum' or the weird bubbly mess that will rise to the top of the pan. Cook for a good 30-40 minutes, then remove the bay leaves.

Now remove about 2 ladle fulls of the soup and set aside. Once cooled, this will be blitzed then returned to the pan, so there is a real combination of textures. Taste at this point and add salt and or pepper as required.

Once the blitzed and chunky part of the soup are combined, return to the heat and add the washed kale and allow to cook for 7-8 more minutes before dishing up into deep bowls. Enjoy!

The other soups I enjoyed during my 'Seven Days of Soup' included:

Asparagus and Crispy Bacon Soup
Red Pepper Soup
Vegetable Soup
Curried Parsnip and Spinach Soup
Chicken Noodle Soup with Pak Choi Soup
Thai Sweet Potato Soup



Vegetable Soup

Another one of the soups I enjoyed during my 'Seven Days of Soup' challenge whereby I took on souping and juicing for one week, to shift some baby weight before our family holiday to Spain (7lbs in one week is not to be sniffed at).

This particular soup though is a fail safe, and can be adapted to whatever you may have in the fridge or larder. I make this regularly and batch cook so it makes a family dinner, but then the same again, which goes in the freezer for another week. Soup freezes really well!

Feel free to adapt to the ingredients you have to hand but I suggest always using either a white or sweet potato, a carrot or parsnip to make up the 'bulk' of the soup. This recipe is suitable for vegetarians too.

Vegetable Soup


Here's how:
  • 1 white potato
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 parsnip
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 1 leek
  • cupful peas
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1.5 pints vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed or vegetable oil
  • Handful bay leaves

Firstly pour in the olive oil into the pan and place on a gentle heat. Peel and dice the onion and mince the garlic and add to the pan.

Slice the celery and leek and they can go into the pan too.

Peel the potato and wash thoroughly, add to the pan. Do the same with the carrot and parsnip.

Make up the vegetable stock and pour over. Give a stir and season accordingly with the salt, pepper and bay leaves.

Cook for 30 minutes until the vegetables are soft to touch with a fork.

Remove the bay leaves and allow to cool slightly. Then blitz with a hand blender or a Nutribullet or alternative blender, return to the pan and re-heat. Enjoy!


The other soups I enjoyed during my 'Seven Days of Soup' included:

Asparagus and Crispy Bacon Soup
Red Pepper Soup
Curried Parsnip and Spinach Soup
Chicken Noodle Soup with Pak Choi Soup
Thai Sweet Potato Soup
Chunky Lentil, Bacon and Kale Soup

Red Pepper Soup

This soup is bright and vibrant - perfect for a summer's evening or afternoon - it looks and tastes equally beautiful and takes hardly any time to prepare at all.

The final flourish of natural yoghurt with harissa stirred through before serving, only adds to the Mediterranean allure of this dish and it made a welcome addition to my 'Seven Days of Soup' challenge whereby I followed a liquid diet of souping and juices for 7 days and shifted half a stone of baby weight pre-holiday. Delicious!

Red Pepper Soup


Here's how:
  • 3 red peppers
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 aubergine
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1.5 pints vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp natural yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp harissa
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Firstly pour the olive oil into a pan and place on a medium heat.

Peel and dice the onion and garlic and slice the peppers and add to the pan to soften.

Roughly chop the tomato and aubergine, which will add a slightly firmer texture, and add to the pan.

Once the contents of the pan are slightly soft, add the sea salt, black pepper, oregano and pour over the vegetable stock. Cook for 20-30 minutes.

Now cool slightly before blitzing with a hand held blender or you can do in a Nutribullet as I do then return to the pan to reheat before serving.

Whilst re-heating, combine the yoghurt and harissa and mix well and just before stirring swirl through the soup for a final, delicious addition of flavour. Enjoy!

The other soups I enjoyed during my 'Seven Days of Soup' included:

Asparagus and Crispy Bacon Soup
Curried Parsnip and Spinach Soup
Chicken Noodle Soup with Pak Choi Soup
Thai Sweet Potato Soup
Chunky Lentil, Bacon and Kale Soup
Vegetable Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup with Pak Choi

This classic Chicken Noodle Soup is my absolute go-to 'quick dinner' if I'm short on time or have been out all day, as it takes hardly any preparation but is packed full of flavour and is so super nourishing too.

I always turn to this if I'm feeling under the weather too - it's true it is medicinal - it must be the chilli, garlic and ginger. Restorative and delicious this was another soup in my 'Seven Days of Soup' challenge recently - this one is a naughty carbohydrate one though with the noodles but the Mama Instant Rice Noodles complete this meal for just over 160 calories per portion and they're well worth it.

You can of course cook your chicken for this soup yourself, but for me it benefits from being made from cooked chicken (throw the bones in and remove before serving) and using a really good quality, or homemade chicken stock.

Chicken Noodle Soup with Pak Choi
 

Here's how:

  • 500g cooked chicken
  • Handful Spring onions
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 cm fresh ginger
  • 1 chilli
  • Handful mushrooms
  • Handful bean sprouts
  • Handful fresh coriander
  • Handful fresh chives
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Shaohsing wine
  • 1 tsp Sriracha sauce
  • 1 lime
  • 2 portions Mama Instant Rice Noodles or alternative
  • 2 bulbs of Pak Choi
  • 1.5 pints good quality chicken stock

Firstly tear up the chicken and throw into a large pot. Use kitchen scissors to snip in the full spring onions.

Peel and slice the garlic and ginger and place all in the pot. Slice the mushrooms and chilli, keeping in the seeds, and add these too.

Pour over the stock, the fish sauce, sesame oil, sriracha, shaohsing and soy sauce and cook for 30 minutes.

In the final few minutes of cooking, add the noodles, and tear in each individual leaf of the pak choi. This will literally need 1-2 minutes more of cooking.

Now remove from the heat and add the final seasonings. Cut the lime in half and squeeze over half into the pot and stir. Now tear in the coriander leaves and throw in, add the bean sprouts, which will cook enough in the heat of the broth and finally again use the kitchen scissors to snip in the chives. Stir thoroughly and serve each portion in a deep bowl with a sprig of coriander and an additional lime wedge for personal seasoning. Chilli fiends may wish to add some fresh, raw chopped chilli too. Enjoy

The other soups I enjoyed during my 'Seven Days of Soup' included:

Asparagus and Crispy Bacon Soup
Red Pepper Soup
Vegetable Soup
Curried Parsnip and Spinach Soup
Thai Sweet Potato Soup
Chunky Lentil Bacon and Kale Soup

Thai Sweet Potato Soup

Another hearty, warming and delicious soup that formed part of my 'Seven Days of Soup' whereby I followed a liquid diet for 1 week pre-holiday to shift some further, stubborn baby weight and lost half a stone.

This one is heavy on the spice so not for the faint-hearted, and if you have it over more than one sitting (makes sense when making a batch of soup) expect the heat to intensify overnight.

It's really simple and you can use either Green, Yellow or Red Thai Curry paste - I use Sainsbury's own brand Red personally.

Thai Sweet Potato Soup


Here's how:
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3cm piece ginger
  • 500g Sweet Potato
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 pint vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp Red Thai Curry Paste
  • 1/2 tsp Fish sauce
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • Handful fresh coriander
  • Pinch black pepper
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

Firstly pop the coconut oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and place on a low heat. Then peel the garlic and onion and finely dice - add to the pan to soften.

Peel the ginger and slice and add to the pan.

Peel the potatoes and cube into small pieces - add to the pan with 1 tbsp Thai Red Curry Paste, sea salt and black pepper and allow to cook for a few minutes.

Now add the coconut milk and make up and pour in the vegetable or chicken stock with the fish sauce. Allow to cook for 30 minutes, then check the sweet potato with a fork - it should be nicely soft - if not cook for a further 10 minutes then test again.

Once you're happy the potato is soft, add the fish sauce, lime juice and coriander and allow to cool before blitzing in a blender or Nutribullet.

Return to the heat once blitzed until completely warmed though - enjoy.


The other soups I enjoyed during my 'Seven Days of Soup' included:

Asparagus and Crispy Bacon Soup
Red Pepper Soup
Vegetable Soup
Curried Parsnip and Spinach Soup
Chunky Lentil Bacon and Kale Soup
Chicken Noodle Soup with Pak Choi

Curried Parsnip and Spinach Soup

Another delicious soup recipe which formed part of my 'Seven Days of Soup' souping/liquid diet adventure pre-holiday and really helped boost my postnatal weight loss.

The parsnips make for a hearty, almost creamy soup but without the heavy calories of a cream-based soup and the sweetness is offset by the curry and spices - a traditional flavour pairing, but one that works time and time again. You can up-spice if you're a chilli fiend or make slightly milder if you have some diners that are less tolerant of heat.

Guarantee you'll make this more than once after the first time - so easy, so delicious and moreish. You can stir through a tablespoon of crème fraiche or sour cream at the end if you want a slightly richer finished article - but be warned it ups the calories and fat content significantly.

Curried Parsnip and Spinach Soup
 
Here's how:
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 400g parsnips
  • 1.5 pints vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 heaped tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 bag spinach
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

Firstly peel and dice the onion and mince the garlic and add to a heavy-bottomed pan with the coconut oil and place on a low heat to soften.

Peel the parsnips and cube then add to the pan with the curry powder, salt, pepper and all the spices. Stir so all parsnips are slightly covered in the spices.

Make up the stock and cover the parsnips. Place the lid on and simmer for 30 minutes.

Allow to cool before blitzing with a blender or Nutribullet and then return to the pan to re-heat. Add the washed spinach one minute before dishing up as it will cook incredibly quickly. If adding crème fraiche stir through the entire pot before dishing up. Enjoy!

The other soups I enjoyed during my 'Seven Days of Soup' included:

Asparagus and Crispy Bacon Soup
Red Pepper Soup
Vegetable Soup
Chicken Noodle Soup with Pak Choi Soup
Thai Sweet Potato Soup
Chunky Lentil Bacon and Kale Soup

Asparagus Soup with Cripsy Bacon

This is a lovely soup recipe for a light summer meal - especially healthy if you are watching your weight - low on calories but packed full of fresh flavours. 

I enjoyed this soup as part of my self-coined 'Seven Days of Soup' a liquid diet I underwent for a week before my holiday in a bid to shift some stubborn baby weight (7lbs lost in a week). Glen and Bridget enjoyed the same dinner with some crusty bread.

Asparagus Soup with Crispy Bacon


Here's how:
  • Bunch asparagus
  • 3 celery sticks
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1.5 pints vegetable stock
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Fresh chives
  • 1 rasher smoked bacon per bowlful
  • Drop of rapeseed or vegetable oil

Firstly pour the oil into a heavy-bottomed pan and place on a light heat. Peel and roughly dice the onion, mince the garlic and chop the celery and add to the pan to soften.

Break off the rough ends of the asparagus - you can usually find this by gently bending until it snaps off.

Once the onion, garlic and celery mixture is softened add the asparagus to fry for a moment and make up the stock in the meantime.

Pour the stock over and season - cook for 30 minutes.

Once the soup has been cooking for 20 minutes or so, you can grill the bacon. You want it to be crisp and deliciousness, crispy enough so you can snip off pieces and drop into the soup when cooked.

Take the soup of the heat and blitz to a smooth pulp (note if using a Nutribullet allow to cool first so it doesn't explode!)

Re-heat the blitzed soup and when cooked through and piping hot pour into bowls. Snip on the crispy bacon and a handful of fresh chives per person - use kitchen scissors rather than a knife.

Enjoy!

Turkey and Hidden Vegetable Bolognese

Like most parents I speak to, we sometimes have a hard time encouraging Bridget to eat her vegetables. Gone is the foodie baby that barely turned her nose up at anything, and in her place is an opinionated, strong-willed, almost three-year old young lady who refuses point blank to eat carrots. Except of course when Mummy has cleverly disguised them in a number of different ways. Pasta sauces are the easiest, as the carrot can simply be grated into the sauce and this turkey Bolognese has become a family favourite over the past few months.

I've been favouring turkey over my usual steak or pork mince as it's got a much lower fat and calorie content, which has been key in me still having delicious, homemade food, but with tweaks, such as these to slowly but surely reduce the baby weight gain!

This is a fantastic, cheap and healthy family meal that freezes well too. I have been enjoying this alone or with some courgette but I serve with pasta for Glen and Bridget - I'm sure it won't be too long till Beatrice enjoys some Bolognese too.

I very finely chop or dice the rest of the vegetables so they aren't detected by Bridget and have done the same for friends' children too - one of which is almost a teenager and has no idea so this is a parenting trick I'm sure I'll be using for years to come.

Turkey and Hidden Vegetable Bolognese
 

Here's how:
  • 1 white onion
  • 450g turkey mince (I prefer thigh as it's less dry but breast is fine too)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 sticks celery
  • 1 courgette
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 tomatoes
  • Handful mushrooms
  • 1 jar or carton passata
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • Black pepper
  • Salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp red wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • Glug of good olive oil

Firstly pour the olive oil into a non-stick pan and place onto a low heat. Really finely dice the onion and mince the garlic and place into the pan. Once softened add the turkey mince and slowly brown, using a wooden spatula to break up as you cook and avoid it all sticking together in one big lump.

Add the cinnamon, black pepper and salt to taste.

Finely dice the celery and roughly chop the tomatoes and add to the mince mix.

Peel and grate or very finely dice the carrot and add to the mix.

Finely dice the courgette and slice the mushroom (or if also hiding that, dice too) and add to the mince with the passata, Worcestershire sauce, oregano, red wine and tomato puree.

Finally make up the chicken stock and add to the Bolognese. Stir thoroughly and keep on a low heat to cook through for as long as you can. An hour to two hours makes for a really richly intense flavour, but if you are short on time, 30 minutes will do it. Taste during cooking and add additional seasoning if need be.

Serve alone, or with some pasta of your choice and a little Parmigianna or other hard cheese of your choice. Enjoy!

Introducing Beatrice

Firstly hello again, and apologies for a nearly 8-month silence.

I've been rather busy welcoming our second baby daughter; Beatrice, into the fold and adjusting to life as a family of four, rather than three. Life has been more hectic than ever before but also wonderful. Beatrice is six months old this week.

Beatrice

Sisters

We've packed in two family holidays, a parents-only weekend in Glasgow for a wedding and several days out together, not to mention, handling some pretty intense terrible twos situations with Bridget, our eldest, and tackling her 'fussy food' stage, which thankfully seems to be passing now.

Weaning fun has begun again too with Beatrice following in her sister's footsteps and enjoying the homemade purees I've made for her. We're just introducing finger foods now at six months and as well as revisiting some classic recipes I shared first time around, such as Cauliflower Broccoli and Cod Cheese and Nourishing Veggie Soup I'll be posting some new recipes and puree ideas too.

Whilst this blog will always remain true to its' original foodie heart, it seems right now that I'm a Mummy of two, that the focus shifts slightly to reflect that, so expect to see more family food at home and eating out ideas, family activities and days out and of course travel that is practical and fun with little ones. Food and recipe creation continues to be a huge passion point - I just have two small additional passions to consider now too.