Sausage and Chickpea Stew

Posted by Matt

December 18th, 2014

It’s been quiet around here. So I’m going to start posting some of the goto recipes I cook for the kids. Mostly easy, hearty, flavourful stuff that you can eat half of then freeze portions for later. We use this to stock up on pots to send into nursery.

Sausage and Chickpea Stew

One pack of sausages (I use Cumberland style by default, but works with veggie ones too).
2 Onions, peeled and chopped
2 Potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 Carrots, peeled and chopped
Handful of white mushrooms, chopped in half
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
1 tin of chickpeas
2 heaped teaspoons of chopped garlic (for the lazy, pre chopped from a jar)
3 heaped teaspoons of paprika
1 heaped teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
A few chilli flakes to taste (you can add a couple a it’ll give it zing without most kids noticing)
1 mug of stock (real stock if you like, but a veggie stock cube will do)
1 big oven-friendly cast iron pot

Method:
Fry onions and mushrooms in some olive oil with a knob of butter in the pot. Meanwhile preheat oven to 200 degrees C / gas mark 7 /390 F.

Once onions are soft and slightly browned, add the sausages and cook until they start to brown.

Add the spices, stir until they coat everything, then add the chopped vegetables.

Add the tomatoes last.

Add the stock and worcestershire sauce. They should cover the veg.

Place in the oven with the lid on. Cook for about an hour, removing the lid for the last 20 mins. Sauce should be thickened/reduced and not too wet.

Serve with couscous, rice or crusty bread.For a family of four you should end up with about half left to portion up and freeze for later.

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Weaning & Feeding Hacks

Posted by Matt

September 15th, 2012

Weaning, the process of moving your baby onto solid food, is something I missed a lot of first time round. Work and its attendant commute cut out the mealtimes, leaving me the occasional weekend feed. By the time I dropped to working four days a week my daughter was on mostly normal, if babified, food.

So, second time round it’s different. I’ve been off on additional parental leave since my son was six months old, so the bulk of the weaning has actually fallen to me. This means I get to experience the fun of vomited up butternut squash and half choked on rice cakes… More seriously, the joy of watching a baby experience new food is great! The keen-ness and excited waving of hands when a baby when it wants more of a new taste is wonderful to behold.

So there’s certain things that are useful in weaning, especially at the early stage it’s baby rice and pureed vegetables all the way. Kit-wise, get some silicone ice-cube trays. These are ideal for storing frozen pureed vegetables and much, much easier to get stuff out of than the solid plastic ones. Get cheap ones in multiples, Wilkinson’s or a pound shop for real value, if you buy the official “Annabel Karmel Weaning Tray” you’ll get ripped off. A cheap hand blender is pretty essential too.

Freezing pureed veg or fruit allows you to break out a few cubes and microwave them for any meal (make sure it’s cool before feeding it to the baby!) in varying combos. Half a butternut squash will fill a tray, so it works out as a very cheap way to feed and an easy way to store the food. A weaning guide of some sort is useful, if nothing else than for inspiration and knowing which foods to avoid early on. You can borrow those from a library though and a good for tips on quick mixing recipes (it’s where I picked up butternut squash, apple and cinnamon as a good combo).

Feeding wise, my most useful tip is when trying something new, mix in a little of something the baby has already tried. This can lead to odd combos (banana and mashed potato!), but avoids too many looks of utter disgust when a new taste is encountered.

With all this pureeing, we’ve steered away from shop bought pastes and baby food; too many of those would bankrupt you anyway. The only real exception to this are Ella’s Kitchen (warning, sound) or Plum pouches, which are pretty ideal for stuffing into a change bag when heading out for the day. One thing we did do, is sign up for every baby club in sight when our son was born, this meant that just before weaning we got a vast number of vouchers for free or cheaper baby food. Bananas though, being easy to carry and easily mashable are similarly useful on outings and a lot cheaper.

Overall weaning is going well so far. My son is now moving on to yoghurts and other tastes. Hopefully his good mix of early foods will stop him being too picky when older…

So, what did you use and find useful when introducing your baby to solids? Post your tipes in the comments!

Oh, yeah. And its always worth reading the government guidelines.

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Gro Bags

Posted by Matt

April 5th, 2012

One of the most useful things we invested in with both our first and second child was a Grobag.

Seriously, you can faff about with optimising the correct combination of blankets and tucking them in just right and then watch them kick the layers off with the ease of an escape artist… Or you can just invest in one of these mini sleeping bags. The child stays a consistent temperature, they don’t kick off blankets and thus have more chance of sleeping. Which also means you have a better chance of sleeping, which is a win for everybody.

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