Tag Archives: Veggies

A very retro Sweet ‘n Sour Pork

Sweet & Sour Pork Recipe

So we’re now in the third month of the Swallow Recipes for Life Challenge and the chosen three ingredients were a potentially tricky Pork, Sweetcorn and Tomato. I have to admit to pondering for quite some time before coming up with my Retro-tastic Sweet & Sour recipe. And my sincere apologies now for the absence of any authenticity, and if you’re likely to be offended please look no further!. But I can nevertheless assure you it’s a pretty tasty dinner.

Admittedly not a dish I’m usually a big fan of, and I’m always a bit sniffy of the take-away version, but this homemade recipe was a bit of a hit in the Chez Foti household. The kids happily chowed down and successfully consumed a healthily pleasing quota of veggies, but then anything inclusive of fruit and/or sweetcorn and served with rice is usually onto a winner with them. I really should confess to very much enjoying it myself too, way more than I thought I would, though I did perk mine up somewhat with an additional (very) hot chili. And it proved a delightful and worthy use of the very last of my Homemade Tomato Ketchup.

swallow-recipes-for-lifeJust in case you missed the earlier challenges, the lovely Vanesther of Bangers and Mash Chat has tasked fellow bloggers to come up with wholesome, delicious and easy-to-cook recipes using three key ingredients, that members of the Swallow cookery club can cook themselves. Swallow is a Somerset based charity that help adults with learning disabilities to lead more independent lives, including the running of cookery courses and the preparation of meals for themselves.

Sweet & Sour Pork

Sweet & Sour Pork

Great for: Toddlers & Young Children, Bigger Kids, Tomato Ketchup Fans, Family Dinners, Grown Ups, Mid-Week Suppers, Retro Foodies

Enough for a Family of 4:

For the Sauce:

a 227g tin of Pineapple Slices in Natural Juice, drained and juice retained, slices cut into chunks

a level tablespoon of Cornflour

2 tablespoons of Tomato Ketchup, Homemade or bought

2 tablespoons of Soy Sauce

2 tablespoons of Chinese Rice Vinegar or White Wine Vinegar

a dessertspoon of Honey

For the Stir Fry:

2 tablespoons of Groundnut or Sunflower Oil

300g of lean Pork loin or fillet, cut into fine inch long strips

a small Onion, diced

a Carrot, sliced into very fine inch long strips

a Red Pepper, large dice

a clove of Garlic, finely sliced

a thumb sized piece of Ginger, grated or finely chopped

0 – 2 Red Chillies, finely sliced (depending on your heat tolerance)

a Courgette, sliced into inch long strips

a 150g tin of Sweetcorn (or you could use a handful of Baby Sweetcorn)

Start with prepping your sauce. Mix the cornflour with all the retained pineapple juice, then stir in each of the other ingredients. Set aside.

Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a wok or large sauce pan to a very high temperature. Carefully add the pork to the hot fat and cook for a two or three minutes, moving the pork around regularly so it cooks on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Into the hot pan add a further tablespoon of oil and carefully add the onion, carrot, red pepper, garlic, ginger and chillies (if using). Cook for three minutes on a very high heat, continuously moving everything around. If the veggies are sticking to the pan throw in a splash of water. Stir in the courgette and continue to c0ok for a further three minutes.

Finally stir in the set aside pork strips, pineapple chunks, sweetcorn and the sauce. Stirring regularly allow to bubble away for a few minutes and take off the heat when you have your desired state of veggie tenderness. I personally prefer a healthy crunch to mine but the kids favour their’s a little on the softer side. So I settle for somewhere in the middle.

Chow down with noodles or steamed rice. Maybe a cheeky prawn cracker or three on the side.

Sweet & Sour Pork

You might also like:

Homemade Tomato Ketchup

Homemade Tomato Ketchup

Noodles with Pork & Veggies

Noodles with Pork & Veggies

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A Winter Roasted Roots and Gruyere Pie!

Roasted Roots Pie

It’s still mightily cold isn’t it? I’m in the midst of the never-ending Winter that is the UK this week, and this morning has witnessed my third siting of snow since I’ve been here. Unbelievable. Not helped by the frequent Skype sessions to the littlies in France who are clearly enjoying the first few sun-drenched ‘strawberry days’ of the year. ‘Strawberry Day’ being a Francesca-ism for a warm sunny day. Each and every day her first question upon awakening is invariably ‘is it a strawberry day mummy?’. The answer (usually to the negative) not only giving her the potential to pick a strawberry from the garden (bless her, she’s perpetually confused as to why it can be sunny yet there’s none to be found) but more importantly would allow her to put on the summer dresses and shorts that she’s been so longing to wear again since October. So much for my non-girlie girl! She may have only friends that are boys but she’s turning out to be a right little fashionista.

Roasted Root Vegetables

Seeing as it’s still full blown winter in the UK I’m bringing you my recipe for a wintery Roasted Roots Pie, and sincerely hoping this might be the last wintery food blog for quite some time! The recipe for this pie came about on a recent family get together when I tasked myself with putting on a bit of a Pie Night. The meat one was a cinch to decide, opting for my Beef, Beer and Stilton Pie that I recently wrote for Delicieux and went down stormingly well with my pie-eating family!. But I wanted to match it’s decadent richness with a special veggie option for the non-meat eaters of which there’s a few dotted around our lot. Being a bit partial to my seasonal Rosemary Roasted Roots I opted for an interesting selection of Celeriac, Butternut, Sweet Potatoes and Carrots and encased them in a rich Gruyere, Parmesan and Wholegrain mustard sauce. And topped off with the same homemade Rough Puff pastry (you could obviously cheat on this bit and use ready made Rough) as it’s meaty brother pie. I’m very pleased to report the pie was an equal hit and the perfectly interesting and substantial veggie option, that even the ardent meat eaters couldn’t resist nibbling into. In fact I’ve already made it again since. It’s a keeper. Rock on the next Pie Night I say!

Being heavy on the Rosemary (most of my food seems to be these days!) I’m entering Lavender and Lovage’s lovely Herbs on Saturday challenge again, this month hosted by London Busy Body (you’ll be sick of my emails by now!). And since it’s a made from scratch meal, to Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays challenge. And last but certainly not least once again to Simple and in Season, the seasonal blogging challenge of Ren of Fabulicious Food and this month hosted by myself.

herbsonsaturday

Made with Love Mondays

Simple and In Season

Roasted Roots Pie

Roasted Roots & Gruyere Pie

Serves 6 to 8

Great for Pie Nights!, Dinner Parties, Vegetarians, Family Dinners, Special Occasions, Week-end Slowies, Winter Warmers

1.2 kilos of mixed Root Vegetables (I used a fairly even mix of Celeriac, Butternut, Carrots and Sweet Potato. You could also use Swede, Turnips, Pumpkin, Beetroot or Parsnips)

2 large Onions, large dice

6 cloves of Garlic, left whole with skin on

a heaped tablespoon of chopped fresh Rosemary

Salt and Pepper

4 tablespoons of Olive Oil

50g of Butter

50g of Plain Flour

700ml of Whole Milk

180g of Gruyere, grated

30g of Parmesan, grated

a tablespoon of Wholegrain Mustard

Salt & Pepper

450g of Rough Puff or Shop Bought Pastry (about 2/3rd of this recipe)

an Egg, beaten

Special Equipment: 2 x large roasting tins

Preheat your oven to 200ºC/Gas Mark 6.

Dice all your veggies, bar the carrots, to a similar 2-3cm chunk size. Cut the carrots into inch long narrow battens. Place in the roasting tins, along with the diced onions, garlic cloves, rosemary and a generous pinch or two of black pepper and salt. Drizzle over the olive oil and give everything a thorough mix with your hands. Place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes, turning the veggies twice during the cooking time.

Meanwhile make the cheese sauce. Using the roux method gently heat the butter in a medium sized saucepan until it’s melted. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon and with the pan still over the heat slowly and gradually add the milk. You may want to switch the spoon for a balloon whisk at this point, whisking thoroughly between milky additions, until all the milk is incorporated. Continue stirring with the whisk or wooden spoon until the sauce is simmering. Stir in both the cheeses, mustard and a pinch of salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Remove the whole roasted garlic from the Roasted Roots and squeeze out the loveliness contained into the sauce. Give a final thorough stirring.

Combine the sauce with the veggies and place in your pie dish.

Roasted Roots Pie

Turn down the oven to 190ºC/Gas Mark 5.

Cover the top of the veggies in a layer of Rough Puff Pastry, crimp the edges. Brush with the beaten egg.

Roasted Roots Pie

Place in the pre-heated oven for 40 to 45 minutes until the pastry is fully cooked, puffed up and golden brown. Slice and eat. With lashings of buttery mash to ward off the cold.


Spanish Stylie Baked Chicken and Rice

Spanish Style Baked Chicken & Rice

I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for nearly a year and a half and this firm family favourite of weekend dinners has thus far failed to make an appearance. It’s a recipe I originally stole from my Mum, who stole from Delia, that’s chopped and changed dramatically over the years and probably bares little resemblance to it’s original form. Changed to make it quicker, easier and more suitable family fodder, and it never disappoints my lot. It’s a cheap and frugal dish (the one pot usually stretching to at least two dinners), flavoursome (think smoked paprika, chorizo, orange, olives), wholesome (brown rice and a barrage of veggies), hearty and substantial. And can handily be partly or wholly made in advance. Perfect for a weekend lunch or dinner and the tasty leftovers re-heated for a quickie dinner in the week, or even eaten cold for lunch. And my kids LOVE it, Jacques devours it. But then they are fiends for anything rice these days. If your monsters are veggie adverse like mine it’s a handy dish to hide a multitude of the good stuff, just chop them unidentifiably small!.

Spanish Chicken and Rice

Chop and change your veggies as to what’s in season. In this particular recipe I used red pepper (the only veggie I would highly recommend you always add) chopped pumpkin (as we still have an inordinate amount to get through!), celery, carrots and french green beans from the freezer. Courgettes, peas, squash, sweet potato, broccoli or mushrooms all work equally as well, just mix and match as to what’s seasonal and you have in.

Since I’m using seasonal veggies aplenty I’m entering this post to Simple and In Season, a monthly challenge that showcases seasonal produce and is the baby of Ren of Fabulicious Food.  This month I so happen to be hosting the event!. I’m also entering Javelin Warrior‘s Made with Love Mondays, as it’s a dish made from scratch, and finally to Credit Crunch Munch as it’s a pretty frugal dish that stretches a long way. Credit Crunch Munch is held jointly by Camilla of Fab Food 4 All and this month by Helen of Fuss Free Flavours. Now on with the recipe….

Credit-Crunch-Munch

Simple and In Season

Made with Love Mondays

Jacques tucking into to his chicken and rice. He's still not a pretty eater.

Jacques chowing down on his beloved chicken and rice. He’s not a pretty eater!

Spanish Stylie Baked Chicken & Rice

Great for Toddlers & Young Children, Hiding Veggies, Bigger Kids, Family or Grown up Dinners, Mains, One Pot Wonders, Week-end Slowies

Serves 6 or a family of 4 twice

a tablespoon of Olive Oil

6 free range Chicken pieces – legs or thighs or a mixture of the two, skin removed

a large Onion, large dice

3 cloves of Garlic, finely sliced

a stick of Celery, finely sliced*

2 Carrots, fine dice*

300g of Pumpkin or Butternut, large dice*

2 Red Peppers, large dice

150g of French Green Beans, cut into inch long lengths*

120g of Chorizo, sliced into 0.5cm thick slices

a heaped teaspoon of Hot Smoked Paprika

300g of Brown Rice

200ml of White Wine

500ml of Chicken Stock

a 400g can of Chopped Tomatoes

2 Bay Leaves

a small bunch of fresh Thyme sprigs, tied together

Black Pepper

½ an Orange, cut into 6 segments

60g of de-stoned Black or Green Olives

Special Equipment: A large lidded ovenproof casserole or Le Creuset style dish that can go on a hob

* Please feel free to vary your veggies as to what’s in season or you have in

Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC/Gas Mark 4.

Heat the oil in your casserole or Le Creuset on a medium to high heat. Once hot fry off the chicken pieces until golden on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Turn down the heat and add the onion, garlic, celery and carrots, there should be plenty of residual fat from the chicken, but if not add a splash more olive oil. Saute for 5 minutes before adding the pumpkin and peppers. Cook for a further 5 minutes.

Now throw in the green beans and chorizo and cook for a further few minutes until the chorizo is oozing it’s lovely juices.  Stir in the hot smoked paprika and cook for a moment or two before stirring in the rice. Ensure all the grains are coated in the oily spicy loveliness before pouring in the white wine, chicken stock, chopped tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme and a generous pinch or two of black pepper. Give everything a thorough stir and bring to a gentle simmer.

Take the pot off the heat and place the set aside chicken pieces on the top, pressing them down into the rice. Slot the orange segments where ever there’s space and scatter over the olives. Place the lid on the pot and slide into the oven.

Bake for 45 minutes. The rice and veggies should all be perfectly tender. Eat and enjoy!.

You might also like:

Paella

Paella

Mediterranean Pot Roast Chicken

Mediterranean Pot Roast Chicken


Sausage, Bean and Veggie Hotpot

Sausage & Bean Hotpot

Now I love a bloggie challenge and when Vanesther, of the gorgeous family food blog Bangers and Mash, launched her new Recipes for Life Challenge I was really excited, particularly as it’s right up my foodie street. Each month she’ll be picking three ingredients and challenging fellow bloggers to come up with something tasty, wholesome and easy-to-cook with them. And the best recipes will be included in a new cookbook for the Somerset based charity Swallow. Swallow support adults with learning difficulties to lead more independent lives, including the running cookery courses to help members learn to prepare simple, inexpensive and nutritious meals.

swallow-recipes-for-life

This month the three ingredients are Sausages, Onions & Tomatoes and I knew exactly what I wanted to make for Swallow. My much-loved family favourite Sausage, Bean & Veggie Hotpot that I’ve thus far failed to get snapped and blogged. It’s a lovely winter warmer one pot wonder dish, that’s so easy to throw together yet hearty, healthy and heavy on the veggies. And my kids LOVE it as much as us grown up folk. And you can chuck in whatever beans or veggies you so happen to have in, anything goes!.

Sausage, Bean & Veggie Hotpot

Sausage, Bean & Veggie Hotpot

Great for family or grown up dinners, toddlers, bigger kids, vegetarians (using veggie sausages obviously!), mid-week suppers, weekend slowies, winter warming

Serves 4 to 6 big appetites (or a family of 4 TWICE!)

a tablespoon of Sunflower Oil

6 – 8 Sausages, meaty or veggie

an Onion, diced

2 cloves of Garlic, finely chopped

2 Carrots, sliced

a Parsnip*, diced

300g of Pumpkin or Butternut Squash*, large dice

a generous pinch of Chili Powder

2 teaspoons of dried Oregano or Mixed Herbs**

2 x 400g tins of Chopped Tomatoes

2 x 400g tins of Beans (Cannellini/Butter/Kidney/Haricot/Flageolet all work brilliantly or a mixture of any of them!), drained and rinsed

Salt & Pepper

600g of washed and peeled Potatoes (about 3 medium sized), finely sliced

300ml of hot Beef Stock (or veggie stock if you’re using veggie sausages)

Special Equipment: A Large Lidded Oven-proof Casserole Dish that can also go on the hob

* Please feel free to vary your veggies as to what you have in, you can happily substitute with any sturdy veggies like sweet potatoes, swede, turnip, peppers, celery, celeriac, chard, green beans, cauliflower etc.

** Or fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme all work wonderfully if you so happen to have any, my preference is for fresh rosemary.

Pre-heat your oven to 190ºC/Gas Mark 5.

Heat the oil in the Casserole Dish. Fry the sausages until a little browned all over. Set aside to cool, and when cool enough to handle cut into 3 or 4 pieces. Set aside until later.

In the same casserole dish add the onions and garlic and fry in the fat left from the sausages on a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring regularly so nothing catches. Then throw in the carrots, parsnip and pumpkin or butternut (or your other chosen veggies). Continue to cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring at intervals.

Stir in the chili powder and herbs, quickly followed by the chopped tomatoes, beans and the set aside sausages.

Bring everything to a simmer and season generously with salt and pepper.

Sausage, Bean & Veggie Hotpot

Take off the heat and arrange the sliced potatoes over the top of the hotpot. Pour the hot stock over the potatoes, place the lid on the top and slide into the pre-heated oven for 45 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for a further 45 minutes.

Hotpot

The hotpot’s ready when the potatoes have browned a little on top and are completely soft and tender.

Sausage, Bean & Veggie Hotpot

simple2012smallCredit-Crunch-Munch

I’m also entering my recipe to Ren of Fabulicious Food‘s Simple and In Season challenge, since it uses plenty of seasonal goodies. This month the event’s hosted by Cake, Crumbs and Cooking. And to Helen of Fuss Free Flavours and Camilla of Fab Food 4 All‘s Credit Crunch Munch event, as this is a particularly frugal munch!.

A Year Ago on the Blog: Cheesy Biscuits for Half Term

You might also like:

Chicken, Borlotti & Pumpkin Stew

Chicken, Borlotti & Pumpkin Stew

Chicken & Apricot Tagine

Chicken & Apricot Tagine


Cheese and Tuna Veggie Bombs!

Cheese & Tuna Veggie bombs

One for the littlies in your life today. After the popularity of my Sunday Dinner Leftover Cakes, my kids are  equally as crazy about these little shallow-fried patties (AKA bombs!) of Leftover Mashed Potato and Veggies, Tuna and Cheese. It’s a flavour combination that works for most little people and happens to be a fine way of sneaking into their tummies a multitude of Hidden Veggies. If your little people are particularly veggie adverse then I advise chopping the veggies very finely, but because the overall flavour is such a pleasing one I doubt they’ll even notice the sneaky good stuff.

Whenever I make any dinners involving mash and veggies, which happens to be pretty often in our house,  I always cook a little extra so I can make these tasty little bombs the next day. It’s then a matter of simply mixing the cold mash with any cooked veggies, a little cheddar and a can of tuna. Shaping into patties and coating in breadcrumbs, polenta or panko (or a mixture of any of these) and shallow frying in a little sunflower oil. They can then be served with yet more veggies or baked beans. And there you have it, a generally pretty wholesome dinner easily made in minutes.

Cheese, Tuna & Veggie Cakes

And they taste really really good. I really should admit I do make the odd extra for us big people too!

I’m entering my frugal dinner time treat to a couple of challenges. Firstly to the first ever Credit Crunch Munch, a new event co-hosted by Helen at Fuss Free Flavours and Camilla at Fab Food 4 All.

Credit-Crunch-Munch

And secondly for my first ever time to the No Waste Food Challenge held by Kate from Turquoise Lemons, and this month hosted by Elizabeth’s Kitchen. The theme this month handily happens to be Mashed Potatoes!.

No Waste Food Challenge

Cheese & Tuna Cakes

And so on to this cinch of a recipe:

Cheese & Tuna Veggie Bombs

Perfect for Toddlers and Young Children, Bigger Kids, Family Dinners, Mid-Week Suppers, The Veggie Adverse. And the leftover ‘leftovers’ can be frozen for a later, even quicker, dinner.

Makes 8 to 10 small patties:

300g of cold Mashed Potato

200g of cold cooked Veggies (if you don’t have enough leftover veggies then you can always top up with defrosted frozen peas or sweetcorn), finely diced

185g tin of Tuna, drained

75g of Cheddar Cheese or similar, grated

3 heaped tablespoons of dry Breadcrumbs, Polenta or Panko (or a mix of any of these)

Sunflower Oil

Simply combine all the ingredients bar the breadcrumbs in a large bowl. Shape into even patties. Place the breadcrumbs/polenta/panko in a flat bottomed bowl.

Now coat the patties in a fine layer of the crumbs and set aside on a plate until you’re ready to fry.

Take a frying pan and pour in enough sunflower oil to make a very fine layer on the bottom. Heat on a low to medium heat. When the oil is hot carefully place your bombs in the oil. You’ll probably have to fry them in a couple of batches.

Fry on both sides until golden brown all over. Drain on kitchen roll and serve.

You might also like:

Chicken Goujons:                                        Kids Fish Pie:

Kids Fish Pie in Oogaa bowls

Chicken Goujons

 


Back from our Holidays, and a Cheese, Courgette & Cherry Tomato Bread & Butter Pudding

Well we’re back from our jolidays in the UK, back home to a gloriously hot and sunny September here in France. It’s been a fab time away though and even the weather managed to hold out at it’s best for us. We primarily went for my Big Brother Si’s wedding to Meilee up in Peebles, Scotland (which admittedly was wet and a little on the cold side!) and a fab time was had by all. An amazing hotel (The Cringletie House) and totally stunning food.

Not the most pro or conventional of wedding photies but a fun one of all my family at my Big Bro Si’s wedding, that’s him on the left then my Mum, the bride Meilee, myself (in the flowery dress), Mr F at the back with Master Jacques, my Dad with Miss Frannie, Sis in Law Shelly, and my other brothers Ben and Julian

We also managed to catch up with lots of friends around England that we don’t get to see too often, and had a good few days of chill out time at my Mum and Dads in Herefordshire. Even Mr F came along for the trip, and he really doesn’t ‘do’ holidays or anything that involves leaving Chez Foti really. The doggies and  chickens were left in the good hands of my brother-in-law for the first week then our friend Debbie. A huge thank you to you both for housesitting and leaving us with an impeccably clean and tidy house and happy animals, and to Debbie for the lovely fishcakes and a greengage & blackberry crumble (picked from the garden) to come home to. We really should go away more often!

I hate to say it but the tomatoes are still rather prolific at Chez Foti. Several kilos each and every day. My Tomato Veg of the Month is very much continuing into September, and I’ll be doing a huge round-up at the end of the month…..so there’s still time to forward me your favourite tomatoey recipes to try out. And as for the courgettes/marrows, I thought they were on their way out before we left but clearly not:

Some of my post-holiday Veggie Haul!

Not only has Mr F been warned of our impending vegetarian status for the next few weeks, but I feel it’s only fair the kids do their bit too. My Cheese, Courgette & Cherry Tomato Bread & Butter Pudding happens to be one of their favourite veggie dinners, and one that they can be expecting to be eat on a pretty regular basis over the next few weeks!. The savory bread and butter pudding is actually an idea I’ve adapted from Annabel Karmel, and seems to be pretty pleasing to most littlies as well as grown up folk. Perfect for a quick to assemble mid-week family supper, or for just the kids.

Cheese, Courgette & Cherry Tomato Bread & Butter Pudding

Toddlers & Y oung Children, Bigger Kids, Family Dinners, Grown Ups

Enough for a family of four:

a tablespoon of butter

3 thick large slices of white or wholemeal bread

½ a small red onion

a small courgette

15 cherry tomatoes

90g of mature cheddar cheese, grated

3 eggs, free range

260ml of milk

a heaped teaspoon of dijon mustard

a pinch of black pepper

Pre-heat your oven to 180°C.

Start with buttering a small ovenproof dish. Then butter the slices of bread. Cut each of the slices into six to nine pieces.

Prepare the veggies. Finely slice the onion. Cut the courgette into four quarters lengthways, then finely slice. Quarter the cherry tomatoes.

Line the bottom of the buttered dish with half the bread pieces. Follow with a scattering of half the onion, half the courgette slices, half the tomatoes and half the grated cheese. Then repeat with the remainder of the ingredients but not the cheese.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, mustard and pepper. Pour evenly over the pudding. Top with the remaining cheese.

Place in the pre-heated oven for 30 to 40 minutes until puffed up and golden on the top.


My Mission of Veggie Disguise!

I know I’m not alone here in having issues with The Littlies eating their veggies and so I thought it about time I blogged specifically on this dear to my heart topic. As my son get’s older he’s becoming increasingly wary of vegetables which can more than frustrating at times. Like most babies he started off the weaning process eating pretty much all the good stuff thrown at him, but particularly loving a huge array of veggies whether they were steamed, raw or his favourite roasted. Then suddenly from about the age of 18 months onwards he’s steadily rejected all the previous favourites one by one and now at just over two he’ll only eat broccoli, peas and sweetcorn on their own. Admittedly at least he’s eating some veggies, but I’d rather it was a greater variety and in my quest to bring diversity I’ve had to become increasingly more cunning in my disguise of his veggies. And you know what, it’s not that hard to defeat these toddlers!

Thankfully, my daughter, who’s now nearing four, is a little easier on the veggie war. Admittedly she’s not the most enthusiastic eater in the world and is no natural foodie but with encouragement (and admittedly often a fair degree of good old blackmail) she’ll eat quite a few veggies these days.

So here’s our favourite veggie disguises of the moment, the ones most popular with my monsters that no matter what veggies I put in they’ll gobble them up leaving me with a happy glow of satisfaction that they’ve effortlessly reached their five-a-day. As a general rule of thumb dice the veggies finer the greater the fear of rejection

In order of popularity in the Chez Foti house:

Chicken, Veggie & Egg Fried Rice
Absolutely without a doubt Jacques’s favourite dinner which can be loaded with an amazing array of finely diced veggies under the brilliantly disguising flavours of ginger, Chinese 5 spice and soy sauce. He rarely has less than two big bowls! I make this at least once a week, often just with egg and veggies and at other times substituting the chicken for prawns, pork or beef (and all go down equally as well).

Kid’s Bolognese

My super vegged up version of a classic Bolognese sauce always goes down a storm with both kids and has the added convenience of being able to be made in large quantities that can be frozen in individual portions for easy convenience dinners.

Sunday Dinner Leftover Cakes

Ironically both my kids prefer these to the Sunday dinner that would have preceded them a day or two before! Especially Jacques who will have undoubtedly refused to eat any of the veggies on his Sunday dinner plate but once I’ve chopped and mixed all the leftovers up, formed them in a patty, crumb coated and shallow fried he’ll always eat at least two whoppers!

Kids 5-a-day Pasta Sauce
Another popular choice that can be handily frozen for a quickie last minute dinner. Both kids adore it, creamy and tomatoey and hides an umpteen of blitzed up veggies in it’s midst. Can even be pimped up with the addition of tuna at the end of the cooking process. Be generous with the pasta-sauce ratio to ensure they get a fair bit of the good stuff, and top with cheesy sprinkles.

Super Soups
Just like the 5-a-day pasta sauce my kids will eat any veggies blitzed into a soup just as long as the overriding flavour is a good one! My winter Squash & Chorizo and Creamy Roasted Pumpkin Soup’s were always a hit as is my recent Cream of Veggie Super Soup. Don’t be put off by the seasons, kids will eat soup whatever the weather.

Omelettes and Tortillas. In writing this I’ve realised that in all this time I’ve not blogged a single omelette or tortilla recipe yet we easily eat them once a week and are one of Jacques’ fave lunches. I always pile the veg in mine and he’s yet to pick out the pepper, courgette, spinach or chard that he’d normally reject. My Bejewelled Eggs are also always a hit.

Noodles with Pork & Veggies

 Another highly flavoured and popular dinner that I can even get away  with sizeable veggies without any rejection fear.

Super-Vegged Up Chilli

A recent hit with my kids is this child friendly chilli con carne that’s been given a Chez Foti super-vegging up! Perfect to be made in large quantities and frozen.

Kids Fish Pie

Most kids love fish pie and you can really veg it up as much as you dare. I always use spinach and peas, but have often added finely diced carrots, leeks, broccoli, chard and sweetcorn too.

And last but not least there’s always Sandwiches!. Try adding a little finely chopped salad to your child’s favourite sandwich filling and they probably won’t notice and even if they do they won’t be able to pick it out. Crated carrot or finely chopped red pepper works wonders in cheese or hummus sandwiches, or cheese and hummus sandwiches. Finely chopped tomatoes and cucumber with egg, pepper, sweetcorn and/or sweetcorn in tuna mayo, cucumber….be inventive they might just like it!.

Here’s a few other child friendly whoppers of veggie disguise: Chicken & Apricot Tagine, Lou’s Lasagne, Sweet Potato Daal for Babies & Toddlers, Sausage & Courgette Pasta Carbonara, A Simple Chicken Stew, Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheese, Roasted Veggie Lasagne

So what cunning methods do you deploy in your mission of veggie disguise? What are you own tried and trusted recipes of deception? I’d really love to hear from you as I’m always looking for new ideas and inspiration. Feel free to link up your favourites!


Super Vegged-Up Chilli

Toddlers & Young Children, Big Kids, Grown Ups.

I haven’t made a Chilli con Carne in ages and thought it was about time. I usually make mine with big chunks of braising beef marinaded in cumin, coriander, chilli and cinnamon following one of my favourite ever Leon recipes (The Best Chilli con Carne ever!). But this time I thought I’d go a bit more 80s retro and make something more suitable for the wee ones using good quality mince but with a super-vegging Chez Foti overthrow!. These days I seem unable to make too much without throwing in a barrage of veg, as you’ve probably noticed. As my son becomes increasingly fussy about eating his plain veggies I’m becoming increasingly cunning in my vegged up disguises! Ha, you will eat your 5-a-day my boy.

As for your choice of veggies, you can pretty much add anything you happen to have in, though I like to go with tradition on the carrots and pepper. I threw in some frozen chopped french beans (I’m trying to clear out the freezer before this year’s glut starts) and a couple of large handfuls of swiss chard from the garden. If cooking for kids go easy on the chilli. I use just ½ a teaspoon of hot chilli powder, though personally I’d like a little more heat so feel free to bump it up if you’re a chilli fiend.

Use good quality lean beef mince here, preferably some that you’ve seen the butcher mince in front of you. It really does make a difference.

This makes quite a vat of chilli, but keeps very well in the fridge for a few days or can be frozen. The first night we ate it with rice and the second in wraps with grated cheese, sour cream, lettuce, sliced tomatoes and avocados (again very 80s retro tex-mex, but nevertheless pretty darned tasty!).

Enough for 4 to 6 grown up folk, depending on greed!. Or two family dinners. 

3 tablespoons of sunflower oil

2 onions, diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 carrots, finely diced

a red pepper, diced

2 teaspoons of ground cumin

a heaped teaspoon of cinnamon

a pinch of salt

a large pinch of freshly ground black pepper

½ to 2 teaspoons of hot chilli powder (depending on who you’re cooking for!)

500g of good quality lean minced beef

2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes

2 teaspoons of cocoa powder

a handful of french beans or any other veg you so happen to have in

2 x 400g tins of kidney beans, drained and rinsed

a couple of very large handfuls of spinach or chard, finely shredded

Heat the sunflower oil in a large pan on a medium heat. Throw in the onions, garlic, carrots and pepper (or any other hard veg you want to use) and cook for about ten minutes, stirring regularly.

Stir in the cumin, cinnamon, chilli powder, salt & pepper and cook for a couple of minutes whilst continuously stirring. Add the beef and allow to brown, stirring every now and again.

Once the beef’s browned stir in the chopped tomatoes, cocoa powder and any softer veggies you’re using, in my case the french beans (but not the spinach or chard which is added later).

Cover and allow to gently bubble away on a very low heat for at least an hour adding a little water if it looks like it’s drying out. Now throw in the final ingredients of the kidney beans and spinach or chard and cook for a further 15 minutes.

Have a taste check and add more salt and pepper to suit (though no additional salt if making for littlies).

How about trying some of my other super vegged-up recipes? Kid’s Bolognese, Lou’s Chicken Fried Rice, Noodles with Pork & Veggies, Cream of Veggie Super Soup or my Chicken & Apricot Tagine

Ha, the boy happily eating his veggies!


Cream of Veggie Super Soup!

6 Months +, Weaning, Toddlers & Young Children, Bigger Children and Adults

Okay I know it’s June and I really shouldn’t be soup making but it’s been more than a tad cold at Chez Foti lately. It’s certainly not been the gloriously sunshiny south of France I signed up for. Besides my kids’ll happily eat soup any day of the year. In truth I’ve made very few soups recently, my interest wained once the pumpkins finished. But this week the humble veggie soup has been revived and my kids just couldn’t get enough of it!.

Soups are a fab way to get your littlies to eat a copious amount of veggies, you can cunningly throw in all the ones they’re none too keen on and they’ll never know. I sneakily add a little tomato puree to disguise the green veggies. Works every time. Most kids seem particularly partial to tomatoey flavours, as they do to the addition of creamy creme fraiche. I tend to bulk out with carrots as we always have them in and particularly like a little zing of red pepper, but feel free to add absolutely any veggies you  have lurking. Everything’s substitutable.

I use Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon for veggie soups which is a particularly flavoursome base. If you’re making soup for babies either use plain water or get hold of some baby stock cubes (available in bigger Boots stores in the UK) which have no added salt.

If you want to make the soup a wee bit more substantial add a handful of cooked pasta shapes and/or top with grated cheese. I serve mine with wholemeal toast ‘dippers’. This recipe makes a pretty thick soup which is easier for little ones to eat, but older kids and grown ups might like to thin it down a little with more stock, water or milk.

Messy pics I know, but this was Jacques’ third bowl and he’d kind of done with eating by the time the camera came out!.

Enough for 8 to 10 little servings or 4 grown up ones:

2 tablespoons of olive oil

an onion, diced

4 carrots, thoroughly washed and sliced (no need to peel)

a medium potato, washed and diced (no need to peel)

½ a head or broccoli (stem inc), or a handful of green beans or any other green or other veg you have lurking, diced

a red pepper, diced

a litre of vegetable stock

1.5 tablespoons of tomato puree

2 tablespoons of creme fraiche

Heat the oil in a large saucepan on a medium heat. Add the onion and stir. Add the other veggies as you wash and dice them. There’s not too many timing rules here! Stir from time to time so nothing catches.

Once all the veggies have been added to the pan pour over the hot veggie stock and stir in the tomato puree.

Bring to a simmer then turn down the heat to low. Cover and allow to bubble away for 15 to 20 minutes until the veggies are all tender.

Take off the heat and blitz until very smooth in a blender or food processor or with a stick blender. Stir in the creme fraiche.

Here’s some other Chez Foti soupy recipes: Pumpkin & Bacon Soup, Butternut Squash & Chorizo with Chorizo Croutons, Caldo Verde (Portuguese Greens Soup), Creamy Roasted Pumpkin


Noodles with Pork & Veggies

Toddler & Young Children, Family Dinners, Only Grown Ups

Another firm Chez Foti family favourite! Both kids love their noodles, or rather ‘wriggly worms’ in our house, as much as we do. A very quick, easy and satisfying dinner that injects a fair amount of lovely veggies into little tums, and you can’t say much fairer than that!. In truth I’ve steered clear of blogging Chinese style recipes for their lack of authenticity, but have decided to occasionally blog my Western stylie family versions as they’re so much enjoyed at Chez Foti. Purests, you’ve been warned!

You really can use an almighty array of veggies in stir fries, use whatever’s in season or you happen to have in. Before growing my own I tended to make Chinese style food with the usual carrots, peppers, broccoli florets, peas, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, mushrooms etc. Once I had my own ready supply of veggies in the garden I soon realised that you really can use almost any veggies in Chinese cookery, or Indian or Thai. As well as the usual suspects above I’ve very successfully cooked with swiss chard, spinach, aubergines, courgettes, asparagus, french and other green beans, broad beans, cauliflower, squash & pumpkin, kale, celery, leeks, sprouts, sweet potatoes, parsnips, beetroot, swede…..I think you’re getting the idea. Vary the cooking time and size of dice accordingly. Anything woody and hard, like a carrot, parsnip or swede should be cut a little finer than other veggies and/or cooked for a little longer. Leafier veggies like spinach, chard leaves or pak choi cook down very quickly and should be added towards the end of the cooking time.

So tonights noodles were made with handfuls of my ‘veg of the month’ Swiss Chard,  a red pepper and a courgette. A couple of my swiss chard plants from last year are back in full glory now (though about to go to seed) and producing an abundance of wonderful leaves. I also planted a whole new row a few weeks ago and these babies are almost ready for the eating too. Chard is a wonderful veg to grow, minimum effort for maximum and very quick return, and the plants can last up to a staggering eighteen months. It’s such a versatile veg too, great in an assortment of Asian curries and stir fries, stews, casseroles and pasta dishes.

You can happily swap the pork for beef, chicken or prawns, or omit altogether for a veggie dinner. My kids like a touch of chilli in their food, but leave out if you or yours don’t. If making for adults only you might want to increase the amount of chilli, fish, oyster and soy sauce, I try to keep my salt levels as low as possible when cooking for kids.

Enough for four:

2 tablespoons of sunflower or groundnut oil

a heaped tablespoon of freshly grated ginger

a dried birds eye chilli, finely chopped, or a pinch of dried chilli flakes (optional)

a medium onion, diced

a red pepper, cut into thin strips (about an inch long)

a courgette, cut into thin strips (about an inch long)

200g of swiss chard leaves and stalks, stalks removed and both leaves and stalks shredded separately

300g of pork loin or fillet, cut into thin strips (about an inch long, the same as the veggies)

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

200g of medium egg noodles, cooked to packet instructions and cooled

a teaspoon of fish sauce

2 dessertspoons of dark soy sauce

2 heaped tablespoons of oyster sauce

100ml of hot chicken stock

Heat the oil on a hot heat, in a large high sided frying pan or preferably a wok. Throw in the ginger, chilli, onion and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring briskly and almost continuously.

Add the courgette, pork strips, shredded chard stems and garlic. Stir regularly and cook on a high heat until the veggies are almost tender. This should  be about 4 to 5 minutes. If the pan is very dry add a splash of water rather than more oil.

Stir in the shredded chard leaves, cooked noodles, fish sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce and hot stock.  Keep on the heat until the chard has wilted and the noodles are piping hot. Have a taste and add a little more oyster and soy sauce if you think it needs it, though it’s not advisable to add any more if cooking for little children.

How about trying some of our other Chez Foti family favourite dinners, Chicken & Veggie Fried Rice, Chicken & Apricot Tagine, Sausage & Courgette Carbonara or Pasta & Meatballs.


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