Leo’s Lazy Couscous

My friend Nicky is also a fellow first-time mum and we often swap recipes or discuss ideas on what to feed our little grubby boys. This is one of hers that’s been very popular in our house too, she’s kindly let me share it with you.

It’s very simple but the flavour combinations aren’t something you’d instantly think of – and sometimes you need something that’s easy to whip up when you lack inspiration or time or both!

If you have any left-over roasted or steamed vegetables, use them. I often have some mashed kumara in the fridge so I added that to my cous cous and coconut cream. I haven’t really put any ratios in here (apart from the cous cous) as it’s down to you and your tastes. I personally prefer more vegetables over cous cous but some prefer it the other way around. Just mix in some coconut cream and vegetables in to the cous cous and see how you go.

The coconut cream adds a nice sweetness to the dish, so you can use potatoes too – you don’t have to have the sweeter vegetable varieties. It can be quite rich on small tummies so you might want to just use a dash and see how it tastes. Otherwise, this is suitable for babies.

 

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup uncooked cous cous
  • Coconut cream (or milk will do too)
  • Kumara or carrots or both

 

Method:

  • Cook cous cous according to packet instructions
  • Either steam or roast 1 or 2 peeled kumara and some carrots and then mash them up or puree once cooked
  • Mix in the vegetables with the cous cous and add in a little coconut cream. Keep adding the coconut cream until you’re satisfied with the taste. It’s quite full of flavour so rather start out small and slowly increase the quantity here.

 

Prawn and tomato pasta

This is almost a one-pot wonder, that takes about 20 – 30 minutes to whip up from start to finish. It makes a great mid-week dinner for the whole family as you can adapt it for any age and stage (not everyone needs teeth to enjoy this!)

Shellfish is also an allergen, so if you’re looking for a way to introduce this to your little one, then I’d recommend you give this a try. Just bear in mind though that seafood can be an acquired taste, and your grub might not take to it straight off the bat – I know mine didn’t. But after a few goes he decided he did actually like it. Typical.

For those of you still in the first few months and not looking to do baby-led-weaning, you can puree the whole lot, including the pasta. For those of you at the lumpy stage, you could puree the sauce and then stir it through the soft pasta. And then for those who are a little older, but with no teeth, maybe just cut up the prawns a little bit before adding them in to the tomatoes. We were quite late getting teeth in this house (10 months and he only had one!), so we needed to do that.

If you can find crushed and sieved canned tomatoes in the supermarket (I know Woolworths, the Countdown brand, and Watties make this), I would go for these in this dish. I find they make most dishes a bit thicker and not as watery as other canned tomato varieties. If you can’t find it, just use regular crushed tomatoes.

For the adults, I would suggest adding in some chilli flakes or fresh chilli at the end, to offset the creamy sauce and give it that little extra kick – delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 400gm pasta elbows (that very small macaroni shaped pasta)
  • 400gm cooked, de-veined and de-tailed prawns (defrosted)
  • 1tsp dried dill
  • 2 large courgettes
  • 2 x 400gm cans crushed and sieved tomatoes
  • 2 big cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp Butter
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Method:

  • Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions
  • While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a deep-dish pan and sauté the garlic for a few minutes. Then add the grated courgettes, tomatoes, zest of the lemon and dill and simmer for 10 minutes or so.
  • Add in the prawns and if you’re using raw prawns then you want to simmer until they’re white. If you’re using pre-cooked, then simmer for a few minutes.
  • Add the pasta to the tomato sauce and stir through. Squeeze over your lemon juice and you’re good to go!

Cottage Pie

A family classic in our house, we grew up with this on high rotation. However, it had to be called “shephard’s pie” as my brother wouldn’t eat “cottage” pie – little did he know they were exactly the same! However, mum’s version had half a bottle of chutney in it, which is actually more than 50% sugar! So I’ve come up with a version that uses grated fruit instead, and it honestly tastes exactly the same. Even my brother couldn’t tell the difference.

This is a great winter dish for the whole family that you can make ahead of time and freeze if necessary or keep in the fridge overnight. I always found that mince was a hard thing to introduce to my little one (even at 10 months old!) and I think it was because of the texture. So, the trick is to put the mince sauce through the food processor. But don’t worry! It’s still totally edible for the whole family – the texture doesn’t change too drastically.

If you can’t find crushed and sieved tomatoes, just use chopped tomatoes. I find the crushed are a little thicker so they’re better for things like cottage pie and spaghetti bolognese, but it’s not a biggie if you don’t have them.

cottage pie 2

This will make enough for four large ramekins which is handy if you’re making this just for your little one – then you can defrost one portion when you’re ready. Or you can assemble this in a single baking dish. If it was me? I’d double the recipe and make one big family meal that will do two nights.

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • ½ onion
  • 500gm beef mince
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 60gm frozen mango (about 8 cubes)
  • 1 medium red apple
  • ½ can crushed and sieved tomatoes (200gm)
  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 25gm butter
  • 2 tbsp cream

Method:

  • Heat a glug of olive oil in a frying pan and saute over a medium heat until soft. Add in the mince and break it up as it cooks.
  • Once the mince is browned, add in the paprika, Worcestershire sauce and the grated mango and apple.
  • Add in the tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes until the sauce has thickened. You’ll then need to put the sauce through the food processor.
  • While the sauce is thickening, if your potatoes are ready, drain them and mash with the cream and butter until creamy and soft. Keep adding butter and cream until you’re satisfied you’ve got a smooth potato mash – you’ll need lots of grunt here!
  • Either divide the mince across four greased ramekins or use one baking dish. Then top with the potatoes. Freeze at this point.
  • When ready to bake, put a few blobs of butter over the potato to help with browning in the oven at 180c until warmed through and brown on top (everything is cooked already, this is simply to crisp up the potato topping).

 

3 Ingredient Pancakes

Along with our French toast, this is also something that is super tasty, pretty healthy and filling for a big day ahead. Did I mention it’s also incredibly easy to make? This makes it perfect for during the week too!

This recipe makes about 8 – 9 mini pancakes. I tend to just make this amount and then keep any left overs for either a snack or a quick breakfast the next day. I used rolled oats here, but you could use quinoa flakes too.

 

3 ingredient pancake 3

Note that the maple syrup is just for the photo! These are sweet enough without and don’t need any bits and pieces for serving, they’re ready to go as soon as they’re out of the pan.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup and 1 tbsp rolled oats
  • 1 large ripe banana
  • 2 eggs

Method:

  • Mash the banana in a bowl and add in the eggs and oats and mix well.
  • Heat a pan to medium heat and add a little butter or coconut oil for frying. Add 1 – 2 tbsp (depending on how big you like your pancakes) and cook on one side until little bubbles start to form around the edges or you can tell that it’s firm enough to flip over
  • Turn and cook until golden on the other side
  • Serve straight away

Mac ‘n’ Cheese

The photo may not look perfect, but trust me, your taste buds will LOVE this one!

This is an adaptation of mum’s recipe and reminds me of winters growing up. It’s the ultimate comfort food and has been a winner with little grub from when he was about 10 months old (remember, we did grain-free for the first wee while, otherwise I probably would have given it to him a little earlier!).

This recipe has a little twist in it with the bacon and the peas are in there to make us feel good about this deliciously creamy dish. If yours don’t like peas, you could stir through some baby spinach at the end or grate in some courgette; it wouldn’t change the flavour much at all. For a plain and simple version, you can leave out the peas and bacon, it’ll still be a hearty meal. The Dijon mustard is a must; my husband doesn’t like it but can’t even tell it’s in here! Somehow, this just doesn’t taste the same without it.

This can be served straight away or you can freeze it; both before or after you’ve baked it, it’s up to you. I’ve also put this in little ramekins and frozen them so that I have some meals ready and waiting on those nights we decide to have cheese on toast for dinner. You could make this vegetarian by leaving out the bacon, it’s not a ‘must.’

This is also a great one for those mama’s-to-be who might be prepping some meals for those first few days at home. You’ll need all the carbs and cheese you can get! Did you know that cheese is referred to as “dairy crack”? Read about that here. No wonder I can’t get enough…. And I don’t think you’ll ever have enough of this either!

Tip: once the pasta is cooked and you’re waiting to add it in, glug some olive oil over it and stir it through. This’ll stop it from sticking too much while it’s cooling down.

Ingredients:

  • 200gm macaroni elbows
  • 125gm bacon
  • ½ cup of frozen peas
  • 2tbsp butter
  • 2tbsp flour
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 cups of full fat milk
  • 2 cups of grated cheese

Method:

  • Firstly, cook the peas and pasta in separate pots of boiling water until soft, set aside.
  • Fry the bacon in a pan until crispy or cooked to your liking, set aside and break into bite-sized pieces when cool.
  • Rinse out the frying pan, then melt the butter and sauté the onion until opaque and soft.
  • Add the mustard and then the flour, continuing to stir
  • Whilst stirring, add the milk until there are no lumps. Simmer over low heat, continuing to stir, until the sauce thickens.
  • Add ½ the cheese and then the cooked peas, bacon pieces and macaroni pasta
  • Place in a greased oven-proof dish and cover with the remaining cheese
  • Bake at 190c for 20minutes or until bubbling and golden