Showing posts with label Food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Food. Show all posts

Friday, 25 April 2014

Spicy Sausage and Tomato Pasta (Degustabox)

When I think about using organic produce it's usually fresh foods such as fruit, vegetables and meat that comes to mind, but this months Degustabox brought some Organico pasta and sauce which I couldn't wait to try to see if I could tell the difference.

As pasta is a staple meal in our family, I thought a pasta bake would go down really well.  The Organico pasta comes from the 'La Marche' region's pioneering organic co-operative, founded to protect vanishing jobs in the countryside, promote bio-diversity and sustain rich agricultural soil* so it's ethical as well as being healthy.  The tomato sauce comes from another co-operative in Tuscany where the tomatoes are picked and packed within 24 hours to maximise freshness* .  All sounds really good and I like knowing where my food has come from.

To jazz the pasta up I decided to add some spicy sausage, lots of Pepperdew Piquante Peppers that I received in last months Degustabox, and off course, some cheese to top it off.

500g Organico Italian Durum Wheat Pasta, cooked
1 Jar Organico Tomato and Basil Pasta Sauce
Pepperdew Mild Piquante Pepper1 spicy sausage, chopped
Grated cheese

Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C for fan ovens), Gas Mark 4
Add the cooked pasta to a large ovenproof dish and mix in the pasta sauce, spice sausage and lots of whole piquante peppers.  Add plenty of grated cheese and bake in the oven for around 20 minutes.

Serve with salad leaves and some fresh bread for a simple, yet healthy meal that the whole family will love.   The flavour of the pasta sauce with the peppers is simply delicious, and I will definitely be using Organico again.

You can find DegustaboxUK on Facebook and Twitter

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Mexican Chicken and Quinoa salad (Degustabox)

I am always looking for high protein meals for my gym mad hubby, so when my Degustabox arrived I was really excited to find that some of the ingredients would be perfect for him.

It's always a struggle to find something to go with meat that isn't too starchy so when I saw the quinoa I was intrigued.  I have bought dried quinoa in the past as it is supposed to be a superfood, but when I made it I wasn't that impressed.  The Quinola Mothergrain Express that was included in the Degustabox looked very different as it was pearl and black and it was ready to eat.  I wanted to add a bit of flavour so added some cherry tomatoes, cucumber and lemon and black pepper oil.  I've got to admit that when I was making it, I just wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy it as part of my meal.  

I decided to use the Maggi So Juicy Mexican Chicken to go with the quinoa so followed the 3 step instructions on the packet which was extremely simple. 


2-4 chicken breasts
1 yellow pepper
1 packet Maggi So Juicy Mexican Chicken
1 packet Quinola Mothergrain Express
Cherry Tomatoes
Cucumber, diced
Lemon and Black Pepper Oil


Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C for fan ovens), Gas Mark 4.

Slice chicken breasts and pepper and add to the bag provided in the top part of the Maggi sachet, then tip the seasoning from the lower part of the sachet into the bag.  Use the tie provided to close the bag and then coat the chicken in the seasoning by turning the bag.  Place in an ovenproof dish.

Cook in the oven for 45-50 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, add the Quinola Mothergrain Express to a bowl and then add the cherry tomatoes and diced cucumber.  Drizzle some of the oil over and mix well together.

Remove the chicken from the oven and leave to stand for 2-3 minutes before opening the bag.

And there you go.  A perfectly healthy meal, cooked with minimum effort that is super tasty.

Further product information:

Quinola Mothergrain Express is the perfect way to enjoy quinoa and save time! Ready cooked, they can beenjoyed cold as part of a salad or quickly reheated for be included as part of a hot meal. Organic and Fairtrade, Quinola Mothergrain Express have won 4 Great Taste awards. Not only delicious, quinoa is also a super-food, high in nutrients and gluten free! In either Pearl and Black or Pearl and Red, Quinola Mothergrain Express a quick,easy, healthy and delicious way to enjoy quinoa!

Would you like to try a Degustabox for yourself?  Use code SJZVB for a £3 discount on the DegustaboxUK site.

You can also find DegustaboxUK on Facebook and Twitter

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Project 365: Days 19-25

Day 19: Guitar - E has been having guitar lessons for a few weeks and is doing really well.  He loves music and enjoys practising, especially since I bought him a music stand.  

Day 20: Pull ups (of the exercise kind) - the boys love watching their father do pull ups on the bar in the doorway, so they all decided that they wanted to try.  Z held on for as long as he could. 

Day 21: Trains - We're having a bit of a break from the wooden train set, and it's now all about the Lego Duplo trains.  O loves building his trains and a tunnel.  He has got a track that it runs on, but his train is so long that it won't fit on it!

Day 22: YMCA - More Lego today; this time some minifigures that Z has made with Zombie heads and uniforms.  I saw these when I went in to check on him in bed and couldn't resist taking a photo as they looked like a strange take on the Village People.

Day 23: Creepy Hand - E loves playing Creepy Hand and I love this quizzical look on his face as he reads out the game card.

Day 24: Chopsticks - O has decided to try eating his food with chopsticks and tonight he has chicken nuggets.  It's all practise I suppose ;-)

Day 25: Daddy's boy - it was my nephews birthday party today and we had great fun. I loved this photo of O with his dad.

(Apologies for the photos being out of order)

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Project 365: Days 104 - 110

Day 104: Lunch time - my little one making a good effort with his Sunday lunch. He always insists on using full size cutlery even though he struggles to use them.

Day 105: Sleeping boy - after such a busy day he couldn't manage to stay awake for the day and fell asleep on the floor.

Day 106: Balloons - my oldest boy is 7 tomorrow and we've prepared the house ready for him.  It only feels like yesterday that he was born.

Day 107: Birthday Boy - he has had am amazing day which ended with a family party and homemade chocolate cake.  Where have the last 7 years gone?

Day 108: Kickboxing - the boys practice their kickboxing nearly every night and it's paid off as they're really good at it.  My oldest boy does some fantastic kicks.

Day 109: Converse - he had his first pair of Converse for his birthday. He is such a cool dude.

Day 110: Books - we have had a really busy day moving my middle and youngest boys into a new bedroom and converting the old nursery to a mini library.  The boys love it as all their books are in there mow.  My youngest wasn't too impressed when I took his cot apart and I'm wondering how he's going to settle in his big boys bed tonight.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Protein without meat

I've been thinking a lot lately about the amount of meat that my family consume.  It's sort of become natural to think of the meat first, and then decide what we're going to have with it.  Last week I was watching a cookery programme and the presenter was talking about how the amount of meat that is eaten is bad for health and bad fr the environment, so we need to start looking at alternatives.  Then, while watching yet another cookery programme, I heard about quinoa.  I have seen this on the supermarket shelves and didn't know what it was, and obviously didn't know how to pronounce it as I'd always said it as it's spelt but apparently it's pronounced 'keen-wa' (you learn something new every day).

Quinoa is currently being called a superfood and is supposed to be very high in protein so naturally I thought this could be the perfect solution.  Off I went to the supermarket to get some to try.  I'd had a quick look online at the sort of meal you can use it for and thought I'd try something cold to suit the glorious summer weather we've been having (that is just ever so slightly sarcastic).

Here are my ingredients:

Pack of quinoa
Chicken stock cube (optional)
Small tin of chickpeas
1 teaspoon cumin
Lemon juice
Fresh mint
Frozen peas

I used about 50g of quinoa and had to guess with the amount of water as I wasn't really sure.  I added the stock cube and cooked on the hob for about 30 minutes (though this can be done in the microwave much more quickly).  When all the water had been absorbed I rinsed the quinoa under cold water and left to drain.

I chopped the onion, and cucumber and put them in a bowl with the cumin and plenty of lemon juice.  I cooked the chickpeas and peas then cooled these before adding them to the bowl along with the quinoa.  I mixed it all up, seasoned and then put in plenty of  fresh chopped mint for that lovely summery flavour.

And voilà, a nice easy salad that's high in protein.  We used it as a side salad to accompany fish and it was fresh and delicious.

Monday, 28 May 2012

A fortnight in the life of a tiny taster

Oliver recently received his first Tiny Taste test for Little Dish and we were both so excited when the parcel arrived.  As you can see he couldn't wait to get his hands on the first meal.  

I decided to make him the cottage pie to start with as he loves anything with minced beef so I thought it would get us off to a good start.  I was wrong.  He quite happily sat and played with the meal, and even licked a bit to taste it, but he refused to eat it.  It did contain quite a lot of mashed potato, and not as much meat as he would have liked, but I was still really disappointed that he would barely try it.  It's hard to bribe make a 19 month old eat anything that he doesn't like the look of.  In the end I had to give up , but I did worry that this was just a taste of things to come (no pun intended).  Then that night he came down with an awful cough and cold and was off his food for a few days.  So at least it looks like there was a good reason for the refusal of the cottage pie.  It did mean that we had the put the taste test on hold for a few days though.

When he was fully recovered and eating properly again, I decided it was time for his second tasting.  This time we went for the lasagne and thankfully this was much more successful.  It looks delicious (I was a bit jealous that I didn't get one to try too) and Oliver ate it with gusto.  
In the next few days he tried a chicken korma which he enjoyed but didn't finish (my husband finished it off and said it was lovely), and a chicken & butternut squash pie (he was not so keen on this one but he did try it at least).

While we had been finishing the first weeks meals off, the second weeks worth of meals had arrived.  We got spaghetti & meatballs, pasta bolognese, chicken risotto, pasta with cheese, peas and broccoli trees, and enough fish pie for a tea party for Oliver and his friends.

The most successful meal was the pasta bolognese closely followed by spaghetti & meatballs.  He didn't like the pasta dish or the fish pie, and this made me realise something about my son.  He doesn't like white food.  Suddenly, it all made sense.  Since he was about 14 months old and started being a bit fussy with food (which, by the way wasn't supposed to happen as we did baby led weaning) he has stopped eating things like potatoes, pasta, plain chicken... anything with no colour.  On the other hand his favourite meal is spaghetti bolognese, and he'll eat chicken if it's in a curry sauce.  I know I should probably have realised it before, but I'd just never thought about it.  I suppose that's what happens when you spend all day running around like a maniac trying to do everything for three children, plus work, plus run a home (blah blah blah as my oldest son would say).  I kind of understand too.  I like colour in my food.  If I was given the choice between  plate of white food, or a lovely colourful dish of meat and vegetables I know which one I would choose.

Though I can say that Oliver's refusal to eat said white food is no reflection on the Little Dish meals.  At the fish pie tea party that we hosted for a few of Oliver's little friends, you can see that it was a huge success.
Fish Pie

So I think that overall we had a very successful taste test.  I learnt something about my child, and Oliver enjoyed trying lots of different things.  He seemed to get quite excited whenever I went into the fridge and got one of his meals out.  All I can do is apologise to him for the days that I chose a white one.  I don't think we'll be buying any of those for Oliver any time soon, though he'll definitely be having the pasta bolognese again.
He couldn't get it in his mouth fast enough!

Friday, 27 April 2012

My Tiny Taster is famous

Oliver had his first interview for the local newspaper this week.  He was quite shy so I had to tell the reporter all about his new job as a Tiny Taster for Little Dish.  I was really nervous when I had the phone call to ask if I'd do an interview.  I'd never even spoken to a newspaper reporter before let alone done an interview, and was a bit nervous of saying the wrong thing.  But I agreed to go ahead with it and made sure that everything was perfect when the reporter arrived.

I don't really know what I was expecting but it wasn't as bad as I thought.  They asked me lots of questions about why I thought Ollie had been chosen as a Tiny Taster (I didn't know) and how he would give his feedback as he can only say a few words (I don't really think that 'mama' and 'ball' will be useful words for the food testing).  I told the reporter that one thing I can guarantee with Oliver is that he is very independent and his actions speak far louder than words.  We regularly get whole meals thrown on the floor if he doesn't like what he's given.  This is a child who will refuse to bend his legs to sit in his high chair if he doesn't like the look of his food!

Oliver is at that stage where he will no longer eat everything that's put in front of him.  He is fussy, demanding, and extremely choosy about what he eats.  I did everything I could to try to avoid this; I breastfed him for over a year, he wasn't weaned until he was six months old, and we did baby led weaning. He is just a very independent child who knows his own mind.  So no, he doesn't need to be able to talk.  He will make his thoughts very clear.

The article is already in our local paper.  I found out after a friend left a message on my Facebook wall.  Part of me was dreading reading it but I got hubby to pick up a copy of the paper on his way home.  There's a great picture of Ollie trying to get into one of the Little Dish meals.  He looks very cute (I know I'm biased) but considering he was clinging to my side for the whole interview, I'm amazed we even got a photo.  I'm happy with the article except that they got my age wrong.  They've added two years to me!  Hmmm. I think I'd better change my moisturiser.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Oliver's a Tiny Taster

Little Dish recently held a competition on their Facebook page where you had to upload a photo of your little one eating their favourite food   I decided to enter as Ollie loves his food and is quite vocal in letting me know what he does, and doesn't like!  I entered this photo of him eating tomato soup and I am very happy to announce that he was chosen as one of their Tiny Tasters!

Ollie is going to get Little Dish meals to taste, and then we'll be letting everyone know what our thoughts are.  Expect lots of messy eating, plenty of feedback and hopefully more smiles than tears.

You can follow our journey here on my blog, on Twitter and on Facebook.

Has your little one tried Little Dish meals yet?