{Recipe} Sweet potato cottage pie

Cottage pie is one of my favourite family friendly recipes when there’s a toddler in the house. You can pack it full of sneaky veggies & add lots of different flavours to diversify their tastes. And on top of all that, it’s so easy!

I actually prefer the taste of the sweet potato over the more traditional potato top. It packs in so much more flavour and is that little bit healthier.

Ingredients
600g mince (beef, chicken, pork, turkey…any will work)
2-3 large sweet potatoes, peeled & chopped
Mixed veggies
2-3 tbs tomato paste
Can of tinned tomatoes
4-5 tsp cummin
2 tsp cinnamon
Chilli powder, salt, pepper & mixed herbs to taste
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 onion
Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup milk
2 tbs butter/margarine
1/4 cup pine nuts

1. Steam sweet potato & other veggies til soft
2. Brown onion & mince in large saucepan
3. Add garlic, tomato paste, tinned tomatoes & spices to mince
4. Add steamed veggies to mince.
5. Add steamed potatoes to large bowl with milk, Parmesan & butter. Mash.
6. Add mince mix to casserole/deep baking dish. Add potato mix on top.
7. Season too with salt & pepper. Add to moderate oven for 10 minutes or until top starts to brown/crisp slightly.

I like to add grated cheese on top before putting in oven. I love the extra cheese taste. Not essential though.

Another alternative would be using cauliflower mash maybe. Not something I’ve tried yet but it ends up with a similar consistency to mash potato & would be an even leaner option. Let me know if you have or do try it.

When I do these recipe posts, I am going by memory and rough estimates of quantities so if something sounds off, please let me know as I may have forgotten a vital ingredient or step. I’m just a mum who likes to dabble in the kitchen, always now on the lookout for recipes to keep my little miss happy and healthy. Although I also have a mega sweet tooth 😉

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Bored Toddler Alert

It still sounds so strange to refer to our little miss as a toddler instead of a baby, but at almost 14 months, she’s a baby no more. How bittersweet! And with the toddler years, along come all these new habits, skills & needs. With that comes new challenges.

We’ve had it pretty lucky with this parenting gig. No sleepless nights. Barely noticeable teething. And thus far, not a single illness (touch wood). Overall, it’s been relatively easy in comparison to what it could have been. So it’s quite alright that our current dilemma is something with a hopefully simple cure.

Our daughter is a bright cookie, and being first time parents, we have little for comparison so we are easily impressed. But even with the over abundance of toys from her first birthday & Christmas, she’s already growing bored & getting into mischief. She is especially active in the evenings when we would love a little sit down & relax time.

A trip to the shops for new entertainment is planned with a few things already in mind.
– alphabet magnet set as she loves the magnets on the fridge
– an etch a sketch

But there are plenty of ideas for home too. Like boxes with lids filled with small items, or other boxes as she loves opening things. A surprise cupboard. Currently she loves pulling things out of boxes & stacking them so that’s nice cheap fun.

Although there is one extra special birthday gift she has taken a real fancy to this week. Her quiet book. This was a gift from her grandparents & at first held little interest but in the past week she has been entertained for hours overall. So I had this great idea… Why not make some? Seems easy enough… Right? Except I can’t sew. Hmm… Could be more challenging than I originally planned, but I’m going to try anyway (with a little help from mum & her sewing machine).

What entertains your little people the best?

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Aussie day & the Perfect Salad

It is an Australian tradition to host or at least attend a BBQ on Australia Day. This year we are having a quiet one at home, just the 3 of us, but with enough food to feed a small army. T-bone steak, the new Woolworths cheese & beer flavoured snags, rissoles, onion and something a little less traditional. The warm fig salad.

Fig, chicken & sweet potato salad

Ingredients:
2 sweet potatoes, cut half & then cut into strips
Chicken breast cut into strips
2-3 figs, cut into quarters or slices
Spinach
Balsamic vinegar

1. Coat potato in oil, salt & pepper mixture & place on oven tray to bake for 20-25 minutes or until soft
2. Grill chicken strips & figs
3. Toss with spinach in bowl
4. Serve with splash of balsamic vinegar to taste

Can be served warm or cold, depending on your tastes.

This salad is pretty heavy as a side salad since it has chicken strips so it makes a great light meal option too.

Now… Time to put our feet up & relax while enjoying this day celebrating our great country 🙂

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Baby chinos… Are they necessary?

It may sound strange but baby chinos make me really cranky! I hate seeing kids who are barely walking or talking with a baby chino in front of them. It’s probably a strange gripe & partially attributed to my non coffee drinking status but grrrrrrr

In case you have missed this trend, it essentially a coffee free equivalent of a mini cappuccino. Some even have expresso flavouring.

Personally I think it’s wrong to encourage the addictive bad habits of adults, such as coffee drinking, in toddlers & kids. Give them a milkshake or something else kid friendly!!

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Ok, rant over!

Everything but the kitchen sink…

We are headed off for our longest family holiday yet, since our daughter came along. We have had a few long weekends away. One to Sydney when she was a tiny 3 months old and another to the Gold Coast just before I went back to work from maternity leave. But this one is a whole 5 days. And she is no longer the tiny baby that is content to be held, sit in a pram or sleep in a portacot. Nope… we’ve entered the toddler years and suddenly the packing list seems to get longer.

Lucky for us our daughter is an easy child, demanding little and happily going with the flow, so we have never raised so much as an eyebrow at the thought of travelling with her. So much that is the case that we are in fact heading overseas in March to Vietnam for 2 weeks. She will be 16 months by then.

Knowing that we are holidaying for 2 weeks overseas and not wanting to have an excess of luggage, since it all has to fit in 2 suitcases and 2 carry ons, the plan is to of course pack lightly. The weather is in our favour with it being somewhat similar to our current Australian summer temperatures but there is so much extra needed when travelling with a person under 10. Specific baby/toddler items especially, like nappies & wipes. But other things that take up room too, such as snacks, toys or just in case stuff. The idea of packing light suddenly seems a whole lot more challenging.

For this mini break to Queensland’s Sunshine Coast we are taking this weekend, we are taking lots of extras. Enough sets of clothes for twice as many days. A few toys. Beach gear. I even wanted to take her smart trike but hubby said no (A little excessive when the family car is a hatchback).

In some ways this trip is practice for Vietnam, but I certainly haven’t packed the way I would for that trip. It is going to be a challenge. But the cost of living other there is so cheap so essentially we can just buy certain stuff over there. I’m sure we could buy our daughter a whole new wardrobe on the trip… and a few new dresses, shoes and bags for mummy too!

All this reminds me… I had better get those entry Visas organised 🙂

Recipe – Cauliflower tomato bake

As the parent of a one year old & someone who is always on the lookout for simple meal ideas, I don’t mind a bit of experimenting in the kitchen.

This particular meal was motivated by an attempt to use up a few fresh ingredients before we head away for a family holiday this weekend. The key ingredients I wanted to avoid becoming a mouldy mess in our absence were half a cauliflower & a punnet of cherry tomatoes. Both part of my plan to cook with more natural ingredients.

The end result was good, but will benefit from a little tweaking next time. The main thing though was my daughter loved it.

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Ingredients

Half a head of cauliflower

Cherry tomatoes

Approximately 2 cups of grated cheese (cheddar, mozzarella etc)

Half a cup of bacon bits

Half a cup of bread crumbs

Pine nuts (optional)

Salt, pepper, garlic, etc (any seasoning of your preference)

1. Pre-heat oven at 180 degrees Celsius.

2. Steam cauliflower until soft

3. Spray baking dish with cooking oil & add tomatoes

4. Add cauliflower once soft, half of the cheese, & other ingredients/seasoning.

5. Mix everything together (you may even wish to do this in a large bowl before adding to dish).

6. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top & season again if you wish.

7. Bake in oven for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until cheese starts to brown.

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When I made mine I added all my cheese on top, so mixing it through will be much better for next time. You could also add any other ingredients you like. I was thinking olives would be nice, maybe some other types of veggies. Whatever you have on hand. Same with the meat. I happened to have frozen bacon bits available.

The best part of this recipe is that there are no carbs & while it ain’t the healthiest meal idea, it’s a lot better for you than an equivalent potato bake. Perfect comfort food without expanding the waste line.

Give it a go & let me know what you think.

That new years resolution

You know the one. The “I will get fit” or “I will lose weight” style resolution that everyone makes, every year. Yeah, I’ve done it!

However my motivation isn’t about looking good so much (although it’s a bonus). It is a lot more about feeling good, but far more motivated by being in tip top shape to start planning for that next addition to our family.

I have some really bad habits. Well one bad habit really: Chocolate. When I was pregnant and for much of the past year since, I could easily eat a whole packet of Arnotts mint slice or a block of Nestle Aero in a single sitting. Barely a day passes that I don’t have some sort of chocolate. But by some miracle I have managed to bounce back to pre-baby weight without effort (thank you breast feeding!!).

Sure my body isn’t the same. My stomach is softer. Clothes don’t fit as nicely. I have a few stretch marks. But overall, there are no complaints here.

So my resolution to get fitter, healthier and all that is far more about getting my body back into optimal shape because at 30+, there is no way it’s bouncing back this well after another pregnancy if I keep at it like I do. What this means for me is attempts at cleaner eating and increasing my intake of ‘good’ foods plus trying to do a little exercise. Mostly focusing on core strength exercises, since it’s hot and I’m kinda lazy!

So here’s to my best post baby 1 body… before my waistline (hopefully) starts to grow again in a few months time!