As chief cooker, I feel a heavy responsibility to put wholesome food on the table for my family particularly the children. I want to give them meals that are healthy and nutritious and will make their little hearts leap and quicken their steps home. However there is one big problem with that…….most evenings I simply find it hard to remain animated. I am tired, they are fighting or pestering me for glitter glue or a 500 piece Lego Death Star that has lost the 499th piece (probably much more than that actually as I have thrown away the ones behind the door or under the table when the will to live has been lost).To be frank it is sometimes all I can do to not climb in the fridge to be alone with the wine and the dairy. However the guilty parent fairy is always there to remind me that actually I should be easily capable of knocking up 3 courses in 15 minutes with 11 vegetables and 2 avocados. Followed by quality family time discussing our days with inside voices and no thumping…….But I take a machete to that B…h of a fairy and say as much as I want them to be, my children are not cultured children of the world, they only eat cheese if it’s on a pizza and regularly make fake retching noises and turn into Kevin and Perry when I put before them some lovingly laboured over hearty and healthy dish. Little brats you say…..well I see where you’re coming from but the battles required to enforce 5 a day, particularly with one of them, leave me exhausted and bizzarely hurt that they have taken my offering of love and shoved it cream pie like in my proverbial face.I suppose I must be a Pleaser as well as a Feeder.
But as I rise from the ashes I have decided to start anew and actually put much less effort in to these end of the day meals in order to avoid hitting the bottle before bed and bath time. But I refuse to be defeated on the vegetable front so here are a few of my shortcuts that may even earn me a “Thankyou Mrs Pattinson”from Perry.
The first secret weapon (or secret from my children) is my food processor. Mine sits on my worktop ready at a moments notice to pulverise and macerate vegetables to be hidden under and within a blanket of meat and sauce.The second is that I use wholewheat pasta and wholewheat rice. The latter I buy frozen in microwaveable packets.The difference in taste to non whole grain is minimal and my kids don’t even notice. I keep lots of frozen veg in the freezer and I will put it straight into the processor.The third is I am looking to do one pot cooking and mostly I do enough to freeze for at least another meal, you know it makes sense – double results for singular effort – guaranteed smugness.I will open jars but I’m not interested in peeling, whisking or other such taxing techniques, it’s all too near Cocktail Hour.
Serves 8 adults comfortably so more than enough to feed a lot or freeze for another meal.You will obviously have to work out your own family’s requirements.
- 500g mince or Quorn
- 3 medium organic carrots washed and roughly chopped
- 2 celery stalks washed and roughly chopped
- 1 courgette washed and roughly chopped
- 500 ml passata
- 2 sprigs of rosemary and 3 sprigs of thyme (I leave in sprigs for easy removal at the end)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 tbsp tomato ketchup
- 2 heaped tbsp of flour
- Put all veg and garlic in processor and blend till as fine as will go. Do the courgettes separately and last, use your hands to squeeze out the water before adding to the pan. Just one strong squeeze is all that is needed.
- Fry veg in glug of oil for five mins until starting to soften.
- Add mince and fry until starting to brown.
- Sprinkle over flour and stir in well.
- Add passata,ketchup and herbs.
- Simmer for 15 mins.
- Season to taste and Apply to Face.
It has a small kick suitable for my children but make it to suit your family. Obviously you can add guacomole, cheese and sour cream if desired.This recipe makes enough for ten adults comfortably or for freezing for another couple of meals.You will need an extra large frying pan.
- 500g of mince or Quorn
- 2 medium organic carrots washed and roughly chopped
- 2 medium red peppers washed and roughly chopped
- 2 celery stalks washed and roughly chopped
- 2 courgettes washed and roughly chopped
- 1 large onion roughly chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 680g of passata
- 410g can of drained kidney beans
- 4 heaped tbsp of tomato ketchup
- 2 tbsp cocoa
- 1 1/2 tbsp mild chilli powder
- 1tsp cumin
- 2 tbsp flour
- Put all veg and garlic into the processor and whizz until as smooth as poss. Again courgettes do separately or with the onion and give a good squeeze by hand.You may have to do in a couple of lots if processor bowl is too small.
- Fry veg in a couple of glugs of olive oil for 5 or so mins until starting to soften.
- Add spices and fry for few mins.
- Add mince and fry for few mins until it browns.
- Sprinkle over flour and mix well.
- Add passata, ketchup and sprinkle over cocoa and mix well
- Add kidney beans and simmer for 15 mins. Season to taste.
- Serve with microwaveable rice and apply to little and big faces.
Cheesy Pasta Bake
- 250g mature cheddar grated(buy already grated or use your processor-I let the cheese sit out at room temperature for half an hour as then its so much easier to grate)
- 250g wholewheat penne pasta
- Big handful frozen leeks
- 4 frozen asparagus
- 1 washed pepper roughly chopped
- 1 celery stalk washed and roughly chopped
- 2 eggs
- 250 ml evaporated milk
- If possible put all veg in processor and leave for ten mins before whizzing just to let frozen veg soften a little.
- Fry gently for 5mins in largish saucepan and take off heat.
- Cook pasta to al dente instructions on packet.
- Whilst pasta is cooking rinse out processor and put cheese(grate now if you’re using your processor) eggs and evaporated milk in processor and whizz.
- Tip cheesy mix into saucepan with veg.
- Tip drained pasta into the same saucepan and mix to combine.
- Empty it all out into suitable ovenproof dish and bake for 15 mins at 200 C until golden brown on top.
- Serve with ketchup and apply to face.