Thursday, May 31, 2012

5 (quick and healthy) things your kids will love for dinner

Last week, my very funny and very lovely galpal, Bec from saynothingactcasual blogged about the tribulations of making a healthy, preservative-free dinner that everyone at the table will actually eat, night after night after night.  While reading her post I was nodding my head in agreement hell, because as anyone who knows me will tell you, I'm a vegetable scoffing, wheat-free, yeast-free, sugar-free, preservative-free try-hard, whose children came out of my you know where with two food likes on their palates; refined sugar and complex carbohydrates. My arch nemeses. (Is that even a word?)  Needless to say, coming up with popular dinners in our household is an issue, but I have a few winners up my sleeve, and here they are for you.

1.     COTOLETTA – This is a fancy word that we Southern Italians use to describe crumbed veal or chicken. I don’t even know if it’s real Italian or dialect, but I don’t care, because my kids would eat it every day if I gave it to them. Basically, you lightly salt thin slices of whichever meat, dip it into a beaten egg, press it into a mixture of bread crumbs, parsley and parmesan. Shallow fry in a decent oil, drain on a paper towel and serve with cherry tomatoes that only one kid will eat, carrot pieces that the other one will, and cucumbers dowsed in tomato sauce that they’ll both suck up.

2.     ZUCCHINI OMLETTE – By far the easiest.  I think.  Three eggs, whisk, whisk, whisk.  Add milk (I use rice milk, cos we’re half dairy-free).  Grate some zucchini and add it to the mix.  Slice some tasty cheese.  Melt a little oil (coconut oil) in the pan, then pour in the mixture.  Lay the cheese on one half of the circle and turn the heat down by half.  When it looks like it’s holding together, flip the cheeseless side to make a semi-circle, and cut in half.  Voila!  Healthy dinner for two fussy punks.

3.     TACOS/BURRITOS – My kids won’t have the tomatoes, avos or lettuce on the taco or wrap, but I sneak red kidney beans, capsicum, celery and tomato into the beef mixture so I don’t care!  I absolutely won’t touch the preservative-laden store-bought taco mix, but I add spices like cumin and tumeric for the Mexicano flavour.  Beware; I once turned my neighbour’s kid into Angelina Jolie for two days after eating this, and although his mum didn’t think it was the herbs, I’ve never seen a lip swell so quickly in my life, so do test first!  Other than that, my kids – who are tiny – will eat two tacos and a burrito each, including the beans, so knock yourself out!
Crap photo of awesome blender.

4.     PUMPKIN SOUP – Some time ago, my blender broke, and I convinced myself that instead of buying an $80 replacement, I needed a $320 version that also heats things.  The upside is that all I need to do is heat some chopped onion.  In the blender.  I know.  It’s amazing.  I add the stock and the pumpkin, hit boil, and when it’s nice and soft, I hit blend.  Add a little cream, there’s dinner.  Making the toast is the hardest part! My kids like to chop their toast and mix it into the soup, then, simply by eating the massive chunks of soggy toast, the soup disappears as well.  It is, seriously, magic!

5.     VEGETABLE FRITTERS – Again, these hail from my mother’s Italian kitchen where I can’t pretend to belong, but the fritter-making skill is one I’ve picked up and has seen me through many agonising weeknight dinners. I tend to use zucchini and sweet potatoes, or corn or any veges I have in the fridge.  Mix with eggs, salt, pepper and parsley. Finely chopped shallots also go well with the corn ones.  Add flour to make a batter-ish mix. I use rice flour, because of the wheat-freeness of my home. Again, pull out a good quality cooking oil, heat it, and shallow fry these babies. Dollop big spoonfuls of the mix into the oil, and really let them cook for a while before attempting to flip them, otherwise they’ll be a great big mess.  When cooked properly they’ll be lovely light brown on both sides.  The kids will still drown them in tomato sauce, but like I always say to my husband, it’s better than a burger!

I’d love to put a picture of some of these delectable delights up, but it’s almost 10pm and I’m not hitting the kitchen at this hour.   Will post a pic next time I make one…probably tomorrow night!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

5 Things You can do to Get Organised

Sometimes you need to clear the decks to clear your head. That's what I did this week. I semi-wagged work (told my boss I needed some me time...I'm a lucky chick), then spent my day getting rid of crap I haven’t worn in years, cleaning out cupboards, and mass culling the kids wardrobes. The result?  The kids no longer fight over the last pair of black leggings, I can find my scissors, egg cups and glue sticks, I’ve cut my dressing time to about 10 mins, and weirdly, I feel about 5 kilos lighter.  Here’s a few ways you can drop 5 kilos without dieting!

1.     BUY BOXES – It’s the $2 shop again. A world of boxes in all shapes, colours and sizes.  Plastic or paper, choose at will and use them to store your kids’ mementos.  The stuff you can’t bear to throw away, and think they may want to look at when they’re 21. The bookmark they made you for mother’s day, the story they wrote in barely legible first-words writing, the teeth the fairy took to build her castle and the patient name-tags from when they had their tonsils out. Box it, label it store it. See ya later crapola, you’re gone from my sight and from my coffee table!

2.     CLEAR OUR YOUR WARDROBE – I did this.  It’s fabulous.  You can see what you have and what you need. For example, I need two new pairs of boots and a pair of flatties pronto!  It’s great for clearing the headspace and saving you time.  Look at what you’ve got, and if you like it, keep it.  If you can’t see yourself wearing it again, chuck it.  If you can’t see yourself wearing it again but you really, really like it, box it!  (see above).  Or bag it, in one of those vacuum seal bags that I can’t seem to use.  

3.     CLEAR OUT YOUR KITCHEN CUPBOARDS – Oh the relief this brings!  No more bread crumbs in the cupboard where the toaster sits.  No greasy ring marks from five varieties of oil.  No drink bottles without lids, cups without saucers, or muffin tins that will never release their contents.  Candles, lighters, toothpicks, bubble mixture, straws, label writing machines, the labels that go with them, thumb tacks, blue tack and the fuzzy little stickers that go on the bottom of your bar stools – you finally know where they are! YAY!

4.     PAY BILLS & MAKE CALLS – Sooooo tedious. Soooo time consuming.  But it has to be done.  Set aside 2-3 hours.  Get your pile of paperwork, your computer and your phone.  Pay what you can online, call whoever you have to, sit on hold and deal with it.  Activate your bloody new FlyBuys card, change your healthcare provider, send the enrolment forms to 5 high schools your kids won't go to, and get the childcare rebate you didn't know you could claim. Stamp them all at once and file them, finished, done, finito!

5.     GET A NOTICE BOARD – I forgot something this week. Two things actually.  Really, monumental, embarrassing things I should never have forgotten.  I have a smartphone calendar with little alarms to remind me about stuff, and yet I still forget because I have SO MUCH stuff to remember.  And because I never know the date, just the day. The easiest way for me to remember stuff is for it to be smack-bang in front of my face.  I use a whiteboard marker on my kitchen splashback to make notes to self, and as I spend so much time in the kitchen, whatever is on that wall is in my head.  Obviously making food for the lady with newborn twins didn’t make it on to the wall. Neither did the two catch up swimming lessons.  They were on the high tech email/phone which system I ignored because I didn’t know what date it was!