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With families of varying ages and tastebuds, sometimes we can find ourselves preparing three different meals in one evening! From veggie mush for the baby, to something heartier for the toddler, and hopefully a flavoursome dish for the adults, it’s tricky to squish it all in.
Emma Braz is the Coles food editor and a mum of three of very different kids, so she knows just hard it is to make one meal work for everyone!
“We’re all pressed for time and to be able to just cook one meal is a real way of saving a huge amount of time in the kitchen,” Emma recognises.
For example, Emma’s kids will all eat the same protein but they all like different veggies. If you can get away with it, she suggests cooking the same main meat or main component of the meal and adding different veggies, depending on the child.
She also suggests giving them the choice. “Get them to choose the meal as well. So say, ‘I’ve got three recipes here’, which one would you like?’”
“I find Mexican really good, tacos, because someone likes burritos, some like the taco shells, so I can incorporate that and you can get packs with both of them which is really great, and I find then too, that they’re putting their food together,” she says.
Listen to Emma on Kinderling Conversation:
It can be hard to know where to start, so here are a few ideas for cooking one meal for the whole family.
Three ways with Barbecue chicken
Chicken & vegetable family pie
Serves 6. Prep 10 mins. Cooking 30 mins.
- 1 corncob, husks and silks removed
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 brown onion, finely chopped
- 1 red capsicum, seeded, finely chopped
- 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled, finely chopped
- 490g jar carbonara sauce
- 1 Coles RSPCA Approved Hot Roast Chicken, skin and bones removed, coarsely shredded
- 1 cup (120g) frozen peas
- 16 sheets filo pastry
- 50g butter, melted
- 1 tsp caraway seeds
- Coles Brand Australian 4 Leaf Salad, to serve
- Flat-leaf parsley leaves, to serve
- Preheat oven to 200°C. Use a sharp knife to cut down the length of the corncob close to the core to remove the kernels. Discard the cob.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook the onion, stirring, for 2 mins or until onion softens. Add corn kernels, capsicum, celery and carrot. Cook, stirring, for 3 mins or until tender. Add the carbonara sauce, chicken and peas and stir to combine. Transfer to a 10-cup (2.5L) ovenproof dish.
- Place the filo on a clean work surface. Brush 1 filo sheet with a little butter. Top with a second filo sheet and brush with butter. Fold into quarters lengthways, then starting from one end, loosely roll pastry around to form a disc. Place on top of the chicken mixture. Repeat with remaining filo to make 8 discs. Brush with butter and sprinkle with caraway seeds.
- Bake for 20-25 mins or until golden brown and heated through. Serve with salad leaves and parsley, if desired.
For bubs: Remove pastry from pie and mash any larger veggie chunks and chicken until they reach the desired consistency for your baby. If necessary, puree until completely smooth.
For tots: Serve the pie in small portions, chop pastry
Spring vegetable & chicken broth
Serves 4. Prep 15 mins. Cooking 25 mins.
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 carrot, peeled, finely chopped
- 1 leek, halved, washed, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 Chicken Stock Pots
- 150g green beans, cut into 2cm lengths
- 400g can borlotti beans, rinsed, drained
- 2 cups (320g) shredded Coles Hot Roast Chicken
- 60g baby spinach
- 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup (90g) basil pesto
- Grated parmesan, to serve
- Coles Bakery Stone Baked Light Rye Sourdough Vienna, sliced, to serve
- Heat oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add carrot and cook, stirring, for 5 mins. Add leek and garlic. Cook, stirring, for 3 mins.
- Add stock pots and 6 cups (1.5L) water. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 mins. Add green beans, borlotti beans and chicken. Cook for a further 5 mins. Stir in spinach and spring onion. Season well.
- Ladle soup into bowls. Top with a dollop of pesto and parmesan. Serve with bread.
For bubs: Omit the basil pesto. Mash any larger veggie chunks and chicken to reach the desired consistency for your baby. If necessary, puree until completely smooth.
For tots: Optional to serve with basil pesto.
Chicken, roast veggie & fetta free-form tart
Serves 4. Prep 10 mins. Cooking 1 hour.
- 500g pkt Coles Roasting Vegetables with Garlic & Rosemary
- 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 2 sheets puff pastry
- 100g shredded Coles RSPCA Approved Hot Roast Chicken
- 70g fetta, crumbled
- Mixed salad leaves, to serve
- Preheat oven to 200°C. Combine vegetables and half the oil in a roasting pan. Roast for 35 mins or until just tender and slightly golden.
- Meanwhile, cut 1 sheet of pastry in half. Attach pastry halves to the top and one side of the remaining pastry sheet to form a larger square, using a fork to secure edges. Using a dinner plate as a guide, cut a 28cm disc from pastry.
- Place the pastry disc on a greased baking tray. Top with the vegetables, chicken and fetta, leaving a 4cm border around the edge. Bring the edge up over the filling, leaving filling exposed in the centre. Season.
- Bake for 25 mins or until pastry is puffed and golden. Drizzle with remaining oil. Serve with salad leaves.
For bubs: Omit feta cheese. Remove vegetables from pastry. Pastry can be mashed with larger veggie chunks and add a little milk (breastmilk or formula) or yoghurt to reach the desired consistency for your baby. If necessary, puree until completely smooth.
For tots: Cut tart into manageable pieces.
Other meals for the whole family
Leek & Zucchini Risotto
Serves 4. Prep 10 mins. Cooking 30 mins.
- 1L (4 cups) reduced-salt vegetable stock
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 leek, pale section only, halved lengthways, thinly sliced
- 1 zucchini, ends trimmed, coarsely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 cup (200g) arborio rice
- 1 cup (120g) frozen peas
- ¼ cup finely chopped chives
- ¼ cup (60ml) reduced-fat thickened cream
- 1/3 cup (25g) finely grated parmesan
- Bring the stock to the boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low. Keep at a gentle simmer.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the leek, zucchini and garlic. Cook, stirring, for 4 mins or until leek softens. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 2 mins or until the grains of rice appear glassy.
- Add ½ cup (125ml) of the simmering stock to the rice mixture and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the liquid is completely absorbed. Continue adding the stock, 1 ladleful at a time, stirring continuously and allowing the liquid to be absorbed before adding more. Cook for 20 mins or until the rice is tender yet firm to the bite and risotto is creamy. Add peas and cook for 2 mins or until heated through.
- Remove from heat. Add the chives, cream and half the parmesan and stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper for the adults, if desired. Divide among serving plates and top with remaining parmesan to serve.
For bubs: Mash any larger veggie chunks and add a little milk (breastmilk or formula) or yoghurt to reach the desired consistency for your baby. If necessary, puree until completely smooth.
For tots: Serve the risotto in small portions or, for something fun, allow risotto to cool, roll into balls, coat in breadcrumbs and bake until crisp. Serve these risotto balls with your tot’s favourite dipping sauce.
Serves 4. Prep 15 mins. Cooking 30 mins
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 1 red capsicum, finely chopped
- 350g Coles RSPCA Approved Chicken Mince
- ½ x 425g can Old El Paso Black Beans, rinsed, drained
- 375g jar mild enchilada sauce
- 250g pkt corn tortillas
- 1 cup (120g) grated tasty cheese
- 1 corn cob, husks and silks removed, kernels removed
- 1 ripe tomato, finely chopped
- 1 tbs lime juice
- 1/3 cup chopped coriander leaves
- Light sour cream, to serve
- Mixed lettuce leaves, to serve
- Lime wedges, to serve
- Preheat the oven to 200°C. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add the onion and capsicum and cook, stirring, for 3 mins or until the onion softens. Add the chicken and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up any lumps, for 5 mins or until heated through. Add the black beans and half the enchilada sauce and cook, stirring, for 5 mins or until heated through.
- Spoon half the remaining enchilada sauce over the base of an 8-cup (2L) ovenproof dish. Heat tortillas following the packet directions. Place one tortilla on a flat work surface. Top with chicken mixture and roll to enclose. Place seam-side down in the dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and chicken mixture. Spoon the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 15 mins or until golden brown and heated through.
- Meanwhile, cook the corn in a saucepan of boiling water for 2 mins or until tender (alternatively, you can microwave it). Refresh under cold running water. Drain well. Place in a bowl with the tomato, lime juice and coriander. Toss to combine.
- Spoon the corn salsa over the top of the enchiladas. Serve with sour cream, mixed salad leaves and lime wedges.
For bubs: For a flavourful dish, puree some of the cooked chicken and bean mixture.
For tots: Sneak in some extra veggies by adding grated zucchini and carrot to the chicken mixture, and help your tot tackle the enchiladas by cutting into manageable pieces.
Beef & pumpkin filo snails with tomato salad
Serves 4. Prep 20 mins. Cooking 30 mins.
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 400g lean beef mince
- 500g butternut pumpkin, peeled, seeded, coarsely grated
- 1 zucchini, ends trimmed, coarsely grated
- 1 tbs Moroccan spice mix
- 2 tbs coarsely chopped mint
- 8 filo pastry sheets
- 40g butter, melted
- 1 tbs sesame seeds
- 400g mixed medley tomatoes, thinly sliced
- ½ cup mint leaves
- 100g feta, coarsely crumbled
- Preheat oven to 200°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Heat 2 tsp of the oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add the beef and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up any lumps, for 5 mins or until mince changes colour. Add the pumpkin and zucchini and cook, stirring, for 1 min or until well combined. Add the Moroccan spice and cook for 1 min or until aromatic. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly. Stir in the chopped mint.
- Place one filo sheet on a clean work surface. (To prevent remaining filo drying out, keep covered with a damp tea towel while you work.) Brush the filo sheet with a little melted butter. Top with another filo sheet. Place a quarter of the beef mixture along one long side of the pastry. Loosely roll up pastry to enclose filling, then working quickly, coil the length of the filo into a snail shape. Place on the lined tray. Brush with butter and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Repeat with the remaining filo and beef mixture.
- Bake for 20 mins or until golden.
- Meanwhile, combine the tomato, mint leaves and feta in a serving bowl. Drizzle with the remaining oil. Serve with the filo snails.
For bubs: Before adding Moroccan spice, set aside a portion of the cooked beef and vegie mix and blend until smooth.
For tots: Serve with yoghurt for dipping.
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