You gotta know when to hold ’em

If you’ve got any style or class, I’d like to think the title of this post was sung in your head. And just kept going with the rest of the song! I have fond memories of playing poker as a teenager with my then boyfriend and his mates. They all tended to drink a lot of beer, at that age I hardly drank at all. This was my secret weapon. Play safe until they all get totally drunk then take them all to the cleaners! Booya! Unfortunately we were all so poor (we were only 18) that we never bet with real money, just their parents shrapnel bowl (coin collection, not actual shrapnel. That would be deeply disturbing.). Otherwise I could be driving something a bit more swanky than a Honda Jazz….

And what does poker have to do with baby led weaning and meal planning??

Well tonight’s delicious meal is Leon’s Poker Night Chilli. Taken from the 4th book in the Leon Restaurant cookbook collection (I am missing only one, hint hint Legoman). If you are a new here, I love Leon. If you’re a more frequent reader, nothing new.

Leon: Family and Friends, Book 4

Leon: Family and Friends, Book 4

Legoman has told me which meals don’t really tickle his fancy… minestrone soup, chilli con carne, most meals without meat. I am pleased to report that when I made this for the second time in a week Legoman was delightfully happy and stated “Is that what you made the other night? I really like that one. Like, a lot.”.

So do click on the link for the recipe and have an equally happy husband in your house too!

Leon’s Poker Night Chilli

Affordability : EXCELLENT. For a meal super high in protein, this can be made very cheaply. Beef mince comes in differing quality/cost levels and is often in the clearance section at my local Woolies. You could easily make a double batch for under $15.

Time Factor : MODERATE. Prep takes about 10 minutes and cooking takes about 50 minutes from start to finish. My one gripe about the printed recipe is that up the top where it states number of serves, prep time and cook time, it states the cooking time is 10 minutes. But then the recipe says “simmer on low for 30-40 minutes”. Fail. I think it’s the Virgo in me that gets really irked by mistakes like that.

Complexity : LOW. Lovely and straight forward. The second time I made this, I hardly looked at the recipe. That, is a good recipe.

Deliciousness : EXCELLENT. Lacks vegetables, but that is half the joy. The other half is the Mt Everest pile of cheese on top. Mmmmmmmmmmm. One little hint would be to brown off your mince well. And don’t scrimp on the simmer time, let it thicken up nicely.

Mess : LOW. One pot wonder. First night I used a saucepan, second night I used a large frypan. Both worked very well.

Tummy Filling Factor : EXCELLENT. Try and not be full after a big bowl of meat, beans, rice and cheese. I dare you. Double dare even.

Possum Friendly? YES. An excellent meal for a bub with a pincer grasp. It’s a shame that Possum has totally shunned mince meat. She did put some in her mouth the second night. I held my breath. 5 seconds later it was spat out. Baby steps. She did eat about 6 red kidney beans out of the tin while we were cooking. But then refused to eat any in the actual meal.

Would I make it again? Yes, this is saved in the go to list in my head as it uses easily accessible ingredients, most of which are in my cupboard as a state of permanency.

Leon's Poker Night Chilli

Leon’s Poker Night Chilli

And I just want to make a little shout out for The Australian Climbing Festival which is going to be held in the Blue Mountains next weekend. Another great reason to come visit the Blue Mountains!!

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Gotta Love That Leon

I have been MIA as of late. Just a few things going on. Like getting a skin cancer cut out of my head (8 stitches… wear suncream people), parenting a wonderful toddler (who has a sign for yabby, so so proud), family holidays and buying a house!!!!! Eeeeeeep!! Every now and then I have a little sticky beak at my stats and am amazed to see one blog post keep getting visited every day nearly. And that is my Leon’s Not Too Spicy Chicken Cous Cous Recipe. Turns out I’m not the only Leon nut out there. There’s more of you!! Hello! 🙂

Not too long ago the Leon brand celebrated it’s 10th birthday. Happy Birthday delicious Leon! To celebrate they were giving away free food… Sigh. If only they shipped to Australia. It made me drool to read their giveaways but it also made me pull out my Leon cookbooks and have a nice stroll through the wonderful recipes on offer.

I decided to make Coconut Chicken and Petit Pois Curry from Leon: Naturally Fast Food. I got home from the supermarket and had the car unpacked by 4:30. Dinner was cooked and ready to go by 4:52. Booya! And it has minimal ingredients! Huzzah! I was so impressed with the speed, ease and deliciousness I just had to share with y’all. So here you go…

Leon’s Coconut Chicken and Petit Pois Curry

6 chicken breasts (i think i only used 4… not as cheap as I remember)

25g butter (any recipe that specifies butter not oil is a winner already)

2 teaspoons of nigella seeds (black onion seeds, worth looking for)

2 tablespoons tikka paste

300ml coconut milk (my tin was 270ml)

200g frozen peas

salt and pepper

coriander to serve (not essential)

1. Slice the chicken into strips.

2. Melt the butter in a heavy frying pan. Add the chicken and nigella seeds and cook for between 8-10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

3. Stir in the tikka paste, coconut milk and peas. Bring gently to the boil, stirring all the time, and simmer for a minute or two.

4. Season to taste, add the coriander if you have it. Serve and enjoy with some yummy rice!

Leon’s Coconut Chicken and Petit Pois Curry

Affordability : MODERATE. Chicken breasts aren’t that cheap but it makes enough for leftovers.

Time Factor : EXCELLENT. Full prep and cooking in under 30 minutes!

Complexity : LOW. Very easy, would be one big kids could make or tired frazzled mummies.

Deliciousness : MODERATE. Tasty warming curry. Perfect for a cold wintery night.

Mess : LOW. Curry pot and rice pot. Save yourself dealing with a raw chicken chopping board and buy the presliced chicken.

Tummy Filling Factor : EXCELLENT. Protein, carbs and some veg on the side.

Possum Friendly? YES. She ate all of it!!!!!! A rarity at the moment. Turns out she really enjoys green peas.

Would I make it again? Yes, probably after a busy day.

***no photo tonight, technology doesn’t want to cooperate***

Magical Booby Milk

So many times in the past 11 months I have said out loud, “Thank God for boobs!”. Being able to breastfeed my daughter has been one of the greatest gifts I could have ever received. It hasn’t always been easy, we had 4 days in hospital after she was born learning to feed and then 10 weeks later we were back in hospital to have a 7 x 8 x 4cm abscess drained from my left breast. But here we are 11 months later, back at work, and still feeding! Hurray!

Feeding is such a delicate issue in mummy circles. I wish it wasn’t, because every single one of us is just trying to do what we feel is best for our baby and ourselves. I have heard people talk about their different struggles and can truly empathise with how hard feeding a little baby can be. I have had times of crying on the phone to my girlfriends threatening to cut my boobs off and fling them out a window. I have had times where the thought of having my daughter feed makes me wince in dread. I have had times of enduring over enthusiastic niplash (where your baby flings itself off to look at something). I have also had times of having my daughter drift off into blissful sleep whilst feeding. I have had times where the only thing that will soothe her is a breastfeed. I have had to wait in hospital emergency rooms for hours and hours on end, so grateful for my boobs.

And after coming out the other end of all those hard times, I am so glad we kept going. The benefit (for me and my family) has far outweighed the crap that we went through.

Why the blurb about boobs? Because I hope someone reads this and it strikes a chord with them. Or the day they start their breastfeeding journey they remember something I’ve written and it helps them to ask questions, find support and find a solution for them.

Our mothers group talks boobs often, and this week it has been all about supply. How do I boost my supply? How to I tell if my supply has dropped? We were comparing what works for us, when I remembered a recipe from one of my favourite cookbooks, Leon, for George’s Breastfeeding Bread! I am doing a sneaky cut and paste job, but here is the recipe. May your milk flow forth and nurture!

George’s Breastfeeding Bread

(abridged, for the full thing check out Leon):
330g spelt flour (or wholemeal)
170g white flour
5g fast-acting dried yeast
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. aniseeds
1 tsp. caraway seeds
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 tsp. fenugreek (ground)
40g pumpkin seeds
40g sunflower seeds
2.5 tbs. olive oil
300ml warm water
extra sunflower and pumpkin seeds for the top (the recipe calls for pine nuts as well, but I typically don’t have those on hand, so I simply omit them)

Grease a loaf pan, mix all the dry ingredients together (except the extra seeds for the topping) in a large bowl, add the oil and water, and knead in the bowl briefly. Put the dough in the loaf pan, cut gashes across the top for the extra seeds and let rise for a few hours. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Turn down the oven to 400 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes.

As an aside, I haven’t actually baked this… I never had supply issues. But it sounds delicious! Would love to hear if you’ve made it. Would also love to hear your breastfeeding stories, like hearing birthing stories, I’m addicted!

Leon’s Not Too Spicy Chicken CousCous and a Little Lunch Time Curry

***This is one of my most popular blog posts, so to make life easier… here is the link to the chicken cous cous recipe… CLICK HERE****

Today our wonderful little Possum turned 10 months. Double digits already! They always said it would go faster than a blink of an eye, I never really could comprehend it, but wow. It has gone so fast. Today we celebrate by staying at home, quarantined with snotty noses, hanging out in our flannelette pyjamas. I felt like a mum today, “Come here so I can wipe your nose”. Yup, definitely a mum.

So we needed food to help make us better. Spices, vegetables and garlic were in order!

Lunch was this lovely Broccoli Cauliflower and Pea curry, which was tried and tested before. A possum favourite.

Mum and Possum Lunch

Mum and Possum Lunch

It makes me a happy mumma when Possum gobbled up all the broccoli first.

Broccoli Snot Monster

Broccoli Snot Monster

Dinner tonight was a favourite of mine, Leon’s Not Too Spicy Chicken CousCous. I have spoken before about how wonderful the Leon chain is and their super fantastico cookbooks. This recipe is from the first book (the best of the bunch). It is one I make often when friends are coming over as it’s tasty and simple. This was a good way to use up some of the chicken stock in the fridge that I made last week. I managed to find another blogger today who gushed over Leon with the same amount of love I feel for them… here is her post. It includes the recipe for the couscous. I do a few little tweaks. Instead of raisins or sultanas, I used chopped dates. I also like to add some vegetables in with the couscous. Tonight it was cauliflower and zucchini (chopped kale is another good one). I have made it with wholemeal couscous too which was still very tasty. I made a little blunder tonight and added over a litre of stock instead of just 500ml. It was a bit wet compared to normal but still a great combination of flavours.

Chicken couscous

Chicken couscous

The recipe calls for garlicky tomatoes to be served with it (as well as mint, coriander and pine nuts). All of which I feel are essential to turn a good dinner into an awesome one. To make my life easier, I roasted some sweet potato “wedges” in the same tray for Possum’s dinner (they’re her favourite thing at the moment).

Garlicky Tomatoes

Garlicky Tomatoes

Leon’s Not Too Spicy Chicken Cous Cous

Affordability : MODERATE. Uses a whole box of cous cous plus meat and herbs. We have mint in the garden but I had to buy coriander. I managed to score a tray of mini roma tomatoes on quick sale which made this a bit cheaper. I always have a jar of pine nuts so didn’t have to buy some just for tonight. The recipe makes plenty, you will have leftovers for certain.

Time Factor : MODERATE. You will need to peel and chop 10 cloves of garlic all up. A little bit time consuming. A little hint is to squash the cloves with the side of your knife before attempting to peel. This will loosen the skin and make it much easier and faster. The two trays were in the oven for 35 minutes.

Complexity : LOW. A bit of chopping and marinating but fairly straight forward.

Deliciousness : EXCELLENT. Feel good, garlic laden, comfort food. Always a winner. Plus Possum loved it, though she did get a chilli flake on one of her pieces of chicken and wasn’t too happy about it.

Mess : LOW. Two pan wonder. Plus a bowl to marinate the chicken.

Tummy Filling Factor : EXCELLENT. The ratios were a bit off tonight with the stock mix up plus not buying enough chicken. But Lego Man and I were still both pretty full afterwards. We did enjoy a bowl of ice cream with my homemade strawberry jam/syrup on top though.

Possum Friendly? YES. Salt kept low by using homemade stock plus no extra salt added. Spices didn’t seem to be as strong as usual (didn’t measure as I had a baby on my hip at the time) but flavour was lovely. Possum gobbled up her serve, but wasn’t super keen on the cauliflower.

Would I make it again? Yes, most certainly.

Leon's Not Too Spicy Chicken Couscous

Leon’s Not Too Spicy Chicken Couscous