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Simple Chicken Paella

chicken paellaAaliyah is a massive fan of chicken and rice. When I say chicken and rice, I mean chicken curry with rice. It’s her staple. I know if I’m serving this up for dinner, there will be no complaints – no little fussy pointy fingers coming out – ‘mummy what’s that?’, she’ll gobble it down and will have a full satisfied little belly. Not just Aaliyah’s though – the hubby’s too.

Whilst this is great, I’m not overly keen on feeding Aaliyah the same meals; I don’t want her to get ‘comfortable’ with what she knows. I’m trying my best to keep meals interesting for her so I decided to cook up a variation of chicken and rice.

Introducing my BIG FAT FAMILY PAELLA! This is delicious! It includes two of Aaliyah’s favourite ingredients – chicken and rice, but it’s a totally different cuisine. And the fact that paella’s are so bright and colourful is really appealing to kids. I’m not going to lie – this does create some extra washing but it is totally worth it.

Aaliyah’s verdict – well initially she looked at her bowl and said ‘where’s the REAL chicken and rice’ but as you know Aaliyah is not a fussy eater; she’ll happily try new things. She ate, scoffed and loved! Another one to add to the list!

Chicken Paella 2
Total preparation and cooking time: 35-40mins
Serves family of 4

 

425g (15oz) white basmati rice
1 litre (1¾ pints) chicken stock – reduced salt variety
½ tsp ground turmeric
Pinch of saffron
30ml (1fl oz) vegetable oil
700g (1lb 9oz) chicken breast fillets – skinless, boneless, cubed
6 cloves of garlic – peeled, minced
Salt to taste (optional)
¼ tsp ground black pepper
2 chillies – red and green (optional) – stems chopped, pounded to paste
2 bell peppers (green and red) – washed, deseeded, chopped
Fresh coriander (cilantro) or parsley for garnish – chopped

 

Add the rice, stock, turmeric, saffron and oil to a large pot and stir. Bring to the boil and simmer (covered) on low heat for 10-12mins until the rice is tender.

Whilst the rice is cooking, stir-fry the chicken cubes with garlic, salt to taste (if you wish), black pepper and chillies (if you like a little heat). Stir-fry until tender and set aside.

Finally, grill the peppers on a griddle pan for a few minutes to give them a lovely smoky flavour. I like to do this at the same time as stir-frying the chicken to save time.

Combine everything and garnish with a little chopped parsley or coriander. Serve immediately.

Sweet Red Pepper Chicken Curry

 

I realise it’s been a while since I’ve last blogged about any family meals. So here you go! I created this curry because my little one absolutely LOVES bell peppers! She’ll quite happily eat them raw (washed and deseeded), and frequently munches on a whole pack of three whilst watching her favourite show – Peppa Pig. In fact, one of the best ways I’ve found to keep her occupied is to literally whack a bell pepper in her hand and let her munch on it. It’s fresh, colourful enough for the kids and is rich in vitamins A and C, and B vitamins. Winners all around!

Red Pepper Chicken Curry_low

In this curry I’ve used a red bell pepper to form the main base of the curry sauce. It still contains all of those lovely aromatic Indian spices, but this curry has a unique taste that is loved by our whole family so I thought I’d share it with you.

Try it for dinner tonight… it only takes half an hour.

 

Total preparation and cooking time: 30mins
Serves a family of 4

 

50ml (2fl oz) olive oil
1 onion – peeled, chopped
3 whole cloves
1 small cinnamon stick
3 cardamom pods – green
4 black peppercorns
1 red bell pepper/ capsicum – washed, roughly chopped, deseeded
6 garlic cloves
Ginger root – 1” piece, peeled
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
1 ½ tsp ground coriander
200g (7oz) tinned peeled plum tomatoes – crushed
1 tsp dark brown sugar
Salt to taste
Red chilli powder to taste
500g (1lb 2oz) chicken thighs – cubed, fat-trimmed

 

Heat the oil in a pot and add the onion, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and peppercorns. Stir-fry until the onions are browning.

Whilst the onions are browning, place the red pepper, garlic cloves and ginger into a blender and blend into a paste. Once the onions have browned, add the red pepper paste, turmeric, cumin and coriander and lightly cook the spices for 1-2mins stirring continuously.

Then add the tomatoes by gently crushing them with your hands and dropping them in, followed by the brown sugar, salt and red chilli powder. Then let the sauce simmer on medium-low heat for about 5mins.

Add the chicken to the sauce and cook covered for 15-20mins or until the chicken is tender. Stirring occasionally.

Garnish with freshly chopped coriander/ cilantro and serve with freshly cooked rice, naan or roti.

Note: If you don’t want to include salt or chillies in your little ones serving, cook the entire curry as described above but without adding these two items. Add them at the end when you have removed a serving for your little one.

Spice Flavour Chart – Sweet and Savoury

With so many spices available to purchase in the supermarkets it can be tricky to know which spices are suitable for which types of meals. If you’re feeling experimental and want to create your own meals for baby and the rest of the family, you can create your very own spice blend using a combination of the flavour details I’ve listed below.

There are no rules about what you should and shouldn’t use spices with when it comes to cooking, so you needn’t be cooking a curry when you use them. Add one or two spices to your everyday meals to make them more exciting for the family. For example, add some ground coriander to casseroles, star anise to barbeques or add a little paprika to your bolognaise sauce. There are tons of combinations to try!

 

Black Pepper

Flavour: strong, deep flavour, sharp

Tastes best with: savoury dishes

Can be used with virtually everything!

Baking spice: no

 

Cardamom – black

Flavour: smoky, menthol aroma, warm, bold flavour

Tastes best with: savoury dishes

Try it in my Humble Dhal, Crumbly Beef Goulash family recipes or my Black Eyed Bean Pilaf with Lime recipe for toddlers.

Baking spice: no

 

Cardamom – green

Flavour: fragrant, sweet, menthol aroma, delicate flavour

Tastes best with: sweet and savoury dishes

A sweet yogurt dessert to try this spice with – Papaya Shrikhand for babies

Baking spice: yes

 

Cayenne Pepper

Flavour: hot, spicy flavour

Tastes best with: savoury dishes

Try this in my Sloppy Joe Kebab for the family

Baking spice: traditionally no, although is fab in chocolate chilli cake

 

Cinnamon

Flavour: sweet, woody, warm

Tastes best with: sweet and savoury dishes

Delicious in my Spicy Sweet Potato Fries or my Simple Banana Sticks with a Touch of Cinnamon for babies

Baking spice: yes

 

Cloves

Flavour: warm, sweet, aromatic, woody

Tastes best with: sweet and savoury dishes

Try them in my Thai Lamb Masala Curry for the family or my Spiced Winter Pear for babies.

Baking spice: yes

 

Coriander – ground

Flavour: strong nutty aroma and sweetish piquant taste

Tastes best with: sweet and savoury dishes

Try it in most of my recipes including my Masala Fish Curry or Indian Meatballs in a 5 Minute Marinara Sauce family recipes. Alternatively try it in a Yummy Spiced Potato Pie for babies

Baking spice: traditionally no, although can be used in cakes and biscuits

 

Cumin – ground

Flavour: earthy, warm, mild, nutty

Tastes best with: savoury dishes

My little one loves it in these Mini Masala Omelettes. Ready in less than 10mins!

Baking spice: no

 

Curry Powder

Flavour: aromatic spice blend

Tastes best with: savoury dishes

Baking spice: no

 

Ginger – ground

Flavour: warm, earthy

Tastes best with: sweet and savoury dishes

Try it in another quick kids meal – Baked Bean Curry on Toast

Baking spice: yes

 

Garlic Powder

Flavour: flavoursome, not as sharp as fresh garlic and sweeter

Tastes best with: savoury dishes

Baking spice: no

 

Nutmeg

Flavour: warm, strong, nutty, earthy

Tastes best with: sweet and savoury dishes

Yummy in my naturally sweet Saffron and Date Kheer for babies or in my savoury Indian Salmon Risotto for toddlers

Baking spice: yes

 

Paprika

Flavour: warm, smoky

Tastes best with: savoury dishes

A couple of recipes to try this spice in – Lamb, Saag and Aloo Curry as a family meal or my 5 Minute Teriyaki Salmon as a quick meal for kids.

Baking spice: no

 

Red Chilli Powder

Flavour: hot, spicy flavour

Tastes best with: savoury dishes

Baking spice: no

 

Star Anise

Flavour: strong, liquorice-like flavour

Tastes best with: sweet and savoury dishes

Can be used widely in barbeques, curries, casseroles, soups, tomato sauces

Baking spice: yes

 

Turmeric

Flavour: woody aroma

Tastes best with: savoury dishes

Used in most of my meals including my Fruity Vegetable Bolognaise for toddlers

Baking spice: no

 

White Pepper

Flavour: slightly hot, peppery, earthy

Tastes best with: savoury dishes

Baking spice: no

 

Vanilla

Flavour: extremely fragrant, sweet, floral aroma

Tastes best with: sweet dishes

Delicious in cupcakes, cakes and more cakes!

Baking spice: yes

Baked Potato Thins (V)

A HERBY FINGER FOOD RECIPE

Baked Potato Thins

In my previous finger food post – Simple Banana Sticks with a Touch of Cinnamon, I mentioned how I was keen to keep my little ones finger foods interesting as I was already cooking with aromatic spices in her main meals. So adding a touch of flavour would simply enhance the taste of basic fruit and vegetables she had already become accustomed to.

So here is another very simple, yet extremely tasty finger food for babies aged 7-8 months and up. Having thrown quite a few of them in my mouth myself (don’t worry – it wasn’t when my child was hungry!), they really are a smooth, buttery delight. And the hint of parsley adds a very simple additional layer of flavour. This is great for helping to broaden little palates as serving the potato thins without the parsley, will offer your little one a very different taste.

White potatoes are high in starch content so if you do serve this to your little one, just be sure to offer some other vegetables alongside the potato. These could be steamed, squished peas or steamed carrot sticks.

Total preparation and cooking time: 35mins
Makes 2-3 servings
Suitable for freezing

½ small white potato – washed and scrubbed, peeled, cut into 1cm slices
Drizzle of olive oil
Sprinkle of dried parsley

 

Pre-heat the oven to 160C/ 325F/ gas mark 3.

Add the olive oil and parsley into a bowl and stir. Then drop in the potato slices and combine well.

Place the potato slices in a single layer on top of a foil-covered baking tray and cook for 30mins or until tender (turning over halfway). Serve to baby warm or at room temperature.

Tip one: any leftover potato thins can be mashed or pureed with the remaining vegetables and served as a new meal. This ‘new meal’ can also be frozen.

Tip two: if you prefer, you can cut the potato into stick shapes rather than slices if you feel your little one will be more comfortable holding this shape, as an alternative.

 

 

 

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