One of the things I would like to achieve this year  is a happy balance when it comes to dinner time.   Of course some nights it is too hard to sit down as a family with work commitments, extra curricular activities (ours and theirs) and life in general.  However by by feeding the kids early and then cooking a separate meal for Andrew and I,  I feel that  a) we are missing out on connecting with our kids and b) I am working twice as hard as I need to!   The problem is that Andrew and I really haven’t been eating the same food as our kids.  We love our vegetables and chili and sophisticated flavours and as a rule tend to avoid starchy carbohydrates at night.  They love their simple food such as gluten free pasta, potato and rice. They are also super fussy and likely to turn their noses up at most meals I put in front of them which makes it very frustrating.   So I have decided to create a new section on this website dedicated to family friendly meals that can be adapted to please mum and dads and the kids without too much angst.

First off the rank is my Bolognese (or Bolognaise if that’s the way you spell it!).  I made this sauce the other night (see the recipe below).  I don’t like cooking bolognese in my Thermomix but I find the Thermomix is brilliant for chopping the onions and garlic and getting the vegetables to the exact consistency that I like.  I have noted where I used my Thermomix below.

For the children I serve it on top of gluten free pasta with a sprinkling of lactose free cheese (my 5 year old is lactose intolerant).  My 8 year old however tried Parmesan for the first time the other night (not being put off by the smell) and loved it – an excellent surprise!  They say persistence is the key (sigh) …

I served ours on a bed of zucchini noodles (see how I make my zucchini noodles below).  I didn’t even heat the noodles, I just topped with the hot sauce and then with an avocado and caper salsa (see below).

The Shrinking Hubby’s Bolognese

This makes an enormous batch of bolognese sauce.  Enough to feed a family for a good 3-4 nights.  I freeze some in family sized portions and some in ice cube trays for a quick mid-week kids dinner on the fly.  Don’t be alarmed if it seems like it will be too watery, it thickens up beautifully over the cooking time.

What you will need:

  • 1 Kg grass-fed beef mince
  • 1-2 tablespoons Olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic (or  teaspoons of good quality organic minced garlic – I like the Spiral brand)
  • 1 largish brown onion
  • 2-3 cups vegetables – whatever you have in the fridge really.  I like to use carrots, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli and mushrooms depending on what I have.
  • 2 bottles of organic passata sauce (I use 690 gram jars or about 25 ounces).  *Passata is a tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup red wine (optional)
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • Dried herbs e.g Italian herb mix (there are many available), paprika, dried oregano
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation:

1.  Chop the onions and garlic (if using a Thermomix throw onion and garlic in and blitz for 3 seconds speed 5).

2. Finely chop the vegetables, or place the vegetables in a food processor and blitz until chopped to your liking.  (if using a Thermomix throw veggies in and chop for 5-8 seconds speed 5-6 depending on how finely you like them chopped.

How to pull it together:

Heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot.  When oil is hot add the onions and garlic and a generous sprinkle of sea salt, turn down the heat and saute for about 5 minutes stirring frequently.   When onion is well cooked, add the meat and cook until browned.  When meat is cooked, add the vegetables and 1/2 cup of red wine (if using), 1/2 cup red wine vinegar and 1/2 cup tomato paste.  Stir through until well combined.

Add both bottles of passata.  Fill the empty bottles with water and add both bottles of water at the same time (it will seem like a lot of sauce but will reduce during the cooking time).  Add a generous amount of herbs (italian herb mix, paprika, dried oregano) and 2-3 bay leaves).  Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour covered.  Stir from time to time adding salt to taste if required.

You can serve with pasta or zucchini noodles topped with fresh parmesan.

How to prepare your Zucchini Noodles

What you will need:

  • 3 zucchinis/courgettes per person
  • Sea salt
  • Olive oil
  • a vegetable spiraliser

Create the zucchini noodles using a vegetable spiraliser.  Place noodles in a colander, sprinkle liberally with good quality sea salt and drizzle with a splash of olive oil.  Toss and let sit for about 30 minutes.  You will find a lot of liquid leaves the noodles which means that they can shrink quite a bit.  

I have tried many spiralisers to make vegetable ‘noodles’ and the GEFU Spiral Slicer Spiral Fix is by far the easiest and most effective I’ve used.

If you like the idea of Zucchini noodles and want more inspiration I have used Zucchini noodles previously with the delicious Dina’s Tomato Sauce here and my Salmon with Pesto Zucchini Noodles here.

Caper, Avocado and Tomato Salsa (serves 2)

Combine in a small bowl 1 tablespoon salted baby capers (well rinsed), 1/2 avocado diced, 1/4 cucumber diced, 1/2 tomato diced.  Toss with juice of 1 lime, sea salt and pepper.

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