Feb 27, 2014

Toddler Cooking. Zara By Pram.

I was at the top of my game when I wrote that post about toddler proofing the other day.

But sadly, things have gone awry since then. This is how our microwave looks now. The little gadget on the left is meant to be a door lock for ovens and fridges ($6.99, Dreambaby at ToysRUs). I say meant to be because just by looking at my photo, I bet you can guess that I stuck it on the wrong way. Really stuck it down good, I did too. I suppose it's working in a strange kind of way because all Toddler SSG does when he looks at the microwave now is lock and unlock the catch on this gizmo. So perhaps it wasn't even that toddler proof to begin with...

Oh and then there was the toilet bowl situation. Apparently there are lots of toddlers in the greater Chatswood area who like a good fish around in their household commodes because Westfield was all out of toilet bowl locks.

It's okay. I can take a hint. Perhaps I'm better off writing about safe topics like cooking for toddlers. One of my projects for this week has been to get a few meal options into the freezer for Toddler SSG for when I'm back into the chaos of work.


Long time readers will know that Toddler SSG is a huge fan of Cheesy Pops (aka Kraft's version of calcium rich crack cocaine for toddlers) but I've been trying to move away from the situation where he was eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. With a bit of perseverance from his carers and I, we've gotten there.

Breakfasts are toast, pikelets (off the shelf in the supermarket bakery aisle) or mini muffins (will link to a recipe later in this post) plus fruit. Lots of fruit. In fact, Toddler SSG hasn't yet met a fruit he doesn't like. He had two peaches and a nectarine yesterday as well as half a banana. One trick I have with him is to let him start meals with his fruit and then introduce 'the main' when he's halfway through the fruit. I keep both options in front of him and he usually goes between the two and does a good job of eating most of both.

Lunch is often a rice based meal with a blander version of what his Aunty and Uncle may be eating. Dinners are a variety of Asian and Western foods. We're trying to encourage him to eat a wide variety of foods and to not be too fussy.

Why mop your floor clean when dishwashing bubbles do almost as good a job?

My other big tip is a housekeeping one. Your grandmother was right - it is truly a virtue to have a floor so clean you can eat off it. Besides dropping all his cutlery over the floor, Toddler SSG has a thing for reconnecting with bits of his meal that he previously dropped from the table.


I drop old newspaper around his high chair and have a dedicated dustpan set for sweeping up food scraps. I also use those floor wipes you can mount on a 'mop' to make cleaning quicker. I found this set at Costco for $11.99.

Onto the cooking. I've recently discovered two great resources for toddler recipes - kidspot and a lovely blog called mamacook. Mamacook is a mum herself with a professional background in food science. I like how her recipes are healthy, easy and use everyday ingredients that you'd often have around for the rest of the household's meals. The first of her recipes I tried was Mama Cooks' Tomato Sauce for the slow cooker. I was curious about the addition of capsicums in her version.

Crushed tomatoes with added herbs .... a god send for the home chef who finds herself distracted by things like finding tiny toothmarks in the oranges in her fruit bowl. And a quiet, doe eyed toddler hovering behind said fruit bowl.

The sauce cooks down to a vibrant red (echoes of Opi's Big Apple Red, anyone? Note to self, must do toes again soon) and richly flavoured. It has a sweetness to it from the capsicum. And I didn't even have to roast the capsicums beforehand. They just got chopped, deveined and plonked into the bowl of my slowcooker.

The recipe makes a huge amount and is suitable to freeze. It also has a myriad of uses. I use a little to add some stick and colour to mini ravioli. It also makes a great pizza sauce. Other suggestions Mamacook has made include to use it watered down as soup and as the base for a pasta bake. I'm trying the pasta bake idea soon.

It's been prams, prams, prams wherever I go in Sydney these days. One of my favourite pram places at the moment is Birkenhead Point which isn't too far from home. It's very popular with local mums for a number of reasons - designated play areas dot the complex and it has some great outlets. I found fully leather Clarks toddler shoes for less than $30 a pair the other day. Cheaper than a pair of toddler Crocs! Speaking of which, I think I'm going to have to bit the bullet and get the real deal for Toddler SSG, my $5 specials seem to be a bit too stiff for his feet.

Another haunt of mine is the Corningware outlet which has a large range of Pyrex and Baker's Secret gear as well. There's a 30% off for two or more baking accessories deal on at the moment. So I stocked up on these 12 hole mini muffin trays which worked out to be less than $10 each.

Cheese makes everything better.

Knowing Toddler SSG's passion for cheese and bacon, I whipped up a batch of savoury mini muffins using a remix of a few recipes I found online.

I fried the bacon and onion before adding them to the batter.

Stealth vegetables. Every parent's sneaky but effective little trick.

Mini muffins freeze so well and a snap to reheat in the microwave. They're also perfect for satisfying that odd toddler need to have both their hands full of food when eating. And that other need to be walking around the garden when they're eating too.

Buoyed by the savoury mini muffins' success, I also made these Apple, Carrot and Sultana mini muffins. This is a recipe that contains rolled oats but these didn't cause any dramas in this household.

Another happy snap of my clean as a table top kitchen floor. At what age does this 24/7 drawer emptying end? Anyone?

I've finally gotten around to introducing more egg into Toddler SSG's diet. He's been fine with the egg I've used in baking so the next step was these Toddler Mini Quiche With Hidden Vegetables using a kidspot recipe.

Again, here are more of my bargain buys from Birkenhead Point.

I'm really pleased with the quality of my Baker's Secret tins and pastry cutters. All they need is a light spray of olive oil for greasing and they come clean after every baking project.

More of that cheesy goodness....

I used Pampas butter puff pastry to make these quiche. Butter, cheese - it's all dairy, isn't it? Introducing cows milk as a drink is still a huge challenge for us. I'm sneaking it in with the recipes I've been making this week but still can't get the toddler to actually drink any. Any good ideas that may have worked for you?

And more of that stealth vegetable goodness - mashed carrot and potato this time.
I made just under two dozen mini quiches and again, they freeze really well. Just reheat in the oven from frozen for 10 minutes or so.

The backyard picnic. What's not to like? Toddler SSG has embraced this staycation ritual of ours. While he has his post walk to the shops or drive to Camp Chatswood for coffee nap (oh, the SAHM life) I set up the picnic mat and get lunch ready.

When nap time's done, it's out to the backyard for a lunch that feeds everyone - Toddler SSG, the plants, the ants, that dustpan set that always sits with us....

Preparing sushi in the basement level at Westfield, as seen from the travelator.

Speaking of the SAHM life, we were at Chatswood yesterday. So early that we got to see the food hall wake up and do its hair and makeup for the day.

We were so near yet so far from Zara. I was getting a coffee and drinking it whilst Toddler SSG was doing a few circuits outside Bing Lee. I picked that level because it was pretty quiet that early in the morning. It's a bit tough for walking toddlers and people who aren't their parents in the busier sections of the shopping centre. They're always at cross purposes and things can end badly pretty quickly.

But where there's a will, there's a way. We prammed it over to Zara after my coffee, where most of the prams at Westfield seemed to be, actually and explored both levels. The in store lift was loved by both of us. I do like the layout of the Chatswood store. It's spacious and airy. Much like the South East Asian stores. Only thing is, I wish there were more mirrors around the store. I think most of the other mums there were probably with me on this too. There's this way of buying clothes when you're out with a pram and it doesn't involve change rooms. You basically place the hangered item against the back and front of the person for whom the clothing item is being purchased. Works fine without a mirror if it's for your toddler but yeah, you do need a mirror if it's for you.

Take care and have a lovely day. Might do a post next about what's been passing for exercise this week. Any takers?


  1. Wow that's great to hear Toddler SSG is such a fuss-free eater. I'm all for fruit vs lollies or even packaged sweet biscuits.

    Your instagram inspired me to make some savoury muffins but I haven't gotten around to it. Don't know what I'm doing with all my unemployed time haha.

  2. Your little boy is such a good eater, certainly does make life a little easier. Reading about you 'child proofing' your house brought back memories for me. xT

  3. The photo of your microwave had me in absolute stitches! Thanks for the laughs.

    Mine was probably one of the prams you saw at Zara yesterday. What they lack in mirrors they make up for in spacious change rooms with heavy curtains (no narrow door frames to worry about accidentally knocking with your already compact Bugaboo Bee and waking up the baby before you're done with your window shopping spree and no awkward manoeuvring of pram to be able to close the door ). They are so roomy that you can park your pram in and still do half a cartwheel.

    1. You have no idea how smart I felt about that microwave lock until I tested it out...

      Thanks for the info about the dressing rooms at Zara. I took one look at the short line and gave up.

      SSG xxx

  4. Oh nice! I got the same muffin tins from Peter's of Kensington the other day and had the massive urge to bake some red velvet cupcakes.

    Those quiches look amazing. I never thought to use those pans for it! Must get some puff pastry on the way home tonight. How adorable is your little backyard picnic. So cute!


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