Tag Archives: make every bite count

Roast Lamb and Sweet Potatoes – for Baby to adult

28 May

Never in my entire 29 years have I cooked lamb. Or adult sheep. Do people cook adult sheep? Anyway, I’ve never cooked anything remotely resembling sheep.

Until this week. I was road testing the Roast Lamb and Sweet Potato recipe for The Main Meal‘s How to Make Every Bite Count brochure/e-brochure. Ok, fine, it’s actually called Lamb and Veggy (did they spell that wrong? Pretty sure it’s veggie. My spell check thinks so too….) Roast with Potato Wedges, but I didn’t use potatoes, so I kinda had to change it. Since both Hannah and Daniel don’t tend to like potato unless it’s long, fried, and salted, I decided to use sweet potato instead. Besides, sweet potato is rich in dietary fibre, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and it has a low GI. Plus, it tastes way better than normal potatoes. In my opinion….

I had to buy a mini lamb roast, which sent me around the supermarket like a chicken with my head cut off. What the heck does a mini lamb roast look like? I had to read every label on every meat until I found what I was looking for. But eventually I did. They are a bit expensive compared to the usual roast I make – chicken.

I browned the lamb in a pan, as required. If I wasn’t road testing the recipe, I would have been lazy and just shoved it in the oven. I don’t like to use more pans then needed. And why do I need to brown it before cooking it in the oven?  I looked it up on the Main Meal, and found a page called “how and why we brown meat.”  It certainly had the how, but I couldn’t find the why. Sigh. I tried googling it, checked a few other web pages that came up, and still couldn’t find out why you actually brown the lamb before roasting it. Anyone know? Now I’m curious….

After browning, I added the lamb to the already roasting sweet potatoes and carrots and set the timer for 25 minutes. Carrots? Yeah, I added some chunky carrot pieces too. Have you ever tried roasted carrot? DE-licious!!!!

When the buzzer rang, I took it out, rested it as required, made some gravy while it rested, then cut it up. Gravy? Yeah, remember the last recipe I tried?  It was a bit flavourless, so this time I sought advice from Aaron (as he was the one who was actually going to eat it).

“Should I make some gravy?” I asked him. “Does gravy go with roast lamb?”

He said yes, so I made some gravy.

I cut some pieces of lamb off the roast, put them on Aaron’s plate with the veggies, poured on the gravy and served it up. Next I started cutting some more bits off to adapt to toddler and finger food for the kids.

“Are you sure this is cooked enough?” Aaron called from the table.

“Um…I don’t know, I followed the recipe. I cooked it for the longest it said to cook it for.”

Further into the lamb, it was even less cooked. I don’t know if the recipe doesn’t have it cooking for long enough, or if it’s just that our oven is crap. Because it is crap. There is an element at the bottom of the oven, and that is it. No fan, no element on top. What kind of ridiculous oven is that? Everything burns on the bottom, and is raw on top. It’s all uneven too, one side will be burnt, the other half-cooked. Needless to say, I do a lot of turning, flipping, and rotating when I cook.

Regardless of the reason the lamb was undercooked, it was. Probably. I’m not sure. How do you know when lamb is done? I think it would have been great if the recipe included a little blurb about how to tell when the lamb is cooked. I always see chicken recipes saying something about the juices running clear and all that stuff. So what about lamb? What do I look for with lamb? I just googled it and another page from The Main Meal came up near the top of the google search. Hmm… I probably should have looked into that before cooking the lamb. But I didn’t think of it because the recipe had a time on it, and the thought just never crossed my mind.

There is apparently a “touch test,” or you can use a thermometer. The page also has a chart of cooking times. It states 20-25 minutes for a rare roast. Hmmmm… I’m not sure why the recipe would want rare meat when it is intended for babies and toddlers. Can babies and toddlers eat rare meat? (A bit of internet searching just now came back with no, they shouldn’t.)

We weren’t sure, so I put the lamb back in the oven and quickly threw together something else for them to eat, with the plan to give them the lamb the next night.

I gave them some of the sweet potatoes and carrots though, and Daniel loved them. And I mean loved. He gobbled up his serve in about a minute flat.

Meanwhile, the lamb was roasting in the oven. I didn’t leave it in that long, but I did forget to set the buzzer in my haste to find something else for the whingey, hungry kids to eat for dinner.

Crap. It pretty much looked like an old beaten shoe when I took it back out of the oven. Sigh. There would be no eating that. 

“Well, you got to try it Boo, how did it taste?” I asked Aaron. Yeah, I call him Boo. As if you don’t have a silly name you call your spouse.

“Yeah, it was pretty good. Definitely needed that gravy, or some sort of sauce of seasoning or something though. And I think you sliced it too thick.”

Whatever, I’ve never sliced lamb before.

The recipe is a good starting point, but it needs to state other cooking times for if you want it medium or well done. It would be awesome if the recipe including how to know if lamb was done. And it would be super awesome if it also included a seasoning or sauce option as well. Just because a recipe is meant for baby and toddler consumption, doesn’t mean it can’t have seasoning, and lots of flavour. After the initial first foods, that are really bland, store bought baby food tends to incorporate some sort of seasoning in it. Lots of them have basil, parsley, etc. I’m sure there are babies and toddlers out there who don’t like a lot of flavour to their food, but there are also lots that do like it. That’s why it would be great to add a little section for seasoning/sauces.

I might actually try cooking this again. Aaron likes lamb. Hannah has never tried it, and I’d really like to see if she’d eat it. Daniel likes it. At least from his baby food jars. I will, however, look up what seasoning works well with lamb, and whack some on before cooking it. And no, I won’t be trying it. I don’t like red meat, remember?

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Beef Casserole and Dumplings: for baby to adult

16 May

This is the second instalment of  how to make every bite count , in which I review a few recipes for The Main Meal, and of course, attempt to get Hannah to eat meat, and teach Daniel to like, well, everything. As I said in the last post, Hannah pretty much eats like I ate when I was little, and that pretty much drives me nuts. Sigh. At least I eat better now. Apart from the red meat. I still don’t like that. Ick. Except kangaroo. Yeah, I don’t mind a bit of the Aussie icon. All of my fellow Americans are probably cringing at that about now.  All the Aussies are probably muttering something like “good on ya mate.”

This week, I cooked Beef casserole and Dumplings. And by cooked, I mean cut up some stuff and threw it in the slow cooker. How I love the slower cooker. Especially since I have kids. I like that I can throw some stuff in there in the morning when the kids are fresh and will entertain themselves, instead of trying to cook something at 6pm when they are tired and whingey and trying to hang off my legs and poke out each other’s eyes.

As you can see, I opted to go with the ‘to cook in a slow cooker’ method. I was going to use sweet potatoes instead of potatoes since neither of my kids like potatoes, but Coles was out of them.  At 2pm on a Sunday. Random. So I stuck with the recipe and got normal white potatoes.

I wouldn’t say that the prep time is actually 15 minutes. Maybe I’m just a slow chopper, but by the time you add up all the meat and veg chopping and peeling,  plus the zucchini grating and squeezing (which, mind you, is a very messy job) and dumpling making, it was more like 30 minutes of prep time. Luckily it was in the morning, and the kids were cooperative.

Last week, Daniel was in the lumpy/mushy category. Oh wait, I did the last recipe review the week before last. Then we were at Tresillian and I didn’t get one out that week. Sigh. Anyway, last time he was lumpy/mushy. Now, he’s all into the finger foods. I took him and Hannah to the shopping centre the other day at dinner time and bought Hannah a McNugget happy meal (yeah, she’ll sometimes eat chicken if it’s in the form of a nugget. Just like her mommy…). Daniel ate half of her nuggets! He loved them. Just FYI, I don’t always feed my children greasy food. For lunch that day, he had mild green chicken curry with a side of peas, corn and carrots. So there.

This recipe suggests putting the finger food portion into a nice little ramekin/bowl.

HA! Maybe all children aren’t as wild as mine, but if I did that, the ramekin would end up broken on the floor, and the food would be either a) all over me, b) all over Daniel, c) all over the floor with the dish, d) all over the walls, or e) all of the above. No dishes are ever used with my cheeky little monkey, so I just plopped it all on his high chair tray for him to finger.

This is how he eats his food….

He grabbed a carrot and clumsily put it in his mouth. And then spit it straight back out. Sigh. I put a little piece of beef on a spoon and gave that to him. And that went straight back out too. He started making annoyed noises and vigorously rubbing his hands back and forth on his tray, flinging food off it as he did. Daniel didn’t like it. At all. Sigh.

For toddlers, the recipe suggests the little bowl again.

Hannah is fine with little bowls, but prefers one of those melamine plates with the different sections. Since they had steamed vegetables at lunch, I gave them a side of kiwi instead. And cheese. I know Hannah likes cheese. At least there was something on her plate that I knew she would eat.

She took one look at that plate and declared she didn’t want it. She wouldn’t even sit down. She came over and stole the cheese but refused to try anything else for 10 minutes. I finally got her to try a tiny bit of carrot in exchange for giving her something else to eat if she didn’t like it. After all, I just wanted her to try it! She put it in her mouth. And then spit it out onto the floor. Sigh.

When Aaron got home from work, I dished him up a big bowl of the casserole. He likes beef. He was thrilled to be having beef again. I never make him beef. Except for the last time I reviewed one of these recipes. He took a bite.

“Um…I think I want something else for dinner.” he told me. Sigh.

“What’s wrong with it?” I asked.

“It has no flavour.”

This one was a complete miss. Sigh.

If you do want to make it (maybe add a bit of something for flavour…), here are the instructions to make it into smooth puree, and lumpy/mushy:

You can find all of the Make Every Bite Count baby to adult recipes in the e-brochure here.

If you enjoyed reading this, please vote for my blog. All you have to do is click the link below. That’s it… And if you are an email subscriber, clicks from your email don’t count.  If you would like to vote, please go to my blog and vote from there. THANKS!
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Copyright 2012 Sheri Thomson

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