Making Pizzas with Hidden Vegetables

Monkey is a fussy eater. He wasn’t until he was about  13 months old then almost overnight everything changed. I’ve talked at length about it before and we have ups and downs with how fussy he is. We have been going through a very fussy patch lately. As he has been so poorly over the recent weeks he really hasn’t had as much of an appetite so we have been happy when he has eaten anything really. I am planning a seperate post about this but it is so difficult to be strict with them when they are poorly, especially with food as he needed to keep his strength up and things can taste really funny when you are poorly.

I’ve been watching “Junk Food Children who’s to blame?” on TV too recently, and well I think it is pretty obvious the documentary makers are laying the blame squarely on the parents. I think they are probably right, as they are the ones who buy the food for their children, but I can also see how it is a slippery slope and none of these parents do it with intentions of harming their children. Far from it, they are probably too soft on them and that isn’t always good for them.

Anyway it has made me think a lot about Monkey. He has a pretty good diet anyway, hardly ever has crisps, chocolate etc, BUT we could do better. He doesn’t really eat any fresh fruits (we get him eating dried, cooked, frozen pureed but no joy with fresh really) and we struggle with lots of vegetables too, and most things actually. Pasta, sausages, chicken, pretty much everything depends on his mood. Most dinner times are spent with Mummy and Daddy pretending to be the voice of a toy (postman pat, a bus, an owl, any toy really) as he is much more likely to eat something when a toy suggests it! Not ideal but we go with what works.

One great way to get kids interested in food is to get them to help with preparing and cooking food. Monkey does love cooking but after catching himself with the peeler a few months ago he has been more reluctant to get in the kitchen. He has expressed more of an interest though lately, and with poorliness and chicken pox meaning we have spent a lot of time at home, rather than out and about, I have grabbed the opportunity to get him back in the kitchen. We do a lot of baking, which is great, but there is no reason cooking can’t be fun too.

We love Annabel Karmel’s recipes, her veggie burgers are a firm fave and we make them regularly in big batches so there is always some in the freezer. Another regular is her hidden veggie pizza sauce, which again we make in big batches and freeze. I know not everyone is into hidden veggies and I would prefer Monkey ate vegetables without having to hide them, but while we work on that I don’t think there is anything wrong with getting them into him any way that we can.

Hidden Veggie Pizza Sauce


WP_20150304_09_28_57_Pro1/2 onion – finely chopped
1/2 leek – thinly sliced

1 small carrot, peeled and grated

1/4 courgette, grated

1 clove crushed garlic

1 tbsp olive oil

1 400g tin chopped tomatoes

2 tbsp tomato puree

1 tbsp tomato pesto (we use sacla sundried tomato pesto)

2 tbsp tomato ketchup

1 1/2 tsp sugar

We tend to double this and make a big batch (because so many of the ingredients are halved etc.) which gives enough sauce for 20 pizzas, so this would do about 10 pizzas.

Monkey helped me prepare the veggies, washing them and grating which is good as at least he knows there are veggies. He even announces that he loves leeks and courgettes – without tasting them. I love his enthusiasm though even if I don’t believe him for a second!

Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the onion, leek, carrot and courgette and saute for 8-10 mins until soft but not coloured. Add the garlic for one minute than remove from the heat. We have hard anodised pans and a hand blender so I add the remaining ingredients in the pan and blend in there, but if you have non stick pans, or if you prefer, you should move the veg to a blender or bowl at this point.

Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.  Return to the pan and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool and then it can be frozen in batches. I usually spoon off a couple of ladles full into a tupperware which can then be got out to use with 2 pizza bases as and when. I would love to make our own pizza bases, but don’t have the time or energy at the mo – hopefully we will one day though!

Pizza toppings

The pizza sauce is great, but with the small amount of veg in there I doubt it would count as one of your 5 a day, and we really want to work on getting other veg into Monkey. Homemade pizzas are a great way of doing that, as cheese can help mask the veg, and you obviously get control of the ingredients. We use a half fat cheese, because it happens to be our fave and does help with our diets.

This is the fun bit that kids can really get involved with. We bought Monkey a child safe knife – which has a rounded tip and a fairly blunt serrated edge. It still cuts veg so you still have to be very careful around it, but the thought of Monkey cutting with it terrifies me a heck of a lot less than helping him use our big scary kitchen knives would! It means he can join in with the chopping safely and without giving me heart failure. (Yes he is wearing his PJs in these pics, I indulged him with a PJ day when he was poorly :))

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So he helped me chop up the mushrooms and yellow pepper and had great fun doing it. The amounts and size of the bits I guess depends on your kid and their fussiness level. We are going for not too much, and fairly small at the moment as if they are big he will either eat round them or refuse to eat them at all. Even some of these size bits have been a challenge to get him to eat! Monkey is seriously stubborn and often goes to bed without eating any tea when he doesn’t like what is on offer (or at least he has decided he doesn’t like it even when we know it is something he does actually like!).

So anyway, yes our chunks are quite small. We also use some flavoured turkey meat for the most part, though do use other meats too sometimes to shake things up a little :). Monkey helped spread the sauce onto the pizza bases and then sprinkle the meat, veg and of course cheese on top. Yummy pizzas made :). WP_20150304_11_35_57_Pro WP_20150304_11_37_51_Pro Now I won’t say it was plain sailing. We make variations of this quite often and it depends on his mood and like I say at the moment he really is quite fussy. He did eat some though and moaned more about the chunks of meat than the veg and with him it really is all about seeing something he doesn’t like. If a mushroom or pepper is hidden under cheese he eats it no problem. If he can see them he doesn’t want it. So it is a work in progress but for my part, I thought they were blimming lovely and it is a good way to get him involved with cooking and vegetables so got to look at the positives! Tasty Tuesdays on

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Monkey loves helping to cook at the moment. He loves putting his pinny and on and it is generally Daddy who he helps in the kitchen while I am looking after Little Miss. They have done all sorts, Monkey is learning to peel and chop vegetables and he is fascinated by “fire” (the hob) though he knows to stay well back from it, and the oven. He just wants to “have a look see!”

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Yummy Turkey Bolognese Recipe

This is one of our favourite family meals, as it is delicious and so simple. It started at life as one of Annabel Karmel’s recipes (as regular readers will know, I love her) which we have adapted to make enough for the whole family, and we use Turkey whereas she uses chicken in her version. It’s great to get a bit of hidden veggie goodness into picky eaters too


1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 Onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 Carrots, peeled and grated
1 large Garlic Clove, peeled and crushed
500g Turkey Mince (we use thigh mince)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
600ml Passata (sieved tomatoes)
300ml Pure Apple Juice
2 tbsp Tomato Puree
Lots of Worcester Sauce (I think about 3 tbsps but I don’t really measure it!)
1 tbsp Italian mixed herbs
2 tsps sugar

To Serve
Pasta. We use wholewheat as it goes nicely but normal pasta is lovely too. We tend to use weight watchers portion sizes so have about 50g of dried pasta per person, it’s not a lot though so make as much as you would normally use for your family. There is plenty of mince in the recipe, we tend to get 4 adult portions plus two kiddy portions from the bolognese, and they’re quite generous.

1 – Heat the oil in a fairly large saucepan and gently fry the onion and carrot over a low-medium heat, stirring often, for 3 minutes or until soft.

2 – Add the garlic and fry for another 30 seconds

3 – Add the turkey and fry, stirring frequently until cooked.

Boil and reduce the sauce

Boil and reduce the sauce

4 – Add the thyme, passata and apple juice, bring to the boil.

5 – Stir in the tomato puree, worcestershire sauce, sugar and italian mixed herbs.

6. Bring to the boil, reduce slightly but then leave to boil and reduce for 15 minutes (stirring occasionally).

7. Meanwhile cook the pasta according to packet instructions.

8. Taste test the sauce, adding more worcestershire sauce if needed.

Serve/ You can either mix the sauce and pasta together, or serve separate, whatever your preference.

Including the prep time I find it takes 40-45 mins to make but a big chunk of that time is just on the hob.

So simple and tasty, and being Turkey it is a really healthy, low calorie meal too, packed full of flavour. Why not give it a go?

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Annabel Karmel’s Amazing Veggie Burgers

I am a huge fan of Annabel Karmel’s recipes. I had no idea whatsoever what to do when it came to weaning Monkey so we got her book and it made it all seem so much easier. There are many of her recipes that we have now converted into family meals because she is really good at getting those veggies in and still having the food taste amazing.


I actually saw these burgers on her website when Monkey was at one of his fussiest times and decided to give them a go. They have become a regular in our house since then as they are seriously delicious and they get all of us to eat a lot of lovely vegetables. Initially Monkey loved to eat them in a Pitta Bread, then during the worst fussy stage he refused to eat them, but now he loves them and tends to open the Pitta bread and just pick out the burger – with all the vegetables and goodness in there that is fine by me! 🙂

The original recipe was for a smaller batch (halve all of the ingredients below if you’d prefer to make less) but we make a whole load of burgers, which we then freeze and reheat as and when as they are a bit of a faff to make – but so worth it!! It doesn’t feel as much of a faff now as I’ve got a bit more efficient at it!

We also made these for one of my best friends who is a notoriously fussy vegetarian (she doesn’t like many vegetables!?!) and both her and her veggie boyfriend loved them too so that is definitely a good endorsement for you.

100g Roasted Unsalted Cashew Nuts finely chopped  
(we whizz them in the food processor)
WP_20140208_13_34_03_Pro100g White Breadcrumbs ( or toast a few slices of white bread then whizz in the food processor)
4tsp Thyme (Fresh or Dried – I use dried)
100g Grated Cheddar Cheese
300g Sweet Potato (approx. 2 medium sweet potatoes) peeled and cubed.
2 Red Onions, finely chopped
2 Carrots, Peeled and Grated
2 Small Leeks, finely chopped (see below *)
200g Chestnut Mushrooms, finely chopped (we aren’t fans of mushrooms so we whizz them in the food processor, they go a bit mushy but it works well in the burgers!)
2 Cloves Garlic, Crushed
2 tsp Runny Honey
Oil for frying

The cashew nuts, whizzed

The cashew nuts, whizzed

The mushrooms, whizzed

The mushrooms, whizzed

*This may not be helpful at all, but we don’t like big bits of leek, so I have found that if you slice  along the length of 3/4 of the leek so it is in halves, then turn and slice again so it is in quarters (and again so it’s smaller if you can) while still attached at one end, it makes it easy to chop it into very small bits. (If that makes sense at all??? If not just ignore and chop how you like!)

PicMonkey Collage


Put  the breadcrumbs, cheese, thyme and nuts into a bowl


Boil some water in a pan, add the Sweet Potato and cook until soft. Drain and put to one side.

Heat a little oil in a large frying pan. Fry the Leek, Onion, Carrot and Mushrooms for 10 minutes or until soft.

Add the garlic and fry for 1 more minute

Tip the vegetables into a large bowl. Add the breadcrumb mixture, the Sweet Potato and the honey.

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Mash together and season to taste, I don’t find it needs much seasoning, if any.

Put some flour into a small bowl, shape the mixture into approximately 16 burgers and coat each burger in flour.

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(No my arms haven’t suddenly got hairy, hubby helped with this bit :))



It can help to rest the burgers on a pre-floured surface before cooking so they don’t stick!



Heat some more oil in the frying pan (we tend to use Rapeseed Oil or Extra Virgin Olive Oil but it’s up to you which you use) and fry on a medium-high heat for 2-3 mins on one side, until browned, then flip (they are still quite soft so it helps to use a spoon in one hand and spatula in the other, you have to be a bit gentle though!) and cook for a further 2-3 mins on the other side. Hubby likes them quite well cooked so ours end up quite a dark brown!

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Leave to cool on some kitchen towel to remove excess oil.


Serve! We often serve in toasted Wholemeal Pitta Bread, and I love them with a dash of chilli and tomato chutney, but Hubby and Monkey love them just as they are.



You can serve in bread rolls of course but because they are quite a soft texture we find the pitta breads work really well, and they help hold it together, we made bigger burgers for my friends and they were delicious but they all squished out of the sides of the roll when you bit into them!

To Freeze, I layer in parchment paper (to prevent them sticking together) and freeze in freezer bags. Then I just reheat them in the microwave. I’m not sure what the recommendations are but I just take them straight from the freezer and microwave for a minute or 2 (to make sure they are piping hot) leave them to cool a little bit for Monkey then serve.
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Spicy Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash Soup

I made this for the first time last week and was amazed how well it turned out – I have never made soup before so if I can do it anyone can! Monkey has been a fussy eater for months now but after a few tries he loves soup! Wahoo! So I need to learn to make some, great way of getting some more veg into him!

Hubby is 1/4 Malaysian (I know, he doesn’t look it) so we like quite a lot of spice in our house. I added a bit more spice than was in the original recipe I found and Hubby, Monkey and I all love it, which is great.

If you are unsure about how spicy you would like it, I recommend adding half the spices mentioned below, then have a quick taste after it’s blended and add the remaining if you feel you need to. It’s easier to add the spice than take it away!

I found it took about 40 -45 minutes including prep time.

The ingredients below is enough to make about 6 servings, though it is worth mentioning that I was making a double batch when I was taking the photos so they are to give you an idea but there is a lot more of everything than you will need to make the amount described!

WP_20140203_11_03_55_Pro25g Butter
1 Onion – Finely chopped
1 clove of Garlic, crushed
1 Butternut Squash, cubed to 2-3cm
1 Sweet Potato, cubed 2-3cm
1 tsp Paprika
2 tsp Mild Chilli Powder
2 tsp Ground Coriander
2 tsp Ground Cumin
Salt & Pepper
100ml Double Cream (I used Elmlea Double Light)
1 Litre Vegetable stock. (The first time I did it I used a couple of knorr stock pots and it tasted amazing, but I forgot to buy them the second time and only had a low salt vegetable stock – it tasted ok but nowhere near as much flavour being low salt.)




In a large saucepan melt the butter on a low heat

Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally. Add the crushed garlic to the pan.


Once the onion is soft, add all of the spices and a shake of salt and pepper and fry for a few minutes.


Add the Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato and stir to coat in the spice mix.

Pour in the stock and make sure everything is covered. Give it a good stir, making sure you get to the bottom of the pan.



Bring to the boil and simmer until the vegetables are soft.

WP_20140203_11_58_01_ProBlend to the desired texture (I use a hand blender in the pan because I either use a big Le Crueset pan or our saucepans which are hard anodised – I wouldn’t recommend doing this if your pans are non-stick, you could pour into a food processor instead).

Stir in the cream and serve.

Easy Peasy and so yummy – is delicious with some crusty bread.


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