Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Rice bake: a recipe for National Vegetarian Week

As this week is National Vegetarian Week, I am sharing a vegetarian recipe some of you might like to try; rice bake. It's a family favourite in our household, it's relatively quick to make and it's a great recipe for adapting to whatever vegetables you happen to have around. 

In a nutshell, you cook some rice, some veg and combine with a sauce. Top with cheese and breadcrumbs and bake in the oven. The veg can be of one type only (even frozen peas!) or a mix of whatever you have to hand. 

The sauce can be whatever you like too, I usually make a bechamel sauce and tweak it in some way (make it cheesy / add some tomato/pesto/mustard) but you could use any kind of homemade or ready made sauce, as you would for pasta for example. A tin of soup could even be used, something like a cream of mushroom soup would work well.
Most recently I made a rice bake with mushrooms, courgette, green pepper and asparagus with a cheese sauce. My children seem to like and eat courgette if it's grated (not when it's diced or sliced) so I grated it for the bake. They don't like asparagus so I made two separate bakes, one with asparagus for my husband and I, the other without for the children. Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of the completed rice bake - we were in too much of a hurry to tuck in!
Rice and veg cooked, ready for sauce and topping to be added
You will notice that I have not specified quantities in the recipe below. Simply cook the amount you think your family will eat and enjoy - there's no risk of the recipe not turning out, I promise!

Rice bake 

  • Rice
  • One or more vegetables, finely diced/sliced/grated
  • Fresh breadcrumbs
  • Cheddar cheese, grated
  • Sauce (see note above)

  • Preheat oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6
  • Cook rice. 
  • Gently cook your vegetables if applicable (ie. steam/boil asparagus, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli etc, lightly fry courgette, pepper, aubergine, mushrooms etc).
  • Make your sauce unless you are using a pre-prepared sauce  / tin of soup.
  • Combine rice, vegetables and sauce in an ovenproof dish.
  • Top with breadcrumbs and cheese.
  • Bake for 15-20 mins until bubbling and golden on top.

Do you have a family favourite vegetarian recipe in your household?

I'm linking up with this week's #recipeoftheweek

Link up your recipe of the week

Friday, 9 May 2014

Baby makes three!

My baby girl is six weeks old already, how the time has flown! These first few weeks as a family of five have been busy, enjoyable and exhausting. Between family and friends helping out I have felt very well supported and my time managing all three children alone (while husband is at work) has been very limited so far. Lucky me!

Now for a few random musings on these first early weeks with three children:

The sleepless nights have not been so hard to deal with this time. Obviously I've felt very tired some days and wondered how I'll make it through the day on occasions but overall it's not been as horrendous as with the other two. Perhaps realistic expectations better prepared me this time!

The mornings are not a big rush as I'd imagined. One thing I was particularly dreading was getting myself and three children ready and out on time to get my son to school. Turns out when you're up around 5am with the baby, there's plenty of time! I've even managed a shower some days!

I was right about the worst time of the day! The dinner time, bed time witching hour is difficult, as I knew it would be. On the days I've had to put all three to bed by myself it has mostly been a struggle. I console myself with the reminder that it will only get easier. Right?!

It's not easy on the siblings. My 5-year old son who has dealt with a new baby sister once before has seemed pretty ok with the new addition. He was initially very excited, now he mostly ignores her and gets on with whatever he's doing. That's fine by me :-). My 2 1/2 year old daughter though has understandably been more affected. She's very loving towards the baby most of the time, very helpful with nappy changes etc but she herself has become clingy towards me and a bit more withdrawn around other people, which she wasn't at all before. It makes me a bit sad but all I can do is give her lots of love and be patient through this period of adjustment. 

I feel stretched! I felt stretched with two children, always wishing I could find or make more one-on-one time with each child. Now there's an extra child, one who currently demands a lot of me and spending quality time with the older two is tricky. I am doing what I can, trying to do something fun with my two-year old while the baby is napping, spending time with my eldest before he goes to bed when his sisters are already in bed (or sometimes whilst simultaneously rocking the baby to sleep in my arms!).

I feel very fortunate. I look at my three children and am filled with love for them all. The baby is a wonderful addition to our family and I'm so proud of my older two children and how for the most part, they are kind, loving, fun, well-behaved little people. I look at my husband and remember back when we didn't have any children and talked about both wanting three one day and here we are all of a sudden with all three!

For those of you with two or more children, what do you remember from the early weeks juggling everything? Can you relate to any of the above? What do you still find most difficult or most fun at whatever stage you are at now?
photo credit