Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Recipes: Lentil Bolognese

I am not sure why I have had so much trouble finding a good lentil bolognese recipe.  In the past I think the recipes I have tried have always turned out either too watery or not seasoned properly or just bleurgh.  The thing is, lentil bolognese is a CHEAP way to get loads of good STUFF since red lentils are jam packed with fibre, iron, vitamin b and protein so I would like to actually ENJOY eating it.  

I plan vegetarian dishes for about half of our dishes and something like lentil bolognese, where I can make a pretty decent sized pot for not too much money, is a great way to bulk out my Meal Plan.  I came across THIS RECIPE on the Tesco Real Food site and thought I would try it out...with a few tweaks. 

It was REALLY GOOD, it tasted like Bolognese, it had the consistency and texture of Bolognese, it stuck to and coated the pasta, I will make it again.  

Of course, it is my tweaks that have made it the way it is (yeah...right) so here's what I did: 


1 tin of chopped tomatoes 
1 small onion, finely chopped 
1 clove garlic, finely chopped, 
150g red lentils, rinsed 
320g jar of Dolmio Bolognese Pasta Sauce (or your favourite brand BUT it needs to be a thick sauce)
1 tsp bouillon powder (we like Marigold Swiss Bouillon) 
good handful of grated parmesan cheese


gently fry onion and garlic in a little bit of oil until soft, add lentils and coat in the oil.  
sprinkle in bouillon powder and then add in chopped tomatoes and pasta sauce. 
bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender and falling apart, about 30-40 mins, stirring every 10 mins. 
add a splash of water if it looks dry. 
when the lentils are cooked add in the cheese and good pinch of black pepper and stir to melt the cheese into the sauce. 

serve with your favourite pasta shape. 

this sauce freezes well and also keeps in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple of days. 

Monday, 13 October 2014

Eating Out in Edinburgh: Peter's Yard Cafe Quartermile

It is no secret that I am obsessed with everything Scandinavian. I don't know exactly what it is that attracts me to the culture, nature, style, dramas, food...but there is something so beautiful about it all. When David and I visited Edinburgh the summer after our wedding I was determined to visit Peter's Yard, a Swedish Bakery, right smack in the middle of the city's Quartermile development on the edge of the Meadows Park not far from the Royal Mile. 

That first visit was during the festival and the cafe was jam packed so we sat outside and enjoyed a slice of pizza and a coffee.  I remember it was good, but I remember how windy it was more. 

When we moved to Edinburgh and lived in Stockbridge I watched with anticipation for the 2nd (and smaller) location to open and enjoyed a relaxing flat white and cardamom bun during the first week of  trading. Shortly after that we moved to the south side of the city (so much closer to the Quartermile) and now that we have Lyra it is easy to find reasons to "just grab a coffee and bun" before hitting the swings in the park.  

You really can't go wrong at Peter's Yard with pastries, bread baskets with cheese and jam, soups, open sandwiches, salads and pizzas to choose from.  The coffee and tea are also excellent, as are the cold drinks.  

Late last week I treated Lyra and myself to a coffee and a pistachio cardamom bun (yeah I know).  We sat in the sun in the outside seating area and enjoyed the last of the summer weather.  I ate my portion of the bun too quickly to really savour it, Lyra gobbled her's up and was moaning and groaning and pointing at what was left of my plate and I just didn't want to share any more so down the hatch it went.  I can tell you that it was gloriously cardamomy and the pistachio was a nice addition to their basic cardamom bun.  I could have done with more pistachio but none the less it was deeeeeelicious.  

They also do ice cream...

Peter's Yard Cafe 
27 Simpson Loan 
EH3 9GG 

3 Deanhaugh Street 


Sunday, 12 October 2014

Day Out: Gorgie City Farm

Tucked off Gorgie Road just south west of the city centre is Gorgie City Farm.  We recently visited for the first time and I have been kicking myself for not going sooner. The farm, itself, is small enough to keep young children entertained for an hour or so.  There are chickens, goats, cows,pigs and sheep as well as guinea pigs, rats, bunnies and lizards.  In addition to the animals there is a small play park (with the tallest slide Lyra has ever seen) and a lovely cafe.  

Entry is FREE and donations are happily accepted.  

Gorgie City Farm 
51 Gorgie Rd 
EH11 2LA


Friday, 10 October 2014

Meal Planning: Tips

I love meal planning.  I know it is silly, and totally geeky to be obsessed with planning meals and budgeting, but I actually really enjoy it.

Here are some of my top tips, and the loose "plan" I follow when sitting down to write my shopping list.

Have a Budget and stick to it (duh...sometimes seriously hard to do)
Plan meals that use the same ingredients to limit waste and save money buying in bulk
Coupon, if you can, although hitting every shop just to get bargains does take time and energy and uses petrol if you are taking the car
Limit Meat, we spend about £10 or £15 on meat/fish for 2 weeks and I end up making 6 or 7 meat dishes over that time
Embrace vegetarian cooking
Have a repertoire of "store-cupboard" dishes that cost next to nothing to make (lentil curry, pasta bakes)
Shop with a calculator (add up your purchase as you go, and make decisions based on that)
Shop on-line if you can (this seriously helped me keep track of how much I was spending)
Sign up to Pinterest and get inspired
Try out 1 or 2 new dishes a week/fortnight to keep cooking from becoming a chore and making meal planning more interesting
Use your freezer (if you've got a big enough one) to benefit from multi-buy options or split large packs of meat/fish into meal portions


I only MEAL PLAN dinners and top up my grocery list with lunch/breakfast staples like bread, cereal, eggs, tuna, salads, hummus.

First I look at the calendar and figure out how many DINNERS I need to plan for over a 2 week period.

Then I sit down and decide what MEAT/FISH meals I am going to make...that can be anywhere from 5-7 dishes.  I tend to buy ground beef, salmon and chicken breast every time and then sometimes some sausages.

After that I add in all the veggie meals.

As I go I write down all the ingredients I need for each meal and then after the list is complete check out what I already have in the cupboards and then take those things off the list.

And at the same time checking to see what staples might be running low like  oil, vinegar, mayonnaise etc.

I have a pretty standard list of extras that I add next: milk, bread, fruit, salad stuff, eggs, juice, treats for Dad's lunch, yogurt, cheese, crackers, rice cakes, and any staples we need.

I then can sit down and order my groceries on-line choosing when I'd like to have them delivered.  If we had a car I'd go out and actually do the shopping though.

When the groceries arrive I figure out when we will have which meals based on use-by dates and who is doing what when.  For example David plays football on a Wednesday night so I usually make soup or something that can be heated up easily and we ALWAYS have Pizza and Salad on Friday.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Toddler Snacks: In a Galaxy Far Far Away

Oat cake moon
Pancake stars
Bananas smeared with peanutbutter and topped with raisins meteors 

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Eating Out in Edinburgh: Burger

I love burgers. I know they are, like, super trendy right now and everything, but I have always and will always love going out for a burger.  

A couple of months ago we finally managed to visit BURGER  on Fountainbridge for lunch.  It was a pleasant accident that forced us into Burger that day (festival cues at neighbouring Loudons and the rain)...and I could not have been happier with the experience.  On that trip it was a simple burger and fries for me...so so so delicious. All through the meal we kept on saying to each other "this is so good" and "next time I'm going to try...". 

Next Time came a few weeks ago.  

I was already to try a hot dog (yeah, they do hot dogs too) but then I spied the SPECIALS board, which changes weekly, and saw they had POUTINE! Poutine? You say...YES! POUTINE! As a Canadian it fills my heart with joy any time I have the chance to douse my fries in gravy and cheese curds.  It isn't quite the same with grated cheddar and gravy...it is the curds that elevates it.  In Canada you get all kinds of GOURMET poutines now (I had a particularly awesome breakfast poutine last summer with corned beef, spring onions, cheese curds, gravy and a fried egg) but the site of it here in the UK is so...rare...I couldn't resist. 

It didn't disappoint.  

There is a children's menu, but I tend to bring Lyra a small lunch whenever we go out and then offer her bits and pieces of my meal (although she didn't get any poutine...her dad kindly shared his burger and bun).  Oh and nifty high chairs too (swoon-worthy Baby Bjorn)!


94a Fountainbridge 
EH3 9QA 

91/93 Shandwick Place 
EH2 4SD 


Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Toddler Snacks: Mini Spinach Muffins and Cheese Shapes

Small shape cookie cutters

cheese slice (like Kraft or DairyLea) acorns and flowers 

Monday, 6 October 2014

Toddler Snacks: Spinach Muffins

Like most parents, I am always on the look out for new ways to incorporate veggies into Lyra's diet. For the most part she is pretty good about eating whatever I put in front of her...but OF COURSE I worry that she isn't getting enough of those important vitamins and minerals we all know we are supposed to be getting by the bushel full.  

I found this awesome recipe for Spinach Muffins while searching Pinterest for Toddler snack ideas.  They are basically banana muffins with a good hit of spinach.  They don't actually taste like spinach, so it is no surprise that Lyra has been gobbling them up.

I substituted 1cup of frozen, thawed spinach (that I had squeezed all the water out of) for the fresh spinach, and chopped it finely instead of wizzing everything in a blender since I don't have one and Lyra is terrified of the hand held one. 

The recipe made 12 mini muffins and 6 Mummy sized ones.  We put a few aside to devour within the next couple days and froze the rest.  

Give them a go...you really can't go wrong! 

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Meal Planning: Basic Toddler Ideas

Lyra has been eating table food since she was about 6 months so, for the most part, she eats a smaller (sometimes slightly altered) version of what we are eating.  I don't really meal plan for breakfast and lunch, I just make sure I have enough stuff in the fridge and cupboards to be able to throw together something.

At 14 months with only 3.5 teeth she still hasn't mastered crunchy fruits (apple, pears) and raw veggies, but as she does I'll add more ideas to this list.

Here are some ideas:

***I'll add links to favourite recipes soon***


Eggs (scrambled, omelette, hard boiled)
Oatmeal (made with milk or water)
Cereal soaked in milk (Weetabix or Corn Flakes are our favourites)
French Toast
English Muffins, Toast, Crumpets (with butter and jam, or peanut butter)
Brioche Buns

***all served with 2 pieces of fruit***


Left Overs from night before
Sandwiches (peanut butter and jam, cheese, hummus with grated apple or carrot, cream cheese and thinly sliced cucumber, tuna salad, chicken salad, egg salad)
Eggs (scrambled, omelette, hard boiled)
Pita or Wraps with hummus/red pepper spread
Grilled Cheese
Beans on Toast
Mac n Cheese

***all served with cubes of cheese and 1-2 pieces of fruit***


Mini Muffins (sweet or savoury) TRY THIS BANANA MUFFIN RECIPE and add in berries. THIS SPINACH MUFFIN recipe is great too and we THESE CARROT "CUPCAKES" as a treat!
Lentil or Sausage Sausage Rolls I MAKE THESE LENTIL ROLLS (minus the mint and lemon)
Pin Wheels
Pancakes (plain, fruit, cheese, carrot, spinach, cinnamon) THE JOY OF BAKING ONES FREEZE REALLY WELL SO MAKE A BUNCH AND JUST DEFROST AS NEEDED
Loaf Cake (banana, courgette, sweet potato, lemon blueberry)
Oatmeal Cookies
Carrot Cookies
Cheese and Oat Cakes (cheese and crackers)
Peanut Butter and Banana on Toast


Whatever the adults are having AND a serving of plain greek yogurt

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Eating Out in Edinburgh: Bon Papillon

One of our hands down favourite places in Edinburgh for a decaf latte and slice of cake (or scone or bacon roll) is Bon Papillon on Howe Street. Run by Ingrid (the artist) and Stuart (the Sconemeister/framer extraordinaire) this gallery cafe is our go to place for a wee break when we are in the city centre.  Snuggled in surrounded by an ever changing array of paintings you can enjoy both sweet and savoury treats and good, GOOD, coffee (and tea, and hot chocolate, and cold drinks).  

Try out the scones (rated amongst the best in Edinburgh...if not THE BEST), have a goats cheese salad, enjoy a latte and relax.  

Bon Papillon 
15 Howe Street


(Closed Monday and Tuesday)...I know...how dare they!

Friday, 3 October 2014

Toddler Snacks: It's hip to be square

3 sizes of square cookie cutters. 

Big squares of bread with almond butter.
Medium squares of cheddar cheese. 
Small squares of banana. 

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Day Out: National Museum of Scotland

When we first moved to Edinburgh 3 and a half years ago the National Museum of Scotland was undergoing a major revamp.  I can't speak for what it was like before the renovations and new galleries (although I have heard that there used to be a fish pond in the vaults) but it is a great place to spend the day, or even an hour.

There are loads of interactive displays and hands-on learning areas throughout the whole of the museum.  For little little ones (0-2) the best place is the Imagine Gallery on the first floor. It is a great interactive space dedicated to world cultures.  There are instruments to play, costumes to try on and artefacts to handle.  The gallery opened in 2011 so some of it is showing signs of wear and tear already.  This is a shame but, positively, an indication of its popularity.  

On the 5th floor is another hands-on area with loads of fun stuff to get engaged with about the natural world, dinosaurs, rocks and minerals and life cycles.  This area is good for older children, but there really isn't much to hold the attention of a toddler, other than the Dino dig (which Lyra couldn't reach into). 

Both the cafe and the brasserie are nice and are very accommodating to those with small children in tow.  We often wander over for a play in the Imagine Gallery and then a treat in the cafe, especially on dreary, wet days. 

10 new galleries are due to open in 2016 and I hope that the museum continues to offer high quality hands-on learning experiences, including some geared towards younger children and toddlers.

National Museum of Scotland
Chamber Street


Open daily 10-5