Cheat-meal Alert – Valentine’s Pizzas & Reversible Auspicious Balls for CNY!

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day, everyone! This year, our little one can join us at the table for our meals and share our love for food together!

The simple plan was to create a CHEAT MEAL! The idea came about because I was feeling pizza-ish and figured they would make cute finger food too. No time to make and knead dough, so we kept some bread and made homemade tomato paste! Sounds complex? I assure you, it’s really simple. If a noob chef like moi can do it, it can’t be that difficult :P

Here we go!

Valentine’s Pizza with Homemade Tomato Paste
~ makes 4 pieces

Ingredients:

(A) Toppings

4 sliced bread (we used Bonjour Wholemeal slices), cut into desired shape with a pair of sharp scissors

1 White button mushroom, washed and chopped into desired size

1/4 green capsicum, washed and diced

1 tbsp minced beef, wash and set aside

Grated mozzarella cheese (we used Perfect Italiano)

(B) Homemade Tomato Paste

*Homemade Tomato Paste

1 large tomato, chopped and mashed

1 small onion, chopped

1 small garlic, minced

Olive Oil
I found many recipes that use canned tomato paste for the pizza base. Although I would appreciate that shortcut but that was not my option at all. Those canned types are usually high in sodium and tons of other stuff that I wouldn’t feed Vera at this age. So I chose the tougher option of making the tomato paste from scratch. It’s not that difficult, and the you can adjust the amount of garlic and onion as desired. Other recipes added herbs like basil, oregano, thyme but it’s not a must-have. Feel free to add if you like extra flavours though :)

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Method for Homemade Tomato Paste:

1) Heat frying pan, drizzle olive oil and add onions. Fry them till they turn slightly white and add garlic. Fry till fragrant and add tomato into mixture before garlic turn brown.

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2) Continue to stir and allow mixture to bubble. Repeat stirring and stopping for around 10minutes, or until the water content has reduced. Set aside when ready.

Method for Pizza:

1) Fry minced beef over pan till half done/medium well and set aside. (Tip: I’ve cooked the beef prior to baking to ensure this bloody meat is 100% when it reaches Vera’s hands. Raw food or undercooked food is a no-no. So baking it cooks it fully thereafter.)

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2) Add the toppings and beef on the bread pieces and finish off with a flood of mozzarella cheese on top.

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3) Bake in preheat oven at 180degrees for 10-12minutes, or until cheese has melted and mushroom pieces shrink. (I used the mushroom bit as an indicator too because mushrooms lose moisture when cooked.). Allow to cool slightly before serving baby!

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They make a great meal for babies and adults, and yes, I’m a true-blue pizza fan and love cheesy stuff, hence you’d have noticed that I use quite abit of cheese in Vera’s meals too :P A pity this little girl was tired from our supermarketing trip after breakfast and the wait for lunch was getting to her (she was missing out on the fun), so she was fussing and crying, shaking her head when the pizza was served. Sad. But I know it’s because she’s tired so we went to nurse and attempted to make her nap…. to no avail though… comfort latched for half an hour and she was up and cheery again! #mybabygoesonnapstrikes

She was in a slightly better mood when we tried eating again and was opened to exploring cutlery too – yay!

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Pointed to the dining table and wanted that piece from my plate…… -_-

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Tips:

– Pizzas are usually deemed as “dry” food, so remember to offer water to your tots.

– Pizzas are versatile and ingredients can be mixed as you fancy – no hard and fast rules!

And since I had quite a bit of minced beef, I decided to come up with something quirky. Had this crazy silly idea to do a 2-way meat ball with something else. So I grabbed a butternut squash from the supermarket and mixed the two ingredients and did them both ways – seriously reversible! And it’s not easy trying to roll them into perfect circles. Don’t mind my imperfect food styling, yea? I can’t resist coining them as Reversible Auspicious CNY Balls, but it sounds kinda weird.

Reversible Beef Balls with Butternut Squash
~makes 7 balls

Nutritional Facts: Butternut squash contains no saturated fats or cholesterol; however, it is a rich source of dietary fiber and phyto-nutrients – good for baby’s bowels. It has more vitamin A than that of a pumpkin and is rich in B-complex group of vitamins like folates, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin, and pantothenic acid.

Ingredients:

1 tbsp. minced beef, washed

1 palm sized portion of butternut squash with the height of your thumb (you can see I love guess-timation, right?)

Method:

1) Fry minced beef over pan till half done/medium well and set aside. (Tip: If you’re doing the pizzas together, you can save time by frying both portions of beef at the same time.)

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2) Boil and mash butternut squash and drain water.

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3) Shape them in 2 ways:

A) Grab a handful of butternut squash and hand-shape into a ball, use a teaspoon to create a small “crater” in the centre. Scoop some minced beef and put into the “crater” and  shape the butternut squash into a full circle. Add more butternut squash if you need to close the hole.

B) Grab a handful of butternut squash and hand-shape into a ball. Roll ball into minced beef to “coat” it.

Do they remind you for Ferrero Rocher chocolates? :P

4) Bake in preheat oven at 180degrees for 10minutes. Allow to cool slightly before offering baby.

By now, baby V was getting a little restless and didn’t like touching the mushy food. So we spoonfeed her 3 of those reversible balls, kept 3 for daddy and mummy had 1 :)

These look auspicious enough for Chinese New Year, eh? If you’re racking your brains on what to prepare for your toddlers and kids, this might be a tasty treat – even for adults! Simple, healthy homemade finger food can be easy too. Feel free to add salt, pepper and season the beef for adult palates.

Here’s wishing our awesome readers, a wonderfully wholesome Lunar New Year ahead! May the Year of the Goat bring maaaaa-ny blessings, tons of laughter and the pink of health to you and your family! Love, from our family to yours :)

If you’ve tried experimenting these dishes, do tell us how it went! Hope you enjoy our simple recipes for busy parents. Stay connected on Facebook and Instagram too :)