As a mum of three, who is always flicking through food magazines, I still find myself pulling my hair out trying to decide what to feed them for dinner. So I thought I would put together a list of old favourites and new ideas to inspire me on a daily basis. Don’t get me wrong, my kids still get baked beans on toast for dinner sometimes too – a mum can only do so much!
In this regular Sassy Mama column, I’ll share recipes that I have made for my kids, so that you can try them out on your kids! I’ll let you know if the recipe turned out as it should, and give you my clean plate success rating. Now, I am very lucky as my children, aged 4, 5 and 7, are not fussy eaters, (in fact they actually love pesto!), but it is often still an effort to get clean plates all round at the end of a meal.
Sweet and Sour Chicken
Last night I thought I would pay homage to our geographical location, so I chose sweet and sour chicken. Like many families, we seem to eat a lot of chicken, and for this I blame the children! But I digress, I guess the real reason we eat chicken on what seems like an ‘every other night’ basis, is because I’m not a fan of ordering meat online or travelling very far to gather ingredients for the night’s meal! Local or imported pork would substitute well in this dish, although the cooking time to seal the pork at the start of the recipe would be longer by just a couple of minutes, depending on the size of the portion.
I added plenty of veggies, and in keeping with my healthy motto (it is the New Year, after all!) I chose ones that my children regularly eat without drama – onion, pineapple and red and yellow peppers. Green peppers take more negotiation, so I left those out this time, although they, along with peas, small pieces of cauliflower and even shelled edamame beans could be snuck in. Red onion would look very pretty although brown is fine. Customise this dish depending on how game you are feeling on the day, and of course, what’s in your fridge.
- 2 chicken breasts.
- ½ cup cornflour.
- Salt and pepper.
- 1 egg.
- Oil for frying, I used canola oil, but any mild flavoured oil works here, (not extra virgin olive oil).
For the sweet and sour sauce
- 3/4 cup brown sugar. I think brown works best, but you could substitute with white.
- ¼ cup white vinegar.
- 3 tablespoons tomato ketchup.
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce.
- 1 teaspoon of garlic salt (I keep forgetting to buy this, so left it out, plus I think tomato ketchup has enough salt!)
- 1 medium onion.
- ½ red and yellow peppers.
- 2 slices pineapple.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°c.
- Cut the chicken into cubes of around 2cm x 2cm.
- Put the cornflour, salt and pepper into a large plastic bag and add the chicken.
- Shake the bag until the chicken is coated in flour.
- Remove the chicken when covered in the flour mixture.
- Whisk the egg and dip the chicken.
- (Things get a little messy at this stage!) Place the chicken on a plate. Some of the egg will run off on to the plate but that’s fine.
- Heat the oil in a wok over a medium heat. If you don’t have a wok, you can use a frying pan.
- Fry the chicken until browned then drain on absorbent paper. This will take about 4-6mins if your chicken pieces are 2cm cubes. You may need to cook this in batches, depending on the size of your pan.
- Cut up the vegetables, (small, if you need to hide them from your children!) but they do look prettier when bigger as you can see the colours.
- Mix all the sauce ingredients together.
- Place the chicken in a baking dish, scatter the vegetables over the chicken and pour over the sauce.
- Bake for 20-30mins depending on the size of your chicken pieces, stirring once.
- Serve with rice.
Clean Plate Rating: 3 clean plates!
This meal was such a huge hit that there were requests for it to be taken as a school lunch from 2 of the 3! In case you were wondering why only 2 requests, the 4-year-old goes to preschool in the mornings only, so no packed lunch required. A good thing, given that there was none left!
I would love to hear what version of this recipe you made and which veggies you hid under that gorgeous red, sticky-sweet sauce!
Originally from Australia, Chanelle Jackson was a Critical Care Nurse living in Sydney when she met and married her husband. Now a mum to three kids aged 4, 5 and 7, she has a home full of willing guinea pigs ready to try out her family-friendly recipes! Although cooking was always a hobby, Chanelle noticed spaghetti Bolognese was creeping onto the menu a little too regularly for comfort. Taking a stand against dull dinners, Chanelle was motivated to create and road-test exciting, yummy meals that the whole family can enjoy, and she’s sharing them with Sassy Mama! Check out her ‘clean plate rating’ for guaranteed dinner winners, and she’d love to hear your recipe feedback and suggestions!