Wednesday 1 December 2010

Cheese & pesto muffins and breakfast routine

I was going to tell you about how I made these muffins because I have been trying to find some finger food to eat that Sylvia will eat, resulting in light meals for E and myself. I was going to tell you how hard it is to take fun photos of food with Sylvia trying to help. However, given that I ate these for breakfast the next morning, I might tell you about my breakfasts with Sylvia.

Sylvia takes a long long long time to eat each meal. I have even spoken to the workers at childcare and been told she is always the last one eating. So it is not just my impatience that makes me say this. But I will admit that I used to eat breakfast very quickly in the days before Sylvia. So let me tell you about this morning as an example:

  • It starts with her running to drag boxes of cereal out of the pantry and select a bowl from the cupboard.(She has just learnt to open the pantry and cupboards by herself so now she thinks any time is cereal time.) She then insists on finding herself a spoon in the cutlery drawer.
  • I lift Sylvia into her high chair and we get cereal into her bowl. She loves snaking her hand into the boxes and coming out with a handful of cereal.
  • Today she didn’t want milk. Then she changed her mind and did want it on her cereal. I pour a little in the bowl and stir it.
  • Then she kept calling "milk, water" so I put some milk in a sippy cup for her and she drank a little, spat it out and cried. Mostly she just drinks water.
  • She fiddles with her cereal and I wonder if she will eat any. Throws some on the floor that I pick up and then eats a little. Takes her arm out of her singlet and then eats a little cereal. Pulls single over her face and then pulls it down again and eats a little cereal.
  • I get tired of watching her and spend a bit of time on the computer checking emails. But I keep an eye on the cereal because I know Sylvia’s urge to throw it on the floor is great.
  • She asks for "a cuggle" (known to you and me as a cuddle). Attention is waning.
  • I sit with her again and try and catch the bowl when she throws it to the floor. I catch the bowl, put the cereal from the floor back in the bowl, and place it on the highchair. What child could resist throwing it back down again.
  • At this point cereal is finished, with most of it a soggy mess that I have scrapped off the floor two or three times and returned to the bowl.
  • I get toast with butter, promite and cheese for both of us. Sylvia wants my toast so we swap. She takes the cheese and tries to wipe the promite off the toast. She nibbles the toast and throws it on the kitchen table.
  • I go to prepare some fruit and get a shard of glass in my food because a glass broke last night when it rolled off the dishrack. (It is impossible to buy a decent dishrack these days – maybe this is because we are the last household in the world not to have a dishwasher!) I sit down and remove shard from foot.
  • Another request for "a cuggle".
  • Another request for "milk, water".
  • The blue plastic plate used for the toast is held against the face and then thrown on the floor.
  • I offer pineapple. She lights up at the suggestion. I offer nectarine. No.
  • I put some pineapple in a bowl for Sylvia and have a bowl of pineapple and nectarine for myself. Sylvia wants my nectarine and piles it into her bowl. She loves nothing better than to transfer food from one bowl to another. Oh no, I lie. Even better is hurling food across the room.
  • Sylvia eats some fruit but is mostly playing with it so I decide breakfast is finished.
  • She looks around for something else. “Bun? Cake?” she asks hopefully. Not on your nelly!
  • I lift her out of the highchair and when she gets to the ground she finds a piece of cereal that she shoves in her mouth as though she hasn’t had the opportunity to eat her fill.
  • I sweep the floor and collect any spoons, plates and bowls that have found their way to the floor and not been picked up during breakfast.
  • I had left her in a singlet for breakfast because she refuses to wear a bib and gets cereal all over her clothes. But today when I put her in a nice t-shirt she regurgitates some of her breakfast all over it.
Honestly I am ready to go back to bed for a rest after such a breakfast. It is usually a bit quicker if I have to take her to childcare before work but I am glad I don’t have to do that 5 days a week! She really could just graze all day and does at times. I have watched in amazement at other children having food shoveled into their mouths, one spoonful straight after another.

To finish off the story of my day so far, I dropped in to work to meet one of our new colleagues from an interstate office and then met my friend Cheryl for lunch at Bar Italia in Carlton. I hope, after hearing how Sylvia eats her breakfast, that you will understand that I was too busy picking up things off the floor, keeping glasses at a safe distance and preventing er eating crayons to take any photos. But I would like to tell anyone looking for a child-friend café in Lygon Street that this is a great place for kids. They had the highchair, crayons and the waitress was so welcoming to Sylvia including picking up more than her fair share of crayons and bread crusts.

But I digress. I really set out to tell you about the cheese and pesto muffins I made on Friday night while watching great BBC drama, the Silence. Dinner has been light on and there was no bread in the house so I had promised E that I would make muffins. I did a quick search and found a recipe for Cheese and Pesto Muffins.

Lacking energy (see above breakfast routine and apply to dinner) I couldn’t be bothered rubbing butter into flour so I found another recipe for cheese muffins in Alison Holst’s Meals without Meat. Her recipe had no butter but I figured there was enough fat in all that cheese. The best aspect of the recipe was the ease of just mixing wet and dry ingredients together.

I loved Vanielje's idea of a dob of pesto and half a cherry tomato on the top of each muffin. It meant an explosion of intense flavour on top and looked ever so pretty. The cheesiness of the muffins was immensely satisfying. The only problem was confronting muffins hot out of the oven in their muffin papers when hungry from a light dinner. The papers cling to hot muffins meaning that a lot of the crumb seems to stick to the paper.

Which brings me back to breakfast. These were lovely for breakfast because the papers peeled off nice and easily. I meant to eat them with some chutney but Sylvia must have been throwing her cereal on the floor because I was distracted and forgot to do this. I couldn’t say if Sylvia liked them. She nibbled at her muffin, broke it into pieces and made lots of crumbs, but she looked happy. I can tell you that E and I loved them!

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: Edinburgh: the grim, the cosy and the grumpy
This time two years ago: PPN Genovese-style pappardelle for feminists
This time three years ago: Trashy choc chip cookies

Cheese and pesto muffins
Adapted from Vanielje Kitchen and Alison Holst
makes 12

  • 200g cheese, grated
  • 1½ cups self raising flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • good shake of smoked paprika
  • handful of fresh basil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2-3 tbsp pesto
  • 6 cherry tomatoes halves
In a large bowl, stir together cheese, flour, salt, sugar, mustard powder, paprika, and basil. Lightly whisk together egg and milk in a small bowl or mug and add to dry ingredients.

Spoon muffins batter into a 12 cup muffin tin lined with papers or greased. Use a small spoon to drop about half a teaspoon of pesto on top of each muffin (push into the batter a bit) and then push a cherry tomato half onto the blob of pesto.

Bake at 220 C for about 15-20 minutes or until tops are golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle of the muffin comes out cleanly. Eat warm or cold. I think these lasted about 3 days.

On the Stereo:
Serendipity: an introduction to … John Martyn


  1. Oh, my, wow. You have the patience and commitment of a god, Johanna! I bow down to you and can't wait for the time when Sylvia can look back on this post, apologise, and then thank you while giving YOU a cuggle ;)

    Also, the set-up in the first photo is absolutely gorgeous :)

  2. Yum! I need to make these!!

    And I can empathize with the slow eating. Kahlea used to whizz her food in and be off busy doing stuff. The twins would take hours and hours and more of it would be on the walls, the floor and themselves than inside their bellies where it was meant to be!

  3. You certainly have to be patient but I think its great that you offer her such a wide variety of healthy food. Children always want to eat whatever you are eating. My little cousins are just the same.
    Love the appearance of the muffins, so cherry

  4. I agree with Hannah, the first picture is fanfabulous - beautifully composed.

    Your description of breakfast was enough to make every parent of a small person (or even an early childhood teacher) grimace in recognition. I loved the level of detail you were able to describe, given how quickly it all happened, and how messy your hands must have been at the time!

  5. Oh my, I don't know how you have any morning left after a meal like that! Must ensure that Michael sees this, as evidence that someone out there is a slower and more distracted breakfaster than I. ;-)

    The muffins look terrific - pesto and cherry tomatoes are just the perfect garnish this time of year.

  6. Johanna, you sure do have a battle on your hands with feeding a fussy child. My boys were fussy eaters but breakfast was never a problem.
    I strongly suggest that you stop putting the food that she drops on the floor back in her bowl. Just do one clean up at the end & put the dregs in the garbage/compost. I was thankful that we had a dog who ate any food on the floor, but Sylvia needs to learn that she shouldn't throw food or plates, only things that are meant to be thrown (eg balls, frisbees, etc) & outside not in the house.
    I suggest asking other mothers for some strategies which can help you both. Good luck.

  7. Thanks Hannah - cuggles!?! I am hoping for some home cooked breakfasts in return for all the patience :-) and thanks for the comments about the pic - it is sylvia's teaset - she is very cute when she says "cup of tea"

    Thanks Amy - two slow eaters would be quite a challenge but glad you had one who would eat it all up - at least they have a good example to follow :-)

    Thanks Katie - you are so right about her being interested in what we are eating - it can be a surprise what she samples from other plates

    Thanks Yaz - it gives me great admiration for child care workers handling a few kids at once for meals - I didn't quite get the details right (because my hands were indeed full while she was eating) but thought it was close enough for jazz and was a nice snapshot of a moment in Sylvia's development

    Thanks Cindy - E is a slower eater than me which has probably given me some good experience in dealing with Sylvia :-) Am sure you'd love the muffins

    Thanks Pene - it is the slowness of her eating that can be frustrating rather than fussiness - which was what this post was really about - don't worry, I talk to other mothers and try strategies but just wish she ate a little faster - especially when I am rushing to work (though this example is not a work morning so is one of her slower mornings)

  8. Thanks Johanna! Once again you've made me salivate and wish I were at home in my kitchen instead of at work and playing on the Internet.

    Keep the delicious recipes coming.

  9. Waow,breakfast with your little one sounds like an adventure :-) She reminds me of my childhood friend!
    The savoury muffins sound great! I like the cute tomato on the top !

  10. First of all I'd like to reassure you that you are NOT the last household not to have a dishwasher. Don't think we'd have room for one even if we wanted. You must have so much patience. I know you wouldn't swap Sylvia for anything but I'd be lying in a darkened room refusing to ever get up again after a breakfast like that. Your muffins look so good with the cheese and tomato on top - lovely idea.

  11. oh my - I am tired just READING about that morning routine!!!

    But those muffins.....oh my - delicious!

  12. It's my first time here and I'm glad to discover that I'm not the only mom that deals with a kid so difficult to eat. My son is three and I sometimes spend up one and a half hour just to get him to eat. Anyway, the muffins look delish! I'll try this one out as he loves tomatoes.

  13. I meant to say that I might give your muffins a try on Sunday.
    BTW Here is something to read about slow eaters:

  14. That is quite a production there Johanna! I'm not surprised you are exhausted by the end of it! :o That makes everything that you make for the blog that much more of an achievement! :o

  15. Sylvia sounds like such a kick to be around! Exhausting for you but a cute story for us.

    These muffins sound delicious! I love that they're savory!

  16. Oh no! I enjoyed your breakfast story, and feel your pain, although I have never had to battle with a child over breakfast. The muffins look devine!

  17. These pesto muffins are lovely and tempting me big time.

    PS I don't have a dishwasher either. My kitchen is just as tiny as my garden plot.

  18. Thanks Chucky - if you can't be in your kitchen, then checking out food blogs is next best thing :-)

    Thanks Sweet ARtichoke - yes the tomatoes make them look a little glam with so little effort

    Thanks Choclette - you are so right that I wouldn't swap sylvia for anything - the list of activities sounds more tortuous than it is because she is such a joy to watch

    Thanks Lisa - it does look a long list when written down, doesn't it!

    Thanks Retro sweets - hope you like cooking - I often while away with cooking or the internet for part of sylvia's meals if we aren't sitting down with her.

    Thanks Pene - hope you enjoy the muffins

    Thanks Lorraine - I actually expected to blog less with Sylvia about but I keep finding things I need to record so that keeps me going

    Thanks Joanne - sylvia is lots of fun - just wish she wouldn't enjoy throwing her food around so much :-)

    Thanks Cakelaw - at least some days are better than others but breakfasts are never dull :-)

  19. Wow, I'm so impressed at your commitment to giving Sylvia lots of different tastes and chances and your patience - I bet most parents would give up way before the story you gave! (Mine certainly would have!)

    The muffins look really lovely - good to know they came away from the cases more easily when cold.

  20. Your breakfast routine had me laughing out loud! Poor you ;) But at least she does eat by the end of it all! And your muffins are a great response to the energy-draining morning routine. Love the look of them with the pesto-tomato color contrast. :)

  21. Thanks C - I suspect some parents just do as I do and go about doing other things - it helps with my patience :-)

    Thanks Ricki - yes at least I get some food into her as a return for all my efforts - though when she takes one of these lovely muffins and just nibbles and crumbles, I feel she shouldn't waste my good baking - it looks too good for such treatment, doesn't it!

  22. You just know I would enjoy these. Now that I am getting back into the kitchen and eating breakfast again, I might just be trying this recipe sooner than later.

  23. Wow that is quite the morning you have with Sylvia! I love how she asks for cuggles. :) Savoury muffins are my favourite. I love how these have the pesto and tomato on top! So cute.


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