Finding The Happy

Looking for joy in all the right places



By hand

Dearest mum,

Sometimes, I’ll come across You.

Today, it happened when I was rummaging through my recipe folder

The one with the magazine clippings and stolen ideas

And hastily written hand-me-downs from people I love

And towards the back, I saw your handwritten note.

Something mundane, about a small wok you had bought me

But it struck me then how alive you once were

With thoughts and wishes and advice and love

And that you were an individual with fabulous penmanship

And a gift for giving

And a heart that would

And I miss you, oh so very much.

All these tears, just because I was trying to find

The recipe for pineapple tarts. xx

Honey soy chicken with garlic butter pasta

It can be hard to motivate a toddler to eat dinner some nights, so here’s something I tried recently.

Honey soy chicken collage
Home-marinated grilled honey soy chicken, served on a bed of mini fusilli tossed with garlic butter and baby spinach leaves.



  • 200g chicken breast
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • ½ tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • ½ tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp minced garlic


  • knob of butter
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • mini fusilli (small spiral) pasta (I used half cup)
  • baby spinach leaves (half handful)
  • black pepper for seasoning
  • 1 tbsp honey for glazing


  • First, you need to marinate the chicken. Overnight marination is great but for the example above, I’d marinated the chicken in the morning at 10am and was grilling the chicken at 6pm.
    • For more even cooking later on, use the flat part of your meat tenderiser to pound your chicken for a more even thickness throughout.
    • Mix all the marinade ingredients together and coat the chicken. Leave the marinade and the chicken in a small bowl with a lid on and refrigerate until ready to cook.
  • When ready to start cooking, get small saucepan of hot water going on stove. Cook mini fusilli.
  • While fusilli is cooking, heat grill pan on high. If your grill pan is not non-stick, lightly spray the pan with cooking oil.
  • When pan is ready, lay the chicken piece flat and cook on each side for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on thickness of meat. Glaze with honey as you go.
  • When chicken has got 2 minutes to go, drain fusilli.
  • Take out a small fry pan, melt butter with garlic
  • Pan fry drained fusilli with black pepper and spinach leaves.
  • When chicken is ready, remove from fire and slice into finger-length pieces
  • Arrange chicken on the bed of pan-fried fusilli and serve. Bon appetit!

Recipe: All things white and beautiful

It’s official: Arddun has an intolerance to salicylates, of all things. And salicylates are in EVERYTHING veggie and good. Actually, they’re even in skincare products and anything that uses plant extracts.

And my girl has a low-to-medium threshold for especially brightly-coloured veggies. Eat too much, and her skin gets ravaged by extra-itchy eczema. The kind she scratches till she bleeds because she cannot stop. So tomatoes are baaaaad. And broccoli can get baaaad. As well as pumpkin, and sweet potato, and carrots, and even corn.

Anyway – long story short, here’s a medley of veggies that don’t give my baby girl the itchy-itchy. And even if your baby doesn’t suffer from such a pesky intolerance, this recipe makes a yummy meal and uses two veggies I’d never bothered eating in my life till now: parsnip, and swede.

Garnished with chopped chives, parmesan cheese and a dash of pepper, this easy dish is surprisingly tasty and uber nutritious for baby.


  • ½ swede the size of your fist, peeled and roughly diced
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and roughly diced
  • ¼ small brown onion, peeled and roughly diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • ½ large parsnip, peeled and roughly diced
  • 100g pork or chicken mince (optional)
To garnish
  • Cracked black pepper
  • Chopped chives
  • Finely grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Chuck everything except mince into a small saucepan.
  2. Bring water to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  3. Add pork mince and mix with vegetables. Simmer for another 5 minutes.
  4. Process mixture to consistency you’re after.
  5. Serve.

Not dull dhal

Whether you make this vegetarian or add a bit of meat, this puree is tasty, colourful, and was a huge hit with Arddun.

Dhal puree


  • ¾ cup (180ml) water
  • 100g pumpkin, chopped coarsely (or 180g if going vegetarian)
  • 90g carrot, chopped coarsely
  • 90g broccoli, chopped coarsely
  • 90g pork mince
  • 2 tablespoons red lentils


  1. Chuck everything into a small saucepan.
  2. Bring water to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 15 minutes or until vegetables and lentils are tender.
  3. Process mixture to consistency you’re after.
  4. Serve.

Peas, Corn, Pork, Risoni

Otherwise known around this house as The Yummy Green Gloop


  • 1¼ cups (310ml) homemade chicken broth or water
  • 1 cup (160g) fresh or frozen peas and corn
  • 100g thawed pork mince
  • 1 tablespoon risoni (“Big rice” pasta)
  • Smattering of dried onion flakes (not fried)
  • Dash of pure garlic powder
  • A crack of black pepper


  1. Chuck everything into a small saucepan.
  2. Bring water or broth to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Process mixture to consistency you’re after.
  4. Serve.
Total time taken: 20 minutes. Serves: Approximately 2.

It may not look very appetising, but Arddun would snort all of it through her cute button nose if I let her. And she’s developing quite the discerning palate nowadays.

I used to add carrots to the mix, but Arddun gets red and blotchy around the mouth when she goes all Bugs Bunny during mealtimes. So this one is the green and yellow version.

Also, you can use 100g of chicken breast fillet if you prefer. Or any other meat, really. I like to mix it up so Arddun gets exposed to more than just chicken and fish. I also prefer using lean mince, because it thaws so easily. Usually freezer bag them in 100g stashes so I can chuck them all in the freezer and grab a portion when needed.


Chicken licken good

Had TWO favourite people at home last week with the sniffles, so I thought I’d whip together my usual there-there chicken broth for Sniffles the Older, and then save some for Sniffles the Younger. If you’re into recycling leftovers – or at least cooking food that you AND your baby can enjoy – perhaps this might come in handy.

Velle’s own Chicken Soup for the (Sniffly) Soul


  • 1 Spanish onion, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 baby wombok, roughly chopped
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 6 spring onions, cut into 2cm-long pieces
  • 4 chicken thigh cutlets (you want the bones for the stock)
  • Spiral pasta or macaroni, cooked separately
  • Croutons and sliced red chilli to garnish


  1. Dump all ingredients, except pasta/macaroni and croutons, into a large pot and fill with 2.5 litres of water.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat and simmer for at least an hour. The idea is to get the chicken falling-off-the-bone soft. Oh yeah.
  3. When ready, dish up with cooked pasta and garnish with sliced red chilli and croutons. Yes. It is that simple.

Baby food conversion

With Arddun, what I did was to continue simmering some of the soup until the ingredients got truly mushy, and then froze the soup in small 150ml containers. Whenever I needed to get a quick meal for Arddun, I’d whip out one of the containers, thaw it, and then add a tablespoon of cous cous. Nuke it or heat over stove top until cous cous has expanded and is nice and soft. Fork-mash ingredients to the consistency your baby can handle.

Ta-da! Yummy baby food. Enjoy!

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