18-36 Months: Eating with the Family - Meals without Tears (part 3) - Funny-face Hamburgers & Maple-oat Clusters

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Funny-face Hamburgers

Your own yummy burgers will be better than any fast food, and you and your children can have lots of fun decorating the burgers with silly faces. Or, serve the burgers more traditionally in buns.

15 minutes

6–10 minutes, plus pasta cooking


4 child portions

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 large shallot, minced

  • 1/4 apple, peeled, cored, and grated

  • 1/2 small garlic clove, crushed

  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar

  • 1/4 tsp fresh thyme or chopped parsley

  • 2 tsp honey

  • 3/4 cup ground round

  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1 tbsp ketchup

  • 1 tsp oyster sauce

  • 2/3 cup fresh bread crumbs

  • Sunflower or olive oil, for frying

  • Green peas and a mini-cherry tomato for decoration

  • Per portion

  1. Heat the oil in a small frying pan and soften the shallot and apple for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the vinegar and cook, stirring, until evaporated, then stir in the thyme and honey. Transfer to a bowl and cool slightly. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix together. Shape into four burgers. Cover and refrigerate. Or, wrap individually and freeze for up to 1 month; thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

  2. To cook, heat a little oil in a large nonstick frying pan and cook the burgers over moderate heat for 3–4 minutes per side until cooked through. At the same time, cook the pasta according to package directions; drain and toss with the tomato sauce.

  3. Arrange some pasta on a plate to resemble hair (spaghetti for straight, macaroni for curls) and place the burgers under the hair. Add peas for eyes and a mini-cherry tomato for a nose (or use carrot or ketchup). For the mouth, use a curved piece of pasta (or tomato or red bell pepper). Serve any leftover pasta in a separate dish.

Maple-oat Clusters

It’s easy to make your own delicious breakfast cereal with oats, pecans, and maple syrup, and this will keep in an airtight container for several weeks. It’s also good sprinkled over fresh fruit or plain yogurt, or just nibbled as a snack.

5 minutes

50–55 minutes


6–8 child portions

  • 2 heaping cups rolled oats

  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • Scant 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

  • 6 tbsp butter, at room temperature

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

  2. Put the oats, nuts, salt, and sugar in a bowl and stir until well combined. Add the syrup and soft butter and mix with a wooden spoon, then pack together with your hands to form a ball.

  3. Press the oat mixture out on a nonstick baking sheet, to make a disk about 1/2 inch thick. Press down well to compact the oats.

  4. Bake until lightly golden, about 20 minutes, then use a metal spoon to gently separate the oat disk into large clumps (the center will still be very soft). Return to the oven and bake for 10–15 minutes longer. Gently move the clusters around, then bake until they are golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet (the clusters will crisp up more as they cool).

  5. Gently break any larger clusters into bite-sized pieces. Store the clusters in an airtight box.

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