Baby Food | how to

OCt_Solids

This blog is about food, pictures of beautiful food, for food, and all things food- enter BABY FOOD.  Knox has been eating solids for 2 months now, and if you know us at all, I hope you know we have been making everything he eats at home.  Jason and I don’t eat every meal out of a jar, so why would we feed our baby out of a jar, am I right?  I was pretty excited to start making this little guy’s food, he was practically begging for each bite we put in our mouths when we were eating in front of him- poor guy!  I can’t wait till we can just serve him what we’re eating each night, for now we make him his own fruit and veggies purees and combos!  He’s actually inspired us to eat better again, I swear since pregnancy we’ve been spoiling our sweet tooth and ourselves with decadent meals, pizza and the like.  This week we made a great meal plan and have stuck to it.  We do a Sunday food prep as long as we’re home, where I baked sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, roasted acorn squash, washed and packed baggies of grapes, boiled chicken for southwest style wraps ( packaged beans/ shredded cheese/ avocado/ made brown rice with Salsa), baked bacon ( for loaded potatoes), boiled whole wheat pasta and threw together a backed ziti with zucchini slices, and of course made some fruits for Knox.

I do mega batches 1-2 times per month and so far he’s had: apples, pears, acorn squash, butternut squash, cantaloupe, peas, green beans, avocado, sweet potato, parsnips, prunes.  It’s been pretty easy, I’ll do 2 fruits and 2 veggies all at the same time by steaming the sliced fruits in a saucepan with a touch of water and a lid at the same time the squash or potatoes are cooking/ roasting in the oven.  As one item finishes cooking I toss it in the food processor.  For the apple and pears, I remove the skin after it’s steamed and cool- it’s just easier and you don’t lose as much fruit.   Once each item is blended, I pour/ plop it in to an ice cube tray, cover with plastic wrap and freeze.  Once frozen I transfer the cubes to a labelled bag and store in the freezer.  To serve, I place 1-2 cubes ( mix and match!) and microwave in a small bowl with 10-20 second intervals till just warm and smooth.  I’ll stir in some milk to thin it out if necessary, add in rice powder for extra calories.

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photo source

Knox’s favorite, as an example Acorn Squash!

2 acorn squash

Directions

To start, wash the acorns, cut in half then place face down in a rimmed pan lined with foil ( I drizzle with EVOO), bake for 35 minutes @400 degrees.  When cool, scoop out soft flesh in to your food processor and blend until smooth, adding liquid gradually (and adding more if needed to purée). Then pour into freezer cubes and store in freezer.

 

Suggested Combos:
Sweet Potato and Apple

Apple and Cinnamon

Pear and Parsnips

Acorn Squash and Rice

Peas and Sweet Potato

Cantaloupe and Yogurt

Peaches and Cream ( mommy’s milk)

 

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Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Just the title is enough, really, but then LOOK at that photo.  Who doesn’t want to enjoy these decadent, fall sweet warm gooey breakfast treats?  Growing up, my sister and I made a lot of these, out of a can, and even though I will always treasure those memories, nothing is better than the real thing- ever.  Cinnamon is one of those smells that brings fall and winter to a beautiful place…  it’s HOME, it’s love and it’s aroma baking something delicious in the oven is enough to bring everyone to the table eager to see what you’ve created.  The pumpkin is very subtle and has just enough hint of flavor to know these aren’t ordinary but extraordinary.  These rolls are made from simple pantry ingredients, and made the night before, they are very easy to make.  This is the second time this kitchen has made them, the first time they turned out just a bit drier then I would prefer, so this time I’ve tweaked the recipe to make them gooey ooey tender light and perfect.  I found the dough very easy to work with, I didn’t even need a rolling pin this time, the dough was so tender and pliable that I just stretched it to the size needed on a very well floured surface.  Here’s the thing- this isn’t going to be a quick recipe, it takes time to rise and time to assembled and more time to rise, but it IS easy and the ingredients are easy so do not be intimidated.  I made these last night and when indicated, stored them in the fridge to make today AND tomorrow for our sleepover guests!  It serves 10 people total, or 6-8 very hungry people… heheheehee  Now, go bake!!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from Baked Elements

Dough
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, to be divided
2/3 cup whole milk, warmed (but not over 116 degrees)
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (from 1 .25-ounce or 7 gram envelope yeast)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out
1/4 cup (packed) light or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2/3 cups pumpkin puree, canned
1 large egg
Butter for coating rising bowl

Filling
3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon table salt
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Glaze
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons milk
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make your dough: Melt your butter in a little saucepan, lightly brown it for extra flavor: when the butter has melted, keep cooking it over medium heat for a few additional minutes. It will become hissy and sizzle a lot, then take on a nutty flavor as golden bits form at the bottom of the pot. Remove from heat and pour in to a clean small bowl- set aside to cool slightly.

Combine your warmed milk and yeast in a small bowl and set aside. After five to seven minutes, it should be a bit foamy. If it’s not, you might have some bad yeast and should start again with a newer packet.

In the bottom of the bowl of an electric mixer combine flour, sugars, salt and spices. Add just 1/4 cup of your browned butter and stir to combine. Add yeast-milk mixture, pumpkin and egg and mix combined. Switch mixer to a dough hook and run it for 5 minutes on low.

Scrape mixture into a large buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside for 1 hour in a draft-free place; it should just about double.

While it is rising, line the bottom of two 9-inch round cake pans (8-inch round should work too, as does an 8-inch square) with parchment paper and butter the sides of the pan and the paper.

Assemble buns: Scoop dough onto a very well floured surface and flour the top of it well. With a rolling pin, roll the dough to an approximately 16×11-inch rectangle. Brush reserved melted/browned butter over dough. Stir together remaining filling ingredients and sprinkle mixture evenly over dough. Starting on a longer side, roll the dough into a tight spiral. It’s going to make a mess because the dough is crazy soft and some stuff spills off the ends; don’t sweat it. It will all be delicious in the end.

Here’s how to cut cinnamon rolls without squishing their pretty spirals: With a sharp serrated knife, using absolutely no pressure whatsoever (only the weight of the blade should land on the dough) gently saw your log with a back-forth motion into approximately 1-inch sections. When a soft dough like this is rolled, it tends to grow longer, which means that you’ll have the option to either make more buns (say, 18 instead of 16) or just cut them a little larger (in generous inches).

Divide buns between two prepared pans. You can sprinkle any sugar that fell off onto the counter over them. Cover each pan with plastic wrap and let rise for another 45 minutes.

If you’re doing this ahead of time, you can now put them in the fridge overnight. In the morning, leave them out for an hour to warm up and finish rising.

15 minutes before you’re ready to bake them, heat the oven to 350°F. Meanwhile, you can make the glaze. Beat your cream cheese until it is light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Drizzle in milk until you get the consistency you’re looking for, either thick enough to ice or thin enough to drizzle.

Finish your buns: Remove the plastic and bake buns for 25 minutes, until puffed and golden and the aroma is intoxicating transfer pans to wire cooling racks and drizzle/schmear with cream cheese glaze, and ENJOY every sticky finger licking bite.

Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette

 

 

First, this is another way to save: cook vegetarian meals!  We cook 80% vegetarian, and not on purpose, we just love our veggies and pastas and grains and bread and cheese and don’t miss meat every single night of the week.  We love our steak, don’t get us wrong, but at 9.99-15.99/ lb, it’s hard to buy often.  So if you are looking to save, save on meats, but mushrooms to substitute ground meat in chili ( you won’t miss it!!) and make recipes that are so so so amazing you won’t even notice it is meatless- like the gorgeous Galette.  What’s upsetting is that we’ve never made one of these before- we love making pizzas and tarts and this is BETTER then both of them.  It holds all this amazing filling on a flaky crust of perfection, mouth-watering just remembering it!  True to savings from, we use fall favorites in here- Butternut Squash at 1.19/ lb with caramelized onions, cheese and sage… please try this, you will want to keep making it for your family every week…

 

 

Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the pastry:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into
pieces
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup ice water

For the filling:
1 small butternut squash (about one pound)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons butter (if you have only non-stick, the smaller amount will do)
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced in half-moons
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
3/4 cup Fontinella ( or Fontina) cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces), grated or cut into small bits
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves, or 3/4 tsp Ground Sage

1. Make pastry: In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Place the butter in another bowl. Place both bowls in the freezer for 1 hour. Remove the bowls from the freezer and make a well in the center of the flour. Add the butter to the well and, using a pastry blender, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Make another well in the center. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add half of this mixture to the well. With your fingertips, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Remove the large lumps and repeat with the remaining liquid and flour-butter mixture. Pat the lumps into a ball; do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

2. Prepare squash: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Peel squash, then halve and scoop out seeds. Cut into a 1/2-inch dice. Toss pieces with olive oil and a half-teaspoon of the salt and roast on foil lined (for neatness sake) sheet for 30 minutes or until pieces are tender, turning it midway if your oven bakes unevenly. Set aside to cool slightly.

3. Caramelize onions: While squash is roasting, melt butter in a heavy skillet and cook onion over low heat with the remaining half-teaspoon of salt and pinch of sugar, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly golden brown, about 20 minutes. Stir in cayenne.

4. Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Mix squash, caramelized onions, cheese and herbs together in a bowl.

5. Assemble galette: On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. Spread squash, onions, cheese and herb mixture over the dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Fold the border over the squash, onion and cheese mixture, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open.

6. Bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the galette onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature. Serves 6.

Italian Bread and Cabbage Soup

Last night was a little celebration here at the Richardson home, we hit our 2 month wedding anniversary!  Silly, we know, but it was a great night to reflect on our wedding, being happy and an excuse to cook something amazing and serve it on our wedding china= bonus!!  Jason has a little obsession with Jamie Oliver’s cookbook photography so we have a few of them.  This recipe was found in his “Jamie’s Kitchen” book, where he breaks down recipes by season, which we love. When you can cook in season, your groceries are cheaper and your food is fresher, better.  This soup packs a huge vitamin punch with swiss chard and cabbage… even though we’ve added bacon, bread and cheese ( YUM)  Jamie tends to cook very humbly, he says ” handful of this, a glob of that” it’s hard to navigate and some ingredients are just not available in most stores in the US.  Here we navigate this recipe adding in how we made it, the broth was so rich and hearty and just amazing- the flavors Jamie imparts with herbs is a serious talent.  We used the cheese we had on hand and the bread we had also… you can opt to look to the original!  This makes 8 servings, and it is filling, it could be called a casserole almost, but it has enough broth to bring it home.

 

 

Adapted from Jamie at Home

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 quarts, 96 oz, chicken stock ( not broth)
  • 1 green cabbage, outer leaves separated, washed and roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard ( or Kale), center hard stalk removed, leaves washed
  • and roughly chopped
  • About 12 slices stale bread, we used Sara Lee Honey Wheat
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed, cut in 1/2
  • Olive oil
  • 8 slices bacon, chopped on 1″ lengths
  • 1 (4-ounce) can anchovy fillets, in oil
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked
  • 4 ounces romano cheese, grated
  • 3 ounces freshly grated Parmesan, plus a little for serving
  • 2 ounces white cheddar, grated
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Small bunch fresh sage, leaves picked

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Bring the stock to the boil in a large saucepan and add the cabbage, cavolo nero and/or kale. Cook for a few minutes until softened (you may have to do this in 2 batches). Remove the cabbage to a large bowl, leaving the stock in the pan.

Toast all but 4 of the bread slices in a toaster, then rub them on 1 side with the garlic halves right away while warm, and set aside.

Next, heat a large 4-inch-deep ovenproof casserole-type pan on the stove top, add 1 tablespoon olive oil, bacon and anchovies. When the bacon is golden brown and sizzling, add the rosemary sprigs and cooked cabbage and toss to coat the greens. Put the mixture and all the juices back into the large bowl.

Place 4 of the toasted slices in the casserole-type pan, in 1 layer. Spread over 1/2 of the cabbage leaves, sprinkle over a 1/3 of the grated cheeses and add a drizzle of olive oil. Repeat with another layer of toasted bread, cabbage mixture( pour in all the juices remaining in the bowl) and cheese.  End with a layer of the untoasted bread on top. Push down on the layers with your hands.

Pour the stock gently over the top until it just comes up to the top layer. Push down again and sprinkle over the remaining 1/3 of cheese. Add a teaspoon of pepper and drizzle over some good-quality olive oil. Bake in the preheated oven for around 35 minutes, or until crispy and golden on top.

When the soup is ready, divide it between your bowls. Melt the butter in a frying pan and quickly fry the sage leaves until they’re just crisp and the butter is lightly golden (not burned!). Spoon a bit of the flavored butter and sage leaves over the soup and add another grating of Parmesan if desired.

Food for thought… and Autumn Vegetable Curry

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This morning was one of those amazing fall days in Chicago, the kind we all reflect back to when the snow and slush and icy winds start to bring us down.  After an admittedly challenging couple of weeks, there is so much change in the air, not only the seasons.  In times like these it’s important to remember that our lives are only as good as the choices we make, whether they are good choices, hard choices, wrong choices; they all shape who we are, who we will become and the life we will have.

Inspired by two friends today, I took a long break to get outside and bike+ run, not just to work out but to slow down, think, walk, and soak in the great day.  Everyone I passed was smiling, the sun was shining, the lake rippled in the wind and colorful leaves rustled along my path, the skyline gleamed in the contrast of the blue skies, it was as if everywhere I looked, a gorgeous photo presented itself.  It got me thinking about how charmed our lives are, if we can just take a moment to step back and enjoy it.  If the choices we make define who we are, we should make each one count; they should enrich our life, they should inspire us, they should make us happy- it’s our choice, right?  In lou of all the changes a new season brings, our family is faced with all kinds of challenges and choices, our near future of where we will end up is hovering within reach and it’s overwhelming.  It’s helpful to reflect, jot stuff down and just take a moment to put things in perspective.  This is life, it is glorious, we have the ability to make choices and that is pretty great.

Now, to the food!  After all that thought, I bet you are ready to make a choice on what’s for dinner this fine fall evening.  We’ve been loving all the in season produce- fennel, pears, squash and sweet potatoes.  This recipe is another Ellie Krieger gem; we can’t go on enough about how much we love her.  It’s warm and hearty and full of big flavors and so many veggies, you would never guess it’s simplicity could be so good.  This recipe makes a big batch so you can enjoy leftovers over and over!  Enjoy,

Ingredients

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

4 cloves garlic, peeled

1 1½ -inch long piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into chunks

1 ½ tablespoons curry powder

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more to taste

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 cups low sodium vegetable broth

1 cup light coconut milk

1 cinnamon stick

¾ teaspoon salt plus more to taste

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ head of cauliflower, broken into 11/2 inch wide florets (about 3 cups)

1 pound sweet potatoes (garnet yams), peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes

2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch rounds

2 tomatoes, cored and chopped

Zest of 1 lime

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 15-ounce can of garbanzo beans, preferably low-sodium, drained and rinsed

5 cups baby spinach leaves (5 ounces)

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Method

Put the onion, garlic, ginger, curry powder and cayenne pepper into the bowl of a food and process until combined. Add the oil and process until a smooth puree. Cook the curry puree in a large pot over a medium heat, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the mixture begins to darken, about 5 minutes more.

Add the vegetable broth, coconut milk, cinnamon, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cauliflower, sweet potato, carrot, tomatoes, salt and pepper and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick. Stir in the lime zest and juice, the garbanzo beans and the spinach and cook for 5 minutes more, until the spinach is wilted. Season with additional salt to taste.

Serve garnished with cilantro, over rice if desired.

 

Makes about 10 cups Serves 4

 

Per Serving: Calories 420; Total Fat 12 g; (Sat Fat 3.5 g, Mono Fat 4.6 g, Poly Fat 2.3 g) ; Protein 13 g; Carb TK g; Fiber 16 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 780 mg

 

Excellent source of: Copper, Fiber, Folate, Iron, Magnesium, Molybdenum, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin K Good source of: Calcium, Niacin, Riboflavin, Pantothenic Acid, Thiamin, Zinc

 

Copyright 2011 Ellie Krieger. All Rights Reserved.

Spiced Red Wine-Poached Pears

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2 cups dry red wine, such as cabernet or merlot
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 orange, juiced (about 1/2 cup)
2 (1 by 3-inch) strip orange zest
2 cinnamon sticks
2 cloves, or 1/8 tsp ground cloves
4 firm, ripe pears

DIRECTIONS

In a 4-quart saucepan, combine wine, sugar, orange juice, zest, cinnamon stick and cloves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. While liquid is simmering, peel pears, leaving stem intact and being careful not to blemish the flesh of the pears. Slice 1/2-inch off the bottom of the pears to create a flat bottom. Gently place pears in poaching liquid, cover, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes to ensure even color, until pears are cooked but still firm. Remove saucepan from flame, uncover and cool with pears upright in pan. Once cool, cover and chill in refrigerator at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours, turning occasionally, if desired. Gently remove pears from liquid and allow to come to room temperature. Meanwhile, reduce liquid by about half over a medium-high flame for 15 minutes, until liquid is thicker and slightly syrupy. Remove from flame and let liquid come to room temperature. Drizzle each pear with 2 tablespoons syrup and serve.

Sage and Butternut Squash Soup

It’s incredible how time flies when you’re having fun and when you aren’t.  It’s been over 2 weeks and we have not posted a single recipe.  We were eating a lot of boxed macaroni, tuna sandwiches and boxes of Thai, Chinese and pizza while going in and out of vet appointments since we got back from our wonderful camping trip.  One week ago today we lost our little Lila to Lymphoma, she was a sweet cuddly 5 year old cat, and we will never forget her.  A great friend of mine said to me, “cooking is therapy”, and it really is.  To get involved with the methods and timing and repetition of preparing a homemade meal, takes focus and meditation.  You can get lost in the tastes and smells and the anticipation of the final product.  So, this weekend we finally pulled out our books, made a list and went grocery shopping.  We cooked up lots of fall favorites, Warm Apple Slaw with Sage Pork Chops… Apple Pecan Muffins…. Pasta… and this gem of a recipe from Jamie Oliver.  We love to use fresh butternut squash and it is so simple to make it in to a hearty soup that will warm you up and make you feel happy when you might be feeling down.  Shorter days can do that to you, so have a toast ( or crouton) to Lila and remember that cooking is good for your soul, enjoy it with those you love….
superb squash soup with the best parmesan croutons ( gotta love his recipe titles!)

adapted from Jamie Oliver
serves 5-6

ingredients

olive oil
8 fresh sage leaves
1 red onion, peeled and chopped
2 sticks of celery, trimmed and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves picked
½–1 fresh red chilli, to taste, deseeded and finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2.5 lbs  butternut squash, halved, deseeded and cut into chunks ( no need to peel)
38 ounces good-quality chicken or vegetable stock
extra virgin olive oil

for the croutons

extra virgin olive oil
16 slices of ciabatta bread
a block of Parmesan cheese, for grating

Put a very large saucepan on a medium heat and pour in a glug ( 2-3 Tablespoons) of olive oil. Add the sage leaves and fry for around 30 seconds or until dark green and crisp. Quickly remove them with a slotted spoon to a bowl lined with kitchen paper – you’ll use these for sprinkling over at the end. In the pan you’ll be left with a beautifully flavoured oil, so put it back on the heat and throw in your onion, celery, carrot, garlic, rosemary leaves, chilli and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Cook gently for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are sweet and soft. Add the squash and the stock to the pan, bring to the boil and simmer for around half an hour.

While the soup is cooking, make your croutons. Drizzle a little olive oil over the ciabatta slices, pat it in and press some grated Parmesan on to each side. Place in a non-stick pan without any oil and fry until golden on both sides.

When the squash is soft and cooked through, whiz the soup with a hand blender or pour it into a liquidizer and pulse until you have a smooth purée (but you can leave it slightly chunky if you like). Most importantly, remember to taste and season it until it’s perfect. Divide the soup between your bowls, placing 2 croutons on top of each. Sprinkle with a few of your crispy sage leaves and drizzle with a swirl of good-quality extra virgin olive oil.