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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Oatmeal Pancakes with Blueberry Lemon Maple Compote

2014 Food Blog0201Sunday morning, it’s the best day for breakfast of the week.  Sleeping in and baking hearty pancakes with berry drizzled goodness on top was at the top of our short list of accomplishments today.  I love making healthy pancakes, that don’t taste healthy.  They fill you up, have great texture and flavor and won’t leave you starving an hour later when you are busy accomplishing other tasks for the day.  Our favorite combination over here lately has been lemon and blueberries. I made muffins just yesterday including these two favorites as well.  It’s a fantastic combo that brings a bit of bright fresh summer in these bleak cold winter days.  These pancakes were adapted from The Flour Sack blog, I altered many things to make it perfect for our tastes. Enjoy!

Make 12 pancakes

Ingredients

1 cup Quick Cooking Oats

1/2 cup Orange Juice

3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly

1 1/4 cups fat-free milk

1 tablespoon unsulphered molasses

2 eggs, beaten

3/4 cup wheat flour

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

Directions:

In a medium bowl combine oats and orange juice, let sit for 3 minutes.  Meanwhile in another medium bowl sift together the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt.  In your liquid measuring cup, slightly beat the eggs, add to small bowl with oats, stir to combine.  Add melted butter, milk and molasses to the bowl egg/ oat mixture.  Add the wet to the dry mixture, stir together gently until combined, the batter should be slightly thick with air bubbles popping at the surface.

Preheat oven to 250 and place a pie plate in the oven, this will keep your pancakes warm as you continue to cook them all.

Heat a 10″ pan over medium heat until water sizzles when splashed on the pan.  Add a small amount of butter or cooking spray to the pan.  Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, mound batter in to the pan, 3 should fit nicely at this size.  Let cook for 3-4 minutes until bubbles are forming at the top then flip and cook for 2-3 additional minutes.  Then transfer to the pie plate in the oven and continue to cook the remaining batter.

Blueberry Lemon Maple Compote

Ingredients

1 cup frozen blueberries, divided

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

1/4 cup water

1 lemon, juiced and zest

Directions

In a small saucepan combine 1/2 cup blueberries, syrup, water, lemon juice and zest.  Bring to a boil and let simmer for 8-10 minutes, to thicken.

Remove from heat and strain the mixture through a small mesh strainer over a liquid measuring cup.  Press and mash berries into the strainer to extract all the juices.  Add the remaining 1/2 cup berries to the syrup to combine.  Serve over pancakes.

 

Braised Chicken with Shallots, Dates and Apricots

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Although this recipe has to cook for an hour, it is such an easy meal to prepare.  Not much chopping, not a lot of stirring, just let the chicken cook down freeing up time for you to enjoy elsewhere.  This recipe reheats really well the next day.  The chicken fell right off the bone and had nice flavors from the wine and shallots; the contrast with sweet dates and apricots was really nice but maybe needed a bit of something salty to really bring this home- capers maybe…   Overall very nice meal, great way to cook chicken for a change, and a perfect way to eat brown rice.  Enjoy

Recipe serves 4

Adapted from Williams and Sonoma “Taste” cookbook

 

Ingredients

8 Chicken Thighs, bone in

salt and fresh ground black pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

10 bay leaves

4 large shallots, cut in 1/4″ rounds or half moons

2/3 cup dry red wine

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

8 dried dates, pitted and halved

8 dried apricots, quartered

2 cups cooked brown rice

Directions:

1.  If preferred, trim the fat and skin from the chicken. Rinse, pat dry, and season with salt and pepper.

2.  Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot with a lid (to be used later) over medium-high heat.

3.  Add chicken and bay leaves and cook until browned, about 7-10 minutes on each side. Add a 1/2 cup water, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 35-40 minutes.

4.  Pour off pan juices and reserve. Pile chicken on one side of the pan, raise the heat to medium and add the shallots. Cook until the soften, about 2 minutes.

5.   Add wine and vinegar, and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add dates and apricots, then redistribute the chicken in the pot.

6.   Add the reserved liquid and simmer until chicken is heated through and tender, about 12-15 minutes.

7 Remove and discard bay leaves. Serve immediately over brown rice

Remix- Ice Cream Sandwich?

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I found this intriguing recipe on one of my new favorite blogs: http://www.theleangreenbean.com
Lindsay ( aka the green bean and an RD!) cooks on the weekends and preps snacks, grains, breakfast foods etc like us to make the week easier and healthy choices seamless. Whole real foods and grains- we’ve made the one ingredient ice cream before and LOVE figs and dates, so I went for this. I adapted it a bit from the original so if you like to see what change check out this awesome blog! And go ahead and make this, they are so so good. The chia seeds are optional but I like that it adds a crunch and nutrition to boot, if you want to use figs rather then dates you’d also get the same crunch and Yum….
Recipe adapted from http://www.theleangreenbean.com

Makes 8 bars

Ingredients
1 cup Dates
1/2 cup cashews
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 teaspoons chia seeds
3 teaspoons water
3 frozen bananas, in chunks
1/4 cup Almond milk

In a food processor, pulse dates, cashews, peanut butter, cocoa, chia seeds until combined and a crumbly mixture forms. Add water by teaspoon if mixture is too dry.

Transfer mixture to a Saran covered jelly roll pan and flatten to about 1/4″ thickness trying to maintain a rectangular shape for uniform sandwiches; about 12″x16″.

Cover and freeze for two hours.

Meanwhile, clean food processor and combine bananas and almond milk. Pulse and process until smooth creamy consistency. Store in freezer until ready to assemble.

To assemble cut with pizza cutter in to 16 equalish rectangles. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of banana cream on one piece, top with a second, wrap in Saran to store in freezer- repeat to complete and enjoy!

 

Fruit “Gone Bad”? Don’t Toss it….

All week we’ve been sharing grocery shopping tips, tricks to stocking your pantry and saving on food cost in general. Today we have a few ideas on how to use fruit ” gone bad”, aka, bananas that are too ripe and orange peels or bad apples. It’s easy to toss them out, but just as easy to use them if you know what to do! These are just a couple that are used and purchased most often here at our house: Apples, Oranges and Bananas

When you have ripe bananas, of course you can just whip up a banana bread, pancakes and even muffins… but if you aren’t ready to do that you can freeze them till you are. Just peel and put them in a Ziploc bag to store in your freezer. The options are endless on how to use them:

Toss one in your breakfast ( or dessert) smoothies, like here, here, and here

Use them in baking, pull out what you need to thaw first then- banana bread is good but also mashed bananas can be used as a substitute for part of the oil in many baking recipes and can also be used instead of eggs. Try making this delicious healthy Chocolate Banana Souffle as a dessert

Dip frozen bananas in melted dark chocolate for dessert too as we did here!

Next is a tip for scraps from apples and oranges and is perfect fall and winter

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If you have any bad apples ( whether the texture is off or it’s bruised) or you just had it as a snack you can cut it up, use the core and simmer on your stove with cinnamon sticks or other spices like clove or nutmeg.  We also add in scraps from oranges, the peels and lemon peels too.  It will add humidity to the dry winter air in your home and smell so good.  Think about the savings on candles and wall scent plugs…

Healthier Blueberry Muffins

Ellie Kreiger has been a kitchen staple for us these past couple years.  She has brought 3 cookbooks to our kitchen that have all become indispensable.  Each recipe is based on making healthier and most of the time- fresher more flavorful- versions of our favorites.  Cooking from her books makes us feel good about what we make and what we are eating.  In her latest cook book, Comfort Food Fix,  she shares a healthy spin on classic blueberry muffins and true to form, they are just as tender and delectable, our all time favorites still will always be the Fig Muffins, however!  Using half whole wheat flour, low fat buttermilk, applesauce and zest of lemon are all ways in which these muffins add a nutritional punch and flavor to a muffin!
Adapted from
Ellie Krieger Comfort Food Fix
makes 12 muffins
Nonstick cooking spray

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup whole-wheat flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. table salt

1/4 tsp. baking soda

2 large eggs

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup canola oil

1 cup natural unsweetened applesauce

Zest of 1 whole lemon
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk

1-1/2 cups fresh blueberries

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Coat a 12-cup standard muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk both flours, the baking powder, salt, and baking soda.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, and oil until the mixture is pale and slightly frothy. Whisk in the applesauce, lemon zest, and vanilla. With the whisk, stir in about half the flour mixture, then half the buttermilk. Repeat with the remaining flour and then the remaining buttermilk, stirring until well incorporated.

Gently fold in the blueberries.

Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling them to the top. Tap the pan on the counter to remove any air bubbles. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of one of the muffins comes out clean, 20 to 30 minutes.

Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the muffins to loosen them and then unmold. Serve warm or let cool completely and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or wrap individually and freeze for up to 3 months.

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Quick Mini Chocolate Cheesecakes

Graham crackers are awesome- if you have these on hand you can make a variety of mini treats….  top them with strawberry preserves and sliced banana with a drizzle of chocolate for a “Banana Split” or spread with Almond butter, drizzle of melted chocolate and sliced bananas or spread some lemon curd on top with a dallop of whipped cream- imagine all the lovely variations of mini “pies”… Dessert in our house happens almost every night so being able to do quick, small portioned, and healthier versions is really important.  A new favorite grocery staple is ricotta cheese, not only is it creamy and yummy enough to eat with your grapes or spread on toast with a drizzle of honey… but it also make a great base for our mini “cheesecakes” and it has a host of health benefits:  it’s high in protein, calcium, and it’s is a great source of phosphorus (20%), zinc (10%) and selenium (26%) and a good source of Vitamin A, Riboflavin and Vitamin B1…  Plus it is rich in Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids ( Known to help prevent heart disease and cancer, and are healthy for the body)  Mix it in with some antioxidant rich dark chocolate, and top with with fresh berries all on a bed of whole grain graham cracker for a crust… and feel good that you are eating such a healthy treat!
(Makes 4 servings, or 8 Cheesecake Crackers)

1/4 cup dark chocolate chips, melted
1/2 cup low fat Ricotta Cheese
4 sheets of Graham Crackers, Honey Low Fat
1 small package of fresh raspberries

Directions

Combine melted chocolate and ricotta in a small bowl.

Spoon 2 tablespoons of the mixture on each graham cracker

Top with fresh raspberries