Monday, June 21, 2010

Puree Monday - Greek Chicken



I have had a lot of requests and questions about meat purees.  Do I make them?  Did Bebe B eat them??  I haven’t made many meat purees and Bebe B was always a little iffy about meat in general.  Meat can be a good source of lean protein but like many things, animal fat should be consumed with some moderation.  We eat many well balanced vegetarian meals in our house as well as poultry and certain types of fish.  I strongly urge people to always know where your meat is coming from and do your best to find ethically produced meat (farmer’s markets are a great place to find this).  Also if you are big meat eaters you could try a meatless monday approach...simply change one dinner a week for a vegetarian one.  It might be met with some complaints in your home at first but I bet in time it would become a family favorite.  Some great starting options would include, veggie and cheese frittatas, make your own pizzas w/ vegetarian toppings and cheese lasagna.   With that said I’m posting a yummy meat puree recipe this week for “Puree Monday”.

Greek Chicken Puree - 9 Months+
2 pieces of chicken breast- boneless and skinless
touch of olive oil for cooking
3/4 cup green grapes (halved)
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tbsp fresh oregano (finely chopped)

Cut chicken into medium sized chunks.  Bake the chicken in a 350 degree oven for around 30-40 minutes or in a skillet on medium heat for around 10-15 minutes.  Be sure the chunks are fully cooked through.  Either way you cook the chicken it helps to keep them covered partially with a lid or foil, preventing them from drying out too much.  

 

 


Allow the cooked chicken to cool about 5 to 10 minutes then toss them into the food processor or Beaba babycook.  Add in the remaining ingredients and puree until a smooth and creamy texture is reached.  The grapes add a sweetness and the yogurt and oregano add a savory flavor...lovely combination.  I recommend this recipe for ages 9 months and above but as always if you are unsure check with your pediatrician about when to introduce meat.  This recipe will keep for about 3 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer, making around 10-20 cubes.  If you know you will be freezing it, I recommend using chicken that hasn’t been previously frozen.  This recipe also makes a great toddler to adult meal as well.  Simply spread into a whole grain pita, sprinkle with provolone cheese and toast in the toaster oven or a 350 degree oven for a few minutes till the cheese melts.  Oh-bebe that’s good!


This recipe is gluten-free.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Munching in Vancouver: Restaurant Review



As part of my new restaurant reviews I am going to include guest posts from some of my fabulous friends around the globe.  The following review was done by my friend Rachel who currently resides in Vancouver (BC, Canada) with her family.  She is a great writer and fabulous photographer.  If you live in the Vancouver area or will be traveling there you should absolutely check out this restaurant.  Sounds fantastic and I wish we had something like this in Madison...Fine Dining for the whole family!  She even managed to snap a shot of the play area with her iPhone, Thank you Rachel!

Restaurant Review: Munch Restaurant by Rachel

I heard about this restaurant in the Georgia Straight I think. They had been voted one of the best family friendly restaurants in Vancouver. In the article it said they were trying to meld fine dining with being able to bring your kids. The thought intrigued me so I put it on the list of places to go while in Vancouver. Then my friend Tara from Bebe Meals mentioned that she was going to try and collect restaurant reviews from around North American to put on her awesome blog. This ended with me making a reservation for Munch last night and now here we are!!

So, first of all I found the customer service on the phone very helpful and friendly. Reese had a late nap yesterday so I made a 6:30 reservation for us. We were late getting there but no one at the restaurant seemed to care, they were happy and upbeat the moment we walked in the door. To get into the dining area you have to go through a locked little wooden, waist height door(which doesn't sound as hokey as you think, its to keep the kiddos in!!!) Then you're in the dining area. The chairs are all funky looking and wooden, the highchairs switch two ways and are wood and plastic therefore easily cleaned. The floor is kind of spongy so when your kid smacks her head on it it doesn't hurt as much as tile :) Perfect. It looked like a funky little restaurant that served high end food.......... with a kids section!! nNo plastic chairs and cheesy, gaudy designs for us thank you very much!

There is a LARGE play area that is visible from the entire dining room. They now have a "nanny" there some nights of the week and on weekends to help take care of the kids in the play area so that you don't have to hover. This service is free, awesome! The toys in the play area are mostly wooden, with books galore and a really cool wooden castle. There are rocking horses, scarves and capes for dress up play, puzzles and a wooden train set. Reese was in her glory. So while we were waiting for our food, Reese played in the area, it was so great to not have to entertain her at the table because we all know how that can go!

The washrooms have a mini toilet, change tables and an area for breastfeeding, very well thought out. They were clean and had everything we needed in there.

The food....ahhhh. I would come to this place even if the food sucked because of how amazing the concept is but its just the cherry on top that the food is also pretty fantastic! I ordered the chicken curry with papadam and it was mouthwatering. Richard had beef with mash in a red wine reduction which was also fabulous(yes I tried his too, can't be a proper review without tasting everything that came to the table!) We both had a beer and they had a very good drinks menu, which you wouldn't expect in a family friendly place. I got all excited and ordered the turkey and quinoia meatballs with fusilli pasta for Reese. It was delicious!!!! Now had I been thinking I would have ordered the organic, whole grain grilled cheese since Reese is a bit of a picky eater when it comes to anything tomato. She wouldn't eat a bite. She ate some of our meals, drank some milk, but wouldn't eat her main*sigh*. This wasn't the restaurant's fault though, I'm sure kids who like tomatoes would have LOVED the dish!!! And, her meal was free because kids eat free mondays and tuesdays. So we brought it home to try again today :) The restaurant also prides itself on fair trade food, buying locally and using organic ingredients. I don't think all of their dishes are organic but then I didn't ask so I can't comment 100%.

If some childless person wandered in there I think they'd hightail it out pretty quickly because the atmosphere is pure chaos. As you can imagine there are kids wandering back and forth between play area and tables, the noise level is slightly above your regular dining crowd and someone is always going to throw a tantrum when they have to leave right!?!

So the PROS
-GREAT food, Average prices for the Vancouver area
-Play area to keep the kids entertained with nanny.
-fresh, healthy, local, organic food
-friendly, prompt service
-clean, bright and funky decor

CONS
-I wish there was one closer to where I live *is that a con though!?!*
-not easy to get your child to come and sit down to eat when they are totally distracted by the play place.


All in all, this place ROCKED. I would highly suggest it to anyone in or around the Vancouver area if you want a place you can take the kids and still get a great, healthy meal for everyone. 
Here's the link to their website.

Footnote:  This is a completely unbiased review, Rachel received no compensation for this review.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Puree Monday - Dilly Beans


It’s “Puree Monday” again!  A great way to start the week...making baby food!  This week’s recipe is one I can honestly say our whole family loves!  I still make it every couple of weeks and keep the cubes in the freezer.  We defrost them when we need them.  They make the perfect addition to scrambled eggs...just whip them into the raw eggs before cooking.  They also make a great sauce to add to pasta and great spread for sandwiches and wraps.  But above all it is a great baby food!  One that is mild, flavorful and creamy.  This recipe does contain yogurt so as always consult your pediatrician or use your own discretion on the age appropriate,  I recommend 7-9 months and older.

Dilly Beans - 7 Months+
Ingredients:
2 cups fresh or frozen green beans
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
1-2 tbsp chopped fresh dill 
Breast milk or Formula (if needed)

     This is an awesome recipe packed full of nutritional goodness!  Steam the green beans until very tender but still bright green using whatever steaming method you prefer.   If using a steaming basket and pan on the stove use about 1-2 inches of water in the pot and steam for about 10-12 minutes.  If using the Beaba babycook fill the water to the number 2 and set to steam..  Puree the green beans until smooth then add in the yogurt and dill and puree until well blended.   You may need/ want to add some breast milk or formula to thin out the puree depending upon your baby’s age to reach desired consistency.  Purees can be as chunky as your baby is ready for- it’s up to you. This recipe will keep up to 3 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer.   Will fill about 2 ice cube tray (10-20 servings)  

And as I said this makes the perfect addition to toddler meals –wonderful with noodles or 
scrambled with eggs!



This recipe is vegetarian and gluten-free.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Crema of the Crop: Restaurant Review



What is the sign of a good meal?  It's a goat cheese mustache!  One of the new topics I am going to cover in this blog is restaurants.  No matter how much you love to cook and eat healthy family meals at home, it’s still nice to go out sometimes.  And since going out with children is a challenge and finding something healthy is an even bigger challenge I thought it would be nice for my readers to have a little help...like some reviews by Bebe B and I.  We will review local restaurants and even national and global restaurants when we travel.  Things I will be looking at include but are not limited to are; the menu, the use of organic and local ingredients, the atmosphere, the attitude of the staff towards customers (especially children) and the cost!  These reviews will be completely unbiased as I am not accepting anything from the restaurants and I will be paying for our meals myself.  We will start this week off with a local restaurant which Bebe B and I have visited on a few occasions including this week.

Crema Cafe in Madison, Wisconsin 
I’ll start by saying I am a big fan of this quant little cafe.  There is a beautiful peek-a-boo view of lake Monona including the capitol.  The menu features some creative and gourmet dishes and they have a full expresso menu, so any mommies needing to get their coffee on, you will be smiling! Have I mentioned I love coffee?  I love coffee!  The kid’s menu is a short list but it’s full of fun and healthy choices.  Bebe B has gobbled up the organic scrambled eggs and adores the PB & P (natural peanut butter and organic strawberry preserves).  The kid’s menu items are all served with fresh fruit and love that they include the good stuff like blueberries and blackberries!  It’s always a little annoying when a place says fresh fruit bowl and it’s all melon and 1 berry- but not here, they don’t skimp on the fruit variety.  Some more of the pluses include that they have a small selection of books and little canvas bags of play food that kids can take to their tables to play while you wait for you order.  The play food has been highly “loved” so if your a “germ-a-phob” like me you may want to use some wipes or hand sanitizer on them...especially since you know the first test little one’s give the them is the mouth-test.



 


As for the adult menu...YUM.  I want to try more things on the menu but I can’t resist the Harvest Greens Salad, it’s so perfect.  Organic mixed greens, apples, toasted pecans, goat cheese,  dried cranberries and a white wine vinaigrette that is fabulous.  I have also tried the Gobbler sandwich complete with Door County cherry relish which is a winner.  They also have some creative and scrumptious smoothies that I highly recommend.  The cost is pretty reasonable when you think of what you get; made to order fresh food using local and organic ingredients in much of their food.  Salads and sandwiches will run you about $7-8 and kid’s meals for breakfast are $3 and for lunch $4.  You order at the counter and seat yourself, when ready they bring your order out to you.  So far in my experience the staff had been pleasant and friendly with a welcoming attitude towards children.  One of the few drawbacks is that the cafe is small and almost always hopping at lunch time.  There have been a few times we had to leave because there were no tables available and no one was leaving anytime soon, which was a bummer.  The best time to go is for breakfast or an early or late lunch.  This week we went at around 12:30 and although we had to wait a few minutes after ordering some tables opened up and we had no problem finding a spot.  It was a wonderful lunch.  Bebe B kept me laughing as she was obsessed with stealing goat cheese from salad...that’s how she got the goat cheese mustache.  We give Crema Cafe, in the words of Bebe B, a giant “MMMMMMMM”!


UPDATE: Cafe has expanded and is double the size!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

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Monday, June 7, 2010

Puree Monday - Peachy Jubilee



Starting today I will be posting a new puree recipe here every Monday!  A great way to start the week...making baby food!  This week’s recipe is one of Bebe B’s favorites and has been for almost a year now.  It’s that time of year again where you can start finding local and organic fresh cherries!  Oh how I love cherries...yumminess.

Peachy Jubilee
4 ripe peaches 
1 cups fresh sweet cherries
2 bananas
1 tsp nutmeg (optional)
1 vanilla bean (optional)

Halve the peaches, remove pits and slice, leaving the skins on (this will help lock in their nutrients).  Steam the peaches in either a steaming basket on the stove or in the Beaba babycook.  If using the stove use about 1-2 inches of water and steam for about 3-5 minutes.  If using the babycook fill the water to the number 2 and set to steam.  Once the peaches are steamed allow them to cool, about 10 minutes and remove the skins.  Set aside. (Once your bebe has tried them steamed and you feel comfortable you can peal, chop and puree the peaches fresh, skipping the steaming step)  Next make sure all of the stems and pits are removed from the cherries.  If you are like me and don’t own a cherry pitter you can use either a small paring knife to do the trick, I have even heard people say drinking straws work great but I haven’t tried that yet.  Puree the cherries in the food processor making sure to scrap the sides a few times to get any stray cherry pieces. Next transfer the puree to a saucepan and add the nutmeg and scrape the insides of the vanilla bean into the cherry puree if desired. Then heat for about 5 minutes on medium low.  Allow to cool for at least 5-10 minutes.  The heating step simply helps bring out the flavor in the cherries, nutmeg and vanilla without destroying any nutrients.  Next puree the set aside peaches and two bananas (peeled and cut into chunks) in the food processor.  Lastly add the cherry mixture and give it a few more whizzes till blended.  This will be a relatively thin puree.  Voila...You have Peachy Jubilee!  This recipe will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge and up to 3 months in the freezer.

It is a great mix-in for oatmeal and whole grain cereals for your infant and toddler.  It makes a wonderful parfait layered with some yogurt and granola and makes a yummy topping for frozen yogurt or ice cream!

This recipe is vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free.