Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Summer Send-off Dessert

I created this recipe to use the ripe berries I had overflowing in my crisper drawer this week and as way to send-off summer, since tomorrow is the first day of September.  While I cannot wait for fall and all of the amazing food it brings, it’s always a little bittersweet when summer comes to a close.  This recipe is slightly sweet, fluffy and a perfect way to end a perfect summer.

Triple Berry Cake - 12 Month+
2 tbsp flour (I suggest a whole wheat, oat or amaranth but any will do)
1/4 cup organic brown sugar
2 tbsp butter or Earth Balance (but into small cubes)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup chopped pecans

1 1/2 cups flour (I suggest a whole wheat, oat or amaranth but any will do) 
1/8 cup organic sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1/8 cup agave nectar
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup fresh strawberries (sliced)
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 cup fresh blackberries

Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a glass pie plate or cake pan with butter or Earth Balance. In a small bowl mix together the topping ingredients with your fingers until it is well mixed and clumpy, set aside.  In a medium bowl combine flour, sugar, soda, powder and salt, mix with a spoon.  In another medium bowl whisk together agave, yogurt, eggs and vanilla until well mixed.  Fold in wet mixture to the dry just until combined.  Fold in berries.  Pour batter into prepared pie plate and sprinkle with topping.  Bake for about 35 minutes.  The top should be golden brown.

Hoping you all had an amazing summer and wishing you a fabulous fall!

This recipe is vegetarian.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Puree Monday - Yellow Squash & Amaranth Swirl

This is one of my favorite recipes for late summer!  Summer squash is in abundance at the farmer’s markets right now and is a wonderful first taste for your little one - mild and easy to digest!  Paired with Amaranth (a-mah-ran-th) which is considered a “super food” by many this bebe food packs a powerful nutritional punch. Amaranth is an ancient grain (Actually it’s a seed but is treated like a grain) that is used in cuisine around the world.  Unlike other grains it is rich in protein, containing around 7 grams per adult serving.   Some of it’s other amazing properties include rich in amino acids, fiber (3x more than wheat), calcium, iron, magnesium and folate.  Just to name a few!  It really is a wonderful addition to your bebe’s and your entire family’s meals.  Amaranth also makes a great gluten free substitution for recipes, amaranth flour is a healthy substitution for wheat flours in recipes.  This recipe was a winner with Bebe B and I have found adding a touch salt and pepper to it makes a great stuffing for roasted peppers or tomatoes for the rest of the family.

Yellow Squash & Amaranth Swirl - 6 Months+
2 large yellow squash (or zucchini)
1/2 cup whole grain amaranth
1 1/2 cups cold water
1 tbsp chives (finely chopped)

Begin by combining water and amaranth in a medium saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Make sure to stir a few times during this to prevent the amaranth from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.  While the amaranth is simmering wash and chop squash into 1 inch slices (make sure to wash well as we leave the skin on in this recipe).  Steam the squash in either a steaming basket on the stove or in the Beaba babycook.  If using the babycook fill water to the 1 mark for a full basket of chopped summer squash.  If steaming on the stove use about 1 inch of water and steam for about 5-7 minutes.  Puree the squash and chives in the babycook or a food processor.  You won’t need any addition liquid for this puree.  Once the amaranth is done it will be thick and slightly sticky.  Fold in the squash puree and serve warm.  This recipe will keep up to 3 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer. This recipe will fill about 3 ice cube trays (15-30 servings).   

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

Friday, August 27, 2010

H2 Oh La La

It seems everywhere I go these days I see flavored water for sale.  Sometimes it’s water with artificial flavors and sugar added-yuck!  Sometimes though it’s water with just a touch of natural flavor.  Not a bad idea, so here is my take on it- H2 Oh-La-La!  

Bebe B doesn’t drink juice, there is really no need for her to since she adores fresh fruit and drinks plenty of water, almond milk and cow’s milk.  Sometimes it’s fun to have something different though.  All you need for this recipe is water and fruit.  I simply put a few melon balls in a cup of water for Bebe B.  If you give it a few minutes the water really starts to take on the flavor.  It’s quite refreshing.  Usually Bebe B drinks about half then fishes her melon out with her hands (if the cup doesn’t have a lid) and pops them in her mouth.  I have made myself a version using sparkling water and that was wonderful too.  I have a bit of a crush on my melon baller as of late, but if you don’t have one you could easily use cubes of melon instead.  I have often used honeydew but any melon will work.  Also it just looks cool!

Vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Puree Monday - Black Bean Mango-Nana

At the last First Tastes: Adventures in Baby Food Making class that I taught, I made this recipe.  It’s a slight variation on my Black Bean Mango Quesadilla recipe.  I remember one of the dads attending (I love when dads take my classes) couldn’t believe how good this recipe tasted.  He was quite surprised that the banana didn’t just take over the whole taste but instead added a mild sweetness and flavor to it!  I would call this one a hit, and of course Bebe B loves it too.

Black Bean Mango-Nana
1 can of unsalted black beans (dry beans, cooked & cooled)
1 ripe mango
1 banana
1 tsp chopped Cilantro (optional)
  Peel the banana and slice into chunks.  Cube the mango, making sure not to use the skin or the seed.  (click HERE for a video tutorial on mango cutting) Drain and rinse the black beans well (rinsing helps reduce the gassiness factor).  Puree the beans in a food processor with the other ingredients until well blended.  The longer it is pureed the smoother it will get.  You can adjust the texture and chunkiness, as your bebe needs. This recipe will keep up to 3 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer.  Also makes the perfect addition to toddler meals- filling for a quesadilla or pita. This recipe will fill about 2-3 ice cube trays (10-20 servings).   
Vegan. Dairy-Free. Gluten-Free.  

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Good Earth: Restaurant Review

Recently we took a little road trip up to Minnesota.  Actually it was more like Dee traveling for work so Bebe B and I tagged along to visit friends and do some shopping in the “no sales tax on shoes or clothing” state.  It was a fun trip but I’m pretty sure after the 6 hour trip (each way with stops) with a toddler, Dee will opt to return to his usual one hour flight when he heads up that way again.  We got a chance to visit friends, have some good Indian food and try a local restaurant that uses the words seasonal, fresh, unprocessed to describe themselves.  Ok Good Earth you have my attention!  I loved that their website clearly stated where they get their food from and that they truly have a seasonal menu, changing with the seasons. They use organic and local ingredients whenever possible. Of course I had to inspect the possible deal breaker..dare I say it...kid’s menu.  Well I was pleasantly surprised, it was good with plenty of healthy options that kids will love.  So we decided to give it a go.  It was a great experience.  The staff were very nice and despite it being a little busy we were seated right away.  The waitress brought us a basket of some homemade crispy sort of crackers with a mustardy dip right away.  It was yummy and it’s always nice when you have a toddler if you are given some food within minutes of sitting down.

The waitress also brought out a little bowl of fruit for Bebe B before we had evened ordered.  Cool...very cool!  Bebe B had the penne pasta with their homemade tomato sauce.  To say she loved it is an understatement.  I actually had to take her to the bathroom to wash her up halfway through eating (she had sauce even on her eyelids).  Of course it didn’t help that I forgot her bib at the hotel and once again I had to MacGyver one up.  This time I didn’t have a nuk clip so I used a stretchy headband tied to a cloth napkin.  It worked and I was quite proud of that one (well not so proud of the forgetting the bib part).  Dee and I both had amazing meals as well and we left with full and happy bellies.   The wine selection was very nice and Dee and I both had a glass.  They were even having special prices for the bottle, which the waitress said they could cork and send home with us!  I thought it was a Minnesota thing but nope same rules apply here.  Legally they can give it to you as long as it’s corked (and you paid for it of corse).  I would have loved to try one the amazing desserts but we had no room.  The prices are reasonable and what your would expect for the area and the type of fare.  The kid’s meals are $4.95.  Other menu item prices vary.  So if your in the twin cities area and get a chance to visit one of their two locations, I highly recommend it and you can bring the kids!

Footnote:  This is a completely unbiased review, I received no compensation for this review.  We paid for our meals ourselves.

Good Earth is located at 3460 Galleria Edina, MN 55435 and 1901 Highway 36 W Roseville, MN 55113-2709

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Personal Pizzas

One of my all time favorite family meals is pizza!  Who’s isn’t, right?  Bebe B has been a bit obsessed with it lately (there is an adorable hippo mommy and baby duo in one of her favorite videos that make pizza together).  I created these yummy and easy pizzas that are perfect for family meals and getting kids involved in the kitchen.  Kid’s will love getting to choose their own topping and having a pizza all to themselves. I have created the recipe with some of our favorite toppings but feel free to add your children’s favorite heathy toppings.  They will be much more likely to eat the pizza if they choose what to put on it and help make it.  Just remember you are still in charge of their nutrition and make sure the options are healthy ones.  You might even realize they like something you wouldn’t have thought they did.  I just discovered Bebe B loves raw celery, and that surprised me.

Personal Pizzas - 12 Months+

Naan Bread (either homemade or store bought) enough for each person. (toddlers might eat only 1/4 or 1/2) (You can substitute pita bread if you cannot find Naan Bread but it seems to be in most grocery stores these days)

Pizza Sauce (homemade or store bought will work, just make sure to check the sugar and salt on store bought...some brands are bit too high for my liking) 

White Cheddar (shredded)

Fresh Broccoli (chopped small)

Fresh Carrots (grated)

Green Onions (chopped fine)

Chicken or veggie sausage (pre-cooked)

Gorgonzola Cheese Crumbles

Fresh Rosemary (chopped fine)

I store the Naans in the freezer since we usually stock up on them and am not always sure when we will use them.  It is fine to use the Naans frozen for this recipe, but they don’t have to be.  Spread each Naan with sauce (about 1/4 cup per Naan).  Bebe B loves helping with this part...but I recently learned quickly you cannot take you eyes off them for a second while doing this- Bebe B stuck her foot in the pizza and sauce!  Yum, just what we were craving - foot pizza:)

Next add the shredded carrots to the sauce.  After that it’s a free for all, adding whatever toppings you choose.  I usually try to add the cheese and rosemary last though.  Then pop them in a 400 degree F oven or toaster oven for about 10 minutes.  If using frozen Naans it may take a minute or two longer.  I like to stick them straight on the rack so the bottoms get a bit crispy but a pizza pan works fine too.  That’s it., simply cut them into slices/ pieces and eat!   You can store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.  Simply reheat and serve. 

I hope you give these a try and have many happy family pizza nights! Oh, and that your Bebes don’t stick their feet in the pizza!

This recipe is can be vegetarian using veggie sausage and dairy-free by using soy or rice cheeses.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Puree Monday - Avocado Applesauce

     Here is a recipe that has stood the test of time for me.  It has been one of Bebe B’s favorites from the time she was about 7 or 8 months till now.  She still gobbles it up every time we have it.  It’s a wonderful recipe to make in large quantity and freeze.  I usually make sure to make a huge batch in September with all the apples we pick from the local orchard so we can be eating homemade applesauce well into December.  It makes a great dip for graham crackers too!

Avocado Applesauce
5-6 Apples
1 ripe avocado
water for steaming

     Clean, core and slice the apples leaving the skins on during steaming (this helps lock in the nutrients during steaming).  Steam the apples in either a steaming basket on the stove or in the Beaba babycook.  If using the babycook fill water to the 2 mark for a full basket of apple slices.  If steaming on the stove use about 2 inches of water and steam for about 10-15 minutes (as your child gets used to chunkier textures less steaming time will be needed). Reserve some of the cooking liquid.  Let the apples cool till almost room temperature then remove the skins.  This should be fairly easy to do with your fingers or a spoon. Slice the avocado in half and twist apart, remove the seed and scoop the green goodness from the skin, it should be pretty soft but not brown.  Puree the apples, avocado and cooking liquid (if needed) in either a food processor or the babycook till the desired consistency is reached.  That’s it- it is ready to feed your little one.  This recipe will keep up to 2 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer.  It will fill about 3-4 ice cube trays (15-40 servings).  This is a perfect one to freeze because it prevents both the avocado and apples from browning. 

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

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Lunching at Liliana's: Restaurant Review

Bebe B and I recently had a chance to check out Liliana’s for lunch.  I had heard some very nice things about the New Orleans style restaurant and couldn’t wait to see for myself.  Liliana’s is located in Fitchburg and  has a light and upscale feel about it when you walk into the restaurant.  The fountain in the middle of the restaurant, full of patrons wishes, is also a fun touch.  Bebe B was the only kid in the restaurant while we were there but as far as I could tell she was in no way out of place.  The host handed her an entire packet for coloring, which was a nice touch because usually one paper doesn't last her too long.  She loved coloring the packet and I could see it had fun crosswords and games that older kids would enjoy as well.  They quickly got our drink orders and brought us out a dish of corn bread and spicy biscuits.  Bebe B adored the corn bread and kept asking for more.  I was glad to see the kids menu said “All kids meals are made from fresh, never frozen, whole ingredients and no preservatives are ever added.  Every kids meal is served with fresh vegetables and fruit salad.”  I decided to order Bebe B the Buttered Noodles and Parmesan, which was a bit of a mistake on my part.  She ate some of it but really wasn’t digging it.  I should have ordered her the mac and cheese because I know she would have adored that.  I tried her noodles and they were great, so I think it was just Bebe B exercising her new found toddler right to not like things.  I was also impressed with the “Gourmet Baby” item on the menu “A little sample of fresh baby tastes for the younger gourmands.  Small cut up fruit, veggies and cheese, with a little ramekin of tomato soup.”  I had to remind the waitress about the fruit and veggies but as soon as I asked she brought them right out to us.  Bebe B adored the little white bowl containing some celery strips, green pepper, strawberries and blueberries.  She ate almost all of it, even the green pepper which surprised me!  My food was excellent as well.  I ordered the lunch combo of salad and soup.  I had the truffled endive salad which can only be described with one word...heaven!  And the vegetable and rice soup of the day was fabulous, I shared some with Bebe B and she loved it.  She also polished off my sweet potato chips as well!



Overall a fabulous lunch out.  I am excited to go back as a family for their Sunday evening Family Night “Enjoy an elegant night out with your family. Liliana's is always a family-friendly restaurant, but we wanted to have a special evening where families would be especially comfortable dining. To make it just a little easier on the parents, on Sunday nights kids under 12 eat for free from our kid's menu (steaks excluded). For the adults looking to kick back a little, too, we also offer $4 Sangrias and $4 Mimosas. We hope dining with us on Sunday evenings will become one of your family's special traditions.”

The bottom line...Liliana’s is a restaurant with good homemade food, a place with class and elegance yet you will be very comfortable bringing your little ones to.  One big and one bebe thumbs up from us!

Footnote:  This is a completely unbiased review, I received no compensation for this review.  We paid for our meals ourselves.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Puree Monday - Aspara-cado

This recipe is a great veggie puree and a wonderful first food.  Even now Bebe B loves it.  It makes a great spread for tortillas, a wonderful dip for pretzels, a great mix in for scrambled eggs or a frittata...the list is endless.  In fact I used it as a base for a herb sauce I made for ravioli at last night’s dinner!  Also It’s pretty easy, which is always a plus.

Aspara-cado - 6 Month+
About 10-15 spears of asparagus (woody ends removed)
1 avocado

Steam the asparagus in either a steaming basket on the stove or in the Beaba babycook.  If using the babycook fill water to the 2 mark for a full basket.  If steaming on the stove use about 2 inches of water and steam for about 10 minutes.  They should be very soft but still bright green.  Allow the asparagus to cool to room temperature.   Slice the avocado(s) in half and twist apart, remove the seed and scoop the green goodness from the skin, it should be pretty soft but not brown. Puree avocado and asparagus together, you may need to add a touch of addition water if needed.  Purees can be as chunky as your baby is ready for- it’s up to you. This recipe will keep up to 2 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer.  This is a perfect one to freeze because it prevents the avocado from browning.  It will fill about 2 ice cube trays (10-20 servings).

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

Friday, August 6, 2010

Pumpkin Beet Marble Muffins

Here is a new recipe I created this week!  I was attempting to create a mini muffin that could use both the pumpkin puree and beet puree I had in the fridge.  I think they turned out fabulous and everyone in my house adored them (I have had 3 today already).  They are slightly sweet and very moist.  Kids will love helping to make these, I really hope you give them a try.

Pumpkin Beet Marble Muffins - 12 Months+
2/3 cup pumpkin puree (homemade or canned will work) (recipe below)
1/2 cup beet puree (recipe below)
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil (I used a vegetable oil) 
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/3 cup pure agave nectar
2 cups oat flour (pretty much any flour can be substituted)
1 tbsp flaxseed meal
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
pinch nutmeg

Preheat an oven or toaster oven to 400 degrees F.  Next light grease a muffin or mini muffin pan with butter or oil (I use Earth Balance).  Start by combining the flour, baking powder, flaxseed meal and salt in a medium bowl, then set aside.  In a separate bowl whisk together eggs, oil, yogurt and agave until well combined.  Add the egg mixture into the dry mixture stirring until well combined without over mixing.  Now split the batter in half (just eyeball it doesn’t need to be exact).  Fold in the pumpkin puree in to one half until combined and fold in the beet puree to the other half until combined.  Add the pinch of nutmeg to the pumpkin half of the batter.  Now fill muffin or mini muffin tins by rotating a spoonful of each batter.  If you really want a marbled look and you can use a toothpick to swirl the batter a touch.  Bake the muffins for about 15 minutes for mini muffins and 20 minutes for regular sized muffins.  This recipe makes about 30 mini muffins or 12 regular sized muffins.  If you use a different flour you may want to add a touch more agave since oat flour is slightly sweet, I took that in account when making the recipe.  You could also substitute honey for agave just keep in mind it is sweeter and you will not need as much.  PS. Beets are good for you!

This recipe is vegetarian.  

I also want to give a “Thank You” shout out the amazing new blog Raising Madison for their wonderful review of Bebe Meals.  This is a fabulous website full of helpful information for Madison parents, so check it out!

Beet Puree - 6M+
I large Beet

Preheat your oven or toaster oven to 400 degrees F.  Wash the beet well and place on a baking sheet(I suggest covering it in foil-beets stain).  Bake for about 50-60 minutes.  The beet should be very tender so it will puree easily.  Depending on the size of the beet I find cooking times vary so more baking time may be needed.  Allow the beet to cool, then remove the skin off the beet, sometimes a knife or vegetable peeler is the easiest way to get the skin off.  Next puree the beet in a food processor or Beaba babycook until you have a smooth consistency.  You may need to add a little water if you find it is too chunky.  Also keep in mind beets often take a bit longer to puree then other steamed/ baked vegetables so keep pureeing until you get the desired consistency.  This recipe will keep up to 3 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer.  It will fill about 1 ice cube tray (5-10 servings)

Pumpkin Puree - 6M+
1 small pumpkin
Slice the pumpkin in half, horizontally and scoop out the seeds, discard seeds. Lay the 2 halves on a lightly oiled (to prevent sticking) pan inside facing up, with about ¼ inch layer of water on pan.  Roast in a 350F degree oven for about 60-80 minutes (until tender).  Scoop out soft pumpkin from the skin and puree in a food processor or Beaba babycook until smooth. This recipe will keep up to 3 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer.  It will fill about 3 ice cube tray (15-30 servings).

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Homemade Yogurt Cheese

I have seen this posted on many blogs and recipes sites, that you can make cheese out of yogurt!  This was music to my ears since I’m mildly lactose intolerant, which means cheese is on my do not touch list.  Yogurt however has always agreed with me perfectly.  This is the recipe I created after a bit of trial and error and it works pretty well.  It’s so easy...and the result is a creamy “cream cheese” like texture.  My next step is to see if I can make a healthy version of a cheesecake with it!!  I promise to post the recipe if it turns out!  Bebe B loves this cheese as well, the perfect topping for finger foods!

Homemade Yogurt Cheese - 7 Months+

What you need: 
32 oz. Organic Plain Greek Yogurt 
A large bowl
A mesh strainer
A clean piece of cheesecloth or other loose weave fabric 
A rubber band or piece of string
This recipe is easy yet a little time consuming, so you will need to plan ahead with this one.  Start by setting the mesh strainer over the bowl and lining the strainer with the cloth.  Next pour/ scoop the yogurt into the cloth and let it sit for a couple minutes straining.  Then pull up the edges of the cloth tightly and secure with a rubber band.  Allow the yogurt in the cloth to hang over the bowl for about 3-4 hours (hanging it by the string or rubber band from a cabinet pull works well).  Whey will continue to drop into the bowl during this time and every so often give it a squeeze.  You will know it is down when little to know liquid comes out when you squeeze it.  The squeezing is something the kids will adore doing too.  Once the cheese is finished store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to about a week.  This extra creamy cheese is spreadable and perfect for snacks and lunches.  Try mixing in some herbs into the cheese like dill or rosemary for a different flavor.

Some of the Amazing Health Benefits:
Yogurt is very good for us, full of beneficial active cultures that can prevent unwanted bacteria from building up in the body. Yogurt is also loaded with nutrients such as calcium, protein, and vitamin B2.

People who are moderately lactose intolerant can often digest yogurt without a problem. The process of turning milk into yogurt transforms the lactose into lactic acid, which means your body doesn't have to process the sugars in the original milk product.

This recipe is vegetarian and gluten-free

Monday, August 2, 2010

Puree Monday - Butternut Tofu

    Here is a yummy puree that makes a great mix-in for oatmeal and is packed full of protein.  It’s so good make sure to save some for bebe!  You will want to gobble this one all up yourself, I know I do. 

Butternut Tofu - 7 Months+
1 cup Silken Tofu (NON-GMO)
1 cup Butternut squash puree
1 tsp Cinnamon (optional)
1 tsp Nutmeg (optional)
3 tbsp Crushed Whole Grain Cereal (optional)

     Slice the squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds, discard seeds. Lay the 2 halves on a lightly oiled (to prevent sticking) pan inside facing up, with about ¼ inch layer of water on pan.  Roast in a 350F degree oven for about 50 minutes (until tender).  Scoop out soft squash from the skin and puree in a food processor or Beaba babycook until smooth.   Allow to cool to at least room temperature.  Add in tofu and spices and puree until smooth and creamy.  Sprinkle with crushed cereal when serving. If your child has a soy allergy, plain Greek yogurt would be a wonderful replacement for the tofu. This recipe will keep up to 3 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer.  It will fill about 3 ice cube trays (15-30 servings)

Some of the Awesome Health Benefits:
-Squash is high in vitamins and calcium and very easy to digest.
-Tofu is a great source of iron, protein and calcium.
-Cinnamon offers nutritional benefits and preventative health advantages.
-Nutmeg: studies have shown it can stimulate the brain, relieving stress and stimulating mental activity.

This recipe is vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free (without cereal).