Monday, September 27, 2010

Puree Monday - Spiced Applesauce

This is such a wonderful recipe...simple and perfect.  A recipe everyone will love from little bebes to grown-ups!  The Macintosh apples make for a wonderfully creamy sauce.  Garam Masala is a spice mix traditionally used in Indian cooking.  It’s a fabulous blend of cumin, cinnamon, cloves and black peppercorns and can be found in most grocery stores and food shops.  This recipe is a perfect combination of America and India...just like Bebe B!

Spiced Applesauce- 6 months+
5-6 Macintosh Apples
Water for steaming
2 whole cloves (optional)
1 tsp Garam Masala

   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 minutes (as your child gets used to chunkier textures less steaming time will be needed). Reserve half of the cooking liquid.  While the cooking liquid is still hot add the Garam Masala and cloves, cover and set aside.  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.  Remove the cloves from the cooking liquid.  Puree the apples and spiced cooking liquid in either a food processor or the babycook till the desired consistency is reached. 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).

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

Monday, September 20, 2010

Puree Monday - Sweet Potato Pasta

Here is a great puree for bebes that are doing great on smooth purees and ready for some chunkier food.  It’s also a perfect fall recipe...not much says fall like sweet potatoes...well maybe apple and pumpkin but we will get to those!  I decided to show a picture this time of what the puree looks like frozen.  I froze these cubes using the Beaba Multi-Portion, a silicone tray with a lid and seven 1/4 cup size potions.  In fact a have fresh batch of applesauce in it in the freezer right now. This recipe, once again, also makes a great toddler meal.  Bebe B loves it spread on a tortilla and sprinkled with cheese! 

Sweet Potato Pasta - 9 Months+
1 large sweet potato
½ cup orzo pasta or rice pasta
1 tbsp fresh rosemary (finely chopped)
½ tsp nutmeg

Roast a large sweet potato on a lightly oiled (to prevent sticking) pan in a 350F degree oven for about 50-65 minutes.  Make sure you poke a few holes in the potato with a fork before roasting.  While the potato is in the oven cook the pasta according to package directions, drain, cover and set aside. Cut in to the potato to ensure it is soft inside.  Allow it to cool for about 15 minutes then scoop the insides out of the skin and puree in a food processor or in the Beaba babycook until smooth.  Add pasta, rosemary and nutmeg and puree until you reach the consistency desired for your bebe.  You may need to add some breast milk or formula as well. This recipe will fill about 2-3 regular ice cube trays (10-20 servings). This recipe will keep up to 3 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer.

This recipe is vegan, dairy-free and can be gluten-free if you use a gluten-free rice pasta.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Farmer's Market Biscuits

I named these biscuits after I came home from the farmer’s market one week this summer with an amazing block of organic cheddar cheese and some perfect mild peppers, determined to make something out of them, this what I came up with.  And man oh man are they good.  Not to mention fun and a perfect recipe for cooking with your bebes and kids!!

Farmer’s Market Biscuits - 11 Months+
1 1/2 cup flour (plus extra for dusting)
1/2 teaspoons organic sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
3 1/2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small chunks
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup chopped mild pepper 
1 cup cheddar (shredded)

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl. If using a sifter you may need to push organic sugar through as it is a bit courser.  Next add the butter and use your fingers (if you have a pastry cutter you can use that too) to work butter into the flour until you have a course meal, with pieces no larger then pea size.  Add the vinegar to the milk and allow it to sit for a couple minutes, to make buttermilk.  Stir in most of the buttermilk (reserving about 1 tbsp), cheese and peppers, just until mixed.

Knead dough briefly on a lightly floured surface, just until it holds together. Coat a rolling pin with flour and roll out the dough to about 1/3 inch thick. Cut little biscuits out with any cookie cutters you like.  Bebe B’s favorites shapes to make are teddy bear and star. Place biscuits on un-greased baking sheets. Brush the tops of biscuits with remaining buttermilk and bake until biscuits are golden, 10 minutes.   They make a wonderful side to a hearty soup or jambalaya. 

This recipe is vegetarian.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Funky Monkey Cakes

Alright all you monkeys out there...this recipe is for you!  If you are like me and love the taste of banana but hate the texture of eating them raw this is a great way to have bananas.  This is a fun recipe for breakfast or any time of the day really.  I made these not long ago and now Bebe B wakes up each day saying “ask mama pancakes”!  Luckily they freeze great so I wrap them in wax paper and seal them in an airtight container in the freezer.  Making it a snap to have pancakes for breakfast any morning...even when we are in a hurry and on the go.

Funky Monkey Cakes - 12 Months+
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 cup whole wheat pancake mix 
1 egg 
1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 cup plain Greek Yogurt
pinch nutmeg

1/2 tbsp natural peanut butter 
1 tbsp pure maple syrup

Whisk together egg and milk, yogurt and mashed banana.  Stir in the pancake mix and nutmeg until combined.   Cook the pancakes on medium heat using either a griddle or frying pan.  I usually coat the pan with a little olive oil to prevent sticking.  Flip them over once you see bubbles popping up in the center of the cake.  Combine the peanut butter and syrup to make a fun dip or spread.  makes about 6-7 pancakes depending on the size.  Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or freezer for 3 months.  

This recipe is vegetarian.  It can be dairy-free if you omit yogurt or substitute with dairy-free yogurt. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Easy Veggie Stock

I love this recipe because it really is so easy!  Vegetable stock is one of those things that is used in so many recipes but having it ready, made and on hand isn’t always easy.  This stock I make in the crock pot over night and freeze in cubes so I have it on hand when I need it.  This is great stock option to add to your purees and bebe food as it doesn’t use root vegetables like potatoes that can be a bit too high in nitrates for your baby in a concentrated stock form.  I have created this recipe to work with my small (2.5 quart) crock pot but it could easily be adapted for a larger crock pot and a bigger batch.  I plan to try out a recipe I found for Ethiopian Stew later this week using my homemade veggie stock!

Easy Veggie - 6 Month+
1 cup of peeled and chopped carrots
1/2 a small-medium yellow onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 a gala apple, cored and sliced
10 fresh green beans
1/4 of a green bell pepper, sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1-2 tbsp rosemary sprigs (pulled from the woody parts)
6-7 fresh sage leaves
1 fresh bay leaf
a few black peppercorns
4-6 cups water

Add all of the ingredients to the crock pot except the water and allow them to warm on high for about 3-5 minutes.  Next add the water, enough to cover all of the vegetables and fill the crock pot (a 2.5 quart size).  Cover and allow to cook for another 5 minutes on high.  Then reduce heat to low and allow the stock to cook overnight (or at least 5 hours).  Be prepared for your house to smell fabulous when you wake up!  Next, simply strain the stock from the veggies through a mesh strainer, reserving the liquid.  Store  the stock in an airtight container for up to a week in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer.  You can also puree the leftover veggies, you will want to remove the apple skins, rosemary sprigs and bay leaf first.  It would make a great mix-in for other steamed or fresh vegetable purees or grains.  I definitely wouldn’t recommend cooking all of your vegetables and fruits for purees this way though, as much of the nutrients have leeched into the stock.  

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

Monday, September 6, 2010

Puree Monday - Banana Beet Oatmeal

     As fall approaches and winter waves in our direction it’s time to start thinking about hearty warm breakfasts.  The kind that make you want to start your day and head out into the world no matter the weather.  And what could be better for that than oatmeal?!  For this recipe, I no longer run the oats through the food processor first, Bebe B is used to the chunky texture now.  One of her favorite ways to have this recipe is if I swirl in the pink puree or draw a heart with it in her oatmeal.  I recently made this recipe in my First Tastes: Adventures in Baby Food Making class and pureed the cooked oats, banana and cooked beet all together: which is another great way to make this recipe for bebes just starting out with solid food, new tastes and textures!

Banana-Beet Oatmeal - 8 Months+
1 medium beet
1 banana (peeled and sliced)
1 cup Rolled Oats (plain)
½ tsp nutmeg
2 cups water

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 run the rolled oats through a food processor, coffee grinder or the Beaba babycook for a smoother consistency. In a saucepan, bring water and nutmeg to a boil.  Stir in the rolled oats and reduce the heat to medium low heat.  Once the oats begin to simmer turn the heat off and cover.  Allow the oatmeal to stand about 15 minutes while you prepare the rest of the recipe. Next puree the beet  and banana together in a food processor or babycook until you have a smooth consistency.  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.  Lastly mix in the beet and banana puree into the oatmeal.  Serve warm.  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)  

This recipe is vegan, dairy-free and can be gluten-free, be sure to check your oats to be sure they are gluten-free (many oats are contaminated with gluten but gluten-free oats are available for sale).

Friday, September 3, 2010

Cool Beans: Restaurant Review

Honestly, I’m getting a little burnt out on restaurant reviews.  Maybe the bar has simply been set high, maybe my exceptions are simply too high. Lately, I seem to be disappointed and frustrated again and again in my attempts to find a place to review.  It is a reoccurring theme that we find a place where the adult menu is creative, healthy...inspired and the kid’s menu is...blah!  I keep telling Dee if someone would open a place in this town where they took equal time developing the adult menu and the children’s menu they could clean-up!  Which brings me to my review for the week, a bit of a let down to be honest. 

I decided Bebe B and I would check out Cool Beans for lunch.  It is a coffee shop/ cafe located on the East side of town near the mall.  I hadn’t been there in years (since the study group days back in college) and remembered they had a kid’s play area.  I hadn’t looked up the menu ahead of time since it was a last minute decision, which may have also contributed to my disappointment.  I’ll start with the kid’s area.  It was a nice little size and had some toys.  I could see a little effort might go a long ways in shaping it up a bit but overall it was nice that they had it and it was clean.  The cafe itself is cute and gives off a cozy vibe.  As for the menu, there were plenty of healthy options for adults, I decided to go with a salad (which was very good).  The kid’s menu had two choices: grilled cheese (american cheese on white) and Peanut butter and Jelly on white, both priced at $3.49.  I noticed the grilled cheese was also listed on the adult menu but served with real cheese and multigrain bread.  Um, hello?  The person taking my order was very nice and answered all my questions.  He said they could substitute any bread and cheese on the grilled cheese so I was able to order Bebe B provolone on whole wheat bread, I tasted a tiny bite and it was good.  Bebe B like it too.  The two kid’s items on the menu came with goldfish crackers, which no longer use artificial color or flavors.  I would have loved to see it come with baby carrots or fruit though.  Bebe B wasn’t interested in them at all though.  Also the meal came with juice.  Bebe B doesn’t drink juice and the juice was not organic.  They also carry chocolate and 2 % milk, also not organic (Kemps).  To be comprehensive I asked about the Peanut butter and jelly.  Neither where natural or organic, the jelly was Smuckers.  Bebe B and I ended up splitting a smoothie which of course made her over the moon happy.  We opted for the blue cow which was blueberries, peaches, apple juice and honey but we had it without the honey.  It was plenty sweet and I think the honey would have been a bit much.  

Just to note I looked up the ingredients in the Kemps chocolate milk and the Smuckers Jelly: 


Over all this place has major potential, in my opinion.  It’s already a local restaurant in a great location.  It has a kid’s area that with a little sprucing would be great!  What I would love to see them do is add in more local and organic foods and make the items on the kid’s menu fun and healthy.  A little creativity goes a long way.   I’m not saying it isn’t a good option for parents ever, it’s certainly healthier than some other lunch options but I really think they could do so much better.  But maybe that isn’t really important to them right now.  Bebe B was the only child in the cafe, while we were there, but it was certainly busy with customers sipping coffee and typing away at their computers.  Another lesson to take away from this review is always ask about substitutions.  They had no problem changing the bread and cheese in Bebe B’s sandwich so I’m glad I asked.  I wish I could do better but I can only give Cool Beans half a thumbs up but they have potential for more...they really do.


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

Cool Beans is located at 1748 Eagan Rd, Madison, WI 53704 Madison, WI 53715