Monday, November 29, 2010

Puree Monday - Winter Pears

Hooray, it’s “Puree Monday” again!!  I find myself really looking forward to these posts every week.  I’m not sure if it’s simply revisiting all of Bebe B’s favorites or the onset of baby fever (yikes) but I sure do love it!  Today’s recipe is one that Bebe B loves.  Now she can feed herself sauces like this one (snif snif) even if she does get it everywhere.  Pears are one of those amazing fruits that are mild, unbinding, easy for little tummies to digest and packed full of nutritional goodness!  

Winter Pears - 6 Months+
5 large pears
water for steaming
3 tbsp winter squash puree
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tbsp pure vanilla or 1 vanilla bean (optional)

Clean, cut into quarters and remove the cores of the pears, leaving the skins on (this helps lock in the nutrients during steaming).  Steam the pears in either a steaming basket on the stove or in the Beaba babycook.  If using the babycook fill water to the 3 mark for a full basket of pears.  If using the stove add about 2-3 inches of water and the vanilla or vanilla bean to a saucepan then 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.  Let the pears cool till almost room temperature then remove the skins.  Unfortunately pear skins are a little trickier to remove than apple skins.  I usually use a knife or a spoon.  Puree the pears, squash, nutmeg, cloves and reserved cooking liquid (adding a little at a time to reach the desired consistency) in either a food processor or the babycook till creamy and 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 trays (15-30 servings).

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Eggnog Smoothies

If you are like me, then you cannot have winter holidays without eggnog!   So far I’ve already had eggnog lattes, eggnog bread and my favorite soynog...and it’s still November!  I created this recipe as a fun new way to enjoy eggnog... in a smoothie.  Eggnog is rich and can be pricey so it never goes very far.  This smoothie gives you the taste but stretches your eggnog supply a bit further.  Bebe B adored it, although I don't think she has met a smoothie she didn’t like yet.  I hope you give it a try!  

Eggnog Smoothie - 12 Months+
1 cup Greek Yogurt
2 tbsp creamy almond butter (room temperature)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup organic eggnog or soynog
1/4 cup almond or soy milk

Add all of the ingredients to a blender.  Whizz it up until a creamy smoothie texture is reached.  You can add more or less of the milk depending on how thick or thin you like it.   This recipes makes about 3 smoothies. Enjoy!! 

This recipe is vegetarian and gluten-free. (For gluten-free be sure to double check that the eggnog brand doesn’t contain wheat, it’s rare but some brands may contain it)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Twisted Beet Cookies (a.k.a. Candy Cane Cookies)

Growing up my grandmother would ALWAYS make candy cane cookies, every year at the Holidays.  You know the ones that look like candy canes but are a cookie...oh how I loved them.  So soft, sweet, minty and pretty!  So some time ago I set out to re-do the traditional recipe into a healthier version free from refined sugar and artificial coloring.  It took a bit of experimenting but I have got it just right!  In fact we recently made them in one of my Petit Chef cooking classes and all of the kids left blissfully exclaiming how good they were.  In fact I plan to make them again on Friday...just because.  

Twisted Beet Cookies - 12 Months+
¾ cup unsalted butter or Earth Balance (room temp)
1/2 cup Organic sugar
¼ cup Organic Powdered sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp pure peppermint extract
1 tsp pure vanilla
3 cups flour
¼ cup beet puree (recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 375F degrees.  Cream together butter and sugars in a large bowl.  Add the egg and beat the mixture well.  Next mix in the vanilla and the peppermint extracts.  Slowly add the flour until a thick cookie dough is formed.  Divide the dough in half, leaving half the dough in one bowl and the other half in another.  Into one half mix the peppermint water until a soft dough is reached.  To the other half mix in the beet puree until a soft, red dough is formed.  Allow the dough  to chill in the fridge for at least 10 minutes. Using about a tbsp of each dough roll out 4 inch ropes and twist them together to make the shape of a candy cane.  Bake the cookies on an un-greased cookie sheet for about 8-10 minutes.  They should be firm but not brown.  This recipes makes about 25 cookies.  These cookies can be frozen for up to a month.  This recipe is vegetarian and can be gluten free is you substitute rice flour.

Beet Puree
1 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 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)

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

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Re-mix

Every year when my family gets together, no matter we plan, we always have leftovers after our Thanksgiving meal...A LOT of leftovers.  So this year I decided to think ahead and come up with some easy recipes that I could re-mix some of the Thanksgiving leftovers in a fun new way.  Here is what I came up with!!  So far all hits with Bebe B (especially the sage stuffing muffins).  Then on Friday I’ll put them to the test with our real leftovers.  Happy Thanksgiving all!

Cran-Almond Gobblers
  • Ingredients (per sandwich):
  • 1 english muffin
  • 1 tbsp semi-soft cheese or Yogurt Cheese
  • A few pieces of leftover turkey
  • 1 tbsp leftover cranberry sauce
  • 1 tbsp sliced almonds

Start by slicing your english muffin.  One one side spread with the cranberry sauce and sprinkle with almonds.  On the other side top with turkey pieces, then smear the cheese onto the turkey.  Toast in the toaster oven (or in a 350 degree oven) for a few minutes.  Serve warm.  I made Bebe B’s with cheese and mine with the yogurt cheese but I am positive Tofutti cream cheese would work great too and make it dairy-free.  I used deli turkey but cannot wait to try them out with our leftover thanksgiving turkey!  

Cranberry Hummus
  • 1/2 cup whole berry cranberry sauce (canned or homemade)
  • 1 can white northern beans (no salt added)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped green onion
  • 1 tsp orange juice 
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 glove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)

Drain off some of the liquid in the cranberry sauce (if necessary) by pouring it into a mesh strainer.  Next add the cranberry sauce and the rest of the ingredients to a food processor.  Puree till a smooth and creamy texture is reached.  This is a sweet and savory dip perfect for veggies, pretzels and crackers.  Also makes a great spread on sandwiches.  This recipe is vegetarian, dairy-free and gluten-free.  

Sage Stuffing Muffins
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter or Earth Balance
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • ½ cup chopped yellow onions
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh sage
  • 1 small loaf of multi-grain bread, cubed 
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • ½ cup dried cherries
  • ½ cup chopped pecans 


  • 3 cups of any leftover stuffing
  • 3 tbsp water 
For this version skip step 1!

Preheat the oven to 375F degrees.  Step 1: This first part of the recipe uses the stovetop and will need to be done by or with the help of an adult.  Sauté the celery, onions and butter in a large skillet over medium heat, for about 5 minutes.  Add the sage and salt and cook for about 2 more minutes.  Add the cherries, stock and milk and warm on medium heat for about 5 minutes.  In a large bowl whisk the eggs until well beat.  Next fold in the bread crumbs and pecans until combined. Pour the mixture from the stove into the large bowl and combine well.  Allow the stuffing mixture to sit for a few minutes. Step 2: If using leftover stuffing simply mix it in a large bowl with water to re-moisten.  Scoop the stuffing into lined (or lightly buttered) muffin tins.  Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes.  The muffins should be firm and the tops should be golden brown.    This recipes makes about 12 muffins.  These muffins can be frozen for up to a month.  

Monday, November 22, 2010

Puree Monday - Thanksgiving Trio

I have a very special Puree Monday for you today!!  In honor of the Thanksgiving (usa) holiday this week, I have created an entire bebe food feast!   Here are three recipes perfect to give your bebe or toddler on thanksgiving.  With all of the soft food we tend to have on Thanksgiving (i.e. stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberries, etc) I know it’s temping to let your bebes try some but most of the food we prepare (even healthy versions) are much higher in salt (sodium) and sugars then we would want for those tiny tummies.  Here is three recipes that are sure to please tiny taste buds on Thanksgiving or any day!  

Cranberry Turkey Delight

Cranberry Turkey Delight - 7 Months+
1-2 boneless skinless turkey breasts
1/3 cup water
additional water or Bebe Stock 
1 very ripe pear
1/2 cup whole fresh cranberries, rinsed
2 tsp pure orange juice
1 tbsp fresh rosemary (finely chopped)

Cut turkey into medium sized chunks.  Bake the turkey 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 turkey it helps to keep it covered partially with a lid or foil, preventing it from drying out.  Allow the cooked turkey to cool while you prepare the cranberries.  Add 1/3 cup water and the orange juice to a medium saucepan and bring just to a boil, reduce heat to medium and add the cranberries.  Allow the cranberries to cook for about 10 minutes (uncovered) stirring occasionally.  Stir in the rosemary and remove from heat.  Allow the cranberries to cool for at least 5 minutes.  Peal and slice the pear.  Add the cooked turkey, cranberry sauce and pear slices to a food processor or Beaba babycook and puree until you reach the desired consistency for your bebe.  You may need to add some additional liquid such as water or Bebe Stock.   Serve warm!  This recipe will keep for up to 2 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 Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free.

Whipped Cauliflower and Asiago 

Whipped Cauliflower and Asiago Puree - 7 Months+
1 head of fresh cauliflower
1 tbsp unsalted butter or non-hydrogenated spread such as Earth Balance
1 cup shredded asiago cheese
1 tsp ground sage
1 tsp nutmeg
Water for steaming
Breast Milk if necessary

Clean cauliflower well and cut into small to medium size florets. Steam the florets 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 cauliflower florets.  If steaming on the stove use about 1-2 inch of water and steam for about 10-12 minutes.  Allow the cauliflower to cool to for at least 5 minutes then puree with the butter, asiago cheese, sage and nutmeg till a smooth and creamy consistency is reached.  You may need to add a little Breast Milk or water depending on the texture you desire. 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 Vegetarian and Gluten-free.

Bebe Sweet Potato Pie

Bebe Sweet Potato Pie Puree - 7 Months+
1 large sweet potato
water for cooking
1 tsp pure vanilla
1/2 a RIPE banana, sliced
1 tsp unsalted butter or non-hydrogenated spread such as Earth Balance 
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Start by pealing and cubing the sweet potato.  Add the sweet potato to a medium saucepan and fill with water about halfway.  Add the vanilla.  Heat on medium high till boiling , then continue to cook another 10 minutes or so until the sweet potato is soft.  Drain the sweet potato cubes and allow to cool to almost room temperature.  Puree the sweet potatoes with the rest if the ingredients (except the crushed cereal) until a creamy texture is reached.  I like to put a layer of crushed cereal on the bottom of the serving bowl then top it with a touch of yogurt and more crushed cereal. This recipe will keep up to 2 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer.  It will fill about 3 ice cube trays (15-30 servings).  

This recipe is Vegetarian and Gluten-Free.

Happy Thanksgiving Bebes!!!!  
PS. More holiday recipes for the whole family coming this week.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Apple Pie Bars

I recently did some experimenting with store purchased puff pastry dough (also called phillo dough ).  It took me a long time to find a dough that wasn’t stuffed full of fillers like corn syrup and hydrogenated oils but when I did it was so worth it because I made a lot of different creations from it.  Here was one of my fun pie that you don’t need a fork to eat!  I made these to take to Bebe B’s music class and they were a hit...with bebes and grown-ups alike.  

Apple Pie Bars - 12 Months+
1 pkg Organic Puff Pastry (I use The Fillo Factory brand 
available at many Whole Foods Markets)
4-5 Granny Smith apples (peeled and sliced)
3 tbsp organic brown sugar
3 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1-2 tbsp butter or Earth Balance (melted)

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.  Make sure your puff pastry dough is thawed (according to package directions).  Next in a medium bowl combine the apple slices, sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Then coat the bottom and sides of a medium glass baking dish with some of the melted butter.  Then top with three or four sheets of the pastry dough, you may have to trim it to fit just right in your baking dish.  Add about half of the apple mixture and cover with another couple sheets of pastry dough.  Top with the rest of the apples and cover with another three or four layers of pastry dough.  Brush the top with the remaining butter.  Bake for about 35-40 minutes.  Make sure to set a timer and check the bars at least once or twice...if the top is getting darker then you like cover with foil for the remainder for the cooking time.  Allow the bars to cool completely before cutting them (they need time to set up a bit).  Store them in the fridge for up to 3 or 4 days.  ENJOY!!! 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Harvest: Restaurant Review (Date Night)

When I first started doing restaurant reviews I promised I would include some date night choices.  Well we haven’t had a “date” since March!  Till last week for Dee’s birthday that is.  Once Bebe B was fed, bathed and playing happily with her aunt we headed out for some grown-up time...and what better way then a fancy schmansy place that doesn't have food on the floor!!  We both have been wanting to try Harvest for some time now.  Between the glowing reviews and the fabulous concept...we had to check it out.  The Harvest Philosophy (as per their website)  “Our inspiration is drawn from French and American cuisines, spotlighting locally grown, organic ingredients.”

They have an evolving seasonal menu that truly takes advantage of some of the local treasures in the area.  First off you will not be disappointed by the atmosphere.  It fully fit the upscale profile...our coats were taken at the door and the low lighting gave a soft and cozy glow to the restaurant (although it didn’t help my attempt to snap some shots for you with my phone).  The view was great, right on the square.  Our server was friendly, professional and knowledgable.  The food was excellent.  The wine selection was fabulous!  Our server even (no questions asked) exchanged our bottle of wine after there was a slight mix-up between what we ordered and received.  Before our entrees arrived our server even brought out a little complimentary taste of an AMAZING, WISH YOU HAD MORE potato and leek soup.  I managed to snap a shot of the cute little soup cup (above) but I had already slurped all the soup down.  For the first course I had an amazing butternut squash soup.  It was creamy, rich and melted in your mouth.  

Dee had the grilled marinated squid, which he not so much but I’m not huge squid fan to start with.  For our main course Dee had the wild Alaskan cod and I had the roasted breast of chicken with wild rice, squash, pumpkin seeds and parsley oil.  WON-DER-FUL!!  For dessert Dee had the special , a corn pudding that is hard to describe but was so delicious.  I had the chocolate cake.  Oh so good!

Over all one amazing meal!  I hadn’t even realized how much Dee had enjoyed it until we were leaving and the host asked us how everything had been, to which Dee replied “Wonderful, I have recently eaten in some very nice places in NYC and Las Vegas and you guys blew them all away” (Dee travels for work often).  The prices are that of an upscale gourmet restaurant so it’s not the type of place most of us with little ones go very often but if your like us and don’t get too many chances for “date nights” I say go for it...because it is worth it.  Plus you can feel good about the food and knowing where it came from.  Wishing you all happy date nights!

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

Harvest is located at 21 N Pickney St, Madison, WI 53703

Monday, November 15, 2010

Puree Monday - Brocco-cado

Puree Monday is back!!  I took last week off from posting to manage my busy week...hubby’s birthday and sister’s baby shower.  This is one of my favorite purees to make.  It’s easy and so versatile.  When Bebe B was first eating solids I would mix it in with some rice cereal or pureed cooked rice and she adored.  We still make it a lot in our house and have it mixed in with noodles and make our scrambled “green” eggs with it often.

2 cups broccoli (fresh or frozen thawed)
2 tsp nutmeg
1-2 ripe avocado(s)

Clean and chop the fresh broccoli.  Steam the broccoli 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 veggies.  If steaming on the stove use about 2 inches of water and steam for about 10 minutes, checking with a knife every so often to see if the broccoli is tender enough. It should be very soft but still green.  If using frozen broccoli the steaming time may vary so watch closely.  Reserve the cooking liquid.  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.  Add the avocado and puree together with the broccoli and nutmeg.  You may want to add a touch of the reserved cooking liquid if needed to reach the desired consistency.  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.  This recipe also makes the perfect addition to toddler meals –wonderful with noodles or scrambled with eggs.  This recipe will fill about 3 ice cube trays (15-30 servings). 

Some of the Amazing Health Benefits:
  • -Broccoli is rich on Vitamin C, Fiber and Calcium.
  • - Avocados are a wonderful "good fat" food for baby's brain and physical development. They contain valuable nutrients including folate, fiber, potassium, vitamin E; and iron. 
  • -Nutmeg: studies have shown it can stimulate the brain, relieving stress and stimulating mental activity.

This recipe is vegan and gluten-free.  

Thursday, November 4, 2010

PB & J Biscuits

This is a brand new recipe I created last week.  I was inspired to find some fun new ways to dish up PB & J, a classic kid friendly food.  It took me a few tries to get it right...the first batch was a bit dry and crumbly.  After a little tweaking here and there I am positive I’ve got it just right!  Bebe B and I gobbled these up with a nice glass of almond milk....ahh so yummy and comforting all at once.  

PB & J Biscuits - 12 Months+
1 cup oat flour (plus extra for dusting)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon 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 milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1-2 tbsp almond milk
2 tbsp natural peanut butter (any nut butter will do)
4 or 5 strawberries (hulled and chopped)
pinch cinnamon

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 the buttermilk 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 1/4 inch thick. Cut little biscuits out with any cookie cutters you like.  We are on a car kick lately and have been using our car cookie cutter for everything.  Each biscuit will need two identical cut-outs. Place one biscuit layer on un-greased baking sheet.  In the middle add about a tsp of peanut butter and a tsp of chopped strawberries, then top with another biscuit layer.  Pinch the edges together with your fingers to help the biscuits stay together. Brush the tops of biscuits with almond milk and a touch of cinnamon.  Bake about 9-10 minutes.  This recipe makes about 7-8 biscuits depending on the size of cookie cutter. Biscuits can be stored in an airtight container in fridge for 3 days or freezer for 3 months.  This recipe is vegetarian.  It could be vegan by substituting a non-hydrogenated vegetable spread for butter.  This recipe can be gluten free by substituting gluten free flour.

After I took pictures of these I started to think about “Uncrustables” a processed frozen version of a PB & J.  I can see the appeal to’s easy and your kids will eat it but...Here is the list of ingredients.  Hmm, I think I’ll stick with my version and keep them in the freezer for easy access!


Monday, November 1, 2010

Puree Monday - Blackberry Banana Parfait

This is a great recipe with a bit of dimension yet still easy to make!  It’s also one of those recipes that grown with your bebe.  Blackberries are low in allergy risk so unlike some other berries they can be introduced before age one.  Bebe B first had this recipe at eight months and is still loving it today.  She loves to dip graham crackers in it too.  I have been perfecting a recipe for homemade (gluten-free) graham crackers that I will share soon.  Happy Feeding!

Blackberry Banana Parfaits - 7 Months+
1 cup fresh or frozen blackberries (thawed)
1/2 a banana
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp brown rice cereal (optional)

     Puree banana in a food processor or Beaba babycook until smooth.  Remove half of the pureed banana and reserve.  Add the blackberries, nutmeg and cinnamon to the food processor (with half the banana puree already in it) and puree till smooth.  A bit if the berry skin will remain, if you choose you can push through a sieve to remove, this will make the puree very thin like a sauce.  In a small bowl combine yogurt and the reserved banana puree with a soon until blended.  In a small cup alternate layers of yogurt mixture and berry mixture.  If desired crush up some of the cereal and top the parfait.  This recipe will keep up to 2 days in the fridge or up to 3 months in the freezer. .  Will fill about 3 ice cube tray (15-30 servings) 

WARNING: This recipe has been know to lead to messy faces!