Another easy baby-approved meal. Bacon for the win. Quiches and pies are fall favorites around here. (Bacon fat + pie crust = maybe not the healthiest meal, but M needs some more baby fat rolls before I worry about that.)
“Sheesche? Sheesche?” Madeline couldn’t wait long enough for me to snap a photo before demanding a piece to eat. Hence the missing wedge.
- 3/4 lb bacon (lower sodium preferred for baby), cut in 1-inch pieces
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- dash of cayenne pepper
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/3 to 1/2 lb shredded gruyere cheese
- 9-inch pie crust in a pie pan
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Over medium-low heat, fry the bacon until crisp. Drain off fat as needed, leaving 2-3 tablespoons in the pan. Remove bacon and place on paper towels to drain.
- Add onions to the fat in the pan and brown over medium-low heat, about 20-30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, pierce holes or slits (use a fork or knife) in the pie crust bottom. Bake the pie crust for 5 minutes and remove from oven.
- In a separate bowl, beat eggs, milk, salt and pepper together until blended.
- Layer ingredients in the pie shell as follows:
- At the bottom, place 3/4 of the cheese and spread evenly.
- Spread a layer of half the bacon, then half the onions, and repeat with the other half of bacon and onions.
- Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
- Pour the egg mixture over all the ingredients to fill the pie pan enough to just cover the top layer of cheese. If needed, add another egg blended with 1/2 cup of milk.
- Bake quiche for 30 minutes or until center is set.
This recipe is my version of the meatball-egg noodle dish, adapted from recipes from the Fannie Farmer cookbook, The Dirty Dish Club and Food.com. After some initial skepticism, Madeline approved. This one might become a cold-weather staple.
Swedish Meatballs (or, Meatballs with Egg Noodles in a Sour Cream Sauce)
- 12 oz wide egg noodles
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter, divided into 1 tbsp each for the meatballs, sauce and noodles, plus more as needed for the sauce
- 2 tsp chopped fresh parsley, divided into 1 tsp for the meatballs and 1 tsp for the noodles, plus more for optional garnish
- about 1.25 lb ground beef, pork and veal (sold at our grocery store as “meatloaf mix”)
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup minced onion
- 1/4 cup finely shredded carrot
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 cup flour for dredging
- 2 tbsp olive oil for frying
- 1/2 large onion, minced
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 2.5-3 cups beef or vegetable broth
- 1 cup sour cream
- Meatballs (start the mix several hours ahead or the day before):
- In a large bowl, combine the ground meat, breadcrumbs, egg, onion, carrot, garlic, sugar, salt, pepper, and 1 tsp parsley. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
- Form 1-inch meatballs, dredge them in flour to coat all over, and set aside. I spray my hands with a bit of cooking spray to prevent them from getting too sticky.
- In a large pan, melt 1 tbsp butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Lightly brown the meatballs on all sides and remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the pan. The meatballs do not need to be cooked through at this point. Unless your pan is very large, this step will probably require working in batches.
- With the pan on medium-low heat, add the minced onion to the pan and caramelize the onions, about 20 minutes. You can start the noodles while you are waiting.
- Combine the flour, paprika, onion powder, sugar, ginger, nutmeg, pepper, and cloves in a small bowl and set aside.
- Add 1 tbsp butter to the pain and stir to melt.
- Add the flour mixture to the melted fat and onions and stir quickly to form a roux. If the fat seems too scant for the amount of dry ingredients, add more butter. Continue stirring the roux for 2 minutes.
- Add the broth, stir well, and bring to a bubble.
- Add the meatballs, cover the pan, and reduce the heat, allowing the meatballs to cook through.
- Once the meatballs are cooked, turn the heat very low so that the sauce is not bubbling. (High temperature might cause the sour cream to curdle.) Stir in the sour cream and turn off the heat. Continue stirring to mix well.
- Noodles: Prepare the egg noodles according to their directions. Drain most of the water and return the noodles to their pot. Toss with 1 tbsp butter and 1 tsp parsley.
- Assembly: Place noodles on serving dish. Spoon sauce and meatballs over the noodles. Garnish with a bit of chopped fresh parsley.
Mama’s primary accomplishment on this cloudy drizzly day:
These are for Madeline’s class party on Friday. Amazing things get done when mommy has the day off! Between the pumpkin puree and the reduced amount of sugar (compared to regular chocolate chip cookies), these treats qualify for nutritious snacks in my book.
The recipe is from Very Best Baking:
Iced Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 15 oz. pumpkin puree
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 12 oz. (2 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- vanilla glaze:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 to 1 1/2 tbsp milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- PREHEAT oven to 375° F. Grease baking sheets.
- COMBINE flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Beat butter and sugar in large mixer bowl until creamy. Beat in pumpkin, eggs and vanilla extract. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets.
- BAKE for 15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
- FOR VANILLA GLAZE: COMBINE powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract in small bowl; mix well. Drizzle or spread glaze on cookies.
I have been cataloging food that I make for Madeline (and often end up eating myself). Before I go much further, I want to point out my two favorite baby food recipe books thus far in our short tenure of parenthood:
- The Wholesome Baby Food Guide, by Maggie Meade. I didn’t do much by way of purees for Madeline, but the recipes in the book’s latter chapters are finger-friendly and great. I also love the handy chart of age-based food introduction that you can print for yourself! It lived on our fridge for a while. Also, the book provides guidelines on freezing/storing food, which have been a huge help for planning and cooking daycare-friendly meals.
- The Baby-Led Weaning Cookbook, by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett. I love that they clarify the meaning of “wean” as in the Brit sense 🙂 We’ve made some great dishes from this book that are suitable for all of us — Chris just adds salt and he’s good to go.
Whenever I cook, I tend to adapt recipes to my preference (and figure out shortcuts when I can…). So, the primary purpose of cataloging recipes here is to create a reference of favorites for myself. For example, I adapted Maggie’s Zucchini & Carrot Fritters recipe to make Madeline’s vegetable fritters.
It’s worth mentioning how I decided on these two books as my favorites. First, I went to the library and got a bunch of baby food cookbooks. I realized quickly that we are not a puree family — I much prefer to mash soft foods for her. Another nuance is that we did not start solids until she was well into 6 months of age. We offered her mashed avocado, but she made it clear she wanted the chicken breast on my plate — so I cut up the chicken in tiny pieces and she did just fine. I realized I needed some baby-friendly cookbooks with recipes that actually resembled adult food, and these two made the cut. I love being able to make a large batch of food that not only appeal to baby but also can feed me! So I often cook a meal that we all eat, and then I portion out leftovers for the next few days in the fridge and for daycare in the freezer (in units via an ice cube tray or this baby food tray). I’m not saying that making your own baby food is easy, but I do think that if you want to do it, you can find strategies to optimize the fruits of your labor.
The recipes in these books have been a great source of inspiration as I experiment in the kitchen. If you like to cook, as I do, they are worth perusing.
We didn’t start giving Madeline sweets until her first birthday. (My reservation had less to do with dietary habits and more with fear of taxing her pancreas. No science, just irrational mommy fear.) She’s generally game for a variety of foods although she does have her picky days. She has never turned down these, though. Baked or fried, Madeline loves her vegetable fritters.
fried vegetable fritters with sweet potato and zucchini
- If baking, grease baking sheet and preheat oven to 350 deg F.
- Combine the eggplant, zucchini, onion, and garlic. Stir in the first half-cup of flour and mix well.
- Add the eggs and milk, and stir well. Add the remaining flour and stir until the batter is smooth (aside from the vegetables).
- Season with onion powder, garlic salt and black pepper to your liking; mix well.
- Proceed to (A.) to bake or (B.) to fry.
- The batter consistency varies with the type and quantity of vegetable, so you might want to add another 1/4 cup of flour if your batter seems too runny to stay put on the cookie sheet. Spoon out the batter onto the baking sheet in strips about 1 inch wide. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the strips are golden and the batter is set. When cool, cut the strips into short segments so baby can pick them up and munch.
fritters on the baking sheet, ready for the oven
- Heat your frying fat over medium high (I like to use olive oil with a tbsp of butter for flavor). Spoon out the batter into the oil in fritters 2-3 inches long. Fry them about 5 minutes or until golden brown, and then flip to fry the other side. When both sides are golden, place fried fritters on a paper towel to drain excess fat.
Yes, she actually eats these. Mommy is ever in a quest for baby-friendly nutritious finger foods.
quinoa vegetable nuggets for baby
- About 4 cups cooked quinoa (the yield from 2 cups uncooked quinoa), cooled. Prepare the quinoa with broth or water, as you like. I cook it in a rice cooker.
- 1 lb frozen mixed vegetables
- 3 medium-large bananas
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 400 F. On a cookie sheet, bake the bananas until the skins turn black and they are soft. Meanwhile, grease another cookie sheet. When the bananas are done, take them out of the oven to cool. Reduce the oven to 350 F.
- Cook/steam the frozen vegetables. I do this in the microwave using a steamer basket.
- Peel the bananas (carefully!) and dump them into a large mixing bowl. Add the quinoa and vegetables, alternating in small quantities, to combine and distribute evenly. Stir in the lemon juice.
- Roll nuggets in baby-friendly size (about 1-inch diameter) and place on greased cookie sheet. Bake 5-8 minutes or however long it takes for the nuggets to hold their shape. Don’t bake for too long or they will be dry.
These freeze and thaw reasonably well; I pack them in an ice cube tray so that they don’t freeze together.
Lentils, chicken and kale. Time previously spent nursing is now spent cooking baby-friendly food. Here’s hoping she eats it.
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
- 8 oz dried lentils
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth plus 2 cups water (or however you’d like to apportion broth and water for 4 cups total)
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts (I buy frozen chicken breasts and keep them on hand for soups and stews such as this)
- 1 lb fresh or frozen kale
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 oz chopped ham (optional)
- 1 tsp lemon juice (optional)
- 1 tsp tarragon (optional)
- In a 4-qt Dutch oven, melt butter over medium-high heat. Brown the onions (about 15 mins). If you have fresh chicken breasts, you can cube them into 1/2-inch pieces while the onions are cooking. Alternatively, you can leave them and proceed as below.
- Reduce heat to medium. Add the garlic and stir 1-2 mins. Add ham (optional) and continue stirring, letting the ham brown a bit. Add the lentils and continue stirring, allowing the lentils to toast a bit.
- Add the broth and/or water. I like to heat them up in the microwave before adding, so that I finish cooking sooner.
- Increase the heat to bring to a boil. Add the chicken breasts and stir. Reduce heat to simmer and cover.
- While the stew is cooking, prepare the kale if it’s raw. I like the bags of washed kale at Trader Joe’s, because I hate washing vegetables. To cook it, I heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-high in a large (12″) saucepan or skillet. Add the kale in batches, always stirring to distribute them evenly as they turn dark green. Once all the kale is dark green, add 1/2 cup of water, stir, reduce heat, and cover to let it steam for 5-10 mins.
- As the lentils cook, they’ll absorb the broth/water and the stew will thicken. When the lentils are to your liking, remove the chicken breasts and dice them into baby-friendly (about 1/2-inch) pieces. Return chicken to the stew and add in the kale as well.
- Season with lemon juice, tarragon, salt and pepper to your liking.
I revised the previous incarnation of this dish and much prefer this version, as it is healthier, baby-compatible and still easy to make. It is also a good candidate for a weekend mass food production routine: I actually prepared about 10 chicken breasts in the slow cooker, saved a small part (about 1/10) to make baby food, and then divided the remainder for this dish and for another (chicken tetrazzini).
crockpot creamy chicken and noodles
Crockpot Creamy Chicken and Noodles a la Butz
- 4-5 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2 lbs), cut in 1- to 2-inch cubes
- 12 oz egg noodles
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup heavy cream (Trader Joe’s has cream in a shelf-stable 1-cup package — this might be the most amazing culinary find all year!)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 bunch celery, sliced (or substitute 1 package (16 oz) frozen mixed vegetables)
- adobo seasoning
- Place the chicken in the crockpot and season with adobo seasoning and tarragon. Stir in chopped onion and minced garlic. Cook in the slow cooker for 8 hours on low temperature setting.
- Meanwhile, cook the egg noodles for about 2/3 the time recommended (approximately 4 minutes) and drain. They will continue cooking in the crockpot.
- When the chicken is finished, it should fall apart easily when mashed with a fork. Shred the chicken by stirring with a large fork until it is broken into small pieces.
- Stir in the cream and chicken broth until well-blended. Stir in the noodles. Cook on low heat for about 4 hours, or until the sauce has thickened.
- Stir in the celery (or frozen vegetables) and cook for another hour or until the vegetables are heated.