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Baby-Led Weaning, Recipes

macaroni & cheese with broccoli

Macaroni and cheese with broccoli

I’ve been craving mac and cheese for a few weeks but I haven’t been able to bring myself to buy the boxed stuff. While I (shamefully) love that fake Kraft box mix, one of the major bonuses of baby-led weaning with Isla is that we eat the same meals (most of the time) and this forces me to eat a little healthier. Okay fine, mac and cheese is not exactly healthy but making it from scratch is better than from the box, right? Way less sodium, for one, and REAL CHEESE! So anyway, I went for it and it was delicious. I used this recipe (from Joy the Baker) but used shells instead of traditional macaroni, white whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose (only because that’s what we had), added broccoli and skipped the breadcrumbs and gruyère, though next time I’m totally adding the gruyère because it’s one of my favorite cheeses. The result: happy baby and mama! Isla absolutely loved her first taste of mac and cheese. I mean, are you really surprised? We each ate a big bowl for lunch and there’s enough left over for several days!

Tip: If you are with child(ren), make this when the babies are occupied or asleep. Once you start, there’s a lot of nonstop mixing going on so you really can’t walk away and, let’s say, stop the baby from licking the bottom of the shoes you accidentally left on the floor.

Another tip: If you want to include broccoli, cook your pasta until it’s nearly al dente, then add your uncooked broccoli florets to the pot and cook for the last 2 to 3 minutes.

Baby-led weaning broccoli mac and cheese

Macaroni and cheese with broccoli

Baby-Led Weaning, Recipes

kid-friendly cheesy broccoli bites

Baby-led weaning recipe for cheesy broccoli bites

I call these kid-friendly, but since I made them for my kid and ate as many as she did, I should really call them mom-friendly. Or mom-obsessed. Either way, the point is these are really easy and delicious and you will love them just as much as your infant or toddler. They also do not contain egg so that’s a bonus for those of us avoiding it like the plague. I used this recipe. My batch made 14 bites so I’ll probably be doubling it for next time so that we can both eat them and have a bunch to freeze.

A few things I did differently from the recipe:
1. I made my own breadcrumbs because I actually looked at the nutrition label for the store-bought kind and was sort of floored. Lots of sodium and other crap I’d rather not give my infant. Really easy directions for homemade breadcrumbs below.
2. I used fresh, steamed broccoli, not the frozen kind the recipe calls for because that’s what we had in the house.
3. I added garlic powder to the mixture for more flavor.
4. As the directions suggest in a little note at the bottom of the recipe, I baked these in a mini muffin pan. I think that helped them stay together and bake into little bites. This also made them the perfect size for her tiny hands.

Baby-led weaning recipe for cheesy broccoli bites

Isla, who is eight months old, ate four to five of these in one sitting and easily gummed right through them, leaving behind on scraps. As you can see from the photos, she stuffed her face, barely taking a break to breathe, until her belly was nice and full.

Baby-led weaning recipe for cheesy broccoli bites

Baby-led weaning recipe for cheesy broccoli bites

Baby-led weaning recipe for cheesy broccoli bites

Homemade Breadcrumbs

– preheat oven to 300 degrees
– arrange slices of bread on a dry baking sheet
– bake for 20-25 minutes total; flip each slice after 10 minutes and bake for 10-15 more, until each slice is hard and dry
– let cool, then place in a large plastic bag and break apart with your hands and a rolling-pin until you have a bag of bread crumbs!
– add spices, such as Italian seasoning, garlic powder, etc.

 pssst. don’t forget to enter to win Isla’s favorite baby blankie by Saranoni this week! winner will be announce Friday!

Baby-Led Weaning, Recipes

blueberry-banana yogurt pancakes (without egg)

baby-led weaning recipe for banana blueberry yogurt pancakes made without eggs and milk for babies with allergies

Let’s get a few things out of the way before I get into this recipe:

1. There are no pancake-flipping awards in my future.
2. If you’re trying to impress someone, like your wife who has been waiting your entire marriage for you to make her breakfast in bed, or your future mother-in-law who’s coming over for brunch, or your potential boss at a job interview for that restaurant you’ve always wanted to work at because your lifelong dream is to be a world-renowned chef, maybe don’t use this recipe. And by “maybe” I mean “what are you crazy?”
3. That being said, have a kid with a potentially throat-closing, eye-swelling, epipen-needing allergy to eggs? This recipe is definitely for you.
and 4. Blueberries are the messiest things ever when cooked into pancakes and served to an immature infant whose one and only goal in life is to get food into places food should never ever go and may not be found for several days.

And now that I have convinced you that this is the worst recipe ever, let me just say, it’s not that bad! I ate one and did not want to spit it out. In fact, I might have enjoyed it, though it could have used a little syrup. Isla loved it though, and really, that’s the whole point here. We will return to our regularly scheduled baby-led weaning updates next week with a bunch of new foods, but I thought I’d kick off the weekend with this spectacularly messy recipe for egg-less and milk-less blueberry-banana yogurt pancakes. I searched for weeks to find the perfect recipe and just never found it so I kind of just went with what I already had in the kitchen and made it work. I started from this recipe, but did a bit of replacing of ingredients so I’ve listed the entire recipe all the way at the bottom of this post. Mostly, I just needed to find a recipe that didn’t have eggs and had very few ingredients that Isla had not yet tested. I researched egg substitutes and was pleasantly surprised to find quite a few options. I went with whole milk yogurt, since Isla loves it and eats it nearly every morning for breakfast. Flaxseed is a good option, too, but I didn’t have any on hand (because really, why would I have flaxseed?).

All-in-all, success! Phew.

Isla with blueberry all over her face   recipe for banana blueberry yogurt pancakes made without eggs and milk for babies with allergies

recipe for banana blueberry yogurt pancakes made without eggs and milk for babies with allergies

recipe for banana blueberry yogurt pancakes made without eggs and milk for babies with allergies

baby-led weaning recipe for banana blueberry yogurt pancakes made without eggs and milk for babies with allergies

baby-led weaning recipe for banana blueberry yogurt pancakes made without eggs and milk for babies with allergies

Blueberry-Banana Yogurt Pancakes (without egg)
(makes approx 12 medium-sized pancakes)

ingredients:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 bananas, mashed
2 tbsp olive oil
2-4 oz (or 4-5 tbsp) organic whole milk yogurt
3/4 cup of water
unsalted butter (for pan)
blueberries

instructions:
– mix flour, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl
– whisk in yogurt, banana and olive oil, gradually adding the water to complete the batter
– coat pan with butter, use a ladle to spoon in pancakes, and add a handful of blueberries to each pancake
– cook over medium-high heat, gently flipping when bubbles appear, until both sides are golden. repeat.

I served these without syrup since we’re not giving Isla sugar until she’s one. The blueberries were the key to making sure the pancakes had enough flavor and moisture.

Recipes

iced caffè mocha

How to make homemade iced caffè mocha drink with a Bialetti Moka pot stovetop espresso machine

When I was commuting an hour to work every morning I looked forward to my Starbucks run. It was really the only thing that could get me through that dreaded drive. Of course, it was hard on the bank account when I had a steady paycheck and now that I’m home full-time I really can’t justify the daily expense. My need for morning caffeine, however, has not diminished. I’ve always been a loose tea lover, but I crave an iced caffè mocha during the hot summer months and I love a hot, frothy chai tea latte in winter. After reading a bunch of reviews on home espresso pots and spending several weeks perfecting my ingredient ratios, I finally have the perfect recipe for my beloved mocha, which is an espresso drink mixed with milk and chocolate (I don’t like the taste of straight coffee). We bought the Bialetti Moka Express stove top espresso maker for only $24, which is the equivalent of one week of drinks at Starbucks (!!!) so it was a no-brainer purchase. It doesn’t help with my inability to create the perfect chai tea at home, but I’m eager to have a go at a dirty chai recipe (that’s a chai latte with a shot of espresso) so stay tuned. Keep reading below for my thoughts on the Bialetti pot and the complete iced caffè mocha recipe …

How to make homemade iced caffè mocha drink with a Bialetti Moka pot stovetop espresso machine

When it came time to buy coffee beans for espresso, I had no clue what to get. I’ve never even made a pot of coffee. Come to think of it, we don’t own a coffee pot! So I went to my local coffee shop and asked for help. They sold me the same bag they use to make espresso drinks and ground the beans for me.

How to make homemade iced caffè mocha drink with a Bialetti Moka pot stovetop espresso machine

The Bialetti comes in different sizes depending on the servings you want. When purchasing your pot, think about how many servings you will need each time you make espresso because you must make the entire pot (you can’t use less water or coffee depending on how many servings you need). We bought a three-cup, which means each batch produces about three, two-ounce servings. I end up splitting it up so Chris and I each get a serving and there is none left over. (He drinks a regular hot latte). This would be my only complaint about this pot. If we have guests, they’re out of luck! On a daily basis though it’s the perfect size for us. It’s also a great size for travel.

How to make homemade iced caffè mocha drink with a Bialetti Moka pot stovetop espresso machine

A tip I learned when researching the Bialetti: Wash with soap and water before using for the first time and then wash with warm water only (no soap) after every use. Also, dump your very first batch.

How to make homemade iced caffè mocha drink with a Bialetti Moka pot stovetop espresso machine

This is a two-ounce shot glass, which I use to make sure I’m not giving myself too much caffeine, 1. because I’m still breastfeeding and 2. because I’m a wuss and will get the caffeine shakes!

How to make homemade iced caffè mocha drink with a Bialetti Moka pot stovetop espresso machine

One of the bonuses of making my own mocha is that I get to control how much chocolate to add. The Starbucks version is on sugar steroids and I found myself crashing midmorning. I don’t use nearly as much syrup as they do (I’ve watched them!) and I don’t experience that crash when I make it myself. Also, I tried a few different chocolates as I was perfecting my recipe. Hershey’s was pretty blah. Ghirardelli hot cocoa mix was sold in the stores, so I gave it a try, but the problem with the powder is that you can’t add more later. It doesn’t dissolve well once the ice and milk are added. The flavor was also just okay. More like chocolate milk than espresso. I’ve settled on Ghirardelli chocolate sauce (which I bought from Amazon) and it’s a winner. I only use about a tablespoon but you can adjust for your own tastes. Now it’s hard for me to drink the Starbucks version because I love my concoction so much more!

How to make homemade iced caffè mocha drink with a Bialetti Moka pot stovetop espresso machine

Iced Caffè Mocha Recipe

equipment/ingredients:
stove top espresso maker (for the purposes of this post, I’m using the Bialetti Moka Express)
ground coffee beans
water
2 tbsp Ghirardelli chocolate syrup
ice cubes
6 oz milk (update: almond milk is a great alternative to cow’s milk!)

instructions:
fill Bialetti base with water up to safety valve
insert funnel and fill loosely with ground coffee
screw on top compartment
brew on low heat on the stove (make sure the fire doesn’t come up around the sides of the pot) until the espresso bubbles up into the top compartment. remove from stove immediately.
squirt chocolate into bottom of desired glass
pour 2 ounces of espresso into glass
mix chocolate and espresso
*add ice cubes
fill glass with approximately 6 ounces of milk
serve!

*I’ve read that it’s best to add the milk before the ice cubes so as not to “shock” the hot espresso, but I’ve found ice before milk tastes better. I can’t explain why though so feel free to play around with your measurements and the order in which you mix the ingredients.

Recipes

lemon egg toast

lemon egg toast on toasted ciabatta bread with provolone and arugula

When I was pregnant with Isla all I wanted all day, every day was an over-easy egg (and some sushi), but the raw food restriction made it a no-no. My all-time favorite breakfast dish is the truffled egg toast served at Chhaya Cafe. (I’m not even kidding when I say I daydream about this dish every single morning.) Since my mornings are now spent at home with the baby, not commuting an hour on an empty stomach, I actually have time to make myself a gourmet breakfast, which means it’s eggs over-easy on repeat. While nothing, and I mean nothing, will come close to Chhaya’s version, I decided to make my own simple and similar egg toast recipe at home. Needless to say, my mornings just got a whole lot more delicious! Here’s the recipe:

ingredients:
1 egg
salt & pepper
loaf of fresh ciabatta bread
cheese (I’ve used provolone, but Chhaya uses aged cheddar, which is better)
baby arugula
lemon
(Chhaya also uses truffle oil but I have yet to try that)

instructions:
prepare your over-easy egg with salt and pepper (I prefer mine very runny)
meanwhile, slice and lightly toast a piece of bread
place your bread on a plate and put sliced cheese on top (to slightly melt the cheese consider microwaving it for a few seconds)
top the bread and cheese with arugula and drizzle with fresh lemon juice (and salt & pepper to taste)
place runny egg on top and serve hot

And there you have it. A copycat breakfast to hold me over until Sunday brunch.