Toasted Quinoa and Peach Baby Food? Heck Yes!!

Okay, this is going to be quick between finishing a batch of delicious baby food and doing the next step of homemade yogurt (and doing all of the katrillion dishes that I created last night and this morning… sigh).

I had a problem.  Babies eat baby food, right?  Baby food in the store is all fruits and veggies, unless you buy the super ridiculously expensive stuff that includes oats or quinoa or rice and some protein (mung beans and chicken???).  My baby doesn’t need food that fancy.

But he does need protein and grains.  Our kid will eat everything, which is awesome.  The only thing he has turned down is baby rice cereal, and I can’t really blame him.  It’s pretty darn bland.  That means he just eats fruit and veggies by the pound these days.  I wanted to help him meet the awesome world of other food so maybe he won’t get so hungry between meals.

I tried pureed chicken and pureed salmon with peas.  Both sound gross to me, but he’s game.  But I hadn’t really found a way to sneak in grains.  Enter a baby food cookbook and today’s super successful experiment.

Generally, I feel awesome about this.  I like the way it tastes, and little man has a healthy grain option that won’t eat into his college savings (sale quinoa).

(I promise this blog won’t henceforth be a baby food cookbook.  Just this once.  Or maybe a few times.  I also made Korean barbecue burritos and a super delicious corn and poblano taco filling recently.  Don’t worry.)

Toasted Quinoa and Peach Puree

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 peach, peeled and cut into large chunks

How To

  1.  Rinse the quinoa under cold water, then drain well.  Transfer to a medium pan and toast over high heat 5 minutes, stirring continuously, until any excess water evaporates and the quinoa is slightly brown and begins to pop.  Slowly add 2 cups water, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer 30 minutes, or until tender.  If using a blender with a plastic container, let the quinoa cool before blending.*
  2. When the quinoa is cool (or hot, if your blender has a non-plastic container), put about half of it in the blender container.  Add peach and blend until smooth.  Add water until the mixture is your desired consistency (thicker if I was planning to feed it to little guy with a spoon, slightly thinner to go into a resealable food pouch).
  3. Put the delicious food into a serving/storage container and let your little person enjoy.
  4. Store the extra cooked quinoa for at-home dining (maybe with another veggie or a pureed meat option for baby).  I basically didn’t want to make a small serving, since this is a bit of a time commitment.  It’s like making awesome leftovers.  Why wouldn’t you?

*This step of the recipe is word for word (until the very last sentence) from page 47 of Healthy Eating for your Baby & Toddler by Renee Elliott.  Thank you, public library.  Thank you, Renee Elliott.  It seems like a good baby cookbook, although the ingredients are a bit exotic.  It’s a good starting point for figuring out how to create a balanced diet for a new person.  I’m planning to make the recipes a bit more low-key.  This recipe was originally mung beans with toasted quinoa.  I don’t have mung beans in my pantry.

 

Really Good Burritos + Too Many Options

Most days, I have a very clear plan between baby naps and errands and stuff that has to be done by the end of that day no matter what.  Today is not like that.

Today, I have a million projects that I could do, but there isn’t a single project that I really have to get done.  And thus, Peanut and I are feeling kind of the same.  Like this:

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Like maybe the best thing to do is lie down in the middle of the floor and hope no one steps too close while you’re napping.  I get that this is an awesome problem, by the way.  I’m trying to fully enjoy the dilemma and the fact that it gives me time to blog today.

Before I join Peanut, I’m going to share a great recipe that I tried out last week.  It’s from The Kitchn, and it is officially called Baked Black Bean and Avocado Burritos.  Why is this recipe awesome?  Well, it tastes really good.  That’s the most important thing.  The second most important thing is that the prep is easy, and it can be mostly made ahead of time.

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Photo by Kimberley Hasselbrink

That means I made dinner during noon baby nap, then it was magically ready at 7 the second Tuck’s head hit his crib mattress for bedtime.  Seriously, it was like magic.  Not everything is delicious when you put it together 7 hours early.

One more note.  I added meat.  I do that a lot–pick good vegetarian recipes and throw in some meat.  It means there’s a focus on non-meat elements of the meal, but my meat-hungry family is happy.  It’s a winning strategy lots of times.  With no further ado, enjoy!

Baked Black Bean and Avocado Burritos

Makes 8-10 burritos

  • 1 lb. ground chicken, turkey, or beef (I used beef, but I think I’ll branch out next time)
  • 2 chipotles in adobo sauce, finely minced (more if you want heat, not just flavor… I used 4 and it had some decent bite)
  • 1 cup light or regular sour cream
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 medium avocados, cut in 1/2-inch dice
  • 8-10 (8-inch) flour tortillas
  • 2 cups salsa
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack
  • Optional: cumin, salt, and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat an 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.

Brown the meat in a pan until cooked through, crumbling with a wooden spoon along the way.  I threw in some cumin, salt, and pepper at this point.  I would guess it was about 1 teaspoon of cumin.  Do what feels right.  I like cumin a lot, so I might have used more than that.

Combine chipotle and sour cream in a bowl. Add the beans and corn to the sour cream mixture and stir until well combined.  Stir in the browned meat, then gently stir in the avocado.

Working one at a time, spoon the bean mixture down the center of each tortilla.  Roll the tortillas closed and place seam-side down in the prepared baking dish. You might find that your baking dish is too small (I did).  If that’s true, grab an 8×8″ pan, spray it with cooking spray, and finish the folding in that dish.  Spoon the salsa over the tortillas and top with the shredded cheese. Cover and bake 20 minutes until cheese is melted and burritos are warmed through.

If you’re making these ahead of time, just stop before you get to the salsa and add salsa and cheese later.  Presto.  We loved the leftovers from these, too.

And now, I will consider reorganizing our desperately messy cabinets or maybe the also desperately messy pantry.  Or I could actually join Peanut.

Frozen Yogurt: Where Have You Been All My Life?

Okay, I’m not talking about frozen yogurt from a frozen yogurt store.  I’m talking about actual Greek Yogurt that I put into the freezer with delicious stuff mixed in/on top.  And it’s good.  Roomie said it’s better than ice cream.  I’m not willing to go quite that far, but I do like it as a legit dessert.  And it’s healthy.

My favorite thing is when I can eat healthy food that tastes completely satisfying.  This is one of those times.

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The original recipe can be found here: Strawberry and Pistachio Frozen Yogurt from The Kitchn.

My recipe is a little bit easier, because I cheated.  So if you want one less thing to measure, you can do it this way:

Frozen Yogurt with Fruit ‘n Nuts

Ingredients

  • 2 cups honey Greek yogurt (or one large container)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup diced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup pistachios

How To

Combine the yogurt, vanilla and salt in a bowl.  Spread the yogurt mixture into your freezing container of choice.  I went with a 9×13 glass baking dish, because it’s what I had.  Roomie tried it with a muffin tin, and it worked beautifully, too.  I might go that route next time.  It would be easier to portion out.

After your mixture is in its freezing dish, add strawberries and pistachios on top.  Put it in the freezer for 4 hours (uncovered).  Then you can break/cut/take out of muffin tin and store it frozen in a sealable plastic bag.  I will say it was hard to cut in the glass dish.  So cut it when you’re hungry and desperately want a snack.  It’ll give you Hulk power.  Worked for me, anyway.

This stuff is tasty.  I think we’ll be enjoying it lots of times this summer, and probably with a wide variety of fruits and nuts on top.

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P.S.  I made this while I was prepping for a big art sale last weekend.  Only put your snack near your watercolor art if your art is covered in plastic wrappers and your snack is very firmly on the plate.  I had a few close calls with yogurt on paper.  Whew.  All for the sake of a good picture.  Next time, I’m eating my snack straight out of the freezer like a normal person.

 

Ryan’s Protein Balls

This recipe found its way to  me by email several months ago.  It belongs to a friend of a friend of Scott, so it’s Ryan’s delicious, super easy recipe.  And I tip my hat to him in gratitude.

These have been a consistent part of our snack rotation since I first made them a few months ago.  Probably the tastiest part of our snack rotation.  It’s like a healthier version of a candy bar, and who doesn’t want a healthier candy bar?  There’s chocolate, coconut, peanut butter, oatmeal (or just plain old oats, to be precise)… sweet, salty, crunchy.  And honestly, who wouldn’t pick one of these over grapes?  (The grapes in our fridge look sad and neglected, for the record.)

Sibling, niece and nephew tried these out this weekend and gave them a giant stamp of approval.  So they’ve been kid-tested, sister-approved.  Something like that.

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Here it is, y’all:

Ryan’s Protein Balls

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 1/2 cups peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup Agave
  • 2-3 scoops of protein powder (we use vanilla)
  • 1 Tbs cinnamon
  • 1/2 bag of dark chocolate chips (if desired, which I always do)
  • 2 Tbs of coconut oil
  • 1/2 a package of shredded coconut (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 cup crushed nuts
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
How to:
Combine the peanut butter, Agave and coconut oil.  Add the nuts and chocolate and stir.  Add the oatmeal, protein powder, cinnamon, coconut, and flaxseed meal.  Stir some more.
Roll the mixture into balls and roll them in protein powder or flaxseed meal.  (I’ve only rolled them in flaxseed meal, because I’m not a huge fan of protein powder… but you could do that.  I hear it’s tasty, too.)  It doesn’t really matter how large you make these.  They don’t have to bake, so you could make some small and others large if you want a greater variety of snack options.  Put them on a cookie sheet or in a plastic container and place them in the fridge or freezer for a while to get them into a more solid state.  Eat.  But try not to eat all of them in a few days.  The struggle is real.

 

 

That’s Right… Raw Taters In My Salad

So first things first, we might be getting chickens in the next few weeks.  Maybe.  Or we might not.  Either way, we have a chicken coop in our back woods, and Scott made a door for it on Sunday.  I think it looks pretty great.  I also think it’s fun that we have random things in our woods like a mostly functional chicken coop and a one-stall goat shed.  Not things I thought I would ever want or need.

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Chickens aside, we tried a new recipe last night, and I liked it a lot.  The weird thing is that it’s mostly raw sweet potato.  The annoying thing is that you have to julienne all of the veggies, which takes more time if your julienne tool breaks after the first slice.  The reason it’s all worth it?  Well, the quantity of veggies you have to julienne isn’t that huge.  And the taste.  The taste is worth it.  This salad is really healthy and makes delicious leftovers.  It also goes well with buttermilk biscuits and country ham, which was the main part of our meal last night.  (Yeah, raw healthy healthy side dish means you can fully enjoy your buttermilk biscuits guilt-free.)

What is this magical recipe?  Sweet potato, celery, and apple salad, oh my!  You can find it here: Martha Stewart’s Sweet Potato, Celery, and Apple Salad.  Even if you have to chop up the veggies teeny tiny all by yourself, it’s worth it.  And the chopping only took about 15 minutes.  That’s not so bad.  The raw sweet potatoes?  Well, they  taste pretty mild and crunchy and nice.

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photo by Mark Weinberg, recipe from Martha Stewart via Food 52

And last but not least, I love spring flowers.

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Quick Veggie Stir Fry

One of the sad things about the past few months is that we tried a bunch of new recipes, and I honestly don’t remember most of them.  At all.  The good thing about that is that a few recipes were so nice they made it through the fog of sleepless nights into my long-term memory.  Those recipes will make their way to you.

First of all, we have a veggie stir fry from The Pioneer Woman.  It’s quick, it’s delicious, and it makes me feel better about all of the pizza we ate last night.  That’s a pretty strong combination.  Oooh, and it’s hearty enough that Scott will eat it without complaint even though it’s vegetarian.  That’s a really big deal.

Here’s what The Pioneer Woman’s looked like:

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photo by Ree Drummond

 

If I couldn’t remember which recipes we tried, you can guarantee I was too out of it to take any pictures of our favorites.  I barely got pictures of baby and dog and husband, much less food.

Okay, maybe I got a lot of pictures of baby.  He’s cute.

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See, even the back of his head is cute.  Even in the grocery store.  And those neck rolls are cute, too.  That might be the mom in me thinking that neck fat is cute, however.  I get it if that does nothing for you.

So neck rolls aren’t awesome?  Don’t let that stop you from trying the stir fry.  It’s pretty wonderful.  I didn’t make any real changes to the recipe.  I used dried ginger instead of fresh because we already had it in the pantry, and I used green bell peppers instead of multi-colored ones because, once again, I was trying to save a few dollars.  It was 10% less pretty with all green peppers, but still really delicious.

In the near future, you can look forward to a recipe for protein balls (which taste like chocolate chip peanut butter deliciousness and are also kind of healthy) and some salmon with a mustard cream sauce and tasty veggies a la Giada.  And if I really get on top of life, I’ll take pictures of how Tuck’s nursery turned out and pretend that we’re all fancy and decorative when we’re really just changing diapers all day.

Happy diaper day!

Eggs Benedict with Apple Sausage and Mustard Hollandaise

Since I talk about food all the time, you can guess that there were foods I missed eating during pregnancy.  There are so many dern rules about what could hurt your baby, and it feels wrong to eat those things, even if the odds of actually hurting said baby are really slim.  So I tried to be good and avoid everything on the major “don’t eat this” pregnancy lists.

What did I miss most?  Strangely, the list consisted of Hollandaise sauce, lunchmeat, and wine.  It’s an odd assortment and not indicative of my normal eating habits, but that is in fact what I missed most.

So imagine how excited I was about a plan that involved us making Bobby Flay’s Eggs Benedict with Apple Sausage and Mustard Hollandaise for my family while they were here over Christmas.  No risk of hurting baby now, just tasty food.

The only blip in the plan was that as usual, we had bigger  menu plans than we had free time.   Sigh.  So our Eggs Benedict glory happened when no one was in town but little ol’ us.

It didn’t matter in the end.  It was still delicious.

The mustard Hollandaise had perfect tang to go with the poached eggs, and the apple sausage was just different enough to be really fun.  I mean, as fun as food can be (which is pretty fun,  in my opinion).

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I don’t recommend making this on the night that you decide to get your newborn to sleep in his crib no matter how sad that makes the newborn.  Hollandaise doesn’t go well with wailing baby.  Not many foods go well with wailing baby, actually.  But if you’re lucky and have a spouse who is willing to tag-team the cooking, you can go for it any ol’ time.  I made the sausage and prepped the other parts of the dish.  Scott made the Hollandaise and the eggs. And he took the picture.  Thanks, babe!

Neither of us had made a Hollandaise sauce before, but Bobby Flay’s instructions worked quite smoothly.  No fear the fancy sauce.

In other news, I keep thinking of funny life lessons I’ve learned in 6 weeks of parenting, and I then promptly forget them.  Yup.  Brain like a sieve.

Source of sieve brain?  This little guy:

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Who is now a happy crib-sleeper.  Yay!!!!

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