Monday, September 24, 2012

Orange You Glad Autumn is Here!

Autumn is here and that makes me so excited! I know three babies that are being born in the next few months (yay)! I just really love this time of year, I live in leafer country so along with the rest of the tourists that visit my town this time of year, I love watching the leaves change and fall, the scents of spices and fire places, it is just such a perfect time of year (perhaps the reason I got married in October), and all I want to do this time of year is make orange food! So, in honor of the first day of autumn I made spiced cheesy carrots, and homemade pumpkin puree- which turned into a pumpkin alfredo sauce for dinner last night- yes it was as good as that sounds. 

When babies start out on solids, orange food is a good place to start. As your babies get older you will hear and read a lot about feeding the rainbow everyday, and as your babies get older you will realize how difficult that actually is, but some of the rainbow is better than none. Orange foods are known for their beta carotene contents (good for your eyes), high levels of antioxidants,  are very good for maintaining healthy joints and bones, and they are generally sweet so they are easy to get babies and kids to eat them without much of a fight. 

I want to apologize in advance for the pictures, my camera died in the middle of making these, and by the time my husband came with his phone to continue taking pictures half of the cooking was done, so if as you are making these if you have questions, please e-mail me. 

Carrot Puree- an excellent first food for babies, 4m+
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel and wash 1 lb.carrots, and slice into diagonal rings. 

Spray with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle any seasoning you wish on top, I used chives (although if you are making this for a first puree for a baby I suggest only using the carrots, as any seasonings you put on will be considered another ingredient and require the 4 day rule). Spread them out evenly on a baking tray, and roast for approximately 40 minutes.

This will enhance the sweetness of the carrots as opposed to steaming or boiling them. Once tender, puree in blender until smooth. You may need to add water, breast milk, or formula to help bring it together. These freeze beautifully in ice cube trays. 

Spiced Cheesy Carrots- for the rest of the family, my husband thought this was great, as did my 13 month old son, he actually licked the spoon clean.
Reduce the oven temp to 350. Mix the carrot puree with one block of softened cream cheese, 1 tsp. of cinnamon, 1 tsp. of nutmeg, and ½ tsp.of ginger. Pour into a baking dish, sprinkle with a bit more of nutmeg and ginger on top and bake for 30 minutes.
I subscribe to the Food Network Magazine, and we try and make something from it every month. This month they had a pumpkin spaghetti alfredo, and that just sounded amazing to me. I love pumpkin! I could eat pumpkin every day and be happy in life.However, we did not have any pumpkin puree at home, and we did feel like going to the store, but we did have sugar pumpkins. I did give my son pumpkin puree as a baby and he loved it, so I decided that this would be good to post here as well. Simply take the sugar pumpkins (small pumpkins, not the big Jack O’Lantern type), cut off the top (like you would do for a Jack O’Lantern). Quarter them,and then take a big spoon and spoon out the guts. Really scrape them well. Put in a 350 degree oven for an hour, and then puree in blender or food processor(your choice).This freezes really well in Ziploc baggies, or ice cube trays. I used them for the pumpkin alfredo, the recipe can be found here:

Anyway, enjoy your Fall!!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Very veggie cheesy Mac

September for me is always a time for new beginnings, plus I know a lot people right now who will be having babies soon, or whose babies will be starting solids in the blink of an eye (4-6 months old is the recommended age by the APA depending on whether your child is formula fed or breastfed)! So I decided to go back to a basic, but a goody for the babies new to solids, AND show you how to utilize this wonderful goodness for the rest of your family as well.
This week at the farmer's market I saw some beautiful heads of cauliflower and couldn't resist. I knew when I saw it that this was what I wanted to make this week for my Real Babies. To make this I used my new electric steamer. I did not go out and buy an electric steamer, my neighbor gave it to me, and it is my new favorite kitchen gadget. It cooks so fast, no need to wait for water to boil. This is a great tool not only for cooking for your family, but also for homemade baby food. Steaming food helps retain flavor and vitamins. Now, let's get cooking!
Cauliflower Puree
1 Head Cauliflower, cut into florets
½ cup formula, breast milk, or milk
1 ½ tsp. nutmeg
Pinch of salt and pepper
Put the Cauliflower florets into a steamer (if you do not have an electric steamer, simply use a traditional steamer basket.) I set the timer on the electric steamer for 20 minutes in order to ensure they got cooked all the way through and were soft enough to puree. Place the steamed Cauliflower into a blender; add the milk/formula/breast milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper and puree! You can thin this out even further if you wish by adding more milk. It should be the similar consistency of mashed potatoes. You could even add a bit of Parmesan cheese to this if you want.
Either freeze this in ice cube trays, or use it to make Very Veggie Cheesy Mac.
Very Veggie Cheesy Mac
1 bag Wacky Mac, or other vegetable pasta, or any pasta or your choosing
1 recipe of Cauliflower Puree
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
1 Tbsp. Butter
Preheat the oven to 350. This week at the super market Wacky Mac was on sale for $0.75 a bag, I was intrigued so I bought a bag for my son. They are veggie semolina pasta. They come in different colors and sizes. I thought it would be fun. While the Cauliflower was steaming, I got a big pot of water boiling on my stove, and cooked the pasta for 8 minutes and prepared a baking dish with cooking spray.
Pour the Cauliflower Puree into a sauce pot and warm on medium heat. Add the butter and cheese and stir.  
As the cheese melts this will begin to taste exactly like normal cheese sauce for mac and cheese, only thicker. Once the cheese is completely melted, pour into a bowl.
Add the hot cooked pasta and cherry tomatoes. Stir so the cheese gets into all the nooks and crannies of the pasta. Feel free to add a bit more nutmeg to your family’s liking. Pour the mac and cheese into the prepared baking dish and cook for 35-40 minutes.