Saturday, August 27, 2011

Freezing Baby Food

I also wanted to recommend this great freezer container for freezing portion sizes of your baby food. It is great because it has a lid, it freezes it in portion sizes, and the frozen food pops out easily. They are made by Beaba and can be found at Williams-Sonoma. It may seem a little pricey at $24.95 per tray, but I think it's worth it. And you can just get one, that's what I did, and after the food freezes, I remove it and place them in ziploc freezer bags so that I can freeze more food. It comes in a bunch of cute colors too!

Chelsea's Baby Food, Inc., Continued

5. Throw the carrots in your blender.

6. Blend on low. Gradually add the leftover water you used for steaming to thin it out until you get a smooth consistency.

7. The one bag of carrots made all of this food. I was able to put some in the fridge and freeze the rest. This is great for saving time later. If you work, you could make a bunch of food one weekend, freeze it all, and be set for a month!

8. Now you have a beautiful, fresh, and healthy meal for you sweet baby!

I recommend removing all clothing (saves you from doing extra laundry). Jack loved his carrots!

I will post more as I experiment with different foods and stages of eating. So far it has been so much fun. I really enjoy doing this for Jack, and it is saving us a lot of money!

Chelsea's Baby Food, Inc.

A few years ago, if you would have mentioned making homemade baby food, I would have told you that is ridiculous. Why spend so much time and effort when you can buy it so easily at the store? Well, after some reading, I realized it actually is not that difficult, it's way cheaper, and it is very healthy!

I have a few different books that have been very helpful in this process. One is Organic Baby & Toddler Cookbook by Lizzie Vann. My favorite thing in this book is that it gives a schedule for feeding from weaning to four years. It is really helpful as I am slowly introducing Jack to solids and gradually weaning from breastmilk. The other book I have really enjoyed is Start Fresh by Tyler Florence. As you are probably aware, I am a bit of a Food Network junkie, so when I found out one of there chefs wrote a baby cookbook I was really excited. His recipes are really great, and I appreciate how much he wants to introduce children to fresh fruits and vegetables and great flavor combinations at such a young age. I have other cookbooks that have also been helpful, but just thought I would mention those two.

There are many different options when cooking fruits and vegetables for baby food, but from what I read, it seems that steaming is the best, because it allows the food to retain most of its nutrients. This is what Tyler Florence recommends in his book, at least for the first foods. So, this is the route I took, and it was so easy. He also recommends using a blender rather than a food processor to make the food as smooth as possible, so I have been doing that.

So, here are the simple steps to making delicious baby food:

1. Make sure your sous chef is nearby.

2. Choose from a variety of fruits and vegetables for your little one. I started with carrots. This bag of organic carrots was only $.79! That comes out to less than $.10 per serving for organic baby food! Since then I have also cooked sweet potatoes, zucchini, peas, and pears. Jack seemed to like all of them except the zucchini.

3. Peel carrots. Your sink might look a little disastrous afterward. But just be thankful you don't have a hideous brown 1980s era sink like me (and if you do, I am sorry).

4. Place beautiful carrots on cutting board and slice.

4. Fill a large pot with water, place a steamer insert in it (this one came with this pot, but I think you can buy one if you don't already have one), cover, and bring to a boil. Add carrots, and cover again. Steam until carrots are soft, about 10 minutes.

Continued on next post...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Easy Shrimp Pasta

During my "cook with what you've got" phase, I was pleased when I found a bag of frozen shrimp in the freezer with a few shrimp left. So I cooked the shrimp in pan with a jar of marinara, minced garlic, and crushed red pepper. I made angel hair pasta, then threw the cooked pasta in the pan with the sauce and stirred it around. I then topped each pasta dish with shredded Italian cheese. This was a very easy dish to make, and pretty tasty!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Cook With What You've Got

Lately we have been a little tight with our budget as Josh was studying for the bar and we are transitioning with the move and everything. So I have been trying to create meals with things I had in the kitchen and not buy too many groceries. I was assuming this would mean we would be going vegetarian for awhile since meat can get expensive and isn't necessary. I was fine with a diet sans meat, but one day I looked in my freezer and found salmon. I was so excited (silly, I know), so I made baked curry salmon with peas and Mediterranean Curry Couscous. The couscous was from a box, it is the Near East brand. I had bought it awhile back when it was on sale at Whole Foods, I think it was about $1, so not bad. The peas were frozen peas in a steam in bag package, so easy. For the salmon, I wanted it to have a similar flavor to the couscous, so I melted butter in a dish, sprinkled a dash of curry powder in it and mixed in a clove of minced garlic and a little salt and pepper. I placed the salmon in a baking dish, poured the butter mixture over it, and baked it at 450 degree for about 12 minutes. The flavor with the curry butter sauce was delicious, but I think the salmon wasn't all that great. I think it was because I used a cheaper salmon. My new resolution is to buy all seafood and meat fresh from Whole Foods instead of getting frozen seafood and other meats from cheaper places. I think it will be worth the splurge. And I will just get most of my other ingredients from the less expensive stores.

Another dish I tried was this ravioli. I had bought sun dried tomato and goat cheese ravioli at Trader Joe's, so I spruced up the dish by cooking the ravioli, then putting it in a pan over medium heat with baby spinach, olive oil, and salt and pepper. I mixed it until the spinach was wilted. After putting it in our dishes I sprinkled a little parmesan cheese on top. It was pretty good, but I don't know that the ravioli was worth the cost. I am pretty sure a less expensive pasta would have been just as good, just add a little goat cheese and sun dried tomato too if you want those flavors.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

First Attempt at Tikka Masala

Are any of you fans of the show Next Food Network Star? I really love it, and I recently caught up on last season thanks to Hulu. My favorite contestant throughout the season was Aarti. She always had amazing food, and she had such a sweet, bubbly personality. She is a food blogger (although she writes about other subjects as well), and her blog is really fun. She is a strong Christian, and is not afraid to write about her faith. I was very excited when she won her own show on Food Network. Her show is called Aarti Party. She makes the most amazing looking dishes, many of which I plan to test in my kitchen.

As I have mentioned before, I absolutely love Indian food, especially Chicken Tikka Masala. I always thought I would love to find a good recipe for it and make it at home. So I was very excited when I found Aarti's recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala. The recipe was not too difficult to make, although there were some ingredients that were a little more difficult to find. For instance, garam masala, which is a spice blend, is not available at all grocery stores. I found it at World Market. The dish was very good, but I may want to tweak it a little more next time to add a little more flavor and spice. I used two serrano peppers, but next time I might use three or leave the seeds in since we like it spicier. Overall, it was good and I will try it again. I served it over rice with naan on the side...yum!

With our leftover naan and leftover zucchini I had, I made these delicious naan pizzas. Place a piece of naan on a pan, drizzle with olive oil, spread marinara sauce over it, and cover with thinly sliced zucchini and mozzarella. Bake at 400 degrees until cheese is nice and bubbly. This was so good, and I made it everyday until I ran out of naan! It makes a great meal served with a salad, or could be a fun appetizer for a party if you sliced it into strips. By the way, if you are wondering where to find naan, you can usually find it at most grocery stores. I found great naan at Trader Joe's here in Albuquerque. They had plain and garlic, both of which were delicious!