I thought I was finished making baby food a while ago when I posted my last baby food recipe at the end of November. It turns out I was wrong! My son, who is now 16 months old, refused to let me feed him at 10 months. Since then, he’s been feeding himself a very picky diet of organic cheese, cereal, dried fruit, bread, crackers and the occasional strawberry. Anything else lands directly on the floor. Did you see a vegetable in that list? Nope. He will stick a handful of sand into his mouth no problem. A perfectly roasted and maple glazed carrot? No way! Since he started self-feeding, he gets his vegetables from those expensive organic baby food pouches or when I add spinach or zucchini to his daily fruit smoothies.
Those store-bought organic baby food pouches can get expensive; costing almost $2 each for just 4 ounces. He eats up to three of them a day. This is why I purchased refillable snack pouches and started making my own homemade baby food recipes again, like this apple, blueberry spinach and banana puree. I’ll be posting more “sneaky veggie” baby food recipes as I go along. They all focus on adding vegetables and protein to tasty fruit purees and are so yummy, little ones don’t mind a bit.
This recipe for apple, blueberry, banana & spinach puree is one of our favorites. It has a beautiful blue color (which hides the spinach well). It’s so tasty; I sometimes squirt some into his milk and give it a shake to make blueberry milk!
I have to mention the reusable pouches I bought. I’m trying two different brands right now to see which ones I (we) like better, the Squoochi or the Little Green Pouch. Have you tried them? So far, I love that they both are dishwasher safe and freeze well. Also, the tops are all interchangeable with the store-bought pouches—a handy thing in case you lose one. I use my handy Cuisinart Mini Prep to get a smooth puree. It’s easy to clean and the perfect size for small batches of baby food.
I hope your little ones enjoy this recipe. Stay tuned for the next hidden veggie recipe! Until then, check out 10 delicious homemade baby food recipes.
Yield: About 1 1/2 cups baby food.
In a small saucepan, heat apple and blueberries over medium heat. Add water or juice and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until the apples are soft and the blueberries break down. Add the spinach and stir until wilted. Allow to cool.
Using a food processor, puree the apple mixture with the banana. Add water, milk or formula if you want a thinner consistency.
Disclosure: this post contains an affiliate link to a product I use and purchased myself.
I planned this Thanksgiving apple cake recipe for weeks, but never thought I’d be making it with a duck in my house. That morning, my son and I took a walk (he in his stroller). I cooked up my applesauce cake layers the day before, with plans to assemble the cake later that afternoon. While we were walking, I spotted some boys chasing a white duck in the yard across the street, which is an odd thing around these parts. I live in downtown Miami. We don’t have white, domestic ducks walking around. The duck was obviously stressed about the situation, so I called over to them, asking who the duck belonged to.
They didn’t know, but said they were trying to get the duck to go to the river. The Miami River. It’s a saltwater river full of boats and huge cargo ships. This is also not a good place for a white, domestic duck. The boys managed to herd the duck to my side of the street and I instructed them on the methods of duck herding (I’m not sure how I know this, but I do).
At this point, the duck decided to make a break for it through a fence into a neighbor’s backyard. This was a bad thing, because there are two big dogs in that yard. Sure enough, the dogs came running, and the duck spit out between the fence posts onto the sidewalk. It’s at this point I decide to save this poor creature, which would require picking it up.
I’m not adept at picking up unwilling fowl, but the duck was exhausted. I quickly grabbed it by the neck with one hand and scooped its wings in with the other. After a few sad quacks, the duck calmed down and I released its neck. The poor thing didn’t try to fight or peck. But now I had my hands full of duck and a stroller full of baby. How to get home? And what was I going to do with my duck?
My neighbor had emerged from her house at this point (thinking her dogs were attacking a bird). She was kind enough to walk back home with me, pushing the stroller. I ended up putting the duck in the shower for safe keeping. I have two big dogs in the yard and had no other safe place for her.
Fast forward and I’m assembling my cake to the sound of happy duck quacking coming from my bathroom. The duck was dirty from several days of wandering, so I turned the shower on just a sprinkle (it’s one of those nice, rain shower heads) and gave the duck a big bowl to sit in. She started bathing right away, fluffing her feathers and making happy sounds, just like ducks do.
Oh yes! We are making a cake. That’s what you are here for…not some crazy duck story. Did I mention how delicious this cake was? The applesauce cake layers came out beautiful and moist, recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen. I added my own cinnamon apple layer in the middle and rum-soaked raisins in the cake — completely optional if you don’t go for raisins. The apples cooked in a brown sugar caramel sauce add a decadent “apple pie” taste to each bite. Topped with a divinely light whipped cream frosting, this cake makes the perfect not-too-sweet Thanksgiving season dessert. It brought a whiff of Fall into this frustratingly warm-and-sunny Florida kitchen.
To finish off my story, Mrs. Duck, who we had by now determined was a young female Pekin, had most likely escaped from someone’s illegal backyard livestock cultivation, and was intended for dinner. Mrs. Duck was rescued by The South Florida Wildlife Center where they will find a safe place so she can live out her days peacefully with ducky friends.
Some more delicious desserts:
Preheat oven to 350° F/ 180° C.
Butter and flour two 8” round cake pans. Line with parchment paper if preferred.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in one bowl. In another bowl, beat together butter and sugar until fluffy and light in color, about 2-3 minutes. Drop in your eggs one at a time, beating on low speed in between. Add the applesauce and continue to beat on low speed until combined. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients until just combined. Stir in the walnuts or raisins if you are using them. The batter will have tiny lumps. This is fine.
Divide the batter evenly into the baking pans and cook 25-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pan for 15 minutes, and then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely. You can wrap the cakes in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator if you are baking them ahead.
In a heavy saucepan on high heat, add the apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter. Stir and cover for 2 minutes until the juices release from the apples. You need to quickly cook this, stirring occasionally, until the juice from the apples is cooked down into a slightly thick syrup. This should take about 5-10 minutes on high heat. Make sure the apples don’t scorch or brown. Once you can run a spoon across the bottom of the pan and see very little liquid remaining, remove the pan from the heat and allow the filling to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract on medium speed until smooth. Slowly add the cream while you beat on medium speed, scraping the sides of the bowl a few times. Continue to beat the mixture until stiff peaks form.
After cakes are completely cool, trim tops to make them flat (if necessary). Place one cake top-side down on your serving platter. I like to place it on parchment sheets which I remove after the cake is iced. This keeps the plate clean.
Take the apple slices and arrange them tightly overlapping each other. Working from the outside inward, use as many apples as you would like.
Place the second layer top-side down and ice the cake. Use the back of a spoon to create swirls. Place the cake in the refrigerator to set the icing.
Once a month we make a pilgrimage to Proper Sausages, Miami’s premier artisan sausage maker and butcher shop. Their handmade sausages are far from typical, with ingredients like New Zealand lamb, cognac and chanterelles. I usually just stock up on my favorite sausages, but this time I spotted some amazing Berkshire pork rib chops. These bone-in beauties were over an inch thick and beautifully marbled. Berkshire pork comes from a heritage breed of English black pig (from Berkshire, of course). Incredibly juicy and flavorful, this pork is part of the reason those Proper Sausages are so good.
Every now and then I splurge on some expensive, but hard to find grocery items. I would rather buy something a little pricey in the store and cook it up myself then go out and spend a fortune at a restaurant. We put on a movie, get cozy on the couch with the baby and enjoy a luxurious meal. Sure, it’s nice to get dressed up and go out, but when you have to schedule a sitter and have an early curfew; it makes going out a bit of a hassle.
Besides the sausages I keep on hand in the freezer, I usually don’t cook pork, mainly because it’s impossible to find organic, farm-raised pork in the supermarket. Because of the exceptional quality, I gave these chops a try, pairing them with creamy goat cheese polenta, grilled fennel and a sautéed apple. I was careful not to overcook them, browning them in a sauté pan before finishing them off in the oven. They came out perfectly juicy and incredibly flavorful — truly the best pork chop my husband and I have tasted.
These are cooked very simply, letting the quality of the meat stand out.Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F., and allow pork chops to come to room temperature. Pat dry and generously season the chops on all sides with smoked salt and pepper. Heat the oil on medium-high heat in an oven proof pan large enough to fit both chops. Add the chops to the pan and cook about 2 minutes on each side until brown. Place the pan with the chops in the oven for about 10 minutes until cooked through. Remove the chops from the pan and cover to keep warm.
You can use the pan drippings to make a sauce if you like (I didn't, but saved them for another meal). Just add about half a teaspoon of flour to the pan and your liquid of choice. This could be ½ a cup of cider, wine or stock. Stir in some seasonings like orange zest or peppercorns if you like. Once thickened and bubbly, season with salt and pepper for a delicious sauce.
Serving Size: 4
In a heavy saucepan, bring water, milk, and salt to a boil. Slowly add the polenta while stirring. Reduce heat to low, and cook for about 15-20 minutes, stirring every few minutes to prevent the polenta from sticking to the bottom or clumping. When the polenta is thick and creamy, remove from heat. Stir in butter, pepper and crumbled goat cheese and stir until the cheese melts. Taste for seasoning and serve.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Trim and clean fennel and cut into thick slices or quarters. Arrange on a roasting pan lined with aluminum foil and drizzle generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat with your hands. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes until the fennel is cooked and slightly brown.
Serving Size: 2
Heat oil and butter in a pan over medium-high heat until bubbly. Season apples with salt. Cover and cook on the cut side only until nicely browned. This will take about 5 minutes.
Sauteed apple recipe Inspired by Real Simple magazine’s pork chops with sauteed Granny Smith apples
I started this blog to exercise (or it is exorcise?) my creative muscles. Creating is what I do; whether I’m cooking, painting, writing or photographing. Now that I have it started, it’s crazy overwhelming! There is so much to set up, optimize, and install…certainly not an easy task for someone with an eight month old baby who just learned the joys of climbing up on things. Having time to actually cook and write up a recipe on a daily basis is daunting.
But let’s not look at the big picture. SMALL steps. In a direction. Any direction. Will get you somewhere.
Here’s my small step in the form of a fennel and apple slaw recipe. Fennel is one of my favorite vegetables and often overlooked. It’s crunchy and slightly sweet with a sophisticated anise taste. This recipe makes a great salad too; if you use larger slices. I served the slaw with some amazing and totally exciting (to me) fried whole smelts and buttery dill potatoes.
Yield: Serves 4
Julienne your fennel and apple on a mandolin and mix together in a bowl. Wisk together the remaining ingredients and toss salad to coat. Garnish with additional fennel fronds for color.
I’ve been making baby food for my little one since he started to eat solids at six months. I started with a book of recipes, but soon left the book on the shelf to create my own. Now that he’s 8 months old, I sometimes just puree what we are having for dinner. He loves variety and I can see the excitement on his face when he tries new foods. He’s already had every type of seasonal organic fruit and veggie I could get my hands on, plus yogurt, cheese, beef, chicken, rabbit, lamb, octopus and fish. That’s quite a good start for my little foodie-in-training!
This recipe is a basic one I keep on hand, changing the ingredients according to what I find at the market. Something I like to do is roast my veggies instead of boil them. The flavor is much more intensified, because the water is removed from the veggies as they roast. Quinoa is a great way to add protein and it cooks faster than other grains.I bump up the protein and flavor by cooking it in chicken broth.
Roast the sweet potato and apple whole without oil in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. You should see juice coming out of the potato and the apple skin blistering. Remove from the oven and let cool.
In a pan, combine the quinoa, thinly sliced carrots and chicken broth. Add any seasonings like ginger and cinnamon here. Simmer covered for about 15 minutes. You will know the quinoa is done when little sprouts pop out from the seeds and the liquid is absorbed. Carrots should be fork tender. Let cool.
Peel the skin from the sweet potato and apple. It should come right off in your hand. Slice the apple from the core. Combine all ingredients in a food processor (I use a Cuisinart mini prep for this job). Blend until smooth, adding additional liquid until you get the consistency you like.