In the last several months, my once adventurous eater has become super-picky; something many parents deal with. My 14-month-old son, Grayson, won’t eat baby food despite my many recipes (he wants to feed himself). He won’t eat vegetables or fruit. He doesn’t like meat or pasta, either.
For months now, it seems he eats nothing but bread and cheese, with the occasional blueberry. He’s stuck in a perpetual land of appetizers and hor d’oeuvres! I haven’t been too worried about it, because Grayson is in the 90th percentile for weight. I’m still breast feeding him a few times a day and he takes a few sips of milk from a sippy cup. He also sucks down a mango puree (the only flavor he likes) once a day. Still, I would like for him to eat a balanced meal every now and then.
Since Grayson is good at sucking liquids through a straw now (there were a few months where a cup or breast were the only option—bottles were out the door at 8 months), I figured why not try a little strawberry smoothie in his milk?
It was an amazing moment. For the first time ever, Grayson drank down his whole cup of milk.
Now I make a new smoothie for Grayson every few days. I make a big batch (really, just a normal adult-sized batch) and mix them with his usual milk or water. I rarely serve him JUST a smoothie, because they can be thick and very sweet—naturally sweet.
I hide vegetables, vegetable juice, chia seeds, protein powder, and lots of fruit in his smoothies, so now I rest easy knowing he is getting all of the nutrition he needs.
This recipe for a strawberry smoothie was the one I started with. You can easily customize it for your baby and I’ve included lots of substitutions. Enjoy!
Add all ingredients to a blender. Process until smooth. Add additional water, juice, milk, breast milk or formula to thin to desired consistency.
I have to admit; this isn’t a typical recipe for me. Chocolate cups? Strawberry mousse? I think I spent a little too much time on Pinterest last week looking at Valentine’s Day desserts. I wanted to make a chocolate mousse with champagne zabaglione, inside a freshly baked chocolate tart shell. Maybe I will someday. When it came down to it, I was tired and didn’t feel like spending hours in the kitchen while my toddler fussed…only to make a big (bigger) mess of my kitchen.
All the egg yolks too. That dessert would have a ton of eggs in it. I couldn’t do it.
Instead, I made chocolate cups, which are super-easy. I also made a fresh strawberry mousse, which doesn’t have any artificial food coloring or flavoring (yum!). Piped into the chocolate cups and served with fresh strawberries, this recipe makes a romantic Valentine’s Day dessert, or anytime dessert. You can make the mousse more interesting by substituting your favorite liquor for the water in this recipe. Try it with port, or ice wine, or even vodka. It’s up to you how boozy you want to make it.
The mousse is very light and airy. It’s creamy, too, which pairs nicely with the crunch from the chocolate cup. Serve this strawberry mousse with a glass of champagne. Chocolate, champagne and strawberries just love to be together!
Adapted from Spoonful recipe
Pour the cold water (or liquor) into a small bowl and stir in the gelatin. Allow to stand for 2 minutes. Pour the boiling water (or liquor) over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
Set aside 6 strawberries for garnish. Clean and remove the leaf-ends of the remaining strawberries. Add the hulled berries, gelatin, lemon zest and sugar into a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.
In a mixing bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Set aside a few spoonful’s of whipped cream for garnish (whip in additional sugar if you want). Fold together the remaining whipped cream and strawberry mixture. If you are using chocolate cups, chill the mousse in a container before adding to the cups.
If you are not using chocolate cups, spoon the mousse directly into serving glasses. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Garnish with whipped cream and strawberries before serving.
Use disposable cups. Cut them down to the height you want them if they are too tall.
Add the chocolate to a dry glass bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds on the lowest heat setting (use the “melt” setting if you have one). Stir the chocolate. Continue to microwave in 20-30 second intervals, stirring in-between, until the chocolate in completely melted, but not too hot.
Using a spoon, add about 1 teaspoon of melted chocolate to the inside of the plastic cup. Smooth along the sides using the back of the spoon. Add another teaspoon and smooth again, running the spoon completely around the inside until completely coated with chocolate. Add a little to the bottom of the cup if necessary. You want a thin, even coating.
Chill the cups in the refrigerator for an hour, until set. To remove, peel the cup away from the chocolate, being careful not to leave fingerprints on side of the cup. It helps to hold the cup at the bottom with one finger on the top edge and one on the bottom. Chill cups again before adding mousse.
Fill chocolate cups with mousse using a spoon or piping bag.
Strawberries are not my favorite fruit, but they are the only reliable organic fruit that I can find on a weekly basis at my grocery store. I started roasting strawberries to incorporate into my little one’s baby food purees. They were so good; I became a little obsessed with them. Roasting makes them softer and increases the flavor. The liquid releases from the fruit, creating an all-natural, bright red syrup and the fruit develops an intense “strawberry” flavor. Many more roasted strawberry recipes are in the works, like this delicious brioche French toast with tarragon cream.
I make French toast nearly every time I buy a loaf of French bread or brioche (which isn’t often enough). Here in Miami, I have to drive a bit to get good bread, so it’s a special occasion. We hardly ever get through the bread in the first day, so the rest gets turned into a delicious breakfast. I wouldn’t bother making French toast without really good, thick bread. That’s what makes it so special!
I’ve made a few versions of this dish over the years, mostly using whatever I have on hand at the time. Try macerating the berries and using fresh whipped cream to make strawberry shortcake French toast. Sandwiching two pieces of French toast with sweetened mascarpone or ricotta cheese gives you a cheese Danish flavor. I used tarragon in this recipe, but some substitutes could be chopped mint, basil or even freshly ground black pepper. There are many ways you could make the cream, too. For my version, I used ½ Greek yogurt and ½ mascarpone cheese, thinned with milk. You can use all yogurt for a healthier version, or all whipped cream for a more decadent breakfast. Use whatever goodies you have available at the time and your creativity to create your ultimate French toast.
Yield: Serves 3
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Arrange the strawberries in a single layer in a roasting pan. Roast about 10 minutes, until the juice releases from the strawberries and thickens.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Whisk together whole milk, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla extract, salt and nutmeg and pour into a wide, shallow bowl. Place bread in the custard mixture in batches, leaving them to soak on each side 30 seconds. Remove bread from the custard and set aside.
Heat butter in pan on medium heat until it bubbles. Add the bread to the pan in batches, and cook until lightly browned on each side, 2-3 minutes. When all the pieces are finished, place them on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with cinnamon. Place in the oven and cook until puffed, about 5-8 minutes. Serve with maple syrup, topped with confectioners sugar, strawberries and cream (recipe below)
Mix yogurt, mascarpone cheese, tarragon and sugar. Add milk and mix until you see the desired consistency.