Baby Food Recipes

Baby Food

So I think I know why baking has become so “meh.” I found something else I love to do in the kitchen: making food for Giacomo. I stocked up and made over 30 pouches of baby food.  I still buy baby food, especially when it’s on sale, but I like knowing I have my homemade options too.

baby foods

I made:
Beets, spinach, and blueberries
Tropical fruits: Banana, pineapple, peaches, apricots, and mango
Sweet potatoes, apples, cinnamon, and blueberries
Butternut squash, peaches, pears, and apricots with ginger
Mixed veggies with garlic.
Sweet potatoes, apples, bananas, and cinnamon
Carrots and Peas

Not pictured here is peas and carrots. I forgot I reheated those in the microwave.
Baby Bullet

Making baby food is super easy. There is little to no cooking required. I used my baby bullet. Do you need a baby bullet? No. A regular blender or food processor will do. I even use an immersion blender for bigger batches because I know it won’t all fit in the bullet. The baby bullet is what my husband would call a UKG. Unnecessary Kitchen Gadget. It’s unnecessary because a regular blender or a hand blender will do just fine.

Hand Blender

But let me ask you this: does a regular blender have an adorable smiley face? Does it come with tiny food containers who also smile at you?

Baby Food Bottles

No. It doesn’t. So I relish in my UKG!

Another kitchen gadget I use (which even Matt agrees is totally necessary) is the Infantino squeeze station. I love this thing. It’s so much fun squeezing the food into the pouches. I label and freeze the baby food and Jack’s set for a while. The only foods I haven’t made yet are meats, and that’s because I have my own meat aversions.

Pouch Maker

Plus, Jack has a tooth! He’s eating soft rice, cereal bites, and pastas now, and it won’t be long until he’s done with purees. I’ll still make him fruit purees and pouches though for a while. They’re a great snack. I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of the Infantino either. My friend Maureen had a great idea for another use of them: Adult fruit pouches spiked with the alcohol of your choice! I’ll definitely try those one day, but probably not until I’m sure I won’t, in a crazy mom rush, accidentally give Jack a boozy fruit pouch!

Recipes:

For all recipes that require cooking, cover food with water just enough to cover food. Cook until soft enough to blend.

Cooking Food

Cook food before pureeing and cool before packing.

To save time, I used the pre peeled and cubed sweet potatoes and butternut squash. I also used some canned food to save time, but you can definitely use fresh. You just need to peed and cube everything before cooking if you use fresh. Generally, I’ve noticed about 3-4 fruits = 1 can. Rinse any canned fruit that is packed in syrup or juice. Don’t use fruit sweetened with artificial sweetener. If you prefer fresh fruit, simply prepare as directed above.

Beets, spinach, and blueberries

1 can sliced beets, drained & rinsed
1/2 a bag of steam-in-bag spinach
1 cup blueberries

Steam spinach in microwave (use the other half of the bag for another recipe).
Blend together fruits and vegetables until desired consistency. Add water by the tablespoonful if needed.

Tropical Fruits

1 1/2 banana
1 mango
1/2 can of peaches, drained & rinsed
1/4 can of apricots, drained & rinsed
1/2 can of pineapple, drained & rinsed
1/2 can of pears, drained & rinsed

Blend fruits together until desired consistency. This should be soft enough, but add water if needed.
Tropical Mix

Sweet potatoes, apples, cinnamon, and blueberries

1 cup sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 1/2 large apple, peeled, cored, and cubed
1 cup blueberries
dash of cinnamon

Cook apples and sweet potatoes. Add blueberries and cinnamon and blend to desired consistency.

Butternut squash, peaches, pears, and apricots with Ginger

1 1/2 cups of butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1/2 can of pears, drained & rinsed
1/2 can of peaches, drained & rinsed
1/4 can of apricots, drained & rinsed
Dash of ginger

Cook squash. Add fruits, ginger, and blend to desired consistency.

Mixed veggies with garlic.

1/2 bag of spinach
1 1/2 cups butternut squash
1 cup sweet potatoes
1 cup baby carrots
1 cup peas frozen
1 medium or 2 small cloves of garlic

Cook all the veggies and blend to desired consistency

Sweet potatoes, apples, bananas, and cinnamon

1 cup sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 1/2 large apple, peeled, cored, and cubed
1 1/2 bananas
dash of cinnamon

Cook apples and sweet potatoes. Add bananas and cinnamon and blend to desired consistency.

Peas and Carrots

1 cup baby carrots
1 cup frozen peas

Cook and blend to desired consistency.

For those of you who know me well, you know one of my favorite foods is beets. I have been known to force them on people, and now I am starting the brainwashing process for my son. I don’t seem to have to try to hard though. He loves beets already!

Jack likes beets!

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Giacomo Loves Food

My Jack is a big boy. Unlike his super short mom, Jack is in the 99th percentile for height, and thus in the 78th for weight. I still nurse him, but the boy has one big appetite. He always seemed hungry, so we got the OK from his pediatrician to start on solids at 4 months.

Jack Eating at 4 Months

Jack Eating at 4 Months

I started making some of  Jack’s baby food as soon as I started feeding him solids. I want to do my best to make sure that Jack isn’t a picky eater, although I’m not sure how much of that I can control.

I was a picky eater as a kid, but I was the good kind of picky. I was a food snob.  My grandmother raised me homemade food and vegetables straight from our garden. I turned my nose up at canned tomato sauce and ready-made meals and openly called foods gross (which is an interesting trait, considering my line of work now). It got to a point where I was embarrassing my mother when she took me to non-family members houses who didn’t cook up to my standards. Then I became a novelty to her friends. I must have been between 4 and 5, but I clearly remember a few different occasions when I’d be at one of my mom’s friends’ house with a plate of pasta before me and a group of adults standing around waiting for the tiny critic’s review. If I liked the food, I’d keep eating and the host would wear a proud smile, sighing of relief. If I didn’t like the food, I’d scrunch up my nose, grunt a little, and say I wasn’t hungry. Mom would then smile and say “told you” to her friend. She told me she’d only let me eat at someone’s whose food she already tasted and thought I’d like, and the times I didn’t eat the food were times when people didn’t believe her that a kid could really know the difference between homemade and jarred sauce. They basically put me in blind taste test with homemade sauces vs jarred sauces, and I could always tell the difference. I’m sure sauces are a million times better now than they were when I was a kid, but I haven’t tried any to be sure.

Mama's Homemade Cavatelli and Sauce

Mama’s Homemade Cavatelli and Sauce

I’ll never be the chefs my grandmother and mother are. My garden outside is not nearly as abundant as Mama’s (whose is though. You should see the stuff she grows!), and I do take advantage of frozen vegetables, especially when it’s not the season for fresh veggies. Even still, I think I fair pretty well in the kitchen. I know that if I expose Jack to different things now, he’ll have a wider palate and enjoy more foods. That’s really important to me because, hey, I AM Italian, and to us food is love. If I can nourish him and make him healthy and strong with what I feed him, it’s just another way of showing him how much I love him.

That’s part of why I’m so glad I’ve been able to nurse as long as I have. My goal was 6 months, and I made it! Jack is a healthy 6 month old baby! Now everything else is a bonus. I try to eat as healthily as I can and a wide variety of foods. Some flavors do transfer to breast milk, so I’m hoping that Jack will develop a taste for lots of foods.

What a wonderful 6 months it has been!

What a wonderful 6 months it has been!

Jack loves his oatmeal and fruits (especially bananas), but he’s not too keen on green vegetables. I have to mix his peas with carrots or his green beans with sweet potatoes or fruit for him to eat it without a fuss, but he’s getting there.

Now that I know he’s not allergic to a lot of foods, I’m making his meals more interesting. I started playing around with spicing up his food choices this weekend.. Yesterday I added garlic to his green beans and guess what? He liked it! I didn’t have to mix any sweet fruits or veggies in with them. So my persistence paid off! Today, he had some oatmeal mixed with sweet potatoes, apples, and cinnamon. Yum!

He's becoming a much neater eater!

He’s becoming a much neater eater!

I don’t solely use homemade baby food. I just don’t have time for that, but I do make foods in bulk and freeze it. Along with the green beans and garlic and sweet potatoes with apples and cinnamon, I also made carrots with peas amd butternut squash with peaches, bananas, and ginger. So far he likes them all! My freezer is now filled with baby food and breast milk. My how life has changed.

Lots of baby food!

Backyard Camping

It’s been a crazy August in our house. I’ve been wanting to start the baby room, but right now it’s still a storage space. We have to water proof the basement first so our things don’t get ruined. It’s been feeling a bit cluttered, but not cluttered enough to cancel our backyard camping with my nieces and nephew!

 InstagramCapture_78fc8b8d-5c21-42b8-a1bb-45b559247f34_jpgFire Pit Time!

Matt finished the rock wall around out fire pit,

IMG_8640

and it’s the perfect space for marshmallow roasting

Marshmallow Roasting

and making s’mores.

S'more!

Matt helped them pitch a tent, which was a fun play space.

Tent Time

Everyone decided to actually sleep in the living room instead of the tent because of some drizzling rain, but we made sure we’ll have another camping day when the weather is better!

InstagramCapture_faaf0b15-7763-44fe-964f-8a9b3a51eed4_jpg

The next weekend we finally made Angelina’s Titanic shadow box. She knows everything there is to know about the ship, and the shadow box includes commemorative coins, pictures of the actual ship, Rose’s hair clip and necklace, and even a piece of coal from the actual ship!

Titanic Box

The kids are all on vacation this week with my parents, but should be back this weekend. I miss them! I’ll need to post my beach wreath and fairy garden soon. Happy end of summer!

Irish Potato Candies: Happy St Patrick’s Day!

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

Today my mom is making some corned beef and cabbage and I made some Irish potato candies for dessert. They aren’t actual potatoes, but cream cheese and coconut candies rolled in cinnamon to look like tiny potatoes just dug up from the ground.

Irish Potatoes

Irish potato candies are super-fast and easy festive candies to make for the holiday. Just cream together a stick of butter, half a package of cream cheese, and 1-2tsp of vanilla. (you can also use whiskey instead of vanilla).Blend together 4 cups of powdered sugar. It’s easier if you blend it 2 cups at a time.

Almost finished

Use whiskey instead of vanilla to make more sophisticated candies

Mix in 2.5 cups of shredded coconut.

Ready to shape

Some people like larger potato candies, but I like to make mine bite sized. Spray your hands with some Pam and use your hands to mold the potatoes into an oblong, potato shape.

Rolling assembly line

Roll the potatoes in cinnamon to coat. If you like, you can add a bit of cocoa powder to the cinnamon for a more “dirt” look and for the cocoa flavor.

Roll in cinnamon

Line the “potatoes” on a baking sheet and chill until their firm. I put the candies in mini muffin cups before serving. Yum!

Just chill and eat!

I also did some last second decorating today. Last year, in early March, I barged into work very aggravated telling Meghan, “Apparently you can’t buy a cauldron after Halloween.”  To which she replied, “You know I have no idea what you’re talking about.” I have been trying to find a plastic cauldron to fill with chocolate coins for St. Patrick’s Day for a long time. Even this past Halloween I looked for some, but they all had pumpkins or Halloween writing on them. I finally found some online and ordered a few, and they just came in today. I guess one day of display is better than none. Of course, I didn’t have any chocolate coins, so I used my clovers instead and plastic coins for the small pots. I’m thinking next year I can put the pots on some cotton and have a rainbow display too.

I finally found my cauldrons!

We’re using St. Patrick’s Day to celebrate 2 birthdays. Yesterday we celebrated my Mama’s 83rd birthday. Some of her grand-kids will be away on her actual birthday, so we decided to celebrate early.

Mama's girls

She’s our Queen Bee, but the kids wanted her to be a princess for the day. We made her wear a princess crown and all!

Happy Birthday Mama!

Tonight we’re celebrating Matt’s birthday. His birthday is really tomorrow, but he’ll be celebrating by doing what he loves best, and what made me fall in love with him to begin with, playing hockey. He didn’t want to have a cake or celebrate, but that’s just silly. He’s almost finished with his docorate and has been working such long hours finishing things up. He deserves a little celebrating from us all. 🙂

Labor Day Luau Cake

It’s only Wednesday, and I’m already missing my Labor day off. The long weekend was both fun and restful, with boat rides, BBQs and pool time. My Aunt Roe had a BBQ on Sunday for the holiday, and I was in charge of bringing a dessert. My cousin Cretia gave me the idea to make a hula dancer cake, and I’ve been itching to have a reason to make it for weeks now! I decided she was a good cake for our end of summer Labor Day celebrations.

Her directions were to use an 8” square cake, a 9” round cake, and a 9”x13” rectangle cake. Making those sizes would require about 2 boxes of cake mix (1 box for the large rectangle, another for the square and circle). I did not have those size pans, so I improvised. I used 6” square, 8” square, and 5” round pans and only 1 box cake mix.  (I think as long as you have a variety of pan sizes, you could bend the rules a bit and make the design work with any size pans).

Use what you've got!

After the cakes are cooled, use a serrated knife to cut the body shapes out of the square cakes. I found it easier to place the cakes in a line and cut out an hourglass shape. 

Make her curvy :)

Then, use the leftover triangles for the arms and legs and assemble the body. I trimmed some of the cake to make her look less angular.The left arm isn't trimmed yet in this pic, but I trimmed off the corners.

Now time to frost! Frosting this cake is the hardest part, especially around the edges where you’ve cut. Use flesh colored food coloring from Wilton. You can get them at Michael’s or A.C. Moore. As you can see, some dope in my house mixed the caps up on my food coloring, so my hula dancer came out looking like she had a really bad, Velveeta cheese, spray tan experience. (For the record, I am that dope).

She made me crave Mac & Cheese after this…but I’m still dieting!

I let my nieces take over from here with the decorating. We cut strips of blue and yellow Fruit Roll-Ups and twirled them for the skirt, and used strips of orange and red roll-ups for her hair and Froot Loops for her eyes. Jenna even though to put one eye “a little under her hair so it’s like her hair is in her eyes.”Time to decorate!

Her coconut bra is made of thin mints and Twizzlers, and some slivered almonds were scattered throughout her skirt and used to make a bracelet. Her nose is the tip of a marshmallow ice cream candy, and we had her hold the rest of the candy.

The artists

This was such a fun cake for me and the kids, and at the end of our BBQ, she was eaten all up! Our cake came out cute, Cretia’s came out even cuter! Thanks Crea!

Texas Craft House

blood, sweat, and glitter y'all