Baby Food

Teddy Bear Birthday Cake

teddy-bear-birthday-cake

I can tell you right now that one of the greatest joys of my life will be making my boys’ birthday cakes year after year. I love nothing more than homemade chocolate cake, and when I’m making one for such a happy joyous occasion, my heart explodes. I can’t wait to make them in the form of C-3PO or Batman or Sponge Bob of whoever these little guys of mine are obsessed with at the moment. And BTW, they WILL each get their own cake every year. They didn’t this year because they just really have no idea, and I personally am not in a place where I need two birthday cakes kicking around the house. I simply cannot control myself.

I’m not going to say how fast this year went because that’s a given. What has truly surprised me though is the amount of shear joy I get from these two little boys, and the strong bond that we have after only one year of life together. I can’t imagine a world without them in it. I also can’t imagine having only one of them – they are undeniably a perfect pair and my heart grew times a thousand to make room for the true love and obsession I have for these two baby boys.

Onto the cake. Just to put it out there, I am a terrible froster, terrible cake slicer, terrible artist, and I have zero patience for cake decorating. When I make my own birthday cake I literally slap on the frosting and douse it in sprinkles.  So when you consider making this cake, a) you’ll obviously note my less than perfect frosting job – but I’m telling myself that’s part of the baby theme and b) know that if I can make this, you FOR SURE can.  There’s something about my hands that just don’t agree with frosting cakes. So. I would definitely say as far as shaped cakes go, this is easy!

What you’ll need:

  • 2 8 inch round cake pans, buttered, floured, and lined with parchment (bottom)
  • 1 3.5 inch round cookie cutter
  • 1 large marshmallow
  • 2 flat chocolate discs (or something similar, for eyeballs)
  • Black gel icing (in a tube)

Cake Recipe

Frosting

  • 5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup + 1-2 tablespoons milk, divided
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted and divided
  • 1/3 cup semi- sweet chocolate chips, melted

Make the cake in the two 8 inch round pans, and let cool completely.  One will be for the face, the other will be used for the ears and nose.  Level the cake with a serrated knife if necessary.  Using the cookie cutter, cut out 3 circles from one of the cakes. One will be the snout, the other two will be the ears. Using a knife, cut off little rounded edges on the bottom of the ears so that they can lay flat against the top of the head.

To make the frosting, cream the butter and powdered sugar together. Add the vanilla and 1/4 cup of the milk. Add in just 1 tablespoon of the cocoa.  This will be the light brown frosting for the ears and snout. Remove about 1 cup of this frosting to a separate bowl.  In main bowl, add in remaining 4 tablespoons cocoa powder, melted chocolate chips, and remaining 1 tablespoon of milk (more as needed).  Frost the bear’s face and ears with the dark chocolate frosting. Frost the snout with the light brown, and add little dollops of the light brown for the center of the ears.

For the eye, cut two white eyeballs from the marshmallow by cutting off either end about 1/8 inch thick.  Secure the chocolate disk onto the marshmallow using a little frosting.  Place the frosted snout on the bear’s face, then add the eyes on top.  Paint on a nose and mouth with the black gel.  And that’s it! The snout tasted the best.

Banana Coconut Oatmeal

banana-coconut-oatmeal

There’s nothing genius about these ingredients. It has no unexpected components, combinations, or techniques. In fact this is indeed a very boring recipe. But there is something genius about the outcome. If you have a baby, feeding them can be a real pain. Mine really like to eat, and it’s STILL a pain. Sometimes they’re not in the mood for what you’re giving them (sorry guys I would let you just raid the fridge if you were able), sometimes they like to grab the spoon and fling it at you, and they ALWAYS like to smush at least 20% of what you’re giving them on the high chair seat, their clothes, and their hair. My guys are eating mostly finger foods now, but I haven’t changed one meal: breakfast. And that’s because I make this for them every morning and they literally scarf it down. No other word: scarf scarf scarf. It makes my mornings so much easier.  They love it so much and nutritionally, it’s brilliant.  I have no formal training in that department, but oats: fiber + plant protein; banana: it’s a fruit so lots of good stuff; cinnamon: I see it used as a spice in all sorts of health cookbooks; coconut milk: lots of healthy fat and calories and I’m sure some other stuff too. The calories is a big thing for me- I like a lot of bang for my buck with baby food, and the full fat coconut milk (the natural canned version, often found in the Asian aisle), makes this breakfast a heavy hitter. And the flavor combo is amazing; they love it because it’s sweet. This obviously doesn’t have to be baby food; if I were making it for myself I would probably sub with a lite coconut milk as I’m not trying to bulk up at this phase of my life.


PS-  sometimes I throw in a handful of berries for some more vitamin infusion.


Recipe (for 1)

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk (natural canned version; be sure to stir)
  • 1/4 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 banana
  • pinch cinnamon
  • optional – berries of choice

Combine the water, coconut milk, and oats in a saucepan over medium heat. Throw in the banana and a pinch or two of cinnamon. Bring to a boil and cook until done (a couple of minutes), smashing the banana with a fork or spatula along the way.  Stir to evenly distribute the banana and cinnamon and allow to cool.  If adding berries, add in the beginning to let them cook down a little. Use an immersion blender or potato masher to combine them into the oatmeal.

baby-food-beef-sweet-potato-apple

This is basically a fall stew for babies. A baby beef bourguignon, without the wine.  Although maybe next time to help everyone relax a little I could just add a little…. I’m kidding! I am.

I didn’t honestly think throwing beef into the baby food mix was going to go over well, but it did. The key is adding the apple and sweet potato for flavor and sweetness. They loved it! And I tried it – it’s good.

Recipe

  • 1.25 lb beef chuck (80/20)
  • 1 large apple or 2 small, peeled and sliced
  • 1 large sweet potato (mine was about 1 lb), cooked, peeled & sliced
  • 1.25 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Brown meat in a large pan. Drain the fat.  Meanwhile, poke holes in the sweet potato and microwave for 5 min (for a very large sweet potato).  Add sliced apple and peeled potato to the pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon and pour in water. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes (until apple is fork tender). Puree to desired thickness.

baby-food-chicken-with-pears-and-carro

Here’s what I’ve learned through the process of ensuring my babies are good eaters: if I like it, they’ll like it. In other words, babies have real taste buds. Did that ever occur to you? Because honestly it didn’t to me.  I often think of my babies as just cute little blobs. But it turns out that they like good flavorful food, and also their feet get cold.  I learned this after months of taking them out of the house barefoot.

So I’ve been focused on making my baby food so delicious that I would eat it.  Of course I would never choose to eat pureed chicken, but if I can get past the texture – I have to be sure that I would enjoy it. And y’all, this was a HIT. And I’m telling you this because it’s not that easy to get babies to eat chicken or other meats at a young age. Why would you want chicken when you can have sweet things like bananas and peaches and yogurt? But this – thanks to the added sweetness from the pears and carrot – was a great way to get them to chow down on some protein-heavy chicken.

Recipe

  • ~1 1/4 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 ripe pears, peeled, chopped and cores removed
  • 1 large carrot, UNpeeled and chopped into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the chicken (I used thighs for the higher fat content), and brown on both sides for a couple minutes.  Add the pear slices, carrot (unpeeled for nutrition), and water. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes (make sure chicken is done!).  Transfer mixture to a food processor, sprinkle in some cinnamon if you want, and puree to desired consistency.  This makes lots of extras to freeze!!

baby-food-chicken-with-cinnamon-apples

You guys, I like making baby food! It’s so satisfying. Finding flavor combinations they’ll like (which is really the same combinations we like), pureeing in the food processor, and then having so much extra to freeze. I personally feel like it’s easier to feed our babies this way, rather than buying the pouches or jars. Anyway, this was good. It tasted really good! And the babies loved it so I’ll definitely make looooots more. I actually think I’m inspired to make an adult version, so stay tuned.

Recipe

  • 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken tenders (or thin breasts)
  • 1 apple, peeled and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Cinnamon

Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Add the chicken, and brown for 2 min on each side. Add diced apple and water. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Pour everything into a food processor, sprinkle with several dashes of cinnamon, and puree to desired consistency.

baby-food-cheesy-chicken-broccoli-rice

Things have changed! I don’t just cook for my friends & family anymore – I now cook for two little tykes that love to eat just as much as their mom. While there are a lot of things different about cooking for a baby, the one that I am enjoying the most so far is that I haven’t gotten any negative feedback. Except for the time I misjudged how hot little Bax likes his food. I don’t think he liked that.

So, from time to time I will post baby/kid recipes. They will NOT overtake this blog, and they will NOT be perfectly tried and tested and exact on the measurements. We moms don’t have time for that! And if a baby dish wouldn’t get 4 stars in a restaurant, guess what? We’ll never hear about it.

Recipe

  • 1 serving cooked brown rice
  • ~3/4-1 cup cooked broccoli
  • ~1/2 cup cooked, shredded chicken
  • Cheese sauce: Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and whisk in ~1/2 tablespoon flour; Whisk in 1/2  cup milk and let thicken over low heat; stir in 3 tablespoons shredded cheddar
  • Water/milk, for thinning as necessary

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and puree until desired consistency. Add additional milk or water to thin it out as necessary for your baby’s age. I tasted this and loved it! Could use some salt, but best save that treat for when the kiddo’s get older. Freeze leftovers (there will be plenty)!