Homemade Baby Food
Welcome to my September SRC post as part of Group A! I’m still in shock how long I’ve been doing this blog which is why it hurts to say that this is going to be my next to last post. While I’m still cooking (and eating!), I’m spending little to no time researching and developing new recipes – which is rather essential as a food blogger. Right now my days are spent as a jungle gym and I’m okay with that. Most likely I’ll come back to the blog, probably as soon as spring time but right now I’m doing lots of family favorites. However, I did want to finish out my commitments to the SRC which had been such a huge part of my blogging identity. This month I was assigned a blog with one of the most hilarious “origin” stories out there – it involves a muffin burnt so badly that it went THRU an apartment wall when tossed. I can soooo relate to that – as well as the desire to focus on healthy recipes while still being tempted by the good things in life such as caramel and nutella (or biscoff)!!!!! Burnt Apple is run by an awesome mom of three kids who is juggling normally mom life along with some pretty intense medical issues such as Type I diabetes and colitis. I found soooooo many vegetarian friendly recipes on her blog, including variations of some of my family’s favorite such as sweet potato black bean quesadillas. However in the end the part of her blog that I HAD to focus on was her small but awesome section dedicated to baby food. Baby E started doing solids a few months ago and it has been such a learning curve in regards to texture, color, and temperature. As it gets closer and closer to the time I return to work I’m also starting to think about what I can do now to make things easier. One of those is prepping baby food and WOW did I strike gold in being partnered with Burnt Apple. She has a two column color-coded guide to freezing baby food as well as one of the easiest baby friendly applesauces out there – plus a healthy first birthday cake (which we’re going to need very soon).
This month I did things a bit differently and instead of doing a “recipe”, I essentially did her entire freeze column using her “how to make baby food” and “baby food delicacies” posts. All of the items I made can be stored for up to a month, which is great since husband is starting a new job this week and will have some rather insane hours for the next few weeks. This way I can pick out baby girl’s meals the night before and just toss in the fridge to thaw before reheating. I’m hoping that eventually I’ll be able to do this in the hour suggested – maybe then I can get back to blogging!!!! I used a Ninja in place of a food processor and my Doctor Who Silicon Ice Cube Trays since 1) they hold just over 2tbsp and 2) everything pops out of the super easy. The top picture is squash by itself while the second one is her apricot puree – which was a HUGE hit. I’m hoping to do her Garden Vegetable combo this week since we have now checked all those veggies off on their own.
Austin Black Beans
Hey everyone! Only a week since my last SRC post thanks to May’s bonus week. This week is my “normal” group A post – but there is nothing normal about the blog I was partnered with. I’m very lucky in that I’ve had Leslie’s Cocina de Leslie blog twice so far, once as my regular assignment and once when I decided to adopt a blog while 38wks pregnant. Leslie’s blog has soooo many amazing recipes that when the powers that be offered to switch me for a “new” blog I told them there was NO NEED to be hasty – that I could happily and easily find something new to make. With that, this post was supposed to be all about her Mole Ranchero. While the ingredient list is a bit daunting, the dish came together in no time at all. However my camera man got a bit peckish and ate the sauce set aside for the photo as a post dinner snack. So…back to my very long list of recipes! I had marked her Austin Black Beans when I adopted Leslie’s blog so was thrilled that some nasty weather made it the perfect time to give them a whirl. I used the vegetable oil instead of lard and left out the lime juice due to my allergy. I also added the cilantro straight to my bowl as it tastes metallic to hubby and totally omitted below.
Another great recipe from Leslie! So glad there was an oops and that I got another excuse to explore her blog – think I have a good dozen recipes to try! This meal would also freeze well for the slow cooker, just add the 8 cups of water directly to the slow cooker along with all the ingredients. Instant dinner!!!
Another one of my awesome freezer meals – this time one that also doubles as a great way to clean out the fridge/freezer! Once we had finished prepping my list of meals, I checked what I had left and decided I could squeeze out at least one more meal. This hodge podge of ingredients was fantastic last weekend when Mother Nature decided we needed another round of cold weather, to include snow!
We topped this with cheese but chives, sour cream, guacamole or nothing would also work. As for the vegetables, whatever you have on hand will work.
Northern Bean Cassoulet
Quick and easy, or in the very least easy, is what I’m all about these days. Which is why each week since the arrival of our little girl, I’ve made at least one of our freezer meals. Just pop it in at some point around lunch (whenever that is) and there will be something warm to eat come dinner (whenever that happens). I tried to add as many vegetables as possible to these meals in an attempt to maintain a balanced diet – even tho there is nothing wrong with having ice cream for breakfast! I’ve made bean casseroles before but for this I want to jam as many veggies in as possible and with it being late fall when I prepped these meals, I went heavy on the root vegetables.
For a gluten free option just use your favorite GF breadcrumbs or go for something like hemp seeds. Protein, vegetables, and the perfect sauce for some crusty bread makes for a fantastic dinner. To really speed things up, use Gourmet Garden garlic pastes and their Italian Herb paste – tho be warned these do contain whey so are not suitable for vegans but are gluten free.
Spinach and Mushroom Stroganoff
In the weeks leading up to little one’s arrival, I tried to prep as much as possible in regards to food so that even if I was functioning on two hours there would still be something edible. With that, about a month before D-day my mom and sister came up from VA for a day of (in my opinion) fun prepping two dozen freezer meals. While a few of them were some old favorites (stuffed shells, enchiladas, and lasagna) that would just need to be popped in the oven, the rest were variations of recipes I had been collecting and tweaking in order to make them freezer AND slow cooker ready. I read soooo many articles about freezer meals, taking notes on what freezes super well (presoaked bagged beans, tomatoes, peppers, etc) and what does not (coconut milk, sour cream, cream cheese) and special items where the other ingredients determined if it would freeze well (tofu is awesome solo or just with veggies but no sauces). Once I had identified what meals I wanted to try I then set out to make the ultimate shopping list while keeping to a very tight under $10 per meal with each meal making 4-6 servings.
Some of these meals, everything is in the bag and it just goes straight in. With others there are things to add day of (extra stock, coconut milk, etc) or a side dish that needs to be prepped. Like today’s dish, Spinach and Mushroom Stroganoff. This was one of the first dishes on my list and is a variation of my standard stroganoff just with more “green stuff”.
One of the biggest tips I can give is if you are having people helping you make sure the ingredients are set up in a way that flows. This is something I did not do and it resulted in lots of extra work until I put my Lean Sigma hat on (yes, I’m a dork) and figured out how to eliminate a good chunk of the transportation/motion waste that was happening. To get the meals out of the freezer bag, place in bag in hot water for 5 minutes then use a knife to cut a slit along the side of the bag, then open the top and peel back from the corner (if using a zipper bag cut the side the zipper is one when closed).