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How to make baby food purees

Hello, strangers! I am re-emerging into blogdom with a hopefully helpful tutorial on making baby food purees. This is a task I’ve been spending some time on lately, as Henry recently started eating solid food.

So yeah, I make almost all of his food at this point. It’s not because I aspire to be Martha Stewart, but for several practical reasons:

It is way cheaper. It is really, really easy. When it’s time to introduce a new food, it’s easy to just dig through the fridge and pull out something I already have.

Babies are just eating cereal and fruits/veggies at the very beginning, and this makes the job of making their food pretty straightforward. You just cook up the fruits/veggies and combine them however you want. A few things about my process and opinions on the whole thing, which you may or may not care about but I’m going to mention anyway because that’s how I roll:

I don’t make cereal because the store-bought stuff is iron-fortified, and babies usually need an extra iron source starting at around 6 months. Plus, the cereal flakes are . . . → Continue Reading: How to make baby food purees

Chard and Spinach with Cashew Cream

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I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m not a big fan of greens cooked by themselves. In soup, great, but when I think of braised or boiled greens I think of those nasty canned versions that line the shelves at the  grocery store. That are all slimy and whatnot. And smell gross. I’m getting the heebie jeebies just thinking about them.

However, we are in the south, and greens are abundant here. When I started eating more seasonally and greens started showing up in my Greenling Local Boxes, I figured it was time to come up with a way to cook them that didn’t repulse me. It turns out that if you don’t boil the crap out of the greens, they don’t end up slimy and gross. Who knew? Happily I’ve had success with sauteeing greens, like with these pineapple collards that were frickin’ awesome. This weekend, when a bunch of chard showed up in my box, I decided to come up  with something equally . . . → Continue Reading: Chard and Spinach with Cashew Cream

Tropical Oats

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Since the weather has been cool and breezy around here lately, last weekend I decided to start my morning with some warm oats.

Wait, what?

Actually, it got up to over 100 last weekend. The breeze was less refreshing and more like the air that comes out of your oven when you’re baking. I got a sunburn. But if I waited till the weather actually cooled off I might never eat warm oats because I’ve started to realize that it might actually NEVER GET COLD AGAIN here. I’m kind of jealous of the people on Game of Thrones who are always complaining that winter is coming. Sometimes I think I could deal with some white walkers if the temperature would just drop down to 70 or so during the day. Anyway, all that in mind, I sallied forth and ate these with the air turned down in the house, pretending like fall was already among us.

I have been trying to use up all the random stuff in my pantry, and when I . . . → Continue Reading: Tropical Oats

Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus

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A few weeks ago, an editor from The Alcalde contacted me about contributing a game-day recipe to the magazine. The Alcalde (pronounced all-CALL-day) is the University of Texas alumni magazine, and hearing from them actually made me a little nostalgic as I’d contributed several articles back when I worked at UT. The editor was looking to feature a few recipes from local food bloggers who were also alumni.

This Italian twist on hummus is what I came up with. I didn’t have to contribute an original recipe, but I’d been thinking about doing something different with hummus anyway, and happened to have some fresh basil and sun-dried tomatoes in the fridge. Thus, this fun dip was born. I served it with pepper strips, baby carrots, and whole-grain crackers. This makes a large batch, but it’s easy to halve for a smaller group. I used oil-packed, julienned sun-dried tomatoes because it was less work, but you can also rehydrate packaged, dried tomatoes in water and use those instead. It’s just that hummus . . . → Continue Reading: Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus

Peach-Mint Fizz

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We got our first batch of summer peaches this week, and I wanted to eat them without cooking the crap out of them. A nice, summery drink fit the bill. This recipe is more of a guide than anything, so feel free to play with the ingredient ratio till you get the drink tasting just right. The basic elements are fresh peach puree, mint syrup, and sparkling water, but f you are so inclined, add rum to make it a peach mojito.

Peach-Mint Fizz

4 peaches 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves 1 cup water 1 cup sugar Sparkling water

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Cut an X in the bottom of each peach and dunk them in the water for 45 seconds. Remove and plop into a bowl of ice water for a minute, just long enough so that you can pick them up. Slip the skins off the peaches, and core and slice them. Place in a blender and puree for a . . . → Continue Reading: Peach-Mint Fizz

Grilled Root Veggies

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This time of year always requires some creativity in the cooking department. We’re still getting a lot of winter produce, like beets and turnips, but it’s getting hot outside and I really try not to have the oven on for the long periods of time it takes to roast root vegetables like these. Sure, I could boil them, but I just feel like it leeches out a lot of the flavor.

So, what to do? I tested out a method of cooking root vegetables on the grill this weekend, and it worked like a charm. I didn’t heat up the kitchen on a day when the temperature outside was close to 90 degrees, the vegetables required minimal attention when cooking, and also picked up a little smokiness from the grill fire. I lined a grill wok with aluminum foil to cook the veggies, but you could also use a disposable aluminum pan, or even just a large foil packet. Either way, you get tender, flavorful winter vegetables . . . → Continue Reading: Grilled Root Veggies

Pasta with Chard and Chickpeas

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This recipe is for starch lovers. In case you were wondering, I am definitely a starch lover. If I could figure out a way to make it work, I’d combine potatoes and pasta. If you have an athletic event coming up, this would be an awesome source of pre (as in, the day before) -workout fuel.

But anyway, this is another one of those versatile recipes to which you could add any combo of greens and/or veggies. I had chard and mushrooms, so I added those, but I could see this working with spinach or arugula as well. If you have leftovers, toss them with a little marinara sauce before reheating to keep them from being too dry.

Pasta with Chard and Chickpeas (adapted from Fat-Free Vegan)

1 pound whole wheat rotini 1 tbsp olive oil 1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped 1 onion, thinly sliced 8-10 cloves garlic, minced 4 ounces mushrooms, sliced 1/4 cup tomato paste 1/4 cup water 1 . . . → Continue Reading: Pasta with Chard and Chickpeas

Potatoes and Squash with (Vegan) Parsley Pesto

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So, for the next few weeks, I’ll be eating a vegan diet. There are a couple of reasons for this:

1. I like a challenge. I want to learn to cook without staples like meat, eggs, and cheese, and still eat a balanced diet.

2. Ever since I got the flu in February, I’ve been sick with something or other. Vegans always talk about how awesome they feel, so I want to see if this is actually true or if they’re just trying to convince people to not eat animals. I know from my brief stint as a vegetarian that I’ll probably never be able to give up barbecue permanently, but if eating vegan, say, 90% of the time makes me feel awesome, that’s what I’ll do.

I concocted this recipe today to kick off my vegan-ness. Even though I’m not officially starting till tomorrow, I needed to go ahead and make something that would reheat well, use a lot of Greenling ingredients, and would . . . → Continue Reading: Potatoes and Squash with (Vegan) Parsley Pesto

Israeli Carrots

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This easy little recipe would make a great vegan Easter or Passover side dish. When I say easy, I mean that all you do is boil the carrots for a few minutes, mix up a lovely dressing with fresh herbs, olive oil, garlic, and cumin, and toss it with the warm carrots. Done and done. As a bonus, these guys taste good warm or at room temperature, so you can mix them up while you’re doing something else, and then forget about them till it’s time to eat. When you’re making a big holiday spread, a dish like this great to have in your back pocket.

Israeli Carrots (from Cooking Light)

1  pound  baby carrots, trimmed and halved lengthwise 1  garlic clove, chopped 1/2  cup  chopped fresh cilantro 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh dill 1  tablespoon  olive oil 1  tablespoon  fresh orange juice 1/2  teaspoon  ground cumin 1/4  teaspoon  kosher salt

1. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a saucepan. Add carrots; . . . → Continue Reading: Israeli Carrots

Pineapple Collards

Lately I’ve been re-reading two of my top three books, To Kill a Mockingbird and Gone With the Wind. As they are both set in the deep South, there are many mentions of collards in them, which are usually bathed in savory pot liquor and slowly cooked with some sort of smoky meat. While this is all good, as a Southerner I’m a little ashamed to admit that I’m not the biggest fan of collards. They’re ok, but I think the biggest issue right now is that spring is upon us and I’m a little tired of the greens that get us through winter.

This recipe, though, made me rethink my collard boredom. It bridges winter and spring/summer with the use of sweet pineapple, and has a great Asian flavor that is unlike any collard recipe I’ve come across. Indeed, this may be my favorite way to prepare them. It’s super fast and only calls for a few ingredients. I’m thinking chopped citrus (maybe oranges) would be a great substitute for the pineapple, and you can use any hearty green in place of the collards, if . . . → Continue Reading: Pineapple Collards