Friday, September 6, 2013

Very Hungry Caterpillar 1st Birthday Party

WP turned 1 last month and we hosted some friends and family for a Very Hungry Caterpillar themed party. I'm not very creative but I was pretty proud of my party setup.

I tied green balloons to a long piece of yarn an topped it of with a red balloon for the caterpillar's head to drape over the mirror. I also made the happy birthday bunting with green and yellow construction paper and threaded yarn through holes I made with a hole puncher. My best advice for the bunting is to use a pattern to cut out the flags - do not try to free-hand it. Cut equal rectangles for the letters so they're all the same size.
My snack table got a lot of complements.

My rainbow fruit salad was my favorite.

Pretzels, pita chips & hummus, spinach dip, lemonade and fruit skewers (green grapes with a strawberry tip to mimic the balloon caterpillar) were also on the table.

I just did green and red frosted cupcakes arranged like the caterpillar to avoid a cake disaster. 

I'm very proud of this, it's a list of what he ate during his first year. Collin and I came up with the list from memory so I'm sure we forgot a lot. WP is a great eater so this was a cute project. You can see that I put WP's face on the caterpillar's body.

My only regret is that I didn't buy enough beer. I had plenty of hard liquor left but ran out of beer early. Other than that, the party was a huge hit!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Rutabaga & Butternut Squash Baby Food

This kid has been the best eater, I'm very fortunate. The bulk of his meals have come out of the bargain produce bin. I steam up whatever's on sale, purée it, pour it into ice molds and store it until I need it. 

Baby food should only be stored for up to 3 months but I've never had anything last longer than 2 weeks with my guy.

Rutabaga & Butternut Squash Purée

Wash, half and remove the seeds from the butternut squash. Place it flesh side down in a baking dish with an inch of water. Bake at 375 for 30 min or until soft. Allow it to cool completely.

Sweat 1/2 onion and a few cloves of garlic in butter. Purée these first and well. Even if you're making this for an older baby who can handle chunks, be sure the garlic and onions are small.

Peel, chop and steam the rutabaga. Typically, they are covered in a layer of food wax to keep them fresh. Wash it thoroughly with soap and water before you peel the outer layer off completely. Cut the pieces small to shorten steam time. I usually go for about 7 min or until fork tender.

(This is the rutabaga after I transferred it to a frying pan because the steamer was causing a strange reflection.)

Add the rutabaga to the food processor and purée until its a little chunky. You may want to add a little rutabaga cooking water to thin it out.

Scoop out the butternut squash flesh and add it to the food processor. Purée to desired consistency.

To freeze, scoop the purée into and ice tray. (Buy BPA-free ice trays!)

Smooth it with a spatula. Depending on the size of the squash and rutabagas, you may fill a bunch of trays.

I store my frozen food in a glass container inside a freezer bag. 

This is cheaper and better for your baby than jarred foods. You'll expand baby's palate and look like a baby food chef. The chopping is time consuming but once you have a bunch of frozen baby food stored, just pull a few cubes (mix and match with other baby recipes) and microwave for 90 seconds.  To thicken, add some rice cereal or baby oatmeal, to thin, add water.

Bon appetit!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Tomatillo salsa (salsa verde)

I need to figure out how to grow tomatillos in my yard next because I love my salsa verde recipe. Again, just like everything else I make, it's super easy.

Preheat the oven to 350

1 large purple onion, chopped

1 lb of tomatillos, paper removed/washed/chopped

Peppers, chopped (all the peppers and heat you can handle or want)

Combine them in a bowl and add about a 1/2 cup of olive oil, stir

Add them to a 9x11 pan and put them in for 30 minutes

Let it cool before you add it to the food processor.

Chop it to your preferred texture. If you're going to serve it as a salsa, go small. If you're going to add it to rice or quinoa, keep it chunky.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Pear and Nectarine Baby Food

Nectarines were 69 cents/pound at the produce store this week so I went crazy and bought 2 pounds. Last time I made nectarine baby food, it was a little strong for WP so I decided to calm it down by adding pears. This recipe is easy. I wouldn't do it if it was complicated.

Slow Cooker Nectarine & Pear Baby Food 

1-2 pounds of nectarines, chopped

1/2-1 pound of pears, chopped

1 cup of water

Put it all in the slow cooker. Set the timer for 2 hours, low temp. Don't stir, don't mash, don't touch...just go do something else.

When the timer goes off, use an immersion blender.

Purée completely or just give it a quick hit with the immersion blender. Since I'm feeding a nearly one year old* I left a little chunk in it.

Let it cool, then spoon it into ice cube trays and freeze it. I store the cubes in glass containers inside freezer bags to prevent freezer burn. But don't worry, even if they are freezer burned, my kid loves it, he's not picky.

*Has it already been a year?!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Pickled Radishes

I was recently faced with a quandary from my garden bed harvest: 

What do you do with a boatload of radishes? 

I turned to my vintage (read: saved from the garage sale pile from my parents' 2012 move) cookbooks for an answer. While the radish jelly in "Joy of Cooking" 1962 version looked tasty (or disgusting) I opted for pickling. Pickles? GOOD. Radishes? GOOD. It's like stepping up to bat and pointing to the left field bleachers. Get ready spectators, you're about to experience a home run.

The recipe couldn't be easier.

Radishes, halved or quartered: stems, leaves and roots removed

5-10 peeled garlic cloves (per quart canning jar)

I tsp ground pepper or whole peppercorns per jar

1tsp sugar per jar

1tsp Kosher salt per jar

2 cups vinegar per jar

Drop quart glass jars and lids into boiling water for 3 minutes to sanitize. For the amount of radishes I harvested, I used 2 quart jars.

Cut stems and roots off your boatload of radishes (I steamed and puréed the leaves for additions to baby food) and half or quarter the radishes.

Add garlic, salt, sugar, pepper to the jar.
I used 5 cloves because its what I had on hand.

Add the radishes to the jar.

I added some pepper on top.

Pour the vinegar over the radishes. Seal the jars and shake until the sugar dissolves.
Put them in the refrigerator for at least a week, shake once a day.

They're tasty and super easy. I've been adding them to salads and I bet they'd be awesome on a sandwich or burger if they were sliced thinly or added to coleslaw for a pickled flavor.

Radishes germinate in 3-5 days and are ready to harvest after 30 days. They'll grow in almost any climate and they need full sun. They are low risk/high reward and will make your neighbors think that you know what you're doing.