Tag Archives: toddler recipes

Live, Laugh, Love …and Cook!

If you think it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me…you’re right! It has been! This summer I took time to relax, recharge and reconnect with my son. I took full advantage of my summer off to spend time doing all of those mommy and me activities with lil’ Jojo that I miss out on during the school year. From Gymboree, to Mother Goose Rhyme Time at the public library, to weekly trips to the local beach,  Jojo and I lived the life of Riley for a couple of months 🙂 ! I was blessed.

Of course, with the extra time home I also found plenty of opportunities to experiment in the kitchen, which I LOVED! ( I will be sharing all of my delish- toddler approved recipes with you -no worries!!). I focused on finding and creating meals that would appeal to the whole family since Jojo hit many food milestones: learning to use a fork & spoon, developing a willingness to try new foods and expressing an interest in mommy and daddy’s food…which ultimately led to a newly found love for chicken … finally!!!  Of course I take full credit for Jojo’s new love for chicken :)… and lord knows I spent a lot of time making numerous chicken dishes until I had success. So today, I figured I share a quick chicken dish that Jojo screams “yum” for!

Honey-Chili Chicken Nuggets

Ingredients

  • 2 Boneless chicken breasts (Thick cut-not thin sliced)
  • Flour
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Cups Cheerios – processed into crumb or Bread crumb
  • ½ Cup Parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • Honey
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil

Preparation

  1. Set up a chicken dredging station with one plate of flour, one plate of breadcrumb and a plate for the eggs.
  2. Mix 2 cups of cheerio crumb/ breadcrumb with a ½ cup of Parmesan cheese, ½ tsp of chili powder and pepper to taste.
  3. Slice the boneless chicken breasts into nuggets.
  4. Dredge the nuggets in flour. Be sure to shake them to remove excess flour.
  5. In a separate bowl beat two eggs. Dredge the floured chicken nuggets in the egg mixture and then dredge the chicken nuggets in the crumb mixture.
  6. Place the chicken nuggets on a baking sheet that is greased with olive oil or sprayed with cooking spray.
  7. Drizzle the top of each nugget with olive oil and then drizzle the top of each nugget with honey.
  8. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 15-25 minutes depending on the thickness of the nuggets. Check that the chicken is fully cooked before removing from the oven. The key to cooking juicy chicken is not to over cook it, so monitor it closely.

**BTW, my hubby loves this too, so this is a great FAMILY dinner! Pair it with your favorite vegetables and you have a meal!

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A Sweet Graham Treat

I have a sweet tooth! How could I not? I grew up in a family full of bakers,  in a house where there was always a fresh-baked batch of chocolate chip cookies on the kitchen counter. Some of my best childhood memories are baking and eating various types of cookies with my mom, grandma, aunts and cousins! So naturally, I want my lil Jojo to share those same types of experiences with me. After all, its all about the food memories!

Jojo loves graham crackers, so I figured they would be the best cookies for his first baking experience (especially since the dough is egg-free and very playdough like). We prepared it together. I let him dump the measured flour into the bowl and help with the cookie cutters (we used ginger breadman cookie cutters since they looked fun.) He handled these tasks very well and even enjoyed watching me mix and roll out the dough. It was definitely a fun and easy activity to do together, and the end results were delicious!! Yum!

Here is the recipe. I found it on Weelicious (of course). Read the tips that follow for MY recommendations.

Graham Crackers  (Makes A LOT, depending on the shape you cut them in) Prep Time:10 minutes, Cook Time: 15 minutes, Total Time: 25minutesIt’s not that I make everything our family eats from scratch, but I do try to make as many of the sweet treats my kids eat as possible. I recently realized that Kenya had never eaten a graham cracker before. How is that possible?! Graham crackers are…

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup butter, chilled & cubed

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup water

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a food processor or mixer combine the first 6 ingredients.

3. Add cubed and chilled butter to the mix and pulse/mix until it resembles coarse meal.

4. Add honey and water and continue to mix until it all combines.

5. Remove and shape the dough into a flat disk and place between two pieces of parchment paper.

6. Roll dough out until 1/4 inch thick. Cut into crackers or shapes.

7. Place cookies on a Silpat or parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

8. Cool and serve.

To Freeze: After step 6, place the cut out cookie shapes on a baking sheet and freeze for 20 minutes. Remove, place in a Ziploc bag, label and freeze for up to 4 months. When ready to bake, follow steps 7-8, adding an additional 1-2 minutes baking time.

** If you have no Whole Wheat, you can use 1 Cup Oat Bran to 2 Cups AP Flour instead of what the recipe calls for and it works

 Jojo’s Mommy’s Tips:

If you bake the cookies for 15 minutes, they will come out hard like true graham crackers. If you want these cookies to be soft and chewy, then cook it for less time. I cooked mine for 7-8 minutes and they were perfect!

If you want to add a professional touch to the look of your cookies you can use a toothpick to poke a design around the edges of your grahams before you cook them .You can also add a frosting glaze using confectioners sugar and a splash water or milk to jazz these delicious cookies up!

Sandwich “Sushi”?

O yes! Like many, I am a sushi-holic. It is my go-to take-out food and a “guilt-free” guilty pleasure. Is that possible? I love everything about it, the delicious taste created by the fresh ingredients (crispy cucumber, buttery avocado etc.), and of course how beautiful it is. Each tiny piece of sushi is like its own miniature piece of art, which for me, makes it that much more delicious. YUM! To my surprise there are many foodies and mommy chefs out there using sushi as inspiration for their toddler lunches. No, they are not suggesting we all run and take our toddlers out for a sushi lunch (I do NOT feed my Jojo any type of raw fish or raw protein), but what they are doing is taking inspiration from these scrumptious pieces of food art and creating yummy spins on the sandwich.

It makes sense, I mean I said it myself, part of what makes sushi so delicious is the way it looks and how it is presented. So if you take that simple principle and apply it to making a sushi sandwich, your toddler will find it just as fun and delicious as you do!

Inspired by a picture I saw on the cover of the new Weelicious Lunches book last week online, and stumped about how to get my lil Jojo to eat chicken in other forms besides the pot-pie and pasta methods (there is something about plain chicken that is simply unappealing to him), I thought why not make it into a fun sandwich sushi roll where the whole grain bread acts as the rice and the filling is whatever fresh produce and/ or protein that is on the menu for the day. What an easy idea! So I did, and yes I got a “ummmmmm” on the first bite which means this was a complete success. What’s even better is that I can make sandwich “sushi” for all different types of fresh vegetables, fruits and cooked proteins.

JoJo’s Carrot, Cucumber and Cooked Chicken Sandwich Sushi

 Ingredients:

1 slice multigrain bread (edges trimmed)

2 tbsp cream cheese

5 thin slices of cucumber

2 tbsp steamed shredded carrot

pieces of diced cooked chicken breast

Preparation:

Cut off the edges to your slice of bread and then take a rolling pin and roll the bread flat. Spread the cream cheese over the flattened piece of bread. Top with the thin slices of cucumber, carrots and chicken. Roll the bread up into a sushi roll shape. Squeeze cylinder to set ingredients.  Cut into small pieces with a sharp knife.

*Prepartion Tips: You will need to experiment with the placement of your ingredients to get a perfect roll. The thinner the slices, the easier it is to form the bread into a roll.

* Dairy Free: For all my dairy-free moms out there, I know it can be difficult to find recipes that fit your needs. A good substitute for cream cheese in this recipe is hummus (any variety just be sure to use a nut-free variety and watch the salt content- I recommend making your own).

Other Variations:

  • Sweet: Cream cheese and berries
  • Savory: Black bean hummus, avocado, steamed shredded carrots, diced chicken breast cooked with cumin, thinly sliced fresh tomato and shredded cheddar.

Make It Exciting: For my Jojo nothing amps up a meal more than adding a dipping sauce. Jazz up your rolls by creating your own spectacular sauce- yogurt, sour cream, and applesauce are all great accompaniments. Pick what best fits the flavor profile of your rolls.

Like my blog? Follow me or leave a comment. I would love to be the answer to your mommy cooking woes!

Peas & Pasta…

I am the mother of a 17-month-old toddler who loves to be fickle at mealtime. He is a GREAT eater, loves his fruits and veggies, but there is no rhyme or reason to what he is willing to eat on any given day.  What he liked yesterday, he hates today. What he ate for lunch, is what he is throwing off of his plate at dinner. Can you feel my frustration? There is no telling how he will react when the food hits the tray…OY!

How do I deal with my lil’ Jojo’s unpredictability? Well, I have to stick with the foods I know he likes and create new meals that incorporate these key ingredients. Jojo LOVES PEAS & PASTA.  He will request them as soon as his cute little bottom hits the highchair. I don’t know what it is about these two foods, but he loves them and they are my go to foods. I am constantly creating and/ or seeking out new recipes that incorporate them so Jojo will be happy, healthy &FED!

Peas and pasta are my vehicle for introducing Jojo to the deliciousness of other veggies. During a spare moment I had the other day (while Jojo was in for his afternoon nap), I decided to curl up on the couch and see if I could find inspiration for a new meal in one of the 25 episodes of The Chew that lay idle on my DVR.  I scanned the episode titles as I scrolled through every episode from the month of May and June until, EUREKA! the Bite N’ Blog episode tweaked my interest (I wonder why?).  It just so happened that one of my favorite mommy food bloggers, Catherine McCord (from Weelicious.com) was a guest sharing a great Green Macaroni and Cheese recipe. Her recipe included pasta, peas (awesome), cheese and other veggies. PERFECT!

I made this recipe for Jojo that night and the first words out of his mouth (other than peas and pasta) were “mmmmmmmm” and “more”. I give this recipe and A+. Thank you Catherine McCord!

Here is the Weelicious recipe and a link to the Bite N’ Blog episode on the chew.

http://weelicious.com/2013/03/06/green-mac-and-cheese/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnaQ7I_u3tI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjKr3f3CCyQ

 Green Mac and Cheese  (serves 8 )

Prep Time:10 minutes, Cook Time: 30 minutes, Total Time: 40 minutes,

Ingredients

1 pound elbow macaroni (you can also use campanelle, cavatappi or shells)

3 cups whole milk

1 cups packed fresh spinach

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons flour

4 cups grated white cheddar cheese

2 cups chopped broccoli florets

1 cup peas

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  1. Cook pasta in salted water for about 3 minutes less than package directions call for, until al dente. Reserve half a cup of the pasta water and strain.
  2. While the pasta is cooking. Place the milk and spinach in a blender and blend on high speed until smooth.
  3. In a large pot melt the butter and then add the flour, whisking continuously over low-medium heat for 2-3 minutes to make a roux. Slowly whisk in the milk mixture and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes, or until sauce is gently bubbling and starting to thicken.
  5. Add reserved pasta water and cheese and whisk until melted. Stir in the pasta, broccoli and peas.
  1. Transfer to a greased 13″ x 9″ baking dish and bake for 20 minutes, or until

My Modifications:

Of course I always tweak the recipes I cook to fit the needs of my family. When I searched through my fridge and pantry to collect the items necessary to prepare this recipe, I realized that I did not have elbow pasta or a pound of any of the same type of pasta. I decided I would go with an eclectic mix of the leftover pastas I had. I made 1 lb mixture of shells and rigatoni since I had a half a box of each lying around. Then I realized that we were out of fresh spinach, so I quickly substituted a box of frozen chopped spinach instead (defrosted and drained). NOTE- if you decide to use the frozen spinach your Mac and Cheese will be EXTRA green and it will yield more sauce because of the water in the spinach. Since I love sneaking in extra veggies, I also added 1 zucchini peeled and grated (I mixed it into the pasta before adding the sauce) and topped the dish with breadcrumbs mixed with parmesan cheese. It was delish!! Oh and I may have over measured a bit on the cheese…I mean who doesn’t love cheese :).  Prepare it however you like it!

Photo: Courtesy of Weelicious.com

And we’re off…

As you may have guessed from the title of my blog, I like food. There is no time I find more calming than the time I spend in my kitchen experimenting with a new recipe or conjuring up a late night home-baked dessert when that ole’ sweet tooth kicks in.  On my worst days, the kitchen is the place that saves me, especially when I have a full fridge of goodies, and infinite possibilities for a menu. Now, I don’t want to give you the impression that I’m food obsessed… but when I am not in my kitchen, I’m often planning my next recipe, searching the internet for recipes or watching one of the twenty-episodes of “The Chew” that are sitting idly on my DVR (When I’m not chasing around my one year old). Ok, I get it, maybe I am.

I suppose this obsession is genetic, I’m part Italian. The “love for cooking” gene sits right next to the “I love to watch my family eat my cooking” gene. It’s in my blood. I come from a long line of cooks. As a child, I can remember sitting in my grandma and grandpa’s kitchen watching them fuss over the pasta,  zeppolis, pizza and anisette cookies, arguing about how best to fry the zeps, sauce the pies or frost the cookies. To this day, I don’t think I can ever mix up a special Easter batch of anisette cookies without thinking of how my grandfather lectured me on the proper way to mix the ingredients, after all he was the expert (even though I never saw him mix a batch of his own). Nor can I make homemade pizza without hearing him remind me not to over sauce. I love you grandpa and yes you were right!

My Grandma is an amazing cook. To this day I cannot figure out how to make her sauce even though she has explained “how” a dozen times. She has the magic touch. There’s just something effortless in the way she cooks that inspires me. My food memories start with her cooking and they are some of the best memories I have from my childhood. Zucchini and eggs, fried zucchini, fried zucchini flours, (yes we ate a lot of zucchini)  homemade sausage, anisette cookies, zeppolis, cream puffs, coconut dreams, rock biscotti, cheesecake, meatballs, pizzaquina, cavatelli, gnocci, gimbaut??(and no I still can’t spell half of the foods we made), strawberry shortcake, coconut custard pie, apple pie, homemade cannolis, all of these foods remind me of fun times spent at grandma and grandpa’s table with my family laughing, poking fun at each other and fighting over who was going to get to the end piece from the loaf of Italian bread and who was going to dunk their bread in the delicious tomatoy olive oil at the bottom of the salad bowl. Yea, those were the days!

Grandma’s love for cooking was infectious because my mother, her sister and all of their children also love to cook and bake. When I think about growing up in my house, I always remember the smell of a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven. Mom is a great baker. She can make just about anything from scratch and is notorious for always seeking out healthier recipes for the delicious sweets that we enjoy. Whether its sneaking a little wheat germ into a cookie to give her kids more fiber, or trying out new healthier substitutions, my mom was always testing out new recipes for sweets some were awesome, while others were obviously too healthy for my childish taste buds…yes mom I could taste the wheat germ ;)! You’re the best mom!

But perhaps this is where my cooking quest started. Now, I am a new mom of a one year old boy, Jojo, and I find myself continuing Grandma and mom’s cooking legacy with a focused eye on making food that is both delicious and healthy for my son that will also please my husband and me. My focus since Jojo has started to eat our food has been to translate meals that I would typically cook for my husband and me into kid friendly meals that are well-balanced and delish! I got off to a rocky start, but as my son grows and I become more honed in on what he likes, I have had many successes and I want to share them!

I created this blog to help other mom’s who may be seeking meals to cook their picky toddlers that are not over-processed and do not come from a package. I want to share my recipes and experiences, and hopefully encourage others to take the time to cook for their family and give their child fun “food memories” to take with them on their journey through life like I did. Stay tuned for my next post which will be some easy starter recipes for your toddler that are easy to prepare and delish!