Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Baby Breakfast Cookies and Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes

I make these recipes for Colin, but grown up people might like them too!

Colin was never big into baby food purees.  I fed him one jar of food back when he first started eating solids, mostly so that I could have the cute mini jar to use for lotion.  I think those "complete meals in a jar" are kind of creepy.  Chicken dinner puree?  No, thanks.  For the most part he has eaten fruits and vegetables, either raw, steamed, roasted or sauteed.  A few things have been big hits and I use them as staples: broccoli and roasted sweet potatoes.  He's big in picking things up himself.  We can get into ruts, however, one of which resulted in his eating an entire roasted butternut squash over a two week period.

He likes to help in the kitchen, which means he wants to see everything that's going on and touch it.  Cooking with one hand while holding him with the other can be a bit of a challenge.  Sometimes I can convince him that the view from his chair is pretty good, and he takes that opportunity to show me proper strainer technique.

For a long time he ate only fruit for breakfast.  Bananas, pears and cantaloupe.  One morning I gave him part of a Banana Oatmeal Pancake and he gobbled it up.  This got me thinking that I needed to come up with something a little more creative for him to eat in the morning.  Regular cooked oatmeal didn't go over well, and I had been making a lot of baked oatmeal for me and Jon, so I thought I could simplify the recipe a bit and make it baby-friendly.  For the base of these breakfast cookies, I combine oats, banana and applesauce with a little baking powder and cinnamon.  Beyond that, you can be as creative as you like. 

Baby Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1 banana, mashed
~1/4 cup applesauce, to moisten mixture
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Sprinkle ground cinnamon
Optional additions: chopped apple, blueberries, grated carrot

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper (or cooking spray).
Stir together all ingredients until well mixed.
Portion tablespoon portions (my cookie scoop was perfect for this) onto baking sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Store leftovers in the refrigerator.  I heat them in the toaster oven just to take the chill off.  

I shared some of this quinoa dish with Colin a while ago and he seemed to like it, so one night I steamed him some peas, green beans and broccoli and mixed it with quinoa.  He liked it, but what a mess.  I literally had to pick him up and brush him off over the sink before I could take him out of the kitchen, and I was cleaning the floor daily (which I should probably be doing anyway).  One of my friends suggested cooking the quinoa into a cake since I had had luck with the oatmeal.  Using my trusty sweet potatoes as a base, I came up with this simple patty recipe.  If you were going to serve it to adults, I would add some more seasoning, as I omitted salt and pepper for C.

Baby Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes

1 cup chopped sweet potato, roasted or steamed
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/4 cup onion, chopped and sauteed
1 egg (use just the yolk if your baby is under age 1, or you have allergy concerns)
2 Tablespoons ground flax, or up to 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
Olive oil

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
In a bowl, combine all ingredients and stir well, slightly mashing the sweet potato.  The mixture was fairly wet.
Portion patties with your hands (I made four).
Gently place them on the hot skillet and leave them alone for 4 minutes.  You want a slight crust to form so they hold together.
Flip and cook for another 3-4 minutes on the other side.
These can be served warm or room temperature.  I break them up into pieces for C.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Cinnamon French Toast Casserole

This was one of the dishes from Colin's First Birthday Party, and it was delicious!  Perfect for entertaining, it's best if you make it the night before, and then pop it in the oven in the morning.  I did a trial run a few weeks ago (always a good idea when testing a new recipe for a party), and cut the bread into all these little cute triangles and stood them up in the dish.  It was kind of a disaster, because not enough bread was down in the bottom to soak up the custard and the tops of the toast were all dried and overly crispy.  Lesson learned, though, and this batch was great. 

Cinnamon French Toast Casserole
inspired by Smitten Kitchen

1 loaf of cinnamon swirl bread
6 large eggs
3 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Generously butter a 9x13 baking dish.
Cut the slices of cinnamon bread in half lengthwise and arrange in two layers in the dish.  I slightly overlapped each piece so I used 6 full slices (12 halves) in each layer.
In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt and vanilla.
Pour evenly over the bread.
Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Bake for 30 minutes, uncovered, until bread is puffed and golden on top and the custard is set.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes before slicing.
Serve with butter, syrup and fruit, if that's how you roll. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Colin is 1!

This was, by far, the best year of my life.  Every single day I woke up (sometimes quite early) to a smiling face, and felt my heart get a little fuller.  I feel truly blessed and lucky to spend all my time with my amazing baby. 

To celebrate Colin's first birthday, we had a little family party.  After considering several options, I decided to go with a "C" themed birthday brunch.  Thanks to the generosity of our family, we are now well-stocked with new toys!

The menu (I will admit a few of these were a bit of a stretch...):

Cinnamon French Toast Casserole
Crustless Spinach and Cheddar Quiche
Cream Cheese, Bagels and Smoked Salmon
Carved Ham and Rolls
Chicken Salad Wraps
Cut Fruit Salad
Cheese and Crackers
Champagne and Orange Juice or Cranberry Juice
Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I'll be sharing the recipes for the Cinnamon French Toast Casserole and Carrot Cake Cupcakes soon, bit in the meantime, here are a few shots of the spread.  I tend to provide enough food for double the number of my guests, because you never know when something will be extra popular!

Finally, here is the birthday boy very much enjoying his first cake experience.  We are standing in front of all 52 of his weekly photos.  I can't believe my little guy is 1! 

photo 1-1 photo 1-2