Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Baby's First Cookies


I have a 10 month old son, and he’s been eating solid foods since he was 6 months old.  He used to love the purees I’d make for him, and some of the puree combos I came up with even inspired me to create recipes my husband and I could enjoy, such as my Pumpkin Banana Muffins. 

About a month ago, my son started enjoying feeding himself more than having us feed him purees.  I got tired of having him knock the baby spoon full of food out of my hand (messy!), so I let him have his way and feed himself (also messy!).  Fresh fruit like bananas, strawberries and mango cut in little pieces are easy for him to pick up and eat.  He also likes cheese, bread, peas, green beans, etc. 

The only problem I had was figuring out how to get my baby to eat the infant baby cereal my son’s pediatrician recommended that he have at least once a day (twice a day before he started eating meat).  She stressed that the infant cereal is an important source of iron for babies, so I knew I shouldn’t just stop giving him this cereal just because he’d moved past purees. 

I searched Pinterest for baby led weaning recipes that incorporated baby cereal, but I just couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for.  Necessity is the mother of invention, right?  So, I made up this baby cookie recipe. 

What makes this recipe perfect for baby led weaning is that it uses baby cereal instead of flour, and there’s no sugar.  The cookies get their sweetness from bananas, my son’s favorite food.  In fact, I think they taste a lot like banana bread. 

My son absolutely loves these cookies.  My husband and I even have a hard time staying out of them! 

When my pediatrician asked if I was giving my son baby cereal, I told her about these cookies.  She loved the idea, stressing again how important the baby cereal is for iron.  She even asked for the recipe!

These cookies are great to bring with you on outings for a quick, healthy snack or meal for your baby.  They can be a little messy since they’re soft.  I’ve found that it helps to break them into pieces for your baby if you want to keep his/her hands from getting too sticky.

I’ve had trouble getting a good picture of my son eating a cookie since he devours them so quickly.  I hope your little ones enjoy these cookies just as much as we do.

Just one final note: before making these cookies for your baby, make sure your son/daughter is not allergic to any of these ingredients.  Also consult your pediatrician about the appropriate age for you to introduce eggs and nut butter.  I had the go-ahead on those ingredients before creating this recipe.

Baby’s First Cookies
Makes about 5 dozen small cookies

Ingredients:
2 bananas, mashed
½ tsp baking soda
1 c Gerber multigrain baby cereal (or your little one’s favorite baby cereal)
2 eggs
1 tbsp butter, softened
¼ cup natural peanut butter, almond butter or your favorite nut butter
½ tsp vanilla extract

Method:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Mush the bananas, baking soda, and baby cereal together with a fork.  Add the eggs and incorporate thoroughly.  Add the butter, nut butter and vanilla extract.  The dough should be mushy and thinner than regular cookie dough.


Drop the dough on the cookie sheets in small mounds.  Mine are maybe about a heaping half teaspoon.  I make them small since they’re for a baby, but you can do whatever size you feel is best for your little one.


Bake for about 7 minutes or until set but still soft.  The time will depend on your oven and the size of your cookies.  It’s always best to check them early and add time than risk over baking them.  Maybe try 5 minutes and check it, adding a minute each time until your desired consistency.  Mine are usually a little brown on the bottom and hardly look cooked on top.


Let the cookies cool completely and loosen them from the parchment paper.  Try one.  It should melt in your mouth.  You should be able to mush them up just with your tongue, which is important if you baby doesn’t have (many) teeth yet. 

You can leave the cookies on the counter for a couple days, but if you plan to make them ahead, they maintain their softness in the refrigerator, freeze well and defrost quickly.

Happy eating!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Peanut Butter Danishes and Nutella Danishes

Want a quick, easy, delicious breakfast that the whole family will love?  That's a silly question.  Of course you do!  Well, for my husband's birthday, that's exactly what I needed, and with a baby in the house, I obviously needed something easy.  Cresent Rolls to the rescue with a little help of peanut butter and Nutella.  You see where this is going, right?  I created something similar to my Easy Cheese Danishes recipe but instead of cream cheese I used peanut butter and Nutella.  Here's the quick and easy recipe so you can treat your family (and yourself).


Peanut Butter Danishes and Nutella Danishes

Ingredients:
1 tube Pillsbury Cresent Rolls
2 tbsp of your favorite peanut butter (I like Jif Natural Creamy)
2 tbsp Nutella
1 packet Truvia (or 1 tbsp sugar or your favorite sweetener)
I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spray (or melted butter)

Method:
Use the cresent roll directions for baking.  Go ahead and preheat your oven.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and open up the tube of cresent rolls.  Separate them into 4 pieces so you have 4 rectangles (instead of 8 triangles).  Press the lines together to get rid of the triangle shape and cut each rectangle in half so you now have 8 squares.

Put 1/2 tbsp of peanut butter in the middle of 4 of the squares, and put 1/2 tbsp of Nutella in the middle of the remaining 4 squares.  Spread the peanut butter and nutella to fill the center, but leave room around the edges (kind of like a pizza crust).




Fold up the edges of the dough to hold in the filling.  Spray butter on the edges of the dough, and sprinkle Truvia on the edges of the dough and on top of the peanut butter (but not on the Nutella...that's sweet enough).

Bake according to the cresent roll directions.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  You can keep leftovers on the counter, but I doubt they'll last very long!

Happy eating!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut squash soup is one of my favorite soups.  Luckily, my husband is great at whipping up a large batch.  Here's his recipe.

Butternut Squash Soup

Makes about 7 cups

Ingredients
  • 1 package Costco butternut squash cubes
  • 3 cups water
  • 18g chicken bullion
  • 12 oz sweet onions, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf, fresh if possible
  • 14 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 14 teaspoon sea salt
  • 18 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tbsp thick plain Greek yogurt (per serving)
Directions
  1. In a large pan, combine the squash, water, bullion, onions and bay leaf, bringing to a boil.
  2. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low, simmer for 20 minutes or until squash is tender, then remove from heat.
  3. Take out the bayleaf and blend with immersion blender until smooth.
  4. Season with 1/4 nutmeg, sea salt and pepper.
  5. Ladle into soup bowls and swirl 2 tablespoon of yogurt into each bowl.


    I suggest serving it with biscuits and my Everyday Salad.  

    Happy eating!

Orange Sweet Rolls


After my success with Pumpkin Banana Muffins, I decided to be daring and modify another recipe.  I’ve had a recipe for Lemon Poppyseed Bread for years.  I’m not sure where I got it, but I remembered liking it well enough.  We have an orange tree in our backyard, so I thought, why not leave out the poppyseeds and make it with an orange instead of a lemon? 

These rolls would be perfect for Easter brunch, a potluck, or just for snacking.  They’re slightly sweet, and they’re delicious without slathering on any butter.  You’d never know they only have 100 calories each.  You might want to make a double batch because it’s hard to eat just one!

Orange Sweet Rolls

Makes 12 rolls

Ingredients:
2 tbsp butter (softened)
1 tbsp plain Greek yogurt
¾ c Splenda (you can substitute an equal amount of sugar)
2 servings liquid eggwhites (you can substitute 2 eggs)
1 tbsp orange juice
zest of one orange
1 c white whole wheat flour
1 c bread flour
2 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
¾ c milk

For the glaze:
2 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp powdered sugar

Method:
Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray or insert paper liners.

In a stand mixer, combine the butter, Greek yogurt and Splenda.

Add the eggwhites and orange juice.

Add the milk.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder and salt.

Add the dry ingredients and the orange zest to the mixer bowl.  Mix to combine.

Bake about 10 minutes or until the tops of the rolls spring back when you touch them.
Combine the orange juice and powdered sugar for the glaze. 

Put the rolls on a serving plate.  Brush the glaze on top of the rolls while they’re still warm. 

They’re delicious warm, or you can store them at room temperature for a couple days, if they last that long!  I haven’t tried freezing them, but I don’t see why you couldn’t.

Happy eating!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Pumpkin Banana Muffins


I love bread and other yummy baked goods.  It’s totally my weakness.  For some people, mac and cheese is comfort food, but for me, it’s bread.  I think it’s the texture that I love so much.  I love French bread, multi-grain bread, biscuits, muffins, cake.  I also love to bake, so it’s constantly a challenge for me not to be my own worst enemy by filling my house with tempting, sinfully delicious baked goods.  They’re so not healthy.

For the past couple years, I’ve been on a mission to bake healthier.  I now have a delicious whole wheat bread recipe, a whole wheat pizza crust recipe, a multi-grain waffle recipe, and even a whole wheat pancake recipe.  But, what if you just want a really good muffin?  I didn’t have a recipe for that.

I’ve spent hours on pinterest looking at muffin recipes.  I was hoping to find something full of healthy ingredients that would also taste delicious. 

Did I mention that I have a baby?  He’s 7 months old, and he’s been eating my homemade baby food creations for about a month.  His purees have been the inspiration for some of my baking experimentation.  For example, I bought a huge bag of carrots to puree for him (he LOVES carrots) and thought, “I should eat more carrots.  Let me try to find a healthy carrot muffin or cookie bar recipe.”  I tried about 3 recipes and none of them was a “do again” (what my husband and I call a recipe that we love so much we want to make it again). 

My baby’s latest pureed concoction consists of pumpkin, banana (he LOVES bananas even more than carrots), breastmilk, baby oatmeal cereal and a dash of cinnamon.  He loves it and wolfs it down.  It made me think, I bet a muffin recipe that included both pumpkin and bananas would be delicious!  I have a pumpkin bread recipe that I frequently make into muffins, so I figured I’d start there and change, well, just about everything. 

before baking
I was inspired this morning, so during my baby’s morning nap, I daringly whipped up a batch of Pumpkin Banana Muffins.  I figured it was no big deal if they didn’t taste great on the first try so I just guessed at what I thought would be good in them, and let me just say, I was more than pleasantly surprised.  My husband and I couldn’t stay out of them!  It makes a dozen, and there are only 5 left!  They’re that good, at least, they are in my humble opinion. 

after baking
The best part?  Besides the delicious taste, they’re only 95 calories each!  That means it’s not such a bad thing if you can’t eat just one.  They’re so good you don’t need to put butter or anything on them, so that saves calories and fat grams too.  When I was first making them, I thought they tasted a little too sweet, but the Greek yogurt tones it down to the perfect sweetness.  The texture is perfect too.  The bread flour keeps them from being too dense.  They’re fluffy but not too airy. 

perfect texture inside
All I can say is that if you like pumpkin pie and banana bread, I really think you should try making these muffins!  They’re a definite “do again” in my book.

Here’s the recipe.  I hope you enjoy it as much as my husband and I did this morning.

Pumpkin Banana Muffins

Yields 12 muffins

Ingredients:
1 c Splenda (you can substitute 1 c sugar, but it’ll add more calories)
½ c packed dark brown sugar
2 servings liquid egg whites (you can substitute 2 eggs, but it’ll add more calories)
¼ c nonfat plain Greek yogurt
½ c mashed bananas (about 1 large banana or 1 ½ smaller bananas)
½ c whole wheat flour
½ c bread flour
1 c old fashioned oatmeal
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
1/3 c water
1 c (8oz) pumpkin

Method:
Preheat your oven to 350 F.

Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray or line with paper liners.

In an electric mixer, mix the Splenda, brown sugar and egg whites. Add the Greek yogurt and bananas. 

In a separate bowl, mix the flours, oatmeal, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Add about half of the dry ingredients to the sugar mixture and mix well.  Then add the water and mix well.  Add the rest of the dry ingredients.  Then add the pumpkin.

Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Serve warm, at room temperature or cool.  You can keep them in the refrigerator for up to a week or freeze and defrost in the microwave for a quick snack anytime you want.

Now, try to eat just one.  I dare you!

Happy eating!