Monday, July 25, 2016

What Kate Ate: Baby Food Basics, 6-8 Months



Nothing makes me quite as satisfied as making fresh and healthy meals for my family- baby food included! I've had so much fun making Kate's food these past couple of months and she is honestly loving everything that she eats! Summertime has also been ideal because there is such an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetable available. 

As soon as Kate turned 6 months old, I started her on vegetable purees. I did a new food every 2-3 days so that I could watch out for any reactions. As time went on, I didn't wait as many days to try new foods but was careful not to give her vegetables that may cause any extra gas, as she has a sensitive little tummy! (see also: I learned my lesson with cauliflower!) 



COOKING METHODS + APPLIANCES

I use my Beaba Babycook to steam and puree all of the baby food and I am still loving it as much as I did when Will was a baby. In fact, my original machine actually died shortly after Kate turned 6 months old. Beaba was a dream to work with and sent me a reconditioned Babycook- all I had to pay was shipping! I just love the convenience of having one appliance that steams and purees everything. It's so easy to have it running while I'm doing other things around the kitchen or the house. When my Babycook was out of commission for those few weeks, I simply set up a steam basket in a small pot and then pureed in my mini Cuisinart food processor. 

VEGGIES

Avocado
Peas
Green Beans
Zucchini
Sweet Potato
Butternut Squash
Parsnips
Carrots
Yellow Squash

All of these veggies are great for baby's first foods! Aside from the avocado, which I mash myself, I steam all of the veggies prior to pureeing. The vegetables are listed above in the order that I gave them to Kate. I tried cauliflower early on but it really irritated her stomach! As a result, I also steered clear of broccoli until later. The only thing she really didn't love was green beans. I found that adding avocado to the beans made everything better! To add in some healthy fats and a little flavor, I frequently pour some olive oil in the veggie purees as well as add a tiny pinch of kosher salt. 

FRUITS

Bananas
Peaches
Blueberries
Apples
Strawberries
Watermelon
Mango
Cantaloupe
Plums

Since I started with dinner as Kate's first "meal", I stuck with vegetables for the first 2 weeks before adding in fruits. I then alternated fruit/vegetable when introducing new foods! 


HERBS

Basil
Thyme
Rosemary
Cloves
Cinnamon

I didn't wait too long before I started adding some herbs and spices to Kate's foods. It's a fun way to mix things up and makes the food extra tasty! Zucchini and summer squash with basil is one of her favorites! She also loves roasted blueberries with cinnamon and pears or apple with cloves. I add the herbs to the cooked fruits or vegetables and then puree them together.


STORING
Making big batches of food at a time is a great way to save from making food every single day! I typically store my food in the fridge for 3-5 days and in the freezer for 3 months. I love the Beaba multiportion silicone containers. The food freezes in little pods, pops out, and then I store them in small freezer bags, each labeled with whatever food is in them! So easy. 

For more on my Baby's First Food Essentials, see my list here! Happy baby food making!



Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Mexican Quinoa Stuffed Avocado


Stuffed avocados are my current favorite food trend. They are popping up on menus everywhere and they are SO FUN. Thet perfect little hole where the giant avocado pit is!? I mean it's the perfect spot to stuff with some goodness. And when I say stuff I mean pile that thing high! 

One of my favorite fast-casual restaurants here in Charlotte, Viva Chicken, has a stuffed avocado and it is beyond delicious. I grabbed it as a side last week and was immediately inspired to create my own version. 

Presentation is everything, and while you could just chop up the avocado and mix it with this flavorful filling, stuffing it inside of the avocado is that little something extra! This couldn't have been easier to put together. I grabbed some fresh veggies that I had in the fridge, sauteed them up, and mixed them with organic quinoa and lean beef seasoned with Joe's Stuff (my favorite creole blend EVER). I finished these off with some Cholula and I totally want to make them again this week. And the week after that. Sub out the quinoa for cauliflower rice and you have a Whole30/Paleo approved meal! 

Mexican Quinoa Stuffed Avocados

2-3 ripe avocados, cut in half with outer skin removed
1 cup quinoa, cooked
1 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
Cajun or mexican seasoning
salt + pepper, to taste
olive oil, for sauteeing
fresh chopped cilantro, for garnish
Cholula, for serving

Cook quinoa according to instructions on bag/box.

Heat some olive oil in a medium saute pan. Add meat and cook until cooked through, breaking apart with a spatula while cooking. When the meat is about 3/4 way done cooking, add your favorite Cajun or Mexican seasoning, about 1 Tablespoon. 

In a separate pan, saute peppers, onions and zucchini until soft, about 10-12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

In a medium bowl, mix together quinoa, meat and veggies. Prepare avocados by cutting in half and scooping out each half with a spoon. Top each avocado with as much filling as your heart desires and serve with Cholula on top!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Peach + Blueberry Skillet Cobbler




This recipe is from Katie Lee's Endless Summer cookbook and I am dying to add the actual book to my collection. It's the ultimate Summer dessert! Peaches and blueberries covered in a sweet and creamy batter and cooked until warm, juicy and bubbly. It comes together quickly and just so delicious when all of this fresh fruit is in season. Blackberries, raspberries, strawberries...I think you could add just about any fruit to this recipe and it would be just as delicious. Peaches and blueberries though? A timeless combo.

A little (or large) scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of this while it's warm and you are golden. 

Peach + Blueberry Skillet Cobbler
recipe from Katie Lee's Endless Summer

4 cups sliced peaches (I use 4-5 peaches and leave the skin on)
1 cup blueberries
1.5 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk
4 TBSP. unsalted butter, melted
1 TBSP. cornstarch
1/2 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Put the peaches and blueberries in a 10" cast iron skillet and toss with the lemon juice. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup of the sugar, the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the milk and melted butter and mix with a rubber spatula until the ingredients are just blended. Pour the batter evenly over the peaches and blueberries. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the cornstarch. Sprinkle the sugar mixture across the batter, then pour the boiling water evenly over the top of the batter, moistening all of the sugar mixture. Bake for 55-60 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling. Remove from the oven and set on a cooling rack for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Kate: 8 Months Old!




This little sweet pea is eight months old! Only 4 more stickers left for our monthly photos...seriously!? It's been the best month and little Kate just keeps getting sweeter and sweeter. Everything she does is so cute and tiny, just like her!




I hopped on the scale with her and she is around 15 pounds. We are on our last box (I think) of size 1 diapers and she's wearing mostly 3-6 month and 6 month clothes and some 6-12, too! She's sleeping so well, too! She takes two good naps a day and is sleeping 11-12 hours a night. Her napping was touch and go there for awhile but magically around 6-7 months, she figured out that napping is fun. We are all feeling human again. Ha!








Shortly after I finished her 7 month post, she started sitting up on her own! It took awhile for her to get there but once she did she was golden. I feel like she skipped the sitting still phase because as soon as she started sitting up, she figured out how to get back down on her belly and do this crazy break dancing like scoot to get to something that she wants. I have never seen anything like it! She rolls all over the place! 



Kate is still a little foodie in training. We've tried so many new foods and flavors and she loves it all. I've started putting different herbs and spices in her purees to mix it up a bit. I ordered the Kidsme silicone feeder and it is by far the best food feeder we've tried! It's easy for her to grasp and the silicone is so easy to clean. With all of the fresh produce in season there are so many good things for her to eat! 







We have been spending tons of time outside and at the pool. Our neighbors have the most beautiful pool and we joke that it is our vacation home. We spend many mornings and afternoons out there and Kate just LOVES the water! She may be swimming like a pro before her big brother at the rate she is going!




Kate's best little gal pals are Nora and Hazel. Look at these three!? I think that all baby playdates should include matching monogrammed rompers. I'm so thankful that these girls get to grow up together! 






Kate laughs at Will all day, every day. It's the cutest thing to watch their relationship develop. She usually wakes up before he does so she gets to go in with us and get him in the morning. Walking down the hallway to his room she literally turns inside out with excitement. She laughs and kicks her legs until we open the door. It's so sweet! 






Kate's tiny button nose still scrunches up when she smiles and she's recently started shaking her head back and forth- she totally knows that it makes us laugh! She's finding her voice more and more each day and started saying "da-da" a few weeks ago. Whether she is just experimenting with her sounds or really referring to Mark...he is claiming it as her first word. 




We are having so much fun with this little one and we love her more than ever. She is the most perfect, happiest little girl and we just can't get enough! 



Happy 8 months, Princess Kate! We love you!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Friday Faves (on Saturday)



If you are local and have little ones, the Mr. Potato Head exhibit at Imaginon is super cute! The library has story time every day at 10:30am. Free Summer fun!

And while you're there, stop in 7th Street Public Market for an Iced Vanilla Sugar Latte at Not Just Coffee.

19 photos to take of your kids this summer. 

Currently dying over the Bloggers Backyard Patio Tour over on Z Design at Home. I want to move in. 

I need this giant unicorn in my life. 

11 ways to satisfy your iced coffee addiction. (thanks for this gem, Allie. it was written for us)

Vegan Corn and Chive Drop Biscuits! I taste tested these straight from the source and they are DELICIOUS. 

I've heard excellent things about this Mario Badescu facial spray. I popped some into my Prime cart and I can't wait to try it! 

Lavender Honey Iced Latte. YES! 



Friday, July 8, 2016

What Kate Ate: Potato, Pepper + Olive Oil Puree



Kate is LOVING this potato and pepper combo this week! I have a huge post coming about the basics of baby food making, but I had to pop in and share this tasty puree. I found the recipe in my Little Foodie cookbook, which has been my go-to this time around! It's full of great recipes and tons of flavor mashups you wouldn't normally think of. 

The potatoes make this nice and creamy and the peppers give it a nice sweet flavor. I like to add good olive oil (like Ina!) to veggie purees for a flavor boost plus the good fats and a pinch of kosher salt always goes a long way. I bought some organic chicken breast this week that I'm going to be adding to this, too! 

Potato, Pepper + Olive Oil Puree

1 organic white potato, chopped
1 organic red bell pepper, chopped
1 TBSP. olive oil
pinch of kosher salt

Steam potatoes for 10-15 minutes, until they start to get tender. Add peppers and steam for another 5-7 minutes. Discard steaming liquid. Place peppers and potatoes in a mini food processor with olive oil and a pinch of salt. Blend until smooth. Add additional water if you need to thin it out a bit. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days or in the freezer for 3 months. 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Will's Chocolate Sprinkle Cake



Sweet little Will requested one thing for his birthday and one thing only: A Chocolate Sprinkle Cake! Easy enough, little one. And you guys, to this day he is still talking about this cake! He got his own digital camera, an accordion, a remote control motorcycle. He even got the Paw Patroller. THE PAW PATROLLER! But I swear to you when anyone asks him what he got for his birthday his first response, without any hesitation, "A CHOCOLATE SPRINKLE CAKE!" He loves his treats. #priorities

As soon as Will decided on his cake, I let him sit with me in front of my computer as we scoured Pinterest for the best sprinkle ideas on the web. And now I want to make ALL THE CAKES. There are seriously so many cute ideas and the more sprinkles, the better. 

I don't know who Beatty is, but his chocolate cake is the best ever and, well, I never question anything that Ina makes.  I consulted my baking experts to find the perfect chocolate buttercream. I have only made a handful of fancy schmancy birthday cakes and what I've learned along the way is that the crumb layer is the secret to a beautiful frosting job. Start with that and the rest will fall into place. It makes the process much easier!

Will helped me mix up the batter and I baked this baby after he went to bed the night before his birthday. Once the cake was cooled, I wrapped each layer tightly with saran wrap and frosted it the next day. This is a huge time saver and the cake still stays unbelievably fresh! Before his nap on the day of his birthday, we mixed up the frosting together and he licked the spatulas clean! By the time he was up from his nap, his cake was ready for his birthday celebrations! 

We had the best time celebrating Will's third birthday and this chocolate sprinkle cake was everything. Will was so proud. 

Here's another tip: the best sprinkle spot in town is Harris Teeter! Whichever grocery store you go to, check with their bakery. HT sells them to me in small plastic containers for around $2-3! 

Sprinkles forever and ever. 



Will's Chocolate Sprinkle Cake 
recipe from Ina Garten

Butter, for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for prepping the pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Chocolate Buttercream, recipe below
SPRINKLES!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8" x 2 round cake pans. Line with parchment paper then butter and flour the pans. 

Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer using the paddle attachment and mix on low until combined. In another bowl, combine buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla. Slowly add wet ingredients to the dry. With the mixer still on low, slowly pour the hot coffee, stir just to combine, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35- 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pan for 30 minutes then turn onto cooling rack and cool completely. 

Chocolate Buttercream*
recipe from Brown Eyed Baker

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2.5 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 oz. semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Using a wire whisk attachment, whip the butter on medium high speed for 5 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl once or twice.

Reduce speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Once all of the powdered sugar is incorporated, increase speed to medium high and add the vanilla, mixing until incorporated. Add the melted chocolate and whip at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about two minutes, scraping the bowl as needed to incorporate all of the chocolate. 

*Note: I doubled this recipe to have enough frosting for the entire cake! You will have some leftover but one batch is not enough. 

To frost the cake, I started by making sure that my cake layers were even on the top, carefully cutting a tiny bit off of each top. After I frosted the middle layer and stacked my layers together, I made a crumb coating. There are TONS of tutorials on this! I opted for a smooth outer layer of frosting and used a simple piping tip to make my dotted border on the top and the bottom. I finished by literally pouring sprinkles on the top and lightly pressing them into the frosting to make them stay.