Monday, May 24, 2010

Baby Food 101

I have three children.  All of them have been babies at one time or another.  Feeding a baby is like feeding a bottomless pit.  A tiny, needy, chubby, likely to throw it at you, bottomless pit.  I find that all quite adorable.

With my first two, I just bought Gerber until I could give them smaller versions of what the rest of the family ate.  #1 Didn't like baby food until she was eight months old.  #2 Loved it.  In order to feed a baby what they need, you go through nearly six ounces of pureed stuff every day.  More on days they don't nap, or you're out on the town, or they throw an unusual number of tantrums.  Those amounts double by the time they are a year old.  I figure if I buy it all, I spend about $1.50 per meal just on the purees and cereals. That adds up fast, and doesn't include formula or milk, snacks, crackers, etc.

So...I bought a food processor.  Not this one which I use for much bigger, family friendly things.  This one
 (only I wish I knew they came in so many colors! Mine is just silver and black.  Sur la Table has it in brights like yellow, green, orange and red)  It's three cups and cost me only $25.  That's the perfect size to puree a serving or two of whatever we're eating.

So my first lesson on making your own baby food is to use what you already have.  If I'm serving pasta, I just take a serving spoon and scoop up enough to feed baby.  Puree it for about twenty seconds, add water if needed for consistency, and voila!  Dinner for Baby Chef.

Next lesson comes next Monday, if I have time.


Around my eighteenth birthday, I took a trip with my parents to Greece.  We spent about two weeks traveling through Athens and the nearby islands.  It was wonderful!  One of my favorite things was eating massive amounts of pastry and a dessert called baklava.

If you've read my blog much, you know that I don't approve of baking nuts into dessert.  This is my one exception.  You can't make Baklava without nuts, and you wouldn't want it any other way.

It's a layered dessert, and it's as simple to assemble as lasagna.  I used this recipe.


  • 1 (16 ounce) package phyllo dough
  • 1 pound chopped nuts
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup honey


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F(175 degrees C). Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9x13 inch pan.
  2. Chop nuts and toss with cinnamon. Set aside. Unroll phyllo dough. Cut whole stack in half to fit pan. Cover phyllo with a dampened cloth to keep from drying out as you work. Place two sheets of dough in pan, butter thoroughly. Repeat until you have 8 sheets layered. Sprinkle 2 - 3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top. Top with two sheets of dough, butter, nuts, layering as you go. The top layer should be about 6 - 8 sheets deep.
  3. Using a sharp knife cut into diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. You may cut into 4 long rows the make diagonal cuts. Bake for about 50 minutes until baklava is golden and crisp.

  4. Make sauce while baklava is baking (Remember, I made this ahead, and used it cold.) Boil sugar and water until sugar is melted. Add vanilla and honey. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
  5. Remove baklava from oven and immediately spoon sauce over it. Let cool. Serve in cupcake papers. This freezes well. Leave it uncovered as it gets soggy if it is wrapped up.

There's really no point in copying the nutritional information, it's sad and depressing to look at the calories of such a beautiful dish.

I followed the directions almost exactly, because I'd never made it before.  I did however take three days to make it.  I'll explain.

First, I chopped the nuts in my food processor.  I used the nuts I had in my cupboards.  Peanuts, Candied Cashews, and Almonds.  Then I realized I hadn't thawed my frozen phyllo dough, and left the nuts on the counter until the next day.  Then I put the dough in the fridge to thaw.

Then next day, I prepared the honey sauce.  Then, because some of the All Recipes reviewers suggested using a cooled sauce, I put that in the fridge and waited until the next afternoon to assemble to whole thing.  I also took another reviewers suggestion and roasted the nuts with the cinnamon.  Do that.  

I tried a piece directly after the honey shower while it was still warm, and it was not nearly as good as the cooled version a few hours later.

Hubby didn't like nuts, even in this.  He's might be culinarily challenged.  It made about 30 large pieces. I could have halved each one again.  I froze all but two plates (ten pieces), one of which I am not ashamed to admit I ate.  The other went to a friend.  I took another two plates from the freezer later that week and served them at a church meeting.  Another went to someone's birthday party.  A hit every time!

Failed Enchildadas

So I make chicken enchiladas a lot.  I also make Pineapple Enchiladas from here.  They are delicious, and a great meatless substitute.  So, being the culinary genius that I am, I decided to mix the pineapple enchilada recipe, with chicken.  How could that go wrong?  Glad you asked...

To destroy an enchilada:

Step 1 - Combine Pineapple juice, with the already very acidic enchilada sauce.

Step 2 - Add cooked chicken.

Step 3 - Cook them together for 35 minutes or longer.

The result should be a disgusting mush of enchilada flavored chicken pulp.  Really it's an experience I'll never forget.

I was in a wonderful mood that evening.  It was pushing seven o'clock by the time I even got the enchiladas in the oven. The children insisted that they were starving, and I'm just mean enough to make them wait until the food comes out.  I can't eat with them, the baby needs a bottle.  So I serve them up generous portions of my delicious smelling creation.  Li'l Chef says "Mom, this has a weird taste."  I say quit complaining and eat what I made you.  Li'l Chef continues, "It's really weird.  Something's wrong with the chicken."  I'm sure I said something like "Oh Sweetheart, I'm sure you're right.  Why don't you find something better to eat."  Somehow, whatever that last comment really said, made her cry.  "It's gross."

So she waits, patiently, being a keen observer of my mood and the point of my rope by which I was holding on.  It was the end, in case you were wondering.

Baby fed, girls not eating, I decide to eat anyway.  Serve it up with a big dollup of sour cream and take a large bite to prove how delicious it was.  Said bite is immediately spit into the sink.  I spit out my own dinner.  I apologize for being a mean-o.  That was in fact gross.  As it turns out, chicken can be dissolved by pineapple juice.  This chicken was a weird chalky mush.  The weird chalky mush mixed with the weird chalky mush of cheese.  DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!

We had cereal and went to bed.  Li'l Chef laughed as I kissed her good night, "You were mad, but I knew it was gross.  I wasn't just being rude."  I conceded.


Who knew it was so easy to make your own tortillas?  My friend Hilary told me the other day that she was making her own, and I thought "Wow, Hilary's got a lot of time on her hands."  And then I gave my children cereal for dinner.

After I read on her blog how easy it was, I followed the link to the recipe she used.  On a side note, I ended up signing up for the food storage and shopping service that blog provides.

The tortillas took a little more time than I thought, I used the second recipe called Texas Flour Tortillas.  Yummy!  Really it took like an hour, but that might have been because I was multi-tasking and just let them rest a long time while I prepared the rest of dinner.

We loved them, they were great for tacos.  It makes a good flatbread.  I might use them for other flatbread stuff too.  Today I plan to try the first recipe which is supposed to make a thinner tortilla.  Try it!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sour Cream Enchiladas

These are my favorite enchiladas.  I do so many different things to them that they always seem like a new dish.  The original recipe was from my friend Julie.


Sour Cream Enchiladas

Cook diced chicken breast (I usually use 2 or 3 breast halves) with garlic and onions (if desired.) Or just season with your favorite dry rub.

Mix together:
2 cans cream o soup (I use cream of chicken)
1 pt. sour cream
1 sm can green chilies
1 cup grated cheese (at least)

Add chicken to sauce
 and fill corn or flour tortillas.
  Roll tortillas like a burrito or layer like lasagna for casserole. 
Place in pan and top with any remaining sauce and extra cheese.
  Bake at 350° about 40 minutes or until bubbly.
  Makes about 10 enchiladas

I like to add some petite diced tomatoes to the sauce.  I also like to add half a bottle of Chile Verde sauce.  Usually I leave out anything "verde" because hubby prefers it without.

We always use the uncooked flour tortillas from Costco. 
 Once you've had them, you'll never go back to the supermarket bagged ones.

There is no picture of the finished product, because we ate them too fast.  They do save well in the fridge for a few days and make great leftovers for lunch or dinner.

Enchilada Meatballs - by the Li'l Chefs

This one was a hit in a couple of ways.  First, the kids really did make it themselves, sans the oven part.  Second, it tasted great.


1 to 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
2 cups cornbread, crumbled
3/4 cup enchilada sauce
3/4 cup enchilada sauce, again

In a large bowl, combine beef, cornbread and enchilada sauce.  Combine, but do not over mix.  I recommend using your hands or a potato masher.  Shape into about 1 inch balls.  I use a small melon baller/ice cream scoop to make them all uniform.  Place into oven safe dish, or on a lined baking sheet.

I didn't have cornbread, so I used corn meal instead, and only 1 cup.  The cornbread would have left the finished product more moist, which would have been better.

Then bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes.  Place on serving dish and top with remaining enchilada sauce.
We also topped with shredded cheese.

We served it in bowls over rice.  We all liked the taste of it, and would have preferred more sauce on top.  Next time I think we'll serve it with more sauce, and maybe in a soft taco shell or corn tortilla.

Pillsbury Cinnamon Monkey Bread

The original recipe is here.

I changed it by leaving out the Hubby hated walnuts, and using Pillsbury cinnamon rolls instead of Grand's biscuits.  Instead of adding the cinnamon sugar coating in a bag, we stirred it in a large bowl.  I think that was easier. Then when it was done, we used the icing that came with the cinnamon rolls over the top.

I also added 1/4 cup of raisins.  We don't believe in adding nuts to baked goods around here, but for those of you who would do something so ridiculous, an additional 1/4 of chopped nuts would probably be nice too.

It was devilishly delicious!

Try it.  It's so easy and totally worth it.  Plus your house will smell good all day.

You could prepare it in the evening and then pop it in the oven in the morning for  quick breakfast treat before church or something.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Catching up

I've made so many fun things in the last six weeks, so many that I haven't had time to put anything on this blog.  I'm that good at this blogging thing.

So, I'll be catching up, with pictures for the most part.

My list, so you can look forward to the posts that are coming up:

1:  Pillsbury monkey bread, with my own little twists
2:  Enchilada meatballs, by the li'l chefs
3:  Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas
4:  FAILED Pineapple chicken enchiladas (this one's a doozy!)
5:  Mom's beef vegetable soup
6:  Baklava
7:  Baby Food - A very basic tutorial
8:  Curried Chicken Salad
9:  Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
10:  Chicken Pot Pie

What are you excited to see?
Do you make any of these?

Stay tuned...