Friday, June 27, 2008

We've started solids!

At JD's 4-month well check last month, his doctor recommended we put off starting solids until he was 6 months old in order to allow his gut time to mature more. I was on board with that, but JD had other ideas. A few weeks ago, he went from sleeping through the night (11 -12 hours!) to waking twice a night to eat. My big (nearly 18 pounds!) little boy needed more food than just breastmilk. So I spoke with the doctor, and we started solids.

Although most babies start with rice cereal, our pediatrician recommended we hold off on grains because JD is more likely to have problems with them. So bring on the veggies!

I'm planning to make all of JD's baby food at home. I did for Libby, so it's nothing new for me. But it's so much more important this time around since some store-bought baby food has dairy contamination problems. (I've been told that Gerber should be avoided.)

JD has successfully eaten sweet potatoes without any reaction for three days now! Of course, the first time I gave it to him, he wasn't too keen on it -- as you can see from the photo below. Thankfully, he's since warmed up to it! Next on the list to try: butternut squash.

CrockPot Salsa Chicken

Another recipe from Stephanie's blog. I've made something similar to this prior to my MSPI days, but it had a package of cream cheese stirred into it at the end. Alas, no cream cheese now, but this recipe is great even without it!

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes

CrockPot Coconut Cake

I discovered a blog last week that I absolutely adore: A Year of CrockPotting. Stephanie posts a CrockPot recipe every day, and several of them are MSPI-friendly! And for those of you that have to cut out gluten as well, Stephanie cooks gluten-free! I'll be posting a bunch of her recipes as I try them, here's the first.

I made this yesterday, using a Duncan Hines cake mix. I left off the coconut flakes. (I love coconut milk but hate coconut. Go figure!) Obviously, you can't use the cream cheese frosting, but vanilla frosting works great, as well. I didn't even bother to frost it; it was great without it!

Libby was my big helper when making the cake, although her favorite part was licking the beaters. ;)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Almond Fruit Bars

Here's a yummy recipe from Everyday Food magazine. It calls for using a stick of butter, but I substituted a 1/2 cup of butter-flavored Crisco with good results.

I highly recommend lining the baking pan with foil sleeves before adding in the ingredients. After baking and cooling, you can lift out the entire dessert to a cutting board. So much easier to cut the bars this way!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Chicken and Sausage Paella

It's not quite authentic, like the paella I had in Spain, but this recipe from FamilyFun still looks good -- and it's MSPI-friendly!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Puppy Chow

I loved this sweet snack mix as a kid (and an adult) but haven't made it in quite a while. It didn't even occur to me that it could be made MSPI-friendly. Just make sure you use safe chocolate chips, peanut butter and margarine. Here's a recipe from Chex that I like to use. They call it Muddy Buddies, but I've always called it Puppy Chow.

This is a great snack to make with your kids. Libby had a ton of fun shaking the bag!

Crunchy No-Fry Chicken

Try this recipe from Campbell's the next time you're craving fried chicken. It's dairy-free and slashes the calories found in regular fried chicken. Just make sure you use MSPI-friendly chicken broth.

Friday, June 13, 2008

BBQ Macaroni Salad

Here's a sweet and spicy recipe from Cook's Country. It's a great make-ahead option for summer barbecues. Use your favorite MSPI-friendly barbecue sauce.

BBQ Macaroni Salad

Serves 8 to 10.

Table salt
1 lb. elbow macaroni
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped fine
1 rib celery, chopped fine
4 scallions, sliced thin
2 tbsp. cider vinegar
1 tsp. hot sauce
1 tsp. chili powder
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
Ground black pepper

Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and macaroni and cook until nearly tender, about 5 minutes. Drain in colander and rinse with cold water until cool, then drain once more, briefly, so that pasta is still moist; transfer to large bowl.

Stir in bell pepper, celery, scallions, vinegar, hot sauce, chili powder, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper, and let sit until flavors are absorbed, about 2 minutes. Stir in mayonnaise and barbecue sauce and let sit until salad is no longer watery, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve. (The salad can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Check seasonings before serving.)

Slow-Cooked Italian Chicken

Here's an easy slow-cooker recipe from Taste of Home.

Light and Crispy Belgian Waffles

Surprise Dad with waffles on Father's Day this Sunday and enjoy them yourself, too!

This recipe comes from America's Test Kitchen. It has a surprising ingredient: Rice Krispies. The original recipe calls for milk, but I've substituted rice milk. Don't forget to warm your maple syrup. Yum!

Light and Crispy Belgian Waffles

Makes 8 (7-inch) round waffles

Replacing the butter with vegetable oil reduced the moisture in the batter and swapping some of the flour for cornstarch made for crisper waffles, but it was the surprising addition of Rice Krispies to the batter that delivered an extra-crisp and light texture. The cereal imparted a malty, slightly sweeter flavor, and each puffed grain of rice produced a tiny pocket of air in the waffles. For single waffle makers, use 2/3 cup batter per waffle. For double waffle makers, use 1 1/3 cups batter in total. If you don't use enough batter, the Rice Krispies can scorch. Serve with syrup.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup Rice Krispies
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. table salt
2 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups rice milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Preheat traditional waffle iron to medium. Meanwhile, stir flour, Rice Krispies, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in large bowl. Whisk egg yolks, milk, vanilla, and oil together in medium bowl.

With electric mixer or balloon whisk, beat egg whites in bowl to soft peaks. Pour milk mixture over dry ingredients and whisk until combined. Whisk in beaten whites until just combined. Do not over mix; a few streaks of whites should be visible.

Pour 2/3 cup batter (see note above) into center of preheated waffle iron and use back of dinner spoon to spread batter toward outer edges (batter should reach about 1/2 inch from edges of iron before closing lid). Close lid and cook until deep golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve immediately.

Skillet Chicken and Potatoes

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the Earth. I've just been busy with a trip out of town and life in general. To make up for my absence, I promise to post lots of recipes today!

Here's one from Cook's Country. The original recipe calls for adding some butter to the sauce, but I'm thinking you could use olive oil with similar results. It won't be quite as rich but still tasty!

Skillet Chicken and Potatoes

Serves 4. If you prefer, substitute fresh thyme or oregano for the sage.

1 lb. small red potatoes, halved
5 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 boneless, skinless chicken cutlets (6 to 7 oz. each), trimmed
Table salt and ground black pepper
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tbsp. chopped fresh sage leaves
2 tbsp. lemon juice

Toss potatoes and 1 tablespoon oil together in microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high power until tender, 4 to 5 minutes, tossing potatoes halfway through cooking.

Place flour in shallow dish. Season chicken with salt and pepper, dredge in flour, and shake to remove excess. Pour 3 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook chicken until browned on both sides, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to plate, leaving fat in skillet, and cover chicken with foil.

Reduce heat to medium, add potatoes, cut side down, and cook until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to platter. Add broth, sage, and lemon juice and, using wooden spoon, scrape browned bits from skillet. Return chicken and accumulated juices to pan and simmer until sauce is slightly thickened and chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer chicken to platter with potatoes. Whisk remaining tablespoon oil into sauce, season with salt and pepper, and pour sauce over chicken and potatoes. Serve.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Roasted Vegetable Wraps

Roasted Vegetable Wraps

Start to finish: 1 hour 10 minutes (20 minutes active)
Servings: 4

1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 2 medium)
3 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
8 oz. green beans, cut into 1-inch lengths
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 tbsp. lemon juice
3/4 cup prepared MSPI-friendly hummus
Four 8-inch flour tortillas

Preheat oven to 425 F. In a medium bowl, toss the sweet potatoes and green beans with 2 teaspoons of the oil. Spread the potatoes and beans over two-thirds of a large baking sheet.

In the same bowl toss the peppers with the remaining teaspoon of oil, then spread them over the remaining third of the baking sheet. Season all the vegetables with salt and pepper.

Cover the potatoes and beans with a piece of aluminum foil, leaving the peppers uncovered. Roast for 15 minutes.

In a small bowl, stir together the cumin, coriander and thyme. Uncover the potatoes and beans and sprinkle the spice blend and lemon juice over all the vegetables. Toss the vegetables to coat. Return to the oven and roast, uncovered, for 25 to 35 minutes longer, or until the vegetables are tender and browned.

Spread about 3 tablespoons of hummus over each tortilla, leaving a 2-inch uncovered border all around. Divide the filling among the tortillas; fold in two sides and roll up as you would a burrito, placing the seam side down so the wraps stay closed. Serve immediately.

Sun-Dried Tomato Falafel in Pitas

My last post got me thinking about some vegetarian options. Here's one from Beverly Lynn Bennett’s "Vegan Bites."

Sun-Dried Tomato Falafel in Pitas

Start to finish: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

1/4 cup sun-dried tomato pieces (not oil-packed)
1/3 cup water
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tsp. minced garlic
1-1/2 tsp. olive oil, plus additional for frying
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. curry powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne
1/3 cup whole-wheat flour
2 tbsp. finely diced red onions
2 tbsp. finely diced celery
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
Two large MSPI-friendly whole-grain pita breads
Sliced cucumbers
Shredded carrots
Shredded lettuce
Alfalfa sprouts
Freshly squeezed lemon juice, as needed

In a small bowl combine the sun-dried tomato pieces with the water. Cover and let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Drain off any excess water from the tomatoes, then transfer them to a food processor along with the chickpeas, garlic, olive oil, chili powder, curry powder, salt and cayenne. Process, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until completely smooth.

Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Stir in the flour, red onions, celery and chopped parsley. Pour enough olive oil into a large skillet to coat the bottom and place over medium heat. Carefully portion 6 rounded tablespoonfuls of the falafel mixture into the hot oil and flatten each one slightly with the back of the spoon. Cook the patties over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden on the bottom. Flip the patties and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown on the other side.

Arrange two paper towels on a large plate. Transfer the patties to the plate to allow excess oil to drain. Repeat with remaining falafel mixture.

To assemble each sandwich, cut the pita bread in half across the center. Open the pocket of each half and fill each with 3 falafel patties and as much cucumber, carrot, lettuce and sprouts as desired.

Thin the tahini with a small amount of lemon juice to make a sauce, then drizzle it over each pita half to taste.

Vegetarian Burgers

I was talking with a friend of mine who's a vegetarian. She said it would be so hard for her to follow a diet like this since soy and dairy are her major sources of protein. And she's right, it would be very difficult. But there are options.

Most commercially prepared veggie burgers have soy in them, but this recipe from Taste of Home uses chickpeas. Just make sure your buns are MSPI-friendly.

Bacon-Chive Potato Salad

I've mentioned before my love of bacon, so a potato salad that features this wonderful ingredient is high on my list! The recipe comes from Taste of Home.

Just make sure your mayo and bacon bits are safe. And to make the salad even better, instead of using bacon bits, crumble some cooked bacon. Even tastier!