Sunday, July 19, 2009

BBQ Chicken

Easy summer meals around here come in the form of BBQ. We are basically spending as little time as possible inside, making it possible to ignore the mess my house has become since I lost all motivation to clean it in June. BBQ chicken is great because it is easy and requires not prep or marinating. I BBQ it two ways, both start with a whole chicken. I am going to start with Beer Butt Chicken because it is so easy and delicious!

Beer Butt Chicken


1 whole chicken, giblets removed
1/2 beer in can
Cayenne (if desired)


1. Season chicken with salt, pepper and cayenne according to your families preference.

2. Place beer can on grill and slide chicken on top so the chicken is standing upright. Grill on low indirect heat for about 1 hour and 15 min.

Grill note: Heat the grill up ahead of time, depending on what type of BBQ you have. If you have a gas grill, place the chicken over the center burner and cook with only the left and right burners lit and cover. If you are using charcoal or wood, move the coals to form a circle around the chicken and cover.



My apologies for my absence, it has been a crazy summer so far! In the morning we have been getting as much as possible done around the house (which never amounts to much) and then after nap, head off to the beach until it is almost dinner time. This hasn't left me much time to cook, let alone post recipes or even check my email. I am just now starting to get over a nasty summertime cold and getting back into my regular routine. Having Jeff home from work for the summer (he is a teacher) has made for all play and no work around here. We are off to Maui on Tuesday and wont be returning until the first week of August. I have recipes backlogged and hope to get a few up before we go, if not, I will try to post while we are on vaca but I don't know how much patience I have for a dial up connection! Hope you are having as much fun this summer as we are here! Aloha for now...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hayden eats salad!

I feel like I have gotten a major victory, Hayden eats salad! The first time I gave Hayden lettuce, he took it, chewed it and then looked at me like he didn't know what to do with it next. He didn't believe me that it was food for the longest time! Each time I offered it, he did the same and then couldn't seem to convince himself that he should swallow it.

I refused to give up, salad was a staple in my home growing up and has been in my home since I have been cooking for my family (friends and other visitors) at SDSU. I cooked for everyone, and loved it. I was even (reluctantly) given the title of mom from my friends. But there was a rule, you don't eat if you don't eat salad too (by the way, the rule still stands when you eat at my house).

Salad is on the table every night here and I have been committed to Hayden eating it too, in his own time of course. He loves Honey Dijon and Caesar dressing and even eats raw spinach now with the Honey Dijon. His favorite lettuce is romaine and he doesn't care for baby greens (I think they are still a little bitter for his taste).

Salad of the week in our house

1 head Romaine lettuce
1/8 cup Toasted almonds
1/8 cup Feta cheese
1/4 cup Mandarin oranges
Sliced red onion
Honey Dijon dressing

Honey Dijon Dressing

1/2 cup EVOO
1/2 cup canola oil
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp champagne vinegar (or rice vinegar or lemon juice)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp honey
Salt and pepper

Whisk ingredients together, add salt and pepper to taste. Toss with salad.

What can I feed my baby?

As Hayden approached four months, I was starting to think more seriously about solid foods.  Asking myself, my mom, his pediatrician and my mom friends, "What can I feed my baby?"  I was so afraid, I wanted to do everything right and make his transition to solid foods fun and drama free.  I quickly learned this was the wrong approach, it was so limiting.  So I took a new approach, "What can I not feed my baby?"  The list my pediatrician gave me became my guideline for planning, preparing and serving meals.  

The list included:
  1. Peanut products
  2. Strawberries
  3. Tomatoes
  4. Fish
  5. Shellfish
  6. Honey
  7. Egg whites
  8. Citrus (diaper rash)*
This new approach was so liberating because the question went from what to how.  How could I prepare his foods safely and make them enticing?  Almost everything in the kitchen became fair game and I got creative.  Mixing purees and preparing soups, lentils and couscous with different veggies and meats.  I wanted to introduce Hayden to foods from around the world and I did.  I pureed in the beginning and kept his meals mild, then gradually increased the texture as Hayden learned to chew and the flavor as his palate became more sophisticated.  He loved it, introducing new food was exciting and he ate it all!

I remember setting up Hayden's dinner at a family gathering and my brother-in-law was amazed that I was spooning hummus onto his plate.  He couldn't believe a baby would eat hummus.  My response was, "Why not, the only way he would know it is weird that he eats hummus is if I told him."  I don't shower Hayden with praise for eating his veggies or trying something new, I expect him to do that.  I thank him for eating well (if he does) and encourage him to use his utensils but if he prefers his hands, I don't mind the mess.  I truly believe kids will eat when they are hungry and they will eat what you give them.  Food is not a punishment or a reward, it is fuel for the body and mind that can be delicious and fun too.

I didn't plan on getting on the Soap Box today but it seems that is what happened, hope my soap box speech is helpful.

*  Between 9 and 12 months, I had gotten the okay from his pediatrician to introduce all of these foods and the instruction to feed him what we are eating on his first birthday (my plan already as soon as I got the okay).  

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Penne with Spinach

This is a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis on Everyday Italian.  When I saw it, I immediately wanted to recreate it, but what recipe from Food Network doesn't look delicious?  There were three things I really liked about this recipe, there is so much spinach in it, you can use it in place of a salad, you don't have to cook the sauce and it exposed Hayden to unusual flavors like goat cheese without being too overpowering.

Penne with Spinach Sauce


1 lb whole wheat or multi grain penne
3 garlic cloves
2 oz goat cheese
1 oz reduced fat cream cheese
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
6 oz fresh baby spinach leaves
2 tbs freshly grated Parmesan


Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
Add the penne and cook until it is tender but firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes.

Mince the garlic in a food processor.  Add the goat cheese, cream cheese, 3/4 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of pepper, and half of the spinach leaves.  Blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy.  Set the cheese and spinach mixture aside.

Meanwhile, place the remaining spinach leaves in a large bowl.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid.  Spoon the pasta atop the spinach leaves in the bowl.  Scrape the cheese and spinach mixture over the pasta mixture and toss to coat, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten.  Season the pasta, to taste, with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle the Parmesan over and serve.

Granola bar anyone?

I am a big Jon and Kate Plus 8 fan, I have been watching ever since I learned about the show soon after Hayden was born.  Whenever I thought my day was hard, I could watch the show and regain perspective.  This past week, Emeril visited the show and made some amazing looking food for the fam.  Since then, I have been recreating the recipes.  I started with granola bars, because who doesn't love granola?  I made a few changes to fit what I had in my kitchen and they were delicious!  Emeril's recipe called for a combination of dates and raisins, I replaced those with dried unsweetened blueberries and then used almond extract instead of vanilla.  They were delicious and a big hit with the kiddos at the park!  (always a big compliment!)

Emeril's Homemade Granola Bars


2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8- or 9- inch square baking pan and line with parchment. Lightly grease the parchment and set aside.

Place the oats and almonds on a large baking sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 300 degrees F.

While the oats are toasting, combine honey and butter in a small saucepan and heat until butter is melted and honey is hot.

When oats come out of the oven, transfer to a large bowl and add hot honey, dates, raisins, brown sugar, salt, and almond extract and stir to thoroughly combine. Transfer mixture to the prepared baking pan.

Cut a piece of wax paper and place on top of the granola mixture. Using your hands, press the granola mixture very firmly into the pan. Remove wax paper and discard.

Bake the granola for 20 minutes, or until lightly golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely. Remove from the pan by pulling up on the edges of the parchment. Using a sharp knife, cut into 10 (or desired number) even bars.

Wrap in plastic wrap until ready to serve.

Yield: 10 to 20 servings, depending on the size of the bars

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Breakfast Quesadilla

I am not a big fan of sweet breakfast, so when we got a new cafe in town that served unique twists on breakfast, I was so excited.  I tried their breakfast quesadilla, loved it and started making it at home for Hayden and I.

Breakfast Quesadilla


2 flour tortillas
1 egg
1 tsp of milk
cracked pepper
1/2 tomato, diced
1 tsp of chives, roughly chopped
1 tbsp of cilantro leaves
1/4 cup of grated jack cheese
1 slice of bacon or turkey bacon, cooked and broken up into pieces (optional)
black beans
salsa (I like fire roasted tomato salsa)


1. Heat griddle and lay one tortilla on top.  Cover with cheese, tomatoes, chives, cilantro and bacon.
2. Lightly beat egg with milk and cracked pepper.  Slowly pour egg onto tortilla in the center, letting is creep to edges.  Cover with second tortilla.  Flip after the egg begins to set.  Cook until egg is done and cheese is melted.  Severe with black beans and salsa on the side.

Fire Roasted Tomato Salsa


5 tomatoes
1 jalapeno
1 yellow onion
1/2 bunch of cilantro
salt and pepper


1. Roast tomatoes, jalapeno and onions on grill or on griddle
2. Puree with cilantro until smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day BBQ with Hot Dogs for Adults (and kiddos)

Our Memorial Day BBQ started out at an afternoon at the pool with hot dogs, hamburgers and our favorite family, the Browns.  When Curren got a fever Sunday afternoon, it wasn't looking good for our get together.  We ended up rescheduling and had more hot dogs and hamburgers that we knew what to do with.  

Lucky for us we have  a wonderful group of single (or at least kiddo free) college friends that are always down for BBQ, beers and whatever food we can come up with.  My cousin's lovely girlfriend (and my friend) Vanessa offered to bring goodies we could top our dogs with and dip our sweet potato fries in.  She single-handedly turned our BBQ from boring to delicious with a few simple recipes and she was even willing to share so I could recreate the best hot dog ever!

Hot Dogs (but fancy)

Dogs (we had all beef, natural, uncured, hormone free dogs from Trader Joes)
1 avocado, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 jalapeno diced

1. Dice avocado, onion, tomato and jalapeno (to about pea size) and mix.
2. Grill your dogs
3. Fill your bun with dog and avocado chutney (I guess you can call it chutney because avocado is a fruit) (caramelized onions are also a great addition)
4. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Fries with Aioli

Sweet Potato Fries (Trader Joes)
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup sour cream
1 garlic clove, chopped
Juice of 1/2 small lemon
1/4 tsp of chili powder

1. Mix mayo, sour cream, garlic, lemon juice and chili powder.  Refrigerate and allow flavors to come out.
2. Cook fries and dip!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Alfredo Pasta with Veggies (not pretty but tasty)

I had a craving for Fettuccine Alfredo a few months ago and found this great recipe that is super easy because I don't have to cook the sauce.  I added chicken and veggies to make it a complete and easy meal I can make with no planning and in a small amount of time.


6 oz off pasta (I prefer whole wheat in shapes easy for little ones to pick up)
1/2 cup of half and half, light cream, or whipping cream (I have also used whole milk and it came out fine)
1 tbs of butter
3/4 cup of grated or shaved Parmesan cheese
Cracked black pepper and salt to taste
1/2 cup of peas
1/2 cup of broccoli
1 cup of chicken


1. Cook pasta according to directions
2. Cook chicken.  I season the chicken with salt, pepper and garlic and then heat a tablespoon of olive oil a saute pan.  I cook the chicken and then chop it into pieces Hayden pick up and eat.  You can also use leftover chicken to save on time and cleanup.
3. Steam veggies.
4. Drain pasta and combine cream, cheese, butter and salt and pepper in pan.  Toss in pasta, chicken and veggies.  Allow it to thicken (just a few minutes) and serve.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Motherhood comes with a lot of doubt.  There are three things I have done that I have no regrets or questions about: 
  1. Breastfeeding
  2. Making Hayden's food myself
  3. Teaching Hayden sign language
I think teaching him to communicate his basic needs (and then some) has alleviated a lot of the stress that comes with meal time.  I started signing with Hayden constantly around 6 months and he did his first sign at 9 months, "milk."  I was so happy when he was able to tell me he needed something and eliminated the guess and check that accompanies an infants cries.  Hayden quickly picked up all the signs associated with mealtime, "more," "eat" and "all done."  Being able to communicate allowed Hayden to tell me when he was hungry, when he wanted more of one thing or something different and tell me when he was full.  

Now, he still signs, everything from "eat" to "monkey" and accompanies the signs with words.  He says about 50 words and 10 phrases, I think his success in communicating early has really motivated him to express himself verbally.  I am still working on speaking toddler, I usually have to hear something a few times to know what he is saying, but we are working on it and only getting better as time goes on.

Bye Bye Bottle

Hayden started drinking water out of straw cups around 5 months, so I thought it would be no big deal to give up milk in a bottle.  It ended up being a process that took months, but I wasn't in a hurry.  He was trowing so many temper tantrums, I didn't want to bring on more with this battle.  I held off and now I am happy to say, the sippy beat out the bottle.

The first time I gave Hayden milk in a cup, he looked at me like is was NUTS!  He looked at me like he was saying, "I asked for milk, what the heck is this?"  That was around 12 months, so I held off for a while because I wasn't adamant about him switching.  

By 14 months, I was sick of bottles.  I was tired of cleaning them and I was tired of Hayden asking for milk before food.  I started giving him milk in straw cups at meals to get him used to the idea of milk in a cup.  He was surprisingly okay with it!  After a few weeks, I started giving him milk in a cup when he asked for it outside of meal time, it took a little getting used to but he was eventually okay with that too.  Then, we finally got rid of the bedtime bottle by 17 months and we have been bottle free for 2 months now!  Congratulations Hayden, you're growing up so fast!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


My recipe for spaghetti has evolved over many years and turned into something that combines elements from my grandmother, my mom and my dad.  It has a lot of stuff in it and lots of flavor.  Hayden loves it and cannot get enough.  I have served it to him with many different types of pasta, I started with pasta rings and then graduated to mini cheese ravioli and pesto tortellini (all available at Trader Joes with the other dried pastas).  Spaghetti is a once a week kind of meal in our house that provides lots of leftovers. 

Spaghetti Sauce


2 8oz cans of tomato sauce                 

1 can of diced tomatoes

1 can of tomato paste                                    

1 pkg of Italian sausage

1 med onion, chopped                                    

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 pkg mushrooms, sliced                  

1 cup of red wine

2 teaspoon of basil                                    

1 teaspoon of oregano

½ teaspoon of rosemary                  

½ teaspoon of parsley

¼ teaspoon of thyme                                   

¼ teaspoon of sage

1 bay leaf                                                                        

1 teaspoon of sugar

Salt and pepper


1.      Remove sausage from casing and saute until pink is almost gone.  Add onion, garlic and mushrooms.  Cook until onion is translucent. 

2.     Add tomato sauce, tomatoes and tomato paste.  Rinse cans with water and pour into sauce.  Stir in red wine.  While simmering sauce add spices and sugar.

3.     Simmer, the longer, the better.  (about 40 min)

4.     Taste, add water if necessary.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


I rediscovered meatloaf during my pregnancy.  I ate it around 24 weeks  and couldn't get enough.  I use the Quaker Oats recipe my mom used when I was young, with some variation.  Sometimes I will add bell pepper, chopped celery or pureed carrots.  Hayden loves it, once he ate it so fast he threw up! (not my goal but I guess it was a compliment).  I like this because I mix it, throw it in the oven and then its done in an hour.  Not to mention leftovers are delicious!

1 1/2 pounds of ground beef or turkey
3/4 cup of oats
3/4 cup of chopped onion
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup of ketchup
1 egg lightly beaten
1 tablespoon of worchester sauce
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper

1. Mix ingredients with your hands (don't over mix)
2. Transfer to 8"x8" pan and shape (I make a dome but you can also bake it in a loaf pan or make mini meatloafs in muffin tins)
3. Bake at 350 for 50 to 55 minutes.


Friday, May 1, 2009

Sweet Potatoes vs. Yams

Aside from Thanksgiving, we didn't see sweet potatoes/yams in our house very often (one of the few veggies I can say that about).  I learned about their "super food" status later and after Hayden was born, I knew I wanted them to become a regular part of our diet.  But what's the difference?  Which is better?  I started buying sweet potatoes by the bag or in spears at Trader Joe's and then heard that those were actually yams, this person said sweet potatoes are white.  Confusing huh?  Especially when you see commercial baby sweet potatoes have the rich orange color you are used to seeing.  So I consulted Food Lover's Companion, my go to guide about food.

Sweet Potato:  There are many varieties of sweet potato but the two that are widely grown commercially are a pale sweet potato and the darker-skinned variety Americans erroneously call "yam" (the true yam is not related to sweet potato).  The pale sweet potato has a thin, light yellow skin and pale yellow flesh.  Its flavor is not sweet and after being cooked, pale sweet potato is dry and crumbly, much like a white baking potato.  The darker variety has a thicker, dark orange skin and a vivid orange, sweet flesh that cooks to a much moister texture... Sweet potatoes are high in vitamins A and C.

Yam: Although sweet potatoes and yams are similar in many ways and therefore often confused with one another, they are from different plant species.  In the southern United States, sweet potatoes are often called yams and to add to the confusion, canned sweet potatoes are frequently labeled yams.  True yams, however, are not widely marketed and are seldom grown in the United States.  Though they can be similar in size and shape to sweet potatoes, yams contain more natural sugar and have a higher moisture content.  On the downside, they are not as rich vitamins A and C.

So in case you were as confused as I was, that is the difference.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

How I got Hayden to eat spinach two times a day


One of my friends got me started making smoothies for Hayden everyday.  It sounds weird, but it is delicious, my husband and I drink it with him now too!

Smoothie for one little one
3 strawberries
1 small handful of blueberries
1 small handful of spinach
1/4 of an avocado
1/2 banana
1 YoBaby yogurt (organic whole milk yogurt)
Top off with orange juice

Blend until smooth and I serve it in a straw cup (so no mess!)  Sometimes I add blackberries, mango or peaches, basically whatever frozen fruit I have on hand.


My mother in law bought me a juicer (Jack LaLanne's Power Juicer) and I love it.  Hayden asks for juice ("duce") every time he walks into the kitchen.  I make him fresh juice for a snack almost everyday and he sucks it down before I am done cleaning up.  The juicer comes with recipes but here is my go to combo:

Apple-Carrot Juice ("Sponge Bob Juice" when I make it for my 4 year old nephew)

1 Cup of Juice
2 carrots
1 apple
1 handful of spinach 
4 strawberries
1/2 lemon

What I love about this juicer is that I don't have to peel or core anything.  Just trow it in as is after you cut off the carrot tops and lemon/apple stems.  It is so easy and delicious!  I asked my pediatrician about it and he said that counts as fruit and veggie servings.  As long as you drink it within 20 minutes, you get all the nutrients.

Sauteed Spinach

It took Hayden a little time to believe be that this was food.  He would put it in his mouth and not quite know what to do with it.  But now, he will willingly eat and and ask for more.

1 giant handful of spinach
1 garlic clove
1/4 lemon
sea salt
olive oil 

Saute garlic in olive oil.  Add spinach and cook until all leaves are soft (not any longer).  Toss in sea salt and squeeze in lemon.

Friday, April 10, 2009

First Tastes

Hayden is now 18 months old.  Recipes I have posted so far, are the foods he has been eating more recently.  When I started feeding Hayden solids at 6 months, I batch cooked purees and froze them.  His first food after rice cereal was sweet potato, then banana, carrots, apple and other non-green veggies (a recommendation from my pediatrician).

How I did it:

1. Steam or bake the fruit or vegetable.
2. Mash or puree, adding cooking liquid or water to achieve the consistency I wanted
3. Spoon into ice cube trays
4. Freeze and transfer to freezer bags
5. Label and store for up to six weeks

Some of Hayden's favorite combinations:

Sweet potato, parsnip and potato puree
Cheesy potato, spinach and broccoli puree
Pear and blueberry puree
Potato, leek and pea puree
Carrot and apple puree

His absolute favorite when he was an infant and now, avocado.  

Sometimes Hayden would spit out a food he had previously loved.  Around 8 months, Hayden lost his taste for sweet potato.  In order to "trick" him into eating it, I would get a spoon full of sweet potato and then dip it in vanilla yogurt.  It sounds gross, but he loved it and I was happy because he was getting a the goodness of sweet potato disguised as yogurt.

My Dirty Little Secret... I'm Lazy

I don't want to make two meals and I don't want eat hamburgers and hot dogs everyday.  Aside from all the glamorous ideas about developing healthy habits and good nutrition, I am lazy.  I want Hayden to eat what we eat because I like eating those things.  Motherhood is all about sacrifice, I have made countless sacrifices.  But I want to eat good food and I want to sit down and enjoy it, that is something I have not wanted to sacrifice.  

I have always operated on the thought that Hayden would only know he was eating food kids don't normally like if I or someone else told him.  So he eats hummus and tofu, and he likes it.  He eats these things because that is what I have always given him to eat.  If he is hungry, he will eat it and if he is not, then he will throw it (meal over).  It sounds harsh and I certainly would not deprive my child of food and that is not what I do.  Hayden eats the way he does because I have never said, "Oh, he wont like that."  He will try everything, up to 10 times, before I accept he doesn't like it.  To date, I have not found a food he wont eat after a few tries.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Zucchini Nut Muffins

I started making these muffins for my husband to eat on the go in the morning.  When Hayden asked to try some, I gave him a bite and they have become his favorite treat.  This recipe makes about 30 muffins but the stay fresh for a while if you cover them with plastic wrap.

Zucchini Nut Muffins

3 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
1 /12 tsp of salt
1 tsp of ground nutmeg
2 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of  cinnamon
3 cups of sugar
1 cup of vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups of grated zucchini (about 3)
1 tsp of lemon juice
1 cup of chopped pecans (omit if your little one is not ready for nuts)

Preheat oven to 350.

1. Mix dry ingredients.
2. Mix wet ingredients in mixer.  
3. Slowly add dry ingredients, fold in nuts.
4. Bake with muffin cups four about 35 to 35 min, until toothpick comes out dry.

Kiwi Strawberry Cakes

Talk about beautiful food!

Kiwi Strawberry Cakes

1 brown rice cake (unsalted, avail. at Trader Joes)
1 tbs of strawberry cream cheese
1 kiwi, peeled and sliced

This was an instant hit!  I have also used plain cream cheese with strawberries and strawberry cream cheese with fresh blueberries.


When I started asking around about making my own baby food, one of my friends pointed me in the direction of a wonderful cookbook.  First Meals by Annabel Karmel is a great guide to feeding kiddos from 6 months to 7 years.  It has tips about successful feedings, recipes and fun ways to present food to little ones.  It really helped me get started and when I feel like we need a change now, I go back to it every few weeks. 

Here is one of my favorite dip recipes from her cookbook:

Roasted Red Pepper Dip

1 small red pepper (I used canned roasted red peppers, about 1/4 cup)
1/2 tsp of vegetable oil
1 shallot
1 ripe tomato, skinned, deseeded and chopped 
1 1/4 cup soft cream cheese

1. Roast the red pepper, peel and then roughly chop
2. Warm oil in pan, add the shallot, and saute until softened but not colored.
3. Add red pepper, tomato and cream cheese, and blend together to make a smooth cream.

Hayden LOVES to dip.  I use dips as a fun way to introduce new flavors.  Hayden especially likes the red pepper dip but I also make him avocado dip and hummus.  I usually buy my hummus at Trader Joes and there has never been a flavor he didn't love.  I started with the plain Mediterranean Style then then got into more complex flavors.  His favorite is Spicy Red Pepper.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Veggie Pasta a.k.a. Whatever I Have in the Fridge Pasta

This pasta is a favorite in our house and one of mine because it is yummy and FULL of veggies.  This recipe makes a ton of pasta, enough for leftovers and then some.  If need to, cut it in half so you don't have to waste anything.  We always manage to finish within a few days and it is just the 3 of us.

Veggie Pasta

Ingredients (on this occasion)
2 cups of seasoned, cooked and chopped chicken
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 zucchini, cubed
1 yellow squash, cubed
2 tomatoes, cubed
1 cup of sliced mushrooms (I like crimini)
1 cup of frozen corn
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
2 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper
1 lb of whole wheat pasta (any shape that is easy to pick up)


1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
2. Sautee onion and garlic until translucent.
3. Add dense veggies, squash and sweet potato and cook for a few minutes.
4. Add rest of veggies and chicken, season to taste with salt and pepper.
5.  Cook until veggies can be pierced with fork and chicken is hot.
6. Drain pasta and mix with veggies and chicken.


I can't think of anyone who thinks they have enough time.  I am a stay at home mom and I can't seem to find the time to do everything I want to do.  I cannot begin to imagine how working moms run a household.  I applaud you for being able to do it.

Making your own baby food sounds time consuming, probably nearly impossible.  It is not as bad as you would think.  All it takes is a little planning and preparation.

How I did it...  I would pick one day a week and prepare a new food for Hayden.  Since you are introducing one food at a time to infants, you only need to make one thing a week and then freeze it.  It took less than an hour a week to make the purees and I had a variety of foods on hand to feed Hayden.

A Note About Breast Feeding

We had a rough start.  Hayden was admitted to the NICU within the first hours of his life.  This experience was something I could never have planned for.  Bonding with my new baby and establishing breastfeeding had a whole new element added.  I could not hold him.  

Every 3 hours he was able to come out of his incubator for just 30 minutes for feeding.  I was under pressure from the nurses (for good reason) to have feedings that were quick and substantial.  This is very challenging with a jaundice baby who is lethargic and immediately lulled to sleep at the breast.  As a part of the effort to lower his billi level, Hayden's feedings were supplemented with formula and bottles, not an easy thing for a new mother intent on breastfeeding to swallow.  One advantage was being surrounded by the amazing nursing staff at Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas.  They helped me to learn the best technique for feeding my new baby and I will never forget how I felt the first time the latched on, I mean REALLY latched on.  I was so happy I had tears in my eyes, we had finally figured it out!

The point is, breastfeeding is hard.  I will always be amazed that something so vital to a newborn, can be so difficult.  Some women have described a high from breastfeeding, I never got that.  I loved knowing I was giving my son the best, but I was never completely comfortable with it anywhere except home.  It is a lifestyle and not for everyone.  So whatever you decide, it is your decision and yours alone.

Ambiance, Presentation and the Food


I quickly learned that my son felt the same way I did about eating meals.  I don' t like to eat alone, so when it is time for Hayden to eat, I sit and eat with him or at least sit with him.  This has been one of the most effective things I have tried.  If I am getting dinner ready or washing dishes, Hayden is watching me and not paying attention to his meal.  When I sit, he can focus and eats better than ever.  In the same spirit of my childhood, we turn off the TV and the phone and stay seated together until everyone is done.


If food doesn't look good, you are already questioning how it tastes before you take your first bite.  Food can be beautiful.  Bright colors and unique shapes are naturally occurring in fresh foods, I try to use that to my full advantage.

My favorite mama, Roon, taught me that little ones do better with little food.  Too much food on the plate is overwhelming for little kiddos, so I limit what I put in front of Hayden to a few tablespoons and then reload.

The Food

A great meal doesn't have to take all day.  Food can be delicious and fun, just start with key ingredients and see where they take you.  Stay tuned for where the foods in my fridge take me.

Friday, March 20, 2009

About Me

Hello and welcome to monkey food. Here is a little bit about me and why I have created this blog. I am a mom, a wife, an artist, a cook and (as one of my favorite moms would say) "the brains of the operation." I am a baby wearing, all natural mom and because of that, after breast milk, I wanted my son to eat nothing but the best foods. I wanted him to love fresh foods as much as I do. I grew up on a vegetable farm in San Luis Obispo, California. There, I learned to cook, from both my mom and my dad. Each evening, my brother and I would head out onto the farm or into our family's garden to pick the vegetables for dinner (sounds cheesy, but completely true!). Every night, we turned off the TV, didn't answer the phone and sat down for a home cooked family dinner. These memories are so special to me and I knew when I became a mom, I would instill the same values into my family's routine.

My senior year of high school, I was off to culinary school in New York. I wanted to be a chef and open my own restaurant. Then at the last minute, I deiced to postpone culinary school and go to San Diego State University and study business. Here I met my husband and found that I loved everything about the dining experience. A good meal is about ambiance, presentation and of course, the food.

When my son was born, there were a lot of things I wanted to do and breastfeeding and cooking his food from scratch were at the top of my list. I was not one of those moms who loved breastfeeding. It wasn't that I didn't like it, I just didn't love it. I loved knowing what I was giving him and the benefits of breastfeeding but I was never comfortable nursing in front of others and often felt left out when I have to go into another room to feed Hayden.

I wasn't sure where to start when it came to making baby food. I wanted Hayden to have a balanced diet that included foods outside of the norm. I talked to my pediatrician, other moms, read baby books and a children's cookbook and felt confident that I could do it. When Hayden was 6 months old, I was so excited to try out making some baby food and see his reaction to real food. Now one year later, he eats everything, including spinach and he loves it all!