The way I usually cook is to look in the fridge, see what I have, what I’m in the mood for, then Google a couple of ingredients until I find the right recipe that will give me an idea for a meal. I had defrosted steak and my husband, Tim, wanted pasta. I typed “steak and pasta” into Google. While Karina took her pre-dinner nap, I searched through a couple of recipes until I came across one on Cooks.com (which I frequently use for ideas and for info on how long to cook things, since that is not one of my strengths) for Maitre d’hotel butter. It gave me a great idea. My husband grilled the steak (salt, pepper, garlic powder and chili powder). I made some orzo pasta (the kind that looks like rice, my first time using it). For the sauce, I melted about 1/4 stick of butter, 2-3 Tbsp olive oil and about 1/2 teaspoon of garlic together in a saucepan. I poured that over the pasta when it was done, added some shredded Parmesan (I guess about 1/4 – 1/2 cup), salt, lemon pepper, chives, fresh herbs (on hand I had rosemary, basil, lemon thyme and sage) and cut up an on-the-vine tomato (no salmonella!). It turned out great. I used the leftovers the next night as a pasta salad when some friends came over for dinner.
Cooking doesn’t always fit into our busy lives. It takes time and energy to cook and there are some days you have it and some days you don’t. No one should feel bad about ordering takeout or using Trader Joe’s frozen meals (or jarred baby food). But making a home cooked meal can be easy and quick (and cheap!). There are so many resources on the internet to help you find that “30 minute meal” or simple go to dishes. For example, tonight I didn’t really have the energy to cook and stood in the middle of the kitchen looking into the fridge, while Karina jumped in her jumper, wondering what I was going to make for dinner.
I like hearty meals. I’m definitely a meat and potatoes gal. I hadn’t defrosted any meat and didn’t have my usual bag of frozen shrimp from Costco in the freezer so couldn’t figure out what I was going to do. I was thinking it was about to be a Mac-n-Cheese night when I saw it! Kielbasa! I bought it the last time I was at the grocery store thinking I could use it for a quick meal then forgot about it 🙂 That left the starch…Sweet potatoes! I bought them to cook for Karina. Then I “googled” kielbasa and sweet potatoes and looked at a couple of recipes on cooks.com, which also called for apples, which I didn’t have but I ended up making a new favorite meal! Here’s what I did while Tim gave Karina her dinner (veggie burger made in the toaster oven with cheese and cooked carrots we had for dinner the other night).
- Microwave 3 medium size sweet potatoes for about 9 minutes.
- Cut potatoes in half, scoop out middle and put into my Kitchen Aid mixer. [saved 1/2 of one sweet potato to use for Karina for meals]
- Add a little garlic (I buy the garlic in a jar already minced, saves time), ginger (from a tube), low fat yogurt, 3-4 tbsp butter, salt, pepper and apple juice. Then I let the mixer do the work.
- Slice up the kielbasa.
- Spray Pam olive oil spray into a brownie pan.
- Spoon the mashed sweet potatoes into the pan and cover the top with the sliced kielbasa.
- Bake covered at 425 for 15 minutes
- Take cover off and bake for another 7 or 8 minutes
While it was baking I made a tomato and cucumber salad with dill and red wine vinegar. This only took about 30 minutes. Some nights this works and others it doesn’t. I’m trying not to get fixated on a schedule because I will just end up frustrated. Some nights we’re successful and eat with Karina, so she gets used to that, but other nights we eat after her or after she goes to bed.
Karina’s dinner was really easy (Thanks Adriane for the tip!). I just put a Boca burger I had frozen in the fridge, into the toaster oven, then melted some cheddar on top of it and cut it into bite sized pieces. She ate about 1/3 of one. The other night when I some friends over for dinner and had the oven on, I squeezed a pan of carrots into the oven to cook for Karina. I roasted them whole and then just sliced them and cut the larger pieces in half. Great finger food! Karina didn’t seem too keen on the carrots, but LOVED the veggie burger with cheese. Of course she’s my daughter, so she LOVES cheese. Her lunch today was leftover grilled chicken (cubed), cheese (cubed) and some cantalope (cubed). She also has been enjoying yogurt with bananas or blueberries and biltong (a South African beef jerky…mmmm).
I started to give her pasta as well. I bought some smaller sized pastas (mini farfalle, mini penne) and rigatoni (which I cut after cooked into bite sized pieces). One of Karina’s new favorite meals is cubed grilled chicken with butternut squash (I still have some purees in the freezer) and shredded parmesan. If my husband liked butternut squash, we’d be eating that for dinner too. Now Karina and I outnumber him though, so maybe we will starting having it more once she can state her preference:)
We shared another meal together last week: Grilled chicken and rice. Easy and quick. I think I’m going to have to try to get an indoor grill for the rainy fall, winter and spring here in Seattle.
Another great food I discovered recently (thanks to Chris!) are Zwieback Toasts. They are a great finger food for the little ones. It looks like biscotti and just melts in their mouth, so lessens the danger of them biting a piece off and choking. It is messy, but keeps Karina entertained for a good 20 + minutes. Which is helpful at a restaurant or just for us to be able to eat in peace and quiet at home.
My next ventures for Karina are going to be ground turkey and salmon…I’ll let you know how it goes. We have her 9 month appointment this week and I’m going to ask her pediatrician some questions and then I will hopefully feel less inhibited by what I can give her 🙂
We all finally shared a meal together!!! Very exciting! We grilled some steak. I cut some sweet potatoes up into pieces like steak fries and baked them with a little olive oil. When they were done, I separated Karina’s and then doused ours with salt, pepper and fresh rosemary. Then I cut up a cantaloupe. We sat down and put the food on her tray and let her at it! It was great!
Hi everyone! Welcome to Mamma’s Cooking. I wanted to create a place for moms/caregivers to talk about what they are cooking! I love to cook! It is my art, my hobby, my stress reliever. Even though I love to cook, I don’t always have the time or energy, so have found ways to make it faster, easier and more fun!
Mostly I like to cook simple, easy, healthy (or somewhat healthy) and cost effective meals. Food should taste good, so I don’t sacrifice taste to make something lowfat. EVERYTHING IN MODERATION! That’s what my mom always says. I sneak healthy things in where it doesn’t impact the flavor too much. Yes, everything tastes better with lots of butter and real cream, but using smaller amounts of those items or for some dishes using lowfat milk or neufchatel cheese instead of full fat cream cheese, doesn’t change the flavor. Anyway, I’m losing focus…basically this blog is about my love for cooking and sharing it with my friends and family and now new baby girl!
Figuring out what to cook for yourself for dinner is hard enough, so many new moms are daunted by also making their own baby food. It is an easy and fun way to get your child used to different textures and tastes, not to mention nutritious. I’m not saying that baby food in a jar is bad. Quite the opposite. It can be great! EVERYTHING IN MODERATION! Just like those nights you go to the freezer for the frozen Trader Joe’s meal, go to the jarred baby food. Or if you are eating on the run, the jarred baby food is easy to transport and you don’t need to refrigerate it. Or you don’t have anything else in the house and can’t stomach the thought of turning on an oven or pulling out a pan.
Ok, on to the reason for the blog…Since I love to cook, but have less time and more food to cook, I am searching for a way to keep my hobby alive and well! I have been making most of Karina’s food, but take short cuts where I can. She started on solids just before 6 months. We followed the guidelines giving her a new food every 4 days or so. (Check out this great resource – http://www.wholesomebabyfood.com/)
- First we gave her plain rice cereal (Earth’s Best), which she loved.
- Then we moved on to peas (also Earth’s Best, since I had read somewhere that infants cannot digest the outer shell on the peas, so to make them I would have to remove them, which I did not have the patience for)
- carrots (Earth’s Best)
- squash (roasted butternut squash in the oven with a little water in the bottom of the pan)
- sweet potatoes (baked in the oven wrapped in tinfoil).
- I also baked apples and pears in the oven. I bake these things when I have the oven on for something else. For example, last week whole chickens were on sale at the grocery store, so I bought one to cook on a rainy Sunday (Stuffed chicken with leeks and quartered lemons, sprayed skin with “I can’t believe its not butter” spray, rubbed with lemon pepper, salt and rosemary. Diced some potatoes and put them underneath the rack the chicken sits on in the roasting pan. )
Karina likes mixtures of food cubes. ( I bake the food, use a fork if soft enough or immersion blender and leave it a little chunky, small enough so not a choking hazard though and then freeze it in ice cube trays in the freezer). Her favorite is sweet potato and pear. We were mixing in Earth’s Best oatmeal (dulls the flavor a little while they are getting used to it and Karina liked the texture), but then she got really constipated, so we don’t do that so much anymore. Now we also give her prunes, which I don’t make because its easier to buy those in the store (Gerber, which also has an organic line if that is what you prefer).
So, this first blog has gone on long enough…I will keep writing (shorter blogs) about my search for how to best create meals for my new family, what I’ve tried that works and what doesn’t. Feel free to comment and add your own experiences so we can all learn from each other. I don’t claim to be an expert on anything, but just someone who loves to cook and wants to share it with her daughter from the start 🙂