Friday, July 12, 2013

Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Based on Baby Led Weaning Cookbook recipe. Removed onions and increased tomatoes. Meatballs are superb for baby since they are soft and easily picked up. First time made this with only 14 oz of tomatoes but the meatball to sauce ratio was a bit high for my liking. Using a 28 oz can came out better.

For the meatballs
  • 1 lb lean ground beef (or mix of lamb, pork, beef)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3-4 cl garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 t dried mixed herbs OR oregano
  • 2 T fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 c breadcrumbs
  • optional: 1 T parmesan
For the sauce
  • 4 cl garlic, chopped
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 28* oz can chopped/crushed tomatoes
  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves, torn
  • black pepper
  • optional: bay leaf, basil, parsley
  1. Put all the meatball ingredients into a bowl and combine using your hands.
  2. Shape into golf ball size. Ideally refrigerate about an hour to firm up.
  3. Heat oil (optional) in frying pan and add the meatballs. Fry gently until they are browned all over, turning as needed.
  4. Lift out of pan with slotted spoon (to drain off oil) and set aside.
  5. Return pan to heat and add the garlic, stirring for a couple minutes.
  6. Stir in tomato paste, then add tomatoes, HALF the basil, and black pepper.
  7. Stir well and bring to a boil. Return meatballs to the pan, cover, and simmer for 10-15 min until the sauce has thickened and the meatballs are cooked through (test by cutting one in half).
  8. Serve warm with pasta, rice or couscous, with remaining basil sprinkled on top
Bake the meatballs for 15-25 min (depending on size) at 350F. 
Freeze half the meatballs to cook later.

Steamed Veggies Plus

Been steaming a lot since buying the metal insert steamer. Has been a lifesaver in Baby Led Weaning and increased my own veggie intake and simplified preparation. Put the longer cooking ones on the bottom and add ones that take less cooking as time goes on.

1-2 min
spinach/bok choy
5 min
frozen peas
5-10 min
frozen okra
10 min
Green beans (frozen or fresh)
15 min
Corn on the cob
20-25 min
20-30 min

B bought salmon fillets and steamed them - oh so good. So much more tender. Important NOT to salt them beforehand (which would dry them out). 3 minutes for thin part, 9-10 min for thick part.

Tuna and Tomato Pasta

Simple ingredients and easy to put together. Used the leftover tomatoes from Tomato Chicken made with 28 oz can (so already had cumin, coriander and garlic in it). 8 month baby could pick up pasta and tomato chunks and peas.
  • 8 oz spiral pasta (or tubular)
  • 1 can low-sodium tuna (5 oz, in oil or water)
  • 1 cl garlic, chopped
  • 1 t mixed herbs/herbes de Provence (savory, fennel, basil, thyme, rosemary, ...)
  • 1 can (14 oz) chopped/crushed tomatoes
  • dash of balsamic vinegar, to taste
  • optional: frozen peas
  1. Cook pasta. Drain well.
  2. Meanwhile, make sauce. Heat oil in pan. Break up the tuna and add the garlic. Cook for 2-3 min.
  3. Add the herbs and stir to mix.
  4. Add the tomatoes and vinegar. Stir. Add peas if using.
  5. Simmer for about 5 min, or longer to thicken sauce.
  6. Pour sauce over the pasta and serve with additional vegetables/salad.

Tomato Chicken

Simple to put together and very tasty. First time used 14 oz can of tomatoes. Second time put in a full 28 oz can. With more tomatoes could easily fit more drumsticks. This is from the Baby Led Weaning cookbook but subbing garlic for the onions.

  • 5 cl garlic, chopped
  • 1 t cumin
  • 2 t coriander
  • 5  skinless chicken drumsticks (or 2-3 chicken breasts cut into strips)
  • 1 can chopped/diced tomatoes (14 oz OR 28 oz)
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • optional: 1 T fresh cilantro chopped
  1. Heat oil in saucepan.
  2. Add garlic, cumin and coriander. Cook for 2-3 min.
  3. Add chicken and cook until lightly browned on all sides (but not cooked through).
  4. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to boil. Cover and simmer for about 25 minutes, until chicken is thoroughly cooked (20 min for breast).
  5. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro. Serve warm with rice and vegetables.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Tuna Croquettes

Made these in the morning while M looked after D. Rolling them and dipping them in bread crumbs takes quite a bit of time. Would love a faster recipe (like spreading it in a pan and baking, then cutting up). They didn't really go brown on the top, after 27 minutes, but took them out and they were firmed up. Could use some additional seasoning next time (herbs).
  • 2 large potatoes (or for quick prep, leftover mashed potatoes)
  • 1 can low-sodium tuna (5 oz), in oil or water
  • 1/2 lime's juice (or to taste)
  • 2 T butter
  • optional: dried herbs
  • 1/4 c breadcrumbs (original called for 1/2-1 c, but they barely stuck)
  1. If using fresh potatoes, peel and cut them and steam or boil them.
  2. Drain tuna and break it up.
  3. Drain and mash potatoes. Add tuna and lime juice.
  4. Stir in the butter.
  5. Shape mixture into small sausages and roll each in breadcrumbs, putting on a greased cookie sheet.
  6. Bake at 400F for 20-30 min, until browned* and cooked through.
  7. Serve warm with vegetables.
  8. Keep leftovers in fridge or freezer and reheat in microwave or oven.

Finger Oatmeal

The plain ones didn't go over too well, but it could have been because her pincer grip wasn't all that good. Lately been doing it with banana and she actually eats some (8 months). Serves one baby with leftovers for cook to finish. Would like to try apple variation one day.
  • 3 T quick oatmeal (not instant)
  • 3 T milk
  • cinnamon
With Banana
  • 3 T quick oatmeal
  • 2-2.5 T milk
  • 1/2 banana
  1. Put oatmeal in flat bowl and pour milk in. Stir and let sit for a few minutes to have oatmeal absorb the liquid.
  2. Mash in the banana if using.
  3. Flatten with spoon/fork.
  4. Microwave for 2 minutes.
  5. Cut into fingers (or smaller) and then let cool.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Egg White Crepes

Needed to use up 4 egg whites from Banana Coconut Cream Pie recipe, so found this as a quick option. Many other recipes using egg whites require whipping them to a froth which I just didn't have the patience for.
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 c milk
  • 1 c flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 T oil
  • filling: berries (fresh or defrosted and drained), banana, mini chocolate chips
  1. Whisk together egg whites, milk, flour and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Pour 1/4 c and spread thin in pan. Cook for 2 min over medium heat until lightly browned.
  3. Flip and cook another 2 minutes.
  4. Put ~2 T filling in crepe and fold in half.
  5. Makes about 8 crepes (depending on size).


  1. Add a dash of cinnamon to batter.
  2. If too thick, add more milk or coconut milk.
  3. Cut recipe in half if only have 2 egg whites to use up, to make 4 crepes instead of 8.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Lentil Cheese Wedges

Based on recipe from Baby Led Weaning Cookbook (this version leaves out the onions). Very easy to make and pretty tasty from the herb mixture.  MM said needed salt but I thought it was fine. Need to cut into thinner fingers for baby to prevent gagging.
  • 1 c red lentils, rinsed
  • 2 c water
  • 3/4 c grated cheese (I used cheddar blend)
  • 1 egg, beaten [better with 2 eggs]
  • 1/2 c breadcrumbs [or dried coconut]
  • 1 t herbs (whatever you have. I used oregano, basil, parsley, thyme, ...)
  • black pepper
  1. Put lentils and water in small pot. Bring to boil. Cover and simmer for 10-15 min, occasionally skimming off froth as needed.
  2. DRAIN and place in large bowl.
  3. Add cheese, breadcrumbs, spices and egg. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Spread in greased 9" cake pan.
  5. Bake 375 for 30 min.
  6. Serve warm or cold.
Have made this many times since, including:
  • Indian style: using cumin, turmeric, chili, curry powder. 
  • Used dried coconut instead of bread crumbs to make it gluten-free
  • Forgetting to drain the lentils - very moist (better to drain it)
  • Double the egg
  • Less cheese, different cheeses (cheddar, mozzarella, etc)
  • Add grated carrot
Adults eat it up - especially those from Oz.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Baked Eggplant and Zucchini Risotto

Based on recipe from Baby Led Weaning Cookbook, but modified to suit my diet (no onion) and doubled to have leftovers for lunch. The veggies all shrunk quite a bit and most of the zucchini broke apart. Would need to cut pieces much bigger next time, but the sizes for 6-month intro worked out well none-the-less...the rice made it all sticky and she was able to suck on the eggplant pieces. Surprisingly tasty despite my lack of fondness for eggplant. MM rated it only 3 *s vs my 4 *s.

  • 1 eggplant (medium)
  • 1-2 zucchini
  • 5-7 cl garlic
  • 1.5 cups arborio rice
  • ~5 c stock, heated
  • parmesan cheese, generous amount or less (for BLW watch salt content!)
  • pepper
  • pat of butter
  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Saute garlic in oil for a few seconds.
  3. Add the veggies and cook until soft.
  4. Add rice and stir until coated in oil.
  5. Add heated stock and bring to boil.
  6. Pour into 9x13 dish (or large casserole). Cover with foil (or lid).
  7. Bake for 30 min.
  8. Stir, add more stock as needed. Bake for another 10 min.
  9. Add butter, pepper and parmesan. Stir. Let sit covered for few minutes before serving.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Butternut Squash Soup

First time cooking with butternut squash, and it was pretty easy.
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 0-4 carrots, chopped
  • 3 cl garlic
  • sliced/grated/chopped ginger
  • 1 pasta sauce jar chicken stock (or favorite stock)
  • 1/2 t cayenne
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1/2 t oregano
  • ground pepper
  • salt
  • optional: 1/2 block of cream cheese
  1. Optional, but recommended: Pre-roast the squash. Either bake whole at 375 for 1 hour or cut in half and bake cut side down for 30-45 min. Take out and cool slightly before spooning out squash. OTHERWISE, peel and chop squash.
  2. Heat oil in pan. Add garlic and ginger, stirring for 30 seconds. Add spices: cayenne, cumin, oregano. Add carrots and stir for a minute.
  3. [If squash is uncooked, add it in here. Otherwise wait til after carrots are softer.]
  4. Pour in chicken stock and bring to simmer. Cover until carrots are soft.
  5. [If squash was roasted in oven, add it in now.] Cook until squash is heated through and soft. Add additional water/stock if needed
  6. Season with pepper and salt.
  7. Turn off heat. Let cool slightly. Add cream cheese.
  8. Blend in batches. Transfer to serving bowl.
  9. Serve with sliced sourdough bread.


10/19/14: 1 squash, cut in half, baked 35 minutes. Scooped from one half, peeled other half and cut. Plus 2 carrots and 1 sweet potato. Ginger, garlic, garam masala, cumin, hot curry powder. Added 4 c stock and last 5 minutes 1 can coconut milk.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Slow Cooker Whole Chicken

This was my first time cooking a whole chicken. Worked out surprisingly well - very easy to put together. Spiced it in the morning, put it in the fridge, then put it in the slow cooker before leaving in the afternoon. Most chickens will fit well in a 6 qt slow cooker, but I have a 4.5 qt size one so got a on-the-smaller side chicken and it worked out well.
  • 1 whole chicken, small enough to fit in your slow cooker (~4 lb)
  • 4-5 carrots, chopped in half or thirds
  • optional: celery sticks, cut in thirds
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 t paprika
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t thyme
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
  • 1/4 t cayenne
  • 1/4 t pepper
  1. Combine rub spices in bowl.
  2. Put onions, carrots and celery on bottom of slow cooker.
  3. Remove giblets from chicken. Rub spice mixture all over chicken, and optionally inside and under the breast skin.
  4. Place chicken on top of veggies and cover. Cook on HIGH for 4-5 hours, or until meat is falling off the bone.
  5. Serve hot (with rice and greens).
  6. Use carcass to make chicken stock.

Chicken Stock

  • 1 rib celery
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 bay leaf
  • parsley
  • thyme
  • onion
  • salt
  1. Pick meat off bone and store as leftovers. Leave in bones, onion and juices.
  2. Roughly chop celery, carrot and onion. Add to crockpot along with spices.
  3. Fill with water up to 1/2" from top.
  4. Cook on low overnight (or 8-10 hours).
  5. Run through sieve to separate bone and other bits from the stock. Refrigerate or freeze.
  6. Use in split pea soup, hedgehog meatballs, wonton soup, risotto, etc.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Slow Cooker Burrito Beans

This recipe is supposed to mimic refried beans, without having to use the stove. They take quite a long time on high heat, so need to be started very early, or done on low the night before.
  • 3 c dry pinto beans, rinsed
  • 1 small onion, cut in half
  • 5 cl garlic, chopped
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 3 t salt
  • 1 t fresh ground pepper
  • 1 t cumin
  • 9 c water
  1. Place onion, jalapeno, beans, garlic, salt, pepper and cumin in slow cooker. Pour in water and stir to combine.
  2. Cook on high for 8 hours (or start night before on low).
  3. Pull out beans by strainer to serving bowl, leaving liquid in slow cooker. Mash with potato masher, adding liquid as needed for desired consistency.
  4. Serve as filler for burritos. Freeze leftovers.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Tomato Basil Soup with Cheese Dumplings

Made this for dinner and had leftovers for 2 lunches. Originally served with lettuce wraps*. Leftovers heated up with leftover meatballs and ate with toast. The cheese dumplings make this soup much more filling than it would be alone. There end up being quite a few dumplings - I could see cutting that part in half, or just doubling the soup and it all being fine. Soup = ***, Dumplings = ****
  • 4 cl garlic, diced
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (28 oz)
  • 3 c broth
  • 1/2 c fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 c ricotta
  • 1 c parmesan
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/3 c flour (or less when in Canada)
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t freshly ground pepper
  1. Heat the oil in a large pot. Saute the garlic and red pepper flakes, about 1 min, until fragrant.
  2. Add in the whole can of tomatoes, broth, basil, 1/2 t salt and some pepper. Stir and bring to boil. Reduce heat.
  3. Simmer for 7-8 minutes.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix the cheeses, eggs, flour, salt and pepper. Stir just until dough forms.
  5. When soup is done simmering, roll dough into small balls (~48) and drop into simmering soup. Cook for about 2-5 minutes until cooked through (depending on size...better to go smaller than what I did in the picture). Note: keep at a simmer only as boiling might make the dumplings fall apart.

Turkey Cranberry Apple Cheese Meatballs

I could only find sweetened dried cranberries (Craisins) so went with that instead of the unsweetened called for in the original recipe. They definitely came out with a sweet kick - which was ok, though if using Craisins again I'd probably reduce the amount so it wouldn't be so sweet. The cheese disappears in the final result so can be left out altogether if needed.
  • 0.6 kg extra lean ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 t rosemary
  • 1 green apple, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 c grated extra sharp cheddar
  • 1/2 c dried unsweetened cranberries (or 1/4 c sweetened)
  • ~1/2 c dried breadcrumbs
  1. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients. It will be very wet.
  2. Make golf-ball sized meatballs and drop into 4.5 qt crockpot, layering up as needed.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 5-7 hours or high for half the time. (Mine started lightly browning after 2.5 hours and the ones close to the sides starting getting very dark brown after 5 hours.)
  4. Serve with rice/quinoa and green beans.
  5. Leftovers may be frozen.


Can be baked in oven instead of cooked in slow cooker. 375F for 25 min

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Easy Slow Cooker Meatballs and Sauce

Made this today in a rush - sauce came out tasty but meatballs needed more spices. Served with spaghetti. Could use leftovers to make meatball sandwiches. Worth trying again and adjusting the spices and flavorings. Definitely was easy as it was. Most other recipes require cooking meatballs separately. This is done all in the slow cooker. The risk is a greasier sauce. There was minimal grease in mine - I was able to spoon off some extra liquid/grease from the top.
  • 1.5 lb (extra) lean ground beef
  • 1/4 c parmesan (increase to 1/3)
  • spices: parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, garlic powder, rosemary, coriander, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, etc
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c - 2/3 c breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 can (28 oz) crushed tomato
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 T parmesan* (or more?)
  • more spices* (same as above, generous pinches of everything)
  • optional: diced carrot
  • optional: 1/3 c red wine
  1. Mix beef with parmesan, generous amount of spices, garlic and egg. Add in breadcrumbs until desired consistency.
  2. Pour crushed tomatoes and sauce in 4.5 quart slow cooker. Add in sugar, parmesan and pinches of spices (and optional carrot). Stir.
  3. Divide beef mixture into 16-20 pieces and roll into balls. Place in slow cooker and stir to cover with sauce.
  4. Cook on low 6-8 hours.


- add in tomato puree to thicken sauce
- add minced onion to meatball mixture
- use homemade sauce instead of store bought
- use mixture of beef, sausage, turkey, etc
- use fattier meat, at the risk of greasier sauce. To counter it, you could prebake the meatballs at 350 F...but then it wouldn't really be an "easy" slow cooker recipe anymore.
- make meatballs night before, then throw in sauce ingredients next day to cook.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

No Knead Bread

Peasant Bread

This was pretty easy to throw together and came out nice and chewy. It's my first no-knead bread attempt. It was quite an interesting process just using a spatula and 2 forks. The original post has pictures of the whole process. The dough really is super wet. The bowls she uses are VERY small, which you can't tell from looking at her pictures since they are all close up shots.. I made a 9x5 loaf using about 2/3 of the dough (she recommends 3/4 of it) and the remainder in a small, shallow, square 1.5L dish. When mixing it originally my dough was quite dry, not wet like hers in the picture so I added a couple T of cold water. The alternative** is to start with less than 4 cups in the bowl and add extra flour after mixing it together. 

  • 4 c flour (or slightly less**...should be 1 lb 2 oz), not bleached
  • 2 t sea salt
  • 1/2 c boiling water + 1.5 c cold water (or just 2 c lukewarm water)
  • 1 T sugar
  • 2 (+1/4) t yeast
  • 2-3 T butter
  1. In a large bowl, whisk the flour and salt.
  2. In a small bowl, dissolve sugar in the water. 
  3. Sprinkle yeast on top and wait 10-15 minutes until yeast is frothy, to prove that it is still alive.
  4. Pour yeast mixture into flour and mix with spatula. Mixture will be very wet. 
    • Either put dough in a greased bowl
    • ...OR...scrape sides of mixing bowl and butter the sides.
  5. Cover with cotton towel and let rise in warm, moist area (like a warm oven with a pot of boiling water inside) for minimum one hour, but preferably 1.5-2 hours.
  6. Generously grease 2 containers, no bigger than 1.5L each, with 1 T (or more) butter each.
  7. Using 2 forks, pull the dough from the sides and punch down, turning sides onto itself. It is important that the dough is pulled from the sides and entirely punched down. Use forks to separate the dough into 2 pieces (of equal size if containers are equal...or if using 9x5 bread pan, then about 2/3-3/4 of the dough for that, remainder for small container or muffin tins or ramekins). Scoop up each piece and plop into prepared containers.
  8. Cover and let rise in warm area for 30-45 minutes. Dough should rise to just below/above top of container, depending on the container.
  9. Bake at 425F for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 375F and cook for 22-25 minutes more.
  10. Remove from oven and turn onto cooling racks. If they were sufficiently greased, they should fall out.
    • If the breads look pale and soft, put on cookie sheet and continue to bake for 5 min.
  11. Let cool for 10 min before slicing.