8 Tips for making and storing baby food

With a lot going on around and within me, I haven’t posted in a while. 

I have been making my son Dominic’s baby food and we just got past the first stage of trying things one at a time and started mixing fruit and veggies and we’re introducing meat(chicken), which any mom could tell you is pretty exciting. Our little babies are now eating meat! Isn’t there something about eating meat that just says ‘grown up’?

Here are a few tips to help you start making and freezing your own baby food. I’m sure there are other ways, but this is what worked for me.

1. Organize your baby food tools. I use an immersion blender for making the food. I found this works best because it blends small amounts of food too and it’s easier to clean. I use 3 ice cube trays with lids for freezing the food after making it. I also have these little containers that I use for extra food that didn’t fit in the trays, so that nothing is wasted. Sometimes I put some of the fresh food in the fridge in these to serve that day. I keep everything in a basket in my kitchen cabinet, so that when it’s baby food time I can just take it out and everything will be in one place. I don’t use these items for anything else. 

  
2. Use a steamer/rice cooker. I steamed everything except for the chicken and the peas, which I boiled in a pot. We don’t have a separate steamer so I use the steaming basket that came with our rice cooker. It’s very easy and very quick.

3. Steam 2 fruit/veggies at a time. To save time, I pair fruit and vegetables with similar cooking time together. For example, Apple and pear, broccoli and zucchini, carrot and sweet potato,etc. I change the water and rinse the basket between uses. For this batch, I mixed them, but if your baby is still at stage 1 or you’d rather have separate things to mix later you can steam them together and blend them one by one.

4. Make small quantities. From what I read, the frozen baby food is at its best in the first month and keeps for up to three months in a good freezer. Our place is “blessed” with power cuts once a month or sometimes more often, so I make about 2-3 weeks’ worth of food at a time and after power cuts I throw whatever was left out and make a new batch. But with this system, not much food gets wasted. Remember babies don’t eat too much at a meal, mine eats about 2 cubes, and after a while you might want to try new things, so it’s best to keep quantities small. I would say about 6 cubes of each would be ideal. Of course sometimes you will end up with much more broccoli than you thought, like I did. But that’s ok, baby Dominic likes broccoli.

  
5. Add water to make food easier to blend. Don’t overdo it though, or your food will be watery. Most veggies and fruit only require 2-3 spoons of water to blend nicely. An exception are the root vegetables, like carrots and sweet potatoes that will need a little more. After you defrost your food to use it, you will find that it might need a little extra liquid to be smooth, especially if your baby is at the beginning of his/her solids adventure. You can add 1-2 tablespoons of water, formula or breastmilk to make it easier to swallow. I prefer to add water to keep the taste of the food and not make everything taste like formula. Plus, we are on a special hydrolized formula that smells and tastes awful and I just don’t have the heart to ruin the fresh food’s great taste.

6. Don’t forget to label your food. This is easily done with a Sharpie/black marker. Like I said, I throw leftover food out often, but if your place doesn’t have power cuts like mine, it could be easy to forget when you made the baby food or exactly what is in it. 

7. Keep baby food all in one place. I go the popular route and pop baby food cubes in ziploc baggies. Then I found it helps to keep all the baggies together, in a basket/freezer organizer/container. That will keep your freezer organized and prevent baby food baggies from getting lost and forgotten under the other stuff in your freezer. 

   
 
8. Separate meat from other food. Especially when first introducing it. I was very tempted to blend the chicken with the broccoli and zucchini, it just sounded so much more like a complete meal. But this way, if my son has a reaction to chicken after he first eats it, or if he absolutely hates it and I have to try again later, then the batch of zucchini and broccoli will not be wasted (he loves those on their own). And now I have a few chicken cubes which I can add to any other combination/vegetable or even serve it on its own. 

This is it for now. This is a cheap and easy way of making and freezing baby food, you can make enough food for 2-3-4 weeks in about 2.5 hours. You can be creative and have fun and make sure your baby had fresh healthy food to spread all over your floor and their face. I mean, eat. 

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Vegetables and Cheese Stuffed Omelet

Call it an omelet or an omelette, it’s fast, nutritious and delicious.

You’d expect this to be heavy, but it’s actually quite refreshing and perfect for summer or days when you don’t feel like having meat.

I cooked it for lunch; even if it looks more like a breakfast dish, I think it could be served any time of the day. 

Getting everything ready takes about 10 minutes (or 20 if you’re arranging it and taking pictures for a blog), but I had a good helper (my daughter Sarah) so it took even less than that.

What you need:

(Makes 3 BIG portions)

  • 6 eggs
  • a few spring onions
  • a medium sized bunch of spinach (it cooks down a lot)
  • a handful shiitake mushrooms (could be replaced with button mushrooms)
  • 6-7 mini tomatoes or 1-2 big tomatoes
  • 100g feta cheese
  • vegetable oil for cooking (1-2 tbsp)

  

First, carefully wash your veggies and chop them into small pieces. You don’t have to chop the spinach too small because it gets smaller while cooking, so some rough chopping will do.

  
To cook the vegetables heat 1tbsp vegetable oil in a pan, then fry the spring onions for about a minute until they start to soften. Add the tomatoes and sautee until soft and the juice from the tomatoes has evaporated. Then, add the mushrooms and spinach and sautee until cooked through, stirring often. The vegetables need to be cooked on medium-high heat so the mixture doesn’t get too watery. Season with salt and pepper but don’t use too much salt  because the feta cheese is quite salty. I found I didn’t need to add any salt at all.

When done, turn off the heat, add the crumbled feta cheese, mix well and set aside.

  
Whisk the eggs in a big bowl. Heat about 2tbsp of oil in a big frying pan and pour the eggs in. Fry until your omelet is set and the top is almost dry. This should be done on low heat so that the bottom of the omelet doesn’t get burnt while the top stays uncooked. 

When done, spoon the vegetable and cheese mixture in top of half of your omelet and carefully fold the other half over. Turn off the stove and transfer the stuffed omelet onto a plate.

 
  

I had a lot of vegetables so it didn’t gold that well, if you want the perfect looking stuffed omelet you might want to halve the vegetables mixture. We loved ours with lots of veggies inside.

Cut into portions and serve with bread or toast.

   

Broccoli, Mushroom and Beef Stir Fry

Broccoli is so NOT my favorite vegetable, but even I like it in this dish. 

This is yet another Asian-style dish that we love. It’s also quick and easy to make and doesn’t require many ingredients. You could adapt it to your preferences by using other vegetables (carrots, green beans, Chinese cabbage…).

The cooking method for the meat is somewhat different and it makes for tastier, more tender pieces of meat. I wish I could remember where I first read it so I could refer back to it. 

Cooking the meat and veggies separately makes it easier to cook them perfectly.

What you need:

(For 3 generous portions)

  • 1 big head broccoli
  • 200g (1/2 pound) oyster mushrooms (aka abalone mushrooms, aka pleurotus)
  • 400g (1 pound) lean beef
  • 3-4 garlic cloves

For marinating the meat, frying and seasoning:

  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar or cooking rice wine 
  • salt and pepper to taste 
  • 1 cup + 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil 
  • Sesame seeds for garnishing 
  • Sesame oil (optional)

Begin with the meat. If you have a big piece, cut it into small, very thin slices. I buy the already cut one labelled “beef for stir fry” from the supermarket.

Put it in a bowl, pour the soy sauce, oyster sauce and rice vinegar on top, mix well, cover with cling wrap and put it in the fridge for about 30 minutes (or more if you have time).

While the meat is sitting in the fridge, get your vegetables ready. Peel your garlic cloves and cut them into thin slices ( or crush them in a garlic press, mine mysteriously disappeared).

Wash and cut your broccoli into smaller pieces by cutting each floret into quarters. I find that the smaller it is, the more flavor it absorbs while cooking, but if it’s too small it might overcook easily.

You can clean your mushrooms with damp paper towel. I never cut oyster mushrooms, but rather pull them apart into thinner pieces.

  
When you have everything ready, start by cooking the meat. In a large wok, heat a cup of oil until very hot.

Drain the marinade and put the beef in the hot oil without attempting to separate the pieces. Leave it like that for about 40 seconds then, with a spatula, separate the beef pieces and stir until the meat has just browned and is not pink anymore (about 2-3 minutes only, cooking it longer will make it tough). Next, take the beef out in a clean bowl or on a plate, discard the oil and wash or wipe clean the wok (paper towel will do).

Heat the 1-2 tbsp oil until hot, turn down the heat and add the garlic, broccoli and mushrooms. Stir fry for a minute or two. Then, pour in about half a cup of water, cover with a lid and let the veggies “steam” on low heat stirring from time to time. 

When they are cooked but still a little crunchy, add in the beef, an extra 2 tbsp of soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste. I find that it doesn’t need any more salt but it depends on how salty your soy sauce is. 

 

Sprinkle with sesame seeds and 1 tbsp sesame oil and serve with steamed rice.

  

DIY Vietnamese Spring Rolls (Non-fried)

This was inspired by my friend Tracy and is a quick, tasty meal that could even trick your kids into eating more fresh vegetables than they would like to admit.

We love the versatility of these rolls because you can use any kind of meat and vegetables you like and you can even leave out the noodles for a very low-carb version.

Kids love rolling these themselves or, as my daughter does, making huge pockets and biting into them.

What you need:

  • meat – boiled chicken breast OR rotisserie chicken OR fried pork chops
  • vegetables – lettuce, cabbage, cucumber, avocado
  • noodles (optional)
  • rice paper (the chili one is my personal favorite)
  • your choice of sauce ( fish sauce, soy sauce, sweet and sour, etc.)

Begin by getting everything ready on a big tray or in separate bowls. Shred or cut meat into strips. Wash, peel and shred or cut your vegetables ( having everything cut into strips makes for easy rolling).


Use fresh rice noodles( Vietnamese Bun in my photo or soak dry rice noodles in warm water until soft and drain. Open the rice paper packets.



Pour your sauce into dipping bowls. I like the Vietnamese ready made fish sauce but it’s not for everyone as it could be quite smelly, so we have multiple sauce bowls.


You will need a deep plate filled with water for your rice paper. I have this cool “rice paper bowl” I found at the supermarket. It has a section for water and a section that holds the rice paper.


All you need to do is dip your rice paper sheet in water (make sure it’s wet all over but don’t keep it in the water for too long or it will get too sticky). Lay your rice paper on a plate, put your choice of meat, veggies and noodles near the edge, fold the two sides over it first and then roll into a nice spring roll. Dip it in the sauce and enjoy!


This takes 5-10 minutes to prepare, or a bit longer if you need to cook your meat, but it’s still a quick meal that everyone enjoys.

It’s also a great idea for parties and picnics. If you have leftovers you can make a few rolls in the morning and put them in your kid’s lunchbox. Just make sure the contents are quite dry so the rolls don’t get soggy.

Hello world!

I have a love-hate relationship with cooking. I love cooking when I’m inspired to make a dish I like or try something new. I hate cooking just because we need to eat or when I’m really hungry ( counter-productive, I know). 

I’m a mother of 2, with my youngest being 5 months old. I also work part-time as an English teacher, so time and energy come at a premium. That’s why I often make fast meals and use a lot of shortcuts. I do sometimes take the time to make a fancy meal. 

We have very eclectic tastes, so my recipes will be Asian, Eastern and Western European and even American.

This blog is not so much about giving you detailed recipes and teaching you cooking methods (Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay &co. do that wonderfully), but rather about giving you ideas of what to cook when you’re stuck in a kitchen rut and also give you opinions on recipes I tried. All from the perspective of a person without great cooking skills and without a fancy kitchen full of complicated gear.

I hope you enjoy!