Friday, April 18, 2014

How I Fed my Baby during his First Year

I put a lot of thought into how I would feed Birk.  However, this post is not intended to put pressure on you to feed your own offspring in any particular way.  I am passionate about food and eating the real stuff and the right stuff.  It is important to me.  A few people have asked me to share recipes and ideas for what I did with Birk.  Here it goes (of course, this is long, what do you expect!)

I do have to say, I had a couple of rules that I followed throughout the process:

1.  Don't feed him anything that I can't eat myself.
2.  Focus on vegetables.
3.  Avoid fruit by itself.
4.  Try to keep meal time fun and light.  Don't get frustrated.
5.  Avoid dairy.
6.  Avoid bland food, white food, empty carbs (obviously).
7.  Obviously no sugar, white flour, or food with no nutrients.

0-6.5 months

Birk was on a milk only diet.  He nursed approximately every five minutes.  Kidding.  He was not on a schedule but it was every 1-4 hours including through the night.  Between 1-3 months, he slept pretty well at night so he would go 5 or 6 hour stretches without eating.  But once he was around 4 months, he nursed at least every 3 hours through the night.  Conclusion.  Lots of milk.  I will forever miss this because a milk only diet is so easy.  You don't have to pack food, make food, worry about food.  

6.5-7 months
Day 1 - Avocado pieces

Birk tried non-milk food.  This did not go so well.  We wanted to start with avocado.  And I had read a lot about baby led weaning.  Where you let your baby feed themselves and skip the puree phase.  I am oversimplifying the whole thing, but you can read about it elsewhere if you are interested.  I put a few pieces of avocado on Birk's plate and let him put it in his own mouth.  He didn't.  Despite putting every other non-edible thing he touches in his mouth, he wasn't interested.  I took a little piece and put it in his mouth (against all the rules of baby led weaning).  He gagged, which then caused him to choke, which then caused him to puke what seemed like 5 gallons of milk out onto the tray.  What a great start!  It was so scary.  The video above is after all of that happened...

Day 2 - Avocado Soup

Day 3 - Avocado Soup with Dad

Let't try pureeing!  After a few days (or the next day), we tried again.  I mashed up an avocado and mixed it heavily with breast milk.  I call this, avocado soup.  After trying this many times, he started hating it less.  Avocado is nice and fatty, however, it is not sweet at all.  And if you taste breast milk (at least the foodforscot variety), it is very sweet.  You can see in the Day 2 and Day 3 videos that he ate maybe a tablespoon and was overall not super interested in the whole thing.


-More or less mass chaos.

How much and how frequent?

NON-MILK: 1 tsp. to 1 tbsp. each meal; 1 meal each day or every other day.
MILK: every three hours.

7-8 months

Second Taste Ever - Butternut Squash Puree

Third Taste Ever - Oats (mixed with Apples and Cinnamon)

During this month, I started to experiment with different types of purees, but all the purees were mild, easy flavors.  You will notice in the Butternut Squash video, that he still had a hearty gag reflex.  He kept that for many months.  

For the first part of the month, I was only feeding him once per day.  And it was at various times.  Towards the end of the month, I would occasionally feed him twice in one day.  However, he hardly ever ate much at both meals.  Here is what I tried in order:

-Butternut squash, roasted, pureed.  This was not hated, but not loved.  
-Cooked whole oats, mixed with our summer apple* sauce and cinnamon, then pureed.  This is still to this day his favorite thing to eat.  This is the first thing he ate that he seemed to like.
-Pumpkin, roasted, mixed with cooked brown rice, pureed.  This was a favorite.
-Potato & Carrot either roasted or boiled, then pureed with salt, pepper, and butter.  This was a favorite.
-Cooked whole oats, mixed with banana*, pureed.  This was rejected for the most part.  
-Cooked whole oats, mixed with cooked peaches*, pureed.  This was a favorite.

Carrot and Potatoes, a silky smooth puree

*Anything made with fruit was minimally sweet.  In fact, I often made a big pot of oatmeal for all of us and then had to add brown sugar to mine to really enjoy it.  The apple sauce we made is the full apple, we did not peel the apples.  Obviously no sugar or added anything.


-At this point, we all ate oatmeal every day and just pureed some for Birk.
-Purees were saved in the fridge, as I was still determining what he liked and would eat.

How much and how frequent?

NON-MILK: 1-2 ounces each meal; 1-2 meals per day.
MILK: every three hours.

8-9 months

This is how he eats if it is something he has had many times before.

This is how he eats if it is something new.  

During this phase, I started to introduce green vegetables now that he was capable of putting food in his mouth and swallowing.  Something that apparently did not come naturally to him.  At this point, he was consistently eating twice a day, always in the morning and then at lunch or dinner or some time in between.  When feeding him purees, I preferred to feed him while I was cooking or before I ate.  But I would occasionally feed him during the meal time too.  We continued with purees, here were the new ones:

-Delicata Squash, roasted, mixed with cooked millet, seasoned with salt, pepper, thyme (optional), pureed.  This was a favorite.
-Acorn Squash, roasted, mixed with brown rice, seasoned with salt, pepper, pureed.  Liked it.
-Sautéed Kale mixed with roasted Sweet Potatoes, pureed.  Anything mixed with sweet potatoes was a favorite hardcore.  I also did this with spinach, which is a much smoother puree.
-Boiled potatoes mixed with sweet corn (frozen from the summer), seasoned with salt, pepper, and butter, pureed.  Liked it fine.
-Roasted carrots and turnips, seasoned with salt and pepper, pureed.  Liked it fine.
-Mashed avocado.
-Cooked whole oats, mixed with blueberries, pureed.  Liked it.
-Lots of other combos of:  acorn squash, spinach, broccoli, millet, brown rice, pumpkin, other winter squashes, potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, etc.
-Avocado pureed with boiled potatoes.
-Butternut Squash and Oats, pureed.

Blueberry Oats on the face

 The Oatmeal!  Mom and Birk versions

 Butternut Squash & Potato, Butternut Squash and Oats, Avocado & Potato


-Oatmeal was made every 3-4 days.  I would make a big pot for all of us, the portion out 3-5 servings for Birk that were kept in the fridge.  I put them in 4 ounce canning jars.
-Purees were generally made "in bulk".  I would save a few portions in the fridge in the 4 ounce canning jars.  I put the rest in a silicon mold which froze 4 ounce portions.  I kept the frozen portions in freezer bags.  I usually had 4-6 options for him at any time in the freezer.

How much and how frequent?

NON-MILK: 2-3 ounces each meal; 2 times a day.
MILK: every three hours.

9-10 months

Birk starts to really enjoy meal time, savors his bites.  

Birk eating a very pureed food (amaranth, apricot, banana).

Birk eating non-pureed oats for the first.  

Birk eating millet, spinach, and basil.

During this phase, I started to introduce more sophisticated flavors and textures.  He got his first taste of beans and lentils.  At this point, we were giving him a chance to eat three times a day.  When we started three times a day, he consistently only ate well two of those times.  The other time he would eat maybe a bite or two and then not be interested.  This happened for about 3 months.  At this point, he did not respond well to texture.  This is when I first tried to not puree his oats or to feed him whole millet mixed with a puree.  When these were introduced, I would give it to him 3, 4 times and he would not eat them or much.  Sometimes I would go back to pureeing and try the non-pureed again.  Sometimes I would continue to try.  Either way, it took about a month for him to get used to the texture and start eating more than a few bites.

At this point, he was also being tested for his iron levels at his well visits.  Although they were not low, they were not high.  I did various this at this point to try to help with this including:  adding apricot and prune purees into his oatmeal, adding greens, beans, cooking in a cast iron skillet, etc.  I also love using millet.  It is such a fast grain to cook (compared to rice) and has a totally neutral flavor.  Here were some new dishes we tried:

-Millet, zucchini, basil, apple sauce, pureed or everything chopped super fine.
-Boil dried apricots or prunes in water until very soft.  Puree.  Freeze in ice cube tray.  Add to dishes as needed.
-Cranberry beans and brown rice, pureed.  All the beans I made for Birk from dry.  It is important when giving babies beans to give then plenty of time to cook.  Soak over night.  Rinse.  Boil for 2 hours.  The soaking and long cooking helps with gas and keeps the texture very soft.  Birk has always liked beans.
-Steamed asparagus and cooked millet, pureed.  Seasoned with salt, pepper.  Not a favorite.
-Spinach, basil, millet, pureed.
-Cooked lentils, kabocha pumpkin, seasoned with oregano, salt, and pepper.  This was a favorite.  Scot claims that this tastes like Sugar Cookies, however, no one agrees with him.
-Cooked amaranth, pear, and pumpkin, pureed.  This was intended to give him some variety at breakfast.  He liked it.
-Cooked amaranth, banana, apricot, pureed.  He ate it well at first, but seemed to get sick of it.

Left: Avocado face.  Right: Thanksgiving dinner (mashed potatoes, butternut squash/kale puree, pumpkin puree-dessert)
Birk's first restaurant food - Carrot Ginger Soup from a vegan restaurant


-same as last month.

How much and how frequent?

NON-MILK: 4 ounces per meal; 2-3 times per day.
MILK:  every 3-4 hours.

10-11 months

Up until this point, he really didn't put food in his mouth.  This is him self feeding.

Then, he FINALLY puts food in his own mouth.  Avocado.  

The start of self feeding for us!  This was by far the most difficult stage of eating.  At this point, Birk was just getting his first four teeth, not that they help much anyway.  But I found it very difficult to find food that he could feed himself but that also followed my rules.  Not to mention, he just didn't put food in his mouth.  At this point, I was still mostly doing purees but giving him finger food at every meal.  Here are the finger foods that I found worked best for his novice pincer grip (he didn't have one at all, see above video for the method he developed):

-oat pancakes (this recipe, but I used a Chia egg and apple sauce for the liquid).  I made a full batch and froze them.  They lasted about 3 months.  I thought he would devour these, as they are all his favorite flavors.  He didn't, however, they were tempting enough for him to practice feeding himself.  They were very convenient to have in the freezer.
-avocado.  Perfectly soft.  Difficult to grab, but ended up being the winner for Birk.  After enough practice, he really perfected his technique of eating avocado.  This has been his all time favorite, go to food.  See above video.
-pieces of bread dipped in a veggie sauce.  He would have trouble if they were too soggy, so to encourage him to feed himself, I'd give him the plain bread.  Then the next piece would have a little sauce on it.  Repeat as necessary.  The veggie sauce could be any pureed veggie, soup, etc.  We eat lots of stuff like this so I just pureed whatever I had.
-roasted root veggies - carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc.  I tried turnips, beets, rutabagas, and other similar root veggies and found they do not get very soft when roused.  I preferred to cut them into small pieces prior to roasting because the skin that formed when roasting helped him pick up the pieces.  However, sometimes that skin made me nervous too so I would remove it before giving it to him.

Otherwise, purees were similar:

-veggie purees mixed directly with millet.
-always mixing green veggies like spinach, kale, and broccoli with either sweet potato or butternut squash.  Cutting it with a grain also helped.
-his oats were now whole!  always!  so much easier!  We stopped pureeing grains, in general.
-he liked anything pureed with lentils.  Lentils puree up much better than beans.

Overall, Birk was very bad at feeding himself this entire time.  This was a difficult transition for all of us!

One method was to let him eat directly off the plate.  Worked this time!


-for oatmeal, we would just make 1 cup of oats for Birk and portion it out in the 4 ounce canning jars.  We would do this every 4-5 days.
-For any puree or pseudo puree, I was still freezing batches, as before.  But often times I would just have enough for a few days in the fridge.
-I would also freeze roasted veggies and the oat pancakes.  An important tip with freezing these types of things, you need to lay them out and flash freeze them on a baking tray before transferring to a freezer bag or container.  That way you can easily retrieve pieces.

How much and how frequent?

NON-MILK: 4 ounces per meal; 2-3 times per day.  (and maybe less, this was a rough patch)
MILK:  every 3-4 hours.

11-12 months

Dipping roasted sweet potatoes into a pureed lima bean sauce.

This is very often how meal time goes.  

Self feeding started to pick up here.  We were traveling a lot during this period which changed our habits a bit.  Although he allowed us to spoon feed him his oatmeal in the morning, it was around this time that he did not want to be spoon fed purees.  He wanted to feed himself!  I found a lot of great finger foods for him during this time:

-sticky brown rice (or while traveling, any rice)
-tofu - he loves tofu.  I would season it up with different spices:  cumin, coriander, paprika, turmeric, etc.  He ate it in different asian sauces that we were eating.
-black beans, cranberry beans - cooked from dry.  Overcooked so they split and so they were very soft. Tip:  store beans in their liquid so they don't dry out.  Even while feeding him, I kept the beans in a bowl of liquid.
-roasted sweet potatoes continued to be a favorite.  I started dipping them in veggie sauces so that he could get other veggies in.  See video above.
-avocado is our go to emergency food.
-started give him little pasta shells with different veggie sauces:  pestos, spinach/tomato, tomato, etc.  I started with brown rice, gluten free pasta.  It is very soft.  He loves pasta.
-hard boiled egg yolks.  He was a big fan however, they are difficult to eat.  I almost always was feeding him something else with the yolks, so often I would just coat the other food in the yolk pieces.
-Started making veggie curries with boiled veggies (all the root veggies, since thats what we had from our CSA) and mixing with coconut curries.
-banana - out of pure desperation when we were traveling, Birk started eating bananas.  It is the one and only food that is finger food friendly and available EVERYWHERE.  At first, he would eat about a quarter.  One time he ate the whole thing.  Usually he eats half.  He doesn't actually seem to love bananas actually, but he will eat them.
-fish - tried halibut and salmon.  It is a good finger food and he did like it.
-steamed broccoli with sauce (I would add it to pastas).  A very good finger food.  Not his favorite, but he is coming around.

Left:  Birk eat avocado.  Right: Birk eating/squishing beans.  


-nothing to freeze anymore.
-hardboiled eggs were cooked ahead of time and kept in the fridge.

Traveling Tips

-Always had a banana and avocado.
-Bought packets of instant oats.  Individual containers of unsweetened, organic apple sauce.
-We went to Hawaii for a week, but were gone from home a total of 2 weeks.  I bought some emergency squeezable pouches because there were plenty of moments when it was impossible to find something for him to eat.  My research led to me this brand.  Per my rule #1, yes I did eat every single one I gave him.  Even though the flavors I bought weren't bad, he did not eat much.  And I didn't give him any that were pure fruit.  It helped us in a pinch.  Some of them have nice mixes of greens and fruit, which were a favorite of me and Birk.  He also liked pure sweet potato, which I bought with the intension of mixing into some rice at a restaurant.
-Vegetarian restaurants almost always had lots of option for Birk.
-Almost any ethnic restaurant (in other words, non-American food) usually has some stewed veggie dish with rice
-Whenever I go out with Birk, when possible, I bring food with me.

How much and how frequent?

NON-MILK: 4 ounces per meal; 3 times per day.
MILK:  every 4 hours; sometimes he sleeps 5-6 hours at night without nursing.

1 year!

Orzo with Spinach pesto and roasted red peppers.  

Birk eating Chana Masala (I made and brought to restaurant) on his first birthday.

Birk is just starting to try to use a spoon.

It is amazing to watch his journey in eating.  Amazing and like really hard.  My Rule #4 is a hard one.  After making Birk food, I have to muster up all that is in me to NOT get frustrated when he throws it on the floor or feeds to Copper.  Now a days, he eats quite well at the beginning of the meal.  But resorts to throwing and feeding Copper once his initial hunger subsides.  Right now, I tell him not to do it and motion that he should put the food in his mouth.  He usually listens and puts the next bite in his mouth.  Repeat a few times.  Then eventually, he just sits and enjoys the rest the meal as an observer.  This might change at some point, but that is how it is going now.

-The Veggie Sauce - 1 jar of tomato sauce (20 + ounces), 1 jar of water, 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, chopped into pieces, 1 head of broccoli, chopped into pieces.  Put all in pot.  Bring to a boil.  Boil until tender.  Puree with stick blender.  Put on pasta, rice, veggies, or use as a dip.  You can add apple sauce if necessary.  Season with salt and pepper.
-Cauliflower/Spinach sauce - Boil chopped up cauliflower in water or veggie stock (enough liquid to just cover).  Once it is very tender, blend with immersion blender….add dijon, half of a cup of shredded cheese, several large handfuls of spinach.  Blend again until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.  Put on pasta, rice, veggies, or use as a dip.
-Scrambled eggs.  He loves them, I plan to add spinach soon.
-Roasted red peppers.  He really liked them at first.
-Chickpeas are one of his favorite beans.  I cook from dry in big batches.
-Hummus - I make my own for him with basically chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and garlic.  He eats on little pieces of bread right now.
-Indian food - oh my…it has to be his favorite thing.  He loves Chana Masala.  All the stewed veggies in the different Indian sauces.  Paneer is an obvious favorite.  Rice.  He likes it all.
-Polenta.  Cook polenta, pour into a brownie pan.  Refrigerator until solid.  Slice and then sauté in butter.  Serve with a sauce or hummus. 
-Whole wheat pasta.  Orzo is a great cut (see above video).  Or shells are good because they can hold a lot of sauce.  Above he is eating orzo with a spinach pesto and roasted red peppers.  


-nothing to freeze anymore.
-hardboiled eggs were cooked ahead of time and kept in the fridge.

How much and how frequent?

NON-MILK: 6 ounces per meal; 3 times per day.
MILK:  every 4-5 hours; more frequently at night; more consistently sleeping 5-6 hours at night without nursing.


As of now, I still stand by my limited dairy and limited fruit rule.  However, over the past three months, he has only gained one pound!  When he was an immobile, milk chugging infant, he packed on the pounds.  Now he is crazy, active, and always busy.  I am happy with the amount he eats, but am always considering added some easy calories.  My theory is that once kids start eating fruit and cheese, they will struggle to eat the healthy stuff.  He is not a particularly adventurous eater.  For the most part, I have to give him something 5, 10, 15 times before he will start really consuming it.  I will let him taste fruit or cheese or yogurt, but I don't give it to him as part of his meal.  I could consider including plain yogurt in his diet for all those bacterias.  At some point, I will add fruit as a snack, but just not sure when that will be.  I think I am going to permanently leave fruit out of meal time.  We don't eat fruit as part of our meals, so that is easy enough.  As you know, I am not a big cheese person, so that is also not much of an issue.

What about sugar?  I am still not sure when that will be introduced either.  Definitely not until he understands the concept.  Once that happens, we shall see.

I made just about every recipe from this cookbook:


Once I introduced food, I started giving Birk water to drink from a cup.  Our Dr. was the first one who recommended not using a sippy cup.  You can see his progression.  He is pretty good at drinking from a water bottle with like a 1 inch diameter opening.  He can also use a straw, which our Dr. said is good for speech development.  Even though he enjoys drinking water, he is still quite bad at it.  At a year, we are just periodically giving him water throughout the day and at meals.

Birk's first try drinking water.

Birk still learning to drink water out of a cup.

Birk gets better at drinking water out of a cup.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Italian Burrito

I know what you are thinking..."That is the worst name."  Italian Burrito.  It doesn't sound, exactly, fancy.  I spent some time (about 3 minutes) pondering the best name for this.  Then, I stopped spending time pondering the name and ended up with Italian Burrito.

The only reason that I am fretting is...this is one of my favorite things I have had in a while.  And the name definitely belittles how amazing this is.

Let me paint you a picture (©mametown).  This is a wrap filled with Israeli couscous (i.e. pasta), sautéed eggplant, garlicky kale, roasted bell peppers, topped with a little shredded mozzarella cheese, marinara sauce, and grated parmesan.  It you want a meal that is healthy but also not really, this is the meal for you.

Warning.  I made the marinara from tomatoes I grew and roasted the peppers from our CSA.  I have been shoveling so many raw tomatoes in my face over the course of the summer that I am now forced to cook them.  The eggplant and kale came in our CSA this week too.  So did the garlic.

Scot has a saying that I don't think I have shared yet on foodforscot.  If something is really good, he says it is a "knock out home run."  He says that but not as a joke.  He has said it long before he became a dad, but now all the pieces are starting to fit together.

Ok, well, he actually didn't call this dish a knock out, home run.  But that is because I ruined it.  I made this one night that Scot was working late.  I made it and ate it after baby bed time.  And THEN Scot came home and I made him one.  I always try to let Scot form his own opinion on a meal before giving him my opinion because he is a people pleaser and heavily influenced by my superb taste buds.  This time, though, I was scarfing it down when he walked in and I said something like, "OMG, this is the best thing ever."  In other words, knock out home run.

Italian Burrito
by foodforscot

1 eggplant (I used Rosa Bianca)
1 cup Israeli couscous
1 bunch kale (I used Tuscano kale), washed, de-stemmed, and torn into pieces
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and sliced
1 cup marinara
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ cup grated parmesan
olive oil
4 whole wheat burrito tortillas

Prepare all the separate burrito fillings.

First, slice the eggplant and lay out in a single layer on a kitchen towel. Sprinkle each slice with salt and let sit for 15 minutes or longer. Turn each slice over and salt the other side. Let sit for 15 minutes or longer, on the new side. Once the eggplant slices have released some water, use another kitchen towel to pat dry and wipe excess salt off.

In the meantime, combine the couscous with 2 cups of water and a dash of salt in a small saucepan. Bring to boil, remove lid, and let simmer until all the water has evaporated and couscous is tender. Remove from heat and set aside.

Dice eggplant into cubes and sauté in olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Cook for about 10 minutes, tossing occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside.

In the same pan over medium high heat, add some olive oil and the kale. Sauté for a few minutes until the kale has slightly wilted. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, until the kale reaches desired cooked down-ness.

Assemble the burrito. Warm the tortilla over a gas burner, in the microwave, or in the oven so that is pliable. Top with couscous, kale, eggplant, and roasted peppers. Sprinkle some mozzarella cheese, spoon on some marinara, and sprinkle with parmesan. Wrap it up burrito style.

(Servings: 4, Prep time: 45 hr., Cook time: 30 min., Difficulty: Easy)

Printable Version

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  10/10
Scot (taste):  9/10
Effort: 3/5
Dishwashing Effort:  3/5

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Summer Veggie Tacos

Our last two weeks of CSA (see below) have been beautiful.  So bountiful that we buy almost nothing from the grocery store.  Is this a problem?  No.  Is this amazing?  Yes.  Veggies all the time!!!

And a first....potatoes!  Potatoes are like a vegetarians guilty pleasure.  Potatoes warm my soul.  I have said that before when I have made potato soup, but it is so true.  I am sure that potatoes are one of the most like-able foods in the Universe.

But I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the new potatoes from our share.  Red potatoes or yukon gold.  Picked young and small, they are such a treat!  They have not been provided as part of our share since they are not easy to come by.  But I have picked through the bulk potatoes for sale to get all the small ones on my own.  New potatoes or fully developed, they are still so good.

I have fond memories of digging for potatoes in the summer on the farm.  Gene would run some machinery through the potato plants to loosen up the dirt.  Then we would sit on the warm, dry ground and dig to find all the potatoes.  My knees would be stained with dirt.  My fingers nails were so dirty that only a couple hours swimming in the lake would make them clean again.  It was always fun to see how much each plant produced.  Sometime you would hit the jackpot.  And then there was always the chance that you would accidentally touch the soft, mushy, quartered seed potato.

When my potatoes arrived in my share, I was inspired to make some veggie tacos with potatoes!  The earthy potato was a great substitute for a meat or bean filling.  (Protein, Shmotein)

I have made a version of these veggie tacos twice with my Week 11 and 12 produce.  The taco above is a filling roasted potato, golden beets, and zucchini topped with a slaw.  

This version is a filling of potatoes, eggplants, and corn topped with a tomato pico and queso fresco.

I have included a recipe below that is general for any root veggie filling with a variety of options for toppings.  You could also do many other toppings that I did not list like:  sour cream, other cheeses, avocado, guacamole, other salsas, etc.  

Week 11:  Oat bread, herbs, eggs, assorted tomatoes, nectarines, plums, peaches (not part of CSA), sliced tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, sungold tomatoes, salad mix, golden beets, cabbage, new potatoes, cucumbers, hot peppers, green bell peppers, sweet yellow pepper, kale, collards, sweet corn

Week 12:  apples, plums, eggs, yogurt, 20 lbs of tomatoes, maple oat bread (not part of CSA), escarole, kale, eggplant, wax beans, two heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, yellow cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, sweet corn, green peppers, yellow peppers, 5 slicing tomatoes, thai eggplant.

Summer Veggie Tacos
by foodforscot

For filling:
2-3 cups diced summer root veggies (new potatoes, golden beets, carrots, turnips, etc.)
1-2 summer veggies (zucchini, eggplant (salt, let sit, and pat dry), green peppers, yellow summer squash, etc.) or ears of corn
1 tsp of paprika
1 tsp of cumin
½ tsp of chili powder
butter/olive oil

For toppings (choose as many or as few as you’d like):
Tomato pico de gallo (recipe below)
Cabbage slaw (recipe below)
Queso fresco (or cotija)

For tacos:
12 corn tortillas
lime wedges

For filling: There are a few ways you can prepare the filling, depending on whether or not you want to turn on the oven. One option is toss the root veggies, spices, olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread out on a baking sheet. Bake at 425° for about 20 minutes. Then, add diced summer veggies to the baking sheet. Bake another 15-25 minutes or until the root veggies are tender and everything is golden. This method is easier, but hotter.

Option two is to only use the stove top and grill. For this method, you will want to blanch the root veggies. To do that, place them in a medium pot or sauce pan. Cover with water. Bring the pot to a boil and simmer until root veggies are tender. Drain and set aside. Using a cast iron fry pan, add some oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add potatoes and spices and brown (5-10 minutes, stir occasionally). All the summer veggies can be sliced, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. Grill summer veggies over medium-high heat until softened and blackened (3-5 minutes per side). Corn can be blackened directly on the grill and then cut the kernels off the cob. Once root veggies are browned, add summer veggies and cook together for a few minutes before serving. This method is more work, a little less hot, and a little tastier.

For toppings: prepare your choice of toppings. Crumble cheeses.

For tacos: On the grill or directly over a gas burner, cook the corn tortillas until soft, pliable, and slightly charred. Top with filling, your choice of toppings and serve with a lime wedge.

(Servings: 4, Prep time: 30 min., Cook time: 30 min., Difficulty: Easy)

Tomato Pico de Gallo

1 pint of cherry tomatoes, quartered
¼ of a red onion, finely chopped
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Cabbage Slaw

½ head of cabbage, finely shredded
1 green pepper, seeded and finely sliced
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 green hot pepper, seeded and finely minced
juice of 1 lime
1-2 tsp of white wine vinegar
1-2 tsp of olive oil
salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning. This tastes better if it is made several hours in advance (or up to a few days).

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste) : 7/10
Scot (taste):  7/10
Effort:  2/5
Dishwashing Effort:  2/5

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Summer Pasta Puttanesca

Scot and I celebrated our 5 year anniv. yesterday.  I got nostalgic today and started looking through old photos and at all our wedding photos.  I thought I'd write a post in honor of Scot!  I don't think I have done that yet.  

Scot is pretty cool.  If you know him, you already have your mind made up on "who Scot is".  But, no one knows the Scot, who I know.  Obvious, maybe.  But some people grew up with Scot and they might think of him as this crazy, social, friends-with-everyone Scot.  Maybe you went to college with him, and you think of him as a funny, friendly, go-with-the-flow, soccer-playing Scot.  Maybe you are related to Scot and think of him as a Goofy-loving, car-liner-upper, Vikings fan Scot.  Maybe you went to grad school with Scot and think of him as a mountain-loving, sports-playing, fluid dynamicist Scot.  We all have so many versions of ourselves.  No one necessarily knows "the real" anyone...I am not saying I know "the real" Scot.  I just know my Scot.  

My Scot changes.  He is not the same Scot I met in the math tutoring center.  Or the same Scot I went to graduate school with.  Or the same Scot I married 5 years ago.  Or the same Scot I learned to golf, ice skate, hike, climb, bike, ski, cross country ski from.  Or even the same Scot who sat with me for over 3 days as our baby decided to slowly, but surely, make his way out of my body.  I mean, not that he had something else to do.  Still, a different Scot.  

But really, how do we define and write about a person like Scot.  He isn't just a guy who loves chocolate.  He isn't just a guy who seriously reads and looks at maps for fun.  He isn't just a guy who can solve any problem regardless of the subject.  

So who is my Scot?  He is the definition of passionate.  He has no medium.  He is on or off.  Black or white.  He can only live in the present.  Rarely interested in the past or future.  He has his own timescale.  One where everything important to him gets the time it deserves.  He is adaptable, but not instantly.  His emotions are strong and encompassing.  He has never not "given it his all".  This means he loves deeply, hurts deeply, and lives fully.  People love Scot.  All types of people.  Which may be most important of all.  

He is a great partner for me.  I think I can definitely do another 5 years.  So that's good.  

When we got married, we had a wedding.  Wedding planning isn't really Scot's thing.  It is more like the opposite of his thing.  If we were to get married NOW, wowzers, would we have a different wedding than the one we had.  But the one we had was the one we had.  Not the one we WOULD have.  So, it was perfect for that.  AND IT WAS SO MUCH FUN.  During our ceremony, we promised to do a flower exchange each year on our anniv.  It is really just another thing for Scot to have to remember.  He is supposed to give me a single flower and I am supposed to put it in a vase.  Not exactly fair, but it is ok.  Here is the first five years and two non-positive years of this tradition.  

Year -1:  Engagement.  One week after we got Copper.  (Engagements are weird.)

Year 0 - At Snow Mountain Ranch, Wedding day.  

Year 1 - In Boulder, eating the ice cream we had at our wedding.  Celebrated in Denver.

Year 2 - In Boston.  Celebrated in Little Italy.

Year 3 - In Fairfield, CT.  Celebrated in NYC.

Year 4 - In Boulder, CO.  Celebrated at Flagstaff House, where we ate for our engagement.

Year 5 - In Fairfield, CT.  Celebrated at home with Pasta Puttanesca and Peach Pie.  

Each year, we have done something totally different.  You'll notice we didn't even have the vase because we weren't home two of the annivs.  This year, we ate up the day with various forms of productivity, put baby to bed, and then made dinner and dessert.  Dinner was Summer Pasta Puttanesca.  It is a tomato sauce made with 1.5 lbs of cherry or grape tomatoes.  Since I hoard those, I had plenty.  The sauce is a chunky tomato sauce with olives and capers.  The recipe calls for a short cut pasta, but if I buy pasta, I really like the fresh pasta at Whole Foods.  It only comes in linguine, so that is what I used.  A delicious summer pasta.  

For dessert, I made peach pie.  I have been thinking about peach pie for about 3 weeks.  I am pretty sure that is normal.  Scot gets mad when I make large quantities of dessert because he doesn't like to waste food and also can't not eat leftover dessert.  But I couldn't take it anymore, I needed to make peach pie.  I often do not like pies.  I don't like pie filling that is thick and jelly like.  And I think for a long time, that is the only kind of pies I knew.  Therefore, I needed to make peach pie to see if I liked peach pie.  Everyone else does!

Turns out, I like peach pie.  My compromise was that I found and purchased a 6 inch pie pan.  And I made a mini pie.  The pic below has a mini pie, a paring knife (mini), and a pint of ice cream (mini).  Once a year, I do make a pie.  In the late summer, early fall, I usually make an apple pie.  Warm apple pie with ice cream is definitely in my top 3 favorite desserts.  But I have always made my crust with all butter.  I can't do shortening.  I can't.  Except I did here.  I was curious.  The universal opinion on pie crusts is that half butter/half shortening gives the best flakey texture with all the buttery flavor.  I had to try it.  It is true.  The shortening contributes a much better texture than an all butter crust.

To make a six inch pie, you will need to halve the recipe for a regular 8 or 9 inch pie crust.  For the filling, you will need 2/3 times a regular pie filling.  For my pie, I used Cook's Illustrated pie crust (half of a recipe similar to this, but the one they published in the most recent mag is a little different...).  And Smitten Kitchen's peach pie filling (2/3rds this recipe).  Cook's Illustrated filling was too high maintenance and Smitten's crust was all butter.  Also, a lattice crust seems to be the crust of choice for peach pies, but I assembled this in the 10 minutes I had after I finished dinner, while Scot served up and set the table.  

Summer Pasta Puttanesca
from Cook’s Illustrated

tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
garlic cloves, minced
tablespoon anchovy paste
teaspoon red pepper flakes
teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 
pounds grape or cherry tomatoes
pound campanelle
cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped coarse
tablespoons capers, rinsed and minced
cup minced fresh parsley

Combine oil, garlic, anchovy paste, pepper flakes, and oregano in bowl. Process tomatoes in blender until finely chopped but not pureed, 15 to 45 seconds. Transfer to fine-mesh strainer set in large bowl and let drain for 5 minutes, occasionally pressing gently on solids with rubber spatula to extract liquid (this should yield about 3/4 cup). Reserve tomato liquid in bowl and tomato pulp in strainer.

Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add campanelle and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain campanelle and return it to pot.

While campanelle is cooking, cook garlic-anchovy mixture in 12-inch skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until garlic is fragrant but not brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomato liquid and simmer until reduced to 1/3 cup, 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomato pulp, olives, and capers; cook until just heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in parsley.

Pour sauce over campanelle and toss to combine, adding reserved cooking water as needed to adjust consistency. Season with salt to taste. Serve immediately.

(Servings: 4, Prep time: 20 min., Cook time: 30 min., Difficulty: Easy) 

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  8/10
Scot (taste):  8/10
Effort:  3/5
Dishwashing Effort:  4/5

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Camping Menu and Meal Ideas

We went camping last week.  We camped at Saranac Lake, NY.  It was peaceful, quiet, and all around relaxing.  Where we live is extremely loud but I never realize until we leave (which hasn't been often lately).  The campsites are accessed by boat only, so we motor boated all of our stuff to our site.  In the above photo, we are all taking a trip to see other parts of the lake.

I wanted to share our camping menu.  I am always looking for good camping recipes.  This trip, we had the luxury of a cooler and basically unlimited space since we didn't have to carry anything.  So here are some ideas for car camping, dump camping, or even boat camping!

I apologize in advance, I did not do a good job photographing the meals.  I don't have photos of everything, but I will provide a menu below with all the details.  Also, the meals are all vegetarian and gluten free.  Vegetarian camping meals are not easy to come by on the internet.  Looking for vegetarian camping recipes?  Look here!  Keyword search.

One dinner was what I called "Camping Nachos", picture above.  It was tortilla chips topped with a warm bean, corn, and red pepper mixture and melted cheese.  Then we added on salsa, sour cream, cilantro, and an avocado at the table.  Super good!  A take on the "walking taco".

Our breakfasts included:  breakfast tacos, blueberry and banana pancakes, and the last morning was going to be oatmeal but we had to leave early that morning to catch a flight, so we never made the oatmeals.  The pancakes were vegan and gluten free, which was convenient for camping since we didn't have to worry about things spoiling.

The last night we had a succotash over quinoa and tomato, cucumber salad.  Not that this horrible photo does much convincing, it was delicious.

One of the tasty lunch items we had was Texas Caviar with tortilla chips (Texas Caviar is pictures above in the plastic container).  My friend made it in advance it was a perfect, easy camping snack, lunch item.

Everything else is listed below with links to recipes when appropriate.  Also, most of the ingredients are in season right now, which made everything extra delicious!


Day 1
Dinner - Camping Nachos (recipe below)

Day 2
Breakfast - Breakfast Tacos - scrambled eggs wrapped in a tortilla topped with salsa, queso fresco, cilantro, and avocado.
Lunch - herbed goat cheese and crackers, fruit, and nuts.
Dinner - Potato Boats - pre-baked potatoes, mixed with veggies and cheese, and cooked in a foil packet on the fire.
              - Corn on the cob with compound butter (salted butter, cilantro, lime, garlic, chipotles in adobo)

Day 3
Breakfast - Blueberry and Banana Pancakes (added 1/4 cup of veg. oil to this recipe)
Lunch - Texas Caviar (prepared in advance) and Chips, leftover
Dinner - Succotash over Quinoa (recipe below) and Cucumber Tomato Salad

Day 4
Breakfast - oatmeal

For our full Camping Menu and instructions:  click here.

Camping Nachos
by foodforscot

1 medium onion, chopped
1 can of pinto beans
2 cans of black beans
2 T of pureed chipotles in adobo
2 ears of corn, shucked
2 red peppers
1 lb of Monterey jack cheese, shredded
1 bunch of cilantro
1 container of salsa
3 avocados
1 small container of sour cream
salt and pepper

In a large pot or cast iron sauté pan over medium heat, sauté the onion in some olive oil. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the beans and chipotles in adobo. Cook until warmed through. Over the fire, using long tongs or some other device, char the corn and red peppers to get some smoky blackened flavor. Once charred, cut kernels off the cob and roughly chop the peppers. Add to the beans. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. (If you are lazy, skip the charring step.)

On a large cast iron skillet, lay out some chips. Top with bean mixture and sprinkle with cheese. Put on hot coals until cheese is melted. Repeat in batches until all bean mixture is used up.

Serve nachos on plates with fresh cilantro, salsa, half of an avocado, and sour cream.

(Servings: 6, Prep time: 30 min., Cook time: 1 hr., Difficulty: Easy)

Printable Version

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  7/10
Scot (taste):  8/10
Effort:  3/5
Dishwashing Effort:  3/5

Succotash Over Quinoa
by foodforscot

1 T olive oil
2 T butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 small eggplant, chopped
1 lb frozen lima beans
4 ears of corn, shucked and de-kernelled
thyme, minced
¼ cup sour cream
parsley, minced
1 cup quinoa, cooked

In a large pot, sauté onion in a combination of 2 T butter and 1 T olive oil. Cook for 5 minutes. Add zucchini and eggplant, cook until softened. Add frozen lima beans and corn and cook until warmed through. Season with salt, pepper, a chopped thyme. Cook for 5 minutes. Add sour cream and parsley, cook for 5 minutes. Serve over quinoa.

(Servings: 6, Prep time: 10 min., Cook time: 30 min., Difficulty: Easy)

Printable Version

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  9/10
Scot (taste):  8/10
Effort:  2/5
Dishwashing Effort:  2/5

Found my Week 9 CSA photo:

Week 9 : Golden plums, blueberries, blackberries, green beans (none are part of CSA), garlic, kale, escarole, tomatoes (!), salad greens, eggplant (Asian and Rosa Bianca), cucumber, sweet peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, hot peppers.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Warm Grilled Eggplant Salad

Week 10 - Herbs (basil, chives), peaches, white plums, assorted cherry tomatoes, yellow tomato,  (none of that is part of our CSA), 4 tomatoes!, red potatoes, salad greens, Rosa Bianca eggplant, Asian eggplant, green peppers, hot peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, cucumbers, dandelion greens, corn, Swiss chard.
I lost my week 9 photo.  But it was good stuff.  Similar to week 10.  We are there.  The peak of summer produce.  The pinnacle of all that is good.  We are FEASTING!!!

Can you believe this?  Four of these babies came with our CSA.  I bought the rest.  I did an ok job controlling myself.  We had another 5 or 6 from our garden that we ate this week.  Plus several handfuls of cherry tomatoes to supplement.  I thought I might save some of our tomatoes for winter in some form, but I am not at a point yet where I feel overwhelmed by tomatoes.  I feel happy about tomatoes.  I want more!  

This salad was so delicious.  It is very simple.  Some grilled veggies, tossed with some salad greens and a lemon, herb vinaigrette.  I wanted to pair it with something with a bright flavor, acidic flavor, but I also thought something cheesy would be good.  I made some stuffed tomatoes.  Mine where just stuffed with goat cheese, a little panko bread crumbs, parm, basil, and chives.  I cut a very small hole in the top of each tomato (and then ate the hole), then stuffed the cheese filling in.  I baked for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees.  Might be better to just throw them on the grill to avoid the oven.  It has been cold and rainy here so it wasn't a big deal for us.  

We are equally obsessed with eggplant as we are with tomatoes.  Our eggplants in our garden are doing well.  We will probably have at least ten.  We have been getting three or so in our CSA each week.  So good.  These Rosa Bianca globe shaped eggplants are amazing.  Maybe I will make some Baba Ganoush to freeze for Birk once he is ready to explore non-milk calories.  I very much appreciate the milk-only diet.  Meal prep is pretty easy.  Wish we could ride out that phase a little longer.  

Warm Grilled Eggplant Salad
by foodforscot

1 eggplant (I used Rosa Bianca)
1 summer squash
1 green pepper
1 big bag of salad greens
quarter of a medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 handful of basil, rolled and thinly sliced
10 chives, minced
½ tsp of Dijon mustard
1 lemon, juice
1 tsp of red wine vinegar
olive oil

Slice the eggplant to make 1/4th of an inch thick rounds. Place in a colander (or lay out on a kitchen towel) and sprinkle generously with salt. Mix (or turn) to evenly coat the eggplant with the salt. Let sit for at least 30 minute (up to an hour or so) to release the water out of the eggplant.

Prepare the dressing: In a medium bowl, combine basil, chives, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. While whisking, slowly add in olive oil. Add more salt, pepper, and oil, to taste. Set aside.

Preheat grill to medium high.

Slice the summer squash and quarter (and core and seed) the green pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Once eggplant is done, pat dry with a kitchen towel. Season with pepper. Drizzle olive oil over everything.

Right before grilling, turn off the flame, brush the grill with olive oil. Turn the flame back on. Grill eggplant, squash, and green peppers until soft with nice grill marks. Remove from grill and chop into bite sized pieces.

In a large bowl, toss together salad greens, red onions, grilled veggies, and lemon/herb dressing. Salad is best served warm and immediately.

(Servings: 3, Prep time: 30 min., Cook time: 30 min., Difficulty: Easy)

Printable Version

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  8/10
Scot (taste):  8/10
Effort:  2/5
Dishwashing Effort:  2/5