Friday, April 18, 2008

More on the Kid-Friendly Front

I wanted to do a follow-up on a post I published a month or so ago. The topic was on kid-friendly or family-friendly restaurants that were nicer restaurants. Since that I post, I have been on the lookout for other restaurants that would fit this description and I found another one!

Cap City Diner, with 2 locations in Columbus, Ohio, is a Cameron Mitchell owned restaurant that takes your normal diner cuisine and makes it a lot better. A couple of our favorite items are their meatloaf, the pork chops are amazing, and my husband really likes the grilled cheese sandwich which has a friend egg on it. Anyway, we went there for dinner a few nights ago with my 1 year old (ok, he's 1 on the 21). I looked over the children's menu briefly to check out the offerings when something at the top caught my eye. There was a spot on the menu that said "Complimentary Baby Food Available". I asked the server about this, wondering if Cap City takes the time to make baby food or what. Turns out they have Gerber baby food that is available for free upon request. They had a nice selection of fruits and vegetables too. I was surprised that they had any, let alone 5 or 6 types to choose from! We ordered some for my son since he still only has 2 teeth, though 4 new ones are well on their way.

I think it is awesome and noteworthy that Cap City Diner has taken the time to consider their customers with small babies! Bravo! We will definitely be back!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Making Baby Food 101

My son is 11 months old and still only has a couple of teeth so we still feed him quite a bit of baby food. I have noticed that baby food can often tack on a lot of money at the grocery store. I have made some of my own baby food before and it is very easy. We go through a lot of applesauce because we mix it into my son's cereal so that he will eat it better. It is really simple to make applesauce for babies and really this same technique can be applied to a whole host of other fruits and vegetables. I have the book So Easy Baby Food, by Joan Ahlers and Cheryl Tallman which I use as a guide and is a great book to get you started.

First I quartered and peeled 4 Red Delicious apples. Put them in a microwave safe dish with about 1/4 cup or so of water, cover with plastic wrap and microwave. I microwaved these apples for 4 minutes total, checking them in between for doneness. You want to be able to easily pierce them with a fork. I let them cool under the plastic wrap for just a couple of minutes.

Put the apple slices in a food processor with some of the cooking water. Puree until smooth. You dont want to add all the cooking liquid at one time, start with a little and slowly add it until you get the right consistency. Also, dont forget to vent the food processor to allow steam to escape.

Once you puree the apples to the consistency you want, spoon it into ice cube trays and let cool. Cover the ice cube trays and freeze overnight. The next day you can pop them out of the trays and freeze in a large ziplock bag. This is so handy! You can defrost just as many cubes as you need! Four Red Delicious apples made about 20 ounces of applesauce. You can use different apples, but I like the red delicious because they are sweet. I made applesauce for my son using Golden Delicious apples and he did not like them as well. They are a little more tart.

I did some math to see if making my own applesauce would save me any money at the grocery. I found that I broke out about even, however, I made this batch in the springtime when apples are not in season. I could probably find better prices on apples in the fall time. If you made baby food from fruits and vegetables that are in season, you made find yourself saving some money making it instead of buying it. There are other benefits, however, besides just monetary benefits. If you make your own you know exactly what is in there. You are able to pick the freshest produce for your baby's food. When you buy baby food, you assume the manufacturer is using the highest quality, freshest ingredients, but you dont really know. When you make it yourself, you know. Other great benefit is that you can make combinations of fruits and vegetables that you may not be able to buy, for example, my next batch of baby food is going to be zucchini and yellow squash with a dash of dried basil. Another great benefit comes if you are able to buy certified organic produce or even produce from farmer's markets. In doing this you are able to reduce the amount of herbicides, pesticides, and other chemicals that may be in baby food (because it was used in the produce they are using). Lastly, it is a lot of fun! You can be creative and cater the food to your baby's taste and diet!

I hope you try making you baby's food and have fun in the process!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Fish Pockets

A couple of nights ago I made Giada de Laurentis's Italian Fish Pocket recipe. This recipe is available on the Food Network website. I thought this was a great recipe! The vegetables and fish are all cooked together wrapped in an aluminum foil pocket. This was a terrific recipe! The vegetables were done nicely and the trout had a wonderful flavor to it! The recipe calls for sugar snap peas which I substituted with snow peas instead because my husband prefers snow peas. The snow peas got a little over done, so I think the sugar snap peas may have worked better in this case. This type of recipe is a great solution for a busy parent! Everything is assembled in the foil and then wrapped up and baked. It is quick, easy and even quicker to clean up after dinner! I am planning on searching for more of these types of recipes and may even experiment on some of my own! This one is definitely a must try!