Happy Anniversary to my Fabulous Husband!!
Happy Anniversary to my Fabulous Husband!!
When creating gourmet baby food for a toddler who is a Foodie, you must always keep in mind flavours, and flavour combinations. You must always be willing to step outside the box to create new delicious dishes, even if you aren’t completely sure how it will be received. You must be willing to create a tasty “opportunity” for your your baby or toddler… Because you just might be surprised at the response! 😉
Introducing… Vegetables with Pesto! 🙂
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-love heat. Add finely chopped onion and thinly sliced leeks. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion softens. Add thinly sliced celery, thinly sliced carrots, and finely chopped garlic. Cook covered for an additional 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add water, diced potato, finely diced parsnip, diced turnip, and green beans cut into small pieces. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, covered for 5 minutes.
Add fresh or frozen peas, sliced zucchini, and cannellini beans, and season with pepper. Cover again and simmer for about 25 minutes until all the vegetables are tender.
Meanwhile, make the pesto by putting finely chopped garlic, fresh basil leaves, and grated Parmesan cheese in a food processor. Add extra virgin olive oil and process until smooth. Scrape down the sides as necessary.
Add fresh spinach leaves, cut into thin ribbons, into with vegetables and simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Stir in the pesto.
This dish is meant to be chunky, but I like to put some in the blender and chop, then add it back to the vegetable mixture. It creates a nice combination of chunky and creamy textures.
I decided to create a new gourmet baby food creation, and this time is was…. Chicken & Rice.
Okay okay… I know what you’re thinking..”How is that new?” Well, it’s new because I have never created this recipe before. 😉
I put chicken stock in a large saucepan and added thinly sliced carrots, diced celery, and thinly sliced leek. I brought it to a boil, reduced the heat to low, and let simmer gently , partially covered, for 10 minutes.
I then stirred in defrosted petit pois, rice, and sliced cooked chicken. I continued cooking for an additional 10-15 minutes, until the vegetables were tender.
I added chopped fresh tarragon and parsley, then tasted to check the seasoning. I added ground pepper as needed.
What is better for a toddler birthday cake than one inspired by Bunnies and Disney?
Well, that was what I was tasked with the other day: To create a magical Disney Bunny cake!
My first idea was to create all the characters for the cake out of marzipan or fondant, until it was said to me that the toddler may want to play with those decorations. So instead I switched my plan to include toys. And I mean, actual toys! No cheap (yet strangely expensive) cake toppers that aren’t safe to play with, but real toys. Toys.. that I found at the Disney store. 🙂
I ended up buying these super cute Bambi set figurines, with not only one bunny (Thumper), but two bunnies.
I then set out planning the rest of the cake. What do bunnies eat? Carrots, of course. So a Carrot Cake with light Cream Cheese Frosting it is!
Next on the list? A fondant tree, with leaves and flowers. I decided I wanted more dimension to the look of the tree. So many times colour worked into fondant looks flat in my opinion, so instead I hand painted the leaves and flowers for, on and around the tree (on the top of the cake). I wanted a watercolour look to them.
I did create additional flowers, leaves, and a mushroom for the figurines by the base of the cake. I felt they were more like secondary characters, and so the leaves and flowers would be more subtle. This is where I mixed the colour directly into the fondant to not distract too much from the top focal point of the cake, but to still balance alongside what was going on top of the cake.
For Valentine’s Day, I made macarons… but not just any traditional macarons, I decided to get creative. And boy did they turn out delicious!!
I made Strawberry Macaron cookie shells, but with two different fillings.
The first filling was a White Chocolate Lemon Ganache. The tart flavour of the fresh lemon with the sweet of the white chocolate makes a perfect pairing, with neither overpowering the other And then combined with the strawberry cookie shells, and you couldn’t ask for a better combination! 🙂
The second filling I made was a Basil Buttercream. Yum! The buttercream tastes amazing because I used fresh basil leaves which I infused. But it’s not a savory filling per se, rather a sweet buttercream with herbal notes. And basil is a perfect pairing with the sweetness of berries, and in this case, strawberry cookie shells. 🙂
On my quest for new flavours, I wanted something interesting… something unique… something that would awaken the senses. And so, I present Creamy Carrot & Parsnip Soup.
Now for the twist… I made it as a Gourmet Baby Food! 😉
First I melted butter I a large pot over low heat. I added chopped onion and cooked, stirring, for 3 minutes until the onions were slightly softened. Then I added chopped carrots and chopped parsnips. I covered the pot and cooked, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables softened a little. I stirred in grated ginger, grated orange zest, and vegetable stock. I brought it to a boil, then reduced the heat, covered the pot, and let simmer for 30-35 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. I then removed the soup from the heat and let it cool for about 10 minutes.
I transferred the soup to a blender (or food processor) and processed until smooth. If you are making soup for yourself and not as gourmet baby food, you will want the soup very smooth. If you are making it as gourmet baby food, you can process it very smooth or leave slightly chunky I chose to leave mine slightly chunky.
If you are making gourmet baby food, season with a bit of pepper and you are done! 🙂
If you are making soup for yourself, return the soup to the rinsed out pot, stir in light cream, and season with salt and pepper. Warm through gently over low heat.
Remove from the heat and ladle into soup bowls. Garnish each bowl with ground pepper and a sprig of cilantro. Serve. Yum! 🙂