Thursday, December 4, 2008

Love for Babies to Eat

My food blog has definitely suffered the most in the midst of our move, hasn't it?

This morning, I answered an email from a friend asking about "baby food recipes," and decided to share my response here.  I hope it's helpful.

Before I answer your question about baby food recipes, I can't help but throw in my $.02.  Please know that it's not given in judgment of others' choices; it's just my take on the issue from my experience with our seven Blessings.  

Our "goal" with each of our babies was to exclusively breastfeed them until they started popping teeth.  :-)  From what we understand, the body actually starts producing the enzymes that are needed to break down food at about the time that teeth come through.  What a wise Creator we have!  Now, for various reasons, we did not achieve this "goal" with most of our children, so I am totally understanding of when this doesn't work out.  I just wanted to throw it out there for consideration.  Sometimes it works great - Stephen was about 23 pounds when he broke through his first tooth at seven and a half months, and was completely Mama-fed until that point.  Ellie, on the other hand, stopped nursing when she was around 5 months, and we really struggled with her nutrition for quite a while.  So I try to make it my practice not to be judgmental about feeding babies - you never know what another family is dealing with!

That said, whenever solids are started, I have found it works best to start with simple veggies.  No disrespect to those who prefer fruits first; I've just found that it's helpful to give them a taste for veggies early on.  I try to hold off on the grains/cereals until later as they're harder to break down, and usually do rice and oats well before wheat.

So... baby food recipes.

Butternut squash is one of my favorites (both for me and for babies!).  It's so easy - all you do is cut the squash in half from top to bottom, scoop out the seeds, lay the halves face down on a cookie sheet/baking sheet, pour a bit of water in the pan, and bake it at 350' until fork tender (in the top part, not the space where the seeds were - that cooks much faster).  After it's cooked, and cooled a bit, you scoop out the flesh.  Depending on the baby's needs, you can either smash it with a fork/potato masher, or you can puree it in the blender or food processor.  I like to plop it in baby-sized piles on a cookie sheet, freeze, then pop off the frozen blobs and store them in freezer bags. 

Sweet potatoes are another favorite - just bake them, scoop out the flesh, process at needed.  As sweet potatoes are smaller, you can choose whether you want to bake a large enough batch to necessitate freezing.  As they get older, you can just take the cooked potato out of the fridge, slice off a chunk, and spoon bites off.

Avocados are wonderful baby food, but some babies don't like them.  If your baby does like them, they're a terrific simple source of good nutrition.  A ripe avocado needs very little processing - a spin in the blender or food processor for younger babies, mashing with a fork or simple dicing for older ones.

Spinach is great for babies, but it has a very strong flavor and might need to be mixed with something else for some babies to take it.  Just steam/cook in a bit of water and puree.

When it comes to fruit, bananas are a favorite - they're portable and easily smashed with a fork into a pureed form.  Apples can be cooked in a little bit of water and then pureed, as can pears and other similar fruits.

As you can see, I don't really have "recipes."  If I can puree it (or smash it for older babies) and it's a simple food that will be easy to digest, I'll turn it into baby food! 

Any additional ideas?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Love you can Drink!

Ginger root is a terrific help for getting things moving in the lymphatic system.  Here is a web page that explains how the lymphatic system works.  This system is extremely important in your body's work of fighting "yuck."  

As the weather gets cooler, I tend to start thinking more about fighting "yuck," so today I bring you some help for your lymphatic system!  This tea is great either hot or cold.  In cool weather I like to warm it up, in the summer it's very refreshing cold.

So, especially if you feel some congestion or cold symptoms coming on, consider picking up some ginger root and green tea and helping yourself feel better.  Many thanks to Dr. Mary Unger-Boyd, our fabulous chiropractor, for the recipe.

Ginger/Green Tea (OOSH Juice)
Boil 1 gallon water and 1/2 pound sliced ginger root.  Boil lightly for 5 minutes and turn OFF heat.  Add 2-6 organic green tea bags and allow to steep for 30 minutes before removing.  Allow ginger to steep for an additional 1-6 hours before removing.  Store in refrigerator.

Sweeten with honey if you like.  Kids like it mixed with juice.

Ginger Bath
For additional assistance for your lymph system as it gets rid of yuck, try taking a ginger bath.  Take a cup of the brewed tea and toss in it a nice hot bath.  Soak for a half hour or so.  Or, if you don't have the brewed tea handy, you can steep a 1/4 t of ground ginger in a cup of hot water for about 10 minutes then add that to the bath.  Be careful, as ginger can make you quite hot... if it seems like too much, dilute!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Easy Enchiladas

I learned how to make enchiladas from Mrs. T., mother of one of my dearest school friends. Her enchiladas are amazing. I don't make them very often because they are pretty time and work intensive. But I had never eaten enchiladas that were as yummy, so I figured it was worth the work when I could manage it.

And then, a couple weeks ago, I had a breakthrough. Let me tell you...

We got home from some appointments and it was already close to suppertime, so I needed something quick. I had a couple pounds of ground beef that I had cooked with some chopped onion the day before. I had a large can of refried beans, and some leftover black beans. I had grated cheese, tortillas, and sour cream. So I figured we'd have burritos, which we usually put together at the table. Then I thought that it might be easier if I put them together first and maybe warmed them up in the oven (so they wouldn't fall apart).

One thing led to another, and soon I was pouring some canned enchilada sauce in the bottom of a pan to keep it from sticking. I wound up pouring some more sauce over the top, and adding a layer of cheese.

Lo and behold, what emerged from the oven 20-30 minutes later were enchiladas! And while I would never think of saying that my easy enchiladas are as good as Mrs. T's, my husband is not so timid, and he gave them his full stamp of approval.

So here is my new Easy Enchilada recipe! This is for 20 enchiladas. If that's way too much for your gang, freeze the extras. Or you could easily cut the recipe in half.

A couple pounds of ground beef
One chopped onion (pick the size based on how much onion flavor your family like)
*Brown together over medium-high heat, drain grease

*Add and heat thoroughly:
1 large can refried beans (the moisture from the refried beans, whether homemade or canned, helps make up for the fact that you're not dunking each tortilla in enchilada sauce.
1 can black beans
1 packet Taco Seasoning mix (or the equivalent of your own mix of spices - I'll admit, I cheated this time and used the mix)

*Slosh a layer of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a couple of pans. (Since I originally wrote this post, I've taken to using half enchilada sauce and half tomato sauce or pureed tomatoes.)

*Take 20 8" tortillas, fill them each with:
Your best guess at 1/20th of the meat and bean filling
A generous sprinkle of grated cheddar cheese
(Those of you who like exact measurements are hating this!)

*Roll up the filled tortillas as you go and place them in the sauce-sloshed pans. They serve better if you place the edge side down.

*Slosh some more enchilada sauce over the top, then add a layer of cheese. The following picture is of a double recipe (40 enchiladas):

Bake at 350' for 20-30 minutes, or until the cheese and sauce are bubbly and the whole thing is starting to brown a bit. When I eventually took pictures of some of the enchilada-making process, I neglected to get a shot of the finished product. But, rest assured, folks like them well enough that they don't even know you're taking pictures of them eating!

Top with sour cream, serve with salad and applesauce (or whatever paints your wagon).

Updated with pictures on Jan 15, 2009

Friday, September 19, 2008

Big Batch Pancakes

We love pancakes around our house, and this is the recipe we've adjusted until it's big enough for our family of 9 (with a bit left over).  So if you ever need to make a big batch of pancakes, here you go!

Big Batch Pancakes
Stir dry ingredients in bowl:
4 cups flour (I usually use half wheat and half white unbleached)
4 T sugar
2T + 2t baking powder
1 t salt

Blend together, then add to the dry ingredients:
4 eggs
4 1/2 - 5 1/2 c of milk (depending on how thick or thin you like your pancakes)
1/2 c melted butter

Mix with whisk to remove big lumps, then cook on 350' griddle. 

Monday, September 1, 2008

Oh, the Wonder!

Last week, I was thrilled to pieces when we found butternut squash at the grocery store. I have come to adore butternut squash, and I was like a little kid in my excitement. It was 90 degrees today, but I thoroughly enjoyed our squash at supper... the taste that signals the coming of autumn and lots of other lusciousness.

Find some butternut squash and fix it like P-Dub. It is glorious!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Beka Bread (aka Honey-Wheat-Oatmeal Bread)

This is my beloved sis-in-law's wonderful bread recipe. It is the yummiest bread ever!

Beka Bread (aka Honey-Wheat-Oatmeal Bread) - makes 4 loaves

Combine and cool to lukewarm -
3 c boiling water
2 c old fashioned oatmeal

Combine and test -
1 c warm water
2T yeast

Add to oats once lukewarm -
1 c honey
2 T oil
1 T salt
4 egg whites

~ combine all and add 4 cups flour (half wheat/half white)
~ "sponge" 15 minutes
~ add 1 cup of flour at a time (alternate wheat and white) -- about 5 cups
~ knead (about 5-8 minutes)
~ let rise 1 hr (double); make loaves; rise again
~ bake @ 350' for 25-30 minutes

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Chicken Pot Pie

Sorry about not having any pictures in this post. See above for the finished product.

This is probably one of my yummiest concoctions. It's the result of years of playing with various recipes (one of my favorite pastimes) until I've actually settled into a recipe that can actually be passed to others.

Laurel's Chicken Pot Pie - makes two pies, or one large pan, as in the picture above.

Pot Pie Filling
4-6 split chicken breasts, depending on your taste/budget
1/2 c butter
Medium Onion
Milk (optional)
2/3 c flour
1 t salt
1 t pepper
1-2 pounds frozen vegetables (I usually use corn and peas or mixed veggies)

Start by boiling the split chicken breasts in enough water to just cover them. Once they're cooked and have cooled enough to bone, clean those bones and cut or pull the meat into bite-sized pieces. Set aside the chicken meat.

If you want to use some milk in your pot pie (and I strongly suggest you do, unless you have allergies!) take 3 cups or so of broth from boiling the chicken. Add however much milk you need to make 5 cups. The proportions here are very fluid... use all broth if you want, add water if you want, or do it my way. Just be sure you have 5 cups of wet stuff ready to go.

Get a small bowl and measure 2/3 c of flour into it. Add 1 t salt and 1 t pepper. Set aside.
Chop the onion into a small dice. You guessed it! Set it aside also.

Now melt the 1/2 c butter in a medium stock pot. Add the onion and saute until slightly translucent.
Add the flour mixture and stir while cooking for one minute.
Slowly add in the 5 cups of liquid, whisking if needed. Then cook, stirring constantly, until the gravy starts to boil and thicken. Boil for about a minute, still stirring.

Turn off the heat and stir in your vegetables.
Then cover the filling, preheat the oven to 350' and prepare your pastry.

Double Pie Crust - make twice
Mix together:
2 2/3 c All-purpose flour
1 t salt
Cut in with pastry cutter:
1 c butter
Sprinkle in 7-8 T cold water (1T at a time) while fluffing with fork.
(You're looking for the pastry to start clearing the sides of the bowl)
Divide into two balls. Roll out one ball for bottom crust, fill pie, then roll out the other ball of dough for the top.

Finish edges and slit crust as you wish.

Place pies on a cookie sheet and bake for 30-45 minutes, until crust is golden. For a “crust guard,” I cut a nice big piece of tin foil, cover the pie, and cut out the middle. I take off the guard when I think there's about 15 minutes of bake time remaining.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Black Bean Salsa!

This recipe has become a favorite of the extended Byrd and Smith family. It came to us in a wonderful cookbook Beka discovered when she and Eric lived in Kentucky. She loved it so much she bought copies for Mama and I - thank you, Beka Honey!

Here's the darling cookbook:

The Black Bean Salsa is my favorite recipe from this book, and has become even more of a favorite as I am focusing on eating fruits and veggies, particularly raw fruits and veggies. I'm sharing an adapted form of the salsa that we have come to love.

So, here's what you need -

2 cans of black beans, rinsed and drained.
1 canful of frozen corn
2 large tomatoes
A purple onion
Lime Juice
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
2-3 avacados (if they're small, go with 3)

If at all possible, chop and combine everything except the avacado the day before you plan to serve the salsa. Amazing things happen in the refridgerator at night.

Open two cans of black beans and dump them in a strainer in the sink, followed by a canful of frozen corn. The corn will thaw nicely while you rinse the beans. If yours doesn't look quite like this, that's okay. I used two canfuls of corn... for some reason. It was still fabulous.

Next, chop the tomatoes. If you can see the recipe, it says "seeded and chopped." What you can't see is where it says in my mind-writing (that's as opposed to handwriting), "Yeah... right... seeded!"

Toss the tomatoes in a large bowl.

Next, take a gorgeous purple onion, chop it up, and toss it in the bowl as well. If you dread chopping onions, refer to Pioneer Woman here.

Then comes one of the stars of our show - the cilantro. Yumm!

Unfortunately, as a fledging food photographer, I could not capture the beauty of my cilantro in a picture. But roughly chop some cilantro. The original recipe calls for 1/8 cup. I used 1/3 of a cup this last time I made salsa, and it was lovely. Go with what works for you, and throw it in the bowl.

Next comes the lime juice, another ingredient that really makes the recipe. Use 1/4 cup.
Then mix in 2 T olive oil, 1 t salt, and 1/2 t black pepper.

If you've planned ahead and it's the day before you're going to eat the salsa, cover it and pop it in the fridge now.

If you haven't planned ahead, or you just can't stand to wait, go ahead and chop up the avacadoes. I find it easiest to cut them from top to bottom, pop out the seed, scoop out the flesh (it should all come out in one piece if you scoop it out with a spoon), and then chop away (big chunks!). Again, my beginner food photography skills leave us without a demonstration.

Mix up the avacado with the rest of the salsa, and enjoy!

Here's a recap of the recipe for your copying and pasting pleasure -

Black Bean Salsa
2 cans of black beans, rinsed and drained.
1 canful of frozen corn
2 large tomatoes - chopped
A purple onion - chopped
1/3 cup Cilantro - chopped
1/4 cup Lime Juice
2T Olive Oil
1t Salt
1/2 t Pepper
2-3 avacados (if they're small, go with 3)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Greetings and Salutations

(also known as the introductory post)

So, what is the Love You Can Eat blog about, anyway?


Home cooked (or not cooked) food whose highest calling is to communicate to its eaters that I love them. There are all sorts of other "callings" for food, but being edible love is the highest and best, in my opinion.

A background story:
One of my family's favorite foods as I grew up was Mama's buttermilk biscuits. The steam of a freshly opened biscuit... the flakey inside... the melted butter... and Mama's fingerprints on each and every biscuit.
I used to roll out my biscuit dough with a rolling pin. But a while back I started thinking more and more about Mama's fingerprints on biscuits, and I put my rolling pin away. Because I realized that every ridge and valley on the tops of the biscuits of my childhood said "I love you." And I realized that food is more than food. Food can be a whisper (or a shout) that communicates love. And I want to use my cooking to tell my husband and children (and whoever joins us at our table) that I love them.

Here begins my food blog -
Tangible, edible, scrumptous, embracing... love you can eat.

I hope you enjoy it, and find some recipes and ideas you can use to tell your family and friends that you love them.