Baby Food: Banana Pancakes

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I mentioned in my New Year’s post that I wanted to be more meaningful with my writing and honestly, I have no idea what I mean by that, I just know I want things to be different around here. I want to shed some of this armor of upbeat nonchalance that I’ve built and it’s proving to be incredibly difficult. It’s comfortable for me to keep things light, and I think this blog will still be a casual, easy place, but I’m going to try to share a little bit more here and there. Baby steps.

I’m going to try to start sharing a little more about Casper in this space. What I’m feeding him, what life has been like, and things like that. Because, really, I’ve been hesitant to mention him too much. For fear that I’ll be deemed a “mommy-blogger”, as if that’s somehow a terrible thing to be. It’s not and I AM a mom and a blogger, and I feel like I should share some of that here. Casper is currently the center of my universe, he sets the rhythm of my days and I am so incredibly thankful that he’s here and he’s mine. I feel silly even writing that because, really, the words just escape me. The road to motherhood was a little rough for me. There were really dark days, a lot of disappointment, crushing fear and doubt. I kept all my feels pretty close–of course Sean had a front row seat to my emotion showdown and a few close friends, too–but, my 28th and 29th years were just a mess of trying to keep my head up while grappling with fertility issues. There were times that I felt totally lost, without purpose, and I really questioned myself. I know that’s a controversial thing to say these days when we are leaning in–that motherhood gave me purpose–but it did and it is honestly what I have always wanted. I may talk about this in more depth sometime–someday when I can gather my thoughts on Casper’s birth and my pregnancy  and everything that led up to it without it being a billion words long. But, in short, it was at once more difficult and more easy than a lot of people have it–and, seriously, I feel so lucky.

Whew, that felt heavy and weird. So, let’s get comfortable and get our carb on, baby style.

Casper has been eating solids for a few months now. He’s crawling around the house like a madman, can climb the stairs, pulls himself up and uses our dining chairs as walkers now. Needless to say, he’s a busy boy and is totally working up an appetite. At first food was mostly an exploratory thing, introducing him to something else besides breast milk and just kind of letting him taste and touch. We’ve done a mix of soft foods he can pick up and purees. We only recently began to introduce some dairy into his diet in the forms of yogurt and cheese, but we still aren’t giving him milk yet. Since dairy and eggs can be a problem for a lot of babies, I made these pancakes free of both. At nearly 8 months old he eats a variety of foods now and pancakes are one of his absolute favorites. He loves to feed himself–he always tries to grab the spoon when I feed him purees–and these pancakes are perfect for little hands and don’t make a huge mess. I usually tear these up into small (pea-sized) pieces, but he handles whole pancakes really well lately. I like to freeze these on a sheet pan and pop them into a freezer bag once frozen. A frozen pancake is perfect for soothing sore gums when teething. He gets a little snack, plus a bit of relief from the teething pain.*

*There are a lot of ways to feed your baby, we did a mash-up of baby led weaning ideas and purees. We also consulted our pediatrician about how and when to introduce Casper to solids–definitely do what works for you and whatever your pediatrician recommends.

Print Recipe

Baby Banana Pancakes

Adapted from Buona Papa

Makes about 30 mini pancakes.

I have made these with just ground oat flour–it makes for a crumblier, denser pancake, but he seems to like them that way just fine. I make the oat flour by grinding regular rolled oats in a food processor until fairly fine. Using just oat flour makes these gluten free. I prefer to make them with a mixture of both oats and wheat flour.

1/2 cup finely ground oats

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1/4 cup mashed banana (or other fruit puree like apple or pear)

coconut oil for the pan

In a mixing bowl whisk together the oat flour, wheat flour, baking powder, and cinnamon. Fold in the coconut milk and mashed banana until just combined. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and coat lightly with coconut oil. Drop tablespoons of batter onto the pan, cooking until bubbles begin to form around the edges of each pancake, about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes and flip. Cook on the other side an additional minute or so until each pancake is golden. Remove from the skillet and let the pancakes cool off a bit before feeding your baby. Place the extra pancakes on a baking sheet lined with parchment and freeze for a few hours, until solid, then place in a plastic freezer bag and freeze. I like to use all of the frozen pancakes within a month.

Cherry Almond Smoothie

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Even though they often look like a swamp-drink, I’ve been drinking smoothies like this one every morning for weeks now. My mom generously gifted me the Vitamix I’d had my eyes on for Christmas and it’s been smoothie-town up in here ever since. It’s a pretty healthful way to begin the day and since we are notorious breakfast skippers in this house, it’s the best lazy breakfast during the week. The swampy hue comes from a big handful of spinach, but it’s not even a detectable flavor, though visually it’s no beauty. The key is drinking it before it reaches room temperature, because that’s when the spinach really oxidizes and turns into some sort of swamp-thang.

This cherry almond smoothie is my favorite lately. It reminds me of that Jergens lotion my grandma always wore, but delicious. I know…I’m really selling it here. What I mean is that stuff smells like almond extract and even though it’s a pretty powerful flavor, I love it. Especially with cherries and something creamy. When we were living in Michigan I became straight-up obsessed with tart cherries. Recently, I spotted giant bags of organic tart cherries (at Costco) and I’ve been hoarding them a bit and churning them into our morning smoothies. I even blended some into a beet puree for Casper–jury’s still out on whether or not he’s into beets. So, this smoothie basically tastes like dessert, but healthier because spinach and hemp hearts and all that hippie shit. It’s tart from the cherries, fragrant from the almond extract, sweet from the banana, creamy from the almond milk, and totally filling thanks to the almonds and hemp hearts.

Print Recipe

Cherry Almond Smoothie

Makes 1 large (breakfast sized) smoothie.

Sometimes I do half yogurt, half almond milk here. Go wild, be yourself. Also, the order the ingredients are listed is the order I layer them in my blender, I feel like it blends best this way, but really do whatever.

1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or whatever milk you prefer)

1 tablespoon hemp hearts (or flax seeds or chia seeds)

2 tablespoons raw almonds

1/4 of a frozen banana

1 cup frozen tart cherries

1 heaping cup baby spinach leaves

a dash, like 1/8 teaspoon, pure almond extract

Layer all of the ingredients in your blender and blend! Tamp down the ingredients as needed, blend until smooth. Drink.

 

 

 

Lemon Bar Ice Cream

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Are you guys watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix? I’ve been trying not to burn through the episodes, but I mean…I love a good binge watching session and for the last 2 nights Sean and I have been watching after we put Casper down for the night. (Side-note: he’s sleeping through the night most nights now…HALLELUJAH! Queue the choir of angels)! Anyway, I kind of love it. It’s a little cheesy in my favorite way, the theme song includes the line “Females are strong as hell!” (TRUE), and I always loved Ellie Kemper as Erin in The Office, plus Tina Fey is amazing, so needless to say I’ve become a quick fan of the show. Anyway, I feel like this ice cream might be something that would blow Kimmy’s mind and definitely elicit one of her 90’s throwback exclamations (possibly my favorite thing about her character).

I mean, this ice cream has a lot of good, exciting things happening: Lemon-scented vanilla bean ice cream base, tart meyer lemon curd ripples, and crunchy, buttery shortbread cookie crumbles! I definitely used the homemade Meyer Lemon Curd I shared last week, but there’s no reason you couldn’t use store-bought. It’s creamy, rich, sweet, tangy, and has a ton of texture and totally tastes like the ice cream version of a classic lemon bar without making a batch of lemon bars and churning them into a batch of ice cream. So, “By the power vested in me as an adult who is a grown-up”, maybe have ice cream for dinner (PS, don’t ever tell my son I okay’ed that). #hasbrown-nofilter

Print Recipe

Lemon Bar Ice Cream

This ice cream is a riff on my favorite, easy ice cream base from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home.

If you don’t have a vanilla bean, go ahead and use 2 teaspoons of extract and skip the steeping portion of the recipe.

2 cups whole milk

4 teaspoons cornstarch

3 tablespoons cream cheese

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

2/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons corn syrup

1 vanilla bean, split

zest of 1 lemon

1 cup Meyer Lemon Curd

1 1/2 cups crumbled, store-bought shortbread cookies

Prepare an ice bath in a clean sink basin or a large bowl.

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of milk with the cornstarch, set slurry aside. Set the cream cheese in a large bowl and stir in the salt, place a mesh strainer over the top. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan heat remaining milk with the cream. Scrape the vanilla beans from the pod and add both the scraped beans and pod to the milk and cream, as well as the lemon zest. Heat to a simmer, cover, and remove from heat. Let steep for 30 minutes. Remove the vanilla pod from the milk mixture and add sugar and corn syrup, reheat to a low boil. Quickly whisk in the cornstarch slurry and continue to boil, whisking, until thickened. Whisk a ladleful of the hot mixture into the cream cheese, before straining the remaining hot mixture into the cream cheese mixture and whisk to combine. Prepare an ice bath and pour the hot ice cream base into a large plastic bag. Chill bag in ice bath until cooled and process the mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturers instructions.

Once the ice cream is processed, layer 1/3 of the ice cream in the bottom of a lidded container, spoon 1/3 of the lemon curd over the top and sprinkle with 1/3 of the crumbled shortbread cookies. Repeat these steps with the remaining ice cream, curd, and cookies. Fit the lid over the container and freeze for several hours, until set. Serve with additional cookies and lemon curd, if you want.