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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Apple Picking and Applesauce Making In The Slow Cooker





So long summer!  
Bring on all the fantastic fall produce Bucks County has to offer!
Apples are my most favorite ingredient for  fall cooking, sweet or savory, crisp and tart.
My sister and I took her kids and Henry to Tabora Farms to pick some apples.  They had a bunch of varieties, some for eating, some for pies and some for baking... So go with a game plan and pick up the type of apple you want.   

The thousands of types of apples can be overwhelming but  here is a fantastic webpage that lists the tons of apples out there and what they are best for.  http://www.pickyourown.org/apples  I picked McIntosh because I want to make applesauce and needed a good baking apple.  I also picked up some Macoun apples for their sweetness, I like to use 2 types of apples for applesauce to have a balance between tart and sweet.

I make as much applesauce as I can while apples are in their prime and cheap, I freeze and can so I have applesauce into the winter. Applesauce is so versatile used in baking, glazes, vinaigrettes, cocktails and finally for Henry. 

The best way to make applesauce is to use your crock pot or slow cooker, apples and a small amount of water....that's all you need! Your house will smell amazing and you will look like a genius!
Enjoy,
Holly


Applesauce in the Crock Pot

Peeler, Apples and Crock Pot...That's it!

Ingredients

  • 12 Macoun Apples
  • 8 McIntosh Apples
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • Cinnamon (optional)


Directions

  1. Peel, core and chop apples.
  2. Place in crock pot, add water.
  3. Turn on low, stir when you remember.
  4. Simmer until apples are soft, about 4-6 hours.

If freezing wait until applesauce is cooled before placing in freezer.



Applesauce For Baby



  • After applesauce has cooled, blend until smooth. 
  • Freeze in ice cube trays or freeze flat in breastmilk storage bag.
  • Label and date applesauce before freezing.  Will last in freezer for up to 3 months. 
Henry loves apples!

Freezing in breastmilk freezer bags saves so much room in your freezer.

Tabora Farms
Tabora Farms

Friday, May 15, 2015

Stage One Baby Food -Make at Home, Simply!


I have cooked for hundreds of thousand of people and I must say cooking for Henry has been the greatest thrill of my life.  I started planning and reading before he was born, pinning and planning with grand allusions of spending the day making baby food.  I read every baby blog I could with catchy headlines, "Make a months worth a baby food in one day!".... And then I had Henry and reality sunk in, why would I want to spend my day off making baby food.  I love cooking but why would I want to spend my only day off making baby food.  
I'm going to tell you why this concept does not work.

1.  Who has a million ice cube trays to freeze all the baby food you're going to be making.  And how about space in your freezer.......  Where does your ice cream go?
2.  You can't take advantage of produce that's on sale,  when organic carrots are on sale thats when you stock up.  
3.  When tasks turn into a huge events they get put off because life is busy.....Then it's Monday and you feel bad about yourself.

Life doesn't have to be that complected and making baby food doesn't have to be complected either.  If you're making sweet potatoes for dinner put a few more in the oven, cool, puree and freeze.  Now, that's a start!  If you just make a little extra everyday it's never a task or chore. 


How to store?  I have one silicone tray and I use breast milk bags.  The bags are great because I can label them, they lay flat (more room in freezer) and defrosts quickly. 


Henry's first time eating applesauce.





Making Stage One  Baby Food

Roasting, steaming and pureeing raw are the three basic techniques for making stage 1 baby food.  ALL simple with these simple steps!

Roasting in the Oven

Perfect way to cook winter squash and root vegetables!

Sweet Potato
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Wash sweet potatoes and place on sheet pan.
  3. Bake in oven until fork tender, about 45 minutes.
  4. Cool, remove skin and dice into 1 inch pieces.
  5. With blender, stick blender or food processor blend until smooth and creamy -adding water as needed. TIP- when using a standard blender add water first.
  6. Chill in refrigerator before placing in trays or breast-milk bags.  (you never want to put hot food in the freezer)  




Pumpkin
All Winter Squash is Done the Same Way!  Butternut squash and acorn squash make amazing baby food!

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Wash pumpkin/squash.
  3. With a sturdy knife carefully cut in half. 
  4. Scoop out seeds. TIP- Save those seeds, perfect snack for you!
  5. Place on sheet pan cut side up.
  6. Roast in oven until fork tender.
  7. Cool and scoop out center leaving outer skin.
  8. With blender, stick blender or food processor blend until smooth and creamy -adding water as needed. TIP- when using a standard blender add water first.
  9. Chill in refrigerator before placing in trays or breast-milk bags.  (you never want to put hot food in the freezer)  

Steaming

Peas, broccoli  and carrots are great stage one foods.  I waited a bit to give Henry spinach and green beans because they tend to be a bit fiberous.   I use a stainless steam basket and a 2 qt sauce pan and lid.  

Peas
Frozen peas are a great value, easy to prepare and they are tiny powerhouses full of vitamins C, K, A and folic acid.

  1. Fill the bottom of a sauce pot with a about 2 inches of water.
  2. Place stainless steam basket in center and turn on high, cover with lid.
  3. When water comes to a boil add frozen peas to cover basket by 3 inches, don't over fill -you want the peas to cook evenly.  
  4. In about 4 minutes peas will be bright in color and tender, fresh peas will take a few minutes longer.
  5. Cool peas in ice bath to stop cooking or what I do (restaurant trick) spread cooked peas out on a half sheet pan to cool.
  6. After peas are cool blend with water until smooth.  -At first your baby will need the purees to be very thin but as they get older you can make it thicker.
  7. Chill in refrigerator before placing in trays or breast-milk bags.  (you never want to put hot food in the freezer)  
Carrots
Carrots are one of Henry's favorites!  Now that he's a bit older I roast them for him but at first steaming is best.
  1. PEEL!  Even if they are organic it's a very important step.  
  2. Chop into one inch pieces.
  3. Fill the bottom of a sauce pot with a about 2 inches of water.
  4. Place stainless steam basket in center and turn on high, cover with lid.
  5. When water comes to a boil add frozen peas to cover basket by 3 inches, don't over fill -you want the carrots to cook evenly.  
  6. Cook carrots until tender about 8 minutes.
  7. Spread cooked carrots out on a half sheet pan to cool.
  8. With blender, stick blender or food processor blend until smooth and creamy -adding water as needed. TIP- when using a standard blender add water first.
  9. Chill in refrigerator before placing in trays or breast-milk bags.  (you never want to put hot food in the freezer)  

Pureeing Raw

This is a simple one!!  Papaya, bananas and avocado are all amazing options! 

Papaya
Wait until the papaya is ripe before blending.
  1. Peel outer skin, cut in 1/2 and scoop out seeds.
  2. Cube into one inch pieces and blend.  You may need to add water.  Tip- for older kids this puree makes an amazing ice pop.
  3. Chill in refrigerator before placing in trays or breast-milk bags.  (you never want to put hot food in the freezer)

Banana and Avocado
These two are baby staples!  As Henry got older and we moved into stage 2, I would blend them together with oatmeal and he loves it!
I don't freeze bananas or avocado, I always have them on hand.
  1. Peel, place in bowl mash with fork or use food processor.
  2. Serve right away or will turn brown.

Coming Next....
The Slow Cooker and more stage one foods