You’re allowed to eat baby food for dinner; there’s no rules against it, but you know it doesn’t do you any favors in the long run emotionally. If you have a kid, they can already jump in the bed with you, bust in on you when you are trying to have lady’s moment in the bathroom, and just generally rule your life. Which is a good thing, except some things should remind you that you don’t have to watch only Clifford and you don’t have to eat only whatever leftover organic hot dog and peas there is on the plate to make your life easier. In case you do eat the baby food though, why not make it taste good? Here are some winners for if you’re just getting your first tooth and you’re on to solids, or if you’re the mama and you’re sick of eating the jarred stuff. If you have no baby and you have no intention of even inviting a baby to dinner, but you’re hankering for something warm and smooth and to make the world all right, there is a manicotti how-to at the end of the list.
Throw a peeled frozen banana (peel before freezing) into the blender with half a cup of yogurt. Add a Tablespoon of soy protein powder, a few chunks of peeled peaches, or a handful of blueberries.
Buy chicken cutlets. Throw them in a hot skillet that has a little oil in it. (Use good quality extra virgin olive oil; the fat in high quality ex virgin is the closest of any food to breast milk). Cook about three minutes on each side, until chicken is no longer pink when you cut into it. Melt a piece of mozzarella on the top, by laying the cheese on the cutlet, right before the chicken is done. Grate on a little parmesan (Parmesan is highest in calcium of all the cheeses)
Tuna Moo Moo
Instead of using mayo to make the tuna, use whole milk yogurt. Skip the salt, and serve with bites of whole wheat bread.
Veggies Va Va Va Room
Boil any frozen vegetables until soft, or about ten minutes. Carrots, peas, spinach or broccoli, are all good choices. Using the cooking liquid, blend them until smooth. Add a drop of olive oil and grated parmesan cheese. Spread on cheese sandwiches, use as a sauce for pasta, or serve separately.
Buy a box of whole wheat or whole grain pancake mix. Add a spoonful of soy protein powder, some mashed banana, or smashed leftover peas, and follow directions on the box.
Throw two baking potatoes that have been stabbed with a fork a few times, in the microwave, until soft. Cut in half, the long way. Scoop out most of the flesh, without breaking the skins, and put into a good sized bowl. Add a half cup of cottage cheese, a half cup of coarsely grated cheddar cheese, and the yolk from two boiled eggs (babies shouldn’t have the white of the egg until fifteen months). Mash it all together, and put it all back into the reserved potato skins. Reheat for a few minutes in the toaster oven, or for 30 seconds in the microwave.
Mix whole milk yogurt with orange juice to taste.
Or you can have grown up baby food and eat manicotti:
Make your crepes (crespelle in Italian) or buy them. To make them, use 2 large eggs, 1 cup of milk and 2 Tablespoons of melted butter (cooled). Be sure all of your ingredients are room temp. (put your egg in shell in warm water for 2 min.) Sift the flour into a bowl. Beat the eggs with about half the milk and add to the flour with a whisk. Gradually stir in the rest of the milk to make a loose batter. Let sit for 30 minutes before using. Spill a ladle full onto a buttered crepe pan or heavy saute pan and immediately tilt the pan to get the batter to the edges, spilling out the excess back into the bowl. You want to do this really fast so that the batter doesn’t have time to get thick. When the edges brown, lift the crepe with your fingers from the edge and flip. Cook for another second and remove. Repeat until the batter is done. You can also buy crepes pretty easily now at the grocery store.
Buy 1 lb. fresh ricotta or the best you can find (I like whole milk) and mix in about 1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesan (buy grana padano or parmegiano reggiano), and 1 cup of fresh moz., cut into bits. Grate a tiny bit of nutmeg in, and a little bit of finely chopped parsley. Taste for salt and black pepper. Whisk an egg and stir that in as well. Either buy a great jarred sauce or make your own by heating up the best olive oil you can find (I like La Macchia at Fairway), and throw in three whole cloves of fresh garlic. Let them get a little golden. Now throw in 5 basil leaves and over low heat, wait until they crisp, but don’t brown. (if you like it spicy, add about 5 red pepper flakes at this point)Now add a can of whole San Marzano tomatoes that you have crushed through your hands. Simmer over a medium heat for half an hour. Pour the sauce into the bottom of a lasagna pan. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of filling into each crepe (if they are super big you can cut them in half) and roll. Line them up in the pan. Pour sauce over when the pan is full so that there is a nice layer of sauce on the bottom and some on top. Sprinkle them with 1/2 cup of more parmesan and cover tightly. Bake at 350 until hot, maybe 20 minutes. Stick a sharp small knife in, and if it comes out hot when touched to your lip, they are ready for a little more moz. to be sprinkled on top and to go back into the oven uncovered for another 20 minutes.
A salad of endive, radicchio and watercress is great with this with just a drizzle of your beautiful olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and some salt.