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Stay-at-Home Panda

An adventure of triumphs and troubles as a mother, wife, and woman

8 Wholesome and Kid-Friendly Recipes to Try This Week

I’ve always said the hardest part of cooking is knowing what to make. Luckily, I stumbled upon the cookbook What a Good Eater!, and it has been a great solution to my daily problem. It’s full of wholesome baby and toddler recipes, as well as ones that please the whole family. The authors of the book are moms, so they know ease and simplicity are key.

If you’re like me, and need some ideas, here’s what we’ve been eating this week:
(You can find some other What a Good Eater! ideas here.)

Mini Basil Meatloaves

mini-meatloafs

On this morning my 4-year-old who loves to cook woke up before his little brother, and we spent the early moments making dinner.  I set out all the ingredients and measuring utensils, and he had fun dumping them into a bowl and mixing them. Prep for this meal only took a few minutes, and by the time my 1-year-old woke up, dinner was already in the oven.

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The whole family loved these meatloaves. They are moist and full of flavor and hidden veggies. These are great to have on hand, and because we had plenty, the boys and I ate some during the day as a snack. I passed one to my toddler and within a couple minutes he said, “More! More!” They are easy for little hands to hold and eat, and way better than handing out more crackers.

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INGREDIENTS
¼ tablespoon unsalted butter
1 egg, preferably organic
1 1/3 pounds ground beef, preferably organic and/or grass-fed beef
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
½ cup panko bread crumbs
¼ yellow onion, whole
2 cloves garlic, whole
½ red bell pepper, seeds removed, roughly chopped
7 medium-size fresh basil leaves
Approximately ¼ cup of water
STEPS
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2.Thoroughly grease the bottom and sides of a muffin pan with butter to prevent sticking. In a medium-size mixing bowl, add the egg and lightly beat it with a fork. Add the beef, salt, pepper, oregano,
mustard, and bread crumbs to the mixing bowl. Mix with clean hands to combine the mixture. Set aside.
3. In a blender, add the onion, garlic, bell pepper, basil leaves, and the minimum amount of water needed
to puree (preferably not more than ¼ cup). Puree until smooth. Slowly add the puree to the meat. Thoroughly mix all the ingredients with your hands. Fill each of the 12 muffin containers to the top with the meat
loaf mixture using an ice cream scoop. Then, use the back of the ice cream scoop to compress and even out the
top of each mini meat loaf.
4. Bake for approximately 23–26 minutes or until the center of the mini meat loaves registers 160 degrees
with a meat thermometer. Allow them to cool slightly, then gently run a knife along the circumference
of each meat loaf to loosen it. Gently remove them from the pan, and serve bite-size pieces appropriate for
your baby.
*You can also try serving these as mini meat loaf sliders between two whole wheat buns with ketchup or mustard. If at first your toddler seems hesitant, try melting a little cheese on top, or serve the meat loaf
with your child’s favorite dipping sauce, such as ketchup, honey mustard, or barbeque sauce.
*Many of these recipes use fresh herbs. If you’re like me and don’t want them drying up in your fridge, check out infinity jars, which will preserve their freshness.
Mediterranean Couscous
couscous-with-feta2
I made this dish as a side with the meatloaf, but there was plenty to keep on hand as a healthy snack. It’s light, but filling, and has many fresh and delicious flavors. I love the cucumber, feta, and lemon combo.
INGREDIENTS
1¼ cups water
1 medium-size cucumber
Juice of 1 lemon, seeds removed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely minced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely minced
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1¼ cups plain couscous, preferably organic
STEPS
1. Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan.
2. In the meantime, cut the cucumber in half lengthwise, and scrape the seeds out with your finger or a
spoon. Grate the cucumber (skin included), and place it in a large mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice, oil,
garlic, parsley, pepper, and feta. When the water has reached a boil, add the couscous, and remove it from the
heat immediately. Cover with a lid and allow it to rest for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff the couscous with
a fork.
3. Once the couscous has cooled slightly, add it to the bowl and mix well. You can spoon-feed this to your
baby or, if she is old enough, let her dig in with a spoon of her own!

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

slow_cooker_chicken_tacos

Talk about easy prep! I had dinner ready to go within two minutes by simply putting the ingredients in the slow cooker and carrying on with my life. This was my first time making chicken that actually fell apart at the touch of a fork. My children loved these as much as my husband and I did. I even heard them say, “Mmm, mmmm” sounds as they ate. There were plenty of leftovers, and everyone was down to eat them for lunch the following day.

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INGREDIENTS
1 ¼ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, preferably organic
15 ounces low-sodium black beans, drained
14 ounces frozen corn, preferably organic, straight from freezer
16 ounces mild store-bought salsa, preferably organic
½ cup water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup fresh cilantro, minced
Whole wheat tortillas (optional)
STEPS
1. Add all the ingredients except the cilantro and tortillas (if using) to the slow cooker. (No need to cut
the chicken.) Mix the ingredients well.
2. Slow cook on low for approximately 8 hours, undisturbed. The meal is ready when the chicken is fork
tender. Shred all of the chicken using a fork and knife. Add the cilantro and mix well.
SERVING OPTIONS
Create soft tacos: Place the chicken mixture in a whole wheat tortilla. Top
with grated cheese and sour cream. Roll the tortilla up to create a soft taco or
burrito, then slice it into bite-size circles for your toddler.
Kheema: Indian Ground Beef
kheema
You might be tempted to think the best thing about this meal is the mixture of ginger, coriander, and lime, but my absolute favorite is that it’s made in one pan. It’s a one pot wonder! It was a cinch to make, easy to clean, and a crowd-pleaser. I was skeptical at first. My kids usually don’t eat sweet potatoes, let alone sweet potatoes mixed with beef and peas, but they actually did work with it!
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INGREDIENTS
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
11/3 pounds ground beef, preferably organic, grass fed
1½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided (we recommend using salt only if your baby is 12 months
plus)
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
2 cups sweet potatoes, diced into ½-inch-by-½-inch cubes
1 cup water
12-ounce package frozen peas, straight from freezer
¾ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice, seeds removed
STEPS
1.)Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add the onions and sauté for 4–6
minutes or until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and ginger, and stir continuously for 30 seconds
to prevent burning. Add the beef, break it into small pieces with the spoon, and allow it to brown for about
2 minutes. Add ½ teaspoon salt (if using), coriander, cumin, and turmeric. Mix well. Cook until the meat is
brown and no longer pink, about 4–6 minutes.
2.) Add the potatoes and the water. Mix well and cover with a tight-fitted lid. Cook for 12–15 minutes or
until the potatoes are soft and tender, stirring occasionally. Add the frozen peas,
remaining salt, pepper, and lime juice. Mix well and cook for 3–5 minutes or until the
peas are soft enough for your baby.
3.) Allow it to cool and serve, cutting into bite-size pieces appropriate for your baby.
For adults and other family members who might enjoy a more flavorful, spicier
version of this dish, try garnishing only the adult portions with freshly diced jalapeño
pepper and/or freshly minced cilantro! Serve and enjoy!
*If dicing sweet potatoes with a baby on your hip is, in fact, too hard, you might need this this.

 

Dance Party Chicken Nuggets

dance-party-chicken-nuggets

Ahhhh, chicken my family will actually eat! I made these and they were a hit. I don’t know who liked them more, the kids or my husband. They were easy to make, and I didn’t feel guilty for feeding chicken nuggets to my family yet again. At least they didn’t come from a drive through!

INGREDIENTS
2 teaspoons garlic powder
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
½ cup finely grated cheese, such as Pecorino Romano or Parmesan
3 eggs, preferably organic
½ cup milk, such as unsweetened almond milk or dairy milk
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (approximately 1½ pounds total weight), preferably organic,
pounded to ½-inch thick and cut into “nugget-sized” pieces about 1 inch by 1 inch
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
Tip: Try using kitchen scissors to cut the chicken into nuggets!
STEPS
1.) Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2.) Place the bread crumbs, oregano, garlic powder, pepper, and cheese into a large
resealable plastic bag. Seal, and shake until everything is blended. (This is where the
“dance party” comes in, so be sure to have your baby help you as you shake it up! Just make
sure the bag is sealed tightly!)
3.) Whisk the eggs and milk together in a large mixing bowl. Place all of the chicken nuggets into the
bowl and stir with a spoon to ensure each piece gets coated with the egg mixture. Open the bag with
the bread crumbs, and, using a slotted spoon, transfer the egg-coated nuggets from the bowl into the bag,
allowing any excess egg mixture to drain first. Once all the chicken has been transferred, seal the bag, and—
you guessed it—have another dance party! Shake it up thoroughly until each nugget is coated with bread
crumbs. (There’s nothing like dancing in the kitchen with your little one!)
4.) Line a baking sheet with foil. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil onto the foil and use a brush to
spread an even coating. Add the nuggets to the baking sheet in a single layer (it’s OK if the nuggets are
close together, or you may use an additional baking sheet if you prefer), drizzle the other 1 tablespoon of oil
loosely over the nuggets, and bake for 10–12 minutes, or until the bottom sides are golden brown. Flip each
nugget, and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Allow to cool.
5.) Once cool, serve these babies up with your little one’s favorite sauce, such as ketchup, honey mustard,
or barbeque sauce! This makes a big batch, so you can freeze whatever is left for a night you’re in a
hurry.
Penne with Pumpkin and Sage 
pumpkin-penne
The flavors in the sauce are interesting and enjoyable. I was surprised that my 4-year-old cleared his plate both times I served it. My husband enjoyed it too and kept referring to it as mac-n-cheese because of the yummy creamy texture. Only half the sauce is needed for the penne, and the other half can go right in the freezer.
INGREDIENTS
1 pound whole wheat penne pasta
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups vegetable broth
15 ounces pumpkin puree, preferably organic
½ cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt (optional: we recommend using salt only if your baby is 12 months plus)
¼ teaspoon pepper
8 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
¼ cup grated cheese, such as Parmesan or Pecorino Romano
FOR THE PENNE PASTA
1.) Follow the instructions on the pasta package, and cook the penne 1 minute less than recommended on
the cooking instructions. Drain the pasta.
FOR THE PUMPKIN SAUCE
2.) Heat the oil in a large sauce pot over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds, stirring continuously to prevent
burning. Add the vegetable broth, pumpkin puree, and coconut milk. Stir until blended and smooth. Add
the cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Add the sage, reduce the heat, and simmer for 5
minutes. Remove from heat and fold in the grated cheese.
3.) Place the cooked pasta in a large bowl, and pour ½ of the pumpkin sauce over the pasta. Top with extra
grated cheese, if desired, and toss well. Cut the pasta into bite-size pieces appropriate for your baby,
and serve! Once the remaining pumpkin sauce is cooled, store it in an airtight container in the freezer for
future use.
Spinach and Goat Cheese Mini Muffins
spinach-and-goat-cheese-bites
We made these for dinner, and both of the kids asked for more. Seriously, they never want more of anything but junk food. Maybe they were hungry. Maybe they were invested in the dish because the helped me make it. Or maybe these savory mini muffins are just that delicious. They’re definitely the kind of thing you can freeze, and have on hand for snacks and lunches.
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Ash helped me mix the egg and cheese mixture. (You know what I mean by “helped”…)
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Javin filled the muffin tins.
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“This is good, Mommy!”
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  “More! More!”
INGREDIENTS
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 shallots, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (16-ounce) package of frozen spinach, straight from freezer
½ cup water
2 eggs
1 cup goat cheese, crumbled or creamy
½ cup ricotta cheese
½ cup grated Pecorino Romano
½ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
STEPS
1.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2.) In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until soft and
translucent, about 3–5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute, stirring continuously to prevent burning. Add frozen spinach and water. Cook the spinach until thawed, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
3.) In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the cheeses, pepper, thyme, and nutmeg. Add the
spinach mixture to the bowl, stirring to combine until fully incorporated.
4.) Grease your mini-muffin tins using the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Fill each muffin tin ¾ full of the
mixture. Bake for 20–25 minutes or until the sides appear lightly browned.
5.) Once cool, gently run a knife around the circumference of each muffin to loosen and remove it. If you
have only 1 mini-muffin tin, repeat the process with the remaining mixture. To store, place them in small
airtight containers and refrigerate or freeze.
Banana Boat
 almond-butter-banana-boat2
I’ve mixed banana and nut butter together as an energizing snack for a long time, but never before thought to do it like this. Now the kids like asking for banana boats because the alliteration is fun, and so are snacks that look like other objects. I put chopsticks through to keep the banana halves from sliding around, and they actually make pretty good sails.
INGREDIENTS
1 banana, peeled
1 teaspoon creamy, unsalted, organic almond butter
STEPS
1.) Cut the banana in half. Slice both halves of the banana lengthwise down the middle. Spread a thin layer of
almond butter down the center of one half of the banana. Place the other half on top to create a banana
sandwich. Repeat with the other half.
2.) Chop the banana sandwich into bite-size chunks appropriate for your child. Serve and enjoy!
What a Good Eater! is helpful to parents of babies because it breaks the recipes down according ages, so you can be sure what you are making them is developmentally appropriate. They also give sample feeding schedules for babies and toddlers, which I wish I would have had years ago when I was winging it hard. The recipes are easy to make, and kids actually eat them.

 

About Amanda Elder

Amanda has a background in education, but now spends most of her time snuggling her kids, wiping their butts, and doing house chores in her underwear.

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