Monday, February 11, 2008

Kid food

One of the things I am trying very hard to do is incorporate more home-cooked food into McKenna's diet. I did SO great for a while with all the homemade baby food, and then after I was promoted, it just kind of went downhill from there. So I'm trying to get back to that place. It's tough finding things that a toddler will eat willingly, and even though I'm sure she would survive on Nutri Grain cereal bars and Cheetos if I let her, I don't think that's probably a very nutritious diet. Just a thought there.

I have a TON of cookbooks for babies and toddlers, and I shelved so many of the recipes because they used foods that she wasn't ready for yet or I didn't think the recipe would puree well. This is one that I had eyed for a while.


1/2 c uncooked short-grain rice
1 1/2 c chicken broth
1/2 c shredded cooked chicken
1/2 c frozen peas, thawed
2 Tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese

Bring rice and broth to a boil and boil uncovered for ten minutes. Add chicken and peas, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Cook for an additional fifteen minutes. Remove from heat, transfer to another bowl, and stir in cheese. Let cool and serve.

What I liked about this recipe: I had everything on hand. No weird ingredients that required me running to the store. I substituted long-grain rice for the short-grain rice, I defrosted leftover chicken broth that I had in the freezer, I grabbed a chicken breast out of the freezer bag, chopped it up and sauteed it in some olive oil real fast and grabbed some peas out of the freezer that had been in there for a while. I think I had bought the Parmesan cheese for another recipe and not used it because it was unopened. Perfect.
What I disliked about this recipe: The cooking times are REALLY, really off. After seven minutes on the first run, the rice had already absorbed all the liquid and was starting to stick to the bottom. I threw in the chicken and the peas and probably 2-3 minutes of that and it was ready to eat. I had to add probably 1/4 c of water to it after I added the chicken and peas so that I would not burn the rice. I don't know if that had anything to do with the fact that I used long-grain rice, but somehow I doubt it...I would think that with long grain rice, it would cook SLOWER, not faster. If I had believed the recipe and actually let this dish cook for the recommended times, there's no telling what I would have ended up with and my saucepan probably would have been ruined. Fortunately, I learned the hard way with this cookbook when I made Mexican rice for McKenna about two years ago...those cooking times were off too. I'm starting to think that the author of this cookbook makes all of her rice dishes with a stove that is broken!
Cool kitchen gadgets used: The pulse feature on my food processor was very handy for shredding the chicken. I am going to use the leftovers to make this dish again next week, probably. One breast makes probably about 1 1/2 c of shredded chicken.
Tastiness factor: Simple but tasty. I put about a cup in a bowl for McKenna and when I went over with my bowl to see if she ate all hers, she put her fist out to grab the rest of mine out of my bowl since her bowl was empty. Then she ate the rest of what was in the bowl! No leftovers. Guess that means she liked it! It's a very kid-friendly dish.


3 1/2 lbs of pears, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 c water
1/4-1/2 c of sugar
spices (optional)

Cook pears in water over medium heat until tender and drain. Puree in a food processor. Return pears to pan and add sugar to taste. Bring to a boil until sauce reaches 212 degrees. Add spices during last five minutes of cooking. Ladle sauce into hot jars and seal. Process in a water bath canner OR using the inverted method (thanks, Kelley). Let jars cool and store.

What I liked about this recipe: Pears smell SO good cooking. McKenna loves applesauce, so I thought I would make this instead for a change. You can't buy pearsauce in the store and pears are so great.
What I disliked about this recipe: *sigh* I wanted to try it, so I only bought 3.5 lbs of pears. That only yielded two pints of pearsauce. Talk about a very expensive pearsauce. I don't know what I did but it sure seemed like a LOT of work for very little return. I hope my princess likes it. Plus, I couldn't get the temperature over 170 degrees. I let it boil on high and it just would not go any higher than that. I finally just took it off and I'm going to put the jars in the refrigerator.
Cool kitchen gadgets used: I used my kettle to boil water to sterilize my lids in before sealing on the jars.
Tastiness factor: Very good. I tasted a spoonful to make sure no additional sugar was needed and it was good. I forgot to add cinnamon to it though...I was too distracted by the fact that I couldn't get the temperature anywhere above 170 degrees. I'm still learning this canning business. But it did pop nicely when I opened the lid this morning.


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