toddler meal

Crock Pot Garden Fresh Tomato Spinach Soup

This recipe is not really toddler approved, it only gets 1 out of four toddler thumbs up, and no puppy paws up.

It is, however, Momma approved.  It is that perfect little something extra to go with the endless cycle of grilled cheese sandwiches we seem to be going through and, as an added bonus, a good way to use up the last of last years tomato harvest that is in our deep freezer.

The ingredients are:
6 cups of tomatoes, you can use canned diced in juice, do not drain them… I prefer fresh (or in this case, frozen fresh)
3 cups of chicken broth
1 package of fresh baby spinach
1 large onion sliced
1/2 tsp of cloves
1/2 tsp of adobo
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour

Throw everything into a 5 quart crock pot except the butter and flour. Cook on high for 3-4 hours, or low for 6-8 hours. I have let this go on low for up to ten hours before without a problem. Allow soup to cool. While soup is cooking melt the butter in a small sauce pan on the stove. Add the flour, one tbsp at a time, whisking until smooth and thick. Add the butter mixture to the soup and then using an immersion blender purée the soup leaving some small chunks if you prefer.
This is the perfect soup for dipping a grilled cheese sandwich into… a sort of tomato florentine purée.  Occasionally Liam like it when I dip one of his grilled cheese strips into my soup too, so he can try it, but he does not like it by the spoonful yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grilled Ham, Spinach, and Cheese

After yesterday’s big event we have a ton or leftovers that need to be consumed; mostly deli meats and cheeses. So today I went back to an old staple for lunch, grilled ham, spinach, and cheese with a deconstructed salad (every meal sounds fancy if you put the word deconstructed in).

I use organic white bread and actually slice the slice half width wise so instead of it being 1 cm thick he has thin bread to munch on. I find this makes it easier for him to chew and since we only make a half a grilled cheese for him it leaves me one half a slice of bread to screw up cutting before I get it right 🙂

He gets one piece of cheese split in half, today it was cheddar (his favorite). We layer on two baby spinach leaves without the stems, and 1/4 of a slice of deli ham (it’s a high salt meat so he doesn’t get much). We do not butter the bread but do apply a one second squirt of aerosolized olive oil or vegetable oil to the pan. Fats are important for brain development but I prefer these types of fats for my little guy, and it makes the sandwich less greasy and easier for him to handle. We layer the sandwich like this: bread, 1/2 slice of cheese, spinach, ham, 1/2 slice of cheese and then grill away.

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Today’s deconstructed salad is cherry tomatoes, cucumber, celery, and carrots.

Liam never fails to eat the sandwich while somehow managing to slide the spinach out and discard it… Someday I will convince him he likes spinach. At least he enjoys the cut up raw veggies 🙂

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I suppose tomorrow is where we will have to start really getting creative with the leftovers. Tonight is a Daddy feeding night because Momma has to work.

Toddler Tacos

Since Liam and The Bean have entered the finger foods stage I have been working hard to find ways to make mealtime into more of a family experience. In other words; Momma isn’t making two separate meals. The toddlers eat what the parents eat, though sometimes with some slight variations.

This first meal we toddlerized (oh yeah, totally made that word up) is tacos. Taco night is probably my favorite night, and it absolutely cycles through our meal planning on a biweekly basis. I have an extreme obsession with fondness for moderately spicy Mexican food. Obviously with toddlers involved we had to tone down the spice action, so this is how I solved that problem and still created a tasty meal for everyone involved.

This meal received 4 of 4 toddler thumbs up, 6 of 12 puppy paws up, and 3 of 4 parent thumbs up (the hubs isn’t as big of a Mexican food fan as I am)

Chicken Taco Meat:
1 cup of shredded chicken
1/4 cup of McCormick Taco Seasoning
1/3 cup of water
1 – 15oz. can of black beans, drained and rinsed

Dump it all in a pan and simmer for at least 15 minutes (until it is reduced to the amount of liquid you prefer).

I personally tend to keep things like shredded chicken on hand because it is so easy to make and so useful in many different recipes, especially toddler friendly ones. Liam will not eat cut up chicken (too much effort to chew, he prefers a more instant gratification) but he loves shredded as long as it is flavorful.

I quartered all my veggies (tomatoes and peppers) so they were toddler sized… I figured that also meant we could for more vegetables in each taco shell, which makes me feel like the meal is healthier 😉

I swapped our usual Mexican cheese blend out for a plain shredded cheddar (spiciness sacrifices). My husband (an acid reflux sufferer) and the toddlers both appreciated this. My token nod to adding some life to my meal was to purchase a spicy salsa for myself. This allowed me to not really feel like I was sacrificing my meal for theirs (with the added bonus of only cooking one meal). I also gave the kids a single tortilla chip rather than an overwhelming large (for them) and splintery taco shell. The last substitute I made for the kid’s meal was yogurt (one split between the two of then) instead of sour cream.

The results:

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They loved the meal and the yogurt “dessert”, and I had my first toddler/parent combo meal win. Now let’s hope for many more!

Need an easy recipe for shredded chicken? Love your crockpot as much as I adore mine? Try this!

Place 4-5 boneless skinless chicken breasts (or 6-8 boneless skinless thighs) in a 5 quart crockpot. Dump a 32oz box of low sodium chicken broth into the pot. Add spices as you see fit, I typically toss in 1/2 tsp of sage and call it a day. Cook on high for 4-5 hours. Cool in fridge overnight, then remove chicken from the pot and shred with two forks.