Apple Quinoa

We've been getting the most incredible apples in our CSA box,
big, gorgeous, crisp and juicy.

I'm going to have to find out what kind they are.

A while back when I posted Zucchini Quinoa, my friend Elizabeth commented that they like theirs sweet.
She prepares quinoa for her family much like lots of people do oatmeal.

That's when I thought about adding it to apples.

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This mixture is more applesauce then quinoa but you could certainly change the ratio 
to make it more of a grain-based meal.

If you have a child that just doesn't want to eat grains,
then use a tad less quinoa and call it chunky applesauce.

For added texture reserve some apples for hand-mashing and then mix them back into the sauce.
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Apple Quinoa

4 large apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks (I use a melon baller to core my apples)
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup + 1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

In a small saucepan rinse and drain your 1/2 cup quinoa and then add 1 cup water.
Bring the water to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover with a lid.
Let it simmer for about 10 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.
Allow to cool.

Meanwhile, place your apples and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan over medium heat and cover.
I'll be honest and say I tend to use medium-high heat as I'm always in a hurry.
Stir occasionally and cook until all the apples are soft, about 7 minutes.
Allow to cool a minute.

Place apples with their liquid into a food processor or blender and puree.
Add your pumpkin pie spice and pulse until blended.
Return puree to saucepan and mix in the quinoa.


-Instead of pumpkin pie spice use cinnamon, nutmeg or vanilla
-Add minced mint or basil or simmer the apples with a sprig of thyme (remove before blending)

Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
The quinoa may continue to soak up the liquid from the apples. 
If this is the case, you may need to add water or unsweetened apple juice 
to bring to the desired consistency.

Quinoa is not actually a grain but a seed and is packed with protein and essential amino acids.
It's far more nutritious then rice and has more calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, 
copper, manganese, fiber and zinc than many other grains.

Apples are loaded with fiber, vitamins C, beta-carotene, riboflavin, thiamin, potassium,
phosphorus and calcium. 

Raspberry & Pear

Before this past year I did all my shopping at the grocery store.
As a result I wasn't really aware of the local growing season for a lot of fruits and vegetables.

I always considered raspberries and blackberries a summer fruit but
they are really a fall fruit.

We had these gorgeous raspberries and pears just calling out to be blended together.
The puree is vivid and refreshing.

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Raspberries are a bit tart and so is this puree.

I don't see anything wrong with that.  Not all fruit needs to be really sweet.
Also, don't assume your little won't like tart.  Peanut likes plain yogurt and that is pretty darn tart.

However, if you find that your little isn't buying into the tartness 
there are a few options that I've listed in the variations section.

Raspberry & Pear

12 oz (or about 2 cups) raspberries, rinsed
3 small (or 2 large) pears, peeled, cored and cut into chunks

Throw it all into a food processor and puree!

I did mine in batches because I was too lazy to pull down the big food processor. 


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-Mix with minced mint or ginger
-Add a pinch of spice like allspice, nutmeg or cinnamon
-Top oatmeal or other grain
-Add some mango or banana and bland into a smoothie
-This would also make a great popsicle
-Cook some chicken, pork or turkey in this
To make it sweeter:
-Add some apple or mashed banana or roast your banana to make an even sweeter blend
-You can always cook this down a bit over medium heat in a heavy bottomed sauce pan.
This will bring out the natural sweetness but will also make it runnier.
This would be fantastic to cook oatmeal or other grains with as done HERE.

Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

For such a little fruit raspberries are packed with nutrients.  High in fiber, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin K.

Pears are a good source of fiber, vitamin C, E, K and B2, copper as well as potassium.

Pumpkin, Pear & Apple

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Well, the blogging's been slow around here but fall has come and 
is bringing it's bounty.

I adore fall foods and I'm excited to dive into some new dishes for our littles.

I have more posts coming up and some small giveaways as well.

Today I'm showing a puree of some of the best of fall... pumpkins, pears and apples.

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Although I know you can get pears and apples year-round in grocery stores...
these are in season now so stop by your local farmer's market and let yourself be
amazed at how flavorful and delicious they are.

This is my first attempt at cooking pumpkin and it was soooo easy.
It makes me wonder if it's worth it making pumpkin pie from scratch.

It wouldn't actually be very hard.

Oh and if you have canned pumpkin that would be fine...
but only the plain stuff, not the pumpkin pie mix.


Pumpkin, Pear and Apple

1 baking or pie pumpkin, cut in half and gutted :)
2 pears, skinned, cored and cut into chunks
2 apples, skinned, cored and cut into chunks
pat of unsalted butter optional

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
As for the gutting of the pumpkin- just take out all the seeds (bake these for an adult snack)
and all the stringy stuff by scraping it with a spoon.
Place your pumpkin face down on a baking sheet.
Place your apple and pear in a small dish (I used a loaf pan).
Put the pumpkin, pears and apples in the oven.

Bake for about 20 minutes and then cover the apples and pears with a piece of foil.
Make sure you seal it around the top, using a pot holder of course, 
so that we create some steam and get some juices going.
We don't want it to get dry and want to use that liquid for the puree.
Bake for another 10 minutes or so.
At this point your fruit will be ready and you can check your pumpkin.
If the skin is easily pierced with a fork then it's done (as mine was).
If not then leave it in until ready.

Put it all in a food processor and puree, 
thinning with water or unsweetened apple juice until the desired consistency.

Otherwise you could also mash for a chunkier texture.

The fat in butter helps the body absorb the beta-carotene.  


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-I added 1/4 tsp of cinnamon
-Try adding curry, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, cardamom or ginger
-Puree with chicken, turkey or pork
-Add herbs like mint or cilantro
-You could also steam the ingredients instead of roasting


Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months

Pumpkin is packed with potassium (3 times a banana) and is packed with beta-carotene, lutein (for your eyes), fiber, vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, iron and phosphorus.

Pears are a good source of fiber, vitamin C, E, K and B2, copper as well as potassium.

Apples are loaded with fiber, vitamins C, beta-carotene, riboflavin, thiamin, potassium,
phosphorus and calcium. 

Big & Little: Cauliflower Mac 'n Cheese

When I think of comfort food, I think of mac 'n cheese.

There are a million different variations of it.

I love every single one.

Really.  You can't go wrong with mac 'm cheese.

Big and Little are my versions of Adult and Baby recipes.

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I added cauliflower for this one.

Actually I added roasted cauliflower because I roasted it before I knew what I was going to make.

I love roasted veggies.  Love! These were great in the dish.

However, for the sake of ease (I doubt most moms are going to want to take the time to roast veggies)
so the recipe varies to eliminate the roasting step.

Feel free to roast as I did.

If your family is cauliflower resistant then use less cauliflower (to make the flavor less apparent)
and boil instead of roast (out of sight, out of mind).

You could also puree it and it will blend into the cheese sauce.

*I use milk in this recipe, it is cooked and therefor widely believed to be safe for baby around 8 months

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The beginning of both recipes starts as one big batch and then splits off to create
different variations for big and little.

Big & Little: Cauliflower Mac 'n Cheese
1 box elbow macaroni, I used Barilla Plus 14.5 ounces
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets the size of the elbows or smaller
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour (I used whole wheat)
16 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (I came up a little short and added gruyere), shredded
8 oz cream cheese, room temp, cut into chunks
2 1/2 cups whole milk
a few grates of nutmeg
smidge of pepper

For the Big version
1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
salt, pepper
dash of hot sauce

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Boil your pasta in a large pot until soft enough for baby.
I usually go about 3 minutes over the directed cooking time.
In those last 3 minutes add your cauliflower to the boiling water.
Make sure both the macaroni and the cauliflower are mouth-mashable.
Drain macaroni and cauliflower and set aside.

In the same pot melt 2 tbs of butter over medium heat.
Add 2 tbs of flour and whisk vigorously
until the mixture thins and you can smell the yummy nutty scent.
This mixture of flour and fat is a roux.

Add about 1/4 cup milk and whisk it into the roux.
Steadily add the rest of your milk as you whisk away until it is all incorporated.
Continue to whisk over medium heat until the mixture thickens and starts to simmer.
Add your cheeses in and mix until melted.
Remove from heat.

Give your pasta and cauliflower a mix and add 2/3 to the melted cheese mixture.
Grate of bit of nutmeg, add a pinch of white pepper and mix.

This is where we split off to the different dishes.

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For the Little Version:
Add the remaining 1/3 of the pasta/cauliflower mix and you are done.
This yields a yummy but not too saucy/ too cheesy meal.
You can puree or pulse in a food processor to desired consistency.

For the Big Version:
 Add a generous pinch of salt and pepper (we used both black and white),
perhaps more nutmeg
as well as a few dashes of hot sauce, all to taste.

Mix the parmesan and bread crumbs together.

Pour the mac 'n cheese into a casserole dish and top with bread crumb mixture.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the top is golden and the mixture is bubbly.


*Variations for Little Version
-use different veggies like broccoli, asparagus, squash or carrots
-add fresh herbs or spices like parsley, sage or pepper
-top with fresh soft bread crumbs (simply place bread in food processor)
-add meat like chicken, turkey, pork or beef
-use a different size or shape pasta like orecchiette or even orzo

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*Variations for Big Version
-use different veggies like...well anything really
-get creative with your cheeses, try gruyere, roquefort, smoked gouda or chunks of brie
-add caramelized onions or sautéed garlic
-try different fresh herbs & spices like thyme, parsley and sage
-add proteins like bacon, ham (yum!), lobster (oh fancy!) or sausage

Of course you can refrigerate and and reheat mac and cheese but can you freeze it?
Yes, you can.
You can freeze directly in silicone muffin (or mini loaf) cups
or refrigerate in regular muffin tins until solid,
transfer to a freezer bag and freeze until you are ready to use.

Use noodles with whole grains for added benefits!

Cheese contains calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, folate and vitamins A, E, K and D.

Cauliflower is known to have cancer fighting properties as well as fiber, vitamin C, potassium and folate.

Milk contains calcium, protein, potassium, phosphorus, vitamins D, B12 & A, riboflavin and niacin.

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