Elements of Baby

My Baby Won’t Eat Meat…and other dinnertime fun.

Something happened to my mini foodie when she turned 11 months old. All of a sudden, she hated solid foods. You would think I was forcing her to eat dirt. Actually, I’m pretty sure she preferred to eat things off the floor than the homemade goodies I was making her. I mean…you should have seen some of the faces she would make. I could not figure it out. She used to devour ground chicken mixed with sweet potatoes, butternut squash with a touch of butter and couldn’t get enough of Babybel cheese for a midday snack. For weeks the dog was getting most of my home cooked baby food that Marielle would simply toss on the floor or push off her plate. This pregnant mama’s patience was wearing out quickly. I was starting to worry about her quickly approaching 1st birthday when formula was no longer going to be her main source of nutrition, and feared that she wasn’t going to get what she needed if she kept this up.

It wasn’t until today, when my mom came over to help with Marielle that I came to the realization that my little foodie was in fact, a foodie, and I was boring her with my cooking! My mom brought over some homemade chicken noodle soup. Not just any chicken noodle soup…this soup had a kick. Full of herbs, spices and lots of pepper. Marielle crawled up to the table begging for a little bite. We gave her one thinking she would hate it…but in fact, she couldn’t get enough of it. For the first time in weeks, she ate an entire bowl of solid food. I was always cautious with herbs and spices, thinking she wouldn’t like them. As it turns out, she loves them, and was protesting the fact that I was depriving her from such wonderful flavors! I guess the lesson here is don’t be afraid to spice up your baby’s mealtime options. While we assume they have pretty basic taste buds, your little one may surprise you and be quite adventurous in the culinary world.

Here is a chicken recipe that I’ve been using, and she’s been rejecting, until I made it a little more interesting for her by adding in some herbs and spices.

Creamy Chicken & Cheesy Potatoes

  • 1 tsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 ounces mashed yukon gold potatoes (make a bunch and freeze them in small containers)
  • 2 ounces baked chicken breast, ground or coarsely chopped depending on baby’s age. (I keep little 2 ounce containers of cooked, chopped chicken in the freezer for convenience)
  • 2 tbsp shredded cheddar
  • Dash of pepper
  • A couple dashes of chopped thyme, ground rosemary or basil for a savory dish, or add a little cinnamon or nutmeg for a sweeter treat.
  1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add the milk and whisk together. Add in the mashed potatoes until a thick puree is created.
  2. Mix in the chicken, pepper and herbs. Stir until heated through.
  3. Remove from heat, and stir in the cheddar cheese until melted. Let the mixture cool to a comfortable temperature for baby.

And enjoy your baby’s expression go from this…(not so merry and bright…)



Elements of Baby, Elements of Food

Chicken, Leeks and Apples…Delicious for Mom, Dad and Baby!

Have I mentioned how much I love Real Simple? I do. I love the magazine, the cookbooks and the website. It’s my go to for simple, healthy meals. I honestly haven’t tried a recipe from it that I haven’t loved. The best part about their recipes is that they use very few ingredients and it’s always whole, healthy ingredients, so I can feel good about feeding them to my family. Marielle’s tastes (and appetite!) are growing, and evolving into loving the foods that my husband and I eat. Dark meat may not be the healthiest part of the chicken, but it’s incredibly tasty and reheats beautifully without getting dry. This recipe gives baby lots of new flavors (Rosemary and Leeks) along with familiar tastes (Chicken and Apples) Removing the chicken from the bone, adding the apples, leeks and some of the cooking liquid and either pureeing for younger babies, or mashing for older babies makes a delightful meal for your little one. And you!

Recipe courtesy of Real Simple (slightly adapted)


  • 4 small apples (I used Honeycrisp and Haralson for both sweet and tart flavors)
  • 2 leeks (white and light green parts), washed and chopped into 1/2 inch circles
  • 6 small sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 4-6 chicken thighs


  1. Heat oven to 400° F. In a large roasting pan, toss the apples, leeks, rosemary, oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  2. Season the chicken with ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper and nestle, skin-side up, among the vegetables.
  3. Roast until the chicken is cooked through and the apples and leeks are tender, 40 to 45 minutes.
Elements of Baby, Elements of Food, Fix & Freeze

Béaba Babycook: Baby’s First Chicken & Apples

The time has come to introduce Marielle to her first protein. At 7 months old, she hasn’t rejected a single type of food that we’ve offered her, but I was definitely skeptical about steaming chicken and pureeing it…First of all, have you ever seen anything look so unappetizing? But, I have to say, it tasted great, just like chicken should. My concern was that the texture would freak her out a little, and it definitely did. She didn’t spit it out, because the flavor is good. But the texture is definitely strange for a baby. This is definitely one to have the camera ready for! The look was priceless. Unfortunately for babies, they don’t get to slather BBQ sauce on their chicken…so it’s a little dry and pasty when pureed.

To help her with the texture, I added her pureed apples into the chicken and mixed them together, and she LOVED it! You can try adding pureed sweet potato, apple, pear or whatever food is familiar to your baby to make the introduction to proteins a little more tolerable.

To make pureed chicken breast, fill your Babycook with Level 3 water. Cut one or two organic, boneless chicken breasts into 1/2 inch cubes and place in the steaming basket. Turn on the Babycook and let it cook away. Once it’s finished, puree the chicken with a little of the water until it forms the consistency your baby will tolerate. I think I added about 4 tablespoons of water total to create the puree, and then added her apples to the mixture just before serving.

As your babies tastes develop, try adding in some fresh herbs such as basil or parsley for a savory treat!


Beaba Babycook Puree Chicken Breast

Elements of Food

Chicken and Spinach Crepe with Mushroom Bechamel Sauce

My husband and I both LOVE crepes…both sweet and savory varieties. Just like my stance on risotto…you can throw any variety of ingredients in them and they will taste delicious! I first fell in love with crepes when I was living in San Diego for school. My family has spent countless summer vacations on Coronado Island, and so I would frequently spend my free time away from school, visiting the Island to relax. There was this incredible little crepe shop not too far from the Hotel Del called Bino’s. They created incredible crepes and I couldn’t get enough! I brought friends from school almost every Sunday to introduce them to this culinary delight. Nutella Banana…Berries and Cream, and savory crepes such as ham and Gruyere…yum!

My husband, who I met after college, had been consuming crepes since he was in grade school. He and his family have lived, and spent a lot of time in France. Before we were married, or even engaged, Brendan took me on my first trip to Paris. I was in love with the city from the second I set foot out of the taxi. It was this trip that I had my very first true French crepe at Creperie des Arts…and I loved it. I watched in amazement as they made a perfect crepe on their crepe maker…and I knew I had to figure out how to do this at home. It was no wonder that when my husband proposed and we started creating our registries…the first item to go on was an electric crepe maker!

This recipe was created using Julia Child’s traditional crepe batter, and a mixture of a couple of my favorite flavors: Spinach, shallots, garlic and Gruyere cheese…I mean, can you really go wrong?!

Note* If you don’t have an electric crepe maker, you can usea crepe pan. They are a little trickier to use, but they still create a light, delicate crepe.

Crepe Batter Ingredients for Savory Crepes

  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 cup cold milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of flour
  • 4 T butter, melted

Put the liquids, eggs and salt into a blender jar. Add the flour, then the butter. Cover and blend on high speed for 1 minute. Occasionally scrape the sides of the jar to get all the flour down into the blender. Blend for 1 more minute. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Make 10 inch crepes using an electric crepe maker or crepe pan on the stove. Stack them on top of each other as you  make them, to keep them warm and soft. Cover with foil to keep warm until you are ready to assemble.

crepe pan

crepe progress complete

Spinach & Chicken Filling

  • 2 T shallot, minced
  • 3 T butter
  • 1 Pound of Spinach
  • 1 whole rotisserie chicken, pulled apart into bit sized shreds
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese (or Swiss, whatever you can find)

In a large saute pan, melt the butter and saute the shallots until softened. Add in the spinach, and stir until vibrant green and wilted. Stir in the shredded chicken to combine. Remove from the heat, and set aside.



Crepe Ingredients Final

Sauce Bechamel Aux Champignons (Mushroom cream sauce)

  • 5 T Butter, divided
  • 2 T flour
  • 1 cup of milk (whole is best)
  • 6 ounces of chopped fresh mushrooms (baby bellas, button, whatever you like!)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Nutmeg

In a saute pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add in chopped mushrooms and salt, and cook until tender and water has evaporated. Remove from heat.

In a heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add in the flour and stir, cooking for a couple minutes. Make sure the flour doesn’t brown or burn.

Add the milk to the flour and butter, and bring to a soft boil. Lightly boil until thickened, add salt to taste. Keep at a low simmer to keep warm. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. If you find the sauce has become to thick by the time you are ready to use it, simply add in a little more milk until thinned.

Add the mushrooms to the sauce. Just before serving, add in the last tablespoon of butter.

Assembling your Crepe

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Using both hands, fold a crepe in half and place down on on a cookie sheet. Place 1/3 cup of chicken and spinach filling on one side of the half circle. Top with a couple tablespoons of shredded Gruyere.
  3. Fold the other half of the crepe over the filling to create a triangle.
  4. Repeat with your other crepes until you have assembled all crepes.
  5. Place finished crepes in a 400 degree oven for 3-4 minutes or until cheese has melted inside each crepe and is warmed through.
  6. Place finished crepe on a plate and top with the mushroom bechamel sauce. Garnish with fresh chives or green onions.

crepe assembly

Filled Crepe Photo

Folded Crepe

Final Crepe Photo

finished crepe

Elements of Food

Healthy Slow Cooking: Chicken with Cranberry Leek Sauce

I’m first going to start out by saying, that cream of (chicken, mushroom, etc) soups get a really bad reputation for no reason. I’ve seen more blogs and recipes stating that their recipe does NOT include them and how awful they are. Yeah, they are high in sodium, but so are most soups and processed foods you cook with. Moderation, moderation, moderation. I have a few recipes that use them, and I happen to really like them. It’s very down home comfort food cooking. However, using a slow cooker does not mean that you HAVE to use them. There are so many ways to use your slow cooker to create really healthy, homestyle meals. My husband and I do try to eat as healthy as we can, and that’s tough when you’re married to an entrepreneur with a crazy schedule! I have this fantastic cookbook full of healthy slow cooker meals. The following recipe is a new favorite. The recipe calls for a turkey breasts, but, 4 lb whole chickens were BOGO at Lunds (can’t resist) so I swapped the turkey for chicken and it turned out fabulous. The best part about this recipe is that I had almost all the ingredients in my house already.

Recipe adapted from The Healthy Slow Cooker by Judith Finlayson


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 3.5-4 lb whole chicken
  • 3 medium leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 4 tsp dried Thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp cracked black peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2.5-3 cups of chicken stock (depending the size of your chicken, you may need to add more broth to the slow cooker)
  • salt
  • 1 cup plain dried cranberries (not Craisins or any juice infused cranberries)
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsely


  1. In a large slow cooker, place your whole chicken (or turkey breast) skin side up to the slow cooker stoneware.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and add the leeks. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, and peppercorns and cook for another minute.
  3. Add flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock to the pan, stirring until mixture begins to thicken, about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt if using, and add in the cranberries.
  4. Transfer the sauce to the slow cooker, covering the chicken with the sauce. It’s okay if the sauce doesn’t cover the chicken, just make sure there is a few inches of liquid on the bottom. You can add more chicken broth if you need.
  5. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours or high or 3-4 or until chicken is completely cooked through.
  6. To serve, transfer to a platter and serve with sauce. I served with mashed potatoes and green peas.

Elements of Food, Real Life Pins

Poulet a la Moutarde (Chicken with Mustard Sauce)

My husband LOVES mustard. But not just any mustard, Dijon mustard from France, and only from France. I have tried to buy every Dijon mustard on the shelf and there isn’t one that is spicy enough for him. We were in Paris a few months back having dinner with some friends of ours who live there. They happen to have a jar of mustard that Brendan loved…so what did they do? They packed it up and sent it home with us. Crazy thing is, this mustard was just your basic mustard from the grocery store, but it was 100 times better than anything we had here. So now that we’re home and have this huge jar of spicy mustard, I had to find things to make with it! I stumbled across this super simple, absolutely fabulous recipe from none other than Martha Stewart of course, for a chicken with mustard cream sauce. It’s so good…so easy, and is helping us make our way through the jar! I usually double this recipe to make extra sauce because one can NEVER have too much sauce. You can also play with the amount of mustard you use. My husband requested more than double the amount 🙂 Did I mention this only uses ONE pan? Perfection. Oh one more thing…I obviously found this on Pinterest.


  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth or white wine
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (Please don’t substitute half and half or milk…you will regret it)
  • 2-3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons dried tarragon or oregano. I used oregano because I love it, but you can use either.


  1. In a large skillet, add olive oil and preheat over medium-high heat.
  2. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper.
  3. Add chicken to skillet and saute until cooked through, about 10-12 minutes, turning once.  Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
  4. Add chicken broth into hot skillet.
  5. Whisk in the cream, mustard and tarragon or oregano.
  6. Cook and stir for about 2-3 minutes until sauce is thickened.
  7. I added the chicken to the skillet and continued to cook for another 2 minutes just to submerge that chicken in the sauce.

Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart, Everyday Food

Elements of Food, Fix & Freeze

Fix and Freeze Dish #2 Chicken and Wild Rice Bake

With chicken, wild rice, tart cherries and savory scallions, you can’t go wrong. This one dish dinner is a simple, convenient and comforting way to fill up on a chilly winter day. With a variety of flavors and textures mixed together, this fancied up casserole is family friendly, and freezer friendly. It’s healthy, reheats quickly and comes out perfectly! Wild rice takes a long time to cook, so make sure you account for at least an hour of cooking time for the rice. Again…no good photo for this one…I prepared this the same evening as the mac and cheese 🙂

Storage Containers: You will need two 8×8 Glad Ovenware containers. If you don’t have these, the mixture can be placed into any freezer safe containers, but Ovenware goes right from your freezer to the oven, and is reusable.

Chicken and Wild Rice Bake

Recipe: Michele Borboa


  • 2 cups of wild rice
  • 4 cups of low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup finely chopped dried fruit such as cherries, apricots or raisins
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • Juice of 1 small lemon
  • 2 tablespoons of grated lemon zest
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped scallions, both green and white parts
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup light sour cream


  • In a large pot over high heat, bring rice, broth and water to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover pot and cook rice according to package directions (about an hour to an hour and a half)
  • When the rice is fully cooked, drain any additional water from the pot and stir in the dried fruit, parsley, lemon juice and zest. Spread the rice mixture onto a rimmed baking sheet and cool completely.
  • In a large bowl, combine rice, chicken, scallions and tarragon. Add chicken mixture, cream of chicken soup and sour cream and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Divide mixture between two 8×8 Ovenware containers and freeze.

Reheating Instructions: Let casserole thaw in the fridge overnight. If you didn’t plan ahead and decide to have this for dinner last minute, simply defrost in the microwave for about 10 minutes until the mixture separates. Cover casserole with foil (plastic tops to the Ovenware are not oven safe) and bake at 375 for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 10-15 minutes, until hot.