Alce Nero Yogurt & Honey Cookies

You’re going to want an organic Yogurt & Honey Cookie from Italian company Alce Nero:

I know parents can be cautious about introducing cookies & other sweets to their toddler, but I think I’ve found one parent & tot can share together. I grab these crunchy Italian versions of shortbread from our neighborhood Italian shop, Brancaccio’s. The ingredient list is short, identifiable & organic: wheat flour, brown sugar, extra virgin olive oil, yogurt, honey, baking soda/powder, salt.

One cookie has just over 1g (1/4 tsp) of sugar, equivalent to a child’s serving of Cheerios (here kid, have a snack that won’t spill all over the floor, stroller, Mom’s bag…). The label describes them as “delicious and light, ideal for a healthy breakfast.” Cookies for breakfast, I love the Italians.

Alce Nero also makes a whole grain Farro and a Kamut chocolate chip cookie that I’ll try next, when available. Seriously, good luck finding these. I included a link for purchase on Amazon, but they are on short supply. Apparently, Mario Batali sells this brand at his palatial food court, Eataly; but, word has it that his large orders leave a scant amount for smaller city shops. If anyone spots these in the borough of Brooklyn, give me a shout!

I'll take that cookie now!


A Bean-y Baby

January 9, 2012

5-way chili, Cincinnati-style

We had another new word over the holidays: BEE, as in bean, and our toddler says it loudly and proudly. If I remember correctly, she decided she loves beans and Brussels Sprouts on the same day, which is a lot of health for one small GI tract.

For New Years Day I made Cincinnati-style chili. I first tasted this Midwestern chili last year while recipe testing and loved it.  If you are new to this style, it has a ground beef base, the unique seasonings of cinnamon and cocoa and is served over spaghetti with grated cheddar on top. This is your classic “3-way” chili. You can also top it with chopped onion (“4-way”) and kidney beans (“5-way”). It is cooked down to a thick, sauce-like consistency…from what I’ve read, also perfect for topping hot dogs.

I served ours “5-way,” wanted the full experience. My daughter ate it layer by layer–savoring the beans, tossing the onions, and shoveling in the spaghetti–while the rest of us dug in our forks and twirled for a perfectly-layered bite.

Cincinnati Chili

(adapted from

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped (reserve half for topping)
  • 1 # grass-fed ground beef, 85% or leaner
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T chili powder (1 tsp regular chili powder+ 2 tsp Penzey’s Arizona Dreaming, an ancho-chipotle-jalepeno blend)
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 T unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 T cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 12 oz dried spaghetti
  • 4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated
  • 1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, rinsed, room temperature
  1. In a large frying pan (12″), saute half of the onion, beef, garlic and chili powder until beef is just cooked. Break up beef to as fine a mince as possible.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients (through water) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook uncovered 1-1 1/2 hours, or until sauce has thickened, but is still thin enough to coat pasta.
  3. Cook spaghetti according to package directions and divide onto 4 plates. Spoon chili over spaghetti and top with cheese, reserved onions and beans.

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Pickled herring, egg salad and bad posture: 2012 is sure shaping up to be “Year of the Granny.” Since the new year, I’ve shared Shelsky’s pickled herring with my folks, made several batches of egg salad, and have resolved to go to bed in the 10pm range. I’m also up before dawn every day, so I’m earning that granny badge!

2011 took it out of me. I spent most of last year hunched over…my little person, the stove, strollers, my blackberry. I put all my energies into stay-at-home mothering with very little relief in the form of grandparents, babysitters or vacations (sometimes I’d convince myself that cooking without a toddler underfoot was very much like a vacation). Which brings me to tight budgets and living over a thousand miles from your family=really tough. But single-income economics was, and continues to be, a fun game of strategy for my husband and I. When you succeed at living simply it is a bit exhilarating. We really should run a weekend seminar on the ins and outs of stretching the dollar in this not-so-cheap city.

As for family meals last year…a little blurry since I failed t0 document most of them on this here blog; but, I cooked plenty. It was budget-conscious and heavy on the Trader Joe’s supplements. (fyi, I fell hard for Trader Joes last year. If you don’t understand the appeal of TJ’s, please talk to me. We schlep there and back on the subway like pack mules for a reason. Even though I hate every second of the schlepping part. Their canned smoked trout whipped up with Hellman’s original mayo is some of the best white fish salad I never knew I could make (granny badge earned!)

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I was really, really tired last year. We ate, but hardly slept. Facebook-ing was far easier than blogging, and there was some good stuff on TV (Parenthood, Breaking Bad, Dexter). Cooking for my family was a lot of muscle memory, but I usually found some small joy in each meal. Especially watching my toddler’s face when taking the first bite of a new food. When she liked it, pure joy, and relief. When she did not, and spat out the food, and proceeded to scrape her tongue of any lasting, horrible flavor, it still made me smile.

So 11.5 months to go to fix my slouch, create new recipes, and share the successes here. And if you don’t hear from me for an extended period of time, I sure as hell hope I’m somewhere on vacation.

Hey Dal Face!

May 21, 2011

Red Lentil Dal with Garden of Eve spinach

Since learning that BPA is in the lining of most canned foods–and not wanting to serve it up to my baby along with her beans–I’ve begun cooking more dried legumes. Specifically, the red lentil. It cooks quickly, practically purees itself and provides protein, fiber, iron and folate. Here are two red lentil recipes I gladly eat alongside my little one:

Red Lentil Dal with roots & greens

Red lentils are thickened with root veggies and get their green hue from fresh spinach (organic spinach came from our winter CSA share with Garden of Eve farm). Packs a good amount of Indian-spiced heat. Freezer-friendly!

  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 medium sweet potato, diced
  • 1 large organic golden potato, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups fresh organic spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder or Garam Masala
  1. Add lentils, potatoes and onion to a medium pot. Add 3 cups water and the salt and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook about 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  2. Add peas, carrots, spinach and spices and cook until carrot is tender and the lentils are a stew-like consistency, about 20 minutes. Stir in a pat of butter or drizzle of olive oil, if desired.
  3. If serving to baby, use an immersion blender to puree to desired consistency.

Lentil Quinoa Banana Bars (not pictured)

These bars were one of baby’s very first finger foods and could stand in for a meal in a pinch. In my opinion, they are what snack bars should aim to be–balanced nutrients, faintly sweet, unprocessed and portable.

  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 cup mashed banana
  • 5 Tbsp flour (unbleached, whole wheat, or gluten-free variety)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  1. In a 2 qt saucepan, bring 3 cups water to a boil. Add lentils and quinoa and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
  2. In a small bowl, mix banana, flour and cinnamon. Add cooled lentil mix. Spread into an oiled 8″x8″ baking dish and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. Cool, cut into bars, and store in the refrigerator or freezer. Cut into bite-size cubes if serving to baby.

(Both recipes are adapted from Baby Bistro)

Oooh Mommy! Umami!

May 6, 2011

Umami & Egg Pizza Pie

I’ll be celebrating my first Mother’s Day this year, and the cliche of eating off of a tray in bed sounds downright appealing. Not sure what my husband has up his sleeve, but do have my doubts that he could man a stove while wrangling our active 10-month old. (The “hot breakfast” is always a dual-parenting endeavor at our house).

So, that’s where this recipe comes in. Quick, yet impressive, it’s a breakfast pizza with warm, runny farm-fresh eggs and the umami paste,  Taste No. 5.

Umami is a Japanese word meaning deliciousness and is thought to be the fifth taste after sweet, salty, sour and bitter. In one tube of Taste No. 5, you get a combination of tomato, garlic, anchovy paste, black olives, balsamic vinegar, porcini mushrooms, parmesan cheese, olive oil and a touch of sugar and salt–!!! They say umami is the flavor that makes your mouth water, and what Mom doesn’t deserve that? Need I also mention it’s pizza, so Mom can eat with her hands, in bed, while someone else rubs her feet.

Mommy’s Umami Pie

  • 12″ frozen thin-crust cheese pizza, whole wheat if available
  • 1 cup loosely-packed baby spinach
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tsp Taste No. 5 umami paste
  • 2 Tbsp fresh-grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Follow cooking directions on the pizza package. Before placing in oven, carefully crack the eggs onto the pizza, spacing evenly.
  2. About 2-3 minutes before pizza is finished add the spinach, it should just wilt. Test the doneness of the eggs–you want the whites fully set up, and the yolks to jiggle a bit (do NOT over-cook, you want the egg yolk to be warm and runny when eaten).
  3. Remove pizza from oven, dot with the umami paste and sprinkle with the cheese. Slice into thirds, one egg per piece. Serve right away.

Pesticide Exposure in the Womb

Here is the link to the Times article about pesticide exposure in the womb. Basically, 3 separate studies show that school-age children who were exposed to pesticides in the womb have lower IQs. Yet another reason to choose your food carefully and cook at home more often!

When cooking for my family, I realize the benefit of organic; but, it is not always available, in the budget, or as fresh as local produce.  As the Times article suggests, I use the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists put out by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) as a guide and my recipes reflect this. In addition to organic produce, I also recommend organic dairy, pasture-raised meats, and eggs from pastured birds whenever possible.

Dirty Dozen and Clean 15

"A blueberry pincer grasp meets the World's Smallest Egg Sandwich"

Seems the last time I posted, peaches were in season–could that be right?

Georgia is nearly 10 months old with a fine-tuned pincer grasp. I’ve been busy cooking for two sleepy grown-ups and one small mouth; but, documenting it all on the other hand…

New blog rules. Less chatter, more recipes. Or maybe just recipes. And more for the finger-fooding, puree-smearing set.

Some quick stats to catch us all up:

  • Baby G is roughly 17#, nearly walking, and just sprouted her first tooth.
  • Her Mom receives roughly 5 consecutive hours of sleep per night. More than the President (I think), but less than her husband.

Grass-fed Beef Balls

Today’s Recipe: Meatballs-In-Law

Inspired by my husband’s Grandmother’s “Christmas Meatballs.” I like that the original recipe is wheat-free, gluten-free and egg-free, so I’ve kept it that way. Georgia loves to suck the sauce off the meatballs, then stuff into her mouth. Makes 20 (1 1/2″) meatballs

  • 1# 85% lean grass-fed beef
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (or gluten-free oats), coarsely ground in a coffee grinder
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T organic milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, coarsely ground using a food mill or processor
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 T brown sugar
  1. Gently mix the beef, oats, onion, garlic, milk, salt and pepper in a large bowl (using a clawed hand works best). Form into roughly 20 meatballs.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook on all sides until a deep brown, about 2-3 minutes per side; transfer to a plate. Remove excess fat from pan, leaving just a sheen behind. Add tomato puree, vinegar, Worcestershire and sugar, stirring up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil. Add the meatballs and stir to coat with sauce; reduce heat to simmer. Cook uncovered about 25 minutes, turning the balls every 5 minutes.
  3. Test meatball’s temperature on your lip before serving to an infant. Serve with some chopped up steamed vegetables.