Juliette was a little late starting solids, because… well, she has a big head and took some time getting the hang of balancing all that cranium. She’s a small child otherwise, so it’s kinda a lollypop effect (which has actually left her with some RIPPED abs). Luckily, she’s a hearty, happy little bug, and now, at five and a half months old, she’s sitting up like the best of ’em, so I figured it’d be a good time to start her up on solid foods.
As mentioned in the mission statement, we, as a family, do not play with bland, boring baby food. Au contraire! I know a lot of times, the pediatricians recommend starting with one ingredient so that if there’s an allergy, we will know what it is, but with both of my girls, I just started with combinations of low-risk foods. Think about what you usually see on step 1 or step 2 from Gerber purees.* Juliette isn’t the voracious eater that Hazel was, so I wanted to step up my game a little for her. With this in mind, I decided to make her MY favorite food (minus the Jersey Devil Sauce), baby style.
Juliette’s Baby Chicken Cheesesteak with Red Bell Peppers, Spinach, and Cheddar Cheese
- 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into appx 1″ cubes
- 1 tsp ghee or other heat stable oil
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/3 c frozen spinach
- 1/4 c shredded cheddar cheese
- Heat oil in a large, nonstick pan. When shimmering, add the chicken cubes and let them sit and sear. As with literally everything I put on here, you want that sear so that you can develop those tasty flavors only found in well caramelized meat, so space each piece about 1/2″ apart and let them chill until they’re white up about 3/4 of the sides. Flip them, and then let them chill until they’re cooked through.
- Transfer chicken pieces onto a plate and let them cool off for a sec. Add your bell peppers to the hot pan and saute them so that they get some nice color, maybe some black spots, ya know, make them peppers look good, give ’em some class, a little pizzaz. When you’re satisfied that the peppers have developed some seriously heightened self esteem, throw in that minced garlic, shimmy that around the pan for about 30 seconds or so, then kill the mood with the frozen spinach. Here, I like to actually add a liiiiiittle bit more ghee, but I’m wild so use your own discretion. Reduce heat to medium low and cover to thaw the spinach, stirring occasionally for moral support (and so you don’t burn the garlic because yuck. Give your baby love, not burnt garlic.).
- While you’re waiting for the spinach to join the party, mince all that beautiful seared chicken into bits. Doesn’t have to be perfect (unless you’re an imposter on this baby food recipe and planning NOT to puree this, and instead to eat it all for yourself as a big girl (or boy) chicken cheesesteak… which I respect and encourage.).
- When the spinach is thawed, toss in the minced chicken and scoot it around to combine everything into a big Jackson Pollock piece in a pan. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on there, mix to combine and get melty, then remove from heat. Add a few tbs of water, maybe two max, and use that to scrape up any remaining brown bits (you may remember, from my Mexican Stuffed Acorn Squash with Molten Cheddar and Green Onion Core recipe, that this process is called “deglazing.”) and integrate them into the yum. Let it cool off somewhat, then toss it into a blender with just enough liquid (water or chicken stock) to puree to the desired viscosity.
- To save, spoon into an ice cube trays and freeze for later.
Yield: 6 cubes (so 6 servings)
Time: Appx 25-30 minutes
Cost analysis (Aldi at Marlton, Produce Junction at Marlton):
- Chicken Breast: $1.50
- Red Bell Pepper: $0.33
- Garlic: *it’s one clove sooooo maybe like a cent?*
- Frozen Spinach: $0.33
- Cheese: $0.38
*Remember, every kid is different, and I’m not a doctor, nutritionist, any of that, I’m just your friendly, neighborhood SAHM who tries to use common sense logic to feed my kids nutritious, unprocessed food in a creative way. So far, both of my babies are still alive! However, both of my kids are also (as far as we’ve found at this point) allergy free, which an estimated 40% of children are NOT. So if your child is allergic to dairy, omit the cheese, and so forth. And I’m adding this on for safety’s sake, if you ever see signs that your baby is having an allergic reaction to food, whether it’s my recipe or Gerber’s or anything else, do NOT hesitate and call 9-1-1 immediately.