Cooking for Beansprout, Part 2: Patty Cake Patty Cake

Meat Patties, Sliders and Meatballs | (Cooking for) Kiwi & Bean

Welcome back to my Cooking for Beansprout series, where I’m dishing up recipes that you can share with your babes. If you are the mom, dad, or caregiver of a mini person, this series is for you! If you are just joining me, check out the Introduction (and giveaway!) and this Baby-Led Weaning Primer.

Today I’ve got patty recipes! Meat patties, sliders and meatballs are perfect for beginning eaters, because (1) you can chop them into soft bite-size pieces perfect for little hands and teeth-less mouths (or even puree them if that works better for your babe), (2) you can pack them with interesting flavours (like lemongrass, ginger, fresh herbs, garlic and caramelized onions) and super-nutritious grated or mashed veggies, and (3) you can make larger adult-size versions (burgers!) for the big people in your family. They are also great for batch-cooking; I like to make a large quantity, bake them up, cool them down, and freeze them in zipper bags for quick lunches and dinners.

If you are a bit wary of grocery store ground meat (I will admit that I am), call ahead to your local butcher and ask them to grind up some fresh stuff for you. Or, if you are crazy like me, pick up a basic meat grinder (I have this one that attaches to my Kitchenaid Stand Mixer) and grind your own! If you can afford grass fed, organic or naturally raised meats, even better.

Also, forget everything you ever learned in the 1990s about the virtues of extra lean ground meats, and go for a slightly fattier cut when you can. Fat is good for babies, and definitely not terrible for adults (in moderation of course). And more importantly, a bit of fat makes the meat so much more flavourful and soft.

On with the recipes, all three of which are a big hit with the Beansprout (8 months), the Bean (3 ½) and the adults in our house. For the baby, I serve them plain with a side of steamed or roasted veggies. Older kids and adults might prefer them on a bun (burger-style) or atop a large dinner salad.

All these recipes can be easily doubled or tripled.

Thai Ginger-Lemongrass Chicken Patties

This is the perfect way to introduce your baby to the awesome flavours of lemongrass, cilantro and ginger. These also make amazing pan-fried chicken burgers, which we like to serve on a sesame seed bun spread with sriracha mayo and topped with arugula and tomato slices. Warning: do not barbeque these burgers! They are so moist (a good thing) that they fall apart (a bad thing). I speak from experience.

Thai Chicken Burgers | (Cooking for) Kiwi & Bean

To make ‘em: Sautee 1 diced onion and 3 minced garlic cloves in 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, until soft, and then set the mixture aside to cool. While it’s cooling, combine 2 pounds ground chicken thighs, 1 tablespoon finely chopped lemongrass (or the zest of one lime), ½ cup (or 1 small container) unsweetened applesauce, 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger, 1 diced avocado and a large handful of finely chopped fresh cilantro. Then stir in the sauteed onions and garlic. Form the mixture into any combination of small patties and/or burgers you wish. Bake the small patties at 400 degres on a parchment-lined baking sheet for about 20 minutes or until cooked through. The larger burgers are best pan-fried in a little olive oil or butter.

Lamb and Sweet Potato Patties

Lamb is super-flavourful and a great source of iron. My babies LOVE it. Kiwi and I love these patties too. We recently ate them for dinner with a side of homemade baba ghanoush, labneh (yogurt cheese) sprinkled with zaatar, flatbread and grated carrots and beets. Yum. One of my friends served these to her kids with a dollop of homemade tzatziki, which I think is a great idea!

Lamb & Sweet Potato Patties | (Cooking for) Kiwi & Bean

To make ‘em: Combine 1 pound ground lamb shoulder, 1 large baked and mashed sweet potato, and 1 small finely grated zucchini (squeeze all the water out after grating). Form into patties and bake at 400 degrees on a parchment-lined baking sheet for about 20 minutes, or until cooked through.

Beef, Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Cheddar Patties

Beef, Onion, Cheddar Mushroom Patties | (Cooking for) Kiwi & Bean

At 3 ½ the Bean is still not sure about mushrooms. Sometimes she will gobble them up, but most of the time she picks them out or spits them out. I’m convinced that it’s because I didn’t introduce her to shrooms when she was a wee lass, and I’m determined to do it right this time around. These patties are a gentle way to introduce the taste of mushrooms; they are mushroom-y but not overwhelmingly so. Even the Bean gobbles them up. The caramelized onion step makes this recipe a bit time-consuming (sorry), but the sweet oniony goodness is worth it! Plus this makes a huge batch of patties, including a few really delicious burgers for the big people in your family. Time well spent.

To make ‘em: Slice two onions into thin half moons (like this) and cook them in 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil until they are golden brown, soft and melty. This takes about a half hour or so. If the onions start to dry out, drizzle in a bit of balsamic vinegar. Remove the caramelized onions, and add ½ pound of thinly sliced mushrooms to the pan. Cook them until they are golden and have released all their water. Let the onions and mushrooms cool and then run a chef’s knife over them to chop them very finely. Stir the onion/mushroom mixture into 2 pounds of ground beef. Add 1 cup finely grated old cheddar and a small handful of thyme leaves (optional, but recommended). Gently mix everything together with your hands, and then form the mixture into patties (I like to make 4 adult-sized burgers and turn the rest into small kid-sized patties). Bake the small patties at 400 degrees on a parchment-lined baking sheet for about 20 minutes, or until cooked through.

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Pumpkin Pie Buckwheat Pancakes

Pumpkin Pie Buckwheat Pancakes | (Cooking for) Kiwi & Bean

More pumpkin. Because I can’t get enough of it. Can’t stop won’t stop. My kids have totally jumped on the bandwagon too, and how can I possibly deny them the pleasure: “no children, you’ve had enough squash for one day”. Continue Reading →

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Cooking for Beansprout, Part I: An Intro and a Giveaway!

Cooking for Beansprout | (Cooking for) Kiwi & Bean

I’m so excited to launch a new series on the blog today—Cooking for Beansprout—where I will share awesome recipes and tips for feeding the littlest member of your family. If you are a mom, dad or lover of a mini person, then this series is for you!

I started this blog when I was cooking for Kiwi and Bean, and now I’m cooking for Beansprout too. He’s 8 months old and VERY hungry. It’s honestly a challenge to keep up with his voracious appetite. The teenage years are going to be, um, expensive?

We introduced the Beansprout to solid food using my own hacked-up version of the “baby-led weaning” approach. Which is frankly just a fancy way of saying “Mama is too lazy to make purees.” But it’s also—in my humble opinion—the most fun and joyful way to set your child down a path of healthy adventurous eating. Watching a seven month old feed himself spears of watermelon, chunks of a sweet potato lamb burger, or pieces of thai chicken patties (and yes, I’m absolutely going to share these recipes) is truly magical.

To kick off the series, I’m giving one lucky reader the ultimate baby-led weaning library: Baby-Led Weaning and The Baby-Led Weaning Cookbook, both by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett. To enter the giveaway, scroll all the way down to the bottom of this post and follow the instructions. It will ask for your email address, but never fear—I won’t sell it or share it or even use it for my own promotions without your permission.

In the meantime, I’ve put together a little Baby-Led Weaning Primer, with a quick and dirty summary of how it works and why it is amaaaaaaazing.

And if you want to be notified when I share new baby-worthy recipes, subscribe below!

Click here to view this promotion.

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Crouching Turkey Hidden Veggie Pasta Sauce

Hidden Vegetable Pasta Sauce | (Cooking for) Kiwi & BeanAmongst parents of young kids, the “hidden veggie” debate is just about as raucous as the co-sleeping, nanny vs. daycare and vaccination ones.

In one camp are the moms and dads who think that vegetable-feeding, and food generally, should be full-disclosure, and that kids should be taught to love veggies and not coerced to eat them. In the other are parents who just want their kids to eat vegetables (darn it!) and have no issue conducting covert cauliflower operations in order to make it happen.

I fall somewhere between the two camps, I think. I serve my kids lots of fresh vegetables at every meal: steamed, sautéed, roasted and mashed. But I am more than happy to sneak in a few extras for good measure. Not just for the kids’ health and longevity, but for mine and Kiwi’s too. There is no such thing as too many vegetables. Continue Reading →

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Make-Ahead Breakfast: Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal |

Yep, I said pumpkin. Are you ready for this?

I’m getting a super-head-start on pumpkin this year because (1) I still have cans of pumpkin leftover from last year’s pumpkin mania, (2) yum!, and (3) it’s a great excuse to feed my kids squash before noon. Continue Reading →

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When Food is Terrifying

Food has long been a major source of pleasure for me. Not in an emotional eating sort of way, (although I’d be lying if I said I’ve never drowned my sorrows in a cupcake or two, or three.) More like: I derive serious pleasure from simple kitchen tasks—grating fresh beets, stirring risotto, massaging kale leaves, and grinding spices. I get joy from the spin of a smoothie in my blender, the heady scent of fresh herbs under my chef’s knife, the sizzle of a chicken thigh in my cast iron skillet. The food and restaurant sections in our magazines are invariably the most dog-eared and fingered; I spend hours poring over them, making lists of restos to visit, dishes to make, recipes to adapt and ingredients to find. Watching my kids sink their teeth for the first time into a juicy summer nectarine—it literally (and I really do mean literally) brought tears to my eyes. Food is my happy place.

Shucking Peas

So when my six month old little guy broke into hives after he voraciously devoured his first scrambled egg, I was upset, to say the least. When the same thing happened after a teaspoon of peanut butter, and then a half piece of whole wheat toast, I panicked. Food allergies?! My kid?! Whaaaat?! Continue Reading →

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Summer Recap and Fall Reset

I promise I’m not ignoring you. I will be back soon with a whole bunch of new recipes, notes on feeding my youngest little Bean (including a tell-all on his scary diagnosis), and some other fun stuff.

In the meantime, I’m still recovering from this:


And this:


Continue Reading →

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Burrata Cheese with Grilled Nectarines

Burrata Cheese with Grilled Nectarines |

It can be tough work keeping a food blog. Like when you have to eat burrata three times in one week. (1) Create the recipe—eat the burrata. (2) Test the recipe—eat the burrata. (3) Photograph the recipe—eat the burrata.  Continue Reading →

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Kale Salad with Apple, Avocado, Parmesan & Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

Kale, Apple, Avocado, Parm Salad |

We did something really really brave this past weekend, and took our brood on a five-hour road trip to Montreal. Well, I should clarify: that’s five hours according to Google maps, which doesn’t (yet, anyway) adjust travel time for bathrooming, screaming, crying, nursing, “the iPad is not woooooooorking,” snacking, lunching, bathrooming again, hair pulling and crying (mine, this time), and nursing again. Hey Google, if you’re reading: five hours pfft, try eight POINT five hours. Continue Reading →

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No-Cook Sicilian-Style Tomato Pasta Sauce

No-Cook Tomato Pasta Sauce |

I predict that you get about one paragraph into this blog post and decide that this dish is not for you. Or that, even if it might work for you, it definitely won’t please the littlest mouths in your house. I’m going to guess that if you skipped straight ahead to the recipe, and scanned the list of ingredients (resist; don’t do it!!), you’d click about as far away from here as you could go: “Oh, blech, no way not in my house,” you’d likely think, if not say out loud. Continue Reading →

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