great recipes. that your baby will like too.

Before having a baby, I hadn't thought about many of the challenges that would come along with a little one. (The crying, for example. Oh my gosh the crying. I naïvely thought that babies only cried when they needed something and if their needs were met they didn't cry much. Maybe this is the case for some magical babies out there, but not mine. I was not prepared for the crying.) One thing I did think a lot about, unsurprisingly, was food. I was barely pregnant when I was thinking daily about how my little one would not EVER be ordering off the "kids menu." I read Hungry Monkey and French Kids Eat Everything, and formed a lot of strong opinions about how kids should be eating and what is wrong with how a lot of kids in our country are fed. Now, who knows what will actually happen...I'm sure there will unfortunately be quite a few chicken tenders in our future. But nevertheless, I set some mental goals for how I want to feed W, and how I hope she'll eat. My main principle has been to try my  best to feed her whatever we're eating, as early as possible. Since she started solids at 6 months, she's tried quite a few new foods. I started off making purées of mostly vegetables (didn't have her try fruits until after 7 months) but by 8 months she was pretty much done with purées. Despite not having any teeth, she wanted to eat whatever we were eating. Fantastic! Since this is what I wanted anyway. However, there are still some considerations that must be made when planning meals. I tend to make a lot of salads, and salad greens aren't really something a toothless 10-month old can manage without gagging. But I've found a good number of meals that satisfy all members of the table. Including our dog, who gets lots of scraps these days.

{enjoying some cantaloupe // we love her phil + ted's high chair! it attachs anywhere so she's part of the fun}

{whole wheat coconut waffles // baked polenta with tomato basil sauce}

FAVORITE RECIPES. Black Bean Sweet Potato Enchiladas (Cookie + Kate) This is one of my all-time favorite recipes. I've written about it before. It's just so easy. So healthy. So delicious. And on top of all that, it's great for little ones. The sweet potatoes are so soft that they're easy for little gums to chew, and the black beans with cheese make for yummy and nutritious bites as well.

Baked Polenta with Tomato Basil Sauce (Joy the Baker) This is a delightful comfort dish. Lacking a bit on the nutrition side, but it's still a good introduction to the taste of tomatoes and basil. I'd leave out some of the hot pepper flakes, or portion out some polenta before adding the pepper, depending how your kids feel about spicy. I figure kids all around the world are eating spicy food, so you might as well try giving it to them! Also note that this dish gets really hot. Make sure to let it cool before feeding your little one. (Yep, I maybe made that mistake. Felt like a terrible mother...)

Creamy Curried Cauliflower Soup (The Kitchn) So good! So easy! Delicious for all members of the family. Also freezes well.

Market Fritatta (Lottie + Doof) This is one of my favorite fritatta recipes. Easy and delicious. And eggs are great for little mouths. (I know some parents prefer to wait until a certain age to give eggs...I subscribe to the research that indicates there's little evidence that waiting to give children certain food will prevent allergies and in fact being exposed to foods earlier rather than later may prevent some allergies. But of course do whatever you're comfortable with!)

Red Lentil Dal with Tamarind and Asparagus (Food + Wine) I make a lot of lentil/dal dishes for W. They're easy to eat since they breakdown so much, and are also a good source of protien and fiber. I really liked this recipe though, because it introduces some new flavors - tamarind and asparagus. Asparagus tips are easily chewed. W wasn't sure what to make of them at first, but started to like them after a few tries.

I could go on an on...so many great recipes! Check out my pinterest pages for more ideas!

deliciousness in denver

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1. breakfast sandwich at masterpiece delicatessen.

2. homemade mexican salad: black beans, tomatoes, wheat berries, romaine lettuce, and cilantro with a lime olive oil dressing.

3. "el gaucho" grilled steak sandwich from route 40 argentinean grille truck at civic center EATS.

4. our five year (!) anniversary dinner: buffalo mozzarella with fresh herbs and cumin from ottolenghi's PLENTY and olli salumeria's "toscano" salame, both bought at our neighborhood cheese shop.

5. corn salad for an afternoon lunch al fresco at spuntino.

6. happy + fun "evolution" wine from our awesome local liquor store.

anchovies

Months ago, I was flipping through Jamie's Italy, and I came upon a recipe that called for "salt-packed anchovies." Oliver said these were what they used in Sicily, but I knew I hadn't seen them at Whole Foods. What were they exactly? Every anchovy I'd ever seen had come packed in a small tin immersed in oil. But then, a sigh later, my mind and mouth were transported back to July 2010 in Italy's Cinque Terre when I sat in an oceanside restaurant devouring bread topped with anchovies, mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and capers, all washed down with a dessert sambuca. Whatever these "more authentic" anchovies were, I needed them.

With just a little Google-ing, I found them on Amazon, and also at DeLaurenti, a fantastic European food store in Pike Place Market.

In November, around my birthday, a few friends asked what I'd like as a gift, and my thoughtful husband responded, "salt-packed anchovies." Not surprisingly, no one got them for me. But then, at Christmas, "Italian Santa" brought me a giant can! I am a notoriously bad present-opener, but I couldn't contain my excitement for my newly acquired culinary ingredient.

Back in Seattle, I pulled out the anchovies and Oliver's recipe for pasta con acciuche e pomodoro. The recipe is full of approximations: "a big handful of raisins," "a large wineglass of red wine." Whose handful? A gigantic American red wine glass? And on top of that, I had to tackle the anchovies. They were kind of scary. Whole, headless, fish.

Once I got over my squeamishness, they weren't too hard to prepare. Chop off the tail, slice down the belly to open them up, and pull out the bones. (If you miss a few bones it's not the end of the world because they're so small that most will disintegrate when they're cooked.) The lack of specifics in the recipe, combined with my inexperience with salt-packed 'chovies, resulted in a dish that was not very good at all. The proportions were off. But the taste was there. Somewhere in there, through the intense saltyness that would have gotten me kicked off Top Chef immediately, there was a hint of an amazing dish.

A few attempts later, I think I've finally got it. The proportions are now quite different from Oliver's, but it's to my liking. And I hope to yours too.

Palermo Pasta with Anchovies, Raisins, and Pine Nuts
Adapted from Jamie Oliver's "pasta con acciughe e pomodoro"

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 Tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup pine nuts
¼ raisins
3 Tablespoons tomato purée
2 ounces red wine
6 salt-packed anchovy fillets (or 8 from an oil tin)
½ pound dried pasta (in this case you really do want to splurge on a "fancier" pasta but the type is less important - margarita, bucatini, spaghetti, fettuccine all work well)
homemade breadcrumbs

Heat oil in large, deep skillet over medium-low heat. Fry garlic slowly. Once garlic is golden brown, add raisins, pine nuts, and anchovies. Continue frying, stiring regularly, for 2 minutes. Add tomato purée and wine and stir well until combined.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente. Try to time it so the pasta is done at about the same time as the sauce. (Serious Italian cooks tell you that rinsing pasta in cold water ruins it, but I've been known to do it quite frequently. I'm working on my timing.) Add the pasta to the sauce and stir until incorporated. Serve garnished with breadcrumbs (they're missing in the picture below, but the crunch they add is really essential!).

Serves 2-3.

jury duty

I had jury duty yesterday. This was only a significant event because of the mere fact I freaked out about it. I'm not sure why I made such a big deal of it, it just made me pretty anxious. It all turned out fine; I was dismissed. How does this relate to food you ask? Well, here's the thing: once I was dismissed, I surfaced from my anxiousness and disillusioned civic-mindedness, and realized it was a weekday during the day. And I was downtown. Right by the library. I went in, and immediately inquired about the whereabouts of the cookbook section. An elevator ride and a few laps around the "book spiral" later, I was surrounded by culinary masterpieces aplenty. Where to start? I quickly grabbed Spice by Ana Sortun. I've been dying to cook one of these recipes since I went to her bakery Sofra in Boston a month or so back with my dear friend Rachel. Sortun is best known for her restaurant Orleana, which I have not had the fortune to eat at. Yet. Someday I will. Rachel tells me it's divine, and based on the deliciousness of Sofra, I'm fully convinced it's be a magical eating experience.

At Sofra, I was dying to try the Shakshuka (eggs poached in tomato with curry and pita crumb) but the crowd was too intense for sit down food, so we got pastries and coffee and ate in the winter wind on the patio. It was very French, we thought. We hadn't had our fill though, so we went back in and bought some treats for lunch. We selected some savory bread seasoned with za'atar as well as beet tzatziki and muhammara. I also snagged some cocoa spiced hazelnuts as a souvenir. Those were totally worth the $12 price tag. Honestly.

With Spice in hand last night, I set to work making beet tzatziki and prosciutto with fennel and blood oranges. The light, fresh flavor of the fennel and blood orange complimented the prosciutto perfectly. I used golden beets for my tzatziki, but they were still quite tasty. It was easy to prep, and all in all a perfect  meal to enjoy with a glass of white wine (since it's almost spring) and relax away the stresses of the week.

[I also snagged two other equally exciting cookbooks. A16 Food + Wine (from the restaurant with the same name), and the olive and the caper. I'll dive into those soon. Sometime before their 4/15 due date...]

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P.S. - Best excuse for why jury duty would be a "hardship:" Um, I have plans to travel to London, England for the Royal Wedding.