Squash, chicken, and apricot puree

Squash, chicken, and apricot puree | Me & The Moose. A nice blend of fruit and veggies lend a mellow sweetness to this protein packed puree. #meandthemoose #babyfood #puree #protein

Where did the summer go? July felt interminable and then I blinked and it was mid-September. Part of me is so happy: Soon it'll be "just a sweater" weather; the beginning of a new school year feels like a fresh start for everyone; and we can finally FINALLY eat apples and squash day and night. But, we also have to let go of those lazy, meandering days; tomatoes go mealy again; and as Ned Stark likes to remind us, winter is coming. There is something undeniably melancholy about the prospect of gray days and bare trees.

So, fall is like an exercise in wanting two things at once. I want time to pass and to stand still. Incidentally, this is exactly how I feel about parenting. I can't wait for M to tell me what he needs with actual words (and maybe even get it himself?), but I want to hang onto these dwindling baby days too. I'm so proud when he learns something new, but I also miss his little mewling cries and when he used to snuggle into my chest for naps.

But alas, time marches on. Here is one last summer-centric puree to take advantage of the season's remaining produce. If apricots are already scarce in your markets, feel free to swap in dried or frozen ones (though, I'd use half because the flavor is more concentrated). Or, use super-ripe, late summer peaches instead.

Squash, chicken, and apricot puree | Me & The Moose. A nice blend of fruit and veggies lend a mellow sweetness to this protein packed puree. #meandthemoose #babyfood #puree #protein

Squash, chicken, and apricot puree

1 cup chopped yellow squash
6-8 fresh apricots, pitted (or 3-4 dried apricots reconstituted in hot water; or 2 large peaches)
1 large apple, peeled and chopped
10 oz raw chicken breast, cut or pounded into thin strips
1 Tbsp olive oil

Bring a few inches of water to a boil. Add chicken to steamer and steam for 10 minutes (or use pre-grilled/cooked chicken breasts left over from a previous night's dinner like I did; about 6-7 oz cooked). Chop the yellow squash and apple into large chunks and add to the steamer; steam for 10 minutes. Pit the apricots and add to the mixture and steam for 2 more minutes. Check the chicken and squash for doneness and continue steaming as needed. Once cooked, put all ingredients in a blender and add ¼ cup of the steaming liquid (reserve more to use as needed) and add 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Puree to desired consistency.

Cherry, strawberry, basil, and coconut milk puree

Cherry, strawberry, basil, and coconut milk puree | Me & The Moose. Cherries, strawberries, basil, and coconut milk combine in this puree that is equally delicious for babies, toddlers, and grownups. #meandthemoose #puree #babyfood #toddlerfood #summer #cherry #strawberry #basil #coconutmilk

This is one of the tastiest things I make for M. Since he's exiting the puree stage, we usually give this to him in a pouch or let him feed himself with a spoon (after which, he looks like baby Dexter). It's also incredibly forgiving and versatile. Want to use only berries or only cherries? Do it. Have lots of coconut milk to use up? Dump in as much as you want. Want to freeze them as popsicles? Freeze away (though I recommend using more coconut milk for a creamier texture if you plan to freeze them). However, you CAN NOT use dried basil in place of fresh. You could skip the basil, but really, it's the star of the show.

This recipe is also a great way to use up fruit and herbs that are past their prime, like this:

See? Not so fresh. Roasting takes care of that!

Cherry, strawberry, basil, and coconut milk puree | Me & The Moose. Cherries, strawberries, basil, and coconut milk combine in this puree that is equally delicious for babies, toddlers, and grownups. #meandthemoose #puree #babyfood #toddlerfood #summer #cherry #strawberry #basil #coconutmilk

You can also use frozen fruit (see parenthetical directions in the recipe for adjustments) when berries and cherries are out of season. Frozen fruit, in my experience, releases a lot more liquid during roasting, so I reduce the amount of coconut milk and don't add any extra water. But feel free to adjust based on what happens in your oven.

Cherry, strawberry, basil, and coconut milk puree

1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, quartered (2 cups of whole berries if using frozen)
1 heaping cup cherries, pitted (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk (1/3 cup if using frozen berries)
2-3 Tbsp water, as needed
3-4 large basil leaves

Pre-heat the oven to 350. Place the fresh or frozen strawberries and cherries on a foil or parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes. Since frozen berries are more liquid-y, aim for 20 minutes with frozen and 30 minutes with fresh. As always, check the berries to avoid scorching. My "fresh" fruit (really, my not-bad-enough-to-throw-out-but-not-very-appetizing fruit) didn't release any liquid, so I added a few tablespoons of water in addition to the coconut milk.

Once your berries are roasted, dump everything into the blender and blend until smooth. There will be tiny seeds from the berries and bits of basil. M had a terrible gag reflex as a baby, but was never bothered by either, so no need to strain.


 

Roasted strawberry yogurt

M hates yogurt. I don't know why I care, really. It's just yogurt. Except that I keep getting duped into buying these appealing mini yogurts that are both expensive and loaded with sugar and he NEVER eats them. ("But they're European, and Europeans aren't sugar addled like we are!", says my, admittedly sugar-addled grocery store self.)

The offending yogurts. #meandthemoose #roastedstrawberryyogurt #yogurt #strawberries

So, I made my own. The process is simple: Dump frozen berries (it's February, after all) onto a parchment or foil-covered roasting pan and pop in a 350 degree oven until your kitchen smells like summer. You want the berries to be mushy, but not burned. They'll release their juices (I hate that phrase, but that's exactly what happens), so keep an eye out to prevent scorching. Bitter berries are not delicious. They should look like this:

Roasting strawberries brings out their sweetness and juices. #meandthemoose #roastedstrawberryyogurt #yogurt #strawberries

Let these cool for a minute and then puree in a blender or food processor. We have some variety of Ninja blender and are a little bit obsessed. Food gets so smooth! Mix with plain, full fat yogurt (Greek or non, you pick). 

Roasted strawberry puree with yogurt. #meandthemoose #roastedstrawberryyogurt #yogurt #strawberries

The density of the yogurt made a pretty parfait shot almost impossible, but you know what? HE ATE IT. I guess M doesn't hate yogurt.

Finished! This roasted strawberry yogurt is free of refined sugar and super delicious. #meandthemoose #roastedstrawberryyogurt #yogurt #strawberries

 

Roasted strawberry yogurt

1 bag frozen strawberries
Plain, full-fat yogurt

Heat the oven to 350°. Spread the frozen berries on a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet. Bake until the berries are soft and have released their juices (that expression again, *shudder*) but are not browning, about 20-25 minutes depending on the intensity of your oven and the size of your berries. Let cool slightly. Carefully transfer the berries and juices to a blender or food processor and blend. You shouldn’t need to add extra liquid, but if necessary, add 1/8 cup of water to start and keep adding liquid in 1/8 cup increments until you’ve reached your desired consistency. Combine with plain yogurt in whatever proportions you and your little prefer.