Candy corn popsicles

The colors of candy corn, but none of the preservatives. Candy corn popsicles | Me & the Moose #meandthemoose #candycorn #popsicles #puree #coconut #sweetpotato #pear #turmeric

These treats resemble candy corn in color, but not in taste. Because candy corn is disgusting.

The colors of candy corn, but none of the preservatives. Candy corn popsicles | Me & the Moose #meandthemoose #candycorn #popsicles #puree #coconut #sweetpotato #pear #turmeric

However, candy corn says "childhood autumn" for me like nothing else. Mostly because we didn't have cider donuts or pumpkin spice anything back then. Dark times.

The colors of candy corn, but none of the preservatives. Candy corn popsicles | Me & the Moose #meandthemoose #candycorn #popsicles #puree #coconut #sweetpotato #pear #turmeric

These fruit and vegetable purees/pops are packed with seasonal flavors while also being light and refreshing since it was 80 degrees in New York last week. Also, it's always teething season in our house, so these pops are a handy way to soothe the savage beast while also getting some vitamins and good fats into him. These purees are delicious on their own, but especially when combined.

Spices like cinnamon, coriander, ginger, and turmeric make these frozen candy corn-inspired treats so much better than the original. Candy corn popsicles | Me & the Moose #meandthemoose #candycorn #popsicles #puree #coconut #sweetpotato #pear

Banana, coconut milk, and cinnamon puree (White)

Whelp, I thought I was being creative here and then I found this puree on Baby Foodie when I was searching for a different recipe. Credit where it's due: I'm sure this puree was rattling around in my brain because I saw it there originally. It's great! The author recommends microwaving the banana, but I didn't and it was fine. It also froze well. I recommend doubling Baby Foodie's recipe and using the blender for these pops.

 

Sweet potato, coconut milk, and coriander puree (Orange)

Also from Baby Foodie, this combination was one of M's very favorites when he was still eating exclusively purees. For these pops, I used a ratio of 1 cup coconut milk to 1 sweet potato, which is significantly more liquid than is called for in the original recipe, but works in these pops. I used 1 large sweet potato, 1 cup coconut milk, and 1/4 tsp coriander.

 

Pear, apple, ginger, and turmeric puree (Yellow)

2 small or medium pears, peeled
1 large apple, peeled
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp turmeric

Peel the apple and pears, if desired (though if you leave the peel on, you may not get a uniform yellow color). In a steamer basket over boiling water, steam apple chunks for 5 minutes. Add pears and steam for 5 more minutes. Let cool slightly. Combine fruit and spices in a blender and process to desired consistency.

The colors of candy corn, but none of the preservatives. Candy corn popsicles | Me & the Moose #meandthemoose #candycorn #popsicles #puree #coconut #sweetpotato #pear #turmeric

Combine purees in a tall pop mold starting with the coconut, banana, and cinnamon puree. I was too lazy to freeze them in stages, but if you're more precise than I am, you could freeze the white puree for 30 minutes before adding the sweet potatoes to achieve a cleaner color barrier. But, meh.

Yield: 4 double pops (like those pictured) or 8 single pops
 

The colors of candy corn, but none of the preservatives. Candy corn popsicles | Me & the Moose #meandthemoose #candycorn #popsicles #puree #coconut #sweetpotato #pear #turmeric

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.

Zucchini and pea mac and cheese

Zucchini and pea mac and cheese | Me & The Moose. Stovetop mac and cheese is an easy and fast dinner that is also the perfect way to add some veggies into your toddler’s diet. #meandthemoose #macandcheese #zucchini #peas #cheese #pasta

We've watched a lot of tennis this summer between Wimbledon, the Olympics, and now the US Open, so I thought it was about time to add this recipe for my favorite stove top mac and cheese with racquet pasta and little pea and zucchini "tennis balls." I prefer stove top to the baked variety because a) it saves a step; and b) at least when I make it, it's creamier. Maybe I'm doing it wrong.

Anyway, this one is easy to customize and you toss the veggies into the pasta water for the last few minutes of cooking to save even more work.

 

Zucchini and pea mac and cheese | Me & The Moose. Simple ingredients come together for a delicious meal without the preservatives and chemicals of the boxed varieties. #meandthemoose #macandcheese #zucchini #peas #cheese #pasta

Grand Slam Mac and Cheese

8 oz Pasta
5-6 mini or 1 medium zucchini
1 cup peas
2 heaping cups cheese (mixture of cheddar, parmesan, muenster, etc)
1 cup whole milk
1 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp sea salt + more to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper

Bring water to a boil. In a separate pan, melt butter over a medium-low flame. Add flour, stirring constantly to break up lumps. When butter and flour are bubbling, turn flame all the way down and continue stirring until the mixture has turned a slightly darker shade of brown (bubbles go from large to small and the color is more of a wheat/blond than white/cream). Add milk and stir until mixture thickens (texture goes from milk to cream to buttermilk). Stir in the nutmeg and mustard powder. Add cheese and stir to melt. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat. Should make about 1.25 cups of cheese sauce.

Cook pasta according to package directions. When the pasta reaches al dente (they usually give a cooking time for al dente and one for more well done), add the chopped zucchini and peas. Let cook for another 3 minutes until the zucchini loses its bite and the peas are warmed through. 

When done, drain the pasta and return to the hot pan. Immediately add the cheese sauce and stir. Check seasonings.

Zucchini and pea mac and cheese | Me & The Moose. Racquets are a fun shape and help make new veggies more relatable for littles. #meandthemoose #macandcheese #zucchini #peas #cheese #pasta

Rainbow vegetable quiche

Rainbow vegetable quiche | Me & The Moose. This quiche is a tasty and pretty way to get your toddlers to eat veggies. It also cubes easily for a finger food. #meandthemoose #quiche #vegetarian #vegancrust #brunch

Isn't she puuuurty? This dish combines a lot of M's favorite foods: Eggs, cheese, milk, and bread (or at least, something bread-adjacent). Also, quiches are basically fancy casseroles with all of the benefits (big-batch; make ahead and reheat; easily customized based on preferences; etc), but are less messy than some of the saucier casseroles and are cube-able, which means that quiche = toddler finger food. This particular quiche is so pretty that I would happily feed it to a crowd. It's also so tasty that I would happily eat it all by myself (which I pretty much did because M went on a hunger strike after I made it).

Rainbow vegetable quiche | Me & The Moose. This quiche is a tasty and pretty way to get your toddlers to eat veggies. It also cubes easily for a finger food. #meandthemoose #quiche #vegetarian #vegancrust #brunch

I used a pre-made crust because I'm lazy. I like the Whole Foods 365 frozen vegan crust. I bought it by accident once and it was quite flaky and delicious, so I've now purposely bought it a few times. The bottom crust tends to stay a little raw on my quiches (not grossly raw, but not fully cooked either) and with a vegan crust, I don't have to worry so much if something is a bit underdone. 

Rainbow vegetable quiche | Me & The Moose. This quiche is a tasty and pretty way to get your toddlers to eat veggies. It also cubes easily for a finger food. #meandthemoose #quiche #vegetarian #vegancrust #brunch

I also recommend pre-cooking the veggies a little bit, but this step isn't crucial. I just like predictability and pre-cooking means that all of the veggies will be evenly cooked. Tossing them in raw is more of a gamble, though after 45+ minutes of cooking, they'll probably be fully cooked. Probably.

Rainbow vegetable quiche | Me & The Moose. This quiche is a tasty and pretty way to get your toddlers to eat veggies. It also cubes easily for a finger food. #meandthemoose #quiche #vegetarian #vegancrust #brunch
Rainbow vegetable quiche | Me & The Moose. This quiche is a tasty and pretty way to get your toddlers to eat veggies. It also cubes easily for a finger food. #meandthemoose #quiche #vegetarian #vegancrust #brunch

I'm back on a temporary Whole 30 (more like a Whole 15) as I post this, and man do I feel like eating cheese and wheat.

Rainbow Veggie Quiche

1 large tomato
½ large sweet potato
½ large yellow squash
2 handfuls spinach
3 small purple potatoes
olive oil
4 large eggs
¾ cup whole milk
¾ cup cheddar cheese
1 9” pre-made pie crust (or your favorite homemade crust in a 9-inch pie plate)

Preheat the oven to 400. Slice sweet potatoes, purple potatoes, and yellow squash into ¼ slices. You can use a mandolin or just eyeball it. Spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet and brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Cook in the oven for about 10 minutes until the sweet potatoes become pliable.

In the meantime, combine 4 eggs and milk and whisk lightly. Grate the cheese and add ½ cup to the egg/milk mixture, reserving ¼ cup. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine and put in the fridge.

Next, using a fork, make holes all over your pie crust.  Once the veggies are done, turn the oven down to 375 and cook the empty pie crust for 10 minutes.

Remove the crust from the oven and begin assembly. I recommend putting a sheet pan beneath your crust to catch any spillover. Starting with the purple potatoes, spread a single layer over the bottom of the crust (pie crust should peek through). Then, add two handfuls of spinach. Pour about 1/3 of the milk/cheese/egg mixture over these layers and tap the quiche once to remove air bubbles. Then, add the yellow squash layer and the sweet potato layer. Pour over the other 1/3 of the milk/cheese/egg mixture. Tap once to remove air bubbles. By this point, the liquid should be even with the sweet potato layer and everything should be at about the rim of the pie crust. If not, add more liquid and veggies. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, uncovered. After 30 minutes, remove the quiche and add the tomato layer. Pour ¼ cup of liquid over the tomatoes and top with the remaining cheese. Put back into the oven for 15 minutes, or until the quiche is set. You should be able to rotate the entire thing without much movement from the contents. If the quiche is not set after 45 minutes, but the cheese on top is browning, cover with foil and check after another 10 minutes.

Let cool before serving. 

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.