Few things can bring a family together like a good meal.
In the spirit of hearty, happy eating this fall and winter, we're sharing select recipes from Feeding the Whole Family: Recipes for Babies, Young Children and Their Parents by Cynthia Lair.
Lair's cookbook has been a go-to for families for nearly 15 years, satisfying even the pickiest of eaters and making sure everyone leaves the table satisfied. Read on some of her delicious meal-planning ideas.
Veggie lovers’ pizza party
All hands on deck! Get children involved in the tactile fun of making individual pizzas. This recipe yields six (eight-inch) pies, so invite some friends over and make a party of it. Fresh whole grain pizza dough takes about fifteen minutes to make or you can buy premade mixes. Gluten-free packaged pizza dough options are also available.
Preparation time: 40 to 45 minutes
Makes: Six 8-inch pizzas
- 12 ounces (12 to 15) mushrooms, sliced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 large heirloom tomato, diced
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1½ teaspoons sea salt
- 3 to 4 ounces (about 24) pitted kalamata olives, halved
- 1 cup fresh basil or baby spinach leaves, shredded
- Cornmeal or rice flour, for dusting
- Marilyn’s Best Pizza Dough (page 118) or store-bought
- ¾ cup marinara sauce
- 10 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 4 loose cups)
- 4 ounces Parmesan cheese, shredded (1½ cups)
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place a pizza stone or cast-iron griddle on the lowest rack.
2. In a large bowl, combine the mushrooms, peppers, tomato, oil, oregano, dried basil and salt and toss well. In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, roast the vegetable mixture until the vegetables are soft and juicy, about 10 minutes. Remove the baking dish from the oven, stir in the olives and fresh basil, and set aside.
3. On a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal, form the dough into six at rounds by using your fingertips to make little tapping indentations, flattening and rounding the dough into 8-inch crusts, rather than pulling or stretching.
4. Increase the oven heat to 450 degrees F.
5. Spread 2 to 3 tablespoons of marinara sauce on the surface of each dough round, keeping the sauce toward the perimeter of the round, rather than the center, and leaving ½ inch around perimeter.
6. Cover the sauce with 1 cup of roasted vegetable mix per pizza, again keeping the toppings toward the outside rather than mounding them in the middle to keep pizzas from being too heavy in the center. Divide the mozzarella and Parmesan among the six pizzas.
7. Slide the pizzas onto the prepared pizza stone with a pizza peel or a flat (non-lipped) baking sheet. Depending on the size of your pizza stone, bake the pizzas one or two at a time, until crust edges are golden and cheese is bubbling, about 6 minutes.
8. If using a pizza peel, slip each cooked pizza on the peel, turn on the broiler, and raise the pizza to about 4 inches away from the top of the oven for just a minute or less. This will brown and bubble the top of the pizza in a yummy way.
For babies 10 months and older: Pick out some soft roasted mushrooms, puree or mince them, and serve.
Variation for children: Separate the mushrooms, peppers and tomatoes to roast them. Provide all toppings in small bowls and allow the children to decorate their own pizza before baking.
Lemony chicken roasted with garlic and oregano
This recipe uses the whole chicken! Save money, waste less! Plus, you can make stock from the back, right?
Preparation time: 80 minutes
Makes: 4 servings
1 whole free-range chicken (about 4 to 5 pounds)
3 to 4 tablespoons fresh oregano
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
4 to 6 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon lemon zest (from 1 medium lemon)
2 teaspoons sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
2. Cut chicken into eight parts, discarding the back, neck, and organs. (See "How to Cut Up a Whole Chicken" on page 166, or ask the store butcher to do this.) Place the chicken pieces in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
3. Remove the leaves from oregano and thyme stems and make a pile of the garlic, herb leaves, zest, and salt on a wooden cutting board. Chop together until finely minced. Coat both sides of each chicken piece with the herb mixture by rubbing it on. Get some of the herb mixture under the skin. Make sure the breasts are bone side up and grind pepper over all of the pieces.
4. Put the pan into the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 400 degrees F. Let the chicken roast, uncovered, until outer skin has browned, about 30 minutes. At this point, the smaller pieces (wings and legs) should be done and can be removed. Roast the breast and thighs until the internal temperature at the thickest part reads 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer and the skin has browned, 10 to 15 more minutes, depending on the size of the pieces.
5. Remove the pan from the oven and scatter the lemon juice over all of the pieces while they’re still hot.
For babies 6 months and older: To balance the meal, you will need a grain or starchy vegetable and something green. Steamed, pureed broccoli will work for baby, as will some mashed sweet potato.
*(c)2016 by Cynthia Lair. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Feeding the Whole Family by permission of Sasquatch Books.