Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Toddler Meals: Pasta with Beef & Veggie Sauce

As Annalyn gets older and starts eating table foods, I'm starting to explore the world of "toddler meals."  Now don't get me wrong, in general, she eats what we eat, just cut up smaller.  But occasionally (especially for lunch or on days that I work), we need healthy, easy to make meals on hand for her.  Much like her purees, I freeze them in small containers so they can be reheated quickly or set in the fridge the night before so it's thawed for the babysitter the next day.  I especially like those little 4 oz. dressing containers that come in the Rubbermaid sets... it seems to be a good amount for her lately.  Here's a recipe that I love because of the nutrition (2 greens & 2 orange veggies!) and she loves because of the taste. 

Pasta with Beef & Veggie Sauce

- 1/2 lb. ground beef
- 1 T. unsalted butter
- 1/2 c. chopped onion
- 6 oz. can tomato paste
- 1 c. diced sweet potato
- 1 c. green peas, frozen or fresh
- 1 large carrot, grated
- 1 t. minced garlic
- 2 c. water
- 1 1/2 c. kale, washed & chopped
- 1/2 t. italian seasoning
- 1 c. uncooked small pasta, such as stars or alphabets (can also use spaghetti broken into small pieces or rice)


1.  In a deep skillet or soup pot over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef until no longer pink.  Drain the fat (do not wipe pan) and set beef aside.

<1a.  Entertain the baby with something exciting like banging on metal bowls with a big wooden spoon (or chewing on the spoon which is apparently way more exciting to a teething baby).>

2.  In the same pan you cooked the beef, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add onion and saute for 2-3 minutes until slightly softened.

a little butter actually helps baby absorb the nutrients
from the sweet potatoes and carrots

3.  Add the sweet potatoes, peas, and garlic and saute over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes.  Meanwhile, grate the carrot.

4.  Add the grated carrot, tomato paste, and water, stirring well to combine.  Bring mixture to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes.  Add the seasoning and kale, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes until kale wilts and veggies are soft.  Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions.

5.  Puree in batches for a smooth sauce, or leave chunky, if desired.  Add the ground beef to the sauce.

by not blending the beef and pasta,
the dish retains some texture

6.  Drain the pasta and gently fold into the sauce mixture.  Serve immediately and/or freeze as desired.

way better (and healthier!) than those canned pasta dishes
loved by baby & Mama-approved!

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