Make Your Own Baby Food!

Making baby food is a snap with the proper prep and a dash of know-how. Try these dishes from Baby Love, a cookbook by MSNBC's chief Washington correspondent, Norah O'Donnell, and her husband, chef Geoff Tracy, parents of three little ones. Bon app?tit!

  • Photographs by Timothy Devine. Baby Love by Norah O'Donnell and Chef Geoff Tracy. Copyright 2010 by Norah O'Donnell and Chef Geoff Tracy. Reprinted with permission by St. Martin's Griffin.

    Strawberry-Banana-Pineapple Soup (10+ Months)

    INGREDIENTS
    1? lbs. fresh or frozen strawberries
    3 bananas
    ? pineapple
    1 cup water

    1. Remove strawberry stems and then wash the berries. Slice each banana into 4 to 6 pieces. Cut the pineapple into berry-size chunks.

    2. Put everything into a 4-quart pot and cook, covered, on high for about 6 minutes, stirring once. Carefully pour the mixture from the pot into a strainer with a bowl underneath to save the juice.

    3. Pour the cooked fruit into a blender. Puree until smooth using ? to ? cup juice to adjust consistency.

    4. Pour into two ice cube trays, and cool. Wrap, freeze, and defrost cubes as needed. Yield: 3? cups

    Chef Geoff's Notes: Bananas are the perfect food -- they're packed with potassium. If you have a few that are ripening too fast, simply peel and freeze them to cook with later.

    Baby Love by Norah O'Donnell and Chef Geoff Tracy. Copyright ?2010 by Norah O'Donnell and Chef Geoff Tracy. Reprinted with permission by St. Martin's Griffin.

  • Photographs by Timothy Devine. Baby Love by Norah O'Donnell and Chef Geoff Tracy. Copyright 2010 by Norah O'Donnell and Chef Geoff Tracy. Reprinted with permission by St. Martin's Griffin.

    Mini Shells 'n' Cheese (10+ Months)

    INGREDIENTS
    4 Tbs. butter, cut into cubes
    ? cup finely chopped yellow onion
    ? cup all-purpose flour
    2 cups milk, hot
    1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
    8 oz. mild cheddar cheese, grated
    1 splash hot sauce (baby won't even notice!)
    6 cups cooked pasta such as mini shells or orzo

    1. In a 4-quart pot, cook butter and onions over medium heat until onions become soft and translucent. Add flour and cook, continually stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add hot milk, whisking thoroughly to avoid any clumping.

    2. Bring to a boil, whisking often to prevent burning. When milk has thickened, reduce heat, add nutmeg, and simmer about 5 minutes while continuing to whisk periodically.

    3. Whisk in cheddar cheese. Simmer an additional 2 minutes and add hot sauce. Combine hot pasta and sauce. Keeps for up to a week in the fridge. Yield: 6 1/2 cups

    Chef Geoff's Notes: This cheese sauce is a variation of a classic thickened cream sauce called b?chamel. For more nutrients, toss in veggies such as broccoli, tomatoes, and peas.

    Baby Love by Norah O'Donnell and Chef Geoff Tracy. Copyright ?2010 by Norah O'Donnell and Chef Geoff Tracy. Reprinted with permission by St. Martin's Griffin.

  • Photographs by Timothy Devine. Baby Love by Norah O'Donnell and Chef Geoff Tracy. Copyright 2010 by Norah O'Donnell and Chef Geoff Tracy. Reprinted with permission by St. Martin's Griffin.

    Carrot-and-Ginger Puree (8+ Months)

    INGREDIENTS
    2? cups water
    1? lbs. carrots
    1 Tbs. peeled and minced fresh ginger

    1. Pour the water into a 4-quart pot and set over high heat. Wash and peel the carrots. Cut off the stems and discard. Slice the carrots lengthwise and then slice each length into 8 or 10 pieces.

    2. Add the carrots and ginger to the boiling water and cook 6 to 8 minutes. The carrots should be tender but not mushy. Puree both the water and the veggies in a blender in small batches.

    3. Pour mixture into two ice cube trays; allow to cool. Wrap, freeze, and defrost as needed. Yield: 3 cups

    Chef Geoff's Notes: Freshly grated ginger is a great way to subtly enhance baby food. For a more grown-up option, add a bit more ginger and a dollop of sour cream.

    Baby Love by Norah O'Donnell and Chef Geoff Tracy. Copyright ?2010 by Norah O'Donnell and Chef Geoff Tracy. Reprinted with permission by St. Martin's Griffin.

  • Photographs by Timothy Devine. Baby Love by Norah O'Donnell and Chef Geoff Tracy. Copyright 2010 by Norah O'Donnell and Chef Geoff Tracy. Reprinted with permission by St. Martin's Griffin.

    P.E.A. (Pea, Edamame, and Apple; 8+ Months)

    INGREDIENTS
    ? lb. frozen peas
    ? lb. frozen edamame (pre-shelled soybeans)
    2 apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
    1 cup apple juice

    1. Fill a 4-quart pot halfway with water. Bring the water to a rolling boil over high heat. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with cold water and as many ice cubes as possible.

    2. Pour peas and edamame into a colander. Run cool water over them to get rid of any ice crystals. Add the rinsed peas and edamame, as well as the sliced apple, to the boiling water. Cook for 3 minutes on high heat.

    3. Pour peas, edamame, and apple into colander. Run cold water over the fruit and veggies, then dump them into the ice bath and allow them to chill for 3 minutes. Pour them back into the colander and carefully remove any remaining chunks of ice.

    4. Puree in blender with apple juice until smooth. Pour the mixture into two ice cube trays. Wrap, freeze, and defrost as needed. Yield: 4 cups

    Chef Geoff's Notes: The first time I made this, I used only edamame. It was a total dud. Once I balanced it out with the sweetness of peas and apples, my kids gobbled it up!

    Baby Love by Norah O'Donnell and Chef Geoff Tracy. Copyright ?2010 by Norah O'Donnell and Chef Geoff Tracy. Reprinted with permission by St. Martin's Griffin.

  • Photographs by Timothy Devine. Baby Love by Norah O'Donnell and Chef Geoff Tracy. Copyright 2010 by Norah O'Donnell and Chef Geoff Tracy. Reprinted with permission by St. Martin's Griffin.

    Cinnamon-Apple Oatmeal (8+ Months)

    INGREDIENTS
    4 apples
    ? cup golden raisins
    ? tsp. ground cinnamon
    1? cups water or apple juice
    ? cup uncooked baby oatmeal

    1. Wash, peel, core, and halve the apples. Cut each half into 6 pieces. Place the apple, raisins, cinnamon, and water into a 4-quart pot.

    2. Cook apple mixture over high heat, covered, for about 7 minutes, stirring once. Add the oatmeal and cook for 1 additional minute, stirring the mixture continually.

    3. Transfer everything into the blender. Puree until smooth. Pour into two ice cube trays and allow to cool. Wrap and freeze. Defrost as needed and serve. Yield: 3 cups

    Chef Geoff's Notes: Gentle, aromatic spices like cinnamon make food extra tasty. Even 8-month-olds appreciate a break from blandness!

    Originally published in the March 2011 issue of American Baby magazine.

    Baby Love by Norah O'Donnell and Chef Geoff Tracy. Copyright ?2010 by Norah O'Donnell and Chef Geoff Tracy. Reprinted with permission by St. Martin's Griffin.