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Baby-friendly Thanksgiving Recipes

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The holidays are stressful enough without having to worry about what to feed your baby.

Rather than cook separately for our guests and our 10-month-old, Clara, this year I designed my Thanksgiving menu so that several of the dishes are baby-friendly. The good news? It’s really not that hard. A lot of traditional Thanksgiving favorites are a natural fit for babies’ tastes, or require minimal tweaking.

Aside from the turkey itself (which Clara happens to love — I just chop it roughly before giving it to her), there are certain types of Thanksgiving dishes that work especially well for the one-year-or-younger set while still keeping the adults happy. I’ve rounded up some examples below. — Merrill Stubbs

Soups 1 of 6
Soups are excellent for babies with few or no teeth, and great for practicing drinking out of a cup or sippy cup. Make sure to cool soups to lukewarm before you feed them to your baby. These are three of my favorites:

Paul Bertolli's Cauliflower Soup
Roasted Carrot Soup
Butternut Squash and Cider Soup (pictured above)

Photo credit: Sarah Shatz
Vegetables 2 of 6
Anything that's tender enough to chew, but chunky enough for little hands to grab onto is ideal for babies who have started to feed themselves. Here are two good options:

Crispy Delicata Rings with Currant, Fennel & Apple Relish
Greek Mahogany Potatoes

Photo credit: Nicole Franzen
Purees 3 of 6
Purees are great for babies with no teeth!

Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese (pictured above)
Autumn Celery Root Puree

Photo credit: Sarah Shatz
Bread 4 of 6
Bread is always a good distraction for little ones. Here are two great options for gnawing/gumming/hurling across the table while the adults chew the fat:

Sour Cream Dinner Rolls (pictured above)
Shirley Corriher's Touch-of-Grace Biscuits

Photo credit: Sarah Shatz
Sweets 5 of 6
Everyone deserves a little sweetness at Thanksgiving! Here's my pick for a baby-friendly dessert that will wow your guests, too:

Apples Baked in Cider

Photo credit: Jennifer Causey
Cooking and Serving tips 6 of 6
If you'd like to adapt some of your own tried-and-true Thanksgiving favorites for your baby, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Scale back the heat. Most babies, unless they're used to it, have a tough time with spice, so cut down on black pepper, chilies, etc.

If it makes you more comfortable, you can leave out wine or liquor in recipes that call for them. Do keep in mind, though, that if you're cooking the dish for a while, some of the alcohol will burn off.

Leftovers are a godsend. Once you've calculated the amounts you'll need for the big day — plus all the turkey sandwiches and hash you'll want to make for yourselves afterwards — allow for a little extra so baby gets leftovers, too.

Don't feel you have to baby-proof every dish you serve — 2 or 3 baby-friendly options will provide plenty of variety, both for the meal itself and for leftovers.

Photo credit: James Ransom
More Great Things on Best Recipes

Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese

Serves 4

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided use

1 tablespoon olive oil

1.5 pounds yellow onions (approximately 2 large onions), thinly sliced

Kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon sugar

3 pounds Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

1.5 cups half and half

1 clove garlic, smashed

1 bay leaf

3 ounces goat cheese

Black pepper
1. To make the caramelized onions, heat 2 tablespoons of butter and the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and stir them to coat with the fat. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and the sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are golden brown and caramelized, about 30-40 minutes. If the onions get too dry, add a small amount of water to deglaze the pan. Set aside.

2. Place the potatoes in a large pot of cold, salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until fork tender.

3. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the half and half, garlic, bay leaf, and remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.

4. Drain the potatoes and return them to the hot, dry pot. Stir them over low heat for 2 minutes until they are dry. Pass the potatoes through a ricer into a large bowl. Gently stir in the hot cream mixture a little at a time until the potatoes are smooth and creamy (discard the garlic and bay leaf). You may not need to use all of the liquid. Set aside a small amount of the caramelized onions for garnish and stir the remaining onions into the mashed potatoes. Crumble the goat cheese into the potatoes and stir to combine well. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

5. Spoon the mashed potatoes into a serving bowl and garnish with the remaining caramelized onions. Serve hot.

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