The Toddler Café

toddlercafe.jpgAre you ready to venture beyond typical toddler fare? Today, Michelle Stern of What’s Cooking offers a review of The Toddler Café: Fast, Healthy, and Fun Ways to Feed Even the Pickiest Eater. Michelle also includes one of her family's favorite recipes from the cookbook - Treasure Triangles - which are sure to suit both sweet and savory cravings.
“Finally, a cookbook for fun, delicious, and healthy recipes for kids that uses an honest to goodness approach to feeding kids real foods, as they were meant to be. The Toddler Café, by Jennifer Carden, is a breath of fresh air when it comes to the world of kids’ cookbooks. I have always found the concept of standard “kid food” offensive to children. Why should they be doomed to a menu of hot dogs, PB & J, and grilled cheese, when they could be eating tantalizing recipes like those found in The Toddler Café: Treasure Triangles, Mango Fandango, Pinto Panzanella, and Knock Knock Gnocchi?

This cookbook offers fun, delicious, and creative recipes that will tempt even the pickiest of eaters. Carden encourages families to cook and eat healthy foods together, and to enjoy the process of being creative in the kitchen. The recipes contain fresh ingredients and tips on how to stock a pantry so that families can prepare these recipes on a moment’s notice. There is even an organized grocery list template in the back of the book to save families time while shopping.

My children, ages 5 3/4 and 7 1/2, stood in the kitchen with me, ready to help, as I prepared Treasure Triangles for us to eat with dinner last night. My son smashed bananas and my daughter pinched the corners of puff pastry, trapping the delicious filling inside. They took turns brushing an egg wash on the dough to make it shiny for its debut from the oven. They gazed through the dimly lit glass of the oven door, waiting for the tops of our triangles to become golden and wondering how long they would have to wait for a taste.

It wasn’t long before there were puff pastry flakes littering the top of our table and the kids were asking for seconds…and thirds…and fourths! My daughter admitted that she felt nervous to taste the recipe because it contained black beans. But she said that when she tried it, she loved it - “I don’t even taste the black beans, I just taste warm sweetness, and want to eat more! Can I have the leftovers in my lunch tomorrow at school?” My son exclaimed, “Wow! Look inside - I got the luckiest one! I can see a bean!

You couldn’t dream up a better response."

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Treasure Triangles
From The Toddler Café, by Jennifer Carden

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 bananas, sliced in rounds
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • One 15 oz. can black beans, drained
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • One 16-ounce package frozen puff pastry, 2 sheets
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack or mild Cheddar cheese
  • Egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 1 Tbs. water

    1. Heat butter in a medium sauté pan over high heat. Add the bananas and sauté until golden. Remove the bananas to a bowl.

    2. Add the onion to the sauté pan and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until clear and softened. Add to the bananas.

    3. Add the beans to the bowl. Using the back of a fork or a potato masher, mash the bean mixture to a coarse paste; season with the salt and cool.

    4. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray it with cooking spray.

    5. Unfold each puff pastry sheet on a lightly floured cutting board. Cut each piece into 9 equal squares. Place 1 heaping tablespoon of cheese in the center of each square. Place 1 tablespoon of filling on top of the cheese.

    6. Fold 1 corner of the dough over the filling to the opposite corner, forming a triangle. Using a fork, seal the edges of the dough. Arrange the triangles on a rimmed baking sheet; brush with the egg wash. Bake the triangles for about 20 minutes, until golden brown and puffed.

    Tip: Put the finished raw triangles in the freezer for 5 minutes before cooking. The colder the dough, the more beautiful the finished product.

    Our family loved this recipe, and we can’t wait to eat our way through the rest of this book!