Cheesy Rice Casserole with Peas

Best for Babies 6+ Months Old

Last weekend Chris and I took Mason and my Mom to one of our fave neighborhood restaurants, Sage General Store. We live in Long Island City, which is in the New York borough of Queens, the most diverse community in the US. (Every announcement in our subway station is posted in Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, and English.) The neighborhood is 10 minutes from Manhattan by subway and it’s very much in transition, filled with abandoned warehouses and sketchy characters in some pockets, but it’s also home to cutting-edge art galleries, a melange of luxury apartment buildings, and great restaurants. And that’s where Sage comes in.

Sage is known for a few ultra-decadent dishes, most notably its three-course bacon brunch–bacon sampler, bacon brunch pizza, and chocolate-bacon brownie. We arrived early and were fortunate enough to get a table. The place is always packed. Mason sat in a vintage highchair and had his first taste of bacon marmalade. (He loved it!) We had planned on ordering him Sage’s ultra-decadent mac ‘n’ cheese but they were out of it so I served him my Cheesy Rice Casserole with Peas instead (yes, I called ahead because the place is so popular they frequently run out of stuff).

This casserole is one of Bug’s favorites, and it’s very simple to make–a mixture of brown rice, baby cheese sauce, and smashed peas. You can also add shredded chicken or small pieces of tofu to the mix for more protein. It’s rich and delicious but it’s also healthier than the typical casserole because of the brown rice and peas. Bug gobbles it up and I think your babe will like it too.  Try it out–and ping us with your feedback!

Cheesy Rice Casserole with Peas


Organic peas, frozen or fresh
Brown Rice
Cheddar Cheese
Milk or formula
Chicken or Tofu (optional)


1. Cook brown rice according to package directions. Set aside.
2. Cook fresh or frozen peas until soft, about 15 minutes. Set aside.
3. Prepare cheese sauce from kids cookbook author Annabel Karmel’s (she makes it with 3 different cheeses, I just use cheddar).
4. Combine 2 ounces each of brown rice and peas with 3 ounces of cheese sauce.
5. Serve. Freeze extras for up to 3 months.

Baby Cheese Sauce

broccoli_cheeseBest for Babies 8+ Months Old

Today was so delish. It started with two hours of playtime with my boy before work, great coffee, and a great meeting. At lunch, I dug into a juicy turkey burger and crisp fries with one of my fave coworkers. We ate outside, it was so gorgeous today! (Normally I nibble on a salad at my desk, distracted by an endless stream of meetings and deadlines.) Then there was my superfun dinner with Mason and a glass of wine (and girl talk) with a good friend. So delish.

Dinner was the best part. Mason loved his meal of Broccoli and Beef with Cheese Sauce. My inspiration for this dish started with Mason’s new love, broccoli. I wanted him to experience the healthy veggie with one of my old loves, cheese.  I got the cheese sauce recipe from Annabel Karmel’s Top 100 Baby Purees, although I used the basic variation from her book, which only calls for cheddar. I added beef to the mix because it’s an iron-rich source of protein, and it added some heartiness to the meal.

It was all so easy to put together. I already had broccoli and beef purees, along with the cheese sauce, in my freezer. I thawed the stuff then mixed two ounces each of the broccoli and cheese sauce with one ounce of beef. Try it out — and let us know what your babe thinks.

Basic Cheese Sauce from Annabel Karmel’s Top 100 Baby Purees


1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup milk*
1/3 cup grated Cheddar cheese


Melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in the flour to make a smooth paste, and cook for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the milk, bring to a boil, and cook for a few minutes over low heat until thickened and smooth. Stir in the grated cheese until melted.

*I substitute formula instead of milk for the extra nutrients. I also double the recipe to make 16 ounces of sauce so I have extras to freeze.