How Do I Make Dinner When I Can't Put My Baby Down

Updated on March 02, 2008
S.C. asks from Riverside, CA
16 answers

I have a brand new born baby who is a little colicy and does not like to be put down. I can't use the infant carrier I have yet because he is not 8 pounds yet. I am looking for slow cooker meals or other easy throw together meals that I can make ahead of time and it will just be ready to eat when my husband gets home. The problem is my husband does not like soups, stews, or chilis. Does anybody have any good tips or recipes?

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So What Happened?

Thankyou everybody for the great advice and recipes. I have allready used one of the recipes, it was so easy, and plan on using some of the others also. I really liked the idea of making the caseroles ahead of time then just sticking them in the oven when it was time. I don't know why I didn't think of that before. Also surprise, surprise, I took my son into be weighed today and he was much heavier than I thought so I can use my carrier, but thanks to someones advice I'm not sure how much cooking I will do with him in it since I am a bit of a clutz in the kitchen. Thanx again for all your help.

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answers from Los Angeles on

...I was going to say 'left handed'... trying to be funny... butgoogle this one....Dorito chicken casserole

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answers from Los Angeles on

have you tried the maya wrap? that's what i used - and you don't have to wait for a certain age before you can use it.

i also just posted this for another request - but i am copying it here too. it's a guide for dinner from the pantry - 30 minute meals with 5 ingredients or less. let me know if you have any questions - and have fun cooking!! (there is a crockpot recipe listed towards the end too)
i used to teach a class called... "dinner from the pantry ~ 30 minute meals with 5 ingredients or less"

i'm copying my guideline below - let me know if you want me to email you the word version (might be easier to read) or if you would like some more recipes. cooking dinner does not have to be difficult - it can be quick, easy, delicious AND healthy!!! i agree with the other posts about a crockpot - just stay clear of things like campbell's soup and lipton onion soup mix. these contain msg among other things - there are healthier alternatives that i have found!! (check out

have fun cooking - and let me know if you have any questions!J.


~ Dinner from the Pantry ~
30 Minute Meals with 5 Ingredients or Less

Spring 2007

~ Helpful Hints and Recipes ~

Spending time with family over a delicious home cooked meal can be a wonderful routine unless it causes you to be stressed and grumpy – the prepping, the cooking, and the cleaning!! Before you reach for the take-out menu, try stocking your kitchen with a few essential items to ensure that dinner is only a few ingredients and 30 minutes away.

With “The Essential Tools” and “The Essential Pantry” lists, dinner is 30 minutes away!

Helpful hints to make Dinner from the Pantry:
• Pound your chicken with the Meat Tenderizer to shorten cooking time.

• When using only a few ingredients, make sure they are the best. Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Parmiggiano Reggiano cheese, fresh herbs, freshly ground black pepper, and vegetables & fruit that are in season. This ensures great tasting food!

• Keep a back-up of your family’s favorite pantry items. (ie – Sesame Tahini Dressing and Durkee Fried Onions.)

• Invest in a slow cooker. It takes less than 10 minutes to prep in the morning and guarantees a home cooked meal when you walk in the door.

• To save time during the week, get chopping over the weekend. Plan your menus for the week and chop all the veggies and meats you will need. Label and store all the ingredients in small containers, then place everything in a larger plastic bag, with the meal and prep date prominently noted. Cooking will be a breeze all week long!

• Freeze 1/2 cup measures of ingredients such as onions and peppers to make quick soups and stir fries with less chopping.

• Buy meats in bulk and freeze portions with marinade inside a plastic zip top bag. As it defrosts, the meat will become infused with the marinade and stay moist.

• Don’t throw out your leftover rice! Use it to make fried rice. Use leftover risotto to make arancini.

Dinner from the Pantry Recipes

1. Baked Cranberry Chicken or Pork

2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 4 boneless pork chops
1 can whole cranberry sauce
1 small bottle french salad dressing (red, not orange)
1 package dried onion soup mix

Place chicken or pork in Deep Dish Baker. In Classic Batter Bowl, combine ingredients. Mix well and pour over meat. Bake, uncovered, in preheated 350° oven until meat is completely cooked. (20 – 25 minutes)

Serve with mashed potatoes and green beans.

2. Crunchy Sesame Tahini Chicken
2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 (16 oz) bottle of Sesame Tahini Salad Dressing
1 cup Durkee Fried Onion Rings

Place chicken into Deep Dish Baker. Pour dressing over chicken and top with onion rings. Bake, uncovered, at 350° until chicken in completely cooked. (20 - 25 minutes)

Serve with jasmine rice and roasted zucchini.

3. Parmesan Encrusted Chicken or Pork
2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 4 pork chops
3 Tbsp melted butter
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
3 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil

Grate cheese with microplane adjustable grater to fill one prep bowl (perfect 1 cup measurement). Mix cheese and bread crumbs in medium stainless bowl and set aside. Melt butter in batter bowl in microwave and set aside. Pound chicken with Meat Tenderizer. Place chicken in batter bowl to coat with butter, then coat chicken with breadcrumb mixture and set aside. Pre-heat oil in Family Sized Skillet over medium high heat. When pan is hot, carefully place coated chicken in a single layer. DO NOT TOUCH CHICKEN until first side is browned – then flip over and brown other side. (Approximately 2 minutes per side depending on thickness.)

Serve with parmesan couscous and roasted asparagus.

4. Chicken –N– Leeks
2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
All purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, Meat seasoning, and no salt seasoning
1 large or 2 small leeks
3 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
Chicken broth

Slice off ends of leeks. Cut in half lengthwise. Cut into ½ inch moons. Break leeks up and place in large stainless bowl. Fill bowl with cold water and set aside - all the dirt will fall to the bottom of the bowl while you finish prepping dinner.

Place flour in batter bowl, add all the seasonings and mix thoroughly. Cut chicken into bite size pieces with Santoku knife and then dredge in flour mixture. Pre-heat oil in Family Sized Skillet over medium high heat. When pan is hot, carefully place coated chicken in a single layer. DO NOT TOUCH CHICKEN until first side is browned – then flip over to brown the other side. (Approximately 2 minutes per side depending on size.) As soon as you flip the chicken, add the leeks. Once the second side is browned add a little broth for moisture, turn the heat down and finish cooking until chicken is done and leeks are soft. You can also place skillet into 325 degree oven to finish instead.

Serve with roasted red potatoes and steamed broccoli.

5. Rosemary Lemon Chicken
2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 Tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
One Lemon - zested and juiced
6 Tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 Sprig of Rosemary

Place chicken in Batter Bowl. Add ingredients. Cover with lid and marinate for 10 minutes. Preheat 1 Tbsp olive oil in skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken and cook until done, about 4 minutes per side.

Serve with wild rice and roasted butternut squash.

6. Asian Chicken
2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
5 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
3 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp peeled, minced fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, pressed with garlic press
3 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil

Combine vinegar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger and garlic in batter bowl and whisk together. Add chicken to bowl and let marinade for 15 minutes. Preheat oil in family skillet over medium high heat. Place chicken in skillet and cook completely. (about 4 minutes per side depending on size)

Serve with jasmine rice and sautéed carrots.

7. Basic Tomato Sauce
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped fine with Food Chopper
2 cloves garlic, pressed with Garlic Press
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes (I prefer Muir Glen Peeled)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

In a large pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion, garlic, season with salt and pepper and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and simmer uncovered on low heat for 30 minutes. Add unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon at a time to round out the flavors.
Serve over farfalle with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, a green salad and warm garlic bread.
If not using all the sauce, allow it to cool completely and pour 1 to 2 cup portions into freezer plastic bags. This will freeze up to 6 months.

8. Spaghetti with Olives
1 pound dried spaghetti
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 cups mixed olives, pitted and halved
3 cups Basic Tomato Sauce
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes, (optional)
1/2 cup basil leaves or flat leaf parsley, shredded (optional)

In a large pot, bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil. When water comes to a boil, add pasta, stirring constantly for the first minute to help prevent spaghetti from sticking together. Cook until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes.
In a large sauté pan, heat oil. When almost smoking, add olives and red pepper flakes, if desired. Sauté for 3 minutes over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low and carefully pour in tomato sauce and simmer for 10 minutes.
Drain pasta in a colander, reserving 1/4 cup pasta water. Add pasta to the sauce and toss to coat completely. Add pasta water if you need to thin out the sauce a bit. Plate pasta and sprinkle with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and basil.
Serve with green salad and crusty bread.
9. Orecchiette with Toasted Breadcrumbs
1 pound dried orecchiette or other small shaped pasta
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 cup seasoned dried bread crumbs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 cup finely chopped prosciutto (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves (optional)

In a large pot, bring to a boil 6 quarts of salted water. Cook pasta until al dente, about 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium-sized sauté pan, heat the oil until warm. Since the bread crumbs will cook quickly, you don't want to add them into a hot pan, otherwise they can burn. Add the breadcrumbs and stir constantly. Season lightly with salt and pepper since flavored bread crumbs may already have seasoning. Sauté for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Drain pasta in a colander. Working quickly, add pasta to the sauté pan and stir to combine. Add Parmesan and prosciutto if desired. Mix thoroughly. Pour into large serving bowl and garnish with chopped parsley
Serve with tomato, red onion and cucumber salad drizzled with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.
10. Herbed Fish
2 pounds haddock fillets (or any thick white fish like cod or sea bass)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
4 tablespoons butter, melted
fresh lemon thyme and flat leaf parley (finely chopped)

Rinse fish and pat dry. Sprinkle both sides of fish with salt and pepper. Place fish in Deep Dish Baker. Mix breadcrumbs with 3 tablespoons of the butter and the chopped herbs. Sprinkle over fish and drizzle with remaining butter. Place into preheated 400° oven and bake for 25 minutes, or until fish is flaky and topping is browned. Serve with lemon wedges, boiled red potatoes with butter and chives and sweet corn.

11. Flank Steak
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves freshly pressed garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds flank steak

In a medium bowl, mix the oil, soy sauce, vinegar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, garlic, and ground black pepper. Place meat in a freezer bag and pour marinade over the steak, turning meat to coat thoroughly. Place bag flat in freezer until ready to defrost. When ready to cook, preheat grill to medium-high heat. Oil the grill grate. Place steaks on the grill, and discard the marinade. Grill meat for 5 minutes per side, or to desired doneness. (You can also use a grill pan on the stove top and follow the directions.)

Serve with smashed parsley potatoes and sautéed red chard.

12. Rich & Tasty Beef Roast in a Crockpot
10¾ oz can cream of celery soup
3 – 5 lb chuck roast
2 Tbsp Oil
1 package dried onion soup mix
One large carrot (optional)
One small onion (optional)

Cut the onion and carrot into good size chunks and layer on bottom of slow cooker. Spread cream of celery soup on top of vegetables. Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat. Season chuck roast with salt and pepper, then sear on all sides. Add to slow cooker. Sprinkle meat with dried onion soup mix. Cook on high for 5 – 6 hours, or low for 7 – 8 hours.

Serve with mashed potatoes and sweet peas.

13. Shrimp Sautéed with Bacon and Herbs
1½ pounds large shrimp, shelled and deveined, tail section left on
1 large clove garlic, pressed
1½ teaspoons finely chopped rosemary
1½ teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
4½ teaspoons olive oil
4 ounces bacon, cut into 1 1/2-inch dice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
½ cup chicken broth
4½ teaspoons unsalted butter

In a medium bowl, toss shrimp, garlic, rosemary, thyme, and oil. Set aside to marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Place bacon in a large skillet, and place over medium-high heat. Cook bacon, stirring occasionally, until almost all the fat is rendered, 6 to 7 minutes. Pour off and discard all but about 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat. Add shrimp, marinade ingredients, and salt and pepper to taste; sauté, turning frequently, until shrimp are opaque and just cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Remove shrimp and bacon, and transfer to serving dish. Add lemon juice and stock to skillet; cook, stirring up cooked-on brown bits. Cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Swirl in butter; cook, swirling skillet until butter has melted. Pour the sauce over shrimp, and serve over capellini with a garden salad.

Jennifer Warr
Independent Consultant for The Pampered Chef

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

here is an easy slow cooker recipe: Put in your crock pot a bag of chicken (legs, drumsticks, or thighs...whatever you perfer) Dump a large container of salsa, enough to cover the chicken and slow cook it all day. Serve it over hot rice (use instant, microwave if you want to).

It is so yummy...or instead of salsa use a can of cream of mushroom and two cans of cream of delicous over rice! Hope it helps!



answers from Los Angeles on

Do you have a Dream Dinners or somthing similar? Trader Joes? Costco? Half homemade is good enough. Make it easy on yourself. I know you don't have time to go through a recipe book, figure out what your family will like, shop for the ingredents... I'll take shaving my legs over all that. Try to make big batches on the weekend and freeze. Tonights dinner? Costco's frozen chicken breast, 1 jar of salsa verde, cockpot- dinner is served. Shread chick and put on top of rice or in soft toco shells w/ cheese. The 3 hr meals can wait, you don't need to be in the kitchen, you need to be with that gorgeous boy.



answers from Los Angeles on

I would highly recommend a maya wrap, pouch or moby wrap, all would keep baby close and allow you to get some stuff done.

Maybe you could send your husband to Dream Dinners or some place like that on a Sat. morning or weeknight (unless you want to do it) and put together a bunch of meals. OR if neither has the time, you can order the meals and they charge a few dollars extra for putting the meals together for you.

Congratulations on your new baby!



answers from Los Angeles on

i don't really have any cooking advice because I don't cook myself. But.. I can tell you that I have a ZOLOWEAR sling for my baby and I can could carry him anywhere in it when he was newborn whether it be while I'm doing laundry or shopping. There are differnt postions you can carry your baby up to a few years old. ITS GREAT!!!

Jes :)



answers from Los Angeles on

My baby was the same way. Although I am a big fan of the wraps and used them for laundry folding, emailing, bouncing him on the exercise ball, etc., they are not good for cooking. Imagine how badly you would feel if a tiny spot of scalding grease splashed onto the back of your baby's head. It's also too easy to forget to modify your movements when he's in there and you might hit his head on the stove while bending down to reach something out of the oven. I know that people do this, I'm not criticizing, I'm just asking that you're careful about using one while cooking. What worked for me was the "bouncy chair." I got one that vibrated and had an arch with music and toys and it kept him entertained long enough for me to pop something in the oven or to make a quick salad to go with that pizza! At the very least I was able to prep stuff and then finish it once my husband got home. The other thing I recommend is a slow cooker. Others have already shared some great recipes. You can toss everything in there during your son's morning nap and it's done in time for dinner. Brilliant. Hang in there, it gets easier!



answers from Los Angeles on

Tee hee, I don't cook! To save money and not cook, I would go to local restaurants and buy a yummy lunch special that we would eat for dinner (like Chinese complete lunch or pot pie etc.). I buy these yummy frozen stuff chicken breasts from Barber at the grocery store and then make a rice a roni and fresh vegie...easy meal.

Perhaps this isn't a recipe advice, but take it from one mom who really doesn't cook, there are other options.

Good luck!



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi S.,
Congrats on your new precious bundle! Both my babies were small and very slow growers and I had them both in my bjorn under the weight requirement. I would actually put them in swaddled facing me and keep it nice and snug. Not sure if you want to "break the rules" but it may be worth a try. Or you may want to try a sling, I did not use one but I know others that did and loved them while the baby is smaller.

Recipe suggestions - I found these cookbooks titled "101 Things to do with a ... " They have them for casseroles, crockpots, salads, bbq, tortillas, you name it. I've tried a bunch of recipes, they are quick, easy and I've loved more than I hated. One is for a crock pot Chicken Alfredo Lasagne - so good and not at all soupy or stewy. And simple simple simple!!!
Casseroles are another good option. You can mix everything up the night before while your husband is there to help or while the baby is sleeping in crib or swing. Then put in the oven the cook time before your meal.

One easy crock pot recipe for pot roast. Get a 2.5 pound roast, put in the crock pot. Pour Lipton Onion Soup Mix over it and pour in a Coke. You can also throw in some cut potatoes, onions, carrots if you want. Cook on low 6-8 hours. It is a great roast then you can shred up the left overs and mix with bbq sauce for BBQ beef sandwiches.

I have a bunch of simple casserole and crock pot recipes in word docs. If you want to email me privately your email address, I would be happy to send some to you. I'm a working mom to a 3 1/2 year old and just turned 1 year old so I've been looking for quick, easy and prepare ahead meals...

Things will get easier as he gets a little older. Maybe hubby can help more in the mean time, or eat stews and soups until you are able to take the time to cook again. You're parents now, the priorities have changed.

Good luck!



answers from Los Angeles on

Don't let your baby bully you! I understand collicy is no fun... but if you let your baby boss you... he will...

Try the swing, or maybe put him in the stroller and let him watch you. Also, there's nothing wrong with a baby crying. If you hold the baby now... there will be no change when he's 6 months. Your son will not shrivel if you let him cry for 30 minutes. Feed, change, and then don't feel guilty!!! Also, get some mylicon.



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi S.,

Congrats on your new son. There are tons of carriers like the moby wrap that you could try. At this age my daughter wanted to be held most of the time, it might be the same case. Have you tried a swing? There is a video called "the happiest baby on the block" I checked it out from the library and he talks about the 5 S's it's worth checking into.



answers from Los Angeles on

My daughter was the same when she was newborn. I bought a Moby Wrap, and it was a lifesaver. It holds the baby very securely so your hands/arms are free to move without worrying about baby slipping out. A Mei Tai would be good for this as well.

As far as meal ideas, could you and/or your husband put together some freeze-able meals while your son is asleep? Spaghetti sauce (with or without meatballs), pesto, meat loaf. Bagged organic salad/lettuce. Get a rice cooker and you can make any kind of grain side dish easily and with one hand.

Roast chicken or turkey breast is easy... you can wash it while your son is napping and stick it in the oven before your husband comes home. just rub some olive oil all over it, salt, pepper - you can even stick some fresh herbs under the skin and in the cavity if you have a couple extra minutes. Put a couple of potatoes in the oven with the chicken. Add the above-mentioned pre-made salad and your all set, with minimal prep and clean-up.

Also, if your son's routine permits this, you could wash/chop/assemble everything when your son is napping, and your husband can play with him when he gets home while you cook everything.

Good luck!



answers from Honolulu on

What I find "easy" are marinated foods.... I marinate chicken, beef, veggies etc. in the fridge over night or for a few hours in a ziploc bag, then pop it into the oven (I always line my bake pans with foil for easy clean up later) and it doesn't take long to cook....just time it so that it's just done cooking when your Hubby gets home. My family likes it. Throw in a potato too and bake that all at the SAME time. Then you have a whole meal and roasted veggies too. I use olive oil, salt/pepper and herbs to marinate, Asian marinades or bottled marinades or salad dressings... there are so many different kinds so you get to taste all kinds of new flavors.
Good luck!



answers from Los Angeles on

The two meals that my family loves are both slow cooker recipes. They are so easy & good. You start with McCormicks slow cooker seasoning packs. The Pot Roast and the Pulled pork are great, just follow the recipe on the package. The pulled pork makes really good sandwiches. They cook on low for 8 hours. Best of luck to you. It does get easier but, remember to take time for yourself to re-charge. A.



answers from San Diego on

Hi S.,

When my son was newborn and I had to hold him, I would put him in one of those baby-slings that looks like a sideways hammock across your tummy and over the shoulder. He loved it, it was comfortable for both of us and I had both hands free, plus he could look up at me and I could look down at him. The only thing to be careful is to be aware of the space you need between you and the counter so you don't bump into baby too often. It's also nice because you can sit down and get up and when you sit then the baby is just resting on your lap but your hands are still free.



answers from Las Vegas on

Hi S.,

Congratulations on your new baby boy! My daughter was a little colicky too and we spent many hours walking the hallway with her. She liked the swing, but prefered to be held. Our Dr recommended a vibrating baby seat, like the Fisher Price Papasan. It worked for friends who had a baby around the same time, but ours didn't care for it. Just a thought, though. :) This too shall pass!! :) :)

I love They have a great database and you can search by cooking method if you'd like. What I like about the site is members can vote and comment on the recipes so you can get an idea before you try something. I haven't found a bad recipe yet!! I use the slow cooker recipes alot as well, just easier to do!

Good Luck,
A. :)

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