As I've posted in the past, we made the decision to make most of our baby's food from scratch. This worked out extremely well during the "mush" phase of solid eating. However, now that our daughter is a toddler, she insists on feeding herself and it quite frankly tests our patience to sit there for the better part of an hour, fill the spoon, hand it to her, wait for her to get most of the food into her mouth, fool around with it, wash, rinse, repeat. You get the picture.
One of the things I figured out early on is that you can take many of the "mush" foods and turn them into finger foods by making pancakes, loafs (like meatloaf), and meatballs or dumplings out of them. This allows her to self-feed without a spoon but has the advantage of familiar flavors and the soft textures needed to chew with only a few teeth or even just strong gums.
Here's one recipe that our daughter loves and it's reasonably easy to whip-up with canned tuna or salmon.
Tuna or Salmon Cakes
10oz (2 cans) Chunk White Tuna or Salmon
1/3 cup Mayonnaise
1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs (for filling)
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
salt & pepper
3/4 cup plain breadcrumbs (for coating)
canola or vegetable oil (for frying)
1) In a bowl, mix the flaked tuna or salmon with the mayonnaise, 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, egg, onion powder, and salt and pepper to taste.
2) Place remaining breadcrumbs in a shallow dish. Heat 1/2 inch of oil in a frying pan. To test if oil is hot enough, place a piece of bread in the oil. When bread toasts to a medium-brown, oil is hot enough.
3) Using a 2-tablespoon (1/8 cup) scoop, scoop the mixture into your hand. Form a rough ball and flatten slightly into a pancake form. Place cake in breadcrumbs and turn gently to coat.
4) Fry each cake, turning when the first side is golden-brown. Fry remaining side until also golden-brown. Remove with a slotted spatula to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
5) Serve immediately or allow to cool slightly and freeze in a zip-top bag with as much air as possible squeezed out.