A Secret Weapon

For the most part, we lucked out in the “getting your kid to eat” department. While we didn’t try baby-led weaning, we have been pretty strict about the types of foods he eats (mostly whole, real foods — not a lot of processed, but the occasional bread, organic cheddar bunny or graham cracker bunny). It’s also great that he’s at the point where we only have to make one meal (most nights) for the family, vs. ours and something for him.

When he’s not teething or in a growth spurt, KID CAN EAT! So, providing him with high-quality, “real” food makes me ecstatic. And, what’s our number one tool to help with toddler meals?

Not a cookbook.

Not a blender.

Not a routine. Not a book about eating.

Not even a recipe website or blog.

Nope — it’s these. My gray-handled, cheap-o (yet very task specific!) scissors. They’re not kitchen shears (those actually gum up a lot more than these), but they work impeccably and help to turn our feast into *poof* a fast, ready-to-eat baby-with-5+ teeth meal. 


Got an orange? Use me to start peeling the rind, then once it’s peeled, cut up my sections. Way easier to find a possible seed this way, too.

Got some meat which *may or may not* be tough? Eh, child’s play. Snip, snap, and it’s small and tender enough for a youngin’.

Want to make it easier on the sitter so the food’s relatively prepped (poor thing chases toddlers all day, the least you can do is cut stuff up pre-mealtime)? Boom. Perfectly-sized leftovers made into next-day baby lunch.

Do you have a “secret weapon” that you can’t live without? I tell ya, every time these “disappeared” during gift-wrapping season, I did the “fetch-n-mumble.” I could feel myself turning into my mother.

Thanks, Super Scissors!!!

Yo, Yogurt!

Happy Friday the 13th, y’all! As you may or may not know, every time one of these “unlucky” days rolls around, I count my blessings — Hadley was born on a Friday the 13th and he was obviously one of the luckiest things to ever happen to me. 😉 So, happy 17-month birthday, munchkin!

During a recent trip to Hannaford, I discovered that they were no longer carrying Stonyfield’s organic “YoBaby” yogurt. (The toddler version is low-fat. Our homey don’t play that. I, however, have jumped back on the bandwagon of Chobani low-fat Greek yogurt. Purely for taste reasons.) So, I finally decided to make a poop-or-get-off decision to make our own organic, whole milk, minimal ingredient take-along yogurt for Hadley to bring to the sitter.

I even made it “fruit on the bottom.” Score!


I took my mini Ball storage jars and put some thawed, cut-up strawberries (with a little juice from the bag) in the bottom, followed by a few spoonfuls of plain, whole milk yogurt. Easiest. Recipe. Ever.

You can also make it vanilla by adding a teensy bit of vanilla extract, or sweeten it with a drizzle of maple syrup. I’ve also thrown in blueberries or applesauce with some cinnamon. The possibilities are almost endless. Well…within reason. 😉

And, for a special treat, I’m sure some organic chocolate syrup (yes, it exists…stop laughing ;-)) would be cool.

Meat Muffins

We hope you and your family had an awesome Thanksgiving! I didn’t have the meal at my house, but I’ll have some holiday food posts for you in the coming weeks — so stay tuned! But, on with this week’s Foodie Friday…

Hee hee. I can’t stop giggling over that post title. But, yeah, I made some muffins…made of meat. Meat muffins.

Pfthwahahahaha!!!

I’ve made meatloaf and mini-meatloaves plenty, but realized that I hadn’t shared a recipe. Yet, every time I make a loaf, I find a new recipe to try. I finally decided to get on the muffin tin mini-meatloaf bandwagon. While it was generally the same amount of work, it was easier to just shove the mixture into an oiled muffin tin rather than trying to get a loaf to hold its shape on a sheet pan, or split it up into mini-loaves — yeck, math ‘n stuff. 😉

This is also the first time I threw in a carrot and celery…just because.

Mini Meatloaf Muffins

1 lb. ground meat (beef, in this case, but use whatchya got; this was grassfed from, of all places, Australia)
1 egg
1/2 c. oatmeal, uncooked
1/2 – 1 onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 celery, trimmed and diced
Salt and pepper
Thyme and/or parsley
Worcestershire sauce
Ketchup

Topping (any measurements you like):
Ketchup
Mustard
Maple syrup (or brown sugar)

Place a few tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Once you can see ripples, add your diced onion, carrot and celery. Season with a bit of salt and allow to soften, 5-7 minutes.

While veggies cook, place meat, oats, egg, seasonings, a squirt of ketchup and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl. Separately, mix topping together.

Add veggies to meat mixture and combine. Don’t overmix.


Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full (no need to smooth in your hands first, unless you want to). Use a spoon to spread topping on each “muffin.”

Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes (more if needed).

Serve with veggies and mashed potatoes (if you’re in a comfort food mood, which we were) or a nice light salad. Add a squirt of fresh ketchup if you like.

These are GREAT for little ones. Hadley adores his for lunch…or anytime, really. If your toddler or child isn’t a fan of veggies, this is a great way to get them to eat some carrots (and the rest of it) since they tend not to notice. But, we’re lucky, and Hadley likes veggies…he just prefers them wrapped in meat better. 😉

What’s YOUR favorite comfort food? A nice, meaty meal? A soup, stew or chili? Or is it all about the dessert?

Pouch Disappointment

Yep, it’s a Friday Foodie post, but of a different ilk. (I love that word. Ilk. Ever since I heard Dave Foley say it on “The Kids in the Hall” back in the day, I thought, “That’s a word for me.” Dork, thy name is Megan.)

I got an email the other day from my hubby directing me to this site. I then went directly to the horse’s mouth, and eventually discovered that we had three of the aforementioned recalled pouches in our collection. Actually, I was kind of relieved that it was only three, but it’s always a little disconcerting when you look at the rest of the pouches you do have and think, “Hmm…should we be using them??”

Since he was clearly on a roll, Dave then shot me a link to this video. Be forewarned: There are bugs (or baby bugs, as it were). Gross. We admit that there’s a chance (conspiracy theorists that we are) that it’s someone trying to debunk organic foods, for whatever sinister reason…but it’s just too questionable to ignore. I couldn’t stand the thought of Hadley sucking on one of those things, unknowingly eating larvae or some other such nonsense.  

See, we’d gotten out of the habit of making baby food since, well, he’s hardly a baby anymore. *sniffles* He eats mostly adult food, cut down to size, which helps a lot since we no longer have to literally spoon feed him, plus it’s great for his coordination and pincer skills. Win, win.

However, this kid is a bit of a pig. I recall my big brothers eating constantly as teenagers, and I can’t help but think he’s going to be a tall glass of water just like them. He’d eat all day if you let him. Seriously.

So, to round things out, we throw him a pouch or two each day. My mother always comments that they’re not worth the money considering that he sucks them down in about fifteen seconds flat, but I know they tide him over and we always ensure that they’re organic and not full of sugars and additives. They just help.

After seeing this, though, I’m wary. We have some pouches on hand that I know I’ll keep using. But, it looks like I’ll be using them sparingly…then returning to making baby food. I guess it’s Baby Food 201 (vs. 101…get it? Like college? *ahem*).

And in the interest of full disclosure, when I looked at these links, I became distraught at the thought of not only figuring out what to give him for regular food everyday, but to put the time back into grinding down food into a thick liquid for him to slurp down in no time at all.

Yet, I let it mull in the back of my head and put aside my stubbornness (very challenging, I might add), and immediately set off to make a few servings.

Here’s how I roll…

Firstly, for storing foods for Hadley, we use a combination of mason jars (the tiny ones are getting to be a tad TOO tiny, but I still throw some applesauce or yogurt into them as a snack) and our smallest BPA-free glass-and-plastic/silocon-topped storage containers. It works for most things, but those pouches were just so damn easy, it’s hard to ignore the fact.

Warning: Highly technical description ahead. A friend of ours gave us an awesome gift that included pouches that you set into a plastic thingamabobber where you could shmush the baby food down a tube and into the pouch. Um. Easier said than done. (And it wasn’t that easy to describe, LOL.) As Hadley’s food got thicker, the wateriest part of the baby food would leak out and create quite the swear-fest from our kitchen. I’m going to revisit those pouches to see if there’s a way to just use a funnel and be done with it; it would suck to waste those, especially since the pouches look almost exactly like the Earth’s Best and Plum’s ones we currently purchase.

But, awhile back (before he was even on mush/solids), I got a package of green goodies to review for Green Child Magazine. One of the items was a pouch with a heavy duty zip top that you could easily funnel food into called the Little Green Pouch. So, I broke that bad boy out (after a bit of hunting) and tested it for realsies (I used them back in the day, but Hadley wasn’t at that “suck independently from a pouch” stage yet).

Here’s a quick recipe I threw together:

 
Sweet Potato Apple Pouch Provisions

1 Sweet Potato, peeled and diced/chopped (the smaller, the less time it takes to cook)
1-2 Apples, peeled and diced/chopped
1-2 c. Liquid (water, apple juice, etc; we used apple cider, but use whatchya got, and depending on how thick you want it, use more or less liquid)
a few dashes of seasoning like cinnamon or cumin (optional; I didn’t use anything and it was friggin’ delicious…good enough for an adult to take for lunch as soup, I kid you not!)





Throw everything into a pot and bring to a boil, then put a lid on it (ha!) and reduce the heat. Allow to boil until the sweet potato is super soft. Stir occasionally. (We cooked dinner, ate it, did dishes all while this cooked, so it was awhile but it’s not like you have to stare at the thing while it cooks.) There will still be liquid, but you want it.


Take it off the heat and use an immersion blender (mine was a Christmas gift last year, but you can find them under $20 and they’re WELL worth it!) to puree. I did this for a few minutes to ensure that it was all wicked smooth. Add more liquid if needed. Allow to cool for a few minutes.


Then, I opened up the zipper and used a funnel and a spoon to fill that sucker up. It’s sitting in our fridge, along with the leftovers (I can refill the pouch with it as needed; this makes 3-4 servings of 5-6 ounces, depending on how big your sweet potato is).


By the way, this was a small batch because I had to use up the sweet potato and I had that brain drain goin’ on that happens to us all post-5pm (okay, some days it’s post 5am). So, multiply it as needed. 😉


These bags are freezable, too, so if you’re using this type of system be sure to leave a little head room. I also make sure that I let it cool completely before shoving it in the freezer, just because I suck at science and am never sure if something’s going to explode in there. #aintnobodygottimeforthat #thatnevergetsold

So, we’ll see what time I can find to make some more of these up. It’s pretty obvious that I’m going to look into purchasing some more “Little Green Pouches”, too. I’m not sure what other veggies will work (it feels like forever since I’ve had to make baby food, although I could count it in months) — green beans can get a tad stringy and not break down all the way, but peas are perfect. I’ve got a squash just begging to be used, to hopefully he still likes that flavor. Just take some time to experiment! At least we know there won’t be maggots or any other unthinkable crap in it. Just my cookin’. 😉 

Attack of the Porch-Eating Tomato Plants

As I mentioned recently, I’ve slacked a bit on my backyard garden this year. It’s pretty much gone to seed and ready to have its flowering trophies of my laziness pulled up.

However, the three small cherry tomato plants that I started (as a bit of an experiment versus regular flowers) next to our front porch have quite literally taken over. It makes me wish I’d taken a time-lapse video (and not just crappy iPhone pictures).



Insane. Over. Under. Through. Everything. The thing currently is that they’re still bearing fruit, so we don’t feel right just pulling them out if we can still harvest from them. I only wish I LIKED tomatoes! (My husband and the baby do, as do our parents and neighbors, so at least we’ve got options.)

I’m telling you, though, if it’s still going strong after a few more weeks, I may do some clipping, if not PULLING. Then, it’s “say hello to my little mums.”

Next year, I may put some herbs there, since my planters on the deck also failed to do much.

How about you? How does (did?) your garden grow? Does it embarrass you like ours? Seriously, what must our mail carrier (not to mention the neighbors) think?!

Num-Nums


With a name like “The Baby Bullet,” how can you NOT be on board? (But, seriously. I know the original machine was “The Magic Bullet,” but WHO comes up with this stuff?!)

Well, I always thought that we could just use our regular blender when it came time to make the little man’s baby food. After all, who has room for one more gadget? Apparently, WE DO!! Especially when it’s lovingly passed back and forth between sisters (and was originally a gift from our parents).


So, I tried out the sucker last night. I cooked a couple of small sweet potatoes (buddy’s favorite) until they were soft — you can steam, too, but I didn’t have much time. C’mon, we hadn’t eaten dinner yet and Dr. Spaceman was making his *final* appearance on 30 Rock!! (My favorite line of the night: “That’s a wrap on Leo Spaceman. Out.” Or something to that effect. Genius! And who totally thinks Jim and Pam are going to separate at the end of “The Office”???)

After some initial issues (the durn thing wasn’t turnin’ off!!! The look on both my men’s faces was priceless. My bad, had to tighten the blade), we got it whirring and, after adding some filtered water, actually came up with a product that I deemed both texturally equal and flavor-wise BETTER than the Earth’s Best stuff we’ve been giving him. And, yes, I have tasted his. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t really seem to taste that much like the food it’s supposed to be. This stuff actually tasted like a dang sweet potato. Imagine that.

Unfortunately, we didn’t use organic sweet potatoes, so this is the first thing he’s ever had that hasn’t been organic, but they’re on the clean list so I’m not losing sleep. Er, I am, but not because of this. #sleepdeprivedmama (First. Hashtag. Ever.)

We used the accompanying BPA-free containers to store the stuff; bottom silicone container in the freezer, plastic ones on top for fridge. You can even turn that little ring around to select the date you made the stuff. ‘Cuz, y’know. My memory su-hucks. I appreciate that little reminder.


I fed the monkey (how many nicknames is that now?) some of the excess from the blender and he deemed it delicious. As much as an almost-6-month-old can. Heck, he might’ve hated it, but he didn’t give me “squinty face”, so I’m calling it a success.

I was going to do bananas (said in Elephant and Piggie voice “BA-NAH-NAAAAAAS” in our house) but they’re neither on the clean list nor the dirty list, so I consider them still pretty dirty. Not XXX-tina dirrty but not baby-friendly. I can’t believe I’ve been eating nanners in an ignorant, non-organic haze. Der. Lesson learned!

But, regardless, I’m looking forward to playing around and making more nummies, especially thanks to the cost difference. Considering that the blender was free (yay!) and his lil’ Earth’s Best containers (which hold less than these) cost around .75 each (depending on where we find them), and we bought a bag o’ sweet taters for (I think!) around $3 (could’ve been less than that, with maybe 10 in the bag…could’ve been more, I don’t recall) 8 servings cost us…get this…about $.04. No, not 40 cents — FOUR CENTS. I suck at math, but even if it was 40 cents, I’d be stoked. Dude. This is crazy cheap.

It makes me feel okay about getting him only organic in the future, since SURE it’ll be more expensive, but when it comes down to the math…wowsa.

Oh, and as far as the monkey’s eating habits, he’s currently doing — “regular” feedings every 3+ hours (more time goes by when he has some extra food) with a jar of veggies in the morning with the sitter and some oatmeal mixed with a bit of applesauce for “dinner.” Next week, we’re going to have the sitter give some plain ol’ oatmeal, maybe veggies for lunch and dinner will still be oatmeal ‘n applesaaaaaauce. (Get it? Brady Bunch? No?) Yes, he eats a lot. Yes, if he eats more “real” food during the day he’ll want to feed less. I’m kind of okay with that, mostly because I’m going to pump the same amount at school and am hoping to stock-pile some more in the freezer; I’m down to ONE pouch, which will be used tonight while I go to a family wake. That will not do.

So, that’s the latest in our baby adventuring. A happy Friday to all, and to all some delicious num-nums.