We Share Our Food

I share plenty of our hum-drum meals around this joint, but it occurred to me that folks who have a hard time putting together a lunch for the babysitter (or to send to school) might be interested to know what we send along.

It’s important to remember that we’re super duper lucky. Our son’s babysitter is his very own grandmother (although she also watches his cousin — whom she’s not related to by blood — call her a saint, if you will, please!). So, she’s very willing to give him breakfast in the morning (he leaves the house by 7, so it’s darn near impossible right now to get him ready and fed and coherent, so she just feeds him when he arrives — it works) and cut up his lunch and microwave what needs it and so forth. Not everyone has the luxury of sending reheatable leftovers, and I get that. I do. We’re lucky ducks.

That said, as Hadman gets older, grows beyond finger foods (read: is able to delicately spoon feed himself yogurt — snort), and starts eating sandwichy things, it might be helpful to see the evolution. Plus, I’ll throw in our occasional adult food-share to letchya know what Dave and I gobble down for lunches or the rare, wicked awesome “adult dinner”, or the even rarer vacation food. Y’know. Just for kicks.

So, on this particular day, the munchkin was sent with…

*da daa daa da daa daaaaa, trumpet fanfare*

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leftovers. (See awesome glass container to the right, to the right.)

*wop wop* (Lots of trumpets today.)

But, ho! (Who you callin’ “ho”?) These are not just ANY leftovers. These are what I have newly dubbed Miraculous Meat Muffins. Guaranteed to feed the pickiest non-vegetarian eater from 1 to 89. (I have yet to test the 90+ crowd.) I recently gave them to Had’s 2 1/2-year-old cousin (who, needless to say, doesn’t really eat meatloaf — which is essentially what these nuggets o’ goodness are) and she wolfed them down. THAT, my friends, is a miracle worthy of sainthood.

Guess I’m on my way.Β 

HA! Right. (We had to call them “meatballs” since she does, on occasion, eat those. But she’d been in a highly picky mood recently, so I still call it a success. ;-))

Anyhoo, along with his mini-meatloaves (2), he had a pile of frozen sweet corn*, a cheese stick*, strawberry pancakes*, a banana*, and yogurt*. We also send along his watered-down milk* since we don’t think Grandma needs to be worrying about buying organic milk. (We do provide her with a big ol’ container of organic apple juice to use as needed, but this is way easier than sending milk and cluttering up her fridge.)

* denotes organic product (or made with organic ingredients). The meat for the meatloaves wasn’t organic (but it was humanely-raised, grassfed, which is fine by me), but all of the other ingredients were…so I’m not sure where it falls on the spectrum. Maybe 90-95% organic? The FDA would probably give me the “okay”, but they’re not very stringent. I’m lookin’ at you, Michael Taylor. You fraud. (Former head of Monsanto, people.)

A couple of things about cost. Every time I hit up the grocery store, I get ONE bag of frozen organic veggies. Just one. Since we hardly ever use a full bag in one sitting, we get a nice stock pile going, and throwing it in a container (even frozen in the morning) with even some pasta (with or without butter and/or some cheese) tides a toddler over pretty well. But, purchasing a bag here and there won’t break the bank; stocking up on 5+ at a time will. They’re also great to have on-hand as our veggie sides, or to throw into stir-fry or soups or, heck, anything.

I ALWAYS have bananas on-hand. They are by far the cheapest of all organic fruit — and the sweetness factor makes them one of Hadman’s favorite. Things. Ever. Like, up there with Pigeon and Ernie and “Melmo”. Fav-uh-rit. When I buy them, they’re usually 20 cents more than the regular ol’ bananas, which I figure as being pretty inexpensive. They’re also terribly toddler-friendly. Cut ’em, eat ’em, wash hands. (That last part is essential. Blech.) Less fear of choking than apples. Plus, if any go bad (not often these days), it’s time for banana bread/muffins/pancakes! Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

The yogurt. Ahhh, the yogurt. Firstly, we only buy whole milk at this stage — and, honestly, I wish that Greek yogurt was a whole milk food (for Mama), but that’s a whole other bag o’ potatoes. (Just checking to see if you’re still paying attention over there. *wink*) I always, always, always keep a pint of Stonyfield’s organic whole milk PLAIN yogurt on hand. It’s good to cook and bake with (hellloooooo, sour cream substitute!), but also provides a fast, easy, low (as in “no”)-sugar snack for adult and child alike.

1/2 cup (or more) plain yogurt + thawed frozen fruit (cut up for the munchkin…okay, and Mama) along with any juice that may come from the fruit OR a bit of store-bought organic plain applesauce and cinnamon = yummy snack. If your youngin likes more sweetness (Had doesn’t care, but I do), drizzle a little maple syrup or honey, or the tiniest splash of vanilla – a little goes a LONG way. Bada bing.

This container stuff? That’s another story. I KNOW there’s other “stuff” in it. There’s sugar, yes. So, it’s kind of a rare treat. I search Stonyfield’s web site (their cows are pasture-raised and humanely treated, so we’re biased and buy all of our milk and yogurt products from their company, if possible) and signed up to receive deals in my email. Once in awhile, I go to their site and print off some coupons — for Hadley’s baby stuff (which is whole milk, vs. the toddler/kid stuff; it also has a tad less ingredients) AND for a handful of regular yogurt cups for Dave and I.

And considering that every time I open the refrigerator door, he runs to grab a yogurt cup — ANY yogurt cup — it’s safe to say he’s a fan. Use whatchya know.

Cheese sticks are his #2 favorite. I guess he’s into dairy? Hmm. Anyhoo, we also get Organic Valley for its support of farmers and general good-guy attitude. I recently discovered a cache of a no-name brand (there probably was a name, but I don’t recall one) organic mozz sticks at Aldi, which I piled into my cart, but I’m still up in the air whether or not they’re the same as OV or if OV’s practices are a little more to our liking. So, for now, I take the no-namers, he takes the OV. No big. Plus, it cuts the cost down big-time.

Oh, and as for his breakfast stuff. Any time we have pancakes (once or twice a week, usually on the weekends), I make a super big batch. Then, I use a big spoon to make specific “Had-sized” pancakes. In this case, I used some thawed strawberries (I almost think the batter might have bananas in it, too…mmmm, strawberry banana-ness…) to turn them into a yummy treat. Other times, I’ll mix some plain batter with cinnamon and applesauce. Still other times, it’s blueberries. (The very rare occasion, all natural chocolate chips…very rare…let’s say, Valentine’s day, along with some strawberries.) Then, I stack ’em in threes or fours, put a tiny square of parchment paper between the stacks, and freeze them about five days’ worth per bag. (I wash and reuse the bags when I can. Yes, I’m a tad psychotic.)

So, that’s one day in our life of toddler lunchiness. I’ll try to share a handful of adult lunches (not rated-R lunches, but the boring stuff that Dave and I take along) if folks are interested in such a thing. Just let me know! If I hear radio silence, I’ll get the point. πŸ˜‰

Have a great weekend, folks! Things are on the sad side over here. More on that soon, I’m sure.

About Those Balls

Alternate title: Love Me Some Balls. (I’m a 13-year-old kid, I swear to God. Or an awesome Alec Baldwin SNL sketch.)

So, anyhoo, I made some meatballs this week and didn’t really think anything of it. Pasta’s a norm around our house (like, a once-a-week occurrence). However, we usually keep it easy and vegetarian, since we’re still eating about 50 percent meat (half of our meals with/without, if you will), give or take a meal here and there.

See, when I grew up, our spaghetti or baked ziti or lasagna (we ate very little of this after a vomiting bug incident…ugh) HAD to have meatballs. Actually, almost every meal had to have meat, but we were a meat-and-potato type family. Mom was June Cleaver, only with a career. #madrespect

She worked on her meatballs for years. She craved perfection. Baked or fried? Fresh or dried herbs? How much garlic is “too much”? WHY ARE THESE FLAT HOCKEY PUCKS INSTEAD OF MEATBALLS??? It was actually a tad entertaining to observe, from a child’s perspective. We always gave honest reviews — a little hard, a little mushy or fally-aparty (technical analysis, I tell ya), no flavor — but, really, they were always good.

One day, she perfected them. Man, was she proud, and I can’t blame her. They were a thing to look forward to.

Fast forward twenty years and my stepdad now makes them. They’re far from perfect, but, hey — a man who makes dinner? Can’t complain about that.

And at our house? I haven’t made them since Hadley came along. I don’t make my own sauce (oh, yes…Mom makes her own, too…talk about self-loathing, points to self), so I just boil some salty water for pasta, throw on a pot of Paul Newman’s organic sauce, and throw a couple of salads together (a “must” for my hubs). It’s just the easiest way for us. Maybe one day I’ll be inspired to make my own sauce. And freeze extra for five future meals. Like Mom.

But, last Tuesday, I had some local, grassfed beef laying around after making chili over the weekend. I could’ve made some mini-meatloaves, which I know my guys love, but I decided to make some meatballs (along with extras to freeze for later — I’m catchin’ on, Ma!) to throw in, too. Hadley’s a carnivorous youngster, so I knew he’d like the flavor. (Yep. I called it.)

Funny thing is, I didn’t think to take pictures or anything. I mentioned it briefly on Facebook and someone politely asked for the recipe — to which I kindly directed them to the Rachael Ray recipe I altered. Apparently, even my altering would be appreciated. Who knew? Lesson learned. Note to self: Take pictures of everything I cook. Ever. Just in case.

So, here are Rachael Ray’s altered balls. πŸ˜‰ No offense, Rach.

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Apple Cobbler Thingie

Yay, a dessert recipe! Finally. Or maybe breakfast. Or snack. I love versatile recipes like that, don’t you?? πŸ™‚ Since when did this blog become a crappily photographed food blog?? Eh, it ebbs and flows, I suppose. Side note: Today’s Hadley’s 18-month birthday. Holy crap! One-and-a-half! I guess we need an update on what this kid’s doing, huh? Will do.

So, anyhoo, I borrowed this recipe from Mommy Knows but changed it around a bit. It was a frigid cold day (haven’t we all had those lately?) and I was home from school because of it, so it felt like the perfect time to crank up the oven.

I had some pretty little apples going south for the winter. See? Wrinkly with blemishes. But the girls still had life in ’em.

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Sure, I could’ve made some applesauce (not much, mind you), but I wanted something heartier and a tad bit naughty. I WANTED an apple cake of some sort. Instead, I got this apple cobbler-type thing. Just as delicious. Just, um, unexpected.

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And, yes, I’m just showing off with that self-made GIF. Get down witchya bad self!

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Gratuitous close-up — ready to be baked. Whuh whuh?? (Apparently I’m into ’90s hip hop phrases today. Roo, I blame thee! Naw, it’s all good.)

So, here’s the recipe. Of course, I added nutmeg and clove to the apple filling part (you could leave them out and just use the cinnamon, but I’m a high roller). I also highly advise serving this warm, if possible, with some ice cream. We have yet to find organic ice cream, so we’ve found a minimal-ingredient “natural” vanilla from Breyer’s that’s a very, very rare treat since it still veers from our food ethics. Ya gotta live, though. Heck, in the summer, I know for a fact that we’ll go to some burger joints (local ones, mind you) and share a cone of unknown ingredients (but quite known yumminess) with the little guy. I know, we’re rebels.

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Oh, and one final thing. When you go visit Mommy Knows, appreciate her not-so-subtle way of telling folks off about letting her daughter use a sharp knife to cut the apples. Love it! And hope you love this apple cake…cobbler…dessert.

Another Weelicious Treat

I made a yummy muffin from Weelicious back in September, and recently decided to try a different kind. I mostly make them for Hadley (because apparently he’s spoiled…who knew? As my husband recently said, “Well, he eats better than we do” to which I thought, “Huh. We eat well, but that’s probably true.”), but they’re great for grown-ups, too. Whether you need a snack to go with a cup of midday tea or coffee, or a quick breakfast option to send to the sitter, these tasty muffins have just the right amount of sweetness and spice to do the trick.Β 

Weelicious is a site dedicated to feeding kids of varying ages, although are always seem to be some good family-friendly recipes (read: you don’t need kids to eat this stuff). Let’s just say that this post could pretty much be in the form of a love letter to the mom behind Weelicious — as well as a hope that she doesn’t mind my sharing HER recipe, tweaked (not to be confused with “twerked”) a bit. I’m all about giving credit where credit is due — this isn’t my recipe, it’s just the way that I made it. Here’s the recipe she created that gave me a jumping-off point.

And here’s what I made…

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PicMonkey strikes again! (Not perked…by PicMonkey or Weelicious. Just a fan!)

These would be great with walnuts (or almonds, maybe), and I’m always keen on adding some clove and nutmeg to anything apple-laden. We kept it pretty tame for the munchkin since these are essentially his snack/breakfast muffins.

Oh, and full disclosure: For whatever reason, the muffins seemed to stick to the super-cute paper liners that I used. Maybe I didn’t wait long enough for them to cool before digging in (I tried!), or maybe it was just dumb luck, or maybe there’s a fully logical physics-based reason to the issue (I skipped out on Physics, so…yeah…). I’d just suggest a) greasing the pan as advised in the original recipe or b) expect this to happen and accept the inevitable. It seemed better the next day (not completely, but better), so it’s not like all your hard work will end up in the trash along with half of the muffin.

I also found myself (yes, folks) sniffing H’s muffin yesterday. Sniffing it. I have no shame.

Food Revolution Any-Cup Pancakes

Hi again, folks! How’s the weather? Ours is the usual winter storm, but the cold is insane — a high of 0 degrees F today. A HIGH. Throw in the windchill and forget-about-it.

Anyhoo, I’m back with a quick Foodie Friday recipe, and it’s another breakfast fare. I know; I should do some more desserts – minimal around here; the hubby would rather consume a second salad than dessert — and side dishes — which have been dull lately. Working on it. Either way, this’ll be lovely for the cozy weekend ahead!

I shared that I had made some pancakes a couple of years ago and quoted the cookbook I used (which I still love), but have found another even simpler recipe that I find myself visiting every 1-2 weeks.

The thing is, this new recipe has MEG written all over it. Winging it? Check. Casual measurements? Bingo. Easy enough to do with a toddler crawling around and between your legs? You got it (although it takes a bit of skill to juggle things and not get frustrated — just call me the master!). Written by an adorable Brit who hopes to take over the world with thoughts of healthy, delicious REAL food? Put a fork in me, I’m done.

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I’ve only made a few recipes from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, but I find myself repeating them, which is a good sign. While this one has suggestions for yogurt and mango (the first time I made this, I did use some vanilla bean Greek yogurt on top instead of maple syrup and it was insanely good; I have since returned to the good ol’ stuff, mostly because it’s a natural sweetener with one ingredient), but I’ve taken the basic pancake recipe and put my own twist on it.

Actually, I have also gotten it down to such a science that I always make enough for a) a good-sized breakfast for Dave (who eats 3-4 pancakes), myself (about 3), and Hadley (who eats 1-2…or 1 and whatever I haven’t eaten yet. The kid’s a Hoover), then b) make the rest into about 8Β +/- days worth of Hadley breakfasts. SO easy to throw a bag of them into the fridge (separated with a little sheet of parchment paper) then send a small stack along to Grandma’s when putting his breakfast/lunch/snack bag together! Plus, I hear he loves them. Bonus!

Oh, and a warning: This isn’t a terribly fluffy pancake (a little bit, but not uber heights), but pretty smooth and quite tasty. The flour you use dictates texture, as well; whole wheat will, of course, give you a toothier texture; AP (I’ve been using organic unbleached AP lately due to lack of availability of the other stuff…sigh…use whatchya got) is smoother. So, if you’re used to Bisquick, it may take a little time to get used to these. But, I guarantee it’s just as simple as whipping up some of that mixed stuff — just a little extra measuring — but is far healthier.

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By the way…not that I was bored or anything, but I tried PicMonkey and, MAN, am I hooked! If I have time to do any future recipes this way, I’ll do my best. (It’s free, unless you want to upgrade to utilize the fancy schmancy stuff and be called “Royale”…but I’m clearly not a royal. πŸ˜‰ And I only wish I was being perked by them to tell you about their site — I’m not!

Let me know what you think, either of the recipe or the new “recipe card” — or both! And stay warm with a nice, warm mug of hot-hot-hot…HOT CHOCOLATE (perhaps with a shot of suntin’ suntin’, if ya catch what I’m saying) while you’re at it.

Christmas French Toast Casserole

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For Christmas this year, I decided to make things a little easier on myself as far as breakfast was concerned. I guess with any meal, we could make things easier just with some extra planning (it goes for weekly meal planning and sticking to a budget when grocery shopping and a whole buttload of other food stuff that I’m only successful at half the time). So, after spending far too much time preparing our morning feast last year, my thoughts immediately went to french toast — casserole, that is.

Now, I’m not usually a big fan of casseroles, but the ability to make it in advance and pop it into the oven as needed had me at “hello.”

Here’s the meal plan:

The day before (I did the first three earlier before our Christmas Eve get-together, then the last before bed) —
– Cut loaf of French bread into 1″ squares
– Thaw bacon
– Dice/cube (depending on how big you like them) sweet potatoes for hash browns
– Assemble rest of casserole and allow to sit overnight in fridge

The day of —
– Turn on the oven and take out the casserole to sit for 30 minutes — Open stockings πŸ™‚
– After stockings, throw the casserole in and start the hash browns in a frying pan with olive oil, salt, and pepper, over medium-low — this should avoid any burning, and using a lid allows the insides of the potatoes to cook. If you like more brown, start higher and allow them to get some color before turning down.
– After opening the rest of your goodies, check on the casserole, stir the hash browns and cook any sausage/bacon.

If you like coffee, get that started first thing. We did tea, though, which doesn’t take long at all.

The only way that I swayed from the meal plan was thanks to the fact that my boys slept in. So, here I was…up…not doing anything…so, I started the meat and sweet potatoes earlier than I probably should have and kept them at low before serving.

The french toast casserole recipe that I used came from Taste of Home, but while I decided to throw in some extra cinnamon and some nutmeg, it made the top appear burned (but it wasn’t). So, if I make it again, I’ll do a sugar topping (maybe with a little cinnamon mixed in) but probably put most of the seasoning in the egg mixture. Regardless, here’s the recipe, in case anyone wants to try it:

French Toast Casserole

1 loaf french bread, cut into 1″ cubes
8 eggs
3 cups milk (I used whole; you could use half and half, but I wouldn’t do skim or 1%)
4 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon salt
a few sprinkles of cinnamon (or you can mix more directly into the casserole)

2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

  1. Place bread cubes in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and salt. Pour over bread. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Dot with butter. Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over the top.
  3. Cover and bake at 350Β° for 45-50 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 5 minutes. Serve with maple syrup if desired. Yield: 12 servings.

So, what do you do for holiday mornings? (You know — those days when things are crazy enough without having to figure out a way to sustain the family until that late afternoon meal.) Casseroles? Do you eat breakfast? Brunch? Do tell! It’d be great to hear how other folks juggle the holiday craziness.Β 

On that note, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! It seems to have come and gone so quickly!

What’s Good About Aldi

I’ve chatted with y’all about our Aldi grocery store before, but I made a recent stop and wanted to say that I just LOVE the place!

I haven’t been shopping there regularly, for various reasons. I was lucky enough to get a coupon for $10 off $40 spent, and with two different food drives going on at school (one for vets, another for families in need), it was more than worth a trip to see what I could pick up.

Since I last checked in with you about Aldi, they have begun carrying a handful of organic products. Sure, they’re only packaged items (no fruits or veggies), and they only pop up from time to time, but it’s better than nothin’. The occasional half gallon of milk, spaghetti sauce, or what have you. It particularly excites me because the Aldi in our area is utilized by many lower income families and elderly (and is often the only grocery store they’re able to visit), so the fact that there’s ANY availability to healthier* options gives me hope.

So, here’s what I found for my donating purposes on this particular day. When I buy for a donation, I do a weird thing (I think?) and imagine that I’m buying for one individual. Yes, yes, I know the stuff gets divied up, but that’s just how my brain works. This is for “the veteran”…

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I like to buy the stuff for a turkey dinner in case they’re able to get a turkey, so I sent along stuffing and potato mixes, two canned veggies, cranberry sauce, and fruit cocktail (for snack or dessert). For a normal day, I sent a couple of cans of soup, 100% juice, granola bars, cereal, and some mini Snickers. I recently heard that veterans appreciate candy bars when overseas; not sure if it applies here, but I thought I’d try it. I know it’s not healthy, but we all deserve a treat. Besides, the fruit cocktail (in juice, not syrup), cranberry sauce (no corn syrup), veggies, juice, and Raisin Bran were all relatively healthy.Β 

Here’s the stuff for “a family” (again, I purchased as if one family would get it all…I know they won’t, but play along, won’t you?)…

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Again, I like to put a holiday meal together, again with veggies, potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and, in this case, the makings of a chocolate pie (just add milk, which they’ll hopefully have). They also got fruit cocktail, 100% juice, two cans of soup, but also a couple of extra meals: buttermilk pancake mix with pure maple syrup (which will actually provide far more than one meal, woohoo!) and whole grain spaghetti with sauce. Additionally, I threw in some snacks: cheese and breadsticks (there was a time I would’ve been all over those), raisins, and graham crackers.

This was my first taste of the holiday giving season, and I’m feeling peaceful yet ecstatic to be able to give anything.

Oh, and of course I couldn’t leave without SOMETHING for myself. πŸ˜‰Β 

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A few cans of insanely inexpensive organic diced tomatoes (the huge the big 28 oz cans) and organic spring mix, plus some non-organic asparagus (it’s on the clean list, and since I can never find it organic, I just go with it — I like roasted asparagus too much not to get it from time to time ;-)). Not bad for less than $40 (after the coupon).

As a side note, on this particular shopping day, I had to grab a couple of items at Hannaford, as well, to round out a fun “breakfast for dinner” meal I was making for my sister and her daughter that evening. Here were what I thought of as the GOOD and the BAD of the shopping trip…

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Β Heavy cream? Bad. Horrible. Naughty. Baking powder? Great! Awesome. Nice.

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See what frustrates me? The cream was full of carrageenan (a known cancer-causer…and not Narraganset, as my spell checker insists) and several other hard-to-pronounce ingredients. What’s even more upsetting is that this is the only option I could find at the store; no organic heavy cream to be found. Wop, wop. How’s a girl gonna make homemade whipped cream for her hot chocolate and holiday desserts??

The fact that the baking powder was not only aluminum-free but non-GMO made my day. Generally, baking powder contains corn starch, which I tend to avoid BIG-TIME in my food. If I’m going out of my way to cut out the consumption of pesticides, GMOs, and the like, why on earth should I eat products laden with corn bi-products (some of the most highly contaminated crops we produce)? This is the reason that I (and many others) am so anti-corn syrup. So, here’s a HUGE win for me with this powder, considering I’ll be using it for many months to come.

So, how have you been with your food shopping lately? Or have you made any donations, small or large, lately? Give us the chance to pat you on the back for making a difference! πŸ™‚

And how did your Thanksgiving festivities go? I can’t believe I haven’t shared any recipes for the holiday, but we have a tradition of going to one of our parents’ homes. Hoping to have my own mini-celebration soon, so keep an eye out.


*When I say “healthier,” I don’t mean it in the traditional sense. Some say that organic foods are not any different, nutritionally, from mainstream foods, but in the long-term and medical senses (not the forever-obsessed-about “Nutritional Facts” printed on the packaging), I disagree. What’s less healthy than eating a food that is known to cause chronic issues or serious diseases?*

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.


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. πŸ˜‰

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

Topping (any measurements you like):
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.

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

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

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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.”

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

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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. πŸ˜‰

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.Β Β 

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:

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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!)

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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. πŸ˜‰

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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’. πŸ˜‰Β 

Perfect Pumpkin Cookies

I know you guys are jonesin’ for some sweetness after last night’s candy overload, am I right? No? Well…too bad. πŸ™‚

One of my favorite cookies as a kid were a super moist pumpkin one that my mom crafted masterfully. They were generally accompanied by a super sweet cream cheese frosting (which I LOVED, of course, since I had a sweet tooth…now, I don’t find it necessary), but I wanted to keep these as natural as possible. They’re low on the “real food” scale, but I wanted something close to the original…and, at least the ingredients were 95% organic. πŸ™‚

But, most importantly, they taste insanely close to the original. Yay! And these are super baby-friendly. Double yay!

The recipe I started with came from Live Renewed, but I made a few small changes. Like, teensy tiny.

Pumpkin Cookies
(Makes between 36 and 42, depending on how big you like them. That’s what she said.)

1/2 cup butter (softened)
1- 1 1/2 cup sugar (depends on how much you want; I used raw organic)
1 egg
1 15 oz. can of pumpkin
1/2 cup yogurt (we used Stonyfield whole milk plain…yes, whole milk)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour (we used unbleached organic all-purpose whole wheat…there’s a mouthful for ya!)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a couple of cookie sheets.

In a stand mixer (or using a hand blender; use whatchya got), cream the butter and sugar together. Any kitty assistance you can conjure up definitely helps; even if just some moral support.

Pardon the crappy iPhone pics. My camera’s on the blink.

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Add the egg…

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…and blend. (Earth-shattering stuff here, people.)

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I then added the vanilla, spices, salt, baking powder and baking soda…

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Then the flour. Try not to over-mix.

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Drop by teaspoonful onto the greased sheet pans and bake for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool on the sheet for 10+ minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. (Confession: I don’t have a large enough cooling rack to actually make cookies; just a tiny, round one. I transfer to a paper towel. I know, I’m naughty.)

Finally, take beauty shots of the moist, bouncy, only-needs-frosting-if-you-want-it deliciousness. Or not. Your call.

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Happy Halloween Hangover day, everyone! Time to hang up our hats and capes for another year…unless you’re dressing like a Pilgrim for Thanksgiving. To which I say — “Way to commit!”