Thursday, October 13, 2011

Lunchtime Favorites: Pumpkin Mac


Ask any kid about their list of favorite foods, and mac'n'cheese is bound to be somewhere near the top.  I have come up with this cheesy, pumpkiny, and tasty homemade macaroni and cheese sure to make your kid smile.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cooked pumpkin (I used a pie pumpkin, but butternut squash or acorn squash would work well also.)
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • sprinkle of parsley
  • 1 cup cooked pasta
  • cooked cubed chicken (optional)
Steps:

Cut the stem off of your pumpkin or squash.



Cut the pumpkin (butternut or acorn squash) in half.  I find that it helps to microwave it for a minute or two first.


Using a spoon (or clean hands) scoop out the seeds into a bowl, and save them for later.


Place the pumpkin pieces face down on a cookie sheet with sides (or a cake pan would work as well.)

Pour an inch or so of water in the pan.

Place the pumpkin into a 350 degree F oven.


Bake for 30 minutes or until the outer shell looks puckery, and the "meat" is tender.

When the pumpkin (or squash) is cooked, remove from oven, and allow to cool.

When cooled, scoop out 1/2 cup for mac.

Scoop out the remainder, and keep in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

In a medium pot, combine the pumpkin, cheese, milk, onion powder, parsley, and chicken (if desired.)

Over low heat, stir until combined.

Add the cooked pasta, and stir until the pasta is completely covered.

Mmmm.... yummy, healthy, kid and mom pleasing pumpkin mac!

                             ******
But wait, don't forget about those seeds that you set aside for later.  Using those seeds, create a yummy, healthy snack!

Steps:

Wash the seeds.  Make sure to remove all of the pulp.

Pat the seeds dry with a paper towel.

Season how you would like.

I seasoned mine with a bit of soy sauce mixed with ground ginger, nutmeg, and about a teaspoon of brown sugar.  You can go with just some salt.  Or you can go the sweet route; try cinnamon and sugar.

Spread in a single layer on a greased cookie sheet, and bake in a 325 degree F oven for 40 minutes.

Yum!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Lunch-time Favorites: Spinach pizza

When I make pizza, I reserve a bit of dough so that I can make itty-bitty (about 3 inches in diameter) pizza crusts for my toddler.  However, if making pizza dough is not  your thing, an english muffin would work just as well.

This pizza was a hit with my little one!

Ingredients:


  • 1/3 cup frozen (you could use fresh if you wish) spinach
  • 1 teaspoon parmesan and romano cheese blend
  • 1 tablespoon grated mozzarella and provolone cheese blend
  • 1/4 teaspoon italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
Steps:

Cook the spinach according to the directions on the package (if using frozen.)

When the spinach is cooked, drain then return the spinach to the pot.

Add the cheeses and spices to the spinach.

Stir until melted.

Spoon the mixture onto a warm crust.

Cut and enjoy!!!

                                                                 

                                                                    ******

This pizza is also delicious when topped with cooked frozen vegetables that have been chopped up in the blender, then mixed with cheese.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sweet Hash Browns

Last night we had brinner, (you know, breakfast for dinner) we had banana pancakes, eggs, and hash browns.  All were suitable for my little princess, except for the hash browns.  So I decided to come up with my own version of hash browns just for my little one, so that she was able to have exactly what we were having.

Ingredients:


  • 1/4 cup grated zucchini
  • 1/4 cup grated sweet potato
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure maple syrup (make sure that your baby is at least over 1 year old, and that you have checked with your baby's doctor)
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baby cereal (flour would work as well)


Steps:

Heat a small pan over medium heat.

Spray pan with cooking spray.

Combine the zucchini, sweet potato, nutmeg, cinnamon, baby cereal and maple syrup.

Mix throughly.

Pat mixture into a 1/2" thick patty.

Cook on each side for 3-4 minutes.


Your toddler will love this yummy (and nutritious) treat!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

One of the Best Choices I've Made For Baby: Cloth Diapering How-To

I have written this follow up to my previous article, One of the Best Choices I've Made For Baby Is..., as a how-to on cloth diapering.  I will take you step-by-step on how to cloth diaper your baby.  This article has been written based upon this request from a reader:

"That [One of the Best Choices I've Made For Baby Is...] is a wonderful article! It really made me realize maybe I should try clothe diapers. Do you have any articles telling a clueless mom how to do it! lol"


Her comment made me so happy!  I was thrilled to know that I had helped someone out, and that she liked my writing so much that she wanted me to write a how-to article.  Thank you Brittany for making my day, and here is a response to your question.



Here is the way that I started out with cloth diapers. Well, I had decided to do it even before baby was born, and it started out as a money thing, but then I came to realize all of the additional benefits besides saving tons of money. 

You will pay a good chunk of change upfront, but it pays off in the end. You have quite a few options in choosing what type of cloth you would like to use for your baby. There are flats, pre-folds that you have to get covers for, fitteds, all-in-ones (AIOs), and pocket diapers. The different types are explained in more detail here.   I also decided to use Happy Heinys One-size and I don't regret my decision in the least! They were about $20 (I got a couple of my Happy Heinys on black friday for $15ish a piece) per diaper.  With proper care, they have held up very well.  I have about 15 Happy Heinys diapers. They last for about 2 1/2 days. So, I still end up using the occasional disposable, but I have gotten it down to only a few a month.  Hopefully, someday I won't have to use any 'sposies at all.   On the HH diaper you also have the choice to get either a snap closure, or hook and loop (velcro, also called aplix) closure. I got the hook and loop, because I couldn't find the snaps available anywhere. But I have heard from another CDing mama that the hook and loop provides a better fit. These diapers are also made with PUL (polyurethane laminated fabric) which make the fabric waterproof, and keeping leaks out. I have never had a huge leak. Sure, I've had the situation where my baby has over saturated the insert, and the pee has nowhere to go but out, but for the most part, leaks have been minimal. To try and avoid this, I always have made sure to change my daughter's diaper at least every 2 hours or so. Every hour-and-a-half when she was newborn. Cloth diapers don't stink like pee (like disposables do) when baby's wet. Also for a heavy wetter, you also have the choice to stuff the diaper with more than one insert. The Happy Heinys come with two microfiber inserts (and infant and a toddler insert), you can also buy additional inserts (like hemp inserts which are supposed to be super absorbent).


Happy Heinys aren't confusing as to how to put on I did a ton of research when I was pregnant on which brand to get, and these were rated very high. These diapers are also daddy and babysitter friendly. I have had my mom watch my daughter a lot, and my mom loves how easy they are to deal with!   For nap-time, I use a Happy Heinys diaper stuffed with 2 inserts (both the toddler and the infant inserts.)

















At bed-time I use a different diaper: I use Fuzzibunz One-Size diaper which are rated extremely well for night-time use, and they have stood up to that rating. For night, I stuff my fuzzibunz with both the toddler and the infant inserts that come with the diaper upon purchase. My daughter has slept through the night (8-10 hours) from about 6 weeks old, and fuzzibunz holds up all through the night, and I have never, not even once, had a leak with my fuzzibunz! I would still stay on the safe side, and order enough for two throughout the night. So, I have four fuzzibunz, since I do a load of diapers every 2-3 days.


























When it comes to washing diapers, here is how I go about it. I store my soiled diapers in a diaper pail.  This pail is made of heavy duty plastic, and it has a locking lid. You can also buy laundry bags that go inside of the pail. They make lifting the diapers and transporting them to the washing machine easier. To store the diapers in the pail, I take the insert(s) out of the diaper. If the diaper is poopy, I wash the solid stuff off (if baby is exclusively breastfed, and its that liquidy poop (like you see when they are newborn), you don't need to wash it off) sometimes I get lucky, and the poop falls off, sometimes I have to take extra measures. When it comes to rinsing diapers, you have a few options. You can go for a diaper sprayer which attaches to your toilet, and you spray the diaper clean, or you can go for disposable diaper liners which are very handy, but they do cost about $10-20 every couple of weeks, or you can opt for the dunk-and-swish method, where you dunk the diaper (without the inserts) into the toilet and flush until the solid is all gone (this method sounds the messiest, but really, its not that bad).





























The diapers must be washed at least every three days. This is how I wash mine. First, I make sure that the inserts are taken out of the pockets. Then I run the diapers through a rinse cycle. This rinses the pee out, so that you aren't washing your diapers in pee-water. Every once-in-a-while (like once a month or so) I will run it through two rinse cycles before I wash them. After I rise, I will run my diapers on the hot cycle using all free and clear laundry detergent.  There are other choices for detergents, and I have heard before that all free and clear is not a good choice.  However, I have not had a problem as of yet.  After the wash cycle is done, I put it through the rinse cycle one more time. By rinsing again, I am ensuring that all of the detergent is really out. Then I dry my diaper on low.  This is very important if your diapers have PUL, drying them on high can damage them.


Hope this article is helpful to you Brittany, and to all you new CD mamas out there! 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Finger Food Favorites: Sweet Squash Quesadilla

At about 9 months my baby entered the wonderful world of finger foods and never looked back.  I feed her a wide variety of foods.  A new favorite lunch-time meal (now 11 months) of her's is a Sweet Squash Quesadilla; melted cheddar cheese, shredded sweet potato, and yellow squash sandwiched between two white corn tortillas.   This is a yummy treat for your little one, and for you as well.

Ingredients:

* Shredded Cheddar Cheese
* Grated Sweet Potato
* Grated or Cut Up Yellow Squash
* 2 White Corn Tortillas

****cut up or grated zucchini goes well in this yummy lunch-time treat as well****

Steps:

1.  Heat a pan over low heat.
2. Lightly spray the pan with cooking spray.
3. Mix cheese, sweet potato, and squash together.
4. Place one tortilla in the center of the heated pan.
5. Sprinkle cheese mixture evenly over tortilla.
6. Once the cheese starts to melt a bit, place another tortilla on top.
7. Flip quesadilla.
8. Let cook for a few minutes, then remove from pan.
9. Cut into small bites, then serve when warm, not hot.

This dish is yummy when made with mozzarella cheese too!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Money Saving Tip: Buying Baby Gear

Some of the best advice when it came time to purchasing baby gear, and how to save money on it in the long run, came from my mother.  When buying all the big items, swing, bouncer, highchair, travel system etcetera, go gender neutral.  The second I found out that I was going to be having a baby girl, I went girly nuts!  I registered for every pink, purple, or flower and butterfly covered item out there.

Now, I'm really glad that I listened to my mother's advice and opted for the pale yellow bouncer as opposed to the super-cute pink one that I did want.  I know that this is going to save me some mega-bucks in the future when I won't have to go out and purchase a new swing, because I will already have one.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Products I Recommend: Summer Infant Mother's Touch Deluxe Baby Bather

Bathing a newborn can be somewhat nerve wracking.  They're so tiny, and cover them with water and soap, and it could be one slippery mess.  With the Summer Infant Mother's Touch Deluxe Baby Bather, bath time is a little bit easier.


This great little bather is a mesh sling that has an adjustable back, enabling longer use of this product.  I used this with my sweet pea up until she was able to sit on her own; about 5 months.  The fabric is also removable, and machine washable.  I love how you can give your new bundle of joy a wipe-down without having to fully submerge them in the water.  With my experience in using this bather, baby is all comfy, so they will be less likely to wiggle around making it easier to soap up and rinse off.

This bather can be placed right in the tub or used in a kitchen sink, provided that its big enough.  Mine was not. Darn, I was hoping to eliminate that whole bending over part of bath-time.

My one and only complaint about this bather, since I am shorter, putting the bather in tub was more hassle than it was worth, so I placed the bather on the bathroom floor, had a little basin full of water, and a wash cloth.  There is nothing to catch the water when it goes through the mesh, so if this is what you plan to do, lay out a towel first.

Overall, I would definitely recommend the Summer Infant Mother's Touch Deluxe Baby Bather, it makes bath-time with a new baby a breeze!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Baby Ruby

I received an email today from a dear friend of mine telling me about a sweet little three-month-old baby girl who has been diagnosed with liver failure, and is in need of a transplant.  My heart aches for baby Ruby and her family.  A fundraiser is being held for the Taylors to help with the burdening and ever-growing medical expenses.  Please visit Ruby's blog for more details on how to help.  Of course a very powerful form of help is through prayer, so be sure to keep this baby girl in your thoughts and prayers.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Homemade Baby Food Favorites: Butternut Squash

One of the first foods that I made for my baby was butternut squash, followed by acorn squash.  Oh boy did she love it--still does!  Click here is some great information on making butternut squash puree for your baby.  A great way to make cutting butternut squash easier is to microwave the squash for 1 minute.  I like to cut the top off of the round bottom, then half each piece, so that when you are done cutting, you should have four pieces.

A delicious way to prepare butternut squash (acorn squash too) is pair it with apples.  Mmm... my baby just loves that!  Make sure that you have introduced both butternut squash (or acorn squash) and apples.

When baby is 8 months+ try adding some cinnamon or nutmeg.  Delicious!

**After you have scooped out the seeds from the squash, don't throw them away, make a yummy snack for yourself!  Lets face it, mommy deserves good food too.  While the squash is baking, rinse the seeds under cool water, and remove the pulp.  Drain the seeds.  Put into a small bowl, and mix with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon cloves, and 1 teaspoon brown sugar.  Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray, and bake seeds in 400 degree F oven for 10 minutes.  Remove seeds from the cookie sheet immediately.  Let cool for about 5 minutes before eating. Enjoy!**

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Homemade Baby Food Favorites

I am going to share with you some of my (and my baby's) favorite baby food recipes.  When it comes to making my own baby food, I have sampled everything myself, so I know its yummy!

I will kick off my recipes category with one of my favorites: Apple-Blueberry-Cherry Puree.

I first introduced this puree to my baby when she was 8-months-old.  I had previously introduced apple sauce to my baby at about 6 months, but cherries and blueberries need to wait.  As I stated in my baby food post, I introduced each ingredient alone (or paired with something such as pares or apples that I know don't cause any sort of an allergic reaction) before combining them all together.


Apple-Blueberry-Cherry Puree

Introduce: 8+ months

Ingredients:


  • 2 peeled, cored, chopped (chunks) apples (use sweet apples such as gala, red delicious, golden delicious, braeburn)
  • handful of dark sweet cherries (I used frozen)
  • handful of blueberries (I used frozen)
Steps:

  1. In a skillet, simmer the apple chunks, cherries, and blueberries in a small amount of water (I use bottled) over low heat until apples are tender.  About 15 minutes.  Flip apple pieces over half-way through.
  2. When the apples are tender, put all of the fruit into the blender.
  3. Puree.
  4. Add water if thinning is needed.
  5. Mmmm!
This is so yummy, I was going to freeze the left-overs, but I just couldn't do it.  I ate the remainder of the puree, it was that good!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Eatin' time!

As a girl who likes loves to cook, is it any surprise that I make baby's food?  That's right, there's not much in the way of jars found in this house.  I make everything fresh for my baby.  There are so many advantages to making my own baby food.  First and fore-most it saves so much money.  With homemade food, I control exactly what and how much of it goes into my baby's food.  Making baby's food can be fulfilling, creative, and fun!  Wholesome Baby Food has been the most helpful site in guiding me in what I should feed my baby.  Another good site is Weelicious.  Of course get the ok from your baby's doctor first.

I love knowing that I know exactly what goes into my baby's food.  When my baby was first introduced to solids, the only ingredients I wanted into her foods were the fruit or veggie and water.  Now at 8 months, I have started to integrate some added spices (never salt or sugar, but spices like nutmeg).  Right from the beginning, I have used just enough water as is needed to make a puree.  Using just what is needed in addition to using fresh fruits and veggies, makes homemade baby food so much yummier!  It is so good in fact, that I have sampled everything that I have made.  If I won't eat it, I certainly don't want to make my baby eat it.

Making baby food can be creative and fun!  I first introduced each fruit or veggie separately, then once I determined that no reaction was caused by any of the foods, I started to mix them together to provide baby with a much wider variety then what is offered by jarred.  Some of my baby's favorites are butternut squash and apples, peas and greenbeans, and pears and avocado.


Homemade baby food doesn't require any special tools.  I use a vegetable steamer to steam most of my fruits and veggies.  Sometimes I will bake items such as squash or sweet potatoes.  After the food is cooked, I put it in my blender with a small amount of water (I use filtered) and blend it up to my desired consistency.  There are even some foods (bananas and avocado) that require nothing more than a bowl and a fork to mash.
Oster 6812-001 Core 16-Speed Blender with Glass Jar, BlackFarberware Classic Stack 'N Steam 3-Quart Saucepot and Steamer



I store my prepared baby food in vital baby freezer pots.  Once the food is frozen, I simply pop the little cubes out of the containers and store them in a labeled and dated freezer bag.
Vital Baby Press 'n' Pop Mini Freezer Pots, Orange, 1 Ounce, 8 Pack

Monday, April 18, 2011

Looking for the old SAHM Life?

I have relocated my posts about giveaways to Piddly Poof! , my new blog for all fun giveaways for mommies, babies, and kids.

I will still be writing in The SAHM Life though.  I plan to continue to write in this blog about my adventures and discoveries about being a stay at home mom.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

One Of The Best Choices I've Made For Baby Is....

Cloth diapering! Not only does it save money from week to week, but it is so much better for my baby and the environment. Sure, choosing cloth can be quite an up-front cost, however it really saves in the long run. In addition to cloth diapering, making my own wipes just adds to the savings.

Here is a breakdown of the average costs:
Disposable Diapers
A package of 180 disposable diapers, enough for about 3 weeks, costs $35-$40. At the end of 1 year $595-$680 will be spent on diapers alone. Wipes for a single container of 80, enough for 1 week, range from $4-$6. After 1 year, $208-312 will be spent on wipes. Add that to what is spent on diapers, and in 1 year $803-$992 will be spent on diapers and wipes. Diaper cream costs $4-$6 for 4 ounces. So add that to the growing bill. At the end of the day, disposables PLUS wipes PLUS diaper cream for 1 baby costs anywhere from $819-$1016 per year.

Cloth Diapers
My start-up cost for cloth diapers cost between $300-$400 (I have one-size diapers that will last me from birth to potty training); I have 17 pocket diapers (13 for day-time use and 4 that are for night-time) in my humble stash. The wipes that I make are made of water, baby lotion ($5--1 bottle will last for 2-3 months) and baby oil ($4--I am still on the same bottle that I got for my baby shower, so it will last for 6 months or so), I use viva paper towels that I purchase in a 6 pack ($8--this will last for 4 months). So altogether for a year supply of homemade wipes, I spend between $52-$62. Additionally, since cloth diapering is better on baby's sensitive skin, I have spent no money ($0, zero dollars, zip, zilch, nada) on diaper cream. My total is $52-$62 per year on wipes, and since I only have to pay for diapers once I will split the cost into thirds and say my little one will be potty trained by 3, so that is $100-$134 per year for diapers, bringing my total amount spent on diapers PLUS wipes up to $152-$196 per year.

In addition to the amazing savings, cloth is beneficial in so many other ways!

Cloth diapers are better against baby's sensitive skin. Like I mentioned before, my little one has had absolutely no diaper rash issues, and I contribute that to using cloth. One of the most common causes of diaper rash is baby's sensitivity to the chemicals (Dioxin (banned in many countries but not the U.S.), Tributyl-tin (TBT), polyacrylate; real diaper association)in disposable diapers (according to baby center; the new parents' guide).

In addition to being better for baby, cloth diapers are also better for the environment. Did you know that when using disposable diapers, the solid waste is supposed to be dumped into the toilet (RDA) however, most dirty diapers are not dumped, therefore lots of disposables (92%) end up in the landfill. Disposables also take a really long time (think hundreds of years) to decompose. I feel good knowing that I'm not contributing to that.

I do realize that cloth is not for everyone, there are those Moms that work and send their kids to daycare. I know that at most daycares, the teachers probably would look at a Mom who showed up with cloth diapers for their child like they had two heads and four sets of eyes. I first decided on cloth when I was about 6-months pregnant, and I got quite a few puzzling looks from quite a few people. However, once my baby arrived, friends and family got to see really how simple cloth is. However, working moms could cloth diaper their babies in the evenings and on the weekends.

I also know that not everyone is willing to do the bit of extra laundry that is required when you choose cloth. Honestly though, it is really not that much more of an effort. I wash diapers probably 2 times during the week and 1 time on the weekends. And there are also diaper services out there.

I'm also not unrealistic. I myself have used 'sposies from time to time. I always have a small amount on hand as a backup. I use maybe 2-3 a month. I use them when I am washing my diapers. I would like to get to the point where I don't have to use any 'sposies at all, but seeing as my stash is limited, I'll have to add to my collection of cloth before I can eliminate disposables.

For me the choice was simple, better choice for baby, better choice for the earth, better choice for me (and my wallet)!

****To read my HOW-TO article for newbies to cloth diapering, click HERE.****

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