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!

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