Easy Peasy Baby Food

Something crazy happened last week y’all. Somehow I became the mom that makes her own baby food. I desperately wanted to be this lady with Dylan (baby #1) but after an epic fail making green beans and just about every type of fruit, I just didn’t have the confidence to try again. I chalked it up to not having the right kitchen tools nor enough time. I decided I would just cut my full-time working self a break.

But a few weeks ago when Emma was cleared to start solids, I got this crazy itch to give it another go. Emma has been an easier baby on every single level, so maybe… just maybe… she might like my busted baby food.

I decided not to relive my green bean nightmare. I just couldn’t go there again. It was painful. Instead, I attempted Squash, Sweet Potatoes, Apples, Pears, Peas and Peaches. And something so totally crazy happened. She LOVED them. She gobbled down every last bite. Even the peas. Well, OK peas mixed with a little apple. But still.. she was a fan of my cooking and I was doing my glorious super mom happy dance.

So without further ado, here’s the super duper simple way I made and stored all this organic goodness:

Homemade baby food

Aside from the Squash and Sweet Potatoes, which I roasted in the oven for ~45 minutes, I simply steamed each fruit or veg in a big ol’ pot. The name of the game during this step is simply to get whatever you are cooking super tender while retaining as much of the nutrients as possible.

IMG_6416  IMG_6417

So in this example once my ($1!) bag of frozen peas were tender, I poured them into my mini food processor with some of the cooking liquid and pureed until smooth. I originally thought I needed one of those fancy baby food makers but nope… a food processor, blender or well anything that purees all that goodness up is all you really need. I absolutely love this Cuisinart Mini Food Processor!

IMG_6421

Texture is a big big deal here, especially when trying to achieve Stage 1 baby food consistency so I added teaspoons of the water it cooked with until it was smooth.

IMG_6423

Once my peas were super smooth, I simply dumped them into an ice cube tray so they would freeze in 1 ounce portions.

IMG_6424

And then I popped these in my freezer to freeze overnight….

IMG_6426

And when these bad boys were rock solid, I simply put them in a labeled Hefty freezer bag. When I’m ready to feed Emma I just grab 3 cubes/3 ounces and microwave it for <30 seconds in one of these Pampered Chef Prep Bowls. These bowls are so perfect because they are essentially measuring cups with a lid and they are glass. I’m a big weirdo about microwaving plastic. Always have been.

IMG_6460

I think my most favorite thing about this system is how easy it is to mix and match the different veggies and fruits. Emma isn’t a huge fan of peas or butternut squash but she gobbles it down when I mix in an ounce of pears or apples. And with this system I don’t have to worry about the rest of those apples or pears spoiling in my fridge. Been there, done that, been nagged by my husband for wasting money.

IMG_6458

So if there are any new mamas in the house that are at all thinking about doing this, I encourage you to give it a try… twice. I think you would be surprised how easy it is and how much better it tastes than jarred baby food. And for the love of peas, don’t go out and buy a fancy machine. First give it a go with appliances you already have.

Take it from my Emma girl…. she’s clearly a big fan Smile

IMG_0519

xoxo,

jamie

Continue Reading

Toddler Approved Zucchini Mini Muffins

Ever since Dylan, who we’ve formally nicknamed “Mr. Pickles” (poor kid…) turned 1, he’s ironically hated vegetables. This kid use to gobble them down pureed, but outta no where baby food became about as uncool as nap time and bite sized veggies started decorating my kitchen walls. So I decided this weekend that I would get a little sneaky sneaky and hide as many of them as I could into something that he loooooves – muffins! I was one proud mama bear watching him inhale these healthy little snacks… my first of many “because I love you deceits” I’m sure.

This mini muffin recipe is oh so simple. I used zucchini for the veggie but you could easily substitute carrots, squash, or any easily grateable veg.

Zucchini Mini Muffins Ingredients

So I started the deception process by mixing the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground nutmeg, and cinnamon together. Ahhh… nutmeg and cinnamon. What doesn’t taste good with that sprinkled on it? Please don’t answer that… :)

IMG_4896-2

I then grated 2 zucchini’s…

IMG_4897-3

Beat 2 eggs together for a minute or so and then added in the milk, oil, and sugar. Once that was combined, I added in the good ol’ grated zucchini. As you can see I was very productive during naptime this morning.

IMG_4900

Then using a handy dandy scooper, I dropped spoonful’s into the mini muffin tray.

IMG_4901

I then sprinkled each top with a little bit of sugar (or in this example, because I was trying to also take a picture) a lot of sugar. Although the entire recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, these are really not that sweet, so this is a nice addition to the top.

IMG_4903

I then baked these bad boys at 375 for 20 minutes and TADA…. 40 veggie packed mini muffins for my little love muffin.

Zucchini Mini Muffins

Mama tested… little monster approved. He LOVED them!

IMG_4912

I popped about half of these in the freezer for later.

IMG_4915

So as you can see I’m on a mission to gets the goods in wherever I can. What recipes or tips do you have for getting toddlers to eat their veggies?! I’d love to hear them!

Here’s the recipe card:

Muffin Recipe

 

xoxo,

jamie

Continue Reading

A Pinterest Inspired Easter

For the past 3 years now, I’ve hosted Easter lunch for my family. My first year was a disaster, my second was uber stressful, but my third one was a total charm! I think the main difference is that this year I spent a week collecting inspiration from Pinterest and prepping & planning in advance. I cleaned on Friday, cooked a majority of the food on Saturday and then spent the 1 hour I have between church and family arriving, heating things up and cooking the mushy dishes (ya know those ones like green been cass that must cook the day of!). My secret ingredient this year was totally Pinterest. I made an “Easter” board and pinned all of my recipes and centerpiece ideas in advance. Have I told you recently how much I love Pinterest? Well, I’ll use this post to prove it. Here are my top 4 pins that made my family’s Easter lunch a big hit!

1. Easter Table Centerpiece

image    Centerpiece for Easter table

 

2. Lemon Raspberry Coffee Cake from BHG.com

image    IMG_2570

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
Powdered sugar for topping (optional)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Beat 1 cup of sugar and the butter with a mixer on medium to high until combined. Then add 1 egg and the vanilla and beat on low to medium for 1 minute. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk (I used 2% milk instead!) to sugar mixture, beating just until combined after each addition.

IMG_2553

Tip: While you’re mixing the ingredients in Step 1 or during your prep phrase, grease a round cake pan AND line with parchment paper. Nothing bums me out more than when I can’t get a cake out of the pan and then when I do, I’ve lost half the bottom. I’ve wasted many a tears on this… so line the pan people, it really works. To be extra safe, I even spray some of my girl Pam on the parchment paper and sprinkle a little flour. Probably overkill, but hey… it works!

IMG_2554

3. For the cheesecake filling (yes, this has a delish little surprise in the middle!) beat the cream cheese and the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar on medium to high until combined. Add lemon peel and the remaining egg and beat until all mixed up.

4. Then spoon half the cake batter into the prepared pan and spread it to the pan edges. Pour the cheesecake filling over batter and then dollop the remaining batter on filling. This is a little hard but try to spread the batter across the top as much as possible.

IMG_2558     IMG_2559

5. Bake for 20 minutes or until puffed and then remove from oven, gently press raspberries into cake and bake 25 to 30 minutes more. For some reason my raspberries were completely sucked down into the cake, so I added some to the top after it cooled a little. Once completely cooled, I sprinkled the top with a little powdered sugar.

IMG_2561

TADA! Since this wasn’t the main desert for Easter (my mom makes an AMAZING coconut cake!), I went ahead and did a little taste test. It’s simply amazing! It’s light, fluffy, sweet and fresh.

IMG_2570    IMG_2572

 

3. Easter Thumbprint Cookies

image    IMG_2578

Ingredients

  • Cookies:
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • Chocolate Topping:
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate morsels
  • 1 tablespoons butter

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. With an electric mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, vanilla and salt until smooth. Beat in the flour slowly until the dough has formed.

2. Roll a teaspoonful of dough into balls. Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.
Then remove from the oven and either press your thumb into the center of the balls or use a tool to do so – since the cookies are pretty hot.

3. Place the cookies back in the oven for 7-9 minutes or until lightly golden. Allow the cookies to cool completely before adding chocolate topping.

IMG_2573

4. For the chocolate topping, melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler until smooth. Allow to cool slightly, then pour the chocolate into the cookie’s thumbprint. To make these Eastery, simply add a Easter M&M! I used peanut-butter M&M’s!

IMG_2574      IMG_2578

 

4. Worlds Best Dinner Rolls

image   IMG_2589

Ingredients

2 c. whole milk
½ c. + 1 Tbsp. sugar, divided
1/3 c. (5 1/3 Tbsp.) butter
2 tsp. Kosher salt
2 pkgs. active dry yeast (or 4 1/2 tsp.)
2/3 c. warm (105-115-degree) water
8-9 c. all-purpose flour
3 beaten eggs

Directions

1. Combine milk, 1/2 c. sugar, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until butter melts. Once melted, place saucepan in a large bowl of ice cubes. I’m so happy the gals over at Our Best Bites shared this ice cube tip, as it’s critical in ensuring the heat doesn’t kill the yeast in step two.

2. While the milk mixture is cooling, dissolve the yeast and 1 Tbsp. sugar in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes. This is the most important step in this recipe – if your yeast doesn’t bubble, then you’ll need to repeat this step. I let mine sit for a little while and as you can see it actually doubles!

IMG_2579

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 c. flour and the milk mixture. Beat on low for 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl constantly. Add yeast mixture and beat on high for 3 minutes. Then add beaten eggs.

4. Stir in as much remaining flour as needed to make a soft dough. This dough should be pretty soft… it will be coming away from the sides of the bowl, but it will still stick to your fingers. Place the bowl in a warm place and cover with a towel, allowing to rise for 1 hour.

IMG_2582    IMG_2585

5. After 1 hour punch down dough. Divide dough in half and place on your lightly floured work surface.

6. Spray 2 9×13 glass pans with cooking spray. Roll first portion of dough into a rectangle and then cut it into 12 equal-sized pieces. Another good tip from the gals at Our Best Bites, was to use a pizza cutter – worked like a charm! After cutting, shape each piece into a ball and place in the prepared pan. Repeat with remaining dough in the second pan.

IMG_2586

7. Cover with a clean cloth and allow to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes. When dough has about 15-20 minutes to go, preheat oven to 375. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden-brown. Once done, I then rubbed each roll with cold butta! Fresh from the oven, these are truly life-changing!

By far the best home made rolls I’ve ever made and ever had! That’s a big statement.

IMG_2587   IMG_2589

So after a full day of cooking, we had a ton to eat on Easter Sunday: Turkey, Ham, Stuffing, Sweet Potato Casserole, Mashed Potato Casserole, Green Bean Casserole, Deviled Eggs, Rolls and last but certainly not least a delish Coconut cake that my mom made!

I also tried a new turkey recipe this year from Ina Garten. I will definitely be making this again next year!

IMG_2597

So what did I do with all of the extra time I had? An Easter egg hunt with my niece, of course! Isn’t she precious! Smile

IMG_2654

Continue Reading

Christmas Cookie Exchange

So every year around Christmas my fam gets together to get our cookie bakin’ on. I absolutely love this tradition because everyone brings the ingredients for one type of cookie and then we all get to take home a fresh batch of each type of cookie. Yes, it’s a pile of cookies, and for someone who typically doesn’t keep cookies in the house because ummm… I would eat them all, this time of year also means breaking out the big girl jeans for a few weeks. Luckily, with my Bella Band in place this year, it ain’t no thing. So bring on the suga baby!

Sugar Cookie Recipe

This year I decided to make sugar cookies and since I think the dough is easier to work with after being chilled for 24 hours, I made my dough a day in advance. I also decided to try a new recipe and was soooo hapy with the results!

Sugar Cookies

The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies – allrecipes.com

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Directions

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight). Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

Sugar Cookie Recipe

This year we also had a new cookie baker join us!

IMG_2204

She’s a mover and a shaker though… honestly, every picture I took of her was like this Smile She rocked at cookie cutting though… future Betty Crocker in the making y’all!

IMG_2208

Tip: Never have high expectations for perfectly icing your cookies. If you do, you will be very disappointed… like I was! Thus why this is the last picture of the sugar cookies. They were a disaster! Heather, Kristen and mama can confirm this :)

IMG_2209

Aside from sugar cookies, we also made Chocolate Chip, Christmas (“Fruit Cake”) Cookies and a new fav, White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies. Shout out to Heather for finding and baking this delicious recipe!

White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Cookie

Ingredients:
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking soda
10 ounces white chocolate (chips or bars cut in chunks)
1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped into chunks

Directions:
Heat oven to 375 F. In large bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt with electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs, beat well. Stir together flour, and the baking soda; gradually add to butter mixture,beating until well blended. Stir in white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. (Edges are golden brown and center is set.) Cool slightly, remove from cookie sheet to wire rack to cool completely.

Christmas Cookie Exchange

So although this growing baby and I could of put a serious dent in these cookies, I decided to give most of them away to friends and family. After all, it’s so much better to give than eat receive.

Merry Christmas y’all!

IMG_2221

Continue Reading