Posts Tagged ‘ Holidays ’

26 Foods I’m Thankful For

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

I’m thankful for so many things in my life, but I’m thankful for Chris and Mason most of all. I’m thankful that we have each other. I can’t imagine my life without them. I’m thankful that we have such wonderful family and friends. I’m thankful that Chris and I both have jobs that we love. I’m thankful we have a safe place to live. And I’m thankful that we always have plenty to eat. So many people go hungry, and it breaks my heart. In honor of the day when we give thanks, often by sharing a large meal with the people we love, here are the 26 foods that I’m thankful for, one for each letter of the alphabet (from a “What Are You Thankful For” game a therapist taught me to help me heal after my beloved grandfather died). I took a little license — a couple of letters stand for consumables, not really food, but you get the picture. What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Apples

Bananas

Cheese

Dark chocolate

Eggplant

French fries

Goat cheese

Hanger steak

Ice cream

Jam

Kale

Lasagna

Mussels

Nuts

Olives

Potatoes

Quiche

Red wine

Salmon

Tofu

Udi’s bread (best gluten-free bread ever)

Vanilla cupcakes

Watermelon

Xanthan gum (essential for gluten-free baking)

Yogurt

Zucchini

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Cuties in Costumes & Toddler-Friendly Halloween Party Recipes

Monday, October 31st, 2011

(From left:) Maurice, rocking a pirate romper; Lina, as Alex from Flashdance; Charlotte, a Jack-O’-Lantern; Zann, a golfer; Sal, a shark; and Mason, my dragon. Photo by Florence Liu (Charlotte’s mom)

Late on Saturday afternoon we got together with a group of LIC Mamas, their husbands, and their babes to celebrate Halloween. My friend Diane hosted the party at her place, which offers a panoramic view of the East River and the Manhattan skyline — the ideal backdrop for our babes’ first “real” Halloween party. The two little girls, Lina and Charlotte,  played quietly with toys while the boys chased each other around Diane’s apartment, in hysterics. The difference in the way our girls and boys play is amazing! Is it just that way with our kids, or do all boys and girls play so differently? We’re all first-time moms so we haven’t had much experience with this dynamic.

Mama and Mason: Growl all you want, Bug, that’s what little dragons do! Photo by Florence Liu (Charlotte’s mom)

Mason randomly hugged me while I was chatting. Totally. Awesome. Thanks for capturing the moment, Kerry Discioarro (Sal’s mom)!

Diane channeled her inner domestic goddess and went all out with the menu. We started with wine, smoked salmon, cheese, crackers, and pigs in a blanket (the later being her hubby’s special request, could you tell?). For dinner we feasted on two different kinds of stuffed chicken, basil-pesto cous cous, Parmesan broccoli, and macaroons (pics and links to recipes below). Maybe we can talk her into hosting the Halloween party every year?! I made a second dessert, a simple apple-cherry crisp. The babies loved everything on our plates but they were too exhausted to try dessert. Gotta love the power of hard-core play time! Mason passed out as soon as we got home and didn’t make a peep all night.

As Chris and I were driving home — yes, we wimped out and took the car since NYC was a snowy-rainy mess on Saturday — we were chatting about how much fun we had at the party. It was very different from the wild and crazy  Halloween parties we went to before we became parents, but it was so much better for so many reasons. For starters, we have our son who is without question the love of our lives. I also feel myself getting reflective and sentimental whenever all of the LIC Mamas are together. I feel really bonded with these women and this occasion was just one more reason to celebrate our children and each other. We’ve been able to watch our babies turn into toddlers together and we will move on to the next chapter together, too.

Diane, our awesome hostess, dressed in pink-and-green golf pants to match her son Zann’s golfer costume.

 

Best for Babies 12+ Months

Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Gouda and Spinach (left) and Chicken Breasts Stuffed With Apples, Cream Cheese, and Walnuts — both by Betty Crocker. Delish!

Cous cous tossed with purchased basil-pesto, green onion, and cauliflower — Diane cooked it all together so the veggies would be nice and tender.
Simple Tossed Salad — lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and red onion tossed with balsamic vinaigrette; ideal with any meal.
Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli by Ina Garten — one of the best broccoli dishes I’ve ever tasted. Even the babes loved it.
Golden Macaroons from Better Homes and Gardens (Diane’s macaroons look just like the photo with the recipe!).

Cherry-Apple Crisp from Betty Rosbottom – Serve it warm with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream. I skipped the walnuts since several of the babes haven’t had nuts yet. The recipe isn’t online, so here’s how to make it:

Ingredients

6 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup tart, dried cherries
1 stick butter (or half a cup)
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Vanilla or cinnamon ice cream (optional)

Directions

Combine butter, flour, brown sugar, oatmeal, and walnuts. Set aside. Grease a baking dish. Arrange apple and cherries. Top with dry ingredient and butter mixture. Bake on 375 degrees F for 30-45 minutes (until crumble is fully baked). Serve warm, topped with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream.

 

What are you doing to celebrate Halloween?

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Perfect Pumpkin Recipes & Virtual Pumpkin Carving for Toddlers

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Halloween is just a week away and pumpkins are everywhere I look: on porches, in Mason’s classroom, on my iPhone (more on that later). I’m sort of obsessed with pumpkins right now — really, with everything related to Halloween as we plan for parties this weekend and check Mason’s costume one last time to make sure it still fits — which is why I’m switching gears today and writing about pumpkins instead of a “Tuesday Timesaver” strategy or recipe. More time-saving strategies next week, I promise.

I love this time of year and all the pumpkin decor, but my favorite way to enjoy pumpkin is on my plate. Even Mr. Picky seems to feel the same way and he’s actually (gasp) eating the pumpkin goodies I give him. We put pumpkin in soups, breads, pasta, spreads — pumpkin is so versatile you can make it savory or sweet. It’s in season from mid-fall to Thanksgiving, so we have plenty of time to enjoy it, too. Check out some of our fave pumpkin recipes and ideas, and share yours.

Pumpkin Pancakes — Chris’ specialty — hopefully we can talk him into making a batch this weekend (hint, hint if you’re reading this Chris). We make a gluten-free variation with gluten-free, all-purpose flour from Bob’s Red Mill.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Spread — Make this the night before — it’s awesome on toasted cinnamon-raisin bagels.

Pear and Pumpkin Soup — This easy, tasty 25-minute soup makes a great side dish.

Pumpkin Muffins — This make-ahead bread makes a yummy snack or breakfast.

Pumpkin-Filled Ravioli — Purchase prepared pumpkin ravioli (like I do), or try this recipe.

And now for the “later” that I mentioned above…

In addition to eating pumpkin, Mason enjoys playing with pumpkins on my iPhone. He can’t get enough of the free Parents.com Carve-a-Pumpkin app, and he’ll spend chunks of time fiddling around with it on his own. Of course he needs my help to actually do anything with the app, which is fine because I enjoy playing with it too. I’m also psyched that my iPhone holds a new attraction for Bug–otherwise he’d be dialing the numbers saved to my phone, scrambling the order of my apps, or (gulp) deleting something. Check it out and let us know what you think!

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The Best Fall Fruits & Veggies for Your Babe & How to Prepare Them

Friday, September 16th, 2011

Rich in fiber and packed with vitamin C, fresh apples make wholesome applesauce that’s an ideal first first. Diced apples are a delicious and popular finger food for toddlers, who can dip the fruit in hummus or peanut butter.

Dazzle your babe with the season’s freshest fruits and veggies. They’re colorful, filled with vitamins and minerals, and fun to eat. Here’s what to buy and serve right now — plus directions for pureeing, mashing, or serving as finger food.

APPLES

Puree: Wash, peel, and dice apples. Cook for 12 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Puree for a smooth texture. Add a dash of cinnamon, if you wish. Freeze in 2-ounce portions for up to three months.

Mash: Follow cooking and freezing steps above but instead of pureeing, mash the fruit with a potato masher. Or dice and serve as finger food. Add a dash of cinnamon, if you wish. Freeze in 2-ounce portions for up to three months.

Mix with: Sweet potato, red cabbage, butternut squash, pumpkin, pear, peach, plum, banana, beef, chicken

PUMPKINS

Puree: Cut pumpkin in half. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and save for roasting or discard.  Brush each half with olive oil and place skin-side down in a baking dish. To keep the flesh of the pumpkin moist, add a half-inch of water before baking. Bake at 450 degrees F until pumpkin is tender (about 45 minutes). Puree in a food processor or blender until you reach desire texture. Add a dash of nutmeg or cinnamon, if you wish.

Mash: Follow cooking and freezing steps above but instead of pureeing, mash the veggie with a potato masher. Or dice and serve as finger food. Add a dash of nutmeg or cinnamon, if you wish. Freeze in 2-ounce portions for up to three months.

Mix it with: Apple, chicken, pear, chicken, beef, lentils

BUTTERNUT SQUASH

Puree: Scoop flesh out of a roasted squash. Discard the skin. Puree squash flesh in a food processor. Add water until you reach a smooth consistency. For extra creaminess add a splash of pre-mixed formula, breast milk, milk, or plain yogurt. Add a dash of nutmeg, if you wish. Freeze in 2-ounce portions for up to three months.

Mash: Follow cooking and freezing steps above but instead of pureeing, mash the veggie with a potato masher. Or dice and serve as finger food. Add a dash of nutmeg, if you wish. Freeze in 2-ounce portions for up to three months.

Mix with: Apple, chicken, beef, peach, pear, carrot, lentils

SWEET POTATOES

Puree: Wash, peel, and dice sweet potato/potato. Cook until tender (about 15 minutes). Puree and add cooking liquid as needed until you reach desired consistency. Add a dash of cinnamon, if you wish. Freeze in 2-ounce portions for up to three months.

Smash: Follow cooking and freezing steps above but instead of pureeing, mash the veggie with a potato masher. Or dice and serve as finger food. Add a dash of cinnamon, if you wish. Freeze in 2-ounce portions for up to three months.

Mix with: Peach, apricot, apple, raisins, peas, carrot, lentils, chicken, beef

BROCCOLI

Puree: Wash broccoli and remove stems. Cook until tender (about 15 minutes). Puree broccoli in a food processor or blender, adding cooking liquid as needed until you reach desired consistency.

Dice: To serve as finger food, follow the cooking instructions above and then chop into tiny pieces.

Serve with: Sweet potato, raisins, apple, asparagus

CAULIFLOWER

Puree: Wash cauliflower and remove stems. Cook until tender (about 15 minutes). Puree cauliflower in a food processor or blender, adding cooking liquid as needed until you reach desired consistency. For extra creaminess add a splash of pre-mixed formula, breast milk, milk, or plain yogurt. Freeze in 2-ounce portions for up to three months.

Smash: Follow cooking and freezing steps above but instead of pureeing, mash the veggie with a potato masher. Or dice and serve as finger food. Freeze in 2-ounce portions for up to three months.

Mix with: Butternut squash, peas, carrot, green beans, apple

GRAPES

Dice: Skip this fruit for babies — it’s best for kids over age 1 because of the skin. Dice into fourths before serving. Freeze in 2-ounce portions for up to three months.

Serve with: Banana, apple, chicken, beef

What’s your babe’s fave summer fruit? How do you like to prepare it?

NOTE: Pediatricians have different opinions about when babies should try specific fruits and vegetables. Consult your pediatrician before starting your babe on a new fruit or veggie.

 

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