Tag Archives: homemade

Not-So-Traditional Holiday Traditions

Sure, I love holiday traditions like drinking spiced apple wine, baking cookies with my Mom and making this fantastic casserole out of our yearly crop of sweet potatoes.

But, in recent years, my family’s way of celebrating the holidays has undergone a little facelift.

I suppose the “recession/economic downturn/suckiness/whatever you want to call it” of the last several years has affected different people at different times. The worst time for us was a few years back when some extended family members found their breadwinner without a job. It was sudden, unexpected, and truly felt like a death in the family. The loss was nothing short of devastating, and it was cause for a whole lotta changes.

Money was tighter and priorities shifted, especially as we prepared for the holiday season. But you know what? Amazing things happen when a family stands strong together, supporting each other. Sometimes life throws you for a loop when you least expect it, and that Christmas was one of the best ones I’ve ever had.

Here are some lessons I learned, that I still hold on to today and plan to carry with me no matter how big or small my bank account might be.

  • Presents, schmesents. Who needs them? At least not traditional ones. That first year, I copied family photos for my brother, and he wrote my Dad a song (that’d be them, below.) There wasn’t much under the tree, but we were all together around it, and it couldn’t have been better. Get crafty, get sappy, get out a piece of paper and a pen and simply write a letter. Just be thoughtful, and you can’t go wrong.

  • Food is the glue. You have to eat, so you might as well celebrate it, right? Do what you can afford (from scratch, to save money) and enjoy the time and effort spent preparing it. Nothing brings a family together like gathering around the table to break bread – on the holidays, or any other day for that matter.
  • If you are going to do some holiday shopping, do it early. Things have improved a bit since that scary year when the future seemed so uncertain, and I do spend a little bit more now. But I try to do it throughout the year, snagging bargains as I go, so that the end of the year doesn’t overwhelm me. Who needs that kind of stress?!
  • Think “practical” gifts. Gift cards? Some may say they’re impersonal, but I love ‘em! Your recipient will most likely get more for the money if they are shopping right after the holidays with a gift card, and they’ll get just what they need. Food also makes a fabulous gift. Every year I get my macaronitarian vegetarian brother a big box of natural and organic foods I know he’d never buy himself. He gets to eat, and I get the peace of mind from knowing he’ll have a few good meals. And since he’s a grad student working on his dissertation, I know he’ll probably get me back with a really bangin’ box of food when he’s all rich and successful.
  • Your holidays should be anything you want them to be. Nobody – not relatives, friends or even retail marketing folks – should be dictating how you celebrate this very special time of year. The fact is, if you believe there is a reason to celebrate (whatever that reason may be), you should do it the way that feels right for YOU. If that means shopping till you drop and piling brightly wrapped presents under your tree, so be it, but if it means simply sitting under a tree on the winter solstice, feeling thankful for a great harvest, that’s perfect too (and you go on with your bad self, you crunchy hippie.) ;)

 

I created this post as part of Frigidaire’s Talk Turkey Campaign. Share your own recipes and tips at Frigidaire’s Make Time for Change site. For every recipe or tip that’s shared, Frigidaire will donate $1 to Save The Children’s U.S. Programs, which creates lasting change for children in need.

 

 

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Filed under Green Living, The Everyday

Hungry Toddler Hop #2

I think we’re all pretty much in agreement that toddlers love:

  • food that comes in fun shapes
  • food that comes in fun colors
  • food they can DIP!

So, we should agree that they should probably love this Red Lentil Dal recipe with pita triangles and grape tomatoes, right? ;)

It’s a hit in my house! Try it in yours and let me know what you think! (Bonus: only one pan to clean up!)

I found this recipe at Vegetarian Times. Find it HERE.

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Food is fun, right? Help us spread the word!

I invite you to link up your favorite toddler-food-related post (old or new) – lots of toddler moms want to hear from you! (Tell your friends, too!)

There are no real “rules” to this hop, but I do have a few small requests:

  • If you are able, please grab the code below and post it so your readers can hop from one blog to the next.
  • Please try to keep a “healthy” focus:) If you don’t have a healthy recipe, tips and helpful hints on making mealtime easier, productive or more fun are welcome!
  • Please follow and comment freely as you hop. We all like new followers!
  • I can’t tweet or promote from work, so please hit the share buttons below so we can all get lots of fun new recipes!

Bon appetit, little ones!

Linky will remain open until midnight on Tuesday, August 9th.

 

 

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Filed under Parenting & Family, Recipes & Food

A few comfort foods…

What’s on the breakfast menu this fine, fall Sunday morning?

Grilled almond butter and banana sammitches, with a drizzle of honey! :Dbrushed with a touch of coconut oil for a crispy outside!

Mmmmmmmm……comfort food!

Admittedly, this is not what we usually eat for breakfast. But I came home on Friday to find a large box waiting for me, and when I opened it? 2 loaves of Nature’s Pride bread! (Thanks, Foodbuzz Featured Publisher Program!)

One loaf of oatmeal and one loaf of honey wheat with fiber:

Yeah, it’s kind of weird to get bread in the mail. We don’t eat a lot of bread, and when I do buy it I usually end up giving half a loaf to the birds. But, I found myself determined not to waste my special delivery “Bread-O-Gram!” So, grilled sammies it was.

Nature’s Pride bread has no trans fat, no artificial colors or flavors, and no HFCS. BO-nus! The oatmeal has 1g fiber per serving, the whole wheat, 2g.

In a perfect world, I’d choose an organic bread with tons of fiber, but you know how that goes. I’d say Nature’s Promise makes a darn good loaf.

So, since I had leftover pumpkin from my little punkin pancake recipe, and quite a bit of bread to utilize, I felt inspired to make some Pumpkin Butter! I love the feeling of making use of what’s already in my kitchen. (Makes me feel so thrifty!)

I combined 3 cups pureed pumpkin, 1/2 cup apple cider, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg and 1/4 cup pure maple syrup, brought it to a boil, then reduced heat and simmered, stirring frequently, until it reached the desired thickness.

And there you have it! Easy peasy Nature’s Pride bread with homemade pumpkin butter. Good for mommy and daddy, and good for baby! I think warm toast with spicy pumpkin qualifies as comfort food, too.

Actually, after last year’s food restrictions with my gestational diabetes, just being able to enjoy the pumpkin harvest this year is pretty darned comforting! Enjoying it along with my boy is about as good as it gets.

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What’s your favorite comfort food?

….and here’s a simple but loaded question: Do you eat much bread?

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Filed under Product & Service Reviews, Recipes & Food

Mommy and Me Butternut Apple Crisp

Lately, my life is all about sharing. I share just about everything with my baby boy: my body, my bed, every waking moment…but I wouldn’t have it any other way :)

One of my favorite things to share with him is food. As a family, we grow it together, we go to farms to buy it together (Ok, so we don’t exactly cook it together, but that’s OK) and, now that he’s 10 months old, we can eat some of it together, too!

Eating the same foods also makes it easier to multitask with meal preparation with what I like to call “Mommy and Me” recipes (and that’s a good thing, because spare time is a seriously hot commodity around here, lately, and I do not want to give in to the temptation of more prepared foods.)

Today’s Mommy and Me was inspired by our butternut squash crop and the hint of fall that’s crept into the Central PA air…

Apple crisp is an autumn classic, so I thought, Why not put two fall favorites together and put an apple crisp inside a butternut!?

I knew what I wanted to make, but I did a little looking around the blogosphere anyway. I found inspiration in a post by The Hungry Housewife. (Go ahead and check out the recipe–you won’t be sorry! )

I changed the recipe a bit to suit our tastes (a little less sugar) and what I had on hand (Oops…no pumpkin pie spice.) 

Here are the my steps (I’m not much of a measurer, so they aren’t overly specific):

  • Cut butternut squash in half and scoop out seeds.
  • Chop apple (I used 5 small organic Granny Smith apples) and mix with cinnamon to taste. 

  • Fill hollow of squash with apples, then top the rest of squash with any remaining apples. (I chose to cover the whole squash so I could slice it and each piece would have a nice, crisp topping.) Drizzle with a touch of pure maple syrup.
  • In a small bowl, cut together 1/2 stick softened butter and 1/2 cup flour until mixture forms a coarse crumble. Mix in 1 1/2 T sugar, 3 T old fashioned rolled oats, cinnamon and nutmeg to taste. 
  • Mound topping over apple mixture, covering as much of squash as possible. Top with toasted pecans.

  • Bake at 375 degrees until soft when pierced with a knife. If topping starts to brown too quickly, tent with aluminum foil. 
  • Serve squash while warm with an extra drizzle of pure maple syrup.

Since this was a huge squash, I decided to make one half for me and Daddy, and use the other half to make a roasted butternut squash and cinnamon apple puree for baby. (I just topped one half of the squash with apples and cinnamon and roasted both halves together. No butter or sugar for baby! You could add soaked oats, however, if you wanted to make it a little heartier.)

Once cooked, I just gave it a quick buzz in the food processor with enough water to thin.

The crisp itself was a little more decadent than I had intended (I got a little out of control with the topping, but I felt good about every ingredient, so I didn’t sweat it too much.) There was very little added sugar and only a little drizzle of maple syrup, and most of the sweetness came from the squash itself. This recipe is definitely going into the ‘Favorites’ file! A little sticky and syrupy on top with pillowy soft butternut underneath, served with a fresh pot of Canterbury Naturals Organic Split Pea Soup – it was a heavenly way to fill the house with the first aromas of fall!

One squash yielded enough for us to have it again tomorrow night (and ten servings of baby food!) I’ve been gardening most of my life, and I still find it pretty darned amazing that we can actually grow food ourselves. I just think it’s really cool, and  I probably always will. And, judging by the response I got at dinner this evening, someone else thinks it’s pretty neat, too…

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Filed under Parenting & Family, Recipes & Food

The Hydration Project: Eat Your Water

Not a big drinker? Me neither. That’s why I started The Hydration Project. Read about it here.

Did you know that many fruits and vegetables contain upwards of 90% water, making them a great way to add vital water to your diet and keep you properly hydrated? 

As if there weren’t already enough good reasons to eat your fruits and veggies!

It’s the water content that makes it possible for many fruits and veggies, such as salad greens, to deliver so few calories per serving. 

Consider one of my favorites: cucumbers! 

Composed primarily of water, cucumbers also have a fiber-rich skin. What’s the one thing you need when consuming more fiber? Water! See…it’s perfect! Isn’t Ma Nature’s food amazing when we don’t mess with it!

Watermelon is another good hydrator, but given that it’s called a watermelon, I’ll just leave that as  ‘nuff said.

Oranges, strawberries, cantaloupe, broccoli, bok choy, tomatoes…the list of foods that can help keep you from shriveling up like a raisin is a long one.

(I found a really helpful list of hydrating foods and the amount of water they contain on Shape Magazine’s website. Some meats are even on there…interesting….)

Raw fruits and veggies are highest in water content, but if it’s a hot meal you’re after, soups can also contribute to your daily fluid intake. Watch sodium, though. Start with either a low-sodium broth, or an easy homemade chicken or vegetable stock (a great way to use up odds and ends before they end up in the compost!) and season to taste with herbs, spices and salt controlled by you, not a manufacturer. Fill your soup full of vegetables for lots of flavor, nutrients and a burst of hydration! Your body will thank you on so many levels. 

Here’s a soup I recently made based on suggestions from many of my helpful readers! (See my original post here.) It’s an adaptation of one of my favorites: Stuffed Pepper Soup. Thanks to everyone for their healthy tweak ideas—I combined many of them and came up with a soup that, in my opinion, is way better than the original! And, with more veggies and less salt,  I’d be willing to bet it’s a good bit more hydrating, too….

ABCGP Stuffed Pepper Soup

  • 1 pound lean ground beef (or turkey or meatless crumbles)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 5 large fresh tomatoes (ours were Brandywine)
  • 3 large green bell peppers, diced (for extra flavor, roast pepper first, then dice)
  • 2 cups brown rice, cooked
  • 1 packet low-sodium beef bouillon (or your favorite soup base)
  • 1 T oregano (or season to taste with thyme, sage, or other favorite herbs)
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Brown ground beef in a skillet with onion and garlic. Drain. 

Put tomatoes in food processor and puree.  Add to crock pot. Add green peppers and beef mixture. Add seasonings and water; mix. Let cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours, adding precooked rice about 20 minutes before end of cooking time.

Not the prettiest photo, but a darned bangin’ soup. It’s a good thing, too, because our peppers are taking over the joint!

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Do you think of foods as being part of your daily water intake?

What’s your favorite hydrating meal/snack?

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Filed under Recipes & Food