Search This Blog

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Foods for Little Fingers

I don't know what you guys are doing at your house, but over here we're eating. Don't worry, we're hitting the gym five times a week to compensate (well, I am. Laney, Mia and Mike don't really seem to gain weight despite their general pigginess.) Since we're stuck inside most of the time now, we've decided to have a little fun with our food. Here are three snacks we've enjoyed recently.

Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins
This muffin recipe been great for us. I overbought cranberry sauce and pumpkin puree for the holiday. Both have good nutrition. Combined with not-too-much sugar, no butter and whole wheat flour, this is a treat that works for breakfast, snack or a as a side with pork tenderloin and brussel sprouts (yes, do it.) I've usually make it with a little less than a can of cranberry sauce bc I sneak some as a spread for lunchtime turkey sandwiches!

3-3.5 cups of whole wheat flour (or AP, or a mixture depending on what your kids will eat)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
dash cloves, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice

1/2 to 1 cup of sugar-type thing, brown, honey, pure cane
1 can of pumpkin
1 can of cranberry sauce
2 eggs
1/3 cup veg oil or applesauce
dash of orange or grapefruit juice

One kid mixes the wet, one kid mixes the dry, one mommy combines it all and bakes in greased muffin tins at 350 until it's done. I think 20-25 minutes, you have to check with a toothpick.

Pretzel Bites
I don't like pretzels. I used a cup in Crispix Mix a few weeks back and now I've got almost a whole bag. Luckily, they seem to work at snacktime! I need to get more fat and cals into Miss Mia than that so here we fancied it up. Also, I wanted to use my snowman treat dish because it was snowing. So I had to make little bites of something.

Hershey Kisses (caramel filled, yes.)

Let little fingers spend 20 minutes opening foil wrappers. Save wrappers to use as ornaments for tomorrow's construction paper Christmas tree. Arrange pretzels on cookie sheet. Top with Kisses. Bake at 300 for 3 minutes. Press M&Ms into kiss. Put on cute tray and offer to your husband upon his return from work. Watch husband not notice cute tray.

Banana Reindeer
I'm sure others have done this more intricately but I am neither artsy nor crafty so this is what I came up with for a healthy 2 minute snack project. Laney LOVED making these and both girls cleaned their plates without hesitation.

nut butter
pretzels (yay! using them up!)

Slice a banana in half length wise and width wise (so you have four oblong pieces of banana). Use nut butter as glue for eyes and mouth made of raisins. Also attach pretzel antlers with nut butter. All set.

Cooking and art projects. Indoor playdates and good naps (ha.) This is what'll be going on for the next few months. Yes, we'd rather be outside--but hey, we're going to have fun anyway. Mia's old enough now (18 months!) to participate and Laney is just so crafty. Now if I can just come up with a few more ideas...

Sunday, October 3, 2010


A few weeks back I bought Laney a big box of craft projects at the Toy Box. We have this situation where Mia naps for three hours (so good) but Laney naps for...not at all. So we need an awful lot of "quiet" activities to keep the afternoon running smoothly. Art projects are big.

In this box, there was a sticky butterfly and a bunch of post-it note sized tissue papers in various colors. The idea is to crumble the tissue paper ands stick it to the butterfly. What a simple idea.

What a good idea.

Especially after a birthday.

This became a DIY craft after I painstakingly cut all the tissue papers from gift bags into little squares (ok, it was neither painstaking nor time-consuming). I also unearthed the Elmer's School Glue. Give my 3 year old some glue, and you don't see her for a half hour. Which can be nice when I just want to watch Flipping Out on my DVR.

So what you need is tissue paper, a piece of copy or construction paper and glue. One drop of glue per tissue square. I got Laney started by drawing a tree trunk and she made a tree complete with falling leaves (or apples, whatever.) She also made a cute balloon. And of course, I've included the butterfly that started it all.

I realize this isn't exactly a unique activity idea but we are crazy in love with it right now and you should all give it a chance. It's good for hours of quiet fun!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I am not Martha Stewart.

So I've been staying at home for 3 years now (Happy Birthday, Laney!) For some reason, I thought the very act of staying at home with my children would hone certain areas of my skill set. I've become a better cook, I've gained patience, I may even be a *slightly* better housekeeper.

Still not crafty.

But I keep trying. A few weeks back I saw a bloated, aged Brendan Frasier make sidewalk chalk on Martha Stewart. He seemed either drunk or high (both?) and was able to create a colorful and neat chalk. So I figured that I could do this too. Or at least Laney, who has some skill and an actual attention span for this sort of thing, could enjoy this project.

The prep--took empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls. Duct taped the bottom, rolled a piece of parchment in each. Used big plastic cups (think house party-$5 cup) and disposable plastic cutlery for mixing.

The mix--a cup of water in each cup. 4-6 tablespoons of tempura paint mixed in. slowly mixed in a cup to a cup and a half of Plaster of Paris.

The set-up--poured PoP mix into cardboard cylinders. Let sit a couple of hours. Peeled off cardboard and parchment. Waited until the next day to use.

The result--ok, we made sidewalk chalk. The pros-an active project for the kids, a very colorful chalk, a good-size cylinder for little hands. The cons-messy, much more expensive to make than to buy, and oddly Mia keeps eating the homemade chalk. Can't explain that one.

Also in the Martha/Encino Man segment--homemade watercolors. Hmmmm.....

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Back to Blog!

So summer is officially over and so is my break from blogging. To recap the summer--we played outside. There, everyone's caught up. Blogging over the summer would have made for some pretty boring writes--we put our crafting and cooking aside in favor of running wild, swinging, sliding, swimming and gardening. The weather is chilling so we're spending more time back inside and getting creative again.

Apple season came quickly this year and we've already had our first big batch. We ate most by hand but had a few to use up and wanted to do it healthfully.

Apple Chips

Slice apples thinly (I didn't peel; I love the peel.)
Line cookie sheet with parchment
Arrange apple slices in one layer over parchment
Sprinkle with desired seasoning (we did some cinnamon sugar, some curry, some kosher salt)
Bake at 250 until crisp (an hour or so)

There you go!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Yes, you may have a cupcake for breakfast!

We recently made very yummy and healthy muffins. I adapted the recipe from Muffins A to Z.

2 c flour ( I used whole wheat)
1 1/4 c sugar (I used some white, some brown)
2 t baking soda
2 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
4 medium grated carrots
1 large grated apple
1/2 c raisins
1/2 c shredded coconut
1 c vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 t vanilla extract

Oven at 400. Combine everything but eggs, oil and vanilla. Then add eggs, oil and vanilla;) Put into greased muffin tin or cups and bake for 20-25 minutes (do toothpick test.)

These are so moist and yummy and full of good stuff. Coconut is particularly good for babes and tots. You can add nuts but then it's not so baby friendly.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Go West!

So, for the very first time, I left my family for a solo vacay. I desperately missed my good friend Jenny who ditched WI for Utah last year. So I booked a flight and headed west.
To the land of Mormons and honey.

Jenny and her husband Jeff (we like him too) picked me up in Salt Lake City and we dined on mole and margaritas. After dinner, we walked around the Mormon- Temple-big-epicenter-place and took in the beautiful setting. Zillions of flowers in bloom.

Jeff and Jenny live in Ogden, which is about a half hour from SLC. It's pretty much a bunch of mountains with a city scattered in the crevices. I stayed at their beautiful home, hiked mountains, took strolls around the town, ate, drank, shopped and sunned myself. Utah is gorgeous and old friends are worth the trip. I had an invigorating yet relaxing 48 hrs before heading home.

What was happening at home? It was Mike's first time overnight with the girls without me. And it was two overnights (plus another bedtime!) I'll tell you what wasn't happening--naps. But I came home (at midnight on Sunday) to a calm husband, sleeping babies and a VERY CLEAN HOUSE (he's welcome to clean when I'm home too...)

So all was well. Daddy is fun and Mommy is allowed to go away. That's good to know. I've been home less than a day and Laney has mentioned several times that she's getting on an airplane and going to Utah. I better let Jenny know to expect her!

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Happy Cinco de Mayo! In this post I'm going to throw in lots of half-correct (half-wrong) Spanish phrases and see how much I can make my mom cringe.

Any excuse for a party at our house. This week we decided to do la comida mexicana. We went with Mexican Chicken Soup and a Mexican Chocolate Cake. They are Mexican dishes because of the addition of *chili powder* to regular dishes. I never promised authenticity.

Laney le encanta cocinar, um, cakes. So she was excited. We did this first. I didn't have a cake mix but I had a full pantry so I decided we would make this cake from scratch. And then I made up a recipe. I think you're not supposed to do this for baking, but I am awesome so it worked.

Here's the recipe--

oven at 350, cake pan buttered and floured

1 cup AP flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder (it's unsweetened)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp or maybe more chili powder
1 stick butter (room temp)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup water
1/2 cup milk with 1/2 a lemon squeezed in it (I wanted buttermilk but didn't have any)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

I mixed things in that order. I think you're supposed to do dry, and then wet yada yada. I didn't. This batter seemed SO WET so I was scared. I based the proportions off a basic cake recipe and I was pretty sure the water was a mistake. It wasn't. The cake baked for about half an hour (do the toothpick test) and then remained moist and yummy for 4 days until it was gone. Instead of frosting Laney tapped powdered sugar on it. Delicioso!

To the soup. Soup is a great thing to make when home with young kids because nothing is time sensitive. I really just added chili powder to regular soup.

Just a note on chicken broth. It's best to make your own (I mean it.) Anytime I make any poultry with bones I throw the bones in a Zip Loc in the freezer. I also freeze vegetable scraps. When I have time, I simmer the stuff in water with salt and pepper and any loose herbs I have (always with a bay leaf) and then I cool/freeze. This is free. A second option is buying some sort of powdered/dried/concentrated bouillon situation. This is cheap but usually salty. I do this a lot; Trader Joe's is the best. Of course you can buy the cartons and cans at the market. That stuff is good but way expensive and soup is supposed to be a frugal choice. Que economico.

Sopa Mexicana

2 carrots
2 celery stalks
2 cloves garlic
1 giant onion
1 bell pepper
1 jalepeno pepper (don't touch your eyes)
1.5 lbs chicken breasts
1 can diced tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
1-2 cups water
1 tbsp taco seasoning
1 tbsp chili powder

Chop everything (up to the can of tomatoes). Saute the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, peppers. Add chicken and brown. Add all other stuff and let it simmer for 20 minutes to 3 hours.

Serve with triangled corn tortillas sprayed with PAM/baked in oven and guacamole. Aye Carumba!

I don't actually know what aye carumba means but it seemed right.

Happy eating!