And then they…

the things we do to live a better life.

Archive for the category “Eating In”

Baby Led Weaning: How To Do It and What You’ll Need

And then They - Baby Led Weaning

Oh, the exciting time when your baby is old enough to sit up, interact with you, smile, laugh, and eat!  I’ll be honest with you.  I’m not really a baby person.  I like the little babies, sure, but I am always so excited for them to grow up a little and become more interactive and fun.  Six months is an amazing age – they are doing such fun things, and becoming more of an active part of the family.

In our family, we love dinnertime.  It is a time of day that we all gather and spend time together.  I remember long, lingering dinners growing up.  We sit at the table every night.  We light candles every night.  We use cloth place mats, and cloth napkins every night.  These are important to me

It is also important to me that my kids eat what we eat.  There are many reasons for this.  It’s nutritious, it broadens their palates, and most importantly, it’s easy.  I don’t need to cook three different dinners, and keep track of minute dietary details.  This leads us to Baby Led Weaning.

And Then They - Harriet BlueberriesFirst of all, I want to clear up a misconception.  The term weaning in this sense isn’t how Americans typically understand it (as in the taking away of something, like nursing, or bottles).  It means that you will start introducing foods to a baby’s diet, in addition to breast milk, or formula.  The baby should still be getting the huge majority of their food and nutrition from breast milk.

If you start your baby on pureed foods, you need a huge number of things:  food mill, food processor, jars, spoons, time, planning, processed baby food, money.  If you make your own purees, it is time consuming, messy, expensive.  If you buy pre-made baby food in jars, it’s also expensive, and you don’t really always know what’s in the jars.  You also always need to carry pureed food with you.

If you do Baby Led Weaning you need three things:

  1. A baby
  2. Food
  3. A sense of humor (and maybe a bib or two)

Seriously.  that’s all you need.  For real.

We did this with Alma, and she’s two now.  She’s the best eater I know.  She eats Thai food, Mexican food, vegetables, soups, and her favorite food is Sushi.  So, we are doing it again with Harriet.

And Then The - Alma Sweet PotatoI like to start with sweet potatoes, or yams, cut into French-fry shaped sticks, and roasted.  The shape is good for beginning eaters because it is easy to grasp and get to the mouth.  It’s important to only try one kind of food at a kind, and wait a couple days before trying the next, to make sure your baby doesn’t have a reaction.

We’ve been doing it for about a month with Harriet and she loves it.  Her favorite foods are roasted, then frozen cauliflower bites, blueberries, sweet potatoes, peas (so cute to see her pudgy little fingers pick up a pea and get it to her mouth), rice cakes, yogurt, applesauce, green beans, asparagus.

And Then They - Harriet EatingAnother plus to BLW is that it really encourages independence and fine motor skills.  Harriet can pick up a tiny pea, and get it to her mouth just fine.  She’s also getting pretty good at using a spoon to get applesauce from a bowl to her mouth.

It’s pretty amazing to see a little baby feeding herself.  She only has the beginnings of her two bottom teeth, but she can chew up all her food, work it around in her mouth, and swallow it, no problem.  It is so natural and instinctual (not like purees, if you ask me).

And Then They - 1 Harriet CauliflowerAnd Then They - 2 Harriet CauliflowerAnd Then They - 3 Harriet CauliflowerOne thing to be aware of is that babies will sometimes gag (this is the case in BLW, and with purees).  It is really important to understand that gagging is very different than choking.  Gagging is a sign that they are figuring it out, I see it as a sign of success when Harriet gags a little.  It teaches her how to keep the food in the right part of her mouth until she’s ready to swallow it.

One of my favorite parts of BLW is that we get to eat dinner as a family.  We each sit up at the table and eat.  Jesse and I get to enjoy our meals.  We’re not constantly focused on Harriet, trying to force feed her.  Harriet eats until she doesn’t want to eat anymore.

And Then They - Harriet CauliflowerI think it’s empowering.  Harriet gets to choose what she eats from what’s in front of her.  She gets to choose the pace in which she eats it.  She gets to choose when she’s had enough.

And Then They - Harriet popsicleShe’s a happy eater, so we’re a happy family!  Let me know if you have any fun baby feeding stories, or if you have any questions!  Cheers!

A Little Moment – 1

image

I am ironing some fabric for my next project.

Alma is eating “appleboss” and blueberry “muffums” that she helped bake.

Harriet is watching Alma and sitting in her high chair.

My daughters are becoming friends.

Easy Homemade Beer Chili Recipe

Chili

This recipe is something I’ve eaten my whole life.  My strongest memories of it are on winter days, sitting at the tile table my dad built, after my mom came home from teaching skiing.  I’m not entirely sure of the accuracy of this memory, but that doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that this is my comfort food.  And it’s really easy.

Baltica

Beer is key.  I love the subtle beer flavor that this chili recipe has.  It really makes it taste like chili to me.  I’ve made it before when we didn’t have beer to add, and it just wasn’t right.  This time, we had some Baltika 6 hanging around, so I threw that in.  This is a fun beer because it is a throwback to our time in Peace Corps, Azerbaijan.  I was even able to find all the ingredients to make this chili while we were in Azerbaijan.  I digress…  So without further ado…

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 Tbs chili powder (more or less to taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Beer – 1 can, or bottle, or half a 20, or however much you want to use.  I usually just use whatever we have around
  • 1 cup beef broth (I use a bullion cube and a cup of hot water)
  • 1 large can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can (14.5 oz) tomato sauce
  • 1 extra-small can (4 oz) diced green chilies
  • 1 small can (14.5 oz) red kidney beans, drained

Directions:

  1. Brown and drain ground beef over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onions and saute until they begin to get soft.
  3. Add cumin seeds, chili powder, salt, and pepper and saute until aromas start to smell good.
  4. Pour in beer and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot.
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients except the beans, and simmer for at least 1/2 hour to let the flavors meld and develop.  The longer the better on this.
  6. Stir in beans when almost ready to serve.

When I was little, we would eat this chili with wheat crackers, so that’s what tastes right to me.  My husband prefers cornbread, so we have that sometimes.  Enjoy!

Eggnog Pancakes

eggnog pancakesHere’s a really good recipe for you to try!  It feeds one toddler and one mommy.  Maybe more if your toddler doesn’t eat spoonfuls of the flour mixture.  You can double it if you have another parent or toddler who will be eating with you.

Here are the directions (more detailed directions and ingredients can be found at the end of the post):

Mix ingredients.  These are pancakes, so it doesn’t really take a lot a skills.

stirrinPour batter onto a hot griddle.

cookinFlip pancakes.

flippedRealize this would be easier (and safer) if you put the baby down in her bouncy seat.  Put baby in her bouncy seat (that doesn’t look super safe on the table, but know if your heart that it is).

Baby in SeatFinish cooking and eat.

PancakesMake sure baby falls asleep while you and your toddler enjoy your pancakes.

SleepingDone!

Now here’s how you really do it…helpin

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 cup eggnog (I used light eggnog, but I suppose you could use regular)
  • 1 egg
  • 1Tbs oil

Directions:

  1. Get a toddler.  You can skip this step if you want.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together.
  3. Try to stop your toddler from eating spoonfuls of flour and baking soda and salt.  Gross.  You can also skip this step, especially if you skipped step one.
  4. Mix wet ingredients.
  5. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir well.
  6. Cook pancakes on hot griddle until bubbles form and pop.
  7. Flip and finish cooking.
  8. Eat.  We ate them plain, but I bet they would be good with your favorite pancake toppings.  Especially whipped cream and a little nutmeg.

Enjoy!

 

Quick and Easy Salmon and Brussels Sprouts

I love salmon and Brussels sprouts.  Separately, they are good, but together, they are amazing!  Here’s my quick, easy, foolproof method for preparing both.  I had dinner on the table in under 25 minutes, start to finish.  That’s a win in my book.

Last night we had our salmon and Brussels sprouts with coleslaw from our fish market.  They make the best coleslaw, it’s hard to pass up when we go buy fresh fish.  I suppose this meal would be better with a nice rice pilaf or fingerling potatoes, but it’s good with coleslaw, too.

The salmon couldn’t be easier to cook.  I used to be totally intimidated by cooking fish, but then I discovered this method.  Rub olive oil on both sides of salmon, put on a baking sheet with parchment paper, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Here’s the key:  put in a cold oven then set the oven temperature to 400 degrees.  In about 20-25 minutes (depending on the size and thickness of the fish) it’s done!   I have never overcooked our salmon using this method.  A-maz-ing.

While the salmon is cooking, chop up some Brussels sprouts.  I usually quarter them, unless they’re really big, then I cut a little more.  It’s not a science.

Heat up some olive oil over medium/ medium-high heat and throw in the sprouts.  Stir occasionally while you get your relish ready for the salmon.  It usually takes 10-15 minutes total to cook the sprouts.  Turn the heat down if it seems like they are browning too quickly.  Throw some pepper in, if you feel like it.  Or some herbs.  I put herbes de Provence in pretty much everything, but you don’t have to.  Again, it’s not a science.

I love this relish, because it tastes like a summer day.  Seriously.  It’s seriously easy, too.  Chop up some herbs.  Last night I used parsley and chives because that’s what I have growing right now.  I’ve also used dill and cilantro.  Use whatever you like.  Throw in some capers, some olive oil and the juice of a small lemon.  Add pepper, but not salt (the capers have enough salt!).  Taste a little and see if you like it.  If you don’t, add more of whatever you think would make it better.  Not a science (do you sense a theme yet?).

When the sprouts are almost done, pour in a little balsamic.  Yum.  Stir it all together until the vinegar has reduced and everything looks good and done.

Take the salmon out of the oven, put it on plates, add some of the relish on top, throw some sprouts on the plate and whatever else.  Done!  So quick!  So easy!  So yummy!

Salmon

  • Fresh salmon (about a half pound per person)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

Relish

  • Quarter cup of chopped herbs (parsley, dill, cilantro, chives, whatever)
  • Juice of a small lemon
  • Quarter cup capers
  • Tablespoon or so olive oil
  • Pepper to taste

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

  • Brussels sprouts (about a half pound per person?  Cut up however much you think you would eat)
  • Olive oil for cooking
  • Pepper
  • 1/8th – 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (just pour it in and see how it looks)

Monday Menu (on Tuesday … again)

Monday:  Fried Rice

Tuesday:  Chicken Strips

Wednesday: Pork Verde

Thursday: Thai Beef

Friday:  Grilled Cheese

Saturday: Ravioli

Monday Menu (on Tuesday)

Monday:  Grilled Cheese on homemade bread and tomato soup

Tuesday:  Out with friends for soup (I had a root canal today… yuck)

Wednesday: Fried rice

Thursday:Ravioli or chicken noodle soup

Friday:  Spaghetti at a friend’s house, we’re taking salad

Saturday:  Lasagna at a friend’s house, we’re taking another salad

Novruz Preparation – Making Plov and Dovga

When I lived in Azerbaijan, I got to try a lot of the traditional foods.  I guested at a lot of people’s houses, but I have to say my host mother was the greatest cook of them all.  When we left, Jesse and I made sure we got some of Bibi’s recipes.  Two that I make every Novruz are her plov and her dovga.  Plov is a rice pilaf with chicken, dried fruit and saffron.  Dovga is a warm yogurt soup with greens.  Yum.

While I have to admit that my plov doesn’t hold a candle to Bibi’s, I think it gets better every year.  I think the key (that I have somewhat neglected in the past) is copious amounts of butter.  It just doesn’t get that true Azeri flavor if you skimp on the butter.  This year we used a lot, and it was much better!

While my plov doesn’t measure up, my dovga is awesome!  Dovga is one of the things that volunteers either loved or hated.  I hated it.  Until I tried Bibi’s.  Seriously, I could barely get dovga down most times, but when Bibi made it, I couldn’t get enough!  I don’t know what it was, but I’m so glad she shared her recipe with me!

Jesse also made cutlet, which you can see in the following photo.  This isn’t really a traditional Novruz food, but it’s an American pleaser since it’s just ground beef, lamb, herbs and onions pan fried in patties.  Good stuff!

Bibi’s Plov:

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 1 – 2 hours

  • 4 Chicken pieces
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 1 pound white rice
  • chestnuts (I can never find this, and the canned ones are gross, so I leave chestnuts out)
  • 1/2 cup yellow raisins
  • Dried fruit: apricots, plums, etc
  • Butter – a couple sticks
  • Saffron 10-15 strands
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup yogurt

Prepare rice like normal.  While rice is cooking, prepare the chicken in a frying pan.  When rice is almost done,   strain, put in a bowl, add 2 ounces butter and set aside.  Mix eggs and yogurt in a bowl and spread on the bottom of a large pot.  Sprinkle with about a cup of the rice.  Pour chicken juices over the rice, arrange the chicken in a single layer.  Put onion slices over the chicken and top with remaining rice.  In a small bowl, dissolve the saffron in 2 tablespoons hot water.  Pour this over the rice.  Cut 1 or 2 sticks of butter over the rice.  Seal the pot tightly with a towel, put pot over low heat for 1-2 hours.  Add raisins and dried fruit 5-10 minutes before plov is done cooking.

Bibi’s Dovga:

Prep time/ cook time: 30 minutes

  • 1 quart plain yogurt
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 Tbs flour
  • 1/2 cup white rice
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 bunch Italian parsley
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 1/2 bunch spinach
  • 1 small bunch dill

Cut up greens and set aside.  In a small bowl, mix rice and egg.  In a large bowl mix yogurt, water and flour.  Add rice to yogurt mixture and put on stove.  Bring to a bowl, stirring constantly.  When rice is soft, add greens and keep stirring.  When greens are soft serve in small bowls or glasses, with or without spoons.

Oh my gosh, my mouth is watering!

Monday Menu Planning

Here’s what’s on the menu for this week:

Monday: Leftover chilli and cornbread.  I made a huge pot of chilli a couple weeks ago and froze what we didn’t eat.  Yum!

Tuesday: Chicken strips and green beans (frozen from my garden)

Wednesday: Fried rice and pot stickers

Thursday: Soft tacos with friends

Friday: Chicago Style deep dish pizza

Saturday: Dinner at a friend’s house

Sunday: Eggs Benedict brunch for Easter

Novruz Preparations – Part 1

It’s that time of year again.  Actually, it’s a little after that time of year, but hey, we were busy!  It’s Novruz!!  Novruz is my second favorite holiday of the year (Christmas is just slightly better).   Jesse and I first learned about and celebrated Novruz while we were in the Peace Corps in Azerbaijan.  It celebrates the new year that begins on the first day of spring.  You can read more about it here.  Alma and I spent about an hour today working on our first preparations for our 3rd annual Novruz party.

Alma helping me make chocolate syrup, Novruz eggs and empty the dishwasher.

To keep up with my goal of using my time in the kitchen wisely, while the eggs were cooking, I also made a batch of chocolate syrup and worked on cleaning up some of our dishes.

Women in Azerbaijan work very hard to provide an amazing feast for their families.  These feasts might happen on each Tuesday before the equinox and an ever bigger feast on the equinox.  Like I said, Azerbaijani women work very hard.  I started my prep by hard boiling 10 eggs and dying them.  Not too hard for the first round of prep.

I love that eggs are part of this Islamic celebration.  It really reminds me how truly connected and similar Islam is to Christianity.  If only everyone could see it that way.  Like Easter eggs, Novruz are dyed various colors.

While Easter eggs are hidden and found, Novruz eggs are part of a different game.  Each person picks an egg, then people go around the table trying to break each others’ eggs by tapping them together.  The person who has the unbroken egg in the end is the winner!

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