And baby makes three. 3 kids to feed, that is. With the boys being in preschool 2 days per week now, I really enjoy our lunches at home. They seem to be so much easier for me than packing a lunch to go. Maybe it’s because I often just warm up leftovers and cut up some fruit. Easy! And, Anna just loves to watch her brothers eat and they think it’s so fun that she gets to eat with them now.
Here’s a sample of my lunch for 3 this week. The boys had creamy chicken and black beans from the freezer, a leftover sweet potato from dinner the previous night and kiwi. Anna had porridge and sweet potato.
Creamy Chicken and Black Beans
in the slow cooker or crock pot
- 1 1/2 lb uncooked frozen boneless skinless chicken breast
- 15 oz can black beans, drained (or dried beans soaked overnight and cooked)
- 1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes OR 15 oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
- 16 oz jar salsa
- 8 oz whole fat cream cheese
- Put frozen chicken breasts in crock pot, cover with black beans, tomatoes and salsa.
- Cook on high 4-5 hours or until chicken is cooked.
- Place block of cream cheese on top. Cook for an additional 30 minutes. Stir to incorporate cream cheese into sauce. The stirring
- should cause the chicken to shred.
- Serve with brown rice and guacamole.
- Roll in tortillas and add your sides of choice.
- Put a serving on top of salad greens and add any salsa, sour cream, or guacamole.
- Put on a tortilla and make into a quesadilla.
- This is a great recipe to freeze. I just store in serving size containers that I know I want to use for lunches.
Posted by tntmck on Jul 25, 2010 in Weekly
Well, we had a very calm, normal week, but such a fun weekend that I thought I would share. I’ve posted many times about how great it is to have prepared foods for on-the-go, but this is just another great example of how taking food with you is easy, fun, and nutritious.
We went to the science museum this weekend. And, no, this is not your typical quite, walk through and read plaques type museum. This is one filled with fun games and interactive exhibits for kids of all ages. I wasn’t the boys would really enjoy much at 17 months old, but boy was I wrong. They had a blast with their cousins and grandparents and we stayed 3 full hours. I’m posting here though, because the museum does not serve any food, but they do have a room with tables and chairs where you can bring your lunch, which of course is exactly what we did.
Lunch at the Museum
chicken (see picture – roasted on the smoker)
cottage cheese (with a spoon)
I had everything prepared and cut into pieces on plates with lids. We took a cooler and there was a microwave for warming before serving. Jonathan and I had huge mango-strawberry smoothies and almond butter sandwiches.
4 TBS Kosher Salt
4 TBS Rapadura (or your choice for sugar)
2 TBS Ground Cumin
4 TBS Chili powder
2 TBS Black Pepper
1 TBS Ground Cayenne Pepper
4 TBS Paprika
2 TBS Ground Thyme
Combine all ingredients together. You may choose to use a food processor or blender, which might help heat the spices, blending the flavors together without burning.
What I Learned
Getting started with lunch was not the most welcomed event of the day. We sat down to eat an hour late than usual and the boys were having such a good time running around and exploring that stopping for food wasn’t necessarily high on their priority list. However, it was past time to eat and we sat them down and served up the food. It took a while, but soon they were scarfing down all of their food, our smoothies, and finishing off the cousins hot dogs and bread, too.
Getting started with lunch was not the most welcomed event of the day. We sat down to eat an hour late than usual and the boys were having such a good time running around and exploring that stopping for food wasn’t necessarily high on their priority list. However, it was past time to eat and we sat them down and served up the food. It took a while, but soon they were scarfing down all of their food, our smoothies, and finishing off the cousins hot dogs and bread, too. So, in the end, the museum was a hit, lunch was devoured, the cousins and grandparents were the heros, and we headed home for some much-needed afternoon naps.
Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the smoked chicken was absolutely delicious! The rub was previously made for brisket, but it was amazing on this young 4lb chicken.
We will be doing this and many more fun adventures again soon! And, it’s great to know that you can always have yummy, healthy food with you when you’re out enjoying the many things your town has to offer.
Posted by tntmck on Jul 10, 2010 in Batch
This was a busy, hot week, but I planned Friday to do some freezer cooking for family meals. It’s hot and I don’t prefer in the kitchen heating up the oven this much, but it does save me some hot kitchen time down the road. The boys are continuing with their utensils and do eat every meal straight from their plates without any issues. We do still use the catch-style bibs to save a little floor cleanup, but not as much food is going in there these days and nothing is put on the table or chair for which I’m extremely grateful.
It is no secret that I like to make food in batches. Whether it be for initial baby purees, baby and toddler finger foods, or family meals, I prefer to knock out more than one thing at a time. If I’m going to be heating it up in the kitchen, why not make the most of it?
My focus for this Freezer Friday was 3 main dishes. I made meatloaf, chicken nuggets, and chicken divan. This made a total of at least 6 family meals sure to each have leftovers.
Chicken Nuggets A yummy alternative to those preservative-laden frozen store-bought nuggets.
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup bread crumbs (save bread ends and make your own)
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp basil
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Pound chicken to tenderize, then cut into 1″-2″ pieces.
- Put melted butter in BOWL ONE.
- In BOWL TWO, mix together breadcrumbs, cheese, salt, and spices.
- Dip chicken pieces into BOWL ONE and then BOWL TWI. Put on lightly greased cookie sheet in a single layer. Cook about 12 minutes (20 if not freezing).
- Let cool and store in freezer bags with date and final cooking instructions below.
- Remove from freezer and cook at 400° for about 8-10 minutes.
Freezer Meat Loaf A super easy, simple meat loaf for the freeze
- 3 pounds ground beef
- 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
- 3-1/2 cups milk
- 1 cup minced onion
- 2 eggs
- 2 TBSP sea salt
- 2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 tsp ground pepper
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, getting messy and really squishing everything together well with your hands.
- Divide into two 9″x5″ loaf pans.
- Wrap, label with date and cooking instructions below, and freeze.
- Remove from freezer and unwrap 3 hours before cooking. Preheat oven to 350° and cook for 2 – 2-1/2 hours.
Try this spinach meatloaf perfect for a wholesome toddler meal.
Chicken Divan A easy, creamy, green-filled complete meal in a dish.
- 40oz frozen broccoli (cooked)
- 4 cups cooked chicken, sliced into pieces
- 3/4 cup butter
- 3/4 cup flour
- 6 cups whole milk
- 1 cup whole cream
- 2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 TBSP mustard
- 4 TBSP minced onion
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- salt & pepper (to taste)
- In one large or two smaller casseroles, place cooked broccoli and top with chicken.
- In a large pan melt butter. Gradually add flour. Once thickened, add milk, stirring until combined. Once smooth, add remaining ingredients, stirring until heated through and cheese is melted.
- Pour sauce over chicken and broccoli.
- Allow to cool, then wrap, label with date and cooking instructions below, and freeze.
- Remove from freezer and unwrap 2-1/2 hours before cooking. Preheat oven to 350° and cook for 2-1/2 hours.
WHAT I LEARNED
I’ve had some people ask me how I do this with little ones at home and there are two things that I would say. Preparation and timing are key. I spend time preparing the meals I will prepare, making grocery lists, and then scheduling. I schedule the process from start to finish, including prep and cleanup and plan my cook time during long afternoon naps. There are times when I will do some prep the night before or finishing on a Saturday when dad can watch the kids. Either way, I know exactly what I will do when because of the initial planning and scheduling.
I can’t attest to the quality or taste of any of these meals yet as we have not thawed and enjoyed any of them yet. However, I can say that my husband commented on how nice the freezer looked with all of the blue plastic wrap.
I really, really, really cannot say enough about how much I enjoy freezer cooking. I do it to fill in meals during the week and especially on weekends. I like to mix it up with quick, fresh-cooked meals for nice variety and a good break from the kitchen in the week.
Posted by tntmck on Jul 1, 2010 in Dairy
Can you believe that 2010 is halfway over? I really cannot. But, in the spirit of the middle of the year, I decided to take a look back at where I started at WEEK 1
and see how far we’ve come. I’ve been making and feeding my boys healthy food since they were 6 months old, but I just started this blog documenting our experiences this year. So, back in January I did my first weekly post where I mainly shared what foods I’ve made and how it had gone so far. Today, I’m sharing recipes and talking about how we enjoy meals together as a family. It’s amazing how quickly things change in these little lives.
I’ve never been much of a mayonnaise fan which means that I don’t care for many of the traditional “salads” like potato salad, macaroni salad, tuna salad, chicken salad, etc. I do realize how nice it is to have these around though, for quick lunches and cool, refreshing summer sides. So, over the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to come up with a chicken salad recipe that I could more than tolerate, but rather enjoy. And, I think I’ve done it. The boys like it, I like it, and I think that maybe Jonathan even likes it. He will eat it, but does pick out the celery.
This chicken salad was created on researching, trying, testing, and tasting various versions over the period of a few weeks. I love cheese, so thought that would be a good substitute for yucky mayonnaise.
- Cheesy Chicken Salad A yummy alternative to your traditional mayonnaise-based concoction.
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp honey
- 2 TBS plain yogurt
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 TBS minced garlic
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 lb cooked chicken breast, chopped, torn, or shredded (I used leftover from a roasted chicken, but you could boil or bake as well.)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced
- Put ricotta cheese, lemon juice, mustard, honey, yogurt, milk, garlic, salt and pepper into the blender or food processor and purée until smooth.
- Put chicken, celery, and onions into a large bowl. Mix in the cheese mixture and stir to coat.
- Serve immediately or cover and chill in the refrigerator. This will last a few days.
WHAT I LEARNED
It’s not too hard to adjust a recipe to your liking. It just takes a little thought, trial and error to get it right. Experiment and change up the ingredients and flavorings to get it just how you like it. This is a great thing to have on hand especially in these hot summer months for quick lunches and easy bites for toddlers.
We all liked it, even me and if you ask anyone that knows me, seeing me eat chicken salad would be a weird thing indeed.
We’ve had a nice break in the humidity around here the past few days, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking about things to keep it cool in the kitchen. This one is great, but I’m off to think of some more great ideas. I’m off for a few days to enjoy the holiday weekend. Happy Fourth of July!
Please share your thoughts or ideas!
Posted by tntmck on May 31, 2010 in Weekly
This was a fun week with lots of good family time. Of course, any good holiday includes lots of yummy food and this Memorial Day Weekend was not lacking.
I found myself a little behind this week on food, so I tried to make up for it a little this weekend. We also enjoyed an extra long, nice weekend to ourselves and with family. I’m going to outline by days this weekend since I don’t really have any new specific foods or recipes to share from this week.
- Friday A nice visit from Granny and Grandaddy and we enjoyed hamburgers on the grill with salad and sweet potatoes. We weren’t quite ready with the burgers in time for the boys to eat, but they enjoyed their own chicken, peas, and avocado. Owen was distracted or not willing to eat for some reason, so he ate half of my burger and sweet potato after he and Wyatt were done at the table.
- Saturday This was a great day for mom. I got away to run some errands at the mall and a haircut on my own. Dad took care of the boys and they had a great time together!
- Sunday This was a full day for sure. We ate breakfast at home, then headed out for the day. From church, we went to Mimi and Pappy’s house for lunch. The boys scarfed up some grilled salmon, baked sweet potato fries, pasta, and bread. They also got to enjoy some yummy graham crackers for a snack after naps. From there we went to Uncle Bryan and Aunt Rebecca’s pool, but ended up getting rained out. Oh well, they prepared a yummy meal with chicken and mushrooms in a goat cheese sauce with broccoli, ezekial bread, tomatoes, and strawberries. Wyatt chowed down, but Owen was a little too distracted by his super fun cousins.
- Monday We enjoyed a fun family day at home and dad smoked a chicken for us. With ginger on the inside, he stood it up on the Big Green Egg and we had super moist, yummy chicken for dinner along with some garlicky green beans. I also made some more spinach bites for the fridge and freezer as well as bagging up some leftover chicken for the boys’ lunches.
WHAT I LEARNED
Eating has always been something we’ve enjoyed with family and our boys are seeming to be agreeable to eating with others. Owen just tends to get distracted much easier.
Everything was super yummy this weekend, but I have to say the boys really did seem to like the grilled salmon a lot. They’ve had salmon and other fish before and always seem to eat more than when they’re having chicken or beef.
Owen is starting to get a little picky and finicky these days. Sometimes he wants to eat from a fork. Sometimes he wants to be fed. Sometimes he wants to feed himself. Sometimes he just doesn’t want to eat for whatever reason. I’ve noticed he can be easily distracted or not eat well for lunch if we’ve skipped a morning nap. Either way, this usually only happens for one meal a day, but I know this is typical toddler eating behavior. Wyatt hasn’t really acted this way yet and for the most part Owen is still a big eater.
Please share your thoughts or ideas.
Posted by tntmck on May 23, 2010 in Meat
In an effort to continue towards our GOAL: Eating With the Family we made yet another yummy chicken meal this week. We’re also working more with plates, utensils, and cups as well as healthy snacks to keep happy tummies throughout the day.
This week, I decided that Jonathan and I needed something quick and easy to take for our lunches. Well, I also wanted this to be something the boys could eat, so I went for chicken salad. If you know me, you’re thinking I’ve completely lost it because I don’t like chicken salad. Well, let’s just say I’m trying new things and giving old things another shot.
- Zesty Chicken Salad A nice flavorful way to spice up the standard salad.
- 1 tsp. Italian herbs
- 1/8 tsp. garlic powder (+ more for salad mixture)
- 4 chicken thighs, skinned or boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 tablespoon of omega–3 mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon flaxseed oil or garlic–chili flax
- chopped onions
- chopped peppers
- chopped celery
- Place chicken in a greased glass baking pan.
- Sprinkle herbs, garlic powder and paprika on both sides.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes or until chicken juices run clear when tested with a fork.
- Let chicken cool, then cut into pieces.
- Combine mayonnaise, flaxseed oil, onions, peppers, celery, and chicken. Taste, then add paprika and garlic powder as desired and mix together.
- Serve over lettuce or on toasted bread.
[I used thighs and they were super moist and yummy, but you can use breasts if you like white meat better. I forgot to get a picture of the finished salad...wow, what a let-down, huh?]
WHAT I LEARNED
The chicken salad is great for adult lunches, but the chicken makes perfect food for little fingers or those just learning to use a fork.
The chicken was a hit with the whole family! Be sure to check out this other chicken recipe to fill your fridge.
I love the versatility of this recipe for sandwiches, salads, and protein for little ones. I will make it again, maybe even this week!
On a separate note, Owen is using a fork and spoon well when the food is loaded on it for him. We’ve also mainly switched to using our regular plates as the solid, white, heavy plates don’t seem as interesting to “play” with during mealtimes. I did see a few times this week where I thought the appetite was decreasing a bit, but it turned out to be a ear infection and a fever which both resolved quickly and appetites came back in full force. The boys continue to eat food more quickly than I can prepare it.
Please share your thoughts or ideas.
Posted by tntmck on May 8, 2010 in Meat
This week we stepped up our chicken cooking a notch. Chicken and beef are such staples around here that I’m determined to find many ways to prepare. You may think, what does this have to do with feeding my baby or toddler. Well, just read GOAL: Eating With the Tamily and you’ll get the idea. Over the past few months, we’ve really been making big steps as a whole family in eating well together. I’ll also note that more things are changing around here in reference to Babies Changing Parents’ Habits and I hope to share more on that in the coming weeks as well.
Instead of baking, sauteing, or grilling chicken breasts, thighs, or tenderloins, we went for the whole bird. It really is super easy and you get a lot of meat for your endeavors. There’s so many ways to season, but I’ve shown one option below that I tried this week.
- Roast Chicken with Rosemary & Lemon A tasty way to roast a nice, beautiful chicken right in your oven at home.
- 1 whole chicken, rinsed
- Butter, salt and pepper to taste
- 1 small onion, quartered
- 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary (I only had dried on hand, but I think fresh would be best.)
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Remove any giblets from the chicken. Rinse and pat dry.
- Rub the chicken with the butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle lemon juice on top. Stuff with the onion, rosemary, and lemon halves after juicing.
- Tuck the wings under the body and tie the legs together.
- Place chicken a shallow roasting dish, breast-side up, preferably on a rack.
- Roast in the preheated oven for 20 minutes per pound, or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear. Cooking time will vary a bit depending on the size of the bird and your oven.
- Allow to rest, then carve and serve or store.
[I forgot to get a picture of the golden roasted chicken, but believe me...it was beautiful!]
I roasted in the morning, let it sit and served for lunch. I also carved the rest to store in the refrigerator for later lunches and dinner.
WHAT I LEARNED
Chicken is good, but much better when bought fresh, whole and roasted. It’s juicy and flavorful and great for leftovers or use in other dishes.
The chicken was a hit!
Chicken will continue to be a primary source of protein around here and I’ve recently found that I can buy 2 whole organic chickens at Costco…yippee!
Please share your thoughts or ideas.