Posted by tntmck on Mar 7, 2012 in Batch
, Freezer Cooking
Ok, warmer weather is on the horizon. We love making our own cool Smoothies and Summertime Yogurt Pops, but here’s another quick idea for Frozen Yogurt Bites. Mix up whatever flavors you like best and freeze away. I could see freezing these in individual batches so you can just pull out a batch for the kids (and probably yourself) and enjoy a nice, cool treat!
Source: Uploaded by user on Pinterest
NOTE: After seriously going back down the line to at least 50 different pinners, I have yet to find the original pin. If anyone knows the source, please let me know and I will give credit.
Posted by tntmck on Jun 17, 2011 in Dairy
Well, it’s not officially summer, but it sure has been hot around here. The boys are enjoying lots of fruit, playing in the water, and drinking lots of water, too. We decided to change up snack time a little this afternoon and instead of a smoothie, we made some yummy frozen strawberry yogurt pops. If you have a mold, then the rest of the ingredients are probably already in the fridge. Even without a mold, you could use ice cube trays or any other small containers and even add some wooden popsicle sticks or plastic stir sticks.
Strawberries (or fruit of your choice)
A splash of milk
I simply eyeballed the ingredients and threw everything in the blender and added more of any ingredient as it blended. I only made a small amount, so it really was just a few frozen strawberries, a couple spoonfulls of plain, whole yogurt, a good dollop of honey, a few ice cubes, and literally a splash of whole milk. How’s that for exacting?
Pour the mixture into your molds. Insert sticks and freeze. Remember to let them sit out a bit before trying to remove the pops so you don’t end up breaking them upon removal.
Toddler Timing Tip: Make and freeze these with your toddler as a morning activity. Then, they will be perfectly frozen and ready to go for an after nap afternoon snack!
The boys took a little while figuring out they preferred licking and eating the pops and not playing, dripping, and dropping them everywhere. By the time we made it to the end of the tray (yes, they finished them all off), they were loving them and wanting more!
Posted by tntmck on Aug 29, 2010 in Pasta
And, where is the best place to eat pasta? Well, outside of course. At least, that is with my two boys. Pasta is a tried and true favorite, but it is also an obviously huge mess. So, when the weather cooperates, mommy and boys are both über happy. They get their pasta, the grass gets the droppings, and the boys get sprayed off with the hose. It’s a perfect mealtime for everyone.
This week, we also took the boys for their first dentist trip. I share this here, because I feel like good eating habits and oral hygiene go at least somewhat hand-in-hand. Does just over 18 months old and going to the dentist sound weird to you? Well, it did to me too, but our dentist even wants them to come in younger. He recommends when they get their first tooth. Well, that’s a little ridiculous to me, but we did go ahead and schedule since Wyatt seemed to be taking his sweet time getting his teeth and overall it was a fine trip, but I got reprimanded. Yes, in all my years, I’ve never had a single problem going to the dentist myself. Well, now I get in trouble for not having brushed my boys teeth well enough who have only been outside the womb for just over 18 months. I’ve learned my lesson and we’re on a strict teeth-brushing regimen from here on out.
One of my silly boys
showing off his only
4 teeth not too long
before his first ever
You’ve seen the mess before. I posted pictures of the boys eating pasta inside along with the pasta recipe. But, now here’s where the fun begins. Take the same, good ole pasta outside and what do you get? Well, it’s the same good ole pasta, but the mess stays outside!
Chicken Sausage Pasta
You can find the recipe here. I’m just showing off the fruits of my labor with photos today.
What I Learned
I was reminded of how much I love being able to eat lunch outside (and dinner for that matter). This is a great time of year and a wonderful thing for mom and boys. One other tip that I’ve learned when feeding ultra hungry boys a favorite meal is to bring an extra dish to the table for seconds and thirds. It’s not always easy to get up with two ravenous 18 month olds, so I come prepared.
The boys continue to love pasta almost as much as hot dogs and salmon! They made it through a whole round of thirds and I had to officially throw in the towel. Literally, I had to spray them off and throw a towel around them to clean them up…phew!
Remember to add-in those healthy vegetables into your sauce. Carrots and zucchini are a great place to start. Don’t forget the spices…make it tasty!
Posted by tntmck on Aug 8, 2010 in Weekly
We’ve been grilling and smoking a lot this summer. From whole chickens to steaks, burgers, and fish to pizzas and whole vegetables, the amazing food just keeps coming from our back patio. This weekend I tried something new and great!
With Jonathan really enjoying the grill this summer, we’ve been able to have lots of leftovers for the fridge that are perfect for the weekend meals or lunch the next day. I don’t really know any details to tell you on how he does most of his grilling, but I can tell you it’s good. However, we have done some modified patty melts a few times that are just amazing. There’s nothing special here, but I thought I would detail out the ingredients and how we’ve put them all together. Keep in mind that some of these ingredients may sound a little detailed or odd since we’ve recently made THE GREAT CHANGE.
Outdoor Grill Version Patty Melts
1 onion, sliced in thin rings
1 lb ground beef (grass-fed from our local farmer’s market)
8 slices bread (making your own from soaked grains would be great, but I use the Ezekiel brand or Trader Joe’s Sprouted Wheat Bread)
raw, white cheddar cheese (cut into slices for burgers)
Sauté onions in butter in pan on top of grill (or on stove if needed).
Divide ground beef into even portions. Pat out fairly thin, slightly larger than your bread slices (they will shrink up). Sprinkle one side with sea salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Flip and sprinkle the other side with black pepper and garlic powder only. Grill as you would normally and place cheese on top of patties at the end of grilling to melt.
Butter one side of each slice of bread and toast.
Place cheese on top of patties at the end of grilling to melt. Put burgers on top of plain side of bread. Spoon onions on top of cheese. Put another slice of bread on top of burger and onions, buttered side out. I like the buttered sides out so that I can enjoy the taste. Serve and enjoy.
What I Learned
I had been making these inside on the stove top with my cast iron cookware. But, with the recent heat and desire to grill outside, we moved to doing burgers on the grill. We love the patty melts so much, that we were able to move the exact recipe outside, onions and all.
The boys love burgers and really enjoy the onions, too. We usually have sweet potatoes or baked sweet potato fries with them, so that’s always a big hit as well.
These burgers and all of our other grilled meats outside have just been wonderful! Jonathan is really getting the hang of grilling the grass-fed beef and of course we love a good smoked chicken and homemade pizza (post coming soon).
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 18, 2010 in Weekly
Well, I’ve always felt this way about food, but I think my boys had a fun-filled food week this week. It just seems that we let loose a little and they enjoyed a few things that are just plain fun to eat. Overall, I had a couple of big dinner eaters on my hands this week. These were those meals where you get up from the table to get seconds, thirds, fourths, and have to just “call it” once the food runs out. I couldn’t get food fast enough and definitely watched them out-eat both me and Jonathan at the table for dinner.
From the usual roast, salmon, fruit, and broccoli to pasta, smoothies, and a trip for ice cream, everything was a big hit this week and we enjoyed some beautiful messes along the way.
Chicken Sausage Pasta
2 cups tomato sauce
1 tsp oil
1 clove garlic
1 cup spinach
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp thyme
4 chicken sausages
8 ounces dry pasta
Slice sausages into bite-size pieces.
In a large pan, heat garlic in oil.
Add sausage to heat through.
Add spinach, tomato sauce, and seasonings.
Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add pasta and mix well.
1/2 cup dairy ONE (choose one: whole yogurt, kefir, cow’s milk, or goat’s milk)
1/2 cup dairy TWO (choose one: whole yogurt, kefir, cow’s milk, or goat’s milk)
1 TBS flax seed oil
1 TBS raw honey
1/2+ cup fruit ONE (dominant flavor, usually a berry)
1/4+ cup fruit TWO (underlying flavor, usually pineapple, mango, or second berry)
Blend well in blender, adding extra dairy or ice cubes to thin as needed. I like to use frozen fruit with mine so the smoothie is more like a milkshake or ice cream consistency and not runny. The smoothies of choice this week were strawberry-pineapple and strawberry-mango. Each contained half and half of kefir and yogurt along with a splash of cow’s milk. Yum! You can always add kelp or spinach for a green smoothie or include other healthy additions like wheat germ or egg.
What I Learned
Those big messes are what make life fun with little ones. We had pasta on stuck to the table, the highchairs, and the floor. At least nothing hit the wall, was smeared in hair, or went flying across the room. We did go straight upstairs for baths which was a smart move, but upon draining the tub, I had to clean it as well as it looked like a pasta bowl of leftovers as well.
As usual, both boys enjoyed food this week. The pasta was a hit as you can see and the smoothies were mesmerizing and delightful through a straw. Our trip to the Nolensville Feed Mill again this weekend offered my boys another taste of the sweet strawberry ice cream which they loved again thanks to Mimi.
Summer is fun. Eating is fun. 17 month old boys are fun.
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 7, 2010 in Dairy
Make something cool for the summertime. This is a great treat for the little ones just starting dairy on up through the whole family. Use plain whole yogurt or make your own (I’m not so adventurous just yet, but it’s on the list.). Mash and mix in fresh or frozen fruits and freeze in cubes or small containers. Thaw in the fridge and enjoy for a nice, cool treat.
It’s also yummy to add in some vanilla extract and/or honey (age appropriate over a year). I even love yogurt with just these two ingredients and no fruit. I always buy organic, plain, whole milk yogurt and usually the kind with cream on top.
Please share your thoughts and ideas.
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 Jun 27, 2010 in Dairy
This has been a great week for local fare. There’s just something about summertime that makes good things really good.
Both boys continue to eat really well this week and were both little piggies early in the week. A few snacks seemed to be affected by some teething the past few days, but no little boy passes up some yummy ice cream with Pappy, that’s for sure.
Eating locally wasn’t much of a process this week, but more of a fun experience.
- Grass-fed Beef I’ve recently started trying to buy grass-fed beef for our family. If you haven’t seen Food, Inc. yet, you must stop reading this and watch it now! But, as a quick summary of only a single aspect of my recent food overhaul, I’ve chosen to buy grass-fed, pastured beef when at all possible for the following reasons.
- Standard beef today is fed corn and dead chicken carcasses, resulting in poor quality of meat.
- Feeding corn causes health issues such as e-coli which causes them to give animals antibiotics and chemicals which collect in the fat.
- Most of our beef today is from cows that are factory farmed and packed together so tightly they can’t move and stuck in their own excrement. Yes, that’s right and I don’t think I even need to go into why you don’t want to eat meat from that animal.
- I choose grass-fed meats from animals allowed to roam pastures. These animals are healthy and provide healthy, nourishing meats for my family. U.S Wellness Meats is a good online source. Trader Joes, Whole Foods, and other whole food stores offer grass-fed alternatives as well as local farms. Click on the Eat Local link on the right column sidebar of this site. If you can’t find grass-fed, at least opt for organic as it is free of chemicals.
This is my purchase that I picked up at my local farmer’s market this week sitting in my trunk just before I put it in my cooler to bring home to the freezer. See below for the contents.
- Ice Cream We went with the grandparents to a local store this weekend. They just recently started selling all-natural, locally-made ice cream. Pappy bought some strawberry to share and the boys only left him a couple of bites. I’m hoping to make some homemade ice cream from real cream and honey this summer.
WHAT I LEARNED
Buying quality, locally-grown produce is becoming easier and easier every day. I was able to buy a sampler pack of grass-fed beef including a chuck roast, rump roast, 2 New York strips, a filet mignon, 3 lbs. ground beef, brisket, and stew meat with just the click of a button on a local farmer’s website and a quick trip to the farmer’s market of my choice on the day of my choosing to pay and pick it up. They even included 2 bars of their uhomemade soap in my package.
I haven’t tried any of the beef yet, but it’s safely in my freezer, just waiting for my meal planning. I can say that my reaction to the price was one of delight. As a comparison, we recently purchased grass-fed brisket from a chain store for $7.99/lb. The one in this pack was $4.99/lb. I don’t think I need to even say, but the boys loved, loved, loved some strawberry ice cream at the Nolensville Feed Mill with Pappy.
Live it up! Enjoy summer. It comes and goes so quickly and even though it’s really hot, get out. Enjoy the lake, the shade trees, the pool, the ice cream, and of course the sound of the crickets and flashing lights of the lightning bugs at night. I’m sitting out here right now in the dark and loving every minute of it!
Please share your thoughts or ideas!