Friday, September 7, 2012

Veggie Hiding Isn't Just For Toddlers Anymore

Although it was entirely too hot to summon happy thoughts of cozy fall weather and comfort food today, my husband is home for the week and he eats like most people complain their young children do. His ideal weekly meal plan includes tacos, spaghetti, pork chops and rice, and chicken wings. Literally the same foods day in and day out. Thankfully, Grayson is more willing to try new things and doesn't shy away from items that actually spring from the earth. If my hubby had his way, we would eat Hamburger Helper twice a week, no joke! Tonight, I decided to simulate a boxed dinner for him but slipped a little nutrition in there too.

This brings me to the greatest weapon of choice for sneaky cooks worldwide; the food processor. Now that I can actually get mine to work, I've had to implement it's vegetable crushing skills for the majority of meals I've cooked for my husband (and stepdaughter) over the past year or more. I can slip a grocery sack of fresh vegetables into a single meal without the two of them even noticing. They're on to me now but still manage to scarf down most things I put on the table. I have found that the easiest mixture to chop up and add to a variety of dishes includes garlic, onions, spinach, mushrooms, and carrots. These items are easy to come by and relatively inexpensive even in their organic state. They also take on the flavor of the seasonings you add to your meal instead of standing out. I've tried other vegetables, such as broccoli and kale, but they didn't pass the picky test in this household. I add this mixture to hamburgers, taco meat, casseroles, pasta dishes, etc, and it blends well. Tonight I made a super quick, one pot meal, that the husband ate a giant second helping of and was at least healthier than the shelf stable version. I also used actual ground beef which we have only a handful of times a year. I like to call it One Pot Slop because it wasn't terribly pretty but it filled the boys up with no complaints.

Throw it all in and pulse it until incorporated and as chunky as they'll eat it.

Brown up your meat with a crap load of garlic in a large pot with lid. Once browned, add your veggie mixture and reduce down.

Add your liquids to the meat and veggie mix. Tonight, I used what we always have on hand, milk and plain yogurt but you could easily add stock, cream, gravy, or even condensed soup if you're into that. Bring it all to a boil and throw in your noodles or rice, season and cover. Cook until noodles are tender and sauce has thickened.
This is baby boy's, he asked for a little cheese on top, daddy added sour cream to his own and I had a healthy dose of hot sauce on mine.'s so...brown! I was dying for some sweet peas and portabella chunks, at least, but knowing the veggies were in there somewhere made me feel a little better.

So, that's what made it onto our plates tonight. Hopefully in the next few weeks, the local Farmer's Markets will pick back up again and we can start working on pumpkin, squash, beet, and asparagus meals while hubby is working out of town! Plus, I snagged a few sweet potatoes from the garden I forgot I had even planted and some chia seeds on sale this week. Experimenting will resume shortly!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Cooking For Two

I'm officially the worst blogger. Ever. I only blog when I am angry or annoyed which is passive aggressive silliness that makes me sound snarky and bossy. I have deleted said posts and will try to stick to happier subjects, i.e. my son and FOOD, mainly.

With that being said, I am not a great cook nor do I have much experience. Only since my sweet boy was born and I found out everything we eat is poison became more interested in what we put in our bodies, have I begun to experiment in the kitchen. I also found a real love for saving money and not producing food waste. Typically, I am cooking for just the two of us and my little man loves to cook and eat as well. He's the best sous chef a gal could ask for! 

We try to utilize the small yield from our garden, local farmer's markets, organic items from local grocery stores, and sometimes items that aren't necessarily the greatest option but will do in a pinch. Also, I love coming up with ideas for my leftovers. I rarely work from recipes and often stand in front of the refrigerator puzzling over what to make out of what is already in there so I can avoid grocery shopping with my toddler until the next open air market day. He tends to become supremely annoyed inside large grocery stores but is a willing participant at all the outdoor markets. That's my kid! 

I am going to try to remember to post a few meal ideas we've enjoyed every now and again. Most lean more towards the healthy-ish spectrum but all are simple and require very little time OR prowess in the kitchen arena. My definition of healthy will vary from other people's idea of healthy. We still eat lots of good fats, carbs, use real sugar and butter, and probably are a tad heavy handed with the dairy but I incorporate fresh fruits and veggies into our meals every day. We never eat food dye, HFCS, pesticides, or awful "low-fat" chemical laden crap at home.  Also, I don't have any recipes as I just use what we have on hand and rarely make the same meal the same exact way more than once. Use what you have and make it work for you!

Corn Chowder
1/2 a large onion
giant spoonful of chopped garlic
twice around the pot with EVOO
Cook until onions are transparent
Add a healthy amount of diced carrots
Add the kernels from 3 ears of fresh corn
Cover and cook until carrots are slightly tender
Add a ton of chopped greens (we only had spinach left) and fresh basil
Cook until greens are wilted
Add your thickening agents and liquids
(We had a ton of mashed potatoes leftover, whole milk, and plain Greek yogurt)
Season to taste (black pepper, sea salt and yummy smoked paprika for us)
Cook on Medium heat with lid off until desired consistency

Not exactly the healthiest or leanest meal out there but it utilized what was in the fridge and some leftovers too. Plus, we both went to bed with happy, warm tummies so that's what matters most nights! I didn't get a picture of it all finished because we gobbled it all up and both went to bed early.

Tonight, I am almost a week past due for the market and running on fumes. I even used the last of our milk for dinner last night! Still, a day at the park with sweet, new friends took precedence over the dreaded grocery shopping. I looked inside the fridge and found a pack of ground chicken (meh), some leftover black beans from taco night, a shriveling avocado and zucchini, salsa, and some shredded cheese. The garden offered up one puny, ripened tomato from within a sea of green. The cupboard contained a bag of brown rice (40 minuted cook time=no) and a box of wild rice (15 minute cook time= WINNER). I would have liked to have thrown some fresh peppers and onions into the mix but that would have required leaving the house again and I was feeling lazy tonight. I figured I could get two meals minimum out of those products so I went ahead and prepped for dinner tomorrow night too.

While the chicken browned up with a healthy dose of ever present garlic, and the rice quickly boiled, I chopped the tomato and scooped the middle out of the zucchini. I then combined the rice and chicken into one pan with the diced tomato, seasoned with salt and pepper and split the mixtures back between the two pans. 
Steamy pics are hard to get!

To the pan we ate for dinner tonight, I added salsa, cumin, and ancho chili pepper with a handful of shredded cheese and the leftover black beans. We ate this mess with whole wheat tortillas and sliced olives and avocados. It definitely needed some crunch and I wish I had some nice red and yellow peppers to add in there but it was decent and easy. Now, I have a big container in the freezer ready to be stuffed into some peppers or turned into "enchiladas" one night.

For tomorrow's meal, I added oregano, basil, and more garlic to the chicken and rice. I rubbed the zucchini down with olive oil, salt and pepper and stuffed it with the mixture. I would have liked to have added mushrooms and spinach to it but we'll make due with what we have on hand. Tomorrow, I will bake it covered until almost tender and then top it with bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese and brown up the top. I have the last bit of Romaine from the farmer's market, and the rest of the black olives from tonight's dinner, plus a cuke from our garden to make a nice salad with. Depending on how hungry we are, I can always whip up some angel hair pasta with either our own marinara sauce or lemons, capers, basil from the garden and Parmesan to go with it in less than 10 minutes.
I'll get a quick shot of dinner tomorrow to add!

So, there's a peek into how we do food around our house. Eating better doesn't have to be complicated or expensive but it does require some foresight and a certain degree of thriftiness. The more you learn to work with what you have and curb wastefulness, the easier and LESS expensive it becomes to cook a fairly healthy meal for your loved ones every night. Of course, this probably wouldn't work for larger families, dieters, families dealing with food allergies, etc. but my little guy is a great eater and very healthy. We like our carbs:) Happy eating!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Truer Words Have Never Been Spoken

I ran across these words today. It's surreal how someone so small can change your entire being just by existing. I never understood it, I don't suppose anyone can until they experience it for themselves. I didn't plan on becoming a mother or really have the desire to become one but now I wouldn't trade my life for anyones. I have given up my career, my independence, my social life, my friends, my body (lol), hell even my credit score haha! But I would not change a thing. I wouldn't give up one second I've spent with my little guy for a million vacations or road trips or festivals or everything I used to love doing before he came into my life.

Before I was a mom I forgot words to a lullaby. I didn't worry whether or not my plants were poisonous. I never thought about immunizations. Before I was a Mom - I had never been puked on. Pooped on. Chewed on. Peed on. I had complete control of my mind and my thoughts. I slept all night. Before I was a Mom I never held down a screaming child so doctors could do tests. Or give shots. I never looked into teary eyes and cried. I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin. I never sat up late hours at night watching a baby sleep. Before I was a Mom I never held a sleeping baby just because I didn't want to put them down. I never felt my heart break into a million pieces when I couldn't stop the hurt. I never knew that something so small could affect my life so much. I never knew that I could love someone so much. I never knew I would love being a Mom. Before I was a Mom - I didn't know the feeling of having my heart outside my body. I didn't know how special it could feel to feed a hungry baby. I didn't know that bond between a mother and her child. I didn't know that something so small could make me feel so important and happy. Before I was a Mom - I had never gotten up in the middle of the night every 10 minutes to make sure all was okay. I had never known the warmth, the joy, the love, the heartache, the wonderment or the satisfaction of being a Mom. I didn't know I was capable of feeling so much before I was a Mom.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

This I promise you...

This I promise you...
I will not be a perfect parent but I will be the best parent I can be.
I will never stop reading and singing to you and with matter how dorky you think it is:)
I will never take you for granted.
I will show you as much of the world and all the diverse people in it as I possibly can.
I will never be too busy to help you with your homework, or a project, or to talk or anything you will ever need.
I will teach you that money and things are completely unimportant compared to integrity, humbleness and empathy.
I will teach you to give.
I will teach you to love.
I will teach you to respect people's differences.
I will never put my needs before yours.
I will always think you are beautiful and matter if you come home with rainbow hair, tattoos on your eyelids or no arms or legs.
I will share our lives with people of dignity and honesty.
I will kiss and hug you every day even if you get too cool for it.
I will not stop caring about what you eat or get too lazy to cook you good meals.
I will always give you the benefit of a doubt and a chance to explain.
I will never say "Do as I say and not as I do".
I will make sure your home is always a refuge and a safe haven.
I will never be too old to splash through puddles, dig up worms, jump in the fallen leaves, or lie on my back and look at clouds with you.
I will keep everything you ever make for me.
I will always care about your grades and make sure you are doing well in school.
I will give you rules and guidelines and make sure you know what they are and that you follow them.
I will punish you when you don't...because I love you.
I will never make you feel like a burden in my life.
I will take you to the beach and build sand castles with you.
I will eat ice cream on hot summer days and drink hot chocolate on cold wintry nights with you.
I will swing on monkey bars with you at the park.
I will tell you I love you before bed every night...and at the end of every phone call...AND even when I don't like you very much at that moment in time.
I will ALWAYS love you.
I will color with you, run through the sprinklers with you, throw the football with you, come to your ball games or art shows or poetry readings, dance recitals, concerts or whatever...I will be there.
I will not leave your baby book unfinished.
I will not stop taking pictures of you and being proud.
I will make you homemade chicken noodle soup and let you watch cartoons all day when you are sick.
I will care about what you have to say and listen when you talk.
I will eat dinner at the table with you.
I will teach you to have an open mind and not be ignorant.
I will teach you to love people for who they are on the inside.
I will get you a math tutor:)
I will laugh at your knock knock jokes.
I will teach you how to grow things.
I will teach you how to take only what you need.
I will give you a curfew and check to make sure you are where you say you are.
I will be the cool mom when your friends come over.
I will teach you about good music...classic rock:)
I will make a big deal out of your birthday every year.
I will put up a tree, dye eggs, carve pumpkins and cook massive dinners every holiday.
I will take you on vacation with me.
I will make sure we continue to donate our time, money and possessions to charity and teach you why this is important.
I will get you a dog if you want one.
I will hold a funeral for any of your critters we lose along the way.
I will pop popcorn and cuddle up under a blankie with you on movie nights.
I will have "The Talk" with you before it is too late.
I will slip you notes into your book bag and lunchbox.
I will make you try everything at least once.
I will not come to your school looking a hot mess.
I will take you camping and show you how to roast the perfect marshmallow.
I will push you on the swings until my arms turn to mush.
I will check to make sure you brush your teeth every night.
I will peek in on you before I go to bed at night.
I will make you wash your hands before you eat...every time.
I will teach you how to cook and clean and do laundry so you are not helpless like so many men.
I will make cupcakes for your classroom.
I will make you eat green things.
I will be your mother and not your friend.
This I promise you...and so much more, my love.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Song of the day:)

I make up ditties for G Funk every makes him smile which in turn always makes me smile:) Typically, they are just words to other songs Graysonfied but today I came up with an original for him! Thought I'd share with is our silly song of the day:

G is for the grass outside
R is for rain OR shine!
A is for the air we breathe
Y is just for you and me!
S is for my silly son
O is for my only one!
That brings us to the letter N
let's start it over,spell again! :)

I know it's dorky but that's what being a mommy is all about! Grayson is going to be SHOCKED when he gets to Preschool and realized not every nursery rhyme has his name in it lol! Geeeez I adore that little guy!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Good, The Bad and The Flabby

This weekend was a roller coaster for me. On Saturday Deb had a little get together with yummy food, tons of beer and good friends of ours. I had to wait until G woke up from a nap so I could feed, hose off, dress and pack him up to go 4 houses down. It's unbelievable the forethought and maneuvering it takes just to get out the front door these days! So we finally get there, drag all of our junk and entire stroller up two flights of stairs and get ready to party on down...or not. Grayson was just not content and a bit fussy the whole time. I kept trying to get into the groove and have a good time hanging out with friends but it's kinda hard to when you have a 7 month old moaning & groaning the entire time. I felt like I could not even keep a train of thought flowing through my head and out of my mouth because I had to constantly keep G entertained to keep him from crying. I finally gave up around 7:00 (after several attempts to pass him off to daddy watching golf in the Man Cave). I took the little man and all his stuff back down the hill for a bath, storybook and good night's sleep. I was feeling strangely afterward or maybe just torn over my feelings. Part of me was annoyed and frustrated that I couldn't just hang out for one night with some friends and have an adult conversation over a beer and the other part of me just wanted to get home with my little guy so he could settle down and we could snuggle up for the night. I have a feeling I will struggle with this for awhile until I find a happy median with my new mommy role. Anyway, it was good to see everyone for a bit and we did get an amazing cross stitched picture for the nursery from his "Aunt" Casey...loves it! Better luck next time:)

On the other hand, we woke up this morning in a fabulous mood. I actually BAKED peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies...before noon...from scratch;) Crazy huh? I felt great, Grayson was back on schedule and my happy cuddly baby he normally is and we made it out the door without forgetting a thing to go see his new girlfriend on time. Ava is beautiful...probably the prettiest baby girl I have ever seen at her ripe ol' age of 9 days! We brought over flowers, cookies and a sweet little onesie I made for my future daughter in law. The babies spent a little floor time together and Grayson couldn't keep his hands off of her. He kept reaching over to her to rub her arm or put his hand on her was SO stinkin cute. I actually got a little teary eyed to see our little ones side by side*Imsuchawussnow*. Life is just minute you're wobbling back to your dorm room in 5 inch heels and backless "shirts" as the sun comes up and the next you're staring down at your two babies lying next to each other on a play mat. Soooo strange but in a good way really. Grayson was great today and it was just a nice day all around for us.  I hope he is as tolerable this weekend while we are in The Grip for a few days visiting a bunch of loved ones.

So to make a long story short(er) I am still coming to grips with my new role but some days are better than others. It's hard being the only one with a baby out of the core group of friends you have been hanging out with for the past 5 years. Sometimes it sucks...majorly...but sometimes it is great. I guess it all balances out.

On an entirely different note ...can this heat PLEASE go kick rocks? I am dying to get outside and do some walking with G. He needs some fresh air and I need some exercise...badly. He is 7 months old and I am still carrying around an extra 45-50 pounds on my tiny frame (not all of it is from the baby folks!). I feel gross, I look gross and I am tired of it. Every day I have to put on real clothes instead of pjs I almost end up in tears. I have been smoking alot lately too which is making me feel like crap as well. I need to quit. Again. I seriously need to try and salvage some of my youth and physical appearance before I hit the Point of No Return *echo echo echo*  and I'm close. I keep having flashes of showing up at the grocery store in size 22 bleach splattered sweatpants and worn out house shoes, riding one of those motorized carts, the aisles echoing with my smoker's hack!! Don't know you've seen these folks...I have! I just simply can not go on this way any longer:) My back has been killing me a lot lately too...this bone structure was not made to support this much weight!! I know I know...quit whining and do something about it. I's on the To Do List...sigh:) I have never wanted the Fall to get here so quickly in my whole life or craved the outdoors so strongly. Fingers crossed for a longer autumn and a milder winter than I think we are going to have!

On a happier note, some photos from today!:

Love at first sight...ahhhhh:)! SO adorable, these two!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Few of Our Favorite Things

On to the next stage...I'm not in love with this one for sure but we're coping after our first rough patch. We are teething now...eeeekkks! Slobbering, screaming, kicking, OH MY! My sweet angel baby seems to have multiple personalities now. One minute he is the cooing, smiling, funny little guy I have come to love beyond measure and the next instant he is a stomach kicking, red faced hollering, back arching TERROR of a child! The first day in happened I literally plopped him in his swing in front of an (educational) DVD and went to sit on the front porch with my fingers over my eyes and ears, head pounding and feeling like a failure after 8 nonstop hours of crying. Not one of my proudest mommy moments but I had met my quota for the day. That evening I got online to do some research about teething so we would neverrrr have another day like that one! So after mucho Googling and some purchases over the weekend here is some info on the things that have helped for us as well as a couple trial and error buys we have made!

Sophie The Giraffe's Story:

Sophie Sophie Sophie! I could not understand how this little toy could possibly be all that. It was STILL sold out online at Babies R Us, it was unavailable at the 2 closest stores in our area...seriously! I went online and found out you could reserve one for a pick up at a Barnes & Noble if they had any in we did. Daddy went and picked our gal up Sunday morning after we received our Top Secret email they had one on hold for us! As I incredulously tore into the packaging, I could see that Grayson seemed to be transfixed by her simply painted spots and plain little face. We had a little chuckle after we took her out and found out she squeaked. Did we really just pay $20 for a glorified dog toy??? So after a quick run through some boiling water (and the loss of her squeaking ability...DANG;) lol!) we handed her over during a crying fit. G is smitten by this little giraffe. He coos at her and holds her up in the air to see her face, goes to town chewing on every inch of her 46 year old,100% natural rubber and food painted body and STOPS screaming when his gums are hurting him! He loves her, I love her and I hope you will love her too;) On a side note, you can easily smush her head through a pacy keeper and clip her to anything so she doesn't end up on the ground and off limits on an outing.

Another winner is this super bendy, dishwasher and freezer safe 100% silicone tooth/gum brush. G loves to chomp on this and have me rub it over his gums while singing silly teeth brushing songs!

We finally got off of our Similac Neosure this month thank goodness...3 months early might I add! On the hunt for new formula I have found a real winner...100% certified organic and also with nontoxic packaging we're drinking this now:

Grayson has had no issues during the switch to this formula, has a lot less gas and it doesn't stink like other formulas. The only downside is it's not available at ANY local stores so I have to order it online...ho hum:(

Things We Love!

Wastes of Money!

That's all for now...good luck in your endeavors mommas! I'll leave you with a thought for the day that I say RIGHT ON to :):

 "The important thing is not so much that every child should be taught, as that every child should be given the wish to learn." ~John Lubbock

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