Thursday, December 30, 2010

Blocks for Christmas

Cousins Ezra and Henry loved their
homemade gift of baby blocks this Christmas.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Blog Name

Working on a blog name...I keep changing my mind. Leave me a suggestion if you have one. Thanks!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Our Christmas Card...Merry Christmas!

"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more." - Dr. Seuss


We pray this Christmas season you reflect on God's gift of salvation, the real meaning of Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Love,

Peter, Hana and Ezra

Delicious Homemade Squash Puree


My babe is widening his palette. He tried about 1 tsp. of squash today after his regular lunch of breast milk. I can say with confidence that he loves squash just like his mama!




Squash Puree Recipe - 
Ingredients:

1 or 2 medium to large sized winter squash (or as many as will fit in your oven.)
Directions:
1. Cut acorn, hubbard, or butternut squash in half, scoop out seeds
2. Place an inch of water in a baking pan, then place squash halves "face" down
in the pan. Check on water level while baking
3. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes or until the “shell/skin” puckers and halves feel soft then scoop squash “meat” out of the shell
4. Place squash "meat" into your choice of appliance for pureeing and begin pureeing.
5. Add water as necessary to achieve a smooth, thin consistency.
6. Then freeze excess puree in ice cube trays. Once squash is frozen solid, empty squash cubes into freezer storage bags.




All situated in his chair. He loves sitting up to the table!

Drooling over this homemade squash puree.

Yum...that squash was amazing!



Sunday, December 19, 2010

Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Bean Soup


Today I added a little of this and a little of that and ended up with the best black bean soup yet.

Recipe: Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Bean Soup
amount: one full crockpot

Ingredients:
5-6 cups Taste Adventure Black Refried Bean Mix/ equal amount of water
3 sweet potatoes (cut into 1" cubes and roasted)
1 cup frozen or fresh corn
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 Tb. lemon juice or lime
1/2 cup medium or hot salsa
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 clove of garlic, crushed
salt and pepper to taste

Steps:
1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2.  Drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper over sweet potato cubes and roast at 400 degrees for about 20 min. (till potatoes are soft, but not mushy)
3.  Saute onion and garlic in olive oil till onions are translucent
4.  Add green pepper and cumin, cook till slightly soft
5.  Add Black Bean Mix and water, bring to a boil, then simmer
6.  Add corn and salsa, continue to simmer till soup is desired consistency. Add more water or bean mix if needed.
7.  When soup is ready, stir in cilantro and lemon juice or lime

Serving Suggestions: Garnish with: tortilla chips, shredded cheese, sour cream and/or salsa.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sewing up a storm

This weekend our family had a wonderful time snowed in with dear friends in Chicago. We ate delicious food, played with our babies and fellow bloggers Laura, Clair and I sewed up a storm that rivaled the tumultuous blizzard outside. In attempts to remake our own "pottery barn kids" owls we sewed and resewed till we found the right pattern and successfully finished some adorable owls for our even more adorable babies. My babe agrees, his owl is cute, but not nearly as cute as him.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mac N' Cheese

Mac N' Cheese sounds great on a cold, snowy night. Too bad it is too blustery to go to the store and get the ingredients.

Recipe: Homemade Mac N' Cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Topping:
In a small sauce pan: Melt 1/2 stick of butter
Stir in: 3 cups coarse bread crumbs, 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Set aside

Sauce:
In a large sauce pan: Melt 1 stick of butter
Stir into melted butter and whisk for 2  minutes: 6 Tb flour
Whisk in: 5 cups milk
Bring to a boil, Whisking constantly, After boiling turn down to a simmer and whisk for 3 minutes
Stir in: 1 pound (6 cups) of cheddar or colby jack cheese and 1/2 cup Parmesan

Pasta:
Cook pasta aldente and save 1 cup of the water

Combine pasta, sauce, and 1 cup of saved water from the pasta; pour into a large baking pan. Spread topping over. Bake 20-25 minutes, til golden brown and bubbling. Enjoy!

Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins


I plan to taste this recipe soon....with a cup of freshly brewed Christmas Blend, of course.


Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins
From Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

1 1/2 cups mashed, very ripe bananas (about 4)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, stir together the bananas, sugars, butter, milk, and egg.
In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, instant espresso powder,baking soda and salt. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the well and stir just until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Fill each cup about 3/4 full. Bake in the center of the oven for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.
Let the muffins cool on a cooling rack for 15 minutes. Then remove the muffins from the pan and allow them to finish cooling on the cooling rack. Store up to 2 days in an airtight container.

Ergo...the right choice for today

Baby carrying....I love it! Cheap socks...I love them too!

Today Ezra and I braved the Wigwam Factory Sale here in home-sweet-home Sheboygan, WI. Imagine one long narrow hall, lined with cardboard boxes on either side full of "slightly imperfect" Wigwam socks. Then add swarms of people digging through the socks and filling their bags. This mama knew the Wigwam Sale was no place for a stroller or even an infant seat. I also decided the moby wrap just wouldn't work with Ezra in his winter snuggly....too tight...we needed a little more space to work with. The situation clearly called for a compact, hands-free, baby friendly way to carry Ezra. The Ergo worked beautifully. Ezra sat happily right up against me...his favorite place...and I was able to freely dig through boxes of socks with two hands! Yay for the Ergo! Yay for the monthly Wigwam Factory Sale!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Granola

Gluten Free, Soy Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free

It all started with a joke. My younger brother is working at a cereal factory right now. Teasingly, I asked him if he was making Turkey Cheerios, Pumpkin Spice Chex, or Sweet Pootato Pops for the Thanksgiving season? He was technically unable to answer my question. See, he is sworn to secrecy concerning what cereal is actually made in his factory. Top secret stuff...I imagine it similar to Charlie Bucket and the other children who entered Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory and were sworn to secrecy regarding the making of the Everlasting Gobstopper. So, I will never know if Turkey Cheerios, Pumpkin Spice Chex, or Sweet Pootato Pops were ever made, all I know is that I have not seen them on the shelf at Piggly Wiggly.

This got me thinking though...Doesn't Pumpkin Spice Granola sound delicious? I tried it today and it truly is the breakfast food that Thanksgiving has been missing.

Pumpkin Spice Granola Recipe:

Whisk together:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup oil 
  • 1/2 or 3/4 cup sweetener (choose from: honey, sucanut, maple syrup, or even date paste)
  • 1/2 can of pumpkin puree or 7 oz.
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger

Mix together in a large bowl:

  • 9 cups rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup walnuts or almonds
Bake at 250 degrees for 2 1/2 hours. Let cool. Stir after 1 hour. Store in air tight container.

(optional) After granola has cooled, Stir in:
  • craisins, raisins, other dried fruit or chocolate chips
Serving Suggestions:
  • In a bowl of almond milk, rice milk, goat's milk or cow's milk
  • Topping for your favorite plain or flavored yogurt (Stoneyfield is my favorite.)
  • Sprinkled over ice cream (like Breyers Vanilla Bean).
Hope you enjoy this Thanksgiving breakfast treat as much as I did!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Saturday Morning...Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Soy Free

My favorite things about Saturday mornings:
tummy time with Ezra...Weather Center runs..sipping coffee...breakfast treats...RELAXING...and the list could go on. This last Saturday morning, we enjoyed yet another mouth watering pumpkin recipe complimented by our Weather Center lattes (Ezra stuck to breast milk). It was like eating pumpkin pie for breakfast. Does it get any better?

Pumpkin Bread Pudding Recipe:
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen Blog
1 1/2 cups whole milk (Or 1 cup heavy cream plus 1/2 cup whole milk)
1 can (14 oz) solid-pack pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs  
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup raisins or craisins
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch of ground cloves
2 tablespoons bourbon (optional)
5 cups cubed (1-inch) whole wheat, day-old baguette or crusty bread
3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
Whisk together pumpkin, cream, milk, sugar, eggs, yolk, salt, spices, and raisins in a bowl.
Toss bread cubes with butter in another bowl, then add pumpkin mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to an un-greased 8-inch square or round baking dish and bake until custard is set, 25 to 30 minutes.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Chocolate Chip, Craisin, Walnut Pumpkin Cookies

Fall is in the Air...Pumpkin Everywhere. It seems that I can never try too many pumpkin recipes and seems that I love everyone I try. These pumpkin cookies are delicious. They can be served with cream cheese frosting, but they are fantastic just plain as well.

ingredients:
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup cane juice crystals
1 cup pumpkin puree (1-14 oz. can)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat flour 
1 cup unbleached flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup craisins

directions:
* Preheat oven to 350. Grease cookie sheets.
* In medium bowl, cream the shortening and sugar. Stir in the pumpkin and vanilla.
* In separate bowl, stir together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon; stir into the creamed mixture. 
* Bake for 10 min., allow cookies to cool on the pan for 1 min., then move to wire rack

Monday, November 8, 2010

Red Lentil Squash Soup


This soup is perfect for a blustery fall day...hearty, spicy and smooth.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 pinch fenugreek seeds
  • 1 cup dry red lentils
  • 1 cup butternut squash - peeled, seeded, and cubed
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat, and cook the onion, ginger, garlic, and fenugreek until onion is tender.
  2. Mix the lentils, squash, and cilantro into the pot. Stir in the water, coconut milk, and tomato paste. Season with curry powder, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 30 minutes, or until lentils and squash are tender. 
  3. Puree soup mixture in the blender. Serve garnished with fresh cilantro.

Homemade Baby Blocks

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas"....Well, at least there are flurries in the air, Christmas music on pandora and presents to be made piling up by the sewing machine.
This is an exciting Christmas with two babies in the family. Ezra will be six months old and Henry will be three months old by Christmas. Both of the boys are already grabbing toys and ready to play. I am making some soft baby blocks for Ezra and Henry complete with their initials.
I can't wait to see the boys open their first Christmas presents!
Baby Block Directions:
Supplies: sewing machine, 6 - 3.5 inch squares of fabric, ribbon for handles and added design, thread, iron and Heat and Bond (for attaching letters or numbers to the blocks), poly stuffing, a small rattle or bell (optional)
Step 1: Gather supplies and pick out some fabric or use up old scraps - remember these are for babies, so use bright colors, bold contrast, stimulating designs, and interesting textures (i.e. fleece, felt, nylon, corduroy)

Step 2:  Cut 3.5 inch squares of fabric. Six squares for each block.

Step 3:  Embellish squares with ribbon or add letters/numbers with Heat and Bond if desired. If you would like to add small ribbon handles, sew a small loop of ribbon into the seam. Like below:

Step 4:  Pin the four sides of your block together (right sides facing each other) and sew using 1/4 inch seam allowance. I reinforced my seams a few times, to make sue they are secure. After you have sewn the four sides together, it should look like this:


Step 5: Cut 1/4 inch square notches out of the corners of your block's top and bottom fabric pieces. Like below:

Step 6: Pin the top of the block and then sew it in place. Repeat with the bottom of the block, but leave a two inch opening along one of the side seams (This is important. If you forget this you will not be able to turn your block right-side-out.) Like below:
Step 7: Turn the block right-side-out using the small hole. You may need to use a pencil to poke the corners out in order to make the block square. Like below:



Step 8: Fill the block with poly stuffing and place a bell or rattle inside the stuffing so that the block will make noise when played with. 

Step 9: Then finally sew up the small opening using a blind stitch. You are finished! 


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pumpkin Oat Bran Muffins



Pumpkin muffins are one of my all-time favorite fall foods. I came across a new recipe this season...it is the BEST! I like to add extras to my muffins like: cranberries, chopped walnuts, pumpkin seeds, raisins or dates.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 c. unprocessed oat bran
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar or sweetener of your choice
1/2 cup whole wheat flour *substitute your favorite gluten-free flour mix
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 (14 oz.) can of pumpkin
1/2 cup skim milk or water
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
2 T  oil
*optional additions...pick and choose: 1/4 to 1/2 cup of any of the following: cranberries, dates, raisins, pumpkin seeds, chopped walnuts
cooking spray

Directions:
Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl; stir well. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine pumpkin and next 3 ingredients; stir well. Add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Spoon into muffin pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from pans immediately; serve warm or at room temperature. 
Yield: 1 dozen
 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Black Beans and Chile Lime Dressing





I recently enjoyed this salad with friends and family. It is healthy, delicious and seasonal!


Roasted Sweet Potato Salad With Black Beans and Chili Dressing

4 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large onion, preferably red, chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh hot chili, like jalapeƱo
1 clove garlic, peeled
Juice of 2 limes
2 cups cooked black beans, drained (canned are fine)
1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro.

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put sweet potatoes and onions on a large baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil, toss to coat and spread out in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast, turning occasionally, until potatoes begin to brown on corners and are just tender inside, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven; keep on pan until ready to mix with dressing.
2. Put chilies in a blender or mini food processor along with garlic, lime juice, remaining olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Process until blended.
3. Put warm vegetables in a large bowl with beans and bell pepper; toss with dressing and cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature, or refrigerate for up to a day.
Yield: 4 servings. (www.nytimes.com)