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I Go Hard In the Kitchen....

John

Before I had even realized it, the ENTIRE day had passed by, and I was STILL in the kitchen!  (By  11 pm, and I was still a few tasks away from wrapping up my day!)  I had a busy Monday trying to play catch up around the house during nap time, and around 2:30 pm, I had made it down to the kitchen.  We had our first (of many to come) Family Sunday Brunches on 3/2 (but we had homemade Mexican at the request of my brother... who gets whatever he wants lol).  My Dad had bought the girls a handful of produce to eat, and it was SO MUCH that I had to find a way to make it last.  We had been finding it easier to mix veggies into the girls porridge at night instead of try to balance out them feeding themselves while we tried to squeeze in our spoons too. So we just decided to "skip" BLW at dinner.  (We still give them a piece of toast or something.... homemade wheat bread=no preservatives=good finger snack... not too messy, easy to eat, doesn't overly distract, or "spoon block.")  We kind of accidentally came across this conclusion after one night just adding a mango russ (Indian mango cold "soup") cube to their cereal last minute.  It worked out so perfect! Everybody ate, had a bath, and made it to bed on time (8:30... used to be 8 until we switched to pm baths). SO needless to say, I LOVED the idea of food cubes and made it my mission to learn how to make some! I had a HUGE pack of zucchini and squash, green beans, sweet potatoes, avocados, and 4 packs of strawberries! (Hubby came home with the strawberries; they are on sale .99 at the farmers market. I think he is going to have to go make a second run! (IJS) This whole post is about food: cubing, freezing, pureeing, and recipes.   Enjoy. (You can find these, and other individualized recipes under the BLW tab on the homepage.  If you find that some are blank, please bear with me as I am working hard to get them all up!! Scroll over the tab on a pc click on the tab if mobile).

Before I get started with the food, I wanted to touch base a little bit with our EC happenings.  We are now wrapping up our second week into it, and ever since last Wednesday night (day 3), we have had pretty much dry diapers all night (with the exception of one or 2 go's).  We have gone from 2-3 wakings to about 1 per girl ever night (they usually eat after this.....)  They seem to fuss a little more at night (and are also most dry and consistent at  night too).  I don't mind waking and taking them and then nursing them back to sleep. (which takes about 3-5 min; for the most part they are pretty good about going back in their crib.)  During the day MiMi (who was most resistant at first) is REALLY good about going.  I'm not getting cue's but I'm still just working on timing (before naps, after naps, after bottle, before meal, after meal, before nap...) It's CRAZY how much you learn about being able to tell what is wrong with your baby just from doing this for a week! I know when they have to go, when they are hungry... I was able to pick up on these things before, but never just "knew."  I'm trying not to focus so much on many times they went in their potty as much as on how many times they didn't go IN their diaper.  It will take time, and during that time, I am looking into cloth diapers.  It's hard throwing away a diaper after 1-2 pees, and I can't put them back on them so.... or possible making my own training pants since we REALLY need something that just slides up and down! I did a test run today to get an idea for it (used a diaper "cover"/bloomer and an old prefold that I don't even know I had lol) .  Of course you know I will bring that info around once I accomplish that mission. In the mean time, GO GIRLS! Now, lets talk food!

  • Pureeing: one of the most common ways to serve baby food.  It's good because it allows you to freeze and get good lifetime out your produce.  The one down side is that you can't do BLW with it. (We are using them to do add-in vegetables)
  • Freezing: Freezing is a GREAT way to preserve your produce and get the most for your $$ (you know you can't resist buying all the veggies when they are in season and on sale. but who wants to eat zucchini 5 days in a row? lol)here are some different ways to freeze and meet your families needs!   tray method: using wax paper and a baking sheet (or a tupperware box) to freeze things in rows without touching.  Can use a box to add layers and save on space.  Be sure to wrap tray with GOOD plastic wrap, allowing no moisture to penetrate (removes nutrients); cube method: PERFECT for purees.  This one is pretty self explanatory! Pour puree into ice cube trays, seal, and freeze! (cubes are typically 2 tablespoons big and generally you only need one to begin with; puree and freeze asap, and try to avoid stacking if possible to prevent delay of freezing (stacking can cause the warmth to transfer to other trays) ; after about 24 hours just transfer to baggies (see below for storage options) container method:You can use containers for soups (and other liquidy foods for example) and line containers with a plastic freezer bag.  (that way you can remove the liquid after it freezes and again stack those up vs having to have boxes all over your freezer! (and when you are ready to eat, you can just pull out the box you froze it in... it will have the perfect shape!)  You can also use old frozen dinner trays to freeze meals!!! :D  Remember when it comes to freezing, you want to make sure you get everything as air tight as possible. Moister causes food to loose their nutrients and freezer burn!
  • Storing finished products: baggie method: this is my fave way to freeze things.  I use some dollar store bags (100 bags is not bad for $1!),  but they are DEF too cheap to freeze (not to mention I have the regular sandwich kind, not the freezer kind); I divide everything  (flavors) up into the $ bags and then roll them all (to ensure all air is out) and then put a few similar foods together (i.e. zucc/squash, green beans, and avocado).  This saves $ on freezer bags and space in the freezer.

-Squash and Zucchini: Wash the vegetables well with a scrub brush (no need to remove peels);  Cut into 1/2's and then 1/2 and continue until in medium sized chunks (the smaller you cut the quicker it will steam).  I don't have a steamer so I put my colander in my pot (and boiled h2o just up to where the colander reached, so my veggies wouldn't be submerged in h2o) and covered.  After they are soft enough to your liking (I did them 3/4 of the way til "mushy."  After they have cooled completely, fill blender/processor bowl and lightly puree (a few quick pulses or a few seconds on the puree setting on the blender).  I left mine at a fine dice so there is a good amount of texture to mix with the cereal.  You can add water if you want it more finer of a puree.  Place in ice cube trays and freeze for 24 hours (cover will with a strong cling wrap).  I mix these 2 together when I freeze them (since they are both summer squashes) and put them in one big Ziploc; if I wanted to make them separately I would freeze them in $ store bags and then in one big Ziploc bag.

I also grated one of each and pressed it btwn paper towels and baked ) to dry... Never got it fully dry; added to an ice cube tray and froze. GREAT for last min add ins! (I will be using these for the tofu ranchero AND rice dishes!)

IMG_7382 IMG_7388These are the grated ones. Keep reading to see what the things in the middle are ;)

-Sweet Potato Fries: I peel and slice sweet potatoes into fry slices (I prefer the shoe string style; It makes for less mess)  I brush them with coconut oil and bake for about 40 min on 350. I let them completely cool and then I use the tray method (in a box) to freeze. I like to make em a little extra crisp so when I put them out to thaw they don't get super soggy.

IMG_7381 IMG_7415

-Fruit Leather: I'm coming back to this one! I need to try it again..... it was delic! but still too gooey in the middle and I dont want to report until I get it right!

-Freezing Berries: The longest part of this whole process for me is the hulling of the strawberries! (well the drying time may be longer, but nonetheless.)   After hulling and cutting into 1/2's,  make sure they are completely dry before you freeze to prevent moisture from becoming trapped and decreasing the nutrients! I used the tray method (in a box) to freeze.  Let me just let you know that for this one you are going to want to go ahead and use the good stuff wax paper! (the cheap paper will stick and you will get freezer burn on your hands trying to get everything all apart when trying to transfer everything..... Blueberries: rinse, dry, tray freeze, and then put in one bag! (It's ok if you use the cheap wax paper for this one!)

IMG_7406 IMG_7410 IMG_7414IMG_7408

-Green Beans:  I blanched the green beans and then froze half and pureed the other half.  To blanch, cut off the ends and bring some water to boil in a pot (you are going to put in a few at at time, so you don't need anything too big).  After the water comes to a boil (I don't put any oil or salt, but I'm sure you could if you wanted to), drop a few beans in the water for about 1 min (they should get to a bright green color) and then remove.  (When you drop them in, you should make sure they don't touch)  Immediately upon removing, put them in a bowl of ice cold water (this stops them from cooking).  Let cool and dry completely and use the tray freeze method (in a box).  I put 1/2 of them into the grinder and made a chunky paste.

IMG_7407IMG_7413The green beans are the dark cubes in the back (front are avocado... keep reading for more info on that!) IMG_7383LOL, MiMi just HAD to have that green bean with her bottle! lol she REFUSED to put it down! (Can this last throughout the teenage years? lol)

-Blueberry Boobymilk Pops:  I just pulsed my grinder once or twice to make a mashed blueberry sauce (with about 1 oz of breast milk added in BEFORE blending).  I froze them in little Ikea ice cube trays (best trays bc perfect portions AND easiest container to get out of)  I am going to use their mesh feeders when I give them these.  Great for a light snack or to hold them over while I am cooking.  Of course I will be looking into more frozen treats and spring approaches!

IMG_7402 IMG_7403

-Avocado Chunk Cubes: here I just used a (potato) masher to mash up the avoc and sprinkled in a little pepper and garlic powder while mixing it up of course.  I just spooned the "guacamole" into an ice cube tray and froze. Avocado can be really messy but I want to make sure the girls get this once a day so this is a GREAT middle ground.

IMG_7413

(The logic behind freezing avocado was that I really want the girls to eat some everyday, but it can be so mushy and sometimes the girls get more of it everywhere EXCEPT their mouth so.... There are plenty of foods for them to use their hands with, at this point I am just trying to reduce the amount of mess they can make with their foods! :) )

-Breadcrumbs: I took all the crust (and the two end pieces) off of a loaf of hubby's homemade bread.  I left it "open" over night.  In the am, I used the grinder to... well grind it. I added a sprinkle of brewer's yeast, flax seed meal, and a dash of cornstarch (since 99% of the time they will be used to dredge).  I also added marjoram (milder form of oregano), pepper, and some garlic powder.  You can add grated parm cheese, and freeze to store; good up for 6 mo.  I also made a small batch of lemon pepper breadcrumbs for the grownups! :D

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-French Toast Sticks:  good old french toast, just made with slices of sticks (vs. whole sliced bread); I like to add some cinnamon! Use the tray freeze method after completely cooled. IMG_7412

-Chili: You can find the recipe in the YUM section (it is vegetarian, but I'm sure you could substitute whatever meat you wanted); this time I used the Gardin meatless meatballs (took em out and mashed em and put em back in in the am after letting simmer all night).  It was DELISH!!!! The meatballs added just a little bit of spice and flavor that I don't think I can accomplish any other way.  I also like the meatballs for this meatball bundle recipe!

-Scrambled Tofu: this one is pretty easy to do.  I just drained 1/2 of a pack of tofu and then mashed it (caution about how find you mash it because the finer you mash, the less chunky it will turn out).  I scrambled an egg (raw) and added mixed it with the tofu.  I added some fresh ground black pepper and some garlic powder.  Then, just scramble like eggs. ( like to add some cheese and salted seasonings AFTER I have made enough for the girls! It makes for  pretty tasty and healthy breakfast!!)

-Tofu Burgers:  This was pretty similar to the scrambled tofu EXCEPT I added homemade breadcrumbs and shaped the tofu into patties.  I also added a little bit of cornstarch to help bind the burgers together.  I used coconut oil to pan fry them.  These will be good with some cheese on them on a bun! (Make sure that you keep these about the thickness of pancakes! The thicker they are the harder they seemed to be to cook! (sorry, didn't grab a photo of this dish!)

-Garlic/Thyme Cubes: Simple stuff here! mince garlic/pull thyme off strands; put in an ice cube tray; cover in olive oil and freeze!(be sure to go easy on the oil bc you may find a time where you have to add several herbs to a dish and you don't want it to be TOO oily! ;)

IMG_7389 Thyme cubes in the middle. This works great to give you the most life out of your herbs and making it easier to cook bc all you have to do is throw a cube or 2 in the pan and GO!

-Spinach and Bean Burgers:  These were actually super easy and pretty yum! (OF course my oven stopped working when I started to make these... think we need a new regulator?) I veered off from the recipe I found on the BLW site a bit (it's very typical of me to find a recipe of something I want to cook and do a few things to spruce it up and make it my own!)  I drained and rinsed a can of black beans and mashed them.  I rinsed and chopped some spinach (about 1/2 a bunch works).. btw the hardest part about this meal is getting all the spinach stems out of the mix! After it was sauteed (with coconut oil and some pepper and a dash of garlic powder), I added it to the black beans and mixed well.  (You can add onion, we just havent braved it up enough yet to give the girls onion.  You should of course cook it first to take the bite off! I would saute it with garlic if I would have added onions)  I threw in a light handful of very very finely crumbled feta and of course some breadcrumbs.  Ideally I would have loved to bake them for a few minutes before pan "frying" (with coconut oil), but I am having oven issues right now and we were pressed for time.  I added more feta and some salted seasonings and some greek marinade to the mix and fried up the left overs for me and hubby for dinner! These freeze well also, so be sure to make a few to cool off and freeze later! IMG_7434 

I am in the process of learning more about composting.  We have been wanting to start doing it for sometime, but now that we are going through SO much produce weekly and there are so many scraps of food from after the girls meals, I HAD to start a bucket! This is my "trash box".  I always have one out when I cook (thanks Rachel Ray!); makes life so much easier by saving time from going back forth from counter to trash can! I now leave a box out on the counter every am and empty in the bucket after the girls go to bed/kitchen clean up time

IMG_7387Hope this info was helpful in some way! There are MANY more posts like this to come (hopefully not as lengthy!) over time as we expand our food horizons! Feel free to contribute any of your recipes! We are always looking for new things to try! Don't forget you can find all these and more BLW recipes (that you can clearly see work well for grown up meals too!!!) under the BLW tab on the homepage of Twinmommy101.  Also, be sure to drop by the YUM tab for more of our family's favorite yummies!!! I leave you all with a few pictures of my hard work put together! :D

The WHOLE shebang of food~ yummmm! This should last the girls a good 1.5-2 months! (considering that we will be constantly adding to the collection each week! I just don't plan to spend 10 hours on it again! We all gotta start somewhere!

IMG_7419Mango Russ cubes with a $ store bag full of blueberries IMG_7417The thyme, avocado, and green bean cubes in $ store bags sealed in a Ziploc freezer bag IMG_7416Homemade Mexican food for the big Sunday family brunch with my parents, brother, sister, and Fairy Cami!  IMG_7354This past weeks grown up menu (we skipped the grocery shopping, aside from a produce trip to the farmers market, this week and made food from what we had in our pantry! Couponing and sales shopping paid for itself this week alone!)  IMG_7426Last weeks menu (recipes are available in the YUM tab)  IMG_7273