The lovely transition from baby food to solids

My sweet little Zoe finally has a few teeth! Okay, one official one and one so close I’m sure it’s already useful. = )

For several months she has been eating cheerios, crackers, and scrambled eggs, as well as gnawing on big chunks of apples or vegetables. Her main source of food though was baby food (which I decided to go back to good, old store bought baby food with her and we both loved that just fine).

Now we’re working on that lovely transition where solids will become her main source of nutrition.

Cheerios in milk, blueberries, banana chunks... and coffee and water to keep mama going.
Cheerios in milk, blueberries, banana chunks… and coffee and water to keep mama going.

Baby food, solids, teaching kids to feed themselves and use utensils – these are all my very least favorite stages of parenting.

So in the spirit of trying to be thoughtful and proactive regarding this transition I’m going to write down carefully everything I feed her for a week. Or try.

It’s posted on the refrigerator to help me remember. = )

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Why am I doing this?

I find it tricky to know if you’ve fed them enough. A baby food container is easy to measure. You had your fruit, your vegetable, you’re done. Usually in less than ten minutes.

But when it’s some cheerios, some blueberries, some cooked carrots, etc., I sort of lose track. And there’s the fact that it takes approximately four times as long. Or at least it did when I measured it out for breakfast and lunch today. One reason for the length of time is that I’m still actually feeding it to her. I’ve found there to be a huge benefit to your baby opening their mouth when you present something on a spoon or a fork, so I’m sticking to that method as another way to make sure she gets enough. When I put things on her tray she picks them up to eat, but doesn’t always stay interested long enough for a proper portion.

Hopefully all this will make sure she stays nice and chubby through this ten-eighteen month period that has always proved a little difficult for me.

So far, so good. Not even too bad on the neatness end.

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But spaghetti’s for dinner. = )

Skittles and Casserole

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To say that candy is a lifelong weakness for me would be an understatement.

My father-in-law faithfully keeps me supplied with Skittles, keeps me up-to-date on the newest variations, and often throws in variety bags of chocolates just for good measure.

My sister and I once ran a rather black market operation smuggling junior church candy.

If you remember from this post it took me awhile to learn how you had to eat while pregnant. Oh yes, it also took me a long time to figure out how to keep a house stocked with the kinds of food you should eat while pregnant. I learned quickly that when I was hungry, I would eat whatever was near and easy.

Usually Skittles.

So we have a scene that makes no sense: I’m pregnant, hungry, trying desperately to get dinner on the table. Why? Because I’m hungry! And so are the little people. However, I’m so hungry that I can barely concentrate on cooking. Is there anything in the pantry I can snack on? I’m so hungry!

Out would come the easiest thing to shake out in my hand and snack on.

Skittles.

Or some such other non-satisfying substitute for a good, hearty dinner.

Need I bore you more? The more Skittles I would eat the more I would want which would make dinner take longer and would also make me want them after dinner, for a snack…

So pathetic.

After the birth of Zoe this past summer, friends from church were so kind to bring us meals. Good, delicious, well-balanced meals.

Of course, anytime you’re feeding a baby you will be hungry 24/7 so I would grab a spoonful of casserole or barbecue while putting everything out on the table. That’s so good! I would eat a helping for me and Zoe and still be eating out of the pan as I was putting it away.

I literally had chicken tortilla soup for breakfast several mornings because it was so good!

Brief digression: this was awhile after the uncontrollable Skittle snacking fiasco. I had improved a little.

It was funny to me that when I’m in that pregnancy or nursing-induced hunger cycle, I will eat whatever is there.

Sadly, it rather reminds me of myself spiritually.

My soul hungers for the God it was made to worship, yet I so often stuff myself with spiritual Skittles because I’ve failed to either prepare myself for God’s Word or cultivated an appetite for junk.

I might on a very good day fall out of bed wanting to read my Bible, but if I fail to get up before the girls, or get distracted with other things – the temptation to snack on less will persist the whole day. I won’t naturally take that five minute window when the girls are all happily occupied to be still and pray.

Hearing the Word faithfully taught or tasting it’s riches while reading alone is like taking a bite of a delicious casserole. This is what I need! I want more.

I’ve been working at learning to make those yummy casseroles (thanks everyone for the recipes!) and hunger-satisfying meals. It takes time to meal plan, grocery shop, put them together and even freeze for busy days. But oh the reward when you pull that meal out of the oven or find leftovers in the refrigerator. Yay for avoiding Skittles! (Not permanently, just as a meal substitute.) ; )

The work of preparing my heart for the Word has an even greater enemy than a sweet tooth. As I’ve already said my flesh so easily replaces the worship of God with distraction, busyness, laziness, indulgence.

May I work to prepare my heart to hear and savor the teaching of the Bible at church, to grow more desperate for it’s nourishment as I go through ordinary days here at home.

Psalm 107:8-9 Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.

Giveaway winner and Cookoff Recipes

Hello! I’m so happy today to tell you about our giveaway winner and to share the recipes from the Food Lion Frugal Cookoff.

First up, the winner of the $250 gift card to Food Lion is… Kelly! Congratulations, Kelly! I hope this prize will be a blessing to you this holiday season. You’ll receive an email from me soon.

And now for the recipes! Remember we came up with these with only ten minutes to plan, ten minutes to shop, and forty-five minutes to cook – wow! Malise, I love your name for the turkey burgers! She and I both prepped the meat mixture; she totally did the squash fries – you have to try them! – and I prepared the apples and onions. If apples and onions doesn’t sound good to you, I dare you to try it! Just the right amount of tart, sweet, and savory. (I actually got the idea while feverishly looking through an old church cookbook while nursing my baby before the cookoff. Ha! You never know. And Kate Troost, I owe you.)

Okay, enough history. = ) Let me know if you try these!!

 

Makes 4 servings
Cost of meal: (not including pork chops and spices) $15.70
Approximate cooking time: 45 minutes
Grocery List for our Complete Menu Ingredients (not including the staples pantry and protein that were provided):
Ciabatta bread
Parsley
Green Onion
Garlic
2 Onions
Buttercup Squash
Parmesan cheese
Fresh Mushrooms
2 Apples
1 Orange
1 bunch of Spinach
Southern Surprise Perky Burgers
These burgers are from an original recipe my mother, Perky, used to make. She was a Greensboro native and a fabulous cook for our family of 7. She always made a Southern Surprise Burger similar to this so they are named after her recipe. She was an early adaptor of ground turkey as a healthy alternative to ground beef. We always loved it and we hope you do, too. ~ Malise @CarolinaMama
1 .lb Ground Turkey
Olive Oil – coat non-stick pan
¼ c. Parsley
2 T. green onion chopped
2 T. yellow onion chopped
½ t. each Pepper, Cayenne
1T. Italian seasoning
1 t. salt
¼ c. Balsamic Vinegar
4 Garlic Cloves – diced
Topping and Surprise:
½ c. yellow onion
4 Garlic Cloves – diced
¼ c. Real Parmesan Cheese – shredded
1. c. Fresh Mushrooms – rinsed and sliced
Flour to dust
Ciabatta Bread – sliced into squares
Directions: Heat Olive Oil in non-stick pan over medium heat. Mix ground turkey and the next eight ingredients on the list. Mix thoroughly. Separately, saute the topping and surprise ingredients in the pan for about three or four minutes. (except the flour) Back to the turkey mixture, form balls that are the size of sliders/thick 3-4 inch burgers. Press the center, spoon a bit of onion and garlic into the center and then, spoon in a teaspoon of parmesean, form a ball, and dust with flour, grill evenly on both sides about 4 minutes each. Do not press burgers while grilling. Remove burgers from pan, place on bottom of Ciabatta bread, sliced in squares, take the top of the bread and wipe the pan adding the oil mixture and flavor from the pan to the bread. Spoon some of the mushroom and onion mixture on top of each burger. Add Spinach to burger. A slice of orange for color. Enjoy.
Buttercup Squash Parmesan Fries
Buttercup Squash
½ c. Parmesan Cheese Shredded, Fresh
2 t. salt and pepper
½ t. cayenne pepper
½ t. garlic powder
Olive oil
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pour Olive Oil onto non-stick baking pan, distribute evenly.
Slice squash open, clean and rinse. Begin slicing into long slices for french fries. Use small
slices as well. Once sliced to desired size, spread the buttercup squash onto the cooking pan,
evenly and where each slice of squash is flat on the pan, not stacked. Evenly sprinkle the seasoning including the parmesan onto the fries. Bake for 10 minutes. Take the pan out and
flip fries over with a spatula and cook for 10 more minutes. Enjoy.
Simple Apples and Onions
Green apple, chopped
Red Apple, chopped
½ of sweet onion, sliced
Salt
Pepper
Olive oil
Orange Slices
Saute apples and onions in olive oil over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, stir. Cover and cook five more minutes. Squeeze fresh orange over the apples and onions. Remove from heat and serve. Enjoy.
Orange BBQ Sauce

(serve on burgers or use to dip fries)
BBQ Sauce, Food Lion Original
Orange Slices
Pepper
Cayenne
Sugar
Squeeze 1T of fresh orange into 1/2 cup of barbecue sauce. Stir in pepper, cayenne, and sugar to taste. Enjoy.

Food Lion Frugal Cookoff – giveaway

This giveaway can’t wait any longer!

In case you’re short on time, here’s what you need to know: Food Lion hosted a super fun Frugal Cookoff and I had the privilege of being one of the contestants! (If you’ve read this, I promise I have not turned into Pinocchio.) As a result, I get to give away a $250 gift card to one of my readers. Hooray! Who wouldn’t want free groceries? Please enter the giveaway! Scroll down to the portion in bold and follow the directions for your chance to win!

Now for the story! = )

Out of the blue one night, I received a message from my friend Malise at Carolina Mama. She has a “fun idea/event opportunity for me.” After talking to her I found out about the Food Lion Frugal Cookoff. A chance to participate in a cooking contest – mystery meat ingredient, fifteen dollar budget of Food Lion essential brand products, forty-five minutes to prepare a main course and two sides – what could be more fun than that? At this point I have to tell you that my husband and I watched Chopped for a loooooong time; and I always wanted to try it. I was so happy it worked out to participate!! Thanks, Malise, for thinking of me!

My emotions took turns being excited, being nervous, being mad at myself for getting into something where I would probably make a fool of myself, and being completely uninvolved as I went about the daily tasks of taking care of my five girls.

I found out that we would be on teams… and Malise would be my partner – yay!!

We also found out that our meat for the main dish would be one of these four choices, boneless chicken breast, ground turkey, boneless pork chop, or tilapia.

I’ve used all of these except ground turkey so I decided to “research” a little. (Ahem, Pinterest.) The only things that looked good were turkey burgers or turkey meatballs, but turkey meatballs seemed a little too risky. I looked up ideas for the other meats, emailed Malise all my ideas and thoughts and then said, “Whatever you want to do is fine with me because you’ve been cooking way longer than I have!” = )

On the night of the cookoff we were given ground turkey! Our menu consisted of Southern Surprise Turkey Burgers, Parmesan Buttercup Squash Fries, and Simple Apples and Onions. Later I will share recipes and more about the competition – it was so fun!!

And… drumroll please… we won!!!

Can you believe it??? I sure couldn’t!!!

Actually, I was looking around at everyone else’s plates thinking they looked so good, so pretty and yummy. But, when I tasted ours, I thought, Hmmm…. we might have a chance!

It was all so yummy! You’ll have to check back for the recipes!! = )

Before I finish talking your ear off about this, I have to say that Food Lion was such a great sponsor! They explained their effort to provide fresh produce, fresh meat, and quality staples, all at their very lowest prices. They have even have new lines of organic and natural products – and, they gave us a goody bag that sampled these products – yum!! You should try them!

Now for the good part: I have one $250 Food Lion gift card to give away to one of my readers – yay!!

Here’s how to enter: Leave a comment here, like the blog on facebook, or share the giveaway via facebook, or all three for three chances to win!! 

Let me know in your comments what you’ve done! I will announce the winner a week from today – next Tuesday!

A huge thanks to Food Lion for the opportunity to participate in the Frugal Cookoff! Thanks also to Malise of Carolina Mama for letting me know about the event and for being such a great teammate!

I can’t wait to tell you more of the story, show you more pictures; for now here’s the youtube clip!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rutabaga Report

Two nights ago, I made the rutabaga.

And this is how it went:

rutabaga editedI started about two hours and fifteen minutes before I wanted to eat dinner. Everyone says it’s really hard to peel and chop. The girls sat across from me coloring on the small counter where they could still see what was happening. Thankfully, the ordeal kept them entertained the whole time.

Peeling wasn’t actually so hard; it took me twelve minutes. And I’m sure I didn’t use the right kind of knife.

Chopping? Took forty-five minutes. Again, not with a good knife or skilled knife-user. I could never get a big enough chunk off to really chop, so it was just a glorified peeling of the whole thing. I would see a little piece sticking out and cut that off. Turn it and find another place sticking out. It got faster as I went, but my first finger was completely numb by the time I was finished. (not recommended for pianists)

But the good news was, it cooked just fine in all of it’s odd shapes and non-chunkiness.

I added three chopped potatoes to the pot and covered it all in water.

After salting it generously, I let it boil for around thirty minutes. It was definitely tender.

So I drained it and threw a stick of butter in to let it melt. (When I say butter, I actually mean Blue Bonnet. Whatever kind of imitation butter that is.)

I warmed up a cup of half-and-half for a minute on 50% power in the microwave. Added that, more salt, pepper, and a little bacon grease.

Then I ate all the bacon that I had cooked as a reward for all my hard work.

After that, you know the drill… mash it, or beat it until it’s nice and fluffy.

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Sophia and Paul loved it.

Hope, Gracie, Mckayla and I tolerated it.

Rutabaga tastes a little bit like turnips to me. (Bleck: turnips are definitely the least favorite properly prepared thing I’ve ever put in my mouth!) However, these really weren’t bad! I passed them up for leftovers this afternoon, but had no problem eating them when they were fresh.

Hope’s reaction cracked me up. (Since it was her idea to buy a rutabaga anyway.) Trying to be polite, when I asked her if she liked it she said, “Well, not nes-arily. I mean it’s not like as bad as asparagus, but it’s not as good as peas and chicken. You know, I mean, like it’s okay. I can eat it.”

If I make it again, I’ll probably add more potatoes. A lot of recipes I looked at said to make the potato/rutabaga ratio equal.

The two recipes I referenced can be found here and here.

Here are the pictures I got.

The in not-so-beauty shot.

IMG_2482The wannabe beauty shot.

IMG_2490And the kids meal version.

IMG_2499What do you think about rutabagas?

 

Gracie’s stages: Whasfodinnuh?

Sweet baby Gracie
Sweet baby Gracie

It’s time for the next installment of Gracie’s stages!! And it is a good one!

This stage was definitely my sister’s favorite ever. It got to the point where she would text me every morning saying, “Did she say it?” But I give too much away.

We love two-year old’s around here!! I think it’s my favorite age. You can read about why here. After that post, I started writing down all of Gracie’s fun two-year old stages. You can read about some of those here and here.

A little background before I dive in to the story of this stage. Gracie lost weight from the age of six to nine months (I really took that hard) and it was a while before she got back to where she needed to be.

But now?

She’s definitely making up for lost time.

Plainly stated… the child LOVES to eat. And I’m so thankful every time I look at her chubby little body.

At some point this fall, she realized that I pretty much knew what I was going to make for dinner that night; and that if she asked me I would share that information with her. (The other girls will frequently ask about the dinner plan at some point during the day)

Gracie began to ask me, “Mommy, whasfodinnuh?”

And I would reply with whatever the choice was for that night.

To which she would reply, “Oooo!!!!” with a very excited, happy look on her face.

It was great. But it got even greater.

That question became literally the first thing she said to me every morning! For at least a month, probably longer!

I’d walk into her room in the morning, “Good morning, Gracie! How are you?”

She’d stand up (always with the most hideous case of bedhead you’ve ever seen), rub her sleepy eyes and say in a soft, morning voice, “Mommy, whasfodinnuh?”

And I would reply, and she would say, “Oooo!!!!” with a very excited, happy look on her face.

Every. single. morning.

(See how I just. did. that.? It’s a very bloggy thing to do.)

Even though she had already asked first thing in the morning, she would still ask six or seven times during the day. Just randomly walk up to me and say, “Mommy, whasfodinnuh?”

And I would reply and she would say, “Oooo!!!!” with a very excited, happy look on her face.

Didn’t matter what it was. Spaghetti? Tilapia? Chicken and dumplins? Breakfast?

“Oooo!!!!” with a very excited, happy look on her face.

Of course, I would tell Laurie about this during our daily phone conversations; so she began texting me in the morning, “Did she say it?”

It was her idea for me to ask Gracie, “What do you want for dinner?” Awesome idea. “I’ll try it tomorrow!”

So the next morning after “Mommy, whasfodinnuh?” and my reply and “Oooo!!!!” with a very excited, happy look on her face; I asked:

“What do you want for dinner, Gracie”

“Chicken and dumplins!”

She said that for at least a week; but after she said it, I would tell her what we were actually having and she would say…

“Oooo!!!!” with a very excited, happy look on her face.

I love that girl.

Gracie’s plan for the day

DSC00976A couple mornings ago, Paul was holding Gracie on his lap talking with her before he went to work.

“Gracie, what are you going to do today?” he asked.

“Eat breakthast.”

“Then what are you going to do?”

“Eat lunch.”

“What are you going to do after that?”

“Eat dinnuh.”

Well, sounds like a plan.