Thursday, June 17, 2010

making baby food

so...you wanna know how to make your own pureed baby food.
sure you do.
its magically delicious and saves you the big bucks.
enough said.
here we go.

the tools that i use are as follows:
cookie sheets
foil
saucepan
steamer insert
ice cube trays
cookie scoop
press and seal wrap
good quality food processor or a magic bullet.
yes a $40 magic bullet RIVALS a $150+ professional food processor.
go figure.
its alllll about the torque.
oh and please don't buy a "baby food" food processor.
just don't.
they are not as powerful.
and its not very cool to bust out a baby food processor
during a dinner party to make hummus in.

i highly recommend checking out the website
this site will give you a run down of all of the foods
your baby can eat and at what age to start them at.

here are some foods that work well
for this particular process that i am showing you:
sweet potatoes
broccoli
cauliflower
all squash; acorn, butternut, pumpkin
frozen peas
frozen & fresh spinach

frozen vegetables are actually recommended by many baby food books and websites because they are picked at their ripest and frozen within 24 hours, locking in all the good nutrients.
many stores also run weekly sales on frozen veggies...even better!
always go organic if its available.

for sweet potatoes and squash:
pre heat oven to 400.
line a cookie sheet with foil.
you can cook the potatoes and squash
at the same time, just on separate cookie sheets.
quarter the potatoes with skins on after rinsing.
half the squash and scoop out the seeds.

if the squash is difficult to cut, place it in the microwave for 30 second.
it will cut like butt-ah.
cool trick i give you fo free, no charge ;-)

put the veggies on the cookie sheet.
place the squash cut side down and add a 1/4 cup of water to the pan.
place the cookie sheets in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes or until you can
easily pierce the largest pieces with a fork.
let the veggies cool.

for frozen & fresh veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, peas and spinach:
steam the veggies according to the package instructions

if fresh: steam the veggies until tender, do not over cook.
i do not recommend boiling as the process
takes out some of the nutrients and they end up in the water,
not the veggies.
but if its easier for you, go right ahead.

processing the cooked veggies:
when you are processing the veggies,
you may need to add a little water to help thin out the puree
if its too thick and the machine can't process it.
reserve the water from the cooking process for this purpose
and add as needed.
if you dumped it, no worried just use regular water.

remove the skins from the potatoes and squash.
the broccoli, cauliflower, peas and spinach are ready to go.
process all of the different veggies separately.

if you are using a magic bullet, fill the cup about 2/3 full.
add a tablespoon of water.
add cap and blend.
add water as needed, blending until completely smooth.

if you are using a food processor, fill the bowl 1/2 to 3/4 full.
pulse a few times to begin, then turn on continuously
until completely smooth, pulsing when necessary.
add a little water if the mixture stop blending.

the mixture, no matter the type of vegetable or machine used,
should resemble very thick, smooth applesauce.
now its time to freeze the mixture.
get your small cookie scoop.
preferably one with a sweeper arm.
its just easier...especially if you make baby food every other week.
trust me.
two scoops per slot is what works for me.
cover with wrap and place in the freezer.
once the cubes are completely frozen, pop them out of the trays and
place them in to large ziplock freezer bags.
i like to mix different veggie cubes up in one bag so we can grab a variety all at once.
do what works for you.
label the bag with a sharpie what veggies are in it and the date you made the batch.
use the frozen cubes with in one month of freezing.

to defrost, take out the cubes you will need for the next day
and place them in a covered bowl in the fridge overnight to defrost.

or you can microwave them, uncovered at 60-70% for about 2 minutes.
foods with a higher water content like spinach take longer to defrost.
always check the temperature before you feed to your baby.
if its too hot and your little one is pitching a fit
and wants. food. now. add some applesauce to the mixture to cool it down quickly.

one cube is approximately one ounce.
the munch started off eating two cubes per meal at about 8 months
and now at 15 months she is up to about three or four cubes
per meal with some tofu or rice added in.

money wise, i can not even begin to tell you
how much this saves us!
one jar of 2.5 oz. - 4 oz. baby food can cost between $.50 - $1.00.

here is one example of savings...
one butternut squash on sale at trader joe's was $.99.
total, not per pound.
it was about a 3 lbs squash.
i made 2 trays of baby food out of it.
24 cubes = 8 meals
i saved between $4-$7 dollars!!

on average the comparison is:
store bought baby food = $.23 an ounce
homemade baby food = $.04 an ounce

if you don't have the tools or time to make your own,
or you are laughing at me as you read this thinking
no way jose, gerber and i go waaay back...
please know i am not in any way saying this is the
ONLY way babies should be fed nor
am i condemning you for choosing what is best for your family.
i'm not the boss of you.
you go girl.
or guy.
or grandma.

this has worked well for us and i enjoy doing it.
happy feeding!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

bliss

you know that feeling when you taste something and your whole mouth comes alive??
that's what happened when i had my first spoon full of this perfect chocolate ice cream.
its just right on the money.
we love homemade ice cream!

this recipe is so simple it makes me smile.
you can taste each individual ingredient.
love that.

its ice cream season!!
make sure this is on your list of must makes...

Chocolate Ice Cream
{print recipe}

2 cups heavy cream, divided
3 tbsp. Dutch-process cocoa powder (only had Hershey's cocoa on hand and loved the taste)
5 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup whole milk (i used 2%)
¾ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:
In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup of the cream with the cocoa powder. Warm over medium-high heat, whisking to dissolve the cocoa. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 30 seconds, whisking constantly. Remove the pan from the heat, mix in the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Stir in the remaining 1 cup of cream. Transfer this mixture to a medium-large mixing bowl. Once the mixture is in the bowl, set a fine mesh sieve over the top in preparation for the next step.
In the same saucepan, combine the milk, sugar and salt and warm the mixture over medium-high heat. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks.
When the milk mixture is warm, gradually whisk it into the egg yolks, beating constantly. Return the egg-milk mixture to the saucepan and continue heating over medium-high heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan with a spatula, until the mixture is slightly thickened and reads 170-175° F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the heat, pour through the mesh sieve into the chocolate-cream mixture and stir to blend. Stir in the vanilla extract.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator. (Alternatively to speed chilling, stir the mixture frequently over an ice bath.) Once the mixture is well chilled, freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Store in an airtight container and freeze until ready to serve.
adapted from:: annie's eats, the perfect scoop by david lebovitz

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

party planning 101

a few weeks ago i had the pleasure of sharing my party planning knowledge with the wonderful mommies at our church.
its a once a month event called "mom's morning".

i spoke about entertaining and hospitality.
i had such a wonderful time!
you can read all about it over on create my event.

peace out....

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

weekly dose!!

heidi ho ranger joe!!
(if any one can guess what 80's-90's tv show that is from....
you're a dork for knowing it ;-)

hope everyone is having a great week.
can you believe its JUNE!?!?!
cray-zaaaaay.

the pictures above are of the munch watching
her daddy play at our church's coffee house.
she was so excited to sit so close to him
while he played and sang.
i had to sneak them in they are so cute!

we have been laying low the past few weeks.
the munch has been sick.
she has another ear infection.
one more this summer and she will have to see a specialist.
poor baby.
she is actually in a great mood and is quite the sport about taking her medicine and doing
treatments on the breathing machine.
please pray that her ears are completely healed and she has no more ear infections!!

she is also having to deal with a sudden growth spurt.
our baby girl is now 21 months and weighs about 26 pounds.
she literally went from a size 3 to a size 4 diaper over night.

the last time she was measured she was 34 inches tall,
but i am pretty sure she has grown a bit taller.
she is now banging her head on everything that she used to be able to walk right under.
our dining room table, the entertainment center, my desk...
no corner is safe.
here are some pictures of her 1st shiner on her forehead.
she got it from running into the corner
of the entertainment center.
(all the corners are now covered with padding. i kid you not)

the lump grew out of her head so fast
i almost passed out as i watched it!!!
sorry for the blurry picture...but you can really see how
HUGE the lump is because of the shadows.
hey, a pictures worth a thousand words, right??
even ones that are out of focus.
daddy walked in the front door about
one minute after it all went down.
praise the Lord he did...i was a mess!
daddy is telling the munchie some "secrets"
to get her mind off the shiner.
she likes how it tickles.
awe!! there's my scrunchie face!!
...and all is well with the world.
she's going to make it without a trip to the ER.
and so will her mama.
this face is called "pretty eyes".
only a trained specialist can decipher it from "the scrunchie face".

the munchie's newest "big girl" thing is going down the slides at the park by herself.
i showed her how to go down backwards.
a lot safer for her little self to go down on her belly
rather than to roll down head first.
some of these slides are steep!

repeat about 2,383 times.
once you get tired of the slide...you look for the swings.
my lil walker has spotted them!
it is SO fun to have a walker.
i really mean that. it has made my life a lot easier.
WEEEEEEE!!!
looking at her shadow on the ground.
fascinating!

can i just say i LOVE being a mom?!?
it is so rewarding and such a wonderful gift
to have her in our lives.
she brings joy everywhere she goes and
that just warms my heart.
the Lord really out did Himself when
He made this lil munchie.
we're gonna keep her ;-)
brothers and sisters to follow when the munch
can help change diapers.

whether you are a parent or not...
i encourage you to be a blessing
to the kids around you when ever you can.
speaking encouraging words over them, ask them
how their day is going and really listening to the answer...
even praying for their health and their future
is a wonderful commitment to take on.
you may be the only person taking the time to pray for them.

hope you have an outstanding week!!

love::
the munchie and her blessed mama

oh...and the tv show is full house.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

i heart fondant!!

fondant = awesomeness

i had SO much fun working with fondant for the 1st time a few weeks ago.
it was basically like working with very soft, pliable play doh.

the best part is that you can make your own fondant at home and it actually tastes like something edible.
but you don't have to eat it...just peel it off before consuming the cake if it makes you feel better.

i made these cupcakes and cake for my friends little boy's 4th birthday.
the kids loved it!
i loved making it.
winners all around ;-)

Marshmallow Fondant
{print recipe}

Regular shortening, for greasing bowls
16 oz bag plain marshmallows
2 Tbsp water
2 tsp flavoring/extract (I used almond)
2 lb confectioner’s sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt

Grease a microwave safe bowl, a spoon, the dough hook, and the bowl of your stand mixer with shortening.
Place the marshmallows and water in the greased microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 60 seconds. Mix well with the greased spoon.
If all the marshmallows have not completely melted, microwave for 30 seconds more.
Stir in flavoring/extract.
In a small bowl reserve 1 cup of the confectioner’s sugar. Place the rest of the sugar and the salt in the stand mixer bowl. Make a well in the center.
Pour marshmallow mix into the well and turn the mixer on to the lowest setting.
After about 3-4 minutes or when the mixer sounds like it is straining a little, increase the mixer speed up one setting. Turn off the mixer once almost all of the sugar has been incorporated.
If the fondant is sticky, add the reserved confectioner’s sugar 1/4 cup at a time.
Turn fondant out onto a cutting board dusted with powdered sugar. Rub a bit of shortening on the outside of the fondant ball. Work the fondant until all of the powdered sugar has been absorbed, adding a dime sized pinch of shortening as needed to get it to a smooth consistency.
Wrap the fondant in plastic wrap and place in a Ziploc bag. Allow the fondant to rest for at least 2-3 hours. Keep unused portions in a Ziploc when not using.
If the fondant becomes too stiff to work with, either add a pinch of shortening and work it in or microwave for 20 seconds at a time until pliable.

To add color: Only use food coloring gels. Place some shortening on your hands before handling the food gels. Add food coloring to fondant and knead together until there are no streaks. The shortening should help keep your hands from staining.

Roll out on a greased mat/fondant circle to the desired thickness.
Use cookie cutter for shapes or make free hand designs with a knife.
You can also form the fondant into figurines. You will need to knead in 1 tsp. of gum-tex karaya to every 12 oz. of fondant.
Use royal icing to glue the pieces of your figurine together. Allow 2 days to harden.
the birthday boy!!
happy customer ;-)

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