Tag Archives: family

Now what do I do with all of these apples and pumpkins?

It’s fall and  time for all of those outdoor fall activities that my family and I love! If you are a Northeast girl like me, than you know that September and October bring fall festivals, apple picking, pumpkin picking and the most perfect sweatshirt weather imaginable. My lil’ Jojo shares my love for the outdoors, so naturally as soon as we welcomed the fall season, we were out and about picking apples at a local farm with friends and family, and driving out east to pick the next great pumpkin with Jojo’s BFF :).

There are few better ways to spend time as a family, than outdoors watching your energetic, almost-two year old run, jump, roll and apple/pumpkin pick himself into a “nap-coma”. You will undoubtedly experience a meltdown or two,  but trust me its worth it.  The trip is sure to always be filled with wonderful memories and laughs. (*A Few trip tips- bring lots of food and visit places that are no more than an hour away from home to avoid lengthy car trips that only increase the chances of a meltdown as soon as you arrive.)

When the day trip is over, you’ve unpacked the car, brought all of your goodies into the house, and successfully transfered your sleeping child to his/her crib for an extended nap time (fingers crossed – I realize that this is quite idyllic), you may find yourself thinking… now what do I do with all of these apples and pumpkins? While the experience of apple picking is certainly one of a kind, you may also ask yourself why on earth you decided to pick two 12lb bags full. Were you really thinking that you could eat 24lbs of apples?…And what about all of those apples you already ate while walking though the orchard? …You know who you are MWL!!  Did you really see yourself snacking on apples for the next month? Did “all you can carry pumpkins for 50 cents a pound ” really mean you had to try to carry the whole farm home with you?… Of course not!!! But you did, and now you’re saying, “HELP ME! My house is turning into a farmer’s market!!!”

So what can you do with all of those apples? Well, my first suggestion is have a game plan BEFORE  you leave the house. But for those of you  who didn’t, no worries, I’m here to help! It is important to think about what you want to make or bake, so that you are not overwhelmed when you walk in the door with pecks of produce. …Yes, I said pecks! You know, approximately 10.5 lb bags of apples … doesn’t everyone know that?  (…OK, I didn’t either. Thank you apple farmers for teaching me a new measurement!) You need to understand that certain dishes are more laborious than others, but that you can cut down on the work and get to the enjoyment of your tasty, homemade treats faster by having the right tools and recipes handy.

When I went apple and pumpkin picking I had the following dishes in mind:

For Jojo:

  • Applesauce
  • Apple pancakes
  • Apple muffins
  • Baked apples
  • Pumpkin pancakes

 For us:

  • Apple Crisp
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Pumpkin bread

To make these dishes I needed:

  • Apple Peeler – I think I have the best one on earth…(props to my hubby)Picture 19
  • Large pot with a steamer basket
  • Food processor/ blender
  • Large glass 9×9 baking dish or casserole dish
  • Sharp knife & cutting board (one that does not slip on the counter)

Here are few of my favorite recipes. They are all family tested and approved. For a sweet apple treat, make sure you try the apple crisp. I know that it is not my usual health conscious recipe, but you deserve a little indulgence every now and then. Pair it with Vanilla ice cream and you have a real crowd pleaser. The recipe doubles and even triples quite nicely for a large group…Thanksgiving dessert anyone?

Apple Crisp: Courtesy of Better Homes & Gardensphoto-10

Makes: 6 servings/ Prep 30mins/ Bake 375°F

Ingredients

            5 
 cups  sliced, peeled apples

            2 – 4 
 tablespoons  granulated sugar

            1/2
 cup  regular rolled oats

            1/2
 cup  packed brown sugar

            1/4
 cup  all-purpose flour

            1/4
 teaspoon  ground nutmeg, ginger, or cinnamon

            1/4
 cup  butter

            1/4
 cup  chopped nuts or coconut

            
 Vanilla ice cream or light cream (optional)

Directions

  1. For filling, thaw fruit, if frozen. Do not drain. Place fruit in an ungreased 2-quart square baking dish.
  2. Stir in the granulated sugar.
    For topping, in a mixing bowl combine oats; brown sugar; flour; and nutmeg, ginger, or cinnamon. With a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in nuts or coconut.
  3. Sprinkle topping over filling.
  4. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 30 to 35 minutes (40 minutes for thawed fruit) or until fruit is tender and topping is golden. If desired, serve warm with ice cream or light cream.

Natural Apple Sauce– 6 large apples will make a typical 8 oz jar of applesauce.

  1. Peel core and slice 6 large apples.
  2. Place apple slices in a large steamer basket in a large pot filled to the bottom of the steamer basket with water.
  3. Steam apples until they are tender.
  4. Place the steamed apples in the food processor or blender and puree.
  5. Allow too cool before placing in containers and storing in the refrigerator.

Apple Applesauce Muffins: Courtesy of Weelicious.com

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup honey

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cups peeled and chopped apples (about 2 medium apples)

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the applesauce, buttermilk, honey, egg, and vanilla.
  4. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in the apples.
  1. Pour batter into greased muffin cups, about 3/4 full and bake 20 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center

Sandwich “Sushi”?

O yes! Like many, I am a sushi-holic. It is my go-to take-out food and a “guilt-free” guilty pleasure. Is that possible? I love everything about it, the delicious taste created by the fresh ingredients (crispy cucumber, buttery avocado etc.), and of course how beautiful it is. Each tiny piece of sushi is like its own miniature piece of art, which for me, makes it that much more delicious. YUM! To my surprise there are many foodies and mommy chefs out there using sushi as inspiration for their toddler lunches. No, they are not suggesting we all run and take our toddlers out for a sushi lunch (I do NOT feed my Jojo any type of raw fish or raw protein), but what they are doing is taking inspiration from these scrumptious pieces of food art and creating yummy spins on the sandwich.

It makes sense, I mean I said it myself, part of what makes sushi so delicious is the way it looks and how it is presented. So if you take that simple principle and apply it to making a sushi sandwich, your toddler will find it just as fun and delicious as you do!

Inspired by a picture I saw on the cover of the new Weelicious Lunches book last week online, and stumped about how to get my lil Jojo to eat chicken in other forms besides the pot-pie and pasta methods (there is something about plain chicken that is simply unappealing to him), I thought why not make it into a fun sandwich sushi roll where the whole grain bread acts as the rice and the filling is whatever fresh produce and/ or protein that is on the menu for the day. What an easy idea! So I did, and yes I got a “ummmmmm” on the first bite which means this was a complete success. What’s even better is that I can make sandwich “sushi” for all different types of fresh vegetables, fruits and cooked proteins.

JoJo’s Carrot, Cucumber and Cooked Chicken Sandwich Sushi

 Ingredients:

1 slice multigrain bread (edges trimmed)

2 tbsp cream cheese

5 thin slices of cucumber

2 tbsp steamed shredded carrot

pieces of diced cooked chicken breast

Preparation:

Cut off the edges to your slice of bread and then take a rolling pin and roll the bread flat. Spread the cream cheese over the flattened piece of bread. Top with the thin slices of cucumber, carrots and chicken. Roll the bread up into a sushi roll shape. Squeeze cylinder to set ingredients.  Cut into small pieces with a sharp knife.

*Prepartion Tips: You will need to experiment with the placement of your ingredients to get a perfect roll. The thinner the slices, the easier it is to form the bread into a roll.

* Dairy Free: For all my dairy-free moms out there, I know it can be difficult to find recipes that fit your needs. A good substitute for cream cheese in this recipe is hummus (any variety just be sure to use a nut-free variety and watch the salt content- I recommend making your own).

Other Variations:

  • Sweet: Cream cheese and berries
  • Savory: Black bean hummus, avocado, steamed shredded carrots, diced chicken breast cooked with cumin, thinly sliced fresh tomato and shredded cheddar.

Make It Exciting: For my Jojo nothing amps up a meal more than adding a dipping sauce. Jazz up your rolls by creating your own spectacular sauce- yogurt, sour cream, and applesauce are all great accompaniments. Pick what best fits the flavor profile of your rolls.

Like my blog? Follow me or leave a comment. I would love to be the answer to your mommy cooking woes!

And we’re off…

As you may have guessed from the title of my blog, I like food. There is no time I find more calming than the time I spend in my kitchen experimenting with a new recipe or conjuring up a late night home-baked dessert when that ole’ sweet tooth kicks in.  On my worst days, the kitchen is the place that saves me, especially when I have a full fridge of goodies, and infinite possibilities for a menu. Now, I don’t want to give you the impression that I’m food obsessed… but when I am not in my kitchen, I’m often planning my next recipe, searching the internet for recipes or watching one of the twenty-episodes of “The Chew” that are sitting idly on my DVR (When I’m not chasing around my one year old). Ok, I get it, maybe I am.

I suppose this obsession is genetic, I’m part Italian. The “love for cooking” gene sits right next to the “I love to watch my family eat my cooking” gene. It’s in my blood. I come from a long line of cooks. As a child, I can remember sitting in my grandma and grandpa’s kitchen watching them fuss over the pasta,  zeppolis, pizza and anisette cookies, arguing about how best to fry the zeps, sauce the pies or frost the cookies. To this day, I don’t think I can ever mix up a special Easter batch of anisette cookies without thinking of how my grandfather lectured me on the proper way to mix the ingredients, after all he was the expert (even though I never saw him mix a batch of his own). Nor can I make homemade pizza without hearing him remind me not to over sauce. I love you grandpa and yes you were right!

My Grandma is an amazing cook. To this day I cannot figure out how to make her sauce even though she has explained “how” a dozen times. She has the magic touch. There’s just something effortless in the way she cooks that inspires me. My food memories start with her cooking and they are some of the best memories I have from my childhood. Zucchini and eggs, fried zucchini, fried zucchini flours, (yes we ate a lot of zucchini)  homemade sausage, anisette cookies, zeppolis, cream puffs, coconut dreams, rock biscotti, cheesecake, meatballs, pizzaquina, cavatelli, gnocci, gimbaut??(and no I still can’t spell half of the foods we made), strawberry shortcake, coconut custard pie, apple pie, homemade cannolis, all of these foods remind me of fun times spent at grandma and grandpa’s table with my family laughing, poking fun at each other and fighting over who was going to get to the end piece from the loaf of Italian bread and who was going to dunk their bread in the delicious tomatoy olive oil at the bottom of the salad bowl. Yea, those were the days!

Grandma’s love for cooking was infectious because my mother, her sister and all of their children also love to cook and bake. When I think about growing up in my house, I always remember the smell of a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven. Mom is a great baker. She can make just about anything from scratch and is notorious for always seeking out healthier recipes for the delicious sweets that we enjoy. Whether its sneaking a little wheat germ into a cookie to give her kids more fiber, or trying out new healthier substitutions, my mom was always testing out new recipes for sweets some were awesome, while others were obviously too healthy for my childish taste buds…yes mom I could taste the wheat germ ;)! You’re the best mom!

But perhaps this is where my cooking quest started. Now, I am a new mom of a one year old boy, Jojo, and I find myself continuing Grandma and mom’s cooking legacy with a focused eye on making food that is both delicious and healthy for my son that will also please my husband and me. My focus since Jojo has started to eat our food has been to translate meals that I would typically cook for my husband and me into kid friendly meals that are well-balanced and delish! I got off to a rocky start, but as my son grows and I become more honed in on what he likes, I have had many successes and I want to share them!

I created this blog to help other mom’s who may be seeking meals to cook their picky toddlers that are not over-processed and do not come from a package. I want to share my recipes and experiences, and hopefully encourage others to take the time to cook for their family and give their child fun “food memories” to take with them on their journey through life like I did. Stay tuned for my next post which will be some easy starter recipes for your toddler that are easy to prepare and delish!