Monthly Archives: January 2012

OXO Love

One of MomMe’s favorite brands, OXO Tot, requested our recipe for parsnips for baby (we’ve also included a bonus recipe. H-Man’s new favorite is MomMe’s spaghetti). MomMe loves storing little one’s food in the OXO Tot baby blocks. We use both the 2oz and 4 oz cubes, depending on the recipe. We hope you enjoy it as much as our little one does!

Parsnips, Carrots and Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients:

2 medium sized parsnips

4 medium sized carrots

1 medium sized sweet potato

Peel the parsnips, carrots and sweet potato. Dice into small to medium-sized chunks and steam until soft. Let the vegetables cool then puree. Store in your favorite OXO Tot baby blocks and serve to your little one!

Baby Spaghetti

Ingredients:

½ cup boiled pasta

1 medium tomato diced

½ small onion diced

1 medium carrot sliced

Boil the pasta, cool and set aside. Dice the tomato and onion and sauté until the onions are soft. Peel and slice the carrot and steam until soft. Let the vegetables cool and then puree. Enjoy!

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The Most Delicious Guacamole Ever

I will never forget asking a woman to put avocado on a sandwich she was making for me when I was interning at the White House in college in our capital city.  She responded with a smart chide, teasing me, “girl, do you think you are in California?” Apparently, avocados are not as plentiful across the United States as they are in the golden state. However, one thing I know is, almost everyone loves a good guacamole. Here is my recipe to make the perfect guac every time:

  Pick several soft, blackening avocados for same-day guacamole, but if you plan to wait a few   days, err on the firmer, greener side. Cut the avocado in half and scoop out the inside. When you have the flesh of the avocado in a bowl, mash the fruit (which is technically a large berry) with a fork until all of the chunks are gone. This is my secret to perfect guac: I like to develop a soft mashed, almost creamy consistency to the avocados before adding any other ingredients into the mixture.

Mince two to three cloves of garlic, between one-quarter and half an onion, one tomato and between two and three sprigs of scallions very finely and add them to the bowl. I like to mince all of the ingredients very finely so that they will incorporate really well into the avocado mixture and be present in each bite. Add salt and pepper.

At this point, you have some options. If you like a really spicy guac, add between half and a whole minced jalapeno pepper. If you want to cut corners and still add a kick to your guac, add some chili pepper flakes (yes, the kind you would top your pizza with…they are a delicious and easy addition!). If you like lime, add the juice of half a lime. And finally, if you like cilantro, chop up some fresh cilantro and add to the bowl. An easy to add some zip to the guac if you don’t like cilantro is to add some fresh parsley. Guacamole is of course always great with high quality chips, layered on a sandy, and topped off on a burger.

Avocados, 2 – 4
Garlic, 2 – 3 cloves
Onion, ½ – whole
Tomato
Scallions, 2 – 3 sprigs
Salt
Pepper
Jalapeno, ½ – whole OR Chili pepper flakes to taste

Optional
Cilantro, about 1 tablespoon chopped or Parsley, about 1 tablespoon chopped
Lime, half

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The Best Mexican Dip Ever…and some Superbowl Thoughts.

The Superbowl is almost here.  For some people, this greatest event in sports is the culmination of their viewing season.  The big game they have been waiting for months (or maybe a year) to watch.

As a huge fan of the game of football (and fantasy football), for me the Superbowl is always a bit sad.  The arrival of this game means that the season is over.  A season that started over the summer with mini-camps and training camps filled with high hopes and even bigger dreams.

Every team and every player watching the Superbowl game on their couch or from the sidelines did not see those dreams become reality.  The many hours of blood, sweat and tears dedicated reaching this milestone will essentially be all for naught.

(Although let’s be honest, it filled up a lot of my time, energy and attention watching games, making my survivor and confidence picks, and building the best fantasy teams that ever were.  So in reality, there was a lot accomplished by any player who donned a uniform and was good enough to be drafted onto a fantasy roster.)

The best part of the Superbowl is the unifying nature of the game.  People all over the world tune in to watch, though they may normally watch basketball or baseball, soccer or cricket.  The unifying power of the game is so great, companies and brands go bananas jockeying to advertise everything from Doritos, Groupon (though that was an #epicfail) and this year’s most anticipated follow-up commercial, the Star Wars Volkswagon commercial.  Released three weeks before the big game, the ad preview went viral in less than a day!

(For any fans in Indy for the big game, be sure to check out the NFL Experience where our one of our partners, Emcee Live is hosting fun events everyday leading up to the big game.)

No Superbowl party would be complete without food, or should I say dips, apps and other finger foods.  Easy to eat and facilitating social interactions, dips are the perfect Superbowl food.

Here is a recipe that will make you the star of your Superbowl party even if you don’t know the difference between a first down and touchdown, where the Giants are from or who Tom Brady is married to.

The Best Mexican Dip You Will Ever Taste

1 can refried beans, black beans or 1.5 cups beans made from recipe you like

1 cup grated cheddar, pepperjack, or Mexican cheese

2 cups lettuce in small strips (I hate to admit this, but iceburg or bibb lettuce with its  little nutritional value will work best)

2 large tomatoes

1 pack salsa or 1.5 cups home-made salsa

2 avocados (make guacamole following this recipe)

1 pack taco mix or Penzey’s chicken taco seasoning to taste (you do not have to use full pack, remember what I said in an earlier post about seasoning food)

I container of light sour cream

I small can black olives

Place beans in an oval baking dish (I love Le Creuset) and heat on 350 until warm, about 10 minutes.  Take dish from the oven and let cool for a few minutes.

While the beans cook, grate cheese, make your guacamole and salsa (if making from scratch), dice online in small slices, tear or cut lettuce into small strips, dice tomatoes.  Put sour cream in a mixing bowl and add taco seasoning.

Sprinkle cheese over the beans (or you can bake the beans with the cheese if you want).  Layer dip with salsa, sour cream mixture, guacamole, tomatoes, lettuce and then add olives around the rim of the dish and shape them into the laces on a football.

Your dip will be delicious and look like a football for your party!

Optional: you can cook turkey or ground beef with taco seasoning and add it to the mix after the salsa and before the sour cream layers.

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January 31, 2012 · 12:05 am

Oh, Beaba! – Continued

Now that you’ve decided to make your own baby food here are a few helpful tips:

Choose fruits or vegetables that are in-season. Your little one will enjoy eating foods at their prime.  If you can’t find a fruit or vegetable in season, check the frozen food section.

Also check out the Dirty Dozen list. If you aren’t familiar with it, the Dirty Dozen list identifies the top twelve fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide content. If possible, try to choose organic for those items.

Introduce one new food every 3-5 days and look for signs of allergic reactions.  At a routine checkup, discuss with your pediatrician appropriate foods to introduce to baby and when it is safe to do so.

Food safety is important. The general rule of thumb is that freshly made baby food can stay in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours or frozen for 30 days. To thaw frozen baby food, place it in the refrigerator and allow it to thaw overnight. Do NOT put it in the microwave (even in BPA free containers).On the topic of BPA. All plastic utensils, bowls, sippy cups, and storage containers for babies should be BPA free. MomMe loves OXO Tot Baby Blocks. They are BPA free and available in 2 and 4 ounces. These nifty trays stack easily are spill-proof.

After you’ve spent your precious time making baby’s food, you want to make sure it’s clearly labeled.  MomMe loves Post-it® Super Sticky Removable Label Pads. They’re bright and just large enough to fit on the OXO Tot Baby Blocks to identify what the food is and when it was made.

As always, MomMe knows best. HOWEVER, consult with your pediatrician to decide when it is the right time to introduce solids to little ones. When it is, enjoy the process and whip out the camera. This is a great photo-op for MomMe!

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Couscous/grains with Veggies (Chicken & Tofu Optional)

I was asked by a MomMe in mommy and me class this week to share my recipe for the grain and veggie salad I brought to class.

The first thing that you should know about me is that I do not follow recipes.  My mom taught me how to cook from a young age.  She would come home from work and I would sit with her in the kitchen, watching and learning what she was doing, and chatting about our days.

She taught me that you cannot be afraid to play with spices, and that the worst thing that can happen is that you have to throw something out.  I am including this as a disclaimer that I do not pay perfect attention to measurements for spices, as each time I make something you have to season the dish a little differently.

Don’t worry if you are a beginner cook or the thought of having to guesstimate spices scares you.  My advice is to err on the side of under-seasoning, as you can always add more.  Also, season as you go.  I season every time I add a new layer, new ingredient to the dish, to get the most flavor and robust taste.

This is a great dish because it takes very little time to prep and cook, can be prepared ahead of time and served cold, and is also healthy.

First find a grain blend you like.  I am using a Mediterranean Couscous blend by Epicurean Specialty, currently at Costco in LA (with the large Israeli-style couscous, orzo, quinoa and chickpeas).  Trader Joe’s also sells another blend I like.  Follow the directions on the package to make the grain/pasta.

Here is the first secret.  Instead of using water, substitute low-sodium chicken broth.  This will add depth of flavor and make the dish come together when blended with the veggies.  Season the broth with some salt (not too much, broth has a good deal of salt), pepper, garlic powder or minced garlic (or both, I love garlic) and a poultry seasoning.  One I love is from Spice Hunter – Poultry Rub Grill Shaker, but Szeged Chiken Rub and Penzey’s both make ones I like.

Another secret, add dried sliced white onions that you can get from Penzey’s or my favorite, the Spice House.  This is a time savor that is also delicious!

You can use those onions as you sauté the veggies or cut onions.  Sometimes I add both because onions are delicious.  Cut up one bell pepper, two medium sized zuchinnis or yellow straight neck squash, and from here you can add any other veggie you like.  For this recipe I added asparagus, but other ones I like are kale, mushrooms, swiss chard, cauliflower, broccoli, the list goes on.

If you happen to be cooking in the springtime, consider adding some green garlic.  Green garlic is absolutely delicious and makes a dish completely come alive.

Warm up a sauté pan and toss in some extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil, my new love.  Throw in the veggies when the pan is warm on medium heat and sauté until cooked.  Season veggies as they are cooking with salt, pepper, garlic powder (yes, I put it in almost everything I make!), parsley (for color if you have some) and chicken seasoning.  Other spice blends you can play with are the Northwoods Seasoning from Penzey’s that is delicious, paprika and dried shallots.

Add the couscous to the sauté pan and eat or refrigerate.  If you want to add a protein, you can add tofu or even better, buy a rotisserie chicken at Costco.  Why do I recommend Costco?  Their chicken is double the size of any supermarket one I have seen, costs less and are usually incredibly juicey.  Tear the meat off the bones when you come home and place it in a Tupperware container.  You can add this to the veggies when they are almost done cooking to re-heat.

One note: if your coucous and veggie blend is dry, you can always add some extra broth.  I sometimes add a little broth to the veggies as they cook for flavor and to keep them moist.  And as always, play with this recipe and add you own spice, veggie and protein variations to create a dish your family will love!

Second note: if your blend contains chickpeas, they can take a little while longer to cook than the rest of the blend.  Don’t worry, the couscous and orzo will taste fine, but you don’t want super crunchy chickpeas in your meal!

Shopping List:

– Couscous/grains blend

– Chicken Broth

– Bell Peppers

– Onions

– Zuchinni or Squash

– Asparagus or other veggies

– Rotisserie Chicken or Tofu (if you want)

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Oh, Beaba!

Oh, Beaba!

I can not put it any simpler than this. I love to cook! Cooking is my way of expressing my love for my friends and family and, naturally, I wanted to share that love with little H-Man when he arrived. Thanks to my fabulous Chicago friends I am able to do that. I make all of H-Man’s meals using the Beaba Baby Cook. This is by far the easiest baby food cooker on the market. If you have not checked it out yet, stop reading this post and do so right away!

The Beaba has two basic parts: steamer basket insert and food processor. The steamer insert fits inside the food processor so with the touch of a button I can steam H-Man’s vegetables and meat. When they are done I empty the steamer basket into the food processor and puree. Clean up is even easier. Everything goes in the dishwasher! No more baby gadgets taking up space on the coveted Boon lawn (Side note – Dear Boon: The grass and lawn are too small. Please create a field. MomMe needs room to dry her wine glass from dinner. Thank you!)

This week I made a batch of lentils, lamb casserole, and mashed potatoes. Little H-Man is a fantastic eater so far and I like to believe it is because he is getting homemade meals filled with love thanks to Beaba!

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Baby On The Move

Baby is on the move. Now what? Oh man, that means childproofing. Just when you thought you were done buying more baby gear. Well, the good thing for you is that H-Man is on the move and we just childproofed our house last weekend. Here is Club MomMe’s list of childproofing necessities to keep your little one safe.

Teething Rail: Why risk ruining that expensive crib you purchased? When your little one starts to pull up and chew on the crib rails you don’t need to! Prince Lionheart makes an excellent teething rail that fits most standard cribs. It’s easy to use as you just snap it over the railing of your crib and your little one can’t pull it off easily. The best part is that it’s only $13.00 on Amazon.com. Prince Lionheart’s teething rail is such a simple solution to protect the furniture you spent hours agonizing over before purchasing.

Safety gates: These are a no brainer. I wish my MomMe had one on our back door when I was a little explorer. Maybe I wouldn’t have opened the back door and toppled out! The market is flooded with various portable and permanent safety gates. We purchased one that is both. The Dreambaby pressure mount safety gate was the easiest to install and fits our extra wide hallway thanks to the two  free extensions with the gate. My favorite feature of the Dreambaby gate is that it comes in black or white and in two different heights. Knowing we’d be keeping these up for a few years, I purchased the extra tall gates. Keep in mind to measure the width of your doors or space you are using the gate for before ordering. Safety gate widths vary from product to product.

Cabinet Locks: Rhoost is a company that I just came across in the child safety product market. Aesthetically pleasing and affordable, these safety products are as much for MomMe as baby! They come in black or brown and Rhoost cabinet locks are fully adjustable from one to three inches. They are impossible for baby to remove, but easy enough for MomMe to pack up for a weekend trip to grandma’s house.

Door Locks: Our hallway is lined with closet doors and accordion doors. We used cabinet locks to secure our accordion doors and the Kidco doorknob lock for the closet doors. We also put one on the outside of our bathroom door. H-Man is just starting to crawl so this is a bit aggressive in the childproofing, but I figured we would get it all done now rather than in stages.

Corner Guards: I love Rhoost corner guards. No more sticky, toxic goop holding on foam pieces to the corners of my coffee tables. The Rhoost corner guards snap on to any corner to keep your little one’s noggin safe as he runs through the house. And, the best part is that they come in a variety of colors to match your furniture.  Aah, finally a corner guard that is aesthetically pleasing to our design oriented mamas out there!

Outlet Plugs: Lesson learned. Count your outlets before ordering (I had to place a second order)! The market is flooded with outlet covers. Most are very similar and all have the same objective – protect the little one from shoving his fingers in the outlet. We chose the Rhoost outlet covers for our house because they are BPA free.

TV and Furniture Straps: I saved the most important for last.  In the past month I’ve seen too many headlines about critically injured infants or toddlers because a flat screen television or bookshelf crashed on top of them. Furniture straps simply attach to the back of the item and then to the studs in the wall. Use a stud finder to center the item and then take out that power drill and attach.  I secured H-Man’s dresser, changing table and the bookshelves in our house using the KidCo anti-tip furniture straps. Our flat screen TV is secured using the KidCo anti tip TV safety strap. I can breathe easier knowing that if I turn around and H-Man starts climbing the walls he might fall, but he won’t be crushed by furniture. Please secure your television and furniture. This is such a simple task that can save your child’s life.

Other Tidbits: These are other childproofing items that I have stashed away for the day we need them: Mommy’s Helper toilet lock, spout covers (if you can resist the Skip Hop Moby bath spout cover, you’re stronger than I am), Safety 1st adjustable multi purpose strap and a Safety 1st oven lock.

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