Practical Ways to Help New Parents…

Having had two kids, I can tell you that nothing is more helpful than having food to eat in the first few weeks after giving birth. Having a baby is stressful, especially if it’s your first. You can take all the classes in the world, do as much prep, but when it comes down to it, you spend the first few weeks tired, stressed, and weary.

Having a few extra hands and a hot meal you can eat one handed (especially something you can eat while breastfeeding) is worth it’s weight in gold!

Recently a friend and his wife welcomed their little girl. Hubs made up a batch of his new baby calzones. He makes them for everyone of our friends that is having a baby. They freeze well, re-heat quickly (and well), and you can eat them one handed.

Thanks to Kasandrinos Olive Oil and UsFamily Guide for the opportunity to sample this olive oil for free! I’m not usually a big Olive Oil fan, Kasandrinos Olive oil has a light flavor that works really well in Calzones! I also like that it has an easy to pour spout inside the bottle!

We use the Pizza Crust Recipe from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Anything. You can find the recipe here.  One Pizza Crust makes 4-6 small calzones.IMG_2064.jpg

As the dough rises, we prep the rest of the ingredients. Sauce, cheese, meats, veggies.

I use canned tomato sauce and add Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, a pinch of parmesan cheese, salt, and black pepper. No added sugar.

Some of the most popular ingredients around here: pepperoni, sausage, onions, bell peppers, ground cooked beef, sliced chicken breast, goat cheese, mozzarella, bbq sauce (instead of tomato sauce), cheddar cheese, ham, green chilis, meatballs (I usually make them little or slice them up), pretty much anything in the fridge!

Once the dough is ready, it is portioned out, rolled and then the magic happens!

For small/hand held sized calzones, use 1/2 cup cheese/toppings and 2-3 T. of sauce. Fold over and crimp the edges shut, and place on a cookie sheet that is either sprayed with Pan or use a silicon baking mat. I have these and I love them!

Larger Calzones need almost double the amounts above.

Bake at 450 for 10-20 minutes, depending on size.

Before and after baking!

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Here is the result of a few hours work. They were delivered the next day, ready to be frozen and enjoyed at the new mom and dad’s leisure!

If cooking isn’t your “thing” here are a few other ways to help the new parents in your life:

  • Bring them their favorite coffee drink, and something to eat.
  • Offer to hold/watch the baby while they take a shower/take a nap/have 5 minutes alone.
  • Fold/put away their laundry.
  • Wash their dishes.
  • Take out the trash, or if trash day is the next day, take their cans down to the street (then the next day, stealthily put them back).
  • Be there. Honestly, it can be lonely if you are a new parent. It’s not like you are taking your new baby all over town. You are just trying to get the hang of having a new family member. Sometimes it’s just nice to have someone to come hang out with!

Kasandrinos and Us Family guide provided us with a free bottle of olive oil in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own. I was not financially compensated.

Fun in Nature with Baby Wearing!

 

Recently, I was given the opportunity to try out a new baby carrier. I love baby wearing- It’s a great way to stay close to your little one while being active.

We hike, play, and have adventures all while babywearing. I am able to take Lil’ Man out on hikes to places that aren’t quite good for unsteady toddler feet. We can hike Cowles mountain, explore Old Mission Dam, and even pop out to the tide pools!

Screen Shot 2016-12-28 at 8.44.18 AM.pngYou can check out the carrier on Amazon here. 

It’s got a ton of pockets, which is great for stashing keys and snacks.

The kiddo rides pretty high because of a plastic saddle type insert.

Bitty Bird totally loved being up high and snuggled onto my shoulder and fell asleep.

You can also wear this as a backpack to back carry, which I love for long distance wearing, like when we go for hikes.

Pros:

  • It’s cotton, and machine washable.
  • It’s easy to put on and take off by yourself.
  • Tons of pockets

Cons:

  • Because it was made overseas, the waist strap is kinda small. If you wear over a size 20 US ladies dress size or a mens pant size 44, the waist band will not fit you.
  • (this may not be a con for some people) The child rides really high, so they are in your face.

If you like to try out this carrier, I am happy to offer a coupon code! 20% off coupon code UPWX8RBS.  This deal expires on 12/31/16.

 

Review of Grandbox!

A few weeks ago, I posted aboutGrandBox , a monthly subscription box.

GrandBox is the original monthly subscription box customized and curated specifically for seniors 65 and up. It’s the perfect gift to bring a smile to the older loved ones in your life.

Well, it was received by the kid’s paternal grandmother. And she liked it!

The box contained:

  • Holiday Wet-It
  • hand lotion,
  • d’anjou pear hard candy,
  • chocolate butter biscuit,
  • holiday patterned kleenex,
  • and a couple of candy canes!

And per my Mother in law, the TOPPER was the pics of the kids.

So if you are looking for a gift for the grandparent or other older relative in your life, check out Grandbox!

Family Recipe: Apple Crisp

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When I was a kid, my mom made apple crisp probably once a week, it’s a huge comfort food for me (and probably my brother too). It’s yummy, cheap to make, and very filling. And as far as desserts go, it’s not really too unhealthy.

This recipe makes a 9×13 inch pan. I use a pan like this one. It’s got a lid, so you can take it to potlucks or store any leftovers in the fridge. Halve the recipe to make smaller sized batch. Honestly, after having it, you won’t want to make a small batch.

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 green apples (about 3-4 cups), peeled, cored and chopped (green apples work best- Granny Smith’s are nice).
  • 1/2 stick of butter softened (don’t use oleo/spread- it makes the crumble topping watery)
  • 1/2 c. packed brown sugar (light or dark, whatever you got!)
  • 1T. cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice (whichever you prefer)
  • 1 c. quick cook oats (raw!) (if you have a gluten intolerance, you can use gluten free oats)
  • 1/4 c All purpose flour ( if you have a gluten intolerance, you can use nut meal- I like almond meal. Sometimes when I make this GF, I omit the oats and increase the amount of nut meal to 3/4 c)

Directions:

  1. In the bottom of a greased baking dish, pour the apples in a even layer.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients with a pastry blender (Or a fork, if you don’t have a pastry blender), until ingredients are all combined and crumbly.
  3. Pour crumbles over apples in an even layer.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees until apples are all soft and mushy, usually 30 -45 minutes. THe topping gets toasty and crispy as it bakes!
  5. Serve hot with whipped cream or ice cream. Also great cold, lukewarm, or any temp in between.

It’s so freaking good!

You can use fresh peaches, apricots, or berries instead of apples. They do need to be fresh and ripe (no frozen or canned fruit).

Review: Daniel Tigers Neighborhood – LIVE

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The Tiger Family!

Last Friday Lil’ Man and I had a great date night! We had dinner at Olive Garden and then sang and danced along with our friends, O, Daniel, Miss Elena, and Katerina Kittycat! Trolley is even in the show, helping our friends get all over town! Daniel Tiger LIVE was a fun night out.

It was a img_9923 img_9922great show! Lots of fun music, dancing, and audience interaction!

There were lots of kids from little tiny to Kindergarteners.

If you missed the show, they’ll be back real soon! And don’t forget that you can check out episodes of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood on your local PBS station, and the PBS kids app too.

Here is a video I shot with some of the fun!

Family Recipe: Chicken Tetrazzini

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My Dad made this for us a lot when my mom worked late. I love it because it’s got chicken, onions, cheese, and pasta in it.  Pretty much everything I like in life. AND when I was pregnant with Lil’ Man I had such horrible morning sickness round the clock, it was pretty much the only food I could eat. This is a great hot dish, perfect for a family dinner or make a bigger batch for a potluck. It’s a hit with kids and grown ups!

I try to make adaptations for many differing diets, but sadly, this recipe cannot be adapted for Vegans or be made gluten free (unless there is GF Cream of Mushroom soup I don’t know about).

Chicken Tetrazzini 

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 t. butter
  • 1-2 c cooked shredded or cubed chicken (I usually cook a batch of chicken breasts in the crock pot and then portion it up for later use)
  • 1 can Cream of Chicken and Mushroom soup (if you can’t find it, stick with Cream of Chicken)
  • I can of water
  • 1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
  • ½ cup cheese (you favorite kind- I like sharp cheddar!) You can use more cheese if you like.
  • 1 lb pasta, your choice

Directions

  1. Start a large pot of water on the stove and cook pasta as directed.
  2. While Pasta is cooking  In a saucepan, saute the onion in butter, until the onions are clear, about 10 minutes.
  3. To the onions, add chicken, soup, water, Italian seasoning. Cook until bubbly, stirring to combine ingredients.
  4. Add cheese and stir until smooth.
  5. Add pasta and stir to combine.
  6. If you want to make this a one pot dish,  add 1-2 cups steamed veggies, such as broccoli, peas, or asparagus.

Serves 4-6.

Options:

  • You can use the vegetarian “chicken” pieces in place of the chicken. You can also use leftover Turkey or rotisserie chicken!
  • You can also add 1 cup sliced mushrooms and/or 1/2 cup celery while you are sautéing the onion.
  • My dad likes the dish topped with butter bread crumbs or slivered almonds.
  • To make this dish a little richer, stir in 1/2 cup sour cream (the real stuff, no imitation sour cream) when you add the cooked pasta.

Healthy Frozen treats!

My kids love popsicles. If given the choice, they’d eat them all day. So I figured, why try to fight it? I’m turning into the skid and embracing their love of frozen food on a stick.

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-11-54-06-amRecently, I was sent this awesome Lebice Popsicle mold kit. Right now it’s on sale for about $8.00. Remember Amazon prices change frequently!

It makes 6 good sized frozen nummies, a stand to keep them upright while they freeze, a collapsible funnel, and a small brush to clean out all the nooks and crannies.

After I washed them, I pulled out the blender and whipped up strawberry banana breakfast popsicles (if they are going to demand popsicles in the morning, might as well make them healthy, right?). I keep over ripe bananas sliced in the freezer in ziploc bags for morning smoothies and protein shakes, as well as whatever berries are in season. I buy them on sale, and freeze them before they go bad. It’s a great way to keep fruit on hand!

Strawberry Banana Popsicles

Makes 6 popsicles

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups Vanilla Greek Yogurt (or use whatever you have onhand, it doesn’t have to be Greek)
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup frozen banana slices
  • 1/4 milk

Directions

  1. Set up molds in stand.
  2. Blend all of the ingredients together, until smooth.
  3. Pour mixutre into mold, leaving about a 1/2 inch at the top.
  4. Snap lids/sticks on, stash in freezer for 6-8 hours.
  5. Remove from stand and run molds under warm water to loosen. Pop popsicles out of molds, and enjoy!

I also like making instant pudding (adding in frozen bananas or raspberries) and pouring that into popsicle molds too. That is a sweet and satisfying dessert!

I like that the stick and drip tray are attached and I’m not finding mystery popsicle sticks all over the house. The entire set is very sturdy and  I know we’ll be using it for years to come.

Thanks to Lebice and Tomoson for providing the awesome popsicle mold! I received no financial compensation for this post, and all opinions are my own!