Friday, October 24, 2014

Family Time Friday

Welcome to a new series I'm calling "Family Time Friday." Each week, I'll focus on what it means to be a family. It might be a recipe, it might be a family activity, it might be a thought about motherhood or marriage. If you write on similar topics, I'd love to hear from you in the comments - or feature you as a guest writer! Email me for more information.

In the last couple of years, my husband and I have been trying to become more intentional about establishing family rituals and traditions. One of my favorites is "Pizza and a Movie Night." Every Friday night, we watch a feature-length movie, enjoy our favorite Against The Grain Pizza (it's gluten-free and delicious) and a big kitchen sink salad together. The kids stay up a little late ("late" for them is 7:30 pm …. ahhh, the little years!) and we all love relaxing at the end of a long week.

We tend to watch quite a few Disney movies! Our favorites right now are:


Planes (and we can't wait until Planes: Fire and Rescue comes out on DVD!)

And (the only non-Disney movie to make the list…) How to Train Your Dragon

If you have any end-of-the-week family traditions, please share in the comments! I'd love to hear what other families do to wind down before a weekend! 

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Kitchen Sink Salads

Every week or so, my family ends up with a bunch of random veggies left the in fridge. Half a pepper and a quarter of an avocado after turkey chili …. a couple of carrots left over from root fries …. and on and on. Never enough to make a full meal, but always enough to cause a twinge of discomfort when I have to throw out what adds up to a bunch of wasted produce at the end of the week! What a waste of money!

A couple of months ago, I got so sick of wasting all that great produce, that I just said "to heck with it!" and started throwing it all in a salad.

And … the "kitchen sink salad" was born!

Why the name? My 5-year-old came up with it - because I throw in everything but the kitchen sink :)

As the name and description imply, this is a really easy one to make: 
- Start with a green base, even if you just have a bit of spinach or some lettuce leftover from a salad another night. 
- Add a protein of some kind. Sometimes, I'll add leftover chicken. In the case of the salad above, I added roasted pumpkin seeds. You can also try cooked beans or canned wild-caught salmon. 
- Next, chop up whatever leftover veggies you have - both raw and cooked are fine. If you have a combo of both, it adds interesting tastes and flavors. 
- Finally, add a fat. Avocado is a great option, or some cheese, in moderation. 

I've found that the best dressing to use on these mixed salads is a combo of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The salad pictured used about 3 Tbsp of olive oil and a couple of teaspoons of vinegar, but you can experiment to find what works best for your family. 

To modify this recipe for babies and toddlers, try the following: 
- For the littlest baby eaters: mash up some avocado and serve. 
- For older babies (who've been on solids for a while) and toddlers: chop an assortment of veggies into small, pea-sized pieces and let them choose what they like. 


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Monday, October 13, 2014

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

It's that time of year again - the leaves are turning, the temperature is dropping and slow cookers are making their way out of closet storage :)

I'm always thinking about new ways to use my slow cooker (or "crock pot" for those of you who grew up with me in the Midwest). I've used several brands, but my Hamilton Beach Set 'n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker, the one I currently own and use, is my favorite so far. It heats very consistently and and the temperature probe makes it really easy to check my meals, without lifting the lid and letting heat escape.

The problem, though, with slow cooker cooking and babies, is that it's often difficult to incorporate foods that can be mashed for babies. However, this recipe solves that problem! It can easily be modified for babies, toddlers and adults!

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

1 lb Ground Turkey
2 cans of diced tomatoes
1 can of tomato paste
2 cups of chicken broth
4-6 diced carrots
1 cup of frozen corn
1 yellow onion, chopped

Chili toppings (all optional):
Chopped fresh cilantro
Diced avocado
Shredded cheese

Place all ingredients in slow cooker, stir a bit to loosen ground turkey and cook on HIGH for approximately 4 hours.

Serving ideas:
- For new eaters (babies just starting solids), strain out carrot pieces, rinse with cold water (to cool them) and mash before serving. Or, mash avocados and serve.
- For older babies and toddlers, strain the chili of liquid and let your kiddos pick out what they like.
- For moms, dads and other adults, serve with desired toppings.

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