Chilly day, chili dinner

In the last 48 hours its snowed about a jillion feet at our house. Ok, maybe not a jillion but nearly 3 feet, and its safe to say our backyard, which is north facing, wont be seeing dry land until sometime in June.

One of my favorite meals for a chilly day is Chili. Easy to make, you could put it in the croc-pot, or cook it on the stove and have it ready in 30 min if needed. I do prefer to cook it for at least an hour when possible to let the flavors meld. Luckilly, today thats exactly the kind of thing I have time for. So while the fam is out basking in the snow, I get to cook and have a few minutes of quiet!?

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb ground turkey (beef works here, too but I prefer the leanness and flavor of turkey)
  • 2 cans beans (I almost always include kidney beans, and the other is whatever I have in the pantry)
  • 1 small can tomato sauce
  • 1 can corn
  • Chili spices (I have been using the brand in the photo because that’s what I have on hand, but there are lots of DIY recipes out there if you prefer)
  • 2 tbs. Olive oil
  • Garlic (to taste)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • Optional ingredients- diced tomato, green chili, etc.

{This time around I didnt have any onion in the house, so it was omitted. Theres lots of options with this recipe to gear this towards your families tastes, too. For example if you are a vegitarian group, omit the meat and add in tofu or sweet potato cubes. If you prefer more meat, double the ground turkey and use only 1 can of beans. }

Chili Directions:

  1. In med/large pot or dutch oven ( I use a medium size 4-5 L unless I’m making a double batch) add 1 tbs of olive oil and 1-2 tbs of chopped garlic. Saute for a few minutes, or until the smell makes you drool.
  2. Add thawed ground meat. Cook until browned. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add tomato sauce.
  4. Mix 2 cups of water with chili seasoning (about 2 tbs per cup of water) and add to pot. (If you need dinner to be ready sooner, add less water. If you intend to simmer the chili for 30-60 min, the excess water will cook out.)
  5. Drain corn and beans. (I use this handy dandy Pampered Chef can strainer….its a fav of mine.) Add to pot. Salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Stir everything together and cover. Turn heat to low. Simmer until ready to serve.

Hand in hand with Chili, a favorite of mine is Marie Calendar Corn Bread. I remember my mom always having this stuff in the pantry. Its soo easy to whip up, you only need to add water to the mix, and 30 min later you have fresh, fluffy corn bread. Load up a slice with butter and a mouthful of chili…ahhh heaven!

CORNBREAD:

  1. Prepare per instructions on the packaging.

This time I decided to try out the “double corn” recipe. I used 1/2 of the can of corn from the chili and added it to mix before pouring into the baking dish. Im not sure how the fam will reaact…ive got a few picky eaters in the house (ahem…hubbs) so I may end up responsible for the entire tray myself ūüėĀūü§£

Garnish your Chili with shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream, add fresh onion or green onions, or all of the above. Perfect chilly- weather, warm-belly meal that the entire family will eat. Win!

Home-made pet food made easy!

Have you heard wind of the newest pet food fad? Home-made, vegan, vegetarian, or raw food diets are all the rage these days…but for your PETS?! Who knew!

About 18 months ago I was introduced to the idea of home-made food for a few of our pets. Our Vet, who focuses on Holistic treatments whenever possible, has a formula for vegan (or mostly vegan) based pet food, with as few as 3 ingredients. Most of which you probably already have in your pantry or fridge.

Our 7 year old lab-mix was diagnosed with Lymphoma in January of 2019, giving us a big push into making home-made food for her to help keep her feeling her best while we treated her holistically alongside our Vet. Since we were going to be making food for her, we also supplemented our other pup (Mo) with the same diet to help keep his weight under control (more on that later).

Below is an example of a super easy recipe that we have used. This recipe follows the proportion formula our Vet recommends (and uses herself,too). You can find her Blog post on this formula here for more information and background. Here’s another post about Vegan Dog food, there’s some great additional info here as well! Of course, always talk with a Vet before changing your pets diet.

Easy peasy Home-Made Pet Food

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups (1 box) chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 cups dry old fashiond oats
  • 3 cans beans
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 2 large carrots, sliced

Cooking Directions:

  1. Pour stock into large pot, add chopped veggies. Cover and bring to a boil.
  2. Add 2 cups dry oats to the pot and stir. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Drain & rinse beans. Add to pot.
  4. Mix all ingredients together, store in air tight containers in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Total prep + cook time was about 20 minutes. And you don’t have to baby-sit it the entire time, so it’s easy to do while you’re throwing in a load of laundry, or prepping dinner for the family.

FUNNY FACT – When I made the first batch of this food, my Hubbs and both kiddos thought it looked delicious and ended up eating about 1/4 of the mix before I could get it packaged up and in the fridge for the dogs! Pretty silly, and entertaining when I told them it was actually DOG food they were raving about. They asked me to make that mix for us sometime for diner HAHA!

If you plan to feed your pet only home-made foods, consult with your Vet as you may need to add a supplement for additional minerals/vitamins etc. Since we use home-made as an addition to commercial food, we know our pets are getting all the nutrition they need. You don’t need much commercial food to get the needed value out of it, so we do a 50/50 ratio of home made/commercial food for our pets currently. When/if any of them are needing additional health support, we up that to 80 home-made/20 commercial.

Best part about this home-made formula is that it’s very wallet friendly. A box of chicken or veggie stock is under $2.00, cans of beans are under $1 each (I usually buy whichever is on sale – The Kruners we used were $0.88 each), many of us already have quick oats on hand in our pantry, and you can use any veggies you have in the fridge or freezer. Each batch of this costs me around $5. When I looked into The Farmer’s Dog – who delivers “farm fresh” meals for your pup to your door – it was going to cost an average of $40 a week for 1 meal a day for just 1 dog.

We also started both our cats on a home-made diet similar in ingredients to the one above, but I’ll do a separate post on that next time I have to whip up a batch of food for them! Until then, Happy cooking!

Mini/Grocery cramming

A few weeks ago my husband bought a Mini Cooper as his commuter car. ¬†He loves it and we are trying to really take advantage of the great gas mileage compared to our SUV’s, so we drive it almost everywhere. ¬†Although now that we’ve been used to having our larger cars, we’ve discovered the few hardships of having the Mini in comparison.

For instance, we have to load J through the rear hatch of the Mini because there just isn’t enough room to get the car seat loaded and buckled in from the front door. ¬†Luckily the hubs has long monkey arms so he can reach over the rear seat to get J buckled. ¬†Also, shopping of any kind is limited. ¬†The first weekend we got the Mini we went to Home Depot for a few things…and forgot we had the Mini, so the large piece of dry erase board we bought had to run the full length of the car and the front corner poked me in the side of the head the whole way home.

Well we still haven’t fully adjusted to the size difference yet. ¬†On Friday night we made our bi-weekly grocery run. ¬†Costco and Wal-Mart for 2 full weeks of food and a few other items.

My menu board for the next 2 weeks has the following items: (all mostly homemade dishes)

Chicken Noodle Casserole
Chicken Pot Pie
Soy Garlic Fish
Artichokes
Mac & Cheese
Nachos
Chicken Fingers
Meatballs

Our grocery list:

Costco-

Chicken
Ground Beef
diapers & wipes x 2 (one set was a baby shower gift)
orange juice (individuals)
Milk

Wal-mart-

jelly
fudge bars
baby yogurt
mommy yogurt
frozen peas x 3
burner buns
butter
avocados
marinade
egg noodles
mix frozen veggies
cream of chicken soup 2 cans
pie crust
tortilla chips
artichokes
fresh berries
carrots
cereal

plus the following household items:

toothbrush
face lotion/wash
shampoo
dry & wet cat food
sponges

We hit Costco first to get the large items out of the way…after we got those few (large) items loaded we weren’t sure we’d get all the rest of our groceries in the car with J and the two of us…But the Mini surprised us – it really is larger than it looks! Not too bad for around $260.00

grocery 1 grocery 2 grocery 3

 

Also had this cutie-pie moment ūüôā ¬†J’s starting to give love via hugs and “kisses”

cutie pie

 

If the stuffed dog hadn’t cost $17 he totally would have gotten it just by sheer cuteness and obvious attachment…sorry to whomever ended up with the slightly drooly pup.

Do what you’ve gotta do – Adventures in feeding

Most days J will eat anything – especially if an adult is eating it too. ¬†He’ll eat almost anything off of a “big person” fork or spoon. ¬†Funny how early on they realize that what you have is probably better than what they have.

Tonight he wasn’t having it though, did not want to sit in the highchair… at. all. ¬†Only got a few bites into him before he was relentlessly screaming and fighting to spin around in the chair. OK, we get it, this isn’t going to work tonight.

So get him cleaned up and out in the play room with me while the hubby finished scarfing down his own dinner. 

J has always been a mobile kiddo. ¬†From 6 weeks old he wanted to stand. ¬†No sit, not lay, STAND. ¬†So we learned very early on that if he’s standing, he’s probably happy. ¬†Hence the Adventures in feeding began! ¬†Multi-tasking is already a must if you are a parent, you just never quite realize to what extent!

So tonight was no exception, simply add feeding into the playtime equation and TA-DA!  Victory.  

His meal time went a like this:

Walk sideways back and forth in front of the bay window while babbling and slapping the seat as I sat on one side with a yogurt and skillfully finagled spoonfuls into his moving (but wide open) mouth each time he came my direction.  Hooray! One yogurt down the hatch successfully and without whining and yogurt flying about the room.

Then we moved onto the rolling walker and carrots. ¬†As daddy aimed him one direction or the other across the room, I had a spoonful of orange goop ready and waiting for J to “pay his toll” before he could continue on his path across the room. ¬†Woo! ¬†Carrots down!

In the midst I also managed to become the human napkin – as we all do at one time…or always – so there wasn’t any clean up even!

Another successful feeding time in the Adventures of Feeding, hurrah!

Baby Food made easy

When J was 4 1/2 months we started him on solid foods. ¬†I think I was supposed to wait till 5 months, but my Baby Bullet had been burning a whole in my cabinet for months already and I couldn’t wait to try it out. ¬†I started pretty basic – carrots, sweet potato, peas, pears. ¬†We tried peaches but they weren’t a favorite, and banana’s seemed to make him constipated.

I don’t really remember why I wanted to make my own baby food as opposed to store-bought. ¬†I had no problems with feeding him store-bought food, and we are not a family that focuses on purely organic or natural foods. ¬†Honestly I think it had more to do with saving money than specifically wanting him to only have pure foods. ¬†Besides, the store-bought baby foods seem to be much more “pure” than I once thought they were, most of them seem to be just veggie/fruit and water plus some citric acid. ¬†

I did the math and it was going to cost $0.50 to $1.00 for each package of store-bought food per meal. ¬†You figure 3-5 meals a day depending on the kiddo and how much you are still breastfeeding/formula plus an increase in intake as they get older….that’s $1.50 to $5.00 PER DAY…up to $150.00 per MONTH…which is way more than that per YEAR. ¬†Whoa…kind of made me queasy to think of how much money to feed one little mouth. ¬†BUT then I did the math for making all (or 90%) of my own baby food. ¬†HUGE huge huge difference.

I discovered that shopping the sales was also a big help, Costco had some fruits/veggies for cheaper too (For example – Costco has a large bag of 10+/- pears for $4.99. ¬†Kings and Safeway charge $.79 each on sale. ¬†You do have to cook them all at once though otherwise it’s hard to get through them before they go bad.) and Sprouts became my new weekly shopping stop for baby food supplies – they have the BEST prices on produce at all times (seriously, no joke.). ¬†

On average I would spend about $5.00-$7.00 for 7 to 10 days of baby food – that’s 3-4 meals a day.

Here’s an example of what I would get:

Image

1 bundle of Kale – steamed
1 butternut squash – roasted
1 sweet potato – boiled and chopped
3 pears – boiled and chopped
Some leftover peas
Blueberries
1 lb carrots – boiled and chopped
Oatmeal baby cereal

Total cost = $10.00 including the cereal

Plus these supplies –¬†

Image

I used my Baby bullet a lot in the beginning, but once the batches started to get larger, my blender worked just as well.

Also, the bullet cups are a good size, but they tend to crack when you have to warm them up straight from frozen.  I find that the small Ziploc containers work best  and they are a great size for cheap РI think you get 8 of them for around $2.00

This is what we ended up with:

Image

That’s 40 servings – pretty friggen awesome for $10.00 right!?

Plus J ate better than we did every day…although it does make it easier to eat better yourself when you have to have all those fresh veggies and fruits in your house on a regular basis!

We did experiment with mixing all different veggies and fruits to make some quite exotic looking creations – kale, blueberry, oatmeal sounded great and tasted fine, but looked like brown sludge…In the end we stuck with just one type of food per serving. ¬†J didn’t seem to mind the mixtures, but it does take more time to do and there’s something to be said about the texture and consistency of what you end up with…

Even though now J is eating most of what we eat now days, I still have 1-2 meals a day for him as straight blended fruit or veggie.

¬†Also, I’m not downplaying the convenience of store-bought and pre-packaged baby foods in any way. ¬†The simplicity of them makes life way easier at times. ¬†I have a good stock of the food pouches (Happy Family, Mom to Mom, etc.) in my cabinet at all times for when I’m not otherwise prepared, or when we are out of the house. ¬†They are a lifesaver.

Happy baby-fooding ūüôā

Beginnings

I’m the (fairly) new mom of a 10 month old little boy. ¬†I don’t claim to be an expert on anything. ¬†More so, I have big dreams and not enough time in the day. ¬†I am a Pinterest addict (who isn’t?!) and am quite crafty when I have the time. ¬†I like to learn about and try new things that have to do with my family – although I don’t consider myself to be a “fad” follower per say. Product reviews, meals, new mama missteps, crafts & organization ideas, and anecdotes about my own experiences are some of the things you’ll see here.

My goal with this new blog is to share stories and thoughts about things that most other Mama’s may find interesting, new, familiar, relate-able, or just amusing.

As many of my friends are also starting families, I find it comforting to be able to share in my experiences with them and to hear their experiences as well. ¬†There’s something about power in numbers and knowing that not everyone does everything the same that makes getting through the challenges of being a new Mama less. ¬†I hope that it does the same for you as well ūüôā