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Toddler Smoothie

28 Apr

My poor pumpkin got a high fever on Friday. Last time Hadassah got a high fever (of 105.1 degrees) we had to be admitted to the hospital. When Hadassah’s fever read 103.2 I started getting nervous.

Hadassah is such a picky eater and with being sick, I knew she needed to stay hydrated. I prepared her a smoothie before going to bed and she downed the whole thing, so it made me feel better knowing she was cooling off and getting hydration and nutrition!

Several months ago I discovered Hadassah loves smoothies! I throw smoothies together frequently and change up the ingredients, but I thought I would post the most nutritionally packed recipe and it is still really yummy. I am able to get Hadassah to eat more fruits and veggies in one smoothie than I am able to raw in a year.

Toddler Smoothie

1/2 stalk of celery
2-3 peeled carrots (optional; use these with care and caution, and a really good blender! The smoothie might be a little chewable if you use them, but still good)
A GIANT fistful of baby spinach
2 strawberries (frozen makes it really good!)
1/4 – 1/2 of a very ripe banana
1/4 of red plum
2 cups of whole milk

Throw all ingredients in a blender. Blend on the smoothie setting until you can hear that all chunks of food are blended. Serve in a straw sippy cup!

I usually end up making a smoothie for myself because my mouth starts watering after I “taste test” Hadassah’s smoothie.

My most basic smoothie recipe just includes the banana, strawberry and spinach, because we almost always have banana and strawberries in our house. I have even thrown in cooked zucchini to a smoothie, but I’ve never thrown raw zucchini in so I cannot vouch for if it is good.

Here are my recipe tips:
Leave out blueberries… The skins are kind of weird (for Hadassah anyway) and the flavor is really strong

Don’t use blackberries, ever. The seeds are not pleasant to chew on.

I once made a smoothie in a food processor with spinach, banana, and pineapple. I’m not sure what the problem was (the ingredients or the appliance), but it tasted like vomit.

Enjoy making your own variations!

A pregnant girl’s/new mom’s goodie bag

12 Apr

My dear cousin is in her 3rd trimester of her first pregnancy. She had her shower 1,000 miles away the other weekend. Since we got snowed in on our travel date, which was also the date of the shower, I was able to join the shower via FaceTime (yay technology!). I saw her a week later just for a few hours, which was enough time to give her her shower presents.

Besides registry items, I put together a little goodie bag with random but important items.

Soothies Gel Pads Provide Relief!

Soothies Gel Pads Provide Relief!

  • Nursing/breast pads – I included 3 different brands of breast pads. I never used them with Hadassah and only used them for about 2 months with Emmanuel, and I soon discovered I had a preference. I wanted my cousin to be able to try different brands without buying a ton, especially if she is like me and doesn’t leak much.
  • Recipes for Labor Cookies and Lactation Cookies – when you are 9 months pregnant, it’s fun to occupy your time with crazy labor-inducing ideas to make yourself feel useful. Also, you might as well eat some purposeful cookies guilt-free while you can. Lactation cookies are yummy and every new mom is going to worry about having enough milk. Sometimes it feels good to DO something.
  • A packet of (dry) ingredients for above Lactation Cookies – I have more brewers yeast than I know what to do with. I decided to put together ingredients for a recipe of cookies so she doesn’t have to go find whacky ingredients right after having a baby.
  • Licorice Root Tea – to be taken at the end of pregnancy only, for inducing labor. Not to be taken while breast feeding.
  • Raspberry Leaf Tea – tones the uterus and helps prepare for labor.
  • A glob of nipple butter by Earth Mama Angel Baby – this stuff is more than necessary for the first days/weeks of breast
Nipple butter - much better than nipple creams!

Nipple butter – much better than nipple creams!

feeding and is much better than the lanolin provided by the hospital. I have a jar (2 or 4oz) and it is a copious amount. I’m sure it will last me for all my kids.

  • Soothies Cool Gel Pads – these are for the breasts and were a lifesaver when I had Hadassah!!! They are quite expensive so I didn’t actually give her the gel pads, I gave her the box. I decided to do this not because I am cheap, but because you can get them during the hospital stay.
  • Emergency condom – After over a year of not having to worry about birth control, it is hard to believe you will have to start thinking about it again, but you do!  And you don’t want to be stuck without one of those.
  • A pregnancy test – You just got done being pregnant and pregnancy tests are the furthest thing from your mind, but you will probably need one again some day. This is for that inevitable moment where you think you might be pregnant (but most likely are not) and dread going out to the store. It’s hard getting out with a newborn!

Those are some of the things I included. I feel like I am forgetting something. Some other ideas that I did not include are below:

  • A gift card to a restaurant that has food delivery, for right after having the baby.
  • An eye mask and ear plugs – so she can sleep (yeah right) while daddy gets up with the baby.
  • A few placenta pills (just kidding).

My Picky Eater, or Something Else?

19 Mar

I just sat down to eat my comida, or large mid-day meal.  I made some pasta with white sauce and chicken.  It is soooooo good, and it is SO easy to make.  I used this basic recipe for the base, but tweaked it a little bit.  I doubled the recipe for the thicker sauce recipe.  Then I decided it was too thick, so I added another cup (or two? I didn’t measure) or milk.  I also sautéed 4 giant garlic cloves in with the butter.  In a small frying pan I dumped in a bit of oil and threw in bite sized chicken pieces from one chicken breast.  I also salted and heavily peppered the chicken.  Once it was cooked, I threw it in with the white sauce.  I also cooked some veggie based pasta and then mixed the sauce with the pasta.  I think it took me more time to type this than to make my comida.

So, besides the fact that I like my food and it was easy to make, I am anticipating that Hadassah will love this too, and maybe actually eat like three whole pieces of pasta!  That would be a lot of food for her.  Last month or so I was really stressing about feeding Hadassah, because she is SO picky.  She really isn’t a good eater.  I blame a lot of her preferences on myself, as I was very paranoid about choking for a long time, and also excessively delayed solid food with her.  Oh well.  You live and you learn.  But, in the past week or so, I’ve been making her smoothies, and last month I started her on vitamins.  I will write a post tomorrow or in a few days with the recipe for a great toddler smoothie, since I’ve mentioned it to a few friends with toddlers and they all seemed pretty interested in it.  I think because I put in spinach… a TON of spinach!  Anyway, I kind of feel like I can breathe more easily since I don’t have to stress about her nutrition as much since she is getting lots of spinach in her smoothie and other vitamins in her gummy vitamin.

We are actually going to have a consultation with an occupational therapist on Thursday, which I am looking forward to.

I never would have thought to meet with an OT, but I had been talking to Hadassah’s physical therapist about how she isn’t good with a sippy cup, and that set things in motion.  Yesterday the OT called and we set up an appointment and chatted for a few minutes.  I never really thought Hadassah had a developmental problem that would require therapy, but after talking with the therapist, I am really eager to see what she says.  She mentioned how she is suspecting that Hadassah might have some jaw problems, which makes her seem to be a picky eater because eating is hard (and also makes sense why she loves her “moothies” so much).  Additionally, even though she has pretty good fine motor skills, she just hasn’t been getting how to use a fork, spoon, or and as mentioned above, a sippy cup.  We will see if she is just a normal picky eater, or if there is a strategy we can use to coax along some better eating skills!

 

Homemade whip cream

23 Feb

I feel like I have had PMS for a month straight. It is really annoying. I have the munchies like crazy and I am not satisfied by anything I consume. This is not good for the waistline, and I’m stuck at looking 5 months pregnant (Emmanuel is soooo fat. Shouldn’t that signify that he is sucking the fat off me?). Ugh.

Tonight I had an antojo – roughly translated into English as a craving. I remembered I bought 2 canisters of strawberries on sale a few days ago, which means they needed to be eaten or consumed pretty much by today.

I was planning on cutting them up and freezing them tonight, but my antojo for something (I never can really pinpoint for what) was creeping up. Suddenly strawberries with shortcake and whip cream sounded really good. Only problem was I was missing everything except the strawberries. However, I remembered I actually had some whipping cream in my fridge and realized I could make my own whip cream! So I did. And it was delicious. I used a cup of cream, 3 tablespoons of sugar, and a teaspoon of vanilla. Unfortunately, I realized my electric mixer sounded like it was going to either

A. Explode
B. dangerously eject the beaters and mutilate a part of my body
C. Catch on fire

I mean, I made it through the 5 minute whipping session, but the real tragedy was when only 1 can of strawberries and all the whip cream were gone and I wanted more (Hold your horses. I didn’t eat it all. Fernando ate half).

I didn’t want to take the chance of using the dangerous mixer again. My antojo was surprisingly satisfied. But I couldn’t stop thinking about my whip cream. And I really needed to use up those strawberries…so I did something stupid.

I settled.

I got some hot fudge put from the fridge and had hot fudge and strawberries. It sounded like a good, restaurant worthy idea, but it was disappointing after my phenomenal cream.

Note to self, I need to stick to this formula:

Bananas + hot fudge

Or

Strawberries + whip cream

= culinary happiness.

Do not deviate.

Recipe – Fresh Guacamole

8 Aug

I am on some sort of cooking/recipe kick!  I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I have had more time to cook things and have wanted to make something that I always made in Mexico and have realized that my memory isn’t quite as good as I thought it would be.

The other day I suddenly arrived to that extreme point of hunger that hypoglycemics get to when they don’t eat the way they should.  I don’t even think hunger is a good way to describe it, especially to people who do not have hypoglycemia.  If I were hungry, I wouldn’t get so distracted and I would eat.  No, this is not quite hunger.  It is an extreme chemical imbalance in my body that can hit very suddenly.  I can’t quite think straight, I usually feel like I am going to pass out, and I start stumbling around the kitchen groping the counters and bent at a 90 degree angle clumsily looking for the best sort of chemical (food) to fix my malady.  I think my hypoglycemia is more extreme when I am pregnant too.

Anyway, this isn’t a post about hypoglycemia.  This is a post about how in my stupor I was trying to figure out (and remember my head feels like it is in a cloud) what to eat.  I saw that I had bought 2 wonderful avocados for two different recipes for the week.  I had the bright idea to make guacamole.  Somehow I started thinking, “if I use this, I will have to go to the store tonight to get more avocados for my recipes” and then I realized it didn’t matter, and I could go to the store for avocados to replace my recipe avocados, PLUS get extras to make MORE guacamole later!

In the process of making my fresh guacamole, with the ingredients ready to go. I only regret I did not have a fresh lime!

I sorely miss Mexico in respect to food, cooking, and shopping.  My old habit of frequently making guacamole is no exception.  I could literally just go grab a free avocado off the trees at my school and grab some fresh limes off of my own tree outside my house and make this delicious dish for next to nothing.  When I went to the store, each avocado was $1.59.  Sure, I guess if that is all you eat for lunch it comes out to be a mostly cheap meal, but compare that to what I was paying in Mexico: close to nothing.

You might be thinking, “why make guacamole when I can buy this stuff in a package at the supermarket?” or “I’ve used those seasoning packets and mixed them with avocados and it turned out great.”  Well, it turns out “great” to the unknowing pallet.  The prepackaged stuff is pretty stale tasting, and the seasoning packets you can buy to add to an avocado probably have a ton of unpronouncable chemicals.  Bleh.  If you want pure, heavenly freshness, try a variation of my recipe below.

Guacamole Recipe

Ingredients:

1 Avocado
1 Key Lime
1 Roma Tomato
Your choice of fresh tasting, authentic salsa (with a limited amout of ingredients!)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

Cut the avocado in half.  Scoop out of the skin with a spoon.  Mash using two forks.  Dice then add the tomato.  Squeeze the juice of the lime in to the soon-to-be guacamole.  I use a handy dandy exprimiador, which is a lime press.  For this recipe, I actually didn’t have any fresh limes, so I used the bottled lime juice.  Please avoid doing this!  Add about 1/2 cup of salsa.  Sprinkle with salt (I think I used maybe 1/2 teaspoon?) and a tad of pepper.

Test your guacamole.  If it seems to be lacking a bit of flavor, you might need another few shakes of salt, another tablespoon of salsa, or an extra squeeze of lime!  You will figure it out!

Here is an awesome INSIDER tip!  If you make the guacamole for a party or for later, it might turn kind of yucky brown.  To avoid this, SAVE THE PIT and stick it inside the guacamole till it is time to serve it.  Also, cover it tightly with plastic wrap.  This also works if you (for some crazy reason) only want to use 1/2 an avocado and you want to save the other half for later… the “other half” will get brown unless you leave the pit in it (and place in a ziplock bag).  Great authentic secret!

As I would say in Mexico, or just anytime speaking Spanish, disfrútalo! or enjoy it!

A chocoflan adventure

30 Jul

Chocoflan – My favorite Mexican dessert!

Tonight we are bringing food to our small group at church.  We usually prefer to bring authentic Mexican dishes.  Not only is it fun and delicious, Mexican food is usually gluten free.   Our small group dinners try to be mostly gluten free.  Because of this, dessert is always tricky for me.  Ice cream is a very safe dessert to bring, but how many different ways can you serve ice cream?  I once bought a gluten free cake mix, and it was disgusting.  I will never do that again!  Anyway, since I like to coordinate and match themes, if we are bringing a Mexican dish, I would prefer to bring a Mexican dessert.  I will be quite honest with you:  I am not a big fan of half of Mexican desserts.  There is flan, jericalla, pastel de tres leches, fried ice cream, and chocoflan.  Maybe there are some other ones, but this is all I can think of off the top of my head.  We already know I exhaust ice cream, so we won’t be bringing that.  I flat out don’t like jericalla, and flan only a little bit.  Tres Leches cake isn’t gluten free.  So, that leaves chocoflan as a really great option.  No, the choco part of the dessert is NOT gluten free, but that is the beauty of it.  Chocoflan is amazingly delicious (and I am not a flan fan, remember), and for those that need to eat gluten free, they can just eat the top part, without me making an entirely different dessert.  Beautiful.
I’ve made chocoflan twice before last night.  The first time was in Mexico.  All I remember is that it turned out well.  The second time was probably a year ago.  I just remember the recipe was wonderful, and it turned out looking like a masterpiece.  When I decided to make Chocoflan again, I was kicking myself for not writing down the recipe somewhere (or maybe it IS written down somewhere, but I just don’t remember where?).  So, I browsed some recipes and decided to use this one I found on the internet for inspiration.  Chocoflan is a difficult, tricky, but at the same time easy dessert to make.  I remember it being complicated the last two times, but it always turned out well.  It was complicated this time as well, but I actually had some bumpies in the road that didn’t happen last time.  I hope to avoid those by including extra tips below.

Receta para Chocoflan / Chocoflan Recipe

Here are your ingredients: (and like everything Mexican, this recipe is going to be a lot of “a dash of this” and “a dash of that” so that way you can be a true chef!

Ingredients for Chocoflan

1 box of chocolate cake mix + the ingredients used to make the cake mix (usually water, oil, and eggs)
Butter and/or cooking spray
Carmel sauce, or genuine Mexican “caramel” called Cajeta, or Dulce de Leche
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 can of evaporated milk
4 eggs
8 oz of Neufchâtel cheese, or cream cheese (I used the Neufchâtel), softened
Vanilla extract

Special supplies!:

Mixing bowl
Blender
Several small cake pans (I used 1 9×9 pan plus 3 small loaf pans – use what you have!)
2 9×13 pans
STEPS:

1. Prepare cake mix as indicated by the box. (That’s easy!)

These are the pans I used

2. Grease thoroughly the pans you plan on using for the chocoflan.  The important thing here is that when you cook the chocoflan, you have to place them in a hot water bath in the oven.  You COULD cook this in a 9×13 pan if you have an even BIGGER pan laying around your house.  However, even so, this is going to be a very TALL dessert, and MIGHT spill over in a regular 9×13 cake.  So, I just “estimated” what recipients I had that would end up equaling a 9×13 pan.  Plus, there is another reason why smaller is better… you will find out below.  SO – I would have used my square pan (I think it is 9×9, but it might be 8×8) plus my rectangular glass pan (I call it my mini-9×13), but the rectangular pan has frozen lasagna in it in my freezer.  I was quite stumped, but decided to use my 3 small loaf pans!  If I didn’t have THOSE, I would have made cupcakes!

So basically in my head I am thinking half of everything goes in to the square glass pan, and the other half gets divided equally among the 3 loaf pans.

 

 

 

 

Step 3: Caramel sauce coating the bottom of the pans

3. Immediately coat the bottom of the pans with caramel sauce.  How much did I use?  I don’t know.  I just made sure there was a nice layer covering the whole bottom.  Also, I say immediately, because when I was assembling the cake later I had forgotten to put the caramel sauce in and had to put everything back and wash my pan… it was annoying.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 4 – put chocolate cake mix equally in all pans

4. Put the chocolate cake mix in the greased/carameled pans.  Divide as equally as possible.  For guidance, my mini loaf pans I filled half way, and I put everything else in the 9×9 pan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 5: Mixing ingredients in blender (chocolate cake mix from step 1 is on the right)

 

 

5. Place condensed milk, evaporated milk, eggs, Neufchâtel cheese, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract in a blender and blend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 6: Flan concoction goes on top of the chocolate cake mix

 

 

6. Pour the contents of the blender on top of the chocolate cake mix, as evenly on all parts as you can.  This part is scary!  Here is a tip, if your blender has been sitting for a few minutes, give it a little mix before you pour it on top of everything to make sure there hasn’t been an uneven separation of ingredients.  As you can see, it looks kind of swirly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 7: Pans go in a larger pan to make a hot water bath

 

 

 

 

7. Fill up your pans up with water that you will be using to make the hot water bath.  I filled them up about half way.

8. Bake at 350 degrees Farenheit.  For the small loaf pans, 1 hour was maybe JUST a tad much.  Possibly adjust to 55 minutes.  For the square pan, 1 hour was BAD.  Cook larger pans for longer!  I think 1 hour and 20 minutes for a 9×9 would be good.

9. Remove from the oven and from the hot water bath with cooking time is finished.  INVERT your cakes while hot on a nice serving dish.  This is NOT a dessert that you can serve straight from the pan you cooked it in.  Also, when you pull your pans out of the oven, you will notice that you CANNOT see the flan part anymore, and that you only see the chocolate cake mixture.  This is GOOD.  The flan sinks to the bottom.  Therefore, when you invert your pan, the flan will be on the top, where it should be.

 
10. Drizzle the top with caramel, present to ooing and ahhing guests, and enjoy one of the most delicious desserts EVER!

Recipe for Agua de Horchata

23 Jun

Today is Hadassah’s birthday party!  There are still 3 more hours till the party begins, and besides bringing out the food and placing it on the table, the only thing I really have left to do is cut the watermelon and make limonada.  I just finished making Horchata – it has been probably 3 years since I have made it, and since I didn’t use a written recipe before, I could not remember how exactly to make it.  Sure, I could look on the internet and find recipes, but I am really picky about my Horchata.  Horchata is either delicious or yucky and gives you a headache. 

One thing is for sure, I definitely appreciate the way Mexicans cook.  I learned a lot about cooking without recipes when I lived there.  I would taste something delicious at a luncheon and ask for the recipe, and the kind matriarch would respond with something like, “just throw some tomatoes in with oregano and chiles.”  That is maybe going a bit extreme, but the point is, I would just keep asking for similar recipes from different women and finally venture to recreate the dish.  And the best part of Mexican cooking is, after being in that culture for several years, I developed my own salsas, drinks, and other recipes.  My only problem is that I can’t always remember what I did. 

But I did just mix up my Horchata, and I think it will be perfectly delicious.  I am only waiting to add a little bit of milk, ice and water, which I will add a little bit before party time.  This is a traditional Mexican recipe in that it is a “little bit of this” and “a little bit of that.”  I hope there is enough uncertainty in the recipe where you can make it your own!

Agua de Horchata

Ingredients:

White rice
Water
Milk
Whole and ground cinnamon
Vanilla extract
Sweetened condensed milk
Evaporated milk

This is what I did: (unofficial instructions)

  1. Soak rice in water overnight.  You are going to use A LOT of water in this recipe, so it doesn’t matter how much water you use here.  Just make sure the rice is well-covered.
  2. In the morning, boil some water and place some cinnamon sticks in the water to “brew.”
  3. Place the rice/water mixture in a blender.  Add some vanilla extract.  Sprinkle in some ground cinnamon, but not too much!
  4. Blend the mixture (I used the Puree setting), then strain the mixture into a vat or a big pot (I don’t think I have a pitcher big enough to make this, but you are welcome to try a pitcher).
  5. Place the solids (which are left in the colander) back in to the blender.
  6. Place the water from the soaking cinnamon in the blender.  Throw the cinnamon sticks in to your vat.  Add a can of evaporated milk and a can of condensed milk to the blender.  Blend (I used Puree setting and then Aerate setting).
  7. Strain the mixture in to the vat again.  Discard solids.  Add a few cups of milk, lots of water and ice to taste.
  8. Drink your Horchata!