Fruit & Yogurt Teething Pops (plus a bonus kitchen tip!)

It’s been a little while since I checked in, I’ve been working hard on some projects lately and had to take a break from something to make it all work. Even though everything in the works is a positive development I’ve still missed you all! So I’m popping in today with a new recipe – I hope you enjoy!

Fruit & Yogurt Teething Pops

PJ has been teething like a fiend lately, which has not been fun for any of us, to put it mildly. Teeth Are Not For Biting is now required bedtime reading. He finds it hilarious.

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I’m trying to keep cold things on hand, so I made up a batch of these babies today. Start with plain, low fat yogurt. Add a little coconut water to thin it, frozen fruit for flavor, and a teaspoon of extract to round it out.

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Then I blend it all up to the consistency of a smoothie and pour it into Popsicle molds. I have two sets now, one that is soft and squeezy and one traditional type with a stick. PJ prefers the squeeze kind because he can (mostly) feed himself with them.

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At this point, he realized what I was doing and insisted on a taste test – how pitiful is this face?!

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It’s probably a good idea that he did, because he let me know very quickly that I forgot to add a sweetener – oops! I use honey if I’m making these and not freezing them, or organic cane sugar if they’re going in the freezer like this batch. So after I added the sugar and poured them into the molds, I had the dreaded blender cleanup ahead of me, ugh!

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Bonus Kitchen Tip!

With all the blending I do for my morning shakes and these pops, I got really sick and tired of all that blender cleaning. Then I found this tip and it changed my life. I really wish I remembered which site I saw it on to give them credit, but it was months ago and I forget – sorry! If anyone knows, please tag them in a comment!

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After a quick rinse in hot water, I fill the blender about halfway with hot water, add a teaspoon of baking soda, and a squirt of dish soap. Then zhuzh it up like this…

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I don’t have to tell you to keep the lid on while zhuzhing right? Anyway, afterwards I dip out some of the foam to clean the lid and the counters, and when I dump it out I wipe out the sink too for good measure. It takes way longer to write all this out than it does to make, and Mommy and Daddy have been known to sneak a “teething pop” or two for a snack – they’re delicious!

Teething Pop Recipe

3/4 container of plain or vanilla yogurt
1 tsp flavored extract
1-1/2 cups frozen fruit
4 oz coconut water
Sweetener to taste (honey for smoothies, sugar if freezing)

Put everything in the blender and blend until smooth. Freeze for 2-3 hours.

10 Minute, Zero Guilt Dinner Recipe

Fridays have become our adventure days here in Neverland! Today I and my friend Marisia took our littles for their first visit to Chanticleer Gardens. Her 2 year old enjoyed the flowers and exploring the beautiful stone carvings, but PJ’s Diary entry would just read “Meh!”

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Too bad kiddo, this is one of Mommy’s top five favorite places in the Philly area and you’ll be spending a lot of time there! Although Marisia and I did decide that we need to make a sans enfants trip back there soon to drink in all that artistic inspiration.

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So after our trip to the gardens, I was wiped out but I really didn’t want to take the easy easy out and go out to dinner or order in since we indulged in our favorite Mexican restaurant the night before. And then I remembered that I had everything to make a fast, mostly veggie dinner. Score!

I pulled out my new Veggetti (handiest little thing!) and spiraled up some delicious squash.

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And then I pulled out my trusty bag of baby spinach, a chunk of Parmesan cheese, snipped some basil off the plant on my windowsill and tossed in a handful of walnuts. I threw everything in my food processor and pushed play.

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After the pesto was done,  I sautéed my veggie noodles in a splash of olive oil then tossed everything together.

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Voilà! Dinner on the table in less than 15 minutes! The pesto pairs well with regular pasta too – my husband doesn’t care for the veggie noodles too much, but he does like the pesto when I use it on pasta.

Here’s the recipe:

Veggetti and Spinach Pesto

Ingredients:

1 medium sized squash per person
Olive oil
2 cups spinach
About 10 basil leaves
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup walnuts

To make:

1 – Spiral cut the squash.  Sprinkle with salt to absorb the excess moisture and set aside.

2 – Combine spinach, basil,  cheese, and walnuts in good processor bowl. Stream in olive oil to desired consistency as processor runs.

3 – Sauté cut squash in olive oil for 5-7 minutes until just cooked through.

4 – Combine noodles with pesto and serve!

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And seriously, go spend an afternoon at Chanticleer. You won’t regret it!

How To: Make Awesome Pie Crust

Thanksgiving is coming early to Neverland! We’re hosting dinner on Sunday for some of my husband’s brothers and sisters, and I’m excited for what I hope will be the start of a new tradition.

I started prepping today with the crusts for our pies. After years of trial and error (ok, mostly error) I feel like I can finally say I have mastered the art of pie crust making. The recipe is amazingly simple, all you need is:

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup Crisco
5 tablespoons of water

The assembly is the tricky part, but I’ve got a few tips to help you out. Anything *surrounded by stars* is something that I’ve found makes a big difference.

1) Fill a *glass* measuring cup with more water than you need and *add at least 4 ice cubes*. Set aside.

2) *Sift* your 2 cups of flour into your mixing bowl. Add the teaspoon of salt and give a quick stir with your *pastry blender*.

3) Add your 3/4 of Crisco *in 1/4 cup increments* so you have three separate dollops (or ten smaller ones if you’re like me and can never get it all out in one scrape).

4) Use that *pastry blender* to cut the Crisco in until it’s evenly distributed through the bowl (it will be both mealy and lumpy. Go with it).

5) Add your ice cold water in 1 tablespoon at a time. *Don’t* try to spread each tablespoon around the bowl (like you would put olive oil in a pan), pour the whole tablespoon *in one spot.*

6) After each tablespoon, use a fork to *press the dough from the outer edge of the bowl to the center*.

7) The dough will still look very floury after 5 tablespoons, but *stop with the water anyway*. You can lightly shape it with your hands into two balls *one just slightly larger than the other if you are making a double crust pie* or evenly to make two single crust pies.

8) Roll the dough out *on a floured metal cookie sheet*. Start in the center and change direction every couple of rolls. The cookie sheet keeps your dough cold and lets you move the dough to get a better angle without having to scrape it up and risk breaking it first.

9) When you are done rolling, *use a butter knife to completely separate the dough from the cookie sheet before attempting to move it*. I do not care what those toothy little liars on the Food Network tell you, crusts don’t lift off nice and pretty just by loosening the edges. Again, this is where cookie sheet comes to the rescue because you can spin it to reach every spot.

10) For a 2-crust pie, the slightly smaller crust goes into the pan, and the larger one is the lid. For both, put the ugly side towards the inside of the pie (you’ll know what I mean when you scrape it loose).

11) Check if your recipe calls for a baked shell first, then fill and decorate! 

Happy baking, and Happy Thanksgiving from Neverland 🙂

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Freezer Meal: Breakfast Burritos

I work long shifts four days a week so that I can be home with baby PJ an extra day. It’s been working out great, but making it work does require some extra planning and adjusting. I’ve shared the menu planner that I use, and my basic technique for making and freezing casseroles. And as promised, I’ll share some of the recipes that work well for us.

For this one, you’ll need:
– 6 whole eggs
– 8-10 egg whites
– An 8 oz block of cheese
– Ham, sausage, bacon, or turkey
– Spinach or peppers
– Salt, pepper, and any other seasonings you like
– Package of flour tortillas

To make:

Brown any meat you are using and set aside. Scramble eggs, egg whites, and seasoning until soft set. Add the browned meat and any veggies and continue scrambling.

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Place one of the flour tortillas on a griddle pan over the lowest possible heat. Add slices of cheese:

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Then add the egg and meat mixture (or top with sliced meat):

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Then you roll it up like a burrito – which I did not take a picture of because mine are always functional but ugly haha.

Once the wrapped burritos are cooled down, wrap them in a layer of saran wrap, then a layer of freezer foil.

Paul and I take them straight from the freezer (unwrapped) to the microwave for two minutes. And I vary the meat and vegetables every time I make a batch.

Enjoy, and let me know what combos you come up with!