Saturday, February 2, 2013

Healthy Pumpkin Pancakes

I love this recipe for pumpkin pancakes.  They have lots of whole grain, pumpkin, and raisins to add fiber to the little one's diet.  She will even eat them plain, though she generally requests syrup.  For syrup, I like to simmer some maple syrup, water, and frozen blueberries to make a slightly lower sugar syrup.  These are also delicious with plain maple syrup or just with whipped cream.
1) Whisk 1 cup all purpose flour, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup oat bran (I find it in the bulk section at Whole Foods), 2 T brown sugar, 1 T sugar, 2 t baking powder, 1 t baking soda, and 1/2 t salt until thoroughly combined.

2) Combine a 32 oz can of pumpkin puree, 1 t cinnamon, 1/2 t ginger, 1/2 t allspice, 1 egg, 1 1/2 cups milk, 1 T canola oil, 1 T applesauce, and the juice and zest of one lemon.

3)  Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients and stir until combined.  Add raisins if you like.

Meal Plan for the week of 2/2/13

I am borrowing a friends cookbook, Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker, this week so all of my meals are from it.  I love the variety of recipes in the book, so I have already decided to purchase it.

Saturday: Pork roast with apples and sweet potatoes (never got around to making this on Thursday)

Sunday:  Leftovers

Monday:  Moroccan Chicken Thighs from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker

Tuesday:  Leftovers

Wednesday:  Slow cooker turkey meatloaf (using a ground beef meatloaf recipe in Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker)

Thursday:  Leftovers

Friday:  Carrot Soup from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker and boule bread from Artisan Bread
*See this post for more info on the cookbooks I use.

Friday, February 1, 2013

100 Reasons to Love Urban Family Living: #1 The Science Center

Days like today remind me why I love city living.  When it's super cold out, instead of going to our visit the duck pond and playgrounds and fountain at our huge, just blocks away Patterson Park, places like the Maryland Science Center become our playground.  A trip to the Science Center is no big deal when you live downtown, so museum visits become the rule rather than the exception.
And on the way home, through the Harbor Tunnel and then via Keith Avenue to Clinton Street, we get to see the big boats and the sun setting behind Ft. McHenry!  What could be better for a 2 1/2 year old?

Disclaimer:  This post is neither intended to spark suburbs vs. city debate nor offend suburb dwellers.  Rather, it is my way of enjoying the moment and reminding myself of what makes my current situation so terrific!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Soaps & Bon Bons

Here's a little secret stay at home moms do not want you to know: our days are indeed full of bon bons and soaps!

This afternoon, shortly after putting Shelby down for her nap, I responded to her calls of, “Mommy, I'm stuck!” to find her indeed stuck between the easy chair and her dresser. When I entered her room, I quickly realized my afternoon was taking a turn for the worse when I stepped in poop. It's never a good sign when you step in poop in a toddler's room. A quick glance around the room told me all I needed to know: to the right of my foot was the diaper, and all over the carpet were little brown footprints. As I rescued Shelby she proudly exclaimed, “Mommy, I took off my diaper and put on a pull-up.” Yes, you did, Shelby. Yes, you did.

And now for the first round of soaps. The poor girl had poop on both hands and one foot. I quickly put Shelby in the tub and soaped her off.

Soaps round two: after hosing Shelby down, I went down into the basement to get the big carpet shampooer from our days as dog owners. Glad Dave convinced me to hang on to that thing. Of course, this is when Matilda woke up, so I tucked her into the Ergo and got to shampooing carpets...all while Matilda nursed in the Ergo. I was supermom. Meanwhile, I had told Shelby to just hang out by her naked self in the bathroom (which is connected to her room so I could see/hear her all the while).

While I cleaned floors and nursed, Shelby shouted updates of her going-ons: “Mommy, I am peeing on the potty! Mommy, I am wiping myself!” Good things, right? Well, when I finally finished the carpets (after only 33 minutes of soaping), I went into the bathroom and discovered about half a roll of toilet paper in the toilet and Shelby proudly holding one more sheet in her hand and saying, “Mommy, this sheet is for you when you go potty.”

After unclogging that toilet, I decided to sit down and rock fussy little Matilda. Meanwhile, Shelby was running back and forth across our house. And then I hear the telling “Oh no!” coming from the bathroom. “Mommy, I pee-peed on the floor!” More soaps... after all this, I was definitely ready for some bon bons! All I could dig up were some Hershey Kisses, but close enough, right?

Bon bons and soaps. There you have it.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My Favorite Slow Cooker Recipes

I'm not sure how moms of two survive without crockpots.  Before Matilda, I could get a dinner together most days, but since Matilda was born I use my slow cooker at least twice a week.  These are a few of my favorite slow cooker recipes:

Organized Play

We've been spending more time at home, especially in the mornings, since Matilda was born, and I find that Shelby can get bored...and boredom leads to mischief and messes.  Using a toddler trays system for offering her a variety of activities has really helped with this.  Here's the idea:
Each tray has a different variety of activities.  The purple tray has a patterning activity, a few noodles that can they be sorted by color using the tweezers, and then the noodles can be made into a patterned necklace.  The blue tray has stamps that spell "Shelby" and are for finishing her Christmas thank you cards.  The green tray has Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and a big white "J" with "J" stickers and stamps for decorating. The blue tray has a xylophone for practicing lowest to highest notes.  Underneath it are different sizes of different colored paper to first sort by size and then sort by color.  There is a numbers tray in the background to rotate in after she finishes one tray.  The numbers tray has a puzzle, a book, and a counting/graphing activity she can do with a stamp marker.  She may choose to do 2 or 3 trays in a given morning, but they well-organized layout seems to pique her interest and help her to select an activity.  It's not forced on her, but it just offers options and helps stave off boredom.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Breaking the Bread Myth

Making bread is really easy with a Kitchen Aid mixer.  You can do it, too!  The hands on time is seriously only 5 to 10 minutes.  I use the recipe for whole wheat bread in the America's Test Kitchen cookbook.  Here's an outline of the steps to show how easy it is.  First, I toast the wheat germ by just putting it in a pan over medium heat.  
Next step is to whisk the dry ingredients (wheat germ, bread flour, whole wheat flour, salt, and yeast) together in the Kitchen Aid bowl and then use the same whisk to whisk the wet ingredients (milk, water, melted butter, and honey) together right in the measuring cup.
 Start the mixer on the "stir" speed and pour the wet ingredients into the dry while the mixer is spinning.  Increase the speed to medium low (I actually just do it on one notch up from "stir") and let the machine knead the bread for 10 minutes.  During this time, you can work on dinner prep, do your dishes, have a cup of coffee and check your email.  
 When the mixer has done it's job, knead the dough by hand for one minute and then shape it into a ball and put it into a bowl that you have sprayed with PAM.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and just let it sit for about 90 minutes.  This is when the dough will do it's first rise.
 Take the dough out of the bowl and press it into a rough rectangular shape on the counter.  This looks more like a circle, but I think it looked more like a rounded rectangle in person.
Roll your dough into a tight cylinder and put it into a bread pan that you have sprayed with PAM.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for another hour and a half.
 Finally, turn on the oven and bake it for about an hour!  Your house will smell wonderful and you will have the best sandwiches and toast!