Take a Taste Tuesday with State of Motherhood

I’m Zoe and I’m delighted to have been asked to be a part of ‘Take a Taste Tuesday’. I live with my family in a little town called Bishopbriggs in Glasgow, Scotland where I’ve been a stay at home Mum for the last 3 1/2 years.
I was inspired to start my own blog @stateofmotherhood after a couple of years following other mummy bloggers. In my blog I share my day to day life as a stay at home Mum to my 3 year old daughter Mae Josie and my 10 month old son Bertie.
I personally spend a fair bit of time in the kitchen as I really enjoy cooking. This is definitely due to the fact that when I was growing up my Mum gave me and my sister free reign in the kitchen. We also didn’t keep sweets in the house, so if we wanted a sugar hit, we would bake ourselves a cake! I want to encourage my children to have confidence in the kitchen like I did. I like to get them trying lots of different flavours and textures but more importantly I want them to have healthy attitudes towards food. That’s why I try to get the kids cooking in the kitchen whenever I can. Mae Josie loves to get involved and has helped me ever since I can remember. However, Bertie is really still at the ‘watch and learn’ stage.
My youngest Bertie has been teething pretty badly for the last few weeks. So when I came across this recipe for sweet potato and chamomile teething rusks, I had to try them. Looking over this recipe from My Kids Lick the Bowl, I knew right away that it was a perfect one to get MJ involved in. It has only 4 ingredients and very simple steps. At the moment when I cook with MJ I always measure everything out beforehand. She gets bored very quickly if we don’t, as she’s still a little young to fully understand that part. I then put all the ingredients into separate bowls so it’s easy for her to identify the different ingredients.
Any part that is safe for her to do, I let her. With this recipe the only part I played was pouring the hot water into the pan with the sweet potato and draining the hot water once it was cooked. The rest was down to MJ. She tipped ingredients into bowls/pots/blenders, blended the oats into oat flour, mixed up the dough, cut the baking paper, rolled it out and then cut it into pieces before we baked it.
Even the simplest task, like tipping flour into the mixing bowl, is exciting for her. She can do anything from washing vegetables to using a butter knife to cutsoft things like butter/mushrooms/bananas, etc. My advice is to get your child to help wherever you can. It not only helps them develop cooking skills, but helps with hand eye coordination and dexterity.
I also always find that when I get MJ to cook with me she is much more likely to eat things she normally wouldn’t. Needless to say, the girl who never eats sweet potato wolfed these rusks down and Bertie was one happy baby. Definitely a winning recipe in our house!

Healthy Baby Rusks Teething Biscuits

Cook 25 mins

Total 35 mins

Yield 12 rusks

Ingredients

  • 200g sweet potato
  • Chamomile tea bag
  • 1 Cup oat flour
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil, or other light flavoured oil

Instructions

  1. Peel and chop the sweet potato
  2. Place into a saucepan and cover with water, add the tea bag to the water
  3. Boil  sweet potato until tender
  4. Remove the tea bag and drain the majority of the liquid, leave a minimal amount, 1-2 tsp to help with the puréeing
  5. Purée the sweet potato, yield should be approximately 3/4 of a cup
  6. In a bowl Add oat flour, sweet potato purée and oil
  7. Mix with a wooden spoon or similar until a ball forms
  8. Line a baking tray with baking paper or a silicone sheet
  9. Place the dough on the baking paper and roll to approximately 5mm thick
  10. Take a knife and score the dough into large shapes that your baby will be able to grasp
  11. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-25mins, until firm to touch and golden on the edges
  12. Cool
  13. Snap the rusks along the score marks
  14. Store in an airtight container

Each Tuesday for the next several weeks a fellow mom/friend/community member will be sharing a fun recipe, tips to include kids in the cooking process, or a great family restaurant for “Take a Taste Tuesday.” If you are interested in sharing your eating and/or cooking fun be sure to connect with me via email!

Take a Taste Tuesday with Meal Planning Mama

Hi! I am Brittany from Meal Planning Mama. I am so excited to share my little part of the internet with you. While I do not have a blog (hopefully in the near future), you can find me on Instagram, Pinterest, and on Facebook. I am a teacher, wife, mom, and weekly meal planner. My meal planning adventure started about eight years ago shortly after my husband and I were married. I was not a cook. We went through our first year of marriage with him cooking most meals. However, with his work schedule, it was time for me to learn how to cook! I started out simple, following recipes online, and teaching myself. Finally, I found The Pioneer Woman on Food Network and became addicted. Ree Drummond makes cooking look so delicious and so easy. From that point on, I was the sole chef in the house. Nevertheless, there was still the daily question of, “what are we going to have for dinner?” every night.  I quickly became frustrated with running to the store several times a week, which in the end would cost us more money over a weeks’ time! I read about “meal planning” (probably on Pinterest) and decided to give it a shot. Since then I have read hundreds of blog posts on the best ways to meal plan and have made it my own. There is no one way to meal plan—you have to do what is best for you and your family. Today my family cannot survive without meal planning and to help you out, I post weekly meal plans on my Facebook page. The nice part about my page is that you can scroll through several years of meal planning to find exactly the types of meals you want to make up your weekly dinners.
 
Today I want to share a favorite recipe with you from the woman who helped ignite my cooking passion, Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman. I have made a countless number of Ree’s meals and I can honestly say, I have never had a bad one. A few of our family favorites include baked ziti (see below), sloppy joes, quiche, salsa, beautiful Brussel sprouts, blackberry cobbler, cornbread dressing, and spaghetti sauce (just to name a few…haha!)
 
I make many crockpot meals over the course of a month, so if it does not go in the crockpot then it has to be simple because ain’t nobody got time for that. This baked ziti is super easy! If you have kids, then they can get involved to help (my 4 year old was a grouch on this day), or you can whip it up while they have quiet time or play time. It’s also a great meal to make and freeze for another time or to give to a family.

Ree Drummond’s Baked Ziti

Ingredients:
·         2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
·         3 cloves Garlic, Minced
·         1 whole Large Onion, Diced  *note: I cut up about 3 whole onions at a time and freeze them so  
     when I need onion, I can just grab a bag or handful! I did not use a full onion for this recipe
·         1 pound Italian Sausage
·         1 pound Ground Beef
·         1 can (28 Oz. Size) Whole Tomatoes, With Juice
·         2 cans (14.5 Ounce) Tomato Sauce Or Marinara Sauce *I used marinara sauce
·         2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
·         1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
·         Salt And Pepper, to taste
·         16 ounces, weight Ziti Or Mostaciolli, Cooked Until Not Quite Al Dente
·         1 tub (15 Oz. Size) Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
·         1-1/2 pound Mozzarella Cheese, Grated
·         1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
·         1 whole Egg
·         Fresh Minced Parsley
 
 Instructions:
Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, and sauté for several minutes, or until starting to soften. Add Italian sausage and ground beef and cook until browned. Drain off fat, leaving a bit behind for flavor and moisture.

Add tomatoes, tomato juice or marinara, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Stir and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. After that time, remove 3 to 4 cups of the sauce to a different bowl to cool down. *I did not separate—still worked out fine*

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a separate bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, 2 cups of the grated mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, and salt and pepper. Stir together just a couple of times (do not mix completely).

Drain the pasta and rinse under cool water to stop the cooking and cool it down. Pour it into the bowl with the cheese mixture and toss to slightly combine (there should still be large lumps.) Add the cooled meat sauce and toss to combine. 

Add half the coated pasta to a large casserole dish or lasagna dish. Spoon half of the remaining sauce over the top, then top with half the remaining mozzarella cheese. Repeat with another layer of the coated pasta, the sauce, and the mozzarella. *I just threw it all together in a bowl in poured it into a casserole dish. When your short on time, it happens and still tastes great!

Bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbling. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving. 

(Sprinkle chopped parsley over the pasta before serving!)
 
 Once again, this dish did not disappoint! We had my parents over for dinner and made a salad along with garlic bread to top it off. We also had leftovers for days! I cannot wait to make this again in a few weeks when I am working on some freezer meals for the winter! Follow me along on Facebook @mealplanningmama and on Instagram @mealplanningmamacbus to learn more about meal planning or to find weekly menus!

What is Doughberry?

Recently, we received a special delivery from Doughberry and I am now excited to share our experience through a product review. Doughberry was created by a Seattle mama who set out to make the softest, silkiest and most imaginative playdough in all the land. And because she’s a child of the 80’s and her favorite toys were Strawberry Shortcake dolls and scratch n’ sniff stickers, it’s only natural that she make a scented dough. From vibrant Strawberry and Tangerine to mellow Vanilla and Lavender, there’s a variety for every child (and every parent too)!

We received four colors in four yummy scents: pink (grapefruit), orange (scented tangerine), green (scented lime), and purple (scented lavender). Each color was packaged separately in a 4 oz. airtight container and the bottom was marked with the corresponding scent.

Doughberry is made with all natural materials and scented with essential oils, which makes this dough safe for those tiny humans who might want to sneak a taste. Ingredients include: Flour, water, salt, cream of tartar, vegetable oil, baking flavors, essential oils, and food coloring gel. If left sitting out, this dough does dry out. But, unlike other dough, Doughberry can be brought back to life with a few drops of oil or water. Trust me, I left some out and experimented!

Play Experience

I love using dough to promote language development. In the time we spent exploring this jar of Doughberry, I modeled the action words: roll/pull/push/give, described the texture of the dough, and created faces. My daughter loved giving me the directions to create a “happy face/sad face” and then laughed when I followed through with her commands.  The scents are delicious and provides an opportunity to discuss how we smell and how each jar smells different. The scents incorporate a whole new set of vocabulary words and experiences and is something she doesn’t experience from other unscented dough.

A Few More Thoughts

The first impression of this dough is that the texture is smoother than other dough we have experienced and the added scent makes opening each jar exciting. I limited my daughter’s play to one jar at a time initially, because I hate when the colors become mixed together. When they inevitably do mix together, I will be buying a new set and look forward to experiencing the new smells.

If you are interested in your own set of this dough, check out Doughberry on Etsy. It is sold in sets of 4, seasonal packs, and party favors, and any order is fully customizeable.

Disclaimer: We were provided with our own Doughberry in exchange for a product review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Take a Taste Tuesday with Two In Tow

Tonya Strickland is a newspaper reporter turned mommy blogger who launched her family adventure blog Two In Tow & On The Go earlier this year to share pictures tips and stories about things to do with kids on California’s Central Coast. You can share in their adventures (along with all the reasons they like to get out of the house) at @two.n.tow on Instagram + Facebook or visit the blog at twontow.com.

Rainbow Pancake Muffins with Two In Tow & On The Go

So … truth is, I don’t like to bake. Or cook. Or do anything in the kitchen, really, besides hide from my kids each morning as I huddle next to the coffee pot. My blog is about getting my 1 and 3 year old littles out of the house – so some major avoidance of kitchen duty just *might* play a part in that.

But, at the same time, I like finding activities for my kids to do. And my kids LOVE to bake treats. They love making them. They love eating them. They love wrapping their tiny pudgy fingers around wooden spoons and plastic cups and doing all the scooping and the pouring and the sprinkling. It’s, like, a whole thing.

And since I’m a sucker for happy, occupied children, often times you’ll find me in my kitchen scrambling for last minute ingredients that I didn’t plan for while simultaneously pinning a random recipe two seconds before I follow it (kinda) and Googling “what can you substitute eggs with?!”.

That pretty much sums up the other day when we planned to make blueberry muffins. That is, until I realized we didn’t have any muffin mix. Oh, and I’m also allergic to gluten. And apparently really love making things complicated. BUT we did have gluten-free pancake mix. With Funfetti! And what small child (or any reasonable adult, for that matter) wouldn’t love to make some awesome rainbow/unicorn/fairy muffins? The kids were stoked.

But ….. How do you turn pancake mix into muffin mix? Well, like anything good in this world, there’s a Pinterest hack for that. Whipping out my phone with kids begging to see vidoes of themselves in the background, first I found this recipe from Family Fresh Meals [https://www.familyfreshmeals.com/2014/06/easy-baked-pancake-muffins.html#_a5y_p=3502654] for “Easy Baked Pancake Muffins.” I was absolutely kicking myself for not having an amazing assortment of silicone cupcake liners in all these bright and fun colors. Like, how perfect is this picture [https://www.pinterest.com/pin/186547609541846497/]? I die. Alas, I just had plain ‘ol white paper liners. The struggle is real, people!

I went on to the next pin.

And that’s when I found Smashed Peas & Carrots’ recipe for “Pancake Mix Muffins” [http://smashedpeasandcarrots.com/pancake-mix-muffins-recipe-egg-free-can-be-dairy-and-gluten-free/] that were also gluten free and egg free. It’s important to find a gluten-free specific recipe, as I’ve come to find out on more than one (unfortunate) occasion, because the various wheat substitutes don’t cook the same way, or for the same length of time, as their deliciously gluten-y counterparts. So we followed Smashed Peas & Carrots’ recipe and gathered all the ingredients. Then I added a unicorn to the picture just to be trendy. Cute, right?

Pancake Mix Muffins /from Smashed Peas & Carrots\

Prep time: 5 mins // Cook time: 14 mins

Serves: 12 muffins

Ingredients

2½ cups pancake mix

½ cup granulated sugar (or evaporated cane juice)

1½ cups milk (almond, soy, or coconut works well too!)

¼ cup butter, melted

May add mix-ins such as: ½ cup fresh blueberries, ¼ cup mini chocolate chips (we like Enjoy Life brand), or top with cinnamon sugar before baking!

Instructions

Place all ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl and mix until well incorporated but do not over mix.

Add in mix-ins of your choice and fold into the batter.

Fill greased muffin cups ⅔ full.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 14-16 minutes.

Let cool and enjoy!

Makes 36 mini muffins or 12 large muffins

So we did all that stuff, mostly. Except I didn’t have any fun mix-ins, because, you know, it’s me. And since my kids are tiny humans with less than perfect measuring skills, they didn’t quite “fill the greased muffin cups ⅔ full.” They filled them like this:

But while my 20 month old was busy with his dutiful scooping, he totally had what I affectionately refer to as “Baby Think Face,” which is when the kids are concentrating on a task so hard, it chubs out their baby cheeks and I SWOON AT THE SIGHT. Makes all this baking fuss super #worthit.

Oh, and I should also add that one really awesome thing we DO have going for us on the baking front is that my husband made those awesome learning towers you build from pieces of wood attached to an Ikea stool. So our kids look SUPER CUTE at the counter, being all tall enough to reach stuff.

If you’re intrested, we straight-up copied these plans for the towers: [http://www.mintinthemiddle.com/2012/11/lucy-recommends-learning-tower.html] from Mint In The Middle. Except I didn’t have time to paint ours all cute. Because kids.

Anyway, the muffins. They turned out pretty funny:

So then I scooped a second pan with my masterful adulting skills and they turned out fairly normal:

The kids gobbled up both types of muffins all the same. And really liked them! And that made me happy. Until I surveyed the true extent of the kitchen duty damage: piles and piles of wet paper towels, soggy with batter slopped on top of aaaaall the kitchen utensils.

But, I mean, cleaning up ridiculously messy messes is basically our everyday anyway. And just lookit my 3 year old’s happy wittle rainbow pancake muffin smile. Like I said, I’m a sucker for a happy kid.

Each Tuesday for the next several weeks a fellow mom/friend/community member will be sharing a fun recipe, tips to include kids in the cooking process, or a great family restaurant for “Take a Taste Tuesday.” If you are interested in sharing your eating and/or cooking fun be sure to connect with me via email!

Peanut Butter and Little Free Pantries

Have you seen the Little Free Pantries popping up around town?  At first glance, the Little Free Pantry looks like a Little Free Library. Upon closer inspection it’s really quite different. For those in need, Little Free Pantries are used to meet everyday food and personal needs of people in need throughout Columbus. Regardless of location, the Little Free Pantry is stocked organically by the local community with non-perishable food and toiletries. Those who wish to contribute do so at their own discretion and convenience. Likewise, those in need are welcome to take items from the pantry for free.

Recently, Crazy Richard’s Peanut Butter Co. posted about the need for peanut butter in food pantries. When it comes to food drives, five cans of vegetables or soups are donated for each jar of peanut butter. “Peanut butter is a shelf-stable source of protein that food banks love and need. But oftentimes, the amount of peanut butter on the shelves runs out long before the expiration date on the labels.” Just check out the stats below to see why peanut butter makes such a good contribution to the local food banks.

Photo from www.nationalpeanutboard.org

With these two things in mind, I reached out to Crazy Richard’s Peanut Butter Co. about a collaboration. Crazy Richard’s obliged and donated a generous amount of peanut butter. The donation provided an opportunity for me and my daughter to stock the pantries around town. The donation also provided me with the opportunity to write this post in order to raise awareness for the Little Free Pantries in our community and the importance of stocking those miniature shelves with peanut butter. What better peanut butter to stock the shelves with than Crazy Richard’s, a local company who didn’t think twice about agreeing to collaborate for the good of the community?

I have located 5 pantries in the Central Ohio area:

The corner of Ann & Sycamore St, Columbus, Ohio

686 S. Kellner Rd, Eastmoor, Ohio

2517 E. Livingston Ave, Columbus, Ohio

Alum Creek Dr. outside of LifePoint Church, Columbus, Ohio

4th Street Farms, Weinland Park, Ohio

If you are aware of another Little Free Pantry in the area that isn’t listed, please share in the comments.

Our Fall Bucketlist

I look back fondly on Fall 2016. My daughter just started walking, she started to imitate sounds and words, and we went on a ton of new adventures. This year I want to be sure to do our favorites again, so I decided to write them down all in one place. I am sharing our Fall Bucket List in hopes that you will find some inspiration, new ideas, or new places to explore. My hope is that your child will experience new vocabulary and opportunities for language growth along the way.

Our Fall Bucket List

Spend a Fall Day on US-68. We can spend a whole day on US-68 right outside the town of Yellow Springs, Ohio. Pass the time by walking through a sunflower field at Tecumpseh Land Trust, picking out some fall treats at Peifer Orchards, or exploring Young’s Dairy.

Pick Apples. We have visited quite a few orchards in the Columbus area, but our favorite to date is Legend Hills Orchard, located in Utica, Ohio. The setting is tranquil and the rolling hills can separate you from the other apple pickers.

Play/Explore/Create with Apples. Need some inspiration? Check out our All About Apples post.

Visit a pumpkin patch. If you are looking for a pumpkin patch with all the bells and whistles, check out the Columbus Moms Blog’s pumpkin patch guide. We prefer to pick our pumpkins at Schacht Farm Market in Canal Winchester. It’s a simple set up with a U-pick pumpkin patch, corn maze, and a market.

Play/Explore/Create with Pumpkins.

Spend a Day at the Zoo. I think fall is the perfect time for a zoo day. The temperatures are cooler, the animals are still out, and Boo at the Zoo begins October 20th at the Columbus Zoo.

Paint a Pumpkin Teal. Join the Teal Pumpkin Project to provide children with food allergies a fun and safe evening of Treat-or-Treating with their peers. Homes participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project offer non-edible treats (stickers, temporary tattoos, etc.) to children with food allergies as alternatives to traditional candy.

Visit a Fall Festival. Columbus offers a variety of festivals around town. A start is the Harvest Fair at the Columbus Commons and the Independents’ Day Festival in Franklinton.

Make a Fall Themed Sensory Box.

Go on a Mini Fall Getaway. Last year we spent a long weekend in Traverse City, MI. This year we are heading to Denver, CO. Next year?

Join a Team and Participate in the Buddy Walk. The Buddy Walk was established in 1995 by the National Down Syndrome Society to celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness Month in October and to promote acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome. The Buddy Walk will be in Columbus, Ohio on October 1, 2017, at Mapfre Stadium.

Go on a Nature Walk

Jump in a Pile of Leaves

Pick out a Halloween Costume

Go Trick-or-Treating

Printable Fall Bucket List