Friday, April 23, 2010

Re-purposing! I love this solution for draining canned foods

I was at Target today, my home away from home, and needed to grab some quick lunch. Instead of the Pizza Hut that I wanted, I grabbed one of those Healthy Choice Fresh Mixers. was ok. Nothing spectacular. Too much sodium and not enough taste.

The holy grail of the lunch was the container it came in. For those of you not familiar with this product, it is a plastic container roughly the s
ame grade as a Glad container. The lid is full of holes so you can drain the water for the pasta.

In my mind, I was thinking, I bet I can reuse this for something but not sure what. I washed it and kept it. THEN I started making dinner. I was using canned black beans for the nachos. I normally just microwave them in their sauce and then drain them. The nasty black sauce they come in is then scorching hot. VOILA! The Fresh Mixers container!!! I grabbed it, put the black beans and their sauce in there and microwaved for 2 minutes. I then drained off that nasty black sauce while it was hot--without burning my hands. I had perfectly drained black beans and a container to dish them out in.

What a perfect solution! Here's a picture so you can see what the container looks like.

Fresh Baby Food? Not from a jar? YEP

Have you seen the amount of sodium Gerber puts in their Gerber Graduates products? I don't know about you, but I don't think that any kid friendly food should contain the equivalent of the amount of sodium in two medium size McDonald's fries! Go the link, read it. I will be here when you get back.

Even though the beginning stages of baby food do not contain that kind of salt, why not just give the baby good healthy food that you buy in the produce section of the grocery store instead of a jar in a dark aisle. We need our children to grow up in that section of the store and not the convenience food section like my 30 something generation did.

How did I get started? Well, I talked to my pediatrician who totally supported the decision. This doctor also supports my choice for cloth diapering--even thought I am the only patient he has ever had that uses them. I just read a stat that up to 43% of new parents are choosing cloth to save money in the tight economy....but hey, I'll save that for another blog post some day.

After discussing making my own baby food with the doctor, I started searching for material online. I found a very quick and easy resource at The list is organized by age of baby and what they should be eating. I check it every few months to add new things to his diet and make sure that we are on track.

I started out with a very inexpensive food mill that I bought in the baby food aisle. It is nothing fancy. You can spend as much or as little as you like but really all you need is to get the food mashed. One thing I have learned--we normally eat our veggies steamed but still crisp. In order to properly mash in a food mill they need to be soft. Put in your fruits or veggies that you want baby to eat and smash. Instant baby food with no additives. The leftovers can be frozen in individual storage containers and just defrost before serving to baby.

Not only is Logan eating a wonderful and healthy variety of fruits and vegetables, I am raising a baby that knows what real food tastes like and my hope is that he will eat this way forever. I am imagining a kid eating things like avocado, asparagus, broccoli and spinach without complaining.

My pediatrician was shocked to find out that Logan would even eat asparagus. He told me that many people in many countries grow up without Gerber and Logan will grow up to eat the strong varied diet that these other people do. That made me feel like I was doing something right!

Logan is eight months old now. He doesn't have any teeth but he has decided he has no interest in anyone feeding him. I chop his food in small bite-sized pieces and he feeds himself. In each of my recipe blogs in the future, I will devote a paragraph to what Logan ate out of the meal. Sometimes I do specially prepare his food before adding sauces, certain spices, added fats, etc. I will be sure to note this as much as possible.

The cost savings alone has been worth this adventure for us. These are all foods that I normally purchase at the grocer so I am not spending any additional money. Each two pack of Gerber costs .97 in my area. Those little containers add up fast.

NOTES: I am not telling you how to feed your baby, just what has worked for mine. I am not providing medical advice in any way. Please check with your doctor and research making baby food to get all the details and decide if it is right for you. I introduced foods two at a time to check for allergies and I never give him nuts, shell fish, cows milk or any other item that babies under age 1 should be exposed to.

WOW! How life has changed!

Excuse the explicative: HOLY SHIT! We just left the city and moved to the suburbs! Not just the suburbs, a really cute small town about 45 minutes from the city. Back Home in Indiana and all that. The best part...we have a half acre yard. What a shock it is to go from a 1000sq. foot condo on the 10th floor with a balcony to a 2000+ sq foot home with a huge yard that has lots of trees and woodland creatures. It has been almost two months now so we are getting used to it. I have a large well appointed kitchen with tons of cupboard space but I am still all about my philosophy of keeping things simple, easy and delicious.

On top of baby Logan growing every day--he is eight months old now, my wonderful Bailey is in a soccer league that practices/plays four times a week AND I have started working from home 20 hours a week. Add in laundry for four and cleaning up after everybody and you quickly realize that now more than ever, easy meals are a must! Wooh, I am tired just thinking about my day.

My boys: Logan and Bailey. Big brother worship has set in!
I have so many pictures and recipes stored up. I am going to bombard the blog with as many as I can in the next few weeks to try to get everyone caught up with what I have been cooking.

Thanks for keeping up with me and the family! Love Torry

Grilling Season: Grilled Chicken Dinner

I could seriously use the grill every single day for cooking! It makes things so easy. Tonight I took a lot of help from a bottle marinade. I like to experiment with them and then if I like them I take the main ingredients and try to make my own out of it. Tonight's was Kikkoman Honey and Mustard 20 minute marinade . They recommended for fish or pork so I used it on chicken thighs. ;-) The marinade was really easy to use--but beware:
it caused a huge flare up on the grill! Overall, I will say the marinade was good but soooo not what I expected. It didn't taste like honey or mustard. It tasted like soy. I guess coming from Kikkoman I should have expected that.So what was on the menu? Grilled Chicken thighs, Bailey's fav Chicken broth flavored rice and a protein filled salad.
The chicken was easy enough. I marinaded it for about 45 minutes in a big freezer bag and then put it on the grill. This was bone in, skinless. I had a hard time controlling the heat and the flare ups so I ended up turning on my two end burners full blast and leaving the two middles off to cook indirectly. It took an hour this way but saved the fireman from coming to save my cedar trees from being up in smoke!

Bailey's Fav Chicken Broth Rice

This too is super easy but gives wonderful flavor to white rice and you will never have rice stuck together!

Just substitute chicken broth for the water and follow the package directions. I have noticed it sometimes takes about 3-5 additional minutes to soak up the broth so just be patient. You will not need butter or salt when serving.

The Salad

This was a clean out the fridge kind of salad. I still had grated carrot and left over Boston lettuce from the Lettuce Wraps the other night (see previous blog entry) so I chopped up the lettuce, tossed in the carrot. I added in hard boiled egg, a whole sliced avocado, grape tomatoes and cheese. I could have lived without the cheese but hey...Bailey finally will eat salad if it has cheese so we had cheese. :-)

The best part about this meal is the left overs! Since the chicken did not taste anything like honey mustard, I am going to use it tonight and make chicken nachos (see previous blog entry). Great way to use up the chicken and we will throw the rice in with the black beans and use that as a topping too. I'll post some pics but I pretty much always go back to my stand by nachos on this blog. I am thinking about adding some spicy salsa to the cheese sauce to make it more of a queso....
NOTE: Adding salsa to the queso was a success! I added 1/2 cup salsa and 1T red pepper flake. Delicious queso for the nachos!
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