Saturday, October 4, 2014

"Suntella" Chocolate Spread

A few weeks ago, I ran to the library and quickly grabbed a few new cook books. One of them was called Real Food for Real Families. I was in a rush, so I didn't really look at it until I got it home, but I had grabbed it thinking it was normal every day recipes for families. Something my fussy couple might actually eat! When I got a chance to look at it, I realized it is a book of home made recipes to replace all the store bought goodies we usually feed our kids. I picked out a few recipes, but this was the first that I got around to trying. This is to replace Nutella, which it shows to be full of sugar and artificial flavours. 

I didn't buy enough sunflower butter so I halved the recipe. As well, there were no storage suggestions with the recipe, so I am keeping it in the fridge since there is milk in it. The full recipe is below. 


1 cup Sunflower seed butter
4 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 cup almond, soy or cow's milk
1/4 cup liquid honey
2 tsp vanilla extract

In food processor, combine all ingredients and process until blended, thinning to spreadable consistency with more milk, if necessary. 


Putting it on store bought white bread probably throws the all natural breakfast out the window, but baby steps :-) It kind of looks nasty, but isn't that bad. I wasn't crazy about the taste of the sunflower butter, though, so I find this tastes a bit off. Just as an FYI, I found the sunflower butter at the Bulk Barn, a bulk store that we have here. I suppose you could probably find it in the natural foods isle of your supermarket as well. It surprisingly looks and smells a lot like peanut butter. 


Just because I wasn't crazy about it does not mean a thing, I guess, because my little weirdo LOVES it!! I've given it to her several times for both breakfast and snack and she almost cleans her plate each time. 


Yum! She also loves the sunflower butter alone on toast, so I went back and got some more today. Sure, she won't eat anything normal like a carrot or pea, but give her unusual things like cranberries, couscous, or sunflower butter and she gobbles them up! Crazy kid. 

I have all the ingredients for at least one more recipe in this book, homemade goldfish crackers, now I just have to get the time and energy to get it made! Only ten more weeks until I become a Momma of two (under two for a few weeks!) so there is lots to do, especially since we finally found a job opportunity and Mr Picky may be going away for three weeks at a time after Thanksgiving, which is next weekend!!

Pitter patter, best get at 'er, as they say!

Have a good weekend, everyone!

~Natasha.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Apple Crumble

For the second year, we went apple picking with Grandma and Grandpa. This year, Daddy went with us, last year he had to work. After a couple of cooler weeks, we had a very hot and sunny weekend, perfect for apple picking! Salean mostly sat in the wagon munching on apples (something she won't eat at home), but Daddy lifted her high into the trees to get a few for herself.


We got three bags that we were told would hold 10 Lb each...looks like a lot more than that to me! We stuffed the bags full! There is a bag for Grandma, one for Auntie and one for Salean & Mommy to bake with.


After apple picking, we went to the beach. It was at the bottom of the orchard. Salean tossed rocks into the water while Daddy tried to keep her out of the water. She ended up with wet sneakers :-)


So, our first apple recipe is apple crumble, a classic comfort dessert. I made this during nap time, so Salean woke up to a yummy smelling house. The recipe I used is an old one, the same recipe my Mom has used since before I was Salean's age.


Mix: 1/3 cup butter or margarine
1 + 1/4 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon.

Sprinkle over apple slices in a deep dish. Bake at 375 F for 40 minutes.


And finally, a delicious snack. Daddy is out, so he has to wait for dinner :-)

There are still a lot more apples to use up, I am planning on making apple sauce and hoping to try apple butter.

Hope everyone is having a Happy Monday!

~Natasha. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice

I am jumping on the Autumn Pumpkin-everything bandwagon! I stumbled upon THIS little recipe while perusing the pages of Pintrest for meal plans. I have a few recipes I'd like to try with Pumpkin Pie Spice, but never really got around to picking some up. I checked the spice rack, and I had everything needed to make the new mixture, so I picked up a new spice jar and went to it!


All the spices lined up, in order you need 2 tsp ginger, 2 tsp nutmeg, 3 Tbsp cinnamon, and 1.5 tsp of each the allspice and cloves.


Layered into a new jar with a fresh label. I get these jars at my local Dollarama, for 1.25 each. The labels I bought there as well, and just write on them as needed.


No fancy stirring needed, they are airtight so I just capped it and shook really well. Once the dust settles, it is ready to be used...now to find a recipe! 

Hope everyone is having  great first week of Autumn!! 

~Natasha. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Chewy Granola Bars

I am trying to eat healthier, for both mine and baby's benefit. As well, Salean is still super picky and so I am trying to introduce her to new foods. Since she isn't really wild about the store bought variety, I decided to try making granola bars. I found THIS recipe on Pintrest, and went with it since I would not have to purchase additional ingredients (Mr Picky is still out of work and having a hard time finding something either here or in another province).


I changed it up a bit, I used cashews instead of peanuts as they were all I had. Instead of mini M&Ms, I used full sized and just chopped them up. I also threw in a handful of dried cranberries as they are something little Miss likes.


The dry ingredients mixed together in one bowl. I mixed the wet in another and added them together.


It made two small 9X9 pans, I cut each into 8 pieces, and they smelled delicious baking! Once Mr Picky saw the dried cranberries, he refused to try them. He did admit, however, that they smelled good.


It took a little convincing, but the next morning Salean tried one for breakfast and liked it. She ate more fruit than granola bar, though.


We had another for snack and I found pieces around the room. She shared some with her doll.


She sat in her tent eating it (broken up in a bowl) and sharing with another doll, who is hiding to her right.

I really liked this recipe and I think I will make them again. I would call them about 50% toddler approved. She likes it sometimes and sometimes not.

I am hoping in the next little while I can convince both little Miss and Mr Picky that real foods are good. We usually have fast food at least once a week, but it has been a few weeks. Thursday we were out with his family and had DQ; we both agreed after that we felt blah. It kind of pushed him a notch closer to my side :-)

Hope everyone is having a great week, happy Friday!!

~Natasha.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cheesy Hamburger Macaroni

With our mass load of groceries and huge budget loss last week, I decided it was time to start meal planning again. Last Friday, I went online and found recipes for each day of the week that I have to cook (every day but Thursday and Saturday, those are eat at Grandma's days). I once again turned to Pintrest to find recipes, and one of the ones I found was THIS, a nice comforting meal.


I didn't really read the recipe thoroughly the first time, so when I went to make it and realized dinnertime was close but the noodles had to be cooked in the sauce for an hour, I said uh oh and improvised. The sauce I made from a can of tomatoes with garlic and herbs, I put it in the blender for half a minute as the recipe suggested. To it I added oregano, paprika (but not enough to alter the taste, next time I will use cayenne pepper, I think. ), salt and pepper, a handful of grated cheese, and the cooked hamburger. While the pasta cooked, I let the sauce simmer to thicken. 


When the past was cooked, I mixed it all together and put it in a baking dish. On top I sprinkled a mozza-cheddar mix and then I stuck it under the broiler for a few minutes. The masses were starting to grumble, so I didn't keep it there long enough to brown, just melt nicely. 


A healthy toddler sized portion, she only ate about half of it. No matter how you dress it up, beef is beef and little miss does not like it. Mr Picky, on the other hand, liked it and went back for seconds. Although he said it tasted the same as when I made it last time. One of his favourite meals is what he calls goulash, which is hamburger, macaroni and a can of tomato soup mixed together, similar but nothing like this :-P Men. I really liked the spicy difference and will definitely be making it again. 

I am having a hard time finding meals for next week, everything seems to call for an ingredient I do not have, and I have zero budget this week. The only thing I can pick up are a few fresh veggies that I can use a gift card for, from a produce store that doesn't sell boxes, bottles and cans. I will have to figure out some fancy substitutions, I guess. 

Have a good week, everyone!!

~Natasha.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Peanut Butter & Banana Cookies

Another week has flown past, and another weekend gone. We had lots of fun, we saw a car show, a fair, a motorcycle ride for charity (Salean absolutely loved waving at the riders as they drove past, and some even waved back!), and we found a great buy one get one sale at our local supermarket, so we stocked up on as much as we could to tide us over until the first Alberta paychecks come in.

I went to grab a banana a few days ago for breakfast and found them a tad to ripe for eating, but almost perfect for baking. I looked up banana recipes on the Kraft cooking website and picked THIS one.


As you can see below, the batter was very wet. I checked it again, read some comments and added about 5 heaping tablespoons of oatmeal. I was still wary about them baking without spreading into a cake, but they turned out perfectly.


As per other comments, I also added some chocolate chips and a smidgen of nutmeg. I think I should have added more, I couldn't taste it.

These are a quick, soft, delicious recipe. I can't tell you if they are toddler approved because she is in bed :-) We will find out at snack time tomorrow. As for me, they are on the remake list.

Have a good week, everyone!!

~Natasha.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Snickerdoodles with a Toddler

It has been a rough week for poor Miss Salean. She is still a little mixed up from our move last weekend, and so is our new house. I can tell she is also confused that Daddy has been home all week, but it has been a great help to me because she has been clingy and whiny, wanting to be in the same room, but preferably beside or on top of one of us at all times. This morning, Mr Picky had to go to town for the day to take a First Aid/CPR course in preparation for going to Alberta, so I decided to make some cookies that he has been requesting for the last few weeks. Since Little Miss won't let me go, I figured it would be a good time to start baking lessons. 

After about 4 days, she finally got back to her usual sleep from 7 PM to about 8 AM routine. I got up early and prepped everything for the cookies. At 20 months she is a bit little to be scooping and measuring ingredients, instead I decided this would be an introduction to the mixer and a small pouring lesson. The recipe I used is posted HERE.


 The butter is in the mixing bowl (no sense wasting another dish when it starts out in the bowl anyway). Then there is brown sugar, white sugar 3 eggs, flour with soda, cinnamon and nutmeg mixed in, more flour and finally the cinnamon sugar dip mixture. I have 2 measures of flour because I usually mix the soda etc with only half the flour. Some days a recipe needs a little more or less flour, depending on the humidity and weather, and I don't want to waste flour or other ingredients that are already mixed in. Today, the cookies needed about a half cup extra.


 Salean was a little wary of the noise the mixer made, she doesn't really like loud noises. But she watched with interest while the ingredients mixed. I tried to get her to pour the sugar and eggs into the bowl, but I got a "you want me to what?" look, so I just let her observe. She did get into it a bit after it was all mixed and I started scooping, she tried to scoop with her own spoon and managed to get one good sized cookie made.


 I got 37 out of today's batch, and the house smelled delicious first thing in the morning. She lost complete interest while I baked she went to play without me, for the first time in a week!


Finally, the best part! Once snack time came around, she had one with some juice. She seems to like them, and Daddy will be happy when he gets home tonight.


So our move went great, aside from a clingy toddler and a wonderful messy house; but this is the second recipe I have baked this week. I am so happy to get into a big kitchen again and be able to bake and cook without bumping into things!

Have a good week, everyone!!


~Natasha.