Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mashed Cauliflower - Revisited (sugar free • gluten free • low carb)

I actually posted my original version of this recipe HERE a while back.  And although it still turns out great this way, I have actually figured out an easier and quicker way to make it that I like even more.

Lately, more of my family members and friends are starting to eat healthier.  This is awesome because it makes it so much easier when you have other people to talk to and share food, ideas and recipes with.  One friend in particular,  actually my husbands BFF, has really jumped on the band wagon with me.  He's lost a ton of weight and is feeling so much better.  He's been making all of the meals for his wife and two children.   It's been so great, because he has started to give me some ideas and share some of his recipes with me.  He's tried quite a few of my recipes and have found ways to tweak some of them to better suit his tastes.  It's been awesome!

He took my previous mashed cauliflower recipe and ran it through his blender and skipped the baking part.  He said it looked and tasted more like real mashed potatoes.  I have been using my new immersion blender for everything, so I thought, why not try it with that?   So I did, and I LOVED the results.  They really looked and had the same consistency of mashed potatoes!  My husband really really enjoyed them, and he is usually just so-so about them.  Ofcourse the munchkin tore them up having three helpings.  I will definitely make them this way from now on.  Plus you cut out the cooking time in the oven and you get to enjoy them faster!

Mashed Cauliflower
sugar free • gluten free • low carb

  • 2 Large Heads of Cauliflower
  • 1/2 C Fresh Grated Cheese of choice (I like cheddar best, but you can mix them up)
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 4 Tb butter
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder (or more)
  • 1/2 tsp Onion Powder (or more)
  • 1/2 tsp parsley
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp mustard
  • Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste
  • Sea Salt, to taste
The amounts for seasonings are just estimates. I just take everything and dump it in, to be honest, but this should be pretty close and you can play around with what you like)

  1. Steam Cauliflower (either in a steamer or on the stove in a large stock pot with about an inch of simmering water on the bottom of the pot) for about 25-35 minutes until they are VERY soft.
  2. Drain water in a strainer over the sink, shake to release as much water as you can.
  3. Place in large mixing bowl with cheese, cream cheese, butter and seasonings and mix until very well combined with a hand mixer. It should resemble mashed potatoes. 
  4. Once you have everything mixed pretty well, use an immersion blender and mix until everything is really creamy like mashed potatoes.
  5. Taste and add seasonings as desired.  I usually ad more salt and garlic powder.
  6. Enjoy!

Monday, September 26, 2011

My New Pots and Pans!

My husband is so awesomely wonderful.

I came home from work last Thursday and saw this sitting on the counter.

Joe earns points through his job for growth and different things, which he can use to acquire cool fun stuff.  A couple of months ago, he got himself an ipod touch.   It's one of the few perks of his job.  He works alot of hours and does alot of extra stuff and for not alot of compensation.  They send him out of town now and then too and he doesn't even get paid for it!  The ipod was the first and only thing he had gotten so far with his points.  He has been there for over five years and it took forever to build up enough points to get anything really cool.

But I digress....

I have been wanting and drooling over a new stainless steel pots and pans set for forever.  The set I had was a calphalon nonstick set that I had gotten many many moons ago.  It was still working for me though, and as much as I wanted a stainless steel set, it was definitely not something we had room for in the budget.

But then my husband found out that he could get me a set through his company points!  He still had alot left over after the ipod and waited a couple of months to have enough more for the pots and pans.

He also ordered me a large stainless steel 4 piece pot/steamer/pasta set that comes with a 8 quart stock pot that arrived over the weekend.

Oh how I adore that man.

I took them all out of the package and admired them.  I thought they were beautiful!  I couldn't believe I was so excited over pots and pans.  I was smitten.

Since then I have cooked burgers, eggs and reheated chili.  They are amazing and I am giddy.

Friday, September 23, 2011

My Toddler Suddenly Screams and is Scared of the Bath!

A couple of weeks ago, Joe was giving the munchkin a bath.  Towards the end of the bath, he said she looked down towards the deep end, and then suddenly became really scared.  She leaped out of the bathtub, totally freaking out and jumped into Joe's arms.  Kids do wierd stuff sometimes, so Joe didn't think too much of it.  She was already cleaned and rinsed, so he just dried her off and moved on.

Two night lights later, we were giving her another bath.  As soon as she got in, she started crying and and getting really upset, saying "I don't want this, I don't want this!"  I stripped down and got into the tub with her.  She was still crying and very upset, but it was somewhat better.  We quickly cleaned her up and got her out.  Maybe she was just really tired and crabby?

Then came the next bath night.  As soon as Joe said the word bath, she started shaking and crying and yelling "I don't want this!", over and over again.  I took her into her bedroom and started to strip her down. She was crying harder and harder.  I told her it was going to be okay and gave her reassuring hugs and started to carry her into the bathroom.  I set her down on the floor and got down with her, trying to talk to her and figure out what was going on.  I took a couple of her toys and dropped them into the water to play with them and try to entice her.  She started crying and grabbing at the toys, trying to rescue them and get them out of the water.

She suddenly started shaking and crying and screaming.  She started pointing at the tup and screaming.  She was absolutely terrified.  This wasn't just throwing a fit over something she didn't want.  The was absolute, genuine terror!  It was like she was watching someone murder me.  No lie.  I quickly scooped her up and took her out of the bathroom and into the other room to calm her down.  There was no way I was even going to try to go any further at that point.  It honestly would have felt like child abuse.

I was freaking out myself.  Why was she so scared of the bath?  Normally she can explain things to me somewhat, but there was no way she could verbalize this.  Any time I even tried to talk to her about what was going on, she would panic and all communication broke down.

Once she was calmed down, I decided to strip myself down and just take her into the shower with me.  She needed to be cleaned, but there was no way I was attempting another bath tonight.  She definitely didn't want to get into the shower either, but her reaction was nothing compared to the bath.  Plus I was holding her in my arms, so I am sure that was somewhat reassuring.

Joe helped me out and then we dried her off and snuggled up in our reading chair. I gave her some extra hugs and snuggles and just read to her and talked to her until she was back to her old self again.  I tucked her into bed and left the room.

What the eff was up with that?!

This girl had absolutely loved baths.  LOVED them!  She would lay on her belly and swim and play with all her toys and sing and laugh.. ya know all the stuff most kids do in the bath cuz they are one of the most fun things for kids to do!

I was seriously freaking out.  I didn't know what to think.  Had something happened to suddenly make her so terrified of the bath?  As far as I knew, no one else had bathed her recently besides me or Joe.  Was something wrong with her?  The way she was acting was so crazy and out of character for her.  I had absolutely no idea what to think or make of it.

So what does one do, when something like this happens??

Ya google it.

And so I did.  The first thing that popped up was an article on babycenter written by a child psychologist.   Here is an excerpt:

"We don't know what scared her away from the baths she used to love (it's common for babies and toddlers to be scared that they might be swept down the drain with the water because their sense of scale isn't developed enough for them to realize that's impossible), but whenever a child develops a fear, it's crucial to accept it. It may not seem reasonable to you, but what does reason have to do with fear? You may not share her fear, but you're not the one who's feeling it.

If you're tempted to scoff at her aversion to baths, think about your own fears and ask yourself whether they're all "reasonable" and how you'd feel if you were forced to confront the things that scare you. Do you, for example, like large spiders? If not, how would you feel if someone made you hold one?"

The article was helpful and I am so glad I didn't try to push the issue too much or try harder to get her into the tub. What really made me feel better though, were the hundreds of member comments below the article, that were posted by parents that had gone through the same thing with their child.  One mother's recap over the situation even sounded exactly like ours! Most of these kids were all around the same age as the munchkin.

I can't tell you what a relief it was to find this information and to also find out that it was actually quite common.  I had no idea.  I had certainly never heard of it happening to anyone I knew.

It kinda made sense too.  When she had leaped out of the tub the first time, it was right after looking down at the drain.  Maybe she was afraid it would suck her down too.  She got so upset about her toys even being in there, maybe she was afraid they would get sucked down as well.

Also, I read in a couple of articles that you should never drain the water while your child is still in the tub.  This will help to avoid this ever happening.  Dang.  Wish I had known that.

So now I know its not that uncommon after all and I didn't need to worry about it too much.  But now what?  The girl needed to be cleaned.  I didn't want to have to take a shower every night at 7:30 just to get her clean either.  So, I read through the comments and considered what worked for other parents.  I got on amazon and ordered some new supplies.

California Baby, Calming Bubbles
Foam Letters and Numbers
Foam Yo Gabba Gabba Characters (she never even watches this show, but I thought she would still have fun with them anyway)
A Long bath mat to go most of the length of the tub and cover the drain so she couldn't see it.
A tray to store all her new stuff in.

I spent way too much money.  Mostly because I am sometimes over cautious and paranoid and do not like anything possibly toxic to be in the tub with her and her naked private parts.  I read too much, and some of the things I read cause me to err on the side of caution.  Hence, why she has never had bubbles in the bath tub before. Nontoxic bubbles are not cheap.  But, I just wanted her to like baths again!  It would be worth it,  if they would distract her enough to make her want to get into that tub again.

So two days later, the items arrived.  I removed everything, including all of her old toys, from the bathroom and cleaned everything out really well.  I laid the mat down, covering the drain and put all of her new toys in their place.  When it was time, I distracted the munchkin in the play room while Joe started the water with the bubbles.  Once the tub was filled up, I started talking about daddy playing with the bubbles and all her new toys and talking in a really excited and fun voice.  We started walking towards the bathroom.  She was slow and apprehensive but wanted to know what was going on.

As we got closer to the tub she could see the bubbles and the new toys.  You could tell she was very nervous as she got closer, but she was still very curious about the new stuff.  Joe and I started talking about the bubbles and all the new toys and how much fun they were as I slowly started removing her clothes and diaper.  I picked her up and set her in the tub.  She started to whimper and look around, and started to look like she was going to cry.  I started picking up the foam characters and letters and showing her how they stuck on the wall and talking to her about them and how much fun they were as Joe started washing her.

We made it (very quickly) through the bath without her totally freaking out.  She didn't like it, but she didn't seem terrified either.

The next bath went pretty much the same way, and maybe not quite as well.  The newness of the bubbles and toys had worn off I guess, and weren't distracting her enough from her fears of the tub.  We hurried through it as fast as we could.

For the next bath (and her most recent one), I thought I might take a new approach.  About thirty minutes before her bath, I got out a "bath time doll" she had gotten for her birthday.  It came with a little duck and a puppy and a towel.  We gave them all baths and talked about how much fun they were having and how much they loved the bubbles.  She was really having fun "washing" them and then "drying" them all off.  She kept saying how much the baby loved the bubbles and then how much she loved the bubbles.   It seemed to help a little bit, because after we put her in the tub, we even got a few laughs and squeels from her as I blew on the bubbles and stuck them to us.  I picked up bubbles and put them on my arm, then daddy's arm, then her belly and talked about how silly it was and how funny it was daddy had bubbles on his arm.

It didn't last too long though, cuz after a while she started crying again.  I told her we were almost done and she started pointing to her towel, crying and sobbing "almost done! almost done!"  We finished up quickly and pulled her out.

So that is where we are now.  There is definitely some progress, but it doesn't look like she is going to be enjoying baths again any time soon.  I am hoping things will just keep getting better and eventually she will get back to loving her baths again.

But seriously, kids are crazy little people.

Maybe I should order her some of this??

They sell it HERE!

Anyone else ever go through anything like this?? What did you do?  How did it turn out?

Homemade Mayonnaise - Coconut Oil and Olive Oil (sugar free • gluten free • low carb • dairy free)

My original posted recipe is from the book Nourishing Traditions.  I changed things up a bit to meet my tastes and needs a little better, and this is what I came up with.  I love it!

Please make sure that you always use pastured eggs from a reliable source when eating them raw, like in mayonnaise.  Please do not use conventional eggs from the grocery store!  If you have a Whole Foods near you, they sell pastured eggs from Vital Farms and that would be a good choice if you don't have access to a local farm.

HOMEMADE MAYONNAISE - Coconut Oil and Olive Oil
(sugar free • gluten free • low carb • dairy free)

Immersion Blender (stick blender)


  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 Tb Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Tb Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/4 tsp White Pepper
  • 1 Tb Homemade Whey (optional, but will last much longer in fridge)
  • 1/2 C Organic, Unrefined, Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 C Organic, Extra Virgin Olive Oil


  1. Bring all ingredients to room Temperature (or at least really close, don't pull it all out of the fridge and try to whip it up right away).
  2. In a tall glass, a couple inches wider then the end of your immersion blender, add the eggs, mustard, lemon juice, sea salt, pepper, and whey.  Combine ingredients for about 30 seconds with blender.
  3. Add coconut oil and mix for about 30 more seconds or until very well combined.
  4. Slowly add in olive oil with a thin stream as you run the immersion blender.  Blend until mixture becomes thick and creamy, about a minute, maybe a little longer.  
  5. If you used whey to ferment it, seal mayonnaise in an airtight glass jar and leave on counter top for 7-12 hours, then move to fridge where it will last for 2-3 months.
  6. If you did not use whey, move to the fridge immediately, mayo will last about two weeks.
Normally this doesn't happen, but the last time I made this, it started to separate after sitting on the counter for an hour.  I think my problem was that I didn't let the ingredients warm up enough after taking them out of the fridge.  I grabbed my immersion blender, stuck it in the jar and blended it for another minute or two to combine it all again.  I didn't have much hope, but It worked great!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Creamy Red Pepper Sauce (sugar free • gluten free • low carb)

I am a big fan of red peppers.  I will eat them plain, no problem.  I love adding it to the blender when I am making hummus.  My new obsession is in this creamy sauce that can be enjoyed in lots of different ways.  On Sunday, when I did my freezer cooking for the month, I multiplied this recipe by four so I could save some to enjoy throughout the month.  The following recipe yields around 2 cups.

I forgot to take a picture until after I had already packed it up to store.  But you can see what a pretty color it is!

(sugar free • gluten free • low carb)

  • 3 Tb Butter
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, chopped
  • 2 Tb onions, chopped
  • 2 Large Red Peppers
  • 1 Tb Tomatoe Paste
  • 1/2 tsp Thyme
  • 1/2 tsp Parsley
  • 1/2 C Dry White Wine, like sauvignon blanc
  • 1 C Homemade Chicken Broth
  • 1 C Heavy Cream
  • Salt to Taste
  • Cracked Black Pepper to Taste

  • Mince garlic cloves and onion and saute in butter in a pan over medium heat until soft and translucent.
  • Clean Red Peppers, remove seeds and stem and dice, then add to pan.
  • Add tomato paste, thyme and parsley.
  • Stir for about 5-10 minutes until peppers are softened.
  • Add 1/2 C white wine and bring to a boil.
  • Add 1 C chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Simmer until reduced, about 15-20 minutes.
  • Add 1 C Cream and bring to boil.  Simmer until reduced, about 15-20 minutes.
  • Let sauce cool and add some salt and pepper.
  • The sauce will not be completely mixed and the ingredients will be somewhat separated. Use Immersion blender to liquefy the sauce and make it creamy.
  • Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
  • Makes about 2 Cups.
If you don't have an immersion blender, you can put the sauce in a regular blender, but it won't be as smooth and creamy.  It will still taste yummy though!  Enjoy over grilled chicken, seafood or pasta.  Or anything else you might like to add it to.  It is very versatile and can be used on many things.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Preparing a Month's Worth of Food in One Day

You may have heard of "Once a Month Cooking" or "OAMC" as it is often referred to.  It always seemed like a great idea, but I never really took the plunge.  I knew it was something I definitely wanted to do the next time we were pregnant and I was going to be going on maternity leave.  How nice would be to have 2-3 mos worth of meals in the freezer, ready to thaw and cook or heat up?  I have been gathering all of the recipes I wanted to use for when that time came and never really thought much about doing it before then.

Lately though, I have been getting really frustrated with my evening schedule and have felt kinda stuck.  After work, I pick up the munchkin, then we go home.  We hang out for a little while, but then soon I have to start on dinner.  I spend anywhere from 15 min to an hour preparing dinner.  I try to involve her if I can, sitting her on the counter, letting her "help" me, but there usually isn't a whole lot she can do yet and she gets bored.  There's no time to stop anywhere or run errands after work because dinner really needs to be made before Joe leaves for school.  After eating, I pack up our lunches, usually with the extra I made of dinner, and then clean the kitchen. Sometimes it's 7:00 by the time we are finished (or even later) and depending on if it's bath night or not, I don't have much time left to just hang out and play before bedtime at 8:00.  Seeing as how this goes on 5 nights a week, I really feel like I am missing out on alot of time I could be spending with her.

So last week, I started really thinking about spending a whole day making our meals for the month.  I figured if I could do that, I would have alot more time in the evening to do what I wanted.  We take all of our grocery money for the month out of one of Joe's paychecks, and it just so happened that paycheck was last week.  I figured it was as good a time as any to give it a go.  I also purchased a book online called "Don't Panic - Dinner's in the freezer". And although most of the recipes were not very useful to me,  there were alot of tips in there.  Like how to prep and wrap the food for storage in the freezer, how long things would stay good for and conversion charts for making large batches of things.  Since the book was so cheap, it was worth the price just to have all of that info.  I did make the Orange Teryiake Chicken and I may try more of the recipes in there at some point, changing them up a bit, but I already had most of what I wanted to make picked out for this weekend.

I was also doing things a little differently then the more common OAMC method.  I didn't want to have everything pre-cooked as I think this would make it lose some of it's nutritional value.  I also don't use a microwave, so it all would have to be in the oven for a while either way.  Other then the chili and the red pepper sauce, most of the food was just being prepped and assembled, then frozen to be cooked later.  I am fine with the cooking time in most situations anyway.  I can do other things while that's going on.  It's all the prep work that keeps me in the kitchen for so long, along with all of the dishes it dirties.

I warned Joe that Sunday, I would need him to be free to help out.  Mostly to hang out with the munchkin and to assist me some.  Some of the stuff I was making required chicken stock and mayo, both of which I was running low on, so Friday night I did a little prep work.  I boiled a chicken for a couple of hours with some veggies and herbs.  I then pulled all of the meat off and shredded it.  I put the bones, skins and other parts back in the pot and set it to simmer overnight.  I packed the shredded chicken up in half pound increments to be frozen and stored for later use.

Then, I made some mayonnaise and let it sit out on the counter overnight to ferment.  I have a new recipe!!

Joe also helped me to patty and season 4 lbs of hamburger meat to put in the fridge for burger nights.  Everything is labeled with the name of the food, the date and any cooking instructions.

Saturday morning, I turned of the stove and let the stock cool for a couple of hours.  Joe slept in and I had breakfast with the munchkin.  Anytime I pick up my phone, she usually wants me to take a picture of her. I still can't believe this little girl is two years old!

We went to visit my mom, then I needed a couple of things from the grocery store.  After we got back home and I put the munchkin down for a nap, I strained the stock through a cheesecloth and put it into mason jars to be stored in the freezer.  I would have rather stored them all in smaller mason jars, 2 cups each, but I had to work with what I had.  I decided to put 3 cups into quart jars (you need to leave room for expanding when freezing) and then make little 1 cup ones in tupperware for supplementing. I am slowly turning all of my storage containers over to glass ones, but it's expensive so it's taking a while.  I filled one mason jar with 4 Cups and set it in the fridge for sunday.

Then Sunday was everything else.  I think I may have gotten a little overzealous, and will probably not take on so much in the future, but with Joe's help we still got everything done.  It also would have helped if I had started before noon, but whatever.  I may have stayed out a little too late the night before hanging out with my girl Stacy and her hubby Allen.  She just had her baby a month ago and it was their anniversary, so obviously we haven't been out together in a very long time!  We had a blast!

Back to Sunday morning....  I was multiplying each of the recipes to make at least 4 meals for us, with enough to have leftovers for our lunches the next day.  Plus I had just made the shredded chicken Friday night and pattied all the hamburgers.  This all together makes a total of atleast 28 meals with leftovers for lunches... thats atleast 56 meals!  The sides will be whipped up that evening, usually a steamed veggie or a salad.  On the evenings we want to have something different, I plan on making extra batches to freeze for another night's meal.  This way I will have a constant stock of food going in as we take food out.

My list of things to make Sunday:

  • Chili - Recipe later this week
  • Meatloaf 
  • Creamy Red Pepper Sauce (awesome topping for grilled chicken, seafood or as a pasta sauce)
  • Orange Teriyaki Chicken (recipe from Don't Panic - Dinners in the Freezer)
  • Salmon Patties - I made a few minor changes from the original recipe and pattied them out to be fried in grassfed butter on the stove instead of wrapped in bacon and cooked in the oven.  Although that way is amazingly delicious too!  Thanks again Sarah for sharing this yummy recipe, we love it!
  • Tartar Sauce
  • Ranch Dressing

I never made it to the tartar sauce and ranch dressing, but these are easy things to whip up now that I have a bunch of homemade mayo made up.

First I got all of the non-refrigerated items out and lined them up on the counter.

I had mapped out my plan that morning, making a list of everything I was going to do in order.  First on the list was to chop and prep all of the vegetables.  I divided them up as I went into bowls for each recipe.

Then I threw 4 pounds of hamburger meat into a big stock pot, along with onions and peppers to start them cooking.  I put onions and garlic in another pot to start my red pepper sauce.  Then some onions and garlic in another pan for my salmon patties.

Seems like so many good things start with onions and garlic sauteed in butter!

At this point, the munchkin went down for her nap and Joe came in to help me out.  He ended up pretty much taking over the chili, which was awesome.  I had marked up my recipe, multiplying everything by 4 to make it super easy for him.

While the chili and pepper sauce were cooking, and after my onion and garlic mix cooled, I threw that in with the other ingredients to make the salmon patties, I assembled them all and put them in ziploc bags, trying to press out as much air as possible.  These will be thawed, thrown on the stove top to be fried in butter, and eaten with homemade tartar sauce.

Next I started on the meatloaves.  I was making 4 of them, so this required 8 lbs of hamburger meat.  I was going to divide it all up into 2 bowls since they couldn't all fit into one, and then make 2 loaves from each bowl of ingredients.  I wasn't thinking straight and took out a 4 lb package and divided it in half for each bowl. Uh oh...

It was about dinner time, so Joe cleaned and trimmed 20 boneless, skinless chicken breasts for me.  Four for dinner (and me and the munchkin's lunch the next day) and the rest for the orange teriyaki chicken.  He threw the chicken on the grill and I made some sweet peas.  We covered the chicken with some of the red pepper sauce.  It was so good!  I am glad I made so much of it... about 8 cups.

After dinner was done, I finished assembling the meatloaves and thought they were a little smaller then usual, but didn't think too much of it.   I then made the Orange Teriyaki sauce and poured it over the chicken in ziploc bags separated for four meals.  When we pull them out later, they will thaw and then we will just toss the marinade and throw then on the grill or into the oven.

At this point it was time for the munchkin's bath.  Since it now takes two of us to give her a bath, because of her new fear of them (I am still going to post about this later), we had to put a halt to everything.  After her bath,  I read her a book and put her to bed.  As I was reading her a book, I suddenly realized why there was still 4 lbs of ground beef left in the fridge.  I had only used half of the amount I was suppposed to in the meatloaves.  ARGH!!!

After tucking her in, I went to the kitchen, pulled out all the meatloaves from the freezer, dumped 2 in each big bowl and added 2 lbs of meat to each bowl.  I mixed them all together and reassembled my loaves all over again.  That sucked.  Plus the cheese wasn't rolled up neatly in the middle anymore.  It was more crumbled and mixed in throughout.  Atleast I realized it before they were frozen.  Or before we went to cook them.  It's still super annoying to have wasted so much time on an already jam packed day.

Then I packed up the rest of the red pepper sauce to go into the freezer.  Isn't it a pretty color?

The chili was still way too hot (it had simmered for several hours), so I left that for right before bed.  I had tried to clean as much as I could throughout the day as I went, but there was still a pretty big mess.  I cleaned it all up and hopped into the shower.  Actually, there wasn't much hopping going on.  I was pretty exhausted!  My back was also a little sore from standing in the kitchen all day.  After my shower, it was already 9:30. I hung out with Joe for a little while, finished packing up our lunches for the next day and then the chili was finally cooled.

We put 8 cups into each ziploc bag and set out enough for dinner the next night.  I laid the ziploc bags into cake pans to freeze them flat.  After they are frozen, I can stack them all in the freezer and save more space.

I felt good about the day.  Although It was alot of work and very tiring, I am really looking forward to having more time in the evenings to hang out with the munchkin. With no prep work for the meal, we will have alot less dishes to do too.  I will still be making some non-frozen meals throughout the week and I am going to double or triple some of them and freeze the rest to add to my stockpile.  This way I won't have to make as much all in one day again.

Here's a peak into the middle part of my freezer on my side by side refrigerator.  Above this is one shelf that I am using to store all of the one cup chicken stock dishes.  On the top shelf in the pic, you can see two of the meatloaves and the bags of chicken in the orange teriyaki marinade.  Below that is the hamburgers and salmon patties, along with my ice cream maker bowl.  I have saved some room for the chili once its frozen flat in the cake pans in the deep freezer downstairs.

My goal is to eventually have all glass containers to store everything in.  Right now, I only have enough to rotate for our lunches so that we can heat them up in the toaster oven to eat and to store leftovers in the fridge.  I will have to start stockpiling more of them for storing food in the freezer.

On the bottom half of the freezer, I have my chicken stock lined up on the left, the shredded chicken and the red pepper sauce.  Below that are some of my baking supplies, and on the bottom is a big drawer where I keep any frozen vegetables or fruit and there's usually a loaf of the Trader Joe's Sprouted Whole Wheat bread in there too.

I did put two of the meatloaves in the deep freezer downstairs.  I think I could have made everything fit in here if I had wanted to, but I am glad I didn't have to.  This is totally possible without a deep freezer or extra freezer space somewhere.  You just have to pack everything up in space saving ways and the heavy duty ziploc freezer bags help out alot with that.

Honestly, I am not sure why I didn't do this sooner.  I am thinking this is the way I am going to be doing things from now one.  I am really looking forward to more relaxed evenings now!

This post is part of Real Food Wednesday The Pennywise Platter,  Monday Mania and Fight Back Friday.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Munchkin Turns Two!

The last week has been kinda crazy and a bit stressful for me.  The munchkin turned two last friday.  I still can't believe that.  We had her party on Saturday.  The weather turned out beautiful and despite me putting off everything until the day of, things actually went pretty smoothly.

Last Wednesday night, I started feeling a sore throat.  I hoped it would go away but it progressively got worse the next day and by Thursday night it was so painful to swallow that I was certain I had strep.  I reluctantly made a doctor's appointment Friday morning and headed in.  Thankfully, there was no strep, but there was some other sort of bacterial infection and he assured me that once I started the antibiotics, I wouldn't be contagious by the time the party rolled around at 4:00 the next day.

I hate taking antibiotics.  Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and do it though.  I had lots of people coming to my house the next day, including little childrent, and I didn't want to get anyone else sick. So I doubled up on my probiotics and cracked open the Z-Pack.  I laid in bed all day, got some rest and hoped I would still be able to get everything done for the party in time.

Late Friday night, I started feeling a little better and went ahead and made some of the food.  I whipped up the cheese ball, the roasted red pepper hummus and cut up all the veggies.   Joe decorated the kitchen.  I really wish I had taken a pic.  It was really cute.  He hung streamers and curled ribbons to hang around the lights in the kitchen.  He really stepped up and did alot since I wasn't feeling so good.  I decided to put off the cupcakes and the rest of the food until the next day.

Never put off baking and decorating your cupcakes or cake until the day of the party.

Talk about stressful!  The party was at 4:00am.  I started making my cupcakes at 10:30am.  I was making alot of cupcakes, plus a double layer 6" cake to sit on the top of the cupcake tower.  The batter had to be mixed, then everything baked, then cooled, iced and decorated.  Luckily I had already made the cream cheese icing the night before.  That helped a little, but not much.  I ran out of cupcake liners since I had ruined the first batch.  I made Joe drive to my mom's (less then a mile away) to pick up more.  Then as soon as he pulled into the driveway, I sent him right back to pick up some extra pans so I could rotate the baking more quickly.  I ended up undercooking the first batch and all of them fell in the middle.  I should have did one last practice run to perfect the cooking temp and time.  The muffins were still very warm when I was putting them on the cupcake tower and the icing wasn't as fluffy as it should have been because of it.

Oh well, atleast they tasted good, even if they looked a little sad.  Luckily I was putting a little Care Bear on each one, so it almost looked like they were supposed to be sitting down in the cupcake.  Almost.

I also had Joe pick up the munchkin from my moms, pick up one of her gifts from a coworker's house that had brought him home to her house because it had been delivered on Friday while I was gone.  I also sent him to the store to pick up all of the stuff I remembered at the last minute, like drinks for everyone.  That would have sucked if no one had anything to drink.

About an hour before everyone was supposed to arrive, I finally had the food all ready to go and could finally get myself ready.  I managed to get almost everything done in time, and anything that I didn't, no one knew any better anyway.

It had been raining all morning and the sun came out and started shining right before the party.  The temperature was perfect, which was awesome since the kids could run around outside.   I realized after everyone started arriving that I hadn't eaten anything since breakfast right when I woke up.   I started shoving food into my mouth immediately before I got the shakes.

The munchkin was a hot mess for most of her party.  She was crabby and on edge and most of it was due to all of the other kids running around and playing with her toys.  Especially the boys.  I had a couple people come up to me and tell me that it looked like one of the boys was purposely trying to pull the cabinets off of her new kitchen.  She was probably about to break down from an anxiety attack.  That girl is very particular about her toys!

She perked up some after her she opened up some new gifts though.   Notice the look of concern on her face though in most of these pictures below.  I wonder if she is already concerned about the boys playing with her new toys.

Then we went on to sing Happy Birthday and blow out her candle.

Afterwards we all hung outside and let the kids run around.  Nothing cheers her up and lifts her spirits like being outside.  She had blast.

She was definitely worn out by the end of the evening.  She reached for my dad and snuggled up to his shoulder.

I don't think anyone was as exhausted as me though.   It was a fun party though, and it was great to see everyone and visit.   The munchkin has some new awesome toys to play with and lots of new zippered and footed PJs!

My little girl is two years old now.  Two years old!  She really is becoming more and more like a little girl and further and further away from being a baby.  She talks so much and we can even have little conversations now.  I just can't believe how quickly she learns things and picks up on stuff.  It is so amazing watching a little person grow up.  She is so sweet and polite (most days), saying thank you and you're welcome.  She is great with other kids and loves to share.  She has been really into pretend play and LOVES the new kitchen set we got her.  I also bought her little wooden fruits and vegetables that she can "slice" in half with a little wooden knife.  She spends forever cutting them up and putting them back together again.

She is also becoming very independent and wants to do more and more things on her own.  This can sometimes lead to tears and fits when she can't always have her way.  She definitely doesn't like to be told she can't do something!  She bounces back fairly quickly though and usually doesn't think much about it after that.  She HAS to buckle her own seat belt now in the car seat.  If I buckle it before she has a chance to, she gets soooooo upset about it.  It's pretty funny.

Sunday was spent recovering and running some errands.  Sunday night the munchkin decided she was deathly afraid of taking baths, so we have been having fun with that one.  More on that later.  She also has been backed up for most of the past week and that also has her crabby and not feeling so good.  I found out Joe was giving her too many cheese sticks and those, along with other servings of dairy throughout the day, I'm pretty sure are the culprits.

Tuesday, however things finally seemed to be getting back to normal.  After a week of a crazy crabby toddler and being sick and stressed, we had an amazing day.  The munchkin was back to her sweet lovey self and I was feeling so much better too.

Our bath situation seems to be getting somewhat better too, but that is an entire post of its own, so more on that later.

In the meantime, I am going to try to figure out how the heck I have a two year old all of a sudden!!