Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day BBQ with Hot Dogs for Adults (and kiddos)

Our Memorial Day BBQ started out at an afternoon at the pool with hot dogs, hamburgers and our favorite family, the Browns.  When Curren got a fever Sunday afternoon, it wasn't looking good for our get together.  We ended up rescheduling and had more hot dogs and hamburgers that we knew what to do with.  

Lucky for us we have  a wonderful group of single (or at least kiddo free) college friends that are always down for BBQ, beers and whatever food we can come up with.  My cousin's lovely girlfriend (and my friend) Vanessa offered to bring goodies we could top our dogs with and dip our sweet potato fries in.  She single-handedly turned our BBQ from boring to delicious with a few simple recipes and she was even willing to share so I could recreate the best hot dog ever!

Hot Dogs (but fancy)

Dogs (we had all beef, natural, uncured, hormone free dogs from Trader Joes)
1 avocado, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 jalapeno diced

1. Dice avocado, onion, tomato and jalapeno (to about pea size) and mix.
2. Grill your dogs
3. Fill your bun with dog and avocado chutney (I guess you can call it chutney because avocado is a fruit) (caramelized onions are also a great addition)
4. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Fries with Aioli

Sweet Potato Fries (Trader Joes)
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup sour cream
1 garlic clove, chopped
Juice of 1/2 small lemon
1/4 tsp of chili powder

1. Mix mayo, sour cream, garlic, lemon juice and chili powder.  Refrigerate and allow flavors to come out.
2. Cook fries and dip!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Alfredo Pasta with Veggies (not pretty but tasty)

I had a craving for Fettuccine Alfredo a few months ago and found this great recipe that is super easy because I don't have to cook the sauce.  I added chicken and veggies to make it a complete and easy meal I can make with no planning and in a small amount of time.


6 oz off pasta (I prefer whole wheat in shapes easy for little ones to pick up)
1/2 cup of half and half, light cream, or whipping cream (I have also used whole milk and it came out fine)
1 tbs of butter
3/4 cup of grated or shaved Parmesan cheese
Cracked black pepper and salt to taste
1/2 cup of peas
1/2 cup of broccoli
1 cup of chicken


1. Cook pasta according to directions
2. Cook chicken.  I season the chicken with salt, pepper and garlic and then heat a tablespoon of olive oil a saute pan.  I cook the chicken and then chop it into pieces Hayden pick up and eat.  You can also use leftover chicken to save on time and cleanup.
3. Steam veggies.
4. Drain pasta and combine cream, cheese, butter and salt and pepper in pan.  Toss in pasta, chicken and veggies.  Allow it to thicken (just a few minutes) and serve.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Motherhood comes with a lot of doubt.  There are three things I have done that I have no regrets or questions about: 
  1. Breastfeeding
  2. Making Hayden's food myself
  3. Teaching Hayden sign language
I think teaching him to communicate his basic needs (and then some) has alleviated a lot of the stress that comes with meal time.  I started signing with Hayden constantly around 6 months and he did his first sign at 9 months, "milk."  I was so happy when he was able to tell me he needed something and eliminated the guess and check that accompanies an infants cries.  Hayden quickly picked up all the signs associated with mealtime, "more," "eat" and "all done."  Being able to communicate allowed Hayden to tell me when he was hungry, when he wanted more of one thing or something different and tell me when he was full.  

Now, he still signs, everything from "eat" to "monkey" and accompanies the signs with words.  He says about 50 words and 10 phrases, I think his success in communicating early has really motivated him to express himself verbally.  I am still working on speaking toddler, I usually have to hear something a few times to know what he is saying, but we are working on it and only getting better as time goes on.

Bye Bye Bottle

Hayden started drinking water out of straw cups around 5 months, so I thought it would be no big deal to give up milk in a bottle.  It ended up being a process that took months, but I wasn't in a hurry.  He was trowing so many temper tantrums, I didn't want to bring on more with this battle.  I held off and now I am happy to say, the sippy beat out the bottle.

The first time I gave Hayden milk in a cup, he looked at me like is was NUTS!  He looked at me like he was saying, "I asked for milk, what the heck is this?"  That was around 12 months, so I held off for a while because I wasn't adamant about him switching.  

By 14 months, I was sick of bottles.  I was tired of cleaning them and I was tired of Hayden asking for milk before food.  I started giving him milk in straw cups at meals to get him used to the idea of milk in a cup.  He was surprisingly okay with it!  After a few weeks, I started giving him milk in a cup when he asked for it outside of meal time, it took a little getting used to but he was eventually okay with that too.  Then, we finally got rid of the bedtime bottle by 17 months and we have been bottle free for 2 months now!  Congratulations Hayden, you're growing up so fast!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


My recipe for spaghetti has evolved over many years and turned into something that combines elements from my grandmother, my mom and my dad.  It has a lot of stuff in it and lots of flavor.  Hayden loves it and cannot get enough.  I have served it to him with many different types of pasta, I started with pasta rings and then graduated to mini cheese ravioli and pesto tortellini (all available at Trader Joes with the other dried pastas).  Spaghetti is a once a week kind of meal in our house that provides lots of leftovers. 

Spaghetti Sauce


2 8oz cans of tomato sauce                 

1 can of diced tomatoes

1 can of tomato paste                                    

1 pkg of Italian sausage

1 med onion, chopped                                    

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 pkg mushrooms, sliced                  

1 cup of red wine

2 teaspoon of basil                                    

1 teaspoon of oregano

½ teaspoon of rosemary                  

½ teaspoon of parsley

¼ teaspoon of thyme                                   

¼ teaspoon of sage

1 bay leaf                                                                        

1 teaspoon of sugar

Salt and pepper


1.      Remove sausage from casing and saute until pink is almost gone.  Add onion, garlic and mushrooms.  Cook until onion is translucent. 

2.     Add tomato sauce, tomatoes and tomato paste.  Rinse cans with water and pour into sauce.  Stir in red wine.  While simmering sauce add spices and sugar.

3.     Simmer, the longer, the better.  (about 40 min)

4.     Taste, add water if necessary.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


I rediscovered meatloaf during my pregnancy.  I ate it around 24 weeks  and couldn't get enough.  I use the Quaker Oats recipe my mom used when I was young, with some variation.  Sometimes I will add bell pepper, chopped celery or pureed carrots.  Hayden loves it, once he ate it so fast he threw up! (not my goal but I guess it was a compliment).  I like this because I mix it, throw it in the oven and then its done in an hour.  Not to mention leftovers are delicious!

1 1/2 pounds of ground beef or turkey
3/4 cup of oats
3/4 cup of chopped onion
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup of ketchup
1 egg lightly beaten
1 tablespoon of worchester sauce
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper

1. Mix ingredients with your hands (don't over mix)
2. Transfer to 8"x8" pan and shape (I make a dome but you can also bake it in a loaf pan or make mini meatloafs in muffin tins)
3. Bake at 350 for 50 to 55 minutes.


Friday, May 1, 2009

Sweet Potatoes vs. Yams

Aside from Thanksgiving, we didn't see sweet potatoes/yams in our house very often (one of the few veggies I can say that about).  I learned about their "super food" status later and after Hayden was born, I knew I wanted them to become a regular part of our diet.  But what's the difference?  Which is better?  I started buying sweet potatoes by the bag or in spears at Trader Joe's and then heard that those were actually yams, this person said sweet potatoes are white.  Confusing huh?  Especially when you see commercial baby sweet potatoes have the rich orange color you are used to seeing.  So I consulted Food Lover's Companion, my go to guide about food.

Sweet Potato:  There are many varieties of sweet potato but the two that are widely grown commercially are a pale sweet potato and the darker-skinned variety Americans erroneously call "yam" (the true yam is not related to sweet potato).  The pale sweet potato has a thin, light yellow skin and pale yellow flesh.  Its flavor is not sweet and after being cooked, pale sweet potato is dry and crumbly, much like a white baking potato.  The darker variety has a thicker, dark orange skin and a vivid orange, sweet flesh that cooks to a much moister texture... Sweet potatoes are high in vitamins A and C.

Yam: Although sweet potatoes and yams are similar in many ways and therefore often confused with one another, they are from different plant species.  In the southern United States, sweet potatoes are often called yams and to add to the confusion, canned sweet potatoes are frequently labeled yams.  True yams, however, are not widely marketed and are seldom grown in the United States.  Though they can be similar in size and shape to sweet potatoes, yams contain more natural sugar and have a higher moisture content.  On the downside, they are not as rich vitamins A and C.

So in case you were as confused as I was, that is the difference.