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Monday, October 31, 2011

First Halloween

I'm a terrible blogger, but I swear I've been making up for it by being a really awesome mom.  I've been soaking up the fun with little E and have been eating boring recipe-less food like my macaroni and cheese all week.

So, to tide you over until I can get some real content for you, here are some cute pictures of the baby.
 Happy Halloween everybody!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

28, Homemade Baby Wipes, and Simple Lives Thursday

Today, I turn 28 years old.
Last year on my birthday I posted about starting my business, Rosie's Best.  Sitting down to write that post, I realized that I'd managed to do something really big every year for the past few, starting with getting my MA and getting married in 2007, buying a home in 2008, adopting my dog in 2009, and then starting Rosie's Best in 2010.
As you know, my life has not exactly slowed down, and 2011 is the year that I became a mother.
One of these years, I'm going to take a break.
Easier said than done, right?  I'm not sure I'll be able to pull it off, because I'm just having too much fun squeezing this much into this short life.

One thing that I was advised *not* to do, in the interest of making my life simpler, was to cloth diaper my baby for the first month of her life.  Everyone told me I'd be in a total fog and wouldn't have any interest or patience for dealing with cloth diapers at this hectic time.  I'm glad I ignored this advice, went with my gut, and bought a handful of Green Mountain prefolds and Thirsties covers  and got started once the meconium had passed.  It has been much easier than I thought it might be, and we've saved a ton of money and trips to the grocery store (not to mention garbage!) since Ellie has a habit of dirtying a diaper moments after I put it on her.

We had been using regular wipes, but after buying our fourth package in less than a month, I decided it was time to try making my own cloth wipes.  
Luckily I had just inherited a serger, which made the whole process faster and easier.  (You can still do this with a regular sewing machine, just use a zig-zag stitch.)  

 I just used a regular wipe as my pattern and cut two pieces for each wipe out of old t-shirts.  You can use darker colors if you're worried about stains, but sun bleaching really works for cloth diapers and wipes. I just serged around each edge.


I think I sewed around 20 for our regular stash.

 Then I figured out how to fold the so the come out of the dispenser like regular wipes.
Start like so, with one wipe half overlapping another on the long side.

 Fold one up half way.
 Place another wipe on top.
 Repeat until you come to the top of the stack.
 Tada!
 Next you'll have to make a wipe solution.  You could easily just use plain water, but most people add a little soap to help it clean better and something to make the wipes softer on babies skin.  Most people use oils for the latter purpose, but since I'm using cloth diapers I wanted to avoid adding oils since they make the diapers less absorbent.  So I used warm water that I boiled and then cooled, a squirt of glycerin, and a squirt of her baby soap from California Baby.  I soaked the stack of wipes and then squeezed out most of the extra liquid, reserving it in a bottle to put on them after I wash.  (You should plan to make new solution every week or so, and keep an eye on your wet wipes for any mold or bad smell.  Alternatively you could keep the wipes dry and just wet them before use.)
Here's a great list of lots of different solution recipes.
We used the same old wipe container and are loving it.
These wipes smell better, cost next to nothing, and go right in the wash with our cloth diapers.
Finally, it's Simple Lives Thursday!  As usual, there are a bunch of great posts in the spirit of consuming less and producing more.  Won't you have a look around and consider sharing  a post?

Featured Posts from Last Week's Submissions

SLT Featured Post Badge

We really enjoy reading your posts each week! Featured post bloggers, please grab the badge above and display it on your site! Link it to one of the host blogs' posts for the specific week that you were featured.

Here are our picks from last week's submissions. Thanks to all who participated -- it is always hard to choose!


1. How I Learned To Let Go Of Fear by The Stockpot. "Now that my children aren't infants anymore, I needed to get out of the "Helicopter Parent" mindset (hovering over the children constantly, over-parenting) and start letting my children and me gain a bit of independence. And so began my journey of letting go of my fear."


2. My Helper by a number of things. "Lilly is one of those children that kind hearted people stare at, smile and say, 'Wow. She sure is a busy one!' Ha. The more I think about it, the more "busy" really does seem to be the right word (and so much nicer than a few others that might apply). She gets into positively everything, and keeping her "busy" is sometimes the only way we can all stay remotely sane."


3. Hard Cider: Part 1 by An Austin Homestead Moved West. "On Tuesday, iIwhipped up a small batch of 'starter' that I used the next day to start some hard cider and get my vinegar going a little more quickly. I'm worried that our apartment is going to be just too cold for fermentation, but I'm not paying a higher electricity bill just to get some hooch and vinegar."

Monday, October 24, 2011

Meatless Busy Mama's Fried Rice

Hello!  Long time no see!
I hope you have been well in the time I've been away taking care of baby girl.  First, I need to give another shout-out and huge gratitude to my guest bloggers, Lindsay,  Branny, Erin, and Christine.  I am so thankful for the time off (I have enjoyed being away from the computer almost too much) and the content they delivered was fantastic, in my opinion.  I hope that you all checked out their blogs and don't be surprised if you see one of their recipes pop up on here sometime soon!
While they were doing all the hard work for me, I was taking care of this little peanut, who is already much bigger than she was when she was born three weeks ago.
It has been a lot of work being this girl's full time milk machine, but I have so loved getting to know her, and my husband as a daddy.  We are enjoying every minute of it, even the fussy, middle of the night, every hour feedings.  When you have a newborn, everyone tells you how tough it's going to be, preparing you for the worst I suppose.  We've done our best to take each moment as it comes and to treat each other with kindness and understanding, and the three of us are feeling great.

We have been lucky enough to have lots of friends and family bring us delicious and nutritious meals during the last few weeks, but I've also been itching to cook again since it makes me feel good.  So, last night we threw together a quick pot of fried rice and topped it with fried eggs.

Busy Mama's Fried Rice
makes enough  to serve 4 as a main dish

2 handfuls (approx 1-1.5 cups) crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 red onion, chopped
1 white onion, chopped
1 shallot, minced,
3 cloves garlic
1 chili (we used jalapeƱo)
3 carrots, diced
2 green bell peppers, diced
1 head bok choy, chopped
1.5-2 c. leftover cooked rice
4+4 eggs
1/2 c. prepared mu-shu sauce
1/3 c. soy sauce
1/2 c. stock
1/4 c. vinegar (white wine or rice wine is best)
generous dose of freshly ground black pepper

Begin by prepping all your veggies (or having your partner prep them while you hold the baby)
We did the garlic and chili in the mortar and pestle.
Heat some vegetable oil in the bottom of a large pan or dutch oven over medium high heat.
Add the garlic and chili and stir, being sure the garlic doesn't burn.  Cook for just a few seconds.  Then add all the vegetables except the mushrooms.  Cook in the oil until the carrots are slightly softened and the onions are translucent, 3-5 minutes.
Then, add the liquids and the mushrooms and turn up your heat until the liquid simmers.  Reduce until it's almost as thick as you'd like it to be, another 3-5 minutes.  Then add your rice, stir to combine and just warm up the rice.
While your vegetables are cooking, in a separate pan, take four of the eggs and beat them with a little milk or water and salt and pepper.  Scramble them in a bit of butter, remove from the pan, and chop into small pieces.  Add to the rice after removing it from heat.
Finally, fry up one egg per person and top the rice.  (Here's how I fry an egg, but now I use cast iron instead of non-stick.)
Keep the yolk runny if you can!
I have a fussy baby to attend to, but know that I've missed you and am very glad to be back to posting!  Have a great week!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Guest Post: Lindsay's No-Knead Bread and Simple Lives Thursday

Hello, friends! I’m Lindsay, the voice behind Life and Kitchen, and I’m pumped that Alicia went and had a baby (hi, Eleanor!) because that means that I get a chance to share Jim Lahey's no-knead bread recipe with you. And let’s be honest: the first year of motherhood can use a break from kneading. I just finished up the first year of life with my daughter and it was beyond anything I could have imagined (both joyfulness and sleepiness!). I started Life and Kitchen just about two years ago as a diary of sorts to chronicle, well, my life and kitchen. Feel free to stop by and check out the adventures that I’ve been lucky enough to experience.

I’ve made this bread a few times in the past, and it has always worked out well. Until, of course, this past week when I promised Alicia that I would write a blog post and experienced dead yeast (that sounds so gruesome), a too-cold kitchen, and – uhhh – forgetting that the bread is done rising. Did I mention that I have a one-year-old? She’s a bit distracting. But fear not! 9 cups of wasted flour later, I finally made a delicious, warm loaf of bread. I can assure you that this bread really isn’t as difficult as I made it! I’m looking forward to trying the speedy no-knead bread, too. That one takes less time, but this one is nice because you can prep it right before bed and have it for dinner the next day. It does most of the rising while you’re at work – how convenient!
No-Knead Bread

3 cups flour
1.5 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1 ½ - 1 5/8 cups lukewarm water

In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 1/2 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Add another 1-2 tablespoons water if necessary. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours,
preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (I used a dutch oven) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.


Source: Mark Bittman, originally from Jim Lahey

Featured Posts from Last Week's Submissions

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We really enjoy reading your posts each week! Featured post bloggers, please grab the badge above and display it on your site! Link it to one of the host blogs' posts for the specific week that you were featured.

Here are our picks from last week's submissions. Thanks to all who participated -- it is always hard to choose!


1. Coconut Cream Chocolate Fudge by The Coconut Mama. "I love fudge. But this, this is different than any fudge I’ve ever had. It's like eating a dense fudgy brownie." We're game!


2. Welcome Fall With Edible Decorations by Green Backs Gal. "Being frugal and green I also like my Fall Decorations to be natural and practical, so I’ve decorated with edible decorations!" Sounds good to us!


3. Learning to Make Milk Kefir by Butter Believer. "Delicious dairy cultured with these curious little clusters of “grains” I kept hearing about -- I had been dying to get my hands on some for quite a while. This is a must-make staple of a Real Foods diet." We agree!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Meatless Guest Post: Branny's Collard and Rice Casserole

Hi. I'm Branny from Branny Boils Over. I have been a fan of Culinary Bliss for a long time and am thrilled to share a recipe with you guys. First, how about an introduction? I've been food blogging since 2009. I started blogging the vegetarian meals I made for my family and how I adapted them to my husband's meat-loving preferences. Push came to shove and after 6 years of being a vegetarian I started eating meat again. So what you'll find on the blog these days are meals heavily skewed toward meatless with a few healthy dishes that contain meats thrown in. In 2011, my husband and I also moved from Charlotte to a rural town in South Carolina to live the dream of owning a horse farm. It has been quite an adventure and I keep track of all the goings-on in my horse blog, From Hey to Horses.

I heard Paula Deen on NPR the other morning when I was driving to work. She was praising Southerners for all the vegetables we eat. She recited quite a list of many dishes (that I'm not sure I'd consider 'vegetable heavy' but whatever) such as collard greens, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, and lima beans. The interviewer astutely recognizes Paula's tendency to cook vegetables in an unhealthy rendition and asked if it was possible to make these same vegetables shine without butter, lard, and bacon grease. In short, her answer was no.


Hold it right there, Lady! Just because you can't pull it off doesn't mean I can't! I'd invite her over for dinner right this minute and show her how healthy cooking with traditionally Southern ingredients can be.

This dish was served as a side dish but I don't see why it can't be served as a main course: chickpeas, collards, brown rice, and cheese all combine to make it quite filling.


It would be a fantastic dish to take to a neighbor or potluck and the leftovers are as delicious as the first day's meal. The original recipe called for kale, but I used collards, so feel free to use either.

Collard and Rice Casserole (a moosewood recipe adapted from Cate's World Kitchen)
3 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1.5 cups chick peas
1 tbsp butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cups chopped greens
1 tsp salt
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp mustard
1/2 cup chopped almonds
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup grated Swiss cheese, divided

Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish or 13 x 9 pan.

Heat the butter in a deep skillet. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 6 minutes, or until the onion is soft. Add the greens , salt and garlic and cook another 6-8 minutes, until the greens are wilted and tender.

Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the rice, greens, chickpeas, nutmeg, cayenne, mustard, half the almonds, eggs, milk, and half the cheese. Mix well, then pour into casserole dish.

Top with remaining cheese and sunflower seeds. Bake for about 35 minutes, until beginning to brown on top.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Simple Lives Thursday and Guest Post: Erin's Apple Butter

Hello, I am Miss Nirvana of Creating Nirvana. I am writing a guest post for Alicia while she recovers from having her baby. Congratulations, Alicia!

I am homeschooling mom of two wonderful children, Miss Bubbles (21 months old) and Little BBQ (almost 5 years old.) I work hard in the kitchen to feed my family healthy and nourishing meals and a few treats along the way. We are avid canners and work very hard during summer and early fall to can both our own garden produce and local produce that we do not grow ourselves. Every year this leaves us with a pantry full of wonderful food. So far this year we have canned over 500 jars of food ranging from corn, jelly, jam, marmalades, fruit butters, salsa, carrots, peaches, tomato sauce, broth, spreads, pie filling, fruit syrups, juices, and soups. Our food buying strategy is to preserve food during its peak season and then during the cold winter months we enjoy all of our hard work. During winter we focus on schooling Little BBQ and enjoying our little family. You can visit my cooking blog at Creating Nirvana or you can visit my homeschooling blog at Nirvana Homeschooling. My cooking blog is full of canning recipes and recipes that I find interesting and good from all over the world. We are eclectic eaters. My homeschooling blog is a place where I document my adventures in homeschooling our little family. Sometimes I fill it with neat activities that I did with my kids and other times I fill it with just journal entries.
When I decided to write a guest post for Alicia, I first thought that I would write about something that we are canning right now which isn’t difficult with apples, grapes, beans, carrots, squash, and beans all being in season right now, but I decided to do something a little different and focus on what do with your pantry full of goodies. I decided to hone in on apple butter because it seems like everyone has a jar of apple butter in their pantry right now. Maybe you received a gift of some apple butter but you have no idea what to do with it. With fruit butters you are not just limited to spreading the fruit butter on a piece of toast. They are actually a lot more versatile than just a condiment. I have found fruit butters to be wonderful flavorings in muffins or as I will show you in bread pudding. Bread pudding is wonderful because you can take a stale loaf of bread and make it useful again. Instead of lathering the bread with butter to make the bread soft and moist again I use apple butter which gives the bread pudding a wonderful injection of flavor. You can substitute the apple butter for any type of fruit butter that you have sitting in your kitchen. I make this bread pudding in a 3 quart slow cooker on a cold day while the oven is usually occupied by pot roast or a baked chicken.




Apple Butter Bread Pudding


Ingredients (serves 6) from my own kitchen
½ loaf of stale French bread, chopped
3 apples, cored and chopped (I used sweet red apples)
½ cup raisins
½ pint jar of apple butter or other fruit butter of choice
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla
Directions
1. Place the French bread, apples, raisins and apple butter in the crockpot and stir well.
2. In a small bowl, beat the eggs, milk, and vanilla together. Add the liquid mixture to the crockpot and stir well.
3. Place the lid on the crockpot and cook on low for 3 hours. The bread pudding is done when you can insert a toothpick into the center of the bread pudding and it comes out clean. Serve warm.



Featured Posts from Last Week's Submissions

SLT Featured Post Badge

We really enjoy reading your posts each week! Featured post bloggers, please grab the badge above and display it on your site! Link it to one of the host blogs' posts for the specific week that you were featured.

Here are our picks from last week's submissions. Thanks to all who participated -- it is always hard to choose!
1. How I Replaced Refined Sugar In Our House by Jo's Health Corner. How this blogger managed to replace refined sugar with more natural options.


2. Three Layer Apple Tarts by Fresh Healthy Cooking. We love this homemade and healthy version of pop tarts!


3. Raw Fermented Tomato Sauce by The Coconut Mama. A delicious-looking, raw tomato sauce that is fermented for a probiotic boost!


4. Slow Cooker Applesauce by Riddle Love. A dozen Granny Smith apples + a crockpot + 6 hours + a little mashing = easy applesauce.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Guest Post: Christine's Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Hi everybody!  My name is Christine my little blog is Christine's Kitchen Chronicles.  As I'm sure you're aware, Alicia is busily loving on her new bundle of joy so blogging isn't exactly at the top of her list of "to-dos" right now.  So, when she posted a request to a cooking message board that we both frequent looking for folks to help out, I figured why not.




So, a bit about me.  I'm a scientist for a consumer products company by day and food enthusiast...well...all the time, frankly!  Other than cooking my hobbies include spending time with my husband Chris (yep, Chris and Christine...how cute, right?), friends, family, and beagle furbaby Toby.  I also love to travel, dabble in the occasional painting, and am pretty much addicted to Jazzercise (it's totally exercise in disguise and I have to balance all my eating with something!).  







I started my food blog over 2 years ago as a way for me to share recipes with my friends and family.  I NEVER used to cook (which was shameful coming from a family of restaurant entrepreneurs and chefs!) but after getting married, I guess you could say I finally had the need to be "domesticated".  I'm amazed how my blog has grown through the years and am humbled by the fact that I have worldwide readership and some of my recipes are even in the Top 10 Google search results.  




Overall I'd describe my cooking style as eclectic.  I cook a little bit of everything from easy weeknight meals to drool-worthy challenge "projects".  Part of my philosophy is that I rarely cook the same recipe more than once no matter how good it may be.  There are just way too many new ones to try!  For the past two years I've been part of a couple different CSAs in Southwest Ohio and it has been fun trying different recipes with my vegetables.  That's where this recipe that I'm choosing to share with you comes from.  It uses the best of the CSA season, comes from my personal 23 Things in 2011 challenge list, tastes gourmet, and yet is surprisingly simple to make.




Thanks Alicia for featuring me as a guest poster and I hope all of you enjoy and will come visit me on my little corner of cyberspace in the future!







Why oh why was I ever intimidated by butternut squash?  The skin of this squash was much softer than I expected and the shape, once you prepare the ends of the squash, didn't make it difficult to cut either.  I was extremely excited to see this butternut squash show up in my weekly CSA share last week because I knew that meant that I'd have no choice but to face my fear and make something with it.  Even better was it allowed me the opportunity to check another item off my 23 Things in 2011 list.  Double win!



To get the most delicious combination of flavors I decided that I wanted to combine aspects of two different recipes.  I knew that roasting the squash first would bring out its delicious natural flavors better than boiling would.  I also thought that adding apple could bring a new dimension of flavor (and nutrition) to the soup.  Cayenne pepper would bring an unexpected small kick of heat.  And finally, real butter is infinitely better than margarine and a touch of low fat cream cheese would literally smooth out the flavor and texture.  The result?  PERFECTION.  I simply could not get enough of this soup!



I love the flavor and texture of butternut squash and am so excited that I am no longer intimidated by the preparation of it because now the possibilities are endless.  Do you have other recipes to share featuring this lovely squash?  If so I'd love to try them!




Roasted Butternut Squash Soup







Yields: 6 servings




Ingredients



  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 green apple, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 medium (2 pounds) butternut squash
  • 3 cups reduced sodium chicken broth (substitute vegetable broth to make it vegetarian)
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 oz low-fat cream cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Directions



  1. Preheat oven to 400F.  Cut both ends off the squash then cut it in half and scoop out the seeds.  Place squash on a large baking sheet flesh side up and roast in oven for 45 minutes to an hour or until soft.  Peel and chop the squash.  Set aside.
  2. While the squash is roasting, in a large sauce pan, boil onions and apples in broth with marjoram and cayenne pepper.  Simmer for 20 minutes or until soft.
  3. Add chopped squash and low fat cream cheese to the sauce pan and puree all ingredients using an immersion blender.  If you do not have an immersion blender, transfer the contents of the sauce pan and squash into a blender and puree until smooth then return to sauce pan to heat through.  Do not allow to boil.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  If desired, add more water or chicken broth to thin the soup until it reaches your preferred consistency.  Serve hot.



Source: Adapted using a combination of Use Real Butter and All Recipes.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Introducing Eleanor

On Monday, October 3 at 9:36 p.m., Eleanor entered the world.
I'm taking a short break from blogging to soak her in and am thrilled to have a few talented guest bloggers who will be sharing some fresh content with you while I'm in baby land.  I'll be sticking to the Monday/Thursday blogging schedule that I've been on and hope that you enjoy discovering these new blogs and their authors.

Have a great weekend and look for a guest post on Monday!
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