Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Staple Recipe: Slow-cooker Applesauce

I'm writing this post in a hospital waiting room. My husband is finally getting the shoulder surgery he's been wanting to have for several years. His shoulder dislocates fairly regularly and it prevents him from doing many of the activities that he enjoys -- even picking up Luc certain ways. So it's a good hospital visit today, but that doesn't make it any less long!

Applesauce is a baby and toddler staple. From the age of 6 months, you'll be going through a lot of this stuff! The slow cooker makes preparing a big batch of applesauce so easy and convenient. You can then freeze it in whatever quantity works for you. You could use baby cubes for infant-sized portions and one-cup container for toddler, child, and adult portions.

Not only is it a great healthy snack on its own but it makes a great mixer for baby food purees, especially mixed with meats and vegetables that baby may find less appealing on their own. I will be posting a great puree recipe in the coming weeks that features this pre-made applesauce but really so many things taste great with the addition of a bit of sweet apple. It also great to have on hand in the freezer to bake with or to use as a dip for waffle strips.                                                

Slow-cooker Applesauce

- 3lbs  Macintosh apples
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
-  2 quarts (8 cups) water
- 1/2 cup water, apple juice, or cider

In a very large bowl mix the 2 quarts of water with the apple cider vinegar.

Peel, core and quarter the apples, placing them in the bowl of water as you go, making sure they get submerged (this step prevents browning).

Once you are done cutting the apples, drain them well and add them to a slow-cooker (at least 4-quart capacity) and add the 1/2 cup water, juice or cider.

Cook on high for 3 hours. At the end of that time giving the apples a good stir will make them dissolve into applesauce.

* This recipe is for unsweetened applesauce. If you'd like to sweeten it for kids over one year or yourself, replacing 1/4 cup of the water for 1/4 cup pure maple syrup (a darker grade is best) results in a seriously delicious applesauce free of refined sugar.

* Makes approximately 3 cups.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Things They Say

I'm home with Luc because he's sick today (oh, the petri dish that is daycare...) and for lunch I made him a tuna  salad sandwich and I put a couple sweet gherkin pickles on the side. He's had them before but it's been quite some time and when I called him over for lunch he looked at them and said, "Ewww, doggy's poop!". He then proceeded to make grunting sounds and said "I no eat poop" and threw them on the floor. No explaining that they were pickles and edible would make him believe it!

Lunchbox Labels

Luc has a cousin today! He is very cute and has the most adorable chubby cheeks. It's just too bad that he was born halfway around the world in Australia so we only get to look at photos of the little guy instead of getting to meet him in person. :( I'm happy for my sister-in-law and her husband on their new family but it's also sad that we live so far away from one another that our children will never really get to know each other. Skype and email are wonderful,  but they don't really make up for visits only being possible once every few years. Oh well, we'll do the best we can to keep our families connected!

When Luc started daycare, everything was so last minute since I only had two weeks (!) to find a daycare and get everything ready before I started my new job. I ordered some Name Bubbles to label his clothing (which have been absolutely fantastic because they stay put in the wash but are removable is you want to sell your kids' clothes or use them for your next child). Somehow, while I was ordering however I completely forgot to order labels to put his name on lunch containers.

First I tried writing his name in permanent marker. That turned out decidedly ... non-permanent. I tried using a regular label maker to make printed labels. It was easy and they looked great but they just really didn't stand up to the dishwasher and I didn't want to be always stuck hand-washing everything. I then tried using my old-school embossing label-maker like this one, and it worked great! The two Lock and Lock food containers below were labeled about 5 months ago and have been used virtually every day and they still are perfectly legible.

So while, the personalized Name Bubbles are really cute, this not only saved me $20 but I can use the label-maker for other projects. Yay for multipurpose! Also, I rather like the retro look of them anyhow.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Indian-Inspired Chicken Soup

This soup is just a little more work that most of the recipes that I post here, but as long as you have an immersion blender (and you should, they're awesome! I have this one and I love it) then it's really not a big deal.

This recipe came about by taking my favorite parts of several real Indian soup recipes and combining them. The result is that this "franken-soup" is no longer very authentic (hence, 'Indian-Inspired) but it's really very tasty and wonderfully warming for fall and winter.

Keeping the chicken in quite large chunks to start makes it easier to remove the chicken when it's time to puree the soup. Then you can quickly chop the cooked chicken and add it back into the soup as more manageably sized pieces. This recipe is suitable for munchkins over 10 months.

Indian-Inspired Chicken Soup

- 1 cup uncooked chicken breast,  large dice
- 1/4 cup onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup carrot, finely chopped
- 2 tart apples (or if sweet, omit sugar), pared and chunked
- 1/4 cup butter or ghee
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp curry powder (preferably Madras)
- 6 cups low sodium or homemade chicken broth
- 1 tomato, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 med green pepper, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp flat leaf parsley, minced
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/8 tsp ground mace (or substitute a pinch of ground nutmeg)
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 cup cooked Basmati rice

Cook chicken, onion, celery, carrots, and apple in melted butter un a large saucepan over medium heat until softened and fragrant.

Stir in flour and curry powder and cook 1 minute. Gradually add chicken broth, stirring constantly. Stir in all remaining ingredients. Cook, covered, over low heat until chicken is tender, roughly 20 minutes.

Remove and reserve chicken with a slotted spoon. Fish out and discard the cloves.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until it is smooth (Alternatively you can work in batches in your blender or food processor). Give the chicken a rough chop to make the pieces bite-sized. Stir in cooked rice.


* Serves 4-6

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

10 Favorite Recipes of 2011

This is a list of the Munch recipes from 2011 that I find myself coming back to again and again. The one thing that they all have in common is that they are drop dead easy to make and always welcome at the table or in the lunchbox.

What was your favorite Munch recipe of 2011?

1. Chocolate Raspberry Oatmeal
2. 50/50 Bread
3. Chocolate Tofu Pudding
4. Blueberry Banana Mini-Muffins
5. Senegalese Peanut and Tomato Soup
6. Whole Poached Chicken
7. Luc's Favourite Tomato Sauce
8. Baked Coconut Shrimp
9. Curried Chicken and Cheese Balls
10. Honeyed Blueberry Yogurt

New Year, New Posts

I have decided to resurrect this blog! I'm not sure if any of my readers are still out there, but I'm very excited about reconnecting with you and anyone new stumbling onto here! I won't be posting as frequently as I used to, but at the very least I will have a new post up here every Tuesday.

I  hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and is looking forward to a Happy New Year!
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