Friday, August 31, 2012

House Change: Living Room

As Kellan gets older we are having to make small changes to the house here and there.  When he was a newborn, pretty much the only thing that changed about the living room was finding a spot for his swing.  When he started having tummy time and playing on his activity mat, I kept a big blanket in the middle of the floor for him to lie on.  I kept a basket of toys and a basket of books in the living room so that I could pull a few out for him.  I would read books to him and put them right back in the basket.  His toys would stay right there on the blanket because he couldn't go any farther himself.
I still had the blanket in the floor up until last week when I realized it was totally unnecessary because he never, ever stays on it.  He is EVERYWHERE and his toys and books are everywhere.  I find toys in the guest bedrooms and bathroom, kitchen, on the other side of the fireplace, our bedroom, our bathroom, my closet, Michael's closet...literally ALL. OVER. THE. HOUSE.  So there is zero point in keeping the blanket in the middle of the floor.  He sits or lays wherever he pleases, hardwood, carpet, or tile...its all fine to him.  And toys and books definitely do not get put back in the baskets at the end of the day unless Michael or I do it.  By the end of the day, both baskets are usually empty with their contents strewn all around.
Now that he has entered the pulling up stage, he is trying out the fireplace, the bar stools, the coffee table, the couch, love seat, and chair, the oven door, the refrigerator, and even the dishwasher.  Most of those objects cannot be helped and I just have to keep my eye on his little busy body.  The main change that we needed to make was our glass top coffee table that has 4 sharp corners and metal legs that Kellan likes to climb under and get stuck.  The coffee table is also where his book basket is, where our laptop stays, and where we sit to watch TV, read, and eat (we really need to change that too) so Kellan is always hanging around it trying to stay close to us.
This is how the living room starts out at the beginning of the day (with the old coffee table)

Toy and book baskets neatly arranged...

This is what happens while we eat dinner...we have a little visitor at our feet and under the table

Where he usually gets mad because he gets stuck and can't figure out how to get out

This time he was just happy to play and look up at our plates but he usually gets mad or tries to pull up on the sides.  We really needed something that was OK for him to pull up on and that I wasn't worried he was going to hurt himself on by falling up against it.

So here is the living room after our new ottoman.  It matches our other furniture perfectly.  It is soft sided so now I don't worry about Kellan clinging to the sides of it or trying to stand up.

I think he approves!

And here is our living room after a typical day with Kellan.
Michael came home one day and said "Oh my gosh!  Did he do all of this?!"  I just looked at him.  Well it certainly wasn't me!  He may be little but he can make quite a a very short amount of time. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Coconut Custard

I mentioned in an earlier post that since Kellan is 10 months old now, there were some new foods that I wanted to add to his diet.  In the Super Nutrition for Babies book that I'm reading, I found a recipe for Coconut Custard.  For the recipe you need coconut milk that has no extra additives.  We looked everywhere and could not find JUST coconut milk.  The book also offered directions for making your own coconut milk from an actual coconut.  I couldn't imagine that it would be too difficult so we bought a coconut to give it a try.
Saturday afternoon while Kellan was taking a nap I decided to break into this coconut.  Wow.  It. was. a. job!!!  When Michael got home I had managed to break the coconut in half but didn't know what to do from there.  Lucky for me, but unfortunately for you, I didn't take any pictures of my struggle with this coconut.  Being the  ridiculous resourceful person that I am, I used a kitchen mallet to beat tap a butterknife into the coconut shell.  Once it was far enough into the center, I pulled the knife out and then drained the coconut water into glass jars to store it.

Coconut water is an excellent drink for babies due to its lauric acid content. It contains natural electrolytes and is great at preventing dehydration and helping to treat diarrhea. 
Thankfully Michael got home and helped me separate the shell from the meat inside.

This is what the pieces look like separated from the outer shell.  Once they are out I used a regular peeler to remove the brown inner shell from the white coconut meat.

Once the coconut meat is broken up into smaller pieces, we put them into the blender.

And blended them up.  After they are well grinded we spooned some of the coconut into a cheese cloth.

Michael squeezed the coconut (wrapped in the cheesecloth) over the measuring cup to squeeze out all of the milk.  This was also quite a job.  I know...we're crazy.  Or I'm crazy and I'm slowly making him crazy too :)

Now that I actually have the coconut is the recipe for Coconut Custard from Super Nutrition for Babies.

1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup melted butter (cooled)
1/4 of a mashed well ripe banana
3 large egg yolks

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.  Go ahead and melt the 1/4 cup of butter so that it will be cooled when you are ready to mix it in.

Mix together 1/2 cup coconut milk, 1/4 of a mashed banana, and 3 egg yolks

Make sure your melted butter has completely cooled.  When cooled add it to your mixture and stir in until blended.  *Note* If you add the butter while it is hot it will "scramble" the eggs...I may or may not know this from personal experience.

Use a stick of butter to lightly grease the insides of 4 cupcake wrappers (I did too many, 4 is just right)

Pour your mixture into each wrapper.  The custard doesn't rise so you don't have to worry about saving room at the top.  I filled each wrapper until just below the top.

Next, fill a large pan (big enough that your muffin pan can fit inside) about halfway full of water.  Place the muffin pan inside the pan of water.  This creates a water bath that will make sure the custard cooks evenly.

Bake for 45 minutes

When they are finished baking, take them out to cool.  Once cool, store them in the refrigerator.  You can refrigerate the cups for up to 5 days.

This dish contains lauric acid, enzymes, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals (all from the coconut milk), making it extremely healthy for baby. 

And of course, our little piggy loves it :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Prince George Barbeque

It is not a secret that Michael and I love a good restaurant.  We eat at our share of chain restaurants like Maggiano's, Cracker Barrel, P.F. Changs, Olive Garden, get the idea...but our absolute favorite type of restaurant is the locally owned, hole in the wall kind.  In our experience, and we have A LOT, we have found that these types of restaurants often times have the most unique choices and almost always, fabulous tasting food.  We have also learned not to judge a book by its cover because the most humble, simplest looking restaurants often times have the best food...Prince George Barbecue is a good example.
Prince George Family Barbecue is located in a neighboring county and is about a 30 minute drive from our house.  Michael has eaten lunch there lots of times when Grizzard Construction was working in Prince George County, adding on to a church.  He came home from work many days telling me what a great lunch he had that afternoon.  This was when I was a teacher and had either eaten some leftovers I had packed or had to deal with the consequences of relying on cafeteria food.   Finally one day I asked him if this place was open on weekends or for dinner because I wanted to be able to try it!  How ironic that now that I'm home everyday and can eat lunch anywhere I want, I think I've been out to lunch twice during the week!  Peanut butter and jelly has become my best friend!  Back on topic...
Lucky for me they are open 7 days a week from 6 a.m. to 9 apparently Michael was trying to keep this restaurant to himself!   We have eaten there several times since then for lunch and dinner and each time I have never been disappointed.  They have a big menu that includes beef barbecue, pork barbecue, minced or sliced, and my favorite, pulled chicken barbecue.  Less obvious menu options include, fried chicken, sandwiches, salads, barbecue sauces, specialty peanuts, and desserts available to "eat-in" or purchase to take home.  All of these food choices are well and fine but my favorite, favorite parts of their menu are the "sides" list and their cornbread.  They have a ton of vegetables to choose from and all of them remind me of family pot luck dinners and church Homecoming lunches.  I'm not usually a big cornbread fan, I'd much rather have a biscuit, but they serve the one exception that I've found! 
We had dinner there Sunday night and it was fantastic as usual.  Michael ordered a second piece of cornbread...also as usual.  *As a side note* I found a cornbread recipe on Pinterest a while back that I have made several times and it comes really close to theirs.  I will do a post soon on that recipe for those of you that don't live near enough to visit the restaurant for yourself.  This cornbread is so good, its more like dessert!

Tired little buddy fell asleep in his new car seat on the way there.

Playing with mommy while we wait for our food.

Little giggle box :)

He's gotten good at giving kisses :)
Michael got the minced beef barbecue, butter beans, and sweet potato tots.  I got the pulled chicken barbecue, butter beans, and mashed potatoes.  We both got the cornbread!  You have the choice between cornbread, hush puppies, or a roll...I'm sure you know what we recommend.

Kellan enjoying his homemade sweet potato crackers...fortunately for us he doesn't know what he's missing yet!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Kellan's Sweet Potato Crackers

Kellan is now 10 months old and I am still absolutely loving this book.  It has yet to lead me astray and every time I research some of its suggestions for specific foods, their preparation, and a timeline for when to introduce them, there is a ton of information that backs up their recommendations.  The ladies that wrote this book know their stuff...and its all in one easy to follow book. 
In the 10-12 month section it gives a recipe for Sweet Potato Crackers.  They are great to have on hand for an "on-the-go" snack.  They are super easy to make and much more nutritious than store bought crackers or puffs.  They also are gluten free and salt free.  Yes, they are more time consuming but by now you have all figured out that I'm crazy and love nothing more than spending all of my free time making baby food. :)
Here is the recipe for Sweet Potato Crackers from Super Nutrition for Babies:
1 Egg Yolk
Pinch nutmeg
1/2 cup previously baked sweet potato
2 teaspoons water
1/4 cup coconut flour
Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Ingredients: butter, water, sweet potato, egg yolk, nutmeg, coconut flour

Lightly grease the pan or wax paper (wax paper will make flipping the dough easier)
Mix egg yolk, coconut flour, water, sweet potato and nutmeg together until dry and wet ingredients are well blended

With WET hands mix the ingredients together one final time and form dough into a ball. (You don't want to handle dough TOO much or it will get tough)
Press dough flat to 1/8 inch thickness
Is that 1/8 of an inch?  I don't know!  Next time I will try to get it a little thinner so the crackers will be more crisp.
Set oven to 325 degrees and bake for 15-20 minutes. 

I started out at 15 minutes but put it back in for an additional 5 because the dough was still this dark orange color.  After 5 more minutes it had baked to a light orange color.   Flip and bake the other side for another 15-20 minutes.

The dough should be crispy like crackers.  Mine turned out ok for my first try but I will try to get my next batch more "cracker-like."
Let cool and then cut or break into bite sized pieces...ready for baby to enjoy!

THIS baby definitely approves!  The whole batch is gone in just 3 days of using this as an "on-the-go" snack!