Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Super Bowl/ BBQ Turkey Meatballs.

Its Tuesday already! And I know I'm late with this one bust just by a day!

Super Bowl Sunday has come and gone. And our team sadly didn't win. Jason and I stayed at home to watch the Super Bowl since we have Anna Reese and it was raining here :( I did a Super Bowl themed supper for the game. We had bbq turkey meatballs, spinach, artichoke and sundried tomato pinwheels, and spinach artichoke dip. It was all so good. The pinwheels were a test recipe for a baby shower I am helping with this coming weekend. And they turned out so good. Jason's favorite of course were the meatballs.

And I'm going to share with you the recipe for the BBQ meatballs. These are such an easy recipe as it is so versatile. And buy using ground turkey it cuts down on the fat especially since I add sausage. I have tried them with out sausage and they don't taste as good and end up dry. The key to a good meatball is the sausage!

Here is what you need:

1lb of ground turkey (you can use ground beef or ground chicken)
1lb of sausage. (you can cut this in half if you want).
1/2 cup or so of Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup of oats ( I use quick oats)
seasoning of choice
I used salt, pepper, dried parsley, onion and garlic powder, and red pepper flakes.

BBQ Sauce:

1/2 cup to a cup of Ketchup
Worcestershire sauce ( I eyeball and taste)
brown sugar ( I eyeball and taste)
soy sauce or vinegar ( I eyeball and taste but I use very little)
Salt and Pepper

Heat oven to 350. While the oven is heating mix all ingredients together and roll them into balls. I am OCD and I weigh each meatball out. I weigh mine to 1.3 oz. They look huge but  after they cook fat from the sausage comes out so the end up smaller. And they end up being the perfect size. Or you can use a melon baller to get them all to the same size. I cook mine on a cookie sheet that is lined with parchment paper. They don't stick to the parchment paper. While they are cooking mix bbq sauce or you can use your favorite brand  of bbq sauce. I let them cook about 20 mins then pull them out of the oven.  Next I transfer them to a glass casserole dish and add bbq sauce (most of the time I just mix the BBQ sauce in the dish). Put them back in the oven for about 10 mins or less (just want the bbq sauce to heat up and get all sticky on the meatballs).  Then serve! Yummy!

I use to sear the meatballs in a skillet then put them in a casserole dish and finish cooking in the oven. But I found it to be too much trouble. I like baking them in the oven better.

These make more than enough for two people. So when I pull them out of the oven I only use half to put in bbq sauce. If you want to use all of them in the sauce you might need to add more of each ingredient so they all can get covered. I use the other half the next night. You could easily freeze them too.

The way I used them leftover last night was for mini meatball subs. I used artisan rolls. Split them in half and butter the rolls a little bit then stick them in the oven to melt butter. I heat the meatballs in the mircowave for a minute. I like mayo so I added a little mayo  on the rolls then put the meatballs on one side (bottom) spoon some tomato sauce on top of them. Then on the other half I put slices of cheese. Put in oven so the sauce and cheese can heat. Pull them out and put the sides together. So yummy!

You can use these meatballs for so many dishes!


My plate of food from our Super Bowl Supper!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Homemade Baby Wipes & Face Wipes

Since we have gone to a one income family I am trying to save us money where I can. However I haven't been as gung ho about it until the last few months. I have ventured into making our on bread, granola bars, pizza dough, spray counter cleaner, baby food, and a few other things. I decided to try my hand at making baby wipes and face wipes this past weekend. Both of them don't cost much but they do add up and if I can save $1 or more why not?

These are one of the easiest things I have ever made. Both of them only take 5 things to make them and you probably have all five on hand.

Here is what you need:

  1. 2 cups of water (4 total)
  2. coconut oil (use can use baby oil for the baby wipes)
  3. baby shampoo or your favorite face wash
  4. paper towels (your going to want a soft paper towel. We buy a off brand at Aldi but viva or something soft would work. Remember these are for your baby's bottom or your face)
  5. container ( I used 2 wipe containers)

First you need to cut the roll of paper towels in half. Leave in the cardboard otherwise it will get messy.
Next put the paper towels in the container. Since I used a wipe container I took mine off the roll at this step. Fold the sheets in half but keep them all together (they will look like a accordion). You will tear them apart when you get them out. If you use a tupperware container you won't take the cardboard out until after pouring the mixture on them. And yours will come out like clorox wipes. After that you want to mix 2 cups of water with a good squirt of baby shampoo and a tablespoon of coconut oil. Coconut oil comes in solid form but melts really easily. Just melt you some in the microwave. You don't want the baby wipes to be soapy. If your making face wipes they might take more than one squirt of your face wash. I mixed mine with a whisk to make sure they incorpated good then poured over the paper towels that are in the container. And your done! That easy! Just let them have plenty of time to soak up the mixture before you use.

Cost Break Down:

  • Paper towels ( $5.99 for 8 rolls. 75cents per roll. 1 roll divided =s aproximately 38 cents per container of wipes) Our paper towels are 52 ply. Divided in half makes that 104 wipes.
  • Baby shampoo cost $5.04 ( it cost just cents for the baby wipes. 1 bottle of shampoo last us a couple of months!). We use Johnson's Oatmeal.
  • water basically free
  • coconut oil also just a couple of cents. (If I did my math right it is about 10cents per tablespoon). I Buy LouAna coconut oil. 
It is approximately 60cents to make Anna Reese's wipes. That is about 1cent per wipe. If you buy Pampers sensitive wipes they are 3cents per wipe. Making Anna Reese's wipes saves us about $1.04 per pack of wipes. Some of you might not think that is a lot of savings but over time it is. Especially if you have to use several wipes in one diaper change.

The face wipes cost is going to depend on what face wash you use. My face wash is rather expensive but I love it. I also have super sensitive skin so I have to be very particular about what I use. But If I were to buy face wipes from Murad I would only get a 30 count and it would cost $18. And they also don't sell the line I need in a wipe form. I know I am saving big $ on my face wipes!

Getting ready to pour baby wipe mixture over paper towels.

Finished face wipes.
My favorite face wash is Refreshing Cleanser by Murad.

Of course I had to leave you with a picture of Anna Reese.
This is her playing in her exersaucer on Saturday.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Homemade Baby Food ~ Apples & Pears

If your a friend of mine on Facebook you already know that I make Anna Reese's baby food. I knew before she was born that I was going to at least try to make her food. I hope this helps her not to be a picky eater if she starts out eating foods we eat but just prepared for her throughout her stages. I also thought it was going to be a lot harder than it is. But it is really so easy. I have had several people ask me how I make her food so I thought I would do a couple of posts covering what I do to make each kind. Sorry in advance that this is a lengthy post.

I am going to start off with telling you how I make her apples and pears. You can do them individually or you can put them together. I have made them both ways. And she likes them separate or together. Pears are expensive at the grocery store and luckily we have a grocery store called Aldi and they sell a 2lb bag of pears for $1.99 which is a steal! Pears at the grocery store are usually $3 a lb. Apples can also get expensive depending on which type you like. We love honey crisp apples and of course they are one of the expensive types. They also sell these at Aldi in a 3lb bag for $3.99 which is usually how much they cost per lb. If you have an Aldi I highly suggest them! They have amazing prices! At our Aldi the produce is always better than our Kroger's produce. I do buy apples at Kroger when they go on sale for 99cents per 1lb. I suggest you buy a crisper apple. Red delicious is not going to work for this.

Every time I make her food I use different amounts of the fruits and veggies. But I would say you at least need 2lbs of whatever your making. I make her apples and pears the same way so that is why I have them in the same post. It might seem a little time consuming but it really isn't.

You first want to peel and core the apples or pears. You definitely need a peeler and a corer. It makes it go so much faster. After you peel and core them you can either cook them on your stove or in the crock pot. I like making them in the crock pot the best. But I am going to share with you both ways.

 If your going to make them on your stove your going to need a stock pot. Add the peeled and cored apples or pears to the pot and add water about 1/2 way up (more water you use less nutrients end up in the food because they seep out into the water). Bring them up to a boil then turn them down and let them simmer until they are very soft. The cooking time differs depending on how much you are cooking. Next you want to drain them and let them cool.

Using a crock pot you put the peeled and cored apples or pears in your crock. Add just a little bit of water. You don't need a lot of water with them in crock pot. Then you can let them cook on high if you will be home or cook them on low. Cooking time also differs just check them every once a while. If I had to guess I would say 2-4 hrs on high and 4-6 on low. Once done drain them if any water is left and let them cool.

After they are cooled you will want to dump them in your food processor or blender. I use a food processor because that is what I have. (I am dreaming of owning a vitamix blender!) Just blend them until smooth. You shouldn't have to add water or anything to them. Next you will divide them out into portions to freeze. I use two one ounce silicone ice cube trays. They are so easy to pop out. I fill my trays and put them in the freezer long enough  for them to get hard enough to pop out. Then I pop them all out in put them in a freezer ziplock bag with the date and name on them.

See so Easy! I usually do several foods at once. I usually have sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, and pears all cooking at the same time. When I want to feed some to Anna Reese I just take out one cube before her next feeding and let it sit to thaw. They thaw so fast! And once she starts eating more I can take out more cubes. I believe this will save you money instead of buying jarred baby food because you know exactly how much you are feeding them and you don't have to waste half a jar. And plus it is fresh and nothing is added that you don't know what it is.

For each batch of apples and pears I usually get two trays sometimes more. Two Trays is 30 cubes. So if you calculate that Pears are $1.99 for 2lbs and apples are $3.99 for 3lbs. Each Pear cube is about 7cents and each apple cube is 13cents. A jar of baby food can cost 50cents to $1 depending on brand. There is definitely a savings there!

Here are the "tools" I use.

1. Tovolo Perfect Cube Silicone Ice Cube Tray I love these! They come in several different colors and you can get different sizes. But I really like the one ounce. You can use them for other things too such as making pretty ice cubes for parties. The baby food pops out so much easier than the plastic trays.

2. Fruit Wedger/Corer This makes things go so much faster! After you peel the fruit just core and wedge it with this all at one time!

3. Swivel Peeler I have used many peelers and this one is the easiest and best I have used. It swivels and it has a nice sharp blade to peel faster.You could use a knife too but this is so much easier and faster.

4. Hamilton Beach Food Processor I received this food processor as a gift from my aunt a couple of years ago. Didn't use it much before, usually just around the holidays for baking. But now that I have used it more I love this food processor so much. I use it for Anna Reese's food, to shred cheese, slice veggies, and etc.  The only thing I wish was different is that I could put fatter veggies like potatoes in the feed chute so I could make cute round potato chips. And the price for it is awesome.

Please don't buy a baby bullet or anything specifically made for making baby food. You don't need them if you already have a food processor or blender. And that is basically what they are but in a smaller size and you have to spend even more time in the kitchen doing multiple batches!

If you have any questions about apples or pears don't hesitate asking in the comments! Oh and PS you can make homemade applesauce the same way without added sugar. Just add a little cinnamon to your liking. And I mash mine with a potato masher. We like ours a little chunky.

Hope you all have a great day! And Happy Baby Food Making!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Favorites - Baby Sleep Aids

Today I wanted to share a few of our favorite sleep aids that have helped Anna Reese when we transitioned her into her crib. We are also currently still using all of these. Life is so much easier when you have a baby that sleeps! If your having problems with transitioning or even getting your little one through the night try these products listed below.

1. Baby Merlin's Magic Sleep Suit. This suit is really magic! Anna Reese loved being swaddled. But she started wanting her hands out of her pod which caused her to sleep less because she would startle or wake her self up with her hands. The girl has to have a hand by her face when she sleeps (she even did this in the womb). I was a skeptic at first but I have a friend that swore by it so I gave in and ordered one. This suit has worked for us from the first night we have used it. And now she is so used to it that when you put her in it she knows it is time for bed. This helps them feel like they are swaddled and secure. It also helps muffles their movements while they sleep so they don't startle or wake themselves up. They come in two different sizes and 3 different colors. $40 might seem a little steep for a sleep aid product but it is very well money spent. Anna Reese sleeps from 9pm-10pm to 7:30am-8:30am. And it is usually closer to 8 or 8:30 mark which equals happy baby and mommy!

2. Munchkin Nursery Projector & Sound SystemAnna Reese has one of the Cloud Giraffes that plays different sounds and you can take it with you. She loved the rain/water sound on it and had to have it going to sleep. Only downside is if you let it play all night the batteries run out fast! So we got a sound machine for her. We chose the one with a projector to give her something to look at while trying to fall asleep or for putting herself back to sleep if she wakes up. There are both positive and negative reviews on this product. We haven't had a single thing go wrong with ours yet. And we play it all night long. It does have a timer if you don't want it going all night long.

3. Crib Wedge Pillow. Anna Reese has acid reflux. Before we transitioned her to her crib she slept in a rock in play sleeper and it was inclined. It helped her from spitting up a lot in her sleep. Once we transitioned her into her crib it got worse. We got her a wedge pillow to go in her crib. The wedge we purchased not available on amazon for some reason now. And I can't find it anywhere else. But the one in the link is similar except her wedge doesn't go under her sheet. Since using this she has only spit up 2 or 3 different times. And it was usually because she went to bed too soon after being fed. 

And here are a few pictures of my cutie from yesterday!

Love her open mouth smile!

She has the cutest laugh!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Crock Pot Lentils and Sausage Soup

Have I told y'all how much I love my crock pots? I love them a lot! And yes I said them. I have 2 and could use one or two more. I feel like I am using mine a lot lately. I use them to make soups, dinners, baby food, and beans to freeze. And I even have both of them going at the same time some days!

I cooked a new soup the other day (Tuesday) and it was yummy. I always look for recipes based on ingredients that I have. And Tuesday morning I decided to soak some lentils and red beans. I knew the red beans would be cooked to freeze for meals and recipes later. But I had no idea what I was going to do with the lentils. I have only cooked lentils once (in another crock pot recipe). I had also laid out boudin sausage and a turkey tenderloin to thaw. I found a crock pot lentil and sausage soup recipe that sounded good. But of course I had to put my own spin on it. I can not follow recipes these days unless they are baking recipes. You have to follow those or things can end up horrible!

The first thing that I changed up on the recipe was the sausage. I didn't have regular sausage just boudin. And the boudin sausage that we had was not what you would typically find down in Louisiana but it is good. We buy it at Kroger from the fresh meat counter and it said on the label it was Texas style. And our Kroger sells out of it fast. The last time I bought I got the last lb of it and they had to look in the back for it. The other recipe also used 2lbs of sausage but I only used 1lb.

The next thing I changed was it called for beef stock. We don't keep beef stock in the pantry. I only buy chicken to keep. And I started using Better than Bouillon Chicken Base Organic. It seems like it cost more. And yes upfront it is. But it makes so much more and has a better taste than the canned and boxed stuff. And I had one onion soup mix pack left (trying to get rid of processed foods) and I knew they use "beef stock base" in them so it got dumped in.

I pretty much followed the rest of the recipe but changed the amounts. Here is the original recipe.

And here is mine:

  • 1lb (16oz) of dry lentils (I soaked my lentils for a couple of hours. Put your lentils in a bowl and cover with water. Want it to be about 1/2 inch above. They will soak up the water. Once they do drain them and pour them into your slow cooker)
  • 1lb of sausage (You want something like smoked or polish. Turkey sausage. And boudin works too!)
  • 3 small carrots chopped
  • 1/2 bell pepper chopped
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes (don't drain)
  • 2 cups of chicken broth (if you use BTB it will be 2 cups of hot water with 2 tsp of BTB dissolved in)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 pack of onion soup mix
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cajun seasoning to taste I probably used a tsp or 2. We like spicy

All you have to do is chop, mix and let cook. Using your slow cooker is so easy! Some people tend to think it all tastes the same. And it doesn't you just have to try new things, use different spices, and different ingredients.

P.S. I topped mine with crushed tortilla chips. Topping it with avocados, sour cream, and cheese would be good too. Or having a nice slice of buttered cornbread on the side.

And of course I have to leave you with a picture or two of my cutie!

Anna Reese wanted to play some this morning before her first bottle.

This little toot did not want to take her morning nap.
She kept eyeing her exersaucer and then would look at me and fuss!
She wanted to play!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Good Morning Anna Reese

Wake Up Wake Up the sun is up the dew is on the buttercup! Wake Up Wake Up so early in the morning!

Hope yall are up and ready for the day to get started if your not maybe the song above helped you get up! This morning instead of dew on the buttercups we have snow here. It is -3 degrees here in Lexington this morning. Brrr!

Anna Reese is one of the happiest babies I have ever seen. Now don't get me wrong she cries and she can throw a fit. But overall she is very happy. She is easy to make smile and laugh.

Even though I am not a morning person one of my favorite times of our day is getting her out of her bed in the morning. I don't go straight into her room when I hear her wake up because I love listening to her squeal and coo. And she makes this special squeal when she is ready for me to come get here if I have listened too long.

I never turn on her light as soon as walk in. I like to creep in and peek over her crib. Every morning every time I peek over she smiles from ear to ear and gets so excited! She usually squeals and kicks too! I love that she gets so excited about seeing me (although she is probably thinking she is going to put me in a clean diaper, dress me, and go fix my bottle)! She is the sweetest baby. While getting her dressed every morning I "sing" two little songs to her the first one is always I love you a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck. And the next song I "sing" is the one I started the post with. When I sing to her she smiles so big and laughs. Hopefully she thinks I am funny and not that I'm a horrible singer (she has a lot of years to listen to this voice)!

Yesterday morning I took my phone in with me so I could get a picture of how happy and cute she is in the morning. Hope you enjoy seeing her sweet smiling face! And I hope you have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Over the weekend

Sorry this recap is a day late but yesterday was pretty busy here. I was busy making Anna Reese baby food and taking care of her of course.

Jason has been off the past few Saturdays but this past Saturday he had to work 1/2 a day. I don't like when he has to work on Saturdays but I am so thankful he has a job. While he was at work I made homemade cinnamon rolls for us to eat for lunch and to take to Sunday School on Sunday. They were so much easier to make than I thought. And we will never buy store bought again. So much better and not to mention I keep all the ingredients anyways. Plus you can make them for less.

After Jason got home for work we had our yummy cinnamon rolls for lunch and I let him rest for a while before we got out of the house and ran some errands.

One of the "errands" we ran was to Kid to Kid. They were having an amazing sale (40 % off already reduced items and 10% off everything else). I got Anna Reese 11 items for $21.50. Every piece I bought was 40% off too. One of the best buys was a pj set that was marked down to $6.97 and I got 40% off of it. The original price (still had price tags) was $56! Kid to Kid started it off at $25.99! I got a deal on those pjs! Most of Anna Reese's clothes come from consignment stores/boutiques. Now don't get me wrong I do buy a lot of things new but I generally get all of her play clothes from the consignment stores. She is growing way too fast to pay full price for things when she will only wear them a few times. I buy nicer things (smocked dresses, appliqued/monogrammed outfits, etc) at full price or wait for them to go on sale.

Saturday night I cooked a southern dinner for Jason. Fried pork chops, mash potatoes, and english peas. I did make it a little healthier by using whole wheat flour on the pork chops and cooked them in coconut oil. It was so yummy!

Sunday was a nice day. We went to Sunday School and to worship service. Anna Reese had special attention Sunday! She was the only baby in her Sunday School and worship class! She will be a spoiled little girl with all that one on one attention! In fact in Sunday School she had 3 teachers giving her attention! We enjoyed lunch at McAlister's deli. Anna Reese was so good when we were eating she even fell asleep and they were packed! I don't see how she sleeps in noisy places!

Then we enjoyed the afternoon at home. I cooked a new soup/stew "recipe" for supper. I love making up my own recipes or putting my spin on recipes. And that is what I did. I am always scared about how they will turn out. But this one worked. I will share it later in the week with y'all.

Hope all of you had a great weekend and I hope that y'all have a good week!

Anna Reese and me on Sunday after Church

Jason and Anna Reese after church on Sunday.

Homemade cinnamon rolls fresh out of the oven.

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