Wednesday, April 27, 2011

26 weeks

 Here is what is going on with Noah this week according to;

Your baby uses all of his senses to explore and learn about his world. Make sure he has lots of safe things around to touch, mouth, and manipulate. He'll love squishing a soft rubber ball, patting a piece of fake fur, gnawing a chilled teething ring, and hearing a bell jingle inside a stuffed animal. An interesting thing to do: Gather different fabrics and place them next to each other on the floor. Watch your baby's expression as he moves over the varying textures.
Looking at books together will improve your baby's language skills and prime him for a lifelong love of reading. It doesn't matter what type of book you choose. Board books are colorful and sturdy, and books that have pop-up pictures or textured illustrations are also very popular. Your baby won't have the dexterity to open a book or even flip pages until he's between about 9 and 12 months, and he might not yet have the patience to sit still while you read him a story, but don't give up. No matter what your child's age, reading provides a great opportunity for cuddling and socializing.

Starting now, your baby will probably let you know that he's ready to try eating finger foods by grabbing the spoon you're feeding him with or snatching food off your plate. Scatter four or five pieces of finger food onto your baby's highchair tray or an unbreakable plate. (A highchair — not reclined in a car seat or stroller — is the place to eat to reduce choking hazards.) Your baby may have a good appetite but not many teeth, so start with foods that he can gum or that will dissolve easily in his mouth. As he grows you'll be able to give him bite-size pieces of whatever you're eating. Remember that your baby's also learning about texture, color, and smell, so try to offer a variety of foods. Some finger food favorites: O-shaped toasted oat cereal; small chunks of banana or other very ripe, peeled fruit like mango, plum, pear, peach, cantaloupe, or seedless watermelon; small cubes of tofu; well-cooked pasta spirals, cut into pieces; thin cheese strips or very small chunks of cheese; cut-up seedless grapes or cherries (pits removed); blueberries; and small soft pieces of cooked vegetables, like carrots, peas, zucchini, potato, or sweet potato.

 Noah is 6 months old today.  Wow, time flies!!!!!  Noah rolls over all of the time now.  So much so that it is getting difficult to change his diaper or get him dressed because he is constantly flipping over from his back to his belly.  He plays by himself well and is a very content baby.  Frequently when I go in to get him up from a nap now I find him up on his knees and hands rocking back and forth about ready to crawl.  He can sort of push and drag himself a bit in a makeshift crawl, but he usually gets his legs tangled up after a stride or two.  He is still nursing every 3 hours all day long, but also has a solid food feeding mid-morning.  His solid food consists of rice cereal, or avocado, carrots, or sweet potatoes that I've pureed for him.  So far he has liked everything that I've fed him and will eat as much as I'll offer.  He really enjoys the whole eating process and grabs for the spoon and tries to stick his fingers in his bowl.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bolognese Sauce

I made this Weeknight Bolognese Sauce by Ina Garten.  It was delicious, and may be my new go to marinara sauce recipe.  I love the complexity of flavor that the wine and cream added.  I made the few changes listed below.

-used whole wheat spaghetti
-sauteed a diced onion in the olive oil before adding the garlic and spices
-added 1 Tbsp sugar
-substituted 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning for the oregano
-used fat-free half and half instead of the heavy cream
-omitted the additional 1/4 cup of wine at the end
-omitted the fresh basil because I didn't have any

I was also a little surprised at the recipe, I was sure the 1 Tbsp of oregano and 1 Tbsp of salt was a typo and that it was supposed to be 1 tsp.  However, I kept adding more and tasting and sure enough the 1 Tbsp amounts seemed to be correct.  I was horrified, I've never put a whole Tbsp of salt in anything, but this really was delicious.

25 weeks

Here is what is going on with Noah this week according to;

If you want to introduce sign language to your baby, now's the time. Her understanding of language and her motor skills develop much faster than her ability to speak. Most babies, for example, discover how to wave (around 9 months) and point (by age 1) long before they can say "bye bye" or "look at that!"  Giving your baby the tools to express herself may help cut down on her frustration. While baby signing doesn't promise to eliminate tears or tantrums, babies this young have been taught to "sign" successfully. To begin, try using a hand signal every time yo u use common words such as "book" (open your palms with your hands together) or "hungry" (put your fingers to your lips). Later on, your baby will be able to express more complex ideas such as "I'm done with my juice" with a simple gesture such as putting her palms up at shoulder height.  And don't worry: Signing won't interfere with your baby's progress in learning to speak. In fact, it may actually help develop her language skills.

Your baby may favor one hand for a while and then switch to the other. But you can't really tell whether she's a lefty or a righty until she's about 2 or 3 years old.  Don't try to influence your baby's hand preference (it's determined before birth). Forcing her to use her right hand when she's really a lefty, for example, may confuse her and lead to problems with hand-eye coordination, dexterity, and handwriting down the road.

Your baby will love turn-taking games, especially ones that involve sounds and language. Let your baby be the leader sometimes, and mimic her vocalizations. When it's your turn to lead, a good way to teach — and amuse — your baby is to make animal noises ("quack-quack," "bow-wow").  One upside of these kinds of games is that they can be played anywhere. Your baby will delight in the sounds of water splashing in the bathtub or blocks hitting the floor. Show your baby how to make these fun (if sometimes annoying) noises and then let her have a turn.

Noah and I have been under the weather with a virus since Friday.  I think we are finally recovering and just dealing with the leftovers of a stuffy nose and chest congestion.  Although he didn't feel well and had a fever, Noah has still been such a happy, fun baby for the last few days.  I'm amazed at his toughness while feeling ill!  Noah is still doing great with solid food and will eat as much as I will give him.  So far he's done rice cereal, avocado, and sweet potato and seemed to like them all.  I think we'll give carrots a try either today or tomorrow.  He sits up on his own pretty well now, and will crouch on his knees and hands like he is ready to crawl.  He hasn't been that great of an afternoon napper lately, but he has consistently slept at least 9 hours (straight) per night (even when he was sick), so I really can't complain if he won't take a long afternoon nap.  This week he added a new sounds to his repertoire and now says aaa, baa, maa, and blaa, plus plenty of other squeaks and grunts.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Shrimp Creole

Shrimp Creole

I love this classic New Orleans dish.  Serve it over a big bowl of rice, and garnish with chopped fresh parsley or scallions.  Most people would probably use 2 lbs of shrimp for this recipe so that the dish is more shrimp and less tomatoes, but to save money I don't mind a bowl of tomato sauce accented by shrimp.  This dish is fairly spicy, so I'd leave out the cayenne and maybe even reduce the hot sauce if you're not into spicy food.

-2 Tbsp olive oil
-2 Tbsp flour
-1 onion, chopped
-1/2 green pepper, chopped
-2 stalks celery, chopped
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 (29 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
-1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
-1 bay leaf
-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
-1 Tbsp hot sauce
-1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
-1 Tbsp sugar
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/2 tsp dried thyme
-1/2 tsp dried basil
-1 lb shrimp

Start by making a blond roux.  To do this, cook the oil and flour over medium low heat until it develops a light brown color.  Stir frequently while the roux is cooking.  Add the onion, green pepper and celery.  Saute until the veggies soften, about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic, saute 1 minute.  Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, bay leaf, cayenne, hot sauce, Worcestershire, sugar, salt, pepper, thyme and basil.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Stir in shrimp, cover and cook until cooked through (about 2-5 minutes depending on size of shrimp).

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Honey Dijon Vinaigrette

Honey Dijon Vinaigrette

I've been on a salad kick lately.  This dressing is right up there with my favorites that I've ever made.  I served it over mixed greens, mandarin oranges, dried cranberries, and toasted almonds.  As written this makes two servings.  Garlic, or red pepper flakes would also be nice additions to this dressing.

-2 Tbsp olive oil
-2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
-1 Tbsp dijon mustard
-1 Tbsp honey
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp pepper

Whisk together ingredients.  Chill until serving. 

24 weeks

Here is what is going on with Noah this week according to;

Your baby's stronger neck and arm muscles allow him to practice rolling over toward one side, a milestone that will probably awe and amuse you. Your baby might adopt rolling as his primary mode of ground transportation for a while, or he may skip it altogether and move on to sitting, lunging, and crawling. As long as your baby continues to gain new skills and shows interest in getting around and exploring his environment, don't worry. Rolling over can be fun for your baby, but it can also be nerve-racking for you. Keep a hand on your baby during diaper changes, and never leave him unattended on a bed or any other elevated surface.

At this age your baby not only tolerates attention from others, he'll often initiate it. Though you may soon notice the beginnings of stranger anxiety, your baby will probably still be fairly indiscriminate: Chances are anyone who approaches him with welcoming eyes or a grin delights him and becomes an instant friend. But don't worry — he still needs and craves lots of love and attention from you.

Your baby is also learning that his behaviors, both the ones you like and the ones you don't, engage you, so starting now (and for years to come) he'll do just about anything to get your attention. Right now almost everything he does is endearing, but as he gets older, he's more likely to get into mischief to provoke a reaction from you. Just don't forget to give him positive feedback when he's being good. It's a great way to start teaching right from wrong. One thing will become clear: Your baby is beginning to expand his attention-getting repertoire to include more than crying. You may notice him wriggling, making noises, blowing "raspberries," and so on. Over the next three months, he'll develop a uniquely personal way of letting you know what he thinks, wants, and needs.

As your baby starts becoming more active, he'll appreciate wearing comfy clothes. Opt for soft fabrics that won't chafe him as he's moving around. Loose, stretchy, and breathable clothing is also smart as it provides your energetic little one plenty of wiggle room. Avoid clothes with rough or scratchy seams; long ties, buttons, or bows (could be a choking hazard); and anything else that gets in the way of your baby's sleeping, crawling, playing, or other regular activities.

Don't be surprised if your baby's stools change color and odor as soon as he starts eating even tiny amounts of solids. This is normal. If his stools seem too firm, switch to other fruits and vegetables and oatmeal or barley cereal. (Rice cereal, bananas, and applesauce may be constipating.)

This has been a big week for our little guy.  He has really increased his talking and talks all of the time.  He's gone from just making vowel sounds to now making lots of other sounds, mostly consisting of repetitions of ba, and ma.  He's been fascinated with his feet and using them to kick things (especially kicking me while nursing), and frequently rubbing his feet together.  We started him on rice cereal.  The first try was pretty much just him screaming, but after two additional tries that same day he didn't hate it.  And now, 2 days later, we have had several attempts where he is actually swallowing more of the cereal than what ends up on his face, hands, and chest.  I think tonight we'll try some mashed up sweet potato or avocado and give him more flavor and see what he does with that.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sesame Rice Salad

Sesame Rice Salad

Rice salads have become my favorite way to use up leftover cooked rice.  My produce drawer is lacking this week, but carrots, sugar snap peas, cilantro, or red pepper would all be great additions here.

-2-3 cups cooked brown rice
-1 clove garlic, minced
-4 tsp sugar
-2 Tbsp sesame oil
-2 Tbsp soy sauce
-1 Tbsp lime juice
-1 Tbsp rice vinegar
-1/2 tsp ground ginger
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-3 scallions, chopped
-1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
-1 can mandarin oranges, drained

Whisk together garlic, sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, lime juice, rice vinegar, ginger, and red pepper flakes.  Toss with remaining ingredients.  Serve at room temperature.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pepper Jelly Salad Dressing

Pepper Jelly Salad Dressing

Pepper Jelly Dressing is common in some of the upscale restaurants around New Orleans.  Here is my take on it... most versions would probably have at least twice the amount of oil that I used, making the dressing less tart, but I never use more oil than vinegar in any dressing in order to keep it lower in fat.  I enjoyed this dressing over spring mix tossed with a chopped apple, dried cranberries, and toasted almonds.  The slightly sweet and slightly spicy qualities to this dressing lend it to pairing well with most fruits and cheeses.  This recipe is for 2 servings, so increase as needed depending on how many people you are feeding.

-1/4 cup pepper jelly
-1/4 cup olive oil
-1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp garlic powder

Mix ingredients together in food processor or blender and serve with your favorite salad.  (If you don't want to use a mixer for this then I suggest heating the ingredients in the microwave for 1-2 minutes and then whisking until combined, this will help break the jelly down, then cool prior to serving).

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sesame Chicken

(sorry about the quality of my pictures lately, they have all been taken with my camera phone because a friend is borrowing our camera)
Sesame Chicken

This is my healthier version of the traditional fried Chinese food favorite.  The sauce is thick and sweet with a touch of spice.  I omitted the frying to save calories, and added broccoli to up the nutrition.  Serve over brown rice for a complete meal.

-1 lb chicken breast, cut into bite size chunks
-2 Tbsp soy sauce
-3 drops sesame oil

-1/2 cup water mixed with 1/4 cup cornstarch
-1 cup chicken broth
-2 Tbsp soy sauce
-2 Tbsp sesame oil
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1 cup sugar
-1 tsp chile sauce

-1 bunch broccoli, cut into bite size chunks
-1 Tbsp sesame seeds

Marinate the meat in the soy sauce/ sesame oil mixture for 1-4 hours.  Cook broccoli over medium high heat until desired tenderness is reached, then set aside.  Cook chicken over medium high heat until cooked through.  Whisk together sauce ingredients and pour into pot with cooked chicken.  Reduce heat and simmer until sauce thickens.  Stir in broccoli, and top with sesame seeds.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

23 weeks

 Here is what is going on with Noah this week according to;

By the time she's about 6 months old (though sometimes it takes a little longer), your baby's hand control is developed enough that she can rake a small object toward herself. She may not actually grab it, but she can bring it to her. You can help your baby practice this by placing a toy within her reach and waiting for her bring it close. In another month or so, she'll learn to grab larger toys and start to practice moving objects from one hand to the other. Let her work with this skill by giving her a small rattle or toy to hold on to. Then help her transfer it to her other hand. Then move it back to the original hand, and so on. When she learns to transfer objects, a whole new world opens up — she now has two hands to have fun with!

Your baby now sees and hears the world almost as well as you do. Her communication skills are expanding rapidly, too, as evidenced by her squeals, bubbling sounds, and operatic octave changes. Her sounds can demonstrate her attitude or response to objects — such as happiness, eagerness, or even satisfaction — with a problem well solved. At this age, about half of babies babble, repeating one syllable — such as "ba," "ma," "ga," or other consonant-vowel combinations — over and over. A few will even add another syllable or two, making their sounds more complex. You can encourage your baby by babbling right back at her and by making a game of it ("The sheep says, 'baaa,'" or "The goat says, 'maaa'"). Or, when you hear a syllable you can't identify, just respond enthusiastically with, "Yes, that is a car! See how shiny the red paint is?" Your baby will appreciate your encouraging her by keeping the conversation going. She'll also appreciate it if you listen as if you understand everything she says and find it extremely interesting. Try simulating a conversation: You listen while she talks, then ask a question and wait for a response!

Noah is doing good.  He still takes about 3 naps a day, usually two in the morning and one in the afternoon.  He loves to be outside, and loves to watch other kids play.  He still loves his Jump Up, but lately doesn't like it much when he's in it and can't see me.  So more often than not I put him in his walker instead.  His feet don't quite touch the ground, but he loves being able to stand up, and to be wherever I am.  He can contently sit in it for an hour watching while I do dishes or cook in the kitchen.  His toes barely graze the floor, and at times he can use them to push himself a few inches one way or the other, but for the most part he stays stationary and observes his surroundings.  I'm thinking about starting rice cereal this week or next, and then pureed vegetables soon to follow.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Garlic Noodles

I made these Garlic Noodles for a super quick and easy dinner.  In all they were pretty good, especially for how simple they were. We both really liked these and they will be great to have in my recipe arsenal since I usually have all of the ingredients on hand and dinner could be thrown together in no time.  I doubled the recipe, quadrupled the sauce, but cut the butter down and only used 1 Tbsp for the doubled recipe.  I also used whole wheat spaghetti.  Other than that, I did the recipe as is.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Baked Falafel

Baked Falafel with Tahini

After having the best falafel ever at a friend's house Saturday evening I decided to undergo the task of trying to make them a little more healthy by baking rather than frying the patties.  These were good, but neither Jeremy nor I loved them.  I think I'll keep playing around with techniques (maybe a quick pan fry prior to baking) until I can get the texture to our liking.

-1 can garbanzo beans, drained
-1 onion, largely chopped
]-3 cloves garlic
-2 tsp cumin
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp baking powder
-2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
-1 egg
-1 Tbsp olive oil
-1/4 c parsley
-1/4 c cilantro

Combine all ingredients in a food processor, pulse until incorporated.  Form mixture into patties.  Place on greased baking sheet.  Bake at 425 20 minutes, flip, then bake another 20 minutes.  Serve warm with tahini sauce.

Tahini Sauce

-1/4 c tahini
-juice of 1/2 lemon
-2 c yogurt
-1 tsp cumin
-1/2 tsp salt

Remove excess moisture from yogurt my draining in a coffee filter for several hours.  Combine all ingredients in a food processor, pulse until incorporated.  Chill until serving.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Grape Leaves

Grape Leaves

Grape leaves are my favorite traditional Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dish.  These are frequently made with or without meat (ground lamb would be a little more authentic than the beef).  Instead of the slow cooker these could be simmered stove top for about 45 minutes, or baked in the oven for about an hour, either way using the same method of submerging them in liquid first.

-1 jar grape leaves (usually found with the olives)
-1 onion, chopped
-1 lb lean ground beef
-1/2 cup rice
-1/2 cup pine nuts
-1/2 cup beef broth
-1 tsp dried mint
-1 tsp dried dill
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp pepper
-chopped fresh parsley
-1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp olive oil
-juice of 2 lemons

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.  Remove the grape leaves from the jar, unroll them, and place them in the pot.  Cover and remove from heat, let sit 10 minutes.  Drain the hot water and shock the leaves with cold water.  Pat the leaves dry with paper towels.

Saute onion in 1 Tbsp olive oil until soft.  Add rice and pine nuts, cook 2 minutes.  Add beef broth, simmer over low heat until liquid is absorbed.  Cool completely.  In large bowl, combine onion/ rice mixture, mint, dill, salt, pepper and parsley.  Place grape leaves shiny side down.  Cut off the stem if still intact.  Place 1-2 Tbsp of beef mixture in the center of the grape leaves.  Roll the grape leave around the meat like a burrito.  Repeat until all of the filling is used.

Line the bottom of a slow cooker with the extra grape leaves.  Place the rolled grape leaves seam side down in the slow cooker.  Cover the grape leaves with water.  Pour in the lemon juice and 1/4 cup of olive oil.  Cook on high for 4 hours, or until beef and rice are done.  Serve warm with yogurt sauce for dipping.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Honey Cake

Honey Cake

I made this cake for a Middle Eastern feast that we had with some friends.  From internet research that I did it seems like this is a traditional Kuwaiti and Israeli dessert.  Next time I might try substituting half of the oil out with applesauce.  This cake is very moist and has a hint of honey and spice.  The whole wheat flour isn't traditional here, but I was trying to make it a little more healthy.  You could also bake as a 13x9 sheet cake for 40-45 minutes.

-2 cups all purpose flour
-1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
-1 Tbsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp salt
-4 tsp cinnamon
-1/2 tsp cloves
-1 cup canola oil
-1 cup honey
-1 1/2 cups sugar
-1/2 cup brown sugar
-3 eggs
-1 tsp vanilla
-1 1/4 cup strong tea (I used Chai)
-1/2 cup fresh orange juice
-1/2 cup sliced almonds

Whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cloves.  Make a well in the center and pour in honey, oil, sugars, eggs, vanilla, tea, and orange juice.  Mix on slow speed until well incororated.  Pour into 3 greased loaf pans.  Top with almonds.  Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes.