WEEK 26: Halfway There

Can you believe that 2010 is halfway over? I really cannot. But, in the spirit of the middle of the year, I decided to take a look back at where I started at WEEK 1 and see how far we’ve come. I’ve been making and feeding my boys healthy food since they were 6 months old, but I just started this blog documenting our experiences this year. So, back in January I did my first weekly post where I mainly shared what foods I’ve made and how it had gone so far. Today, I’m sharing recipes and talking about how we enjoy meals together as a family. It’s amazing how quickly things change in these little lives.

FOOD DESCRIPTION
I’ve never been much of a mayonnaise fan which means that I don’t care for many of the traditional “salads” like potato salad, macaroni salad, tuna salad, chicken salad, etc. I do realize how nice it is to have these around though, for quick lunches and cool, refreshing summer sides. So, over the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to come up with a chicken salad recipe that I could more than tolerate, but rather enjoy. And, I think I’ve done it. The boys like it, I like it, and I think that maybe Jonathan even likes it. He will eat it, but does pick out the celery.

PROCESS
This chicken salad was created on researching, trying, testing, and tasting various versions over the period of a few weeks. I love cheese, so thought that would be a good substitute for yucky mayonnaise.

  • Cheesy Chicken Salad A yummy alternative to your traditional mayonnaise-based concoction. 
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 TBS plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 TBS minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb cooked chicken breast, chopped, torn, or shredded (I used leftover from a roasted chicken, but you could boil or bake as well.)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
    1. Put ricotta cheese, lemon juice, mustard, honey, yogurt, milk, garlic, salt and pepper into the blender or food processor and purée until smooth. 
    2. Put chicken, celery, and onions into a large bowl. Mix in the cheese mixture and stir to coat. 
    3. Serve immediately or cover and chill in the refrigerator. This will last a few days.

    WHAT I LEARNED
    It’s not too hard to adjust a recipe to your liking. It just takes a little thought, trial and error to get it right. Experiment and change up the ingredients and flavorings to get it just how you like it. This is a great thing to have on hand especially in these hot summer months for quick lunches and easy bites for toddlers.

    REACTION
    We all liked it, even me and if you ask anyone that knows me, seeing me eat chicken salad would be a weird thing indeed.

    SUMMARY
    We’ve had a nice break in the humidity around here the past few days, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking about things to keep it cool in the kitchen. This one is great, but I’m off to think of some more great ideas. I’m off for a few days to enjoy the holiday weekend. Happy Fourth of July!

    Please share your thoughts or ideas!
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    WEEK 25: All Things Local

    This has been a great week for local fare. There’s just something about summertime that makes good things really good.

    FOOD DESCRIPTION
    Both boys continue to eat really well this week and were both little piggies early in the week. A few snacks seemed to be affected by some teething the past few days, but no little boy passes up some yummy ice cream with Pappy, that’s for sure.

    PROCESS
    Eating locally wasn’t much of a process this week, but more of a fun experience.

    • Grass-fed Beef I’ve recently started trying to buy grass-fed beef for our family. If you haven’t seen Food, Inc. yet, you must stop reading this and watch it now! But, as a quick summary of only a single aspect of my recent food overhaul, I’ve chosen to buy grass-fed, pastured beef when at all possible for the following reasons.
    1. Standard beef today is fed corn and dead chicken carcasses, resulting in poor quality of meat.
    2. Feeding corn causes health issues such as e-coli which causes them to give animals antibiotics and chemicals which collect in the fat. 
    3. Most of our beef today is from cows that are factory farmed and packed together so tightly they can’t move and stuck in their own excrement. Yes, that’s right and I don’t think I even need to go into why you don’t want to eat meat from that animal. 
    4. I choose grass-fed meats from animals allowed to roam pastures. These animals are healthy and provide healthy, nourishing meats for my family. U.S Wellness Meats is a good online source. Trader Joes, Whole Foods, and other whole food stores offer grass-fed alternatives as well as local farms. Click on the Eat Local link on the right column sidebar of this site. If you can’t find grass-fed, at least opt for organic as it is free of chemicals.

     This is my purchase that I picked up at my local farmer’s market this week sitting in my trunk just before I put it in my cooler to bring home to the freezer. See below for the contents.
    • Ice Cream We went with the grandparents to a local store this weekend. They just recently started selling all-natural, locally-made ice cream. Pappy bought some strawberry to share and the boys only left him a couple of bites. I’m hoping to make some homemade ice cream from real cream and honey this summer.

    WHAT I LEARNED
    Buying quality, locally-grown produce is becoming easier and easier every day. I was able to buy a sampler pack of grass-fed beef including a chuck roast, rump roast, 2 New York strips, a filet mignon, 3 lbs. ground beef, brisket, and stew meat with just the click of a button on a local farmer’s website and a quick trip to the farmer’s market of my choice on the day of my choosing to pay and pick it up. They even included 2 bars of their uhomemade soap in my package.

    REACTION
    I haven’t tried any of the beef yet, but it’s safely in my freezer, just waiting for my meal planning. I can say that my reaction to the price was one of delight. As a comparison, we recently purchased grass-fed brisket from a chain store for $7.99/lb. The one in this pack was $4.99/lb. I don’t think I need to even say, but the boys loved, loved, loved some strawberry ice cream at the Nolensville Feed Mill with Pappy.

    SUMMARY
    Live it up! Enjoy summer. It comes and goes so quickly and even though it’s really hot, get out. Enjoy the lake, the shade trees, the pool, the ice cream, and of course the sound of the crickets and flashing lights of the lightning bugs at night. I’m sitting out here right now in the dark and loving every minute of it!

    Please share your thoughts or ideas!
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    WEEK 24: Fish Food is Brain Food

    I’m getting much more adventuresome in my cooking these days and am so excited to share my newest recipe for salmon. I have recently cooked fish twice which is about how many times I’d ever done it prior to this week. I have never felt confident with fish and have just left the smelly creatures to my husband on the grill. However, with trying to eat more fish recently, I found that I wanted to be able to do it myself.

    FOOD DESCRIPTION
    I did quite a bit of research and created this recipe below based on various sources and ideas. I purchased the salmon frozen from Trader Joe’s and just thawed it in the fridge the day before.

    PROCESS

    • Maple-Glazed Salmon Prepare your seasoning and gather the glaze ingredients ahead of time and this will just take minutes to throw together. I served with soaked brown rice and steamed broccoli.
    • 1 TBS oil (I used coconut) 
    • 1/4 tsp all-natural liquid smoke
    • 1/2 cup maple syrup
    • 2 TBS cider vinegar
    • 4 salmon fillets, skin removed
    • 2 tsp My Seafood Seasoning (see below)
    1. Move your oven rack to the top and pre-heat the broiler on high.
    2. In a small pot, bring the liquid smoke, maple syrup and vinegar to a boil and reduce over high heat, stirring for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
    3. Season both sides of the salmon with My Seafood Seasoning.
    4. Heat oil in a large, ovensafe skillet on medium-high. Cook the seasoned fish top-side down for 3-4 minutes.
    5. Turn fish over and pour the maple glaze over the top and place on top rack under broiler for 3 minutes. 
    • My Seafood Seasoning Combine all ingredients and seal in jar.
    • 1 TBS Black pepper
    • 1 TBS Dry mustard
    • 2 TBS Sea salt
    • 1 1/2 TBS Ground bay leaves
    • 1 1/2 tsp Nutmeg
    • 1 tsp Cloves
    • 1 tsp Ground ginger
    • 1 tsp Paprika
    • 1 tsp Cayenne pepper

    WHAT I LEARNED
    I can do it. I can cook fish myself indoors. It didn’t even smell.

    REACTION
    I loved it and both boys enjoyed leftovers for lunch. The fish and broccoli are also great for new fork-learners as well. The soft, flaky salmon is also a great texture for early eaters.

    SUMMARY
    The salmon and the glaze have so much flavor that I just did butter in the rice and it went well with the broccoli. Salmon is such a good source of brain food that I will definitely be making this again and again.

    Please share your thoughts or ideas, or even better…more recipes to share!
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