Thursday, August 28, 2014

Thursday Tips: Summer Crock Pot Cooking



Sometimes there is a recipe I really want to make, and it's just so darn hot outside that I cringe at the thought of using my crock pot and heating up the house even more. I love that the house smells so great, but the extra heat? Yeah... I could do without it.

Simple problem, simple solution!

We set our crock pot in our mudroom or our garage in the summer time when we use it!

Our mudroom is closed off from the main part of our house via a door, and the garage obviously is, too. Of course, you want to make sure you have the garage door shut, or you might attract pests with the delicious aromas!

Do you have any crock pot tips?

Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own. Post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Turkey Chili (crock pot)



I've been looking to try something new as of late, and our local grocery store gave me the perfect opportunity with some reduce-priced meat (sell-by date). I had never cooked with just a slab of turkey breast before, but the price really couldn't be beat! I decided to try my hand at making some turkey chili!

The following recipe was definitely a hit with the family. Bobble ate it (which meant it wasn't too spicy), hubby ate it (which meant it wasn't too bland), Squiggle ate it (...which really just meant it was food. She loves food!), and I ate it. The fact that I ate it says a lot, with as picky as I am.

I wasn't sure how I felt about it at first, as I had never really had chili with poultry before. The more bites I took, the more I enjoyed it. It is especially good with corn bread, and I absolutely enjoyed every bite I sopped up with the corn bread!

I actually chopped up my peppers and threw them in the crock pot for storage while I prepped the other items. It doesn't really matter if you throw the beans and peppers in the crockpot (OFF) to wait for the other stuff, or if you chop them and throw them into the pan with the tomato mixture (after you turn that off). I was just trying to save counter space and dirty less dishes.



Turkey Chili
  •     2 cups cannellini beans (or 1 can)
  •     2 cups garbanzo beans (or 1 can)
  •     1 tbsp oil
  •     3 shallots, finely chopped
  •     1c celeriac, chopped
  •     2 tbsp minced garlic (or roughly 6 cloves)
  •     1 tbsp cumin
  •     2 tsp dried oregano
  •     1/2 tsp cracked black peppercorns
  •     Zest of 1 lime
  •     2 tbsp fine cornmeal
  •     1 cup veggie broth
  •     1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes with juice
  •     1-2 lbs skinless boneless turkey breast, cubed
  •     2 cups cut green beans
  •     1 tbsp chile powder, dissolved in juice of zested lime (or roughly 2 tbsp lime juice)
  •     2 bell peppers, diced - any colours (Ideal would have at one of them green)
  •     1 chilaca pepper, finely diced (If not available, substitute a poblano [slightly less kick])

1) Heat oil in a large pan (I used a 5qt. T-fal Jumbo Cooker w/lid ), and add shallots and celeriac. Saute for about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic, stirring well.

2) Combine ground pepper, cumin, oregano, and lime zest. Add to pan, stirring well to fully coat. Add in cornmeal, coating well.

3) Add in broth and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and pour into 6 qt. crock pot.
Broth added (tomatoes not added yet)
4) Stir in beans, bell peppers, chilaca, lime juice/chile powder mixture, and turkey breast.

5) Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. Serve with cornbread.





Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff was not compensated for this post. This is an original recipe, and all opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own. Post contains affiliate links.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Slowing Down

I'm sure you've noticed the blog slowing down again. Between the illnesses with both children, I've run out of quite a bit of steam. I think I'm going to do a weekly recipe post, and was wanting to do at least one more weekly post... I just don't know on what.

What topic would you like to read about every week? Something diaper related? Cleaning related? Activities for kids? More recipes? Something I'm thankful for? Brand reviews?

Throw ideas at me!





Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Canning

Many of you realize that hard times fell on our family a little over a year ago when I lost my job. We have been trying to find ways to stretch our dollar, but to still maintain our "green" lifestyle. Being eco-conscious is great, but sometimes it can be pricy in some aspects. Usually only when starting being green in an area, like the initial cost of cloth diapering. Despite it saving you significant amounts of money down the road, sometimes it's hard to get that initial bit of money.

Well, our biggest problem since our income change has been food. I am not willing to sacrifice certain things like avoiding artificial flavours, artificial colours, artificial sweeteners, or HFCS. Whenever possible, we want to avoid GE/GMO goods, and would prefer local and organic. Obviously, this isn't always possible. We try, though.

That being said, there is one thing we could be doing that we don't: CANNING.

I have never canned. Husband has never canned. Our (immediate) families have never canned. We simply don't know where to start. We have a garden and it has a good yield, particularly for beans and squash. We tried freezing some squash last year, but lost it all to horrible freezer burn. 3 whole gallons of squash, gone. That's makes us even more hesitant to try canning. Freezing seemed so fool-proof!

We have zero canning supplies (well, wait, I do have some mason jars...), zero idea how to do it, and zero funds to start doing it. Still, we feel this would be an option for us and want to learn. I have looked up a few things that might be useful, but there seem to be a few ways to can. One seems to use an ordinary pot, the other a pressure canner pot (like shown below).


We already have some mason jars (below):


Any tips? Brands? Advice?

Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own and may differ from your own. Post contains affiliate links.

Monday, August 18, 2014

It's the Baby Bump Giveaway!

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Clipping Nails

Clipping nails has always been a pain with Squiggle. I get it, I get it... no kid likes being held down or held still for anything. Yes, it's not fun for them. For Bobble, however, I was able to do this with much more ease than Squiggle. I would swaddle him up (as an infant) and just pull out one arm or leg at a time, or I'd nurse while my husband did the nails. As he aged, I would put on a Signing Time or a Baby Signing Time, watch with him for a few songs, then start trimming while he watched on my lap. Easy peasy.

Squiggle, however, is a different story. She doesn't care what show is on, what you are doing to entertain, who is doing it, if she has milk.. NOTHING. She just wants you to NOT hold her still.

Finally, about 2 weeks ago, I found my perfect weapon. Weird Al.



Not just any Weird Al, but his music video of TACKY. For some reason she loves it. He has many videos, and many animated ones. She doesn't care... she just wants to see them dancing at the camera to TACKY. Not only does she sit still and let me move and hold her fingers/hands any which way, but it is the PERFECT amount of time for me to trim all the nails on both hands! I'm finishing up the last nail just as the video ends.

I don't mind, of course, as I love Weird Al. His new album, Mandatory Fun, is only $10 on Amazon right now, and that includes a digital MP3 copy, as well. If that wasn't a good enough reason to get it, the fact that Bobble starts trying to dance like the people in the (above) video is! Every time he hears "Tacky", he starts dancing like mad. Love it!

What weird things have you done to trim your kids' nails?


Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own and may differ from your own. Post contains affiliate links.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Zapped



This past week has been pretty rough in this house, thus the lack of posting after the scheduled posts were done. Bobble has childhood asthma, and that acted up while we were visiting family, resulting in a 3am ER visit for a breathing treatment. He caught what Squiggle had.


Squiggle has been super needy, crying at everything. She cries if I hold her, she cries if I put her down. If I wear her, if I don't wear her. If I nurse her, if I don't nurse her. Everything makes her cry. She had bronchitis, an ear infection, a stomach bug, and is cutting 3 molars. I'd cry, too. She won't nap unless I lie with her or I hold her right now, and that makes doing anything very difficult... especially blog writing. Since she cries for everything right now, babywearing is the ONLY way I have gotten ANYTHING done. Unfortunately, she only is content while babywearing if I'm moving. Sorry, readers, but I'm not going to try and walk around holding a laptop in one hand and typing with the other. I'm sure you understand!


Sooooo, I've barely gotten sleep in the last week, but I'm here. I just am lacking the ability to write much since I have the above going on.

I hope you've enjoyed the recipe posts as of late. I think I'm going to start doing a new recipe on a weekly basis instead of the near daily frequency I have for the last couple of weeks.

Are there any particular types of foods you would like recipes for? Leave a comment at let me know!


Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff is responsible for the content of this post. Post contains affiliate links.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Chocolate Avocado Pudding



My children love chocolate. Okay, that's an understatement. They are OBSESSED with chocolate. If they can have it they eat as much as humanly possible (...or at least what is allowed). When I found the MOMables Chocolate Avocado Pudding recipe, I had to try this out. At least they would get some fruit and veggies with their chocolate!

The recipe is super simple and the kids devoured it. If your bananas are not super ripe (thus, not super sweet), you might have to add in some stevia, powdered sugar, or whatever you use to sweeten items in your house.

Chocolate Avocado Pudding
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 2 avocados
  • 6 Tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
Instructions
  1. Place avocados (peeled and pitted) and peeled bananas into the food processor or blend.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Add unsweetened cocoa powder & vanilla, Blend until thoroughly combined.
  4. Divide pudding into 4 single serve cups.
  5. Refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.
See? Super easy! Also super delicious....






Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff is responsible for all content in this post and was not reimbursed in any way. These opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own. Post contains affiliate links.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Savoury Whole Crockpot Chicken



Looking for a delicious chicken recipe that doesn't take much time? This recipe is for you! It's very simple and only takes minutes to throw together, but your whole house will smell fabulous, and you'll have  juicy, fall-off-the-bone chicken for dinner! As you've probably noticed, I really get a lot of use out of my 6qt. Crock Pot!

You can add more or less of anything in the recipe to taste, and I never actually measure out the herbs, but this is a guesstimate. :)

Savoury Whole Chicken [Crock Pot]

Ingredients:
  • 1 Whole Chicken
  • 5 ribs celery
  • 1 onion
  • 1T dried thyme
  • 1t dried oregano

Directions:
  1. Slice the onion in half, an then into long strips. Separate the onion and place half of it across the bottom of the crock pot bowl.
  2. Chop 3 ribs of up celery into small pieces. Cut the other 2 into snack-sized sticks. Spread chopped celery across the bottom of the bowl with the onion. 
  3. Place spices in spice grinder or quickly grind with a mortar and pestle.
  4. Get chicken out and remove innards and neck. Stuff with the other half  of the onion and celery and place top the chopped onion and celery in the crock pot.
  5. Take dried spices and rub all over the body of the chicken. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours depending on size of chicken.
    Ready to cook!
Not only do you have some delicious chicken this way, but you have some cooked veggies to eat (if you choose) or throw into some other dish the next day.


Ready to eat!


Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff is responsible for all content in this post. These opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own. Post contains affiliate links.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats (original recipe)

(The price below is for a 4 pack of these steel cut oats!)

I fell in love with the ease of overnight refrigerator oats. I love the fact you can have a delicious, nutritious breakfast just by opening the refrigerator in the morning. I decided to try something different from the bananas foster one I had been making, so I threw together a pumpkin pie overnight oats.

My first version wasn't very good because it's very easy to over do nutmeg. After a few trial and error batches, I've come up with what works great for our family. It's very simple to do, so I hope you try it out and love it as much as we do!

We prefer to use fresh pumpkin puree, but I know that's not always available for everyone. The recipe is for one serving/jar of overnight oats but if you buy a large (29oz, I believe) can of pumpkin puree, it should make roughly 8 batches total. If you want this sweet like a pie and don't want to add whipped cream, I'd recommend adding a bit more syrup to sweeten it since there won't been any whipped cream to sweeten it.

Pumpkin Pie Overnight Refrigerator Oats
Serves 1, shown made in a 16oz. mason jar
Ingredients:
  • 1/4c steel-cut oats
  • 1/4c pumpkin puree
  • 1T pure maple syrup
  • 1t chia seeds
  • 1/2c milk
  • 1/2t cinnamon 
  • A sprinkle of ginger
  • A sprinkle of nutmeg
  • Whipped Cream to top (optional)
  • Crumbled Graham Cracker to top (optional)
Directions:
  1. Measure dry ingredients (oats, seeds, spices) and put in jar. Add pumpkin.

  2. Add syrup, and milk.
  3. Stir well. 
  4. Cover and place in fridge.
  5. Enjoy in the morning hot or cold. Add whipped cream and/or graham cracker if desired. 



    Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff is responsible for all content in this post. These opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own. Post contains affiliate links.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Pea and Barley Soup


I mentioned that I made bread bowls the other day, but I didn't share what was IN them! With our unseasonably cool weather, I opted to try a Pea and Barley Soup recipe based off of one out of my favourite cookbook (Russian, German & Polish Food & Cooking), but altered to suit our taste and our product availability.



Pea and Barley Soup
Ingredients:
  • 1 1/4c yellow split peas
  • 1/4c pearl barley
  • 7 1/2c vegetable stock or ham stock
  • 6oz. bacon, cubed (or just cut the strips width-wise)
  • 2T butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1c. chopped celery
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Bread to serve

Directions:
  1. Rinse the peas and barley in a sieve under cold running water. Put in a large pan (the one you are going to cook it in -- I used my 6qt. sauce pot from Cuisinart) and cover with plenty of water. Place lid on pan and set on the stove (stove off) to soak overnight.
  2. The next day, drain and rinse the peas and barley. Put them back in the large pan, pour in stock, and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer gently for 40 minutes.
  3. Dry-fry the bacon cubes in a frying pan for 5 minutes or until well browned and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat behind, and set bacon aside.
  4. Add the butter to the frying pan with the bacon grease, then the onion, celery, and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the onion is just starting to colour.
  5. Add the softened vegetables and bacon to the pan of stock, peas, and barley. Season lightly with salt and pepper, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until soup is thick. Add extra black pepper to taste and serve with bread.


The original recipe called for celeriac instead of celery. Since I didn't have celeriac available, I opted for celery for taste, though I'm sure it would have thickened up more with cooked celeriac (in cubes). Either way, it tasted great, and it didn't matter that it was a bit more soupy than thick because the bread bowls I served them in absorbed the little bit of extra liquid and made them that much more delicious!


Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own. Post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Do you hear me now?



My youngest child, Squiggle (now 13mo) has never passed a hearing test in her right ear. I kept getting told it could be fluid, just wait and test again, etc etc. She failed test after test, but she does respond to sound. They said she cannot hear below 1000 hz, and that her left ear is also probably compensating.

At 6 months of age, she got  nasty ear infection (both ear drums ruptured, pus coming out, etc). It didn't go away until late February/early March. They suggested tubes since it didn't respond to antibiotics well and since she had a hearing loss. They figured it would help. She had double tubes placed in march. She has had continual ear infections (complete with pus) since (so much for tubes!), and the tube in her right ear isn't even in the ear drum anymore (so much for them helping with hearing!)... it's just chilling in the canal. The left ear is the one that keeps getting infections. You know, the one she can hear out of just fine.


Just hours after her double tube placement.
I don't know what to expect in the future with her. She seems to be doing just fine and I've refused the sedated tests where they measure something with her bones. I just didn't feel it necessary. She responds to us. She mimics us. She signs well. Thank goodness we already owned Baby Signing Time, Signing time, Potty Time, and had done ASL with Bobble. I wasn't sure how to respond to the notion that she might not hear out of one ear when she was first born, but my husband had the best response: Good thing we were learning sign language and already owned Signing Time!

He took it with that attitude. He wasn't upset or concerned. He was simply positive about it. This gave me more incentive to start watching the videos more with Bobble again. I will probably go ahead with the bone hearing test when she is older, or just wait until they can test her some other way. I feel she is doing well enough to not see the need for a sedated procedure.

Do you sign with your children? If so, what is your reason for using sign language?




Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff is responsible for the content of this post. Post contains affiliate links.

$150 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway


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To find out more on how these beds are made head over to the video below! Sleep equals health, Don't trust your sleep to just any mattress. Thanks to Pure Crafted Beds One winner will get a $150 Amazon Gift card. Giveaway ends August 21 at 11:59pm, open to US ages 18+. Only one entrant per household, per address. Winner is subject to eligibility verification. Enter using the giveaway form below. Good luck!
Disclaimer: The participating bloggers were not compensated for this post. No purchase is necessary to enter. One entrant per household, per address. Void where prohibited by law. Winner(s) will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. The sponsor(s) will be responsible for product shipment to winner(s) of this sweepstakes. This event is in no way administered, sponsored, or endorsed by, or associated with, Facebook and/or Twitter, Google, Pinterest. Contact Elia@mompoweredmedia.com if you have any additional questions or comments.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

When Cloth Diapers Are More Than Just Diapers



The other day I was heading to an Indian buffet with my youngest child, my husband and my mother who was up for a visit. I'm a sucker for Indian food, and this place is amazing. I'm not so much a fan of the fact that if you drop any food on yourself, you've secured a stain-removal attempt for your next laundry day.

I grabbed youngest's diaper bag and started reaching for her bib. I absolutely love her bumkins bibs, and I always keep one on hand in the diaper bag.

Well, almost always. Apparently I didn't replace it the last time we ate out. It happens so infrequently (us eating out) that I had no clue. It has been months since our last meal out. Thankfully, I have cloth diapers.

I always keep a "quick change" diaper on hand, meaning a pre-stuffed pocket or an AIO. After that one, however, I keep 2-3 flats and prefolds on hand. I saw no bib, but I saw a flat. I now have a bib.




As we were cleaning up youngest, I gathered the flat up in my hand and wiped a bunch of food crumbs from her into a pile and set the 'bib' down. The waitress came over and grabbed some plates and went to grab that, then stopped. She commented on how she thought it was one of their rags at first, but that it looks like a cloth diaper. I mentioned it was, but it was a bib for today. She said they love using those as rags to clean up because they do such a good job.

Didn't expect to have a cloth diaper conversation at the Indian buffet!

What other uses have you found for flats?



Disclaimer: Thoughts Of Fluff was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own. Post contains affiliate links.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Homemade Bread Bowls



The weather has been unseasonably cool lately, and I've been loving it! (Autumn is my favourite season, though!) I decided to make a soup and bread bowls for dinner the other night. I have never made any sort of yeast bread/rolls in my life, so this was a completely new experience for me. I had a lot of questions, because I had no idea what I was doing, but my friend (remotely) walked me through the process. It was not as hard as I thought it would be!

I temped the water before adding the yeast/sugar, and then took pictures to document (almost) every step of the way!

My dough didn't rise again after I deflated it and broke it into balls, but that's okay because it turned out great anyway. I think it didn't rise again because I kept breaking it apart and resizing everything (thus, technically kneading the bread again which could have over-done it). I also didn't have any flour sack towels (despite hearing how awesome they are for using as cloth diapers!), so I used the smooth side of my unpaper towel to cover my bread for it to rise.

These turned out great, too! Everyone loved it, though hubby (who has been cutting back on refined sugar and grains like this) only ate half of his bowl. The recipe was from allrecipes.com :

French Bread Rolls to Die For
Original recipe yields 16 rolls

Ingredients :










Directions:
  1. In a large bowl, stir together warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. To the yeast mixture, add the oil, salt, and 2 cups flour. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat. Cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
  3. Deflate the dough, and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces, and form into round balls. Place on lightly greased baking sheets at least 2 inches apart. Cover the rolls with a damp cloth, and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  4. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.
The only thing(s) I did differently were I used sunflower oil instead of vegetable oil, and I only baked the bread bowls for 8 minutes. It didn't need 18-20 minutes.

Below is the walk-through of my first time making bread. It was not as difficult as I feared it would be.

The Yeast/sugar/water mixture is ready!
Stirring in the flour mixture to the yeast/water

As you mix, it gets so thick you have to use your hands
My dough ball! Time to knead!

It rose!!!
Covered with a damp (unpaper) towel. Use a smooth material, not the terry side! (oil top of dough well so it doesn't stick to the towel!)


Cut into size desired (and let rise again)
Deflate!




Baked until done! (They aren't golden as I didn't coat with butter or an egg wash before baking)
Bottom is lightly browned
Cut the top off the bread at an angle, using fingers to hollow out the rest
 
Toddler-sized bread bowl with fresh, hot soup!


Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own. Post contains affiliate links.