Superbowl Sunday Cooking With Kids: Easy Potato Skins for the Whole Family.

baked potato skins

Cooking for kids can be downright CRAZY, not to mention when it’s Superbowl Party time! So I did something even CRAZIER. I enlisted them into my kitchen. Now my food making team is as ready and tough as the football teams we are going to watch this weekend. Less stress for me, and more fun for the kids! They love it!

We’re talking “cooking with kids” instead of  “for the kids”.

You might find this a smart move, but it didn’t come from me. After my daughter got downright tired of me complaining about how much cooking I do earlier this week, she got out her Junior Chef cookbook from Paragon Publishing Junior Chef Cookbook and found this great recipe for potato skins.

I had no idea she planned to do it right then and there.

With some items for dinner already started, I was happy for the help. Her baby sister would soon be  ready to eat and I thought these little fancy twice baked, already mashed, potatoes would work.

And it did work. These skins were actually an amazing success! These delicious little bundles could working for a party, a lunch box with a microwave near by, or for football  Sundays. Here in Steeler Country you always have to be prepared for game day. Great Pittsburgh football food is a must.

The best part of this easy to prepare food is that it help meal planning. Mom, Dad, kiddo and baby all loved them. One kid makes them, and everyone gets to eat.

Here is what you’ll need:

4 large Potatoes (we used red, and they even worked fine.)

1/2 stick butter (we used Earth Balance)

4 oz. thin sliced ham, turkey or chicken

Salt and Pepper (to taste)

4 oz cheese optional

Recipe: (for safety a grown up is needed for oven work, piercing with fork and cutting)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F/200 degrees C/gas mark 6.
  2. Prick potatoes with a fork and place on a baking sheet.
  3. Bake in the oven for 60 minutes, until they are soft inside and the skins crisp.
  4. Remove from oven and cut potatoes in half once cool
  5. Scoop out the soft insides into a mixing bowl. Don’t damage the skins.
  6. Mash the potatoes and add butter, salt and pepper.
  7. Place the skins on a baking sheet.
  8. Lay a thin layer of meat of choice on the bottom of each shell.
  9. Spoon the mashed potato mixture on top to fill the shell.
  10. Grate the cheese and sprinkle on top.
  11. Place them back in the oven and cook for 15 minutes more until the tops are golden brown.
  12. Serve and Enjoy!

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Despite the time it took to bake the potatoes, and the curtains I have to replace due to extensive butter splatter (I’m not kidding), this recipe is a winner.

Feeding Baby: How Do I Feed My Baby Solids?

Everyone loved these Potato skins, and baby could pick up little potato balls I molded myself from the potato mash. Baby found them easy to smash even without teeth!

Most importantly, make sure this texture is right for your baby. Always adjust the potato mash to what is right, even if you have to puree it in a food processor and a little milk, etc. Safety First!

Easy to make into balls, and no lumps. This is my “Potato Rainbow” for baby.

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My little one had a fun time with the potato rainbow which ended up being a great fine motor task for my baby who is obsessed with using her pinch to pick up everything these days! When I use this for football Sunday, she will enjoy herself as much as all of us adults chowing down on ribs!

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Mindful Meal Planning for the Whole Family

The whole family loved them! And what pride my “junior chef” experienced after they were all eaten. She could not believe that she cooked something for baby, as well as a food the rest of the family enjoyed as well. Who said a little mindful meal planning for our football parties wasn’t possible? Now I have proved that it is!

Heck, that’s mom’s job, right?

Thankfully, not anymore.

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Smash it up even a third time for fun! These went down in a minute and baby was looking for more. Out of luck, all gone.

This recipe was a happy accident for us.  As for my immediate meal planning, these are going down in history this Super Bowl Sunday with a big side of baby back ribs! This is one Superbowl party food that kids can cook! Enjoy!

 

Feeding Your Baby: Teach Your Baby Strong Emotional Skills Naturally!

Have fun trying first foods with your baby!

The most important idea to remember when feeding your baby new foods: Emotional foundations are laid when baby is eating.

There are, of course, hundreds of baby- and toddler-oriented cookbooks to help you with meal ideas, and so many great organic baby-food pouches you can buy. Great! But how do you get the food in? And how do you help your baby feel like they are good little eaters? Easy….

Tons of Exploring to warm up! The feeding chair is a place of great curiosity.

Tons of Exploring to warm up! The feeding chair is a place of great curiosity and safety.

Parent Referencing: When your baby is unsure about something, they look to see your facial expression for a hint. This is so important to emotional and social neuron formation! They look at you and if you are smiling, they know it is OK to explore the food. If you are angry, scowling, frustrated, or distracted, and your eyes, face and body position show it, they will tense up or won’t be sure if the food is OK. Who likes to eat when they’re all stressed out, right? Teaching kids to trust that you are there for them during feeding builds the foundation for kids with good social skills and self-regulation later.

Look at the focus on baby! Asking

Look at the focus on baby! Asking “This looks great, but I’m not sure. Mom, is this OK?”

This food is Wicked Good....or maybe just Wicked! I don't know but I'm willing to try.

This food is Wicked Good….or maybe just Wicked! I don’t know but I’m willing to try.

Don’t give up too soon! New foods and new textures seem to get the same response. It’s a response that says”What in the world is this?” Usually, baby will spit out some food while making silly (and sometimes horrid) faces! Add texture slowly and combine it with a pureed food that baby likes. An example would be fruit with a small amount of baked chicken breast pureed in the food processor. For more recipes go here.* This is OK around 8 months and I love to do this with bananas or avocado.  It takes 10 to 15 tries for a new food to be accepted. Don’t give up! And take it slow!

Look at me! I can handle this! What is this anyway?”

This is your chance to eat well!  Moms model that the food is safe. Babies reach for mom’s and dad’s mouth to learn what is safe to eat, so let your baby explore. This means you can’t eat junk food and processed food if you want your baby to eat and be healthy. Remember, food is always better than cold and flu medications, so it pays off to put in the effort. I usually cook healthy items for our family dinner that I can puree in the food processor. I have the food processor ready and clean most of the time!

By the end of meal time, baby is more confident! “Mom, I so got this! Don’t Mess with my mess! Bring it on mama!”

The last idea is basic (Sometimes I still forget). Make sure baby is hungry. Not too hungry, or you’ll need to get her started with a bottle or breast to calm her down. With solid foods, regular feeding times work best for me because I can get a feel for times of day when she is most hungry and then plan my food prep around that.

puree banan and peaches with chicken new

Six Easy Tricks for a Well Fed Infant

feeding an infant

When moving from milk to solid foods, use these tips and enjoy the pics!

MASTER TRICK! Make sure you tell your little bundle she’s a great eater. No matter what! They are too little to be deviant so all they can do is their best! They know when you are happy and if you tell them they are “great”- they will be. Sounds like magic? Nope, just psychology. It’s called positive identity development.

First Foods! Yah!

Let your infant explore textures in their mouths when they first ween from only milk. They are familiar with only liquid, so give them a chance. Give your baby 10 opportunities for each new food, because it can take that many exposures for them to like it.

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Mess is Best! Let them explore the food with their hands too!

Messsssssssy Hands!

Let them explore the safe baby spoon. They see the family with their spoons and they want to try too.

A spoon can be so very interesting for an infant!

Don’t worry that most of the food comes out instead of going in, at first. Your baby is still getting milk as their main form of nourishment at the beginning, so they won’t miss out on needed nutrients. They have a reflex called “tongue thrust”, and it pushes out the food as a safety for not choking should a larger unsafe item enter their mouth. Texture exposure is what we are after in the beginning, not nutrient intake.

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All smiles at the table with this little SWEET PEA!

Let your baby explore safe solid food, that won’t break into small pieces, so they won’t choke.  Good examples are a hard carrot or sugar snap pea. They see the family eating it and want to try.  This is called “Baby Lead Weaning” and it is all about following the baby’s lead. Safe food, liquid, puree or something that they won’t choke on is OK.

Breastfeeding Secrets

 

Breastfeeding Joys are as many as grains of sand.

Breastfeeding Joys are as many as grains of sand.

Breastfeeding is hard work, but joyful in so many ways. Its an experience in which so many women should be supported and encouraged, as well as celebrated for doing.  So here are  2 great breastfeeding secrets to make life easier! I found both by accident really, living in Pittsburgh, one when I had my first daughter, and the 2nd when my dear friend Jacki had her second child. I would assume you could find these great secrets in other cities too.

I say these are secrets, because I was not told about them, but rather stumbled upon them. Because my doctors did not discussing these helpful breastfeeding aids, I assume yours might not eaither. So…I will.

Both of these items made a HUGE difference in my breastfeeding success. Without these 2 items, as well as my husband’s patience and support for the first 3 months on, I don’t think I would have been able to nurse. Breastfeeding is hard work, and these two items definitely make it easier.

Breastfeeding Secret #1: Newman’ Nipple Cream

I used this cream to sooth my sore nipple during the first few weeks. This cream gave me relief when I needed it. My nipples were so sore when I started nursing, i could only wear my husband shirts. I had no idea how I was going to leave the house in my strange outfits let alone keep nursing. After using this cream, I breathed a sign of relief. It was good enough to keep me going, and I am now gratefully at 6 months nursing.

It is a light cream that has an analgesic, anit-fungal and anti-bacterial property to it, and it can only be purchased at a compounding pharmacy. It was $35.

SO…where can you get it? I originally got a prescription from the doctors at the Breastfeeding Center of Pittsburgh  and got it compounded at the Murray Avenue Apothicary. With my second daughter, my physician, Dr. Galligher prescribed it after I told him how much discomfort I was in the first time around.

Breastfeeding Secret #2: Breast Friend Breastfeeding Pillow

Can a pillow really be your best friend? In times of trouble….YES! The Breast Friend pillow was recommended after my friend had trouble nursing and was given the “Breast Friend” pillow to try. She said she couldn’t have done it without her “breast friend” and nursed for over a year with it. I use it whenever I need a positioning shift or baby needs to focus on eating.

The pillow is designed for perfect ergonomic comfort for both baby and mom, and has even stopped some nursing behaviors we were experiencing this time around due to it’s awesome support and comfort for baby.  It works in so many different chairs too, even some that are not very supportive or ideal for breast feeding. I LOVE THIS PILLOW. It is my best friend.

So for all Pittsburgh breastfeeding mom’s, let me first say that “You are awesome for doing the hard work required to breastfeed.” For all Pittsburgh pregnant mom’s hoping to nurse, I wish you the best and offer these two items that I would never be caught without again. For mom’s everywhere, I hope you can get these products in your hometown too and I wish you all the joys possible from breastfeeding your baby!

Shepard’s Pie for Baby, Toddler, and the Whole Family.

 

Leprechaun Beard

It might be the night before St. Patrick’s day, but the point of this entry is that it is the night before…..not the night after. Time still remains to make a family tradition out of this very green holiday. Serious or silly, recycled (green) or newly constructed, this occasion can be one that brings families together to enjoy each other.

This year we are making leprechaun beards out of construction paper and string, creating homespun tall tales about St. Patrick’s Day, and making some yummy food! Shepard’s Pie for the whole family. Once it’s cooked toddler will love it too. I remember last year I pureed it for baby but this year all the parts of the pie make for great finger food. It’s good for baby’s first foods (pureed), toddler finger foods and the rest of the family too!

In addition to some hearty Irish Food, one tradition I always try to honor on St. Patrick’s Day is getting together and connecting with friends. Franz Schubert said “Happy is a person who finds a true friend” and this year I reached out to my dear friend Kristen to see what she and her family were up to in Charlotte, NC. She is an amazing friend and I am one lucky lass to know her. Continue reading