Easy Homemade Applesauce

 

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I had some cute helpers today. We made the applesauce and used it to make fruit leather all this morning. I peeled and cut the seeds out of the apples, my 5 year old cut the apples into small pieces with a butter knife, and my 2 year old put the pieces into the pan. I love it when we can do these things together. We love the time together and they’re learning at the same time. It’s important to involve your kids in homemaking projects so they learn how to do it, and remember doing it for when they’re grown and raising a family of their own. There is a lot of value to homemaking vs purchasing all of your food factory made: it’s healthier, more cost effective, and you all learn the value of hard work.

My two year old, Zach, “I’m Captain American with my HUGE shield!” HUGE is his favorite word lately. Mom is huge (awesome), dad is huge, he’s huge, his toys are huge… everything is HUGE!! AKA-awesome

EASY HOMEMADE APPLESAUCE

  • ABOUT 10-12 small apples or 7-8 large (just go by how much you want to make)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (if you’re using a sweet variety you don’t need sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 2 cups water (add more if needed- based on how many apples you used)

Peel and cut apples into large chunks (minus seeds of course). Place them in a large sauce pan or stock pot with water, sugar, and cinnamon (optional). Bring to boil and boil until apples are cooked (about 20 minutes). Place apples and water (plus one more cup if you like) in blender and blend to desired consistency. If you’re making fruit leather with your apple sauce, blend until completely smooth with no chunks.

If canning, place in clean freezer safe jars with new lids (seal by placing lid and ring on immediately). Allow to sit on counter top until cool and stick them in the freezer. If you’re planning on freezing it, I’d make it a little thicker so you don’t get runny applesauce when you thaw it out. You can also freeze them in freezer Ziplock bags.

If you’re making fruit leather, I’d definitely add that extra cup of water, maybe even  1.5 cups, so it’ll go further. My dehydrator has 10 trays and to fill them all I have to double the recipe. One single recipe, if you add extra water, you’ll get about 5 trays of leather.

SUPER EASY! No added chemicals or preservatives. DEAL. I hope you love it and I’d love to hear all about it.

Dehydrator madness!

We bought a dehydrator a month or two ago and we’ve been going craaazeee! We love it! I’ve made tons of fruit leather, dried apples and peaches, and dried herbs (basil and rosemary). The basil was a pain in the you-know-where and I probably won’t do it again. I got two pints of dried rosemary and it was super easy. Once it is dry, you pull it off of the stem like you did with pine needles when you were a kid. It was therapeutic and a little nostalgic (I loved picking pine needles as a kid!). It smelt AAAUUUmazing.

My parents have the most amazing herb, vegetable, and fruit garden. We’ve gotten peaches, apples, basil, rosemary, cucumbers, potatoes, zucchini, onions, blackberries, beans, corn, tomatoes, carrots, strawberries, peas, kale, eggplant, beets, and more. I tried dehydrating the cucumbers… disgusting! So bitter and just nasty. Don’t do it.  Anyway, we love being in their probably 1/4 acre garden. It is spiritual, educational, and therapeutic. There is something spiritual about being in nature and seeing it grow. We love to show our boys that when you put in hard work and time, you will literally see the fruits of your labors. My dad taught be how to work hard in that garden when I was a kid. I look forward to having one, one day too!

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One of my boys’ favorites is apple fruit leather. I make it from my homemade applesauce. This time around I purchased my apples from Alpine Food Storage . They are my go-to for food storage and also weekly shopping (along with Costco). We were able to get 18 pounds of pink lady apples (my favorite) for $15. DONE DEAL!

So to make the APPLE fruit leather, all you do is:

  • Take your homemade (my recipe) or store-bought applesauce and spread it on parchment paper or tray liners. I put about 1 to 1.5 cups of applesauce on each tray.
  • Dry at 135 degrees for 4-8 hours. I have a rectangle shaped dehydrator so I flip the trays every couple of hours so they cook evenly. That is a wide range, but it depends on your dehydrator and how much you put on each tray. Just keep an eye on it.
  • To get all 10 trays on my dehydrator filled I have to double my applesauce recipe. I didn’t to that today, but dried apple slices on the remaining trays.
  • To make it more pliable, which I forgot to do today dang it, add one banana to each blender mixture. It works like a charm! Then it won’t be crispy and breakable.
  • I keep mine in the garage so it doesn’t heat up my house on warm days.

 

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And there you have it! You can also make it with your oven and a cookie sheet. It just takes longer and will heat up your house (which is great during the winter). I’ll share some of my other yummy recipes on another post. Let me know how you like it!

 

Homemade Tomato, Basil, Tortellini, and Kielbasa Soup

WOW! It has been a month since I have posted on the blog! Whoops…

We’ve had a busy month! My husband was gone for two weeks plus a weekend, he had his 32nd birthday, his sister got married, we got a dehydrator so I’ve been making lots of snacks and drying herbs, school started, new baby, soccer, family time, family pictures, and I’m too tired to think of what else haha

With busy family life it’s important to have quick, easy, and healthy dinners or it doesn’t happen and we get a $5 hot and ready pizza instead. Last night I made tomato and basil soup with grilled cheese sandwiches. The kids downed the sandwiches, but didn’t love the soup; however, my husband and I loved the soup. With the leftover soup tonight I added tortellini and beef kielbasa. It was delicious, healthy (well, mostly), and very filling. I hope you love it too!

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TOMATO BASIL SOUP

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 7 cups fresh tomatoes, diced (canned works too)
  • 1 1/2 handfuls of fresh basil (I’m sure you could used a few tsp of dried basil- just experiment)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2-1 tsp pepper
  • OTHER (optional): Package of tortellini and kielbasa sausage, cheese

Dice tomatoes and set aside. Heat olive oil in stock pot then add onion and garlic. Sautee for 3-4 minutes until soft and onions are transparent. Add tomatoes and cook until they are broken down and soft, stirring frequently. Add basil, salt, and pepper. Mix in your blender until desired thickness (I blended quite a bit). Set aside OR eat as is.

If you want to add the tortellini and kielbasa- continue. Cook tortellini according to package directions then drain and leave in colander. Use the same sauce pan to cook the kielbasa. This should only take a couple of minutes because it comes precooked. You’re really just heating it up and getting some of the juice and oils surfaced. Add tortellini and cook with kielbasa for a minute or so. Add the tomato soup and heat through for 5-10 minutes on a low boil. Sprinkle with cheese (optional) ENJOY!

Mexican Style zucchini boats

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These are similar to stuffed peppers, but zucchini style! I made these for dinner tonight and they were a hit! Everyone loved them. My kids wouldn’t eat the zucchini, but they loved the rice mixture… I’ll take it though! I think the rice mixture would be good on salads, tortillas, as a side dish… just a few other uses I can think of. It was really yummy and easy to make!

Mexican Style Zucchini Boats

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 2 tsp taco seasoning
  • 1 medium-large pepper (I used green but any color would work)
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can beans (I used pinto but black would be yummy too)
  • 1 cup cooked rice or quinoa (I did 1/2 and 1/2)
  • 1 cup salsa
  • Mexican blend cheese
  • A few zucchinis

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Warm olive oil in a deep skillet. Chop pepper and onion into small pieces. Add onion, peppers, and taco seasoning to warm oil and saute for a 2-3 minutes (until soft). Add corn, beans, rice, and salsa to skillet. Warm for about 5 minutes. Lightly coat a 9×13″ pan with oil or spray. Cut zucchini vertically in half, hollow out the centers, and arrange in oiled pan. Fill zucchini with mixture, sprinkle with cheese, cover with foil, and bake for 25 minutes. Enjoy!

 

easy as pie sleep training

I have to tell you- I’ve always hated articles like this because they always made me feel like I was the only one doing things wrong. I am not a doctor or a master at sleep training. This is my third baby and the other two kids took YEARS to fall asleep on their own. I have read recommended books, articles, and taken advice from other mamas but sleep training never seemed to end very successfully. Maybe I was too impatient, I don’t know, but I was determined with baby number three to get him falling asleep on his own from about three months. All three of my babies have been colicky. So between years of unsuccessful training and colic it seemed like a hefty goal to have him falling asleep on his own so soon, but we did it and I’m going to share what we did. I hope my experience will help you too.

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(Isn’t my baby so sweet!!!???)

A couple of tips first:

It’s important that your baby isn’t overtired. Start the process when he’s sleepy, but not upset. Your baby will start to yawn, heavy eyes, it’ll be close to routine nap/bedtime, trying to eat even if he/she isn’t hungry, and your babe might start getting a little fussy. They’ll usually warn you before they’re full out exhausted. But let’s get real, it’s going to happen from time-to-time so they’ll just need a little extra feeding/soothing time. Don’t stress.

Colic seems to let up around three months and bad sleeping habits cannot be formed until four months, and so I started training him at 3 1/2 months. Babies also need to eat less often at three months than when they’re newborns, so you can get away with feeding your baby less often.

I use this sound machine. It’s soothing and helps block out the noise from his big brothers. myBaby SoundSpa Portable

My baby likes to be warm even borderline hot when he’s sleeping so even this summer I had him in warm jammies.

If your baby doesn’t have a sleeping schedule then it is time to form one. Here is mine. It’s not exactly the same time every day, but we try to stick pretty close to this. Some people are more strict about schedules than I am, but just do what is best for you.

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Now the process:

    1. I still fed my baby to sleep the first few days of training, but woke him when laying him down. To do this, I would unlatch him from breast or bottle right after he fell asleep and then lay him down immediately. I didn’t give him time to fall into a deep sleep before putting him in his crib. He held (and still holds) a muslin blanket in his arm away from me while he’s nursing, and then would lay him down with it for him to cuddle. Make sure it is MUSLIN because they’re breathable and won’t suffocate your baby. It may take a few days for your baby to be OK with this step and that is OK. It’s fine to let him/her cry for about 15 minutes as long as it is a tired/fussy cry, and not a distressed cry. Repeat this step if you need to.
    2. He did step two for a few days and now I feed him for a minute or two on each breast, lay him down awake, talk to him for a minute, and walk out (don’t forget the blanket). He will usually fuss or talk to himself for a few minutes, but he  will usually fall asleep on his own. It only took about a week for him to pick up on the process.
    3. When he’s a little bigger I plan on eliminating feeding him before naps altogether. He still needs that extra little bit to hold him over nap time. At night, I give him an extra feeding before bed.

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Mason, my baby, is off to a much better start than my other two kids were when they were babies. I just couldn’t figure it out, so don’t feel bad it if takes you some trial and error too! Jaxon, my oldest, up until he was five (so until a few weeks ago) always needed dad in the room to fall asleep. If my husband was home, he HAD to be in the room until Jaxon fell asleep. Before that, until age three, he had to have a bottle in bed. We’re trying to break the bottle (in bed) habit with our 2 1/2 year old now. I was not about to repeat that with Mason! It’s not the worst thing in the world, but it definitely makes potty training difficult. It also makes it hard to develop healthy sleeping routines- OK, so it is the worst thing in the world…

Also, remember everything is a phase! Their sleeping will suffer if they’re teething, sick, new life changes, and unexplained reasons on some days. It’s going to happen so try not to get downhearted, keep chugging along, and rest when you can. Ironically, it took three hours to get my baby to take a nap today. He just fell asleep in his swing haha! He usually does great though!

chicken & vegetable soup

This is one of our favorite recipes! My kids love it, it makes a ton so we have leftovers or freezer meals, it’s inexpensive to make, it’s healthy, and did I say my kids love it?? The veggies are pretty interchangeable. I usually just use whatever vegetables I have that need to get eaten. I add noodles on occasion. I don’t usually measure my veggies either so this is an estimate. Eye-ball it and add more if you want more! Don’t be scared off by the long list of ingredients. I can make it for a few dollars and it lasts for days!

My 5 year old requested this for lunch today, but it was lunch time and it takes about an hour to make so we had it for dinner. They gobbled everything in their bowl up! I’ve been making this for about three years and it never gets old. It’s one of our staple foods during the fall and winter seasons, and we don’t grow tired of it until spring. Then we wait until fall so it’s a new food to throw back into the rotation. I also make this when I have a neighbor or friend to cook for. It’s great when you’re sick too. It’s light, but gives your body the nutrition it needs to heal.

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Chicken and Vegetable Soup:

  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 small chopped onion
  • 1-2 cups chopped carrots
  • 1-2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 chopped zucchini (optional)
  • 12 cups water + bullion
  • 1-2 cups diced potatoes (red or russet- we prefer red)
  • 2 cans of green beans (or a few handfuls of fresh)
  • 2 cans of corn
  • A few scoops of frozen peas
  • 2-3 cooked & shredded chicken breasts or part of a rotissery chicken
  • 3/4 tsp Basil
  • 3/4 tsp Thyme
  • 1 Tbs Salt

Step 1. Warm oil in stock pot. I have one similar to this one and I love it.  Rachael Ray Hard Anodized II Nonstick Dishwasher Safe 10-Quart Covered Stockpot, Orange

Step 2. While the oil is warming; chop the carrots, onion, celery, and zucchini. Add to oil, sautee & stir frequently for 3-4 minutes.

Step 3. Add water and bring to boil. Add bullion and potatoes and boil for 10 minutes. You could add noodles here too or cook them separately and add them at the end with the chicken and spices.

Step 4. Add any remaining vegetables: beans, corn, peas etc. and boil for 7ish minutes (until everything is soft).

Step 5. Stir in chicken and spices. It’ll be VERY hot so turn off the stove, but allow the flavors to sit together for a few minutes then serve.

(Side tip- Easy way to cook chicken: Thin breasts out if needed (usually is) and place them in an 8×8 glass baking dish. Fill dish until you’re about 1/2 inch above the chicken, and cover the dish with plastic wrap. Cook in the microwave for about 10 minutes. It comes out perfectly cooked and moist. Shred and add to soup at the end! I’ll usually have this cooking while the potatoes are boiling. You could throw some spices in with it, but it’s not really needed for this dish.

leg workout from trainwithshawn.com

My 3 month old is finally starting to sleep better at night, HALLELUJAH! He only woke up once last night. He slept from 9pm-4:15 then until almost 8! So I’m feeling like my body can handle working out again. I worked out yesterday and it felt great.

I’m a nursing mama and you burn approx. 200 calories every time you nurse. So it definitely takes energy from your body. This is why I think it’s a good idea to wait to hit the gym (or living room floor like me) hard until you’re able to sleep somewhat well and you aren’t nursing every 2 hours. Go for walks or short jogs the first few months. Your body obviously needs to heal, but I’m talking about after your 6 week clearance. My baby is 3 1/2 months and I’m just starting my workout routine. I know some will disagree with me, but this is what I found works best for me. I tried to start working out a few weeks ago, but my body wasn’t ready. If you’re fatigued you’re more prone to injury, and as a mama of busy boys I’m constantly on the move so I can’t risk injury.

My husband is a personal trainer and he constructs customized workout and nutrition plans at a very affordable price! Email him (find his email on trainwithshawn.com) and tell him you found his link through my website and he’ll give you 10% off ANY PLAN. This will never expire through my website. He also offers a money back guarantee so there is no risk. This is a sample leg workout that he put together for me. My. legs. were. JELLO! It was awesome!

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