Baby Favourites: Five Months In

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Time for another round of baby faves! As Leo continues to grow we find more things that make our days much easier. Here they are:

Munchkin Bottle Warmer – Heats up a bottle in 90 seconds, which is long enough to wait when you have a hungry baby on your hands. Also worth noting that we’ve tried the more expensive Avent Warmer and the Munchkin one wins hands down for speed and ease of use.

Fisher Price Play Mat – Leo loves everything about this, from the mirror he can see himself in to the piano he can play music with when he kicks his feet. Also interesting for him to look at during tummy time.

Avent Microwave Bottle Sterilizer – Super handy for sterilizing bottles in a hurry as well as breast pump parts.

Evenflo Double Electric Breast Pump – My sister has this and seeing how well it worked for a fraction of the cost of most electric pumps I bit the bullet. It really does the job well!

Summer Infant Swaddle Me Wrap Sack – Remember how I plugged the Halo sleep sack in my last favourites post? Well, I have a new preference. This variety has a way better zipper system at the bottom for changing diapers. These are also way cheaper than the Halo ones. Now that he is rolling over we have moved him to a sleep sack but these are our fave swaddles by far.

Wet and Dry Bag – I always keep one in my diaper bag for cloth diapers but one day Leo ended up blowing out through his whole outfit (and his CARSEAT, I might add) while at the mall and I was able to shove the whole mess in this bag until we got home to wash it. Lifesaver.

Jolly Jumper – Aside from bath time, this is Leo’s favourite thing to do. It’s nice to have another way to entertain him.

Padraig’s – These beautiful slippers were a gift from a friend and they are wonderful. So well made and cozy for this colder weather.

Fisher Price 4 in 1 High Chair – I’d been going back and forth on what high chair we should get Leo and I had a long wish list: small space friendly, folds flat to store, multiple uses, easy to clean, gender neutral and not $400. This is PERFECT. I’ve already loved using the space saver option rather than buying a Bumbo. Highly recommend it.

Jolly Jumper Cuddle Bag – We are loving this for the colder weather and so is Leo. It keeps him super cozy and he often falls asleep in it while we are out and about.

What baby items couldn’t you live without?

 

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Healthed-Up Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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I’ve been keeping these in my back pocket for months now. Not literally, of course. But the recipe!

During my pregnancy I decided I needed something healthier to indulge in when my cookie cravings were rampant. These are gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free and surprisingly delicious!

I wouldn’t recommend tinkering with the recipe a ton because it can be finicky. Oat flour can vary in its coarseness so if your dough seems way too wet, try adding a bit more. I love the nutty flavour it gives the cookies, especially coupled with coconut sugar, which gives a toasty flavour that reminds me of graham crackers. Also, don’t think about skipping the chilling or you will have a mess on your hands.

These cookies are super filling and delicious fresh out of the oven and dunked in milk. I do prefer them the day they are baked so I freeze the extra dough balls and bake fresh as needed. Give them a try the next time you need a healthier treat!

Healthed-Up Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Makes one dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, measured solid
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups oat flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks

Instructions:

Line a large cookie sheet with parchment or silicone liner.

Melt the coconut oil in a large mixing bowl in the microwave (or melt it on the stove and add it to a large bowl), then stir in the sugar until smooth. Chill mixture for ten minutes or so in the refrigerator until room temperature.

Once mixture is cooled, stir in the egg and vanilla. Then add the flour, salt and baking soda. Mix well until dough forms. It might seem a bit wet but this is normal. Stir in the chocolate chunks then drop tablespoons of dough onto the prepared cookie sheet. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325 degrees and bake cookies for 6-8 minutes. The oat flour dries out quickly so don’t overbake! The centres should look a bit raw. Let cool, then store in an airtight container.

Notes:

Don’t chill the dough without scooping the cookies first unless you have time for it to warm back up. It gets really hard and you’ll have trouble scooping it after it’s cooled.

I like to flash freeze the cookie dough balls during the chilling stage and then store them in a freezer bag for cookie emergencies. Just bake the frozen dough balls for an extra minute!

I buy my coconut sugar and oat flour at Bulk Barn. You can also blend oats until fine to make your own oat flour.

 

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Three Months of Motherhood

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Happy September! Before I had Leo I kept saying that I felt like June was the perfect time to have a baby because I got to enjoy the summer. In retrospect I think maybe March or April would be the perfect time. I finally feel like I’m just sort of starting to get a bit more sleep and finding some comfortability in my role as a new mom and…summer is over? Ah well. Life is becoming so much more fun with our little guy and every day is something new.

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Although we weren’t able to do a bunch of the traditional summer things like camping or beaching we did several road trips to visit family, grilled a ton and ate our fair share of ice cream. I learned to bake pie and became obsessed with trying new ones (next up, French Silk). We went for a ton of walks around our neighbourhood and just worked on adjusting to life as a family of four.

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Leo is doing great. His tummy issues seem to be resolved mostly due to my cutting a few things out of my diet, onion being the one he absolutely can’t seem to tolerate. Breastfeeding is still going well and we’ve even gotten him down to one nighttime feed a few times recently which makes me feel like a million bucks with a bit more sleep under my belt. He is growing like crazy and every time we see the doctor she is always shocked at how quickly he’s jumped up. He’s now over fourteen pounds after coming home from the hospital at six. His first vaccinations came and went and were heartbreaking of course. He’s smiling a ton, chatting more and more and loves being sung to.

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Some things I’ve found really helpful as a new mom:

– forcing myself to get out of the house once a day even if for a minor errand (unless baby is having an off day of course)

 
– handing over bathtime and a bedtime bottle to Tommy so I can have some time to myself if desired. This has become an awesome bonding time for them.

 
– meal prep at the beginning of each week. I prep overnight oat bowls for the week’s breakfasts as well as some sort of a healthy lunch. Some of my favourites: Quinoa Glow Bowls, Italian Pasta Salad and Curry Chicken Salad. This is especially helpful on those crazy fussy days.

 
– also, making a batch of something healthy to snack on each week, like granola bars or energy bites. This keeps me from eating junk when sleep deprived. Bonus points that these recipes in particular are good for lactation.

 
– just being honest when I’m having a hard time and could use some help. After a long string of sleepless nights I confessed to my family how much I was struggling and they have made regular trips to visit since then. It’s been a huge weight lifted for me.

 
– the new Tim Horton’s iced lattes. Have you tried them yet?

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Things I’d like to prioritize for fall: look into some sort of mommy and me activity with Leo, get in as many walks as we can before it gets cold and start reading again! I’ve totally slacked off on that front. I’d also like to fit in a date with my husband, and wear something other than sweatpants in front of him, although he’d never complain. He’s a good sport, that guy.

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I had grand plans to blog a ton on maternity leave but I keep reminding myself that these days are fleeting and I just want to soak up all I can. I also fear that this is coming across as a bit of a mommy blog these days, but it’s always been a reflection of my current life and nowadays it’s all about the baby over here! I do have several posts in the works, like our current fave baby products, a cloth diaper update and a healthed-up chocolate chip cookie recipe I’ve had in the works forever but still need to share. How was your summer?

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Cherry Streusel Pie

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Have I ever told you that I’m not a pie fan? It’s always been my last choice when it comes to dessert. Coincidentally, I also happen to be married to a man who requests pie on the regular and in truth, I usually try to steer him in a different direction. Until lately, that is.

Having a new baby means I’m often sitting up in the middle of the night and internet-ing and I kept coming across incredible looking pies with summer fruits. I was missing being in the kitchen and felt like challenging myself so I decided to make Tom’s day and bake him one. The first pie I made entirely from scratch was this blueberry crumble one and it came out so well that I was inspired.

I quickly learned that making pie isn’t nearly the production I’d imagined it to be, and it even happens to be a fabulous dessert to make with a new baby. I can make all of the components at different times and set it aside if I need to; a cake would never tolerate such treatment.

For Tom’s birthday this year, he requested pie instead of cake. His ultimate favourite is cherry and I got right to work. I mixed a few different recipes to come up with this one. The crust is flaky, the filling is bright and juicy and the streusel adds the perfect salty-sweet crunch on top. Something about making a pie is just so darn satisfying to me now and this one will be made over and over around these parts.

Cherry Streusel Pie
Serves 8

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup shortening, softened
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup ice water

Cherry Filling:

  • 600 gram bag frozen dark sweet cherries, thawed
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. corn starch
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt

Streusel:

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

Instructions:

Make the crust:

Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Add the butter and shortening. Using a pastry cutter or the paddle attachment on your stand mixer, cut the butter and shortening into the mixture until it is pea-sized bits with a few larger bits of fat.

Measure 1/2 cup of water in a cup. Add ice. Stir it around. From that, measure 1/2 cup of water– since the ice has melted a bit. Drizzle the cold water in, 1 tbsp. at a time, and stir after every tbsp. added. Do not add any more water than you need to. Stop adding water when the dough begins to form large clumps.

Transfer the pie dough to a floured work surface. The dough should come together easily and should not feel overly sticky. Using floured hands, fold the dough into itself until the flour is fully incorporated into the fats. Form it into a ball. Divide dough in half. Flatten each half into 1-inch thick discs using your hands. Wrap each tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours (and up to 5 days).

Make the cherry filling:

Reserve 1/2 cup cherry juice in a bowl and mix in the lemon juice and corn starch. Set aside. Pour the bag of cherries and remaining juice in a pot with the sugar, salt and vanilla. Cook on medium heat for a few minutes while mashing the cherries until you have some larger and smaller pieces. Once the cherries are bubbling, stir in the cornstarch and juice mix and cook for another minute until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and cool before placing in pie crust.

Make the streusel:

Mix together all dry ingredients and then stir in the melted butter until thick and crumbly.

Assemble and bake:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat and set aside.

Roll out your pie dough on a floured surface to a 12 inch circle. Place the rolled out crust in a 9 inch pie plate, smooth it out to fit and trim and shape the edges as desired.

Fill the crust with the cooled cherry filling and top that with the streusel. Place the pie on the prepared baking sheet. Bake the pie for 20 minutes and then remove it from the oven, cover it with foil and turn the oven down to 375 degrees. Continue to bake the pie for another 30-35 minutes, and remove from oven once crust and streusel are lightly golden.

Let the pie cool completely before cutting into slices and serving.

Note:

The crust recipe makes two crusts, but it freezes great for up to three months so you can keep the other on hand for the next time you need it, or just make a double-crust cherry pie.

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Crust from here.

Filling adapted from here.

 

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