Monday, October 20, 2014

Taking Stock Vol XII

making: crockpot BBQ chicken for dinner tonight.

cooking: Thanksgiving recipes to post on the blog.

drinking: water.

reading: Last Call by Rob Cornell

wanting: it to remain light longer in the evenings.

crafting: a top secret DIY tutorial for an upcoming post.

wishing: William would go to bed before 11pm. 

enjoying: the sunshine.

waiting: for Seth to get home so we can all go for a walk.

liking: past episodes of the Joy the Baker podcast.

wondering: how long it will take for William to get used to his new sleep routine.

loving: my baby boy. He's seriously the sweetest.

hoping: I can find my missing postage stamps so that I can mail my pen pal her letter,

smelling: baby lotion. William got a bath today and smells yummy.

needing: more continuous sleep.

wearing: jeans and an old t-shirt since I'm just hanging at home.

following: my 21 Before 22 goals.

noticing: that I need to dust the house.

thinking: about plans for Little City Adventures.

bookmarking: free for Kindle books on Amazon. I never realized how many free books are available for download.

thanking: my little brother for stopping by to visit me and William. I missed my not so little, college student brother.

giggling: at the new fall TV shows. Bad Judge, Black-ish, Mysteries of Laura to name a few, are some of my favorite new TV shows.

feeling: tired but organized.

Copy and paste and play along! Leave your link below!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

S'mores Indoors

Along with pumpkin, s'mores are the best fall related food. Don't even try to argue with me. S'mores have chocolate, sweet and fluffy marshmallows, and crunchy graham crackers. Basically, perfection. Almost everyone has fond memories associated with s'mores whether it be spending time with your family around the fire pit at your house, making new friends around the bonfire at summer camp, or celebrating a high school sports win around a huge bonfire. And where ever there is a campfire, there are always s'mores. The two just go together. It's the combination for a perfect fall evening. 

But what do you do when you are craving s'mores and you don't have a fire pit in your back yard or a huge field nearby that is bonfire friendly? Well you make them indoors! No, I am not telling you to start a fire in your home. That is frowned upon. Instead, you can make delicious s'mores in the oven. 

I'm serious. They are just as delicious as roasting your marshmallow over a campfire and in fact, it's actually easier! And your arm doesn't get tired from holding a stick over the fire.

Making your own s'mores is deliciously easy and the marshmallow will still get nice and golden. The best part is the chocolate gets even meltier than a "traditional" s'more where the chocolate never seems to melt. 

Start by preheating your oven to 400° and lining a baking sheet with aluminum foil. You can get away without the aluminum foil but trust me, clean up will be 100x easier if you put the aluminum foil down first. 

Then break the graham cracker in half and place one half on top of the aluminum foil. On top of that graham cracker half place the chocolate and then the marshmallow. Don't place the other half of the graham cracker on top, instead set that aside on the counter. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake your s'more for 3-5 minutes or until the marshmallow is golden brown. I recommend checking on it every few minutes so that the chocolate doesn't completely melt and the marshmallow burns. 

After pulling it out of the oven, place the other half of your graham cracker on top, slowly, smushing the marshmallow a bit. And there you have wonderfully gooey and delicious s'mores.

Classic s'mores of milk chocolate, marshmallow, and graham crackers are delicious but if you are looking for a few unique ways to spice up the traditional s'more, subscribe to my weekly newsletter. In this Wednesday's newsletter I will be sharing six delicious ways to eat s'mores that I bet you have never tried. S'mores flavors like salted caramel hot chocolate, chocolate covered strawberry, and more will be covered in the newsletter. So go subscribe and get some deliciousness delivered to your inbox at 10am EST on Wednesday!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Recipe // Vegan Mashed Butternut Squash

Well looky there. A Thanksgiving recipe in a Christmas dish. Just try to ignore the candy cane stripes and pay more attention to the delicious recipe. I know, it's hard. The Christmas-y stripes are distracting me as well...

One of my favorite fall foods is butternut squash. I love it in soup, roasted in the oven, baked in mac 'n cheese, and now I love it mashed. William has a dairy intolerance of some sort (and to be honest, I do too but I usually just ignore because I love cheese) which means that I probably shouldn't eat dairy either since he gets his food from me. You have no idea how hard this is for me. Sometimes I cheat but then I pay for it by having to catch baby puke. Awesome. Knowing that Thanksgiving is coming and I need to limit my dairy intake on Turkey Day, I thought that I should combine my favorite fall food, butternut squash, with one of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes, mashed potatoes, but make it William-friendly. And thus, Vegan Mashed Butternut Squash was born.

This is a smooth dish full of flavor and much lighter on the stomach than mashed potatoes would be. Don't go into this expecting a mashed potato texture or you will be sorely disappointed. Potatoes and squash have a much different texture when cooked, so this dish is a bit stringy compared to creamy mashed potatoes. But like I said, it's feels much lighter and it includes no dairy whatsoever. 

Yields: 4 servings          Prep Time: 45 minutes          Cook Time: 10 minutes         Total Time: 55 minutes

1 medium-large butternut squash
1 cup (or more) unsweetened almond milk
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp dried sage leaves

1. Peel and cut squash into cubes.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add peeled squash. Bring back to a boil and then let simmer for about 30 minutes or until tender. Drain and put squash into a large bowl.

3. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease an 8x8 baking dish or 4 individual oven-safe ramekins (placed on a baking sheet) with vegetable oil cooking spray. Set aside.

4. Add garlic and sea salt to squash. Using a fork, mash the squash while mixing it with the garlic and salt. Then, add 1/2 cup of almond milk and mash/mix the ingredients together. You can also use a hand mixer. Slowly add 1/4 cup more milk until you are happy with the consistency. Add dried sage and mix everything with a spatula or wooden spoon.

5. Pour the mashed quash into the greased baking dish or ramekins and smooth the top into an even layer. Top with a pinch of sea salt and the tiniest pinch of sage leaves. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes or until squash is warmed through a top is a bit set. Serve warm and if you would like, add some fresh, minced sage leaves on top.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Starting William's Bedtime Routine

This week I have more or less 'finalized' William's daytime sleep schedule and bedtime routine. I feel like what I've come up with is really great and will be work well with William's natural schedule but the last two days of the routine have been a bit rough.

His Natural Routine
On his own, William will wake up for the day around eight or so and I'll nurse him while I eat breakfast. Afterwards he will either fall back asleep for another hour or so or be wide awake and play on his activity mat for awhile and be silly and work on spacial orientation and work on building his muscles. He then usually falls asleep around 1pm after a feeding and will sleep for at least an hour and then want to play again afterwards. He usually takes a catnap right before or right after Seth and I have dinner then play again (surprise, surprise he's a little monkey). Then William will eat and take a catnap around 7 or so. By 9pm he is ready for the last big feeding before bed but he doesn't go to sleep afterwards. William likes to stay up until at least 11pm but it's usually closer to midnight when he finally falls asleep. He then just wakes up once at night usually somewhere between 3 and 4am.

The New Routine
Going off of his natural routine, I've sort of come up with a sleep schedule that I think will be ideal for the whole family if we're able to stick to it.

7:30am Wake Up - change his diaper + clothes, nurse + burp him
Active Playtime
Morning Nap - sometime between a second feeding and his lunch feeding
More Playtime
1:00pm Feeding - this is essentially William's lunch time
1:30pm Afternoon nap - I'd like to keep this time pretty strict for a nap but if he falls asleep at noon instead, we'll make it work. This nap he usually sleeps for at least an hour sometimes close to two hours.
Evening Nap - this usually happens sometime between 5 and 7.
8:00pm Start Bedtime Routine - change his clothes + diaper and then nurse and burp him followed by story time and cuddles and then a quick snack before going to bed. Ideally, this would all be done by 9:30pm.

This routine will be wonderful for our family once William starts sticking to it. But the last few days of starting it have been seriously rough. The other night he refused to sleep until midnight and then woke up hungry at 2am and it took me an hour to get him to sleep only for him to wake up hungry at 4am. Not awesome. That made the next day of following the routine, nearly impossible because he was so tired. He was absolutely miserable which made for a long day for us and even though I was able to keep him awake as needed, he still refused to go to sleep before midnight. I'm hopeful that we'll be able to nail down the routine and get him to bed before 11 (seriously, I would settle for 10:30!) but it's also hard not to get frustrated and feel defeated. Do you experienced mamas have any tips for nailing down a sleep routine? Any thoughts on the routine I've come up with? Any help is much appreciated!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

How (and why) to Start Meal Planning // A Guest Post

Today this month's featured sponsor, Jenna from A Savory Feast, has an awesome post for Little City Adventures readers on meal planning. She has some great tips so be sure to check out the post and then head over to her blog for some yummy recipes to add to next week's meal plan!


There has been a lot of talk going around on Pinterest and various food blogs about meal planning. I started meal planning years ago when I first moved out on my own and started cooking for myself every night. Since then, my process has evolved and I've gotten a lot better at it. Today, I'm going to share how (and why!) you can start meal planning. First of all, lets focus on the "why." The number one advantage of meal planning is saving time and money! Instead of going to the grocery store almost every day, you only have to go once a week or less. This means less impulse purchases and less gas to drive to the store. Another big advantage of meal planning is that it helps you eat better! I've found that when my kitchen is stocked with healthy foods, I'm more likely to cook with them, and less likely to eat out.

Let's get started!
Get organized! The first thing I did when I started meal planning was put together a binder to keep myself organized. In this binder I kept my list of options (we'll talk about that next), my meal plan for the week, and my shopping list. Make a list. Start by making a list of the meals you like to make. For me, this is an ever-growing list! I also like to have a list of meals I want to try soon. Having a list of meals that you and your family enjoy is key! It's hard for me to just sit down and try to think of what to make. When I have list of options, it makes planning so much easier. Set a schedule. If possible, have a set day each week (or every other week, or once a month) that you will sit down and put together a meal plan. During this time, you will think about the week ahead of you and determine how many nights you will cook dinner. Shop the sales. I'm not big on couponing. I think they are great, but I don't like to take the time to clip them and I never remember to use them. Instead, I focus on getting items on sale. I like to have the weekly flyers for my favorite grocery stores in front of me when I plan out meals. If pork chops are on sale, I plan to make a meal with them that week. Plan a bigger "stocking" trip once a month. This saves me a lot of money! I like to have one shopping trip a month where I stock up on non-perishables like spices, canned goods, and other items I use often. By doing this, you can focus more on buying meat and vegetables during your other shopping trips.
Do you meal plan? Why or why not? What are some of your tips that help you stay organized and on track?
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