If you tried to look at my blog this weekend you would have been disappointment to discover that it was down. I apologize for that. I am in the middle of changing web hosts and it is not going as smoothly as I would like. For now I have reverted by blog back through the blogger account and to avoid any site issues and hopefully everything will be back to working fully in the next day or two.
Christmas is long behind us but I do have one last ingredient that is still in my fridge, and until now I had no idea what to do with, brandy butter. We make brandy butter to serve with Christmas pudding and yet very little of it ends up being used. I tried to do some research on ideas of what to do with it and I am sorry to say I was bored with the results. Most people said use it to make brandy butter ice cream but that sounded way too rich for me and besides I was already leaning towards using it in a baked good. So after striking out from my research I decided that I would just do my own thing and see if it works.
Chris and I had recently bought some white chocolate chip cookies that I found delightful and I had been thinking about trying to recreate them. I have only recently been enjoying chocolate and white chocolate, up until now I never cared for the taste of either but ever since giving birth I have discovered some changes to my taste buds that I have enjoyed exploring. So I thought, why not try substituting some of the sugar and the butter for my brandy butter and see how it turns out. Now when it comes to cooking I have no fear about my substitutions. But baking is more of a science and it can be far more risky when you choose to substitute an ingredient, but you never know until you try. It took some tweaking with the cooking times and temperature but the result was worth it. I am going to be very honest here and say I have no idea exactly what using the brandy butter achieved for me, but it was a great way to reduce waste of an ingredient. Plus I got to eat cookies with my tea, no what could be better then that?
Have you ever made a meal that made yourself stop and say ‘Wow this is amazing’? Every once in a while I surprise even myself, especially when that surprise comes from a near disaster. This latest delightful recipe can in the form of a roast chicken. The night started off on a bad note when I went to prepare what was going to be a Chinese inspired roasted chicken, only to discover that I didn’t have any more rice wine nor any thing that could be substituted for it. Frustrated but stuck with a defrosted chicken that needed to be cooked I had to come up with something else. I will confess, my disappointment about the discovery of the lack of ingredients left me a bit stumped for ideas of what to do. Sometimes when I get so focused on one idea I have a hard time coming up with a new one and it is often those nights I get frustrated and we go out to eat. But I was determined to come up with something good. I was starting to run out of time to have it all prepared in time for dinner so I came up with a less fuss recipe that I hoped would yield juicy results without having to do things like brining the bird beforehand. I am pleased to say that the result was better then I had imagined and definitely made up for the failure of the first idea.
After such heavy meals and large portions my husband and I are working to curb our increased appetite, and one of the ways to do that is to cook just enough for two portions without leftovers. We try to be self-disciplined to only eat the portion size that we should but we are often guilty of cleaning up the dish. So I am often experimenting with easy meals that only cook up enough for the two of us. This dish came from me trying to use up an odd assortment of veggies that I had leftover from two other recipes. What are tricks that you have come up with to try to make sure that you don’t over eat?
I shared at the end of last year that I was going to be incorporating more recipes that are good for the whole family including a weaning baby. Baby weaning dishes can pretty much be anything we eat minus the salt. The key to remember is less is more, the fewer ingredients in the recipe the easier it is to control what the baby eats. Our weaning journey with Morgan has been mostly baby led weaning, which means that we don’t puree her food and allow her to feed herself. But right now in these early stages of feeding she hasn’t quite mastered getting food to her mouth all of the time so I always make sure I feed her the first few bites and then let her play. It has been amazing to see how quickly her chewing ability has grown. Many people worry about babies choking on foods so they rely sole on pureed foods until they are older. But with careful thought to how the food is prepared and placed in front of them you will be amazed at what a baby can achieve in such a short amount of time. More often then not the early ‘choking’ that you see a baby do is actually a gag reflux. A babies gag reflux is triggered further forward from the air way then an adults in order to actually prevent a baby from choking. So when a six- or seven-month-old baby gags it doesn’t necessarily mean the food is too close to the airway or that the baby is choking. Once this reflux has been triggered several times the baby learns not to put so much food in their mouth and it also teaches them to not push too big of a chunk into the back of the throat. It can be hard for a parent to watch but it is actually an important learning stage in their life and if they have to learn it at some point I say the earlier the better. When Morgan first started trying to eat food almost every other bite would go to the back of her throat and cause her to start gagging and then she would throw the food up. But after only a few weeks of eating food she has learned not to allow the food to go that far back in her mouth when it is so big and even when she does gag now it isn’t as bad and she manages to dislodge the food without throwing up.
Even if you don’t feel that baby led weaning is right for you make sure that you carve out some time for the baby to play with some food while sitting in their highchair. It is amazing how much learning goes on during these play times. I have watched Morgan problem solve how to pick up the slippery banana and get it to her mouth without squishing it in her hand, it is a wonderful, messy activity for you both to enjoy together.
This recipe came from my desire to create a pasta sauce that Chris and I could enjoy with Morgan and also one that would be healthier then the typical meat pasta sauces. This lentil tomato sauce was so delicious and meaty it tasted like there actually was meat in it and all three of us really enjoyed it.