Amaro e Dolce

Life, unfiltered


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My food philosphy

Yesterday I cooked up a storm for the babies, and as my husband popped a BBQ turkey meatloaf-style meatball in his mouth, he asked what we would serve it with. I explained I would break it up and serve it with veggies. His response, “this is for the babies? I thought this was for us.”

My baby food philosophy

You see, I know that I was a picky eater when I was a kid. My husband is still a picky eater. I realize you can’t escape this, but my philosophy is that the more I introduce now the more we broaden our daughters’ palates – both in terms of flavors and texture. So they now are happily eating fish, meat, chicken, pork along with rice, pasta, risotto, quinoa and barley. They love veggies and fruits – we are lucky here.

Store-bought vs. home-made baby food

Many people don’t enjoy cooking, or they are too exhausted at the end of the day to fire up the stove. Since I work from home, I take advantage of down time to food prep and cook. I prefer the cook food for all of us because it’s more affordable in the long run, I know what goes in to the food and I enjoy cooking. This last point is important. If you don’t like cooking or you are intimidated by trying, making your own baby food is probably not a good idea.

When I make food for the girls, I divvy up my recipes in to things that I am exclusively serving them and things that the whole family can eat. As they grow older, I am moving away from exclusive food for them and towards family meals. When I look back, I don’t remember my mother ever making individual meals for us on the daily. And as much as I enjoy cooking, this is our home and not a restaurant. I don’t want to build an expectation that we have menus available.

Finger foods & babies feeding themselves

Z & E are becoming increasingly more independent. Crawling, walking and wanting to feed themselves. They are all about their sippy cups (and tossing them to the floor 752,000,000 times in one meal). This independence is fun, but also frustrating.

You see, I believe that they should have the autonomy to feed themselves, but at the same time I don’t want them to associate their meals with play. Perhaps it’s my European upbringing, but I believe that food should be respected and not played with. What I’ve started doing is prepping food that they can eat on their own, and we alternate hand feeding with spoon feeding. For example, today’s breakfast included scrambled eggs, waffles and ricotta mixed with homemade strawberry jam. So I put a piece of small waffle on their tray for them to pick up and eat. Once they were done, I spoon-fed the eggs. Then we finished with the ricotta/jam mix. This makes meal time cleaner and easier for all of us.

breakfast for babies

Z & E’s (and my) breakfast this morning

On toys at the table (or high chair)

When we first started feeding in the highchair, we put toys on the girls’ trays. Perhaps this is surprising, given my above statements about meal time and play, but hear me out. With our girls, we quickly realized that training them to sit in a high chair was actually more challenging than introducing them to foods. They don’t like feeling confined and they are naturally squirmy. So as we were feeding them, we needed a distraction so that they would get used to swallowing their food without being in our laps.

As they got used to the high chairs, we started taking the toys away. We did this slowly – experimenting with removing the toys towards the end of their meal, then halfway, then after the first few bites. Now we don’t use toys during meal times (this will probably change when they are toddlers, but whatever), but we talk (and sing on fussy days) throughout feedings. The theory here is that we get used to sitting and talking as a family over meals, instead of individually focusing on toys, phones, etc.

I realize that I probably sound old-school in my parenting philosophy when it comes to food, and that’s fine. I believe that one of the most important times you have with your family is around the table and it’s important to me to start now with enforcing these eating habits with my girls. I remember always sitting down as a family to dinner (whether we wanted to or not.) Now that I look back, I remember sitting with my family, chatting over dinner and I believe this was one of the things that makes my family so tight-knit.


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Agua de coco y limón 

We are not known for seasons here in Miami, not unless you count rainy season and hurricane season. I’ve found that I measure our seasons by whether it drops below 90. 

Because it’s so hot, I find myself eschewing my beloved fall stews and soups for more crisp, summery things and today is no different. 

I woke up today feeling rested (thank you babies for finally sleeping through the night!) and I was struck with inspiration when I opened my fridge this morning. A day or so ago, I stumbled across this recipe on Instagram and it reminded me that I had this at the Miami Flea while I was pregnant.

You see, I had just opened a can of coconut milk for another recipe, and it happened to be sitting next to the last two lemons from my tree. So I threw them together in my vitamix and it was love at first sip. 

This can be made with either lemons or limes, but I prefer lemons. I used less coconut milk than what Deb called for because I didn’t have that much left, but I also only had two lemons. 


I highly recommend playing with your portions, but this was my impromptu recipe:

1 cup of ice

1/2 cup, full fat coconut milk (stirred)

Juice of 2 Meyers lemons

3-4 tablespoons, granulated sugar.

Add ingredients in the order above to your blender and blend to your preferred consistency. I use a vitamix and start on 1 and slowly go up to 4.

Pour and enjoy. Add a good rum to make it more adult. 

This will make a tart, slightly sweet and smooth drink for 2. 


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Necessity is the mother of all inventions. 

I need my coffee in the morning and I can’t drink it without milk & sugar. I’m just not that hard. 

Si when we run out of milk it means an immediate run to the grocery. Except now the grocery store is impossible for me and El Hombre just started a new job. So I roughed it out for one day.

Then as I was looking for something else, I found half a can of full-fat coconut milk that I’d used a day or two before and I thought, “hmmmmmm.”

You see, I love coconut as much as I love coffee, so how bad could it be?

Full-fat coconut milk has the same consistency as yogurt so I wasn’t sure how this would work out, but it did.

Unlike regular milk or creamer, the coconut milk adds a richness to the flavor, only imparting a hint of coconut taste. It actually enhances the natural acidity of the coffee so you get the full flavor of the bean without the harshness of drinking coffee black.

Since coconut milk is a pantry staple in my home, this is a trend I will continue. 


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On cooking and creativity

I’ve come to realize that as I get older, I’m finding creative outlets in different places. Over the past few years, one of my outlets has become cooking. I’m no professional, but once I understand the basics of a recipe, I will never make it the same way twice. Which is both good and bad because I can’t create attachments. But I can get more creative.

So over the past few weeks, I’ve been wrapping up babies in my moby and picking up my cooking game. With all the calories I’m burning with breastfeeding, my appetite is through the roof, but eating out is both expensive and generally way too salty.

My go-to tends to be soups and stews since I can basically throw everything in my pantry in to a pot and generally have good outcomes. But these last few weeks I’ve been inspired to cook different things because it gives me something to focus on other than babies, diapers, insurance, sad news and politics. Some of these are repeats but overall these have made it in to my “Go To Recipes” folder:

Oatmeal Crumble Bars. I used raspberries instead of blackberries because I love them. Next time I am going to try this with blueberries and add lemon zest.

Oven baked fried chicken? Oh yes. I am going to add different spices to this until the cows come in. Just FYI. And a tip? Roast veggies in the dish afterwards.

Marinara. In the past few years I have switched over entirely to spaghetti squash. Except for this recipe. For this I still use real pasta. Delicious, delicious real pasta.

Cheap chicken curry.

Tacos and more tacos (it’s an added bonus that I could use the pineapple from our garden in this)

Up next? Lots of cool, summer beverages and more baking.


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Impromptu snack – curried roasted chickpeas

I’d like to put it on record that these babies are generally healthy eaters.

Yesterday I sat on the couch, surfing my Pinterest when I stumbled across a picture I’d uploaded years ago of curried, roasted chickpeas. 

And I knew I needed this again. So I rummaged through my cabinets until I found a can of chickpeas. 

This is an easy thing to throw together. You just need chickpeas, olive oil and the spice of your choice.

First, preheat your oven to 425. 

Then, If using canned chickpeas, make sure you rinse them and pat them dry. Shell them if you like (I don’t) and spread them on a baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over them and then add the spice(s) of your choice. For these I used curry and a touch of salt.

Stick them in the oven for about 30-40 minutes. I usually pull them out around 20 minutes and toss them a bit.

Let cool and then enjoy immediately (if not sooner)

 


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An ode to raspberries 

It’s hot outside, I’m hauling around an extra 30 pounds of twin babies and still battling (mild) nausea. So when I saw you, peeking out at me from the produce section, I knew immediately that I needed you in my life. 

Oh raspberries. I never loved you like this before. Admittedly, your texture used to turn me off. But so sweet and tart, and just a little juicy with an aftertaste that deliciously lingers, I take it all back.  

Let’s try to keep this a long-term thing, ok? I don’t want this to end up the way my most recent relationship with strawberries did. This has to be more than a pregnancy craving. This is a deeper, more addictive love. I feel it in my bones.

 


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Rain, Rain, go away

I’ll be the first to admit that I love rainy days. I especially love stormy rainy days. There’s something cozy about how dark and cozy my house gets – it makes me want to wrap up in blankets and snuggle with my cats.

But enough is enough. This is our dry season and I’ve been itching to go walking outside. But I can’t because it’s this constant drizzle with breaks for storms. I know we need the water, but I’m starting to feel like Neptune has taken a vacation to the sky.

So in an attempt to be productive, I’ve started trying to cook again.  Yesterday I made Gingerbread Biscotti (I modified the recipe to add a lot of chopped candied ginger which made it awesome) and today I am working on bread. I often forget how comfortable it feels to bake when the weather’s bad, as we have no real winter here. But there’s just something so homey about the smell of bread rising. It’s been awhile since I baked anything and I forgot how much I like it. It requires focus and precision in a way that my other cooking does not.

I may not be inspired to read about Analytics this week, but at least I am inspired to do something other than cuddle on the couch with my cats and binge watch Vikings. Hopefully I can also whip up some dinners with protein and veggies hidden in that I can store for the week.  That is, if the deluge ever lets up.