I love muffins. They are delicious, easy to fix, and I tend to make enough to have them last for a couple of meals. When I was thinking up ideas of what Caleb could eat in lieu of purees, I instantly thought of muffins stuffed with delicious (and soft) foods that he had already tried. We are going with a more Baby-Led Weaning approach to introducing food to Caleb which has been fun, a bit scary, and super messy!

These muffins come together in no time which is essential when you are trying to cook in the kitchen and wrangle a baby that has just began to discover crawling.

Start by mixing your dry ingredients in a bowl.

Then you’ll add your wet ingredients. The only real wet ingredients here are the applesauce, avocado, and banana. You can mash them together BEFORE you add them to your dry ingredients but I just threw them in and mashed them all together in the bowl.

 

Once everything is all nicely combined, you spoon the mixture into your muffin tins. This recipe creates 24 mini muffins which is the perfect size for your little one. The muffins don’t rise so what you put into the muffin cup is pretty much equal to the size of the muffin once you remove it. The muffins will still be moist in the middle when you remove them but that’s okay. A dry, crumbly muffin seems like a nightmare to me for a baby to try to eat.

Caleb had a lot of fun watching me work in the kitchen. I put a few toys on the ground for him, including the bowl that I used to mix up the muffins in and just let him go to town with it. He ended up being a sticky mess afterward but it was worth it.

I don’t have any shots of the muffins after they finished baking so here is a picture of Caleb enjoying them. Belle, our dog, enjoyed them a little bit more than Caleb did, I think. His favorite part of the entire muffin was feeling it squish in his hand but he had fun playing with them and I had fun making them. These little muffin bites would make a great addition to a snack bag or lunch box.

Robb tasted one after I finished and even he thought that they didn’t taste half bad!

 

Print Recipe
Healthy Baby Muffin Bites
Course Baby/Toddler
Servings
24 mini muffins
Ingredients
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 large ripe banana
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 cup applesauce, unsweetened
Course Baby/Toddler
Servings
24 mini muffins
Ingredients
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 large ripe banana
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 cup applesauce, unsweetened
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.
  3. Make a well in the center and add the banana, avocado and applesauce. Mashing and stirring until well combined.
  4. Divide batter evenly among the 24 mini muffin cups. Bake for 14-16 minutes until set.
  5. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days or freeze individually for up to 30 days.
Recipe Notes

Please note that this recipe creates a muffin that is a bit more moist on the inside than typical muffins.

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Robb and I have always been a bit fan of the crockpot, especially now that our lives have gotten even busier. Today I bring you an awesome guest post from Kayla Clough, the email specialist over at OurStart, featuring some super easy crockpot recipes for busy moms.


Moms have a lot on their plates. We have to work, take care of the house, shuttle kids to lessons and sport, and try to feed our families healthy meals. It can be tiring. At the end of the day, you want to just order pizza and prop up your feet. Doing so sometimes is okay, but it isn’t good for the budget nor your health. You need more crockpot recipes.

In the morning, put in the ingredients and dinner is ready that evening. Crockpot recipes are a blessing to busy moms who want to provide healthy meals. Here are some great recipes to try.

Taco Chili

Taco Chili, created by What the Fork, is perfect for dinner or as an uncooked freeze meal. On the weekend, you can put all of the ingredients into a large, freezer bag and then dump it in when you are ready to prepare it. Make sure you include a variety of toppings like cheddar cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips!

Creamy Ranch Chicken and Potatoes

Ranch makes any dinner better. Add in chicken and potatoes, and you get a family-friendly hit! Wishes and Disheshas the easiest recipe with ingredients you probably already have to make this dinner tonight.

Italian Chicken and Potatoes

Moms like meals that don’t require strange and numerous ingredients. Italian chicken and potatoes is five ingredients, which means the recipe won’t cost you an arm and a leg. It would be perfect paired with green beans or fresh Italian bread from the local bakery. The Recipe Critic has the best recipe for this fantastic crockpot meal!

Honey Garlic Chicken and Veggies

Honey makes any meal a kid-friendly hit. This meal is great because the veggies are included. They cook in the yummy sauce. You could pair this recipe with a pot of rice for all the juice to soak into, making a complete meal.

The recipe is best if you use chicken thighs. Chicken breasts are fine, but the chicken thighs tend to be juicy and shred easier. Now, the recipe calls for bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, but it is totally fine to use boneless, skinless!

Check out Damn Delicious for her fantastic recipe. Your kids and spouse will beg you to make it again next week.

Pizza Casserole

Every kid loves pizza. Making pizza in the crockpot would be close to impossible, so pizza casserole is the next best thing. The only negative thing about this recipe is that you have to brown the meat and cook the pasta ahead of time. It might not be the best if you have to leave at 6 in the morning. The Cards We Drew show you how to make this casserole. It is sure to be a hit.

Ritz Chicken

The Six Sisters make some fantastic dishes, but their slower cooker Ritz chicken is out of this world. There is so much to love, plus Ritz crackers make everything better. You only need six ingredients, including garnishes. That is impressive. It does take a few minutes to pull the dish together, but it is full of flavor. Ritz chicken is adult and kid approved.

Any of these crockpot meals are perfect for kids and adults. Put in your ingredients, and be ready for a delicious dinner in a few hours. Busy moms rejoice!


Kayla is a recent graduate of Eastern University in PA where she majored in Marketing and Human Resources. Kayla loves all things fashion, her golden retriever Max, and coffee. When she is not working, you can find her binge watching Sex in the City and baking her latest find on Pinterest.

To read more from Kayla and the rest of the OurStart team, check out their Facebook page or visit their Blog.

The crud has hit our home. Robb and I have both been battling a cold the past few days and with Caleb only 4 months old, we’ve been careful to try not to spread it to him. Thankfully I’ve read that breastmilk contains protective antibodies to help Caleb’s immune system fight off infection and illness. He seems to be good right now but I’ve been keeping a close eye on his health.

Cold’s suck. I’ve never liked taking medicine to begin with but now I have to take extra precautions while breastfeeding. I’ve always preferred time, rest, and a good dose of Vitamin C. Elderberries are a great source of Vitamin C (as well as being said to have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti-influenza, and anticancer properties) and while I usually create a hot tea with the dried berries and a bit of honey, I also like to transform the berries into an oxymel for easy consumption.

A oxymel is basically a syrup with apple cider vinegar added to give it a sweet and sour taste. This is definitely an acquired taste. I actually like it, it is very reminiscent to a shrub. When I’m starting to feel a bit under the weather, I take about a tablespoon full every 4 or 5 hours. For Robb, I mixed a bit of the oxymel with some tonic water – though I admit, he did not like it one bit. I highly recommend stocking up on dried elderberries BEFORE cold and flu season arrives as they become harder to find and a lot of shops sell out. This recipe also needs to sit for a few weeks so make it early on during cold and flu season to make sure that you have it on hand. Once it’s prepared, it’ll last for about 6 months in the refrigerator.

I’ve also been taking Zarbee’s Naturals Baby Cough Syrup + Mucus. Since it’s safe for infants 2+ months, I figured that it would be safe for me to consume. It has a delicious grape flavor and helps to clear mucus and soothe irritated throats. There are no artificial flavors/sweeteners/drugs/alcohol/dyes, only organic agave syrup, English ivy leaf extract and a few other items.

Now that I’m over this cold… it’s time to prepare for allergy season~…

Print Recipe
Elderberry Oxymel
Course Herbal
Servings
Ingredients
  • raw apple cider vinegar
  • dried elderberries (purchase here)
  • raw local honey
Course Herbal
Servings
Ingredients
  • raw apple cider vinegar
  • dried elderberries (purchase here)
  • raw local honey
Instructions
  1. Fill a quart or pint sized mason jar 1/3 full with your dried elderberries.
  2. Add an equal amount of honey and apple cider vinegar. Stir well and cover with a plastic lid (the vinegar will cause a metal lid to corrode).
  3. Let this mixture sit for about 4 weeks, shaking the jar a few times a week. When it's done, strain it through cheesecloth, taking care to squeeze the cheesecloth to get out any extra bits of liquid.
Recipe Notes

I like to store my finished oxymel in a glass amber bottle but you can use any container. It'll last for about 6 months in the fridge.

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Sometimes it’s the little changes you make that add up and create a bigger impact on your life – i.e. substituting one ingredient for a healthier alterative. One of my favorite ingredient swaps is to use roasted spaghetti squash in place of pasta.

One of the biggest benefits of eating spaghetti squash is that it contains 9% of the recommended daily intake of dietary fiber, while also delivering a range of nutrients, including vitamins C and A, Potassium & Calcium. It also contains folate, which supports the formation and development of new cells and helps prevent birth defects, making this squash an ideal food for pregnant women.

Spaghetti squash is super easy to prepare. Basically you just cut it in half, remove the seeds and roast for about an hour until tender at 400*F. From there, the possibilities are endless. I like to stay pretty simple and stuff my spaghetti squash with my favorite spaghetti sauce. It creates a meal that I can prepare pretty easily on a weeknight. Let’s face it, after a long day of work, the easier your supper comes together, the less likely you are to indulge in junk foods or takeout.

It’s almost embarrassing how easy this recipe is. To be honest, I wouldn’t even call it a recipe, more like a rough guide. Give it a shot though and let me know what you think!


Print Recipe
Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
Course Main Dishes
Servings
2 people
Ingredients
  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup cheese divided
  • 3 cups spaghetti sauce * see notes
Course Main Dishes
Servings
2 people
Ingredients
  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup cheese divided
  • 3 cups spaghetti sauce * see notes
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 400*F. While your oven is preheating, carefully slice your spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds, leaving just the flesh. Rub a little bit of olive oil into the flesh, then salt & pepper the cavity.
  2. Place the spaghetti squash, cut side down, on a baking sheet. Bake for about an hour or until the flesh is tender.
  3. While your spaghetti squash is cooking, prepare your spaghetti sauce. If you make your spaghetti sauce from scratch, you can control the amount of salt and sugar used. I like to add cooked onions and browned hot Italian sausage to my sauce.
  4. Once your spaghetti squash is cooked, fill the cavity with your sauce. Top each half with 1/4 cup of cheese and cook until cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.
Recipe Notes

3 cups of spaghetti sauce is equal to one regular jar of sauce. That doesn't include any add-ins such as ground beef, beans, or anything else of the sort. If you have left over sauce after stuffing your squash, save it for another day or simply spoon it over your squash when you serve it.

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I still remember the first time my mother and I attempted my granny’s 16-layer chocolate cake even though it has been almost 20 years now. We had worked all afternoon on it, carefully cooking each paper thin layer of cake, guarding the fudge-like frosting as it cooked away on the stove so that it wouldn’t burn, and finally, assembling it. Pleased with ourselves, we stepped out of the kitchen until a loud splat brought us running back. Our beautiful cake was now in bits and pieces all over the floor – we had assembled it while it had been too warm and the layers had slid apart. I looked at my mom and did the only thing that I could do at the moment. I sat on the floor and started eating.

It was delicious.

That’s the kind of magic that my granny’s cake had. I can’t think of the holidays without picturing her chocolate cake, sitting modestly on top of the freezer in the backroom, though it should have been issued a place of honor at the main table. Every time we gathered at her house, for Thanksgiving, for Christmas, for birthdays, the cake would be waiting for us. We all had to pass through the backroom to enter our house (no one ever used the front door) so we all would feel a glimmer of excitement when we spotted that cake sitting there.

Even when arthritis crippled her hands, she pressed on, switching from homemade cake batter to one out of a box. She faithfully made her icing the same way, though at times my grandfather had to take over for her (under her watchful eye of course). Sometimes the cake would have 14 layers, sometimes closer to 19. It was always a game to see who could come the closest to guessing the number of layers before we counted, peeling off each layer to eat, line by line.

My granny passed away this past January, only a few brief months before I would find out that I’m pregnant with my first child. I’m looking forward to sharing the magic of this cake with my own child as he grows. Even though I might have learned my lesson to let the layers cool before assembling the cake, who knows, maybe I’ll let him help me and start a tradition of eating cake off of the floor.

Trust me, it’s worth it.

Even though my granny started using a box cake mix in her later years, I went with her original recipe. When Robb saw me unloading not just butter but margarine for this cake, he said that it HAD to be good with all of that fat in there.

The key is nice, thin layers. I made my layers just a little too thick but my body was just exhausted. Being 8 months pregnant would do that to you!

There is an ingredient in the frosting that doesn’t normally appear in most other boiled frosting recipes, an ingredient that I think turns this into an almost foolproof recipe – marshmallows. I’ve done a little digging around and it seems that adding in marshmallows became a thing in a few areas of the country back in the 1960’s. When I called my mom to ask if she remembered including marshmallows during our initial fateful recreation years ago, she said that it didn’t seem familiar to her but perhaps that was why her attempt failed.

After letting your frosting cool for just a few minutes – and be careful because it will be hot – start stacking your cake, pouring the frosting over layer by layer. Making this cake requires a tremendous amount of patience.  If you try to hurry through it, your layers will start to slip and slide just like ours did.

The worst part about making this cake is even after you get it all assembled – you still have to wait. Wait for it to harden and solidify. It’ll be well worth the wait, trust me.


Print Recipe
Granny's Old-Fashioned Multi-layer Cake with Boiled Chocolate Frosting
Don’t be ashamed if your first couple of attempts at making this cake come out less than spectacular. It took my granny years to perfect her cake and even then, she would occasionally put out a product that was, in her mind, “sub-par”. I simply called it rustic.
Course Dessert
Servings
1 12-layer(ish) cake
Ingredients
Cake
  • 1 stick margarine room temperature
  • 1 stick butter room temperature
  • 2 c. white cane sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 c. self-rising flour
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 c. whole milk
Frosting
  • 1 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 1/2 c. white cane sugar
  • 2 1/4 c. evaporated milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 stick margarine
  • 12 large marshmallows
Course Dessert
Servings
1 12-layer(ish) cake
Ingredients
Cake
  • 1 stick margarine room temperature
  • 1 stick butter room temperature
  • 2 c. white cane sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 c. self-rising flour
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 c. whole milk
Frosting
  • 1 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 1/2 c. white cane sugar
  • 2 1/4 c. evaporated milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 stick margarine
  • 12 large marshmallows
Instructions
Cake
  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease and flour your 9” baking pans (I used shortening and flour).
  3. Beat butter, margarine, and sugar together with an electric mixer until creamy.
  4. Add in your eggs, vanilla, milk, and flour, mixing until well combined.
  5. Using a measuring cup, measuring out just over ¼ of a cup of batter in each of your baking tins. Smooth out the batter using the back of a spoon.
  6. Bake each layer for 8-10 minutes until done - depending on the amount of batter you add to each tin will dictate how long it will take to cook. You’ll want the cake to spring back when touching lightly in the center. Remove from pans to the cooling racks.
  7. Wipe out cake pans, grease and flour the again, and bake the remaining cake layers as directed.
Frosting
  1. In a large heavy saucepan, melt the cocoa powder, sugar, evaporated milk, vanilla extract, margarine, and marshmallows over medium-low heat until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Bring to a rolling boil and cook for 8 minutes, stirring constantly. Be careful as the liquid will be hot.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  4. Assemble your cake, pouring your frosting over each layer.
  5. Let sit for a and enjoy!
Recipe Notes

Don’t be in a rush. If you notice that your cake is starting to slide after you begin frosting it, secure it with a few wooden dowels or skewers. Since the layers are so thin on this cake, you will notice that you can see the ridges through the frosting. That is okay!

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