Baking Up a Storm

I have been baking a lot lately, since the rainy season has hit and the oven can be on without roasting us. We decided not to buy bread anymore, though we’d eliminated “pan frances” which is white, from our diet when Irving was diagnosed with diabetes. We bought whole wheat bread still, but it gets pricey when you have kids scarfing it all down adn since I have a bread machine, I decided to try making my own again. It’s been going well, so last week, we got these:

That is a 25 lb bag of whole wheat flour and a 50 lb bag of white flour. It might seem like a lot, but I’ll be very surprised if it lasts longer than a month! We found a deposito near the market where we can get the flour for considerably cheaper by buying in bulk.

I mix my bread in the bread machine, then turn it out into loaf pans to get two one pound loaves. However, since the oven is on, I usually make other stuff, too. Like these delicious whole wheat oat rolls:

whole wheat oat rolls

These are so yummy and healthy. We use them for everything from hamburgers to sloppy joes!

black bean sloppy joes

The other day, I made baked “fried” chicken, which the kids loved. It’s healthier than regular fried chicken and MUCH cheaper than Pollo Campero.

baked fried chicken

We’ve also discovered that oven roasted broccoli is a HUGE favorite around here. Everyone loves it and I don’t even like broccoli! It’s soooo good though, that we buy three heads of broccoli every couple of weeks in the market to use this way.

roasted broccoli

I made potato crusted chicken nuggets the other day and the boys liked them so much that Dante said he was never going to Pollo Campero again. Which was kind of the point. I also made sweet potato fries, which everyone pretty much scarfed down. This photo was taken seconds before they devoured the food like a group of piranhas. It was a little startling!

Potato crusted chicken nuggets

Another favorite around here is bagels. Mmm, we love our bagels. I try not to make them too often, since we would just overdose, but I do make them from time to time. I usually do a batch of whole wheat ones just for Irving.

homemade bagels

And finally, we have been playing around with snack ideas that I can pop in the oven when I’m baking bread, to take up the extra room. A big favorite is the banana oat cookies I wrote about previously, but carrot crackers are also a favorite.

carrot crackers

What’s happening in your kitchen these days?

Kids Say the Darndest Things: Episode 82

Dorian: “Mama, there’s a HUGE spider outside! Dominic thought it was funny, but I told him, ‘that’s scary, Dominic! Don’t touch it. RUN!’”
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We have a lot of honey bees around here.
Dominic: “Look at this, Mama, a humming bee!”
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Dante: “I drew instructions for you to build a tent, Dorian.”
Dorian: “No thanks.”
Dante: “But these are the instructions for doing it properly!”
Dorian: “I have all the instructions in my head!”
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Dominic: holding his ears “Mama? These my brains?”
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Dante: “Kah-nock, Kah-nock . . . what is this?”
Me: “The first K is silent, it’s knock.”
Dante: “What the heck?!”
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Dominic: setting a stuffed dino on the couch. “Dis a zombie. Bam!”
Shoots zombie with a stick and pushes it over.
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Dante was reading Mr. Brown Can Moo and got to a very long page that starts with Oh.
Dante: “Oh . . . my goodness!”
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Dorian: “Mama, Domi and I just built a huge tower of blocks and it was about to fall and I told Domi to run and the blocks were falling, so I grabbed him like this . . . ” Demonstrates hunching over and hugging his brother “and all the blocks fell on my back and it really hurt, but I had to protect the baby.”
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Dominic: “Mama, draw a robot?”
I obliged.
Dominic: “Oh, yes! A robot!” starts scribbling on the picture “He’s dying, he’s dying! He’s dead.”

The Coveted “Spot” on the Couch

If you have ever watched The Big Bang Theory, you know that Sheldon has a favorite spot on the couch and it is pretty much the only place he’ll sit. We have that spot, too, but three boys vying for it.

The prime real estate is on the edge, beside me, as I sit in my glider at my desk. However, the other side is also coveted, just not as much. The middle seat? That’s no man’s land and the worst thing that can happen to you if you’re one of my kids.

For a long time, Dominic was the default for the middle. He didn’t like it, but he was the third kid and the baby, so he had to pay his dues. As soon as he was big enough to realize how truly awful the middle spot was, he started fighting tooth and nail to get the spot next to me.

Every day, every time the boys sit on the couch, they race to try and get the “spot.” Whoever gets it is met with cries of, “But I was there first! It’s my turn to sit there!” And occasionally a toy in the face, if I’m not vigilant.

Any time someone gets up to pee or get a snack, their spot is instantly taken, which requires an obligatory attack upon the rightful sitter’s return. A short wrestle and peace is restored. Often, however, the big boys will scuffle over the spot, while Dominic quietly scoots over to it and pretends to be asleep so no one will disturb him. Sometimes it even works. “AW! Domi fell asleep, we’ll go play outside.” Sometimes.

Sometimes, just to mess with them, I sit in the “spot.” They stand there, looking at me, not sure whether they should attempt to give me the boot. It usually ends up with Dominic on my lap and the other two in my glider.

Is there a prized position in your house?

You Might Be a Mom of Boys if . . .

  • You wake up to Batman climbing over your face.
  • You have to get rid of plastic spiders, action figures and dragons before getting into bed.
  • Despite clearing out the menagerie, you feel something hard in under your back and discover a car park under your sheets.
  • Your tub has giant rubber snakes in it.
  • “Don’t pee on that!” is a daily refrain.
  • Someone gets hurt and you evaluate the situation in a split second . . . the amount of blood is minimal, no bone showing and no stitches needed, “you’re okay, go play.”
  • Your first aid kit has Batman Bandaids (though we also have My Little Pony Bandaids, so I guess this could be for anyone with kids in general).
  • Burp contests area ┬áregular thing in your household . . . and you may even join in from time to time, wowing your children with your belching abilities.
  • Anything over 3 feet high is a potential climbing hazard.
  • Anything long and pokey is a potential sword.
  • You have had to confiscate toast guns at one point or another.
  • In fact, your whole idea of not allowing children to play with toy guns has gone out the window because little boys will turn ANYTHING into a gun.
  • Fart jokes cannot be stopped.
  • Your bathroom requires daily cleaning.
  • Dragons attack your home on a very frequent basis. As do zombies, orcs and trolls. Actually, I doubt that one is specific to boys.
  • You get more hugs and kisses than Papa.
  • Your sons will defend you in any situation.
  • Feeding your children is a full time job.

Add your own in the comments!

Toddler Hunger Strikes and My Zoku Quick Pop Maker

zoku quick pop maker reviewEarly this year, a blog reader brought down an Amazon order for me and in this order was a Zoku Quick Pop Maker. I had been waffling on whether or not to get one for a couple of years since they are pretty expensive, but finally, I bit the bullet. We like popsicles here, but I don’t have a big freezer and so making a bunch is not really easy. This popsicle maker lets you make three at a time in about 10 minutes, so it’s really handy to have.

Basically, you freeze the base and just leave it in the freezer all the time. When you want to make a popsicle or three (they have three different sizes, I got the triple pop maker so none of the boys would have to wait), you take it out, put the sticks in and pour in the popsicle liquid. Then you wait ten minutes and use the special handle to pull the popsicles out. Voila! You can do fancy things with this pop maker, like this:

zoku popsicles

zoku quick pop maker review

Since it freezes so fast, you can do layers and even special cores. We LOVE to make orangesicles. You pour orange juice into the mold, then wait a couple of minutes for the outer bit to freeze, suck out the middle liquid and fill it with strawberry (or any flavor) yogurt. This is a big hit with the kids.

Now on to the title. It might seem weird that I’m talking about toddler hunger strikes when I just posted about hungry kids, but a couple of months ago, Dominic decided he didn’t want to eat anymore. As in, virtually NOTHING. I know the experts say to let kids choose their food and such, but since I’ve had one kid who ended up with malnutrition and some very drastic side effects from that, we don’t really like to leave it up to the kid. So . . . enter popsicles.

Dominic wouldn’t eat real food but he loves “eye peem!” So I made popsicles for him every day. These were often smoothies that I mixed in the blender, so I knew he was getting some nice healthy stuff in his tummy. Some of the combinations used:

- banana, cocoa, milk
- strawberry yogurt, banana, milk
- strawberry yogurt, milk, spinach
- banana, orange juice, spinach
- banana, spinach, cocoa, milk
- blackberries, orange juice

As you can see, it’s pretty easy to come up with a healthy combo. I don’t add sugar unless the juice is really sour (we squeeze our own). And sometimes, he got just orange juice pops. He would eat several popsicles a day and we could use them as a bribe to get him to eat a bit of lunch. “Eat your cheese and ham and you can have ice cream!” It worked and after a couple of weeks, he was back to his normal hungry self, having suffered no ill effects.

We still do popsicles at least once a day and all the boys love them. I even make Irving some diabetes friendly ones with papaya and pineapple or fudgsicles with milk, cocoa and stevia. While you’re not supposed to use sugar replacements in the pop maker, I haven’t had any issues with it.

Note: This isn’t a sponsored post, I genuinely LOVE my Zoku Quick Pop Maker, but I do make a few cents if you click on the links in this article and buy something on Amazon.

Hungry Hungry Boys

You always hear about boys eating a lot, but unless you actually have to feed those starving mouths, you probably have NO IDEA how true it is. I’m constantly stunned by how much these kids can put away and they aren’t even close to puberty yet.

If I let them, the boys would eat all day long. Seriously. They are constantly checking the fridge to see if something new and yummy has appeared. They dig through the cupboards and ask if we have any (insert favorite snack here). I am pretty sure all three are hitting growth spurts right now.

When Dante was about 2 or 3, he would wake up hungry in the night and need to eat at 2 or 3 in the morning. These were phases that lasted a few nights only, but he would literally sit up in bed crying for food (though he ate plenty during the day) and scarf down a couple of sandwiches and a glass of water before falling back asleep. Dominic did the same thing when he was about 18 months old. So there is a history of being hungry, but it was nothing compared to now.

Yesterday, I made two loaves of whole wheat bread. It was the best bread I’ve made yet, fluffy and light, though still very whole grain. The boys loved it. They ate an entire loaf yesterday afternoon with cream cheese and homemade strawberry jam. Then they had popcorn as a bedtime snack. Not a little bit, a whole big bowl each. And then . . . Dorian got up around 9, asking for a snack! I gave him an apple and he slept fine.
This morning, they got up, polished off the huge pan of hashbrowns that I made with ketchup, plus eggs for two of them. Then, about 30 minutes later, they ate the other loaf of bread!

Yes, keeping boys fed is definitely a challenge. Fortunately, they like to cook, too. Starting today, we’re having some bread baking and banana bread lessons. I figure I’d better start now before they hit the teen years or they’ll starve when I can’t keep up with the demand for food!

A Minecraft Birthday

Dante turned 7 on May 16th and it was awesome. He had requested a Minecraft haunted house cake, so I did my best to interprete that. Fortunately, my sister brought down some Halloween decorating items that really helped with setting the scene!

First, I baked the cakes and made cocoa krispie squares without butter so they’d be really sturdy. Once they were set up, I cut out two haunted houses and stuck them together.

Then I iced the whole thing and added bug sprinkles, candy tombstones and some pretzel windows and bone sprinkles. The end result was not particularly Minecrafty, but it was a big hit!

It looked particularly spooky when lit with candles.

After cake, we opened presents. Since the Minecraft block set was a HUGE undertaking (I still have a handful of blocks to finish painting), we only gave him that and a small Enderman pillow that I made. The blocks were insanely popular. There were shrieks from Dorian and everyone got into the play session that resulted afterward.

We headed to Florencia, an ecological park, for a picnic lunch and some play time. We love this park because of its awesome open spaces, but this time, there was something new!

New play structures! Even Dominic came flying down the slide above many, many times. Then they saw this riding mower and carriage mounted on stumps so kids could climb on them!

There was a balance log . . .

Things to climb . . .

And a tree full of holes with acorns stuffed in them. They went all the way up the tree and some squirrels got pretty ticked at us for trying to get them out.

In short, fun was had by all. It was a great day and Dante told me several times that he was really happy with his birthday.

Kids Say the Darndest Things: Episode 81

Me: “Dominic, why don’t you use the toilet?”
Dominic: “No toilet, diaper!”
Me: “Well, you wouldn’t be such a mess if you pooped in the toilet. What a mess!”
Dominic: “NO!”
Me: “No what?”
Dominic: “No get mad, Mama.”
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Dante: “How long does a firefly glow?”
Me: “I don’t know.”
Dante: “I think their electricity goes out when they sleep.”
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Dante: “Does everyone die when they’re 1000?”
Me: “Years? Most people die before they’re 100.”
Dorian: “What? So we’re the end of the world?!”
Me: “No . . . your grandkids and great grandkids will carry on the world. As people get old and die, new ones are born to replace them.”
Dorian: “So after I die, I come back as a new baby?”
Me: “Um, not that I know of. Some people believe that, though.”
Dorian: “Man, I hate this world!”
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Dominic: “Pacha?” (bottle)
Me: “If you have a pacha, you’re going to fall asleep.”
Dominic: “I’m not gonna sleep. Please?”
Five minutes later, he was asleep.
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Dominic: “Oh, Mama, look at this bear, he’s so cute! Give him a hug!”
Me: “Um, okay, but he’s kind of dirty.”
Dominic: “He’s cute! Oh . . . he’s ucky.”
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We were telling jokes at the table.
Dorian: to Dominic “Tell a joke, Dominic!”
Dominic: “Um . . . Irving is a joker!”
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Me: “What are you doing, Dominic?”
Dominic: “Making a mess. Mine blankets. Mine mess.”
Me: “You’re going to clean all those blankets up later, right?”
Dominic: “MINE MESS!”
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Dominic: “Awesome! Look, Mama, awesome!” hands me a paper with a scribble on it.

Preparing for My 7 Year Old

Dante turns seven on the 16th of this month and we are continuing with our theme of handmade for this birthday. He is very much into Minecraft, a computer game that is basically like virtual LEGO, and he lives, eats, and breathes it. While his computer time is limited, he spends quite a bit of time drawing Minecraft creations, building them with wood and paper or simply pretending that he is in the game.

Of course, he requested a Minecraft cake for his birthday, but we decided to go a step further. Irving cut 300 tiny blocks and sanded them the other day and I have been busy painting these little things to look like the blocks in Minecraft. It’s a lot of work, but I know this set will bring hours of playtime and fun to my boys! I’m only about halfway done with the painting and a number of the blocks are still waiting for detailing, but here’s a look at some of them.

My workspace, with about half the blocks.

An unfinished dirt with grass block.

A lava block.

A Minecraft cake.

Completed blocks, including cactus blocks, water, ice or glass, pumpkins, a stove and TNT, among others.