Weeknight Meals: Green Chef Intro

I like to make a few home cooked meals each week but I find that I often end up making the same 3-4 go-to dishes by default.  I wanted to mix things up while keeping it healthy so I decided to give Green Chef a try.  They deliver all the necessary ingredients for your meals once a week in a box lined with ice packs (so you don't have to be home when it arrives).  The great feature that sets Green Chef apart from other similar options is that all the ingredients are organic (or sustainably sourced, fish for example).  The directions are easy to follow and I've been happy with the results!  Since there is still some prep, chopping and sautéing involved, I definitely feel like I'm cooking and creating some yummy goodness from scratch.  Each meal takes 30-40 minutes to prepare but some prep can be done ahead of time if things tend to get too hectic right before dinnertime.  I love receiving only the portions of each ingredient that are needed for the recipes.  I really think this will help save on grocery costs!  So far, each dish has been delicious and we have had leftovers every time.

Give it a try and receive 4 free meals by following this link!

Rainbow Trout Veracruz, patatas bravas, tomato-caper-olive tapenade

Chicken and Biscuits, carrots & tomatoes, celery roof "fauxtato" salad

Italian Meatballs, orzo pasta, mushrooms & kale, tomato sauce

Weeknight Meals: Slow Cooker Chicken Mole

I made the easiest dinner last night and I owe it all to my slow cooker!  I was in search of a good chicken mole recipe after enjoying some delicious mole enchiladas at Skinny Rita's last week.  I stumbled upon this version and cut the recipe in half with a few adjustments.  It's so fun to order mole at restaurants because it really is a little different everywhere you try it.  It's almost like a Mexican "special sauce".  Mole has a nice kick of spice with a little sweetness to keep things interesting.  Chocolate for dinner?  Yes please! 

Step 1: Season four boneless, skinless chicken breasts with kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper.

Step 2: Blend the remaining ingredients for some savory and slightly sweet goodness.

A few hours in the slow cooker and voila!  A healthy dinner!

Slow Cooker Chicken Mole (4-6 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 4 breasts)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 14.5oz. can of diced tomatoes with green chilies (I chose this organic one)
  • 3 large chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, plus 1/2 tablespoon adobo sauce
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
  • 1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (or you can cheat and use the chips like I did)
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. Season chicken breasts on both sides with kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper.  Place in slow cooker in one layer (try to not overlap).
  2. Place remaining ingredients in a blender and blend on high until sauce is smooth.
  3. Pour sauce into the slow cooker and mix with chicken.  Allow some sauce to go under the breasts so that they won't stick to the bottom.
  4. Set your cooker for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.  Note:  Since the breasts are skinless and boneless, they won't need to cook for the full time.  Switch the cooker to warm after 2.5 hours on high or 6 hours on low.  There is A LOT of sauce in this recipe so the breasts won't dry out but the meat will be much more tender if you adjust the timing.
  5. Enjoy over rice with beans or with tortillas.  The breasts can also be shredded and turned into another meal for the week.  Hold on to the extra sauce!

Easy Homemade Baby Food: 5 Reasons To Try It

I used to think that parents who made all of their own baby food were superhuman and required no sleep.  I always liked the idea of creating yummy purées from nutritious foods for my baby but how would I find the time?  How would I store the food?  Would he even like it?  Luckily, since Landon didn't eat solids on a daily basis until the 6 month mark, we had some time to get our routine down and his sleep schedule on track.  Regular nap times have given me a chance to experiment with a couple of simple and very easy recipes.  

Since there are quite a few reasonably priced organic baby food options in stores and online these days, I don't make all of Landon's food but I do like to make a big batch of purées every couple of weeks.  I pop a few pouches of homemade goodness in the fridge and a few more in the freezer.  For the majority of the recipes designed for baby's first experience with solid food, there are really only one or two main ingredients.   These fruits or veggies can be blended with a little water or milk to achieve the right consistency.  I started Landon on a thinner food made with more liquid at first to ease the transition to solid eating.  Once he got the hang of being fed with a spoon, I started making his food a little thicker.  We decided to start off with veggies before trying fruit.  We figured that if he is anything like his mom, he would get hooked on sweets and didn't want to risk him refusing healthy green vegetables after that.  It turns out that his absolute favorite food by far is sweet potato so he is getting the best of both worlds.  He has a pretty big appetite and rarely refuses any food but if I mix anything with his favorite staple, he is sure to eat it right up.

So...why even bother with the mess? (It's really not that messy...)

1. It's the healthiest choice!  When it's homemade, you know exactly what is going into your baby's food.  Many of the best organic packaged baby food options list water as the first ingredient.  This does nothing but "bulk up" the product and reduce the nutrients.  When you blend your own baby food at home, water is added for consistency but it certainly isn't the main ingredient.

2. You can make organic baby food for your little one at a fraction of the cost of store bought options.  When you aren't paying for that cute, colorful packaging, the savings really add up.

3. Simple storage.  Fresh food made at home can be refrigerated for up to 48 hours and frozen for up to 2 months. 

4.  There is nothing like the ego boost and sense of accomplishment from watching your baby happily eat up your homemade treats.  

5.  It's fun!  

The Goods:

  • Recipes: My close friend and college roomie is also an experienced mom of two.   She gave me The Petit Appetit Cookbook which I love.  For most first solids, it's just a matter of cooking a veggie and tossing it in the blender with some water or milk.  As baby grows, you can get more creative by combining different ingredients.
  • Storage: The two options I use are the Infantino Squeeze Station and pouches and the Mumi and Bubi Freezer Trays (no waste!)  I highly recommend the squeeze station and it is a fun and simple way to put purées into pouches.  We received this as a shower gift from a sweet coworker and it really does make food storage a snap! 
  • Travel Utensils: If you are out and about, these little guys are so convenient.  Just screw the spoon onto your pouch and go!
  • Bibs: Current fave

Whether you buy pouches or jars at the store or use your own pouches at home, recycling can really cut back on a lot of unnecessary waste.  At the recommendation of my close friend and fellow blogger, I collect all of my pouches over the course of a couple weeks and send them to Terracycle.  The shipping is free and each shipment earns you points that can then be donated to schools and charities!

Sweet potato in the squeeze station

The finished product

Baby approved!