• Attachment Parenting 
  • Breastfeeding
  • Children
  • Gardening
  • Natural Living
  • Recent posts


    Kelly On Facebook



    Visit Natural Parents Network
    Best For Babes - Life Saving Devices


    Archive

    Categories

    Tags

    Rainbow Orzo Pasta Salad (vegan)





    This salad is quick & easy, healthy, super-fresh, kid-friendly, and best of all (of course), tastes delish! Perfect for a warm Summer (or Spring that feels like Summer) evening! 

    Ingredients:

     

    1 box of orzo pasta

    1/2 bunch of green onions, chopped

    1 bell pepper, chopped (the more color, the better - we only used one, but could have done with a second)

    1 bunch of asparagus, lightly steamed (cooked just enough to tenderize, but not lose crispness - 3 min in the microwave did it for us)

    1 cucumber (seedless if possible), chopped

    1/2 cup of italian dressing (whatever dressing you love the best!)

    salt & pepper to taste

     

    Other things you could add to expand the rainbow… carrots! celery! corn! peas! tomatoes!

     

    Preparation:

     

    Put the pasta on to boil. While it's going, steam the asparagus - but remember to go light; you still want it to have a crispness to it. Chop the veggies (the kids helped with this). When the pasta is ready, drain & immediately cool with cold water. Drain completely. Transfer to a bowl & add veggies (more kid help!), pour over the dressing, add salt & pepper, stir (even more kid help!), and then… enjoy!

    This keeps well in the fridge for a few days; watch the cukes for softness, otherwise, all the other veggies hold up well. 

     

    (I know this isn't a grea photo, but I had to add it - just for the GUSTO with which this boy stirs the pasta!)

    Posted: Apr 18 2012, 23:17 by kelly | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |
    • Currently 0/5 Stars.
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5

    English Muffin Pizza Recipe





    So what do you do when you have hungry kids, not much time, and a lot of stale english muffins? Make english muffin pizzas, of course!
    These are super-easy & fun for small hands to help make. We had so much fun, in fact, that I forgot to take photos of the preparation phase! There’s plenty to do for all levels of skill – splitting the muffins, slicing veggies, spooning sauce, sprinkling cheese, shaking on spices. Makes a perfect, quick, vegetarian lunch or dinner!
    Ingredients:
    Stale English Muffins (or fresh… but seriously, if you have fresh, just toast & enjoy with butter & jam, as they are meant to be enjoyed!)

    Your favorite tomato sauce

    Shredded mozzarella (or vegan mozzarella) cheese
    Sliced veggies for toppings (we only made cheese this time, but you can add peppers, tomatos, onions, mushrooms, artichokes, olives... get creative!)

    Garlic powder, black pepper, & oregano
    Preparation:
    Cut english muffins in half & place on a pizza pan or other surface which allows air to circulate beneath the muffins – if you like crispier crust pizza. [Note: We don’t have a pizza pan, so I baked ours on a cookie “cooling rack” which was set on a cookie sheet. You can also crumple aluminum foil, then uncrumple & line a pan (the wrinkles allow air to flow underneath)] If you like your pizza with softer crust, you can bake directly on a cookie sheet. Spoon 1 – 2 Tbs of sauce onto each muffin – spreading it out almost to the edge. Add veggies or other toppings. Top each with mozzarella cheese – remember to keep the cheese towards the middle of the muffin as it will melt & spread! Shake on garlic, pepper, and oregano to taste. Bake at 450 F for ~10 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly & pizzas are browning lightly on the edges & top. Remove & allow to cool for a few minutes. Then… enjoy!
    Posted: Jul 04 2011, 00:06 by kelly | Comments (9) RSS comment feed |
    • Currently 0/5 Stars.
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5

    Starting Seeds





    Last year was the first year we tried planting edible plants in our backyard in containers, and had a fairly successful (albeit modest) harvest: a couple of sweet strawberries, three tiny cucumbers, and several handfuls of cherry tomatoes! In our condo, we are blessed with a tiny fenced yard which allows us a private (although mostly shady) area where we can plant our own veggies and flowers, along with a sunny garden we built up against the woods in the common area. We've used the in-ground garden in past years for non-edible plants (due to the pesticides & fertilizers which are spread in the neighborhood [not inside the fences], I'm not comfortable eating anything from the common area) like sunflowers and pumpkins. This year, we decided to get a bit more ambitious with our edible garden, and we're going for some shade-tolerant root veggies: beets & carrots, greens: lettuce, spinach, and broccoli, along with fun-to-grow & eat snap peas! It's still a bit too cold yet in New Jersey to plant veggies outside, so we decided to start our seeds inside, and move them out to the back in a few weeks. I'm not sure yet whether we'll construct a raised bed, or plant in pots again. We also haven't decided what's to go in the common area garden yet either. Stay tuned for details!

    We bought some lovely organic potting soil (from Maine - yay!), biodegradable pots, and organic seeds, put down some newspaper, and got to work! The kids had a blast in the dirt (okay, so did I!), my daughter showed a bit of her creative side with designing the seed markers, and my son practiced his motor skills gently watering the finished pots. Enjoy our afternoon in pictures... Can't wait until they start to sprout!


    (Go Organic!)


    (If you could only SMELL this dirt - *swoon*)


    (Carefully filling the pots)


    (Gently sprinkling the seeds)


    (More seeding...)


    (Watering the pots)


    (Done!)

    Are you planning a garden this year? What are you planting?

    Posted: Mar 28 2011, 00:35 by kelly | Comments (6) RSS comment feed |
    • Currently 0/5 Stars.
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5

    Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Salad or Bruschetta





    Inspired by the upcoming growing season (okay, and the beautiful display of tomatoes and basil in the grocery store!), the kids & I decided to make a salad for dinner. This recipe is simple, uses just a few fresh ingredients (perfect for summer when your garden is full!), and can be served in a variety of ways.

    Ingredients:

    3 Smallish to medium tomatoes on the vine
    1 cup Fresh basil
    1/2 cup Fresh mozzarella balls (you can sub cubed tofu to make this vegan)
    3 Tbs Extra virgin olive oil
    2 Tbs Balsamic vinegar
    Sea Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper

    Alternative Ingredients:
    Baby Spinach
    Cucumber

    Preparation:

    Cut the tomatoes into whatever size you'd like - smaller chunks for bruschetta, larger for a salad. Chop the basil & loosely fill a one cup measure. If you like your salad more basil-y (yum!), use more! Add all the ingredients into a large bowl and toss gently. Allow to marinate for just a bit, then enjoy!

    We ended up adding some chopped cucumber at the end, to add a bit of volume to the salad, and I served mine over a bed of baby spinach leaves. You can also chop the tomatos a bit finer, and serve on toasted sourdough or Italian bread as a fabulous bruchetta!

    Posted: Mar 23 2011, 22:39 by kelly | Comments (6) RSS comment feed |
    • Currently 0/5 Stars.
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5

    Container Vegetable Gardening





    I’ve been perennial gardening for years. Adam and I were sort of thrown into it nearly 10 years ago, when we moved to Maine, and the house we bought was surrounded by an amazing array of perennial plants and flowers. I’d grown up gardening with my mother, and felt, at the time, that I had a pretty good handle on plants. I could get mostly any houseplant to grow & thrive, and had luck in our previous apartments with summer annuals out on the balcony. But 8 fully landscaped flower beds on two acres (the woman from whom we purchased the house even left us with a detailed map of the flowers and plants – yeah, that might have tipped us off)… this was a different animal altogether. During our five years in Maine, we had some gardening successes (amazing echinacea and lilac bushes) and failures (composting, vegetable gardening, and weed management - FAIL), but in all, we learned SO MUCH about gardening (namely, never, ever, buy a house with 8 huge meticulously landscaped perennial beds again, because man oh man, that is a LOT of mulch), and came to love it in spite of the challenges. We even got married in our gardens (cue giant previously mentioned echinacea):

    When we moved to our apartment in New Jersey, I really missed the calming aspect of gardening, in spite of the work. I missed tending the plants (that didn’t talk back, but let you know by growing bigger & more beautiful, that you were doing a good job nonetheless), smelling the fragrant lilac in early spring, and the feeling of great energy and beauty that exuded from each plant. So, as soon as we bought our house here, I set to work spending a near fortune all my free time on planting New Jersey-friendly perennials, and slowly expanding our tiny front flower bed into the beautiful garden it is today. I’ve always involved the children when gardening; from the time my daughter was a baby – I’d set her out on a blanket next to the bed where I was working – until today; where both of my children happily work beside me, and even lead the way in gardening.


    My daughter & son leading the way out the back yard to our pumpkin garden

    This year, since both kids are of the age where they can actively participate in and learn about the details of planting, caring for, looking after, trimming, and harvesting plants, I decided to take another step forward in gardening, and we started a “vegetable garden” and container veggies. Now, I put that first one in quotes because our current “vegetable garden” actually only consists of pumpkins, sunflowers, and ornamental corn (which we planted today), due to the unknown soil quality and potential contaminants. I’m not comfortable eating anything we plant out there. However, because I think there’s great teaching and motivational value for my children in being able to actually EAT the literal fruits of your labor, I also decided we’d take on the task of container gardening in our enclosed back yard (out of reach of the landscapers who liberally and frequently spray pesticides through our neighborhood).

    After an initial less-than-stellar attempt at locating organic potting mix at a big box store this weekend, I elicited the assistance of twitter. With the help of Hobo_Mama & innerwizdom’s sage gardening advice, I was able to locate an appropriate natural potting medium for our new cucumbers (and for transplanting our tomato and strawberry). The kids and I made a special trip to Whole Foods and found an organic potting mix by Organic Mechanics and an organic compost & peat mix by Coast of Maine (rather apropos, no?).


    As an aside (and let me say, neither of the aformentioned companies have contacted me in any way, and I paid for these items myself - I just feel it necessary to tell you about how awesome they are), the difference between the two actually organic soils and the so-called "organic" soil by Miracle Gro that I was duped into buying at the local big box store is unbelievable. The M.G. (abbreviating from here on out, as not to attract any more unneeded attention to said mainstream brand) soil smelled so noxious – even IN the bag (unopened!) in our house – that that I had to immediately put it outside. There was NO WAY I was going to put our edible vegetables in that. After opening the bag, I discovered it was heavy, dense, smelly, and full of unknown bits of who knows what. I didn’t want my children to even touch the stuff. I should have been tipped off by the warning on the back, indicating to keep away from children. It’s SOIL! Keep away from children? Ey yi yi… can you say greenwashing? In contrast, the Organic Mechanics and Coast of Maine soils were rich, dark, and smelled heavenly (like dirt SHOULD!) yet were light & fluffy to boot. I willingly encouraged my kids get themselves dirty in the organic soils.

    My son alternated scoops from both bags and filled the container. My daughter placed our cucumber plants (we chose a low-growing bush variety - good for containers, and pickling!) in the midst, and gently pressed down the additional soil my son placed around the base of the baby plants. We put in a metal trellis on which the cukes could travel up. Watered, and done!

    Next, came tending the back garden. We discovered that something (we’ve seen deer, groundhog, birds, and squirrels visit our garden, hence the installation of the fence) had eaten the heads off of our sunflower sprouts; which was our third attempt at growing sunflowers out back. On the upside, our Northern Giant pumpkin is really taking off! We also had some random wild corn sprout up in our garden, so we decided not to leave those stalks lonely, and planted some ornamental red corn.

    The kids turned up the dirt, pulled weeds, and prepped the soil.


    My three and five year old painstakingly placed one kernel at a time into each hole and gently covered them. I was amazed, as I always am, by the gentleness and patience my children naturally display around the plants. We watered everything, and voila! Another fabulous day in the garden! Here’s hoping nothing decides to dig up the kernels as special treats.

    Up next? Transplanting our tomato & strawberry plants into the fragrant Maine soil. So... what are you planting?

    Posted: Jun 09 2010, 00:00 by kelly | Comments (5) RSS comment feed |
    • Currently 0/5 Stars.
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5