Homemade Spaghetti O's Pasta - Spring Forward with OXO Tot #Sponsored

Now that my son is getting older I'm looking for healthier alternatives to some of the foods that I loved at his age. Things like Chicken Soup with Stars and Spaghetti O's were staples as I was growing up and those same foods were what I turned to in college when I wanted a comforting meal that was quick, easy, and didn't require a kitchen. These days I tend to make much healthier choices, both for myself and my family, but I still long for the days of fun-shaped pasta drenched in a sweet and salty tomato cheese sauce. 

The good news is that making a healthy, homemade version of this classic food isn't much more difficult than opening a can. It's even made with ingredients most of you will already have on hand. If you're looking for a fun, yet healthy meal you and your kids will love, give these homemade spaghetti O's a shot.

Today's post was sponsored by OXO as part of the Spring Forward with OXO Tot blogger outreach campaign. They have provided me with a set of tools from their OXO Tot line, but no other compensation was given for this post. 

Today's post was sponsored by OXO as part of the Spring Forward with OXO Tot blogger outreach campaign. They have provided me with a set of tools from their OXO Tot line, but no other compensation was given for this post. 

Homemade Spaghetti O's
 

makes 2 - 4 servings

 

 

Ingredients


1 tablespoon salted butter
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
16 ounces tomato sauce (I used Red Gold)
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 cups ring shaped pasta
 

Directions
 

 

  • In a saucepan add butter, milk, and cheddar cheese. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until the butter and cheese has melted completely. Add tomato sauce and paprika, then allow to simmer while your pasta is cooking (approximately 8 - 10 minutes.)
  • Cook pasta according to package directions, top with tomato cheese sauce, and serve immediately.
     

Notes


Both sharp and aged cheddar cheese has a tendency to separate and leave behind little lumps of cheese. If you have a little one who is particular about texture consider using mild cheddar or monterey jack instead.

Having trouble finding ring shape pasta? I was able to find Creamette brand rings at Target as well as our local grocery store, but you could use mini shells, alphabet noodles, or another small size pasta in its place.

For a healthy meal your child will love I recommend pairing this with one of our homemade apple sauces. Check out our recipes for easy crockpot applesaucevanilla bean peachstrawberryspiced blueberry, and gingerbread.

Make sure to keep reading for our OXO Tot product review!

Today we'll be looking at the On-the-Go Wipes Dispenser w/ Diaper Pouch,
Flippy Snack Cup, Straw Cup (7 oz.), and Cleaning Set for Straws and Sippy Cups

Review


OXO On-the-Go Wipes Dispenser w/ Diaper Pouch

Out of all the products OXO has sent me over the years, this has ended up being one of my favorites. It's one of those things I wish I had when my son was still in diapers, but even though he's fully potty trained I still find it incredibly useful.

The storage pouch is large enough to hold roughly 5 diapers, 4 pairs of pull-ups, or several pairs of big-boy underwear. The wipes portion is a little on the small side, but it generally holds enough to get me through an entire day (as long as it doesn't involve spaghetti, at that point I find myself longing for a garden hose or a bath tub.)

What I love about this dispenser is that even after my little one is out of diapers it's still useful. My son is 4 and fully potty trained, but I still don't leave the house without wipes and a selection of small toys. The diaper portion of the dispenser is the size to hold a handful of hotwheels, a box of crayons, and a small notepad to keep my little guy occupied on shopping trips or long waiting lines.

As I said, it's incredibly useful.

OXO Flippy Snack Cup

The design of the flippy snack cup is absolutely genius, especially if you travel with your tot. The lid has a set of soft flaps that allows little ones to easily reach their snacks and those same flaps help keep snacks contained if the container is ever dropped or thrown.

What I don't like about this cup is the type of plastic it's made from. It's been my experience that hard plastic cups such as this one don't hold up to the long-term abuse of a toddler, especially if you have a tile floor. I'd prefer to see it made of a different type of plastic that doesn't scratch or break as easily, but if you have carpet it's a nice solution to keep snacks up off the floor.

OXO Straw Cup (7 oz.)

I have a real love/hate relationship with my son's sippy cups and after trying out nearly a dozen different designs over the past four years I have enough opinions to fill an entire blog post. OXO’s straw cup really appeals to me for a number of different reasons, but it isn’t without its faults. I love the markings on the side that easily allow me to see how much milk I’ve poured into the cup. While I don’t control the portions of my son’s drinks, I do like to keep track of how much he’s had, especially on a warm summer day. This is the only cup I’ve owned that has measuring marks and I absolutely love this feature.

I did mention that this cup isn’t without its faults and for me, one of the huge negatives is the design of the lid—it’s made of multiple pieces that don't disassemble. The simple fact is, at some point or another, if you are a parent you are going to lose a sippy cup only to find it a month later under the couch or in the car, full of moldy milk. This is a frequent occurrence in our house which is why it’s so important that the lid can be completely disassembled and cleaned. If you doubt me on this, do a google image search for moldy sippy cup, the results are absolutely disgusting.

For this reason alone I’m less inclined to buy a cup I can’t take apart completely, but at least this cup does have a replaceable straw (many brands don't offer replacements.) This is especially important when it comes to teething tots who will gnaw on squishy straws until there is nothing left.

OXO Cleaning Set for Straws and Sippy Cups

This last item is one I consider a must-have, even if you don’t have tots. It’s great for cleaning reusable straws and not just those attached to sippy cups. The three piece set has a large, rounded cleaner which is the perfect size for cleaning around rims and other stubborn areas, a long cleaner for reusable straws, sippy cups, and travel water bottles, and a toothpick-style cleaner for removing stubborn, stuck-on food from small spaces. This handy tool is a real time saver!


Where to Purchase



OXO On-the-Go Wipes Dispenser w/ Diaper Pouch — OXO.COM or Amazon
OXO Flippy Snack Cup — OXO.COM or Amazon
OXO Straw Cup (7 oz.) — OXO.COM or Amazon
OXO Cleaning Set for Straws and Sippy Cups — OXO.COM or Amazon

Disclosure


This post contains my Amazon affiliate links. I try to keep advertising unobtrusive and to a minimum in order to provide you with the best experience possible. Purchases made through these links provide me with a small income and ensure I can continue providing you with quality content.

Today's post was sponsored by OXO as part of the Spring Forward with OXO Tot blogger outreach campaign. They have provided me with a set of tools from their OXO Tot line, but no other compensation was given for this post. 

 

 

Gingerbread Applesauce + @OXOTot Product Review #Sponsored

I don't know about you, but once the weather hits freezing I'm ready to hibernate. Even my son, who is usually a little ball of energy sleeps in later and wants to spend more time cuddled in bed where it's warm. Today he got up at 8, realized how chilly the tile floor was, then came straight back to my room toting his handmade blanket from grandma and three of his most favorite stuffed animals—we didn't get up again until after 11.

Saturday is the day I normally dedicate to getting things done, be it house cleaning or blogging, but today I shoved it all aside to spend a few precious hours cuddling with my son. He's 4 now, in a very short while he'll decide he's too old to spend his days cuddled up in bed giving me big hugs and sloppy puppy kisses, so I try to drop whatever I'm doing and take advantage of this time while I can.

I think it's important for all parents to remember that these precious moments are the ones we can never get back. From time-to-time we need to slow down, forget about the laundry list of things we "need" to do and focus on what's truly important—creating lasting memories with our children. Take a minute to read a book, draw in the condensation on the windows, make snow angels, decorate cookies, or make some applesauce. Memories like these will last a lifetime and five-ten-twenty or more years from now you won't remember that the house looked like a tornado went through it because you took the day off from cleaning.

Today's post was sponsored by OXO as part of the OXO Tot Big Kids, Big Appetites blogger outreach campaign. They have provided me with a set of tools from their OXO Tot line, but no other compensation was given for this post. 

Today's post was sponsored by OXO as part of the OXO Tot Big Kids, Big Appetites blogger outreach campaign. They have provided me with a set of tools from their OXO Tot line, but no other compensation was given for this post. 

Gingerbread Applesauce
makes 2 - 3 pints

Ingredients

3lbs apples, any variety (I used Aurora Golden Gala)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground all spice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsulfured molasses 

Directions

  • Peel and slice apples, add spices, vanilla extract, and molasses, then cook on high in a crock-pot for 3 - 4 hours. The applesauce is done when it can easily be mashed with a fork or potato masher.

Notes

I prefer to serve my applesauce chunky, but you can puree it with a food mill, immersion blender, or food processor for a finer sauce. You'll want to let it cool down a little first to avoid any chance of burns.

I include canning instructions with most of my applesauce recipes, but because this recipe contains molasses I'm not positive that it's safe for water bath canning. That doesn't mean you can't can this recipe, but you'll want to leave out the molasses until you're ready to serve it. For water bath canning instructions check out our previous applesauce posts: Easy Crock-Pot ApplesauceStrawberry ApplesauceSpiced Blueberry Applesauce and Peach Applesauce.
 

Make sure to keep reading for our OXO Tot product review!

No shirt, no shoes, no service is clearly not a rule in our house! 

No shirt, no shoes, no service is clearly not a rule in our house! 

We've gone through quite a few plates in the past four years, but the divided plate from OXO is one of my favorites. The smaller size makes it easy for a child to grip while eating and the divided sections keep food mostly separated. I especially love the center dipping section, it's the perfect size for ketchup, syrup, or a dab of sour cream. The only thing this plate is missing is a lid, I'd love to have one so I can easily store leftovers.

Where to Purchase: Amazon or OXO

If you like this design, but prefer something with a lid there is a similar plate in the OXO Tot line, although it only has two sections. You can find it on Amazon.

Fork and Spoon Set

OXO sent me this set once before when my son was much smaller and it was all we used until he graduated to "big people" silverware. The large handles make the utensils easier for small hands to grip and the fork is slightly rounded to make scooping like a spoon possible as well. Now that my little man is older the blunt tines of the fork frustrate him, it makes stabbing larger pieces of meat difficult, but they're much safer for small ones just starting out with silverware.

Where to Purchase: Amazon or OXO

Perch Booster Seat

Because I travel so much I decided to purchase a booster seat for my son instead of a high chair, it made life so much easier when eating out at restaurants or while visiting homes not accustomed to hosting small children. The Perch Booster Seat wasn't available back then, so I ended up with one from Fisher-Price instead.

There are pros and cons to both models, but I like that the OXO Tot Perch Booster Seat weighs a mere 3lbs and has a slim profile—it makes traveling with it much more convenient. The Fisher-Price booster weighs a full pound more, which is a lot if you're already loaded down with a diaper bag and other odds and ends. Both models clean up easily, but you can actually remove the seat from the Perch Booster to get at any nooks and crannies food may have slipped into.

My son outgrew his last booster seat around age 2, so this is a great choice for older kids who are still too small to comfortably sit at the table. It's considered safe for children up to 70lbs, so should fit your needs though early elementary school.

Where to Purchase: Amazon or OXO

Disclosure

OXO sent me their Perch Booster Seat, Fork and Spoon Set, and Divided Plate with Removable Training Ring as part of this campaign. As always all opinions are my own.

This post contains my Amazon affiliate links. I try to keep advertising unobtrusive and to a minimum in order to provide you with the best experience possible. Purchases made through these links provide me with a small income and ensure I can continue providing you with quality content.

 

 

Honey Walnut Granola

Most days I don't put much thought into snack-time. My son doesn't really care much for fancy dips or sauces, and he isn't picky, so I pull out some yogurt, a jar of homemade applesauce, or slice up a red bell pepper and call it good. Like my son, my snack-time favorites are usually pretty simple. A handful of ripe cherry tomatoes, a spoonful of peanut butter, or some lightly salted almonds (which the dentist has officially banned me from forever.)

My husband on the other hand is very set in his ways when it comes to snacking and his tastes are nothing like mine (which was only reaffirmed during our recent trip to Arkansas.) His ultimate snack includes something sweet, crunchy, and salty— which would explain why he's huge fan of the trail mix I had been making before I broke another tooth. 

As you can tell, our snacking habits don't exactly line up, which means when we travel I have to pack separate snacks for everyone. It's a bit of a hassle, but it looks like we've finally found a snack we can all agree on. While we were shopping for vacation snacks my husband saw me looking over various healthy(ish) options (because a girl can't live off of yogurt alone) and noticed I had tossed some granola in the cart. He questioned whether one bag was enough for the entire week. Which only left me confused, it takes me weeks to finish off a bag.

Then he said the magic words... words I never thought I would hear from my non-hippy food eating, meat and potatoes loving husband. He said "well I'd like some to, you know." No husband, I did not know because you always make fun of my part-time vegetarian, healthy eating, hippy ways (he calls pretty much everything I eat hippy food.)

I've loved this man for over half my life and he still manages to surprise me sometimes.

So a second bag was added to the already overflowing cart. After he and my son finished off both bags in a matter of days he turned to me and asked me if I would make some more when we got home (because it was kinda silly to spend $10 on two bags of granola.) 

In that, at least, we are in full agreement. 

When we got home I pulled out the last of the honey my aunt and uncle gave me at Christmas and got to work. I managed to learn something new while fiddling around in the kitchen— egg whites are the key to making clumpy granola. The protein helps bind everything together. If you don't eat eggs or are allergic to them, feel free to leave them out. You'll still have tasty, albeit somewhat less clumpy granola, it will be ready in under an hour, and it will be better than anything you'll find in the store.

Honey Walnut Granola

Honey Walnut Granola
makes 8 - 10 servings

Ingredients

½ cup honey
½ cup dark brown sugar, packed
½ cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 cups old fashioned rolled oats (not quick oats)
2 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon ceylon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 325˚F. In a saucepan, set over medium heat, combine honey, brown sugar, unsalted butter, and vanilla extract. Cook until the butter has melted, then pour over oats. Add walnuts, cinnamon, and salt.
  • In a separate bowl use a whisk to beat egg whites until foamy, then add add them to the granola mixture. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then spread mixture in a single thin layer, making sure to press it flat with a spatula. 
  • Bake for 40 minutes, rotating the pan once halfway through. When the granola has finished baking, allow it to cool to room temperature before breaking into chunks.

Notes

Store finished granola in an air-tight container. It will remain fresh for at least two weeks, although ours never stays around that long.

If you want to add to this recipe, keep in mind that nuts and seeds should be added before baking and things like dried fruit or chocolate should be added once the granola is completely cool.

To make this snack easily portable, take a Wide-Mouth Pint Size Canning Jar, fill it half way with granola, and drop a cup of yogurt on top. Greek yogurt containers from Chobani or Oikos won't fit, but most of the smaller yogurt containers will work just fine. You can seal the jar with a Plastic Storage Caps to make things easy or use the two-piece lid and ring that come with the jar. 

Honey Walnut Granola - Mason Jar Snacks

On-the-Go with OXO Tot #Sponsored

Last year I had an opportunity to work with OXO as part of their #FirstBites campaign. It was tons of fun sharing some my son's favorite foods like Spiced Blueberry Applesauce, Vanilla Bean Pear Sauce, and Healthy Mini Popsicles Perfect for Teething Tots! So I'm excited to announce that we'll be working with them again this week as part of the Choose Your Own Adventure with OXO Tot campaign. They've sent me a box of goodies that I'll be sharing with you today, along with a story or two of my experiences of traveling with my own tot in tow. As you already know, we're always on-the-go! 

And because I've got a whole slew of new recipes for little ones to share, check back soon, I'll be sharing one of my favorite snacks to take along when we travel.

OXO Tot On-the-Go Travel Drying Rack with Bottle Brush

 

My First Trip with a Tot: A Tale of Forgotten Items

When my son was 9 months old I packed him in the car, kissed my husband goodbye, and preceded to take him on a 3,000 mile road trip with my mother. My friends were convinced I was absolutely bonkers for spending two weeks in the car with a small child in tow. The good news is that he slept for most of the trip— the car has always been his kryptonite. The bad news is that I was woefully unprepared to be traveling through rural Kansas with a small child. I couldn't pop out to the store for anything I had forgotten, because the closest large store of any kind is nearly 35 miles away and the grocery store is at least a 40 mile round trip.

I remember crossing my fingers in hopes I hadn't forgotten anything, but I'm sure you know how that turned out. I always forget something, usually it's my toothbrush (I'm pretty sure the gas station in Moline stocks them just for me because I buy one every time I come to town.) This time I realized a little too late that I had forgotten the baby bottle brush. It's hard enough to clean dirty bottles at home, but after they've sat in the diaper bag all day they're next to impossible to clean without a bottle brush. I wish I would have had the OXO Tot On-the-Go Travel Drying Rack with Bottle Brush, it would have made my first year of traveling so much easier.

We're long past the days where we need baby bottles in our home, but it's still a nice item to toss in the bag for scrubbing sippy cups and travel mugs, something we never leave home without.

OXO Tot Non-Slip Handy Stroller Hook

 

Just Hanging Around with my Tot

As a new mother I never seemed to have enough hands. I thought things would change as my son got older, but I was only fooling myself. Even though he's almost 4 we can't leave the house without his favorite Minion cup, stuffed animal, a snack or two, and a whole bunch of things to keep him occupied that don't involve pulling out my ipad. I had hoped to get back to the point where all I carry out the door is purse, but we're not quite to that point yet.

Perhaps one day...

Since it's summer we've been spending a lot of time out walking the neighborhood, visiting the park or zoo, and making impromptu trips to the beach for swimming lessons. That means we're taking even more stuff with us than usual. Since I haven't found a way to grow and additional arm or two I thought the OXO Tot Non-Slip Handy Stroller Hook would be the answer to all my problems. The only problem is, it doesn't work well with the new umbrella stroller we picked up last month. It has a tendency to slide down the handle, making my bags drag on the ground. I still think this is pretty handy, especially if you happen to have a stroller without curved handles, but sadly it's not a solution to my problem.

I guess my late-night research into growing additional limbs will continue for now...

OXO Tot On-the-Go Travel Wipes Dispenser

 

The Unpredictable Nature of Tots

I thought I had traveling with my little man down to a science, we've been at it for four years now, but our recent outing to Busch Stadium only showed me otherwise. We'd been there awhile chilling out with my father-in-law for his 60th birthday, the little man was packing away junk food like it was going out of style, and then he choked on a peppermint. That meant the nachos, milk, grapes and every other thing he'd managed to Hoover up in the last thirty minutes came right back up. And of course, it came up all over me because this kid will never puke on his father. Ever.

I quickly discovered that when security searched my bag at the gate they managed to bury my baby wipes at the bottom of my purse. This was not a good time to make that discovery, let me tell you!

It made me wish the goodies for this campaign had come in a week earlier. The
OXO Tot On-the-Go Travel Wipes Dispenser
would have been conveniently attached to the side of my stroller where I could have easy access to it my puke covered state. The one-handed push button access means you can get to your wipes in a hurry— as parents we've all been in at least one situation where this would have been handy.

If your tot is past the point of needing wipes it makes a great storage box for crayons, markers, and a small notepad to help keep your tot occupied. If you're traveling with your tot you can never have too many things on hand to keep them busy!

I know that last story was gross, but that's life with a small child. They're just unpredictable that way. Don't forget to check back Friday for an easy on-the-go recipe that is sure to keep your own tot happy.
 

Disclosure

 

OXO sent me their OXO Tot On-the-Go Travel Wipes Dispenser, Handy Stroller Hook, Travel Drying Rack with Bottle Brush, and 2-in-1 Go Potty for Travel as part of this campaign. As always all opinions are my own.

This post contains my Amazon affiliate links. I try to keep advertising unobtrusive and to a minimum in order to provide you with the best experience possible. Purchases made through these links provide me with a small income and ensure I can continue providing you with quality content.