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.

 

 

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus #MezzettaMixer House Party

In honor of my son's third birthday I thought I'd share a recipe for one of his (and my) all time favorite snack foods. We go through an obscene amount of hummus in this household. Our flavor choices tend to run a pretty wide gamut, but we always seem to come back to roasted red pepper. When I decide to make up a batch it's generally gone in under ten minutes.

We can be such gluttons sometimes (please don't judge me!)

I've been slowly tweaking the recipe and my latest addition, a combination of smoked paprika and cayenne pepper, really makes the flavor stand out far above anything you'll find at the supermarket. It's absolutely addictive and comes together quickly (which is doubly dangerous if you're a glutton like me, I just thought I should warn you.) It's great for last minute company, or can be made a few days in advance for the times you have a mass of hungry people descending on your home. I'll be whipping up a double batch to feed the hungry hoard we have visiting for the party and I bet it's gone not long after it hits the table. This is one dish that never has leftovers.

I would like to thank Mezzetta and House Party for the awesome box of goodies they sent me for the Mix it Up with Mezzetta House Party on Saturday, 27th September. I was able to experiment with ingredients I haven't worked with before and my guests got to go home with some pretty nifty swag. Keep your eyes peeled for my Antipasto recipe, also using Mezzetta ingredients, I'll be posting it soon.

RedPepperHummus.jpg

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
makes 4 servings

Ingredients

15 ounces canned garbanzo beans, no salt added
1 cup Mezzetta roasted red peppers or roast your own pepper (see notes)
3 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh
2 tablespoons tahini
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon cumin, ground
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika, ground

optional

1 teaspoon parsley, dried
2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

  • Drain and rinse garbanzo beans, be sure to remove any skins that remain attached.
  • In a food processor or blender combine the garbanzo beans, red peppers, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, sea salt, cumin, cayenne pepper, and smoked paprika. Pulse or blend until smooth.
  • Optional: top with additional red peppers, dried parsley, and olive oil. If using olive oil you'll want to add it just before serving since olive oil turns cloudy and hardens when refrigerated.
  • Serve with pita chips, flat bread, or an assortment of fresh veggies.

Notes

If you don't want to used jarred roasted red peppers you can roast your own. Substitute 1 whole red bell pepper (peeled and chopped) for the cup of Mezzetta roasted red peppers.

Disclosure

In an effort to be open with my readers I want to let you know that House Party and Mezzetta have provided me with free or discounted products that I've used to create this recipe. As always, all opinions are my own.

Caramel Banana Matcha Smoothie

It's pretty well established that I'm not a morning person. It's so bad that if I have somewhere to be early in the morning I'd rather stay up all night and show up somewhat tired than grouchy and grumpy (my typcially early morning state.) I'm not sure why it is, but even after a full night sleep I find myself dragging when I first get out of bed. Some days it's hard to resist crawling back in, pulling the sheets over my head, and pretending the day hasn't started. Does any one else feel this way? Most of the time I feel like I'm the only one; I have the misfortune of having a husband and son who are not just early risers, but also very chipper in the morning. That is so not me!

To combat this I've started drinking matcha when I first wake up. The burst of energy it gives me is exactly what I need to get going without the caffeine crash coffee typically gives you later in the day. You may have caught some of my matcha reviews during Tuesday Tea, but if not, I order my matcha from Red Leaf Tea in Illinois. They offer a huge variety of flavored matcha and I've enjoyed experimenting with it. I've fallen in love with the caramel flavor and now that the weather has warmed up I've been combining it with my morning smoothie which has produced some pretty tasty results. Today's recipe for Caramel Banana Matcha Smoothies has been my favorite so far, so I hope you enjoy it.

MatchaSmoothie.jpg

Caramel Banana Matcha Smoothie
makes 2 servings

Ingredients

1 cup 2% milk
1 medium sized banana, sliced and frozen
1 teaspoon caramel matcha from Red Leaf Tea

optional

Whipped cream
Chopped walnuts 

Directions

  • Slice banana, place in a ziplock bag or covered container and freeze overnight.
  • Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve immediately.
  • For a decadent treat top with whipped cream and chopped walnuts before serving.

Guacamole

I love this time of year, mostly because the weather has finally started to warm up and I can ditch my winter wardrobe, but also because avocados are inexpensive and plentiful. They're great as a meal itself, served unadorned and uncomplicated, or as an addition to salads and sandwiches. As much as I love to enjoy them on their own, I could probably eat my weight in guacamole. It's no secret, I have a bit of an addiction and love to slather it on burgers, sandwiches, or eat it with tortilla chips. 

There are a number of ways to make guacamole, but I like to keep things fairly straightforward. It doesn't need to be complicated to taste good, but success in preparing it lies in the small details. You need perfect avocados, ripe but not too ripe, a fresh off the vine tomato (a hot house grown tomato just will not do,) a shallot, salt, and a few herbs and spices. Oh, and don’t forget the lime juice, to help keep it from browning. This small handful of ingredients turns a simple avocado into something extraordinary and because it's quick and easy to make it's the perfect dip to make for parties or last minute guests.

Guacamole.jpg

Guacamole
makes approximately 6 servings

Ingredients:

3 medium-sized avocados
1 whole lime
1 large-sized shallot
1 small vine-ripened tomato
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
⅛ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper 

optional:

jalapeño pepper, seeded 

Directions:

  • Cut the avocados in half and remove the pits and skin with a spoon. Dice into chunks, sprinkle with lime juice, and mash with a fork.
  • Mince the shallot, dice the tomato and optional jalapeño, then combine with the mashed avocado.
  • Add cumin, cayenne pepper, sea salt, and ground black pepper, then stir to incorporate.
  • Chill the guacamole for 30 minutes before serving. 

Notes:

Guacamole doesn't store well, so try to eat it immediately. Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days, but you'll notice heavy browning where the avocado has begun to oxidize. To slow this down place a layer of plastic wrap directly on top of the guacamole before storing and scrape away any brown spots before serving.