kid-friendly · Recipes

Turkey &Veggie Meatloaf (Toddler Friendly!)

So, I’ve been trying to revive my slow cooker for our cool fall nights, but am having trouble expanding my repertoire of recipes. A few weeks ago, I bought ground turkey to try and make this slow cooker cheeseburger casserole, but it seemed like every morning that week was just too hectic for me to do the minimal prep required to get it started before work. With the expiration date looming, I had no choice but to throw all that ground turkey into a meatloaf. That’s how this recipe was born! I didn’t discover a new slow cooker meal, but I did devise something just as easy and even a little bit healthy, since I snuck a lot of finely-diced and shredded veggies into it too. I’m really trying  to get more vegetables into Georgia’s diet these days, and this succeeded in doing that, while still tasting very moist and just like a classic meatloaf. Success!

The only bad thing is that I took ZERO good pictures of it. You’ll just have to trust me that this came out so tasty, and use for your evidence these snapshots of Georgia enjoying dipping hunks of the meatloaf in her favorite condiment — ketchup — which she calls sauce (“mama, I need more SAUCE!”) I really think the far-off stare, eating straight ketchup with her fork, and treating her binky like a place setting will make this look even more appetizing for you. And yes, I put a red shirt over my child’s regular clothing when she’s eating ketchup.

  
What makes this toddler friendly?

  • It uses turkey instead of ground beef & other red meats that are higher in saturated fats (and may be carcinogenic!)
  • It makes minimal use of that nutritional dud white bread, instead using some bread crumbs. I don’t know about your kids, but mine gets PLENTY of refined carbs as it is.
  • It packs a lot of veggies without turning a weird color or tasting too “green.”
  • It is good for practicing fork/spoon/knife skills, but is also very grab-able for hands that just want to go straight from plate to mouth!
  • The most obvious: it is prime dunking material, in ketchup, barbecue sauce, what have you.
  • Meatloaf is cool-weather food. It’s filling, reminds you of weeknight dinners as a kid, and reheats beautifully for busy evenings after work and school.

Without further ado, here is the recipe!

Turkey & Veggie Meatloaf

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 large egg
  • 1.5 cups grated or diced vegetables of your choosing
  • 1 TBSP Dijon mustard
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 TBSP ketchup (extra) for serving

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350F. In a large bowl, combine the turkey, breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup ketchup, egg, vegetables, and mustard. Mix well and season with salt and pepper.

Pack the mixture into a loaf pan. Combine the Worcestershire sauce and remaining ketchup and brush over the meatloaf.

Bake for 45 minutes and serve warm. Packs well for day care with a side of “sauce!”

For vegetables, I used green beans, sweet potatoes and zucchini/summer squash. You could use whatever you like or have on hand.

I hope you are all enjoying Autumn and getting excited about Halloween. We are getting into the spirit with festive drinks, decorating our house for trick-or-treaters, and visiting the playground a few more times before frost sets in.

Georgia is going to be Minnie Mouse for Halloween this year — how about you??

Have fun, stay safe, and share photos afterward 🙂

Holidays · kid-friendly · Recipes

Caramel Apple Dip (EASY!)

A few weeks ago, we went to the 1st birthday party of a close high school friend’s baby girl. Her mom had made the most delicious dip for sliced apples, and adults and kids alike were gobbling it up. When I asked her for the recipe (as Georgia kept digging into it!), she said it had just three ingredients that sound gross when you list them out separately, but tasted perfect when combined together. They are cream cheese, caramel sauce and granola. Weird, right?

But just like she said, it comes together magically. Thanks, Judi!

I love how fast this is to make, and how easy it is to find these ingredients. It tastes like a caramel apple that you’d buy at the orchard after a full day of apple picking! And the best part is that, for $10 in ingredients, you can feed a gigantic crowd of people, because a little bit of this goes a LONG way when served alongside fruit and crackers. I had friends over Monday night and made it, and six of us polished off half the pan; my co-workers took care of the rest when I brought it to work today!.


You can buy any brand of cream cheese, granola or caramel sauce. I picked up Trader Joe’s cream cheese and caramel and Bear Naked granola at the Roche Bros. downtown because TJ’s didn’t have any normal flavors of granola left. This can easily be made with a nut-free or gluten-free version if you so desire.

Caramel Apple Dip

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 container whipped plain cream cheese (full or low fat, your preference)
  • 1 jar of caramel dip (such as T. Marzetti) or sauce, like you’d find near the ice cream cones and toppings
  • about two cups of granola, any flavor you like
  • sliced apples and/or simple crackers to eat alongside

DIRECTIONS

In a pie plate or large bowl, layer the whipped cream cheese, caramel sauce (softening for 1 minute in the microwave if necessary) and granola evenly and serve at room temperature with sliced apples, cut large enough to scoop out the dip. Enjoy with a dozen friends!

This pairs especially well with cheese on an appetizer spread. Just like that slightly odd New England tradition of eating slices of cheddar with apple pie, right? What I especially like about this is how it doesn’t melt, congeal, separate, or otherwise morph into something inedible or gross-looking when left out at a party for a couple hours. You can also make it a day ahead, refrigerate, and it’s ready to go as soon as you are.

See our recent apple picking adventures here, and stay tuned for an apple crisp recipe coming soon. And for another easy fall recipe, be sure to check out my brown sugar kielbasa in the slow cooker! It’s perfect for Sundays spent watching the game with family and friends.

I’m signing off to get those darn wisdom teeth out tomorrow, so wish me luck and I’ll be back soon! XOXO

kid-friendly · Tips and Tricks

Apple Picking at Shelburne Farm

Happy Fall in New England! While I promise a few apple-centric recipes soon, for now I’m just going to share photos from our recent family trip to Shelburne Farm in Stow this past weekend.

We picked macouns, empires, mackintosh, cortlands and red delicious, and I’ve got lots of plans for them! This past Sunday was exactly the one and only day all three of us were free for a fall family activity, so we went all out and took a hay ride (or as Georgia called it “the hay choo-choo”), ate cinnamon donuts and drank mulled cider, sat in the pumpkin patch, and visited the petting zoo with Llamas, Alpacas, Donkeys, Sheep and Goats. (As we were leaving, Georgia kept waving “bye bye, animals! I love you!”)  
All in all it was a fun day, and last winter produced such a great crop of fruit this year that there’s plenty of time to get out there and get picking if you haven’t already!

  
If you do go to Shelburne, here are my tips. Get there before 11 a.m. or expect a mob; know that there are only porta-potties; plan on having some of their food for lunch, since they have an outdoor snack stand with picnic tables and a live band for entertainment; and bring extra cash for the pony rides, hay ride and corn maze. Oddly, there were a ton of people “tailgating” in the parking lot when we got there and when we were leaving, which I did not realize was a thing. (Have you done that? If so, explain! We didn’t get it).


The cowboy boots go everywhere. We found it to be noticeably cooler out west as compared to the city, so layers is probably a good idea. I love that there’s no admission fee here and a peck of apples (10 pounds) — more than enough for a small family to eat and bake with — costs just $20, with a full bushel only $28. Another farm we loved to visit last year, Lookout Farm, is right in the town where Mark and I grew up, and it’s another awesome choice for families, although much more expensive at $15 per person just for admission (and only kids under two are free!) They also have animals to pet, food, a playground area, and an adorable train that takes you to each part of the orchard. It was a great choice for a 14-month old who couldn’t really walk up and down the rows of trees just yet!

It also pays to have a really tall person in your apple-picking gang.



The refrain of the day was definitely Georgia’s new catch phrase: “My do it MYSELF!”

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Have a wonderful remainder of the week everyone, and stay tuned for two new apple recipes next week!

Blue Apron · News · Tips and Tricks

Finally! @BlueApron offers packaging return

Whenever someone asks me about the pros and cons of Blue Apron, I always tell them: it’s a cost effective, high quality, fun ingredient-delivery service to supplement your weekly meal planning, but it’s really hard to stomach all the packaging. They describe themselves as anti-waste because they only ship the exact amount of food you need for each meal, but with everything in its own box, bag or carton, it does feel as if you’re throwing away a lot of garbage as you cook. They’ve long had instructions on their website for breaking down and recycling the shipping and packing materials, but after trying all those suggested steps just once, I decided it was too labor-intensive and time-consuming for even a die-hard recycle-er. So I gave up, put the cardboard shipping box out with our paper goods on trash day, and threw away everything else. Until now!

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Enter the new Blue Apron package return system.

There are two options:you can still follow this guide to recycling the packaging at home, or you can send all the packing materials back to them at no charge for reuse and recycling on their end. This page has detailed instructions on how that second option works. We are definitely going to do this, especially since the shipping is covered by Blue Apron if you wait to send back two weeks worth of packing materials at a time. All you have to do is create a mailing label on their website.

It won’t solve the problem of how long it takes to clean all those little baggies properly for recycling, but it will take care of the worst offenders — the large freezer bag and jumbo reusable ice packs that I’ve had no choice but to thaw and discard up until now.

What do you think? Does this change your mind about Blue Apron? Read my initial thoughts on the service here, and check out a couple Blue Apron recipes here and hereAnd have a great week!