Six Months

Lyanna,

You have two teeth! You are just growing and growing. That’s because you are eating solid foods now. They aren’t really solid. They used to be solid and your Daddy and I ground them up so much that they turned into mush. You love sweet potatoes and avocados. Sweet peas and apples… not as much.

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We celebrated my first mother’s day together. Thank you. I had a wonderful day and your Daddy spoiled me with lots of yummy food too. You are my daughter…

Your Gigi and Grandy came to visit and we had an awesome day out in the yard. The following weekend we went to the beer festival. Last year I hid that I was pregnant and PRETENDED to drink lots of beer only to surprise everyone at the end of the night by sharing with everyone that I was pregnant.

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You also have taken an interest in your puppies. Gatsby is a good boy isn’t he? And it’s funny when Belle sniffs your butt. Just don’t pull on their ears too hard. You are a happy girl and you make me smile every day. I can’t help but kiss your soft chunky cheeks.

Speaking of cheeks, that is what your babysitter Jessica calls you. You are a hit at the Hutter house so I am told. She also tells me the kids call you Lee Lee. Aren’t you just so cute in every way?

I love you,

Fallon-4

Homemade Baby Food

The Plan

While I was pregnant I would lie awake at odd hours of the night just totally awake. I figured this was preparation for night feedings. HA! That’s another story. However, during these times awake I would research everything pregnancy related. I don’t recommend doing this, there is some scary stuff out there. However I found a few good things and one of them was making homemade baby food. I decided I wanted was to try this with Lyanna.

I received the book The Amazing Make Ahead Baby Food Book, a silicone ice cube tray, and small food storage containers from a co-worker for my baby shower. With my Ninja blender and my trusty pressure cooker with a steaming rack I was all set!

The premise of the book is that in three hours you can make three months of baby food. With Lyanna present in our lives for 5 months at the time, I knew we wouldn’t have three hours to set aside. Instead we tackled our project one month at a time.

The Execution

Matt and I got to work preparing the fruits and vegetables we would introduce to Lyanna in her first month of eating solids.

While I peeled and cut the fruits and veggies, Matt steamed and blended them. Once a smooth consistency was reached we poured the blend into the ice cube trays and let them cool on the counter. The mush was piping hot but after its temperature dropped we placed the entire mold in a large ziplock bag and left it in the freezer to set. A few hours later we had baby food ice cubes, and lots of them! It was very simple and it was a project we enjoyed doing together.

The Results

Lyanna’s first food after oatmeal was sweet potatoes. I still remember the look on her face when she had her first taste. She seemed confused at first but then it seemed as though she realized ‘hmm this is pretty good.’ I tried all the flavors too. Some where delicious, some were pretty good, I’d eat them all.

Homemade Baby Food | North Loves South

The book provided a calendar which scheduled Lyanna to eat each food three to four times before introducing a new food. After sweet potatoes she tried sweet peas. The first day she did not want any part of them. I even tried mixing them with her oatmeal. She somehow sucked away the oatmeal and spit out the pea part. The next day she actually ate some. On the third day she ate all of her sweet peas! Next up, bananas! She loved them. She had a little previous experience with bananas because her grandpa gave her a little taste one day when mom and dad weren’t home. Let the spoiling begin!

Bananas are definitely her favorite. She went on to try butternut squash, apples, avocados, and carrots. She didn’t really like apples which surprised me because I love apples but she really enjoyed avocados which also surprised me because they seem like more of an adult flavor. My Mom couldn’t believe she didn’t like apples so while we visited New York she asked if Lyanna could try a jar of applesauce. She got her a jar of sweet potatoes just in case. To my secret joy, she didn’t like either. Mommy makes the best food I guess. 🙂

Besides my own lame confidence boosting, it just goes to show that Lyanna is her own person, and just because I like or do not like something doesn’t mean she will feel the same way. I will try my best to remember this, and give her the opportunity to make her own opinions on flavors without me putting my likes or dislikes in her head.

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We have really enjoyed introducing her to new foods. The Amazing Make Ahead Baby Food Book has been great because it widend our vegetable choices. For example, I would not have even tried sweet peas with Lyanna, and forget about parsnips. I love the calendar too because sometimes when you have a billion things going through your head you jut need someone else to tell you what to do. ‘What are we feeding her today?’ ‘Uhhh… cherries!’ We have some good stuff in the future. Mangos and pears, yum. Kale is on deck too. I can’t lie, I’m skeptical about that one but I’ll let her decide!

Homemade Baby Food | North Loves South

Until next time,

Fallon-2

Four Months

Lyanna,

In this time Daddy finished his paternity leave. He was so sad because he loved his time with you. Aunt Dee watched you for two weeks and you started napping like a champ. Gigi watched you for one week and you rolled over for the first time.

When you popped up you had such a big smile on your face. Always be proud of yourself. You are AMAZING! You traveled to New York and were an awesome travel companion.

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I love you,

Fallon-4

Three Months

Lyanna,

You love your play mat and you started laughing. You are a beautiful little girl. Mommy’s maternity leave ended and your night sleep is getting better. Daddy started paternity leave and you gave him a run for his money. Thank you.

Don’t make it too easy on him or he will think I’m totally crazy. You like the bath and you love to eat. We don’t have to hold you 24/7 and you are sleeping in your own room now.

I love you,

Fallon-4

Two Months

Lyanna,

You have grown so much. So much that I couldn’t keep up with you. After several sleepless nights for us both, your Daddy and I called the doctor. We vented and he laughed. He told us, the problem was simple.

You were hungry! Give you more food! You started on formula and things got a lot better for us all. Simply put, we learned a lot this month. You made sure of that.

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I love you,

Mommy

One Month

Lyanna,

You were born at 1:45 AM on December 8th, 2016. We took you home on December 10th. You whole family drove and waited for HOURS to see you. Your Daddy was by my side the entire time helping to deliver you. You were so rosy pink, and had a lot of dark hair. Just an absolute beauty.

Your Gigi, Aunt Bre, and Uncle Jeremy were there to help Mommy and Daddy during your first few days home. I was so tired so thank goodness for their help. The first night out of the hospital was the scariest! We realized, ‘Wait, who is going to watch her all night?’ I woke up to check on you way too many times!

In this month you had your first bath, first smile, first christmas, and you met your family.

I love you,

Fallon-4

Creamy Lemon Chicken Soup

Babylon Panthers

At the beginning of 7th grade, I changed school districts. I remember when I was given the tour of my new school I thought, ‘They have the ugliest school colors! Orange and black? Why?’

I went to a school in a small town named Babylon. The town was so small that the junior high and senior high shared the same building. It was quite intimidating as a shorter than most seventh grader to share the hallways with senior football players.

I spent many years in that building and grew to love the sense of community and pride! We were so proud of our small school, and I was proud to be a Babylon Panther!

My sister and brother both worked their way through Babylon, and now it’s my youngest sister, Rori’s turn. I love to listen to her talk about her teachers, and what is going on in the community. It’s nice to hear the familiar teacher’s names. I always ask her what she thinks of them, and she speaks of them fondly, just as I remember them.

Rori is a Babylon Panther through and through. She is proud of her school and her school colors. So it was fitting that she bought me an orange and black Le Creuset French oven as a gift, especially as orange is my favorite color, go figure…

This pot has been dying to be christened. I thought a soup would be a good start! I figured I would just throw together some ingredients I had lying around and would see how it went. That’s how I make most of my soups. This one however, came out blog worthy! It’s a Creamy Lemon Chicken Soup with shallots, kale, and whole wheat pearl couscous. I made a pot that could serve six people but Matt and I ate it all in one day. We were in soup heaven! This recipe is simple, delicious and I will be making it time and time again!

Thank you Rori, for the wonderful gift! Go Babylon! 

Serves 6


Ingredients

  • 4 Chicken Thighs
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp. Butter
  • 1 Shallot, chopped
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Pepper
  • 1 tsp. Dried Marjoram
  • 1 tsp. Dried Oregano
  • 6 cups Chicken Stock
  • 1 Tbsp. Honey
  • 1 Tbsp. Lemon Zest
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 cup Whole Wheat Israeli Pearl Couscous
  • 2 cups Kale, stems removed and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley, chopped

Heat the olive oil, and butter  in a dutch oven or heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add the shallot, onion, and garlic, and saute until the onions become translucent. Add the salt, pepper, marjoram, and oregano. Toast the spices for a minute or two.

Slide the contents of the pot to the side and add the chicken thighs skin side down. Cook for three minutes without moving to sear the under side.

Add the chicken broth, honey, and lemon zest and stir to combine the ingredients. Cover the pot with a lid and allow the soup to simmer for 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes, remove the chicken. Peel off the skin and discard. With two forks, shred the chicken into bite side strips. Return the chicken to the pot and add the heavy cream, and couscous. Cook for another 10 to  minutes until the couscous is tender.

Add the kale and blanch just until they begin to wilt but the leaves are still a little crunchy. Stir in the parsley and serve in a large bowl. I know you are going to enjoy this Creamy Lemon Chicken Soup as much as Matt and I did! 😀

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Apple Rose Pastries Inspired by a Bike Ride in New York City

Citi Bikers…

This Thanksgiving we traveled to New York to visit my family. When Matt and I visit Long Island, we usually like to take a trip to the city.  The city can really put me in the holiday spirit! I love the cool air that becomes filled with the smell of smokey sweet chestnuts.  The streets are filled with busy people carrying large shopping bags. The decorations, bright lights, and of course the enormously massive Christmas tree can make even the biggest Scrooge feel a little anticipation for the season ahead.

Usually, when Matt and I propose a trip to the city, we can assemble a large group to go. My brother and sisters, dad, stepmom, and step dad usually are down for the excursion. My mom, on the other hand,… she’s not a big fan.  She doesn’t like the crowds and I can’t blame her.  It can get annoying, especially for someone who has a smaller frame.

Even though I grew up in New York, and have made many trips to the city, every time I go there I experience something new and exciting. This time when I threw the idea out there, not many people of the usual crowd wanted to come. I was a little surprised! 😦 Just when I thought the city idea was a wash my step dad, Mike told Matt and I he wanted to come and not only that, but my mom would come too! I was very surprised by this! 😀

We decided that we would visit the 9/11 Memorial and then eat lunch in Little Italy. I was glad we had a plan. It’s never good to explore the city without some idea of what you want to do, otherwise you’ll find yourself wandering Times Square, and getting swindled by a guy in an Elmo suit.

When we arrived at the Freedom Tower and the 9/11 Memorial, we were floored, and just about brought to tears by the magnitude, beauty, and gravity of it all. If you have not seen this memorial, I truly believe that it is worth the trip. The memorial is somber, and devastating. It literally represents the big hole that has been torn into the fabric of the city, and metaphorically in the hearts of all the people who lost loved ones that day. This memorial pays respectful homage to the people who lost their lives that day, due to a senseless act of terror.

After leaving the memorial, we visited the Winter Garden Atrium in the Financial District. The Winter Garden Atrium is a ten story high, glassed in dome, that houses a variety of plants, trees, flowers, and shops. It is beautiful, and awesome. Cascading down the middle of the atrium is a spectacular marble staircase that Mike actually helped build when he used to lay marble. He has spoke about this stair case before but I never realized how ginormous and impressive it was.  I could see why he was proud to be apart of that project.

The Winter Garden Atrium by Michael Halupa | North Loves SouthWe were beginning to get hungry and I knew were we had to go next, Mulberry Street in Little Italy! We were an hour walk from the restaurant I wanted to go to. That was about 40 minutes too long. We were about to hail a cab when two women rode by on Citibikes. They stopped near us so we approached them and asked them a few questions about the process. They told us the bikes were free to borrow as long as they were returned within a half hour.

Hail a cab, or ride bikes for free? We chose the free bikes. It would be so much fun to ride bikes in the city. We found a Citi Bike terminal, and made sure there was another terminal within a half hour bike ride, that was also near the restaurant. We found one really close to the end of Mulberry Street we wanted to be on. We read the directions and it said on the screen ride free for thirty minutes. We were pumped! It asked us to swipe our credit card, but we thought it was charging us for a deposit, or just in case we went over the thirty minutes. It spoke to how it would release the funds back to us if the bikes we returned, otherwise the fine would be heavy.  Since we didn’t plan on stealing the bikes, or even using them any longer than a half hour we decided to do it!

We arrived at Little Italy with plenty of time left on our bikes.  Our first stop, La Mela. Our meal began with olive oil and fresh warm bread. The olive oil was so smooth, and silky. There was no bitterness to it at all. Perfection! Next we were served large plates of tortellini in a robust marinara sauce, creamy penne alla vodka, and thick slices of mozzarella cheese with ripe red tomatoes. My stomach was full but I couldn’t stop eating. The sauce was so good I wanted to drink it. That wouldn’t have been classy, so I asked for more bread to sop the sauce up with. Good thing we rode bikes…

Despite having to be rolled out of the restaurant, I had to check out this cute Italian bakery up the road. I fully intended on just walking in and taking a few deep breaths of the wonderful smells emanating from the kitchen, but let’s be realistic, my will power is not that strong. There were cookies, mini cakes and cheesecakes, cannolis, and other tasty looking treats.  One in particular caught my eye, and it was a beautiful apple pastry.  They looked like a snow-covered rose, and smelled like homemade apple pie.

I knew I had to try to make these as soon as I got home.  We had a fabulous time in the city that day and spent quality time together visiting new site, old projects, and eating a ton of delicious food! I really couldn’t ask for anything more.

A few days later, I received a call from my mom. She told me how she was charged $40 for the Citi Bikes. It turns out that in order to use them, you have to purchase a day pass. This day pass allows you as many 30 minute free bike rides as you can fit in 24 hours. Hmm, that doesn’t sounds like free to me. We felt a little mislead… If you pay $10 for a 24 hour pass, then even the thirty minute rides are not free. If you plan on riding bikes all day in the city then I recommend taking advantage of the program because it is a fun experience, just don’t be fooled by the “free” word.

Inspired after leaving New York, I visited the local Harris Teeter and collected a bunch of ingredients to try to recreate those amazing apple pastries. I don’t know how the Apple Rose Pastries were made in Little Italy, but I will explain to you how I did it. The process was simple and fun. The results were FANTASTIC! Here is the recipe, and I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

Apple Rose Pastries | North Loves South

Makes 6


Ingredients:

The Pastry:

  • 1 Sheet of Puff Pastry (I used Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry)
  • 3 Rome Apples
  • 2 Tbsp. Butter
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/4 Sliced Almonds
  • 3 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
  • 2 Tbsp. Powdered Sugar

The Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup Raspberry Preserves
  • 3 Tbsp. Water

If you are using frozen puff pastry as I did, a half hour before you would like to make the Apple Rose Pastries, remove the sheet from the freezer, place it on a clean cutting board, and cover it with a slightly damp paper towel.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Core the apples, and cut them into quarters. Using a mandolin, slice the apple quarters into thin slices.

In a large sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the apples, 2 Tbsp. of the brown sugar, and 1 tsp. of the cinnamon. Saute the apples until they become tender and more flexible.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the rest of the brown sugar, the granulated sugar, the rest of the cinnamon, and the nutmeg, as well as the sliced almond.

Unfold the puff pastry sheet and sprinkle both sides of it with a pinch of all-purpose flour. Roll out the sheet just a little bit. Cut the puff pastry across its width into six, two-inch pieces. Spread a heaping spoonful of the sugar spice almond mixture down the center of each puff pastry strip. Next, layer the apple slices across the strip so that the overlap, as shown below.

Fold the puff pastry strip in half like a taco, and roll it up.

Place each pastry in a well-greased standard sized muffin tin and bake for 15 minutes.

When the pastries are done baking, the puff pastry will be golden brown and the apples will be sizzling. Remove them from the oven and run a butter knife around the edge of each pastry to prevent it from sticking. Using a fork, carefully pop each pastry out of the muffin tin and place them on a rack to cool for 15 minutes. in the mean time, combine the raspberry preserves, and water in a small sauce pan over low heat. Whisk to combine. When the glaze begins to simmer, remove the pan from the heat. Spoon the glaze over the tops of the Apple Rose Pastries, and dust them with powdered sugar. You are going to want to eat all 6 of them on your own, but in the spirit of the holiday season, try to share! Enjoy!

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Winter Garden Salad

They weren’t pole beans?

So I have found that it is much easier to keep mammals alive than plants. Who would think that a green leafy thing that naturally grows outside in the dirt would be so fragile and stubborn.

This summer I decided to grow sweet potatoes. Boy these plants were kicking butt. They were lush and thriving! One day Matt and I had left the house, but when we came back I noticed my mother-in-law, Andy, set up an awesome tripod tower for them to grow up. I had never planted sweet potatoes before so I didn’t know how viney they could get. I had no idea they were supposed to grow up a tower so I was grateful Andy got one for us.

The sweet potato vines enveloped the tower and looked like they were loving life out in the garden. They had grown all the way to the top and had become taller than me. In early September, Matt and I took a trip to Fincastle for my cousins wedding and Andy agreed to babysit our chickens. When we came home the first thing I did was walk into the back yard to check on the ladies. That was when I noticed something was missing. “Where did the sweet potato tower go!?” I ran over to the garden and there was no trace of the vines left. I started digging in the dirt and began pulling out small palm sized sweet potatoes. ‘What happened here?’ I thought. They weren’t ready to be harvested!

Andy came to visit later that day and the first thing Matt and I asked was, “What happened to the sweet potato tower?” Andy had no idea what we were talking about. It turns out that she thought they were pole beans not sweet potatoes the whole time! That explains the tower. When she came by and didn’t see any beans on the plant she pulled it out because it was past pole bean harvest time. She felt pretty bad, but it was actually a pretty funny situation. We all had a good laugh!

A few days later Andy rolled up with a truck full of spinach, kale, mustard greens, butter lettuce, rainbow chard, and Brussels sprouts to plant. She went to work and got her hands dirty setting up a beautiful winter garden. Something I never knew existed as a New Yorker who has seen a few harsh northern winters.

Now, each morning I walk outside in the chilly air and harvest eggs and a bunch of kale, mustard greens, butter lettuce, chard, and spinach. I have been using these ingredients to make a delicious and healthy Winter Garden Salad for lunch. Thank you Andy for the beautiful garden and the awesome lunches.

This Winter Garden Salad is a flavorful and filling lunch. It’s sweet, tangy, and crunchy. It also has a surprising kick! I am going to say something obvious but it is a fact that I did not know before I ate this salad. Mustard greens are spicy! The first day I tried the salad I thought I had bitten into a pepper corn from the salad dressing. The spice is mild and short lived but it was surprising. I really enjoy the kick! So boil a few eggs, grab a few greens and make your own winter salad!

Serves 4


Ingredients:

  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 cup Spinach, chopped
  • 1 cup Kale, chopped
  • 1 cup Butter Lettuce,chopped
  • 1/2 cup Rainbow Chard, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Mustard Greens, chopped
  • 10 Brussels Sprouts, sliced thin
  • 1 cup Dried Fruit (cranberries, cherries, strawberries)
  • 1/3 cup Hulled Unsalted Sun Flower Seeds
  • Oil and Vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper

Bring a small pot of water to boil. Using a slotted spoon carefully submerge the eggs in the pot. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot with a lid. Let the eggs boil for 10 minutes.

When the eggs are ready, strain the water and cover them with a handful or two of ice and cold water.  After a few minutes they will be cool enough to remove the shell. Slice the eggs.

Get your lettuce ready by chopping it with a really sharp knife into bite size pieces. I prefer to chop lettuce with a knife instead of tearing it because I like the clean edges. Using a knife does not cause the lettuce to brown any faster than tearing it by hand. When you prepare the Brussels sprouts, slice them from head to stem.

In a salad bowl, combine the greens, and Brussels sprouts. Sprinkle with the dried fruit and sunflower seeds. Toss the salad in some oil and vinegar or your favorite salad dressing and season with a dash of salt and pepper. Top off the salad with the egg slices, and enjoy!


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