Monday, October 21, 2013

Quit Finger Sucking

I'm a sucker for a finger sucker.  I had two of them and loved it. Such content babies they were, sigh.  I also had a binky lover which you can read about here.  Enzo sucked his pointer and middle finger together.  Gabriel...the thumb. 

Enzo, caught in the act watching a movie with his friend. 
Although they were very good sleepers, and mostly pleasant children, my husband was anti-finger sucking.  You see, he is a dental hygienist. He knows too much to allow such behavior in his house. It was an embarrassment to our family name! 

However, I begged him to let it continue because it just made my life so much easier.  So, continue it did.  And there Enzo was.  Sitting in preschool... SUCKING HIS FINGERS! Ugh, so unsanitary for everyone involved. On the upside, his teeth were perfect, surprisingly enough. 

Gabriel, the THUMB sucker, wasn't so lucky. He was only 18 measly monthly old and his brand new teeth were already really buck! 
Gabriel at about 6 months.  Fun fact.  He wasn't born bald.
His dad buzzed off all his hair while mom was out! Oh the humanity.

Hubs was OVER it.  Oh, he allowed me to 'try' various methods. Bandaids. Tape.  I tried this peppery liquid you put on the finger and tastes bad.  Works great until they need to rub their eyes!  Bad news.   

One day, hubs came home from work with a gift from a patient. 
$2.97 at Hell-Mart, I mean Wal-Mart. 
It's just a nail polish.  It does not wash off in water like the pepper stuff.  It does not irritate and burn their eyes. It won't fall off like a Band-Aid or tape.  Once it's on, it's ON.  It DOES taste super gross. Yes. I tried it.  What kind of a mother do you think I am? Wanna know how it tastes? Try it and get back to me. 
Finally! We were in business.  The 5 year old and the 18 month old didn't know what hit them.  We did both kids all at once because we are insane.  Hey, misery loves company! And boy oh boy, were they miserable! It worked.
Here's what we did:
We applied it to the nails every 3 days at first.  They will cry and beg you to take it off.  The 5 year had every excuse in the book. 
"It makes my food taste yucky."   -Shouldn't be eating with your hands. You're 5.
"I don't wanna suck the fingers I just wanna put them in my mouth." -That's gross.
"I'm done with sucking, can you take it off now?" -Uh huh, sure.

It took about 3-4 weeks for the 5 year old to stop asking for it to be removed.  Once he stopped asking, we kept applying it every week for another month, because we are complete barbarians.  Hee hee.   The 2 year old adapted much quicker.  He was over it in about a week. Don't get me wrong. He hardly slept for that week, and neither did I. But then it was over.  Just like everything else.  You gotta stick it out.

The BEST part is that his teeth began straightening out immediately! I noticed a difference within 3-4 weeks.  About 3 months later they looked almost perfect. 

After they were done, we gifted the polish over to my sister and her 2 finger suckers quit too! Success all around!

Let me know how it goes for you guys!  Hope this helps.

Binky Be Gone

Of my three boys, 2 were finger suckers and one was a binky lovin' munchkin. He didn't walk around all day with it in his mouth.  BUT, he couldn't sleep without it.  So annoying.  I wasn't gonna complain.  The kid was sleeping like a champ. 

My husband was anti-binky, being the devout dental hygienist that he is.  He had a million and one reasons to get rid of that binky ASAP.  

Hubs had an awesome idea go to Build a Bear and put the binky inside the bear.  A friend told me she did that and it was all special and awesome. Until, her kid went to bed that night and attempted to rip the bear to shreds to get said binky back into her own mouth.  

Eh, I decided to try it anyway.  

Here we were at Build a Bear, building a bear:
Just look at his innocent, unknowing 2 year old eyes. 
I felt like an evil wicked witch. I even look like one in this picture. 
Cackling as I stir my cauldron. 

In short, it worked. 
He never tried to rip the bear open. It took 3 days of crying himself to sleep at night (and not napping in the day, ugh).  Seemed like a year and my heart broke for him.  And I hated my husband for putting me through hell.  BUT... after three days, I was able to get his sleeping schedule back on track and he was happy again. If your kid is older, it may longer.   

Listen, though...  

This is not about the bear at all. That's just to soften the blow. Once you decide to be done with the binky you gotta be hard core, man.  No woosing out. Once that binky goes into the bear, you need to clear out the house, purse, car, and couch of any binky that may exist.  You CANNOT keep a spare one 'just in case'.  I promise if you do, you WILL give in.  If you don't have one, it's way easier to let the kid get over it. And save tons o' money on orthodontics.

After's just a binky, right? 
(I know.  It totally blows. BUT it doesn't mean you can't do it!)

How did YOU quit the binky?
Comment below.
How to stop

Pumpkin Muffins, Gluten-Free!

Pumpkin Muffins! 
During the fall season enjoy this warm, sweet, gluten-free treat.
Yield: 12 muffins 
(but it made a little more for me)
2 Cups Gluten-Free flour mix
2/3 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Tbs Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Ginger
1/2 Cup melted Butter or margarine
1/2 Cup Pumpkin puree
1/3 Cup Buttermilk (*don't have any? see below)
2 Eggs

Preheat oven 400*
*Make buttermilk substitute if needed
Mix all dry ingredients well
Mix all wet ingredients
Mix it all together
Put in muffin tin with sprayed paper cups
Bake 15-20 min, until toothpick inserted is clean
Let cool 5 min. Enjoy!
* Buttermilk Substitute:
1 tsp Vinegar or Lemon juice & fill the rest with milk
Let stand 10 minutes.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

Pumpkin Mac & Cheese
(20 min)
I made this smooth, cheesy, savory, dinner tonight.
Perfect way to use all those pumpkins (if you puree your own) or a way to use the extra cans of pumpkin puree you bought for the holidays. 
1 lb macaroni
1/4 Cup butter
1/4 Cup Flour
2 Cup Milk
2 tsp Chicken Soup Base
1/4 tsp Pepper
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1 tsp Mustard (Dijon is nice)
1 Cup Pumpkin Puree
2 1/2 Cup Cheddar Cheese

Cook Pasta according to instructions on package
Melt butter in sauce pan, then add Soup Base & Nutmeg
Remove from heat and add Flour, mix well. 
Add Milk, Pepper, Mustard, Pumpkin, Cheese

Drain pasta and pour into the sauce. Stir it all up.

Roasted Broccoli and Brown Rice Pasta

Roasted Broccoli and Brown Rice Pasta
In 20 Minutes
(Gluten Free)
1 pound brown rice pasta
2 pounds frozen broccoli florets
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. dried oregano
4 Tbsp. olive oil
Pinch red pepper flakes
Parmesan cheese as topping
Turn the oven on to 400.  Cook the pasta as directed on the package.  Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray and lay out all the broccoli on it.  Doesn't matter if it's frozen solid.  Bake for 10 mins til kinda soft and completely not frozen.  Remove from oven, sprinkle 2 Tbs. olive oil on the broccoli, add salt and pepper and mix it around with spatula. Turn the oven up to broil, put broccoli back in until all the water is gone and the broccoli is slightly browned a crisp on the edges like in the picture.  Maybe 5-6 minutes.  Watch it doesn't burn. 
When pasta is cooked and drained, add 2 Tbs. olive oil, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, and salt/pepper right on top and stir it REALLY well. Throw broccoli in with the pasta and toss.  Add parmesan cheese (if you're a non-vegan). EAT!
*I get the brown rice pasta at Trader Joes for $1.99 a pound.  Besides regular pasta, which is my favorite, brown rice is the best.  I HATE whole wheat pasta because it has a strange taste and falls apart.  I've tried other pastas that just don't hold up.  Brown rice pasta has a great texture and works well in all my Italian dishes.  I stock up on it and use it all the time because I try to do gluten free for my allergies. 
*It will take longer than 20 mins (not much) but if you want it to be a fresher dish you can chop up 5 closed of garlic and sautee them in the olive oil instead of using garlic powder. 
*You can use fresh broccoli instead of frozen and roast it the same way.
*Add cauliflower, or chicken, or any other roasted veggie.



Friday, October 18, 2013

Grain Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
(That means Gluten Free, too. Yay!)
2/3 cup peanut butter
1 small ripe banana mashed up completely
1/2 cup white sugar
2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all ingredients together except the chocolate chips making sure there are NO lumps.  Add the chocolate chips.  The 'dough' looked more like a batter:

Scoop onto cookie sheet and bake for 10 mins. That's it.
I used the natural peanut butter that you have to stir, but I'm sure any peanut butter would work.  They came out crispy on the outside and gooey and melty on the inside.  Everything you could ask for in a cookie.
*This recipe was inspired by one I got from my friend here: flourless peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.  Thanks Pilar! They looked so good and not super UN-healthy, but of course I HAVE to mess with perfection.  I put 1/3 less peanut butter, added banana, put 1/2 the sugar, added cocoa powder and put 1/2 the chocolate chips then the original recipe.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Eliza's Meatballs (and Grandma's secret)

This recipe is derived from my 90 year old Sicilian grandmother in Brooklyn.  She says, "Do NOT use lean ground meat."  I... use lean ground meat.  So? I'm not a die hard meatballer. 

Sweet picture coming soon, promise!

BESIDES, this recipe ain't so much about the ingredients as it is about TECHNIQUE. So, make sure you read the instructions before you go all crazy mashing meat together.

Let's get meatBALLing, YO! 

1 pound ground beef
2 eggs beaten
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
3 heaping Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
3 heaping Tbsp bread crumb
1/2 cup water (and more as needed)
Heat up a batch of your favorite marinara sauce in a huge pot. (This is my recipe).  Heat the oven to 375.
Put beef, eggs, herbs, cheese, breadcrumb and water in a bowl and mix. Do NOT squeeze or mash or kneed the meat.  Use a fork and keep it light and fluffy and crumbly.  If you need to use a food processor to do the mixing you can't go wrong with that.  I use my hands. 
Here is Grandma's SECRET... Water.  Keep a bowl of water on the table and keep your hands wet when making each ball.  Make equal size tennis balls of meat for even cooking.  You have to 'pinch' any holes or cracks using extra water to glue them closed.  DO NOT squish the meat together all rough between your two beastly hands.  This is a gentle process.  We want to the balls to melt in your mouth.  Water is the key, but not TOO much or the balls will break apart too easily in the sauce.
Spray a large cookie sheet with  non-stick spray and lay your balls out on it.  They go in the hot oven for like 8 mins, then flip them over and cook for another 8 mins.  Then straight into the pot of marinara even if they aren't fully cooked through.  Doesn't matter.  My grandma just throws them raw into the pot.  I have had bad experiences with doing it her way.  I gotta get them started in the oven. 
Cook them in the sauce for like an hour on medium.  Remember to stir up the bottom so it won't burn.  Some balls will break during this process.  
Yeeer gonna love it!
*Grandma also broils up Italian sausage and throws it in the sauce.  It's outrageous.  
Don't forget to let me know how much you love it!