January 12, 2018

How To Cook "Around" Little Ones




Happy Friday!

I wanted to start a new monthly series on here, where I share a few of our family’s favorite things. This month’s favorite is all about food and everything surrounding it. Food is our favorite thing to give and receive from others. It brings us together, creates memories, and carries on traditions.

Friends and family inform me that their all-time favorite dish that I make (umm...actually, my personal-chef the crock-pot makes) is our chicken-tortilla soup. It's tasty, hearty, and yes, I'm being prideful again when I say, it is absolutely yummy. (That crock-pot thing can be our little secret!)



I like to think of cooking (or crock-potting) with a teething/crawling/walking baby or toddler is like conducting a one-women show. You’re entertaining and attending to a lot of different things, while trying to produce a hot and tasty meal.  At least this is what it's like for me in the kitchen until Steve comes home. Whether your choice of meal prep is a crock-pot, stove-top, oven, or microwave, hopefully the ideas listed below help get you back to enjoying the art of cooking (or crock-potting) again!



Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe

What You Will Need:
3-4 chicken breasts
2 cans of black beans
2 cans of petite diced tomatoes
1 can of tomato sauce
1 can of tomato paste
1 can of corn
1 Tbsp. of tomato paste
2 Tbsp. of Better-than-Chicken bouillon (this is our secret ingredient!)

Toppings (Optional, Though Strongly Encouraged):
Avocado
Cilantro
Tortilla chips

What To Do:
1) Place chicken breast in the bottom of the crock-pot.
2) Drain all canned foods.
3) Pour all canned food and ingredients listed above over the chicken in your crock-pot.
4) Cover and cook on low for 4-8 hours depending on your desired time frame for that day.
5) Serve chicken tortilla soup in individual bowls with desired toppings.



Tips for Cooking with Babies & Toddlers:

Mama Cooking Tip 1: Place your little one in a playpen with toys they only see during this part of the day. They will start to expect what’s happening and look forward to seeing these special toys.

Mama Cooking Tip 2: Pots, pans, spoons, bowls, and Tupperware are all purposely positioned on the lower-level inside drawers and cabinets so that Abby can "cook" with me. This method has worked for months! Even as a toddler at 19 months, she will still play with these things while going back and forth from those cabinets to her own little play-kitchen we upgraded for her.



Mama Cooking Tip 3: Give them a bowl or taste of what you have. Food is all about sensory play for little ones, so I love encouraging it with Abby! For some recipes, this can be challenging. So I often hand Abby a piece of a red pepper, cucumber, cheese, basil, or piece of bread just to let her touch what I'm touching and see what she's smelling. It's a great opportunity to be a part of the cooking process, without actually "being" part of the cooking process!



Mama Cooking Tip 4: Toddler? Tell your little one exactly what you're doing! They really want to learn about nearly everything you're doing. I have found that 9 out of 10 times that Abby is frustrated it’s because she's trying to see, do, ask, or touch something that’s out of her reach. Explaining as you go along again, helps them feel like they are "cooking" with you.

Mom Cooking Tip 5: Is your little one crawling or walking? I was gifted a Minnie-Mouse walker from a friend and decided I would place Abby in that thing for the 15-20 minutes each night just so I could cook. Safely.

Mom Cooking Tip 6: KISS: Keep. It Simple. Sally. Yup, any recipe I'm looking at has to line up with this saying. I don’t cook dishes that take longer than 30-50 minutes. Why? Because there's only so much I can do Monday through Friday when I'm cooking solo. Anything longer than that is too much for me to take on with a little one close by. And you know what? I'm ok with that! It's a great problem to have. 

Hosting Tip: If you have zero time to prep or cook for a meal, but need to feed 4 to 6 people (in-laws visiting?) this is a great one! Just be sure to add a few green toppings like the avocado and cilantro so the dish appears fancier, more appealing, and honestly, more flavorful. I've also made this recipe for "the newborn family meal train" at church and on snow days. (It's extra tasty on a snow day, p.s.!)

For those of you with two little ones, what are your tips? I would love to hear them below! 

Happy crock-potting!

XO, Steph

























2 comments:

  1. That soup looks great and sounds like an awesome option for a cold, rainy night after a busy day. Thanks for sharing!

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    Replies
    1. Oh enjoy! Also, I just want you to know I only share recipes if they are worth sharing. This one is a favorite in our own household too!

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