Weekend cooking

After a series of random events that made it impossible to cook…like having to package or toss out all my food due to tenting for termites…time to get back to normal cooking.

I struggle with Dahlia because she’s not down with mixed textures. Either it has to be all pureed or it has to be a solid chunk (like dry meatballs). So I’ve gone back to pureeing a lot of things, but at least they’re super flavorful so she’s not stuck eating something like a single pureed sweet potato.

Here’s what I made and my review:

Lemon Chicken Casserole: this was so meh to me. I made it to bring to an Easter dinner (since I don’t eat ham). My husband however liked it. I think it would have been better to make a lemon sauce, rather than to smush lemons in the casserole like i’m some caveman casserole molester.

Kung Pao Cauliflower: in my attempt to eat more anti-cancer foods, I found this recipe. I forgot why I never cook f*cking cauliflower, despite liking the taste. It takes frickin’ forever to cook. And it’s like the food version of unpacking styrofoam. Next time I would just use bagged frozen cauliflower. And i didn’t add the pepper flakes in, figuring I might puree it for Dahlia (as an adult, they’re a necessity…it wasn’t flavorful enough for me otherwise). A good recipe though if you want a meatless meal.

Feta and Parm Zucchini Bake: I was shopping at Target for a bunch of food but discovered that Target doesn’t sell feta.  Insert me cursing in the middle of Target. Anyhoo, thanks to the Internets, I discovered the #1 replacement for feta is ricotta. It turned out pretty good, despite taking forever to cook that much zucchini (the little medallions kept sticking together, causing only a few to cook). Definitely a good go-to if you need a side dish. It pureed easily for Dahlia and she ate it up.

Zucchini and Chicken Bake: ugh, awful. Skip any recipe that asks for canned chicken.



Official Autism Diagnosis

Yesterday morning. Lacking the hand coordination to put a hat on. Or just wanted to look thug.

Yesterday morning. Lacking the hand coordination to put a hat on. Or just wanted to look thug.

It’s funny how much has changed since Spring 2012.

Recap from the past: Dean met most of the criteria for autism, but the neurologist suggested we get some genetic testing done. After the 15q13.3 microduplication result, it seemed that that was the end of things. That was our diagnosis.

Well it’s really hard to get services or have anyone really help you when you have something that is super ultra obscure. After much discussion, my husband and I figured that maybe revisiting this autism thing would be a good idea. It’s not the scarlet letter it once was and we couldn’t really think of anything that would cause doors to be closed on our son relative to all the doors it could open.

So yesterday I went to a different neurologist, who scoped out Dean and made it very clear: yes, he has high-functioning autism. It’s not “you have 15q13.3 microduplication or autism”. It’s “the 15q13.3 microduplication is the cause of the autism”.

And with that, he filed for more physical, speech, and occupational therapy (how we’re going to accomplish all of that i’m not sure, what with the lack of a nanny now and this thing I have called “a full time job”). We also now qualify for ABA (Behavioral Therapy), which is required to be covered by law with an autism diagnosis. He reminded me of my son’s low tone and “hypermobility” (the opposite of someone with cerebral palsy. Dean is so flexible according to the doctor, he’s double-jointed and could easily pop his arm or leg out of its socket). I did learn that not having a left or right hand dominance is another trait of autism. Go figure.

The neurologist also said he would review the transitional IEP when i have that meeting in May. A transitional IEP is the special needs contract that happens when you go from one state to another; in our case, from preschool to transitional kindergarten.

(Transitional kindergarten = the hippie grade when your kid is born between Sept and Dec of a school year and they determine your kid is too young for regular kindergarten).

If this had been 3 years ago, I would have been hysterical. Yesterday it was like *shrug*, thanks for the ammo that I need to take to the school for the next IEP meeting.

A friend of mine, 3 years ago, told me that that was the hardest stage. She was absolutely right. When you’re first going down the spiral hell of medical tests and developmental evaluations, it’s so overwhelming you’re not sure if you can ever breathe. Years later, it’s just another series of curveballs life throws your way. Or maybe it’s just as challenging but you’re a stronger parent and won’t crumble as easily.

So there it is: my son is autistic. And today, thankfully, I can handle it.

New favorite site

I’m a stickler for product reviews. I don’t care how cool and flashy something is, aesthetics mean nothing if there’s little function behind it (exception given to shoes). My entire life might as well be sponsored by Consumer Reports.

I came across the The Sweet Home‘s website, and I’m in heaven. It’s the poor man’s Consumer Reports, and more importantly, it’s free.

Their focus is homewares, which is great because I have a home. It’s a win-win.

On a random note, I’m thinking about deprecating this blog. Now that my kids are getting older there’s not a whole lot for me to babble about in terms of products and life as a new mom.

Baking weekend

Trader Joe's, great. The customers: need a good punch in the face.

Trader Joe’s: great. These customers: need a good punch in the face.

Holiday weekends means more cooking for Dahlia. Although I went easy and made stuff that I would eat too. What did I discover? Dahlia doesn’t like sweet foods. She’s a savory girl at heart. So while most of these were delicious, she didn’t care for them.

Zucchini Bread: now this isn’t something all that revolutionary, I just wanted to finally make a recipe and keep it instead of searching online every time I need to make this. I didn’t want one with a cup of oil in it. We fed this to Dean years ago at my parents’ house and called it Optimus Prime cake. Since then though it’s been hit or miss whether he’ll eat it (I also don’t make it that often because grating zucchini is a pain, even with a food processor). This recipe is a good go-to staple though.

Carrot Cake Cookies: my attempt to sneak in carrots into both kids diets. Dean however wanted nothing to do with them because he could see the chunks of carrots. He’ll eat carrots, one of the few vegetables he’ll consume, but with his low muscle tone his mouth fatigues after eating 2 small baby carrots. It’s a great recipe, tasted good to me.

Banana Bread: I love me some good banana bread. Hate bananas…love banana bread. This one doesn’t call for any oil (just 2 tablespoons of melted butter). I doubled the recipe but kept just the 2tbsp of butter and it worked out great. I made one with chocolate chips and one without. Of course Dahlia didn’t care for it, we’ll see if Dean will give it a whirl. This is my new go-to recipe for banana bread.

Carrot, zucchini and parsnip frittata fingers: I used scallions instead of shallots because i had those on hand and pureed the veggies after cookies them to make them easier for Dahlia to eat. Girl loves eggs and cheese so these went well, although she wouldn’t feed them herself.

This weekend I went nuts at Trader Joe’s, a shop that I loathe going to not because of the store itself but because of the customers who shop there. I seriously f*cking hate Trader Joe’s customer base, but I wanted to branch out with some different cuisines for Dahlia without having to constantly whip up things from scratch. Plus I get turned off pretty easily by anything that has quinoa in it, so I figured I might as well let the good hippie food experts at TJs make it for me. They have faux street signs hanging off posts saying things like “Beach” or “Sea” or “Mission Viejo”, one guy started telling his wife/girlfriend/tortured-partner “that shouldn’t read ‘mission vee-ay-ho’, it should say ‘mission vee-ay-HAA'”. I’m pretty sure my eye roll was audible.

I fed Dahlia their Spelt Risotto and she inhaled it. I couldn’t find it in a search, I’ll update when I get home to remember the name. They don’t mess around when it comes to their sides, she also loves their creamy polenta with spinach and carrots.

On the other hand, on a whim I bought a f*cking overpriced bag of seasoned kale chips, figuring again that TJs would make anything better than I could make. I was wrong. Because what I would make is a bag of Ruffles. I actually got Dean to try one before I had a chance, now the poor kid will never trust me again. You have no idea how hard it is to get him to try new things. It was AWFUL. F*CK YOU KALE CHIPS. Anyone who ever tells me “ohhh kale chips are soooooooooo gooooood” will get my fist in their teeth.

Adventures in toddler cooking

Because a Superbowl weekend post deserves a Superbowl Shark image.

Because a Superbowl weekend post deserves a Superbowl Shark image.

I think I will forever be in awe of Dahlia’s eating habits.

Last week in the time it took Dean to eat 1 chicken nugget (approximately 30 minutes with much nagging on my part) she ate 2 nuggets on her own, her entire baby puree dinner, and a crap ton of crackers. I actually need to start being careful, because after she’s done dinner I tend to throw her random snacks to keep her entertained while I take another 45 minutes to get Dean to finish eating.

With Dean, since I never progressed beyond making homemade baby purees, I never learned the art of making toddler/kid’s food. I make the odd thing like zucchini bread but not your transitional finger foods. Not only was I renting a ghetto house with zero kitchen space, plus I was burnt out from making purees for way longer than most people should, but it was just such a waste…hours of prepping/cooking only to have him cry and reject it. He was doing so much therapy and i needed to have food available for that, so it became much more economical and practical to just keep things like pre-packaged meatballs or pizza bites in the therapy place.

Additionally, I’ve pretty much given up on cooking for my husband and I. I’m SO OVER Lean Cuisine. That damn kitchen in that ghetto house, ugh. I had enough prep space to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And since moving to our current house, all of my efforts have gone into trying to get Dean to eat that I end up scrambling to make myself toast for dinner (my husband isn’t home for dinner M-F).

Time to change now that Dahlia’s eating like a real person. This weekend I made french toast for breakfast. She inhaled it. I think I’ve made french toast once in the past 5 years, which was probably in an attempt to get Dean to eat it (which most likely failed, then I just stopped making it).

This weekend I went balls-in making a bunch of toddler recipes, thanks to Pinterest.

Iron-Rich Toddler Meatballs: these were so-so. Dahlia ate them, but they were pretty bland.

Sweet Coconut Butternut Squash Soup: holy crap, this was amazing. SO good. Not really a “toddler food” since it’s soup, I would have introduced this months ago if I had found it sooner. I doubled the cumin and skipped the shaved coconut. Oh and I just dumped all the ingredients in, instead of following the instructions that divided everything up (and it worked fine). Last time I made butternut squash soup I vowed never to make it again because cutting butternut squash is a bitch, but it was worth it. And really, I should have used my head and just bought frozen pre-cut squash anyway.

Sweet Potato and Kale Balls: Ugh, no. Just no. The kale was dry and the whole thing was just meh. Dahlia spit them out. And i don’t blame her.

More veggie-filled meatballs: this was a total win. I substituted spinach for the kale i had leftover from the above recipe. I processed the kale and the green pepper beforehand to make them teenie for biting later. Very very flavorful. Dahlia hasn’t tried them yet but worst case, my husband will eat them. I didn’t make the marinara sauce since I just wanted them to be stuff for her to try to eat on her own.

Sweet potato chickpea patties: I really, really was excited for these but they turned out to be a fail. I think mostly on my part though. In my former cooking years, I generally cooked things that were low-fat, so I’m not an expert on frying things. They just fell apart. Eventually I was like “f*ck this” and just popped it all in a casserole dish, figuring it would be like an Indian potato casserole. It definitely needed the fat though and the dipping sauce. Dahlia wasn’t keen on it until I randomly mashed it up with some creamy cottage cheese. So…if you’re a pro at frying,this would be great.

In a weird way I get kind of emotional cooking for Dahlia. As a mother you’re taught that your job is to feed and nourish your child, right from the moment they’re born and they smush their faces into your boobs. Because I stopped cooking food from scratch for Dean, I stopped taking it personally if he rejected anything I made. Now that I’m making things fresh for Dahlia, I try not to have any expectations of her liking them. There’s definitely a wave of happiness that goes over me to see her actually open her mouth for more servings of something that I made.

I’m probably boring any readers to tears over my gushing about how easy it is to feed a child without Sensory Processing Disorder (also Selective Eating Disorder). Last night I got lazy and opened a can of lower-sodium turkey chili, microwaved, she ate some.