Homemade Apple Sauce, 2 Ways.

I do my best to prepare recipes that will work for my entire family. That is a tall order, since my 2-year-old currently eats like, well, a 2-year-old. He prefers grilled cheese and chicken nuggets to everything and actually tells me he doesn't like green food. How has he possibly already learned that?! Green is his favorite color!

I haven't been shy about my love of preparing large portions of recipes and freezing them (like most recently with these sweet potato muffins and these breakfast burritos) because when I find something that works, I want it in bulk. These boys of mine eat so much. One super simple autumn recipe that can be adapted a zillion ways is homemade apple sauce. I know, you're probably rolling your eyes like "duh!", but seriously - do you make your own apple sauce? Because you should! It's ridiculously easy and tastes so authentic when made at home. It can easily be stored and frozen, then defrosted or reheated. Plus, when it's served hot, it's an indulgent treat for this lady.

OXO Tot sent over a few products for me to try out with my apple sauce recipes -  the food masher and glass baby food blocks (awesome for stashing in the fridge or freezer, with no BPA!) and the feeding spoon set. They were super useful, not just in prepping the apple sauce quickly but for storage purposes, too. My method with apple sauce is prepping and cooking the apples, then dividing into two batches and seasoning each slightly different depending on who will be eating it in my family. I make my 2-year-old Everett a basic version of apple sauce, keeping the recipe free of added sugars but with lots of cinnamon (his favorite seasoning.) And I make myself and my husband a spiced version, with caramelized onions and nutmeg and allspice, served heated over pork or chicken. Yum. Apple sauce is a win for everyone in this family!

A Few Notes:
You can prepare these two recipes side by side in two large stockpots so to easily prep and cook both recipes at the same time.
2. I don't bother with peeling the apples, because once they cook down I don't think the skins are any kind of nuisance. I prefer my apple sauce with some texture. How you like them apples?
3. I use any and every type of apple - not picky over here. Each time the flavor is a little different, based on the type of apples used!

Apple Sauce for Toddlers                                            
- 4-6 apples, diced                                                        
- 1 cup water                                                                 
- juice of 1 lemon                                                           
- 1 tsp. cinnamon                                                           
Spiced Apple Sauce for Adults:
- 2-4 apples, diced 
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 1 cup water
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 tsp. each: allspice, nutmeg & cinnamon
- a dash of cloves

1. Combine all the ingredients in a large stockpot and cook over medium heat for 25 minutes.

2. Using the OXO food masher, mash the softened/cooked apples to desired consistency. I like my apple sauce a little chunky, but I mash it up extra good for Everett to enjoy.

3. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator or freezer and serve as needed.

Apple Sauce10.jpg

Honestly, I would have to make, like, a quadruple batch to actually have enough to freeze, because we go through this stuff so fast. But the OXO glass baby food blocks are awesome because they are made of borosilicate glass, which is thermal shock resistant. This means they can go directly from the freezer to the oven or microwave, and there's no need to wait until the apple sauce is fully defrosted before heating it up. Which is what I like to do with it. HOT APPLES, YOU GUYS. There's nothing quite like it. :) One more thing to note - if you like your apple sauce really smooth, then you could always throw the hot apple mixture from the stockpot directly into a blender. But using the food masher is a really quick and less messy way to achieve apple sauce when your little ones are pulling on you for a fast snack.

Other fun uses for apple sauce:
- serve heated over ice cream (yes please. Please.)
- to replace eggs in baked goods
- served atop french toast/pancakes
- in oatmeal, to naturally sweeten

How do you make your apple sauce? Any wild ingredients I should try to mix things up a bit? Let me know if you try out these recipes, because I would love to hear what you think!

P.S. - Other apple recipes that I obsess over - my roasted pumpkin & apple butter, this blueberry-apple baked oatmeal, and this apple & spinach green juice.

Many thanks to OXO Tot for sending me free products to include in this post. All opinions expressed are my own. And many thanks to you for reading and supporting brands that continue to make this blog possible!

6 On-the-Go Items for Toddlers.

We've been traveling for the last month or so, and I am so grateful that we have Everett along for this stint in New York. We missed him so much when we were in London! And I'm extra extra grateful that my sis-in-law Lauren and dear friend Vanessa flew in for the weekend to join us on some NYC escapades - they brought that little piece of home that we were so desperately missing. I have lottttttts of city fun to share with you, but I want to touch on HOW to adventure in the city with a toddler. I am so grateful that OXO Tot sent us some travel gear that makes getting out and about with toddlers a whole lot easier. I wanted to share about our experiences snacking, playing and sort of potty training (??) while on the go.

Getting out on the town with kiddos is no joke - it requires extra planning, thinking through each scenario, prepping additional snacks (or as Everett asks for, "treats!") and packing a few extra clothes and gear "just in case". All you parents know what I'm talking about. But I just feel so strongly about getting out and having adventures, without letting the daunting potential challenges of traveling with kids hold us back. Toddler travel can definitely bring on the unexpected, but I just feel really grateful for the opportunities my family has had together. New York City is my favorite city in the world, and I would never want to withhold Everett from experiencing the crazy bizarre wonder that is New York. Bring on the skyscrapers, crowds, and of course, treats! (Along with hand sanitizer and stroller naps please.)

As you can see, our first stop of the day was the most important - Shake Shack on the Upper West Side. Nothing like an 11am cheeseburger and a shake to really get the day started right. I love stroller hooks in general, but this one from OXO is super large - it's gripped and could easily handle the weight of a huge shopping bag. Which means I should do some more shopping :)

This one cracks me up, because Everett literally carried it around with him the whole time he was out of the stroller, calling it his present. "See Mom, see? My present!" He loved it. And you know what? I've tried out several of these diaper pouch contraptions over the years, and this one is by far the most compact and easy to use. No lie. Which means it's kind of like a present to me, too. We kept pulling out wipes on this particular day, obviously to change diapers, but to wipe off dirty hands (Everett touches everythingggggg) and it was super convenient to be able to hang it from the stroller and easily access those wipes whenever we needed.

A word on potty training. We aren't actually pushing it yet. But - my kid is SO INTERESTED. And perhaps this is TMI but he wants to flush the toilet for me like, every time I go, and he sits on the potty and home and pretends to wipe and flushes for himself. It's the cutest. So I think we might be getting close to that time where we actually try to train him. I just want to be sensitive to the fact that he's a boy and they usually train a little later. But when we pulled out this on-the-go potty, he flipped. He loved it so so much. Please imagine my child in Central Park yelling "I did it!!!" as he pretended to go on this potty. Well, you don't have to imagine it, because we photographed the whole hilarious scenario. I know this potty will come in handy in the coming months as we begin to train him to use it on the go :) P.S. it includes some really cool liners, so it never feels like you're touching something gross. Just a little extra bonus for those of us moms who get grossed out easily (anyone else raising their hands here?)

Everett's most-asked for snack is bunnies (Annie's Cheddar Bunnies, for those of you who know what I'm talking about). This little snack cup is perfect for his bunnies because he can reach in and grab some, but not too many at a time. And there's a plastic cap included, which keeps the germs at bay (and my peace of mind intact!)

We have been trying to move out of the sippy cup world, but when we're out and about there is no way I am letting my kid have a regular cup in his stroller. Spills everywhere! This is a unique cup that adapts as the child grows - from a 3-month old all the way to a big kid. There are a few attachments that change it up, and it can ultimately operate as a regular, lid-less cup. But for us, we are rocking the sippy cup situation during our travels. Makes life simpler, and spill-free.

Thankfully, we haven't had to use this handy little kit yet because all of our gear is still relatively unscathed by our city explorations. But this is a nifty little 3-piece set that allows you to clean the straws, lids and other hard-to-reach parts of the snack and cup set that the dishwasher just can't quite diminish. I have a feeling that this will be coming in handy very soon...

There he is, the man (and photographer :) of my dreams.

There he is, the man (and photographer :) of my dreams.

OXO Tot is one of those brands that most moms undoubtedly have in their arsenal of baby gear without even realizing it. Over the years, we've used these snack containers on the daily, so it was nice to have an upgrade that is really more age-appropriate for Everett. This is just one of those "no, duh!" kind of brands - the products perform beautifully and function exactly as they should every time. So instead of changing multiple outfits while out and being loaded down with unnecessary gear, we are able to focus on our adventure of the day! Which in this case was a Shake Shack picnic in Central Park, a visit to the Met (with an impromptu stop at the rooftop bar - and a mocktail for this pregnant mommy) and service at our old church, Hillsong. I'll share more pics from this wonderful day oh so soon :) I still have more London fun to share, too!

The post is brought to you by Activate by Bloglovin and its advertiser OXO Tot. All opinions are mine alone.