Archive for April, 2013

Great grandmother’s cookware

Great grandmother's cookware I’m intrigued by this aluminum pot that’s the perfect size for my youngest to hold in her arms. And yet, it’s not big enough for sauting or small enough for sauces. My aunt tells me this was my great grandmother’s prized pot for boiling potatoes.

 

Recently, my aunt has been sending me care packages of cookware from my grandmother’s kitchens. Included among the boxes was this pot. It looks to me like it was made to fit onto another part.

 

So I’m wondering, does anyone know what exactly this pot might have been used for–besides boiling potatoes? Right now, I’m just enjoying having something of my great grandmother’s to use in my own kitchen.

Screen Shot 2013-04-30 at 10.13.14 PM

Screen Shot 2013-04-30 at 10.12.29 PM

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Fancify Friday: Fruity fizzy drinks

Fruity drinksHere’s a quick way to add some ambiance to a family meal that you want to make a little special (and yes at my house it’s required that you say ambiance with a fake French accent–the worse it sounds, the better).

I have my kids cut up fruit into small pieces to put into water goblets. Add seltzer (or club soda) water and you’ve got a fancy, colorful drink.

I’ve found some kids are reluctant to try seltzer water (La Croix is my favorite). The sugarless, fizzy water is an acquired taste but it’s such a great replacement for soda it’s worth trying to get your kids to sample it.

 

How did I get my kids hooked on seltzer water? Well, I used to drink it all the time and my kids would ask for sips. At first they didn’t like it, but I kept drinking it. Fast forward several tries and my kids are regular seltzer drinkers.

 

If your kids tend to be especially picky, my suggestion is to mix half seltzer water with half juice. We’ve tried the half-half approach with apple, orange, lemonade, grape…and pretty much any other juice we might have on hand (tomato juice the big exception, of course).

 

Now, I haven’t mentioned the best part–once you’re kids have downed their drink they can eat the fruit. And the fruit will be “fizzified” (yes, it’s true we do make up words at our house). The carbonation in the drink works its way into the fruit giving it a bit of a bubble bite.

 

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Easy pepperoni pizza cake

This past weekend my parents were in town so of course we needed to make something fun in the kitchen. The idea? Pepperoni pizza cake. I hunted down some ideas online, like this pizza cake recipe from Serious Eats. For my version, I wanted to try to make it look a little more realistic.

 

The cake ended up being simple to make–and a crowd pleaser.

Pizza cake

 

Step #1: Bake a yellow cake mix in a 10″ spring form pan.

 

Step #2: Place the cake in the fridge to cool and to become firm. Use a serrated knife to trim off the top part of the cake. Make sure to leave the edge untouched to look like a pizza crust.

 

Step #3: Spread raspberry or strawberry jam over the inside of the cake, working out toward the edge of the cake, but leaving a 1″ crust.

Making pizza cake

Step #4: Sprinkle shredded coconut over the pizza to look like mozzarella cheese.

 Putting coconut on the pizza cake

Step #5: Create “pepperoni” from berry fruit leather. You can use a cup to make the pepperoni shape. We actually emptied a salt container to make our pepperoni.

Making pepperonis

Step #6: Serve your pizza cake in a pizza box.

Pizza cake in a box

Don’t forget the the Great Mother’s Day Giveaway is underway. Enter today for your chance to win!

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Mother’s Day Giveaway

Mother’s Day is around the corner (May 12th!)–have you done your shopping yet? Here’s a chance to win a whole host of prizes–enough to pass some along to your mom and still have some leftover for yourself.

 

I’ve joined in with several of my blogging friends to participate in The Great Mother’s Day Giveaway (thanks, Brette Sember for organizing this giveaway).

 

And now for the part you’ve all been waiting for–the prizes. Keep reading for a complete list and for details about how to enter.

 

THE PRIZES!

From PuttingItAllontheTable (The Organizer of This Great Giveaway):

muffin-tin-cookieOne signed copy of The Muffin Tin Cookbook: 200 Fast, Delicious Mini-Pies, Pasta Cups, Gourmet Pockets, Veggie Cakes, and More! by Brette Sember. Moms love muffin tin cooking because one cup equals one portion (no fooling yourself that you’ll have “just another bite”) and because kids automatically think anything made in a muffin cup is delicious and are willing to try new foods made this way.

One copy of Cookie: A Love Story: Fun Facts, Delicious Stories, Fascinating History, Tasty Recipes, and More by Brette Sember, a glorious celebration of America’s favorite treat, a gleeful look at its history, impact, meaning, and deliciousness, filled with mouth-watering anecdotes and stories that will satisfy in a way no other book can. Special recipes, anecdotes, and everything you ever wanted to know about cookies are in its pages.

From Project: Happily Ever After:project-happily-ever-after

One copy of Project: Happily Ever After, by Alisa Bowman, a memoir of how the author saved her marriage. Partly tragic and partly humorous, the book will help you feel normal, give you helpful tools to try at home, and leave you with a pervading sense that you are not alone.

From Christine Gross-Loh:

parenting-without-bordersOne signed copy of Parenting without Borders: Surprising Lessons Parents Around the World Can Teach Us, hitting shelves just in time for Mother’s Day. Parenting expert Christine Gross-Loh, a mother of four, takes readers on a multicultural tour of the world’s best parenting practices — from Finland, Sweden, and Germany to France, Japan, China, Italy, and beyond to examine how international parents successfully foster creativity, discipline, independence, resilience and academic excellence in their children.

Revealing the surprising ways in which culture shapes accepted practices, Gross-Loh offers objective, science-based insight into what strategies are best for children–and why–in a book that is sure to spark new conversations among parents. Ultimately, Parenting Without Borders is both a call to action and an international handbook on how to build our own global village–one that will raise all of our children well.

From Belle Jewelry Designs:

One Bead Kit and Pattern to Make Dainty Daisies Bracelet belle-jewelry-designsby Claudine Jalajas.  Every year my children give me flowers for the garden for Mother’s Day. It’s one of my favorite gifts. This bracelet reminds me of Mother’s Day for that reason.

This pattern and bead kit will provide you with everything you need to create this lovely bracelet. The design is created using a cross-weave technique which is great for anyone from never-touched-a-needle-and-thread-before to advanced weaver.

I’ve taught this design at several libraries in Suffolk County (on Long Island). Most people can create the bracelet in an hour. It is woven using 4mm and 6mm genuine Swarovski crystallized pearls for the flowers, TOHO seed beads for vines, and potato pearls to simulate leaves. The clasp is a lobster clasp. This design also makes a gorgeous anklet–just increase the size. Jalajas’s bracelet design book, Wearable Art,  featuring more than 25 bracelet designs, will be released Fall 2014 by Running Press.

 

From Attainable Sustainable:

attainable-sustainable-off-the-shelfOne copy of  Off the Shelf: Homemade alternatives to the condiments, toppings, and snacks you love from Kris Bordessa, who shares a collection of recipes that take your favorite condiments and pantry staples off the grocery store shelves and puts them right in your (very capable) hands.

Make hummus, pesto, fresh salsa, and a Caesar ranch dressing that will knock your socks off. Whip up a batch of hot fudge sauce or chocolate pudding to indulge your sweet tooth. If you can chop, dice, and stir, you (or your kids, mom!) can make any of these recipes and more right at home.

From MyKidsEatSquid:

my-kids-eat-squidOne $25 Gift Certificate for King Arthur Flour, from My KidsEatSquid.com, which offers cooking tips, tricks, and recipes to tempt your family’s taste buds.

Founded in 1790 (yes, you read that right), King Arthur Flour is a really cool business where baking and social responsibility go hand in hand.

 

From The Friendship Blog:

best-friends-foreverOne copy of Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup With Your Best Friend by psychologist Irene S. Levine. On a recent appearance on “CBS Sunday Morning,” Rita Braver called Irene the “Dear Abby of Friendship.”

Close friendships, which are essential to our well-being, can be challenged by motherhood. Having children often drains time and emotion from other relationships, and can create distance between mothers and child-free friends. Give yourself the gift of focusing on your female friendships this Mother’s Day.

 

From MyItchyTravelFeet:

65-things-to-do-when-you-retireOne copy of 65 Things to Do When You Retire: TRAVEL. A total of 10,000 people turn 65 each day–and many of them who retire want to make the most of travel opportunities. 65 Things to Do When You Retire: Travel offers practical, inspiring advice about how to have the time of your life, whether traveling with a group, with a spouse or partner, or on your own.

More than 65 intrepid writers and travel experts reveal their own personal adventures and describe glorious getaways for retirees, including such exciting travel opportunities as international house-sitting, going to Italy for a writing workshop, volunteering to help communities in developing countries, doing archaeological digs, taking a retirement “gap year,” and chucking it all to see the world.

 

From StickingMyNeckOut:

the-business-of-babyAn autographed hard cover copy of The Business of Baby, by Jennifer Margulis, an explosive new book uncovering how corporations and for-profit medicine harm new moms and their babies.

Award-winning midwife Ina May Gaskin calls the book, “a must-read for expectant mothers,” and Library Journal has said it’s “not just for parents to ponder.”

 

From ReelLifewithJane:

reel-life-moms-day-giveaway-2006 DVDs. Every mom needs a distraction from life, whether it’s Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts on a scooter, Edie Falco as a wayward nurse, Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman as old friends who might be parents, the classic boy from Neverland, Anna Wintour’s glitzy life, or America’s bully crisis.

That’s why Reel Life With Jane’s entry in The Great Mother’s Day Giveaway is a DVD/blu-ray six-pack extravaganza: “Larry Crowne,” “Nurse Jackie Season 4,” “The Switch,” “Peter Pan Diamond Edition,” “The September Issue,” and “Bully.” For more great giveaways, entertainment news, celebrity interviews and reviews, visit Reel Life With Jane and follow them on Twitter.

 

Rules:

  • One winner will win the ENTIRE package of prizes!
  • Enter by leaving a comment on this post.
  • For more chances to win, enter once at each blog listed in the giveaway below. One entry per person per blog.
  • You must enter by midnight ET on Sunday, May 12, 2013 (Mother’s Day).
  • Each blog participating in the giveaway will randomly select one semifinalist from those who have entered on that blog.  One winner will then be randomly selected from those names and will win ALL the prizes.
  • Offer limited to U.S. addresses only; entrants age 18 and up.
  • Winner will be notified by the email given when entering; not responsible for email transmission problems or postal delivery problems or failures.
  • You are responsible for notifying us of your correct mailing address if you are selected as a winner.
  • Contest closes at midnight Eastern Time on May 12, 2013. Prize is nontransferable and may not be redeemed for cash.
  • We reserve the right to announce the name of the winner on the blogs.

Each participating blog will be responsible for sending its own prize

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Chewiest oatmeal cookies–with these 5 easy tips

Oatmeal cookiesJust crisped on the outside, chewy on the inside–that’s what oatmeal cookies should taste like. After doing extensive research (grueling for my kids, as you might imagine), I’ve discovered a few easy tweaks you could use with your favorite oatmeal cookie recipe to make it even better.

 

Toss the raisins. Instead of your standard raisins that come in the little, red boxes, I like to use golden raisins or craisins to mix things up.

 

Soak ‘em. My tried-and-true oatmeal cookie recipe involves soaking the raisins for an hour in egg spiked with vanilla and almond extract. Once cooked, the raisins are plumped with flavor.

 

Toast the oatmeal. It takes a few extra minutes, but it gives the oatmeal a boost of nuttiness. I place the oatmeal in a nonstick pan at medium-high heat and stir them until they begin to just barely brown. Watch the oatmeal carefully so it doesn’t burn.

 

Add in coconut. I substitute some of the oatmeal in the recipe with coconut–instant chewy factor!

 

Shred the oatmeal. I pulse half of the oatmeal a few times in the blender. Sure, you want a few big pieces of oatmeal in your cookies but the shredded pieces blend more easily into the dough and make your final cookies less crumbly.

 

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Quick lunch tip: veggie cups

Veggie cups It’s that time of year–my kids (and I) are getting bored with their sack lunches. So I try to come up with fun ways to reinvent the same old ingredients.

 

For veggies, I squirt a little bit of ranch dressing into the bottom of a small plastic glass and then fill it with baby carrots and pea pods. I’ve found that shot glasses from the party store make the perfect fit. I wrap these up in aluminum foil so they don’t spill in their lunches.

 

This snack has quickly become one of my youngest daughter’s favorites. You could also put peanut butter in the bottom or cream cheese.

 

 

 

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Fancify Friday: egg roll bowls

Egg Roll rice bowl

My kids know that I like to “fancify” meals. I’m sure there’s some sort of French word for our made up one. The idea: to present your food in a fun way. Make it a little fancy. Our fancifying comes from different places: sometimes we try making something we ate at restaurant, sometimes it’s a creative way to get my kids to try something new. But this time, it was all about using up an ingredient I didn’t want to go bad in the fridge.

 

I made Asian Mex avocado egg rolls earlier this week so I still have a few wrappers on hand. So when I was making a stir fry the other day, I wanted a cool way to put the rice on the plate–enter the egg roll bowl. I found a recipe for mini morning quiches from Nasoya, which I still want to try, but I thought I could use the same technique. These bowls were so simple and fun to make my kids kept brainstorming during dinner other ways we could fill them. I’m thinking a dessert egg roll bowl would be good–wouldn’t it? Maybe a bananas foster egg roll bowl…

 

Recipe

Servings: As many as you want!

Prep time: 10 minutes + baking for 10

 

Ingredients:

Large egg roll wrappers (Nasoya wonton wrappers work well)

Fillings–let your kids decide

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spray the underside of your muffin pan with cooking oil.
  3. Working with one wrapper at a time, drape the egg roll over the inverted muffin cup to form a cup. For folds, I brushed a little water on the wrapper to help them stick together when baking.
  4. Bake for 5-8 minutes. Watch carefully! These bowls will burn easily.
  5. Gently pop the bowls off of the muffin pan.
  6. Enjoy!
And here's how my grade schooler served up apples recently

And here’s how my grade schooler served up apples recently…fancified

 

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Guajillo pistachio salsa

Guajillo and arbol chiles--you can see why getting the seeds out of a guajillo chile is so much easier

Guajillo and arbol chiles–you can see why getting the seeds out of a guajillo chile is so much easier

My tween has been on a pistachio kick lately. And I’ve been encouraging it. She shuns peanuts and peanut butter–a childhood staple for me. So if pistachios are the closest thing I can get her to like besides peanuts, I’ll take it. With all the extra pistachios around, I’ve been putting them in just about everything, spinach pesto last week and salsa now.

 

Recipe

Servings: 2- 2 1/2 cups

Prep time: 20 minutes

 

Ingredients:

7 guajillo chiles (dried)

1 small onion, cut into wedges

1/2 serrano pepper

1/2 clove garlic (or throw in the whole thing if you’re a garlic lover)

1/4 cup pistachios (roasted, shelled)

1 26-oz can whole tomatillos, drained (or 6-8 fresh tomatillos)

1 tbsp. fresh lime juice or white vinegar

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

Salt to taste

 

Directions:

  1. Cut the ends off of the guajillo chiles and remove as many of the seeds as possible. pistachios
  2. Bring a non-stick or cast-iron pan to medium-high heat. Place the chiles and onion wedges on the pan just until fragrant, about 2 minutes. You’ll notice that the chile skin becomes softer as it’s toasted. Watch the chiles carefully; they burn easily.
  3. Fill a large mixing bowl with hot water. Put the chiles and onion into the water while preparing the other ingredients (about 5 minutes).
  4. Cut the top off of the serrano chile and then cut it lengthwise. Carefully remove the seeds and ribs (you might want to wear gloves).
  5. In a blender, process the tomatillos, chiles, onion, cumin, lime juice, serrano, garlic, pistachios, and salt until smooth.

 

Plenty of uses beyond chip dipping:

  • Saute chicken with the salsa
  • Mix salsa and ranch dressing for salad
  • Make quesadillas with cheese and salsa tucked inside the flour tortillas

 

 

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Asian Mex avocado egg roll

Avocado spring rollsIn February, we went to New Year’s celebration at our favorite Chinese restaurant and I’ve had avocado egg rolls on the brain ever since. I wasn’t expecting to like warm avocado–let alone the green, creamy vegetable smeared into an egg roll wrapper, then fried. But hey, it was the special so we had to try them out. Avocado egg rolls rock!

 

For my version, I wanted to add in a dash of Mexican flavor–and spice. These egg rolls were easy to make and fried up beautifully.

 

Recipe

Servings: 12 egg rolls

Prep time: 30 minutes

 

Ingredients:

3 ripe avocados

1/2 white onion, diced small

1/3 cup red bell pepper, diced small (opt.)

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 serrano pepper, diced (opt.)

Salt to taste

12 egg roll wrappers

Oil for frying

 

Dipping sauce:

Juice from 1 orange

1 tablespoon vinegar (I used orange vinegar, you could use any light vinegar, like white)Avocado egg rolls with orange dipping sauce

1 tsp. agave syrup

1/2 serrano pepper sliced in rings

2 green onions, white and green parts sliced into rings

Pinch of salt

 

Directions:

  1. Mix together avocado, onion, serrano pepper, red pepper, cumin, garlic powder, and salt.
  2. Place about 1 1/2 tbsps. avocado mixture diagonally in the middle of one egg roll wrapper.
  3. Fold one corner of the egg roll toward the middle of the avocado mixture. Then fold the sides of the wrapper in toward the avocado mixture.
  4. Starting the place of your first corner fold, roll the egg roll toward the last end (dab that corner with water so the end sticks). You can follow the egg roll instructions here, too.
  5. Roll the remaining egg rolls.
  6. Fill a wok with about 1 1/2″ frying oil. Bring the oil to medium-high heat.
  7. Fry the egg rolls three at a time about 2-3 minutes a piece until golden.
  8. Drain on paper towels.
  9. To make the sauce: Whisk all of the sauce ingredients together.
  10. Serve hot.

Kids’ reactions: Big favorite with the teen. My youngest who has declared she “doesn’t like avocados” tried this recipe and liked it. She didn’t ask for seconds, but it’s a start. My tween tried a bit of her avocado egg roll and politely left the rest there.

 

 

 

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Quick & healthy chicken gyros

Chicken gyrosTraditional gyros require hours of time and special equipment. Anyone have a vertical broiler handy? Yeah, me neither. Instead, I fake it with chicken marinated in Greek dressing. The better the dressing you can find, the better your gyros–Matsos is my favorite. If I have time, I’ll also grill the chicken breasts whole. But if I need dinner in a hurry, I’ll cut them into thin strips for fast cooking on the stove top.

 

Recipe

Prep time: 30 minutes + marinating time

Servings: 4-6

 

Ingredients:Screen Shot 2013-04-03 at 10.05.54 PM

4 chicken breasts

1/2 cup Greek salad dressing

4-6 good pitas

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

feta cheese

1/2 fresh lemon

1 tomato, sliced in wedges

1/2 white onion, in slices

2 Tbsps. olive oil

Thinly sliced cucumbers (opt.)

 

Directions:

  1. Cut the chicken breasts into thin strips and marinate in the Greek dressing at least 30 minutes. (I usually put the chicken strips in the marinade in the morning so there’s one less step come dinner time.)
  2. In a large saute pan, bring the olive oil to medium-high heat. Add the chicken strips and cook through. Squeeze the juice from 1/2 a lemon at the end of cooking along with salt and pepper.
  3. In a small bowl stir together the Greek yogurt and garlic cloves. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. I also like to add in some cayenne pepper. Mr. Squid adds a little bit of extra Greek dressing too–I like to keep mine with just a garlic zing.
  4. Warm up the pita bread in the microwave or on a heated nonstick pan.
  5. Prepare each pita by slathering it with Greek yogurt dressing, then add chicken strips, 2 tomato wedges, a few onion slices, and a bit of feta cheese (and cucumbers if you’re using them).

Teen with gyro

 

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)