Archive | November, 2011

Healthy Meal Fast

29 Nov

The past couple days we have been busy with family in town and I am going to a MomTrends event tonight I wanted a quick and easy dinner.  While I was at Whole Foods I came across Mom Made Meals.  We got the cheesy Mac and Cheese.  I saw the peas in it and didn’t feel so bad.  When I read the ingredients I discovered that there are sweet potatoes and butternut squash in the ingredients as well.  I grabbed a couple of boxes for when it gets a little hectic over the Holidays and we need a quick and easy lunch or dinner.  It would be a great side to your left over turkey (if you are still have any) or with chicken tenders. The girls loved every bite.  I even tried it and really liked it.  I went to the Mom Made Meals website and saw the variety of meals, munchies’, and bites that I can’t wait to get for the girls.  Check out their website to see where you can Mom Made Meals in your neighborhood or to order them online.

   



iAll mages from Mom Made Meals.
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Popsicle Party to Kick off the Holiday Season

26 Nov

My girls and my husband love popsicles.  It could be freezing cold out and my girls will still ask for popsicles.  Last year for Christmas the girls and I got my husband the Zoku Quick Pop Maker from Williams- Sonoma.  It creates custom made popsicles right in front of you in minutes.  You can purchase a three pop maker and I just saw they have a single and duo pop maker now.  We use ours at a couple nights a week and even more in the summer.  It is fun watching my older daughter create her own flavors, sometimes combining multiple ingredients.  This year I saw they have come out with a Zoku Quick Pop Character Tool Kit .  I am going to have to get the girls the kit so we can attempt to make the adorable holiday popsicles.  They would be a perfect snack/ dessert for a little holiday play date. If you haven’t started shopping you should add these to your list.  They would make a great gift.  Also, check out other additions to your popsicle maker at Williams- Sonoma.

All images are from Williams- Sonoma

Happy Thanksgiving!

24 Nov

image

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Safe travels!

I Know Two Little Girls Who Swallowed a Pie…

22 Nov

I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a PieBoth of my girls love books.  We visit the Barnes & Noble in Tribeca at least once a week.  A few weeks ago I was on a mission for books for Thanksgiving and found I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie by Allison Jackson.   We have read it just about every night since we bought it.  The girls LOVE it and my older daughter even helps read it to my younger daughter.  Since we have been reading it so much and talking about Thanksgiving, we decided to make a pumpkin pie to share with some friends at a potluck.  I had most of the ingredients sitting around so I only had to pick up a few things.  The recipe below was very easy.  Unfortunately, my youngest was napping but it would have been so easy for her to help with.  While the pie was cooking we read I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie and I changed it to “I know two little girls who swallowed a pie” and my older daughter thought it was funny.  If you are looking for a last minute activity that you could share on Thanksgiving, definitely try this.

Tips before you start:

  • Measure out all the ingredients and set them up where your child will be preparing the pie.
  • Number the ingredients if you want your child to work on number identification and then have them count the ingredients you are using for the pie.
  • Make sure you encourage proper hand washing.
  • If you have more than one child helping, let them take turns putting in the ingredients and when whisking count to ten and then switch whiskers.

Recipe for a Perfect Pumpkin Pie (1 9 in Pie)

Nutritional Information: Amount Per Serving Calories: 379 | Total Fat: 14.3g | Cholesterol: 70mg

Ingredients

  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin (I used Libby’s Pumpkin)
  • 1 (14 ounce) can EAGLE BRAND® Sweetened Condensed Milk (I used Santini Organic Sweetened Condensed Milk)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt ( I didn’t measure salt, only put a little in our pie)
  • 1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust (I used Whole Foods brand in the freezer section)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Whisk pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, spices and salt in medium bowl until smooth. Pour into crust. Bake 15 minutes.
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking 35 to 40 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean. Cool. Garnish as desired. Store leftovers covered in refrigerator.
     

Other cute Thanksgiving books I found:

T Is for Turkey  10 Fat Turkeys

Gobble-Gobble: Don’t forget Thanksgiving

21 Nov

Christmas seems to start earlier and earlier every year.  I saw decorations set up in a store before Halloween, which seems way too early. I thought decorating for Christmas started the day after Thanksgiving.  I was in Pittsburgh over the weekend and they had the lighting of their tree and there were Santa’s and elves everywhere.  It looked like the North Pole.  I almost forgot that Thanksgiving is Thursday. I love Thanksgiving and don’t want my girls to skip over it so the next couple days leading up to it we will be talking about the meaning of Thanksgiving and preparing decorations and dishes for our Thanksgiving.

Today we started with a fun, easy, and edible Turkey Craft.  I did it with my older daughter while my younger daughter was napping. If my younger daughter had been awake I would have she would have needed hand over hand help.  I think it would have been too hard for her.  While we were working on the Turkey we talked about Thanksgiving and what we were thankful for.

Ingredients:

  • Head- 1 bite sized brownie
  • Eyes-2 purple skittles 
  • Beak- 1 candy corn
  • Gobbler- 1 strawberry fruit snack
  • Feet- 1 blueberry yogurt covered pretzel.  You can also use a chocolate covered pretzel or regular pretzel.
  • Body- 1 pear, you can also use an apple.
  • Feathers- 5 dum-dum lollipops, we used different flavors.
  • “Glue”- Smuckers Microwave topping Hot Fudge.
  • Wilton Sparkle Gel- Use any color, my daughter insisted on pink.
  • Child friendly Knife like Nuk Kiddy Cuttlery
*If your child has allergies, make sure you read labels.

How to put your Turkey together:

Put all ingredients on a plate.  Follow the instructions for heating Fudge topping.  Put it in a separate cup or bowl.  Start creating you Turkey.  I found it better to start with the head.  We used the Hot Fudge topping to “glue” the eyes, beak and gobbler on to the head.  My daughter needed help with the “gluing” because she wasn’t using enough to hold it on.  Once the head was together she put dots in the skittles for the eyeballs and drew a mouth. After the head was complete, we put it to the side while she stuck the dum-dums in the pear.  As she put them in she said what she was thankful for.  I gave her a few examples first.  Next, we “glued” the head to the pear by putting the hot fudge on the bottom of the brownie and she stuck it to the pear.  After the head was the body she put the fudge on the pretzel and put the pear on top.  When the turkey was complete I put it on a different plate and wrote “Happy Thanksgiving” with the pink gel icing.  It went into the fridge for a while to let the fudge thicken.  You can use your Turkey as a centerpiece for the table where the children will sit. Each child can have a dum-dum after dinner.  If there are more than 5 kids, use the number of dum-dums that will be at the table.

   

Cookie Craze

18 Nov

With the holidays quickly approaching, it is time for lots of cooking making.  As a little girl, I loved decorating cookies for the holidays but was never very good at the art aspect of decorating.  I got frustrated easily if my pumpkins face didn’t look perfect or that my bunny didn’t really look like a bunny. Recently, I stumbled across Progressive Cookie Cutters and Stencils and made an impulse buy.  If my girls get frustrated like I did you can easily pour sprinkle over the stencil.  I also thought the stencil part would be great for decorating pancakes in the morning or you can let your child use the cookie cutter to cut out their favorite shape pancake. If you don’t want to use the stencils you can let your child’s creativity and artistic ability run free.  I can’t wait for our cookie cutters to get here so the girls and I can start baking.  Check them out!

Image from ProgessiveItl

Goldfish in a Bowl

15 Nov

When I asked my older daughter what she wanted for dinner she told me she wanted “goldfish in a bowl”.  At first I told her no way, “goldfish in a bowl” isn’t dinner.  I had asked her earlier in the day so I had some time to think about how I could incorporate goldfish into her dinner.  I started thinking back to when I was a kid and one thing I loved to eat was tomato soup with goldfish.  My mom used to give us tomato soup and grilled cheese whenever we were sick or on a cold winter day.  So I decided that it would be something easy to do and the girls would enjoy.  They were so excited to have “fish” for dinner.  The LOVED it.

How to make it:

Tomato Soup (I used Whole Foods Roasted Tomato Basil), follow cooking instructions 

Pepperidge Farm Cheddar Goldfish made with Whole Grain (put as many in as you would like once the soup is in a bowl or cup, the girls had about 5)

Grilled Cheese (2 slices of italian bread, 2 pieces of American Cheese, slice of the outside of tomoato)

  • Butter slices of bread.  Add cheese.   Put bread together. This would be easy for your child to do on their own.
  • I used a nonstick pan, buttered first.  Put the sandwich on the pan.  Using a lid to a pot, I pressed down on the sandwich.  After about 1-2 min, I flipped it and repeated until cheese in middle was melted.
  • I cut the end of the tomato into a fish shape and used little pieces of cheese to make the eye and mouth.
Choose a veggie of choice to serve with it, if desired.  The girls snacked on some shortly before so we didn’t use any tonight.
Each had a cup of soup and 1/2 a grilled cheese sandwich.  There was nothing left when they were done. My oldest was asking for a “fish tomato” the rest of the night. Yummm!
  

Tissues, PJ’s, and SOUP

13 Nov

It’s that time of year again…cold and flu season.  Time for tissues, PJ’s and SOUP.  For the past two weeks, both girls have been fighting a bad cold.  One day they are feeling good, the next it’s back to runny noses and horrible coughs all night.  Just when you think they are getting better it’s back.  This weekend, my husband and the girls were all sick and now I feel it coming on.  What a better way to spend the weekend then to curl up on the couch to watch TV and movies and stay in PJ’s and sweat pants all day while making soup.

Last night, we decided to return to our Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Italian cookbook to make Italian Wedding soup.  We got a late start so my husband and daughter only made the chicken stock and we made the rest of the soup today.

Before you start, here are some tips to include your child in preparing the meal:

  • Let them help you chop veggies.  My daughter used her Nuk Kiddy Cutlery knife.  My husband chopped everything but gave her a few ingredients to “chop” on her own.
  • Let them put the ingredients in the pot.
  • Have them stir occasionally and set a timer to remind them to come back and check on the broth/ soup with you.
  • Let them grate the cheese or if they are too young, let them sprinkle the cheese on.
Helpful Hints:
  • Whenever doing a cooking activity, especially near a stove or when using a sharp object, make sure you are supervising your child.
  • My girls only ate the broth and meatballs. If you know your child doesn’t like certain textures take out the veggies from their bowl, leaving the broth and meatballs.
  • It takes a while so make the broth the day before or buy stock from your local grocery store.  We made both recipes while our younger daughter was sleeping.
There is nothing like a bowl of soup to help comfort you when you are sick.  If you try this, I hope you enjoy it as much as my family did.

Chicken Stock: Makes about 3 qt (3 l)  

Ingredients:

  • 5lb (2.5kg) chicken backs and necks
  • 1 leek, including about 6 inches (15 cm) of the green tops, coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 1 celery stock, coarsely chopped
  • 12 fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley stems
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig
  • 8-10 black pepper corns
Directions:
  1. In a stockpot, combine the chicken parts, leek, carrots, celery, parsley, thyme, and peppercorns.
  2. Add cold water to cover by 1 inch (2.5 cm).
  3. Place the pot over medium-high heat and slowly bringing almost to a boil.  Using a large spoon, skim off any scum and froth from the surface.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered, skimming the surface as needed and adding more water if necessary, to keep the ingredients immersed, until the meat has fallen of the bones and the stock is fragrant and flavorful, about 3 hours.
  4. Remove the heat and let stand until the liquid is almost room temperature, about 1 hour.
  5. Using a slotted spoon or skimmer, lift out large solids and discard.
  6. Pour stock through a large mesh sleeve into a storage container with a tight-fitting lid, and discard the solids from the sleeve.
  7. Let the stock cool at room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until fully chilled.  Using a spoon, lift off the congealed fat on top and discard.  Store the stock in the refrigerator (up to 5 days) or freezer (up to 2 months).
Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Italian by Michele Scicolone (Oxmoor House, 2007)
* This broth would also be great for a chicken noodle soup, just add cooked egg noodles, sauteed onion, celery and carrot, and a rotisserie chicken, adding salt and pepper to taste.
Wedding Soup RecipeWilliams-Sonoma Essentials of Italian by Michele Scicolone (Oxmoor House, 2007)
  

Imagination Kitchen

11 Nov

My girls love for the kitchen probably started with their play kitchen.  They are always mixing something in their play blender, stirring “soup” in their pot and coming up with amazing menu’s for our make believe dinner.  The one thing we lack in our kitchen is play food.  We have the little pieces like milk, ketchup and mustard that came with their kitchen and a few Melissa and Doug wooden food items.  The other day my cousin, Christine, sent me the link to MudPie Kids on Etsy, they make adorable, hand-made food.  My favorites are the Thanksgiving Turkey and the Picnic Basket food set.  I have been going crazy over what to get the girls for the holidays. MudPie Kids pretend food would make a great gift and a great addition to your child’s kitchen.  Check them out.

  

(All Images are from MudPie Kids )

Mama loves Mexican

9 Nov

I LOVE Mexican food!  It’s all I wanted to eat both times I was pregnant.  Whenever I have a sitter and want Mexican, I go to Mad Dog and Beans on Stone Street in the Financial District.   I always order their shrimp quesadilla.  It is delicious.  Yesterday I had a craving for it and decided it would be fun to have the girls make shrimp quesadillas for mommy and daddy.  We made our own version with spinach (what a perfect way to hide veggies).  Before the girls got started, I prepared all the ingredients and set them up for the girls.  Once it was prepared and I let them create their own quesadilla, adding however much cheese, spinach, and shrimp they wanted.  Maddie, 3, loved it but Pela, 19 months, wasn’t feeling good so she let Maddie make hers. When she was done creating she watched me cook them on our panini press.  Pela picked out the shrimp and ate the rest. Maddie ate most of hers.  She was so proud of her creation and that she made dinner for Mommy and Daddy. See how we did it below images.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb uncooked shrimp, peeled and devained
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Cilantro (about 1/4 cup)
  • Salt and Pepper (to your liking, I didn’t use much salt)
  • Cayenne Pepper (to your liking)
  • Chile Powder (to your liking)
  • 1 Lime (cut and use juice )
  • 1 block mild cheddar (used about 3 cups, shredded)
  • 1 block pepper jack (used about 1 cup shredded)
  • 1 package tortillas (I used Maria and Ricardo’s FiberRich Whole Wheat Tortilla: Fajita size)
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • Guacamole
  • Salsa
Directions:
Adult Preparation:
  1. Cook Shrimp: In a large skillet, heat olive oil, add shrimp, salt, pepper, chile powder, cayenne, cilantro, and lime juice.  Cook all the way through.  Once cooked pull off tails and cut into small pieces.
  2. Meanwhile shred cheese (this can also be done earlier in the day as a fun activity for older children).  You can also buy bags of shredded cheese but my girls like to snack on pieces of cheese through out the day so I get a block and shred it myself.
  3. Put cheese in small bowls for each child.
  4. Fill a small bowl with spinach
  5. Put 1 tortilla on plate with about 2 shrimp cut into little pieces for kid size portion.  Use 2 tortilla and about 4-5 shrimp for adult portion.
Kids Preparation:
  1. Tell the kids what they are making.  Make sure they wash their hands good before touching food.  Let them wear an apron to “pretend” they are a chef.
  2. Put all the ingredients (cheese, spinach, shrimp, and tortillas) on table or counter.  I used their small table because there wasn’t enough room in our kitchen.
  3. Let the kids put as much on as they want.
  4. Once finished creating have the kids bring their quesadilla to you, pull up a chair or step stool, and let them watch it cook.
Use a Panini press/grill or quesadilla maker to melt cheese in the middle.  Make sure you use PAM, butter, or oil to keep the quesadilla from sticking.
Melt cheese completely.  Serve with guacamole and salsa.