Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Organo Gold Coffee Connoisseur Club: "Free Coffee for a Year" Contest

I was lucky enough a couple of weeks ago to receive this coffee sampler in the mail.  It came from the Organo Gold Coffee Connoisseur Club!  It is basically a coffee of the month club. It's an exclusive membership club for retail consumers of Organo Gold products.  They offer premium coffees and  organic teas.  In my coffee sampler were three different coffee samples.  

I really enjoyed the taste of all these coffees.  None of them were to strong for my liking, but best of all it doesn't give me an acid stomach like other coffees have in the past.  What I found out about this coffee which made me more intrigued by it was the use of  Ganoderma extract, a medicinal mushroom. It's a natural product that some say offers a range of health benefits that ranges from relieving joint pain to helping with anxiety and depression.  I found that it gave me much needed energy throughout the day without the normal caffeine buzz.  I never thought I would be drinking instant coffee, but it is good.  What more can I say?
Well, I do have one more thing to say, in celebration of this new retail channel, OG is inviting all consumers to become connoisseurs through its free coffee for a year sweepstakes-"Coffee 365"-via the Organo Gold Official Facebook page, http://on.fb.me/1gFBjDJ.  It's so easy to enter!  All you have to do is simply visit the official Organo Gold Facebook page and enter how many cups of coffee you drink in a typical day.  The contest runs through November 30, 2013, so you better do it quickly! First prize is a one-year supply of Organo Gold Coffee (2 boxes per month), second and third prizes are a $200 usd gift certificate for OG products available at coffeeconnoisseurclub.com

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Blender Banana Bread

   My girls always want me to buy bananas, but it just seems in these summer months they go brown pretty quick.  So when my bananas go brown, what do I do?  That's right make banana bread.  I love banana bread...warm and toasted, with butter! I had pinned a recipe for Banana Bread a couple years back and I have referred to it often.  But one of the problems with Pinterest that I have found is sometimes you get the message "the page you are looking for no longer exists.  That's what happened to me today. When I went to find my recipe on Pinterest, it was gone!!!
    Luckily I was able to figure it out from some other recipes I had.  I am blogging about it, so I can share it with you because it's super easy and so good!
    Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
In A Blender:
    Place: 1 stick of butter
             2 eggs
             1 cup sugar
             3 cut bananas
             and 1 tsp. vanilla.
    Blend together.  You will likely have to stop it and push down the ingredients several times so that it blends well.

In a Separate Bowl:
Mix together: 2 cups of flour
                     1/4 tsp. salt
                     1/2 tsp. baking soda

Pour into the blender and blend well.

If you want chopped pecans in the bread, then this is the time to add them. Add about 1/2 cup of chopped pecans and stir with a spatula throughout...don;t blend or you won't have nut chunks.  Pour your mixture into two greased small loaf pans or one larger bread pan.  Place in a 350 degree oven and bake for 50 minutes to an hour.  Just check it and it is done when you can stick a toothpick in it and it comes out clean...or when the top starts to slightly darken.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Mama Trimblini's Spaghetti

I was excited when I saw that the next country to be covered in the Kids' Culinary Passport was Italy. I love Italian food and I knew that this would have to be a two-parter in terms of what I was going to have Lily cook with me. I decided to introduce her to my mother's famous "Mama Trimblini's Spaghetti."  My mother wasn't much of a cook.  Her motto was always stick to 5 ingredient recipes if you could.  She was probably the original Sandra Lee Semi-homemade.  My mother always made this spaghetti for me when I was growing up and I just wanted Lily to learn about it since her grandmother isn't alive to teach her.  I felt this would be one way she could have some connection to my mother.

To make the Spaghetti Sauce is quite simple. You use Lawry's Spaghetti Sauce Seasoning Packet, 2 1/4 cups of water, 1 tbs. unsalted butter, and 1 (6 oz.) can of tomato paste.  My mom would add in 1 pound of ground beef, but we use ground turkey and 2 cups of sliced mushrooms.

First, brown the ground beef or ground turkey.

Next, in a 2-quart saucepan, combine the water, tomato paste, butter, and seasoning packet.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Once it comes to a boil, add the ground turkey and mushrooms.  Reduce heat to low and simmer covered, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes.

One of my favorite things about making this spaghetti sauce when I was younger, was getting a loaf of fresh crusty French bread and tearing a little piece off  and putting a little butter on it and dipping it into the sauce while it simmered.  I honestly think I could just eat it that way without the actual spaghetti.

And of course you can not forget the garlic bread!

On Sunday, I am going to teach Lily another Italian favorite..Eggplant Parmesan.  This is my own version of a Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade type recipe. Then she will get to add the Italy stamp to her passport.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Homemade Sushi

Ever since we started working on the Kids Culinary Passport together, I knew when we did get to Japan I definitely wanted to try my hand at making sushi with Lily. So this morning, we all went over to the Japanese Market, Mitsuwa in Irvine to pick up everything we would need.  A friend of mine has invited us over in the past and made handrolls for us and I always wanted to make them at home and today we did.  I was a little timid about making sushi.  I thought it would be really hard.  It's actually not hard at all, there is just a lot of preparation that goes into it. I used the Japanese Home Cooking Cookbook by Shunsake Fukushima to get the basic idea of how to make sushi and then my husband and my daughter Lily just used our imagination to think of what we could put as the filling.

Lily placed the bamboo placemat on the butcher block cutting board. She then placed a nori sheet on to it--rough side facing up.
We made special sushi rice by making a special sushi vinegar.  We placed 1/2 cup of rice vinegar and 1 tsp. of salt into a small saucepan over low heat and stirred it until the salt dissolved. Then we added 1 tbs. of sugar and 1 tsp. of mirin and continued to stir briskly until the sugar was dissolved.  It is important not to let the mixture boil and to remove the saucepan from the heat when it is too hot to touch.  Then after we put the hot rice in a bowl we added the sushi vinegar slowly to the rice and distributed it evenly with a rice paddle. We let it sit and cool to room temperature before we preceded to the next step.
My husband spread the rice over the nori sheet , being careful not to rip it, until the sheet was 3/4 covered with a thin layer of rice.

Lily and her Daddy wet their hands while putting the rice onto the nori, so it wouldn't stick to their hands but to the seaweed instead.

Next we added our fillings. This roll had tuna, salmon, avocado, cucumber, and carrots.

Tim gripped the sushi as he rolled it and squeezed it gently to form a tight tube. He tucked the mat gently but firmly around the roll until it was complete and secure.

Then he cut the sushi into pieces with a sharp knife.

Beautiful Sushi

My kids enjoyed their wannabe onigiri rolls with edamame.

After our delicious Japanese meal, Lily finally got to add the Japan "stamp" to her passport!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Splash! Target Practice

It was another hot one today and I decided to pick another activity to try out from the ebook , Camp Mom! Summer Activities Pack.  I had just gotten done cleaning out my pantry last week.  Ella doesn't eat any of the little baby cereals anymore, so I threw out the contents and kept the containers for this game I had seen in the ebook.  I went ahead and set up the containers along with some plastic cups in a pyramid formation . We filled up a bucket of water and loaded the Super Soaker and then it was time for target practice to begin.

Both girls took turns...

But in the end we found a Splash Ball  was easier to throw.Lily would saturate it  in water and throw it at the target. She had an easier time with that. At this age I think the Super Soaker is too hard to manage. The kids loved running up and blasting the cans they missed at point blank range.  This was an excellent activity to build hand-eye coordination and cool off at the same time.

Money Subtraction

Lily loves playing dramatic play activities. And all I can say is even though at times there may be a little more prep work to get it started, especially when we played "Post Office," it sure beats playing Barbies any day!  Since Lily was born, I  have been receiving daily activities from a website called Productive Parenting.  I signed up to receive one new activity suggestion a day based on my child's birth date. I have a whole email folder filled with activity suggestions since she was a newborn.  I finally decided to peruse some of their suggestions and I found this idea of how to teach Lily about  real life subtraction by using real money and incorporating it into a real scenario. I started by collecting little toys and goodies around the house.  Then I made price tags for all of the items. 

I gave her 20 pennies and asked Lily to come into my store and choose a toy to "buy." She would pick a toy and I would ask her to count out how many pennies she owed me.  For example, if Lily chose to buy the microphone for 16 cents then she would need to count out 16 pennies for me. I then had her count the remaining pennies she had and then we would make an oral subtraction problem out of it. Lily had 20 pennies and she bought a microphone for 16 cents. How many pennies does she have left? 20-16 = 4.  Then I would ask Lily if there was enough money left to buy any of the remaining toys.  She had 4 cents left , so she purchased the spider ring for 3 cents. 4-3 =1. And then Lily spent her last penny on the bat ring. 1-1=0.  Once she ran out of money, it was Mom's turn to shop at the store.

Lily made sure that as we continued to play the game that we chose different objects to purchase.  She wasn't a fan of the fact that whenever we had 4 cents left we ended up always buying the spider and bat rings.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Next Stop...Japan

Daigku Imo

Japan was our next stop for the Kids' Culinary Passport. And we decided to try something we haven't made before Daigku Imo aka Carmelized Sweet Potatoes. Carmelized Sweet Potatoes is a Japanese dessert that is delicious served hot or cold.
 I found the recipe in the book , Cooking Around the World: Japanese by Masaki Ko. The first step was to slice 1 1/4 pounds of sweet potatoes thin and place them in a bowl of water with a squirt of lemon juice and a pinch of salt for 5 minutes.  This keeps the sweet potatoes from sticking to the pan during cooking.

Then slowly heat the oil for deep frying to 170 degrees Celsius. I just heated the oil until a drop of water "dances" on the oil.  I wiped the potatoes well on paper towels and deep fried them slowly until they were golden.
I drained them on paper towels and began to make the sauce.  In a saucepan, I heated 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, 1 tbs. soy sauce, and 1 tbs. of water until it was hot and began to thicken. 

We added the sweet potatoes to the caramel and turned them to coat them thoroughly. We removed them from the heat and sprinkled sesame seeds on the top.

We had homemade sushi at our friends' house two days later, but I would like to make them at home. So once we make our own homemade sushi then we will add our Japan stamp to Lily's culinary passport. We plan on doing this next weekend.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Kids Culinary Passport (USA)

I was surfing the web and I came across this terrific project at the blog, Inner Child Fun, for Lily's summer vacation. Since, we are not traveling anywhere this summer , why not travel around the world without leaving our kitchen!  I quickly downloaded the Kids' Culinary Passport and away we went on our "voyage."

We glued a photo of Lily and of course her "babies" onto her passport and answered the questions of what was her favorite food and what was her favorite country.  She loves noodles specifically Ramen and her favorite country is China, because of Ni Hao Kai Lan.

Since we had just celebrated the Fourth of July, we decided to visit our own country first, the good ole USA.  Lily keeps getting USA mixed up with USC, her father's Alma Mater. The blog gave a suggestion to make Homemade Peach ice cream.  My mother's favorite flavor of ice cream was peach, so in honor of her and what would have been her 72nd birthday this year on the 24th of July, I thought this would be a great way to celebrate.

The recipe came from the book "The Perfect Scoop" by David Liebowitz.  It called for peeling the peaches first.  Let me tell you peeling peaches with a regular hand held peeler is not easy and you lose a lot of your peach meat by doing so.  I discovered a very handy trick to peel the peaches.  With a paring knife, mark an x on the bottom of each peach. Then bring a large pot of water to boiling. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Boil the peaches for 20 seconds and then using a slotted spoon transfer them to the ice water bath. Let cool and then the skins slide right off.

I then removed the peach pits and  cut the fruit into chunks.

In a medium sized saucepan, I combined the peaches and  1/2 cup of water and cooked them for 10 minutes over medium high heat, until they were soft, stirring 2-3 times.

I combined the peaches with 3/4 cups of sugar and let them stand until they reached room temperature.

Lily helped me with the next part. And yes, I am wearing shorts with that top. We pureed the peach mixture in a blender with 1/2 cup of sour cream, 1 cup of heavy cream, 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract, and a few drops of fresh squeezed lemon juice.

We chilled the pureed mixture completely and then placed it in our Rival Ice Cream maker which had not been taken out of the box since 2008. I could consider that hoarding and that's why this post is perfect for this blog.

I let Lily stay up to finally taste the ice cream. It took an hour and a half before it started to finally take shape. 

Then I had Lily place her USA sticker to her passport. Can't wait to do some Japanese cooking next week! 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Fourth of July Seder

    In honor of the Fourth of July, my husband thought it would be nice to have a seder to celebrate the holiday.  He got this idea from listening to talk show host, Dennis Prager, who has been promoting the idea of celebrating America's Independence Day with more than just hot dogs and hamburgers.  His idea was to include a short ritual during the meal to make the holiday more meaningful, especially to younger members of the family.
    The idea was to include readings by young and old about American Independence, the asking of questions by the children, and the eating of symbolic foods that remind us of the significance of the day. If this sounds familiar, it is.  Dennis modeled the ceremony on the Passover Seder.  It has successfully kept the memory of the Israelites' Exodus from Egypt alive for over 3,000 years, and the Fourth of July declaration ceremony is designed to keep the American Independence alive for future generations.
   The declaration ceremony is explained in a four-page document that can be easily downloaded  from the Prager University web site.  It includes instructions for the host, the narrative, questions, and a list of materials and food needed for the ceremony.
    Tim wanted me to find things to represent the colors of the flag, so I felt this was the perfect opportunity to use one of my hoarded Pinterest pins from my 4th of July board. I perused my pins and decided to make the Fruit Pizza.

First, I mixed up the sugar cookie batter and spread it in a pizza pan.

Then I whipped up the cream cheese filling to represent the "white stars" on our flag.

I chose strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries to represent the "Red and Blue."

The final product.

Tim did a great job trying to condense the Fourth of July seder to five minutes, so our young daughters could understand why we were doing this ceremony.  But I think they were honestly more interested in digging into the dessert that was in front of them.