Friday, January 19, 2018

Friday Favorites

Easy Game Day Foods
A win for Sunday's game the Vikings could be championship bound
so I pulled out some recipes that are sure winners for you with a football theme.
Cooking Tip for making your own football cutter shape  
Use an empty frosting container. Just cut the top and bottom off and flatten it. When it pops back up you'll have a perfect football! If you don't have a frosting container, try a soda can, juice bottle, or a disposable plastic cup. 

Cook's Notes: Looking for a fun little treat to serve for game day? Consider this snack ready in 10 minutes. If you are lucky to have a football cookie cutter maybe even in less time.
Favorite crackers (I used TownHouse because of their size/shape)
Summer sausage, sliced thin (about 1/8" thick)
Block of cheddar cheese, sliced very thin (about 1/8" thick)
Ranch dressing

Prep Tools:
1 small, rinsed-out aluminum can (like from green chiles), or a small round cookie cutter
1 ziplock bag, or frosting bag

On a sturdy cutting board, use the aluminum can (or cookie cutter) to shape the cheddar and summer sausage pieces into individual "football" shapes. (See photo above.) Then assemble the football "bites", by layering cheddar and summer sausage atop the crackers.
Finally, pour some ranch dressing into a Ziplock bag, and then use scissors to snip a very small triangle from one of the bottom corners. Pipe the dressing onto the cheddar to complete the football bites.

Football Ice Cream Sandwiches
You’ll need:

  • Mini Ice Cream Sandwiches
  • Wooden Spoons
  • Sharpie 
  • Storage containers 
  • White cake icing
  • Resealable bag
  • Icing tip #4 and connector
  • Knife
  • Optional: Chocolate sprinkles
Simple steps:
  • Using a Sharpie, draw football plays, referee stripes or team colors on wooden spoons
  • Unwrap your ice creams and lay them on a sheet of wax paper or in Rubbermaid container
  • Pierce one end of the ice cream with a knife so that your wooden spoons can be inserted easily later
  • Cut the edge of resealable bag, insert your icing connector and tip, spoon in icing and pipe football design
  • Place in container and freeze until guests arrive.
  • Insert wooden spoons, sprinkle container with chocolate sprinkles (to finish the look) and serve.
  • Tip: If you serve them at halftime and they’re hard frozen, they should last the full 30 minutes!
Dark Rye Bread with Ham and Cheese Football Sandwiches
Cheese and Pepperoni Pizza

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Taco Bowls


Let's Mix It Up with Taco Bowls
If you loved Chicken Burrito Bowls with all the options

then you'll love Taco Bowls packed with Mexican flavors and lots of healthy options. Consider this 

  • Your main protein can be ground beef or ground turkey. If you want to keep it super lean, then use turkey meat.
  • Black beans add another layer of protein and are high in dietary fiber.
  • Tomatoes are an amazing source of vitamin C and potassium.
  • Cauliflower rice is 20 calories per cup and it’s a perfect replacement for carb and calorie heavy rice.
  • Avocado, an optional ingredient, is full of all the good fats you need in your diet for great skin, hair and lowering your cholesterol levels.
The recipe inspiration is from I adapted the taco filling from her original recipe. 
Taco Filling Ingredients:
  • 1 TB. olive oil
  • 1 lb. lean ground turkey, chicken or beef
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup sweet onions, diced
  • 3/4 cup combination red and yellow sweet mini peppers, diced
  • 1  prepared taco cooking sauce mix 

  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth (low sodium)
  • 1 can Fire Roasted diced tomatoes 
  • 1/2 can black beans, rinsed and drained
Bowl Ingredients:
  • 1 bag riced cauliflower, cooked according to package instructions 
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • 1 cup store bought pico de gallo
  • 1 avocado sliced
  • Optional lime slices, chopped tomatoes, lettuce 
  • Saute garlic, onion, and peppers in olive oil about 3 minutes. Add in meat and cook through about 5-6 minutes. Move meat mixture to the side and wipe pan clean. Crumble meat with a fork.  
  • Add in taco cooking sauce, cumin, tomatoes, broth and beans. Bring to a boil reduce heat to low and cook 10-15 minutes. 
  • To assemble bowls; divide riced cauliflower among bowls, top with meat mixture, and plate corn, cheese, pico de gallo, lettuce and tomatoes around the bowl. 
  • Spritz with lime slice.  
  Not only is it Taco Thursday but it's also Pooh Day

Alan Alexander Milne January 18, 1882- January 31, 1956
Today honors his birthday, the author of Winnie-the-Pooh stories. Besides making Taco Bowls you can also celebrate the day by reading Milne's classic Pooh stories.

Milne was a noted writer and primarily a playwright before the huge success of Pooh overshadowed all his previous work.
In 1924 Milne published a book of children's poems entitled " When We Were Very Young" with drawings by one of his colleagues Ernest Shepard. This book included a poem about a teddy bear who however hard he tried grows tubby without exercise. That was Pooh's first unofficial appearance in Milne's writing.
Milne is most famous for his pooh books about a boy Christopher Robin named after his son and the various characters inspired by his son's stuffed animals most notably a bear named Winnie-the-Pooh. E.H Shepard illustrated the original Pooh books using his own son's teddy bear, Growler as the model. A little known fact is that Christopher Robin Milne's own toys are now under glass in the New York City Library.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Celebrate a Notable Birthday with a Creamy Tomato Soup

Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706- April 17, 1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. And he has one of the most impressive resumes in American history. Consider these achievements:
  • A renowned polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. 
  • As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. 
  • As an inventor, he is known for the lightning rod, bifocals, and the Franklin stove, among other inventions. 
  • He facilitated many civic organizations, including Philadelphia's fire department and a university. Franklin earned the title of "The First American" for his early and indefatigable campaigning for colonial unity as an author and spokesman in London for several colonies, then as the first United States Ambassador to France. And if that wasn't enough
  • With two partners he published the Pennsylvania Chronicle and became wealthy publishing Poor Richard's Almanack and The Pennsylvania Gazette.
His colorful life and legacy of scientific and political achievement, and status as one of America's most influential Founding Fathers, have seen Franklin honored on coinage and the $100. bill, warships, the names of many towns, counties; educational institutions; corporations; and, more than two centuries after his death, countless cultural references. 

And January just happens to be  designated Soup Month
This cartoon sort of sounds like the type of quote one might find in Poor Richard's Almanac-well maybe not the chicken part!

Creamy Parmesan Tomato Soup

Cook's notes: Melt winter's chill with a bowl of homemade Creamy Parmesan Tomato Soup.   
The combination of diced carrots, onions and celery sautéed in a butter/olive oil is known as mirepoix. This is one of those recipes that actually tastes better the next day for flavors to meld. It's quite flavorful with all the spices. The recipe makes about 6-1/2 cups.
Cooking Tip: Use high quality canned tomatoes e.g. San Marzano.  Carrots, onions, celery can be minced ahead in a food processor. Make the soup early in day before serving or the day before for flavors to meld but omitting the cream and Parmesan cheese. Refrigerate and then reheat soup on medium low, uncovered stirring in the heavy cream (1/4 cup) and Parmesan cheese as a last step. Do not let the mixture boil. This recipe makes about 6-1/2 cups.

  • 2 TB. butter and 1-1/2 TB. olive oil 
  • 1 medium onion, diced about 1 cup
  • 3/4 cup each  diced celery and carrots 
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 4 TB. flour
  • 4 cups chicken broth (fat free-low sodium)
  • 2 large cans (28 oz.) San Marzano Whole Peeled Tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 2 TB. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp.sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 TB. dried basil or 1/4 cup diced fresh basil
  • 1/2 tsp. each oregano and thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. each marjoram and parsley flakes
  • Dash of red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated 
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste at end of cooking time
  • In a soup pot saute onions, garlic, celery and carrots in the butter/olive oil combination about 3-4  minutes.
  • On low heat whisk in flour, add in broth, tomato paste, plum tomatoes, sugar, bay leaf and all the spices.
  • Bring to a boil and then turn heat down to low, cover and simmer uncovered 25 minutes.
  • Remove bay leaves with a slotted spoon.
  • In thirds, puree the soup mixture in a food processor or blender and then add back to soup pot (I left some little pieces in soup mixture so not entirely smooth but that was a personal preference).
  • On low heat uncovered, add in cream and Parmesan cheese, heat mixture thoroughly but do not let boil.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A Twist on a Old Favorite

Asian Style Sloppy Joes
Cook's Notes: Love this take on an old favorite Sloppy Joes with an infusion of Asian flavors. It can be made in under 30 minutes and surely will become a family favorite. It is a  sure winner for game day foods too. Recipes serves four using regular size buns or brioche buns but can be stretched to eight to ten with small slider buns. The recipe called for serving the Sloppy Joes with broccoli slaw but I substituted mixed romaine greens. Taste test before increasing hoisin sauce to 1/2 cup. 
Recipe adapted from book "Modern Comfort Cooking" by Lauren Grier
  • 1 TB. olive oil  
  • 1 cup sweet onions, diced
  • 2 TB. chili garlic paste 
  • 1 TB. freshly grated ginger 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper 
  • 1 lb. ground pork or chicken or a combination of both 
  • 1/4 -1/2 cup hoisin sauce 
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce 
  • 1 (14-ounce) can fire roasted tomatoes 
  • 1 TB. lime juice 
  • 4 brioche buns 
  • broccoli slaw or napa cabbage for garnish 

  • Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add in olive oil. Add in the onions, garlic paste, ginger, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add in meat, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, tomatoes and lime juice. Bring mixture to a boil and break apart meat as it cooks.  
  • Reduce mixture to a simmer and cook uncovered until the mixture thickens, about 20 minutes. 
  • Serve the Sloppy Joes on the brioche buns, topped with either broccoli slaw or napa cabbage.
P.S. I had to sneak in one of those Bittersweet Chocolate Nut Cookies from yesterday. 

Some parting words...

Monday, January 15, 2018

Weekend Round-Up Part Two

What can I say except miracles indeed do happen!!
What a Game!
Cook's Notes: Start the week with a celebratory win-win with the ultimate 
Bittersweet Chocolate Cookies with Pecans and Walnuts. These cookies are for the serious chocolate fans in your group. The recipe makes 2 dozen and the inspiration comes from Cuisine at home February 2018. Use a good quality chocolate 60 % cacao e.g. Ghirardelli. They are seriously delicious! 
  • 1 cup each chopped pecans and walnuts
  • 8 oz. (2 bars) bittersweet chocolate bars,coarsely chopped
  • 3-1/2 TB. butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 TB. each unsweetened cocoa powder and instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 tsp. each baking soda and salt
  • 2 large eggs
  •  1/3 cup each granulated sugar and brown sugar 
  • 1 tsp. vanilla each almond extract  
  • 3/4 cup semi sweet chips
  • Toast pecans and walnuts in a non-stick skillet over medium low heat for 5 minutes. Stir often to avoid burning. Set aside. 
  • Melt chocolate and butter in a saucepan over low heat until nearly smooth.
  • In a large bowl whisk flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder and salt. 
  • Beat in eggs, sugars and extract until thickened, then add in chocolate mixture and mix well. Stir in nuts and chips.
  • The batter is runny and will need to be chilled several hours to firm it or put on freezer for 45 minutes. 
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone pad. 
  • Roll into 1 inch balls (if batter too sticky flour hands).
  • Bake 10-11 minutes. Cool on baking sheet 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool. 
If you liked Brownie Walnut Bites-then you'll love Bittersweet Chocolate Cookies with Walnuts and Pecans.

Some Other Winning Game Day Foods with a Southwest Flair
Southwestern Chicken Tostada

Southwestern Spinach Dip 

Crab Dip

In case you need a Monday lift...

Enjoy your day

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Weekend Round-Up Part One

Book Review"The Rock Maiden" by Natasha Yim 

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2018 is in its 5th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Their mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.
I am honored to participate again in this wonderful event as a book reviewer for "The Rock Maiden A Chinese Tale of Love and Loyalty" written by Natasha Yim and illustrated by Pirkko Vaino. 
to Wisdom Tales Press and Kathy Floyd. I was so appreciative that Kathy took the time over the holidays to mail me a copy before I left on a trip so I would have the book to review. Wisdom Tales is a small book publisher that concentrates on children's picture books and books on different religions, philosophy and American Indian.   

Natasha Yim is a children’s author, and freelance writer. She has published five picture books: Otto’s Rainy Day (Charlebridge Publishing 2000); Cixi, The Dragon Empress (Goosebottom Books, 2011); Sacajawea of the Shoshone (Goosebottom Books, 2012); Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas (Charlesbridge Publishing, 2014); and The Rock Maiden (Wisdom Tales Press, 2017). 
Natasha Yim’s newest book "The Rock Maiden" was inspired by the large granite formation known as the Amah Rock in Hong Kong that overlooks the sea. This natural rock formation is said to be shaped like a woman with a baby on her back. Chinese legend has it that the Amah Rock was formed when a young woman grieved over the loss of her fisherman husband at sea and climbed the hill every day to search for his return.

Growing up Yim was familiar with the story that celebrated family, faithfulness, love and devotion.  In her new book “The Rock Maiden” for ages four and up Natasha updates the folktale and puts her own spin on it by adding a happier ending. She uses evocative language to tell a love story of Ling Yee and her fisherman, husband Ching Yin. They are devoted to each other. When Ching Yin is lost at sea during a terrible storm, Ling Yee, refuses to accept Ching’s fate. Everyday Ling would put her baby on her back and hike to the top of a cliff that overlooked the ocean where she searched the horizon for her husband. Her grieving parents and villagers felt anguish watching her suffer. Heartbroken by their daughter's mourning, for so many months her parents plead with the patron the goddess of fishermen, Tin Hau to show pity. 

Touched while observing the grieving mother scanning the horizon with baby in tow, Tin Hau brought the suffering to an end and turned the mother and child to stone as they stood at the top of the cliff. The villagers referred to the statue as the Rock Maiden.. The author reimagines a happier ending by rewarding both the loving wife and her husband for their loyalty and faithfulness to one another.
The husband finds his way home to his loyal wife and son, and Tin Hau brings Ling Yee and her child back to life from the stone and returns them to human form.  

Natasha’s retelling of the story is enhanced by the beautiful pastel illustrations of the Finnish children's book artist, Pirkko Vainio.  

Her stunning illustrations with varied colors capture the changing emotions of the story, life in an ancient Chinese world, sampans, the sea, and the Amah Rock. The watercolor like illustrations use soft muted tones which evoke dreamy like scenes that are so lovely and really compliment the text. 

The story is a springboard for discussion on family, loyalty and traditions. Note that some explanation will be needed for listeners as when the husband returns after a year’s absence he looks older and the wife and son appear as not having aged since they were frozen in time.
The Rock Maiden is a timeless tale beautifully told that makes a great addition to the classroom or home.
Some suggested follow up activities include:
1.Research 7 famous statues inspired by fairy tales.

2. Locate and research Amah statue.

3. Create a sculpture of Amah Rock using clay or play dough.

4. Use watercolors recreate a scene from the book.

As a side note it was an honor in 2015 for me to review Natasha Yim's book for MCBD
a link to my book review

Natasha has written for the children’s magazines, “Highlights for Children”, “Faces”, “Appleseeds”, and “Muse”, and is a regular contributor to Mendocino Arts Magazine. She is s currently working on a multicultural middle grade and a multicultural historical young adult novel.

Natasha awards include: 2000 Kids’ Pick of the Lists (Otto’s Rainy Day), Junior Library Guild selection, Scholastic Book Club selection, Amelia Bloomer reading list nominee, Illinois Monarch Awards nominee.

Connect with Natasha Yim via her Website, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest She is also a 2018 MCBD Author Sponser.

Current Sponsors: MCBD 2018 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board.

2018 MCBD Medallion Sponsors

HONORARY: Children’s Book Council, Junior Library Guild

PLATINUM:Scholastic Book Clubs

GOLD:Audrey Press, Candlewick Press, Loving Lion Books, Second Story Press, Star Bright Books, Worldwide Buddies

SILVER:Capstone Publishing, Author Charlotte Riggle, Child’s Play USA, KidLit TV, Pack-n-Go Girls, Plum Street Press

BRONZE: Barefoot Books, Carole P. Roman, Charlesbridge Publishing, Dr. Crystal Bowe, Gokul! World, Green Kids Club, Gwen Jackson, Jacqueline Woodson, Juan J. Guerra, Language Lizard, Lee & Low Books, RhymeTime Storybooks, Sanya Whittaker Gragg, TimTimTom Books, WaterBrook & Multnomah, Wisdom Tales Press

2018 Author Sponsors
Honorary Author Sponsors: Author/Illustrator Aram Kim and Author/Illustrator Juana Medina

Author Janet Balletta, Author Susan Bernardo, Author Carmen Bernier-Grand, Author Tasheba Berry-McLaren and Space2Launch, Bollywood Groove Books, Author Anne Broyles, Author Kathleen Burkinshaw, Author Eugenia Chu, Author Lesa Cline-Ransome, Author Medeia Cohan and Shade 7 Publishing, Desi Babies, Author Dani Dixon and Tumble Creek Press, Author Judy Dodge Cummings, Author D.G. Driver, Author Nicole Fenner and Sister Girl Publishing, Debbi Michiko Florence, Author Josh Funk, Author Maria Gianferrari, Author Daphnie Glenn, Globe Smart Kids, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Author Quentin Holmes, Author Esther Iverem, Jennifer Joseph: Alphabet Oddities, Author Kizzie Jones, Author Faith L Justice , Author P.J. LaRue and, Author Karen Leggett Abouraya, Author Sylvia Liu, Author Sherri Maret, Author Melissa Martin Ph.D., Author Lesli Mitchell, Pinky Mukhi and We Are One, Author Miranda Paul, Author Carlotta Penn, Real Dads Read, Greg Ransom, Author Sandra L. Richards, RealMVPKids Author Andrea Scott, Alva Sachs and Three Wishes Publishing, Shelly Bean the Sports Queen, Author Sarah Stevenson, Author Gayle H. Swift Author Elsa Takaoka, Author Christine Taylor-Butler, Nicholette Thomas and MFL Publishing Author Andrea Y. Wang, Author Jane Whittingham Author Natasha Yim

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Scholastic Book Clubs: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/27/18 at 9:00pm.

Join the conversation and win one of 12-5 book bundles and one Grand Prize Book Bundle (12 books) that will be given away at the party!

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers:

Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators:

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Friday Favorites

From the Seasonal Plate
Jambalaya with Shrimp, Sausage and Rice

Mini Black Forest Cheesecakes

Winter Fruit Salad
Cook's Notes: A versatile salad with lots of options.  The citrusy dressing really makes this salad shine. Serves four. 
Salad Ingredients: 
  • 2 clementines, peeled and segmented
  • 2 kiwis, peeled and halved
  • 1 cup red grapes, halved
  • 1 cup strawberries, diced  
  • 1 Bartlett pear peeled and diced 
  • 1/4 cup pommegrante arils or dried cranberries
Salad Dressing:
  • Whisk together 1 tsp. lime zest, 2 TB. each lime juice and maple syrup and 1/2 tsp. fresh ginger, grated 
  • Mix fruit together and drizzle dressing on mixture right before serving. 
Calling all Little Women Fans
You will love this historical novel which gives the reader a glimpse into the life of the Alcott family and the youngest daughter May Alcott. It's one of those books that will send you to GOOGLE to learn more. A bonus included at the end are bits of triva about the Alcott family and book club discussion questions.

This is Elise Hooper's debut novel imagining of the life of the youngest Alcott, immortalized in "Little Women" as the cute, willful, pretentious Amy. The reality of May's life was far more complicated, as was her relationship with her famous sister Louisa. I found the story to be very engrossing.

Hooper obviously did a lot of research into not only May's life but also the historical background for the story, most especially the art scene in Europe during the fascinating period when a group of artists were experimenting with composition, style, and technique and struggling to be accepted by the traditional art world and press critics who dubbed them 'Impressionists.'

Abigail May Alcott, known as May, was Louisa May Alcott's youngest sister and a very talented artist in her own right. She spent many years developing her talents with renowned teachers and had two paintings accepted for exhibition at the famous Paris Salon.

But it was hard to live in her famous sister's shadow and accept her financial backing for many European trips and to live in Boston and study art. Hooper imagines some friction between these sisters, who were part of a close-knit family. Hooper also imagines the fierce competition and petty jealousies that very likely occurred between fellow art students.
As the story develops you will learn a lot about Louisa , her work and the dynamics of the Alcott family relationships.

Add this book to your winter reading list!

I forgot to share this from the recent barrio field trip to downtown Tucson. I was quite impressed someone had posted this welcoming sign in their yard. 
In case can't read it says No matter where you are from, we're glad you're our neighbor. 

We certainly could use more signs like this posted in neighborhoods!