Saturday, January 31, 2015

The World According to Bella

On The Road-Day 2 
Mrs. S says I am becoming a seasoned traveler. I've now been through Kansas and Oklahoma and Texas and ending up in New Mexico for the night. I had hoped we'd get to Tucson in time to watch The Puppy Bowl but it isn't looking too promising but hopefully you can catch the show.

Puppy Bowl XI will air Sunday, February 1st at 3 PM ET on Animal Planet. 220 paws, or 55 puppies, will take the field for Team Ruff and Team Fluff. They’ll have a serious competition to see which team will achieve the coveted title of Puppy Bowl champs.

Points are scored whenever the pups carry a toy into the end zone. Housebreaking is still on the radar for these pint-sized pooches. Therefore whenever there is an accident on the field a flag is thrown. Stoppages occur when a water bowl runs empty.

The ride was very long again. I did my best to be good but it was so boring looking out the window. Kansas just had a bunch of fields, train tracks and oil rigs. Oklahoma had oil tanks, and more train tracks. Texas just lots of cows and was smelly. But it was a rest stop in New Mexico that really caught my interest. Just as I got out of the car I spied two bunnies heading for the bushes. I dragged Mr. C across the parking lot and the chase was on. I would have caught one of those bunnies if Mr. C hadn't slowed me down with that darn leash.

Mr.C has picked out Pet Friendly Motels for us to stay at,  He scored big on this one. As we pulled up to the entrance several dogs were outside with their owners to greet me.  Our  room had this doorknob holder. We knew this was our room. 
The best part of the hotel was a mini-fenced in dog park just for their furry guests out back. They thought of almost everything with Poop Bag Stations outside the motel in several spots. Now if they had only had a supply of milk bones I would have given them 5 stars instead of 4. 
Let's hope I get more sleep than last night. The other place was just too noisy and I wasn't really tired.

Mrs. S and I watched some super bowl commercials before going to bed just in case we miss seeing them tomorrow. Check out these links. 
Love, Bella
P.S. Mrs. S has already picked out my outfit for our AZ destination. I had hoped it was left behind in MN-no such luck! 

Friday, January 30, 2015

The World According to Bella

On The Road
Yesterday I missed all my usual naps. Last night I tossed and turned and had a hard time getting to sleep. Something was up but I wasn't quite sure what. Seemed like a lot of activity packing and cleaning the past few days. This was more than going to the lake. I was getting worried. 
Just as the sun came up Mr. C and Mrs. S sprung into action.  I was getting even more stressed wondering if I would be left behind. I felt better when Mr.C  put my bed in the back seat knowing I was 'in' wherever we were going, But the lack of space for me was a huge concern.      
FINALLY Mrs. S told me we were headed out West and we had some 1,600 miles to go. Now this sounded like a VERY long time in the car. When I heard our first destination was Wichita I wished I was Dorothy. I'd click my paws and be there in a flash. But at least I was not being left behind. I did my best to be good. I mostly napped, looked out the window and checked on their driving every so often to see how many more miles were left. My highlights of the day were the rest stops with  trash sniffing and the snacks Mrs. S brought for me.  
The motel was another story. I freaked out, paced for several hours before I could settle down. I just hope I can sleep tonight since I spent my whole day resting. At least Mr.C did get me to the dog park really early this morning. So early there wasn't one doggie to play with. I had the whole park to myself. 
Love, Bella

that mashed avocado toast is really big on the social media?
This breakout healthy breakfast item has been hashtagged on Instagram more than 1, 000 times in the past month. #avocadotoastismyjam and fans have posted 62,000 avocado toast- related tweets in 2014. 
So if you want to join the craze make a slice sometime. Add a little lemon juice and salt to a mashed avocado,spread on toasted bread, drizzle with olive oil and add a few red pepper flakes for a kick. The good fats and fiber in the avocado fill you up and help you feel full longer.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Busy Afternoon in Room 13

Life in a kindergarten class moves at a fast pace with a variety of activities all day long. Today was no exception. After lunch there was time for me to reread " Goldy Luck and The Three Pandas". This go around we focused on the illustrations looking for the color red and other Chinese symbols. We talked about good luck and how the author even signed the book wishing the reader Good Luck. Kindergartners always have lots to say and remembered many things from last week's reading. And were they ever excited when I handed the book to a student and told class I was donating the book to be shared by all 6 kindergarten classes. They thought it was a sign of good luck for them to have a new book. 
The Chinese New Year starts February 19th so all classes will have a chance to share the book in the next few weeks. 
The big project for the afternoon was starting their February calendar. This idea came from Pinterest.
Lucky I will not be there for the messy part-stamping their hand in red paint and turning their handprints into cardinals. It looks like a 3 day project to me since they only got branches glued on today. 

Of course free time was a big hit and all were engaged in some fun activity. But little did they know that a really BIG surprise awaited them later in the afternoon.    

Just as I was leaving  the Viktor Viking van pulled into the parking lot. 
Viktor the Viking is the official mascot of the Minnesota Vikings football team. 
He was making a surprise visit to the school  for an assembly on bullying.  I am sure the crowd will go wild with this visit! 

Speaking of football check out this link to an amazing array of Healthy Recipes for upcoming Game Day. There are some 50 recipes to choose from and I posted some pictures. They all looked quite yummy.
Buffalo Roasted Cauliflower

Broccoli and Cheddar Quinoa Bites

Spinach and Artichoke Hummus

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Scrambled Eggs with Boursin Cheese and Spinach

Scrambled Eggs with Boursin Cheese and Spinach
Cook's notes: Its easy, fast to make and looks fancy. These creamy scrambled eggs are sure to be a family favorite. Another delicious flavor combo would be topping the scrambled eggs with a piece of smoked salmon or cooked ham slice. The egg dish is served over whole grain toast. Recipe serves 2-3 and adapted from Carla Hall co-host of The Chew.
  • 1 TB. butter
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup half and half or heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. each dried chives and parsley flakes
  • 2 TB. from a package of Boursin Garlic and Herb Cheese or Alouette Garlic and Herb
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves, stems trimmed

  • In a blender add eggs, cream, spices and Boursin cheese. Blend well.
  • In a large skillet melt butter on a medium high heat. Add egg mixture and spinach leaves.
  • Gently stir in a figure-eight motion until eggs are cooked, creamy and not dry. It just takes a few minutes. 
Cook's notes: I thought these kitchen tips were useful to pass along.

Great idea for a kid's party -freeze ice cream scoops ahead of time. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cherry Glazed Chicken

 "Music, in even the most terrible situations, must never offend the ear 
but always remain a source of pleasure."
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (born Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart; January 27, 1756- December 5, 1791) is among the most significant and enduring popular composers of European classical music. His enormous output includes works that are widely acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music. Many of his works are part of the standard concert repertoire and are widely recognized as masterpieces of classical music. And he achieved all this in 35 short years ! 
Fun Facts:
  • Mozart was 5 years old when he wrote his first composition
  • Mozart wrote over 600 works during his lifetime, including 41 symphonies and 27 piano concertos
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart learned to speak 15 different languages
  • Mozart composed very quickly and wrote huge amounts of music
  • He was extremely extravagant and constantly in debt
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died of of kidney failure December 5, 1791 in Vienna, Austria and was buried in a pauper's grave
  • His music lives on and the musical works of Mozart include the following:
The Requiem
Operas include:
Don Giovanni
The Marriage of Figaro
The Magic Flute

Cherry Glazed Chicken
Cook's notes: A real plus for this chicken entree-only one skillet is needed to make this recipe. It's a versatile dish since the cherry glaze can be substituted for cranberry glaze. Just use dried cranberries and cranberry juice. Pork tenderloins can be substituted for chicken breasts. 
Recipe serves 2-3.
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts or tenderloins 
  • 1 tsp. each herbes de Provence and dried parsley flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 TB. olive oil
  • 2/3 cup diced sweet onions
  • 3/4 cup diced red and yellow sweet peppers
  • 3/4 cup dried cherries
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup cherry juice
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 4 tsp. maple syrup
  • 1 TB. balsamic vinegar or chocolate balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup toasted chopped pecans
  • Mix both herbs together and rub chicken with seasoning. Salt and pepper.
  • Mix chicken broth and cherry juice with cornstarch and set aside.
  • In a large non-stick pan heat oil on medium heat. Add peppers, onion and chicken. Cook for 5 minutes on each side, stirring constantly.
  • Stir in cherry juice and broth mixture, dried cherries, balsamic vinegar, syrup and bring to boil.
  • Reduce heat to low and cook uncovered until chicken reaches 170 degrees using a meat thermometer (about 20 minutes).  You may need to add more chicken broth if sauce gets too thick. 
  • Sprinkle toasted pecans on top of meat and serve.  

Bon Appetit!

P.S. Last, but not least, being part of Multicultural Children's Book Day was a wonderful opportunity for me to connect up with organizers, sponsors, co-hosts, bloggers, and others interested in expanding awareness of and promotion of multicultural children’s books. I hope you were able to look at some of the book reviews. It is amazing how many new culturally diverse books are available. This was the second year of this event and it just seems to get bigger with more sponsors and co-hosts supporting the event.  

Today's The Day

Today We Are Celebrating:

Updates: One of the goals for today's event is to connect organizers, sponsors, co-hosts, bloggers, and others interested in expanding awareness of, and promotion of multicultural children’s books. See blog January 25th for more information on today's event.

There is a  giant blog tour and Link-up
Our Big MCCBD Linky is LIVE today so that bloggers can link up their multicultural children’s book reviews so that readers, parents, teachers, librarians, and caregivers can explore lots of books with diversity content via book reviews, book lists, and links.

A virtual book drive
MCCD  has  partnered with First Book for a Virtual Book Drive to help in our efforts to place multicultural books in locations where they are needed.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day Twitter Party
Use Hashtag: #ReadYourWorld

Today, January 27th
9pm to 10pm EST

Here’s your chance to win 10 packages of Diversity Books for Kids and chat about multicultural children’s books with MCCBD founders Valarie Budayr (Jump Into a Book) and Mia Wenjen (PragmaticMom)!

“MCCBD is collaborating with Children’s Book Council to highlight wonderful diversity books and authors on an ongoing basis all year.”

Follow this link to Multicultural Book Reviews by bloggers and to #29 Ever Ready review of "Goldy Luck and The Three Pandas" 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Buttermilk Cheddar Bacon Bread and Chili

Kraft Foods' "Food & Family" magazine -- a quarterly publication -- prides itself on showcasing recipes for simple meals and snacks. It provides readers with budget-friendly ideas for quick, nutrition-packed lunches, celebration meal menus, desserts and recipes for family faves. The magazine's first free issue appeared in 2002 and and Kraft mailed the magazine to subscribers without a charge until 2009. Now, you can buy a subscription for a printed copy of the magazine delivered to your home or you can view it online for free after you register for the site.The magazine costs $13.98 for a one-year subscription; 

Recently I came across this publication and was impressed with the recipes, straightforward directions and easy to find ingredients. My lake neighbor Kathleen brought a loaf of Buttermilk Cheddar Bacon Bread to a neighborhood gathering. The recipe came from "Food and Family" magazine Fall 2014 issue and it was the perfect accompaniment to main entree chili.  This bread would be a great side for a Super Bowl party. It is moist and flavorful. 
  • 2-1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 large egg-room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk--room temperature 
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 8 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 cup Kraft shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives or 1 TB. dried chives
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease a loaf pan.
  • Mix first 4 ingredients in a bowl.
  • Whisk egg, buttermilk and melted butter in a separate bowl until blended.
  • Add to flour mixture along with bacon, cheese and chives. Stir just until moistened.
  • Bake 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. 
  • Cool in pan 15 minutes. Remove and cool on a wire rack. 
 A simmering pot of chili will warm up any occasion. It's the quintessential recipe for curing comfort food craving. This chili recipe was posted previously. It serves 8-10.
 Chili by Ever Ready

Cook’s Note: This recipe tastes better made a day ahead for the flavors to meld. 
  • 3 lbs. hamburger, cooked, drained and crumbled 
  • 1 tsp. salt 
  • ½ tsp. pepper 
  • 2 cups diced celery 
  • 2 cups diced sweet onions 
  • 2 (24 oz.) jars of spicy tomato basil sauce or Marinara sauce
  • 3 cans (14.5) diced tomatoes basil, garlic, oregano 
  • 1-cup catsup 
  • 1 cup water 
  • 4 TB. fresh lemon juice 
  • 2 TB. brown sugar 
  • 2 ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce 
  • 2 tsp. cider vinegar 
  • 1tsp. dry mustard 
  • 3 cans light or dark red red kidney beans, drained 
  • 3-4 TB. chili powder 
  • Brown hamburger with onions, celery salt and pepper to taste and drain. 
  • In a crock pot or soup pot add hamburger mixture with rest of ingredients. 
  • Simmer on low heat covered several hours stirring occasionally. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Multicultural Children's Book Day

Introduction to Multicultural Children's Day-January 27. 2015 
The mission of this event is to not only raise awareness for children's books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these books into classrooms and libraries. Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. The co-creators of this unique event are Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book/Audrey Press. You can find a bio for Mia and Valarie here.  Look under ABOUT MCCBD C0-Founders. They teamed up in late 2013 to create an ambitious (and much needed) national event as a way to celebrate diversity in children’s books. Another goal of this exciting event is create a compilation of books and favorite reads that will provide not only a new reading list but also a way to expose brilliant books to families, teachers, and libraries.

The Multicultural Children’s Book Day team hopes to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. Our young readers need to see themselves within the pages of a book and experience other cultures, languages, traditions and religions within the pages of a book. We encourage readers, parents, teachers, caregivers and librarians to follow along via book reviews, author visits, multicultural book lists and visit the huge multicultural book review link-up that will occur on the MCCBD website 1/27/15.

Whether the featured books are newly released or have publication dates from years past, the event is about identifying and expanding awareness and access to quality books about people of color, as well as about the cultures, languages, traditions, and religions of the world.

January 27 th is Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Celebrating Diversity in Children’s Literature. I am honored to be part of this event as a book reviewer of “Goldy Luck and The Three Pandas” by Natasha Yim. Becky Flansburg, event coordinator, supplied me with the book. It will be donated to my daughter's school library after the January 27 th event. 

Here are some ways you can help celebrate Multicultural Children’s Book Day
  • Visit The Multicultural Children’s Book Day website and view our book lists, reading resources and other useful multicultural information. 
  • Visit our Multicultural Books for Kids Pinterest Board for more reading ideas.
  • Have children bring in their favorite multicultural book to school on this day and share it with the class.
  • Watch for the #ReadYourWorld hashtag on social media and share.
  • Visit our Diversity Book Lists and Resources for Educators and Parents on our website. 
  • Visit MCCBD sponsors (you can find them HERE)
  • Create a Multicultural Children’s Book Day display around the classroom or library.
  • Visit The Multicultural Children’s Book Day website on January 27th to view and participate in our huge blogger link-up, multicultural book reviews, giveaways and more!
Other interesting details include:
Children's Author-Natasha Yim "Goldy Luck and The Three Pandas"
Bio: I'm a Northern California children's book author, freelance writer, and playwright. My first picture book, "Otto's Rainy Day", a Kids' Pick of the Lists selection, was published by Charlesbridge Publishing, and my picture book biography, "Cixi, The Dragon Empress" was released by Goosebottom Books in October 2011. "Sacajawea of the Shoshone", the amazing story of the Native American teenager who traveled the west with Lewis and Clark, was published in October 2012. I have also published non-fiction articles in the children's magazines Highlights for Children, Appleseeds, and Faces, and for adults in local and regional publications such as Mendocino Arts, Vibrant Life, and Uncharted magazines. My ten-minute plays have been produced and performed in venues around Northern California--Ukiah, Santa Rosa, Guerneville--as well as in Los Angeles, Sydney and Brisbane, Australia.

BOOKS: "Otto's Rainy Day", "Cixi, The Dragon Empress", "Sacajawea of the Shoshone", "Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas"

Important News: Natasha will be celebrating the Chinese New Year at the Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA., on Feb. 8 at 1:00 pm. with a reading of "Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas" and a Chinese New Year craft. 
Here’s the link to the event:

Book Reviewer
Sue Ready is a writer, poet and former middle school teacher. She is the poetry chair for Northwoods Arts Council in Hackensack, MN. She writes a twice monthly food column for a local newspaper and publishes monthly dog stories called The World According to Bella at Sue's blogsite is , which includes photography, quotes, book recommends, recipes, musings on life Up North, city adventures, travels and The World According to Bella stories. 

"Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas" is written by Natasha Yim and illustrated by Grace Zong 
It is a multicultural retelling of the Goldilocks and the Three Bears tale and a lively picture book that is a wonderful introduction to Chinese New Year traditions.
A young girl named Goldy Luck is sent by her mother on the Chinese New Year to wish their panda neighbors, the Chans, Happy New Year and bring them a plate of yummy turnip cakes. But Goldy’s neighbors, the Chans aren’t home and what follows is a familiar set of events, but with a wonderful new cultural twist. There are lovely messages in the book about love, friendship and forgiveness, and doing the right thing even when it is hard to admit mistakes. The humor in the story—derived from the fact that while Goldy was supposed to share food, she ends up eating the panda's food instead—is gentle and amusing, and the moral of the story is satisfying. The importance of food is one of the themes of this book with food-based similes and metaphors that are sprinkled throughout.

The illustrations by Grace Zong are bright, detailed, fun, full of life and spirited. The illustrations are clever with subtle messages that add depth of meaning to the Chinese New Year rituals and preparations. Lots of red for good luck is found throughout the story. The illustrations are the perfect companion to Yim’s story.

This fractured tale is also a delightful way to teach children about the Chinese New Year traditions. Cultural education is presented throughout the story in a very age appropriate, interesting way. The author has included in the back of the book a great teaching tool with kid-friendly information on Chinese New Year rituals and the Chinese Zodiac to expand the story’s lesson beyond simply reading the book for teachers and home school curriculum. It was a nice touch including an authentic recipe for turnip cakes on the back page.

“Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas” is a versatile multicultural teaching tool that offers opportunities to:
  • Make text to text connections and comparisons. Analyzing this story in comparison to other fractured Goldilocks tales will help students create a deeper understanding of the story elements 
  • Learn about different cultures
  • Teach about the importance of friendship and taking responsibility for one’s actions 
  • Inspire students to write their own version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears
  • Promote discussion on how this adapted story incorporated Chinese traditions/rituals 
Some other ideas to extend the book for home or school use include:
1. Find Chinese New Year’s items in the illustrations
peach or plum blossoms, Oranges, red and gold decorations, a dancing lion, lanterns, Chinese animal zodiac (not the one in the back of the book)

2. Make Congee, a type of porridge mentioned in the book. It is made of rice that has been boiled until soft. Often chicken broth or stock is added for a savory dish, but it can also be made using water and adding fruit or some type of sweeteners when served.
A child-friendly congee can be made overnight in a slow-cooker.

Ingredients: 1 cup jasmine rice and 8 cups water
Directions:Have the child measure rice and water into a slow-cooker (crock pot). Cook on low setting overnight, or eight to ten hours.
Allow to cool slightly, add ingredients that you might add to a bowl of cooked oatmeal such as brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, or agave syrup, to taste, fruit such as sliced apples, peaches, apricots, bananas, etc., small amounts of milk, soy milk or rice milk

3. Obtain chopsticks and demonstrate how to use them. It is a wonderful way for children to develop fine motor skills.
4. Make paper cut-outs. The Chinese have been making paper cut outs or paper carvings called Jianzhi for many centuries.
5. 2015 is the year of the Sheep. Use the Internet to find worksheets related to the Year of the Sheep and art activities. Some links to get you started spv=2&biw=1264&bih=615&tbm=isch&tbo=u

I was fortunate to have an opportunity to share "Goldy Luck and The Three Pandas with my daughter's kindergarten class. 
Since red is considered a lucky color in Chinese culture 
I made individual red envelopes (symbol of good luck) for each student, and wrote Happy New Year and underneath Kung Hei Fat Choi (Cantonese for Happy New Year). A gold chocolate coin was inserted in the envelope and sealed with a gold foil sticker. 
Oranges are part of the Chinese New Year feast to symbolize  great wealth. Each student wrapped a clementine in red tissue. It was tied with a tag with the words Kung Hei Fat Choi written on it. Students drew another classmate's name to give the clementine to wishing he/she good luck for the New Year.
This student enjoyed some quiet time looking over the book. 
Our last part of an early Chinese New Year celebration was enjoying fortune cookies. My daughter was able to find fortune cookie erasers which were a big hit with the class.  
    Reader Alert: Twitter Party! Join us for Multicultural Children's Book Day Twitter Party on Jan 27th 9:00 pm EST. Use hashtag: #ReadYour World to win 10 book packages

    Saturday, January 24, 2015

    The World According to Bella

    Woodland and Lake Buffet

    I love buffets especially the All You Can Eat ones. They're quick, tasty and plentiful. Sometimes I dream about the seafood buffet I found last year on the beach. 

    I have annoyed Mr. C. I guess I was a bit out of control so now I'm back on leash and wearing my E-Collar after grazing on the Woodland and Lake Buffet.  
    We are at the lake for one last visit before heading out West. I can't wait. I love road trips and going new places. I'm ready and almost packed. I just hope Mrs. S doesn't really expect me to wear this silly hat which I can't even keep on straight.   
    So I was really looking forward to this trip up north exploring the vast open spaces out on the frozen lake.  Just as the van door opened, I took a flying leap. My senses had kicked in and I was in overdrive. 
    Where to go first. I bounded down the hill at a breathtaking speed heading for the lake. Several icehouses needed closer inspection. I was not disappointed. Leftover fish skins were scattered about. I had to be quick since Mr. C was close behind screaming "Drop it! Bella, Drop it" But the wind blew his words away. I dug in. But not for long as Mr.C caught up with me, yanked me by the collar, made me drop the fish head clenched in my jaws. He dragged me back up the hill and spoiled my lake feast. I wished I had been quicker but knew I'd be back .    
    Mr. C's idea for an afternnoon walk on the road along the edge of the woods raised my spirits. Now this walk proved to be a woodland buffet, not to be missed.  Animal parts, garbage, bones, fish heads and scales, venison parts and even part of a pineapple kept me busy snacking all the way. It wasn't easy ignoring Mr.C's yelling. He was trying to ruin my fun. I must have overdone the snacking part as later on I got a bad tummy ache. I kept Mr. C and Mrs. S busy. I was sick all night long. 
    The next day Mrs. S cheered me up by reading a funny news story about a dog named Eclipse. I admired how smart this lab was to figure out the Seattle transit system, ride solo and reach the dog park before his owner. In case you missed the story check it out. 
    Mrs. S found a funny poem to go with the news story. 
    Across the Park
    by Francesco Marciuliano
    from book "I Could Chew on This and Other Poems by Dogs."
    I ran all the way across the park
    I ran as fast as I could
    I ran right into bird poop
    Which is in no way as good as dog poop
    And I looked and looked and looked for it
    I started doubting my abilities
    I started questioning my sanity
    I started seeing if the bird poop tasted any good
    I even thought a squirrel must have taken it 
    Which is why I chased them all for half an hour 
    And then I came all the way back across the park
    Panting and wheezing and pelted with nuts 
    Only to find you PRETENDED to throw the ball?!

    Shrimp and Broccoli Stir Fry
    adapted from
    Cook's notes: Asparagus can be substituted for broccoli.

    • 1 TB. Blood Orange Olive Oil or extra light olive oil
    • 1- 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
    • 24 oz. broccoli or broccolini florets (about 5 cups) 
    • 1-2 tsp. sesame seeds
    • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
    • 3/4 cup red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced 
    • optional 1- 8 oz. can water chestnuts, drained and halved 
    • optional orange peels
    • optional 1 cup sliced mushrooms
    Sauce Ingredients:
    • 2 TB. reduced sodium soy sauce
    • 2 TB. oyster sauce
    • 1 TB. rice wine vinegar
    • 1 TB. brown sugar, packed
    • 1 TB. freshly grated ginger or 1 tsp. dried ginger
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 tsp. sesame oil
    • 1 tsp. cornstarch
    • 1 tsp. Sriracha, optional
    • In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, cornstarch and Sriracha; set aside.
    • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until pink, about 2-3 minutes. Add broccoli/broccolini, orange peels and diced red pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 2-3 minutes.
    • Stir in soy sauce mixture until well combined and slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes.
    • Serve immediately over brown rice. Garnish with sesame seeds and green onion.

    Friday, January 23, 2015

    Slow Cooker Beef Ragu

    Julia Child Cooking Tip
    Slow Cooker Beef Ragu

    Cook's notes:
    Slow cooked fall-apart beef in a tangy tomato sauce. I call it comfort food. I always love the way a dish can develop in flavour so much, simply by leaving it to slowly cook away while you can do other things. You can cook the ragu in the oven too if you don’t have a slow cooker at 325 degrees for 1-1/2 hours. 

    • 1 large onion (sliced)
    • 4 garlic cloves
    • 2 celery ribs, diced
    • 2 medium carrots diced
    • 2 TB. fresh rosemary (chopped) or 1 tsp. dried rosemary
    • 2 TB. fresh thyme (chopped) or 1 tsp. dried thyme
    • 2 lb. beef chuck roast, cut into 3 inch cubes
    • 1/2 cup flour
    • olive oil
    • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
    • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
    • 2 cups beef broth-low sodium
    • 1/2 cup dry red wine
    • 2 TB. pearl barley
    • 3 TB. tomato paste
    • 2 cans (14 oz.) Plum tomatoes
    • 12 ounces pappardelle pasta, rigatoni or polenta
    • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
    • Add the onion, minced garlic cloves, carrots and celery to the bottom of a slow cooker set to low.
    • Sprinkle the fresh or dried rosemary and thyme over the top of the vegetables.
    • Dredge beef cubes in flour, season the beef with the salt and pepper and brown cubes in olive oil in a frying pan over high heat in stages, don't overcrowd the meat so it browns nicely. Add seared cubes to the vegetables.
    • Off the heat pour wine into the frying pan and use wooden spoon to loosen all the delicious bits from the bottom of the pan, that's where much of the flavour is concentrated. Cook on low until wine has been reduced by half. Pour the wine into the crock pot along with canned tomatoes and beef broth.
    • Sprinkle barley all over the beef mixture which adds texture and more flavour to your ragu, not to mention fibre and nutrients.
    • Cook on low heat for 6-8 hours.
    • Remove meat and shred using two forks.
    • Serve it on top of creamy polenta, tossed with cooked rigatoni or papparadelle pasta.
    • Use a ladle to pour the sauce from the crock pot over the beef.
    • Top with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

    Bon Appetit!

    that the Naxon Utilities Corporation of Chicago, under the leadership of Irving Naxon, developed the Naxon Beanery All-Purpose Cooker. Naxon was inspired by a story his Jewish grandmother told about how back in her native Lithuanian shtetl, her mother made a stew called cholent, which took several hours to cook in an oven. The Rival Company bought Naxon in 1970 and reintroduced it under the Crock-Pot name in 1971. 
    Slow cookers achieved popularity in the US during the 1970's when many women began to work outside the home. They could start dinner cooking in the morning before going to work and finish preparing the meal in the evening when they came home. In 1974, Rival introduced removable stoneware inserts making the appliance easier to clean. The brand now belongs to Sunbeam Products.
    Crock-Pot or Slow Cookers seem to be making a comeback the past few years. 

    Thursday, January 22, 2015

    More Game Day Party Food Ideas

    A sweet treat perfect for party half time that's sure  to please your guests. 
    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!

    Perfect party food for a crowd The Cuban Sandwich. 
    Makes 8 mini sandwiches and recipe comes from the CHOW

    Rumored to have originated in Cuba or Key West, the Cuban sandwich migrated to Tampa, Florida, and eventually to Miami, growing in popularity along the way. It’s traditionally made with Cuban bread, but Italian or ciabatta bread is an easy-to-find substitute. Ham, roasted pork loin, Swiss cheese, pickles, and yellow mustard are the most common ingredients in a proper Cuban sandwich, but mayo and salami are also common additions. 

    For ease of preparation, the assembled loaf is cut in half here, each half piece is wrapped in foil, and a heavy pot or pan is placed on top to compress the sandwich while it’s toasting.

    • 1 (1-pound) loaf Italian or ciabatta bread
    • 1/4 cup mayonnaise 
    • 1/4 cup mustard
    • 8 ounces thinly sliced deli ham
    • 8 ounces thinly sliced deli roasted pork loin
    • 8 ounces thinly sliced Swiss cheese
    • 4 whole dill pickles, thinly sliced lengthwise
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick), melted
    • Heat the oven to 200°degrees and arrange a rack in the middle.
    • Cut the loaf of bread in half horizontally and open it up like a book. Spread the mayonnaise/mustard on the bottom piece of bread.
    • Evenly place the ham and roasted pork on top of the mayonnaise,then cheese and pickles on the meat.
    • Close the sandwich. Press gently on the top to compact the sandwich slightly. Cut it in half crosswise; set both halves aside.
    • Lay 2 (20-inch-long) sheets of aluminum foil on a work surface. Brush half of the melted butter on the tops of the sandwiches. Place each sandwich butter-side down on the sheets of foil. Brush the bottoms of the sandwiches with the remaining butter. Fold the foil around the sandwiches to completely encase them.
    • Heat a large frying pan on low heat until hot, about 4 minutes. Place 1 wrapped sandwich in the pan. Place a cast-iron skillet, Dutch oven, or heavy pot on the sandwich, push down on the skillet or pot to further compact the cubano, and cook undisturbed for 10 minutes.
    • Remove the skillet or pot and flip the sandwich and place the skillet or pot back on top of it. Cook undisturbed until the cheese has melted and the sandwich is warmed through, about 10 minutes more. 
    • Remove to the oven and repeat with the second sandwich. When both are ready, remove the foil, cut into pieces, and serve.

    Wednesday, January 21, 2015

    Football Themed Appetizers for Your Super Bowl Party

    Maybe you don’t know football from foosball. It doesn’t matter. Why? These football-shaped snacks are so cute, clever and completely compliment-worthy, that you’re going to hop on the Super Bowl party bandwagon just to show them off.

    Cook's Notes: Looking for a fun little treat to serve for game day? This Football Bites (With Summer Sausage, Cheddar & Ranch) recipe is ready to go in 10 minutes!

    • 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.
    Cook's notes:
    Score the winning touchdown with Bacon and Cheese Stuffed Super Bowl Eggs! Your game day guests will gobble these little footballs up in seconds!  Recipe from
    • 6 hard boiled egg yolks (You’ll only need 6 of your 12 yolks)
    • 1/4 cup mayo
    • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
    • 1 dash of hot sauce
    • 1/8 tsp. onion powder
    • 1/3 cup crispy crumbled bacon
    • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
    • 2 Tb. chopped fresh parsley
    • salt & pepper to taste
    • In a bowl or pot, add 1/2 teaspoon of brown icing color to 2 inches of hot water. Mix to dissolve. Gently add the peeled eggs to the brown colored water an shake the pot to coat the eggs. Allow them to sit for at least 5 minutes, shaking a few times.

    • Combine all filling ingredients listed above until well combined.
    Wilton Brown Icing
    • To assemble your football eggs, scoop one heaping teaspoon of bacon and cheese mixture into one half of an egg and place the matching egg half of top. Repeat, stuffing all the eggs. To make the white laces on top of each football egg, place some sour cream into a plastic baggie. Snip a very small amount off one corner and pipe the sour cream laces on the footballs.
    Check out these football party themed appetizers from buzzfeed. Some ideas include:
    Dark Rye and Cheese Balls

    Bacon Cheese Ball

    Asian Prosciutto Rice Balls
    Cheese and Pepperoni Football Themed Pizza

    Cinnamon Apple Muffins

    GET TO KNOW YOUR APPLES Pink Lady , great balance of sweet and tart. Granny Smith , maybe the most popular baking apple. A little more tart ...