Monthly Archives: July 2011

There’s always money in the banana stand… (wink wink)

These frozen bananas bring back memories of Balboa Island bananas. Not so frozen you can’t bite into them (like the ones at Disneyland), but still cold & delicious on a hot summer day! The best part about this one is that your kids can dip their own!

Please allow me to explain the use of the Christmas sprinkles.

You see, I followed my own advice & invited some new friends over for dinner Sunday night. I had dinner enough for 4 adults & a Munchkin, but had no idea what to do for dessert. The movers neglected until the last minute to tell us they wouldn’t move food items, so we’ve been slowly restocking baking staples since we’ve been here, & after the previous day’s cobbler I didn’t have much left! Plus, my oven is still refusing to decide how much cooler than real life it actually wants to be, so baking was definitely out of the question.

I was having quite a quandary (like the alliteration there?) when I was going through my Google Reader & saw this great idea over at Talkin’ Chow Playin’ House! Saved! I had bananas, chocolate chips, & some white candy melts I smuggled down from the old apartment. Perfect! But what to decorate them with? I had some sliced almonds… Wait! I’d smuggled Christmas sprinkles too! & only Christmas sprinkles, apparently. So there you go. Christmas frozen bananas. In July. Hey, we’re in Florida, aren’t we? Isn’t it always like 90 degrees on Christmas here?

  1. Cut ripe (but not too ripe) bananas in half, one half for each person.
  2. Use really sharp scissors or wirecutters to snip the pointy ends off of your skewers (one for each half banana), then cut them in half. Poke two into the bottom of each banana half & lay them on parchment paper on a cookie sheet, plate, etc.
  3. Freeze for at least an hour. We ate ours after an hour & a half or so & they were still quite biteable!
  4. Put your chocolate chips in a microwave-safe dish. Add a little oil. (If using candy melts, omit the oil.) Microwave a minute or so & stir until smooth.
  5. Let everyone roll/dip/drizzle their banana in the chocolate & decorate as desired. It doesn’t have to look great (see above) – just taste delicious.
  6. Enjoy!

P.S. If you recognized the quote in the post title, let’s just say My Husband The Recovering Arrested Development Fan & his college roommates would salute you.

Tidy Mom

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Preparing your child for a move. (Part 2 of 2: Settling in.)

We’ve been here a week now & only have a few (granted, giant) boxes left to unpack! Hooray! It feels a lot better than where we were 3 weeks ago. Or even a week & a half ago:

Yikes!

Now that we really are settling in, I thought now would be a good time to post part 2 of my “preparing your child for a move” series. Part 1, before the move, is right here.

The Munchkin playing in the boxes before the move... Recognize the beer boxes I talked about in the last post?

Here some ideas about how to help your kids adjust to your new home & neighborhood:

  • When you & your stuff first get to your new place, let your child help unpack & decide where something should go in her room. This can give her a sense of control when things are crazy.
  • Set your kids’ rooms up (the furniture, at least) right away. Especially if you’ve been driving a few days, it’ll feel good to be reunited with your stuff. Plus, sleeping in a new, big, empty room is creepy.
  • Try to get pictures back up on the walls again as soon as possible to make it start feeling like home.
  • As you unpack, talk about what’s better about your new place: “There are so many shelves in your new room for all of your toys!” etc. (The Munchkin’s new room is so cavernous we need two nightlights just to see at night! Whereas ours is barely big enough for our bed & dressers. How is that fair?)
  • Even though things are hectic, try to get involved in your new community as quickly as possible to make new friends. Congregations in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, known as wards, are organized geographically. So as soon as we knew our new address, we were able to find out which ward we would belong to! If you’re not LDS, find a church or temple to attend. Involve your children in lessons, Gymboree, or after-school groups to meet the other parents & help your kids make friends.
  • Speaking of making friends, teach your child how to introduce herself to new people.
  • Just like before you moved, try to take a little while off from unpacking to give your children attention. Take an hour or two to drive around your new town. Find a new neighborhood pizza place to call “yours” (we just found ours!). Locate the library & get a library card. Go play on the playground nearby!
  • Once you get more settled in, if you feel up to it, hold a housewarming party & invite people from your new community!
  • Even with all the craziness, try to stick to naptime & bedtime routines as much as you can. With everything else changing, it’s helpful to have a familiar routine to hold onto.
  • Understand that certain milestones like potty training & sleeping through the night may regress or suffer setbacks for a little while during this transition. Your kids might start acting out a little more than usual (ours sure did) too. It’s normal.
  • Lastly & most importantly, emphasize that no matter where you live, your family will be together, & that’s what matters!

works for me wednesday at we are that family

 

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Award-winning (!!!) peach-strawberry cobbler.

Yesterday was Pioneer Day, a holiday that commemorates the day in 1847 when the Mormon pioneers first entered the Salt Lake Valley. It’s a state holiday in Utah; everywhere else, Mormon wards put on picnics/barbecues/etc. to celebrate. Our new ward had a barbecue & “Dutch oven” baking contest on Saturday. (“Dutch oven” is in quotes because entrants were instructed to bake it in their ovens at home, then bring it in a Dutch oven. I used my Le Creuset Dutch oven. It still counts.)

Meet: the winner! Ta-da!

This recipe originated from The Princess & the Frog: Tiana’s Cookbook: Recipes for Kids, was modified by Tina at Mom’s Crazy Cooking, & then re-modified by me & my unfortunately still wonky (that Indiana-ism is the only word I can think of that can accurately describe it) oven.

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 cups diced fresh peaches (I wound up having to freeze half of mine because produce gets to the store a little riper down here than in the Tri-State Area; they still worked fine)
  • 1 cup sliced fresh strawberries (ditto)
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup cold milk (I used 2%)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 (or prepare your campfire, if you’re ambitious enough to be all “authentic”). Use a pat of the butter to grease the inside of your Dutch oven.
  2. Melt remaining butter in the microwave. Set aside.
  3. Combine fruit in a small-ish bowl & sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. of the sugar. Stir gently & then set aside to macerate.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, & salt. Add remaining sugar, milk, & vanilla; stir until well blended. The batter will be (perhaps alarmingly) thin.
  5. Pour the melted butter into the batter & whisk quickly until just combined. The batter should be a little thicker now. Pour immediately into the bottom of your Dutch oven.
  6. Gently spoon the fruit mixture into the batter & lightly press it partway into the batter.
  7. Bake (uncovered if you’re using the oven; covered if you’re using a campfire) about 1 hour, or until top is golden brown. Serve warm. Win a baking contest!

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Indoor S’mores.

I’m in gas-oven withdrawal. The stove/oven in our new place is electric, & I’m having a hard time with the whole “patience” thing when it comes to getting water to boil. Plus, the barbecue chicken I made for dinner tonight was pretty much raw. Joy. So I’m in the process of making my first batch of chocolate-chip cookies in the new oven to try to calibrate the darn thing. Please let it be something simple, like being a few degrees off or something.

In the meantime, here’s another “recipe” from before we moved. That word is in quotes because it’s really not a recipe — just a housewife desperate for something sweet to eat after The Munchkin’s in bed that doesn’t involve getting dishes dirty & that helps polish off some of the stuff in her pantry before moving.

Let’s make S’mores! Without the campfire!

All you need is a graham cracker, a marshmallow, & some glorious Nutella. Sliced bananas would also be spot-on — but we didn’t have any. Give it a try though; I promise you’ll love it.

On a paper towel, of course, because we’re trying not to get dishes dirty, remember? Except for the knife we used to spread the Nutella, which our hypothetical housewife immediately licked clean enough to eat off of anyway… Hypothetically.

Now we take the marshmallow half & nuke it for 10 seconds — just until it puffs up. Any longer than that & it’ll blow up & you’ll spend the next hour scraping hardened marshmallow off of the inside of your microwave. (Childhood experience with Peeps informed that little tidbit…)

If you’re daring enough to get a cookie sheet dirty, putting this baby under the broiler in you oven would give it that delicious, campfire-esque toastiness you might be looking for.

Lastly, just smush the two halves together! The Nutella makes it even meltier & oozier than a Hershey’s chocolate bar. You can thank me later.

Now, who can help me relearn how to cook in an electric oven??? So far it looks like it might be as much as 25 degrees lower than it says. Help!

Tidy Mom

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Slow-cooker fajitas.

We’re back online! It feels so good to have Internet again. We’re still getting settled in, & I’m having a hard time finding places to fit everything inside my tiny kitchen (I may or may not be keeping my spices in a cardboard box for the moment & some of my baking dishes in a linen closet; how ironic that our NJ kitchen was larger!), so no kitchen or craft experimentation just yet, but I do have one recipe that I photographed in our old kitchen & didn’t have time to post before we rushed down here.

When The Munchkin was tiny, she was really tiny. Nursing was a two-handed job just because she was so small, so my long list of books to read while nursing turned into countless hours of DVR’d movies & TV shows in the middle of the night. I barely left the living room sofa. My daytime lineup included several cooking shows, like Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee. This recipe is adapted from one of hers. In addition to being wonderfully easy, this is a great recipe for picky eaters who have a hard time with texture; the veggies get nice & soft in the slow cooker.

Slow-Cooker Fajitas

  •  2 lbs. beef round steak, sliced thin (I just buy the pre-sliced stir-fry beef)
  • 2 pkts. fajita seasoning
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 green peppers, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1/2 cup plus a splash of apple juice
  • whole-wheat tortillas
  • sour cream, cheese, etc., for serving

(I make a half recipe for us, so that’s why one of the peppers is missing.)

To slice your peppers without getting the seeds everywhere, use Ina Garten’s method (which I also learned from my nursing days in front of the TV): Hold your pepper with the stem up on your cutting board, then cut around the core using a large chef’s knife. Discard the core, seeds, & all, when you’re done. No mess!

  1. Add sliced veggies to the slow cooker; toss with 1 packet of seasoning.
  2. Add steak slices on top, seasoning those with the other packet as you go to make sure that the beef is relatively evenly coated. I don’t use the whole packet; it’s plenty seasoned with less. But you can choose how much to put on.
  3. Pour the apple juice over the top.
  4. Cook on low 8-10 hours.
  5. To serve, warm tortillas in the microwave, then use metal tongs or a slotted spoon to add meat & veggies. Top with sour cream, cheese, & whatever else sounds tasty!

works for me wednesday at we are that family
Cast Party Wednesday

36th Avenue

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Potstickers

Hi all! We made it safe & sound to our new apartment on Friday night & our stuff followed Saturday, but we won’t have Internet until Wednesday. Thankfully, my awesome sister-in-law Lisa is back posting another delicious recipe in my absence! Take it away, Lisa!

I am from the throw-it-in-the-pot-and-hope-for-the-best school of cooking. I look at most recipes as guidelines, and don’t particularly worry about the end result being perfect.

Potstickers are perfect for experimenting. There are only a few steps to actually make them. First, make a filling. Second, spoon the filling onto the wrappers. Third, fold and seal the wrappers. Fourth, cook and eat! This process is time consuming, so that is why I usually make a large batch and work with a friend.

So, for the filling, your options are endless. I prefer pork, while you could use chicken, tofu, or whatever you prefer. If you use meat, be sure to get it ground so it is easier to mix with the other ingredients. We added shredded cabbage, carrot, and green onions. You will also need a binder to help it all stick together. In this recipe, we used about a teaspoon of sugar and about 2 tablespoons each of soy sauce and warm water mixed together. I have also used sesame oil with a dash of chili oil in the past.

Filling ready to go.

Make sure not to put too much filling in the wonton wrappers. They won’t seal and when you cook them, the filling will come out into the pan. Generally, less than 1 teaspoon of filling is a good guideline.

Don't use too much filling!

To seal the wrappers, dip your finger into a cup of warm water and wet around the edges. You will need to make a pleat in one side of the wrapper as you seal it to the other half to keep excess air out of the potsticker.

Ready to cook or freeze.

At this point, you have a couple of options. You can cook them all first and then freeze, or you can freeze first and cook later. If you want to cook first, put enough vegetable oil into a pan to just cover the bottom. Heat on medium heat until water dropped in makes the oil spit. Place the potstickers in the oil and brown on three sides. Then add about one-quarter cup of water and put the lid on. Steam for about four to five minutes.

If you would like to freeze the uncooked potstickers, line them up on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan that has been lined with waxed paper and floured. You can add another layer on top, just be sure to generously dust the first layer with flour before adding an additional piece of waxed paper. Freeze for 1-2 hours and then you can transfer them to a gallon size freezer bag.

Cooking frozen, uncooked potstickers is a little different. You can still cook them in the pan, but don’t steam them or they will just fall apart. I usually finish them in the microwave to be sure the filling is cooked. A deep fryer also works. It takes about 5-7 minutes.

You can use plain soy sauce for dipping, or add a dash of lemon juice for a little kick.

Our recipe used:

1 lb ground pork        1 green cabbage
2-3 carrots                   several green onions
soy sauce                      sugar
water                              2 pkg. wonton wrappers.

This made about 100 potstickers.

I don’t have any pictures of the finished product because we ate them too quickly.

Have fun experimenting!

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Top 10 things I’m going to miss about NYC.

I’m late posting today. I also happen to be in Maryland at the moment, on what is quite possibly the slowest Internet connection ever. The movers asked to come a day early (yesterday), & decided at 1pm today that they’d be delivering our stuff in Florida on Saturday, so we left at 4:40pm, just as rush hour traffic was starting to pick up. Fortunately, we made good time, & The Munchkin only got to bed… 2 hours late. Yikes.

Everything happened so fast I honestly haven’t had much time yet to wax sentimental about my favorite city in the world. But I thought I’d post a few of the many things I’ll miss about New York, in no particular order, & that you shouldn’t miss if you come visit.

1.) This view:

2.) The food. Great Italian everywhere, great bakeries everywhere. We’ve been told that “the water’s not right” in Florida for either of those things. Hearing that made me die a little inside. Here are just a few of our favorites: burgers, chocolate, pasta, & pancakes.

3.) Magnolia. Belongs in a class of its own.

4.) Snow! Not limited to NYC, obviously, but I love it in spite of the fact that it often makes walking in the city pretty gross. It’s still fun, & so magical to watch it start falling amid all the lights of the city.

5.) Holidays. Especially Christmas at Macy’s.  From fireworks on the 4th of July to the Macy’s Parade on Thanksgiving, to Easter Egg hunts in the park, the city just knows how to celebrate everything with style & gusto.

6.) There is always free stuff to do! We used the events calendars at Mommy Poppins & Parents Connect (I’m going to be using that second one after our move too; they have dozens of cities on there) to find fun new things to do for free just about every single week! We also love ALL the playgrounds EVERYWHERE! No matter where we went or what we did, there was almost always a great park nearby! (No picture, thanks to Slowest Internet Ever…)

7.) Public transit. Yes, taking the car is often more convenient, especially with more than 1 Munchkin, but it just isn’t as FUN! Trains, subways, ferries (we avoid the buses because we hate traffic) — what’s not to love if you’re a kid? (Also no picture, thanks to Slowest Internet Ever.)

8.) Broadway. We got to go on dates to Mamma Mia! & How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying with Daniel Radcliffe & John Larroquette. We also saw Phantom & Wicked when we were here on our honeymoon 5 years ago. I’ve been in (well, under — I was in the pit orchestra) lots of musicals, & there is nothing like Broadway!

9.) The “dinosaur bones museum.” This is one of The Munchkin’s favorite places in the world. We got to visit one last time with one of her playgroup friends while the movers were here yesterday. (Slowest Internet Ever won’t let me upload the photo though, so here’s an old one.) We hope she likes the aquarium in Tampa almost as much!

10.) Obviously we’re going to miss the people the absolute most. We’ve made a lot of friends here. This is the first time The Munchkin has been old enough to make any real friendships; she says all her friends’ names almost every day, & she looks forward to church every week so she can see them all at Nursery. We also love how personal the city (& its surrounding environs) can be. Even though it seems big, loud, & scary at first glance, once you really get in there, it’s just such a personable place! We loved walking into the diner or bodega (small market) near our apartment & having the waitresses & checkstand girls greet The Munchkin by name. We loved being greeted by the security guard at the front desk every time we enter or leave the building, & The Munchkin loved getting a cookie at the Italian bakery when we went to get our weekly pizza dough. What a friendly place!

New York really is my favorite city. I love Hoboken too. If you are planning a visit, email me! (See my “About” page for the address.) I’ll send you my guide to “doing” NYC on the cheap with kids & then live vicariously through you as you enjoy the city!

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