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Friday, November 22, 2013

7 Ideas for the Ultimate Family Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and it's time to start planning your day! Do you have any special traditions like cooking the meal together or watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in the morning? With your traditions and these eight things, you can have the greatest Thanksgiving yet!

1. Turkey

It's just not Thanksgiving without the turkey! Make sure you buy your turkey in advance and be sure to thaw it days before so that it'll be ready. And don't burn it! You don't want to deal with any Thanksgiving disasters like you see in movies.

2. Help from the kids 

Get your kids involved with cooking on Thanksgiving. With the main course and all the side dishes and desserts, you'll welcome the help and your kids will love cooking with you! Check out some fun and easy Thanksgiving recipes to share with them.

3. Football 

Football is a staple of Thanksgiving Day entertainment. NFL games are on all day long on Thursday. Gather around the TV and cheer on your favorite team.

4. Healthy side dishes 

With all the food you'll be eating this holiday, it's important to throw in some healthy options. You'll find endless recipes for healthy side dishes and appetizers. Look for some with your favorite ingredients and get the kids to help make them!


5. Shopping 

Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) kicks off the holiday shopping season. Prepare for your trip out by checking the ads online so you'll know exactly what to look for and which stores have the best sales. Or, if you live in a rural area or you're spending the holiday away from home, start your shopping online, wherever you may be.

6. Desserts 

After your big Thanksgiving dinner, you might want a break from food – but no big meal is complete without desserts! Make a variety of tiny desserts so everyone can sample a few delicious dishes without getting too stuffed. And don't forget the pumpkin pie and other yummy pumpkin dishes!


7. Fun activities for your kids 

Without things planned to do, your kids may get bored. Pick out some movies to watch or board games to play as a family after all the cooking and eating is done. If your kids aren't helping cook, let them play video games or watch fun Thanksgiving movies. Keep everyone happy with some fun activities between cooking and eating.


Skylar Michelle James is a woman who loves technology. Currently Skylar is a graduate student in the Boston Massachusetts area. She is writing her thesis on the Internet Philosophy. When she is not studying she is freelance writing about family, event planning, current trends and technology. Please connect with her via twitter @SkyJamesWriter or email.
~This post may contain affiliate links and I'll earn a small commission if you shop through them. There is no extra cost to you. This is how we help support our family and continue to bring you amazing content. To learn more see the affiliates disclosure here.~

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Asian Dumplings from scratch-Craftsy Online Class Review and GIVEAWAY

First off let me tell you about Craftsy

Craftsy is a worldwide craft community offering online classes. It also has a patterns marketplace where independent designers can sell their patterns; a supplies shop with great deals on yarn, fabric, and class kits; and a projects section where members share pictures of their latest craft successes. With over two million members and counting, Craftsy has something for just about everyone, in categories ranging from quilting, sewing, knitting, painting, photography, cooking, and more.

Craftsy Logo

What I like about Craftsy

I was able to review and choose one of Craftsy cooking lessons and let me tell you I had a hard time narrowing it down to which one I would start with. They have so many wonderful classes that you can buy and watch over and over on your own time frame.

Craftsy classes are designed to have all the benefits of an in-person class. Available online and on-demand, you always have world-class instructors at the tip of your fingers. You can retake the class as many times as you want, and the 30-second repeat feature allows you to watch the same section over and over again until you get every technique just right.

Watching a Craftsy class is like having a first-row seat with some of the best instructors in the world. Even better, classes have a 100% money-back guarantee.

 My Class Review-Asian Dumplings

My family loves anything Asian food and buying dumplings or won tons can be an expensive outing. So I thought what a great idea to make your own. I've already can make basic fried wontons and we love them. But this class was like taking a trip around China and Japan learning different techniques and recipes in this Asian Dumpling Lesson.

Favorite Asian Dumplings from Scratch

Andrea Ngyuen, the Instructor learned how to cook when she was young with rice and wontons. She choices you several ways to cook dumplings such as fried or in a broth. But I think my favorite thing to see was the different ways you can fold and shape your dumplings as well as what to stuff them with. The course comes with 8 recipes to download and experiment with in the kitchen. Recipes like Sui Mai, Potstickers and Korean Dumplings as well as making your own dumpling dough.

She inspired me to try Pork Sui Mai at home. This was something I had not done before. Basically they are cutting wonton wrappers into circles and filling them and shaping them into "open bags" as Andrea calls them.

I changed the recipe a bit but used her forming and cooking techniques:
2 lbs. ground pork
can water chestnuts, chopped finely
3 carrots, chopped finely
4-5 whole mushrooms, chopped finely
1 garlic clove minced
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 Cup soy sauce
1 T. sesame oil
1 T. rice wine vinegar
Add all ingredients together until well combined. Add to your wonton wrappers and steam.
They turned out great.



















Watch your Own Free Craftsy Food Class

Now the fun part -Craftsy is offering a Food class to one of our readers for free. There are 19 classes to choose from so the winner doesn't have to choose the same class I did.

Enter the Craftsy Food & Cooking Class Giveaway!
 
Winner will be chosen and contacted by Dec. 5.
~This post may contain affiliate links and I'll earn a small commission if you shop through them. There is no extra cost to you. This is how we help support our family and continue to bring you amazing content. To learn more see the affiliates disclosure here.~

Vegetable Chopper

I wanted to share a super chopper that works great for cooking.

1. It is great for kids to use
2. It makes chopping fruits or vegetables finely so much easier.
Vidalia Chop Wizard









I use it to add vegetables to soups, meatloaves, stir fries, salads, and so on. My kids are more apt to eat small chopped vegetables like these then large chunks.


~This post may contain affiliate links and I'll earn a small commission if you shop through them. There is no extra cost to you. This is how we help support our family and continue to bring you amazing content. To learn more see the affiliates disclosure here.~

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Feasts Around the World with Little Passports

In the United States, the Thanksgiving holiday revolves around giving thanks and feasting on foods like turkey, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie, but it’s not the only holiday that requires an appetite. Take a trip with Little Passports and teach your kids about these food-filled holidays from around the world and see how other countries use food to celebrate.



Iran: Nowruz, the Persian New Year, takes place in March and is a celebration of the first day of spring. The foods eaten during Nowruz are specifically chosen to evoke spring and renewal and welcome the coming year. One of the more meaningful dishes is Ash-e reshteh, a noodle soup made with spinach and green herbs. Untangling the noodles as you eat is thought to bring good fortune in the coming year. Another traditional Nowruz dish, (sabzi pollo mahi), places fish alongside a bed of herb-coated rice. The fish represents "abundance" and the herby, green rice mirrors the greenness of nature in the spring. Other dishes served at Nowruz include lamb and rice-stuffed grape leaves (dolmeh barg) and a green herb-filled omelet (kookoo sabzi).

The United Kingdom: Though he lived over 200 years ago, Robert “Bobby” Burns is a Scottish poet so beloved in the United Kingdom that every year his birthday is celebrated as “Burns Night.” Around January 25th, people across the United Kingdom gather for “Burns suppers” to read Burns’ poetry aloud and feast on the Scottish dish haggis, which was one of Burns’ favorite foods. Haggis is chopped sheep heart, lungs, liver, oatmeal, onion, and spices stuffed and cooked in a sheep’s stomach! Burns thought haggis was so delicious, he wrote an entire poem about it called “Address to a Haggis.”



Sweden/Denmark/Finland: Quickly becoming the most celebrated holiday outside New Year and Christmas for Sweden, Midsummer’s Eve is the time when Scandinavians celebrate the longest day of the year. Midsummer’s Eve takes place during the summer solstice, which is around June 21st. On this holiday, traditional songs are sung, people dance around a decorated pole called the “midsommarstang,” and everyone feasts. One of the most popular Midsummer’s Eve foods is a kind of fish, called herring, that is pickled with mustard and onions and served with boiled new potatoes, sour cream, dill, and chopped boiled eggs. Swedish meatballs, sausage, grilled meats, strawberries and cheese pie are also traditional dishes to eat on Midsummer’s Eve.

Korea: The harvest festival Chuseok is the largest and most important holiday in Korea. This year, starting on September 18th, Chuseok celebrations take place over three days and involve visiting with extended family, giving thanks to ancestors, and dancing. Braised beef shortribs (Galbi jjim), a savory pancake (jeon), and a sweet potato noodle dish (japchae) are foods commonly seen during Chuseok, but because rice is one of the crops celebrated during the harvest festival, the rice cake songpyeon is the defining food of Chueseok. Songpyeon is made from kneaded rice flour and stuffed with chestnuts, red beans, or sesame seeds before being steamed over pine needles. Korean families gather to make songpyeon together and see who can make the prettiest shape.



Greece: On the Greek island of Cyprus, preparation for Lent takes place over two weeks of feasting. Because people abstain from meat during Lent, one whole week before Lent is dedicated to eating great amounts of meat and another to eating cheese. The week of meat is known as “Kreatini” and traditional Kreatini dishes are pork stew (afelia), marinated and grilled lamb skewers (souvlaki) and a dish of baked lamb, tomatoes, onions, and potatoes (tavva). During Tyrini, the week of cheese, people eat various kinds of sweet and savory cheese-filled pastries (bourekia), cheese cookies topped with herbs, bread filled with Halloumi cheese, and ravioli stuffed with local, fresh cheese.

Little Passports will take your family all over the world and teach your kids (and maybe you!) information to help them grow. Their subscriptions start at $10.95 per month and provide a fun and unique learning experience for your children!
~This post may contain affiliate links and I'll earn a small commission if you shop through them. There is no extra cost to you. This is how we help support our family and continue to bring you amazing content. To learn more see the affiliates disclosure here.~

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Breakfast Puffy Pancake

Does breakfast get a little monotonous at your house? It sure does at my house. This recipe is good for a weekend meal as it bakes for about 20-25 minutes.  I usually double the recipe to feed my family and use a large round cake pan.

It is fun to watch the pancake get large and puffy.  As it cools off it will deflate. One time I had the pancake come out looking like an octopus. Super fun right, I used a flower cake pan maybe that was the secret?!




Oven Puffy Pancake
In 13x9 dish melt 4 Tablespoons butter by placing in a preheating oven.
In a bowl, beat together 4 eggs, 1 Cup flour, 1 Cup milk and ¼ teaspoon salt.
Pour mixture into baking dish over the melted butter.



Adult should bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 25 minutes until puffy and golden brown.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar and top with sliced or cut up fruit.

~This post may contain affiliate links and I'll earn a small commission if you shop through them. There is no extra cost to you. This is how we help support our family and continue to bring you amazing content. To learn more see the affiliates disclosure here.~

Friday, November 8, 2013

Road Trip ideas

Are you planning some holiday family trips? Plane rides or car rides here are some ideas to help you along the way.

Have kids prepare an itinerary of the journey. Or at least rewrite it in their own little notebook so they have an idea of what to expect. Something that drives me a little crazy when traveling is having to explain over and over where we are going, layovers, how long it will take it, etc. x3 for each kid. This way they have a good idea on their own what is going on and can consult their own little itinerary.

Prepare snacks to take along with the kids help. Trail mixes, snack mixes, cookies, homemade granola bars, are all portable snacks. For more snack ideas see these two pages:
Healthy Kids Snacks
snacks with 6 or less ingredients

 More Ideas for Car Road Trips

Making the best of a road trip with Little Passports Travel Tips
“Are we there yet?” was a term coined by the family road trip! While new technology and toys may have silenced backseat conversations, spending time together in the car can still be a great opportunity for family bonding and learning. Even if you plan on bringing the latest gadget to pass the time, try saving them for the end of your trip when everyone is tired and cranky!

Here are some ideas from Little Passports that are sure to make the time fly by (or at least go by a little faster

Save your most recent Little Passports delivery from Sam and Sofia for your road trip so your kids to learn and explore during the car ride.
Say goodbye to your trusted GPS ! Bring back the memory of car trips as a kid and use a map! The night before your trip bring out an actual map (if you can find one!) to show your intended route to your child. Even better, copy the map and pull out a highlighter so your child can follow along – and let you know when you missed a turn.

Build in time for pit stops – and if time allows, make short stops that incorporate fun activities along the way. Everyone will need a bathroom break and a meal, but if that happens at a place right off the highway and near playground it can be better for everyone! The kids will get fed – and burn off some energy.

Hit up a dollar store before you leave and stock up on small toys and activities to give to your kids along the way. Every hour let your child choose a surprise – a great incentive for good behavior! You can even wrap the toys for an added element of excitement.

Use this link to make your next road trip educational: Little Passports Travel Tips

Little Passports
~This post may contain affiliate links and I'll earn a small commission if you shop through them. There is no extra cost to you. This is how we help support our family and continue to bring you amazing content. To learn more see the affiliates disclosure here.~

Pumpkin Theme Night

So I've been collected these cute little pumpkins as I go to the grocery store and I'm thinking of doing dinner in a pumpkin. I think it would be really fun for each member of the family to have their own pumpkin "bowl".

We could make it a whole fall celebration with dinner in a pumpkin, apple cider and pumpkin bars for dessert. Maybe watching a movie together eating toasted pumpkin seeds.

Sounds like a pumpkin date!
















Dinner in a pumpkin ideas


Here are some soup recipes to try.
~This post may contain affiliate links and I'll earn a small commission if you shop through them. There is no extra cost to you. This is how we help support our family and continue to bring you amazing content. To learn more see the affiliates disclosure here.~

Friday, November 1, 2013

Taco Snack Mix

Try a little flavor in a simple snack mix by adding taco seasoning and cooking in the microwave.
Here is the recipe: Taco Snack Mix

















More Snack Ideas

Kids Healthy Snacks
List of snacks- print off and add to your fridge for a quick reference
Preschool snacks
Snacks with 6 or less ingredients
More snack recipes and ideas blog posts


Easy Kids Snacks kindle or paperbac
~This post may contain affiliate links and I'll earn a small commission if you shop through them. There is no extra cost to you. This is how we help support our family and continue to bring you amazing content. To learn more see the affiliates disclosure here.~