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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Learning Knife Skills

Learning how to use a knife for kids, and adults, is something that is easier to learn once you've visualized how it is done correctly.

I'm happy to see Craftsy has a new free mini cooking skills class:
Learning Knife Skills



Gather your kids and watch it together and you can all learn proper knife skills.
~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.~

Monday, January 27, 2014

Chicken Green Bean Mushroom Casserole - Crockpot


I found a great recipe for the crockpot which I really love using. How about you, do you have a favorite recipe in the crock pot?

2 lbs chicken, boneless skinless or shredded chicken
1 bag (16 oz) frozen French cut green beans
1 pkt dry onion soup mix
1 box (8 oz) fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 cups of water
1 pkt (8 oz) cream cheese, softened room temperature

Cut the chicken into 1x3 inch strips, approx.
Put all the ingredients (EXCEPT cream cheese) into the crockpot and stir to combine.
Turn crockpot on to LOW, cover, and cook for 5 hours.
Remove cover and stir in cream cheese. Replace cover and continue cooking for 20 to 30 minutes or until cream cheese sauce is hot and bubbly.
This is similar to a traditional oven-baked green bean casserole with added chicken, but done easily all together in the crockpot.
Will serve 4 to 6.


We added the chicken and green beans on top of rice.


~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, January 24, 2014

Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year and Year of the Horse! Take the opportunity to cook up some fitting meals to celebrate with your family. See our Asian Recipes here.


Stella Ma, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Little Passports shares her family's annual Chinese New Year traditions!  

I grew up in a fairly traditional Cantonese-speaking family, and Chinese New Year has always been a very special holiday for me. As a young child, I knew Chinese New Year took place around the beginning of the year, but I didn’t fully grasp that the date was tied to the lunar calendar. I recall my mom pulling out a large Chinese calendar book and flipping through the pages to find the exact date.



Our excitement built as the day approached and preparations were made. We cleaned the house before the holiday because we didn’t want to risk “sweeping” out good luck after the New Year. By the same logic, we observed not washing our hair on New Year’s Day for fear that we might wash away good fortune.

Lots of planning went into getting ready for the traditional New Year's Eve family reunion dinner. I particularly enjoyed the shopping trips my mom and I took to Chinatown to purchase the special ingredients. The food we served was auspicious and symbolic, with the names of many of the dishes sounding like the Chinese pronunciations for “good fortune," "happiness" or "longevity.” Dishes and ingredients included chicken, roast pork, Chinese “hair” fungus, lettuce, dried oysters and fish. My favorite dish, which involved a labor-intensive mincing of many ingredients, was the dried oyster lettuce cups (with the Chinese name of the dish sounding like “good business”). I would stand next to my mom and watch her take great care as she prepared all the ingredients. When we got a food processor, I thought it would finally bring my mom some relief, but she still insisted on hand-chopping everything.



We always started New Year’s Day with a special vegetarian meal. Because my dad left early in the morning for work, I would go to bed excited, knowing that my mom would wake us all up around 5 am so we could share the meal as a family. In the morning, we would wish my parents a happy new year and good health for the coming year in Cantonese and then we would eat a piece of candy to ensure sweetness for the new year. My mom would give us lycee (red envelopes) filled with lucky money. After breakfast, we would dress in something red to symbolize good luck and head off to school.

The weeks following involved visits to my relatives where we would bring and exchange bags filled oranges, sweets and other treats. It was a multi-week rotating house party! When I moved out and got married, I appreciated the annual tradition of coming together as a family to celebrate even more. Every year, I call my parents on the morning of the new year to wish them a happy new year. It’s tradition that only married couples give out red envelopes, so I find myself always scrambling to get them prepared and feeling extra lucky if I managed to get brand new bills from the bank. (I no longer observe the “no washing hair” tradition, and my mom looks the other way.)



As a mom myself now to two young boys, I cherish sharing and passing along the traditions. On New Year’s morning, I give my sons each a piece of candy with their red envelopes. Being given candy for breakfast makes them feel like they have the best mom ever! They also love going to Chinatown and watching the lion dancing, and we’ve had many ad hoc lion dance performances at home using makeshift drums and lion costumes fashioned out of blankets.

Gung Hay Fat Choy (as we would say in Cantonese, or in Mandarin, Xin Nian Kuai Le) to the Little Passports community!
-Stella
Add some fun and educational ideas to your World Studies Unit with Sam and Sofia. 

Bring Little Passports into your child's life in 2014 to teach them about all of the fascinating cultures around the world!
~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, January 23, 2014

Do your kids love veggies?

Everyone knows that veggies are good for you, but how do you teach kids to actually LIKE the stuff? Well, it is possible. Here are a few pointers.
Don’t let kids think green stuff is bad. That’s right. If everyone in your family eats broccoli and doesn’t make a big deal out of it, your child won’t realize that anything is amiss. This includes both parents. If one parent happens to really hate that poor innocent broccoli, maybe that parent needs to re-visit the yumminess for themselves. Kids notice everything, and if the veggie in question never appears on someone’s plate, they will know. 

Have a “Try It” rule. All vegetables, new and old, must be tried at least once (or twice, depending on your rule) every time it appears on their plate. The standard excuse of "I tried it last time and didn't like it" will not work. In fact, studies show that repeat exposure to new tastes and flavors is often necessary before kids will like a new food item. In other words, the more often they try it, the greater the chances that they will like it until, one day.

Have a grocery store adventure where each person has to pick out a new vegetable to try. Make it a game. Research the vegetable in our food facts section. Also look for printables to color, the history of the vegetable, its origin and cultural traditions or even the tastiest way to cook and eat it. Involving kids increases your chances that their curiosity will be piqued. Jicama is a great veggie to test out this way. It is unattractive and resembles a potato. In actuality, you peel it like an apple, slice it and dip it in low-fat ranch dressing.

Think of creative ways to cook each veggie. If you have only ever served zucchini raw, try it sautéed in butter or olive oil. You can even make zucchini bread for a healthy snack. Cauliflower is good steamed and sprinkled with a little parmesan cheese and Italian breadcrumbs.

For younger children, host a family “color” night. Plan ahead and serve only foods in that color. Purple cauliflower or yellow squash might slide right by when the little one is having fun. The point is to make a game of it and not let anyone have the chance to think about it and complain. Print off our fruit and vegetable color nutrition chart. 


Brave a messy kitchen and let them cook. Most kids learn by doing and this is no exception. For younger children you can start by mashing cauliflower instead of potatoes or even adding vegetables as ingredients to other dishes for older 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.~

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Stock the Freezer for School Lunches

So today I'm getting ready to send my kids back to school after a long break and one thing I like to do is stock the freezer for school lunches.

Here are some of my kids favorites:
Muffin recipes
Granola Bars
Hamburger Rolls
Mini hamburgers/sliders
Energy Bars
Pizza Rolls











I have each of my kids choose a recipe and we prepare it, cut them in bars if needed and freeze them in small sandwich bags.
This makes mornings easier for all of us when they can grab something from the freezer and it will unthaw by lunch time.

What do you like to have on hand for your kids school lunches?

More Freezer Cooking Resources

  freezer cookbook
Freezer Cooking Ebook- Over 100 recipes for freezer meals!

Visit freezer meals for more information on how freezer meals can make life easier for you and your family.
Stocking the freezer with hidden vegetables.
Stock the freezer for school lunches
What are freezer meals and why use them?
~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.~