Rabioli & Salad

This recipe is all mine, and commentary runs throughout…  Feel free to pin!

Rabioli & Salad aka James’s Go-To Meal That Isn’t Cereal

Ingredients

Start with the finest ingredients you can find rushing through the store after work.  True gourmet meals are inspired by mental and physical exhaustion.

  • 1 lb or so of frozen ravioli
  • 1 small can Muir Glen tomato sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 salad kit

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Directions

Carefully prepare the rabioli according to the package directions.

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In our house, an inspired Italian meal can only be made with our well-loved wooden spoon which may be passed down to the next generation in two short decades.  Unless the quality craftsmanship fails.

How do you know when the rabioli is done?  Why, I’m glad you asked!  There are three ways:

  1. By the number of times your toddler runs into the kitchen asking if we’re having “rabioli and salad.”  Or telling you that they like rabioli and salad because it’s “deeelicous.”  Or just the number of times you’re interrupted by your toddler while you are staring at the bubbling pot and wondering if it counts as meditation.

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    Ready to drain!

  2. If all of the rabioli has fought their way to the top and some are busted open.
  3. By using your timer, but that’s a cop-out.

I melt a little butter in the pot while the rabioli are draining, but I’m not going to tell you how to live your life.  You can jump right to the one small can of tomato sauce if you’re avoiding butter for some god-awful reason.

2017-05-21-18-18-35.jpgNow if you’re not avoiding butter 1-2 tablespoons will do ya.  I use unsalted because I don’t want my son ending up on Oprah sobbing over the fact that there was too much salt in his diet when he was a kid.  That, and it tastes good.  Butter and tomato sauce are a good combo.

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Beautiful, huh?

And now… the sauce!  I like Muir Glen, not because they are paying me (they’re not,) but because all of their tomato products are damn good.  Contadina is alright in a pinch, but it’s a bit watery.  I’ve never used store brand versions, which may or may not be the same or better because I’m damn fussy about my tomato products.

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It doesn’t hurt to add our old friends, salt & pepper.  Or just pepper.  The only two people I know who like to salt everything are my husband and my late mother.

Don’t forget about the salad!  Your toddler might not forgive you.  The most complex thing is opening the multiple pouches that are part of the salad kit.

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Classy!

The Results

Gourmet meals, such as this, deserve careful plating.  Because every family dinner is a celebration of high-quality convenience food, I went the extra mile and grated some parmesan cheese for the rabioli.  The parmesan on the salad came in the kit.

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I say… I just spend a whole post waxing poetic about this.  I won’t lie – it is one of my favorites.  You can’t go wrong with “simple” and “remove the salad and it’s my childhood all over!”

James says…

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Don’t let the look on his face fool you.  I tried to replace spaghetti with his rabioli once, and I never heard the end of it.  I’ll post a picture of him enjoying it immensely if I remember to pull out the camera in a timely fashion in the future.  And, yes, my toddler eats salad.  It is strange but true.

Leftover potential… It’s great as lunch the next day.  I wouldn’t make extra with the idea of having leftovers because the sauce can get a little dry.

Freezer friendly?  Only before cooking.

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Live Barefoot in June!

what’s new | spotlight to delight | summer reading club | host an event | become an ambassador | June giveaway| connect with me

What’s New

BFB Baby's First Words
Baby’s First Words, released in April 2017, depicts a multiracial family with two dads living in an urban setting.  The simple vocabulary supports the natural pattern of language development, and the sturdy book is designed for ease of use by the littlest bookworm.  It has been recognized on the School Library Journal’s list of not-to-miss titles published by an independent press.

Pair Baby’s First Words with Everett the woolly mammoth, and you have a wonderful gift for a baby shower, birthday, or just because!

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Spotlight to Delight

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Explore our collection of books about farming, conservation, and the outdoors that will spark conversation about local eating, sustainable living, and life science.

In this collection, you can find titles about beekeeping, gardening, tending chickens, and more!

You’ll also find one of my favorite singalongs about the marine food chain

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Join our Summer Reading Club!

When you sign up for Barefoot Books’ Summer Reading Club, you’ll gain FREE access to the members-only Summer Reading Clubhouse, where you’ll find:
For the kiddos:

  • An exclusive color-in membership certificate
  • A kid-friendly reading log, so your child can track this summer’s adventures
  • The first official Club activity for your child to enjoy

For you:

  • A list of recommended books, highlighting favorite Books for Social-Emotional Learning, Diverse & Inclusive Books, Global Books and Books for a Greener Planet, chosen by Stefanie Paige Weider, MSEd, Early Childhood Education/Infant & Parent Development Expert
  • Expert tips for boosting your child’s literacy, empathy, and global understanding
  • An exclusive, members only, 25% discount on your next purchase!

Barefoot Books Summer Reading Club

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Host a Summer Reading Event

June is a fabulous time to gather all the incredible kids in your life and get them excited for reading adventures!  Host a summer reading or any Barefoot Book event between now and June 30, 2017, and earn double host rewards!  Double host rewards, combined with the 25% members-only discount for joining the Summer Reading Club, and exclusive host specials will bulk up your summer library in a flash!
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Host Specials – June

When your event sales total $300 or more, you’re eligible to purchase one exclusive host special!  Check out our great host specials for June!

Outdoor Escapades!

HostSpecials_0617_Social_960px_OutdoorEscapadesGreat for the littlest explorer!

Will You Help Doug Find His Dog?
An Island in the Sun 
The Sounds Around Town 
I Took the Moon for a Walk

$54 $21.58 for June hosts!

Farmer’s Market

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Adventures in gardening!

Herb, the Vegetarian Dragon
The Beeman 
Millie’s Chickens 
The Little Red Hen 
The Gigantic Turnip 

$48 $19.18 for June hosts!

Celebrate Dads!

HostSpecials_0617_Social_960px_CelebrateDadsGreat for snuggling up with Dad or Grandpa!

Dr. Potts, My Pets Have Spots! 
Shopping with Dad 
Daddy Island
Elephant Dance 
Grandpa’s Garden 

$43 $17.18 for June hosts!

Host Specials – July

Can’t host in June?  No problem!  Here’s a sneak peek at our July host specials…

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Join my team!

Share your love of diverse and inclusive children’s books while earning an income!  As an ambassador, you:

  • Have awesome earning opportunities!  In addition to the commission, you earn free products when placing personal orders, additional sales bonuses, percentages of team members’ sales, and fantastic rewards and incentives!
  • Have access to fantastic resources, such as new ambassador training webinars, monthly community calls, and training on sales campaigns.  There is also an extensive video training library on how to manage different aspects of your business.
  • Are supported by your team leader (me!) and the Barefoot Books Ambassador community!  Check out these ambassador profiles – Liz Hughes is my team leader!
  • Have the ability to grow your business at the pace that suits your life.  Unless you are maintaining a leadership position, there are no monthly minimums you need to meet.

BFB_Facebook_JuneOnlineKitOffer_960px_0617_USThis month only, Barefoot Books is offering an online business kit!  For $39.99, is a small investment to make for a great earning opportunity.  Included with the kit is a FREE ticket to the 25th Anniversary Conference in July, where you’ll be able to meet industry experts in literacy and child development, as well as mingle with the wonderful ambassador community.

Want to learn more?

Connect with me!  I’d love to talk to you about this opportunity.

Join this month’s opportunity call on Tuesday, June 13 at 12 pm EST.

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June Giveaway!

Book an event with me or join my team as a new ambassador in June and receive a FREE copy of the A Hole in the Bottom of the Sea!*
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*Event eligibility:  the event will need to be held on or before June 30, 2017.  Facebook parties will need to close by 11:59 pm on June 30.  You will receive this gift regardless of event sales.  New ambassador eligibility:  you will need to sign up to become an ambassador by 11:59 pm on June 30.

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I’d love to hear from you!

Feel free to contact me using the form below.  If you would like a copy of the 2017 Spring/Summer catalog, please enter your mailing address in the comment box.

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Superhero Bread

The Kitchn is one of the greatest resources for everything cooking, baking, and kitchen oriented.  I found this recipe on their website.

If you’re interested in the results and my life, I wrote a few paragraphs under the recipe and recipe notes.

Superhero Bread (aka Basic White Sandwich Bread)

Ingredients

  • 1 c warm water
  • 2 tsp (or 1 packet) active dry yeast
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 c milk
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt (yes, tablespoon)
  • 5 1/2 c all-purpose flour, divided
  • Canola, vegetable, or other bland oil

Instructions

  1. Warm the bowl of your stand mixer (or any large bowl) by filling it with hot water and dumping it out.
  2. Pour the one cup of warm water into the bowl.  (If you are unsure about whether or not it’s warm enough to proof yeast, start with hot water and then hold off on the yeast until you can hold your finger in the water without cursing.)
  3. Sprinkle the yeast over the top of the warm water. Let this stand for 5 minutes until the yeast is dissolved.
  4. While you’re waiting for the yeast to dissolve…
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    milk mixture!

    1. Take the chill out of the milk by microwaving it for 30 seconds to 1 minute (depending on the strength of the microwave.)  Aim for lukewarm or slightly warm (not hot.)  I find that a Pyrex glass measuring cup works well for this.
    2. Stir the sugar and salt.
    3. Cut the butter into smaller pieces.  Melt the butter in a small dish in the microwave for about 30-45 seconds.  Again, you don’t want hot butter, just melted butter.  You can do this by melting to the point where there are a few lumps and stirring until you have liquid butter.
    4. Stir the butter into the milk mixture and stir until you feel confident that the sugar and salt have dissolved.
  5. By now, the yeast should be proofed up and ready to go.  Add the milk mixture and 1 cup of the flour over the yeast. Stir until this comes together into a loose, lumpy batter.
  6. Add another 4 1/2 cups of flour and stir until a floury, shaggy dough is formed.2017-05-28 07.07.48
  7. Using the dough hook attachment on a stand mixer on medium speed, knead the dough until it is smooth, feels slightly tacky, forms a ball without sagging, and springs back slowly when poked. If the dough is bubble-gum sticky against the sides of the bowl, add extra flour a tablespoon at a time until it is no longer sticky.
  8. Coat a medium or large mixing bowl with a thin film of oil. Form the dough into a ball, place it in the bowl, and turn it to coat all over with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the rise in a warm spot for about 1 hour.  If your kitchen is cold (like mine gets in the winter,) turn on the oven while you’re prepping the dough and stick the bowl adjacent to the oven.  (I don’t recommend putting it on top of the oven as the dough might rise too much.)
  9. After the dough has risen, divide it into 2 (roughly) equal pieces and shape each piece into a loose ball. Let the balls rest for 10 minutes.
  10. Grease 2 (8 by 4-inch) loaf pans with oil.
  11. To shape the dough…
    1. Flatten the dough into a rough rectangle.
    2. Much like folding a letter, fold the bottom up by 1/3, then fold the top down to cover the bottom fold.  Do the same to the left side and right side.
    3. Flatten again and put the top and bottom and pinch.
    4. This process should stretch the top of the dough until it’s taut.  A much better description and tutorial can be found on the Kitchn website.
  12. Put the shaped dough into the loaf pans.
  13. Using a serrated knife, slice a long, shallow slash down the middle of each loaf.2017-05-28 08.40.24
  14. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 40 minutes.
  15. While the dough is rising a second time, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F.
  16. After the dough has risen a 2nd time, place them in the oven and immediately turn down the heat to 375°F.
  17. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Finished loaves will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom and will be brown on the top.

 

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Isn’t this the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?

 

Recipe Notes

On the yeast:  1 packet of yeast is the equivalent of 2 1/4 tsp of yeast.  I’ve done the 2 tsp out of a jar and also used 1 packet (on separate occasions) and did not notice any difference.

On the milk:  I’ve used whole milk and cream so far, and I haven’t noticed the difference between the two.

On making things warm:  

  • My kitchen:  My kitchen runs cold, especially in the winter.  In order to make the space warm enough, I turn on the oven to about 350.  That seems to do the trick.
  • The mixing bowl:  I like to warm the bowl before proofing the yeast so the bowl doesn’t affect the warm water I use to proof the yeast.
  • The milk:  Taking the chill off the milk (making it lukewarm or warm,) helps to dissolve the sugar and salt and prevents the butter from clumping when added.

On the rising of the dough:  There are a lot of recipes that say things like “rise until the dough has doubled in size.”  Well, I tried that and because I lack the skills to tell when something has “doubled in size,” I ended up with dough that smelled and tasted strongly of yeast.  Since then, I’ve been sticking with rising according to the time.

The Results

The first time I made this bread, I felt like a goddam superhero.

And the smell of fresh-baked bread?  Heaven.  Seriously, if I believed heaven was an actual place, I’d think I was in it.

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This was the greatest feeling of success I have felt in a long time.

I say… I’ve never been all that into bread, but… let me tell you… this is fabulous.  Grilled cheese made with this bread is heavenly.  And, as I have said before, every time I make it, I feel like a damn superhero.

James says… I think bread is just bread to him, although it is much tastier when it’s on Daddy’s plate.  (I don’t argue with toddler reasoning.)

On storing…  I was able to keep the bread on the counter in a ziplock bag for about a week.  Beware of moisture as it will grow mold quickly if there’s any in the bag.  We usually keep our bread in the fridge, and it was fine in there for about two weeks.

Freezer friendly?  Heck yeah.  It thaws on the countertop quickly.  It’s not a bad idea to make a few loaves to freeze and have on hand.

 

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You can’t argue results.

 

 

 

Posted in recipes and commentary, staples, winners! | Leave a comment

Sesame Chicken

This is an adapted version of a recipe I found on Life Made Simple, via Pinterest, in an effort to stick it to an economy that’s increased Chinese food delivery prices by 50%.  (I wish I was lying.)  If you’re interested in the results and my life, I wrote a few paragraphs under the recipe and recipe notes.

Sesame Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1¼ cup chicken broth
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • About an inch of fresh ginger root, minced
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch and 1 tbsp. water, combined when the time is right
  • 1½ lbs boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, cut into 1″-ish chunks
  • 1 cup cornstarch, for frying the chicken
  • 2 large eggs, beaten, for frying the chicken
  • 2 cups canola oil, for frying the chicken
  • sesame seeds

Directions

This recipe is time-consuming.  Frying the chicken is a process in and of itself.  I recommend that you cut the boneless, skinless chicken breast into the 1″-ish chunks in advance.  The original recipe calls for ground ginger and garlic powder, which will also save you time, but is, unfortunately, blasphemy.

  • Preheat the oven to 325 and grease a 9×13 pyrex baking dish.
  • Whisk the chicken broth, honey, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, and minced garlic and ginger in a 2-cup glass measuring cup or any vessel that can hold at least 2 cups of liquid.  Whisk it at a couple of different times during the cooking process so the honey and brown sugar mix in well (they probably won’t dissolve completely.)
  • Heat the canola oil in a skillet, dutch oven, or any vessel that can handle frying.
  • Toss the chicken in the beaten egg and then toss in the cornstarch.
  • Fry the chicken chunks until they cooked through.  You may need to fry in more than one batch.  I usually need to do at least 3 batches, due to the size of my skillet.
  • Drain on a paper-towel topped plate.
  • Whisk the 1 tbsp of cornstarch and water and mix it into the sauce.
  • Put the chicken in the pyrex baking dish and pour the sauce over the chicken.  Toss a bit to coat.
  • Bake for 40-ish minutes, stirring at around the 20-minute mark.  (Or not.  It’s not necessary – just nice.)
  • Garnish with sesame seeds because it is sesame chicken, after all.

The Results

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This is my third time making this dish.  The first time, I added too much red pepper and steam poured out of my ears.  The past few times have worked out well.

I say:  This dish is amazing!  It does taste just like takeout and is a whole hell of a lot cheaper.

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James says:  “How wonderfully plated, Mother!  I can’t wait to sink my teeth into this delightful feast that you slaved over.”

Just kidding.

After we coaxed him into taking a bite, he said:  “It’s good.”

Then he said:  “I don like it.”

Then he said:  “It’s delicious.”

Then he said:  “I want yogurt.”

Then I said:  “This is what’s for dinner, bub.”

Leftover potential:  Like Chinese food, it’s great the next day.

Freezer friendly?  I thoroughly recommend cutting up the raw chicken in advance and freezing it, especially if the rest of the ingredients are pantry staples for you.  I’m sure the sauce (without the cornstarch) would freeze well.  You’ll need to thaw both the chicken and the sauce completely before baking.  I’d hesitate to freeze the chicken after it’s been fried as the coating would likely get soggy.

Posted in main dishes, recipes and commentary, winners! | Leave a comment

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

This is an adapted version of the recipe I found on the Baking ChocolaTess, via Pinterest, in a desperate search to find a way to both use up our rapidly browning bananas and a fun muffin recipe I could make with my son.  If you’re interested in the results and my life, I wrote a few paragraphs under the recipe and recipe notes.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 individual-sized cup of applesauce
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Melt the butter.
  • As the butter cools, mash the bananas.
  • Add the applesauce, melted butter, and continue to stir/mash until no chunks of banana remain.
  • Add the sugar, egg, vanilla, and salt and mix until combined.
  • Stir in the baking soda, flour, and chocolate chips until combined and no streaks or lumps of flour remain.
  • Bake around 20-25 minutes or until the tops are brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle of one of the muffins comes out clean.

Recipe Notes

  • On the bananas:  The original recipe called for four bananas.  I didn’t have four bananas, so I looked up replacements.
  • On the applesauce:  I discovered that applesauce can be used as a banana replacement.  This ended up being a nice replacement as it toned down the banana flavor without tasting of apple.  Of course, that might be because I used the Market Pantry (Target brand) unsweetened applesauce in those individual cups.  Homemade applesauce might work a little different if you are the type that makes their own applesauce.
  • On the sugar:  I’m a total sweet tooth, but I’ve found that there are quite a few muffin recipes that take it a little too far with the sugar.  I made one muffin recipe that had almost as much sweetener as flour.  (Yet I still went against my better judgment and made them.)  The nature of overripe bananas is sweet overload, and the applesauce was going to add some of its own.  I didn’t want to take the chance of cutting out the sugar completely, so I halved the amount of sugar listed in the original recipe.  Next time, I’m cutting it down to a 1/4 cup, and I’m going to keep reducing to see how far I can go.
  • A word of caution about muffin tin liners:  These muffins will stick to the liner when they have first come out of the oven.  (I plan to grease the muffin liners next time.)  However, after they have cooled, it’s no longer an issue.  If you have the patience to clean a muffin tin (I don’t,) then you might as well forgo the liners and grease the muffin tin liberally.  (I recommend butter over baking spray.)

The Results

The day before, James had been asking about making IMG_4789muffins, and, as I said, our bananas were getting to the point of no return.  So I popped onto Pinterest for a banana muffin recipe and quickly found one that needed the number of bananas I had (well, ok, I was short one, but I made up for it.)

I woke up on the early side with some decent energy.  My husband went off to do some laundry as our laundromat is at its best at 6 am.  I thought J-man would wake up, so I got the muffin ingredients together.  He still didn’t wake up.  I melted the butter.  He still didn’t wake up.  I think I got as far as mashing the banana and adding the applesauce when I realized this was going to be a one-woman, no-toddler show.

Here they are fresh out of the oven…

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Here they are after 13 hours…

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My husband says:

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I say:  I concur.

James says:  I got chocolate on my pants!

Leftover potential:  Well, 27.5 hours after I made them, they are gone.  So… um, I guess if you have leftovers, pop them in the freezer after a couple of days.  Muffins seem to go stale quicker than your average baked good.

Freezer friendly?  Most muffins are, but I’ll let you know for sure if I ever make enough to freeze.

Posted in breakfast, recipes and commentary, staples, winners! | Leave a comment

A Case Against Greeting Cards

Disclaimer:  If you find true joy in purchasing and sending greeting cards, carry on!  This post was written for those who feel obligated to do so.

I’m about to say something blasphemous.

Mother’s Day is a sham.

A real holiday is one where there is no work and a huge feast involved (presents optional.)  Mother’s Day (and Father’s Day) is one of those obligatory “holidays” where one feels compelled to purchase flowers, ties, and greeting cards.

Greeting cards are just wrong.

These things should be at the top of “ways to cut corners in your budget” lists.

Think about what greeting cards are.  What they truly are.

They are pieces of folded cardstock with drawings or pictures and include someone else’s written sentiments.  These pieces of decorated cardstock can run upwards of $5 per card.  The really fancy Papyrus ones run around $10.

Unless you’re writing your own heartfelt sentiments in them (most don’t,) they serve no purpose and basically just exchange a couple of hands from printing press to the recycling bin.  And when they’re mailed?  Another 40-odd cents is spent on top of the $5-10.

Look, I get it.  We were all raised with this whole card-giving politeness thing, but even I remember when greeting cards were under a $1 (granted, I’m 43…)  So now people feel compelled to continue to give them, even though we all sort of know that they’re going get tossed in a pile until the receiver does the next paper purge.

Some better uses for the same amount of money or less:

  • An actual gift.  Seriously, take that $5 and toss it on a Starbucks/Dunkin Donuts/whatever gift card.  If you want to mail it and don’t want to stick it in an envelope by its lonesome, grab a small piece of paper or a post-it note and write “thinking of you” or “avoid the turbo shot” or whatever.  That will raise more excitement than a piece of cardstock that someone will feel bad about recycling six months from now.
  • A text message.  Gifts are not necessary for everyone.  When you get to be old and crotchety like me, the meaningful gifts tend to only come from the people who know you well and love you lots.  If you want to honor someone’s birthday or an inane holiday like Mother’s Day, send a text.  There are so many emoticons and icons to choose.  You can take your own photos and create something funny with them.  (I like PicsArt, but phones are getting so fancy that your text messenger may let you edit photos.)  There’s also Facebook if you’re into sharing sentiments publically.
  • A phone call.  I wasn’t going to suggest this because I hate the telephone.  I have auditory processing issues, which make phone calls torture, but there are people in the world who love the phone and would value calls over cardstock any day of the week.
  • Electronic greeting card.  So maybe you feel compelled to send a card.  Blue Mountain lets you send fun electronic cards for free.  It will give the receiver an opportunity to view and enjoy without the added clutter.
  • Family photos.  Ok, these do cost money to print and send, but faces of loved ones are more fun to look at than a bunny doodle and a sappy poem.

If you decide to forgo greeting cards (and I encourage you to do so if you are only sending them out of obligation,) you’re going to have some family members and friends who might be pissed.  These are typically the folks who feel that you should be following social norms at all times rather than daring to question them.  These are probably the folks to whom you should send family photos or a gift that is of equivalent value as your average greeting card.  That should placate them.  (Hopefully.)

 

 

Posted in proceed with caution, screw the status quo | Leave a comment

Hunger Strike Muffins

I found this recipe on Simple Moments Stick via Pinterest.  I can’t take any credit for the name (or the recipe) – that’s all Susannah.  Check out the original recipe – the story behind the name is cute.

If you’re interested in the results and my life, I wrote a few paragraphs under the recipe and recipe notes.

Hunger Strike Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1/8 c honey
  • 1/8 c agave syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 c shredded carrots
  • 1/2 c frozen blueberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  If you have the patience to clean muffin tins, grease.  If you are lazy like me, muffin liners work a charm.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, stir the flour, baking soda, ground cinnamon, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the butter, honey, agave, vanilla extract, egg, and applesauce.  I used my beloved Kitchen Aid, but an electric hand mixer works, too.
  4. Fold the dry mix into the wet mix until no streaks remain.  Try not to mix too much.
  5. Fold in the carrots and blueberries.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of one of the muffins comes out clean.

Recipe Notes

On the honey/agave mix:  The original recipe called for 1/4 cup of honey, but we are not damn Rockefellers.  Plus, when I was cleaning out my pantry yesterday, I noticed I had a 1/2 a bottle of agave that I used for energy balls or something, and I remember it being as bland as hell.  These muffins have other ingredients that can pick up the slack, so a basic, bland sweetener works just fine.
On the frozen blueberries:  When I added the blueberries, I remember thinking that I should have found/used baby blueberries or something like that.  When I re-read this recipe, I noticed that Susannah had chopped her frozen fruit (she used blackberries)… Have I ever mentioned that I have difficulty reading recipe instructions?

The Results

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I hate packing lunch for my son for daycare.  I’m currently stuck with this tedious chore three days per week.  It’s a good thing that he’s not even three because I’ve been in a yogurt-fruit-crakers or cookies rut.  I’ve been on the hunt for some healthy muffins so I can get into the yogurt-fruit-healthy muffin rut.

I’ve got a few muffin recipes, and it’s tough to find ones that aren’t cake-in-muffin-clothing.

I say:  Wow!  I wasn’t sure about the 100% whole wheat flour, and I was surprised by the amount of stirring it held up to (just combining is the instruction on most muffins.  Apparently too much handling is problematic.)  It was lightly sweet, hearty, and soft (in spite of the whole wheat flour.)

Update:  My husband is officially a fan.  He warmed one up right out of the freezer, ate it up, and then asked me why they’re called Hunger Strike Muffins.

James says:  Well, he’s not quite 3, so not much.  When they first came out of the oven (and had cooled enough,) he’d had too much toast prior to me offering him one, so he was more interested in putting the muffins back in the tin than tasting one.

 

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He counted them, too, so this was basically an educational experience.

I attempted to put one in his lunch, and it looked like he took a bite.

Leftover potential:  I popped them in the freezer pretty soon after I made them, and I recommend it.

Freezer-friendly?  While these are definitely best fresh, they hold up pretty well.  However, if you grab one out of the freezer, try to eat it that day.  I left mine in the work fridge for a couple of days (in Tupperware) and it went stale.

Posted in breakfast, kiddo lunch, recipes and commentary, snack | Leave a comment

Amalgam Coleslaw Dressing

This one was created by me after I reviewed about 10 different coleslaw recipes.

If you’re interested in the results and my life, I wrote a few paragraphs under the recipe and recipe notes.

Amalgam Coleslaw Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mayonnaise (for heaven’s sake, use mayo)
  • 1/4 cup of sour cream (it will surprise you)
  • 2 TB dijon mustard
  • 2 TB apple cider vinegar
  • Scant 1.5 TB sugar, more if you like it a little sweeter
  • 1 tsp minced onion
  • 2 tsp celery seeds

Instructions

  • Mix ingredients together in a bowl that can hold at least 2 cups.  I recommend using a bowl with a cover.
  • Cover the dressing and stick in the fridge for at least a couple of hours, preferably overnight.
  • Toss dressing with coleslaw mix, cabbage, put it on salad or ice cream or whatever tickles your fancy.

Notes

I am very fussy about coleslaw.  I am not a big fan of mayonnaise, and most of the coleslaw I’ve ever had was too sweet.  My favorite coleslaw is from Blue Ribbon BBQ, a local bbq joint with fantastic food.  I attempted to emulate that dressing by reviewing way too many coleslaw recipes.

The longer this dressing sits, the better it gets.  I’ve attempted making coleslaw about a 1/2 hour before dinner, and it ended up tasting like mayonnaise (ick.)  I let this batch sit for 24 hours before tossing it with the bagged coleslaw mix and it was amazing.

Leftover potential: I ate this about three or four days after I made it, and it tasted a little bitter.  I’m not sure if it was the dressing or the combination of dressing and coleslaw mix.

Freezer friendly?  Not sure about this one because of the mayo and sour cream.  If you decide to take your chances, I’d like to hear how it worked out for you.

PS – Amalgam is a snobby word for “mixture of different elements.”  I am a fan of snobby words.

Posted in main dishes, recipes and commentary, sides | Leave a comment

10 Little Monkeys, Mainstream Style

This little gem popped up on my Facebook newsfeed from Huffington Post Good News.

It is definitely hilarious.  I was part of two attachment parenting groups, and… well… let’s just say that the satire was well deserved.

I have discovered, however, that the most pot shots that are taken (both humorous and decidedly not) are against the alternative sect of parenting.  It’s time mainstream parenting gets a little poke.

So, I present to you, Jennifer’s version of ‘5 Little Monkeys’ Every Mom Will Relate To:

Ten little monkeys jumping on the bed,

One fell off and bumped his head.

Momma asked the Mom group and the Mom group said:

Give that kid a smack.  I WAS SPANKED AND I TURNED OUT OK.

***

Nine little monkeys jumping on the bed,

One fell off and bumped his head.

Momma asked the Mom group and the Mom group said:

I read the results of a preliminary scientific study in the Huffington Post that was dumbed down for me, and it said that lack of sleep leads to all sorts of behavioral issues.  Have you tried sleep training?  My precious poppet was sleep trained at 6 months, and she sleeps peacefully in her crib for 12 hours straight.

***

Eight little monkeys jumping on the bed,

One fell off and bumped his head.

Momma asked the Mom group and the Mom group said:

You should enroll your child in toddler gym, karate, art enrichment courses, and the kindergarten preparation classes taught by Kaplan.  That will keep him busy, and it’s never to early to prepare for Harvard!

***

Seven little monkeys jumping on the bed,

One fell off and bumped his head.

Momma asked the Mom group and the Mom group said:

You think this is bad?  Wait until he’s a threenager.

***

Six little monkeys jumping on the bed,

One fell off and bumped his head.

Momma asked the Mom group and the Mom group said:

Create a reward chart, so every time he doesn’t jump on the bed, he gets a sticker.  Then he can use the sticker to “buy” treats from you!  Behaviorism is AWESOME!

***

Five little monkeys jumping on the bed,

One fell off and bumped his head.

Momma asked the Mom group and the Mom group said:

That child needs structure and a strict routine.  I saw on Nanny 911 (or maybe it was on It’s Me or the Dog?) that a consistent routine turns children into little cherubs who never jump on beds, or argue with their parents, or express dangerous forms of creativity that will prevent them from getting into Harvard.

***

Four little monkeys jumping on the bed,

One fell off and bumped his head.

Momma asked the Mom group and the Mom group said:

You should really get him on Ritalin.  My toddler started exhibiting signs of ADHD that young, too, and we were prescribe it by his pediatrician who has no training in psychiatric medicine.  It’s life changing!  (This recommendation is brought to you by the fine folks at Novartis. Create zombies.  Live well.)

***

Three little monkeys jumping on the bed,

One fell off and bumped his head.

Momma asked the Mom group and the Mom group said:

You know you’re not supposed to leave your precious poppet alone for even 30 seconds!  What if he got kidnapped by a band of roving psychopaths who break into houses and steal children.  I saw it on Fox News Boston, so it must be true!

***

Two little monkeys jumping on the bed,

One fell off and bumped his head.

Momma asked the Mom group and the Mom group said:

He’s just looking for attention.  It’s best not to give it to him, even if he’s bleeding.  He’s got to learn to take care of himself at some point!  You don’t want him coming to you asking for stuff when he’s 4 or 20 (gasp!)

***

One little monkey jumping on the bed,

He fell off and bumped his head.

Momma asked the Mom group and the Mom group said:

Get off the damn computer and stop listening to all this bullshit.

 

If you do not like what I have to say, the following responses are inappropriate:  death threats, name calling, insulting my son or any member of my family, or anything else that you would not say to my face.  It is a sorry state of affairs that we live in a world where this disclaimer is even necessary.

Posted in the insanity | Leave a comment

That thing about breastfeeding…

Ok, so a longitudinal study about the benefits of breastfeeding were disseminated and it nearly broke the internet.  Some pro-breastfeeders used (and probably will continue to use) it as a Nelson-style “HA! HA!”  It also brought out to super offended and defensive formula feeders.

I could go on and on about the reasons why American moms are weaning completely or supplementing before their babies turn 1 year old.  I could also go on and on about how our entire culture claims ownership of a woman’s body when, quite frankly, it’s none of our business how each individual woman decides to handle her own sexuality, reproduction, and the like.

The truth is that our culture has always been obsessed with perfection, but that obsession has officially filtered down to parenting.

Our culture wants to see parents do everything they can to grow the perfect child.  From eating only kale while pregnant to prep classes for preschool, we’ve lost our fucking way.  And do you know who the biggest losers are?  Our kids.

There are a full 18 years before a child starts voting.  12-14 of those years include formal schooling (unless you decide to opt your kids out.)  Adulthood carries on for another 60 or so years.

So answer me this… why:

  • do we expect women to obsess over every little thing that passes her lips during the entirety of her pregnancy?
  • do we expect women to exclusively breastfeed for any length of time?
  • do we expect families to enforce “no screen time before 2” in households where getting dinner on the table in the evening is an insurmountable challenge?
  • do we expect children to do academic work in kindergarten?
  • do we expect children to be proficient in reading by the end of the first grade?
  • do we expect our teenagers to overschedule themselves to the point of illness to “get into a good college?”
  • do we expect our 18-year-olds, or anyone, to even go to college?

Before you answer, bear in mind:

Women in food insecure areas still manage to give birth to healthy babies.  Our grandmothers gave birth to healthy babies during the overprocessed “Wonder Bread” fifties and sixties.

We have several generations of mostly formula fed babies, and yet people still managed to graduate from Ivy League schools.

There is at least one, and almost two generations where living room couches surround TVs.  Even though we didn’t have Netflix in the 80’s, our parents had no problem sitting us in front of Saturday morning cartoons.

Kids didn’t regularly start attending kindergarten until the 70’s, and then it was all playing.  In fact, there are many states where kindergarten isn’t even compulsory.  (The starting age of compulsory education in Massachusetts is 6 years old.)

To start the first grade in the 70’s and 80’s, children needed to know their address and phone number and be able to be away from their parents during the school day.

Early academics have not shown any really gains by the age of 11.  In countries like Finland, children don’t even begin formal education until they are 7.

There are some trades that bring in good money and don’t require a college education (like car repair and HVAC.)  We’re currently experiencing degree-inflation, which means you will soon need a doctorate to be eligible for entry-level work in certain professions (without an increase in entry-level salary.)  We now have a whole generation saddled with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt for what is the equivalent of a high school diploma.

Let’s give our kids a break.  Let them grow on their own timetable, have their own dreams, and live their own lives.  Most importantly:  let’s stop obsessing over every single little thing we do.

Posted in proceed with caution, the rants