This may by far be my strangest post yet, but indulge me: Monkey loves carnivorous plants. Fascinated by them. As a result, we all know about not just venus fly traps but also pitcher plants, waterwheels, and sundews.
And so, like any good mother, I try to feed my son’s interests (sorry, couldn’t help it!) plus inject a little fun into the whole proceedings.
Thus, our carnivorous plants food art – enjoy!
Carnivorous Plants Food Art
Venus Fly Trap
Ah, those poor little beans, caught in a clever tortilla trap!
Note the trigger hairs inside the trap itself. Watch out, raisins! You don’t want to touch those!
Ay, poor cranberries, caught in a sticky honey trap!
The hapless raisins, forever stilled by the plant’s evil jello walls
And finally, the innocent chocolate chips take a final slide down the slippery ice cream slopes to their doom.
I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central for Save Mart Supermarkets. I received Thomas Cookware items to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
No matter how much I try to plan ahead, weeknight dinners seem to always be rushed in our house. So I love having a healthy, yummy dish like these Weeknight Parmesan Noodles I can pull together quickly for my kids – with minimum cleanup! Best of all, it’s something both my boys love to eat! Seriously, if it were up to Monkey, we would have this every night!
Recently I made Parmesan Noodles (see recipe below) with my new Thomas Cookware from Save Mart. I loved that it was so easy to make in a single pot – I didn’t even need a colander! The lid is cleverly built so that it’s also a strainer, saving me a cooking step plus one less dish to clean – priceless! And when time came to wash the pot, I got an extra surprise with how easy it was to clean.
Thanks to Save Mart, now through January 20, you can earn this high quality cookware simply by doing your regular grocery shopping. Every $10 you spend earns you a bonus stamp, which you can use towards your choice of pots and pans from Thomas Cookware, exclusively at Save Mart Supermarkets!
I love participating in rewards programs, and this is a great one. Why not put your dollars to work earning you some great new additions to your kitchen? Cook like a pro with this top quality cookware!
I am always impressed with how friendly and helpful the staff are at our local store, and how open and airy it is. Save Mart carries all the name brands we find at other stores, often at lower prices. Plus we ran into some fire fighters in our recent trip, which I consider a high stamp of approval!
And now on to the recipe! Enjoy this quick but tasty weeknight version of the kid classic macaroni and cheese!
Weeknight Parmesan Noodles
Makes two generous kid-sized servings or three adult side servings
1/2 lb pasta
Butter or margarine, approx. 1/2 T
Grated Parmesan cheese, approx. 1/4 c
Cook pasta according to package directions. Strain noodles then stir in remaining ingredients and serve.
That’s it! Hope you enjoy as much as my Monkeys and I do!
As a busy mom to two active young kids, I spend most of my day on my feet – cleaning, cooking, changing diapers, wiping noses, or running around the park. It is easy to get burned out this way, so I try to remember an important lesson I learned from my own mother and take some time for myself to recharge and regroup. I often tend to just go go go and sometimes need a reminder to take time to just sit and relax. This is good not just for me but also for my kids, who get to have a happy, refreshed mom to play with! It’s also crucial for them to learn by example that everyone needs time to rest and take care of themselves – even Mom!
As fall approaches, my favorite way to do this is to curl up with a mug of this yummy vanilla oatmeal steamer, a family recipe from Costa Rica. Known as atol, it is also a favorite kids’ drink. It is nutritious, with all the benefits of milk and oatmeal, with just a touch of sweetness.
Spiced Vanilla Oatmeal Steamer (Costa Rican Atol)
Milk (whole milk is best for real creaminess) – approx 1 1/2 cups per serving
Oatmeal (either instant or rolled, depending on desired consistency)
Dash of vanilla
Cinnamon sticks (or can use powdered)
The exact amounts of each ingredient depends on your preference. For example, I like a lot of oatmeal, while others like just enough to thicken the milk. As seen above, powdered cinnamon can be used, though it will give the drink a light brown color.
Mix all ingredients in a small saucepan and hit on medium-low heat, stirring constantly until thickens. Remove cloves and cinnamon. Serve warm! Best enjoyed with your feet up and eyes half closed 🙂
Though many families are preparing for the start of the school year, we are still enjoying warm, sunny weather here. One of our favorite ways to savor these last, lazy summer days is by enjoying a cool, frozen treat. Monkey and Baby both love ice cream, but this is only part of the tale. There are so many other wonderful icy delights you can enjoy – here is a just sampling:
Beyond Ice Cream: Frozen Treats Around the World
Many of us here in the United States grew up with sno cones. Frances from Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes introduces us to a different version of sweetened shaved ice from Puerto Rico – piraguas! She tells us that you can find carts selling this popular treat in every park and neighborhood!
This post is part of the World Cup for Kids project from Multicultural Kid Blogs. Each time Iran plays, I will be doing a post on some aspect of that country’s culture. Today I am sharing some summer treats inspired by Persian cooking!
This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission. I appreciate your support!
Some of my best memories from childhood are of Persian cooking – delicious rice dishes (mmm, tahdig!) and delicately spiced sweet treats. But integral to this was the hospitality and generosity inherent in Persian culture. Years later, when I was a homesick college student, this would mean even more, as Persian mothers in our local Bahá’í community would graciously take us in and feed us heaping quantities of delicious food, as we basked in their attention. (Btw, if you are so lucky as to be invited to dine at a Persian home, you will quickly learn that it is futile to refuse any food or drink, no matter how full you are! It is best to surrender to your fate and just enjoy yourself completely :)).
Because it is summer (and because I am a fraidy cat about attempting Persian cooking!) I decided to try some cool treats with my kids. For this I drew from a wonderful cookbook by Najmieh Batmanglij, the woman considered by many to be the best expert on Persian cooking. She has many great cookbooks, but for this I used Happy Nowruz: Cooking with Children to Celebrate the Persian New Year. Yes, I know that the Persian New Year (celebrated on the first day of spring) has already passed, but she has great kid-friendly recipes in here that can be enjoyed year round. (For another great source of Persian dishes, try My Persian Kitchen!)
Monkey loves popsicles and ice cream, so I immediately draw to Ms. Batmanglij’s versions of these – what a perfect way to celebrate the warmer weather!
Her pomegranate popsicle recipe is super easy – but when I spied the ready-made pomegranate drink on the shelf at the store, I decided to make things even easier by just using this to make popsicles, rather than making my own batch from pomegranate juice, lime juice, etc. Next time I would like to try her full version, but for now this was just right for us.
I will warn you that these are a mess! That beautiful deep ruby color is not so pretty when seen on your furniture, so I would recommend enjoy these treats outside! Even so, my Monkey looked more like a wolf pup when he was feasting on these, with the dark red liquid dripping down his little chin.
For the next treat I deviated completely from her recipe, simply because we do not have an ice cream maker. We do, however, have a Yonanas Ice Cream Treat Maker, which makes it easy
to make healthy frozen treats for your kids. (You can also make the recipe below with a high quality blender, though I prefer the Yonanas). The key to making this diary-free “ice cream” is bananas. (Not in Ms. Bajmanglij’s original recipe!) The flavor really isn’t very strong, but the bananas really add a great creamy texture that mimics real ice cream.
Inspired by Persian sweets, I decided to add pistachios, plus some cardamom and rose water. The pistachios were easy to find (especially here in California!), and the cardamom and rose water are sold at many ethnic grocery stores. We found ours at the Indian store nearby. (Now I can make this rose water cheesecake I’ve been drooling over for quite a while!)
Dairy-Free Pistachio Ice Cream
*Note* The proportions are all to taste, particularly for the flavorings. If you are not familiar with them, I would suggest just adding a bit at a time and taste as you go.
3 very ripe bananas, cut into chunks and frozen
1/4 c. unsalted, shelled pistachios (can freeze these as well)
Dash of cardamom
Splash of cooking rose water
Mix bananas and pistachios in your Yonanas or blender. Add cardamom and rose water to taste.
This post is part of the World Cup for Kids project from Multicultural Kid Blogs. Each time Costa Rica plays, I will be doing a post on some aspect of that country’s culture. Today I am sharing about one of our favorite snacks!
Many countries throughout Latin America have some version of the empanada – the hand-held savory pastry that has echoes of the Indian samosa and Cornish pasty. The Costa Rican version is made with corn meal and is typically filled with a black bean mixture or just cheese, as in the recipe below.
If you visit with families in Costa Rica, chances are you will be treated to these tasty snacks, which kids there love (including mine!) They are usually served mid-afternoon, along with a good cup of coffee (for adults) and agua dulce for kids.
Here is own you can make your own! Keep in mind this is something that is usually made more by feel than by following a strict recipe:
Costa Rican Empanadas
Couple cups of masa harina (corn masa flour) (We use Maseca)
Pinch of salt
Spices (Often crumbled cubito – bouillon cube – and a dash of Salsa Lizano. We also like adding a bit of garlic powder)
Grated white cheese (We use Monterey Jack)
1. Mix together the Maseca, salt, and spices then slowly add water until you get a dough-like consistency. (This for me is always the difficult part, determining when the masa has just enough water without getting too soggy).
2. Pinch off a small portion and form into a ball. Flatten into a disk. (There are tortilla presses you can use, though many people just use a plate. It also helps to form your disk on a piece of plastic or wax paper, which makes the folding in Step 4 easier).
3. Layer grated cheese onto one side of the disk, leaving a margin of roughly 1/4 inch.
4. Fold over to form a semi-circle. Pinch together the edges.
5. Fry in an inch or so of oil, turning halfway through until golden on both sides. Drain on paper towels and serve warm.
Traveling with young children is challenging in many ways (though also rewarding!) For me, one of the hardest parts has always been deciding what to pack.
Young children in particular require a lot of gear, but you don’t want to be lugging around more than you have to – especially since you will also probably be carrying your little ones at some point! There are, however, some things that are worth bringing because they will make your life so much easier, like these great new on-the-go products!
Here is my list of essentials to pack for travel with kids:
1. Favorite Foods and Snacks
Yes, travel is a wonderful time to encourage your child to try new foods, but keep in mind that for young children it can be stressful to be out of their routines, even if it is something they enjoy. Having a few favorite foods from home can help ease the transition. While you don’t want to overdo this, we have found that having a few familiar snacks actually makes Monkey more willing to try new things.
2. Healthy and Specialty Foods
If you have a child on a special diet, you need to consider bringing with you foods you know they can eat. (Here are great tips on for families with food allergies). If you are traveling internationally, specialty foods are increasingly available (especially in large cities/tourist spots), but it is often a question of how much of your vacation time you want to spend searching for these items. The same can be said for all-natural convenience foods. In our travels abroad I have found that often foods labeled “all-natural” contain more sugars and additives than their American counterparts. Again, you can probably find what you want in either the very large chains or the small specialty shops, but why waste valuable vacation time on this endeavor? In your decision try to balance the following factors: destination (and your familiarity with it) and length of stay. If you are not staying for very long, and you are not familiar with the area, you may decide it is worth using the slightly more sugary versions, for example, while for a long stay it might be worth throwing a few healthy snacks in your luggage. Keep in mind that for many international destinations, fresh fruits are available in abundance – the ultimate convenience food!
Babies go through a looooot of diapers. I am so used to using cloth diapers that I often forget how true this is! We do use disposables when we are on the road, and I am constantly surprised by how often we have to go to the store to restock. Usually we pack enough to get us through the first day or so then buy in great quantity once we arrive, to lessen the number of shopping trips we have to make. However, with my older son I had to do a little more planning, as he had very sensitive skin and would break out in a rash if we used generic disposable diapers. Yet all-natural diapers are often difficult to find when traveling abroad – and even when you do find them they are not exactly the same as what you are used to at home. (Not to say they are better or worse, just different, and with a highly sensitive child, “different” often equals “bad”!) So instead what I would do was pack an extra package of diapers from home, and space them out throughout the trip, so he was periodically given a break from the new diapers. Also, it was well worth it to bring plenty of his favorite diaper cream. An extra tube doesn’t take up much room, and that added layer of familiar protection will mean a lot to your baby’s bottom!
Speaking of bottoms, a baby’s isn’t the only one to suffer when you are on the road. Often when you travel you end up using facilities that aren’t exactly up to the standard you are used to, so it’s great to have products that really help you feel fresh. Cottonelle Flushable Cleansing Cloths On-The-Go Soft packs and Clean Care Toilet Paper are the perfect wet-and-dry combo for when you are on the go. And I love that the cleansing cloths are flushable – one less mess for me to worry about! The cloths come in soft packs that are easy to throw into the backpack or diaper bag, and it’s easy to stash a roll of the toilet paper in the car. This combo is especially great for summer day trips to the splash park or the beach! Our favorite park, for example, has port-a-potties rather than actual bathrooms, and I feel so much better cleaning my boys (and myself!) off with these convenient products.
5. Emergency Supplies
You never want to be caught in a health emergency without essential supplies. I have a mini-first aid kid in our backpack and a larger one in our car/suitcase. Again, you can find all of these items in pharmacies around the world, but you don’t want to waste precious time searching when someone you love is ill. Here is a great how-to on creating an emergency kit.
6. Strollers and Carriers
Carriers are an essential for babies and young toddlers. Carriers are so easy to pack and allow you to be hands-free. Plus, being so close to you is very comforting for kids when in a new place, and it’s an easy on-the-go way to get them to sleep. Strollers are great but are very bulky, so this is really a personal preference. When Monkey was a baby, it was worth it to us to bring his big stroller because it gave us a break from carrying him, plus it provided a safe, clean place for him to sleep when we were out and about. Once he got older, we switched to an umbrella stroller, which is much lighter and easier to take along. With two kids, now we have opted to bring a foldable double stroller. I thought it would be a pain to bring, but it was well worth it for us to be able to easily push both kids through the airport and on long walks.
What are your essential travel supplies? What do you prefer to leave behind? I’d love to hear your stories!
It’s time again for my monthly post for “Around the World in 12 Dishes,” the series in which each month participating bloggers travel the world with their kids by cooking a dish from another country and perhaps reading a book, doing a craft, or learning fun facts about it.
I won’t repeat the recipe here, because I really want you to visit my friend’s lovely blog to read the original recipe. But I’ll just note for those of you converting from metric that the 1 kg of flour she calls for is 8 cups! I opted to do a half batch instead, which was plenty for our little family, even with Monkey and I downing several as soon as they came out of the oven.
As usual, the dough didn’t rise for me like I’m sure it would for anyone else, but it rose enough to make the dough workable. It was so fun rolling the little triangles into crescents!
My main mistake was that I forgot about the egg wash. Completely. It would have added wonderful flavor plus given them that golden glow. Without it they did look a bit lackluster, but luckily they still tasted great (though I did keep wondering, What if? Wouldn’t they taste even better…?)
Ready for the Oven
My second (lesser) mistake was to forget to buy any cool toppings. So again, the principal taste of the rolls wasn’t affected, but it did take away from the overall presentation.
In any case, we have been enjoying them for breakfast, and even with my oversights, I like them well enough to give them another try sometime – this time with the egg wash!
It has been a busy month (when is it not?), so we didn’t do a craft this time, but I did find out about a couple of famous Croatians I thought would be of interest to my little scientist:
Nikola Tesla (remember the band?) is well known for his work with electricity and developed the Tesla coil, which became widely used in radio and television sets. He even has a scientific unit (the “tesla”) named after him!
Andrija Mohorovicic is less well known but significant to my Monkey for his work on the behavior of seismic waves and a method for locating earthquake epicenters.
Source: Cultures of the World: Croatia, Robert Cooper, 2000, New York.
Check out the other participating blogs to see what they have been cooking up:
If you try a dish from Croatia, we’d love to hear about it! And don’t forget to download this month’s placemat and passport! You can also link up your dish or craft here to share your post on all the participating blogs:
This post is part of “Around the World in 12 Dishes,” the series in which each month participating bloggers travel the world with their kids by cooking a dish from another country and perhaps reading a book, doing a craft, or learning fun facts about it.
I have a confession to make: I have a thing for bad boys.
You know the type. The ones that promise you the stars and the moon only to leave you with nothing.
Each time it is the same, yet each time I tell myself this time will be different.
Even though I know it won’t be.
And so, when I saw this Portuguese beauty on Pinterest, I know I would fall for him, but I also knew it would end in disaster. Yet, this time…
… I was wrong.
Yes, I am talking about bread – or more specifically, any bread product that is supposed to rise. I love baking, yet making a good loaf of regular ol’ bread has always eluded me. I can make quick breads from here to the Iberian Peninsula, but whenever I try anything with yeast in it, it is a miserable, misshapen failure.
Still, I keep trying new recipes and have pinned dozens more. So I had little hope that this time would be any different. And yet…
But as Monkey and I shaped the dough into balls (he decided to make his into “eggs”), I tried not to get my hopes up. The recipe had been too easy! Surely with so little kneading these rolls would be a disaster…
But when I pulled them out of the oven, there they were in all of their golden glory. Sure, they probably would have puffed up more for someone else, but they tasted great and looked good, too!
Now, I must admit that to my American taste buds they were a bit plain, but perhaps it is because – as noted in the original article – they are often enjoyed as a mini-sandwich of sorts, with butter, ham, and cheese.
Monkey ate his with jam, while I enjoyed mine with both butter and honey, and with cheese. Yum! I will definitely make these again and perhaps next time play around with some variations, like adding raisins and cinnamon.
So for once, things worked out! Even from this great distance, Portugal has been good to me. Be sure to also take a look at our Portuguese-inspired artwork! Check out the other participating blogs to see what they have been cooking up:
If you try a dish from Portugal, we’d love to hear about it! And don’t forget to download this month’s placemat and passport! You can also link up your dish or craft here to share your post on all the participating blogs:
This post is part of the Backyard Barbecue Blog Hop. For details and to link up your own posts, see details below.
Few things evoke childhood summers for me like berry picking. As kids we picked blackberries in the hills behind our house in rural North Carolina , and years later we found them by the side of the road by our grandparents’ cottage in West Virginia.
Now, I am continuing that tradition with my own family, driving up to the foothills of Northern California to a small, family-owned farm to find juicy blackberries waiting for us on row upon row of towering bushes.
Part of that tradition, of course, is devouring as many fresh berries as your stomach can hold, but we also manage to save quite a few to make one of the most anticipated treats of the summer: homemade blackberry pie.
Over the years I have tinkered with recipes I have found online in order to craft the one shared below. It is sweet, but not to the point of overwhelming the real star of the show: the blackberries themselves.
So whether you find your berries growing wild, or at the Farmer’s Market, or in your grocery store, I hope you enjoy making them into this delicious pie.