A little Summer in a Winter Dish

I know peaches are summer fruit but my daughter begged me to buy bag of frozen ones for her, something I rarely purchase.  She does snack on them but that bag is not going anywhere soon so what else could they be used for, Hm....? I rooted through the freezer and found some chicken drumsticks. Then I went to the pantry and found half a bag of dried plums (ya, ya, we all know what they really are even a name change can't take away the stigma of being a prune)

I rooted around for more ingredients like red onion, bay leaves and some chicken stock. I was only using what I had on hand, just to be thrifty! 
I hate to throw away food so if I can freeze meat for use in soup stock later I will. Most foods loose integrity in the freezer but for soup I will take the chance.

We just love stewy saucy stuff in our house and it was cold and rainy so I created this dish.  It is simple but elegant and kid friendly.   This is so easy and really tasty, I tossed the chicken and peaches in frozen. The peaches give this just enough acid to balance the sweet dried plums, but you could add a drop of acid like lemon juice to take it up a level.  If you are trying to expand your child's taste buds stick with the recipe but if you are making this for grown ups add a dash of lemon or balsamic vinegar for a zing.

Sunshine Chicken
If your chicken is not frozen then cut cooking time to about 45 minutes.

6 frozen chicken legs
1 red onion, sliced into 1/2 inch moons
1/2 cup pitted prunes, halved
1 tablespoon celery seed
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup frozen peach halves 
4 garlic cloves, peeled whole
salt / pepper
1/2 cup water or vegetable stock

Preheat the oven to 300˚F.
Lay half of the onions in the bottom of a 4 quart dutch oven.
layer the ingredients in the pot salting and peppering as you go.
Pour liquid over the ingredients and cover.  Cook covered about 1 1/2 hours or until chicken falls off the bone. Uncover for the last fifteen minutes to brown the chicken.

Serve with rice.

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Orange You Excited for this Bento?

A while back I wrote a post about the fun items you can use to make bento lunches.  Many of you asked me to post some of my bentos, well here we go.....
I pack lunch very fast, I am not one of those bento artists, although I do aspire to be someday!
My bentos usually take a total of 15 minutes and I do have some more detailed ones but the photos were not up to par,  in the future I will have more for to show. The reason I am showing this one is because it is simple and made from ingredients you probably have on hand.
Making bento lunches inspire me to fit in healthier food, because in bento making it is all about making the food fit in the box. I love bentos because I get to use up all those pesky scraps, like one lone strawberry that I just had to save, or some cheese chunks that my frugal side can't part with.  Bentos are great for using up leftovers too like a few beans or half a hot dog.  If you were to put a few beans or half a hot dog in a zip top baggie it would probably not be received well, but in a bento it just looks cute and on purpose.  Maybe I love bentos because my lunches as a kid were so dreadful (sorry mom) I want my daughter to have like lunch-y goodness at school.
I remember the crinkled brown bag with the half stale peanut butter sandwich, I hated jelly so that was my poor luck!  Back then we used wax bags that didn't seal so half the sandwich was always stale. It usually contained an apple, although I loved apples, one a day got a bit boring....plus no one ever wanted to trade for an apple.  The best part were the chocolate chip cookies on occasion they went well with the school milk. My lunches ended up being pretty unhealthy too, if a trade was discussed it was for chocolate milk or a Ho Ho.
I decided that I would not put my kid through the embarrassment of being the kid with the lame and lunch.  So I may have gone overboard but at least the box comes home empty!!
So I bento....
We went to Japan Town and I let her pick her own box out, I would not have chosen that particular one, but then again I am not the one eating out of it every day.
We discussed the size, and how easy it was to open, then we went to get some of the fun stuff like tiny soy sauce containers, bandanna's to tie it up with and those cute little divider papers. You can see some of those things in my previous post.  This bento I am showing is made for eating quickly, the kids lunch is short so I try to make everything easy to eat. Instead of peeling an orange, which takes time I slice them up.  
So there you have it, easy creative and quick and affordable. If you do not have an authentic bento you can use plastic containers or recycled margarine containers. As your child grows the bento will too, this is a good amount of food for a 5 year old but as they grow they need more.
Just try it and see for yourself if bentos are for you.

In the first layer of this bento we have:
blood oranges
one strawberry
chick peas in a silicone cup

In layer two we have:
Sliced turkey rolls with - Sesame Sprinkles (Gomashio) pinned with small character picks
A few leaves of crisp lettuce
Bread cut into shapes (you can add spread or make tiny sandwiches)
A few cubes of jack/cheddar cheese to take up space

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Go Crackers with Mary!!

Marys Gone Crackers
This was originally posted on The Celiac Kid.

I love Mary’s Crackers, they are seedy and not in a bad way in a delicious crispy way.

If you are gluten free and have a hankering for a cracker these may satisfy you and your kids. They are a great company they even donated a crackers for my book release party and we were so happy to have an alternative snack!

“Mary's Gone Crackers, Inc. is committed to manufacturing the best tasting wheat-free and gluten-free baked goods using the highest quality, organically grown ingredients. Mary developed the recipes for her delicious gluten-free products beginning in 1994 when both she and her son were discovered to have a gluten intolerance.”

Her crackers are made with organic brown rice, organic quinoa, organic flax seeds and organic sesame seeds. They come in 5 flavors: Original, Caraway, Herb, Black Pepper, and Onion. For kids the original flavor seem to be the hit, it is mild enough for kids but just flavorful enough for grownups.

Mary’s just came out with some new shapes and flavors called Sticks and Twigs. They have the same ingredients as the original crackers but new flavors have arrived.

The new flavors are Chipotle Tomato, Sea Salt, and Curry. Soon to be released is Cinnamon for the sweet tooth. The crackers are packed with Omega-3s, and healthy, seeds and grains. These are a great alternative to chips or bland GF crackers.
Marys Gone Crackers Sticks & Twigs
We kid tested the new Sticks and Twigs her was our result:

Sea Salt: has a nice salty flavor without being overly salty.

Kid comment: “Yum!”

Curry: great curry flavor, a bit spicy for little mouths. I have to say the curry flavor dose not resemble a stick or a twig, we will just leave it at that. You can see for yourselves…

Kid Comment: “Yum! I need some water…these are too spicy mama!”

Chipotle Tomato: Really flavorful, nice spice smoky, a bit different. Nice with Hummus.

Kid comment: I did not have my daughter try these they are much too spicy for little kids.

I’d love to see BBQ, or Pizza flavors next.

When your diet is restricted, options can be tough but these crackers come in handy to go packs so you can have something on hand. All in all we love them!

Marys Gone Crackers

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Does Sugar Equal Love?

As Valentines day approaches I was racking my brain for kid friendly treats we could make. All that came to mind were sugary cookies, sticky treats and chocolate, chocolate, chocolate! My daughter came home with a big bag of candy from the school party, so I felt like making more sweets was overkill.
I considered, red bread, pink soup and even a strawberry buckle. We finally decided on crackers, I knew that all the kids wanted to do was use cookie cutters to make heart shapes so crackers seemed like a great idea.

The best part is that they could flavor the crackers how ever they want using that crazy childhood creativity! Remembering that this is a Valentines Day project I wanted to incorporate pink or red. I remembered I
had some beetroot powder and although it is somewhat rare, it is available. Look in the bulk spices section of your natural foods store. It does not have too much flavor, so we used it. It looks great and the girls loved it!
Our favorite combo was the beet powder and Japanese curry and a pinch of salt.
Let the kids try different flavors let them be adventurous.
So have a great Valentines Day, try not to eat to much junk and tell someone you love them!

Homemade Rice Crackers
We used regular cream of rice cereal the kind you get in the cereal isle. Bob's Red Mill makes great Organic Brown Rice Farina which we use all the time for savory dishes. (That is a whole other post) You can use what ever you like, but for kids I think the smaller the grain the better the cracker. You can always process rice in a food processor to a fine grain if you don't have the cereal.

1 1/2 C. Cream of rice, regular or 
Quick cooking* 

1 C. All-purpose flour 

2 tbs flax meal or 1 tbs seeds
1/4 c Sugar 

1/2 teaspoon Salt 

4 tbs (1/2 stick) butter or 
Margarine, ice cold 

2/3 C. Milk

Rice flour or all purpose flour for rolling out dough
Kosher salt
Topping ideas:
Beet root powder
celery salt
curry powder
cumin seed

Preheat the oven to 325~ F. 
In the food processor, combine the cream of rice, flour, flax, sugar, and salt. Drop in the butter until the mixture resembles a sandy texture. Slowly pour in the milk until a dough ball forms. 
If the dough is sticky knead it on a board with some rice flour. 
Divide the dough into 3 equal portions for rolling.
On a floured surface or pastry cloth, roll out to 1/8 inch thick. With cookie cutters cut shapes and transfer them to a parchment lined cookie sheet using a spatula.

Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and flavorings of choice.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until light golden brown. 

Cool on a rack. 

Yield: about 25 
strangely shaped crackers.

Mix it up: For a more adventurous flavored cracker, substitute cream of wheat or cream of rye cereals for the cream of rice.

Other ideas for cracker seasonings:
Parmesan cheese
Soy sauce
Pizza Spices blend
Italian Spice blend
Granulated onion
Fresh rosemary (incorporate into dough)
Pumpkin pie spice
Smoked salt
Truffle Salt

* We used quick cooking to make sure that the crackers were as soft as possible. For a great array of spices check out Whole Spice Company
They have some of the best spices around, super fresh and fantastic blends too.

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Bird Seed and World Music - CD Giveaway!

Thanks to all my entries...we randomly chose a winner, big congrats to BarefootGypsyGirl.

Putumayo music has been around for a long time and so has Sesame Street now they have combined to create Sesame Street Playground, songs and videos from around the world. This cd is really fun for the kids the music is great. It is world music but with familiar voices and characters. The music still retains the tunes from the show so your little on can recognize it.
The mission on the cd case says:
Sesame Street Playground represents a shared mission of Putumayo Kid and Sesame Workshop: to help children around the world gain an understanding of and respect for other cultures.
I love this statement because it is so important for is to expose our kids to other peoples and cultures of the world. It promotes understanding and compassion in them.
One of my favorite songs on the cd is #5 La Chanson De l’Amitié (the song of friendship)
There are songs in Hebrew, African languages, Spanish, French, Dutch….
If you would like to listen to samples of the songs go here.
For more info go to:
Sesame Workshop
Putumayo Kids

If you want to win this cd just comment on how you think your kids would love it and I will choose a winner using random.org
On Sat 2/14 I will notify them by email so make sure when you comment you leave a link to your blog or some way for me to find you.

And now for the recipe....

Bird Seed (something Big Bird would eat)
A mixture of seeds (as of hemp, millet, and sunflowers) used for feeding caged and wild birds (or kids.)

I was thinking about recipe that could go with this post and I remembered that when we were kids mom used to make “Bird Seed” we’d take a huge bowl to the basement and hangout playing music and spin the bottle!!
I have memories of finding the birdseed in the infamous black couch (yes, only my middle and high school friends will get that reference) I remember a food fight with handfuls of it being tossed all over...lets hope your kids are a bit more behaved than we were!
Anyway our birdseed recipe was kind of unhealthy so I have revised it here for little ones. Enjoy!

Bird Seed Recipe
Really you can add what ever you like, I use whatever I have on hand. You can make it as sweet or as healthy as you want, no rules here.
I like to have the proportions equal but you can quarter the recipe easily.
Mainly it is just fun to tell the little ones that they are eating bird seed! They can pretend to be Big Bird and sit in a nest of blankets eating their bird seed and listening to the music!

1 cup dried currents
1 cup corn flakes or Chex style cereal
1 cup chow mein noodles
1 cup cheerios
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup crisp rice cereal or nutty rice cereal
1 c crushed nuts
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Ice cream cones (optional)

Mix together. Serve in a plain ice cream cone just like at the Zoo!!

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