Friday, March 30, 2012

Music Friday: Pizza, The Best of Gemini

During the week I like to listen to music on Pandora to discover new music that is similar to other types of music I already know I like. One of the songs that came up a few weeks ago was Pizza by Gemini


This is a really silly and fun song about the joy of pizza. It has a really danceable melody and is totally sing along friendly. To go along with this pizza song I thought I would share a pizza book and cooking project to do with kids. 


I read this book with my son and daughter after having spotted it while browsing the library shelves. I had scanned through it in the library and discovered that there was a recipe at the end for the pizza dough and the kind of pizza in the story. 

My son and daughter enjoy working in the kitchen with me and we have a few kids cookbooks but I love how I was able to read the story and do a project with the kids related to the story. 

We changed the recipe a bit because my son does not like tomatoes and really really wanted to put pepperoni on the pizza (he had just made pizza in preschool a few weeks before and felt that pepperoni was a necessity). I just put all the ingredients out and we each got a section of pizza to create. 

The other change that I made was that I used whole wheat flour and a little extra wet ingredient to make up for that. :)

I served the pizza with a strawberry, pinenut, spinach, and mozzarella salad. 

Verdict: my son declared this was the best pizza he had EVER had. 

My daughter liked it too.

Oh and two weeks ago I had a give away for the Music Friday music and Stephanie was the winner. 

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dyeing Easter Eggs with Homemade Dye

We have had a busy week of trying to stay busy while my son is home sick and it is pouring rain outside so one of the projects that we took on was to create our own Easter egg dye out of things we had around the house already. Obviously not everyone will have all of this laying around we just happened to but there are other options for creating the colors listed at Peaceful Parenting. 

Here is what we used and what we found worked and didn't. 

 You can see here in the picture above that the egg coming out looks purple. Just wait until it dries it will end up blue!!!

Red/Pink: Beets-I did not have a ton they were in my garden from last year so I am not sure if this did not really achieve what we expected because of that or because it just didn't. The color was more a burnt purple, very light though. Really should use a lot more next time (this will be my mantra for this post).

Orange: Paprika. Again I found out that my supply was very low so this one might have worked better if I had more to add to the water during the boiling process. Really after letting the egg sit for about 30 minutes we could hardly see an orange hue, we ended up using the yellow and red to try and achieve orange which went a little better, it was still very light. 

Yellow: Turmeric. Worked like a charm. Nice yellow color, worked quickly. 

Green: Spinach. This was the worst of all. Also waited 30 minutes and really did not achieve much. I added some green plant juice from Trader Joe's and that helped a bit. But let me ask you, if you look at the horizontal picture with the eggs in the egg carton. The green one is just left of the top yellow egg. Can you tell it is green? I can not. 

Blue: Frozen Blueberries. Amazing! We started out thinking there was no way these would end up blue and not purple...boy were we wrong. Even when they came out of the dye and were still wet they looked purple but as they dried they became more and more blue! Total surprise. Success!

Purple: Hibiscus tea. Fail. This one did not work at all again I probably did not use enough during the dye making process. 

The basic method for this goes like this. 

Get the material you are using for the dye (beets, blueberries, etc). Add a whole lot (except for the herbs), like a hand full or more per cup of water and boil for 60 minutes. Add 3 tsp vinegar to a cup and 1 cup of the dye. Place hard boiled eggs, that have been washed in warm soapy water and well rinsed, into the dye of your choice and let sit until the color comes out as you wish. In our experience this took a while. 

Conclusion. This was a fun experiment with making dye but it was definitely about the process. Since you don't eat the egg shells I am not sure if it is worth it and I will probably go back to using normal old food coloring, but maybe not it was a fun process. The other option might be boiling the eggs directly with the coloring agent and using a LOT more of the dyeing agent...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cherry Blossoms Craft

Before I get into the craft part of this post I just wanted to show you the hair cut that my son decided to give my daughter. The day before I had finally gotten all of her hair up into pigtails which made this event very sad for me :( However, it will grow back and it looks okay now (I just really liked the pig tails).

 So we went to get her the first real hair cut she has ever had that morning. I told my husband (and several friends), I think it is payback for when I gave a friend a hair cut when I was about the same age as my son is now. You can see what it ended up looking like in the next set of photos. 

On to the craft. 

This is a really easy craft that is perfect for spring. We ended up doing this on spring equinox instead of what I had been planning because it was snowing that day (that was unexpected). 

Supplies you need:

Background paper (like white or light blue construction paper but you can use what you like)
Paper bag or brown construction paper
Pink tissue paper (or whatever colors you like)

  • Cut a strip of paper from the paper bag that will be the trunk of the tree so it should be about 1/3 the height of the background paper and about an inch wide. 
  • Cut out branches from the paper, they need to fit on the paper coming off the trunk, ours were anywhere from 2-5 inches long and about 1/4-1/2 inch wide. 
  • Crinkle the branches and trunk to give the texture like bark. 
  • Glue them onto the background paper
  • Crinkle up small bits of tissue paper and glue them onto the branches. 

Some things to talk about while you are doing this craft. 

  • Discuss how spring is when the trees start to get flowers and leaves again. 
  • Talk about the part of the tree: the roots, trunk, branches, flower, leaves. 
  • Talk about other plants that are growing during spring like tulips, daffodils, grass (are you having to mow the lawn again yet?)
  • Talk about how animals start to get more active at this time of year. Bees come out and start gathering the nectar from flowers pollinating them, birds start making nests and laying eggs, geese travel north again, bears come out of hibernation, etc. 

All that talking makes this simple craft a vocabulary builder and an opportunity to learn about science too! This craft also is great for fine motor skills.  

Most of all have fun! 

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Have fun!


Monday, March 26, 2012

Meal Plan Monday Week 2

I hope that you enjoyed last weeks meals, now ready for a new week? I have to say that I centered this week on some things that I have left over and frozen or ingredients that I need to use up. I had a large amount of spaghetti sauce left over from my last batch and so I froze it so that I would have an easy meal at some point so I am using that this week knowing that my husband will not be around much due to work. I had left over Thai red curry paste that I need to start using up so I am making steak with that (I am likely to do another Thai dish next week). I have been meaning to use some quinoa that I have in my pantry so I decided to try a new quinoa dish this week.


Day 1: Spaghetti Sauce served over Spaghetti Squash (or spaghetti), salad w/ cranberries, blue cheese, green onions, pecans. Serve with garlic bread if you like.
Day 2: Boxes
Day 3: Left over spaghetti and salad
Day 4: Thai Style Steak with carrot salad
Day 5: Carrot-Quinoa “Biryani”
            Find the recipe at the bottom of the article
Day 6: LO Carrot-Quinoa "Biryani" (you may add chicken to this to make it heartier)
Day 7: Grilled Cheese with Tomato Soup and Salad


Spaghetti Sauce:

This is my childhood favorite that is from a cookbook my Grandmother typed up and gave to my Mom when she was married to my father. Luckily I received a copy one Christmas. I hardly need the recipe anymore to make it and I am sure that I don't do it "correctly" most times but it still is fantastic. It makes plenty for left overs and for freezing (at least for our family of 4). 

1/2 c minced onion                                                  2 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c olive oil                                                           pinch of basil or thyme
1 lb ground chuck                                                    1 c dry red wine (or beef broth)
2 minced cloves garlic                                             1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/4 c minced parsley
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 #2 can tomatoes
1 can tomato paste 

           Simmer the onion and mushrooms in oil 5 minutes. Add the beef and garlic and brown. Add everything else except the wine. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Add the wine and cook to the desired consistency leaving pot uncovered, about 1 hour. 

Garlic Bread:

I love garlic bread it is one of my favorite things at dinner time when we have it. We have a couple of friends who comes over to dinner every once and a while and they always bring bread because he declares himself to be a bread snob (or maybe that is his wife you declares him as such, not sure). I was so amazed by the simple brilliance of the method in getting the butter and garlic on the bread when he made the garlic bread I have been doing it ever since. So here you go.

1 loaf Italian or French bread cut in half length wise. 
8 Cloves garlic minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil 
1/8 cup chopped fresh parsley

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large frying pan add 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup olive oil. Heat on med/low to melt the butter. Add in chopped garlic, basil, and parsley. Put the cut side of bread down into the butter mixture to allow some to stick to the bread, do this with both pieces. Stick in the oven for 10 minutes or so keeping an eye on it. You want it to be just golden and warm. Slice into single serving size pieces and serve.


I recommend using a dark leaf lettuce, arugula, mache, or spinach. I usually buy a whole head and then just estimate how much I need for that evening. 

4 cups lettuce washed, spun, and torn into bit size pieces
1/3 c dried cranberries
2 scallions washed, and thinly sliced
1/3 cup blue cheese

In a salad bowl combine the ingredients. Serve with your favorite dressing.


Turkey hummus wraps: Tortilla spread with hummus, cover with sliced turkey, add a leaf of lettuce, sprinkle with 1/8 cup feta, a few kalamata olives. (Feel free to add tomatoes and red onion)

The rest of the box looks much like last week, hard boiled egg, dried fruit and nuts, tangerines, cheese stick. 

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup:

Sandwich bread
Cheese (cheddar is our favorite)
Butter or olive oil

Laying one slice of bread down add slices of cheese to cover. On the second slice of bread lightly butter. Lay butter side up onto the cheese. Place butter side down, the sandwich in a a frying pan on medium heat, butter the top of the bread now showing (so when flipped the butter will be on the pan). Cover for about two minutes, flip. Remove from pan when both sides are golden brown and the cheese is melted. Serve with warmed up tomato soup and a salad. 

Some other ideas for grilled cheese: add turkey or ham slices, red onion, mustard, or cream cheese.  Add sliced apples to the sandwich or spinach. 

We also like to dip in salsa. :)

Shopping List: 

2 onions                                                 
olive oil*                                                          
1 lb ground chuck                                                   
Head garlic 
basil (at least 12 leaves)
head of lettuce
1/2 lb fresh mushrooms 
Spaghetti squash or 1 lb spaghetti
1/4 c parsley
French bread (1 loaf)
1 stick butter*
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 #2 can tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
black pepper*
1 c dry red wine (or beef broth)
Dried cranberries
Blue Cheese crumbles
Salad dressing
Tortillas (1 package)
Sandwich bread
Tomato Soup (we buy 1 large box and then use it at another point in the week or freeze it for another    time)
Cheddar cheese (grated or block) 
Feta cheese crumbles
4-6 kalamata olives per wrap (we would buy about 12)
Sandwich turkey (1/3 pound)
1-1/2 lb. sirloin steak
2 Tbs. canola oil
3  limes
Fish sauce
Light brown sugar*
 9 medium carrots
Fresh cilantro
1-2 jalapeƱo or serrano chiles
Can unsweetened coconut milk
1 Tbs. Thai red curry paste 

 3/4 cup quinoa
1/4 cup green lentils
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
11/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (you may have some left from last weeks menu)
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 teaspoon garam masala spice blend
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 cup slivered almonds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup raisins or currants
dried fruit

*Staple item you may already have this. 

Update: The carnitas were amazing! Also we had tons of them and I actually only used 2.5 pounds instead of 3-4. I used a boneless cut though so that might be one reason. I had enough to feed our family plus friend we had over for dinner. We also had left overs for dinner and still had enough to use for lunches for two days. I made a salad with them using mache (kind of like very small spinach), black olives, carnitas, and salsa as the "dressing". I used chips to make nachos and then ate them together, so good.  

Friday, March 23, 2012

Music Friday: Sing Along With Putumayo

 Today's song is from the album Sing Along With Putumayo, it is called Man Gave Names to All the Animals.

The Putumayo series is a great series of albums with songs from all around the world. The song Man Gave Names to All the Animals has really great sound to it that makes it get stuck in your head (believe me it has been stuck in mine for the last 18 hours). 

Also remember that you can win last weeks Music Friday album by commenting on the post from last week. 

I hope you have a great weekend with lots of dancing and singing. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

I have decided to try and document our meal plan for the week here. I am doing this for a few reasons. The first is that I have been struggling to come up with meal plans and need something to keep me on track. Second, I am hoping that this will provide a place for me to look back and recall some meal plan ideas for weeks in the future. Third, I am doing this because I am really hoping that some people will comment with great meal ideas of their own at some point. Last, I hope that others will get help with their meal planning.

This is the first week so bear with me while I get the hang of this it might be rough for a while while I get the kinks out.

Here is our planned week:

Day 1: Gypsy Stew (see below for recipe) with homemade no knead rustic bread

Day 2: To go Boxes: Hard boiled egg, cut veggies, hummus, dried fruit and nuts, turkey rolls, sliced apple, cheese stick/slices

Day 3: Chicken and Coconut Green beans

Day 4: Left Over Chicken and Green Beans

Day 5: Left Over Gypsy Stew

Day 6: Pork Carnitas, Salad with avocado, mango, lemon

Day 7: Left over Carnitas, make into tacos, serve with pineapple

Shopping List: (Complete even though I have some of these things)

32 oz broth (chicken or veggie)
2 sweet potatoes or enough squash for 4 cups cubed
1 bunch kale
1 can garbanzo beans
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 bell pepper
2 ribs celery
2 carrots
1 lb green beans
4 limes
2 lemons
whole pineapple
lettuce head
avocado (2)
3 apples
sweet whole peas
2 onions
head of garlic
 1 can coconut milk
2 1/2 tsp ground coriander
2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 inch ginger
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp ground turmeric
3-4 pounds pork shoulder (with or without bone)
olive oil
Chicken breasts (1 lb)
1 dozen eggs
hummus (or make it, garbanzo beans, garlic, 1 lemon, tahini)
mixed dried fruit and nuts
cheese for slicing/cheese sticks
turkey (good quality lunch meat)
taco shells
bread flour (I am trying whole wheat)
active dry yeast
Parmesan cheese

Recipes and other directions:

Start making the bread the day before you want to eat it and two hours before eating time to let it rise!!!

Gypsy Soup Recipe:

3 tbsp olive oil or ghee
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 sweet potatoes (peeled) or enough squash, such as butternut (recommended), (peeled) for 3 cups cubed
1 bell pepper, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 carrot, diced
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 inch ginger, minced
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 can garbanzo beans
1 large can diced tomatoes
32 oz broth (chicken or veggie)
1-2 tamari (to season)
2-3 cups kale, ribs removed, cut into 1/2 inch pieces 

I recommend chopping the veggies ahead of time.

In a large soup pot add the olive oil, heat on medium, add the diced onion and minced garlic. Add the cubed squash or sweet potato, chopped celery, bell pepper, and carrots. All to soften stirring often, about 8 minutes. Add the spices, minced ginger, diced tomatoes and broth plus enough water to cover the veggies plus an inch. Add the garbanzo beans, season with a pinch of salt. Allow to simmer on low for 1-2 hours. About 20 minutes before eating add the kale and tamari. Other variations include adding a sprinkle of cayenne pepper.

Serve with bread and Parmesan cheese.

To Go Boxes: 

We have these great boxes from Ikea that are great for lunches or dinners to go. You can create sections in them with little dividers. I like to make these and the kids enjoy the choices. I usually add hard boiled eggs, sliced apples, hummus and veggies, dried fruit and nuts, cheese sticks, and rolled up turkey deli meat (a good quality one). We usually do this once a week when I go running and a friend watches the kids but we have to drive a ways to get there. So from now on I am just going to refer to boxes and then link back to this page :)

The Perfect Hard Boiled Egg:
Place the egg into the pot, cover with cool water, 1 teaspoon salt, place on the burner on high heat, bring to a rolling boil, allow to continue to boil for  8 minutes. Remove from the heat dump the water, run cool water over the eggs,

Salad with Avocado, Mango, Lemon 

Clean the lettuce tear into small pieces and put into a salad bowl.  Peel the mango and slice it adding bite sized pieces to the salad. Squeeze the lemon juice on top as the dressing. 
(Alternative dressing, 1/4 c lemon juice, 1 tbsp grainy mustard, clove of garlic minced blend together very well. While whisking stream olive oil in about a 1/3 cup). 
Carnitas Left Over Tacos: 

Taco shells (corn or flour)
Serve with Pineapple slices

Fun Music at a Great Price and Spring Starts Tomorrow!

Have you heard of the Juice Box Heros? They are a group that put kid friendly lyrics to adult songs.  Today Mamapedia has a deal where you can get a box set Loose Tooth and No Sugar Added for only $13 which is about half off. Super cool deal, I figured I just had to share it.

Mamapedia has a bunch of other great deals, it is sort of like Groupon but for families and they donate a certain amount to the school of your choice when you make a purchase, pretty neat.

Now on to spring. Tomorrow is the official first day of spring and I am hoping that it is not snowing like it did today (unheard of for the area we live in to have snow this time of year). If I get my way we are going to go outside and plant some pea seeds, onions, and some other good things. We are going to try making our own pots from newspapers to start seedlings in. 

I also checked out a few books from the library about spring to read with the kids and we are going to do a spring flower hunt and bug hunt if the weather holds out. 

What are you doing to ring in spring?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Music Friday: Lukas Hein & Dialeto Brasilerio and Giveaway!

Music Friday is a little different this week in that you can win the music for free! 

Lukas Hein performs with a Brazilian trio named Dialeto Brasileiro in this recording comprised of wonderful, mostly calm, saxophone. Brazilian style jazz. These performers apparently recorded this in one session in a very short amount of time just before dropping Lukas of at the airport to return back the the United States!  


You can read more about the recording or purchase the cd or mp3s of the album here

This is a great addition to any jazz collection. This would be great for a summer evening dinner party or dinner with the kids. 

Lukas Hein was generous enough to offer to give away 10 cds so if you would like to get in on this (and you are at least 18) please leave me a comment telling me your favorite music this week, your favorite jazz music, or really anything about music at all and then make sure to check back in two weeks when I will post the drawing winners. 

I will pick the winners randomly from the people who comment. Please do not comment anonymously or I will not be able to include you in the drawing. I will announce the winners in two weeks on Music Friday. You will have one week to reply by e-mailing me your mailing information. Good luck!