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Monday, February 27, 2017

Serving Better Meals To Children

Healthy Meal Choices for Children
Children often need a bit of help when choosing the right foods to eat. I should say that I know several adults that could use a bit of help preparing a nutritious diet. Thanks to Chicken of The Sea for sharing a few tips on nutritional diets.

Fruits and vegetables:

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, children should eat five fruits and vegetables a day. Leave a bowl of fruit or carrot sticks on the kitchen table to help ensure your child is getting the recommend daily amount.  I create dips and spreads to go with veggies at our house and also make fruit salads often or serve them with a dip as well.

Small, whole vegetables and florets, and fruits are almost always appealing to children. Now and again, encourage your child to try a new fruit or vegetable by arranging a platter in fun shapes or pictures. I am always suprised to see a new fruit or veggie at the market and bring it home to try. Yesterday I saw what they called a plumo it is like a plum but quite bigger in size so of course I brought it home for me and the kids to try

Serve vegetables on, in or with something your child really likes (as part of a pizza topping or stirred into macaroni and cheese). We have been known to hide veggies in the meatloaf or prepare shepherd pie including a vegetable

Healthy choices to reduce fat and sugar:

Rather than using whole milk switch to low or non fat milk, yogurt and cheese

Use tuna and salmon in dishes that call for other protein sources, such as chicken.

Bake or grill instead of fry.

Substitute olive or vegetable oil for butter.

Substitute water or low-fat milk for sodas or sweetened beverages.

Switch desserts like ice cream and cake for fruit-based desserts.

Spinach Cheese Phyllo Squares

6 sheets phyllo dough (14 inches x9 inches)
1 package( 10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry.
2-1/2 cups (10 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
1-1/2 cups (12 ounces) fat-free cottage cheese
4 eggs
1-1/2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 egg whites
1-1/2 cups fat-free milk

Layer three phyllo sheets in a 13-in x 9-in x2- in baking dish coated with cooking spray; lightly spraying the top of each sheet with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine the spinach, cheese, 2 eggs, parsley flakes and salt; spread over phyllo dough. Top with remaining phyllo sheets. Lightly spraying the top of each sheet with cooking spray. Using a sharp knife, cut into 12 squares. Cover and chill for an hour. In a small mixing bowl, beat the egg whites, milk and remaining eggs until blended, pour over casserole. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before baking. Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until a knife is inserted near the center comes out clean and top is golden brown. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.
Yield: 12 servings.

Mini Grilled Cheese and Tomato Sandwiches

love finger foods?? One of our favorite foods is grilled cheese This recipe seems to please everyone. I may have to omit the tomato in some because of those picky more conservative individuals but for the most part I am hoping these tiny sandwiches will be a top hit

Mini Grilled Cheese and Tomato Sandwiches

1 French baguette, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds (each tomato will yield about 5-6 slices)
Kraft Singles Cheese, 1 slice per sandwich, cut or folded into sixths
butter, about 1 tablespoon per sandwich

Prepare a large non-stick skillet by spraying it with cooking spray. Butter one side of bread and lay it buttered-side-down into the pan. Top with the cheese squares by staggering them slightly when placing them onto the bread rather than stacking all the squares exactly on top of each other (this will create height to the finished sandwich). Top with one tomato slice.  Butter another piece of bread and place it on top of the tomato slice, buttered-side-up. Repeat for as many sandwiches and you wish to make.
When all your sandwiches are in the pan, turn the stove to medium or medium-high heat and cook sandwiches for about 3 minutes on the first side. Flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes on second side, or cook until both sides are browned to desired level. Serve immediately.
Consider serving with ketchup, ketchup + hot sauce, salsa, three cheese ranch salad dressing (shown in photos), mustard, mayo, or any desired dip.
Tip: To encourage cheese melting, use a pan with a lid as the trapped heat and steam will help encourage the cheese to melt. Otherwise you run the risk of the bread browning too fast before the cheese has melted.

Sunday, February 26, 2017


1 cup (16 tablespoons/1 stick) shortening or unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2-3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400° F. In the bowl of the stand mixer, cream together the shortening, sugar, and eggs.  In the small bowl, sift together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Add to the shortening mixture and stir on low until combined.  In the small plate, stir together the cinnamon and sugar. Shape dough into balls about the size of a walnut and roll around in the cinnamon sugar until coated all the way around. Place on ungreased baking sheets about 2 inches apart.  Bake about 8 to 10 minutes, until the cookies are lightly browned but still soft. They should puff up then flatten 

Remember We Must Help Each Other

 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
Hebrew 13:16

sharing is easy but can I ask what it is you have done good for someone?? I am sure that many of you could answer and every answer be different. This is because there is so much we can do to share with each other , to help each other, to love each other


3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound andouille sausage, sliced into rounds
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (I highly recommend wild gulf shrimp)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, each 4 to 6 oz., cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (try fire roasted)
1 cup long-grain rice, cooked per package directions (for extra flavor, try adding a small pinch of cumin, paprika, and garlic powder to the rice while cooking)
1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Pinch of cayenne pepper, or more, to taste (depending upon the spiciness of the andouille sausage)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, minced

In a large fry pan over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and sauté the andouille sausage until lightly browned, turning occasionally. Remove and place on a paper towel line plate to drain.
Add the shrimp to the same pan and cook until opaque, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Add the chicken to the pan and sauté until browned adding additional 1 tablespoon olive oil is too dry, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the plate with the shrimp.
In the same pan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the onion, bell pepper and celery, and sauté until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Transfer the onion mixture to a large Dutch oven. Stir in the tomatoes, rice, stock and a pinch of salt. Add the sausage, shrimp, chicken, paprika, thyme, cayenne, and parsley. Stir well, cover and let stand until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper. Spoon the jambalaya into warmed bowls and serve immediately.

The Pistachio Nut Good for You and Great Tasting as well ===== Pistachio Fudge

Pistachio are actually kernels obtained from the Anacardiaceae fruit. This plant is a medium sized broad, bushy, deciduous tree. The tree originated in the mountain ranges of West Asia and Turkey region. The dry summer heat and cool winters help the pistachios grow. Pistachios are cultivated in the United States, Iran, Syria, Turkey, and China. The plant will normally bear fruit 8 - 10 years after being planted.

Like all nuts Pistachio Nuts are rich in protein A mere 49 pistachio kernels or 1 oz of pistachio nuts contains 6 grams of protein. The body uses the protein by breaking it down into amino acids. Amino acids are used to repair tissues or to create new molecules. Eating protein rich foods helps you feel satisfied, reduces your cravings for unhealthy foods later on.

Along with protein Pistachio nuts also have beneficial fatty acids These nuts are considered to be high fat but that is not bad. The truth is that pistachios contain 13 total grams of fat. Of these 13 there are 2 grams that are saturated fats which are unhealthy that leaves 11 grams of fat that are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that helps protect the heart.

Pistachios also contain beneficial antioxidants. Our cells age and create oxidative damage. Pistachios can help turn this around. Pistachio possess beta-carotene that helps reap oxidative damage fighting effects. Pistachios in diet have proven to have a lower levels of harmful cholesterol.

Pistachio helps us out by offering B6. Our body requires B6 and without it the possibility of cardiovascular disease , some cancers and some cognitive functions can have bad effects. Vitamin B6 helps keep brain sharp and aids in cardiovascular health.

1 lb white baking chocolate
8 oz cream cheese, softened
3 c confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/8 tsp green food coloring
1/2 c chopped pistachios

Line an 8-inch square pan with foil, allowing foil to extend over sides of pan.
Spray with no stick cooking spray.
Melt chocolate as directed on package.
Beat cream cheese in large bowl with electric mixer until smooth. Gradually beat in sugar on low speed until well blended.
Add melted chocolate, extracts and food color; mix well.
Stir in chopped pistachios.
Spread evenly in prepared pan.
Garnish with additional pistachios, if desired.
Refrigerate at least 1 hour or until firm.
Use foil to lift out of pan onto cutting board.
Cut into 25 (1 1/2-inch) squares.
Store in refrigerator.
Substitute: One bag (12 ounces) white chocolate chips can be substituted for the white chocolate squares.

recipe source McCormick

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Pistol Patent Day

Samuel Colt invented the revolver. A revolver is a pistol with multiple chambers for bullets. In 1835 Colt would patent the pistol in 1835 and then in 1836 he would patent it in the United States.  

 The pistol had been invented by Samuel Colt  He also was awarded a patent #138 for it on February 25th 1836. The patent was for a Colt Revolver with a rotating chamber containing 6 bullets. 

International Tongue Twister Day

When I was a kid we often ran around saying tongue twister. No my tongue was not twisted and I did not twist anyone else's tongue. A tongue twister if you did not know is a phrase that is very hard for people to articulate, especially when spoken in a sequence really fast. 

One thing that I did not know but found out while researching for this post is that most langues including sign language have their own versions of tongue twisters. Sign language finds it own twister also known as finger fumbles when the words of a tongue twister get repeated time and time again getting faster. This can often make the fingers fumble. 

Tongue twisters often are created with the similar sounding words that aliterate That means that the first letters or sounds in the words are the same. Take a look at a few of these tongue twisters:

Sword Swallowing Day

Most of us are do not swallow swords or know anyone that does but for those that do this day is for you. In fact the Sword Swallowers Association International reports that there are less than a few dozen full time professional sword swallowers that are actively performing around the world today. But for one day a year, February 25, 2017 the world will have the rare opportunity to witness them defy death and do what they do the best -- as a group swallow swords. 

Sword Swallowing originated in India and requires the practitioner to use mind over matter techniques to repress natural reflexes in order to insert solid steel blades that are 15 to 25 inches long. The sword blade will travel down the esophagus and into the stomach. 

Sword Swallowing has been a talent that has been performed over 4000 years. The dangerous act  those that perform them are taking risks. In 1868 a sword swallower was used by a Dr. from Frelburg Germany to help develop the first rigid endoscope. In 1906 a sword swallower underwent the first esophageal electrocardiogram in Wales. So they are doing more than performing acts they are helping to save lives. Those that swallow swords are still active in raising money for subjects such as esophageal cancer, sysphagia, GERD and other upper gastro intestinal and swallowing disorders. 

Enjoy some clam chowder

Growing up I never quite got the chance to enjoy sea food. Beside the occasional butterfly shrimp my parents really did not like seafood. I do have an aunt that lives out near Maine and because of her every now and again I would get a taste of yumminess in the form of well cooked seafood. Clam Chowder being one of them. If you have only tasted clam chowder out of can then you have no idea how the good stuff taste

13 Slices Thick Cut Bacon
1 Cup Chopped Onion
1 Cup Chopped Celery
2 - 3 Cans Fancy Whole Baby Clams (w/juice)
2 Cups Chicken Broth
2 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream
1 tsp Ground Thyme
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper

Cook bacon until crispy (reserve bacon grease in the pan)
Chop onion and celery
Place onion and celery in bacon grease and cook until soft (do not discard the grease it will go in the crockpot with the veggies)
After veggies are soft pour all ingredients (including crumbled bacon) into the crockpot
Cook on low for 4-6 hours or on High for 2 hours.

Nutritional value is there as well
Clams have more iron than beef. There are many more minerals in clams as well. Clams offer phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium. 

Soft shell clams are the best to be used. If you are using local clams you will want to check with local authorities concerning their safety

Clams are good for your heart as well. Clams are a source of Omega 3 fats acids that are needed for the body as well

Clams are a lean protein source. With more than 20 grams of protein and less than 2 grams of fat in a 3 oz serving. Clams have more protein than oysters and scallops but around the same amount as chicken. Clams have more vitamins and minerals than chicken 

Nuts are Nutritious : Chocolate Nut Recipe included

Nuts are great for kids, however there is a large nut allergy as well so make sure that the children you offer nuts to do not have any known allergies. Nuts are natural and can be found in nature. They are packed with power. Nutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats, protein and fiber can all be found in nuts. Children require foods like nuts to grow, develop and learn. Almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts are all nuts that can help our children. Peanuts that are actually legumes are often considered nuts and have similar nutritional compositions. You can look at it like this:

A 30g of nuts is equal to around a small handful or approximately:
30 pistachio kernels
20 almonds or hazelnuts
 15 cashews, pecans or macadamia nuts
9 or 10 brazil nuts or walnuts
4 chestnuts

for every 30g of nuts not matter what kind you eat in return you child will receive 

36% of the required vitamin E in your child's diet
13% of your child's daily fiber requirement
4g protein 
as well as 

B-group vitamins, calcium, iron, zinc, potassium and magnesium

Here is a great snack to get started. While there is a sweet side of this it gets children to enjoying nuts that will help their nutritional diet as well

1 pound almonds (raw or roasted, I had a mix of both)
1 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 TBL cocoa powder

Mix egg white and vanilla with a  mixer until frothy.  Dump 1 pound of nuts into egg whites and mix until coated.
In a separate bowl, combine sugar and cocoa powder.  Dump sugar and cocoa powder into egg white/almond mixture and stir to combine.
Pour almonds onto cookie sheet (sprayed with cooking spray).  Cook almonds in oven at 250 degrees for 1 hour, Taking out to mix every 15 minutes.

You can offer your kids in many fun ways here are some ideas
place a trail mix in their school lunch box
toss them in a stir fry the family loves
pine nuts go well in a salad
chopped pistachios are great sprinkled over soup
use to crust a grilled cheese, chopped macadamia nuts is great for this
crushed pecans go great over low fat yogurt and fruit
walnuts are great in homemade banana bread
chopped nuts go well over oatmeal or hot breakfast cereal
use a nut spread on toast or as a sandwich filling or better yet try in celery sticks

Brigadeiros Perfect for Carnival or any time

It's Carnival time in Brazil. Many foods will be indulged upon and you can make some at home for your family as well. One simple recipe to create and share with your friends is Brigadeiros. 

Brigadeiros is a traditional food served at kids birthday parties. You may also find them in Brazil. These small balls of condensed milk and cocoa covered with sugar sprinkles or nuts. A super easy recipe and great for the kids to help make as well.

1 can sweetened condensed milk (400 g)
4 tbsp cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
3 tbsp butter
Few drops good vanilla extract
Chocolate sprinkles for decoration or your choice of small decoration such as nuts, coconut, etc...

Pour the condensed milk into your heaviest pot. Stir in the cocoa powder and the salt.
Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat. Keep the mixture barely at a boil to prevent burning and sticking.
Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring, until mixture becomes very thick and shiny and starts to pull away from the bottom and sides of the pan.
Remove from heat and stir in the butter and the vanilla.
Chill in the for an hour.
Roll the mixture into 2.5 cm balls. I also made some mini ones, very tiny pop-in-melt-in-your-mouth treats, great for someone watching the calories or just to serve with coffee at the end of a meal.
Roll each ball in the chocolate sprinkles, and place in a paper liner.
Chill until ready to serve

Couple of tips before we go:
don't make the balls too big. It is better to be bite size because the treat will become quite sticky quickly in hands when held too long before eating
While there are some traditional brigadeiros this recipe should not be
These treats can be kept up to 5 days in the fridge which makes it a treat that can be made ahead of time before taking them to a potluck or party