Family Meal Ideas: Bento Box Dinner

japanese bento dinner

Family Meal: Bento Box Dinner
A guest post from Cheryl Tallman, Creator of FreshBaby.com

A bento is a divided box that originated in Japan. Bento boxes are made from a wide variety of materials, including lacquer, bamboo, plastic and stainless steel. A traditional bento meal includes carbohydrates (rice or noodles), protein (fish, chicken, meat, or tofu), vegetables and fruit. Foods are arranged in the box to display a colorful, healthy meal with a wonderful variety of flavors and tastes.

We’ve developed a family-friendly Bento Box dinner to prepare and enjoy. The recipes are infused with the Japanese ingredients that you can find in the Asian Foods section of your grocery store.

Edamame

Yakisoba (Stir-Fried Soba Noodles)

Grilled Salmon with Red Miso Sauce

Honeydew Melon

Steamed Edamame

If you can boil water, you can make edamame. While traditionally served in the pods, the pods are not edible. To eat simply squeeze the pod with your thumb and forefinger and the edamame beans pop right out.

  • Frozen edamame (about 10 pods per person)
  • Water
  • Pinch of kosher or sea salt

Directions: Bring about 3-4 quarts of water to a boil and place the edamame in the boiling water. Cook 3-5 minutes. Drain. When plating sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Have another bowl at the table to put the empty pods in.

Grilled Salmon with Red Miso Sauce

Miso Sauce:

½ cup red miso paste

1/3 cup sake

3 Tbsp. chicken stock (or Dashi)

1 Tbsp. soy sauce

4 6-ounce Salmon fillets, skinned

Directions: To make the sauce, combine all four ingredients in a saucepan and stir to a smooth sauce. Place saucepan on the stove over medium heat and cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally until sauce thickens. Set aside and let cool.

Brush both sides of salmon fillets with miso sauce. Lightly oil and heat a grill pan over medium heat. Place salmon on the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes. Brush with sauce, turn fillets over and brush with sauce again. Cook 3-4 minutes. Remove from pan and let stand 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Yakisoba (Stir-Fried Soba Noodles)

Soba noodles are made from buckwheat flour and have a unique brown color. Yakisoba is a popular dish of stir-fried soba noodles and a variety of meats and vegetables. You can use any type of meat or seafood and any types of vegetables – including bean sprouts, green peppers, mushrooms, Chinese cabbage, celery and broccoli.

8-ounce Soba noodles

1 cup bean sprouts, rinsed

8-10 Shitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced

8 cooked shrimp, chopped

3 green onions, chopped

2 Tbsp. vegetable or peanut oil

Yakisoba Sauce:

3 Tbsp. soy sauce

2 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced

2 tsp. sake

 

Prepare Yakisoba sauce. Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add soba noodles, stirring to separate them. Boil soba noodles for 6-8 minutes, until tender. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

In wok or large skillet, heat oil over high heat. Add shitake mushrooms and stir fry 2 minutes. Add soba noodles and stir fry 3 minutes. Add the Yakisoba Sauce, shrimp and bean sprouts and stir fry for 2 more minutes. Serve warm.

 

Fun with Japanese Table Manners:

Certain table manners are observed during meal times in Japan. Include these practices as a fun way to help teach your kids about etiquette in other countries.

  • Add a warm, wet towel at each person’s plate to wipe hands before eating.
  • Eat with chop sticks. Kid-size chopsticks and chopstick helpers can be found in specialty stores or online.
  • Before you start eating, put your palms together and say “Itadakimasu.” This translates to “I gratefully receive.”
  • Soup can be sipped straight from the bowl – no spoons necessary!
  • It is okay to make slurping sounds when eating soup and noodles from a bowl, as long as it’s not excessive. Slurping tells the chef that you are enjoying the meal.
  • When you are done using chopsticks, lay them in front of you with the tips pointing to the left. It is considered bad manners to leave them pointing upright in a bowl.
  • When you are finished your meal, say “Gochisosama,” which means “Thank you for the meal.”

About the author: Cheryl Tallman is the co-founder of Fresh Baby, creators of the award-winning So Easy Baby Food Kit, and author of the So Easy Baby Food and the new book So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips and Simple Recipes for the Toddler Years. Visit Cheryl online at www.FreshBaby.com for more delicious tips.

Learn more about Cheryl’s work:

So Easy Baby Food Kit: Make It Natural, Make It Fresh.
So Easy Baby Food Kit: Make It Natural, Make It Fresh.
Price: $23.85
An award-winning, all-inclusive solution for making baby food in less than 30 minutes per week. The month-by-month Cookbooks uses fresh ingredients with no additives. Kit includes a cookbook, freezer trays, how-to video, and nutrition card, and pays for itself in just three weeks compared to jarred baby food.

So Easy Baby Food Basics: Homemade Baby Food in Less Than 30 Minutes Per Week
So Easy Baby Food Basics: Homemade Baby Food in Less Than 30 Minutes Per Week
Price: $8.95
Baby Food Cookbook including recipes and instruction for making stage 1, 2, and 3 baby foods. This book also includes the basics of introducing solid foods and developing healthy eating habits. Available in English and Spanish.

So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips & Simple Receipes for the Toddler Years
So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips & Simple Recipes for the Toddler Years
Price: $8.95
When it comes to eating, toddlers can be tough to please. So Easy Toddler Food is the perfect resource for parents looking for survival tips and 35 simple recipes that will win over even the pickiest toddler. Available in English and Spanish.

Recipe – Stuffed Pork Chops {from Eating Light}

eating-light

Here’s another slimmed down version of a family favorite, from Eating Light, a new Hearst Special, now on newsstands nationwide.

 

Stuffed Pork Chops

374 calories per serving (makes 8 main-dish servings)
Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes

 

2 slices thick-cut bacon, diced

2 shallots, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

8 oz. mustard greens, stems removed, and leaves torn into small pieces

1 cup finely diced cornbread (from store-bought or homemade cornbread, corn muffin, or toaster corncake)

3 oz. sharp Cheddar cheese, finely diced

1 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

8 boneless pork loin chops, 1 ¼ inches think (8 oz. each)

Kosher salt and pepper

1 Tbsp. olive oil

 

1)      In large skillet or Dutch oven on low, cook bacon slowly, until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp; remove with slotted spoon to paper towel to drain. Discard all but 1 tablespoon bacon drippings from skillet.

2)      Add shallots and garlic to drippings’ cook on medium 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Add greens; cover pan and cook 7 to 9 minutes, or until greens are tender, stirring twice. Cool completely. Stir in cornbread, Cheddar, Parmesan, and bacon.

3)      Place pork chips on flat surface; with sharp paring knife, make 1-inch incision on meaty side of each chop. Swipe blade back and forth inside chop to make pocket all the way back to fat side of the chop, without cutting through chop. Stuff each chop with heaping ¼ cup stuffing.

4)      Preheat oven to 375°F. Season chops with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper; secure openings with toothpicks. In large ovenproof skillet, heat oil; add chops and cook 2 minutes per side, or until browned. Cover skillet and transfer to oven; bake 15 minutes, or until internal temperature registers 155°F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove chops to platter; cover with foil and let stand 5 minutes. Remove toothpicks before serving.

** This Stuffed Pork Chops Recipe is courtesy of Eating Light, which features recipes from Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Country Living and Woman’s Day, all with no more than 400 calories. Get the latest edition at your local  supermarket or bookstore today, or buy a digital version at Zinio.com or bn.com.

Get more Momscape Recipes

Recipe – Fettucine with Spinach Pesto {from Eating Light}

eating-light

Here’s a slimmed down recipe for Fettucine with Spinach Pesto we think you’ll love, courtesy of Eating Light

Fettuccine with Spinach Pesto

394 calories per serving (makes 4 main-dish servings)

Active time: 10 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes

 

Salt

1 lb. fettuccine or linguine

2 cups baby spinach leaves

1 ½ cups fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

¼ cup chopped fresh chives

3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

4 Tbsp. pine nuts (pignoli), plus additional for garnish

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus freshly shaved Parmesan for garnish

 

1)      Heat large covered saucepot of salted water to boiling on high. Add pasta, and cook as label directs. Drain pasta, and return to pot.

2)      Meanwhile, in blender, combine spinach, parsley, chives, oil, 4 tablespoons pine nuts, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Puree pesto until smooth. Stir in grated parmesan.

3)      Drain pasta and put in serving bowl. Add pesto to pasta; toss to combine. Garnish with shaved Parmesan and additional pine nuts, if desired.

** This Fettucine with Spinach Pesto recipe is courtesy of Eating Light, which features recipes from Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Country Living and Woman’s Day, all with no more than 400 calories. Get the latest edition at your local  supermarket or bookstore today, or buy a digital version at Zinio.com or bn.com.

Get more Momscape Recipes

Recipe – 7 Layer Dip from Eating Light

eating-light

Here’s a slimmed down recipe for 7 Layer Dip, courtesy of Eating Light.

7 Layer Dip

100 Calories per serving (makes 12 appetizer servings)
Total time: 25 minutes

1 lb. plum tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped

1 green onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

½ jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

Salt and pepper

1 tsp. canola oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

½ tsp. no-salt-added chili powder

1 can (15 oz.) no-salt-added pinto beans, rinsed and drained

1 ripe Hass avocado, pitted and peeled

2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped

1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed

1 large red bell pepper, finely chopped

4 oz. reduced-fat sour cream

1 ½ oz. low-fat Cheddar cheese, shredded

Baked tortilla chips (optional)

 

1)      In large bowl, combine tomatoes, green onion, garlic, jalapeno, 1 tablespoon lime juice, and 1.4 teaspoon salt.

2)      In 8-inch skillet on medium, heat oil. Add onion; cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden, stirring. Add chili powder; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; add beans, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Mash until almost smooth.

3)      In bowl, with fork, mash avocado, cilantro, remaining lime juice, and 1/8 teaspoon salt until almost smooth.

4)      In 1 ½ quart straight-sided bowl, spread bean mixture in even layer. Top with corn and bell pepper. Spread sour cream and then salsa over vegetables. Dollop avocado mixture over salsa; spread into even layer. Sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate up to 2 hours. Serve with baked tortilla chips.

** This 7 Layer Dip Recipe is courtesy of Eating Light, which features recipes from Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Country Living and Woman’s Day, all with no more than 400 calories. Get the latest edition at your local  supermarket or bookstore today, or buy a digital version at Zinio.com or bn.com

Get more Momscape Recipes

Classic Easter and Passover Recipes to Celebrate Family Tradition

easter-wheat-pie

The smell of Easter ham, the excitement of eating Matzo Haystacks and the joy of spending time with families is what many of us look forward to as Easter and Passover arrive.

Here are a few quick and easy Easter and Passover recipes you can make for (and with) your loved ones this holiday, courtesy of our friends at Grandparents.com.

Whether you’ve whipped up many family favorites over the years, or are looking forward to starting a tradition today, these holiday favorites are sure to spread the joy.

EASTER MEALS

Easter Bread (Gurrugulo)

 

From Cooking with Nonna, the Web series featuring Italian grandmas who pass on their family’s most treasured recipes, comes this colorful, sweet, braided bread that is a European Easter tradition. Don’t worry about adding raw whole eggs: They cook completely while the bread bakes, and make for an excellent presentation.

Ingredients:
1 pound (slightly more than 3 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
9 large eggs, divided
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 lemon, zested
Colored sprinkles

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, combine flour, 4 eggs, sugar, olive oil, baking powder, and lemon zest. Mix until it becomes a dough.

2. Cut the mix into four equal parts (one for each Gurrugulo). Reserve two thin 6-inch strips for each Gurrugulo. Take one part, divide it again into three equal parts and roll each part into a strip about 1/2 inch thick.

3. Take the three strips, unite them at one end, and slowly and carefully braid them until the very end. Unite the two ends.  Where the ends meet, place an egg. Roll the two thin strips of the mix and place them over the egg in a cross fashion. The strips will hold the egg down. During the braiding process, if the strips are too soft or too sticky, add some flour to facilitate the process. Repeat this process with the remaining dough, until four Gurrugulo are made.

4. Beat the remaining egg and, with your finger, wet the entire surface of each Gurrugulo with the beaten egg. Add sprinkles and bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees F.

Makes 4 Gurrugulos

Easter Wheat Pie (Pastiera Napoletana di Grano)

 

 

Sometimes called Easter Grain Pie, this Italian dish is a holiday tradition, especially in the southern part of the country. The wheat-based crust is symbolic of springtime, and is filled with a sweet ricotta before it’s baked. From the online series Cooking With Nonna, this version includes small pieces of candied fruit, sure to appeal to kids.

For the Filling:
1/2 pound wheat berries or hulled wheat (from soft wheat)
8 large eggs, separated
3 pounds ricotta cheese
2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
Candied fruit pieces (optional)

For the Pastry Dough:
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
6 large eggs
Pinch salt
1 lemon, zested
5 tablespoons vegetable shortening

Directions:
To prepare wheat for the filling:
Rinse hulled wheat with water and place in a large bowl. Add enough cold water to cover and let soak overnight in the refrigerator. Drain the wheat and place in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 20 to 30 minutes, until tender. Cool completely for use in the recipe.

1. In a large bowl, beat 8 egg yolks. (Set egg whites aside in a separate bowl for later.) Add ricotta, wheat, and sugar. Mix until well incorporated. Add vanilla and candied fruit pieces and mix well. Beat egg whites until fluffy and foamy and fold into ricotta mixture.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, 6 eggs, pinch of salt, and lemon zest. Knead until a dough is formed.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease baking pans with shortening and set aside. Cut a piece of the dough, according to the size of the pan, and roll it out with a rolling pin. The dough should not be too thick. Lay dough into the greased baking pan. Fill the pan with the ricotta mixture.

4. For the top crust, cut another smaller piece of dough and roll very thin. Cut this into strips and place across top of pie, in a criss-cross pattern. Press the dough edges together with a fork, like a pie.

5. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

Serves 6

 

Easter Calzone (Scalcione di Cipolle)

 

Filled with briny olives and zippy scallions, this authentic Italian calzone comes from Cooking with Nonna, an online series featuring real Italian grandmas sharing their most beloved recipes. This is a twist on a traditional calzone, which is essentially pizza folded into a turnover, and packed with a variety of fillings. They’re best served straight from the oven, though be sure to let the insides cool just a little.

Instructions:

For the filling:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 bunches scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
1 cup chopped Kalamata or Gaeta olives
Red pepper flakes
Salt
1/4 cup chopped anchovy fillets

For the dough:
1 pound all-purpose flour
1 cup lukewarm white wine
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing
Pinch salt

Directions:
1. In a large pot, heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat. Add scallions, wine, tomatoes, olives, and hot pepper and salt, to taste. Saute for about 15 minutes. Remove from stove, drain, and cool completely. Set aside.

2. To make the dough, combine flour, wine, 1/4 cup olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Knead together until a dough is formed.

3. Cut the dough in half. Flatten one half into a thin, round sheet large enough to cover the bottom of a 16-inch baking pan. Apply a very thin film of olive oil to the pan. Position the dough in the pan and spread the scallion mixture uniformly on top, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Spread the anchovies over the scallions.

3. Take the other half of the dough and flatten it with the rolling pin into a round sheet that you will use to cover the scallions. Place the dough over the scallions, cutting off any excess around the edges. With a fork, seal the two sheets of dough together.

4. With your fingers, apply a thin film of olive oil over the entire surface of the scalcione. Then, with a fork, puncture the surface every 2 inches. Bake for 60 minutes at 400 degrees F.

Serves 8


PASSOVER MEALS

Homemade Passover Noodles

 

This is a unique recipe passed down through generations and is rarely made by modern kosher cooks. Store-bought noodles do not hold a candle to the homemade noodles’ taste and texture. Sally Levine says the recipe connects her to her ancestry: Her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother all made these noodles from slices of potato-starch crepes.

 

The dish calls for two “bubby cups” of potato starch, meaning a full, rounded cup. Levine makes the dish on “regular” nights, too, filling the cups with cooked chicken left over from a big pot of traditional chicken soup. Share the noodle “ends” with the grandkids as Levine does with hers.

10 eggs
1 full, rounded “bubby cup” of potato starch
1 teaspoon of salt
2 full cups cold water
Vegetable oil for frying

1. In a large shallow bowl, whisk together first 4 ingredients.

2. Heat 1/2 teaspoon of oil in a 9 inch frying pan over medium-high heat. Using a half measure of a 4-ounce soup ladle per crepe, pour the mixture into the frying pan, using the handle to angle the pan’s base so that the entire batter covers the frying surface.

3. When the crepe starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, lift it up slowly with a spatula and flip it. Do not overbrown. These fry up quickly, so keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.

4. Transfer cooked crepe to a plate.

5. Remix the batter well prior to pouring each crêpe, as the starch tends to settle at the bottom of the mixture. Before pouring the batter for each crêpe add 1/2 teaspoon of oil to the pan. Reheat the pan and repeat cooking process.

6. Stack the crepes on the plate as they are cooked.

7. Refrigerate overnight if using the crepes as noodles. When ready to serve, take 2 or 3 noodles at a time, roll them up tightly like a cigar, cut them into one-inch-wide segments, and add them to a pot of your favorite chicken broth. Don’t forget to give the ends of the noodles to your little ones to eat! If serving as filled crepes, serve at room temperature.

Yield: Makes about 22 crepes.
Matzo Brei

From our feature Sharing the Seder: What would Passover be without matzoh brei for breakfast? Adapted from The Children’s Jewish Holiday Kitchen by Joan Nathan (Schocken, 2000).

Ingredients:
3 matzos
2 large eggs
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) margarine

Equipment:
Measuring spoons
Mixing bowl
Paper towels
Fork or wire whisk
Spoon
Frying pan
Metal spatula

1. Lil’ Line Cook or Sous chef-in-training: Break up the matzo and put in lukewarm water for a few minutes. Drain on paper towels and squeeze dry.

2. Beat the eggs. Mix them well with the salt, honey, cinnamon, and the matzo.

3. Sous-chef-in-training or adult helper: Heat the margarine in the frying pan. Fry 2 tablespoons of batter at a time, patting the center down a bit. Turn over and fry until golden. Eat as is, or with additional honey.

 

Pecan Cookies

From our feature A Well-Rounded Table: This recipe, from Inez Schwartz, is adapted fromCooking Jewish: 532 Great Recipes From the Rabinowitz Family by Judy Bart Kancigor (Workman, 2007). Kancigor writes, “Hard to believe that with no added fat, these crisp cookies from cousin Marilyn’s sister-in-law taste so buttery, like butterscotch crisp.”

Parchment paper or vegetable cooking spray, for the baking sheet
2 cups pecans, plus about 3 dozen pecan halves for topping the cookies
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
Pinch of salt
White of 1 large egg
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or generously grease it.

2. Combine the 2 cups pecans and 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar in a food processor, and process until the nuts are finely chopped.

3. Combine the chopped pecans, remaining brown sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add the egg white (unbeaten) and lemon juice, and stir until thoroughly combined. Drop rounded teaspoonfuls of the mixture, about 1 1/2 inches apart, on the prepared baking sheet. Press a pecan half into each cookie.

4. Bake on the center oven rack until the cookies are golden brown, 8 to 11 minutes. Watch the bottoms, as they burn easily. Let the cookies cool on a baking sheet set on a wire rack until they can be safely moved, 1 to 2 minutes. Then transfer them to the rack to cool completely.

5. Repeat, baking and cooling the remaining cookies, and serve.

Yield: Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

About Grandparents.com:
Grandparents.com is the ultimate resource and premier social website for today’s grandparents. The website offers enriching activities, discussion groups, expert advice, ten monthly newsletters, and a Benefits Club with discounts on thousands of goods and services.

You might also enjoy these Easter Recipes at Momscape, too!
Coconut Ambrosia Fruit Salad
Creamy Homemade Au Gratin Potatoes
Orange Glazed Ham
Roast Leg of Lamb
Roasted Red Potatoes
Homemade Macaroni and Cheese
Honey and Lime Carrots
Honey Sweet Potato Mash
Easter Brownie Cupcakes
Easter Ice Cream Nests (A perfect kid-friendly desert – guaranteed to be a hit!)

Recipe – Tropical Thai-Style Fruit Pudding

so-easy-baby-food

This recipe for Tropical Thai-Style Fruit Pudding from Freshbaby‘s Cheryl Tallman is sure to be a hit with your little ones.

Ingredients:
1 mango
2 bananas
½ cup coconut milk
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. lime juice

Directions:
Peel, core and chop mango into chunks. Peel and slice banana into chunks. Over medium heat, pour coconut milk into a medium-sized saucepan. With a wooden spoon, stir in brown sugar and lime juice. Add mango and banana. Cook for 3 minutes. Pour the mixture into a blender and puree to a smooth texture. Pour the fruit pudding into ice molds or baby food trays (such as Cheryl’s So Easy Baby Food Trays), cover and freeze until ready to use.

Serving:
Defrosted pudding cubes taste great alone, but try these options for variety:

* Add fruit pudding to oatmeal for a great tasting start to the day.
* Add a few cubes of fruit pudding to pancake batter to make Thai-inspired pancakes
* Add mashed brown rice to create a fruity rice pudding
* Toss 2-3 frozen cubes, 2 ice cubes and splash of fruit juice or milk in a blender for a frothy fruit smoothie

See Cheryl’s Family Thai Dinner Recipes and Ideas.

About the Author: Cheryl Tallman is the co-founder of Fresh Baby, creators of the award-winning So Easy Baby Food Kit, and author of the So Easy Baby Food Basics: Homemade Baby Food in Less Than 30 Minutes Per Week and So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips and Simple Recipes for the Toddler Years. Visit Cheryl online at www.FreshBaby.com to learn about her latest creation, the Kid’s Portion Plate.

Learn more about Cheryl’s work:

So Easy Baby Food Kit: Make It Natural, Make It Fresh.
So Easy Baby Food Kit: Make It Natural, Make It Fresh.
Price: $23.85
An award-winning, all-inclusive solution for making baby food in less than 30 minutes per week. The month-by-month Cookbooks uses fresh ingredients with no additives. Kit includes a cookbook, freezer trays, how-to video, and nutrition card, and pays for itself in just three weeks compared to jarred baby food.

So Easy Baby Food Basics: Homemade Baby Food in Less Than 30 Minutes Per Week
So Easy Baby Food Basics: Homemade Baby Food in Less Than 30 Minutes Per Week
Price: $8.95
Baby Food Cookbook including recipes and instruction for making stage 1, 2, and 3 baby foods. This book also includes the basics of introducing solid foods and developing healthy eating habits. Available in English and Spanish.

So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips & Simple Receipes for the Toddler Years
So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips & Simple Receipes for the Toddler Years
Price: $8.95
When it comes to eating, toddlers can be tough to please. So Easy Toddler Food is the perfect resource for parents looking for survival tips and 35 simple recipes that will win over even the pickiest toddler. Available in English and Spanish.

Toddler Treat – Italian Wedding Soup

ItalianWeddingSoup

By Cheryl Tallman, www.FreshBaby.com

Italian Wedding Soup is a classic Italian-American dish with a great mix of vegetables, pasta and tiny meatballs. Its name comes from the fact the meat and vegetable taste great together – they are a perfect marriage!

Ingredients:

2 quarts (64 oz.) Chicken Stock

1 carrot, diced

1 celery stalk, diced

½ cup Ditalini pasta (or small-shaped pasta)

1 pound ground pork

½ tsp salt and pepper

¼ cup Italian-style bread crumbs

¼ cup parmesan cheese

1 cup cut green beans (fresh or frozen)

1 (15 oz.) can chick peas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained

Directions:

In a large pot, bring chicken stock, carrot, celery and pasta to a boil. Turn heat down to medium and simmer for 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the meatballs. Combine ground pork, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and salt and pepper in a bowl. Form mixture into ½-1-inch meatballs. Drop the meatballs into the simmering soup and cook for 5 minutes. Add the green beans and chick peas and cook an additional 5 minutes.

Serve with bread or homemade muffins. Italian Wedding Soup can be frozen in small portions for terrific warm-up lunches or after school snacks.

About the Author: Cheryl Tallman is the co-founder of Fresh Baby, creators of the award-winning So Easy Baby Food Kit, and author of the So Easy Baby Food Basics: Homemade Baby Food in Less Than 30 Minutes Per Week and So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips and Simple Recipes for the Toddler Years. Visit Cheryl online at www.FreshBaby.com for more delicious tips.

Learn more about Cheryl’s work:

So Easy Baby Food Kit: Make It Natural, Make It Fresh.
So Easy Baby Food Kit: Make It Natural, Make It Fresh.
Price: $23.85
An award-winning, all-inclusive solution for making baby food in less than 30 minutes per week. The month-by-month Cookbooks uses fresh ingredients with no additives. Kit includes a cookbook, freezer trays, how-to video, and nutrition card, and pays for itself in just three weeks compared to jarred baby food.

So Easy Baby Food Basics: Homemade Baby Food in Less Than 30 Minutes Per Week
So Easy Baby Food Basics: Homemade Baby Food in Less Than 30 Minutes Per Week
Price: $8.95
Baby Food Cookbook including recipes and instruction for making stage 1, 2, and 3 baby foods. This book also includes the basics of introducing solid foods and developing healthy eating habits. Available in English and Spanish.

So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips & Simple Receipes for the Toddler Years
So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips & Simple Receipes for the Toddler Years
Price: $8.95
When it comes to eating, toddlers can be tough to please. So Easy Toddler Food is the perfect resource for parents looking for survival tips and 35 simple recipes that will win over even the pickiest toddler. Available in English and Spanish.

Pink Hot Chocolate, Homemade Truffles, and Other Lovely Valentine Recipes

cookies-and-milk

I have three fantastic Valentine’s Day recipe finds for you:


Glass Topper Valentine Cookies from Cookies & Cups
What is sweeter than cookies and milk for your little sweethearts? A recipe and crafty project in one. Love it!

 

Red Velvet Hot Chocolate, from A Beautiful Mess
Two recipes here: pink hot chocolate and red velvet hot chocolate. Simple ingredients, festive and lovely.

 

Simple Chocolate Truffle Recipe, from Fine Cooking
You can customize the recipe and make it your own by choosing from milk chocolate, semisweet chocolate or white chocolate, then choose your flavorings and coatings. You can even save, print and share your personal recipe.

 

Other Valentine Features You May Enjoy:
Love Quotes
Beyond Flowers: Meaningful Valentine’s Ideas for Parents and Kids
More Hot Cocoa Recipes

Halloween Recipes – Fun Fall Apple Cider Ideas

The folks at Tree Top just sent me some apple cider and gummy worms along with a couple of fun fall drink recipes, and I want to share them with you, too.

Tree Top’s Magic Cauldron Apple Punch

Ingredients
Tree Top Apple Cider (at least one gallon)
Red and green food coloring
10 to 15 gummy worms
Punch bowl (or cauldron!)

Directions
1. Pour apple cider into punch bowl.
2. Add food coloring and gummy worms to cider for Halloween flair.
3. For added creepiness, drape gummy worms over the edges of your punch bowl and add dry ice for a smoky effect.

And here’s one for the adults:

Hot Apple Snickerdoodle

Ingredients:
1/2 cup Tree Top Apple Cider
1 ounce Spiced or Golden Rum
Nutmeg and cinnamon to taste

Warm the cider in your microwave or on the stovetop. Add rum and the speices to your liking and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

More Halloween Punch Recipes
More Halloween Features

More Momscape Recipes

Recipe – Vanilla Cinnamon Apples

vanilla-apples

Halloween brings plenty of tempting treats for kids, but what about the adults?

This Vanilla Cinnamon Apples recipe, courtesy of Nielsen Massey Vanilla, adds an element of sophistication to this year’s festivities and are sure to have guests lining up for seconds. These treats combine the savory flavor of rich vanilla bean paste with the delicious tartness of fall apples to create a treat that is overflowing with gooey goodness. (Just don’t forget the napkins.)

Vanilla Cinnamon Apples

Serves 4

4 baking apples
3 tbsp. butter
¾ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp. Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. allspice
1 tbsp. brandy
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup walnuts
Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat the bottom of a shallow baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Cut a thin slice from the bottom of each apple so it will stand upright. Scoop out the core of each apple from the top down with the small end of a melon ball cutter, making sure not to core all the way through the apple.
Combine the butter, brown sugar and vanilla paste in a medium saucepan and cook over low heat until the butter is melted, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and stir in the cinnamon, allspice, brandy, raisins, walnuts and salt. Fill the apples with equal amounts of the filling using a teaspoon. Place the apples in the prepared baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes or until caramelized and fork tender.

About Nielsen-Massey Vanillas
Throughout its more than 100 year history, Nielsen-Massey Vanillas has earned its reputation as a manufacturer of the finest extracts in the world. The full line of Nielsen-Massey’s Pure Vanilla products include: Vanilla Beans and Extracts from Madagascar, Tahiti and Mexico; sugar and alcohol-free Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Powder; Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste; Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Sugar and Certified Organic Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract and Beans. Nielsen-Massey Vanillas recently introduced a line of Pure Flavors: Pure Chocolate Extract, Pure Almond Extract, Pure Orange Extract, Pure Lemon Extract, Pure Coffee Extract, Pure Peppermint Extract, Orange Blossom Water and Rose Water. All Nielsen-Massey products are Allergen-Free and certified Kosher and Gluten-Free.

Where to Buy Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste:

Nielsen-Massey Vanillas 4-oz. Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste
Nielsen-Massey Vanillas 4-oz. Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste
Price: $10.95
Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Paste is made with our famous Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract with the addition of real seeds from the vanilla pod, combined in a slightly viscous base. It is used whenever the distinctive look of vanilla seeds is desired. Pure Vanilla Bean Paste is used measure for measure the same as Pure Vanilla Extract or to replace whole vanilla beams in recipes.
Available at Cooking.com (Cooking.com coupons are here.)