As I sit and type this post, it is 11 degrees outside. That really isn’t too horrible for winter time in New York. Of course, when you factor in the crazy wind, it really feels like it is –11. Mother Nature has quickly reminded a lot of the United State, Canada, and beyond what winter weather and bone chilling temperatures are like.
When the weather is like this, I dream of soup. Perhaps some days, I crave eating this delicious soup from Les Chefs de France at Epcot.
As much as I adore French Onion soup, there are so many other favorites. When I want something comforting or I am not feeling great, matzah ball soup is a must. This reminds me of being a little kid and having my mother’s Jewish Penicillin (bonus I wasn’t allergic to this). Soups made in the crock pot are delicious and easy, thanks to some great recipes that TechyDad and I have found. Of course, in the winter various vegetable soups help us to keep on top of our veggie consumption.
So my question to you this week:
What is your go to soup on a cold day, or a day when you need something that is nice and comforting? If you have recipes please share so I can add them to my Pinterest board all about soups.
Over the last few years, I have been trying to learn more about Gluten-Free Cooking. I know several people that have gluten allergies, some have medical conditions, and others are gluten-free to help themselves to feel better. After our son was diagnosed with high functioning autism, members of our autism community also noted that many families of children with autism and sensory processing concerns participate in gluten-free diets. While we are not there yet, I want to learn as much as possible so we can be sensitive to those who are gluten-free and in case we want to try in the near future.
Thanks to the holidays, travels, and the kids being sick and home for break, I have not had nearly enough time to really explore this book. Author of Living Gluten-Free for Dummies Danna Korn has paired up with gluten-free cookbook author Connie Sarros to teach people some basics in a Dummies format. The book helps people to learn how to shop for gluten-free products and ingredients (score) and make meals that are gluten-free with 165 gluten-free dishes.
I must admit, part of the reason I have not tried to make the switch to gluten-free yet is because it seems intimidating. Change is hard, learning, changing, and conforming eating habits is not easy. This book and knowing so many friends who are doing it and the change in the grocery/cooking world may just change my view.
Gluten-Free Cooking for Dummies is broken down into four parts that go further into depth on specific areas. The sections are:
Part 1: Preparing for Your Gluten-Free Cooking Adventures – This section is what I really need to study more. Here Korn lets you know that this is not simply a diet, it really is a lifestyle change. There are reasons why to do it, break down of things that are and are not gluten-free, focusing on nutrition, getting your house ready for the switch, shopping strategies, and why you will not always need recipes. The Cheat Sheets on the Dummies website give you a taste of how everything is broken down into easy to follow steps.
Part 2: Mouthwatering Main Courses – Recipes from Sarros are included with focus on gluten-free flour education, dishes with fish/meat, and meatless items. With a kosher kitchen, we are mostly vegetarian at home. There are some tofu dishes, along with soups and more in the next part that are perfect for us.
Part 3: Dishes to Enjoy Before, After, or Any Time – Many more recipes including those for appetizers, salads, soups, snacks, and desserts. Cheesy Corn Chowder, Train Mix Bars, Whoopie Pies, and others are at the top of my list to try soon.
Part 4 – The Part of Tens – Lists of 10s include easy to prepare comfort foods like nachos, pudding, chili, and more. Also, ten ideas for cooking gluten-free with kids to help families.
Gluten-Free Cooking for Dummies has a wealth of information within this friendly format. For someone that is extremely curious about this lifestyle change, it introduces items in a non-threatening way. There are tips, tricks, and a lot of recipes that sound delicious. I also appreciate that each of the recipes has a list of ingredients, prep/cook times, number of servings, and per serving nutritional information. Even if we do not make the complete switch right away, I have items to make for friends that need it and can read more in depth about everything to make an informed decision thanks to this book and all of my friends.
Have you already switched to a gluten-free diet or know someone that has? I would love to know your thoughts, tips, and any information you have to share. Please leave comments and links below.
Disclosure: I wrote this post as an Ambassador for Dummies books through a Global Influence campaign. I received a copy of this book for review purposes, but as a fan of Dummies books, the opinions expressed are 100% my own. Additional locations to purchase this book can be found on the following landing page. An Amazon Affiliate link is included in this post for the Dummies book mentioned. I will receive a percentage of money for the sale should you opt to purchase it through that link.
Halloween is just around the corner and candy will be flying by by our faces and those of the youngest members in our family. Moderation is the key, but now that is not the only factor. These days we have choices with candy. Thanks to Unreal, we are able to UNJUNK candy eating to a new level.
Over the weekend, we were able to have an Unreal party to let others taste the new candy. We would be putting this to the test:
Would kids and others be happy with candy that is:
made with real cane sugar,contains no corn syrup, and is free of hydrogenated oils/fats?
packed with twice as much cacao than other brands?
free of artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors (there is no Red #5 here)?
filled with more protein and fiber?
If you are not familiar with Unreal, here is a video to get you caught up on their story and the product:
UNREAL sent me candy to share with family and friends. My mission was to see what they thought of the Unreal candy that is UNJUNKED and reinvented. Since it was a beautiful day, we took everything outside. Before going out, I put one of each of the Unreal varieties and fact sheets (comparing Unreal and other similar candy) for everyone to enjoy and read.
Thanks to the amazing weather, the kids were too focused on playing and not eating. A lot of people took their bags home to try items and got back to me with their thoughts. Of course, a group of us did try the Unreal candy together. Here is a view of the five varieties that are currently available and the feedback that we heard from everyone below.
UNREAL 41 (Candy Coated Chocolates) – A crowd favorite with the kids. They were intrigued with the different colors and enjoyed popping them into their mouths. One adult taste tester noted that he thought the chocolate was the best within these. He said he would definitely purchase these for that reason. I know I like these because I can get them for future birthday parties where a nephew with a food dye allergy will be able to eat the candy.
UNREAL 5 (Chocolate Caramel Nougat Bar) – The kids that were not fans of nuts liked this bar because it was easy to bite into with smaller teeth. One adult noted that it reminded her of the taste in her protein bar that she has every day. She said that wasn’t a bad thing, just something she thought of. Another tester is diabetic and typically avoids regular candy. She gets some of the sugar free variety from time to time, but they have a lot of additives in them. She really liked the taste of this bar and the nutritional information. As a fan of the leading brand variety of this kind, I imagine freezing these for an even more interesting treat.
UNREAL 77 (Peanut Butter Cups) – There were a lot of peanut butter cup fans in the group. People mentioned that the peanut butter was not creamy, but that the flavor was more “peanuty” than traditional brands. Lots of interest in using these for baking projects because they have significantly less sugar and more fiber.
UNREAL 54 (Candy Coated Chocolates with Peanuts) – While the kids enjoyed the nut free variety, the adults also enjoyed the peanut crunch inside of the chocolate candies. They had a nice amount of chocolate surrounding the peanuts. While people noted the muted colors, nobody cared once they were munching away.
UNREAL 8 (Chocolate Peanut Caramel Nougat Bar) – This bar seemed to be the least popular. It wasn’t that there were negative comments, most people did not like mixing these flavors. People noticed that the bar had a lot of fiber, protein, and not many more calories than the nut free version.
General feedback was a lot of interest. We were the only people that had seen them prior to the party and taste testing. Locally, Unreal has been slower to arrive on the store shelves and often is sold out. People really liked the idea of candy being UNJUNKED and the price point not being absurd. The lower sugar amounts, as well as the addition of fiber was a big point of interest amount the women.
I know in our family each member seemed to like something different. We will no doubt be on the look out for Unreal as they start to show up in more retail locations. For those times when we want to splurge on something, I like that they taste good and have none of the questionable artificial additives in them. My boys are also hoping that more varieties will be coming soon.
Have you tried Unreal candy yet? I would love to know what your thoughts are and which candy was your favorite.
Disclosure: I wrote this post as part of a compensated Global Influence campaign. Unreal sent us plenty of candy to share, along with additional compensation for party expenses and my time. All thoughts and opinions are 100% mine and not influenced by this factor.
Growing up in a very close Jewish family, many of my memories revolve around celebrations that were filled with amazing food. Every time we got together to celebrate Shabbat at my Mimi and Poppy’s house, we would have a chicken soup with matzah balls, chicken, and other items along with challah. Thanksgiving would be filled with extended family members and once again delicious specialties. I also remember baking and watching my family members and being involved. Now my boys are making memories of their own with our family. My parents have started a Chanukah tradition at their house with extended family that we have all grown to love.
When I recently heard that Mama Doni (AKA – Doni Zasloff Thomas) would be teaming up with Rachel Harkham (Recipe Rachel) to create a new family cookbook, I was excited. Then, I received a copy of the book to review and I could not stop planning possibilities to make, bake, and share with the kids.
Get Cooking: A Jewish American Family Cookbook – By Rachel Harkham and Doni Zasloff Thomas – Published by Behrman House Inc. – September 2012 – ISBN 9780874419481 – Hardcover 128 pages
As a big fan of Mama Doni, I loved that Get Cooking: A Jewish American Family Cookbook includes a CD with a collection of her songs to listen to during the holidays and beyond. The Get Cooking! A Rockin’ Mama Doni Celebration includes favorites like: “Challah Day” and “Chanukah Fever” on the 29 track CD. I love that “Mission Immaztzoble” is also included along with others for different holidays and celebrations.
The first item that you notice when opening the book is that Harkham and Thomas cover a wide range of Jewish holidays and general celebrations. They begin with Shabbat, move to Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Chanukah, Purim, Passover, and beyond. The recipes are all able to be made in kosher kitchen (which we have) and contain meat, fish, vegetarian, and sweet options.
As I write this post, we are in the middle of Sukkot. I am hoping to get the supplies to make some edible sukkahs with the boys. Check out how adorable they are.
Of course, the timing of this cookbook is fantastic. I plan on talking with my mother to utilize some of the items for our annual Chanukah celebration at the beginning of December. I think the kids will adore the Judah Mac’n’cheese Squares and Chocomallow Dreidels. The Jelly Donut Muffins also look amazing.
If you celebrate Jewish holidays or know someone that does, this book is a great find. The recipes from Harkham truly are family friendly and inspire you to celebrate and make your own memories together. I also know friends that want to share other celebrations with their family. This is a great cookbook for them as well. Thomas is a Jewish educator and shares lots of items in the book and songs.
What are some of your favorite cookbooks? As always, please share what you have read recently. Be sure to link up to your book posts in the comments below. Include something you read on your own, with a child, or someone else. Tuesday Tales are all about spreading the love for books.
Disclosure: My family received a complimentary copy of this book from Behrman House Inc. in order to facilitate this review. No other compensation was given. The opinions expressed are my own and my love for the creativity of Mama Doni continues to grow with each of her new projects. An Amazon Affiliate link is included in this post for the book mentioned. I will receive a percentage of money for the sale should you opt to buy the book through that link.
Each year, I ask the boys to think about the kind of cake and theme that they want for their birthday. Every year, I hold my breath waiting and wondering what they will select. Last year, NHL wanted lions and it was a challenge, but we made it happen. This year, he is really into Harry Potter and the Muppets. I was not too sure where this would go. At first, I was going to attempt sorting hat cupcakes, but as time crunched for the family party on Labor Day, my patience dissolved. Thank goodness NHL agreed that he liked the Kermit the Frog cupcakes that I found online. The original that I saw was posted on Simply Being Mommy.
NHL agreed that he liked them. Before we settled on anythingm I wanted to purchase items to make the crucial Kermit eyeballs. They were the focal point of these cupcakes. To do this, I ordered black edible markers and we bought some Mentos. The black marker worked beautifully on the Mentos, but there was a catch. The kids did NOT like the strong mint flavor. I reached out to my Facebook and Twitter friends for ideas on other possibilities. In the end, I finally let go of my type A personality and settled for cute, functional, and something the kids would like.
Yes, I settled on white chocolate melting wafers. They were not perfect because the texture was not as smooth as the Mentos, but they worked. I had to go quickly because it was a warm day and the marker did not dry on the rough surface of the chocolate. Once they were done, they were placed inside the refrigerator to chill while I baked some cupcakes. The band-aids shown below were simply inspiration and were not used since baking went smoothly.
Cupcake baking went according to plan. Once they were all cooled, the cupcakes were placed into the amazing Cupcake Courier that I finally bought (will write more about that another day). Getting the frosting really green took patience. If I made these again, I may check out a gel based food coloring to get a stronger green color.
I found that it was easiest to frost and decorate the cupcakes while they were sitting on the shelves of the courier. Trying to place them back in after they were finished was not the easiest. Here is how they looked as I was working and finishing up.
The best part was that transporting the cupcakes was easy. I put the entire courier into the refrigerator for the night before, then pulled it out, and we were ready to head to the lake. The cupcakes made it all the way there and it was easy to pull out the trays to display for everyone to select the Kermit that they wanted.
Now, I brace myself to see what cupcake creation the boys ask for next, or what I may try now that I have my new courier, corer, and other goodies. If you have any suggestions, I would love to know.