Category Archives: Recipes

10 Ways to Preserve the Spirit of Summer in Your Family Year-Round

It was the apex of my childhood, over and over
––  inscription in a beach house guest book

For most families, summer is a season lasting approximately 12 weeks. Into it, we pack most of our relaxation for the year, along with our memories, our entertaining, and our sensual experiences –– whether they involve digging our toes into wet sand at the ocean’s edge or biting into a stack of mozzarella, tomato and basil, drizzled with olive oil, and swearing we can taste the Mediterranean.

It’s the season when the sun kisses our faces and causes our children’s height to spurt. It’s the season of wearing less clothing; spending more time with family and friends; eating fresh, tree-ripened fruit; and spending nights playing games or gazing at stars. In summer, time moves just a little more slowly.

When asked to name a childhood memory, most adults will remember an incident or a feeling from summer. While we can’t actually experience the golden season in December, there are a few fun and meaningful ways to harness the spirit of summer for our families to enjoy year-round.

Make Summer Food and Drinks

Many people associate the foods of summer with spots around the globe that bask in warm climates for much of the year. Think Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, African, Southeast Asian, South American, Mexican, Caribbean, Hawaiian, and regional U.S. dishes that use fresh fish, meats, cheese, vegetables, and herbs, and combine ingredients simply for results that are sensuous and robustly flavored. Cooking from warm climates is not only delicious, but can put you in a summer frame of mind any time of year. Try making Chicken Mole, Ratatouille, Easy Weeknight Fish Tacos, All Season Slaw or Pineapple Upside Down Cake. Recreate your favorite barbecue recipes that can be made in an oven or broiler. Roast marshmallows in a fireplace or over a stove flame for s’mores.

Or make the yummy Mango Lassi (instructions at the bottom of this post.)

Camp in Your Living Room

Camping in sleeping bags is fun any time of year, indoors or out. Rustle up some s’mores in a fireplace or over an oven flame. Sing your favorite campfire songs. Tell stories. Make Hand Shadow Puppets by having someone project a flashlight onto a wall, a practice that goes back 2,000 years to Han Dynasty China! (Instructions at the end of this post.)

Have a Summer Movie Marathon

A dead-of winter double feature or an all-out film festival can put your family back in a summer frame of mind. Make s’mores and watch a rustic- or camp-themed movie like The Parent Trap (original and remake), The Great Outdoors, Camp Nowhere, Meatballs or Cheaper by the Dozen 2. Show a classic summer beach or surf movie (and try to explain to your kids that bathing suits really looked like that):  Beach Blanket and Gidget series, Blue Hawaii or The Endless Summer. Enjoy popcorn and a fun road-trip movie, such as It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, Are We There Yet? and National Lampoon’s Vacation. Have pre-teens or teens? Show Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, One Crazy Summer, Stand by Me or The Flamingo Kid.

Garden for Wildlife Year-Round

Some of the best moments for enjoying birds and butterflies occur during the fall, winter, and spring, even in cold climate zones. This can be when animals most need food and shelter. Watching animal activity, outside or even out a window, can brighten a gloomy day and encourage us to be better in tune with the cycles of nature, especially when we know we’re helping animals find food just when it can be hardest for them to do so. Plant a simple habitat garden with plants that attract birds and butterflies. Make and hang an easy bird feeder and watch the birds enjoy the eatery!

Grow Your Favorite Herbs

Take a page from French gardeners and employ your own potager –– a simple, accessible kitchen garden –– all year. Many herbs do very well in small indoor containers or on a kitchen windowsill. These include basil, chives, cilantro, scented geranium, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, and edible flowers. You can also grow lettuce indoors. Enjoy the simple act of growing and snipping a sprig of your herbs to add to a soup, a salad or a meal.

Preserve Food

The best preserved food is made from ingredients that are picked and canned or bottled at their peak of ripeness  –– To open a jar and eat a spoonful of blueberry jam in mid-winter is to taste the summer in which it was made. Even Napoleon, not known for being the world’s most sensuous guy, seemed to understand this on a gut level. After all, it was he who offered an award for the person who could invent a way of preserving food for his armies. That, in turn, led to the modern practice of “canning”, making and preserving jams and other foods to eat all year long. If you still have berries, make my favorite triple berry jam. Berries gone? Then it’s time for yummy apple butter.

Jars of homemade jam make great gifts that recipients know are from your kitchen and your heart. Decorate the jars by tying on a custom gift card with a pretty ribbon. Or make a simple jar topper, which finishes a jar of jam in an especially old-fashioned and pleasing way. Instructions at the bottom of this post.

Preserve Memories with Your Family and in Your Home

Small items can have a lot of power. Did you collect sea shells, rocks, beach glass, trip souvenirs or other items? Have fun creating a display of them that you can enjoy all year long. Or make a mobile of your sea shells by poking holes into them with needles, stringing them on fishing line, and attaching the fishing line to sticks. Frame and hang a map from one of your favorite summer locales. Frame or make an album of vacation or summer photos and view them as a family on a winter’s day. Have family members share their favorite summer memories with one another. You may be surprised at everyone’s picks!

Gaze at the Stars

Even though summer’s Perseid meteor shower tends to get all the glory, fall and winter offer some of the best star shows of the year. If conditions are right, you’ll want to bundle up, make some hot chocolate, pull up a comfortable chair, and look through binoculars, a telescope, or the good ol’ naked eye at the Geminids, or the Leonids, or enjoy the marvelous constellations year-round.

Play Games

My summer memories often involve playing games. There seems to be more time in summer for family play, both indoors and out. Try to keep the lightness in your family and your schedule that allows for play. Play is vital for children’s development and family bonding, and is downright fun! Try these fun playground games.

Indoors? Have a family game night and play one of our favorite card games, Slapjack (instructions at the end of the post.)

Foster a Summer Mindset

In addition to warm weather, summer is often special because families approach the season with mindfulness and joy. Try unplugging or continuing to unplug earlier in the day and more often to create family time. Take walks in nature and play indoor and outdoor games, no matter the season. Keep the calendar as light as possible, even if it means saying “no” to some things or scheduling in family time. Treasure the small moments, which just may become big memories.

In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer. 

–– Albert Camus

Mango Lassi

People in India and around Southeast Asia have been drinking lassis (pronounced “luh-sees”), sweet or spicy yogurt-based drinks, for thousands of years. And, with colorful lassi stands on streets all over the subcontinent, their popularity shows no sign of letting up. For good reason. This cooling drink is great after a spicy meal or on a hot day. It works as a breakfast or a dessert. The yogurt base (traditionally a dahi, which is closer to a curd) is said to enhance digestion. And the offering of a lassi is a gesture of friendship. Yes, all this from a drink.

1 c. plain yogurt

½ c. milk

1 c. frozen mango cubes, slightly thawed

1 Tbsp. sugar

¼ tsp. ground cardamom

dash of nutmeg, if desired

Note: the yogurt and milk can be full-fat, no-fat, or anything in between.

You can make this drink with one medium fresh mango and add ½ c. of crushed ice, if desired. You can also make a berry lassi by substituting frozen berries for the mango, or season the drink with cumin or mint.

Place all ingredients except nutmeg in a blender and puree for two minutes or until the mixture is smooth and any chunks of frozen mango are fairly small.

Pour into tall glass.

Shake nutmeg on top, if desired.

Serves 1

Hand Shadow Puppets

Rabbit – Make a fist with one hand. Place the other palm over it and make a peace sign (for ears) with two fingers.

Hawk – Link your thumbs together, with hands facing away from you. Stretch your fingers and hands and flutter them like wings.

Spider – Cross your hands at the wrist. Press your thumbs together to form the spider’s head. Wiggle your fingers in a climbing motion.

Wolf or Dog – Place your palms together, fingers facing away from you. Put your thumbs up to form ears. Let your pinky drop to form a mouth. Bend your index fingers to create a forehead.

Camel – Lift one arm. Hold your hand in a loosely curved position. Hold the pinky and ring finger together. Hold the other two fingers together, thumb pressed in. Curve both sets of fingers and hold them wide apart to form a mouth. Your arm, from the elbow up, will be the camel’s neck.

Jam Jar Topper

You’ll need:

Fabric pieces (fat quarters used for quilting work well)
Pinking shears or scissors
Rubber band
Ribbon (enough for the circumference of the lid, plus approx. 8”)
Glue, optional

Cut a circle of fabric, approx. ¾” larger all-around than the jar band.

If desired, place a dot of glue onto the top of the lid, and place the fabric onto it.

Secure the fabric with a rubber band.

Tie the ribbon around the rubber band to cover, and tie it into a bow.

Attach a gift card or jar label, if desired.

Slapjack

The Deal: Cards are all dealt, one at a time, to all players. It doesn’t matter if some players have more cards than others.

Object: To win all the cards, by being first to slap each jack as it is played to the center.

Players take turns lifting one card from his or her pile and placing it face up in a common pile at the center of the table. Players must be careful not to see their own cards first. Whenever a jack is turned, the first player to slap it takes all the cards in the common pile and places them in his or her own pile.

When more than one player slaps at a jack, the one whose hand is directly on top of the jack wins the pile. If a player slaps at any card in the center that is not a jack, he must give one card, face down, to the player of that card. When a player has no more cards left, he remains in the game until the next jack is turned. He may slap at the jack in an effort to get a new pile. If he fails to win that next pile, he is out of the game. Play continues until one player has won all the cards.

 

Other Slow Family posts you might like:

Back to School: 9 Tips for Taming Fall Frenzy

Seven Ways to Make Summer Last Longer

These activities are adapted from Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World, which contains 300+ more fun family activities.

Bubble Day at the Bay Area Discovery Museum

The San Francisco Bay Area’s Bay Area Discovery Museum recently held a Bubble Day, the first of many special hands-on events at the museum this summer. As a longtime fan of the magic of bubbles, it was great fun for me to see a new generation of children discovering simple bubble wonder and fun.

You can make your own bubble mix at home with simple ingredients. (Recipe below.) A bucket of mix will last a couple weeks. Leave it out in a yard or on a porch for spontaneous summer play!

Recipe for Great Bubbles

There’s no need to spend money on commercial bubble mixes. The best mixes come from ingredients that are inexpensive and easily available. A large batch can be left in a bucket or tub for days without losing its ability to form bubbles. Bubble mixes are best made at least ½ hour before you need them, so they can settle.

You’ll need:

6 cups (or parts) water
2 cups (or parts) Dawn dishwashing detergent
3/4 cup Karo or other light corn syrup
Measuring container
Large tub, bucket or pan (large enough for the wands to fit inside)

Use Dawn brand dishwashing detergent, if you can find it, for large, firm bubbles. Joy is second-best.

If you’re using the same container to measure both the water and the detergent, measure the water first to prevent detergent foaming in the container.

If your water is very hard, you may want to use distilled water.

Stir the solution gently. It should be smooth, not sudsy or foamy.

Learn lots more fun bubble experiments and activities.

Enjoy making your own bubbles!

This activity is adapted from Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World, which contains 300+ fun family activities.

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Happy Summer! Easy Summer Solstice Cupcakes

Updated for 2014Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year and the beginning of the summer season, is upon us June 21 this year, at 05:04 10:51 Universal Time, or 1:04 3:51 am on the U.S.’ east coast, 10:04 pm, June 20, 6:51 am on the west. Throughout the Northern Hemisphere, it can be marked by Midsummer festivals, especially in Scandinavia, where people celebrate with maypoles that honor nature’s bounty and bonfires that recall the heat and warmth of the sun. Still other cultures have solstice rituals that honor the sun, the feminine and the masculine.

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, my family often attends a summer solstice celebration at Muir Beach, hosted by the Muir Woods National Monument park rangers. We enjoy a bonfire, nature storytelling and campfire songs, and a ritual walk around the fire, holding stalks of sweet flowers and herbs, and then throwing them into the fire, to greet the new season and also let go of anything that no longer serves us.

View more photos of summer solstice at Muir Beach.

An easy way to celebrate Summer Solstice, whether your gathering is a large one or a cozy one, is to make Summer Solstice Cupcakes. This recipe comes from the terrific book, Circle Round:

Just as Winter Solstice gives birth to the light, Summer Solstice, with its day that never seems to end, holds the seeds of darkness. We discover darkness in the bits of chocolate concealed inside this sunny cupcake.

1/2 C butter (one stick) softened in the summer sun
1 C sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
2 C flour, sifted first and then measured
pinch of salt
2 t. baking powder
1 C milk
1 C chocolate chips

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add vanilla. Mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add half of the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir in. Follow with 1/2 cup milk, then the other half of the flour mixture and the rest of the milk. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Use paper liners, or grease and flour cupcake tins. Bake for 25 minutes in a preheated 375′ oven.

Makes 20 to 24 cupcakes.

Because of the sweetness of the cake and chips, these don’t need frosting, but you can certainly add it, in a solid color or a cheery sun or flower design.

This is a great explanation of how Summer Solstice works. Happy Winter Solstice to those in the Southern Hemisphere, who are marking the lengthening days. Perhaps chocolate cupcakes with white chocolate chips are in order?

Happy Solstice to all!

Photos: Susan Sachs Lipman

Summer Family Fun: Make and Experiment with Giant Homemade Bubbles

The mere sight of a bubble floating by overhead can make even the most harried person stop and smile. Part science, part wonder, a bubble is simply a thin skin of liquid surrounding a gas. But you needn’t know any bubble science to enjoy this fun and inexpensive activity. Best of all, bubbles can be made using ingredients you have around the house. When the weather’s nice, I often make a bucket of bubble solution and leave it outside with wands and other fun equipment so my daughter and others can make bubbles whenever they like. It’s always fun and magical to create bubbles and run around to watch them trail behind you in the breeze.

Recipe for Great Bubbles

There’s no need to spend money on commercial bubble mixes. The best mixes come from ingredients that are inexpensive and easily available. A large batch can be left in a bucket or tub for days without losing its ability to form bubbles. Bubble mixes are best made at least ½ hour before you need them, so they can settle.

You’ll need:

6 cups (or parts) water
2 cups (or parts) Dawn dishwashing detergent
3/4 cup Karo or other light corn syrup
Measuring container
Large tub, bucket or pan (large enough for the wands to fit inside)

Use Dawn brand dishwashing detergent, if you can find it, for large, firm bubbles. Joy is second-best.

If you’re using the same container to measure both the water and the detergent, measure the water first to prevent detergent foaming in the container.

If your water is very hard, you may want to use distilled water.

Stir the solution gently. It should be smooth, not sudsy or foamy.

How to Blow Big, Strong, Long-Lasting Bubbles

Choose good wands or materials.

Ensure that the bubble and bubble tool only touch wet surfaces.

If the day is too windy for big bubbles, seek a windbreak and form bubbles near that.

Make sure the bubble mix is inside the wand or tool.

Blow or wave the wand gently, just enough for the film inside to catch some air. Blowing too hard can cause a bubble to break, or can create many small bubbles instead of one big one.

Make Your Own Wand or Bubble Maker

There are wonderful commercial wands with very large openings in whimsical shapes, available at toy stores and fairs. You can also make your own large homemade wand.

You’ll need:

Two or more wire hangers

Bend a clothes hanger into the shape of a circle.

Unfold a second hanger as straight as you can and attach it to the first to form a handle.

 Create a Bubble Window Maker

You’ll need:

Cotton string with some absorbency

Plastic straws cut in pieces

Run a length of string through the straws in a continuous line.

Leave some string between each straw and knot the string ends together.

See what shapes you can make with the straws.

Try a “bubble window”. When making the window, lift the solution out of the bucket or pan in one plane and at an angle, which will help the film remain within the shape. Put two wet hands through a bubble window and shake hands!

 Slow Tip: Search around your house for other good bubble makers. Six-pack rings, plastic strawberry containers, funnels, cookie cutters, mason-jar rings, rubber bands, pipe cleaners, strainers, even fly swatters can all make fine bubbles. Often items with many small openings will produce masses of fun bubbles. Your hands are another wonderful bubblemaker — especially if they are wet.

More Bubble Fun

Bubble Clusters: Put a small amount of bubble solution on a pie tin or cookie sheet. Blow into it with straws to create multiple bubbles in clusters.

Bubble Within a Bubble: Blow a bubble with a straw. Remove the straw from the bubble. Making sure the straw is wet, gently insert it into the top of the bubble, so it enters at a 45 degree angle. Blow gently to form another bubble.

 

This activity is adapted from Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World, which contains this and 300+ more fun family activities.

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Host a Kid-Friendly Oscar Party

Updated for 2014.

Planning to watch the 86th annual Academy Awards? Turn your evening into a fun family event, or even an Oscar party, by serving easy finger foods, such as mini hot dogs; golden food, like easy yellow cupcakes, star-shaped sugar cookies with gold sprinkles, or chocolate coins; and sparkly drinks like champagne, sparkling wine (these are good budget sparkling wines ) or sparkling apple cider.

If you’re feeling ambitious, Epicurious offers some wonderful Oscar-themed menus based on this year’s movie nominations. (Although, I think having pie to denote Life of Pi would work just fine!) Make food and drinks extra special by digging out any gold or silver platters and champagne flutes (plastic versions of these are available at party stores), or serving food on doilies.

Make copies of this printable Oscar ballot and have everyone vote for their favorites. The winner can receive a big box of movie candy, a certificate for a local movie theater, or a homemade voucher for a movie excursion.

Before the show starts, have kids dress up and walk the red carpet (roll out a piece of red fabric or a vinyl or fabric tablecloth, or denote a section of floor with tape) and take pictures. Make a gold star out of yellow construction paper (or cardboard, spray painted gold) and tape it to a door or wall to create an instant star’s dressing room.

Everyone likes to make acceptance speeches. Make an Oscar statuette by spray painting an old Barbie or Ken-sized doll gold. The ones below come from Ellie and Blair, who set theirs on stands. (They have lots of other fun Oscar party ideas.) In a pinch, spray paint a paper-towel roll to denote the Oscar, or have  children hold a bouquet of flowers.

Be sure they thank all the little people who helped make their success possible!

Who me?

Enjoy the show!

Photos: USA Today, Ellie & Blair, Us Magazine

 

 

Host a Valentine Tea Party

Many children adore the ritual and whimsy of both pretend and real tea parties, and this seems at no time truer than at Valentine’s Day, when we’ve made valentines for loved ones while enjoying finger sandwiches and sipping “tea”. Teas can also add ritual and fun to winter holidays, birthdays, May Day or  Mother’s Day or a summer day. Crafts are a nice addition to tea — if not valentines, then perhaps May Day crowns, or fairy or flower crafts. Games work well for tea, too (board or pretend.) Tea parties are a great way to involve multiple families or generations or to make an everyday gathering more special.

Collect teacups, saucers, and plates in advance (the more mismatched the better!) They can often be found inexpensively at secondhand stores, flea markets, and garage sales. Disposable cups can also be found at party stores, or glue small rhinestones to plastic cups with dots of glue. (Place cups on a towel so they don’t roll, glue a few rhinestones on and let dry, then turn the cup a quarter turn and glue more rhinestones on.)

You may want to have guests bring a special teddy bear or doll or invite them to dress up for taking tea in hats and gloves. The table, too, might be set with a favorite or antique tablecloth or doilies.

Tea Sandwiches

Tea sandwiches come in an endless variety to suit many tastes.

You’ll need:

Thinly sliced white bread
Sharp knife or cookie cutters
Sandwich ingredients (see below)

Cut the crusts off the bread and cut each slice into two triangles, or cut into large shapes, such as flowers, using a cookie cutter. (If using a cookie cutter, note that some sandwiches are better assembled before cutting.)

Spread one bread slice with filling and top with the second slice of bread, or serve open-faced.

Sandwich fillings to try:

Peanut butter and jelly
Cream cheese and jelly
Cream cheese and cucumber slices
Peanut or apple butter and honey or Nutella
Tuna, egg, or chicken salad
Cheese and butter
Lunch meat and cheese or mayonnaise

Looking for more ideas?
Serve open-face sandwiches (or minibagels) by spreading them with cream cheese or other spread and decorating with sprinkles. Or Substitute animal or other crackers, or cucumber rounds, for the bread to make especially tiny sandwiches.

Scones and biscuits are also welcome at tea, as are whimsical fairy and leprechaun foods.

 

 

See: How to Make: Fun and Easy Homemade Valentines

Super Food for the Super Bowl

We love to gather family and friends for fun TV viewing events. This year’s Super Bowl match up between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens, February 3 in New Orleans, provides plenty of opportunities for hearty themed food to keep viewers satisfied.

Geographically Themed Food

Crab Cakes

In the Battle of the Bays, it’s the Chesapeake in Maryland that nets the crab for yummy Maryland Crab Cakes. These irresistible ones are from Paula Deen.

New Orleans chef Emeril Lagasse is no slouch in the crab cake department. His Chesapeake Bay Classic Crab Cakes use homemade mayonnaise for superb flavor. He also offers Crab Cakes with Roasted Corn and Tomato Salad. I love that combo!

Quaff some local beer with your crab cakes, such as Flying Dog, Union Craft, or National Bohemian (“Natty Boh” to the locals.)

Sourdough Bread

Sourdough bread was invented in San Francisco, and many say that because of San Francisco’s unique foggy weather, no other sourdough can quite match it. Sourdough is really fun to make with kids. Not only is the resulting bread chewy and delicious, the rising dough provides a fun-to-watch kitchen science experiment. Try this recipe for Sourdough Bread, and eat it the San Francisco way, by scooping out a “bowl” in a round sourdough loaf and filling it with clam chowder, cioppino (below, another San Francisco food), or your favorite soup.

In times past, bakers made sourdough starters (or mothers), some of which were passed from kitchen to kitchen to create the perfect bread. Here’s how to make your own  sourdough starter. Unlike the version, above, you don’t even need yeast! Learn how sourdough starters work.

Cioppino

San Francisco’s 19th century Italian fishermen gave us this dish, which is a melange of crabs, clams, mussels, shrimp, scallops, and other fish gathered from the bay and served in a tomato base. You can easily make a cioppino most anywhere with fish on hand.

Grab some beers from any of a number of San Francisco area breweries and microbreweries, such as Anchor Steam, Sierra Nevada, Lagunitas,

Read about more San Francisco native foods.

New Orleans Gumbo

I didn’t think I could mention Cioppino without summoning New Orleans Gumbo. If your taste runs to the rich and Cajun-spiced, this is your dish. Serve over rice, if you’d like. Try a chicken, sausage and seafood Gumbo from Paula Deen or this New Orleans Creole Gumbo from Epicurious that features crab and sausage.

New Orleans Beignets

I’m not sure how my family came to associate doughnuts with the Super Bowl. There have been years when we’ve gone out early Super Bowl morning to the best doughnut shops to procure them. As the sweet, doughy beignet is the doughnut of New Orleans, you might want to give this Beignet recipe from Southern Living a try.

Team Themed Food

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers get their name from the miners and others who swarmed into California just before 1849, at the discovery of gold and its promise of riches. Though the Gold Rush lasted just a few short years, it swelled the non-native population of California from 1,000 to 100,000 and made a few people rich — largely the merchants and others who sold goods to the 49ers, rather than the miners themselves. Because the 49ers loom large in the area’s history and imagination, you might want to invoke them at your Super Bowl Party.

Think “Chuck Wagon style” and serve hot dogs and beans, chili, or even Sloppy Joes in pie tins, a version of which the hungry miners would have eaten around a campfire. Add sourdough bread (above), cornbread, biscuits, chips, or goldfish crackers. Wash the food down with good ol’ sarsaparilla — known in these parts as root beer.

If you’d like, decorate your table with gold nuggets — paint small rocks with gold paint or glitter glue. Decorate your table or food in Niners colors, red and gold.

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens are a little tougher, as far as a theme goes. The team that reportedly got its name from Edgar Allen’s poem, The Raven, might inspire a dish with small foul, such as squab, quail, or chicken cutlets, like one of my favorite recipes, Chicken Cutlets with Raspberries, from the Silver Palate Good Times cookbook. (Frozen raspberries work as well as fresh.)

And if Ravens got you thinking about Blackbird Pie, you could make your own interpretation, and create a savory Chicken Pot Pie or a sweet Lattice-Top Blackberry Blackbird Pie from Paula Deen, in which the “bird” is merely decorative. The Baltimore Ravens’ colors are purple, gold, white and black.

Football Themed and Game Food

You didn’t think we were going to leave without presenting some football-themed food, did you? No matter who you’re rooting for, these are fun for any game day.

This impressive and super-fun football snackadium from Sunshine and Sippy Cups will feed a crowd.

I offer a wonderful guacemole recipe — my husband’s! — to use in your snackadium, or as a separate dip.

Soft pretzels are another Game Day crowd favorite. Kids love to make these, too. They begin, like the sourdough (above), by waiting for the dough to rise.

Looking for unusual and tasty cheese for the big game? Try Comte Raw Milk Gruyere, Hirtenkase, Coolea, Rolf Beeler

Need sweets? Decorate gingerbread or your other favorite cookies to make football cookies.

Both sides will be able to agree on these Double Chocolate Football Cupcakes from The Baker Chick.

Have fun enjoying enjoying an American pastime with family and friends. Go team!

Looking for more activity and game ideas for kids? See also:

Super Bowl Food and Games for Kids and Families, Chicago Now

How to Make Your Super Bowl Party Super Fun, Red Tricycle

 

 

 

Photos: Sunshine and Sippy Cups, Paula Deen, Romulo Yanes/Epicurious, Pillsbury, Sunshine and Sippy Cups, Morguefile, The Baker Chick

 

Make Yummy Desserts with Tillamook Yogurt

Ever since Tillamook introduced its regular and light yogurt, we’ve been eating it, well, almost as quickly as we eat Tillamook cheese. We recently decided to branch out from breakfast and check out some of the yogurt recipes on the Tillamook site. We were very glad we did!

My mom used to make yogurt pie, using a graham cracker crust. I so associate it with my childhood summers, and have made it for my family over the years. I was especially delighted to find this recipe for Yogurt Pie made with a shortbread crust and drizzled with melted chocolate. It’s delicious and kicks the traditional yogurt pie up a notch, while still being very easy to make.

Yogurts also make wonderful bases for smoothies and shakes. The Bronson Sunrise Smoothie is terrific in the morning, after a bike ride, or after school. We also like all these Shake recipes, which can be made in a blender to create a shake or a smoothie.

Tillamook yogurt contains no artificial sweeteners, no artificial flavors or colors, no high fructose corn syrup, and no artificial growth hormones.

Click the coupon below for “Buy one, get one free” Tillamook yogurt coupons.

Read my review of Tillamook yogurt flavors.

Tillamook provided sponsorship and coupons to facilitate this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Geminid Meteor Shower Promises a Spectacular Show

Now playing overhead: The dramatic Geminid Meteor Shower, which many astronomers agree is the best meteor shower of the year.

The Geminid Meteor Shower is forecast to peak late Thursday/early Friday Dec. 13-14, between around 10 p.m. and sunrise, at your local time, in North America. If you can’t stay up that late, not to worry — astronomers tell us that some meteors should be visible as soon as darkness hits. In addition, the shower lasts for days before and after the peak date, and there have already been reports from around the world of people spotting many spectacular fireball-like celestial streaks in just minutes.

This year’s shower coincides with a new moon, so the sky should be extra dark for excellent viewing. NASA scientists, like Bill Cooke of the NASA Meteoroid Environment Office, predict a fantastic show, aided by the possible appearance of a second, newly discovered meteor shower.

What is a meteor shower?

Meteors occur when the Earth passes through streams of dust and debris from ancient comets which have entered the Earth’s atmosphere. (When the comet has flown close to the sun, its dirty ice evaporated and that, in turn, caused the comet dust to spew into space.) Scientists believe that the Geminids actually come from an asteroid, called 3200 Phaethon, which is really the skeleton of an extinct comet. The Earth passes through this particular debris stream each December, and is said to originate near the constellation Gemini.

How to watch the Geminid Meteor Shower

The Geminids should be visible with the naked eye in North America and perhaps in other parts of the world. Sky watchers in cold climates should bundle up, grab a chair (ideally one with some neck support), and perhaps a blanket, head outside where you can see the largest patch of night sky possible (with as little city light as possible), and look up.

Because meteor showers last for days before and after the projected peak, be sure to scan the skies during the surrounding days, if you can.

A thermos of hot chocolate is a great accompaniment for the Geminids.

This shower has been getting stronger every year it’s been recorded, going back the the 1860s. It could be “an amazing annual display”, according Cooke of

This American Meteor Society page is a great site for exploring more about the Geminids and where and when to see them in your local night sky.

This movie of the 2008 Geminids comes from a space camera at the Marshall Space Flight Center:

Watch the 2008 Geminid Meteor Shower

31 Awesome Pumpkin Recipes

 

Trick or treat! A pumpkin recipe for every day in October, including some that might surprise you.

Row 1, left to right:

Pumpkin challah from The Jew and the Carrot

Pumpkin cheesecake with white ginger chocolate from A Farm Girl Dabbles

Pumpkin pie with maple crumb topping from Kids Cooking

Pumpkin cookie cake from Hello Moye

Soft frosted pumpkin spice cookies from The Baker Chick

Row 2, left to right:

Chocolate chip pumpkin bars from Cook Woman Food

Rice cooker pumpkin sage risotto from Le Delicieux

Pumpkin ice cream from The Baker Chick

Roasted pumpkin with shallots and sage from Martha Stewart

Pumpkin butterscotch cake from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

Row 3, left to right:

Pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese frosting from Family Bites

Pumpkin polenta pumpkins from My Recipes

Pumpkin crunch cake from The Picky Apple

Pumpkin garlic knots from Handle the Heat

Row 4, left to right:

Baked pumpkin oatmeal from Cooking with My Kid

Pumpkin whoopie pies with maple cream cheese frosting from Brown Eyed Baker

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles from A Bitchin Kitchen

Pumpkin spice cashew cheese dip from Lunch Box Bunch

Brown butter pumpkin cake with honey cinnamon frosting from Redeeming the Table

Row 5, left to right:

Homemade pumpkin spice latte from Confections of a Foodie Bride

BPA-free pumpkin pie from Mother Nature Network

Pumpkin cookies from Delicious

Baked pumpkin donuts from Sweetened with Honey

Pumpkin cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream from Made in Melissa’s Kitchen

More recipes:

Pumpkin pie cupcakes from Une-deux Senses

Pumpkin cookies with cream cheese icing from House of Hepworths

Pumpkin cinnamon rolls with caramel from The Girl Who Ate Everything

Pumpkin hummus from Naturally Ella

Arabian squash cheese casserole from Mollie Katzen

Adzuki bean pumpkin casserole from Scandi Foodie

With all these pumpkin recipes, you’ll probably have plenty of pumpkin seeds. Why not roast them? Pumpkin seeds are delicious and nutritious roasted, and they will give your home a wonderful fall smell.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

You’ll need:

Pumpkin seeds
Cookie sheet
Olive or other oil
Salt or
1 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon allspice, ¼ teaspoon cloves

Preheat oven to 275.

Rinse pumpkin seeds and remove any pulp.

Dry on paper towels.

Brush a cookie sheet with oil.

Place seeds on the cookie sheet in a single layer and sprinkle with salt or cinnamon, ginger and allspice mix.

Bake for approx. 20 minutes or until roasted, checking and stirring them after 10 minutes.

This recipe is from FED UP WITH FRENZY: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World, which contains many other recipes and fun ways to enjoy all the seasons.

 

 

 

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