You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2011.

Well, I had it, but the bubble burst, lol.  The middle of January found me handing my children over to the “Original Stressed out Dinner Mom” aka, my mother Marsha and my father so I could jet off to balmy San Francisco for the annual Fancy Food Show.  For 6 days and 5 nights, I had the pleasure of not having to cook.  I forgot how GREAT it is not only to have someone else cook for me, but to actually do the dishes too!!  It got me thinking… For way too long, I’ve just simply DONE everything in my kitchen without having anyone help me.  Not for any other reason than, I can do it better, and faster myself.

When the bubble burst and I came home (don’t worry- it was a successful trip & we found a ton of new products we’re going to introduce soon- can you say all-natural chocolate sauce that’s to DIE for???) I was rested and relaxed but most of all, inspired to re-organize our dinner routine so I could get the help I needed.  I have heard many moms say “It’s too much HASSLE to have the kids in the kitchen with me!”  and I’ve also heard from adults who can’t cook  “My mom NEVER let me in the kitchen- how could I learn??”  So what can we do?  Find balance.  Get your kids involved little by little in a way that you ALL can adapt to- it’s good for all of you.

Now, I will say, in our house, it’s taken a bit of adjustment, lol.  When we are stuck in our habits, it’s hard to break out of them (especially the kids!!) but I realized that it simply was WORTH the pain to get the kids to help in the kitchen.  The learning curve won’t be that great, thanks to the dog the mess on the floor CAN actually be kept to a minimum, and the skills I am teaching them will not only help me, but help them for  a lifetime to come.

In addition, it’s inspired me to create a Time Savor Gourmet Kids in the Kitchen cooking class in conjunction with Mountain Restaurant Supply in Newburgh.  We held the first class this past Saturday to a sold out crowd of 8-12 year olds and had an amazing time.  They learned a lot (and so did I!)  More classes are forthcoming, so check the link above for the schedule.

This week finds my children learning how to set the table.  How to walk with sharp knives (I’m actually having the kids use sharp, steak-type knives at the table to cut their food as it makes it SO much easier for them to cut and I’m sitting there watching them the whole time, so they’re learning knife skills too!) and the most important one of all?  How to load the dishwasher.  Yup, I’ve given up control of the organization of the dishwasher.  The minute I realized that I was micromanaging the silverware was the minute I said “whoa- what the heck has happened to you Stacey??”  Does it REALLY matter anyway?  The answer is, absolutely not.  Especially since next week, I’m going to teach them next how to put all the stuff in there- away!

On average, I try to cook two vegetarian meals a week.  I have a few reasons for this: our health, our wallets, and the environment.  In other words, vegetarian meals are often healthier (no artery-clogging animal fats), usually more affordable than buying beef/chicken/etc., and there is less energy usage to produce, transport, and sell vegetarian items than animal proteins.  The two caveats to vegetarian night: my husband is less than interested in eating a non-meat meal, so I have to be really creative and make the meal enticing; and I worry about sufficient protein.  A true vegetarian night cannot be a bowl of pasta– it must consist of beans, dairy, eggs, or a combination of the three, and I make sure we’ve all had a high-protein lunch to balance out the day.  Lastly, it helps if vegetarian night includes fresh bread, as everyone here loves it, and gets dazzled by a crunchy loaf of warm goodness.

Our most recent vegetarian night

Spaghetti squash parmesan, steamed vegetables, sliced pears, and braided whole wheat bread.  This is my older daughter’s all-time favorite meal, and credit goes to my friend, Danielle, who first introduced me to this dish.  It’s incredibly simple to make, and has an additional health boost hidden inside.  To make this dish, cook both a spaghetti squash and butternut squash.  Either wash, pierce with fork, and microwave each for 2-3 minutes per lb, or prepare the spaghetti squash as instructed here and butternut squash as instructed here.  Next, scoop the spaghetti-like strands from the spaghetti squash into a 9 x 13 baking dish (I always prefer glass dishes).  Gently mash the butternut squash, and mix 2/3 cup of butternut squash with one cup of your favorite marinara sauce. Mix well into spaghetti squash strands.  Spread two cups of shredded light mozzarella cheese over the top of the baking dish, and cover with foil.  Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes, until bubbly.  The butternut squash may seem like a surprising addition, but it mellows the tartness of marina, and makes it more appealing to children.

Along with the meal, we had Braided Whole Wheat bread.  This recipe came from Canada’s Best Bread Machine Baking Recipes, and was quite easy to make.  For those without a bread machine, I’m sure the recipe could easily be adapted to be made by hand.  I used to be quite afraid of making bread and shaping dough, but after a few attempts, it is surprisingly easy, and the results are well worth the effort.

To find out what’s for dinner at our house, please join me here or become a fan on Facebook.

Happy eating!

I recently saw this game on a newsletter I receive, The Daily Grommet, and had to have it. I contacted the PR department and pretty soon I was in possession of my very own game called Jishaku.

It is a game unlike any other. The goal is to get all of your pieces on the board first. The issue is this: the pieces are very strong magnets. They kind of look like rocks and are actually called “stones” in the game. The board is an enclosed eggcrate (like the one that goes on your bed) with 22 – 23 “wells” or spaces to put your stone.

The game is easier said than done. Once you get a few magnets on the board they seem to develop a mind of their own. They jump around and they also jump up unexpectedly and attach to each other. When it does that, you have to pick up all of the magnets that stuck together and put them in your hand…(sigh). My son beat me repeatedly I must admit. He seemed to get the hang of how they behaved. Me, I just kept picking them up… The whole family tried it out and we had a great time laughing at each other as the stones came flying up off the board and into our hands.

I say, pick up Jishaku. It will give the family lots of fun and laughs.

Jishaku is recommended for kids 14+ and retails for around $19.95. It can be found on the web.  It is also sold at Barnes & Noble.

Classical music can appeal to a wide range of people. Picture two back to back grand pianos on the concert stage, a narrator relates the story of the Royal March of the Lion, Hens and Roosters, Quick Animals, Tortoises, The Elephant, Aviary and Fossils, The Swan and more. The gifted, seasoned pianists performed in magical communion: Ruthanne Schempf and Ada Margoshes masterfully portray the animals on the ivories, whilst the Symphony Orchestra accompanies them.

During this concert, in the audience, the mouths of the little ones hung open in wonder and delight. The Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra (GNSO), in its most accessible-to-children-mode at Mount St. Mary’s Aquinas Hall on January 15 was a delightful reminder that classical music teaches and inspires. A musical suite of fourteen movements (yes, the kids sat through them all, and happily) by the French Romantic composer Camille Saint Saëns exhibited to the kids that music tells a story and can make life better.

Considered a frivolous piece in his time (written in 1886), Saint Saëns wouldn’t allow it to be performed until after his death. Thank goodness it premiered in 1922 for the good of all the audiences since then, but especially because music teachers the world over find it most effective in teaching the parts of the orchestra, among other lessons for music education. Along with Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, The Carnival of the Animals is a favorite classic for children of all ages.

The staff at Hudson Valley Parent receives a lot of parenting products to review, so many that sometimes we can’t get to them ourselves. We were lucky enough to receive this review of The Tony Hawk: SHRED game for X-box 360 from a staff’s family member. His conclusion? This game is worth a look. Sounds perfect for snowy days because you have to get up and move around instead of just sitting with a controller. I’ll let our reviewer explain:

“SHRED is a great simulation-type skateboarding game.  The setup of the wireless board took only minutes, while the calibration took another 2 minutes or so.  Not being a skateboarder, I found this game to be very user-friendly.  The controller board was easy to stand on, while realistically bending and turning as an actual skateboard would do.  The 4 sensors located around the board allowed me to perform “grabs” and “ollies”, along with some more advanced skateboarding tricks.  The tutorials and training modes during setup allow for some practice and understanding of the game play while you get the feel for the board.  You can watch the practice videos and tutorials as many times as you need to feel comfortable playing the game.

I played for a little more than one hour without even realizing it.  It is quite addicting when you see the player on-screen imitating your every move on the board while skating through exotic skate parks.  Also, this game proved to be a surprising workout as I was visibly sweating after the hour of game play.  I’d recommend this game to anyone looking to have some fun, burn a few calories, and simulate skateboarding without the risk of injury.”

What did you like about this product?

1.  Tutorials – not being a skateboarder I was able to pick up on the tricks quickly.

2. Controller Board – the controller board is as realistic of a skateboard as you can find without wheels.  The board was simple to set up and easy to use.

3. On-screen graphics – the player I chose to ride as me imitated my every move while cruising through beautiful skate parks and amusement parks.  Very realistic!

What did you dislike about this product?

1. Calibration – Calibrating the board can be potentially difficult if you are not deliberate with the actions on the board.  I had no trouble calibrating but my girlfriend did have some trouble following my game play.

2. Tricks – Some of the tricks are a little difficult to perform and took a while in the skate park for me to complete them even though I was doing what the tutorial said.

3.  Saving – If you do not chose to sign-in and save your progress, the board needs to be calibrated and setup as if you’ve never played before.

Would you recommend this product to parents? Yes or No

YES!

*Please note that Tony Hawk: SHRED is rated “E” (Everyone – content that may be suitable for ages six and older) by the ESRB.  Players can also visit Tony Hawk: SHRED’s interactive website at www.shredgame.com and learn how to master over-the-top skate and snowboarding gameplay tricks and explore new game info, soundtrack details, dozens of training videos, talent bios, gameplay tips and more. Tony Hawk: SHRED is available for Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, and Nintendo Wii™.

Children are a blessing. How often do we remind ourselves of that? Well, if you have a child at or around the age of two, you probably have to remind yourself multiple times a day. That’s the age our young lasses and lads truly begin to assert themselves, and we parents start walking the tightrope between discipline and insanity.

Little Princess

Our daughter turned two this past October, placing us hip deep in daily tantrums. “Here sweetie, take your vitamin” is met with the reply “no Dada I don’t want it”. “O.K. sweetie, time for your bath” can turn into a cross-country race and I’m here to tell you, for a two-year old she sure can move. Our hands-down daily favorite is putting her to sleep. She usually refuses to go to sleep in her crib, opting instead to stand up, grab the bars, and yell the two-year old equivalent of Attica, Attica!

I’ve heard that when this part of her development is over, I will actually miss these times. My response at this point is “well, if you say so”.

Parents of children with disabilities are often unsure of where to turn for financial and health care assistance for their children. There are several options available, each with its own qualifications.

Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, provides monthly payments for children with disabilities who are under 18 who meet the government’s definition of disability, and who have little or no income and resources.  The amount of SSI that the child will receive varies by state.  To qualify, the household’s total income and resources must be below a certain amount, and the child cannot earn more than a certain dollar amount each month.

Social Security Disability Insurance, also known as SSDI, provides benefits to disabled or blind persons who are “insured” by workers contributions to the Social Security trust fund. These contributions are based on the individual’s earnings or the earnings of the spouse or parent according to the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). Title II of the Social Security Act authorizes SSDI benefits. Dependents of those insured under SSDI may also be eligible for these benefits.

Medicaid can provide access to health care to children with disabilities. Some states will approve a child for Medicaid if he or she is already receiving SSI. Other states require a separate application process. However, SSI is not a prerequisite for Medicaid.

Families with slightly higher incomes may qualify for State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP), which covers a wide variety of health care needs. S-CHIP is a good alternative for families who do not meet the requirements for Medicaid, but who cannot afford to pay for private insurance.

There may be other financial and health care assistance options available depending on your state. If you are a parent who would like more information about financial and health care options, contact an experienced special needs planning attorney.

To learn more about New York elder law, New York estate planning, or New York Special Needs visit http://www.littmankrooks.com.

Lately we’ve been attempting to lower our overall bread/pasta/carb intake as a whole.  I’m by no means endorsing a carb-free lifestyle– I think balance is essential for the majority of folks– but to focus more on fruit/vegetables, dairy, and protein rather than making carbs the main course has been our goal.  This seems to be most challenging in our house at breakfast and dinner.  Cold cereal is a frequent weekday meal, while eggs with pancakes or waffles is common on weekends, and who doesn’t love pasta as a side dish on a cold winter’s eve?

As a compromise, whole grains come into play.  Whole wheat flour or whole grain pastry flour are excellent ways to utilize carbs while upping the nutritional value and fullness factor.  Adding in lots of fruits and veggies is another way we’ve been balancing it out.  Here’s a recent day:

Whole grain blueberry pancakes.  Using a typical pancake recipe, but substituting whole grain pastry flour (which is very light and fluffy) for half of the flour made these possible.  Adding two cups of frozen blueberries enhanced them further.  This was a two-hour delay morning, so there wasn’t time for eggs or anything extra, but I gave my kids some low-fat cheese sticks and sliced oranges to round out the meal.

Later that day, our meal was chicken potpie with a whole wheat biscuit crust, green salad with steamed vegetables, and cantaloupe.  Again, this was a meal that did include carbs, but the whole grain biscuit crust made it healthier.  Further, lots of veggies on the side meant we ate less of the main course and more healthy greens.  The potpie came from a favorite cookbook of mine, Make it Fast, Cook it Slow, and was made in the crock pot.  I’m sure it can be adapted for a conventional oven (as I’ve made potpie before) but the recipe can be found here.

Stop by to see what we’re having for dinner, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy eating!

Monroe-Woodbury  High School has been rocked by two student suicides which occurred nine days apart. As grief counselors fan out to help students and families cope, they’re also scrambling to prevent copycat cases from occurring.  A high-profile teen suicide can cause others to follow suit. In fact, in some countries, teen suicides are not reported, in an effort to keep other teens from getting any ideas.

School officials say they don’t believe the two deaths were related. A 14-year-old freshman killed himself on Tuesday. The 16-year-old junior who committed suicide earlier was on the school’s football team. Friends and families have been left asking why, especially since the cases are not isolated. There has also been an attempted suicide by one student and a suicide threat by another.

Studies show that suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers. Experts say that the onset of winter poses a dangerous time for those susceptible to depression. Combined with the fact that teenagers can be impressionable; mental health specialists have plenty cause for concern.  Parents who think their child is at risk, should look for warning signs, such as depression and changes in behavior. The school is planning to hold sessions with parents this week to explain risk factors in detail. It’s important to seek counseling quickly.

Friends of both teens have set up Facebook pages in remembrance of them. One page posts a reminder to visitors about the importance of telling others if they’re considering suicide, while the other makes reference to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and the Jason Foundation, which is another suicide prevention organization. If you know of someone who is at risk, contact Orange County’s 24-hour mobile mental health clinic at 888-750-2266, the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK or email AFSP at afsp.org.

I’ve spent most of my life in top physical shape. Two years ago I found myself on the opposite end of that spectrum, when I realized I could no longer shop at a regular clothing store. There was no escaping it, I was obese. I tried several diets including Atkins and South Beach to no avail. Then, a friend gave me a book titled “Eat Right For Your Blood Type”, by Dr. Peter D’Adamo, and the sky opened up.

Dr. D’Adamo asserts that your blood type dictates which foods your body is most capable of turning into fuel. Each blood type (O, A, B, or AB) has a distinctive diet in line with that blood type’s evolution and history. While the right diet can recalibrate your metabolism, speed weight loss, and provide you with energy you thought only teenagers possessed, the wrong diet can cause a host of health problems, including obesity.

The upshot is I lost 50 lbs in 4 months and now follow the diet about 60% of the time. Many in the mainstream have labeled this diet a fad with no basis in reality. In my reality it works just fine. For more information you can visit the author’s website or if you want abbreviated dos and don’t s go here.

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