Thursday, March 18, 2010

Amazing Garlic Croutons

Here is an excellent use for bread ends or bread that isn't as moist and fresh as it used to be.  These croutons add an incredible pop of flavor to any salad or soup.  They are a great way to sneak more garlic into your diet.  Start to finish they take about 25 minutes and are very hands off.

Stale bread or bread ends (any kind will work)
Fresh garlic cloves (to taste, going a little overboard will make them extra tasty!)
Parmesan Cheese

Start by preheating the oven to 350 and dicing the bread into little cubes.  While the oven is preheating, throw a generous amount of butter into a heat proof dish and stick it in the oven.  Once the butter has melted, mince the garlic into the butter and stir to combine.  Next throw in the bread cubes and toss to coat them evenly.  Sprinkle them with pepper (they really don't need salt) and then transfer them to a baking dish (glass works well for this).  Make sure they are not too crowded because you want them to crisp up nicely.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until desired crispness.  Grate some Parmesan cheese over the top and allow to cool if using on a salad.  Enjoy!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Quality Apps for Kids

Don't get me wrong, I would not advocate the use of any electronic entertainment for preschoolers on a daily basis or for long stretches of time.  Children should be nurtured and cared for by real adults with real conversations and real world experiences.  I used to be very anti- video, dvd, and battery operated toy, but found that sometimes these forms of entertainment make life much easier.  I think they preserve our sanity as parents and when used minimally do no harm to our children.  I remember very well those days when a DVD meant I was able to get a shower without hearing my child screaming the whole time.  My pre baby ideals sorta went out the window at that point.

With that being said, I want to share with you these adorable preschool applications for Iphones and Ipods.  My 2 year old (23 months actually) LOVES my Ipod Touch and can turn it on, unlock the screen, scroll through a few pages of aps to her page.  Then she bounces back and forth between a few of her favorites (Jingle Bells, an animal spelling game, tic tac toe, doodle aps, etc).  Today I was trying to find one she had enjoyed playing on my sister's phone when I came across these adorable aps from Tickle Tap Aps.  We purchased Sound Shaker first and I knew we had found something special!  Then I picked up Field Flier because the little bird was such a hit, and since I want her to get a better grasp of numbers I got Count Caddy as well.  The graphics are so much cuter than anything else I have seen and the games are more creative.  These aps were $1.99 each but I think they are worth that.  Just make sure your kiddos enjoy them responsibly :)  Now if only Apple made something to keep toddlers out of the other applications (calendar, contacts, etc) when they exit their games!

Swiss Chard Even a Toddler Will Eat!

I am new to cooking greens and sometime feel intimidated by them.  I know they are so very nutritious but I wonder how they will taste and if my family will actually eat them.  Swiss Chard (or Rainbow Chard) however is easy and tasty!  I am sure there are many ways to prepare this green but here is what worked for me.  As you can see, I don't really use measurements when I cook things like this.  Just put the amount that looks right and enjoy!

  • one bunch chard (I used Rainbow as you can see above)
  • 1/2 red or yellow onion
  • fresh garlic to taste (3 cloves for us)
  • Butter or Coconut Oil, be generous!  It adds such good flavor.
  • Salt and Pepper, other seasoning to taste
  • Frozen Corn
  • Precooked sprouted lentils (optional)
  • Parmesan Cheese for topping
Thoroughly clean your greens then separate the stalks from the leafy part.  Chop the stalks and the onion and saute in butter or coconut oil for a minute.  Add in the garlic and salt and pepper as well as any other seasoning you like (crushed red pepper, granulated garlic, dried thyme, etc) and cook until just tender. 

 Meanwhile, roughly chop the leafy greens and add them once the stalks are slightly tender.  Continue to stir and cook until the greens are wilted. 

Then add frozen corn and lentils if desired.  The corn adds a sweetness that balances the earthy flavor of the chard and the lentils add protein and make this dish more satisfying.  Test for doneness and for flavor and top with Parmesan Cheese if desired.  If only it ended up as pretty as it started!