Eats | Family

Fun Activities for National Pretzel Day

By on April 26, 2017
national-pretzel-day

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Today is National Pretzel Day and all I can say is that they make a day for everything, don’t they.  In the spirit of National Pretzel Day, I have planned out a cute little itinerary for me and my daughter that you can definitely try, too.  I’m a bookworm and love cuddling up with my daughter and reading a book, so today we will read a fun little book that requires some problem-solving and munch on some sweet pretzel snacks.

Sweet Pretzel Snack Recipe

chocolate-covered-pretzels

This is a super easy snack to make and it doesn’t really need a recipe.  Since it’s so easy to make, a toddler can help make it with a little adult supervision.

Ingredients

  • a handful of pretzels
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips
  • Optional: toppings made from crushed Oreos or finely chopped peanuts

Recipe

  1. Place one cup of chocolate chips (milk or white works best for toddlers) in a bowl and microwave for two minutes.  The time will vary based on your microwave power.  Some will fully melt the chocolates in 30 seconds!  Mine takes two minutes.
  2. Dip the pretzels into the chocolate and roll it around in the bowl of toppings, if you have them.  If your toddler is helping, you can have her dip half the pretzel in chocolate. Half chocolate pretzels are pretty cool, too.  If you want to add the drizzled chocolate lines, you can scoop more melted chocolate into a small sandwich bag, cut a very tiny corner off, and squeeze out over the pretzels.
  3. Spread them on a plate and let them harden for 15 minutes in the refrigerator.  If you place the dipped pretzels on top of wax paper before letting them harden, it’ll be a whole lot easier to remove them from the plate.

Read Walter the Baker

Walter the Baker by Eric Carle is a fun little story to read on National Pretzel Day.  It’s a story about a baker who receives a challenge from the duke after he makes a mistake.  The challenge is to bake a roll that uses one piece of dough, but allows the sun to shine through three times.  Walter struggles to meet the challenge until he finally has a breakthrough.  This is a great story about not giving up, although I must say the personality of the duke is less than stellar.

Walter the Baker by Eric Carle

national-pretzel-day

What are some fun ways you are celebrating National Pretzel Day with your kids?  Leave a comment and share below!

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Eats

Veggie Pizza Bites

By on March 31, 2017
veggie-pizza-bite-title

It’s been awhile since I wrote a recipe that’s toddler-friendly.  If you are interested in the last two toddler-friendly recipes I wrote, check out Carrot Yam Bake and Peanut Chocolate Pear.  Today’s recipe is a quick and easy snack that involves a variety of veggies.  Veggie Pizza Bites uses zucchini, mushrooms, and red pepper…all which my daughter love in soup.  Now, I’ll be honest…while this is toddler-friendly, it’s not a guarantee that your toddler will like it right away.  I mean, it is all vegetables and they aren’t fully cooked so that everything is soft and tender.  If your young child is past the texture-hating phase, this will probably go better for you.

veggie-pizza-bite-bunny

veggie-pizza-bite

Veggie Pizza Bites Recipe

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 zucchini
  • red pepper hummus
  • a handful of button mushrooms
  • 1 red pepper
  1. Slice the zucchini in 0.25 inch thick circles.  Dice the red pepper and mushrooms into small pieces.  Smaller the better, since they will be your toppings.
  2. Toss everything into a boiling pot of water and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.  This is to help make the vegetables tender for the toddler.  If this is for older children and adults, you can skip this step.  Drain the vegetables.
  3. Place zucchini circles on a plate.  Spread a small amount of red pepper hummus onto each circle.  Red pepper hummus best imitates tomato sauce in real pizzas, but if color doesn’t matter to you, feel free to use any other flavor of hummus.
  4. Sprinkle the diced veggies on top.  Let cool and enjoy.  You can use any other veggie toppings on your veggie pizza bites, too.  Red pepper and mushrooms just happen to be the ones my daughter loves.

veggie-pizza-bite-title

What vegetable toppings do you love on your veggie pizza bite?  Leave a comment and let me know!

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Eats

Korean Cooking: Jjajangmyeon at Home

By on
Jjajangmyeon-food

Last week was such a good week that I ended up spending the first half of this week studying various resources online and trying to solve a personal problem.  My last recipe was a spicy Korean dish that many of you were interested in trying, but might have found a bit too adventurous for your tastes.  No hard feelings!  Through the discussion of that recipe, I met Jhuls from The Not So Creative Cook (here’s her recipe for spicy Korean beef stir fry).  She mentioned how she would like to try Jjajangmyeon, a popular Korean dish, so I have decided to write a recipe for Paula’s Homemade Jjajangmyeon.

What is Jjajangmyeon?

Jjajangmyeon is a popular dish served in Korean owned Chinese restaurants.  It is a noodle dish mixed with a special black bean sauce.  There are different styles to this dish, but basically you get to add whatever veggies and meat you like.  Are you ready for another foodie adventure?

jjajangmyeon-before-mixing

Paula’s Homemade Jjajangmyeon Recipe

The thing about my home cooking is that I never measure any ingredients out.  I go by the look, feel, and taste of the food in progress to decide if I need to adjust anything.  I’m going to try and write a good recipe for you to follow along, but trust yourself to make the right judgement!

INGREDIENTS

  • Jar of 볶음 짜장 (bokkeum jjajang), which is fermented black bean paste
  • Some pork (or beef)
  • Some shrimp
  • Green onion
  • Onion
  • Potato
  • Carrot
  • Squash
  • Mushrooms
  • Olive oil
  • Starch powder
  • Kalguksu noodles 칼국수  (Asian flat noodles) or thin spaghetti noodles

The key ingredient for this recipe is the jar of fermented black bean paste.  Here is the one I used this time around, but there are plenty of brands to choose from.

jjajangmyeon-black-bean-paste

  1. Chop and dice the green onions, onion, potato, carrot, squash, shrimp, and pork into tiny pieces.  You can store the pieces in one large bowl, except for the green onions and pork.  Put the green onion into the empty sauce pot.
  2. Add olive oil.  I add just until it barely covers the bottom of the pot, but not too much.  You don’t want oily sauce.  Heat the pot on medium heat and fry the green onion pieces a bit.  Add pork and continue to fry until meat is cooked.
  3. Add the rest of the diced pieces into the pot.  Mix well so that the olive oil mixture somewhat coats most of the entire contents.
  4. Add 2 to 3 spoonfuls of the black bean paste and mix well for about a minute. You don’t want the mixture sitting for too long since it can burn.
  5. Add some water to the pot so that you can see the water level and let the pot come to a boil.  Be sure to stir occasionally. In a separate bowl, mix starch and water in a 1:1 ratio.  Add the starch mixture to the pot to thicken the sauce. If you want thicker sauce, slowly stir in some more of the starch mix.  Add water to thin it out. Adjust as necessary.
  6. Add sauce to a bowl of cooked noodles, mix and eat. You can also mix with rice. I prefer using kalguksu noodles (boil for 4 minutes), but you can use thin spaghetti noodles (boil for 12 minutes) as well.
  7. Garnish with thin cucumber slices and enjoy.

bowl-mixed-jjajangmyeon

There you have it, a bowl of Jjajangmyeon. The tricky part is getting the consistency of the sauce right. I hope you enjoy!

Fun Fact: Korea has a made-up holiday just for eating Jjajangmyeon.  It’s called Black Day and it falls on April 14.  This day is for all the single people who couldn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day or White Day (March 14).

Jjajangmyeon-food

Will you try Jjajangmyeon on Black Day, regardless of your marital status?  Let me know if you’d like to see another Korean recipe and don’t forget to subscribe to the newsletter.

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Eats

Korean Cuisine Golbangi Muchim

By on March 19, 2017

Golbangi Muchim is a spicy Korean dish that my husband and I love.  It uses some interesting ingredients, but I highly recommend this dish to any adventurous foodies out there.  This is a great recipe to start with if you are new to cooking Korean food because it’s so easy to make, you really can’t go wrong.  If you want a nice easy snack to make along with this, I recommend Peanut Chocolate Pear as the refreshing taste of the Asian pear goes well with spicy food.

Koreans typically consider Golbangi Muchim to be a dish that goes well with Korean soju, a type of alcoholic drink.  I’m not much of a drinker, so I’m fine with pairing this dish with water.  Golbangi (골뱅이) is the Korean word for Bai-top shell, a type of sea snail.  Muchim (무침) is the Korean word for the mixture of ingredients together with sauce, much like salad with dressing.

Golbangi-muchim

Golbangi Muchim Recipe

Ingredients

  • one can of Bai-Top Shell
  • one cucumber
  • one onion
  • one carrot
  • a quarter sized bundle of makguksu (Asia-style noodles 막국수)
  • one spoonful of hot pepper paste
  • one spoonful of sugar
  • one spoonful of apple vinegar
  • Optional: a handful of dried pollack (북어채)
  1. Open one can of Bai-top Shell and pour all contents (including juice) into a large bowl.  Chop each bai-top shell piece into smaller, bite size pieces.  I typically cut one into three or four pieces.  Place them back into the bowl of juice so that it continues to soak in the flavor.
  2. Wash and peel the onion and carrot.  Wash cucumber.  Cutting the vegetables into narrow slices is preferable, but I sliced my carrot and cucumber into half circles just because it’s easier.   Place cut vegetables in a large mixing bowl.  Add a small handful of dried pollack, if you’d like.  I marked this as an optional ingredient.  Note: You can also add sliced cabbage and sliced green onions as well.
  3. Boil a pot of water on the stove.  You are about to cook makguksu, which should only be cooked for a very short amount.  Cooking these noodles for too long will cause them to clump together and fail to be noodles.  You have been warned.  Now, throw in the quarter sized bundle of makguksu noodles into the boiling pot of water and cook for 3 or 4 minutes.  Drain immediately and run cold water over the noodles briefly.
  4. In an empty bowl, add hot pepper paste, sugar, and apple vinegar in a 1:1:1 ratio.  I suggest going easy on the apple vinegar since you can easily overwhelm the flavor of the sauce if you’re not careful.  Mix thoroughly.
  5. Add Bai-top Shell pieces and the sauce to the large mixing bowl.  Add a little bit of the Bai-top Shell juice, as well.  Mix everything together.
  6. Place a single serving of the noodles into your final bowl.  Add enough of the mixture to top the noodles.  When you are ready to eat, mix it all together and enjoy!

I know that a lot of mixing takes place, but that is true to its name, golbangi muchim.  Spicyness will depend on how much hot pepper paste you add.  Adjust the sauce mixture to your own personal preferences.

Do you enjoy eating spicy food? Let me know what you think of this dish in the comments!

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Eats | Life

Peanut Chocolate Pear

By on March 9, 2017
peanut-chocolate-pear-recipe

I shared with you an easy recipe to make over the weekend.  Here is another one for you!  This is a little recipe I made and I’m so bad at coming up with names so…here is Peanut Chocolate Pear.  It’s a nice way to dress up Asian pears for a quick snack.  My daughter loves it and I enjoy eating it, too.  I’m sharing this with you in hopes that you will also enjoy this dish with your loved ones.

peanut-chocolate-pear-2

Peanut Chocolate Pear Recipe

Ingredients

  • One spoonful of peanut butter
  • One spoonful of milk chocolate chips
  • One Asian pear
  • Dried blueberries
  • Dried cranberries
  • Assorted nuts
  1. Wash, cut, and peel one Asian pear into slices.  This time around, I used the Chinese Yali pear, but you can use any variety of Asian pear, like the round Korean pear.  Place on a plate.
  2. Put one spoonful of peanut butter and one spoonful of milk chocolate chips into a microwave-safe measuring cup.  Microwave for one minute so everything melts and pours easily.  Drizzle over cut pears.
  3. Top with some dried blueberries, dried cranberries, and assorted nuts.  Don’t feed nuts to your toddler if she is unable to chew and swallow them safely.  Otherwise, enjoy!

Allergy Note:  Be aware that this recipe uses peanut butter and nuts.  If you or your child has a nut allergy, you could replace peanut butter with nut-free butter and do not top with additional nuts.

Let me know what you think of this little dish in the comments below!

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Eats

Carrot Yam Bake

By on March 4, 2017
carrot-yam-bake

My friends know that I’m not much of a foodie.  I’ve always been one of those people who eat to live.  Cooking was a chore that took too much time away from other things I loved doing (mainly reading or playing video games).  Once I became a mom, though, the weight of responsibility for feeding another, dependent human being was great.  I didn’t want my daughter to grow up simply eating to live.  No, I wanted her to enjoy eating so that she will grow up healthy and tall.

I want to share with you a simple, very easy recipe that my daughter and I love.  It involves eggs so it is best suited for toddlers age one and up (and after ensuring there are no egg allergies!).  My daughter wasn’t fond of eggs until closer to two years of age, so in the beginning, it was mainly me eating it all up.  I love eggs!

Easy to make, but eats up a lot of time.

 

Carrot Yam Bake Recipe

Servings: Who knows…my two year old can eat 3/4 of the amount in one sitting.

Ingredients: one carrot, one yam, one cup of whole milk, three eggs, one tablespoon of butter, salt and pepper

  1. Wash the yam to clean off any dirt.  Wash, peel, and chop carrot into small circles.  Put everything into a pot of water and boil.  This is where it takes a lot of time.  You want to boil until you can poke clear through the middle of the yam with a chopstick (or a fork) with very slight pressure.  Depending on the size of the yam, it can take 40 minutes or more.
  2. In a large bowl, place yam and carefully peel off the skin.  It will be hot, but it’s easier to remove the skin like this rather than attempting to peel it off an uncooked yam.  Add carrot slices to the bowl of peeled yam and mash everything together with a fork.
  3. Add the three eggs, one cup of whole milk, and one tablespoon of butter to bowl and mix thoroughly.  Add salt and pepper to taste if feeding an older toddler.  If it’s being served for a younger toddler, hold off on the salt and pepper.  They won’t need the extra flavoring.
  4. Preheat oven to 425F.  Prepare small baking dish, preferably with a lid.  It keeps moisture in so the bake doesn’t dry out.  Pour mixture from bowl into baking dish.  Place in preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes.  I like to bake for 20 minutes and then let it sit in the residual heat for another 5 minutes, just to make sure the eggs are thoroughly cooked.
  5. Let cool and serve.

My daughter still doesn’t like eggs much on their own, but she will gobble everything off her plate when it is carrot yam bake…with eggs.  Frankly, I would, too!

Try this recipe at home and let me know how you like it!  Are there any variations you did to make it your own?  Please share, I would love to try making different styles, too.

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