Monthly Archives: October 2012

5 Things You think You Won’t Need, But Really Do …When your new baby arrives!

  1. Diapers. You may think that you got plenty of diapers for your baby shower but those will only last so long! You will only be able to take advantage of the newborn size for what seems like a heartbeat and even if you got 60, 3-tier diaper cakes, you’re going to need to have at least one package of each size on hand just in case one day you find they just don’t fit!
  2. Two diaper bags, if not more. You really think you’re only going to need one diaper bag? It might seem silly to register for more than one diaper bag, but if you have two packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice, once you have your baby at home it will save you tons and tons of time (and sanity). Whether you store your extra bag in the hall closet, or in your backseat, make sure it is stocked with a spare change of clothes or three, bottles, blankets, diapers (of course) , powdered formula, teething biscuits, a toy or two and just to stay really well prepared, a spare dose of headache medicine for you.
  3. Absorbent pads-so many absorbent pads that you think you will never need them all! But you will…
  4. Housekeeping. Whether you enlist a family member or friend or a professional service, you will definitely need some help with the housework. Trust me, it is not too much to ask to have someone come and help out with a load of sheets, vacuum or a little bathroom scrub. There are low-cost private companies who will try to fit your budget too if you don’t feel like accepting help from your well-meaning family and friends.
  5. Dinner. While you are spending all of your time making sure your little one has everything they need and the steady stream of meals that were overflowing your refrigerator have now dwindled down, look into a meal delivery service like MagicKitchen.com. Frozen, prepared meals that will make dinner so much easier to prepare-just heat and eat.  They stay in the freezer so when you need a little help getting dinner done, trust that you will have something tasty and healthy to go to.

  Mariel, MagicKitchen.com blogger

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Bring a bit of the Mediterranean into your Breakfast


Image by gpadams

It’s amazing how much a place can be associated with its food. I’ve discovered that food is a great way for me to keep my connection going with the Mediterranean every time I return from there.

One of my favorite things about being in the Mediterranean is that I’m always incredibly chilled while I’m there. Quite quickly after leaving, I’ll fall out of these daily rhythms, work takes over, and I’ll miss more and more breakfasts by the day.

I’ve decided to commit myself to preparing a quick and easy Greek/ Mediterranean inspired breakfast at least 3 times a week. If you want to follow suit, here are some of my favourite, practical breakfast dishes – why not get out some of your table cloths this weekend and enjoy some of these early dishes with a few friends?

The Classic Greek Breakfast – Tomatoes, Feta & Bread

Simple, classic, and so good! Typically, Greeks don’t eat until pretty late, but this breakfast keeps them going for a long time! This is a great dish to have with company, so get your gingham tablecloths out and let the morning eating commence!

Organize some baskets of:

Tomatoes – If possible, some ripe, juicy, sweet ‘On the Vine’ tomatoes!

Bread – Wholemeal bread, white, bread and rye bread are all great choices – and fresh and warm is always good, but in the end whatever you prefer.

Olive Oil – None of this bread will be ready to eat Med style without some Olive Oil to drizzle over it, but look into the kind you buy – the cheapest kind is unlikely to be pleasant to the taste and carries hardly any nutritional value. If you’re going to make a habit of the Med style, investing in some good quality olive oil is probably worth it.

Feta – Feta now can be found in most supermarkets and delis but if you have problems getting hold of it, goat’s cheese or some other soft sour cheeses should do the trick just as well – maybe ask your nearest cheese-counter/deli for advice if you’re unsure as to which kind.  Why not opt for a few mixes – Mozzarella always makes a good addition!

Herbs and fruit juice, the finishing touches – When it comes to herbs I’d recommend some Oregano and Parsley, and when serving fruit juice, make sure it’s chilled – nothing worse than tepid fruit juice! I’d also suggest getting some oranges in and squeezing your own, most shop bought juices have a ton of sugar!

The Mediterranean Omelet

You can’t get much simpler than an omelet and it’s a sure fire way to get you going for the day! It’s not hard to add a bit of Mediterranean to the omelet you’re more regularly used to. Just sprinkle some fresh spinach, cut and quartered cherry tomatoes, and about 100g of crumbled Feta cheese to the usual egg and butter mix; it’s also best eaten once all the cheese has melted and with as much black pepper as you want to add to it, Mediterranean flavor is all about that pepper punch! When serving, fold over and slide onto a plate – yum. (A few olives on the side wouldn’t go a miss either!)

 

Image by Uberculture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greek Yoghurt , Wild Honey, a Fruit Extravaganza

Image by: Kari Sullivan

This is a great healthy dish that will give you enough natural energy and carbohydrates to keep going until lunch easy enough. Get some figs in, get some peaches in, get some plums and slice it all up to lie around a large place. Get some melon in, and remove its outside before chopping into small squares, add to your plate with some fresh strawberries, and I love a bit of Vanilla granola in the mix. Finally get your Greek yoghurt and pour a pile into the centre of dish before adding a bit of wildflower honey to the whole lot.

These three some of my favorite dishes because they literally couldn’t be easier to prepare, on an average morning, people rarely have time to spend long in the kitchen before they have to be on their way somewhere or getting on with something.

These are all dishes I might actually make eat on any regular morning and fill the Med-void in my life when I’m not there, many more where these came from though!

Elise Lévêque is a bubbly freelance writer, foodie lover who enjoys sharing new recipes with her friends. She blogs for Wipe Easy Tablecloth, where she recently found lovely gingham tablecloths, ideal for country homes.


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Cookbook Review: Ultimate Bread

Review of Ultimate Bread by Eric Treuille & Ursula Ferrigno.

This is one of the favorite cookbooks in my admittedly sparse collection. I always wanted to bake bread, and this was suggested to me as a good place to start. The book starts out with a mouthwatering “Gallery of Breads”, with pictures of breads from around the world and explanations of the various types. That’s enough to get your hands itching to get into some dough.

Next the authors explain all the tools and methods for bread-making, with large informative images that you will come back to again and again. As a beginner, I started out at the top, with their “Pan Ordinaire” or Basic Bread. It came out of the oven all golden brown and perfect. What a great feeling!

I moved on to several other recipes in their basic bread section, like Portuguese Corn Bread, Scots Baps and Country Oatmeal bread. Each recipe has a huge picture of how the bread is supposed to turn out. (and for the most part, mine looked pretty similar).

What I absolutely love about this book, aside from it’s great detail and pictures, is that it gives you a section called “Flavored Breads”.  I’ve never before seen a book with recipes for Carrot Bread (incredible, moist and dense and slightly sweet), Pumpkin bread,  Cheese bread (a flat bread a crunchy crust and cheddar cheese melted all over it), Walnut Bread,  Tomato and Red Onion bread, and even Dark Chocolate Bread! This cookbook really gets your imagination revved up, and I’m still excited by all the possibilities. Too bad it’s too hot to bake right now!

Oh, I forgot about the Rolled Stromboli- rolled hearth bread filled with smoked mozzarella and fresh basil. And the Foccacia filled with mozzarella and gorgonzola. Oh my! Imagine the entertaining you can do!

Next is the section on enriched breads, where you add butter, oil or eggs to make the dough softer. Here you have Brioche, Parker House Rolls and Cinnamon Raisin Bread.

The they take you through flatbread from Greece, Turkey, Italy and the Middle East. They go quickly through the quick breads and into Festive Breads. Here they show you how to make a Christmas Stollen, a Challah, Pan de Muerto and Epiphany bread.

It’s a trip through Breadland that you won’t want to miss, even if you don’t bake them. This book gets 5 stars!

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A Birthday Cake to Remember

Here’s a cute guest blog from a lady from England. You might need to look up a couple of her references!

There are advantages and disadvantages of giving birth to your daughter on New Years Eve!

The advantages are obvious – I will never forget her birthday, I can do one lot of frantic gift shopping to cover both Christmas and birthday present, I can never quite find enough available small guests to warrant holding a birthday party on ‘The Big Day’. What a pity!

The disadvantages – on her day of birth, being woken by the fireworks at midnight when we’d both just nodded off (we both bawled our eyes out!) and not being able to find decent supermarket birthday cakes for love nor money between Christmas and New Year.

The amount of time and tears spend trawling round the shops after Boxing day looking for that elusive cake – whether it be Barbie pink, Spongebob Squarepants or hedgehog shaped, the search was usually fruitless and disappointing for all concerned.

Now I’m no domestic goddess by any stretch of the imagination but I came to the conclusion some time ago that I could probably produce something myself which would not only get me out of a sticky last minute shopping situation but also give mother and daughter some creative ‘us’ time doing something creative together.

Taking on the ‘hedgehog’ theme I found I could take advantage of the festive season by picking up an enormous plain Yule log (at a discounted price!) which would make an ideal hedgehog body.

I explained my ideas to my young daughter who immediately ‘wanted to help’.  We donned the aprons, rolled our sleeves up and got to work. I showed my daughter how to make chocolate butter cream icing and how to smear it all over the ‘hedgehog’ without getting it over the floor, herself and the dog. We carefully stuck white chocolate button ‘spines’ all over its body and used some liquorice allsorts for googly eyes and nose.

OK, it wasn’t the prettiest woodland creature you ever saw and I hadn’t even warmed the oven up, but my little girl was so impressed with our creation and that afternoon was full of fun and laughter, an hour or two of special time together which my daughter still recalls.

I’m sure when the time comes, I will not resort to similar means to produce a wedding cake for my daughter, I will order a ready-made one in good time. Whether it makes it to the table without being adorned with chocolate buttons and liquorice is another matter.

If you are not a domestic goddess like the author Joanne Garrick, you should order your special birthday cakes from www.eatyourphoto.co.uk. Or order a chocolate layer cake from MagicKitchen.com

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Ten Perfect Meals for Fall

We’ve never done a photo feature before on this blog, and this seemed like a perfect way to do it. Here are ten awesome easy meals for fall, with photos by the quite wonderful Amanda Koo.

Beef Pot Roast- incredibly tender beef with lots of gravy, this is so good and ready in five minutes.

Easy Meatloaf- everyone loves meatloaf, and this has just the right texture and a great sauce.

Chicken Marsala- tender boneless skinless chicken in a rich Marsala wine sauce.

Roasted Turkey Breast- Turkey for dinner, and lots of sandwich leftovers for school or work.

Apple-Sage Stuffing for the turkey above, or other meals.

Beef Short ribs in Beer and Wine Sauce. Add a little rice and you’re in heaven,

Beef Stroganoff with Pasta- a Classic hearty dinner, ready in five minutes!

These peppers are stuffed with a dense mixture of beef and spices, and smothered in the best marinara sauce ever.

Chicken Parmigiana- crunchy, cheesy, and sauced with marinara.

Corned Beef Brisket just says fall. Hearty meals with vegetables of all kinds from Fall’s basket.
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