They’re Back!

Remember last year when Maggianos had Kids Cooking Classes? Well, they’re back and as fun as ever!

Why do we love them so much? Because kids learn a life skill while having fun! And “Foodies” are starting young these days. Don’t underestimate the kiddos- many of them have great palates just waiting to show their stuff.

The class breaks it down to a full meal from salad start to dessert finish.

With these classes they’ll learn time management. How? They start by making dessert! Since dessert needs to be baked, they teach how you can complete the meal while dessert is baking. What are they baking? A yummy apple crostata!

Hands on makes it fun and helps them get a feeling of independence.

So as their first creation is baking- it’s on to the salad!

Everyone loves the Maggiano’s house salad dressing.

While the kids are working in the chef game the parents get a lovely breakfast treat.

The class isn’t over yet! We still have to make the main course- lasagna!!

Chef Patrick takes them step by step through out each dish. And yes, he goes table to table to answer any questions or add addition guidance.

The entire meal that the mini chefs have created are packaged and bagged to be easily taken home to enjoy.

What? They don’t get to eat it there? Nope!!! Because this is Maggiano’s, and they have lunch for our star chefs in the making (yes, parents do too).

And it is from start to finish- delicious!!

So stay tuned for the next set of classes. Contact your nearest Maggiano’s for when their classes take place. Tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite.

Special thanks to the Maggiano’s Short Pump Richmond staff for these great classes

And a special shout out to JAMM_SHOTZ for the great photos!!

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Me and my Kitchen Gadgets

I love to cook, I love to experiment and try different cuisines. But when it comes to baking, I wish I could bake every day- though my husband says if I did he wouldn’t be able to fit out the door- HAHAHAHA!!

I’m not an experienced baker or a step away from having a bakery. I just love to bake- it is my zen!

With that being said, it takes a lot of restraint on my part to buy all those neat baking products and tools. Recently, there was a baking tool set, for some reason, I couldn’t resist!

While browsing Williams Sonoma on a recent trip to the mall…. I found the cutest thumbprint cookie cutters!! I know, it’s not that hard to make thumbprint cookies…. but, again it’s hard for me to resist. And home I went to make some cookie dough.

Why am I fascinated with them? They’re like cute little stampers!!

Too cute!!

And in an instance I have a tray full of “fancy ” cookies.

Now for the filling….. as you’ve noticed, I’ve been fascinated with the new Baileys Original Irish Cream baking chips from Clabber Girl. So, why not!

I made a ganache/ icing type filling for the cookies and piped them on.

It’s fancy, like a decadent treat! I may (or may not) have mentioned before, these wonderful baking chips are NON-alcoholic but still have that great Baileys flavor we all love.

Ready for any gathering or even put them in a pretty container as a gift!

Until we bake again!!

Spruce up Shortbread

I love simple cookies like shortbread, or another cookie I found called Amish cookies- just like a shortbread just thinner.

They’re light, but sometimes they can be a little …. boring. I need something to spruce them up!

From my last article I shared a recipe using these great new baking chips from Clabber Girl, Baileys Original Irish cream baking chips. Well, I figured I’ve got some left, and I have some heavy whipping cream- to the double boiler!!!

These chips melt so beautifully, love the shine it gets.

And there it is, a nice chocolate ganache….

My shortbread is boring no more!!!

Valentine’s treats for your Sweet

There’s such a wide array of treats that you can choose from when it comes to a sweet treat for your Valentines. There are times though that you walk up and down the aisle and you just can’t find the right treat.

How about making your own? Now, now don’t give me that look! I’ve got a a great recipe that I’ve used a lot and doesn’t need too many ingredients. It’s Brazilian Brigadeiros! To make it extra special I used Baileys Original Irish Cream baking chips from Clabber Girl Baking. Here’s what you need

This recipe will yield about 25 pieces.

Ingredients:

1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)

4 ounces (bittersweet chocolate) Baileys Original Irish Cream baking chips

2 tablespoons butter

One-fourth teaspoon salt

One-half cup sprinkles of your choice

Directions:

1) Heat the milk, chocolate, butter and salt in a heavy saucepan over a medium heat until the mixture thickens. Takes about 15 minutes

2) The cooking process is complete when you can see the bottom of the pan when you run the wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan

3) Let it cool for 15 minutes.

4) There’s two ways to complete this step, you can use a one inch scooper like I did, or you can grease your hands and form one inch balls.

5) From this point you can roll the chocolate balls into the sprinkles of your choice.

And there you have it!

It roughly takes about 40 minutes to create.

If I may, I can’t wait for the Baileys Original Irish Cream baking chips to hit the store shelves!

They are AMAZING!!!

Special “Thanks!” to Clabber Girl for sharing these incredible baking chips. I can’t wait to bake with them again!!

Here’s where you can find them:

http://www.clabbergirl.com

Shiny Smile in a Jiffy

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So let’s talk about kids, braces and flossing (not the dance). Yes, it’s that phase when the kiddos need braces. And in their defense it’s not always an easy up keep for them to get used to. Aside from the wax to prevent cuts inside your mouth, and those teeny rubber bands that come in an array of colors, they have to learn how to floss around them!!!

You can use those little plastic flossers that look like Christmas trees. But that can be trying on the gums. I’ve heard that you can also use a water pick…… but if you not at home!!!

Here’s what I found….. a non-electric water flosser!!!

Super easy to use. Literally, fill the base to the line with water and pressing the trap button and away it goes!

So easy for the kids to use and perfect on the go. Helps the kiddos maintain keeping their braces clean!

Love things that help life go a little smoother!!

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Taking Savory Bites

Phew….. the Holidays are over- we made it!!

I don’t know if you noticed, but this past Holiday Season has a lot of “thumbprint ” cookie recipes that seemed to pop up. So many variations; jam, chocolate, and even a cheesecake like filling (totally want to try that one!). It may be time to go a little savory.

Which leads me to a new recipe I just had to give a try. How about Savory Thumbprints!!!

Yes! I’m talking Savory Parmesan Thumbprints!! Topped with my favorite protein- Wild Planet Foods Albacore Tuna!!!

I happened to come across the recipe for the savory thumbprints via the Land O’Lakes website. One recipe batch makes about 48 little “cookies”. Very simple and easy to do, all you need is:

1 Cup softened butter (they recommend Land O’ Lakes)

1/4 Cup sugar

2 Cups all-purpose flour

1 Cup grated Parmesan cheese.

Start by prepping your baking sheet, parchment paper is my best friend when I bake. Preheat your oven at 350°. The next steps are just like making your usual thumbprint cookies.

Cream your butter with the sugar, then add your flour- don’t forget to scrape down the sides of your mixing bowl so it all gets incorporated well. Last will be adding in the cheese.

Shape the dough into one-inch balls, with your thumb make indentations into the balls. I used the back of my measuring spoon since I was putting in my tuna filling. It takes about 9-11 minutes to bake.

When you go to the Land O’ Lakes website they also have savory jam fillings that you can use.

But….. since I wanted to make these little bites a little more hearty I turned to my favorite protein.

I love tuna salad, with the right tuna of course. With a savory thumbprint, texture wise it’s a real nice bite to have something a little firm. So I used Wild Planet Food Albacore Tuna. I want to compliment the tuna, and not have too many flavors going on since it is just a bite. When you open a can of the Wild Planet Foods tuna you will not find mushiness, or a lot of liquid like in other brands. Which is key for this recipe because liquid can literally make your cookie crumble!

I used Sir Kensington organic Mayonnaise, mainly because of it being already seasoned it gave a nice binding finish to the tuna and I didn’t have to add any salt and pepper. I did add a dash or garlic powder.

I took my quick and easy tuna mixture, and filled my little savory bites. Just for color, I sprinkled a pinch of Parmesan then placed the bites back into the oven to get the top a little crisper. Final touch is dash of parsley.

I like to pair this with soup or serve at a “afternoon tea” or gathering with the other moms.

Now if you’re wondering if it’s hard to find the tuna I used. Great news! I have found it in almost every grocery chain in my area. Stores such as Kroger, Wegmans and Walmart! Even happier news- Costco offers it too!!!

There’s so much more to Wild Planet Foods-

Check them out at http://www.wildplanetfoods.com

Ounce of Prevention

I know, I know, it’s still the Winter Season. But, it hasn’t been your typical Winter, agreed?

There have been lots of bouts of warm weather which lets us go on out and enjoy the great outdoors.

With that being said I’d like to share an article with all of you that was shared with me about keeping in mind to protect ourselves from those little bugs that can cause big problems:

Lyme Disease, Deer Ticks, and Your Family                                

(Robert Oley, PE, MSPH, Public Health Consultant, www.boboley.com)

 

It’s that time of the year once again, when you and your family are enjoying the warmer weather and all the outdoor activities that come with it.  Unfortunately for you, deer ticks are also taking advantage of the nice weather, and are waiting for you as you step outside.

 

The spring and summer months are when you are most likely to be bitten by a deer tick, and become infected with Lyme disease.  The highest risk age group for contracting Lyme disease is children.  Not only do they tend to spend more time outside than others, but they are less likely to be careful about where they play.  Although Lyme disease is a grave health risk to these and other family members, there are other equally debilitating tick-borne diseases one can also become infected with such as babesiosis, anaplasmosis, bartonella, tularemia, mycoplasma, tick paralysis, and viruses.

 

 

LITTLE BUG BIG PROBLEMS

How can such a small bug cause such  big problems for all of us?  Ticks are parasites, which survive by feeding on the blood of hosts such as mice, chipmunks, shrews, birds, squirrels, opossum, rabbits, lizards, and deer.  Regrettably, they also feed on people and their pets.  Although the deer tick season is pretty much year round now, the peak of the deer tick’s activity starts in May and begins to wind down in August.  During this time, the nymphal deer tick (about as small as a poppy seed) is actively looking for a host.  And it will be from the nymphal deer tick-bite that you and your children will most likely contract Lyme disease and/or another tick-borne co-infection.

 

Deer ticks require a humid environment to survive and can be found anywhere their hosts live.  Thus they can be encountered in a variety of settings including woodlands, as well as leaf litter, brush piles, your lawn, ground cover (pachysandra, etc.) and gardens.  They can also be found near old stonewalls, woodpiles, tree stumps and fallen logs, bird feeders, and storage sheds, anywhere their hosts feed and/or make their nests.  They have even been found on park picnic tables and benches.

 

 

LYME DISEASE SYMPTOMS

There are over 100 possible symptoms associated with Lyme disease, and that is one of the reasons why it is so very difficult to diagnose—it mimics so many other disease conditions that it is usually not diagnosed early on in the disease, allowing it to spread to most every part of the body.

 

Soon after a tick bite, you or your children may get a rash, and have vague flu-like symptoms including fever, headache, sore throat, fatigue, muscle ache, stiff neck, and swollen lymph nodes.  Other more serious conditions can affect your brain and nervous system, heart, muscles and joints, bones, and skin.  Not uncommon are extreme fatigue, joint and muscle pain, chronic headaches, sleep disturbances, allergies, stomach pain, ear ringing, blurred vision, sensitivity to sounds and smells, facial numbness and tingling, mood swings, anxiety, panic attacks, memory impairment, and lack of concentration.

 

 

PERSONAL PROTECTION AND PREVENTION

When your children play outdoors in tick endemic areas, it is strongly recommended that they wear tick repellent clothing. The clothing should be treated with permethrin, an insecticide which repels and kills ticks and which has been approved by the EPA as safe for use on clothing apparel worn by adults and children.  You can treat your own clothing and footwear, or purchase pre-treated clothing with the proprietary Insect Shield label from suppliers such as: REI, ExOfficio, Orvis, etc.  Once per month you should also spray outdoor shoes, athletic gear, tennis bags, back packs, camping gear (anything that could end up on the ground outside) with permethrin to keep the ticks away. Wearing an EPA-approved insect repellent on exposed skin parts will also provide added protection, but by itself, does not work as effectively as tick repellent clothing

 

 

Some simple prevention measures which are highly recommended for you and your family to follow include:

 

  1. Avoid areas where there are ticks to the maximum extent possible.  This is much easier said than done, but is well worth the effort.
  2. When outside, wear clothing that is treated with permethrin.  This is one of the easiest things to do with big prevention payoffs.  Also spray your outside shoe wear with permethrin once per month.  And clothing your children wear at summer camp, such as T-shirts, shorts, and socks, should likewise be treated.
  3. If you do not choose to treat the clothing yourself (good for 6 washings), you can also send it to be treated at the Insect Shield facility in North Carolina.  It will come back, looking the same as you sent it, but with the permethrin protection bonded to the fabric and good for more than 70 washings.
  4. Wear a tick repellent on your exposed skin.  The tick repellent must say on the container that it repels ticks and for how long.  You can buy insect repellents with chemicals such as IR3535, Picaridin, and DEET in them; or if you prefer using organics, try essential oils like Lemon Eucalyptus Oil and Cedar Oil.
  5. Keep your outside clothes outside your home.  There can be ticks on the clothing from outdoor activities.  As soon as your      children come in from outdoors, put their clothes in a separate hamper in the mud room or garage if possible.  Then as soon as you can, put their clothes in the clothes dryer on high heat for 20 to 30 minutes.  The dry heat will effectively kill any ticks that may be on them.
  6. Do not allow any pets, which go outside, to sleep with your children or allow your pets on couches, etc.  They can bring ticks into your home, which can get transferred to your children.
  7. Treat your pets with tick repellent products as recommended by your veterinarian, and check them for ticks when they come in from outdoors.
  8. Conduct full body tick checks of family members who go outside, both when they return indoors as well as at night before they go to bed.  You can never check too often, as ticks      can be very hard to find.

 

 

REMOVING DEER TICKS

Removing deer ticks promptly can prevent the transmission of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.  If you discover a tick attached to you, use pointed tweezers or other tick removal tool to grab the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull the tick straight out, taking care not to twist or squish the attached tick. Finally, wash the bite site and apply an antiseptic.  Save the tick, dead or alive, in a zip lock bag for future identification and testing for possible disease organisms.  You should also seek the immediate assistance of your health care provider for advice on initiating prophylactic treatment.

If you follow these recommendations and use good common sense when outdoors, you can keep your family safer from ticks and the diseases theyLyme Disease, Deer Ticks, and Your Family                                

(Robert Oley, PE, MSPH, Public Health Consultant, www.boboley.com)

 

It’s that time of the year once again, when you and your family are enjoying the warmer weather and all the outdoor activities that come with it.  Unfortunately for you, deer ticks are also taking advantage of the nice weather, and are waiting for you as you step outside.

 

The spring and summer months are when you are most likely to be bitten by a deer tick, and become infected with Lyme disease.  The highest risk age group for contracting Lyme disease is children.  Not only do they tend to spend more time outside than others, but they are less likely to be careful about where they play.  Although Lyme disease is a grave health risk to these and other family members, there are other equally debilitating tick-borne diseases one can also become infected with such as babesiosis, anaplasmosis, bartonella, tularemia, mycoplasma, tick paralysis, and viruses.

 

 

LITTLE BUG BIG PROBLEMS

How can such a small bug cause such  big problems for all of us?  Ticks are parasites, which survive by feeding on the blood of hosts such as mice, chipmunks, shrews, birds, squirrels, opossum, rabbits, lizards, and deer.  Regrettably, they also feed on people and their pets.  Although the deer tick season is pretty much year round now, the peak of the deer tick’s activity starts in May and begins to wind down in August.  During this time, the nymphal deer tick (about as small as a poppy seed) is actively looking for a host.  And it will be from the nymphal deer tick-bite that you and your children will most likely contract Lyme disease and/or another tick-borne co-infection.

 

Deer ticks require a humid environment to survive and can be found anywhere their hosts live.  Thus they can be encountered in a variety of settings including woodlands, as well as leaf litter, brush piles, your lawn, ground cover (pachysandra, etc.) and gardens.  They can also be found near old stonewalls, woodpiles, tree stumps and fallen logs, bird feeders, and storage sheds, anywhere their hosts feed and/or make their nests.  They have even been found on park picnic tables and benches.

 

 

LYME DISEASE SYMPTOMS

There are over 100 possible symptoms associated with Lyme disease, and that is one of the reasons why it is so very difficult to diagnose—it mimics so many other disease conditions that it is usually not diagnosed early on in the disease, allowing it to spread to most every part of the body.

 

Soon after a tick bite, you or your children may get a rash, and have vague flu-like symptoms including fever, headache, sore throat, fatigue, muscle ache, stiff neck, and swollen lymph nodes.  Other more serious conditions can affect your brain and nervous system, heart, muscles and joints, bones, and skin.  Not uncommon are extreme fatigue, joint and muscle pain, chronic headaches, sleep disturbances, allergies, stomach pain, ear ringing, blurred vision, sensitivity to sounds and smells, facial numbness and tingling, mood swings, anxiety, panic attacks, memory impairment, and lack of concentration.

 

 

PERSONAL PROTECTION AND PREVENTION

When your children play outdoors in tick endemic areas, it is strongly recommended that they wear tick repellent clothing. The clothing should be treated with permethrin, an insecticide which repels and kills ticks and which has been approved by the EPA as safe for use on clothing apparel worn by adults and children.  You can treat your own clothing and footwear, or purchase pre-treated clothing with the proprietary Insect Shield label from suppliers such as: REI, ExOfficio, Orvis, etc.  Once per month you should also spray outdoor shoes, athletic gear, tennis bags, back packs, camping gear (anything that could end up on the ground outside) with permethrin to keep the ticks away. Wearing an EPA-approved insect repellent on exposed skin parts will also provide added protection, but by itself, does not work as effectively as tick repellent clothing

 

 

Some simple prevention measures which are highly recommended for you and your family to follow include:

 

  1. Avoid areas where there are ticks to the maximum extent possible.  This is much easier said than done, but is well worth the effort.
  2. When outside, wear clothing that is treated with permethrin.  This is one of the easiest things to do with big prevention payoffs.  Also spray your outside shoe wear with permethrin once per month.  And clothing your children wear at summer camp, such as T-shirts, shorts, and socks, should likewise be treated.
  3. If you do not choose to treat the clothing yourself (good for 6 washings), you can also send it to be treated at the Insect Shield facility in North Carolina.  It will come back, looking the same as you sent it, but with the permethrin protection bonded to the fabric and good for more than 70 washings.
  4. Wear a tick repellent on your exposed skin.  The tick repellent must say on the container that it repels ticks and for how long.  You can buy insect repellents with chemicals such as IR3535, Picaridin, and DEET in them; or if you prefer using organics, try essential oils like Lemon Eucalyptus Oil and Cedar Oil.
  5. Keep your outside clothes outside your home.  There can be ticks on the clothing from outdoor activities.  As soon as your      children come in from outdoors, put their clothes in a separate hamper in the mud room or garage if possible.  Then as soon as you can, put their clothes in the clothes dryer on high heat for 20 to 30 minutes.  The dry heat will effectively kill any ticks that may be on them.
  6. Do not allow any pets, which go outside, to sleep with your children or allow your pets on couches, etc.  They can bring ticks into your home, which can get transferred to your children.
  7. Treat your pets with tick repellent products as recommended by your veterinarian, and check them for ticks when they come in from outdoors.
  8. Conduct full body tick checks of family members who go outside, both when they return indoors as well as at night before they go to bed.  You can never check too often, as ticks      can be very hard to find.

 

 

REMOVING DEER TICKS

Removing deer ticks promptly can prevent the transmission of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.  If you discover a tick attached to you, use pointed tweezers or other tick removal tool to grab the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull the tick straight out, taking care not to twist or squish the attached tick. Finally, wash the bite site and apply an antiseptic.  Save the tick, dead or alive, in a zip lock bag for future identification and testing for possible disease organisms.  You should also seek the immediate assistance of your health care provider for advice on initiating prophylactic treatment.

 

If you follow these recommendations and use good common sense when outdoors, you can keep your family safer from ticks and the diseases they carry.

About the author:

Bob Oley is a professional engineer and public health consultant with an engineering undergraduate degree from Tufts University, and a graduate degree in Public Health from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Bob has been involved in public health and site work for over 30 years. Early in his career he served as Director of Environmental Health for the City of Stamford, CT, after which he started a public health, site engineering, and land use planning consulting business. 

Bob works as a Public Health Consultant specializing in tick-borne disease prevention. He advises families and businesses on how to make their properties safer from ticks, and on what personal protection measures can be taken to safeguard family members and workers.

Bob has conducted educational seminars on Lyme disease and tick-borne disease prevention. He has spoken before such diverse groups as the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Whitpain Township, the Montgomery County Public Works Association, the Lower Bucks County Lyme Disease Support Group, the Swarthmore Garden Club, the International MOMS Club of the Greater Ambler Area, as well as numerous others.

In 2017, Bob published a book on tick-borne disease prevention titled Preventing Lyme Disease and Other Tick-Borne Infections. 

Bob has appeared on several radio shows, including You Bet Your Garden (NPR), Sirius XM Doctor Radio, and the Magic Garden Show, where he has talked about tick-borne diseases and prevention. He has also appeared on TV on NBC News 4 New York, where he talked about what parents can do to prevent their children from getting bitten by ticks when away at camp.

Bob and his wife reside in San Diego, California, where he continues to carry on his public health consulting work.

At this time of the year it can be difficult to find the proper bug sprays. Though the sprays are affective, for individuals that are sensitive to the sprays and even the lotions/insect wipes. There are many bands and clip-ons, but you want complete protection.

Needing a little more? Then take a look at Insect Shield. I was fortunate enough to have been sent a few sample to take a look at how affective they really are!

Now, these are just sample bandannas.

But if you’d like to see more and learn more here is their website:

www.insectshield.com

I’d like to give a special thanks to Gail Brandt for sharing all this great information that I have the privilege of sharing with all of you!!