I come from a family of artists. When I was a little girl, I used to love looking at my aunt’s and uncle’s artwork. My aunt used to make beautiful landscapes and scenes using nothing but grains and I loved them. My daughter and I have dabbled a little with grain crafts. We made colored oat fall trees and textured shape mountains.
This has been a tough few days. Our daughter sprained her wrist & hasn’t been able to do much. We have kept her calm & entertained with books, Highlights magazines & hours of marathon watching Stella & Sam & Play-Doh videos. We had far too much screen time this weekend & I needed to entertain her another way.
We made a simple sensory craft using Play-Doh & colored rice. You could just as easy use sprinkles, small gems or buttons too.
I cut a cone shape out of construction paper & glued it to a white piece of paper.
I drew hash lines on the cone with a marker. I rolled out Play-Doh and formed ice cream scoops.
We used dyed rice to press into our ice cream scoops as sprinkles.
When we finished with this, Mai wanted to keep playing with the Play-Doh & rice. We made several other crafts using cookie cutters & free form creations.
Mai made a sweet little hand print & I made a flower.
Mai made a bunch more too. This was a great activity that kept her happy & occupied with one hand for hours.
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A couple of weeks ago I made boats for my daughter out of the bottom of old plastic soda bottles. I saved the tops of the cut up bottles & wanted to use them for something or throw them out. Since you know that I hate throwing anything out, I had to make something quick.
Soda Bottle Hour Glass
What you will need:
2 plastic soda bottles (Whatever size that you choose) We used 20 oz bottles
Hot glue or Crazy Glue
Cut the top off of 2 old plastic soda bottles. Remove the caps. Rinse out the insides & dry well.
Cut 2 squares out of cardboard large enough to fit over the wide part of the bottle.
Paint your squares & let dry.
Glue the 2 mouths of the bottles together.
Color your rice with food coloring & let it dry on wax paper.
Glue the wide end of one of the bottles to a cardboard square. If using hot glue, be careful as you can easily melt the plastic. Squeeze out the glue onto the rim before it is too hot .
Fill the bottles with the colored rice.
Glue the 2nd cardboard square to the top. Let the glue dry & then you are ready to play.
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It is dinnertime & I don’t have anything planned. Let’s play a little game. What is in my fridge? We have thawed out ground turkey, leftover rice, 2 aging potatoes & a half of an onion that is getting ready to be trashed. Mmm mmm, sounds great doesn’t it? Nobody likes wasting food. My husband & I positively hate it. Some of our favorite meal creations come from simply cleaning out our fridge. The hubby asked me last week if I could make a batch of fried rice, so this seemed as good of a time as any since it requires day old rice & as luck would have it… This would not be our traditional fried rice though. This is our fried rice American style.
1/2 pound of ground turkey or any ground meat
2 cups of day old cooked rice
2 cups of cooked diced potatoes (2 small potatoes)
1/2 cup of chopped onion
Half a can of corn
2 1/2 tbsp soy sauce (as always I recommend Green Mountain or Maggi)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic salt
Pepper to taste
Brown your ground meat until no longer pink, drain & place aside. Peel & cube the potatoes, throw in the microwave for about 3-4 minutes until cooked in the center and set aside. In a large skillet set to 350 or high heat, add the oil & onion. Cook the onion until tender & toss in rice & potatoes. Add 1 1/2 tbsp of soy sauce over the top & stir until rice & potatoes are browned. Pour in half the can of corn & stir for a couple of more minutes. Add the ground meat, the seasonings & the last tbsp of soy sauce. Stir for a few minutes more & then transfer to a serving dish. Keep the skillet on. In a small bowl beat the eggs. Add to the hot skillet & toss around quickly until the egg is just barely firm & cooked . Remove from heat & throw in the the rice mixture.
Stay tuned for more fun with leftovers.
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There are some things in parenthood that do not make sense to me. The most recent in a long line of things that puzzle me is this, you have all heard me cry & whine over what a difficult eater our daughter is, then how do you explain this…
If the daily battle with my daughter at mealtime wasn’t frustrating enough, I now find out that she is capable of eating at each meal, just not for us. Siiiiggh! There are a few foods that I can count on that she will eat, pancakes, French toast & spaghetti. As you can see she likes her carbs. When possible we try to sneak in meat and our fruits & veggies, but it does not always work. Today’s menu had a couple of wins and a definite loss.
Breakfast: Banana & Nutella Pancakes
I had a couple of over-ripened bananas that needed to be used, so pancakes were a great place to use them.
Smash the bananas with a fork in a small mixing bowl. Add the egg & beat together & set aside. In a medium sized mixing bowl add 1 cup of all purpose flour, 1 tbsp of brown sugar, 2 tsp of baking powder, 1 tsp of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp salt, 3/4 cup of milk & 2 tbsp vegetable oil & stir. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture & stir well. Stir in 1/3 cup of Nutella. Pour about 1/8 of a cup of batter into a griddle or in a frying pan set on medium heat. Cook until the pancake is bubbly & the edges are cooked. Flip the pancake & cook on the other side until cooked all the way through.
Breakfast was a success. She ate 4 pancakes of her own & a few bites of mine too. Score one for mommy.
Lunch: Monte Cristo Roll Ups:
Preheat the oven to 375. Cut the crusts off of 6 slices of bread. With a rolling pin, roll out each slice off bread. Beat an egg in a medium sized bowl. Brush one side of each slice with the egg. Cut a slice of ham so that it fits inside the slice. Cut a slice of Swiss cheese so that it only covers half of the slice. Roll the bread started at the cheese end. Dip the whole roll into the egg mixture covering the entire roll-up. Place on a greased cookie sheet & dust with confectioner’s sugar. Bake for about 7-8 minutes until golden brown.
While this was a big hit with mommy & daddy, Mai refused to try it. I tried bribery & pleading. “Just take one little bite.” Negative. This was a lunch time fail. The score now is 1-1.
Mexican Chicken Rice Bake
1 cup of uncooked white rice
1 pound of chicken cut into strips
1 cup of water
1 cup of milk
1 can of regular tomato soup (10.75 oz)
1 can of corn drained (8.75 oz)
1/4 cup of diced red peppers
1/4 cup of diced orange peppers
1/4 cup of diced yellow peppers
1 packet of taco seasoning
1 cup of shredded Mexican cheese
Preheat oven to 375. Dice your vegetables & cut your chicken into strips & set aside in a casserole dish (I used a 9×12) add the rice, water & taco seasoning, stir well until seasoning is broken up & evenly distributed. Stir in the tomato soup & milk. Pour the corn & peppers over the top. Place the chicken strips over the top. Cover with foil & bake for about 45 minutes (cook times may vary). Remove foil, add the cheese & bake for 5 more minutes. Remove & let sit for a few minutes to cool. The top may appear slightly watery. The sauce will thicken upon standing. Scoop & serve.
It was a pretty good eating day other than lunch, but you win some & you lose some.
Rice, rice, baby!! We love rice in our house. We love it so much that we own not one, but two rice cookers. When my mother was still alive, God rest her soul, she would buy me a fifty pound bag of rice every year along with my favorite soy sauce. When you have that much rice at your fingertips, you want to find different ways to cook it. I like it plain, fried, in risotto & it also makes a lovely rice pudding. For a smoother, creamier pudding use a smaller grain of rice. If you prefer your pudding with a bit more texture use a longer grain of rice.
1 cup of uncooked rice
2 ripe bananas
1 egg (beaten & at room temperature)
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 cups of water
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp margarine or butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt
In a medium saucepan, combine rice, water, margarine & salt. Bring to a boil. Cover & cook for 2o minutes. Do not stir! In a mixing bowl smash up the bananas with a fork. Add brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon & 1/2 cup of milk to the banana. Mix well. After rice is done cooking, pour the banana mixture over the rice & stir. Cover & simmer for an additional 20 minutes stirring occasionally. After 20 minutes remove from heat & beat in the egg. Beat for a minute & then add the other 1/2 cup of milk. Chill. Top with whipped cream & serve.
Mai really liked the rice pudding. In between every bite, she kept telling me “Thank you, Mama.” You are welcome, sweetheart.
Being Vietnamese, I grew up eating rice. I ate a lot of rice. As an adult not much has changed. It is one of my favorite side dishes to a meal, but rice doesn’t only have to be a side dish. Sometimes it can be the main course.
Day old rice – 2 cups measured before cooking.
2 ham steaks, cubed
1/2 cup of chopped onion
1/2 cup of thinly chopped or shredded carrot
1/2 cup of chopped baby corn
1 can of chopped water chestnuts
1 cup of frozen peas
2 tbsp of olive oil
1/4 cup of raspberry jam
1/4 cup of bbq sauce
1/2 tsp of minced garlic
2 tbsp of seasoned soy sauce ( Green mountain or Maggi are my favorites,) They have a completely different taste than Kikkoman or La Choy.
Pepper to taste 1 tbsp of water
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Stir well.
Cook 2 cups of white rice. Refrigerate overnight. This is important. Fresh rice will make for mushy fried rice.
Cut the skin of the outside of the ham steaks & cube into 1/4 inch chunks. Chop and set aside all vegetables except the peas.
Scramble the eggs with a splash of water. Water makes for fluffier eggs. Spray a large frying pan or electric skillet with cooking spray. Turn the stove or skillet to medium- low heat. Add the egg. When the bottom of the egg firms, flip it quickly. Let cook briefly. You want them just firm and fluffy. Transfer to a bowl and set side.
Turn up the heat to medium – high heat. Add a tbsp of olive oil. Add the ham & stir, cooking until the edges brown slightly. Add all the vegetables. Stir until the peas have thawed and onions have tendered. Pour the sauce mixture over the vegetables. Stir until evenly coated. Pour vegetables into a bowl and set aside.
Add another tbsp of oil & add to the pan or skillet. Add the rice. The rice will be hard and need to be broken apart as you stir. Spread out in a flat layer & and fry until the edges brown slightly. Pour the vegetable and sauce mixture over the top and stir until the rice, vegetables and sauce are evenly distributed. Remove from the heat & toss in the egg. Serve hot.
I recently discovered that my little girl loves ham. It was an amazing discovery considering that she does not eat anything. Mommy wanted to make a family dish tonight using ham in hopes that my little picky eater would gobble it up. Did it work? Join us for dinner & see.
Chicken Cordon Bleu Risotto
2 cups of rice
1 1/2 cup of diced ham
1 1/2 cup of cubed cooked chicken
6 slices of swiss cheese
2 cans of heated chicken broth
1/2 cup of water
1 cup of heated milk
1 tbsp of olive oil
1/4 cup of grated parmesan
1/2 tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp pepper
In a large skillet, add oil & ham. Cook over medium heat just for about a minute or 2 stirring the ham and browning slightly. Add the water and rice. Stir constantly until all liquid is absorbed. Stir in chicken broth, adding only a 1/2 cup at a time, letting all liquid get absorbed in between adding more. Continue until you have used all of the broth. Add the chicken, parmesan & spices. Stir in milk a 1/2 cup of milk and stir until it is absorbed & then add another 1/2 cup, also stirring until absorbed. Remove from the heat & add the cheese and stir until melted.
*Risotto is meant to be al dente but if you prefer a softer texture you may continue to add liquid until you reach your desired consistency.
Unfortunately, the little one refused to eat mommy’s risotto but hubby, Nanna & me all enjoyed it.
A few weeks ago, we had to bring our daughter to the emergency room. She had what was called nursemaids elbow, a common toddler injury, which is basically a dislocated elbow. With a quick movement the doctor snapped Mai’s elbow back in place & within seconds, she was back to her happy, smiley, mischievous self. I was relieved. It is a nerve wracking couple of hours.
While we were there, a very nice nurse brought us a cylinder like toy, filled with sand and different assorted shapes and objects. She gave this to Mai to play with as we waited for her x-rays. The toy worked in distracting our little miss from her injuries. I thought this was a wonderful idea, but in all the stress and anxiety of the situation, it was quickly forgotten, until yesterday when I saw a pin for a treasure hunt game.
This reminded me of the cylinder and all of its’ random objects. I thought this should be easy enough to recreate and would have to be more fun to play with, without a big ouchie.
What you will need…
An old soda bottle 20 oz or 32 will do
rice or sand
assorted plastic toys small enough to fit into a bottle top
I originally made this with a 2 liter bottle, but found that it was too heavy for Mai to play with, so we transferred it to a 20 oz bottle. This worked much better for her little hands.
Peel the soda label of the bottle. Clean the bottle & let it dry thoroughly
Pour rice & food coloring into a ziplock bag & shake
Pour rice onto paper plate to dry
Insert mini toys into bottle. I went with assorted insects, bugs, butterflies and reptiles. I bought these at the Dollar Store.
Use a funnel & fill the bottle 3/4 of the way with rice.
Seal top using super glue.
Shake the bottle to mix up the toys
Let your toddler shake & play & point out all of the objects
With all the left over rice we had, we also made a sensory box.
The verdict: She loved the bottles. She was shaking it up and pointing to birds and butterflies and laughing. The sensory boxes are always a hit in our house. It was a fun day for Mai. It was a messy day for mommy.
Drop cloths, mommy..drop cloths. Some one hand me a broom.