Monday, March 29, 2010

The EM's Easter Egg Hunt

Thanksgiving is loooong over. Christmas is past. Even the excitement of the new year has been swept away by the lingering winter. Well, how about reconnecting with your children’s playdates, their mothers and fathers, and getting everyone outside (at least for a bit). The Extraordinary Mother recommends hosting an Easter Egg Hunt and Brunch! Exchange the winter blues for spring hues (yellow, pink, and purple). Get some fresh air. Eat some good food. Watch the kids get rejuvenated! I did all of the above this past weekend and couldn't recommend it more strongly. It was a blast!

Obviously the Easter egg hunt is the main event. For six little ones (ages 3-4) I filled over 200 plastic eggs. Yes, some had candy, but most had stickers, small toys, and squishy balls. Guests were asked to bring a basket for the hunt.

Caesar salad
Bagels and cream cheese
Fruit (bananas, oranges, apples)
Orange juice
Juice boxes

(Look for the quiche recipe later this week)

The Photo Gallery




Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Rigatoni and Ragù


A ragù sauce is a staple of Italian cuisine and refers to any sauce to which meat is added. The sauce usually includes garlic, onions, tomatoes, celery, carrots and spices. The origin of ragù sauce can be traced back to Bologna, Italy. Often times a ragù sauce is prepared in a Bolognese style which simply means that the ragù is served over pasta.

Shopping List
Pasta - rigatoni (or rotini when that is what your 3 year old son takes off the shelf and insists is his favorite!)
1 large onion (chopped)
1/3 lb ground beef
1/3 lb sweet Italian sausage (hot sausage if you want a hotter sauce) – take sausage out of casing if you buy links
3-4 carrots (peeled, chopped)
1 green pepper (cored and chopped)
1 pkg mushrooms (this sauce is hearty enough if you want to skip the mushrooms)
½ cup (or so) red wine (I use what I am drinking!)
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 stalk celery (if you like, I don’t) (chopped)
½ cup frozen peas (if you like, I do)

Pantry Check
Extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic
Black pepper
Nutmeg in a grinder (mill)

Cook pasta according to package instructions.

Heat 1tbsp oil in frying pay (I never add too much oil to meat)
Add sausage and beef. Add oregano, basil, and black pepper. Chop up and stir until brown.

I brown my meat in one pan while starting the onions et al in another, but you can brown your meat then remove it and continue the instructions below in the same pan.

Heat oil in a frying pan (enough to cover pan)
Add onion to oil
Add garlic on top of onion so it doesn’t burn
Sauté until onion is translucent
Add carrots, green onion and mushrooms, then sauté
Add red wine and allow veggies to soak it up!
Add crushed tomatoes and meat.
Sprinkle on oregano, basil, black pepper, and a couple turns of the nutmeg mill
Allow to simmer for about 20-30 minutes (until veggies are soft)
Add peas and stir until peas are thawed.

Is that hearty or what?! Doesn’t your house smell great?!
Serve over pasta – add parmesan if you desire.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Extraordinary Mother’s Roasted Potatoes

This recipe is so easy! And I constantly get complimented . . . by my own family! The best part: make these potatoes today and serve tomorrow. They are better the next day!

Shopping List
Potatoes - Smaller potatoes are best. My suggestions include: Yukon gold, red potatoes, or chef white.
Onions - Smaller onions are best. My suggestions include: gold pearl, red pearl, white pearl, shallots, cipollini, or even white boiling onions

Pantry Check
Virgin olive oil
Dried rosemary
Black pepper

Cut potatoes into bite-sized chunks; put in large mixing bowl. Blanch the onions (add them to boiling water for 1 minute). You can add whole onions to the potatoes; I cut them up as toddlers are less wary of onion pieces than of whole onions.

Drizzle in olive oil (enough to coat potatoes and onions) and sprinkle with rosemary and black pepper. Mix with your hands. For crunchier potatoes lay on baking sheet. For softer potatoes (or if you plan on smashing them) cook in over-safe dish with a cover. Bake for 45 minutes at 375 degrees. Stir once mid-way through baking.

These potatoes are great smashed especially if you have a gravy to enjoy – and much healthier and tastier than classic mashed potatoes!

Some tools I use in making and serving this side dish:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Perfect Easter Basket . . .

. . . does it need to be filled with candy?

Wow, I just saw this blog where the posts trashed the mother who suggested an Easter basket without candy. They were stating how this is a once-a-year treat, and if you are giving your child healthy nutritional snacks all year then this once is okay, and an Easter basket simply isn’t about healthy snacks. Please note that I am paraphrasing in the nicest way; these moms were pretty annoyed at the thought of a “healthy” Easter basket.

Well, I couldn’t completely side with those moms; I am not in favor of a basketful of candy. There are lots of treats for Easter that will not contribute to a dentist bill, obesity, diabetes, or a plain ol’ sugar high. Perhaps rounding out a chocolate Easter bunny with some of the following ideas will create an Easter basket your child will love so much that they won’t even miss the sweets.

Healthy treats
small boxes of raisins

Other food ideas
homemade cookies
sugar free bubblegum

matchbox cars
plastic eggs filled with coins

Just plain fun stuff
bubble bath
bath toys
toothbrush (something “cool” probably with a character or it spins or both!)
sidewalk chalk
jump rope
movie tickets

Well, it is just a thought. Quite honestly, we do not do Easter baskets at all! And this year we are hosting our first annual Easter egg hunt and brunch. What a way to kick off spring; and wait until you see this menu! My son cannot wait for his "Easter Party!"

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Recipe: Pasta and Bread Crumbs?

That is all I know to call this; the recipe title officially has a question mark in it!

Shopping List
Pasta (penne or spaghetti)
Bread crumbs (seasoned is a good choice for this recipe, but if you have plain bread crumbs you simply add your own seasoning!)
Tofu (firm) – okay, you can skip this ingredient, but why?
Any variety of vegetables, olives, or onion (see recipe below for variation suggestions)

Pantry Check
Extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper

Cook 1lb penne or spaghetti according to package instructions (do not drain pasta, leave it in the water)

Heat oil in a frying pan (enough to cover pan)

Mince garlic and infuse into the oil (or chop garlic really small and let cook in the oil – keep heat medium to low and do not burn the garlic!)

Sprinkle 1 cup bread crumbs (if your bread crumbs are not seasoned, season them now – I use oregano, basil, and black pepper).

Allow bread crumbs to soak up oil. Keep heat low and allow bread crumbs to toast; stir them occasionally.

When pasta is cooked (usually in about the time it takes you to do the bread crumbs) use a slotted spoon (or really any large spoon) to transfer pasta to frying pan. Do not worry about bringing water with the pasta; you want water in the frying pan!

Then add two (or more) spoonfuls of the pasta water to the frying pan and toss the bread crumbs around the pasta (stir, stir, stir until the pasta is coated). Bread crumbs should be nice and wet and sticking to the pasta – if not, then just add some more pasta water.

At this point anything goes – add whatever you like to the pasta.

Last night I added sliced green olives (Yes! Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it), tofu (my son loves it; really), and green peas, then grated parmesan cheese over top.

Add any vegetables that your family likes (or that they will eat if it is with yummy pasta). Steam then toss in: broccoli, carrots, squash, peas, green beans, what else can you name?

Or sauté some onions and add those along with a vegetable. You can add fresh tomato; I add tofu to virtually everything. Also, a variety of olives would be really delicious in this recipe (green, black, and kalamata).



Friday, March 12, 2010

I love my babies. Why would I want to push them away from me?

"I love my babies" she exhorts before banishing the stroller from her house and flying into a rage, "Why would I want to push them away from me?"

Thus the New York Time quotes from the movie "Away We Go" in the article The Latest Strollers? Mom and Dad.

I never put my baby in a wrap; I never felt comfortable. Maybe I am not strong enough or perhaps it is a height thing (I am only 5 feet tall and the ratios were off for carrying the baby?) However, I did always have concerns about pushing my son, not so much pushing him "away" from me, but the fact that he was first when crossing the street and walking across a parking lot.

Whatever is going on, wraps are in. The New York Times articles reports that overall sales of certified carriers rose 43% between 2006 and 2008. It is a $21.5 million market! Rising to the top are the ErgoBaby and the Moby Wrap.

To read the whole article click here: The Latest Strollers? Mom and Dad

Thursday, March 11, 2010

911 For Kids



  • Stay calm
  • Make sure your know the exact location and address of the emergency
  • Pick up the receiver or turn on the phone and wait for the DIAL TONE
  • Dial or press “9”, then ”1” and then “1” again.
  • Wait for the ring and the 9-1-1 Dispatcher will answer
Make sure your child knows how to use all the phones in your house (land line, wireless, cell)

  • Stay calm and Speak clearly
  • Listen carefully to the Dispatchers questions and answer each question carefully.
  • Verbally answer all questions. Remember the Dispatcher cannot see your hand or head gestures, signs or motions.
  • State your emergency.
  • Do not hang up until the Dispatcher tells you it is OK to do so. They may need to ask additional questions regarding the emergency or an EMS dispatcher may give your instructions to help stabilize the patient before the ambulance gets to your location.
  • Follow the instructions of the Dispatcher and remain calm.
  • If you can, stay by the phone in case the 9-1-1 call-taker needs to call you back.

Check out this website for teaching your child how to handle emergencies: 9-1-1 For Kids

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Prenatal Stimulation

I did not do much when I was pregnant except eat and be miserable. I was never sick, but getting out of shape was not my idea of fun. And I am sorry, but I did not enjoy the feel of a baby moving inside me either. What can I say; it doesn't sound like I was cut out to be the extraordinary mother, does it? Well, the point I am getting to is that I also was not aware and therefore did not do any prenatal stimulation. However, I have since learned of an entire program. I have read this book and spoken to the author regarding her interviews with doctors and as well as her daughter's journey through pregnancy and this prenatal stimulation program. The website is old school, but the e-book is inexpensive and SO thorough! Check it out; let me know what you think. Personally, I cannot believe a publisher has not approached her yet!

To read the author's letter to mom-to-be as she answers the question, Can You Really Boost a Child's Intelligence Before It's Born?, click here

How To Have A Smarter Baby

I cannot help but tell you about this book, How to Have a Smarter Baby. There are three reasons you must own a copy if you are about to have a baby or have an infant up to 6 months old:

1) You can maximize your baby's physical and mental potential
2) You will enhance the loving relationship between you and your baby

Did I emphasize this last point enough? Especially first-time moms, please tell me you are sometimes pretty bored just like I was. Newborns do not do much. We love 'em, but they are just not very exciting. I did these activities every day and it was at least another 15 minutes filled!

Babysmartees & Infant Stimulation

Let's not make it a secret that I own Babysmartees. Babysmartees are t-shirts to wear to enhance infant visual stimulation, part of a complete infant stimulation program. Vision is the least developed sense a newborn baby has. Newborn babies who receive visual stimulation develop their vision faster than newborns who don't. A newborn who develops vision faster has the ability sooner to notice surroundings which enhances curiosity, attentiveness, and the ability to interact. Newborn babies focus best on geometric patterns with 100% contrast (that is black on white). Therefore, wearing a Babysmartees t-shirt should be part of your infant stimulation program.

And speaking of infant stimulation programs, you can also check out our infant stimulation page as well as The Babysmartees Blog which offers a new infant stimulation activity for every day.