Last Minute Room Mom: Easy-Peasy Paper Plate Spider Web

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I love this quick, easy Paper Plate Spider Web craft! It is the perfect last minute craft for school parties or to do with your little loves on a rainy afternoon. Thanks to my best friend Rachel for sharing this idea with me!

The best part: you probably have all the supplies in your house. 

The entire project takes about 10 minutes to complete. For my 7-year olds class, I plan to prep the plates by cutting the center out and punching the holes. 

Supplies:

  • Paper Plates (I used white; but you could use any color or pattern)
  • Yarn in orange, black, white or green (or again, whatever you have)
  • Plastic spiders or other critters (spider rings work great too)
  • Crayons; clear tape; single hole punch

Make it:

1. Cut out the center of the paper plate. 

2. On the inside ring of the paper plate, use your hole punch to make 10 evenly spaced holes.

3. Cut a length of yarn (about 2-3 feet worth). Tape one end on back of plate by one hole, leaving 2 inches of extra yarn to tie into a loop for hanging. 

4. Wrap a small amount of tape around the other end of the yarn. This creates a makeshift “needle” that will make weaving the yarn easier.

5. Weaving the yarn threw the holes on the inside ring of the plate, making a spider web pattern. After going through the last hole, cut yarn and tape cut end to back of plate.

6. Grab your spider or other creature. Nestle/weave in yarn or wrap a piece of clear tape around the spider legs and a piece of yarn to secure it in the web.

7. Decorate outside ring of spider web with crayons.

Happy Halloween! 

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New Digs for Everyone’s Favorite Nana

284905_10150385753619167_1502322_nI am so excited leap back into the food and lifestyle blogging game.

I have notebooks full of great stuff to share with y’all and an itch to get cooking again. I am always up to something, so you never know what sort of shenanigans might pop up in Nana’s Fabulous Life.

This week at Nana’s Fabulous Life, I’ve got a full plate of goodness on tap, including:

+What to do with 39 pounds of salmon, halibut and rockfish

+Vintage Nana: Celebrating the 4th with Jello

+Review of Rose Romano Peppers

+Lily and Chloe Cook: The first of a series of cooking videos staring my two little trouble-makers and the world’s pickiest eaters.

So grab a gin and tonic, pick up your reading glasses and stay tuned for a fabulous ride.

PS I am still moving in and moving over the great content from my old site (nanasfablife.blogspot.com). It will all be here soon, I promise.

Only here for the food: Asian Inspired Super Bowl Menu


I am not so much an NFL fan–in fact, I did not even know which teams were in the Super Bowl until church this morning and Reverend Bill’s children’s message.

However, I love mini food–appetizers, sliders, small bites of this and that–it is all novel and absolutely delicious. And I love any opportunity to cook and eat mini bites.

Lily helped me with this last minute Super Bowl Sunday menu. We don’t have big plans; just the four of us hanging out. I expect oodles of leftovers–perfect for mid week snacking and delicious left overs. The Asian inspiration just sort of happened and I love the idea of having a theme–Lily says it makes it fancy!

Click on the links for the recipes!

Our Menu

Honey Mustard Chicken Wings and Drumsticks
I love Rachael Ray’s recipe–it is slightly sweet and slightly spicy. Plus it way healthier than the traditional hot wings. Instead of serving with celery and carrot sticks, slice up some cucumber. The recipe is here.

Lily’s Mango Salsa
Lily and I learned this easy and kid friendly version of mango salsa at a Wegman’s cooking class. It is so simple, chop the following: 1 mango, 1/2 red pepper, 1 shallot and a couple leaves of fresh mint. Mix together with 2 tablespoons of apricot jam and 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar. Serve with multigrain chips.

Mini Salmon Burgers
I adore a good burger. Try this recipe for soy glazed salmon burgers and make the patties mini. Serve on buns or go naked (I vote go naked leaves more room for other stuff.)

Black Bean Wontons with Green Salsa
Black Bean Wontons rock and they freeze great! Snag a pack of wonton wrappers, 1 cup of prepared black beans (homemade or from a can), and some feta. Mash up the beans. Then, put 1 teaspoon of black beans and a sprinkle of feta in the middle of each wonton wrapper. Follow the directions on the wonton package to fold. Then fry or bake until golden. Serve with either jarred green salsa or my favorite Green Salsa from the fabulous Beekman Boys .

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

My Nana was not Italian Wedding Soup


My Nana was Danish. And despite living in South Jersey for at least 40 years, did not really cook Italian. I honestly cannot remember one lasagna or one spaghetti and meatball meal at her table. And her recipe boxes, while filled with food from around the world, make no mention of anything remotely close to marinara.

However, I grew up completely fascinated by all things Italian. My father would share stories of his travels to Venice and Sicily during World War II. I would gaze endlessly at photos of Roman architecture, planning someday to write or build or create something Roman. Once a week we had spaghetti and meatballs–homemade slow cooked red sauce with homemade meatballs. And Mike and I honeymooned in Rome, savoring the food, the wine, the architecture, the churches and the leather. I love Italian!

Italian Wedding Soup is a classic and so many of my friends, whose Nana’s were actually Italian, shared their tips and tricks for this recipe. My recipe is like a wedding of all that heritage and knowledge and culinary genius.

Some notes: I had a big bag of baby spinach, so I used it in place of escarole. I also used orzo, but as Mike’s Aunt Lydia suggested, those tiny little ball pastas, Acici de Pepe, would be excellent in place of the orzo. One old school addition is to drop a couple eggs beaten with Parmesan cheese into the hot soup and stir with a spoon until thin strands appear. I did not do this for my recipe, but think I will try the next go around.

The stuff:
Olive oil
3 large carrots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
8 cups chicken stock
2 cups orzo, cooked as per package
4 cups baby spinach

For the meatballs:
1 lb ground beef
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 clove of garlic, grated
1/2 Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 grated locatelli or parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
2 T. Olive oil

Grated locatelli or Parmesan cheese for serving

1. In a large soup pot, heat about 1 T. olive oil over medium heat. Add carrots, garlic and onion. Cook, stirring, until onion is softened and garlic is fragrant, about 3 minutes.

2. Add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, make meatballs. Combine beef, eggs, garlic, breadcrumbs and cheese in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Form mixture into small meatballs (1/4 – 1/2 inch in diameter).

4. In a large frying pan, over medium heat, warm 2 T. of olive oil. Gently add meatballs to frying pan and brown on all sides. Use a slotted spoon to remove meatballs from frying pan to simmering broth.

5. Heat meatballs in broth until cooked through about 10-15 minutes.

6. Stir in orzo and baby spinach. Stirring to wilt spinach. Top with a sprinkle of locatelli cheese.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday Dinner: Lemon Rosemary Roast Chicken with Potatoes and Carrots


The first time I made a whole roast chicken, it was a massive disaster. First, I think my chicken may have been partially frozen. Second, I was following some complicated French recipe that appeared to be written in Franglais–a hybrid of French and English that was impossible to decipher. And finally, I was in a rush and charred the outside beyond recognition. The result: a charred, raw, inedible bird. I still feel bad for the chicken gave who gave his life for that complete catastrophe.

However, the kitchen is a forgiving place and luckily, my oven easily forgets. After much obsessing and planning, I finally made this juicy, savory, lemony roast chicken which may be worthy of place on a French country table. The recipe is simple, but does have oodles of steps–which is why this is a meal ideally prepared on a Sunday.

On the side roasted potatoes infused with lemon and carrots, plus a yummy green salad with pan fried croutons and dijon vinaigrette. Grab a bottle of French wine and you will send all you will send all your dinner guests swooning.

Dedicate some time to this recipe and savor a nice, slow meal with all your favorite people next Sunday!

The Stuff
One 4-4 1/2 lb chicken, giblets removed
4 baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
1 whole lemon
6 cloves garlic, peeled
Zest of one lemon
2 T. Unsalted butter, softened
1 T. dried Rosemary; plus 1 T.
1 T. Honey; plus 2 T.
Salt/pepper
1 t. dried thyme
1 cup baby carrots

The Work
1. Preheat oven to 375
2. Salt and pepper inside and outside of chicken. Let rest at room temperature.
3. Boil 8 cups of water in a large pot. Add potatoes, whole lemon and whole garlic cloves. Boil for ten minutes.
4. While potatoes are cooking, prepare an herb butter. Mix butter, lemon zest, 1 T. Rosemary and 1 t. Honey.
5. Rub herb butter underneath chicken skin, loosening as you go.
6. Drain potatoes. Remove lemon and garlic. (set potatoes aside) Poke holes in lemon with a fork and stuff inside chicken cavity, along with garlic, 1 T. Rosemary and 1 t. thyme.
7. Cover outside of chicken with remaining 2 T. of honey.
8. Place chicken and 1 cup baby carrots in a roasting pan. Cook 45 minutes.
9. After 45 minutes, add potatoes to the roasting pan and spoon juices over top. Roast an additional 45 minutes or until potatoes are golden and chicken is cooked through.
10. Let stand 10 minutes before carving.

Serve with a simple greens salad and pan fried croutons. (recipe coming soon!)
– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Grocery Store Tourism: Houston


While to some, grocery shopping while on vacation may seem completely contradictory to the very concept of vacation, for me it a much anticipated piece of my itinerary. I’ve brought pasta from Italy, spices from Greece, deli meat from New York, deep dish pizza from Chicago and tortillas from Texas. I love foraging the spice aisles for items I’ve never seen and perusing the bakery to see what fresh breads I can grab.

There is no better way to get to know the locals than to check out what they eat at home. From local wines to fresh bread, prepared specialities and local, super fresh produce, the local grocery store and farmers market are both prime tourist spots for the aspiring ecotourism interested in getting to know everything through the eyes of those who live there.

One of my favorite grocery destinations is Houston. We lived there for a summer when Lily was a proton radiation patient at MD Anderson. My mother in law, Olga, was the perfect tour guide, introducing me to all the many amazing Tex- Mex delights. There are barbecue sauces and rubs, a plethora of hot sauces, a multitude of Mexican seasonings and my favorite: fresh made HEB tortillas.

HEB, which stands for “Here Everthing’s Better,” is a stellar combination of Whole Foods and for those of you blessed to be in the north east, Wegmans. There are amazing prepared foods, beautiful, local produce, great meal ideas and of course, my beloved Tortillas. For a little over $3, you can snag a 20- pack of warm, tender, flakily melt in your mouth tortillas. Olga also have a stack waiting for me– and I can eat these beauties straight out of the bag. And I always bring back a supply, to keep me remembering all that delicious Texas food.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Broth Making: Homemade vegetable broth

The other night, I was all set to experiment with a squash soup recipe I had bouncing around in my head, but I realized I was totally out of vegetable broth.

What’s a Nana-in-Training to do? Well, make homemade broth, of course! Homemade vegetable is easy, delicious and economical freezer staple. To make broth you will need a selection of vegetables, herbs, spices and water. You can really use any mixture of vegetables. Use up those vegetable ghosts of recipes past and make this fantastic freezer staple.
Vegetable broth is great in soups and other recipes. Swap out chicken broth and make your vegetable soup, truly vegetarian. Use it instead of water for rice or couscous.
This batch yielded 22 cups of broth!!
The goods
1 bunch of celery–washed, stalks separated, leaves on (I used celery left over from bloody mary’s)
5 red potatoes-washed, skin-on, quartered
1/2 cup mushrooms–any variety (I used plain jane white mushrooms)
1 bulb garlic, roughly chopped
1 large onion–washed, skin on, quartered
1 cup carrot (I had left over shreds. You can just toss in a couple whole carrots cut into chunks)
Stems from one bunch of broccoli (who eats the stems anyway? save the tops for dinner!)
3 Bay leaves
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
3 tablespoons soy sauce
Fresh herbs–I used the stems from one bunch of cilantro, 2 stems of basil. (The stems have flavor too, perfect for broth!)
2 inches of ginger, un-peeled, roughly chopped
Gear
Large stock pot, preferably a large pasta pot with strainer insert
Plenty of freezer bags
Liquid measuring cup
Permanent marker
Stock-making
Put all ingredients in your pasta pot with the strainer insert in place (or in a large stock pot). Cover completely with water. Put lid on and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low-medium and simmer for 1-2 hours, until stock is fragrant and rich in color (should be like a caramel color).
Remove from heat. Let stand and cool at room temperate for another hour.
After broth is cooled remove strainer insert from pot. Or if you used a stock pot, strain broth into a large bowl or pot.
Use liquid measuring cup to measure broth in 1 or 2 cup portions. Pour into freezer bags, label, date and freeze flat. Yield: 15-20 cups

Garden Girl: Thai-inspired Sunday dinner


It has been a produce inspired weekend! I love this time of year–meal options are endless with so much in season. I picked up these gorgeous Fairy Tale Eggplants. I could not resist their purple and white stripes and I was enticed by the name. Then, Lily and I harvested Mike’s crop of edamame from our backyard garden. So, what to make?

I had no idea what to do with the Fairy Tale Eggplant, so I googled and found a fabulous blog (called Figs with Bri, totally worth a follow!) and
a super yummy recipe for a Vegetarian Thai inspired dinner with Fairy Tale Eggplant, Red Curried Tofu, Basmati Rice and Green Beans.
The meal was amazing. I swapped out the green beans and steamed fresh edamame instead (in the pod, sprinkled with kosher salt). The Fairy Tale Eggplant was super tender and delicious with honey, soy sauce, ginger and serrano pepper. (I am addicted!). The curried tofu was easy to make (I used extra firm, versus firm and dusted the outside of the tofu with pan-searing flour before cooking) and satisfying. The sides of

rice and edamame rounded out the meal perfectly.
It was definitely a 4-pot meal–but it cooked up quickly. I used Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice-Basmati, instead of making my own. It tastes great and takes about 2 minutes to warm up.
And there were enough leftovers for lunch tomorrow!
Check out the recipe here.