Cream of Cauliflower Soup with Turmeric and Cardamom

Cream of CAuliflower soup with Turmeric and Cardamom

Cream of Cauliflower soup with Turmeric and Cardamom

One day I was thinking to myself “Cauliflower and turmeric taste good together…” and this recipe was born. It is full of discreet, complex flavors perfectly balanced with each other. It is elegant enough to serve to company, but ridiculously easy to make, if you have a VitaMix. Serve it hot or cold. Leftovers store well in the refrigerator.

In addition to being delicious and easy, this creamy soup contains turmeric and cardamom, both of which are considered medicinal spices. Turmeric is known to have anti-inflammatory properties which can help control allergies, atherosclerosis, and arthritis. It has also been shown to have anti-cancer and anti-Alzheimer’s effects. One study showed that large doses of curcumin, one of turmeric’s potent compounds, controlled depression as well as Prozac, while another study concluded that curcumin decreased the likelihood of developing insulin resistance in predisposed patients. Cardamom has also been suggested to combat depression and have anti-inflammatory effects. If the health benefits aren’t enough to convince you, tumeric and cardamom are also delicious.

Enough talking you say. What is the recipe for this wonder-food!!?
Hold you horses. It’s coming. ☺

1 ¼ cup mashes potatoes*
1 cup heavy cream
5 cups whole milk
1 large (half fist sized) raw cauliflower floret**
2 large steamed cauliflower florets**
1 tsp cardamom
¾ tsp turmeric

*I recommend skin-in red potatoes. The bitterness of the skin adds to the flavor.
**I’m sure you could use all one or the other. Using two degrees of cookedness creates a more complex flavor.

1) Combine potatoes and cream and blend on a heavy power setting until the potato skins are very tiny and the mixture has a uniform consistency.
2) Add all other ingredients, turn power to high, and blend until steaming hot.
3) Voila! Enjoy. ☺

You could probably get a similar effect by first blending the ingredients, then heating to steaming on the stove.

Tried it? Let me know what you think!

Wishing you joy!
-Ekatrina

References:
http://www.care2.com/greenliving/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-turmeric-and-curcumin.html
http://www.myhealthylivingcoach.com/top-7-amazing-health-benefits-of-turmeric/#
http://www.sunwarrior.com/news/15-health-benefits-of-cardamom/

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Hot Ginger Milk with Honey

Etsy 011
I really love ginger. Most people I know do. It is exceedingly good for you, and makes me feel good too. I’m also trying to drink less caffeine, especially before bedtime. Since black tea with milk is my favorite comfort drink in cold weather, this is difficult. One evening, I was feeling especially run down, and really wanted something invigorating and soothing. That night this hot ginger milk recipe was born. This recipe uses a VitMix, which makes hot milk drinks a breeze, but you could use a blender to chop things and then heat on the stove or in the micro.

Recipe
2 cups whole milk (you could use skim milk, but why?)
½ cup chopped ginger
~1/4 cup honey (I used a serving spoon to scoop out a dollop)

Put all the ingredients in the VitaMix, turn to speed ten to puree ginger, then turn to highest setting. Run until steaming and foamy. Enjoy.

Etsy 013

Have I mentioned the VitaMix makes frothed milk that rivals a cappuccino? This is smooth, sweet, and relaxing, with enough peppery ginger to energize you and ward off the sick and tired feeling. Doesn’t it look delicious??

Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

strawberry buttercream copy

The other day I was making cupcakes (late at night, after bedtime, of course), and I wanted to do something fun and fast that would make them special. With Valentine’s day around the corner, pink seemed like it was in order, so I rummaged through the fridge and this lovely strawberry buttercream frosting was born. The base is a simple buttercream. (Don’t do what I did and melt the butter trying to soften it. The made the texture softer than usual, so I never ended up adding any milk. The leftover was un-pipable after an overnight stint in the fridge, so I advise being patient with the butter and adding milk.) The thing that lifts this above the ordinary is the addition of strawberry jelly. The little Miss tasted it later, and her comment was “Wow! It tastes like strawberries!” You know when a child inadvertently exclaims “wow” that you have a hit. 🙂

The Recipe
1 cup salted butter
4 cups powdered sugar
3 tsp vanilla
4 Tbs Milk
1/2 jar strawberry jelly (not jam, if you will pipe the frosting)
food coloring if you like more color

Cream together softened butter, vanilla and powdered sugar. Once the butter and sugar are thoroughly creamed together, mix in about 1/2 a jar of good quality strawberry jelly. (I used Trader Joe’s Reduced sugar, since this is already a little too sweet for me.) If you are going to pipe the frosting, you MUST be sure that the jelly is smooth, not chunky. (Add food coloring next, if you are using it.) Now, add the milk 1 Tbs at a time until the frosting is a good piping consistency. I will probably add a little more jelly next time, and cut back on the sugar a tad. This will make the frosting softer, so I will probably end up using less milk.

For an easy, professional look, pipe with a star tip onto mini cupcakes. I like using Trader Joe’s vanilla bean cake mix (+ ~ 1 tsp vanilla) because it is easy and flavorful, and has a more “home-made” texture than most box mixes.

10 Fun Children’s Valentine’s Cards to Make

Stuck on You
how to make a photo valentine 3
Every child loves stickers! This is a cute Valentine that avoids candy (their teachers will thank you!) and is highly customizable. Either find ready-made cardboard or foam heart-shaped frames, or cut your own from construction paper using my TEMPLATE. Let your child choose stickers that appeal to him or her. (Your local Dollar Store often has a good selection.) Place the heart frame face down and tape the back of the sticker sheet to the frame, arranging it so the stickers fill the framed area. Trim the outside edges as necessary. You can write a sentiment such as “Stuck on You” or something that fits the specific stickers you choose.

Sweetheart
Rice Krispie Valentine
If you or your child enjoys cooking, you can whip up a batch of these beautiful and delicious heart-shaped Rice Krispie treats for the class! The pink hearts look lovely on their own, or take it up a notch by dipping half in some melted chocolate and then some brightly-colored candy sprinkles. You can find treat bags at your local craft store or dollar store. Tie off the bag with some pretty ribbon, and you are Valentines Day party-ready.

Have a Colorful Valentine’s Day
Rainbow Crayon
Who doesn’t love rainbow crayons? Make this fun craft with your children, then print out the printable cards. Attach the crayons, and Whala! Be sure to make a few extra crayons to keep!

Have a FAN{TACHE}TIC Day
Mustache Valentine
This great printable has everything going for it. It is fast, cheap, and incorporates the mustache trend. (Can anyone tell me why we have a mustache trend??) Best of all, it avoids having your 6 year old tell the entire class that they are the love of his life!

You Make Me Loopy
loopy Valentines
This idea isn’t mine. I really wish it was. It is unique and cute, and little people really love loopy straws. You can buy the straws at Walmart or the Dollar Store. Put them in Wilton pretzel bags (also at Walmart, or your local craft store) and staple folded paper over the ends. This was a photo-only Pinterest pin, so there is no printable, but you can make your own, or just use construction paper and write your sentiment by hand.

Valentine’s Bouquet
Valentine Flower
These pretty flowers are simple to make and don’t require a printer. Older children might enjoy creating them with you. Speed them up by using a die-cut instead of hand-cutting the hearts.

Valentine’s Day
Tic Tac Toe Valentine
This unique idea used M&Ms to create a sweet game of tic-tac-toe. All the printables are on the original site. You just add the sugar.

Swimming in the Same School
Swimming in the Same School
This free printable was just too adorable not to include! This is another idea that doesn’t use the word “love” and you can use goldfish instead of candy fish to the delight of teachers everywhere. The bowl-shaped bags can be hard to find, but you can call Walmart or your local craft store.

Have a Chocolate?
Chocolate Hearts
Once upon a time books and candy were the only gifts a young lady could accept from a gentleman. Times have changed, but these polymer clay chocolate look-alikes can still melt hearts. If you don’t have heart molds, simply shape a ball of clay with your fingers. These are a bit complex for younger children, but teens and tweens would have a wonderful time making these with their besties.

You Make my Heart Glow
Glowstick Valentines
Last, but certainly not least, are these adorable glow-stick Valentines. Head to the Dollar Store for the glow bracelets, and print up some free printable cards. Even young children can help assemble these!

An adventure in Czarist Russia-Masha

Masha youngest lady in waiting

When my siblings and I were home for Christmas, my mother mentioned wanting to discuss who would eventually take which of the pieces of furniture she had been saving for us. That discussion went amicably, but once it was adjourned, we children found ourselves gathering around the bookshelves upstairs, placing dibs on favorite books. It is funny that attempting to divide the books brought on much more argument than dividing the furniture. We never did settle who got what, but I have a list of books everyone wants. My mission is to find multiples of as many of them as possible. On that list are two books by the prolific author, Mara Kay. They tell the story of a young girl in a bleak boarding school who eventually becomes Lady in Waiting to Czarina Alexandra, lives through the Decemberist revolt inside the castle while her betrothed agitates outside, and picks up the pieces of her broken life in the aftermath that shook the privileged Russian aristocracy. The first of these books is titled Masha.

Young Masha loved her comfortable old house with the cobwebs in the corners and the Domovoy in the attic. She loved living in the country with her kind mother and doting servants. When her father is killed at the battle of Borodino, Masha faces a terrible decision. There might be enough money to support her mother and herself for a little while, but there is not enough to provide a future for Masha. Will she continue to live comfortably at home until the money runs out, and then face a future with no income and no skills by which to support herself, or will she leave the family and home she loves in order to attend school and prepare herself for life? There are no vacations at the Smolni Institute for Girls. If Masha goes, she will not see her home again for nine years. She will leave a little girl and return a young lady. Masha makes a remarkably mature decision, and the book tells the story of her school days. You meet Masha’s friends and enemies, and share her sadnesses and her triumphs. It is a fascinating story with an authentic feel and lots of historic details. The story is a little dreary for young children, but it is inspiring for tweens and older to read about a younger child making responsible choices even when she would rather not. The story is highly entertaining, even if it is a little bleak at times. I highly recommend having the sequel, The Youngest Lady in Waiting, on hand before you begin Masha. Everyone will want to know what happens once Masha leaves Smolni and adventures into the bright world of the Imperial Russian court!

These books are out of print, and older copies run about $1000 for the pair. However, they are being re-printed and will be available in October for about $40 for both books. You can pre-order here: http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/mara+kay/masha/10013620/ Shipping is from the UK and seems to be one price per order, regardless of the size, so get some friends together and save on shipping! (To find out about other books by Mara Kay, see: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/187809.Mara_Kay )

10 Healthy Packed Lunches for Little People

Packing school lunches intimidates me. My mother did not believe in sandwich meat, and her alternatives were less than skillful. I still vividly remember deciding I had had enough, and was not going to eat the hardboiled egg packed in a little ziplock baggie that had been squished into a play-doh like mass- shell and all. As I grew old enough to pack my own lunch, my skill did not improve much on hers. My go-to lunch was a pound of carrots and a pan of cornbread-cut into interesting shapes and packaged “creatively.” Now I pack my lunch every day, but with a fridge and microwave at my disposal all I have to do is repackage some leftovers, or make a salad. At home, lunches are usually leftovovers. When my daughter and I go on picnics I will grab a can of sardines. I do not like sandwiches, and never use a loaf of bread and a package of sandwich meat before they rot. Making my daughter eat lunch meat is almost impossible. (She would literally prefer Brussels sprouts.) Now I have to send lunch for pre-school, and I am determined to do better than my mother. As healthy as sardines are, I’m not about to try to win the peer-pressure battle of sending them to school. So, I need some healthy, easy, and (my) child-friendly school lunches. Here are two weeks worth of ideas!

PBJ: Alright, so peanut butter isn’t really healthy. It has tons of sugar and oils, both things most Americans get too much of. However, my little one isn’t overweight. Peanut butter is a cold protein I know she will eat. We never eat it at home, and she tends to prefer her sandwich without jelly. I can handle sending peanut butter on whole wheat a couple times a month. Almost any fruit or veggie goes well with PBJ, so sides for this option are easy.

Cheese and Crackers: Move over lunchables! It is not too difficult to break a couple slices of your child’s favorite type of cheese into quarters, layer them between wax paper, and put them into a baggie near a cold pack (or skip the cold-pack). Place a tall stack of crackers of your choice into a small rigid container so they won’t be crumbs by lunch-time. Add some celery sticks and fruit, or a mini salad, and this isn’t a bad option!

Soup: This is such a versatile option, it seems unfair to only give it one entry! You can heat up some soup during breakfast, put it into a kid-friendly thermos, and provide a piping-hot lunch for your little one. Combine chicken noodle soup with apple slices and red pepper, or send a hearty lentil stew with whole-grain crackers, a cheese stick, and some grapes. Be sure to test the thermos for leak-proofness and heat retention before sending it!

Fish: My little one really likes fish. Every so often I’ll bread some fish filets with crushed crackers and fry them. It is hard to get leftovers, since Little Miss will eat two filets on her own, but occasionally some survives. This is one of the few leftovers that are good cold, and I know my child will eat it!

Rice and Stir-fry: This is another versatile option. Most children really enjoy rice. If you steam some rice with a little butter during breakfast, it will still be soft when lunch time comes. Put a small serving in the bottom of your child’s thermos, and top with some sautéed or steamed veggies. (This is a great way to use up leftovers!) Add a protein or not as you prefer. You could even top with a fried egg for a kid-safe take on bi-bim-bop! I’d probably throw in some Terra chips with this for a little crunch.

Hard-boiled Egg: I’m not talking about the squishy mess my mother sent! Eggs are a good source of protein, and the yolk contains cholesterols important for protecting developing nerves. A peeled, sliced egg fits neatly in a little plastic snack-sized container. The slices are fun to peel off and eat. Include some fruit and some whole-wheat pretzel sticks, and you have a nice little snack lunch.

Salad and Cheese: My little one really likes salad. I’m not sure I understand why. However, a handful of fresh spinach, some tomatoes, cucumber slices, and some shredded cheese makes a healthy, complete lunch, and is super-easy too! I’d probably add some carbs to this lunch to make sure she has enough calories to stay fueled until snack. Alternately, you could spread a whole-wheat tortilla with hummus, and wrap the tomato, greens, and shredded cheese in it. If you cut the wrap in slices to make pin-wheels, they will fit neatly into a sandwich container, and make a fun finger food.

Mini Quiche: Most little people get a kick out of little food. A fun-to-make little food is mini quiche. Use pre-made pie dough, or go the extra mile and make your own crust. Bake them in a muffin tin, use a basic quiche base and throw in whatever leftovers happen to be in your fridge. Each quiche can be a different flavor, and you can make as many or as few as you like. You can even pop a few in your own lunch with a salad!

Quesadillas: These are simple to make in the oven during breakfast, and are a great way to combine protein and veg with child-pleasing cheese. Layer cheese and whatever fillings (read: leftovers) you like, then broil quickly to melt cheese. You can make in half or whole tortilla sizes depending on the appetite to which you are catering. Spread a little oil on the outside and broil each side quickly for a crispy finish. Serve with a dipping sauce if you like, and some complimenting sliced fruit or vegetables.

Chicken Cubes: You know those wonderful pre-cooked chickens you buy every once in a while? Leftovers cut into bite-sized chunks in a snack container make a nice base for a child’s lunch. Think of it as a compartmentalized chicken salad. Chicken chunks go in one container, grapes in another, and celery sticks in another. Round it out with some nuts or some cheese cubes, and you have a wonderful finger-food lunch!

My daughter has more mature tastes than many pre-schoolers, but I hope my ideas can help you prepare high-protein, high veg/fruit, and low processed carbs lunches for your little person.

Wishing you joy!
-Ekatrina

Hello, and Welcome!

“Life is mostly froth and bubble,

Two things stand like stone,

Kindness in another’s trouble,

Courage in your own”

 

The title of this blog, “Fun and Baubles,” is a play on the words “froth and bubble” in the poem by Australian author Adam Lindsay Gordon.  This blog is about all the little things that make up the froth and bubble of ordinary life, and that bring us joy and lend us courage during life’s troubles.  You can expect to find recipe reviews, helpful suggestions, DIY projects, my favorite books, and excellent products from around the internet.  I hope my thoughts are useful to you, and add to the pleasure of your life.  Wishing you joy!

 

                                                                -Ekatrina