And the Winner Is…

Congratulation Miriam, who’s favorite Little Dreamers creation was the Lil Bumblebee Tutu! Your name was picked at random to win our Girly Party Package Giveaway!

You can email Mere at mk@goodkoi.com w/ your shipping info to claim your prize!

Thank you so much to everyone who participated, and thank you to Whitney for the beautiful tutu!

Check back, we’ll be doing more giveaways soon!

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Corn Dog Muffins

Welcome back to Lunch Lady Land!  In case you’re new to YinMom YangMom, we are in the midst of a multi-part series on fun foods for your kids’ lunch boxes, with a little bit of healthy sprinkled in…

This is Episode III of Lunch Lady Land, so here are two other great posts, just in case you missed them:

Homemade Gummy Fruit Snacks and Juicy Jiggles

Nut-Free (and healthy!) Reese’s Cups

For today’s installment, we are featuring a “main course,” that old fair-food-favorite, corn dogs!  What kid doesn’t love???  My three- and five- year olds never pass one up!

Here’s what I love about the YinMom YangMom version:

-They’re baked, not fried
-There’s actual corn in them
-They’re made with low-sodium, low-fat, nitrate-free turkey franks
-They’re perfectly portioned
-The fun factor: you can get fancy with the wrapper
-They are perfectly delicious at room temp

So let’s get started!  Here is what you will need:

Corn Dog Muffins
(makes 18 muffins)

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 turkey franks
3/4 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
2 eggs
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 cup milk
1/4 cup (half a stick) unsalted butter

Begin by melting the butter.  I like to do mine in the microwave in a glass measuring cup, and then I just add the rest of the liquid ingredients right in there and save myself from having to wash another bowl.

I’m pretty smart.  And lazy.

Ok so if you are a bit challenged in the baking department, the liquid ingredients are: melted butter, milk, agave nectar, and eggs.

Next you can combine the dry ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl.

Dry ingredients are: flour, cornmeal, salt, and baking powder.

Cut up the hot dogs.  I usually cut them into quarters, lengthways, and then into little bites.  As much as kiddies love hot dogs, they can be a choking hazard, so you can never be too careful about cutting them up small.

Throw the dogs into the dry ingredients along with the corn, and toss everything around a bit.

Now just pour in the liquid ingredients and stir until combined.

Divide the batter equally among 18 muffin cups with paper liners, and bake for 18 minutes at 350 degrees.

Easy!

And it’s even easier when you can just pop one or two from your freezer into a lunchbox on a busy morning!

Just add a juice box and a piece of fruit and there you have it!

Yum!

If you liked this idea, stay tuned, because there will be lots more like it!  But in the meantime, be sure to check out the homemade gummy fruit snacks, and the healthy reese’s cups!

And if there is something in particular that your kids jones for, that you aren’t exactly thrilled about, leave me a comment at the bottom of this post and I’ll see if I can come up with a healthier version!

Girly Party Package Giveaway!

We’ve hit a major milestone, and reached 200 posts on Yin Mom, Yang Mom! Allie and I have learned so much about life, support, community and artistic expression in the last 10 months.  This blog has been an adventure for us both, and we have so many more milestones that we’re looking forward to reaching.

As a special thank you to the amazingly supportive, friendly and sweet people who have followed us on this journey, we’re offering a big, amazing giveaway!

One lucky reader will receive……

A SUPER SPECTACULAR GIRL’S PARTY EXTRAVAGANZA PACKAGE!!!!!

Here’s what’s included:

1. You’ll receive this absolutely adorable, gorgeous, sassy and sweet tutu (size 2-5 years), hand crafted by Whitney at Little Dreamers Tutus. My daughter sported one of her beautiful creations on her 5th birthday in June, and she was such a shining star!

2. You’ll also receive 2 dozen custom cookies, made by the cookie genius herself, Yin Mom, Yang Mom’s own ALLIE!  If you haven’t checked out her Flickr stream yet, you’re missing out, here it is:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sweetiebirdbakeshop/sets/.  She offers an assortment of flavors and can do any design/theme you’d like, which you can discuss during your consultation.  Please plan for a 2 week lead time + 2-day shipping on your order.

Allie made beautiful cookie’s for Brooke’s birthday, and since they were gluten, dairy, soy and nut free, everyone got to have a very special day.

3. And lastly, 1 custom designed party invitation made by moi, Mere!  Here is an example of the invite I designed for my Brooke’s 1st birthday, but we can figure out the details as far as colors, theme, etc. during our consultation.  Once the design is ready, I will provide you with the final artwork files in digital PDF format.  Please plan for a 2 week lead time.

Here’s what you need to do in order to enter:

1. Please click here and Like us on Facebook, or Follow Allie and/or Mere on Twitter (click here for Allie) (click here for Mere).  Also, please be an email follower of this blog.

2. Please Like Whitney’s Facebook page for Little Dreamer’s Tutus: http://www.facebook.com/littledreamerstutus

3. And lastly, please visit Little Dreamers Tutus Etsy Shop, and then come back over here, and leave a comment on this post letting us know which one of her creations is your favorite!

One winner will be picked at random, and all of the steps listed above must be followed to qualify.

One entry per reader, please.  This giveaway closes September 7th, and the winner will be picked at random.
Best of luck! xoxo!

Healthy Reese’s Cups

Hello there!  You’ve just landed yourself square in Lunch Lady Land!  Welcome!

In case you are new to YinMom YangMom, we are doing a multi-part series on healthy treats for kids that are perfect for a packed lunch.  Sneak in some extra nutrition with this recipe that’s not nearly as naughty as it tastes!

When I came across Baker Lady’s Reese’s Bars on Pinterest, I just knew I had to give it a twirl.  My five-year-old has just recently discovered the joy of peanut butter cups and he is so excited about them!  We made them and he LOVED!  They were gone within a few days and he didn’t waste any time asking for more.  Sneaky devil that I am, I saw this as the perfect opportunity to bait and switch his new favorite for another version that bumps up the whole grain, protein, and omega-3’s, makes it school cafeteria friendly by using a nut-free substition, and has just enough chocolatey sweetness to satisfy his sweet tooth.

I nixed the two sticks of butter to lower the fat.  I replaced the powdered sugar with agave nectar, which is just as sweet but has a lower glycemic index, so it’s less likely to cause blood sugar spikes, ie: hyperactivity/crash and burn.  I’ve also subbed in whole wheat bread crumbs for half the graham cracker crumbs, which lowers the sugar and increases the protein and whole grain content.  Finally, a bit of vanilla protein powder and ground flax seeds bump up the nutritional value even more, to make this treat something you can really be happy to give your little ones.

This is sunflower seed butter:

You can find it at the regular supermarket, right next to the peanut butter.  You could also try using soy nut butter, but some feel that soy is a bit questionable health-wise, and sunflower seed butter is soooo yummy!  It’s so much like peanut butter you almost can’t tell the difference!  And it is nut-free so it’s perfect for school and especially for kids with tree-nut allergies.

Sneakily Nutritious Nut-Free Reese’s Cups
makes about 18 min-cups
(adapted from BakerLady.wordpress.com)

3/4 cup sunflower seed butter
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
2 tablespoons protein powder
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Throw all of the ingredients, except for the chocolate, into a bowl…

…stir until it’s all combined.

Drop by the tablespoonful into a mini-muffin tin with paper liners.

Squoosh it all down flat.

Melt the chocolate.  In my microwave, it takes a minute and a half on 70% power.  They come out looking like this:

which is deceiving because they look like they aren’t melted.  But when you stir them around a little…

…surprise!  They’re perfect.  Dollop about a half-teaspoon of chocolate onto each cup and smooth it over with a little spatula or a butter knife.

Chill in the fridge for half an hour or until the chocolate is set.

We like ours in mini-muffin cups.  This makes it really easy to pop a perfect portion into your little one’s lunch box, but if you don’t have a mini muffin tin, you can use a glass baking dish and just cut it into squares.

The little fella had no idea that these were anything but the real deal.  MWOO-Hoo-Hoo-Ha!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out my recipes for Homemade Gummy Fruit Snacks and Juicy Jiggles!  And, stay tuned for lots more kid-friendly brown-bag ideas from Lunch Lady Land!

Easy Way to Clean Silver

Today is a special day; my dear little Choochelah is off to his first day of kindergarten!

Tucked away in my jewelry box is this little tourmaline ring.  I hold it close to my heart.  It was a birthday present from Mr. Allie, purchased on a trip to Bar Harbor, Maine, very shortly after little Chooch took up residence in my tummy just over five short years ago.  I always remember that trip (our last before becoming mama and dada) when I look at that ring, and it somehow makes me feel even closer to my precious boy.

I dragged out the little treasure this morning, but before I could put it on my finger, I noticed with dismay that it was poorly neglected and terribly tarnished…

Do you guys know this trick already?  I wish I could say I invented it, but I think it’s actually been around for a long time…

Gather up your sad and dirty sterling silver…

…line a glass dish with aluminum foil.  Sprinkle baking soda all over the surface of the foil.  Is there anything baking soda can’t do?

Lay your silver out on the baking soda/foil.

Pour boiling water over.

By the time the water is cool, you will see a lot less tarnish.

Buff the baubles with a paper towel to shine them up even more.

My tourmaline precious is practically as good as new!

It really helps, and it’s nice to not have to mess around with a chemical-ly silver polish.  But if you have something really gross it might not completely do the trick.

You are on my mind and in my heart today, and every day, sweet ChoochooBear…  Happy Kindergarten, baby!

Homemade Gummy Snacks and Juicy Jiggles

To celebrate the beginning of a new school year, I’d like to kick off a new YinMom YangMom series I’m calling:

“Lunch Lady Land”

Let’s begin with a musical interlude:

Some pretty background music while you read…

“Lunch Lady Land” will be a recurring theme over the next few months as I share some fun ideas for kid-friendly foods that are perfect for a packed lunch.  My goal is to present foods that are

1) kinda healthy, but not so much as to not also be
2) yummy and appealing to the average kiddo.

It’s a very fine line.

My own two little ones definitely have their favorite munchies, most of them being store-bought and loaded with preservatives, artificial colors and flavorings, high fructose corn syrup, transfat, and God only knows what else.  I’m trying to keep them as “once in a while” treats, and offer more natural, chemical free options, with a few nutritious and healthy additions snuck in, on a more regular basis.

So, without any further ado, here is our first offering from “Lunch Lady Land”:

Did you know you can actually make your own fruit snacks?  Did you know that it’s really not even that hard and it only takes two ingredients?

I found these adorable molds at Walmart, for 99 cents, people!

Give them a little spritz with some non-stick baking spray, (ok, three ingredients), and wipe out the excess with a paper towel or dishrag.

Gather up the healthiest juice you can find, that your kid would still want to drink.  I’m using V8 fusion Strawberry Banana 100% juice, because there are veggies hiding in there, and Welch’s 100% Grape Juice, because grapes are full of polyphenols, and also it was the purplest thing I could find with no artificial anything, and color is really important to kids.  We eat first with our eyes, and this is especially true for the little ones!

Measure out 1/2 cup of juice, and pour it into a little pot.

This is unflavored gelatine.

You can find it on the same grocery store shelf as regular jello.  Be not afraid.

Sprinkle two packets of gelatine over the juice and let it dissolve.  It will get all slushy-looking.

Warm it over a low flame and it will go all liquidy.  When it looks smooth and clear-ish, pour it back into the measuring cup and then dribble it into the molds.

Let it set in the fridge for a half hour and there you have it!

These are perfect for my kindergartner, but, I also have a three-year-old.  His preschool is very strict about the foods they allow, and gummies are considered a choking hazard.

So, here is my way around that, which also allows me to sneak in some anti-oxidant rich fresh berries.

1 cup of white cranberry juice, warmed with
1 packet of plain gelatine

Pour it into a lightly oiled square glass baking dish and chill for about 15 minutes or until set.

Arrange fresh berries on top.

Now, do it again:
1 cup of white cranberry juice, warmed with
1 packet of plain gelatine

Pour it over the berries and chill for a half hour.

Unmold it onto a cutting board and cut it into shapes with a cookie cutter, or just cubes with a knife.

These are the kind of fruit snacks I can feel good about giving to my kids.  They are loaded with fresh fruit and 100% fruit and veggie juice, with no unwanted additives.  They have no added sugar.  They are full of good nutrition.  Even the gelatine is healthy: it’s full of protein and collagen for healthy hair, skin, and nails.

What kinds of foods do your kids like to eat in their lunches?  Would you like to see a homemade and improved version of it?  Leave me your thoughts in the comment section and I’ll see what I can come up with!

I’m Leaving On a Jet Plane…

Sniff… I feel a little emotional.  I’m going to visit my best friend since high school, all by myself, for four days tomorrow.  This is a major milestone for me.  Ever since I became a mom and was slapped with the extent of time and effort our beautiful miraculous children require, I always took comfort from the fact that some day, my babies would grow big enough to handle me going away for a little me time.  The time has come!

While I will surely miss my beautiful family, I love me some Karen.  This is us when we first met, and not a lot has changed since then.

Delicate flowers, we are.

I am a little nervous about the whole trip, but I keep reminding myself that I live my life FEARLESSLY, and I’m here just to be, and to experience it.  I know it’s going to be wonderful.

Until next week, XOXO!