Friday, January 30, 2009

chocolate eclair cake, chocolate mint bars and chocolate peppermint candy cookies

Do you detect a theme to today's food for thought friday post? It's all about the tasty chocolate desserts from the church bake-off. (After today we'll do just one more dessert post and finally be done with our bake-off series.) I am a BIG fan of chocolate so these were some of my favorite treats from that night, although I will say there was a pretty tasty lemon sugar snap recipe I'll be sharing with you next week. And for me to say a lemon cookie is tasty means it's pretty dang good!

Chocolate Eclair Cake
Approximately 45 graham crackers
3 c milk
1 large container Cool Whip
2 small packages Instant Vanilla Pudding
1 can chocolate frosting

Layer the bottom of a 9x13 dish with graham crackers. Mix pudding and milk in a bowl and beat until thick. Blend in Cool Whip. Pour half of the pudding mixture over graham crackers. Add another layer of graham crackers and then layer the remaining pudding. Add a third layer of graham crackers. Take the foil off the frosting container and microwave for 30 seconds. Pour frosting over top. Refrigerate 24 hours before serving.

NOTE: This recipe makes too much pudding mixture for the dish. You can divide the ingredients and use the 9x13 and a 9x9 with 1 1/2 cans of frosting. It will fill both dishes.

Chocolate Mint Bars
Bottom Layer
1 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 c sugar
1/2 c egg substitute
1/4 c melted butter
2 T water
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 (16-oz) can chocolate syrup (about 1 1/3 c)

Mint Layer
2 c powdered sugar
2 T milk
1/4 c melted butter
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
2 drops green food coloring

3/4 c semisweet chocolate chips
3 T butter

To prepare bottom layer, combine all ingredients for bottom layer and mix with wire whisk till smooth and blended. Pour batter into 13x9 pan coated with cooking spray and bake at 350 degrees for 28 min. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean. Do not overcook or the bars will be dry. Cool completely.

To prepare mint layer, combine all ingredients for that layer and beat with a mixer until smooth. Spread mint mixture over cooled cake.

To prepare glaze, combine chocolate chips and butter and microwave on high for 1 min. or until melted, stirring after 30 seconds. Let stand 2 minutes. Spread mixture evenly over top. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Dessert can be made up to one day ahead.

NOTE: I haven't tried it but I'm wondering if you could use a simple brownie mix for the bottom layer and cut the prep time and needed ingredients. Thoughts?

Chocolate Peppermint Candy Cookies
1/2 c butter (room temperature)
1 1/2 c sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp peppermint extract
1/2 c milk chocolate, melted
1/2 c cocoa
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
45 round peppermint candies or several candy canes (about 8) coarsely crushed

Cream butter. Add sugar and whip until blended then add eggs and beat until fluffy. Add vanilla and peppermint extract, then add cocoa. Blend well. Stir in melted chocolate. Add remaining dry ingredients and stir in 1/3 of crushed peppermints, reserving 2/3 of the candies. Refrigerate dough until firm, about 30 minutes (or wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight).

Using a 1 1/2-inch scoop, form mounds of dough; dip tops into remaining candies to coat. Place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 2" apart. Bake at 350 degrees until just set (about 12 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes. Cool completely and store cookies in an airtight container. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
"Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of the pieces." ~Judit Viorst

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Parents Everywhere: strengthen family connections

Suzette Boyette, one of the women behind The Madness of Motherhood show (LeShan was a guest on the show in 2007), filled us in on a new-to-us website called Parents Everywhere. The site strives to strengthen family connections by utilizing an incredible group of experts who provide you with timely parenting tools.

The network of shows includes everything from children's health to family vacations to living green. Though you can listen any time, you might want to regis
ter. Membership is free and benefits include:

  • Finding out how to boost your child's self-esteem
  • Learning techniques to prevent sibling rivalry
  • Learning the top 5 things you can do to avoid a cesarean delivery
  • Knowing the pros and cons of epidurals for you and your baby
  • Discovering the things to avoid to have a healthier pregnancy
  • Learning how to encourage independent thinking and problem solving skills

You also receive free attendance to informative parenting tele-seminars and can listen to exclusive recorded interviews with top experts in parenting and family issues. Plus when you register at Parents Everywhere you will receive Suzette Boyette's Top 3 Parenting Secrets, an 18-minute audio show where Suzette shares secrets to creating "magical moments" with your children.

Though you wouldn't normally think of a parenting site as worthy of a that's hot! thursday feature, but in this day and age families are more important than ever. Parents Everywhere is striving to strengthen family connections and that is (not as Paris Hilton would say) hot! --Emily

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

tired of the CPSIA? we sure are.

If you follow me on Twitter or simply follow any #cpsia tweets, or if you're lucky enough to know someone in the business of creating products for children then you've probably had an earful by now about the CPSIA or Consumer Product Safety Improvment Act. But even an earful isn't enough as the possible effects of the law are felt by more and more businesses (think Etsy), organizations (think the ALA--American Library Association) and you, the end customer (think less choices and higher prices).

Today has been designated as a CPSIA Blog-in, a virtual sit-in of sorts. Perhaps if we inundate the Web with what we know about this badly written law, we will finally be heard. I'm not sure Henry Waxman, Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, will ever listen to the message I left on his voicemail. (As someone said on Twitter, he probably has an assistant sitting nearby with one of those bus-driver clickers keeping count.) But as seen from the recent Motrin fiasco, we do know the power of bloggers--it's a force to be reckoned with!

I have already posted about the CPSIA with some of my favorite links but here are a few more just in case you thought you, the end customer, wouldn't be affected by its reach.

LeShan and I are doing our own protest of sorts and have yet to take an XRF gun to our line of infant apparel. Though the law does not allow us to use certificates of compliance from our suppliers (American Apparel for our tees and a local screen printer for designs), we will have their certificates stating both tees and inks are lead free. For us, that is enough. As our local American Apparel distributor said, and I quote, "Don't they know there's no lead in apparel?" And by "they" I'm pretty sure he meant the idiots behind the CPSIA.

We feel confident our infant wear is lead free and will continue to sell it on our site. We are also confident that change is in the air. We will be offering a really great sale in the next few days in "honor" of the CPSIA, so keep your eyes out for that announcement. (We are still working out the details.) Because we did not do our own testing, though it would've cost us only a few hundred dollars, you will not see our infant line on some of our online boutiques. Hopefully the law will be resolved soon and we can all get back to work. I know for many of us this CPSIA has caused more than a few gray hairs and more than a few added pounds due to stress-related eating.

We would love your help in spreading the word about the CPSIA and the possible National Bankruptcy Day on February 10th. If you don't feel up to contacting your local congressman perhaps you'd be willing to link to this post from Twitter, Facebook or even your own blog. If you've never participated in a sit-in, or blog-in in this case, now's your chance! --Emily

win a laptop from Mom It Forward's Gab & Give event!

Four Different Giveaways.
Five Amazing Prizes.
Thirteen Winners.
Four Ways to Enter: Vlog, Blog, Photo, or Comment.
One Great Purpose: To Mom It Forward!

If that doesn't pique your interest on this wonderful web wednesday, I don't know what will! Mom It Forward (aka #GNO in the Twitter community) is kicking off its first Gab & Give Event in a really, really big way. The giveaways are all about promoting service—-the mission behind Mom It Forward--and MomIF is having four different giveaways. Although you can enter all four you can only win once. Sigh...I know...but we all need to learn to share.

By the time you read this post one of the deadlines has already come and gone so you better get moving on the other three. Prizes include an HP laptop, HP Photosmart printer, Muvee Reveal movie editing software and an
He's Just Not That Into You movie soundtrack or hoodie.

For more details and to enter the giveaway check out "Announcing MomIF's First Gab & Give of 2009!" Get ready to give service and gab about it! --Emily

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Babycapes sale! 40% off all styles!

I reviewed Babycapes not too long ago on Boutique Cafe's Daily Dish. (You can read my Babycapes review here.) Though it took a few tries to get the hang of it we have fallen in love with this stylish, warm, super soft--and very safe--coat. The retail price (around $80) is a bit high for some budgets but since the coat can be worn from infant to toddler I still feel it's a worthwhile investment. Plus your child is a lot safer buckled in her car seat wearing a Babycape than that bulky sweater or coat!

If the price tag kept you from purchasing your own Babycape, you're in luck. The company just announced its American Economic Recovery Sale. All Babycapes are now 40% off! That is just about wholesale so you won't find a better deal anywhere online or at any other time of year. Don't wait too long to choose your favorite--popular styles will go quickly. You can view the entire collection online at

P.S. Keep your eyes open for our own special sale. We'll be announcing it soon! --Emily

the giving tee

You've heard of Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree but have you heard of Tiny Revolutionary's The Giving Tee? I doubt it's as well known as the aforementioned book yet it has just as strong an impact, if not more, on society. Why? Because The Giving Tee supports a variety of worthy causes.

My favorite Giving Tee has "This shirt saved a life" emblazoned on the front. The tee is the result of Tiny Revolutionary's partnership with Africa Aid. The shirt truly is a life saver. When you purchase a "This shirt saved a life" tee, $20 is donated directly to Africa Aid to fund a child in their school lunch program in the Buduburam Refugee Settlement in Ghana for an entire year. Yes, an entire year. The design is printed on a super soft 100% cotton vintage black tee with non-toxic inks. Each tee includes an inside print explaining the program and is hand-numbered before it's shipped so it's truly one of a kind.

Tiny Revolutionary has two other Giving Tees, both just as cool as their "This shirt saved a life." "No guitar left behind" helps provide music education and instruments to homeless and underprivileged kids in the Chicago area through Rock for Kids. "Where there is love, there is life" helps caregivers learn techniques that improve their ability to nurture a child's social, cognitive and physical development through Hands to Hearts International.

Giving Tees cost from $34 to $40, but $10 to $20 of that goes directly to a charitable foundation. (I can't say the same for my latest Esprit t-shirt purchase.) Tiny Revolutionary is giving you an easy way to support a worthy cause, something that's always in style and even more so in today's economy. Make your next apparel purchase your most fashionable one yet. --Emily

Monday, January 26, 2009

101 posts for your blog

Though I have quite a stash of bookmarked sites ready and waiting for our blog, a day will come when I've run out of ideas. If you're a blogger, mom or not, this same scary thought may have crossed your mind as well. Have no fear! Mom Bloggers Club is here!

"101 Post Ideas for Your Mom Blog" Jennifer James of Mom Bloggers Club compiles a list of 101 statements, thoughts and questions aimed at getting your creative posting juices flowing. Being a mom we often suffer from that whole mommy brain thing where all coherent thoughts somehow unexplicably disappear. When you're having such a moment you can browse through Jennifer's lis; I guarantee at least one or two items will get you thinking...and then get you writing.

Browsing the list I found at least three ideas out of the first ten that beg to be written. I can only imagine how many I'll find as I read through all 101! Yes, mom bloggers have many life experience from which to draw but sometimes those same life experiences are what sap our brain of its usefulness. When those times hit--and they will, trust me--you can read through Jennifer James' "101 Post Ideas for Your Mom Blog." It will get you over that writer's block in no time! --Emily

P.S. The answer to #37? The mailman...and I plead the 5th as to why...

Friday, January 23, 2009

zuppa soup, cafe rio style chicken, and chicken enchilada casserole

Another food for thought friday in the church bake-off series (no introduction needed by now). This one features a version of one of my favorite soups of all time, Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana, along with an easy and yummy slow cooker recipe and an ever popular chicken enchilada casserole. After today's post we have only a couple more to go before I've worked my way through my faves of the year. Hang in there!

Cafe Rio Style Chicken
8-10 thawed, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
garlic powder
onion powder
chili powder
liquid smoke
1 can green chili sauce; mild
1 can chicken broth
1 c brown sugar (if desired)

Put chicken breasts in a crock-pot. Sprinkle with garlic, onion and chili powders, liquid smoke, green chili sauce and chicken broth. Add a little water and let chicken cook for 4-6 hours. Shred or cut chicken and add brown sugar if desired. Let cook another 3 to 45 min. NOTE: If using beef or pork roast, increase cooking time to 6 - 8 hours.

Café Rio Style Dressing
1 pkg. ranch buttermilk dressing (3 T.)
1 c mayo
1/3 - 1/2 C. buttermilk
1 c fresh cilantro
2 cloves fresh garlic
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a blender and let chill in the fridge at least one hour. NOTE: I substitute 1/2 C 1% milk with I tbsp. lemon juice for the buttermilk.

Zuppa Soup
1 lb. spicy (hot) sausage
1/2 lb. bacon, cut into bits
1 quart water
3 1/2 c chicken broth
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 lbs. russet potatoes (brown)
1 c kale or Swiss chard, finely chopped
1 c heavy whipping cream
2 cloves garlic

Fry sausage and bacon; drain. In large pot combine water, broth, potatoes, onion and garlic. Simmer over medium heat until potatoes are tender. Add kale/chard and cream to pot, salt and pepper to taste and heat through. This is a runny soup. Goes great with fresh bread or rolls.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 can soup can milk
1/2 c sour cream
1/2 medium onion, chopped small
1 small can green chilies, drained
2 c cooked chicken, cubed
10-12 flour or corn tortillas, torn or cut into pieces
1/2 c shredded cheese

Combine soup, milk and sour cream. Stir in onion, chilies, chicken and tortillas. Pour into casserole dish. Sprinkle with cheese; cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Note: I use flour tortillas instead of corn. I usually use one or two more than it calls for.
"If hunger makes you irritable, better eat and be pleasant." ~Sefer Hasidim

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

must-have toy: Playmobil Security Check Point

Today's post reminds me of when you hear a funny joke or see something funny on TV (like the cell phone commericial where the mom mixes up the leftover minutes with the new minutes on the coffee table) and you continue to randomly chuckle over it for days to come. Hopefully this week's wonderful web wednesday will do the same.

Actually, it's not my post that will make you laugh but rather the latest must-have toy from Playmobil, the Security Check Point. I hadn't heard of this toy until a Facebook friend posted a link to the toy on The toy itself isn't really that funny (see image). At first I actually thought it was the joke...Is there really a check point toy from Playmobil? Yes, yes there is. But the real humor is found in the comments at the bottom of the page. Dripping with sarcasm and full of wit I thoroughly enjoyed reading one comment after another. I had no idea Playmobil wouldn't be up to the task of teaching our children the reality of air travel. You better believe I won't be buying it!

Need a good laugh (and a chuckle or two later in the day)? Check out the Playmobil Security Check Point's comments on Ah yes, it's a wonderful, wonderful web! --Emily

Monday, January 19, 2009

learning from mistakes

Whether it's life or business one thing you must try to do is learn from your mistakes. If you don't you will continue to make the same mistakes over and over again, which ends up being no fun for anyone and can often be costly--and not just for business owners.

I have found mompreneurs to be one of the most supportive groups of women out there. Many of us believe strongly we are all in this together and try to help each other out as often as we can. One way to do so is to let others learn from our mistakes rather than making the same mistakes themselves. An example is this recent post from Savor the Success founder, Angela.

In "My debacle with a Big Name corporate client" Angela shares with readers about her experience with a corporate client and the lack of a purchase order. When all was said and done her company never received payment because the company claimed they never ordered product--and Angela had no way to prove they did because no purchase order existed. She took what she learned from this experience and has since implemented five major steps when it comes to securing orders from customer. You will have to read her story to learn just what those five things are--and learn how to avoid making the same costly mistake.

It's painful to make mistakes and painful to watch others make mistakes. Perhaps that's why moms rely so much on each other for support; it's hard to watch your children make the same mistakes you did. The same goes for business. Those of us who've learned a lesson or two should be willing to share their experience and insight so others can avoid making similar mistakes. Yes, learning from mistakes is a good thing but sometimes not making the mistake in the first place is even better.

Have you learned from someone else's experience? Have you shared what you've learned with others? We would love to hear your thoughts! --Emily

Friday, January 16, 2009

chili verde, chicken & corn chowder and sweet tortilla soup

For this week's food for thought friday we've finally moved on from drinks, breads and appetizers to main dishes from the annual church bake-off, and today's theme is soups (chilis and stews included). These are three of my favorites from the evening, though I might include a great crock-pot chicken recipe next week as well. It's still cold so this recipes are still perfect!

Ed's Famous Chili Verde is famous because when we had our church chili night, it was the first to go and those of us who didn't get any had to listen to everyone rave about it. The Chicken & Corn Chowder with Sweet Potatoes was a pleasant surprise for me, someone who does NOT like sweet potatoes. This is probably the only way I would eat them! And the Sweet Tortilla Soup was wonderfully sweet and the kind of soup that begs to be topped with sour cream, cheese and tortilla strips. Soup's on!

Ed's Famous Chili Verde
2 lbs. pork roast, cut into small pieces
3 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 onion, chopped
6 Anaheim Chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped or 1 can "Whole Fire Roasted Chilies"
4 oz can of tomatillos, drained and puréed
1/2 T cumin
1/4 tsp crushed red chilies
2 T chopped cilantro
1 cube chicken bouillon, dissolved in 1 C. water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Place oil in a pan and brown the pork. Season the pork with salt and pepper during browning. Transfer pork to a crock pot and add the remaining ingredients. Simmer for 4-5 hours. If you like your soup thicker, add flour or tortilla flour dissolved in water to thicken. Serve with cheddar cheese and tortillas.

Chicken & Corn Chowder with Sweet Potatoes
3 c whole milk (skim works)
1 c yellow corn muffin mix (Jiffy is the best)
2 T unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin (optional)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 qts. low sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into ½ inch cubes
2 sweet potatoes (about 1 ½ lbs.), peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces
1 c shredded Monterey Jack cheese
3 c frozen corn (not thawed)
1/2 c chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix milk and muffin mix in bowl until well combined. Meanwhile, heat butter in large Dutch oven over medium heat until foaming. Add onion and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Stir in garlic, cumin, and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add broth, chicken, and sweet potatoes. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer until sweet potatoes are just tender, about 8 minutes.

Stir in milk and muffin mixture and simmer until soup thickens, about 10 minutes. Add cheese and corn and cook until cheese begins to melt, about 2 minutes. Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper and serve. (Soup can be refrigerated in airtight container for up to 3 days.)

Sweet Tortilla Soup
1 lb ground turkey or beef
2 T cumin
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1 8-oz. can stewed tomatoes
1 can red kidney beans
1 can white kidney beans
1 can corn
1 c brown sugar
1 c fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 avocado, diced
Tortilla chips

Fully cook turkey or beef with cumin. Add tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, beans, corn, and brown sugar into crock pot. Stir in cooked turkey. Cook 2-3 hours on high. Just before serving top with cheese, avocado, and tortilla chips.
"An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup." ~H. L. Mencken

Thursday, January 15, 2009

almost better than an SNL skit

What's hot for today's that's hot! thursday? It's the buzz about the recent interview with Vallese from the CPSC regarding the CPSIA. If you've been keeping an eye on the CPSIA issue via blog posts, news headlines or even Twitter than you've probably already heard about the "enlightening" WBAL TV interview with Vallese, (former) spokeswoman for the CPSC. If you haven't watched it yet, it's a must-see for even those not involved in the CPSIA issue.

After you've watched the video, perhaps you can tell me if I'm wrong when I say Vallese never really answered any of the questions asked during the interview. She talked and talked and talked but never said anything. She went from stating resellers of used children's products don't need to worry about testing to saying in not so many words (actually, many, many, many words) that testing may be the only way for a business owner to have the "level of confidence" she needs to sell those used products. By the way, the phrase for the day is "level of confidence" so wonderfully utilized throughout the second half of Vallese's interview.

I just wanted to say thank you to Vallese for clarifying the CPSIA for me. Now everything is crystal clear: The CPSC is just as confused as I am about the new legislation. Just as entertaining as the uncut interview are the various blog posts from those same "mommy bloggers" Vallese referred to so affectionately in her interview. You will find of my favorites listed below. Perhaps SNL should consider having Vallese host an upcoming show...

This is probably the first day in a long time I've smiled when talking about the CPSIA. Hopefully it won't be the last time. Better laughing than crying, right?!?! --Emily

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

decor8: because fashion isn't just about you

Most of our fashion trend tuesdays have been all about the latest clothing and accessories. I can't recall the last time we featured a site or brand focused on making your little world as fashionable as your little one (or you). So today I have an especially stylish treat for you, a blog dedicated to delicious decor aptly named decor8.

decor 8, a blog with "fresh f
inds for hip spaces," first launched three years ago. The site offers its readers everything from "decorating ideas, interiors and independent art and design to inspiration for "living a more fulfilling, creative life." decor8 is updated daily with product reviews, interviews, home tours, do-it-yourself projects and even reader discounts and contests. Who doesn't love a good contest almost as much as a great sofa?

The woman behind decor8 is Holly Becker, a writer and interior design consultant with one foot in New Hampshire and the other in Germany. By living in both places she is able to bring readers the latest finds (shows, shops and studios) from Europe to the U.S. Holly is a regular contributor to Real Simple, Domino, and the Boston Globe’s Style & Art section. You can also read Holly's ideas and insight on Real Simple’s Home & Organizing blog.

With a woman such as Holly behind decor8 you have a style mixed with some serious substance. In other words, she knows what she's talking about and when she talks about something called Big Cartel, you listen (see "Big Cartel Shop Roundup"). Why else do I love this site? Because decor8 reminds me of my good friend LeShan. With her eye fashion and style and talent for design she could write for the blog. Me? I am better off reading it. --Emily

Monday, January 12, 2009

the power of a good nap

You've noticed by now that our usually daily posts are turning into 3-day-a-week posts. This mompreneur is finding herself busier than usual and more tired than ever, so some things have been removed from the daily to-do list. Hopefully with some sleep and some time management I'll be back on schedule but until then I will try and post whenever my time (i.e. kids, work, messy house, other commitments) allows.

Today's mompreneur monday moment is simply this: when you find you're being a far from stellar mom due to lack of sleep (late nights at the in-laws and sick kids will do that to you) and you can't focus on work because your mind is pretty much mush, take a nap. That's exactly what this mompreneur is going to do right now.

Anyone else a big fan of the nap? It's this mom's favorite timeout. What's yours? --Emily

Friday, January 9, 2009

red hot christmas slush, cranberry-orange scones and mediterranean hummus bars

Yes, I've been a slacker this week and only done two posts so far. Somehow the week got away from me and before I knew it, it was late Thursday night and food for thought friday was around the corner. This is one of my favorite posts of the week because I enjoy cooking good food almost as much as eating it!

Last week I featured three of my favorite recipes from our church's annual holiday bake-ff and today I have three more (and then next week three more...). Soon we'll get to the main dishes and desserts, I promise! Until then here is another punch recipe (okay, I didn't try it but everyone else said it was really good...if you like the taste of red hots candies), a yummy scone recipe and a wonderfully fresh appetizer. Enjoy!

Red Hot Christmas Slush
1 frozen orange juice concentrate
1 frozen lemonade concentrate
1/2 bottle cranberry juice
1/2 can pineapple juice
1 pkg. Red Hots candies
1 c water
2 2-liter bottles 7-up

Dissolve Red Hots in water on the stove, allow to cool. Mix orange juice, lemonade, cranberry juice and pineapple juice with cooled Red Hots. Refreeze into rings. Pour 7-up over rings when ready to serve in punchbowl.

Cranberry-Orange Scones
2 c all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 T sugar
5 T unsalted butter, cold, cut in chunks
1 c heavy cream, plus more for brushing the scones
1 c dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sift together the dry ingredients; the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Using 2 forks or a pastry blender, cut in the butter to coat the pieces with the flour. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and pour in the heavy cream. Fold everything together just to incorporate; do not overwork the dough. Fold the cranberries into the dough. (Dough is dry and crumbly.)

Press the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 12x3x1 1/4 inches. Cut the rectangle in 1/2 then cut the pieces in 1/2 again, giving you 4 (3-inch) squares. Cut the squares in 1/2 on a diagonal to give you the classic triangle shape. Place the scones on an ungreased cookie sheet and brush the tops with a little heavy cream and sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until beautiful and brown. Let the scones cool a bit before you apply the glaze.

Orange Glaze:
1/2 c freshly squeezed orange juice
2 c confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 orange, zest finely grated
1 T unsalted butter

Mix the orange juice and confectioners' sugar together in a microwave-safe bowl. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the orange zest and butter. Nuke it for 30 seconds on high. Whisk the glaze to smooth out any lumps, then drizzle the glaze over the top of the scones. Let it set a minute before serving.

Mediterranean Hummus Bars
2 pkg. refrigerated crescent rolls
1 lemon
1 container (7-8 oz.) original hummus
1/4 c sour cream
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 small can sliced olives
1/2 medium cucumber, cored and coarsely chopped
1/4 medium red onion, chopped
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 T olive oil
1/2 c feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 c fresh basil, snipped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Unroll one package of crescent rolls and lay across one end of jelly roll pan with longest side of dough across width of pan. Repeat with remaining rolls on other half of pan. Seal all seems and press dough up sides to form a crust. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely.

Zest lemon to measure 1 teaspoon of zest. In small bowl combine zest, hummus, sour cream and garlic. Whisk until smooth. Spread hummus mixture evenly over crust. In another bowl, mix olives, cucumber, red onion, tomatoes and oil. Spoon veggie mixture evenly over crust, leaving excess liquid in bowl. Sprinkle with feta and basil. Cut into squares.
"It's so beautifully arranged on the plate--you know someone's fingers have been all over it." ~Julia Child

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

BlueSky Rocket and Bubby Boutique carry georgie tees!

It is fashion trend tuesday and readers of our blog know we use this day (and sometimes wonderful web wednesday) to make announcements related to georgie tees. Today we'd love to give a shout-out to the two newest boutiques to carry our line, BlueSky Rocket and Bubby Boutique. Bubby Boutique is the newest and has yet to add all our tees, but they have maternity up so far! (pregnancy does come before baby so it's fitting...).

These two boutiques offer wonderful items for mom and babies; you'll want to visit both because they carry a variety of different product lines. Help share the georgie tees love and visit BlueSky Rocket and Bubby Boutique today.

Look for another boutique soon to be added to the list. Hint: it's one we've featured in a past blog post. Plus, a fabulous showroom just launched in Los Angeles and we're in it! We'll be sharing the news with you later this week. Happy shopping! --Emily

Monday, January 5, 2009

and the survey says...

I don't mind filling out surveys. It's a great way to provide a company feedback on my shopping experience or my healthcare provider on the type of service I received at my last visit. I've also helped college students gather information for a class project and fellow websites decide which new products to carry.

Many of the surveys I've filled out have been hosted/created by and I've always been impressed with their simple yet easy-to-navigate design. With the new year just beginning I thought it the perfect time to feature SurveyMonkey on mompreneur monday. As a business owner you may be looking to change up your product line, improve your customer service or just find out what type of customers frequent your site or business. Using an online survey is an easy and affordable way to do so.

SurveyMonkey launched in 1999 and is an online tool that allows anyone (no experience necessary) to create their own surveys. The process is quick and easy and the feedback is priceless. Apparently more than 80% of the Fortune 100 use SurveyMonkey, so you're in good company! Here are just a sampling of the great features of SurveyMonkey's surveys:

  • Various types of questions, from multiple choice to rating scales to open-ended text.
  • Over 50 survey templates
  • Support for any language
  • Custom themes
  • Ability to validate responses

SurveyMonkey has a few video tutorials to get you started. Membership is free and the pricing fits just about any budget--including those of us with no budget at all! If you want to find out what your customers really think about your business, all you need to do is ask, and SurveyMonkey will help you do just that. --Emily

Friday, January 2, 2009

even a 17-month-old can make a point

My youngest daughter's favorite thing to do these days is toddle over to my computer desk, furrow her brow while looking at me and pull my left arm down by my side while I'm typing. While she's using her right arm to pull my left arm away she uses her left hand to push in the pull-out keyboard shelf thing so I can no longer type. Do you think she's trying to tell me something? Somthing along the lines of "Hey, Mom, I'm kind of tired of your endless typing and lack of one-on-one attention. Could you get off your butt and like, feed me or change me or even play with me or something?" Yeah, I'm thinking that's just what she's trying to say...and trust me, it's pretty easy to listen when you're no longer able to reach the keyboard. (And yes, that's exactly how I look when I'm working on my computer.) --Emily

cranberry punch, zesty cheese spread and coconut bread

Every year our church women's group has its annual recipe bake-off. Whoever would like to can submit a recipe or two (or three in my case--LOL) for the church cookbook. We bake a sample of our recipe and take it to one of three or so homes and then eat our way into oblivion (it's all about pacing yourself, trust me), tasting yummy dishes at every home. I come equipped with pencil in hand to mark down my favorites since they give each of us copies of the compiled recipes before we start the nightlong taste test.

Last year I posted all my most favorite recipes at one time ("good food and good friends make for a great night!"). This year I'm going to post only about three at a time--it is still the holidays and I'm still taking a mini vacation from blogging. ;) So today's food for thought friday brings you Christmas Cranberry Punch, Zesty Cheese Spread and Coconut Bread. Enjoy!

Christmas Cranberry Punch
4 c cranberry juice
4 c pineapple juice
1 1/2 c sugar
1 T almond extract
2 quarts ginger ale

Serve over ice in clear punch bowl. Note: You can add a few holly sprigs to the punch bowl for decoration.

Zesty Cheese Spread
1/2 c butter, softened
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (4 oz.) cans diced green chilies
1 c mayonnaise
3 c grated Colby/Jack cheese
2 or 3 baguettes

Mix together butter, garlic and green chilies. Mix together mayo and cheese in separate bowl. Slice bread into 1/2-inch slices on the diagonal. Place slices onto cookie sheets. Spread approximately 1/2 teaspoon of butter mixture onto baguette slices, then top with approx. 1 teaspoon cheese mixture. Broil until cheese mixture is bubbly. Serve hot.

Coconut Bread (This was one of my favoritest! And no, that's not a real word but it works!)
4 eggs
2 c sugar
1 c canola oil
2 tsp coconut extract
3 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 c buttermilk
1 1/2 c (heaping) flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat eggs, sugar, oil and coconut extract together well. Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and add to egg mixture. Add buttermilk and coconut. Stir well. Pour into loaf pans and bake for approximately 45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Yields 2 regular size loaves or 3 small loaves. Best when made a day or two ahead of time and refrigerated. (Wrap in foil to refrigerate.)
Look for more favorite bake-off recipes next Friday!

"Food to a large extent is what holds a society together and eating is closely linked to deep spiritual experiences." ~Peter Farb & George Aremlagos