Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween

Whether you are the only one dressed up in a crowd,

or you fit right in, wishing you a very Happy and Safe Halloween!
the Rice Pot Mama

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tuesday Tips - Keeping it Simple

Last night was the preschool pumpkin carving party. Aside from carving we had games of pumpkin golf and ghost bowling.
We also made these cute ghosts I wrote about the other day. The little streamers are attached using tape. The teachers and I thought it was a great idea to pre-cut the tape and stick it along the sides of the table for the kids to grab easily. What we forgot to take in consideration is that at this age the kids literally lean against tables when they are working. All the tape became stuck to the side of the table. Oops. I spent a good part of the evening scraping tape off of the table. Sometimes my ideas to simplify end up taking more work!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Creepy Crawlies

We are having our annual pumpkin carving party today. It's really evolved through the years from a creative pumpkin contest to an all out kid fest. This year as a party favor we decided to make these cute spiders.

They were very quick to put together. The materials required are: Tootsie Pops, black pipe cleaners and googly-eyes. Start by cutting the pipe cleaners in half. Take 4 pieces and wrap around the stick of a lollipop. Bend the pipe cleaners to look like legs. Glue on eyes. Nate was our official eye gluer.

He glued the eyes on an entire cluster of spiders. Great job, Nate!

Friday, October 25, 2013


We've seen ghostly apparitions in our house lately. I managed to capture them on camera...spooky!

I'm hosting the preschool Pumpkin Carving Party on Monday and was trying to figure out a craft that a) didn't include candy and b) is simple enough for 2+ year old kids to do. These ghosts are what we settled on. They are a snap to make and take very few supplies! Draw your ghostly face on a paper cup. Cut streamers into 6" strips. Tap them to the mouth of the cup. Poke a whole through the bottom of the cup and pull a string through to hang the ghost.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tuesday Tips - Peeling Butternut Squash

I wrote about peeling butternut squash back in 2012. This tip, however, is one of the best I've ever gotten (Thanks, Holly!). Instead of trying to slice the skin off of a squash use a vegetable peeler to skin it! It is so much easier than using a knife and I no longer fear slicing my finger off.

See how great it works?!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Waffle Cones

Nate has been begging to make our own ice cream cones ever since he discovered our waffle cone maker. For some reason I remember it being a lot more of a hassle than it really is. It was so simple I don't think I'll ever buy the store bought kind again! All you need are eggs, salt, sugar, flour and butter.

I knew I wanted to make a lot so I doubled the recipe. Start with your eggs: two whole eggs plus two egg whites.

Beat those eggs with the salt. Add in the sugar and beat until the color lightens.

Add in the flour and then the melted butter and you're ready to go!

If you don't have a waffle cone maker you can use a waffle maker (not the Belgian waffle kind) or a panini press. Heat your waffle cone maker and add two tablespoons of batter to the center.

Close the lid and bake to your desired done-ness.

Pull off the press and immediately place the cone mold on top. Roll the waffle around the cone. The sides should overlap.

Press the cone seam side down while the waffle cools and starts to hold it's shape. Pinch the tip of the cone so there is no gap. You don't want to have melting ice cream dripping out!

We added an upside down chocolate chip to the bottom of each cone to also help guard against drips!

We also decided to try to make waffle bowls. We found two small bowls that fit into each other. Start by putting the smaller of the two bowls upside down on your work surface.

When you have a hot waffle ready, place it on top of that bowl.

Next put your larger bowl right on top of the waffle. Leave in place until the shape hardens.

Remove the bowls and you are ready to eat!
Waffle Cones
1 whole egg
1 egg white
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. sugar
2/3 c. flour
2 T. butter, melted and cooled slightly.
Preheat the waffle cone maker.
Beat the egg, egg white and salt in a small bowl until well blended. Beat in the sugar until it is incorporated and the egg has lightened in color slightly; about 1 minute. Add flour and beat another 15 seconds or until incorporated and all of the lumps are gone. Add the melted butter and stir until well blended.
Spoon 2 tablespoons of batter in the center of the iron. Bake for one minute then check for desired color. Cook an additional 5 to 10 seconds if necessary.
Remove the waffle and form as desired. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tuesday Tips - Eggplant

It seems that there are two camps of people...those who like eggplant and those that don't. I've never met someone who is impartial, you either love it or hate it. I love it.

I had a Thai curry cooking lesson with my friend Kung the other day and learned something new about eggplant. After slicing it immediately put it in a bowl of cold water. This will keep the flesh from turning brown. It works like a charm for Thai eggplant (pictured above), Chinese eggplant and your standard aubergine. Give it a try!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Big Apple

Two weeks ago Jim and I went to New York for the weekend. We met up with my sister and our niece Laura. The weather was perfect. The food was amazing. The company perfect. One of the things that I enjoyed that I've never really took notice of before was the amazing street art. It held a vibrancy and talent not found in most cities.

Jim and I took a moment to recreate this scene from the High Line. Gotta love the Big Apple!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Kids Marathon

Last Saturday our kids participated in the Kids Marathon, part of the Portland Marathon activities. There was bouncy house, a climbing wall, but the most important part was the race. They ran the Toddler Dash which was one lap around the track. The race was fun but the best part was they did this with friends...

Sweetie pie girl Elise,

Our cutie patootie goddaughter Corinne,

Fierce competitor Isaac,

and sparkling Jaya.

When the race started the older kids took off fast.

They soon left the little sisters in the dust. They finished before we made it half way around.

Corinne had an assist from mom Holly.
Gabby ran the entire race on her own. Note the Lara bar sample in her hand. She ran the entire quarter mile holding that sample.

Gabs crossed the finish line fifth to last and yelled "Yay". She them promptly shoved the entire energy bar in her mouth. Note how she can't close her mouth. It was completely stuffed full.
Congrats to our little racers! You all did wonderfully!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tuesday Tips - Iceburg Lettuce

This Tuesday's tip is one I learned when I was a little girl growing up in a restaurant. To remove the stem and core from a head of iceberg lettuce, don't cut it! There is a much easier way...

All you do is slam the core down onto the counter top!

Seriously, grab the head of lettuce with two hands and slam it down hard and it will not only loosen but...

Will come out whole leaving a perfect head of lettuce with no core.

See? Just the core. Awesome, huh?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Roasted Tomato Paste

My neighbor Geri laughed when I told her about accidentally picking too many tomatoes. I'm glad I told her because she told me about making your own tomato paste. I never thought about doing that! Simply slice up the tomatoes, toss them with olive oil and sprinkle generously with Kosher salt. Bake at 325 degrees for 6-8 hours. After a couple of hours the tomatoes will expel all of their juices and it will look like a juicy mess. Keep cooking! Keep the tomatoes in the oven until the juices all evaporate and the tomatoes start to char. Remove from the oven and cool. Puree in a blender or food processor until smooth.

Geri plucks the skins off of the tomatoes once they get juicy. I tried plucking them off and leaving them on and didn't see a noticeable difference so left the skins on for all later batches.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tuesday Tips - Baking Pan Substitutions

When I bake a cake or cupcakes I often want to use a different pan than what the recipe recommends. I think it's the non-conformist in me! The trick is that some pans are equivelent to each other while others are not. Here is a quick substition list:
Bundt = two 8" x 2" rounds
Standard 12-cup muffin tin = a basic loaf = 8" x 8" square = 9" round
Jelly roll pan = 8" x 8" square = 9" x 2" round