Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Best teether?

A mother came to me last week with her child, who had recently begun teething. We were chatting about ways to relieve her child's discomfort and the question arose:

"Is there any specific teether you can recommend?"

My new favorite gnaw-buddies are Chewbeads. They are soft and gentle on babies gums, unlike some hard teethers I've seen, which I feel only work to inflame baby's gums. Chewbeads are made of 100% silicone, and feel similar to pacifiers and nipples. They are dishwasher safe and BPA, PVC and lead free!

The brilliance of these teethers is the design. Created as jewelry for mom, these come in strands of varying lengths, with multiple colors and styles to choose from. All necklaces have a break-away clasp for added safety.

Now the teether is one less thing you need to remember to add to your diaper bag. Just toss on a color that compliments your outfit and both you and baby will reap the rewards all day!

Check them out at www.chewbeads.com.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Glitter Octopus

Here at Bubbles Academy, we like our glitter. No, not like. WE LOVE OUR GLITTER! We also like to upcycle (taking something that is disposable and transforming it into something of greater value) items from around the home to make spunky, glitterfied crafts. 

There is nothing more bub-a-licious than taking an old toilet paper roll and turning into a beautiful, sparkly octopus. This is a wonderful art project for kids, and it is made out of a recycled item! It just doesn't get any better than that.

To make your fabulous glitter octopus, you will need to:
1. Lay out newspaper underneath your craft supplies for easy cleanup!
2. Cut seven one-inch slits around the bottom or your toilet paper roll.

3. Curl the slits using your hands to roll the legs upwards.

4. Paint the octopus in your favorite colors!!!

5. Glitterfy!!! (You can also use sequins or stickers to spruce up your octopus.)

6. Set project to dry, on the newspaper.

7. Add eyeball stickers for a finishing touch!

8. Display your octopus as-is, or add string to make a hanging decoration, for all of your friends and family to enjoy!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Week EIGHT: Recap!

Today was our last class of the session, and what a fantastic class it was! To celebrate our graduation, we made party food. We started off the class with mini veggie hotdogs. We then made a salad person out of vegetables for our side. Finally, we topped off class with some delicious trail mix.
This session, we learned so much and tried so many new foods. I am so proud of our Taste Buddies! I wish you many more kitchen adventures!


We used pre-made crescent rolls (from the biscuit section of the grocery store) to upgrade our regular veggie dogs to pigs in a blanket! By adding a just a bit of sprinkled cheese, you can make this healthy party food a major hit for kids.

The Taste Buddies were master chefs and master artists today, as we made salad people. We used soy butter to attach our salad people to the plates for help while we were building them. They turned out pretty cute!

This is a great after-school snack that you can make ahead of time. We used dried mangos and apples and raisins, but any dried fruit works well. What makes this recipe extra special is the addition of popcorn to our trail mix. I noticed it was the most popular ingredient! Make this in bulk and save time during the week.

Week EIGHT: Pigs in a Blanket, Kid's Salad & Popcorn Trail Mix

from AllRecipes.com
  • 8 veggie dogs
  • 8 slices American processed cheese
  • 1 (10 ounce) package refrigerated biscuit dough
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Wrap cheese around each frankfurter then the biscuit around that. 
  3. Put on cookie sheet with the overlap of biscuit faced down, so you don’t have to use tooth picks.
  4. Bake in preheated oven until biscuits are brown, about 10 to 15 minutes.

from BettyCrocker.com
  • Peaches
  • Lettuce
  • Celery
  • Marshmallows
  • Raisins
  • Maraschino cherries
  • Shredded cheese
  1. For each salad, place 1 peach half, cut side down, on 1 lettuce leaf on plate.
  2. Add celery sticks for arms and legs; marshmallow for head; raisins for eyes, nose, buttons, hands and feet; a piece of maraschino cherry for mouth; and shredded cheese for hair.

  • Stove-top popcorn
  • Graham crackers
  • Dried fruits (apples, pineapple, raisins, apricots, bananas, etc.)
  1. Mash graham crackers in plastic baggies.
  2. Prepare popcorn according to package directions.
  3. Add popcorn and dried fruits to each baggie, shake to mix.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Book of the Week: "Way Down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea" by Jan Peck

This summer, our Preschool Preparation classes have been studying the Ocean. I did a lot of research before the start of the session, including watching the entire Discovery Channel's Blue Planet series, raiding YouTube for fascinating octopus videos, and devouring books of all kinds about sea life. I've become a little ocean-obsessed. So, what better book for our first book of the week than Jan Peck's Way Down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea!?! I LOVE THIS BOOK! 

It follows a little redheaded boy on an under-the-sea treasure hunt, "I'm looking for treasure for my Mama and me". As he travels under the ocean, he meets sea creatures of all kinds: a crab playing peek-a-boo, a dancing starfish and fencing swordfish. Once he finds his treasure, he high tails it to the surface, where Mama is waiting for him. Plus, there's a surprise ending (you'll have to read it to find out)!

Kiddos of all ages will enjoy saying, "Hello" with the little boy as he greets each new creature and then saying "See you later!" as you turn the page. It's a fast, fun read. Valeria Petrone's illustrations are absolutely lovely -- simple and engaging, definitely not busy or distracting. I could read this book over and over. It's a definite to add to your reading list before summer is officially over!

Join Miss Becca Drew on Thursday, August 25th at 3:00 for Open Play Story Time where she will read our Book-of-the-Week: Way Down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea by Jan Peck!  

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Week SEVEN: Recap!

Black bean burgers were the main course on the menu today. These are one of my favorite meals to throw together when I have nothing in the fridge and I'm low on time. We also made a delightful Mediterranean salad and a fruit dip for apples. It was a healthy, tasty adventure today in Taste Buddies!

These are such a fun, easy way to put dinner together when you feel like you don't have a lot of time or are just plain tired! They taste great, and they are fun for kids to help you in the kitchen with because they can use their hands to mash and shape the burgers together. I definitely recommend trying these at home!


This is one of those salads that I never think to make, but I wish I did... because it tastes so good in the summertime! Cucumbers are great for kids to chop, and the feta cheese adds a nice punch of flavor to the salad. We pretended the feta was snow that we were sprinkling on our salad. So fun!


I love anything with soy butter, and this fruit dip is a fun way to spruce up an apple or banana. I also think it would taste great with celery. Yummy!

Week SEVEN: BBQ Veggie Burgers, Mediterranean Salad & Apples with Fruit Dip

  • 1 (16-ounce) can black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 onion, cut into wedges
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Thai chili sauce or hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  1. If grilling, preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil. If
    baking, preheat oven to 375°F, and lightly oil a baking sheet.
  2. In a medium bowl, mash black beans with a fork until thick and pasty.
  3. In a food processor, finely chop bell pepper, onion, and garlic; stir into mashed beans. 
  4. In a small bowl, stir together egg, chili powder, cumin, and chili sauce. 
  5. Stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in bread crumbs until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide mixture into four patties.
  6. If grilling, place patties on foil, and grill about 8 minutes on each side.
  7. If baking, place patties on baking sheet, and bake about 10 minutes on each side.

  • 6 cups coarsely chopped English hothouse or Persian cucumbers (about 2 pounds total)
  • 2 large tomatoes (about 1 pound total), coarsely chopped
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped
  • 1 cup assorted pitted olives (such as Kalamata or Gaeta), halved
  • 1 (7-ounce) package feta, crumbled, divided
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Combine cucumbers, tomatoes, scallions, olives, half of feta, and mint in a large bowl. 
  2. Whisk oil and lemon juice in a small bowl; season dressing with salt and pepper.
  3. Pour dressing over salad; toss to coat.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle remaining half of feta over salad and serve.


  • 1 apple
  • 1 tablespoon of cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of soy butter
  1. Chop apple into slices.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients to create dip.
  3. Serve apples with dip.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Week SIX: Recap!

Mmmmmm... mini breakfast pies! That's what we made in Taste Buddies class today along with delicious rosemary potatoes and s'mores. Quite the feast! Class began with gardening, as we "planted" baby carrots in hummus "dirt cups." We poked holes in the top of our baby carrots with forks and inserted some rosemary for the carrot leaf. They were the best smelling carrots I have ever tasted! We then moved on to our other items on the menu, and finished the class by sitting around the table and talking about our favorite parts of the class.

I absolutely love these. They look almost like mini breakfast quiches. We also learned how to crack an egg today, which was an exciting adventure!
We used a frozen puff pastry from Whole Foods and pre-baked the shell before cracking the eggs and putting them in our pastry shells. These taste yummy with some fresh OJ and breakfast potatoes. What a breakfast treat!

Rosemary potatoes taste good with any meal, and they are surprisingly easy to make. The Taste Buddies students made their potatoes in no time at all, and we all decided that we love the smell of rosemary!

Soy butter, Ghiradelli chocolate squares, and graham crackers. No need to say much more! :)

Week SIX: Little Egg & Bacon Breakfast Pies, Rosemary Potatoes and Soynut Butter S'mores

  • 1 teaspoon butter for greasing 
  • 2 sheets store-bought puff pastry
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 bacon “eyes” (the round part of bacon slice) cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 pinches of black pepper
  • 3 chives
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  2. Grease 6 ramekins. 
  3. Use a small bowl to cut out 6 pastry circles that fit the ramekins. 
  4. Place pastry into each ramekin, bake for 15 minutes. (The pastry shells can be made ahead of time.)
  5. Put onion in a food processor and blitz it to a paste. 
  6. Scrape paste into mixing bowl with bacon. 
  7. Combine eggs, milk, salt, and pepper into a mixing bowl and beat together well. 
  8. Add to bacon and onion mixture. 
  9. Use scissors to snip chives in and stir well. 
  10. Divide the mixture evenly between 6 pastry ramekins and bake for 20 minutes.

  • 1 1/2 pounds small new red potatoes (about 15), scrubbed and dried
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  2. Pare a narrow strip of peel from the middle of each potato. 
  3. In a large bowl mix the oil, garlic, and rosemary; add the potatoes and toss well.
  4. Transfer the potatoes to a shallow baking pan and roast until potatoes are tender when tested with the tip of a knife.
  5. Serve hot.

from RecipeGirl.com  
  • 1 box puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed
  • 3 whole graham crackers, gently broken into fourths
  • 9 small milk chocolate bars
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter or soynut butter
  • small bowl of water
  • 1 egg whisked with 1 tablespoon water (to make egg wash)
  • 1/2 cup jarred marshmallow creme
  1. Thaw out a box of puff pastry, and cut along the fold lines to make 6 large rectangles. Cut each rectangle in half lengthwise.
  2. Layer 1/4 of a whole graham cracker, a piece of milk chocolate bar and a spoonful of peanut butter on one side of the puff pastry.
  3. Wet the edges with water (dip your finger in water and gently touch along the edge), fold over the filling ingredients and press edges together. Use a fork to seal the edges. Repeat with remaining pieces.
  4. Transfer filled turnovers to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and brush with egg wash.
  5. Use a sharp knife to cut a couple of slits in the top of each turnover (to allow steam to escape while baking).
  6. Bake at 400°F until golden (about 15 minutes).
  7. Scoop marshmallow creme into a zip baggie and microwave it for about 8 seconds. Snip the tip of the bag, zip it and drizzle marshmallow on top of warm turnovers.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Week FIVE: Recap!

Peaches! Peaches! Peaches! Today was peach day in Taste Buddies! We made three delightful meals using this wonderful summer fruit. I enjoyed trying the peach dishes so much in class yesterday that I went home and made the same ones for dinner last night! 

We began class by chopping peaches for a peach-glazed chicken dish. We were chefs and artists today because we painted our chickens with peach glaze and a pastry brush. Once our chickens were nice and coated in the glaze, we covered them with peaches! We then sent them off to the oven to be baked, and they tasted wonderful. You can bake or grill this dish at home -- both ways taste great!


After glazing our chicken, we moved on to making a peach salad. This is a wonderful salad that you can use with any summer fruit. We added some blackberries and strawberries into ours, but any of your favorite fruits will taste great. What a sweet and seasonal way to enjoy a salad!

Who knew making salsa could be so easy?! This is a great appetizer to throw together for your friends and family. Plus, after doing the prep work your little one can help out by doing all of the mixing themselves. Next time you have a fiesta with loved ones, add some peach salsa!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Week FIVE: BBQ Peach chicken, Arugula and Peach salad, and Peach-Cucumber Salsa

Miss Meghean shows us how to prepare Peach-Glazed Chicken (recipe below) in her first Taste Buddies Cookbook video! Yummmy!

from Free-Gourmet-Recipes.com
  • 1 cup peach preserves
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce, plus 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 split chicken breasts (or substitute for cooked chicken)
  • 4 ripe peaches, pitted and halved
  1. Heat the grill to medium hot. 
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the preserves, garlic, olive oil, soy sauce, dry mustard, cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and mix well to combine.
  3. Sprinkle the chicken breasts with additional salt and pepper, and place, skin-side down, on the grill. Cook the chicken about 10 minutes on each side before brushing the upturned side with glaze.
  4. Continue cooking the chicken for another 10 to 12 minutes, turning it every 3 to 5 minutes and brushing each upturned side with glaze every time, until the chicken is cooked through. Move the chicken to the oven or a cooler part of grill if it gets too dark before it is cooked through.
  5. Place the peach halves on the grill, cut-side down, and grill 2 minutes. Turn, and brush the tops with glaze. Grill 3 to 4 minutes more, until the peaches are soft and the cavities fill with juices.
  6. Transfer the cooked chicken and peaches to a serving platter.

from McCormickGourmet.com
  • 3 cups sliced ripe peaches and/or plums (4 to 5)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar or Champagne vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dill weed
  • 6 cups baby arugula leaves
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seed, toasted
  1. Toss peaches, oil, vinegar, cilantro, basil, sugar and dill weed in medium bowl. Let stand 15 minutes.
  2. Just before serving, toss arugula, peach mixture and green onion in large bowl. (Or divide among individual plates.) Sprinkle with blue cheese and sesame seed.
  3. To toast sesame seed: Heat small skillet on medium heat. Add sesame seed; cook and stir 2 minutes or until golden brown and fragrant. Immediately pour out of hot pan to avoid over-toasting.

from SeasonalChef.com
  • 2 cups diced peaches (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 cup diced unpeeled English hothouse cucumber
  • 3/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons apricot preserves
  • 1 teaspoon chopped canned chipotle chiles
  1. Cut the peaches into half-inch cubes, peppers in a somewhat-smaller dice, chop cilantro and mince chipotles.
  2. Blend lime juice and apricot preserves.
  3. Stir together all ingredients.
NOTE: If you care to peel your peaches (a step that is not at all necessary), plunging them into boiling water for 15 or 20 seconds will make it easier to slip the skins off.
You should let the salsa sit for at least five minutes before tasting to see if you need to adjust the seasoning, for example by adding more lime juice, cilantro or salt. You should prepare the salsa at least an hour, or as much as day or two, before serving, to allow the flavors to fully meld.

Week FOUR: Recap!

Taste Buddies class was a snap today! We started off the class with sugar snap peas, listening to the sound they made as we snapped them in half. We used them for our snap pea salad. We also made calzones, which is one of my favorites. They were so good, I made them for dinner again tonight!


This is a great summer salad! We really enjoyed the sound they made when you snap them in half today in class. They also make a great snack all by themselves.

We used croissant rolls that you can find in your grocery aisle by the refrigerated biscuits. We used skim mozzerella cheese and pizza sauce to fill our croissant rolls. We chose skim mozarella cheese because it melts better. When making these at home, try adding other ingredients your family loves to make them more personalized. My favorite additions are cooked chicken, barbeque sauce and cheddar cheese... yum!

The Codfish Ball by John Lithgow

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Simple Steps to an Eco-Friendly Family

It's hard to ignore the value of being "green" today. There are health benefits for you, your family, and for the environment. Turn your good intentions into action with these simple ways to integrate "green" into your everyday!

SHOP: We like the MightyNest and EcoMom online stores because they've done the research for you! Know that the items you are buying for your family are good for them, and for the environment.

HOME: The article "5 Easy Steps to Create a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home" from babycenter.com is quick, but comprehensive, and covers clean air, plastics and more.

RECYCLE: From DisneyFamily.com, read "Go Green! Your At-Home Recycling Plan" for some introductory ways that you can reduce, reuse, recycle!

EAT: Strategize your organic grocery shopping with this list of the "dirty dozen" from the Environmental Working Group. Next time, you'll know to splurge on the organic apples, and save on non-organic onions.