Wontons with a Twist

Last week I had picked up some wonton wrappers from the store. My daughter got a cookbook for Christmas, and in it was a recipe for “Wonton chips”. They were alright, nothing real special though, but it got me wanting to play around with the remaining wonton wrappers.

I’m a huge lover of Chinese food, and have a serious obsession for Crab Rangoons. However, I absolutely suck at recreating favorite Chinese dishes (I’m still having nightmares about the sesame chicken that caught fire several years ago). So I decided to try something different.

First I fried up some bacon, because I had several packages in the freezer. Sounded like a good main dish for last night, too. I took a package of cream cheese and added 4-5 slices of bacon  crumbled up (they were kinda small slices, I would say 3 normal slices would do you). Added a bit of onion powder and dried minced garlic, and there I had a filling.

As mentioned before, I don’t usually do Chinese food and have NO idea how to fold a crab rangoon. I winged it. Much to my surprise it worked out alright. I just folded in the corners and then folded it up, and it stuck just fine  (think diagonal – corner to corner, then corner to corner).

I realize these are suppose to be deep fried, but I really didn’t feel like pulling out the fryer. Instead I pan fried them in canola oil, and that too worked out alright. They were a little on the greasy side, so next time I’ll probably do a bit more draining and use tongs instead of a spatula.

These were absolutely DELICIOUS, and has me wanting to make different kinds now. With wonton wrapers and cream cheese, the possibilities here seem endless!

3 Fun Places to Find Handmade Goodies

No matter if your a crafter or just like buying handmade goodies, here are a few sites to check out.

Etsy
Probably the largest site to find homemade products. Just about anything you could think of (and some you may NOT think of) is here. Not everything is “cute” either – I’ve stumbled on things such as bone necklaces and some pretty wild art. Makes the shopping options all the better, in my opinion.
(Be sure to see my daughter Etsy store while your there!)

Cafe Handmade
They have a fun “virtual craft show” theme going on here, where you “rent a booth” for a little bit of nothing. There’s more individual promotion going on here, with twitter posts directly to your store and encouragement each week to vote on your favorites. Prairie Soy Candles has just been listed here, and there’s some other nice looking stores. Smaller yes, but much more personal for shoppers and crafters both.
(See our listing here!)

Handmade Craft Show
Very similar to the previous site, but includes a “Gift Guide”. We haven’t purchased a booth on this site yet, but probably will in the near future. If your needing some gift ideas for whatever holiday is coming up, it’s worth checking out.

Feel free to comment on your favorites as well!

Is a Wii Worth It?

While I really complained about the cost of a new Nintendo Wii since they first came out, I can’t say the $267.49 (tax included, purchased new at my local GameStop) I paid was really of that bad of a deal. Not only are they still selling for insane prices online, but when you figure in how much they are really WORTH, it makes all the difference.

Think of it this way….

– The price of home gym could be anywhere from $300 clear up into the thousands. Plus once you get the home gym, what is there to add to it, and how fun is it?

– A fitness club, at minimum, is going to cost you over $400 a year. Again the fun factor may be missing in some programs.

– YMCA membership in our area costs over $500 per year for a family. Our local Y is pretty sad looking, too, and no where near worth that cost. Plus most the ‘classes’ cost extra.

– Within three days of playing Wii Sports, we played about $200 worth of bowling games, which wouldn’t even include “extra” stuff at a bowling alley or the cost of gas to drive there.

So is the Wii worth the cost? Without a doubt! And with the price finally coming down at a lot of places, now would be a PERFECT time to latch on to one. Check locally or even at Wii on Amazon for some good prices and games to buy. Even after a year, we still play our Wii on a regular basis. 😉

Why I’ll Buy Less Processed Food

The other day I decided to make our “mountain pizza” for supper. I’ve gotten a tad lazy and been using premade pizza crusts quite often. It’s been forever since I’ve actually made pizza dough in the bread machine, but this little incident made me think twice about starting it up again.

I opened the package only to find the crust MOLDY. Yes little green fur growing all over this pizza crust that had just been opened. No there was no holes in the packaging, and I did check the expiration date. April 2010, and last I checked it was only January. So there was absolutely NO reason this crust should have been bad.

It got me thinking about all the recalls we’ve had lately,  and I cringed. This was an isolated incident I’m sure, so how many other times have we eaten foods that have been poorly packaged? How much illness can be pinned on bad foods even if we aren’t aware of it? What silent damage have we done to our bodies eatting them as well?

Luckily I had another pizza crust package (a different brand even, THANK GOD) since there was no time to make the dough myself, but it will be the last time I use one at all most likely. It will be back to the bread machine for us for probably everything bread related, since I just don’t trust what’s being put into packages anymore.

Newest Kitchen Toys

For those of you sick to death of hearing about my bread machine, fear not! The end is in sight! I have new Kitchen toys thanks to Christmas presents from dad.

The first one is probably something half of you seasoned kitchen veterans (no pun intended) already have. A nifty little George Foreman Grill. Yup. Finally. Talk about being put to good use though – we’ve already used this thing at least a dozen times in the past few weeks. Grilled cheese, chicken, steak, hamburgers…basically anything we COULD put on there we have. And the budding chef of the house and me came up with an EXCELLENT chicken recipe (we’ll be posting some awesome recipes for this new toy later, I promise!).

The other new toy we got was also something I’ve wanted for a long time (actually since I saw it a friend’s house and stated “I’m jealous.”). It’s an electric griddle. So cute, so fun, so easy to make stuff without dragging out pans to wash. LOVE IT. It’s also been used several times since Christmas, for things like quesadillas, bacon, eggs, and pancakes. Now let me clue you, I did try to use the grill for bacon once and while it was probably the easiest bacon I’ve ever made, it wasn’t as good. On the griddle though, oh wow. Fantastic AND easy clean up. (Ours has a little tray where all the grease drips into, which made for a SUPER easy clean up).

Both these toys have put me in a cooking mood again, and my kids are loving it. We had way too many “fend for yourself” nights there for awhile. Both of these nifty things are highly recommended if you spend a lot of time cooking for your family. 😉

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Kids

And by “for kids”, we mean “to give to kids”. Sure you could get by with just a small box of chocolate (I do not foresee this being a problem with the boy), but where’s the fun in that? I know it’s more of a “couple’s holiday”, but for us single people we got to share the love somewhere.

Gifts for kids don’t have to be expensive. As mentioned you could go with a small box of candy or some other small item. My daughter’s handmade soap is an excellent option, especially since she’s been going nuts with her heart mold. (See her Etsy shop here for gift ideas)

What have you given your kids in the past? What do you have planned for this year? Let’s share some ideas!

Wii Cheer 2 is out!

Alright so I’m a geek. What started as a game for the girl has become one of mom’s favorites. I was absolutely in love with the first We Cheer, and now I’m even more addicted to the second one.

Now granted the girl DID play the first one, but she’s not exactly the most coordinated kid out there. Some of those moves were just too difficult for her, so we ended up playing all the levels together so she could pass them. Maybe that was a bit of cheating, but she was trying her hardest and getting exercising done (the most important part right?).

The second one, however, is even better. There are now three levels for each song instead of two, and it’s really only the last level that’s extremely hard. Kids can now unlock things a bit faster, and enjoy more than just a handful of songs.

Now while admitting this might make me an even bigger geek, the biggest draw to me on the second one is how much I like some of the songs featured. Glamorous by Fergie, Girlfriend by Avril, and one of my favorite songs as of late, Just Dance featuring Lady GaGa. Yes, radio edit version on all of them, just barely. Since my kids are 7 and 9, I don’t mind them hearing these songs, but others might disagree (just a heads up there, really).

We’ll be sure to get the full review of this game up on our Family Games for Wii page soon, but until then, I highly suggest checking it out if you have the first one already mastered. 😉

Get Real Food Network!

I have become addicted to Food Networks “Worst Cooks in America“. I adore this show, and find it entertaining watching these people who can’t barely boil water attempting to make over the top “fancy” foods. However, I have to question WHY they are being “trained” to cook in such a fashion. Sure it’s entertaining and all, but do any of us “real” moms actually cook the things they’re featuring?  What “real” skills are these poor people actually taking home?

Granted I am no chef, but I like to think I know my way around a kitchen. We make pizza, tacos, roast, and other “family” meals. On this show I’m seeing about half of them are moms or parents-in-training, and I can tell you right now the things they’re learning to cook no kid would come close to even tasting. Duck? Swordfish? Scallops? Heck no. Okay maybe the duck, it’s meat after all. Seafood, on the other hand, is something we have a tough time with around here.

Sure it’s entertainment, and I have enjoyed watching it. I just feel extremely bad for these people who are getting trained to cook “all fancy like” when they could use some cooking skills that are a bit…..well, real.  I doubt any of these people had plans to become a famous chef. They just wanted meals their families would like, and I don’t think their getting it.

Once I see an episode that uses ground beef in some form, I’ll give it some more credit. Until then, I’m not impressed with the food they’ve been cooking. Anyone else agree?

Heat Wave! Well, Sorta…

I never thought 15 degrees would feel this warm, but after spending this much time with below zero temperatures, it really does. And how excited am I to see the temperatures climbing to above 30 this week! Time to get out and about, that’s for sure.

I feel thankful we escaped the cold snap with just a frozen pipe or two. There was at least 2 or 3 days last week we couldn’t take showers, run the dish washer, or wash clothes, but we survived. Thankfully the main pipe didn’t freeze, so we could still use the bathroom and had hot water for minor stuff.

Of course we’re not in the clear yet. It’s still only January and still Iowa. Snow, ice, and cold still lurks around the corner. As does a house that may NEVER be clean, and more “I’m bored” cries. Since we got a boat-load of toys and entertaining electronics for Christmas,  those cries are far and few between. More often than not, I hear “let’s do something together” from the girl. Since we still can’t get outside and play, we’re resorting to finding stuff around here to do.

In my last post I mentioned we were planning on playing with some soaps. On Saturday our package arrived and we did just that, but decided to take it a bit further.  Since she enjoyed making the soap so much and being the mini entrepreneur she is, I’ve decided to let her have a business of her very own.

We started with a few simple molds and scents, and the results were fantastic. She picked out a template and we built her site to her liking. I think it turned out alright (see Soap by Jillian). While this seems a bit easy to set up for us, keep in mind we’ve had some experience in starting up businesses.  Although I have no doubts it IS possible for you to start up a business with your child’s hobbies with nothing more than an account on Etsy.

So while the weather may be teasing us a bit with promises of warmer temps and less snow, I know better. At least, though, we have something to do when the next round of winter muck is dumped on us!

Bath & Body Projects for Kids

My daughter loves crafts of any kind. Hand her a piece of paper and she does some pretty amazing things with it. Also a tad of a mini-scientist, she loves “making experiments” that usually end up with her in trouble. So for Christmas I got her the Scientific Explorer’s Spa Science Chemistry Kit off of Amazon. It was an absolute hit, but lacked in some supplies.

When Elements Bath & Body landed in our inbox as a new advertiser on Idea Queen, it got me thinking…and surfing. Little kits that make just a handful of various items are fun and all, but they’re also just a tease for kids that really want to dive into doing stuff like this as a real hobby. Maybe not a business, but a hobby at the very least.

I guess I hadn’t really looked to close into places that sell supplies, simply because they quantities they sell in are just too much for no more than we’d want to do. However, Elements sells in small enough qualities so we can make soaps and other items just as a hobby. I was also pretty impressed with their variety of melt and pour soaps, as well as long list of various soap molds. There’s some pretty cute stuff there, especially for a 7yr old girl making her own.

While I’m sure you could invest a little more money into real supplies vs a kit, in the long run if your interested in making your own soaps and bath products even on a semi-regular basis, checking into sites that sell wholesale is a great idea. Plus these types of items make WONDERFUL birthday and Christmas gifts for family and friends!

Have fun!