Its back to school or perhaps off to school for the first time. Don’t send your little one with anything but the best for lunch. This fabulous lunchbox from Made by Oots! has got all the bases covered. Its durable, its cool (comes in three fun colors!), its dishwasher safe, its eco-friendly (no BPA!) and it won’t smush those sandwiches you lovingly pack. Come check it out at Chi Chi Bean and send your little one off right. Heck, you might just want one for yourself. Perhaps its time to upgrade from the brown bag!
Archive for the ‘stuff for us mom’s’ Category
Each year about this time I get a little misty as my daughter’s birthday approaches. In about a month she will turn 5 and just like last year, I marvel, thinking “how did this happen?”. Proud of her independent spirit and amazed at how quickly she has grown. Independence is something to be cherished but sometimes as mothers it can take us back a bit. Then this afternoon I read this article, “No Less a Person” which appeared today in the New York Times. Giving me new respect for the independence our kids fight for and for this young man, is fighting for all over again. Specialist Brendan Marrocco, YOU, are an inspiration!
As most of you know, I, Chiara founder of Chi Chi Bean, primarily sustain myself from chocolate. Its keeps me going at all times, it is my essential fuel. Its been a lifelong affair for me. I remember as a kid reading the book “Chocolate Fever” and being genuinely scared that like the hero of the book I could end up with chocolate freckles all over my body due to my consumption of all things chocolate. Well, I am happy to report that at the ripe age of 33 it has not, yet, happened. My darling daughter has the “gene” too and I swear “chockit” was her 2nd word!
But alas, there has come a time for me to test my love and will power. This year for the time of Lent I will be forgoing all things chocolate. Yikes. In preparation for such a feat I have of course been craving the luscious concoction even more than usual. Last week while visitng one of my favorite blogs, Smitten Kitchen, she posted about the best cocoa brownies! Ugh, D E V I N E! So I thought it appropriate to pay homage by sharing this lovely recipe in honor of love, it is afterall almost St. Valentines Day! I encourage you all to bake these and savor them…..ahhh chocolate. Enjoy.
Here is the recipe but do check out Smitten Kitchen for more photos and her funny post as well…
Best Cocoa Brownies
Adapted from Alice Mendrich’s Bittersweet
Makes 16 larger or 25 smaller brownies (the size you see pictured yielded 25)
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks, 5 ounces or 141 grams) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (9 7/8 ounces, 280 grams) sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 7/8 ounces, 82 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt (or a heaping 1/4 teaspoon flaky salt, as I used)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup (66 grams, 2 3/8 ounces) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces (optional)
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot. It looks fairly gritty at this point, but don’t fret — it smooths out once the eggs and flour are added. [Note, many people who have tried this recipe have found that this step works just fine in the microwave. Couldn't test this because we don't have one, but it sounds like it would work.]
Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in the nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.
Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes is Medrich’s suggestion but it took me at least 10 minutes longer to get them set. Let cool completely on a rack. (I go further and throw mine in the fridge or freezer for a while; it’s the only way I can get them to cut with clean lines.)
Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.
Lately, I have been craving peach pie. Its one of my most favorite things in the summer. Who can resist the smell of fresh peaches baked in warm pie. Yum, I am drooling now. On a recent google I happened on this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, an adorable blog about a simple cook in a tiny NYC apartment kitchen. The fabulous Deb posted about this recipe from Martha Stewart and can you blame her? Look at the ingredient list, peaches, creme fraiche, sugar and salt. Simple and mouth watering. I love a recipe that is simple and easy but yields a gourmet creation. This pie does just that. So head on over to the farmers market this weekend, grab some peaches and bake, Mama, bake! And of course baking is a great thing to do with your little ones. Have junior roll out the dough with you, sprinkle flour etc. Make a mess, its fun.
Here is the recipe, compliments of Smitten Kitchen:
Peach and Crème Fraîche Pie
Adapted really loosely from Martha Stewart Living
1/2 recipe All-Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough, chilled for at least an hour in the fridge
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
3 to 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour (I needed the latter amount to get this into a crumble)
1/4 cup cold (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 pounds ripe (4 to 5 medium) yellow peaches, pitted and quartered
2 to 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
5 tablespoons crème fraîche*
Prepare pie dough: Roll out pie dough (look!: a tutorial) to about 1/8-inch thick and fit into a regular (not deep dish) pie plate, 9 1/2 to 10 inches in diameter. Trim edge to 1/2 inch; fold under and crimp as desired. Pierce bottom of dough all over with a fork. Transfer to freezer for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400°F right before you take it out.
Make streusel: Stir confectioners’ sugar, baking powder, salt and three tablespoons flour together in a small bowl. Add bits of cold butter, and either using a fork, pastry blender or your fingertips, work them into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add additional flour as needed; I needed to almost double it to get the mixture crumbly, but my kitchen is excessively warm and the butter wanted to melt. Set aside.
Par-bake crust: Tightly press a piece of aluminum foil against frozen pie crust. From here, you ought to fill the shell with pie weights or dried beans, or you can wing it like certainly lazy people we know, hoping the foil will be enough to keep the crust shape in place. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove carefully remove foil and any weights you have used, press any bubbled-up spots in with the back of a spoon, and return the crust to the oven for another 5 to 8 minutes, or until it is lightly golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F.
[P.S. If you're not overly-concerned about "soggy bottoms" (in the words of Julia Child) you can save time by skipping the par-baking step. Given the light nature of the filling, odds are good that it would not become excessively damp even without the parbake.]
Make the filling: Sprinkle quartered peaches with sugar (two tablespoons will make a just-barely-sweeteened pie; add the other two for a still not overly-sweet but sweeter pie) and salt. Let sit for 10 minutes. Spread two tablespoons crème fraîche in bottom of par-baked pie shell, sprinkle with one-third of the streusel and fan the peach quarters decoratively on top. Dot the remaining three tablespoons of crème fraîche on the peaches and sprinkle with remaining streusel.
Bake the pie: Until the crème fraîche is bubble and the streusel is golden brown, about 50 minutes. Cover edge of crust with a strip of foil if it browns too quickly. Let cool on a wire rack at least 15 minutes before serving.
I stored this in the fridge, due to the crème fraîche, and found that I liked it even better cold, with the flavors better married.
* Make your own crème fraîche: It’s true! You can make a version of it at home, using these instructions.
Potty talk? Well, sort of. The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur recently held a discussion about tips for success from Mom Entrepreneurs. Here you can read all of the tips, especially number 4, from yours truly. Yes, this a bit of a bragging post. However, I do think that while this article is aimed at entrepreneurs most of the tips will be helpful to all working mothers. Enjoy the tp talk!
We have other fun news to report at the shop too. Fall arrivals are coming in! Wahoo. This week we landed these adorable booties from Livie & Luca called the “woodland bootie”. I gave a pair to darling Ava and she flipped. She loved the mushrooms and wondered if elves were going to want to play with her now. Don’t you just love their imaginations! Also, in stock are the London Boots by Livie & Luca. We have been nearly sold out of these for some time. They are so great that when Livie & Luca announced a price increase (up by $7), I still brought them in because they really the greatest little fall shoes. (We do have a few left at old price so see if we have your size here!) I would be surprised to hear if your little one doesn’t wear them all fall and winter. They are versatile, comfy and best of all your little one can put them on by themselves!
Next up is Pink Chicken! The fall collection from Pink Chicken New York is due to arrive next week. Check out the entire collection here, place your order now to avoid missing out! Feel free to email me with any questions!
Ever try to snap a good photo of junior and you well know that even in this digital age it will take you about 30 snaps before you get, maybe, one. Sure its their energy, attention span and well, personalities, that make this a task but its also these qualities that parents love and want to put in a capsule to treasure. And when we do get this one shot that embodies their bright spirit they are worth their weight in gold!
I was recently fortunate enough to gain more than one of these special captured moments. My dear friend Emilee, knew just how to capitalize on Ava’s little spunk and get those moments on camera. This is why her photographs are so amazing. Sure I love the photos that she took of my Ava but when reviewing her portfolio of life’s big moments – pregnant mothers, couples before they say I do and children growing up, I was taken by her unique ability to bring out the individuality of her subjects. Emilee’s depth of talent is demonstrated so pervasively by drawing you in to each photograph and subtly but succintly giving you an intimate knowledge of the subjects.
After years of study Emilee has launched her passion full time. Please take a moment to visit her new website, www.emileebeth.com. You will be captured!
Its a been a good start to July! Finally some sun and we escaped for a few days to York Beach, ME. What fun we had! Now, its back to work. About two weeks ago my darling wonder started day camp. She is for sure enjoying and I am so glad I sent her. In preparation for her fun filled days I had to send her with a supply of bathing suits and clothing. Everything had to be labeled. I know many people use the ol’ black marker but I honestly hate it. Trying to find a hidden spot and not wanting it to bleed through — who needs any more stress? Thankfully I found this source called Label Daddy. Fantastic — washable peel and stick labels! Alright so why now am I sharing my find well, they just emailed me (yes I signed up for their list!) and they have this other labels for kids with allergies! Ahh, what a stress relief for those parents of allergic kids! Thinking about back to school and lunchtime can put many parents on edge. I love this — you have the kids name and what they are allergic to printed on these labels and stick them on their lunchbox, cup, containers etc. “
Scavenging around for some new kid sized, yet, cool and eco-friendly, furniture for my little one and I found these from Hay in Denmark. I got lost on their website for a good 45 mins checking out all kinds of things. So much great stuff here. But I really love these chairs, called “little nobody” and of course I couldn’t find any information in English about shipping international orders. Ugh, does anyone speak Danish??
Kermit the frog often said “Its not easy being green”, oh Kermie, how wrong you were. I am so happy to report on my new favorite find, Ideal Bite. Now, that being “green” is so in vogue, thankfully, there are more than a few ways to be green. But let’s say you are not the tree hugging type, fine, I am with you. Your conscience tells you to reduce, reuse, recycle however, your sassy little self needs the abundance of ways to be green simplified and well, more chic. Seems the dilemma of what to do with those juice box containers, how to pick the right eco-friendly sunblock and are organic strawberries really worth the extra cash, are questions many mama’s are pondering. Alas, its Mama Bite to the rescue. Mama Bite is a lovely paired down version of Ideal Bite. “Ideal Bite offers bite-size ideas for light green living, delivered in a short, sassy, free email each weekday. Tips cover everything from biodynamic wine to organic cosmetics to seasonal recipes from local chefs.”
Here’s why Mama Bite is even better than Ideal Bite, its paired down and caters to what us mom’s are dealing with everyday. This morning I was delighted to get this extra little bit in my bite, they are having a contest to win a Disney trip. Who would have thought you could do Disney in an green way. I have posted the link below for you to sign up and enter to win. Love it.
Behavior modification, it could have been a course in college if you were a psych major but let’s apply it to what we really know. Its really just a fancy term for bribing our children into doing what we want. Sometimes its a lollipop after a vaccination to halt the screeching. Sometimes its bargaining to get them to eat their veggies. It works for a while and then, well, we have to up the ante. Most recently I have been outsmarted by my tenacious three year old and had to devise a new system. Enter the Lakeshore Learning Store. Its a chain, gasp, but this mecca to teachers and parents alike helped me find a fabulous chart with reusable stickers! Aptly named the “good for me” reward chart this little beauty was part one of my plan to tame this tazamanian devil aka my daughter. Lucky for me darling Ava was more than thrilled to help write her own rules! (I had to pinch myself, this was going to work!) After writing our rules and drawing in some little graphics as the poor darling can’t read yet, I explained how she could earn things she wanted. Such as, this charming little pot of strawberry lip gloss that came in a cupcake shaped container that grandma had slipped my way or the prima ballerina kit by the Little Experience from Chi Chi Bean that Ava was dying for. We started small with teaching her to earn 5, then 7 and finally 11 stars for the most prized gift so far, the enchanted castle kit from the Little Experience. Sure it helps when mom has a store but honestly it was more about finding things she was excited about earning, so do whatever your kid is thrilled with. A pack of gum, new pencils, a water slide, etc.
It took her about a week until she could earn all 11 stars in one day to receive the castle but Ava was motivated and some gentle reminders helped her stay on track. Its awfully sweet to see the sense of pride she has taken in earning these rewards. Most importantly, the power struggle to tame her behavior has definitely eased.
And as an added bonus the enchanted castle kit from the Little Experience captured Ava’s attention for hours. Here are a few shots of her working on her castle kit. It was fun to reward her and have a calm child to do this project with. It’s these little wins we parents live for. Thanks Ava.