Party Favor Ideas that aren’t a bag of plastic crap!

Now that we are in December I have just finished celebrating 2 of my 3 sons birthdays.  It made me think of party favors.  In general – I would love to just not have party favors at all!  It is a super strange thing.  You invite your child’s friends to come and celebrate.  You spend a bunch of money providing entertainment, renting a space, and buying food.  You then need to spend more money on a parting gift?  Very strange!  I tried to do away with the party favors – but the kids have been conditioned to expect it.  So this has been my baby step plan – I don’t give bags full of plastic crap or candy as a party favor.

No parent is psyched to have their sugar filled sweaty or sleep deprived kid return from a birthday party with a plastic bag filled with more plastic junk or even worst candy.  I was going to write no judgement if this is what you do – but actually I do judge.  Nobody wants this in their house!!!

So what do I do – I don’t want to send more junk or candy but I am not brave enough to cut the cord and get rid of party favors totally.  I try to find something that I think the kids will actually use for a while.  I pick one thing that might go with the theme of the party or with something my the birthday boy is really into at the time.

Here are some past ideas….

  1.  Mad libs – my #1 son was really into mad libs for a while as he was learning to read and write.  I found a school themed one in a big print style that I thought the kids would get at least some use out of.
  2. Emoji Uno – my #3 son loves all things emoji’s but also loves card games.  Best of both worlds!  We are a big game family so we wanted to share the love.
  3. A book – my #2 son is really into reading right now and for his birthday party we showed the movie Holes which he just finished reading with my husband.  We gave each kid the book.  
  4. Rubiks cube – my #2 son last year was obsessed with his rubics cube.  Lucikly I found this awesome website that helps you solve it.  
  5. Dress-Up Item – all of my boys love dress up!  My #2 son had a superhero birthday party where we put all of his friends through super hero training and they each received their own cape before watching The Incredibles movie.  
  6. Nothing at all – one day I will do this….  one day…

My “Mom Village”

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mom’s and Grandma’s out there.  Any skill I have at being a mother comes directly from the amazing example that has been set for me by my Mom, Grandma and Mother-In-Law.  I also rely heavily on my “Mom Village,” the group of women who I have met over my 12 years (gasp!) of being a Mom.

I met these first group of women when #1 was only 6 weeks old.  To say I was struggling was an understatement.  At 28 years old – my husband and I were the first in our group of friends and family to have a kid.  My mom stayed with me the first week when my son was born.  Then my mother-in-law helped out.  My husband stayed home for a bit – but he had to go back to work.  I remember so clearly the first day Jerald went back to work.  I was paralyzed with fear, loneliness and a bit of postpartum depression.  I held my little baby and cried.  I didn’t know how to fill the day – meeting both of our needs.

At 6 weeks old #1 was old enough to start a new Mom’s class.  There I met the first members of my “Mom Village.”  We all had 6 week old babies who were our first babies – and none of us knew what to do!  We relied on each other and the amazing instructor for support, encouragement, tips and lots of laughs.  After each class we would hang around and go out for lunch.  I was finally brave enough to stay out of the house with my baby for longer than 2 hours.  If he needed a new diaper and changed him and if he was hungry I breastfeed at the table.  These women gave me permission to be out in the world taking care of my baby and still living my life!  We also started meeting regularly on thursdays at each other’s houses for more support and playtime.  Through each new parenting or kid phase we had each other.  Some of these women are still in my life – we all texted each other to wish each other another Happy Mother’s Day.  The picture is from our “graduation” at 12 weeks from our first class.  We took many more wonderful classes together through the years.

As my baby got older and I added two more boys to my family – I still added to my “Mom Village.”  I gathered these Mom’s from pre-school classes, from the gym, from our Temple, and from their elementary school.  I am also lucky to be able to add to my “Mom Village” friends from growing up, college, and law school who have had children and have stayed a strong presence in my life.  My “Mom Village” is also made up of my three amazing sister-in-laws, my mother and my mother-in-law.  All of these amazing women enrich my life and make me feel that I can tackle each new parenting step.

I wish all of them a very Happy Mother’s Day – I couldn’t do it without you all and I wouldn’t want to!!!

Banana “Faux”Meal

I eat a cheese omelet 80% of the time for breakfast.  When I am desperate for a change this fauxmeal makes me happy.  It is very reminiscent of how I like to eat oatmeal, raisins and cinnamon.  It comes together very quickly and is a really nice change for me.

 

Banana “Faux”Meal

Ingredients

  • 1 banana
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 tsp oil

Instructions

  1. Peel and mash banana in a bowl.
  2. Combine with eggs and beat eggs and banana until combined.
  3. Add cinnamon and raisins and stir until combined.
  4. Heat a skillet on a medium heat with oil.
  5. Once hot, add mixture of all ingredients.
  6. Stir constantly until mixture is not runny but still soft.
  7. Can top with nuts, honey, or coconut.
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http://picklejinxblog.com/2017/04/09/banana-fauxmeal/

Mom’s Frozen Matzah Balls (aka “Matzah Bricks”)

These are my absolute favorite matzah balls!  Because I am following a grain-free diet to treat a GI issue I am using these amazing almond flour recipe for my own personal matzah balls.  But I will always make these for my boys.  It is their favorite thing I make!  there are so many things I love about this recipe.  It has a few ingredients that I usually have on hand, they come out light and fluffy and the best part is that you freeze them and put them right into the soup – so if you have 20 minutes, you can have fresh maztah balls!  There is no need to every use the mix again….

Mom’s Frozen Matzah Balls (aka “Matzah Bricks”)

Ingredients

  • 4 beaten eggs
  • ½ c water
  • ⅓ c oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 c matzah meal

Instructions

  1. Combine beaten eggs, water, oil and salt.
  2. Mix well.
  3. Add matzah meal and let stand for 5 minutes.
  4. Add ⅓ c more matzah if too wet.
  5. Keep a bowl of water nearby to re-wet hands while forming balls.
  6. With wet hands shape balls of any desired size and place on cookie sheet. Do not allow matzah balls to touch on cookie sheet.
  7. Place cookie sheet in freezer overnight.
  8. After frozen, remove from cookie sheet and store in ziplock bag until needed.
  9. Place frozen matzah balls directly into soup and cook for 25 minutes.
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http://picklejinxblog.com/2017/04/07/moms-frozen-matzah-balls-aka-matzah-bricks/

 

Mom’s Tzimmes

I always thought of this recipe as a traditional tzimmes.  Since marrying my husband and getting more into food and recipes it seems it has all the traditional ingredients, but what makes it special is the grating of ingredients.  That is my favorite part!  Instead of chunky separate pieces – it is all blended together into yumminess!

Mom’s Tzimmes

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 2 apples
  • 2 cup grated carrots
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped prunes
  • 1 cup almond flour or matzah meal
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cup oil or melted coconut oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8 x 8 pans with oil.
  2. Grate potato, apples and carrots.
  3. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl with a spoon.
  4. Pour into prepared pan. .
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes
  6. Can be frozen.
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http://picklejinxblog.com/2017/04/06/moms-tzimmes/

Rachel’s Yellow Squash Kugel

My friend Rachel makes this recipe year round.  I love it, but for some reason I only make it on passover.  It comes out delicious everytime – maybe this year I will put it in our regular rotation.

Thanks Rachel!

Rachel’s Yellow Squash Kugel

Ingredients

  • 5 large yellow squash (peeled, if desired)
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • ⅛ oil
  • 1 c almond flour (or matzah meal)
  • ½ tsp pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cube and boil squash in small amount of boiling, salted water, covered for approximately 10 minutes.
  3. Drain water from squash and mash with a fork.
  4. Stir in remaining ingredients.
  5. Fold into baking dish (can be any size - I usually do 9x13 pyrex).
  6. Bake for 1 hour - or until browned.
  7. Can freeze.
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http://picklejinxblog.com/2017/04/05/rachels-yellow-squash-kugel/

Nana’s Matzah Granola

ALERT!  This is NOT a paleo or SCD recipe.  It is a staple in my husbands family so I felt that it would be good to include it.  It is crunchy and sweet and hard to stop eating.  It is great on its own or my favorite was with milk as a cereal.  Last year I made a gluten-free version for my Dad who has celiac.  I used gluten-free matzah and then kept the recipe the same… he LOVED it!

Nana’s Matzah Granola

Ingredients

  • 3 c matzah farfel (use gluten-free matzah and break into little pieces for gluten-free version)
  • ¾ c sliced almonds
  • 4 T oil
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 4 T honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Option: raisins, cranberries, dates, coconut
  • NOTE: I usually double recipe

Instructions

  1. Toss together farfel, almonds, oil, cinnamon, honey and vanilla (use hands to help mix). DO NOT ADD RAISINS HERE! (I have made this mistake many times and the raisins or other optional add-ins will burn.)
  2. Spread onto greased aluminum foil on cookie sheet.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 min until golden brown (stir after 10 min).
  4. Cool
  5. Then add optional ingredients
  6. Enjoy plain, on top of yogurt or even with milk as a cereal.
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http://picklejinxblog.com/2017/04/03/nanas-matzah-granola/

 

 

Spinach Kugel (Passover/SCD/Paleo/Gluten-Free)

On big holidays my family always makes kugels.  A kugel is simply a casserole.  It comes in all shapes, sweet and savory with anything you can think of in it.  

A kugel is great for the holiday for at least two reasons.

1.  A kugel looks a bit more fancy and seems a bit special then just a plate of roasted veggies (although no one loves roasted veggies more than me!).

2.  A kugel is so easy to make in advance and then heat up either from the fridge or freezer.

If you are hosting a big group ease is key!  I like this kugel because it has a ton of fresh veggies in it, which is great for holiday that leaves everyone feeling super bloated.

Spinach Kugel (Passover/SCD/Paleo/Gluten-Free)

Ingredients

  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 10 oz frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 stalk celery (chopped)
  • 1 red pepper (chopped)
  • 3 carrots (grated)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¼ c almond flour or matzah meal

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 x 13 pan.
  2. Cook spinach and drain in microwave.
  3. Heat olive oil in skillet on medium heat.
  4. Saute onion, celery, red pepper and carrots for 5 minutes.
  5. Combine cooked spinach, eggs, spices and almond flour - mix well.
  6. Add sauted vegetable and pour into prepared pan.
  7. Bake 350 for 45 minutes.
  8. Can be frozen.
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http://picklejinxblog.com/2017/04/02/spinach-kugel-passoverscdpaleogluten-free/

Fudgy Chocolate Cake (Passover/Paleo/Gluten-Free)

We hosted Seder the last two years and this was my favorite of the desserts.  It is easy, chocolaty and best of all – you don’t have to separate the eggs!  I’ll try to add a photo of this yumminess later – for now enjoy the recipe!

Fudgy Chocolate Cake (Passover/Paleo/Gluten-Free)

Ingredients

  • 4 oz choc chips
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ c coconut oil
  • ¼ c cocoa powder
  • ¾ c honey

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 and grease an 8: spring-form pan with coconut oil.
  2. Melt the chocolate and oil together in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until completely smooth and combined.
  3. Combine melted chocolate, cocoa powder, honey and eggs until smooth.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes until center appears firm. Cool in pan for 15 min, then remove from pan. Cool before serving.
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http://picklejinxblog.com/2017/04/01/passoverpaleogluten-free-chocolate-cake/

Passover Recipes!!!

It has been almost 2 years since I started following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet to treat my ulcerative colitis.  Following this diet, I do not eat any grains, sugar, corn, or potatoes.  It has been literally a life-saver!  instead of going on increasingly scary drugs and suffering through terrible symptoms and low energy – I eat healthy and yummy food with no symptoms.  There are many benefits – the first is obviously how I feel!  The second is that I was able to shed those pesky 10 pounds that had always alluded me.  Another benefit is that Passover is just no big deal!  I have to stop eating beans and lentils – but otherwise my diet stays the same.  As we are a little over a week away from Passover, I thought I would share 1 recipe a day that I love to eat during the year, but that you might want to incorporate at your Seder or just try during the Passover season.