30 July 2008

Sassy Sunflower Pops Cookies - Healthy & Fun 25

Baking with kids can sometimes be challenging. Creating something while keeping kids occupied or interested is no simple feat. Creating a healthier cookies is on not only on parents minds but also on the minds of many health conscience individuals. I would like to introduce you to a great website with some really fun recipes. Sure to please any kid, even that inner child of yours.

...this will
tempt anyone

with visions
of healthy
lovely treats

to decorate &

I was so excited to be picked for
blogging about the Snackivate website.
It came with perks from Kellogg's company -
namely 2 full size boxes of Kellogg's
Frosted Mini Wheats used to experiment
with the recipes on the site, and a cool
little plastic gadget that you put into
the freezer (the cup has gel within the
walls of the cup,to insulate the milk and
to keep it cool),which once frozen will
hold your milk,while the top (it screws
into the bottom) holds your favorite cereal.
This is a nice little gadget for mom's or
dad's toting kids around. Or even college ,
students or teenagers on the go, in be-
ween classes, who haven't the time to
grab a decent breakfast (I think we've
all been there).

The Snacktivate website is a place for anyone looking for health conscience lot's of downloadable recipes, ranging from all different meals of the day to sweet treats, some samples are pictured above, that would be fun to make with children. There are nutrition tips and more for parents, relatives and teachers. Below is one of the featured recipes from Snackivate website.

Recipe: Sassy Sun Pops
I have added some notes on making this Veg/Vegan friendly. You will need to experiment with different ingredients to find the best formulation for Veg/Vegan style cookies using this recipe.

Prep time: 10 min.
Bake time: 12-14 min.
Servings: 33

These cookies are baked at 350 °F for 12 - 14 min.

Materials Needed:
Candy sticks, that are oven proof (you can find at your favorite craft store, i.e Micheal's)
Cookie Sheet

Cookie Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (AP) flour
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 cup butter or margarine (soft) (supplement Earth's Balance stick for vegan cookies)
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs (if going veg/vegan there are many egg replacers out there, you may want to experiment with what works best in cookies for you - consider the extra dry ingredients by way of the cereal and try opting for something with more moisture content)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 60 frosted bite sized mini-wheats OR 60 un-frosted mini-wheats (unfrosted is the best vegan alternative due to the gelatin in the frosting) , crushed (pulse in a food processor, or put into a zip lock bag and beat w/ rolling pin)


  1. Stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  2. In large mixing bowl, add peanut butter, Gran. Sugar, Brown sugar and mix on medium-high w/ electric mixer. Beat until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs & vanilla. Beat well
  4. Beat in crushed cereal and flour mixture. Mix until just incorporated.
  5. Drop by spoonful onto a cookie sheet . While pressing down, use back of fork to make across hatch into cookie dough.
  6. Add oven proof cookie sticks by pressing stick into one side of the dough of each cookie.
  7. TO create sunflower: press flax seeds into the center of each cookie dough round. Press raw whole almonds into the outer edges of each round to form the petals of the sunflower design.
  8. Bake at 350 °F for 12- 14 min. or until golden brown, remove baked cookies with spatula from cookie sheets immediately and let cookies cool on wire wracks.
This recipe is adapted from Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies a recipe © of Kellogg's NA Co. 2008. All Rights Reserved.

Hope you can recreate the fun time I had creating these with my 5 yr old daughter. It was a blast. She loved adding the spoons of dough to the cookie sheets and making the "sunflower" designs. Enjoy!

28 July 2008

Food Poetry : The Secret Life of Chefs 18

What is food? it is life giving, nourishing both physically, mentally and sometimes spiritually.

Working with food and creating food fosters a keen connection to not only the ingredients, but the kitchen and tools used to create it - the kitchen becomes a safe haven where both chaos and creativity are awakened - the sites, the smells, the sounds become a second skin, and you develop a sixth sense about this culinary world.

Your co-workers become a living breathing single entity, each and everyone striving for the same outcome. All dancing in a timed rhythm around the kitchen , hurrying to get your prep done, to get your major courses panned in hotel pans within the steamer or in stock pans and sauce pans upon the stove, whose many squared and blackened burners are set aflame, all movements are accomplished in a delicate balance of wits and skill.

Image Credit: ljcybergal

Here is a poem that I wrote that encompasses a brief glimpse into the chef's kitchen. I hope you enjoy.










pilot light






reach ,



Poem © Amber 2008. All rights reserved.

25 July 2008

Product Review: Scrubbing Bubbles' Action Scrubber 5

Recently My Mom sent me this really cool vintage counter top metal cabinet. It has 4 deep drawers on the top for storage of dry goods, and a bread box on the bottom. I had decided to position it right below my cabinet on the largest counter , which happened to be near a sink.

I really didn't think this would be a problem, forgetting that if water over flows from the sink - it tends to collect on the counter (in the area right below my new cabinet). Needless to say water did just that - and caused my beloved cabinet to rust around the bottom edges.

When I moved the cabinet - I could see the tell tale signs of a rusted mess, a deep orange rectangular outline had stained my counter top.

Needless to say, I have tried using any kind of cleaner I could get my hands on to remove this stain - nothing seemed to work, not even my beloved S.O.S scrubbing pads. This surprised me because SOS is great at removing most everything (including that baked on blackened residue on the bottom of pans, and on electric stove burner drip pans).

When I was given the chance to review Scrubbing Bubbles Action Scrubbers, I secretly laughed at myself - I would put these pads to the test - a trial by fire, my stained counter.

Clean Machine

Scrubbing Bubbles Action

Click Here
Get your $2.75 off coupon...

I received the package from Mom Central
and SC Johnson.

The product comes with a molded heavy
foam handle
and a resealable plastic tub
with 4 scrubbing pads that are filled with

There were 4 really nice coupons for this
product and other scrubbing bubbles products,

Not only were
there directions on the outside packaging,
But a large font printed insert with a
reminder. Then on the plastic storage tub.
The directions are very easy to follow,
and detailed.

Product Assembly:
This product could not be any easier to use. The Assembly
consists of:
  1. removing the cleanser filled pad from
    a plastic sleeve
  2. applying the molded foam handle to the
    printed side of the pad and gently
    rubbing until the Velcro like strips have hooked
    into the pad.
Product Use & Performance:
Once the Action Pad has been assembled these steps are taken to use the product:

  • Adding a small amount of water to the pad to activate the cleanser.

  • Using a circular motion to scrub surface

  • Rinsing the cleaned surface

  • Discarding used pad into trash

  • I followed the above directions, and started to firmly apply pressure and scrub my rust stained counter top. At first I was not impressed, but then the cleanser started to activate, and fizzing bubbles were alive - moving and spanning the surface where I was scrubbing. Then slowly but surely the Action Pad was working - I could not believe this product was removing a stain that my best cleaning products couldn't. But sure enough it did!

    This product isn't recommended for surfaces that can easily scratch. I would not use this pad on wood surfaces , or a natural stone counter top (such as marble or slate) due to the high likeliness of marring the protective finish that is applied to the counter top.

    Product Storage:
    The molded handle rests at the top of the plastic storage tub, there is a recessed area so that it fits partially inside. The scrubber pad refills are stored within the tub.
    I would highly recommend if you have kids or pets to store this out of their reach. It's a fun color that might attract kids and dogs would love to chew on this handle - guaranteed.

    Overall Summary:
    The so called "trail by fire" that I had thought this product would most likely fail, had indeed been no match for Scrubbing Bubbles Action Scrubber. This product is easy to assemble, use - yet gets the job done. Even though it's disposable - it has the scrubbing power of a heavy duty scouring pad. I am an eczema suffer, mainly on my hands, and this cleanser did not irritate my eczema with the small amount of contact it had with my skin.

    I would highly recommend this product.

    13 July 2008

    Summer Bursting with Strawberries 20

    Summer brings with it an array of many fruits ,vegetables and herbs - each plant basking and feeding off the warm glow of seemingly endless days. With such an abundance of life giving light - is it any wonder that strawberries thrive in these months?

    picture courtesy of Bahadorjn

    The fleshy sweetness invokes heavenly sighs when coupled with special desserts. Biting into the firm, juicy flesh, your tongue first experiences a tang, but that is overcome by the beautiful sugary blast of flavors.

    Strawberries hold a special place in my taste memory. To me they equal the unbridled innocence of childhood - memories of summers long ago , when the sun was ablaze. Summer days as a child with my friends, I would run out into the hills and forests, and creeks or ponds - never a tricky thought clouding my mind, only a determination to experience and cover as much ground as humanly possible - before the sun set below the purple hills. Strawberries were a staple in my house, and more often then not desserts like strawberry shortcake, or just the simple act of dipping a berry into fresh whipped cream, were enough to satisfy a craving for sweetness.

    Below is a weight to volume ratio chart for strawberries in their different states:

    weight to volume ratio changes if berries are halved, quartered, sliced etc.
    (See below)

    1 (16 oz.) clamshell package equals approximately:
    Whole Unstemmed 18 each 17.2 ounces
    3 to 3 1/4 rounded cups
    1 cup = 6 or 7 strawberries
    Whole Stemmed 15.5 ounces
    3 to 3 1/4 rounded cups
    1 cup = 6 or 7 strawberries
    Halved 15.5 ounces
    3 to 3 1/4 rounded cups
    1 cup = 6 or 7 strawberries
    Quartered 15.5 ounces
    3 to 3 1/4 rounded cups
    1 cup = 6 or 7 strawberries
    Sliced 15.5 ounces
    3 rounded cups
    1 cup = 6 or 7 strawberries
    Chopped 15.5 ounces
    3 cups
    1 cup = 6 or 7 strawberries
    Pureed 15 ounces
    1 3/4 cups

    link to California Strawberry CommissionIf you would like more info on strawberries, California Strawberry commission offers recipes, health and nutritional info.

    They also have a really cute site just for kids aged 5-12 yrs , with lots of kid friendly recipes you and your children can make together, and fun activities on strawberry education, called Strawberryville.

    The University of Florida also has a great page outlining different varieties of strawberries and where they can be grown, plus illustrations on strawberry shapes - very interesting.

    Related Posts:

    04 July 2008

    2nd Place for Best Hobby Blog at the 2007 BOBs Awards 7

    Some of you have been wondering if your vote(s) made a difference for BOBs results. And I would say a resounding, YES! Renaissance Culinaire placed 2nd in the Best Hobby Blog Category.

    I really am appreciative for everyone who rallied for me on digg and Blogcatalog and stumbleupon, and some of the mom blogging sites I am apart of - your willingness to help another blogger was great! It made being nominated for this award a whole lot sweeter! And for everyone who voted for this site - You are awesome and THANK YOU!
    I am awaiting my official winner button from them, and once I get it, I will add it to my sidebar. It's cool to think that my relatively small blog had a chance to win a Best of Blog Award.
    2008 started out very well and my momentum was really good, even with things going on in my personal life - I still put out some great posts, that attracted some great comments.
    But if you have been wondering why the posts have started to get spaced further apart, and the foodie aspect of this site has been lagging - well I am experiencing some health problems right now that are very debilitating, and down right frightening.I have an appointment to see a doctor on the 8th.
    I have been debating whether I should note this, but I decided you readers should know I haven't lost my passion for blogging or for food, I just am feeling so terrible most of the time - it hasn't left me wanting to talk about food.
    Lately I haven't been social networking except for twitter. I have been twittering allot lately - to keep my mind off my symptoms, so if you'd like you can follow me and chat a bit...about geek stuff, movies, music or whatever!

    03 July 2008

    Parents: 5 Tips for having a Safe and Enjoyable Summer 4

    When you are a child, the summers seems to be an mystical time that taunts you throughout the school days, tempting your thoughts with daydreams of water ponds and Popsicles, and with so much daydreaming comes the literal jump for joy that school is done. The thought that a whole summer of possibilities remains waiting around the corner - all for you!

    In time school days turn to responsibilities, and you grow into an adult - but there is still something amazing about summer, that makes you believe once again there is a sun filled fun town that may invigorate your hum-drum routine...

    Eventually you have a family of your own, and your little ones watch the changing seasons and with eyes of wonder they too are alive with the joys of summer...

    But with summer comes allot of responsibility - to keep you and your family safe from the sweltering heat, and UV rays.

    Jamie A. Freishtat, M.D and Rachel L. Schreiber, M.D., FAAAAI, are two Doctors who are also parents and together they make up Mommy Docs - a website that provides pediatric info for moms and their colleagues.

    Here are 5 tips they recommend for parents to make summer more fun an less about worry...
    1. Have a Sun Protection Strategy: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends sunscreen with a minimum Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15. Look for products that provide "broad spectrum" coverage to protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Use this sunscreen routine with your child--daily application 30 minutes before going outside and reapplication every 2 hours (or sooner if swimming, toweling off, or sweating). Creating a routine will establish good habits for the future. In addition, don't forget a wide brim hat, sunglasses with 99-100% UVA/UVB protection, and sun protective clothing.
    2. Keep Pests off Your Little One: In the summer, many insects can bite or sting your child. For pesky mosquitoes and ticks, consider a DEET containing insect repellent. Apply sparingly to exposed skin (avoid backs of hands and around the eyes and mouth) and/or to clothing once a day. As the percentage of DEET goes up, the duration of action increases. To prevent unnecessary exposure, always use the lowest percentage that will last for the planned length of time spent outdoors. Never go above 30% or use on children under 2 months old.
    3. Keep the Pool Cool and Clean: Small yard pools provide a great way for kids to have fun and cool down when the temperature rises, but they can also harbor germs, such as bacteria. To keep the pool free from unwanted "swimmers," after each use disinfect it with bleach by cleaning with a solution of ¾ cup regular bleach to one gallon of water, then rinse well and dry thoroughly. Safety must: Always supervise children regardless of age when they are around any water; whether it's a bucket, a small backyard plastic pool, or the local community pool.
    4. High Heat Means Hydrate: Excessive heat exposure may cause your child to experience a heat-related illness such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or even heat stroke. How to prevent this: take breaks in the shade, avoid playing outside during peak sun exposure hours, and drink, drink, drink! Make sure your child is taking in plenty of fluids before he become thirsty.
    5. Rid Rashes and Relieve Itchies: Running through the yard in bare feet, taking a nature walk on a trail, and picnicking in the park are some of the joys of warmer weather. But all of this outdoor activity can expose your child to a host of plants including those which cause poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac. If an allergic reaction occurs, ask the pediatrician about an oral antihistamine and/or a topical skin care product such as a steroid cream or calamine. If the rash is extensive, looks infected, or is not getting better, call your doctor right away

    01 July 2008

    Food Blogger Blogoversary Calender 16

    I had an idea I thought would be a fun way to support our fellow food blog authors. And help create a even closer community.

    I started a calender for listing food blogger blogoversary dates. The date of your food blog's official launch or first post, is your blogoversary.

    The calender will allow for clickable links in the description, so you can put your blog's title in the event title, and a description of your food blog, then any links you'd like such as : your blog's link, twitter account, face book page etc. If you click on the image below, you can view an example calender event.

    I used google calender to create it. It's easily searchable in the google calendar database. So your readers can follow all of their fav foodies. All public calenders are indexed by google.

    You can view it by clicking this link - food blogger blogoversary. There is a small button at the bottom right you can click to subscribe/ add it to your google calender account.

    You don't need to have a google account to view the calender, or get updates for upcoming or newly added food blogs :

    Click on this link to subscribe with any calender that supports iCal format. Here is a list from wikipedia of apps that support iCAL.

    I also burned it through feedburner. So you can subscribe or use it to add to another feed you are aggregating on your sidebar etc.


    If you would like to be added to the calender, please fill out this form:


    If you have more than one blog, please fill out form for each blog.

    I will set each event to continue to be celebrated yearly, so you will get updated every year.

    I hope this can be something that is fun and usable for everyone . It gives another way to celebrate and promote your wonderful food blogs.

    Book Review : How to Survive the Real World 2

    Once the familiar feelings and memories of your college life have started to fade away, replaced with more pressing matters, and the feeling of accomplishment has toned down a bit after graduation - you may find yourself in a panic about leaving your comfort zone and getting out into the world.

    .....New Grad?

    How To Survive The Real World

    advice will school

    How To Survive The Real World by Hundreds of Heads is a collaboration of tips, stories and quotes by grads who did survive, they give advice on what they learned out in the real world.
    Book Specs:
    • Paperback: 240 pages
    • Publisher: Hundreds of Heads Books (April 1, 2006)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 1933512032
    • ISBN-13: 978-1933512037
    • 103 Tips on How to Win a Job and Impress Your New Boss
    • 24 Ways to "Get Out and Get On With It"
    • Info on Starting Down The Right Financial Path
    • Advice on Office Dating
    • Basic Survival Skill: Etiquette, Cooking and Buying a Car

    I am always a little skeptical of guides like this. I never pick up those
    "for dummies" books, Maybe it's a bit of a put off for me to purchase
    a book that tries to teach you so condescendingly. But apparently these
    books are helping some people - because thousands upon thousands
    of "dummies" books have been sold.

    How To Survive The Real World surprised me. When I picked it up and
    started to read through the pages - I found it pretty enlightening and rather
    humorous. It wasn't like reading from some boring manual penned by a
    stuffy, elitist professional, such as allot of these types of books are, that are
    geared towards grads.

    How To Survive The Real World is like sitting down to chat with your
    best friends - the ones you can pour your heart out to and that won't make you feel completely idiotic. The friends who you secretly admire for their guts and grittiness because they always seem to have no fear when it comes to tackling difficult situations , and who have the crazy stories to prove it. And it's these same friends who you always have the happiest and enthralling times with.

    How would you like to have 774 friends like this? This book combines real, sometimes brash, sometimes tongue-in-cheek, advice from the grads who set out before you and I, to conquer their destinies - but surprise, their grand visions didn't always match their real life situation.
    This book is full of really useful tips and advice for just about any situation the college grad might find themselves in. Here are just a few examples - a guide to stocking your first kitchen, resume dos & don't(s), email etiquette - this is great material to have at your disposal. I would highly recommend How To Survive The Real World.

    Type-A Parent New York City Bootcamp (Focus: Brand-Blogger Relations)
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