Summer Travel: Fly or Drive?

– johanna | May 22nd, 2012

Filed under: CREATING MEMORIES, THE BOOKSHELF

Clipart: courtesy of RoadTripAmerica.com

School officially ends in four days; although, my summer vacation will not start until 12:00 pm June 15th. I am so ready for relaxing days at the lake. What I really want is to take a road trip. We have family in neighboring states that we have not seen for ages. The plan is to take the car enabling us to stop along the way and explore the sites.

The big question when planning any long distance vacation is, is it better to drive or fly. I found this really great site that does all the travel calculations for you. The BeFrugal.com fly or drive calculator calculates the cost of the trip in addition to the amount of time it takes to fly and drive to a selected destination. For instance, air travel from the central valley in California to Seattle Washington will take us 5 hours and about $1400 in fees. This amount includes travel to the airport and parking fees. On the flip side, the drive is 14 hours and only $500 with an estimated cost of $79 for wear and tear on the vehicle. I can’t vouch for how accurate the data is, such as the fluctuating cost of gas, but it is a pretty nifty tool to give you a guesstimate to which is better: fly or drive.

**If a road trip is part of your summer plans be sure to log onto Road Trip America for planning advice to get the most out of your trip.

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Strawberry Shortcakes

– johanna | May 18th, 2012

Filed under: RECIPES - Treats

I put my cooking skills to the test Mother’s Day weekend baking desserts for a Garden Party and Auction event. My day was going to be jammed packed with ferrying kids back and forth to school, volunteering at said school, setting up for the auction, shopping, and baking not only for the auction but a karate camp fundraiser. Ayeesh! Fortunately for me my daughter’s teacher did not need my help in the classroom and the babysitter cancelled changing my schedule from set up Friday night to clean up Saturday afternoon. I was able to finish most of my baking in the morning on Friday freeing me up to play a little Mindcraft with the kids. I even had some time to watch a friend’s daughter so she could take her son to the ER.

Part of my baking assignment was Strawberry Shortcakes. I was a bit concerned because biscuits are not my strong suit. The cheesecake recipe was easypeasy. So I threw all my focus into getting the biscuits just right. We made them small and thin because they were part of a sample dessert plate. To make the biscuits thicker do not roll the dough so thin and use a larger cutter. I found the size to be perfect though. With the custard, strawberries and whipped cream it was very rich and filling.

The trick is not over baking them the slightest. You do not want them to brown at all so remove them from the oven at the just barely done stage. Every oven varies. I found that mine were perfect at 10 minutes as opposed to the recommended 12 minutes. Baking the biscuits this way makes them wonderfully moist. In fact they will stay fresh for about 3 to 4 days. If they brown they will become stale and crumbly by the next day, or even hours later.

My kids were munching on them like they were cookies. I imagine you could top them with icing or frosting and call them a sugar cookie, just not as sweet.


Source: Turlock Nursery School
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened but still cool
3 ounces cream cheese, softened but still cool
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter and cream cheese with a pastry cutter until mixture is crumbly. Mix in heavy cream with a fork until dough is moist. Use your hands to press the dough into a ball.

Roll dough out, on a floured surface, to a 1/2-inch thickness. Cut with a 2 1/2-inch circular biscuit cutter. Place rounds on prepared cookie sheet- 4 rows by 4 columns. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Shortcakes should be pale in color but firm. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

To Serve:
Slice shortcakes in half through the middle. Place a dollop of custard on one half. Add a tablespoon of sliced strawberries. Top with other half of biscuit, a teaspoon whipped cream (optional) and a sliced strawberry.

To store:
Place biscuits in a zip-lock bag. Squeeze out excess air as much as possible. Store at room temperature.

Makes 17-20 biscuits

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Cinnamon Cream Cheese Rice Cakes

– johanna | May 11th, 2012

Filed under: RECIPES - Breakfast, RECIPES - Snacks

Cinnamon cream cheese rice cakes is huge hit at my son’s nursery school. The kidos gobble them up like apples, another huge favorite. There is one good thing about peer pressure. At school my son is willing to try more foods and in the process discovers that they really are delicious. Although at home the same foods are still up for debate, like beans. At school he loves refried beans. At home, he turns his nose up every time.

Rice Cakes
Cinnamon Sugar
Cream Cheese

Take a rice cake. Sprinkle a dash or two of cinnamon sugar. Spread a dollop of cream cheese over the cinnamon sugar. Enjoy!

To make cinnamon sugar:
Mix 1/2 cup sugar with 1 tablespoon cinnamon.

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Orange Yogurt Parfaits

– johanna | May 4th, 2012

Filed under: RECIPES - Breakfast, RECIPES - Snacks

This is one of my youngest son’s favorite snack. We made them together at his nursery school to much trepidation on his part. He seemed a bit scared and was a little hesitant at first, he is our pickest eater, but since we were playing with food he went along with it. He was surprised to find he actually loved it.

Servings: 1
1/4 cup yogurt, vanilla or plain
1 tablespoon orange juice
Dash groung cinnamon
1/2 apple, chopped
1/4 banana, sliced (optional)

Take a small cup and add two tablespoon of yogurt. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon, about a tablespoon orange juice, two spoonfuls of apple, and one spoonful of bananas, if using. Top with a dollop of yogurt.

Add a sprinkle of nuts or granola to make a meal.

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