Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge & Kids’ “State Dinner”



Life has been a tad crazy lately, so blog posts are not as regular as I’d like them to be (sad face). But that doesn’t mean we’re not testing new recipes, checking out new restaurants or generally creating chaos in the kitchen. Once the dust settles, there will be more posts. Until then, I just had to share what I think is the mother of all contests when it comes to cooking with your kids.

The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge & Kids’ “State Dinner”
Sponsored by First Lady Michelle Obama, the US Department of Education and online recipe and cooking powerhouse Epicurious, The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge invites parents and their kids (8-12 years old) to create an original lunchtime recipe that includes five food groups from ChooseMyPlate.

Judges from Conde Nast, US Department of Education and Agriculture and the White House will judge the recipe submissions. Potential winners will go through a second round of judging, which will include recipe testing. One adult-child team winner from each of the 50 states, plus the US Territories, D.C. and Puerto Rico will be flown to DC to attend the Kids’ “State Dinner” at the White House over the summer. Click here for more contest details.

I think for most of us, getting an invitation to attend a State Dinner at the White House pretty much says you're BMOC (Big Mom On Campus).  Unfortunately my kids do not meet the age criteria, so we’ll be watching from the sidelines (with envy). So what are you waiting for? Get cooking with your kids and make us all envious. Remember, your recipe must be an original creation. But here’s one of our favorite lunchtime recipes from the archives to get the creative juices flowing – Mozzarella and Ham Panini.


Good luck!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

What a Mom Really Wants for Mother's Day



So Mother’s Day is next Sunday. Have you figured out what to get your mom/wife/sister/friend? Sure, breakfast in bed is sweet (especially if it includes something more than a cold bowl of cereal from your toddler). Flowers are nice. Who doesn’t like jewelry? But I think I speak for many moms that all we really want is a day (or night) to get away. Some “Me” time. A couple of uninterrupted hours to do anything for MYSELF. I got a taste of the good life when I joined a group of Boston Parent Bloggers last week for a Blogger Art Night at Palettes in Natick.

Co-owner Liza talking about Palettes 

To be inspired
When I arrived at Palettes Art Studio in Natick Center, I immediately felt relaxed and happy just from the mere sight of colorful art on the walls and blank canvases beckoning me to get creative. The owners were friendly and made sure everyone had a drink and some food to start the night off right.


Great food and bubbly
Palettes has their own executive chef preparing menu items fresh every day. For Blogger Art Night, they had prepared a lovely spread of some their menu items. My favorite “nibbles” included the Gorgonzola Deviled Eggs, Tri Cut Italian Grinder and Grapes covered in Goat cheese and Pistachio. Every bite had a ton of flavor thanks to fresh, high-quality (and locally sourced) ingredients.

"Nibbles" in convenient containers for palette trays

My very own "palette" - cute, huh?

There is a fully stocked bar, featuring craft beers, hand-selected wines and their own infused water. Owner and bartender Steve was whipping up delicious cocktails, made to order. I had a vodka lemonade concoction that went down way too easily, followed by a strawberry and basil muddled drink. After a couple drinks, I was ready to paint!

Resident artist Ben also doubles as a mixologist at the Palettes bar

To be creative
Palettes assures everyone that “no experience needed, really.” I was nervous at first – the last time I picked up a paintbrush was to touch up some walls thanks to some rough toddler play. But they truly made it simple and fun. The painting that was chosen for us to create was this…

The evening's project: field of flowers
So what happens next can be pretty much boiled down to these three “steps”:

Step 1: Get your acrylic paint. There was a sheet with instructions on how many pumps of each color you will need to get for that particular painting.

Boston Parent Bloggers getting some paint
Step 2: Instructor guided painting. Seated at my blank canvas, Ben the resident artist led the group of nervous but excited group of mom bloggers on creating our own masterpieces. No one judged each other’s painting. When in doubt, Ben suggested you tell your neighbor, “I love how you used the blue!”

Ben showing us the first step to creating our masterpieces

Step 3: Have fun. This was really the best part of the night. Everyone was focused on experimenting on how to make their painting their own, while chatting away about blogging, pop culture, life, etc. Music was playing. Women were laughing (and nibbling and sipping). Yeah, I think a good time was had by all. 

photo courtesy of Charlene Chronicles


A great gift (and giveaway!)
So skip the breakfast in bed, flowers and baubles (okay, maybe not the jewelry if it includes diamonds). Give your mom, sister, friend, wife the gift to get away and to eat, drink and paint at Palettes. And offer to take the kids for a couple of hours. It really is a great gift, I promise.


**The giveaway is now closed. Congrats Christy and happy painting!**

>> Palettes is offering one lucky umommy reader a chance to win a gift certificate for a class for two people ($70 value). To enter, leave a comment on what inspires you by Saturday, May 12, 2012 at 11:59pm EST. A winner will be selected at random by random.org. Good luck! <<

Disclosure: Thanks to Palettes and Charlene Chronicles for hosting the Blogger Art Night, which I received free of charge. I have no material connection to the brands, products or services mentioned. I was given a Palettes Gift Certificate in exchange for sharing information with my readers. As always, opinions are my own.

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