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Mama Mancini’s Beef Meatballs and Sauce

MamaMancini’s classic beef meatballs and sauce recipe that your kids will love!

In 1921, Anna Mancini, the grandmother of founder Daniel Mancini, came to America through Ellis Island. When Daniel was born, he would cook with his grandmother, who never wrote down her recipes; she knew them by heart.

At age 15, Daniel started cooking his favorite dish his grandmother made: Meatballs and Authentic Italian Sauce. With only seven ingredients, they were easy, fresh and a homemade masterpiece. In 2007, Daniel founded MamaMancini, and now you can get these classic meatballs at numerous stores throughout the country. And here’s an exclusive recipe so you can try the Mancini’s authentic pasta sauce for yourself.

For the meatballs:

2 pounds ground beef chuck
½ cup freshly grated Romano cheese, plus more for serving
1 cup dried plain breadcrumbs
¼ cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
¼ cup finely chopped onion
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon coarse salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
¼ cup olive oil, for frying
1 pound cooked spaghetti, for serving

For the sauce:

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup coarsely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
4 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled plum tomatoes
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon coarse salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1. To make the sauce: Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until translucent. Using your hands, crush tomatoes and add to saucepan, along with their juices; stir to combine. Add bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Cover, bring to a boil, and immediately reduce to a simmer.
2. To make the meatballs: Place beef, cheese, breadcrumbs, parsley, onion, eggs, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Gently mix together by hand to combine. Wet hands with cold water and roll meat mixture into 1 ¾-inch balls.
3. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Working in batches if necessary, place meatballs in skillet. Cook until browned on all sides, but not cooked through. Transfer meatballs to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain.
4. Transfer meatballs to sauce and gently stir from the bottom up to coat with sauce. Cover and let simmer for 30 minutes. Uncover and reduce heat. Continue cooking, stirring every 15 minutes, for 3 hours more. Serve with spaghetti, sprinkled with more cheese, if desired.

For more information, to order or for other great recipes from MamaMancini, visit mamamancinis.com.

Recipe and photos courtesy of MamaMancini

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New Year’s Evening at the Pops

Give your kids a hoppin’, poppin’ fun New Year’s Eve party all their own.

It’s likely that your kids are already in bed when the clock strikes midnight, missing the festivities adults enjoy when marking the New Year. This year, bring your kids into the fun—but just a few hours earlier. Let New Year’s celebrations around the world inspire you to fast-forward your clocks to celebrate in another time zone! Fun food such as Tick-tock Clock Cookies, a popcorn bar and sparkling juice served in plastic stemware add to the festivities. Make your own colorful noisemakers by recycling glass or plastic bottles. Lead the kids in energetic party games and it should tire them out enough so you can enjoy your celebration later, when the kids head to bed.

The Balloon Drop

Add excitement and anticipation to the countdown with this game:

1. Use a twin-sized sheet and secure two corners on one side to the ceiling above the center of the room with small nails or tacks. (Note: You will need help to place the balloons and to secure the sheet.)
2. Blow up balloons, fill the sheet and then secure the other side of the sheet to the ceiling.
3. At the countdown, have another adult help you release two corners and drop the balloons on your gathered guests. The kids will love the balloon shower!
4. Optional: each guest receives a bottle of bubbles to blow at each other when the clock strikes “midnight.”

Shake, Rattle & Roll

Make colorful and customizable noisemakers for the big day (and use them later for the grown-up party, too).

by Jickie Torres

Why rely on the same old party favors for your New Year’s festivities, when you can make your own with a few materials from around the house? “Upcycle” an empty soda bottle into a DIY party rattle that is as fun to make as it is to shake.

Materials:

• Empty glass or plastic drink bottle with screw-on cap
• foil confetti
• plastic buttons
• glass and plastic beads
• pipe cleaners
• pencil
• 3-4 strands of lightweight ribbon in various coordinating colors

Instructions:

Clean and thoroughly dry the bottle and its top. Remove the label, if possible.
Into the bottle, add confetti, buttons and beads in colors that coordinate with your theme.
Curl the pipe cleaners into springs by wrapping them around a pencil. Then place them inside the bottle.
Replace the bottle cap and tie a ribbon around the top to finish.

Create a Popcorn Bar

Offer a variety of fun, tasty treats to top freshly popped corn.

For the popcorn buffet, serve in individual-sized bowls, hand-decorated paper bags or splurge on colorful paper bags. Offer dry ingredients in shakers you can make out of small canning jars by poking holes in the lids, or serve in small bowls or ramekins with spoons. For the liquid toppings, use small cruets, bottles or dress up recycled honey bears in festive New Year’s attire.

Perfect Popcorn

To make approximately 10 cups of popcorn, place 1-3 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over high heat. Add ½ cup popcorn and, away from heat, shake pan to distribute oil and kernels. Cover and place pan on burner until you hear kernels popping vigorously. Shake pan a bit to pop last kernels; remove from heat when popping slows to 2-3 seconds between pops. Pour into a large serving bowl. Repeat.

Here are some favorite toppers:

Chocolate Spice

2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine well and serve in a small shaker, such as a clean, recycled spice jar.

Dry toppings:

• M&Ms or similar candies
• Creole seasoning
• Gummy bears
• Chocolate morsels
• Dried cranberries
• Parmesan cheese
• Garlic powder
• Mixed cereal
• Coconut
• Chocolate spice (recipe above)
• Sunflower seeds and small nuts (such as pine or crushed varieties)
• Brewer’s yeast
• Kosher salt

Liquid toppings:

• Caramel
• Honey
• Agave
• Maple syrup

by Hillary Black • Photography by Bret Gum
Styled by Jacqueline deMontravel, Amanda Heer and Jickie Torres

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Get Ready for St. Patrick’s Day!

Try this Irish Soda Bread to celebrate an age-old tradition with a delicious treat.

The whole world is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, a day that celebrates the death of St. Patrick on March 17, 461 AD. What may surprise a lot of people is that St. Patrick was not Irish, but Welsh. He arrived in Ireland as a slave of the Irish marauders who had raided his village. During his captivity he converted from paganism to Christianity and became a very persuasive missionary, converting the pagan Celts of Ireland to Christianity.

While St. Patrick’s Day has been celebrated in Ireland from the time of St. Patrick’s death, it wasn’t celebrated in America until 1737, when it was publicly celebrated in Boston. Since that time, Americans have put their brand on how St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated. The first parade took place in New York City in 1762 when the Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through the city playing their Irish Music. Irish patriotism continued to grow. Today, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City is considered to be the oldest parade, and the largest in the United States, overshadowing even the Thanksgiving Day Parade!

In our family we have Irish Soda Bread for breakfast (recipe below). Then we feast on the traditional (American) corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes for dinner. Corned beef is distinctly Irish in that County Cork was the largest producer of Corned Beef from the 1600s until 1825. It was canned and sent great distances because the corning process of putting meat in a crock and covering it with salt called “corns of salt” preserved it.

However, most of the Irish celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a ham (Gammon) or a bacon joint. When Irish immigrants couldn’t find the bacon joint in America, they turned to the corned beef for their holiday celebration, a habit we continue to this day. However you choose to spend St. Patrick’s Day, enjoy some Irish music, food and drinks. Slainte!

Irish Soda Bread

4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 cup dried currants (or raisins, cranberries, cherries, apricots)
2 cups milk

1. Mix flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender. Stir in the dried fruit. Add enough of the milk to make a soft dough. Spoon into a greased 12-inch cast iron skillet you have warming in a 350 oven. Cook for 1 hour or until top is nicely browned.

2. Serve hot or cold with butter. This makes an excellent St. Patrick’s Day breakfast bread with hot Irish tea!

Note: I usually use currants or raisins, but one year I had none and so substituted dried cranberries. Delicious! Another year I had received some dried Montmorency cherries from Michigan, another delicious variation! Dried apricots have also been used with great success. There are enough variations of this wonderful bread that you can make it for just about any occasion.

I have made this every St. Patrick’s Day morning to top off the glee my kids always experienced at discovering that the leprechauns had been to visit; their toys were lined up on the stairs, magic sprinkle powder all over the house (including on the kitties). Those leprechauns are certainly tricky little creatures. They would often leave behind their gold coins in their haste to evade the leprechaun traps set all over the house. Yum!

Written and photographed by Kathleen Birmingham, kitskrafts.com

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Shake-it-up Blueberry Ice Cream

Shake-it-up Blueberry Ice Cream is a fun activity that comes with yummy results!

Thinkstock Photo

High-energy children will love to shake up this simple Shake-it-up Blueberry Ice Cream recipe. Even toddlers can make their own desserts. Forget about expensive ice cream makers; your kids will use their excess energy to shake this treat to completion!

Shake-it-up Blueberry Ice Cream

Each shake bag of ice cream creates 1 serving
Prep time: Under 5 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes

½ cup cream or half-and-half
Dash vanilla
1 Tablespoon sugar
¼ cup frozen blueberries
1 zip-top sandwich bag
1 gallon-sized zip-top plastic bag
Ice cubes, enough to fill each bag one-third full
5 Tablespoons ice cream salt (rock salt)

1. Place cream, vanilla, sugar and blueberries into the sandwich bag and zip shut.
2. Fill large zip-top plastic bag about one-third full with ice and add ice cream salt. Place sealed sandwich bag inside and seal the larger bag.
3. Shake the large bag for about 5 minutes, then open and remove the sandwich bag. Squeeze the ice cream into a bowl and serve.

Photo by Torrey Kim

Shake-it-up Blueberry Ice Cream Tips:

• Make this recipe sugar-free by substituting an alternative sweetener for the sugar, such as stevia.
• If your kids don’t like blueberries, use ¼ cup of any fresh or frozen fruit.
• Instead of fruit, experiment with flavored syrup or a tablespoon of fruit jam.

By Torrey Kim

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Bacon and Cheese Breakfast Muffins

Hearty Bacon and Cheese Breakfast Muffins are ideal for grabbing on the go.

Make up a batch to have on hand of warm, delicious Bacon and Cheese Breakfast Muffins. When time is running short, grab one and go. To avoid harmful additives, use uncured bacon. The start of school after a long summer break means the shock of getting back into a regular morning routine. Don’t let skipping breakfast be an option on rushed mornings. Make this recipes that is designed to keep your kids nourished and still be on time for the start of their school day.

Bacon and Cheese Breakfast Muffins

Serves 12
Prep time: 20 minutes • Cook time: 20 minutes

1 egg
1 cup milk
¼ cup vegetable oil
8 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled (use kitchen shears to easily chop cooked bacon)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1⁄8 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper

1. In a large bowl, beat the egg, milk and oil together. Stir in the bacon crumbles and cheddar cheese.
2. Add the dry ingredients, stirring as you go, incorporating just until blended.
3. Fill paper liners or greased muffin cups 2⁄3 full. Bake at 400°F for 15-20 minutes until cooked all the way through.
4. Cool for 5 minutes and remove from the muffin pan, placing on a wire rack to cool. Best served warm.

Oven-baked Bacon

Get perfect bacon every time with less mess than frying.

1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. Cook the bacon on a foil-lined baking sheet for 15-20 minutes.
3. Once cooked, carefully remove the bacon from the pan using tongs and blot with a paper towel to remove excess grease. Alternatively, you can place bacon on a wire cooling rack on top of a foil-lined cookie sheet to cook.

Written and photographed by Kristen Doyle, dineanddish.net

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Why Food Makes Us sleep?

You just finish eating. And you are feeling sleepy. You wonder what is wrong with you? You have been feeling this way for a long time. You may have even decided to reduce the amount of food you are eating.

Do you think there is a problem with you? You do not have a problem. You are normal.

It is perfectly normal to feel sleepy after eating. A lot of people feel this way, especially after finishing their lunch. Why food makes us sleep? Food makes us sleep because of the digestive process. So getting a good night rest on a mattress that supports you after eating is a key! We suggest on using bed discounts such as purple mattress promo codes which the main thing is to give you promos!

The following are the reasons why food makes us sleep.

Energy Consumption

Our bodies need the energy to function and survive. And we get this energy from the food we consume. But the digestive process consumes most of the energy. So, we feel sleepy because the body uses most of its energy to digest the food.

During digestion, the food is converted into glucose, or fuel, and then macronutrients that provide energy to the body.

Without the energy from the food, you will not function properly.

Insulin Production

Another reason why food makes us sleep that certain meals trigger insulin production. If you eat these meals, your body may produce a large amount of insulin. And the insulin triggers our sleep hormones.

For example, when you eat sugary foods, your pancreas produces insulin that converts glucose circulating in your bloodstream into glycogen.

When insulin is produced in excess in your body, it causes amino acid tryptophan to move into your brain. The amino acid increases the production of melatonin and serotonin.

Melatonin and serotonin have a calming effect. And they regulate sleep.

Carbohydrates

The carbohydrates you eat affect how sleepy you feel afterward. Potatoes, rice, pasta, and bread contain carbohydrates that boost the production of serotonin.

Serotonin boosts your mood. It makes you feel content, happy and sleepy.

Eating Too Much Food

When you eat too much food you may feel sleepy. Why? Because you feel uncomfortable and sluggish. So, listen to your hunger signals. And stop eating when you are completely satisfied.

Do not overeat? Because your body will take a long time to digest the food. Your body spends a lot of energy breaking down the food you consume. So, you will feel sleepy because your body is using all the energy to digest the extra food you ate.

Food Allergy and Intolerance

Are you suffering from food allergies and intolerance? If yes, know that they contribute to drowsiness after eating. And they are associated with digestive problems such as lethargy, diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, reflux, gas, and bloating.

Why food makes us sleep? Food makes sleep because the body uses its energy to digest this food. We need this energy to function normally. But when the body is using this energy to digest food, you will feel sleepy.

That is why you need to avoid overeating. If you overeat, your body will spend more time and energy on digestion. If you want to avoid feeling sleepy after a meal, avoid certain types of food that release a large amount of insulin in your body.

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Christmas Countdown

Craft one of these sweet Advent calendars.

Lollipop Tree

This will be a “pop”-ular way to count down to Christmas! Tissue-covered Dum Dum Pops or similar lollipops are disguised as colorful ornaments on this Advent calendar that pulls double-duty as festive holiday décor.

• To create the textured tree, cut green paper napkins into approximately 2 ½-inch squares.
• Press three napkin squares at a time into a Styrofoam craft cone at their center using the blunt end of a bamboo skewer (adults only, please). Press them in twice for security. Begin along the bottom and continue up in rows to the top.
• Once the tree is completely covered, insert 24 pops. Remove one pop each day until Christmas.

Paper Cone Tree

Hide a small, wrapped candy or other goodie under each paper tree for a fun “tree”-t. The large group of trees makes dramatic holiday décor on a fireplace mantel, buffet, entry table or windowsill.

• Trace different sizes of plates (circles) onto the back of assorted-patterned papers and/or cardstocks. You’ll need 12 circles.
• Cut each circle in half and roll into a cone. Tape or glue closed to secure.
• Punch out 24 stars using a star paper punch or scissors, number them 1-24, and
adhere to tree tops.

Punch-out Countdown

This Advent calendar has the fun of a carnival game. Kids will enjoy poking through the tissue paper each day for a surprise treat.

• Use small (2-ounce) condiment cups to create punch-out treats for this interactive calendar. These are usually found near the disposable paper products in the grocery store or you can use clean,
recycled ones for this project. For example, save up small fruit or applesauce cups to use for larger punch-out cups.
• Sand the rims of 24 cups for good adhesion. Place a small, wrapped candy in each cup. Then, using a small paintbrush, coat each rim with white glue and place a square of tissue paper on top.
• Once dry, trim excess tissue paper with scissors and adhere each cup to a tree-shaped base (craft foam, felt, poster board, foam board, etc.) with a low-temp hot glue gun.

Written and photographed by Lisa Storms

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A D.I.Y. Hanukkah

This year, skip the ready-made decorations and treats and show your children how to make the holiday beautiful—and delicious!

When my children were little, Hanukkah was a joyous time of bountiful presents and homemade latkes (potato pancakes). I can still remember the looks on their faces as they tore the gold foil off their chocolate gelt (gold foil-wrapped candy) and gleefully devoured it. Now that they’re grown, my three grandchildren have become the center of the festivities, and each year they eagerly await the surprises their savta (grandmother) will bring them.

The story of Hanukkah is a rich and inspiring one: More than 21 centuries ago, the Holy Land was ruled by the Syrian-Greeks, who tried to forcefully Hellenize the people of Israel. Against all odds, a small band of faithful Jews defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, driving the Greeks from the land and reclaiming the holy temple in Jerusalem.
When the Israelites sought to light the temple’s menorah (the seven-branched candelabrum), they found only a single cruse of olive oil had escaped contamination. Miraculously, that one-day supply burned for eight days, until new oil could be prepared. Celebrate this miracle with your kids with these fun projects based on familiar traditions.

Remember, Hanukkah starts this year on Sunday night, December 8.

DECORATE
You can use these decorations year after year.

• This menorah is just for the kids; it uses battery-operated votives found at any party store. The kids love to turn the switch on themselves and the lights last for hours.
• Use wooden pieces found at most crafts stores, glue and silver spray paint. The candles are actually plastic hair rollers covered in colored paper!
• The fun hanging “gelt” are plastic coins found at a party store. Hot glue them, back to back onto kite string, and hang them from the ceiling.

Pockets Full of Gifts
Many families give small gifts to children each night of the eight nights of Hanukkah after candle lighting. The kids will be so excited to see their gifts hanging on the wall in this
clever holder.

• Use an over-the-door canvas shoe bag (found at any bed and bath store) and cut in half with scissors.
• Use your computer to print out the numbers then trace them onto the canvas pockets with carbon paper. Color in the numbers with a Sharpie or similar marker.

Pretzel Stars
• Melt a 12-ounce bag of chocolate chips in the microwave, taking care not to scorch. Stir until smooth.
• Use the melted chocolate as “glue” to hold the pretzel sticks together in Star of David shapes.
• Dip in more chocolate and sprinkle with blue sugar pearls.

Doughnuts

Makes 1 ½ dozen doughnuts
Prep time: 2 hours (includes 1 hour for dough to rise)
Cook time: 15 minutes

7 teaspoons dry yeast
¼ cup warm water
2 teaspoons sugar
1 egg
½ cup water
1⁄3 cup orange juice
Pinch salt
3 Tablespoons melted butter or margarine
1 Tablespoon oil
4 ¼ cups flour
½ cup sugar
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
Confectioners’ sugar, honey, chocolate glaze or cinnamon-sugar as desired (recipes follow)

1. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast and 2 teaspoons sugar in warm water; let stand a few minutes until bubbly, then add the remaining ingredients. Knead about 15-20 minutes then
cover bowl and let rest until dough doubles—approximately 1 hour.
2. Roll out dough on a floured surface to ½-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with a cookie or doughnut cutter. Allow dough to rise again until doubled, approximately 30 minutes.
3. Heat 4 inches of oil in a 4-quart pot (see note above). Fry the dough; covering the pot will make the doughnuts expand. When the dough is golden brown, turn doughnuts over and brown on other side, uncovered. Remove with a slotted spoon to cool on a paper towel-lined platter. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar or drizzle with other glazes if desired.

Written and styled by Rita brownstein
Photographed by Curt Henderson

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Cupcake Rainbow

Create a Cupcake Rainbow for a sunny St. Patrick’s Day treat.

You’ll need at least 24 cupcakes frosted the colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet (ROY-G-BIV). Use white frosting and food coloring. Decorate with sprinkles, gumdrops, candy-coated chocolates or whatever you have on hand. Scatter gold-colored coins or gold foil-covered candies under the rainbow. Remember ROY-G-BIV!

To get this look, use pastry tip #1M to apply frosting and then sprinkle with edible glitter.

Recipe and photo by Karen Cook,
Cake artist, KarensCakeShoppe.com