2.28.2011

Hey, Good Lookin, Whatcha Got Cookin?

As much as I would love to be able to sing, I’m not very good at it, and as my daddy would often say, “She can’t carry a tune in a bucket!”, but that didn’t stop me from popping in a cassette tape in  my parent’s car radio in the early 80's, and belting out Barbara Mandrell’s version of “Hey, Good Lookin, Whatcha Got Cookin? How’s about Cookin Somethin Up with Me?"  Whether it was a five-hour car ride or just five minutes down the road, there was a good chance I would be singing those lyrics in my parent’s backseat.

Flash forward thirty years, and you may just hear those same lyrics in my kitchen these days.  I’m really making an effort to get my five-year-old son involved in cooking.  It helps him learn math through measuring, teaches him about healthy eating, promotes better eating habits, teaches him some valuable life skills plus it allows him to spend some quality time with me.   My goal is to send him off to college in hopes that he won’t just eat nachos with cheese, boxed, processed macaroni and cheese, and frozen pizza.


Homemade pizza is his favorite meal to make.  I try to include it our meal rotation often, and he does everything from painting olive oil on the crust to decorating his own pizza pie with pepperoni, cheese, and veggies.

I make one as well so that the pepperoni and mushrooms are evenly spaced.  I have to admit that it bothers me just a little that all the mushrooms are in one big circle on his pizza, but I let him do his thing. We eat both versions then we always declare his pizza the BEST.

He’s also learning his dad’s secret chili recipe, and jokes with me by saying, “I can’t tell you what is in it.”  One day, I opened a can of Rotel tomatoes for a casserole I was making for dinner that evening, and my son blurted out, “That’s dad’s secret ingredient!  How did you know?”

I asked the Hines-Sight Blog Facebook fans if they cooked with their children.  Many of them do especially when it comes to baking sweets.  Some children even cook in their own pre-school these days.  One mom has her children help her with dinner nightly because she says it cuts down on what we moms call the “witching hour” chaos and turmoil.   If you don’t know what a “witching hour” is then my advice is to walk into a home with kids around 5 P.M.   In some homes, it can be earlier or later. Kids are bored, hungry, and tired and parents are occupied with trying to get dinner on the table.   My husband gets a phone call around 5:00 P.M. or 5:15 P.M. almost daily.  I speak in a fast, exasperated voice, and there is usually crying or yelling in the background.  He answers, and before he can finish saying hello,  I say,  What time are you going to be home?  I can’t start dinner.   She is on my pant leg, and she keeps getting in the spice rack.   She’s tired.  She didn’t nap long so we need to eat dinner early.  Hurry up!  Bye”.  He usually doesn’t get a word in the conversation, and that call is his cue to wrap things up at the office.  As he makes his ten minute ride home, I’m sure he hopes that the house is still standing when he pulls in the drive-way.   Miraculously, when he walks in the house from the garage, the scene has changed drastically from when I called him earlier, and even though it’s not as serene as a family TV show from the 50’s, we somehow appear that we have our act together.  My son is playing, the baby is eating puffs, and dinner is in the making.

I wish that I had my act together more often to get my son to help with nightly dinner preps so I will make that a future goal in our household.  I think as my 15-month old daughter gets older that can be a realistic goal.   Several years ago, I bought this cookbook by Southern Living.  It’s great, and has some good, wholesome meals in it along with some cute cooking projects.
Courtesy of Oxmoor House Publishing

I highly recommend this book.  This colorful cookbook has 124 recipes for you to enjoy.  I’ve actually cooked several recipes found in here by myself and without the help of my children for dinner.  I hate to admit that especially when I’m talking about the benefits of cooking with your children in this post, but I try to keep it real, and sometimes, you don’t have enough time.  You need to cook something quick, alone in peace, and with a glass of wine in your hand.    The great thing about Southern Living is that I think you can really count on them for delicious recipes.  I know I have through the years once I started cooking, and when I see their name on a recipe, I’m more likely to try it.

Here are two recipes in the book that I thought would be perfect to share with you as we end dog week on the blog today.   These recipes would be great to cook with your kids or grandkids one afternoon.

Click Here to Print Recipe courtesy
of Oxmoor House
These peanut butter based, no-bake cookies look not only cute, but will satisfy your sweet tooth.  

Incredible Edible Nutty Putty

1 cup creamy peanut butter. (We use Jif Natural)
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup instant nonfat dry milk
Decorations: colored sugar candy, sprinkles, raisins even M and Ms.

Stir together peanut butter and honey in a big bowl.  Add dry milk, stirring until blended.  Spoon a small amount onto a plate.  Shape and decorate it anyway you wish.
Stir remaining putty in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to one week.
**You can make any shape you want and be as creative as your hands will let you. 



The cookbook also has a wholesome recipe that you can make with your children for your furry, four-legged friends.  There is a dog version and a cat version.  I’ll share both.  This would be a great activity to do with your child especially if you have a pet.


Doggie Treats

Ingredients
½ cup of quick cooking oats
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
¾ cup very hot water
1 (2.5 ounce) jar beef baby food (recommend Gerber)
1 large egg
¼ cup instant nonfat dry milk
¼ cup (1 ounce) shredded Cheddar cheese
1/1/2 cups whole wheat flour
½ cup yellow cornmeal
½ cup wheat germ
1/8 teaspoon of salt

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees
2. Stir together first 3 ingredients in a big bowl and let stand 10 minutes.  Add baby food and next 3 ingredients, stirring until blended.  Add remaining ingredients; stir mixture until a stiff dough forms.  Roll dough to ½ inch thickness on a lightly floured surface.  Cut with a 2 to 4 inch cookie cutter.  Place on lightly greased baking sheets.
3. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 16 minutes or until lightly browned and firm.  Remove from baking sheets from oven using oven mitts.  Cool treats completely on a wire rack.  Makes 1 ½ dozen.

To Make Kitty treats:  Stir in 2 Tablespoons dried catnip with flour mixture in Step 2.  Continue as directed.

I want to thank everyone for entering their dogs in the Hines-Sight Blog Facebook Page Dog Photo Contest.  Your dogs are so cute.  Voting ends Monday, February 28th at 8 pm EST.  The winning dog will be featured right here in the blog, and I bet he or she would love to have these doggie treats.

Until next time, I’m grabbing a cup of tea and asking you, “Whatcha got cookin in your kitchen tonight?

2.26.2011

Big Dogs, Little Dogs: Who Let the Dogs Out?

Go, Dogs, Go!  Big Dogs! Little Dogs! Black Dogs! Brown Dogs! Curly Dogs! Straight-haired Dogs! Who Let the Dogs Out?  You did, that's who?

We have so many adorable dogs on the Hines-Sight Blog Dog Photo Contest on the blog's Facebook page. Thank you for sharing your dogs with all of us. The dog with the most votes will be featured right here as TOP DOG in the blog. Voting ends on Monday, February 28th at 8 pm EST.

YOU can help determine which dog is featured.

All you have to do is "like" the Hines-Sight Blog Facebook page. You can do that right here. Go ahead!

Now start hitting "like" by your favorite dog's photo in the blog's photo wall album. You can like more than one photo.

Here are the dogs in the contest based on order that they entered.  You can click on the dog's name, and it will take you to his or her photo on the blog's page.  Remember, you have to like the Blog's Facebook page before you can hit "like"

Nigel
Demi

Maggie
Coco

Daisy

Emma
Squirt

Rolo
Oakley
Eifel

Millie and Shyllo
Cedric
Wally, London, and Murphy
Logan
Rosie
Angel
Clipper
Bella (Michele)
Scout
Ranger

Beth's Baby Silver Labs
Sheila Marie

Buddy

Patty

Pookie
Nora B.
Kodi
Sophie
Anderson
Bella (Grace)
London
Drake
Peaches
Reesy


Help select the Top Dog.  Vote now!

Voting ends on Monday, February 28th at 8 pm EST.

Until next time, I'm going to grab a cup of tea, and start counting some votes.


























2.24.2011

Sweet, Southern Hushpuppies!

Courtesy of Jason's scrapbook,
his dog was the famous Hush Puppy Dog
We’re still talking dogs on the Hines-Sight Blog this week.  You  have a few days left to vote for your favorite dog’s photo on the Blog's Facebook page.  Voting ends on February 28th at 8 pm EST.  You can help determine the Top Dog by Blog hitting “like” by your favorite photo.   The dogs are so cute in this contest that it may be hard to choose just one dog.  That’s okay!  You may hit "like" for several dogs.  The dog with the most Facebook “likes” will be featured right here in the Hines-Sight Blog.

I bet the owner of the Top Dog will be so delighted that he or she may even throw some hushpuppies their dog’s way.  I’m not talking about the shoes that made a basset hound famous, but rather good old-fashioned, southern, yummy hushpuppies.

Did you know that this southern delicacy got its name because it is believed that cooks on southern plantations fed these little cornmeal delights to hush dogs when they barked or howled?  Some stories even date back to the civil war, with confederate soldiers giving hushpuppies to their dogs so they could surprise Union soldiers.

Courtesy of Chesapeake House
Restaurant in Myrtle Beach, SC
Today, hushpuppies are a side staple at Seafood and BBQ restaurants for people all across the South.  Some hushpuppies are sweet while others have more of a savory onion taste.  I grew up eating a lot of hushpuppies because my father was in the restaurant business for over 30 years before his sudden death from a brain tumor in 2005.   Grover, as he was known by everyone, owned a restaurant in the mountains that specialized in breakfast, country cooking, steaks, and seafood.   His cooks made probably a 1,000 or more hushpuppies a day!   Dad’s hushpuppies, served in the mountain town of Sylva, North Carolina, were very different from what you find toward the coast of North Carolina and South Carolina.  Eastern North Carolina hushpuppies tend to be small, and easier for humans or dogs to eat in one bite.   These little deep fried morsels of goodness can range from savory herb/onion to as sweet as dessert cake.   Even though my dad was from Durham, North Carolina, and not a true mountaineer, he tailored his restaurant’s hushpuppies to fit the tastes of his customers.  His hushpuppies, although not eastern style, were tasty, and rather large in size because they were hand scooped, but not as sweet in taste as I prefer to munch on today.


Courtesy of Ella's of Calabash
Fresh, hot, sweet, small hushpuppies can be dangerous to your waistline though because before your lips can say, “ Oh my, these hushpuppies are good!”, you’ve already downed about five of them before you realize it.  I have tasted a lot of hushpuppies since my childhood, and I just happened to marry a man who loves fried shrimp and North Carolina BBQ so I have eaten hushpuppies on about every beach trip I have taken with him in the past ten years.   We frequent North Myrtle Beach at least once or twice a year because our family owns a beach rental there, and MiMa’s house in Tilghman Beach is the perfect spot to indulge in what is called “Calabash style seafood” because it's just 15 minutes away from the rental.   This article published in the "NY Times" in 1983 best describes the buzz around Calabash, NC and the style of seafood found in this small town nestled on the North Carolina-South Carolina border.    It’s ironic that my family owned a restaurant that served fried seafood, but yet, I was never a big fan of the entrĂ©e until I became pregnant with my daughter in 2009.

Now, I love fried shrimp just like Bubba Gump, and have to get fried shrimp any time I’m near the coast.   Like his daddy, my five-year-old son also adores fried shrimp and it is a meal that he looks forward to on trips because I certainly don’t do much frying in my home.  I leave that up to the restaurants!

This photo was taken in Calabash this past summer on one of our beach trips to MiMa's house.

At Ella's in Calabash, NC

This week, I asked the Hines-Sight Blog Facebook fans where they have eaten the best hushpuppies.  The majority said Calabash, NC.   I’ve not eaten at all the restaurants in Calabash, but I’ve had a lot of good hushpuppies in North and South Carolina through the years.  As a result, I’m going to name my top favorite restaurant for hushpuppies.
Most of these restaurants are on the coast so go ahead, and call Grand Strand Vacations, book the house named Surf Chalet, and indulge in my hushpuppies, fried shrimp, and BBQ in the Carolinas, but you
are going to have to pay Raleigh, NC a visit, too.

Sweet Hushpuppies that Can’t be Beat!

Myrtle Beach, SC

Restaurant Row
Myrtle Beach, SC

Seafood Capital of the World
Calabash, NC

Topsail Beach, NC

Raleigh, NC

Hines-Sight Blog readers named the following restaurants as places with excellent hushpuppies.   I’ve not been to all of these, but agree that the ones that I have visited are good. 

Captain Nance's Seafood, Calabash, NC
Dockside, Calabash, NC
The Fish House, Oak Island, NC
Bullocks BBQ, Durham, NC
Joe’s BBQ, Whiteville, NC
Dale’s Seafood, Lake Waccamaw, NC
Currituck BBQ,  Barco, NC
Dixie Queen Seafood, Winterville and Farmville, NC
BBQ Lodge, Raleigh, NC

If you want to add to this list then please tell us.   We would love to know about the restaurant because in the south, we definitely love good hushpuppies and you can never eat too many.

Until next time, I’m going to bed thinking about  my next beach trip with fried shrimp and hushpuppies or I may just wander down to Ed Mitchell's restaurant, The Pit, because I may not be able to wait til Spring.

2.22.2011

Pack Your Bags: We're Heading to Loews Miami Beach Hotel


Courtesy of Loews Miami Beach Hotel Website

Spring Break is around the corner, and nothing could be hotter than Miami’s South Beach from what I've been told.  I'm sad to say that I've never been there!  However,  I have several friends who went recently, and they loved it.   Those lucky parents went to South Beach sans kids though, but Miami can actually be a great destination for your entire family and I mean EVERYONE IN YOUR FAMILY!


In honor of the Hines-Sight Blog’s dog photo contest running this week on Facebook,  I found you the most perfect hotel choice in Miami that not only accommodates children, but also rolls out the red carpet for your Fifi or Fido, too. 




Get ready to escape and pack your bags for the Loews Miami Beach Hotel.  This hotel recently completed a $50 million dollar renovation, and is ready to welcome your family for some sun and fun this spring break.   Loews Miami Beach Hotel prides itself as being the area's only true family, beachfront resort located in the heart of South Beach.    Last year, Parents magazine even named the hotel as one of the Top Ten Beach Resorts for Families.  That’s quite a prestigious honor!   And if you are planning a vacation with children, it is important for children to not only feel welcome, but to have something to do.  When a child says, "I don't know what to do!" it makes me cringe like hearing fingernails on a chalkboard.  I can't stand it!


The good news at this hotel is that in addition to the beach, and gorgeous swimming pool, the Loews Miami Beach Hotel has a great kids program that was redesigned by Pottery Barn Kids last year. Kids aged 4 -12 years old can enroll in the PBkids SoBe Kids Camp.   It offers full and half-day programs everyday and evening programs on Friday & Saturday nights; all packed with high energy activities like Arts & Crafts, Shell Finding, Sand Castle Contests, Beach Sports, Water Balloon Madness, Wii competitions, and scavenger hunts.   I would love to camp out in anything that looked like a Pottery Barn Kids catalogue.  It's probably the only type of camping I would do.   The hotel also has programs catering to tweens and teens in your family, too.   That's good because by the time my kids are tweens, my husband and I will be in our fifties, and probably seen by them as very old and uncool so they won't want to hang with us anyway.

I think your children will love hanging out in these programs while you relax and rejuvenate at the spa.


The Pool!


Or have dinner in one of the hotel’s fabulous restaurants.



When you are at Loews Miami Beach Hotel, you and your children won’t be the only ones with smiles on your faces on this trip.   The Loews Hotel brand has also made a name for itself by catering to your four-legged family members, too.  It was the first national luxury hotel chain to introduce a pet program eleven years ago.  The “Loews Loves Pets"  program treats family dogs and cats like VIPS (Very Important Pet) with amenities such as gourmet room service, specialized bedding, litter boxes, litter, and scoops, dog-walking, treats, and even a pet-sitting service.   If I were a dog or cat, I would be begging my owners to take me there!  Those lucky, pampered pooches!

Only some of the 769 hotel rooms and suites are are actually designated for pets though.   Loews pays special attention to the South Beach pet friendly hotel guest rooms by conducting an extra thorough cleaning following each guest's departure. Loews Hotels also charge a one-time fee of $25 per stay and they limits the number of pets to two per room and in the hotel overall.

Loews Hotel and Resorts even offers  Woofie Weekends” a special package where the pet fee is waived, and a pet room service meal is included in the nightly rate for Loews hotels across the US.   That particular package is not being offered currently at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel this week but they have some great packages listed now including a chance for your family to win a the Utlimate Family Sweepstakes.

If you decide to check-in to LoewsMiami Beach Hotel and take your dog then all I can say is "Lucky Dog!"

Don't forget to vote in the Hines-Sight Blog Dog Photo Contest on the Blog's Facebook Page.  The contest runs through Feb. 28th at 8 pm EST.  If you are a dog owner, there is still time to enter your dog.  My post, "Bow Wow! Your Dog is Picture Perfect" has all the details.

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