Baking with #Pyrex100: Chiffon Cake with Strawberries and Nutella Ganache #ad

Summer bbqs and get-togethers among our circle of friends tend to yield a lot of delicious foods. I’ve been noticing, however, that the desserts are often the afterthought. So, for desserts for parties we attend, I try to whip up creative baked treats that are attainable. And since it’s summer, I’m all about including locally sourced or in-season ingredients.

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Since early spring, I’ve been dreaming of a delicious strawberry shortcake. Problem is, I don’t always love strawberries and I don’t always love angel food cake. I need a good cake to pair with my strawberries.

For this recipe, I wanted to combine a chiffon cake with some ripe strawberries and squeeze some Nutella ganache for good measure.

 

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Chiffon cake wasn’t always my favorite kind of cake. In fact, I loathed this cake because I think it was the only kind of cake my mom used to make. We didn’t do boxed cakes or much prepared food, for that matter. For baked goods, my grandmother was the pro in this department. She baked almost every kind of Filipino pastry; and man, they were better than the bakeries’ pastries. Her food was, ostensibly, baked with love.

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So, my mom’s chiffon cake is a special kind of cake because it conjures up fond memories in the kitchen. I can still envision my mom’s jet-black hair, coifed much like an 80s mom-do. Since chiffon cakes was her signature (and only) baked good, she made it look so effortless to bake. The classic Sunbeam mixer mixed the ingredients; and I can still smell the motor on that classic mixer, mixing the cake like so. 

The ingredients are quite basic, and can be measured with a Pyrex mixing cup, as well as in the mixing bowl. I have always used Pyrex for baking because of the convenience and durability and it feels right. I like being able to look into the bowl from the sides to ensure balanced mixing. I also need to be able to measure liquids without having to second-guess those measurements. With a swipe or two of a rubber spatula, I love being able to clean my cups and bowls effortlessly.

I loved the addition of the Nutella ganache because it adds more depth and texture to this cake. It’s already rich, but it adds just a little more flavor to complement the berries and cake. And because I’m all about letting the kids help in the kitchen whenever possible, I let Biggie cut all 2 lbs of strawberries that were needed for this recipe.

 

This is a multi-step cake, but it’s not too hard. I adapted my grandmother’s recipe and separated the eggs to hopefully make it more spongy. So, this is how it goes:

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Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and egg yolks.

 

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Beat egg whites until there’s soft peaks. Gently fold egg whites into cake batter. I used a 9×13 pan so I can take it on the go, but chiffon cakes are typically baked in tube pans.

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While the cake is baking, you can work on the ganache. Bring heavy cream to a boil and then add to the nutella. Mix until it’s even.

 

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Strawberries can be cut beforehand and set aside.

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Before assembling cake, beat cream and confectioner’s sugar to make the whipped topping.

 

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After cake has completely cooled, cut in half. Place bottom half back into pan. Spread ganache onto first layer. Add half of strawberry mix. Add whipped topping and then place second layer of cake on top. For top layer, add whipped topping and then arrange strawberries into a fun design.

 

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Thank you to Pyrex for sponsoring this post and helping me to share such fond memories with my family in the kitchen.

The Pyrex® 100 Days of Giveaways is sponsored by World Kitchen, LLC. There is no purchase necessary to enter. In order to participate, you must be a legal resident of the fifty United States or the District of Columbia and must be at least 18 years old at the time of entry. Entries will be accepted from March 22, 2015 at 10:00:00 a.m. ET until June 30, 2015 at 9:59:59 a.m. ET.

Disclosure: I have happily partnered with World Kitchen LLC to share the wonderful Pyrex® 100th Anniversary product line. All opinions are my own.

 



Pyrex® 100th Anniversary Giveaway


 

Free Thank You Printable: You’re The Balm

School just ended and we had so many things to celebrate with our wonderful teachers. Littles had a lot of help with his transition into preschool. I was so grateful that these wonderful educators always take such great care of my boy. I felt we could go a bit further than a gift card or generic card. So, I combined some fairly inexpensive beauty items that I absolutely love with a catchy phrase, and voilá!

 I made a super easy thank you gift that conveyed my thanks for multiple teachers and aides who took care of my special needs preschooler all day.

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For this gift, I bought multiple flavors of EOS lip balm and lotions. I then bagged and added a ribbon and a tag. I really think the tag turned out super cute for something I whipped up in just a few minutes. End result: You’re the Balm thank you gifts! EOS balm and lotions can be found at Target and Bed Bath and Beyond. And when they’re on sale or if you have a coupon, it makes them that much sweeter.

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I noticed that there’s a few new flavors and loved being able to incorporate them into my gift. I definitely want to try the tangerine medicated lip balms for myself. As for the lotions? I can’t get over the easy to grab and portable packaging. The scents are fresh and sweet; the only thing about these lotions is that I’d love to see even more scents!

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And these You’re the Balm thank you gifts can be used beyond teacher gifts! I shared the printable on Facebook and my friend used it for her friend’s bachelorette and bridesmaid’s gifts. When it comes to giving small beauty gifts to show your gratitude, the possibilities are endless. And because I’m all about sharing the love, please download the printable here! If you do use it, don’t forget to Pin it or comment below or on Facebook and tell me how you used it!

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SwimToday and Dara Torres Promote Swimming as #FunnestSport

A few weeks ago, I had the distinct pleasure of joining an informative media event at the Asphalt Green for SwimToday, hosted by our friends at MomTrends. SwimToday is a joint, industry effort created to promote and grow participation in the sport of swimming. The campaign is led by USA Swimming, Arena USA, Speedo USA and TYR Sport.

Dubbed the #FunnestSport, this campaign hopes to highlight the many benefits of swimming as a sport. SwimToday and MomTrends brought together influencers to listen to Ambassador and Olympic Gold Medalist, Dara Torres, and hear several swim moms share their kids’ experience as swimmers. 

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Before Dara shared her experience, I enjoyed learning some benefits of swimming as shared by SwimToday:

·       It’s closer than you think – 62 percent of families live within 10 minutes of a pool; 52 percent of households with combined income of $50,000 or less report they have access to a pool nearby

·       Everyone participates – Swimming is inclusive, there are no benchwarmers (nor benches)

·       Swimming is a team sport – Only 16 percent of non-swimming parents view swimming as a team sport but parents of swimmers associate the sport with teamwork more than any other sport

·       Suit up and go – Only a swimsuit, cap and goggles are necessary to get started

·       Life skills – Swimming increases self-confidence, self-esteem, time management, goal-setting and social development

·       Easy to learn – 76 percent of parents said the ease of learning to swim was high

·       Low risk of injuryNo contact makes for a safer environment

·       Swimming = total body fitness– Burn 650 calories in an hour – more than walking, biking or team sports

·       Sport for life – Once you learn to swim, you can enjoy no matter your age

·       Swimming is FUN – Parents confirm that swimming is the #FunnestSport

I appreciated the swim moms’ different perspectives about their children’s involvement as swimmers. For some, their kids love for swimming began as tots, for others, swimming opened brand new avenues and camaraderies. I enjoyed how the moms shared how swimming rounded out their kids altogether.

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Dara Torres shared how her career as a swimmer didn’t always go swimmingly. In fact, there was a time she said that she didn’t always come in first. Since her youth, however, she said she worked hard and never gave up. She was constantly reinventing herself and striving to do more as a swimmer. I loved listening to her speak as a swim mom and how her career has molded her outlook as a parent. She was so down to earth and well-spoken. I think we could’ve listened to her talk longer, had there not been any time restraints.

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Since we live at a lake, I’m proud to be a current swim mom. My older guy enjoys being active and participating in sports, and swimming is one of those sports that we’ve just recently added to our summer schedule.

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Unlike the contact sports that he prefers, swimming is a challenge because it’s still new to him and he’s constantly competing against himself in addition to participating as a team. As the other swim moms mentioned at the SwimToday event, swimming competitively allows the kids to develop special bonds with teammates. It gives kids a chance to challenge themselves and learn how to better themselves with every lap. At 7 years old, my guy isn’t the strongest swimmer, but I appreciate his willingness to try hard and to pull through for his team.

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I see us continuing to be a swimming family, especially now knowing that my younger guy loves the water. For someone who’s had so many challenges, being in the water seems to make him feel invincible. It didn’t take much for SwimToday to convince me that swimming is the #FunnestSport. We are pretty lucky to live by the water and are able to enjoy swimming almost every day in the summer!

To learn more about SwimToday and the #FunnestSport, be sure to check them out on Facebook. Head to SwimToday.org to find a swim club near you.

 
 

Join Tommee Tippee For a Twitter Party 6/18

Our friends over at Tommee Tippee are holding a Twitter Party on Thursday, June 18 1-2pm! Tommee Tippee will be chatting all about what parents are doing this summer with the kid lets. If you aren’t already following Tommee Tippee, be sure to check them out at @tommeetippee_NA and I’m at @jenrab.

I hope to join in, so if you participate, be sure to say hi. We have a busy summer planned already, I can’t wait to get the show on the road! 2 more days of school!

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Full disclosure: this is a sponsored post. As always, all opinions on NKT are my own.

Whole Wide World Toys Village Playsets Introduce Diversity and Culture

Unearthing new and innovative toys is our favorite thing to do around here. When it comes to checking out new toys that help my kids grasp different cultures and diversity, I get down-right giddy.

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As a multicultural family living in not-so-diverse town, playing with toys that allow us to have healthy conversations about race, culture and to examine what makes us different is rather important. Whole Wide World Toys sent us some a set of their new World Village Playsets—China, and we’ve been enjoying learning about China and a culture that isn’t very familiar to us.

The World Village Playset is multi-faceted; it comes with a fabric playmat, a chunky wood puzzle with 13 pieces, a My China Travel Journal and 14 story cards. The set encourages culture with creative play, and that’s exactly what I found my kids to do upon opening the set.

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My youngest was immediately drawn to the playmat and wooden puzzle pieces, whereas my older son was intrigued by the cards and journal. The playmat and wooden puzzle pieces quickly turned into a scene where they made up a story and were able to interact with one another. We learned English translation of each item from the puzzle pieces and enjoyed the story, which gave us more insight.

I appreciate that this set encourages curiosity about different cultures and serves as a wealth of conversation starters. The amount of open-ended play that the set allows is great for younger kids, as well as older grade schoolers. I especially found this set to be a wonderful way to engage in speech and language with my younger son who has a speech disability.

 

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I totally visualize that this beautiful set could be used within a classroom setting to complement a lesson about China or at home for kids who are genuinely curious about culture. I can also see this Whole Wide World Toys to be a great resource for multiracial families like ours, or in a blended family where a child is adopted from a China or another country.

Overall, this well-made playset is an excellent tool that encourages culture, creativity and conversation about the world around us. You can find Whole World Wide Village Playsets on Amazon or at specialty retailers.

Mail from YouTube: Stampy Cat’s WonderQuest Launch

As we returned home from DisneySMMC a few weeks ago, we were treated to a surprise package from our friends at YouTube.  I love the smirk on Biggie’s face as he revealed contents:

It was a signed poster from none other than Stampy Cat! It’s not every day that you get snail mail from your favorite YouTube super cat!

If your kid plays Minecraft as much as everyone else’s, there’s a chance that he or she also knows about StampyCat. In fact, at my house, I swear, my kid watches more StampyCat than he actually plays Minecraft. Don’t get me wrong, if my kid is going to be staring at a screen, I’m glad he’s watching content that I’ve approved and encourages imagination. 

If you’re not on the up and up about Stampy, then you must know that this YouTube channel stars a cat, and overviews the countless ways that Minecraft can be played. According to The Guardian, Stampy’s channel on YouTube has upwards to 5.6 million subscribers and nearly 3.4bn video views. The main audience of this channel are, not surprisingly, children.

The kids are drawn to the funny banter and easy-to-follow gameplay. As if he’s a big brother paving the way through the mines, Stampy is the kid’s virtual buddy and a bonified pop cultural phenomenon.

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With this wild success comes other great ideas. The creator of Stampy Cat, Joseph Garrett, has launched a new second channel called Wonder Quest. Guardian reported that it’s a 12-episode show of the same name that aims to blend education, entertainment and – while still shot within Minecraft – higher production values. Wonder Quest is a partnership with Maker Studios and YouTube is the official distributor.

Tube Filter reported that there will be a supplement animated series to Wonder Quest called I Wonder. The show will feature  Stampy and his friend Wizard Keen further explore the educational topics presented in the flagship series. Both shows will be hosted on the new Wonder Quest channel.

Finally, Garrett’s Side Quest series contains eight episodes of Let’s Play-style videos where Stampy and his friends play games in maps featured in Wonder QuestSide Quest will be hosted on Garrett’s original Stampylonghead channel, which boasts over 5.6 million subscribers.

After watching an episode or two, I think Stampy is here to stay. I love that this show is scripted and set in the same Minecraft World, and keeps the same funny vibe that kids love. That lovable, fun tone is what keeps the kids engaged, and if that’s what it takes to mesh education with screen time seamlessly, I’m all for it.

 

 

Tommee Tippee Tableware Streamlines Travel for Families on the go

Like many families, we spend a lot of time on the road in the summer. Whether it’s visiting grandparents out of town or heading to the beach, we’re always on the go, and rely on gear that helps us get to where we’re going. 

 

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I can’t tell you how many meals we have when we’re on the road: granola bars before rugby practice, Go Go Squeeze before swim meets and, yes, even cereal with milk on the road down to Va. Like most toddlers, my 3 year old is still perfecting his eating skills, so he needs tools that help him accomplish those tasks. Tommee Tippee has a great range of feeding tools that work so well for families on the go.

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Tommee Tippee’s Easi-Roll bib is my all-time favorite bib for my kid, and as gifts for baby showers. This super-practical bib is softer, yet durable and easy-to-clean after the messiest meals. I love that you can put the bib into the dishwasher after eating. The best thing about this best is that you can roll and tuck it right into your diaper bag or carry-on to have it accessible for road trips or any time you’re eating on the go.

 

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TT’s Section Plates remain a mainstay for all meals at our home. These plates are sectioned off into three compartments, making it easy to portion food for toddlers and keep them from not touching! Unlike other toddler plates, this plate has an ergonomic shape that makes it ideal for little hands to grasp (when they’re not snoozing, that is!)

 

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Pop Up Storage Cups always come in handy for road trips. In addition to Goldfish or Cheerios, we love throwing my toddler’s little collectible toys in the Pop Up Storage Cups. Whether it’s little bouncy balls or crayons for his coloring books, the Storage Cups are great to contain items to keep within reach in the car. Added extra: they fit perfectly in the car and booster seats’ cupholders.

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Easy Scoop Feeding Bowls are another fave for summer excursions. Some mornings in the summer, we start our days early to get prime spots at the beach. This often means we’re eating breakfast in the car, which is where the Easy Scoop Feeding Bowls with Lid and Spoon come in handy. C’mon, whomever thought of stashing the spoon in the lid is a genius!  When we don’t misplace the lids, these bowls are ideal for easy eating at the beach.

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Do you have any favorite gear that helps you when you’re on the road? Whatever you’re up to this summer, I hope you streamline your travels with easy-to-use gear when you’re on the go.

 

Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post and I am being offered compensation for my time and effort. As always, all opinions on NKT are my own.

Skylanders SuperChargers Reach New Heights with Vehicles; Debut Set for September 20

Activision announced its latest installment in the Skylanders Franchise today. Skylanders SuperChargers will debut on September 20, 2015, which will bring this beloved game to new heights.

Skylanders SuperChargers Logo

In SuperChargers, Portal Masters will take the helm of high-octane vehicles on land, sea and sky. From vehicular combat, races down rapids and aerial dogfights, Activision says SuperChargers will feature story-driven gameplay, vehicle-based and on-foot adventures, puzzles, mini games, activities and platforming.

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SuperChargers Dive Bombers

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SuperChargers will have 20 new character toys and 20 new vehicles. Starter Packs will include two new Skylanders characters and a new Skylanders vehicle, as well as a new Portal of Power. The game will be available for preorder starting today, June 3 for $74.99. According to Activision execs, the previous Portal will be functional with this game, as well as a Digital Players’ version where the game itself can be downloaded on select consoles, adding even more play value to Skylanders SuperChargers. I’ll share details on that once it’s released.

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Skylanders SuperChargers feature a new class of heroes. The namesake SuperChargers boast swift moves, powerful attacks and new weapons. The developers, Vicarious Visions, have given SuperChargers special in-game abilities that will uplift players to take on Kaos.

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First Look at SuperChargers at #MTSKylanders

Back in February 2011, I remember standing on my tip-toes in the back of a room of journalists, trying to see the stage while listening to Activision executives talk about their next big thing. It was a video game that combined video games and tactile play with collectible figures, that would go on be a major game changer.

Yesterday, I stood on my tip-toes to get a glimpse of Skylanders, but in a much different setting. I had the unique opportunity to attend an intimate lunch hosted by Momtrends to learn about the latest installment of Skylanders. The beloved franchise is unveiling their fifth installment in their character-driven game and they gave a select group of NYC bloggers a firsthand look.

 

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As major Skylanders fans, it was a treat to get the first look of this new installment of the game we love so much. Skylanders has perfected upping their own ante with each new installment. Is it any wonder why the game remains the top console game for kids? Upon first look, my mind was blown. The vehicles and SuperChargers add a whole new dimension and explore different terrain at a new perspective. The SuperChargers will surely be well received by kids and gamers alike. The vehicle figures alone add so much tactile play value; I see even younger Portal Masters-in-training getting into the mix with the introduction of the cars, planes and vessels.

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Skylanders, as a whole, is the embodiment of The Next Kid Thing, and I’m thrilled to give you a first look of the game in-play.  The video I shot looks and sounds very much like a bootleg because of the setting. Because of the nature of the reveal, we were asked to sign an NDA and video opps were informal since it was a luncheon. Nevertheless, here’s a first look of Skylanders SuperChargers in action:

 

Skylanders not only gave us an exclusive sneak peek of SuperChargers the day before the official announcement, they treated us to a very special Skylanders-themed gift bag. In it, we received a lunch box, Thermos Foogo, Gil the Grunt pillow, Crayola Color Alive book and various stickers. In honor of the SuperChargers unveil, I’ll be giving away one of these fun goody bags!  I’ll post an update on this soon.

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A big thank you to Activision for always including bloggers in your outreach. As a family who has been a fan since the first unveil, it was an honor to be included in yesterday’s luncheon. 

Thank you to the Momtrends team for hosting a lovely and delicious lunch where I got to see friends, eat delicious food, craft and geek out!

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Skylanders SuperChargers will be available on Xbox 360™ and  Xbox One™video game and entertainment systems from Microsoft, PlayStation® 3 and PlayStation® 4 computer entertainment systems, Nintendo’s Wii U™ system, and a different, unique adventure will be made available on Nintendo’s Wii™ system and the Nintendo 3DS™ hand-held system. Additionally, the complete Skylanders SuperChargers experience will be available on iPad®. The game will be available on September 20 in North America, September 24 in Australia/New Zealand; and on September 25 in Europe. 

 Full disclosure: I attended a hosted event and received exclusive information to share with my audience. I received swag bags and lunch, but as always, opinions on NKT are my own.

TTPM Spring Showcase Gifting Suite Haul

A few weeks ago, I attended TTPM’s Spring Showcase, where the latest and greatest for spring and summer toys were revealed. It’s always great to hear the experts’ opinions on the hot toys of the season.

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And this time around, hot toys range from outdoor toys, to ride on toys from Razor, to movie-inspired gear and goodies. Be sure to check out TTPM’s full lineup of this season’s hot toys.

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Like their other showcases, TTPM hosted a gifting suite where press and influencers receive samples of toys that might be relevant for their outlets. I met with all of the exhibitors, but typically only grab samples that are a fit for us. I let the boys do a haul of the samples I brought home with my usual sidebar comments! Be sure to head to our YouTube channel to check out the video!

 

Join Us for a Twitter Party with Safety 1st on 5/27 at 8pm

Join us for a Twitter party! We’re partying on Wednesday night, May 27th at 8pm with our friends at Safety 1st. Together with several of my fellow bloggers, we’ll be celebrating parenting victories and talking about the very cool Step and Go from Safety 1st.  If you have some parenting victories to share, be sure to keep it real with us and join the conversation at #StepAndGoParent

If you don’t already follow me, be sure to follow me on Twitter @jenrab, and of course, follow our gracious hosts: @Safety1st.

 

Safety1st StepAndGo Twitter Party FB 527


Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post and I am being compensated for sharing this information. As always, all opinions on NKT are my own.