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Mother’s Day Gift Guide for Hip Moms

Mother’s Day is this weekend. Are you ready? Do you have something for your Mom that she will love? No worries if you don’t. I have put together a list of ideas that any cool Mom would love to get. Best of all, all of these items are available on Amazon and with Prime 2-day shipping you will have a day or two to spare.

If your Mom loves to ready but hasn’t pulled the trigger on an eReader yet get her the Kindle Paperwhite AND show her how to download ebooks from the library. Rock star status guaranteed.

This Stylish Tote is perfect for the Mom has to haul all her stuff around all the time.

A Lap desk is a necessity for Mom’s who write, edit, or love to spend time surfing.

A pretty notebook is ideal for the Mom who has great ideas bursting from her brain all the time. Help her upgrade from sticky notes and the back of receipts to a pretty place where all her thoughts can be captured in one place.

Unbreakable Insulated Wine Glasses. Duh, this is a no-brainer. You probably ought to order an extra set for yourself too.

Unicorn Pool Float is the ideal Mother’s Day gift. You know she would never splurge on this for herself but she is secretly hoping someone will gift it to her.

Facial sheet masks are all the rage right now. Have you tried them? No only do they leave your skin feeling incredible smooth and hydrated but they also have the added benefit of looking creepy enough on that everyone will leave Mom alone while she has one of these on. Win-win!

What have I missed? Let me know if you have other ideas for Mother’s Day gifts for hip Mom’s. I will add them to the list. If you are making brunch for Mom this weekend, here are a few recipes that you might want to consider.

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Rice Salad with Asparagus and Peas

Rice Salad with Peas and Asparagus-9

This post is published in partnership with We Olive SLC

Rice Salad with Asparagus and Peas is as light and colorful as a beautiful spring day. After so many months eating warm hearty meal I wait not so patiently for asparagus and peas to arrive heralding milder temperatures and the earth coming back to life.

I use short grain Arborio rice because it is starchy and as it cooks its texture becomes creamy yet the grain remains firm. You will add the asparagus and peas to boiling water during the final minutes of when the rice is cooking. A vinaigrette olive oil (I used basil-infused olive oil because yum), sherry vinegar, garlic, and anchovy paste flavors the rice and vegetables.

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If you’ve never used anchovy paste before don’t be put off by it. You can find it in a tube at most grocery stores or on Amazon. Anchovy paste is a combination of ground anchovies, olive oil, and little sugar. If you want that savory flavor bomb (and you should) but aren’t keen to deal with anchovies, paste is the way to go.

About the peas, if you can get your hands on fresh peas, by all means, use those but if you can’t, frozen peas will work just fine. Prepare the asparagus just as you always do by cutting or breaking off the tough fibrous bottoms.

Arugula adds a freshness and peppery bite to the salad. Have you tried to growing arugula? It’s so easy! I grow it in pots on my patio. It’s actually really easy to grow many greens and herb in pots. Try it. Nothing is better than picking fresh greens and eating them moments later.

This rice salad is a perfectly good meal on its own but it could also be a nice accompaniment to a grilled protein like salmon. It also travels well if you are looking for something to bring to a potluck or if you pack lunch to work.

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Here are a few other salads that you may be interested in:

How to Make Rice Salad with Asparagus and Peas

Rice Salad with Aspargus and Peas

Everything Pretzel Bites

Everything Pretzel Bites-1

I don’t often make bagels at home but I do make pretzel bites which are small mouthfuls of soft pretzel deliciousness. Perhaps it’s because I am indecisive or that I cannot commit to just one bagel topping but everything bagels have always been my flavor of choice.

If you aren’t familiar with everything bagels, they are topped with a combination of ­­­poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dried garlic, dried onion, and coarse salt. You can make your own everything seasoning mix or stop by Trader Joe’s and pick up their ‘Everything but the Bagel’ seasoning mix.

Until I discovered the Trader Joe’s seasoning I typically topped by pretzel bites with coarse salt. But, now when I make them I sprinkle them liberally with everything seasoning mix. If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you, then here is a quick video that shows how to make your own everything seasoning mix at home.

The pretzel-making process may sound daunting but it really isn’t that bad. Once you set up an assembly line the process isn’t really that bad. I use my stand mixer to make the dough and just knead with my hands a few times at the end before letting the dough rest in an oiled bowl. Then, section the dough and roll each section into a long rope and cut into bite-sized pieces. A quick dunk into a pot of boiling water with baking soda and those babies are ready for the oven.

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Unless you live in New York City, it isn’t always easy to grab a good soft pretzel as you are wandering around town. That is why I started playing around with making them myself. Everything pretzel bites are a game time staple during football season.

There is something super satisfying about popping one of these pretzels hot from the oven into your mouth with only a quick detour into a pile of mustard or cheese sauce. But, be warned these everything pretzels are pretty addictive. Even if you think you have made enough you may find that they disappear as quickly as you can churn them out.

How to Make Everything Pretzel Bites

Other finger foods you may be interested in are:

Everything Pretzel Bites

Portobello Mushroom Pizzas

Portobello Mushroom Pizzas

I love pizza. Let me be very clear, I could eat pizza every single day of my life. I am not necessarily proud of that fact but it is the truth. For me, there is no greater comfort than warm, melted cheese stretching from the plate to my mouth. Bring it on.

But honestly, sometimes I don’t feel like messing around with dough. I am one messy cook, I get flour everywhere even if I am only rolling out store-bought dough. Enter Portobello mushrooms. They are perfect stand-ins for pizza crust. Mushrooms are hearty and meaty and their cup shape perfectly holds sauce, cheese, and any toppings that you enjoy.

Portobello Mushroom Pizzas

For a quick and easy weeknight dinner use jarred or canned tomato sauce. I use for mozzarella for its ability to melt into stringy gooeyness, provolone for its flavor, sand parmesan for its sharp bite. I like the combination of cheeses but you can skip the provolone and I still think you will be happy with the result.

For the toppings of this Portobello mushroom pizza, I love sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, and ribbons of basil. But, you can swap out these toppings for anything that you prefer.

Portabello Mushroom Pizza-8

I also love olives and onions. Sometimes I use pesto for the sauce instead of marinara sauce. I have a stash of pesto in my freezer from last summer’s bounty. I freeze the pesto in an ice cube trays. Make these your own with your favorite toppings or whatever you have on hand.

The secret to pump up the flavor of the Portobello mushrooms is brush them with a garlic butter mixture before you fill them with sauce and toppings and pop them in the oven. Trust me, it is delicious.

Other mushroom recipes you may be interested in:

Portobello Mushroom Pizza

Eggplant Parmesan

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Are you an eggplant lover or an eggplant hater? People seem to fall firmly into one camp or the other. Growing up in an Italian family, eggplant was a staple on our dinner table. That purple beauty was most commonly served in the form of eggplant parmesan.

Fun fact, when my son was a little boy he called eggplant ‘the punching bag fruit’. I still think that this is the cutest thing ever. The punching bag fruit. When buying eggplants at the market you want to look for ones that have smooth purple, shiny flesh and that feels heavy for its size.

Breaded eggplant slices

If you are feeling unsure of how to buy and prepare eggplant you can check out this video. For eggplant parmesan, I don’t typically salt the slices of eggplant but I do if the eggplant will be used in a dish that isn’t covered in sauce and cheese.

There are as many variations of eggplant parmesan as there are Gambino families. Some family recipes call for slicing the eggplant thick, some thin, some peel the eggplant, and others don’t. Then there is the fry their eggplants slices devotees versus the eggplant slice bakers. Personally, I like my eggplant peeled, thinly sliced, coated in panko, parmesan, and baked.

Finished pan of eggplant parmesan

The process of making eggplant parmesan isn’t that much different than making lasagna. Instead of layering noodles, you layer slices of eggplant with marinara and seasoned ricotta cheese. This recipes calls for two eggplants and will fill a 9 x 13 pan but you can also just use one eggplant and bake it in a 9 x 9 or small round casserole.

Side view of eggplant parmesan

This may sound weird to anyone who didn’t grow up in an Italian family but leftover eggplant parmesan makes a divine filling for a sandwich. But, the bread must be a crusty loaf of Italian bread or a baguette if you don’t have good Italian bread in your part of the world.

How to Make Eggplant Parmesan

Other Italian recipes you might enjoy:

Eggplant Parmesan

Pasta with Garlic and Olive Oil

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Pasta with garlic and olive oil is the easiest weeknight dinner. Ever. Even stopping for take-out is a bigger hassle than making this bowl of pasta. Plus, it’s cheaper and made with ingredients that are actually food. All that aside, I recently realized something shocking. Despite being raised Italian and having a deep love of pasta, I have never posted a pasta recipe here at Hello Fun Seekers! How is that even possible? I rectify that oversight today.

I also have to say that I have never bought into the low-carb phenomena. My great-grandmother lived until she was 96 and my grandmother will be 100 later this year. Believe me, those ladies had pasta as a staple in their diets. So, eat your cauliflower crusts if you want but I will be over here enjoying a delicious bowl of pasta.

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Fusilli is one of my favorite pasta shapes. The curlicues aren’t just pretty to look at but they create numerous nooks and crannies for the sauce to adhere to as well. Properly cooking the pasta is crucial. You will often here people talk about cooking it al dente, ‘to the tooth’, meaning that it still has some texture. There is nothing worse than overcooked mushy pasta.

In order to avoid overcooking the pasta, I typically finish cooking my pasta in the sauce which serves an important purpose. To accomplish this, I boil the pasta for a minute or two less than what the package instructions recommend. Finishing the pasta in the sauce allows the pasta to soak up the sauce and infuse the pasta with all that flavor.

The order of operations for this dish is to start your pasta cooking and then start the sauce. Speaking of the sauce, this pasta is for garlic-lovers only and although it is quick to make it does require your careful attention for a few minutes. Garlic burns easily and can scorch quickly so have all your ingredients prepped when you start cooking.

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The simplicity of the ingredients and the balance of flavors are what make this pasta special. The olive oil is luxurious, the crushed red pepper provides a spicy kick, the squeeze of lemon juice brightens up the sauce, and finally, the Italian parsley adds a touch of freshness.

I hope you will try this classic pasta and let me know what you think.

How to Make Pasta with Garlic and Olive Oil

Pasta with Garlic and Olive Oil

Shakshuka

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Shakshuka has an unusual name that may not roll off the tongue easily at first but believe me once you make this you will be shakshuka-ing all the time. Shakshuka is a dish that is popular in North Africa and the Middle East. Basically, the dish consists of eggs poached in tomatoes, onions, red peppers, and various spices.

Shakshuka is incredibly versatile and can be served for dinner or brunch. Most of the ingredients are pantry staples and from start to finish you can make this meal in just over 30 minutes. Plus, when you are done your kitchen will smell like heaven. I kid you not.

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One unusual element of this dish is using a large can of whole, peeled tomatoes. I like to pour the whole can into a large bowl and crush the tomatoes by hand before adding them to the skillet.  This process adds not only the terrific flavor from the whole tomatoes but provides the sauce a beautiful rustic texture.

But, be warned, wear an apron or clothes that you don’t care about because it is a messy process. If you hate messes you could also use a pastry blender to break up the tomatoes. But, why not bring out your inner Lucille Ball and smash those babies up like an Italian grandma? Check out this video. This woman gets me.

Having bread to soak up the sauce is crucial. My preference is a nice crusty loaf or fresh warmed pitas. A crisp green salad would round out the meal perfectly.

Last year, a few Hello Fun Seekers readers and I all made shakshuka simultaneously and live-tweeted our progress on Twitter. It was really fun! Would you all be interested in doing something like that from time to time? Let me know in the comments below if you think that sounds like fun.

How to Make Shakshuka

Shakshuka

Parmesan Garlic Clams

Parmesean Garlic Clams overhead shot

I used to feel intimidated by the thought of cooking clams. How do I store them once I get home? What do I need to do to prep them for cooking? It all seemed somewhat overwhelming. But, you know what they say, you should do one thing every day that scares you. I am so glad that one day I decided to face my fear and figure out how to cook clams. Boy, am I glad that I did because these Parmesan Garlic Clams are now part of my repertoire.

Besides fresh clams, the key to this type of preparation is having a flavorful broth to cook the clams in. In order to make Parmesan Garlic Clams, you will use butter, white wine, and broth as the base and shallot and garlic for flavor. A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes add a spicy note. But, a crucial part of this dish is having a crusty baguette available to soak up that delicious broth.

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The most important part of the process is getting clams that fresh and have been properly handled. I only buy fresh clams from my fish market or local grocery store whose fish department has a reputation for selling high-quality, fresh fish.

Clams should smell like the ocean and their shells should be closed. Tap any partially opened shells about the counter and if they don’t close then discard them. You want the clams to remain alive prior to cooking them so leave them exposed to the air so that they don’t smother. I usually place the bag in a bowl of ice with the top of the bag left open in the fridge.

Digging for Clams

About an hour or two before you plan to cook the clams remove them from the fridge and give each clam shell a scrub with a kitchen brush. Then, gently place the clams in a large bowl full of water. Let the clams soak in the water for about an hour. They will dispel any sand or grit that is in their shells. Gritty clams are the worst so be sure to do this step. You can read this informative article from Bon Appetit about clams if you want to learn more.

I love to serve Parmesan Garlic Clams with a salad, a crisp white wine, and crusty loaf bread.

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How to Make Parmesan Garlic Clams

Other seafood recipes that you may want to check out:

Parmesan Garlic Clams pin

 

Colcannon

Colcannon-6

St. Patrick’s Day is just over a week away and what better way to celebrate with a traditional Irish dish. Colcannon is mashed potatoes with cabbage or kale. As with many traditional dishes, every family has its own way in which they make it their own. But, the basics include creamy mashed potatoes with softened greens, and scallions or chives. I added garlic to this Colcannon recipe because it is delicious and while I am half Irish, I am also half Italian.

The first consideration is which type of potatoes to use. Colcannon is traditionally made with russet potatoes but I have made it with Yukon gold potatoes too and love the way it turns out. For the greens, you can use cabbage, kale, or Swiss chard. The cabbage maintains more crunch which is a nice contrast to the mashed potatoes. Kale and Swiss chard with soften more but they do share a more vibrant green color which is pretty. My recommendation is to use whichever green you prefer.

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A few more words about greens. Do you grow your own greens? They are so easy to grow! Now is the time to start planting seeds. I grow greens in raised beds, window boxes, and various sized pots. Some of my favorite greens to grow are arugula (sometimes called rocket), mesclun mix, kale, and Swiss chard.

I adore Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and pleasure read the catalog all winter long. Visit their website for inspiration. Seriously, can we talk about the gorgeously colored stems on this Swiss chard? In the garden, greens keep on giving all until the summer heat makes them bolt. The good news is that you can replant again in the fall.

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Colcannon and St. Patrick’s Day

Fun fact: St. Patrick’s Day falls during the Lenten season for Christians but the restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol are lifted which is one of the reasons that the holiday is associated with rowdy behavior. Another thing you may not know about Irish culture is that Colcannon is not only a traditional Irish dish, it is also a song!

This recipe was created in partnership with We Olive. 

If you are are interested in hearing more about Ireland you may want to check these posts:

Colcannon vertical image for Pinterest

Welsh Rarebit

Welsh Rarebit with arugula salad

When I was a kid I thought Welsh rarebit was dish featuring rabbit. I don’t know why, I just did. Did you?  I also thought that the expression ‘making ends meet’ referred to a recipe for dinner. I am embarrassed to tell you that I was well into adulthood before I figured out that Welsh rarebit is another name for fancy cheese toast and cheese toast is something that I can get 100% behind.

My intention for this post to gather some background information about why the recipe is called Welsh rarebit and I started with Wikipedia and surprise!  It sounds like many people thought Welsh rarebit was made with rabbit meat. Perhaps I wasn’t such a dummy when I was a kid.

Welsh rarebit - Wikipedia

But now I know better and I want to make sure that you know about Welsh rarebit and that you try and fall in love with it like I have. I mean toasted bread with cheese sauce ladled over it. C’mon, what is not to love?

Welsh Rarebit-5

I love to use slices of leftover baguette to make Welsh rarebit. If you slice the bread on a diagonal you will get a little more toasty surface to soak up the cheese sauce. I like to melt a little butter to a cast iron skillet and then add the slices of bread. Cook until golden and then flip to toast the other side.

Toasting bread for Welsh rarebit

Remove the toast from the skillet and place on a plate while you make the cheese sauce. Adding beer, Worcestershire sauce, and dry mustard add savory notes to the cheese. I recommend using sharp cheddar for a little extra punch. Adding an egg yolk to the cheese sauce at the very end also makes the sauce rich and silky.

How to Make Welsh Rarebit

I like to serve Welsh rarebit alongside an arugula salad that is lightly dressed with olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, sea salt, and fresh cracked pepper. The combo is delicious! 

 

If Welsh rarebit sounds good, you may also like these recipes:

Welsh rarebit vertical image

 

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