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Monday, January 13, 2014

Some Things Are Worth Paying For...

Over this past year we have download, installed and uninstalled countless Apps for our IOS Devices for our little man. Some were hot, some were not! So I set out on a mission in the last couple weeks of 2013 to actually spend some time researching ratings of educational apps for our soon to be "toddler"! The apps that I chose and that he has immediately fallen in love with are very well put together and have learning capabilities that I felt he should be able to grasp, yet not get bored with them two weeks later. I thought I would share my finding....

Night & Day Studios
Peekaboo Barn $1.99 Farmyard animals are always a hit with out guy! In two days he has learnt 3 new animal names in this app!
Peekaboo Fridge $1.99 Great for learning all about food!
Peekaboo Forest$1.99 Every time Jax sees the deer he associates it with John Deere - therefore we always have a laugh when he calls the deer "John's"!
Peekaboo Wild $1.99 Some big names to learn in this app! Jax loves a challenge!
Peekaboo Sesame Street $2.99 One of Jax's favourite due to the characters! Guess the branding is worth the extra $1!!!
Kindermusik $1.99 A Great selection of tunes that he recognizes from class and loves to get down to!
A great feature is that you can actually record your own voice in these apps - so your little one will recognize mommy or daddy or even themselves as they start speaking! The only disappointment I have with this company is that you have to pay twice to have these apps on your IPHONE and IPAD. Kinda sad, seeing that I already gave you my money once. Overall, the screenshots, music and voices are very pleasant to look at and listen too, and the value of $1.99 per app was worth the price.

Duck Duck Moose
Peek-A-Zoo $1.99 Great app with dancing, hiding, eating, wagging tails, sleeping and so much more! At first Jax was a little standoffish of this app - but he now gravitates to it when he wants a little challenge! A little advanced for him right now at 20 months but he will definitely grow into it. Also liked the voices and background music in this one - not annoying if left on for long periods of time! Very important!!!

Tree Betty Design
Peek-a-Zoo (The Original)$2.99 A great way to learn recognizable zoo animal names and sounds!
Peek-a-Zoo Underwater $2.99 Magnificent creatures from the ocean - still trying to peak his interest in this one!
Peek-a-Zoo Train $2.99 Favorite of Jax's - probably due to the CHOO CHOO!!! All aboard!
Peek-a-Zoo Moo $2.99 Jax's love for farm animals grows in this app every day!
First off, I think this is my favourite set of apps visually! Age wise, they are recommended from 9 months to 3 years. They are artistically and tastefully picked pictures that my son adores! Very easily recognizable animals! Secondly, I loved the fact that I could purchase the entire group of apps for $8.99, as they are the most expensive apps that I am reviewing today, at $2.99 a pop - but most definitely worth it! Great work Tree Betty!

THUP Games
Lunchbox Preschool Monkey $1.99
Although this app can be a little loud for my liking, this is Jaxon's FAVORITE games on the entire planet right now!!!! This app has 6 different games that teach kids about colours, letters, counting, shapes, differences and matching. Not bragging here, but my kiddo is DA BOMB at this app!!! We video him 5 times a day, growing smarter and smarter on it!!! Fist bump THUP Games - keep em coming!!!


Marion's Beef Rolls - Recipe Share - Best Appie Of 2014

So I have this wonderful friend named Marion who made these scrumptious little appies for a Ladies Night at my house before the holidays. We all gobbled them down, between sips of beer and wine!!! They tasted like roast beef dinner in a bite! And we all screamed the same thing..."I MUST HAVE THIS RECIPE" which she replied "Oh, they are so easy". Ok, they are "easy", once you get a system in place, and have some guidance (thanks Marion for the last minute pep talk before assembly!) So...the holidays came and went and I took them a couple places and those people said "I MUST HAVE THIS RECIPE". So I decided it was worth posting the play by play on my blog, just incase there was any confusion around some of the directions. So the wait it over - this WILL be your "new favourite appie of 2014" I guarantee you!

So to get started the first thing I did was give my fresh Italian parsley a good wash in my salad spinner. This gets rid of all that crud that you don't see and perks it up a little bit!
Then I pinched off all the parsley leaves from their stems and put them all into my Tupperware Quick Chef System. (On a complete side note - I LOVE this freaking machine - it is easy to use and you control the thickness of fineness of your chopping/dicing/mincing by how many times you pull the cord!) Pulled the cord about 6 times to dice up nicely!
Next, I gave the Quick Chef a quick rinse and tossed in my onions to dice them up. I enjoyed a sip or two of wine at this point, as I didn't have to spend any time wiping tears out of my eyes...because I used the QUICK CHEF! Am I making you want to get one of these gadgets yet?
Meanwhile I melted my salted butter in the microwave until it was warmed and smelt delicious! To that I added the parsley, onion and horseradish - and stirred it all up to incorporate!!!
So I bought the CO-OP brand of Phyllo pastry for a couple reasons - it was cheaper (because everything is so bloody expensive at that store in the first place, and secondly, it was wider than the name brand that they carried. This is important to know, if you are looking for a final number of "bon bon's" that this recipe will make. Once you thaw these pastry sheets overnight in the fridge, you will need to know that you will have to have a clean, damp tea towel to wrap them in once you open the pack. This will keep the pastry sheets from drying out - as they do this very quickly and are very delicate - hence why people don't like working with this pastry. Guarantee disclaimer - these will be sooooo worth the effort to carry on my friends! I kept the folded in the plastic wrap they came in, and just wrapped them loosely in the tea towel.
So when you are ready to start, take out two sheet of Phyllo and place them on top of each other. By the time I had finished making these, I had figured out the trick to perfecting these morsels! When your sheets are laying flat, one on top of the other, fold the top half down of the top sheet. Take your scrumptious horseradish parsley butter and brush on. When you are finished, fold up the top sheet to cover the half that you have buttered. Then do the same with the bottom half, folding up then down. This was my "AHHH HAAAA" moment - so much easier than trying to brush one entire sheet and then trying to line up the top sheet with the two hands you were given!
Then add your second layer of butter mixture...that's right Paula Deen... just a little more but-ah makes it bet-ah!
Here comes the important part - sectioning!!! First cut - your entire two sheets into 4 big rectangles...
Then you are going to cut each big rectangles into 4 small rectangles. These are your pieces you will be rolling up. now you are ready to assemble. Take your slice of deli roast beef, mine was a good wide consistency so I was able to cut each strip into 3 pieces. Place one piece on a rectangle of Phyllo and get ready to roll - baby!!! Only note to mention here is to make sure that your beef is not hanging out the end that will be at the end (the top if you are rolling from the bottom up - which I was), so that it seals properly.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment and place on the sheet when finished rolling. Once you are done the entire sheet (work quickly my friends) I just popped them into the freezer to "flash freeze" them to a consistency that I could then stack them in a container or in ziplocs for further freezing until I am ready to cook them.
So I was such an expert at this by the time I blew through all my roast beef, I thought well, I suppose I could make a variation of this with other meats and butters... so, I took out some homemade cranberry sauce, onions and butter and made some rolls with turkey breast. These were pretty good too! But my favourite are still the roast beef bon bon's! But thought I would share the photos of both...

So now for the recipe....
Marion's Beef Rolls
1 Box CO-OP Phyllo Pastry Sheets (16 sheets to a box)
1.5 cups butter, melted
1.5 hearty bunch of fresh Italian Parsley
2 onions, minced
10 tbsp of prepared creamed horseradish
1000 grams deli garlic roast beef, sliced

Chop up fresh parsley. Mince up onion. Melt butter in microwave safe bowl. Add onion, parsley and horseradish. Incorporate.
Lay 2 sheets of Phyllo pastry ontop of each other, pull back top half and spread with pastry brush, the butter mixture. Fold up the top piece, then do the same with the bottom. Once your two pieces have butter in-between them, lightly brush to edges with more butter mixture.
Cut pastry into quarters, then each quarter into quarters again = 16 pieces.
Lay a strip of beef ontop of piece and roll up.
Repeat with remaining pastry, horseradish butter and beef.
Place on a parchment lined baking tray and bake at 400 degrees F for 8-10 minutes until golden and crisp. Watch closely not to burn.
Serve with a horseradish mayo for dipping.

Note* I have modified the recipe above to accommodate enough for 1 box of CO-OP Phyllo. In my photos I had left over Phyllo so therefore was able to do the Turkey Rolls from the same box.
For the Turkey breast rolls I used 1/2 cup butter to 1 cup of cranberry sauce.
I would imagine your fillings are endless but you could also try Chicken breast with garlic butter or Ham with Dijon Mustard butter.

NOW, I know this looks like ALOT OF WORK - but I promise you it will be entirely worth it! And if I could do it (and take photos of every step to share with you), then you have no excuse - now get rolling!!!!