Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Are We There Yet?

It is that busy time of the year again, when families are wrapping up the school year and planning for vacations. Some might think that putting a family in a car and driving for days sounds like nightmare, but for me summer would not be complete without a road trip. I have teamed up with my good friends and fellow moms Suzanne Davis and Mellanie Bradfield to offer some tips to make the experience more joyful. They are the owners of, A Children’s Travel Store. They are dedicated to providing engaging, comforting and portable toys, games and other products to make travel for children (and those around them) enjoyable, educational and enlightening. Some of the most amazing toys, games and books that they have discovered can easily fit into a back seat bag and be used for all travel even if it is just to soccer practice! My daughter is just nuts over the “Road Trip Activity Journal.” This keeps her busy for hours with great puzzles, word games, and challenges, and we always have it in the car. “Bug Checkers” is an adorable magnetic checker game with bees and ladybugs that can be played in the car or taken to a picnic. . “Road Trip Trivia” and “Rubber Neckers” are hysterical games to involve just the kids giving time for a bit of adult conversation or can be played with everyone in the car for hours of laughs. As far as food goes I try to pack things that are familiar and healthy, as finding non-junk food on the road can be challenging. I pack tons of fruit, veggies, string cheese, pretzels, trail mix and lots of water and green tea. Fried chicken travels great and kids just love this recipe. You can add a bit of cayenne pepper or Old Bay seasoning to spice it up a bit. When Emma was a toddler we invented her party pasta because she only wanted to eat mandarin oranges, olives and sweet bells. (A name I concocted because she wouldn’t dream of eating anything pepper!) The apple cake is a favorite that travels well and is a sweet treat that will offset the snow cones and cotton candy! So grab your coolers and grab your games, shut off the portable DVD player and have a relaxing, road trip adventure.

Basic Fried Chicken

1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
6 drumsticks
6 chicken breast halves with skin and ribs
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 cups (about) canola oil

Mix buttermilk, 2teaspoons salt, and pepper in large bowl. Add chicken; turn to coat. Cover; chill at least 4 hours or overnight.
Remove chicken from refrigerator. Line 2 baking sheets with paper towels. Mix flour and 3/4-teaspoon salt in shallow dish.
Add enough canola oil to 12-inch skillet to reach depth of 1/2 inch. Heat over medium-high heat to 375°F. Remove 6 chicken pieces from buttermilk mixture. Dip in flour mixture and turn to coat; shake off excess. Add chicken, skin side down, to skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover; cook until brown, about 12 minutes. Turn chicken over. Cook uncovered until cooked through, about 5 minutes for breasts and 10 minutes for legs and thighs; transfer to paper towels. Repeat with remaining chicken.

Emma’s Party Pasta

1 lb. pasta shells, cooked & drained
One 11-oz. can mandarin oranges
3 green onions, chopped
1 red pepper, sliced thinly
1 cup sliced black olives
1 cup toasted pine nuts
1-pint cherry tomatoes
Juice of 4 lemons
1-cup olive oil
5 shakes green Tabasco
1 bunch fresh basil, chopped

Mix dressing in a bowl with wire whisk. Pour over all ingredients and marinate overnight.

Apple Cake

3 Tablespoons shortening
1 cup Brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup flour
3 cups diced apples
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Mix shortening and sugar until well blended; add egg and mix well. Add dry ingredients and stir. Then add the apples, vanilla and nuts and mix until well blended. Pour into a greased 8-inch square pan. Bake at 350° F. for 40 to 50 minutes.

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