Cora Cooks Pancit


Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

This book was a 2009-2010 Asian Pacific American Literature Award (APALA) Picture Book Winner.  There are not many children’s books out there focused on Filipino heritage and food.  In this picture book, Cora’s older siblings usually help their mother with the cooking of the traditional Filipino dishes.  She’s left with the “kid” jobs like licking the spoons.  But one day, Cora’s brothers and sisters are all out and she is able to help her mother cook.  Cora decides that she wants to make pancit, a popular, Filipino noodle dish.  As Cora and her mother make the pancit, the reader is taken through all the steps in preparing this dish.  Cora is able to help with all of the grown-up jobs like shredding the chicken and stirring the noodles.  The real test for Cora is when her family tries the pancit.  Will they like it?!  Besides all of the food and cooking, this book also touches upon what it’s like to be the youngest in a family and relegated to “kid tasks.”  A glossary is provided in the back with definitions of words like adobo and lumpia  A recipe for pancit is also included. I don’t believe that we have ever eaten Filipino food, but this book has made us interested in trying it!

Greetings from Somewhere Series #1: The Mystery of the Gold Coin


The Mystery of the Gold Coin (Greetings from Somewhere series #1) by Harper Paris
Rating:  3 out of 5 stars

This is the first book in the currently 8 book Greetings from Somewhere series by Harper Paris.  When Ella and Ethan’s mother gets a job as the travel writer for the Brookeston Times, the twins find out that they will be visiting different foreign cities so she can write about them.  This is the introduction book as the family packs up their belongings and gets ready for their big move.  Grandpa Harry gives the twins bon voyage presents, a journal for Ella and a gold coin for Ethan.  When Ethan discovers that his gold coin is missing, he and Ella go on a search to find it.  This series is geared towards readers between ages 5 and 7, with large text and lots of illustrations.  There’s a glossary in the back of the book with different international phrases used in the story, with the language and its definition.    My almost seven year-old son loved that the print was so large in this book and that it had lots of pictures.  He’s an advanced reader for his age and read this book in about 30 minutes in one sitting.  He enjoyed the book and is looking forward to reading the next one in the series.  This book was only okay for me as a parent.   I am hoping that as the family starts travelling the world, the stories get more interesting and informative.  I think this series has great potential.  We will be reading the second book in the series soon, The Mystery of the Mosaic, which takes place in Italy.

*We borrowed this book from the library.



Universal Yums! May 2015


There’s something fun about getting a surprise package in the mail!  After waiting for months, I finally got off the wait list for ipsy and was receiving make-up bags each month.  The Weekend Chef was getting a monthly subscription to Birchbox for Men.  However, as fun as these boxes were to get every month, there’s only so many male grooming products out there that the Weekend Chef could use.  For myself, I just don’t wear make-up very often, so most of the products went unused in the cute bags I received each month.  We decided to cancel our subscriptions and find something the whole family could enjoy.

As food lovers, what a better subscription for our family to enjoy than a food-themed one?!!!  But, there are so many different ones out there to choose from.  Well, we decided to try Universal Yums!  This is an international snack subscription box that started in December of 2014.  Each month they send a selection of snacks from one particular country.  Previous countries include Scandinavia, China, Italy, Brazil and Germany.  Unfortunately, you cannot currently order a previous month’s box.  The selection includes a mix of salty, sweet, spicy and more.  You can choose between either The Yum Box (6 or more snacks in each box) for $13 or The Yum Yum Box (13+ snacks each month) for $25.  Of course we decided to opt for the larger, Yum Yum Box.

I received an e-mail on a Wednesday that my May box had shipped and the box arrived on Friday, shipped 2-day priority mail.  May’s snack box theme was Israel.


When you first open the box, the snacks are wrapped in tissue paper that looks like the flag of the country.  an information card is enclosed that provides facts about the featured country as well as a run-down of the products included in the box.

So what was included in the box?

IMG_1240[1]           IMG_1242[1]

1.  Original Bamba – This was a 1 ounce bag of Bamba peanut snacks.  These have the appearance of a puffed cheese doodle with a peanut butter flavor.  They only have four ingredients, peanuts, corn, palm oil and salt.  The adults thought these were okay, the kids liked them a lot.


2.  Bamba with Hazelnut Crème Filling – This was a 2.1 ounce bag of Bamba snacks that are similar to the original, but include a hazelnut filling.  The flavor reminded the Weekend Chef of Reese’s Puffs cereal, with a hint of chocolate and the shape reminded him of Combos.  We all enjoyed these and this was my daughter’s favorite snack in the box!

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3.  Elite Popping Milk Chocolate – This was a 3 ounce chocolate bar and definitely won has most fun item in the box.  This is a chocolate bar that contains Pop Rocks so with every sweet bite you get a popping party in your mouth!  This was the Weekend Chef’s favorite snack in the box!

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4. – 7.  Toffee Fruit Chews  – The box contained four of these fruit chews – 2 strawberry, one peach and one green apple.  We all got to have one.  The kids liked these, the Weekend Chef and I thought they were okay.  They tasted like fruit toffee and were okay.  This was my son’s favorite snack in the box!

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8. Falafel Bissli – This was a 2.5 ounce bag of super crunchy little falafel-flavored sticks.  Prior to eating these, I made falafel so the kids would be familiar with the flavor.  Although they weren’t the biggest fans of these, these were my favorite snack from the box.  I love falafel and thought these snacks were flavorful.


9. Pinuki Cola Dragees – This roll included 12 pieces of cola-flavored candy.  Our son really liked these, but no one else did.  I’m a big soda fan and to me, these had an “off” type flavor that didn’t remind me of the alleged cola flavor.


10. Achva Marble Sesame Halva Bar – This 2.45 ounce bar was the family’s least favorite snack in the box.  From the wrapper, our daughter thought it would have a chocolatey-flavor.  Boy was she disappointed!  This bar was chalky and dry with a sweet flavor that none of us liked.

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11. Pesekzman Elite Classic Chocolate Bar – This 1.59 ounce milk chocolate bar consisted of five squares that had a wafer-like hazelnut filling.  This was one of my favorite candy’s in the box  The wafer filling reminded me of the inside of a Ferrero Rocher chocolate.  The Weekend Chef wasn’t a big fan of this one, but that meant one square for everyone else and two squares for me!

IMG_1260[1]             IMG_1259[1]

12.  B&B Pretzels Mega Sesame Sticks – This was a 5.3 ounce bag of pretzel sticks.  These sticks are baked, not fried and are covered in sesame seeds.  They are pretzels…….nothing special, but a decent size portion of the snack.

IMG_1266[1]                    IMG_1269[1]

13. Kif Kef Chocolate Bar – This 0.65 ounce candy bar was about the size of a snack size Kit Kat bar.  Even the name Kif Kef sounds like Kit Kat.  It tasted like a Kit Kat bar to us.  This was a “snack size” serving so we each only got a bite.

IMG_1264[1]      IMG_1265[1]

14.  Mini Elite Hazelnut Chocolate Bar – This 0.63 ounce chocolate bar was the size of a Snicker’s snack size candy bar.  Again, we each only got  a small taste of this candy bar.  This had a nougat-like filling with hazelnuts.  The Weekend Chef thought this was similar to a Snickers bar, which the info card compared it to (and he didn’t look at the card!).  I didn’t think it tasted like a Snickers and it wasn’t my favorite.


15.  Bissli Smokey snacks – This 2.5 ounce bag of crunchy wheat snacks had a smoky flavor to them.  My son thought they had a “bacon-y” flavor and liked them, where my daughter thought they were just okay.  I love salty, crunchy snacks, so I enjoyed these a lot.  While the bag notes that it’s 2 1/2 servings, if I was eating these out of the bag, I’d eat the whole thing in a sitting!

This was a fun box of snacks!  Although we didn’t love everything, it was a great experience getting to try new snacks from another country.  There was a great mix of sweet and savory.  Size-wise, the majority of the snacks were shareable for our family of four where we each got a decent taste of each snack.  Although, we literally each only got a bite of the couple of snack-size chocolate candy bars.   We paced ourselves to try about one snack a day, so the fun of our box lasted for quite a bit of time.   Although now I can’t find it, I thought that I had read somewhere that Universal Yums! was not going to be sending chocolate items during the summer months (probably so you don’t have a melty chocolate mess!).

While this box is fun and tasty, as a former teacher, I feel like this box is a great teaching tool as well.    Although this was only our first box, we enjoyed it a lot and the Weekend Chef and I think it’s a fun way for the family to experience a new culture together!  Be sure to check out tomorrow’s Armchair Travel:  Israel post on how we extended our learning about Israel after receiving our snack box!

*We purchased this box.


Foodie Movie Review: Chef


This week, we’ll be trying to add more regular reviews of food-related movies. The Weekend Chef is handling this review:

We are regular patrons of our local library for books, music, and movies. There is usually a great selection of recently released movies on DVD as long as you’re patient and wait your turn on the hold list. It can sometimes take a few months to receive a popular movie. We received Chef on DVD a few weeks ago and were excited to watch it. Wouldn’t you know, Netflix made it available the same weekend the DVD came in so we ended up watching it streamed anyway.

The first thing you notice about Chef is the all-star cast. Starring Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara, Jon Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, and Dustin Hoffman, among others, this is truly an ensemble cast where everyone gets to shine. In my opinion, though, the real star is the 10-year-old Emjay Anthony who plays Percy, the son of Jon Favreau’s chef Carl. Carl is a chef that, even though has a top job at a popular restaurant, has lost his way with his family and passion for cooking. Certain events cause Carl to leave the restaurant and travel across the country with his son and sous chef, cooking genuine food that he can feel good about making again.

The kitchen scenes seem very believable, looking behind the gloss and glamour of the dining room into the real lives of people who work in the food business. Jon Favreau must have done a lot of training to make the prep and cooking scenes look effortless as if he has been cooking in a restaurant himself for years.  Overall, the movie has a “feel-good” and “heart-warming” quality that will appeal to both genders. It’s a big-name film with a small-budget feel. Jon Favreau has been directing some recent mega films in the Iron Man series as well as “Cowboys and Aliens” but a lot of people (myself included) still associate him with the relatively small 1996 movie “Swingers”.  I feel “Chef” brings him back to basics himself and really presents some great and natural characters with heart and humor. Check it out while Netflix still has it. It’s a great food movie.


Blue Apron Not For Us


I’m sure by now many of you have heard of meal delivery service Blue Apron.  You may have even tried it.  And if you are like the majority of people I know who have tried it, you like it.  A friend of ours, who uses and loves the meal delivery service, gave us a coupon code to try out a week for free.  Blue Apron offers two plans, a 2-Person Plan or the Family Plan, which is supposed to feed a family of four.   The 2-Person Plan costs $59.94 for three meals.  The Family Plan costs $139.84 for four meals a week or $69.92 for two meals a week.  You can see the menu online a week ahead of delivery and can opt out that week if you’d like. The 2-Person Plan lists six meals on the menu and Blue Apron will deliver three of them, based on your food preference choices.  From the couple of times that I’ve checked out the menu, it appears that three of the meals are vegetarian options.  You don’t get to actually pick the exact three meals that you want though.  The Family Plan only lists four meals a week, so if you order the four meal plan, then you will get all four meals listed.

My coupon code was going to expire and it just so happened that the kids were going to spend a few days with their grandparents.  Since the coupon was good for the 2-Person Plan, or a credit towards the Family Plan, it worked out perfectly for me to try out the 2-Person Plan while they were away.  The box was delivered by about 8 AM on Thursday, my delivery day.   I opened it up and took out the meat and fish which I put in the fridge.  I also put the baguette, which had a “refrigerate” sticker on it, in the refrigerator.  I left the vegetables and bags of Knick Knacks on the counter and then proceeded to my office to begin work for the day.


Later that afternoon, after working I came down and started going through the vegetables and recipes.  When opening up a knick knack bag I noticed there was a small bottle of cream and a plastic container of butter!!!  There was no note that there were things in the knick knack bag that needed to be refrigerated!  I ended up throwing those out and used milk and my own butter, for the recipes instead.  I ended up contacting Blue Apron to let them know that they might want to improve their labeling of what needs to be refrigerated and was told that the ingredients in the knick knack bags are listed on the recipe cards.  Sorry I didn’t read through the recipe cards while unpacking the box!  They ended up giving me a $10 credit towards my next delivery…..but unbeknownst to them, there wasn’t going to be another delivery.

The three meals we received in our box was a Bouillabaisse-Style Fish Stew with Fennel, Potatoes & Castelvetrano Olives, Pan-Roasted Chicken with Mashed Potatoes & Maple-Glazed Carrots and Steak & Miso-Roasted Vegetable Salad with Ponzu Dipping Sauce.  The recipes provided are easy to follow.  There are pictures that accompany the instructions that I think are easy enough to follow for even those who are not familiar with cooking.


I was a bit disappointed with the recipes.  First, all three had some type of potato in it.  Yes, they differed between Yukon Gold, Japanese Sweet Potatoes and Fingerling Potatoes…..but in a normal week, I would never cook three meals with the same starch.  We didn’t enjoy the Bouillabaisse-Style Fish Stew (pictured above) very much.  It was very heavy on the fennel flavor, which I am not a big fan of, and there were exactly two Castelvetrano Olives (with pits) so there wasn’t much salty, briny, olive flavor.  The chicken and steak weren’t anything special and dishes that we often cook.  I was hoping for dishes that were more unique and interesting.  We did enjoy the miso-roasted vegetable salad that was served with the steak and there was plenty of salad that we had leftovers.

Overall, we were not impressed with Blue Apron and cancelled any subsequent deliveries.  When I checked out the upcoming week’s menu, the Short Rib Burgers on Pretzel Buns sounds awesome!  However, even if I did sign up, there would be no guarantee that I’d get the burgers in my box.

I’m still trying to figure out who this service is for.  It’s not for people who don’t like to cook.  While you get all the ingredients to make the recipes, you’re still spending approximately 30-40 minutes in the kitchen cooking.  It’s definitely not for those on a budget.  $60 for three dinners for two people is not a bargain in my book, unless you tend to eat out frequently.  For our family of four, for three meals a day for a week we spend approximately $150 a week give or take.  For me to spend almost that whole amount for four family size dinners just seems unreasonable to me.  Especially when I’m not even sure the kids will eat the meal.  The upcoming week’s family meals on Blue Apron include Chicken Rollatini alla Cacciatore with Radiatore Pasta, Panko-Crusted Mustard Salmon with Roasted Potatoes and Waldorf-Style Salad, Lamb & Beef Tagine with Swiss Chard, Date Molasses & Whole Wheat Couscous and Vegetable Tortilla Soup with Hominy, Avocado & Queso Fresco.  These don’t seem like the most kid-friendly meals I can think of!  I don’t mind meal-planning.  I try almost five new recipes a week and we often end up with leftovers for lunch.  There are so many awesome recipes out there from blogs, cookbooks and food television that I enjoy picking out the meals that I want to cook.  This service just isn’t a good fit for our family.

So I guess I’ve concluded that the service is for couples (roommates, relatives, basically any combination of 2 people) who like to cook but don’t like to go grocery shopping or meal plan and don’t mind being semi-surprised (since you don’t know for sure what will be in the box!).   If you are busy family and don’t want the hassle of meal-planning and a $140 for four dinners for your family doesn’t seem like a bad deal, you may enjoy a service like Blue Apron.

I highly recommend that you check out the Blue Apron site here to learn more about the service and see if it’s a good fit for you.

If you’ve tried Blue Apron, what are your thoughts and experiences with the service?


The Most Disgusting Foods On The Planet


The Most Disgusting Foods On The Planet by John Perritano
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

With the not-so-new anymore Common Core Standards, there is a big push for students to be reading more non-fiction books.  For the reluctant reader, I think just the title of this book will help interest them.  This book is part of the Capstone Press “Disgusting Stuff” series.  Other titles in the series include The Most Disgusting Animals, Jobs and Places on the Planet.

The book begins with the author noting that different cultures have different food practices.  Some foods that we may think are gross may be considered delicious to them.  This book has six chapter that include topics such as bugs, soups, drinks and even disgusting desserts.  While the book is thin it is not a beginning reader book as the text is small.  It is aimed towards 3rd and 4th grade readers, but will interest both younger and older readers.  Each page is accompanied by real photographs.  More difficult words are defined on the page and there are occasional facts and additional information boxes provided throughout.  Chicken butts, cow urine cola and poo coffee will surely be of interest to some readers!  Maybe even have your child read this to you.  Even I learned some new things from this book.

*This book was borrowed from the library. 

Disclosure:  This post contains an affiliate link.



Snack Spotlight: Lesser Evil Super 4


We are always on the lookout for new snacks and thought that we would occasionally showcase some recent ones that we have tried.  Nowadays, there are an infinite number of snacks in a myriad of different flavors on grocery store shelves.  And more are constantly being added!  On our quest to find new and interesting snacks we have been frequenting Marshalls of all places.  Their specialty and gourmet food selection is surprisingly large and constantly being updated with new and interesting products!

Today we are featuring Lesser Evil brand Super 4 Snacks. The name is a mouthful:  White bean, Quinoa, Lentil Chia snacks.  We tried the Cheesy Nacho flavor but they also come in two other flavors, Kale & Roasted Garlic and Roasted Red Pepper.  Before I told the kids what these were I had them try them.  Taking after their mother, neither can say no to salty, crunchy chip-like foods!


I wasn’t surprised when they liked them!  I then told them the name and they kind of shrugged.  I know if I had told them prior to eating they would tell me that they don’t like those things.  The Lesser Evil brand company headquarters is located in Danbury, Connecticut, which is only about an hour away from us.  By purchasing these, I feel like we’re supporting a semi-local company.  We also like that these snacks contain no GMOs, preservatives, or refined sugars.  While we are attempting to eat somewhat healthier, I cannot give up my salty, crunchy snacks.  I am always on the lookout for healthier alternatives that will fill my snacking needs and these Lesser Evil Super 4 snacks fit the bill!   You can check out the official Lesser Evil site here.  I am excited to see that the company also makes other snacks including popcorn and Baked Bean Chia Crisps.




Ty The Pie Guy


There’s a new family cooking comedy show on youtube that you have to check out!  Ty The Pie Guy premiered January 14 on youtube.  I sat with the kids on one of their recent snow days and we checked out the videos.  Ty is a quirky, upbeat, and funny host.  My kids ages 6 and 8 were laughing aloud at Ty’s antics and kept wanting to see more.  We watched all the trailers, challenge, and episodes available.  In the first four and a half minute episode, seen pictured above, Sammy loves pizza, but his mom won’t let him eat it cold for breakfast.  So, he turns to Ty for help.  Ty comes up with a breakfast pizza.  When I think of breakfast pizza, I think of pizza dough with eggs, cheese and maybe some bacon or sausage.  Ty comes up with a pancake pizza with a raspberry topping.  Ty’s brainy little sister, Rose also adds some fun and interesting facts about the history of pizza.   The short episode is filled with humor and fun.  In another short video seen here, Ty’s sister Rose shows the viewer a magic tip for separating an egg.  Let’s just say even I was surprised, having never heard of separating an egg this way before.  And of course we will be trying this out the next time we have to separate an egg!

According to the Ty The Pie Guy website, the show’s goal is to inspire families to cook together, try new recipes and explore new cuisines while having fun in the kitchen.  This show supports all of the goals that we are trying to pursue with our own kids here at NY Foodie Family.

If you have young children who enjoy food and cooking, I highly recommend that you check out Ty The Pie Guy!  You can click here to go directly to the youtube channel.  New episodes air every Wednesday!


My Perfect Pantry Cookbook Review

My Perfect Pantry by Geoffrey Zakarian
Rating:  3 stars (out of 5)

We recently received My Perfect Pantry by Geoffrey Zakarian to review from Blogging for Books.   We are familiar with Chef Zakarian from the Food Network television show Iron Chef and were looking forward to receiving this cookbook.  The concept of the cookbook is great.  Zakarian takes 50 ingredients that most people already have in their kitchens and then provides three recipes using each ingredient.  The only ingredients that we didn’t have in our kitchen out of the 50 were anchovies, dried lima beans, pine nuts, and gelatin.  Before the recipes, Zakarian gives a brief introductory description of each ingredient, as well as tips for storing and cooking them.  He also provides a variety of recipes using the ingredients including drinks, appetizers, salads, snacks, main dishes, side dishes and desserts.  We made the “Sweet and Spicy Popcorn” which we posted here.    We made the “Mushroom Soy Turkey Burgers” but found that they lacked flavor and weren’t worth posting.  We started to make the Elbow Macaroni with Crispy Bread Crumbs and Broccoli, but were going to substitute cauliflower, and then didn’t feel inspired to make it and ended up making a cauliflower macaroni and cheese instead.   There’s a decent amount of family friendly recipes in this cookbook including “Magnificent Meatballs” and “Family Chicken Fingers.”  My daughter was browsing through the cookbook and bookmarked the “Cinnamon Cupcakes, “Apple Cider Doughnuts” and the “Maple Candied Apples”…….all treats of course!

We’re not sure who exactly the targeted audience is for this cookbook.  While it appears that the goal of the cookbook is to use ingredients from your pantry, we found the majority of the recipes called for other ingredients that one would have to buy.  Most of the recipes also called for some type, if not multiple types, of fresh herbs. Overall, we were not impressed with book. Although the recipes seem promising, the concept falls short. Having all of the 50″essential ingredients” doesn’t get you very far toward actually cooking the dishes.

We received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  As always, all opinions are our own. 


Republic Restaurant (New York City)


On a recent trip to New York City, we had to revise our lunch plan, when eating at Eataly was not a viable option.  See this post for details.  We were with the Mr.’s brother, who lives in New York City and suggested that we go to Republic.  He frequents the place and thought that we would enjoy it.  The restaurant is located in Union Square, convenient to the subway.  When you enter the restaurant, there are a few tables in the front and a long bar to the left.  The majority of the eating area is in the rear of the restaurant space and consists of long picnic style tables and benches.  It is likely that you will be sharing your table with another party.

Republic can best be described as an Asian Fusion restaurant.  They serve small dishes including dumplings, green papaya-mango salad,  and crispy tofu.  They serve many different varieties of broth noodles, which many people were eating, including spicy beef, curry chicken, lime chicken, and spicy seafood.  These small dishes range in price from $5 to $8.  Republic serves a variety of noodle dishes as well including pad thai, glass noodles, and peanut noodle salad.  Plus, they serve rice dishes including grilled chicken pesto over black rice, seared marinated salmon over curried rice with raisins, and chicken and mushrooms with broken rice and Asian vegetables.  These main dishes range between $12 and $15.  We visited on a weekday during lunch time and were able to take advantage of their special lunch bento boxes.  The Mr., the Mrs. and the kids each chose a different bento box, so we were able to sample three out of the five that they offer.  Each came with three different things so it was great that we got to try a variety of their menu items.   The Mr.’s brother ordered the Sauteed Curry Chicken, which he had before and enjoyed.  There is a small children’s menu that we didn’t really spend too much time looking at.  We figured the kids would get more food and variety by sharing an adult bento box.  Overall, we enjoyed everything that we ate.  The kids especially loved the sautéed mini dumplings and the peanut noodles.  The Mrs. really enjoyed the glass noodles and the Asian chopped veggie salad.

IMG_0448[1] The kids shared this!

 IMG_0449[1] The Mrs.  had this Vegetarian bento box

They have a large non-alcoholic specialty beverage menu  as well as a full bar menu including a selection of sakes and Asian beers. While the Mr. opted for a diet Coke, the Mrs. tried the non-alcoholic Asian Basil Lemonade and the kids had a Coconut Lime Cooler and a Pineapple Coconut Cooler.  The drinks weren’t too pricey at $4 each.

IMG_0452[1]  Asian Basil Lemonade 

    IMG_0450[1]  Coconut Lime Cooler


We had already eaten gelato before coming here for lunch, so we skipped dessert.  The dessert menu didn’t look that interesting with a couple of ice cream flavors (green tea and black sesame) sorbet, coconut tapioca and taro-coconut cake.  After lunch we strolled the Union Square farmer’s market, located right across the street from the restaurant.

We were very happy with our lunch at Republic.  While we, as a rule, tend not to frequent the same restaurants twice in New York City, we would recommend this for a family-friendly lunch or dinner.