Zoku Character Pops

frogpops
Zoku is back with new shapes for the summer popsicle season. 8 collectible creatures, frogs, kitty, princess, songbird, turtle....easiest molds to use, made of silicone, and quick freezing. Check out their quick pop makers too. There patented technology makes pops freeze in just 7 minutes.

Character pops, $7.99 available at Zokuhome.com

Mother’s Day Great Gifts

gifts

Although, I believe everyday is Mother’s Day, the official, American "holiday" is just around the corner. Today I'm going to share with you 8 Mother's Day gift ideas that are perfect for your mother, mother-in-law or any special mother you want to show appreciation for. Everyone enjoys receiving presents so I suggest, spread the love and bring happiness to all moms on this day.

1. A sorbet machine: My kids bought this for me last year and we all reap the benefits. I use it almost every week and have so much fun experimenting with different flavors. I've made pareve Italian straccata and tons of fruity varieties for summer Shabbos and dairy versions for Shavuos. My favorite machine is the Cuisinart, it’s small and easy to use. Watch for specials, mine came with two bowls as a promotion.

2. An immersion blender:
If you don’t already have one of these, then you must be given one as a gift. Every household needs a juzer (that’s my word for what it does, juz the food)! It’s the best for pureeing soups and making salad dressings. Have fun, buy it in a funky color. Immersion blenders come in all sorts of colors and prints. I like the Cuisinart immersion blender and they go on sale often too.

3. A grill pan: I use this pan all-year long but especially when it’s too cold to grill outside or you just have a small amount to grill. It’s great for people who don't have the space for a grill or simply don't own one. I have one for Passover too!

4. Photo gifts: This is a good idea for the mom who does not want another kitchen item. My mother-in-law's favorite presents are anything with photos of the kids on it. We have created them all, umbrella, blankets, ties, photo books and this year personalized oven mitts. That’s perfect for the kitchen lover too.

5. An ihome: One of my favorite childhood memories is singing and dancing in the kitchen with my sisters while we helped my mom prepare dinner. Lucky for me, my children and I continue to do the same thing all the time. Cleaning dishes and setting the table has become so much more fun when we play music and sing along. With technology today there are so many ways to get music going in your kitchen and share the good times. Costco usually has a good deal on some kind of ihome too.

6. A Bosch Universal Mixer (for Challah):
Admittedly, I was married for 15 years before I got one, but now, wonder why I waited to get one. This is the best and easiest way to make challah. High capacity, high quality, great challah!. I highly recommend this to anyone who frequently makes bread or challah and even for those who are interested in starting to make challah but find the kneading time too daunting by hand or a smaller machine.

7. A peppermill: This kitchen essential is not only helpful but super chic too! I love finding different pepper mills that match the season or the kitchen space. These are gorgeous and decorative.

8. A thermapen: Good quality, instant read thermometers make everyone a better cook. They are so helpful when making chicken, turkey, caramel and so much more. Again, get one that's got a bright color and have fun with it! You're giving it as a gift so wrap it up in a fun way too! This one is a bit of a splurge so it’s a great gift and it’s the best one out there.

Of course, jewelry is always nice too

Whatever you decide to get, don’t forget to send your mom a card, flowers or just some extra TLC over a text message. Do you have any other ideas? Share your gift ideas with us so we can share them with others too!

Preciosa Crystal Encrusted Celebration Pitcher

pitcher
The Oprah Magazine, 15th Anniversary Crystal Edition has some gorgeous "bling" items that I love. Our friends at the Alan Lee Collection are represented with their Princess Collection, crystal serving pieces (congratulations! for making the list).

I think this Preciosa Crystal Encrusted Celebration Pitcher would be gorgeous on a Shabbos table.
Originally $175, now 20 percent off with code OPRAH
Available at Divino.us

Glass Pot

massimo_Glass_Pot

Only the Museum of Modern Art would carry this chic new pot designed by Massimo Castagna from Italy. They are hand-made with tempered glass. Cooking in these pots definitely brings cooking to life. I love to watch the pasta dance and twirl and see vegetables become bold as they cook. It's definitely a splurge but maybe try it for Passover and turn dinner prep into a show.

Available at momastore.org

Macaron Baking Sheet

My daughter and her friend Elana have become French Macaron Bakers. They attended at class at CKCA and now create their own fabulous and creative combinations, like lime macarooms with homemade lemon curd filling, vanilla bean with chocolate ganache, Cinnabun flavor, and many more. With her amazon gift card for Hanukah, she just bought this macaron baking mat which has improved the look of the cookies tremendously. The mat helps to make each cookie exactly the same size by giving a template for the batter to fill. If you also want to make those adorable and delicious macarons, try this mat and make your cookies look like they came from a French bakery.

macaroonsheet

Available at Amazon for $7.00

 

5 Great Apps For Diet and Fitness

Want to get the best and quickest diet, fitness and health info? Check out these healthy lifestyle apps to keep you on your 2015 health plan.

fooducateApp: Fooducate by Fooducate, Ltd. For iOS and Android
Cost: iOS free, Andoid $4.99
Fooducate has been around for a few years and allows you to view the quality of the calories you eat by giving foods a letter grade (A, B, C, D). Fooducate has recently added a tracking feature, where you can track daily calorie intake through food and beverages, as well as expenditure through exercise.

calcutterApp: Cal Cutter by NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for iOS, Android, and Web
Cost: Free
This simple app can help make the home cook aware of the calories in the dishes they serve. It allows you to enter your recipe and intended number of servings and then gives you the calories for that dish. The app also provides tips for reducing calories, lower calorie or healthier ingredient substitutions, healthier cooking methods and reasonable portion sizes.

11nutritionApp: Rise by Rise Labs, Inc.
Cost: free trial then $15 a week
Sometimes, getting healthy goals off the ground requires a kick. This is personalized nutrition counseling and diet planning for $15 a week. Rise gives you access to a virtual coach. This expert will encourage you to forge ahead while customizing your eating plans and taking a gander at your Instagram-ready food photos to determine if that Shabbos kugel is worth the splurge.

kidsweightlossApp: Kurbo by Kurbo Health, Inc.
Cost: varies
Childhood obesity is at an alarming high especially for teens. The solution is a transformation of lifestyle habits, embracing healthier eating patterns and a regular exercise regimen. Kurbo does exactly that. Based on Stanford University’s acclaimed Pediatric Weight Control Program at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, it combines sound personal coaching advice with food and activity tracking through a youth-loving medium.

waterloggedApp: Waterlogged, by Day Logger Inc.
Cost: free
For Ios, Android, and web
Track your daily intake of water, get reminders about hydration, and alarms to keep you drinking. Works with fitbit too and incorporates photo technology. Just snap a picture of your drink and it tracks that amount.

FitBit

fitbit copy
I'm not sure how I feel about this product but it's definitely all the rage and was one of the most purchased items this holiday season. The Fitbit tracks your distance, steps, activity, sleep, calories burned, and active minutes in a small bracelet type of wearable technology. It comes in great colors and to me is a reality check on how much or little movement we get each day. People claim in has changed their routines and increased their fitness level and daily activity. It's pricey but if you need a quiet conscience, go for it!
Available at fitbit.com

Savino Connoisseur: Wine Preservation Glassware

grande
Thanksgiving and Hannukah are around the corner and I'm already thinking of gift ideas. This one I spotted in a wine shop in a tiny town in Connecticut this summer and kept it in my files to share this time of year.

Sometimes, just sometimes, you do not finish a bottle of wine. The Savino Connoisseur helps keep wine fresh for another time. The sleep vessel holds 750 ml but it's design is really smart. It's shorter than a wine bottle for easier fridge storage, and it's airtight float keeps wine fresh for up to a week and allows for smooth pouring. Great gift idea!

Available at Savino.myshopify.com for $59.95

2 School Lunch Essential Items

thermos-foogo-10-oz
Leek-proof, Hot and Cold, Food Jar - A School Lunch Essential
Available in 10 ounces and other 16 ounce options, these jars keep food hot and cold for up to 7 hours. They are perfect for soups, stews, yogurts, and hot and cold drinks. The have a non-slip base, are BPA free, and stay cool to the touch. Lastly, I love the wide mouth for easy filling and serving. There are other options available for larger amounts of liquid.

Available at reuseit.com
for $17.95

Adorable and Reusable Lunch Sacks
lunchskinssandwich-bag
I love a cute item that is functional, reduces waste, and is adorable. These "lunchskins" are sized perfectly and are reusable. Perfect for a bagged sandwich lunch, they are dishwasher-safe so you can use it over and over again. They come in a variety of bright colors and patterns.
Available from www.crateandbarrel.com for $8.95

Beeraw Honey

bee-raw
Love the packaging and varieties of this honey from BeeRaw.com
Beeraw honey produces raw, unprocessed, bee-saving honeys. They are pure and natural.

This gift box is made from Rooftop Bee Hives in NYC, how cool is that? Yes, NYC rooftop hives produce this honey.
Hell's Kitchen Rooftop Honey: It doesn't get more raw or real than Hell's Kitchen, home to cops, crooks, cooks and cabaret.
Central Park West Rooftop Honey: For intellectuals, artists, authors, and their kids
The High Line Rooftop Honey: Where fashionistas and fabulistas mix with turistas.
Harlem Rooftop Honey: Where the soul of Manhattan meets its soundtrack.

The four hand-corked 1 oz. vials are sealed in beeswax and packaged with a beautiful American Oak block, in a ribbon-enclosed gift box.
A description of the flavors and origins is also enclosed with your gift.
Lots of options and varietals available at BeeRaw.com
This gift option is $45

Beeraw honey does not have kosher supervision but is pure honey and according to the Star K certification does not require a hecksher.

Colored Paper Straws and Mason Jars

coloredstraw

colored-masonjar

Hottest item of the summer, mason jars and colored paper straws. I love and have gone through dozens. They are adorable at BBQ's, summer Shabbos afternoons, or just a fun way to jazz up a cold drink.
Colored straws are available at www.greenpartygoods.com $8 for 50
Or from Etsy.com in polka dots and lots of colors.

And Colored Mason Jars (clear are available everywhere from Bed Bath & Beyond to Target), are available at www.greenpartygoods.com

Take Cover Knife Covers

knife-covers

While I'm grilling outside, I like to use my time well and start some of my slicing of vegetables and finishes while I am outside. That means carrying knives outside and then back inside and this can be dangerous. Edge guards made of hard plastic protect my knives in the drawer or while I carry them outside or to cooking classes.

$13.50 for a starter set of 3. Available at messermeister.com

Mini Herb Snips

miniherbsnip
Sharp kitchen shears for cutting chicken and meat are an important kitchen tool. This summer I discovered another tool I love, Herb Scissors. These sharp snippers are only four inches long so they are easy to maneuver between herb stems. A few weeks ago, I wrote about creating and herb garden and if you did, you might be enjoying your fresh herbs. Even if you buy fresh herbs, these scissors help with easy herb chopping. I chop them right into the marinade, dressing or sauce.

$15 at Williams-Sonoma.com

New Essential Grilling Tools

Gimmicky grilling tools come and go, just check out your local Home Goods or TJ Maxx for all the items that sound good but are really unnecessary and DON’T buy them. Throughout the summer, I do try many new products though and love to share the best ones, like cedar planks and the Grill Daddy grill cleaner.

A few more must-haves include….
veggie-pan
The Weber Style Grill Pan, made of sturdy, stick resistant stainless steel. It keeps small vegetables in place and still gives them a nice char. I tested many types and this was the hands-down favorite to maintain great grilling flavor while ensuring that the veggies don’t fall through the grates.

Available at Amazon.com for $20

tong
Oversize tongs make it easy to grab anything, big or small.
Available at oxo.com for $15

mitt
Heat-protective gloves with a silicone grip, so utensils don’t slip and you don’t get burned reaching to the far end of the grill. I like these because they are not too oversized.

Available at weber.com for $35