Crockpot Matzo Ball Soup

The end of the month always leaves me trying to be extra creative with what groceries I already have before a new budget begins, so when I saw bone broth and chicken in the freezer, noodles in the pantry, and ripe veggies in the crisper, I knew what was on the menu. 

I have definitely had some crockpot fails in my past. But soup is one that's hard to mess up. All you really need is veggies and/or meat of your choice, some seasonings, and some liquid and you're ready to roll!

Sweet Poppyseed Loaf

Like a good, Jewish woman, when Purim came around, I made Hamantaschen. The downside of this Jewish endeavor is I always have leftover poppyseed filling! (Yes, I know, I could've made more cookies, but then I would be EATING more cookies, which would be another problem altogether.) So I did some looking for a recipe to use up that half a can. With a couple tweaks, it was a tad healthier, and it turned out delicious! 

Butternut Squash and Pomegranate Crostini

Butternut Squash and Pomegranate Crostini

It was Monday Night Football at the office, so being the HUGE football fan that I am (not), I stayed home while my hubs stayed late at work to vote for his team. YEAH, SEAHAWKS!! (That was for you, Hubby.) ;) 

I was excited to get more baby shower prep done for my bestie who's PREGNANT!!! Yay!!!!!! I get to be an honorary auntie!!!! And I was excited to try an easy, new recipe to use up my butternut squash and pomegranate from my Urban Fresh Delivery box a couple weeks ago. 

This recipe was delicious, fresh and easy. Double thumbs up!
Source: Cupcakes and Kale Chips

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash, chopped and roasted
  • 2 pomegranates
  • Goat cheese
  • 1 loaf French baguette, sliced and toasted
  • balsamic vinegar

Directions

To roast the butternut squash, peel it with a vegetable peeler, then chop off both ends. Cut it in half from top to bottom. Then cut strips from side to side. Chop the strips in bite size pieces. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. I cooked mine in the toaster oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. (Thanks for the help A Sweet Simple Life.) 

Spread goat cheese on a toasted piece of French bread. Pile squash on top, sprinkle with pomegranate seeds, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and let your taste buds sing a Hallelujah chorus! 

Seriously, SO good!!!

Quinoa Crab Cakes with Avocado Crema

I've been wanting to make these crab cakes for a while. (Crab cakes are my weakness, and a frequent request on my part for dinner.) I saw these ones that were made with quinoa and figured I now have an excuse to eat them because quinoa is so healthy! ;) I bought the crab forever ago with the full intention of making them within the week, but froze it till I needed it. That week turned into a month amidst all the craziness of the school year finishing and having some time-sensitive materials that needed to be done ASAP for the wedding. FINALLY, I had time to cook a decent meal tonight (after plans to get the dogs groomed fell through), so I busted out this recipe that I found on Pinterest from Rachel Cooks.

I was thrilled at how easy it was to make. Just throw the peppers, onions, and crab in the food processor to get it into smaller, easy to combine pieces. Throw in some cooked quinoa and spices. Let it sit in the fridge to make it easier to handle (I cooked up some sides while this was happening), and then cook them in oil on the stove. They tasted delicious! Definitely 5 stars in my book, and I will most assuredly be making them again.

Quinoa Crab Cakes with Avocado Crema

Ingredients:

 

  • 12 oz. crab meat (I used imitation crab, which I prefer the taste of)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped green onion
  • ½ cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (I cooked up 1/2 c dry in 1 c water-bring to boil, then simmer 15 min. It made a little extra)
  • ¼ cup plus 3 T gluten free, all purpose flour (can use regular)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Oil for cooking

Directions:

 

  • Place crab meat, onions and peppers into a food processor fit with a steel blade. Pulse for a few seconds to combine.
  • Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Add quinoa, ¼ cup almond flour and spices.
  • Add eggs and mix until mixture holds together and you can form patties. Add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time as needed, mixing completely between each addition.
  • Form mixture into patties and place on a baking sheet. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  • Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Cook patties in batches, searing 2 – 3 minutes per side. Rest on a paper towel, covered plate while you finish the others.
  • Serve immediately and top with your favorite creamy dip – I made avocado crema with 2 avocados, 1/4 c sour cream, and 2 T lime mashed together.

 

 

Crustless Broccoli Cheddar Quiche in a Jar

I had a long day at work and an oils class afterwards so I needed to pack lunch and dinner. I knew I needed something that would stick because going gluten-free has led to a few hypoglycemic days because I haven't always had time to prep a decent meal. Krista and Jess and a great and easy idea to make quiche in a jar! I tried it out and it was fabulous. Crustless Quiche in a Jar by {Tabitha's Thoughts}

 

Ingredients

butter for greasing jars
12 eggs
1 cup milk or half and half
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 20 ounces frozen broccoli florets 6 ounces sharp cheddar, grated 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the broccoli florets, and cook for one minute. Drain well and remove excess water with paper towels. Roughly chop. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly butter 8 half-pint wide mouth mason jars and place them on a rimmed baking sheet. Beat together eggs, half-and-half, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Mix in the prepared fillings along with cheese and fresh herbs or spices listed for your chosen quiche flavor. Using a ladle, divide evenly between the eight mason jars. Though not required, a jar funnel makes this job a little easier. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until set and golden on top. Allow to cool completely before putting on lids and refrigerating.

Makes 4 pint-size jars

You can experiment with different fillings too!

Cornbread Stuffed Jalapeños

I have an awesome small group. We hang out and have dinner together before we jump into Bible study. I love everyone in my group; we're the perfect fit. :) This week our hosts voted for chili and we were supposed to bring sides. I wasn't sure what went with chili besides cornbread, but I didn't want to be boring. ;) So I jumped on Pinterest and found this recipe gem from Oh Bite It! I was a little concerned about handling jalapeños after reading some of the comments about it getting sprayed on faces and in eyes, but I donned some rubber gloves and went to work. It was relatively easy, and they were a HUGE hit! (My fiancé may or may not have been snacking on them in the car ride over; I was glad there was some left.) ;)  

Cornbread Stuffed Jalapeños

 

Ingredients

12 medium jalapeños 1-12oz box cornbread mix (I used the gluten free Hodgson Mill box) 1-1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided 4 strips of cooked bacon, chopped 1 cup corn, canned or fresh (optional)

Directions

Wash the jalapeños, cut them in half length-wise and take out the seeds and veins. Leave the stems on. (You may want to wear gloves, and make sure you are pushing the knife or spoon AWAY from your body so that you don't get sprayed in the face with hot juice! If you do get sprayed, coconut oil greatly helps.) ;) Place the jalapeños on a cookie sheet and set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix up the cornbread mix according to the directions on the box. (Mine required eggs, milk, and oil.) Add 1 cup of the cheese. Put in a ziplock bag, cut off the corner, and pipe the mixture into the jalapeños. Sprinkle bacon bits on top and use the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese to cover the top of each jalapeño.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and cornbread looks firm. They taste best when served warm.

They weren't overly spicy because I took the seeds and veins out. If you leave out the bacon, make sure you add some sort of salty seasoning to make up for it.

 

Gluten Free Lasagna

20140325-194744.jpg Going gluten free isn't as bad as you might think. There's so many stores that are accommodating. I was in Albertsons and there was little tags sticking off the price tags of gluten free items. It's so much easier to shop! One thing that has been great as a little extra goodie is gluten free, rice noodles. They are more pricey than regular pasta noodles, so I don't cook with them too often.

Last night's gluten free dish was lasagna. It was delicious and relatively easy. It did take a while to cook, but it was well worth the wait. This could be prepped ahead of time and refrigerated until it's ready to be baked too. The nice thing about this recipe is that you can use however much you have. The recipe I used from www.celiac-disease.com said to use 2 jars of sauce and 2-3 bags of mozzarella. I just used 1-1/2 small bags of mozzarella and 1 large jar of sauce. It was still delicious. ;)

Ingredients 1 box of gluten free lasagna rice noodles 1 large jar of gluten free pasta sauce (Prego makes some) 1 large bag of mozzarella 1lb cooked ground beef 1 container of low fat cottage cheese

Directions 1. If you have to cook your noodles ahead of time, do that according to the directions. My noodles were no-cook so I skipped this step. 2. Cook the ground beef and drain the fat. 3. Mix in 3/4 of the jar of sauce, half the mozzarella, and all the cottage cheese to the beef. 4. Pour the rest of the sauce in the bottom of a 9x13" pan. 5. Place a layer of noodles on the sauce. 6. Add 1/3 of the meat mixture on the noodles. 7. Add 1/3 of the remaining mozzarella. 8. Repeat 3 times, but don't add the final layer of cheese. 9. Bake lasagna at 350 degrees for 1 hour. 10. Top with remaining cheese and leave in oven until the cheese melts.

Clean Eating

I don't know when this switch happened, but I suddenly started to like doing research. I think it might have started with a piqued curiosity about essential oils when I saw results and wanted everyone to know how wonderful they were and why they worked. This trail led me to a discovery on how many health issues are related to gut issues and that the oils should be used in combination with a healthy diet. I also learned how white flour and white sugar are huge culprits in the gut issues that plague us. So after all this research I decided it was time to stop looking and start doing. I had to start slow because I needed reassurance that it was doable and wasn't going to break the bank. I started with breakfast.

Green smoothies.

My fiancé gets a lot of kale, lettuce, and spinach in his Urban Fresh Delivery box every other week--more than we ever manage to eat. I've heard of green smoothies for a while, but I'm kind of picky, and was sure I'd be able to taste the veggies. When Jamba Juice came out with their Kale-ribbean smoothie, I decided to try it to see if I could taste the kale. Nope. Not a hint of it, so I told myself to get over the color and try it out myself. This is when I discovered pre-packaged smoothies. (Thank you, Adventures in Mindful Living!) I tried it for a week when I was pet sitting for my fiancé and had all those fruits and veggies to keep from going bad.

It was the easiest thing in the world, and 9/10 tasted delicious. 😉 Making smoothies with veggies does take some trial by error, but here's some tips I learned. 1. Unsweetened coconut and almond milk by Blue Diamond adds a wonderful flavor to cover some of the veggies tastes. 2. If you make a smoothie and it doesn't taste very good, add some flavored yogurt. 3. The amount of milk you add determines the consistency. I like thicker smoothies, so I only use about 1/2 a cup of milk. 1 cup of milk makes it more liquid. So if that floats your boat, go for it. 😏 4. A little avocado goes a long way. 5. You can't taste a boiled beet in a fruit smoothie. (I purposely wasn't looking at which bag I grabbed each morning because I didn't want to know which one had the beet in it, but when I got to the last day, it wasn't in there. I had apparently already had it earlier in the week and had no clue!) 6. There is no need for ice if you freeze all your smoothie ingredients ahead of time. 7. Always blend the leafy veggies in the milk first, and then add the rest.

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Here's my typical pre-bagged recipe: 1 cup of fruit. (I usually do an assortment of berries and banana, but I've also tried mangos, oranges, and apples.) 1/2 cup kale (Make sure this goes at the top of the bag) 1/4 cup oats 1 T flax seeds or nuts or nut butter 1 extra veggies (boiled beet, 1/4 avocado, avocado, etc)

Zip it up and store it in the freezer. In the morning, dump the leafy greens in the blender, then add milk to the 1/2 or 1 cup line depending on your consistency preference. Blend till the leaves are all chopped up. Then dump in the rest of your baggie and blend.

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After a week of these for breakfast, which filled me up until past lunch time (my kindergarten class eats at 11, and I was hungry around 12), I lost 3lbs. The next week when I added in gluten free and sugar free eating, I lost three more. It was pretty amazing. Gluten free eating has been a journey of its own. I am still in search of a bread that isn't as heavy as a brick. 😝 But I have been grateful for the plethora of resources on Pinterest. And guess what? It's actually pretty easy and doesn't break the bank!

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Tonight, I prepped a smoothie with strawberry, banana, blueberries, flax seed, oats, and kale. I made salad in a jar with olives, grape tomatoes, carrots, boiled egg, cheese, and lettuce. And I tried a gluten free pizza crust withe homemade sauce.

It feels good when you eat right. It's a good bandwagon to get on.

Chicken and Roasted Vegetable Soup

This soup was amazing! Let me tell you something about myself; I rarely get seconds when I'm eating a meal. It's part of how I monitor my portion control. (An exception is my mom's crab cakes...those I have been known to eat seconds and thirds!) I got seconds of this delightful soup.

Let me tell you something about my fiancé; he's a very hard grader when it comes to the taste of a meal (Once after claiming a meal I made was good, and I went to enter the rating on Paprika, he told me it was a 3/5 star recipe. WHAT?! I still love you, Sweetheart!) ;)

Let me tell you another something about my husband to be; he also has been known to refuse eating leftovers for at least 3 days after having it for dinner. (Me on the other hand find leftovers to be one of the more exciting parts of a meal...I don't have to make my lunch tomorrow!? SCORE!!) He had this soup for lunch at work the next day.

So when I tell you this soup is amazing; I really mean it. You HAVE to make this soup! My wonderful mom posted the link on my Facebook. My wonderful mother-in-law-to-be made it before I had a chance to and made some amazing claims about it as well. So when my future hubby came home feeling sick this week, I knew it was time to be the Jewish woman that I am and make him soup so he would feel better.

Chicken and Roasted Vegetable Soup

Recipe Courtesy of Danielle Walker at Against All Grain 

Ingredients
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and cubed*
  • ½ yellow onion, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups chicken stock, store-bought or homemade
  • 2-3 cups leftover shredded chicken or 1 pound uncooked chicken breasts
  • ¾ teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon cracked pepper
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • *For SCD, eliminate the sweet potato and increase the butternut squash to 2.5 cups
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Toss the vegetables in the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  3. Meanwhile, bring the chicken stock to a simmer in a large stockpot. Add the chicken, herbs, and salt and pepper. Cover and cook while the vegetables are roasting, about 15 minutes. For raw chicken breasts, cook for about 45 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and tender enough to shred with a fork.
  4. Add half the vegetables to the soup, and place the other half in a blender. Make sure to put all of the onions quarters into the blender. Puree the vegetables with the 1 cup of water.
  5. Add the vegetable puree and baby spinach to the soup. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the spinach is wilted and the soup is hot. Adjust seasonings to your taste.

Christmas Crunch Popcorn

It all started with a trip to the Container Store. Who doesn't love that place?? We almost were going to do a wedding registry there, but there aren't that many locations, and we didn't think we should register at more than 2 places. ;) While perusing, I found some adorable candy cane striped take out boxes, perfect for a Christmas treat. And I just had to buy them. So then I had to decide what to make to put in them, and I enlisted the help of Pinterest (of course). Thanks to Cooking Classy with a Sprinkle of Fancy, I discovered the easiest, most festive, and delicious popcorn recipe! Here it is for your own cooking pleasure:

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup popping popcorn kernels, or 2 bags tender white popcorn
  • 2 (12 oz) bags Vanilla Candy Melts (such as Wilton Candy Melts)
  • 2-2/3 cups broken pretzel pieces
  • 1 (12 oz) bag green and red, milk M&Ms
  • Red, green and white Sprinkles

Directions

  • Pop popcorn in a popcorn popper into a large bowl (or alternately in the microwave if using microwave bags of popcorn) according to manufactures directions. Remove any unpopped popcorn kernels. Toss in broken pretzel pieces and M&Ms (not too much because they will sink right to the bottom of the bowl!).
  • Melt Vanilla Candy Melts in a microwave safe bowl on 50% power in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval until melted and smooth. Drizzle half of melted chips over popcorn mixture, then stir, tossing gently a few times with a rubber spatula. Then drizzle remaining half of melted chips over popcorn, and gently stir mixture until evenly coated (don't over stir though or your sprinkles won't stick if the white chips begin to set and harden). Pour mixture into a single layer onto wax paper. Sprinkle entire mixture evenly with sprinkles (as many as you'd like) before vanilla chips set. Allow to cool and harden, then gently break into pieces and store in an airtight container.

I was able to fill 20 Container Store boxes with this recipe.

To finish off this holiday edition of delight, here's some Christmas cheer for you from me and my fiancé. Hope you have a lovely Christmas season filled with joy and laughter in the simple joys of life! :)

Crockpot Green Bean Casserole

On Monday we had a potluck at work with the theme "Thanksgiving Foods." I think it's a little strange to do that right before a holiday that stages itself around a big meal. But maybe that's just because I don't like eating holiday foods more than once. I waited and waited to write on the sign up sheet what I was bringing so I could be inspired, but that wasn't very helpful. I ended up being left with sweet potato casserole or green bean casserole--both dishes that need to be served hot to be properly enjoyed. Now, I should probably let you into one of my quirks to better understand my frustration. I feel very strongly that if I'm going to take time and put in effort to cook something delicious, then it is only fair that others enjoy it as it is meant to be enjoyed. If I cook a food that is meant to be eaten hot, then I can get pretty irritable if you sit around working on something else while your plate of food gets cold. (Thankfully, my fiancé is quite patient with me and my idiosyncrasies!) Because of my picky nature when it comes to my cooking, I wasn't thrilled about making either casserole dishes. I decided to call on Pinterest to help me find one that could be easily made in the crockpot.

Lo and behold, I discovered a recipe for crockpot green bean casserole on Passion for Savings. Her recipe was a little vague, so I thought I'd share with you what I did in hopes that you'll find clarity in your cooking of this delicious, easy, and popular potluck item!

Ingredients:

4 - 8oz cans of French Style Green Beans 2 - 8oz cans of Cream of Mushroom Soup 1 cup of Milk (I used skim) 1/2 Tsp Black Pepper 2 Cups of French’s Fried Onions

Directions:

Combine green beans, soup, milk, and pepper in your crockpot and stir. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours or low for 4 hours. Stir once or twice halfway through cooking so the top/edges don't burn. Top with onions and cook for 30 more minutes on high heat.

This recipe turns out a little soupier than when I bake it in the oven, but it still tasted delicious and was so easy and convenient. When the oven is being used for other important dishes like turkey, pie, and sweet potatoes, it's nice to have a different way of cooking some other sides.

Yogurt Fruit Bowl

This is as easy as it looks, and did I mention it's healthy and delicious? Yep, winning! All you need is a small melon, some yogurt, granola, and nuts--all customized to your taste and voila! It's done. You've got breakfast or lunch ready to go! 20130924-190042.jpg

Ingredients Small melon (I like honeydew or cantaloupe the best) Granola Yogurt (I used a yoplait) Nuts (cashews or almonds are my favorite)

Directions Cut the melon in half, and cover one side in plastic wrap for tomorrow's breakfast. Discard the seeds. Pour the yogurt in the middle hole remaining. (I put in half the yogurt and refill when I've eaten some of the melon away.) Sprinkle with granola and nuts. Bon appetite!

Pizza from Scratch

If I had the time, I would make everything from scratch--bread, desserts, sauces, etc. It's not always convenient to do so, but I think it always tastes better. It's typically cheaper too, in the long run. If you think along the same lines as I do, then stay tuned. I have discovered an awesome pizza dough and sauce recipe that is quick and easy, and it tastes DELICIOUS!! I must confess that this recipe adventure began with store-bought dough. (gasp!) I was at Fresh & Easy and poked around in the markdown shelf since they have to get rid of their fresh stuff that expires unless it's frozen, which they won't do. I stumbled upon a garlic and herb pizza dough for $0.39. (Score!) I said, "Oh yeah!" like my Kindergartners do when they get a 1-second party for good behavior, and snatched it up to stick in my freezer, (which I am by no means opposed to doing unlike F&E).

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Now with this dough came the need to get some sauce. Fresh & Easy failed me in this department as easily as it won me in the next. They had no pizza sauce (that I could find), only marinara, which we all know is much too wet for pizza. I recalled the early days of making pizza when it was my turn to cook dinner over summer vacation (yes, I had to cook dinner when I was a kid, and yes, I am eternally grateful that I knew the basics of cooking when I hit college, and yes, I will probably make my kids do the same thing). All I could remember from that recipe was I needed tomato paste and oregano. I knew I had essential oil oregano if we didn't have it in the spice cabinet, and I grabbed some paste on my way out--determining to Pinterest my way around to a pizza sauce recipe that used it when I got home.

Pinterest did not disappoint. Barefoot and Baking saved the day with a recipe that included everything I had on hand. It was a cinch to make and tasted delicious!

PIZZA SAUCE Ingredients

1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 T dried oregano
1/2 t garlic powder
1 t paprika
1/2 T dried basil
1/2 t sugar
1/2 t onion powderDirections Mix it all together, and it's ready to go! (Told you it was easy.)

For me, this sauce kept fine in the refrigerator for a week, covered with plastic wrap. Just give it a stir, and it's ready for another round! I don't like a ton of sauce, just enough to get the toppings to stick. So this recipe made enough for three, medium pizzas for me. It'd probably be good for two, medium pizzas for you. ;)

Because I was left with extra sauce that I didn't want to waste, I then needed a pizza dough recipe to make more pizza! Pinterest to the rescue!! Baked by Rachel for the win!
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CORNMEAL PIZZA DOUGH Ingredients

3/4C warm water 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar 2Tbsp olive oil 2C all purpose flour 1/2C cornmeal 1 tsp salt

Directions

Proof your yeast in a measuring cup with warm water and sugar. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes. Add olive oil.

Mix together salt, cornmeal and flour. Add liquid ingredients. Mix until dough forms a ball and pulls away from the side of the bowl.

Shape into a ball. Cover and allow to rise in a warm location until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Shape dough into desired shape on a lightly greased baking sheet. Add desired toppings (we like to use lots of veggies from our Urban Fresh Delivery Box...peppers, onions, mushrooms, olives, tomatoes, etc.) and bake for 12-15 minutes. Slice and serve warm.

Proofing the yeast ahead of time made this an even easier dough to make. It came out so puffy. This dough takes 10 minutes to make, and you can make it the night before so it's ready to go for dinner the next day. I put it in the fridge in the morning until I was ready for it later. A way to get it to rise extra is to roll it out and put it on the pan an hour before you're ready to cook it. But honestly, this recipe didn't really need it. It was still very puffy when used to make a medium pizza.

Tonight's masterpiece pizza included this sauce and dough topped with black beans, corn, mozzarella, cheddar, avocado, grape tomatoes, pepperoncini, black olives, and red onion.

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Microwave vs No-Cook vs Stovetop Play Dough

I'm sure you've seen how many different ways there are to make play dough. To skip straight to my recipe, click here! I always whip up a batch for the new school year to use for centers, and this year I ran into a problem: I didn't save the recipe I used the year before. Due to this unfortunate circumstance, I ventured onto Pinterest to try and find a suitable recipe. I was immediately spoiled for choice, which was a bit overwhelming. What used to be a one choice project (what color should I make), quickly became a questionnaire.

Do you want to cook it? Do you want it to smell like pumpkin or gingerbread? Which recipe that claims to be the best is really the best? Do you want edible play dough? Will this attract ants? Do you want to store it at room temperature or not? Oh yeah, and what color do you want?

Not really knowing where to start led me to decide no-cook would be easiest and normal smelling dough would be best so nobody tried to eat it. I picked the first no-cook recipe that I found claiming to be the best where people had commented about making it successfully.

No-Cook Playdough

It was an epic fail. I think the main problem was that it didn't call for hot water. The play dough turned out okay at first though I had to use double the amount of flour it called for because I couldn't get it to be not sticky. It firmed up in the fridge but when I brought it out to let my students play with it, it was a disaster. Think cookie dough consistency and the smell of uncooked pizza dough. The kids were squealing about how slimy it was and it kept dripping, yes dripping, off their fingers onto the table, floor, chairs, you name it. It took me 20 minutes to clean it up after the class had left for the day.

This weekend led me to attempt number two. I vowed that I would only use a stovetop version, which I know works. But once again Pinterest bombarded me with so many choices that I got distracted from my goal. I discovered you can cook the play dough in the microwave instead of the stove. I told myself that would work just as well. I was still cooking it, and I could just zap it in the microwave instead of standing over a pot and stirring nonstop.

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This one worked better than the cold water no-cook nonsense I tried last time. However, it cooked too much on the outside and not enough on the inside. I ended up scooping the inside part into a pot and finishing it on the stove. Then I had to knead it with a lot of flour because it was too sticky. The end result was less play dough with a dried out look, not to mention a very dirty bowl with hard play dough stuck to the edges. The recipe didn't say how you can tell when it's done either, which I think was part of the problem.

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Finally, I tried it the good old fashion way which I should have done from the get go. Guess what? It worked. It was beautiful, not sticky, smooth, and easy. I'm kicking myself for not doing it this way from the start.

So, to sum it up: which kind of play dough is the best kind to make? The original kind. Don't fix what ain't broke.

20130921-234653.jpgStovetop versus microwave

Here's my recipe, adapted from Blossoms and Posies:

Ingredients 1 cup flour 1/2 cup salt 1 teaspoon cream of tartar 1 tablespoon oil 1 cup water 4 drops food coloring

Directions Mix together dry ingredients. Add food coloring to water and stir to combine. Add to dry ingredients with oil and whisk to combine. Dump in pot and stir constantly with wooden spoon over medium heat until one solid lump of dough is formed. Knead it a couple times as needed when cool enough to handle. Store in air tight container at room temperature.

20130921-234808.jpgStovetop with a wooden spoon keeps itself from sticking to the pan.

20130921-234853.jpgFinally finished!

Cheesy, Baked Spaghetti Squash

We got a couple spaghetti squashes from our Urban Delivery box, and I was really excited to try out a couple recipes. I've never eaten spaghetti squash before and was amazed at how easy it was to make it look stringy like spaghetti! I made two recipes at once, placing the casserole version in the fridge for a later date. It kept well, and I was so relieved to have it to throw in the oven after a really long day of working in my classroom! Here's the casserole version I made. If you want to save it for later in the week, just cover it and put it in the fridge after you top it with cheese. IMG_0603

Cheesy Spaghetti Squash Casserole

1 medium spaghetti squash 2 tablespoons butter 1 small yellow onion, cut in half and very thinly sliced ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more if you like it spicy 1 teaspoon fresh thyme ½ cup sour cream ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Cut the spaghetti squash in half and remove the seeds. Place in a covered dish with a ¼ inch of water and microwave for 10 -12 minutes. In a medium sized skillet over medium heat, add the butter, onions, red pepper and thyme and cook until the onions are slightly brown in color. Salt and pepper to taste. Using a fork, scrape the insides of the squash and transfer to a small bowl. Combine the squash, onions, sour cream and half the cheese together and mix well. Transfer the mixture to a buttered baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Place into a 375º for 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown on top.

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Tilapia Tostadas with Roasted Corn Relish

It was a use up the veggies and frozen tilapia night. This turned out messy but quite tasty. The green salsa wasn't very spicy, so I added siracha on top at the end. I'm not huge on spicy things. Siracha actually burns my mouth. But this needed a bit of a kick. I usually burn tortillas when I cook them, but this broil method worked great! Thanks to myrecipes.com for the recipe! IMG_0610

Serves 4 (2 tostadas each)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/4 cup green salsa
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup yellow corn kernels
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced seeded jalapeño pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 cup diced peeled avocado
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 pounds tilapia fillets, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil, divided
  • 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • 1 cup packaged angel hair slaw
  • Lime wedges (optional)
  • Siracha for added spiciness

Directions

1. Combine sour cream and salsa.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add corn, bell pepper, onion, jalapeño, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to pan; sauté 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove mixture from pan; wipe pan clean with paper towels. Combine avocado and juice; toss gently. Stir avocado mixture into corn mixture.

3. Preheat broiler.

4. Sprinkle fish evenly with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Place cornmeal in a shallow dish; dredge fish in cornmeal. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add half of fish to pan; cook 3 minutes. Carefully turn fish over; cook 2 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil and fish.

5. Coat both sides of tortillas with cooking spray. Arrange tortillas in a single layer on baking sheets; broil 2 minutes on each side or until crisp. Place 2 tortillas on each of 4 plates. Arrange 2 tablespoons slaw on each tortilla. Divide fish evenly among tortillas; top each serving with about 3 tablespoons corn relish and about 1 1/2 tablespoons sour cream mixture. Serve with lime wedges and drizzle with siracha, if desired.