Tzatziki

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When I was younger, Trader Joe’s Tzatziki was a staple in my refrigerator. As I have gotten older and really learned my way around the kitchen, I found it’s much more delicious homemade. As most things are.

A creamy greek yogurt sauce with garlic and cucumber, its a great partner to a lot of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes. Or to just dunk a warm piece of pita bread in.

I used this as a topping to some chicken shawarma pitas. Easy to make there is really no excuse to buy it, sorry Trader Joe’s.

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INGREDIENTS

3/4 English cucumber, peeled and grated

4 to 5 garlic cloves, peeled, finely minced

1 tbs lemon juice

2 tbs chopped fresh dill

1 tbs GOOD Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 cups Greek yogurt

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Directions

After the cucumber is grated allow to sit in a fine mesh strainer, sprinkle with a dusting of kosher salt and let sit, this will bring out the moisture in the cucumber.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt,  garlic, lemon juice and dill. Season with salt and pepper. Chill.

Squeeze as much liquid out of the cucumber as you can using cheese cloth, dish towel or aheavy duty paper towel. Add to the yogurt mixture and combine well. Chill until ready . Drizzle with olive oil before serving.

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Tomato Galette with Honey, Goat Cheese and Caramelized Shallots

I have made a few versions of a tomato tart but I have to say that as much as I love puff pastry, it’s hard to beat a good pastry crust. Now….don’t freak out and go buy a refrigerated pie dough. It takes less than 10 minutes and you have everything you need in your kitchen. If you don’t have flour, butter and salt on hand, then maybe you shouldn’t be making a recipe with the word “galette” in it, you catch my drift?

Galette is a French word describing a free form pie or pastry, basically saving you time and effort of fitting the dough perfectly into a pie tin. Also allowing you to pull off a fancy yet rustic and mouthwatering dish without much effort.

These ingredients all together make the perfect meal to kick off summer. Don’t forget your glass of wine.

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Ingredients

PASTRY DOUGH

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 to 5 tablespoons ice water

FILLING

4 Shallots, diced (about 1 cup)

2 tsps Extra Virgin Olive Oil + more for drizzling

8 oz Goat Cheese

2 – 3 Tbs Honey

3 – 4 Heirloom Tomatoes, sliced

1/2 tsp Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

2 Tbs Fresh Thyme

1 Large Egg, beaten

Directions

Blend together flour, butter, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender  just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps.

Drizzle 3 tablespoons ice water evenly over mixture and gently stir with a fork until incorporated.

When the dough begins to hold together (If it doesn’t hold together, add more ice water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, stirring  until incorporated, then check again)  turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface.

Gather the dough and gather into a ball and then shape into a flattened disc. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least one hour.

While the dough chills, in a skillet combine shallots and 2 tsp of olive oil. Saute over medium-high heat until shallots are lightly caramelized (about 10 minutes), then remove from heat to cool.

Preheat oven to 375F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper, sprinkling the top with a touch of flour.

Using  a floured rolling-pin, roll out the chilled dough into a 1/8″ thick sheet, then transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet. Crumble goat cheese in all over the rolled-out dough but leaving a rough 2 inch border along the edges. Drizzle a good serving of honey over goat cheese, then evenly top with caramelized shallots. Layer the sliced tomatoes over the goat cheese and honey and then liberally season them with salt and pepper. Give a good drizzle of additional olive oil over the tomatoes, and then sprinkle with the thyme.

Fold up the edges of the pastry dough around the tomatoes, then brush the crust with the beaten egg. Bake galette for 45 minutes to 1 hour until the crust is golden and the tomatoes have begun to char, then cool for 10 minutes before serving.

 

 

 

 

Israeli Style Hummus

I love hummus, we all love hummus. I pay way too much on store bought brands so I started making my own. As much as I love to make meals from scratch, avoid the big chains, drink local coffee and support small businesses, I am also human. I have been using gasp canned garbanzo beans for my hummus. Okay, canned is still better than say, Sabra’ right? I even used a packaged hummus mix that had everything but the beans and it was pretty darn good. This time I wanted to really make hummus, legit Israeli hummus.         I used Bon Appetit’s recipe found here.

It’s no more work than using canned beans and it’s cheaper, win win!

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I am not sure it tasted too much different than using canned beans but it was definitely creamier. No reason to look back, no reason to buy store bought. Next time I am going to throw in cilantro and a few serrano’s, actually I am going to do that now.

Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

This was my go to recipe for years when I was teaching. Each year I would make a couple batches, let the kids choose their cookie cutter shapes, decorate them and then send them home for a little Christmas gift for mom and dad. My classroom smelled good the entire month of December.

Now that Kaili is old enough, she can pretty much make these on her own. She enjoyed the glitter the best, they always do…the messier the better.

If you are going to make these in your classroom and don’t have access to an oven, they will air dry, it will just take a few days. (Hint-make them on a Friday)

Also, if you don’t want to make ornaments you can turn them into magnets by hot glueing a small magnet on the back once they are dry.

1 cup applesauce

1 cup cinnamon

cookie cutters

glue or paint

glitter or glitter glue

skewer, straw or chopstick- something to make a hole for ribbon or string.

Mix the applesauce and cinnamon together until a dough is formed.

Sprinkle cinnamon on workspace and then roll out the dough.

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Cut dough into desired shapes.

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Cook in preheated oven at 200 degrees for 2 hours (or let air dry for a couple of days)

Once cool, decorate your little hearts out. Once dry, add a ribbon or string and voila, a lovely smelling ornament.

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DIY Insect Repellent Candles

We spend a lot of time in the backyard during summer but the flies are out.of.control. Last year we bought some fly repellant candles from Home Depot. Instead of tossing them and getting new ones we decided to make our own.

Michaels crafts should have everything you need but the candle making items were scarce when I went. I ended up finding some oil at Sprouts and ordering wicks on Amazon, but it should be a one stop shop…should.

I used Citronella and Lavender oils because that is what Google told me flies hate the most.

I also forgo the wick holder and used my husbands hand but in all actuality the wicks stood up on their own, so it wasn’t a problem.

What you need

Wax bits- Soy, Beeswax or leftover candles

Wicks

Container for your candles

Essential oils

Wooden spoon

Glass bowl

Wax or Parchment paper

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Making these was a lot easier than I thought. All you need to do is…

Melt the wax in glass bowl over a double boiler.

While the wax is melting, put the wick in the container you are going to use.

When the wax is completely melted, remove from heat and stir in your essential oils. I used about 4 drops of each.

Pour wax into container being careful not to knock over the wick.

Continue until you have made all your candles.

Allow to cool until completely solid. Now you are ready to ward off those nasty bugs.

* I bought some lavender leaves to sprinkle on top as a decoration but they pooled together, not exactly what I was going for.

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Kid Food, Will They Eat It?

After an evening Costco run I found myself running around like a crazy person trying to get all the crap put away, and the artichokes prepared and cooking then it dawned on me I probably needed to feed the kid. She wasn’t going to gnaw on a pork chop so I rummaged through the fridge to see what I could pawn off on her. I saw a lonely turkey hot dog and remembered an idea I saw on Pinterest ages ago. Get ready to be blown away.

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Who ever came up with this was either brilliant or totally bored. I pushed the dry spaghetti noodles through cut up hot dogs and threw them into a pot of boiling water. 9 minutes later…

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Voila! I was pretty sure Kaili wasn’t going to eat this but I felt a sense of accomplishment for even attempting it.  She picked at it but was much happier with her artichoke. Maybe in another year?

Kaili Days and a Phone Dump

It’s week three at school for us and things are great. She’s adjusted fine, she is excited to go in the morning and will give me a hug and kiss and line up with her class all by herself, no tears. I’ve been told that she does great in the classroom. She is communicating well, can recognize her name and doesn’t have to be asked to follow directions. She even said “pee pee” and then  proceeded to go to the bathroom and sit on the potty.  We are moving in the right direction.
The only problem is she hasn’t been napping at school. So three out of seven days she goes without a nap, gets overtired and it just rolls into the next day and so on. She is waking up earlier than she ever has, no matter what time she goes to bed. You could say bedtime has become a shit storm. You don’t know how she will handle it. Some days when she naps at home she goes down just fine for bed at her regular time, other days she is up fighting it until 8:00 pm. On the days she doesn’t nap at school she is asleep by 6:30. There is no rhyme or reason. She was so used to her schedule and it’s all up in the air without those naps. BUT today, she napped! I don’t want to jinx it but I sure hope that this is the start of something beautiful. Even if we can get her a one hour nap, it’s bound to help…right?

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As for me, I just love being in the classroom. I love those 6 hours doing my own thing, knowing someone else is taking care of Kaili and I don’t have to worry about her.

  • Shaving cream on the table is not only a fun sensory activity for the kids but it will take off any dried glue, marker or crayon marks and paint. I like to do this at the end of class, it’s a great way to clean the tables! They can also practice writing their letters or make tracks with cars.

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  • Shape art. We were talking about transportation so they were making shape vehicles.

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  • Tracing. I needed to see where these kids were with their writing. I like to have them trace over a highlighter or a yellow marker. *If they need the help.

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  • Cutting. Another thing I wasn’t sure about. I had them cut on the black lines I drew, stopping at the dot. Also tells a lot about their ability to follow directions.

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  • Sensory tubs. One water, one cornmeal. Motor skills at work.
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  • Tray activities.
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Animal play in dirt. The boys loved this.
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water colors on coffee filters. The colors bleed beautifully.
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Shaving cream with a little liquid water color. As they mix, the color blends. Fun to watch their reaction.

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I was impressed with this train track they built. I wish I could have kept it there all week.

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