Tzatziki

IMG_3071

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.

IMG_3070

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.

IMG_3077

 

 

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.

IMG_2390

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!

img_0990img_0998img_1003

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.

IMG_6643 IMG_6642-1

Cut dough into desired shapes.

IMG_6648-1

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.

IMG_6650-1 IMG_6651-1

FullSizeRender-4

 

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

IMG_3580

 

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.

IMG_3588

 

 

 

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.

IMG_20130801_165936

 

 

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…

IMG_20130801_171652

 

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?

IMG_20130619_131957

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.

IMG_20130610_110329

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

IMG_20130617_105630

  • 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.

IMG_20130612_101849

  • 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.

IMG_20130617_094025

  • Sensory tubs. One water, one cornmeal. Motor skills at work.
  • IMG_20130619_095818IMG_20130619_094727
  • Tray activities.
IMG_20130613_103820
Animal play in dirt. The boys loved this.
IMG_20130613_103833
water colors on coffee filters. The colors bleed beautifully.
IMG_20130613_103903
Shaving cream with a little liquid water color. As they mix, the color blends. Fun to watch their reaction.

IMG_20130613_103934

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

IMG_20130613_111705

Paleo Pizza #2

This pizza has an eggplant base crust. I will be honest when I first saw the recipe I hemmed and hawed and tried really hard to keep the negative thoughts to myself. I reminded myself It was Father’s day and this is what he wanted, so don’t be a bitch.

This crust was pretty easy to make, peel an eggplant, grate it, squeeze out the liquid and mix in a few more ingredients…done.  I followed this recipe for the measurements and ingredients  but when it came to cooking it I more or less followed the cauliflower crust recipe. The two crust recipes were so different in cooking temperature and time but I was pretty sure they didn’t need to be and I was right. I cooked the eggplant crust on a slightly higher heat for a shorter amount of time and it was fine. I did however flip the crust over in the middle of cooking like the original recipe suggested, didn’t want to get too crazy.

I was highly surprised by how good this was as a crust. As Shane said, “you wouldn’t want to make bread sticks out of this”. Alone is has a slightly bitter flavor so use this for a pizza with strong flavors. I put caramelized onions, goat cheese, arugula, prosciutto, tomatoes and basil and it was delish. The sweetness of the onions is amazing with goat cheese…just saying.

IMG_20130616_120245

Eggplant Crust

1 eggplant, peeled and grated

1/4 cup Almond meal

1/4 cup Flax seed meal

1 egg, beaten

salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Grate eggplant with a cheese grater, discarding the skin.

Place grated eggplant in a clean dish towel, and squeeze over a sink to remove excess liquid.

Pour grated eggplant into a large mixing bowl.

Add in the flax meal and almond meal.

Whisk egg in a smaller bowl and add to batter.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Mix until ingredients are evenly combined.

Pour out batter onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Smooth batter out with hands into a thin layer about 1/8 inch thick.

Bake for 10-13 minutes or until golden brown, then remove the crust from oven.

Lightly grease another piece of parchment paper with olive oil, and place on top of crust. Carefully flip the crust and then slowly peel off the parchment paper from the bottom side.

Brush the flipped side lightly with olive oil. { I used garlic infused olive oil }

Return to oven and cook 8-10 minutes until golden brown and edges are crisp.

Now you can add your topping and pop back into the oven until cheese in melted 7-10 minutes.

IMG_20130616_123341

Paleo Pizzas {Pizza #1}

What do you get a man that doesn’t need anything? That is what I always struggle with when it comes to buying Shane {or my dad for that matter } a gift. So for Father’s day I told Shane I would make him anything he wanted for dinner, he decided on Paleo pizza. I made two, one with a cauliflower crust and one with an eggplant crust, both with the same toppings. I thought it would be easier to decide which crust was better if the toppings were the same.

So, were they good? Yes, the cauliflower crust has a really good flavor but it is delicate and can’t hold a lot of toppings. You have to make sure you squeeze all of the water out of the cauliflower or it will take forever to cook. The edges get crispy and you can taste the cheese, yum. We didn’t have any leftovers but I don’t think this crust will hold up well over time.

The eggplant crust is easier to make and like the cauliflower you need to make sure to squeeze all of the water out, I had Shane help, man hands are better at this. This crust is sturdier and crispier than the other and overall resembled more of a “real” pizza crust. The eggplant crust is  the better of the two with toppings but alone it had a slightly bitter taste.

So if I had to choose, I would use the eggplant crust with a pizza that has a lot of strong tasting toppings and the cauliflower crust for a more mellow pizza like the Margherita or plain cheese.

These are the toppings I used.

No sauce just some garlic and olive oil.

Mozzarella + Parmesan + Goat cheese

Prosciutto, caramelized onions, fresh arugula and fresh basil { I added some chopped tomatoes on pizza #2 }

Cauliflower Crust  I used this recipe and it was spot on.

IMG_20130615_170959

1 small to medium sized head of cauliflower – should yield 2 to 3 cups once processed
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil (crush it even more between your fingers)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (crust it even more between you fingers)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
optional a few shakes of crushed red pepper
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
1 egg
optional 1 tablespoon almond meal

Place a pizza stone in the oven, or baking sheet if you don’t have a pizza stone. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a cutting board, place a large piece of parchment paper and spray it with nonstick cooking oil.

Wash and throughly dry a small head of cauliflower. Don’t get one the size of your head unless you are planning on making 2 pizzas. Cut off the florets, you don’t need much stem. Just stick with the florets. Pulse in your food processor for about 30 seconds, until you get powdery snow like cauliflower. See above photo. You should end up with 2 to 3 cups cauliflower “snow”. Place the cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl and cover. Microwave for 4 minutes. Dump cooked cauliflower onto a clean tea towel and allow to cool for a bit before attempting the next step.

Once cauliflower is cool enough to handle, wrap it up in the dish towel and ring the heck out of it. You want to squeeze out as much water as possible. This will ensure you get a chewy pizza like crust instead of a crumbly mess.

Dumped ringed out cauliflower into a bowl. Now add 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon dried basil (crush up the leaves even more between your fingers before adding), 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (crush up the leaves even more between your fingers before adding), 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt), and a dash of red pepper if you want. I also added 1 tablespoon almond meal because my cauliflower yielded closer to 2 cups of cauli snow, this is optional and I would not add the almond meal if you have closer to 3 cups of cauli snow. Now add your egg and mix away. Hands tend to work best.

Once mixed together, use your hands to form the dough into a crust on your oiled parchment paper. Pat it down thoroughly, you want it nice and tightly formed together. Don’t make it too thick or thin either.
Using a cutting board slide the parchment paper onto your hot pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 8 – 11 minutes, until it starts to turn golden brown. Remove from oven.
Add your toppings and then slide parchment with topped pizza back in the hot oven and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes until the cheese is melted, bubbly, and slightly golden.
Allow to cool for a few minutes then cut and serve.
IMG_20130615_173822

Easy Homemade Play-dough

In all honestly it’s been years since I have made play dough, I always seemed to have an abundance of store bought tucked away. But my classroom was in dire need of some and instead of buying it I thought I would make some because it is so easy . Chances are you have all the ingredients in your pantry but if for some reason you don’t have cream of tartar at home or if you have never heard of it, it is a baking item and you can find it next to the spices. It is not tartar sauce, don’t be that person.

Recipe

1 cup white flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tablespoon cream of tartar (find it in the spice section)
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup water
food coloring

Mix the first 4 ingredients in a pan, then add the water, mix well.IMG_20130611_145107

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 3 – 5 minutes {took me closer to 3 minutes} The dough will become difficult to stir and form a big clump.  Remove from stove and knead by hand for 5 minutes.

IMG_20130611_145332 IMG_20130611_145758

Add the food coloring during the kneading process, enough to reach your desired shade. Keep Play dough  stored in a covered plastic container or plastic  bag.

Unsaved Preview Document