Farro, Watermelon, Tomato and Feta Salad

A few weeks back we had a very nice lunch in Little Italy. Aside from a couple of delicious pies we also ordered a farro, watermelon, tomato and feta salad with mint and arugula. It was AHmazing. I have been thinking about that salad ever since. I almost made it for Thanksgiving but wasn’t sure that was the best audience to try it out on. Safely back in my own kitchen, I set to work.

In all actuality it’s a fairly easy recipe. If you make the farro ahead of time then you shave 20 minutes off of your prep work. The end result is the perfect combination of sweet, salty, chewy, and a tad spicy, but the punch of mint is the real winner.

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1 cup whole grain  farro
2 cups medium dice heirloom tomatoes
2 cups medium dice watermelon
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil divided
4 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
2 cups baby arugula
6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled                                                                                                                             3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat, stir in farro, reduce heat to medium and simmer until farro is al dente, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, drain then spread onto a rimmed baking sheet to cool.

While the grains are cooling, make the rest of the salad. Combine tomatoes, watermelon, 1 tablespoons of the olive oil, a pinch of salt, and some freshly ground black pepper, stir then set aside until flavor is intensified, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Combine remaining olive oil and vinegar in a small jar, close, and shake until well combined. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper then mix with the cooled farro.

When tomato-watermelon mixture is ready, drain off any juices and add the mint then stir the mixture into the farro, add the arugula and feta and stir through. Serve immediately.

*recipe adapted from Aida Mollenkamps Salt & Wind

Easy Homemade Gak recipe

Kaili likes to watch Creative Galaxy and after each episode her creativity is sparked. She comes out wanting to cook or create. I thought about how I used to make Gak with my students and how easy it was. How come I haven’t done this with her yet?

We walked to the drugstore to pick up some of the ingredients. Once the littler one was in bed, we set out to make some homemade Gak.

This comes together in five minutes, it’s too easy.

Ingredients 

4 oz. school glue

1/2 cup water + 1/4 cup HOT water

1/2 teaspoon Borax

Food coloring

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Mix glue and 1/2 cup water in small bowl or container and mix well.

Add in food coloring if using.

Dissolve the borax in 1/4 cup of hot water. Mix until it’s completely dissolved.

Pore the borax water into the glue mixture.

Stir the Gak and watch as it changes into a solid mass. Knead the Gak for a bit until it’s no longer sticky and wet.

Voila!

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It’s a great sensory activity. Mesmerizing.

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Cooking Cravings- Butter Lettuce + Blue Cheese + Cayenne Candied Walnuts

I wanted to love this salad, with that….I make a whole hell of a lot of salads like this, I pick a lettuce, add a fruit, a cheese and a candied nut. Sometimes I throw spices on the nuts but I never make them spicy spicy.

It lost me with the lettuce. Butter lettuce is just too delicate, especially paired with crispy apple and nuts. Maybe grapes would be a better choice? Or just stick with a spring mix blend of lettuce and herbs. The other thing that didn’t work for me was the vinaigrette. It was a tad bitter, it need a bit of sweetness so next time I will add some honey.

All said and done, this is a good salad but for me who makes them daily, not good enough. Although the walnuts can be eaten every damn day, so good!

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Dressing Ingredients

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Salad

1 large head of butter or Boston lettuce, separated into leaves, larger leaves torn
Apple, halved and cut into thin slices- I used Fuji
1/2 small red onion, sliced into thin rings
1/2 cup cayenne-candied walnuts

In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, blue cheese, shallot, salt, and pepper.

In a salad bowl, combine the lettuce, apple, and onion. Drizzle in the dressing to taste, toss lightly, and top with the cayenne-candied walnuts.

 

See Food

Catalina offshore is a local seafood market. We were told about it by a neighbor and watched it make its debut on a travel channel show. I don’t know why it took us so long to make our appearance.

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We strolled in early on a Saturday morning side swiping the local chefs and fishermen. A cook behind an enormous stock pot was  handing out bowls of piping hot bouillabaisse while we waited for our order. We came for mussels but left with a side of snapper. I love a whole roasted fish, if it’s one the specials at a good restaurant, chances are that will be my choice.  But scaling and cleaning a whole fish and then worrying about cooking it has intimated me. But standing in front of this array of fish, I decided this was my time  to tackle the snapper.

First up, mussels. We had an amazing dish at a local seafood restaurant a few weeks back.The Mr and I love our shellfish and after 10 years I think we agreed that those mussels were indeed some of the best. I needed to replicate this dish!  After intense recipe research I chose a favorite blogger of mine and used this recipe. They turned out better than I imagined, the mussels were the plumpest and juiciest I have ever had and the coconut curry broth was drinkable, like pour in a glass and cheers!

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Then there was the Snapper. Since I hooked it on a whim, I really had no idea what I was going to do. I chose to keep it simple and let the fish shine. I grabbed some lemon, herbs and salt. I wrapped it in foil and roasted it,  at the end I let it sunbathe under the broiler for a minute.

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We delightfully dug in.

IMG_8778 Along side we enjoyed caprese and grilled artichokes with an aioli, never forgetting the crusty bread.

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It was some good eating!

Don’t Make Me

I was the last in the family to get hit with the cold and every.single.ounce of my energy has been sucked out of me. Four days and I don’t feel any better, when will it end?!

Kaili has been asking to go to the park everyday and everyday that sounds like the absolute worst idea, insert terrible mom here. Feeling guilty, I somehow gathered all my energy and worked on some crafts with the girls to make up for it.

Kaili worked on a marshmallow bunny, eating more than she glued. I had to refill the bowl a few times.

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Averi would sneak up, take one off the paper and pop it into her mouth before anything could be done.

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We also made Easter bunny headbands. My preschool teacher talents are wasting away so I figured I should put them to work. Kaili said she would help me but really she watched cartoons while demanding more food.

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I got a letter from her school stating that Thursday was their big Dr. Seuss party. They want us to make something “Suessical” for lunch. Wait, I just made 25 Red Fish, Blue Fish cupcakes for Dr. Suess’ birthday, and I don’t feel good, wah-waaa can I get a pass?

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In the midst of searching Pinterest for Suess like foods and creative outfits, it dawned on my that Sunday is Easter…What the holy hell?  While boiling eggs I decided to test run a hair-style on Kaili. Kicking and screaming aside, I think I can get this to work.

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It’s a Minnie mouse bow, not Dr. Suess but seriously it’s cute!

Now I have to spend the afternoon making some sort of silly snack that the kids probably won’t even eat because it looks funny. But on the plus side, soccer is canceled which means I can stay home in my sweats with snot dripping down my nose and nobody is going to care, there is a Jesus.

Shimmer Play-douh

Kaili ran out of Play-doh right before Christmas. Instead of buying more we decided it would be fun to make some of our own but with pizzazz.

It’s so easy to add play-doh to your cart and hit purchase on Amazon but it’s almost as easy to make your own. I used this tried and true recipe but we added a few drops of peppermint extract and a few, ok a lot of shakes of glitter.

*I find that the gel dye is much more vibrant, just make sure you don’t make the dough on a  beloved cutting board, it will stain.

IMG_6725IMG_6729I gotta say, one month later and the consistency is still great. Red and green mixed together don’t make the best looking color so it’s time to make some new colors.

Kaili spends time on the iPad at night watching video tutorials on play-dough activities. So if your child loves it as much as mine, this will save you some cash. Cha-Ching!

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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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