Recipes & Crafts

Apple Walnut and Gorgonzola Spring Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

This salad may not necessarily be kid friendly since my son isn't particularly fond of "stinky" cheeses (Gorgonzola in this case) but it is a yummy crowd-pleaser, and at this time of summer picnics, who couldn't use another fun and easy salad recipe. It's a great combination of sweet, sour, bitter, and salty flavors. I made this salad for our church picnic last week and my salad disappeared in five minutes! 

 

Apple Walnut and Gorgonzola Spring Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

 

Salad Ingredients:

1 cored and thinly sliced Granny Smith Apple

5-6 oz Spring Mix Salad blend 

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

4 oz crumbled Gorgonzola or Blue Cheese

 

Raspberry Vinaigrette Ingredients:

I cup of fresh raspberries

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup of aged balsamic vinegar (it's thicker and offers a more concentrated flavor)

1-2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard (1 tsp if you like your dressing with less "bite," 2 tsp if you like it with a little more zing)

2 teaspoons sugar (you may need more or less depending on the sweetness of your berries). Definitely do a taste taste before adding more sugar. 

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

 

For the dressing combine the raspberries, sugar, mustard, balsamic and apple cider vinegar in a blender. Blend until the mixture is smooth. Slowly blend in your oil until just combined. 

 

For the salad I prefer to layer versus toss the ingredients to make sure each person gets a little bit of everything. I start with a thin bed of Spring Mix and add a sprinkle of apple slices, walnuts, cheese, and a little raspberry vinaigrette. Repeat until all of the ingredients are used but make sure to save a few slices of apple, nuts, cheese, and dressing to decorate the top of the salad. After all, we eat with our eyes first. I hope you'll try making this salad for your friends and family soon. Enjoy!

HZM Segment on Parent University

The HZM segment on Parent University begins at the 7:20 mark where parents/caregivers can learn how to grow a bean plant in a cup, see a how to turn a chromatography project into an art project, and enjoy marshmallow geometry with the kids https://vimeo.com/148631352

Spaghetti Painting

After making a delicious Italian meal, do you ever have leftover spaghetti noodles? If so, don't throw them away. A few years ago I had my son make a Jackson Pollock inspired painting for his dad's birthday using leftover spaghetti noodles and non toxic tempura paint. It's super easy and a lot of fun. 

What you'll need:
Leftover cooked, plain spaghetti noodles 
Canvas or thick craft paper (think larger size)
Several colors of non toxic tempura paint
Shallow bowls
Some paper towels or rags (for cleanup)
Newspaper (for your painting surface)
Smock for your child or have them wear old clothes

First, cover your table with newspaper to protect it from the mess, and there will be a mess. 

Squeeze dollops of paint into shallow bowls

Have children take a strand or more of spaghetti and dip it into one bowl of paint. Have them make long or short strokes on the canvas. They can reapply the paint by dipping the spaghetti into the same color if they choose or use fresh new spaghetti and try a different color. Repeat until your child feels their masterpiece is complete. Let it dry and then you're ready to display your young artist's work. 

This project is great for motor skill development and it inspires creativity by having them use non traditional artistic tools. I hope your family enjoys it.

Spicy Pumpkin Soup & Cheesy Veggie Muffins 

I ran into some readers at Graul's today. It's so nice to see friendly, familiar faces. Someone peered into our basket and asked, "What's for dinner?" Well, here you go reader. The little man acted as my sous chef today. Since my husband was working late, we went vegetarian and had Spicy Pumpkin Soup and Cheesy Vegetable Muffins. The boys in the house love their meat and potatoes but this momma likes to give the digestive system a break occasionally. Both are recipes I found on the internet years ago. I've made adjustments to suit our tastes.

Spicy Pumpkin Soup (Simply Recipes) - Serves 4-6
Ingredients:
2 Tbsp. butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper (or less if you prefer)
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp ground coriander
Pinch of cayenne (optional)
1 and 1/2 cans (15 oz size) of pureed pumpkin
2 1/2 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 cup milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
heavy cream (optional)

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium/high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until softened (around 5 minutes or more). Add the dry spices and cook for at least one more minute. Doesn't it smell great?!

Add the pumpkin puree and chicken broth. Mix well. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer covered for 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer the soup to your food processor in batches. Blend until smooth then return the soup to your original pot. On low heat add the brown sugar then slowly incorporate the milk. If you still find the soup to be too spicy or for a thinner soup, you can add 1/4 cup of heavy cream. I never add it when we make this recipe because I feel like the blending makes the soup creamy enough, but follow your taste buds. You can sprinkle some shredded cheese, toasted pumpkin seeds, or croutons on top for a nice presentation.

Cheesy Veggie Muffins (Best Recipes) - Makes 1 dozen
Ingredients:
2 cups mixed vegetables, grated (I used carrots & zucchini)
1 1/2 cup plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 cup cheese grated (I used 2%)
2 egg lightly beaten
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a 12 hole muffin pan (or use liners)
Squeeze out excess moisture from vegetables using paper towels
Mix vegetables and ¾ cup of cheese with the flour and baking powder.
Whisk together the eggs, oil and milk and add to the flour mixture.
Stir until just combined.
6 Spoon the mixture evenly into the muffin holes and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Bake for 25 minutes.

Please note: You can change up the veggies depending on what your family likes. The most important step is to make sure you remove the moisture from the vegetables by wringing them out with paper towels. If there's too much moisture your muffins will come out gummy, and well, that's not very tasty. This recipe is a great way to get your family to eat their veggies. Bon appétit!

Lacy Oatmeal Cookies

Lacy Oatmeal Cookies

Even though the mess is much greater than when I handle the baking myself, I really do enjoy baking with my little guy. He really loves helping out in the kitchen and I enjoy his company. Later this evening, a dear friend is hosting a cookie exchange. I didn't think I would be able to attend but as luck would have it I can make it after all. This morning I looked to see what sort of cookie I could whip up quickly, that would make a large batch, but more importantly, it had to be yummy. Mrs. Fields Lacy Oatmeal Cookie recipe is my go-to. No chilling. No rolling. No cut-outs. If you love the taste of caramelized butter and sugar than this is the recipe for you. My assistant pastry chef kept asking for another sample so you know they're kid approved.

Mrs. Fields' Lacy Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup quick oats (not instant)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup granulated sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

*Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Cover cookie sheets with foil. Coat them with nonstick spray or use Silpats and skip the spraying

*In a bowl combine oats, flour, salt and baking powder and wisk together. Set aside.

*Combine sugar, butter, egg and vanilla together with a mixer until it forms a grainy paste. Add the flour mixture and blend until it's just combined.

*Drop dough by the teaspoon full onto your cookie sheets (2 1/2 inches apart). The recipe says bake for 9-12 minutes but my oven runs hot so my batches were done in 8 minutes. Cookies are done when the edges caramelize to a golden brown. Let cool and peel off cookies with your fingers

*Recipe claims to yield 8 dozen but mine always comes out to about 7 dozen. I guess my portions are generous 

Sesame Soba Noodles

Marrying into an Asian family, and having a husband that likes to eat, means learning to make a lot of the food he grew up eating. My mother-in-law taught me this simple recipe that you can make in advance and keep in the refrigerator for those days when you really don't feel like cooking. Her cold sesame soba noodles are great for a meal especially if you add cubed chicken and/or edamame as a protein. You can also jazz it up with additional veggies like matchstick carrots and bean sprouts for extra crunch. This recipe tastes best the longer you let it sit. 

 

Ingredients:

1 package of cooked soba noodles (cooked and cooled al dente, 1/2 pound)

1 bunch sliced scallions

1-2 Tablespoons of lighted toasted sesame seeds

 

2-3 cloves of minced garlic (add more of less according to taste)

1/2 teaspoon sriracha

1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce

3 Tablespoons sesame oil

2 Tablespoons rice vinegar

2 Tablespoons honey

 

Thoroughly combine the wet ingredients in a bowl --- soy sauce, oil, vinegar, honey, sriracha. Add in the sesame seeds and 3/4 of the chopped scallions. Toss with the cooked soba noodles and top off with the remaining 1/4 scallions. Let it sit covered in the refrigerator for 4 hours before serving. Give it a quick toss before you serve. Enjoy!

Puffy Paint

Rain, rain, go away! My son was so bummed that his soccer clinic was canceled today. If you're not into puddle splashing, here's a fun Pinterest find that really works well on days like today. It's a 3-ingredient homemade puffy paint. All you need is self-rising flour, food coloring, and salt (and water) but that's it! We followed the Happy Hooligans recipe but I found that we needed to add more water to get the right consistency, and we only needed 20 seconds in the microwave (vs. 30 sec.) for the puffiness to take effect. My son was entertained in both the making of the paints and in creating his various artwork. Here's a link to the instructions http://happyhooligans.ca/homemade-puffy-paint/ Happy creating!

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