Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Homemade Goodies

We've been sticking close to home lately, taking it easy on the long, hot afternoons and doing lots of fun projects...mostly in the kitchen! A couple of days ago I saw a blog post with a recipe for Sidewalk Chalk Paint {which I'd never heard of before} and decided to make some right then and there with Maddie!

For each color of paint you will need: 1/4 cup cornstarch 1/4 cup cold water 4+ drops of food coloring {darker would show up better on concrete, but I was worried about staining, so I kept it pastel} Stir everything together and repeat for as many colors as you desire! Easy peasy!

It took about 5 minutes flat and then we had a picnic breakfast out on the front porch, lugged James' IV pole and exersaucer outside, and let Maddie paint away! Both my kids love to be outside, so I've been trying to get more intentional about being outdoors even when James is all hooked up.

Since last week was so stinkin' hot around here, Maddie and I decided to cool off with homemade popsicles! Another easy recipe...pureed strawberries, plain yogurt and pureed blueberries. The hardest part was waiting for it to freeze so that we could eat it!

One of my favorite parts of summertime is the abundance of berries! Over the years I've watched my mom make delicious homemade jam of all kids...peach-blueberry, blackberry, marionberry, strawberry, etc. She does the cooked jam, which for some reason intimidates me {the equipment, the time commitment, not getting the seal just right...I just couldn't bother with it}. But at the store I saw a pectin packet for making freezer jam and thought, "I could do that!" So this week I made my first two batches of jam...strawberry-blueberry. With just a few cheap baskets of berries and the no-cook recipe on the packet, I made a TON of jam that will last me all year! {Freezer jam is good for 3 weeks in the fridge or 1 year in the freezer.} This is a great project to do with kids. All you do is mash and stir and you're done!

Now, what to do with all that jam? I decided to make this Doctor Appreciation Week and spread the love! James' surgeon, GI doc and the pediatric nurses do so much for us {and they know us very well by now!} that I figured they deserved a little homemade treat for all their dedication and care. As a former teacher, I know what a thankless job taking care of {often cranky} kids can be, so anything to boost their spirits is always welcome! I just discovered a great new FREE online photo editing site called picnik.com, so I uploaded a recent photo of James, typed my comments directly on the photo and then had it printed at Walgreens...instant thank you card! Love it!

I made these muffins to go along with the homemade jam {click on link for recipe}...

Lemon Ricotta Muffins with Toasted Almonds

Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins with Sweet Berry Drizzle

Strawberry-Banana-Coconut Muffins

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour {I didn't have pastry flour, so I used 1/2 c. whole wheat flour + 1/2 c. cake flour}
½ cup coconut flour {Bob’s Red Mill brand...in the health food section}
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
1 large egg
2/3 cup canola or grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup sugar
2 ripe bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine flours, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and strawberries. In a separate bowl, light beat the egg. Mix in oil, vanilla, sugar and mashed bananas. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and lightly mix until all the flour is moist.

Divide mixture among 10 greased, paper lined or silicon muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden on top and a tester comes out clean.

I've also been trying out lots of new dinner recipes lately and I'd love to share them with you. I have TONS of recipes in my "to try" file, so I'm pretty picky in terms of determining whether or not a recipe is "repeat worthy". Here are a few that made the cut in our house:

Roasted Corn & Poblano Polenta with Shrimp {or chicken or steak}
Rosemary Grilled Steak with Tomato Jam
Grilled Pork Kebabs with Chimichurri Sauce
Asparagus with Tomatoes and Feta {I roasted the asparagus for 7-8 minutes at 400 degrees & added 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar to the tomato mixture as it cooked}
Israeli Couscous with Asparagus, Peas and Sugar Snap Peas

Tandoori Chicken Burger Wraps

1 1/2 pounds ground chicken breast
4 green onions
3 Tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
Naan flatbread
red onion sliced thinly

To make the Yogurt Sauce:

1 small container fat free plain Greek yogurt
1 Tablespoon fresh mint chopped
2 teaspoons cumin
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper

Put the chicken and all of the spices in a bowl and mix well. Form into 4 patties.

Cook the Tandoori Chicken Burgers on a preheated grill over medium-medium high grill. About 3 minutes per side. Throw the Naan bread on the grill during the last few minutes.

Mix the yogurt sauce in a small bowl. Set aside.

Slice some cucumbers, red onions, and cilantro for toppings.

Top the burgers with a few sliced cucumbers, red onion, a generous handful of cilantro, and yogurt sauce.

and on my to-make-list for these hot summer evenings...

Thai Chicken Pizza {California Pizza Kitchen style}
Cellophane Noodle Salad with Roast Pork
Cobb Salad
Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream
Mango Sorbet

Enjoy, everybody! More posts to come! :-)


Heather Elizabeth said...

Lisa-I LOVE your homemade ideas for jam and popsicles. And the photo of James is perfect. You will definitely bless those doctors. Good work friend!

Amy Erickson said...

Totally inspired!
Where did you get your popsicle set?
I have REALLY wanted to make jam this summer and I am SO excited about the freezer jam idea.
Hugs, A
Love the pink boots!

Brooke said...

Ok, now I'm feeling really lazy! :)

Thanks for all of the great ideas (and inspiration)... I think the kids and I will be getting crafty next week when we return from vacation.

Christine said...

You are ridiculous, girly! You definitely follow in your mom's footsteps. We're currently enjoying her peach-blueberry jam. Yummy!

Speaking of . . . I love freezer jam! My grandma always made raspberry, and it has long been a fave in our family. It's so easy to make and is seriously one of the best condiments ever made. If you have time, try making the raspberry. I made it for the favors for Rachel's baby shower for Emma years ago. Yum!

You are so thoughtful to make gifts. I so wish I had time to do a little more of this stuff. One of these days (in just a few weeks when I no longer have my long LA commute) I'll be able to. :) xoxo