Saturday, February 14, 2015

Trader Joe’s Frozen Fish Sticks - Cooking Instructions

In an effort to become more organized, I’m posting cooking instructions of frequently used products for reference. This allows me to recycle bulky packaging reducing the amount of space these products take up in our home. Now I can easily look up cooking instructions if needed.

These are my son’s favorite fish sticks we purchase at Trader Joe’s, Oven Ready Breaded Cod Fillets.

Trader Joe’s Frozen Cod Fish Sticks Cooking Instructions:
Serving Size:  2 pieces

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Place cod fillets on baking sheet on center oven rack.

3. Back for 18-22 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees and fillets turn golden brown.

Not recommended for microwave oven cooking.

My son also likes Trader Joe’s gluten free fish sticks, so I’ll add packaging pictures and their cooking instructions the next time we purchase a box.

Since my husband is not a fan of fish, we only make half a package at a time. Then I recycle the box and just store the small bag of remaining fish sticks which takes up much less space in our freezer.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

DIY Star Crayons - A family craft project showcasing recycling

We started a jar to collect broken crayon bits and pieces. It is amazing how quickly all those broken crayons pile up! My son really took ownership of this organization effort looking forward to a fun family craft and recycling activity, making new crayons.

To get started, you’ll need to find the right mold. Silicone molds are available in all shapes and sizes that work well to make your own crayons. I usually find the best selection of silicone molds available online, especially if you’re trying to find a specific shape to coordinate with a party theme or holiday. We chose a simple star mold, so we could try to make each of the five points a different color. Having a variety of usable colors in one big chunky star crayon not only looks good, but makes them extra fun to use.

My son helped with the entire process. He did a fantastic job with my least favorite part of this craft activity, peeling all those crayon wrappers! Although he didn’t mind patiently peeling off wrapper after wrapper, I found the fastest way to strip off all the wrappers is to soak the crayons in water. The water softens the paper and most importantly the glue securing the wrapper releases easier making this task much less daunting. My husband even helped and discovered using a sharp utility knife to carefully cut the wrappers also made them quick and easy to peel.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure how our homemade crayons were going to turn out. After we filled the stars with crayons, some stars had noticeably more crayon pieces than others, so I was concerned that they would not all melt at the same time and I didn’t want a burnt mess.

To melt crayons, we use an old toaster oven at 275 degrees for about 20-30 minutes. Keep an eye on them, you can see when all the crayon wax melts into a smooth liquid. If you’re going for the multicolor or rainbow effect, try not to shake or jiggle the melted wax too much so the colors don’t all mix into a solid color.

After the new crayons cool and set up, they are easy to remove from silicone molds.  We were so excited to see that our DIY crayons turned out great! The different amounts of crayon pieces in each mold didn’t seem to cause any problems, some star crayons simply turned out thicker than others. We love them all and like many handmade items each star crayon is one of a kind. My kiddos love drawing with their new crayons.

We even sold some at the craft area of our church’s annual Christmas bazaar. They all sold, but next time I would like to make some creative packaging to go along with them.

We enjoyed this craft so much! I love that it taught my kids about recycling in a hands on way and created something new that they were proud of and excited about using! I must admit these simple DIY crayons turned out more professional looking than I expected. We’ll definitely be making more crayons as soon as our broken crayon jar fills up again!

You Might Also Like
Cupcake Liner Organization - Our broken crayon jar is a reused empty Trader Joe’s almond butter jar just like the jar we use for our Cupcake Liner Organization solution.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Tortellini Kebobs with Pesto and Marinara Dipping Sauce

During the holidays, it’s party time and that means potluck dishes to prepare for all the big events. First up was my husband’s annual work potluck, so we needed to decide on a few covered dishes to make and share.

I suggested going the healthy route with my new favorite one pot Mexican Quinoa recipe that is super yummy. He loves it too, but didn’t think the work boys would appreciate it, so we went with a theme for his food this year. Since there was a ton of crockpot meat dishes already on the menu, we decided to leave the crockpot at home and bring “food on a stick” making it official by writing it on the sign up sheet.

Who knows what everyone thought he would bring? Corndogs perhaps, not a chance!
Tortellini Kabobs with Pesto and Marinara Dipping Sauce (marinara not pictured)
We prepared tortellini kebobs with pesto and marinara dipping sauces. Although no one else probably noticed, I love that the Christmas colors of the green pesto and red marinara made this dish feel even more festive.

To assemble, we cut kebob sticks in half and put two or three tortellini on each stick careful to only skewer the tortellini on the stick end that was factory finished (not our scissor cut end) so no one accidentally got a splinter in their food.

Tortellini on a stick works well as an appetizer, light side, or topper for a soup or salad.

Whatever you want to call it, potluck pleasers, food on a stick, or simply party food, the fun "on a stick" presentation helped make our simple and tasty covered dishes a success. My husband even received several positive comments from the work crew about his potluck dishes!

We also took a dessert on a stick that I’ll share soon.

Our Summer CSA Experience - Week of June 5, 2014

What’s in the box this week? June 5, 2014

This week's USDA Certified Organic Share includes:
- Sugar Snap Peas - 1 qt
- Lettuce - 2 heads
- Napa Cabbage - light cabbage flavor
- Beets - bunch
- Kohlrabi - bunch - nice broccoli flavor, raw or cooked
- Spring Onions - bunch
- Radicchio - head - really cool, green type radicchio
- Kale - bunch
- Boc Choy
- Parsley - cut herb

 Price is $35.00

What to do with all the fresh produce?
We love sugar snap peas stir fried, but these sweeties were so good they disappeared before I had a chance to cook any…we ate them raw.

More delicious salads with fresh lettuce. Best salads ever, hope they keep the lettuce coming.

The napa cabbage had some bug damage so it took a little longer to clean and prep, but that’s OK with me if it’s grown organically. We loved this cabbage, it made the most delicious salads from the Nourishing Meals and The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbooks.

We sautéed the beet greens with olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Then we roasted the beets in the oven. Not everyone in our house is a beet fan, but they all liked the beet greens prepared this way. Our baby enjoyed the roasted beets with me.

Kohlrabi was new to us. Thank goodness for the internet or I would have no idea what to do with some of these unusual veggies. I learned how to peel and cut the kohlrabi and found most people recommend just eating it raw. I sliced it into thin discs, sprinkled on some flavored sea salt, and called them veggie chips. Everyone enjoyed this new to us vegetable.

We sprinkled chopped spring onions on salads and on top of a few Mexican dishes.

I never had a whole head of radicchio before. It was quite bitter, so I mixed it with lots of lettuce and we ate it in salads. Radicchio is probably our least favorite item of the season, but it was fun to try a new veggie. Hopefully I’ll learn new ways to prepare and enjoy radicchio next year.

The kale was used in more green smoothies, our favorite way to eat kale.

We made the same boc choy recipe we tried in our first share of the season, yum.

We used the cut parsley to top a few frittatas.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Washi Tape for Attaching Batteries to a Gift

The dreaded words, batteries not included, were emblazoned on the packaging of a gift we purchased for a young relative. Even though the toy is fun without the lights and music the batteries enable, I think gifts should include everything that is needed. I wanted to include batteries so the parents didn’t have to buy or find something extra to allow their child to play with the gift.

Attaching Batteries to a Gift - another great use for washi tape!
We attached 3 AA batteries to the packaging using bright pink polka dot washi tape. We supervised as the child opened the gift and promptly added the batteries to the secure battery compartment in the toy.

I’m becoming a big fan of washi tape. It’s colorful, fun, and has a ton of uses.

More posts you might like:
- White Elephant Gift - Gift Not Included!
- Back To School Teacher Gift - Excited to "Bee" in Your Class with Lip Balm - I used wash tape to complete this teacher gift.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Candy Cane Shaped Pancakes with Raspberries

I enjoy making fun food with the kids. They made a special request, strawberries for Christmas breakfast, so we added them to the grocery list. A trip to the warehouse club and grocery store revealed super expensive, less than desirable looking strawberries, so we ended up bring home a big container of raspberries instead. The kids were on board with the change of plans, they both love all kinds of berries.

I thought we could use cookie cutters to make our favorite pancakes into fun shapes. As I was digging through my stash of holiday cookie cutters, I rediscovered a candy cane cookie cutter that was just begging to be used along with the fresh raspberries to transform an ordinary pancake breakfast into a fun food adventure of Candy Cane Shaped Pancakes.

My husband whipped up a new family favorite recipe we like to call blender pancakes. They’re grain free, made with almond flour, egg, and banana. Rather than traditional round pancakes, he made them long and narrow so we could easily cut out candy canes shapes with our cookie cutter. I cut a few raspberries in half and then cut the top and bottom of each half on the diagonal to make red stripes to decorate the candy canes. We served them with extra raspberries and a drizzle of pure maple syrup.

My son made his own breakfast candy cane pancake by simply adding whole raspberries on top.

None of the raspberry or pancake scraps went to waste, those were just as tasty as the cute cookie cutter shaped pancakes.

Our Candy Cane Shaped Pancakes are an easy and delicious holiday breakfast treat to remember! The only special supply needed to make this breakfast is a comfort grip candy cane cookie cutter and your favorite pancake recipe. They may even work with fresh strawberries, but I’m so glad we got raspberries since they inspired this fun food breakfast for our family.

Hope you had a happy holiday!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

FREE Twining of London Tea - 3 Free Twinings Tea Bag Samples in Flavors You Pick

I posted about this fun freebie the last few years and it's back!  Twinings is again offering 3 Free Twinings Tea Bag Samples in varieties of your choosing.  There are over 50 varieties to pick from including several organic and fair trade options.

Hurry, these free tea samples are only available while supplies last.