Monday, July 21, 2014

Make Something Monday: Slime!

How's your summer going? We've been having a lot of success with our summer plan. Of course things are never perfect, but there's been a lot of fun filled activities that everyone's enjoyed. We got this idea for homemade slime from a trip to the library actually. In one of their programs they made this for the kids to touch and as soon as we got home we had to whip up a batch ourselves. I love it because it's so easy to make, in fact my 6-year old made it himself with just a little help. He's spent many happy hours playing with this since. Hurray for cheap fun!


Homemade Slime
Printable Recipe

*NOTE: Hopefully it goes without saying by the ingredient list, but this is a NON-EDIBLE recipe. It's simply for play. 

INGREDIENTS:
1 tsp. Borax (can be found in the laundry aisle of most grocery stores)
1-1/2 Cups water, divided
1/2 Cup Elmer's Glue
3-4 drops food coloring, optional

DIRECTIONS:
In a small bowl, mix 1 tsp. borax in 1 Cup water until borax is dissolved. Set aside. In another larger bowl mix together 1/2 Cup water and 1/2 Cup Elmer's glue until well combined. Add food coloring (if using) to glue mixture and mix again. Now pour borax/water mixture into Elmer's glue mixture and stir. You should start to see some separation and you'll notice the slime starting to form. Once this happens pick up the slime with your hands and move back and forth in your hands over the bowl until extra water drips off and slime has firmed up. Now it's time to play. Have fun!

Recipe Source: healthyfamilycookin.blogspot.com

Do you need other ideas for activities this summer? Check out this post full of summer fun ideas. Happy Summer!


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Watermelon Slushies {Naturally Sweetened}

Okay remember last month when I was complaining of the heat? Yeah that was nothing. And remember those dreams of happily sipping mango slushies while the kids frolick peacefully in the sunshine? Yeah well at least I've got the slushie part down. We're still working on the peacefully frolicking part I'm afraid. Are you in the same boat? Never fear because now you can practice even more with these watermelon slushies. Seriously these are so good. 

I have to admit I was a little wary of them when I first saw the recipe. Let me try to explain. We're kind of watermelon snobs in our family. Not kidding. My Mom is a watermelon lover. People have called her Watermelly as a nickname. This is kind of a tangent but she and and I had a watermelon contest on the 4th of July. We didn't plan it or anything, but I should have realized there was no way I should mess with her expertise. We both picked out watermelons from two different stores and we opened them both to see which was the best tasting. And hers won hands down. As I mentioned I should have known not to mess with Watermelly. 

Anyway, back to the watermelon snobs thing. I grew up eating watermelon every day of summer from June to August (just about). It was "the thing" to have in summer. And life was always better after a watermelon bust as we called it. Yum.

So I was wary of the recipe because I thought there's no way I can "waste" a good watermelon by sticking it in the freezer. Because there's no such thing as "leftover" watermelon. IT ALL GETS EATEN. ALWAYS. 

Well I took the plunge and I'm glad I did. These are so good. You know how you kind of crave nice cold frozen treats in the summer and it's so easy just to stop for ice cream or a slushie or frosty or you name it? Well I've been trying even more to have naturally sweetened treats lying around so there's no need to do that and this is such a yummy yummy one. I haven't tried it on the expert yet. Watermelly, if you're reading this you'll have to try it and let me know. :) Happy Summer! Hope yours is going great!


Watermelon Slushies {Naturally Sweetened}

*Serves 2-3

INGREDIENTS:
Juice of 1/2 lime or small lemon
1 ripe banana, peeled (not frozen)
2 Cups Frozen Watermelon

DIRECTIONS:
Combine ingredients in order in a blender (I've found that the order does help it blend a little easier). Blend until smooth and serve immediately. 

Recipe Source: Very slightly adapted from All thing Beautiful, changed the recipe directions to simplify blending a bit. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Naan Bread (Indian Flatbread)

One of the things I hate most during the summer is heating up the hot oven to cook. We have a kitchen air conditioner unit, but I try to use natural methods of cooling my house to avoid having to turn it on. That's just one of the reasons I'm so excited to share this wonderful bread recipe with you that I've only recently discovered. It's amazing and you can cook it using a skillet without needing to heat up your oven. Isn't that awesome? My kids all cheer when they hear I'm making this bread. They LOVE LOVE LOVE it! And I do too.

Are you're wondering what Naan is? It's a traditional Indian flatbread that's soft and chewy and absolutely delicious. The traditional baking method is a lot different than I'll show you here, but this method makes delicious bread and is a lot easier to do at home.


Naan Bread (Indian Flatbread)
Printable Recipe

INGREDIENTS:
1-1/2 Cups milk
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 Cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 tsp. instant yeast
1-2 Cups all-purpose flour
3-4 Tbsp. melted butter

DIRECTIONS:
Heat milk in microwave or on the stove-top until warm to the touch (about 110 degrees F). Pour warm milk in bowl of an electric stand mixer and add the sugar, salt, and the whole-wheat flour. Then add the instant yeast on the very top. Mix well to combine. Add all-purpose white flour gradually until a soft dough is formed that cleans the sides of the bowl (you may not need all of the flour and the exact amount depends on your kitchen temperature, humidity, etc.). Let the dough mix for 6 minutes. Then turn off mixer, cover with a light dish towel or plastic wrap and let rise for about 2 hours.

After the dough has risen, turn it onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces, rounding each into a ball shape. Cover the pieces with a light dish towel and let rest for 20-30 minutes.

After the dough has rested, preheat a medium sized heavy duty skillet or griddle on medium high heat. Roll each piece of dough into a circle about 6 to 8 inches in diameter. Lay the circle on the hot skillet or griddle and cook for a minute or two until it is lightly puffed and brown with spots. Then flip naan bread and cook on the other side until is is brown and cooked through. Stack the hot naan on top of a plate and brush lightly with melted butter. Cover with a towel until ready to serve to keep it warm.  Or let naan bread cool completely and serve at room temperature.

Recipe Source: adapted from a recipe found at Mel's kitchen Cafe, changed cooking method and ingredients to include whole-wheat flour.


I served this with Massaman Curry. Yes it's Thai (not Indian Food), but was so yummy yummy. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Fresh Spinach Feta Pizza

I've been branching out on my pizza concoctions even more than normal lately. This fresh spinach feta pizza is a wonder of wonders. I've had it at least 3 times in the last few weeks and it is amazing. Feta and spinach are a match made in heaven...and on pizza...oh my. Really. Oh my. We loved going out to the garden and picking fresh spinach to make this pizza. Sadly the spinach has gone to seed now, but that won't stop me from making this recipe again in the very near future.

What better way to have a meatless meal than an amazing vegetarian pizza? The flavors are supreme. I wasn't really a mushroom lover (and I still can't really stand the soggy ones), but this pizza got me out of my comfort zone into a wonderful place of mushroom enjoyment. And if you don't, it's okay add some chopped red peppers instead.


Fresh Spinach Feta Pizza
Printable Recipe

*Makes 1 large pizza

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 recipe whole grain pizza or bread stick dough
Olive oil
1 fresh garlic clove, minced
1/8 tsp. garlic salt
2 Cups chopped fresh spinach
1 small red onion, sliced and separated into rings
1 Cup sliced fresh mushrooms or chopped red peppers
1 Cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 Cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 tsp. dried basil

DIRECTIONS:
Place pizza stone*(See Note below) on lower middle rack in the oven and preheat to 500 F (for best results preheat for about an hour). 

Sprinkle counter with olive oil. Coat rolling pin in oil. Roll out dough into a large circle (10 - 12” diameter) and place on parchment paper. Brush with olive oil until covered. Sprinkle with minced garlic and garlic salt. Add chopped spinach, red onion slices and fresh mushrooms. Top with mozzarella cheese. Finally sprinkle feta and dried basil on the very top.  Bake on preheated 500 F pizza stone, for 7-8 min or until crispy and cheese is bubbly.

Note: If you do not have a pizza stone, I've had success making yummy pizza using this method.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Taste of Home

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Fresh Mango Slushie

I don't think I've told you of my new obsession with mangoes lately, have I? Oh my. They've become the thing around here lately. They are pretty much my lifeline to happiness. Just ask my family. I don't know why. Maybe it's because my husband took off on a business trip to Samoa last month and I didn't get to go. But ever since I've been dreaming of sitting on a beautiful beach sipping coconuts and eating fresh mangoes. Not really, but it sounds nice, right?

Well the other day I had this grand idea that I could great the perfect mango slushie much like this strawberry slushie of yesteryear. Don't you love that word yesteryear? It sounds like I've popped out of the 1800's or something. Well anyway, I've been just dying to experiment with it and guess what? You're in luck because I finally did. Summer has hit and it's been warm (I can't say hot because I know July will hit and I'll eat my words). This slushie is so cool and refreshing. And yes it has no processed sugar. Yay for healthy summer treats! The mint leaves are the secret ingredient. You can leave them out if you absolutely have to, but oh my, they add just the right amount of freshness. They take this slushie a step up from amazing to superb.

So maybe I can't go to Samoa and sip coconuts and eat fresh mangoes, but now I can definitely make a mango slushie and sip it under a shade tree while watching the kids frolicking peacefully in the sunshine. Sounds dreamy right? If only, if only... Happy Summer!


Fresh Mango Slushie
Printable Recipe

*Makes about 4 1-cup servings

INGREDIENTS:
Juice of 1 medium lemon or 2 small limes (fresh is best, I like the lemon slightly better)
1/4 Cup honey or Xagave
2 large mangoes, peeled and seeded
4-5 fresh mint leaves, plus more to garnish
2-3 Cups ice

DIRECTIONS:
Add lemon or lime juice, honey or Xagave, mangoes, and mint leaves to blender and blend until pureed. Then add the ice and blend until mixture reaches a "slushie" consistency. Add more ice if needed to reach desired consistency. Then taste and add more sweetener if needed. Serve immediately.

Recipe Source: healthyfamilycookin.blogspot.com

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Fresh Guacamole

I love this Guacamole recipe that my sister-in-law gave me. It's delicious and fresh and so easy. So perfect for a refreshing summer meal. This is delicious served with your favorite Mexican feast. My choices would be: these creamy chicken taquitos, these pork chalupas, this yummy cilantro lime brown rice, these crunchy baked tacos, these black beans, or these refried beans. Or how about all of them. Oh my, can you imagine the deliciousness? We love Mexican feasts! Mmmh!


Fresh Guacamole
Printable Recipe

INGREDIENTS:
3 medium ripe avocados
juice of 1/2 lime
1 ripe medium tomato, chopped (we like roma or another variety of plum tomato that's not too juicy)
1/4 Cup red onion, chopped
4 Tbsp. finely chopped cilantro, or more or less to taste
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
salt & pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:
Peel and mash avocados. Add lime juice and mix well. Add chopped tomato, chopped red onion, finely chopped cilantro, and salt. Mix well adding more salt and/or pepper to taste. Serve immediately or store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 4 hours. Mix well before serving.

Recipe Source: Adapted from a recipe given to me by my sister-in-law Lisa.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Frugal Friday: Summer Fun! (Ideas & More)

Happy Frugal Friday! And happy summer!

Today I want to post some ideas for activities that you can do this summer that are both frugal and fun. I've shared many of these before, but I wanted to compile the list a little better so it's accessible to anyone who is looking to rock their summer vacation this year. :) I know we are!

Have you seen my SUMMER PLAN yet?

You can download my summer plan at this link
We've used this system for a couple of years now, and it works great. We've already had a week of summer and it's been great. My kids look forward to doing their chores every day so they can participate in the activities. Here's what this week looked like for us:
Make Something Monday - We made marshmallow tinker toy towers! A neighbor boy came over and joined in the fun. Afterwards they all stuffed themselves full of marshmallows and were not hungry for dinner. Cheap fun. A bag of marshmallows and a box of toothpicks.
Library Trip Tuesday -  We headed off to the library (we used to walk, but now we check out way too many books...) and signed up for the summer reading program. Does your library have one? They are WONDERFUL for keeping kids reading all summer long. We checked out books and the boys read to their heart's content. The quietest day of the week is always library day around here. 
Wet, Wet, Wednesday - We went to the local splash pad. Free fun. I realized once we were there we should have invited some friends to come, but the boys had a blast anyway. Many of the kids that were there were having a water fight with cups of water. The little ones floated sticks down the river. 

Thinking Thursday  - On the schedule was learning some typing skills (at my older boys request), but at the time that sounded so BORING. So we quickly changed the schedule and did a few other things. First we learned a new game. I had a game board book that I've had for years and we pulled it out and learned a new game. It was fun, but not exciting enough for my younger boy. He decided he wanted to do treasure hunts. So we took turns creating treasure hunts for each other. We wrote down clues on slips of paper and hid them around the house and yard. It was a blast. No expensive treasures needed. A hug from Mom was the treasure at the end of my hunt. Making memories.
Field Trip Friday - Today we have plans to ride our bikes to the local drugstore to get $1 ice cream cones. The boys have been looking forward to it all week. 

I wanted to share with you our adventures this week to demonstrate that a lot of fun can be had little or no money. The themes for each day work really well.  It keeps just the right amount of structure in the week, but still allows for plenty of flexibility.

Along with these planned activities, we also had time for several spontaneous activities. Examples from this week were a spontaneous evening hike up a mountain near our house to watch the sunset with daddy, a snow cone party (that ended in a snowball fight) at the neighbor's house, and lots of play time with friends. It was a fun week.
Beautiful view of the sunset from our hike this week

Need ideas for activities? Don't get bogged down on this. Here's a list I created with over a 100 ideas. I've found that the best resource is the kids. Ask them what they want to do. Give a spending limit if you need to. Or print out a list and have them pick. You could spend all week searching and planning activities. That's one of the downsides of the internet I think. Just pick some stuff and go with it. Spend the time making the memories, not planning the activities. :)

Well I hope that gives you somewhere to start. Here's a few more ideas for activities for each theme. Enjoy and Happy Summer!

Got summer plans? I'd love to hear your ideas. What do you do to make summer special?

Make Something Monday - 
Make Marshmallow Tinker Toys (see instructions above)

Library Trip Tuesday - 

Wet, Wet, Wednesday - 
Wash the Car

Thinking Thursday - 
Make up Treasure Hunts (see instructions above)
Learn a new game (here are some fun ideas)

Field Trip Friday - 
Go to a new park
Go on a picnic

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