Archive for the ‘Crafts & Recipes & Pinterestness’ Category
Since I’m not likely to do another Pinterest blog for a while, and I’ve got a whole month of doing special things with food, and because someone told me I should blog about it, and since I won’t be watching my 5 movies until next month, I’m gonna blog about my work health challenge! I’ll do one blog each week until I’m done with it. But first, let me explain what this challenge is.
I joined a 30-Day Challenge from my work health incentive program; it is called “Eat This, Not That”. It goes from July 13-August 9, and I’m on a team with 4 other co-workers. I’m at the beginner level, which means I need to: eat 3 servings of Nutrient Dense foods every day, and substitute 3 unhealthy foods with healthier options each week.
I couldn’t tell you exactly what Nutrient Dense means if you asked me to define it, but from the paperwork they gave me it looks like it means fruit, veggies and nuts. Basically just anything that is super dense of nutrients. (Because that is the scientific way to say it.) So since my paperwork emphasizes fruit, veggies and nuts, that is what I’m gonna eat!
Don’t eat it!
As far as the weekly substitutions, that will require some extra thought since it’s not as straightforward as just “eat veggies”. I almost only drink water, I don’t eat out every week, and there’s not any specific dessert or dish I’m always munching on. If I say to myself, “I need to substitute something… I feel like going and buying a milkshake, but I’m gonna drink some lemonade instead!”, does that count as actually substituting it? I don’t know! But I guess I’ll figure it out as I go! 🙂
The challengers were given a list of fruits and veggies and how they rate on a nutritional scale; the higher the number, the healthier they are. Most of the fruit and veggies you would find in our house are in the bottom 3rd. The highest vegetables are Kale, Watercress and Collards at 1000. I’m gonna be making Kale with a friend the week after this challenge, so I intend to try both Watercress and Collards in the following month. I also have discovered that I like asparagus fairly well, so I’m going to try to be creative with that, too, since I’ve only eaten it one way.
My plan is to make my meals of experimental veggies on the weekends, when I’ve got more time to shop and be at the stove and everything. Plus it works best for any meals that need
Try ALL the veggies!
to be eaten hot. I may make a few meals to refrigerate and take to work the next day, but I’m mostly going to try to have things to snack on or to have as side dishes during my work week.
On the Saturday before the challenge started, I spent the morning finding recipes for Watercress, Arugula, Collards and Asparagus, and while I did I also found some good recipes for Strawberries. (It was all on one particular site, so you’ll probably see recipes from there a lot.) But since I couldn’t start counting the healthy eating until Monday, I just stocked up on some basic snacks for the first week and will do some more meal cooking as the challenge goes on.
I bought almonds, cashews and mixed organic nuts and divided them into 21 single serving bags for snacking on at work. (A serving of nuts, according to this challenge, is 1/3 cup.) I also bought carrots, added some celery, and made 4-5 bags of 1 cup of veggies (a serving size for veggies). These are in my work fridge.
Then, I got some strawberries and made some delicious strawberry bread. I used 4 cups for 3 loaves of bread, and although eating a few slices isn’t even a serving of strawberries (1 cup), it is healthy and awfully good. I brought some in for work and it was all eaten up before I left. I like how mild the strawberry flavor is. You can find the recipe here: (http://www.marthastewart.com/282508/strawberry-bread#Strawberry%20Recipes|/275333/strawberry-recipes/@center/276955/seasonal-produce-recipe-guide|282508).
I also bought asparagus, scallions, mini peppers, several frozen bags of vegetables, 2 frozen pasta-veggie meals for lunches, and I also have a gallon of 100% orange juice in my work fridge. One glass of legit juice counts as a serving size of my Nutritional Density, so yay for variety!
I’ll post next week about my first 2 weeks of the challenge and how it went. I know that I have the habit of starting out on these things all strong and excited, and then kind of petering out, so we’ll see how it goes. Feel free to throw snack or veggie or recipe suggestions my way, and I’d always love getting together and cooking with someone to give me better motivation, and of course to share the food. 🙂 Enjoy the blog!
Hey, guess what? I haven’t done a Pinterest-y blog since I made the homemade “Cheez-Its” last year, so this is the perfect time to do it! 🙂 I was reading a blog about Disney themed food the other day; there were a bunch of recipes that were either from movies I didn’t know very well or didn’t seem to stick out as iconic from the movie, but the recipe for “Ratatouille” caught my eye. I glanced through the instructions, and though it seemed like a bunch of vegetables that our family wouldn’t all necessarily eat, it looked simple! I quickly bookmarked it as an iconic Disney food to try soon.
As I moved on, they had one for Beauty and the Beast that was NOT “The Grey Stuff”. You know that line from Be Our Guest: “Try the grey stuff, it’s delicious! Don’t believe me, ask the dishes!”? Well, that would clearly have been an awesome recipe to have, so when I saw a different one from Beauty and the Beast, I was like “aw, they missed that opportunity!” But then, voila! On down the line they had a SECOND one from Beauty and the Beast and it was, you guessed it: The Grey Stuff! Well, I instantly bookmarked THAT, and in a few days I had collected the ingredients to make both dishes!
This dish is almost all veggie; it has a sauce on the bottom composed of tomato sauce, garlic paste and chopped onions. I didn’t have any garlic paste, so I just ended up using garlic powder instead. Once that’s all mixed up, it gets spread on the bottom of a 9 inch pan.
Then, you chop up a bunch of vegetables: eggplant, zucchini, squash, and two different colored peppers. Our squash had gone bad by the time I cooked all this tonight, so we just skipped that. No one in my family has ever had eggplant before, so we had no idea how it was supposed to look or taste… but we chopped it up and added it anyway!
Once those were in semi-normal-looking slices, I layered them systematically throughout the dish. Then it gets sprinkled with olive oil, and I also added little droplets of tomato sauce, because I was worried about it not being moist enough. Then into the oven it went, with a circle sheet of parchment paper over it, for 35 minutes at 375 degrees.
The recipe said to sprinkle parmesan cheese on the top once it’s out of the oven, but that didn’t seem like enough cheese to me, so I also grated some mozzarella cheese onto the hot dish right after it came out of the oven. Once it melted, it was ready to eat! Here was the result:
My Mom, my Dad, my sister Bekah and I all tried it for supper. It was really difficult to tell if we did it right or not, because my mom didn’t like the peppers, my dad’s not into that many vegetables by themselves, and nobody really liked the eggplant much. But we all decided that it had good flavor. We meant to make rice with it, which I think it would’ve gone really well with the dish, but I forgot.
If I made it again, for myself, I would switch out some vegetables. I think I would remove the eggplant, maybe the zucchini, and replace them with potatoes and/or mushrooms. But even though we probably won’t make this for a meal again, it was definitely fun to try!
THE GREY STUFF
Though people argue that the ACTUAL grey stuff was probably something more like a “liver pate”, the recipe I used said that this is what they serve in the Disney Be Our Guest restaurant. It’s basically Oreo pudding, so this was clearly something my siblings would eat!
I read the directions a little too hastily, so while The Grey Stuff recipe said to mix the instant vanilla pudding mix with 1.5 cups of milk, I followed the pudding box directions and made it with 3 cups per box. I don’t know how it would have changed the consistency of it had I done it correctly, but the rest I think I did right; I crushed up 15 oreos and added those and a package of Cool Whip to the pudding after it had set, and then put in 3 tablespoons of chocolate pudding mix (though I probably should have put in twice as much of everything since I’d used 2 boxes of vanilla pudding).
Once that was all mixed in, I let it sit in the fridge for an hour, and this was the final product:
Did you notice that it looks more brown than gray? Yeah, I did too. Have you noticed that I’ve been spelling grey 2 different ways in this article? Yeah, I did too. But hey, I might’ve done this dessert wrong, but we tried it, and it was delicious! And our dishes will tell you so, too!
Hi! So on my trip last month, one of my sisters gave me a suggestion for my blog. I told her about the time I had tried out the recipe for that “cookie/brownie in a cup” thing and about how it didn’t work. And she was like, “you should test out Pinterest recipes and crafts and blog about it”. And I thought, “Hey, I’m cool with trying out suggestions and seeing if they work.”
So I’m going to give it a try! If I find that it’s super boring, either to write about or to find good experiments for, then I won’t push it. But I am open for new things. 🙂 Also, if any of you guys have any suggestions for me to try, feel free to let me know! (Though I’ll warn you that I’m pretty cheap and untalented, so I’m most likely to experiment with things that are close to what I already know I can do. You know, no steak omelettes or building a cabinet single-handedly.)
So here’s my first one! Since I had this whole intro, and I’m trying to keep my blogs from going TOO long, I’ll just share with you my first experiment of the week: HOMEMADE CHEEZ-ITS!
Here’s the recipe I got from Pinterest:
8 oz Shredded Cheddar Cheese
2 tbsp cold Butter cut into small pieces
2 tbsp Shortening
1 tsp Kosher or Sea Salt
1 cup Flour
2 tbsp Ice Cold Water
Blend the cheese, butter, shortening and salt together on medium low speed in a stand mixer
or with a hand mixer.
Add the flour and mix on low to incorporate (the dough will be dry).
Slowly add the water just until the dough comes together in a lump.
Form into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
Preheat oven to 375.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Flour your work area and roll out the dough very thin (less than 1/8″).
Use a pastry cutter to cut into 1″ squares and use a skewer or toothpick to put a hole in the center of each.
Transfer to prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 12-15 minutes or until light brown at the edges.
Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool.
When we cook at my house, we don’t ALWAYS use exact measurements. I’m sure it’s that way in many homes. But if eyeballing it means that everything is messed up, sometimes it’s not worth it to make! 😉 But anyway
Crumbly, cheesy dough.
The cheese was what was leftover from a 12 oz that we used a portion of for supper, but I’m pretty sure it was about 8 oz. Just in case it was more, I put in the 2 tablespoons of butter and then a tiny bit more. For Kosher salt, my mom suggested I use a tablespoon from our big bag of pretzel salt we have. (You know those soft, frozen pretzels that have the little bags of salt for topping? Well since my brothers eat those ALL the time and the open bags are always spilling, they just empty it into this massive zip loc bag that holds it all. It’s pretty efficient, and came in handy tonight.)
Cold ball of dough, straight from the fridge.
Sometimes I forget to read the directions completely, so in this instance I put the flour in too early and then tried to take it out. (Because I’m never sure if messing something like that up is small, or is an “OH NO THE WHOLE DISH IS RUINED!” kinda thing.) It half worked, but as I mixed the ingredients, it didn’t seem to have messed it up. And by the time my food was ready to be rolled into a ball, it looked like the online picture. I even tried some raw dough and it tasted like Cheez-Its! 😀
Let’s get rolling!
Look at how serious I am about my cooking.
Rolled it out, cut it up with a pizza cutter, and skewered the holes with a skewer. All the pieces were weird shapes (some I made into circles) and they varied in thinness. But hey, if you’re not a machine, you can’t expect them to look perfect, right?
And… they’re done! They came out in a variety of crispiness versus… not crispy? Some kids called them fluffy. Here’s the poll on what everyone thinks!
Mom: They taste good (both crunchy and fluffy) but clearly the crunchy ones taste more like the original. But buying them is much more cost effective, due to how many you get from each batch.
Dad: I like these! They’re not exactly like Cheez-Its, but I could see how they’re kind of like them. They’re fun.
Elizabeth: It was oily. But it tasted like cheese at least? When I thought they were cookies I thought they were gross. They’re more cheese than crackers.
Nathan: I like them best when they’re medium (slightly) crispy and hot. Not as dry as the originals, and they could use more salt. They have similar qualities, but are not identical.
Micah: Not enough flavor. The lighter ones are good on crunchiness and have the potential for flavor.
Joel: They don’t really taste like Cheez-Its. They’re “eh”.
Bekah: I liked them once I realized what they were. They’re actually very fun.
Seth: I think they’re awesome when they’re fluffy and not as crispy.
DID WE LIKE THEM?
Mostly everybody liked them. Dad, Bekah, Mom and I all think they’re fun. Joel, Micah and Elizabeth are iffy on it. Seth prefers the thicker ones, Nathan the thinner. Bekah liked them after she realized what they were. Mom says that despite how fun they are, it is clearly more cost effective to buy a box of Cheez-Its based on how many come out in a batch.
My lovely bowl of Cheez-Its! 🙂
ARE THEY LIKE CHEEZ-ITS?
They have a resemblance to them, but are not identical to the original. Could use more salt; not as dry; it’s more like cheese than like cracker; a little oily; not enough flavor, according to some. Best when they’re hot, according to Nathan. But generally? They weren’t bad!
One Cheez-It to represent them all.
So, that experiment was fun! I don’t feel like we would ever make these again. I think the novelty of trying out “homemade Cheez-Its” was greater than the actual result of them. But they were definitely worth a shot, and they were gobbled up quickly.