Quick Marinara Sauce

Quick Marinara Sauce – Some sauces take HOURS to prepare.  Some sauces come in a glass jar, but alas, I had none in a jar.  My favorite is Trader Joe’s Marinara – though I wish it wasn’t so watery.  I needed something NOW for our craving of Mozzarella Sticks.  Still the yummiest ever and my son did all the dredging and coating!  Woo hoo!  Cuz that is the messiest part.  (Hint: use tongs instead of your fingers!)  Or use the sauce in one of our all time fav recipes: Italian Sausage Tortellini.

Back to the marinara:  if you have a craving for getting a sauce just right this is for you.  Plus it doesn’t make a HUGE amount.  You can always triple the recipe, but we don’t eat a ton of pasta and I don’t need a lot of sauce sitting in the freezer pre-made.  If you DO like a lot of sauce, feel free to cool the sauce and freeze flat in a ziplock bag for up to 3 months.  The easiest way to do this is to find a large container like old large tin can or cleaned out large yogurt container and put your bag inside.  Then, fold over the top of the ziplock bag.  Pour your sauce and then the sauce gets in the bag and not in the ziptop.  Freeze flat and that way when you want to thaw it, it will thaw faster due to the increased surface area.

I have other sauce recipes that take a long time in the slow cooker.  But if you realize that you want to make pasta and only have canned tomato sauce and maybe even tomato paste – this for you!

Quick Marinara Sauce
 
:
Serves: 2 cups
Ingredients
  • 1 Tb. olive oil
  • ½ cup onion, diced fine
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (or 2 if you love garlic)
  • 16 oz. can tomato sauce (or 1-8oz can tomato sauce and 4 oz. can tomato paste and add water)
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • ½ tsp. dried rosemary
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a medium or large pot on medium heat.
  2. Add the diced onion and saute for 2-3 minutes or until translucent.
  3. Add the garlic clove and cook 30 seconds.
  4. Add the tomato sauce (or sauce and paste combo with water), herbs and sugar. Make sure to watch your pot! It will bubble all over the place if you don't turn the heat down once it starts to bubble!
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Once it starts to bubble, the sauce is finished. You can keep it on warm until ready to serve.
Notes
Recipe adapted slightly from https://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/awesomely-easy-marinara-sauce-137860

 

Blender Banana Muffins

What??  Blender Muffins???  What is that!!?

We have been testing some new blender recipes and I thought I would share the new family approved muffins!!!  What is so great about Blender muffins??  Well….

  1.  The ingredients are added to the blender – only one mess to clean up!
  2. You will use only whole grain oats – so no pre-ground flour stripped of its nutrition.
  3. They are fast and yummy!

I cannot WAIT to try new and different combinations.  I know substituting pumpkin for banana will be in our near future.  In other news, here is the latest photo session.  It is my friend’s daughter and just the prettiest thing you have ever seen.  Her skin was perfect (8 days old, so no acne!) and she slept (well at least a little).  🙂


Blender Banana Muffins
 
:
Ingredients
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large or 3 medium bananas (really ripe and brownish)
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray baking pan with baking spray or line with cupcake liners.
  2. Add your oats to the blender (a food processor would work too). Blend on low to medium speed until it resembles flour. This may take longer on some blenders than others.
  3. Add everything except the chocolate chips.
  4. Blend on low and then high for about 1 minute using the plunger to push down ingredients towards the blades. You may need to scrape the sides of the blender.
  5. Pour or scoop the muffin batter evenly between the 12 wells.
  6. Add chocolate chips to the top of the muffins.
  7. Bake 14 minutes. Test with a toothpick and if it comes out clean, they are done.
  8. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes and then remove muffins from the pan to cool.
  9. Enjoy!
Notes
Recipe adapted from Blender Applesauce Muffins (https://www.fivehearthome.com/blender-applesauce-muffins-recipe/)

The banana mashed will also work with applesauce and pumpkin! Or try a mixture of both.

Try adding peanut butter powder or peanut butter for a chunky monkey treat!

Watermelon Smoothie | Teaching Colors in the Summer

Watermelon Smoothie

 

Hello Summer!   Whew – has it been FORever!!!  I just could not keep up with my usual exercise routine, full-time teaching, PTO meetings, updating the class website and add recipes to here all at the same time.  I am sorry.  I always post what is new and what everyone loved eating and just haven’t been making anything much new in a while.

I’ve been updating the laundry “room” with shiplap and it looks great!  I will post photos when it is all finished!

This recipe is KID approved as usual, fast and delicious!  Plus, I heard someone does not like bananas – this recipe has NO bananas in the smoothie!  How cool is that?  You can really taste the watermelon in it.  It is very refreshing especially since we have had 100+ heat index almost every day this summer.

I’m one of those weird moms that relates everyday things to learning and this recipe is a perfect example.  If you notice online or in green smoothie books (such as Simple Green Smoothies where I based this recipe), then you will find recipes that contain green items like spinach and red items like strawberries.  Now, the photos in the books don’t actually take a photo of the smoothie – only the ingredients neatly layered.  Once you mix red and green – which are complementary colors on the color wheel – you get ugly brown.  This ugly brown is delicious I promise.  But you might want to put it in a non-see through glass if the kiddos are picky.  On the plus side, you can’t tell there is spinach in it since it isn’t green 🙂

RED + GREEN = BROWN

RED + GREEN SMOOTHIES = don’t take photo of the final product if you are Simple Green Smoothies book


Watermelon Smoothie
 
:
Serves: 2 large servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups watermelon, cut into chunks
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1 cup peaches, sliced
  • 2 cups ice cubes
Instructions
  1. Add watermelon and spinach to the blender. You may have to use a tamper to blend it. Turn the blender on and liquify the watermelon and spinach together. About 30 seconds will do it!
  2. Add the strawberries, peaches and finally ice. Blend on "smoothie" mode for a Vitamix or turn up your blender until the smoothie is consistent and ice is crushed.
  3. Sip and enjoy!

 

Crepes and Kids Cooking Contest

 

 

Two great teachable moments this morning:

a wonderful recipe AND cooking contest idea!  The kids and I were watching “Worst Cooks in America” on the Food Network as the contestants were told how to make a dish.  They watch the chef make it while taking notes and then have to create it themselves.   Crepes are great because the batter can make 5-6 crepes when you cut the recipe in half.  This gives the kids more times to mess up!  My favorite quote:  “I messed it up.  Oh well, I’ll make another one.”  Try, try again!  Great way to push kids to believe they are capable.

What we learned:

-note taking skills
-cooking skills
-how to use a blender
-knife skills
-taking something new and making it your own
-when it doesn’t come out right, just try again!

I have run out of Chopped ideas (we did a couple Chopped competitions… but it is a little difficult with a 7 year old) so when the kids asked to do this instead I thought it would be perfect.

Here is the contest (which wasn’t really a contest):

  1.  I found a recipe that they could make on their own and we wouldn’t have TONS of leftovers.  For this contest, I took the recipe below and cut it in HALF.

2.  I made sure everything we needed was in the kitchen.

 

3.  The kids got a pen and paper ready to take notes.  I made them a crepe and presented it.  Then they got to eat it!!  This is one of their favorite parts and really got them motivated.

4.  Next, I let them go at it!  Each made their own crepes.  The leftovers went on one plate and they used another plate for presentation.  You can see the presentation in the photos.

 

5.  Finally, eat!

 


Crepes
 
Simple and easy crepes - Feel free to use your favorite fillings
:
Ingredients
  • 1 cup strawberries, washed
  • ½ tsp. zest of a lemon or orange (optional)
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour (or regular flour)
  • 1 and ½ cups milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. oil
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla optional
  • whipped cream
Instructions
  1. Since crepes cook very quickly, I cut and prep the strawberries first. Toss in a little sugar if you think they are not sweet enough and add zest if you would like. Set aside. We just used plain strawberries.
  2. Heat your griddle to 300 degrees or nonstick pan to medium low heat.
  3. Add the flour, milk, eggs, oil and optional vanilla to a blender. Blend until smooth.
  4. Spray the pan with cooking spray. Add ¼ cup of batter to the griddle or pan. Cook 1 minute. Flip over. Cook another 30-60 seconds. Repeat until all of the batter is gone!
  5. Fill the crepes with fresh fruit, whipped cream or anything you like! Some yummy ideas are pie filling, PB and J, cooked apples, Nutella, mousse, etc.

 

Cinnamon Raisin Morning Rounds

Happy 2018!!  I can’t believe we are already here!

Well, first thing is first.  I broke my foot on Friday… so I will be watching reading a lot the next two months.  Which is funny because I hopped out of bed to get a start on the day on the elliptical machine… only to break my foot rendering the machine completely useless for 2 months at least.

I finished the “Forget Tomorrow” series which was GREAT.  I do hope they make it into a series.  I felt like Allegiant didn’t do so well towards the end of the series whereas this one just kept getting better and better.

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(Photo credit: Goodreads)

and starting on Grant by Ron Chernow.

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(Photo credit: Goodreads)

The whole Christmas was fantastic and kids were very happy!  One thing they have loved is a new breakfast item we tried at Costco: Morning Rounds.  Whole Foods also sells them.  It is a quick pillow of cinnamon raisin deliciousness.  No crust to deal with.  No bread crumbs.  No heals to fight over.  The kids heat them up in the microwave or toaster oven by themselves and LOVE them.  I have to limit them or they would eat the entire bag in two days.

Here is a photo of the original item.

It is like a slice of cinnamon raisin bread…. but better.  And since this is YOUR recipe, you can add or subtract whatever you like!  If you don’t like raisins, don’t add them.  Use diced apples and raisins, or dried cranberries and orange zest, or your favorite nuts and fruit.

Here is a side by side view of the copycat and real recipe:

 

These freeze well and keep for 6 months in the freezer kept airtight.  Just toast from frozen for a quick breakfast or snack.  The Whole Foods ones I read are quite expensive – but they are so tasty!  so here is a copycat recipe that I tweaked to make in the bread machine.

 

Cinnamon Raisin Morning Rounds
 
:
Serves: 16 Rounds
Ingredients
  • 1 and ½ cups warm water
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 and ½ cups all purpose or bread flour
  • 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten (optional)
  • 1 cup raisins (or other mix ins to total 1 cup such as diced apple, dried fruit, etc.)
Instructions
  1. Bread Machine: Add ingredients into the bread machine per the machine's instructions. My machine has liquids added first, then pile up the flour. Finally, poke a whole in the top part of the flour and pour the yeast inside.
  2. Put the machine on the "dough" setting and sit back and relax.
  3. Once the dough is finished, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Divide the dough into two balls. Roll out one dough ball into a large oval. Then sprinkle the mix ins like raisins. Fold the dough over. Roll to about ½ inch thick and divide into 8 pieces or slices like a pizza. Roll each slice into a thin circle. Repeat 8 times with this dough ball and Repeat again with the second dough ball. You will have 16 rounds. Keep them covered under plastic wrap to avoid drying out.
  4. Once the rounds are ready, place in the oven for 4 minutes. Flip and bake another 4 minutes. Remove from the oven. The bottom should be slightly golden brown. Allow to cool and eat! Or Freeze.
  5. MIXER INSTRUCTIONS: If you do not have a bread machine, simply mix the wet ingredients into a mixer. Add the dry ingredients and knead with the knead hook for 3 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and rise for 1 hour.
  6. Once the dough is finished, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Divide the dough into two balls. Roll out one dough ball into a large oval. Then sprinkle the mix ins like raisins. Fold the dough over. Roll to about ½ inch thick and divide into 8 pieces or slices like a pizza. Roll each slice into a thin circle. Repeat 8 times with this dough ball and Repeat again with the second dough ball. You will have 16 rounds. Keep them covered under plastic wrap to avoid drying out.
  7. Once the rounds are ready, place in the oven for 4 minutes. Flip and bake another 4 minutes. Remove from the oven. The bottom should be slightly golden brown. Allow to cool and eat! Or Freeze.

 

 

Snowflake Cinnamon Wreath

Cinnamon Wreath Bread

Hope you are having an awesome weekend!!

Here is the recipe and instructions for the snowflake cinnamon wreath that I created for Thanksgiving.  A number of things I learned while making this especially if you are used to making homemade cinnamon rolls:

  1.  Don’t make this ahead and put it in the fridge.  Normally I make the cinnamon rolls and wreaths ahead of time at night in order to pop it in the oven in the morning.  Unfortunately, it oozes everywhere and does not work out well.  In a pinch, it WILL work.  But it won’t yield the best results.
  2. Make sure to use a dough recipe that is rich and pliable.  I tried several of them and you need one with eggs and sugar.
  3. The egg on top is pretty, but you will still get a beautiful wreath without it.
  4. Try it!!!  Making it is NOT complicated at all and took me 10 minutes tops to make all the cuts and twists.


Snowflake Cinnamon Wreath
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
:
Serves: 12 servings
Ingredients
  • Dough:
  • 1 cup warm milk (110 degrees)
  • 2 eggs, room temp
  • ⅓ cup margarine, melted
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4½ cups bread flour
  • 2½ tsp. bread machine yeast
  • Cinnamon Filling:
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2½ Tbs. cinnamon
  • 3 Tbs. butter, melted
  • Raspberry Filling:
  • ¾ cup raspberry jam
  • ½ tsp. cardamom
  • Topping:
  • 1 egg yolk
Instructions
  1. Add the bread dough ingredients to your bread machine per their instructions. My Oster Bread Machine states to add all the liquids first. Then, pile the flour on top, poke a small hold in the top of the flour to add the yeast. Put bread maker on “Dough Cycle”.
  2. Mix together your filling ingredients.
  3. Once the dough is finished, divide into 4 equal pieces. On parchment paper, roll the first ball into a 10" circle. Brush with butter if using cinnamon filling. Add one third of your filling. On another surface, roll out a 10 " circle. Put it on the filling. Add one third of your filling. Repeat and add the final 10" circle on top.
  4. Now to twist! Simply make a 2-3" circle outline in the center of your dough. I used a biscuit cutter. You could use a glass or cookie cutter, but just press LIGHTLY. Next, using a paring knife or kitchen scissors you will cut the dough towards the circle into 16 equal pieces. To do this, I cut it into fourths, then eighths, then sixteenths. Now the fun part!! Lift up two pieces next to each other and twist them AWAY twice. So they should twist both towards the outside. Once twisted, lay it down and pinch the ends together. Do this for each pair of twists and you will have 8 pretty snowflake points.
  5. Cover and let rise another 30-60 minutes. Beat the 1 egg yolk and brush on top. Bake on a rimmed cookie sheet on parchment paper at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
  6. Feel free to add a sprinkle of powdered sugar on top or powdered sugar icing with powdered sugar/milk/vanilla drizzled.
Notes
Recipe based on my Cinnamon Roll Bread Machine Recipe post

 

Healthy Orange Julius Smoothie

Healthy Orange Julius Smoothie

Goooood moooorningggggg!!!!!

Welcome to a Whisk Together Original!!!

I hope everyone is doing AWESOME!!!!  Here is a new simple and easy recipe that we all loved!  I had some extra oranges leftover and didn’t want to make an orange julius copycat recipe for breakfast.  Instead, I threw some of my kids’ favorite items into the blender and they LOVED it.   And I loved it because they got a healthy dose of real oranges, mango and vitamins.  Since going back to work full-time this year, mornings are a little bit different.  No more coming home to clean up or finish a task.  We have 3 breakfasts and 3 lunches to make!  So I listed some ways to get these smoothies into your morning routine.  They would also make a great snack!

Here are some ways to make the smoothie:

  1.  Just make it!
  2. Freeze the ingredients into baggies.  Allow to thaw while you get ready or microwave them for 30 seconds.  Then add to the blender!
  3. Put them in real orange julius cups and see if anyone notices the difference 🙂

I know smoothies are not a “winter” type thing.  But oranges are in season right now and Aldi has them at $3.99 for a huge bagful.  If you won’t use them in time – just peel them and freeze them!  Yes it will work in a smoothie.  I wouldn’t recommend eating them after being frozen, but in a blender they will be just fine.


Healthy Orange Julius Smoothie
 
Prep time
Total time
 
:
Serves: 2 large smoothies
Ingredients
  • 2 large oranges
  • 1 cup almond milk (I used vanilla unsweetened)
  • 1 cup mango, frozen or fresh
  • 3 packets of Stevia
  • 2 tsp. powdered egg whites (I use this to make royal icing; it is optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup crushed ice
Instructions
  1. Wash the outside of the oranges with soap and water. Peel the oranges and place the segments in the blender.
  2. Keep the peel! Place a 1" square of the orange peel into the blender.
  3. Place the rest of the ingredients into the blender in the order given. If you are using large frozen chunks of mango, I usually microwave this for 30 seconds in order to give the blender a break.
  4. Blend until smooth.
  5. Enjoy!

 

Gingerdead Men & Book Review

Gingerbread men for Halloween

Happy Fall Everyone!  We have been busy baking for Halloween and ready to share the creation.  Sometimes we make Halloween items all week long or tag this for next year!  It is the same gingerbread recipe I make every year.  The key is to always keep the dough cold.  I put it in the freezer and fridge multiple times while cutting which keeps everything chilled.  The bonus?  No need for all the extra flour that makes cookies tough and gingerbread not so rich-looking.

But first a book review!  This book is Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil.  Yes, the book is as clever as the title!  It was difficult at first to begin since surveillance and big data are not generally topics I would pick to read about.  This book is NOT a math book but about large corporations using our data.  The author was a mathematician turned data scientist for stocks/bonds turned whistle blower.   All of her information is relevant to any of us and I think more people should really pay attention to how all the data out there is being used.

One example if of a young man trying to get a job.  He is perfectly capable and was even a student at Cornell University.  However, due to some poor judgement on some financial decisions his credit score went south.  As a result, he couldn’t even get a job at a place like Mc’Donalds because of his credit score.  Big data is being used to create massive amounts of inequality on a larger scale with no one to stop it.

Another example is of a young woman who was a well liked teacher in the school.  Since she didn’t score high on an algorithm, she was fired despite her being a good teacher.  There is about half of a chapter on grading teachers based on an algorithm.  But since they never explain the algorithm there is no recourse for getting better, trying to find the cause or any feedback into the fact:  is the school getting better because of this algorithm?

I would recommend it for anyone looking for a good read.  If you like conspiracy theories, then this might also be the book for you!

The recipe!

For these cookies I used my tried and true recipe from  Gingerbread Men.  I do not recommend using the food processor to make the dough.  A stand mixer works much better.

You will also want to use the small batch of icing.  I still have leftovers, but this will give you one piping bag worth to do all of the cookies.  I used a #2 Wilton tip to make the bones.  After doing a few skull faces, I was tired and each face came out differently.  This isn’t a bad thing – but I had 24 cookies more to go.  SO, I made eyes and a mouth instead.  They still taste good, so who cares?  🙂

Join me if you like on my other blog/website: www.mrsrileysclass.com

Happy Halloween!!!!!

Fox Cookies for Fall

Cookie time!  It is fall and I received the Cheryl’s Cookie Catalog in the mail this weekend.  They always have cute designs…. I love the $6 (used to be $5) cookie option as a quick and fun gift for friends.  Here is a super easy method for cute fox cookies out of a heart cookie cutter.

First, I followed my recipe for sugar cookies.  I made them without baking powder and cut them into heart and pumpkin shapes.  As usual, I freeze my cookies before baking.  This goes for sugar cookies and drop cookies!  It keeps the cookie from falling flat and losing shape.  When you cut out the heart, use your thumb to push the tip of the heart to make it more rounded.

Second, I followed my recipe for royal icing.  I split it and made orange flood icing, white flood icing and green for the pumpkins.

Third, I flooded the heart with orange icing and let it dry with a fan on.  This took about 1-2 hours.

Fourth, the next layer was a small heart of white for the face, two triangles for the ears and white dots inside the ear.

Finally – for the eyes and mouth I did not use a food coloring pen.  Instead, I simply use food coloring gel and a toothpick.  I squeeze out a pea size amount of black coloring gel onto a plate, and then I use my toothpick to carefully place the eyes and mouth.  It sound worse than it is.  This is actually my favorite part and I have never had a problem with it.   I started doing this when I made snow globe cookies a few years ago and needed black for this eyes and mouth.

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