DIY Baking Soda and Cornstarch Ornaments

Hello! I haven’t fallen off of the face of the earth, I have just been so busy with holiday activities! Also, my Milo has been a sick little boy for the past 5 days…a little goodbye gift from his last day of preschool, I guess.

Anyway, I wanted to update and let everyone know that I am going to be absent for a little while longer, but I am coming back after the holidays with a new look for Me + Three {and counting…}! I’m really excited for all of the upcoming changes and anxious to see how I manage to stay on top of it all while adding a new baby to the mix.

I will leave you with a one more Christmas DIY project that I completed yesterday. I am not sure if these have another name besides “baking soda and cornstarch ornaments”, so that is what I’m calling them.  These are probably my favorite DIY ornaments because I can be totally lazy and leave them as they are, white and sparkly, or I can paint and decorate them how I want!

Baking soda and cornstarch ornaments

Baking Soda & Cornstarch Ornaments

Makes roughly ten 3″ cookie cutter ornaments

1 cup baking soda

1/2 cup cornstarch

2/3 cup of water

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and place over medium heat. Stir constantly until mixture forms a ball of dough. Transfer dough to a bowl to cool enough to handle. When dough has cooled, knead until dough is nice and smooth. Roll out to desired thickness of ornaments (I did about 1/4″). Cut out shapes with cookie cutters, use a drinking straw to make holes (for the string) at the top of the shape, then allow them to dry overnight so they can harden. Make sure they are drying on a flat surface and if they begin to curl up, just flip them over to flatten them out again.

Mine took about 12 hours to harden enough for me to paint them. I picked up some Martha Stewart patterning tape along with some of her metallic paint in yellow gold to make the stripes. And you can decorate them however you like! These are definitely going to be an every year DIY ornament project for my tree!

DIY Baking soda and cornstarch ornament

And here’s the {mostly} finished tree! I seriously need a tree topper, but with Christmas being in a week, I don’t think we’re going to have one this year.

rustic christmas tree

Alright, I’ll see you all in a few weeks! Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Two-Ingredient Jam {DIY}

I remember the days when I would down a bowl of Smart Start Healthy Heart cereal or a Lean Cuisine dinner and feel like I had made a healthy food choice. Bless my heart (wait, can I bless my own heart?). Anyway, I now realize how terrible those things are for my body and that I should really concentrate on eating whole foods that are non- or minimally processed. Since this realization I have started making a lot of our staples. I make our granola, our salad dressing, hummus, pesto, sometimes our bread, and now our jam! I am currently growing cucumbers so I can make our own pickles, vegetables for our own stock, and our own herbs and spices! My philosophy on healthy eating is something like “the closer to home it is, the better”. I’m still working on that.

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I also find that once I make something at home, I can never bring myself to purchase it at the grocery store again. I haven’t bought salad dressing in YEARS. Really, years…like 3 or 4 of them. Alright…on to the jam!

This was my first time making jam and I was really scared that I was going to mess it up. But it’s so darn easy! These measurements made me two jars of jam. I wanted to be on the safe side in case I jacked it all up, but now I wish I would have bought 5lbs of concord grapes! It’s soooooooo good.

Two Ingredient Jam

2lbs concord grapes

1 1/2 – 2 cups of sugar {depending on how sweet you like it}

Okay, so there is a method to this, I guess. First you’re going to squeeze the insides of the grape into a pot while keeping the skins for later. Your fingers will be purplish, but I wear these purple fingers as a badge of honor since this jam is so amazing. I almost want to walk around with a jar of it just in case someone asks me why my fingers are purple. Anyway, when you’ve squeezed all of the grapes out of the skins, bring the pot of grapes to a boil for about 10 minutes or until the grapes have turned to a mush. You can help them out by mashing them, like I did.

Then you need to grab a sieve and put it over a bowl. Mash the seedy-mush with a spoon to expel all of the juices. Throw the seeds away. Pour the juice back into the pot and add skins. Bring the mixture to a boil, then add the sugar, beginning with a cup. Give it a little taste and see if that’s enough. I ended up putting in 1 and 1/2 cups of sugar, but if you need to put 2 cups in, hey, no judging here!

This is where I kind of lost track of time. I think I ended up boiling the mixture for 30 minutes, and even accidentally scorched it (and it still turned out amazing). I did take a photo of what it should look like when it’s finished:

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I’ve read that you can put a spoon in the freezer for a few minutes, then dip the spoon and if it runs off of the spoon like syrup, then it’s not quite done yet.

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While the jam was cooking, I sterilized some jam jars and lids in boiling water for a few minutes, dried them off, filled them with the jam while both (the jam and the jar) were still hot, and sealed them tightly. Then I boiled them for about 10 more minutes and set them upside down on a towel for about an hour. I’m sure they sealed in less than an hour, but I was busy doing other things.

I’m still new to the canning process, so I might have not done that correctly, I guess we will see! I don’t plan on letting these to jars of jam last that long, though.

Have a wonderful Thursday, all!

**Update**9/12/13 – It’s been a week and this jam is still amazing, however, I wanted to add that I am needing to put the jar in the microwave for about 20 seconds to loosen it up enough to spread onto bread. I am not sure if I did something wrong or if that is just something that comes along with quick jams. Anyway, just wanted to put that out there. It still tastes like heaven! 

Turkey meatballs and veggie sauce

My mother-in-law and I decided to do another cleanse since we were little gluttons over the holiday season and Superbowl Sunday.  Our bodies just felt a little bogged down and we knew it was time. It is day 5, so we are halfway finished. I already feel 10 times better than I did on Monday when we started. My body feels lighter and healthier!  Along with the herbal supplements we take, we are to avoid gluten, dairy, sugars, alcohol, and unhealthy carbs, and eats as many green veggies as we please, stick to complex carbs like brown rice, quinoa, and lean meats like chicken, turkey, and clean fish (i.e. no bottom feeders like gross catfish).  So we buy the herbal packet from Advocare and basically eat nothing but super clean foods for 10 days.

Tonight I wanted something really filling.  Green salads with salmon are great, but I wanted SUSTENANCE! Food that would keep me full for the rest of the night.  So, of course I went with spaghetti and meatballs.  What is more filling then sweet, juicy balls of meat, oodles of noodles, and delicious tomato sauce? Mmmmm.

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To achieve an Advocare-worthy spaghetti and meatballs recipe, I simply omitted any cheese that I would normally use and I exchanged the whole wheat bread crumbs for the bread crumbs of a tasty buckwheat loaf that I picked up at the Great Harvest Bread Co. booth yesterday at the farmer’s market.  If you do not have these dietary restrictions, then you are more than welcome to keep the whole wheat bread crumbs and add as much cheese as you wish!

Now, this is a bit of a process, but the end result is totally worth it.  Not only will you enjoy a delicious meal, but it will also be loaded with tons of goodness. In fact, if you follow my version and don’t add the cheese, then this will be nothing but healthy. Thirds, anyone?

I started with the sauce, since I could work on the meatballs while it was simmering.

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Don’t worry about chopping the veggies up into little pieces. You will be throwing it all into a food processor, Ninja, or blender after it simmers, so it will end up in tiny pieces anyway!

Veggie Sauce:

1/2 yellow onion, roughly chopped

1 red bell pepper, halved lengthwise, remove membrane and seeds, roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed, sliced, or however you prefer

28oz. can of tomatoes (diced, crushed, whole, whatever you have works!)

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

salt and pepper to taste

Heat 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a sauté pan. Add onion and bell pepper and sauté for 2 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Add the tomatoes, red pepper and season with salt and pepper to your liking.  Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes.  Removed pan from the heat, allow mixture to cool for 5 minutes, then throw it all into a food processor or blender and process until the consistency is that of a normal tomato sauce.  At this point, you can put the sauce back into the pan and cover to keep warm until the meatballs are finished.

So, while the sauce was simmering, I worked on the meatballs.

Turkey Meatballs:

1lb ground turkey

1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped

1 whole carrot, grated

2 garlic cloves

2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped

1 slightly beaten egg

1 piece of gluten free bread, crust removed, pulsed into bread crumbs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

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The best way to mix meatballs together is with the old fashioned hand! Make sure you wash first! After everything is good and mixed, roll the mixture into 2 inch balls.

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Start your broiler, line a cookie sheet with foil, and spray with oil.  Broil for 10 minutes. The meatballs should have a nice, brown color on top.

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Remember that delicious veggie sauce you put to the side? Heat that up over low heat, add the meatballs, cover, and cook for 10-15 minutes or until your noodles are finished.

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Okay, so the reason I am showing you this photo is so you can get this brand of noodles.  I have done the cleanse 3 times now, so I have tried my share of brown rice noodles.  Let me tell you so you don’t have to find out on your own, that these are the BEST I have ever had. They didn’t get all mushy like other brands and they tasted just like wheat noodles. Ignore the bell pepper and personal-sized french baguette.  That was for Roberto, who is not participating in the cleanse.

Alright, back to the recipe….You are basically finished, just add some fresh basil to the sauce, and enjoy!!

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Have a wonderful Friday and eat clean!