Five Star Recipes

3 Ingredient Sugar & Pectin Free Strawberry Freezer Jam



Strawberry season is here at last!  I have always looked forward to May because it means I can usually get some pretty awesome deals on strawberries.  My kids eat strawberries like crazy, so when I found out from my local produce co-op that I could get 8 lbs of strawberries for $8 I jumped on it.

Our family has been trying to eat healthier, so I wanted to find a recipe that was sugar free.  Not only did I find one that was sugar free, but pectin free as well!  Instead of pectin this recipe calls for chia seeds.  Apparently the chia seeds jell up when mixed with the fruit and help the jam set up.  Not only that, but chia seeds are extremely healthy for you!

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Pretty awesome right?  And even better, they aren’t that expensive.  I think the bag we got at Walmart was around $5.  Much healthier than pectin.

This recipe calls for 2 cups of fruit.  I had closer to 8 cups so I just quadrupled the recipe. Feel free to add a bit more or less honey (agave syrup) to taste.

The best thing about this recipe is that not only does it work, but it is super fast and easy. Kids can even help wash, blend and stir the ingredients.  Let’s get started!

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3 INGREDIENT STRAWBERRY FREEZER JAM- Makes 2 Cups

  • 2 cups fruit (any berry)
  • 3 Tbsp. raw honey or agave syrup
  • 2-3 Tbsp. chia seeds (2 for looser set, 3 for more set)

Process all ingredients in a blender and refrigerate over night.  The chia seeds will gel, setting up the fruit puree.  Want to use two different kinds of fruit?  Just make sure it equals 2 cups.

Wash all your strawberries and remove the tops.  Then you can use either a blender, food processor, or my favorite, an immersion blender to puree the strawberries.  Blend in the other 2 ingredients and pour into freezer safe jars or containers leaving an inch of head space.  Place your containers in the fridge or freezer to cool, and you’re all set!

Now when you pack that PB&J sandwich for your kiddos lunch you can rest assured knowing that not only will they love the taste, they will be getting all those awesome benefits of chia seeds.

What is your favorite thing to slather the strawberry jam on?

Five Star Recipes

Resurrection Rolls

This year I thought it would be fun to start a new tradition for our Easter dinner.  I was flipping through ideas on Pinterest and these little hollow rolls stood out to me.  I love the symbolism not only in the finished product, but in the way they are made as well.

Most of the recipes I found for the resurrection rolls used prepackaged tube crescent rolls. Unfortunately I didn’t have any, and didn’t have time to run to the store, so I decided I’d make my own.  I’m so glad I did!  The crescent rolls were super easy and would be amazing on their own.  Thanks to Annalise from Completely Delicious for this amazing recipe:  Fairy Rolls

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After the dough has risen, separate it and roll each half into a circle.  Then use a pizza cutter to separte the dough into 12 triangles.

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Now its time for the fun part.  Thanks to Jen from Yummy, Healthy, Easy for these directions with all the wonderful symbolism and scriptures included.

  1. First, gather the kids together (or your significant other, grandparents, aunts, uncle, whoever). Get your ingredients out and preheat the oven. Read John 19 in the New Testament while the oven is pre-heating.
  2. Unroll the crescent rolls, separating each section. Explain that this is like the cloth they wrapped Jesus in.
  3. Give your child a marshmallow and explain that it represents Jesus. It’s white and pure because He was without sin.
  4. Roll the marshmallow in a small bowl of water. This symbolizes the embalming oils.
  5. Now, roll the marshmallow in the cinnamon & sugar mixture. This is like the spices used to prepare his body for burial.
  6. Next up, wrap the marshmallow in the crescent roll dough, making sure to pinch the dough together securely on the sides. Don’t worry about what they look like because they’ll taste great no matter what! This represents how they wrapped Jesus’ body.
  7. Repeat with each marshmallow and place the rolls in the oven (symbolizing the tomb) and bake for the amount of time specified on the package – 8 to 10 minutes. (Note:  If you are making them with the recipe I used you will want to cook them closer to 13 minutes.)
  8. While the rolls are baking, read John 20:1-18.
  9. When the cook time is up, open the tomb and remove the rolls. When they’re cool enough to handle, let your child(ren) open one and discover what happened to the marshmallow. It’s disappeared! This signifies how Jesus has been resurrected.

One of the important things to remember is to use either parchment paper or a silpat mat while baking these.  You will thank me when you don’t have to scrub the crazy sticky cooked on marshmallow off your baking sheets.  And as an added bonus you can sneak little bits of tasty cooked marshmallow.  It peels right off.

These turned out so good!  And honestly it wasn’t that much harder making the crescent rolls from scratch.  There isn’t even any kneading required.  These will be finding a place on our Easter table for years to come.

Tried It

Removing Burned Food From Stainless Steel Pots and Pans

Please tell me you all have a pot that looks like this one.  This poor thing has definitely seen better days, and because it is so darn hard to clean it isn’t my very favorite.  This is actually a picture of how it looked after I got done making Naan Indian Bread (an amazing recipe that is coming up soon).  And honestly even before I even made the bread it didn’t look that great.  I figured it was time to put some Pinterest ideas to the test.

Here is what I found said about cleaning stainless steel pots:

“1. Place pot on stove 2. Add enough vinegar to cover the bottom with equal parts vinegar and water. 3. Bring to a boil (covered) 4. Boil 20 minutes 5. After 20 min you should be able to scrape off the burned parts with wooden spoon. 6. Empty the pot and coat it with baking soda. Scrub with a mesh dish cloth. 7. Rinse…should be good as new.”

Easy enough right?  So I did the above, but I let the vinegar water solution set overnight before I scraped it with the wooden spoon.  Here’s the results!

BEFORE                                                  AFTER

So I wouldn’t say that the pot was as good as new, but it looked quite a bit better.  Much better than if I would have just tried to wash it with water and dish detergent.  I’m even thinking that I may try another round of vinegar and baking soda to see if I can get the rest of the black spots off.  I think overall I’d give this a 4 stars out of 5 rating.  If you have a pan like this one and try this trick let me know if it works for you.

One Star Fails

Brightening Whites

Everyone has one.  That used to be white shirt hanging in your closet just waiting to be resurrected.   Unfortunately I had several.  I pulled them all out of my closet, and looked up different ways to get them white again.

Test #1 The Hydrogen Peroxide/Baking Soda/Water Mixture

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For the first test I used 1 part water, 1 part baking soda, and 1 part hydrogen peroxide.  I did one cup of each since I had several shirts that needed work.  I mixed them all together in a large stainless steel bowl and poured the mixture on the stains.  Next, I got to work scrubbing it in with an old toothbrush.

If  you look closely at the shirt in the first picture you can see the yellowing around the collar and front of the shirt.  I noticed while working on this particular shirt that it had spots of foundation on it too from when I was applying my makeup.  It looked more like a tiny polka dot shirt than a plain white one.

The second shirt was a white button up collar shirt that I wear to church.  It had dirt marks around the sleeves and yellowing around the collar, so I scrubbed that one with the mixture as well.

I could tell that the mixture was working right away at the dirt around the cuffs.  It came off almost instantly without much scrubbing.  After I thought I had scrubbed enough I let the shirts sit on my counter for about 20 minutes to soak in the mixture.

I had a couple of towels that used to be white and thought I’d throw them in with the batch since they needed some whitening as well.  I read that you can add a 1/2 cup of baking soda to your load of whites, use your regular laundry detergent, and let it run until the rinse cycle. When it is time for the rinse cycle you add a cup of vinegar.  This is supposed to whiten towels similar to what you’d find in a hotel.

Okay people, I don’t know about you, but ain’t nobody got time to sit and wait for the rinse cycle to just happen. I put the load in with regular detergent on a hot water cycle and added the rest of the baking soda/hydrogen peroxide mixture in for good measure. I tried to be vigilant and keep checking, but I got to doing something else, and the load finished.  So I added the cup of vinegar after the load was done, and set it on another rinse cycle.  When it was done I added it to the dryer like usual.

Here are the results…

These are the towels before I added them to the wash.  The washcloth was white once upon a time, but it has definitely seen lots of wear and tear.  I added a piece of white paper so you could see the difference in whites.  It’s tricky showing whites in pics, so hopefully this will give you an idea.

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And here is the after picture.  The washcloth definitely did not get any whiter, but I was expecting that to be a long shot.  The towel was so so.  It was maybe a tad whiter, but not anything like hotel towel white.  So I think I’d give the baking soda vinegar rinse a 1 star rating. Darn!  I was really hoping it would work.

Here is a before and after shot of the shirts using the water/hydrogen peroxide/baking soda mixture.

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I apologize that it’s really hard to tell 100 percent in these pictures, but here’s my two cents. The mixture got some of the yellowing beneath and around the collar out; however, it did not get out the small foundation spot as you can see above.  There is also a smaller patch of yellow off to the left side that is still there.

Here is the before and after shot of the white button dress shirt…

Honestly this one looks pretty much the same to me.  The collar may be a tad bit whiter, but not enough to bother scrubbing the mixture all over it for this result.  What a disappointment! I was really hoping one of these would work.

My final thoughts:  I was really excited to try this project and was disappointed that it didn’t work better.  There are a few other tutorials online using Borax which I didn’t have this time, but may have to experiment with in a future post.  I will say as a disclaimer that I have hard water.  I’m wondering how much of a difference this would make if I didn’t have that factor.   I’d give this project one star out of five over all.

Have you tried this before?  Let me know if it worked for you.

 

Tried It

Toothpick Star Experiment

I saw this pop up on Facebook a few days ago and thought it looked like a fun little experiment to try.  All it requires is a few toothpicks and water.  According to the video I watched all you need to do is set the toothpicks in a snowflake type shape with all the points to the center, then add a drop of water and all of a sudden it magicallly transforms into a 5 point star.

I have to admit I was skeptical about this one working.  The video I watched didn’t have any sound, or advice on how to set it up, so I winged it.

I arranged the toothpicks like I had seen in the video on a plate (not pictured) and tried putting the water in the center.  Nothing happened to the toothpicks, except they got wet.  Boring!  So, I thought maybe my cutting board would work better.

The first picture shows the toothpicks just like I put them on the plate.  They are still a bit damp from the first disappointing attempt.  I added water to the center again, and as you can see the cutting board just soaked up the water.

I really wanted this experiment to work, so I looked up more videos.  None of them had any words or ideas, just silent videos.  A different one I saw showed breaking the toothpicks halfway, so they were at right angles, and then forming them in a snowflake shape like this.

 

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I noticed that the water in the videos I watched puddled up like a raindrop in the middle of the star.  Mine was not doing that.  It was just running all over underneath the toothpicks and making a mess. I thought that perhaps the surface I was putting the toothpicks on was the reason it wasn’t working.  I had a ziplock bag nearby, so I grabbed that and set the toothpicks on it.

Attempt number 3.  I used the dropper and put the water in the middle.  This time something happened!  The toothpicks started moving.  First together, and then apart into a 5 point star.  Sweet!  If you’d like to see it in action check out the video I posted on our Facebook page.  Toothpick Star Experiment

My final thoughts:  This is a really fun and easy project!  If you have toothpicks on hand, and some cute curious kiddos nearby, definitely give it a try.

Five Star Recipes

Easy Shrimp Sushi Stack

If you love sushi, then have I got a recipe for you!  This is something super easy that you can make from ingredients you already have at home.  When you are having one of those sushi craving moments all you need to do is chop up a few veggies, and layer them up with that leftover rice from last night’s dinner.  Now just for the record, this is more of a faux kind of sushi.  It doesn’t include any raw fish or seaweed, but if you’d like to change it up feel free to add what you like.

I didn’t add any specific measurements to the recipe below, because I usually just chop up the avacado, cucumber, and shrimp until I have a small bowl of each to layer with. I wouldn’t recommend making these ahead of time, as they are best eaten immediately after you make them.  If you are making them for a party or get together you could probably refrigerate them, but I wouldn’t keep them in there for more than an hour or so if that.

I first got the idea for this recipe from the amazing blogger Gina Homolka over at Skinny Taste.  When I saw that I could make something similar to sushi at home, I just had to try it out.

Now on to the recipe!

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Easy Shrimp Sushi Stack

  • peeled and diced cucumber
  • mashed avacado
  • cooked shrimp, peeled and tails removed
  • cooked rice (white and brown are both great)
  • mayonnaise
  • siriracha sauce
  • sesame seeds

First find a small container to use as the mold for your sushi stack.  You can even use your 1 cup measuring cup.  Start by putting a spoonful of diced cucumber in and spread until it covers the bottom.  Then continue with the shrimp, avacado, and rice in that order.

When you’ve finished layering these ingredients pack them down tight into your container using the back of a spoon.  Place a small plate on top of your container and holding the plate in place, quickly turn it upside down.  Gently tap the container and lift it straight up.

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Now onto the tasty sauce that really makes this stack amazing.  You can add as little or as much siriracha sauce as you’d like depending on how spicy you like it.  Put a scoop of mayo in a small dish and add your siriracha sauce.  Mix together and spread on top of your stack. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

My final thoughts:  This recipe definitely deserves a full five stars.  It is quick and tasty and my little sushi loving kiddo begs me to make it all the time.

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Tried It

Try It Tuesday: Fixing Doll Hair

If you have a little girl in your life, I’m guessing you probably have some kind of doll with crazy hair like this one.   This isn’t an American Girl doll, but rather a knock off that we got from Target a couple of years ago.  I saw something on Pinterest that talked about fixing crazy doll hair with just two ingredients and this poor thing came to mind.  Talk about a bad hair day!

I saw different ways to fix doll hair including just using regular shampoo and conditioner, but the most common one was mixing water and Downey fabric softener together in a spray bottle. Since it was the most common I decided to try that out first.  Wondering if it really works?

20170321_133141 I didn’t really mesaure out the ingredients, but as you can see from the picture, I filled the spray bottle with warm water 3/4 of the way full.  I then added a big squirt of the Downey fabric softener and shook it up.

DURING BRUSHING                                      AFTER

I sprayed her hair until it was damp and got to brushing.  If your doll’s hair is as bad as this one was I would recommend using a brush that has good bristles so that they won’t fall out as you are brushing.  Several times I was glad that I had chosen to use the brush that had the firm plastic bristles.  In the picture on the left it looks like she has some kind of crazy layered cut.  Fortunately that’s just her side bangs and not something that my daughter did with scissors.

As I started to brush her hair the first thing that came to mind was how crazy it was that I could tug at someone’s hair that hard without hearing a peep.  Usually as soon as I try to run a brush through my daughter’s hair she starts saying how much it hurts no matter how careful I am.

It took me quite a while to do this.  Her hair was so snarly that I had to keep brushing and spraying, brushing and spraying.  So, if you are planning on doing this you should plan on taking a while to get through the tangles.

As you can see her hair still looked a bit frizzy on the ends, but the top of her head was a lot better.   This girl had made quite a big hairball by the time we were finished.

Now, if you are satisfied with just having your doll’s hair straight you are all finished.  I thought that this doll had too many frizzy ends to leave as is, so I decided to do another fun tutorial I saw on how to make doll hair curly again.

With her hair still damp, I used a pencil to roll up her hair into a curl and secured it with a bobby pin.  I did this several times until her hair was all curled.  I then set her outside in the sun for a couple of hours to let her curls set.

After I thought she had had enough time to dry I brought her back in and started to undo some of the curls.  Several of them were still slightly damp, so I took her into my bathroom and used my blow dryer on a low setting.  It didn’t mention anything about a blow dryer in the tutorial, but I was anxious to see how it would turn out and didn’t want to wait any longer.  I wouldn’t recommend doing the blowdryer thing with the heat turned up too high or for too long.  You wouldn’t want to melt her hair!

After about 2-3 minutes of drying her hair I carefully pulled out the bobby pins.  The curls probably would have been more ringlet shaped if I wouldn’t have gotten so anxious, but I liked the nice soft wavy texture she ended up getting.  If you’d like more of a ringlet look on your doll you would probably need to let her hair set at least overnight.

So, here are the results!

BEFORE

AFTER

I will have to say I felt a bit ridiculous for spending all this time just on a doll’s hair, but it really did look a lot better afterward.  If you have a little kiddo who loves playing salon this would be a fun project for the two of you to share.  And if you still have quite a bit of the spray bottle solution left over you can use it as homemade Febreze!

My final thoughts:  I would probably give this project 4 out of 5 stars.  It took quite a bit of effort to get the tangles out even with the fabric softener.  I was a bit disappointed that her straight hair still looked frizzy on the ends.  Overall though it made a big difference, and as a bonus, she smells amazing!