Mango Popsicle

My very first popsicle making adventure. I pretty much winged this recipe based on what I had on hand. Mangoes are one of the few fruits I do eat willingly. Otherwise, I dislike most fruits. Growing up in India, mangoes were the one thing I looked forward to all summer long. It’s a shame that the mangoes you get in the US don’t even come close to the taste and variety you get in India. While I miss the mango season back home I had to make do with what is available here. My choice – Champagne Mangoes – they are the only variety that I like here. These are my favorite and my kids love them too. I decided to experiment with making popsicles this time for the kids…Here’s what you’ll need

Ingredients:

  • Ripe Mangoes – 337 g (about 4)
  • Fage Full Fat Plain Greek Yogurt – 140 g or 5 oz
  • Milk Full Fat – 3 oz
  • Honey – 2 TB (Optional or to taste)
  • Vanilla Extract – 1/2 tsp
  • Cinnamon – 1 pinch (optional)
  • Indian Saffron – 1 strand (optional)

Directions:

  • Blend everything together.
  • Adjust the sweetness, if needed.
  • Pour it into popsicle molds (Next time I’ll use a funnel as this was messy for me)
  • Freeze!

I got enough for little over 6 molds. My kids don’t care for coconut anything. You can substitute any milk based on preference.

Both my kids loved it!

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Sand and Water table

Today folks I bring you the DIY Sand Table. We’ve had this old sandbox gathering mold and looked disgusting from just collecting rainwater and everything else. Personally, I hate everything SAND. I feel it gets everywhere and is just impossible to clean. I find it very messy. BUT, kids love it. Of course, they do! We’ve been telling them not to play with this old thing but, they kept sneak playing with it causing more mess. Not to mention, I didn’t think it was safe to play with the nasty old sand. Kids, they never listen! So, what did WE do? We promised them if they stopped playing with this disgusting sandbox we’ll build them a nice sand and water table. Folks…we had a compromise! They listened and we decided to build. We were all happy😀 (read – I was happy).

Old sandbox with cracked/taped lid. I will spare you from how disgusting it is inside.

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Thus began the research for the plan – how to build a sand and water table. There are tons of online DIY posts on it. I did the research, talked with M as to what he was envisioning…cuz, honestly, I’ve never played with one. Finally, we both decided on Ana White’s Sand and Water Table. She’s a genius if you are not familiar with her DIY work. We just followed her plan.

The only thing we did different was we used 2×4 wood instead of the 1×3 she used. Mainly because that’s what we had. We did buy some more 2×4 as we ran out but, it was cheap. It was a pretty inexpensive table to make. I had some Sherwin William exterior paint left over that I used on the frame.

I bought two 40 quart clear bins ($7 each marked down) instead of 28-quart bins (as shown in the original plan) from Home Depot. I got the bigger bins at a marked down price because they ran out of lids for all the 28 quart bins. Can you believe that? Who buys all the lids and leaves the bins? Anyhow, they could not find me any lids for the smaller bins so, the associate apologized and said he can give me the 40 quart bins for the price of 28 quart. While it was a great deal we had to think about it cuz we had already planned out the table. Thankfully, M had not cut the wood and he adjusted the plan to the bigger bins. M also build a towel holder for the kids to use, if needed (this was my idea). We also added one 2×4 middle support beam to go under the bins as the bins are a bit larger and we wanted it to be extra secure as water and sand does get heavy.

So, here she is….Now, we just need some water and disgusting sand. We will be using the lids to close the bins when not in use. Yes, they do snap on the bins while on the table.

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From drab to fab…Outdoor planter bench

I recently finished upcycling my old planter bench. I had bought this maybe couple years ago? It had been sitting outside in the sun, snow, ice storm…what have you, without being taken care of. Last couple years, we’ve had some rough winter storms and this poor bench had started to look awful and gross. Then came the decision whether to chuck it or restore it (as you can see in the picture below)? There was some wood cracking going on as well. I told M that I’ll try to restore it and see how it goes. Thus, began the upcycling of this sorry looking bench.

Before

I cleaned and sanded down the bench as much as I could without causing further damage. I also used some wood glue to fill in the cracks and made sure it wouldn’t break down during my restoration process. I’ve never used wood glue before so the process was messy for me. Sanded it again after the glue dried to smooth the surface. Let it sit overnight. I had some leftover paint but, I was thinking of giving it a two tone effect. I wanted it to “pop” as it was going to sit between bunch of green trees. I decided to go with a blue/yellow theme mainly cuz of the sun pic in there. I already had blue paint so I just needed some yellow paint. I got a small sample can of outdoor yellow paint from Home depot which cost me like $3? M took the bench apart for me to paint. I used 1 coat of all-purpose white primer. Then, I did couple of coats of paint using a foam brush (cuz they are cheap and I can just throw them away). Finally, I finished it off with the Rustoleum clear coat in glossy finish to seal the paint and protect it from harsh weather. I love that stuff.

Here’s the bench in all it’s glory. I think it came out pretty good (relatively speaking). For fun, I decided to paint the eyes and noses of the creatures in black except the sun, for which, I used orange :D. Why not? It took me little over a week (I think) from start to finish. The only reason it took me so long is that it is my hobby and I only get little time during weekdays to dedicate to stuff like this.

Now, I just need some pretty plants…maybe, jasmine or mini roses? Or Magnolia? What do you think?

After

 

 

 

Make your own Hot Chutney

I love, absolutely love anything spicy. I have toned down things since I had kids but, I still keep green chili peppers on the side for my own plate of spiciness😉. I also prefer pure heat when it comes to hot sauces over flavored hot sauces. This is cuz I feel the flavored ones totally mask the true flavor of the food you’re eating whereas, the pure heat ones just add “heat” to the food without completely taking away from the flavor of your food. Anywho, it is a personal preference. I go by whatever floats my boat on a given day. So, I have been experimenting with different kinds of hot sauces. This is my 2nd attempt at making my own…first time using ghost peppers! I found them at my local grocery store.

You’ll need…

  1. Blender (I used a 32 oz jar)
  2. Chili peppers of choice
    • Ghost peppers (4 small ones)
    • Jalapeno (a LOT)
    • Serrano (a bunch)
    • Habanero (2)
  3. 1/2 cup White vinegar
  4. Salt (to taste)
  5. 1/2 Tsp Garlic powder (optional)
  6. 1 TB EVOO (optional)
  7. Disposable gloves (if deseeding)

Directions

  1. Wash all peppers thoroughly. Let it dry completely and then cut off the tails.
  2. Wear gloves and deseed the peppers (if you want less spicy). I did not deseed.
  3. In a blender,  add vinegar (you can adjust the amount per taste), pile up all the peppers…I just cut them in half and dumped it in the blender.
  4. Add the salt, EVOO and any other spices you wish to add….
  5. BLEND…till it is smooth🙂

There you have it. Store it in a mason jar in your fridge or freeze!! It came out more a chutney consistency than sauce. If you prefer a little more liquid consistency then add more vinegar or water. I only used 4 ghost peppers as I haven’t used them before so, wasn’t sure how much heat it would generate. Like I said, it is all in the name of experimentation😉

 

Baked Beef Meatballs

Ingredients:

  • Ground Beef 93/7 lean – 1.08 lb (that’s what I had)
  • Red Onions very finely chopped – 53 g
  • Chopped Frozen Spinach – 5 oz
  • Coconut Oil – 7g (1/2 TB)
  • Garlic – 2 cloves
  • Cheddar Cheese Shredded – 2 TB
  • Egg Large – 1
  • Taco seasoning – to taste
  • Salt – to taste (I used a pinch)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degree F
  • In a pan, heat oil and sauté together – garlic, onion and spinach – till mixed well and water is evaporated.
  • Make sure before mixing everything that the ingredients are in room temperature.
  • In a bowl, mix all the ingredients together till they are well amalgamated. Try not to mash too much.
  • I made 21 – 1 oz meatballs.
  • Spray a baking sheet, place meatballs equidistant and bake them covered with aluminium foil (I like to cook covered as it prevents drying out) for 15-20 minutes. Meatballs should reach a temperature of 160 degrees.

Notes:

Meatballs came out juicy but, next time I’ll have to use little more seasoning and little more cheese. Let’s hope my kids eat it.

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Update: Kids didn’t seem to relish the meatballs. Couple of things to fix next time.

  • Use slightly less spinach
  • Definitely Add more seasoning
  • Bake less than 20 mins. Maybe, 15 mins will be enough.

 

Sloppy Jose

Original Recipe from Dana Carpenter’s 1001 Low Carb Recipes

This is a good book!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Ground Beef or any meat
  • 12 oz Hot Salsa or mild Jar
  • 4 oz Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Method:

  • Brown the meat
  • Add salsa to the meat, mix and cook on low heat for 10-15 mins everything is mixed well. I like to cook it covered.
  • Add cheese, mix and cook till all is melted and mixed well
  • Serve with sour cream, scallions etc.

 

Note: I have also added everything to the crockpot (after browning meat) and let it cook on low for 6-8 hours and added cheese 1/2 hour before done.

 

Riced Cauliflower

This is too good in texture and taste. You can use it instead of rice and it freezes well

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cauliflower – 837 g (1 lb 13.5 oz) (grated uncooked weight)

Method:

  • Cut the cauliflower in florets. I didn’t use the green parts but feel free to use it. I used as much of the white stems I could get.
  • Wash and let the florets air dry completely.
  • Microwave the shredded cauliflower in a covered dish till it is cooked but NOT mush. I cooked it covered for about 7 minutes on default power level. Taste to see the texture is still slightly crunchy but, cooked. (Adjust the cooking time accordingly based on the amount of cauliflower).
  • Riced cauliflower is ready to be used for any variation.