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Make the best of everything!: July 2012

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Kurt's Zucchini Sandwich

My blog is named " Make the best of everything".  The slogan at the top of this page states " A blog. Where I show you the things that I make!"

Well folks.  I did not make this zucchini sandwich.

In the midst of all of my " Low Carb" recipes floating around Pinterest, my older brother Kurt made this  scrumptious looking zucchini sandwich. He wanted to join in on all the fun by sharing his weeknight dinner with the world!

I have two wonderful brothers.  An older brother, Kurt ( you know. the creator of that sandwich up there.)  And Brad, my younger brother. ( who is really and excellent chef. I need to get Brad to make something for my blog. You would be impressed)

I grew up in the Chicago suburbs with two brothers.  I migrated out to Iowa with my husband,  but my brothers stayed in the Chicago area.

One big difference between us now, is that they always call their evening meal DINNER and I now, sometimes call it SUPPER

Ok, back the story of the Zucchini sandwich.

My brother Kurt invested in a vegetable co-op this spring.  In return, he receives a box of fresh vegetables every week.  This is cool because Kurt actually lives in the CITY of Chicago ( not to be confused with the 100 or so suburbs) and it can be hard to find fresh produce that is locally grown.

Kurt cut a round zucchini into slices and made a pair of tuna sandwiches for a quick and healthy weeknight dinner.  ( or supper )

He made his tuna salad the way he prefers it and added a fresh tomato slice as well.

This is similar to my cucumber sub, but I actually feel this works out better.  This sandwich is not as hard to " sink your teeth" into as the cucumber sub.

But really Kurt, this was a great contribution to our world.  I am looking forward to making one.  Because all of my readers know, I LOVE zucchini!!


Monday, July 30, 2012

Make a "Play Library"

Here is my latest installment in a long line of " Homemade Children's gifts".  I had been thinking about how I was going to make one of these for a while now.  I like to make gifts for kids that help initiate pretend, and learning. I love making gifts for all the children in my life!

I wanted to make a special gift for my cousin's daughter Madison.  Madison is about 10 months older than my son, and Madison has donated MANY of her unused diapers to my son.  That has saved us quite a bit of money. I wanted to show Madison and her parents how much we appreciate them.

Here is a gift that will help Madison turn her book collection into a " at home" library.

How to make a " Play Library"

1) Make Library check out card envelopes I made these check out card holders by taking one out of a local library book, tracing it onto card stock,  and then taping it back in the book.  You don't have to do this, it turns out that you can find free templates online for these envelopes as well.

2) Make " Check out cards" I am not sure if libraries even use these anymore.  For several years now, I have received a  receipt when I check out library books.  This is a cute way to show your kids how the check out system was like in the " olden days".  I found many free printables by googling " Free library card printable".  There are several options to choose from when you do this.

3) Make Labels for your books.  Most libraries have their logo on each book that belongs to them.  I made Madison some labels for her to place on the books that belong to her library.

* If you have more than one child you might want to make your labels with your last name. Like . " This book belongs to the Smith Library"

4) No library is complete without library cards!  How else will you be able to check out books??  I looked at an image of a library card online and just made my own on card stock.

5) Date stamp an ink Every librarian needs a date stamp.  I purchased one on Amazon.com.  A date stamp just makes being a librarian fun!

6) Put all the library items into a box.  I chose a box that looks like a book.  

I am really happy this turned out well.  I am thinking that I might make something similar on a larger scale for all my nieces and nephews for Christmas.  They have almost 6 kids in their family.  I bet they have a few hundred books.

I can't wait to send this to Madison.  I bet Madison and her parents will have a great time putting this together.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tuna Salad Celery Logs

When I started this blog last year, I never intended for it to be a " Food Blog".  Make the best of everything I suppose has a little bit of everything.  Whatever I feel like making.

With that being said, I am sorry that I keep posting all of these " Low Carb Vegetable" posts.  I promise to make a " Bad for you" cake. or a fun kids project sometime soon:)

I guess its a bad time to say that my brother made a " zucchini sandwich" that I will be posting within the next week.

Tuna Salad Celery Logs are meant to be a take on " Ants on a log".  These are a healthy summer lunch.

1) Cut celery sticks to however long you would like them. 

2) Make Tuna salad to your specifications 

3) Spread your tuna salad on the celery.  

4) Top your celery logs with dried cranberries.  or Raisins.  whichever your prefer. Small Apple pieces might also taste good on these. 

Tuna salad celery logs were a great lunch.  its been HOT HOT HOT in southern Iowa this summer.  Its nice to have a few go to dishes that don't require heating up the kitchen!

And of course for all my " Low carb" followers.  This is a lovely lunch for you.  For me, it just evens out ( a little) all my iced coffees I have been drinking in this heat.

Hope you enjoy!

Monday, July 23, 2012

BLT boats!

This is what we had for dinner on Saturday night, my husband and I.   We did not necessarily have this particular meal in mind.  We started out our day at the Farmers Market, which was full of many beautiful dinner possibilities.

This is a photo taken of the Fairfield, Iowa farmers market.  Fairfield, Iowa resides about 20 miles east of our home.  I LOVE Fairfield.  Fairfield is a diverse artistic community, and they have the most amazing food!  Everywhere in the whole town. Organic, healthy and amazing!

I often take " Food field trips " to Fairfield.

We came home with pumpkin blossoms, peach tomatoes, Iowa corn, and locally made goat cheese.  MMM what to make? What to make?

These small gold tomatoes are actually called " Peach tomatoes".  The nice man at the farmers market explained to us that they are much less acidic than regular tomatoes.  I must say, I loved them!

My husband and I decided we wanted to use these in a " BLT" recipe.  I came up with "BLT" boats.

A " BLT" boat is easy to build.  spread a little mayo on a lettuce leaf ( romaine was my lettuce of choice). followed by a piece of bacon. ( we use turkey bacon).  and then load your boat up with tomatoes!

" But Mayo isn't light!"  Okay people,  I can sacrifice bread on a BLT, but don't take away my mayo!  I might just get a little grouchy.

On the side we had " Goat cheese stuffed pumpkin blossoms."  Shortly after arriving home from the farmers market the pumpkin blossoms wilted.  I wonder if I wasn't supposed to put them in the fridge.

I stuffed each blossom with goat cheese.
Tossed them with olive oil.
Sprinkled them with a small amount of whole wheat breadcrumbs.
Baked them at 350 F for about 20 minutes.

I think this was a great alternative to frying them, which was suggested to me when I purchased them.

They were amazing.  This goat cheese we bought was superb.

This was a great dinner.  Although my husband Greg ate a bowl of Cherrios afterwards.  I guess it didn't fill him up.  He still enjoyed the flavors our dinner had to offer.

I have not used the Iowa Corn we purchased at the Farmers market.  Stay tuned.  

Friday, July 20, 2012

Bell Pepper Scoop Chips

I know that on my Facebook page I  have mentioned that We LOVE The Chicago White Sox in our house.  Sometimes on game night ( game night is almost every night during the summer).  We will make a " snacky" dinner and just eat it as we watch the baseball game.

My son is 8 months old, so we can get away with not eating around the table some nights.   I have a feeling next year will be different.

The other night for dinner I made a few " skinny dips"   I wanted our " snacky" dinner to still be healthy, so I created Bell Pepper Scoop chips!

It was a great way to scoop up all of our yummy dip without all those calories ( or carbs)

The best part about this dinner is that it took barely any time to make it!

Here are two recipes I used for Healthier dips.

Skinny Salsa Dip 
* 2 Chicken breasts
* 1 Jar of Salsa
* 1 handful of non fat shredded cheese. ( almost any cheese will work) 

1) Cut the chicken into small pieces
2) Saute chicken in a saucepan
3) Once the chicken is cooked.  Add a jar of salsa and simmer for 5-10 minutes. 
4) When your chicken and salsa are nicely mixed, take off the heat
5) Add the cheese and stir. 

Pea and avocado Hummus
* 1 can of mushy green peas
* 1 avocado
* I clove of garlic
* 1 tablespoon of lime juice. or the juice from 1 lime 
* salt and pepper 
* hot sauce to taste, if you please.  

Place all the ingredients into a food processor and mix to the consistency you prefer! 

Okay, back to my scoop peppers.

I purchased some Locally grown organic bell peppers. Are these not the prettiest peppers?

In order to turn these bell peppers into " Scoop" chips.  Try to cut them up in order to make each piece as " scoopy" as possible.  Some will be " Scoopier" then others.

When I ate this for dinner.  I was surprised on how fast these peppers filled me up.  These peppers are crunchy and crisp.  The scoops fit a nice amount of dip.  This is also a nice light snack or dinner for a hot summer evening.  Also, I think that Bell Pepper Scoop Chips work well with Mexican themed dips.

I really enjoyed these, and I will most defiantly be eating these again.  This was a great " light" dinner.

Well the White Sox lost to the Red Sox that particular evening.  At least I had a great dinner to eat while I was watching the game!!

Like?  Check out my Chicken Salad on a Stick!


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Felt Training Purse

Before I start this post I feel like I have to state the following.  I am not selling these.  This project is not meant to be counterfeit.  I am not REALLY trying to convince people that this is a particular purse brand.

This is a child's purse made from 3 pieces of felt.  I made this for my 18 month old Goddaughter.  This is a Training purse!  It's supposed to help her get ready to own the real thing someday!!!

I actually thought about gluing " K's" onto this purse, because my goddaughter's name is Katelyn.  I asked my Goddaughter's mother what she would prefer on this purse.  She thought it would be cute for me to glue " C's" on this purse so that Katelyn would have a purse " like mommy"

I did not sew this purse.  I used a hot glue gun for the entire thing.

1 piece of tan felt
2 pieces of brown felt
some gold ribbon
2 buttons
hot glue gun/ hot glue sticks.

Directions on how make this training purse:

1)  I folded a piece of beige felt in half and hot glued it to form a purse.  I hot glued a flap. and made button holes with scissors so it would fasten.

2) I cut out " C's"  by free handing a bubble letter, then using that first C to trace the rest of them.  These are also hot glued onto the purse.

3) I hot glued some gold ribbon to the purse for some trim.

4) glued some buttons on the purse and cut also cut button holes.  This was an easy way to make this purse fasten.

5) I hot glued on a strap with some leftover felt.

6) Please remember pull off all the hot glue strings!!  when using as much hot glue as I did, there was a great deal of hot glue gun strings!!.  Especially since I was giving this to an 18 month old, I did not want any of those to end up in her mouth!

Earlier in the week my son and I went to visit Katelyn and her mom in Illinois.  I think Katelyn liked it, her mom tells me she is really into carrying purses around.  

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Dark chocolate apple pops

One of the best parts about being an Aunt is spoiling my 4 nephews and 1 niece.  If you are a reader of my blog, then you know that I make homemade gifts for them frequently.

One week during each summer my nephews and niece who live in the Chicago area, spend a week with my mother and father in law, who live in Iowa.  My in laws plan a " Camping with Grandma and Grandpa" week.

Sleeping in tents.
throwing rocks in the well.
playing with the barn cats

Are all activities the kids enjoy while at Grandma and Grandpa's house.  My son is only 8 months old.  I can't wait until he is old enough to attend " Camp"

Isn't this home just beautiful?  I feel like this house is a classic American " Grandma's house". My mother and father in law truly cherish time with their grand kids, and make some special memories with them here.  This is a fantastic place for the kids to run around care free, like how life used to be.

( Also, if you read my blog, then I must mention to you that HERE is where all the organic vegetables are grown!)

Ok anyways.  back to spoiling my nephews and niece.

My brother and sister in law are very serious about serving their children healthy food.  I wanted to make the kids a special treat, but still respect their parents.

I chose to make Dark chocolate apple pops because they are healthy, delicious and anything that is served on a stick is just fun.

How to make Dark chocolate apple pops.  

1)  Toast almonds. 

2) Cut each apple like the one I cut below.  You will get two apple pops out of each apple.  Cut one slice on each side of the core.  Try not to include the core on your slice.

3) stick a craft stick into each apple slice.  I keep a package of long and thin craft sticks in my kitchen.  I find they are the best to use for items " on a stick"

4) Melt chocolate over a double boiler.  I usually add some butter or shortening to my chocolate. Like in my Tips on dipping cake pops tutorial.   Not this time, as I wanted to respect my brother and sister in law's healthy eating habits.  I melted some dark chocolate over a double boiler and hoped for the best.

5) After dipping each apple in chocolate dip again in the toasted almonds.  

I wanted this treat to be healthy, so I just dipped the top of the apple in chocolate.  I truly believe that less can be more, and in this recipe that is certainly true.

6) brush lemon juice on each apple.  Since I was wrapping these in plastic wrap and bringing them in the cooler all the way to My In law's house, I brushed each apple pop with lemon juice in hopes that the apples would not turn brown.

Wa La!  that is how you make an Apple pop.  What a great little treat for any child or adult that you don't need to fee too guilty about:)