Homemade Play Dough

Homemade Play Dough

Homespun with Lori - www.cobornsblog.com
Lori

There are a lot of homemade play dough recipes out there. I have tried a few and let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty. So I wanted to share with you a recipe that actually works and is fun to make with your kids.

Continue reading “Homemade Play Dough”

6 Quick and Easy Salads in a Jar

Quick and Easy Salads in a Jar

http://cobornsblog.com/category/blog/crafty-creations/
Lynell

This fall the Coborn’s Support Center moved to a brand new building. The building, my workspace and the entire campus are absolutely beautiful and it creates a wonderful atmosphere to work at, but unfortunately I have to drive a little farther for my daily commute. With busy mornings where you are trying to get up and go quickly, I needed something that makes planning out lunches a little bit easier.

I suppose the easiest lunchtime solution is to go out to eat, which I’ll admit is nice occasionally, but it can be pricey to do everyday Kraft-Dressingand not always healthy for you. That’s why I’ve collected some delicious recipes to share with you all that I promise will spruce up any boring lunch routine!

Food Prep Freshness

Glass mason jars help to keep the salads very fresh, and by using wide mouth  jars I have created delicious salads that are perfect for anyone on the go or looking for a healthy and fun way to get their greens in- no salad bowl necessary. My mason jars were even chalkboard jars I picked up from a craft store for added lunchtime creativity!

Everything on my Facebook homepage lately seems to feature food recipes, clean eating blogs and meal prepping ideas. What better way to follow suit than to make my complete week of salads on Sunday evening and have them ready to go for the entire week.

I love the taste, freshness and most of all the convenience of these Mason Jar Salads. Best of all you can make so many different varieties, which means lunchtime doesn’t need to be boring, it can be as original as each day of the week!

Check out some of the recipes for these Mason Jar Salads below:

Dietitian’s Choice Salad

Dietitian's Choice Salad

Dietitian's Choice Salad
 
Ingredients
  • 2 T. Kraft Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • 4-6 Baby Carrots, chopped
  • ¼ Cup Peas
  • ¼ Cup Peppers, chopped
  • ¼ Cup Garbonzo Beans
  • ¼ Cup Reduced Fat Feta Cheese
  • ½ Cup Tomato, chopped
  • 2 Cups Spring Mix Salad Greens with Kale
Instructions
  1. Wash Jar.
  2. In the same order that is listed above add your ingredients to a wide mouthed mason jar.
  3. Shake jar when ready to be eaten and refrigerate if you are saving it for a later date.
Notes
Dietitian's Notes:
-This salad is great because the wide variety of vegetables are full of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
-Add dried cranberries to your salad to represent as many food groups as possible, but make sure no sugar is added!
-Make sure you always have beans or some sort of protein added to your meals, and if a salad is your full meal make extra sure they are added!
-Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar add a great flavor and provide healthy fats.
-Aside from the Feta Cheese (19) and the Balsamic Vinegar (18) all of these ingredients have a 100 on the NuVal Scoring System!

 

BLT Avocado Salad

BLT Avocado Salad

BLT Avocado Salad
 
Ingredients
  • 2 T. Kraft Bleu Cheese
  • ½ Cup Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 Avocado, chopped
  • 6 Bacon Slices, cooked and chopped
  • 2 Cups Lettuce or Spinach Mix
Instructions
  1. Wash Mason Jar.
  2. Add ingredients in the order listed above.
  3. Keep refrigerated until ready to eat.
  4. Shake jar, add chips and enjoy!

 

Greek Salad

Greek Salad

Greek Salad
 
Ingredients
  • 2 T. Kraft Red Wine Vinaigrette Dressing
  • ½ Cup Cucumber, chopped
  • ½ Cup Tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 T. Red Onion
  • 4 Oz. Skinless Chicken Breast, cooked and chopped
  • 2 T. Reduced Fat Crumbled Feta Cheese
  • 1 T. Black Olives, chopped
  • 2 Cups Romaine Lettuce, chopped
Instructions
  1. Wash Mason Jar.
  2. Layer jar with dressing, cucumbers, tomatoes and onions.
  3. Add in chicken, feta cheese and olives.
  4. Top with lettuce.
  5. Refrigerate until ready to eat.
  6. When ready to eat shake jar.

 

Mom’s Salad

Mom's Salad Jar

Mom's Salad
 
Ingredients
  • 2 T. Kraft Bleu Cheese Dressing
  • 4-6 Baby Carrots, chopped
  • ¼ Cup Cauliflower, chopped
  • 2 Oz. Bacon Real Bites
  • 2 Cups Romaine Lettuce
Instructions
  1. Wash Mason Jar.
  2. Add ingredients in the order as listed above.
  3. When ready to eat shake jar and enjoy.
  4. Be sure to refrigerate if salad is going to be eaten at a later date.

 

Taco Salad

Taco Salad Jar

Taco Salad
 
Ingredients
  • 2 T. Kraft Classic Catalina Dressing
  • 1 T. Salsa
  • 2 T. Sour Cream
  • ¼ Cup Taco Meat
  • ½ Cup Tomatoes, chopped
  • ¼ Cup Kidney Beans
  • ⅛ Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • ½ Cup Tortilla Chips, crushed
  • 2 Lettuce, shredded
Instructions
  1. Wash Jar.
  2. Add ingredients in same order as listed above.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to eat.
  4. When ready to eat shake jar.

 

Strawberry Poppyseed Salad

Strawberry Poppyseed Salad

Strawberry Poppyseed Salad
 
Ingredients
  • 2 T. Kraft Creamy Poppyseed Dressing
  • ½ Cup Strawberries, sliced
  • ¼ Cup Blueberries
  • ¼ Cup Almonds
  • 2 Cups Romaine and Spinach to Brim of Jar
Instructions
  1. Wash Jar.
  2. Wash produce.
  3. Add ingredients in order to above and keep refrigerated.
  4. When ready to eat shake jar and enjoy.
Notes
Additional optional topping:
Mandrain Oranges

 

Tips & Tricks

The number one most important rule to remember when making these salads is to always keep the dressing at the bottom and the salad greens at the top of the jar. Keep the two layers as far away from one another as possible by having them separated with your hard veggies, protein and soft veggies. If you do that, your greens will stay crispy and fresh with no problems.

Follow this Layer List:

  •  Layer 1 (Bottom of Jar): 2-4 T. Dressing of Choice
  • Layer 2: Hard Veggies- This is where you add in carrots, bell peppers, celery, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.
  • Layer 3: Protein- This is where you will add the cheese, meats, beans, hard-boiled eggs, etc.
  • Layer 4: Soft Veggies- In this section you will add tomatoes, onions, corn, avocado, etc.
  • Layer 5 (Top of Jar): Greens to the Brim- Add in your lettuce and/or spinach.

Try to keep the ratio of each jar about half-and-half. That means half of the jar holds the toppings, dressing, grains, proteins and half of the jar holds the greens.

As I mentioned I like to make several of these jars on Sunday evening so I’m prepared for speedy grab and go lunches later on in the week. Luckily these salads last a week in the refrigerator!

Because these jars are so full to the brim you might have to eat off a layer or two of greens (yum!), then replace the lid, shake the heck out of it to distribute the dressing, and then dig right in with a fork.

Hope you enjoy my creations and they make meal planning a success!

Lynell
Coborn’s, Inc. Graphic Designer

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www.cobornsblog.com - Crafty Creations by Lynell

Tons of Tomatoes!

Neighborhood-Salsa

www.cobornsblog.com - Coborn's Blogger - Rebecca K.
Rebecca

Does it ever seem like you have tomatoes coming out of your ears? Each fall, my family pulls in the last of the half-green tomatoes and sets them on the front porch to finish ripening. It never seems like much, until pail after pail is unloaded and eventually we realize we overplanted once again.

Typically, this means we have a wonderful salsa-making session in store, along with making a bunch of spaghetti sauce. The whole family gets involved in the tomato prep process, and it’s great to involve even itsy bitsy children. Our little guy has the very important job of making sure the tomatoes are clean. We give him a couple of big bowls of water, a wooden spoon and some towels. He sticks some tomatoes into one water bowl, dunks them with the spoon, and then transfers them to the next bowl of water to rinse, dunking them again with the spoon before moving them to the towels. We found that one of our twins is naturally persnickety, which makes her a perfect tomato skin peeler. HerSalsa-Chefs twin sister loves getting messy. Her job is to take the skinned tomato, shove her thumbs up inside the walls of it, and scrape the seeds down into the sink.

Last year, our autumn got away from us, so I simply washed those tomatoes, stuck them in zippered freezer bags, and froze them until we had a free weekend later in the year. Sure enough, as they thawed, the skins slid right off, saving us a step of having to par-boil in order to remove the bitter skins.

A few years ago, our neighbors were trading jars of salsa, everyone sampling the others and enjoying the variety of flavors. We discovered that our next door neighbors’ salsa tasted remarkably similar to ours. A comparison of “family” recipes revealed that our recipes were nearly identical – the only difference was that ours included carrots! We all had a good laugh over that and both adjusted our recipe cards to say “Neighborhood Salsa.”

This year, we’re freezing a bunch of tomatoes again for salsas and sauces, but not before pulling out a handful of the reddest cherry tomatoes out for my favorite lunch dish: Tabouli. This fresh meal originates from Lebanon and is very healthy and delicious (it’s sometimes spelled Tabbouleh). It’s full of parsley, tomatoes, onion, herbs, lemon, quinoa and bulgur wheat, which is a rich source of protein, fiber and minerals, and yet is low in calories and fat. I like to serve it in pitas and while it may look pretty earthy, even my meat-loving family enjoys it.

Below are the recipes for my favorite Neighborhood Salsa and Tabouli. Enjoy!

Neighborhood Salsa
 
Ingredients
  • ⅓ Cup Sugar
  • 8 Cups Tomatoes, peeled and seeded
  • 2½ Cups Onions, chopped
  • 1½ Cups Green Pepper, chopped
  • 1 Cup Jalapeño, diced
  • 6 Cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. Cumin
  • 2 tsp. Ground Pepper
  • ⅛ Cup Canning Salt
  • ⅓ Cup White Vinegar
  • 15 Oz. Can Tomato Sauce
  • 12 Oz. Can Tomato Paste
  • 1 Cup Carrots, shredded (if you need to mellow out the heat of the Jalapeños)
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients and bring to a slow boil for 10 minutes.
  2. Taste test. If it’s too hot, add a half cup of shredded carrots and let cook for another 10 minutes.
  3. Taste test again. If it’s still too hot, add another half cup of carrots and look for 10 more minutes.
  4. Seal in jars and cook in a hot bath for 10 minutes. (I follow the Ball canning instructions exactly for food safety.)
Notes
Tomato skins and seeds both are bitter, so you can get rid of them.

 Tabouli

Tabouli

Tabouli
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Cups Prepared Quinoa/Bulgur Blend (Full Circle brand in the Natural Foods department)
  • 1 Pinch Salt
  • ¼ Cup Olive or Grape Seed Oil
  • ½ tsp. Pepper
  • ¼ Cup Lemon Juice
  • 3 Medium Tomatoes, diced
  • 2 Bunches Green Onions, diced
  • 1 Bunch Fresh Parsley, destemmed and chopped coarsely
  • 2 tsp. Fresh Mint, chopped finely
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients and cover tightly.
  2. Let the mixture marinate in the refrigerator for a couple days.
  3. Serve in pita pockets, in lettuce wraps, or on crackers.
Notes
• Invite others to help with plucking the parsley off the stems. The stems are bitter. It’s a tedious process, but the kids are great helpers and it’s an easy way for them to use their fine motor skills.
• Some chefs mince the parsley up very finely, but we prefer ours a little heartier. It stays fluffier – more like a salad and less like a dip.
• If your tabouli is not flavorful enough, add more salt and more lemon juice. My family prefers the recipe as listed above, but I always set aside some for myself and then I sprinkle a lot more lemon juice over the top of it.

 

Rebecca
Coborn’s, Inc. Communications Manager

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www.cobornsblog.com - Fun with Family with Rebecca

 

Homemade Salsa

Homemade Salsa www.cobornsblog.com

Ashley Maurer www.cobornsblog.comSalsa has always been something we had on hand growing up, and that is still true for me today. It’s a great addition to many recipes and is always a hit when put out with chips for an appetizer. One of the best things about salsa is it can be made so many different ways using such a large variety of ingredients.

I decided to try canning salsa this year for the first time and I am definitely happy with the result. I’ll be adding this to my yearly canning list from now on! This is such a fun thing to make since you have so much control over what to put in it.

Here is how I did mine:

 

Ingredients:

5 Cups Tomatoes, peeled & cored (about 13-15 medium)
2 ½ Cups Bell Peppers, chopped & seeded (2-3 medium)
2 ½ Cups Onions (2 Large)
1 Cup Hot Peppers, chopped & seeded (10-20 Jalapeno, Serrano, etc.)
¾ Cup Cider Vinegar
1 Tbsp. Cilantro, finely chopped

Equipment:
8-10 Half Pint Jars, with lids and rings
Knife
Cutting Board
2 Medium Bowls
2 Large Pots
Small Pot
Slotted Spoon
Funnel Or Glass Measuring Jar With Handle
Jar Lifter (optional)
Jar Separator (optional)

Homemade Salsa Steps www.cobornsblog.comDirections:
Start by putting hot water into pots. If you bought tomatoes, make sure to remove any stickers and vines. Put tomatoes into one of the large pots and bring to a boil.

In the other large pot, bring half pint jars to a boil to sanitize. Bring lids to a simmer in small pot.

While those are going, start chopping other veggies, making sure to wear gloves while cutting peppers. This can be time consuming so keep an eye on the tomatoes as you chop. Just toss all the finished veggies in a bowl.

The skins of the tomatoes will split, meaning they are ready to take out. We let ours cook for a while even after they split since it softens them further. It’s not an exact science; so don’t worry if they stay in a little longer while you are finishing up chopping other veggies.

Take a slotted spoon and carefully scoop out tomatoes setting them in a separate bowl. Empty water out of the pot and set back on stove. Carefully take each tomato in the slotted spoon and run under cold water so you are able to peel off the skins without burning your fingers. Once the skin is removed, take a knife and cut out the core. Discard cores and skins.

Place cored tomatoes back into the same pot they were boiled in. Cut up any large chunks. Add all the other veggies and vinegar to the tomatoes. Bring to a medium boil and stir frequently so the bottom doesn’t burn. Mixture should thicken up as it cooks, about 10-15 minutes.

Once thickened, pull out jars from boiling water using a tongs and pour water out of them. Set them on a towel (open side up) and space them out. Then take a glass measuring cup with handle, or a ladle, and carefully fill each jar. If you don’t have a funnel, use a spoon to direct salsa into jars. Leave half inch of space at the top.

This recipe should make about 8-9 half pint jars of salsa, but it can vary. If you have a partial jar you can set that one in fridge to use first since they need to be filled to seal properly.

After they are filled, carefully wipe the rims if needed. Take lids out of simmering water and place on jars, followed by rings. Using a towel or hot pad, carefully screw rings on to tighten lids in place. Try to avoid touching the center of lid.

Once lids are on, place jars into boiling water again. The water should not cover the lids, so remove some water if needed. Boil for 15 minutes and remove, setting on a towel to cool. The small half pint jars seal relatively fast, so within a few minutes you may hear the “pop” of the seal setting. Let them sit and cool overnight before moving them. Store in a cool dry place out of the sun.

Now you will have salsa you can enjoy all year round, if it lasts that long! Don’t be afraid to play with the ingredients. I did 3 different colors of bell peppers and 2 different colors of onions. This can be adjusted depending on what you may have growing in your garden or what you are able to buy. Just try to keep the amount the same even if you change the variety of that ingredient. I’ve also included another free printable label sheet you can use to show the date it was made and what flavor it is.

Have fun and happy chopping!

Ashley
Coborn’s Inc. Graphic Designer

Homemade Made Easy www.cobornsblog.com

Homemade Pickles

Homemade Pickles www.cobornsblog.com

Ashley Maurer www.cobornsblog.comGrowing up I remember the end every summer my mom would take over the kitchen. The counter would be covered in jars, dill and cucumbers. The smell of the vinegar and fresh dill is not something that is easily forgotten.

This year my husband and I decided to grow our own garden for the first time. We have been very fortunate to have plenty of veggies, more than the two of us can eat. Last year we canned homegrown cucumbers that were given to us, so this year we are excited to pickle our own homegrown cucumbers.

Since I wanted to get this blog out in time for canning season, I bought cucumbers from my local Coborn’s store. The fresher the cucumbers are the better the pickles will turn out.

Here’s the method I used. This can be easily adjusted if you are doing larger batches.

Ingredients:
7-9 Medium to Large Cucumbers (quantity varies depending on size)
12 Garlic Cloves (2 Per Jar), peeled and smashed
Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
1 Large Bunch Fresh Dill Flowers Per Jar Or
1 tsp dill seed Per Jar

Brine:
4 Cups Cider Vinegar
4 Cups Water
6 Tbsp Pickling Salt or Kosher Salt

Equipment:
Knife
Cutting Board
6 Wide-Mouth Pint Jars With Lids
Funnel Or Glass Measuring Jar With Handle
Large Pot
Medium Pot
Small Pot
Jar Lifter (optional)
Jar Separator (optional)

Homemade Pickles Steps www.cobornsblog.comDirections:
First you want to make sure to sterilize the jars and lids by boiling them in a large pot of water for about 10 minutes. This will help kill any bacteria and increase the time they will stay preserved when stored in a cool, dry place that is out of the sun. If you are only doing a couple jars and are going to store them in the fridge, you can just wash the jars in hot soapy water or run them through the dishwasher on a sanitize cycle by themselves. You will still have to boil the lids in a smaller pot or they wont seal properly.

While the jars are getting sterilized, you can prep the cucumbers. Wash them very well and rub the skin with your hands to get any little prickly pieces or dirt off. Cut off the end with the blossom and discard that piece. It contains enzymes that can prevent the pickles from getting nice and crisp. Then cut them into spears or chips as desired.

To make the brine combine water, vinegar and salt in a pot and bring to a rolling boil ensuring all the salt has dissolved.

Pull the jars out once while the brine is heating up. A tongs works great for this. Set them open side up on a towel. Carefully add dill (or Dill Seed), smashed garlic cloves and any other optional ingredients to each jar. Fill the jar the rest of the way with the cucumber spears or chips until full. Make sure they are about ½ inch below the top of the jar. Pack them nice and full but try not to smash them.

Once brine is boiling, carefully pour using a ladle or glass measuring cup with a handle into each jar of cucumbers. A funnel comes in very handy for this. If needed, tap the jars on the counter to get any air bubbles out. Add more brine if needed until the cucumbers are covered, about ½ inch from the top.

Once the brine is in the jar, take a lid out of the small pot of boiling water. Using a fork for this may be helpful. Place lid on jar and screw ring on until tight. Jars are hot, so carefully hold with towel or potholder if needed.

At this point you have two options. If you’re only making a couple jars and want to be able to eat them sooner, you can let the jars sit out at room temperature overnight. Ideally they should seal as they cool making a slight “popping” noise. If they don’t pop that’s fine, they just wont keep quite as long. So any that don’t pop make sure to eat up first! After they have cooled, put them in the fridge and let them sit for at least a couple days before opening them.

If you want the pickles to be processed for longer storage, then you have one more step. After putting lids and rings on each jar, place the jars in boiling water. A jar separator will help the water circulate around the jars better, but if you don’t have one, just make sure the jars are spaced out as best as you can and that the water doesn’t go over the top of them.

The boil may subside after you place them in, so after it comes back to a full boil set the timer for no more than 5 minutes. I set mine for 4 so I didn’t feel rushed to get them out. Remove the jars carefully and let them sit out to cool overnight.

In the morning make sure the lids are sealed. If you can push down on any of the lids and hear a popping noise that means they didn’t seal properly. Put those in the fridge to eat first. The rest, once cooled and sealed can get placed in a cool, dry place out of the sun. Wait at least 8 weeks before opening. After they are opened make sure to store them in the fridge.

And that’s it! It takes a little bit of time to do, but the results are worth it. I’ve also included a free printable label sheet you can use so you know what date they were made and what flavors they are. Don’t be afraid to get creative. Some other ingredients you can try putting in to spice things up are red pepper flakes, jalapeño peppers and Serrano peppers just to name a few.

Another great thing about canning is the timing is great for Holiday gifts. If you process them for long-term storage, they will be ready to eat by winter. You can even put a piece of fabric on them or tie some ribbon around them to add some Holiday cheer.

Have fun and happy canning!

Ashley
Coborn’s Inc. Graphic Designer

Homemade Made Easy www.cobornsblog.com