Sunday, September 22, 2013

Preschool Lunch Ideas and Organization with help from Sistema Plastics

Oh plastics....

One of life's many conveniences that are toxic to us and hard on our environment. But it's just too hard to give up, for now.

I am relatively new to avoiding BPA and we do try to avoid it as best we can. Especially in long term food storage.

All of this of course becomes even more substantial now that lil girl is in preschool this year! I've been trying to keep her lunchboxes interesting, fun, healthy and exciting.

She isn't the best eater and usually will have a better lunch if something is shaped like a flower, or a man or a tree, even a butterfly. Or in this case, A little man with carrot eyes and mouth!

I knew that because I have a "snacker" and not a foodie on my hands, I needed a BPA free, inexpensive version of a bento box.

This was lil girl's most recent preschool lunch. Sandwhich buddy and yogurt in the large bottom compartment, Apple slices and grapes in the top side compartment, cucumbers in the other and some Annie's chocolate bunnies in the smaller compartment. And guess what, it came home EMPTY! Victory!!

I've been purchasing food storage containers from Sistema since my first real apartment, 8+ years ago.
It keeps food fresh, is priced super reasonably and is very high quality.

Did I mention it goes in the dishwasher safely and comes out sparkling clean?

Because I always have so many ingredients on hand at any given time, even 20 cabinets wouldn't be enough. Things get piled high and I dig around for 15 minutes sometimes looking for the baking powder.

I am so embarassed to show you my cabinets before and after but here goes!

It was pretty much just boxes on top of bags on top of mason jars. I try to keep it as neat as I can but life gets away from you sometimes and you end up with that kind of mess.

Now check it out--

Between my combination of mason jars, tin buckets (targets $1 section) and beautiful Sistema containers, My cabinet is pretty much as neat as its going to get. You can see that most of the bags are now in my new Sistema baker's line(white) and my gluten free pasta, rices and other goodies are in the klip-it line(blue).

Did I mention this closet is right front and center of my dining room? And that the kids leave the door open ALL the time?

Sistema Plastics is one of the few brands that I feel comfortable reviewing and recommending to my beloved readers. With their BPA free materials, sustainable business practices and all around reasonable pricing. The House Of J family will definitely be buying more and more!

I'd love for you to check them out @ and read there awesome story. Basically their company went from a small business, operating in someones garage in New Zealand. With what is now a huge factory warehouse, full staff and available at most of my favorite stores.

House Of J was sent these products gratis to review but the views and opinions expressed are 100% my own. House Of J is not paid in exchange for advertising.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Oktoberfest German Style Soft Pretzels


Filled with flour and gluten and salt... NOT the healthiest treat in the world but delicious and great with a big stein of Oktoberfest beer.

Its an easy process but there is a lot of rising time. So be prepared to wait a few hours to eat your delicious pretzels. Real Authentic pretzels are actually made with food grade lye. But I rather not cook with things that you need to wear goggles and rubber gloves!

You need:
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour 1:1
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 cup warm water plus 2 tablespoons
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided 3 tablespoons and 2 tablespoons
  • Coarse sea salt 

* try using all organic ingredients if possible and full fat butter

Add yeast to the warm water. In the bowl of your electric mixer, add in flour and sugar and make a little well in the middle.

Pour your yeast/water mixture into the well and leave it alone for 15-20 minutes.

When you return to your bowl the flour will be risen a bit and the water will be very bubbly, mix with a slotted spoon or silicone spatula. 

Add in 3tblspoons butter and mix on low speed until dough comes together, you might need to add in 2 additional tablespoons of water. The dough should be just sticky enough to hold together.

Let the dough rest for 40 minutes to an hour.

Beat the dough down and cut into 12 equal strips... I am not Auntie Anne so please excuse my uneven pretzel dough!

roll dough strips on the counter top to desired thickness. The skinnier bigger pretzels are more crisp and the smaller fatter pretzels have softer insides.

Once all your pretzels are shaped, lay them out on a parchment lined baking sheet and place in the fridge for another hour...I KNOW you are desperate to eat them already, but I promise this step is important!

After your last rise, bring a large pot of water to a boil (fill up a little more than half way full) And SLOWLY pour in 1/2 cup of baking soda.

Quickly, 1 pretzel at a time let pretzel soak in the water bath for 5 seconds per side, a wide spatula is the easiest way to flip!

After you dip the pretzel line them back on the parchment lined baking sheets, sprinke desired amount of salt and bake at 400 degrees for 12-17 minutes depending on your level of crisp desired, these were baked for 15 minutes. Use remaining butter (microwave for 20-30 seconds) and lightly brush your warm pretzels with butter, using a pastry brush or basting brush.

Eat with mustard or with House Of J Raw Milk Queso