Friday, October 29, 2010

Breadstick Snakes

Today is Alex's class party. Not being sold on all the usual sugar and creepy that accompanies Halloween, I have made it my mission to find cool alternatives. Check out these little guys - inspired by these little guys
Alex helped by rolling and wrapping the dough and by drawing the eyes on (with food coloring markers). I manned the green color mist and the carrot tongues.  They each have their own little personality and Alex is so excited to share them with his friends!

We bought wooden dowels at our local home improvement store and cut them to fit the length of my baking sheets.  Then I covered them in foil and lightly greased them with a little spray olive oil.  We used store-bought breadstick dough and rolled them a little before wrapping them around the sticks.  They baked according to directions and I removed them from the sticks as soon as they were cool enough to touch.

All lined up on a baking rack, I held them over the sink and sprayed them with Color Mist in green (they're not kidding about that overspray warning- it's so fine you almost can't tell it's there -until you add water- so be very careful.  I laughed when I blew my nose before bed and had bright green snot!).  Then, Alex used a food-coloring marker to draw on the eyes.  The markers came in a set and were a bit pricey, but they're what really made the whole process interactive for Alex.  He was able to help with the dough and with the decorating.  He's been complimented by his teachers for having excellent spacial skills, specifically the ability to put facial features where they belong, so I got to employ one of his talents.  He did such a great job.

I wasn't going to put tongues on them, but when I explained the project to Alex he informed me "Mommy, snakes have tongues" and I'm so glad he did.  They'd just be worms otherwise.  I added a little sliver of carrot for a tongue (using a veggie peeler on baby carrots, then just notched a little v out, and I had to cut a little slit in the breadstick with the paring knife before pushing the carrot into place). 

We had a lot of fun working on this project together.  As Alex drew the eyes on, he would speculate about each snake - "this one's sleepy", "this one's looking up at the sky", "this one's funny".   And we managed to get all but the last batch (9 of 36) done between dinner and bedtime.  I'd call that a success.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Balsamic Glazed Chicken

This is another favorite. Seems I can never make too much, as the leftovers never last long regardless the quantity.  Even our 4 year old gobbles this up!

Balsamic Glazed Chicken
1-1.5 lbs chicken, cut in strips or pieces
1-2 T olive oil
1/2 t salt
1/2 t ground black pepper

3/4 c balsamic vinegar
1/4 c soy sauce (reduced sodium preferred)
2 T brown sugar
1 T butter (unsalted if regular soy sauce used)

Toss chicken in oil, salt & pepper.  Cook in wok until done.

While chicken is cooking, simmer vinegar, soy and sugar in large saucepan or pot.  More surface area is better.  Whisk occasionally, until reduced and slightly thickened, 12-14 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in butter until melted.

Toss chicken with balsamic sauce and stir to coat.  Let stand 5 minutes, then stir again.  Serve over rice with veggie of choice.  Yummy!!

When the weather's really nice and Stan's looking for an excuse to grill, or wings are on super sale, we'll make this like the original.  It's just not necessary to enjoying the full flavor of this simple recipe.

Modified from: