Posted in Crafts

Adorable Sock Snowman Craft

At a recent holiday party, one of my co-workers was kind enough to demonstrate the assembly of this adorable sock snowman craft.  You won’t believe how quick and easy this no-sew project is to assemble.  A simple white sock, some string, and a few sewing notions make for the cutest of holiday projects for any age to enjoy. 

While I was lucky enough to have a personal tutorial, I was able to find a similar link for a quick tutorial video. Here it is… https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=pB4jFqkn8MY

Posted in appetizers/snacks, breakfast, Kids in the Kitchen, lunch box, No-Bake

Everyday Granola Bars

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During the course of a week, I make several batches of granola bars for my family. There are a few recipes that I use quite frequently and for varying purpose. Take for instance, the Grunt Bars I make when I am looking to boost protein levels, I make Curley Power Bars when I am wanting to provide a recovery bar after a long meet or practice. This recipe for Everyday Granola Bars is one that I usually pack into lunch boxes or have waiting on the counter when kids arrive home from school hungry and looking for something to eat.
I’m a firm believer that providing the family with healthy choices will encourage children to make better food choices for life. I try to stock the fridge and pantry with lots of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and yogurt so that when kids come home famished, they can quickly grab something healthy to tide them over until supper time.
This recipe is easy to adapt to satisfy your family’s preference. Add dried cranberries or raisins, almonds, pecans or sunflower seeds. We just adore dried apricots in this recipe as well. Change things up as you like. Enjoy!

Everyday Granola Bars

3 cups old fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups walnuts, chopped
1 cup dates, chopped
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Coat an 11X7″ baking pan with cooking spray, set aside. Place oats, almonds and dates in a medium bowl; mix thoroughly, set aside. In a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, warm honey and peanut butter; stir until smooth, creamy and pourable. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over oats, dates, and nuts, stir to coat completely.
Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish. Evenly pat down mixture to completely fill the pan. Cover and let stand until set; about 30 minutes. Cut into bars. For added freshness, wrap each bar individually in plastic wrap and store in air-tight container.

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Posted in Baked goods, Chocolate, Food, Kids in the Kitchen

Dump It In Brownies

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Many years ago, while looking through a magazine at one of our regularly scheduled well visits for the kids, I stumbled upon this recipe for brownies. I was amazed by the simplicity involved in making this rich, chocolatey treat.
The first time I used the recipe, I had three small children in tow. All of them sporting hand-made aprons and propped up on stools to assist with the baking project. I had pre-measured all of the ingredients and had things lined up so that the kids could pour everything into the bowl before mixing. I kept saying, “Go ahead, guys…just dump it in!” Well, the look on their faces was priceless! Mom is actually letting us just dump this stuff in? I’m usually quite methodical when baking so my carefree attitude was really messing with their minds.
Weeks later, K asked if we could bake again. She asked if we could make the “dump it in” recipe. Well, the name stuck and that’s what we called these moist, delicious brownies ever since. I’ve changed up the recipe a bit but it certainly is a moist flavorful treat, that’s fun to make with the kiddos.

Dump It In Brownies

2 cups sugar
5 eggs, beaten
1 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray with cooking spray, a 9×13 inch baking pan.
In a large bowl, dump in all ingredients. Combine well, stirring just until moistened. Spread the batter evenly into prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in preheated oven, or until brownies start to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cool completely before icing. Sprinkle extra chips over chocolate frosting of your choice.

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Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Chocolate, Desserts, Food, Gifts, Homemade Mixes, Kids in the Kitchen, lunch box

Scrumptious 1,2,3 Cake

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This little cake is so light and sweet it’s like eating chocolate cotton candy!
It’s called the (1) One – (2) Two – (3) Three Cake and it’s really delicious. You won’t believe that there are only two ingredients involved here!

This past Christmas, my daughter arrived home from college for her holiday break. Her suitcase was filled with lots of dirty clothes, books to sell after a long semester, and a beautiful jar filled with a taupe colored, powdery mix; a recipe card attached. The jar was wrapped in a ball of crinkled holiday, tissue paper. In the rush of unpacking and catching up, the jar was put aside. A few hours later, I noticed the jar on the kitchen counter. The container was quite beautiful and I was intrigued by the contents so I carefully read the attached index card.

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Well, I couldn’t resist the temptation. I quickly scooped out 3 tablespoons of the mix and added 2 tablespoons of water. I swirled it around in a heat-safe mug and popped it in the microwave. As I looked through the viewing glass, the mix immediately began to rise and puff up. It was like magic, the speed at which it rose. I patiently waited the full minute as the kitchen began to smell like a baker’s wonderland. When the bell went off, I retrieved my creation and quickly ran to tell everyone what had transpired. We all grabbed a spoon and tested the sweet chocolatey mound. Ohhhh, it was so delicious! Now, I really try to stay away from sugar so I took the tiniest of bites but I was delighted that it turned out so spectacular. And, oh, it was so simple!

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So here’s what you do…

(1) One – (2)Two – (3) Three Cake

1 package chocolate cake mix
1 package angel food cake mix

In a large bowl, combine dry cake mix packages; mix well. Carefully pour into an airtight container.

Attach an index card to the jar with baking instructions:

Mix, in a microwave safe cup, 3 tablespoons mix with 2 tablespoons water. Pop it in the microwave for 1 minute. 3,2,1… Enjoy!

Don’t limit yourself… Use any flavor cake mix you like. Add chocolate chips or top with whipped topping and fruit. This would be a great recipe to make with young children. I think you’ll really enjoy this…what fun!

Posted in Crafts, Gifts, holidays, Homemade Mixes

Christmas Treasure Hunt in a Jar

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This is a great kid-friendly Christmas gift for those of you looking for a few last minute ideas. The Treasure Hunt in a Jar can be made with a theme in mind… Make them for holidays, sports fanatics, those that like to craft, sew or bake. Find trinkets at the dollar store or your local craft store to match your theme. I am always amazed at how interested guests are in finding all of the hidden trinkets in the jar. Most times, there are a few people patiently waiting for their turn at finding all the treasures.

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This is a also great little craft project that can easily be made for a fundraising activity. Your group can make several of them to sell at local craft fairs or community fundraisers. Weeks before the event, ask everyone to gather up items to be recycled or repurposed for the project. Collect used jars of all shapes and sizes, lots of small “treasures” to place in the jars, and a big bag of bird seed. This is an ideal project for both the young and the old. Don’t be surprised if the jars sell out quickly. Your group will be quite proud of their accomplishment!

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A Treasure Hunt in a Jar

Recycled jar with tight fitting lid
Bird seed
Found objects to place in the jar like a…
penny
nickel
safety pin
bobby pin
rubber band
macaroni
marble
paper clip
bead
tack
toothpick
red button
screw
bread tie

Make sure jar is thoroughly washed, clean and dry. Pour bird seed into the jar, filling only half-way. Place “treasures” into the jar. Now, continue to fill the jar with bird seed; about 3/4 full, leaving enough space for items to move while searching for treasures. Cover jar, tightly securing the lid. Print up a “treasure” item list and the following saying on colorful card stock or scrap book paper and attach to the jar with a ribbon.

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Attach this little note along with a list of all the treasures to be found:
Here’s a little treasure jar, with lots of hidden things.
See how many you can find, and how much fun it brings!

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Desserts, Food, Gardening, Gifts, lunch box

Sunflower Lollipop Cookies

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This recipe is from an old cookbook that I have used for years. When my children were little, we lived one block away from their grade school. For school parties, I always made a basket of lollipop cookies reflecting whichever festive holiday season the classroom may be celebrating…sunflowers for the early fall, ghosts and goblins for Halloween, colorful leaves and turkeys for Thanksgiving, Christmas trees and snow people for the winter parties. I’d pack a festive bucket or basket with floral foam, push the lollipop sticks into the foam, wrap the whole thing in cellophane wrap and tie a pretty bow to the outside of the package. Everyone’s eyes would light up as I entered the classroom with my package of goodies.
What I like most about this recipe is that the cookie dough is simple to make with just a few ingredients and that the dough doesn’t have to be chilled before rolling it out. (When I start a project, I want to get it done quick… I have no patience waiting for the dough to chill and harden for an hour.)
Adding food coloring to the dough is also a time-saver…no need for icing. This recipe has always been a holiday favorite in my house!

Sunflower Lollipop Cookies

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups flour
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

(Extra Supplies)
Flower cookie cutter
Yellow icing color
1 pkg. 8″ lollipop sticks

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add baking powder and flour. Tint cookie dough with icing color. Pinch off a small amount of dough, make twelve to eighteen 1/4″ balls. Place balls, 3″ apart on cookie sheets. This will serve as the cookie base. Press lollipop stick into each ball; flatten slightly. Roll remaining dough out at 1/4″ thick. Cut dough, dipping cookie cutters in flour before use. Place cutout cookie on each stick, press lightly to attached cutout to cookie base. Add chocolate chips to each cutout center. Bake for 8-12 minutes until slightly golden around the edges. Cool completely before carefully removing from cookie sheet.

(Adapted from Wilton Gifts from the Kitchen Cookbook)

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Posted in appetizers/snacks, breakfast, Desserts, Kids in the Kitchen, lunch box, No-Bake

No-Bake Oat and Honey Snack Bites

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If you like peanut butter, you will love this no-bake treat. I’ve made several variations of this recipe over the years but this one is so simple and produces about 36 rounds of goodness. After parking these in the fridge for about 30 minutes, I pack them in a Tupperware container so I can tuck them into lunch boxes all week long.

No-Bake Oat and Honey Snack Bites

2 1/4 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup natural peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Combine peanut butter, honey, and maple syrup; mix thoroughly. Sprinkle in the oats and chocolate chips. Use a small ice cream scoop to shape dough into individual 1″ balls. Place on a cookie sheet and chill for 30 minutes. Pack into air-tight container. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

Posted in Baked goods, breakfast, Brunch, eggs, Food, Kids in the Kitchen, Main Dish

Scrambled Egg Squares (Strawberry Shortcake Eggs)

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This is one of the first recipes M&K were able to make on their own. About 12 years ago, during a Scholastic Book Fair, M spied a Strawberry Shortcake Berry Yummy Cook Book named for her favorite cartoon character called Strawberry Shortcake. She fell in love with the book on the spot. We brought it home and she went to work trying to find the perfect first recipe to make for Saturday breakfast.

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Early Saturday morning, M&K put on their aprons and began assembling the egg dish. They did a fantastic job measuring and pouring ingredients. They were delighted when we pulled the completed dish from the oven.
The original recipe was called Huckleberry Pie’s Hash Brown Bake (so cute). At the time, the recipe included hash brown potatoes but we weren’t fond of the soggy potatoes in the dish so we tweaked it a bit. We gave our adapted dish a new name; Strawberry Shortcake Eggs.
(Note: I have renamed the dish to Scrambled Egg Squares for the blog just because I didn’t want to confuse readers; I didn’t want anyone to think that strawberry shortcake was part of the recipe! 🙂

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The best part about making a pan of these eggs is that they are great for feeding a crowd or a big family quickly. Just pour the beaten eggs into the pan with a few other ingredients and in 20 minutes, you’ve got lots of eggs. I often wrap the cooked squares individually in plastic wrap and freeze them. Later, I use them to make breakfast sandwiches by combining an egg square with an English muffin, a sausage patty (optional), and a slice of cheese.

Scrambled Egg Squares ( Strawberry Shortcake Eggs)

8 eggs
3/4 cup milk or half & half
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons Ready to Serve Real Bacon Bits, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13×9″ baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs with milk or half&half. Stir in shredded cheese, and bacon pieces. Pour into baking pan and bake for 17-20 minutes or until set, puffy, and lightly browned. Cool slightly before cutting into squares.

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Posted in Crafts, Quilting, Sewing

M’s Patchwork Travel Quilt

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M’s Patchwork Travel Quilt

This is a project that my daughter and I made together. I wanted her to get experience on the sewing machine without having to fiddle with a lot of busy work while she sewed. What I love about the project is that the seams are pinked with shears and its all simple, straightforward measuring and sewing. We picked out four coordinating flannel fabrics and cut 112 (6×6″) squares with pinking shears. We placed the squares 8 across and 14 down. (You can certainly make it larger or smaller to suit your needs. ) M sewed the rows with seams, wrong sides together, for a more rustic look. Before adding a pieced backing (made with odd shaped flannel scraps), M stitched three colored ribbons into the side seam of this travel blanket so that it can be tucked away and pulled out when needed. M sometimes ties her blanket to her backpack or suitcase so it’s there when she needs it. I’ve washed this several times and it seems to get softer with each washing. This is a great beginner quilt project for kids!

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