Monday, February 28, 2011

Party Pancakes!!


We love Pancakes!!!


They are so versatile. You can put just about anything in them (and we have!). Ben had the idea to put teddy grahams in them. So, we thought, what else could go in a pancake? How about sprinkles or Fruity Pebbles cereal?


These may not be everyday pancakes. However,once and a while, why not! These pancakes will make you the hit of the next sleepover!


Mix up a batch of your favorite pancake batter. Then look through your pantry for some fun add ins.
We used:

  • mini chocolate chips

  • chocolate mini teddy grahams

  • sprinkles

  • fruity pebbles

We call these peek-a-boo bears. Add a few bears to your pancake just before you flip the pancake.

How cute are these little guys peeking out of the pancakes!

The bears get nice and soft while they cook!


Stir in some fruity pebbles or other favorite cereal. We added a few more on top before the pancakes were flipped.


These cheerful pancakes look like they are made with confetti. Our boys thought they would be great birthday pancakes!




We decided to kick up classic chocolate chip pancakes with some colorful sprinkles. Like the others, we added a few extra sprinkles on top before we flipped the pancakes.

These were the Mama's favs! Chocolate makes everything better! The kids thought mixing all the ingredients together was the best idea! Delicious!

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Coffee Toffee Ice Cream Cupcakes


Five words that are all delicious on their own - but put them together and WOW! Super yummy (and incredibly easy) treats!

Ingredients
1 10 3/4-oz. frozen pound cake
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

2 pints coffee ice cream, slightly softened
1 cup chocolate-covered toffee bits, such as Heath Bar Bits O'Brickle


Preparation
1. Arrange 12 paper liners in a 12-cup muffin tin. Cut pound cake into 1/2-inc
h-thick slices. Use a 2-inch biscuit cutter to cut 12 circles from slices, reserving scraps for another use. Place circles in bottoms of cupcake liners. *If you don't have a biscuit or cookie cutter the right size - guess what! A shot glass works perfect*


2. Combine heavy cream and confectioners' sugar in a bowl and whip with an electric mixer until cream holds stiff peaks.


3. Scoop ice cream into a large bowl. Reserve 1/4 cup Heath Bar Bits; add remaining Bits to bowl with ice cream. Combine by mashing ice cream and candy with back of a large spoon. (If ice cream gets too soft, place bowl in freezer for 10 minutes before continuing.)


4. Top each pound-cake circle with a scoop of ice cream and cover with whipped cream. Sprinkle with remaining Heath Bar Bits. Lightly drape cupcakes with plastic wrap and place in freezer until firm, at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.


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Monday, February 21, 2011

Frozen Cookie Dough Balls

The best part about baking cookies, as we all well know, is "sampling" the batter before it goes into the oven. This is one of our fondest memories as kids, But nowadays we worry about our families eating raw eggs - our kids have actually never tasted raw dough! That seems almost criminal! But, thankfully, we found this great recipe for making Frozen Cookie Dough Balls - all the fun of eating raw cookie dough without the eggs! We made a few adjustments to the original recipe and thought we'd share it with you. It is so easy and SO DELICIOUS!

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp. water
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
In a large bowl, first cream your sugars and butter. The mix in your other ingredients, stirring in the chocolate chips last. If your dough is looking a little dry and crumbly, add more water, a few drops at a time, until you get a nice, workable dough.

Roll your dough into small balls and put them on a cookie sheet. We were able to make 56 balls, though we probably could have had more but there was quite a bit of sampling going on... Pop them in the freezer until you can't wait any more, then pop them in your mouth!

You can leave them plain, if you like, but we think a little more chocolate makes everything better. We decided to dip our frozen balls of doughy goodness into meted chocolate. Heavenly!

These keep great in either the fridge or freezer, depending on how firm you like your dough balls. A word of caution: These are ADDICTIVE! We can't go into the kitchen without sneaking one...or three...
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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Good Clean Fun!!!

Why not turn bath time into a fun, creative art time with bath paints.
We came up with this fun project to help persuade 2 year old Charlie into taking a bath (older kids will love these too). He eagerly jumped in the tub and didn't want to get out.

We found several recipes that called for using dish detergent to make your tub paint. That seemed too harsh for paint that would be all over our kids. We used Suave Kids free and gentle body wash. It is clear and gentle on their skin. Great for tub paint! We found that this recipe cleaned up easily, but you might want to test it first on your grout.

Our recipe:

  • 1/2 cup body wash
  • 5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • food coloring

Mix the cornstarch with the soap. You may need to adjust the amount depending on your soap. Mix it in one tablespoon at a time. Divide mixture into smaller bowls. We used small containers with lids to save for future baths. Add a drop or two of food coloring to each bowl and stir.

Now it is time to paint...

walls, tub and faces..

...use fingers, paint brushes or even your toes!!
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Monday, February 14, 2011

A Very Frosty Valentine

Happy Valentine's Day! Hope you get to spend some quality time with your loved ones today! We decided to do a project with our little ones to get ready for today. We wanted to make some decorations for the outside of our house. But what can you decorate with when it's this cold outside?? Our solution? Ice! We had found silicone heart-shaped muffin tins in the dollar section at Target, and knew that we could find other uses for it besides food. We decided to make Heart-Shaped Ice Ornaments to hang on our tree outside!

What You Need:
  • Silicone muffin tin (we used a valentine one, but any shape would be cute!
  • Water mixed with food coloring (we used red and purple for Valentine's Day!)
  • String or twine

We first cut a few inches of string and tied it into loops. Then we placed them into our muffin tins making sure that the ends didn't dip into the surrounding molds.

Next we filled our muffin tin with the colored water and popped them into the freezer for a few hours. Silicone trays are very flexible, so it will be helpful to put them on a tray before filling them. It will save you the trouble of having them spill all over your counter when you go to move them in the freezer...not that that happened to us or anything... ;)

Once your ornaments are frozen,pop them out of the molds and find a great spot to hang them outside! They add a great pop of color on those gray snowy days.

Happy Valentines Day!!
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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dish Towel Art Work



Not a painter? No problem! Here is the perfect project for a blank canvas and ... a dish towel!!

Supplies:
Dish Towel or Fabric
Blank Canvas *
Staple Gun

*The size is up to you - just be sure that your canvas is slightly smaller than your towel or fabric.

Directions:

Iron your textile until wrinkle-free, then lay it pattern side-down on a clean work surface. Center your canvas on top of the fabric, leaving at least 1 1/2” of fabric showing on each side. We found our dish towel at the Dollar Tree with the perfect pattern for that little space in the kitchen!


Start on one side of your canvas, near one of the corners, and pull the 
fabric up and over, folding it around the edge of the canvas. Fasten in place with your staple gun. Switch to the other side, near the opposite corner. Continuously alternating sides will ensure your fabric lays smooth.


Finish your piece by folding the fabric over the corners and stapling in 
place. Hang your canvas on a wall or simply lean it against a side table or mantle for a contemporary effect.

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Monday, February 7, 2011

Let's Get Poppin'! (and we have a winner!)

Before we get to our yummy tutorial, we want to announce the winner of the Felt Flower Clip Giveaway! Thanks to Random.org, the winner is commenter #3: Cranberry Morning! Send us an email with your mailing info and we will get your clip out to you ASAP! Congrats to our winner and thank you so much to everyone who entered!

Yesterday was the big game, and like most of America, we gathered around our television with enough food to feed an army! One of the yummy treats we made was Homemade Caramel Corn (based off this recipe)! So much easier than we thought it would be - and tastier than the store-bought stuff, too! When we first made it,we popped our corn in a big kettle on the stove. Sadly, it took two tries to get it right (and not burned!). Next time we may try popping it in the microwave or air popper. But other than that little misstep, it was a breeze and we knew we had to share it with all of you!

What You Need:
  • About 5 quarts popped plain popcorn
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Karo syrup
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
Preheat your oven to 250 degrees and put your popcorn in a large bowl or pot. In a large saucepan, melt your butter, then add the brown sugar, Karo syrup, and salt. Stir constantly until it reaches a boil. Then let it boil without stirring for 4 minutes. Stir in your vanilla and baking soda

Pour your caramel mixture in a thin stream over your popcorn, stirring as you go (it helps to have another person helping you with this step).

Put your caramel corn into two large, shallow baking pans (roasting pans work, well too) and place in your oven for about 45 minutes, being sure to stir them every 15 minutes. Pull them out and let them cool.

Once they are cool, you can break the mixture apart a little if needed. Then put in a bowl and enjoy! Not only is this a tasty snack, but would make a great homemade gift as well!
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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Valentine's Day Soft Pretzels



For the past few days, we have been snowed in here in Chicago. The kids have had their first 2 snow days! We knew it was pretzel making time! We have been making these soft pretzels for a few years now since a friend got us hooked on this simple recipe by Alton Brown. Once you try these, you will never want store bought pretzels again!

We decided to whip up a batch and give them a Valentine's Day flair. Instead of making all of the pretzels salty, we made some sweet with red sugar and some with cinnamon sugar.

We pretty much follow Alton Brown's recipe, except we add 3 tablespoons of brown sugar instead of 1 tablespoon of white sugar (even to the salty pretzels). He makes 8 pretzels, and we make 10 or 12.

After making the dough, and letting it rise, we divide it into 12 equal sized pieces.
We roll each piece out until it is about 18 inches long and 1/2 and inch thick (it will spring back a bit)

Next we bring the ends up to make the top of the heart. We pinched the ends together at the top and the bottom. The kids love to help shape the pretzels. We always have to make the boys initials. The recipe is very forgiving. The boys often make weird, abstract shapes, and they cook just fine. Next we boil the pretzels. We decided to boil the sweet pretzels in plain water instead of the baking soda water that the salty pretzels are cooked in. They were boiled for 30 seconds like the other pretzels. Put them in the pot carefully and remove them with a large slotted spoon.We brushed the sweet pretzels with melted butter and sprinkled them with a generous helping of colored sprinkles and cinnamon sugar.We cooked them at 450 degrees, but because we make smaller pretzels we only cook them for about 10 - 12 minutes until they are golden brown.They turned out great!

The boys gave them rave reviews!!!

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