Thursday, April 28, 2011

Kid Food Craft--edible Spring Bird nests

Spring has come to some parts of the country, I assume!! In between the snow storms here in Utah I can hear a few birds outside, singing their lovely songs.  It was my turn to teach a preschool group this week and I decided this would be a fun and easy way to entertain 3 year olds while talking about spring!!

 Only a few ingredients are needed for this food craft, along with a LOT of wipes or towels for messy fingers!

Ingredients: 10 oz Chow Mein noodles (about 6 cups)
1 C. Chocolate Chips
1 C. Butterscotch Chips
"Bird eggs"  any kind of candy shaped like an egg
Wax paper

Place chips in microwave safe bowl.  Heat on high about 30 seconds, then stir. Heat in 20 second increments one or two more times if necessary, stirring in between.  Pour in noodles and mix thoroughly.  Using hands, create little nests on wax paper.  Place eggs on top and put in the refrigerator to harden.
Made about 8-10 good sized nests

*I used different measuring cups/bowls so all my *helpers* could have a turn to pour in something.  They all got a chance to stir and form their own nests.  It was a fun activity!*

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sweet Chex Mix

Do you have any candy left from the Easter Bunny?  Wondering what to do with all those M&M's? You could just eat them of course, OR, you could add more sugar and butter and yumminess to them to make them even better!!  This was always my family's Sunday night treat growing up, when we would all gather together to watch America's Funniest Home Videos.  You know, family bonding whilst laughing at people falling down.  Classic.

This Chex mix is always a hit, be it with your own family or at a party.  I've never seen any left over!!

Chex Mix:
about 9 C. cereal (I use Chex and Golden Grahams)
1 C.  Coconut
1 C.  Slivered Almonds
M&M's  (to taste)
1 C.  Karo Syrup
1 C.  Sugar
2/3 C. Butter

In a large bowl, combine cereal, coconut, almonds, and M&M's. 
In a saucepan, bring Karo syrup, sugar, and butter to a boil for 2 minutes.  Pour over cereal mixture and stir well.  Spread out on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper and allow to cool.  Eat.  Then eat some more because you can't stop!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

*food in this picture provided by my friend Tina.  Thanks for the deliciousness!!*

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter Spring Cupcakes

Easter weekend is practically here!! Think these guys will be a welcome addition to our family dinner!? I love to decorate with candy, and these do not disappoint.  They are easy to throw together using a few ingredients. 

Bunny cupcake:
White frosted cupcake
White coconut
1 large marshmallow cut in half (for ears)
1 small marshmallow cut in half (for the face fluff under the nose)
2 chocolate chips (for eyes)
pink Starburst or heart shaped runt (can I use that in the singular sense?)
I used a toothpick broken in half to attach each ear.  I used chocolate frosting in a baggie to pipe the whiskers.

Easter Chick cupcake:
White frosted cupcake
Coconut colored yellow
2 chocolate chips (eyes)
Orange Starburst molded like a beak
red m&m for top thingy
         (I know that baby chicks, which are normally associated with Easter don't have this comb yet, but I   
          wanted to add it anyway. *Shrug*)

 Lamb cupcake:
Chocolate covered cupcake
Mini marshmallow cut in half or thirds (my marshmallows happened to be stale, which may have made it easier to cut!! Less sticky anyway...)
1 large marshmallow cut in half, then that circle cut diagonally (clear as mud?) for ears

 **this is the cupcake I made three times and am still not sure I like!! It bears a resemblance to the cartoon character "Shawn the Sheep" more than a cute Easter lamb.  But using white frosting underneath was really light and white.  I'm not sure.  Let me know if you make anything that works! ***

Bluebird Cupcake: 
White frosted cupcake
Blue colored coconut
2 chocolate chips (eyes)
Starburst shaped into a beak (put in microwave for 10 seconds if it is too hard to shape)

Have a very Happy Easter!!

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Spring Candy Jars

For many people, Easter = Candy.  Right? I just loved this idea for candy jars and immediately scoured the refrigerator for jars to use. 
I used a pickle jar and a Tostitos salsa jar for the tops and a candle holder and a votive flipped upside down for the bottom.  (These were purchased at Dollar Tree).  Wash out jars and remove the labels. (Wash them better than you think you need friend told me my candy still smelled like pickles!) Using spray or craft paint, paint the lids and candle holders.  I then used a strong glue to hook it all together and, Voila!  So cute!! I just may have to make some in different colors for every holiday.  Combined with my Egg picture and my Spring Blocks I am pretty excited about my new decorations! 
Happy Easter!

 And, if you wonder if the kids ever notice the crafts you make or decorations you put up....they do if candy is involved!! I swear they have some kind of radar!

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Quick and easy Easter Decor

Pink. Yellow. Purple. Pastel colors in abundance.  It might get to be too much for some people. 
 Enter sleek, cool, sophisticated gray combined with said pastel colors and we have, well, this amazing idea. 

I'm a little late getting into the Easter swing of things--it is NEXT week!! But perusing around blogland I found some super cute decorations that come together very quickly.  Always a good thing, right?

I found this awesomely ugly frame at a thrift store for $1.00.  Not a great color, but I LOVE the corner design.  A quick coat of spray paint does the trick every time.

I ran to Dollar Tree to pick up these adorable glitter eggs.  Seriously, I saw this idea late at night, and I could hardly wait until Dollar Tree opened the next morning so I could get started.  Like, I almost couldn't sleep.  I know, I'm weird.

Just pull out the little strings and hot glue them onto some cardstock sized to fit into the frame.  That was easy!

Since I had a few eggs left over, I grabbed some of the curly twigs floating around my house (my husband loves these) and made this happy little tree :)
                       Happy Decorating!!

Stay tuned next week for more decorating ideas, food and Easter treats!!
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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Wonderfully Amazing Green Salad and homemade Ranch

Easter is coming up right around the corner and there are bound to be gatherings with family or friends.  (Or if not, why not host your own!!?)

What is your usual assignment? Are you always asked to bring a bag of chips?  (I hope not!) 

Do you  get assigned to bring the salad or relish tray?
Please, please, PLEASE don't tell me you just buy a bag of iceberg lettuce (you know, the kind with a few shredded carrots and a couple of purple stringys in there) and a bottle of Ranch and plunk it down on the table. Please don't do that!!! No one will look twice at your salad; they'll just shove that Ranch bottle aside to reach for the rolls and the funeral potatoes and the corn and the pretty Easter jello with Cool-whip your Aunt Cheryl brought.

Not a single green thing will be eaten.  And you'll be to blame.

How about you show 'em what you're made of and WOW them all with a veggie-loaded salad tray AND homemade Ranch!? Your salad might just be the star of the show. Well, as much as a salad could be. Let's get real; it's no Strawberry Shortcake or Chocolate Mousse Pie, but people will be thanking you for making their salad eating experience more fun.

All of these ingredients should be easily accessible, even though it still seems like the dead of winter.
Pick and choose what you think your fans will love; I like to make sure there's a lot of color involved.

I used: (in no particular order)
grape tomatoes
Sliced cucumber
shredded carrots (see--they're still here!)
green olives
uncooked, frozen but thawed green peas
(could I use any more adjectives?) Just don't open a can.
black olives
shredded mozzarella cheese

and how about this for the grand finale....
Deviled eggs! Oh, regular hard-boiled eggs would be fine, but these...Wow!

*TIP* The avocado will start to turn brown after it is cut.  I would wait to cut and display as long as you can.  Lemon or lime juice sprinkled over the sliced avocado will slow it down a bit, but not stop it.  Also keeping the pit around the avocado can help too.  Mmm, but they sure are worth it!

Go to the store and buy one bottle of the best generic Ranch you can find.
Just kidding

My favorite Ranch
2 C. Mayo
2 C. Buttermilk
8 oz package Cream Cheese
1 t. Onion Salt
1 t. Garlic Salt
1/4 t. Ground Pepper
1/4 t. Accent (optional)
Blend all ingredients in blender and let stand in fridge.
Yields:  6 C. will keep approx. 1 month in fridge
*sometimes I add a garlic clove or two. Yum*

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

SPRING blocks

It may be winter-ish outside, but you can brighten up your house with fun spring decor!! There are lots of ways to make these holiday blocks, here is my version.  I just bought a 2x6 at Home Depot and cut it into blocks.  I painted the blocks white, found scrapbook paper I loved and mod-podged them on. (apparently, this is quite the delicate art. On the first blocks I made, the paper became really bumpy and looked horrible after I used the mod-podge!!) I guess you just do a little at a time.

I cut out some letters and 'podged them on too. Note: I do not have a Cricut or any of those fancy tools.  This is just my cardstock paper, pencil and handy ol' scissors. Talk about skills, right!? I just found a font I liked and did my best to freehand.  Don't look too close...
Embelish with ribbon, buttons, flowers, etc.  A little distressing ink around the edges would look great too!

(Oh, and by the way, I used the other side of the blocks for a different season! How's that for thrifty?)

                                       What are your favorite spring projects?

                                These are simple and easy to make.
I'm thinking they would make a fun hostess gift or spruce up
                             your own Easter table!

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Queso Chip Dip

I had some friends over the other night, and noticed there wasn't very much food on our potluck table. "Oh no!",  I thought to myself, "This just can't happen!"

*Heaven forbid we don't eat tons of snacks when we get together*

Luckily, I had just run across this recipe in a magazine and had the ingredients on hand.  It was delicious and I couldn't stop eating it.  I really liked this recipe, and I really liked that it was different than other queso dips I've tried.  I just have a hard time using "pasturized prepared cheese products" or food that rhymes with "schmel-shmeeta".  I want the real stuff!

You'll only need 3 ingredients for this dip (don't forget the chips!)
8 oz. Cream Cheese
1 Cup Salsa
1 can "no bean" Chili

 Combine all ingredients together in a saucepan. Heat on medium until the cheese is nice and melty, stirring frequently.  This could also be done in a small crockpot, which would be nice when serving to keep the dip warm.
(We ate ours so fast, keeping it warm was not a problem!)

                           Stock up on these simple ingredients,
                           so your guests will never go hungry!
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Friday, April 8, 2011

Monkey Cupcakes

Know any little "monkeys" having a special day coming up?  Why not make these cute monkey cupcakes!!

I made these monkey cupcakes a couple of years ago, so I don't have step by step photos.  They come together pretty easily though, with just a few ingredients.   
You'll need:
baked cupcakes
Chocolate frosting
Nilla Wafers
Melted chocolate for piping face
Caramels (like the Kraft squares)

After the cupcakes have cooled, smear them all with chocolate frosting. I used two Cheerios for the eyes, and cut a nilla wafer in half for the bottom half of the face.  What is that called? Muzzle? Nuzzle?  Use a sharp knife to swiftly cut in half. Have a few extra in case some of them crumble and break!!
Put some chocolate frosting in a ziploc baggie, and cut a small hole in one corner.  If you have already gotten out the graham crackers and used all the frosting run out of frosting you can put some melted chocolate in a ziploc baggie ust that to pipe the nose and mouth onto each cupcake.  Play around with different facial expressions--I think they turned out pretty cute!!

For the ears, I got some carmels and cut in half.  Microwave them for about 12-15 seconds to make them more pliable. Then I just used my *clean* hands and molded them into half circles with a little indent in the center.  Place them at about the half-way mark of the cupcake.  If you put the ears more up top, they look like bears!  Ask me how I know that.

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