Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Little Chefs

Kids Cooking Play Day Part II:
 Pastry Chefs

Originally I was just going to let the kids frost and decorate their own cupcakes. Then we invited our little friend down the street, and I remembered that he can't eat gluten. I know that kids with special diets (especially something major like gluten, milk, or eggs) have to often bring their own stuff or do something different than everyone else, and they are used to that. But, I just wanted him to not have to feel different this time. So I came up with a new plan--cream pies! Graham cracker crust, pudding, whipped cream and sprinkles. There's no gluten in the filling or topping so I just needed a gluten-free alternative for the crust. These cookies were the perfect option. 

So I let the kids choose what they wanted to use to make their crust: honey or chocolate graham crackers, or gluten-free ginger snaps.

Each kid chose four graham cracker squares or five gingersnaps. We sealed them in sandwich bags and rolled them into crumbs.

Then each chef poured their crumbs into a little bowl so we could mix in the rest of the ingredients. They also chose a pie tin. 

To the crumbs we added one teaspoon of sugar and three to four teaspoons of melted butter.

Then they pressed the mixture into the pie tins. We baked them at 350° for five minutes. I looked up some recipes later and saw that you could also put them in the fridge, which would have been better because we had to wait for them to cool down. And you know how much kids like to wait. I did a trial fridge crust later and liked it better because it was a little chewier--more cookie-like. Next time...

While the crusts were "baking" I gave each chef a 1/2 cup scoop of vanilla pudding and they each picked out a food color to add. 

Once the colors were all mixed they were ready to fill their pies.

Then for the kids favorite part: whipped cream and sprinkles.

There's a lot of different philosophies when it comes to sprinkles: color coordinating, pockets of color. and your good old fashioned more is more.

The kids seemed to really enjoy doing all the different stages of this "recipe." It was simple and easy enough for them to feel like they really made it themselves. 

See you Friday for one more Kids Cooking Play Day installment. 

Thanks for Reading.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

DIY Kids Aprons

Good morning friends, and happy Monday. We did a fun play day at our house last week and I thought I would share it with you all. There's a few different things I want to show you, so I'm going to split it up.  Be sure to come back later in the week to see the other parts of our Cooking Play Day. 

Kids Cooking Play Day Part I:
 Dress the Part

The other day I was shopping the clearance aisle at Target and I found this tablecloth for $3.48. I liked the pattern, but I thought it was a little busy for a full table cloth.

So I decided to turn it into a bunch of adorable aprons. 

The only materials I used were the tablecloth, some 5/8 or 7/8 inch ribbon (which I bought at the dollar store), and some 3/4 inch rectangle d-rings. Do you want to make one? ...or nine? Well it's easy, here's how:

I made a pattern for the aprons from an apron that Thing One already had. You can find my pattern at the end of this post. If you cut them along the outer edge you don't have to hem the bottom. I was able to cut nine aprons out of this round table cloth. I'm also a big fan of "waste not, want not," so save the middle (or whatever is left after you cut as many as you want) and I will show you something fun to make with the rest of the tablecloth someday. : ) Anyway, back to the aprons.

Snip the arm curves twice on each side. Then hem the sides with a 1/4 inch seam, and the top with a 1/2 inch seam.

Cut the ribbon into the following lengths.

Fold the 3 inch piece over the d-rings and sew it seam side down on the inside top left of the apron. Hint: only fold one end of the ribbon over the other; sandwiching the other end. This will keep it from being too bulky. Hopefully you see what I mean below.

It will actually be sewn a little lower than the picture below because I used a shorter piece at first and then realized it should be longer so that the top band of ribbon covers up the place where it is sewn. (Aren't you glad I make the mistakes—and learn from them—so yours can just be pretty?)

Folding under 1/2 inch of one end of the neck strap, sew it to the inside top right of the apron.

Then line up the top band of ribbon about 1 inch from the top of the apron. Be sure it covers the two spots you sewed for the neck strap and d-rings and sew 1/4 inch from each edge of the ribbon, folding over the ends. At this point it should look something like this.

Finally, fold under 1/2 inch of each of the "tie ribbons" and sew to the inside of each side of the apron just below the curve corners. Ta da! Cute apron.

 I really love the bright colors in contrast to the black and white.

These make perfect kid aprons because since they are made of vinyl they wipe right off. I almost didn't use the d-rings, but I'm so glad that I did. Making the neck strap adjustable means you can comfortably get it on your kiddo and still tighten it up so that it actually covers their little chest.
Happy cooking, little chefs!

 Come back later this week to see what we made once everyone was apron clad!

Thanks for reading.
- Haley

Here is the link to the apron pattern.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Oh the parties you'll have!

Thing One has a winter birthday. I admit at first I was disappointed that we would always be doing winter parties; no parks, no pools or sprinklers, no BBQs.  But now that we've had a few winter birthdays I know that you can have a lot of fun inside.

Theodor Seuss Geisel was born on March 2, 1904. Maybe you're already planning to celebrate his birthday this year with The Lorax. You could always use a few of these ideas for a little post movie Seuss party.

Our decorations were Dr. Seuss books, which are truly Thing One's favorite stories; stuffed animals (thank you Kohl's Cares for Kids); and a few giant puzzles (so sad that Borders is out of business now).

Most of Thing One's friends are boys so I made them all felt Cat in the Hat hats, and made one Green Eggs and Ham hat for our little girl friend. 

I turned our coffee table into a coloring station and I think the kids (and adults) had more fun drawing on the table than the coloring pages. If you do plan a Dr. Seuss party you definitely need to visit Seussville.com. That's where I found these free coloring pages.

For the cake I made a green ham cake with sugar cookie green eggs.

The cake was actually really easy to make into a ham shape. I just made a round two layer cake, cut off one end at a little bit of and angle, and put it back on the other side. Then I froze it before frosting so it wouldn't bee too crummy. I cut a slice of marshmallow for the bone. I hand cut the cookie eggs with a knife instead of a cookie cutter.

I also couldn't help making a batch of cupcakes. I made cupcake toppers the easy way: I bought a pack of thick foam stickers and stuck a toothpick in the middle.

I made a little clover field for Horton out of pink cotton candy. I snipped the pointy end off of some bamboo skewers with garden clippers and then cut them in half. I gently rolled the cotton candy into balls and stuck them on the sticks.

I wanted to have some healthy food at the party too, so I made tomato skewers. I cut up a couple of string cheese sticks and slid one on to each skewer as a base to keep the tomatoes from sliding down.

We had the Lorax sitting under a truffula tree with a bowl of Barbaloot fruits (red grapes) and some humming fish (multi-color goldfish crackers).

I made ham and cheese and pb&j sandwiches. To tell them apart some got stars from The Sneetches. I cut out a star stencil and used food coloring spray, which you can find in the cake section of craft stores.

 I also used the food coloring spray to give the cake an extra layer of green which added some dimension to it. 

And of course we couldn't have a Seuss party without some real green eggs, my mom's good idea.

That's our Seuss party!

"From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere."

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Quiet book pages

I made Thing One his first quiet book when he was really little (like 1) and he liked it, but honestly he was probably too young. These days we let him read books for a while in the morning when he wakes up really early, and he's showed new interest in the quiet book, so I thought maybe it was time for a few new pages. I told you that he loves Tangled. So when I decided to make new pages I wanted to do a couple of Tangled themed ones.  When I showed them to him he knew instantly they were supposed to be from Tangled, so I count that a success.

Then I came up with this diner one. I love how it came out and feel like it's new and different.

I had always planned to do a mailbox. I figure it will be easy to make new little letters and postcards to keep this one interesting. I used Jill's template from homemade by jill for the mailbox page.

These are the original pages. They are getting pretty worn from toddler use, but he still likes them

These two pages were also inspired by Jill. I happened to have star buttons, which was cool for the rocket page.

 When I first gave Thing One this quiet book the garden page was his favorite. And I think having a shoe to tie is a prerequisite for a quiet book isn't it?

There's a lot of quiet book floating around out there. I love looking at everyone's books. Some are so amazing and elaborate. I keep mine pretty simple.  I try not to spend more time making things for my kids than they will spend playing with them. There's a few more pages I'd like to make someday. But there's a long list of projects waiting right now. Hopefully these pages give you some more fun ideas. Have you made a quiet book? What's your favorite page? I'm always looking for good ideas!

Thanks for reading.

By the way, I'd love to know you came by. Leave a comment and say hi sometime, ok?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Cute as a Cupcake

It's crazy how popular cupcakes are these days. I know I'm typically the last one on the band wagon (if I'm even paying enough attention to run after it), so maybe you've already been there done that, but if you are wanting to join the cupcake craze, you are going to want this book  by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson.

There are so many creative ideas, and they do a great job of explaining how to do everything step by step. I was first lured to it by these guys.

I signed up to bring cupcakes to our church's Pumpkin Party cake walk last year, and this is what I made.

Authors Tack and Richardson have been featured in lots of magazines, so I got the other monster ideas from another article they did in Family Fun a couple of years ago (which I can't find now, sorry). By the way, if you end up making these to bring somewhere fast food cup carriers work really well to transport them. : )

For Father's Day last year I wanted to do something fun and different. So I picked out this pizza from the book.

However, when I read the instructions about gluing cookie pieces in with frosting to make the top even I thought, this is silly, why not just make a flat top to begin with and cut it like a pizza? So I baked a brownie on a round pizza pan (for a little less time than usual, since it's thinner) and then frosted it as instructed.

It was a hit. Plan ahead and make sure to save a pizza box, because that really makes it.

There's so many other great ideas in the book that I want to try. 
French fries and ketchup

Twinkie whales

and especially Chinese food. This would make an awesome April Fools Day food.

If you're looking for a little baking inspiration, I highly recommend this book. Don't get me wrong, they are time consuming, but once you experience the satisfaction of making these little show-stopping desserts you might find them kind of addictive. There's a whole new world of cupcakes out there, Cupcake.

Thanks for reading.
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