Happy holidays!!! I wanted to share our tradition of making a gingerbread house with you. Here are three different ones, the cute unfinished one is my daughter’s. she is using Golden Grahams cereal to create a thatch roof.
The house with the nerds rope wreath has been eaten!!! The others will be eaten this week.
Thanks for reading and happy new year from our houses to yours!!
Oh Pinterest….you suck my time but in return give me great inspiration, it’s a love hate relationship. If you have read my earlier posts then you know I am cookoo for Thanksgiving and decorating. My nine-year old is also has the “crafty”gene, so we found a bunch of fun crafts to make. I thought it would take hours but it really didn’t with the exception of finding foil wrapped candy bars. (grrr)
I wanted a few interesting take aways for my guests to thank them for spending the holiday with us. I found these cute candy bar wrappers on Martha Stewart but it is darn hard to find foil wrapped candy bars these days. Most companies did away with the foil and these only work with foil wrapped bars. I found some Cadbury from England but I didn’t think the kids would appreciate dark chocolate so these are for the grown ups only. For the kids we made cute mini cornucopias from sugar cones, seen here. We didn’t get too fussy, we just added some Reeses Pieces and candy corn and bagged them up. We will use up cranberries by placing them in jars with some rosemary and a candle as seen here.
As for place cards we really loved the large turkey drumstick, I think it is supposed to hold a large popcorn ball but we already have enough sweets! We stuffed them with paper towels, we can use for clean up after dinner. I hot glued the “bone” in to the paper bag and Claire labeled them, one for each kid.
We found lots of fun ideas for the grown up place cards, one we saw just used sticks and a sprig of evergreen. I had the idea to make mini drumsticks to match the kid table! We collected sticks from the yard and hot glued them together. We added the mini drumsticks and were pretty happy with how they turned out. They standard turkey hand print is a place mat for the kids table, made by Claire. Thanks Pinterest!
Have a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving!!
I couldn’t resist sharing this amazing post for all you font freaks and cookie monsters out there! I found this cute post over here… Even more baked typefaces. What a cute and creative idea, keep being creative!!
|Cookie cutters and edible markers make a great lunch.|
For those of us who live in Northern California, spring is all about waiting for the rains to end and the sun to arrive again, and, thankfully, it always does. During this time of year, there is a lot to be done to prepare the garden for summer planting. It’s also a great time to talk to your kids about what you are going to plant so that they will be excited about taking care of the garden and harvesting and eating what you have grown–and getting dirty in the muddy veggie patch! So, put your rain boots back on and go get dirty with your kids in the Spring muck!
Try my recipe below for “Swamp Soup,” and I bet you will get your kids to not only eat their vegetables, but love them. The trick here is to hide a few beans in the bottom of their soup bowl and tell the kids to eat to the bottom of “the swamp” to find the “muck beetles”–and yes, I made that up. By the time they get to the bottom of the bowl, the soup will have magically disappeared. The soup itself is delicious, packed with green vegetables and will warm you and your kids up on a chilly Northern California spring day.
Yield: 4 servings
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, divided in half
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups zucchini, thinly sliced (about 3 whole squash)
2 medium ripe avocados, peeled and with the pit removed
½ teaspoon salt or to taste A handful of cooked organic black or pinto beans Prepared pesto (optional)
In a large saucepan, bring 2 cups of the broth to a boil with the onion, garlic and nutmeg. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for an additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Next, add the remaining 2 cups of broth and the zucchini and bring back to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, re-cover and simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Remove the lid and allow the soup to cool slightly.
In a blender, purée the slightly cooled soup mixture with the avocado, in batches, until it reaches a smooth consistency. Return the purée to the saucepan, add salt to taste and warm gently. To serve, place a few of the beans in the bottom of the bowl and gently pour in the soup. When you serve it make sure to tell the kids to eat to the bottom to find the muck beetles!
• If you don’t want to open a whole can of beans for this recipe or take the time to soak dried beans and cook them separately, just pick up a few at your grocery store’s salad bar.
• Add a dollop of pesto to this soup after you purée it for an extra punch of flavor and a green color.
• Float strips of toasted bread or crackers on top of the soup and place a bean on one so your kids can make the “bean bug” “jump” from log to log.
KIDS’ CRAFT–SCIENCE IN THE KITCHEN
Looking for something fun and educational to do with your kids over a long weekend or spring break? Try this project using dried beans that will teach them a little science and gardening know-how. Setting it up is a great inside activity on a rainy day. Beans sprout very quickly so they are fun to watch and this experiment works well for kids of all ages.
In this version of the old-school experiment you use different liquids–milk, water, salt water and sugar water–to find out which one causes the beans to sprout in the shortest amount of time.
Things you’ll need:
4 empty cups
1½ cups of water
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 paper towels
20 dried beans
Steps of the experiment:
1. Fill 3 cups each with ½ cup of water, and a 4th cup with ½ cup of milk.
2. Add the sugar to 1 of the cups that contain water and add the salt to another, leaving 1 with just plain water.
3. Soak 1 paper towel in each cup for 1 minute, or until saturated.
4. Label each of the 4 plates with one of the following: water, milk, salt-water and sugar-water.
5. Place 5 beans on each plate, and cover loosely with the saturated paper towel that corresponds to the label on that plate.
6. Observe the growth of the beans each day for several weeks, making notes on the number of beans that have sprouted on each plate, as well as the length of the sprouts. Determine which liquid was the most successful at causing the beans to sprout.
7. Once the beans sprout, you can plant them in dirt and keep them growing!
With the holidays coming, kids have two things on the brain—presents and sweets! When I think of the holidays I always think of a gingerbread house. We made one every year when I was growing up, and we always looked forward to it. It was an elaborate plan of blueprints and time. This year I am thinking of making a much healthier and simpler version—a rustic gingerbread cabin, if you will.
Are the kids sighing in the background? (Just wait kids, this can be fun.) I understand that the thought of a gingerbread house conjures up visions of candy canes, sugary gumdrops and gobs of frosting, but why not build one with some healthier, but still tasty, ingredients?
Remember, a gingerbread house can be any kind of house—a tiki hut, a ski lodge, a trailer, a mouse house or a train. When you make a traditional gingerbread house you end up with bags of sweets left over and, let’s face it, no kid wants to get old, stale candy for Halloween next year and tossing it out is so wasteful. Go against the grain and forgo the candy this year! Challenge the kids to use items you already have in your cupboards and try not to go out and buy a ton of new ingredients. The great thing about this project is that the “decorations”—foods such as nuts, cereals, and crackers— are healthier, easy to use, and you could make a fun cereal trail mix with your leftovers. This gingerbread house will be different, and still just as fun to look at and eat.
An easy way to make a small gingerbread house is to use graham crackers. If you are more adventurous or want to make a larger structure, you can purchase a readily available gingerbread house kit or bake your own.
You will need:
· Graham crackers: 10 per house to allow for mistakes!
· Royal icing for mortar (see recipe below)
· Piping bags and tips or gallon size freezer bags (make sure your bags have a nice square corner, not a pleated one)
· Decorative items such as: nuts, seeds, dried fruits, chocolate-dipped dried fruits, candied ginger slices, banana chips, marshmallows, pretzels, crackers, cereal of any kind, and cookies
· To color your royal icing “mortar” for a more rustic look, add a drop of black food coloring during mixing.
· To fill a zip top bag with the royal icing, stand the bag up in a tall glass before filling.
· Cut a tiny hole in one corner of the zip top bag after filling it. You can always cut a bigger hole, but you can’t make a big one smaller!
· Keep your icing bag in the refrigerator for touch ups or other projects during the holidays.
To build the house:
Use a large plate or sheet pan as a base so you can also create an amazing landscape around your house. Attach the graham crackers to each other with the royal icing by piping a line of frosting along the edge of one piece, pressing it against the adjoining piece, and holding them in place just until the icing sets. Prop up the pieces with cans of food or other heavy objects, if necessary, while they dry. Allow the house to dry for several hours before decorating. A graham cracker cut in half diagonally works well for the sides of the roof, or make yours a flat-roof house.
3 egg whites *
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 (16 oz) box confectioner’s or powdered sugar Yield: 2 cups Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth and thick, about 7 minutes. When a knife blade drawn through the icing leaves a clean cut, it is ready. Chill in a tightly sealed container if you are not using it right away.
· Purchase pasteurized egg whites if you are concerned about using raw eggs.
IDEAS TO SPUR YOUR CREATIVITY
Firewood pile: mini Tootsie Rolls
Shutters: sticks of gum
Rustic stone siding: chocolate cereal
Sand: brown sugar
Roofs: Oreo thins, Wheat Thins or Shredded Wheat cereal
Fences: pretzel sticks
Lamp Posts: pretzel sticks with marshmallows on top
Trees: green gum drops shaped like leaves (sold as “Spearmint Leaves”)
Pile of presents in a sleigh: decorated sugar cubes
Barnyard: animal crackers
Walkways: flat cookies or dried fruit
Snowmen: marshmallows with pretzel sticks for arms
Bamboo siding: pretzel sticks
Chimneys: sugar cubes or marshmallows
Snow: shredded coconut (can be sprinkled on for a snowy look on roofs and trees)
Photos: Matthew Carden—www.350degrees.com