Finger painting…Without the Mess!

My kids are always begging me to paint.  I hate paint.  It makes such a mess and everything ends up covered in it.  Walls, tables, chairs, floors, kids…..so when I saw this idea, I really wanted to try it. You only need 3 things: finger paint, a ziploc bag, and tape.

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Put some blobs of paint in a Ziploc bag.  I put two colors in each bag to make it interesting.

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Then you tape them to a window or a glass door. And the kids can finger paint all they want, with no mess!

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They make handprints….

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Or drive cars over it and make tracks…

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And it last for days! Ours has been up for 4 days and it’s still usable.  My kids are 11, 7, and 20 months and they all love it! I’ve even played with it 🙂 And the cleanup is so easy. Just pull it off and toss it in the trash. 

Refill a Swiffer Wet-Jet Bottle

With three kids and two dogs always running in and out and a husband who is always tracking in dirt and grease from the garage, I love my Swiffer Wet-Jet.  But, I don’t like paying almost $6 every time I need a refill.  I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to remove the lid, but it seems like it can’t be done. I did some searching and I found a way to refill my bottle and save a little money. 

You need an empty bottle to start with.

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Fill a small pot with water, just enough to cover the lid of the bottle.  Bring it to a boil. Dip the lid into the water.  Let it sit for about 30-60 seconds. 

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The lid will come right off!

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I’m not sure if you can see in the picture, but the lid has tiny plastic pieces that keep you from just taking it off.  So grab a small pair of scissors or nail clippers and remove them.

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Now you will be able to refill it with whatever you like! An all purpose cleaner and water, or even better vinegar and water! Now that you’ve “fixed” it, you will never have to buy another refill again.

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Oven Smores

We camp a lot during the warmer months. It’s a great way to spend time with the kids and we are always doing something. Swimming, boating, hiking, playing games, playing cards, riding bikes….anything that we can do as a family and have some fun.  But my favorite part of camping is sitting around the campfire.  The smell, the warmth, the quiet……the smores!  Most of the time, I prefer just to eat a roasted marshmallow.  I like mine almost burnt on the outside and ooey-gooey on the inside.  The kids love  the smores.  As soon as it starts getting dark they are asking when they can have smores.  So when I saw this Pin, I wanted to try it and see if we could get smores all year round at home.

You need the obvious ingredients.  Graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate (in the form of Hershey’s kisses.

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Turn on your oven’s broiler to low and move the top rack up to a higher spot.  I used the second from the top. Break the graham crackers in half and put them on a cookie sheet.

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Cut the marshmallows in half and put one half on each of the graham crackers, sticky side down.

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Put them in the oven and do NOT walk away! They will toast really quickly.  You can toast as dark as you like.  We got ours a toasty brown.  

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Take a Hershey’s kiss and push it down into the center of the marshmallow.

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Now here is where you can decide to either eat it as is, or go your own way.  I put them back into the oven for a about 30-45 seconds to melt the kiss just a tad.  Then we ate them and they were gone in about as much time. You can also put another graham cracker on top to make it more of a traditional smore, but we chose to eat them “open-faced”.  Whichever way you choose to finish them off, they are a great way to get your smore fix in the middle of the winter, or any other time.  In fact, I think I’m going to make myself some right now…….

Red Velvet Gooey Butter Cookies

In honor of Valentines Day, here is a yummy yummy (yummy) red velvet cookie recipe.  I made these over the weekend because I had to take a snack to church on Sunday.  Why I always try new recipes when I have to take them somewhere, I have no idea.  Maybe the pressure to make them taste good helps.  These were gone so fast! Just a note that I made a double batch, so the pictures will show double of everything.

You need a box of Red Velvet cake mix, 1/2 cup or one stick of butter (at room temperature), 8 oz. of cream cheese (at room temperature), one egg, half a bag of white chocolate chips, and a tsp of vanilla.

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Preheat your oven to 350. Put the butter and the cream cheese into a bowl and mix together with a mixer. How I wish I had a KitchenAid Mixer!!

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Add in one egg and 1 tsp of vanilla and mix well. Again, I did a double batch. Only add one egg.

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Next, mix in the package of red velvet cake mix until it is well incorporated. It starts getting thick and sticky.

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Once it’s all mixed, use a spatula to mix in the half a bag of white chocolate chips.

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After this, I stuck it in the fridge for a few hours to chill.  It makes it much easier to roll into balls.  You don’t have to do this.  You can drop them on the cookie sheet from a spoon but I am a perfectionist and wanted mine to be pretty. Roll them into about 1 inch balls and place on a cookie sheet.  I use the rubber non-stick mats on mine.Image

Bake them for 10-12 minutes until the outside is cooked but the inside is still soft. Place on a wire rack to cool.

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While they are still warm you can also push a Hershey’s kiss or hug onto the top. These are so soft and gooey and yummy. They would make a perfect treat for your honey or for your child’s teacher.

Taco Salad Bowl

This is going to be a quick and easy one.  We eat a lot of taco’s.  I thought this one would be a good way to mix it up a bit and the kids thought it was fun and pretty cool.

Preheat your oven to 375. All you need is tortillas, non-stick spray, and a muffin tin.

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I used the smallest flour tortilla.  The package said “Fajita Size”.

Flip the muffin tin upside down.  Spray it down with non-stick spray.  Nest the tortillas down into the spaces between the cups (I’m not sure what to call them..lol). I was able to get 4 onto a 12 space muffin tin.

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Stick them into the oven for about 10 minutes. When you take them out they will be in the shape of a taco salad bowl.

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Fill them with everything you would put into a taco.  We used beans, ground beef with taco seasoning, lettuce, tomato, onion, black olives, cheese, and sour cream 🙂 Another idea is to coat the tortilla in cinnamon and sugar before you bake it and use it as a dessert bowl for ice cream or fruit!

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These would be perfect for a party because they are small and you can pretty much just pick them up and eat them.

Dye Hair with Food Coloring

My daughter is almost 12 years old.  She is just beginning to get interested in things like make-up and clothes.  She has been begging me for months to dye her hair pink and I can’t bring myself to let her do an all over semi-permanent dye job.  So I did some research online and this is our first experiment.

To do this you need foil, food coloring, hair gel or white/clear shampoo/conditioner, an old toothbrush, and a shirt you don’t mind ruining.

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Mix a glob (that’s a technical term) of gel with food coloring to get the color you want.  We were trying for purple. Using the foil and toothbrush, brush the dye onto the hair kind of like they do in a salon with highlights.  We just went for the bottom few inches of her hair.

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Fold the foil up and over so that it stays in the hair and covers the dye.

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We left hers in for about 3 hours.  It was our first time and we wanted to see how it worked.  You can leave it in longer (even overnight) if you want a deeper color. Remove the foil from the hair and rinse our the dye. No shampoo!

Hers turned more pink than purple but we got the result we were looking for.  

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This stayed in until she shampooed her hair.  I’m sure if you get a deeper color it will stay longer. We both got what we wanted.  She got pink hair and I was happy that it washed out quickly 😉

Garlic Knots

By special request of a friend, I’m going to show you how to make garlic knots.  They are so easy and my family loves them.  I found the recipe months ago and I make them at least once a week now. 

You will need biscuits, olive oil, parmesan, garlic, oregano, and parsley.

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Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray and preheat your oven to 400.

I use the Grands Jr. Golden Layers Butter Tastin’ biscuits.  The can looks like this:

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Take the biscuits out of the can and you are going to squish and roll them until the dough is a long rope, long enough to tie into  knot.

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Then tie it into a knot.

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Now fold the ends under and place on the cookie sheet.

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Pop them in the oven and cook them for about 8-10 minutes or golden brown.

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While they are cooking you will want to mix the rest of the ingredients together.  1/4 cup olive oil, 3 tbsp parmesan cheese, 1/2 tsp garlic salt or powder (I prefer garlic salt because I just like it better), 1 tsp dried oregano, and 1 tsp dried parsley flakes.

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While the knots are still hot, brush the mixture over the top of them.

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Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

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They are going to go fast so if your family is anything like mine, you might want to make two cans 😉 Enjoy!

The Rubber Egg

I know that I’ve done a lot of recipes because, well, I like food and I like to cook so naturally that’s what I gravitate to.  But this blog is supposed to be about more than just that.  I want to try anything that catches my eye and looks cool.  This is one that I’ve been wanted to try for a while and I’m not sure why I put it off so long because it is very simple and you only need a couple of things to do it.  A bowl, an egg, and some white vinegar.  You can hard boil the egg first, which is a little less messy (believe me). 

Put the egg in the bowl and cover it with vinegar.

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It’s going to take a couple of days for the vinegar to work it’s magic but you will be able to see it as it happens.

This is 24 hours.

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This is 48 hours.

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After the 48 hours, I took the egg out of the vinegar and rinsed it off.  And I had a rubber egg (sort of). 

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If you gently squeeze it, it feels like rubber.  It will even bounce if you drop it a few inches above the counter! However, only attempt to pinch it if you’ve hard boiled it first, which I didn’t, and mine busted all over the counter top. 🙂  

My kids did this one with me and they thought it was really cool.  You also get to teach them a few things about science.  From my research online, this is how it works.  The egg shell is made up of calcium carbonate.  The vinegar is an acetic acid.  When these two are combines a chemical reaction happens and gas is released. The gas is carbon dioxide, which you can see is the bubbles floating in the vinegar. The chemical reaction keeps up until all of the carbon in the egg is used up. Now, I didn’t get to do this with mine because it popped, but if your egg was hard boiled and you leave the egg sitting on the counter for about another day, it will get hard! Why? Because it absorbs the carbon dioxide in the air.  If it was still a raw egg, you can put it into a bowl with water and it will absorb the water and swell up until it bursts.  

This experiment reminded me how much I used to like science in school.  Isn’t science amazing?!?

Simple Spaghetti

This is a very simple recipe.  I don’t know about your family, but mine gets tired of the same old spaghetti all the time.  Noodles with hamburger meant and canned sauce.  This recipe lets you get some fresh ingredients and depending on the ingredients you use, it can be low fat and low cholesterol.  

 

You will need spaghetti noodles (whole wheat or whole grain if you want it healthier), about 5 roma tomatoes, red onion, low fat grated Parmesan cheese, basil (fresh or dried) and low fat house Italian dressing. 

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Start by putting a large pot of water on to boil.  When it boils, add your spaghetti noodles.

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While the spaghetti is cooking, dice up the tomatoes and some of the onion.  You will need about 2 tablespoons of the onion.  Add those to the bowl along with 1/2 cup House Italian dressing, a teaspoon of basil, and about 1/2 cup of the shredded Parmesan. Mix it up well.

 

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Once the spaghetti is done, drain the water from it and put it back into the pot.  Add the tomato mixture and mix it well.  That’s it.  It’s quick, it’s simple, and it’s a very refreshing change to the same ole spaghetti.  Enjoy!

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Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Pecan Frosting….YUM!

This is a recipe that I’ve been meaning to try since just after Thanksgiving.  Every time I went to make it, I’d be missing an ingredient or two.  So even though it’s more of a fall type recipe, I went ahead and made it and I am so glad I did.  They turned out so yummy!

To start with the cupcake recipe, you will need:  unsalted butter, all-purpose flour, salt, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ground cloves, ground nutmeg, pumpkin puree (not the pie filling!), and 2 eggs.

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Preheat the oven to 325. Line your cupcake pan with liners.

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Start by putting 3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) of softened unsalted butter into a pot.  Melt the butter over medium-low and continue to cook, swirling it around often, until it turns golden brown.

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You will get a foam on the top of it, skim that off.

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Remove it from the heat and pour into a bowl.  There will be burnt sediment at the bottom of the pot.  Try your best not to get any of that into the bowl.

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Set it aside to cool.  In a bowl, whisk together 1 2/3 cup all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves,  and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.  Make sure it is well mixed.

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In another bowl, whisk together 2 eggs, 2 cups of the pumpkin puree, 1 cup packed light brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and the brown butter mixture. If you got any of the burnt stuff from the butter, try not to get it into the batter.  The first picture is all of the gunk at the bottom of my bowl.

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Add the flour mix to the pumpkin mix and whisk until it is just combined.

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Fill each liner about 3/4 of the way full with batter. I got 16 cupcakes out of mine.

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Bake them about 20-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Set them aside to cool.

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Now for the icing!

You will  need maple syrup, softened cream cheese, softened butter, and powdered sugar.

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In a saucepan, over medium-high heat, bring a 1/2 cup of maple syrup to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, swirling frequently, until it has reduced by about a third.

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Pour it into a glass measuring cup that has been nested into ice water.  Stir it constantly until it gets really thick and is just warm.   It will take about 3-4 minutes.

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Remove it from the ice water and set aside.

In a bowl, using a mixer on low speed, combine 2 ounces of softened cream cheese and 1/2 cup of softened butter.

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Beat in 2 cups of powdered sugar (you can add as little or as much as you want depending on the consistency you want your icing to be.) Mine did not turn out as expected.  I added the 2 full cups and it came out as more of a glaze than a frosting.

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Then beat in the syrup.

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If you feel like experimenting, you could play around with the consistency of it.  Like I said, mine turned out as more of a glaze than a thick icing.

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The pecan step is optional.  Half my family likes them, the other half doesn’t.  So I left some without pecans.  You can either get pecan halves or buy them already chopped.  I got the halves.  Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and lay the pecans out flat.

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Pop them in the oven that has been preheated to 325.  It should only take about 3-4 minutes to cook them.  Watch them closely as they will scorch really fast. Pull them out and either chop them on a cutting board of leave them whole.

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When your cupcakes are cool, you can ice them.  Since mine was thin, I dipped the tops into the bowl of icing.

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Top them with the pecans and then munch away!

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As always, try this one out and come back and let me know how they turned out for you!