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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts

We have been trying a lot of baked doughnuts lately. This recipe indicated the doughnuts should be fried, but we baked them instead and they turned out perfectly. (

3/4 cup apple cider
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 whole egg 
1 egg yolk
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoons nutmeg

Melted butter
5 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 Tablespoon cinnamon

Start by reducing the apple cider in a small saucepan over medium heat. The mixture will reduce to about 1/2 cup. (This will take a good 5-10 minutes.)

Beat the 3 Tbsp butter (softened) with the brown and white sugar. Add the vanilla and eggs. Beat for about 3-4 minutes or until light and fluffy. 

In a separate bowl, mix the 2 cups flour, 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp. nutmeg. 

Add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Then add some of the cider. Then another addition of the dry ingredients. Follow with the rest of the cider and the remaining dry mixture. Be careful not to over-mix. 

Place the dough in a plastic baggie. Cut the tip off one of the bottom ends of the baggie. Squeeze the dough in a greased doughnut pan. The mini doughnuts baked at 350 for 7 minutes. The big doughnuts baked for about 10 minutes. 

When slightly browned, put the doughnuts on a cooling rack. Immediately dip the top in melted butter and roll in cinnamon/sugar topping mixture. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Fire Truck Graham Cracker Snack

David's class studied fire safety this week, so we decided to make these treats for his class. 

We covered a graham cracker with red frosting, used a mini Oreo for the wheels, pretzels for the ladder, and white frosting for the window. 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Pumpkin Sheet Cake

1 can pumpkin (15 oz)
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
4 eggs
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

1 cup milk
4 Tbsp flour
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Beat the pumpkin, sugar, and oil with a mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Pour into a greased 10x15 inch sheet cake pan. (I don't have one of those, so I placed most of the cake in a 9x13 inch sheet cake pan and put the rest of the batter in my doughnut pan (I got 6 doughnuts plus the cake).

While the cake bakes and cools, make the frosting. Start by whisking the milk and flour in a saucepan. Let that mixture boil. (It will become very thick.) I placed that in the refrigerator to cool completely. Then beat the butter and sugar with a stand mixer. Add the cooled milk and flour mixture. Whip on the highest setting you have until it is light and fluffy. Spread on the cooled cake. 

Baked Potato Skins with Cheese and Bacon

Wash russet potatoes and slice them thinly. Place in a saucepan with cold water. Boil the potatoes for about 5 minutes. Drain the water and pat the potatoes dry. Spread them out on a greased baking sheet. Spray the potatoes with cooking spray. Top with a little salt and pepper. (I made a pan of just plain potatoes too.) 
Then spread cheese and cooked, chopped bacon on top of that. 

Bake at 375 degrees for 14-15 minutes. 

Spider Web Fine Motor Skill Practice

I saw a picture of something like this on Pinterest, so we set out to try to make our own. I had a little container that had holes in the side, so I used that. I strung white yarn through the container. Then I added spider rings I had from last Halloween. The kids used little plastic tweezers to pull the spiders out of the web. They really had a lot of fun with this. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sun, Earth, & Moon Model for Kids

The lunar eclipse tonight is a pretty rare event, so I wanted to explain to the kids what was happening before we watched it. I found this model online. ( 
It was very easy to construct and worked well as a visual for them to process the event. 

The template for the circles can be found on the link above.

I just used yellow, blue, green, white, and brown cardstock paper. Each model takes three brads as well. 

I cut the short strip of brown paper 4 inches instead of the 5 that is recommended. The long strip was cut to 8 inches. Simply connect the circles to the strips as pictured below. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

No-bake Reese's Cheesecake Squares

1 package Oreo's crushed (About 4 cups)
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 packages (8oz) cream cheese
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
2 tsp vanilla
4 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 (12 oz) Cool Whip, thawed
15-20 mini peanut butter cups chopped
Chopped peanut butter cups
chocolate sauce

Crush the Oreo's and stir in the melted butter. Press into a 9x13 in pan. 

Whip the cream cheese and add the peanut butter. Cream until fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, whipping cream and vanilla. Let that mix for about 2 minutes. Fold in the Cool Whip and chopped Reese's 

Spread over the crust. 

Top with chopped Reese's and chocolate sauce. Chill in the refrigerator. 

Chicken/Turkey Meatball Bar with Honey Chipotle Sauce

I made chicken/turkey meatballs the other day and the kids loved them! It was such a big hit we decided to put together a meatball bar for the football games. (I made a brown gravy sauce, a honey chipotle sauce, and marinara sauce.) We added mashed potatoes and spaghetti noodles to go with it as well. We will definitely do this again. 

Meatball Ingredients: 
3 lbs any combination of ground chicken and/or turkey. (I had a 1 1/2 of each) 
**This recipe works with ground beef as well. 
1 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs
1 small onion chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
1/2 cup chopped bacon (optional)

Mix all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl. 

Scoop the mixture into balls and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes. 

I made brown gravy for one sauce. We sometimes add cream of mushroom soup to brown gravy for a sauce, but the plain gravy tasted just as good. 

For the honey chipotle sauce: Mix 1 cup light corn syrup, 1/4 cup barbecue sauce, 3 Tbsp orange juice, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 cup honey, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp chopped chipotle pepper, 2 drops lemon juice. Microwave for 1 1/2 minutes on high. (This recipe came from: It is delicious! If you want it thicker, you could make this on the stovetop and use cornstarch to thicken.

The final sauce was just a simple marinara sauce. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Pumpkin Cheesecake Snickerdoodles

I love spending the fall weekends baking with pumpkin! I found these cookies on Pinterest. (

They are so delicious! I will definitely be making these again. 

3 3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup can pumpkin
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla

8 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Cinnamon-sugar Coating:
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp allspice 

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl. Set aside. In a stand mixer, beat the butter with the white and brown sugar until fluffy. Add the pumpkin, egg, and vanilla. Pour the dry mixture into the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Place dough in the refrigerator to cool for an hour. 

Mix the filling and let that cool for an hour as well. 

When chilled, place a tablespoon of dough on a baking pan covered with parchment paper. Press it down. Add a tsp. of the cream cheese mixture. 

Press another Tablespoon of dough down in your hands and place that on top of the cream cheese. Seal the edges and roll the cookie into a ball. Roll the cookie ball in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Place back on the cookie sheet. Press the cookie down with a glass. 

Bake for 11-12 minutes at 350 degrees. Let the cookies sit on the pan for about 5 minutes. Then transfer to a cooling rack. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Detroit Lions Pumpkin Sugar Cookie Stadium

I wanted to try a pumpkin sugar cookie recipe I found on Pinterest ( and the kids wanted to make something for the Lions game today, so we compromised and came up with this stadium. 

The sugar cookies with cinnamon/cream cheese frosting are delicious! 

3 cups flour
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup Crisco baking stick
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 cup can pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla

4 oz cream cheese, softened
4 tsp butter, softened
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp milk

Mix the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger in a bowl. Set aside. In a stand mixer whip the butter, sugar, and Crisco together. Add in the egg yolks. Then mix in the pumpkin and vanilla. Place the dough in the freezer for an hour. (This isn't necessary, but it will make the cookies a lot easier to work with if you want to shape them at all.) 
Meanwhile, David worked on his motor skills by separating sprinkle colors so we had the right colors for the Lions and Charger fans. 

After the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Place a scoop of dough on the pan and shape to the size you want. Bake cookies for about 9 minutes. Then cool on a cooling rack. 

For the frosting, whip the butter and cream cheese together. Add the cinnamon, powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk. We frosted the football shape cookies and the cookies that would represent the stands with the colored sprinkle fans. (We used blue and silver for the Lions and blue and gold for the Chargers.) 

Then I colored the frosting green and blue. I finished the cookies with the green and blue frosting. Even though the Lions are away this week, we still thought putting a Lion on the field would be best. 

They love to have fun with food!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

How do you want to be remembered?

Instead of going over rules and course guidelines, I decided to start the first day of school a little differently...  
One of my first assignments for my ninth and tenth grade students is to write a personal goal essay.  Last year, one of my freshmen wrote a paragraph dedicating a personal goal to all of the things he wanted to be remembered for after he graduates. It stuck with me and I knew I had to incorporate that somehow in the following years. It is easy for the kids to write academic and athletic goals, but it is so much more meaningful if they think about character goals as well.
So, this weekend, I sent an email to the elementary teachers in our district. I asked them to look at the list of students I have, and when they recognized a name, write down what they remember about that student. I told them I did not want to know what student they were referring to, I just wanted a list of comments/words that came to their mind when they thought about those particular students. Because I work in an incredible district, my email was flooded with responses within a few short hours (on a holiday weekend).
When class started today, I explained to the students that the way they carry themselves, the way they treat others, and the things they stand for are impacting those around them in more ways than they realize. It is natural that people form an opinion about them and cling to specific things to remember about them later in life. To prove this point, I told them about emailing their previous teachers (some that they had ten years ago), and then I shared this document with them…



Because of the powerful list of comments from the teachers, the students now had words/phrases/impressions they wanted to fit. The documents the students shared with me at the end of the lesson were inspiring. We will continue to revisit these lists and now the students have a starting point when they write their personal goal essay later this week.

However, this isn't just a lesson for students. We all need to think about how we want to be remembered. I really did some serious thinking about the type of teacher I want to be remembered as and they type of parent I want my own kids to remember. This experience is challenging, yet very necessary.

Fruit Loop Fall Tree Craft

We had some stale Fruit Loops, so we decided to turn them into a craft. The kids sorted out what colors they wanted to use for leaves and glued them on a piece of white cardstock. (Rachel loves using glue, so this was craft was a favorite!)                          
Then we cut two slits in the side of a toilet paper tube and stuck the white paper into the toilet paper roll. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Ninja Turtle Birthday Cake

Pretty excited about this cake. I used to love the Ninja Turtles as a kid, so it is awesome to see the younger generation get just as excited. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Apple Pie Cookies

In the original recipe, it calls for apple pie filling. I don't normally buy apple pie filling, so I made my own. 

1 1/4 cup cold water
2/3 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 1/2 cups chopped and peeled apples
2 refrigerated pie crusts
1/4 cup caramel topping
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Get the pie crusts out of the refrigerator and let them sit for about 15 minutes to warm. 

Place 1 1/4 cup water, 2/3 cup sugar, and 3 T cornstarch in a saucepan. Heat the mixture until boiling and thick, while stirring with a whisk. When thick, remove from the heat and add 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. 

Meanwhile, peel and chop 5-6 medium apples. Add to the thickened sauce. 

Spread caramel sauce on the top of one of the pie crusts. Then top with the pie filling. (I had some extra pie filling. I will use that to top some ice cream later :) ) 

Cut strips out of the second pie crust and place it on top of the pie filling.

Using a cookie cutter, cut out small pies and place on a greased cookie sheet. (I had a heart cookie cutter, so I used that.)
Brush the cookie with beaten egg. Stir 1/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg in a bowl. Sprinkle that mixture on the top of the cookies. 

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until brown.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Fresh Salsa

We love this time of the year when the vegetables are starting to ripen in the garden and we have an abundance of tomatoes. A batch of fresh salsa is gone within minutes of being made. 

This recipe is pretty flexible. In this batch I have 15-20 grape tomatoes diced, about 2/3 cup chopped peppers (green, red, yellow, and orange), 1/4 of a large purple onion chopped, 2 cloves of garlic minced, 1 jalapeno seeded and diced, about 2 teaspoons sugar, salt and pepper to taste, and about a tablespoon of lime juice. (If you don't have lime juice, add a couple of teaspoons of vinegar.) 

I don't always have the colored peppers, so most of the time I just add chopped green pepper. 

We eat the salsa with Tostitos Scoops. It is definitely a summer favorite. 

Shopkins Cake

Shopkins have become quite popular in our house this year. So when a friend asked to make her daughter a Shopkins cake for her 6th birthday, we were all excited. The kids loved helping with this cake. They helped design the cake and picked out which Shopkins to include on the cake. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Inside Out Birthday Party and Cake

Rachel saw the movie Inside Out and loved it! She liked it so much that she decided she would like an Inside Out birthday party. We wanted to create headquarters for her cake. This is what I came up with...Having the Inside Out characters made the cake a lot easier! I just did two 10 inch round cakes for the middle. I covered a little cardboard box with fondant and used that as the console. I added fondant controls and a memory ball to the console. The circles on the cake are fondant as well. The walls of headquarters are made from rice krispie treats that I molded and covered with fondant. It is hard to see, but the back wall has five window cutouts for the five islands. I made memory balls from fondant and stuck them on the walls. Then we made the little couch that sits in headquarters and stuck Sadness over there. 
The Inside Out photo board was a huge hit. All the kids had a great time with it. 

Using water beads, I made a sensory box of "memory ball" for the kids to play with. They had a blast with this! 

I was able to find a lot of free printables online. These two websites in particular were great:

I found little Inside Out reusable bags on Amazon. I used those as little gift bags for Rachel's friends. I added a coloring book to the bag, stickers, candy that was the color of the 5 emotions, and  laminated door hangers and activity sheets that I laminated for dry erase use. I found Inside Out cups at Walmart that decorated the table as well. Then we added balloons the color of the five emotions to the chairs. 

The party would not have been complete without vegetable pizza! (For the broccoli pizza comment the kids love from the movie!)  This is just a package of crescent rolls pressed flat in a baking pan. Bake for about 8 minutes. Mix a package of Hidden Valley Ranch dip and sour cream. Spread that on the cooled crescent roll. Then added chopped veggies. Here I have broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots. I did fruit kabobs that were the five colors of the emotions (green grapes, purple grapes, blueberries, strawberries, and pineapple).

I also found these little pictures of the emotions online at the website above. I laminated them and hot glued them to a lollipop stick.