Thursday, June 22, 2017

NBA Draft Party

The boys were pretty excited for the NBA Draft tonight, so we decided to through a little party for ourselves. 

We had these decorations from a past birthday party. We drew basketball lines on the cups and balloons. 

For food we had basketball cheese bread with pepperoni basketball lines. (
We also had a lot of other circular items: hamburgers, onion rings, and tator tot crowns. 

For dessert we had basketball cupcakes. I frosted the cupcakes with orange frosting and drew on basketball lines. I made sugar cookies into rectangles, put white glaze on them and stuck a mini peanut butter cup on as the hoop. I stuck a stick in the cookie and then placed the stick in the cupcake. 

I also did some without the glaze on the cookie. 

The best part was getting "draft" root beer from the local brewery. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Beauty and the Beast "Be Our Guest" Dinner Party

The DVD release of Beauty and the Beast was yesterday. We decided to celebrate getting the movie with a little "Be Our Guest" dinner party. We had beef ragout (just beef sauteed with onion and potatoes on the side because my kids don't like beef stew), cheese souffle (biscuits baked with cheese on top), mini apple pies, and "the grey stuff" (vanilla pudding with crushed Oreos and Reddi-whip mixed together, piped on a plate, and topped with sprinkles) We raised our plastic champagne glasses, had our dinner, and then watched the movie. 
We had more fun with this photo board I painted when the movie came out in theaters in February:

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Healthy Banana Bread

I was looking for a new banana recipe tonight and came across this one: I changed a couple of things to fit the ingredients I had on hand. 

I love this bread, and love even more that it uses coconut oil and honey replacements. 

1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs
3 mashed bananas
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 3/4 cup flour

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a bread pan. 

In a large bowl, whisk the oil and honey together. Add the eggs. bananas, milk, and vanilla. Whisk together. Add the baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Whisk to blend. 
Switch to a big spoon and add the flour. Stir until just combined. 

Pour the dough in the greased pan. Add about 1/2 tsp of additional cinnamon if you choose and swirl on top. Bake for 50 minutes. 

Let sit in the pan for about 10 minutes when done baking. Then place on a cooling rack to finish the cooling process. 

Cookie Dough Cupcakes

David's classroom celebrated his summer birthday today. He saw these cupcakes on Pinterest, so we made a version of our own. (

Cookie Dough Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

2 eggs and 1 egg white
1 cup milk
2 1/4 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 3/4 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
12 Tbsp butter, softened
1/2 cup sprinkles

Start by making the cookie dough. Place the sugar, brown sugar, and butter in a mixing bowl. Using the paddle attachments, beat the ingredients. Add the vanilla. Then add the flour and salt. Mix until all incorporated. Add the mini chocolate chips. 

Using a mini ice cream scoop, roll out 60-64 cookie dough balls. Place them in the freezer for at least 3 hours. 

When the cookie dough is frozen, make the cupcakes. 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, line a cupcake pan with liners, and spray the liners with cooking spray. 

In a small bowl, combine the eggs, egg white, and vanilla. Set aside. 

In a mixing bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Use the paddle attachment to stir the dry ingredients for about 30 seconds. 

Add the milk and butter. Mix on medium speed for about 1 minute.

Add the egg mixture in two separate additions. Beat on medium speed until just combined. Stir in the sprinkles.

Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 of the way full. Add a frozen cookie dough ball to the middle of each cupcake. 

Bake for 16-18 minutes. (The ones I didn't fill 2/3 of the way full, had a small hole in the cupcake.)
Place on a cooling rack. 

When cool, frost the cupcakes and add sprinkles and another cookie dough ball. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

DIY Fidget Spinners with Legos and K'nex

The fidget spinners have really caught the kids' attention over the past month. I personally refuse to buy one, but that doesn't mean that I won't help the kids make one of their own. Today we crafted some out of K'nex and Legos. (Rachel's hands are too small for the regular-size spinners, so we made the smallest one pictured just for her.) My STEM students are going to use products they find around their homes this week to make their own creations. I can't wait to see what they come up with!

Friday, April 14, 2017

No Bake Cookies


2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup milk
3 Tbsp peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 3/4 cup quick cooking oatmeal

Start by combining the sugar, cocoa, butter and milk in a saucepan. 

Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from the heat. Add the peanut butter and vanilla and stir. 

Add the oatmeal. This recipe normally calls for 3 cups of oatmeal. We like ours more gooey than dry, so I only add about 2 3/4 cups of oatmeal. 

Drop the mixture on a piece of wax or parchment paper and let it set up for about 10 minutes. 

Coloring Easter Eggs with Baking Soda and Vinegar Explosions

My kids love doing science experiments, so we decided to bring some reactions to our Easter egg coloring. 

Start by making baking soda paint. I put about 1/4 cup of baking soda in 6 containers. Then I added about a Tbsp of water and some food gel coloring (food coloring drops would work too). You want a paste-like consistency. Add more baking soda or water as needed. Paint the eggs with the different colored baking soda paint. 
We used muffin tins for this process. It worked very well. 

For added coloring, drop food coloring on eggs.

Then put vinegar on the egg and watch the colors explode. (If you want to write messages on your eggs, use a white crayon to write on the egg before you add any paint or coloring.) 

You can continue to add other drops of food coloring or baking soda paint to create a new design on an egg. 

Every egg will look different and has very vibrant colors.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Chicken Sausage Pasta for Weight Loss

This has become my favorite go-to meal while trying to lose some weight. There are many varieties of chicken sausage; the ones pictured just happened to be the two I had when I decided to blog this. 

Ingredients for a single serving: 
1 chicken sausage
1 cup spinach, loosely chopped
3/4 cup spaghetti sauce 
Whole wheat pasta of your choice 

For the week, I boil a pound of spaghetti noodles and keep the extras in the refrigerator. 
Each night I cut one of the fully-cooked chicken sausages into pieces. (I cut the casing off of the al fresco brand because it is too tough for me.) 
Add the sausage to a frying pan. Brown the sausage for about a minute. Add the spinach and let it cook down (takes about 30 seconds). Add the spaghetti sauce to the sausage and stir. 

Add your desired amount of pasta to the frying pan and stir until warmed through.  

This meal is ready in under 5 minutes if you have your pasta boiled ahead of time. If not, it is still done in under 15 minutes. 

To change things up, I added pesto instead of spaghetti sauce some nights. 

Play Dough Eggs

We love to make our own play dough so we decided to make some tonight to share with Rachel's friends at preschool. To add an Easter touch, we put the play dough in plastic eggs.

Here is the recipe I use for play dough: 

I started by making microwave play dough. Put 2 cups of flour, 2 Tablespoons of oil, 1 cup of salt, 2 cups of water, and 1 Tablespoon of cream of tartar. Mix that in a microwavable bowl with a whisk.

Next, add the food coloring. (It takes about 50 drops of yellow and 15 drops of red to make this orange if you use regular food coloring. I had some orange food gel that I used.)

Next, place it in the microwave for 1 minute. Pull it out and stir with a spoon. Place back in for another minute. Continue this until the mixture becomes a dough. It took mine 4 minutes. Let it cool for a couple of minutes. When you pull the dough from the bowl, it becomes very soft and pliable. Knead it until it is soft. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Carrot Patch Brownies

Make a pan of brownies as directed on the package. 

Let the brownies cool. I then spread some salted caramel frosting on top of half of the brownies. (Some of the kids don't like that kind of frosting, so I left half of it plain.) 

Then I crushed up a row of Oreos and placed that on top of the brownies. 

I melted some white chocolate disks, added 1 tsp coconut oil, and some orange food coloring. Then I dipped strawberries into the chocolate and set them on a piece of parchment paper to harden. 

I placed the chocolate-covered strawberries on top of the brownies and decorated with some candy peanut butter eggs. 

St. Patrick's Day Scavenger Hunt Clues

Every year the kids look forward to our holiday scavenger hunts. The St. Patrick's Day hunt was a success! 

Clue #1: March 17, The Day we wear Green. 
This hunt begins where laundry is cleaned.

Clue #2: Laundry gets folded, and put into piles. 
The St. Patrick's Tree will bring you some smiles. 

Clue #3: This tree is so awesome. I just can't explain.
Lifting weights may put you in pain!

Clue #4: This room get so messy. Just like Rachel's does. 
But check out her top drawer. Why? Just because. 

Clue #5: Your hunt's almost over. The pot's almost found.
The end of the rainbow, Go check your pounds! 

Strawberry Shortcake

This recipe was featured in the newest Taste of Home magazine. We tried it this week. It is definitely a recipe I will make again. 

3 cups strawberries, sliced
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 Tbs sugar, divided
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbsp cold butter, cubed
1/2 cup buttermilk (I added 1/2 tbsp vinegar to 1/2 cup milk)
1 Tbsp heavy cream

3/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla 
(The kids preferred reddi-whip, so I will probably just use that as topping instead)

Start by combining the strawberries, sugar, and vanilla. Mash slightly and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Whisk the flour, 2 Tbsp sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Cut in butter until it is crumbly. Add the buttermilk Stir until just combined. Drop about 1/3 cup of the batter on a baking sheet. (I used my baking stone and made 5 shortcakes with this amount of dough.) Brush the tops with the heavy cream and sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake for about 18 minutes. 

If you want to make your own topping, beat the 3/4 cup heavy cream until it begins to thicken. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until peaks form. 

Cut the shortcakes in half and fill with strawberries and whipped cream and place more strawberries and whipped cream on top. 

Wonton Soup

I found this recipe in the All Recipes magazine. I have never really tried wonton soup because I was always afraid of what was in the middle of the wontons. This recipe was delicious. It would make about 8 bowls of soup.  

12 cloves garlic
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 pound ground pork
1 1/2 tsp chopped cilantro stems
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp plus 3 Tbsp fish sauce (I didn't have fish sauce so I used oyster sauce) 
6 cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 package wonton wrappers
1 1/2 cups spinach
chopped green onions for garnish

Start by thinly slicing 8 cloves of garlic and placing that and the oil in a small frying pan. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes or until it browns. Set fried garlic aside. 

Chop the remaining 4 cloves of garlic and mix with ground pork, cilantro stems, sugar, salt, pepper, and 2 tsp oyster sauce. 

Sprinkle a baking sheet with some cornstarch. (For use later, place the chicken broth in a saucepan and bring it to a simmer. You should also bring a separate large pot of water to boil while you are filling wontons.) 

 I put down 9-10 wonton wrappers and placed a tsp of filling on each wrapper. Wet the edges of the wrapper and close. 

Place the wontons on the cornstarch covered baking pan. Lightly cover with plastic wrap while you fill the rest of the wonton wrappers. 

Place the wontons in a large pot of boiling water.  Gently stir the wontons and bring the water back to a boil. Add 1 cup of cold water to the pot and then bring it back to a boil. Add 1 more cup of cold water to the pot and bring back to a boil again. This process ensures the meat is cooked, but the wontons aren't overcooked. 

Remove one wonton and cut open to make sure the meat is fully cooked. The pork should no longer be pink. If it is done, divide the wontons into serving bowls. 

Stir the spinach into the simmering chicken broth. Season the broth with the remaining oyster or fish sauce. Ladle the broth over the wontons and spoon the fried garlic on top of the soup. Garnish with green onions and extra cilantro if desired.