Monthly Archives: April 2011

May Day Baskets

When I was growing up, several of my friends and I dropped off May Day baskets at each other’s houses on May 1st. We would ring the doorbell and run! If we got caught, we’d receive a kiss. Some of these fun traditions have been lost and I want my kids to enjoy them as I dd! This project is just a simple way to make baskets to be filled with treats and/or flowers. There are hundreds of ways you can create something similar.


Age: 2 and up, with assistance
Supplies:

  • paper plates
  • several different colors of paint
  • paint brushes
  • stickers
  • construction paper
  • stapler
  • markers
  • treats or flowers to fill each basket
Directions:
Paint the back side of each paper plate with fun colors or designs. Once they are dry, decorate with stickers, if desired. Then, fold the plate into a cone shape with the decorations facing out. Staple it at the seam. Cut strips of paper for each cone, approximately 1″ X 8″. Write the name of the recipient and a short message like, “Happy May Day.” Staple or glue in place as the handle. Fill the cone with a treat or flowers. Deliver on May 1st!!
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Crafting Smocks


Many projects call for paint and even when the kids help bake, they tend to get something on their clothes. Create less laundry for yourself and make some cute craft smocks for each child! Collect some large t-shirts (maybe Daddy’s old shirts) and make a project out of it. This is just one idea for you to start with, but see what else you can do for this fun and useful craft! The picture here is of an adult sized shirt my daughter tie-dyed with some college kids last summer.

Supplies:
  • Old shirts (t-shirts or even long-sleeved old work shirts)
  • Markers
  • Puffy paint
  • cardboard
Directions:
  1. Round up enough shirts for each child. Make 2 or 3 extra so that you have some for your guests.
  2. Cut pieces of cardboard to fit inside each shirt. This just creates a harder surface and helps the marker not bleed through the shirt
  3. Start decorating! Write each child’s name or simply make it colorful with fun designs!

Pumpkin Cupcakes


We LOVE to cook with pumpkin and all of our kids gobble up just about anything baked. Pumpkin is a great source for dietary fiber, Vitamins A, C and E, amongst other things!

Ingredients:
1/4 cup plain soy or almond milk
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup white granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup finely chopped cashews (optional)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup canola oil
2 Tablespoons dairy-free sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
Frosting:
1/4 cup margarine, room temperature but not melted
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp soy or almond milk
Blend all ingredients together with a mixer until smooth.
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners and set aside. In a small cup, combine the soy (or almond) milk and vinegar. Allow mixture to rest for 5 minutes. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugars, ground cashews (optional), cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
In another mixing bowl, mix together the pumpkin puree, oil, sour cream, vanilla and soy-vinegar mixture. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mixing until just combined. Divide the batter into the cups, fill each liner until 3/4 full.
Bake for 16-20 minutes (until a toothpick inserted comes out clean). Cool completely before frosting.
Enjoy! Can you believe these are dairy free…actually Vegan?!

Black Bean Quesadillas

Another meatless option! This recipe tastes different every time because I made it up and basically use whatever ingredients I have on hand at the time.


Ingredients:
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
dash of cayenne pepper
1 or 2 Tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
tortillas
salsa
cheese
sour cream
diced green pepper and tomato
chopped lettuce

Directions:
Combine the black beans, cumin, garlic salt, onion powder, cayenne pepper, lime juice and cilantro in a food processor. Blend just enough to combine all of the ingredients (lumpy but blended). Heat a frying pan over medium heat, spray with nonstick cooking spray. Spread a generous amount of the bean mixture on one side of a tortilla. Top with cheese and salsa and then top with another tortilla. Place in the frying pan to begin cooking. Watch it closely so that it doesn’t burn, but cook for approximately 3 – 5 minutes per side. Once both sides are golden brown, top with desired toppings (sour cream, diced veggies, more salsa, etc.) Enjoy!

Kale and White Bean Stew

Kale and beans are something I wish my kids liked more. However, for some reason, they do like this stew! Sarah makes it with chicken as pictured.  It calls for fresh herbs, which I am sure are wonderful…but being the queen of improvising, I used dry herbs and thought it was still great. Sometimes that extra trip to the grocery store with all of the kids just isn’t worth it 🙂

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds kale leaves (or 1 very large bundle), center ribs and stems removed
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup shallots (about 4), chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup dry white wine
2 (15 ounce) cans white beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups vegetable broth
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 Tablespoon sherry wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons assorted chopped fresh herbs (such as tarragon, parsley and chives)

Directions:

  1. Cook kale in large pot of boiling water for 1 minute. Drain. Transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool. Drain. Squeeze out the excess water and then coarsely chop.
  2. Heat olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat.
  3. Add chopped carrots, celery, shallots, and garlic; cook until soft (do not let them get brown), stirring, about 15 minutes. 
  4. Add white wine and simmer until liquid is slightly reduced, about 7 minutes. 
  5. Add white beans, broth, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes. 
  6. Add kale and simmer for 5 more minutes. Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Mix in sherry wine vinegar and chopped fresh herbs. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with a good loaf of crusty bread.

St. Patrick’s Day Green Menu


This year, we got together with fellow-Irish friends and had a themed lunch. The kids had a blast eating all green food. Next year, my friend and I might avoid using so much green food coloring since we changed a few too many “shamrock diapers” 🙂



Menu Ideas
  • Green kiwi
  • Green Granny Smith apples
  • White cheddar mac n’ cheese, colored green
  • Vanilla pudding, colored green
  • White cake mix, colored green with white cream cheese frosting, colored green
  • Milk, colored green
All of the kids wore green, of course. And we had a hunt to find a little “pot of gold” for each child. We did crafts with green construction paper, some painting and drawing shamrocks. My friend even had Irish music playing in the background! It was a festive and fun day.

Budget Guacamole (with Peas)


I discovered this recipe this winter when I had a craving for guacamole but didn’t have enough avocado. It doesn’t beat Sarah’s authentic guacamole recipe, but I hope you are as pleasantly surprised by it as I was!


Ingredients:
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
1 (16 oz) bag frozen green peas (try not to get sweet ones), thawed
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and roughly chopped
3 green onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic
6-8 Tablespoons lime juice (2-3 limes)
2 tsp kosher salt

Directions:
Set aside 1 Tablespoon cilantro, and then transfer remaining ingredients to a food processor. You could use a blender if you don’t have a food processor…just stir often to avoid clogging. Puree until smooth. Add more salt or lime if needed. Transfer the mixture to a serving dish and garnish with the reserve cilantro. Serve with your favorite chips, veggies, or as a topping with tacos!
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