Sunday, November 28, 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

Softening in the Microwave Tips

To Soften Butter: Place cut up butter in microwave safe bowl. Microwave on low (power level 3) in 20- second intervals, checking in betweeeen

To melt chocolate: Place chopped chocolate in bowl. Microwave on high (power level 10) in 30 second intervals stirring in between

To soften cream cheese: Place cut up cream cheese in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high (power level 10) for 15 - 20 seconds

Soften Ice Cream: Remove top and liner (if any) of carton. Microwave in power level 10 in 10 second intervals checking inbetween.

Real Simple; October 2010

Pinecone Snack

Spread a generous amount of cream cheese onto a round cracker. Starting at the bottom layer almond slices on top of the cream cheese for the scales. Add a pretzel stick for the stem and serve with thinly sliced celery pine needles.

Camping Hot Dog Idea

Partially roast a hot dog over the fire and then wrap them in disks of pizza dough and roast the whole thing to a golden crisp - from Family fun 2010

Halloween Sandwiches

Skill and Finger Sandwiches made with peanut butter, bread, and red peppers as shown

Family Fun October 2010

Nutter Butter-Fly

Fun little snack! Family Fun October 2010

Use apple slices, cut into quarters with peanut butter in the middle. Arrange as shown and add a trimmed carrot stick

Tattling Tips

Each time my two kids tattle I require them to say one positive thing about the other person as well.

When a child wants to tattle they need to write it down and put the complaint in the comoplaint box

Family Fun October 2010

To Make Walks Fun

Call it a spy mission and write down things the child might find on the walk. As you walk the child can cross the items off the list (i.e. An American Flag, An Address with the number 8, a man with a beard, etc.)

Family Fun, October 2010

Good Idea To Stop Fighting

To limit toy-related squabbles between two children (ages 3 & 4) they made treasure chests: lidded plastic tubs that they personalized with stuckers. Twice a week, each girl picks out five toys for her container, and she is the only person allowed to play with those toys during that time. If both girls want the same item, the one to whome it belongs (or who picked it first) gets to claim it. The boxes have precluded squabbles and helped old playthings seem new again.

Family Fun October 2010

Magnetic Pumpkin

Family Fun October 2010:

Stick a self adhesive magnetic sheet to a piece of orange paper, then cut out a simple pumpkin shape. Cut a stem and facial features from a magnetic sheet that's been covered with black paper.

Pork Chops With Apples and Winter Squash

Got from People November 29, 2010

4 boneless pork chops, cut about 3/4 inch thick, trimmed
1 tb grill seasoning
1 tb olive oil
1 med yellow onion thinly sliced
1 box (12 oz) frozen winter squash, thawed
1 can (10.75 oz) condensed cream of celery soup
1 cup reduced-sodium mchicken broth
3/4 cup apple cider
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp dried thyme
1 large tart apple, peeled, seeded and sliced

Season chops with grill seasoning
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; when hot add the oil. Add chops and brown about 4 minutes per side. Transfer chops to plate
Add onions to skillet. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes or until they begin to soften, stirring often. Add the squash. Cover and cook for 3 - 8 minutes or until barely heated through, stirring occassionally.

Stir in the condensed soup, broth, cider and mustard. Add the thyme, rubbing it between your fingers as you add it to the pan. Return pork chops to pan and top with apples. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Serve over rice.

Roast Chicken (Whole)

Got from People December 2010

1 4 lb Chicken whole
8 oz butter (1 stick) at room temp
1 head garlic, peeled and minced
1 tb sesame oil
2 tb chopped fresh chives
1 tb fresh thyme
zest of 3 lemons
zest of 1 orange
1 tsp coriander
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Rinse chicken and allow to air dry for 30 minutes
heat oven to 300
Place butter in a mixing bowl. Beat in garlic, oil, chives, thyme, zests, correander, salt and pepper
coat entire chicken with the butter mixture (including the cavity and under the skin)
Place the bird in a casserole or roasting pan and roast covered for 1 hour. Uncover pan and roast for 1 hour more or until the bird reaches an internal temperature of 165
Turn the oven up to 400 and continue roasting until chicken skin is golden brown, about 10 minutes
Remove chicken from oven and let rest on a wooden board for 10 minutes before carving

Pecan Crusted Fish Sticks

WAs in Parents December 2010 (Would like to try it)

1 lb cod fillets, rinsed and patted dry
1 cup pecan halves
1 cup torn whole-wheat bread pieces
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 eggs lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400. Code wire baking rack with nonstick cooking spray and place on a baking sheet or in a shallow baking pan.

Cut fish into about 14 3" by 1" strips

Place pecans, bread pieces and salt in a food processor; pulse until fine. Place in small bowl.

Put flour and eggs in separate bowls

Lightly coat cod in flour

Dip in egg and roll in pecan mixture. Put fixh on rack; coat with cooking spray.

Bake for 10 - 12 minutes or until golden

Makes 14 strips

2 strips are 221 calories 13 g fat

Children's CD's

This was in Parents December 2010:

Jungle Gym by Justin Roberts (4+)
Rock & Roll Playground (2+)
A Family Album (2+)
We Did it! (Dora) (2+)

Kids Books

Listed in Parents December 2010 as good books:

Picture Books:

Miss Brooks Loves Books! (And I don't) 4 - 8 years
City Dog, Country Frog 4 - 8 years
The Quiet Book (2 - 6 years)
Shark vs. Train (4 - 8 years)

For First Time Readers:

Fly Guy Meets Fly Girl! (5 - 7 years)
Benny and Penny in The Toy Breaker (5 - 7 Years)
Lola and Tiva: An Unlikely Friendship (5 - 7 Years)
Airplane Adventure (4 - 7 Years)

Clever Chapter Books

Clementine, Friend of the Week 7 - 10 years
Mouse and Mole: A winter wonderland 5 - 8 years
The Night Fairy 7 - 11 Years
Frankly, Frannie 7 - 10 years

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Children's Book LInks

Newberry Award Winners:

Reading List for 0 - 3:

Reading List for 4 - 7:

Montessori Resources

G & PG Movies to see

Alice in Wonderland
Bolt (PG)
Monsters Inc
A Bugs Life
The great mouse detective
Mary Poppins
The incredibles
The Aristocats
Oliver and Company
The Rescuers
Meet the Robinsons
The Fox and the Hound
The Sword in the Stone
Brother Bear
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Disneynature: Earth
Pete's Dragon
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Wild
Chicken Little
The Emperors New Groove
My Neighbor Totoro
Space Buddies
Micky Mouse Clubhouse Movies: Choo Choo Express, Great Clubhouse Hunt, etc.
The Muppet Movie

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Veggie Burger

Got recipe from Parents Magazine October 2010

Would like to try it

1 14 oz can black beans, red beans or chick peas drained
1 medium onion quartered
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 Tbs chili powder
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 egg
1 Tb olive oil

Place beans, onion, oats, chili powder, slat, pepper and egg in a food processor and pulse until chunky but not purred. If it seems dry or isn't sticking together, add a little liquid a Tb at a time - you want moist but not wet mixture. Let rest in the fridge for a few minutes

With wet hands, shape into patties. Refrigerate 15 - 20 minutes

Heat a large skillet or griddle over med-high heat and add just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When hot, add the patties and cook until nicely browned on one side, about 5 minutes; turn carefully and cook other side until firm and brown (about 5 minutes)

Pumpkin Seed Crafts

Wash seeds and remove pulp. Then scatter them on a baking sheet. Set in direct sunlight to dry.

To dye seeds mix 1 cup water, 1 Tb white vinegar, and a few drops of food coloring in a bowl. Soak until they've reached desired color. Remove from dye with fork and let them dry on wax paper in direct sunlight.

Make a collage by gluing dyed seeds to poster board or cardstock. Have them sketch their design in pencil or use a blank coloring book page as a guide.

Draw various letter shapes on thin cardboard (use the plain side of a cereal box). Cut them out and have the kids glue pumpkin seeds on them. Glue a magnetic strip to the backs and hang on the refrigerator.

Using regular cdraft glue, decorate a 1" wide ribbon to make a seed bracelet with children. Cut to childs wrist size and create a clasp with self-adhesive velcro

Got idea from Parents Magazine October 2010

Wine Tasting Game

Read in BHAG October 2010

Ask each friend to bring a bottle of wine ($12 tops). Guests jot down comments and rate the wines and then tally the points. Often the least expensive wine ends up being the favorite.

Easy Butternut Squash Recipe

BHAG October 2010

2 butternut squashes (about 2 lbs each) halved lengthwise and seeded
4 Tb butter
1 tsp coarse salt
3 - 5 fresh thyme sprigs

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly oil a large shallow baking pan. Place squash, cut side up, in pan. Place 1 Tb of butter in each squash half (in the cavity). Sprinkle with salt and top with Thyme sprigs (lay them on top). Bake 30 - 40 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

Slice squash into individual servings or scoop out flesh from squash into a bowl (discard skin and thyme sprigs)

Halloween Candy Sticks For Cocktails

On kabob sticks put gummy worms, gummy tarantulas, any gummy halloween candy you can find. Use as drink stir sticks

Beer Can Chicken

Got Recipe from People Magazine October 2010 (Curtis Stone). Want to try it!

2 Tb each of smoked paprika, salt and onion powder
1 Tb each of cayenne pepper and ground cumin
2 Tsp each of dried thyme, dried oregano, black pepper and garlic powder
4 lbs chicken washed and dried
Vegetable Oil
1 12 oz can of beer

In a small bowl mix together the 9 dry ingredients (extra can be stored in an airtight container for up to six months)

Preheat grill to medium high heat

Rub down chicken and its cavity with the vegetable oil. Season the chicken with rub mixture, remembering to season the cavity

Pour out 1/4 of the beer and sit the chicken on top of the beer can.

Place the chicken upright in the center of the hot grill and cover. Cook the chicken for 1 1/2 hours or until an instant read thermometer registers 165 F

Once cooked, cover loosely with foil and let rest 10 minutes before carving

Great Childrens Books I want to read to the girls

Six by Seuss
We're Going on a Bear Hunt
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Biggest, Bussiest Storybook Ever
Frog and Toad are Friends

Volunteer Opportunities has you and your child make a blanket and then donate it to a child in need lets you send clothing, food, and supplies to a needy U.S. family

Drink I want to try

Makers Mark on the Rocks or with a splash of ginger ale

Marinated Veggie Beef Kabobs

Got recipe from TOH Magazine June/July 2010

Super, super good kabobs. We had them for date night and loved them!

1 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup olive oil
4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
4 tsp italian seasoning
1 Tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp seasoned salt
2 tsp pepper
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
1 beef top sirloin steak (1 1/2 lbs) cut into 1 inch cubes
8 cherry tomatoes
1 large red onion
1 medium green pepper
1 yellow squash
1 medium zucchini

Combine first 8 ingredients. Pour half the marinade into a large resealable plastic bag. Add the beef; seal bag and turn to coat.

Pour remaining marinade into another large resealable plastic bag; add tomatoes. Cut remaining veggies into 1 inch pieces and add to bag. Seal bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate beef and veggies for at least 2 hours.

Coat grill rack with cooking spray before starting the grill. Drain and discard marinade from beef. Drain veggies, reserving the marinade for basting. On 9 soaked wooden skewers, alternately thread beef and veggies.

Grill, covered, over med heat for 10 - 15 minutes or until meat reaches desired doneness, basting frequently with reserved marinade and turning occassionally.

Thanksgiving Volunteering

Open Arms of Minnesota: Prepare and deliver meals to people living with disease.

Catholic Charities: Help dish up dinner to those less fortunate.

Feed My Starving Children: Package up meals before Thanksgiving.

Pumpkin Seeds

This recipe worked great for me this year!

1 1/2 cups seeds
2 t. butter melted
lots of salt

Boil seeds 20 minutes in heavily salted water (cleans them off well and then gets salt taste inside the seed)

Let dry overnight on a cookie sheet

Mix seeds with butter and salt and roast at 270 degrees - 300 degrees about 30 minutes or until done. Stir every 5 - 10 minutes and watch them close

Pilgrim Hat Cookies

1 cup vanilla frosting
7 drops yellow food coloring
32 miniature peanut butter cups
1 package (11-1/2 ounces) fudge-striped cookies
32 pieces orange mini Chiclets gum
In a small shallow bowl, combine frosting and food coloring. Remove paper liners from peanut butter cups.
Holding the bottom of a peanut butter cup, dip top of cup in yellow frosting. Position over center hole on the bottom of cookie, forming the hatband and crown. Add a buckle of Chiclets gum. Repeat with remaining cups and cookies. Yield: 32 cookies.

TOH Website

Two keys - 1. freeze the peanut butter cups and cookies before you start working with them. 2. use a piping bag for the yellow iceing - it made so much easier!

used the small baking m&ms for the belt

found the tiny chicklets at a Micheals Craft Store

Handprint Cookie Turkeys

TOH Website

1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon Spice Islands®, All Natural, No Corn Syrup Added, Pure Vanilla Extract
2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup sour cream
5 cups confectioners' sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons water
2-1/4 teaspoons light corn syrup
3/4 teaspoon Spice Islands®, All Natural, No Corn Syrup Added, Pure Vanilla Extract
Red, yellow, orange, green and brown gel food coloring
3-3/4-inch hand-shaped cookie cutter or scissors, pencil and a piece of cardboard for tracing a child's handprint

Cookie Turkeys

TOH Website

40 fudge-striped cookies
1/4 cup chocolate frosting
2 packages (5 ounces each) chocolate-covered cherries
20 pieces candy corn
Place 20 cookies on a flat surface, solid chocolate side down. With frosting attach a chocolate-covered cherry to the top of each base cookie. Position another cookie perpendicular to each base cookie; attach with frosting.
With a dab of frosting, attach one piece of candy corn to the front of each cherry for the head. Let stand until set. Yield: 20 servings.

Nutrition Facts: 1 serving (1 each) equals 157 calories, 7 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 1 mg cholesterol, 94 mg sodium, 22 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 1 g protein.

Strawberry Ghosts

Got Recipe from TOH Website

30 fresh strawberries
8 ounces white baking chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon shortening
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
Wash strawberries and gently pat with paper towels until completely dry. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt white chocolate and shortening at 50% power; stir until smooth. Stir in extract.
Dip strawberries in chocolate mixture; place on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet, allowing excess chocolate to form the ghosts' tails. Immediately press chocolate chips into coating for eyes. Freeze for 5 minutes.
In a microwave-safe bowl, melt remaining chocolate chips; stir until smooth. Dip a toothpick into melted chocolate and draw a mouth on each face. Yield: 2-1/2 dozen.
Nutrition Facts: 1 strawberry equals 54 calories, 3 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 2 mg cholesterol, 8 mg sodium, 6 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 1 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 1/2 starch, 1/2 fat.

Frankenstein Cupcakes

1 to 2 cans (16 ounces each) chocolate frosting
Cupcakes of your choice
Large marshmallows
Corn syrup
Green and black sprinkles
M&M's miniature baking bits
Candy coated licorice
Spread frosting over cupcakes. Lightly coat marshmallows with corn syrup. Roll sides of marshmallows in green sprinkles; dip tops in black. Carefully place a marshmallow in the center of each cupcake.
For eyes, attach baking bits to the face of each marshmallow with a small amount of frosting; pipe pupils using frosting. Attach licorice candies to sides of head for bolts. Pipe frosting onto faces for mouths and stitches as desired. Yield: Varied.

Quick Ghost Cookies

Got Recipe from TOH Website:

1 pound white candy coating, coarsely chopped
1 package (1 pound) Nutter Butter peanut butter cookies
Miniature semisweet chocolate chips
In a microwave-safe bowl, melt candy coating, stirring occasionally. Dip cookies into coating, covering completely. Place on waxed paper.
Brush ends with a pastry brush dipped in coating where fingers touched cookies. While coating is still warm, place two chips on each cookie for eyes. Let stand until set. Store in an airtight container. Yield: about 3 dozen.
Nutrition Facts: 1 serving (2 each) equals 254 calories, 12 g fat (8 g saturated fat), trace cholesterol, 93 mg sodium, 34 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 2 g protein.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

From TOH Website:

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 can (10 ounces) chunk white chicken, drained
1/2 cup buffalo wing sauce
1/2 cup ranch salad dressing
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese
Tortilla chips
Spread cream cheese into an ungreased shallow 1-qt. baking dish. Layer with chicken, buffalo wing sauce and ranch dressing. Sprinkle with cheese.
Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve warm with tortilla chips. Yield: about 2 cups.
Nutrition Facts: 1 serving (2 tablespoons) equals 156 calories, 13 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 38 mg cholesterol, 484 mg sodium, 2 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 7 g protein.

Marshmallow Witches

From TOH Website:

1/2 cup vanilla frosting, divided
36 miniature semisweet chocolate chips
12 large marshmallows
1 drop each green, red and yellow food coloring, optional
1/4 cup flaked coconut
12 chocolate wafers
12 miniature peanut butter cups
12 milk chocolate kisses


For the face of each witch, place a dab of frosting on the bottom of three chocolate chips; press two for eyes and one for nose onto each marshmallow.
For hair, combine green food coloring and a drop of water in a small resealable plastic bag; add coconut and shake well. Spread a small amount of frosting on sides of marshmallows; press coconut hair into frosting. Place 3 tablespoons of frosting in a small heavy-duty resealable plastic bag; tint orange with red and yellow food coloring. Set aside.
For hats, spread some of the remaining frosting in the center of chocolate wafers; press peanut butter cups upside down into frosting. Lightly spread bottoms of chocolate kisses with frosting; place on peanut butter cups. Cut a small hole in the corner of pastry or plastic bag; insert a small star tip. Fill the bag with frosting and pipe stars around the base of each peanut butter cup. Secure a hat to each witch with a dab of frosting. Yield: 1 dozen.

ECFE Website Address

Great Theatre in Hopkins

Parenting Questions

Parent Warmline Number: 612-813-6336 or 1-866-916-4316