Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wild Card Wednesday: Cook with Your Kids by Guest Blogger Katie

Hey readers! We've got another special guest post for you! Katie is giving us some tips when it comes to cooking with the kiddos. Her bio information is at the end of the post. Thanks Katie from all of us Talented Terrace Girls for your contribution and for the great tips!

Cook with Your Kids
On busy evenings when you’re trying to get dinner on the table quickly, it’s often easiest to plop the kids in front of the TV while you whip up a quick meal.  Having kids underfoot in the kitchen might sound like a disaster waiting to happen, but getting kids into the kitchen can actually be a big help to busy moms—not to mention, it’s the perfect opportunity to spend time together!
Cooking with your kids is fun, productive and a great way to teach your kids basic skills. Use the following tips to get started:
·         Involve them in the entire process
Most kids prefer stirring and pouring to setting the table or doing the dishes, but when you cook with them it’s important to have them participate in all aspects of the meal from start to finish. Having them fold napkins and help with the dishes will help instill good cleaning habits at an early age.

·         Keep meals simple
Don’t expect kids to have the skills or patience to pull off a four course meal. When you’re first starting off, stick to basic dishes that have lots of easy steps that kids will be able to help out with. Making your own pizza is a great kid-friendly meal option, as are quesadillas, tacos and simple casseroles; they all have lots of basic components that can easily be thrown together.

·         Use kid-friendly tools
Now isn’t the time to bring out your fragile china or extremely heavy pans that could potentially crush little fingers. Aluminum pans are good options for when you’re cooking with kids because they are lighter and easier to carry than metal pans. Also, consider serving your meal on disposable plates to minimize the chances of anything breaking on the way to the dinner table.

·         Take advantage of learning opportunities
Not only does cooking with your child provide you the opportunity to teach them kitchen skills like chopping, stirring, pouring and measuring, but it can also assist kids with their reading and math skills. Practice fractions when you’re dealing with measuring cups, or if you’re doubling a recipe, have them do the multiplication themselves. For younger kids, have them read each step of the recipe out loud to improve their reading skills.

·         Clean as you go
Kids are notoriously messy creatures, so make sure you’re prepared to deal with a possible kitchen mess after you cook! To keep your kitchen looking somewhat clean, keep wet paper towels handy for possible spills and a supply of trash bags next to the counter to throw out scraps as they accumulate.

Cooking with your kids can be easy and fun – just keep it simple and be ready to deal with a few messes! The more you cook together, the better everyone will get, and the more you’ll enjoy this new family activity.

Author Bio: This is a guest post by Katie F. on behalf of Hefty®. For products to help you out in the kitchen, along with suggestions for other age-appropriate chores and activities for kids, visit

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Sweet Tooth Tuesday: Grasshopper poke cake

For Father's Day, i told my hubby to pick a dessert he wanted me to make.  This is what he picked.  It's got just a hint of mint, and lots of chocolate =)  If you like thin mints, or grasshopper ice cream or chocolate and mint, you will like it.  I think the only thing i will change next time is to maybe use mint chips in the chocolate cake.

(you can't tell but the whip cream is actually tinted green)

  • 1 chocolate cake mix + water, oil, eggs as listed on the box
  • 1 - 14.5 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 - 12.8 oz jar Hershey's Special Hot Fudge Sauce
  • 1 - 10 oz package Keebler Fudge Mint Cookies (or Thin Mints, when in season)
  • 1 - 16 oz container cool whip (I like lite)
  • 1 Duncan Hines Mint flavor packet
  • 1 cup Andes Mint chips
  1. Prepare and bake the cake mix in a 9x13 baking dish. Allow to cool completely.
  2. Use the bottom of a wooden spoon to poke holes evenly across the entire cake (about 20 holes). Pour the can of sweetened condensed milk over the cake, trying to fill the holes.
  3. Heat the hot fudge sauce in a small bowl in the microwave. 30-40 seconds should do the trick, you jut want it to soften a little.
  4. Crumble half of the fudge mint cookies into the hot fudge sauce and mix. Spread the cookie/fudge sauce over the cake.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the mint packet and the cool whip. Spread the whipped topping over the fudge layer.
  6. Crumble the remaining cookie crumbs over top of the cool whip. Sprinkle the Andes Mint chips over top.
  7. Refrigerate and chill for at least 4 hours (overnight is best).
  8. Cut and serve. Serves 12-15.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Foodie Friday:Olive Garden Chicken Gnocchi Soup

Hey friends sorry I have been hiding out in the scrapbooking world! :) I told the other girls to just schedule my days and then I would do it, but when I have to self motivate, well you already see what happens with that. Yep my post ideas and pictures back up and I never post. 

Trinity posted this exact recipe back in Feb 2012 but she deleted her pictures so I am going to post it again with a few variations and options. 

oh ya the reason you are getting this post in the middle of the summer is because there were a few rainy days and this sounded SO AMAZING and I made it and now I am craving it again.

Chicken Gnocchi Soup

1 C chicken breast, cooked and chopped
4 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp flour
1 quart half and half or instead use 2 C heavy whipping cream and 2 C milk
1 14 oz can of chicken broth
1/2 C celery, finely diced (Thrive Food has celery freeze dried incase you don't have fresh on hand)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 C carrots, finely shredded or chopped
1 C onion, finely diced
1 C fresh spinach, coarsely chopped (3/4 C-Thrive food freeze dried spinach that works amazing)
1 Tbsp extra virgin oil
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp parsley
1 lb potato gnocchi (find in the gourmet section of supermarkets, walmart has mini Gnocchi that rocks!!)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese-optional

Saute the onion, celery and garlic in the butter and olive oil. If you chopped the carrots saute them now if you shredded then you will add them later. Saute over medium heat until the onion becomes translucent then add the flour. Make the flour all pasted to the veggies and cook for another minute or two. Then add the 1 quart of half and half or cream/milk. Cook gnocchi in a separate pan as instructed on the package. Now into the cream base and veggies add the chicken, if you shredded carrots add them now. Let the mixture thicken and then add the chicken broth (I didn't use it all I kept my soup thick because that is how I like it). Now add the cooked gnocchi, spinach, and seasoning, simmer until soup is heated through.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

DIY Thursday: Project Toy Cover Up

We are currently using the back of a bar that my husband "rescued" from the side of the road as storage for the boys toys and a place to but the DVD player and cable box. Now while I realize that we cannot afford to get something that I really want for that purpose at this moment, and i am ok with that, the fact is that it is UGLY and I was sick of it. So i decided to cover it up.
Awhile ago I made these pillows to replace the awful pillows that we used to have on our couch and I used the extra fabric from that to make the cover.
I won't bore you with how long it took me to firgure out the sizing that worked for the fabric I had because it is a very very long boring project. Just measure twice and cut once, as my mom would say, and make sure you leave room at the edges for the seams.
I ironed the edges down before I sewed them about 1/2 an in. This is a thick fabric and it made the process so much easier.
At the corners I tucked the end in of one side at a 45 degree angle and sewed across it. I have to say that I was way to proud of myself at how this came out. :) It just looks so fancy. (To me.)
Then I cut four, 3 in pieces of Velcro and spaced them evenly across the top of where I was planning on hanging the cover from. I chose to use the pokey side of the Velcro on the fabric so when it was not hanging people wouldn't hurt themselves of the bar.
Then I sewed them down on all four sides.
I spaced the other side of the Velcro on the bar and hot glued them to it.
And for extra stability I nailed them in.
On two sides.
TA DA!!! I think it turned out pretty well and as a bonus everything around it looks cleaner too. Its magic!
No not really. I had to take all these toys out of the chest to make it close. he he. Well, that's all for now. I hope this at the very least gave you some ideas on how to spruce up or cover up some of the unloved spaces in your home. How do you deal with toy storage?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wildcard Wednesday: Weathering Wood

I like to do lots of wood case you didn't notice.  Well, the other day, I was making a sign for someone and I had planned on making it look weathered using some stain.  Well....I went to go get my stain and it was gone!!!  GRRRRR!!!!!  If I went and bought stain then it would end up costing more than what I was charging to make the sign.  So I needed to find a way to make wood look weathered, that didn't involve staining or burning.  So I consulted some creative friends and browsed the internet.  I found this idea and figured, what the hey....I'll try it.
It was super easy and I was happy with the results.  (and it is super cheap!!!!)

You get 1 wad of steel wool.  I found the packages of 12 at the dollar store.  Put it in a glass jar and pour in 1 cup of vinegar and let it sit.  I let mine sit for about a day.  You need to give the acid time to breakdown the steel wool.  You won't see the water color change so don't freak and think nothing is happening (that's what I sorta did)

After it has sat, get your supplies together.  Use an old paintbrush. 

Then just paint away.  You won't see a color change right away, but give it a few minutes.

This was my est board before I tried it on the board I was doing my sign. (I didn't want to ruin the good piece)  The far left side was 3 coats, the next was 2 coats, and the little bit on the bottom rightish is one coat.  So you can get this to do varying shades.

Here is my wood.  You can kinda see the patches I missed but it came out pretty dark.  And check out that splatter mess on my table....Here's my advice....put some newspaper down.  I had to use bleach to get it off.
Here is my finished product.  (my missed Patches were covered by ribbon)

This is such a nice, cheap alternative to staining.  The only downside is you have to wait a day for the steel to react and of course you get that lovely vinegar smell.  The smell will fade on the wood after a few days.  And you can still use mod podge on the board and it won't affect the coloring.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sweet Tooth Tuesday : Gorilla poop (Nutella No-Bake cookies)

So awhile ago I bought a huge thing of Nutella at Sam's. Club. I have been trying to come up with way to use it so I don't open the jar and eat it by the spoonful as I am watching TV....not that that isn't a bad thing....but for some reason my pants don't like it....

On Father's Day, since I didn't have a chance to go to the store the day before to get the ingredients for the dessert I wanted ( yes....I was a procrastinator and waited until the day before) because I had 3 kids screaming and my store trip was cut short. But my hubby is such a great dad and hubby that I still wanted to make something sweet for my sweetie (I told him the elaborate dessert would be Monday after I go to the store) He has been asking me to make some no bake cookies for awhile and he likes Nutella.... so this was the perfect time to try a new recipe.  I think I may like this version better than the classic peanut butter and chocolate....I got my original recipe from Six Sister's Stuff (I LOVE that blog...go check them out!!! They have a recipe for everything!)

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 Tablespoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup Nutella
3 cups quick cooking oats
In a saucepan, combine butter, milk, sugar, and cocoa powder and heat over medium heat. Bring to a rolling boil and let boil for one minute. Remove your saucepan from the heat.
Add Nutella and vanilla to hot mixture and stir until combined. Add oats and stir until completely incorporated.
Drop by spoonfuls onto baking sheets lined with wax paper. Let cool (or you can eat them all warm and gooey- that’s yummy too!).
*Sometimes, this recipe turns out more runny or more dry . . . I really think that it depends on weather, altitude, and how long it boils.  I think I ended up adding about 4 cups of make sure you have extra on hand, I almost ran out....

Monday, July 22, 2013

Munchkin Monday: Dessert Shish Kabob

Why is this a Munchkin Monday?? Well it is because my 9 yr old daughter is on a treat making kick! She is always wanting to make desserts and treats for us and her friends. 

This is her creation. 
1st make a box of brownies (I say box cause for kids this is her easiest option to use) 
2nd clean and cut your strawberries
3rd pull out your mini marshmallows
4th cut brownies into squares and roll into balls. 
5th put everything onto the skewers
6th serve and eat! 

p.s. If you don't roll the brownies into balls then they just pull off the skewers and fall right off. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Foodie Friday: Mexican Salad

 The perfect filling summer salad. For those days when it is just to dang hot to cook. My Grandma found this recipe in the 70's and we have been consuming it ever since. Its light enough that you feel good about yourself for eating a salad and filling enough that you can serve it by itself for dinner and your husband won't complain about being hungry two hours later.

The only ingredient that will give you the slightest pause is called Ranch Style Beans. Its is a specific brand of beans that can be found in most stores. I found these at Smiths for $.69. Just find them, use them, love them.

Combine 1 basket of cherry tomatoes, 1 1/2 cup sharp grated chedder cheese, 5 sliced scallions,1 can drained and rinsed Ranch Style Beans, and one head of lettuce.

 Add one small bottle of Catalina dressing.
 Then crush one bag of corn or tortilla chips (We love Fritos) and add the the salad.
Mix it all up and dig in. This is quite a big salad. It will fill 4-6 people if you serve it by itself and more if you serve it as a side. I know that it sounds a little odd all together but just trust the 70's it is an amazing, easy, delicious salad. Enjoy!

Mexican Salad
1 head lettuce
1 basket cherry tomatoes, whole
5 scallions, sliced
12 oz. or 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 can Ranch Style Beans, drained and rinsed
1 sm. bottle Catalina dressing
1 bag corn or tortilla chips, crushed

Toss all ingredients together except chips. Add chips then toss again.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wild Card Wednesday: Guest Post by Bridget Sandorford

Hey all our readers! We have got a special treat for you today! Today we have a guest post by Bridget Sandorford who's bio information is at the very end of this post. Some of these ideas are pure genius and I'm sure any kid would love to have any of these toys/beds! Thanks Bridget for contributing!  

Best Ikea Hacks for a Kids’ Space
Ikea furniture is a great choice for a kid’s room. Not only is it inexpensive, but it is also infinitely customizable. With a little bit of paint, some fabric, and some creativity, you can create pieces that are beautiful, interesting, and uniquely yours.
Ikea hacks – as customized Ikea furniture is known – are also great for creating kids’ play items, such as play kitchens, train tables, and puppet stages. A look through Pinterest or a search on Google will turn up hundreds of innovative ideas that will fit any budget. Here are some of our favorite picks for the best Ikea hacks for a kids’ space:

A little paint and a few modifications turned this sideboard into a fun and modern play kitchen.

Two Ikea nightstands were converted into this play kitchen with a sink, stove, and backsplash. This conversion required a little more muscle work, with a hole cut for the sink, a new door made for the stove, and a lot of painted details.

This bookcase was turned on its side and put on casters to become the perfect train table with under table storage.

This bunk bed was converted into a cool tractor bed with a few modifications to the height, the addition of the wheels and other elements, and a coat of new paint.

This makeover turns a boring toddler bed into a fire truck. With a little extra elbow grease, the bed has even been transformed to include working headlights!
Your Feedback
What are some of the best Ikea hacks you’ve seen? Do you have any that you’ve tried yourself? Share links to your favorites or tell us about your own projects in the comments!

Author Bio:
Bridget Sandorford is a freelance blog and culinary writer, where recently she's been researching top chef schools. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, painting and working on her first cookbook.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sweet Tooth Tuesday: Boysenberry Almond Shortbread Cookies

My daughter and I were craving something sweet a little while back and while skimming through my collection of recipes I found this one which I had never made before, but looked good. The original recipe calls for raspberry jam, but I just had strawberry and boysenberry so I decided to try out the boysenberry and they were still really yummy! These are sure to satisfy that sweet tooth!

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • seedless raspberry jam (or another flavor if you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 tsp almond extract
  • 3 tsp milk
Mix together the butter, sugar, and almond extract. Mix in flour. Roll into 1 1/2 inch balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press thumb in center of ball to make a small hole. Fill the hole with jam. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 minutes, until edges are slightly brown. Let cool a couple of minutes and transfer to a cooling rack. Combine glaze ingredients until smooth. Dizzle warm cookies with glaze. Make about 18 cookies.
* If you put some towels under the cooling rack it will make cleanup a lot easier!




Friday, July 12, 2013

Foodie Friday: Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

I enjoy anything that has citrus in it especially lemon!  So I was anxious to try this recipe for lemon muffins. The original recipe doesn't call for poppyseeds, but I think lemon and poppyseeds combined is a great combination so I decided to add some in. If you love muffins you will love this recipe!

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins:
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, softenend
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp poppyseeds (optional)

In a medium bowl, cream together butter, sugar, lemon, juice, and egg. Sift together dry ingredients. Alternately add dry ingredients and milk to make a thick batter. Stir in lemon zest and poppyseeds. Spoon into paper lined muffin tin (2/3 full) or a loaf pan. Bake muffins at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Bake loaf at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes. Just before the muffins or bread comes out of the oven, combine syrup ingredients in a medium saucepan.

  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
Combine and heat just until the sugar is dissolved. Prick small holes in the top of baked bread of muffins with toothpick, then gently pour syrup into holes. Cool.  Makes 12 muffins or 1 loaf.