pancake cupcakes

Yum!  Just made this delicious treat I found over at created by Diane – buttermilk pancakes with maple frosting.  The kiddos loved it!

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Birthday Treat for my little sweet!

I found another sweet recipe and blog!  Truth be told this wasn’t the first recipe I tried (and loved) from Sally’s Baking Addiction.  I’ve tried lots of sugar cookie recipes as we have a cookie decorating party every year for Christmas.  I found a keeper with Sally’s soft cut-out sugar cookies!

So her advice about rolling out the dough before chilling and stacking with parchment paper – genius!  worked like a charm.  it was so easy to cut them out one piece of dough at a time.  So yummy, no spreading or distortion of the shapes.  The recipe easily doubled with no problems.  I made mustaches and dog bones much to my daughter’s delight.

sugar cookies

sugar cookies

Baking Soda Bomb Bags

There is an activity that is a classic – baking soda volcanoes.  The bomb bags are a fun update to this classic.  This has to be one of the most requested activities here at our respite home.  Very simple, very colorful and very messy.

Supplies needed –

  • quart size freezer bags
  • cornstarch
  • food dye
  • dish soap
  • vinegar
  • paper towels
  • baking soda
Bomb Bags

Bomb Bags

Step 1:  Put 1/4 cup cornstarch, generous squirt of dish soap and couple drops of food dye in the freezer bag.  Add about 1/2 cup of vinegar to the bag.

Tip:  Roll the top of the bag over about an inch or so.  Put your hand in the bag and press down.  It’ll sit up like a bowl like in the photo above.

Step 2:  Seal bag tightly and mix the ingredients together

 

Bomb Bags

Bomb Bags

Bags will look like the picture above when mixed properly

Step 3:  Place a piece of paper towel flat on a counter and pour a few spoonfuls of baking soda into the center.  Then fold the paper towel up around the pile.  I tell the kids this is the detonator.

Step 4:  Go outside with the paper towel detonator and the freezer bag.  have the kids put the detonator in the bag and then seal it up quickly.

Bomb Bags

Bomb Bags

Encourage the kids to shake the bags or throw the bags.    The bags swell up big like the picture above.  It’s safe enough if they pop while the kids are holding them as long as it doesn’t get into their eyes.

 

Bomb Bags

Bomb Bags

I also encourage the kids to walk through and stomp in the resulting mess.  The chemical reaction caused by the vinegar mixing with the baking soda creates a cold soapy mess – perfect for a warm day.

Bomb Bags

Bomb Bags

Check out this Science Activity for better instructions:  Bubble Bomb

I added food dye, dish soap and cornstarch because color is fun, so are bubbles.  The extra ingredients make this fun science experiment messier and in a kid’s world – messier tends to be more fun.

Lemon waffle cookies

found a new recipe (and blog) that I fell in love with this weekend.  Lemon Waffle Cookies at Created by Diane.  Actually I think I love this recipe a little too much.  Made a batch of lemon cookies and the 4 of us promptly ate them all.  Next day I made a batch swapping out the lemon extract with anise extract and then promptly ate them all.  maybe I should only pull out this recipe for special occasions.  Yum!

Stromboli with Italian herb dough

Stromboli with Italian herb dough

Stromboli with Italian herb dough

Stromboli with Italian herb dough

I started with the most delicious yeast bread recipe that I’ve found – Easy Yeast Rolls from Taste of Home.

Ingredients

  • 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 6 to 6-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

I didn’t have any canola oil so I used vegetable oil.  I then added garlic powder, onion powder, and McCormick Spaghetti Sauce Seasoning Mix (my all-time favorite seasoning blend) to the dough.

McCormick® Spaghetti Sauce Seasoning Mix - 20.5 oz.

Directions

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. In a large bowl, combine sugar, egg, oil, salt, yeast mixture, seasonings and 4 cups flour; beat on medium speed until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a stiff dough. (I have found that mixing with a hand mixer to be a bad idea as it gunks it all up – We’ve just been mixing with a wooden spoon).

Turn dough onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.  (I preheat the oven to 200 degrees.  When the dough is ready I turn off the oven and put the dough inside to rise.)

Punch down dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into four portions.

Roll out each portion to make the crust portion of your Stromboli.  Place sauce, cheese and toppings inside.  Fold dough over and pinch edges closed.

Place on greased baking sheets. Cover with kitchen towels; let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°.Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. 

Brush with melted salted butter immediately after removing from the oven.

We made some with pepperoni.  I found it helpful to put a slice of pepperoni on the outside as Izzy doesn’t like it.  I will also put some of the white sauce on the outside to make it easier to find that one.

 

Cheerios to the Rescue

Last night I was craving a peanut butter sandwich.  Peanut butter is my comfort food.  I had the peanut butter, and the grape jelly but bread was green. 

Then I remembered the box of Cheerios that I bought the other day on impulse.  I haven’t bought Cheerios since Izzy was little.   

I sprayed down a container with cooking spray and poured roughly two cups worth of Cheerios in the container.  I combined 3 tablespoons of butter and 1/2 cup of peanut butter in a bowl and melted them in the microwave for 1 minute.  I put 2 tablespoons of hot cocoa mix over the cheerios then poured the melted peanut butter over the cheerios and stirred it up.

Peanut butter craving satisfied and my love of Cheerios renewed.

chocolate peanut butter Cheerios

chocolate peanut butter Cheerios

 

Baking Fun – Sweet, Sweet Smell of a Job Well Done

Yesterday I woke up in the mood to bake but had no idea what to make.  Here is what I made yesterday:

  1. Banana Bread
  2. Pumpkin Bread
  3. Stromboli with Italian herb dough 
  4. Blackberry stuffed sweet rolls

I chose the banana bread because I had 7 brown bananas hanging out on my counter.  The one boy was excited but then again he has a major sweet tooth and I don’t buy store made sweets for the house. 

I have a basic go to recipe for banana bread that I love.  I’ve tweaked and tweaked this recipe until it was just right to me.  I love a banana bread that tastes strongly of bananas, is moist and not spiced. 

The following recipe is always a hit at my house.

Banana Bread

banana bread

banana bread in a mini loaf pan

  • 6 overripe bananas
  • 4 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 cups of self-rising flour

Preheat the oven to 340F. I put each item into the bowl one at a time and mix between each addition.  Pour into pan of choice and bake for 40-45 minutes.  Before baking I like to add chocolate chips to the top.  I tend to make these in a cupcake pan or mini loaf pan – it made 6 cupcakes and 4 mini loaves.

I usually add pumpkin to this recipe – 1 small can pumpkin, add 2 tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 cup self-rising flour to the above recipe and it was a hit to everyone but Izzy.  This time she begged me to leave out the pumpkin so straight up banana bread it was.

The banana bread batter smells amazing.  I love the smell of it raw, I love the smell of it baking and definitely love the smell of it when it’s done. 

I was kind of sad though that it wouldn’t have that delicious pumpkin in it though.  I personally love pumpkin so I wondered if my recipe would work without bananas.

Pumpkin Bread

pumpkin bread

pumpkin bread

  • 1 small can pumpkin
  • 4 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 cups of self-rising flour
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice

The batter looked too dry/ thick so I added 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce and it looked perfect.  A few of my kids came in and begged to taste.  The pumpkin bread batter was an instant hit.

I baked the same way as the banana bread but used white chocolate chips on top instead.  The kids loved it – even Izzy.

(I promise to take better pictures next time I bake!)

 

coming soon!

  • Stromboli with Italian herb dough 
  • Blackberry stuffed sweet rolls

Sensory Fun – Cloud Dough

There are tons of good reasons to have your kids play with sensory activities but the best reasons is that it’s fun!  One of my favorite sensory activities is Cloud Dough.  I found this recipe from one of my favorite blogs – Fun at Home with Kids

The first time I made this I was so in love with how it felt.  Soft, smooth, and silky feeling.  The kids loved it too.  They loved it so much that they sent me inside to make a second batch. 

Cloud Dough

Cloud Dough

They also were trying to divide it out so that they could each take some home with them when they left us. 

The recipe is so easy and so quick.  Plus it only needs two ingredients. 

  • 4 cups of flour
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil. 
Cloud Dough

Cloud Dough

I usually just dump the ingredients in a bowl and then have a kid mix it together with their hands. 

Cloud Dough

Cloud Dough

I typically have the kids play with this outside.  When it spills out of the container (which it always does) I don’t worry about the mess because the birds and squirrels love to clean it up. 

 

Art Fun – Balloon Pop Fun – Again!

We really love the balloon pop art here at the respite house.  I believe the kids must talk about the activities that we do here because this Sensory Sunday we had a request for the balloon pop art from someone who hasn’t been here for this activity. 

so I Filled the balloons like I always do.  I got covered in paint like I always do.  The interesting bit is that the two people helping to fill the balloons stayed clean.  I must just be a messy person.

Balloon Pop Art

Balloon Pop Art – Splattered kids

At least the kids got messy too!  Here is Izzy and her friend with paint splattered on them. 

Balloon Pop Art

Balloon Pop Art

Balloon Pop Art

Balloon Pop Art

The wet one (bottom pic) was so much more vibrant and beautiful.  Once it dried it lost some of the wow to me.  we left the balloon pieces on the board this time and I feel it added an interesting touch to the finish project.

Art Fun – Water Color Resist with Crayons

Today’s art project with the kids was water color resist with crayons.  I remember doing these when I was younger.  It’s also something that I enjoy every Easter using a white crayon on the eggs before dying them.  I pulled out a tote pull of crayons and gave the kids some ideas

  • night sky or fireworks
  • underwater scene with fish
  • clouds 

 

Water color resist with crayons

Water color resist with crayons

First gather your materials:

  • Paper
  • Water color paints
  • Crayons
  • Paint Brushes

Step by Step

  • Draw a picture on the paper with crayons
  • Use the water color to paint over the entire paper.

Water color resist with crayons

Water color resist with crayons

Water color resist with crayons

Water color resist with crayons

 

We learned through trial and error that wider paintbrushes work best for this activity

Water color resist with crayons

Water color resist with crayons

Water color resist with crayons

Water color resist with crayons

Water color resist with crayons

Water color resist with crayons

 

 

While the kids were working on their paintings I wrote a special message to each of them using a white crayon and then let them paint over the paper to read what I wrote about them.