Sunday, October 7, 2012

Homemade Chewy Granola Bars

I am a granola bar addict. I love the chewy gooey ones too. But I am extremely picky as well. The Quaker bars are tasty and chewy but I can eat them in two bites. Meaning I can eat a whole box in one day and I don't have the money to buy 7 boxes of granola bars a week. The Sunbelt ones are amazing but sometimes I have a hard time finding them in the stores. Which is a shame because their size and consistency are perfect!

Then I stumbled across this recipe on Pinterest. Chewy granola bars that take five minutes to make? And I just happened to have all but one ingredient in my pantry? Hopped in the car and headed out to pick up some granola to try it out immediately! The best thing about this granola bar recipe is that it had the basic granola bar recipe and then you could add what you wanted to make it the type of granola bar you wanted. I had some chocolate chip and butterscotch chips in my pantry so my first attempt was choco-butterscotch granola bars. They are delicious! Even my three-year-old gobbled them up! Now I have a dozen homemade granola bars waiting for me for quick breakfasts this week! Awesome, right? And what is even more awesome is knowing the ingredients that are in them and being able to cut them the exact size I want for a serving. Not to mention cost effective! Can't wait to make some different variations of these!

Homemade Chewy Granola Bars 
4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter 
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar 
1/4 cup honey 
2 cups plain granola 
1 cup rice cereal (Rice Krispies, etc.) 
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips 
1/4 cup butterscotch chips

Line two 9×5 loaf pans or one 11×7 inch baking pan (see tip #4 above if you want to use 9×13) with foil or parchment. Lightly butter or spray the foil. Set aside.Combine butter, honey and brown sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the butter is melted.Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the granola and rice cereal into the saucepan and fold them into the sauce until evenly coated.Spread the mixture into the prepared pans and press firmly with a spatula to evenly fill. Sprinkle the chocolate and peanut butter chips onto the top of the granola and gently press them down with the spatula.Let sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes or until mostly cooled and set; lift out of the pan and cut into bars.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Inspired by My Daughter's Love of "Dip"

There are so many many things that I have found on Pinterest that I have thought... "Now why didn't I think of that!" So it definitely has my noggin working in overdrive these days trying to think of new and creative ways to approach things. Here is my first official thinking outside the box Pinterest inspired idea!

I absolutely LOVE creamed chipped beef. I actually love creamed chipped ham more! But this particular night my daughter and I were in need of a fast meal. So I picked up some Stouffer's Creamed Chipped Beef and went home. My daughter is going through her picky stage so I got the bright idea to serve the meal as bread cubes with "dipping sauce" instead of the typical gravy over bread approach. My daughter eats anything if there is dip involved.

It turned out cute and at first it seemed to work. Eventually I think she realized she had been duped because she ate all the bread cubes and left most of the "dip". Maybe it will work better for someone else out there so I thought I would share! Enjoy!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Cheesy Chicken Tater Tot Casserole

I've been meaning to make this dish for awhile now. It's a hearty main dish that is super easy to throw together, it just takes awhile to bake. My favorite things about this dish are the fact that the chicken does not require pre-cooking and that once it is in the oven you don't have to worry about it again until it's done! Unfortunately the night that I cooked this dish my husband ended up coming home late and not hungry and my daughter scrunched up her nose and refused to eat it. I will have to try it again when things are a bit more calmed down at my house. And when it's a bit chillier outside. It is definitely one of those nice filling tummy warming dishes and I thought it was delicious!

Cheesy Chicken Tater Tot Casserole
1 (32 oz.) bag frozen tater tots, partially thawed
1 (3 oz.) bag bacon pieces
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup milk
salt and pepper, to taste

Spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Layer half the tater tots onto the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the bacon pieces. Top with 1/3 of the shredded cheese. Add diced chicken on top. Season with salt and pepper. Add another 1/3 of the bacon pieces and another 1/3 of shredded cheese. Put the rest of the tater tots on top. Finishing with the remaining shredded cheese and bacon pieces. Pour 3/4 milk all over the top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for about an hour to an hour and a half.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Under the Sea Birthday Party

This post should really be named "How to Throw an Amazing Under the Sea Birthday Party for Kids Using Pinterest Ideas" but I thought that might be a little lengthy. Okay so here it goes. My daughter, Lana, is turned three this month. She is absolutely obsessed with octopuses and sharks and whales and dolphins. So the logical thing to do for her birthday party this year was an under the sea theme. First we started out by sending out socktopus invitations to her little friends. I posted about these earlier but I'll put in a pic so we don't miss any of the details of the party.

Of course we attached a little birthday invite and hand delivered them. This was Lana's first party with friends instead of just family so it was pretty much a big deal. The next thing I did was make a plan of attack for decorating the house. I wanted to use an idea that I saw on Pinterest about using scrapbooking paper to cut out animal shapes to decorate a room. So I googled some coloring pages on fish, sharks, octopuses etc., printed them out on card stock to make a template, then traced it onto some scrapbooking paper. I cut out the various aquatic animals and decorated them with googly eyes. Then I taped blue tissue paper up to cover all the dining room walls and taped the sea creatures to it - adding some sand and plant life around the bottom. Ta-da! Instant dining room turned ocean floor! Next we took the idea of stringing balloons onto fishing line to create lanterns (Pinterest) and instead used it instead to make "bubbles" on the ceiling and a "sea curtain" door.

Luckily right after I decided to go with an ocean theme for the party I happened upon some clearance fish dishes at Walmart. Snapped them up for the ocean nibbles buffet! The kids each got to take one of the sectioned fish plates home as part of their favor. The menu? Jell-O Jiggler fish and starfish, veggie tray, meat and cheese tray, goldfish crackers, pretzels, gummy sharks, Swedish fish... tried to squeeze as much ocean-themed stuff in there as possible. For the punch I got some blue Hawaiian Punch and poured some it the night before into a fluted bundt pan. Plopped some Swedish fish in there to have fish "swimming" in the "ocean." Nice bonus was that as the ice ring melted it didn't dilute the punch because it was... well punch!

And of course we had the cake! I dabble in cake decorating so I decided to practice some figure modeling this year. And some chocolate molds. It all came together quite nicely. Yellow cake bottom, strawberry cake top with buttercream frosting, vanilla wafer "sand," chocolate lollipop aquatic life and of course Lana and her octopus topper! The kids loved the fact that they could eat the sea creatures!

Okay that covers the decorations and food. Now for the party games! I just took some good old classics and gave them an ocean twist. First up: Ocean Bean Bag Toss! This game was super easy to do. My Mom and I had made Lana some bean bags to play with out of some bed sheets awhile back. My husband bought some black poster board and drew the ocean design on it with Sharpie paint. We actually kept this to continue playing with after the party!

Next was painting wooden fish. The fish we got at Michaels for a dollar a piece! They came with paintbrushes too! Of course I do recommend that if you are indoors to cover your floors (we covered ours in newspaper and butcher paper) and have smocks for the kids to wear (we used some of Daddy's old work shirts). Then just give them some paint and let them go! We let the finished products dry on the kitchen counter for the remainder of the party and then put them in the kid's gift bags for each child to take home.

Next game was Pin the Ice Cream Cone on the Octopus. I had an old poster from my Mom's teaching days of an octopus. I simply cut out some cones from scrapbooking paper and attached it to the octopus with double-sided tape. Then I cut out an ice cream scoop for each kid, labeling it with their initials to be able to tell who's was who's in the end. We blind-folded the kid's with a scarf. The kids did really great with this!

And the big finale was Oceans in a Bottle directly from Pinterest. I was concerned about this activity because it could have gotten very messy and after the painting activity the floor cover had to be trashed. But the kids listened and followed the instructions to the letter. It was the hit of the party. I do recommend pre-measuring the "ingredients" out for the kids. And dollar store funnels to have for each kid is a must! I did a couple test runs beforehand to see how much of each thing was needed for the bottles I had bought. It was so much easier just to hand out the cups for the kids to pour into the bottles! Smooth sailing!

Ocean in a Bottle 
18 ounce beverage container 
10 shells per container 
1/4 cup sand 
Green and blue food coloring 
Silver glitter 
Mineral or baby oil 
Hot glue gun

  1. Pour sand and shells into clean bottle.
  2. Mix a drop of blue and green food coloring into 6 cups of water, then fill the bottle halfway.
  3. Add a pinch of glitter.
  4. Fill the rest of the bottle with oil, leaving a little air space at the top.
  5. Run a bead of hot glue around the bottle opening and screw the lid on quickly. 
And that was my daughter's super awesome ocean-themed birthday party. I'm glad that it was a success and the kids all had a great time. Me and Daddy definitely need a year to regroup and gear up for the next one.

 Happy third birthday Lana! We love you!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Mississippi Sin Dip

It was pretty late last night by the time we got home from the barbecue, got the munchkin showered and in bed and found homes for all her birthday gifts (did I mention she will be three on Wednesday? Where does the time go???) so I didn't get this posted last night. Mississippi Sin Dip is pretty delish, very rich and reminds me of a crab dip with diced ham instead of crab meat. Here's how you whip it up:

Mississippi Sin Dip
16 oz sour cream
8 oz cream cheese (softened)
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup chopped ham
1 green onion chopped (optional)
1/4 tsp hot sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
French loaf bread

Mix all the ingredients (except the bread) together until well blended. Hollow out the French loaf creating a "boat." Save hollowed out pieces to toast for dipping. Pour mixture into "boat" and wrap in foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Toast bread pieces. Serve warm with toasted bread pieces.

So easy yet looks so elegant! And super yummy as well! Would be great served with crackers as well. My grandmother thought that herbed crackers would be really tasty. I have to agree - will definitely make sure to have some on hand next time I whip this up! Enjoy!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

Here are the second flavor of truffle pops that I promised for the barbecue tonight. Whipped up some edible chocolate chip cookie dough (sans eggs) and dunked them in some chocolate CandQuik, finally dunking them in some blue decorating sprinkles. I think that the next time I make truffles, I'm going to get some real chocolate and melt it down to dip in. CandiQuik is really thick and tastes a little chemically to me. Here's the recipe folks:

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
chocolate candy coating
popsicle sticks, cut in half (use kitchen scissors to make a clean, smooth cut)

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars with an electric mixer until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Mix in milk and vanilla.Add flour and salt and mix on low until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Chill dough in refrigerator for about 30 minutes until firm enough to roll or scoop into 1-inch balls. Place rolled balls on a wax paper lined baking sheet and place in the freezer for at least 15 minutes. Melt candy coating following instructions on the package. Remove a couple of balls from the freezer at a time and insert the cut stick into the ball. Dip in candy coating and let any excess fall off back into the bowl. Add small sprinkles on top and place on wax paper to set. If the chocolate pools at the bottom of the ball, dot the balls on the wax paper until most of it is pulled off the ball and then place it on a clean spot of the wax paper to set.Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a week.

The cookie dough is awesome! Could just eat that out of a bowl (and I did). I mixing up the Mississippi Sin Dip tonight at the barbecue. If it's tasty I'll make sure to snap a pic and post the recipe! Have a great Labor Day everyone!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Thin Mint Truffles

So I decided to whip up some cookie truffles for a barbecue that my parents are having this weekend. I settled on these thin mint truffles and some cookie dough truffle pops. Thin mint first! Originally these are supposed to be dipped in green mint baking chips (something you can apparently purchase only online in this area) so I decided to dip them in white chocolate instead and garnish them with Andes Mint baking chips. They were okay when I taste-tested them. I'm not sure if it was that they weren't cold or the fact that I subconsciously knew that I had put fat free cream cheese in them as the recipe called for... they just seemed to have a weird after taste. I think I am also coming down with a cold which doesn't help with taste testing. Josh and Lana liked them though so I guess it is just me. Here's the recipe:

Thin Mint Truffles
1-9oz box Girl Scout Thin Mints {or Keebler's Grasshopper Cookies - these come in 10 oz. boxes so take four cookies out to get 9 oz.}
4 oz fat free cream cheese, slightly softened
8 oz white chocolate chips or white chocolate bark (I used CandiQuik)
Andes Mint Baking Chips
Popsicle Sticks
Cut popsicle sticks in half to make 24 mini sticks. Set aside.

In a food processor, pulse the Thin Mints a few times, and them blend them down until they are just crumbs. It might be easier to do this in two batches. Next, mix in the cream cheese and crumbs together in a bowl until well incorporated. Roll the mixture into 1-inch size balls, push them onto a mini popsicle stick and place them on a wax paper covered baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the fridge for about 30 minutes, so the balls are easier to dip in the chocolate and do not fall apart.

Once the truffles have been in the fridge for a while, melt the green mint chips or white chocolate chips in a double broiler or a microwave safe bowl (or follow the microwave instruction if you are using CandiQuik).

Dip the truffles into the melted white chocolate and then into a small bowl filled with Andes Mint baking chips. Place back onto the wax paper. Once all the truffles are dipped, place the baking sheet back in the fridge so that the chocolate can set. 
Unfortunately I have suffered an injury this evening, and due to a small cut that won't stop bleeding on my finger the cookie dough truffle pops will have to be postponed until tomorrow. Stay tuned for those and the Mississippi Sin Dip that is to be made!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Pepperoni String Cheese Roll-ups

These things were so good that they didn't stick around long enough for a photo! And there were no leftovers to snapshot afterwards either. Definitely a home run with both the husband and the toddler!

Pepperoni String Cheese Roll-Ups
1 (8 ounce) package refrigerated crescent roll dough
4 cheese sticks, halved
1 (3.5 ounce) package sliced pepperoni
optional - marinara or ranch sauce for dipping

Garlic Butter Glaze:
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasonings
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Take each triangle of crescent roll dough and place about 6 pepperonis on the bottom of the triangle. Place half of a cheese stick on top and roll up. Place seam side down on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-14 minutes or until golden brown.

While rolls are cooking, combine the melted butter, Italian seasonings, garlic powder and Parmesan cheese in a small bowl.

When rolls are done remove from the oven and brush with the garlic butter glaze. Serve with marinara or ranch for dipping.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Neiman Marcus Bars

So I'm not sure what the original name of these delicious Southern bars was but I have seen them called Neiman Marcus Brownies, Chess Squares, Ooey Gooey Butter Cake and Texas Gold Bars. Since I originally pinned them as Neiman Marcus Brownies, I decided to stick close to that name. Although I thought they were more of a bar than a brownie.

Best thing about these bars are that they take a mere 5 ingredients to make. Truly decadent though! Very rich. They reminded me a lot of my mother's Lemon Chess Pie but without the lemons. Definitely a keeper for when I need a quick but nice dessert to take somewhere!

Neiman Marcus Bars
1 box yellow cake mix
3 eggs (1 egg for crust, 2 eggs for topping)
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
4 cups (1 lb) powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees and spray a 9×13 dish with cooking spray. Mix cake mix, melted butter and one egg until it forms a soft dough. Press dough onto bottom of the dish. Mix powdered sugar, softened cream cheese and remaining two eggs until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Spread evenly on top of crust. Bake at 300 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until top is golden brown.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Disneyworld Character Letters

Write a letter to a Disney character and get a letter back! So technically it worked however I was disappointed that Lana wrote a letter to Cinderella and got back a mass printed message postcard from Cinderella. I wasn't expecting an actual letter but I think Disney has enough money and employees to get some people in there doing princess signatures so it seems a little more authentic... here's the address in case we want to try again... however I think we'll just take an autograph book when we go and meet the characters in Disney World instead...

Walt Disney World Communications
PO Box 10040
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-0040

Maybe if we choose to write a villain or newer character it would work better? Might have to try that out! PS - I would have gotten the photo with Lana but we were literally out the door on a weekend get-away trip and when we got home we had an allergic reaction to medication emergency room episode. Poor Lana has been covered in an itchy mess of a rash that I don't think she would want documented on film!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Cookie Sheet Alphabets and Sponge Blocks

Lana will be three in less than a month! The inevitable is here - the need for preschool touring has arrived! Lana was born in that oh so terrible time for the schooling years (first week of September). Should we start her early? Should we start her late? Either way it is time to start prepping her for pre-K. Lana knows her alphabet pretty well.... at least the upper case set. But she needs some more practice so I made her this letter recognition board. Just took a cookie sheet from the dollar store, attached some scrapbooking letters to it and ta-da! We can practice our letters. And to make it even better....

We put the lower-case letters on the back to practice. Break out the magnetic alphabet letters and let the alphabet practicing commence :)

While I was at the dollar store, I also picked up some sponges to make some "sponge blocks" for Lana to play with. Take regular sponges, cut in half, cut in half again and you have little log sponges to build with. Lana decided they looked like carrot sticks. She then proceeded to calling my husband and I her "donkeys" and "fed" us the carrots. She really loved them. So cheap and easy but with so many possibilities!

Here she is "feeding" mommy the sponges. I'm definitely going to need to get a few more packs so we have enough to build little houses for her princess figurines!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Kitchen Table Fort

So I originally got this idea from the book Play Unplugged but I have seen a lot of fancy editions of it on Pinterest so I thought I would blog it. What does one kitchen table + old comforters + beach towels make? A killer hideaway fort for your toddler! Plus it leaves the top of the table free for mommies to organize things while their child plays :)

I just draped some old comforters around three sides of the table and used beach towels to make a "door" that wouldn't pull everything down when your munchkin goes in and out. I put another comforter on the inside to cushion the floor and then let Lana pile in all her pillows, mini blankets and stuffed animals. She loved it! Thinking about doing this again but with the sofas back to back and spread apart for a fort with two entrances! Or an entrance and an exit....

Lana even had her twilight turtle in their for a little light show. Great way to be able to use it without having to wait for it to be dark enough in the house.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken

So my last post was a pancake recipe when I said I didn't care too much for pancakes... except I changed my mind when introduced to heavenly flavored gourmet-style pancakes. I also don't care too much for Chinese food and here I am posting a Chinese recipe. Maybe I just like foods that I prepare myself? This Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken is pretty amazing. I even ate it with hot buttered rice... another thing I don't eat. Warning: This recipe takes TIME to make. You have to dice the chicken, coat in cornstarch, coat in egg, pan brown and then bake it for an hour! Worth eating dinner at 7? Yes.... Of course waiting that hour for it to bake gives you plenty of time to clean up the mess and gives you a fast, simple clean-up after dinner - plus!

Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken
Chicken Coating:
3-4 boneless chicken breasts
salt + pepper
1 cup cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup canola oil

Sweet and Sour Sauce:
3/4 cup sugar
4 tbs ketchup
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp garlic salt

Start by preheating your oven to 325 degrees. Rinse your chicken breasts in water and then cut into cubes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Dip chicken into the cornstarch to coat then dip into the eggs.  Heat your 1/4 cup oil in a large skillet and cook your chicken until browned but not cooked through. Place the chicken in a 9x13 greased baking dish. Mix all of your sweet and sour sauce ingredients in a bowl with a whisk and then pour evenly over the chicken. Bake for one hour (during the baking process you will need to turn the chicken every 15 minutes).

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Cinnnamon Roll Pancakes

I am not a pancake fan. Unless they are super-flavored gourmet pancakes of course :) I made Pumpkin Pancakes with Cinnamon Brown Syrup last fall and have decided I need to make gourmet pancakes all the time. So when I saw these Cinnamon Bun Pancakes on Pinterest I knew I was going to have to try them! The pancake batter was a little thin for my liking. Next time I'll either use a cookie cutter to control the spreading or just use a different pancake batter base. These would be great for birthday or holiday morning breakfasts. The cinnamon swirl is money!

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes
Cinnamon Filling:
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, just melted (not boiling)
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Cream Cheese Glaze:
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2-ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil

Prepare the cinnamon filling: In a medium bowl, stir together the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Scoop the filling into a quart-sized heavy zip baggie and set it aside (see *Tips below).

Prepare the glaze: In a small pan, heat the butter over low heat until melted. Turn off the heat and whisk in the cream cheese until it is almost smooth. Sift the powdered sugar into the pan, stir and add in vanilla extract. Set the pan aside while you make the pancakes.

Prepare the pancake batter: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk in the milk, egg and oil, just until the batter is moistened (a few small lumps are fine).

Cook the pancakes: Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium-heat and spray with nonstick spray. Use an ice cream scoop (or 1/3 cup measuring cup) to add the batter to the pan. Use the bottom of the scoop or cup to spread the batter into a circle (about 4-inches in diameter). Reduce the heat to medium low. Snip the corner of your baggie of cinnamon filling and squeeze the filling into the open corner. When your pancake begins to form bubbles, add the filling. Starting at the center of the pancake, squeeze the filling on top of the pancake batter in a swirl (just as you see in a regular cinnamon roll). Cook the pancake 2 to 3 minutes, or until the bubbles begin popping on top of the pancake and it's golden brown on the bottom. Slide a thin, wide metal spatula underneath the pancake and gently but quickly flip it over. Cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until the other side is golden as well. When you flip the pancake onto a plate, you will see that the cinnamon filling has created a crater-swirl of cinnamon. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, and repeat with the remaining pancake batter and cinnamon filling. Re-warm the glaze briefly, if needed. Serve pancakes topped with a drizzle of glaze.

Quick and easy tip: Use a boxed pancake mix as the base for this recipe.

*Tips for the cinnamon filling: Before swirling, open up the baggie again and give it a good stir to re-incorporate any butter that may have separated from the sugar. You want the mixture to thicken a bit- it's best when it's similar to the squeezing texture of a tube of toothpaste, which will happen if you leave it at room temperature for several minutes. Don't try to use the filling for the pancake swirl unless it has thickened, as it will be too runny to make a solid swirl.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Mini Lasagnas

Individual lasagnas made in a muffin pan? Amazing idea!
Warning: The top wonton wrapper gets a little crispy (if you just can't stomach that kind of thing).
Love the fact that you can control how many to make so you don't have leftovers. Also a big bonus that they are fast and super easy but the end result looks like something out of a high-class restaurant. Need to remember for entertaining!

Mini Lasagnas
Marinara Sauce
Ricotta or Cottage Cheese
Mozzarella Cheese
Won Ton Wraps
Italian Seasoning
Ground Beef or Sausage

Spray a cupcake pan with Pam. Place one won ton wrap in each cup.  Next layer sauce, meat and cheeses, then repeat.  Sprinkle with Italian seasonings and bake at 375° for 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes and pop out with a knife.

Yield: Prepare 2 to 4 cups per person

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Lana's third birthday is coming up! Since she is obsessed with all things octopus my husband and I decided to have an ocean-themed party this year. What better way to deliver her birthday invitations than with these adorable socktopuses I pinned on Pinterest? Since we are having our first kid party this year (and that means only five kid guests since we are still in the non-schooling years) I thought it would be fun for Lana to hand deliver her invitations. Very excited to get some pictures of her delivering these to her little friends :)

Socktopus Invitations
Old Cheap (Clean) Tights
Googly Eyes
Hot Glue Gun

Cut legs off tights. Fill end with batting. Tie end off with yarn. Trim yarn. Cut eights legs from tight leg. Attach googly eyes with hot glue gun. Attach invite and deliver to guest! Capture the smiles on camera for the birthday scrapbook :)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Glitter Slime!

Lana loved this stuff! I loved it even more - easy to make, was not messy at all and had her entertained for a long time (in 2-year-old attention span world). She requests pink next time :)

Glitter Slime
12 oz. Glitter Glue
Liquid Starch

Put 1 cup liquid starch in bowl. Add glue. Stir. Keep adding liquid starch until the mixture becomes a cohesive ball of slime. Store in airtight container.

Calm Down Jars

So these glitter jars originally started out as meditation tools for children. Then Moms got the bright idea to use them as calming jars for children who get unruly during time-outs. The child shakes the bottle up and depending on the glue to water ratio can "time" the time-out with the settling of the glitter. The kid has something to distract them during punishment and hopefully will result in a calmed down child by the time their punishment is over.

Well since I have a rather easygoing child, I thought this would be a good quiet time activity instead. Every night around 8:00 my child gets crazy! Running, jumping, dancing, singing.... anything that is loud and anything but winding down at the end of the day. Of course this is right at the time that we start getting her ready for bed. So I made a small version of a calming jar (easier for Lana to handle) and gave it to her. She promptly thought that this would be a great toy to shake up, place on the floor and dance around. Not quite what I was going for...

We are still keeping this jar around and I'm attempting to coordinate it into a night-time activity. Maybe if I tried a glow-in-the-dark version for in bed? Anyways here is the formula for making it....

Calm Down Jars
One plastic bottle (size depending on age of child)
One container of super-fine glitter
Glitter glue (small)

Fill bottle three-quarters full of water. Add superfine glitter and about one tablespoon of glitter glue. Shake bottle. Add more water to have glitter separate faster; add more glitter glue if you want the glitter to separate slower. Add enough glue/water to fill bottle completely. Superglue lid to bottle.