Friday, January 20, 2012

Chinese New Year Activities

For many people, Chinese New Year is one of the most important and longest celebrations of the year.  Did you know it lasts for 15 days? It is a time of celebration, eating special foods (like noodles for longevity), cleaning and decorating the house, giving gifts, fireworks, visiting family and getting ready for the coming year.

This year is the year of the dragon, and festivities begin on Monday, January 23rd.  Here are some fun ways you can celebrate Chinese New Years with your kids:

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Crescent Rolls

The kids and I had such a great time making our Pop-Tarts yesterday, that we decided to make another yummy after school snack today. This recipe that I found on "For the Love of Cooking" is definitely another keeper.  It was fast, super easy for the kids to put together, and most importantly delicious.

1 tube of crescent rolls
Peanut butter
Semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Unroll the crescent rolls and spread a layer of peanut butter on each triangle.

Then top with chocolate chips.

Or if you dislike peanut butter (like my daughter thinks she does), skip it and just add the chocolate chips. =)

Roll from the bottom of the triangle to the point.

Place in the oven and bake for 10-11 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and serve while hot (let it cool down just a tad for the little ones so they don't burn their mouth). 


Monday, January 16, 2012

Homemade Pop-Tarts

I was looking for an easy treat for the kids and I to make together and stumbled across this recipe for homemade pop-tarts.  This recipe was quick and easy to make and didn't disappoint...I don't know if I could ever eat a Kellogg's Pop-Tart again!  Next time, I need to remember to have some Nutella on hand, as I'm positive that would have been delicious too!

1 (15 ounce) package refrigerated pie crusts
1/4 cup strawberry jam, divided (we used apple pie filling too)
2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sprinkles or colored sugar

Counting how many ingredients they need.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Unroll the pie crusts, place on a lightly floured work surface, and roll the crusts slightly with a rolling pin to square the edges.

Cut each crust into 8 equal-sized rectangles. Place about 2 teaspoons of strawberry jam in the center of 8 squares, and spread the jam out to within 1/4 inch of the edge of the pastry square.

We decided to try some apple pie filling too.

Top each with another pastry square, and use a fork to crimp the squares together, sealing in the jam. Use a knife to trim the pastries, if desired. Move the filled pastries to the prepared baking sheets.

Bake in the preheated oven until the edges are lightly golden brown, about 7 minutes. Allow to cool on the baking sheets. Meanwhile, stir together the confectioners' sugar, milk, and vanilla extract in a bowl to make a spreadable frosting. If you want colored frosting, separate frosting in smaller bowls and add a drop of food coloring.

Spread the cooled tarts with frosting and sprinkle with sprinkles or colored sugar.

Then dive right into the yumminess that you just made.


Friday, January 13, 2012

3-D Valentine's Day Card

Be sure to stop by and check out the updated version of these cards for 2013.

A friend of mine posted the cutest Valentine Day card on her blog last year, and I have been waiting for Valentine's Day to come around so that I could make them.

I decided to make them early, so that I could blog about it and give the rest of you plenty of time to make your own. =)

-X-Acto Knife
-Printer (or take it to a one-hour photo processing store)

First take a photo of your child with their arm stretched out and their hand is clenched in a fist.  This is the challenging part, especially if your child is younger (as you can see below).

We had to do retakes the next day because she was being so silly.

Once you get the photo you want, upload it to your computer.  I decided to add a Valentine's message to the card so I used Picasa (which is a free program you can download online).

Click the ABC text box

Then type any message you want...choosing the size, color and font that looks best.  Once you are done, go to "File" then "Save as", and name your photo.  You can now print the photo off your printer.  I uploaded mine to and ordered their 4x6 prints, which are 13 cents a photo.

Once you have your pictures printed, take an X-Acto knife and carefully cut a line across the top and bottom of your child's fist. (note the dotted lines in photo below:)

Insert lollipop carefully into the photo....and wallah!  You have a 3-D Valentine card.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Chinese New Year Dragon

My daughter had a play date today and the girls wanted to paint, so in celebration of the upcoming Chinese New Year we painted these egg carton dragons that I found on Mom's Crafty Space. In Chinese astrology, 2012 is the Year of the Dragon, which will start on January 23, 2012.

-Egg carton
-Paint (we used orange, red, yellow and black)
-Paint brush
-Googly eyes
-Red paper for the tongue
-Glue (I ended up using a glue gun)

To make the dragons, take the bottom of an egg carton and cut it in half lengthwise. Then remove one of the end cups for the head.

Paint the entire top of the body and the head of the dragon.  Then paint the inside of the head black (for the mouth).  After the paint dries, glue the head to the body.  The girls had used regular glue, but I decided it was going to take too long to dry, so I glued it for them with a glue gun.  Then add googly eyes to the top of the head and cut out a long red tongue for inside the mouth.

The girls loved playing with their dragons.  They were trying to see whose dragon was the meanest.  I just love their expressions!

And just to show how adorable these girls really are, despite their really ferocious faces above, here's a cute pic of them painting a picture together.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Homemade Butter

Every once in a while I'll use a recipe that calls for whipping cream, but I always end up throwing away the leftovers.  I doubt I'll ever do that again!  I stumbled across this blog Live, Learn, Love and my kids and I learned how to make our own butter.  I definitely had my doubts on how it would taste, but it got such rave reviews by my kids, we ended up making another batch the next day.

-Jar or small container (we used a baby food jar)
-Whipping cream
-Marble (this is not necessary)

Clean your baby food jar, then fill with whipping cream 1/3 of the way full.  As you can see in the photo above, I added a marble to the jar.  However, my daughter shook it too vigorously and her marble ended up puncturing a hole through the glass, causing a big mess.  After speaking to a few people, they told me they've never made butter using a marble, so we omitted this the next day when we made some more. It only added a few more minutes to the process, and definitely omitted the nervousness I had of the glass breaking again. 

Add a pinch of salt.  You can omit this step if you want unsalted butter.

Put the lid on securely and start shaking away.

And shake some more...until you get really tired and then have mom take over. =)  It took a good 10-15 minutes of shaking.  

Shake until the fat in the cream lumps together and the whey (milk serum) has separated itself from the fat.

Drain the whey, put the lid back on and shake it a few more times to make sure you've gotten all the whey out.

Here's the delicious butter that we made:

The kids loved it!  I decided to look up how to make honey butter, and added a tiny bit of honey, cinnamon and vanilla to the butter.  Delicious!!