Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cake Mix Chocolate Chip Cookies

Growing up, my mom always made the same kind of chocolate chip cookies.  They are quick and easy to make and taste Yummy!!
I love to make other types of cookies but these always remind me of my childhood.
 Cake Mix Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 pkg white cake mix
2 Tbsp water
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
6 oz. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Mix all ingredients together in bowl.  Add chocolate chips and mix.
Scoop teaspoon size balls (I use a small cookie dough scoop) onto cookie sheet.
Bake for about 13 minutes.

These will be really light colored.  You can tell when they are done because the bottom will be light brown.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies.  Enjoy!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Lego Keychains

My sons Lego party is quickly approaching so we have been working on goodie bags.  This is his favorite part of a party so he always gets excited to help.  We decided to make keychains for the kids so they could hang them on their backpacks.
 All you do to make these is drill a hole in the Lego and put a key ring through.
In addition to the keychains we added some Lego coloring pages we printed off and Lego crayons.  We added a few pieces of candy and put them in pencil boxes that stack and sort of look like Legos.  We are now all ready for his party.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Family Fun Night- Snowman

My son came home with a family craft project so decided to turn it into our next family fun night.  His craft was to make a snowman using items found around the house so I made a "snowman" dinner.
We started out with pizza.  The hat, eyes and mouth are olives, nose is a carrot, scarf and buttons are pepperoni.
 We also had snowman fruit kabobs.  The hat is apple and mandarin orange, body is banana, eyes and buttons are mini chocolate chips, nose is candy corn and arms are pretzels.
 After dinner we made the snowman craft project.  We had a great time hunting around the house for items to use and see what kind of snowman we could come up with.
Family Fun Nights take a bit of work but they are worth the extra effort, we all really enjoy them.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Birdseed Valentine's

My boys have been wanting to make some sort of bird feeder.  We decided to make some fun birdseed Valentine's. 
Start out by tracing around a heart cookie cutter onto a scrap piece of cardboard.
 Cut out the heart and poke a hole to put a string through.
 Frost the sides of the cardboard with peanut butter or Crisco.
 Press the peanut butter covered heart into birdseed.
 Put a string or ribbon through the hole you punched earlier and hang where the birds will find it.
 Happy Valentine's Day Birds!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lego Crayons

My oldest son is having a Lego party in the next few weeks.  One thing he wanted to add to his goodie bags was Lego crayons.  These are simple to make and turn out really cute.
 My son told me 6 months ago he wanted a Lego party so I had plenty of time to plan.  I was able to get all the crayons during the school sales for $.25 a box.
To make the crayons preheat the oven to 225 degrees.
Take the wrappers off the crayons and break them up into small chunks.  Use one crayon per hole in the mold. (I got the mold from the Lego website.)
Bake the crayons in the oven for 10-15 minutes.  The smaller the chunks the less time it takes.
 Once the crayons are completely melted let them cool for about an hour. 
I love how some of the colors get mixed and make crayons with several colors.   I am sure the kids at the party will really enjoy these.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Soup Exchange

My friend and I recently did another recipe exchange.  This time we each made a double batch of 5 different soups.  We kept one batch for ourselves and traded the other.  I love having 10 different soups in my freezer.  Makes for quick and easy meals.

Roasted Garlic Soup
4 whole heads of garlic
3 Tbsp olive oil
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 medium onions, chopped
salt & pepper
2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
8 cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a small baking sheet with foil. Use a sharp knife to cu about 1/4 inch off top of each garlic head. Place garlic cut side up on baking sheet and drizzle olive oil over heads. Roast garlic until softened; about 45 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, squeeze soft cooked pulp from each clove into a small bowl.
Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and 1 tsp each salt and pepper and cook. stirring often. until onions have softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in thyme and reserved garlic. Sprinkle in flour. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring to incorporate flour. Pour in chicken broth, increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Boil rapidly, stirring often, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
Working in batches, puree soup in a food processor (or use emulsion blender). Return to pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add cream, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with parsley.
Autumn Soup
1 lb ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
4 cups water
1 cup cut up carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 cup cubed pared potatoes
2 tsp salt
1 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1/4 tsp pepper
1 bay leaf
1/8 tsp basil
1 can (28 oz) tomatoes w/ liquid
In a large saucepan, brown meat. Drain. Cook meat and onions until tender about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients in a crock pot or big pot; except tomatoes. Heat to boiling, reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes. Add tomatoes. Cover and simmer 10 minutes until vegetables are tender.

Taco Soup
1 lb hamburger-browned
1 onion-optional
1 can tomatoes
1 can kidney beans
1 can corn
1 can tomato sauce
1 pkg taco seasoning
water if nenecessary
Put ingredients in crock pot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.
Pour over Fritos and top with cheese.
Tomato Cheddar Soup
3 T butter
1/2 cup onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes w/ juice
1 1/4 cup chicken stock
1 1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sour cream
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
salt & pepper
In a large sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions, saute til soft. Add garlic, cook for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and their juices, stock and water. Bring to a simmer then remove from heat. Let cook for 10 minutes.
Add 1/4 cup sour cream, whisk until blended. Add remaining sour cream, whisk until combined. Stir in pepper and cheese to blend. Add salt and pepper to taste. Gently reheat to serve.
Broccoli Cheddar Cheese Soup
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp butter
32 ounces (4 cups) chicken stock
12 ounces broccoli florets
1 cup finely chopped carrots
1/3 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
6 cups shredded cheddar cheese
32 ounces (4 cups) half and half
Saute onion and garlic in butter until onion is translucent.
Add chicken stock and nutmeg and bring to a low boil.
Add broccoli and carrots and cook until tender.
Add cheese and stir until fully melted.
Pour in half & half and continue to stir on medium/low heat until all ingredients are incorporated and soup is heated through, being careful not to boil.
Serve and enjoy!
Linking up to Tasty Tuesday!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Crepes with Cool Whip Hearts

Way back in high school I took a couple of French classes.  I admit I don't remember anything other then the word for cheese, but one thing I did take away from the class was this recipe for Crepes.  This is a recipe we use often and has become a family favorite.  One of our favorite fillings is apples but we have tried several others such as blueberries and strawberries.  All  have been yummy.
 My boys love special meals.  These are meals that I take a couple extra minutes to make special and more fun to eat.  This time I made apple crepes and topped it with a Cool Whip heart and red sugar.  I made the hearts by letting the Cool Whip thaw a bit.  Then I spread it on a plate and stuck it back in the freezer to harden.  Right before I added it to the crepe, I cut out a heart shape and then sprinkled red sugar on top.  My boys loved it and gobbled it up.
Crepe Recipe:

1 cup milk
2 Tbsp butter
2 eggs (beaten)
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Heat milk and butter in saucepan, lukewarm until butter is melted.
When slightly cooled, beat in eggs, flour, baking powder and salt.
Cook like pancakes (takes about a minute on each side).
Add berries, whip cream or powdered sugar.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Family Fun Night- Treasure Hunt Dinner

For our recent family fun night we had a treasure hunt dinner.  It took a little thought to put it all together but was well worth it.  It gave us a chance to slow down and spend some valuable time together as a family.  I was so wrapped up in the evening that I even forgot to take pictures.

I started by choosing 5 places in the house that would be good for us to eat a portion of our meal and also do a fun activity.  I chose each of my boys rooms, the master shower, the playroom and in front of the fireplace.  I then chose a food that would be easy to eat in that spot and an activity.  I decided on a meal that was not only easy to make but easy to have ready when we moved to our next location.  We had fruit kabobs, deviled eggs, bread sticks, pizza and Oreos.

I came up with 5 clues that would lead us to the next location and gave them to my husband to read.  After hiding the activity in the different locations we were ready to start.

Clue #1
Go to the smallest bed in the house.
This led us to my 2 year olds room.  In there, we found the fruit kabobs and some Christmas coloring pages.

Clue #2
Go to where mom and dad keep their shampoo.
We found ourselves in the master shower.  All four of us stood in the shower eating deviled eggs and playing a game of Go Fish.

Clue #3
Go to where you can spend the night but also blast off into space.
We arrived at my son's spaceship tent in the playroom.  We found bread sticks and ornament kits for us to make.

Clue #4
Go to where Dorothy lives (our fish).
When we arrived in my son's room we found a pizza and my son's Christmas tree homework.  We decorated a paper Christmas tree with buttons, feathers and gems.

Clue #5 
Go to the warmest place in the house.
In front of the fireplace we found a package of Oreos and the game, Sorry.

It took us about an hour and a half to finish our dinner.  We had so much fun laughing, eating and enjoying each others company.  There were no phones, TVs or computers interrupting our family time.  I have to say it was one of our best dinners yet.  The boys asked if we could do it again soon.  Might be something we have to start doing around every holiday.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Winter Mantel

 I have been collecting snowmen for years.  Usually I set them out after Thanksgiving and take them down with the Christmas decorations.  This year I decided to keep some of  them out longer and decorate my mantel.  I have enjoyed seeing my collection stay out longer then a month.
 I found these mice after Christmas on clearance.  Usually I find mice creepy but I guess when you put hats and scarves on them they look a lot more friendly.
 I got this winter subway art from another blogger last year.  Sorry I can't remember which one but I think it is super cute.
I also got these ice skating birds on clearance after Christmas.  I think they represent winter perfectly. 
I really enjoy decorating my mantel.  I'm already planning my Valentine's mantel and am just waiting for my husband to give me the go ahead to put it up.  He doesn't like me decorating for a holiday too far in advance.  He really helps keep me grounded because I would have decorations up months in advance.  :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Yo Gabba Gabba Banner

My youngest son is turning 3 in March.  After much discussion he has chosen a Yo Gabba Gabba theme.  I admit I am not a fan of character parties and tried to talk him out of it but he kept insisting.  Since it is his party I gave in and will do what he wants.  Now that I am working on the party I am having a lot of fun with it.
 I started by making this banner of the characters.  I got some of the ideas on-line and changed them up to make them my own.
 Closer to the party I will attach them to some ribbon and make them into a banner.  I made three sets for various places in my house.
Stay tuned in the next couple months for more Yo Gabba Gabba party ideas.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles

It is time for this month's Crazy Cooking Challenge.  The theme for this month is Chicken Noodle Soup.  I have never liked chicken noodle soup but figured I would give it a try and see if I liked homemade better then the canned version.  I am glad I did because no only was it fun to make, it was very good.  I found my recipe on Mama Loves Food!  I love how you can make the noodles in strips or use small cookie cutters to make it with fun shapes.

Chicken Soup Ingredients:
- 10 to 12 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups rough chopped celery
- 2 cups rough chopped carrots
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 3 1/2 cups corn (canned is fine)
- 4 large pinches dried parsley flakes
- shredded meat from one roasted chicken
- egg noodles (scroll down for recipe)
- salt & pepper to taste

 Chicken Soup Directions:
- Combine ingredients, except chicken and noodles, in a large stock pot.
- Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 2 -3 hours, until carrots are tender.
- Bring back to a boil and add chicken and egg noodles (recipe below). Cook for an additional 5 - 10 minutes.
- Reduce heat and serve!

Egg Noodle Ingredients:
- 2 cups flour
- 3 eggs
- 1 eggshell of milk
- dash of salt

Egg Noodle Directions:
- Put flour in a large bowl and make a well in the center.
- Add eggs, milk and salt to well and whisk together until dough forms.
- Roll dough out onto a floured surface, very thin and cut into shapes or noodles.
- Drop into soup, cook & enjoy!
The recipe made a lot of soup.  Our family of four was able to eat it for 3 meals and still had some left.  We all really enjoyed it and we will definitely make it again.