Thursday, February 21, 2013

revisiting marshmallow puffs

And I did them the right way this time! Actually...I did them right the first time as well...the key is the baking time. 

These marshmallow puffs of yore are best enjoyed fresh out of the oven. I added chocolate chips and Valentine's sprinkles this time around and I think I need to try again with the chocolate. The chips kinda pool in the marshmallow goo and become oily and with all the sweet already in the mix I suppose we can survive without the added chocolate. 

A few notes:

*Make sure to grease your muffin pan to assist with puff removal as the marshmallow goo is pretty sticky. Thankfully water will make that sticky disappear so clean up is pretty easy.

*Forget aesthetics, these are messy to make, messy to bake, and definitely messy to eat so go with it. 

*To bake your puffs so that they appear right, once they reach the ten minute mark, check on them. If you can still see the marshmallow as a marshmallow (see photos from original post), they are not ready. There is a nifty turning point when the heat finally embraces the marshmallow and melts it thus coating the dough with a delicious layer of sugary goo. THAT is when you want to remove them. 

*Enjoy a puff or two with a cold glass of a favorite milk beverage and make sure to invite friends over. They are really enticing and it is extremely difficult to limit yourself to one or two so call over the gang and have fun! 

**this time around I only had a tube of the GRANDS styles biscuits, so I cut them in half, flattened 'em as best as could and then did the dippity dip and moldity mold. They were kinda ugly going in but oh so tasty once in my belly! 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

make a beaded garland

Here is another fun project using beads of all sorts. You can get all developmental and work on patternng with your child or you can hand them a tray full of fun and a shoelace and let them get to work while you answer emails, cook dinner, chat with a friend. Make sure your kiddo is old enough to know not to eat the beads before you begin! The DIY can be found at scrumdillydilly. Thank you! 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

make a fingerprint heart garland

with a little help from your favorite grown up! Catch the diy at scrumdillydilly! Kiddos can stamp their fingers, punch* and add glue. 

*paper punches can be difficult to push for youn children. I like to use the kind with a large "button" where your child can use their hole hand for pushing. Smaller punches that use just a finger button usually prove too difficult even for your older kiddos. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

bake loaded valentine's day cookies

I am a big fan of a chewy gooey cookie. This recipe is a modified version of my most popular cookie among family...the wonder cookie. My wonder cookies usually have two kinds of chocolate chips. For Valentine's Day I switched em out for M&Ms and Sixlets. I also added a hefty dose of pink and red sprinkles. Here's the recipe that you may use. Please note that this is an original recipe by me and should not be reposted without my permission. Feel free to pin it and share it but please do not repost to your own blog. Thank you! 

Loaded Valentine Wonder Cookies 
by jessica wilson

*2 cups flour
* tsp baking soda
*1/2 tsp salt
*1/2 cup white granualted sugar
*1/2 cup brown sugar
*2 tsp cinnamon
*1 large box vanilla instant pudding (6oz)
*2 eggs
*1/2 cup mostly melted butter*
*1/2 cup mini marshmallows
*1/2-3/4 cup candy covered chocolates
*parchment paper
In a small bowl combine your dry ingredients save for marshmallows and candies. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream your butter and sugars together using a hand mixer. You will want your butter to be mostly melted. By that I mean pop it into a microwave or set it in a pan on low heat and melt so that you have some liquid and some solid. If it melts all the way, don't panic, you can still use it but your cookie may spread more than you expected. Add eggs and blend.

Add your marshmallows and mix in with a wooden spoon then add half of the contents of your small bowl and mix until you get a sticky dough, add the remainder and mix until your dough forms. I like to use a wooden spoon for this part so that flour doesn't go flying every-which-way. Your kiddo will really enjoy mixing the dough.
Next add your candies and your sprinkles and mix away. Many of your candies will choose to linger in the bowl and not join in with the dough. Use your hands to mix those in and get ready to scoop. I used a medium sized cookie scoop which perfectly shapes these cookies to fit inside a pint bell jar or cupcake liner for gifting. I like to add a candy or two to the scoop first then scoop in the dough, pressing it down firmly to attract those loose candies inside before releasing it all onto the cookie sheet. You may also roll cookies into the size of a large walnut. 
If you wish to have your cookies have a little more oomph on top, pour extra sprinkles into a small bowl or dish and dip each ball of dough into the mix before placing on your parchment lined cookie sheet. As a child, any dipping into sugar or sprinkles was a favortie of mine. Your kiddos may love it as wekk. It is very important to use parchment paper, do not use wax paper! The marshmallows in the cookies will ooze all over the place and without the parchment they will sticky-stick-stick to your cookie sheet. In a pinch you can use tinfoil that has been generously greased. 
Bake at 350F for 8-12 minutes. I like mine to be slightly undercooked but a pretty browned butter in color. These cookies will be chewy either way but will burn like any other so keep an eye on them after 10 minutes. My oven is a bit hotter that what I have used in the past so about 9 minutes works for me. The cookies will come put puffy but will soon flatten out and look like a yummy chewy bit of happy. Let them cool, the marshmallow goo will be pretty hot. 
 When packaging for gifts, you can break off any extra marshmallow goo and sample it for quality control. The rounder your cookie dough the more uniform in size your cookies should be, which is why I love the scoop! Place six cookies into a pint jar and add a happy cupcake liner over the top to act as the lid (or place liner over lid) before adding the ring. Cookies go in easier than they come out but they will come out of the jar with a little encouragment. 
Or, stack two cookies and place them on a cupcake liner. They may be a bit large to fit IN the liner but will neatly flatten it with room to spare. Tie a short length of yarn, string, or ribbon around the cookies and liner and add a tag. 

Ta-da! Sweets for your sweeties! 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

more fun with pipecleaners and pony beads

Here is another fun thing you can make with pipe cleaners and pony beads. Everything from the bracelet post applies. All your kiddo needs to do is lace on more beads, almost to the top. Once they have laced up their last bead, give the bottom of the pipe cleaner a little crook to keep the beads semi-anchored and twist the whole thing around your finger to create a spiral. Crook the top to create a hook and hang! 

Monday, February 4, 2013

make beaded valentine bracelets

This easy peasy bracelet activity works your child's fine motor skills and amps up their math readiness when you add in sorting, patterns, and sequencing. All that is needed is pipe cleaners and pony beads. 

Pony beads can be found at your local craft store. If you shop near Valentine's Day you can find presorted packs in traditional Valentine's Day colors. 

Dump your beads onto a tray and hand your child an egg carton or muffin tin and see if they can sort their beads by color. Color sorting is a nifty tool to practice color recognition, size differences. By practicing sorting, children are developing new mathematical skills and is a precursor to abstract thought which indicates reading readiness. 

Once their beads are sorted, you can hand your child a pipe cleaner and let them add beads at will or you can sit back and discuss patterns with your child and have them arrange 8-10 beads in a pattern on the work surface in front of them before beading. Creating simple patterns that follow the ABAB rule set your child up for organizational thinking, also an important math skill.

Once your child adds their beads, loop into a circle and twist ends until they do not show and place on wrist. These easy bracelets make for super cute Valentine's. Add a tag and give away, super easy! 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

valentine diy: glowing cupid's arrows

 Happy February, friends! Today's valentine diy came about when I offered to help a friend make valentines for her kiddos to gift. Being youngsters, they are big fans of the ever happy glow stick so with that in mind I went to drawing board and here is what I came up with. 
Glow sticks are pretty delicate things. I originally had wanted to circle them into their bracelet shapes and stuff into pretty little bags. Alas, to shape is to bend and to bend is to break and so I had to go back to the drawing board. The glow sticks I was using were as straight as an arrow and so I thought...arrows! But how can I make them so that they have a little sturdy help? I sat and I sat and I thunk and I thunk and as I did so I held one lovely glow stick in my hands as inspiration. I thought thye were about the same size as a straw...a straw! I quickly got up and went into my pantry and pulled out a box of happily striped paper straws and an idea was formed! They fit! So grab yourself a pile of glow sticks and an equal pile of paper straws and get to crafting! 

*glow sticks
*paper straws
*felt or small felt sticky back hearts 
*white glue and glue stick
*red paper
*printer (optional) or pens
*hole punch
*wax paper to work on (it will keep your arrows from sticking to your work surface)

Grab a pile of paper straws and trim about a quarter of an inch of one end. You want the straws to be a smidge shorter than your glow sticks so that once nestled inside they can be easily pulled out.

I used pre-dandied felt hearts from Michaels, they were the perfect size, a bit larger than a quarter. If you cannot find pre-dandied hearts, use a pair of scissors and cut out your own from felt or pretty paper.  Flip hearts over so that their backs are facing up and draw a line of glue in the center. Place one end of a trimmed straw on top of the glue and allow to dry. You will want to pointy end of the heart to point AWAY from the straw. 

While glue is drying, create the tags that will fit your arrows. I printed mine out from the computer (there are oodles of fun free valentine fonts here and here) but you can write them out as well. I had a heck of a time thinking of something to write and so I hit up pinterest and found that there were oodles of glow stick valentines out there (even an arrow design)! Thank you, to the general pinterest public. Once I printed out my message, I trimmed around each one and used a glue stick to affix to scrapbook paper (Target has a fun Valentine's Day pack in their dollar section). Once the glue stick had dried, I punched a hole at each end with my hole punch. Your basic hole punch is the perfect diameter for the paper straws. 
Next up, assemble the glow sticks by carefully adding the connector tube at one end of each stick. Gently thread glow stick into straw, the connector will butt up against the end of the straw and will act as a handle for removal even after the feathered end is glued on.
 Cut our your feathered ends using red scrapbook or construction paper. I accordion folded my paper and cut into smaller pieces 2" by 3" and then trimmed into a proper arrow end shape. After folding each piece in half I added fringe by gently cutting into the sides with going all the way through. 

 Before gluing the ends of the arrows onto your straws, carefully thread your tags onto the straw. To glue ends on, place each end face down onto your wax paper. I use wax paper in case any glue drips out. Glue is easily removed from wax paper, not so esily remove from a tabletop. Add your glue and rest the end of your arrow on top making sure you are at the pointed end of the paper and that the glue is on the straw and not the plastic of the glow stick. The fold in the paper allows for a nice hugging stick. Allow to dry. If yer feeling extra whimsical, try using feathers for the ends instead of cut paper. 
 Once dry, twist labels as needed and carefully bundle up in a shoe box or other container. The lid of an egg carton works pretty nicely. Pass out to friends and have a Happy Valentine's Day!