Category: great for kids

Pink velvet hot cocoa for you & your Valentine.

Yep, it’s February. That means time for Valentine’s Day- get over it. It’s  freakin’ cute. Stop being so goddamn cynical and enjoy the loooooove.

Loooooove. Not love. Loooooove.

Pink velvet hot cocoa! Insanely easy and insanely pretty.

So yeah, you can hate on Valentine’s Day. But nobody can hate on hot cocoa. And this here just happens to be some PINK velvet hot cocoa. Thanks to A Beautiful Mess for the recipe idea!

Plus, how BEAUTIFUL does it look? Wouldn’t this be a perfect Valentine’s Day dessert beverage? I think so.

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This chocolate pudding will make you feel like a kid again.

I never really understood people who didn’t make their own pudding, and relied on the store-bought instant variety. It takes the same amount of time to make it from scratch. Seriously. And it’s EASY. Not only all that- but you get to know exactly what you’re eating.

In this chocolate pudding, there are 10 ingredients, most of which you probably have already. And you can pronounce them all.

Double chocolate pudding! Just like the kind you had as a kid, but homemade.

You love chocolate pudding, don’t you? Who doesn’t? What kid DOESN’T like chocolate pudding? It’s the great equalizer, like pizza. Everyone loves it. I know as a kid I was obsessed with homemade butterscotch pudding & chocolate pudding, equally. I was so excited when my mom made pudding, I hated waiting for it to chill. But NO SKIN- if there was skin on it, it was peeled off & thrown away promptly.

I still don’t like to have skin on my pudding.

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Dark chocolate hazelnut granola -with chocolate chips, ’cause it’s healthy. Right?

What have I become!?

I made GRANOLA. Not just granola, but granola with AGAVE NECTAR not sugar. WHAT? I know. I can’t believe it either. But it was delicious.

I had never used agave before this, but I had heard a lot of good things. I tasted it and because it was sweet but not sickeningly so, I thought it’d be a good syrup to use in granola. Healthier than sugar, but without the “honey” taste that honey provides. Sometimes you just don’t want to have that flavor profile. So I got my amber agave and went to work!

Dark chocolate chocolate chip granola with hazelnuts. Extremely easy, made with Agave nectar!

So Chrismas is over, and we’ve all indulged a lot since Thanksgiving. Not only that, but NYE is coming, and there’s certainly more indulgence & debauchery to come. Annnnnd with that said, I figured a little lighter fare was in order. Less sugar, more agave.

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DIY magic: mason jar snow globes.

Oh, December. How I love you. Make no mistake- Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday. Hands down. However, it’s only acceptable for me to play White Christmas over & over again in December. I don’t mind watching it in February or July, but I find other people take issue. Or perhaps they just take issue with me singing all of the songs (particularly this one & this one) out loud at the top of my lungs? Anyway. I wait until at least after turkey day to break out the Bing! Also, December is the Mount Everest of baking/creating: the best crafts, recipes, and decorations are happening  right around now!

Like these…

DIY mason jar snowglobes. Easiest winter project ever!

This tutorial is something you’ve probably seen all over the internet.

No, not probably. Definitely.  I’ve seen this concept more times in the past two weeks than I’ve seen my fiancee, it seems. I’m just repeating it here to show you how stupidly easy it is. And how fun it is. And chances are, you’ve already got the materials- or most of them- laying around the house. It’s a knockoff of a product that Anthropologie made (they made salt shaker ones too), hence the lack of water.

DIY mason jar snowglobes.

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Sprinkles! A “rainbowlicious” book review & giveaway!

Back in 2011, Quirk Books sent me a delicious cookbook (this one) to review & do a giveaway for. I loved the book & every recipe in it! The frosted maple pecan cookies are some of Jay’s favorite cookies ever. So when they asked me to do a review for a new book, Sprinkles! Recipes and Ideas for Rainbowlicious Desserts, I totally had to say yes!

And I had to ask if I could give one of YOU a copy as well!

Sprinkles! Recipes and Ideas for Rainbowlicious Desserts! Makes a great Christmas gift.

I love cookbooks. I love books in general, really- especially cookbooks, how-to books or DIY/craft books. I’m in the middle of redoing things around the ol’ homestead, so I don’t have easy access to them right now. Which is another reason why I jumped at the chance to get my hands on a new one.

But the main reason? It’s December! It’s time to start thinking about Christmas baking & Christmas presents. Cookbooks like this make not only amazing gifts, but provide some inspiration when we get a little stuck for holiday treats.

A review of: Sprinkles! Recipes and Ideas for Rainbowlicious Desserts.

Sprinkles! Recipes and Ideas for Rainbowlicious Desserts: Here’s a guide to baking and decorating delicious desserts with a colorful twist: sprinkles! Of course you can scatter them over cakes and pies–but you can also swirl them into waffles, “embroider” them on cookies, and freeze them in pretty popsicles. Jackie Alpers shares dozens of creative, colorful, super-fun recipes, plus quick-and-easy projects (ideal for little kids), holiday treats, party-perfect sprinkles crafts (great for gifting!). She also offers simple tutorials for tinting sparkling sugars, concocting homemade pop rocks, and even crafting your own sprinkles from scratch. Sprinkles! is an awesome rainbow explosion of a cookbook you won’t want to miss.”

The first thing that you need to know is that the photography in the book (& on the front & back covers) is beautiful. Beautiful colors & beautiful layouts. It’s enough to make a food blogger a little jealous.

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Haulin’ oats.

Use steel-cut oats to make an easy 'overnight oats' recipe flavored with maple pumpkin butter.

Bad pun. Sorry. For those of you born after the early 90′s, I was making a pun referring to Hall & Oates, a 1970′s/1980′s duo who’s songs “Maneater”, “Kiss On My List” & “Private Eyes” are insanely well-known. But yeah. It was a bad pun.

On the plus side? This is a great idea.

I first saw it on This Homemade Life & I thought it was genius. Problem is, I don’t like oatmeal. I like oatmeal cookies… but not oatmeal. But I still wanted to try it anyway. Jay loves oatmeal, my parents love oatmeal, the whole world loves oatmeal. I was starting to feel like a leper. Truth be told, I’m not a breakfast person. If I’m away on vacation, I can maybe get in the mood for a breakfast or two. Especially on the road at an awesome Mom & Pop style diner. Otherwise, nope. I mean, I love breakfast foods. I’ve been known to have a bowl of cereal or two, & I do enjoy a good breakfast-for-dinner now & then. But I don’t want oatmeal when I’m having it- I want a big ol’ stack of buttermilk pancakes or waffles with butter & maple syrup. And don’t forget: lots of crispy bacon.

So to avoid the stigma of being the only person alive who doesn’t like oatmeal, I thought I’d do my own, more seasonal spin on the “overnight oats” in a jar: maple pumpkin oats.

An easy way to make maple pumpkin overnight oats using maple pumpkin butter.

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Happy, happy, happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! Last minute ideas are right this way...

Ahh. Well, it’s the big day. Halloween! Hopefully you’ve got your costumes & treats all sorted by now. But just in case…

If you’re in need of some (pretty fast & easy) last minute ideas:

▪ Pumpkin muffins made from the cut out jack-o-lantern pieces ▪ Roasted pumpkin seeds ▪ Spiced brown sugar pumpkin seeds ▪ Halloween candy cupcakes ▪ Pumpkin cupcakes with whipped cream frosting ▪ Spiderweb cupcakes ▪

If you want something a bit more… dramatic, try these:

Dexter’s blood spatter cupcakes ▪ True Blood velvet cupcakes ▪ Black velvet cupcakes with hand-painted white chocolate sugar skulls ▪ Monster cake balls ▪ Chocolate stout cupcakes with white chocolate “bones” ▪

And before you go… here are my jack-o-lanterns for this year! Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas & a kitty, hanging out on the stairs.

My jack-o-lanterns this year!

Be good to all those little creeps that knock on your door tonight.

See you in November, my little monsters!

 

 

DIY: Creepy candy specimen jars!

DIY’d jars are all over the place. Well, jars are all over the place in & of themselves, however lately it seems people are gluing all kinds of crazy shit on top of jar lids & then painting them… with adorable results. I personally glued some knobs on jars last year & made some super cute candy jars. But some other things I’ve seen: little dinosaurs, bunnies, cats, etc. All of these little knick-knacks just glued onto the lids, then painted, then the lids are screwed back on to make a completely different looking candy jar/thread holder/toy container/etc.

So why not capitalize on it for Halloween?

Easy DIY Halloween specimen jars (or candy jars).

I decided there was no reason not to. So, ladies & gentlemen, here are my creepy little “candy specimen” jars for Halloween! You can fill them with candy, with plastic eyeballs, with rubber snakes, with whatever you want. Use them as part of your “laboratory” for a Halloween party.

Oh- & It’d be lame if I didn’t acknowledge that A Pretty Cool Life, It All Started With Paint & Joy the Baker inspired these.

Creepy DIY specimen jars for Halloween!

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Spooky ooky cookies.

Boo!

 

Have I mentioned lately that this is my favorite time of year? I have? Oh. Well in that case… should we just get right to the cookies?

Because I’d hate to bore you with tales of how much I adore Halloween. I’d just hate to keep talking about it… I mean, it’s probably obvious. I live for monsters & zombies & black cats & witches. I’m the kid who went to Salem, MA at 8 years old & was fascinated by not only Laurie Cabot’s witch store (where I bought my own wand) but also the fact that there was an actual dungeon. I always loved Halloween. When I was 14, I wanted to go as The Bride of Frankenstein. Problem was back then they didn’t have pre-made costumes for that… so my mom, my uncle Pat & my cousin Tommy all helped to hand-make me a costume. My cousin & his girlfriend rented the movie for us to watch, then we all planned it out- my mother made a dress out of torn old white sheets. She spray painted silk flowers black, & she tied a black ribbon on them for my bouquet. My uncle took a “Vampira” wig & hung it upside down then sprayed that Stiffen Stuff on it to make it stick up. My cousin then spray painted two silver lightning bolts for either side. BAM! Combine that with white face paint, black exaggerated eyebrows & drawn on neck stitches… I won best costume at the party. Take that, parents of kids with store bought costumes.

She’s still my favorite, the Bride.

Have I bored you yet?

Are you just dying to see these cookies?

Soft, dark chocolatey sugar cookies with melted monsters made of royal icing & candy eyes!

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The wicked witch of the cupcake.

Vintage postcard: flying witches.

Yeah. That’s right. Today we’re talking about witches. Because in case you’ve been living under a rock, it’s October, and that means one thing to me: Halloween.

Ohh, Halloween. My favorite time of year. The leaves changing (hopefully) & crunching beneath my boots, the air getting brisker, the wind kicking up. The costumes & makeup start appearing in stores earlier & earlier nowadays, but I reserve my Halloween excitement for the first week in October. I refuse to do ANYTHING Halloween-related before October 1st. Yes, it’s my favorite holiday & yes, I’m excited. But it’s like buying Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving; it’s just wrong to me. I’ll wait until October to celebrate Halloween… & I’ll wait until December 1st for Christmas, thanks.

That being said, I was super psyched to post this little cupcake topper how-to. I couldn’t wait any longer! I didn’t come up with this idea myself (unfortunately) but I did somewhat modify it from the original directions. I did that because I didn’t have matching mini cupcake liners & regular liners. I don’t do many mini cupcakes, so I never buy the liners. I adapted the directions to suit me & my materials, and with just a little bit more work put in I think they look just as cute. Ladies & germs, I give you…

Cupcake…

liner…

witches’

hats!

Easy DIY witch hat cupcake toppers made from cupcake liners!

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