Colored Pasta Play

One of the activities Lauren and I did last week during our “Green” unit was make and play with colored pasta.  It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while and we had so much fun that I wish I’d done it sooner.  Because last week was all about green that’s the only color we made, but the process is so easy and the results are so fun that we’ll be making different colors soon.

Colored Pasta

1 cup dried pasta

2 Tablespoons rubbing alcohol

food coloring

Ziplock bag

foil lined baking sheet

Measure rubbing alcohol into baggie.  Add several drops of food coloring and mix with alcohol.  Add dried pasta, seal bag, and coat pasta in colored mixture.

Drain and discard excess liquid.  Place pasta on a foil lined baking sheet.  Dry at least one hour. (*I made 1 cup penne and 2 cups ditalini.)

I very carefully let Lauren “help” me measure the alcohol and drop in the food coloring.  She LOVED this part, and I’m really happy I let her help me make the pasta rather than just making it for her to play with.  It was actually perfect.  We made it in the morning, went to a playdate, and then we played with it the same day for our after-nap activity.

Lauren loved using some old measuring cups and spoons to scoop and pour the pasta.  The second day she played with the pasta I gave her some green pipe cleaners and she loved threading both types of pasta on it.  (Sorry I didn’t get a picture.) Colored pasta is a great sensory and fine motor activity, and we’ll be playing with lots more in the future.

Here are a couple of other pictures from our Green Unit:

Playing with homemade green playdough (<—click for my recipe).  Lauren pushed two wholes into the shamrock pictured above and said, “Eyes.” I was very proud of her creativity.  Then she put both her hands in the air and said, “Monsaaa!” (monster) Andy and I cracked up! She is so much fun!

This is a super easy and quick flannel board that I whipped up during nap time one afternoon.  We used it with some of the songs and activities from Oopsey Daisy‘s “G is for Green Unit.” (Have you check out this awesome blog yet?!)  Lauren also loved looking at all of my St. Patrick’s Day books.  She was still a bit too young to listen to a whole story, but she loves my mommy-abridged versions and is very curious about leprechauns.  Next year is going to be even more fun!

Lastly, we couldn’t let a holiday go by without making some of our family’s “painted cookies.” Lauren’s really getting into standing on a chair and helping me bake! It’s a dream come true! Lauren gave the cookies out to her playgroup at our weekly Friday playdate.  The back of the tags said, “You Sham-ROCK! xo Lauren.”

Hope you had a super St. Patrick’s Day weekend! Lauren and I are already looking forward to the next holiday, Easter! We’re starting a new Easter Unit and among other things we’ll be doing activities from another great Oopsey Daisy Mommy-School Packet, “E is for Easter.” If you have a little one join in our fun by following Oopsey Daisy and downloading your own copy of the packet.

 

 

Cookie of the Week: Leprechaun Hats

Aren’t these Leprechaun Hat Cookies just adorable? I think so! (They kind of remind me of my Pilgrim Hat cookies from Thanksgiving. Same basic idea…)

Originally, I planned to make these for our March MOMS Club social, but weekend time is family time and this weekend there just wasn’t time for anything else.  I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t end up making them, but like Andy says, I need to give myself a break sometimes. It was nice to spend the whole day with Lauren and Andy yesterday.

I still wanted to share the super easy how-to on these cookies in case you’re looking for a treat to make this week.

Leprechaun Hat Cookies

(recipe and photo from BettyCrocker.com)

1 recipe of your favorite sugar cookie dough (I was going to use my Ruby’s Sugar Cookie recipe. You could also you Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix)

1 (16 ounce) can vanilla frosting

green food coloring

24 large marshmallows

24 Tootsie Rolls

12 small green gumdrops or other accent candy or sprinkle for decoration

Bake 24 cookies according to recipe (or package) instructions.  Remove cookies from oven and immediately place marshmallow, standing up, on the center of each cookie. Move cookies to cooling rack and cool for at least 15 minutes.

In a microwavable bowl, heat frosting on high for 30 seconds.  Stir, frosting should be a thick spoonable glaze.  Stir in food coloring.  Spoon warm frosting over each cookie, coating completely and allowing excess to drip off. Let stand 20 minutes to dry and set.

Roll Tootsie Rolls into ropes.  Flatten with rolling pin.  Cut into strips to resemble hat bands.  Arrange around the base of marshmallow on cookie.  Decorate hat bands with gumdrop or similar candy.

This is one of those treats that would be super easy to make and it would look super cute.  I’m not so sure how  it would taste though?? Something about the combination of sugar cookies, marshmallows, and frosting almost seems like too much to me! I’m sure kids would love them though!

Happy Monday everyone!

 

 

 

{Top 10} St. Patrick’s Day Treats

Can you believe it St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner?!? Well, it’s your LUCKY day! Here’s my round-up of the best St. Patrick’s Day treats around.

As LUCK would have it, St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Saturday this year.  Since no one will be rushing off to school or work why not cook up a special St. Patrick’s Day breakfast?  How about some Rainbow Waffles from Angel Street Mom?  I can’t wait to Lauren’s old enough to really enjoy these.

For more grown-up pallets, here’s a Shamrock Quiche from diamonds for dessert.

YUM! I LOVE spinach!

Now, there’s no need to hunt down that leprechan.  You’ll fill like you found a whole pot of gold with these tasty, sweet treats!

First up, Rainbow Pudding from Craftzine.com.

Lauren LOVES pudding. Heck, we all do, so I may just have to make some of these for us to enjoy!

Next, a fun twist on a classic-Green Velvet Cupcake by Love From the Oven.

I don’t ever remember hearing about this next treat before I moved to the northeast, but I know people around here are just crazy about McDonald’s Shamrock Shake.  You can save yourself a trip to the drive-thru and make your own at home with this recipe from babble.

Chocolate and mint are a classic pair, but forget about Thin Mints and give these home-baked Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies a try. Recipe from Flickr.

I LOVE chocolate covered pretzels, so these next two have my mouth watering.

These M&M and Pretzel Treats are popping up everywhere.  I’ve tried them.  They are delicious and so addicting.  It’s just too easy to pop them in your mouth…before you know it you’ve eaten them all!  The cuties below are from My Little Gems.

Feel like getting really creative with your pretzels?  Then these Shamrock Pretzels from Sun Scholars are for you. How clever!

Need a treat to make and share?  I love the idea and packaging for these Rainbow Twizzlers from it is what it is.

And I’ve save my absolute favorite for last:

I think I first saw this idea on HWTM.  I love the playful simplicity of Lucky Charms served with green milk.  I’ve seen this idea presented in various ways, but I love this beautiful photo is from Thoughtfully Simple best of all.

And of course, don’t forget about this week’s Cookie of the Week, Irish Coffee Blondies!  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Cookie of the Week {& Student of Martha: March}: Irish Coffee Blondies

As soon as I saw this recipe in the March issue of Living I knew I had to try it, and since Martha herself considers blondies (and other bars) cookies, I though it would be perfect to share as a Cookie of the Week.  I LOVE sweets! I truly think I’m addicted to sugar, and let me tell you these ARE SWEET with a lovely, mild coffee favor.  Delicious!

Irish Coffee Blondies

from Martha Stewart Living March 2012

for blondies:

2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon. baking soda
2 cups light brown sugar, packed
3 Tablespoons freshly ground coffee*
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup sliced almonds, skin on

for glaze:

1 Tablespoon butter, melted
2 Tablespoons Irish whiskey**
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar

Make the blondies: Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, and line with parchment so it overhangs all sides. Butter parchment.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, coffee, and salt.  Stir in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture until just combined.

Pour batter into pan and sprinkle with almonds. Bake 27 to 30 minutes, depending on how chewy you like your blondies (a shorter baking time will result in a chewier blondie.) Cool completely.

Make the glaze: Whisky together butter and whiskey.  Gradually whisk in sugar until glaze is thick and pourable. Using a spoon or a pastry bag drizzle glaze over the blondies.  Let glaze dry 1 hour.  Cut into bars.

*I substituted 3 Tablespoons (1 shot) decaffeinated espresso for the ground coffee.  I was very worried about ending up with a gritty coffee ground texture.  I baked my blondies for 30 minutes and because of the extra liquid they were very moist.  I probably could have cooked them a few minutes longer, and at first I was pretty sad because I though I had ruined them.  Once they cooled completely they were still very moist, but in a good way. I think strong coffee or even instant espresso powder could be substituted for the ground coffee.

**I substituted Bailey’s Irish Cream for whisky in the glaze.  It was DELICIOUS! For a few I completely omitted alcohol and substituted whole milk.  That worked well too, especially for kids,  mommies or anyone else who might not want to consume alcohol.

I think these blondies would make a great snack or dessert for St. Patrick’s Day.  They’re great along coffee, Irish or regular, or they’d also be great served with this delicious looking Irish Cream Martini from Oh How Posh.

Click the link above for the recipe.  It sounds so easy and delish! I really never drink, but I LOVE coffee, so I might just have to try one myself.

 

Happy March!

I LOVE decorating our house for Christmas, but I’ve realized that I rarely decorate for any other holiday.  To be honest, we don’t like a lot of any clutter, and we’re kind of picky selective about what we put in our house.  Still, I’d like to try to decorate a little for holidays, especially now that we have Lauren.  I want to make things fun and festive for her, but I don’t want cheesy or cheap holiday items to take over our house.  I’ve fallen way behind on my “Wreath of the Month” project (but that’s a whole other post), but I’ve pinned a few ideas I might just try. Read on and follow the links if you’d like to try them too.

I love this adorable heart-shamrock garland from The Crafting Chicks.  It was be super easy and inexpensive to make, and I think it would look great on my mantle (if I could keep Lauren from pulling it down).  Click here full the full photo tutorial.

I’m also a HUGE fan of pennant banners, and I love when someone else does the design work for me. The talented Kim Stoegbauer, of the TomKat Studio, created this adorable printable for HGTV.  Just print, cut, string together and hang! It doesn’t get much easier than that! Click here to download the banner and see the complete instructions.

Continuing with more great printables, Amanda from Every Creative Endeavors is sharing this darling sign.  Doesn’t it look great in a simple frame? Best of all she has FOUR color schemes  you can choose from! Click on over to her site and take your pick.

Next up from it works for Bobbi is this “Lucky” to Have You 5×7 subway print.   Please click to join her site before downloading here.

Are you a fan of the “KEEP CALM…” trend that seems to be everywhere these days?  I am and I have a hard time keeping myself calm when I come across all the adorable variations out there! Chelsea of two twenty one has created not one but FOUR great 8×10 prints for you to choose from. Click here to check them all out and choose your favorite.

I just love that there are so many talented people out there who share their creativity with the world.  I hope my round up of ideas has inspired you to go green this month.