Monthly Archives: May 2013

Instant Raspberry Shortcake Dessert!

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This is a classic dessert at our house. I make it for company, I make it for us, and I even bring it camping! Yes, it is that easy.
You need those sponge cakes they sell at the grocery store, whipped cream and some fresh fruit. This is great with peaches, strawberries, or raspberries.
Start by washing the fruit well.

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Put the cake into your serving plate…

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Put a layer of whipped cream…

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Then a layer of fruit…

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Then another layer of whipped cream…

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And a piece of fruit for the top to make it look pretty..

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Then enjoy! The whole process takes about 30 seconds. Note that you can’t make these ahead of time, they do not store well, they have to be eaten right away. But, you can wash the fruit ahead of time. I bring the fruit to the table and make them right at the table.
Yummy!

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Brown Butter and Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I found this recipe when wasting time aimlessly pinning things on Pinterest…It caught my attention right away…try searching, “bacon” and you get everything from cookies to greeting cards to jewelry… why is bacon so trendy right now anyways?
Here is the link to the recipe I started with. I did, as usual, make a few changes to the original recipe.
Mouth from the south website
The recipe looks pretty straight forward, so I had to try making them, I mean, how could bacon and chocolate not be good?
You need the following ingredients:
1 3/4 cups of flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
14 (yes, 14!) tablespoons of butter (I measured this out, it is really 2/3 of a cup….I think 2/3 cup sounds better than 14 tablespoons!)
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup of chocolate chips
1 cup of bacon -cooked and chopped

Start by cooking a pack of bacon, I like to cut it up into pieces before frying it up. Then, hide half of the bacon in a container in the back of the fridge (I don’t know about your house, but in my house, if I want to save bacon for something, I make double what I need. But, you really only need a cup of bacon bits, which is about 1/2 a package.

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Next, turn on the oven to 375 degrees.
Mix the flour and baking soda together in a bowl.
Put the bowl aside and heat the butter until it turns a little brown.

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So far so good, eh? When you start a recipe with bacon then butter, its gotta be good!

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After you take the butter off the heat, add a couple more tablespoons of butter, and let it melt. I’m not sure why you do this…maybe to lower the temperature? Pour the butter into a bowl, and add the white sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and stir well.

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Add the eggs and mix for a couple minutes. Then, let it sit for a few minutes, and mix again. The idea here is to try to dissolve the sugar, so mix it well, let it sit, and repeat until you don’t feel the grains of sugar any more.

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Then, mix in the flour mixture, the chocolate chips, and the bacon…try a bit of bacon with a chocolate chip as you mix…yummy.

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This time, mix only as much as you need to combine the ingredients. Don’t over mix.
Spoon the batter onto a cookie sheet (I won’t tell if you have a taste now too…)

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I fit 12 cookies on a cookie sheet, but I made them pretty small…I like making smaller cookies because that way I can eat double…that makes sense, right?

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These are delicious! When you first take a bite, they taste like regular chocolate chip cookies, but when you start chewing, you get the taste and texture of the bacon. mmmmmm….the taste of bacon mixed with chocolate is amazing…I’m trying to think about what other chocolate recipes I could add bacon to…hmmm….

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I knew I was saving the sushi take out containers for something….

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Lemon sugar scrub

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This is the third recipe for the little spa gift package I made with the Brownies for Mother’s Day. This is a quick and easy recipe that I will use on a regular basis, especially after being outside and in the garden. There are different versions of this recipe online, but they are all basically a sugar mixed with an oil. I used coconut oil because I love coconut oil, and I have lot of it. When you use this scrub, the idea is you scrub your hands, elbows or feet with it for a couple minutes, then wash it off with soap and water. It really is a great exfoliant, and once again, I like the fact that I know everything that’s in it…
The ingredients are:
Sugar, coconut oil, lemon essential oil, and a couple drops of food colouring.

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The instructions are pretty simple…mix everything together. I used about 1/2 cup of sugar, 6 tablespoons of coconut oil, a few drops of food colouring, and and a few drops of the lemon essential oil.

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As you can see in the second photo, I used a simple plastic container, however, you could also us a glass container, a mason jar, reuse an old cream container, etc.
I also printed out labels using mailing labels, and a template on word. Here again, are all three of the spa items we made for Mother’s Day.

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Happy Victoria Day to my Canadian friends… No work or school tomorrow! Happy Birthday to Dylan too…my baby is ten years old today!

Samantha’s finished cake

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I have had several requests to see what Sam’s finished cake looks like after I reposted the zebra cake base a few days ago. I actually made and wrote about this cake last summer, but for some reason in the last month, it has become one of my most popular posts…
So, here is the original post for how we finished the zebra cake!

So… yesterday was Samantha’s birthday party, so we finished her cake. The theme of her party was build-an-animal (like build-a-bear) so she wanted a cake that matched the theme. This is the sketch of the cake that Sam drew originally…

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We made the base in a zebra skin pattern the day before….Check out my last post if you want details on how to make the zebra pattern…

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Then we made the animals out of fondant (we made the same stuffed animals we will be making at the party) to do this, we looked on the Internet for pictures of fondant animals, then made a quick sketch…

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Here are the animals…I will show you Samantha’s animals in a minute.

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Then Dylan and I rolled out a big flat piece of light blue fondant. To make clouds, we rolled little balls of white, the rolled them both together.

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We used waxed paper to lift the rolled clouds and cover the top part of the cake. I used some of the leftovers to cover a couple small cupcakes. (I made a separate batch of cupcakes for a couple of the kids coming to the party that are wheat free, gluten free, and dairy free because of allergies.)

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Then, for the rainbow, I rolled out a little of each colour into a snake, that was wider at the bottom..

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Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of it after I rolled it out, before I put it on the cake. You will see it on the finished cake.
Then, to cover the seams between the two layers, I thought it could use a bit of grass, I rolled out a strip of green fondant, and snipped a fringe with a pair of scissors…

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Then I rolled the ends so they were pointy like grass, and put the whole thing onto the cake…

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Then we added the animals and rainbow. Here is the finished cake!

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I almost forgot, here is the cake Samantha made for John’s birthday. She decided that she wanted to decorate a cake for John because It was actually his birthday the day of her party, today! Happy birthday john!

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Note, if I were to make animals like this again, I would plan to leave them to dry for a couple days before putting them on the cake…I took these pictures right when I finished making them, but by the next morning, because the were still wet, they had all slumped down a little bit…I had to use tooth picks to keep them upright.

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When life gives you Dandelions…make some jelly!

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Springtime in Canada is my absolute favourite time of year. There is nothing better than those first few sunny days of the season, where you can finally put on your sandals, and go outside with no coat! The other thing I love about springtime is the dandelions. I know, I know, they are supposed to be a weed, but they are my favourite flower…just not on my lawn of course.
Here is what the park around the corner from us looked like yesterday!

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Every year since the kids were about 2, for mother’s day, I take photos of the kids in a field of dandelions, and we make dandelion chains, and bouquets. This year, on instructables, I found a new idea…dandelion jelly! Dandelions are actually an edible plant, they have a strong, almost bitter taste. Many of the leaves are used in salads, and the flowers can be eaten too.
So back to the jelly… here is the link to the original recipe, although I did make a few changes. Instructables Recipe for Dandelion Jelly
I started the jelly by having the whole family help pick. We tried to pick the larger flowers, and we picked flowers from the center of the field.

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Warning…your hands will look like this, and they don’t wash off easily..

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We collected about 10 cups of flowers in total. This was enough to make two batches of jelly.

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Now for the tedious part.. you have to separate the yellow petals from the green leaves. The green part of the dandelion is the bitter part.
After a little bit of experimenting, I found the easiest way to get the petals only, is to break the flower open with your thumbs

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Then, pluck the petals out of the center. I have to warn you…this part was time consuming, and the kids got bored of helping pretty fast. But, I ended up getting about six cups of petals.

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The next step is to make a sort of a tea, by mixing the six cups of petals to about 8 cups of water in a saucepan, and letting it boil for about 15 minutes.

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Then, I strained the petals in a strainer with cheese cloth.

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Now for the jelly making part! Three cups of the boiled mixture plus 6 cups of sugar, and a pack of certo equals some deeelicious jelly!
Mix everything together in a large saucepan and stir. I also added a couple tablespoons of the actual flower petals, i thought they looked kind of pretty in the jelly.
Note, I had to let this boil for about 10 minutes before it would set. Normally, you only have to boil for about a minute or two.

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After boiling, I always let the jam/jelly sit on the stove and cool for a few minutes before pouring into the jars because if the jam or jelly thickens a little, all of the fruit, or petals won’t float right to the top.

Also, while I am giving away all of my canning secrets, I might as well share with you an ancient (OK, old) Italian secret my mother in law taught me about how to seal jars. I make at least 50-75 bottles of jam every summer, and i have never had a jar go bad, and I have jars in my cupboard that have been there for 3 years (mind you, I won’t eat them, but I just keep them to see how long they will store for) Anyways, as I was saying, to seal the jars, wash and rinse the jars, then with the lids off, put the jars and lids, into the oven at 300 degrees for at least 10 minutes. Take them out of the oven to fill them, then screw the lids on tightly, and put them back into the hot oven and leave them there overnight to cool. Trust me, this is way easier than boiling the jars!
Look at the finished jelly, I love the colour!

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It tastes pretty good too, the taste is similar to camomile… great with cream cheese and crackers! I feel like I should be making more…there’s gotta be trillions more flowers in our park!

Berry good lip gloss!

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This was recipe number two for the brownie group I worked with. We had a spa night this week where we made homemade spa ideas for Mother’s Day… I highly doubt all of the mom’s will actually see the lip gloss…the girls really seemed to like it.
There were five or six girls in each group. Each recipe makes enough lip gloss for about 5or 6 small containers.
You need the following ingredients:
2 tablespoons of beeswax (I grated my beeswax so it melted faster)
8 candy melt chocolates (the circles of coloured chocolate)
4 teaspoons of virgin coconut oil
4 teaspoons of liquid coconut oil (I just added this because I have tonnes of it…I accidentally ordered a gallon on-line….long story)
8 teaspoons of Vaseline
Several drops of berry candy flavouring

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Start by adding the beeswax and candy melts to a shallow saucepan first because they take the longest to melt. It is fine to use one of your everyday saucepans, as there is nothing harmful, in fact, the only ingredient you can’t eat is the Vaseline.
Next, dump everything into the pot except for the candy flavouring.

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The girls were not impressed with the way it looked at this stage.
But, keep the heat low, and it will look like this in a couple minutes.

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Don’t forget to add the candy flavouring…and take a big sniff, it smells berry good!
Then, pour it into a shallow, small container. I used salad dressing containers, but you could also reuse old cosmetic containers, even lipstick tubes. I put the containers in the fridge to harden a little.

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Finally, all that’s left to do is add a label. I used mailing labels, and I just cut them down a little.

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Recycled book banner!

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Here is how to make a simple, yet really cut banner out of an old book. In the library, I sometimes have to let books go. There is only so many staples and so much tape you can use one one book. So, no new or useful books have been harmed in order to make this craft!
You need some markers, string, a stapler, and an old book.

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I started by planning out what I wanted to say. For this banner, I was kind of ambitious in wanting to spell out “2013 kids choice book award winners” to showcase some of the new books we got in the library, picked by the students. I decided to put stars I between the words instead of spaces because I thought that might make it more legible.
Use the markers to draw each letter on each page. I left a little extra space on the top to fold over.

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Once all of the letters were coloured in, I folded over the top edge of each page. It was easy to make them even because I folded them between the second and third line of text.

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Then, I tucked the string in the fold and stapled each page twice.

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Repeat a few times, and you end up with a pretty nice looking banner!

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Oatmeal cinnamon milk bath

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As part of my volunteer role with the Girl Guides this year, I have been on the lookout for simple, easy, but original ideas for the girls. When we thought of having a spa night for the girls, I searched for a few recipes that would be inexpensive, and simple. So, here is the first recipe in our spa theme that the girls will be making as a gift for Mother’s Day. As usual, Dylan or Sam gets to test out many of my new lesson or recipe ideas….before I try it with a group of 20!

As you can see, I bought everything from Bulk Barn. I love that place!

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I modified the recipe in terms of quantities because I needed enough ingredients for 21 girls, but I also want each girl to measure and mix her own ingredients.
So I bought the following quantities (which is enough to make 24 baths!) 6 cups of powdered milk, 3 cups of baking soda, 1/2 cup of ground oatmeal, 6 tsp of cream of tartar, 12 tsp of corn starch, 6 tep of cinnamon.
But, if you were only making enough for one batch, you would need: 1/4 cup of powdered milk, 2 tbsp of baking soda, 2 tbsp of ground oatmeal, 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar, 1/4 tsp corn starch, 1/4 tsp cinnamon.
I started by tossing the oatmeal into the food processor, and grinding it a little finer. I also saved a few larger pieces to sprinkle on top.

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The instructions are really pretty simple, we tossed everything into a container, and shake it baby, shake it all you can, shake like a milkshake, and put it in a can… or just give it a quick stir, whatever works for you… Sam, as you may have guessed chose to shake vigorously…

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That’s it. The most challenging part is to package it up so it looks pretty. You could put it in a pretty bag with a drawstring, or a mason jar. For the girls, we will be storing them in plastic containers. I printed out labels for the containers, then we will put everything in a cellophane bag.
I will post the other two recipes, for Berry Good Lip Gloss, and Lemon Sugar Body Scrub.

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Happy early mom’s day! -I will try to post the next recipe and instructions tomorrow.

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Peanut Butter Cups – No bake -don’t have to dirty a single dish!!

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Ok – So here it is… Peanut butter cups that are made from four ingredients; chocolate chips, peanut butter, icing sugar and a bit of butter! Wait, it gets even better… I found a couple similar recipes on line, but I have adapted the recipe to be even better…not only does they taste amazing (trust me, they are gooood!) But I have modified it so that the only thing you have to wash after making these is the spatula I used to scrape the peanut butter out of the jar!
So, like I said, four ingredients needed: 1 cup of peanut butter, a couple tablespoons of butter, a half of a cup of icing sugar, and about a half of a cup of chocolate chips.

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I started by adding a couple handfuls of chocolate chips into a sandwich bag, and melting it in some hot water. I lined a muffin tin with cupcake liners.

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Then, I cut a corner off of the sandwich bag and Dylan helped me squeeze a little chocolate into each cupcake liner.

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Here’s a tip: If you tap or bang the cupcake tin, the chocolate will settle and spread out evenly across the bottom of the liners.
We stuck the chocolate in the freezer and while we were waiting, I used a cup to hold open another sandwich bag and filled it with the peanut butter, icing sugar and butter. I zipped it closed, and gave it to Dylan to mix up. (In case you haven’t figured it out yet, the sandwich bags are my brilliant idea to avoid dirtying any dishes…it’s also a whole lot more fun to mix stuff by squishing it!)

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So after we got tired of squishing the peanut butter, we took the cupcake pan out of the freezer, and cut a hole in the corner, and squeezed out a little peanut butter filling onto each liner. Once agaain, the trick here is to bang or tap the tin to settle the peanut butter.

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Then put it back in the freezer…

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Then I melted some more chocolate chips in another sandwich bag, and squeezed out som chocolate for the top.

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Now for the best part…toss out the sandwich bags, and eat!

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