Friday, February 28, 2014

3 Origami Projects For Kids

I was looking through a few tutorials and I was reminded of some of the little things I used to make as a kid and I learned a couple more when I was planning an activity for my Activity Days (8-11 year old church group) girls.

Here are three tutorials for cute little origami projects for kids:

Beginner: Puppy 

Start with a square piece of paper. 
 Fold the paper diagonally in half
 Fold down two triangles for ears
 Fold up the bottom of the triangle for the snout and draw eyes and a nose. 



Intermediate: Balloon

Start with a square piece of paper
 Fold in half both ways (hot dog and hamburger) as well as on each diagonal. 
 With the page folded in half, fold the left and right corners down.

 Fold the tip of each triangle (4) to the top
 Fold each (4) corner in toward the middle. 

 Pull the top and place into pocket 

 Pull corners to loosen 
 Blow into hole at the end



Advanced: Flower

Start with a square piece of paper and fold it on the diagonal. These first steps are only to create creases to fold on later.
 Take the right and left corners and fold them up to the center point
 Fold the right and left corners in half  (see photo)

 Unfold until you get to the biggest triangle again
 Fold the left and right corners in (see picture)
 Unfold. While holding the middle place fingers inside corner and make a diamond out of the bottom fold. My thumb in the picture is on the fold from the bottom of the triangle. Repeat on other side.

 Fold down tops of diamonds along crease. 

 Fold diamonds in half along crease.
 Loop so diamonds touch and glue together. Make five petals and glue together. 



Have a great weekend!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies--gluten-free, dairy-free & egg-free!

My poor husband has been off gluten, dairy and eggs for six weeks as we try to pin down a mild mystery allergy. This means he doesn't get to enjoy things like bread or butter or ice cream. We've found a few alternatives--dairy-free butter flavoring for popcorn, and coconut milk ice cream (no bread yet, though--everything gluten-free seems to have eggs or dairy :\ ). But one bright spot?



These babies.

I came across this recipe on Pinterest the week my husband was starting his diet. The recipe was already gluten- and dairy-free, so all I had to do was find a replacement for that one pesky egg. The comments on the original post supplied a suggestion: a flax egg.

I had flax seeds and flax seed meal on hand from other baking experiments, and because I make a moisturizing hair gel from flax seeds in the winter. I searched out how to make a flax egg, but as usual, I did my own Wayward thing in the end.  

Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies!
Gluten free, dairy free & egg free

  • 1 Tbsp flax seed meal (you can grind flax seed in a clean coffee grinder, or we use Bob's Red Mill Organic)
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 1 c peanut butter (I've only tried this with commercial smooth peanut butter)
  • 1 c packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract (you can use twice as much, really, but if you're planning to eat the dough raw, the alcohol leaves a stronger flavor. You might omit it entirely.)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 c dairy-free chocolate chips*

1. Make the flax egg: pour flax seed meal into a small bowl. Add water. Stir until combined.
Now you have three options:
  • My flax seed meal package says to let it sit two minutes, but that's probably not going to give you an egg-like result
  • I found these instructions telling you to refrigerate the egg for 15 minutes. That didn't give me an egg-like result, and then I read that it could take up to an hour. (The dough was supposed to chill 2 more hours and we wanted cookies NOW.)
  • At this point, I fell back on my flax seed gel experience (and a comment on the above post) and made a new flax egg and microwaved it. I cooked it for 30 seconds, stirred well, and cooked for 30 more seconds. Stir it well to cool it off before adding to the recipe. (Room temperature or slightly warmer is okay.)
 Your goal is to make a gel with the flax seed meal about the consistency of egg whites. There will be little bits of flax seed in it, and they're about as noticeable as the bits of wheat in a graham cracker: not very.

2. Once your flax egg is ready, in a medium mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter, brown sugar, flax egg, and vanilla. The original recipe says to mix these until thoroughly combined, five minutes. I've made them three times and it hasn't taken nearly that long (and there's a caution to overmixing: the oils might separate out. Yuck.). If you're using a mixer and you're cooking for someone with an actual gluten allergy, please use caution. You never know if flour (gluten) from previous recipes could be in the mechanism and end up in your dough. I got a new hand mixer for Christmas, and it's been our dedicated gluten-free mixer.

3. Add baking soda and mix.

4. Add chocolate chips and mix until just combined.

5. The original recipe mandates that you must chill the cookies for two hours before shaping into balls and baking, or they will spread. I don't know if it's the flax egg or the altitude, but compare our test cookies:
Chilled (left) and unchilled (right) dough

If anything, they could use a little more spreading!

However, if you want to chill your dough and don't want to wait 2 hours, this is the recipe I tested the chilling dough fast trick on.

Using a silicone baking mat (or parchment paper) on a cookie sheet, bake at 350 F for 8-10 minutes, or until just barely set. Cool on the pan until set. Enjoy!


*We've used two kinds of chocolate chips for these. Ghirardelli Chocolate Semi-Sweet Baking Chips are processed on dairy-shared equipment (but given the mildness of my husband's allergy, and the fact that he works in manufacturing and knows what kind of procedures they must do to clean the equipment, he decided he was okay with that). The other was Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, which are free of gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, and half a dozen other things you shouldn't find in chocolate chips anyway. Store brand semi-sweet chips are sometimes dairy-free (or shared equipment) as well.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Snickerdoodle hot chocolate truffle balls

A couple months ago, we were at a restaurant that was giving out free snickerdoodle hot cocoa. I had to make this at home. Somehow, this transformed into making 200 hot chocolate truffle balls for the neighbors . . . without testing the recipe first.

200 truffle balls later, it has proven worthy.


Recipe (for <200!)
  • 1 half pint whipping cream
  • 1/2 Tbsp butter (optional, but it adds great flavor!)
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar (or to taste)
  • 12 oz (2 cups) milk chocolate chips*
  • optional: cinnamon sugar for rolling

1. Heat the whipping cream and optional butter in a saucepan over medium heat until butter melts and cream is just barely boiling. Add sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and optional cream of tartar and stir to dissolve and combine.

2. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips. Continue stirring until chocolate chips are melted. (It may look a tiiiny bit grainy; that's okay.)

3. Pour into baking dish or bowl. Cover and chill 2 hours or until firm. (You just made ganache! You can skip to the hot chocolate by adding warm milk until you reach your desired consistency. But come on. Let's go big.)

4. The original hot chocolate truffle balls recipe calls for scooping 2 tablespoons of the ganache mixture, shaping them into a ball by hand, and wrapping and chilling them. When I made these as gifts, I found a much easier method: a small cookie dough scoop and mini muffin wrappers. Scoop, plop, stick into gift bags. BAM.

5. Optionally, you may roll the truffles in cinnamon sugar. However, you'll want to do this immediately prior to serving, and the sugar does make them crunchy, so it's really best for looks on a truffle ball that will be made into hot chocolate momentarily.


Keep finished truffles covered in fridge or freezer until serving. Best yet, keep them under lock and key, because you will be sneaking one every chance you get. Or at least I will.

Yield: 20 small or 10 large truffle balls.

To make hot chocolate: heat 6-8 oz milk and drop in one small truffle. (You might add 1 additional tsp of sugar as well.) Stir until truffle ball melts.

*You can use whatever flavor of chocolate chips you like here. A number of the recipes I came across initially used white chocolate chips, but I wanted chocolate in my hot chocolate (shocker). In my gigantor batch, I used about 20% extra dark chocolate chips and the rest semi-sweet, but the next time I make this, I'm definitely opting for milk chocolate chips, which is what I recommend here.


These may or may not have been so good that more than one of the friends I shared them with commanded me never to do that again . . . because they ate a dozen. By themselves. Without making them into hot chocolate.

That's a pity.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Kid Valentines

We're visiting with family this weekend and here are some valentines we made for our nieces and nephews and one slipped in there for PB.




sources: here, here, here, here, here, here, and here
Feel free to use them.

Enjoy! If you're in this crazy weather stay safe and warm!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Two Valentine's Party Themes!

Jaime throws a mean party. She's hosted a couple Valentine's parties, both with awesome themes, decor, games and fun!

RED-themed Valentine's Party


Heart chandelier
Giant heart pompons
Vintage Valentine display
so so so much more!

Guess your couple
Battle of the sexes
Costume contest: who wore the most red?
Dancing ("Lady in Red" and more)


All things red!


Queen of Hearts Valentine's Party


Card garlands
Card themed paperware
Balloon chandeliers


Build a house of cards
Linked-arm challenges
Costume contest

What would your Valentine's party theme be?
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