KID FOOD: Veggie muffins

Once upon a time, I could get the Short Person to eat just about anything if I baked it into muffin form.  When the picky eating started last May even getting her to eat my muffins became a battle.

Then I found these:

They look awesome, right?

Underneath the chocolatey goodness is a cup of broccoli and about a half a cup of zucchini. 

I found the original recipe here.  I played around with it a bit and came up with this...

2 eggs
1/4 cup of oil
1/4 cup of applesauce
3/4 cup of sugar (brown or white, works both ways)
1 cup of grated broccoli
1/2 cup of grated zucchini
1/2 cup of white flour - all purpose
1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
3 TBL of cocoa
1 tsp of baking powder
1tsp of baking soda
1 TBL of milk

Pour into mini muffin pans.
Bake at 350
15-20 min

I will warn you that they smell like broccoli when they first come out of the oven.  Once they cool, it's not an issue.  The Short Person ate FOUR.


TUTORIAL: Lady Bug Counting activity

I saw this great craft to encourage counting over at Counting Coconuts.  I really like her blog.  It's easy to read and has a lot of great ideas for Montessori inspired projects.  In my next life I'll have the patience and resources necessary to be a stay-at-home Montessori mom, but for now I am trying to reinforce what the Short Person is learning at pre-school (a Reggio centered school, with Montessori and Waldorf influences) when we are together.  I really enjoy making things for her and she seems to like playing with them, so I guess it's win/win.

The adorable ladybugs over at Counting Coconuts appeared to be made out of construction paper, which I knew wouldn't last at the hands of the Short Person.  So I decided to try making my own using felt.  Click here for the pattern.

 First I made a pattern, then cut out all of the pieces.  

Then I used a black Sharpie to write in the numbers and the corresponding dots.

Next I sewed the white circles to the black ladybug body.

When I attached the red wings I sewed a semi-circle around the top, so that the wings could open.

When the wings are folded back, the corresponding number is revealed.

They were a huge hit with the Short Person.  While I was cutting everything out, I made a second set for a friend.  The whole project from start to finish (for two sets) took about 90 minutes.


Food Stuff: fancy rice

I am always looking for easy dishes that I can make on Sunday night and eat off of the rest of the week.  By the time we get home, the last thing I want to do is think about supper.  The Short Person wants all of my attention and after being away all day, I want to spend time with her.  How many meals have you cooked with a kid in one arm?

I saw a similar recipe in a magazine, dutifully cut it out, then promptly lost it.  So I decided to try to recreate it myself.  

The ingredients include:

1 box of Uncle Ben's Wild Rice
1 cup (or so) of dried cranberries
3/4 to a whole container of feta cheese
1/2 cup to 1 cup of chopped pecans

Cook the rice according to the directions (I love the way Uncle Ben's makes the house smell.)
Then simply combine and eat.

I think this might also be my new pot luck go-to meal.  Easy, fast and inexpensive.

It looks so pretty in the bowl.


Classroom Calendar and Free Printables

The Short Person goes to an awesome school.  Her teacher is great about sending home notes to inform parents about what they are studying each month.  It's a Reggio school, so there is a very organic approach to learning.

This month they are talking about weather, so I decided to make a weather board at home to reinforce what she is learning at school.

And then this happened:

It's a little bit more than a weather board.  As you have probably guessed, I don't have much of a social life these days.  But at least I'm using my time constructively, right?

I was inspired by the calendar made by Counting Coconuts.
I really enjoy her blog.  She is a stay-at-home Montessori mom and she posts a lot of great project that you can do at home.

I ordered the calender from Amazon, only to find the same thing at the Dollar Tree.  There are a lot of fabulous free days of the month printables online.  Counting Coconuts has them, as well as Confessions of a Homeschooler.  However, I've been blowing through print cartridges lately, so I decided to make my own.  They can be used throughout the year, rather than printing new themed numbers each month (not as cute, but more practical).  Want a copy?  Click here to download mine.

I made pockets for each day of the week and used craft sticks to note Yesterday/Today/Tomorrow.  The Short Person is almost two and a half, so the concept might still be too abstract. 

We have the MONTH, the DAY and the SEASON.  I made pockets to hold the cards.  There are also a ton of cute printables online.  I made these using clip art from Microsoft.  Click here and here to download a set.  (These are for personal use.  Please don't sell them.)

The weather board came from A Day in First Grade.  We will use a large painted paperclip to mark the weather.  I wish it had a "foggy" option, because it's very common on the mountain. 

 I decided that we would have an animal of the week, although I might make it animal of the month.  The Short Person got a great Toob of animals for Christmas and has been very interested in their names and where they live.  The orange pocket is to hold pictures and facts about the animals.

I bought about 20 old Ranger Rick magazines on ebay for $6.  They have been a great source of pictures and fun facts.

I made these little picture labels to represent different activities we do on a regular basis - pancakes on the weekend, watering our plant, library, movie time (we don't have a tv, so our weekend movie time is a HUGE deal in our house), playdates.  They hang on a hook.  When we need to use them, then will then hang on the thumbtack I used to pin each date into place.

So the trick now is going to be to get up every morning and ACTUALLY do everything on the board.  I'm notorious for getting something very organized, then failing to maintain it.  Regardless, I've had fun with the project.


TUTORIAL: Easy and Cheap Felt Board

I've been saying I was going to make a felt board for the new playroom for months now.  After the Short Person went down for her nap I finally put it all together.  It literally took less than 10 minutes.  It also cost less than $5.  Love it.

Here's what you need:

one piece of foam board (I got mine at the Dollar Tree)
a yard of felt (I chose black)
felt squares (mine were on sale 5/$1)

I began by laying the foam board on top of the felt.

Then I stapled all the way around, about every inch or so.  My regular stapler worked fine.  No need for a staple gun.

You can see all of the lint the felt kindly picked up off of our carpet.

I cut out a few basic pieces.  I would like to do some faces she can decorate, but that will have to wait for naptime on another day. 

 Not bad, right?


KID ACTIVITY: Baking Soda mini-volcanoes

The weekends on the mountain can be very long.  Now that the weather has turned colder (and wetter) I knew that I had to prepare more weekend activities if I was going to survive the winter with my sanity intact.

This might be my new favorite quick activity.  I saw it on Pinterest, but didn't pin it.  So hats off to whoever thought of this idea first.  It's a keeper.


ice tray
food coloring
eye dropper
baking soda

Pour vinegar into each compartment of the ice tray.

Add a drop of food coloring to each.

Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda on a plate.

The eye dropper (I think ours was actually made for medicine.  I bought it for $1 in the pharmacy section of our drug store) is a great way for pre-schoolers to practice their fine motor skills.

Drop a little (or a lot) onto the baking soda and watch it fizz.  The Short Person had a great time with this and played with it for almost an hour. After helping herself to the baking soda it was also on her hands.  I dropped a few drops of the vinegar on each hand and she loved it.  It was a great sensory experience.

This is one of her creations.  It looks like the surface of the moon to me.


Tomato Pie

For the summer performances of The Chat and Chew Supper Club I decided to take advantage of the wonderful local tomatoes and make tomato pie.  I'm preparing for a Mardi Gras party up on the mountain and thought this would be a great vegetarian option for those who can't eat my jambalaya.  I thought I'd share it with you all.  This recipe is adapted from Lucy Buffet's recipe for tomato pie.  You can find it in her fabulous cookbook.  I highly recommend it, especially if you like coastal cooking.  

Pull out your fat pants, because there is nothing low fat about this recipe. But it is worth every bite!

2 refridgerated pie crusts
4 tbls unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large unions, thinly sliced
2 tbls sugar
6-8 cloves of garlic, minced
8 oz cream cheese
1 cup of mayonnaise
4 tbls heavy cream
2 tbls sour cream
2 cups shredded parmesan cheese
6 green unions, cut into pieces
3 large red tomatoes, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
½ cup of fresh basil, cut into ribbons
4 cups of shredded Gruyere/Swiss cheese

1.)  Preheat oven to 450.
2.)  Bake pie crusts for 9 min. Remove and cool.
3.)  Reduce oven to 400
4.)  Sautee onions/butter/olive oil.  Add sugar and caramelize. Then add garlic.
5.)  Combine cream cheese, mayonnaise, heavy cream, sour cream, Parmesan cheese, and green unions.  Mix with hand mixer.
6.)  Layer onions, cream cheese mixture, sliced tomatoes, salt, pepper, basil, top with Gruyere/swiss.
7.)  Bake for 35 min.
8.)  Remove from oven and let cool for 15-20 minutes.

Want to see me in action?  Click below to watch my make tomato pie.