This DIY Easter Surprise Eggs recipe is a new Easter favourite. In fact, I might be make them 123,045 times before this easter.
My little one LOVES surprise eggs. Like is seriously-obsessed-to-the-point-that-it-drives-me-crazy obsessed. But I can’t bear to have any more little plastic toys filling up our home, and she really shouldn’t be chowing down on full size big-kid eggs.
So I decided to try and make some at home.
So Natrel just released Lactose-Free Butter. LACTOSE-FREE BUTTER!
I stuffed my daughter in the car (buckled her up tight) and proceeded to buy 5 packages.
I also brought the ingredients for these shortbread cookies and a baguette.
First I ate few hunks of baguette spread with glorious butter. Then I whipped up these whipped shortbread cookies.
They are one of the first Christmas Cookies I made on my own as a little girl. And they’re still my favourite today. The recipe hails from The Harrowsmith Cookbook, and credit is given to Shirley Hill of Picton Ontario.
They are very delicious, very easy and always a huge hit.
The key to these is to really beat them between ingredients. Don’t stop when the ingredients are mixed, give them a minute or more to beat at each step.
Today I finished the cookies with chunks of Purdy’s dark chocolate and makde a few with a little candied cherry on tip.
I know I mentioned beating after every ingredient…I’m repeating myself so you take me seriously. THIS IS THE SECRET TO THE BEST WHIPPED SHORTBREAD EVER.
1/2 lb. Butter
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 cup flour
First, beat butter until light.
Then add the remaining ingredients one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Next, roll into small balls and flatten with a fork (or just drop them – that’s what I do).
Bake at 300
F for 30 min. Keep an eye on the cookies because they look the best when they come out before they brown.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
I’m so excited to be sharing recipes from fellow Canadian bloggers under the hashtag #CANRecipe. Food that will give you a flavour of the season – Christmas Classics straight from our kitchens.
From the top left the dishes are:
Nanaimo Truffles @ Dish’n’ the Kitchen
Dipped Oreos @ The Inspired Home
Mulled Wine @ Maple and Marigold
Bacon Fried Rice @ Allergy Girl Eats
Coles Pudding @ Off The Porch
Chocolate covered Whiskey-Soaked Figs @ Everday Allergen Free
Shortbread Cookies @ Mommydo
So I know Valentines Day is just a couple of days away, but I thought I’d list off a few things that have been making my heart beat a little faster.
I was lucky enough to win a Rice Krispies prize pack in the #treatsfortoys twitter party in December. I’m a big fan of the program where Rice Krispies donates money for toys for every toy shaped Rice Krispie Treat posted with #treatsfortoys. This year, the campaign raised $40,000.
I thought I’d say Thank You for the amazing prize (which included a whole bunch of Rice Krispies AND a Visa gift card) by making a video of the first thing we made with the delivery. The whole family enjoyed these and I loved making my first food video.
Heart Shaped Valentine Rice Krispie Treats
We prepared the recipe from the box. You can find it here:
1.Melt margarine in large saucepan over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat. OR Microwave on high for 45 sec.
2.Stir in KELLOGG’S* RICE KRISPIES* Vanilla Flavour cereal until well coated. Using lightly buttered spatula, press into buttered 3.5 L (13×9″) pan.
3.Allow mixture to cool.
4. Use cookie cutter to cut Rice Krispie treats into heart shapes. You can squish leftover treats into the cookie cutter to shape.
5. Melt candy wafers in the microwave. Time will differ between microwaves. Use 30 sec intervals until soft. Stir to melt the rest of the way.
6. Dip the tops in melted candy coating.
7. Sprinkle with Valentines Day sprinkles before the candy sets.
8. Hide some before everyone eats them on you because you’re going to want to keep some for yourself.
Except, when one of the kids on your list has a developmental disability or other special needs, what do you get?
It’s our 3rd Christmas with Allie, and each one has been a bit of a struggle. I don’t really know what she’d like. Certainly no one else knows what she’d like. Shopping for kids with exceptionalities isn’t easy. Every child comes with a unique set of likes and watch outs – many of which the parents have never articulated. The age guides on the box are no help. And tired special needs parents often don’t really know what to tell you.
This year, I set out to make sure that I found Alma something great. I also set out to help guide friends and family shopping for Alma or for other kids that aren’t typical, to gifts the kids will love and the parents will appreciate.
Here are my 5 tips, in no particular order:
1: While no one wants therapy for Christmas, ask if there’s something the child is working on and see if you can find a toy that makes learning or using that skill fun. Alma has just started taking some independent steps, so toys that get her up and moving would be a great motivator. This Skip Hop Explore More Push Owl looks like a fab choice. It seems sturdy, she’d love the owl and it looks like a smooth push so she won’t get discouraged as she’s building this skill.
2: Ask about “Watch Outs”. As an example, Allie is very “mouthie” so everything goes in. This means she’s really only safe with toys that are listed for children under 3 or have no small parts.
Giving us toys that she’ll grow into just means more to store – and stare at with disappointment that she’s not there yet. The perfect toy is one that she can use now, but can also grow with her – even if toys with small parts are never safe for her.
Alma loves animals. She makes the little sounds…she waves them around. So this toy, the Melissa and Doug Animal Rescue would be a great choice.
She can play with the little animals and make vroom-vroom sounds with the car now, and eventually use it as a shape sorter.
She would also enjoy this Janod wood hedgehog. Though the numbers are still a little beyond her grasp, she would love the bright colours and having pieces to bang together.
Other toys in this category would include blocks, a baby doll with no small accessories but outfits to change or other toys that will eventually lead to imaginative play.
3. Find out what the child likes, then figure out how to deliver in a way he or she can enjoy it. Alma’s absolute favourites are pulling things in and out of other things, listening to music and helping with chores. I had to sit down and think pretty hard about that. Not because these things aren’t abundantly clear, but because I always find myself saying “Well she likes X but…” so I inadvertently steer them away from things she’d love instead of towards them. Let the parents know you’ve heard what the child enjoys and you’ll find a way to give them something they’ll love (now) and will safely enjoy. When I allowed myself the same leeway, I found lots of things to add to Allie’s list.
Like this awesome Melissa and Doug Pretty Purse Fill and Spill. She would get hours of entertainment from it. We could take it to appointments to give her something to do and it’s cute to boot.
Then there’s the Melissa and Doug Let’s Play House kit. Not only does it have things that she can take in and out, but it will also give her realistic tools for when she’s mimicking chores.
She already has a number of musical toys so I couldn’t find one to add to her list, but she sure would appreciate someone else doing the legwork and finding something new.
4. Try and come up with something that would engage a sibling too. Allie and her brother are 3 years apart, but the gap keeps widening. I love it when she has a toy or an activity that works well for her, but her brother can enjoy too. Once they get going, they have a lot of fun together, but it’s hard to find toys that keep them both busy safely. And let’s face it, speech, gross motor skills, fine motor skills and social skills all develop faster when you’re modelling someone else. And lucky for kids with siblings, they have the best role model right in their own home.
I came across these Tegu Magnetic Wooden Block Sets and was instantly intrigued. These blocks appear to be safe size-wise and would definitely capture both their attentions. Plus, it’s another toy we can take on the go. Bonus!
This KidKraft Mega Ramp Racing Set would also score high marks with both of them. It looks stable, which is idea for little miss – her balance isn’t great so toys with a larger base give her more confidence to explore. And there’s a racing ramp, which can help satisfy her brother’s competitive nature. Is this a toy I would choose for him? No, he’s likely mostly outgrown it. But if it’s there, and she’s playing with it, I also know he wouldn’t be able to resist joining in the fun.
5. Ask what else they need. This seems like a no-brainer, but I never seem to take stock of all the little things that would make a big difference for me, and benefit Allie in the process.
Like hair clips… because she throws them out of the stroller when we’re walking along. Something like this would be amazing.
She also needs leggings. Since she’s still mostly knee walking, her tights, leggings and pants sometimes only survive 3 wears before she’s snagged holes in the knees. Love the geometric pattern on these Babylegs.
Then there’s the lunch bag that I’ve been meaning to get for a month. And if you think this is a ho-hum gift to give, you haven’t seen this soon-to-be-released Skip Hop Zoo Lunchies unicorn.
She also could use some new cream, and this Matter Company Substance Baby creme is my favourite baby cream but it’s kind of fancy so I rarely splurge.
When I sat down to really think about what Alma could use for her own good, but still be safe, that she’d really love and that maybe her brother would love too, I realized there are lots of great gifts out there if I ask the right questions and have a good think. This means there are lots of great gift ideas for any child on your list who’s needs aren’t necessarily met by reading the ages on the box.
And, when you give one, don’t watch the child, watch the parent. Because you, taking the time to ask questions, to understand their exceptional child better and find a gift the kid will love, is the greatest gift you can give them.
All the gifts featured here are available at well.ca and, with the handy Wishlist feature, I was able to compile an easy way for friends and family to find exactly what I think she’ll like or give them the inspiration they need to find something new.
Have a few things hanging around after your holiday baking? Chocolate wafers? Maybe a few sprinkles? Some Skor bits, mini chocolate toppings? Nuts?
No need to let them go to waste! These dipped Mommydo Holiday Hang Over Pretzel Sticks are a fabulous way to use up some of the odds and ends left over from the holiday baking frenzy.
They take practically no time. And, your friends and co-workers have had just about enough of their New Years resolutions at this point and will be only too happy to take a few off your hands.
Mommydo’s Holiday Hang Overs Dipped Pretzels
Chocolate melting wafers, chocolate chips or baking chocolate
White chocolate candy coating or bakers chocolate
Whatever little bits you have hanging around that you can use for toppings.
Prepare a baking sheet or two with parchment paper.
Melt chocolate in the micro at 30sec intervals, stirring between until all the chocolate is melted.
Dip 3/4 of the stick into the chocolate and slowly spin the stick to allow as much chocolate as possible to adhere to the stick.
Place the stick on the parchment.
If you are adding a second kind of chocolate, now’s the time to melt that.
To drizzle the chocolate, use a fork. Gently swing the fork back and forth over the area you want to cover.
I did 2 or three sticks then topped them with extra chocolate and toppings. Then dipped two or three more and topped those.
Be sure to place them about an inch or more apart on the parchment as the chocolate will spread.
You might want to put then into the fridge to allow them to harden.
You can do nuts, but as I was feeding these to the boy, I kept them nut free.
Store in an airtight container to keep the pretzels fresh.
I’ve got my binder open, and this recipe comes from a photocopy of a page from Chatelaine Magazine circa 1998. 15 years later, this is still my go-to sugar cookie recipe. As I said yesterday, I don’t have a photo yet, as we’re going to bake these over the weekend. But I find I like it when the dough chills for a good long while (overnight if possible), so I thought I’d post now so you too can get the batter together tomorrow and have a good old-fashioned cookie bake with the kids this weekend now that school is out.
You can find this recipe here on the Chatelaine site.
Classic Sugar Cookies
I realize I totally left you hanging but I had good reason. My father-in-law has been ill, which meant husband was out of town for a few days. And I had a First Birthday Party to execute. Husband did return in time for the party. Thankfully, I had premade the dough for this delightful gingerbread recipe. So I was able to quickly make a batch for kids to decorate at the party. It is a ‘fancy’ gingerbread recipe – in that there are a number of ingredients. But it also a delicious, and I mean REALLY delicious one, so it’s worth the trouble to track everything down. Credit goes to Canadian Living magazine – (circa 1999). I found a link to the recipe, but it’s for their house, so the baking is slightly different that the one I have.
In large bowl and using electric mixer, beat shortening with sugar until light; beat in eggs and fancy and blackstrap molasses.
Stir together flour, ginger, baking soda, salt, cloves and cinnamon; using wooden spoon, gradually stir into molasses mixture. Mix well, working with hands if necessary.
Divide dough into four discs; wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until firm, or for up to 1 week.
Roll out one disc a time to 1/4 inch thickness.
Cut with cutters and transfer to cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 min (depending on the size of the cookies you’re making. If you use tiny cutters, thee cookies will be done sooner.
If you’re using candies that need to bake into the cookie to be secure – little silver balls for eyes for instance. If you’re using frosting, make sure the cookies are cool.
Of course, you can get a merry bunch of elves to decorate your cookies at your babies 1st Birthday Party like I did. I’ll post more about the party later, but for now, here’s a sneak peek of the cookie decorating station at the party.
There are only 2 treats to go!
Christmas is nearly here! Tomorrow’s treat is just going to be the recipe. I’ll post pics on the weekend. We’re gonna make sugar cookies and you need to refrigerate the dough at least overnight. I want to bake these with the boy on the weekend but I want you to have the recipe so you can do the same!
These things need a shorter name. They’re quick to make and don’t hang around long at all. The length of their name is kind of misleading. Though, it does spell out pretty clearly what these guys are. They could also simply call them ‘delicious squares’ and have the same end result.
They remind me of my friend Marilyn’s mom, who used to bake these and keep them in the downstairs freezer… the perfect spot for sneaking from.
1 Cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 Cup butter
2 (6 oz) packages butterscotch chips
1 large package miniature coloured marshmallows
Put the peanut butter, butter and butterscotch chips in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook over low heat until melted and well combined.
Add marshmallows and press into buttered 8-inch square pan.Store in refrigerator.
Chocolate. Peanut butter. These are my favourite brownies in the world. They don’t have any candy bars in them, but taste very much like a frosted candy bar filling. I had other photos, but this one pretty much sums up my feeling on these.
Recipe – I’d love to give credit for these, but my recipe photocopy has been hanging around since about 1999 and has no indication of where it’s from.
1 1/4 Cups finely crushed graham crackers (about 18 crackers)
1/4 Cup sugar
1/4 Cup finely chopped dry-roasted peanuts
1/2 Cup butter (no substitutes) melted
1/4 Cup butter or margarine
2 Oz unsweetened chocolate (cut up)
1 Cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 Cup all-purpose flour
1/2 Cup chopped peanuts
Peanut Butter Frosting
1/4 Cup butter
2 Tbsp peanut butter
2 Cups sifted powdered sugar
1 Tbsp milk
1/2 Tsp Vanilla
Combine graham crackers, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 finely chopped peanuts in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in the 1/2 Cup melted butter. Press mixture evenly into the bottom of an ungreased 11x7x1 and 1/2 inch baking pan. Bake in 350 degree oven for 5 minutes. Cool.
Melt the 1/2 Cup butter or margarine and the chocolate in a heavy large saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally remove from heat; stir in the 1 Cup sugar, eggs and vanilla. Stir until just combined. Stir in flour and the 1.2 cup chopped peanuts. Spread evenly over crust.
Bake: 20 minutes more. cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Spread with Peanut butter frosting. Cut brownie into small squares. (Or cut into 24 larger bars). Place a few honey roasted peanuts on each square. IF desired, pace each brownie in a small candy cup. Makes 50 to 70 small squares.
Peanut butter Frosting:
Beat 1/4 Cup butter and 2 tbsp peanut butter in a bowl with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 sec. Gradually add 1 Cup sifted powdered sugar, beating well. Beat in 1 Tbsp milk and 1/2 Tsp vanilla. Gradually beat in 1 Cup additional sifted powdered sugar and enough milt to make a frosting of spreading consistency. Carefully spread over the brownies. Refrigerate before cutting.