Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Personalized Glitter Easter Eggs

Personalize your Easter eggs this year with a little glitter and glam!
 

Is your home filled with the smell of vinegar and hard-boiled eggs yet? Or better yet, the aroma of asparagus, blueberries and raspberries from natural dyes? In past years we have colored our Easter eggs naturally with fruit, vegetable and tea juices, but this year I decided to go for vibrant stain-my-fingers food coloring. It was successfully a much faster project as my 2 year old's attention span is not long enough to wait for the colors to process in natural dyes.


To make your perfect hard-boiled eggs:

1. Put your hard-boiled eggs in a saucepan and cover with about 2 inches of cold or lukewarm water.
2. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar and a dash of salt to help keep the eggs from cracking and make it easier to peel.
3. Bring the water to a boil. Once it starts boiling, cook for 1 minute.
4. After 1 minute of boiling, turn off the stove, cover, and let the eggs sit for about 12 minutes.
5. Using tongs, remove the eggs from the water and let them cool before peeling.


Now the fun part... let the decorating begin!


Life gets a little messy at times, and so have my eggs. Focus on Easter eggs here... those other eggs are happily incubating baby #2. Sometimes a little messy is a good thing. I had this beautiful vision for my Easter eggs. They were to have perfect separation of silver glitter paint, which was to only cover the top half and bottom half. Altogether aligned in the center is a horizontal stripe of color from the dye at about 1/2" high and a silver letter centered. I started out with painters tape around the egg to create color separation in the dying process. But my neat lines disappeared as the color bled through. That's where a little messy turns out unique, fun and with lots of character! I decided to roll with it and not make my glitter perfect on the top and bottom anymore. Instead, rolling just the top in a pool of paint turned out thicker (more glittery) and allowed the paint to drip down the sides for effect. The topping on the cake? A bit of floral d├ęcor and a personalized letter for each of our family members: "D" for me, "K" for Kristopher and "C" for Chase. Wouldn't this be an adorable idea at Easter brunch to make for guests instead of place cards?


What you need to decorate your Easter eggs:

1. Hard boiled eggs
2. Food coloring
3. Vinegar
4. Boiling water
5. Martha Stewart multi-use glitter paint
6. About 1/2" tall sticker letters
7. 1/2" painters tape
8. Small decorative flowers to glue on top
9. Food coloring
10. Hot glue gun
11. Old coffee mugs for dying
12. Empty egg cart



How to decorate your Easter eggs:

Dying eggs:
1. Bring about 4 cups of water to a boil.
2. In an old coffee mug, put 3/4 a cup of the boiling water and 1/2 tsp. vinegar to it. Add about 20 drops of food coloring and repeat this in each mug for each color.
3. Wrap painters tape around the egg horizontal. Push it down tight to seal (though it will not seal completely giving the egg a faded effect).
4. Place 1 egg in each of your dye mixtures. Let sit for 5-10 minutes depending how dark you want. Remove with tongs and place in an egg cart to dry. Once dry, remove tape.
5. Using a paper towel or plate, put a dribble of paint of glitter paint on it. Swirl the top of your egg around in the paint to cover about 1/4 - 1/2 your egg. Place in egg cart to dry.
6. Once dry add about 4 small flowers to the top using your hot glue gun, one at a time.
7. Add your lettering.


Do not be afraid of drips and imperfections- that is what makes the eggs beautiful!




Saturday, March 29, 2014

Cucumber & Sugar Snap Pea Salad With Dill & Mint Yogurt Dressing

A refreshing protein packed salad for a lovely spring barbeque! 


Spring has sprung and it just feels like a good time to make a refreshing side dish that pairs well with grilled food. I have been obsessing through Pinterest salads and came across a few Tzatziki sauce recipes. What is wonderful about this type of dressing/dip is that it is made with Greek yogurt so it is super high in protein. Low fat, high protein, vegetable packed... can it get any healthier then this?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Activity: Strengthen Toddler's Fine Motor Skills & Creativity


If your toddler has ever given you the "I'm over my toys" look, well join the party. Setting aside the trucks, trains, princesses and tea parties is easy when they are currently not serving their purpose. In our house it seems it is time to get creative on entertaining mini me without spending a pricey dollar.  And this weekend that means turning our old Take and Toss snack containers into a growing and learning tool. This easy-to-create learning activity is great for teaching your toddler color sorting, enhancing their fine motor skills and expanding creativity. I never realized Chase knew how to organize colors until he had them all lined up in a row and sectioned off before dropping them into their compartments. All it takes is a few snack containers, matching lids and brightly colored large buttons!


Using buttons of various shades provides challenge when sorting.


This simple design invites play and creativity! You will need:
  • about 4 Take and Toss plastic bowls with matching lids
  • colorful large buttons that match the colors of your bowls - the more buttons, the longer it will take them
  • razor blade knife for cutting a rectangular hole in the lid
 Steps:
  • Put containers together (lids and base matching) - preferably red, yellow, blue, green.
  • Cut out about a 1.5" x .5" slit on the lid - large enough for your button to drop through. 
  • Find your little one and let them play away.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Favorite Low Sugar Topping For Waffles: Maple Greek Yogurt


This is a great alternative for adding a bit of sweetness and flavor with very little sugar!

Waffles and pancakes and French toast... oh my! These are just a few of my favorite breakfast treats and boy do they soothe a sweet tooth with all that butter and maple syrup drizzled everywhere.

At our home, we like to give toppings a spin by using lower sugar options without compromising health and flavor. Options such as fresh fruit, cinnamon and sugar or Xylitol, peanut butter and fresh jam, and Greek yogurt mixed with maple syrup then topped with nuts.


For our recipe we used Van's Gluten free waffles and 0% or 2% FAGE Greek yogurt (in my opinion this brand yogurt tastes best). This takes about 5 minutes to whip up and enjoy!


If you prefer a lot of Greek yogurt topping just double it up! 2 tsp. mixed with 1 cup Greek yogurt.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Coconut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies: The Ultimate Moist Cookie

There have been so many wonderful changes going on during the past 3 months. We finished our remodel, moved and... have baby number 2 to welcome this August! Needless to say, that is why blog posts have been sparse lately. With morning sickness (lets just call it all day sickness) and extreme exhaustion, it was hard to find focus, time and energy for anything except making sure Chase was fed, happy and well (should I mention the mass amount of television he was forced to watch as I wasn't able to do much except  lay on the sofa). I am so grateful to finally feel my energy back and the sickness gone. Amen to you wonderful mamas out there who endure the full 9 months of all day sickness- you are rock-stars.

I have been asked about any pregnancy cravings and with my first it was red meat (which I don't eat) and this time its chocolate. Chocolate as in brownies and cookies, anything baked and moist that melts in your mouth. So I have been working on healthier versions for both. I will share my favorite brownie recipe later. It is officially perfected after having practiced the past three months making and eating entire pans in 2 days!


A friend recently introduced me to coconut butter. Have you ever had this amazing delightful "treat"? You can find it at your local health food store such as Whole Foods. It is different from coconut oil in that it is the raw flesh of the coconut and has a bit sweeter flavor and more solid texture. It is so good we eat it straight from the jar! Well, it is butter, so lets add it to baked goods for a healthier, sweeter, creamier, moister treat. Bonus health benefits in these cookies are they are gluten free and have Chia Seeds and Greek yogurt added. I usually start my baking off with some sort of gluten free flour mix. But you can use regular flour if you prefer. Since I already had Arrowhead Mills Gluten Free pancake and baking mix in the house, I used this kind and loved how these turned out. Gluten free products can tend to be drier but these were incredibly moist!

Had to share my photo-bombing husband and son fighting over the cookie plate in the background as I am trying to get shots of the butter.

Two twists to the flavor of ordinary chocolate chip cookies are adding cinnamon, cardamon and coconut butter. We devoured these in a day!

Ingredients:

2 cups gluten free flour or all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut oil, room temperature
1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt (yep- lets add some protein in here!)
1 cup organic sugar
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp cardamon
1/2 tsp cinnamon 
2 cups milk chocolate chips

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment or silicon mats. 
2. Whisk together flour, salt, cardamon, cinnamon and baking soda.
3. With a stand mixer, using the mixing bowl, beat coconut butter, Greek yogurt, and sugars on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add vanilla then eggs one at a time. Beat 1 minute.
4. Add dry ingredients and mix by hand with a spatula (to keep them chewy barely mix the dough to avoid over mixing). Fold in chocolate chips.
**(If you make ahead, put in the refrigerator a few hours to harden before scooping and baking. This allows the flavors to blend and absorb together. Or if in a rush, skip this and go to STEP 5 by scooping to a baking sheet then freezing for 1 hour before baking.)
5. Using 2 spoons spoon dough into slightly round tablespoons onto baking sheet. Leaving 2 inches in-between.
6. Cover with plastic and freeze for 1 hour before baking.
7. Remove from freezer. Bake cookies for a total of 8-10 minutes (depends on oven), rotating mid time (after 4 minutes).
8. Remove from oven and let cookies rest for 1 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Let the baking sheet cool before doing your next batch.


Serious moisture going on here! Enjoy!


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