Porcupine Meatballs

Me: “Whitaker, we need to look for 3 porcupines for dinner tonight!” 

W: (His Face) “Wait, What?”

Me: “We are having Porcupine Meatballs for dinner.  I need to find 3 porcupines on our walk to use for dinner.”

W: (His Face, Again!) “Mom, I don’t think that’s a very good idea.”

Ok, you don’t use real PORCUPINES but these fun meatballs studded with rice will remind you of little porcupine quills.  Our weather in Atlanta has been a bit rainy and gloomy.  These little meatballs add a little fun to dinner.  

At dinner, it gave us a great time discussing the creativity of God.  I mean look at a porcupine.  How cool!

Keep Singing and Dancing,
Amanda

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Porcupine Meatballs

1 1/2 lb. ground beef

3/4 c. uncooked long grain white rice

1/2 c. whole milk

1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped

2 T finely chopped parsley, plus more for garnish 

2 t Worcestershire sauce, divided 

1/2 t garlic powder 

⅛ t cayenne pepper 

Kosher salt 

2 T extra-virgin olive oil 

1 (28-oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, pureed 

Freshly ground black pepper

Grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, rice, milk, onion, parsley, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt. Shape beef mixture into 1 ½” meatballs.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add meatballs in a single layer and cook until golden, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes. Remove meatballs to a plate.

In a 9”-x13” baking dish, whisk together pureed tomatoes and remaining teaspoon Worcestershire. Season with salt and pepper. Add meatballs to the baking dish and cover with foil. 

Bake until rice is tender, about 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake until sauce is thickened and meatballs are cooked through, about 15 minutes more. *Be sure to cook rice until tender or your family will experience a porcupine situation in their mouths.*

Sprinkle with more parsley and parmesan before serving.

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Make Your Own Pizza Night

One item on our summer bucket was “Make Your Own Pizza Night” We have done this several times but we jazzed it up with our head chef, Whitaker!

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You can buy pre-made dough or make your own. This is my go to Pizza Dough. If you want to try something different, Trader Joe’s has a great frozen Cauliflower Crust.

We are all about the ingredients in this house. Chop up what you want and add some variety. In my mind there can never be too many toppings. I love them all! Some our favorites: Mozzarella cheese (shredded or sliced), pepperoni, olives, sausage (cooked ahead), bell peppers, onions, jalapeños, and mushrooms.

We use pre-made pizza sauce to keep it easy. Once your dough is ready, start adding all the fun. It’s a great way to get everyone on the kitchen.

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Shaving Cream Decorated Easter Eggs

Each year it is fun to experiment with different ways to decorate your Easter Eggs.  There are so many fun options out there.  This year we used shaving cream.  Not shaving gel or shaving butter, good ole’ shaving cream.

Whitaker and I had so much fun picking out colors for our designs.  He also loved rolling the eggs around in the shaving cream.

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It is so basic and easy!

You need:
Hard Boiled Eggs
Shaving Cream (we used )
Assorted Food Gel or Food Coloring
Rubber Gloves (my PSA- I got a little carried away with the color and had stained hands for 3 days!)

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Spray a 1″ layer of shaving cream in the bottom of the glass or metal casserole pan. If you want no clean up, use a disposable aluminum pan. Spread the shaving cream to make a smooth top.

Then using your selected colors, beginning adding small, random dots of food gel to the shaving cream.  We used 2-3 on each design.  If you use too many you will end up with a nasty brown or green color.  (that does not say “Happy Easter!”)

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Then using a wooden skewer or popsicle stick, drag the skewer through the shaving cream making lines.  You can make swirls, loops, zigzag, whatever!

Once you have the design the way you like, place an egg in the shaving cream on one end.

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Gently roll the egg in a straight line from one side to the other.  My little guy liked using a spoon to roll his egg.  Then carefully pick up the egg and place it on some paper towels. Leave the egg there until the shaving cream starts to dry up. Usually 10 minutes. Then you can rinse off the extra shaving cream under water or clean off with a wet paper towel.

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Each Easter Egg will have its own personality based on colors and swirl designs.

Happy Easter!
Amanda

Chocolate Corn Flakes Chocolate Chip Cookies (It’s a Yummy Mouthful)

It should be pretty clear by now that my boys LOVE cookies.  I am raising actual Cookie Monsters!  We have a glass cookie jar that sits on the counter.  Usually that cookie jar displays the recent cookie that have been made in our kitchen.  I love hearing the sound of the jar being opened up.  A slight clang of glass and you know someone is in the cookie jar.  I love hearing my oldest and his friends getting into the cookie jar.  There is something magical about boys gathering around for a snack after shooting hoops or a long day at school.

As the cookies start getting low, I am quickly reminded that we will need more soon. We have several recipes that are always classics in this home.  The Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie and  M&M Cookies are our usual standbys because the ingredients are simple and always on hand.

My soon-to-be four year old was eager to make cookies last week.  I told him we were going to mix it up and add one of his favorite cereal- Kellogg’s Chocolate Frosted Flakes. He was beyond thrilled to help with the process.  The cookies were super easy to make and turned out perfect.  You can always use plain corn flakes for your cookies.

Looking Forward,
Amanda

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Chocolate Corn Flakes Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

2 eggs

1 1/2 t vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 t baking powder

1 t baking soda

1 cup regular oats, uncooked

1 cup chocolate corn flakes cereal (picture below)

1 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips and additional 1/2 cup for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line your baking sheets with parchment paper.

Beat shortening and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugars.  Beat until all combined.  Add eggs one at a time.  Then add vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and soda.  Gradually add to butter mixture.  Mix well.  Stir in oats, chocolate corn flakes, and chocolate chips.

Using a cookie dough scoop, drop dough 2 inches apart on your baking sheet.

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I always add extra chocolate chips to the top of my cookies before baking. It adds more chocolate and makes your cookies look good too!

Add additional chocolate chips to top off cookies.  Gently press in the chocolate chips. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  You want the cookies to be lightly browned.  Remove cookies and place on a wire rack for cooling.

And yes, this is Whitaker’s current favorite cereal:

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Our Valentine’s Rice Krispie Treats- On Mission in My Kitchen

I’m always looking for ways to get my boys in the kitchen. Simple recipes like this one help get my little guy involved.

I began getting him involved at the grocery store. I showed him what ingredients were on our shopping list. He helped me find Rice Krispie cereal, large marshmallows, butter, and sprinkles. Letting your child make fun decisions like, “What sprinkles would you like to use?” allows them to have ownership in the process.

In the kitchen, we took time to count out the marshmallows. We are working on counting to ten so we counted five different times. Yes, I’m very intentional when “teaching” in the kitchen. It is natural learning and having fun at the same time.

While standing on a stool beside me, he watched while we adding heat.  We watched as the butter melted and then the marshmallows melted. He smelled the yummy vanilla. And he added the food coloring and was excited when the color began to transform the marshmallow mixture.

He scooped up the cereal using a measuring cup. You can’t mess this recipe up so it’s okay if the cup is overflowing.

I think his favorite part was using the sprinkles he picked out. Lots of sprinkles were added.

As we waited for the treats to cool, I asked him “Who should be share these treats with?”. I’m trying to working with my boys to be outward focused. It is a daily conversation. “How can we bless someone today?” “Who’s day could be brighten?” “How can we show the love of Jesus today?”

He quickly decided that some neighbor friends might like these treats. We packaged them up in disposable aluminum pan. (I try to keep these on hand. The Dollar Tree always has the best assortment and they are one dollar.)

I loved that before he even tried his treat, he was skipping out the door with his brother to deliver the goodies.

It is the simplest recipes and experiences in the kitchen that can get your child involved. Yes, it will take longer and there might be more messes. I believe the quality and intentional time together makes it so worth it.

On Mission in the Kitchen,
Amanda

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3 T butter and additional unsalted butter to grease pan

4 1/2 cups of large marshmallows (we use 50 large marsmallows)

Red food coloring or gel

1 t vanilla (I used Mexican vanilla)

6 cups Kellogg’s® Rice Krispies® cereal

Assorted Valentine’s sprinkles

 

Prepare your 13×9 pan or whatever shape and size you desire by coating the pan with butter.  Set pan aside.

In large saucepan, melt butter over low heat.  Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted.  Remove from heat.

Stir in vanilla.  Then add red food coloring to achieve the desired color.

Add Kellogg’s Rice Krispie cereal.  Stir until well coated.

Using a buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into your prepared pan.

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Sprinkle the mixture with sprinkles.  Press in sprinkles.  Allow time to cool.

Using a knife, cut your treats to desired shapes.  Rice Krispie Treats are always best if served the same day.

Hotdog Mummies

I know, I know.  But it involves two things my boys love- bread and hotdogs.  So we got in the kitchen and created Hotdog Mummies.  It was a fun time of creating our little mummies. There is no right or wrong way.  And the finished product was approved by both my boys. To make it easier, you could just wrap the hotdog without creating arms and legs.  Either way, your kids will love being in the kitchen with you.
1 can (8 oz) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
bun-size hot dogs
Parchment Paper
Mustard or ketchup, if desired
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Prepare baking sheet by placing parchment paper on pan.  
Unroll crescent roll dough, separate at perforations to create 4 rectangles. Press the other perforations to seal. 
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With a pizza cutter, cut each rectangle lengthwise into 10 strips, making a total of 40 strips of dough.
Take one hot dog at a time and make a slit at the bottom for the mummy’s legs. Then, make two slits along the sides for the mummy’s arms.
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Wrap strips of dough around the individual arms and legs and then around the body of each hotdog, leaving an area about a half an inch long where the mummy’s face is. Place the mummies on  your prepared baking sheet.20171027_082520
Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the dough is light golden brown and the hot dogs are hot. With mustard or ketchup, draw two eyes on the mummy’s face.
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And you make “Snow” Play Dough

In Atlanta, we have been talking about the possibility of snow for 5 days.  We have lived in several places that get real snow but in Atlanta, the term snow is used loosely.  Snow-like precipitation falls from the sky and looks like snow on the ground and then becomes ICE. Ice is very different from snow.

But I wanted to get all excited.  This would be Whit’s first real snow.  So I introduced him to all the snow creating customs all children should know.  1.  We did a snow dance!  (yes, in the kitchen).  2.  We talked about wearing our pajamas inside-out.  (Whit likes to stay in the lines on things like this so he didn’t actually do this).  3.  We talked about sleeping with a spoon under our pillow. (He was unsure about bringing kitchen utensils into his bedroom.)  4.  We put ice in the toilet.  (now, he could go for this one!)  And then we made “snow” play dough!

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“Snow” Play Dough

2 cups of flour

1 cup of salt

2 T cream of tarter

2 cups water

2 T vegetable oil

1 splash of almond extract (gives it a fun smell)- completely optional

white glitter

Before turning the burner on, in a medium saucepan, combine flour, salt, and cream of tarter.  Mix well.  Add water, oil, and extract, and mix it all up.  Turn burner on low and stir until the mixture becomes really thick.  This should take about 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove from the heat and cool the dough.  Add glitter and knead dough until smooth. Now it is time to play or store in an airtight container.

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Add in the Glitter

So, we hope for a lot of snow where we can go sledding, then warm up with hot chocolate, and be completely lazy most the day.  But something tells me we just have “snow” play dough and ice.  As I write, it has began to fall outside and we will wake up in the morning to see if at least dancing and ice in our toilets did the trick.

Looking Forward to Playing in the Snow,

Amanda

Boys in the Kitchen- Fortune Cookies

It’s important to me that my boys know their way around the kitchen. They don’t have to be culinary experts (but a mommy can wish). I just want them to be intelligent in a kitchen and around a table. I want them to appreciate the whole experience. I never pressure our oldest in the kitchen. Instead I introduce concepts and ask for his opinions. Naturally he has taken an interest in some aspects of cooking and baking. I love to celebrate and can always find a reason to cook.

With Chinese New Year’s coming, I thought it would be fun to make fortune cookies. I wanted it to be simple. We did not create gourmet cookies. Instead we had fun creating fortunes to hide inside the cookies and spent time learning a few new tricks. This was W’s first time to drizzle chocolate. He was a natural. And he learned a very important rule: Never Waste Chocolate! We took the remaining chocolate and made chocolate covered pretzels.

Let’s be honest. These fortune cookies are made from pie crust. Nothing culinary about it. Instead it is about taking time to be with your kids in the kitchen and making a few memories. They will find pride in creating something and feel loved that you spent time with them. And you might create a love for the kitchen at the same time.
Take time to make the memories! -Amanda

Kid Friendly Fortune Cookies

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Refrigerated pie crust or homemade pie crust
Melting chocolate for drizzle

First start by preparing personalized fortunes.  Cut strips of paper (2 inches long by 1/2 inch high). We used a thin Sharpie marker to write our messages. You could print your messages using a computer. Double fold all your messages. They need to be little to fit into the cookie.

Unroll pie crust. Using a cookie cutter to cut out circles (about 2-1/4 inches in diameter). Space very closely to get all on one crust. Take the scraps of dough and reroll to make more circles. We got 15 circles out of our one pie crust. Take a pie crust circle and place a folded fortune strip in the center. Fold circle in half with fortune inside, and pinch edges (not center) to seal. Place on cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Repeat for remaining circles.

Bake cookies at 450 degrees for 7 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

Melt your selected chocolate in the microwave according to package directions. Remove and stir. Stir until chocolate is smooth. Drizzle chocolate over cookies, or dip edge of cookie into chocolate. Decorate with sprinkles if desired. Allow chocolate to harden completely before serving.

Create Your Own Crayons

Okay, crayons get broken.  That does not mean they are useless and should be thrown out.  Would we do that with a chocolate bar?  No, we would melt that sucker down and top our ice cream with it.  It is time to take crayons to their second life.  Making my own crayons is a family tradition that I did with my Mom-Mom and my Mom.  As a child, I loved to color but to make my own crayons, Stop the Blender!  William and I had a great time making crayons.  Of course I turned it into a science lesson with a colorful reward.  Now, hold your hand high and repeat: “I will never throw a crayon away again.  It has a purpose and deserves a second chance!”  Coloring brings out your inner-child! -AF

Create your own Crayons

Gather your used (or new) crayons.  Take off the wrapped, seriously do this while watching the latest episode of Up All Night. It’s a little tedious, but worth it.

Two options here: (1) Use a butcher knife and chop the crayons into 1/2 inch pieces. (2) Have your munchkin get involved with breaking them up–great fine motor skills

Fill the tin or mold about half way with crayon pieces. Design your own color mixtures.  We designed a cool camouflage heart with browns, greens, and tans.

Bake at 230 degrees until the crayons are melted, approximately 12-15 minutes.

Let the crayons cool and remove from tins/molds.  Tip: if your crayons stick in the tins, place tin in freezer for an hour and the crayons will pop out.

Fill with your favorite colors