Archive | July, 2011

Homemade Popsicles….

19 Jul

I’m not sure about you, but we are being blanketed by some extreme heat this week.  Yesterday the heat index was well over 100′ and I actually heard the weatherman say that our humidity resembles that of the Amazon… WOW…  Needless to say we are going through popsicles like they are water!  I actually think if I made ice with a stick and called them “watersicles” my boys would eat them right up!  We made super easy popsicles today. I simply sliced up some of our favorite fruit and put it in our molds along with some pink lemonade…  I figured we could make these somewhat healthy!  If you don’t have popsicle molds paper cups work just fine, they are also super easy to tear off the cold treat when you are ready to eat it!  I’ve also seen people use cute little shaped cups or molds to make their popsicles in.  Do any of you have one of those new fancy Zoku popsicle makers?  We don’t have one yet, but a friend does and really says it’s great, what are your thoughts?  Here are a couple other recipes I have gathered over the years….  Stay cool!

Fresh Strawberry Popsicles

Ingredients

    • 2 cups strawberries hulled and puréed
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 1/4 cups water

Directions

 In a saucepan, mix the sugar and water and cook over low heat until the sugar has dissolved.  Allow to cool.

To make the popsicles: Stir together the puréed strawberry and 1 cup sugar syrup then pour into popsicle molds and freeze.

Banana Blueberry Popsicles

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 ripe bananas (1 pound)
  • 1 1/2 cups yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

Directions

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, puree bananas until smooth. Add yogurt, sugar, and lemon juice; pulse to combine. Remove half of the yogurt mixture; set aside.
  2. Add blueberries to processor, and pulse until just combined. Layer blueberry and reserved yogurt mixtures into ten 1/3 cup popsicle molds or paper cups. Using a spoon or popsicle stick, swirl the two flavors together. Insert popsicle sticks. Transfer to freezer until frozen, about 8 hours
  3. Dip the popsicle molds quickly in hot water to release or peal away the paper cups.

Chocolate Yogurt Cups

Ingredients

    • 1 1 (8 ounce) containers plain nonfat yogurt
    •  ¼ cup cocoa
    •  ¼ cup Sugar
    • 4 4 popsicle sticks

Directions

1. Mix all ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Spoon mixture into four, 3 ounce paper cups. Set cups in a muffin pan or on a flat plate. Place popsicle sticks in the center. Freeze about 3 hours or until solid.

2. Peel paper cups away from popsicles before serving.

Root Beer Float Pops

Ingredients

4 cups Root Beer
2 1/2 cups Vanilla Ice Cream

DIRECTIONS

Open the root beer and place it in the fridge for 5-20 minutes to “flatten” it a little bit.  Pour the cold root beer into a pitcher and put it in the freezer for 10 minutes more. (This will make it very very cold so the ice cream doesn’t melt as much).

Fill each of your popsicle molds HALF full of root beer

Gently lower a small scoop of ice cream into each popsicle mold so it is about three quarters full.

Slowly add more root beer until the molds are ALMOST full. Make sure to leave some space at the top of the mold for “expansion”.
Scoop off the foam with a spoon. Freeze for at least 6 hours.

Remove from the freezer; run under warm water so you can easily remove the popsicles from the mold.

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Fresh Strawberry Pie or Itty Bitty’s…

15 Jul

Strawberry pie is one of our favorite summer desserts.  It’s so fresh and easy that we find ourselves bringing it to BBQ’s and dinner parties over and over again!  Yesterday we were making a meal for some friends that recently had a baby.  I decided we’d try making “mini” strawberry pies just to spice it up a little bit.  One thing about me and “mini”, we don’t mix well.  For some reason every mini thing, aside from cupcakes, that I’ve tried to make has not turned out so well.  I figured I’d try these, but I didn’t have huge expectations knowing my history!  To my surprise they turned out!  AND…. I got to use my adorable itty bitty pie tins, YEAH!   We ALWAYS eat our strawberry pie with homemade whipping cream-much more than a dollop, but you could try yours plain, with ice cream, or even with whipped topping…..  Little Shaeffer told me this morning his favorite part of strawberry pie is THE WHIP CREAM, so I guess that tells you how we feel about it in our house!  Here’s the recipe we use…. If you and I are going to the same BBQ and we are both assigned “dessert”  let’s call each other and make sure we make enough pie for everyone!

Pastry:

1 cup  all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon shortening
2 to 3 tablespoons cold water

Filling:

  • 1 1/2 quarts fresh strawberries cut in half (or smaller if making itty bitty’s)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 (3 ounce) package strawberry flavored gelatin (I often times use sugar free since you’re adding sugar any ways)

DIRECTIONS

In medium bowl, mix flour and salt. Cut in shortening,  until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary).  I use my food processor to make the dough and it works perfectly.  Gather pastry into a ball. Shape into flattened round on lightly floured surface. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate about 45 minutes or until dough is firm and cold, yet pliable. This allows the shortening to become slightly firm, which helps make the baked pastry more flaky. If refrigerated longer, let pastry soften slightly before rolling.  Heat oven to 425°F. With floured rolling pin, roll pastry into round 2 inches larger than upside-down 9-inch glass pie plate.  If you are making mini pies use your pie tin as a “cookie cutter” and trace around the edge of the tin.  I then rolled my rounds out a little more so they were slightly bigger than the mini tins.  Fold pastry into fourths; place in pie plate. Unfold and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side. Trim overhanging edge of pastry 1 inch from rim of pie plate. Fold and roll pastry under, even with plate; flute as desired. Prick bottom and side of pastry thoroughly with fork OR place a coffee filter inside the un-pricked crust and fill the filter with rice making sure to push it against the edges. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown. Cool on cooling rack.  I opt for the “rice” version so that my filling doesn’t leak through the pricked holes and make my crust mushy….

In a saucepan, mix together the sugar and corn starch; make sure to blend corn starch in completely. Add boiling water, and cook over medium heat until mixture thickens. Remove from heat. Add gelatin mix, and stir until smooth. Let mixture cool to room temperature. Place strawberries in baked pie shells; position berries with points facing up. Pour cooled gel mixture over strawberries.  Refrigerate until set. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.

 

Literacy in the Car….

11 Jul

We keep one of these magazine files/bankers boxes in our car.  It sits right between the boys car seats.   It is stuffed with books, all sorts of books.  Fiction, non fiction, easy readers, you name it!  It also has two little white boards, two markers and two erasers floating around in the bottom of it.  Any time we are in the car the boys immediately pull out a book or a board. They “read” the easier books and make up stories to go with the harder books.  They tell me facts about sea turtles, tigers, and butterflies….  The even “hide” books from each other for the next trip, hilarious.  We also keep two white boards in the box.  The rule with the white boards is that they are used for “words” or “numbers” not pictures.  They can write any words they want.  Sometimes I give them “spelling tests” or we write all the words we can think of in the “at” family (or other word families).  Sometimes they write the names of their friends, family members, and pets.  We even find ourselves doing math facts and numbers.   Often times they just write the words for things they see.  Just yesterday I got them unbuckled and notices the words “PT CRZR” on one of the boards…  Can you guess what my 4 year old saw on his journey home?   Just a quick and easy way to promote literacy OR EVEN MATH SKILLS on your ventures out and about!

 

 

Handprint Strawberry

10 Jul

This time of year in Minnesota is awesome!  The weather is warm, the sun is bright, and the strawberries are in full bloom (a little later than normal this year).  The boys (and mom and dad too) have been indulging in fresh strawberries for about a week now, YUMMY… Today we are even making a fresh strawberry pie-mmmmmm!  What better time to do a strawberry craft!  This one is pretty simple and cute as a button!

YOU’LL NEED:

Red tempera paint

Green tempera paint or a green marker

White paper

Black “Sharpie” marker

DIRECTIONS

Paint your child’s hand, or let them paint their own, red.  Have them keep their fingers together and stamp it on the paper with the fingers pointed down.  Wash the messy fingers!  Once the hand print is dry you can have your child draw the stem and seeds with the green paint and black marker…  Fun, easy and adorable!

4th of July Flare…

1 Jul

What do you have planned for the 4th?  My family traditionally has gone to a local parade and then to the lake for the day!   I thought that the boys might like some “Flare” for the parade this year… Something to wave at the passersby.  Something patriotic!  I altered a project I traditionally do around Mother’s Day for the 4th and I think they will work perfectly.  We make “coffee filter” flowers for our mom’s sometimes in Kindergarten.  They are pretty easy once you get the hang of it and you can whip out a bunch of them in no time!  My boys made the ones pictured, but you could also make a bunch to hand out to friends!  You could also just plop them in a vase and use them as a centerpiece, I think they kind of look like fireworks!  I’m sure you’ll think of something creative to do with them!  Here’s the scoop:

MATERIALS:

*white coffee filters (we don’t even drink coffee, but I use them a lot for projects)
*chenille stems/pipe cleaners:  I used Red, White and Blue.  I used the big fuzzy ones, but any will work!
*red and blue watercolor paint:  This was kind of a challenge, having the boys stick to just these colors, but you could cover the colors you don’t want them to use in scotch tape.
*towel  for drying, or just some counter space!

DIRECTIONS

1.  Place one of the coffee filters onto a paper plate or piece of construction paper and flatten out. This is just so the paint doesn’t get on your table!
2.  Paint the coffee filter with water color paint. You can paint them any combination of red & blue you want.  We left some areas white… Mine were totally painted by preschoolers.  You could paint some stripes, solids, dots, etc.. depending on the age of your children.  I had to remind my boys that we were only using red and blue… You might want to cover up your other colors with scotch tape if it is hard for them to remember this :)
3.  Move the coffee filter to a towel or counter and lay it flat to dry.
4.  Once the filter is completely dry (it doesn’t take that long) imagine a circle in  the center of the filter. Cut the coffee filter in strips, working you way around the circle. Our strips were triangular in shape because we were cutting in a circle.  I probably left a quarter size circle in the center of each filter and just cut around it.  If you want to “draw” a circle in the center you certainly can and then just cut from the edge of the filter up to your drawn line all the way around.  My 4 and 5 year old did the cutting and did a pretty good job…I held the filter for them and turned it so they could cut.  You can see some of their jagged edges, but that makes it more special!
5.  Cut a 1.5″ piece off of one end of a chenille stem and set aside.
6.  Take the longer piece of chenille and poke it through the center of the coffee filter. There should be about 2″ of chenille poked through.
7.  NOW, turn the entire thing upside down and grasp the filter in one hand.  The long piece of the chenille stem should be pointed up. Gather the filter  around the chenille and secure it by wrapping the extra piece of chenille stem that you cut off in an earlier step. Twist it around the part you are holding and turn the flower back upright.
8.  Manipulate with your finger until strips are spread out and it looks the way you want it to.
9.  It sounds more tricky than it is.  I assure you IT’S NOT… It is actually pretty easy once you get the hang of it!    Have fun!
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