Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Year's Poppers

The holidays are over and I have a huge stack of empty wrapping paper rolls and cardboard boxes just waiting to made into a craft project! My first project: New Year's Poppers:





Make and Takes has a great tutorial on how to make these. It's a quick project and I'm excited for the kids to "pop" these open and find a little treat inside on New Year's Eve.

Here is what you do:




1. Cut a toilet paper size tube in half. That way, kids can pop the poppers in half or by the ends. Either way works well.
2. Fill your tube with confetti and candy. Try not to stuff it too full or the contents will have a harder time popping out. I didn't have confetti so I used shredded colored paper. I filled a couple with candy and others with little plastic critters for my son to play with.
3. Wrap your tube with wrapping paper and tape closed.
4. Tie off the ends with ribbon, sealing it all inside.
If you are really feeling creative, you can buy cracker snaps to put inside so when they open, they actually make the popping noise. You can buy them here: http://www.oldenglishcrackers.com/cracker-snaps-p-91.html?cPath=4
Now you are ready for a New Year's Eve celebration!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Hanukkah Cookies



It is a Jewish tradition to eat potato latkes and sufganiyot (jelly-filled donuts) on Hanukkah. In our family, we make plenty of latkes but we have never made sufganiyot. Instead, every year we make iced sugar cookies in Hanukkah-theme shapes for dessert. This year I tried something a little different. I found this idea on Kveller.com for jelly-filled cookies (Lizner cookies). I thought it would be a nice take on the jelly-filled donuts but much easier. All you need to do is roll your sugar cookie dough thin, poke a hole (or small shape) through one cookie and sandwich the two cookies together with some jam. Sift some powdered sugar on top after they bake and cool and you have yourself some tasty cookies! I think these would be beautiful Christmas cookies as well...In Christmas-themed shapes of course. Or for any occasion!


 Before Baking...
(Note: after sandwiching the cookies together, I gently pressed the edges together and re-cut the cookies again with the cookie-cutter to ensure a perfect shape)

After Baking...



Here is the sugar cookie recipe I used from Allrecipes.com. It was quick to mix together and tasted great!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.




We also had to make a batch of the iced sugar cookies as well :o)




Thursday, December 22, 2011

Words with Friends Crochet Hat

I sort of feel guilty for the amount of time I spend playing Words With Friends. I pretty much always have at least 5-10 games going a day. If you have never played this game, beware, it's addicting! Just for fun I decided to make my littlest a WWF beanie. The crocheted beanie pattern is from Alli Crafts, the yellow tiles are made of felt and the black letters are Stick-It Felt Letters.

Here is my future Words With Friends addict :o)





Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Crocheted Hanukkah Gelt / Christmas Candy Bags

When Creative Jewish Mom posted her crocheted Hanukkah Gelt bags yesterday, I literally ran for my crochet hook. We are hosting a Hanukkah party at our house on Saturday and I immediately thought these would be great party favors. I still need to make one for each guest, but here are the first few.



Then I thought, these could easily be made for Christmas as well! They are the perfect size to hold little candies, sleigh bells, mini candy canes, reindeer food, or even a lump of coal if you know someone on the naughty list :o)



You can find the pattern for these bags HERE. The only thing I changed was in rounds 4-16, I worked in continuous rounds instead of joining with a slip stitch.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Crock Pot Potato Soup



I made this recipe a month or so ago and haven't had a chance to post it until now. I actually wasn't crazy about it when it first came out of the crock pot, but the leftovers were REALLY GOOD! I think this is one of those soups that needs to sit in the refrigerator overnight to thicken up and let the flavors come out.

Here is the recipe from Allrecipes.com:

The ingredients:

  • 6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 (10.5 ounce) cans condensed chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 5 large potatoes, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups half-and-half cream
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk

  • Now here is the hard part. You have cook the bacon and onions in a skillet before putting them in the crock pot, and dice the potatoes. THEN you have to whisk together the flour, half and half and evaporated milk and remember to add it in during the last 30 minutes. A little more work than usual for a slow cooker recipe.

  • Directions:

    1. Place bacon and onion in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until bacon is evenly brown and onions are soft. Drain off excess grease.
    2. Transfer the bacon and onion to a slow cooker, and stir in chicken broth, water, potatoes, salt, dill weed, and white pepper. Cover, and cook on Low 6 to 7 hours, stirring occasionally.
    3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and half-and-half. Stir into the soup along with the evaporated milk. Cover, and cook another 30 minutes before serving.


    This is well worth the work if you are willing to wait and enjoy it the next day! 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Coffee Gift Card Holder

If I haven't mentioned it enough before, I am obsessed with Pinterest. I could spend hours "pinning" all the great ideas I find on there and then hope to find the time or occasion to do them all.  I found a great gift idea a couple months ago and have been waiting for a chance to re-create it. My chance came today.

I sent my husband to the store to specifically get HOLIDAY cards for our sons teachers. You know, something that says "Thank you and Happy Holidays" with a winter theme on the front. It had to be neutral since we don't know the religion of all the teachers and what they may or may not celebrate this time of year. So what does he come home with? Cards with christmas trees on the front with the message saying "wishing you a bright and shining Christmas." SMH. I should have known better than to leave this task up to him. But no worries, now was my chance to use this great Pinterest idea.

Here is what it looks like:


Cute, right?! The girls over at Skip To My Lou have directions (and a template!) on how to create this. In my version, I adjusted the template in photoshop and added in "Happy Holidays" as well as simplified some of the directions.

Here is what I did:
- Printed the template out on card stock and cut and glued it to another piece of card stock for extra thickness.
- Took a coffee sleeve (I yanked a couple here and there from different coffee stands) and using double sided tape, taped it in the middle.
- Took a small piece of double sided tape and taped the bottom of the sleeve shut so the Starbucks gift card wouldn't fall through.
- Used green yarn to tie a fun little bow around it.

That's it!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Crock Pot Falafel

This recipe looked a little intimidating when I first came across it on Pinterest. There were a lot of ingredients but I was willing to give it a go since we LOVE falafel and I could make it in the crock pot. After a quick trip to the store, I thought I had everything I needed but when I started mixing ingredients, I realized I didn't have cayenne pepper and I had coriander but not ground coriander. A google search said I could substitute paprika for cayenne pepper and after a pathetic attempt to ground my own coriander, I pretty much just left it out. And as I was finally done putting the ingredients into my mixer, I noticed that the big T in the recipe is for Tablespoon and the little t is for teaspoon...at this point I wasn't sure how much of what I had put in and figured it was going to take a miracle for this recipe to turn out. I also want to note that I doubled the recipe.


Well it must be my lucky day, because they turned out great! NO JOKE!




Since I doubled the recipe, I actually made two separate batches in the crock pot. I didn't want to risk stacking the falafel balls and ruining the whole thing. We ate almost the entire batch #1 for dinner while batch #2 cooked. Now we will have enough for lunch tomorrow and some for my sons school lunches as well.



Here is the recipe from www.crockpot365.blogspot.com:

• 1 15oz can garbanzo beans (chick peas)
• 1/2 onion, chopped 
• 1 T dried parsley 
• 2 cloves minced garlic 
• 1 egg 
• 1 t kosher salt 
• 1/4 t black pepper 
• 2 t ground cumin 
• 1 t ground coriander 
• 1/4 t cayenne pepper 
• Juice from 1 lemon 
• 1/2 to 3/4 cup bread crumbs
• 2 T olive oil (for the bottom of your crock)

Drain garbanzo beans. Dump them into a mixing bowl and smash them with a fork. Set aside.


With blender or food processor blend together all of the spices, the onion, the garlic, the egg, and the lemon juice.


Pour on top of your smashed garbanzo beans. Use your fork to mix together, and add the breadcrumbs slowly until the mixture is wet and sticky but can be formed into balls nicely. 


Pour 2 T of olive oil into the bottom of your crockpot stoneware insert.


Form squished golf-ball sized patties of falafel. (I made slightly smaller round balls) Dip each side into the olive oil and then nestle into your crockpot. It's okay if they overlap or are on top of each other.


Cook on high for 2-5 hours. You will know that the falafels are done when they turn brownish-golden. You can flip them halfway through the cooking time if you feel like it, but they will brown on top even without flipping.






What really made these falafels superb was the homemade tzatziki sauce. I found a very easy recipe on allrecipes.com for tzatziki and it turned out amazing! We couldn't stop dipping our falafels in it. If you use this recipe I would recommended cutting it in half. I think I have enough tzatziki to last us the rest of the year. 

Ingredients:
• 2 cucumbers
• 2 (16 ounce) containers sour cream
• 1 (16 ounce) container Greek yogurt
• 2 tablespoons minced garlic
• 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

  • Directions:
  • 1. Peel cucumbers and grate into a colander. Squeeze out excess water.
  • 2. Mix together sour cream, yogurt, garlic, and olive oil in a large bowl. Stir in cucumbers. Chill at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours before serving.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Crochet Winter Headband with Flower

Here is a quick crochet project I wanted to share. I worked this one up last night while the hubs and I watched a movie. I followed a pattern from www.crochetme.com called Quick Winter Headband. The only part I changed was the end. I created a 7 chain loop on one end and sewed a button to the other. You can find the flower pattern HERE from Red Heart. My flower came out a little different than the one they pictured. I must have misread something in the pattern. I will have to try making another one but for now I like the way this one turned out :)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Kid-Friendly Decoration: Felt Menorah

I had a little bit of Christmas envy yesterday when I Can Teach My Child posted the felt christmas tree she made for her kids. The idea is to cut a large piece of green felt into a christmas tree, pin it to your wall and then make felt ornaments that your child can stick to the tree. Click HERE to see her felt tree. After thinking about it for a minute, I realized I could do this just as easily and make it into a Menorah with felt candles for each night!




Since I didn't want to make another trip to the craft store, I decided to use the felt I had left over from my felt garland. I used 3 standard 9x12 sheets of blue felt (taped together) for the candle branch area and one more cut in half for the neck and base of the menorah. For the candles I cut pieces of 9x12 white felt into 3" sections. I spread them out evenly and cut notches in the blue felt between the candles to create 8 branches and the Shamash (the ninth candle in the middle). I also cut the 8 branches down about a half inch so the Shamash would be the tallest. Then hot-glued flames and numbers to the candles for each night. Instead of using push-pins to hang it on the wall, I used painters tape (between menorah and wall) and it worked like a charm! I was worried about my little men pulling out the push-pins and stabbing themselves. And with two boys, if it can happen, it will happen.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Crock Pot Iced Cinnamon Biscuits

When I was pregnant with number #2 I had morning (all day) sickness for pretty much my entire pregnancy as well has horrible food aversions. I still have trouble eating chinese, thai and hawaiian food. There's a food chain called Hawaiian Time all over Portland and I feel nauseous every time I drive by one. The one thing I remember actually craving when I was pregnant were cinnamon rolls. So when I saw this recipe for Crock Pot Iced Cinnamon Biscuits pop up in my Facebook feed, I was immediately drooling. The recipe takes little time to put together and in 2 hours you have the most amazing cinnamon rolls you have ever tasted. I threw this in the crock pot before I dropped my son at preschool, stayed for morning songs and stories and when I got home, had this deliciousness waiting for me.

Click HERE for the recipe from the Crock Pot Recipe Exchange.


You have to use a crock pot liner for this recipe which is something I hadn't tried yet. The people at Reynolds definitely got it right with this one. The crock pot makes cooking so easy, and now I don't have to clean the pot either?! If you insist! Also, I must have used some big biscuits because I was only able to fit 6 in my crock pot (as opposed to 8).


As you can see, I like extra frosting on my cinnamon rolls. MMMMMM!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Decking the Halls for Hanukkah (DIY Style)

The family is coming to our house for Hanukkah this year so I wanted to do a little decorating and thanks to Pinterest, I found a couple of Hanukkah craft projects to make our home festive! For the dinning room table, I made Tissue Kissing Balls from The Idea Room. The idea seemed pretty simple. Using a roll of streamers, cut them into 24 inch strips, crumple, fold the top 1/3 of the way down and roll the paper up so it takes the shape of a rose bud. Then hot glue to styrofoam balls (I used 3 inch styrofoam balls). You could obviously do this in a variety of colors but I stuck with the traditional white and blue for Hanukkah and am really happy with the result!



Next project was some DIY Hanukkah garland made from felt. This idea comes from Creative Jewish Mom. I used dreidel and star shaped cookie cutters to trace the shapes onto felt. Cut them out and hot-glued them to piece of ric-rac ribbon. Simple!



Then I decided to go one step further. I was going to attempt to trace letters onto felt to spell out "Happy Hanukkah"...... then the most awesome gift showed up at my front door (thanks mom!). I am now the proud owner of a Cricut! The Cricut is a personal cutting machine that can cut shapes and letters out of fabric and paper. Although cutting felt on the Cricut was a little tricky. I used stiff felt but the blade isn't able to cut through the entire piece, so I had to use scissors to finish cutting them out. I hot-glued the letters to a rectangular piece of stiff white felt, put a hole punch in the upper corners of each rectangle and strung it on the rest of my ric-rac. VoilĂ !



Saturday, December 3, 2011

Dear Son, Love Mom

Lately I've been thinking a lot about how I'm going to save all my digital photos. You know, so when my boys are in their 30's with families of their own, they can show their children pictures of when they were younger. My oldest isn't even 3 yet and I already have over 14,000 photos in my iPhoto library and that isn't including the videos I've taken! I printed out a bunch for my older sons baby book but it's poorly put together and I haven't even started on baby brothers. And those only cover the first year of life. 


Then came this Google Chrome commercial called "Dear Sophie" about a father who opens a g-mail account to communicate with is daughter from birth into the future:




I had seen this commercial before but it wasn't until mommy blogger Mommy Hates Cooking posted earlier this week that she set up an e-mail account for her son that it dawned on me - this could be part of my solution! So I created a g-mail account* for each of my boys as a way to send them a quick note, memory, moment, picture or video as they grow. When they are older, I will give them access to their inbox. I like to think of it as an online journal and a great way to start and continue a baby book! And just as Kristy from Mommy Hates Cooking did, I e-mailed the grandparents, great-grandma (yes, she has e-mail and knows how to use it!), uncles and aunts and invited them to also send e-mails of memories and moments they have of the boys. 


I do not intend to e-mail them on a daily basis, but maybe a couple times month and when they reach milestones. I don't even need to be at my computer, I can send a message from my iPhone. How fun will it be to be able to e-mail my baby a video of himself walking the minute he does it?! 


Lets just hope that e-mail will still be around in 30+ years.


*You cannot actually set up a g-mail account for anyone who is not over thirteen years old. So when you are creating the account don't put their actual age and you are good to go.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Crockpot Nutella Hot Chocolate



If you love Nutella, then this is for you! I originally saw this recipe on the Crock Pot Recipe Exchange but have since seen it pop up all over Facebook and Pinterest. I just new it was something I had to try because over here in the Zimmerman house, we are Nutella fanatics! And let me tell you, it was just as amazing as I thought it would be. I topped mine with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles and my son had his with a heaping mound of marshmallows. YUMMMM!





(Found this cute mug for 40 cents and Michaels. It's from the Paula Dean collection)


Here is the recipe I followed from the Crock Pot Recipe Exchange:
  • 2 cups of milk (whole, skim, soy, almond, lactose free... any kind will work)
  • a heaping 1/4 cup of Nutella
  • whipped topping or marshmallows (optional)
In a 1 - 1 1/2 quart crock pot add 1 cup of the milk and the Nutella. Whisk together until the Nutella is completely dissolved and incorporated.

Add the remainder of the milk and whisk to inocorporate it well. When it's well incorporated the milk will be all frothy on top.

Place the lid on and turn the crock to low. Let heat completely through for 1 - 2 hours (mine took about an hour and a half).

Whisk one last time before serving to make sure everyone gets an equal amount of that great Nutella flavor. Serve topped with your favorite whipped topping or marshmallows.