Kids love to get involved in the kitchen and definitely like to help decorate for Christmas. I was planning on making a real gingerbread house, but ran out of time. This project turned out to be real hit with my kids: ages 5, 3 & 1. Each kid had made their own house. The two older kids could do most of the work with little assistance from me and we tried two different construction techniques. For my 1-year-old, I made the structure and she helped decorate the house and ate a few M&Ms along the way. The best part is that I had all of the ingredients in my pantry. Think about what you have and get creative!
Graham Cracker Gingerbread House Ingredients
royal icing (combine 1 egg white, 1/2 tsp. lemon juice, 1/2 box confectioner’s sugar until the consistency of peanut butter)
zip lock bags to pipe the icing
1 box graham crackers
mini pretzel sticks
Cut the graham crackers to the size and shape house that you want to construct. My 5-year-old was patient enough to be able pipe icing along the edges of the graham crackers to hold the walls to the floor and then the roof to the walls.
To construct my 3 year old’s house, we used a small milk carton and cut the top off. This way she could easily spread some icing on the carton to make the graham cracker walls to stick. To fill in the gaps at the corners, we applied mini pretzel sticks.
The kids had a lot of fun decorating the houses with cereal, candy and pretzels.
Even my 1-year-old enjoyed squeezing a bag of icing and placing mini M&Ms on the roof. She got a kick out of Santa and Mrs. Clause standing at the door. I flipped through the holiday ads that came in my Sunday newspaper to find the perfect size Santa, Snowman and Gingerbread Man. I glued the image to a piece of the cardboard milk carton and the kids were easily able to use icing to adhere the image to the doorway of their houses.
The houses were the perfect size to sit on my kitchen window sill. A perfect place to display them and decorate our kitchen!
We even constructed a chimney and placed some pieces of marshmallow for smoke. I helped by piping some icing along the roof of the house to make icicles.
Hope you had a great holiday and enjoyed with your kids!
My garden has come to an end for the season. We are having some great weather for November, but I know this can’t last long and the days are so short. It was time to winterize my veggie garden.
My rosemary plant did great once again this year. So here is what I do with my rosemary plant for the winter…I make a wreath to decorate my kitchen window. In the past I have tried to move my plant from the garden to a pot indoors. It was successful for a while, but eventually died. So last year I came up with the idea of cutting my plant down and used floral wire to wrap the branches into a circle. I add a bow and hang my wreath in my kitchen window above my sink. It smells great in the kitchen for well over a week! It is a beautiful touch to decorate for Thanksgiving and the Christmas Holidays.
Here’s one of those easy recipes that you can make from scratch in a pinch….no need to buy ready-made pancake mix! It is easy, quick and has whole wheat flour and cornmeal which are both whole grains. This recipe is great by itself, but to change it up (as we do every weekend) and add extra nutrients, I add different fruit…bananas, blueberries, strawberries, peaches and even canned pumpkin. Depending on the fruit, you can mash it or chop it into small chunks. For an extra special treat, add a small amount of chocolate chips to each pancake…we drop about 5 chips on top after the batter is poured on the griddle. The kids are super happy about that!
1 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C whole wheat flour
1/4 C cornmeal
1 TB baking powder
1 1/2 C milk
2 large eggs
2 TB brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 C to 3/4 C fruit – optional
Here’s a tip – I measure out 3/4 C canned 100% pure pumpkin for this recipe. With the remaining pumpkin, I measure the rest in 3/4 C increments and place in small freezer bags laying flat in the freezer. Next time you make pancakes, a bag of pumpkin will thaw quickly in water as you are preparing the other ingredients.
I have been enjoying the harvest from my garden, as well as the fresh produce that summer brings. Combine the two and you can make salads a ton of different ways. I have been eating salad almost on a daily basis and each salad can be different that you won’t tire from it. What is not to like about the cool, crispy, crunch on a warm summer day?
My goal is to try and limit the amount of processed food that my family and I eat. It is all there for convenience, but I am taking small steps to make more food from scratch. It is actually very easy to do!
With three young kids, I really try to get as many vegetables into them as possible. Sometimes they need to be “bribed” with something else to make them more delectable to their palate. Dressings or dips work great for vegetables, but I cringe when I look at the ingredients and nutrition labels. This is a super easy recipe to make their favorite – Honey Mustard dressing/dip. Plus it is so good, that it is a great way to change up my daily salad or fancy enough to serve it when it when company comes over.
1 6oz. container low-fat plain yogurt
1/2 C light mayonnaise
1/3 C honey
3 TB dijon mustard
3 TB yellow mustard
1 TB cider vinegar
pinch cayenne pepper
Whisk together all ingredients and store in the refrigerator up to 5 days.
This recipe has many different names they can be known as freezer cukes, cucumbers or pickles, refrigerator cukes or cucumber salad.
Last summer I had an abundance of cucumbers from my veggie garden. This recipe is so easy and so refreshing. Just mix all of the ingredients together and refrigerate overnight. They are ready to be served or frozen. I placed small batches of cukes in canning jars and some in freezer bags, making sure that I left enough head space for expansion.
Thaw and eat them all winter long as a nice way to remember summer’s bounty.
This salad is great as a side salad, to bring to a picnic or I like them on top of a sandwich.
7 cups cukes, sliced thin
1 cup sliced onion
1 cup green pepper diced
2 tsp salt
1 tsp celery seed
2 cups sugar
1 cup cold vinegar
Kuchen – a German word for cake.
This is one of my favorite desserts since I was a kid. Mom would whip this up in her kitchen using whatever fruit we had on hand. This recipe is so versatile because you can use just about any type of fruit! During the summer, peaches and plums are delicious. In the fall, apples or pears. During the winter, even canned fruit works great!
I am determined to go blueberry pickin in Michigan next month and I will be taking this recipe with me!!
1 1/4 C flour
1/4 C sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 C butter
2 egg yolks
2 TB milk
fruit (I used 4 large peaches, sliced)
1/2 C sugar
2 TB flour
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
2 TB butter
Sift flour with sugar, salt and baking powder.
Cut in butter until it crumbs. There are different techniques to cutting in butter, but I do it the old fashioned way using my fingers to break up cold butter into pea sized pieces as the flour mixture coats the butter.
Combine egg yolks and milk and add to the flour mixture. Once blended, spread and press into bottom of pan a 9×9″ square pan or 9″ round baking dish. Arrange fruit and cover with streusel crumbs.
Bake 375° for 45 minutes or less.
Kuchen is scrumptious served warm….even with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top!
Ha! I need a bigger piece!