Friday, May 25, 2012

Sensory bin: Moon Sand

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I've seen recipes everywhere for home made moon sand.  I made a mess with moon sand as a kid.  Ever think no wonder my parents were so angry when I... I could finish that sentence with me putting moon sand in/on something at least 10 times.  Why did they keep giving it to me?  I will say that they gave me Gak exactly once.  Then I had to trade Pogs to get more Gak from my friends.

Oh man, I'm old.  And if you understood or related to that last sentence, so are you.

You can understand why I was a bit hesitant to make some for my child.  But really, it just made me vigilant.  Sorry, kid.  You won't be plastering the tv in moon sand today.

Like I said, I've stumbled upon several recipes.
I started with one and toyed with it until I got the moon sand to the consistency of wet cement.  It has dried out considerably, but the result was oobleck-esque sand.

4 cups play sand, sifted.  (ours isn't a particularly nice color.  If you have the lighter, finer stuff, you can dye it.)
2 cups corn starch
1.5 cups water

I added a sprinkle of glitter, but it was covered in gook by the end, and didn't make a difference.

Whisk the water and corn starch together in your bin.
Add in the sand about 1/3 at a time and mix well with your (or your kid's) hands.

This moon sand was very resistant, and it surprised her how hard she had to press to make an imprint.

 Because I made this a little more watery than regular moon sand, it had the qualities of a suspension. When rolled or pressed, it was a solid, but would liquify if you held it still.  Now that it has dried out a bit, it is more like wet beach sand.  (Adding more water would bring it back to suspension.)

Guess what?  It doesn't taste good.  If my child had any concept of cause and effect, she'd have regretted eating it the next day, when I had to change her "beachy" diaper.

It does not bounce.  But I'm glad she is still repeating the drop experiment!
Note to self - next bin should bounce.  (Actually, dried beans bounce surprisingly high...)


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V. has a ton of puzzles.  She has shape sorters.  We even have this awesome stacking toy that has interlocking pieces that her uncle (an avid puzzler) gave her, and she loves them all.  She's like me in that regard, and I'm like my father.  We love puzzles.  (My mother admits that puzzles make her want to cut all the pieces apart until they fit together.)

Soon I'll write a review of V.'s iPad apps, because she has enough to actually do that.  But what about real-world puzzle solving?  How do you build those skills?

My father and I used to play this game.  I waited years to have a kid that I could play this game with, and although she is young, my time has come.

 The Lego Treat Trap.

My father would build Lego boxes and hide a treat somewhere inside.  As I got older they became more difficult to deconstruct to get to the treat.

Since my daughter was just barely 15 months old when I did this (I know, I'm a slacker at posting) I made it a one-chamber box with a door.  I let her watch me build it, too.  (I'm so kind.)

The door was smaller than the treat, though.  (Not the one on the ground.  That was from a previous build.)

Usually when things don't fit together or have the outcome she expected, V. starts to yell.  But this time, she tried her way for 3 minutes, sat there and steamed for a minute, and then took another approach.  One of the coolest things is to watch the wheels in a kid's head turn.  It is one reason why I love teaching so much.

Ah-ha!  The lid!

She took off the top and retrieved her cookie.  She also took the entire box apart to make sure I didn't hide anything else in there.  (I think her Papa tipped her off on how this game works.  She knows my future plans.)

 Victory is sweet.

And because she is not unkind, she fed some to her babies as well.

Sensory bins: Ice, ice, baby.

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I planned on making the Glory, Glory, Hallelujah dessert durring nap time.

Of course, nap time did not go as planned that day, and I had a toddler who wanted nothing more than to hang off my bones.  I had just removed the beans sensory bin, and needed something for her - fast.

It was 90 degrees out.  I dumped half the ice we had in the freezer into the bin and called it a day.

She LOVED it.  The puppy was also very appreciative when I took the used bin and put it in her bowl - puppy loves ice cubes.  This turned out to be perfect for a hot day and a great solution to a quick bin.  (I'll post what is in our bin now, soon, and you'll see why I didn't want to mix it before making dessert. The "kiddie" corner of the kitchen is a hot mess currently.)

Ice was so popular, I thought about turning it into art.  (I keep meaning to make colored ice cubes for her kiddie pool or the tub... I just never get to it.)

This was fast and fun.  Take any ice cube tray (the puzzle pieces are from Ikea) and put a dollop of paint into each.  

 Mix with water and freeze.

I love that they link together.  At this point I wished I had made both trays, just so I could play with a puzzle set. (I know.  My inner nerd is showing.)

And she painted.  Wouldn't you know, it came out looking just like a water color painting!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah! Ice Box Cake

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Last weekend it was hot.  We spent every daylight hour weeding, planting, training the puppy, chasing the toddler, all outside, soaking up the sun.

My in-laws had been visiting my brother-in-law in Ecuador, and were returning on Sunday.  I volunteered to make dinner, so they didn't need to come home at 8 pm and think about food.  (Nobody wants to do that.)

The A. family dessert is ice cream Snickers bars.  I'm pretty sure you can't take the last name without accepting that these are singlehandedly the most perfect hot-day dessert available in the U.S. of A., so I thought I would go ahead and make Snickers bon-bons.  Note that the above picture does not feature anything resembling a Snickers bar, frozen or otherwise.

(They would have been delicious if my drawer freezer could actually freeze something.  The mess of caramel, peanuts, and semi-formed Brigham's ice cream balls was very tasty.)

Plan B was strawberry shortcake, but it was just. too. hot.

That is when I decided to make an "ice box" cake by today's standards.  An "ice box" by Mr. Popper's standards was a metal box you placed a cube of ice into to create a refrigerator.  I wanted something colder.

I decided to take the components of strawberry shortcake and layer them in a loaf pan, freeze it (best my freezer can) and call it dessert.

There are the ingredients and most of the materials:
one well-lined loaf pan
lady fingers (that is one package, or 24 fingers)
1 pint of blueberries
1 container of strawberries, sliced
heavy whipping cream
cinnamon sugar
Really, you could use any berries you like.  This is just what I had, and it made a beautifully patriotic cake.

Whip the cream with some vanilla and cinnamon sugar.  (Taste it to get it right.)

The idea is simple.  You layer the ingredients.  The first layer will be the top of your cake, so make it count.  The rest, do what you will.  I used only strawberries on my first layer.  (Done on a bigger scale and for a summer patriotic holiday, I might be Martha enough to attempt a flag.)

Then just keep layering.  My order was strawberries, whipped cream, lady fingers and blue berries, whipped cream, some more strawberries, cream, lady fingers, cream, blueberries, cream, fingers... it all got jumbled.  It was still delicious.

Freeze for at least 2 hours, but would be fine for a day or two, and invert and remove when ready to serve.

I pulled this out of the freezer and my mother-in-law said "Glory, glory, hallelujah!"
Now, she's from the south.  Having known her for over five years and having lived in the south for two, exclamations like this no longer phase me.  (Before the Tar Heels chased the Yankee out of me, it would have made scenes from Deliverance flash in my mind.)  But no, she wasn't just as excited about this dessert as I was (I mean, come on, it is frozen whipped cream!) but that is what her mother, Grandma Mary, used to call it.  I had unintentionally resurrected an old family treat, lovingly named Glory, Glory, Hallelujah.
Phone picture.  Sorry.

Enjoy!  I will say that this one loaf pan made about 10 servings.  It is delicious, but one of those things where a little bit goes a long way.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Dog Treats, Baby Treats, it is all the same...

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I'm still here.  As it turns out, parenting a toddler and puppy takes all of my time and energy.  I'm up to two cups of coffee a day, which is big for me.

I have about a million posts, in picture form, on my computer.  I'll get them up some day.  (Or I'll spend that day reading and taking a bath...)

This one is from last month, when we first got our puppy.  We bought the best puppy treats - all natural, no filler, 3 1/2 calories per treat (really, that is an advertised point on the treat bag...) just in case our baby got ahold of them.

And she did.  Over and over and over... and the kibble.  I can not keep her out of the kibble.

I'm a good cook.  V. loves my cooking.  Just as I was starting to wonder if it was an issue of her not having taste buds or them being that good, I realized it was that the puppy was getting them and she was not.  Pure sibling jealousy.  I am so glad we got a puppy before having another baby, because her jealousy is strong, as is her right hook.

Solution: Treats that are puppy and baby friendly.

These are super easy, and the dough is like play-do, so if you have a kid that can help, please do.

Pets Web MD says that sugar is very bad for dogs.  You know, I'm not sure, so I figured I'd avoid it.

Here is what I did.  I hope to experiment with more flavors and find a crunchier recipe when I have time.  (Ha. HA.  Hahahahhahahha.)

Preheat oven to 375.  I did one batch on a lined cookie sheet, one off, and really, it didn't matter.  Line some cookie sheets if you want.  Or don't.

In a bowl mix:

2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder

Then fold in:
1 cup peanut butter (crunchy or smooth - we used Teddy Bear Natural - no sugar)
a healthy squirt of honey - I used about 1 tbsp and will likely double it next time
1 c. milk

Someone found the peanut butter jar...

Then just keep kneading.
When it resembles crumbly play-do, turn it out on the counter and

Elephant optional.
Roll the dough 1/4 inch thick, and place on a baking sheet.  I cut out big hearts, then smaller hearts from the center (and all extra dough).  Big cookies for the toddler, little ones for the puppy.  

 Baking time will completely depend on what size cookie cutter you used.  The bigger hearts took about 10 minutes, and the bites about 6.  Because it is peanut butter, they will burn quickly.  The best I can tell you is keep a close eye on it, and if you smell them, look at them.

Then teach everyone to sit, stay, and lay down!

Puppy Approved

Kid Approved

And this is how that cooking adventure ended:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Delicious Turkey Cornbread Bake

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This is not my recipe.  I got it from a mommy friend who got it from a mommy friend... and it is the perfect mommy weekday dinner: quick, easy, healthy.

You will need:

1 lb ground turkey (I used extra-lean turkey breast)
1 box of corn bread mix (and whatever used to prepare it - Jiffy is 1/3c milk and 1 egg)
1 packet of taco seasoning (I used the Chipolte-flavored.  You could use homemade mix, too.) 
1 can of black beans, drained (14oz)
1 can of corn, drained (14oz) 
2 small or 1 large summer squash
1/2 c. cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  

Mix the taco seasoning and turkey together.  Brown turkey in a skillet. Add beans and a little water if needed.  (I added 1/4c.) 

While the meat is browning, prepare the corn bread batter, following the directions on the box.  Stir in the corn and most of the cheese.

In a glass pan mix meat and summer squash together.  Top with the corn bread mixture.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese on and bake until corn bread is cooked through, about 15 minutes if the cornbread mix is about 1/4 inch thick.  Keep an eye on it.

I put hot sauce on mine, and we all had seconds.  Husband requested this to be a "once every other week" dish.  

Salsa or a can of diced tomatoes would have worked nicely in this as well, but it really isn't needed.