Thursday, March 27, 2008

Easter Ideas

My daughter's birthday was on Easter this year, which I guess won't happen for another 220 years. That's a good thing, because with Easter, a birthday, and a party, it has been busy! So yeah, this post is way late for Easter '08, but I'd much rather you consider it early for '09. :)

Abi shares a birthday with a friend, and we made this for her - a paper mache egg with a stuffed animal chick. It was so much fun, that we made more little eggs as party favors.


What You'll Need: Balloon, newspaper, large bowl, water, flour, paint, paintbrush, goodies.

What To Do: Tear newspaper into strips. Mix flour and water together to make a paste. Blow up a balloon, and cover it with strips of newspaper dipped in the flour and water paste. Cover the balloon completely. Allow it to dry for a day or 2, turning it occasionally during that time.

If you're going to try this, here's something I learned....

I made two batches of little eggs, and at this point, I tried two different methods. The first time, I cut the egg, filled with goodies, and taped shut before painting and found that the egg stayed closed better. For the second batch, I painted the egg before cutting inside to add the goodies and found the egg looked prettier, but the tape didn't stick as well.

When the balloon is dry, paint it in bright, decorative colors. We painted a little everyday for about a week...

My five year old loved dividing all the goodies into equal piles for each party guest.

Tying them up with yarn was great shoe tying practice!

Here are some of our eggs in different stages of the process!

This may be a new Easter tradition for us. It was a really fun and creatively forgiving project. We reused some old newspapers and really created something out of not much at all! The girls LOVED opening their eggs to reveal surprises.

Another (less messy) Easter alternative is filling plastic eggs with stickers, candy, pictures, and small trinkets. Use the same plastic eggs year after year.

Or, you could make salt clay dough ornaments. Have the kids use Spring cookie cutters to make bunny rabbits, butterflies, or flowers. Before cooking the dough, use a chop stick or toothpick to poke a hole so that you can hang your ornaments by a ribbon. Here's the
recipe and directions.

Hope you're having a spectacular Spring! I'll be bunny blog hopping soon...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Candy Balls

These balls of energy are easy to make and quite a popular snack around here!

You'll need:
1 medium banana
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
1 tablespoon milled flax seed (optional)
your choice of toppings like chopped nuts, mini chocolate chips, shredded coconut, cranberries, or raisins

Here's how:
In a medium bowl, mash together the banana and peanut butter. Stir in the wheat germ and flax seed. Roll individual tablespoons of the mixture into balls, then roll the balls in your choice of topping. Chill until firm, or like my kids do, eat them right away!

My choice toppings: coconut, mini semi-sweet chips, goji berries, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and crushed cashews

Girl's choice toppings: mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, and mini semi-sweet M&M's. (Chocolate and more chocolate!!)

Their toppings were bulk bin finds, and doubtfully vegan. Veganism is my vice. My job is to find ways to get my veggie girls to eat nutritiously. This one worked! Adjust your toppings accordingly.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

More Recent Eats (hits & misses)

'Corn Muffins' with blueberries from The Joy of Vegan Baking. I used flaxseed instead of Ener-G egg replacer and vanilla flavored soy milk. The recipe doesn't specify, but I think I shouldn't have drained the can of corn, as the mixture was quite thick making the muffins dense. I liked them well enough, but the girls didn't.
Does anyone else listen to Colleen's podcast, Compassionate Cooks? They are super informative & interesting.

That chocolate craving hit us, so I endorsed a batch of 'Bitchtastic Brownies' because the recipe was printed in VegNews (#60) and also because "Skinny Bitch" is in my purse for reading on the go. This picture depicts the best part of our brownies -- scraping down the bowl and licking the spatula. Did I make a mistake? Was that a recipe misprint? The batter seemed runny with 3/4 cup silken tofu plus oil, and only a 1/3 cup flour. Whatever the reason, our brownies resembled gooey fudge, which Liv enjoyed with a spoon until I said "No more."

I love cooking with my crock-pot, so naturally, I was most excited to come across this page of recipes from VegCooking. I followed this recipe exactly for the 'Crock-Pot Chili' adding the optional veggie burger crumbles (Morning Star).
Verdict? Let's just say that If I were going to a chili cook-off tomorrow, this is what I'd making tonight! With a couple minor adjustments like more red pepper flakes, and Art requested sauteed seitan on top next time.

Here's the finishing touches for another recipe from this month's VegNews (#60) 'Irish Soda Bread' by Robin Robertson. This was a quick bread to make from scratch and delicious, too.

Perfect for soaking up chili.

The bread was served warm with a slather of Earth Balance, alongside the chili, topped with a dollop of vegan sour cream, parsley from my AeroGarden, and a ring of steamed kale.

We enjoyed this meal very much! The girls wouldn't touch this meal with a ten-foot pole, but I have high hopes!

Scanning the freezer reminded me that we still had lots of fresh-frozen cherries from last summer. I spotted a blueberry cobbler recipe in The Joy of Vegan Baking, subbed in my cherries, and before you know it, we were eating 'Cherry Cobbler' like it was July.

Taking the skin off garlic is one of Liv's favorite ways to help in the kitchen. This one gave us an extra lesson on how things grow... For example, did you know dinosaurs are the same color as garlic shoots?!

Finally, I couldn't resist making 'White Bean and Kale Soup' which won "Best Soup" in Vegetarian Times', March '08 issue. It was flavorful with yams, great Northern beans, kale, & curry powder -- though it called for smoked paprika, which I can not find anywhere in town. Suppose smoked paprika has penetrated the Idaho state border? Questionable. I should probably just take Julie's advice and visit Penzey's.