Easy Mini Pain Au Chocolat

I made this for our book club after we read Barbara O’Neal’s: How to Bake a Perfect Life. I wanted to give at least on of the recipes a go and not being patient enough to let bread rise unless it’s in my bread maker, this was perfect. These are fast, easy and can be served as a dessert or breakfast pastry!

Easy Mini Pain Au Chocolat
2 pastry sheets (thawed)
Chocolate (chips, bars, etc)
1 egg
1 Tbsp water

1. Cut sheets into 12 squares each
2. Beat egg & water
3. Glaze top of pastry sheets
4. Roll chocolate (2 squares/few chips – what will fit) diagonally into squares (glaze will be inside)
5. Place seam down on cookie sheet (with parchment paper or lightly greased)
6. Brush top w/ remaining egg mixture
7. Bake at 400 degrees 15 min. or until golden brown
8. Let sit 5 min, serve warm

Guten!

Heather

For more information/recipes on/from Barbara O’Neal, visit: http://www.barbaraoneal.com/

Turkey Pot Pie

I hosted my book club’s 4th anniversary meeting last night and knew I wanted to spend more time talking than in the kitchen. This pot pie is SOOO easy!

To add a homemade touch, I opted out of a second pie crust for the top and made a Biscuit Topper found in the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook of 1967 (my favorite).

*I didn’t have anything thawed, you can put it together frozen and keep in freezer. Just make the biscuit topper later. You can cook frozen. I’d bake for 20 min, add the topper and then bake an additional 20 min.

Turkey Pot Pie:
1/2 C Milk
1C Cubed Turkey/Chicken
1 9oz pkg frozen mixed veggies (thawed)
1 pie crust (thawed)
1 can crm of chicken soup (condensed)

1. Pour veggies and meat into pie crust
2. Mix soup & milk and pour over
3. Make biscuit topper (below)
4. Bake 10 min at 400 degrees
5. Add biscuit topper and bake an additional 20 min.

Biscuit Topper
1. Sift following together
1 C Flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2. Cut in 1/4 C butter until crumbly
3. mix 1/4 C milk and slightly beaten egg
4. add to mix and stir just to moisten

 

Guten!

Heather

Rock Themed Birthday Party

I don’t mean, rock as in music, but actually rocks ūüôā

Every year, I try to come up with a theme for little one’s birthday based on actual interest, rather than fad. My daughter has a thing about rocks. If she sees them in landscaping, she ALWAYS has to pick one up. She likes big small and all colors. We even have a piece of asphault (or street rock) in our house! So, when it came time for party planning, I ran with it!

Invitations
I like to send out invitations, but not necessarily write on each one. I played on words with and added a simple gem chart I found online.¬†I made a template (4 per page)¬† and had them printed at Kinko’s.

After cutting smaller quadrants, I pasted (with a glue stick) onto card stock I had also quartered – my paper cutter came in very handy. I punched 2 holes and cut ribbon about the width of the invite.

To get the flat bow, put both ends through holes from front and pull taught in back. Cross the ends in back and re-enter through holes. It’s that easy!

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Decorations
Becaue there was no color theme for this party, I reused a DIY banner from her previous birthdays and finally put to use a tablecloth, plates and silverware I already had on hand. Very low maintenance and cost!

Food
I went all out for her 1st birthday food-wise and have since shifted to an afternoon snack. Wanting to spend my energy on other pieces for the party, I opted for pre-prepped fruit tray and veggie tray. I also served cheese and crackers and pretzel chips and hummus.

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To stick with the rock theme, I put bottled water in a cooler and labeled it “Mineral Water.” I bought Capri Suns, a variety of soda and bottled water at Costco, however, I had a LOT left over and may re-evaluate next time as these are items we don’t typically have at home.

Finally, we had to have a cake! I knew time would be a premium, so I opted for one cake with accompanying cupcakes.

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I baked a boxed Funfetti cake and frosted it in brown. To make the “dirt,” we crushed oreos (with creme) and sprinkeled on top. To keep it “girly” I sprinkled some purple sugar all over the dirt. I bought some rock candy for the edges, but there weren’t enough, so I inprovised with Hershey’s¬†Cookies and Creme bites. To make the geode, we shaved the edge of a cupcake, frosted with purple and sprinkled purple sugar in the center for depth. We made gray frosting with a few blue, red and yellow drops of food coloring and frosted the edges.

My daughter loves purple and green, so I made purple cupcakes and the kit came with green and black sprinkles!

Activities
I wanted to ensure the kids could play at the park, but the activities we had planned were aligned with the rock theme, of course!

I purchased geodes from Oriental Trading Company that would be hammered open and kept. They worked well, but some were definitely prettier than others. Using a sock to contain debris was a great suggestion, though be warned, there will be holes afterwards.

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I saw a rock painting kit at Costco. This was perfect and the kids loved it, but be warned – the paint was NOT water based! Also, it was very difficult to find the right sized rocks – best bet is a landscaping shop. The rocks did dry quickly in the sun and we sprayed them with craft glue to seal them.

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Favors

I wanted to have a pet box (with breathing holes) to take, but couldn’t find any. I found the colorful boxes below on clearance at Hobby Lobby and stuck blank address labels on each one¬†so¬†the kids (or parents) could put their names on it. Each had a small toy and a rock candy lollipop purchased at Oriental Trading Company. After the activites, the pet rock and geodes were added.

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Party Girl Outfit

I played on the rocker theme and dressed her up as a Rock Star. I bought a shirt and some iron ons from Hobby Lobby. They had an iron on for “Rocks,” so I just eliminated the “s.” I also got some stars, so the front read Rock Star. I also got a “3” that I put on her back like a team number. I paired that with her purple tutu and Daddy found some pink star pants she already had…perfect!

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Rock On!

Living Large in the Middle,

Heather

How to Fold a Discovery Princess Play Castle

These are supposed to be so easy, but we have spent plenty of time trying to make this adorable tent fold up into the circular case it came into!

My daughter loves to play in the castle and lovingly refers to it as her “Baby House.” She’ll set up her kitchen (an old diaper box), pots, pans, baby bed. She’ll bring down her chair and even set out a welcome mat with a tree out front (aka the pineapple she does not enjoy touching).

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When it comes time to clean up, it’s all pretty easy, we flip the stove upside down and pile most of the items into it – including the castle where it can be stored in her closet for next time.

The tricky part comes to folding the castle. I’ve googled and was not able to find a good instructional video, so below are two methods I use – hope this save you from frustration!

Method 1

  • This is what is similar to the written instructions that I have a 50/50 success rate with.
  • Grab the collapsed tent (both rings) and twist both hands in different directions as the tent circles up.
  • Slide elastic band around to secure and slide into case with the poles inside, as well.

Method 2

This is a bit more complex, but seems to work pretty well for me. When the easy way out (method 1) becomes impossible.

  • Collapse the tent and flip over so bottom is on top
  • Grab bottom ring only on either side and bring your hands together (no twisting) Don’t let it pop in
  • You’ll see a piece that wants to curve counter clockwise near your hands, take that and twist in that direction. It will turn under the other side.
  • The piece on the other side of the initial pinch will curve and be placed UNDER the other two rings created.
  • The bottom ring should be folded now.
  • Turn castle over (I put my knee on the bottom ring to keep it form springing out again).
  • Repeat above steps for top piece.
  • Slide elastic band around to secure and slide into case with the poles inside, as well.

Living Large in the Middle,

Heather

Cow Costume in a Night

Last year, for Halloween, I had 3 hand-me-down costumes for my daughter. When I asked her what she wanted to be (not expecting an answer, as she was 2), she simply replied: a cow. I continued to ask over the next few weeks and the response remained the same. Of course the costumes I had were a tiger, elephant and ladybug.

As I sifted through the leftover retail costumes as week before the holiday, my thoughts of finding a cow to buy dwindled. So, this is what I did.

I bought a white fluffy blanket and black jacket with a hood (both on clearance at TJ Maxx) and 4 squares of felt (3 black, 1 pink). I also dug up an old cat costume I used in college.

I laid out the jacket (hood up) and placed the blanket folded in half diagonally over it with the long folded edge lined up with the shoulders.

I made a mark on each side of the neck to align with the jacket and cut a shallow curve out of the blanket between the marks to make a cape of sorts

I cut spots out of the felt and hand sewed them (very crudely) onto the blanket randomly. Next, I pinned the cat tail to the back and added a flower embellishment.

Lucky for me, the jacket I bought already had cute ears on it, so I cut triangles out of the pink felt and sewed them into the middle of the existing ears.

I dressed her in black pants, socks and shoes. Because she’d have the jacket and cape on, the t-shirt didn’t really matter, but I added a Halloween one for the day.

The only thing left to do was to put it all together. I put on the jacket and cape and, voila! A cow.

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Halloween, is pretty chilly around here, so she was nice and toasty, but you could easily tone it down with the materials you use. Maybe a black long sleeved shirt or just a white jacket. Ears could be placed on a headband instead of a hood. Either way – it was a piece of cake to make!

Living large in the middle,

Heather