Archive for the ‘My Work’ Category

Mrs. Butterworth Sweet-Stakes Giveaway & Gluten-Free Overnight Waffles

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Mrs. Butterworth Sweet-Stakes Giveaway

*This post is sponsored by Mrs. Butterworth

I am excited to share with you that I have partnered with Mrs. Butterworth today for a fun family prize pack giveaway and to share about their sweet-stakes they are hosting for their fans through April 30th!  Lucky for us, I am not only giving away a prize pack for our MomAdvice readers, but I am showing you a fun new recipe you can try to put that wonderful prize pack to work in your kitchen.

Mrs. Butterworth Sweet-Stakes Giveaway

This month, Mrs. Butterworth’s has teamed up with Busch Gardens to generate some more fun around the dinner table. They have launched a Family Fun Sweet-stakes where you can enter to win a trip to one of the Busch Garden parks.  You can read all about their fun contest here! This contest inspired me so much that I knew I had to head to my kitchen and create something in honor of it.

I have always been a syrup-loving girl. For years, we have made it a family tradition to indulge in, what we lovingly call, “Jazzy Sunday.” Jazzy Sunday amounts to throwing on a few jazz records and making waffles and pancakes drenched in syrup for a delicious Sunday brunch.

With eating gluten-free, I have found that it takes a lot of practice to replicate my favorite pancake and waffle recipes.  I began to think about the fluffiest waffles I had ever made and it was an overnight waffle recipe that my best friend shared with me years ago. I started wondering if I could replicate this with a gluten-free waffle recipe. Low and behold, after a few experiments, I found it is possible to make fluffy-as-air waffles with the overnight technique of warm milk, frothy yeast, and easy all-purpose gluten-free flour.

The batter is still dense, but it yields a fluffy waffle that no one will ever know is missing the gluten. When topped with fresh berries and Mrs. Butterworth’s Syrup, it is truly a Sunday treat that will make your own, “Jazzy Sunday,” complete.

Mrs. Butterworth Sweet-Stakes Giveaway

In honor of this fun contest, Mrs. Butterworth’s gave me a Family Fun Breakfast Kit that include goodies from Mrs. Butterworth’s and Busch Gardens, as well as jungle animal-themed pancake pans, perfect for the explorer in the family. If you don’t win it here though, they will also be giving away a Family Fun Breakfast kits every two weeks during this contest so there are some great chances you can win there too!

Enter our giveaway of one Family Fun Breakfast Kit using our Rafflecopter widget below and let us know one of your favorite breakfast traditions and LIKE Mrs. Butterworth’s for an additional entry! I will be selecting one winner on April 3rd so be sure to get those entries in! Grab the recipe for Gluten-Free Overnight Waffles below! 

Gluten-Free Overnight Waffles

Mrs. Butterworth Sweet-Stakes Giveaway & Gluten-Free Overnight Waffles
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
A light, fluffy, and super delicious overnight waffle recipe that is also gluten-free!
Ingredients
  • 2¼ cups milk (or dairy substitute)
  • 2.25 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter (1 stick)
  • 2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour (I used Better Batter in this)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla, gluten-free
Instructions
  1. Warm milk and butter in a medium saucepan over low heat just until the butter melts.
  2. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Once to a lukewarm temperature, add dry yeast and sugar to the milk and let sit until the yeast is bubbly, about 5 minutes.
  3. Pour the liquid into a large container with a tight fitting lid.
  4. Add the salt and flour, mixing until smooth.
  5. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature overnight (don't refrigerate).
  6. When you are ready to cook the waffles, preheat waffle griddle, stir in the beaten eggs, baking soda and vanilla.
  7. Pour ⅔ cup of the batter on the griddle (or enough to cover the surface) and bake until golden.
  8. Serve with fresh fruit and Mrs. Butterworth’s Syrup.
Recipe Slightly Adapted from About.com.

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How to Dye Plastic Eggs

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

How to Dye Plastic Eggs

Did you know that you can paint and dye plastic eggs that look like real eggs? Me either! Today I am showing off our ideas for decorating plastic eggs and (even more importantly!) how to get all that dye off of your hands.

How to Dye Plastic Eggs

I partnered with Walmart on today’s project to showcase a new egg that has made its way on store shelves that are simply called, “Plastic Decorating Eggs,” made by Paper Magic and they retail for, $1.97 for a dozen eggs. I found mine over by the other egg decorating supplies tucked away on the top of our shelf.

How to Dye Plastic Eggs How to Dye Plastic Eggs

What Do We Love About the Plastic Decorating Eggs?

I love decorating eggs with my kids, but when we do it, I wish that I could keep them longer without them spoiling or needing refrigeration. We also ran into instances of little hands being excited to dump their eggs in the dye, often resulting in cracked eggs.

These new eggs can be found over in the seasonal section of the store and are made from 100% recyclable plastic. Unlike the shiny brightly colored eggs we use for our egg hunts, these almost feel like a wooden egg with a brushed exterior, yet are lightweight since they are made from a lightweight plastic. There is a small seam that can be seen in my close-up pictures, but it does not break open like the neon plastic eggs.

 

Each kit comes with 12 eggs, 12 paper stands, and a dipper.

How to Dye Plastic Eggs How to Dye Plastic Eggs How to Dye Plastic Eggs

How Do You Decorate Your Plastic Eggs?

We tried a couple of different techniques with the plastic eggs. One involved our favorite Kool-Aid dying technique and the other method incorporated the 24k Eggs & Speckled Eggs kits (also found in the seasonal section).

When attempting our Kool-Aid dying we found that the eggs did not lend themselves well to being dunked, due to their lightweight plastic nature, and the dye did not adhere to our eggs. We tried our most vibrant shades and still the dye did not stick. We boosted our dye with 3 teaspoons of vinegar and only achieved the softest shade of coloring. If you have younger children, this can lead to some impatience, and the kids were ready to move on to the decorating kits we purchased.

Painting our eggs, however, yielded vibrantly beautiful eggs. We combined the sponge technique with the golden glaze, and let the kids create their own masterpieces. The colors stayed very true and bright. I would recommend utilizing one of the egg painting kits for these and Walmart does offer many different varieties and you can see lots of different examples over here of ideas for decorating them.

How to Dye Plastic Eggs How to Dye Plastic Eggs How to Dye Plastic Eggs How to Dye Plastic Eggs

Here are the eggs we created with our kits. Some of the most beautiful eggs actually resulted from dyed fingerprints that added color and texture to them. My daughter loved doing the speckled eggs, while my son painted his fully with a brush. We let them dry in the carton and they now have a spot in our front room in a bowl to be admired all season long.

Although I am lucky that my children do not suffer from any food allergies, these eggs would be perfect for a child that has an egg allergy and could have an allergic reaction to the eggs. 

I would recommend this kit for little hands that have a hard time handling delicate eggs, children with egg allergies, and moms that might like to keep their decorated eggs from year to year.

How to Remove Dye From Hands

That was a messy job so I am sharing our tried-and-true recipe for removing egg dye & paint off of your hands. We can attest to this formula as we may or may not have used everything in our house from rubbing alcohol to oil to try to figure out how to get the pesky dye of our hands. Smarter people might wear gloves while decorating. We risk it all for our art. That’s how we roll.

How to Remove Dye From Hands

1 squirt whitening toothpaste

1 squirt face or body exfoliant

1 squirt baby oil

Scrub well. Add a little water and continue scrubbing. Rinse. Repeat as necessary. Maybe three times if you look like a Smurf.

Looking for more Easter ideas? Check out this list of 21 Fun Easter Projects you can try with your kids!

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Have you tried the new dyeable plastic eggs? What do you think about them! Share your decorating ideas here!

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Get Your Home Organized With Goodwill

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Get Your Home Organized With Goodwill

At the beginning of the year, I get the strong urge to donate everything in my house and start fresh. I am also always on the hunt to find new strategies for organization in my home that don’t cost a lot. Thankfully at Goodwill, you can organize your home and declutter it all at one store!

Today I am featuring some great ideas for organization from commonly found items at their store. I am so inspired by these bloggers that I have a trip to Goodwill planned for myself this week to try to snag a few of these items.

Head on over to the Goodwill Blog to check out these easy thrift store organization solutions!

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Gluten-Free Pad Thai With Shrimp

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Gluten-Free Pad Thai With ShrimpWhen I went gluten-free I never realized how exciting it would be to recreate some of my favorite gluten-filled dishes at home. Today I am sharing a Gluten-Free Pad Thai with Shrimp recipe that you can create in your own kitchen and your guests will never know that this delicious dish is gluten-free!

This month Walmart challenged me to create a delicious Lent recipe that you could enjoy with your family. I am no stranger to creating fun dishes for the Lenten season. You can see last year’s round-up of 30 fish and meat-free meal ideas.

For this challenge, I wanted to recreate one of my favorite takeout dishes. Have you ever had Pad Thai? If you haven’t, you are in for a delicious treat. Pad Thai, according to Wikipedia, is a stir-fried rice noodle dish commonly served as a street food and at casual local eateries in Thailand. It is made with soaked dried rice noodles which are stir-fried with eggs and chopped firm tofu, fish sauce,  dried shrimp, garlic or shallots, red chili pepper and palm sugar, and served with lime wedges and often chopped roasted peanuts.

Gluten-Free Pad Thai With Shrimp

While I love the delicateness of the rice noodle, I prefer a more linguine-style noodle in this dish to balance the lightness of the shrimp and because these hold up well to a lot of reheating. Just like my chicken noodle soup I made last month, I am relying on the Tinkyada noodles to create this dish. You are looking for the Fettucini Style Pad Thai Noodles.

Be sure that you are using a gluten-free soy sauce and fish sauce. I rely upon the La Choy Lite Soy Sauce as my soy sauce substitute, but there are reports that some people have a reaction to this. I have not, but be sure to do your own research on what product will fit your gluten-free needs best.

Gluten-Free Pad Thai With Shrimp

The fun part about sharing this with your family and friends is that you can also create a variety of toppings so everyone can personalize their dish. I love roasted chopped peanuts, sriracha, fresh limes, and cilantro on mine.

I hope you love this dish as much as we did and can enjoy this during the Lent season…or any season, really! We polished this dish off in no time at all and I can’t wait to make it again. Thanks to these sturdy noodles, the dish reheats beautifully and can be eaten for your lunches or a late night snack!

Gluten-Free Pad Thai With Shrimp

Gluten-Free Pad Thai With Shrimp
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
A gluten-free Pad Thai dish that you can enjoy right in the comfort of your own home.
Ingredients
  • 1 package (14 ounces) Tinkyada Brown Rice Pad Thai Noodles
  • ⅓ cup fresh lime juice
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons gluten-free fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar or white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 8 ounces mushrooms
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 12 oz frozen peeled deveined medium shrimp, thawed (raw not cooked)
  • Sriracha Sauce (to taste)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped dry-roasted peanuts
  • ¼ cup firmly packed cilantro leaves
  • Lime Wedges
  • Sriracha Sauce
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook the noodles as directed on package. After they are done cooking, drain and rinse with cool water; set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in small bowl, stir lime juice, ⅓ cup water, the brown sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon of the oil until well mixed; set aside.
  3. In nonstick wok or 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil over medium heat. Cook shrimp for approximately three minutes and remove from pan; set aside. Next cook mushrooms and then set aside.
  4. Using the same oil, cook garlic for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly, until starting to brown. Add eggs. Cook about 2 minutes, stirring gently and constantly, until scrambled but still moist.
  5. Stir in noodles and lime juice mixture. Increase heat to high. Cook about 1 minute, tossing constantly with 2 wooden spoons, until sauce begins to thicken. Add remaining ingredients except cilantro. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, tossing with 2 wooden spoons, until noodles are tender.
  6. Place on serving platter. Sprinkle with cilantro. Garnish with additional chopped dry-roasted peanuts, and lime wedges.
 Recipe Adapted from Betty Crocker

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Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake from MomAdvice.com.

I am so excited to share a delicious Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake recipe that you can make using a simple boxed mix, a little food coloring, and a few odds & ends from your pantry. This Rainbow Cake is made in a tube pan, versus a layered cake, and is a fun addition to your St. Patrick’s Day spread.

Walmart challenged me to share a St. Patrick’s Day project that you could create out of items from their store. You may remember my rainbow cakes in a jar that I created a couple of years ago. Now that I am eating gluten-free, I wanted to replicate the idea of a rainbow cake, but I wanted to do it in one pan and I wanted to make it a quicker process by using a cake mix.

Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake from MomAdvice.com.Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake from MomAdvice.com.

To make a vibrantly colored cake, I want to point out that it is really important to use good icing colors to achieve your rainbow cake colors. Over by the party supplies, you will find professional cake decorating supplies at Walmart. You want to purchase the Wilton Icing Colors. These concentrated gels offer a much brighter color than what you will find over in the baking section of the grocery section. I just use a toothpick to dip in the gel and then swirl it through my cake batter. You may need to do this a couple of times to achieve this level of brightness, but it still will take a lot less than the other brands of food coloring.

Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake from MomAdvice.com.Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake from MomAdvice.com.

When I decided I wanted to make this cake, I went through tons of tons of cake recipes to figure out how to layer the batter. My inspiration for creating my rainbow arch was from not martha and her Leprechaun Trap Cake that she created a few years ago. Her arch is so much more beautiful than mine. I highly encourage you to read her tutorial for a perfect arch and read mine for a just meh arch. That being said, do prepare this in a tube pan versus a bundt pan to achieve the best arch. 

Do you have a digital scale? I highly recommend purchasing one because it will make projects like this a million times easier. I have had mine for many years and I use it for both weighing packages and as a food scale! Be sure to tare it with the bowl on top to begin your measurements each time.

I used the measurements outlined by not martha for measurements for my batter:

  • 6 ounces – red
  • 5 ounces – orange
  • 4 ounces – yellow
  • 3 ounces – green
  • 2 ounces – blue
  • 1 ounce – purple
  • The remainder of the rest of the batter, leave it white.

To scoop batter into the bowls, I relied upon an ice cream scoop to scoop it into the bowls on the scale. To make pouring the batter easier, place the cake batter in a baggie in a tall glass and hang the opening over the sides of your glass. Pour your batter in and then seal the baggie. Just snip a corner of the baggie to begin pouring your batter into the pan.

Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake from MomAdvice.com.

Gluten-free cakes tend to be more delicate so you definitely want to let this fully cool before trying to work with it. The side that has all the beautiful vibrant colors is not the top of the cake. It is the bottom of the cake. I accidentally iced this side so don’t make my mistake. If you find that your cake is puffy on the bottom, use a serrated knife to even it up a bit so your cake is not lopsided.

Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake from MomAdvice.com.Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake from MomAdvice.com.Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake from MomAdvice.com.

I posted a picture of this cake as I was glazing it on Instagram. To quote myself, “I never go easy on the sprinkles. I consider them the jazz hands on my desserts.”

Who quotes themselves? Sorry about that!

Glaze and sprinkle this cake liberally!

Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake from MomAdvice.com.Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake from MomAdvice.com.

I was disappointed that I had iced the wrong side and that my purple didn’t get perfectly centered. I think it is one of those cakes that might take a little more practice. My friends didn’t seem to notice or mind my errors though because this was one yummy cake! I doubt your kids would notice or care either. It might be a fun one to try together!

I hope you love it as much as we did and I hope this tutorial helps you while you make your own gluten-free rainbow cake!

Gluten-Free Rainbow Bundt Cake
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
A gluten-free rainbow cake perfect for celebrating St. Patrick's Day
Ingredients
  • 1 Hodgson Mill Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mix (over by the gluten-free ingredients in the candy aisle of your store, not in the baking aisle)
  • ½ cup butter softened
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 package of Wilton Gel Food Colorings
  • 1½ cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2½ teaspoons milk (or milk substitute)
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • Rainbow Sprinkles
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube pan liberally with cooking spray.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream butter until soft. Add cake mix and blend completely.
  3. Add eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla extract and beat until completely blended. The batter will be thick.
  4. Divide your batter into eight bowls using the measurements in this post and tint accordingly.
  5. First pour the larger amount of white batter into the pan. Then pour the red batter in, making it a wide ring of batter. Then pour the orange over that, keeping it inside the red. Pour in each color, creating smaller and smaller rings.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, testing with a toothpick to check when the cake is done.
  7. Once the cake is cooled, prepare your icing.
  8. Melt the butter and add to rest of ingredients. Mix until creamy.
  9. Spoon the glaze over your cake and finish with rainbow sprinkles.

Enjoy this tasty treat with a DIY Shamrock Shake and our free St. Patrick’s Day straw printable!

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Gluten-Free Pancakes (With A Better Batter Coupon Code)

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Gluten-Free Pancakes from MomAdvice.com.

If there is one thing this girl loves, it is pancakes. Today I am sharing a recipe for gluten-free pancakes that taste as light and fluffy as our gluten-filled variety, but are perfect for creating for those who cannot tolerate gluten.

Gluten-Free Pancakes from MomAdvice.com.

Fluffy gluten-free pancakes are easier to create than you might think, it just requires the right measurements, a good flour, and a little milk on hand if your batter gets too thick. Before we made the switch to gluten-free, I loved to throw wheat germ into our hearty wheat-filled pancake. No wonder I felt so awful after our Sunday brunches!

Now we have substituted our wheat love-fest with flax seed in our pantry for our pancakes and energy bites, a deliciously healthy addition to just about anything, and still get that taste and texture that I love.  As with all my favorite pancake recipes, it is laced with cinnamon and vanilla while these pancakes get their sweetness from a little honey.

Gluten-Free Pancakes from MomAdvice.com.When I first discovered that I had to go gluten-free, my best friend recommended a book called, “Gluten-Free on a Shoestring.” (affiliate link) I treated myself to the cookbook for Christmas and loved that the author relied upon one all-purpose mix to make almost all of her recipes.

I placed my first order for Better Batter after reading it and started testing recipes with this cup-for-cup substitute shortly after buying it. None of us could believe how good everything had tasted and with very little adjustments in our favorite family recipes.

I immediately wrote the company and asked if they might be interested in a partnership. I truly believe in their product and how it can help beginner gluten-free chefs overcome their difficulties with baking. Not only did they send me some products for our recipes, but they also are offering valuable coupon codes for our readers to try their flour too.

Not only does the flour perform well, but it is much more affordable than other flours on the market. You can even buy their product in bulk to snag additional savings.

What are the Ingredients In This Flour?

The flour I have featured today is an an all-purpose flour substitute that you can use as a cup-for-cup substitute in your recipes. The packaging states that it contains: Rice flour, brown rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, potato flour, xanthan gum, and pectin (lemon derivative). It is the blend of these flours that makes it such a great performer in baking recipes. I hope that helps!

How Can I Save Money On This Flour?

I truly believe you will love this flour and am so excited that Better Batter is sharing some coupon codes with our readers to help them save even more. This month you can use the coupon code XNF6EBYK4JRT for $8 off ANY SIZE ORDER.

That’s right, I said ANY SIZE! 

I hope you can take advantage of the savings and can enjoy a stack of these delicious pancakes in your home!

Gluten-Free Pancakes from MomAdvice.com.

Gluten-Free Pancakes
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
You won't even miss the gluten with this delicious pancake recipe. Be sure to double your recipe so you can enjoy these all week long!
Ingredients
  • 2 cups Better Batter All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons flax (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten & at room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2½ cups milk (or milk substitute)
Instructions
  1. Heat your griddle or nonstick pan and coat generously with butter.
  2. In a large bowl, place the flour, baking powder, baking soda, flax, cinnamon, and salt in and whisk to combine.
  3. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add the eggs, butter and milk, one at a time, blending well after each addition. Add vanilla and honey and continue to mix until the batter comes together and there are no lumps.
  4. Working quickly, ladle the pancake batter on the griddle surface, and allow to sit until bubbles begin to appear on the surface (2 to 3 minutes). Flip and continue cooking for another 1 to 2 minutes, or until the underside is browned.
  5. Remember that your batter thickens as it stands and may require more milk to keep your batter in a pourable consistency.
  6. Serve with fresh fruit and maple syrup.

 

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How to Find & Write Pen Pals

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

How to Find & Write Pen Pals

Pen Pals are a beautiful thing in a digital age where pen, paper, the process of writing, and waiting are so hard in our fast moving culture. Today I wanted to share about our experience with finding and writing pen pals that I hope will inspire you to find a pen pal of your own for your child after hearing about our experience.

How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals

Walmart challenged me to come up with a fun Spring Break activity for kids and finding a pen pal for my children is something that I have thought a lot about doing. We found items in their office supplies section like writing tablets (for big and small children), pretty note cards, and freshly sharpened pencils. With these arsenal of tools, we are now ready to begin a new adventure for our kids.

How Do You Find a Pen Pal?

Finding a pen pal is oh-so-easy thanks to social networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I posted on my Facebook page that we were looking for children in our child’s age range that did not live in the United States to be pen pals with. Within minutes, we had many people replying about friends and family that lived in other countries with kids just around our age.

Of course, if finding someone living out of the states is harder to come by in your inner circle, consider just finding families that live in other parts of the United States. A child shivering in the polar vortex of Indiana, for example, might find a child’s life in Florida or California quite inspiring!

How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals

Encourage Your Child to Craft a Great Letter

Writing letters not only improves our vocabulary and spelling, but it also helps teach children about the give and take of conversation.

Talk with your child about crafting a great introduction about themselves and how to weave in questions to find out more about their new pen pal. When my daughter asked me if her pen pal had glasses, I told her that this would be a great question to ask her so she could look forward to her response.

How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals

Have Your Child Explore Their Pen Pal’s Town

It is easier than ever to learn more about where someone else lives thanks to Google’s Street View and Wikipedia. Although there was no street view for our pen pal, who resides in Greece, we were able to take a peek at pictures of landmark items in her country and read facts about where she lived.

Knowing information like this helps to build those initial letters as you get to know more about each other.

How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals

Send Your Letters Off

Once we were done writing our letter, we got to practice addressing an envelope and then added a few decorative touches to the back of our envelope for our new friend.

Although we ran our letter out to our mailbox at home, a great Spring Break activity might be to take that letter to the post office and make it feel even more, “official,” when sending it.

Now we must wait patiently for our response from our new friend and when she writes back, it will be a happy day, indeed!

How to Find & Write Pen Pals

I hope this inspires you to find a few pen pals of your own. And as double inspiration, here is my childhood pen pal. We met at church camp and became best friends through our letters back and forth. I remember that sweet anticipation of the mail dropping through the mail slot of our home and ripping them open to read, then reread, then reread again the precious words from my friend. 25 whopping years later, she is still my best friend for life.

I already told Emily to save her money and hopefully she will have a friend like that in her pen pal who she can visit someday! You just never know- we certainly never did! I shall be very jealous of her trips to Greece, should that happen!

Here’s a little video we put together of Emily’s first pen pal letter! I hope you enjoy it and I would love to hear if you had a pen pal and what they meant to you?

 

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DIY Shamrock Shake Recipe (And Free Straw Printables)

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

DIY Shamrock Shake Recipe (And Free Straw Printables)

DIY Shamrock Shake Recipe (And Free Straw Printables)

DIY Shamrock Shake Recipe (And Free Straw Printables)

St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner!  This holiday makes me want to indulge in one of my all-time favorite treats… the oh-so-delicious Shamrock Shake. You don’t have to swing by your local fast food joint to indulge though because I have the recipe to this one and you can indulge in it for a fun family night treat any night of the week.

To grab the recipe for these easy DIY Shamrock Shakes, head on over to the Kenmore Blog to read all about these delicious treat.

Don’t forget to grab your free St. Patrick’s Day straw printables! Happy St. Patrick’s Day, friends!

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Gluten-Free Chicken Noodle Soup

Friday, February 7th, 2014

Gluten-Free Chicken Noodle Soup from MomAdvice.com

Going gluten-free is proving to be a fun adventure for me in the kitchen. This gluten-free chicken noodle soup recipe is just one example of an old family favorite that has been transformed into a delicious gluten-free version.

This week Walmart challenged me to create a great cold weather dish that you could create from items they have at their store. One of my favorite things to create with their ingredients is a weekly batch of soup. Not only is it the perfect cold weather dish, but it is the perfect “convenience food,” that I love to have on hand for nights when I don’t feel like cooking.

Gluten-Free Chicken Noodle Soup from MomAdvice.com

One item that I buy frequently there is their rotisserie chickens for all of my chicken-filled soups. It saves me some cooking time and I find that they bring a lot of flavor to my easy weeknight soups. They are priced at $4.98, which is about the same price as buying a whole chicken and cooking it from scratch, so I find it to be a good soup investment.

Gluten-Free Chicken Noodle Soup from MomAdvice.com

My biggest challenge has been finding a pasta that tastes like my old familiar white-floured starchy friend. We have sampled every variety of noodles under the son from corn blends to quinoa blends to rice blends. When I posted on Instagram that I was still on the hunt, Tinkyada was the brand that fellow gluten-free friends recommended. Friends, let me tell you, this was the closest pasta I have ever tasted to the real deal. The best part is that it is strongly made so it can withstand being reheated, unlike the other blends that fell apart in my soup.

I had been hunting for this in the pasta aisle at our store, but it is not in the pasta aisle. This pasta is over with the other gluten-free specialty foods, on the end of one of the candy aisles in our store. A pound of this was $2.87, while the fancier and not as appetizing pastas, were costing me over $4 and did not contain a pound.

For a pasta-filled soup, you only need half the bag (or approximately two cups of pasta). Since everything seems to cost an arm and leg if it is marked gluten-free, this is a pasta we all loved AND didn’t cost a fortune! Winning, I say!

Gluten-Free Chicken Noodle Soup from MomAdvice.comGluten-Free Chicken Noodle Soup from MomAdvice.comGluten-Free Chicken Noodle Soup from MomAdvice.com

To me, this looks like the perfect bowl of soup. I thought I would never have a good chicken noodle soup again after this gluten-free debacle of mine, but I am mourning the loss of my soup no more.

It is the ultimate cold weather comfort food dish! I hope you enjoy this one as much as we have!

Gluten-Free Chicken Noodle Soup
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
A gluten-free chicken noodle soup that is the ultimate cold weather comfort food dish. One pot serves many, so share this with someone in need!
Ingredients
  • 2 cups Tinkyada Rice Pasta Elbows
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 stalks chopped celery
  • 3 chopped carrots
  • 3 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 12 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 rotisserie chicken
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • fresh parsley
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
  2. Add gluten-free elbows and cook 12-14 minutes. Drain and rinse with water. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan or Dutch oven, saute the carrots and celery in two tablespoons of olive oil for five minutes to start your soup base. Add garlic at the end (to prevent burning)
  4. Add your rotisserie chicken and any drippings form the chicken to the pot, directly on top of your vegetables. Pour your chicken broth directly over the chicken to incorporate all of the good flavors.
  5. Heat up broth and bring it to a simmer.
  6. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes.
  7. Pull out your chicken and set aside to dice.
  8. Stir in noodles and diced rotisserie chicken, and heat through.
  9. Toss in a handful of fresh chopped parsley and ladle into bowls.

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Gluten-Free Olympic Doughnuts

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

Gluten-Free Olympic Doughnuts from MomAdvice.com.

If there is one thing you know our family loves it is doughnuts. In honor of the upcoming Olympics, I am sharing a delicious gluten-free baked doughnut recipe that you can bake up as a treat for those opening ceremonies. This gluten-free doughnut recipe is as easy to put together as our other wonderful doughnut recipes and are so fun to decorate for the holiday.

Today’s project is sponsored by Walmart. Almost everything you need for this project can be found at their store!

Gluten-Free Olympic Doughnuts from MomAdvice.com.

One thing you will need to create these doughnuts is a doughnut pan. When I first started baking doughnuts, you had to order an item like this online and through specialty shops. Now you can find it right on the shelves at Walmart, in the same aisle as your cookie sheets & baking pans. The price on their Wilton doughnut pans is $7.19.  I have two of them because most recipes yield 10-12 doughnuts and it saves me time in the kitchen. These two pans have paid for themselves over and over again for our occasional sweet weekend treat!

Because I am new to gluten-free baking, I am using a gluten-free all-purpose mix to save me time in the kitchen. I bought a batch of Better Batter for my pantry and I have found that it is yielding impressive results for all of my baking needs. Buying it online from the company in bulk has saved me some money and storage in my pantry, thanks to not needing to buy multiple flours to blend. The bonus is that this mix does contain the Xanthan gum right in it. If your mix does not contain this, you will need to add that ingredient separately.

These doughnuts are light, fluffy, & sweet. The first things my kids remarked on was the spice in them. Although there is just a pinch of nutmeg, this ingredient really pulls through in the doughnut. For non-Olympic doughnut events, a sprinkle of powdered sugar on these is a delightful morning treat.

Gluten_Free_Baked_Olympic_Doughnuts-5

To make your Olympic-themed glazes, I simply made one batch of my favorite glaze and then added food coloring to each dish to reach the desired color. To achieve your black, if you are just working with a standard set of food colorings, equal portions of blue, yellow, and red will help achieve the color you are after.

Gluten_Free_Baked_Olympic_Doughnuts-4 Looking For More Fun Ideas to Celebrate the Olympics? Let’s take a peek at some more fun (and frugal!) ideas!

Fun Ways to Celebrate the Olympics

Olympic Medal Cookies

What could be sweeter than receiving an Olympic medal? How about an Olympic Medal filled with a cookie? AlphaMom offers this sweet little Olympic craft to do with your little ones. Stumped for a cookie idea?  I highly recommend an Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Sea Salt Cookie for your medal filling!

Olympic T-Shirts

Dress up a white t-shirt to dress up for the Olympic games. with a simple painted ring pattern on an inexpensive thrift store shirt, this is a craft that is easy enough to do with kids of all ages. Kate’s Creative Space offers this fun craft idea to her readers to celebrate the games.

DIY Olympic Torch

What child doesn’t dream of carrying around their very own Olympic torch. Hoosier Homemade showcases a fun craft that you can do to create your very own Olympic torch made from some commonly found items at your local craft store.

Olympics Party Fun

Why not throw a party for your family or for a group of families to celebrate the Olympics? A Small Snippet has you covered with everything from patriotic foods to great Olympic game ideas to play together, to fun ideas for decorations that don’t cost a lot.

 Olympic Torches Made From Recyclables

If hitting your craft store for supplies to make an Olympic torch isn’t in your budget, this Olympic Torch from The Idea Room is made from common items you have in your home and recyclables. These torches are made from a paper plate, a paper towel roll, and red & gold tissue paper. This is one that even the smallest child can do. Be sure to lift these high and participate in your own round of fun family Olympic games.

Olympic Rings Necklace

Even moms can jump in on the Olympic excitement with this cute craft, from Remarkably Domestic, for an Olympic Rings Necklace. This necklace is made from simple rings covered in Chinese knotting cord to create those Olympic rings everyone loves so much. This would be a fun craft to do while watching your favorite games this year!

However you celebrate the Olympic games this year, I hope this post inspires you for your Olympic game watching!

Gluten-Free Olympic Doughnuts
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
 
These gluten-free doughnuts are so easy to make and can be a fun snack to share while watching the opening ceremony this year!
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups all-purpose gluten-free powder (I recommend Better Batter Flour)
  • 1 cup sugar (next time I may adjust to ¾ cup sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla, butter, or almond extract
  • Betty Crocker Food Coloring Set (over in the baking aisle)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º and spray two nonstick 6-cavity doughnut pans with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the sugar, baking powder, nutmeg and salt
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the oil and milk until smooth; add to the flour mixture and whisk until combined.
  4. Spoon the batter into 10 cavities of the prepared doughnut pans until about three-quarters full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a doughnut comes out clean.
  5. Let the doughnuts cool.
  6. In a bowl, mix together the confectioners sugar, hot water, and flavoring. Divide the glaze into five bowls and create your colors for the doughnuts. Dip or spoon the glaze over the doughnuts and allow the glaze to harden.

 

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