Saturday, November 22, 2014

Vanilla Bean Shortbread Cookies


Really though. These little bites of deliciousness are almost too good to be true.
Buttery, sweet, salty, vanilla-y (?), melt in your mouth Vanilla Bean Shortbread Cookies.

Oh how I love you, Vanilla Bean Shortbread Cookies.

Oh, and BTW....these are a cinch to make.

Okay, so here goes.

Vanilla Bean Shortbread Cookies
1 cup softened butter (not melted)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 vanilla bean 

-Cream together butter, sugar and vanilla extract. Add in cornstarch, flour & salt and mix until well combined. Dough will be dry and crumbly, but also hold its shape. Last, scrape the seeds out of a half of a vanilla bean and mix evenly into the dough.
-Press the dough about a 1/2 inch thick into the bottom of a square or rectangle parchment lined baking pan. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
-(While waiting for the dough to chill, go ahead and make the frosting for drizzling.)
-Once the dough has chilled, heat oven to 325 and remove dough from fridge. Lift the dough out of the pan and use a sharp knife to cut the dough into uniform squares. I like to make them pretty tiny, like 1 inch square, but any size will do as long as they are all about the same size. 
-Place the cold dough squares onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 325 for about 8-10 minutes. The bottom should be light golden brown, and the tops should not be browned at all. Remove from oven and let cool completely. 

Vanilla Bean Drizzle
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-4 tbsp water
1/2 vanilla bean

-Mix together powdered sugar, vanilla extract and water, starting out with 2 tbsp. Mix the water/vanilla into the powdered sugar until it is fairly thin. If the 2 tbsp. is not enough, add more water about 1/2 tbsp. at a time until the Vanilla Bean Drizzle is the consistency of a maple syrup. Once you reach the desired consistency, scrape the seeds from a half of a vanilla bean and stir into drizzle evenly. 
-Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until you are ready to use.
-Once the cookies are baked and completely cooled, remove plastic wrap from drizzle and stir until smooth. 
-With a spoon, drizzle Vanilla Bean Drizzle over the Vanilla Bean Shortbread Cookies. Use as much as you like....but sometimes more is more. 
-Let the cookies sit until the drizzle dries, and then you are done. Try not to eat them all in one sitting. 

If you practice self control, these will store for several days in a ziplock bag or an airtight container. Good luck!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Marshmallow Pumpkin Pops

Hey hey hey!
I know it's been forever and a day since I posted....oops. 
I may need to change the name of my blog....I wonder if Haley's Bi-Monthly is taken?

Anyway, moving on. 
Today I made a super cute and easy little Halloween/fall snack. 
These Marshmallow Pumpkin Pops were easy, and so fun. They would be perfect for a school party or a Halloween party because you could make a lot in a short amount of time.

So let's get started. You will need the following:

large marshmallows
orange candy melts
squeeze bottle or piping bag
green paper straws (or any treat stick)
green ribbon
parchment paper

-First, I cut the paper straws in half. 
-Next, dip the end of a straw in water and then push into the flat side of a marshmallow. Repeat until all marshmallows have a straw "stem". 
-Now you can melt candy melts according to the package instructions. Once melted, dip the marshmallows into the candy melts, making sure to cover completely. If you need to, you can carefully spoon some candy melts around the straw. Shake off the excess candy melt and then scrape the bottom of the marshmallows on the edge of the bowl and set on parchment paper. 
-Let the candy melts harden while you spoon the remaining candy melts into a squeeze bottle or piping bag. Pipe lines down the sides of the pumpkins. I started at the top and then stopped at the base. 
-Let the candy melts completely set up and then tie a green ribbon at the top. 

Seriously, these are fun to make. And, I realize that I'm not the first person to make a marshmallow pumpkin, but I love how these Marshmallow Pumpkin Pops turned out!

My 7 year old daughter came home and said she wanted to make some for her school Halloween party. Game on.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Zucchini Bread- 2 Ways

Oh my gosh.....right now I have more zucchini than I know what to do with.
It's just that time of year.
I LOVE zucchini, and I use it in tons of savory recipes.
But when you have enough zucchini to overtake your have to find some other ways to use it.
So I decided to make some yummy Zucchini Bread.
Just for the record, I'm sure everyone has a recipe for zucchini bread, but this one is a goodie.

This recipe makes enough batter for 2 loaves. So I made one traditional loaf and another loaf with mix-ins.

So let's start with the recipe. (We'll talk mix-ins later, okay.)

Zucchini Bread
2 eggs
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp.salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 cups flour
2 cups finely grated zucchini (green or yellow)
*1-2 cups mix-ins

Start by creaming together eggs, greek yogurt, sugars, honey, butter, oil & vanilla. Once combined, add baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and flour. Mix until all dry ingredients are combined into wet ingredients evenly. Next, take the grated zucchini and squeeze out excess water (using a small strainer or a paper towel). Add zucchini to the batter and mix until evenly combined. *Now you can add your mix-ins (if using any) and combine.
Bake at 350* for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick poked into center of loaves comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack and serve.

Okay, so now we can talk mix-ins. As I mentioned, I put half of the batter into a loaf pan and then added mix-ins to the rest of the batter and put that into the second loaf pan. I added some chocolate chips and Reese's Pieces.  Opinions were mixed in my family, but they were both delicious.

You could use just about anything for mix-ins, but here are a few suggestions:
-chocolate chips (any kind)
-small candies like M&M's, Reese's Pieces, etc.
-nuts (any kind)
-dried fruit like raisins, dried cherries, etc.
-chopped up candy bars
.....or any combination you can dream up.

Let me tell you, we have all had zucchini bread and I know I have used many recipes....but you should really give this one a try. The greek yogurt helps keep it really moist while the honey gives it a little bit of extra sweetness. I love to eat mine at room temp. with a little bit of soft butter spread on top. MMMM.

Oh yeah, and this little guy loved it too.

*Also, feel free leave a comment if you have and questions about the recipe or possible substitutions.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Spaghetti sauce out of a jar is fine.
I ate spaghetti that way for years.
Honestly though...why have fine when you can so easily have AMAZING?
And besides, I am known to be somewhat of a food snob.
You guys...spaghetti sauce is so easy to make and SOOO worth it.

Spaghetti Sauce
3 tbsp. canola/olive oil
1 onion- finely chopped
1 carrot- finely chopped
1 zucchini- finely chopped
2 cloves garlic- grated or finely chopped
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 14 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tbsp. sugar
fresh  Italian parsley (optional)
fresh basil (optional)
to taste: salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder

Heat oil in a pan and add garlic, onion, carrot & zucchini. Season with salt and pepper and then saute until they start to soften and get a little color (golden brown). Next add tomato paste and stir around. Once you can smell the tomato paste add crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce & chicken broth. Set heat to medium high and bring to a simmer. Add dried Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes & sugar. Also season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder to taste. I like a lot of seasoning, you may use less. Just keep adding and tasting until you like it. Once the sauce is simmering reduce to low and let simmer for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes add the fresh parsley and basil (if using) and serve.

I love to serve over spaghetti with meatballs. It would also be great to brown up some ground beef and Italian sausage with the veggies and have a meat sauce. This sauce is a great base for your favorite pasta recipe.

Friday, May 9, 2014

End of the Year Teacher Gift Idea

So this week was Teacher Appreciation Week.
Obviously, it is now over.
So I am not calling this a "teacher appreciation" gift.
I am calling it an "end of the year teacher gift".
Hey, it works, right?
Whatever occasion you choose...teachers are amazing and really deserve whatever little gift you can afford to give. And I know they are very appreciative.
I made a cute little printable, which could be used for Teacher Appreciation, Christmas, end/beginning of the year, or even V-Day.
Over the last couple years I have given Starbucks gift cards, gift cards to a local yogurt shop called Spot On yogurt, and an assortment of other little gifts.
This year I really thought about it.
I volunteer in all 3 of my kids' classrooms so I sort of know their teachers.
I thought about giving each of the 3 teachers a different gift card.
But then I realized Amazon could really make everyone happy.
They can buy stuff for their classrooms, stuff for their kids, their homes, themselves, rent movies, buy e-books.....pretty much anything.
Did I ever mention I am in LOVE with Amazon?
(Just as a side note, if you shop on Amazon at all check out Amazon pick a charity and go to to shop and they will donate a % of every purchase you make to the charity of your choice. And you can be specific. I chose the Ronald McDonald House of Spokane Washington. Which is my favorite charity in the world because I lived there when my first baby spent almost 2 months in the NICU.)

So onto the printable.
I made this as a 4X6.
That is the perfect size to attach a gift card.

To print, follow these steps:
1) Right-click the image and select "save image as..."
2) Name the image. (I called mine "teacheramazon")
3) Open the image using your photo viewing/editing Window's Live Photo Gallery.
4) Now you will print the image as a 4x6, making sure to UNSELECT "fit picture to frame". (BTW, you can print any size as long as you unselect "fit picture to frame", but I chose 4x6)

Once you have your image printed, back it with some card stock and attach the gift card. You can obviously add ribbon, washi tape, or embellish any way that your heart desires. I kept it pretty simple, but it is still cute enough.

Real quick, I just want to give Amazon a little more love. It is one of the few shops where even just $5 can get something good. $5 is plenty to buy an e-book or rent a movie on Amazon Instant Video. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Cookie Dough Carrot Pops

Cookie dough!
Can't go wrong...right?
But I have to say...this is the first time I have actually made egg-less cookie dough.
Yes, that means I have been eating raw eggs since I was a kid.
I never really worried about it too much. husband has been taking a microbiology class.
He has shared with me the dangers of eating raw eggs. friends, disease!
(Really, I can't remember what he said but it is BAD. Shame shame.)
So I have changed my ways.

So for the cookie dough recipe, I searched Pinterest.
I finally settled on this recipe from The Lady with the Red Rocker.
I did make a few minor changes, because I am allergic to recipes...but I really loved a couple things about her recipe.
1- I love that her recipe has baking soda in it. Even though it is not needed for leavening, I want this to taste exactly like regular cookie dough, and regular cookie dough has baking soda.
2- I love that it has plenty of vanilla and also some brown sugar....'cause my favorite cookie recipe has both.

So now let me share my version of the recipe. (I made half with chocolate shavings and the other half with crushed white chocolate chips.)

Egg-less Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
1/2 cup butter (soft)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 tbsp. milk
1-1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips (or shavings)
1/2 cups white chocolate chips (or pieces)

(FYI....I don't get fancy when mixing cookie dough. I don't sift, or use separate bowls or anything like that.)

*Basically, use a stand mixer or hand mixer and cream together butter, sugars, vanilla & milk until fluffy. Add salt, baking soda and flour (starting with 1 cup flour and add more if the dough is too soft) and mix until fully combined. Add chocolate chips (or shavings) and gently mix with spoon until evenly combined.

Now your cookie dough is done.  Either grab a spoon and dig in, or continue to make carrot pops. If you are going to make carrot pops, refrigerate dough for about 30 minutes while you get everything else ready.

-For carrot pops, you will need toothpicks, orange candy melts, parchment paper, and some green ribbon/twine.

-Get out a large sheet of parchment and toothpicks, and now you are ready to form your cookie dough.

-Start with about 2 tablespoons of cookie dough per carrot. Using your hands, roll cookie dough into a ball, and then form one end into the "tip". Just kind of roll the end so it is slightly tapered. It will be like a short, fat carrot. Once you have formed all of your carrots, stick toothpicks into the fat end and cool in the fridge or freezer until super firm.

-Once your carrots are firm, you can get ready to dip them. Using a shallow bowl, melt about half a bag of orange candy melts according to package. One at a time, hold carrots by the toothpick and dip into candy melts. Roll carrot until all sides are covered. Lift out of chocolate and shake off the excess, and then scrape the bottom of the carrot against the edge of the bowl, and then set that bottom side on a piece of parchment. Repeat with all of the carrots, and then let the covered carrots set up in the fridge.

-Now, you can take what's left of the candy melts and spoon it into the corner of a freezer bag. Once the carrots are set up, remove from fridge. Snip the corner off the freezer bag and drizzle the "lines" onto the carrots. Before the lines set, pick up each carrot and move to clean parchment paper.

-Let candy melts set one last time. Once the carrot are completely set up, remove from parchment and tie ribbons onto the toothpicks.

These will keep for several days in the fridge and can be served on their own, or in a bucket of dirt. :)

Okay, not real dirt.
But I did crush some chocolate graham crackers. They looked really cute and my kids were a little creeped out by it. Win win.
I have to say, I love this cookie dough, and the white chocolate chips were my favorite. Thanks to the Lady with the Red Rocker for sharing this recipe.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Huckleberry Cream Cheese mini Pies

As I have mentioned a time or two (or ten)...I live in Idaho.
In the late summer, the mountains give us an awesome gift...
Oh my gosh!
If you haven't had the opportunity to try huckleberries you are missing out.
I can't say I am a big picker, but my parents and my kids are.
You can pick the berries in the summer and then wash and freeze them.
Perfect way to have one of our favorite desserts all year long!

Huckleberry Cream Cheese Pie (or in this case mini pies)

This dessert is something my mom has made for years. She is awesome. Have I mentioned that before? She is a great cook. She is the reason I love good food. And in turn, the reason I love to cook.
Anywho. My husband and step-dad LOVE my mom's Huckleberry Cream Cheese Pie. By the way...normally this is a full-sized pie. I happen to have a thing for cupcakes, or mini desserts.
So here is my version.

Huckleberry Cream Cheese Mini Pies 
w/ Pecan Shortbread Crust

for the crust:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter- softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
-In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Using a fork, mix all ingredients until well blended. 

for the cream cheese layer:
8 oz. cream cheese (1 package)- at room temp.
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
-Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, cream together cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Spoon mixture into the corner of a gallon freezer bag or piping bag.

for the huckleberries:
1 cup frozen (or fresh) huckleberries
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp. corn starch
-In a saucepan, add all ingredients and stir over medium heat until it comes to a simmer. Continue cooking and stirring for about 3 minutes until thick. Remove from heat.

to assemble:
-Heat oven to 350. Line a muffin tin with liners. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of shortbread dough into each muffin tin. Using your fingers, press evenly into the bottom of each liner. Bake for 12 minutes and then let cool in the pan.

-Once cool, snip the corner off the gallon bag or piping bag and pipe cream cheese mixture on top of each crust. Pipe cream cheese layer about 1/2 inch thick, leaving room for a thin layer of huckleberry mixture. Put in the fridge to set for about 30 minutes.

-Once cream cheese layer has set, spoon a layer of huckleberry mixture over top. Once all mini pies are done, put in the fridge for an hour or more to set.

Once cooled, remove from muffin liner and serve....either cold or bring to room temp. Serve with whipped cream if you like.

 YUM! These are so cute and so delish. They are just the perfect size for one little serving. 


*If you want to make a full size pie, just press the shortbread crust into the bottom of a
pie plate and bake for 20 minutes instead of 12. Cool and then spread cream cheese layer over top. Cool again and then pour berry mixture over top and let set in fridge. Easy enough.

*If you can't pick your own huckleberries, sometimes you can buy them frozen. But, if you cannot find huckleberries, this would work with blueberries (or any berry). Just adjust the amount of sugar in the berry mixture depending on how sweet or tart the berries are. Blueberries tend to be a bit sweeter than huckleberries, so maybe use a little less sugar.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sweet & Spicy Asian Noodle Bowl

So I have recently mentioned creating some new the Pork Fried Rice and Honey Almond Shrimp.
I actually make them together sometimes, and it is one of our new favorite meals.
Speaking of husband has a new favorite restaurant.
It is The Sushi Bar...and it happens to be 3 hours from my home, in McCall, Idaho.
As you can imagine, we don't get to eat there as often as he would like (like every week).
So I am on a mission to re-create some of our faves from there.
Of course, The Sushi Bar serves edamame, miso soup, and all kinds of sushi.
Since I am not really into sushi, I order the Kobe Beef Noodle Bowl. is AMAZING!
Hoison marinated kobe beef, vibrant fresh veggies, soba noodles and a sweet and tangy sauce.
So now let's talk about my version....Sweet & Spicy Asian Noodle Bowl.
It's very similar to The Sushi Bar's dish, with a few minor changes.

Let's start with the recipe.
(Let me just say, this is not a one pot dinner. It is several components that you will assemble right before eating.)

1 lb boneless pork chops or peeled shrimp
1/2 cup hoison
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp. sriracha
1/2 cup apple juice

1 red bell pepper- thinly sliced and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 carrots- thinly shredded
1/2 bunch trimmed asparagus- halved lengthwise and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 bunch green onions- sliced into half-inch pieces
1 avocado- thinly sliced
1 cup sprouts (either daikon, clover or alfafa)- optional
2 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
2 tbsp. toasted chopped peanuts- optional
1 package noodles- either thin soba noodles or whole wheat spaghetti
peanut oil (or canola)

Sauce: (double recipe if you plan to have leftovers...I did!)
3/4 cup beef broth
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tbsp. honey
3 tbsp. hoison
2 tbsp. peanut butter
2 tbsp. sriracha

Start by marinating the pork or shrimp for 1 or more hours and then grill. Let rest for 10 minutes, and then thinly slice (if using pork) and then set aside.

Next, heat 1 tbsp. peanut oil to high heat. Saute red peppers and asparagus for just 2-3 minutes, until tender-crisp. Remove from heat and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and then add noodles and cook according to package instructions.
Drain water off, and set aside.

For the sauce, add all of the ingredients to a sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once boiling, reduce to low heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes, while you assemble the rest of the dish.

To assemble the noodle bowl:
Add a serving of cooked noodles to the bottom of a bowl. Add some red peppers and asparagus, raw shredded carrots and green onions, and some of the sliced pork or shrimp. Spoon about 1/2 cup of the hot sauce to the bowl. If your ingredients were cold or lukewarm, cover and microwave for about 30-45 seconds. Last, sprinkle some sesame seeds and peanuts, and top with a few sprouts and a few avocado slices. Now...dig in. And if you want to be with chop sticks. I mean hey, who doesn't need a little challenge now and then. I also served some vegetable spring rolls that I buy from Costco, but they were not necessary.

This is one of my new favorites! I probably say that every time I cook a new recipe, but this is different than anything I make....and I loved it. This would be a great recipe to customize to your liking. Leave the meat out and use veggie broth for a vegetarian dish. Use a different variety of veggies, or a different type of meat. Really, I will probably make this lots of different ways in the near future.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Some Exciting News!

Hey guys....I have some exciting news!
No...Mom, I am not pregnant. Phew.
I recently applied to be a contributor on an amazing blog.
I am sure all of you read Somewhat Simple on the regular.
And if you don't, you should.
Well.....I was chosen to be a part of their team!
I will be posting about Seasons & Holidays!
I am really excited, and also somewhat intimidated. literally 5 minutes first post went live.
Pleeeeaaassseee go check it out, and leave a comment.
I posted a little Easter Craft that Julia (my daughter) and I worked on over the weekend.
We made Easter Shrink Film Charms.
Tomorrow, I will be posting my new favorite recipe right here....
Sweet & Spicy Asian Noodle Bowls.
Jesse and I ate them for like a week straight, and I already want to make them again.
Check back.
And I am going to thank you in advance... because I know you will check out my post at
Somewhat Simple!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Best Pork Fried Rice

This Pork Fried Rice is freaking amazing.

I don't mean to brag...but I am going to just this one time.
I have recently been trying to challenge myself by learning how to cook more ethnic foods.
Basically, I just want to learn to cook the ethnic foods that I love.
Namely, fried rice.
I have been working on this recipe for a while....and I finally feel like it is right.
Trust me....if you like fried rice, you want to make this.
It is definitely better than your typical take-out.

So this recipe basically has 3 steps.
You will marinate & cook the pork.
You will pre-cook the white rice,
And last you will make the Fried Rice.

Lets start with the ingredients.

 For the marinade you will need:
1/3 cup hoisin sauce
1/3 cup oyster sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
2-3 tbsp. sriracha
2/3 cup apple juice
1 1/2 pounds boneless pork loin chops

For the white rice:
Use leftover rice, or follow this method for The Best Rice Every Time. I used chicken broth for my cooking liquid, and used 2 cups uncooked rice, which will be 4 or more cups cooked.

For the Fried Rice:
2-3 eggs
1 onion- finely chopped
2-3 carrots- thinly sliced into 2 inch strips (think matchsticks)
1 cup shredded cabbage
2 cloves garlic- finely diced or grated
1-2 bunches green onions- thinly sliced and divided in half
1 1/2 cups frozen baby (or regular) peas
canola or vegetable oil
sauces- hoison, oyster, soy, sriracha
salt & pepper

Now lets get cooking.

-Start by marinating the pork for at least an hour, and then grill (on the BBQ). Once they are done, remove and let rest for 5-10 minutes and then thinly slice and set aside.

Now you can make the Fried Rice.

You will want to use a large non-stick saute pan or wok. Preferably something with higher sides.

-Heat pan to about med. heat and crack eggs into the pan. Season with salt & pepper. Let eggs cook until about half way cooked, and then start to slightly scramble (not too much) with spoon or spatula. Continue cooking until eggs are just cooked through. You want large pieces. Remove from pan, and set aside.
-Wipe pan out with paper towel and add a tablespoon of oil and turn heat to high. Heat oil until it is almost smoking. You want it super hot. Add your diced onion, season with salt & pepper, and saute at high heat for a few minutes until dark on the edges and just softened. Remove from pan and set aside.
-Add another tablespoon of oil, heat to high and cook your carrots the same as you did your onions. Remove, and set aside.
-Add another tablespoon of oil, and heat to high. Now add your cabbage, half of your green onions and garlic. Cook at high for about 1 or 2 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic.
-Once the cabbage, onions, & garlic are browned but not burnt, add the frozen peas to the pan. Mix in and continue cooking for another couple minutes until the peas are heated through.
-Now, you can add the cooked onions and carrots back to the pan, and stir.
-Add your cooked rice and eggs to the pan, and mix well.
-Add about 1 tablespoon each of hoison, oyster and soy sauce and a teaspoon or so of sriracha. Mix into rice and taste. If it needs more sauce, go for it. If it is good, keep heat at high and saute for a few minutes. You will want some of your rice to get a little crispy. I mean duh, it's called Fried Rice.
-Once your fried rice has sauteed for a few minutes, add your pork. Stir in and heat just until meat is warmed through. Remove from heat and serve.

Go ahead and top with some of the remaining raw green onions (if you like) and dig in. I often serve this on it's own, or with some vegetable spring rolls from Costco. If you are looking for more, make this Honey Almond Shrimp too. That is my husbands favorite meal ever I think.

This Pork Fried Rice is soooo good. When I first got this recipe just the way I wanted it, I cooked it like 3 times in 3 weeks. It really is good. You could easily leave out the pork if you don't eat pork. You could also substitute shrimp. I may try that next time.

*Just a quick note about this recipe- It may seem tedious to cook each thing separately, but there is a reason for that. You don't want to overcrowd the pan. You want to cook at high heat so that the veggies get nice and dark, without being too soft and mushy. If  you are making a smaller batch, you could cook the onions and carrots together. Just keep in mind that you don't want to crowd your pan. And even if you cook them all separately like I do, it goes quick. Promise.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Loom Band Bracelets w/ Shrinky Dink Charms- Seahawks Edition

I live in Idaho.
Right across the river from Washington.
Due to geography, and the lack of cool stuff in Idaho....
we cheer for Seattle sports teams.
So...we are more than proud of the Seahawks.

Today I am going to mix my Seahawks pride, the loom band trend, and my love for Shrinky Dinks.

Seahawks Bracelets with Shrinky Dink Charms

Fun, quick, and easy.

Let's gather what we need to make the charms-
matte Shrink Film (does NOT have to be inkjet printable)
fine grit sand paper- 300 or so
scissors, hole punch
inkjet printer
image to print (Seahawks logos, etc.)

So to start with, you will need some images to print. I think for bracelet charms, anywhere from 2 to 3 inches is a good size. I just found the Seahawks logo online and spruced it up a bit using PicMonkey. You could also just copy and paste some images into Word. Anything you like will work. (And if you don't want to rebel against the rules of Shrink Film, you can even use Sharpies and trace the image.)

Here are the images I used.

Once your images are ready, you will want to prep your Shrink Film.
Sand the entire surface of one side of your Shrink Film. Using a paper towel, wipe off all the dust.
Next, you will print you images onto the sanded side of the Shrink Film.
*Make sure to do a test run on paper.
*Make sure to use your printers lowest setting, like fast and economical. You want the least amount of ink you can get. 

Once printed, let the ink dry for about 5 minutes or so. This stuff is not meant to be printed on, so this step is important to prevent smearing.
Next, trim around the images, making sure to leave room for the holes to be punched.
Punch your holes.

Now, you will bake. 
Fold a piece of parchment paper in half, and you will sandwich your Shrink Film in between the two layers of parchment on top of a cookie sheet. 
Bake at 350, for 2-3 minutes. The parchment should help the film to stay flat while baking. 
Remove from oven and let cool for a couple minutes. 
The charms should be thick and hard.

Now, lets move onto the Loom Band Bracelets. 
I used a tutorial from Kimbo at A Girl and A Glue Gun. (BTW, one of the most hilarious bloggers around)
I basically did the fishtail one....but rather than using fingers like she did I used 2 pencils. 
She has a great step-by-step photo tutorial that you can follow. 
The only difference is the way you will start and finish, so I took a few pictures to help.

I gathered my Seahawks colored loom bands, 2 pencils, my charms, and some plastic hooks for the end.
To start, take one band and put it through the hole in the charm. 
Now, with the charm in the middle, put the other ends onto the pencils.
Now, put two more  bands, and start the follow the steps, like shown at the link above. 
Keep in mind, this will be half of the bracelet, so no need to make it too long. 

Once you finish this half, just leave it on the pencils, and slide the whole thing towards the other ends of the pencils.
Put a band through the other hole on the charm, wrap ends around pencils, and repeat the steps you did on the other side.

Once you have an even amount on both sides, you will pull the 2nd to the last band on each end over, leaving just one band on each end.
Starting with one side, put a plastic hook (closure) through the loops. 
Repeat with the other end.
Hook the two closures together and you are DONE!

Wow, what a wordy tutorial for such an easy process.

You can also just punch one hole (like I did with the heart one) and start it the same way. Rather than doing 2 sides, just do your whole bracelet on one side and then instead of using the plastic closure you can just loop the last band around the heart. Kinda like a button closure.

These are a cheap, fun and easy project that anyone can make. 
Even procrastinators like me, who are doing this 2 days before the big game.

Also, consider using different images and make any kind of charm you like. It would be a great kid craft, or even party favor.

I would like to thank Kim at A Girl and A Glue Gun for giving me permission to link back to her tutorial.
Now my post is only 5 miles long instead of 10.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Zombie Valentines

Another Valentine.....Yes!
I'm shameless.
Typically, I a not the most festive person.
I am known as somewhat of a "Grunch" in my home. (My son's way of saying Grinch)

But...Valentine's Day is an exception for me.
I love it.
Today I am going to post one of my favorite Valentines yet.
It's definitely different....but that is a good thing.

Zombie Valentines!

"I'm DYING To Be Your Valentine!"
"Valentine, I'd DIE For You!"

I think I am obsessed.
As I walked through Walmart the other day, I saw these Zombie plastic toys.
They came in a huge tub and looked sort of like army men. But they were zombies (and zombie responders).
Not nasty, skin sloughing off zombies, but cute not-so-gross zombies.
Okay, so to get on with my point.
I saw these zombies, and the first thing that came to my mind was Valentine's Day.
No, I am not kidding.
Then, I started to think it over and I thought of some pretty awesome word play.

Now you have it.

So I created a printable.

So to print, follow these steps:
-Right-click the image.
-Select "save image as..."
-Name the image. (like zombievday...or whatever)
-Using your photo viewing/editing software (like Windows Live Photo Gallery), open the image.
-Print valentine as a 5x7. *Unselect "fit picture to frame". You can get 2 per page, which will be 4 cards.

*You may want to print onto card stock, or something a little heavier than regular paper. Or, you can just glue the card to some card stock once it is printed.

Once you have all your cards printed, cut them out.

Now you will attach your Zombies.

There are a couple ways to attach the Zombies.
I just used a tiny dab of hot glue. Just enough to hold it, but not so much that it will be hard to remove.

You could also tie them on using bakers twine, or use some double-side tape.
Whatever works.

Honestly, I am not a huge fan of Zombies usually.
But these are really cute.
I think sometimes Valentine's Day can be full of mushy "I love yous" and stuff like that.
While I don't think there is anything wrong with going traditional, it is also nice to think outside of the box.

*The tub of zombies was $5 at Walmart. There were 45 zombies and 45 zombie responders. If you figure 45 zombie Valentines for $5, that puts you at less that $0.12 each. Once you figure in the paper, you can easily make these for $0.15 each. Plus, you have 45 zombie responders (which just look like police officers) for your kids to play with. Not bad.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Teacher Valentine Gift- Chalkboard Gift Set

I am totally on a Valentine's Day kick...
I have posted two easy and inexpensive kids Valentines...the Finger Light Valentines and the Sea Creature Valentines.
At this point, I have moved on to Valentine's Day Teacher Gifts.

Chalkboard Gift Set

This is a cute and affordable gift that any teacher will love and put to good use.
You will only need a few easy to find items...
-A roll of Duck Brand Chalkboard Laminate. (Bought at Walmart, for under $4)
-A box of chalk ($0.50) and/or a chalk marker.
-A chalkboard gift tag printable, and some ribbon or baker's twine.

These gifts will easily ring in at $5 or less.
I love teachers, and want them to feel appreciated.
Totally worth it to me.

This gift is very easy to throw together.
Basically, gather your chalk and/or chalk marker, chalkboard laminate and ribbon.
Use the ribbon to tie the chalk/chalk marker to the roll of chalkboard contact paper.

To finish it off, you will need to print the gift tag.

*Right-click the gift tag.
*Select "save image as..."
*Give the image a name (like vdayteacher) or whatever.
*Open the image using your photo viewing/editing software, like Windows Live Photo Gallery.
*Select Print, and print image. This image is a 3.5x5, but you could print it any size. If you print any size other than 3.5x5, make sure you unselect or DO NOT select "fit picture to frame".

Once you have you gift tag printed, you will cut it out, glue to some cardstock if you like, punch a hole and tie to your chalkboard contact paper and chalk. 

Easy Peasy!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sea Creature Valentines

So last week, I posted some cute and easy Finger Light Valentines, which were a big hit!
As I mentioned before, I love DIY Valentines...and have a few different ideas planned this year.

That brings me to...Valentine number 2:
Sea Creature Valentines

So these are really quite simple to achieve. 
You will need some small sea creature toys, treat bags, and the printable bag topper I have included. 
*You could also use any other "sea" related item; like goldfish crackers, swedish fish, or some cute sea creature stickers.

I bought my sea creatures at Amazon. They were $12.02 for 90 sea creature toys. That will be enough for me to do Valentines for both of my boys classes, some kids at church, and have plenty of toys left over for my kids to keep. You could easily buy fewer sea creatures, based on how many you need.

I used Wilton brand 3x4 treat bags, which you can buy at Amazon, or at Walmart for $2 like I did.

So now we have the bag topper.
(There is one for kids to give to their friends, and one for teachers to give to their students.)

*This is designed to be printed as a 3.5x5 and used with the 3x4 treat bags. 

To print the bag topper:
1) Right-click the image and select "save image as...".
2) Name the image. (I called mine "vdaybagtopper")
3) Open the image using your computer's photo viewing/editing Windows Live Photo Gallery.
4) Now you will Print the image, as a 3.5x5, making sure to unselect "fit picture to frame". So you DO NOT want to "fit picture to frame". 

Once you have your bag toppers printed, they will look like this. 

You can use the very thin border as a cutting guide. I cut right on, or inside, of the border. You don't want to see it when they are cut out.

Now that you have your bag toppers ready, you can stuff your treat bags and staple the bag topper to the treat bag. 

Last, have your kids sign their name, for a personal touch, and you are done!

I hope you will check back in the next few days for a Mustache Valentine that I am making for my daughters class, and a Valentine for your kids to give to their won't want to miss them!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Finger Light Valentine

 **UPDATE! (1-12-15)

I love making Valentines for my kids.
They are 5, 6, and they totally have minds of their own.
Who cares about those little minds, right?
I mean, I care...but I don't.
Last year I made some cute LEGO heart necklaces and I still see kids wearing them at the school.
Now that is a win.

This year, I am doing a few different types of Valentines.
Today, I am going to share this simple, and fairly inexpensive Finger Light Valentine.

Basically, all you need are these Finger Lights, some treat bags, and the label (which I will include). I bought the finger lights from Amazon. They are $8.75 for 48. That is enough to do Valentines for 2 of my kids' classes. They also have more buying options, like this one, where you could easily do a lot larger quantity if you need to.

Anyways, back to the Valentines.

For the treat bags, I used some 3X4 clear Wilton brand treat bags. I got mine from the cake-decorating section at Walmart, and they were about $2 for 50 bags. You can also get them here, at Amazon.

Now here is the bag topper.

I am new to blogging, and have never done a "printable" on my blog. I design and print things for myself all the time, but for my blog this is new.
Be patient please.

First, right-click the label and choose "save image as..."
Next, name the image (something you can easily remember) and save to your computer.
Next, go into your photo viewing/editing software and open the image. I use Windows Live Photo Gallery.
Last, you will print the image as a 3.5x5 (is you are using the 3x4 bag). Before printing, it will give you the option to "fit picture to frame" will want to un-select this option. DO NOT fit picture to frame.

You will be able to get four labels per page. Once they are printed, trim around the black borders, and fold over your treat bags. Staple, and have your kids sign their name.
Easy, right?

I did the math, and to do 48 Valentines, I spent less than $0.25 per Valentine. Not bad, really.