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  • This one of those recipes that is fun to experiment with. I’ve made it a few different ways with various dried fruits and nuts. One ingredient I recommend that you not improvise with is the brown rice syrup. When I could not find it at my usual market, I substituted agave syrup. Although it tasted great, it didn’t bind well and the bars were more like clumps. Don’t skimp on this item. Purchase the brown rice syrup online if necessary. To get the recipe, click on the article I wrote for Parent Society.

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  • cookies in a jarAs ubiquitous as they may seem to some in their quaint, kitschy way, who  can’t resist  homemade cookies? And if you can make the planning and preparation that much easier, you’ve got the perfect gift. Here are some suggestions for those layered cookies in a jar you can pass out to all your friends, relatives and kid’s teachers. Put all ingredients in a Mason jar decorated with some nice fabric, ribbon and a tag with recipe and baking instructions.

    Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix Read the rest of this entry »

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  • naturally dyes Easter eggs

    Instead of using the store bought variety of Easter Egg dyes, which are usually just food coloring mixed with vinegar, here are some suggestions for all natural ingredients that work just as well.

    • Brown–outer layers of an onion, coffee or tea
    • Green– spinach or dandelion leaves
    • Orange– ground turmeric, celery seed and or orange peels
    • Blue– crushed blueberries
    • Red– crushed cranberries or raspberries
    • Pink– chopped rhubarb or beet juice

    Place eggs in sauce pan with enough water to cover them, add your “dye” and 1 to 2 tablespoons of vinegar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Cook your eggs and color them at the same time. How efficient!

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  • I was sitting in the orthodontist’s office the other day when I saw this recipe in a magazine. It looked so good I asked the receptionist to make a copy for me and she decided to make a copy for herself too. It’s super easy and my family, particularly my husband, raved about it. It has since become a regular in my recipe repertoire. The original recipe called for cauliflower only, but I have since experimented with broccoli and it was equally as good. Serve alone or with soup and salad.

    Ingredients (are approximate):

    • 2 pieces of flat bread like naan
    • Several slices of provolone cheese (I have used shredded mozzarella too)
    • A few handfuls of chopped cauliflower or broccoli
    • Four or five cloves of garlic, minced
    • 2- 3 T of crushed rosemary, minced
    • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
    • 2-4 T of good olive oil

    Preheat oven to 375. Place flatbread on a cookie sheet and layer with the cheese. Put the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and toss thoroughly. Spoon the vegetable mixture over the flatbread, evenly. Place in oven on middle rack and bake/roast for about 15 minutes or until the veggies are slightly browned and crunchy. Serve alone or with soup and salad.

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  • overhead view of a bowl of tomato, red pepper and basil soup witI was cleaning out my refrigerator and freezer one day last week when I discovered several opened, half-consumed bags of frozen and assorted fresh vegetables that, if I didn’t consume them right away, would go to waste. So… I decided to throw everything into a pot and make soup, or as my husband called it, “Hobo Stew.” He said when he was a kid, one of his fondest memories was at summer rec camp when they would go on hikes, build a fire in the woods and everyone would bring a can of something to put into the pot.

    This is a really fun activity to do with your kids because there is no measuring, just pure invention and concoction. You can’t make any mistakes and it is always delicious. For a base I used four 15 oz. cans of stewed tomatoes and 32 oz. of chicken stock (you can use beef, vegetable or water) then I mixed in the following.

    • chopped spinach
    • string beans
    • lima beans
    • squash
    • chopped onions

    I finished with some frozen tortellini (you could add beans or rice)  and topped off with some Italian seasoning.  I let simmer for a few hours, then served with some crusty bread. We enjoyed it for days. Yum.

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  • This is a family recipe. My mother baked this cake every fall. Add a little extra apples for a moister cake.

    Ingredients:

    • 4 eggs
    • 2 cups of sugar
    • 1 cup of oil
    • 2 1/2 tsp. of vanilla
    • 3 cups of flour
    • 3 tsp. of baking powder
    • 1 tsp of salt
    • juice of one orange or 3/4 cups of OJ
    • 4 large apples
    • 3 T of sugar
    • 2  tsp. of cinnamon

    Peel and chop the apples and sprinkle with the cinnamon and 3 T of sugar. Beat the eggs and add the 2 cups sugar and oil, juice of orange and vanilla. Sift flour in separate bowl and add to the eggs and sugar mixture.  Put half of the batter in pan, half of the apples and then rest of batter and top with remaining apples. Grease and flour pan and bake 1 1/4 hours at 350 or until done.

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  • You will need:
    1/4 cup butter or margarine
    1 bag (10 oz) mini marshmallows
    Yellow food coloring
    8 cups combined peanut butter and chocolate puffed corn cereal
    1 cup candy-coated chocolate pieces like peanut or plain M & M’s.
    Spray oil
    10 lollipop sticks
    Tan and green raffia

    Line a large baking sheet with waxed paper and set aside. Melt butter or margarine in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the marshmallows and stir until melted and smooth. Tint with food coloring until you reach desired color. Add cereal and 1/2 cup chocolate pieces. Stir to evenly coated. Remove from heat.

    Spray hands with oil and quickly divide mixture into 10 oblong pieces. Push lollipop sticks halfway into each oblong piece and shape to look like an ear of corn. Place on cookie sheet covered with waxed paper and press remaining 1/2 cup chocolate pieces into each “ear”. Let treats set. Tie or tape raffia to lollipop sticks to resemble corn husks.

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  • Ingredients:
    1 pint cranberry juice cocktail
    1 quart apple juice
    1 cup water
    6 whole cloves
    2 cinnamon sticks
    1 lemon, thinly sliced

    Mix all the ingredients together in a large saucepan. Let simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Strain and serve.

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  • You will need:
    2 lbs. firm apples cut into quarters
    1/2 cup apple cider
    1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
    2 tsp. ground cinnamon
    1 tsp. ground cloves
    1 tsp. ground allspice
    Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

    Place the apples, cider and 1/2 cup water in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until apples are soft, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and pass through a food mill. Return to saucepan and add the brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, lemon zest and lemon juice. Cook over low heat and stir occasionally, until very thick and dark brown, about 2 to 3 hours. Cool completely. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate up to 2 weeks.

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  • Nothing seems to fascinate a child more than the science of homemade crystals. Since crystal making is a popular classroom project, why not supplement your child’s education at home with the following experiments? All can be made with ingredients and supplies commonly found in most households. Be sure to have a magnifying glass on hand so your child can examine her creations more closely.

    Charcoal Crystal Garden

    Materials:
    6 or 7 charcoal briquettes
    6 T. warm water
    6 T. liquid bluing (available in the laundry section of the grocery store).
    4 T. table salt
    1 T. ammonia
    Food coloring (optional)

    Layer the charcoal in a shallow pan. In a separate bowl, mix the water and bluing together, stir in the salt and ammonia. Pour evenly over the charcoal. In a little while, you will see white fluffy crystals forming on the crystals. For different crystal colors, place a few drops of food coloring onto the coals after pouring the solution. You can keep the garden growing  by adding more solution every day.

    Rock Candy

    This is the one crystal-making project your child can actually eat!

    Materials:
    Powdered sugar
    Hot water
    Foil
    Glass or wide-mouthed jar
    Heavy string,  a pencil and paper clips.

    Pour 1/4 cup hot water into a mixing bowl and add enough sugar until absolutely no more will dissolve, approximately 1 cup. Next, tie two or three lengths of string to a pencil, and fasten a paper clip to the other end. Pour the solution into a glass with the weighted strings in the solution. Several days later, as the water evaporates, you will see the crystal formations on the string.

    Borax Crystals

    These crystals look like snowflakes and make great winter, window-hanging decorations. They can also be used to decorate Christmas trees.

    Materials:
    Wide-mouthed jar
    String
    Pencil
    Pipe cleaner
    1 cup boiling water
    3 T. Borax
    Food coloring (optional)

    Take the pipe cleaner and fashion it into a shape like a star or heart. Tie a piece of string to one end and suspend it into the jar until the shape is about 1/4″ from the bottom of the jar. Tie a pencil to the other end of the string and rest on top of the jar. In a large measuring cup, mix together the Borax and boiling water until dissolved. If you like, you can add some food coloring. Pour solution into the jar and in just a few hours, a hard, crusty crystal will form on the outside of the pipe cleaner.

    Rock Garden

    Materials:
    Small, smooth rocks
    2 oz. Alum (found in the spice section of grocery stores)
    1/2 cup boiling water
    Clear glass bowl

    Wash the rocks and place them in the bowl. Mix alum and water together in a small measuring cup until completely dissolved. Pour over the rocks and in a few hours you will see alum crystals forming as glass-like squares.

    Pass the Salt…

    Materials:
    Hot tap water
    Cup
    Salt
    Aluminum pie plate or plate covered with foil.

    Pour hot tap water into the cup until it is about half full. Add two teaspoons of salt and stir until dissolved. Repeat until no more salt will dissolve. Pour  enough liquid into the pan until just the bottom is covered. Let it sit undisturbed and check occasionally over the next few days. The longer you let the crystals grow, the larger they become.

    Pass the Epsom Salt

    This experiment is particularly effective when performed with the one above. It illustrates the different types of crystals that form when using different types of salt. Repeat the steps as in the above replacing the table salt with Epsom salt. Be sure to pour any leftover liquid down the drain. One difference you will notice is the Epsom salts are made of the mineral magnesium sulfate. As the water evaporates, the molecules in the Epsom salts join to form long, overlapping crystals. Regular table salt is made of the mineral halite and when halite molecules are joined again they form in a cubelike pattern.

    Crystal Hunt

    Crystals are all around us.  They are in the ground and on jewelry. You have probably eaten crystals at meals. Sugar and salt are both made of crystals. Have your children hunt for crystals and hold them up to the light or under a magnifying glass to determine if they are indeed crystals. Take a trip to the library and read up on the many different types of crystals and the minerals that crystallize in them.

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