Thursday, May 31, 2012

Carousel Cupcakes

We made these treats for Vacation Bible School today.  They turned out so cute--I had to post them.

For each carousel, you will need the following:

1 cupcake
Three animal crackers
A drink umbrella

We let the kids build their own carousels, so for each one we put a large dollop of frosting on the plate along with a plastic knife. 

For sprinkles, we liked the idea of each child having their own sprinkle container.  But, what to use?

We had used these multi-purpose containers for ranch dressing the day before.  You can find them at Walmart in the paper goods aisle. 

Using a single hole punch, I punched two holes in the top of the lid.  Put some sprinkles inside, pop on the lid, and you have your own personal sprinkle container!

The kids had a great time with them, from pre-school kiddos to the junior high aged helpers. 

Looking for a way to tie this into a Bible lesson?  Well, our verse today was on obedience.  We asked the children if their are rules/commands that you have to follow when riding on a carousel or other amusement park ride.

Some answers included:

"Don't jump off."
"Wait to get on until the ride is over."

We talked about why those rules are in place.  They are in place to keep you safe.  That't the same way with God's commands!  Then we practiced their verse with them.

I will hasten and not delay
to obey your commands. --Psalm 119:60

Hope you enjoy this fun project with your kiddos, Sunday school class, or birthday party!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Pickle Steak

Here's a fun recipe that I was introduced to when I married into the Pearce family.  Matt's mom made these for us several times, and I think they are delicious.  As an added bonus, they are quick and very easy!

Use minute steaks for these, as many as you need to feed your family.

Place a line of mustard down the middle of your steak.  Barbeque sauce is also yummy!

Place a dill pickle spear on top.

Roll up and secure with toothpicks.  Grill, turning once, about 3-4 minutes per side or until meat is no longer pink.

Today the wind was blowing about a gazillion miles an hour, so there was no way these were going outside to get cooked.  I used my George Foreman grill on medium heat.  I cooked them 4 minutes on one side, turned them, and cooked three minutes longer.  I think I could have gone with a little less time, but I like to make sure that meat gets cooked.

Hope you enjoy this one!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Chicken Bundles

If you are looking for something for lunch that is simple and is a little heartier than a PB & J, I have a recipe for you!  I got this recipe from my mother-in-law.  It's a great way to use leftover chicken.

Here's what you will need:

Refried Beans
Salsa, if desired
Shredded cheese
Diced cooked chicken
Onions, if desired
Taco seasoning

The amounts needed depend on how big your tortillas are and your own personal preferences.  I had large tortillas and only two 4 ounce pieces of chicken.  I stretched the chicken to make four of these, but I would have preferred to have a little more chicken--something like 12 ounces would have been better.

Start by spreading some refried beans on your tortilla.

Add salsa if desired and sprinkle with shredded cheese.  (We like the colby and monterray jack blend.)

Top with chicken and sprinkle with a small amount of taco seasoning.  If you are cooking chicken just for making chicken bundles, spread the chicken with a little olive oil and sprinkle on taco seasoning while you grill it--delicious!

Fold in the sides of the tortilla, wrap up, and wrap in aluminum foil.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes or until warm.  (I marked the one with salsa in it with an "S.")  Enjoy!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Easy Slow Cooker Baked Beans

I typically don't do anything more with my baked beans than just open a can and heat them up.  However, I found an easy recipe on Betty Crocker, so I decided to give it a try (with a few modifications).  I took it to a barbeque with friends the other night, and it was a hit.  My husband wanted to know who made them because they were really good!
Here's the recipe:

1 can (28 oz. ) Bush's Best Country Style Baked Beans
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz.) chili beans
1 can (10 oz.) diced tomatoes with green chiles, undrained
1/4 cup ketchup
2 - 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
6 - 8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled  (I use pre-cooked bacon, such a time-saver!)

Throw all the ingredients into your slow cooker.  Set on low and cook for 2 -3 hours until heated through. 

I think this might be a great one to take for church potluck sometime--I may even throw a pound of cooked ground beef in.  Give this recipe a try the next time you want a little something more than canned baked beans without a lot of effort.

Here's the original recipe from
Saturday, May 19, 2012

Monster Appliqued T-shirt

Sometimes it seems like I am making more things for my girls than I am for my boy.  Let's face it, those little dresses are so cute and easy!  So, I was thrilled to find the idea for this monster appliqued T-shirt.  The inspiration for this project goes to my cousin-in-law, Kendall.  She posted a picture on facebook of a T-shirt that she had made for her son (also in Kindergarten).  When I saw it, I knew I had to make one for Evan.

Start by drawing your basic design on cardstock.  Then make two copies.  Cut out the body of the monster out of your original drawing, then cut the mouth, teeth, eyes, and pupils out of your copies.  Apply wonder-under to desired fabrics.  Trace the designs backwards onto the paper of the wonder-under and cut out.  Iron on to T-shirt and applique away.  Don't forget to put some tear-away stabilizer on the back of your T-shirt underneath your design.

I recommend using lots of pins to hold your stabilizer in place.  This is the largest pattern I have appliqued onto a T-shirt, and I had a little bit of problem with the monster wanting to gather.  Some extra pins took care of that.  You can also use an iron-on stabilizer.  I have some that I have tried, but it is not as thick as my other stabilizer, so I am still getting the hang of it.

I think Evan was happy to have a project that I made for him.  For other boy-suitable projects, see "Man-pron," an apron for a boy and Appliqued Hoodie Towel.  Happy Sewing!

That said, while I was researching this project, I did find some really cute girly monters on other blogs.  This pattern could be done with some pink/flowery fabrics to suit the little girls in your family as well!
Thursday, May 17, 2012

Honey-Wheat Oatmeal Bread

This recipe is one of our family's favorites.  I found it in a Taste of Home's Healthy Cooking Magazine.  I love the convenience of making the dough in the bread machine. 

Here's the recipe:

1 1/4 cups warm water
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 cups bread flour (I use all-purpose)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast  (2 1/4 teaspoons)

In bread machine pan, place all ingredients in order suggested by manufacturer.

If you have good luck baking in your bread machine, select basic bread setting, crust color, etc. and enjoy some bread in about three hours.

I, however, do not have the patience to get the hang of how bread bakes in my bread machine.  My few attempts have not turned out that great, so I prefer to make the dough in the machine and then bake it in the oven.  So, select "dough" setting and wait until the dough is ready.

I then form the dough into a loaf and place in a greased 9 inch by 5 inch bread pan.

Let rise 30 - 45 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees about 40 minutes until done.  Bread should sound hollow when tapped.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Quick Salisbury Steak

This is one of my go-to recipes.  My kids really like it, and it's quick and easy.  I adapted the recipe from one on found here.

Here's what I did.

Quick Salisbury Steak

1 pound ground beef
1 egg
3 tablespoons crushed Ritz cracker crumbs (6 crackers)
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion (I omit because we are not an onion family)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Preheat George Foreman grill to medium. Mix all ingredients except ground beef. Crumble ground beef over the top and mix until just combined.

Shape into 6 oval-shaped patties. Place on George Foreman grill and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until browned and meat is no longer pink in the middle. 

If you don't have a George Foreman Grill, just brown in a skillet.

Meanwhile, mix one can cream of mushroom soup with 1/4 to 1/2 cup milk until smooth.

Place a small amount of gravy in the bottom of a 2 quart cooking dish.  Put meat on top and cover with remaining gravy.  (Notice a little hand that can't wait to help stir!)

Cover and bake about 20 minutes or until warmed through and gravy is bubbly.  Keep this one in mind the next time you need to get supper on the table quickly!
Monday, May 7, 2012

Cute as a Hoot Pillowcase Dress

I love pillowcase dresses; they are so easy and fun to make.  While I have never actually made one from a pillowcase, Matt's aunt Sarah showed me how to make them with fabric. 

When I found this owl fabric at Walmart the other day, I decided I needed to make it into a pillowcase dress.

I found a coordinating fabric at a local quilt shop to use for a border and for bias tape  I bought 5/8 of a yard to make a 4 1/2 inch border and bias tape.  You could also purchase bias tape, but I always have trouble finding one that matches well.  I bought 5/8 inch ribbon to use for the tie on top.

First, measure your little girl to see how long you want the dress to be.  If you are not using a border, simply add 2 3/4 inches (This measurement is for the seam allowances I used. If you do your casing/hem differently, you will need to adjust).  Line up your selvage edges of the fabric on your cutting mat, and cut this length of fabric.  I then turn my fabric and cut off the selvage edge.  Example:  I want a 22 inch dress.  I cut 24 3/4 inches of fabric.

If you are adding a border, subract 2 3/4 inches from the length that you want the dress to be.  (Again, this will be different is you use different seam/hem allowances than I do.)  Cut this length from your main fabric.  The border will make up for the additional length needed.  Then cut 6 inches of border fabric.  For my 22 inch dress, I cut 19 1/4 inches of main fabric and then cut my border fabric.

It was at this point that I noticed if I used the owl fabric in this orientation, the owls would be sideways.  Luckily, because my length and width of the dress was about equal, I was able to cut the fabric (at the fold) into two squares and turn it so that the owls would be upright.  You will notice that I have a seam on both sides instead of just one in my examples.

Turn your fabric and cut off the selvage edges. If you are using a border, pin it to the main fabric, wrong sides together. Sew it on with a 1/4 inch seam. Then sew a zig-zag, overlock, or serge stitch on the edge of the fabric. Press the seam toward the border.

For a smaller girl--up to two years old, you may want to taper the dress toward the top so there won't be so much fabric gathered there.  See my example here on the shirred dress tutorial for instructions on how to do this.

Then fold the dress, right sides together, and sew up the side with a 1/4 inch seam.  Finish the edges and press.  For mine, I lined up front and back and sewed both sides.  Make sure to line up your border.

Now you are ready to cut the armholes.  Turn the dress right-side out and fold so that your side edges are lined up.  Using a disappearing ink marker, make a mark 2 inches in.  Then make a mark however long you want your armholes to be plus the seam allowance for the casing at the top (in my case, the seam allowance is 1 1/2 inches).  I typically measure 6 inches for smaller girls and 8 inches for bigger girls. 

Draw a curved line from top mark to side mark.  Pin your fabric together and cut along this line.

This is what you end up with.  Now you either need to make your bias tape or get out the tape you purchased to finish the armholes.  See here again on my shirred dress tutorial for how to make bias tape.  I found three strips of fabric gave me more than enough for both armholes for this dress.

Now to put on the bias tape.  Open up the tape, place it underneath the dress fabric, and line up the fold with the edge of the armhole.  Place in your machine and stitch close to the edge, making sure you are getting the bias tape underneath with your stitching.

Now fold the tape over on top of the dress fabric and top stitch close to the edge of the bias tape.

To make the casing for the top, fold the edge over 1/4 inch and iron.  Then fold 1 1/4 inch again and iron.  Top stitch close to your bottom edge.  Do this on front and back.

For your bottom hem, fold the edge ove 1/4 inch and iron.  Fold again 1 inch and iron.  Top stitch.

Ta-da!  Almost done.  Now it's time to put ribbon through the casing.  I used 5/8 inch ribbon for this.  You could use a bigger or smaller ribbon--just make sure your casing is the correct size to fit it through. 

If you want the ribbon to tie on both sides, cut two 1 yard pieces.  If you are only going to tie it on one side, cut one 1 1/2 yard piece.

Attach a safety pin to the ribbon and guide it through your casing.  Try it on your little girl and adjust ribbon length if needed.  Apply fray check to the ends of your ribbon, and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

For more dress ideas, see these posts:

Guess Whoo? Pillowcase Dress

Little Cowgirl Dress

Ruffle-trimmed Shirred Dress with Matching Bolero

Bandana Dress or Skirt

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Baked Mini Omelettes

I think I have mentioned before that I am not a morning person.  I don't like to get out of bed!  As such, any recipe that can help me get breakfast on the table for my four hungry kiddos is a welcome find.

My sister-in-law Joni mentioned that she had baked eggs in muffin tins.  Hmmm. . . I did a search and found out how on  Here's what I did:

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Then grease your muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.  I cracked open 8 eggs intending to make 8 mini omelettes.  I ended up with 9 of them.  I think 10 would get you to a dozen. 

I poured in a little milk.  (As Grandma always did, I just "eye-balled" it.  I would say I put in less than 1/4 cup.)  Then I added some cheese and sliced up ham.  (Again, I just threw it in--about 1/2 cup or so.)  Mix well.  You could add any omelette ingredients here that you like.  I would love to add some mushrooms, tomatoes, and chopped spinach, but my crew would turn up its nose at that.  Keep in mind that the more things you add, the more omelettes you are going to make.

Pour into prepared pan.  It was a little hard to get the ham into the first couple of these because it sunk to the bottom of my egg mixture.  I went back and added to them as it became more visible.  Keep stirring a bit as you go to keep the toppings well-distributed.

Then put them in the oven for 15 minutes.  This was great for me.  I let my oven do the work while I got dressed and fixed my hair.
I checked mine at 15 minutes and had to bake them for 5 minutes more.  You want the eggs to be set.  If they jiggle when you move the pan, put them back in for a bit.  Let them sit in the pan for 5 minutes before removing them to your serving plate.

I served these with strawberry-banana smoothies and cinnamon rolls this morning.  (Don't give me too much credit for morning spunk--I made the rolls yesterday!)  They were a hit.  My kids liked that they could pick up their eggs like a muffin and eat them. 

Keep this recipe in mind the next time you are pressed for time in the morning, or, like me, just struggle to think of what to make for breakfast!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Mexican Meat Cups

Lately I have been in a chicken and sandwich rut with meals.  Recently, reminiscent of the former Wendy's commercials, my husband asked, "Where's the beef?"  Well, today we had some.

I got this recipe from my mother-in-law, Lois.  With only a few ingredients, they come together very quickly.  Also, my kids love them!

Mexican Meat Cups

1 pound ground beef
1 15.5 ounce can chili beans
1 can sloppy joe sauce or package of sloppy joe seasoning, 1 6 oz. can tomato paste, and 1 1/4 cups water
1 - 2 cans refrigerated biscuits
Shredded cheese
Chopped tomatoes, lettuce, sour cream, and salsa if desired

Cook ground beef.  Add chili beans and sloppy joe sauce and keep warm.  Roll out biscuits or flatten with palm to about 4 1/2 inch diameter.  Place on reverse side of muffin tins and bake at 400 degrees for 7 - 8 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve meat sauce in biscuit cups.  Top with shredded cheese and additional toppings if desired.

I cook my meat in the microwave.
Add the beans and sauce and warm up in the microwave.
Roll or flatten biscuits.  You will get the idea of how big they need to be when you put them on the muffin tins.  Place the biscuit on top of the tin and press to form.
Ready for the oven.  I usually don't grease my pan because it is nonstick.  If I spray it, then the biscuits tend to shrink up a little bit.  If you don't have a nonstick pan, you will want to grease it.
Yum!  The recipe calls for one can of ten biscuits, but I usually make twenty because my kids also like to eat these with some honey inside.
I've also made this ahead of time and put it in the crockpot for when company is coming.  Hope you reach for this one the next time you are short on time and tired of chicken!

Bandana Dress or Skirt

A few weeks ago, a friend asked me if I had seen any of those "bandana dresses."  I had not, but I was intrigued.  So, I did a Pinterest search to find one.  How cute and fun!  I used this tutorial to make the dress for my two year old.  I love that you don't have to do any hems--makes for a fairly quick project!  Plus, my husband even commented on how cute they were.

I thought the dress would be a little too short for my four year old, so I decided to make her a skirt instead.

First, I measured her to see how long I wanted the skirt to be.  I cut the bandanas and placed an overlock stitch on my cut edge.  I used this edge for the top of my skirt. 

Then I did my shirring stitches.  For shirring, I like this tutorial.  I used this technique for both the dress and the skirt.  I put ten rows of shirring stitches at the waist for the skirt. 

Then I just stitched the two bandanas together for the skirt.  You could also make a casing at the top and put elastic in if you did not want to do the shirring.

For the dress, I used 15 rows of stitching instead of the 12 called for in the tutorial because I wanted the shirred part to be a little longer.  It was also the amount of rows I could do with a full bobbin of elastic thread.  As I am shirring, sometimes I will adjust the stitch length to 4.0 or more if I am not getting the material to gather enough. When I wash it, it always seems to shrink up a bit. I'm wondering if the elastic thread shrinks when washed.

I was talking in another project about being thrifty (which I am usually not accused of being!).  Well, at only a dollar per bandana, the dress was $3, and the skirt was $2.  Not bad at all!

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