Saturday, January 31, 2009

Granola Goodness

I have been making homemade granola for about a year now and my daughter and I are really loving it. My husband never seems to touch it, but that's ok. I like it mixed with yogurt and strawberries. Abby eats it straight up with a spoon. Which is very messy. But that's ok, too.

I started out with a half batch of the Vanilla Scented Granola on Epicurious. Now I use whatever I have on hand and it usually goes something like this:

Emily's Vanilla Granola Goodness:

1 1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/8 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup quinoa, cooked
1/4 cup wheat germ or oat bran
1/2 cup puffed wheat cereal
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/6 cup canola oil
1/8 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla

Mix first set of ingredients (oats through cinnamon) together in a large mixing bowl. Combine oil and honey in microwave proof bowl (I use my 2 cup glass measuring cup) and microwave for 10 to 15 seconds, until hot and easy to stir together. Mix in vanilla. Pour over oat mixture and stir well. Spread granola on baking sheet lined with parchment paper or sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake until golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.

As I said, this is a half batch and I bake it in my toaster oven, using a pan that is about 9X9 or so. If you want to use a regular cookie sheet in a regular oven then just double it.

After granola has cooled you can add any dried fruit your little heart desires. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Valentine Garland

Several months ago I bookmarked a party garland tutorial at The Purl Bee. I meant to make a Halloween themed one for a toddler party I hosted, but got busy with the favor bags I made. So I never got around to it.

Fast forward a few months and I'm planning to host a Valentine's Day toddler playdate with my friend Amber. Seems like a perfect time to make a garland! I used The Purl Bee's template for the triangles and rectangles, but exchanged the flowers for hearts. It is so cute and so easy to make. And I felt like a ninja sewing with invisible thread.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cupcakes? Sounds like a good idea to me!

My friend, Amber, turns 30 tomorrow. This milestone needs to be celebrated. So some of her best girlfriends are getting together for a few of her favorite things. And one of my contributions is cupcakes. Yummy, yummy cupcakes.

Now, there will only be 4 people at this little gathering, so I didn't want a lot of cupcakes. So I used Amy Sedaris's vanilla cupcake recipe and only made a half batch. This gave me 12 beautiful cupcakes. I haven't tasted this batch yet, but I've used the recipe before and I find them very very tasty. They have a good vanilla flavor, almost like a sugar cookie. They definitely have a coarser texture than a box mix, but that doesn't bother me at all. The flavor makes up for it in leaps and bounds.

The frosting recipe I used is straight off the can of Hershey's cocoa. I made a half batch and the only change I made was to add 1/2 tsp instant coffee crystals when I added the cocoa to the butter. It think it adds a richness to a basic chocolate frosting. Here's the recipe from the Hershey's website:


1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Creative Gift Wrap

As the mother of a toddler and one of the organizers of my "mommy group" I have suddenly found myself invited to quite a few birthday parties over the past year or so. This is certainly a good thing because my daughter and I both really enjoy going to them.

The challenge, though, is with the gifts. I like them to be thoughtful. And useful. And not plastic. And not expensive.

And I think the way to jazz up a smaller, less expensive gift is with a thoughtful wrap job. This picture is a not too great picture of a great gift we recently brought to a birthday party for a two year old. I bought a roll of plain brown paper at Target. I like it because it works for any occasion (girl birthdays, boy birthdays, adult birthdays, Christmas, Valentine's Day, you name it), so I don't have to spend money and space on several rolls of paper. Then I had my almost three year old color all over the paper before wrapping the gift. Add some ribbon and a card and we're done. And my daughter really loves helping to wrap the gift.