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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Starfish S'mores

Starfish S'mores
Adapted from Hungry Happenings
Makes about 13 s'mores

1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch 
40 oz. marshmallows
36 graham cracker squares, crushed into crumbs
16 oz. chocolate chips (milk or semi-sweet)
Approximately 1 tbsp coconut oil or vegetable shortening
edible candy eyes

Pour crushed graham crackers into a shallow dish. I used an 8 x 8 inch baking pan. Set aside. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
Combine the powdered sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl.
Use butter or non-stick cooking spray to coat the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13 inch baking pan, then sprinkle bottom and sides with powdered sugar and cornstarch mixture. Tap the pan to remove excess. Save remaining mixture for later.
Pour marshmallows into a large microwave-safe bowl. Heat at 30 second intervals, stirring each time, until marshmallows are melted to a sticky liquid consistency. If marshmallows start to brown, they are beginning to burn. Carefully pour melted marshmallows into prepared pan and smooth top with spatula. Spraying your spatula with non-stick cooking spray, or buttering it, will keep it from sticking to the marshmallows throughout this process. Dust the top of the marshmallow with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Cover bowl of powdered sugar mixture for later use. Allow the marshmallow to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight. Wh
en ready to proceed to next steps, place marshmallow in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
Set a large cutting board on top of the pan of marshmallows. Turn both the board and the pan upside down and lightly tap the bottom of the pan. If the marshmallow doesn't fall right out, use a spatula to slowly pry it out of the pan. 

Dust a 3-inch star-shaped cookie cutter with the powdered sugar/cornstarch mixture. Press the cookie cutter into the marshmallow, remove, and press the marshmallow out onto one of the parchment-lined cookie sheets. Dust cutter again and repeat, cutting out stars until you can't cut out anymore. There will be a lot of marshmallow scraps. To make them into regular marshmallows, dust all sides with powdered sugar/cornstarch. Or, do whatever you wish with them! Place cookie sheet of marshmallow stars in the freezer.
Melt chocolate chips over a double boiler on the stove or in 30-second intervals in the microwave, stirring between each interval, until smooth. Let cool to room temperature, then stir in coconut oil or shortening to achieve thin, dip-able consistency.
Removing one star at a time from the freezer, use a fork to dip the marshmallow in the melted chocolate, coating all sides. Lift the marshmallow out with the fork, gently shake it from side to side to remove excess chocolate, then scrape the fork along the edge of the bowl to remove any excess from the bottom. Place chocolate-covered marshmallow in graham cracker crumbs. Allow to sit for 30 seconds, then use your fingers to sprinkle and gently toss the marshmallow in the crumbs so all sides are coated. Allow to dry in the crumbs for about a minute. Place graham cracker covered marshmallow on other parchment-lined cookie sheet.
Using a toothpick or the point of a sharp knife, make two small circular indentations on the marshmallow in the graham cracker crumbs where the eyes will go. Apply a tiny button of melted chocolate to the backs of the eyes and press into place.
Repeat steps 8 and 9 with remaining marshmallows. Place cookie sheet of finished marshmallows in the fridge for 15 minutes to firm up, then transfer to airtight containers. We recommend storing marshmallows in the fridge to prevent melting, but they can also be kept at room temperature. They will be good for up to one week. Use remaining graham cracker crumbs as "sand" on serving platter.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wednesday Hodge Podge

1. April showers bring May flowers or so the saying goes. Has your April been filled with showers? Do you carry an umbrella, wear a slicker, or make a run for it? Besides rain, what else has filled your April?

We have had our share of showers as well as storms. I have used an umbrella before and have one but most times I don a jacket if needed and try to dodge the rain drops. Our April has been filled with much drama, allergies and illness. Hoping May will be much better.

2. What's something you could you give a 30-minute presentation on at a moment's notice and with zero preparation?

there are many recipes, saving tips and being a mom I could share I could also share many bible stories for kids at moments notice

3. Share with us a favorite food memory from childhood.

Sunday dinner at Grandmas was full of food and I have so many great memories from then

4. What's a song you thought you knew the lyrics to, but later discovered you were wrong?

I am famous for making up my own words as I go along. So most songs I am most likely not singing lyrics correctly

5. According to one travel website, the most overrated tourist attractions in America are-
Niagara Falls (NY), Hollywood Walk of Fame (California), Times Square (NYC), Epcot (FL), Seattle Space Needle (WA), and Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market (Boston). How many of these have you seen in person? Did you feel like a tourist? Did you care? Tell us about a place (not on the list) you've visited that might be considered a tourist trap, but you love it anyway.

I have not had the opportunity to see any of these places. I believe tourist traps in my area are the large amusement parks. I truly love nature and living in Southern Illinois I am able to find lots of it

6. Your signature clothing item?

Hats, currently I have been into wearing lots of different hats

7. What's an experience you've had you think everyone should experience at least once? Why?

I believe everyone should be able to get into nature, see the caves, rivers, rocks and so much more

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Enjoy some Irish music and dance

Copycat Recipe Chicken nuggets

Chicken Nuggets
Prep Time: 3 hours
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
Yield: 8 servings
Serving Size: 6 nuggets
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 lbs skinless boneless chicken breasts (about 6 breasts), cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons black pepper
  • Peanut oil (is best) or canola oil, for frying
Combine the eggs and milk in a medium-sized bowl. Add the chicken bites and stir briefly to coat in the milk mixture. Cover and allow to marinate in the fridge for 2 to 4 hours, or up to overnight.
Using a gallon size storage bag, combine the flour, powdered sugar, salt and pepper. Seal and shake to combine. Heat the oil in a deep fryer or dutch oven (or another deep stockpot) over medium high heat until the temperature reaches 375F.
Using tongs, transfer half of the marinated chicken from the milk mixture into the storage bag with the flour. Seal and shake to coat the chicken pieces. Fry 6 to 8 nuggets at a time until cooked through and golden brown, turning once halfway. The timing will depend on the size of your nuggets, but I found that I needed to fry each batch a total of 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Repeat with remaining nuggets. Serve immediately with your favorite dipping sauce.
To freeze: Allow nuggets to cool completely, then transfer to a labeled freezer bag. Freeze for up to 1 month. Bake frozen nuggets lined on a baking sheet with a wire rack at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
Source: Adapted from My Name is Snickerdoodle
Don't forget the sauce: (honey mustard sauce)

½ cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp prepared yellow mustard
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp honey
salt and pepper, to taste
Whisk all ingredients together until smooth.

James Audubon ---- Audubon Day

John James Audubon was born April 26, 1785. He was an American naturalist and painter. He is most known for his extensive studies documenting all types of American birds and for his detailed illustrations that depicted the birds in their natural habitats.

Audubon was born in Les Cayes a french colony of Saint Domingue now known as Haiti. He grew up on his fathers sugarcane plantation. He learned the talent of slow looking. And took his time illustrating nature especially birds. The Audubon Society was established in his name. Through magazines and publications the audubon society helps demonstrate the plight of these birds.

Audubon's book Birds of America was produced in the 1830's and has over 435 color engravings in four volumes. There were only 119 copies known to exist. In 2014 the book was named on Forbes top ten most expensive books ever sold. One copy of the book sold for $12.6 million.

Robert Harvell and engraver from England used Audubon's original paintings to produce the book in London. The book was created by using copper plates to print on fine paper. The images were haind painted by workforce of colorists. Audubon organized the plates aesthetically, taking readers through an astonishing journey filled with wonder

Audubon used primarily watercolors but did use oils, ink and egg white to imitate the shine of eyes or a beak. Pastels were also used to affect the downy look of feathers. The life like poses of the birds was achievd by mounting recently killed specimens on wires.

Audubon had a deep interest in birds, their habits and habitats. He was a skilled hunter who killed large numbers of them o obtain specimens. Photography was not yet available. Hunting in this time was unregulated. His art would help bring the dead back to life.

Today, on Audubon day get outside and do a bit of bird hunting yourself

Happy Administrative Professionals Day

Everyone has some sort of leader. At my workplace we have an Administrator that leads the show and has been at it for quite some time. She has wore many different hats and has filled in whenever and wherever needed. Administrators like her should be celebrated. So if you know an administrator that works hard at her job here are a few great ideas:

  • flowers always brighten up someones day and desk 
  • Take them out to lunch or have lunch brought in for them always a great treat
  • a massage is always great to help ease up the stress of the job
  • give a gift certificate for a mani and pedi again a great stress reliever
  • I do not have the power but if I did I would offer my administrator a paid day off they deserve it

Administrative Professionals Day is observed in many places around the world. It all started during World War II when there was increased need for skilled administrative personnel. The national secretaries association was established in the U.S. The association would help recognize the work they did, support their development and open the door so more could join the workplace. The name of the association changed a few different times and now is known as the International Association of Administrative Professionals.

The IAAP set standards in tasks, qualifications and responsibilities of the members. They continue to provide education and training so that their member standards will be recognized as excellence on global perspective. The original name of this holiday was National Secretaries week and it was observed starting in 1952. In 2000 the name was changed to Administrative Professionals Day as the job titles had seemed to change and responsibilities had expanded.

Spring Time Pineapple and Pretzel Salad

Pineapple Pretzel Salad
original recipe source here

1 cup Pretzels 
 1 1/4 cup Sugar 
1 stick Butter 
8 oz Cream Cheese 
8 oz Cool Whip 
15 oz Crushed Pineapples 
2 Tbsp Corn Starch
There are three separate layers. The crust, cream cheese mixture and the scrumptious pineapple topping.
The bottom consists of 1 cup pretzels, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 stick butter. Throw the pretzels in a ziplock bag and use a rolling pin to crush the pretzels into smaller pieces. Melt the butter and combine ingredients together. You can mix in the rectangle pan to save dishes. Just press down with fingers or spatula to cover the bottom of pan and form a thin crust.
For the middle layer, combine 8 ounces of cream cheese, 8 ounces cool whip and 1/2 cup sugar. If you thaw the cool whip and soften the cream cheese ahead it takes no time to mix it together. Be careful not to over mix. Spread on top of the crust.
For the third layer you will need to strain the juice from the pineapple and set both aside. Combine the juice, 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 1/4 cup sugar in a small saucepan and heat until it is a clear, thick consistency. Remove from heat and add in the pineapple. Once that is cooled you can add it to the top of the other two layers.
Chill for four hours and you have yourself one yummy treat! Trust me, the salty/sweet combo is a winner!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sexual Assault awareness month

Sexual Assault Awareness month was created by women in the 1970s who protested against the violence they encountered as they walked the streets at night. These marches were known as Take Back The Night marches. As the protest grew word started to spread. A few years later in 1978 San Francisco and New York City held the first Take Back the Night events in the U.S.  

The early 1980s would see activists using October to raise awareness of violence against women. Domestic violence would become the main theme. This is when sexual assault advocates started to look for a new month to focus attention on the issues. 

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Sexual assault is an extremely pervasive issue in the United States. It is considered any form of penetration, attempted penetration, forcing someone to perform a sex act, sexual touching, verbal harassment an more. 

If you have been sexually assaulted please report so that you will not be one 1 of the 7 that do not report

World Penguin Day

World Penguin Day coincides with the annual northward migration of penguins. Each year on or around April 25th penguins will walk or waddle their way to the northern part of their destination. You will fin penguins in their natural habitats of Antarctica, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, the Falkland an Galapagos Islands.

Penguins are adored around the world. They are adorable with their waddle, stylish look and quirky personalities. As you may have noticed today April 25th is World Penguin day. This day was created to promote the health and conservation of these amazing creatures. Penguins are unique and an important part of our world. Zoos, parks, and conservationist will all help promote the day.

Penguins are considered to be the world's most popular bird. Over the past 100 years the penguin population has dropped in numbers. There are 17 species of penguins living through the worl. They come in a variety of sizes and each species has their own distinctive patterns and markings of black and white. Penguins are superior swimmers but on land they look a bit clumsy. They may spend up to 75% of their time in water. all hunting is done in the water as well.

Oreo Penguin Snack

I bought some Oreo cookies and was getting ready to make a snowman snack (that I will post about later), when Sarah said, 'Hey Mom, let's make these oreos into PENGUINS!'

What a great idea - why didn't I think of that!

Here is our little
Oreo Penguin

The eyes and beak are made from fruit snacks.


Safe Digging Month

National Safe Digging Month aims to remind all to call 811 before digging. This simple call can and does prevent traffic delays, evacuations and in serious cases injury. The federal communications commission first declared April as National Safe Digging Month in 2005. 

The 811 program is provided at no charge and prevents the risk of outages and threats to life and property. When  person calls 811 the national number a person will be sent out to have all utility lines marked. It is also the law in every state that all excavators call 811 at least 2 business days before digging on public or private property. 
So you may be asking why it is so important to make the call before digging. The land is made up of a complex underground infrastructure of pipelines, wires, and cables. More than 100 billion feet of underground utilities in the United States.Striking an underground utility line can cause harm to you or those around you, disrupt service, and possibly result in fines and repair cost. 


DIY ManiPedi Gift Jar

The definition of a mani pedi is a manicure and a pedicure, meaning having your nails cleaned and polished on both your hands and your feet. They are often considered a treat for many. I do not like taking the time to get them done by a professional or spending the money either. So if you are like me or have someone in your life you care for and deserves the best check out this DIY gift

  • Generous sized jar (I repurposed a tomato sauce jar and sprayed the lid silver, but you could use a bought Mason Jar)
  • Nail files 
  • Pedicure kit made up of Nail clippers, scissors, cuticle care
  • Nail Polish 
  • Cotton balls and Q-tips
  • Free Printable Pedi in a Jar Gift Tags (They print 6 on a page so you can make several to gift!)
  • Free Tissue paper 

  • Fill the jar with the supplies an attach the label

    resource here

  • National DNA day

    National DNA day celebrates the successful completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003. The discovery of DNA's double helix in 1953. This day offers students , teachers and the public an opportunity to learn about and celebrate the latest advance in genomic research and explore how those advances might impact their lives.

    DNA has many uses including:

    even more uses

    Swiss Chard and a great recipe to try

    Swiss chard is not native to Switzerland  but rather the Mediterranean. The ancient Greeks and Romans honored chard for its medicinal properties. 
    Swiss Chard is one vegetable rich in nutrients, antioxidants as well as cardioprotective flavonoid. Chard also contains syringic acid that can help regulate blood sugar. To cook swiss chard slice leaves 1 inch wide an the stems 1/2 inch wide an boil for 3 minutes. One should only eat the stems of varieties with white stems. 

    Sautéed Swiss Chard with Pancetta
    Adapted from Sunset

    3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    1/2 cup (2 oz.) chopped pancetta
    2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
    2 fresh red chiles such as Fresno or jalapeño, finely chopped
    2 pounds Swiss chard, leaves whole, stems and ribs removed and chopped
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook pancetta, stirring, until crispy, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, chiles, and chard stems and ribs and cook until slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Add chard leaves and pepper, cover pot, and cook until wilted, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes.

    Cold War Brownies

    Cold War BrowniesAdapted from David Lebowitz
    Makes a 9″ pan
    6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
    4 oz bittersweet chocolate
    Rounded 1/2 cup sugar
    2 large eggs, room temperature
    1/2 cup flour
    1 tbsp Dutch-processed cocoa powder
    2 tsp chili powder
    2 tsp cinnamon
    1/8 tsp salt
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
    Topping8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
    1 large egg yolk
    5 tbsp sugar
    1/8 tsp vanilla extract
    1 tbsp cinnamon
    4 tbsp Nutella
    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×9″ pan with foil, allowing it to hang over the edges. Lightly grease.
    In a saucepan, melt the butter and bittersweet chocolate together. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar, then the eggs. Add the flour, cocoa, chili powder, cinnamon, and salt and mix in. Finally, stir in the vanilla and chocolate chips. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan.
    In a mixer, beat together the cream cheese, egg yolk, sugar, and cinnamon. Drop dollops of the cream cheese mixture on top of the brownies. Drop dollops of nutella, too. Use a dull knife to swirl the whole thing. (Alternatively, mix the nutella into half of the cream cheese mixture and swirl. Or leave the nutella out.)
    Bake 35 minutes, or until just set. Let cool completely before lifting out and cutting into bars. Store in the fridge

    Our Children Grow Fast

    With April being a month to salute poetry an so many mothers seeing their children participate in activities from first time in little league to going to prom an soon graduation.