Saturday, March 9, 2013

Baby Shower Candy Game

I threw a baby shower today for a friend of mine at church and there's a game I play at every shower I do: the Candy Game.  It gets rave reviews every time and it's a game where everyone can win something so it's better than games where only one person gets a prize.  It's also way easy to prepare, which gets two thumbs up from me.
By the way, another thing I do at every baby shower I throw is to put an insert into the invitations saying that any guest who brings a package of any size diapers for the mom-to-be will be entered into a raffle for a prize (today I gave out a $10 gift certificate for Target).  That way it helps the mommy to build up a little stock of diapers.
Anyway, back to the game thing:  Get 2 posterboards or foam-core boards and construction paper in 2 different colors.  The candy list that I have is really long so I just pick 20-25 candies from the list.  This is essentially like playing Memory.  One board has lift-up flaps with numbers and the other board has letters.  Each person gets to pick a letter and a number on her turn and see if the phrase underneath matches.  If so, the person wins a candy that corresponds to that phrase.  This game always gets lots of laughs and everyone has fun trying to guess what the candy will be to match the different phrases.

For example, Mary picks D & 18.  Lift up the flap for D and it says "Girl's Name", and 18 says "Girl's Name".  Yay, she got a match!  So Mary would win a Baby Ruth candy bar.  If she hadn't gotten a match, you would move on to the next person.  If a match is made, then remove those flaps from both boards, so that eventually they're all gone by the end of the game.  Please forgive me for explaining how to play Memory as if you're only 6, but I'm just trying to be thorough.

Here are my 2 foam-core boards.  Normally I just use posterboards if I know I'll have a wall to tack them on, but I knew that today I wouldn't have enough wall space at the venue for the shower, so I used foam-core so they'd sit up on their own without support.

So you can see I've cut up my construction paper into flaps that are taped at the top so I can lift them up.  Therefore, I wrote the phrases upside down so that when I lift the flap up, they will be right side up (get it?).

OK, now for the part you've all been waiting for:  the list of phrases and candies. Some have multiple phrases or candies that go with them so you have lots of choices depending on what you're able to find at the store.  I strongly recommend hitting the dollar store for as many as you can.  They usually have an uncanny selection and you can get the large theatre box sizes, which make your guests feel like they totally scored a major prize.

1.         Medical TeamThree Musketeers
2.         Girl’s name - Baby Ruth
3.         Boy’s name - Clark/ Jolly Joes/ Oh Henry!/ Heath
4.         Twins - Mike n’ Ike/ Twix/ Doublemint or Dubble Bubble gum
5.         Ultrasound picture - Whatchamacallit
6.         Umbilical cord - Red Rope/ Red Vines
7.         Condition you hope the baby is in - Mint (York peppermint pattie or choc-mint bar)
8.         Epidural - Lifesavers
9.         Your stomach between contractions - Jelly Belly jellybeans
            OR Your stomach after delivery            
10.       Newborn baby - SweeTarts
11.       Pregnant woman/ Mama - Hot Tamales
12        Mother 9 months after delivery - Slim Jim (beef jerky stick)
13.       What nursing helps a new mom do - SlimFast (protein bar)
14.       What a new mom has to learn to do - Balance (energy bar)

15.       Lactating breasts - Milky Way/ Gushers/  Mounds/ Whoppers
16.       Baby who can’t nurse - Milk Duds
17.       What Baby does inside Mommy - Tootsie Roll/ Kickerz/ Mamba/ Rolo
18.       A husband who wants another baby right away - Dum Dums (lollipops)/ nuts/ Goobers
19.       Hospital bill - $100,000 Grand
20.       Mom’s biggest helper - Grandma ("Grandma's" brand cookies)
21.       Babies of  diabetic mothers - Sugar Babies
22.       Labor pains - Whoppers/ Jawbreakers (Gobstoppers)/ Tearjerkers
23.       Bonding with Baby - Almond Joy/ Hershey’s Kisses or Hugs
24.       Baby’s first words - Abba Zaba/ Zagnut
25.       Side effect of pregnancy - Airheads
26.       Newborn baby’s misshapen head - Lemonheads
27.       Parents who pre-register at the hospital - Smarties
28.       Mommy cooing at Baby - Dove chocolates
29.       When a new mom needs a break - Take 5
30.       What you hope dr. doesn’t have - Butterfingers
31.       Baby’s first laugh - Snickers, Chuckles
32.      Preemies - Runts
33.      Son named after father - Junior Mints
34.      Sound a nursing baby makes - M&M’s
35.      Family adviceGood n’ Plenty
36.      Pregnant woman’s nerves - Brittle (peanut brittle)
37.      Location of hospital5th Avenue
38.      Nursing baby - A sucker/ Nips
39.       Morning sickness - Now & Later
40.       Some pregnancies/ 1st trimester - Rocky Road
41        2nd Trimester - Spree/ Carefree gum
42.       When your water breaks - Starburst/ Gushers/ Xploder/ Splashers gum
43.       Day you deliver - Payday
44.       What you give Baby lots of - (Hershey's) Kisses
45.       Sound of a baby to a mom’s ears - Symphony
46.       Multiples - Sixlets
47.       Baby fat - Chunky/ Rolo/ Big Hunk
48.       Fussy baby - Cry Babies
49.       Quiet baby sounds - Peeps (at Easter time)
50.       Baby’s eyes - Look!
51.       An only child - U-No
52.       Daddy - Mr. Goodbar, Big Hunk, Oh Henry!, Heath, Clark
53.       Baby’s cheek - Kissables (Hershey’s candy-coated kisses)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


At the church Christmas breakfast in December one of the gals had made some fabulous granola that I couldn't get enough of, and I begged her for the recipe.  A couple of the ingredients could use a healthy makeover, so I changed it up a bit, added a couple of extras and now it's just perfect.  Also, this recipe is HUGE, so I only make a half batch.  Half a batch is all you can fit onto one jelly roll pan, so you'd need two to make a whole batch.  The recipe below is the whole batch, so I cut it half to make mine.

9 cups old-fashioned oats
1 tsp salt
1/2-3/4 cup ground flax
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup honey
1 cup melted butter or coconut oil
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 325.  In a VERY big bowl mix the oats, flour, salt, flax, and coconut.  In a microwaveable glass bowl, melt the butter in the microwave on high for 30 seconds or until almost melted.  Add the honey to the butter and cook for another 30 seconds until well heated (put a napkin on top to stop splatters).  Mix the butter and honey well and add vanilla.  Pour over dry ingredients and mix thoroughly to coat.  Turn onto an ungreased jelly roll pan, spread out evenly, and bake for 20 minutes take out and stir, then bake another 20 minutes.  Cool completely then store in an airtight container.
I get my shredded coconut from the health food store so it's natural and unsweetened, thus eliminating that sugar.  I only make half a batch of this because it's a huge amount and I don't have a container big enough to store it.  Also, you can only fit half a batch on a jelly roll pan, or you would have to use two pans and do two bakings.  That's okay if you have a double oven and can do it all at once, but I don't, so I only do half a batch.

I eat this like it's going out of style!  It's so good, I crave it all day.  I use it like cereal with coconut or almond milk.  I also eat lots of it with vanilla yogurt.  Last night I ate it with apples dipped in peanut butter then dipped in the granola.  That was a little bit awesome.  So try it out on lots of stuff and see what you think.

Healthy Breakfast Muffins

Well, I've been at it again: making recipes from Pinterest.  This one caught my eye because it has no flour or sugar. I tried to find the original author's website, but it keeps sending me to nowhere land.  Sorry, I'd love to give the cook the credit if I could just find her.  At any rate, I've adapted the recipe so it's kind of mine now, or at least my version.

These were so awesome I could eat them all day long (and I did)!  They're totally healthy so I have no guilt.  The first time I made these the only adaptation I made was to add a dash of salt.  They were okay, but the flavor was so mild as to be bordering on bland (I still ate the whole batch myself).  So I thought of how I could improve it and still keep it healthy.  Here's what I've come up with:

3 mashed bananas (very ripe)
1 cup vanilla almond milk (or coconut milk)
2 eggs
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup honey
2 pkts Truvia (stevia)
1 scant tsp salt
3 cups oats (I used quick oats)
1/2 cup ground flax
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup dried cranberries or blueberries or mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 and put cupcake liners into 2 muffin tins (this recipe makes 17-18).  In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas, then mix in the milk, eggs, baking powder, vanilla, honey, Truvia, and salt, stirring after each addition.  Add oats and mix thoroughly.  If you are using any of the optional ingredients, add them with the oats.  Fill the cupcake liners almost full (these don't expand very much - I used an ice cream scoop).  Bake for about 19 minutes or until done.  Let cool in pans for about 10 minutes, then turn out and let cool upright completely before storing in an airtight container.

 You can see from the picture that I've already eaten one.  By the time I wrote this post, I'd eaten a few more.  You will probably eat all of these in one day just like I did last time.

Now, obviously if you use the dried berries or chocolate chips, you're adding sugar into the recipe, so be aware that that will diminish the perfect healthiness of the muffins.  I don't care at all, I add cranberries anyway, because it's delicious.  If, however, you don't add dried berries or chocolate chips (or use sugar-free ones), this then will be the perfect snack (or feast, in my case) for anyone with diabetes or Celiac, since it will be sugar-free and gluten-free. That's great in my family since my dad has Celiac and my mom is diabetic. 2 for 2!  You can also add some brewers yeast and these will then be good lactation muffins for nursing mommies like myself.

So try these out and send me your thoughts and suggestions.  Perhaps you have a good idea about more optional ingredients.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Ten Pretty Nails

My two older daughters and I like to play nail salon.  I've always loved having fresh polish on, even when it's just a clear coat to keep my nails protected.  For years I went without getting any new polishes, but I'm a big couponer and I've been watching the sales so I started acquiring polishes again.  LOTS of polishes.  I think I came home with ten one time (I got them for 69c each!).  Every time I bring home a new polish the girls get giddy and impatient to try it out.  Plus, Mommy does nail art on them too, and they really like to show it off to their friends at school. So here are some of the things we've been doing lately.  We've also gotten some inspiration from Pinterest.

It's snow season now so we've done some snowflakes. The blue is Bijou Blue by Wet n' Wild, then I did nail art with white and silver.
I found some nail art polish (the kind with the long, skinny brush specifically for making lines and drawings) at Dollar Tree, no joke.  So I bought almost every color they have.  I use the white and the silver glitter the most.  My close-up shot is a bit blurry.  It's hard to get a clear picture with a cell phone.

I really like the look of a good French tip and we have lots of great colors to do tips, so here's a purple version.  I used a sheer purple by Pure Ice for the main color and then Purple Heart by Cutex for the tips.  I did nail art on my ring fingers in white and silver glitter, and added a silver dot on all other nails.

We have a few of the Sally Hansen magnetic nail polishes, which we love so much.  I did Rachel's nails with the purple, and my toenails with the copper color.  I usually keep my kids' nails really short, but I let my two older daughters grow out their nails a bit because we're doing polish all the time now and I need the space to be able to do nail art or make magnetic polish show up better.

Last night we played Christmas nail salon and Rachel wanted alternating nail colors with white dots that look like snow falling.  The red is Jezebel by Wet n' Wild, and the green is some very old discontinued Sally Hansen thing that I think I've had for over 15 years.

This was very hard to do on my own nails.  I made an ornament with tiny details.  I did the same on my daughter Alice's nails and it was a little bit easier because I was able to do both of hers with my right hand instead of struggling to draw and paint with my left hand.  Again, I used Jezebel by Wet n' Wild and that old Sally Hansen green one.  I used China Gold by Sinful Colors for the small top part of the ornament that the hook comes out of, and then I clear coated the heck out of my nails because I do not want this chipping off any time soon!  That was a lot of work.

I only ever do my nails during nap time or after the babies have gone to bed at night so they're out of the way and not interrupting me or needing me to get stuff while my nails are wet.  Then I can leisurely watch some TV while my nails dry. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Gluten Free Pie Crust, Part II

OK, I made another gluten free pie last night and this time I actually took pictures.  This should help as a supplement to my last post.

I made the two pie crusts per the recipe in the last post, this time I used shortening instead of butter and it was waaaaaaaaaay better.  The shortening and xanthan gum really make it stay together instead of crumbling apart.  Then I wrapped both crusts in plastic wrap after shaping them into discs and put them in the fridge.  I was intending to make the pie later, but then the water line behind our fridge burst, and then a knitting student showed up for a lesson, so the pie got put off, which is okay because the crusts got to chill overnight so they were super ready for rolling.

I used a silicone mat on top of my pie rolly-outy mat (that's a technical term there). The pie mat protects the crust from rolling out over the edge of the silicone mat and getting stuck to the counter.  The silicone mat is handy for flipping the crust over into the pie pan so it doesn't crack and break into pieces (since GF pastries are inclined to crumble, though this one did remarkably well at staying in one piece).  Then I just gently peeled away the sil-mat.

Here I have the top crust on now (after finishing the bottom crust, pricking it with a fork, and adding the peach pie filling).  I trimmed the edges, pressed to seal them, and then used a fork to make a pretty edge.  Then I cut slits in the top in a pretty pattern to let the steam escape.  Almost done.

I brushed the top with some melted butter.  I've also been told you can use milk; I just happened to use butter.  Then I covered the edges with aluminum foil to keep them from burning and........

...popped it in the oven at 375 for about 1 hour 20 minutes, checking it every 10 minutes after the first 55 (I live at a high altitude, so my cooking time is long; I think normal time would be around 55-60 minutes).  I took the foil off the last 10 minutes.  I have got to remember to put a baking sheet under it next time, because it oozed glaze and now I have to clean the oven rack and replace my oven liner.  NEVER go without an oven liner, trust me!  ALWAYS have one in the oven!

Et voila!  That is a good lookin' pie! I could have probably browned it a bit more if I'd given it another 10 minutes or so, but I'd rather not have any burnt or dried out crust.  I like it just the way it is.  I'll serve it with whipped cream or ice cream tonight at dinner.

Viva la gluten free!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gluten Free Pie Crust

My dad has Celiac so I've learned to do a LOT of gluten free cooking over the last couple of years.  In fact, my sister and I have become quite adept at making GF recipes taste like the real thing - and that's the problem with most GF recipes and commercially available GF products: they taste like garbage!  And all those poor unfortunate gluten free folks out there have simply reconciled themselves to their fate of having a disease that forces them to have to accept horrible tasting, poor renditions of normal food that they used to eat.  So my sister and I have done gobs of trial and error experiments and have come up with some stuff that you'd never know is GF.  I'll include some here on my blog once in a while so others can finally know what it's like to eat decent tasting food again.

I had some crust bits left over after making a pie for Thanksgiving and made it into an apple pie type thingy that I made up as I went along.

 OK, these pictures were taken after I'd already eaten half of it.  It was so good!

So all of this is about a GF pie crust I made for Thanksgiving.  I had gone all over town trying to buy a GF pie crust, but everyone was out, so I knew I'd have to just make one from scratch.  I looked online and found a recipe from that sounded do-able and got to work.


I want to share the recipe I use for GF all-purpose flour mix.  The main problem with most GF flours at the store is that they're made from about a hundred different kinds of flours and other ingredients and preservatives.  And even the GF flour mix recipes that you find online or in most GF cookbooks still include a long list that is not only intimidating, but also VERY EXPENSIVE to put together.  Last year my folks were at a GF expo and met a gal who had published a GF cookbook of real live every day food that people actually eat in average homes across America (not all that frou-frou stuff that you find in most GF cookbooks, as if you get diagnosed with Celiac and immediately develop a fine taste for gourmet shi-shi food that takes two hours to prepare, rather than wanting to eat what you've been eating for all your life).  The gal's name is Christina Davis, and her book is called "Irresistibly Gluten Free: Simple Family Favorite Recipes".
Irresistibly Gluten Free by Christina Davis published by Brigham Distributing (2010) [Paperback]

She has developed the shortest recipe for the simplest GF flour I've ever heard of, which she calls "UNflour".  I also want to point out that every commercial GF flour is made of very heavy non-wheat flours, so no wonder your final result is a rock hard loaf of bread or concrete pancakes.  If you want your food to turn out light and fluffy, you have to use light and fluffy ingredients in your GF mix.  This is not rocket science (yet the commercial GF industry still hasn't figured this out, but I, a nobody housewife with no food industry experience, has.  Gee, funny that.)  So here's the mix and I want you to note that it does not use any of those expensive non-wheat flours, this is all very cheap):

For a small batch:
3 c. rice flour (I use brown)
2 1/2 c. cornstarch
1 1/2 c. tapioca flour

That's it!  No laundry list of ingredients.  And you can see that these ingredients are inherently light and fluffy - the cornstarch really helps keep it light - but more importantly, these do not have any strong flavor that will taint all your food (that's the hugest secret in GF cooking: NOT making everything taste like that nasty flour mix).  I buy my cornstarch for $1 per box at Walmart, and the two flours at my local health food store, Good Earth ($1.09/lb for brown rice flour, $1.25/lb for tapioca flour- at those prices you can afford to make a double or triple batch).  I put all my ingredients in my designated UNflour container and then put the lid on and just shake it to mix it.  It's way too simple, please try it yourself, you'll never go back.  Oh by the way, any time you're using GF flour, you must also add a small amount of xanthan gum to your recipe.  It's a binder and GF flours are usually made of things that don't really bind together, so you need xanthan gum, usually only about 1/2-1 tsp. per normal size batch of regular pastries like cookies, cakes, etc.  A batch of cookies might need 1 tsp, but a cake might only need 1/2 tsp.


So I found a recipe online which looked awfully similar to normal wheat flour-based pie crust, just with GF flour instead, and I made a few modifications to suit my needs.  However, the website's GF flour mix was long and involved and had ingredients that were heavy and would taint the flavor, so I just substituted my good ol' UNflour and away we went!  So here's my version of the recipe:

1/2 cup Crisco or unsalted butter, very cold
1 1/4 cup UNflour, plus more for rolling out
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
2-4 Tbsp. ice cold water

Cut shortening into 1/2" pieces and freeze 15-30 minutes.  In a food processor combine UNflour, xanthan gum, salt, & sugar; pulse 5-6 times.  Add shortening and pulse 6-8 times (until it resembles coarse meal).  With processor running, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until dough just barely clumps together.  Form dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap; chill at least one hour before rolling out.  Makes 1 crust.

My notes: I used butter the first time I did this, but I strongly suggest Crisco (no other brand!) because shortening really works better for making a pie crust stay together.  The biggest key to this recipe is to keep everything ICY COLD.  I made a double crust peach pie and both crusts mixed up really quickly and were in the fridge chilling in no time at all.

I can't believe this thing is gluten free, it tastes so good!!!!!!  I seriously am wondering if someone mixed some crack into my UNflour because I couldn't stop going back for more, it was so delicious it was addictive, and it was the CRUST that made it taste so good.  To me, UNflour tastes almost like regular wheat flour when baked up.  OK, I've blabbed long enough.  Bye.