For some unknown reason I felt completely obligated to have a big birthday party for my 4 year old and 1 year old, insert pinterest. I pretty much went pinterest crazy at this party. The menu included bug pizzas inspired by this pin , JELLO worms , caterpillar grapes   . There were also cupcakes made using the How to Make You Even Fatter I mean how to make a cake mix better.

The bug pizzas were a cute idea but none of the 15 kids ages 2-8 actually made a bug design with their pizza toppings. They just made pizzas which was cool too. I didn’t rate these since we didn’t actually do them and really, there were no instructions.

The JELLO worms were a crazy hit. Basically you add cream to raspberry jello and food coloring, rubberband the straws together and pour the mixture into the straws. Use an orange juice box, it’s really the best idea to stand up the straws. Also buy the fattest straws you can. I had to run each straw under hot water for 20 seconds not the few seconds they mentioned and then squeeze the straws out. The worms really looked real. There was lots of screaming. So Worms, Difficulty – 3, there was a lot of busy work involved, Results – 5, very cool

          

The caterpillar link has changed so I linked you to the picture. It suggested using cream cheese to attach the chocolate chips at eyes but I kinda wondered what kid would eat cream cheese on a grape and decided the stickiest substance on the face of the earth was marshmallow fluff so I used that. It still slid down the grapes a bit. I applied with a toothpick and kind of rolled the fluff on. I also found candy googly eyes at Michaels so I used those instead of chocolate chips, so yeah, basically I didn’t follow much from the original pin but really, how can marshmallow fluff and candy googly eyes ever be wrong. I made the caterpillar heads and laid them flat so nothing would make it slide down. Right before I served them I skewered them with the rest of the grape kabobs. Difficulty – 3, they weren’t difficult once I figured it out but kinda fussy. Results – 5, they were really cute and the kids loved it.

The doctored up cake mix was used for cupcakes. I used pilsbury devil’s food cake mix then added an additional egg, used double the oil but sub melted butter and milk instead of water. I really can’t see that this made a big difference as opposed to regular cake mix. It tasted the same to me. Difficulty – 1, Resuslts 2. Meh, don’t waste the calories. I also read on that same blog to mix frosting with marshmallow fluff, that crap was divine. Do it, then lick the spatula and use it sparingly so you can eat any extra.

The activities were pinterest inspired as well.

            

Rock Bugs  were a big hit. I used washable paints, glitter glue, pipe cleaners, googly eyes,  sequins, and hot glue. There was a bit of figuring with this, we had to have the kids paint the rocks immediately so they would dry in time to decorate later. Other than the logistics, it was easy and the kids had fun. I had to use hot glue to attach all the wings, googly eyes, and pipe cleaners. It would have helped to have 2 glue guns, hindsight is 20/20.  Difficulty – 2, Results – 5 they were glittery awesomeness.

          

We also did a bug hunt and made bug habitats. This was also crazy popular. I had about 150 bugs and a bug net bought from the Target $1 spot. We used mason jars for their habitats. I bought pebbles, moss, and we found sticks. After the bug hunt which involved my husband and I throwing bugs everywhere in our backyard and lining up all the kids on the patio before releasing them to find bugs, they brought back their bugs and put all sorts of moss or rocks in their jars and put their bugs in there. It was pretty cool but messy. I was very glad we did this outside with the dust from the moss and pebbles.  Difficulty – 1 , Results – 5

Their goodie bags had the butterfly bags, and all sorts of bug crap from oriental trading (bug gliders, tattoos, bug magnifying glasses, etc).  We made the clothes pins ahead of time and it was easy for Drew to do, he just painted them with washable paint, I hot glued the googly eyes on and we just curled the pipe cleaners around. Just pick something easy to put in the bags. It’d be easier to use one thing, I did banana chips and yogurt covered raisins and that was kind of a pain, keeping things separated.  Difficulty – 2, Results – 5

So overall, I put way too much thought into my kids’ party but hey it was fun and check out all this cool pinterest stuff I got to try out!

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For some reason, whenever I need to bring a dessert (or pretty much any food item) to an event, I feel like it has to be extra special.  The plain simply will not do.  That’s where these brownies come in.

Yes, your standard, out-of-a-box brownie is tasty on a Tuesday night when you just want to eat the whole pan instead of going to the gym.  But when you’re bringing a dessert to an event where everyone is going to be dressed to the nines, you want to make something that fits the occasion.

The pin I originally followed was to here: http://www.loveandlemons.com/2012/04/19/raspberry-goat-cheese-swirl-brownies/ , but I wasn’t going for “healthy” brownies, so I followed her link to this post:  http://www.thekitchn.com/sweet-recipe-raspberry-goat-cheese-brownies-165612, and that is what I was looking for.

I opted to use frozen raspberries (organic), and used Cointreau, because that was the only liqueur I had on hand (I know, it is a travesty that I’m from Wisconsin and don’t own any brandy).

I also chose to melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave.  Who has time for a double boiler?
Difficulty 1-5: 2

Results 1-5:  4.5 (even my picky mother-in law enjoyed them)

I LOVE caramel corn. However, it can be really annoying when the hulls get stuck in your teeth. The solution? Use puffcorn! I’ve made this recipe twice now and it’s been a hit. It’s pretty easy to do, but a little time consuming.

Tips:
-Turn off the burner before adding the baking soda
-Make sure you stir thoroughly at 10-15 min intervals, and do the entire 40-45 minutes.
– Use two large cookie sheets with lips instead of a roasting pan
-For clean up, just add a little water to the pans and let soak. The caramel will then come off quite easily

Original source: http://tastykitchen.com/recipes/appetizers-and-snacks/puffcorn-caramel-corn/
(The recipe was also on the back of the puffcorn packages that I bought)

Difficulty 1-5: 2
Results 1-5: 5

If you have kids and you celebrate Easter and you want to have a little bit more fun on Easter morning before/after church, this is perfect.  It’s obviously not something you can screw up, unless your toddler doesn’t buy into it.  Then, well, you’re out of luck.

My son was just over 3 when he and I planted jelly beans in the garden last year.  I put on a big show about it and let him know that magical jelly beans can only be planted the night before Easter and that when we got home from church the next morning the jelly beans would have grown.  His little mind raced with what they could possibly grow into.  The next morning, I popped the big colorful lollipop in the ground, diverted his attention until after church and then watched his little face light up as he ran to the garden when we got home.  So basically, if you can handle straying from the real reason of Easter, this is well worth it.  I’m hoping he will buy into it this year too. 🙂

Original Source:  http://cjaneblog.blogspot.com/2010/03/cutest-easter-tradition.html

Difficulty 1-5:  1

Result 1-5: 5

Baked (not fried!) Cinnamon Breakfast Bites - simple and yummy!... On the list to try soon!

This has been on my Pinterest for months now, just waiting for the right time to make them with my little boy.  We are not big donut fans in this house.  In fact, I’m quite certain my 3 1/2 year old had never had one before, but he sure was excited to assist with this baking project.
Let it be known that I am not a baker and don’t even pretend to try to be.  Love to cook, borderline hate to bake.  But it’s donut bites, how hard could it be?  Turns out it was very easy, even with the (un)steady hand of my son helping.

Things I would modify next time, because yes, I WILL make these again!

1.  Add a splash of vanilla extract

2.  Add a Tablespoon more of milk (batter was just a bit too dry, I think)

3.  Lessen bake time by 2 minutes.

They are yummy though, they will just be even better next time.

I should probably add that if you are looking for a “typical” cinnamon & sugar donut hole, this is not it.  It is definitely the healthier version since these are reduced in calories and most importantly, they are baked, not fried.

 

Original Source:  http://ohmysugarhigh.com/scrumptious-baked-cinnamon-breakfast-bites-recipe/

Difficulty 1-5:  2

Results 1-5:  4 (hoping for a 5 next time with the modifications!)

I’m not a big fan of spicy food but this sounded DELISH so I figured, what the hell, I’ll give it a try. The only changes I made were no bacon and I used Panko bread crumbs instead of whole wheat. All I can say is this chicken is AMAZING. By far the best thing I’ve made from Pinterest so far. We serve it with wild rice and make it at least once a week. Sometimes more.

Instead of using chicken cutlets which I found way too messy I cut a pocket in the chicken breast, almost like I’m butterflying it and then put the filling in and then dip in the lime juice mixture and toss in Panko. The cooking temp and time are just about perfect in my gas oven.

Original Source – http://www.skinnytaste.com/2012/04/cheesy-jalapeno-popper-baked-stuffed.html

Difficulty 1-5 – 3 only because of the separate containers and time involved when you first try this.

Results 1-5 – 5, it has become a weekly staple in our menu.


I saw the pin for Skinny Pool-Side Dip and honestly pinned it just because it said “skinny” and I’m a sucker for the so-called “guilt free” recipes.

Both times I’ve made this dip, I’ve halved the recipe as the original calls for 16 oz of cream cheese (two packages) and I rarely need that much dip. The first time I made it, as pictured above, I ran to a very small local grocery that did not have fat-free cream cheese that the original recipe called for so I subbed in low-fat cream cheese instead. It was a hit at book club.

The second time I made the dip, I used fat-free cream cheese as prescribed. I won’t make that mistake again. The dip was very runny as, for whatever reason, the fat-free product never seemed to re-solidify after being softened to make the dip.

I did encounter friends who don’t like olives, so I might substitute black beans to give it a more southwestern flavor when entertaining certain company and retain the same color profile.

Overall I loved the dip, loved that it is at least somewhat guilt-free, and found it simple to make.

Original source: Home Trends Utah
Difficulty (1-5): 1, unless you have hesitations around jalapeno peppers
Result (1-5): 4, only because some people aren’t crazy about olives

“To hang your display, try laying all of the photos out on a table or floor within an area that’s about the size of your wall space. Rework the arrangement until you are satisfied. Use self-stick notes to number the pictures and make a sketch of the layout. Or, like the photo shown here, cut out paper in the shape of each frame and tape these up on the wall before installing the picture hooks.” ~ from Better Homes and Gardens

So I did this, but still managed to screw up a little. My recommendations:

1) If you have a light colored wall, use a dark colored paper

2) Be really sure about your frame/mat selections before doing the paper thing. After snapping this photo I said, “Oh, snap.” And then switched out the middle frame with another that was matted. It looks much better now. This changed my spacing, but I didn’t move the side ones.

3) Nail up a few frames and then adjust – don’t do it all at once, that way you can fix mistakes (like point #2). That bottom row? It’s now spread out much further – the two ends actually are about 2 cm wider than the top row. SO much easier to do when it’s paper and not nails all over my beautiful stenciled wall.

4) Do the tape so it’s hidden – I kept getting distracted by the BLUE tape and it obscured the edges for lining things up.

Original source: Better Homes and Gardens via a popular Centsational Girl pin.
Difficulty (1-5): 2    You have to use scissors, people. Wear your safety goggles.
Result (1-5): 4    I still had to make adjustments after, but that was user error.

-Britta

I have an obsession with dipping things in chocolate. If there is anyone at work who doesn’t know me by name, I’m probably “that girl who brings in chocolate dipped treats.” I especially love making treats on a stick.

So how genius are s’mores on a stick? I was inspired by this pin. I decided to make them for a play date with the thought that kids would go nuts over something like this.

I altered the recipe in the following ways:

  • I used Wilton chocolate melts instead of Nutella
  • I dipped the entire marshmallow in the chocolate because, well, the more chocolate the merrier!
  • I used lollipop sticks instead of the wooden popsicle variety

Tip: to make sure your marshmallow stays attached to the stick when you dip, first dip the tip of the stick into the chocolate, then spear the marshmallow. Pop into the fridge until the chocolate hardens, then proceed with dipping. Then sprinkle the bottom half of the dipped marshmallow with the crumbs and place on a parchment paper or waxed paper lined cookie sheet. Pop in the fridge to harden.

I made my own graham cracker crumbs by throwing a few crackers into a food processor, but you can also buy them. You don’t need many crumbs, though. I think two full crackers was plenty.

They were a hit at home and at the play date. My friend Sunny recently made them for her daughter’s baptism lunch. Instead of dipping the entire marshmallow into the chocolate, she half dipped, then toasted the tops of the marshmallows with a mini blow torch. Awesome!

Now, the point of the original recipe was that it would take 2 minutes to prepare. My version definitely takes longer. But it’s still pretty easy.

Original source: Skimbaco Lifestyle
Difficulty (1-5): 2 if you haven’t mastered dipping
Result (1-5): 5

-Meghan

So when I first saw this pin I thought, Looks good but really, is it THAT good? YES. YES it is. The recipe calls for garlic powder and salt I chose to use garlic salt instead of both but that’s the only change I made. I mixed the ranch dressing mix, oil and garlic salt together in a measuring cup and then tossed with the bag of oyster crackers. Put it on a parchment lined cookie sheet, slapped it in the oven at 250 for 15 minutes and BAM! it was done and it’s DELISH. I could seriously eat the entire batch. The whole batch fits in a quart size bag.

I really wish I hadn’t seen this because I’m sure I’ll be making this a few times a week.

Original source: http://www.examiner.com/article/christmas-snack-recipes-ranch-oyster-crackers-recipe

Difficulty (1-5): 1- took me less than 3 minutes to throw it all together

Result (1-5): 5- FREAKING AMAZING