Friday, December 16, 2011

Peppermint Hot Cocoa Mix

My daughter is SO excited to give Christmas gifts to her teachers at preschool this year!  She has had a great school year so far, and just adores her teachers.  So, when it came time to think of what to make (and yes, we always make the gifts for the kid's teachers) I wanted it to be something she could help with.

Last year, my oldest son and I did the "twelve cookies of Christmas".  That gift seemed like a great idea but once I had to come up with the 12 different cookies, then make them, it was more stressful than fun.  They did turn out great, though.  I'll see if I can find all the recipes and post them one of these days.  This year, I wanted to keep it simpler, but still as thoughtful and wonderful.

Then I found this idea on Pinterest.  Simple, easy peppermint hot chocolate mix.  It looks beautiful, makes enough to serve 12, and was easy enough for my 4 year old to pretty much do on her own.  It would have only taken 5 minutes to do, if it wasn't for unwrapping all of the peppermints to crush. :)

I made a star-shaped tag with the instructions on the back, added some glitter, and attached it with a red ribbon.  Simple, beautiful, and delicious!  I'm adding an angel ornament that I made to go with it.  Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Kung POW!!

In addition to all of the crafts and things to do I've found on Pinterest, there are tons of yummy looking recipes.  The other day, I pinned this recipe for Kung Pao Chicken.  It looked SO good.  And, I already had most of the ingredients on hand.  So, with a few changes, this is what we ate for supper last night.

One thing I changed was that it was no longer Kung Pao Chicken.  We don't eat chicken much in our house, for medical reasons, so I substituted pork.  I just happened to have a pork tenderloin in the freezer. I also didn't have any linguine, so I used whole wheat spaghetti instead.  For the last substitution, I didn't have any red chili paste.  So I looked up substitutions, and found that you can just use red pepper flakes, which I have a lot of.  The substitution guide said to use 1/4 of the amount, which was 3/4 Tbsp of pepper flakes. time, I think maybe a little less would be good.  That is why I have renamed this recipe Kung POW Pork! :)

1 lb pork tenderloin, cubed
1/2 cup cornstarch (more or less - I didn't measure)
oil for frying
1 lb uncooked whole wheat spaghetti noodles

1/2 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp cornstarch
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup dry sherry
3/4 Tbsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup sugar (I used evaporated cane juice, but you can do either)
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1/4 cup minced garlic
1 cup dry roasted peanuts (use UNsalted - I only had salted, and it was pretty salty!!)
1 cup green onions (sliced)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add spaghetti, and cook according to package directions.  When finished, drain and set aside

Meanwhile, toss cubed pork with cornstarch until evenly coated.  Heat oil in deep skillet.  Fry pork in batches until golden brown and folly cooked.  Drain on paper towels.

Mix chicken broth through sesame oil in a bowl.

Drain all but 2 Tbsp of oil from the skillet.  Add garlic and stir-fry for 15 seconds.  Pour in the sauce and add the peanuts.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until thick and bubbly.

Mix the pork into the sauce.  Serve over the spaghetti and top with green onions.

I served this with a side of Japanese-Style Sesame Green Beans.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Snowflakes, Snowflakes, Everywhere!

I think every child does it.  It's like a right of passage or something.  Paper, scissors, and a little imagination.  What do you get?  Paper snowflakes.  I decided today was a good day to introduce this magical paper artform to my oldest two children.

I personally have never been much of a paper-snowflake-artist.  My snowflaking abilities never really progressed beyond about the 5th grade level.  So when I saw these patterns on pinterest, I thought I'd give them a try.

I started by copying the patterns by hand onto graph paper.  I thought graph paper would make it easier, but really regular paper would have been just as good.

Then, when my oldest got home from school, we sat down to make snowflakes!  First, I had to teach the 7 year old how to fold the paper.  Of course, since I haven't  done this in YEARS, I had forgotten how myself.  So I looked it up here.  Then we cut.  I used some of my patterns.  He used his imagination.  The 4 year old made confetti.

I strung the finished snowflakes on fishing line and we will hang them in the window.  Mine may look a little "nicer" but his are wonderful.  I will treasure this memory forever.