Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Growth Chart

I saw this awhile back and thought that it looked so fun to make! Since we have moved four times in the last five years, I haven't been marking my children's heights on the walls because I didn't want to have leave the marks.  Well, now, thanks to this craft, I can mark away and just take it to our next destination.  And the best part is, it cost me under $5 to make!  About a month ago, I made about 20 of them with a bunch of friends who were giving them as gifts for Christmas.  So, even though the holidays are a distant memory at this time, this makes a great gift for any occasion, especially for a new mom!

Supplies
dog-eared fence post.  (I got mine at home depot)
base paint (I just used the light gray we used in out kitchen)
acrylic paint (I used a tiffany blue I got at Joanns with a coupon $.48)
sand paper
stecnil of some sort for numbers
tape measure
sharpie marker
ruler
Directions- Begin by painting the board.  Again, I used some leftover paint from our kitchen.  If you don't have any you can always go to Home Depot or Lowes and buy a sample of whatever color you like.  They are around $3.

Let the paint dry.  Next, using your measuring tape and a pencil make small marks for each inch and slightly bigger for each ft.  As you can see from the picture below I started my number one 6 inches from the bottom of the board.  This allows me to mount in on the wall six inches from the ground.  That way it ends up a couple inches above my baseboards making it easier to mount.  Feel free to do what you like.  I had one friend start her number one at the bottom because her son was already 6ft and he wasn't finished growing. 
After you have finished marking you can then go back over with a sharpie marker and a ruler if you choose.  I made my ft. marks about an inch and a half long and then every third inch a little bigger than the other inch marks.

If you have a fun stencil making machine use that, if not here is the way I did my numbers; I went on to microsoft word and using the "stencil" font I printed out numbers that were about 3 to 4 inches tall.  I then got a piece of carbon paper (office max) and put the black side down, touching the wood.  Then I took my stencil number paper and placed it on top of the carbon paper.  Using a pen I outlined the number, pulled the papers off, and ta da, a perfect number outline.  Pretty cool, huh?!  (You can use this technique on all sorts of projects)

Next grab your acrylic paint of choice and paint your numbers.  Once everything is finished to give an aged look you can use gel stain or a dark brown acrylic paint.  Put some paint on a plate and then using a scrunched up paper towel or cloth dab some paint on and then blot some off on a scrap paper and then blot it onto your wood.  Make sure to get edges and go over the numbers a little if you want to.  Every couple of blots wipe with the clean side of the paper towel or cloth.  This will help if you feel it went on too dark.  When you have finished that do a light sanding job along the sides and very slightly on the front.

Then just mount that and enjoy.  Here is another one Becca (fellow blogger) did.  The possibilities are endless.  HAPPY CRAFTING!



*Adapted from www.thepinningmama.com*

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Very Best Hot Cocoa



I am not sure where you live, but around these parts it is COLD! Really cold! Like, close the schools cold! If you are in the same frozen boat I am in, I have a great recipe for you to share with the kids, or make for yourself. Hot, chocolatey and deliciously creamy-this is a must for these super cold days. Give it a try and tell me what you think in the comments!

This recipe can be found on Little Lake County in my Kids in the Kitchen with Girl and Her Kitchen Feature.

Enjoy!


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Homemade Hummus



Do you like hummus?

 I love hummus. 

If you don't like hummus than you may not have  had homemade hummus. 

I discovered hummus years ago when I was in college. There was this cart that sold falafel and hummus. Needless to say, I fell in love.  

However, after college, I was never able to find a hummus that I loved as much. So, I researched and experimented and this is the absolutely delicious result. I could not believe how easy it was. It is not what some would consider authentic, but it is delicious. I am asked for this recipe all the time. I am now so happy to share it with you. The best part of this recipe is you can customize it. Put more garlic in, leave some lemon juice out, it doesn't matter it is a very versatile dish. Oh and by the way I haven't found a falafel I loved as much either....stay tuned! 



Homemade Hummus
1 can of chickpeas drained (reserve liquid)
1 garlic clove  more if you like a lot of garlic
3-4 tablespoons of tahini
3-4 tablespoons of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of reserved liquid
2 tablespoons of olive oil 
1/2 teaspoon of salt 

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend.  Blend until smooth Adjust ingredients to taste.
It is that easy, really! Serve with pita bread and veggies of your choice. For presentation purposes I drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with paprika (as shown in the pictures). Enjoy!



Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Everything!




From the bottom of my heart I thank you all for being fans of our tiny little blog that has grown so much this past year! I was lucky enough to bring on three new writers who love to cook and share - just like me. This past year has been filled with unbelievable blessings and I am looking forward to a 2015 filled with love, happiness and plenty of delicious recipes and fun crafts to share with all of you!



Without all of your support, Girl and Her Kitchen wouldn't be here. We love all of your faces (even though we can't see you!) and your support is truly what keeps us going. Keep sharing Girl and Her Kitchen and spreading the word about us! We are so lucky to have such dedicated fans! Comment anytime to say hello-we would love to hear from you!

If you celebrate, 
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

If you don't,
Happy Holidays!

For all of you wonderful fans,
Happy Everything!





*Top picture courtesy of this website

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Homemade Marshmallows


I once saw a sign that read "Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy marshmallows, which is pretty much the same thing". We feel the same way in our house, but not just any ole marshmallow will do.

True happiness is my homemade marshmallows every Christmas season. They are easy, and fun, and you can dress them up as little, or as much as you want. My family prefers them flavored with vanilla and then dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with candy canes or sprinkles. You can easily substitute the vanilla for some peppermint extract and add a little red food coloring and - voila! Peppermint marshmallows. They are the creamiest marshmallows for your hot cocoa so beware, if you make these you will not want to buy store bought again!

I originally got the recipe from the food network from Alton Brown.The link to the original is here: Alton Brown homemade marshmallows. The marshmallows featured here were some I did for a "favorite things party" with some of my girlfriends.

We had a hot cocoa bar.

Can I say yum?

 Killer Homemade Marhsmallows
(adapted from Alton Brown Food Network's Homemade Marshmallow recipe)

Here's what you'll need:
Saucepan with lid
Standup mixer
Candy thermometer
13x9- in dish

Ingredients:
3 packages unflavored gelatin (I wish knox)
1/2 cup ice cold water
1/2 cup lukewarm water
12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (substitute a couple drops of peppermint extract here if you want peppermint flavored mallows)
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Nonstick spray

Directions: 
Put the gelatin  into the bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment along with 1/2 cup of cold water to bloom the gelatin.

In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup of lukewarm water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. I stir it here, but not again. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover the saucepan, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. (NO STIRRING, just let it come to 240 degrees F). Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. You could substitute the vanilla for a couple of drops of peppermint extract if you want peppermint flavored marshmallows. For the peppermint marshmallows I also add a couple of drops of red coloring once it is done mixing and incorporate it with a spatula to get a more marbled look. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows: 
For regular marshmallows:
Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use. For miniature marshmallows prepare a cookie sheet in the same way instead of a 13x9-inch pan.

When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. I simply spray my spatula with nonstick spray because these mallows are sticky! Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight. 
For miniature marshmallows I pipe the marshmallows using a cake decorating bag and tip, into long tubes of marshmallow goodness, lightly dusting with more of the powdered mixture. To put the marshmallow fluff into the piping bag I place the bag in a large tall cup and pull the bag down around the lip of the cup so that the bag is resting open in the cup (no hands!). This allows me to use both of my hands to pour the sticky mixture inside the bag. Its great! Then I pipe them out into long tubes and let them dry. Once they have dried for a couple hours I cut them into miniatures using kitchen shears. Yum!

For the regular marshmallows, turn them out of the 13x9-inch pan and onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza cutter dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. I just lightly toss them with my fingers to get them coated. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks (if they last that long). Instead of the pizza cutter you can use cookie cutters and make the marshmallows into all sorts of cute shapes. This is a great time to involve the kiddos. My son loves to help with this part.
To jazz these marshmallows up you can always dip them in chocolate! After the marshmallows are cut  you can warm up some dipping chocolate and while holding one end of the marshmallow dip the other end into the chocolate. While the chocolate is still warm on the marshmallow sprinkle on some broken candy cane pieces, sprinkles, or drizzle them with melted white chocolate. Let the chocolate harden on parchment paper. You can throw them in the fridge on a plate also to get them to harden quickly, but make sure they get into an airtight container afterward. You do not want this creamy goodness drying out and getting hard. If you like peeps you could pipe these marshmallows onto a sheet of parchment paper that is covered in fine colored sugar and make your own! These marshmallows are also a great and unexpected addition to your candy or cookie plates.


Believe me you will not regret adding these to your yearly Christmas traditions. Merry Christmas and enjoy a cup of cocoa with these killer mallows!  

On a side note my awesome nieces and nephews did a cup-for-a-can cocoa stand and collected a large amount of food and donations for the local food bank. We brought our cans of food and were rewarded with a cup of delicious cocoa. It was such a beautiful way to spread love this holiday season.