Tuesday, October 9, 2012

IC 20: Homemade Pop Tarts - a test

I love pinterest.  There are so many great ideas on there!  Even before pinterest though, I'd seen homemade poptart recipes and thought about trying to make them with more whole wheat flour.  Then this recipe popped up on pinterest.  As with most of my pins, it aged a bit on my pinboard, but I did get to it!

Part of my desire here is to cut back on the sugar that my kids eat the other is to avoid so much processed food and dyes.  But, I wanted to test out how open they were to me making pop tarts instead of the store bought ones.  Baby steps, right?

So, I started with the dough in the recipe above and made it exactly how it says in the recipe.  I split it in half and used half for something else (which didn't work so well), but I think you could get at least 6 pop tarts out of the dough.  The first in my baby steps was to replace the filling, I just couldn't bring myself to use jelly for the filling, so I made some unsweetened strawberry applesauce by cooking a chopped apple and a handful of strawberries until they were soft then, I ran them through the food processor (I'm really missing my immersion blender, it would've made that easier!).  Then, I used that for the filling. I didn't add any sugar. I forgot to taste it until I had already filled a few of the pop tarts.  It really could've used some sugar, it was pretty tart!

After I filled the pop tarts with the applesauce, I put the top on, crimped them around the edges with a fork and poked the top with the fork too.  In retrospect, just one fork poke wasn't enough because the tops cracked.
However that's ok because as I said, I'm taking baby steps here, I'm pretty sure that if I were to give these to the kids they'd reject them flat out since there's no frosting.  In fact, I bought unfrosted pop tarts once and they rejected those.  So I had a little bit of frosting left over from some cookies I made a while back that I put on the top and then added sprinkles (because everything is better with sprinkles!). 
I layered the frosting on a bit thicker than I really wanted to, in part because the frosting was too thick and in part because of those cracks.

The result? The girls each ate a whole one and said that they liked them.  Which for my youngest is an improvement over a lot of the store bought ones. My oldest asked that next time I use just strawberries for the filling. I suspect she's reacting to the tartness of it and her thoughts about not liking applesauce.  Next time I might increase the strawberries, but I don't think I'll eliminate the apples completely.  I would never put them in the toaster (actually mine puffed up so much they wouldn't fit anyway), but they could be heated in the microwave if you want.  I had one at room temp and thought it was pretty good. Not really a pop tart but still really yummy.

I made these as part of Iron Craft Challenge 20 (Edible Crafts) at Just Crafty Enough.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

WFMW - saving squash and pumpkin

It's that time of year! Pumpkins and squash are on sale and available at most farmers markets.  I use pumpkin in baked goods, pancakes and waffles for my kids to give them an extra bit of vitamins.  I ran into problems because rarely did the recipe need a whole can of pumpkin and I was wasting the rest.  So I started freezing the left overs. 

Then, my kids started going on field trips to the pumpkin patch where they got these little pie pumpkins that weren't big enough to carve.  So, I started cooking them and freezing them to use instead of the store bought canned pumpkin.  Now, I do it with squash too.

Here's what you need:
squash or pumpkin
food processor
muffin pan (silicone works best)
1/4 cup measuring cup
9x13 cake pan

Preheat your oven to 350 F.  Cut your pumpkin or squash open and take the seeds out (I usually cut mine in half from stem to bottom). Place the pumpkin in the cake pan cut side up and put some water in the bottom of the pan.  Bake it until it's soft.  I didn't time mine, but I think it was about an hour. It'll vary depending on the size of your pumpkin or squash.

Let it cool.  Peel off the skin, it should be soft enough that you don't really need a knife to do this.  Then cut it into chunks and put it in the food processor.  Puree until it's smooth.

After it's pureed, using your 1/4 cup measure, scoop 1/4 cup into each of the cups in your muffin pan.  Freeze it (I do it over night). Once it's frozen solid, pop them out and put them in freezer bags.

Now, the next time a recipe calls for pumpkin, I can just pop out what I need and thaw them quick in the microwave.  I've found that there's a little more moisture than what's in canned pumpkin. Some of it comes out when I microwave. I just use my judgement when I'm making something on whether I drain that off or add it in.  You could probably cook it down more after you've pureed it a bit to get some of the extra moisture out. 
Now is the time to get your pumpkin and squash.  In the pictures, I used butternut squash. I got a huge one for $1.  I'm getting more out of it than the boxes I'd buy at the store for more than that. And I can use it in place of pumpkin in recipes too. 
You could shred zucchini and freeze it this way also!
What do you like to freeze? Any recipe recommendations for pureed squash?
For more tips go check out We Are that Family's Works for Me Wednesday post.


Monday, July 30, 2012

IC15 - London - Crown for 18 Inch doll

IC 15: London - Crown

With the Olympics under way, the theme for the Iron Craft Challenge is London.  When I think of London, I think of Big Ben, West Minster Abby, the Queen and scones.

So for this challenge, I decided to make a crown.  Originally I was going to make it from wire, but the silver colored wire I have is too difficult to crochet with, so I reverted to crochet thread.

RD1: Use the chainless base and make the equivalent of 44 stitches. Join to make a round (careful not to twist it!)
RD2: Ch5 skip 3 stitches and sc in the 4th stitch of the previous round. Repeat around until there are 4 stitches left in the first round, ch3 dc in the same stitch as the first chain.
RD3: ch 5, sc in the middle of the next ch 5 loop, repeat around (end with a slip stich at the base of the first ch 5 of the round).
RD4: sc3, picot, sc3 in the first loop, ch 6, picot, ch6 and slip stitch in the sc between the two loops of the previous row), repeat around, join, fasten off.

Weave in ends then block and stiffen.  to block mine, I rolled a newspaper up (so it was the same diameter as the inside of the crown), covered it with plastic wrap and then slipped the crown on the outside.  I then took some straight pins and pinned it in the correct shape all the way around.  After that I brushed on some white Elmers glue and left it dry.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

WFMW - Keeping track of the stylus

My kids got DS Lite's for Christmas a few years ago.  They don't play them often (we don't do a whole lot of electronics at home), but will take them on long car trips. After the first two trips and loosing two styluses as well as one of the girls chewing on the stylus and then swapping it with her sister's, and the constant tears from the back seat when someone dropped a stylus and couldn't reach it, I finally had enough.

I took a length of nylon crochet thread, feed it through the narrow slit in the end of the stylus and knotted the stylus on.  Then, the other end, I took through the hinge in the Nerf case (love this case by the way, the DS's have been dropped a couple of times and are still ok), and knotted it there.  The string is long enough (18 inches maybe?) that they still are able to use the stylus unrestricted, but now we're not needing to replace them.  The girls like it better too because if they drop it in the car, they can get it back and keep playing.

Tip: if you take a narrow strip of card stock, fold it in half and put the end of the string inside the fold of the paper, you can feed the card stock through that little slit and pull the string through easier.  Basically a simple needle threader.

I haven't looked at other DS styluses to see if they've all got that slit, but the DS Lite ones do.  And if you don't have a case to attach it to, maybe you can catch it in the battery door? or duct tape it on?

This is definitely working for us.  Check out more tips at We Are that Family.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

IC 8: Recycled Garden tags

This week's Iron Craft challenge was another recycling challenge, where we were to use something that was going to be thrown out.

I decided to reuse an aluminum pan that came with some IKEA cinnamon rolls to make some garden tags, so I don't need to remember where I planted what.

Recycled Garden tags
aluminum foil pan
old scissors
Styrofoam tray (or other soft surface, an old phone book would probably work too)

I cut the pan (using old scissors) into rectangles.  Then, I carefully folded over the sharp edges.  After that, I sat them on a styrofoam tray while I wrote (pressing hard) on them with a dull pencil.  Finally, I went back and used a black Sharpie to write again so it would stand out a little more.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

IC5 - Can you spare a dollar? Bag and weekly calendar

One of my favorite challenges this week!  The dollar store!  Have you seen Dollar Store Crafts?  It's how I found out about the Iron Craft Challenges.

A few weeks ago, I'd stopped by the Dollar Store to get some yarn to make my friend's grandson a bag.  I'd made her one and he ended up confiscating it, but it was pink and purple, so she asked me to make one in colors that are better suited for a boy.  I was having problems finding colors that were for a boy.  For some reason all the cotton yarns tend to be pastels and really girly colors.  But I was as the dollar store and saw that they had some navy, so I picked up a couple balls.  When this craft challenge came up, I thought I would make the bag.  But, the more I thought about it, the more I questioned if it was really in the spirit of the challenge.  It's not all that much of a challenge to go to the Dollar Store buy a single craft supply and make something with  it.  So, I put that project on hold and decided to make another trip back to the Dollar Store.

I was at a friend's house a few months ago and she had this cool weekly calendar on her wall, where she used a dry erase marker to write the family's events.  I really liked the idea and admired it.  She said the hardest part of the whole thing was finding a frame that had that many opennings.  Using this as inspiration, I decided to create a weekly calendar for my family.  When I was at the dollar store though I ran into a problem, there weren't enough of the frames that I liked (and that were suitable).  So, I decided to settle on doing five for now and I'll add another one for the weekend later.  I'll just have to be very careful when I go back to make sure I get one exactly like the ones I've already bought.  It's amazing how much those frames look alike!

So, I bought 5 frames that were the same and had square sides.  Then I took my hot glue gun and just glued them together in the configuration I wanted.  Picking the configuration was the hardest part for me, I'm not good at layouts.  After that I found some printable scrapbook paper and used it for a background to the days of the week in my word processor and printed out a rectangle a bit bigger than my frames.  I cut the paper to size and put it in. 


If I were to do this again, I'd use a little less hot glue.  Some seeped through the front and is visable.

And then, I went back and finished the bag :)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

IC 3 - Catalog Creation - Jewelry tree.


About 6 or 7 years ago, I saw these whimsical jewelry holders at a craft show.  They were pretty simple, so I didn't purchase one at the time, figuring that I'd make one for my daughter.  I bought the stuff to make it, painted it, glued it together and then waited to get some holes drilled so I could get the cup hooks in.

Up until last week, it was still waiting.  Furthermore, I now have TWO daughters and was in need of a second one.  So I made another.

1 wooden ball (mine had a flat spot on it)
1 wooden candlestick
6-8 cup hooks
paint and paintbrush
  1. Paint the candlestick and the wooden ball.
  2. Glue the ball onto the cup for the candlestick.  Allow the glue to dry well. I used a wood glue for this.
  3. Mark where you want the hooks to be.  I recommend looking at it from the top and the sides to make sure you get them spaced evenly.  I placed 4 on the ball and 2 on the candle cup in between two on the ball I would've done 4 on the candle cup, but ran out of hooks.
  4. Using the drill and a bit that is just smaller than the hooks, drill pilot holes at your marks.  I recommend going in the full length of the screw portion of the hook because the wooden ball is really hard.  I didn't make my holes big enough the first time and ended up breaking some of the hooks, they twisted right in half.
  5. Put one hook in each hole.

Now you're ready to hang necklaces and bracelets on it.  I like hanging them up, so they're less likely to get knotted.  I couldn't find another candlestick that was the same height as the first one so they're two different heights.  Taller would be better so you can hang longer necklaces.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

IC 2: Hearts!


For the second Iron Craft challenge this year we were to do something with hearts.
My daughters and I made this heart garland.  We took a piece of the stiff glittery felt and cut them in half (so they were approximately 8.5x5.5) and then each half I cut into strips (about one inch wide). Then, my daughters sewed (they're working on learning basic hand sewing, you could use hot glue or even staples if you wanted) the narrow end of two strips with the right sides together (this becomes the top center of the heart).  Then, we sewed the other two ends wrong sides together.  The felt needed a little shaping still after doing that, don't worry about it for now.  We did that with all of the felt. 

I got out some pink, white and red heart shaped beads and some fishing line. One girl worked on one end of the line and the other worked on the opposite end.  They strung some beads and then using a needle threaded with the fishing line would add a heart.  We went through both sides of the heart as well as the inner point of it, it's better if it's a bit closer to the top, I think, so it's less likely to flip upside down.  Then more beads and more hearts until we were done with the hearts.  On the ends of the fishing line, I threaded one more bead and made a loop around that bead (so the bead is trapped in the loop) to keep everything from sliding off the end and to give me something to hang it with. 

After doing that and hanging it, I noticed the beads had a tendency to slide and squish the hearts, so I got out my glue gun and put a little dot of glue on the heart where the fishing line went through to keep it in place. This also helped a bit with the tendency to flip.  Start in the middle and work your way out to both ends.  They still flip some, so I'm going to add some weights to the bottom (one I glued a bead in and that worked pretty well, but you can see it, so I'm going to try to get some fishing weights and hide them a bit more).

Overall the girls did it in a few hours and had a lot of fun doing it.

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