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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Chocolate Hamantashen filled with Cookies & Creme Cookie Butter

So Purim is this week and we've been reading lots of books about Purim and of course talking by about the different holiday traditions that come along with it. One of the favorite foods people associate with Purim are these delicious triangle shaped cookies called Hamantashen. There are so many versions out there.  Traditionally it is a butter cookie filled with a fruit jam or poppy seeds.  However, a few weeks ago I was looking in our pantry and saw this jar of cookies & creme cookie butter I picked up from Trader Joe’s that I've had no use for and it hit me... It would be the perfect filling for Hamantashen!  I opted to use a chocolate dough since I think it goes better with the filling and wow are they amazing!  You can thank me later. You don't want to waste another minute, you need to get baking!

Dylan, Jake, and Emma had fun getting into the holiday spirit with me. Baking is a regular occurrence in our house. Everyone has a job. They get out the "helper chair" so that they can use the mixer and we rotate down the line taking turns mixing, smelling the vanilla, cracking eggs, etc. They loved being able to cut the dough into circles and help fill the Hamantashen for this recipe. Of course I think their favorite part was licking their individual spoons of cookie butter at the end ;)

These Hamantashen were a huge crowd pleaser in our house. Scott even said they were the best he's ever tasted! (And believe me he is brutally honest about things he doesn't like!)  Make these you won't regret it!

 Chocolate Hamantashen filled with Cookies & Creme Cookie Butter

 Yields: 15-17 Hamantashen


 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter softened

 3/4 cup sugar

 1 egg

 1.5 tsp pure vanilla extract

 1 1/2 cups flour

 1/2 cup cocoa

 1/2 tsp baking powder

 1/2 tsp baking soda

  1 jar Cookies & Creme Cookie Butter (I got mine from Trader Joe’s, but I believe Ralph's is now making it too)


 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

 In a medium bowl combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and baking soda.  Stir to combine and set aside.

 In another large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter and add in the sugar. Cream together then add in the egg and vanilla. Beat until they are fluffy.

 Now slowly add in the flour mixture in 3 parts until fully combined.  The dough will be crumbly by the end. Set the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.

 Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

 Remove dough from fridge. Form dough into a ball and then split into 2 circles.  Using a rolling pin roll out the dough to 1/4" thickness. (I roll mine in between two pieces of wax paper for less mess) Cut the dough into 2-3" circles using a cookie cutter or the top of a large rimmed glass or bowl. Place circles on parchment paper.  Repeat with remaining dough until you've used it all. This recipe made about 17 Hamantashen.

 Once all the circles are on the trays scoop about a tablespoon of cookie butter into the middle of each circle.

Now to form them into triangles, you need to pinch the top together and then the 2 bottom corners leaving a space at the middle for the filling to show through. Once they are done place in the oven and bake for 14-16 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool on the tray for 3-5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.


 Happy Purim!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Rainbow chains with pots of gold


We don't watch a lot of TV in our house instead I try and fill it with lots of crafts and other fun activities to keep us busy and active. Over the weekend Jake was sick and I needed a fun activity to keep us busy since we couldn't leave the house. With St. Patrick's Day coming up I came up with this great craft that is perfect for the upcoming holiday. Paper chains are always fun to make and D, J, and E are at the perfect age (4 years old) to start learning how to do these!  To add the extra element of fun we attached a pot of gold to the end of our rainbow.

These are now beautifully hanging in our kitchen windows. They took about an hour to complete from start to finish.  You could easily break this up into a 2 day project as well.  I hope you read below and try it out with your kiddies too!


·        Strips of construction paper (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple)

·        Tape

·        Scissors for kids

·        Black crayon

·        Print out of a coloring template of a pot of gold coins (print this one here)

·        Glue stick

·        Gold paper (Cut these into small circles to form gold coins.  I found the most beautiful gold glitter paper at Michaels, but any gold or even yellow paper will work!)

·        String (I used gold, but any color is fine)


 I always start our activities by talking about what we are going to be doing. We talked about the colors in a rainbow, we looked at the other rainbow project we already have hanging up in the kitchen from our rainbow fruit loop craft and then I told them the story about how sometimes people believe there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. They were so excited to get started.

 I began by demonstrating exactly how to make the paper chain by doing my own in front of them.  You form circles with paper strips and make it into a chain by connecting the next paper through the previous one.  We used tape to seal our strips together, but glue would also work or you can staple them for your child.

 I had them each precut 6 pieces of tape so that it was ready for them. Then they rolled their first paper and sealed it with the tape. Success!  They needed a little reminding to put the next color through the previous color to form the chain, but they picked up on it pretty quickly. They only asked for a few extra pieces of tape along the way. They were amazed when they completed their paper chains!  So neat!  You could even make your paper chains longer by doing 2 or more strips of each color to extend your rainbow. Totally up to you. Since this was our first time doing paper chains we kept it simple :)

 Once our chains were complete they began coloring their pots black. We have been working on coloring in the lines and they were trying very hard on this day. Once the coloring was complete, they cut out their pots all by themselves.  I love seeing how well they are using scissors and cutting along the lines independently!  For younger kids, you can cut these out for them or assist them.  You can even just use a black piece of construction paper cut into the shape of a pot, but I loved the skills this part of the activity worked on.

 The last part the kids completed, they were so excited for.  I found the most beautiful gold shimmer paper at Michael's and I cut it into small circles to resemble gold coins.  I gave them each a bunch and they glued them to the top of their pots. I love the way the gold coins shimmer in the light in our kitchen at night.

 Once they finished the gold coins I cut strands of gold ribbon I had lying around the house and threaded it through the bottom of the paper chain.  I then taped both ends to the back of the pot of gold. We then proudly looked at our creations and decided to hang them from the tops of our kitchen windows.

Our rainbow window

This activity was so much fun and worked on so many wonderful skills.  We loved making the paper chains and we can't wait to make more of them. We are thinking of doing a rainbow paper chain garland to decorate the fireplace mantles before St. Patrick's Day!

 Hope you enjoyed reading about our fun weekend activity and I hope you try it out too!



Friday, January 23, 2015

Candy Heart Art Project


Valentine's Day is a funny holiday. I have never been a big fan of it.  It always seemed so commercialized, but now that I have the kids I love finding fun projects to do with them and fun ways to celebrate Valentine's Day with them. Scott and I have never been Valentine's Day people. We don't go out, we don't do gifts, etc.  We're very exciting lol!

This project, however, is very exciting and very cute!  You only need 3 things and it's not messy!  The kids had a great time and while it was created as an art project for Valentine's Day, we were working on lots of skills in the process (fine motor skills, shapes, patterns, colors, letter recognition, etc).

What you need:
~ Small candy conversation hearts in a small bowl
~ Glitter glue (silver would work best)
~ Construction paper (pink or red)

What to do:

Let your child pick what color paper he/she would like. All of mine picked pink.  Start by tracing a large heart on the construction paper for your child.

Once the heart is on the paper have your child trace the heart using their bottle of glue. If you have a younger child you may need to help them with this. I would suggest tracing half the heart with glue at a time.

Next, have your child start putting the hearts on the glue. Encourage them to put the word side facing up.  Once half is filled, repeat the glue step and finish with the remaining hearts.
We talk about patterns often in our house and I was so impressed that Dylan used every color heart and repeated the pattern perfectly along his whole heart!  Jake chose to do various patterns throughout based on how many color hearts he had and Emma just made a rainbow of colors.  They were all beautiful and they were all so focused throughout the project. And no we didn't eat one single heart because just ask mommy, “Those candies taste gross, they are just for art projects!”

For the final step we wrote the letters "XO" in the middle of our conversation hearts so that they resemble the actual candy we were using and it gave it the extra Valentine's Day touch. You can either do this step for them or I traced the letters and had them use a silver glitter glue pen to trace over it. If you didn't have glitter glue you could use regular glue and then dust some glitter on top or you could just use a marker.

I hope you try this simple project with your kiddies and have as much fun as we did!
Dylan's Final Project
Jake's Final Project
Emma's Final Project

Happy Valentine’s Day!