Groundhog Hot Cocoa

It's almost Groundhog Day!
Hopefully Punxsutawney Phil will tell us that Spring is on the way! How about a little Groundhog Cocoa to celebrate?
For those non-US residents, Groundhog Day is February 2nd. It's a strange little holiday where we all watch a groundhog in Pennsylvania come out of his hole early in the morning. If he sees his shadow and runs back inside, it means 6 more weeks of Winter. If he doesn't see his shadow and comes out, it means Spring is on the way. Strange, I know. Those crazy Americans. On that note, let's eat some rodents!

Groundhog Day Hot Cocoa
--Hot Cocoa (any kind)
--Chocolate covered cookies (grasshopper cookies or Lisa said try Girl Scout Thin Mints)
--Edible Eyeballs
--Chocolate Chips (for ears)
--Large heart sprinkle (or mini M&M or any other candy, for nose)
--Whipped Cream
--Green sugar
--Candy Melts or coating compound (such as Candi-Quik, found in the baking aisle)
--Wax Paper

Melt about 4 oz. candi-quik in a microwave safe bowl at 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval. DO NOT USE chocolate chips, they will not set up hard enough to hold your groundhog to the cup. You can buy candy melts at Wal-Mart in the craft section or Candi-Quik at your local grocery store in the baking aisle.
Lay out your cookies on wax paper. Dip a toothpick or pointed knife into the melted chocolate and make three dots on your cookie--two for the eyes and one for the nose. Attach eyes and nose. I made the eyes looking downward so they could be watching his "shadow". Dip two chocolate chips into melted chocolate and attach to sides of cookie for ears (see below). Let your rodents dry until set, about 15 minutes. I made these the night before and just left them out so they'd be ready for morning! Using a spoon, smear some melted chocolate on the side of a mug. Press groundhog into chocolate and let set until dry, about 15 minutes. If you want to speed things up, make these on a cookie sheet and pop them in the fridge for a few minutes. While your groundhog is drying, smear a shadow shape of melted chocolate onto a saucer with a spoon. Your groundhog is ready! Does he look worried to you? Actually, they all look worried....look the other way, groundhogs! We want Spring to come! Fill with cocoa... And add whipped cream and green sprinkles....Enjoy!


Have a Heart Suckers

My girls were really touched and especially affected by the stories of children in Haiti that are cold, hungry, looking for parents, and homeless.
While my husband and I donated to Haiti Relief Efforts, the girls wanted to do something themselves but weren't sure what they could do.

Then, we saw these in the cupboard...

Last month, we hosted a Gingerbread House making party for 25 kids at our local family homeless shelter. In the midst of the craziness, I forgot to bring one of the containers of candy canes. So, I planned on making these into heart suckers (as seen on Skip to my Lou and The Idea Room), dipping them in chocolate, adding sprinkles, and giving them out as Valentines. Instead, the girls asked if we could make them up and sell them for $1 each to raise some money for Haiti Relief. Then, they'd have something to donate. I loved the idea!
We went to our local candy shop but they explained that in our state, you can't sell anything in a store that is "homemade". It has to be from a registered food facility.

Sooo.....the girls are selling them on their own. They have a goal to raise $140 (that's how many suckers we have). I am so proud of them and hope they make it!

If you would like to donate directly to Haiti Efforts,
go here or here.


Cars Birthday Cake & Giveaway

We haven't featured one of our Birthday Cakes for Foster Kids in awhile, so how about this super-cute Cars cake that went out today for an adorable little guy turning 3?

My uber-talented friend Shalece made this cake! She heard about what we were doing and wanted to get in on the fun. Boy, did she do an amazing job! She has a "strawberry skateboarding" cake in the works and my family is working on a "kentucky derby winner" cake. We're having a blast! Drop me an email or contact your local agency if you are interested in starting this kind of project with your family. Speaking of Shalece, she also makes these adorable Fortune Cookie Kits and gave me two of them. They have a template, recipe, DVD, fortunes, and are so much fun to make! So, I want to share!This giveaway is now closed.

I LOVED reading all your "fortunes"! Some were funny, some were touching, all were wonderful! This has been my very favorite giveaway. Shalece agreed to send TWO winners fortune cookie kits, here they are! Congrats!

Staci who said...
"I'd love to just find one that says "you are loved." It's always nice to be reminded!"

AND The Sneaky Mommy who said...
"I just found your blog--WOW! Love all the cute things going on here!
Fortune: I have loved you with an everlasting love."


Penguin Snacks

Happy National Penguin Appreciation Day!
OK, it's not a well-known holiday but we have some major penguin fans at our house.
A couple years ago,
Qtpies7 shared the penguin snack that she saw on a Veggie Tales movie. So, we made some up for lunch!
A. Sunny suggested we call them "Linux Snacks". That got a giggle out of me, what a funny idea for an office party.:)

Do you know who was REALLY happy about this special day?......Little H!

In September, Little H found a penguin costume at a thrift store. She has worn it EVERY DAY since then. Seriously. She's worn it to the grocery store, to do community service projects...
and to her favorite place...the Zoo....so she can chat with her friends.
So, grab the ingredients and make yourself up a waddle of penguins. Yes, a waddle. Unless they're in a nesting group, that's a rookery. Or a group of penguin babies, that's a creche. Or, if it's a group on water, that's a raft. And, that's enough penguin trivia for the day. Have fun!

Penguin Snacks
1 can large olives
1 can colossal olives (or jumbo--just get two different size cans of olives)
1-2 large carrots
Cream cheese (flavored or plain)
Cut the carrot into 1/8" thick circles. Cut out a small "V" from each circle as shown blow. These will be your "feet" and "beak".
Take one of the colossal (or whatever yoru biggest olive is) and cut out a small piece lengthwise as shown below. Fill with cream cheese.
Cut a small slit in the smaller olive and insert the carrot "beak". Now, it's time to assemble! Put the carrot "feet" on the bottom, then the stuffed olive "body". Next, the smaller olive "head". Insert a toothpick through the entire snack to hold it together. (For some reason I ran out of toothpicks, so they got bento picks).
So, what did Little H think about this National Penguin Appreciation Day snack?.....
Love at first bite! Enjoy your day! Little H is having a penguin party for her birthday next month. We've been using the super-fun birthday section of BettyCrocker.com to help plan it. We can't wait to share all of the fun with you, it's going to be fabulous!


Gumball Flowers

We always have gumballs in the house (thanks to our 6' Wowie Zowie machine) so they're going to turn into colorful "flowers" this Valentines Day.These happy blooms would be perfect for a Valentines Day treat or a Tea Party.
Here are some of the "Valentines" that the girls thought would be appropriate to attach. I'm sure Hallmark will be calling any day...
"I'd always 'chews' you to be my Valentine!"
"If you were a flower I'd eat you."
"Roses are Red, Violets are blue, this flower's a gumball, it's for you to chew."

"Roses are Red, Violets are blue, Flowers are for girls but this one is gum so it's ok for you, too."

...I love kids.

Gumball Flowers
Large Gumballs (1 inch)
Small Gumballs (8 for each flower)
Sucker Sticks
Royal Icing (recipes here)
green food coloring (optional)
Wax Paper

Directions: Twist a pointed paring knife into each of the large gumballs to make a small hole. Mix a few drops of green food coloring into royal icing. (Royal icing recipes are here--it's the kind of icing that is very hard when dry). Spoon icing into a cake decorating bag or quart ziploc freezer baggie with a small corner snipped off.
Push sucker stick into each hole (you may have to add a dab of icing if the hole is too big). Pipe out a line of icing around each gumball as shown:

Place gumball on wax paper and push smaller gumballs into the icing to form the flower "petals".

Let dry completely or overnight.

Now, you could stop here, but I thought they needed a little extra sparkle, so after they had dried for an hour (but weren't completely set), I piped out a little circle of icing on the top:

and added sprinkles!

After icing is dry, you can wrap with sucker bags or celophane. Have fun!


Bad Kitty Lunch

We haven't featured a Book and a Snack for awhile, so Bad Kitty came by our house for a visit.

My girls looooove this book, it goes through the alphabet 4 times following the crazy antics of Bad Kitty. I have to admit that a few of them give me the chuckles, too. One of our favorite parts is when Bad Kitty Quarrels with the Neighbors by sending them mean notes. He stopped by to help me make the girls' lunches today. I love this because it's simple and quick but still lots of fun! It only takes an extra minute or two to turn a lunch you'd normally make into something special.

Bad Kitty Quesadillas
2 tortillas
shredded cheese
1 orange
fresh veggies
edible food pens (any kind, my favorite is Americolor)

Sprinkle cheese in-between two two tortillas and microwave until melted. Cut off edged to form a rectangle (save the pieces on the side for snacking). Write a "Bad Kitty" note on the top of the quesadilla. I've used 3 or 4 brands of food writers, Americolor is my favorite. You can buy a 4-color Betty Crocker set at many grocery stores for about $3 (in the baking aisle by the cake decorating stuff). Slice orange in half. Place one half on plate to prop up your "note". Slice other orange half in wedges and arrange on plate with some fresh veggies. Serve and enjoy the giggles! As a side note, after the girls had good naps and rest time, Bad Kitty left them a "nice note" on paper outside their doors ("Purr, purr, purr, purrr":)).


Marvelous Mango Recipes

I have gotten some fabulous Mango recipes from non-bloggers and they are too good not to share! It's not too late to get in on the fun! Simply make a kid-friendly recipe with at least one mango and you can win fabulous prizes. Details here & deadline is Jan 14.
Click here or on any image to get the recipes! Enjoy!

Individual Chilled Mango Swirls with Coconut Meringue
by Candy Barnhart
Candy shares a refreshing taste of her native Hawaii in this easy and impressive dessert!

Mango Sausage Sandwiches
by Amy Keck
Amy's combination of sweet and spicy makes for one fabulous sandwich!
Peach and Mango Glazed Crab Balls
by Nicole Wilson
Nicole makes the best of Maryland's crabs with these crowd-pleasing appetizers!
Fruity Mango Salsa w/ Sugar and Spice Chips
by Holly Bauer
At Holly's house, this after school snack is a winner and a great way to get your kids to eat their servings of fruits.


Meringue Heart Cookies

With three girly-girls in the house, we love making treats for Valentines Day! These meringue cookies are delicious, low in fat, and will last for 6 weeks if stored in a cool, dry place...I think I'm in love!:)I had made up several treats for an event, and these are the ones the girls kept asking to snack on. I was surprised since they even passed up Rice Krispy treats for these! Definitely thumbs up from the Gourmet Girls.
Meltaway Meringue Heart Cookies (makes 24-30)
3 large egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. C & H white sugar
red food coloring
crushed candy canes (about 1/4 c.)
Melted chocolate (your favorite kind)
Parchment paper or Silpat mat

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Whip egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt in mixer until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar and a few drops red food coloring. Beat until stiff peaks form and mixture is smooth and glossy (about 5 minutes).
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or Silpat mat. Put mixture in a pastry bag or gallon ziploc bag with a corner snipped off. Pipe out thick hearts (to make them thicker I ended up drawing one heart then another one on top of it) onto your cookie sheet and sprinkle with crushed candy canes. Bake at 200 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. Then, turn off oven and leave meringues in the oven to completely cool (overnight is best). Next, melt your favorite chocolate (I used Peters Burgundy) and dip the bottoms of your cookies. Set on wax paper to dry. When completely set, remove from wax paper and serve! You can also store them in an airtight container for up to 6 weeks.

Holiday Playlist

My grandmother hasn't been doing well...to cheer her up, I rounded up a few of my musical friends and made an album of Holiday songs fo...