Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Thumbprint Cookies: Today's Cooking Adventure!

I love that Raina's apron gets so much use!  Cooking and baking are some of the best times we spend together during the day.  I love that it's something fun we can do together, something she can really participate in and get her hands dirty, something that might teach her a little about math and science without being pushy, and mostly... something that results in a yummy treat!  Well, usually yummy.

Today we made thumbprint cookies.

I remember making thumbprint cookies fairly often when I was younger... in the kitchen with my mom, jam and jelly jars in assorted flavors lined up on the counter, thumbs cleaned and ready for some action.  Today we kept it simple with two flavors... but we mixed things up a little.  Yes, there was jam.  Strawberry Jam, fresh from Nana's kitchen - delish!  But then.  THEN.  We made some with Nutella.  Yes, it is as amazing as it sounds!

Here's what you need:

  • 1 stick softened butter
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar (for rolling)
  • Jam, any flavor and/or Nutella
Here's What You Do:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a baking sheet.
2.  In a medium bowl, mix together the butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla. 
3.  Add in the flour. 
4.  Roll the dough into 1″ balls and then roll them in granulated sugar.   Raina's favorite step!  Rolling the balls around in the sugar and then licking her fingers got this step an A++ in her book!
5.  Place on the baking sheets.  Bake 10 minutes, and then remove from the oven.
6.  Make an indentation in the middle of each cookie with your thumb.  Remember, the cookies just came out of the oven!  They are hot!  So stick your thumb in them, but be careful.  And probably don't let your kids do this part, mmkay?
7.  Return the cookies to the oven and bake about 8 minutes longer before removing to a wire rack to cool.
8.  Once cooled, fill the cookies with your favorite jam.  For the jam, it was ready to go.  The Nutella I microwaved for 15 seconds to make it easier to spoon into the cookies.
9.  Return cookies to oven and bake for 3-4 minutes - just long enough to let the fillings melt a little and get nice and gooey!

10.  Let cool, then devour. 
Best served with chocolate milk in fancy teacups!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Science Sunday!

In my former life (pre kids, that is!) I was a preschool teacher.  And a pretty darn good one, if I can pat myself on the back a little here.  But at home, with my own kid, I'm finding a hard time getting in the groove.  Raina's almost 3 now (2 weeks!), so technically, she's a preschooler.  (Wait, what?!  How'd she get that old??)  I've been wishing for a while now that I could get my behind in gear and really start trying to get some learnin' in at home in semi-structured sort of way.  We're (sorta) getting the hang of this 2 kids thing, so I'm starting slowly, and seeing how things go.

Today was Science Sunday.

And it rocked.

Hearing Raina yell, "Let's do more science!" is pretty awesome.

We did 4 experiments:
(you can watch videos of the first three of these on you tube if you want more details!)

Milk, food coloring, and dish soap

In a shallow dish (we used a plastic lid), pour a layer of milk.  We used whole milk.  I wonder if the fat content makes a difference in how the effect comes across?

Drip food coloring into the center of the milk.  Don't worry if it looks like they are mixing together.

Squirt a drop or two of dish soap into the center.... and watch the colors dance!

Raina thought this one was pretty incredible.  We did it a bunch of times, varying the colors, food coloring placement, amounts of each ingredient, etc.  We also did some investigations like "What happens if we blow on it?

 If we blow on it with a straw?"

"What hapens when we tip the plate?"  "What happens when we stir the mixture?"

Volcano pre-show:  how does it work?

I wanted to do volcanoes.  But inside the volcano, the workings of this get hidden! So we did it first in little clear containers.  Raina squirted in three different colors...

then mixed in baking soda...

then poured in vinegar!

We got science ALL over the floor!  And on Lucca's pants.  I wonder if Lucca learned any science by being an observer today?  :)

After the fizzing and bubbling subsided, she spent some time mixing the lava bowls to make new colors!


We decided to make our volcano out of playdoh.  Raina was concerned when I told her it would ruin the playdoh, but I assured her we'd get more, and then she was okay with it.

We made a big hole...

Jammed in some baking soda (we are now officially out of baking soda!)...

Put a few drops of food coloring and some vinegar in a cup...

and poured it in for an explosion!!

We made a yellow explosion next, and then added some dish soap to mix things up.  Dish soap makes the explosion BUBBLY!  Cool!

Sharpie tie-dye

I saw this idea on Pinterest.  All over Pinterest, actually.  You use sharpies to decorate some white fabric (we used a white mens tshirt stretched over a baking sheet, and held it in place with rubber bands).

We did it on our couch, but you might not want to :).  Our couch is yuck, to be truthful, and I don't mind getting things on it anymore.  Any excuse to get rid of it.

When it's decorated to your liking, spray it with a spray bottle filled with rubbing alcohol.  The colors will start to run and spread!  The more you soak it, the more they spread.

For this step, we set up in the tub.  Make sure to ventilate! (Our house actually reeks of vinegar and rubbing alcohol now... ventilating when it's windy and thirty degrees isn't easy!)
our bathtub is gross, i know.  don't tell me - tell the landlords :)

I'm definitely saving this.  Maybe making it into a pillow for Raina's room??

I think I'm going to institute Sunday as Science Sunday in our house.  Do you have any favorite experiments to share?

And tomorrow...  Math Monday?