Creativity with your baking

Leftover beets? Make cupcakes, of course!

I’m not really sure why I picked up beets at the grocery–no one in our house really likes them, and I don’t know how to cook them. Makes sense, right?

Naomi had been traumatized by the use of beet juice to color Valentine’s Day cookies many years ago (turns out that’s totally legit, but I didn’t know it then), so I haven’t really tried any recipes with them since them. A few months ago, I started chopping them up and putting them in smoothies, but the smoothie rather tastes a bit like dirt if you’re not careful.

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Our first installment of ‘Video – Learning & Doing’ is underway

Elijah and I (Paul) are working on a project dealing with shooting video and editing within Screenflow.  It’s a great project – starter project – for both of us to grow and learn something new together.  Join in and see what you can do with your kids that will make a difference for both of you and/or all of you.

Video coming soon along with instruction on how to work with the software – Screenflow.

See ya soon.

Video – Learning & Doing

Brownies With Sweet Potatoes & Spinach? No way!

You would never know.

Ever wonder if you can make desserts less bad for you but still retain the full delicious flavor? In today’s video, we’ll show you how to do just that with a pan of Ghirardelli brownies.

Will the kids really eat the brownies? I always tell them there are things in there like newt eyeballs and tails. Will they notice anything askew? Watch the ending of the video to find out!

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Sorry kids, I’ll probably do this until I can’t cook anymore.

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How Hard Can it be to Make Buckeyes?

Thérèse finds out...

One of our 12-year olds, Thérèse, is a fan of baking. Although she’d never tried to make Buckeyes before, she’d been in a mood to make them for a few days. They seemed simple enough–there are only a few ingredients: PB, vanilla, powdered sugar, butter, and chocolate chips. And there’s no baking.

Turns out that it was a little trickier than we thought. But here’s the thing about baking / creating in the kitchen with your kids–you can’t let the final product necessarily be the end goal. What matters as well is learning how to follow directions and spending time with your family!

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8 Things We Learned When Our Twins Made Spaghetti

Plus fun facts about Ava and Thérèse being twins

We’ve been working with the kids on getting them to learn to cook, so we thought it would be fun to create a video to help kids see other ones making dinner for the family.

They had already started when I got home from work, but that didn’t stop me from sneaking some sweet potato purée into the sauce. No one knew it was there until they watched the video! Score.

What we discovered while making the video:

  1. The sound would be a whole lot better if we plugged the microphone into the correct hole. Duh.
  2. It takes a lot of practice to seem natural in front of the camera.
  3. Knowing what you’re doing and explaining it are 2 whole different worlds sometimes!
  4. Getting the lighting right at night time in a small kitchen is a little tricky. We were just using a video light attached to the camera.
  5. Onions make your eyes water. A lot.
  6. Steam is hot.
  7. Gluten free spaghetti sticks to the wall even when it’s not completely cooked. It was a little chewy.
  8. Sweet potato purée tastes delicious in spaghetti sauce.

When we had first asked the Thérèse and Ava if they wanted to do cooking videos, they said yes, as long as they got aprons with their names on them.

Divas.

Not really. They’re very cool girls.

So we told them they could have them after we’d done 5 cooking videos, just to make sure the

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How to Teach Your Family the Value of Volunteering

10 ideas to get you started

Teaching children to help others is a great way to help build strong morals. When we are focused on giving aid to or comforting others, it makes us more grateful for what we have.

Recently, we spent a couple of hours at our church (along with about 200 others) helping bag and package food through donations made to Stop Hunger Now.  Paul, Ava, and Thérèse were actually featured in the Cincinnati Enquirer (although they forgot to mention Thérèse.)

Volunteers set up and take down packaging stations and equipment, fill bins with raw ingredients, scoop ingredients into meal bags, weigh and seal the bags, box and stack them on pallets, and load the pallets and equipment onto a truck.

We’re all busy. But there certainly must be some down time somewhere in your family’s schedule to set aside a few hours once in a while to assist others in need.

When Paul and I were kids, our parents forced us gave us the opportunity to babysit for parents in need who couldn’t afford babysitters. Mom always told me to make sure the kitchen was clean before the parents got home because she knew what a treat that was (we had 6 kids in our family).

Although I didn’t really understand at the time what a big deal it was, later as financially struggling young parents who’ve never had family in town to help out regularly, we would have loved to have someone do the same for us.

Here are 10 suggestions on how the family can get involved.

  1. “Adopt” a grandparent. There are plenty of elderly in nursing homes who don’t have family come visit them. Babies and toddlers visiting are often the best treat of all.
  2. Help out at a local animal shelter. Children can cut / tear up strips of newspaper for the cages, pet the animals and change out water.
  3. Older kids can babysit (for free) so parents can get away for peace of mind for a few hours. Cleaning the house / kitchen is a bonus for the parents!
  4. Rake leaves / mow the lawn / shovel for disabled or elderly neighbors.
  5. Clean up at a local park.
  6. Take the elderly / disabled to the store or shop for them.
  7. Put together activity boxes for kids at your local children’s hospital. You can find great prices on coloring pencils, crayons, notebooks and coloring books during back-to-school sales time and after Christmas.
  8. Donate food to a food pantry. You can have your children cut coupons for canned products and purchase those with the coupons.
  9. Ask local food pantries when they pack up food. Children can easily help put food in bags!
  10. Check with your church to see if they need help cleaning after services or Mass. Often, the volunteer work is done by retired people who would love some extra help. Even small children can straighten up prayer books.

 says, “In a culture that is so wrapped around ‘wants’ and ‘achievements,’ it is easy for our teenagers to grow up without a sense of gratitude for what they have and empathy for the needs of the less fortunate around them.”

If you start teaching your children to volunteer at a young age and continue to do so together as they grow, imagine the impact they can have on the world around them.

What kind of volunteer work can you do locally? Let us know what you do!

Crazy Mom of 8 Cooks Sweet Potato Purée

Use it for baby food or sneak it in your family's meal

Seriously, Google? You just had to pick this freeze frame for our video? Gaaack! I look completely nutters.

Anyhoo, if you’re wanting to learn how to purée foods to feed to a baby, you can save oodles of money over buying them. Or you can sneak puréed veggies into your family’s meals!

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As a new mom back in the days of no internet, I had no idea that you could make your own baby food. Mom had a little handheld grinder at home when I was a kid, but I didn’t know what it was until much later as I was a parent.

Handheld baby food grinder

These handheld ones work great, by the way. It takes a little while, but they’re inexpensive, and they only do very small portions at one time.

It’s perfect if you’re grinding up your own dinner to serve to your baby and you only need a small amount. And it’s portable, and needs no electricity,  so you can take it to a restaurant if you want.

We used one this for a really long time, and it worked splendidly.

Ninja blenderSince I do larger amounts, I like to use our Ninja blender. This blender actually also has a smaller individual size containers that you can purée in as well (it’s what I make my personal smoothies in).

Glass Pyrex containers

We store our puréed food as well as all our family’s leftovers in glass Pyrex storage containers. Plastic apparently leaches into food, so we tossed all of our old cheapo plastic ones and only use the glass ones now.

Now: how to purée:

  1. Chop up your veggies into smallish cubes, and try to make them about the same size.
  2. Steam or microwave until soft.
  3. Handle with care after cooking–the steam coming off the veggies will be hot.
  4. Reserve the water in case you need to use some in the blender.
  5. Transfer veggies into a blender. Blend on high–add reserved water if the food is dry and doesn’t blend well.
  6. Cool off and put into containers for storage. You can save them in glass containers or in Ziploc bags. Good portion sizes are often 1/4 cup or 1/2 cup size, but don’t stress about it.
  7. Puréed veggies can be stored in the fridge for 3 days or up to 3 months in the freezer.

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What’s not to love about the immersion blender?

47 seconds from chunky to smooth

Just recently, I started making creamy soups. Once the ingredients are cooked, you need to purée them in order to obtain that creamy, thick texture. Because I kind of ruined the pour spout on our blender, I asked for and received 🙂 an immersion blender for Christmas (thanks, Mom and Pop).

We did a little test today to see how it worked versus the blender. Watch til the end so you can see what happens when someone doesn’t listen to you when you tell them it’s hot.

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We cracked up every time we watched that ending part.

And by the way, it’s a Butternut Squash + Lentil soup. Apparently, I decided to call it Butternut Lentil Squash soup for most of the video. 😉

Cooking the butternut squash

The immersion blender is a Cuisinart, and it worked really well for the task of

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Adding Cooking, Video & Photography And Aquaponics

We have decided to add a new page to our website which will consist of Family Projects based on Cooking,  Photography & Video and Aquaponics.

We will be creating these projects either directly with our family or showing you how you might implement these fun things into your family life.  This looks to be really fun and much should be learned from all of us involved – even you.  Join us and see what cool projects we come up with.

Lots of goodies on the way.

Check out the new area of our site

14 Easy Ways to Get Better Pics of Your Kids

Christmas morning is an especially fun time to get pics of your kids–dumping out the stockings, opening gifts, and even all spit shined for church. Perhaps you’ve discovered that most of the photos of your kids have obviously forced smiles or every photo’s a blur as Speedy Gonzalez tears about the house.

We’ve got 14 super easy tips to make your photos better this Christmas (and every other day too).

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