Sweet Success

Ladies and Gentlemen let it be known that I made a perfect batch of sugar cookies with the kids! There was not a burnt, unshapely, or glittered cookie in sight! It was in all respects a glorious success.

The cookies Penny and Jude decorated
The cookies Penny and Jude decorated

I had a game plan from the beginning and I kept my eye on the prize. We started a little later than I originally planned but I believe it ended up working in my favor. Penny and Jude were in a particularly riotous mood yesterday  and they ran around shouting and playing while I prepared for the cookie making in as much peace as you can have under the circumstances. I then allowed each of them to help me in turn with one of the processes, mixing dry and wet ingredients. I then released them to play again until it was time to roll them and cut them out.wpid-20141218_104444.jpg

I again allowed one kid at a time help me roll out a ball of dough and cut out cookies. Once they had each had a turn they were once again sent off to play. This strategy worked beautifully because I was able to focus my attention on keeping the dough at the right thickness and shapes. Once a whole tray was filled they were allowed to decorate them as they liked. After this final contribution I had them sit down at the table to eat lunch, that I had heated up while they were decorating, while I cut out and decorated the rest of the cookies. I made sure to keep a timer on so as not to forget a batch of cookies while cutting out and decorating another batch while also keeping Penny and Jude at the table and eating. wpid-20141218_105207.jpg

The whole activity took some effort on my part mostly because I was so determined to not mess the cookies up as I have in the past. However, even though I was grateful when the last batch was out of the oven and the kitchen was once again clean the cookies were glittered prettily and tasted delicious! The reward was well worth the effort, as I often find when it comes to baked goods. Well everyone, I hope that your weekend is as sweet as the beginning of mine has been. Until next week enjoy the cheer of the season!

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Cookie Time!

Best-Sugar-Cookie-Cut-out-Recipe-finalIt is that time of year everyone! Time to make outrageous amounts of sugary sweet things and then eat them all saying you are only celebrating the season. Thursday the kids and I are going to be partaking in this glorious tradition. We will be making sugar cookies. Now as a warning sugar cookies are the one dessert item that I have consistently had trouble with; they always seem to come out a little different than I hope, usually more burnt.  So this activity could go south fast… But I’m not talking about that yet! I found a bunch of recipes that claim to be simple and the best. So this week since all the recipes are basically the same I am going to use three of them because of the varying advice that is attached to the recipes. I will be using Make Bake Celebrate’s  Rolled Cookies 101, Love Grows Wild’s Perfect Sugar Cookie Cut-Outs, and In Katrina’s Kitchen’ Best Sugar Cookie Recipe EVER. With the help of these three recipes I hope to make beautiful sugar cookies with Penny and Jude that they can both bring home to their parents and I can bring to go see The Hobbit with my friends later that night.

So what could go wrong with this recipe? Well as I said before sugar cookies and I have never been on the best of terms, when I’m baking them at least, hand them to me finished on a platter and we are CLOSE! I could burn the cookies meaning the kids will be upset and I will have no cookies to bring into the movie. The kids could get the baking ingredients all over the kitchen, which they have done in the past. I could burn them. I could roll them too thin and they tear. I could burn them. They could spread strangely and not look like pretty snowflakes when they come out. I could burn them. I could forget an ingredient ruining the batter. And did I mention I could burn them?

However many times I have burnt sugar cookies in the past I am trying to push all fears about burning them again aside and go into this activity with a clear and determined mind. My hope is that the kids are obedient which they should be when I threaten them with no cookies, and that I will have a nice little stash of cookies to enjoy during the movie. Friday I’ll tell you all the sweet or burnt details!

Spooky Bones Guest Post!

The Pinning Nanny’s special guest! Weekly Waves very own DAN PARK!!! *applause *clapping *laughter. Thank you thank you, you guys are all too kind. So this week, Rebecca told me her kids are going to be doing a very SPOOOKY project. This week Rebecca and the children will be making “Spooky Bones”. Now I have been given the opportunity to imagine this scenario and paint a picture of how I would imagine it to go. However, to remain faithful to my own blog I’m going to paint a picture with the song I think will accurately depict this scene.

The song I’m going to choose is Rather Be. I originally wanted to paint this picture in a way that was wild and hectic, but I am going to give Rebecca the benefit of the doubt and say that this project will be a success becoming a blissful and spooky memory that these children will hold forever. It overall seems like a fairly easy project. However, usually anything that involves food and sticky material, there will be a mess to follow, but I am going to say that it will be a cheerful memory.

But let’s see how it’ll turn out in my head, and I suggest the reader to turn on this song while we are going on this little adventure. Rebecca will come in and the kids will greet her with a warm hug telling her about all the candy they want to eat on the upcoming holiday. Rebecca will then ask if they want the best treat of all: SPOOKY BONES! Obviously the kids will rejoice and scream for the spooky bones. Being the caretaker she is, Rebecca will have all the ingredients and get out the melting pot. Melting the chocolate she and the kids will prepare the marshmallows and pretzels. However, Jude think’s that these are Q-tips and sticks one in his ear. Quickly reacting Rebecca pulls it out, but the marshmallow gets stuck. Even though she pulls out most of it, there is still marsh residue. During this time the white chocolate is burning up!

Calm and collected Rebecca switches off the melting pot, as she swiftly washes Jude up. Penny is also being extremely helpful, helping Rebecca retrieve all the necessary equipment. All the while the children are laughing. Making a new batch of chocolate…10 minutes pass, they’re finally ready to cover the “bones”. They get through a ribcage worth of bones when Penny accidentally knocks over her bowl of chocolate onto Jude’s face. Instead of crying Jude says… “Look I’m a ghost now”. Penny dabs a spooky bone on Jude’s face and eats it. Then Jude, Penny, and Rebecca begin to laugh. They continue laughing while eating the rest of the bones, while Jude and Penny are getting cleaned up, and while they clean the premises. Looking back twenty, thirty years from now they’ll both know what a great Nanny they had, and that there was no place else that they would rather be. The end.

 

Pumpkin Butter and Cake

The pumpkin butter was a success! I am so happy to report that yesterday I made pumpkin butter with the kids without a hitch. Ok maybe almost without a hitch is a better way to put it. As I was setting up all the stuff to make the butter the kids went a little crazy. We were at my house yesterday and my mom was taking care of two kids herself. Usually Penny and Jude get along famously with the kids my mom watches, let’s call them James (5 years old) and Amy (2 years old), but yesterday was different. I was in the kitchen pulling out all the ingredients when BAM pandemonium! Amy pushed Jude, Jude took Amy’s toy, James desperately wanted a hug from Penny,Penny didn’t want to give James a hug, and EVERYONE was screaming! I ended up having to discipline Jude and deal with all the screaming before I was able to start the pumpkin butter. 20141009_100929

Once the madness was over I got back to the task at hand, making the pumpkin butter. Just before all the drama I had set all the ingredients out so I called James and Penny over to help me measure and put the pumpkin and the white sugar in. Then I had Jude come over and help me with the brown sugar. And finally I had little Amy help me stir it all together. I held off putting the spices in until 30 minutes from the end of the cook time because I had seen in another recipe that by doing that the spices came through better. And so with the pumpkin and sugars mixed in the crock pot I let it cook on high for the 3 hours, stirring occasionally to stop it from burning.  Every time I took the lid off to stir it I was hit with the pungent smell of pumpkin, it was a good way to spend a few hours. As I said in my prediction, I almost forgot about stirring it at one point because I was doing homework luckily my best friend, Hannah, was down stairs and stirred it for me.

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The end result was delicious. Hannah having a sweet tooth craving decided to bake a little Busy Day Cake while the kids were napping and I was doing homework. By the way Busy Day Cake is a great easy recipe for when you need a quick no fuss cake. And so after the kids got up from nap I cut up slices of cake and served it with the pumpkin butter on top. Let me tell you YUM! There is nothing like fresh cake with fresh pumpkin butter on top! Needless to say the kids were happy, not only did we get to make something in the morning but we got to eat it over cake in the afternoon. I think this recipe is great and would encourage all those who don’t want to go through roasting their own pumpkin to try out this recipe. The kids were pleased and so am I, I mean how could you not just look at the end result!20141009_155733

Pumpkin Butter in Theory

DSC_1814-copyOctober has arrived and with it all things fall. Through my pinning I was able to find four activities that fit the theme of the month, fall and Halloween. In this first week of October I have chosen to make pumpkin butter with the kids. They love toast and so anything to put on top of it is sure to be a hit. The pin led me to a blog post by the blogger Recipes that Crock. A funny name I must admit.

The recipe appealed to me because it is made in a crock pot, which means the kids and I will do a little work in the morning and then we can go play while our pumpkin butter cooks. Crock pots are ideal to use when with kids, you can throw all the ingredients in and then practically forget about it until it is done. Like I said ideal! Crock pot cooking is also ideal when you have a lot to do and just don’t want to have think about cooking. Just don’t completely forget about what you have in the crock pot! Anyway back to pumpkin butter and the kids. Other than the recipe using a crock pot the ingredients and directions are really simple! In the morning the kids and I have to put all the ingredients into the crock pot and 3 hours later we will have a tasty treat. Now I have found a bunch of a bunch of pumpkin butter recipes that use an actual pumpkin to make the butter and as much as my little hipster heart would love to say I was going to use a fresh fall squash and not a can I can’t lie… I don’t have time for real pumpkin! When making butter from a fresh pumpkin you have to roast the pumpkin first and then cook it with the seasonings for on average 5 hours. That is between 3-4 hours of extra work that I just don’t have time for! And so this time I’m using canned pumpkin, judge me is you must.

Alright so here is the part of the post that I imagine what could go wrong while making this, hopefully, yummy fall themed spread. Can pumpkin is well stocked at my local food store so I don’t have to worry about another borax fiasco, thank God! However there are other things that could go awry. The kids could dump too much of any of the seasonings into the pot making it taste overly spiced or just plain gross. They could get in a fit that comes to shoving and then there goes the canned pumpkin flying across the kitchen and then SPLAT! on the ground. I could forget to turn off the crock pot after 3 hours and burn the what would have been tasty afternoon snack. I hope none of these things happen, cause I really want to eat some pumpkin butter!

So the stage is set; in 2 days I will arm myself with a mixing spoon and apron and attempt to flawlessly make pumpkin butter with Penny and Jude. Will it work? We don’t know but come Friday afternoon I will tell you. Stay tuned this adventure has just begun!

Snack Time

Yesterday was one of the most challenging days of my nanny life each year, the VNA Rummage Sale. Twice a year my mother, sister, and I go to a MASSIVE rummage sale in Far Hills. I’m not exaggerating when I say it is huge and hectic! As always I have Penny and Jude on Thursdays and so they join me at the rummage sale. Rummage sales are fun, and I always come away with some great stuff (Dooney and Bourke bag for $20) but every time it is difficult with the kids. Over the years I have learned to combat their lack of interest in my binge shopping with snacks.

Yesterday was like any other sale day, I had my game plan. I packed my backpack FULL of snacks! Snacks are a must whenever I take the kids anywhere. They came be used for many many purposes. If a kid is bored you can always say “Oh you need something to do? Here have this.” if a reward is needed for good behavior a quick “If you’re good in here, or for a certain amount of time, I will give you a treat.” and if a distraction is needed nothing works better than being able to grab a snack out of your bag and saying “Here have this!”

My clutch go to snack for Penny and Jude is peanuts and raisins. Now granted peanuts and raisins doesn’t work for every kid, i.e. the ones that are allergic to peanuts, but for everyone else it is a powerful snack! I keep this snack on hand because not only do Penny and Jude love it but also because I can feel good about what I am feeding them. Peanuts are a great source of vitamin E, protein, and antioxidants among other things. Raisins promote healthy eyes,bones, and dental, they also help fight against fevers and constipation. As a snack for anyone peanuts and raisins are a great choice but for kids even more so! As I said yesterday was difficult but I can say that thanks to two bags of peanuts and raisins I was able to do all the shopping I wanted.

When you are looking for a peanuty snack that has a little bit more sweetness to it I recommend the kids and my favorite peanut butter cookies. This recipe is super easy and doesn’t have a lot of ingredients. We have made this recipes so many times. Two summers ago we got in the habit of making these cookies every Friday afternoon as a treat. The kids loved it, I loved it, and their parents loved coming home to the smell of freshly made cookies until we realized we had more cookies than we knew what to do with.

Whichever snack you try enjoy it, both have gotten me out of a lot of sticky situations… ok and also into a few, word of advice when making the cookies with kids don’t leave them alone with an open jar of peanut butter, and if the peanuts and raisins are in a bowl keep it on a surface other than a couch. These two snacks aren’t mess proof but they are both so good, enjoy!