We have science fair and Valentine’s Day on the calendar this month. A trip to Michael’s Crafts was inevitable. We hit the store yesterday, and after we completed our lap through all of the craft and school supply aisles, a small end cap display with Valentine baking supplies happened to catch my eye. Mini paper loaf pans– with hearts! Does it get any better? Mini + baking + holiday craft all in one.
I bought the last two bags of mini loaf pans and immediately came home to make small breads and cakes. I baked this Savory Rosemary and Pine Nut Bread in 12 of the pans and a “faux” chocolate chip pound cake in the other 12 pans I had (recipe below).
We wrapped the mini loaves in 3″ x 4″ clear plastic treat bags and used a twist tie to close. I printed labels for the bags with a small heart motif, and we will be delivering these little treats to my children’s teachers for Valentine’s Day. They make a great teacher gift because they are a single serving and are easy for little people to carry to school and deliver.
Chocolate Chip Pound Cake
- 1 box yellow cake mix
- 1 small box instant vanilla pudding
- 1 small box instant chocolate pudding
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/2 c. water
- 1/2 c. vegetable oil
- 6 oz. chocolate chips
- Stir cake mix and pudding mixes together in a large bowl.
- Add eggs, oil, and water. Beat by hand until smooth.
- Stir in chocolate chips. You can coat the chocolate chips with about 1/2 T. flour before adding to the batter to keep them from sinking to the bottom during baking. If you are making mini sized cakes, use mini chocolate chips.
- Pour into a greased and floured bundt pan. If you are using the mini paper loaf pans, you do not need to grease or flour the pans. You will fill the mini pans about halfway.
- Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. If baking the mini size, reduce baking time to ~30 minutes.
- Cool 20 minutes and remove from pan. If using the mini pans, leave in the paper pans.
- The mini paper loaf pans can bake in a temperature up to 400 degrees. They do not need to be greased. To get your bread or cake out of the little pan, you unstick the corners and pull the sides away when serving.
This year, Miss Priss and Mr. Star Wars have several teachers who are dog owners. It gave me a little inspiration for a new teacher gift idea for the holidays. We got out a dog biscuit cookbook and tried out a few organic dog food recipes. Most of the dog treats need to be refrigerated after baking, so we narrowed down our choices to two recipes that can be stored at room temperature when finished. (CLICK HERE to see the Bubba Rose Biscuit Company cookbook information.)
We liked the recipes that made a dough that rolled out, so you could cut fun shaped dog treats. We used bone, fire hydrant, and squirrel cookie cutters. The dough is a little sticky at first, and we kneaded in a little extra flour to make it easier to work. We tried to roll the dough about 1/4″ thick, but if you have kids rolling out the dough, you might have some batches that are thicker. Increase the baking time if you have thicker biscuits. We watched until the biscuits were browned on the edges.
There are many dog treat recipes available online. You need to know if your dog has any food sensitivities, and the dog biscuits should never have chocolate, raisins, onions, and a few other items that are toxic to dogs. Many of the recipes I found had specialty flours (we used brown rice flour and oat flour), so check your pantry before starting. CLICK HERE for one recipe from the Bubba Rose people that is similar to the ones we made. Our cookbook said it is easy to swap out the “flavor” ingredients for something similar– it did not recommend replacing the flours. For example, if a recipe calls for cheddar cheese, you could replace with provolone. If a recipe calls for ground chicken, you could replace with ground turkey.
When we are putting together our gift boxes, we are making sure there is a mix of shapes in the gift box (or bag). We are also wrapping up a few gift boxes for our neighbors and friends who have family dogs.
Holiday market week is here! After working all semester, my students’ products are bagged, tagged, and ready for purchase. The first product we assembled back in September were these reindeer food ornaments to hang on your Christmas tree (we also made these BIRDSEED ORNAMENTS and several MASON JAR MIXES). On Christmas Eve, you open the bag and sprinkle the reindeer food on your lawn to attract Santa’s reindeer.
I originally received a bag of reindeer food from a grandparent in my son’s 3-year old nursery school class. I kept that original bag all these years and duplicated (modified) the pattern over the years. The original reindeer food is a little fancier than the version my fourth graders made this year. Mass production with a 10-year old work crew forced us to simplify a few of the steps.
- old fashioned oatmeal (not instant)
- glitter (we prefer silver, light blue, or clear colored)
- bead bags with ziploc top (3″ x 5″)
- tan or light brown cardstock or scrapbook paper (3″ x 4″ pieces, folded in half)
- dark brown cardstock or scrapbook paper
- googly eyes (10 mm)
- red pom poms (10 mm)
- jingle bells (3/4″)
- skinny ribbon (~12″ strips– curly ribbon works)
- Elmer’s glue or hot glue gun
- Mix oatmeal and glitter in a bowl. You will need 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of oatmeal mix per bag, so mix the amount you need and add the amount of glitter sparkle you like!
- Scoop sparkly oatmeal into a bead bag and seal the bag closed making sure the ziploc is secure. Don’t overfill the bags. I like the bags to be about half full and not overly plump. Set aside.
- Make an antler template. I cut up a manila file folder to make my template. The antler is about 2 1/2″ tall and 1 1/2″ at the widest bumpy part. Using the template, trace the antler pattern on the dark brown paper and cut as many antler pairs as you need.
- Fold the light brown 3″ x 4″ paper in half, so the paper is 2″ x 3″. Glue two antlers on the back and let dry. Watch that the antlers do not slide while the glue is wet. You may need to hold the antlers in place for a minute until they stick in position.
- Thread one jingle bell onto a piece of ribbon. Silver jingle bells were easier to thread than gold; they had a bigger “loop” on the bottom in the brand that I purchased from Michael’s Crafts. Move the jingle bell to the middle of the ribbon piece. Match the ends of the ribbon and tie a knot close to the ends. After the antlers dry, wrap the loop of ribbon around the folded piece of paper, so the knot of the ribbon sits up against the fold, and the jingle bell is above the paper near the antlers (like a handle for hanging).
- Slide the oatmeal bag into the folded paper and line up the top of the bag with the crease at the top of the paper fold. You may have to adjust the ribbon strip a little, so everything sits neatly. Staple the bag in place in the center of the paper where the mouth would be.
- Glue eyes and nose onto the front of the paper and let dry.
- If you want to dress up your reindeer food a little, see the picture below with embellishments like the bow on the front (to hide the staple) and pointed face. This one is my original reindeer food bag that I have been using as my model all of these years– and not letting my children open and use it!
Thanks to everyone who participated in the giveaway for two Back to School Teacher Emergency Kits.
Congratulations to the winner, Laura S! Laura, please look for an e-mail from me, so I can get your kits in the mail to you promptly.
For those who did not win, it is easy to make your own Teacher Emergency Kits. Find a small zippered bag (like a cosmetics bag), a little box with compartments (like a bead box from Michael’s Crafts), or a simple gift bag and fill with items that would be helpful to have in your desk or bag that would not be readily available at school.
- travel toothbrush and toothpaste
- dental floss
- cough drops
- Sharpie pen
- safety pins
- travel comb
- quarters (for the soda machine)
- hair ties or clips
- Tide to go stick
- travel sized hand lotion
- Smart phone charger