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Archive for January, 2013

crayons4On my quest to find something non-candy to give out to my daughter’s preschool class for Valentine’s Day, I came across a TON of adorable ideas, but the heart crayons stuck out, not just because they’re cute and would be a fun project, but because we had a gigantic plastic bin full of broken crayons that I had no idea what to do with – problem solved!  So I assembled the necessary tools:

…and set to work.  First we peeled off all the paper  – warning: this can take a while, luckily most of ours were already peeled, and my daughter oddly enjoys this, so she did most of the work.  I have heard that if you soak them in water though, it’s much easier, so I’ll try that next time.  Then we separated them into piles of similar colors, and then if they weren’t already small enough, we broke them a bit more to fit into the mold.

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Then we stuck them in a 250 degree oven for about 15 minutes, let them cool, and popped them out.  Done!  One note though – some brands of crayon we had (the ones that were non-Crayola) did NOT want to melt, even after 25 minutes in the oven.

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I had to end up mushing them up with a knife and sinking them into the other melted crayon, so for the 2nd batch I made sure to chop those up EXTRA small so they would at least sink in better, even if they didn’t melt.

Finally, I made some favor bag tops on card stock and stuck them on the top – totally cute, and Ally is especially excited that she gets to give everyone something she made.  I’ll be doing this one again for sure – I’m already thinking about pumpkin shapes, christmas tree shapes, shamrock shapes… the possibilities are endless!

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shortbread2I love love LOVE to bake, but almost all (okay, ALL) of my favorite, regular recipes involve chocolate in some way – pretty much the only exception are the holiday shortbread cookie press cookies that my mom always made, which are therefore a part of my heritage so the absence of chocolate is okay in this one and ONLY instance.  So you can imagine my surprise when I found a recipe for shortbread cookies in a magazine (originally for lime / cherry) and decided I HAD to try them.  It must have been fate, because they are delicious and I’ll definitely be making them again next year (if not sooner).   I wrapped a few up for a few of our neighbors and had them sitting out on Christmas Eve for everyone to nibble on – they were gone within one day, as you can imagine.

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I adapted this recipe to suit my need for orange and cranberry, and I’m excited to try it with other flavors (lemon-poppy seed!).  Please try it – you’ll be so glad you did:

Orange Cranberry Shortbread Cookies:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 Tbsp grated orange peel
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
  1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until blended.  Beat in the orange peel and vanilla.  In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt; gradually beat into creamed mixture.  Stir in Cranberries.
  2. Divide the dough in half; shape each into a 7-in-long roll.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (about 2 hours).
  3. Unwrap and cut dough into 1/4-in slices.  Place on ungreased baking sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes or until edges are slightly golden brown.

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