Sunday, October 28, 2012

Gluten Free Snickerdoodles


I must confess...I love sweets! Since I've gone gluten free it's been harder to find sweets that I can eat (especially here in Japan where there isn't an abundance of gluten free companies). I think it's my love of sweets that birthed my love of baking...out of necessity.

Now I have found a few gluten free baking mixes here that are gluten free (one was for cookies) but I wasn't too impressed. My first attempt was chocolate chip cookies (I'll have to write about that some other time) but I kept hearing people talk about snickerdoodles which I've never had. I looked up a recipe and was determined to test it out. Sugar, butter, cinnamon (and a few other things)...you can't go wrong there!

Now for the recipe:

Ingredients

Cookie dough
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup margarine or butter softened (or melted, see note below)
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Coating
2 Tbs sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

If you plan on baking these immediately after making then go ahead and pre-heat your oven to 400 F (about 204 C).

In a large bowl cream the sugar and butter. If you want to bake your cookies immediately I suggest you use softened butter. If you plan on letting the dough harden in the fridge then melted butter is fine. I am lazy so I leave the electric mixer in my cabinet and use a spoon to mix everything. An electric mixer would probably work well to.

Add the vanilla and eggs and blend well. Add the flours and sprinkle on the cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt evenly on top. I try and mix the dry ingredients on the top before incorporating with the wet ingredients. Mix everything together until a dough forms.

If your dough seems too "gooey" to form into balls you can let it harden in the fridge. Make the topping by mixing the sugar and cinnamon together well.



Roll dough into 1 inch balls then roll each ball into the sugar/cinnamon mix till entirely covered.



Place on a parchment lined baking pan at least 1 inch apart and flattenen a bit with your fingers.


Bake 7-9 minutes  making sure not to brown them. Leave on the baking pan for a few minutes before trying to remove or they will crumble. Once they are cool enough you can remove them with a spatula carefully and they won't crumble.


This recipe makes about 50 small cookies. I usually make this for potlucks so I like to make them small and numerous! You may be able to make them bigger but I haven't tried that yet. 


Friday, October 19, 2012

Vitacost October BOGO!



One of my favorite places lately to look for healthier food options (including gluten free food) is Vitacost. During the month of October they are having a Buy One Get One 1/2 Off (same product and size) on certain products. Some I've tried but there were others that I've been interested in trying.

They have a 16 oz jar of Organic Apple Cider Vinegar with "mother" for $2.39 so it would end up being 32 ounces for $3.59

Also Gummy Multivitamins for kids. The jar contains 150 servings and costs $11.49. For $17.24 you'll be getting 300 servings of multivitamins!

The last BOGO deal that looked interesting to me was the Cherry Fruit Extract Capsules. I was just reading recently about the benefits of eating cherries (good for pain relief specifically due to arthritis) but it said you should eat 20! Each jar contains 90 servings and costs $11.99 so with the BOGO deal you'll be paying $17.99 for 180 servings.

If you've never shopped with Vitacost before please use my referral link. Once you sign up you will get $10 off your first order and I will get $10 off as well.

Potty Training...

We started slowly introducing potty training with our oldest before he was 2 (while I was pregnant with our youngest son). He wanted nothing to do with the potty chair. He screamed and cried and wanted nothing to do with it.

Once he turned 2 we re-introduced him to it and he was fine. I haven't starte anything major yet but I do make sure he goes before his bath, nap, and bedtime. Most of the time he will go at least a little bit and a couple times he's actually gone poop! I figure when Thanksgiving comes I'll start "heavy duty" training like taking him more often...and possibly having him wear big boy undies.

Last week I created a chart for him as an incentive (hopefully) to want to go on the potty more and in his diaper less. He loves Curious George so I found a lot of clip art to use in his chart. I started a document in Pages, formatted it to landscape mode, and opened a table. I made the table 5 rows and 6 columns with the height and length of each 1.5 inches. I decorated the rest of the paper with clip art.

Next, I copied and pasted the chart to the next page and pasted Curious George images in each box. I chose a different picture for each one.





After printing (and trimming because I printed it A4 size) I laminated the chart and the individually cut squares of clip art. Then I used velcro with adhesive on it and stuck the "hook" part onto each square of the chart and the "loop" part to each picture.





I taped the chart on the bathroom wall right next to his potty chair.




So far I haven't noticed a big difference in his motivation to use the potty. He does like seeing each picture as he puts it on the chart.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Painting Without a Brush




When J received some Amazon money from one of his grandpas I knew I wanted to buy some art supplies. I bought him some Crayola Washable Kids Paint set of 10 Bottles (2 fl oz/59mL) because I knew he would get messy with it!

When it arrived we did a couple different activities with it- paintbrush free! I used the box that his laminator (from the same Amazon order) came in to put the paper in. (Yes, I said HIS laminator because I'll mostly be using it to laminate things for our "homeschool").

I taped down a sheet of paper, let him choose 3 paint colors and squirted a bit of each color on the paper. I put in a bouncy ball and a plastic golf ball for him to roll around. He was frustrated at first because he didn't know what he was supposed to do and was more interested in pouring the paint into the box (I was NOT going to let him do that because I knew he would want to dump the whole thing in). Once I showed him what to do he enjoyed rolling the balls around to make a design.

This was his first paper



After a few minutes he pointed to the pad of paper because he wanted a new sheet. I untaped the first sheet and taped a new sheet on for him to repeat the process. I didn't add any extra paint this time.

It's lighter but still cool looking


Again, he got bored after a while and wanted a new sheet. I got him a new sheet and poured some blue paint in the box. Instead if rolling the balls he picked up the bouncy ball and used it to spread the paint. He found the top to a toy machine ball and stamped with that. I wanted him to keep experimenting so I showed him a cookie cutter that was still out from the last time he played with dough. I also showed him a few plastic toys that would make cool textures.

                                   
End result of stamping

He really enjoys painting and it keeps him occupied for a long time as long as I keep giving him new sheets of "canvas". 



Monday, October 1, 2012

Felt Apple Tree




Since we're in Japan we miss out on the typical Autumn things: leaves turning colors and crunching beneath our feet, cool winds gradually welcoming winter, and apple picking. As a child I loved fall festivals and picking apples and pumpkins. 
I decided J and I could still do some apple picking...just with a twist. Since I was already beginning to teach him the letter A; this activity would be multifunctional.

Materials
-back of a cereal box
-paint and paintbrush
-strip of cardboard (or construction paper)
-fake grass (used as sushi decoration) or green construction paper
-glue
-green and red felt
-tissue paper (or cotton balls)


First, I cut the back of a cereal box off and turned it over for J's canvas. I gave him blue paint and a paintbrush to paint the sky. This would have worked better if I had a larger brush because he got bored of trying to cover the whole thing.





Next, I helped him dab glue on the bottom of the sheet to place the grass down. I found this plastic grass easily because it is sold to be used as decoration with sushi. You can easily use green construction  paper instead. *I had to look past the fact that there was so much unpainted ;)  *





 Next, I gave him some tore up, white tissue paper and helped him glue it in the sky. I realized later that de-fluffed cotton balls would have been cuter.




 I added a cardboard strip and green felt for the leaves. He helped me press them down.




 I used a penny to trace circles onto red felt and cut them out. Now we can do some apple picking of our own! If he was a little older I'd add a die to practice numbers. Roll the die and pick the same amount of apples off the tree.




It's *almost* like I'm laying on the ground staring up at the apples.


We don't have apple orchards here but we DO have mikan orchards (mikans are like mandarin oranges). Maybe we can make that a tradition :)

What do you enjoy about fall?