Tissue Paper Sun Catchers

My son is totally embracing his observation phase. He loves to pinpoint color, look through objects to see the light, and examine thing carefully. So finding a project that can cater to multiple interests is always fun.

The worst part of looking for a project is that so many have a major cleanup. Luckily, this project is pretty much mess-free. No paint, no glue. While those things are great sometimes, other times, it’s nice to have a quicker, easier project that doesn’t require a big cleanup or a lot of drying time before it can be displayed.

But first, a little tiny bit of prep work. If you have an older learner, of course, they can help or do this part, but for younger kiddos, you’ll want to do the prep yourself.

You’ll want to start out by cutting a circle out of construction paper pretty much the width of your paper in diameter. For me, that meant using my circle cutter at an 8″ setting, but you can trace the circle with a saucer, freehand it, or use whatever circle cutting method works for you.

Next, you’ll cut out the center of the circle, leaving about an inch remaining for your main sun body. Since Zach and I were each doing a sun, we decided to use two different colors to allow us to alternate the sun rays, but you can use whichever color you’d like. Be sure to save the inside piece to make the rays of your sun!

Cut the center of the sun into a pizza, essentially, creating several small rays. If you’re making more than one, of course, repeat this for each of your sun centers. I decided to use a straight-line paper cutter, but scissors work, too!

You’ll end up with an assortment of triangles (well, triangles with a curved edge, I suppose).

Arrange your rays around the edge of your de-centered circle. Of course, if you are making multiple suns, you can alternate ray colors by using some of one sun’s center, and some of the other. Or, you can keep it all one color. Get creative (or ask your child’s input).

To make the actual sun-catcher part of the suns, you’ll want to cut out some clear Con-Tact paper. I found mine in the cleaning section of my local store, since people typically use it for protecting shelves instead of crafts, apparently. If you’re using a circle cutter, you’ll want to set it about 1/10th of an inch smaller than the outer diameter of your circle, so it’ll hold the rays in place without overlapping the outside edge of the circle at all.

Peel off the backing carefully and affix the paper to your sun, making sure to hold the rays in place and smooth out wrinkles in the edges.

If you aren’t ready for your child to work on the project, or if you’re preparing your suns in advance for the next day, or a large classroom full of kids, you can easily re-attach the Con-Tact paper’s protective layer to the sticky side to keep it from collecting dirt or dust until you’re ready to start the project.

To finish your prep work, cut several colors of tissue paper into small pieces. I love to keep tissue paper on hand for projects like this, but you can also recycle any tissue paper you get in a gift bag– it doesn’t have to be new or flat for this project. You’ll want to make the pieces large enough for little fingers, but small enough that you’ll fit quite a few on the sun for variation.

When it’s time, peel off the backing and let your child go to work!

You’ll find that your child may be extra careful and pick up one piece at a time…

…or your child may pile the pieces on by the handful with no rhyme or reason. A lot depends on their age, and how they typically approach a project like this, but the beauty of it is there is no wrong way to do it! Whether they’re piled on or carefully placed, the end result will be really pretty.

Sometimes, little artists find out first-hand how the tissue paper sticks to the sun!

This is a great artistic process that allows kids to carefully examine color, and practice those fine motor skills in a beautiful way.

The end goal, of course, is to make sure you’ve covered as much of the clear Con-Tact paper as possible!

Because there is no glue or paint, these works of art can be displayed immediately on the nearest window! Zach decided he wanted to hang his up himself (with a little help from mom), and then spent a very long time pointing out the specific colors he had used on his project. He was so proud of it and showed everyone who entered the house “Look! My sun!”

These suns are so much fun, and a great way to celebrate the spring season. Plus, they’re versatile enough to stay up through summer if you just can’t bear to part with them! And my favorite part of this project is that you don’t just have to stick to suns– you can always pick any shape that interests you and your kiddo, and cut it out to make a special shaped sun-catcher of your very own.

I know we will be making plenty more sun-catchers soon, because Zach just can’t get enough of showing people this project!

 

What is your go-to mess-free project for kids? Tell me about it in the comments below!

Pigs In a Blanket: 3 New Twists!

It seems like we have a ton of cool holidays that we celebrate… I mean, Easter, Fourth of July, Christmas, National Pigs in a Blanket Day….

…yes, you heard me right. It’s a thing. In fact, it’s coming up this week, April 24! Who doesn’t love pigs in a blanket? Well, except maybe the vegetarian/vegan crowd… Those delicious hot dogs, rolled up in a perfect Pillsbury crescent roll, baked until golden… just perfection right there!

So, I started off with some crescent rolls, and in honor of Pigs In a Blanket Day, I decided it’s time to get creative.

I like the Pillsbury ones because they always seem to bake perfectly every time. Save the package, because your baking instructions for each of these pigs in a blanket are right there on the package– you bake them just like you would crescent rolls by themselves.

First up, Piglets in Blankies! These are going to be the most similar to what you know and love about pigs in a blanket, just smaller and a little snazzier. These are adorable, and, while of course they’re great for dinner, these would also be a delicious appetizer for a big game, a great party snack, or an easy lunch.

Start by cutting your crescent rolls in half lengthwise. Because you’ll be using Lil Smokies instead of a full-length hot dog, you’ll want a smaller crescent roll, basically.

Spread your crescent roll with some honey barbecue (or your favorite barbecue sauce of choice), and then a drizzle of mustard. Even if you aren’t a mustard fan, I promise it adds an amazing tang that can’t be beat! Roll up your Lil Smokie in the crescent.

Get your finger just barely wet with water, wet the top of the crescent, then sprinkle some sesame seeds on top. In the same way that a Sesame Seed Bun just makes a burger better, these delicious piglets get an extra snappy beat from the sesame seeds on top. They’re just that extra cute touch that makes these even better.

Bake these according to the package directions on the crescent rolls, and serve.

Yum! And oh-so-cute!

Aren’t chili dogs just the best? I love them so much; in fact, I’m hard-pressed to eat a hot dog unless it’s in a pig in a blanket or a chili dog. This is the best of both worlds by being equally chili dog AND pig in a blanket, and since the chili was so nice and messy, I decided to call them Pigs in Muddy Blankets. What pig doesn’t love mud to cool off?

Now, I’ll just say it here. If you’d rather use your own homemade chili here, you absolutely can. To make it easier on myself, I decided to use a can of Hormel Chili with beans and meat.

Start by cutting your hotdog in half lengthwise. Not only will you get more pigs in a blanket using fewer dogs, but it’ll help keep the chili from squeezing out. Next to it, place a generous spoonful of chili.

Sprinkle with cheese. I used a cheddar and Monterrey jack blend. Roll the muddy blankets up and bake according to the crescent roll package directions.

Before you serve them, top them like you would any chili dog. I personally love diced onions and even more cheese!

Finally, I have to share my personal favorite, pigs in sombreros. Now, I might blow your mind just a little bit because, well… there’s no hot dog in this one. But that’s okay! They’re delicious nonetheless.

Instead, the traditional hot dog is replaced entirely by taco meat! So, start by browning some hamburger and seasoning it the way you would for tacos. I personally like to go easy and use the Old El Paso packet and just follow the directions on the back, because hey, easy!

Place a large spoonful of taco meat on the wide part of your crescent roll.

Then, add diced onions and your favorite taco blend, Mexican blend, or pepper jack cheese. I personally like Kraft’s Mexican Blend.

Now, form the sombrero. You wrap the two wide corners in towards the middle, overlapping a bit and covering the taco meat and cheese. Then, take the long point and wrap it up and over the overlapped part, tucking it under the top edge of the crescent roll.

It’ll form a cute little pocket like this! Bake it according to the crescent roll package directions until golden brown.

Before serving, deck out your pigs in sombreros with typical taco toppings– lettuce, tomato, sour cream, extra cheese, salsa, whatever you’d like!

There you have it! 3 delicious ways to try a new take on Pigs in a Blanket to celebrate Pigs in a Blanket Day this week!

 

Do you do Pigs in a Blanket a certain way at your house? What sides do you like with it? And which of the above three ways do you most want to try? Let me know in the comments below! Have a great Pigs in a Blanket Day!

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

It seems like every family has it’s staple foods that are a must-have at every big family gathering, like Thanksgiving and Easter. For my family, that was always Strawberry Pretzel Salad. I’m not entirely sure why we call it a salad, because it doesn’t have any of the traditional characteristics of a salad, but we always called it a salad, and it never, ever found it’s place at the dessert table, despite it being oddly dessert-like. No, Strawberry Pretzel Salad’s place was on the main buffet of food, alongside potatoes and deviled eggs and ham.

Over the past few years, I’ve seen similar recipes float by. Some with pineapple, most with more or less cream cheese or Cool Whip, some with powdered sugar instead of granulated, but it seemed that I had no chance at finding THE Strawberry Pretzel Salad I grew up eating. However, after hours of searching through old church cookbooks, I finally found the Strawberry Pretzel Salad that I knew and loved. And now, I’m sharing it with you.

The ingredients are quite simple: Strawberry Jello, Strawberries, Pretzels, and a few others. I’ve found that Philadelphia cream cheese works better than store brands, but that’s a personal preference and you can use what you have on hand. It’s just my preferred brand. When buying the Strawberry Jell-O, make sure you’re buying the 8-serving large box, rather than the small box.

You’re going to start by making the pretzel crust. For those of you who love sweet and salty, this crust is made for you. Start with 3/4 Cup melted butter or margarine, and stir in 3 Tablespoons of granulated sugar. Then, crush enough pretzels to make 2 cups (it took me 3-4 cups of whole pretzels to get 2 cups of crushed pretzels) and spread them into the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Pour the butter mixture over the crust, making sure the pretzels are coated and packed into the pan.

Just like this!

Bake the crust for 8 minutes at 350 degrees. Be sure to let it cool completely before moving on to the filling.

For the filling, you’ll take your package of Philadelphia (8 ounces) and a cup of sugar and cream them together until they’re well combined and a bit fluffy. You can use a beater if you’d like, but a fork will work just fine.

Add in an entire tub of Cool Whip and combine that very well, also.

Spread it over the cooled crust and refrigerate as you prepare the topping.

For step 3, start by boiling 2 cups of water. It will look like… uh… boiling water. In a separate bowl, go ahead and open the package of Strawberry Jell-O.

When your water boils, stir it into the Strawberry Jell-O until the gelatin is dissolved.

Add in 20 ounces of thawed frozen berries. I personally love the pre-sliced Dole strawberries, but they come in a 14 ounce package. You’ll use about 1 1/2 packages, so you’ll have half a package leftover for smoothies later. After adding the berries in, you’re going to stir and wait until the Jell-O mixture is cooled, but not fully set.

Carefully pour it over the cream cheese layer, then refrigerate for several hours until the Jell-O layer is firmly set.

This dessert is just perfect, especially for Easter, because it tastes light and fresh, not too heavy, and has a great sweet-salty consistency, and a bit of crunch from the pretzels. It’s a great choice. But if you serve it, don’t forget, it’s a salad, not a dessert, which means if you over-indulge on the desserts this Easter, well… at least you ate your salad, right?

 

What’s your must-have food for Easter? Let me know in the comments below!

5 Tips for Making Easter Entertaining Easier

It is hard to host a holiday celebration, and to be honest, it’s a lot of stress that can be hard to handle, especially if you’re a perfectionist. But I’ve got five great tips to help you make your Easter celebration a little easier for everyone, especially you.

In advance of the dinner, you’re going to want to make some decisions. Rather than competing with trying to get in dinner, an egg hunt, or whatever else you need to do in the post-church lunch, why not consider switching your Easter dinner to Saturday instead of the traditional Sunday? Or, postpone it by a week and celebrate the following Saturday. This will allow you plenty of time to enjoy Easter dinner with your family, and will open Sunday open to put your focus on what Easter is really all about, beyond the bunny and the eggs. Plus, you’re not worrying about running home after church to cook before everyone gets there. Just one simple date switch can help change the entire mood of the celebration, and gives you more time to prepare.

Once you have your date figured out, it’s time to trim and polish your guest list. By only inviting as many guests as you personally can handle, you’ll make it easier on yourself. If you’re one of those people who doesn’t mind hosting a 40-guest feast, then open yourself up to a large party. But if a larger party stresses you out, trim the guest list until it’s more manageable for you. If you’re afraid of hurting feelings by not inviting someone, then just go with the “We just don’t have as much space as we’d like, so we’re going with a more intimate celebration this year.” When paring the guest list, if there’s anyone that causes a lot of stress for you that you can remove from the guest list tactfully, now is the time to make that cut, again, using the space excuse if you must. Sometimes, trimming a few negative nellies is a good way to make Easter a more enjoyable experience for everyone.

As you start planning your menu, consider how you want dinner to be served. Rather than building a whole sit down dinner, why not consider a buffet-style serving method? This will allow you less job serving everyone, and more time enjoying the meal with your family and friends. Plus, if you have multiple tables (like a kid’s table and an adult table, or a dining table and a kitchen table, to accommodate more guests), you’re not having to worry about doing things like providing rolls and food to every table. Instead, everyone can dip their food and come back for more if they need to.

Once you’ve figured out your Easter menu, you can start looking at what foods can be prepared early. The earlier you can prepare some of your foods, the less you need to do the day of the meal. For example, you can hardboil eggs up to 7 days in advance, and devil them later, to cut down on boiling needs the day of. Consider making as many foods ahead as possible. The Rustic Carrot Cookies I shared can keep for several days in an airtight container in the freezer. Plus, if you find a really good type of roll the day before, is anyone really going to miss the ones that take you all day to make? For dinner, some store-bought stuff can work just as well as the real-deal. The best part is that you can even decorate the day before– the night before your celebration, go ahead and decorate the table, set up the buffet centerpiece, and more so you can have it all ready in advance of the actual meal. Then, at meal time, you can just set the food out and everyone will be impressed with how hard you worked! Even better, if you know your kids are old enough to know not to touch it, or if you’re using a dining room that can be closed off, and you won’t be using it for a few days in advance of Easter, you can always set up even days in advance. It’s one less thing to do the day of the main event!

Finally, the day of, while you can control most factors, it seems that kids are the wild card. Consider providing activities or games for the kids to do that will entertain them. Aside from the traditional egg hunt, you could consider offering coloring pages, or a small craft. Alternately, you could see about asking/bribing/blackmailing one of the older kids/younger teens to do some fun egg dyeing techniques for them (but no, really, consider asking families with kids for a small donation to pay for the teen to play with and entertain the kiddos– the kids get fun and attention, the teen gets a little pocket money, and the adults get a stress-free dinner without worrying that it’s their kid who is going to leave sharpie on the dining room table). Both the Easy Marble Egg Dye (link) and Volcano Egg Dye (link) are popular at the moment, have a big wow factor, and can keep kids entertained and your life much less stressful. Looking for something even the younger set can really enjoy safely? Try the Edible Peeps PlayDough recipe that’s been floating around the web (link)!

 

 

What are your tips for keeping Easter entertaining stress-free? Share them in the comments below!

Dental Care Tips for Kids– WITH GIVEAWAY!

It can be really hard to encourage good dental care habits in kids. For far too many, teeth brushing time becomes a fight. I have 7 great tips to help keep teeth clean and shiny without fuss or fight. Don’t forget to keep scrolling to the bottom of this post for a chance to win the entire product line from Tanner’s Tasty Paste, a great-tasting toothpaste for little giggles and grown-up grins!

Brushing your teeth with your child is a great way to promote healthy brushing habits! When you brush together, you’re showing them the proper way to brush, spit, and rinse, and open the door for conversation about good dental care being a lifelong process. If you and your child use separate bathrooms, try moving your dental care items into their bathroom so you can join in on their brushing fun. It’s a great way to start good dental care habits early.

Find time to add brushing into a certain part of your routine in the morning, for example, getting dressed, eating breakfast, brushing teeth, putting on shoes, and then going about the rest of your day, to be sure you never miss a brushing! Do the same before bed, such as picking up toys, taking a bath, having a night snack, brushing teeth, and then reading a story together. When you do this routine on a regular basis, it becomes a can’t-miss habit and children will look forward to that part of their routine. Additionally, find a fun brushing song that lasts about two minutes, or set a timer. The one that we love is part of the Daniel Tiger Day and Night app, available from PBS kids, in the Amazon and iTunes app stores. You can set it for 2 minutes and it’ll play a catchy tune. However, any egg timer or 2-minute-ish song will work!

Never make dentists a source of fear by creating threats (like “If you don’t brush your teeth, the dentist will have to fix your cavities with a drill!”) When you make dentists a source of fear, dental visits will start causing some anxiety. Instead, praise your child for a good set of brushing habits, and try a reward for cavity-free dental checkups!

Play pretend with stuffed animals or baby dolls, acting out brushing their teeth with an old toothbrush used for play to encourage more healthy toothbrushing habits. In the same way that you demonstrate healthy brushing habits to your child, they can demonstrate healthy dental care to their stuffed animals. By picking up a worn out toothbrush or a cheap one at a dollar store, they can introduce dental play into their play routine, too.

It is never too early to start discussing the tooth fairy, even though most kids don’t start losing teeth until they’re around 6, and share that the tooth fairy likes clean teeth. You can check out a great book like No Tooth, No Quarter, or a fun movie like the Tooth Fairy, to encourage this conversation, depending on your child’s age and stage. By sharing that the tooth fairy likes clean teeth, and helping kids learn about the process of losing teeth, it encourages an exciting dialogue about dental care!

Start cleaning teeth as soon as teeth start coming in, using a baby-friendly paste and a baby-friendly brush. Early dental care will prevent problems down the road, and establish a pattern of good dental care. Even before teeth come to the surface, it’s good to wipe gums with a clean washcloth or gauze pad to clear off plaque that builds up on the gums.

Help kids anticipate tooth brushing time by letting your child pick out their own toothbrush. Let them choose a color or character they love and have them select a brush they’ll look forward to using.

Also choose a really yummy toothpaste, like Tanner’s Tasty Paste. With flavors like Cha Cha Chocolate, you’ll never have a toothbrushing fight on your hands again. In fact, you might end up trying to use your kids’ toothpaste, too, it’s that tasty! I’ll be honest, when Tanner’s Tasty Paste approached me about trying out their line of toothpaste, I was really skeptical as to whether or not the flavors would be any good, and if they were any good, if they’d taste even remotely like chocolate or vanilla ice cream. Now, my son and I use Tanner’s Toothpaste every day. It really does taste spot-on to chocolate and vanilla flavors and is a great way to get Zach excited about dental care.

One thing I especially love about Tanner’s Tasty Paste is that, beyond listing the ingredients on their website, they tell you what each ingredient does for the paste, so you know exactly what you and your child are putting in your mouth– it’s a great way to feel a little safer about the product you’re using.

Check out the Tanner’s Tasty Paste website here, and see the three flavors they have available! Click Here

Don’t forget to connect with Tanner’s Tasty Paste on Facebook and Twitter!

 

Now, here’s the big part… a giveaway! Tanner’s Tasty Paste wants to give one of my lucky readers all three of their products: the Cha Cha Chocolate Tasty Paste, the Banilla Bling Tasty Paste, and finally, the Baby Bling tooth paste that is swallow-safe and fluoride free for even the littlest smiles. Would you like to win the product lineup? It’s incredibly easy to enter! Just leave a comment below sharing your top tip for getting kids to brush their teeth, OR let me know which of the Tanner’s Tasty Paste toothpastes you or your kids would most like to try!

The giveaway is open until 4/18/14 at 11:59pm CDT. After that, I’ll email the randomly selected winner!

 

 

Disclaimer: Tanner’s Tasty Paste sent me product to try, which is featured in this post. However, all opinions are my own honest views.

 

The Educational Importance of Planting with Kids

Kids learn so many things without realizing it. Or really, without us realizing it. Every word spoken, every activity done together, every book read, it all adds up to experiences, educational opportunities, and memories for a child. But when you take time to be intentional about what you’re teaching and really focus on the educational benefits, you’ll be amazed at how much the “little stuff” is really BIG stuff when it comes to teaching children, regardless of their age.

Growing plants together is a big educational opportunity that is very carefully disguised as fun. I can guarantee that if you’re planting with your child, they’ll have no clue that they’re learning, but they’ll be gaining valuable skills, whether they’re 3 or 13 or somewhere in between. And the best part is that now, anyone can grow things. Even if you don’t have a big garden, there are many kits and container gardening options that allow you to grow your own plants, indoors or out, and they’re generally available at a pretty affordable price. We picked up this grow kit for our big kid, featuring sweet basil and parsley, from Buzzy Seeds.

But you can think even smaller with these mini greenhouses that are perfect vegetable starters, available from the Miracle Grow kids product line. Both options are perfect for getting kids (and teens!) involved in the gardening process.

One of the big benefits that is present in gardening, especially with kits, is the thought of following directions. An older student can read the directions themselves and test their reading comprehension as they measure the right amount of water in the right temperature and do the steps in the proper order. A younger child can test their listening skills by listening to when to pour the dirt, when to pour water, when to stir, and how to plant seeds.

Fine motor skills are really worked to their limit when it comes to smaller children and planting. From accurately pouring from one container to another, to pressing the seeds in gently, there’s a lot of fine motor work going on during the gardening process. It is a great opportunity to get those fingers flexing and allow those smaller muscles to get a workout.

Observation plays a huge role throughout the gardening process. When you consider soil factors (young kids can watch the soil pellets in a kit expand, older kids can consider the aspects of the soil that make it viable for plants, and how it undergoes the change from pellet to soil), how light and weather impact plant growth, and the finished plant product as it sprouts, grows, and possibly gets transplanted, there is a lot to be observed. Even during the planting process, it’s a great time to whip out the magnifying glass and take a closer look at the things going on, from the seeds to the soil, and see how all of these parts play a vital role in the plant’s life.

Volume is a lesson that young kids learn but don’t realize they are learning. Anytime a small child pours water from one container to another, scoops rice from a bowl to a cup, or fills a cup with the contents of another cup until it overflows, kids are learning about volume and how it works. This is no different. In the same way that kids should have plenty of time to explore and experience the kitchen, it’s also good to give kids a chance to focus on gardening and how liquid plays a part in the gardening process. If nothing else, the small children are getting the hang of pouring.

Planting is also great for math and logic skills. A younger child can count seeds and consider where to place them. An older student can use spatial reasoning– how far apart is an inch? Can I imagine where to place the next one without getting a ruler, or use knowledge I already have on what an inch looks like to figure out where to place my next seed? How can I use those determinations and measurements to determine how deep to plant my seed?

Planting is an amazing sensory experience for younger children and older students alike. Sometimes, it’s important just to take a step back and really dig into the soil and dirt, feel the texture of it, enjoy the scent of it, and really get your hands dirty. Sensory experiences like that can’t be measured, but they’re infinitely important to a child’s growth and development. By introducing kids to different textures, you’re allowing them to better understand the world around them.

Plus, planting is about long-term responsibility as well as long-term results. By making sure to water and tend to the plants, you’ll reap great rewards of food, flowers, or other plant life in the process. When you make sure you’re watering the plant and caring for it regularly, giving it the long-term maintenance it needs, it’s a great way to learn about how living things take care, whether you’re applying it to how a pet also needs constant care and attention, or helping a child understand that they, as a living thing, need their own care and attention, such as inspiring grooming habits. It’s a really great way to explain that living things need that extra loving care. The best part is the benefit you’ll reap from long-term plant care. When growing food especially, it’s a great opportunity to then include it in a meal. For example, sweet basil is a great ingredient for a pizza or pasta! The hard effort that goes into growing the ingredients instills a sense of pride, and that pride makes the food taste even better.

Finally, planting is a great way to start other discussions. Whether you’re taking it as a good start to jump into books about planting, using it as inspiration to start a compost bin or other green activities, or even launching into a discussion about God’s creation, you’re able to use planting and gardening as a great starting point to many different conversations to come, which makes it an activity you just can’t pass up.

Whether you’re using a grow kit like we did, or you’re getting dirty outside, you’re going to find that planting together is a fantastic way to spend time together, a great way to relax, and just a fun experience all-around that will stick with kids in lifelong ways.

Happy spring… now get planting!

 

Do you tend a garden at home? And do your kids ever join you in the planting? Let me know in the comments below!

Rustic Carrot Cake Cookies

I might be part rabbit. I love all things fresh veggies, especially carrots. And, well, of course carrot cake is included in that. But sometimes a carrot cake is just too… fussy for me around the Easter season. With all of the other cooking to do for Easter dinner, I just can’t imagine adding a full from-scratch cake to the list. Plus, between getting crazy full during dinner, and the Easter egg hunting going on, it’s just no fun to have to sit down at the table again for dessert.

Cue these cookies. No muss, no fuss, and no need for a plate and a fork… just simple, delicious, and packed with all of the flavor of a carrot cake.

But is it difficult you ask? Tons of crazy ingredients just like a real carrot cake? No, and no. Let me show you…

This is all you need. Yup, really. Well, I mean, you’ll need a little water, but that hardly counts, right? Other than the mix, you’ll need 1 egg, 3 egg yolks (save the whites for an omelette!), a tablespoon of butter, the Whipped cream cheese frosting, and of course, the water.

For this recipe, you’ll want to be sure you’re buying the Duncan Hines Classic Carrot cake from their Decadent line. It’s important because you want the raisins and carrots to be separate, like they come here, in a pouch of their own. If you were making the cake, you’d stir them into the batter, but we’re not making cake, are we? Start by setting the cake mix aside.

The carrots and raisins come dehydrated, so the first thing you’ll want to do is re-hydrate them. You’ll do this by pouring the pouch and 1 1/4 cup of HOT water into a bowl. Just let it sit while you prepare the rest of the cookies, and they’ll do their thing.

For the cookie part, pour your cake mix, your egg, 3 egg yolks, and the tablespoon of butter into a bowl, combining them. I’ll tell you a little secret here… these cookies are actually modified from a cake mix pie crust recipe that Chef Joe from Duncan Hines gave me! So, if you want, you can always stop here and use this as a crust for a pie… but let’s keep going. If you find that it’s a little too dry to work with, add no more than 2 Tablespoons of water to the mixture, a teaspoon at a time, until it’s moist enough to work with, but not too sticky.

Roll your dough out to pie crust thickness and cut into circles using a round cutter or a class or another round object about the right size. I used my trusty round cutter that I use for just about any round cutting I have to do in the kitchen. You’ll bake these for 7-10 minutes at 350.

When they’re removed from the oven, immediately transfer them to a wire rack to cool. You’ll want them cooled completely before you add the frosting between them.

Whoa! Check out what happened to those carrots and raisins when we weren’t looking! They’ve tripled in size, at least! But there still might be a little more water in them, and we do NOT want that water thinning out our icing!

Strain the carrots and raisins completely…

Then use a towel to pat off all of the remaining excess water.

Take your Duncan Hines cream cheese frosting and the carrots and raisins, and mix them together until well blended.

Then, pipe it onto half of your cookies. Don’t make the mistake of piping too many cookies like I did… and then having to scrape it off. Ha! You can spread it with a spoon, but I’ve found I cover it more evenly if I pipe it. Your choice.

Finish by sandwiching the frosting with another delicious cookie, then chilling for awhile in the fridge. Or, enjoy them the way my family prefers, frozen like an ice cream sandwich!

Send some home with your Easter guests as a treat, put them in pretty bags to leave on a neighbor’s porch with a sweet note telling them to have a wonderful Easter, or enjoy them all yourself. There is no wrong way to handle these cookies.

I love that they’re very rustic, like something you’d find in your grandmother’s kitchen (provided your grandmother doesn’t severely dislike raisins, like mine does!), but at the same time, they’re incredibly simple. No one will ever believe that you made them from a mix.

 

What’s your favorite Spring dessert? Tell me in the comments below!