Tag Archives: easter

Candy-Filled Easter Eggs

6 May

All the cracking, bashing and crunching made these by far and away the most exciting springtime activity for the kids!  They make a gorgeous hostess gift, too, and you can make them for any occasion.

Materials:

  • eggs (white eggs will take color better than brown, but you can do a few uncolored, brown eggs for variety – I even did some white uncolored eggs)
  • vinegar
  • hot water
  • McCormick food and egg dye in the regular and neon colors (a fun – and much faster – alternative to dyeing the eggs is simply decorating with markers or stickers)
  • a non-metal container
  • mini cupcake paper/foil baking cups
  • glue

Instructions:

For detailed step-by-step instructions, see not martha‘s excellent tutorial for Easter Surprise Eggs here.

I followed the color recipe exactly because her eggs turned out so strikingly beautiful, but the only recipe that developed into a similar color to hers was the blue – and still it wasn’t quite as robin’s egg/turquoise in color.

The Outlaw Mom’s Tips:

  • If you agitate the eggs, you’ll get splotchy color, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  In fact, Hubby and Grandma’s favorite egg was the one that turned out the most speckly.

  • If you use just-boiled water and highly acidic vinegar (like I did), when you drop your egg into the coloring solution, it will spin and fizz like crazy on its own, which creates the speckled effect.
  • Although most blogs advise not to move your eggs around, I found that dipping the eggs once for an initial coat, and then dipping additional times to increase the color intensity worked better than when I tried the recommended method of letting the eggs sit in the solution and then rotating halfway during the coloring time.  Submerging the entire egg or leaving the egg floating on top of the solution didn’t seem to make a difference (except that if you leave the egg floating on top, you’ll have to rotate four times – quarter turns).

  • When taking the eggs out of the boiling water during sterilization or the just-boiled water for the solution, do not lift the egg out completely vertically so that the boiling hot water drips down on to your finger!  Try a more horizontal angle.
  • Try an eggs inside of eggs look.  I chose Cadbury Mini Eggs as the main candy,  Marich Mint Chip Maltballs to go along with the speckled theme, and Jelly Belly Ice Cream Parlor  jelly beans for more of the speckled egg look.  Sconza Dark Chocolate Raisins finished out the mix.

  • Use mini-cupcake baking cups to seal your eggs.  Stickers don’t fold around the jagged opening as well.  I used polka-dot mini-cupcake paper baking cups for all the colors except the blue eggs, which I sealed with silver foil cups.

  • Present the eggs in a clear tin for a pretty and practical way of transporting this gift.  Alternate the eggs with layers of paper Easter grass.

I think we’ll be making these for other occasions, too.  I see Fourth of July flag eggs, pumpkin eggs, Santa eggs . . . the cracking is irresistible fun!

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The Rise of Spring: Easter Craft & Baking Recap

28 Apr

I’ve always looked forward to back-to-school sales in early August, which mark the imminent start of the school year ahead.  New academic apparel means Halloween – the first official “holiday” of Fall – is around the corner, with Thanksgiving soon to follow, and Christmas rounding out the holiday season in early Winter.

This trio of festivities continually make Fall my favorite season with all the crafting, baking and planning involved for each occasion.

And of course, Fall wildly surpasses all other fashion seasons.  Autumn collections deliver, with bold classics for the serious fashionista.  Spring and Summer looks, on the other hand, tend to fall short.  They’re so full of – well – frivolous frippery, if you will.  Yes, platform sandals and gauzy blouses get my heart in a tizzy, but after the thrill of neon brights and florals wears off, you’re just left with a few flimsy pieces.

The same it was – I thought – for spring and summer crafting and baking.

I never thought I would say this, but I think Spring may be nudging out Fall as my favorite season.

Maybe having kids has gotten me all soft.  But it seems that my yearning for mellow autumn days of melancholy sunlight and the chill of winter solitude has been replaced by a fondness for chirpy chicks, fuzzy bunnies, bright pastels and the zippity-do-da of Spring.  Could it be that I’m ready to drop my teen angst at the ripe old age of 35?

With peppy springtime projects like candy-filled eggs, confetti cake pops, painted puppet boxes, sprinkled cookies and paper mache eggs, I just might be.

Candy-Filled Easter Eggs

All the cracking, bashing and crunching made these by far and away the most exciting springtime activity for the kids!  They also make a gorgeous hostess gift, too.

Materials:

  • eggs (white eggs will take color better than brown, but you can do a few uncolored, brown eggs for variety – I even did some white uncolored eggs)
  • vinegar
  • hot water
  • McCormick food and egg dye in the regular and neon colors (a fun – and much faster – alternative to dyeing the eggs is simply decorating with markers or stickers)
  • a non-metal container
  • mini cupcake paper/foil baking cups
  • glue

Instructions:

For detailed step-by-step instructions, see not martha‘s excellent tutorial for Easter Surprise Eggs here.

I followed the color recipe exactly because her eggs turned out so strikingly beautiful, but the only recipe that developed into a similar color to hers was the blue – and still it wasn’t quite as robin’s egg/turquoise in color.

The Outlaw Mom’s Tips:

  • If you agitate the eggs, you’ll get splotchy color, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  In fact, Hubby and Grandma’s favorite egg was the one that turned out the most speckly.

  • If you use just-boiled water and highly acidic vinegar (like I did), when you drop your egg into the coloring solution, it will spin and fizz like crazy on its own, which creates the speckled effect.
  • Although most blogs advise not to move your eggs around, I found that dipping the eggs once for an initial coat, and then dipping additional times to increase the color intensity worked better than when I tried the recommended method of letting the eggs sit in the solution and then rotating halfway during the coloring time.  Submerging the entire egg or leaving the egg floating on top of the solution didn’t seem to make a difference (except that if you leave the egg floating on top, you’ll have to rotate four times – quarter turns).

  • When taking the eggs out of the boiling water during sterilization or the just-boiled water for the solution, do not lift the egg out completely vertically so that the boiling hot water drips down on to your finger!  Try a more horizontal angle.
  • Try an eggs inside of eggs look.  I chose Cadbury Mini Eggs as the main candy,  Marich Mint Chip Maltballs to go along with the speckled theme, and Jelly Belly Ice Cream Parlor  jelly beans for more of the speckled egg look.  Sconza Dark Chocolate Raisins finished out the mix.

  • Use mini-cupcake baking cups to seal your eggs.  Stickers don’t fold around the jagged opening as well.  I used polka-dot mini-cupcake paper baking cups for all the colors except the blue eggs, which I sealed with silver foil cups.

  • Present the eggs in a clear tin for a pretty and practical way of transporting this gift.  Alternate the eggs with layers of paper Easter grass.

I think we’ll be making these for other occasions, too.  I see Fourth of July flag eggs, pumpkin eggs, Santa eggs . . . the cracking is irresistible fun!

Confetti Cake Pops & Ribbon Box

Since my first shot at the cake pop, I’ve been busy trying to perfect my technique.  I took my own advice on this attempt and chose white candy melts to make the spring confetti really pop.

The lifesaver this time around:  disposable candy melt bags.  I’m never making cake pops again without this handy dandy device!  You can melt and decorate so easily and with virtually no mess.  The double-boiler method would still probably give you the best results because it keeps the candy melts at an even temperature for a prolonged period of time, but my life is all about shortcuts these days.

For a fun spring birthday theme, I tried three different pastel confetti designs:

(1) all over confetti

(2) confetti dots

and (3) an ice cream look (covering only the top of the pop)

These were a birthday gift for a friend, so I needed a portable presentation.  A beribboned styrofoam block (using colored tacks) worked out perfectly.  A few tied ribbons on the cake pop sticks and a rectangular piece of cardstock used as a gift tag completed the present.

Wooden Spring/Easter Puppet Baskets

To make these springtime baskets – which make great children’s gifts – you’ll need:

  • wooden baskets (ours were $1 from Michael’s)
  • paint suitable for wood surfaces + a paintbrush
  • stickers
  • felt for the puppets (or buy pre-made felt puppets)
  • lollipop sticks (even a pencil will do – you just need something to prop up the puppet)

First, have your toddler paint the undecorated wooden baskets.  Let the paint dry overnight.

Then, decorate the painted boxes with stickers.

Finally, make your felt puppets or take your store bought ones and prop them up on a lollipop stick.  The easiest gift and super cute, too!

Easter Egg Sprinkle Cookies

These hard, cardboard-tasting “Ideal Sugar Cookies” were a total bust!  A little embarrassing because I gifted these to one of my friends, but it’s the thought that counts, isn’t it?  And they’re oh-so-pretty to look at.

The recipe was fine, but I doubled the butter and then tried to correct it by adding more of all the other ingredients and it just didn’t work. Of course, I used my favorite buttercream frosting, so licking off the sprinkled frosting was delicious!

“Paper Mache” Plastic Eggs

This is one project I couldn’t finish in time for Easter, but now that we have literally dozens of plastic Easter eggs littering our living room floor, I’m going to continue with the project anyway.  I only got so far as one egg, but the results are very cool.  Check out Sweeter than Sweets’ Tissue Paper Easter Eggs tutorial here.

Happy Spring baking and crafting!

Repurposed Easter Grass Spring Garden

15 Apr

You’ve probably already grown your Easter grass since Easter is only one week away, but have you figured out how to display your homegrown greens?

We made this colorful Easter grass spring garden using many repurposed items lying around our home:

but you can make yours almost entirely out of items headed for the recycling bin or trash!

Here’s what you’ll need for this fun project:

  • cardboard box
  • foam flowers (or you can make flower cutouts your own using cardboard, paper grocery bags or construction paper)
  • paint & paintbrushes
  • glue
  • grass seeds & soil
  • emptied and cleaned egg shells, baby food jars or any other containers you can find around the house (like plastic bottles cut in half)
  • press-on googly eyes (you can cut out and decorate paper or cardboard eyes, too)
  • miniature colored pom-poms (or try cotton balls, t-shirt fabric, old socks and other materials in your home if you’re really resourceful)

Easter Grass

I mentioned a few Easter grass tutorials here.  My favorites are this one from Rosy Posy (informative) and this one from K.I.S.S. (gift-worthy).

There’s no need for a pot to grow your grass in:  any old container will do.  We chose a combination of cleaned, dried egg shells and cleaned baby food jars that had been waiting for us to make use of them since these rock candy maracas.  If you’re using egg shells, just gently tap around the top of a raw egg with a spoon and the shell will crack just enough for you to pull away the pieces to make a small hole for depositing the soil and seeds.

Garden Base

We always have a ridiculously huge pile of cardboard at our house from all of the online ordering I do and basically all the shopping we do as a family, which – unless it’s done at the Farmer’s Market – involves a lot of packaging . . . and a lot of waste.  I can’t bear to chuck it all into the recycling bin, even if it is going to be recycled and reused.  I’d much rather repurpose it for our immediate enjoyment!

This project is easy as pie.  First, let your toddler paint every square inch of the cardboard box.  Then have him paint the foam flowers (or paper/cardboard flower cutouts).  Finally, glue the flowers around your garden base.

Spring Chicks

You can use anything lying around your house to make the chicks:  cotton balls, old t-shirts, socks, paper.  We used pre-made colored pom-poms and stick on googly-eyes that we had in the back of our craft closet.  Just stick or glue on eyes and noses to your little chicks and you’re done!  We made a few freestanding chicks and some that we stuffed into empty egg shells we decided not to use for growing grass.

The Finished Garden

Once your spring grass has sprouted, you’ve made your garden base and your chicks are finished, just assemble the inhabitants of your garden any which way you want.  You can either leave the eggs and chicks free standing for your toddler to play with or glue them down to the base.  As an extra detail, we used another cardboard box we had painted to create a colorful background for the garden and decided to add some pastel paper Easter grass for an extra pop of springtime color.  (Learn how to make homemade paper Easter grass here).

Our garden is a little crazy and haphazard, but you can make yours as wild or as elegant as your springtime mood desires!

Happy Spring!

First Shot at the Cake Pop

29 Mar

Move over cupcakes, here come the cake pops!

I tasted my first moist bite of this confectionery craze at my dear friend C’s bachelorette party last year.  Another friend of ours had commissioned naughty cake pops from Tracy’s Tiny Treats and “boy” were they tasty.  Since then I’ve been dying to bake a batch myself.

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The best (and prettiest) tutorials I’ve seen are Bakerella’s here (basic instructions) and here (Easter-themed pops).

Alisa Burke has a great tutorial here on Easter cake pops, too.  Other delicious variations of this tasty treat are chocolate covered cake pops and Oreo pops from The Sweets Bar.  And check out The Pioneer Woman’s technique for making her cake balls here.

Inspired, I baked these lovely springtime-themed pops last weekend:

They were definitely yummy, and with some luck, I’ll have the technique down pat before mug cakes and jar cupcakes make cake pops seem so yesterday!

Here’s how I made these fun treats and some helpful hints for your first shot at the cake pop:

Ingredients/Materials

Tip:  Choose the shorter lollipop sticks (or cut yours in half), otherwise you’ll have a tiny ball sitting at the end of a long stick, which doesn’t really work aesthetically or in terms of balancing the pops in whatever display container you choose.  Also, if you want your sprinkles or candy decorations to really “pop,” choose white candy melts for a bright, clean background.

Step 1 Bake the cake as directed on the box or per your recipe.

  • Tip: Choose any flavor and any mix.  I tried lemon cake with buttercream frosting for something zingy and fresh for spring.

Step 2 After the cake has cooled, crumble it up and place it in a large mixing bowl.

  • Tip:  If a fork or spoon isn’t cutting it, you can use your clean hands.

Step 3 Mix in almost one can of frosting (or about 1.5 cups of your homemade recipe).  Try my favorite buttercream frosting recipe if you want something really sweet!

  • Tip:  Make sure the cake crumbles are thoroughly coated with the frosting so the mixture is nice and moist.  You don’t want the cake balls you make in Step 4 to come apart because they’re too dry and don’t hold together.

Step 4 Shape the cake/frosting mixture into balls.  If you want to be precise, see here for a guide to measuring out the perfectly sized cake ball.  Set the balls on a baking sheet covered with a sheet of wax or parchment paper.

  • Tip:   The smaller the ball, the easier it is to work with, but the bigger the ball, the more decorating space you’ll have – especially if you use food markers to draw on faces or other details.

Step 4 Melt a little bit of the candy melts in the microwave or a double boiler.  Grab your lollipop sticks and dip one end of the sticks into the melted candy; then insert the dipped tips just under halfway into the cake balls and return the cake balls to the baking sheet.

  • Tip:  Make sure the tip of the lollipop stick is well-dipped so your ball doesn’t fall off the stick when it’s time to decorate.

Step 5 Refrigerate the cake balls until they’re nice and chilled (45 minutes – 1 hour).  If you just can’t wait, throw them in the freezer for 15 minutes.

  • Tip:   Chilled cake balls are easier to work with and don’t fall apart as easily.  A cooler ball will also help the melted candy dry faster.

Step 6 Dip the chilled cake pops in the melted candy.  Use a rolling motion with your wrist to twist the cake ball into the candy melts instead of dragging it through.

  • Tip:   Don’t dip too forcefully or your pop will fall apart or fall into the candy melts.  Also, if you can, use a double boiler instead of a microwave to get the candy melts as liquid-y as possible and keep the melted candy at an even temperature during the dipping process.  This will help the cake pop glide more easily through the melted candy and will ensure that the candy coating is nice and smooth instead of thick and heavy (which is tasty, but not pretty).

Step 7 Sprinkle the sanding sugar over the not-yet-dried cake pops or press on any other decorative candies of your choosing.  You can also paint your dry pops with corn syrup in patterns wherever you want the sugar or candy to stick or decorate them with food markers.

  • Tip:  Don’t roll the cake pops directly into the sanding sugar or you’ll get an opaque coating instead of a light, sprinkly effect.

Step 8 Set the cake pops to dry in a glass or vase or stick them into a styrofoam block.

  • Tip:  Keep in mind that if you let the pops dry on the baking sheet, they’ll suffer from a little “bed-head” and flatten on one side!

Happy baking!

Don’t Be Ranunculus

28 Mar

Hubby typically covers the kids for 1.5 hours on Sunday afternoons after he gets back from the office so I can have some “free time” on the weekend.

“Free time” at our house loosely translates to “grocery shopping or running to the drugstore alone without the kids slowing you down.”  If you’re speedy enough with the errands, then you get any remaining time to yourself.

What did I choose to do this Sunday?  Well, I had egg shell Easter grass projects on the brain after watching Nina and Star make this eggshell planter on the Sprout Goodnight Show and after seeing this, this and this project last week.  So I set out to buy grass seeds and potting soil for the eggshells that I had meticulously emptied and cleaned while the kids were napping.

When I arrived at the hardware store, though, I was momentarily derailed from my original plan by these beautiful ranunculus plants (aka Persian buttercups) waiting for a good home:

I snatched up a few as quickly as I could, grabbed the potting soil and grass seeds and flew out the door so I could hit two grocery stores and a neighborhood restaurant for our take-out dinner before heading home.  (Yes, I managed to do all this in 1.5 hours exactly).

To my very pleasant surprise when I arrived home at 6 p.m., there was a brief break in the clouds that have been hanging around all week and our porch was lit with springtime evening sun!  So instead of making the eggshell Easter grass, Jane and I whipped out our trowels and set to work before the sun went down.

Sorry, Easter grass . . . next time.

(Note the Crocs in the photos:  I suppose they do have their place).

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