Monthly Archives: March 2015

Preschool Life: For the Birds

A flock of seagulls appeared on the preschool playground earlier this week.

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Like real seagulls, the children discovered a pile of fabric – that had been purposely placed on the tables for the children to find – swooped in and began  pulling out what they needed.

The kids played with the fabric for a while simply running around holding the fabric or draping it over play structures.  After a few minutes they began asking to have the fabric tied to form capes, so we brought out clothes pins and rubber bands.  The fabric was clipped on to the children’s jackets and we also offered to attach the fabric to their wrists, using rubber bands.

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As the children were running around my co-teacher made the comment that the children looked like a flock of birds.  My co-teacher and I began talking about what type of birds they might be and where they might live.  We did not include the children in this short conversation, but it was held in ear shot of some of the children. Soon the play turned from super heroes to birds.  Many of the birds still had super powers, but they began making bird sounds and our more nurturing children began talking about building a nest and laying eggs.

While we want the children to play freely we also want to encourage higher level play and sometimes they need a little nudge to go in that direction.  A pile of fabric placed on a table and a conversation between adults is much likelier to direct play than if we had said to the kids “we have been talking about birds at circle and now we want you to go play like birds.”

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How do you encourage your child’s play without directing it?

Stout Cupcakes

Kids often get special cupcakes on their birthdays, so why can’t adults. These cupcakes are always a big hit and a perfect treat for the birthday girl or boy who has been celebrating birthdays for a couple of decades. These are also the perfect sweet treat for St. Patrick’s Day, but please don’t wait until next St. Patrick’s day before you give them a try.

Car Bomb cupcakes

There are a couple of steps involved, but each step is quick and easy.

Stout Cupcakes3/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa plus more for dusting at the end
2 cups sugar
2 cups AP Flour
1 tsp Baking soda
Pinch of fine salt
1 bottle of Guinness (room temperature)
1 stick melted butter (cooled slightly)
1 tbs Pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 cups sour creamPreheat oven to 350. Line 24 cupcake tins with liners
Mix together dry ingredients in one bowl. In another mixing bowl combine stout, melted butter, and vanilla. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix in sour cream until combined and smooth. Gradually add in the dry.Evenly divide among lined cups, filling each about three-quarters full. Bake for 15-20 or until cake tester comes out clean.
Bailey’s Irish Cream Frosting
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup shortening
4 C. powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueurIn mixing bowl cream butter and shortening until smooth. Slowly add powder sugar, scraping down the sides as needed. Beat for 3-4 until frosting is light and fluffy. Add Bailey’s, mix for another 3-4 minutes making a light and creamy frosting.
Whiskey Ganache8 oz. dark chocolate (chips or finely chopped)
2/3 cup milk
2 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature
2 Tbsp. WhiskeyPlace chocolate in small bowl. In small saucepan heat milk over medium high heat, bring to a simmer. Pour milk over chocolate, let sit for 1-2 minutes then stir until smooth. Add butter and whiskey, stir until smooth and combined. Let ganache cool and thicken.

Car Bomb Cupcakes
Cupcake assembly: Once cooled remove center of cupcake using the bottom of a large pastry tip. Fill with ganache. Once all cupcakes are filled top with Bailey’s Irish Cream Frosting.

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St. Patrick’s day is here, time for soda bread, corned beef, cabbage and car bombs (I’ll share these amazing cupcakes tomorrow, I promise!)

Soda Bread is a quick bread that is super easy to make.  Traditionally  it has four basic ingredients – flour, baking soda, buttermilk and salt – with the baking soda serving as a leavener.   The reaction between the baking soda and buttermilk produces carbon dioxide bubbles causing the dough to rise.

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The result is a dense, moist and hearty bread – perfect for soaking up a smooth potato soup or the juice from corned beef and cabbage.

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Many recipes you find today are made with sugar, butter or eggs, and flavored with currants or caraway.  These help enhance the flavor and texture of the bread – and this is what my family prefers.

Whichever way you like your Soda Bread grab your kids head into the kitchen and make this yummy bread, it is great any time of year!

Irish Soda Bread4 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, cold cut into 1″ cubes
1 egg
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

In large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.
Cut butter into flour, mix until combined and looks like coarse sand.
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In large measuring cup stir buttermilk and egg together then add to flour mixture. Mix until just combined, do not over mix or bread will be tough.
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Dump mixture onto parchment lined baking sheet, shape into round loaf. Lightly cut an X into top of loaf – this will help to release moisture as it bakes.

Bake 40-45 minutes or until cake taster comes out clean, bread will sound hallow when lightly tapped.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! May the luck of the Irish be with ya!