Tag Archives: easy to make

Crayon Hearts

10 Feb

In some ways, I’m very much like my parents.  Often, my mom and I will say the exact same thing at the same time.  For the most part it is alright, but when we’re in public it is rather embarrassing.  One person yelling, “Hey, nice hit!” sounds encouraging while two people shouting it in accidental unison sounds weird.  The similarity between dad and me is less obvious unless you happen to stumble upon it; when we think something is unnecessary, we would rather avoid it altogether than go along with the flow.  You only have to be with my dad when a waitress asks to see his ID to know that he’d rather die of thirst than show his driver’s license to prove that he’s over 21.  For me, it is the birthday party goody bags.  I can’t seem to get on board with the bags of treats and treasures that apparently everybody gives at the end of a birthday party.  I realize that admitting this pretty much makes me the parent scrooge – to you, and definitely to my children.  Each year, we go through a series of long-winded speeches to state our respective positions that would rival anything you hear on C-SPAN.  In the end, we usually land on a compromise that includes one item that we make, and a handful of candy.  After all, nothing says “thanks for coming to my party” like a bag full of sugar to take to your very own home.

Over the years we’ve made a few great items for the goody bag – mixed CD, customized temporary tattoos, and my very favorite – crayon hearts.  They were super easy to make and would be perfect for a goody bag or for Valentines.  Plus, it has the added bonus of using up all the crayons that no one wants to use once they have left their pristine, first-time-use state.

For this project, you’ll need the following:
– Silicone tray with heart shapes (any shape will do, but shapes with few pointy parts seem to work best)
– Crayon bits
– An oven, pre-heated to 200 degrees F
– Some children you can talk into doing the project with you

STEP 1:  Collect broken bits of crayons and peel off the wrappers.

STEP TWO: Break them into small pieces and place them into the tray.  We found that the best results were those that had some similar colors in the tray with one or two contrasting colors.

STEP THREE: Place the silicone tray on a baking sheet and put in the oven until they are good and melty.  We like the way they look when some of the crayon shapes are still visible on one side, smooth on the silicone side.

After they have completely cooled, pop them out of the tray.  Craft over.  Goody bag war over for one more year.

Crockpot Spaghetti

2 Sep

In the winter, my crockpot is a permanent fixture on my kitchen countertop.  Until last week, I hadn’t really used it much to make anything during the summertime, which is a crying shame considering how easy it was and that the summer is pretty much over.  Facing a night where we may or may not have guests, I wouldn’t have much time to prepare dinner after work, and it was piping hot in the kitchen – I decided to give crockpot spaghetti a try.  It was both delicious and simple to prepare; I’ll definitely make it again. 

There is so much about this dish that is good:
1. It is super easy to make and takes very little prep time.
2. Most of the ingredients are pantry items, so it is very easy to have everything on hand.
3. It is very healthy and low in calories, which is great for those times when you’re craving a hearty pasta but could do without the hefty calorie load.
4. It makes a big batch which means this is good for a crowd, or a meal with leftovers for later in the week, or to build up extra meals for your freezer.
5. MY KIDS ATE IT WITH GUSTO.  For every meal until it was gone.

Crockpot Spaghetti
Serves: 10

1/2 lb. ground beef
28 oz. can diced tomatoes
5 c. tomato juice, divided
2 T. dried minced onion
2 t. Italian seasoning
1 t. garlic salt
13.25 oz box whole grain spaghetti

In a pan over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef.  Drain fat, and add to crockpot.  Add diced tomatoes, 2 c. tomato juice, dried onion, Italian seasoning, and garlic salt.  Cook on low heat for 6-8 hours.

One hour before serving, heat remaining 3 c. of tomato juice in microwave for 5 minutes (cover unless you want to risk a fully spattered microwave), then add to crockpot.  Break spaghetti in half and add to crockpot, stirring until everything is well combined.  Turn crockpot to high, and cook for one hour.  Stir and serve.

Estimated Calories:  224 cal/serving

Print it: Crockpot Spaghetti

Antipasto Salad

1 Jul

There are a few things I look for in a good side dish recipe:
1. Can be made ahead of time
2. Will be enjoyed by people who have varying tastes
3. I like it
4. It’s not baked beans

This Antipasto Salad recipe fits the bill and more.  It is tasty, flavorful, feeds a large crowd, holds up for more than one day.  Making it is as easy as opening up a few jars, doing some chopping, and mixing together. 

Antipasto Salad
Serves: 12
Serving Size:  Scoop
16 oz. jar mild pepperoncini, drained
12 oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
8 oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained and cut into thin strips
6 oz. can pitted black olives, drained
12 oz. non-dairy mozzarella, cubed
1/4 lb. sliced pepperoni, cut into strips
1/3 c. non-dairy Greek dressing

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl until everything is well mixed and coated in dressing.  Place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to two days before serving.


  • You can substitute dairy cheese for the non-dairy kind used in this recipe.
  • When using non-dairy cheese, make it a day ahead so that the cheese has time to take on some of the other flavors.  Trust me, it is better that way.
  • Be careful when buying pepperoncini – there are both mild and spicy varieties.
  • If you find that you’re serving up a larger than expected crowd, add chopped romaine right before serving to increase the yield.

Estimated Calories:  255 cal/serving

Print it: Antipasto Salad