A Valentine’s Day Twist on a Classic Cookie

My husband and kids LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Peanut Butter Kiss cookies. I make them for birthdays, Christmas and other special occasions to show my family that I love them. And these cookies truly are an act of love because I hate peanut butter! So, I don’t even get to engage in my favorite cookie baking activity – licking the batter. What’s the point of baking cookies if you don’t get to lick the spoon, right? But that’s OK. It’s their favorite cookie and it’s an easy way to make them lip-smacking happy.

For Valentine’s Day this year though, I tried to shake it up a little. I wanted the cookies to fit in with the theme of the Holiday. So I made them pink and used Dove chocolate hearts instead of Hershey kisses.

I love baking these cookies with the kids because they can help out at almost any age. When they are little they can unwrap the chocolates and roll the dough balls in sugar. As they get a little older than can roll the balls themselves. Finally, now that my kids are tweens and teens, they know how to make them all by themselves and don’t need my help at all. How awesome is that!

Here’s the recipe:

Valentine’s Day Pink Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

1/2 c. butter (or we use Smart Balance spread and it works fine)
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
Pink food coloring paste
Dove Chocolate Hearts (milk or dark)

1. In a large bowl, cream together the shortening, peanut butter and sugars. Add the egg and vanilla.

2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the creamed butter mixture. Add pink food coloring paste. I start with about a 1/4 tsp. of the paste and keep adding until I get the color I want.

3. Shape dough into balls the size of a quarter or walnut. (My husband likes a less cookie, more chocolate ratio so we make our cookies small.)

4. Roll balls in sugar.

5. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. While they are cooking, unwrap the chocolate hearts.

6. Top each cookie with one chocolate heart, pressing firmly into the center of the cookie. The cookies will crack and that is fine.

7. Bake for 2 to 5 minutes longer to soften the chocolate.

Makes about 36 cookies.

For more easy Valentine’s Day Treats that you and the kids can make for Dad, check out:

Cooking with the Kids: Valentine’s Day Chocolate Mousse

Valentine’s Day Heart Shaped Brownies

Chocolate Strawberry Pound Cake Hearts

Tags: Cooking with the Kids · Valentine's Day Family Fun Ideas

10 Fun Ways to Celebrate Groundhog Day with the Kids

Groundhog Day is coming soon and with the extreme cold and snow we’ve been having so far this year, I’m sure you’re on the edge of your seat waiting to hear if we have 6 more weeks of winter. Well, even if you’re not, it’s still fun to watch Punxatawney Phil and dream about Spring. To help celebrate the Groundhog’s big day and have some fun with your family or the kids in your classroom, I’ve rounded-up 10 easy, cute craft ideas, recipes, and activities.

Cook Up Some Fun

    1. While you watch Punxatawney Phil on TV Groundhog Day morning, thrill the kids with these fun and easy Groundhog and His Shadow Pancakes. My kids and I made them and had a blast.

    2. Check out these incredibly creative Groundhog Day inspired recipes from the Gourmet Mom on the Go blog. I love the Groundhog sticking up out of the hot chocolate!

    3. Here’s a Groundhog Day fruit snack idea to treat the kids after school from Jill at the Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons blog.

    4. These Groundhog Pudding Cups look so cute and tasty from the Simple Girl blog.

    5. If you really want to go all out, these Groundhog Day Cupcake Push-Pops are so cool!

Pure Fun

    6. Since the day is all about seeing a shadow, why not play shadow puppets? Set up a white sheet a few feet away from a wall. Place a lamp behind the sheet near the wall. Have your kids take turns going behind the sheet and casting shadow puppets. Here’s a post I found on making a Shadow Puppet Theater that looks easy enough.

    7. Here’s an idea for a Felt Groundhog Day Finger Puppet from Skip to My Lou.

    8. For toddlers, you’ll love this template for cutting out and coloring a Groundhog and his shadow.

    9. The official Punxatawney Phil website has plenty of Groundhog Day Activities to do with the kids. I’m all over the Groundhog ornaments to print out and hang from a chandelier or indoor tree but the Word Searches and coloring pages are cute, too.

    10. Finally, if your kids are a little older, watch the Groundhog Day movie. We saw it again last weekend and my kids think it is hilarious. “Don’t drive angry!”

Do you do anything fun with your kids at home or in your classroom for Groundhog Day?

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Fun Valentine’s Day Decorations to Make with the Kids

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15 Fun Little Ways to Tell Your Family You Love Them on Valentine’s Day

Tags: Cooking with the Kids · Family Fun Ideas · Holiday Celebrations

Fun Ideas for a Kid-Friendly New Years Eve Party

New Year's Eve party

Looking to ring in 2014 with some fun for your family? Personally, I prefer to go to bed early and sleep in on New Year’s Day to recover from the Holiday season. My kids however, like the idea of celebrating the arrival of the new year. So, we will PARTY. Since I’m usually running on empty by New Years Eve, I’ve put together some fun but easy ideas for staying home and celebrating in your family room with the kids.


    Keep it low-key.
    You don’t need to go crazy cleaning the house, buying party favors, and cooking to have a fun New Year’s celebration. Keep the party ideas simple. Even if you just end up watching the countdown shows on TV with the kids, they’ll appreciate it.

    Make it a party.
    Definitely invite neighbors, family and friends with kids about the same age over to help celebrate. This keeps everyone off of the road, you can all watch the kids together, everyone can ooh and aah over your Christmas decorations one more time, and it saves on babysitter money. To keep it casual and easy, have everyone bring a dish to share. Start the party later so you don’t need to cook dinner, just have snacks and desserts. Invite the kids to come over in their pajamas so it’s casual, and parents won’t have to change their kids’ clothes if they fall asleep before going home. If that still seems daunting, remember, even if you only invite over one other family, it’s still a party and a chance to have some fun!

    Time is all relative.
    Even if you have small children, you can still ring in the new year together. Here’s a trick. If you have small children who might not make it to midnight, change the clocks in the house so that “midnight” hits around 9 or 10 p.m. The kids will feel like they got to stay up and celebrate and you will still be able to put them to bed at a decent time. Or have the kids at the party bring sleeping bags so they can go to sleep while the parents stay up and keep the party going.

    Pop in the Fun
    Kids love to make noise and New Year’s Eve is all about loud noise. Grab some inexpensive noise makers at your local Dollar Store or buy a roll of large bubble wrap. Give each kid a piece and let them “Pop it Up” at midnight while the adults pop open the champagne. Skip any confetti or streamers unless you want to spend the next day cleaning.

    Balloon Drop
    Another fun idea is to blow up balloons and “drop” them at midnight. Rig up a net in a corner of the basement or drop them over the balcony stairs. Kids will have fun popping the balloons and chasing them around.

    Re-Decorate Your Christmas Tree
    I loved this idea from a Mom who wrote in to Family Fun Magazine a few years ago. She had her children help her take the ornaments off the Christmas tree so that they could make a “New Year’s Tree.” They took all of the Christmas ornaments off of the tree but left the lights on. They then added curled ribbon, party horns, balloons — basically everything needed for a New Year’s Eve party for the children. What a fun and festive idea and you get a second use out of your Christmas tree! If you are planning on having people over to help celebrate New Year’s Eve, this is a perfect idea on how to decorate.

Hourly Activities
Since New Years Eve is all about time and counting down, why not create a new activity for the kids each hour? That way they stay amused, stay awake, and look forward to the next hour. The Red & Blonde Tangles blog had a wonderful idea for creating an activity bag for each hour. She printed a clock face and wrote the time on it, glued it to a brown paper bag, and when that time came around, the kids got to open the bag and either do the craft activity or eat the treat inside. Genius!


It’s easier to plan a party if you have a theme. Here are 3 easy themes and activities to keep the family occupied and laughing while you wait for midnight.

    Game Night
    Get out those new board games you got for Christmas or Hanukkah, find your old favorites in the closet or fire up the Wii for a little family competition. Definitely grab prizes like big boxes of movie theater candy, large chocolate bars, or my favorite, win coupons to get out of household chores. Click here for more ideas on planning a Family Game Night.

    Pajama Pizza Party

    Why not have fun cooking together and sharing some laughs in the kitchen by making homemade pizza? If you have a great pizza recipe and a pizza stone, you are good to go. If not, here’s my family’s killer homemade pizza recipe. To make the evening more unique, have everyone wear their pajamas all night. Invite another family over and make it a kids/adult slumber party. Or set up a tent in the living room and the kids can watch the ball drop from inside the tent in their sleeping bags. Here are some more ideas on how to host a fun Pizza Party.

    Fancy Schmancy New Years Eve Party

    Half the fun of New Year’s Eve is getting dressed up. Who loves dress up more than kids? It’s also fun to dance, so why not combine these two into a Fancy Schmancy New Year’s Eve Party? Kids love watching their parents get dressed up for New Year’s Eve Parties, so let them share in the spotlight this year by dressing up in their fancy duds or their kooky dress-up clothes.

    You don’t have to go to a club to hear the latest bands and dance on New Years. Pick a theme and host a kid’s prom at home. Turn the New Year’s countdowns on the TV and let the kids dance along to the featured bands. Or set up an area in the house as a dance floor and spin the tunes. Create a playlist of the top dance hits of the past year and groove those holiday feeding-frenzy calories away. Get your video camera out because the video of your kids dressed up and dancing will be worth it!

Whatever you decide to do, have a safe and wonderful New Years Eve with your family. We look forward to sharing more simple, creative and memorable Family Fun ideas with you in 2014, so we can all have more Chocolate Cake Moments.

For more Family or Kid-Friendly party ideas check out my New Years Eve Party board on Pinterest.

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Tags: Kids Parties

Happy Halloween!

Since Halloween and Dia de los Muertos are two of my favorite Holidays, I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Halloween! Have fun with your families this weekend. (Psst! This was our costume at a Halloween party last weekend. I’ll put up a post next week on how easy it was to put this couples costume together.)

Want to learn more about Dia de los Muertos? It’s not scary and the sentiment behind the Holiday is something I think every family should celebrate. Here are some great books that explain the Dia de los Muertos Holiday to your kids. Then, here’s what you need to know to start a tradition of celebrating Dia de los Muertos with your family.

Tags: Kids Halloween Party

Cute Homemade Kids Halloween Costume – Gingerbread Cookie

Two years ago, my daughter and I decided to make her Halloween costume since she didn’t like any of the costumes we saw in the stores. She’s very creative and she wanted to be something really unique. We saw an idea in Family Fun magazine for a Gingerbread Cookie and of course we felt the need to add our own flair to make it funnier and cuter than the one in the magazine. (You didn’t know crafting was a competitive sport, did you?)

We liked the idea of the cookie on the baking sheet but she didn’t want just her face sticking out. She wanted her whole body to be the cookie so that if she took off the cookie sheet part of the costume, she would still have a full cookie costume on. Even though I’m not that talented with a needle, we went for it.

Cookie Costume:

We started by shopping for a brown outfit. We had to hit two different stores but we found a plain, long-sleeve brown shirt and brown sweatpants. We happened to have a brown knit hat and gloves at home which worked perfectly into our plans.

I couldn’t find anything three dimensional that would be easy to attach to the costume to serve as gum drop buttons so I chose large candy colored buttons instead. I purchased some wide rick rack ribbon to look like icing. I’m not great at sewing. I can sew on buttons and baste stitch but that is about it. So I sewed the rick rack ribbon on to each pants leg and shirt sleeve to look like icing. I sewed three large colorful buttons down the middle of the shirt to look like gum drop buttons. Voila, that was done!

Cookie Sheet:

I took a large cardboard box and flattened it out so that I had a large rectangle shape to work with. I used packing tape to tape the two long sides together so it would stay flat. Then I just started wrapping the box with aluminum foil and scotch tape until every part of the box was covered. I left about half an inch of aluminum foil over the side of the box so that I could wrap it around to cover the sides of the box so no cardboard was showing. Now for the slightly more difficult part. We needed to add straps so that she could slide her arms in to hold the cookie sheet on her back. We used twine as our arm straps. My husband measured out the length of the twine based on how much was needed for her to get her arms through but not leave too much gap so that the cookie sheet hung down too low on her back. Once we had the length, he measured where to drill two holes so that the cookie sheet stayed high enough over her head. We drilled the holes instead of using scissors or cutting a slit because we wanted a clean hole that wouldn’t wrinkle or tear the aluminum foil too much. We threaded the twine through the hole and tied a big knot in the back so it couldn’t pull through.

For the final touch, I took pink lipstick and made a round rosy mark on each cheek, for extra cuteness. When we walked around to trick or treat, I dressed up like Suzie Homemaker with my rolling pin to match her outfit.

Not only was it a cute, unique and easy costume to make, my daughter and I had fun creating it together. If that’s not a Chocolate Cake Moment (or a warm gingerbread cookie moment) I don’t know what is.

Are you making a costume this year? What is it?

Tags: Halloween Family Fun Ideas