Tag Archives: homemade

Toddler Cards For Any Occasion

Cupcake’s birthday is in January, so last year she got to enjoy all of her first holidays in order. This means that I got to do all of the fun handprint/footprint crafts for with her.

Footprint Valentines day heart? check. Footprint Father’s day craft? check. Handprint turkey for Thanksgiving? check. Handprint AND footprint clay ornaments for Christmas? check.

Now that she’s no longer an infant, I just don’t find it as cute. Let’s face it – the gift recipients know who really made those things. ME. Don’t get me wrong, there are some really cute ideas on Pinterest. But most of them are just work for mom.

Cupcake is 17 months old – old enough to want to do things on her own, but not old enough to really understand that we are making a gift for someone else. So even if I wanted to, it’d be pretty challenging to get her to give me a handprint or a footprint this year. So strong willed, & she’s not even 2! Say a prayer for me.

For Father’s day I searched for ideas of something she could make her daddy that was minimal work for me while being a little more thoughtful than just her scribbling on a piece of paper. I didn’t really come across any ideas I liked, but inspiration came from Cupcake herself. She likes to color & paint all by herself (heavily supervised, of course!) & her absolute favorite thing in the world right now is stickers. That gave me an idea.

It sounded too simple, but what if Cupcake really could make a card for daddy by herself with minimal guidance from me?

Toddler Cards for Any Occasion Made By Toddlers - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Sometimes, the K.I.S.S. principle really is the best. Keep it simple, silly!

Cupcake had a lot of fun painting this card for daddy.Toddler Cards for Any Occasion Made By Toddlers - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Once the paint was dry, we added stickers. I let her add as many hearts as she wanted before giving her the sticker letters, one at a time in order, to spell DADA. That’s really all of the involvement I had, minus making sure she didn’t get paint everywhere! Oh, and writing her name & the date on the back!

This craft is so easily adaptable for any occasion! Use different colored paper, paint, or markers depending on your target audience & time of year! It’s infinitely customizable. You can let your toddler add as much or as little embellishment as you wish. The only ‘must’ is sticker letters. As long as your toddler has the motor skills to put stickers on a paper, they can do this craft!

Toddler Cards for Any Occasion Made By Toddlers - Mrs. Dessert Monster

My hubby really loved receiving this card from our sweet daughter. She handed it to him herself! It might sound silly, but the fact that he can tell she really made it (as opposed to mommy) makes it more special!

Toddler Cards For Any Occasion

  • card stock – any color!
  • paint, crayons, and/or markers
  • sticker letters
  • optional: more stickers, glitter, paper scraps, or any other embellishment you can trust your toddler with, plus glue if necessary!
  1. Have your toddler paint or color on the piece of card stock. If you use paint, you will have to factor in drying time. (I used paint & had it be a 2-day project. Twice the fun!)
  2. Have your toddler stick on any other embellishments. I gave Cupcake heart stickers, since this was a Father’s Day card & she ‘hearts’ her daddy. Use holiday themed stickers to be extra festive!
  3. The last step is to give your toddler sticker letters one at a time & in order of whatever word(s) you are trying to get them to spell. I minimally guided Cupcake on putting the DADA stickers next to each other. I suspect that in another month or two, I wouldn’t even have to do that! Then, write your toddler’s name & the date on the back.
  4. Have your toddler give the card to loved ones & watch their heart melt!



Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

I experienced some firsts with this recipe: first time using the dough hook on my KitchenAid mixer, first time ever using yeast, & first time using my new pizza & pastry roller!


My friend Beth has pizza every Friday. I love her life! She almost always makes it from scratch, & after enjoying some of her awesome pizzas myself, I asked for the recipe.

She shared that it’s from one of her favorite cookbooks: Brown Eggs and Jam Jars.

This dough was really easy to make, even for a yeast novice like me. I halved the original – if I messed this up I didn’t want to waste like 5 cups of flour! – & used ‘regular’ flours instead of bread flour. The results were wonderful. The dough calls for honey, but it is not an overly sweet crust, so don’t omit it.


I had to Google how yeast is supposed to look when ‘foamy’ to make sure I was doing it right. I think I nailed it!

After the yeast is foamy, I added all other ingredients & kneaded for about 5 minutes. I had to add a splash of water at the end because not all of the flour had combined, so use your judgement until you get a nice ball of pizza dough.


 Before rising…



I let the dough rise for 45 minutes, per the original recipe. You want your dough ball to double in size. Then comes the most fun step – you punch down the dough!

The original recipe makes four 16″ pizzas, but I halved it so I split my dough ball in half & froze what I wasn’t using that day.


I don’t have a pizza stone, so I just baked my pizza on an old cookie sheet.

The pizza came out AWESOME!


Stay tuned for part 2, where I’ll tell ya what I put on it!

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

Adapted from Brown Eggs & Jam Jars

Makes two 16″ pizzas

  • 1/4 cup warm water (110-120 degrees F)
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cool water
  • 1/8 cup olive oil + more for oiling a large bowl
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. In a stand mixer bowl, combine yeast & warm water until the yeast dissolves. Let sit for about 5 minutes, until foamy.
  2. Add all other ingredients. Using dough hook, knead for 5 minutes, until dough is fully combines & smooth. Add more cool water 1 tsp at a time if necessary.
  3. Place dough in a large oiled bowl & cover with a towel. Allow dough to rise for 45 minutes, until dough doubles in size.
  4. Punch down the dough & divide in half. Roll out the portion(s) you want to use.
  5. Freeze an unused dough ball for up to 3 months. Let frozen dough thaw for 8-12 hours & let rise before rolling out & using.

Homemade Strawberry Jam

Strawberry Jam Mrs. Dessert Monster

I became obsessed with this strawberry jam when I realized how delicious it was with vanilla ice cream after making some for the Super Bowl. So I was super excited when my friend Beth was like, “Hey, strawberries are in season! Let’s make some jam together.”

We immediately started planning our jam party.


Canning involves a lot of prep, and Beth really did most of it. She cleaned her kitchen & sanitized the jars before I came over. I just showed up with strawberries & tequila (it was National Margarita Day).

The ingredients are pretty simple: strawberries (duh), sugar, pectin, & lemon juice. The strawberries need to be hulled & crushed, so we did it in two fun ways – the potato masher way & the Cuban way.

Strawberry Jam Mrs. Dessert Monster1426091686689[1]

Once we had enough (5 cups), we added the lemon juice & pectin & brought that to a boil.

Strawberry Jam Mrs. Dessert Monster 2

While the strawberry mush was boiling, Beth made some purée for our margaritas!

Once it boiled, Beth added all of the sugar at once & continued stirring.

Strawberry Jam Mrs. Dessert Monster

I am so grateful that she did all of the volatile hot stuff. It bubbled and exploded like a volcano!

Strawberry Jam Mrs. Dessert Monster

Beth shielding herself from the strawberry lava.

After 1 minute, the mixture is ready to be canned. You can skim the foamy stuff from the top, or if it’s not too much just leave it like we did.

Next is the fun part: we got to use all sorts of canning gadgets!

Strawberry Jam Mrs. Dessert Monster

Jar grabber!

Strawberry Jam Mrs. Dessert Monster

Jar funnel!

Strawberry Jam Mrs. Dessert Monster

Head space tool!

Strawberry Jam Mrs. Dessert Monster

Lid lifter – aka magic wand. Accio lid!

It was pretty entertaining. We sealed those bad boys & waited for the lids to go ‘pop!’ They are good for a year unopened – not that the jars I have will last that long!

Strawberry Jam

  • 5 cups crushed strawberries
  • 7 cups sugar
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 packet pectin
  • canning jars, lids, & tools
  1. Prep your jars for canning.
  2. Combine strawberries and lemon juice in a pot. Stir in pectin. Bring mixture to a rolling boil that can’t be stirred down. Stir constantly.
  3. Add all the sugar & stir. Return mixture to a rolling boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
  4. Ladle hot jam into jars leaving 1/4 inch head space. Wipe rim. Place lid on jar & tighten band.
  5. Leave jars on an even surface overnight. Jars are sealed when lid doesn’t move up & down when pressed.
  6. Enjoy!

In The New House Designs

We all scream for homemade ice cream!


A friend of the family sent us a gift certificate to Crate & Barrel all the way from Italy! It was such a nice gesture. My husband & I ordered the most practical thing we could think of: an ice cream maker! We anxiously awaited its arrival. In the mean time I had made some chocolate mousse (a recipe for another post this post!) & had some left over egg yolks. Thus the idea for custard-style ice cream was born. While we waited for the machine to arrive I looked up some recipes, but I ended up using the one from the Cuisinart recipe booklet with some minor changes. Instead of whole milk I used 2%, and I couldn’t find vanilla bean at the store, so I just omitted it. There are plenty of simpler ice cream recipes out there, but since this one has egg yolks it requires some cooking (for food safety reasons).

We invited our friends from church, Bobbin & Co. & her husband, over for burgers & the inaugural ice cream. Before they arrived, I gathered my ingredients: milk, heavy cream, sugar, salt, egg yolks, & vanilla extract. The milk, heavy cream, salt, & half of the sugar got whisked together in a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat. Once combined, I brought the milky mixture to a slight boil. While that was heating up, I beat the remaining sugar & egg yolks together on low until pale & thick.

wpid-photogrid_1420344971650.jpgThis recipe was a lot of fun for me because I also got to use my new favorite toy: the Kitchenaid mixer. I told my husband that I was looking forward to getting married long before he came in the picture because I knew the first thing on my registry would be a red Kitchenaid mixer. And it was!

Once the milky mix was boiling, I added 1/3 of it to the yolky mix & beat until combined. Then I added another 1/3 & used the stir setting on the mixer, before returning this new combination to the saucepan with with remaining 1/3 of the milky mix.


Stirring with a wooden spoon, I cooked the mixture on low heat until it thicken slightly. I had to confer with my husband on what exactly ‘coating the back of the wooden spoon’ was, and I think we did a good job deciding. The next step in the recipe said to strain the mixture. I almost skipped this step since I had omitted the vanilla bean earlier, but I’m glad I didn’t. The strainer got out all of the bits of egg yolk & what not, and I ended up with a nice & creamy ice cream in the end. At this point, I tasted the warm liquid & it reminded me a lot of the sweet cream flavor from Cold Stones, so I’ll definitely have to experiment with that in the future.

Finally, I added the vanilla extract. I was tempted to add more than the recipe called for (again, no vanilla bean this time around), but after adding the 1.5 tsp the recipe called for the mixture tasted wonderful to me. To bring the liquid down to room temperature before putting it in the fridge, I used my nesting bowls & put some ice water in the larger one. I can’t take credit for the idea, I saw it online recently somewhere. Genius, really. Then off to the fridge it went for 2 hours, which was just enough time to make some bacon cheeseburgers & enjoy them with our friends 🙂


Once we were done with dinner, I poured the mix into the ice cream maker. After a 20 minute spin cycle, the first ever batch of ice cream was ready, but it was too soft to serve right out of the machine. So I poured it into an airtight container and put it in the freezer. Cuisinart suggests putting it in for 2 hours, but we couldn’t wait that long. Once our burgers were sufficiently digested, about an hour later, we served up some ice cream. It was delicious! I think the taste can be compared to Blue Bell’s vanilla ice cream. There was no ice cream left at the end of the night! Batch #1 was a huge success.


Custard-Style Vanilla Ice Cream

Makes about 6 cups


2 cups milk

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup sugar, divided

1 pinch of salt

5 large egg yolks

1.5 tsp pure vanilla extract

  1. In a medium saucepan set over medium-low heat, whisk together milk, cream, half the sugar, and salt. Bring the mixture just to a boil.
  2. While the milk/cream mixture is heating, combine the yolks & remaining sugar in a mixer bowl. Beat on low until the mixture is pale and thick.
  3. Once the milk/cream mixture has come to a slight boil, beat about 1/3 of the hot mixture into the yolk/sugar mixture. Add another 1/3 of the mixture, stir, then return the combined mixture to the saucepan. Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture constantly over low heat until it thickens slightly & coats the back of the spoon. Do NOT boil the mixture – egg yolks will over cook.
  4. Strain the mixture. Add the vanilla extract & bring to room temperature. Cover & refrigerate for 2 hours.
  5. Turn on the ice cream maker, pour in the mixture, & let mix for about 20 minutes. The ice cream will be soft. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container & freeze for 2 hours.
  6. Enjoy!