Blueberry Coconut Milk Scones

lizzie homemaker recipe for lactose intolerant friendly blueberry coconut milk scones
These easy blueberry coconut milk scones are delicious and can be prepped ahead of time.

These delicious scones are kid-approved.  I recently made them as an after-school snack and one of my kids said she would trade her LOL doll for another batch.  I need to take her up on that…

My eldest daughter is lactose-intolerant.  Initially we avoided all dairy but we’ve recently found that there are a couple of dairy foods that she can handle.  Butter is one of them.  I’ve tried making scones without butter but the alternatives have never been as good.  This recipe swaps out the traditional milk or cream (which are no-gos for her) with coconut milk.  They are absolutely delicious and it means my lactose-intolerant kid can happily devour these goodies with her sisters.

Coconut Milk Blueberry Scones

Scones are best eaten on the day they are baked. To make-ahead, prep the dough in advance and shape it into a disk, then pop it in the fridge overnight and bake the day of.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4 sugar, plus more for spinkling
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 6 tbsp (3/4 stick) of cold butter, diced
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • grated zest of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup dried blueberries

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor, combine flours, sugar and baking powder.
  3. Add butter and pulse until butter forms pea-sized pieces.
  4. Add coconut milk and lemon zest.  Process until just moistened.
  5. Mix in dried blueberries and roll out into an 8 inch disc. Sprinkle with sugar, if desired.
  6. Cut into 8 wedges, keeping the disc intact.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.  Allow to cool.

 

If you don’t have a food processor simply cut the butter into the dry ingredients using a pastry blender, or forks and/or knives.

This recipe was adapted from Ricardo magazine (Winter 2018).  I replaced some of the all-purpose flour for whole-wheat, reduced the sugar slightly, swapped out the lime zest for lemon, and added some dried blueberries.  It turned out beautifully.

 

The Best Dog Biscuits We’ve Ever Made

Lizzie Homemaker Barefoot Contessa Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits
If you love puppy dogs as much as my littles ones then consider baking these treats for your furry friends and neighbours.  One taste and they’ll be rolling over, playing fetch, and begging for more.

My young ones are OBSESSED with dogs.  I love dogs, too, but am not planning on adopting one anytime soon.  Truthfully – it would push me over the edge.

Every Christmas the kids ask for dog.  And in the summer when they blow on dandelion flowers and make a wish – they always wish that they could have a dog.  Somedays I think I should buck up and make their dreams come true, but in the mean time, I try to support their relationships with our four-legged friends in every way I can.  We’ve spent countless hours at the local make-shift dog park hanging out with local pups.  We always stop to say hello, shake a paw, give a pat, even when it makes us late.  And every Christmas our holiday baking includes gingerbread and dog biscuits.

This year we tried Ina Garten’s (aka Barefoot Contessa’s) Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits.  This recipe is a winner, the best we’ve made to date – and it was really easy to make.

Barefoot Contessa's Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits

This adapted recipe comes from Ina Garten's <em>Make It Ahead</em> cookbook. She uses stone-ground whole wheat flour, quick cooking oats, and wheat germ. We used regular whole-wheat flour, large flake oats, and omitted the wheat germ because that's what we had on hand. The biscuits still turned out beautifully and they smelled so good that my kids wanted to eat them.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered milk
  • 1/2 cup large flake oats, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1/2 cup natural smooth peanut butter
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp water, for egg wash

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine all ingredients except water and egg.
  3. With mixer on low speed add the water and the egg and mix until it forms a slightly sticky ball.
  4. Dump dough on well-floured board, knead into ball, and roll out 1/2 inch thick.  (We were inconsistent with the thickness and the biscuits turned out just fine.)
  5. Dip cookie cutters into flour and cut out shapes.  Collect scraps, roll out again, and cut out more biscuits.
  6. Place biscuits on baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then brush with egg wash and sprinkle with oats.
  7. Bake for 1 hour.

This recipe is adapted from Ina Garten’s Make It Ahead cookbook.  The biscuits can be made up to a week in advance.  Store in airtight container.

 

 

Cedarwood Scented Playdough

We love scenting our playdough.  In fact, these days we never make it unscented.  Heads would roll.

Although we often add spices and kitchen ingredients to create various scents lately we have found ourselves using essential oils more often than not.  There is such a broad range to choose from and it’s so dang easy to simply add a couple of drops of oil to the dough and elevate this sensory activity.

The scent of cedarwood is warm and woodsy – perfect for cozy days inside during the holidays.  It is said to improve focus, relieve tension and headaches, and help with breathing when you have a cough or cold.  My little ones basically have colds and coughs consistently from November to March so that last benefit really appeals to me.

Lizzie Homemaker cedarwood scented playdough with Christmas tree inspired loose parts
Cedarwood scented playdough with Christmas tree inspired loose parts.

Cedarwood Scented Playdough

This Christmas I've been making a cedarwood scented playdough with Christmas tree inspired loose parts. I wasn't sure how the kids would react to the smell but wanted to try something a little different. The warm and woodsy scent immediately makes you feel relaxed and cozy, so, needless to say, they loved it.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil, such as canola oil
  • dark green food colouring
  • cedarwood essential oil

Directions

  1. Mix all the ingredients, except for the essential oil, in a heavy-bottomed pot or saucepan.
  2. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly for about 3-5 minutes.  The dough will start to pull away from the sides of the pan and should no longer be sticky to the touch.  (If it’s still sticky cook a little longer until it’s not.)
  3. Remove the dough from the pot and allow to cool slightly.  Add several drops of cedarwood essential oil and knead dough until it’s uniform and the oil is fully incorporated.

Store dough in an air-tight container.

Not sure what to do with your bottle of cedarwood essential oil?

Here are some uses that I’ve read about and am interested in exploring:

To treat eczema:  Many people add a few drops of cedarwood oil to coconut oil and apply it topically.  They say it is an effective home remedy in treating eczema.  One of my daughters has eczema and I’m always looking for alternative, more natural solutions for treating her skin.

As a bug repellant – including moths:  I can’t stand mothballs and refuse to use them.  For many years I have put cedar in our closets but the smell fades and it becomes ineffective as a moth deterrent.  Adding cedarwood essential oil to cotton balls sounds like a great alternative mothballs – one that I am going to try this winter.

To reduce arthritis:  I recently sold some playdough at a craft show and was amazed that many of the purchases made were for adults, including a woman who said her elderly mother loves using playdough to combat her arthritis.  Inhaling cedarwood oil and using it on your skin is said to reduce inflammation and reduce joint stiffness.  Based on this, the combo of cedarwood oil and playdough is probably worth trying by those with arthritic hands and fingers.

To treat ADHD:  Many people site a study by Terry S. Friedman where he effectivity used cedarwood oil and vetiver oil in the treatment of children diagnosed as having ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder).  It’s promising but this case study was so small that I think this treatment should only be considered effective for some on a case by case basis.  I have several friends with children on the Autism Spectrum, with ADHD, or with SPD (sensory processing disorder).  Playdough can be an effective therapy tool.  I’d love to better understand how adding scents to playdough can benefit those kids in my life.

The information above is NOT intended as medical advice.  I am simply sharing information that I’ve read.  You should always seek advice from a qualified health care professional before proceeding with treatment of any health issue.

Kefir Chia Pudding

Lizzie Homemaker kefir chia pudding blueberries kiwiberry easy healthy breakfast teacup
Kefir chia pudding garnished with blueberries and homemade kiwiberry jam.

This easy breakfast is a nutritional powerhouse.  It’s also a great weekday make-ahead option which can be portioned out over a couple days.

Kefir is a fermented milk that’s kind of like an unsweetened yogurt drink.  It’s thinner that yogurt and thicker than milk.  It’s made with milk, bacterial cultures, kefir grains and kefir yeast.  It contains more probiotics that yogurt and has a broader range of nutrients.  It’s great for your digestive health and your immune system.

Chia seeds are full of essential fatty-acids, fibre, omegas, anti-oxidants, protein, and vitamins and minerals including calcium and iron, which support good heart, brain and bone health.  They stabilize blood sugar and fight belly fat and inflammation.

If you like yogurt you should give this recipe a try.  I love it and so do the kids!

Kefir Chia Pudding

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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This recipe can be made advance and eaten over a couple of days.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of kefir
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup (or to taste – you can add more if you like it sweeter)

optional:

  • toppings of your choice such as fresh fruit, chia jam, dried fruit, granola, nuts, seeds, cacao nibs, coconut flakes

Directions

  1. Whisk together kefir and chia seeds.
  2. Allow to stand for 15 minutes, add salt, vanilla and maple syrup and whisk again.
  3. Refrigerate for an hour or more so the chia seeds plump up.  I often prepare it the night before.
  4. Serve with toppings of your choice.

 

The pudding can end up a little too thick or thin if you don’t measure properly.  To correct this simply add a little more kefir to thin it out or a scant amount of chia seeds to thicken.

Pumpkin Pie Playdough

Lizzie Homemaker easy homemade pumpkin pie playdough made with pumpkin pie spice
We’ve been celebrating the season with this festive pumpkin pie playdough.

The kids went nuts when they saw this little playdough pumpkin pie.  I set it out for them when they got home from school.  They immediately dove into the activity using their social skills and math skills to negotiate how to divide up the pie.  They cut, counted and distributed the pieces then they smooshed it up to create new things.  Playdough is a great toy – and even when it’s presented as something specific (like a pie in this case) – it still ends up in open-ended play.

Pumpkin Pie Playdough Recipe

The warm scent of pumpkin pie spice is so cozy and relaxing. Perfect for chilly fall days.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tbsp of pumpkin spice
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • add orange food colouring for pumpkin pie filling, leave it out for the crust colour

Directions

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pot or saucepan.
  2. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly for about 3-5 minutes.  The dough will start to pull away from the sides of the pan and should no longer be sticky to the touch.  (If it’s still sticky cook a little longer until it’s not.)
  3. Remove the dough from the pot.  Allow to cool slightly and knead.
  4. Form into a pie or play with as is.

Store dough in an air-tight container.

 

Best Homemade Playdough Recipe

I make playdough all the time.  And I strongly prefer cooked playdough.  It has a nice texture and keeps well so it can be enjoyed for months.

My kids love it and I love knowing that it supports their learning and development.

Playdough is an open-ended toy that promotes creative and imaginative play as well as a child’s social and emotional development.   It helps improve hand-eye coordination and strengthens those fine motor skills used in hand-writing.

It’s more than just a fun activity that keeps them busy (but I like that about it, too).

lizzie homemaker hydrangea inspired playdough
This hydrangea inspired playdough was a big hit with the littles. To create a relaxing floral scent I added a couple drops of geranium rose essential oil to the dough.

Best Homemade Playdough Recipe

Making playdough is easier than you think and the possibilities are endless. Switch up the colours and add scents to match the seasons or complement current interests.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • food colouring

Directions

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pot or saucepan.
  2. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly for about 3-5 minutes.  The dough will start to pull away from the sides of the pan and should no longer be sticky to the touch.  (If it’s still sticky cook a little longer until it’s not.)
  3. Remove the dough from the pot.  Allow to cool slightly and knead.

Store dough in an air-tight container.

I like icing gel colours.  They are vivid and come in a greater variety of colours than liquid food colouring.

Essential oils and glitter can be kneaded into the dough at the end to add scent and sparkle.

A Simple Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

A bowl of butternut squash soup
This butternut squash soup is delicious, easy to make and incredibly healthy.

I love soups.  They can be made ahead, doubled and frozen.  They work well for lunches and dinners and can be paired with a variety of breads and salads to fill out a meal.  More than that, soups are pure comfort food and incredibly good for you!  This recipe is simple to make and it remains one of my kids’ favourites.

Simple Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

This recipe is packed with vegetables and full of flavour.

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash
  • olive oil
  • rosemary, sage or thyme (1 tsp dried or a couple sprigs of fresh, stems removed)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 2 stalks of celery, sliced
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock (for vegetarian option)
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Cut squash in half, remove seeds, place on baking sheet.  Drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with rosemary or thyme and bake in the oven for 45 minutes.  Allow to cool, then peel and chop.
  3. Add a little olive oil to a dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot, add onion, carrot and celery, cook for 5-10 minutes over medium-low heat.
  4. Add diced butternut squash and stock, bring to a boil then lower heat, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Allow to cool slightly then transfer to a blender and puree.  Blend in Greek yogurt for a little tang and creaminess if you wish.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

This recipe can easily be made vegetarian, vegan or dairy-free.  For vegetarian and vegan options use vegetable stock.  For vegan and dairy-free options omit the yogurt.

 

Raising Mason Bees

Lizzie Homemaker mason bee cocoons
The kids examine our mason bee cocoons before we put them out to hatch.

Our family is keeping mason bees this year and we’re all very excited.

We decided to raise mason bees for a few reasons.

First off, it’s easy.  Unlike the social honey bee, mason bees are solitary bees so they don’t live in a hive that you’d have to manage – they require almost no effort.

Secondly, it’s a great hands-on educational project for the kids.  In case you’re wondering, I’m not worried about the kids getting stung.  Mason bees are extremely gentle creatures – they have no colony or queen to protect and male bees don’t even have stingers.

Lastly, pollinators are on the decline and we need to help them flourish so that we can flourish!  Since our visit last fall to the Museum of Science in Buffalo, NY, my daughter has regularly reminded me that nature doesn’t need us, we need nature: this is our little way of giving nature a helping hand.

Keeping mason bees is simple.   It requires three things:  a home for the bees, a garden for the bees, and, of course, bees.

#1 – A Home for the Bees

You can buy mason bee homes online or you can make one.  Place the house at eye level on a south or south-east facing wall that will receive morning sunlight and not blazing afternoon heat. Make sure the house is at eye level so you can watch the action unfold!

# 2 – A Garden for the Bees

Mason bees need a garden with spring flowering plants because they are only active for about 6 weeks in the spring.  They’ll need a steady supply of nectar and pollen during this time and some mud and/or exposed dirt for their nests.  By June they’re done foraging and the larvae are sealed off to become cocoons for next spring. Pesticide use is strongly discouraged since its primary purpose is to kill insects.

# 3 – Mason Bees

If you keep a garden you may already have mason bees but if you don’t, or if you want to watch these amazing insects from the cocoon stage onwards, you can simply purchase them online.  Google where to buy mason bees.

I ordered cocoons and they came in the mail.  I’ve been storing them the fridge, patiently waiting for the good spring weather to come – and now it’s time to put them out to hatch!

Place the bees outside in or near their house when temperatures are consistently above 10 degrees Celsius/50 Fahrenheit.  You should have spring flowers blooming in the garden.  You can stagger the release of the bees and put them out in a couple batches but be sure to put out a mix of males and females.  You can identify gender by the size of cocoons as the males are smaller than the females.

Watch the video above to learn more and enjoy!  It’s really that easy.

Rainy Day Things-To-Do

Lizzie Homemaker kids finger painting with chocolate pudding on a rainy day
Finger painting with chocolate pudding is something the kids adore doing and it requires little effort.  I keep a stash of pudding cups in the pantry specifically for this rainy day activity.

This spring embrace rainy days at home by creating a fun things-to-do list for the kids.

Last week it was pouring rain and my kids couldn’t have been any happier.  We’ve found the best rainy days are slow ones where we enjoy spending time together with options but no specific plans.  We go with the flow and it’s lovely.

Our strategy is to create a list of fun activities.  We brainstorm ideas on the chalkboard in our dining room and leave the list up during those rainy weeks in the early spring, checking off activities as we go.  You could just as easily write a list on a piece of paper and post it anywhere in your house, allowing the littles to enjoy a self-guided tour through the day. They may ask for help to set up activities but will spend long stretches playing freely.

25 Things To Do on a Rainy Day:

  1. Finger painting with chocolate pudding
  2. Take a bubble bath
  3. Bake something
  4. Have a tea party or indoor picnic
  5. Play dress up
  6. Take a family portrait
  7. Paint/draw portraits of each other
  8. Go outside and splash in puddles
  9. Dig for worms
  10. Build a fort
  11. Make playdough
  12. Build a bee house
  13. Snuggle up and read books together
  14. Write a letter to someone
  15. Make popcorn
  16. Watch a movie
  17. Ice and water play
  18. Look at family photos
  19. Play freeze dance
  20. Have an indoor scavenger hunt
  21. Play hide-and-seek
  22. Make paper airplanes
  23. Make jewelry
  24. Build an obstacle course
  25. Make a fruit salad

Having options but no plans is the best way to spend a rainy day at home with kids.

Spinach, Tomato and Feta Frittata

Lizzie Homemaker Spinach Tomato Feta Breakfast Frittata
I often make this frittata on the weekend. It’s so healthy and easy to put together.

This is my go-to frittata.  It’s easy, packed with healthy veg and protein, and I love that I can clean up my prep mess and set the table in the time in takes for the frittata to bake.

Spinach, Tomato and Feta Frittata

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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This frittata can also be enjoyed as a light lunch or dinner when paired with a salad.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tbsps of olive oil or a generous spoonful of garlic confit
  • 142g/5oz baby spinach (or go spinach heavy like I usually do and use 312g/11oz)
  • a handful of chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, basil or dill and/or a couple sliced green onions
  • 1 cup cherry/grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, cubed
  • 8 eggs, whisked
  • fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • pinch of chili flakes (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Heat olive oil or garlic confit over medium heat in cast iron or non-stick pan.
  3. Add handfuls of spinach and toss as it wilts.  Continue adding and tossing spinach until the entire package has been added.
  4. Add herbs and/or green onions and toss.
  5. Pour eggs over spinach then top with the tomatoes, feta, fresh cracked pepper and chili flakes (if using), making sure to distribute evenly.
  6. Transfer frittata to oven and bake for 20 minutes.

 

To release the frittata run a spatula or knife around the edge of the pan.  You can cut it into wedges in the pan and serve it family style (with one less dish to clean).  Or transfer the frittata to a plate or cutting board and cut it into wedges for a nicer presentation.

I love eating this frittata with chipotle hot sauce or a hot pepper relish.