Fun & Crafts for the Whole Family: Shrink Plastic Crafts!

Most of us Gen X kids remember shrinky dinks. They’re still around. You can buy craft kits at Dollar Tree, Five Below, local craft stores, or on Amazon.

Recently I found LOL Surprise shrink plastic kits at dollar tree and I picked a couple up.

We were also recently given shrinkable plastic by the sheet. And this is great because you can draw your own designs, cut them out, hole punch them, shrink them in the oven, and end up with all sorts of cool stuff.

If you’re not familiar with Shrink Plastic, it is super fun and simple craft with anyone who can color can do. However, it does require adult supervision at some point during the craft, cause you have to use the oven.

To do this craft you will need the following items:

Before…
After…

You are looking to make a specific design, you will need to print that image out onto a piece of white paper. And then you will trace it onto the shrinkable plastic using a pencil. Word of advice: most shrinkable plastic shrinks significantly if you start with an image that is the size of a silver dollar, it will come out about the size of a dime.

Also important to note, punch a hole if desired, in the plastic before you shrink it. Once it has shrunk and is hard, it is almost impossible to put a hole in it. Especially without damaging the plastic.

Once your design is traced/drawn onto the plastic, color it with permanent markers. I like these markers.

Once your design is colored, punch a hole in it as desired/needed. Then cut your image/design out of the sheet, trim up any sharp/pokey edges. Use a nail file if needed. You can also file the plastic after it has been baked/shrunk and cooled down.

Most shrinkable plastic sheets will come with the heating/baking directions for the plastic, but it’s usually less than 10 minutes. And you will need to keep an eye on it. That is the step where you do not want small children around.

In the past, I’ve made wine charms, this year I made all kinds of cool stuff, including zipper pulls for the kids’ backpacks, I made keychains, I drew our family’s SCA heraldry/devices. I also made some little charms for a charm bracelet for my daughter.

Next up I will be drawing food and making little toy food for my son’s Playmobil characters to eat. While some of his sets have come with food, he is missing things like french fries, hamburgers, pizza. All things that the Playmobil guys in his adventures want to eat.

Roasting Veggies: Simple and Tasty!

Over the past six months, I’ve been trying to get us to eat more veggies. But honestly, you can only eat so much mixed green salads and steamed broccoli. My prior attempts at oven roasted veggies were basically a hot pile of steamed veggies that lacked any of the qualities of oven roasted veggies I knew- none of them were sweet, with crispy edges, tender but not soggy. Thankfully with our CSA box coming straight to our door weekly, were getting tons of tasty new veg to try!

I did some reading in a few cookbooks, websites, and asked some of my friends who are chefs/professional cooks. The secret to perfect oven roasted veg? Space. Room. The veggies need space for the heat of the oven to circulate and heat them evenly.

Second tip: place the pans in the oven and allow them to pre-heat. Once the oven has pre-heated, pull your pan(s) out and place your veggies on the pans, then back in the oven.

Third tip: Half way through roasting, turn over/flip your veggies to ensure they are getting equal roasting time in that hot pan. I say pan, but I use a baking sheet lined in foil, like this one.

It’s all about high temp and short cooking time- 450 degrees! Your veggies will be done in less than 45 minutes and you’ll be feasting away! And anyone can make roasted veggies- as long as you have the following:

  • Cooking pans (like these)
  • Aluminum Foil (I like it because it makes clean up easy)
  • 1-2 lbs of your favorite vegetables, chopped up into evenly sized pieces (the secret to having them come out perfect)
  • 3 Tablespoons oil (I like canola, avocado, or grapeseed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon (or more, depending on how seasoned you like your veg) fresh cracked pepper

With the CSA boxes we’ve been receiving weekly, making roasted veggies is a snap. Here are cooking times for a few in season veggies. These times presuppose that you have cleaned/peeled as needed, and cut them into 1-inch pieces as needed. Cooking time is for 1 lb.

  • Beets: 20-25 minutes
  • Carrots: 20-25 minutes
  • Brussels Sprouts (Cut off the bottom, and cut in half): 15-20 minutes
  • Onions (I usually quarter and slice them): 15-20 minutes
  • Garlic (peel each clove- if they are large, cut in half) 15-20 minutes
  • Green Beans: 15-20 minutes
  • Potatoes/sweet potatoes: 20-30 minutes
  • Zucchini/summer squash: 15-20 minutes
  • Bell Peppers: 15-20 minutes
  • Asparagus: 10-15 minutes
Brussels Sprouts and Purple Onions

If you’ve got something that isn’t on this list that you want to roast, I suggest starting with 10 minutes at 450 degrees, then flip the veggies over and see how they are doing. If they are brown and caramelized on one side, give it another 10 minutes for the other side to cook, then test for doneness with a fork. If they need longer, give them another 5 minutes and test again.

Family Recipe: Chicken Divan

DSC02717.JPGChicken Divan is also known as chicken and broccoli casserole, but we just call it yummy at our house. You can bake it in the oven, make it on the stove top, or cook it in the crockpot.  I’ll give you all three cooking directions.

My family loves it!

The original recipe calls for rice or noodles, but I use Quinoa.

Chicken Divan

Ingredients:

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 4 cups of broccoli (Fresh or frozen, your choice)
  • 2 cups white sauce, or 1 can Progresso Recipe starters (I prefer the roasted garlic, but the mushroom is good too)
  • 3 cups cheese, divided (I like cheddar, but gruyere or swiss is good too)
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed or toasted (You can substitute in 1 cup uncooked white rice instead)
  • 2 cups chicken broth or water
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Crockpot

  1. Saute onions in butter on the stove until softened and clear.  About 5 minutes.
  2. Place all ingredients except 1/2 c cheese, all water, and quinoa in crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. add quinoa and water/broth, turn on crockpot to high for 1-2 hours, or until quinoa is cooked. Top with cheese and serve.

Stovetop:

  1. Saute onions in butter on the stove until softened and clear.  About 5 minutes.
  2. Add chicken and continue to cook until chicken is no longer pink.
  3. Add remaining ingredients except 1/2 c cheese, and cook  covered on medium/low for 15-25 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the quinoa. Top with cheese and serve.

Oven:

  1. Saute onions in butter on the stove until softened and clear.  About 5 minutes.
  2. Add chicken and continue to cook until chicken is no longer pink. Remove from heat.
  3. Mix in remaining ingredients except 1/2 c cheese, and pour into a greased casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the quinoa.  Top with cheese about 10 minutes before it’s ready, and continue to bake.

Serves 6-8.

Never made white sauce? Here is a pretty basic recipe.

You can also substitute in 4 cups Winter Blend (1/2 cauliflower, 1/2 Broccoli), or another veggie that you prefer.