Cooking & Recipes

Find ways to save by cooking at home and easy, affordble recipes below or browse all recipes listed on In Good Cents.

This sponsored post was written by me on behalf of Post. Regardless of compensation, all opinions are 100% my own.

Since I was a little girl, string popcorn and cranberries to decorate the tree was a holiday tradition. Now my little ones like to add their own special touches by suggesting new ingredients to make our garland special. This year we’re writing holiday words, messages, and phrases using Alpha-Bits cereal.

Alpha-Bits (1 of 1)Encouraging My Kids to Play with Their Food!

This is one of my favorite holiday traditions. We always make hot chocolate, along with our bowls of popcorn, and put in a holiday movie. Then, we start stringing and showing off our creations to each other.  And, of course, while we create, we eat! We snack on popcorn and cereal! It’s such a frugal activity that is great for families and fun for everyone.

Holiday Garland

Ingredients

  •  Alpha-Bits Cereal
  • Popped Popcorn (Plain, No Butter)
  • Cranberries (Fresh)
  • Embroidery Floss (Strong, but Not Too Thick)
  • Needles (Fat with Rounded Ends)
  • Scissors

Alpha-Bits (1 of 1)-2

Directions

Making Holiday Tree Strings is all about creativity. There’s no right or wrong way to do it. Simply cut a long piece of string and thread your needle. To help kids, you can tie the thread onto the needle, but keep your knot small. Tie the end of your thread, then begin stringing on your ingredients. Once you’re done, remove your needle, tie the other end, and place it on your tree like garland.

What Are We Learning

  • Spelling or ABC’s. Use the Alpha-Bits to spell Christmas words, message, and phrases on your string like “Merry Christmas”, “Jesus”, “Santa Claus”, and “Gifts”. For younger kids, you can simply create your ABC’s. Kids will have fun reading it and showing off their work throughout the season.
  • Patterns. Create patterns with your ingredients. You can create patterns based on letters, colors, or the ingredients themselves.
  • Counting. When creating patterns, count ingredients to make strings that include items likes 5 popcorns, 1 cranberry, 1 word, 1 cranberry, and 5 popcorns.
  • Sorting. Sort ingredients by color, letter, or even broken ingredients that won’t string well.
  • Coordination. Stringing ingredients takes a bit of hand-eye coordination, especially for little ones.
  • Teamwork. This activity is great for families. Working together to build your strings, makes it much more fun!
  • Safety. It’s important to show kids the right way to handle a needle, even if it’s rounded and less likely to hurt them, along with scissor safety.

Tips & Ideas

  • Long needles work best. For younger kids, you can use a larger, rounded-end needle so it won’t hurt if they poke themselves.
  • When threading popcorn, stick the needle through the fat puffed part of the popcorn. It won’t easily go through the kernel pieces.
  • Add other ingredients. Just make sure they won’t spoil on your tree throughout the season. Things you can include are:
    • Classic pretzels (just put the string through one of the openings, don’t try to stick the needle through them or they’ll crumble.)
    • Marshmallows
    • Gum Drops or Jelly Beans
    • Post Honeycomb Cereal, Mini-Cinnamon Churros, or Waffle Crisp
    • Food Coloring (toss popcorn or cereal in food coloring to add color)

Sponsored by Post via the Mom It Forward Blogger Network and written by In Good Cents. For more information, please read our terms & conditions and disclosure policy.

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This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of McCormick & Company. All opinions are 100% mine.

Lasagna Formaggio

My 6-year-old daughter has never wavered from her plan to be a baker when she grows up, so she spends a lot of time in the kitchen with me. She was so excited about the recipe from McCormick for their delicious Lasagna Formaggio, because it was a simple recipe she could make with just a little help from me. In fact, here she is to show you how to make it yourself! Scroll down for the full recipe and directions, plus a great giveaway from McCormick!

Lasagna Formaggio Recipe

Lasagna Formaggio Recipe available at McCormick.com.

Lasagna Formaggio Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp McCormick Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp McCormick Perfect Pinch Italian Seasoning
  • 1 tsp McCormick Parsley Flakes
  • 1 tsp McCormick Ground Black Pepper
  • 3 3/4 Cups Ricotta Cheese (30 oz.)
  • 2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese (8 oz.)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 3 1/4 Cup Marinara or Pasta Sauce (26 oz.)
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 9 Uncooked Lasagna Noodles
  • 1/4 Cup Graded Parmesan Cheese

Directions

To create you McCormick Lasagna Formaggio, first preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Next, in a separate bowl pour all of your Ricotta cheese, about 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella, both eggs, and all of your seasonings (garlic powder, Italian Seasoning, parsley, salt, and pepper). Your a spoon to mix until well blended. Because the mixture is soft, you won’t need to use a mixer – a simple spoon will work great.

In a separate bowl, pour out all of your pasta or marinara sauce. Add the water to your, now empty, pasta jar and replace the lid. Shake slightly to release any extra sauce, then pour into the bowl. Mix until well blended to slightly water down your sauce.

Grab a 13×9-inch baking dish and pour about 1 cup of sauce into the bottom. Spread evenly to cover the bottom of the dish and add 3 lasanga noodles on top.

The best part, in my opinion, is the Ricotta cheese mixture. You’ll want to spread about 1/2 of your cheese mixture on top of the noodles. Next add another cup of sauce, 3 more noddles, and then the remaining cheese mixture. Top with the remaining noodles and sauce, then cover with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

Cover your baking dish with foil and, once your oven is preheated, bake for approximately 45 minutes. Finally, remove your foil from the baking dish and cook an additional 15 minutes, so the noodles will become more tender.

Let cool for about 15 minutes before cutting. This will help your lasagna stay together a bit better. Serve and add additional sauce or cheese to top, if you’d like.

Win It

Prize

One (1) lucky In Good Cents reader will win a FREE McCormick Gift Set valued at $20.

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Buy an Amazon Kindle for as low as $79 or read Kindle books free with a free Kindle reading app:

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Buy an Amazon Kindle for as low as $79 or read Kindle books free with a free Kindle reading app:

Amazon offers many books for less, including one deeply-discounted book for Amazon Kindle each day.

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