Monthly Archives: May 2014

Dying Easter Eggs


Easter is a great opportunity to invite guests to share in an important part of our lives. This year we invited guests over for an Easter picnic, conversation, and some egg decorating.

Prepare eggs and dye, and provide oil pastels for drawing on the eggs beforehand. After guests draw on the eggs, they can dip them into the dyes for 3-5 minutes until they are the color desired. We gave our guests several pictures of eggs we’d dyed in the past to serve as inspiration for anyone struggling with creativity.

Tip: the eggs should be a few days old. Older eggs will be easier to peel later. According to What’s Cooking America: “Start with hard-cooked (boiled) eggs and refrigerate until ready to use. Eggs that are too fresh are difficult to peel. The fresher the eggs, the harder it will be to peel them because the white membrane is just not mature enough. Hard boiling farm fresh eggs will invariably lead to eggs that are difficult to peel. Eggs need to be at least three (3) days old to peel well.”

Another tip: Last year I ran all over town trying to find white eggs because I was worried that tan or light brown ones might not dye well. In the end, I used some white ones and some tan—both worked great, so if white eggs are hard to come by where you are, too, don’t worry—that’s no problem.

Some friends gave us an egg-dying kit, which was so nice. If you don’t have a kit, however, here’s how to make egg dye by yourself according to We’ve followed these instructions before with great results:

Ingredients (for each dye color)

10 drops food coloring

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1/2 cup boiling water


  1. For each dye bath combine 1/2 cup boiling water with 1 tsp vinegar and 10 drops of food coloring in a bowl. Start with 5 drops red and 5 drops yellow, for orange for example, or 6 drops blue and 4 drops green for turquoise.
  2. Dip hard-cooked eggs in dye bath for 3-5 minutes, extend time for richer color. Try using tongs to dip only half an egg in one color, then dip other half in a different color.
  3. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to remove eggs and place on wax paper to dry, blot any excess with a paper towel.

And finally, here are just a few basic words and sentences that may be helpful in directing and discussing the activities from this post (Paste any of the characters into to see them converted to pinyin):

  • Easter egg dying party 复活节彩蛋制作派对
  • Easter- 复活节
  • Easter egg- 复活节彩蛋
  • to dye-染色
  • dye-染料
  • First use crayons to draw on the egg.-首先用蜡笔在蛋上画画.
  • Dip the egg into the dye and leave it there for 3 minute.- 把蛋浸到染料中留三分钟。


Oven-Baked French Fries



4 small-medium potatoes, cut into ½” spears

2 Tablespoons oil

1 ½ teaspoons salt (or to taste)

Directions and Notes:

1. In a large frying pan, heat the oil over high heat.

2. Gently stir fry the potato spears for 8-10 minutes until they are just beginning to develop a slightly golden and hardened outer coating.

3. Using a slotted spatula, transfer the potatoes to a baking sheet and sprinkle about 1 ½ teaspoons of salt over top of them.

4. Bake them at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes. Toss them with a spatula and bake for another 10 minutes or until desired crispiness and brownness are reached.

Note: Stir frying the fries first shortens the baking time and helps to develop a crispy outer layer, even on the surface of the fry that will be against the baking sheet. In the past, I’ve also skipped this step and just baked them significantly longer, but we find that they taste best when we include this step.

Apple Cake


This is my mom’s recipe for apple cake. I made this this week for students and local friends, and it may have been one of their favorites ever. They raved, got second helpings, and then took home the leftovers to share with their friends. Here’s the recipe just as she wrote it, except that I reduced the sugar from 1 ½ cups to ¾ cups so it was a less rich taste for our friends here. It was still plenty sweet enough in our opinion! Thanks for a great recipe, Mom!


6 cups apples, peeled and chopped

2 eggs

3/4  cup sugar

½ cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

Directions and Notes:

1. Mix together the eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla.

2. Add the apples and stir until apples are coated.

3. Sift together the dry ingredients. Then stir the dry ingredients in with the apple mixture. The mixture will be very thick and chunky, less like a typical cake batter and more like apples coated in a little bit of thick batter.

4. Grease and flour a 9×13 pan and pour the apple mixture in. Press it down a little to make it somewhat even across the top.

5. Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes.


Apple Butter {Crock Pot}



10 apples

A scant 2 Tablespoons cinnamon (or to taste)

Directions and Notes:

1. Cut clean apples into large chunks and place in a slow cooker. I opted not to peel mine and it turned out great.

2. Add 1 cup of water.

3. Cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours until the apples have softened.

4. Remove the cover and use a potato masher (or any other masher) to mash the apples partially, just to break them up a little more.

5. Keeping the heat on high, cook uncovered for 6-10 hours (depending on the strength of your slow cooker) or until the liquid has evaporated and the remaining mashed apple has started to almost caramelize a little bit. Be careful not to let it burn once the liquid is gone.

6. Combine the apple mixture and cinnamon in a food processor and process until smooth.

Because the apples reduced so much through the cooking process, the apple butter was plenty sweet enough without any added sugar.

Southwest Spiced Party Nuts



3 ½ cups nuts (I use a combination of cashews, almonds, and mostly peanuts)

3 Tablespoons honey

1 Tablespoon oil

1 ½ Tablespoons chili powder

1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground red pepper

½ teaspoon salt

5 Tablespoons white sugar

Directions and Notes:

1. If you are using raw nuts, first bake them for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

2. In a small bowl, combine the honey and oil. Microwave for 30 seconds to one minute until warm.

3. Pour the liquid over the nuts and toss until all of the nuts have a shiny coating.

4. In another small bowl, combine all of the spices (not the white sugar). Sprinkle the spice mix over the nuts, stirring until evenly distributed.

5. Pour the nuts onto a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees, using a spatula to stir the nuts half-way through this baking time.

6. Remove the nuts from the oven. Allow them to cool slightly for just 2-3 minutes, then sprinkle the white sugar over top while the nuts are still warm and stir to evenly combine.


Continue to stir every 2-3 minutes until the nuts are totally cool. This will prevent them from sticking together.

Store in an airtight container.

France-Themed Date


In April, we had a France-themed date. We had a really great time… here are some of our ideas for creating your very own evening in Paris from your living room!


  • Learn some French phrases to use during your date– or make a printout to put on the table and use during dinner.
  • Play some French cafe accordion music. Here’s a link I used that was great!
  • Dress up as French art critics, French artists, etc. Just get creative and use stuff you can find around the house.

  • Set up a simple dinner of french bread (or any bread), cheeses, fruit, etc. I also whipped up a French Onion Soup.

  • Eat dinner at a small “Parisian Cafe” on the roof of your building or anywhere else you like.

  • If your date is an overnight event, have crepes for breakfast. More ideas about crepes and printables for a crepe bar over at the Dating Divas website.

  • Watch a movie about France or one that takes place in France. A few ideas: Les Mis, Midnight in Paris, French Kiss, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
  • During your rooftop dinner adventure, whip out some paper and oil pastels or paints and create caricatures of each other.






Rice Cooker Oatmeal



1 cup rolled oats (not instant or quick-cooking)

2 1/3 cups water

Optional Mix-ins: milk, shredded coconut, nuts, peanut butter, honey, raisins, etc.

Directions and Notes:

In a rice cooker, combine the oats and water. Add raisins if using them at this point; save any other mix-ins for later. Turn the rice cooker to “cook.” (Our rice cooker only has 2 settings—“cook” and “warm”…) Let it cook until the rice cooker flips back to “warm.” Top with any desired mix-ins.

This is one of our favorite breakfasts.