Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Italian Wedding Soup


There is hardly a better match for tasty pork than that of a rich chicken broth, but to add in vegetables for a lovely color accent and then completely send it over the top with cheese filled tortellini? Traditional or not, this soup just oozes with love. The first time I served this soup to a crowd was for a small wedding ceremony and at the time I did some research on how it had gotten its name. As it turns out the origins come from the soup's perfect marriage of flavors, so while the soup may have been misrepresented in a traditional matrimonial sense, there certainly isn't a single misstep in this soup's flavor profile.

My version of Italian Wedding Soup is one of the best recipes I have for entertaining since it always turns out  tasting fabulous, makes an impressive display in the bowl with all those colorful veggies, but best of all, the entire thing can be made ahead and brought together at the last minute.  In fact, the picture above is from the night before entertaining an extended family group of almost twenty (oops I missed spinach in the picture since that is added the day of serving) and just as on other occasions almost everyone had seconds and I was asked to be sure the recipe makes it to the blog.  As written here the recipe should easily feed 25 or more, even with hearty portion, since we sent home leftovers with guests. 

The addition of tortellini is certainly less traditional but I think the filled pasta is a better compliment to the meatballs. I used to add a smaller pasta like a tubettini or a ditalini, but inevitably little pasta bits become insignificant in the soup, not enhancing the soup with appreciable texture, and upon reheating they absorb much of the tasty broth and turn to mush. Of course tortellini are not much different in that regard, but the broth and meatballs are just too fabulous for any second rate pasta offense, so prior to storing leftovers, I simply pick them out.

For a real treat, reheat the leftovers in a pan over the stove and break an egg gently into the simmering broth. Easily one of the best things to look forward to when making this soup is the potential for leftovers with a perfectly cooked egg side-by-side in a bowl with that rich lovely broth and those fabulous meatballs.

6-8 Servings
Ingredients List
25+ Servings

2 teaspoon
 olive oil
1 Tablespoons
1
 onion, chopped fine
2
2
 cloves garlic, minced
4
½ cup
 carrots, chopped
1 cup
½ cup
 red/yellow/orange bell pepper
1 cup
1 teaspoon
 basil (fresh or dried)
2-3 teaspoons
10 cups
 chicken broth
96+ ounces
1
 beef bouillon cube/broth
 14.5 ounce can petite diced tomatoes, drained of juices
2-3
2
1 lb
 extra-lean ground beef
3 lbs
½ lb
 Italian sausage (mild/hot/sweet according to your taste)
2 lbs
½ cup
 parsley leaves, minced fine
1 bunch (1 ½ cups)
1/8 cup
 cracker/bread crumbs
½ cup
1/8 cup
 milk
½ cup
1/8 cup
 Parmesan cheese (from the can)
½ cup
4 ounces
8–12 ounces
 1-2 cups
 spinach, rinsed and thinly sliced
½ - 1 bag

 salt and pepper  to taste


 Parmigiano-Reggiano  for serving

Broth: 

Saute the onion, garlic, carrots, and peppers in a large stock pot just until onions are transparent. Add the basil and chicken broth and simmer just until carrots are tender. Season to taste with bullion cubes, either beef, chicken, or a combination, for any perceived salt requirements. Add the tomatoes just prior to cooking the meatballs in the next step. 

Meatballs:

In a large bowl combine ground beef, sausage, parsley, cracker crumbs, milk and Parmesan cheese (the shaker can parmesan is dry and acts more like a bread crumb, but adds rich flavor and a lot of salt to the meat, so I find the meatballs rarely need salt.)  A KitchenAid mixer will do a good job of mixing the meat, but by far, hands are the best tools for the job.  The meatball mix should be well combined and uniform. 

The meatballs can be rolled perfectly round by hand, but when in a hurry, I simply scoop the meat with a small ice-cream scoop and plop it directly into the simmering broth to cook. If the affair is more fancy however, I still rely on the scoop for uniform size and roll each to give them a more dignified shape. 

Allow the meatballs to simmer in the broth about 10 minutes until they are cooked through. If serving the next day, stop here to cool and refrigerate. Remove any fat that may accumulate on the top of the soup prior to reheating.

Pasta:

Cook as directed on the package just a little less done that normal al dente. If using the next day, toss in butter or olive oil to keep them from sticking to one another and refrigerate. 

To Serve:

Bring the soup back to a simmer, just minutes before serving add in pasta and the spinach, salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately with Parmigiano-Reggiano to finish. 

Crème Brûlée


Based on the exorbitant prices I've seen in fine dining establishments I always assumed crème brûlée was only to be attempted by culinary artists, requiring both advanced pâtisserie skill and a myriad of expensive kitchen gadgets. Truth is, crème brûlée is easy. In fact, it is far less finicky than an average custard and requires only a set of oven safe ramekins and an instant-read thermometer (beyond the average kitchen staples) to reproduce this classic.

The concept is simple, half the cream is warmed to facilitate the infusion of the vanilla and to aid melting the sugar. Cold cream is added to cool it down so that when it is whisked into the egg yolks (yeah, there are 15 of those in this recipe) they do not curdle. The mixture is strained just to be sure no lumps exist and then it is poured it into ramekins and cooked in a water bath low and slow for the best possible creamy outcome. Once chilled they are sprinkled with sugar and hit with a blast of heat for that magnificent caramelized top, then back to the fridge to set until serving. No real skill is involved, just a bit of common sense and patience.  

This YouTube video shows how to use vanilla bean, illustrates how a wet towel provides a thermal break between the ramekins and the pan, and explains how to caramelize the sugar, but watch as this French chef has to work at removing the bubbles because he whips the egg yolks in order to dissolve the sugar. He heats the milk to infuse the vanilla bean flavor, but by adding the sugar at the same time, the sugar dissolves equally well into the milk without incorporating any additional air into the yolks. Which means my method produces no bubbles and no need to remove them, but I'm not French, what do I know? Make it his way, make it mine, let me know what you think. 

This recipe was adapted from eight servings requiring 12 egg yolks to twelve servings requiring 15, in order to match the same wonderful richness that the original version produced.  Where I have modified the recipe is in adding one cup of milk, not because I wanted to make the recipe lighter in calories, but because I felt the original eight cup recipe was just too fatty in mouth-feel. Adding the cup of milk extended this recipe an additional four servings and provided an overall balance to the 'not-too' sweet, magnificently creamy texture.

The only 'lesson learned' (experienced goof-ups) regarding this recipe come from not allowing the custard to cook to 175-degrees.  I suspect the deeper ramekins I use require a higher temperature than a more shallow dish because when pulled out at 170-degrees, they stay a bit soft in the middle (still absolutely delicious, just not perfection.) 

However, over an extravagant breakfast the next morning I realized that an overnight stay in the refrigerator does help the crème brûlée set up so that only an expert would be able to detect an under-cooked mishap 12 hours later (i.e. if you are worried about anything going wrong, make them the day ahead.) Crème brûlée can be made up to 2 days in advance, so it is ideal dessert for entertaining. Since this recipe makes twelve large servings, it will easily feed a crowd and if you are an extra-savvy planner, at least one will be left over for breakfast.

Crème Brûlée

1 quart heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
pinch of salt
2 vanilla beans, split in half
15 large egg yolks (preferably farm-raised)
1/3 cup turbinado sugar
  1. Heat oven to 300-degrees. Put 6-8 cups of water on to simmer (either in teapot or pan.)
  2. Heat half the heavy cream, the sugar, and the seeds scraped from the vanilla bean along with one half of the pod just to the boil. Remove from heat and allow to steep for 10-15 minutes. Remove vanilla pod. 
  3. Combine the remaining cream, milk, and salt with the heated cream in a medium bowl.
  4. Wisk the yolks just until smooth, add in cream mixture slowly, incorporating the liquid evenly and stirring until well combined. 
  5. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a pitcher for easy pouring into the ramekins. 
  6. Lay a pan-sized towel in the bottom of a large roasting pan or baking dish that will hold all the ramekins (may require two pans) and add ramekins. Pour the cream into each of the ramekins to an even fill-line.
  7. Remove one ramekin in order to facilitate pouring in the hot water. Fill half-way up the sides of the ramekins and replace the last ramekin. If moving the heavy pan of hot water to the oven is a concern, place the pan on the oven rack first and then add the water.
  8. Baking time varies greatly upon the shape of the ramekin, shallow taking a shorter time, deeper, like the one pictured here taking longer. Bake for 25-45 minutes, checking internal temperatures until they register 175-Fahrenheit.
  9. Carefully remove pan from oven and move ramekins to a cooling rack. To facilitate faster cooling, pour out hot water and replace with crushed ice, allow to cool to room temperature. Cover ramekins in the pan, ice and all with plastic wrap (no need to press into the top of the crème brûlée) and place in the refrigerator to cool completely, 5-6 hours.
  10. Remove from refrigerator,  uncover ramekins and evenly sprinkle with 1-1 1/2 teaspoon sugar (more if ramekins have larger surface area) and use torch to caramelize sugar. Place back into the refrigerator uncovered for up to 2 hours and serve. 

  11. A longer stay in the refrigerator after caramelization may jeopardize the desirable crack to the sugar, but they will hold a crunch overnight, maybe longer, but I've never had crème brûlée last longer than one night in the fridge. Enjoy!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Penguins


Penguins are an adorable elementary art theme. They appeal equally to boys and girls, provide eye-catching color contrast, and they have such a recognizable shape that they translate to any number of possible art projects. I thought this one up after the first grade teacher popped her head into my classroom to let me know that her students were in the midst of their penguin unit and she thought I might like to run with the idea. 

Just the night before I had been looking at penguin projects online but many of them required painting and I was not looking to jump into that mess (we had painted the week before.) However in taking another last minute look, my eye caught on a very simple cutout penguin alone on a single background; cute, but a bit too simple. I was looking to introduce a few more concepts when it occurred to me that penguins live in colonies. Let's make penguins with friends! 

"Ah-ha!" now our art could tell a story. And boy did that go over big! Every student had a story to tell, most couldn't stop talking about it and each of them beamed with pride when they would point out what was happening in their art work. Some of them really loved the cutting and some students did the minimum four penguins I set as a requirements. Either way, they were all a success up on the wall! 

Student examples.
My intent was to keep the penguins small so that the kids could make more of them in the allotted class time (this project took one 60 minute session.) So cutting the paper to a controlled size is the only real trick to the entire project
  • The blue paper background is 6"x 18"
  • The black penguin paper is 4" x 4 1/2"
  • The white belly paper is 4" x 3"
  • The orange beak and feet came from 1 1/2" x 9" strips
I talked the kids through the process by making a set of three big penguins at the front of the class. Right after putting the snow on the ground with a white crayon, we walked through how to cut two shapes at a time by holding the papers and cutting them together. I cut all three of mine that way and showed them the process a second time with the white, making three penguins in only a minute or two. 

Next I cut the three beaks as simple orange triangles. The first one I pointed up a bit and said "This one is looking at something awesome up in there in the sky." The second one I put on the opposite side penguin who was leaning a bit downward and placed his beak in the same droopy way, saying "This one is lonely, he's feeling left out of what the others are looking at." Then I posed the question to the kids and asked "What do you think this middle penguin should do? Is he more interested in what is in the sky, or is he worried about his friend's feelings?" The overwhelming reply was that he was concerned for his friend (I was so impressed with their compassion) so we applied the middle beak pointing toward the downtrodden penguin. Our story was complete, and in only a few minutes of instructions they were on board with penguin story telling.  

Cutting the orange paper small kept the feet little, and I told them just to cut two shapes together so the feet were the same size, showing them how to fold the paper in half to cut two at a time. Lastly I stressed that the eyes were to be dots only and had to go on last after all the other parts were glued on, and I showed them where they went on either side of the beak. They had to get the Sharpie from me directly to make the eyes, so I reminded them again then just to make dots. If students have enough time, they can use the scraps of black paper to cut wings and add to the bodies, but those are entirely optional, the penguins are equally cute without them.
Have the kids color snow in at the bottom of the paper with a white crayon.
Draw an oval shape on the paper before cutting.
Cut two penguins at a time, cutting through both papers at once.
Repeat with the white belly. Glue the bodies down.
Cut the beaks and feet from the orange.
Beaks should point in different directions to tell a story.
Feet should slide under the bodies.
Lastly, add the eyes.
Close up of student example, but note beaks pointing left and right are more interesting that directly up or down.

These are nearly fool proof. I did have a few boys add some goofy marker beyond the eyes, but it all went with their stories, so I couldn't really complain. They were proud of their projects, and that really was the point after all.

Create Your Ideal Chili: Spicy, Vegan, or for the Kids

Chili is a taste-and-season-as-you-cook kind of food (at least in my kitchen) and as a result, no two batches turn out exactly alike but they are always good. Since each region of the US has a different idea of what constitutes great chili and there are already enough recipes out there, I don't intend here to offer a full how-to; instead I will only provide a few tips for pleasing a crowd of diverse chili lovers and a few tricks for building those flavor options.

The problem in our house is that we have a few family members who don't care for meat, some who won't eat beans, and others who can't have anything spicy.  Sure it is easy enough to make a bland, ho-hum bowl of chili just to feed the group, but I want a cumin-rich, ancho-infused, make my eyes sweat bowl of chili, especially in the dead of winter, and on this one I'm not alone! I've overcome this spicy vs non-spicy battle for kitchen supremacy before, so I simply employed old tricks. 


This is my spicy version. I start by reconstituting a few dried Mexican chilies in a bottle of beer, brought to a simmer and then allowed to steep for 10-20 minutes. I almost always have ancho and guajillo peppers on hand, since I use them as often as I can work them into any broth because they give a depth of flavor that is unparalleled .

I strain the seeds out (and remove any stems) then use a hand blender to emulsify the remaining peppers and liquid. Next brown the ground beef (3-4 lb) adding onion and garlic, drain off the grease and add the pepper mixture as the base for all the rest of my ingredients including one big yellow onion cut fine, and 3-4 cloves of garlic. I toast and grind the cumin in a second pan, along with other dried ancho chili powder and add cayenne. This batch had a jalepeno and a habenero cooked in as well. I use a can of Rotel tomato and chili and stick blend a can of diced tomatoes (because I'm dealing with veggie-averting teenagers) and they add a nice sweetness to the chili with this method. I typically add salt in bullion form instead of a shaker because it enhances the overall flavor, one cube of chicken and a cube of beef are usually all that is needed. This meaty version has no beans and only the smallest bits of chopped peppers, but it has a full-bodied, full-on chili flavor.


This is the kid version chili. I'm a bit sneaky with this one since I want to provide them the fiber of beans and the vitamins from the tomatoes but I don't want to hear any complaints so I make them undetectable.  This version gets most of its flavor from a taco seasoning packet but I boost it up with my same cumin and ancho pepper mix from the spicier version, after all, it needs to actually taste like chili, those young taste-buds are simply in training.  The hamburger is browned (2-3 lbs), grease is drained, and spices added, about 2/3 of a taco seasoning mix, a couple cloves of garlic, the blended tomatoes, and a can of refried beans. Taste and season as needed.  Sometimes a teaspoon of sugar is also added. I leave out the onions in this one because the kids think they don't like them.
This option is completely vegan to please those who want more beans than meat or who simply eat vegetarian.  The idea here is the ability to create your own bowl of chili with the proportions of beans to meat that please your palate. So this vegan version starts out with onion and garlic similar to the rest, it shares that last 1/3 of the taco seasoning packet and I kick up the spice in this one a bit with more cumin and ancho, but also add in a jalapeno.  Black beans are my favorite and since the contrast is so nice I also add in white northern, but an additional can of kidney would be beautiful too (all rinsed before adding to the pot.) Corn would also be a great addition since my goal with the vegan version is to make it as enticing in color combinations as possible, so it also gets yellow and red peppers, and two cans Rotel tomatoes with chilies.   This version does not have the richness of the meat version but when they are mixed together, or my favorite, side-by-side in the bowl, there is a lovely contrast of textures and flavors from combining the two. 


No matter what version of chili is your favorite, at our house, these are the mandatory condiments for any great bowl of chili!  The front bowl here is one onion, a small red pepper, and one jalapeno, all finely chopped, then add a handful of cilantro finely minced and the juice of one lime and salt to taste.  This combo with the crushed corn chips is very satisfying from the vegan perspective, but add in that sour cream and it is a real home run!  I am not typically a cheese fan, but the kids love it, so it gets served too.  The fresh onion mixture however is a must as it just makes everything pop, I highly suggest it for your next chili experience.
It is true that this method requires three pots to make chili, but for feeding a crowd with a number of diverse dietary requirements, this method can't be beat. The ability to combine spicy with the not so spicy, or add beans or not, really satisfies just about everybody at our house and washing those extra pans is certainly worth not having to listen to any complaints (except perhaps that I've made them do the dishes!)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Dragons


A few years back I was reading the terrific Temeraire series by Naomi Novik which portrays an alternate version of world history where dragons play an important role in the military and all the fanciful details of how humans would live in unison with these magnificent creatures. Novik's writing is so illustrative that one can't help but be enamored by the beauty of these beasts and I was right in the middle of the series when I noticed that the prints my Kindergartners were making looked a lot like dragon scales. The very next class period I tested my inspiration with my second graders (on the fly) and I knew immediately this project was a keeper!

These dragons are a double win for our classroom because we have a large supply of thin plastic that I had not yet put to good use beyond table coverings. The plastic is similar to a very cheap shower curtain. It needs only be cut just a little bigger than the largest paper (18" x 24") so for a small investment, you can get a lot of printing surface. It needs to be see-through, but it does not need to be perfectly clear, plastic wrap will not work, but older kids might be able to use a heavy duty Zip-lock if it were cut open.  For little hands the plastic needs to be stiffer. Ours is a donation from a sign shop, you can check locally and see if you can find something similar.

These dragons are magnificent on the wall because of their giant size (which delights the kids) and they just burst with texture and personality. This project does take a bit of organization and good time management to get them made in two class periods. I hate to ever stretch a project to three periods in second grade but these are worth it if you've only got 45 minute class periods (we have 60), they really turn out terrific and the kids absolutely love them! This would be a fabulous home-school project too, as there is relatively no mess involved.
Note below the tips to watch for, with three years of experience doing these, I've learned where things can go wrong, (I'm recording the tips here for myself as much as to share them with you, so I remember year-to-year!) so be sure to read those over below. I teach at a small private school so my classes are generally small and easy to manage, but even with a larger class (like last year - 18) with an extra pair of hands to help, these can be accomplished with some forethought. 
All the paper should be cut ahead and set in stacks to hand out to the kids as they work, this provides more control and far less confusion. I arrange the tables in long row(s) that I can walk between and each student gets a tray to put under the table to lay their printed body parts on as they work, the chairs are pushed to the perimeter. The kids need only bring a pencil the first session and when they walk in I have the folded plastic laid out at each printing station so we can get right to work. 
Due to the difficulty of taking decent shots of the prints on black paper, I have printed the how-to below on white so it is easier to see in the photos. The results are far more 'dragon' like on black and I recommend it, in fact, I would use almost any other color instead of white, as the contrast is just too jarring to make a convincing dragon.
NAME TIP:  With each round of prints the kids are handed new paper and they don't get to print until their names are written on the back. Instruct the students that their names must always be visible, so name side up! Have them place the paper under the plastic, directly on the table.

 Materials List: 
  • 1 - 9" x 12" black paper
  • 1 - 6" x 9" black paper
  • 6 - 6" x 4 1/2" black paper
  • 1 - 18" x 24" paper in a contrasting color
  • Large paper for background
  • 20" x 26" plastic for printing
  • Black, green, white, yellow, and red tempera or acrylic paint.
  • scissors
  • white glue

I recommend creating a dragon prior to class starting. Pointing to each body part prior to printing goes a long way in eliminating confusion.

Give the plastic a fold in the middle like a book. Open the plastic and add a dot of green, white, and black paint in the middle of the plastic away from the fold.  

PAINT TIP: Paint should be thin enough to drip off a spoon, distributing it this way to the kids is the easiest to control.  Walk down the line to drip the paint on each student's open plastic. Too much paint takes longer to dry and it won't create a good scale-like effect.

Fold the plastic over to cover the paint. Instruct the kids to mix the colors with their fingers by kneading it under the plastic but challenge them to keep the spot of paint as small as possible. Start with a foot and show the kids how to make points for claws with their fingernails.
The back legs are the same as the feet but longer and without claws.
TIP: If there is paint left behind after the legs are printed, give the students a piece of newsprint or scratch paper to absorb it before moving on to print the head, body, and wings.
Print the head next on the 6" x 9" paper. These last three prints are all made utilizing the fold, and a bit more paint is required, placed directly in the fold.  Knead the paint as before but now have the students form it into the shape of a head, with horny parts and a longer nose.
TIP: Symmetry is an important vocabulary word to introduce for these last prints, reminding the students they are only creating half the head, the other half will show when they open the plastic. They LOVE seeing it when it opens.
The body is a lot like the head but larger, any shape that fits the paper will usually work.
TIP: Since the students have written their names on the paper prior to printing the shape, if they place them under the plastic they can more easily see the size of the body part and what will fit on the paper they are given.
The wings are last and take more paint than any other  body parts. The paint should be spread thin under the plastic to get the characteristic webbing this printing method creates and will produce the most beautiful wing patterns. Nearly any shape will make a great dragon wing as long as the paint is spread thin.
TIP: Remind students not to push the paint beyond the plastic.
The printed dragon parts.  The plastic can be washed and reused, a quick soak in a sink of soapy water makes the cleanup quick and easy. 

The next class time is spent cutting and gluing  A large paper is needed to assemble the dragon. The example here is shown on brown shipping paper that was flattened, trimmed to size and re-purposed.

TIP: The kids grow weary of cutting, so start with the wings to get the hardest part over first and since they are printed on the lighter paper, they can more easily see the paint and intricate designs the prints make along the edges. Many students will want to cut the shapes smooth, but encourage them to follow the bumpy outlines to get the most realistic wing designs. The wings are cut down the folded print line so that they can be spread out behind the dragon body.

Once the wings and body are cut out they can be glued down. Have the students arrange the parts on the paper before they glue them and remind them to spread the glue all the way to the edges of the paper. I'm never too fussy about how the kids put the dragon together, but I talk them through how the body parts have to touch one another, demonstrating how arms attach to a torso; including ideas like what legs look like bent next to our bodies and what they look like extended, as if the dragon was sitting or in flight. If the head gets put on sideways, it still makes a cool, sideways looking dragon, don't fret the small stuff.

The eyes can be problematic. We created half circles cut out of colored paper and then painted the black line above and the pupil inside, this was as fool proof as possible. We talk about how a dragon would not have eyes like a cute bunny, and several examples are drawn on the board to illustrate expressions.
Student examples:
 Close up of detail:

I would love to hear about your dragon making fun, or any other ideas you may have using this printing technique, I sure hope you share them with me in the comments below!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Minecraft Valentines

Minecraft is a big deal at our house with both the big and little boys alike, so I had expert help with this Valentine project as we tossed ideas back and forth until finally everyone agreed that these are 'the bomb'!

Coming up with a good Valentine slogan was tricky, but this one echos the game awards and  says  it all as simply as possible!
The 'tags' for the card are folded in half and attached to the top part of the box (see image above.)

Instructions: 

Click the image to the left to link to the PDF of the pattern for these boxes.

Print the box on cardstock or photopaper (I used cardstock.)

Cut out the boxes and glue together using the tabs.

The boxes measure approximately 2 1/4" when all assembled and will hold a couple snack size candy bars each.

Happy Valentine's Day!

*Thanks to Mindcraft Printables for the basic box pattern.

Owl Valentines


These adorable little owls spread more love than meets the eye since their chubby little bodies can be filled with goodies that are sure to win the heart of every Valentine who is lucky enough to receive one!  My third grader and I made a our owls together, using punches, a Silhouette cutter/good old-fashioned scissors, white school glue, and a bit of tape. Even when the eyes get put on a little wonky, it only adds to the appeal, and 'owl' bet your Valentine agrees!

Basic measurements below will create an owl approximately 3-inches tall which will hold 1-2 snack size candy bars, perfect for any Valentine exchange.


1 - 3 1/2" x 9" strip of paper for body
1 - 3" x 2 3/4" heart for feet
2 - 2 1/4" x 2 1/2" hearts for wings
2 - 1", 3/4", and 1/2" circles for eyes (or Googly eyes)
1 - tiny folded triangle for beak
1 - 5/8" x 1 5/8" 'Valentine U R A Hoot!' sign (print these from any word processing program)
1 - 1 1/4" x 1 3/4" ovals for 'face' and one slightly larger for accent - optional




Instructions:  Glue the the strip to make a tube. Cut up about an 1 1/2-inches from the bottom on each side and glue the front edges of the cut slit over the back cuts to bring the bottom of the owl's body together and give it shape. This also makes the bottom of the tube smaller so that the heart feet will block the candy from falling out so be sure to overlap the tab edges and pull it in tight to close the hole.

Fold up the point on the 'feet' heart and glue the fold section even with the bottom of the tube. Let the glue dry before standing the owl up and proceeding on to shape the owl's head. A small piece of tape is needed to attach the feet to the front of the owl's belly from the inside.

Shape the head and form a small 'U' in the front and then match the shape in the back. Candy can be placed inside the body of the owl. Add the hearts for wings on either side of the body upside down. Add the face features and the Valentine sign.

The head may be hard to shape for little hands but they love adding the face and wings. Homemade Valentine's are fun and always make for great memories.

Happy Valentine's Day!

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