Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes for (Almost) Anyone

Posted on September 11th, 2014 by Diana

It’s hard to believe that fall is right around the corner, but sure enough the other day I saw a bunch of mini pumpkins and autumn decorations at the store. I personally love fall and all the yummy food that goes with it. Pumpkin Pie is my specialty this time of the year, but with all the allergies and diet restrictions people have these days it is really hard to make a dessert that works for everyone and even harder to find something that is kid friendly to bring to a class party. I did come across this recipe last year for Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes, tasted just like the pie I love to make and was a hit with all the little guys in my life minus all the bad stuff.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 can pumpkin
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a food processor or large bowl, combine all the ingredients and blend until smooth.
  3. Spoon the mixture into a lined cupcake pan.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  5. Let them cool completely before removing from the muffin liners.
  6. Since they are soft like pumpkin pie, I recommend putting these in the fridge after baking. It should firm them up a bit.
  7. I add some fat-free Cool Whip to mine for a little something extra.
  8. Enjoy!

 

DIY Superhero Cape

Posted on September 8th, 2014 by Diana

What little boy (or girl) doesn’t want to be a superhero?! There are so many to choose from – good, evil, magic powers, invisible, flying, jumping, and the list goes on! A superhero cape is also the perfect accessory for any day of the week and if you have more than one changing characters is easy. Superhero capes are really easy to make and can be perfect for a superhero themed party activity.

Supplies

  • Adult-sized t-shirts
  • Scissors
  • Self-adhesive Velcro
  • Self-adhesive felt
  • Pom-poms
  • Fabric glue
  • Hot glue gun and glue (optional)

Directions:

  1. Trace a cape shape on the back of a t-shirt and cut it out. Be sure to leave the neckband intact for use as the neck of the cape.
  2. Cut a slit at the front of the neckband and attach self-adhesive Velcro to either side, creating a fastener for the cape.
  3. Cut out a variety of shapes, in different sizes, from the self-adhesive felt –star, lightning bolts, circles, hearts, and letters for their names. If you’re really crafty cut out real superhero logos.
  4. Pre-glue pom-poms to circles of self-adhesive felt.
  5. Children can add self-adhesive shapes and felt-backed pop-poms to their capes to decorate any way they want or keep it simple with their initial.

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Funfetti Cheese Ball Cake

Posted on September 3rd, 2014 by Diana

This past weekend we went to a ninja turtles inspired birthday party that had three birthday cakes – every kid’s dreams! There was an ice cream cake, a soda cake, and a Funfetti cheese ball cake covered in sprinkles. This one was my personal favorite and everyone else’s as well, it was gone within minutes! The best part about the cake is that you eat it with vanilla wafers – yum! To my surprise the recipe was pretty easy and one that little hands can definitely help with.

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Ingredients

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups Funfetti cake mix, dry
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup sprinkles
  • Box of Vanilla Wafers

 

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until combined.
  2. Add in the Funfetti cake mix, sugar, and powdered sugar and beat until combined.
  3. Place the mixture on a large piece of plastic wrap.
  4. Bring up all the corners of the plastic wrap and wrap into a ball.
  5. Freeze the ball for about 1 1/2 hours or until it is firm enough to keep its shape.
  6. Place the sprinkles on a flat plate and roll the unwrapped cheese ball in them, make sure to press the ball until it is fully covered in sprinkles.
  7. Place the ball on a serving dish, cover with plastic wrap and freeze the cheese ball for another 2 hours or overnight.
  8. If frozen overnight, thaw for 20-30 minutes before serving.
  9. Serve with Vanilla Wafers.
  10. Enjoy!

 

100 Acts of Kindness Activity

Posted on September 2nd, 2014 by Diana

I’ve read about the 100 Acts of Kindness Project before and thought it would be a fun activity to do with a toddler that is just starting pre-school, but instead of condensing it to four weeks have it last 100 days. It is a great way to teach kids about showing kindness to other and seeing kindness in others.

Starting on the first day of school ask your child to tell you one kind act they did or one kind act they saw that day at school. Write it down on a sticky note and stick it up on a colorful piece of butcher paper. Keep it up for the next 100 school days. By the end you and your toddler should have a beautiful board with 100 acts of kindness.

This would be a great activity to do with an especially not so talkative child and find out about their day. Don’t forget to read the sticky notes every few days together to not forget all the wonderful acts of kindness your child is seeing and doing.

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Shop Le Top for the latest back-to-school clothing for your tots!

Labor Day Watermelon Appetizer

Posted on August 22nd, 2014 by Diana

A fun way to start of Labor Day Weekend is with these fun Watermelon Appetizers. The best part about them is that they are healthy and the kids can help make them – they’re pretty cute too!

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Supplies:

  • 10 toothpicks
  • 1 large star cookie cutter
  • 1 small star cookie cutter

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of watermelon, cut as thick as the cookie cutter
  • 5 slices smoked provolone cheese
  • 20 blueberries

Instructions

  1. Remove the rind form the sliced watermelon, set on cutting board.
  2. Using the large star cookie cutter, cut out star shaped pieces.
  3. Using the small star cookie cutter, cut out cheese stars. Arrange watermelon stars on serving platter, place cheese stars on top, thread 2 blueberries on each toothpick and pierce through the center of each appetizer.
  4. Keep refrigerated until serving!
  5. Enjoy!!

Le Top Darling of the Week: Atticus

Posted on August 21st, 2014 by Diana

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This easy going fellow is Atticus, and he is our Le Top Darling of the Week today. Atticus is one day short of being 3 years-old– Happy Birthday Atticus! In the photo above Atticus is wearing his favorite Le Top tractor t-shirt. From his choice in wardrobe to his hobbies, Atticus likes anything that “goes”. At home you’ll find Atticus playing trains, planes, or cars and when he’s out and about he loves to ride any and all trains – is there a career as a conductor in his future?

Atticus has two pet cats, Hammie and Vladimir. His favorite foods at the moment are peanut butter and pancakes – not at the same time! However, he’s not a fan of veggies, but what kid is?!

We are told that Atticus loves to laugh and make others laugh. He’s very outgoing, and loves to make new friends wherever he goes. Atticus loves to dance and at a recent family wedding wasn’t afraid to boogie in front of an audience. Since then, he keeps asking to go back to the “dance party.” Fun!

Congratulations Atticus on being the Le Top Darling of the Week and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Getting Your Kids on a Sleep Schedule

Posted on August 18th, 2014 by Diana

With back-to-school in full effect or shortly around the corner one of the most important things you can do as a parent is get your kids on a sound sleep schedule. All summer long your kids have probably been staying up a little later at night and sleeping in a little longer in the morning. Isn’t that the whole point of summer?! So when back-to-school time rolls around, they may find themselves sleep-deprived, which can impact their ability to learn and participate.  I know for me getting back in the swing of things or should I say the sleep of things was the hardest adjustment when going back to school. There are several tips you can follow to get your kiddos back on track in time for the first day of school. Remember – kids need A LOT of sleep!

  • Start the back-to-school sleeping routine early, about two to three weeks prior to the first day of school.
  • Set the time. If once school starts the wake up time will be 6:30 a.m. that means that the bedtime should be around 8 p.m. since school aged children need approximately 10-11 hours of sleep per night.
  • Turn off electronics in the house, especially in their rooms, to help your kids wind down. All electronics — TV, video games, computers, and cell phones — should be turned off an hour before bedtime.
  • Nix the caffeine after lunchtime. Caffeine is a stimulant and it can keep kids (and adults) up at night.
  • Keep their room dark, cool, and quiet – the ideal sleeping environment.
  • Set the rules and explain the expectations. For example, make clear the number of stories to be read, the time for lights out, and acceptable reasons to call for parents. Let them know what the rules are, and stick with them.
  • Practice what you preach, so if they are going you bed early so should you.  Setting a good example is the best way to show your kids the importance of getting a good night sleep.

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Le Top Darling of the Week: Ashley

Posted on August 14th, 2014 by Diana

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This little cutie pie is 12-month-old, Ashley, and she is our adorable Darling of the Week today. In the photo above Ashley is wearing a dress from the Imagine collection by our sister company, Rabbitmoon. Ashley loves music and dancing, her favorite activities are Baby Rhymes and Playtime at her local Public Library. We are told that Ashley is bubbly, sweet, and friendly – we call that the complete package! Ashley already has eight teeth with two more on the way. Her favorite foods are milk, bananas, yogurt, sweet potatoes and apple sauce, but she is not a fan of peas! On her down time Ashley likes to cuddle with her favorite pink poodle lovey and a bunny lovey and spend time with her 16-year-old-cat, Gianni. A fun fact about Ashley is that she’s had six haircuts since the age of four months.

We’re so excited to have Ashley as the Le Top Darling of the Week!

Le Top Darling of the Week: Brycen

Posted on August 7th, 2014 by Diana

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This happy-go-lucky fellow is 10-month-old, Brycen, the Le Top Darling of the Week today. We are told that Brycen has a very bubbly and friendly personality and that whenever he meets someone new he flashes them a big smile – probably just as adorable as the one in the pictures above! Brycen is a very photogenic young man and was recently signed to an agency in San Francisco – congrats Brycen, that is quite an accomplishment!

When Brycen is not busy modeling he likes to relax with his favorite stuffed monkey and lion by watching basketball on TV (his favorite team is the Golden State Warriors – yay!), roll and scoot around the house, and pet his dogs – he has 3! Plus 2 cats! Can you say animal lover?! Brycen’s favorite foods at the moment are carrots, baby yogurt, and baby puffs; however he’s not too crazy about apple sauce.

Brycen’s mom told us that he was only 2lbs 15 oz. when he was born and now he’s up to almost 20 lbs. – that is awesome Brycen!

We’re so excited to have Brycen as the Le Top Darling of the Week today! Congratulations Brycen!

First Day of School Cinnamon Rolls

Posted on August 5th, 2014 by Diana

I remember when I was in elementary school the school year didn’t start until the Wednesday after Labor Day, but with each passing year school seems to be starting earlier and earlier – even as early as July!  I always looked forward to the first day of school (nerves aside) because my mom would make it a very special day. She would take the morning off from work so that she could drive us to school instead of having us walk (our regular method of getting to school) and she would always make us special “First Day of School Cinnamon Rolls”.  These Cinnamon Rolls were special to us because we were rarely allowed to eat anything this sweet for breakfast and we also knew they were quite time consuming to make.

Even if you don’t go the “First Day of School Cinnamon Rolls” route it is important to make the first day of school special for your kiddo as it is a very nerving and exciting time plus it’s always fun to build new family traditions!

First Day of School Cinnamon Rolls

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Ingredients & Measurements:

Rolls:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted melted butter
  • 3/4 cup warmed whole milk or heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Cinnamon or Sugar to  layer
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted softened butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons softened unsalted butter (for buttering pan)
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar (for sprinkling over buttered pan)

Frosting:

  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 8 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
  • 2-3 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. Place yeast and sugar into stand mixer then add warm water and gently stir. Let sit until yeast has doubled, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix melted butter and warm milk. Add butter and milk mixture to yeast mixture with the dough hook attachment on low speed then add sugar and egg mixing until combined.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Add 2 cups of flour mixture to the mixer at a time scraping sides of bowl, continuing to add remaining flour until the dough starts to clean sides of mixing bowl.
  4. Knead dough on low speed for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Place dough onto a floured counter and knead dough until it does not stick to your hands.
  6. Place dough into a large bowl that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a barely warm oven for 45-60 minutes, until dough doubles in size.
  7. Remove dough from bowl and place onto a floured counter top. With a floured rolling pin, roll dough into an approximate 14×19 inch rectangle, about 1/4 inch in thickness.
  8. Spread softened butter over entire surface of dough.
  9. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the brown sugar, sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over buttered dough.
  10. Starting at long end of dough, carefully roll into a log shape. Using dental floss or knife, cut rolls into 1 1/2 inch pieces.
  11. Take 4 tablespoons softened butter and spread over 13×17 inch jelly roll pan lined with parchment paper then sprinkle with brown sugar.
  12. Place 4 rolls per row close to each other, about 1/2 inches apart.
  13. Place into a barely warm oven (turn oven to warm for 5 minutes, then turn off right before placing rolls in oven to let rise) for 45-60 minutes or until rolls have doubled in size.
  14.  Remove rolls from oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  15. Bake rolls for 15-17 minutes or until rolls are golden brown and baked through. Set aside to cool slightly.
  16.  Place cream cheese and butter into your clean stand mixer bowl and beat until smooth and combined.
  17. Slowly add powdered sugar until desired consistency is achieved.
  18. Spread cream cheese frosting over warm rolls.
  19. Serve warm or let cool and enjoy room temperature. Yum!