What you’ll need
• small paper bags (often sold as “lunch bags”)
• a printer
• pinking shears (optional, but they make for a nice-looking bag top)
• treats to put in the bags (We highly recommend the sea-salt brownies below!)
What you do
1. Download and print a pattern, or create your own stencil, for your bag.
2. Print a test page onto paper, then hold the test page up to your paper bag to see where on the bag the ink will land. Make a note of the orientation (which direction the top of the bag should be facing) since every printer seems to be different!
3. Place paper bag in your printer (where you normally would put paper).
4. Set your print settings to a custom paper size of 5 x 7 inches.
6. (Optional) Using pinking shears, cut off the upper 2-3 inches of the bag (to make it look less like a lunch bag)
7. Fill with treats and give to the Valentines in your life.
Note: It can be difficult to get a paper bag to go through a printer. It might be necessary to try turning the bag (and adjusting the orientation of the design accordingly before you print). We found it worked best with our printer to feed the bag into the printer open-end first and with the flap on top, facing us.
* * * * * *
Sea Salt Brownies recipe by Cathe Olson
Cathe says: These are my favorite brownies. They are moist, fudgy, rich, and the touch of salt perfectly complements the sweetness. You’ll never go back to plain brownies!
4 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate, broken into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup unsalted butter or nonhydrogenated margarine
2/3 cup unbleached sugar (evaporated cane juice)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs or equivalent egg replacer
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Coarsely ground sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil an 8-inch square baking pan.
Melt chocolate and butter in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring as needed to prevent scorching. When smooth, remove pan from heat and cool to room temperature.
Pour cooled chocolate mixture into a mixing bowl and whisk in sugar and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Gently stir flour mixture into chocolate mixture. Fold in chocolate chips.
Spread batter in prepared baking dish. Lightly sprinkle the batter with coarsely ground sea salt. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until mixture is firm.
Cool at least 30 minutes before cutting.
Cathe Olson is a frequent Mothering contributor and author of Simply Natural Baby Food, The Vegetarian Mother’s Cookbook, and Lick It! Creamy Dreamy Vegan Ice Creams Your Mouth Will Love. Check out Cathe’s website and blog.
Photo and bag designs by Melyssa Holik