RSS Feed

Kids In The Kitchen: No Bake Granola Bars

Posted on

My kids and I love Quaker Chewy Granola Bars, but it has recently come to my attention that these are probably one of the most unhealthy granola bars on the grocery shelf…no wonder they taste so good.  So, I decided to try to make my own granola bars at home and found a great no bake recipe to try.  The kids were able to make them with almost no help from me, and they taste unbelievable.  No more store-bought granola bars for me and my family!

Here’s the step-by-step recipe with cute pics of my kiddos in the kitchen.  Enjoy!

IMG_0547

No Bake Granola Bars

Ingredients:

2 cups quick cooking oats

1 cup crispy rice cereal

1/4 cup shredded coconut

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup honey

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. vanilla

Choice of mix-ins

Directions:

1.  In a large bowl, mix together the oats…

IMG_0514

the rice cereal…

IMG_0517

and the coconut.  Set aside.

IMG_0518

2.  In a small sauce over medium high heat, melt the butter.

IMG_0523

Add the honey…

IMG_0524

brown sugar…

IMG_0526

and salt.

IMG_0527

Stir together and allow to come to a boil.  When the boil has reached the edges of the pan, begin timing for 2 minutes and 15 seconds.

3.  Remove from heat and add the vanilla.

IMG_0529

4.  Pour this mixture over the oat mix and stir everything together until oats are completely coated.

IMG_0531

Allow to cool.

5.  Add your choice of mix-ins.  We did cranberry white chocolate chip.  Add 1/2 cup of each ingredient you choose.  So for ours, we added 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips…

IMG_0534

and 1/2 cup of Craisins.

IMG_0536

You could add nuts, pretzels, chocolate chips, dried fruit, or candy…anything you think you might like in a granola bar.  Don’t you just love the freedom!?!

6.  Press the mix into a 9×13 pan…

IMG_0539

and stick in the fridge for 20 minutes.

7.  When cool, turn out onto a cutting board.  (I had to tap the bottom of my pan gently with a knife to release the granola.)  Cut the granola in 16 bars…

IMG_0544

and enjoy!

IMG_0548

I also did my own batch with salted peanuts, peanut butter chips, and chocolate chips.  It turned out very yummy!

IMG_0552

Hope you have as much fun making your granola bars as my kids and I did.

A Mardi Gras Feast

Posted on

Wow!  Blog posts have been few and far between, but here are a couple of fun recipes for your Mardi Gras celebrations…don’t forget that it’s tomorrow, March 4th!

Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday, referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday.  And what could be richer than Shrimp Etouffee?!  Etouffee literally means “smothered”.  You start this dish with a roux which will create a nice, thick, yummy sauce.  I always serve mine over rice.  Perfection!  And for dessert, nothing speaks New Orleans like a nice fluffy Beignet drowned in powdered sugar.  Oh, my!  Talk about decadent!  Hope you enjoy!

Shrimp Etouffee

IMG_0420

Ingredients:

6 Tbsp. butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 green pepper, chopped

3 medium stalks celery, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. Cajun seasoning

1 tsp. Parsley

Cayenne Pepper, to taste (depends on how hot you want it)

2-3 dashes Tabasco Sauce

One 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, with juice

Salt, to taste

1 pound small shrimp, cooked, peeled, and deveined

Directions:

1.  Melt butter in large skillet over med-low heat.  Whisk in flour to make a paste.  Continue cooking, whisking frequently, until mix turns caramel color, 10-15 minutes.

2.  Add onion, green pepper, celery, and garlic and cook about 5 minutes or until vegetables are slightly softened.

3.  Add pepper, Cajun seasoning, Parsley, Tabasco, and Cayenne.

4.  Add 1 cup water and stir to blend.  Pour in the tomatoes and their juice, and season with salt to taste.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to med-low for 10-15 minutes.  Add in shrimp to heat the last 5 minutes.

5.  Serve over rice and enjoy!

 

French Quarter Beignets

IMG_0424

Ingredients:

1/4 cup sugar

1 envelope active dry yeast

3/4 tsp. salt

1 large egg, beaten

1/2 cup evaporated milk

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/8 cup vegetable oil, plus extra for deep frying

Powdered sugar, for dusting

Directions:

1.  In a large bowl, mix sugar and yeast with 3/4 cup lukewarm water.  Let sit for 10 minutes until mix is foamy.

2.  Whisk in salt, egg, and milk.  Add 1 1/2 cup flour and whisk until smooth.  Add the veg. oil and whisk.  Add the rest of the flour (2 cups) 1/2 cup at a time and stir with a spoon.

3.  Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth.

4.  Rub a small amount of veg. oil on dough ball and return to bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and put in fridge for at least 2 hours.

5.  Roll dough on a floured surface to form about a 15 by 20 inch rectangle.  Using a pizza cutter, cut dough into enough small rectangles to make 30 beignets.

6.  Pour oil into an electric skillet, or a regular skillet, and heat to 350F.  The oil should be about 3 inches deep.

7.  Drop the rectangles into the hot oil being careful not to overcrowd…they need room to grow…literally.  Brown on both sides, about 1 minute per side.  Lift out with tongs and drain on paper towel lined plate.  Immediately sift the powdered sugar (as much or as little as you want…personally, I like a lot!) on top of the beignets.

8.  Serve immediately.  They are best when they are still nice and warm.  Each bite will make you think you’ve died and gone to heaven!

IMG_0427

IMG_0428

HAPPY MARDI GRAS!

 

For The Birds #2

I absolutely love bird watching.  I’ve created quite the bird habitat in my front yard and am able to enjoy several different bird species every day.  I love seeing my old friends who come and go with the change of the seasons, like the White Throated Sparrow, Pine Siskin, and the Dark Eyed Junco, but my favorite birds are those who never leave me.  I know every day of the year, no matter the season, I can step on my front porch and see a cute little Tufted Titmouse or a beautiful Cardinal.  They are always there sharing their lovely song and lively activity with me.  This post is for those faithful friends.

I recently got a DSLR camera, and I must say I can’t believe it took me so long to make the switch!  I am obsessed with it!  I may never use my point and shoot again!  Some of the first pictures I took with my new camera were of my beautiful birds (after taking pictures of my cute kiddos first, of course).  I was amazed by the change in picture quality.  I guess those extra megapixels really do make a huge difference.  And it doesn’t hurt that I have a nice zoom lens now, also.  So, without further ado, here are my first birding pics with my new camera…aren’t these guys lovely…see why I like bird watching so much?!?

 

IMG_0065

 

The lovely, blazing red, male Cardinal.  Perched on a pine in the middle of a snow storm.

 

IMG_0072

 

My very favorite bird of all!  The Tufted Titmouse…cute as a button.  You should see these crazy guys peck at a sunflower seed.  Hours of enjoyment!

Hope everyone has a wonderful day.  Try to get out and enjoy the birds for a minute…you’ll be glad you did!

Snow Cream

With all the snow on the ground here in my little town, and a fresh one to two inches already today, I thought this might be the perfect recipe to post.  My kiddos got to enjoy this treat just a few days ago, and I think I’ll be taking a big bowl out to get some more snow right after this post.  We just can’t seem to get enough snow cream around here.  

IMG_4911

I remember eating snow cream in the winter when I was a kid, and am so glad I’ve been able to share the fun with my kids.  Snow cream is so different from any other ice cream.  It’s got its own flavor and texture that make it special…even magical!  I hope you are able to get out and play in the snow…and while you are at it…make some snow cream!

Apologies to all of you who don’t have any snow to play in and/or eat!  Make a trip to WV…we are absolutely covered up right now!  And I’m loving it!!!

IMG_4905

Snow Cream

Ingredients:

1 cup milk

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla

Large bowl full of FRESH snow

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix together the milk, sugar, and vanilla.  Add the snow and mix.  Keep adding snow until you reach desired thickness.  Scoop into a bowl and enjoy this simple, yummy, winter treat!

IMG_4907

 

Cherry Scones

Happy (belated) New Year to all you lovely bloggers out there.  I hope you had wonderful Christmas and New Year’s celebrations with your loved ones. I thoroughly enjoyed our holidays this year…and, yes, I’ll be posting some Christmas pictures soon!  Our family was treated to an extended vacation due to the recent snow storms, and I have enjoyed every minute relaxing and playing with my sweet little kiddos and hubby.  Now, the snow has been replaced by lots of rain, but I’m not complaining…our state could really use the rain today!

So, today is a dark and rainy morning, and I decided to make some warm scones for breakfast.  I love scones for breakfast, my husband swears it’s his very favorite breakfast food, and even my kids devour them.  These scones are really not hard to make, and you can even replace the cherries with other dried fruit or nuts if cherries aren’t your thing.  I hope you and your family enjoy these warm, delicious, flaky scones as much as my family and I do.

IMG_4894

Cherry Scones

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

5 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into small slices

1/4 to 1/2 cup dried cherries (or other dried fruit, or nuts, or both!)

1 egg

3/4 cup heavy cream

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350F.

2.  Stir the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a large mixing bowl.

3. Cut the butter into the flour mix until it looks like crumbs.  I use two knives to cut in, but if you have a dough blender or pastry cutter, use it!

4.  Add your dried fruit, or nuts, or both, and stir into the mix.

5.  Mix the egg and heavy cream together in a separate bowl, then add to flour mix.  Stir just until combined.

6.  Pour mix onto a cutting board and work the mix into a large round.  Don’t knead the dough!  Use a rolling pin to gently roll the round out to about 10 inches and about 1 inch thick.  I use my hands around the edges to make sure the round keeps its shape and the edges don’t go flaking off.  If you do lose some pieces, just stick them back on there, and keep rolling.

7.  Slice the round into 8 wedges.  Transfer wedges to a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

8.  Bake the scones for about 22 minutes or until they barely start to brown.  You want these guys light and flaky.  Don’t over-bake!

9.  Scoop a hot scone onto a plate and devour…forks are useful, but not mandatory.  And for Pete’s sake, have a cup of hot tea with that scone!

IMG_4896

Kids In The Kitchen: Gingerbread Houses

Gingerbread is a big thing in our house at Christmas.  We usually make gingerbread men and women, or gingerbread trains, or gingerbread trees and snowflakes to decorate.  When we have made “gingerbread houses” in the past, we’ve always just used graham crackers.  This is the way I made my houses when I was a kid.  It’s easy, and no baking and waiting are required.  The kids can just start decorating…which is the best part anyway!  This year, we decided to make our gingerbread houses from scratch.  It took a lot more time, but the gingerbread tasted wonderful and the houses looked great!  I hope you enjoy making these gingerbread houses with your family as much as I enjoyed making them with mine!

IMG_4675

Gingerbread Houses:  (This recipe makes one house)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup shortening

3/4 cup molasses

1/3 cup cold water

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground allspice

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 Recipe of Gingerbread Frosting (recipe to follow)

Assorted candy, nuts, cookies, etc. to decorate with

Directions:

Heat oven to 350F.  Grease bottoms and sides of a jelly roll pan with shortening.

In a large bowl, mix the brown sugar…

IMG_4652

the shortening…

IMG_4653

and the molasses.

IMG_4654

Stir in cold water.

IMG_4657

Add the flour and the baking soda…

IMG_4658

 

and the ginger, salt, allspice, cloves, and cinnamon.

IMG_4660

 

Mix everything together…go ahead, get your hands in there…until a nice dough ball forms.

IMG_4664

 

Press the dough into the greased jelly roll pan.  My kids got really enthusiastic on this step!

IMG_4665

 

IMG_4666

 

Bake for about 15 minutes or until no indentations remain when center is touched.  Cool 5 minutes.

Now comes the fun part!  Cut shapes:  two rectangles, two trapezoids, two squares, and two triangles.  Place these shapes on top of your gingerbread, and cut around them.

IMG_4667

 

When you are finished cutting, remove the shapes to a cooling rack.

IMG_4668

 

While your gingerbread is cooling, make your gingerbread frosting…

IMG_4669

Gingerbread Frosting

Ingredients:

2 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup shortening

2 Tbsp. light corn syrup

5-6 tsp. milk

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl until smooth and spreadable.  This stuff is thick and works just like glue for your house.

Now, back to the gingerbread houses…

Assemble your houses using your gingerbread shapes and your gingerbread frosting.

IMG_4670

 

Let the houses stand for about 30 minutes, or until the frosting is completely set.

 

IMG_4673

 

Then, you can decorate your house with candy, nuts, cookies, crackers…whatever your little heart desires!

IMG_4674

 

 

Last, but not least, stand back and admire your artistic abilities.  I love my creative little kid’s gingerbread houses!

IMG_4678

 

IMG_4681

 

 

Artsy Kids: Paper Snowflakes

For our Christmas activity last night, we decided to make paper snowflakes to hang on the tree.  We have made these before, but we’ve never had patterns to go by, just free-styled it, and ended up with some rather “unique” looking snowflakes.  Since I have become friendlier with Pinterest, I have found tutorials for several activities I enjoy doing with the kids.  I was able to find a great tutorial for paper snowflakes with 24 different patterns to use!  You can find the tutorial here.  This tutorial is very easy to follow and really helped us with our snowflakes this year.  Although, we had to do the free-style thing, too…old habits die hard!  I hope you enjoy this little craft and maybe get some ideas for your snowflake projects.

Here’s our step-by-step:

IMG_4628

Paper Snowflakes

Materials:

White printer paper

Scissors

Directions:

1.  Fold paper to make a triangle.

IMG_4629

2.  Cut off excess paper.  When you open the triangle, your paper should now look like a square.  Refold the triangle.

IMG_4631

3.  Fold the triangle again.

IMG_4632

4.  Fold left point down toward the middle.

IMG_4633

5.  Fold right point over this fold.

IMG_4634

6.  Cut off excess to make another triangle.

IMG_4635

7.  Stick the triangle on your stuffed animal’s head.

IMG_4636

8.  Draw the design of the snowflake on your triangle.  The dark parts will be cut out.

IMG_4638

9.  Cut out the shape and open it up to find a beautiful snowflake!  My son was so proud of his work.

IMG_4639

Here is my daughter’s beautiful snowflake.

IMG_4640

My husband joined in the fun, too.

IMG_4641

This was a tricky pattern, but I thought it made a lovely snowflake.

IMG_4644

And, of course, we made some free-style snowflakes.

IMG_4645

Not too shabby for free-style, kids!  My son thought his small one looked like a frog, and my daughter designed and cut that pattern by herself…artist in the making right there!  Love those kiddos!!!

IMG_4647

Then, we hung our snowflakes on the tree in the playroom.

IMG_4648

And cleaned up the giant mess we made in the living room.

IMG_4651

It was worth it!  Now, have fun making your own snowflakes…and have a very merry Christmas!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 564 other followers

%d bloggers like this: