Thursday, December 24, 2015

Rice Krispie Trees

These Rice Krispie Trees were the favorite of everything we made this year.  We made them even simpler by taking the shortcut of buying the GIANT pre made Rice Krispie Bars at Target. We made these with both the high school girls and the little girls. We served them at the high school kids party, the homeless shelter, and, tonight, for Christmas Eve.

  1. Cut a giant Rice Krispy bar into three inch strips.
  2. Cut each strip into triangles, making sure to eat the end scraps.  (We cut 35 trees out of each sheet.)
  3. Insert a stick into the bottom of each tree.
  4. Dip one side of the tree into melted chocolate wafers.
  5. Drizzle accent colors on top.
So Easy!  So cute!  So delicious!

Wishing you all a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

3-Ingredient Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Pancakes

It was a dark and stormy night (well, technically, early morning) when I had to wake the kids up for school today.  It was the kind of morning when nothing could really persuade you that getting out of bed was a better option than staying in it. In a heroic attempt to get the kids out the door in time to catch the bus, I reached deep into the pantry and rustled up the three ingredients needed to waft aromas of autumn to the stratospheres of the second floor: Krusteaz Buttermilk Pancake Mix, canned pumpkin pie filling and chocolate chips.  These three pantry staples, combined, create the sapidity of fall.  Even my non-breakfast eater managed to down a short stack!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

3 cups Krusteaz Buttermilk Pancake Mix
2 cups water
1 cup Libby's Canned Pumpkin Pie filling (not pureed pumpkin)
1 cup chocolate chips

Mix first three ingredients until just combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Heat a greased, nonstick skillet on medium.  Pour 1/4 cup of batter portions onto the heated skillet.  When the pancakes begin to bubble, flip and cook the other side.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Dark Chocolate Coconut Bars

Dark Chocolate Coconut Bars.  Or, technically, Dark Chocolate Mounds Bar Bars. But that seemed a bit redundant. I was inspired to make these while eating a Grilled Salmon over Mixed Greens salad, simultaneously staring into the pastry case at our local favorite bakery, A Taste of Scandinavia.  Sometimes I try to be good, but I just can't. Inside the pastry case were hand-sized "Candy Bar" cookies with dark chocolate and coconut. I decided I could make these at home.

I started with one entire bag of Miniature Mounds bars…..

I chopped them into eighths, still leaving them chunky.

Into my favorite cookie dough batter, 
I mixed one bag of chocolate chunks and one cup of shredded coconut.

I carefully folded in the Mounds Bars pieces, so as not to smush* them. 
*(Hmm…. according to autocorrect, smush is not a word!)

I baked the bars in a 1/2 sheet pan, which is the equivalent of two 9" x 13" cake pans which worked out perfectly since we had a BBQ with the In-Laws and and a Football Potluck all in the same day!

For good measure, I drizzled extra semi-sweet chocolate on top after I cut them into squares.

My husband, who hates coconut but loves 7-layer bars still thought these were pretty good.
My mom, who loves coconut but hates 7-layer bars thought these were excellent.

Dark Chocolate Coconut Bars

1 1/3 cups butter or shortening (I like Earth Balance)
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2  tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 11 ounce bag of mini Mounds Bars, chopped
1 cup shredded coconut
1 12-ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate chunks

Blend butter and sugar and beat until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Beat until light and fluffy again.  Add flour, baking soda and salt.  Beat until well mixed.  The dough will be stiff.  Add chocolate chunks, Mounds Bars, coconut and combine with a spoon.

For the bars, line a 1/2 sheet cake pan with parchment paper.  

Pat the dough into the pan evenly.  If the dough sticks to your fingers, put a plastic sandwich bag over your hand and spray the palm side with cooking spray.  

Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Super Easy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Dog Treats

Our dog had a birthday recently so, of course, we had a party. We invited the grandparents. We wrapped presents. We sang "Happy Birthday!" We ate birthday treats. The humans ate bone-shaped sugar cookies with ice cream. The dog ate homemade Peanut Butter Oatmeal Dog Treats. I just love it when I get to use my cookie cutters.

This recipe is completely foolproof and, although completely humanly edible, is made canine friendly by omitting the salt and sugar. (i.e. you can impress your kids by eating a dog biscuit, just don't expect it to taste like a yummy peanut butter cookie!)

Your dog, however, will think it is quite tasty.  Let me demonstrate.

He sees it.

He smells it.

He manages to get the entire treat in his mouth without biting off the hand that feeds it. 
We have an understanding of trust like that.

Happy Birthday, Kujo!

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Dog Treats

1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup nonfat milk
1 egg
2 cups whole wheat or multi-purpose flour
1 cup oats
1 tablespoon baking powder

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl, beat milk, egg and peanut butter until well combined.
  2. Add the flour, oats and baking powder to make a very stiff dough.  A hand mixer might not be able to handle it, but your stand mixer should do just fine.
  3. Pour out the dough onto a floured work surface and roll until it is 1/4 thick.  Find your "Bone" cookie cutter and cut into shapes.
  4. Bake on a parchment lined baking tray at 325 degrees for approximately 20 minutes.  Turn biscuits over and bake for an additional 15 minutes.  The dog treats should be crunchy.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

"Mom's the Bomb" Mother's Day Video

At church this Sunday, our Worship Leader, Chris Barrett, played a video of a song which he wrote to pay tribute to all the moms on Mother's Day.  To provide inspiration to his song, he asked the kids during a recent Wednesday Night service to tell him all the things that make their mom's special.  
Here's a peek at the song:

Guess which inspiration came from my kids?
That's right.  I have weird dance moves.

Thanks Kids!

Hope you all had a Happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Green Lunch

If you are one of my kids, you've come to expect a green lunch on St. Patrick's Day!  My youngest tends to remind me a few days in advance. "Do we get a green lunch again this year?" My oldest, a super-cool 17-year old, grabs the inevitable bag and shoves it in his backpack. Despite his apparent ambivalence, I bet that when he's a dad, his kids will get a green lunch, too! #StillFunny, #ILoveMyJob!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Apple and Mustard Braised Corned Beef

I only cook Corned Beef once a year, but every time I do, I'm reminded of how really quite delicious it is! Truth be told, I love everything about the traditional St. Patrick's Day meal - the roasted carrots, the braised cabbage, the tender and flavorful corned beef - it is truly comfort on a plate. This year's corned beef turned out especially flavorful when it was slathered with grainy mustard, encased in brown sugar and braised in apple juice.  These three simple ingredients turned out to be quite transformative and may be the only way I'll cook corned beef in the years to come!

Apple and Mustard Braised Corned Beef

2-3 pound corned beef brisket
1/4 cup grainy mustard
1/2 cup brown sugar
12 ounces apple juice

Place the beef brisket, fat side up, in a Dutch Oven.  Slather the top side with the mustard.  Pack the brown sugar on the top of the mustard, covering the entire brisket.  Slowly pour the apple juice into the side of the Dutch Oven, being careful not to pour it directly on top of the brisket. If desired, add the  enclosed seasoning packet to the apple juice.

Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 2 1/2 hours or until beef is tender.  To serve, slice thinly against the grain.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

King Cake (With Cream Cheese Filling) Fake Out

It's Fat Tuesday and a Southern tradition that we carried north is the King Cake. You can read more about the history of the King Cake HERE.

A King Cake is basically a cinnamon coffee cake.  Some cakes (the good ones) are filled with a cream cheese filling. The others, in my humble opinion, tend to run a little boring and dry. As my time this weekend was pressed, and the bakery selection of King Cakes around these parts is limited, I decided to take a few shortcuts and make my own. Here's my Fake Out!

Start the King Cake with some pre-packaged Cinnabon rolls. Carefully unfold two packages onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  It might seem a little messy, but just go with it.  Frosting covers a multitude of sins.

Next, spread a delicious cream cheese filling onto the dough. (See recipe below.) The cream cheese filling is what makes the cake worth eating. Trust me on this one.

Starting from the long ends, roll up the dough into a long tube and bend it around to form a circle, sealing the edges.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Drizzle with the glaze that comes right in the package and sprinkle with Green, Yellow and Purple sanding sugar or nonpareils.  If you don't use these colors, it's not a King Cake. In case you didn't know. I'm just saying.

Pastry Cream Cheese Filling

2 8-ounce packages Cream Cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg

Mix ingredients together until well blended.  Use as a filling.  Bake as pastry is directed.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Heart Shaped Egg-In-the-Holes: Tips for the Perfect Egg!

Sometimes breakfast is the only meal we can have together and I'm thankful that, even though my kids are getting older, they still appreciate the magic of the cookie cutter.  These heart shaped Egg-In-The-Holes turned out to be the perfect breakfast on a sub-zero day.

Through trial and error, here are a few tricks I picked up for producing the perfect egg:

  1. Use hearty bread for a good, clean, cookie cutter cut (like Ezekiel Sprouted Grain.)
  2. Butter one side of the bread and put it butter side down on a heated griddle.
  3. Crack your egg into a separate vessel and spoon the yolk into the hole in the bread.  Spoon in enough of the egg white to fill the bread hole, but not so much as it will flow over the cut edge.
  4. Place a large skillet lid over the bread to help steam the egg.  This will allow the egg to cook without the need to flip it.
  5. When the egg begins to solidify, sprinkle with kosher salt.  Garnish with chives.

Wishing you all a Happy Valentine's Day!