Archive | November, 2012

Five Thumbs Up: Apple Butter Bars

30 Nov

Caroline loves using the pastry cutter to cut the butter into recipes. This one provided a perfect opportunity to use it!

I’ve got a great new recipe for you, and it got all thumbs up from everyone in my house this week! That almost never happens!

I originally found this recipe for Apple Butter Bars on Pinterest, but it’s from the site Three Many Cooks.  I pinned it because my kids love apple butter. Overall the recipe seemed somewhat healthy: no eggs, no white sugar. Apple butter is healthy in itself, so other than the stick of butter that helps to form the crust and topping, it’s not so bad for you, I don’t think.

Caroline made these herself and it was a very easy recipe to follow. If I could change any one thing about it, I’d double it! It makes an 8×8 dish, but with five of us, it didn’t leave many leftovers to last into the next day(s).

Here is the recipe from Three Many Cooks. Enjoy!

Apple Butter-Cinnamon Bars with Oatmeal Crumble

Makes 16 bars

Relatively healthy ingredients makes for a keeper on my list!

INGREDIENTS

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, melted
1 cup apple butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Spread the apple butter between the layers.

DIRECTIONS

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, and heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8- by 8-inch baking pan with vegetable cooking spray, then line pan bottom and up and over 2 sides with heavy-duty foil to facilitate removal of bars from pan. Coat foil with vegetable cooking spray.

Mix flour, oatmeal, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in butter with a fork until well mixed and clumps form. Spread half the oatmeal mixture over pan bottom and up the sides about 1/4 inch, pressing to form a thin crust. Mix apple butter and cinnamon in a small bowl; spread mixture over crust and then sprinkle remaining oatmeal mixture over apple mixture.

Bake until crisp and golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Set on a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Use foil “handles” to remove bars from pan. (Can be double wrapped and frozen for several months.). Cut into squares and serve.

Hanukkah is coming! Here’s a complete meal and craft for you!

28 Nov
Menorah clip art

Happy Hanukkah!

ORIGINALLY POSTED DECEMBER 17, 2011

We are not Jewish, but over the years we have been blessed to know many Jewish friends. When we were first married, we moved to New Jersey. Some of the first people we met there were our friends Max and Jamie, an Italian-Jewish-African American couple whose passion for good food and good times matched our own. They gave us the following brisket recipe in 1996 and we’ve been making it ever since and I think of them fondly every time we do. Accompanying the brisket recipe is a recipe for Latkes, a potato pancake, which we actually make frequently throughout the year because we love them so much. And of course, this post contains a coordinating craft to go along with it. It’s truly the whole package for you!

Max and Jamie sent this recipe to us in 1998 after we had moved back to New England. It’s not perfectly measured out, a lot of winging it, but it’s worth it! I do not have a photograph of this meal because I have not made it since I started this blog in September but I promise that the next time we make it, I will take and post photos.

HANUKKAH BRISKET

INGREDIENTS

One brisket

one medium to large onion

several carrots

a few cans of tomato sauce

DIRECTIONS

1) First chop the onion and cook it a bit in a big pot with a bit of oil (vegetable, corn, canola, whatever)

2) Put the brisket in the pot with the onion and brown it on both sides.

3) Add one can of water for each can of tomato sauce until the brisket is covered. The number of cans varies depending on the size of the can. Let the brisket cook in the liquid for one hour.

4) After about 45 minutes add the carrots (cut into medium sized pieces) to the pot. (Jamie wrote: I usually add about 3-4 carrots. You don’t want to add too many or the sauce will take on too much of a carrot flavor.)

5) After the hour is up, take the brisket out of the pot and slice it. Either with or against the grain works fine, whatever you prefer.

6) Put the brisket back into the pot and cook for another half hour.

************************************************************************************************************

mmmmm…latkes!

LATKES

Elizabeth actually brought this recipe home from second grade in 2010 and I enjoy using it, it’s an easy one, although we’ve used several others in the past.

INGREDIENTS

3 large potatoes, grated

1 small onion, grated

2 beaten eggs

2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon salt

pinch of pepper

DIRECTIONS

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.

Heat half a cup of oil in a frying pan.

Drop a tablespoonful of the potato mixture in the pan.

Fry until the pancake is brown and crispy on the edges.

Turn and fry on the other side.

Drain the latkes on a paper towel.

Some people enjoy sour cream with their potato pancakes, others enjoy applesauce with theirs. I am an applesauce girl all the way, and I’m including my super-simple homemade applesauce recipe below, but see which you prefer!

***************************************************************************************************************

Homemade Applesauce

Homemade applesauce makes a perfect topping for latkes!

HOMEMADE APPLESAUCE

There are so many homemade applesauce recipes out there, and I’ve used a few of them, including a great crockpot recipe which makes a huge amount. But, for a meal like this, I’d use my usual go-to recipe that I of course, learned from my mom when we were growing up.

INGREDIENTS

1 three pound bag of apples (like Cortland or Macintosh) peeled and sliced

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 cup water

THAT’S IT!!

DIRECTIONS

Peel them, slice them, throw them in the pan, dump in the water and cinnamon stick.

Wait til it boils, which happens quickly, and then simmer for 20 minutes. Mash them and eat!

***************************************************************************************************************

Menorah Craft for Hanukkah

Here are the handprint Menorahs my girls made with Caroline last weekend

HANUKKAH CRAFT FOR KIDS

Caroline recently decided to do this craft with her sisters after she saw it in a Highlights magazine. I thought it was so cute and perfect to post with today’s recipes. It’s super easy and her sisters really enjoyed it. They also went online and looked up what real menorahs looked like, while doing their own version of them.

For this craft you need:

one sheet of white paper

two hands for hand prints

one ink pad (I recommend water based ink)

one sheet of yellow construction paper for flames

scissors and glue sticks

Seasonal snack mix: Pumpkin Pie Crunch

26 Nov

A new after school snack for the kids with a seasonal flavor!

My kids are always on the lookout for new recipes for me to try. They read magazines, pour through cookbooks, and even check the backs and sides of cereal boxes, always looking for the next great recipe. They love it when they find out that I’ve tried “their” recipe. I love surprising them.

Most recently, Elizabeth stumbled on the jackpot: a Chex cereal box with three recipes on the back of the box. She found one she wanted me to try, and it had a seasonal flavor to it, just in time for Thanksgiving. One Monday afternoon I decided to give it a try because I had everything I needed on hand with the exception of one type of Chex cereal. It called for three different kinds and I had three, just not the exact three. You’ll see what I mean in my notes below.

Lots of recipe options to choose from!

The other thing I liked about this recipe, besides the fact that it was fast, is that it was a microwave recipe. No need to preheat the oven. In just five minutes in the microwave, it was done.

Here is the recipe for you to try too! This one was found on the back of the Honey Nut Chex cereal, which also happens to be gluten free.

Three bowls of ingredients: cereal, spices, liquids.

CHEX PUMPKIN PIE CRUNCH

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1/4 cup butter

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups Cinnamon Chex cereal

2 cups Wheat Chex cereal (I had Rice Chex cereal instead)

2 cups Honey Nut Chex cereal

8 oz. pecans

Make sure your bowl is big enough and is microwave safe!

DIRECTIONS

1) In small bowl, mix brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice; set aside.

2) In small microwave-safe dish, microwave butter on high about 30 seconds or until melted.

3) Stir in vanilla.

4) In large microwave bowl, mix all cereals and pecans. Pour butter mixture over cereal mixture, stirring until evenly distributed.

5) Add sugar and spice mixture and stir until coated.

6) Microwave uncovered on high 5 minutes or until mixture begins to brown, stirring every minute.

7) Spread on wax paper or a cookie sheet to cool.

Store in an airtight container.

Pumpkin Palooza Recipe of the Day: Pilgrim Pies

19 Nov

Pumpkin flavored whoopie pies!

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON NOVEMBER 18, 2011

Last year, around Thanksgiving, a friend passed along to me a recipe for Pilgrim Pies, otherwise known as pumpkin flavored whoopie pies. My husband loves whoopie pies and he was laid up in a cast last year at this time, so as a special treat I made these for him and some of his friends who came to visit the night before Thanksgiving. They all gave them a thumbs up, so here is the recipe for you. Thanks to reader Jen B. who told me that this recipe actually originated from “Family Fun,” which is one of my all-time favorite magazines.

Ingredients for the Pumpkin “Cookies”

2 eggs

2 c of light brown sugar

1 c oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 (15 oz) can of pumpkin

3 c flour

1 T pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

Ingredients for filling:

4 ounces of cream cheese, softened

1/2 c butter, softened

2 tsp vanilla extract

4 – 5 c of confectioners’ sugar

DIRECTIONS:

Heat overn to 350 degrees.

Beat the eggs, brown sugar, oil and vanilla in a mixing bowl until smooth.

Stir in the pumpkin.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, pumpkin spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture a half cup at a time, blending each time until smooth.Drop a heaping tablespoon (I use my Pampered Chef medium sized scooper for jumbo cookies, small scooper for smaller sized cookies) onto an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake the cookies for 12 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, beat together the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a bowl until light and fluffy.

Mix in the confectioners’ cugar a half cup at a time, until the frosting is spreadable.

There is usually extra frosting.

Finally, assemble the pies.

Happy Veteran’s Day

12 Nov

Patriotic waffles as we remember our soldiers today!

As I type this, it is Sunday, Veteran’s Day 2012.

It’s a day to remember our veterans, those who have served so that we can be free.

I attended a wonderful Veteran’s Day ceremony on Friday at one of the schools I visited and I literally had goosebumps as the whole room pledged allegiance to the flag.

We often take our freedoms for granted, and I am grateful today for the opportunity to remember why we are free.

Thank you to all who serve and all who have served!

Since I’m posting a picture of our patriotic waffles, I will re-post a recipe for waffles that I posted a while back, too.

Enjoy them as you remember why we have the day off today!

All-American Waffles

serves 2-3

INGREDIENTS

1 egg, separated (put yolk in two quart bowl and white in small bowl.)

1 cup plus 2 TBL milk

1 tsp. vanilla

2 TBL canola or vegetable oil ** I recently earned that you can substitute the same amount of nonfat plain yogurt for the oil!

1 cup plus 2 TBL flour

4 tsp. sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS

Separate the egg,  putting egg white aside in small bowl.

In larger bowl, combine the egg yolk, milk, vanilla and oil. Blend together, by hand, with wire whisk.

Add flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to the liquid ingredients and blend with wire whisk. (There will probably be some lumps.)

Beat the egg white with electric mixer until stiff. Fold into the batter with wire whisk until just blended.

(Do not beat egg whites into batter,  just fold in.)

When waffle iron is ready, drop batter into the four squares and use according to directions.

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Chicken and Dumplings

7 Nov

Don made Chicken and Dumplings for us, for the first time ever.

Recently I wrote a post showing our dinner in the Pampered Chef Deep Covered Baker, and I mentioned that I’d show you what we did with our leftovers, one day soon.

Well, today’s that day.

Don had been dying to try making Chicken and Dumplings when we had some leftover roasted chicken, and this last time we made it, that’s exactly what he did.

As an aside, we try to plan a roasted chicken or turkey at least once a month during the fall/winter months because that equals two meals for us and even sometimes chicken salad for lunch. When you’re on a tight budget, you try to stretch your meals as much as you can.

Since Don had never made dumplings before, he looked up a recipe and found this one on Food.com that looked appealing to him.

Caroline did the dumplings all on her own.

He put Caroline in charge of making the dumpling batter while he put together the rest of it.

Here’s the recipe. Keep in mind that we used our leftover roasted chicken, but I’ve left the entire recipe here as is, in case you don’t have leftover chicken but still want to try this out.

Let me know how you like it! It’s a great alternative for leftover roasted chicken!

CHICKEN AND DUMPLINGS
INGREDIENTS

1 large broiler-fryer chicken, cut up
2 celery ribs, sliced
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 medium onion, diced
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can chicken broth
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2-1 teaspoon pepper
water
DUMPLING INGREDIENTS
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
4 tablespoons oil

Dumplings right into the sauce to cook.

DIRECTIONS

Combine chicken, celery, carrots, onion, chicken broth, parsley, chicken bouillon granules, salt and pepper in a large pan or dutch oven; add enough water to cover chicken.Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 2 hours or until chicken is done.Remove chicken and let stand until cool enough to handle.Remove skin from chicken and tear meat away from bones.Return meat to soup; discard skin and bones.Add more salt and pepper to taste, if desired. (Don made a roux to thicken his soup, using equal parts flour and melted butter.)Return soup to a simmer.In a mixing bowl, combine dumpling ingredients and mix well to form a stiff dough.Drop by tablespoonfuls into simmering soup.

Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

Bye Bye Summer Memories Time Line!

5 Nov

Last week the east coast suffered a horrible, devastating hurricane, Hurricane Sandy.

Before reading this post, please remember all of those who are still reeling from this event. Although we were not personally affected, as you’ll read below, so many we know were.

If you would like to donate, I have linked to the American Red Cross and their Hurricane relief site.
You can click here to make your own donation.

Thank you, and enjoy today’s post.

******************************************************************************************************

Our Summer Time Line has been up for a long, long time.

You all remember our Summer Memories Time Line, right?

Started in June, finished in August.

It’s November.

I was thrilled with how the Time Line came out. I loved the pictures, I loved re-living my favorite season.

Til about October. Early October.

“I’m going to take the Time Line down soon,” I’d say.

“No, don’t! I still like looking at it,” someone 13 and under would say.

“I still like remembering all the fun things we did,” another would say.

So I’d leave it longer.

Caroline was 12 when the Time Line went up and 13 by the time it came down.

Caroline’s birthday came at the end of October. The cards went up on the wall, above the Time Line. Halloween decorations went up, around the Time Line.

Christmas was coming, cards would be coming in a matter of weeks. I knew I had to take the Time Line down. I wasn’t going to throw it out, I don’t throw anything out. Ever. I was going to save it.

Then came Hurricane Sandy.

I was wandering around Target the day before the storm, picking up canned goods and thinking about the possibility of being out of electricity for what they said could be weeks.

With an S.

Weeks.

I tried not to think about that possibility and tried instead, to think of what kinds of things one could do with three kids with no power, for weeks, or even a few days.

I wandered through their scrapbooking aisle, and that’s when it hit me, like a ton of canned goods.

The Time Line!! We could scrapbook the Time Line. Together. I’d let them do it, each creating their own pages, using the photos I’d printed for it and the little papers they’d written the events on.

Being a former Stampin’ Up! demonstrator, I had tons of empty scrapbooks and probably thousands of pieces of paper to use.

Thousands.

With an S.

It was perfect.

We never lost power.

Not even a day. Without an S.

They watched TV for two days straight, while we prepared on Sunday and while I typed like crazy on Monday for an extra-early deadline, with us thinking that any minute the lights would go off and I’d whip out my plan.

But, then Tuesday came, the day after the storm ended. Lights on but no school again. Thankfully we were unscathed by the storm.

So many papers to choose from!

This would definitely be the day. We went out during the day and ran some errands and then after lunch but before dinner, we cleared off the dining room table (or at least one end of it) and brought up all the scrapbooking stuff.

I picked out an album. The kids started looking through all the designer papers.

Lots to choose from.

And I started. I began to dis-assemble the Time Line.

Piece by piece, and they were fine with it. I’d give each child a page to work on and give them all the pictures and the posted events to go with it.

Everyone knew the pages they wanted to work on before we started.

They went to town. It was totally their project. I let them put the pictures on the pages they wanted, in the order they wanted. No direction from me.

That’s really big for me you know. I’m a director. I like things to be a certain way usually, but I really liked that this was all them. They owned it.

In about an hour and a half we were done.

The Time Line was empty, ripped off the wall and thrown away and our Summer Memories Scrapbook was done, filled with the events and photos showing our summer of 2012, preserved forever, in their writing, their words. There’s even room in the book for next year’s Time Line photos.

Total independence. Very hard for me, great for them.

Because we already decided, we’re doing it again next summer.

And soon, we’ll have thousands of memories of our summers.

Thousands.

With an S.

All gone!

So proud of all the pages the girls created!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 630 other followers