Monday, December 3, 2012

Baking Monday – PB Pretzel Cookies

Peanut butter + chocolate + pretzels? Sign me up! This recipe was a must-try. I don't prefer baking with M&Ms – I'd do milk choc chips next time – but they do look cute and (most importantly) there was Halloween candy to use up. (One of our neighbors gave out full size M&Ms! Times three kids = baking time!)

Definitely yummy – a fun kid cookie!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Happy Birthday 6-Year Old!

Welcome to Clark's Disney Birthday party!

What a fun theme ... I could have planned this one forever! But two weeks was what I had. 

He invited a few of his buddies over in the afternoon, followed by dinner with our family afterwards. And we got to do it on his actual birthday, which was extra special.

I used these bookmark printables from Family Fun to style tags for our guests. SO cute!!!

Favor bags: I'm usually a fan of practical favors, but it was hard to resist so many crazy cute Disney things at the party store. Each kid got a Disney Pez dispenser (assorted characters!), pencil, stickers, popping candy, and a Disney Dance Party cd for each family.

I knew I put the right person in charge of balloons: I never would have thought of decorating the bannister, it looked terrific!

My favorite decor: a collection of vintage-y mini posters of all Clark's favorite attractions from Disneyland last year.

Balloon girl also helped run the party – she and her good friend ushered all the kids downstairs and helped them with party games (character cake walk, freeze dance, Bingo and Mad Libs).

Favorite gift of the morning! Love this!

DIY dessert: cookie decorating.

Clark went a little crazy with the M&Ms! 

Happy birthday, little guy! What a fun six years it's been!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Grandma Crafts – Fall Collage

Found via Pinterest from Simply Kierste: fall leaf collages. I drew a bare tree outline and trimmed it out of dark brown card stock. Then punched leaves out of five coordinating scrapbook papers. (Punches: Martha Stewart Crafts purchased with coupons from Michaels.) I painted two flat canvases off-white and glued the tree down with Mod Podge. Then we used paintbrushes and Mod Podge and went to work gluing leaves. 

I let the leaves dry for a day then went over the whole thing with one coat to give it a sheen and make everything lay flat. This was a good Grandma project ... easy to do with very pretty results!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Baking Monday – Toffee Pretzel Bark

Don't get me wrong – these are pretty good, but I'd still call straight up pretzel / graham cracker bark slightly more addictive ... plus? Less butter! (OMG, just looked at the link and realize I used exactly the same photo set up this week ... whoops! Time to change things up!) Very similar to the bark made with Saltines that I remember a co-worker making years and years ago.

Anyhow ... these were definitely best the first day or two if you are inclined to try it out. Especially if you are a butter fan.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Baking Monday - Graham Cracker Brownies

Found another recipe for using up my crumby graham crackers! These easy bar cookies from Taste of Home. Line the baking pan with parchment for even easier cut-a-bility.

A chocolate chip-like cookie with a s'mores twist. Can't say it's one that would go in my regular rotation, but it was a yummy try. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Kids in the Kitchen - S'mores Pops

While lamenting our recent crumby cracker situation one day, I wondered out loud, "What can we make with crushed graham crackers?" Dora came up with this idea ... S'mores Pops!

She did this one 100% on her own: stuck sticks in marshmallows, dipped in melted chocolate (she quickly got the hang of tapping off extra chocolate to avoid globs), and rolled in crushed graham crackers ("hand crushed!" as she reminded me).

The first ones were pointier ...

The last few were smoother ...

(There are other versions of these floating around the blogosphere, but I promise this idea was her own!) Again, not a big marshmallow fan, but the kids LOVED these and they turned out super cute. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Baking Monday - S'mores Brownies

Graham crackers have been the after school snack of choice these days, so I bought a giant box at Sam's Club a few weeks ago. Turns out, it was a bummer batch - they were especially crumby. In hindsight, I probably should have returned the box, but it was one of those, "eh ... not worth the effort" moments. Therefore: watch out for lots of graham cracker-themed desserts coming up!

Today: S'mores brownies. The original recipe came from one of those Kraft food magazines (from 2005! I've had this page saved for awhile!) and recommends adding chopped cookies plus a stir-in ingredient to the homemade brownies. I opted for crushed graham crackers (two cups, save some for sprinkling on top) and mini marshmallows (one cup). The marshmallows floated to the top when baked, which made them look kind of cool.

Lining the pan with parchment was key - for cutting, I lifted the whole thing out of the pan and cut with my favorite kitchen tool. I'm not a huge marshmallow fan, but these were very good - soft and chocolatey!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Fall Bingo Game

If you have kids, you probably have some parties coming up next week! I made this game a few years ago and have used it many times for fall classroom parties. (Yes, there are a zillion fall bingo games out in interwebspace land, but of course I wanted to do my own thing.) It was designed to give the kids a bit of reading practice, so it's probably better suited for the older grades (2-5). 

Would you like a copy for your kid's classroom? Here you go! (Personal use only, please!)
Download fall bingo game here

Page one is the call markers to be trimmed, followed by 20 pages of boards. Print on card stock for extra reusability. I found it fun to give the kids a little cup of candy corn to use as markers (and to be eaten afterwards!) It also worked well to let several kids get bingo rather than clearing the board after each win. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Halloween Printables!

It's been awhile since I've had something crafty to post, and I'm super excited about this one!

Grandma and I packed treat boxes for the great grandkids yesterday. We included this banner! The page was printed on card stock and trimmed. Rounding the corners is optional, I thought it looked cute. Punch holes in the top corners and string on one yard of ribbon. 

Would you like the printable? Here you go! (Personal use only, please!)
Download Halloween banner here.

We also wrapped mini Hershey bars! I love these! Print on letter stock and trim. Wrap around candy and tape the ends closed. 

Here you go, part 2! (Again, for personal use only!)
Download Halloween candy wrapper here

We made cards to go with the packages. Great sale at AC Moore ... a set of Halloween cling stamps and this wooden stamp were .85 total! Also found Halloween sticker books for .77 each.

Candy bars, banner, stickers and bags of candy corn were packaged in these adorable treat boxes (AC Moore - $1.99 / 5) ... could they BE any cuter? I had a lot of fun planning these and Grandma will like having something to give to the great grandkids next week. Happy Halloween!!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Baking Monday - Triple Chocolate Scones

Another recipe from one of my favorite baking blogs! This was very good - the dough includes milk, semi-sweet, and dutch processed cocoa powder (Special Dark if you are shopping Hershey's). I was able to mix this all in the food processor, pretty easy to come together. I made these mini size - cut the dough into quarters, then each of those quarters into six slices (helloooo pastry scraper!) and stuck them in the freezer while the oven was warming and dishes were being washed. This was a good dessert because I could make half of the scones with the pb glaze and half with vanilla (same recipe, just omit the pb) to please everyone in the audience. Scones are sometimes a little crumbly, but these were very soft and not overly sweet. Definitely a keeper! 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Baking Monday - Homemade Biscoff Cookies

I don't think I've ever had a Biscoff cookie, but I keep seeing recipes popping up all over the baking blogosphere using Biscoff spread and baking homemade versions. So when I got these cool message cookie cutters for my birthday - which I'm thinking will be primarily used for snarky phrases and maybe the occasional "May the Force Be With You" - it seemed like the perfect cookie to make with my new toy!

The letters were easy to slide in and it took a few tries to figure out how much pressure to use for a good imprint. Jeff gave me a handful of catchphrases to use from the pool team (I love the confidence of "I QUIT"!) I don't know what they mean, but apparently they were a big hit. There was also another one included in the mix (NOT PICTURED) which had a word so repulsive, I cannot believe I actually put it on a cookie (hint: it's an acronym the ladies on the team use for "completely untalented.")

And the recipe? Yummy! I replaced the nutmeg (bleck) with ginger and would try making them with half whole wheat flour next time. The original directions had me a little panicked about burning, so one batch came out of the oven sooner than another. Consequently, half of the cookies were crunchier, half were soft. (Jeff liked the soft better.) A good cinnamony fall-like treat. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Comfort Baking!

It's cozy baking weather time! I've been wanting to try cinnamon rolls for awhile, and had this recipe stashed away that would make a whole bunch at once. These were super easy and fun to do. This makes eight 9x9 pans of cinnamon rolls. I covered each tray with plastic wrap and then foil before freezing. To bake, take out of the freezer to thaw/rise overnight, then bake in the morning (and cover with icing, of course!) It will be nice to have these on hand during the year, very yum.

I usually turn leftover bananas into muffins (adapted from the red & white cookbook banana bread recipe - half ww flour plus 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips. Perfect!!), but I decided to mix it up a little with this recipe ... banana, peanut butter and chocolate, how can you go wrong? The recipe makes two loaves, so you can wrap one up for a friend. It's not super peanut buttery, but very moist and yummy. Two out of three kids liked it ... also goes great with tea!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Baking Monday - Caramel Shortbread Bars

So, I cannot remember where I got this recipe. Not like, oh this is a good recipe, where did it come from? More like: if I wanted to make these again, I could not, because I don't remember where I got the recipe. It was only two weeks ago - yep, I'm a bit behind on baking posts - but the information has left my brain. I searched and searched today and cannot find it. I'm pretty sure it came from one of my recipe books, but don't know which one. I do know that I was happy to find it because it required using up caramels from the pantry and a bit of heavy cream left over from my birthday peanut butter pie. I also remember that the bars were supposed to include pecans, which I did not have on hand.

Turns out: pecans are kind of critical to the recipe, because they really could have used an extra crunch. These were soft and gooey and the nut-phobic children liked them, but the bars were a little flat without them. So ... yay for the flavor, add pecans next time, and if I ever want to make them again, too bad!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Star Wars Cookies Part 2

Theo took a looong time deciding what he wanted for his birthday snack at school. He weighed all the options and considered his favorite foods (chocolate chip cookies and caramel popcorn were also contenders) before deciding on Star Wars cookies. (Forgive the terrible lighting ... these were the product of post-bedtime baking.)

Notice some new friends? I was fortunate to get the second set of cutters for my birthday ... just in time to make cookies for my favorite 9-year-old's birthday. (There's a set of vehicles, too, but I don't think they are nearly as fun.) I usually make these with almond flavoring, but there's a nut allergy in Theo's class, and I wasn't sure how severe, so I decided to play it safe. Turns out, these are just as good with vanilla flavoring.

Leftover dough made some tie-dye friends yet again. Most popular shape with the 4th graders? Yoda, it was.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Baking Monday - Brown Sugar Cupcakes

Another fun fall-ish recipe from Martha Stewart. The recipe says poundcakes, but these were definitely more cupcake-like in texture. I used the half-portion recipe found here.

The frosting recipe called for browned butter - very yummy. I stopped for about 10 minutes halfway through the frosting process to take Clark on a playdate. When I returned, the texture of the icing had changed from smooth and glossy (see below, right) to shiny and bumpy (below, left). Bummer!

These were one of Jeff's favorites - super buttery.