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!