Tuesday, October 26, 2010

October 22 Mint Chocolate Delights

My mother loved mint chocolate chip ice cream. I hear my niece loves it as well. Audrey is not really old enough to pick many of the recipes we make together so I am allowed to slip in my own preferences often. I saw a bag of Dark Chocolate & Mint Morsels by Nestle in the store and knew we had to make something with them. Same as when I make chocolate chip cookies I just used the recipe on the back:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 10 oz pkg Dark Chocolate & Mint Morsels
Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Beat butter, sugars and vanilla until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels. Drop by rounded tbsp onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 325°F for 11-13 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Help measure and add ingredients
  2. Crack eggs
  3. Operate mixer
  4. Place cookies on baking sheet
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Help measure and add ingredients
  3. Place batter in scoop for Audrey to place on cookie sheet
  4. Bake
I was told by Audrey's dad that the best way to keep him away from cookies was to bake them with mint. It looks like not everyone loves mint chocolate chip ice cream. This post is dedicated to my mom. Miss you.

October 21 Cranberry Muffins

One of the best and easiest gifts to give is muffins. Add some flavored butter or spread and coffee or tea and you have a great gift. We had a few cranberries left over and so we decided to use them for holiday muffins. I used a favorite basic recipe from The Tightwad Gazette:

  • 2 1/4 cups grain
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup additions (cranberries)
Combine dry ingredients and mix in wet ingredients. Stir until just combined. Fill cups 2/3 full and bake at 400°F for 20 minutes. 

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Help measure and add ingredients
  2. Crack eggs
  3. Mix 
  4. Pour batter into tin
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Help measure and add ingredients
  3. Bake
Maurene got in on the mixing as well. I love to have muffins around for quick holiday breakfasts as well as gifts. We will be stocking the freezer so we have plenty on hand when the time comes.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wordless Wednesday October 20

October 20 Whats for Lunch Wednesday

Audrey and I had a few cupcakes leftover from our Cupcakes in a Mug baking fun. Maurene spread some of the batter over the table so we were a little short when it came time to bake them. Because of that a few of the cupcakes got a little overdone around the edges. They still tasted good so I decided to send them for lunch.

We added this to Whats for Lunch Wednesday. Check out all of the great lunches!

October 19 Pomegranate Jelly

Martha Stewart makes anything seem easy. She lists a recipe for pomegranate jelly and actually calls for you to juice the pomegranate. Doesn't she realize most of us have children? I purchased juice already removed from the fruit. It is so much easier that way.

Pomegranate Jelly

  • 4 cups pomegranate juice
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 pouches liquid pectin
Put pomegranate juice, lemon juice, and sugar into a large stockpot. Bring to a rolling boil. Add liquid pectin; return to a rolling boil, and cook 1 minute. Immediately transfer to jelly jars. 

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Help measure and add ingredients to pot
  2. Stir sugar and watch for rolling boil
  3. Help place jelly in jars
Mom's Task:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Help place jelly in jars
This was a simple process. Only time will tell if the jelly sets up. It is supposed to set up within two weeks. I elected to simply place the jelly in jars rather than can it. 

October 18 Muffin Tin Monday

I hope it is alright with everyone that we are showing up for Muffin Tin Monday a little late. I wanted to include this post because Audrey had so much fun making it. We were driving home and debating what to have for dinner. I suggested homemade pizza and Audrey suggested we have rainbows. Both sounded good so we started on the pizza:
Then, while it was baking, I pulled out ingredients for a good rainbow. Audrey asked where the Muffin Tin Mondays were (her name for the trays we use) and so I had to get those out for serving. She carefully filled her and her sister's trays with all of the colors.

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

October 17 Pumpkin Bread

A true holiday gift is a great Pumpkin Bread. It really says autumn. Of all the holiday tastes, pumpkin is Audrey's favorite. Her birthday is shortly after Thanksgiving and she usually has something pumpkin flavored to celebrate. When I got out the ingredients for this bread she asked to taste the pumpkin. I believe she would have eaten the entire can if I had let her. Recipe from my favorite cookbook, Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook.

Pumpkin Bread

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger or ground cloves
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large mixer bowl combine 1 cup flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, and ginger or cloves. Add pumpkin, milk, eggs, and shortening. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed till blended, then on high speed for 2 minutes. Add remaining flour; beat well. Stir in nuts and raisins. Pour batter into a greased loaf pan. Bake for 60 to 65 minutes or till a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove from pan; cool thoroughly on a wire rack. Wrap and store overnight before slicing.

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Help measure and add ingredients
  2. Operate mixer
  3. Use spatula to help get batter into pan
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Help measure
  3. Grease pan
  4. Help pour batter into pan
I turned my back on Audrey for 30 seconds or so and came back to a 2 year-old covered in flour. She had put her hands in it and wiped them on her shirt. It could have been worse. I brushed her off and we continued.

The girls are really starting to love all of these batters we are making and they always make sure to use a spatula so they can lick them while the item is baking. Maurene is getting a spatula even when she does not help.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

October 16 Pomegranate Candies

We had a half box of white chocolate candy coating left over from the White Chocolate Pretzels. Also in the fridge was a pomegranate I purchased to show the girls what the seeds look and taste like. I cut up half and sent seeds in their lunches. It did not go over well. I needed a use for the second half. It was not a big stretch to think that Audrey would enjoy melting chocolate and pouring it into candy molds for easy gifts.

Pomegranate Candies

  • Pomegranate seeds
  • White chocolate candy coating
  • Shortening
Melt candy coating and shortening in a microwave safe bowl. Once coating is completely melted add seeds and stir gently. Pour into a candy mold or ice cube trays to set. Refrigerate until set. 

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Place candy coating in bowl
  2. Stir coating
  3. Add pomegranate seeds
  4. Pour into molds
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Operate microwave
  3. Help pour into molds
I could not get the girls to enjoy the seeds but they did like the candies. There were a few candies that fell apart when they came out of the mold and I felt it my duty to try them. They were wonderful. They should keep in the fridge for at least a month so feel free to make them ahead of time for great holiday gifts. Because the seeds contain liquid they will not work in the freezer. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

October 15 Dixie Relish

This recipe goes with the Spicy Mustard. I made it for my step-father and he loved it. I have not made it in several years and it is time to bring it back. This is a simple recipe that gives big results. I only made a half-batch this year because I only have one recipient but I am listing the full recipe.
Dixie Relish

  • 4 cups chopped green cabbage
  • 2  cups chopped onions
  • 2 cups chopped green peppers
  • 2 cups chopped sweet red peppers
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp mustard seed
  • 2 tbsp celery seed
  • 1/2 tsp dried crushed red pepper flakes
In a large non-aluminum container, combine cabbage, onions, green peppers and red peppers; toss well. Sprinkle with salt. Add 2 quarts water; cover and let stand 1 hour. Drain well. Rinse with cold water and drain again. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, combine vegetable mixture, vinegar; 1 cup water, sugar,  mustard seed, celery seed, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Stirring occasionally, simmer uncovered 20 minutes. Spoon relish into heat-resistant jars. Cover with lids and cool. Store in refrigerator.

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Help chop cabbage
  2. Mix vegetables
  3. Add salt and water
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Rinse vegetables
  3. Cook relish
Audrey had to go to sleep before the relish was ready to cook. She could have put all of the items in the Dutch oven to cook. I used previously chopped and frozen vegetables from our CSA. It is a very easy way to store vegetables to use at a later date. If you look close you can see Maurene was trying to help cut the cabbage.

Cupcakes in a Jar

How fun are cupcakes? Everyone loves them; at least I think so. We found an adorable website with the instructions for Cupcakes in Mason Jars. Audrey loves to make cupcakes. I decided not to worry about making the batter from scratch and get straight to the baking.

Cupcakes in a Jar

  • Baking mix
  • Icing
  • Food coloring
  • Sprinkles
  • 12 half-pint mason jars
Mix batter. Fill 24 cupcake tins. You want the cupcakes to be small so do not overfill the tins. Bake. Cool. Mix icing with food color of choice. Put icing in a zip top bag. Place one cupcake in each jar. Snip the edge of the icing bag and pipe icing on top of each cupcake. Add a second cupcake to the jar. Put more icing on top. Add sprinkles. Place lids on top. If you are creative you can add cute things to the jar. Visit the website to see what she did. 

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Make mix
  2. Fill cupcake tins
  3. Mix icing
  4. Put cupcake in jar
  5. Pipe icing on top
  6. Add sprinkles
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Help mix
  3. Bake cupcakes
  4. Help pipe icing
The website where we got the idea from stated that the jars had been safely shipped. We plan to send a few of ours to relatives. Enjoy! With some Halloween sprinkles in the cabinet we thought orange frosted cupcakes would be in order. Closer to the holidays we will make more of these to send to a few relatives we do not get to spend time with this year. This was a trial run to see how it would go. Great!

Start by mixing

Fill the tins

Watch them bake

And decorate!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Toffee Blondies in a Jar

Another easy gift idea is one in a jar. The jars are fun for the children to fill and I know Audrey, for one, loves the act of carrying the jar to the recipient. I am going to print a few pictures and include them with the recipe.

Toffee Blondies

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1/2 cup butterscotch or toffee pieces
Layer ingredients in a quart canning jar in the order listed. Include recipe:

To Make Blondies:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8x8 inch baking pan. In a bowl, combine 1/4 cup melted butter, 2 lightly beaten eggs, and 1 tsp vanilla. Stir in contents of the jar. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until set and golden brown and edges just begin to pull away from pan. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Makes 16 bars.

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Layer ingredients into jar

Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Close lid

The best part about these gifts is that they are easy for the giver and the receiver to make the bars together. Audrey made brownies with her grandma that she had given for a present. It was a gift that gave the gift of togetherness.

Filling the jar.

Finished product.
This post was submitted to Eisy Morgan's Inspired by You Wednesday. There are some amazing holiday crafts listed there.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What's for Lunch Wednesday October 13

The girls had pumpkin bread, mini banana, broccoli, cheese, Cocoa Crackles, assorted fruit, and a yogurt/apple butter mix. Audrey added a little peanut butter to the pumpkin bread last minute.

This lunch is a part of What's for Lunch Wednesday. Head on over to see the other fabulous entries.

Wordless Wednesday October 13

This picture is part of the 5 minutes for Mom Wordless Wednesday.

October 12 Carrot Cake Cookies

A classic in this house is Audrey's favorite, Carrot Cake Cookies. Audrey got the Sesame Street Yummy Cookies cookbook for Christmas and we love it. Many of the recipes include healthy ingredients, such as this one. I feel better letting my children have snacks with something nutritious inside. So we decided to make some of our healthier for you snacks as gifts and holiday treats. We plan to make several different types of cookies and mix them up in gift bags for friends and family. If the holidays are not too hectic we might plan a cookie swap with friends as well. Or maybe a cookie baking party! What is your favorite holiday cookie?

October 11 Peanut Butter Bread

I like to collect recipes that require few ingredients. Peanut Butter Bread is one of them. We almost always have the ingredients on hand and it is a quick bread recipe so anyone can make it. We are going to stock up on quick breads as holiday gifts and this one will be made more than any other. I am thinking about trying chunky peanut butter or maybe some dried fruit as different texture. Do you have a favorite quick bread recipe to share? I would love to have more. Leave a comment telling us what your favorite is. Maybe Audrey will try to make it.

October 10 Freezer Jam

A really easy gift to make with young children is freezer jam. And it is a quick task. With a packet of freezer jam pectin, fruit, and sugar you can make a tasty treat for those long winter months with little access to good fresh fruit. In our area strawberries are still affordable so we have taken the opportunity to put up several batches of Audrey's daddy's favorite flavor of jam. Check out the link above to see rare pictures of Audrey's mom in the kitchen with her. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

October 9 Spicy Mustard

Before the children were born I had more time on my hands. I used to make homemade gifts for family and close friends. One favorite gift of my late step-father was the spicy mustard. I have not made it since his death. Until now. The recipient of this gift does not keep up with the blog so I feel comfortable posting it.
Spicy Mustard

  • 9 oz prepared mustard
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp ground all spice
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
Mix all ingredients and place in a container with tight lid.

Audrey's Tasks:

  1. Add spices and garlic
  2. Mix
  3. Help place in jar
Mom's Tasks:

  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Help place in jar
This is a tasty and easy gift to make for the grill master in your life. I usually included a jar of homemade relish as well. Hope to post that recipe soon.

Muffin Tin Monday October 11

I tried to do the pumpkin theme this week but came up a little short. I do not have any holiday cutters so I was limited to what I could do free hand.
The girls had mini cheeses (one Babel and the other cheddar), pumpkin bread, pumpkin seeds, peanut butter and pumpkin butter sandwiches and grapes. Maurene loved hers, Audrey decided not to eat today.

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

Fun Friends!

We were spotlighted by the Redhead Riter as a Rockin' Friend! It is wonderful to get the recognition. She has a great community at The Blog Frog and I love to keep up with posts (when I have free time, or sleepless nights). She and her community have been great supporters recently so it is just another reminder to me why I enjoy this  community so much when I read her spotlight of Audrey and the blog. Her Rockin' Friends are a great group of people who have been very supportive recently. Please check them out to see what I mean. And become a follower of Red's blog as she does some great community building along with her writing.
Rockin' Friends

October 8 Basic Sugar Cookies

A great recipe to have for any holiday is a basic sugar cookie. You can do so much with it. I  like to try to keep a batch in the freezer, ready to cook. It is easier to color the dough before you freeze but you may not always know what you want to use it for. I found a really easy recipe in Real Simple Magazine last January and have used it several times. We will post a few ideas of what you can do with the dough a little later.
Basic Sugar Cookies

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping the cookies
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup butter at room temp
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the egg and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated (the dough will be stiff). Shape into a disk and refrigerate, wrapped, for at least an hour.

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Crack egg
  2. Help measure and add flour, salt, and baking soda
  3. Add butter and sugar to bowl
  4. Take turns adding flour mixture
Maurene's Tasks:
  1. Push the buttons on the microwave to melt the butter
  2. Take turns adding flour mixture
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Add vanilla and egg to bowl
  3. Operate stand mixer
  4. Mediate cranky children for turn sharing
This was a very easy recipe. The girls ended up getting flour everywhere while trying to add it to the mixer. I recommend a lot of patience for messes. In the end it was easy to clean up and the girls had the best time helping. They do not know that their daddy got in the kitchen and licked the beater while they were playing. It is fortunate that they are both so young and easy to distract.

October 7 Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Audrey's father's family loves to have snacks in the evenings. They are consumed during movies, while playing cards, and enjoyed with conversation. It seems every time the family gets together there is a lot of food. Audrey and I decided to learn to make a great snack food out of the cute pumpkins she found during our farm tour.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

  • Raw pumpkin seeds
  • Butter
  • Seasoning
Remove seeds from pumpkin. Try to get as much icky stuff off as possible. Toss seeds in melted butter and season. Bake for 45 minutes at 350°F, stirring occasionally.

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Help dig out seeds
  2. Shake seeds in butter
  3. Season
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Rinse seeds
  3. Bake
I was more of a helper with this task. Audrey loved the idea of getting the seeds out. I think it was absolute curiosity. She likes to know what is in things. The only way I was able to cut the pumpkins was by telling her there were seeds inside. These are going in the freezer (minus a few for lunches) to give as a treat during the holidays. By the way, I did not use the seeds from the floor. I felt we had enough from our main pumpkin and did not want to pick the others up. I just swept them up when the task was over. Maurene did get to help, which is all she wanted.


October 6 White Chocolate Pretzels

One of the easiest gifts to make is one dipped in melted chocolate. Audrey and I decided to try mini pretzels. I have to admit that I got the idea when I picked up the package of candy coating and there was a picture of dipped pretzels on the front. There is no harm in taking the easy way. Time has been a bit limited since I have been working part time and I have not been able to get to as much kitchen time as I would like. So, the idea from the package works:
White Chocolate Pretzels

  • White chocolate candy coating
  • Mini pretzels
  • Colored sprinkles
Follow the directions for melting the chocolate. I used the microwave method since I was cooking with a toddler. Cover a baking sheet with wax paper or parchment paper. Once chocolate is melted dip the pretzels and place them on the baking sheet. This is a messy job. I recommend keeping a wet cloth handy as the chocolate hardens quickly. Sprinkle pretzels with your favorite colored sugars. We used red and green as we will be giving these as gifts.

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Stir chocolate as it melts
  2. Dip pretzels
  3. Add sprinkles
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Melt chocolate
  3. Keep baby from double dipping pretzels
This last task of mine was the hardest. If you follow the blog you might have noticed a few more pictures with Maurene included recently. This is because she has learned to scream if I do not let her help. Most tasks are geared toward Audrey so it is usually alright to let a one year old help. Maurene is pretty astute and can tell what needs to be done by watching Audrey. Stay tuned to see if Maurene takes over Audrey's job as sous chef. Audrey retains that title currently. The last picture will explain why.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What's for Lunch Wednesday, Banana Dogs

Lunches have not gotten better but I have decided it is alright to have plain looking meals as long as the girls like them. Any time I am able I have Audrey help me pack them so they are not going to get prettier any time soon. Banana Sandwiches.
Happy banana dogs

Check out all of the other fun lunches at What's For Lunch Wednesday.

October 5 Gingerbread Cookies

At the end of each holiday season I try to make it to the stores to see what is on sale. January I was shopping through the holiday discounts and found a mix of gingerbread cookies with a cute little spatula tied to the package. I wanted the spatula for Audrey and the price was right. Recently, with a kitchen makeover, the cookie mix, minus the coveted kitchen utensil, was moved to an Audrey level. She has asked to make the "present" cookies several times. With our holiday gift focus I thought this was the perfect time. You could make them from scratch almost as easy.
Gingerbread Cookies

  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/8 cup butter, softened
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
In a medium bowl, mix together the molasses, brown sugar, water and butter until smooth. Combine the flour, baking soda, allspice, ginger, cloves and cinnamon, stir them into the wet mixture until all of the dry is absorbed. Cover the dough and chill for at least 3 hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out into desired shapes. Place cookies 1 inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from the cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.

Since Audrey did not actually make these cookies I am not going to post tasks. What I will give instead are a few photos of the fun.

I entered this post in the Tasty Tuesday Blog Hop. Check out the other entries, they look great!