Valentine’s Day Treat for Kids!

Valentine’s is for kids too!!

As a kid, my parents never did anything for us for Valentine’s Day. Not a card or chocolate. My friends got little gifts or a card. It’s probably why I don’t get overly crazy about Valentine’s Day for my significant other. (Sorry ol’ man!) As a mother though, I have always given Ms. Autumn a small token. Nothing extravagant; but a little something as a reminder of how much I love her. A lot of times, we go on a date to the movies. Conveniently for her, SpongeBob is out.

Does anyone else go on a one-on-one date with their kids? Not just on Valentine’s Day, but throughout the year?  The ol’ man and I have a date jar that I made for him last year. All I did was paint craft sticks. After they dried, I wrote a date idea on each one stick. When we are stuck for a date idea, (not that we have a whole lot of time to date these days), we pull one from the jar. The jar? Just a Mason jar that I made pretty with ribbon.  If you want to differentiate a winter date, from a summer, you could paint the tip white.  So the whole point of telling you that I’m lame and can’t think of date ideas off the top of my head, is that you could do it for the kids too.  They don’t have to be expensive, it’s just so you can have alone time with your little one; just like your adult relationship.

  • Cook a meal together, have them help plan a healthy menu
  • Zoo, museum or aquarium
  • Go out to breakfast
  • Have movie night at home with popcorn. In the living room. ( in my house, that in itself is a treat)
  • Go sledding or build a snowman, and then treat yourselves to hot cocoa
  • Surprise them by taking the day off work, spend the day at the beach, or park with a picnic
  • Feed the ducks
  • Go to the local ice cream shoppe for frozen yogurt or milkshake
  • Mani/Pedi’s at home or out at the spa
  • Lunch at a restaurant of their choice
  • Take a class at the gym together
  • Go to a college sporting event or the high school play
  • Farmer’s Market!!
  • Try a new restaurant, pretend you guys are food critics
  • Game night, with actual board games. Yes, just like Santa and M&M’s, they do exist
  • Go to the local coffee shop or bakery, share a treat
  • Slumber party in the living room
  • Snuggle on the couch and watch a favorite TV show or a series on NetFlix

One of Autumn and my favorite things to do is to go to dinner at Wegmans (strange right?!) and get a small container of their soup from the soup bar and share a bagel. We sit in the Cafe and chat.  With three kids in the house, work, school, cooking, cleaning, homework, blogging..everything is always so hectic, sometimes is nice to reconnect with just her.

Enough of parenting 101.  Especially since I have no idea what I’m talking about.  Let’s get to the good stuff!  This recipe is from Ree Drummond. It looks daunting, but it really isn’t.  I think because it has a lot of ingredients, it seems more complicated than it is.  And the reason I’m putting this in the “Valentine’s” category? Chocolate.  The bottom of these granola bars are dipped in chocolate. Makes it a little bit naughty, it a good way, not like a 50 Shades sort of way. Depending on your 50 Shades opinion, of course. Either way, it’s a delicious, healthyish, treat for Valentine’s Day!!  A little side note, I omitted the pecans, and added extra almonds. I used generic rice crispies, a little extra vanilla and used the release foil so I didn’t have to do extra greasing 😉

Granola Bars

  • 6 C Rolled oats (not Quick oats)
  • 4 Tbsp Butter, melted, plus some for greasing
  • 1/4 C Vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 C Brown sugar
  • 1/2 C Honey
  • 1/4 C Apple juice
  • 1/4 C Molasses
  • 3 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1.5 C Rice Krispies
  • 1 C Wheat Germ
  • 1/2 C Finely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 C Roughly chopped Almonds
  • 8 oz. Milk Chocolate  or chocolate almond bark, melted (I used semi-sweet chocolate chips)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. In a large bowl, toss the oats with the canola oil, melted butter and salt.  Spread the mixture out on 2 baking sheets and toast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, shaking the pan twice and making sure they don’t burn. (Mental note, they will burn, and it stinks, so keep close eye on them).  Remove from oven and set aside.
  3. Reduce heat to 325°F
  4. In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, honey, apple juice, and molasses.  Heat the mixture slowly, stirring until combined. Stir in the vanilla.
  5. Toss together the toasted oats, rice cereal, wheat germ, pecans and almonds in a large bowl. Pour in the sugar mixture, stirring as you pour. Toss to combine; it’s sticky.
  6. Press into 1 baking sheet, thoroughly greased with butter, or line pan with foil and grease foil) and bake until golden, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.  Cut pieces with a sharp knife and remove from pan.
  7. Dip the cooled granola bars straight in the melted chocolate so the top is plain and the bottom is chocolate-covered. Set on parchment until set or sticking in the fridge to hurry the process.
  8. Perfect for date night 😉  Kids or adults!

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Our Elf and some snowmen!

This is Twinkle.

Elf

At first, she was fun. I had a calendar with ideas of what Twinkle would be doing on which day. She kept the little one in check with Santa. Now, a few years later, she is just a pain in the ass.

Me: Autumn, do I really need to do the Elf this year?

Autumn: Yes of course!

Me: Why?

Autumn: I love to see what kind of shenanigans she can get into!

Translation?  I want to see how much more work I can make mom do before I push her over the edge.  I was on Pinterest today looking for Elf  ideas, and I found myself suspiciously pinning just cocktails. Coincidence?  Probably not; just subconscious wishing.  I already forgot last night to change her up a little.  Day. 2. Back in the day, I would get up out of bed to change her whereabouts.  The good news?  Hopefully I will be posting some new cocktails soon!

How’s your tree looking? It’s funny how you don’t see how screwed up the lights are until you take a picture and see huge holes of nothingness.  Yeah..there needs to be some readjusting before we go on Facebook with it.  But to help fill those holes, Autumn and I made some ornaments.  Simple-ish. They just need time for drying.  With these, all you need is imagination.  Yes, eventually we needed the glue gun.  We tried the Elmer’s, and it just wasn’t sticking.

Snowmen Ornaments

  • Clear, plastic ornaments (I think they were like $0.96 at Wal-Mart)
  • Craft Paint: White, black, and orange
  • School glue (Elmer’s)
  • Glitter (the fine, powdery glitter, in white)
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Pom poms
  • Wiggle eyes
  1. Take out the ornament hanger thingy.
  2. Pour white paint on the inside of the ornament.  Swirl around to make sure it covers all of the inside.
  3. Leave upside down over small dixie cups, this holds them in place and helps it drain the excess paint into a contained space while it dries.
  4. When dry or at least sufficiently not drippy, on the outside, paint on a little Elmer’s glue. Sprinkle with glitter. Let dry.
  5. When dry, glue on the pipe cleaner, the pom poms (to look like ear muffs).  Stick on the wiggly eyes, and paint on the face.  We tried the school glue for the pipe cleaner and pom poms. It just didn’t hold.  When Ms. A fell asleep, I took out the glue gun.  Shhhhh our secret.  I think I actually had to hot glue the wiggly eyes too.
  6. Let dry in cup.  That little cup came in handy!!  Put back in the ornament hanger thingy and hang gently on the tree.  Where there should be light.

snowmanfun

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Boo!

I have never heard first hand what a dying moose sounds like, but I’m pretty sure it sounds like my daughter playing the French horn.  Of course she only knows 5 notes, so I should cut her some slack.  As it is, I’m the worst mother ever (this time) because she had to get shots yesterday. Why am I the bad guy?  I didn’t actually give them to her! I blamed the doctor. Poor thing got one in each arm.  She tried to hold back the tears in front of the nurse.  On our way out, as one little tear fell down her cheek, I’m telling her to suck it up because the shot feels better than the flu, and certainly better than getting cervical cancer. OMG..maybe I am the worst mother ever! I did give her a cuddle while I was telling her to suck it up.  The tear drop threw me.

Soooooo Happy October!  I love love love October.  It’s my favorite month. The colored leaves, the crisp air, pumpkins and apples and all things spooky.  Hocus Pocus?  I don’t even need to go on.

Along with fall comes some great game day recipes!!  I would totally graze all of Sunday if given the chance! These little sandwiches are quick, simple, and super delicious.  The recipe was from the Gooseberry Patch 5-Ingredient cookbook. These mini sandwiches got a 3-kid thumbs up.  The ol’ man liked them too of course, but he likes everything, so he doesn’t count. Game day, weeknight dinner, Halloween party, this is a great recipe.  Now, this recipe may or may not have come with a little white lie for the kids.  Oh please simmer down, like you haven’t fudged the truth, just a little. I already know I’m the worst mother ever. Might as well at least earn the title.  But here’s the situation. OK, if I had mentioned “mango chutney”, NONE of them, including the ol’ man would have even tried it.  DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT volunteer any ingredient information, until asked.  I’m not promoting lying to the little bastards. I’m a full believer in Karma. I’m calling it creative marketing. When asked, (the little one always asks, because she wants to be a chef) it was a sweet mustardish sort of sauce.  It worked.  And a few days later, I told Ms. Autumn the truth., because as a chef, you must appreciate all kinds of food.

 

Monster Meatball Sandwiches

  • 32                   Frozen meatballs, bite-sized
  • 9 oz Jar         Mango Chutney
  • 1 C                  Chicken broth
  • 16                   Dinner rolls
  • 16 oz Jar       Sweet-hot pickle sandwich relish  (I just used sweet relish because I could not find this. In Wegmans. I could not find. Therefore, it does not exist.)
  1. Stir together the meatballs, chutney and chicken broth in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 25-30 minutes.
  3. Cut rolls vertically through top, cutting to, but not through bottom.
  4. Place 2 meatballs in each roll.  Top with relish

Monstermeatballsand

 

Looking for an easy fall project?  With kids?

boo

 

Cute right?  I just picked up the letters at A.C. Moore, painted them with the generic paint and tied them together with the raffia.  The kids painted the O’s, I did the B.  It was fun!!

This is not an assignment..I repeat..this is not an assignment!!

 

If you’re questioning the title, I’ve been going to “Blog University 101”.  All week they have been giving various assignments, and others give feed back.  It’s been extremely helpful.

Easter. Thankfully it doesn’t cost nearly as much as Christmas.  Materialistic, I know, but total reality.  For all holidays, we are very family focused! That’s good, right?!  This year is a little different for us though, as Mommy killed the dream of the Easter bunny, by way of Santa Claus. .  Well, if Autumn didn’t already really know the answer, she wouldn’t have asked. Anyway, now she knows that I have been filling the baskets, the stocking and the tooth fairy does not wear a tutu while putting money under the pillow. Yeah…meanest Mommy EVER.

Amazingly enough, I do not cook for Easter.  We go to out to brunch!  I love brunch.  I actually like the “unch” part of brunch better. I am in the minority on that amongst the gang. Eh, everyone wins with brunch.

If you are lucky enough to be cooking, these little babies are easy and awesome!!  I just made them for a baby shower. They were a huge hit! And did I mention they were easy?  Who cares if they are tasty? EASY is what counts!

Ham-Stuffed Biscuits with Mustard Butter

  • 5 packages of Pillsbury Biscuits (Country Style y’all)
  • Mustard Butter (Recipe following)
  • 2lbs  Thinly sliced deli ham (I used maple flavored)
  1. Bake biscuits according to directions on package.  I mean if you have your Grams super fantastical biscuit recipe, by all means use that.  I’m busy and Pillsbury does such a great job!
  2. Split each biscuit, and spread evenly with Mustard Butter.  Stuff biscuits with ham.

Mustard Butter

  • 1 cup            Butter, softened
  • 2 Tbsp.         Minced Sweet Onion
  • 2 Tbsp.        Spice brown mustard
  1. Stir together all ingredient until blended.

hamstuffedbiscuit

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It tastes better than it looks!

 

Happy Tuesday!  It seems like it’s been  while since I’ve posted.  I mean, I had a post started. I came back, I looked at it, went to Pinterest.

Life has been interesting here in our lovely “blended family” household.  Autumn is a little more on edge this week. It’s the start of state testing this week in English.  It’s the first state test for the little one. She’s been scared of this test since first grade!  Poor thing. What she doesn’t realize is these tests are designed to “grade” the teachers, not the students.  The math state test is next month. She informed me that “she’s got that”.

I spent a better part of Saturday upset with the oldest, as she’s been lying about homework, and her grades.  Then I shifted the frustration to the ol’ man who doesn’t do anything about it. Well, she’s going to have a difficult time getting into a college with a 46% in English!!  And then what???  GGGRRR! And I’m the bad guy!!  He and I  have a different way of looking at education. Eh, it’s just one more thing to work through.

How do you cope with your frustrations with a 15yo? I did a little crafting. Picture frame, chalk board paint, and before you know it, you have a chore chart. Because if you’re not going to do your homework, you might as well do chores. Which I’m learning quickly, a chart makes no difference. But the concept is nice!

projectcollage And I don’t know what I hit, but I CAN’T READ ANYTHING!!! The font is like a 4.

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Chocolate, Valentine’s and oh yeah Chocolate, yummmm!

Heeellloooo again!  It’s been a while since I’ve posted.  I had a couple of drafts here and there, but nothing completed or posted. I’m stressed and I’m a slacker. Very important to note that I’m both, not one or the other. The last draft was in regards to the over-rated Valentine’s Day, in which my absolute favorite part is the chocolate. Definitely a chocoholic, and without a doubt, I have the hips to prove it. Circle back, stress.  See how that worked?

The kids were off this week, and we accomplished nothing. I supposed in their defense, the two that aren’t really mine, but sort of are since I give them shelter, actually spent time with their mother. The one that is mine for real, spent most of her time attached to my leg. Hard to get things done when you have an extra 60lbs hanging around. Gotta love them!

Well, my original plan was to blog about Valentine’s Day, give a little history about it, and end the post with some awesome chocolate recipes. As you can see, I’m about 2 weeks late. So we are scratching the history of Valentine’s Day, and heading right to the recipes! For my work party, I made Ree Drummond’s Dark Chocolate Brownies and from Pinterest made little heart candy white chocolate suckers. Which in theory could be used for Christmas since they are made with candy canes.  

Dark Chocolate Brownies

  • 1C            Butter
  • 5oz          Unsweetened Chocolate (like from a bar)
  • 1/4 C      Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 2C            Sugar
  • 1Tbs        Vanilla
  • 3               Large Eggs, whole
  • 1 1/4 C    Flour
  • 3/4 C       Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • Powdered sugar for sifting

1. Preheat oven to 350*F

2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter with the unsweetened chocolate over low heat, whisking occasionally until smooth and melted. Sprinkle in cocoa powder and whisk to combine. Remove the pan from heat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.

3. Stir in sugar and vanilla, until just combined. (looks a little grainy..but that’s ok)

4. One at a time, stir in the eggs.

5. Gently stir in the flour until halfway combined. Add the chocolate chips and stir until just mixed.

6. Pour batter, and it will be thick, into a greased 8×8 or 9×13 baking dish. Spread evenly. Bake for 40 minutes, then check the brownies with a toothpick. If it’s still gooey, return to the oven for another 5 minutes, then check again etc.

7. Cool. Completely. I’ve made these twice. It’s important to let them cool. They will seem too gooey if you don’t let them chill for a while.

8. Enjoy with a glass of milk. They are so rich and delicious.

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Football, Balloons, and Food!!

Every year my daughter and I have a Super Bowl party. It’s a tradition that we have had since my divorce. It’s just her and I, a ton of food and the big game. We pick the team we want to win. I buy decorations in their colors. And then we plan a menu. This very intense process takes just about 2 weeks. I want to keep it healthy. She likes junk, “cause it’s a party you know, Mom!”  So there’s a lot of recipe sifting and compromise. I like to try new a new recipe each year. We always repeat the good recipe from the year before.

After an entire afternoon of cooking, baking and decorating, this is how it turned out.

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This year’s menu:

Hawaiian Kielbasa, White Pizza Dip (with crackers and homemade tortillas), popcorn, cupcakes, and cherry cheesecake shooters with Punch. (virgin, naturally, although a little vodka would have been delicious with it)! The ol’ man took Oreo Balls to the party he went to.

Autumn decorating the mini cupcakes
Autumn decorating the mini cupcakes
We also took 2 mason jars, painted small rectangles with chalkboard paint for our names!
We also took 2 mason jars, painted small rectangles with chalkboard paint for our names!

The game was lacking, as were the commercials.  Hands down, best commercial was H&M with David “freaking hot” Beckham. The food rocked, and my company was fantastical,  totally making up for the lack of screen entertainment!

Recipes!!

White Pizza Dip

  • 1pkg   Herb and garlic soup mix
  • 16oz   Sour Cream (I used light)
  • 1C       Ricotta cheese
  • 2C      Mozzarella Cheese
  • Pepperoni, as many slices as you like
  • Crackers  (we used Triscuits, Ritz and homemade tortilla chips)

1. Preheat oven to 350*F.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine soup mix, sour cream, ricotta cheese, 1 Cup mozzarella cheese and pepperoni. Transfer to a 1-quart casserole dish. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and pepperoni slices.

3. Bake at 350*F, uncovered for 30 minutes.

Hawaiian Kielbasa

  • 3lbs                 Turkey Kielbasa, cut into 2″ chunks
  • 1-15 oz can  Crushed Pineapple
  • 1-18oz            Bottle your favorite BBQ sauce ( We like Sweet Baby Rays)
  • 1/2 C               Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1Tbsp             Ground ginger
  • 1tsp                 Onion Powder
  • 1tsp                 Garlic Powder

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Mix well. Cover and cook on low for 2 hours or on high for 30 minutes.

Cherry Cheesecake Shooters (original recipe by  my hero Ree Drummond, slightly altered by me)

  • 12                        Whole graham crackers, crushed
  • 2-8oz pkg         Cream cheese
  • 1 Can                  Sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 Can                  Cherry pie filling
  • Chocolate chips  (Ree’s recipe calls for slivered almonds)

1. Spoon graham cracker crumbs into the bottom of mini wine glasses. (we used small appetizer cups).

2. Beat cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk until fluffy.

3. Fill pastry bag with filling.  Pipe filling over graham cracker crumbs. Top filling with a spoonful of cherry pie filling.

4. Top with chocolate chips.

Oreo Cookie Balls

  • 1-8oz pkg         Cream Cheese
  • 36 Oreo Cookies, finely crushed (I used the food processor)
  • 1 .5 bags chocolate chips, melted

1.Mix cream cheese and cookie crumbs until blended.

2. Roll into 48 (1 inch) balls.  Freeze 10 min.

3. Dip balls in melted chocolate, place on waxed paper-lined pan.

4. Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm.

Kisses!

730 Kisses. One for every day we have been dating. Well, it didn’t quite work out to be exactly 730 kisses. I’m sure there was a day or two or 50 that I was pissed at him or out of town that there were no kisses. So it’s pretty exact 🙂  It’s been a crazy couple of years. Even through the craziness I remember our first date like it was yesterday. It was awkward. I remember thinking, “Yep this is going no where. Back to the internet.”  He was pretty persistant about going out again. And honestly, who could not want this cuteness??!!  But I liked his quirkiness..and he was funny, so I went. Again, and yet again. We finally clicked and here we are a couple of years later.  We aren’t a super gifty sort of couple, we have 3 kids after all. They are all the gift we need 😉 So gifts for each other aren’t top of the financial priority list. He wanted the Gilligan’s Island Box set, simple because he thinks Maryann is hot,  and score I found it!! Most importantly of course, is the 730 (give or take) kisses!  I used just an old-style candy jar, ribbon and some scrapbook paper!

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