Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Green Muffins {Perfect for Halloween!}

Oh browned and rotten bananas how I love you!

You make the most delicious loaves of banana bread, you twirl up in smoothies like nobody's business and you make a regular chocolate cake taste deliciously moist.

If only I could learn to eat you before you turn brown and mushy, I would save a lot of time because I wouldn't have to bake you up. Somehow, you keep getting me to buy you, even though I know I will never eat you as a fruit, only as a dessert or muffin.

Enter these muffins. Deliciously moist, filled with a lot of healthy ingredients, and still tasty for the kids! Call them Frankenstein muffins, call them shamrock muffins, whatever fits! These are easy and packed with goodness. My kids loved them for Halloween!

Green Muffins
Makes 12-16 muffins depending on how full you fill the cups

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup sugar
2  tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup melted butter (or coconut oil, melted for a vegan option)
3/4 cup buttermilk (or almond milk for a vegan option)
6 oz of fresh spinach
2 bananas, mashed
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with liners. In a large bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In a food processor, combine butter (or oil), buttermilk (or almond milk) and spinach. Pulse until mixture is thoroughly combined and thick. Add in bananas and vanilla extract and pulse again until bananas are completely mashed and incorporated. Add wet ingredients to dry and fold in just until combined. Do not over mix. I use an ice cream scoop to fill the muffin cups. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes in the pan. Remove and cool on a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for two days, or freeze muffins in a freezer safe container for up to one month.

They work for St. Patrick's Day too!
What is your favorite Halloween food?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Homemade Ranch Dip

So there is not much that my kids won't dip into ranch dressing--carrots, cumbers, chicken nuggets-you name it! I have always been searching for a great "from scratch" ranch dip and dressing recipe, but had never found one that was the perfect mix of spices...until now.

This one is absolutely perfect! Fresh and delicious, it whips up quickly, and is perfectly tasty. Kids will love it-and grown ups will too. It is really versatile as well-it can be made into a dip, and a dressing as well.

Want to give it a try? Head on over to Little Lake County and take a look at my monthly Kids in the Kitchen with Girl and Her Kitchen feature. You can find this delicious ranch dip recipe there!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Stuffed Baked Apples

So, recently I took some fruit... and made it bad.
Well...the good bad. You know what I mean.
I took some really big honeycrisp apples and I stuffed them.
I stuffed them with a buttery crumb topping, bathed them in apple cider and baked them.
You are probably thinking...well, that doesn't sound that bad...
Well, then I went and smothered them in vanilla ice cream.
Oh...did I mention how I drizzled caramel on top of that?
I probably went too far, but...

Stuffed Baked Apples

4 large Honeycrisp apples
2/3 cup oats
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/3 cup softened butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups apple cider
Ice Cream (optional)
Caramel (optional)

Core apples part of the way, leaving the apple intact and the bottom in place. Mix oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a bowl. Add softened butter and vanilla and mix well until mixture is clumped together. Divide the crumb mixture in fourths and stuff each apple. Pour apple cider over apples. Bake 40 minutes or until the apples are soft, but not mushy. Serve with ice  cream or caramel if desired.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Halloween Glam Pumpkins

Every couple of months a group of girlfriends and I get together at my house for a crafting afternoon (this  turns into every couple of weeks during the holiday season). I usually get all the supplies and prep work done beforehand and my girlfriends happily bring their money, goodies to share, and sometimes kiddos for a play date while the mommies play.

Last Halloween, this was the craft I chose, and rightfully named them Glam Pumpkins. Orange and black are great for Halloween, but sometimes a girl needs a little GOLD. These pumpkins are a cinch to do and come together quickly. This is a great project to do with friends because you can get a couple of sets of pumpkins with just one long 4x4 board. The heights and colors of the pumpkins are completely up to you. Some of the ladies wanted their pumpkins taller with orange and cream, some wanted brown and orange. They are great as center pieces, placed on mantles, or floors. They are also a great addition to the front porch.

Wood:  4x4 board for the blocks (the length of the board I used was 9 ft, allowing me to cut multiple sets) and 1x1 board for the stems.
Sand Paper: I used a light/medium grit. You're just lightly smoothing.
Paint: acrylic craft paint. I chose antique white and gold.
Paint Brushes and Sponges: I used a large paint brush and a circular sponge for the dots
Painters Tape: Choose the width of the tape to coordinate with the width you want for your stripes etcs.
Glue Gun and Glue
Polyacrylic/polyurethane: I used a spray poly. This is especially important if your pumpkins are going to be on the front porch and in the elements. I find that polyurethanes will yellow over time, so be careful in selecting your spray. Use a polyacrylic if you can find it!

Let's do this!

1. Cut blocks and stems. I cut the 4x4 into an 11in, 8in, and 5in lengths. Cut three stems from the 1x1 at 3in. This can be done at your hardware store or at home if you have a chop-saw.

2. Sand blocks to desired texture. I lightly sanded the blocks where the cuts were made and that was about it.

3. Paint all blocks the background color you want them. I used antique white. Let this dry before you try and tape off for your stripes or chevron. If you're in a hurry, use your hair dryer! While you're waiting for your blocks to dry, paint your stems.

4. Tape off your wood. You can employ a ruler and pencil if you want it just right. I used a round sponge to make the circles. I love how it left the edges a little uneven. Let this dry. If you are super careful you can remove the tape before it dries, if your worried you'll smudge, just leave it till its dry and then take it off. Feel free to bedazzle with glitter or gems with a little modpodge.

5. Plug in your lava maker(glue gun), yes when I was twelve my older sister Hannah shot hot glue across our dining room table and onto my hand. I have the scar to prove it. Glue your stems to the top of your blocks, I angled my stems so the sides and corners were opposite of the blocks corners and sides.

6. Now if you want a little more worn/antique look you can sand the edges prior to spraying with your polyacrylic or add a dark gel stain to the edges. I did this with a set I made for my mom's country house. The pumpkins were orange and cream with brown steams and were cut to longer lengths so the tallest was 18in instead of 11in. Perfect height if they are on the floor or a front porch. If you're satisfied with your work, take it outside (I set it on an old sheet or tarp) and spray two coats of polyacrylic/polyurethane allowing it dry between coats.

7. Add a little glam to your porch or mantle with your completed pumpkins.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

{Halloween} Crafting : Home of the "Wicked Witch"

Fall is in full swing and here’s a fun way to add a little something to the front porch.  I happen to have a couple of little monsters running around and find myself occasionally resembling the "Wicked Witch" after a long hard day of craziness, so it's fitting for me.  (I'm sure none of you moms know what I'm talking about, right?! HA!!)

Here are the directions, which you probably don’t even need. This is just a fun, rough, Halloween craft so I was going for more character, and less symmetry and perfection. But by all means do what makes you happy:)

Step 1- Trip to your favorite home improvement store for wood and paint
(I had some paint on hand from another project)
I grabbed a large piece of plywood 4ftX4ft.  It was some where around $10.  And I had them just cut it right in half.
*My amazingly wonderful friend Erin wanted to do this project as well so my wood was $5. I put another sign on the back we will be featuring at Christmas time so really it was like I spent $2.50 per sign.  Not bad!!!

Step 2- Paint the board black. (I used some black spray paint I had on hand)  I didn’t even bother sanding, but you can if you choose.   

Step 3- I measured and drew light lines with pencil across my board once I determined the spacing I wanted. There is no right way here.

Step 4- Pencil in words.  Just as a rough outline.  Once you begin painting you can make them bigger or smaller, but it's just nice to have an idea.

Step 5- Using white acrylic paint and a small paint brush or sponge paint your words. 

Step 6- Optional - Spray or paint a Poly acrylic seal coating if you are worried about it getting wet.  I omitted that step because my sign isn’t featured where that may be a problem. 

And...That’s it.  Easy right?

Happy crafting!