VALENTINE TREATS

February Recipe: Sweetheart Pretzel Sticks

To celebrate Valentine’s Day and share a homemade treat with loved ones, your children can make these easy, delicious, chocolate treats.

Ingredients:   I bag of pretzel rods, chocolate morsels, chopped nuts, sprinkles, coconut or whatever toppings you prefer, waxed paper.

Note: (An adult needs to be on hand to monitor use of the microwave for melting the chocolate morsels.)

  1. Place morsels in a microwave-safe dish. Cook on high for 1-2 minutes. Remove and stir. If morsels need more melting, return them the microwave for 30 second intervals until they are melted.
  2. Dip one end of the pretzel rod into the melted chocolate until about 1/3 of it is covered. Place on the waxed paper covered cookie sheet.
  3. Then sprinkle your topping onto the chocolate covered section.
  4. Allow them to harden before wrapping into plastic bags to give as gifts. (For a quicker set time: Pop the logs into the refrigerator for an hour.)

FYI: Not only does chocolate taste great, it actually is good for us. Swiss researchers have found that the polyphenols in dark chocolate curb the body’s output of stress hormones. This helps prevent high blood pressure, racing heart rate, and shallow breathing that can lead to anxiety. Regular consumption of cocoa can also improve physical endurance by 50% due to compounds in it that encourage cell’s ability to convert glucose to energy. Dark chocolate IN SMALL QUANTITIES works best.

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! 

Festive Nuts Recipe + New Years Eve Traditions From Around the World.

If you need a last minute snack or treat to bring to a party, try this EASY recipe for FESTIVE NUTS. The kids can help, since it is mostly measuring and stirring.  The spices give the nuts a nice tang, and they are not too sweet.  You can adjust the sugar to suit your own tastes as well.  Try using all kinds of nuts – I used ALMONDS and WALNUTS.

Ingredients: 2015-12-21-01-32-13FOR 8 OZ. of NUTS:

1/3 C sugar, 1/2 t. each of the following: nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves.  Set aside.

IN a second bowl, combine an egg white and the nuts and stir until nuts are coated:   2015-12-21-01-36-34

 

Now toss the nuts with the sugar-spice mixture until coated.

Spread nuts on a baking sheet, separating them as much as possible.

2015-12-21-01-39-23 BAKE for 15 minutes.  Scrape up the nuts and break apart.  Return to the oven for 5 more minutes to dry them completely.

Let them cool to room temperature.  Serve with dried cherries, cranberries, or other dried fruit.

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While the nuts are baking – or while you’re EATING them, take a look at some of the ways people around the world celebrate NEW YEAR’S EVE..

http://www.redtedart.com/new-years-eve-traditions-around-world/

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL, and to quote a well-known Vulcan: MAY YOU LIVE LONG AND PROSPER!

Keeping Kids Busy During the Holidays.

With all the excitement and preparation that takes place BEFORE the holidays, our kids often seems to bounce around, get bored, or underfoot.  If you’ve exhausted the usual “let’s decorate or bake together” options, try some of the great activities found on the BuzzFeed website:

https://www.buzzfeed.com/karstenschmehl/parenthacks?bffbtasty&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Parents%20115&utm_content=Parents%20115+CID_c09d605cdb68bccd3579e75dd3333d69&utm_source=BuzzFeed%20Newsletters&utm_term=.pjeLxyXY7#.ftrXAdLmp

Here is also a quick and EDIBLE Gingerbread Play Dough option that kids will love.  This recipe comes from Hannah Holt at Lightbulb Books:

Gingerbread Playdough

Ingredients

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
1 packet unsweetened orange […]

You may view the latest post at:  (It also includes a recipe for peppermint snow
http://www.lightbulbbooks.com/blog/2016/12/two-holiday-playdough-recipes-peppermint-snow-and-gingerbread/

Hannah Holt
hannah@lightbulbbooks.com
 

THINGS TO BE THANKFUL FOR.

As we approach another Thanksgiving, I am reminded that for all the uncertainty and turmoil throughout the world, I have blessings worth celebrating this Thanksgiving Season.  Love of family and friends. Food for my family, and the resources to provide food for those in need.  Good health, employment.  And those “free” things we always take for granted: sunshine, water, kindness, helping hands, laughter, love.

Here’s to counting our blessings this Thanksgiving…for me, they far outweigh the trouble.  Here’s a simple recipe for a breakfast or brunch treat that can be made ahead and frozen until ready to eat.  Let the kids help and be part of the celebration.

APPLESAUCE CARROT MUFFINS             applesauce-arrot-walnut-muffins

3/4 C sugar    1/4 C oil (I used coconut, but you can use whatever you choose).

2 C unsweetened applesauce            1 C shredded carrots         3 eggs.

Mix these ingredients together until blended.   Set aside.

Dry Ingredients: 

2 C flour ( I use a mix of oat flour, whole wheat and white).  2 tsp baking soda, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp each of nutmeg, cloves, ginger.   Ad this to the wet mixture and stir until blended.  Optional:  Add one C chopped walnuts and/or diced apple.

Pour into paper lined muffin pans.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Makes about 16 muffins.

While they’re baking, here is a link to some great books that teach kids how to be thankful.

http://www.readbrightly.com/books-that-show-kids-what-it-means-to-be-thankful/?ref=PRH0563577803&aid=randohouseinc13256-20&linkid=PRH0563577803&cdi=2AEB03AD52D94BE9E0534FD66B0A7FAD

May your blessings be many this holiday season! 

 

Shiela Fuller Gets Corn-Y.

CORN FOR ALL SEASONS:  by Shiela Fuller

Originally cultivated in Mexico, corn was transported back to European countries by early explorers.  It was a plant that had the ability to thrive in a variety of climates, turning corn into a versatile crop.

In the northeast, corn is planted in spring after the last frost for a mid-summer harvest, but corn, in its many forms is enjoyed year round.

img_9853SUMMER 

Purchase whole corn on the cob from local farm markets or roadside stands. Bring it home, boil the water while you husk the corn. Drop the whole cob in the rolling water for about 4 minutes.  Carefully remove, and smear with grass-fed butter.  The quicker the corn goes from field to pot, the sweeter it will taste as corn loses it sweetness over time.

There are so many fun corn recipes to try. Here are a few suggestions to google:

*Make homemade salsa.  So easy, especially with added peppers, onion, and tomatillo, all fresh from the farm market. Don’t forget the corn chips!

*Grate corn off the cob, saute, and add to pasta.

*Make creamed corn. I’m sure it’s better than canned.

*Grill corn in husks on a BBQ or open fire.

AUTUMN

By September, the farmers sometimes offer the entire corn stalk for sale.  Tie a bunch up with some twine and tie it securely to a post.  Add a pumpkin or some raked up leaves, and have an instant fall decoration.  You may also find a variety of multi colored, dried corn cobs, also called Indian corn, for hanging on a front door.   If there are young children at home, perhaps a craft making Indian corn with bubble wrap would appeal to them.   http://www.notimeforflashcards.com/2008/11/lend-me-your-ear.html

Autumn days are sometimes spectacular and a good way to enjoy weather is at a local corn maze. 

http://www.cornmaze.com/Pages/Corn%20Maze%20Cornfield%20Maze.aspx   The older kids will love running around and “getting lost”.

WINTER

With everyone at school or work, winter is the time to think about comfort foods and what is more comforting than old-fashioned corn bread cooked in a cast iron skillet.   In Crescent Dragonwagon’s book, The Cornbread Gospels, there is a fabulous recipe, Sylvia’s Ozark Cornbread, so easy, Dragonwagon states, “…you could eat it daily.”    

Popped corn is fun no matter the season but have you ever popped it on a stove? As an after school snack, it’s easy and clean-up is quick.  Tastier than microwave versions and healthier, too, popping corn is different than the variety eaten off the cob but easily purchased at any grocery store.  http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/perfect_popcorn/

After the popping is complete add your favorite topping such as butter, salt, tamari or grated cheese. 

SPRING

Spring is a time for renewal. The farmers are thinking about preparing their land to support the summer corn plot.  The seeds planted may have been saved from the previous year crop or purchased from a supplier. Each kernel on a cob of corn has the potential to be a new corn plant.  

Home gardeners can plant corn, too.  Browse the seed catalogs and choose heritage or heirloom varieties that will resist pests and require less need for chemicals of any sort.  In the catalogs you will also find useful information on the specifications of growing corn. You also can save seeds and learn more about it at www.seedsavers.org

https://kidsongs.com/lyrics/the-muffin-man.html/      Perhaps renew a time from your own past and share this traditional English nursery rhyme with the young children in your life.  And if you’re interested to know more about the muffin man and how he came about, read the Wikipedia article:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Muffin_Man

Dragonwagon, Crescent, and Andrea Wisnewski. The Cornbread Gospels. New York: Workman, 2007. Print.

Fun websites if kids are interested in learning more about corn:

http://kids.britannica.com/comptons/art-53137/At-the-top-of-a-mature-corn-plant-is-the

http://botany.about.com/od/PlantAnatomyAndMorphology/a/The-Anatomy-Of-Corn.htm

Johanna Staton, Me, Shiela Fuller at one of the NJSCBWI events.

Johanna Staton, Me, Shiela Fuller at one of the NJSCBWI events.

Peach Raspberry Galette

My local farmer’s market has had a wonderful and delicious peach season this year.  And, there are still plenty of peaches to enjoy before the season ends in a few weeks.  Here is a simple –  and tasty – dessert that is not too sweet or fatty.  You can enjoy it as is  or with a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt or ice cream.

PEACH RASPBERRY GALETTE

For this recipe you will need enough dough for a single crust pie.  Instead of pressing the dough into the pan, You will fill it with the mixture of:

  • 4-5 Cups of peeled, sliced peaches, 1 C fresh or frozen raspberries, 1T of sugar, dash of cinnamon, and 1T of flour.  Mix these together until the peaches are coated.  Pour into the crust and gather the crust around the fruit, crimping and folding as you go , to hold in the fruit.     2015-08-19 23.07.42See photo at below.

 

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until crust is browned and peaches are tender.  Set aside to cool before serving.

You can enjoy it as is, or ala mode.  Experiment with different fruit combinations as well.  Easier than pie, but with the same satisfying comfort food appeal.

2015-08-20 00.31.16

Make Some Blackberry Jam.

My local farmer’s market has a bumper crop of blackberries this time of year.  Many markets even offer a “Pick your own” option.  While the berries are perfectly delicious to eat right out of hand, they are also yummy to have year round.  You can have the “taste of summer” by getting the kids together to make some homemade blackberry jam.  This recipe is courtesy of my blogging friend Katey Howes:  Visit her wonderful blog with reflections on motherhood and all kinds of fun activities for kids: http://www.kateywrites.wordpress.com

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Smash blackberries to make 2 2/3 cups fruit. Put to boil with 2/3 cup water or juice, 3 TBSP low-sugar pectin. When it boils, add up to a cup of sugar (or equivalent of no sugar sweetener) and a teeny tiny pat of butter. Stir and boil hard for one minute. I just put it up in jars for fridge or freezer, but you can can it by processing filled & sealed jars for 10 minutes. Makes about 5 pints.

How’s that for easy?  Use it on toast, muffins, waffles or as a topping for ice cream.  YUM!