Hippity Hop-pity, Easter’s on It’s Way: Easter Bunny Garden with Peeps

My Mom always sang us the “Here Comes Peter Cotton Tail” song around this time. And, between her and Grammy, we were sure to have plenty of candy, including Peeps! I honestly don’t think you can have Easter without these sugary, marshmallowy, packages of cuteness.

Yesterday, I needed to make a run for some labels at Dollar Tree and, as I expected, the Easter section sucked me in. Have I ever told you that I’m in love with the Dollar Tree? So many wonderful things only priced at a dollar. I got some extra-fun goodies for Easter baskets so it was a successful trip, especially since I managed to get the labels, which is what I made the trip for.

I also bought some peeps and some gummy carrots. I have been waiting on an opportune time to make “dirt cups” with pudding and some crushed up brownies I had leftover in the freezer for a while. The moment I saw the peeps next to the carrots, I knew it was the perfect time to put these gardens together for the kiddos.

Easter Bunny Garden with PeepsAnna was super excited and helpful with our fun little project. Thank goodness it was an easy one…. although we did have quite a bit of “dirt” on the floor.

We made the chocolate pudding together and processed the brownies. Anna got to scoop the “dirt” (processed brownies crumbs) into the bottom and top of the dishes. Then she got to top the garden off with a gummy carrot and a Peep.  You can use processed Oreos too but I needed to use the brownies and they were tastier than the Oreos I’ve used for this in the past.

Anna’s last job was to lick the bowl. I wish I’d taken a picture of her chocolate-covered face because it was adorable and disgusting at the same time!

Easter Bunny Garden with PeepsEveryone except Kate dug into their cup o’ dirt (She oddly enough doesn’t really like sweets much. It’s mind boggling that she’s mine!). Kate actually spit it out and said “Yuck, dirt!”

Even Garen enjoyed them. Ok, maybe not the Peep or the gummy carrot but he quickly ate the rest of it. The smiles and laughs made it all worth the time…and honestly, this was a pretty easy dessert/craft project. That’s the best of both worlds!

Enjoy!!!

This post is all my own opinions.  I’m not getting a kick-back from Peeps or Dollar Tree.  I just happen to be a satisfied customer.  
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You gonna eat yo cornbread??? Best. Cornbread. Ever.

Every time I cook cornbread, Garen and I have a little giggle over the quote “You gonna eat yo cornbead?” from the movie “Life” with Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence.

Yes, I am ALWAYS going to eat my cornbread.  Every. Time.

Especially if it’s the sweet kind.  I found this wonderfully tasty and easy recipe a while back from Kimber’s blog, The Pinning Mamma, which is fantastic and definetly worth checking out.  The recipe is suitably called Kimber’s Favorite Cornbread.  If you like a sweeter, more moist cornbread, you will LOVE this recipe.  Did I mention it pretty inexpensive too???  The Jiffy boxes are always cheap.  Plus, who can resist using those cute, classic boxes?!?

I’m one of those people that will often times alter a recipe to make it my own.  This one, though, I didn’t because I feel like it’s perfect just the way it is. I did choose to make muffins vs using a pan/dish.  This saved me a few minutes AND it’s easier for serving I think.  Here you go:

Kimber’s Favorite Cornbread

Ingredients 

  • 2 Boxes Jiffy Cornbread
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Can Creamed Corn
  • 2 Tbsp Sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  • Mix all ingredients until combined (I always use my KitchenAid because that’s just what I prefer)
  • Scrape mixture into an 8 x 8 or 2.2qt- 2L (small rectangular Pyrex) glass baking dish that has been sprayed well with cooking spray.  I used my muffin pan.
  • Bake 30-40 minutes or until center is just done.  In my muffin pan, I baked them to 18 minutes but I would say probably 13-20 minutes would be the window, depending on your type of muffin pan.  Mine is a thick non-stick.

There you have it:  Cornbread that will make any dish just a little bit better.  Enjoy!

We ate ours this week with Brunswick Stew- Instant Pot Style and Instant Pot Black Beans.  They didn’t last long.  Yummy!

Brunswick Stew- Instant Pot Style

This recipe was Garen’s request for me to make in the Instant Pot so it was the first recipe that required more than 3 ingredients. I was a little leery since I’d never had Brunswick Stew and didn’t even know what to expect. As I always do when cooking something I don’t have a go-to recipe for, I went to Pinterest. I didn’t find an Instant Pot version I liked but I did find this slow cooker version from Rosie at i heart Recipes. I used this for an “outline” and tweeked it to work for what I had and to cook in the Instant Pot.

This recipe is fantastic. Really. I can’t make it up. Garen thought it was the best recipe I’ve ever made. The littles even liked it, making it even better in my book!!!

I used the Easiest Pulled Pork Ever recipe and shredded chicken that I made earlier in the day for it. You could easily use another recipe or even store-bought pulled pork.

Here it is- Brunswick Stew, Instant Pot Style

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups Pulled Pork
  • 2 Cups shredded chicken
  • 1 Red onion, diced
  • 1 Can Roasted Diced Tomatoes
  • 6 Cups Chicken broth (I substituted 1 cup for juice from the pulled pork to use what I had)
  • Frozen okra, 12 oz
  • Frozen peas, 6 oz (half bag)
  • Frozen corn, 12 oz
  • Frozen lima beans, 12 oz
  • 3 Small sweet potatoes, pealed and cubed
  • 3 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 Cup BBQ sauce (I used half Rudy’s and half Sweet Baby Ray’s since that all I had)
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2-1/2 tsp Seasoning salt
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Black pepper

Instructions:

  • Add all of the ingredients into the 8 qt Instant Pot bowl (if your Instant Pot is smaller, you may have to adjust the recipe to not fill it past the max fill)
  • Mix all ingredients very well
  • Put the lid on, close it completely, and close the vent
  • Press Manual setting and set for 15 minutes. It will take a long time to get pressured because it will be almost to the max fill line. It will shift from On to the number of minutes remaining to cook
  • Once time is up, let it natural release for 10 minutes before opening the lid.  This ensures the meat is tender and juicy.
  • Open the lid. Check to make sure the potatoes are cooked completely. The meat was already cooked so the main thing is that you’re letting the veggies cook and that everything soaked up the wonderful flavors.
  • Enjoy.

Like I said, this stuff is wonderful. It’s not your typical soup/stew and I’m soooo glad Garen wanted me to try this recipe out!

Happy Instant Potting!

Sweet Sunday: Easy Banana Bread

Today I had a few very ripe bananas and decided to make a little tasty treat for the family. My Grammy mailed this recipe to me when I was in college, along with $5 to buy a pound of butter and a loaf pan. Great memories and pretty great recipe too. It seems like we never end up eating all of our bananas before they get too ripe to eat, so this makes me feel better than wasting food. Waste not, want not, right?!? Plus, it makes for a great easy breakfast or snack for the kiddos. 

I cherish the note on the back. Grammy cracked and shelled thousands of pounds of pecans by hand in her lifetime. Almost every single recipe made with pecans was made with “her” pecans- she’d bag pounds each year to keep in the freezer. 

Enough reminiscing. You want the recipe, right?!? Here it is:

Easy Banana Bread

Ingredients:

  • 3 Medium ripe bananas
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/4 Cup Butter, melted
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1-1/2 Cup flour
  • Optional: 1/2 to 1 Cup pecans (I’ve omitted them in these photos because the kids prefer it without- personally, I think it’s better WITH the pecans)

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  • Prepare loaf pan or mini loaf pan (this is what I usually use- 3 out of 4 loafs) using spray of your choice. I like Bakers Choice (or something like that with flour included)
  • I put my ripe bananas in first and turn on my mixer until they’re well beaten. You could mash if you want. 
  • Add sugar, egg, and melted butter. Mix well. 
  • Add salt and baking soda. Mix. 
  • Slowly add flour. 
  • Mix and scrape bottom of bowl to be sure it’s all mixed in. 
  • Pour into either your loaf pan or 3 mini-loaf pans. 
  • If using a loaf pan, bake 40-45 mins or until toothpick comes out clean. If using mini-loaf pans (like my Wilton one pictured above) bake 30 mins. 
  • Cool slightly before removing. 

Enjoy- maybe with a little butter- because everything is better with butter!Yes, I got to enjoy my coffee for about twenty minutes today. It was AMAZING! And the mug…that’s from a Disney trip and my daddy bought it for me because I will always be his princess! Are you hungry yet? I’m trying not to go eat another slice… I keep telling myself, “It’s for the kids. It’s for the kids.” I’m not sure how long that will last. I will say that this is a very kid-approved recipe. Look at that smirk. She almost looks like she got caught in the cookie jar. Truth is- she ate Will’s slice before he had a chance. 

I hope your Sunday was as sweet as ours!

Sunday Sweets: Blonde Brownies

UPDATE: So I guess I really am blonde (pun soooo intended).  I just realized that I’ve already posted this recipe. I guess I thought it was just that good. The post is pretty much the same thing but maybe a little better photos if you want to check it out. Sorry ’bout that folks! Happy baking anyway!

This is one of my very favorite recipes. Here’s why:

  • Super easy
  • I almost always have everything that it calls for
  • Everyone loves them
  • Quick prep and cooking
  • Taste great
  • Who doesn’t like chocolate chips?!?
  • It was a recipe my Grammy made very often and it’s in one of my handwritten cookbooks from her. It originally was from Marty Henkes, a dear family friend.

Enough about why. You probably want to know how to make them. You won’t regret it.



Ingredients
:

  • 2 C Brown Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2/3 C Butter
  • 1/4 tsp soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 C flour
  • 1 small pckg semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cream sugar and butter.
  • Add other ingredients except flour and chocolate chips.
  • Once blended, slowly add flour and mix.
  • Spread batter into greased pan. It will be very thick and it’s ok if it doesn’t go all the way to the side on the pan- it will expand as it bakes.
  • Top the batter with chocolate chips- try to spread them evenly.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  • Cool slightly before cutting into squares.

Enjoy. You better taste one before you serve them because they won’t last long and you may not get one! But beware…it may be hard to stop with just one. I actually think I may let Garen cut them next time just so I don’t sneak too many!

Overnight Blueberry French Toast

This is a recipe that I traditionally make for our Christmas breakfast at home because I can make it the night or day before and also because it’s super easy. It leaves me free to enjoy some coffee before the kids get up while it’s baking. As if that’s not enough, it’s also very versatile. You could use other fruit or even no fruit to suit your family’s tastes (or what you’ve got on hand)

Ingredients for French Toast 

  • 16 slices of day old French bread* cubed (usually about a loaf and a half for me, depending on size)
  • 12 large eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup 
  • 1 tbsp vanilla 
  • 2- 8 oz packages cream cheese cubed
  • 2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen (but thawed)

Ingredients for Blueberry Sauce 

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch 
  • 1 cup blueberries 

Instructions for French Toast the night before:

  • Grease a large casserole dish
  • Cut French bread into cubes, about 1 to 1.5 inches. Put them in the bottom of the dish. 
  • Cube the 1 package of cream cheese into .5 to 1 inch pieces. Layer the pieces on top of the bread cubes, dispersing it evenly. 
  • Sprinkle 1 cup of blueberries on top of the bread and cream cheese. 
  • Repeat layering one time. 
  • In a large bowl, beat eggs. 
  • Add milk, vanilla and syrup to the eggs. Mix thoroughly. 
  • Pour egg mixture evenly over the French toast. 
  • Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. 

Instructions for French Toast the next morning:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  • Remove French toast from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. 
  • Bake covered for 30 minutes. 
  • Uncover and continue baking an additional 30-45 minutes or until baked all the way through. 
  • Remove and top with Blueberry Sauce. See instructions below. 
  • Serve hot. 

Instructions for the Blueberry Sauce:

  • Bring water, sugar, and cornstarch to a boil, stirring constantly. 
  • Add blueberries and bring back to a boil, stirring constantly for 3-4 minutes or until blueberries burst. 
  • Pour the syrup evenly over the baked French toast. 
  • This can be made the night before too. You just need to reheat it before pouring it on the baked French toast. 


*Whenever I’m at the grocery store, I will buy the day old bread and keep it in the freezer for French toast and dressing recipes. You can use almost any type of bread you’ve got on hand. I’ve even used leftover cinnamon rolls to make overnight French toast before. 

This is a family favorite and makes a lot, so it’s great for a crowd or if you want leftovers. It freezes fairly well. I paired it with Cheesy Bacon Quiche but also sometimes do other egg related casseroles to provide some protein and even the sweetness out. 

I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we do! Oh, and Happy New Years Eve!!!

Cooking with Kids: Ham and Cheese Croissants 

Every Saturday that we are home lunch sneaks up on us and I’ve forgotten to plan anything. When this happens, I often think of the options of food we have leftover to be used or eaten. Imagine me standing in front of the fridge looking at my leftovers. 

Yesterday the kids were leaving to go to Jo Daddy’s house for a couple of weeks (they’re lucky enough to have two loving families) and we had almost an entire Sam’s club size package of string cheese that was going to go to waste in their absence. We also had two rolls of croissants and some ham, all of which needed to be used. 

 What did we do? We made Ham and Cheese Croissants! 

The greatest thing about these (besides that they are easy and the kids love them) is that the kids can easily help make them. When they make their own food, they tend to eat better too!

My big helpers sure wanted to eat the ingredients.

  

Roll ’em up!

  

Easy enough for a five year old

 

The whole process only took about 20 minutes, including any rewrapping after my little chefs were finished. We served them with some mixed veggies and everyone was happy. 

Ingredients:

  • Two rolls croissants 
  • 16 slices ham (we made 4 cheese only)
  • 16 string cheese sticks 

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray pan  with cooking spray (or if you are lazy like me and don’t want to wash, line pan with foil and then spray the foil). 

Unroll croissants. Layer the ham and then the cheese sticks. Roll them up. Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.   Gobble them up! We had the leftovers for breakfast this morning. They are very versatile.   

  There are so many variations you can make of these:

  • Change meat- pulled pork, sausage, etc. Pretty much whatever you’ve got on hand. 
  • Spice it up- add jalapeños, spicy mustard, green chilies. Use your imagination. 
  • Change the cheese- I’m not even going to start on the ways you can mix this up. 
  • Italianize it- add pizza sauce, mozzarella, pepperonis, and whatever else you like on your pizza. 
  • Add some green- cook some broccoli or spinach, combined with your cheese of choice.