Sous Chef Sunday: BOO-NANAS

These sweet little treats are too cute to be truly spooky, but they sure are fun. They’re also perfect for little hands, both to make and to enjoy.

BOO-nanas

And what’s not to enjoy? White chocolate covered bananas? Move over chocolate covered strawberries. Chocolate covered bananas rolled in shredded coconut? Yes, please. A delightfully adorable spooky snack (or dessert) served on a stick (because everything’s better served on a stick, am I right?), hand them over.

Boo-nanas 3

And then there’s the fact that they’re a much healthier alternative to candy or other sugary, although festive, option for your little ghosts or goblins.

BOO-nanas 

BOO-nanas 2

4 bananas, peeled and cut in half
8-12 oz white chocolate
1 cup shredded coconut flakes, sweetened or unsweetened
mini chocolate chips
popsicle sticks or wooden skewers

Directions

1. Melt the chocolate using a double boiler, stirring frequently until melted and smooth.
2. Gently insert the sticks or skewers into the center of the banana through the cut end. Carefully dip the bananas into the melted chocolate, turning to evenly coat before removing from the chocolate.
3. Quickly transfer the coated fruit to a plate of shredded coconut, again turning to coat. Place the banana onto a sheet of wax paper. Place two chocolate chips onto the fruit, and gently press them into the coated fruit for eyes.
4. Repeat the steps, as needed, until all the bananas are done. Leave them resting on the wax paper until the chocolate coating has hardened.

Sous Chef Sunday: Monster Tongues (Marshmallow Pinwheels)

These may look gross, especially when you consider they’re called ‘tongues’, but they taste great and the kids (especially little boys- hey snails and puppy dog tails, right?) get a huge kick out of them. They’re perfect for a spooky Halloween treat, or even as a crafty snack to accompany one of our boys favorite children’s stories, I Need My Monster. Also, a great read when you’re gearing up for Halloween with its perfect mixture of scare and flair.

Monster Tongues

But, back to our tongue in cheek treat, perfect for any little monsters you may know. I haven’t met a kid yet who didn’t love these fun treats, even the ones who squealed with equal parts disgust and delight.

And they’re e a s y, a mixture of marshmallows melted and stirred into flavored gelatin, and then is chilled in a pan before being rolled up and sliced into wiggly, giggly little pinwheels, err tongues.

Monster Tongues (Marshmallow Pinwheels)

Monster Tongues 2

1, 3 oz, package flavored jello gelatin (NOT pudding), any flavor
1/2 cup warm water
1-1/2 cups miniature marshmallows

Directions

  1. Whisk the gelatin mix and warm water together in medium microwaveable bowl. Microwave on high for about 1-1/2 minutes, then whisk again until the gelatin is completely dissolved into the water.
    2. Stir in the marshmallows. Microwave everything on high again for another minute, or until the  marshmallows are partially melted. Remove the bowl from the microwave and whisk again, this time until the marshmallows are completely melted and stirred into the gelatin mixture. Pour the gelatin mix into an 8-inch square pan sprayed with cooking spray.
    3. Refrigerate for about 45 minutes, or until set. Run a sharp knife around edges of pan to loosen the gelatin from the pan. Starting at 1 edge, roll up the layered gelatin tightly, like a jelly roll. Cut the roll into 1/2-inch slices. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.

recipe adapted from Kraft

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Birthday Party

The youngest son turned 6 a few weeks ago. And gone are the days of Mommy’s-pic, cute, cuddly party themes. We’ve finally graduated into picking our own, from last year’s Minecraft Party to this year’s choice of The TMNT.

Ninja Turtle Party 8Ninja Turtle Party 10

Cowabunga Dudes (and Dude-ettes) !

Let’s take a look at our totally radical Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Birthday Party theme.

First, the cornerstone of any good party: The Cake.

Ninja Turtle Party

We opted for an actual turtle to grace our cake, and the sons favorite it had to be. I thought our little Mikey (Michelangelo) turned out pretty well.

Ninja Turtle Party 3

I frosted it completely with green, left it in the freezer for a couple of hours, then used a toothpick to lightly draw the outlines of the face into the frosting. I recommend starting with the nose line. If you get that right, everything else is *ahem* a piece of cake. Then we piped in frosting of various colors to fill in the lines, and used a spatula to gently smooth them out. We finished it off by piping a line of orange rosettes around the bottom edge.

Ninja Turtle Party 4

The Turtles, Mikey especially, have a thing for pizza– so naturally we had to have some at the party. We picked up a few pizzas from Little Caesar’s for ‘eats’ and had pizza, and more pizza for dessert with these cute cookies. They’re sugar cookies I frosted red. The ‘cheese’ is finely grated white chocolate, with red M & M ‘pepperonis’. SOn # 2 works at a local pizzeria and snagged me a few pizza boxes for presentation, but I’m sure most local Mom & Pop joints wouldn’t mind giving you one or two upon request.

Ninja Party 5

We had Oreo cookie ‘Sewer Lids’ to munch on too. And in a nod to our anthropomorphic friends radio-active origins, we had some Toxic ‘Ooze’ to wash it all down with.

Ninja Turtle Party 6

We tend to keep the deocrations simple, using things we already have on hand. In this case? Nunchucks on the table (another nod to our beloved Mike) and talking turtle figurines. We used plastic bowls that happened to coordinate and red solo cups for untensil holders. I did splurge on coordinating plates and napkins ( each about $1 at Walmart) and a table cloth to keep clean up easy.

Ninja Turtle Party 7

Another thing we don’t do? Goody bags. You get cake and ice cream. Copious amounts of sugar are my gift/ thank you to you. On the other hand, we all know how much I love a good diy, or any kind of imaginitive play the keeps them away from outlets and batteries. When I saw an idea to make your own wearable turtle shells? Every kid was gonna get one! And they were adorable 🙂 I’ll have a how-to up next week so you can out fit your own Ninja Turtles in proper DIY-couture.

Ninja Turtle Party 9

And here’s my gorgeous sister so kindly modeling a shell for the birthday boy, and also using some of the photo props from a kit we found on clearance (again at Walmart) in the party planning section.

Simple. Straightforward. And the birthday boy and his friends thought it was all totally gnarly. Even the one boy who looked at my like I’d grown two heads when I asked him to eat over a plate as he was on his third bite of pizz-ookie, sprinkling my carpet with ‘cheese’.

Macaroni & Cheese (with Ham or Bacon) Egg Rolls

If you think egg rolls are only to be found on Chinese take-out menus, or in the Asian section of the frozen food aisle, it’s time to think again. If you’re an egg roll purist who firmly believes this American-iced version of the traditional spring roll should only be hiding a blend of pork, cabbage, maybe a few other veggies, and a bevy of seasoning that’s cool, we have the perfect easy egg roll recipe for you.

Ham Mac & Cheese Egg Rolls 2

But if you can close your eyes and picture that perfectly fried, crispy egg roll shell breaking open as you bite into it, revealing a filling of creamy Mac & Cheese, studded with ham or bacon then you’re on the same level as we are with this recipe.

These just call to the kid in me, the fun foodie, and the carb enthusiast within. Why yes, I’d like some carbs with my carbs. Because, all the carbs. Serve them with a side of your favorite barbecue sauce for dipping.

Macaroni & Cheese (with ham or bacon) Egg Rolls 

Ham Mac & Cheese Egg Rolls

2 cups macaroni and cheese, chilled
4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled, or 1/2 cup cooked, diced ham
8 egg roll wrappers
vegetable oil, for frying
barbecue sauce, for dipping

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a deep fryer, Dutch Oven, or other safe pot to 350 degrees F.
    2. Mix the macaroni and cheese and the bacon or ham together. Spoon about ¼ cup onto each egg roll wrapper. Dampen the edges of the egg roll wrapper with water. Roll up, into a closed egg roll, according to the package directions.
    3. Cover the uncooked egg roll with a damp paper towel until ready to fry.
    4. Repeat the steps with the remaining ingredients.
    5. Working with just a few of the assembled egg rolls at a time, fry them until well browned, about 4 minutes. Place the cooked egg rolls onto a layer of paper towels to drain and get rid of any excess grease.
    6. Serve them warm with barbecue sauce on the side, for dipping.

Like what you see? Check out these other fun ‘egg roll’ ideas…

Breakfast Eggrolls

Breakfast Egg Rolls with Sausage Gravy

Egg Roll Bowl 2

The Egg Roll Bowl

4 Sons 'R' Us: Baked Bacon Cheeseburger Eggrolls

Baked Bacon Cheeseburger Egg Rolls

 

Fruity Pebble Crunch Ice Cream Cake

Did you have a favorite cereal as a kid? The sons were subjected to the most heinous form of cruel and unusual punishment throughout their elementary school years, and only offered relatively sugar free cereal options, like cherrios, Rice Krispies, or raisin bran.

Fruity Pebbles Ice Cream Cake

They were horrified when I put the kibosh on them sprinkling spoonfuls of sugar over said plain fair (a trick Nanni had taught them).

Still, I’m not totally against sugar, or even yummy sugary breakfast cereals. I’m just against them on most school mornings when they’re already wound tight enough with excitement. That and a sugar crash later will have them struggling through the end of the school day.

B U T…

on weekends, we’ve been known to get a little wild.

Like break out the fruity pebbles, and add some chocolate to make crunchy fruity pebble clusters, and adding those to some ice cream. You know, just for good measure and all.

Fruity Pebble Ice Cream Cake 2

Breakfast is already acceptable for lunch and dinner, so why not bring a lil bit to the dessert table while we’re at it?!

This cake is bright, it’s fun. It literally screams ‘summer vacation’. Kids of all ages will fall for it.

Fruity Pebble Crunch Ice Cream Cake

Fruity Pebble Ice Cream Cake 3

4 cups Fruity Pebbles
1½ cups white chocolate chips
1½ tablespoons shortening
½ gallon vanilla ice cream

Directions

  1. To make the Fruity Pebble Crunch Ice Cream Cake, start by placing half a gallon of vanilla ice cream in the fridge to soften. We want it soft, so it’s stirrable but NOT melted.
    2. Put the cereal into a large bowl. Melt the white chocolate chips and shortening in the microwave, or you can use a double boiler for the same results. Pour the melted chocolate over the cereal and stir together until the cereal’s evenly coated.
    3. Pour the coated cereal out onto a piece of parchment paper, gently spreading it out so its not a giant pile, but not necessarily an even layer either. Let the coated cereal sit, about 20-30 minutes, to allow the chocolate to harden and then break the cereal up into bite-sized chunks.
    4. In the same large bowl, add the half a gallon of softened vanilla ice cream and quickly fold in the 2 cups of the crunchy cereal pieces. Again, quickly spread the ice cream mixture out into a 9-inch springform pan to avoid melting. If it melts it’s like pouring a liquid into the pan, which a springform pan cannot hold, and it will all run right out.
    Top with the remaining crunchy cereal bits and gently press it down a bit into the ice cream.
    5. Cover the springform pan and place the ice cream cake in the freezer for 4-6 hours or overnight to harden. When ready to serve, remove from the freezer and slide a knife around the edges of the springform pan to release the cake and then remove slowly release the spring and loft the outer pan away.
    6. Dip a butter knife in very hot water, quickly dry it off and use the hot knife to cut slices of the ice cream cake. Re-dip and dry the knife for each cut you make. The cake will begin to melt so work quickly and immediately return any uneaten portion to the freezer.

recipe adapted from The Gunny Sack

S’mores Dip

Do you ever have that magic ‘moment’? No, I’m not talking about that special incident or the first time you actually realized you were in love with your spouse or SO (although that is a pretty special one), or even any of the magical moments that followed. Fast forward several years, and I’m talking about that magic (mom) moment where you put something so extremely awesome in front of your kids, that you’ve actually made, that they actually look at you like you’re magic (protection from closet monster & healing boo-boo kisses aside)

.S'mores Dip 2

S’mores Dip does it. Every. Single. Time.

S'mores Dip

All the mystic powers of the s’more, and all that obey, gooey melted chocolate, toasted marshmallow, graham cracker magic, without any of the fire power.

If you want to ‘wow’ your crowd, this is most definitely the way to go!

S’mores Dip

1/2 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (semi-sweet, milk chocolate, or a combo)
jumbo marshmallows, or minis work fine too
Graham cracker squares

Directions

  1. Adjust rack to center position of oven and place 8-inch cast iron skillet on rack. Preheat oven to 450°F with skillet inside. Once oven is preheated, use a pot holder to remove hot skillet from the oven. Place pat of butter in the skillet and use a pot holder to hold the handle and swirl the skillet so that the melted butter coats the bottom and sides. Pour chocolate chips in an even layer into the bottom of the skillet. Taking care not to burn fingers on the sides of the skillet, arrange the marshmallows over the surface of the chocolate chips, covering the chocolate completely. 2. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes or until marshmallows are toasted to your preference (watch closely!). 3. Use an oven mitt to remove the skillet from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Serve immediately with graham cracker squares or sticks…but be careful, because the dip (and the skillet) will be very hot!
  2. Alternatively, use a microwave, or a double boiler, to melt the chocolate chips and butter, and stir together until evenly combined. Pour the chocolate out into an oven safe baking dish. Arrange the marshmallows over the surface of the melted chocolate. Place the dish under the broiler, just long enough to toast the marshmallows to your preference (watch closely!) Serve immediately with graham cracker squares, or sticks. This dip also pairs well with fresh strawberries!

Gummy Bear Popsicles

Anybody who has little ones knows there’s something mesmerizing about any candy or treat that’s ‘gummy’. In this case, gummy bears. What little guy or gal, or big, or even the young at heart, wouldn’t love a special Popsicle made just for them with gummy bears hidden inside?

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These sweet treats are ice cold with a sweet, sticky surprise inside. They’re perfect pool side or as post-meal treat on any hot day. Whip em out at your next bbq, and you’ll instantly rise in ranks to the ‘hostess with the mostest’. Even better? They’re healthier than baked goods and they’re ice. cold.

Gummy Bear Popsicles

Are you sitting there thinking, damn those look refreshing, and fun, but I can’t make those because I’ve already broken through (at last estimate) 284 cheap Popsicle molds, and refuse to invest in another ( because let’s face it, even at a dollar a pop from the $ store, it adds up )? Well if you are, then you probably haven’t heard of Zoku’s Popsicle molds.

Gummy Bear Popsicles 2

These little things are awesome. The green part is just a base, and everything is designed for easy removal. Designed for easy cleaning and use, this classic mold design features 6 removable molds and 6 sticks with drip guards. When your pops are ready, you simply lift the individual molds from the base by pulling on the pop stick and run the mold under under warm water for just a few seconds to release the Popsicle within. It’s fool-proof.

Gummy Bear Popsicles

Popsicle mold
Popsicle sticks
Gummy Bears
Sprite

Directions

1. Fill molds about 3/4 of the way full.
2. Drop in gummy bears.
3. Place popsicle stick into mold.
4. Freeze until frozen all the way through.

Copy Cat Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies

My parents theory for us girls was always keep us busy, and keep us out of trouble. Their updated take on idle hands make the devil’s work, I guess. I’ve got to say though, they’re track record speaks for itself, and the hubs and I’ve pretty much applied the same philosophy to the sons, keeping them enrolled in extra curricular activities. But my, my how times have changed. Or more specifically, how post game snack times have changed.

CopyCat Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies 3

Back in the day everybody looked forward to the post game snacks and seeing what dreamy sweet cakes were waiting for us. Complete with a perfectly acceptable sugar-laced juice drink of some sort. If you brought oatmeal cream pies, it was a great post game, regardless of the win or loss. But if you brought cosmic brownies? It was a great game, most likely a championship of some sort. Now-a-days the sons get carrot sticks or bananas post game, or even outrageously expensive, and overly stuffed organic snack bags with several different options to choose from. And I get it, I do. Of course there little bodies need to refuel, but every kid (at least once in their lives) deserves to experience the sheer joy of biting into a fudgey brownie, topped with chocolate ganache, and studded with fun candy-coated, rainbow-colored chocolate candies.

Cosmic. Brownies.

CopyCat Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies 2

Yep, I was that mom on snack day. And no I didn’t pair them with bottled water, or little organic juice drinks. Capri Sun all day. Erry day. And damn if those kids didn’t think it was magic. Even the sons (who’re used to sweet treats) were a bit in awe.

I even brought enough to share with the parents. You can’t be stingy with something this great. And I happily shared the recipe with each and every one who asked for it. Now I’m sharing the love with all of you too.

Copy Cat Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies

CopyCat Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies

For the Brownies
3/4 cup butter (1½ Sticks)
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup, packed, light brown sugar
2 tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

For the chocolate ganache topping:
1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup M&M minis, or rainbow chocolate chip candies

Directions

1. Line an 11×7 inch pan with foil. Spray with non stick spray.
2. In a large bowl, melt butter in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, or melt in a small pot over low heat and then transfer to the bowl.
3. Whisk in the sugars, eggs, milk, and vanilla. Then whisk in the cocoa powder until the batter is smooth and not lumpy.
4. Add flour gradually, stirring until everything’s evenly combined.
5. Pour the batter out into the prepared pan, and use a spatula to gently spread it out evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow it to cool completely.
6. Heat the heavy cream in a medium sauce pan over medium-medium low heat. Add in the chocolate chips, stirring occasionally until they’ve both completely incorporated and the ganache is smooth.
7. Pour the ganache over the completely cooled brownies. Smooth it out with an offset spatula.
8. Sprinkle the M&Ms, or rainbow chocolate chip candies, over the top of the ganache. Refrigerate until the ganache has set. Cut brownies into squares to serve and enjoy!

Sous Chef Sunday: Copy Cat Sonic’s Ocean Water

Despite its name, it tastes nothing like the ocean. Which is probably a good thing. But it is blue, with a tangy flavor and a hint of coconut. And let me just say, that Sonic hit the nail on the head with this one.

 Copy Cat Sonnic Ocean Water 2

It’s arguably one of the best drinks they offer, and it’s pretty unique to them as well. At least I haven’t seen anything like it anywhere else. It’s just so refreshing. One sip and you won’t be able to stop the ‘ahhhhhh’ from happening after downing that first taste. You might even find yourself staring at your glass wondering how so much flavor got into one little cup. It’s a perfect little summer cocktail for kids and adults to enjoy. I know with the heat wave hitting us this weekend with over 100 temps (where ya at spring?!) an ice cold cup of Ocean Water sounds absolutely perfect.

Copy Cat Sonic’s Ocean Water

Copy Cat Sonic Ocean Water

4 tbsp of regular white sugar
4 tbsp of water
24 oz of lemon-lime soda (2 – 12 oz cans works great!)
1 1/2 tsp of coconut extract
3 drops of blue food coloring

Directions

1. In a microwave safe bowl, mix the sugar and water and heat for 30 seconds in the microwave. This should dissolve most of the sugar. Alternatively, heat the water and sugar over medium low heat, stirring until most of the sugar has dissolved. Add the sugar mixture to the lemon-lime soda, coconut extract and food coloring to a pitcher and mix gently. Allow the mixture to cool slightly if warm or hot.
2. Serve over ice and enjoy!

To be even more true to the original version, if you can find blue coconut snow cone syrup, then a pump of that into a cold glass of Sprite is 100 % authentic, but since I couldn’t we just made our own homemade coconut syrup 🙂 We couldn’t taste the difference, but in case you can, now you know!