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

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BOO-nanas

These bananas on a stick are covered in smooth white chocolate and then rolled in sweet coconut flakes for a festive treat that will appeal to both kids & adults alike.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • Melt the chocolate using a double boiler, stirring frequently until melted and smooth.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Repeat the steps, as needed, until all the bananas are done. Leave them resting on the wax paper until the chocolate coating has hardened.

Pumpkin & Olive Oil Pull Apart Rolls

Skip the store-bought package of buns– these soft Pumpkin & Olive Oil Pull Apart Rolls are easy enough for anyone to make. As slider buns, as your new go-to dinner date, or even dipped in a hearty bowl of your favorite soup– whatever incarnation you enjoy them in, they’re perfect. 

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DIY Indiana Jones Costume

When the kids were little we bought their costumes for Halloween. I couldn’t bring myself to break the bank so we’d shop at the local Kids’ consignment shops and even Goodwill, and they always looked adorable, and they were always quite content but something about our ‘process’ was missing for me. Then when the youngest son was 3, I decided he was going as The Doctor for Halloween. The 10th regeneration, my favorite: David Tennant’s Doctor. And seeing as how I wasn’t made of money to custom order every costume component from Think Geek, the only option was to do it ourselves. And we all had a blast! The whole family got in on it.

DIY Indiana Jones Costume 3

And we’ve never looked back since. Each year we start brainstorming about a month ahead of time and then we get to work assembling everybody’s costume of choice. We’ve done a stickman, Uncle Si, God’s gift to women, Steve from Minecraft, Superman/Clark Kent, The Hulk, Kristoff from Frozen, and The Scarecrow from Batman just to name a few. One of my favorites, and easiest to throw together was Indiana Jones.

‘Hey, Lady. You call him Dr. Jones!’

DIY Indiana Jones Costume

We found khaki pants on clearance at Walmart, but they’d be easy to find at Goodwill or a consignment shop as well. For us, they doubled as church pants, post-Halloween. We found a brown fedora in the costume section. We did hit up Goodwill for the white button up, and found the awesome aviator jacket there as well (for $5!!). That’s also where we found his ‘messenger bag’. He wore a pair of brown hiking style boots and brown belt he already owned. We hot glued a twine ‘whip’ to one of his belt loops, and we completed the look with a big ass grin and some rosy red cheeks.

DIY Indiana Jones Costume 2

Wherever he went, everyone knew who he was! Which he thought was pretty much the greatest thing ever. And the whole thing cost me maybe $15 with everything being reusable and needed outside of Halloween. That’s what I’d call making it big, or as Dr. Jones so aptly put it …

‘Fortune and glory, kid. Fortune and glory.’

Despicable Me ‘Minion’ Pumpkin Tutorial

The sons have always enjoyed the Despicable Me movies, and the Minions’ antics have kept them in stitches throughout all three films. The boys even made me download the game ‘Minion Rush’ onto my tablet so they can play it whenever the mood strikes. (Just don’t tell, since the older ones might get a tad embarrassed to have their secret outed, you know since they’re supposed to be to old for cartoons and all) They have a legit talking Dave and the teenagers still can’t help but pick up and play with the fart gun (remember our families four tenets? No judging please).

Minion Pumpkin 1

So when my little bit asked me to help him make a Minion ‘punkin’ for Halloween, I couldn’t say no. Never even crossed my mind. But after I’d automatically said yes, I had that ‘oh shit’ moment all Moms occasionally have at the thought of a commitment they’ve made where they’ve bitten off more than they know they can chew. I can fake it til I make it most of the time but, even on my best day, my pumpkin carving skills aren’t anywhere near up the the standard of precision required for any of the stencils and templates I googled.

But even on my worst day, I can paint. So we kicked all thought of carving to the curb, and painted ourselves a pumpkin shaped Minion. And he was adorable. But nowhere near as adorable as the youngest son’s face when he first saw our finished pumpkin.

DIY Minion Pumpkin

minion pumpkin tutorial

Pumpkin (real or fake)
Canning jar lids
Long nails
Wooden skewer, optional
Hot glue gun and glue stick
Yellow spray paint
Blue spray paint
black and brown paint, or Sharpie markers
Black pipe cleaners

Directions

  1. Paint the top half of the pumpkin with yellow paint and let dry. It’s ok if it takes more than one coat to get the desired effect. On the pumpkin pictured we used acrylic paint and did multiple coats.
    2. Paint the bottom of the pumpkin with blue paint and then allow it to dry completely. Once dry, add a second coat if desired.
  2. Minion Pumpkin 4
    3. Take a canning jar lid and pierce a hole in the center with the tip of the nail. Tap gently with a hammer if need be, to pierce.
    5. Flip the lid so that the white part is showing and insert the nail through the hole in the center, and apply a bit of hot glue to secure the head of the nail to the lid.
    6. Apply a ring of hot glue all around the inside of the silver ring and press the flipped lid firmly to it, hold for a second to seal and then set aside to completely dry.
    7. Use a skewer, or an extra nail, to pierce a hole where you would like the center of the canning lid ‘eye’ to be, keeping in mind that the eyes form the center of the face.
  3. Minion Pumpkin 3
    8. Gently push the nailed lid into the hole, being careful not to push any of the attached bits apart.
  4. 9. Paint the black straps of the goggles on both sides of the eyes.
    10. With paint or Sharpies, color in the details of the eyes (the screw will be camouflaged by the paint).
  5. Minion Pumpkin 1
    11. For the hair, use the skewer, or extra nail, to pierce holes at the top of the head and insert the pipe cleaners into the holes.
    12. Finish your pumpkin off by drawing on a mouth.

Apple, Red Onion, & Cheddar Panini on Naan Bread

There’s nothing quite like the fresh air of the mountains, and living in Virginia we’re fortunate enough to be only a hop, skip, and a jump from the nearest range. A kind of peace comes over me and my heart is so full when I watch my boys be boys, especially the older they get. And our local (ish, it’s only 40 minutes away) orchard offers them every opportunity to embrace everything innately boyish about themselves.

apple picking 2015 7

Running up and down mountain sides? Check.

apple picking 2015 4

Climbing trees? Check. (bonus points for ones over looking or over hanging mountain sides)

apple picking 2015 3

Eating fruit fresh picked from the vine? Check.

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Dad letting you carry and use a (very dull) pocket knife to cut your own fresh slices of fruit? Check.

apple picking 2015 5

(and obviously extra, extra bonus points for the use of sharp objects)

apple picking 2015

Every year we have a blast, and I love being able to look back on our memories forever captured in photos, but ever year we come home starving, and that’s despite the fresh cider and fresh cider donuts we gorge on while there.

This year, I dug right into one of our several bushels and had a piping hot batch of grilled naan-witches ready to serve in no time. Meltty, tangy sharp cheddar, the bite of red onion, crispy, sweet apple slices, and a bit of sass from our favorite honey mustard made this the perfect grilled cheese sandwich to celebrate one of our favorite Fall traditions.

Apple, Red Onion, Cheddar Panini on Naan Bread

Apple, Red Onion, & Cheddar Panini on Naan Bread

2 pieces of naan or other bread (use four pieces if the slices are small, I had 2 large naan pieces)
1 Apple, cored and sliced
sharp cheddar cheese, sliced
red onion, thinly sliced
your favorite honey mustard

Directions

  1. Place a layer of cheddar cheese slices on the bottom piece of naan. Layer on sliced apples, then the sliced red onion, and then top that with another layer of cheddar cheese.

2. Spread a layer of honey mustard on the inside of the top piece of naan and then place that on top of apple, onion and cheese, closing the sandwich.

3. Place the sandwich in the panini press until heated through, about 6 minutes. Cut the sandwich in half (if you’re using larger slices of naan) and serve.

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

Grill Master Card for Father’s Day

Still struggling to find the perfect card for Dad or Grandpa tomorrow? This card is perfect for the grill master in your life on Father’s Day. It would also make an adorable birthday card. Super simple, and how fun are those Mike & Ike ‘hot dogs’?

 fathers day card 2

black/orange/yellow marker
paper or card stock
glue
red Mike & Ike candies

To Assemble

1. Fold and/or cut your card stock into your preferred card size.
2. Draw a black circle on the paper and color in the middle with orange and yellow to make ‘fire’. After that color some charcoal dots over top the fire with the black marker.
3. Use a ruler, a book, or some other object with a firm straight edge and draw diagonal lines across the circle to make the grill rack. Draw three lines on top of each of the candies for grill marks. Glue them down on top of the grill.
4. Write ‘Dad … The Grill Master’ at the top of the card and then your message on the inside. Done!

The Twinkie Cake

For years and years the sons and I would painstakingly agonize over and critique cake designs. Flavor combos. You name it, we were on it. Everything had to be just perfect for their big day! (Now they’d say it has to be on ‘fleek’ which makes me want to pull my hair out. Gah. I miss simpler days.) As they’ve gotten older, you could say there interest has waned. This past year with both the older boys, they could have cared less what their cakes looked like. They just wanted cake. And frosting. And ice cream. Because, sugar. It’s all about the sugar.

What happened to my sugar?!

Teen Dream Twinkie Cake

Well, unbeknownst to my less than interested involved birthday boy, my sugar-a-holic, I decided to meet this challenge head on. You want sugar? Mama’s got sugar! Lots and lots of sugar for ya.

teen dream twinkie cake 2

And thus the teen dream, the dream he didn’t even know he had, the cake he never knew how badly he wanted, cake was born. A heavily frosted two tier cake, studded with heavenly processed creme filled cakes of pre-packaged perfection.

Teen Dream Twinkie Cake 3

Behold: The Teen Dream Twinkie Cake. With 15 candles for our birthday boy to make a wish on. Yes, you read that right. I don’t care how old they get, they’re still gonna be my babies. And I’m still going to cover your cake in candles, light them on fire, and with a tear in my eye and a smile on my face take an annoying amount of pictures while watching you blow them out.

Teen Dream Twinkie Cake 4

So even though your big day’s come and gone I’ll still leave you with a little note. Just pretend you’re back in elementary school and it’s a lunchbox note! Except now you’re really in Tech Drawing class sneaking a peek and making sure I didn’t say anything too embarrassing 😉

Happy, happy, happiest of birthdays to my guy, my picky —–, my original little engineer, our very own little Spider man (or would it be spider monkey?). Neither of us can believe you’re 15! This is just crazy. Dad and I have enjoyed every minute of watching you grow into quite the young man, the gentleman, with the equally gentle and generous soul to match. So, go ahead with your bad self (and your suns out guns out tank top) and rock that six pack you’ve worked so hard for, because your heart of gold outshines it all 🙂 We love you and pray that all of your dreams come true, just like ours did in being blessed to be your parents.

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The Twinkie Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 boxes of store-bought yellow cake mix + the ingredients called for on the box
  • 2 cans of whipped vanilla frosting
  • 4 boxes of 8 Count Twinkies
  • 9 ″ baking pans 6″ baking pan

Instructions

  • Make two 9″ round cakes using one of the boxed cake mixes. Make and bake according to the package directions. From the second box you’re going to make one additional 6″ round cake. Make the 6″ cake as tall as you can in your cake pan. You want the extra height to compensate for it being a single layer. There will be some leftover.
  • After they’ve baked and cooled, find a base for your cake, such as a cake stand or a cake carrier, and frost one of the 9″ cakes on top and on the sides. Put the second 9″ cake on top of the frosted one and repeat frosting the top and sides.
  • Now it’s time to measure out the Twinkies. We had to trim them each about 1/2 inch to get the layers to match. The cuts also serve as a nice base to keep them standing as opposed to falling off/over. Once you’ve measured, make sure to trim each one exactly the same.
  • Gently press the bottom side of the Twinkie (the flat side, NOT the cut end) against the frosting so that it sticks. Be sure to be ready to do the Twinkie step right after frosting so the frosting’s still ‘wet’ and hasn’t hardened. Continue until you’ve covered the bottom layer. Once that’s done, repeat the process for the top layer. Start by placing the 6″ cake on top of and in the center of the frosted double layered cake. Frost it on the sides and on top and measure and cut the Twinkies to match up with this layer and repeat the process of pressing them around the sides of the cake. To finish off the cake, I used a star tip to make a simple, accented top. You could opt to just spread on some frosting like with the previous layer or even sprinkle some candy on top. Whatever floats you (and your teen’s) boat.

Notes

This cake was originally created by Cutefetti

Peppermint Sugar Cookie Bark

Friday the sons and I made this bark that was so freakin’ delicious I almost ate my arm off because it was attached to the bark. Shh! It happens.

With delicious sugar cookie dough center sandwiched between two delectable layers of white chocolate and sprinkled with crushed candy cane bits, it just screams ‘holiday’. It’s perfectly peppermint-y and, in my opinion, pairs best with a big ol mug full of hot chocolate.

 Peppermint Sugar Cookie Bark

Despite my childhood experiences, as I grew up I was disappointed to learn that Peppermint candies do not in fact just grown on trees. Stupid deceptive childhood board games! So until some miraculous day in the future when science can finally crack the genetic code of the candy cane tree this peppermint ‘bark’ will just have to suffice. I think we’ll survive. 😉

Peppermint Sugar Cookie Bark

Peppermin Sugar Cookie Bark

recipe adapted from Crazy For Crust

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 cup all purpose flour
16 ounces white candy melts or baking chocolate
4 regular size candy canes, or 12-14 mini candy canes

Directions

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. Mix in the vanilla and salt until incorporated. Slowly add in teh flour, a little at a time, mixing until fully incorporated. Your dough will be pretty thick (that’s OK!), but should be smooth and all the ingredients evenly combined.
2. Cover a cutting board with a large piece of wax paper. Place the dough in the center, press it down flat, and cover it with another piece of wax paper. Roll the dough into a rectangle (about 8’x10′) between the two pieces of wax paper. I used an acrylic glass to roll mine out, but use a rolling pin if you want to be all fancy and pretty about it. Chill the rolled dough for at least 10 minutes.
3. Place your candy canes in a quart-sized ziploc bag. You can either roll them with a rolling pin to crush, or you could go with a few well-aimed whacks of a mallet. The sons love any excuse to whack something with the meat mallet. Tiny hole will appear in the bag though, so perform this operation with care, or at least on a cutting board to minimize mess.
4. Line a cookie sheet with more wax paper. Melt your white chocolate according to the package directions. Pour about half of the melted chocolate out onto the wax paper and use a spatula to spread it into a rectangle a little bit bigger than the dough.
5. Remove one piece of wax paper from the dough, place that side down onto the spread chocolate, and then remove the top piece of wax paper. Pour the remaining melted chocolate over top of the dough and use a spatula to spread it to cover the dough, making sure to meet the edges of the bottom layer to seal the dough inside. Sprinkle the top with the crushed candy canes.
6. Chill until set, about least 30 minutes, or if you’re more patient than we were, leave it on the counter top to set itself. Because the cookie dough is so moist and won’t set firm, breaking this bark apart will most likely result in the chocolate separating from the dough. We can’t have that, so it’s best if you gently cut it into wedge shaped pieces. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, but serve them at room temperature.

Gingerbread Cookie Dough Fudge

Soft gingerbread cookies are a classic Christmas treat, almost as popular as chewy fudge is during the holidays. We’ve combined the two vintage desserts into one epic seasonal treat- gingerbread cookie dough fudge. This easy quick set version tastes just like gingerbread infused cookie dough, in a white chocolate fudge base. It’s perfect for serving at parties, and makes for a rich, delectable edible gift to give to friends & family.

gingerbread cookie dough fudge squares stacked on a white plate

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