A No-Bake, No-Sew Night of Treats!

It has been a crazy week around these parts. With the insanity of Christmas winding up and Moose having a tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy earlier in the week, we were up for a) something calm yet fun to do together and b)something that wasn’t going to take Mum hours to set up and take down. The kids have been dying to bake something, since we haven’t done any baking in over a week, but I really didn’t have the energy to completely destroy the kitchen with three bundles of fun. Plus, I put away their aprons accidentally into a box for storage. 

Sooooo, what’s a Mum to do? Check the pantry to see what we can scrounge together is what THIS Mum does! I found various melt able chocolate chips, sprinkles, broken candy canes and mini marshmallows, so naturally, I decided we’d make some delicious bark! 


Bonus points because I made our elf deliver it! Two birds with one stone, folks. If you can, do it!

The kids were pretty jazzed, but I wasn’t too fond of the idea of having no aprons while dealing with stainable chocolate et al. Gah! Why did I pack the aprons away??? 

So I did the only natural thing…I rifled through my DiSaStEr of a sewing area and found a huge piece of stretchy, knit, non-fraying fabric. Perfect for some kind of quick and (soon-to-be) dirty no-sew, one piece aprons! 

Armed with a crayola marker and a fleeting idea, I drew out a quick apron pattern on the wrong side of the fabric and crossed my fingers. (I don’t have an official pattern here because I sort of just fly by the seat of my pants when I get creative. It’s as daring as I get! 

Turned out that the creation I came up with worked beautifully for what I needed. I adjusted the length for each of the kids, tied them on so we could get to work!

Finished product looks ok. Not stunning but gets the job done! I cut out an extra strip of fabric to tie around their middles. 

Cut-out apron for baby bird (taken after she’d worn it…hence the chocolate stains!)


This is the general pattern I used. Not much to it!! Feel free to copy if you are like me and only sew with a limited amount of prep work!

Now, back to the bark. I’ve always been a purist and melted the chocolate on the stove, but this year, for the sake of time, I tried the microwave technique. It worked perfectly! Sooo, we started with melted chocolate chips, spread out into parchment lined dishes. After we had some nice spreading going on, I gave each kiddo a wood skewer and a few lobs of melted white chocolate for them to swirl. 


Even a two year old can make this beautiful!

Then, because we had them, we added blobs of melted blue candy melts! 


They look surprisingly cute!

After this, we went crazy (CRAAAAAAAZY) with sprinkles! 


Sooooo many sprinkles! Soooo many marshmallows! 

They were so proud and couldn’t wait to grab a piece! 

Lookin’ sugary! 

I will say that sometimes you have to get messy to make memories. Heck, our house is testament to that every day of our lives! But, it’s nothing to stress over. Just go with the flow, run with it. Everything will work out fine! If you can get away with ‘no-bake’ baking, do it! Same with no-sew sewing! Makes everything super easy and fun!! 

Enjoy the chaos that are the holidays, whichever one(s) you celebrate!  


Other ideas? Pop ’em up! 

Spicy Peanut Butter

I don’t know if any other families out there are the same, but we. Love. Peanut butter! Well, anything peanut, really. We are fortunate to have no nut allergies which makes those not-wanting-to-eat-anything phases so much easier. Raw, roasted, as butter, as sauce, you name it, we enjoy it!

We also love to make our own peanut butter. It is one of Moose’s favourite things to create in the kitchen. It is easy and he’s able to be as creative as he wants to make his flavours. 


Moose getting creative in the kitchen with peanuts!

I have a super yummy recipe for peanut sauce that I love LOVE with so many meal ideas and my favourite part is the creeping heat of chile flakes that are in it.  I decided to take the delicious heat of those pepper flakes and make a spicy peanut butter! Not so much for the kiddos, but for the grown-ups to indulge in after bedtime!

Never made peanut butter? It’s seriously one of the easiest things we’ve ever made around here. I honestly wonder why we hadn’t made it sooner when I realized how simple it actually was! You only need a food processor and a couple ingredients. It’s so versatile that you can add any extra fun flavours you want! We’ve tried a few things but never chiles. Today was the day!

First: the peanuts. We always have peanuts in the house and I’ve experimented with salted and unsalted. They both turn out well but for this time, I used salted, roasted peanuts! I didn’t want to make a huge batch so I only used 1 cup in my food processor.


In they go!

Turn the processor on low for 3-5 minutes and let it grind those peanuts up. There’s an interesting series of events which unfold:


Step 1: the chopped up but phase.


Step 2: the weird play clay phase


Step 3: the almost-there phase!

Once the peanuts have been pulverized to look like this, it’s time to taste and add fun stuff! Since I used salted peanuts, I didn’t have to add any salt. If you use unsalted then you can add salt to taste. I DID, on the other hand, add some sweetness to the mix in the form of Manuka honey. This strong honey packs a healthy punch and makes the butter sweet too! I only used 1 1/2 tsp and it made this batch super sweet.


Mmmm, love that dark caramel colour that Manuka honey has!

Now for the spicy feature! I had no idea how much/little chile flakes to add so I just gave my container a couple decent shakes. I’m guessing I added a good 1 Tbsp. 

Turn up the heat!

Now blend it again for a good minute or so and check your consistency.

I’ve found that salted peanuts grind into a thicker, pastier butter than their unsalted counterparts, as seen below:


A little to dry for my liking!

This is a super easy fix though. Just add a tsp of oil at a time and mix for a good minute, then check the consistency. I don’t have any peanut oil in the house right now so I used a couple small spoons of coconut oil. 


This stuff adds to the overall depth of flavour in my opinion!

After mixing it for another 2 or so minutes, the oils really started releasing from the peanuts to add to the silkiness and creaminess of our peanut butter.


Much. Better. See those pretty little chile flakes??

I’m not certain I’d slap this on a sandwich (however if the bread was right…), but I was aiming for something to dip apples, celery, and delightful artisan crackers into. 


Boy howdy, that mess is delicious

A batch will keep in the fridge up to 2 weeks. We’ve never had it last that long though! (Again, peanut butter fanatics over here!)

I will for sure be making this one again. The amount of chiles is entirely variable to accommodate to your taste so, much is the honey and the salt. I really do not want to write down amounts since you can be the one to judge!  Let me know if you try this or even just regular peanut butter. What add-ins do you like? I’m tinkering with the idea of crumbled bacon…mmmmmmm. But for now, I’m off to cut up an apple and dig in! 

Enjoy!

K.

Cranberry Grilled Cheese!

So, it was martial arts night for Moose tonight meaning, the grand race immediately after school to get three little bodies fed and cleaned up before zipping out the door. Often this means kids eat and Momma waits until the kids are in bed. Not ideal, but hey, I can actually revel in the quiet after they are all asleep and seriously enjoy my dinner, so sometimes, yep! 

I know there are delicious (like seriously) ground turkey and peanut sauce leftovers for lettuce wraps sitting in the fridge but I also noticed the bag of cranberries from our bi-weekly fruit and veg delivery service still mocking me from the crisper.  


Cranberries are beautiful and deliciously tart!

Boy howdy do I also love grilled cheese made with cranberry sauce and roasted Brussels sprouts. We have no sprouts in the house tonight so I decided to shake it up a bit and make an egg-and cinnamon soaked cranberry-grilled-cheese sammy. 

First, the cranberry sauce. When I make any fruit sauce, I don’t measure anything (sorry), but typically I toss the fresh fruit with some white sugar, cinnamon (I use lots because I love cinnamon) and a teensy bit of water. 


It’s a beautiful thing…

Turn the burner on low-medium heat and stir fairly constantly until the berries split and get mushy. Mash as much or little as you want (apparently today I wanted to mash the life outta these bad boys).


Lookin’ good!

Then, I noticed that we had no more bread from the local bakery that I LOVE. We had a narsty loaf of white bread, so I was stuck using that (seriously I need to look into these things BEFORE starting to prepare something!).

Put together that sandwich with extra old cheddar (or Brie or goat cheese would be delightful too) and some of the cranberry sauce, then dip the whole delicious mess into a slurry of egg/milk/cinnamon. 


All the bits before they are mixed.

Toss that messy glob of yum into a frying pan and cook until browned on both sides. I added a bit of lightly salted butter to the pan to give some more oomph to the whole shabang.


Lookin’ brown and crispy. Don’t be shy about browning it well! 

It’s pretty good, even without the crispy roasted sprouts (although if you have a love of them, and you have them, use them! You won’t be disappointed). 


Late-night dinner is served! (Ha! I just called 8:40pm ‘late night’! I think I’ve just stepped into a new phase of life or something!)

Enjoy! Let me know if you try it and how you’ve changed it for the better!

K.

An Apple (or so) a Day…

I DID say that I’d include crafty business and recipes, right? Well here’s a recipe-ish sorta thing. My obligations have been fulfilled!

I’ve established that fall is pretty awesome in my books. One of our favourite fall traditions is, (much like most others I know), apple picking! The kids love apples any time but especially enjoy it when they’ve picked their very own!

Sprout especially enjoyed her first apple picking trip. 

Since we have bags and bags of apples right now, we are using them in every way possible. Cakes, pie, tarts, sauce and more lend themselves to this delicious time of year. Unfortunately, this creates so much apple peel waste and frankly, our composter could use a little more variety than bags and bags of apple peels.

Being one who doesn’t like to waste, I decided to try something tonight…baked apple peel chips! They are super easy to get ready, they are made of scraps destined for the compost pile otherwise and they taste delicious! I count that as a major win! Plus the kiddos can help make these. I’m foreseeing this being a constant in our house for the next few apple-y weeks!

The premise is pretty simple. Take your peels, toss with a little oil (I just used vegetable oil), sugar and cinnamon (bothe to taste) and bake until curled and crispy. Here’s a breakdown of what we did!

Preheat the oven to 410 degrees (an arbitrary number…I’m sure 400 would also work. I like to cook by the seat of my pants!)

Doesn’t look all that a-peel-ing, does it?

1) Take your peels and put them in a freezer bag. Add 1-2 Tbsp oil, 1-2tsp white sugar and 1/2tsp cinnamon (more if you wish). Close the bag and shake (or get a trusty helper to do it for you).


Shake it! One of my best sous chefs busy at work! 

Lay the peels flat on a baking sheet in a single layer. (I used foil because my baking sheets are all stained and I honestly haven’t tried all the Pinterest ideas to clean said sheets. One day.)


Lookin’ shiny! We used a combination of Gala, Yellow Delicious and Jonagold apples for our skins! 

Bake 10-15 minutes, checking carefully after 10 minutes because, as I found out, thinner pieces burn easily. I flipped ours after 8 minutes. Take out of the oven, sprinkle with more sugar, rock salt and cinnamon as desired.


Try not to taste test yet! Some will still be a little soft. Let them cool and harden. It’ll be so worth it! 


This is the only evidence I have of these crispy bites of delicious before they were all devoured. Yum. 

My plan was to prepare some caramel apple dip to go with them but they disappeared too fast! Even my poor little guy with tonsillitis braved eating them. Next time there will be dip!

Recipe:

Preheat oven to 400

Apple Peels

1-2 Tbsp oil

1-2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp or more cinnamon

Put all ingredients in a freezer bag and shake together. Dump out on a baking sheet into a single layer and bake for 10-15min or until browned and curled at the edges. Flip halfway.

Remove from oven and let cool and crisp up. Remove from baking pan and store (or just devour).


Now for another apple picking trip!

K.