Nosh

“Good For You” Granola Bars With Just Enough “Bad”!

Ok I’ll be honest, I’m not sure the “good” outweighs the “bad” in these little delights.  Like most palatable granola bars, these contain sugar.  They also contain whole grains, honey, nuts and seeds tho so I’m making the executive decision that they’re just enough “bad” that you’ll want to eat more than one and just enough “good” that you can!  I like to experiment with recipes that are easy to grab and go especially this time of year to throw into harvest field meals and if you are among the many going back to work or your kids are going back to school after summer break you’ll want to check them out!

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The variations are endless but here’s the base:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 2 handfuls large marshmallows (approx 15-20)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 1/2 cups oats (I used quick oats)
  • 3 1/2 cups rice krispies
  • Your favourite add-ins/toppings such as: dried fruit, nuts, chia seeds, chocolate chips, nut butters, candy bits. (*I used 3 heaping tbsp chia seeds, 1/4 cup almond slivers, a handful of chocolate chips and reeses pieces bits in this batch.)
  • In a large pot melt butter with sugar and honey.  Bring to a boil and let bubble for 2-3 mins. stirring constantly.  Take off heat and add marshmallows. Stir until melted.  Add salt and vanilla (and nut butter, if you’re adding any, at this point – 1/2 cup or so.). Mix in your oats, Rice Krispies, seeds, nuts etc at this point as well, adding in increments and stirring to coat everything really well, you want to sort of monitor the ‘goo factor’ while you’re adding your desired nuts and seeds etc so that everything will still stick together. Press lightly into a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Top with your desired ingredients and gently press into the bars with another piece of parchment paper placed on top of the mixture.  You want to be quick at this point so you don’t melt and squish any of the toppings such as chocolate chips or candy.  Let set in a fridge or on the counter, slice  and wrap bars in waxed paper for easy access!

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A Splash of our Summer…

I know I’m not the only one who feels like this summer went by in record time…it feels like we just put away the snow boots and mittens and here we are gearing up for harvest and inevitably, fall.  I had grand intentions of creating a summer to remember filled with themes and activities and new adventures but I swear I blinked and the calendar said mid-August and I was left feeling dizzied with just how fast June and July left us.  I did manage to check off a few things from our summer bucket list; we had a great time on our camping trip, made it out to the lake a few times, went strawberry picking, made homemade ice cream, set up the kiddie pool in the yard a couple times, had Weiner roasts and made s’mores, set off some fireworks, got to the splashpark in a neighbouring town, and I was able to get in one themed week with my boy…

So if you’re like me and clinging onto the last weeks of summer holidays by your fingernails, here’s some fun and easy ideas to do with your kidlets!  Our “Aquatic Themed Fun” started with an easy paper plate craft.  All you need is a bit of paint (although I’m sure markers or crayons would work too!), a coffee stir stick or popsicle stick, some craft foam and a glue gun.  Create a water and sky scene on your paper plate, make a boat out of craft foam and glue it to the end of your stick.  Cut a wavey path in your paper plate for your boat to ride on and voila! Sea Scene Fun!

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For the next couple days we took some inspiration from one of our favourite books “Pout Pout Fish” and made a paper mâché fish out of a blown up balloon.  We spent the first day making the paper mâché and the second day painting it up to look like a pout pout fish!  Of course, we read the book a few times in between as well, you know, for inspiration!

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Next up we made these sand dollar cookies.  Simple sugar cookie recipe cut into circles and then decorated with cinnamon and sugar and some slivered almonds before baking. Inevitably we also had a bit of an educational afternoon learning a lot about sand dollars since my two year old brought to my attention “what IS it mommy?”.  Did you know that the legend of the sand dollar is that the center is a star imprint and the holes around it create an easter lily.  When broken open it is said that doves of peace can be found and if turned over you can find the design of a poinsettia, the Christmas flower.  We brought our cookies to the lake and shared them with our friends!

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While at the lake we spent the next day on a lakeshore hunt, looking for shells and stones and any other aquatic life!  We came across an opened mussel type shell, a few crayfish skeletons and a couple very large frogs!

The next day we continued on the frog theme (mostly because I couldn’t find any fish gummies!) and we made little jello cups with leap frogs sitting on lily pads on top!  I used gummy frogs and mint leaves and this simple dessert was a really big hit with my little guy!  But then again, jello is ALWAYS a hit at our place!

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The last day we capped off our Aquatic Themed week of Fun with these easy handprint rainbow fish.  All you need is some craft paper, popsicle sticks, sequins, buttons, pom pops, feathers, beads or any other crafty decor items you have laying around.  Cut out your handprints, glue them to a popsicle stick and then decorate them as you wish.  If you’re lucky you’ll even get an impromptu puppet show out of the deal!

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We really had a great time creating fun little activities all under one theme.  (Next summer I hope to do more of this…no promises tho!). Not only did it break up the day a bit for us but we learned lots and I got to see more of my little guy’s creativity shine through and that’s truly my favourite thing to be part of lately!  What kind of summer bucket list items did you check off? There’s still a few more days of joyous weather ahead and I hope to fill them up right to the brim!

Nosh

Huevos Rancheros Tostada Style

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I crave two types of food on the regular…Mexican and Italian!  Today’s menu consists of both…it’s Friday and a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do!  For lunch today I made these extremely tasty Huevos Rancheros Tostadas (and for supper we’re having pepperoni and fresh basil pizza…my quick and easy pizza dough recipe can also be found on the blog, under “nosh”!)  These yummy delights have everything; crunch, creamy, salty, meaty, and spice! I make mine with home-made ‘refried’ beans that I make in my crock-pot and topped with a basted egg they are protein rich and oh so satisfying for everyone, even my hard-working farmer!

Here’s my recipe for ‘refried’ beans made in my crockpot:

  • 3 cups dried beans of choice
  • 4-6 cups water…I add water as needed throughout the day
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, de-seeded and de-veined and chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional: leftover pork roast bone

I throw everything in my crockpot and cook on high for 6 hours or so.  This is a super simple way to cook beans and I often have a crockpot going to stock up on my freezer supply of cooked beans.  Once the beans are cooked and tender I like to strain out some of the liquid (reserve it), I use my hand blender to work the beans into a creamy thick paste, adding reserved liquid as needed.  *Once pulsed beans are cooled they thicken up quite a bit.

I portion the ‘refried’ beans into freezer containers and thaw as needed for an array of Mexican inspired dishes, including these Huevos Rancheros Tostadas:

  • Corn tortillas, sprayed with olive oil and baked in a 375* oven (flipping halfway through cooking), baked until crisp.
  • Refried beans
  • Sauteed onions and mushrooms
  • Diced bell peppers
  • Grated cheddar cheese
  • Basted or Sunny-side up eggs (1 per tostada)
  • Cilantro
  • Hot sauce or Salsa

To assemble, spread a generous layer of refried beans on prepared tortillas.  Top with sautéed mushrooms and onions, bell peppers, and grated cheese.  Bake in oven until cheese is melted.  Top with cooked egg, cilantro, salt & pepper and hot sauce.  Serve immediately!  I’m pretty sure they would be even better served with a “Salty Dog” (grapefruit, vodka and lime in a salt-rimmed glass.)…Next time I’ll test that theory out..(the things I must do for the blog!!). A yummy dish for breakfast, lunch or dinner that’s healthy and hearty!

 

Mom-ing

The Basics of going Back to the Basics…

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Exploring new places, getting in touch with nature, being outside, swimming, hiking, making bon-fires and cooking over them, basking in the sunshine, cuddling in the rain, and making lists, upon lists, upon lists.  I really do like camping and through the years I’ve been to a lot of places spending time with family and learning through adventure.  This summer I really wanted to explore our own province and make it My Manitoba Summer.  Getting out and exploring what your own country has to offer is really rewarding.  Camping can be a lot of work but it’s also so very nice to unplug and get back to basics.  There’s one thing I know for sure, organization makes it a holiday for everyone including mom!  Here’s a few of the hacks that I depend on!

  • Do as much meal prep as you can at home.  Wash all your fruits and veggies, marinade and then freeze your meat, portion things out so you don’t over pack and be sure to bring extra ziplock bags and tin foil for making little bags to cook. your food in, less clean up that way!
  • Store beach toys in crates that have holes in them so you can shake the sand out of them or better yet swish them clean in the lake.

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  • Bring along a plastic table cloth for your campsite’s picnic table and invest in some clips to keep the table cloth from blowing away. We also bring a plastic folding table to use under our awning for storing frequently used items.
  • Bring along a rope to use as a clothesline or I’ve tacked up some of those reusable 3M or rubbermaid hooks to the outside of our camper so our beach towels and lifejackets can be hung to dry.
  • Keep an emergency box with some form of duck tape, zip ties, a few frequently used tools like pliers, extra garbage bags, a few bungee cords, flashlights with batteries, bug spray, dry newspaper, matches and if you’re feeling extra zealous some firestarter lint pucks. (melt broken wax crayons and pour over dryer lint filled paper egg cartons.  Cut into egg cup sections and store in a ziplock bag.)
  • Pack extra towels…trust me.  This year when our hot water tank leaked inside our camper the extra towels I store in a cupboard came in extremely handy.
  • Get a dishpan for washing as well as rinsing dishes.  This is super handy to use with biodegradable earth friendly dish soap when you’re conserving your grey water storage.  Set up a dishwashing station outside your tent or camper and enlist the help of the sunshine to dry your dishes!
  • I make s’more kits.  We have yet to go through an entire bag of marshmallows on a trip so I portion some marshmallows and graham crackers out, store in ziplock bags and use up way less space that way. (Cheaper than the kits you can find at the stores now too!)

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  • Keep little ones (and old ones too for that matter!) busy with easy to store games such as dominoes, cards, cribbage, glow sticks, toys with carrying cases to store and carry them in, outdoor games like ladder golf, bocce ball, ball gloves and ball, coloring books and crayons or markers and notepaper for tic-tac-toe, word-guessing games etc.  I find this especially helpful for rainy days or for keeping your toddler busy before you head to the beach.
  • Bring a wagon! So useful!  Great for getting wood, filling up with everything you need for the beach, hitting the showers or for filling with kids for a walk around the bay!
  • Freeze your water bottles to use in place of ice to keep your coolers cold.  Large jugs work too and as the water melts you have fresh drinking water!
  • Weiner sticks and pie-irons are great tools if you don’t bring a BBQ or don’t want to cook over the fire in pans every night.  They take up very little space and there’s so many things you can cook in a pie-iron or on a stick! Also use multi-purpose cooking items.  One medium-large cast-iron pan can be used for so many things!
  • Store things in rubbermaid containers to keep them sealed from critters and the rain.  This is especially useful if you’re tenting.  The rubbermaid drawer cabinets on rollers are really handy as well! Use a couple bungee cords to keep the drawers from falling out while in transit.
  • Get together a master-list so that each year on your first voyage you know where to start when packing and getting ready! Laminate it even so you can just re-use it every year checking off the items you have packed.
  • Don’t forget a hat, sunscreen, bugspray, some type of first aid kit (ours included Benadryl this year in case of an allergy), lavender oil which is great for burns and bites, swimsuits, footwear for sunny as well as cold and wet weather, extra blankets that can also double as beach towels in a pinch, a shower caddy or bag that can withstand moisture or as was the case for us this year, millions of fish flies (you never know what surprises lay ahead in campground showers!), and an attitude of c’est la vie!

Get out and explore and make sure to keep it simple!  Let me know if you’ve got any hacks that need to be shared!  I love learning different forms of organizing!!!

 

Nosh

B3 Pops

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B3…I’m talking berries, balsamic and basil. These ice pops have a grown-up flair to them and take advantage of the fresh strawberries that are filling up the patches right now not to mention the bouquets of basil that are available to be picked these days.  Summer screams freshness and these pops are nothing if not FRESH!  Day 12 of the 12 days of Summer Kickoff is sure to pack a punch of irresistible flavour!

Here’s how you make them: In a sauce pan, combine 2 cups fresh (or frozen) strawberries, slightly diced with 2 tbsp honey, 2 tbso balsamic vinegar and 1/4 cup water.  Simmer until the berries are softened and then blitz them up with a hand blender.  Thinly slice some fresh basil into ribbons and stir into the cooled strawberry mixture.  Fill molds, seal and freeze then enjoy the perfect taste of summer cubed!  These would be fantastic served in a crisp, chilled glass of proseco too!  A great way to finish off our 12 Days of Summer Kickoff with Ice Pops!

I really hope you’ll give a few of these recipes a try…ice pop molds are so cheap and by creating your own pops you can furthermore create some lasting summer memories with your own family as I’ve already enjoyed doing with mine! Happy summery, ice pop filled days ahead!