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Family, Food & Recipes

Holiday Snack Mix & Travel with Kids

November 15, 2017

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img_6588This post is sponsored by SC Johnson. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make the content on Espresso and Cream possible. #ZiplockHolidayUAI

Back before I had kids, my visions of weekend baking projects were pretty idyllic and, I now realize, unrealistic. I imagined my child happily cutting out cookie dough and decorating cookies, mess-free. Of course now that I have two kids of my own I know better than to tackle elaborate or time-intensive baking projects. Because Ainsley is bound to lose patience and I’m bound to be picking up a giant mess long after the project has lost it’s novelty. So these days, we keep our holiday baking projects on the simple side and everyone in the family is a lot happier because of it.

We have a few holiday road trips coming up in the next few weeks, including some air travel to visit family in Florida, so I’ve been planning and strategizing on how I’m going to keep not one but TWO kids happy in the car and in the air. My solution: busy bags filled with all sorts of goodies, activities and fun new and inexpensive toys. Because we all know that an entertained child is a happy child.

I headed to our local Walmart last week before music class to pick up a bunch of goodies for our trip, along with the supplies to make this Holiday Snack Mix recipe. Ainsley and I made the snack mix together, then portioned it into Ziploc® Brand Storage Snack bags for our travels. We also tied some of the bags with ribbon for gifting to friends and family.

I filled the Ziploc® Brand Storage Gallon bags with coloring books, crayons, stickers, inexpensive figurines (Ainsley’s favorite!), our homemade snack mix, a few new movies, and more. Hopefully these bags provide hours of entertainment and delight while we are doing our holiday travels!

Partnering with SC Johnson on this post was a total no-brainer for me, because as a mom of littles, I use Ziploc® Brand bags for pretty much everything. I always have at least a few Ziploc® Brand Storage Gallon bags in the car as makeshift trash cans on road trips to keep the car clean and organized and to keep figurines and toys grouped together and keep a bunch in my purse for air travel to contain trash and dirty diapers. Mom hacks all around!

Check out the full (easy!) recipe below. And if you’re a frequent Walmart shopper like me, there are also some great coupons available here.

Holiday Snack Mix
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 10 oz. white almond bark
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 6 cups square-shaped rice cereal
  • 2 cups pretzel sticks
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup red and white candy-coated chocolate pieces
  • Red and green sprinkles
Instructions
  1. In a large microwave-safe bowl, microwave the almond bark, peanut butter and butter on HIGH 30 seconds. Stir; continue to microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring between intervals, until almond bark, peanut butter and butter are melted. Continue to stir until mixture is well combined. Stir in the peppermint extract.
  2. Combine cereal and pretzel sticks in a large mixing bowl. Pour almond bark mixture over cereal and stir until well combined and cereal is evenly coated. Transfer mixture to a Ziploc® Brand Gallon Bag and add in powdered sugar. Seal back and gently shake to coat cereal with the powdered sugar.
  3. Transfer mixture to a flat surface covered with parchment, waxed paper or aluminum foil. Spread in an even layer and add in the candy-coated chocolate pieces. Sprinkle with the red and green sprinkles. Let cool completely.
  4. Divide the mixture into Ziploc® Brand Snack Bags. Tie with ribbon, as desired.

This post is not sponsored or affiliated with Walmart.

Food & Recipes

Brown Butter Chopped Pecan Pie

January 30, 2017

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Good morning, friends and happy Monday! I’ve been thinking a lot about blogging lately, as I’ve had a few conversations with friends who have blogged but now are choosing to close their blogs, to say goodbye to sharing their life online. Or, should I say, sharing more in other formats like podcasts and Instagram rather than a blog.

I’ll admit that sometimes blogging these days feels a little like, “Hello? Is anyone listening?” With all the other choices out there for reading and absorbing information (there are so many!) blogging can seem a little old school. Isn’t that crazy to say? And after blogging for over 8 years myself, I’ll admit that closing this blog has come to mind a time or two.

But can I also admit that I love this little corner of the internet? Oh I love blogging so much. I’ve heard from so many that they stopped blogging and didn’t miss it one bit, but I know that for me this is my favorite creative outlet and I’m itching to share more and more here in recent months rather than drawing back from my site.

So, that was a long preamble to sharing about pie, wasn’t it? I’ve been meaning to share my favorite pie crust for a while but never really got around to it because, well, laziness? I still hope to do a full video for anyone who is intimidated by crust, but this recipe is foolproof enough to work for even a beginning baker. Trust me, I’ve tried dozens of different recipes all claiming to be the best and this one really does take the cake. For the original inspiration and full explanation as to why this recipe works, check out Serious Eats.

Joe recently returned from a trip to El Paso where he was visiting some of his pecan suppliers for work (he buys pecans as part of his job) and brought home more pecans than I have any clue what to do with. Bags and bags of them line our freezer right now, so this is the fourth pecan pie I’ve made in the last couple weeks. We’ve never really been huge pecan pie people over here, but chopping the pecans and adding a little brown butter? Go ahead and sign me right up!

I adapted my recipe over the four attempts from this original from Brown Eyed Baker. More pecans, browned butter, less corn syrup, less vanilla, more salt. You get the idea. I think that this recipe is pretty perfect, but give it a go and see for yourself!

Brown Butter Chopped Pecan Pie
 
Ingredients
  • Crust
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • ½ tablespoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons ice water
  • Filling
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ⅔ cup light corn syrup
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups chopped toasted pecans
Instructions
  1. First, prepare pie crust: In the bowl of a food processor, combine ¾ cup of the flour, all the butter, the sugar and salt. Pulse 25 times with short on-off turns. Add the remaining flour and pulse 5 more times to incorporate.
  2. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl and add the water to the flour mixture, stirring with a rubber spatula as you add the water to incorporate evenly. Use the spatula to stir and press the dough together. Once it begins to hold together in large clumps, transfer mixture to a clean work surface and work with your hands into a disc. Don't over-work, but make sure that you work the mixture enough that it fully comes together in a smooth disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
  3. Heat oven to 400°F. Roll dough out in a thin layer on a floured work surface. Transfer pie crust to 9-inch pie plate and press into pan. Roll/crimp the edges as desired. Spray a piece of aluminum foil with cooking spray and place sprayed side down into center and up sides of pie crust. Fill foil with pie weights or dried beans all the way to the top of the foil to prevent shrinking during baking. Bake 15 minutes, remove foil and weights, bake 5 minutes more.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the filling: In a large sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Continue to cook, swirling frequently, until butter is lightly browned and fragrant, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the brown sugar, corn syrup, eggs and salt and stir until well combined. Return to heat and continue to cook until mixture is hot to the touch. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and pecans.
  5. Transfer hot filing mixture into pre-baked pie crust. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F. Bake 45 minutes more or until filling is puffed and crust is golden brown. Cool at least 2 hours before cutting into slices to serve.

 

Food & Recipes

Pie Week #2 // Apple

September 2, 2016

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Whew. Coming in right under the gun and posting a second pie recipe before the week is over. I made this pie twice in the last week, and I’ve found that pie making is quickly becoming one of my favorite things to do. First, because it’s relaxing and second, because there is nothing like the look of delight on someone’s face when you say that yes, you brought them pie, and yes, it’s from scratch.

Oh, and it’s a great way to use up all the apples that have been coming my way from my aunt and mother-in-law.

I’ve realized that making pie allows me to cater the pie to my exact preferences, too. Take, for example, this apple pie. Joe and I both agree that we like the apples to be soft and free of any crunch, with a hefty dose of cinnamon and a crust that’s deeply golden brown and covered in coarse sugar.

Is that your kind of applie pie? Then this recipe is for you. And me.

This pie series has already been so much fun I can hardly handle it. And now that I’ve been making crust for a while (video to come, I promise!) I don’t need a recipe, just a couple measuring cups and a little extra time.

Pie Week #2 // Apple
Author: 
Serves: 8 servings
 
Ingredients
  • Pie crust for a double-crust pie
  • 10 cups peeled and sliced apples
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg yolk, whisked
  • 1 tablespoon half and half or heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sugar (turbinado)
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease/butter the bottom of a 9-inch deep dish pie plate. Set aside.
  2. Roll out half the pie crust to form the bottom crust. Drape pie crust into the bottom of the pie plate and press gently into the bottom and sides of the plate, leaving the crust hanging over the edge of the plate.
  3. In a large bow, combine the slices apples, sugar, corn starch and cinnamon. Stir until evenly combined and spoon apples into pie crust, mounding apples slightly in the center.
  4. Roll out the second half of the pie crust and drape over the apples. Press the crusts together and roll/crimp as desired. Use a sharp knife to cut a few slits on the top of the pie to let steam escape.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and half and half or heavy cream. Brush on pie with a pastry brush. Sprinkle top of pie with the coarse sugar.
  6. Bake pie 45 minutes at 375°F. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour more, until filling is bubbly and crust is deep golden brown. If necessary, cover the edge of the pie crust with a pie shield or aluminum foil to prevent over-browning during the last portion of baking. (For the record, I didn't need to)
  7. Cool at least 1 hour before cutting into slices to serve.

 

Food & Recipes

Feeding a Toddler // Morning Glory Muffins

May 18, 2016

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This is a sponsored post written in partnership with The Women Bloggers and Kendal King Group. All thoughts and opinions are my own. #CookingWithGerber

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If you follow me on Instagram, chances are you’ve seen these muffins pop up multiple times. I share Ainsley’s meals using the #EasyBabyEats hashtag on Instagram, and it’s been fun to look back through all the different meals I’ve prepared for her when she’s off at her babysitter’s house. Her meals have changed a lot over the months, but this recipe has been a staple.

Gerber has a soft spot in my heart as a mom. I’ve always had a positive association with the brand, and when Ainsley was ready to try her first bites of food around 6 months, Gerber Oatmeal Cereal was the very first thing we tried, followed closely by sweet potato puree.

Now that Ainsley is older, we’ve moved on to a wider variety of foods, but Gerber cereals still have a place in our pantry. When Ainsley had her iron levels tested at her 1-year appointment she came back a little on the low end. Since she isn’t a huge meat eater we’ve been looking for other ways to get iron into her diet, including  fortified cereals that contain iron.

These muffins, which are both a breakfast food and snack for Ainsley (and the whole family) contain both Gerber Oatmeal Cereal and grated sweet potatoes, along with a host of other good-for-you ingredients like whole wheat pastry flour, golden raisins and rolled oats. Because these are geared toward Ainsley, I kept the sugar on the very low end, but our whole family likes them! Just keep in mind they aren’t super sweet.

PS: You probably already know this, but we buy our Gerber Oatmeal Cereal at Walmart, where we do a large portion of our grocery shopping these days!

Morning Glory Toddler Muffins
Serves: 12 muffins
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup grated raw sweet potato
  • ½ cup raisins or golden raisins
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • ½ cup Gerber Oatmeal Cereal
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ⅓ cup turbinado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper baking liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl combine the milk, vanilla, egg and melted butter. Stir until well-combined. Stir in the raisins and grated sweet potato.
  3. In a second bowl, combine the flour, oat cereal, rolled oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon and stir until well-combined. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
  4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake 20 to 23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and tops of muffins bounce back when pressed lightly with your finger.
  5. Cool muffins completely on wire cooling rack before serving.

 

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Food & Recipes

Baby Breakfast :: Oatmeal Edition

February 3, 2016

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Ainsley has been stuck with just two little teeth for close to five months now. Today I just saw a tooth starting to poke out on top (!!) but feeding a hungry baby who is very interested in food but only has two teeth is a challenge! She chokes on food all the time if I don’t mash it up enough or make the bites small, and I alway feel so bad.

The teeth situation has forced me to get creative with what I feed her outside of purees, smoothies and yogurt. Sometimes it’s a little more effort, but feeding her and introducing her to new foods is so fun and rewarding.

I’m starting to play around with the idea of doing an e-book in the future with all our favorite baby/toddler recipes, so I’ve been making an effort to capture the things Ainsley eats and take down measurements rather than just throwing it all together.

When possible, I feed Ainsley the same types of foods we are eating to make it less work or cook/bake in bulk to cut down on prep in the morning or evenings. Since I start out most days with oatmeal, chia seeds and nut/seed butter, so does Miss Ainsley! This oatmeal is always a big hit, although she rarely eats the whole bowl unless she is super hungry. I usually just save the leftovers and re-heat them with a little added milk the next day and it works just fine.

Baby Breakfast :: Oatmeal Edition
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 serving
 
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup rolled oats
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • ½ teaspoon chia seeds
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 3 to 4 fresh raspberries or other berry
  • 1 teaspoon nut or seed butter (I used Sunbutter)
Instructions
  1. In a small microwave safe bowl, combine the oats and water. Microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until oats are puffed up and cooked. Stir in the milk, chia seeds and cinnamon until well combined. Top with the berries and nut or seed butter and enjoy!

Madison