Browsing Tag



Holiday Snack Mix & Travel with Kids

November 15, 2017

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
Prep time: 
Total time: 
  • 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
  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.


Thanksgiving Day 2013

November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends! Joe and I have had the most wonderful time celebrating with my family in Idaho this year. Most every year I can remember, I’ve celebrated Thanksgiving in Iowa with my mom’s side of the family. This year is the first that I’ve celebrated in Idaho with my dad, step-mom, Andrea, aunt Gwen, Joe and little sister, Taylor. It’s been strange not being in Iowa for the holiday, but it’s been so much fun spending time with everyone here.

We are now all recovering from our big meal (we ate around 2 pm) by watching football on the couch and browsing the Black Friday ads in the newspaper. And since Joe and I have already worked out twice since we got here, I think we’ve earned a day of laziness and eating a little too much!

My contribution to our meal was Brussels sprouts (roasted with salt, pepper and olive oil and finished with brown butter) as well as the two pies, a pumpkin and a salted caramel pecan. Andrea handled the rest of the meal, which included steamed green beans, sour cream mashed potatoes, a brined turkey, cranberry sauce with walnuts and a stuffing with artichokes that knocked my socks off. I didn’t even miss the turkey on my plate with all the awesome sides!

I hope you have all had a wonderful day and are enjoying time with loved ones. I’ll check back in soon, but for now I’m heading out to enjoy this amazing weather we’re having in Idaho.










Last Minute Recipes for Thanksgiving

November 26, 2013


Thanksgiving is right around the corner! Although it is a week later than usual, I feel like this year Thanksgiving kind of snuck up on me out of nowhere. Usually I stick to a very strict policy that there are no Christmas decorations up until after turkey day, and absolutely no listening to Christmas music, either. But this year I’ve broken with convention and have our house fully decorated for Christmas. We even listened to Christmas music while putting up the tree. That said, I feel like Thanksgiving has gotten a little less attention this year than in years past.

I’ve been seriously slacking in the recipe department lately. Those of you who read Espresso and Cream solely for the recipes (this is a food blog, after all) are probably read to stop reading! I promise that although I’ve shared very few recipes here over the last few weeks, I’ve been developing more recipes than ever before, both at work and for a few side projects related to the blog. It’s been fun, but I’ve also missed sharing recipes with you all.

So today, I wanted to share a few of my favorite recipes that I’ve developed for Thanksgiving/holiday season. If you’re still looking to flesh out your Thanksgiving menu or already looking to December holiday parties, I would highly recommend all of the recipes below!

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The first project worth noting is for those of you looking to eat a little healthier this holiday season. I worked with Anytime Fitness for the second year in a row to develop three Thanksgiving recipes that keep portions and calories in check. That includes the mini pumpkin pies (above) garnished with a Greek yogurt “whipped cream” that are perfectly portion controlled and only 150 calories per pie. For the recipe, follow THIS LINK to download the Anytime Fitness Holiday E-Book.

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Already looking for cookies to make for a cookie exchange or holiday party? I worked on these amazing Crispy Quinoa Shortbread Cookies for the Tasteseekers Kitchen Blog (the blog published by The Kitchens of General Mills aka my workplace) that would be a great addition to any cookie platter.

Can’t get enough Pumpkin? Either can I! Here are a few favorite recipes that you just have to try:
Pumpkin Spice Latte Pie 
Slow-Cooker Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake 
Three ways to use Pumpkin Spice Latte Mix

Not a fan of pumpkin desserts? That’s okay, too. I have worked on some really fun recipes that don’t contain pumpkin, too.
Peppermint Mocha French Silk Pie
Mini Malted Milk French Silk Pies 
Salted Peanut and Marshmallow Pie 

Appetizers are always so difficult, don’t you think? Here are a few quick and easy apps that pack a ton of flavor:
Cheesy Spinach-Artichoke Bites 
Mozzarella Stuffed Pretzel Bites with Jam
Crispy Buffalo Chicken Poppers

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! I’ll be taking some time off work, but I’ll be popping back in later in the week to share what we ate for Thanksgiving. I’m so very thankful for each one of you!


Sweet Potato Muffins

November 15, 2012

Happy Thursday, friends! I can’t believe how fast this week is going. Actually, it’s hard to believe how fast every week has been going lately. Is next week really Thanksgiving? Say it isn’t so, because I still have Christmas card pictures to take, and a menu to plan for the friends-giving celebration we’re having this weekend, and I have to decide what to bring to Joe’s family Thanksgiving. Whew!

In the spirit of the holidays, I decided to bake up a little breakfast treat that feels like Thanksgiving. Adapted from the Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread recipe I shared last week, this recipe for Sweet Potato Muffins is spot on in flavor and texture. One of you guys pointed out last week that some recipes seem to take to whole wheat flour well, while others don’t. I completely agree! I love using whole wheat flour in quick breads and hearty muffins, like these, because it tastes appropriate. The hearty, dense flavor of the whole wheat flour pairs well with the sweet, semi-savory flavor of the sweet potatoes.

If I had a bit more time, I would have made a homemade cinnamon-honey butter to slather on these muffins. I think it would have added an extra layer of flavor and decadence. Alas, I didn’t have the extra time. So I settled for regular old butter. Still completely delicious and maybe a bit healthier. But since Thanksgiving is just around the corner, is anyone counting?

Sweet Potato Muffins
*1/4 cup cinnamon applesauce
*1/3 cup sugar
*2 large eggs
*1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*1 teaspoon baking soda
*1/2 teaspoon baking powder
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
*1 cup peeled, cooked and mashed sweet potato
*1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

*Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease muffin tin. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine the applesauce, sugar, eggs, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt and canola oil. Stir until well combined. Add in the mashed sweet potato and whole wheat flour and stir until just combined.
*Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin. The batter should make about 9 muffins. Bake for 11 to 14 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool slightly in muffin tins. Cool completely on wire racks.

Happy Baking!