Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Maple Syrup Snow Candy

Hard to believe, but a little over a week ago we had snow on the ground.  Today, it's 66 degrees and windy!  Snow never lasts long around here. 

Ever since the Munchkin read "Little House in the Big Woods" a couple of years ago, he begs to make maple syrup candy whenever it snows (it's snowed 3 times this winter; that's a lot for us!) and this time I finally gave in.  Needless to say, he was thrilled.  And when the other two heard "candy" they were thrilled too!

I found some instructions on Shelterrific that looked good, and off we went.  I got the syrup to boiling, and Munchkin got his coat on and waited {im}patiently by the back door to collect the snow. 

I did make one mistake.  I didn't let the syrup cook long enough.  I didn't take the time to make sure it had gotten to the hard ball stage before taking it off, and in fact I'm pretty sure it didn't even make it to soft ball stage.  I should've checked, because while the end result tasted good, and the kids certainly had fun, what we had wasn't technically candy.  What we wound up with was more like a maple syrup snow cone!  I'll know next time, though I need to restock my maple syrup supply. 
Try it some time.  It's really not that hard, and it will thrill young and old alike!
Enjoy!  :)

P.S.  Have you noticed the new look of the blog?  I decided it was time for a change.  Although I've always loved the old design, there were a few things that I also always wanted to change:  I thought the background would be better if it was white or a lighter color, and the lines on the background sometimes made it hard to read.  I don't know how permanent this new look will be, but it will be here for a bit, while I work out exactly what I want the blog to look like.  :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins {healthier}

Okay, so after my last post you're probably going to be shaking your head when I tell you that I've joined another cooking group.  :)  Brenda of Meal Planning Magic has revived her Eating the Alphabet, series, and since it kind of gets back to the "roots" of my own blog, I couldn't really pass it up.  ;)

So, while I do complain a bit about Pinterest, I have actually gotten some good ideas from there!  One of the recipes that caught my eye last month was these Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins from Skip to my Lou.  I made them, with some changes, and they were a hit.  While trying to decide what to post for the A or B month, I thought these would be perfect.

Hey!  That's Sprout swiping one while I'm trying to take pictures. 

Yes, I know, banana chocolate chip muffins are not earth-shattering, but I healthy-fied these, and that made me feel much better about the fact that we were all popping these little bite-sized tasty treats into our mouths at an alarming rate.  Seriously, while I wouldn't classify them as health food, they are definitely healthier than versions I've made in the past.  I should also tell you that while the Munchkin looked at me with one eyebrow raised when I said "banana" and "chocolate chip" in the same sentence, he did actually try one, he didn't spit it out, and he ate the whole thing.  Progress, people, it's progress.  These were great in lunches that week, by the way. 

Squirt kept asking for more, or "Mo! Mo!" in Squirtese.

Healthier Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
by Katy | Alphabet Soup, adapted from Skip to my Lou

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or regular whole wheat flour)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup demerara sugar
2 Tbsp ground flaxseed (flaxseed meal)
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup mashed bananas (about 2-3, make sure they're good & ripe)
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350'F.  Line mini muffin pans (enough to make 3 dozen muffins) with paper liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, sugars, ground flaxseed, baking powder, and salt.  In a separate bowl, mix together bananas, egg, vanilla extract, oil and milk.  Stir wet ingredients into dry and blended, being careful not to over-mix.  Stir in chocolate chips.
Fill muffin cups until 3/4 full.  Bake until tops are golden, and a toothpick inserted into one comes out clean (a little melted chocolate on it is fine!).  **Katy's note:  ok, I stink.  I forgot to write down how long these took to cook, but I want to say it was about 15 minutes.  When I make another batch I'll take better notes and edit this recipe.  Until then, just keep an eye on them when baking -- you know your oven better than I do!

Yield:  36 mini muffins

Enjoy!  :)

I'm linking up to Eating the Alphabet at Meal Planning Magic

I'm also linking up to Mingle Monday on Add a Pinch!

Monday, February 13, 2012

She said what I've been thinking


Like half the people on the planet, I've recently become addicted to enamoured with Pinterest.  I've been gathering quotes I like, and while I managed to not pin this one, it went something along the lines of "when we compare ourselves to others, we lose a little bit of our own awesomeness."  I've been struggling lately.  A lot.  And with things I don't really want to bother you with.  Trust me, I'm not good at sharing my burdens with others.

Anyway, through Pinterest, I was led to this post by Adriana of Just by Living.  I'd never read her blog before, but this post hit home, in so many ways.  One of the things she says in her post is "My life isn't pretty enough for Pinterest."  I want to hug her, give her a high five, and cry on her shoulder because that is so how I feel.  I've lost a lot of my own awesomeness lately by comparing myself to way too many others. 

I didn't start blogging to become an internet superstar or household name.  I don't blog to make money.  I blog because it's fun and a I like it.  But....there are those days, when I haven't blogged in a while, and just don't have the time or energy to do anything about it, that I think "why bother?"  I say I don't want to be a big-name blogger...then why am I comparing myself to those same big-name bloggers??  Because we are often harder on ourselves than anyone else is.  Because I don't want to let anyone down, but in the meantime, I don't meet the overly high expectations I put upon myself. 


I found all these super cute ideas for making Valentine's Day cards for the kids to give out at their parties.  I even spent time using my scrapbooking software to work on them.  And what did I do?  I ran to CVS this afternoon to grab some cheap boxes of cards instead.  And I'm ok with that.  Mostly.  :)  I do this a lot though:  get delusions of grandeur and then have to take a step back and regroup.  I need to go back and read my own post about the Supermom cape, I know. 

We don't have a spotless house.  I'll never have time to make all the crafty ideas I find.  When I made my own graham crackers, someone that my husband works with said that I had too much time on my hands.  Seriously.  After I picked myself off the floor from a fit of laughter, I vowed not to go to his office for a while to keep myself from drop-kicking her.  Nope, I don't have too much time on my hands.  That's far from the truth.  But I make choices with my time, and sometimes those choices are letting the laundry and clutter be, and making memories with my kids instead.  Those are my choices, and I refuse to be judged by them anymore.  The food pictures on my blog may stink, but the intention behind them is beautiful -- I love being in the kitchen, and I want to share that with the world, even if the "world" is only one reader, who happens to be my best friend.  :)