Sunday, October 30, 2011

When your kids love to craft... and autumn is here!

When your kids love to craft... and craft... and craft some more...  turn it into your decor. 

These things kept popping up all over the house this week.  Coasters.  She was on fall break from school all week.  We brought her to a place where she had spent her entire summer.  They let her make stuff.  She made a lot.

Needless to say, she loved my idea to display them elegantly, and I loved not having to explain that drinks might fall right off!  ;)

Anyone want to see how I did my autumn mantel? Well, here it is...

It finally cooled down this week, so it finally feels like fall- we went from 80's one day to 50's the next.  But I'm not complaining.  I love sweater season!  HAPPY FALL!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mom's Cherry Squares, Remade

I remember my mom making cherry squares growing up.  I'm not sure how often she made them, but they were dangerously delicious.  They still are.  I decided that they can still be delicious, but be made a little healthier.  I'm not saying my version is healthy (after all, it's still a dessert), just more so than the original.  The taste was not much different!  Did you know that cherries are known for their anti-inflammatory properties?

In my recipe, I tell you how to easily make your own cherry pie filling.  You can make ahead the pie filling if you like, just refrigerate until ready to use.  I recommend this, because with time, the juices come out and create the sauce.  As for pitting fresh cherries, I use the OXO Good Grips Cherry Pitter.  We love it (my husband even helps with pitting cherries)!
 'Sweet Cherry' Pie Filling

4 cups sweet cherries, pitted
juice of 1/2 lemon (1-2 Tbsp)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

In a medium saucepan, stir ingredients and warm on med-high heat until sugar breaks down and dissolves.  Cover and reduce heat to med-low.  Heat them about 20 minutes to heat though and soften, stirring frequently.

Cherry Squares
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 stick butter
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla

Mix the ingredients together.  Spread 3/4 of the mix in a parchment-lined jelly-roll pan (10"x15"x1").  Spoon the cherry pie filling across the pan (on top).  It doesn't have to be a masterpiece, just make sure your cherries are somewhat evenly distributed.  The juices/sugar don't have to be evenly spread over every inch, just drizzled around.  Then spoon the remaining bar batter on.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes or so.  The center needs to look cooked through before you pull it out.  Allow time to cool, then cut into bars.  Makes 24.

Have a delightful week!  Life is just a bowl of cherries~ just remember to throw out the pits!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Apple Cheddar "Stuffed" French Toast - Your Mouth Will Thank You

On Saturday night, our family picked up a loaf of Panera's Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread, which we had them slice in the 'small' slices.  Our plans were to make French Toast after church.  The idea came to me as I thought about what I could do to add some 'wow' to the french toast.  Then the idea came to me.

So I sliced up some Empire apples, about 1 apple per person, maybe a little extra.  I peeled and sliced them, put them in a dutch oven on medium heat, and covered.  I stirred occasionally, but they only needed about 10 minutes of heat to start breaking down and getting warm.  Meanwhile, I grated about a cup of sharp cheddar cheese.

My husband cooked up our french toast, and it all came together like this:

We topped it off with some butter and a drizzle of organic pure maple syrup.  Delicious!  This would be a great idea for hosting a brunch!

It reminds me of an old bread recipe that I have made a couple of Christmases, Cheddar Apple Vanocka.  It's a traditional Czech Christmas bread filled with a cinnamon apple filling and cheddar cheese.

I love spending time in the kitchen with my family!