Friday, May 5, 2017

Strawberry Carrot Popcorn Balls

 The other day I was admiring the contrast of the beautiful blue sky and green leaves on the trees. I am beyond excited that it is SPRING! I love seeing all the plants come back to life all around the city. With Spring in mind, I decided to come up with a fun and healthier snack that the kids and I both would love.  I decided to test out recipes to make healthier popcorn balls. My first thought was to add strawberry. I love the juicy sweet taste of strawberries in the Spring and I also love that they add a natural pink coloring to everything you add them too, NO Red 40!!! Most people who know me, know that I try to add vegetables to everything. So I thought, why not experiment with this recipe!? What I came up with was beyond delicious! Definitely a MUST TRY, but I warn you they are addicting.

I wanted to explain that as I was trying out different recipes, I experimented using no sugar but the balls wouldn't hold up the way I wanted. I thought to myself that even if I use marshmallows it would still be fun to see if I can add veggies to something that would normally be considered a treat.
The number one ingredient is SkinnyPop! If you have ever picked up a bag of this at the store you will know that just the original popcorn alone is addicting AND it's a healthy option when snacking. I had to hide the bags from my kids just so I would have enough popcorn left to make the popcorn balls! LOL

Ingredients:
  • 6 cups of Original SkinnyPop, a 4.4 oz bag is almost exactly this
  • A 1.2 oz bag of freeze dried strawberries
  • Two large carrots (which equals about a cup of ground carrots)
  • one 10.5 oz bag of mini marshmallows
  • 3 Tbsp of butter
  • *optional a 1/2 tsp of salt

 Pour the whole bag of freeze dried strawberries in the food processor and mix until they are in small chunks as pictured above. Set aside.
   
 Next add your carrots and blend. You want to blend your carrots second because they have moisture and if you do the strawberries after the carrots they will end up sticking to the food processor.
After blending up your carrots and getting about a cup of small chunks, place them on a paper towel. Fold over the paper towel and squeeze to get out as much moisture from the carrots as possible. You can repeat this process a few times. This just helps so that you don't get soggy popcorn balls.
   
Pour your carrots and strawberries over the popcorn in a large bowl.
Heat up your butter and marshmallows in a pot on the stove just until everything is melted.
Then pour over the popcorn mixture.
Mix everything together with a spatula or use your hands.
   
Once everything is mixed together, put the bowl in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes. 
Don't you just love the natural pink color the strawberries gives the popcorn!?
You are now going to form the mixture into balls. If it is slightly sticky, you can use a little coconut oil on your hands.
   
This recipe will make about 12 popcorn balls.
*What I did next is optional*
 For Springtime fun, I wanted to make my popcorn balls look like flowers. I found some paper straws and a little pink pail in the Target dollar section. The clear cellophane and curling ribbon are from the Dollar store.
   
I simply stuck a paper straw in each popcorn ball.
   
I cut the cellophane into 12 large squares. I pulled it together at the top of the popcorn ball and tied it together with the curling ribbon. It is as simple as that! 
Now you have a fun snack that your kids will be excited to eat!
Add it to their lunch as a healthy treat.
Happy Spring!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween Keepsake Treat Bags~ 2016 Hand & Footprint Art

 Those of you who have been following me for a while know that I started a tradition in 2012 with my children where we put their hand and/or footprints on the sack they take trick or treating. If you want to know more about this click HERE to see the past posts and the hand/foot prints from past years.
This year I kept it a little more simple and did only one print for each kid except for Rowen. He is still so little and the prints are just so cute at this age! 
Here is Rowen in two of his costumes this year.
Plex from Yo Gabba Gabba and Buzz Lightyear!
      
Here are the prints I did for him. I wish I would have done his footprint for Buzz in purple because that is actually the color of the bottom of his foot. Instead I just wrote ANDY in purple.
Garren's foot print turned out better than I thought it would! 
I just copied his costume of a blue Power Ranger to his footprint!
   
 Kiki is a police woman this year so I thought it would be fun to just put a police badge in her handprint!
   
 One of Brenden's costumes is Harry Potter so I got really creative with his LARGE footprint! 
Seriously, just to get an idea of the space this takes up.... he wears size 7 in men!!! 
Why do they grow up so quickly!?
   
 Lastly, I had to add what Brenden is wearing today for actual Halloween Day.
He is Josh Dun, the drummer from my FAVORITE band Twenty One Pilots!
Notice the sharpie O gage on his ear! LOL
   
 Here is full body! Brenden is wearing his Skeleton hoodie just like Josh and Tyler wear!
And don't forget the drum sticks!
   
 To his bag, I will probably add his handprint in red and paint the Twenty One Pilots logo in the center.
Well, I hope you all have a fun and safe Halloween!!!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Cake Decorating Party- Dollar Store Supplies

My daughter Kiki LOVES to cook! She is always saying that she wants to have her own bakery when she grows up. Last year we made a Sweet Shop in our basement! If you want to see it click HERE! The amazing thing is we STILL have this up in our basement a year later! 

 I really didn't want to throw a HUGE party again. I wanted to just go somewhere and have them do all of the work. However, once I saw how much it would cost, I decided to have it at our house. 
After talking it over with my husband and Kiki we decided that a cake decorating party would be the easiest. We had her pick 5 close friends so they could all fit comfortably around the dining room table. 
The first thing to consider when having a cake decorating party was how to prepare the cakes. We decided it would be best if the cakes were made before hand and the girls would just have fun decorating them during the party. I searched and searched for the best size cake pans. I didn't want to spend a lot of money and then have something I wouldn't use later. We finally found these ceramic ramekins at World Market that were about 5 inches in diameter. They only cost about 2 dollars each. As you can see in the picture below we also bought a few smaller ramekins to see if we wanted a smaller cake layer on top. I will tell you now it was easiest to have just two 5in circle cakes. It made it easier to put the icing on since that is the trickiest part. 

One cake box mix filled all 6 of these ramekins. So if you were just going with the 5in ramekins, you might get away with filling 5 with one box of cake mix.
 What we did, starting about a week or two before Kiki's party, was bake a bunch of batches of cakes one at a time. We would make a batch, cut the tops off to make them flat, flash freeze them on a cookie sheet, and then store them in a ziplock bag in the freezer until the day of the party. It would be easier to choose one type of cake but we wanted the girls to have the option to choose between white and chocolate so we had to bake a lot of cakes! I think all together, pictured below is two boxes of chocolate cake and three boxes of white. The great thing is you can find box cake mix at the dollar store so it didn't cost us much it just took a lot of time! 
The morning of the party we pulled all of the cakes out of the freezer and placed them on parchment paper to defrost. It only takes about 2 hours!
Next is the fun part! I let Kiki pick out tons of candy that she thought would be good to decorate the cakes with. A good place to pick out candy is the dollar store because your kids can go crazy and it won't cost you a fortune! I also found theses small plastic bowls at the dollar store, 12 for $1. These were perfect because the girls could pass them around the table.
   
 I got this cute 3 tier serving platter from IKEA. The 12 little bowls fit perfectly on the plates.
You can also just place the little bowls around the table.
   
 One of my favorite things to do when decorating for a birthday is hanging regular balloons from the ceiling with curling ribbon. It's so much cheaper and better than dealing with helium!
 The other goodies we got for the party were also all from the dollar store! They had these cute aprons, the "silver" plates, and also a spatula/spreader. We got one per person and they got to take them home after the party as favors along with their yummy cake!
Here is another look at the table with Kiki's donut birthday cake on the corner.
  
We also scored because we found these pastry bags with different decorating tips for icing at the Dollar store! Seriously, they have EVERYTHING there!
We set it up with every color of the rainbow. Each pastry bag held one tub of icing. We put three colors of icing on one end of the table and three at the other end.
   
 When all the girls arrived we let them pick out two white cakes, two chocolate cakes or one white and one chocolate cake. Then, we let them choose a whole tub of either chocolate or vanilla icing. One tub was the perfect amount of icing for the center and then to cover the whole cake. 
FYI, You can also get tubs of icing from the dollar store!

I told the girls before they started that they couldn't mess up their cakes! If they felt they didn't like something just add more icing and candy! 
At one point, a little piece of the cake fell off of one of the girls cakes. No problem at all, we decided to make a pink and purple waterfall out of that part! 
It was all about having fun, not about a perfect end product!
Everyone had a blast!
 Here are my little chefs having fun decorating their cakes!
The birthday girl got to wear this cute chef hat to match her apron!
Since Garren was the only sibling present at the party, we set him up at his own little table right by the girls! He loved being a part of the fun!
As you can see here, this type of party can even be for younger children. My son is 4 and he did a wonderful job decorating his cake with little help.
   
 Another thing we found at Target was small piñatas, one for each girl. They had fun breaking their own personal piñata open. Garren got sad because he wanted to brake one also so I found some extra candy and duct taped one back together. He didn't know the difference!
   
Here is Kiki's end product! 
What a great way to end your birthday, on a SUGAR HIGH! 
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