Monday, October 17, 2011

Recipe Review: Apple Pie Bars

Way back in August we celebrated my husband's 29th birthday with the help of my parents, and had almost a week of fun before I broke my wrist. This is one of those projects that I had intended to blog about in August, but just never got to. Since apples are in season now, it's an ideal time to try these apple-filled bars from Disney Family Fun magazine.
Let me first start by saying that although the recipe is geared towards kids cooking, this recipe for apple pie bars took us two adults and a toddler to complete, and was at times very frustrating. That being said, the results were actually fantastic, and when we make it again, we won't worry so much about the issues that arose.

Firstly, the dough for the apple pie bars is very sticky, and did not seem enough for the recipe that is made in a jelly-roll pan. Here is a photo of my mom attempting to cover the filling.
It never did cover the top, but we learned that it didn't matter, as it spread a tiny bit while it baked, and had a very nice and even top crust in the end, despite the thinness and holes. Here we are sprinkling on the sugar and cinnamon before baking:

 The bars right out of the oven (before glazing):

Mina glazing the apple pie bars:
The finished product:
As you can see, the glaze felt nice on the fingers, and was tasty as well :)

We liked them even better the second day.
As a whole, it's a good recipe, but maybe not the most appropriate for kids to make. Especially not for kids that like perfection or are easily frustrated. We loved the flavors, amount of sweetness, and the addition of corn flake crumbs to soak up some of the apple liquid and give it a bit of a toasty flavor. My husband is a huge fan of apple pie, and he absolutely loved these. We all thought they were phenomenal for breakfast the next day as well! So, give them a try, but don't sweat the small stuff. They'll be tasty no matter what.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fall Craft: Leaf Crowns

When I saw this craft in one of my old books, Linnea's Almanac, I knew we had to make it with the beautiful leaves from the maple tree in our side yard. With bright colored leaves woven together, the fall leaf crowns seemed like such a simple way to celebrate the uniqueness of the season.

Here's how you can make your own:
1. Start with a small stack of leaves. It helps if they are not dry and crunchy, but still soft and bendable. I also looked for ones with longer stems, as the stems hold the whole crown together.
2. Cut the very tips of the stems off, so that the leaf stems are slender and easier to poke through the other leaves.

Note: At this point you can either fold your leaves in half lengthwise before weaving them together, like I did for the crown in the next 2 photos, resulting in a flatter bottom of the crown. Or leave your leaf open to its full shape (as I did for the crown at the top of the page), resulting in a fuller-shaped crown.

3. Start with two leaves. Using the stem of one leaf, poke it through the other leaf near where the stem meets the leaf to join them.  Take a third leaf, and poke it through both of the other leaves which are already joined. Continue making a chain of leaves, poking the stem of the new leaf though the others near the stem/leaf point, until it is the right length to fit on your child's head when the ends are joined.
4. Join the ends together by using the loose stems toward the end of your leaf chain.

Here is my first finished crown with my copy of Linnea's Almanac, which has beautiful ideas for each month of the year:
Mina wearing the first crown:
I look forward to doing this project with Mina next year, when I hope she will be able to make one all by herself. This would be a perfect craft for a preschooler, or child in elementary school that has the patience to sit and concentrate for a few minutes at a time.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

End of Summer Wrap-Up

We're so glad to be back after two long months! For those who never heard the story, I broke my wrist the night before Mina's third birthday. I was running down the stairs to check on the cream cakes baking in the oven, and slipped at the bottom of the staircase, landing on my wrist and breaking the radius. After two casts, a splint, and some physical therapy, I am finally ready to type again, as well as get back to all the fun stuff Mina and I love to do and write about. Over the next few weeks I'll write about some of the projects we documented at the end of summer, and get you all caught up with our lives.

The picture at the top was taken just yesterday as we picked our last eggplant off of the potted eggplant we planted at the beginning of summer. We only harvested two eggplants over the season, but they were so fun to watch turn purple and round and funny. And it's always nice to pick a vegetable and cook it within minutes, it is very satisfying. Children love picking vegetables. Do you know how hard I had to defend this gorgeous purple eggplant for the last month to allow it the time to grow big enough to eat? It was nearly irresistible to Mina, but somehow it survived, and made a delicious Chinese eggplant and ground pork dish for last night's dinner. Mina will just have to occupy herself with the green onions now, as that is all that is still thriving in the garden by now. I hope to get garlic in the ground soon, for harvesting next summer. This will be a new plant for me, and as it is Mina's favorite, we are very excited!

We're gearing up for lots of cold weather ahead, and starting to prepare the house for long days of indoor play. We've started a nature table (which I'll write about soon), hung some felt boards on the wall, and need to start a toy sorting project to make the ones she actually plays with easier to access. We've also been stocking up on pink fall/winter clothes, as "cool pink" (as opposed to hot pink) is the only color Magic Mina will wear most days.

What are you doing to transition from late Summer to Fall to Winter? I'd also love to hear any ideas of things you'd like to read about from kid-friendly recipes to reading lists, crafts, etc.!

We're so glad to be back, and as always, thanks for reading!
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