Try these gooey York peppermint brownies for a delicious treat

by

Laura Falin

posted in Life & Home

Chocolate + mint = my absolute favorite flavor combination ever. Like, ever.

And somehow, the holidays are the time when we trot out the mint and chocolate the most (ok, that and Girl Scout cookie season). It’s just such a tasty combination…you can’t go wrong.

Try these gooey York peppermint brownies for a delicious treat

 

And so, IMHO, the only way York peppermint patties can get more delicious is if you combine them with even more chocolate. Lots more. And then bake ’em up so everything gets all gooey and melty and everyone ends up with chocolatey fingers and brownie all over their messy faces. That’s how we do things around here. And it doesn’t hurt to load up on bath soap and stain remover for when you’re finished. I’m jussayin’.

These brownies are combined all in one pan — none of this melting chocolate and then adding it and getting more dishes dirty. Do it all in one saucepan and be done. Because if you’re going to be washing faces and kids, you don’t need to be doing more dishes, too.

York peppermint brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c butter
  • 2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 bag York peppermint patty candies

Try these gooey York peppermint brownies for a delicious treat

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium sized saucepan, melt chocolate and butter together, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add sugar, flour, and baking powder. Add vanilla and stir. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix in between each addition. Pour 1/2 the batter into a greased 8×8″ baking pan. Cover the top of the batter with York patties.

Try these gooey York peppermint brownies for a delicious treat

Pour the remaining batter over the top of the peppermints and bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool and serve.

For more tasty holiday treats, try one of these:

Photos courtesy Laura Falin

For more kids’ activities and easy recipes, you can find Laura at Peace but not Quiet, and on facebook and Pinterest.

Salt dough ornaments are a fun kids Christmas craft

by

Laura Falin

posted in Life & Home

This project has just about every fun activity you can cram into a craft. Rolling and cutting dough. Baking stuff. Painting and decorating. It takes a while for the ornaments to be completely finished, but every step along the way is pretty entertaining.

salt dough ornament-pinterest

And there are so many possibilities — have the kids make a bunch of the same shape, like hearts, to put all over the tree. Have them make ornaments for grandparents or neighbors. Make one each year and put your child’s thumbprint in the middle as a keepsake.

sparkly Christmas tree

Salt Dough Ornaments

Supplies:

  • 2 c flour
  • 1 c salt
  • 1 c water
  • cookie cutters
  • white spray paint (optional)
  • acrylic paints, glitter glue, or other decorations
  • chopstick or skewer
  • ribbon, embroidery thread, or yarn

Mix flour and salt together in a large bowl. Add water gradually, until you have a firm dough (you may not need the entire cup of water). If your dough gets too sticky, add more flour.

Roll out dough and use the cookie cutters to cut your ornament shapes. Poke a hole in the top with your chopstick or skewer — this will be where you thread your ribbon to hang your ornament. Place shapes on a cookie sheet and bake at 250° for 3 hours, flipping ornaments over once an hour. When you flip the ornaments, also check the hole you made with the chopstick and reopen it if necessary.

spray painted ornaments

When ornaments are baked and cooled, you can give them a coat of white spray paint, just to cover the whole area and even out any brown spots you got while baking (this is optional). Then paint with acrylic paints and decorate with other materials.

kids painting

When the paint is dry, string your ribbon, embroidery thread, or yarn through the hole at the top and hang or wrap your ornament.

Photos courtesy Laura Falin

For more kids’ activities and easy recipes, you can find Laura at Peace but not Quiet, and on facebook and Pinterest.

Make leaf place cards with kids this Thanksgiving

by

Laura Falin

posted in Life & Home

I know it seems like one more thing to worry about on a busy day, but I really love having a kids’ craft on-hand for Thanksgiving. Here’s why:

When you have extended family over for Thanksgiving, with people who don’t see your kids very often, it’s a great icebreaker. It gives people who don’t have much experience with kids something to do with them. It keeps the kids occupied. And it’s a way they can contribute to the dinner, too.

leaf place tags w text-- pinterest

These are fun on so many levels. It was last Thanksgiving, actually, that my entire family became addicted to adult coloring books. We sat around for four days coloring and coloring. Family bonding, man.

Supplies:

  • adult coloring books or pages (you can find a bunch online you can print out for free)
  • gel pens, colored pencils, or other pens to color with
  • construction paper
  • glue
  • scissors

Instructions:

Begin with some adult (or kid!) coloring pages and have everyone spend a little time coloring together (also, it’s totally worth it to splurge on gel pens — they are so fun to use).

Alexis coloring

Once you have some coloring pages filled in, draw a leaf on a blank piece of construction paper. It doesn’t have to be perfect…in fact, you can have the kids freehand draw their own leaves. Or if leaves haven’t fallen yet where you are, you can find a leaf outside to trace. Cut your leaf out and use it to trace around part of your coloring page.

maple leaf

Cut out your coloring page in the shape of the leaf. Then cut a small piece of construction paper to glue on top (this is where you’ll write the name).

nametag cutout

Glue the construction paper to the leaf, then write the names of the guests on each using your gel pens.

place tags-vertical

That’s it!

You could also use patterned scrapbook paper for the leaves, if you didn’t want to color. Or watercolor leaves. Or stamped paper — any paper with a fun background would work. Use your imagination and have fun!

For more holiday ideas, try one of these:

turkey-pinterest

-Turkey napkin holders

reindeer-cups

-Reindeer crunch

 

horizontal-hot-chocolate

-Pumpkin spice hot chocolate

Photos courtesy Laura Falin

For more kids’ activities and easy recipes, you can find Laura at Peace but not Quiet, and on facebook and Pinterest.

Holiday sides: Heavenly scalloped potatoes

by

Lindsay Weiss

posted in Life & Home

I know that for some families it’s sacrilege to forego mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving. If you feel strongly about those mashed potatoes, file these lovelies away in your Christmas or Hanukkah recipe box. (These scalloped potatoes are killer with a beef tenderloin on Christmas!)

But if you’re looking for something different and drop dead delicious, I’ve got just the thing. These potatoes are so much more than the sum of their humble parts. Heavy cream, garlic, potatoes and cheese should not be this addicting. Something about the creaminess of the potatoes underneath and the crunchy, cheesy broiled topping on the top is heavenly.

Whether you make for Thanksgiving, Christmas/Hanukkah or BOTH — these might be one of the best things you make all year.

Looking for more Sweets and Eats for the Whole Family? Find Lindsay at Sugar Mama.

heavenly scalloped potatoes 2_2_small

Heavenly Scalloped Potatoes
You can also do these in 6-8 individual ramekins. Bake time is more like 25 min. for those.

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 sprig fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
butter
2-3 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch slices
salt and pepper
1/2 cup gruyere cheese, grated (plus more for broiling)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a saucepan, heat the cream, thyme (whole sprig), garlic and nutmeg.

While cream is heating, butter a 9×9 casserole dish. Place a layer of potato in an overlapping pattern and season with salt and pepper. Remove cream from heat, then pour a little over potatoes. Top with grated cheese. Repeat for 2 more layers.

Bake uncovered for 45 minutes. Sprinkle more cheese on top and broil until cheese browns, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6.

Apple Cinnamon Rolls

by

Kami Bigler

posted in Life & Home

Apple Cinnamon Rolls are so good! I mean, cinnamon rolls are so amazing that there are very few ways to make them better. However, apples just push them over the edge. Especially right now with apples in season. I have a new favorite apple: Sweet Tango. Have you tried them before? They’re so good! They’re the perfect balance of sweet and tangy. You can use what ever type of apple you like for this recipe.

We put this visual how-to together for you and the recipe is listed below.

Apple-Cinnamon-Rolls-recipe-NoBiggie.net_

Do you love to bake with apples? Is Rhodes dough available where you live? I hope so! It’s a Utah brand, and we are so lucky to have it available at all of our grocery stores. Hopefully you have something similar…and good that you love. Or you can always make your own. :)

Here’s the recipe:

Apple-Cinnamon-Rolls-perfect-this-time-of-year-NoBiggie.net_

Ingredients:
1 loaf Rhodes bread dough
½ cup butter
⅓ cup sugar
2 tsp. Cinnamon
1 Cup chopped & lightly sautéed apples
Butter Cream Frosting recipe:
2 TBL melted butter
3 TBL milk
2 cups powdered sugar.

Instructions:
Thaw a loaf of Rhodes Bread and let it rise.
Then roll it out to about 12″ by 8″ and butter it. Sprinkle it with ⅓ cup sugar and 2 tsp. cinnamon. Scatter 1 cup of finely chopped apples over the dough.
Roll up and cut into 1″ slices.
Place in a greased pan and let it raise a second time for 45 minutes.
Bake for 35-40 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
Frosting: Add more milk or sugar as needed to desired consistency

Have you ever added fruit to your cinnamon rolls before?

*For more craft tutorials, great recipes, free printables, fun giveaways, and real life you can follow Kami at NoBiggie.net, or find her on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.


Apple cider martinis are a great holiday cocktail or mocktail

by

Laura Falin

posted in Life & Home

We’re a special drink family.

Adults…kids…we all love celebrating events with sparkling cider or special drinks. Even the first snow (which we finally got last week) deserves some homemade hot cocoa (maybe even pumpkin spice hot chocolate? Yes. That.) So it’s no surprise that we have our fair share of cocktails and mocktails we like to have on holidays. Apple cider martinis are great — yummy fall flavors that are perfect for Thanksgiving, or whenever else you might feel like a little cider.

apple cider martini-pinterest

Apple Cider Martini (Cocktail)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tb sugar
  • 3 oz. (2 shots) apple cider — storebought or homemade
  • 1.5 oz (1 shot) apple flavored vodka — I used Seagram’s apple vodka
  • .75 oz (1/2 shot) triple sec
  • cinnamon sticks for garnish

sugar rimmed glass

Instructions:

Mix cinnamon and sugar and pour into a saucer or on another flat surface. Run an orange or apple slice around the rims of your glasses to wet them and dip glass rims in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Set aside.

Fill a martini shaker with ice. Add cider, vodka, and triple sec and shake vigorously. Pour into prepared glass. Add cinnamon stick and serve. Each recipe makes one martini.

cinnamon sticks

Apple Cider Martini (Mocktail)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tb sugar
  • 3 oz (2 shots) apple cider — storebought or homemade
  • 1.5 oz (1 shot) ginger ale
  • cinnamon sticks for garnish

Instructions:

Mix cinnamon and sugar and pour into a saucer. Run an orange or apple slice around the rims of your glasses to wet them and dip glass rims in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Set aside.

Pour cider into a martini glass. Top with ginger ale. Add cinnamon sticks and serve.

Wishing you a very, very happy Thanksgiving this week. It may sound cheesy, but I am so thankful for you and for this community that lifts up and encourages parents as we do the hard, hard work of raising our babies. I hope you know how much I appreciate you all.

Photos courtesy Laura Falin

For more kids’ activities and easy recipes, you can find Laura at Peace but not Quiet, and on facebook and Pinterest.

Thanksgiving sides: Slow-cooker glazed carrots

by

Lindsay Weiss

posted in Life & Home

Glazed carrots. These are a staple on our holiday table, probably because they’re the one vegetable everyone likes. They have to be slathered in brown sugar (so basically they’re dessert) and tender to chew. Nobody likes a crunchy cooked carrot.

Until recently, the carrots were one of the last things I prepared before the holiday meal. I’d have them cut and ready, then sauté them in butter and brown sugar right before serving. This was fine, but there are always a thousand things I needed to be doing at the last minute, so I wondered if I could offload this to my trusty slow cooker. Because really, it’s the best appliance for a slow, tender cook.

This. Was. Genius.

You can start these on the Crock Pot five hours before your meal and they will do all the work for you. (Also, they smell amazing.) The sweet brown sugar bakes right into each carrot and leaves plenty of buttery, brown sugary juice to pour over them before serving.

All you have to do is throw them in a serving bowl and sprinkle a little parsley over the top and they are ready to eat. No last minute sauté; you’ve just freed up 15 minutes of critical, last-minute time! Woo-hoo!!! (Now that’s something to toast to this holiday season.)

Looking for more Sweets and Eats for the Whole Family? Find Lindsay at Sugar Mama.

Crock pot glazed carrots 2_2_small

Crock Pot Glazed Carrots

The sauce generated in the slow cooker is pretty thin. If you want it thicker and stickier, when the carrots are done throw the sauce in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Continue boiling until it reduces and thickens, about 5 min, stirring frequently. Then pour over carrots.

1 bag (32 oz) baby carrots
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Spray 3 1/2- to 4-quart Crock Pot with cooking spray. Place carrots; sprinkle with salt, brown sugar and butter in the crock.

Cover; cook on High heat setting 4 to 5 hours, stirring after 2 hours, or until carrots are desired tenderness.

Spoon carrots into serving bowl; spoon any sauce from slow cooker over carrots. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Stir before serving. Sprinkle with parsley.

Serves 6.

Tropical Smoothie Bowl

by

Kami Bigler

posted in Life & Home

Have you ever heard of Smoothie Bowls? They are all the rage these days, and I’m a fan. All you need to do is take your favorite smoothie recipe and make it into a beautiful creation topped with fresh fruit along with crunchy nuts and seeds. It all started with the popular Acai Bowls, but if you don’t have easy access to the added Acai berry, you can make a smoothie bowl without it. It’s a great way to start your day. This smoothie bowl is filling and full of energy boosting ingredients to get you going. It’s quick and easy to throw together. They’re so beautiful you won’t mind making one for any guests you may have staying at your house.

Raspberry-Mango-Kiwi-Smoothie-Bowl-NoBiggie.net_

Raspberry Mango Kiwi Smoothie Bowl

Ingredients:
handful of raspberries
half of a mango, peeled and sliced
handful of frozen grapes
handful of pineapple chunks
half of a kiwi sliced
handful of ice cubes
1 cup of water

Instructions:
Place all ingredients into your blender.
Blend until smooth.
Add more water, or other liquid if needed to help blend if the smoothie is too thick.
Pour into a small bowl.
Top with sliced mango, frozen raspberries, sliced kiwi, unsweetened coconut and chia seeds.
Enjoy!

It’s so easy and so delicious…not to mention beautiful! There are so many other options for ingredients. Really, the possibilities are endless.

Here are a few other toppings we love:
-roasted unsalted sunflower seeds
-granola
-raw or roasted nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, etc.)
-shredded unsweetened coconut
-hemp seeds
-crispy rice cereal
-dried fruit

What are your favorite things to put in a smoothie bowl?

*For more craft tutorials, great recipes, free printables, fun giveaways, and real life you can follow Kami at NoBiggie.net, or find her on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.


Make pumpkin baked oatmeal for holiday guests

by

Laura Falin

posted in Life & Home

I love having out-of-town guests for the holidays.

I’m not like this mom (mostly because I don’t have it together enough to clean that far in advance). So, I’m sorry but if you visit, you get a mildly clean-ish house and you may have to come grocery shopping with me.

But I do like to have a nice breakfast. Breakfast is my jam. We’ll hang out in our jammies, you and I, with kids running all over the place, and we’ll have a special breakfast of some sort and drink way too much coffee (if it’s a weekend, we might spike it), and we’ll catch up on what’s been going on since I saw you last.

oatmeal

This pumpkin baked oatmeal breakfast is a great one because you can make it up ahead of time and then just reheat it for a few minutes in the morning. No one has to wait for 45 minutes to eat or anything. Make it for Thanksgiving guests…or even Christmas guests. There’s no rule that you have to stop serving pumpkin when November ends.

pumpkin oatmeal-pinterest

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 c oats
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 c milk
  • 1 15 oz can pureed pumpkin
  • 1/2 c raisins.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°

Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together vanilla, milk, and pumpkin. Pour pumpkin mixture into dry ingredients and stir until combined. Add raisins and stir just until they’re mixed in.

Pour oatmeal into an 8″x8″ pan. Bake at 375° for 40 minutes or until oatmeal is baked through and nicely brown on top. Serve.

For more delicious breakfast recipes, try one of these:

Photos courtesy Laura Falin

For more kids’ activities and easy recipes, you can find Laura at Peace but not Quiet, and on facebook and Pinterest.

This family of 6 co-sleeps in a bed you have to see to believe

by

Sara McGinnis

posted in Life & Home

Could it be it’s the size of bed and not how many people are in it that’s the key factor in making co-sleeping work?

All I know is that suddenly my disinterest in having a family bed is weakening after setting eyes up on the cozy monster Kim Constable shares with her husband and four children. Take a peek at the bed she, former rugby player Ryan Constable, 11-year-old Corey, 9-year-old Kai, 6-year-old Maya, and 5-year-old Jack all can snuggle up in:

family bed co-sleeping

Obviously, this is no regular bed. It’s made out of one king size bed, one super king and a single — all joined together to make one huge 18-foot bed!

“Before the big bed was created I spent my nights bed running about from room to room trying to get all the children to sleep,” Kim explained to Belfast Telegraph. “I am there for my children 24 hours a day and night. Whether they have a bad dream or want a drink of water, I will be there for them during the night just like I am during the day.”

It isn’t just the bed arrangements that are unusual in the homeschooling Constable household. The bedtimes are, too.

Kim went on to explain they “let the kids decide when they are ready to go to bed and most nights that will be between 10pm and 11pm” when she and Ryan are ready for bed. “We will all go and get our PJs on and clean our teeth and all that happens together as a family. Then we all snuggle down together and talk or read a story.”

She usually goes to bed with the younger kids, while 11-year-old Corey tends to stay up later. If it’s been a busy day the younger ones will tell their mom they’re ready for bed about 8 or 9pm, and “that is okay, too.” Kim will take them up to settle them in bed, and then she and Ryan will go to bed later.

“Corey is a real night owl so he will go to bed anytime between midnight and 3am,” Kim shared, however he will go to bed with his siblings if the family has something scheduled the next morning. “But because we homeschool, he doesn’t have to get up at any particular time unless we have morning activities. So if he goes to bed late, he will maybe not get up until about 1pm.”

“Again I don’t force anything onto my children, I let them set their own pace. As they are homeschooled Corey doesn’t have to be up for a certain time.”

Check out Kim talking about their co-sleeping arrangements with This Morning:

Kim, who describes herself on Facebook as “Yogi, vegan, unschooling mum of 4 kids, fitness fanatic and founder of www.deyogatox.com,” was kind enough to speak with BabyCenter despite her obviously busy schedule. A peek at what she shared with us…

What has the reaction to your giant family bed been like?

“It’s funny because you can’t really appreciate the size of the bed until you see it with your own eyes, but it’s huge! People usually have mixed reactions; they either love it or they hate it! Camps are very firmly divided.

Many people say ‘Oh my goodness, I would love to have this for my family because it would make my life so much easier and we would all sleep better!’ or they say ‘There is no way I would ever do this with my kids. My bed is my bed and I won’t share it with anyone except my husband.’ When friends have seen my bed in the flesh (so to speak) they are usually in awe of the sheer size of it. And quite often they will admit that it looks extremely cosy, even if co-sleeping isn’t something that they’ve ever done.

My experience is that we tend to do what was done with us when we were growing up. Of course there are exceptions (me being one of them!) but for the most part I find that if you didn’t co-sleep with your parents, then you are less likely to sleep with your own kids. Also, many people are against co sleeping because at one point or another they have been squished into a double bed with their husband and child or children and suffered a terrible night sleep. So this is their point of reference. But when you bring in extra beds and make sure everyone has enough room, co sleeping can be very enjoyable.”

How do you handle those who say negative things about the arrangement?

“Parenting tends to bring up very strong emotions in people. We all want to do the very best we can for our kids and we want to believe that the way we are doing it is the best way. So when we see things that are different to how we’re doing it, it naturally brings up fears about our own parenting choices. I understand this and don’t judge it.

When people say negative things it’s really because they just don’t understand it. They make assumptions about how we live and parent, based on their own experience and beliefs, that generally aren’t accurate. But I’ve been doing things differently my whole life! I’ve always been “the black sheep” so to speak, so I am used to people judging me.

After a while you realise that the negativity says more about them that it does about you, and you learn to just smile and move on. I honestly just don’t let it bother me. In fact, it’s got to the point where I love reading people’s comments on social media just so I can have a good giggle. People are so serious! And it always makes me smile. I’m a very lighthearted person and not much gets me down.”

A peek at Kim, Ryan and their four sweeties:


All photos shared with permission from Kim Constable, whom you’re welcomed to connect with on Facebook and Instagram.

How long do you imagine your family will continue sleeping this way?

“Actually about six months ago I started sleeping regularly in the spare room with my husband, leaving all the kids in the big bed together. I asked them if they’d be happy for me to sleep with daddy in the other room and they said they didn’t mind at all. They all have each other and take comfort in sleeping tucked up together.

Then about 3 months ago, Kai my second son who is 9, decided that he wanted his own room so we moved one of the beds out into another spare room for him. So now it’s only a 12 foot bed and sleeps Corey the eldest, and the two youngest children. Corey seems to love sleeping with the little ones and has no plans to have his own room just yet, although I imagine it will happen soon. If someone wakes in the night they either snuggle up closer to each other, or they come and get into bed with Ryan and I. Or I will go and get into bed with them. We’re very relaxed about sleeping arrangements!”

Anything else you care to share with our readers?

“If you look at 99.9% of the parenting manuals on the market, they are all geared towards meeting the needs of the parents and not the child. They are all about satisfying the parent’s need for control and very few, if any, address what is healthy and optimal for the child.

I think that parents needs are important and if the thought of co sleeping fills you with horror, then you definitely shouldn’t do it. It wouldn’t be healthy for you, or the child. But if you have a secret desire to see what it’s like to bed share with your children, don’t be worried about what society will say, and just give it a try. Nothing is permanent and very few things are irreversible. Rules are made to be broken and if you obey all the rules, you’ll miss all the fun.

Making the decision to be more relaxed about bedtimes, sleeping and parenting in general has completely transformed our lives. Everyone is much happier because of it. Your children are only young for such a short time. Make every moment count and you’ll never regret it.”

Seeing as how my kids are 12 and 10 now, and have been sleeping on their own most of their lives, I don’t imagine a mega-sized family bed is in my future. If I’d thought of it years ago, though? We just might have given it a try.

Last year at this time my family of four was sharing a 27ft camper together. There was a double bed on one end for my husband and I, and bunkbeds for the boys no more than a handful of steps away. Although we weren’t technically co-sleeping, we were most certainly room-sharing — and I kind of liked it. There was peace of mind I’d never had before being able to easily see and hear them.

But, full disclosure here, there was also farts, snoring, and teeth grinding.

That being said, I do kind of miss it now that we’re back to a traditional house and room arrangement. Seems a little too late for me to get on the mega-bed bandwagon, but perhaps it’s not for you?

Does the idea of an enormous bed change your interest in co-sleeping? Why or why not?

Photos shared with permission from Kim Constable, whom you’re welcomed to connect with on Facebook and Instagram.

If you’re curious, you can check out Kim’s recent TEDx Talk about parenting here.

 

Ready for more? Check out how one mom of 5, built this ultimate co-sleeping bed:

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Photo: Earth Mama Photography