Spiders on Their Webs Snack

My husband currently does pest control. While studying for his different licenses, he would read our daughter his training materials (yeah, I know. There's a chance we may win the Nerdiest Parents of the Year award, but she really did like them... even beg to have them read to her). She in particular loves spiders. So, last year, for a preschool meet up that I hosted, the kids learned about the letter S and the number 8 and ate these delicious little treats. I thought now was a good time to share them with you.

Spiders on Their Webs Snack

Jumbo Marshmallows
White Chocolate Chips
Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
Pretzel Sticks

Will also need: 
Wax paper
2 Microwavable bowls

1. Melt Semi Sweet Chocolate
2. Place Marshmallow on skewer, dip in chocolate.
3. Put 8 pretzel sticks into chocolate-marshmallow spider body so they look like legs and place on wax paper while chocolate sets.
4. Melt White Chocolate.
5. Lay pretzel sticks on wax paper in the shape of giant astericks and drizzle white chocolate over sticks so they look like webs.
6. For fast enjoyment place snack in freezer for 3 minutes so chocolate will set faster.
7. Enjoy!

This was the messiest part of this snack... adding the pretzel sticks to the mallow.
This part was a little tricky... the chocolate wanted to fall much thicker than the thin web I had envisioned... But it still turned out looking like a web.
You know their good when your ham of a daughter is too into her snack to want to pose for the camera.
These were so good! Is it okay if I confess to grabbing a left-over marshmallow, a handful of chocolate chips and some pretzel sticks and eating them together just about every time I walked through the kitchen for the weeks following this snack?? Yep. I so did.

Mallow, chocolate chips, pretzels... I think we are onto something good here. Makes me think of sweet and salty s'mores... oh yeah!

I'd love to know:
What treats do you make around Halloween for your family?

Happy Snacking :)


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And Most Importantly, It's Caffeinated...

I am a bit of a "foo-foo" coffee drinker. Or maybe a coffee snob. Or maybe I am just picky.

I find instant coffee will not do. Folger's definitely won't. And anything out of the Mr. Coffee, um, pass.

It just doesn't taste good. And I want to start my day out with something that I enjoy.

I found Pioneers Woman's method of making iced coffee, and it has changed my life.


Thank you PW! You have no idea how much some of your posts have changed my life. Berry-buttered, lemon-zested, egg-yolk only and half and half  french toast... all amazing revelations to how good french toast can be (my special occasion brunch go-to recipe) and one on the menu this week: crash hot potatoes, thanks to my friend Janet's recommendation. I can't wait to try em. Though PW I want to know how it is that your site is so full of drool-worthy deliciousness but you are so slender?! Do you eat your food?!

Okay, enough PW praises, back to the coffee: It's cold. It tastes good. I don't have to own an espresso machine or know how to operate fancy machinery. And most importantly, it's caffeinated.

That really is the most important part!

I found the Pioneer Woman's directions to be a bit overwhelming since I don't own large items that allow me to cook for an army (or a family with teenage boys, so not there yet) and cheesecloth is a huge pain in the rear end. So I made some improvisations to make it work for me and thought I would share because truly this has revolutionized my morning. I look forward to waking up, because it means I get to enjoy my coffee. Bible reading and prayer time you are mine because I want to wake up early, and this caffeinated beverage wakes me up enough to not mumble through my prayers.

It may sound silly, and I may be alone on this. But this coffee has changed my life.

I love you coffee!

Here's what I do:

1 cup of ground espresso beans...exact measurement not important. (The espresso is important! And if you are grinding them yourself, do grind them to a fine espresso ground quality.) I've used Cafe Bustello like PW recommends. It's cheap, and it's good. A friend blessed me with some Starbucks espresso beans...their Christmas blend. Thank you friend! That's what I am currently using. (I am going to be honest. I enjoy my Cafe Bustello just as much as my Starbucks ground. The Starbucks tastes slightly better and decidely fresher but not enough to persuade me to spend the extra money. I will say though, that beans are now my thing. I LOVE the smell of fresh ground coffee! Yum!)

Dump into a half gallon pitcher.

Fill with cold water (just the cold setting on your faucet will do.)

Stir to make all them coffee granules wet.

Set in fridge 8-10 hours (overnight)

Line a wire mesh strainer with thin, non-fuzzy, flat, cotton dishtowel. I fold mine over so it's doubled. (About the towel: I picked my dish towel up at the dollar store years ago. I love these towels. I never use these kind for dishes or hands. They are great for rolling dough out on or for covering a bowl with rising bread dough in it. They also make a great cheesecloth substitute. Espresso grounds don't sneak through it like I found with the cheesecloth and I don't have to cut anything up or wonder whether its worth the effort to reuse it. I just dump the espresso ground into trash and run water through it and throw it in the dirty towel bin. I launder it with my towels. Easy! But do know that it will stain your towel a lovely coffee-washed tan. And by the way, so you can benefit from my experiences, paper coffee filters take FOREVER for the liquid to get through and catch far too much of the silt that espresso ground leaves behind so you have to constantly change out the paper mid-pour because it stops letting liquid through. Also, the metal reusable filters do not catch enough of the silt so they are also not ideal.)

Put a funnel onto your coffee container. (Mine is less than a half gallon... that's okay. I just end up with a little extra left over. I move funnel to my cup and pour directly into my glass. Can't waste the stuff, right?!) Pour the delicious life-empowering liquid into the towel-lined strainer into the container.

Enjoy coffee! See below*

Clean up. (Notice this comes after enjoying the coffee. This is important. Clean up happens much more happily when caffeinated.)

This lasts me 10-14 days. A little bit of work one day for almost 2 weeks of delicious, inexpensive caffeinated beverage enjoyment. Definitely worth it! Also, my budget agrees with me now that I rarely drive thru 5bucks, er, uh, I mean, Starbucks anymore (not knocking the Bucks though. I love me a delicious coffee treat every now and again, I just can't afford it daily.)

*To enjoy my coffee... I place a mere 3 ice cubes into a 12 oz. glass. (Only 3 because I want some to keep it cold but I don't want to take up too much space in my glass. That space is precious and must be offered to the coffee liquid! Ha!). I put 3 pumps of chocolate syrup for coffee into my glass. I fill glass just past halfway with coffee. I then fill my glass to the top with milk. I stir and enjoy. (Equal parts coffee to milk ratio.) If you want to be low to no fat, use low fat or skim milk. If you are feeling naughty, use whole milk or half and half. The PW suggests condensed milk as well for the especially naughty.

By the way, about the chocolate for all my fellow die-hard mocha lovers: I buy mine at Smart and Final in the large coffee-shop size. I like it like this because 1. You get a pump. Easy to use. Easy to measure just the right amount every time. 2. It is SOOOO much cheaper. Like 4-6 times cheaper than buying a small bottle at grocery store. Only suggestion: store in the fridge unless you actually run a coffee shop. Mine lasts me about 2-3 months, like 30 times as long as it does at a coffee shop and definitely enough time for it to go bad if left out. (Chocolate syrup can mold... gross, right?!)

Other tasty suggestions: Try a heaping spoonful of brown sugar or raw sugar for my sweet-loving coffee friends. The molasses attached to the sugar granules make this WAY richer, fuller and carmelly tasting than just plain ol' granulated sugar. You could also use a flavored creamer (Not at all how I am able to enjoy this beverage, but, hey, to each their own).

Wishing you many great mornings!

Simplified Instructions:

1 cup of ground espresso beans.
2 half gallon pitchers
mesh strainer
Flat cotton cloth

1. Place about one cup of espresso grounds into half gallon pitcher. Fill with cold water to top. Stir to get all the grounds wet.
2. Place in fridge overnight or 8-10 hours.
3. Place funnel over empty half gallon pitcher. Line mesh strainer with cloth. Pour liquid into strainer and into pitcher.
4. Enjoy however you please :)

Thanksgiving Traditions: Kite Pie

My fondest Thanksgiving tradition is found during the pie baking. Of course, my favorite tradition would be found there. I do love pie!

It all started when I was around my daughter's age. My mom was busy making pies. I am guessing, only because I now have a daughter of my own, that I was all over her and her pies and asking her a million questions. Perhaps, she, in an exasperated effort to not snap at me, took the leftover pie dough scraps and let me play with them. However it began; when I was a wee pre-school aged kid, we invented "kite pie."

Don't ask me about the name. I was 3 or 4. It's called Kite Pie because I named it, and I had a vivid imagination, and beyond that I really have no clue where I thought that one up. Apparently, I liked kites? It's still the running joke at the Thanksgiving: How did Amanda come up that that name? Whatever. Truth be told, I like family inside jokes, even if they are at my expense (it just gives me permission to pull out of my memory vault other family inside jokes on my siblings and parents.)

Kite Pie is really simple. It's all the leftover pie dough rolled out into something rectangle-ish shaped (perfection is not important). Spread the entire top side with butter, sprinkle with a little cinnamon and a whole lot of sugar, and roll into a log. Pinch at the ends and cut slits across the top. Place on a piece of foil and stick in the oven alongside your pies. It's done when the crust is golden brown.

Seriously, as an adult, I still have to have Kite Pie with every Thanksgiving. For me, Thanksgiving could not be complete without it. Of course, the whole point of Kite Pie is that you can eat it during the seemingly endless and mind-numbing hours of preparation (at least it seems that way when you are a kid... heck, sometimes it seems that way as an adult!). Nothing in this world quite beats the simple goodness of pie crust, butter, cinnamon, and sugar. YUM! And nothing quite beats being able to dig into the baked Turkey Day goodies early when you are a kid (or an adult).

By the way, this has lots of room for variations. The other night during an intense chocolate craving episode, I put butter, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and a little sugar inside my dough... delish! Chocolate craving subdued! I recently visited my aunt's house and she had made beautiful little tartlets with her leftover crust by folding dough over, cutting into squares, and filling insides with jam. A perfect tea or coffee treat!

I am so looking forward to getting into that kitchen and creating Kite Pie with my daughter. Nothing like having your little munchkin help you prepare a family feast (well, if you can keep them occupied, hence the Kite Pie). Our family time doesn't start at the table; it starts in the kitchen. It hurts my heart to think how thankful I am for those two little hands that seem to get into everything, the smile that is constantly covered in the evidence that she has been into momma's baking, and those million inquisitive questions that indicate she wants to be just like me. Joy visits me in my kitchen all the time going by the name of Adelaide; let's hope I don't miss Her out of sheer busy-ness.

So, on this day of Thanksgiving preparations, I am thankful for my mom. Thanks Mom for letting me stand next to you, though perhaps underneath you at times, and helping you bake. I have never gotten over my love for baking and cooking. Pretty sure your ingenious idea of handing off the pie scraps to me is where it all started. I wouldn't be the mom I am today, if you weren't the mom you were and are to me. I LOVE YOU MOM!!!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends, family and curious readers!

I would love to hear about your favorite tradition!

Chewy Granola Bars

Sweet and a little bit salty... Isn't that all we want in snack food?

I created these granola bars, perhaps, because when I am bored I cook. I got bored! I wanted to make a snack for preschool time and for my husband to stick in his lunch pail. I wanted something hearty and healthy. And better yet versatile.

I love versatility in recipes. One week, I can feel warm and chocolatey and the next I can be nutty and fruity (okay so I am definitely the later, but this girl definitely likes her chocolate).

Homemade Chocolate Chip Granola Bars:

3 Tbs Unsalted Butter
4 Tbs Dark Brown Sugar
3 Tbs Honey
1/4 Tsp Salt
1 1/2 cups Rolled Oats
3/4 cup Rice Krispies
1/3 cup Wheat Germ (I used mine toasted)
1/4 cup Raw UnSalted Sunflower Seeds
1/2 cup Chocolate Chips

  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When the butter is bubbling with a frothy white appearance on top, add sugar, honey and salt. Stir ingredients and then allow them to get bubbly for about 5 minutes stirring only if necessary (this will create your sticky caramel base that will hold your granola together). Do not burn.
  2. Turn off heat. Add oats, krispies, wheat germ and sunflower seeds and stir until evenly coated with caramel mixture.
  3. Pour onto wax-paper lined cookie sheet. Shape into a roughly 9"x7" rectangle. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top and press into granola.
  4. Place in freezer for 3 minutes. Quickly cooling granola makes sticky caramel bond nicely. Cut into rectangles. (Make sure granola isn't too cold... it will shatter. If it is, wait for it to warm back up to room temperature before cutting.)

  • Peanut Butter: substitute 1/2 cup chocolate chips for 1/2 cup of peanut butter chips Or try half of each for peanut butter chocolate chip.
  • Almond Cranberry: omit sunflower seeds and chocolate chips. Add 1/2 cup of rough chopped raw almonds and 1/2 cup craisins (add in with oats, krispies and wheat germ). To make this a decadent treat, add nutella. (Though I can't quite figure out how to add the nutella without making them messy. I spread over top and then place wax paper on top and cut into rectangles with wax paper in place so I could store them with wax paper on. I also tried spreading half the rolled oats mixture and then placing tiny dollops of nutella on top and then adding the rest of the mixture to the top. Either way worked and tasted delicious, just a wee bit messy... especially the former)
  • Pretty sure this is a great place to put some creativity. Love to hear some more variations! Also, pretty sure the honey caramel mixture would taste great with some popcorn tossed in it. Have yet to try it but YUM!
Melt butter and allow it to froth before adding sugars.
Let your caramel mixture look like this for about 5 minutes.
Some of the stars of this recipe.
Pour granola mixture onto a wax-paper lined cookie sheet and shape into a 9"x7" rectangle.
I forgot to take picture of pressing chocolate chips into granola.... But here's a picture of me pressing my cranberry, almond, nutella bars into shape so you can get the idea.
Making the edges nice and tight before I stick it in the freezer for 3 minutes.
My Cut Granola bars... Notice one went missing before I even got the picture taken. I wonder who did that... oh yeah, ME!
One more time. The finished product. By the way, here's a freebie: stick snacks in a display like this cake stand. It immediately welcomes people into your home, and makes your home feel warm and cozy. I am determined to be the "cool mom" as my kids grow up. I can't afford the high def. tv and the game consoles or want to maintenance a swimming pool, but, shoot, I can put some snacks in a container for my kids and their friends. "Let's hang at Friddle's house. His mom makes good snacks!" And forget spending tons on dining room/kitchen decorations... the way to go is edible!

Bulk Bin Tip: To make this a super affordable treat, try shopping bulk bins! Rolled oats, raw almonds and sunflower seeds, toasted wheat germ, craisins, chocolate chips... all come in bulk bins. You make have to invest in air tight containers but you save more than half without having to clip a coupon! I shop Raley's here in Northern California. Not the cheapest bulk bin, but definitely have a great selection and are very clean. Winco has the best selection I've seen and great prices, but they are a little harder for me to get to.