Friday, December 31, 2010

Bean Bags Crazy

I went bean bag crazy this year. I had a vision in my head and set out to work. . . in order to make some fun gifts for my nieces and nephews for Christmas. Even better was seeing the kids faces get excited when they saw them. . . and then watching the bean bags fly across the room (fun for even the daddies!).

These small ones were made specifically for the newest arrival of the Klassen clan. . . Mr. Braden. I made them out of different orange and blue fabrics and ribbons. The backs are made of various textured fabrics (i.e. chenile, softy stuff, and felt). I liked these for the little guy because he can stack them or just play and shake them.

For the girls. My niece, Zoe, helped pick out this fabric. It made the cutest bean bags and bags. So nice and girly!

Rocket Scientist. . .

Trains, puppies, and mushrooms!

So much fun in a bag!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Cranberry Eggnog Muffins

Okay, so I have never made so many recipes from my Food Network Magazine, and the December issue I have made at least one thing a week. . . sometimes two. I am quite proud of myself. . . really I am.

This recipe just sounded good. I like egg nog. . . okay, I like Silk nog. It's completely egg and dairy free, but it still has this rich, creamy taste that is just delightful (thanks Steph for introducing me). This recipe gave me the perfect excuse to buy a container. These muffins came out incredibly moist and delicious. Even my husband, who strongly dislikes eggnog (due to the egg factor) gobbled these up each morning for breakfast. . . willingly. (it may have had something to do with the fact that I used the Silk Nog, instead of regular eggnog).
Charlie's Cranberry Eggnog Muffins
Food Network Magazine, Dec. 2010

1 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
1/2 cup apple juice
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups eggnog
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tbs vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

:: Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
:: Warm cranberries with apple juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and let steep for 5 minutes. Drain.
:: Whisk the flour, baking powder, brown sugar, and salt in a medium bowl.
:: Whisk together the butter, eggnog, eggs,a nd vanilla in another bowl. Gently fold in into the flour mixture, but don't over mix. Fold in cranberries.
:: Divide batter among the muffin cups.
:: Make the topping by combining the ingredients eith yoru fingertips until it looks like wet sand. Sprinkle generously over batter.
:: Bake for about 30 minutes.

A quick peppermint treat

I needed a quick and inexpensive gift for my MOPS steering team. . . they do such an amazing job, that I really wanted them to feel loved and appreciated. I really think hot cocoa is such a fun gift, because most people really enjoy a nice cup of hot cocoa on a cold, rainy evening (and we've had quite a few of them lately).
Hot cocoa, a chocolate bar, and marshmallows.

For the marshmallows, I dipped them each in melted white chocolate and then again in crushed candy canes. After they had set, I placed them in their gift bags.

A quick peppermint treat

I needed a quick and inexpensive gift for my MOPS steering team. . . they do such an amazing job, that I really wanted them to feel loved and appreciated. I really think hot cocoa is such a fun gift, because most people really enjoy a nice cup of hot cocoa on a cold, rainy evening (and we've had quite a few of them lately).
Hot cocoa, a chocolate bar, and marshmallows.

For the marshmallows, I dipped them each in melted white chocolate and then again in crushed candy canes. After they had set, I placed them in their gift bags.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Gingerbread Week: Part 2

Last week, we were just swimming in gingerbread. . . it was awesome! So, my pictures are way out of order, so bear with me. . .

Ethan had so much fun helping decorate the cookies with homemade Royal Icing.
He even got to put sanding sugar on some of them. . . he loved that, too!

Royal Icing Recipe:
1 egg white
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 3/4 c. confectioners sugar

Beat egg whites and lemon juice until foamy and then add sugar slowly. Beat until stiff peaks form. While using, keep covered with a damp paper towel. Use a baggie, cutting a small hole in corner of bag to decorate.

Rolling out the dough. . .

Molasses. . . an important ingredient (we went through almost 2 bottles last week!).
Our cookie recipe came from this month's Food Network Magazine. . . they turned out delicious!

Here's the recipe:

3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tbs ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
6 tbs melted butter
1 tbs melted shortening
2/3 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup molasses
1 egg

Sift together dry ingredients. Combine melted butter, sugar, molasses, and egg. Beat with electric mixer. Beat in flour mixture in 2 additions. Divide the dough in half and wrap in plastic and chill for at least 2 hours.

The finished product! It was a family affair and we had a blast!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Gingerbread Week, part 1

Gingerbread week got off to an awesome start! At the beginning of the week, I always try to make some sort of breakfast treat that is easy for Jon to grab on the way out the door. (I will confess that I have been really bad lately). So, this week, it just made sense to make something to go along with our gingerbread week, so gingerbread muffins we had. I will mention that they were delicious and did NOT last very long at all. Even Ethan gobbled them up rather quickly!

This recipe came from Taste of Home and recommended a lemon curd recipe to go along with it. I honestly wasn't so sure about the lemon and gingerbread combo. . . so I didn't make the lemon curd. You can find this delicious recipe here. I will also note that this recipe was one of their award winners. . . and it was a winner in our family!


Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Toddler Time: Christmas Trees

Last week, we kicked off the first week of December by decorating our tree and doing an assortment of Christmas Tree crafts. I don't have pictures of all of them, but I will do my best to give easy instructions, and maybe I will get some pictures taken and add them later.
:: Paper Pieced Christmas Tree
Materials: Scrapbook Paper. . .construction paper. . . glue. . . scissors and/or paper cutter

Directions: Cut a triangle out of 1 or several pieces of scrapbook paper. If you want your pieces to be all different, you can cut them out of different pieces. I only used one piece of scrapbook paper, and cut a triangle out of it and then split it into several pieces. We talked about big and small, and we glued them on. I also cut out a star from some yellow construction paper scraps and had him glue it on the top.

:: Sticker Ornament Tree

Materials: Construction Paper, Green Christmas tree (out of construction paper), Yellow construction paper star or sticker, assorted stickers, glue

Directions: Choose a color for your background to glue the rest of your stuff on. Cut a Christmas Tree out of green construction paper. Have your child glue it to your background piece. Then give your child stickers and have them stick them anywhere on the tree for ornaments.

:: Foam Ornament Tree

I bought a pack of foam ornament kits at the Dollar Tree here in town. It was great, because it was 3 for 1 dollar! Super easy craft that Ethan loves to do. But, you can get them at Michael's or order them through Oriental Trading Company.

We are having so much fun filling our day with these fun activities. I can't wait to show you all our Gingerbread week stuff.

Friday, December 03, 2010

A Klassen Family Tradition

Family traditions are something that Jon and I really have tried to establish since our wedding. Despite spending our holidays with each other's extended family, we really enjoy having our own little Thanksgiving. It is something we have striven for each year. Last year, was the first year we didn't do it, because a lot of my kitchen stuff had been packed up. I think this year, was my favorite year! Ethan even enjoyed his first taste of sparkling cider and ate very well!

So, here's a peak of our Thanksgiving dinner.

Our deliciously moist turkey!
I am a big fan of the turkey bag because it cooks in less than 3 hours and turns out so moist. This year, I rubbed it with an olive oil and rosemary herb rub, both under the skin and above the skin and inside the cavity. I also added orange and lemon wedges into the cavity to add additional moisture to the turkey. It had the most delicious flavor!
The Stuffing:
I will confess that my favorite stuffing is my mom's sage stuffing. It's amazing. But, she was at her annual gathering at the coast and wasn't even making it this year. Plus, she has the recipe memorized that I can't figure it out. But, my sister in law made some delicious stuffing for the actual day, so I borrowed her recipe and it was so good! I sauted onions, garlic, shallots, and celery with some olive oil and added them to the Trader Joe's stuffing mix and seasoning mix and then baked it in the oven for about 30 minutes.

mmmm. . . Mashed Potatoes
These are my traditional go-to mashed potatoes. I boil red potato chunks in salted water until just soft enough that a fork can pierce through the pieces. I don't take off the skins at all. . . they give the extra color and flavor. Then I put them in a mixing bowl and add some butter, heavy whipping cream, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. I am really not sure of the measurements, because it is completely to taste. I then use my hand mixer and whip them up till they are soft and creamy.

The salad
Spring Mix, candied walnuts, cranberries, and dried apples tossed with raspberry hazlenut vinegarette. So yummy, I could eat this every day! It's even great with spinach.

I also made cranberry sauce. . . it was super good.

The cheesecake. . . pumpkin of course!
This was left over from the cheesecake I made of turkey day. . . we just finished it off!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

warm fall goodness!

Several weeks ago, we went to Sweet Tomatoes for a yummy family dinner to celebrate Jon's mom's birthday, as well as mine. It was a fun time! But, one thing they had there was a seasonal apple cranberry cobbler - one that Jon couldn't get enough of. So, a few days later we noticed the apples probably needed to be made into something. . . and we had enough fresh cranberries lying around that we could probably make some sort of yummy concoction that would be similar to the one at Sweet Tomatoes.
Fortunately, one of the first recipes I found was this one, which I had all the ingredients for. It didn't take long to make and it turned out so yummy! This is definitely a keeper in the Klassen recipe box!

Cranberry Apple Crisp with Oatmeal Streusel Topping

  • 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 12-ounce packages cranberries
  • 1 1/4 pounds Golden Delicious or Fuji apples (about 3 medium), peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I used 3 Jonagold and 1 granny smith and it turned out fantastic!)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons apple juice or cider


:: Combine brown sugar, oats, flour, and salt in large bowl; toss to blend. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture comes together in moist clumps. Cover; chill while preparing filling. (Topping can be prepared 1 day ahead; keep chilled.)

:: Preheat oven to 375°F. Generously butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Combine cranberries, apples, sugar, and apple juice in heavy large pot. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring often. Boil until cranberries are tender and juices thicken slightly, about 5 minutes. Transfer filling to prepared dish. Sprinkle topping over.

:: Bake crisp until filling bubbles thickly and topping is crisp and deep golden brown, about 40 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes. Serve with ice cream.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Salted Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

I honestly don't think my obsession for cookies will ever end. . . I keep finding amazingly, wonderful recipes to try out. It drives my husband crazy, because he is perfectly content with the basic Nestle Toll House recipe.

I also haven't been very quick to jump on the bandwagon of salting my chocolate treats. It seems to be a big baking craze. You can even find salted dark chocolate candy bars in the high-end candy bar section at stores like World Market. But, this recipe, I just HAD to try. . . it sounds delicious. Not to mention, peanuts add just a touch of salt anyway. My husband thought I was strange for sprinkling salt over the tops of my dough mounds before baking them, but they turned out so great. Apparently salt + chocolate = extra sweetness! Who'd have thought?

Salted Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup peanuts
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips


:: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with your favorite silpat or handy dandy parchment paper.

:: Whisk together dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa) in a medium bowl. Set aside.

:: Beat together peanut butter and both sugars in your mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition. Add the vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients until just mixed in. Using a rubber spatula, stir in peanuts and chocolate chips.

:: Drop rounded spoonfuls (I use my cookie scoop) and sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake for about 12 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheets, before moving them.

Happy Baking!


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