Saturday, January 25, 2014

Football Rice Krispie Treat

Most impressive-looking treats and desserts unfortunately also take a lot of time. Thankfully, that is not the case with this one! This no-bake dessert can be thrown together quickly--and kids can do a lot of it on their own! Because who wants to spend the day slaving over a festive dessert when there are friends to talk to and a game to watch?

Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

I made one large football and a few mini ones from one batch. You can do that, or you can just make one giant one, or only make individual-sized ones. Whatever will work best for your party. Keep in mind that the more mini ones you make, the more you will have to frost, so that will make it a little less quick and easy. :)

 You will need:

1 pkg mini marshmallows
2 T butter
6 C Rice Krispies cereal
1 12-oz bag chocolate chips
White frosting

Before you start, make sure to have your serving platter ready and nearby. You don't want the treats to start hardening while you're getting your platter out of your cabinet and then realize you haven't used it in forever and it's a little dusty so you need to wash know how those things go. At least that's how they go at my house. Anybody with me?

In a large pan, melt the butter and marshmallows over medium-low heat.
(Note: you can also do this part in the microwave, which is a great option for getting kids involved. I would recommend heating it on a lower power setting and stirring frequently).

Cook and stir until mixture is completely smooth. This should only take about 5 minutes on the stovetop.

Remove from heat. Stir in the cereal. Keep stirring until it is well mixed and the cereal is thoroughly coated.

Dump the entire pan onto the center of your serving platter if you are making one big football. If you are making mini ones, spoon smaller amounts around your platter. Try to work quickly.

Put a little cold water on your hands--you don't want them dripping everywhere, but you want your palms and fingers to have a nice thin covering of water. This will magically keep the treats from sticking to your hands.

Smoosh the Rice Krispie blob(s) into a football shape with your hands. Don't over-think it, just smash it sort-of flat and round, and then squish the ends into points. Or have your kids do this part.

If at any time the treats start sticking to your fingers, just apply a little more cold water.

I like to let the treats harden at this point, which doesn't take long. If you're in a hurry, however, go ahead and move on to the next step.

Dump your chocolate chips into a microwave-safe bowl.

See my new photo backdrop? My hubby just made it and surprised me with it.
I love it and had to find an excuse to use it in this post. So gorgeous; you will see it often!

Microwave on a low power setting for 1 minute at a time until the chips are melted. Remember when chocolate chips are melted in the microwave they retain their shape until they are stirred, so stir them thoroughly every minute to see if they are melted.

Frost the Rice Krispie football with the melted chocolate. You could make this even easier and just use chocolate frosting, but I like the taste of the melted chocolate better with the treats. I have also mixed peanut butter into the melted chocolate to use with this--delicious!

All you have left to do is pipe the laces! Don't be intimidated by this part if you have no cake decorating skills; it's very easy. You'll see below that I used a cake decorating bag and icing tip; if you don't have those (or you do, but don't feel like cleaning them afterward), simply put your frosting in a Ziploc bag and snip off a *small* piece of a corner. Instant icing bag!

Start by piping one horizontal line across the football.

Next, pipe 3 or 4 short, evenly-spaced vertical lines over the horizontal one you just made.

That's it! You now have a football! You can handle that, right?

You can see above that I have several stray specks of chocolate on my serving platter. If you have this problem, use a damp paper towel to carefully wipe off any extra chocolate or frosting and you're done!

For an even more impressive presentation, you can make coconut grass to scatter around your platter.

Dump a cup or so of coconut in a bowl, and add several drops of green food coloring.

Stir until coconut is evenly coated, adding more food coloring as necessary.

It won't be perfect; you'll have darker and lighter bits, but I think that only adds to the look.

Sprinkle the coconut around the footballs on your tray.

Amazing how something so simple can really add to the "wow" factor!

Look at the cute mini footballs! I think a whole tray of these would be adorable!

I hope you have fun making and serving this fun treat!

Linking up with Rattlebridge Farm for Foodie Friday, Miz Helen's Country Cottage for Full Plate Thursday, and Dear Creative's weekly link party!

Monday, January 20, 2014

President's Day Activities and Printables

I know I've already posted my free printable for the month, but I just couldn't offer a Valentine's printable and not do a President's Day one too, so you all get a bonus!

I've created a president checklist and President's Day bingo card. Many of my ideas to use these printables also include the use of president flash cards (although some of them do not, and others could be modified). I wish I had the talent to design printable flashcards of each of the Presidents, but I'm just not *that* artsy when it comes to drawing. The little clipart-type images on my printables is all I can manage; pictures of each president is way beyond my talent level! However, you can download a lovely free set here.
Or, if your school is trying to get you to cut back on paper usage (and what school isn't?) or you don't feel like cutting out and laminating one more thing right now, you can buy an inexpensive set here:

I have so many ideas for ways to use these flash cards and printables! These can be modified according to the age group you're working with. You can also simply take out cards of presidents that students haven't learned about yet.

Some suggestions on how to use these printables:
  • Have students create a timeline, putting the presidents in the correct order. This could be done in small groups or as an entire class. Use the checklist to check.
  • Pair students, and give each pair a checklist. The student with the checklist names two presidents, and the other student has to state which president came first.
  • Have students quiz each other in small groups using the flash cards as a guide.
  • Play a Twenty Questions-type game where one student tries to get the class to guess which president he or she has.
  • Switch it up and play "Who Am I?" by having each student hold a card up to their forehead (without looking at it) and go around the room asking one another questions to figure out which president they are. See who can figure it out the fastest!
  • Pass out the cards. Have students write down a fact about their president and share it with the rest of the class.
  • Pass out the cards along with the checklist (some students will get more than one card, depending on the size of the class). Have students mingle and tell each other one fact about the president on their card. Students place a check mark by each president they have "met" and heard a fact about. The first student to get all 44 check marks wins! (To simplify this for younger grades, only pass out some of the cards. List off the presidents you are not passing out and let students get free check marks for those names).
  • Play President Bingo. This would work for a center/small group activity, or as a whole class. Have students use their checklists to select 24 presidents and write one name per box on the bingo card. You can play by drawing out a flash card and calling out the name of the president, or you can switch it up by calling out a fact and having students cross out the corresponding president on their bingo card.
I would love to hear other ideas you have for using these flash cards or printables!
How do you plan on celebrating President's Day with your students?

Right-click the images below to download.


Please feel free to share and copy these printables. All I ask is that you credit Apples to Applique for the artwork and leave the copyright at the bottom of the page. Thank you! 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Pomegranate Cheesecake

I have been obsessed with pomegranates this season (remember my recent recipe for Banana Oat Bread with Pomegranate?) Those little jewels of pure goodness are just so delightful. So I was pretty disappointed when all the grocery stores stopped carrying them after Christmas. I managed to find a couple just a few days after New Years, but now I can't find them anywhere. It's depressing.

Thankfully, however, I have been able to find pomegranate juice. This stuff may get me through this bleak pomegranate-less season.

This juice was the inspiration for this cheesecake.

It's just so pretty. Of course, it's tasty too, but I really appreciate food that is nice to look at as well as pleasant to eat. And when you add the dark chocolate pomegranate glaze...

It just looks festive! Perfect for Valentine's Day! Or a girl's night. Or just because you miss pomegranates and like cheesecake. Which may or may not be why I made it. (I know, I know, I've been talking about eating healthier. Hubby and I each only had one piece, and the rest is being donated to coworkers. You should be proud of us.)

To make this cheesecake you will need a springform pan. They're really not expensive, and are a good investment if you want to make cheesecakes, because no other pan quite does the job.
You can get them here:

On to the recipe!
**Scroll to the bottom of the post to download a printable version of the recipe**

9 chocolate graham crackers (18 squares)
1/4 C brown sugar
1/3 C butter, melted

3 8-oz pkgs cream cheese at room temperature
1 C sugar
3/4 C pomegranate juice
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
red food coloring (optional)

Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Glaze
2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
2/3 C powdered sugar
2 T milk
6 T pomegranate juice
1 T cornstarch

Note: If fresh pomegranates are in season, some pomegranate arils mixed in the cheesecake or scattered on top would be amazing!

Pomegranate Cheesecake

Preheat the oven to 350 if using a silver springform pan, or to 325 if using a nonstick springform pan.

Break the graham crackers into large pieces and place in a food processor.

Process until crackers are reduced to fine crumbs.

Add the butter and brown sugar, mix until smooth. I usually just do this with the food processor, but you can mix it in a bowl.

Press the crumb mixture onto the bottom of the springform pan and about halfway up the sides.

In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese and sugar. Beat until smooth.

Add pomegranate juice and vanilla; mix well.

At this point, I decided the color of my cheesecake was too light pink. I had been hoping for more of the rich dark pinkish-red of the pomegranate juice, so I cheated and added some red food coloring. :)

Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition just until blended. Don't over beat, or too much air will get into the batter, and your cheesecake will have a better chance of cracking.

I was much happier with the color after the addition of food coloring!
Pour the mixture into the prepared crust.

So pretty! Even before it's baked!

Bake for an hour to an hour and ten minutes, or until the center is almost set. You can see in the picture below how the center still looks a little wet.

Turn the oven off and open the oven door slightly; let the cheesecake set in the oven for an hour. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and cool completely. In case you're wondering, this helps the cheesecake to change temperatures gradually, which also lessens the chances of it cracking (aka the biggest frustration ever with making cheesecakes!) I've never had one crack using this method (knock on wood)!
Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Before serving, loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the pan by running a knife along the edge. Remove the rim. Serve with Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Glaze (recipe below).

Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Glaze

To make the glaze, combine chocolate, powdered sugar, milk, and pomegranate juice in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook and stir until chocolate is melted. Whisk in cornstarch.

Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool to room temperature, and try to not eat it all with a spoon before drizzling it over your cheesecake. It tastes so good; it reminds me of those chocolate oranges, only with pomegranate flavor. Yum!

I hope you enjoy serving up this festive cheesecake to the special people in your life!

Right-click the image below to download a printable version of the recipe.

Linking up with Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday, and the Wednesday Roundup.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Banana Oat Bread with Pomegranate

Ever since creating my Oatmeal Almond Banana Pancakes, I've toyed around with the idea of doing something similar in a bread. This weekend I finally did!

You all know I love breads (or carbs of any form, really), so it's hard for me to give up breads when I'm trying to eat healthier, like I am now. Hubby and I ran our first 5K last month, which was a huge achievement for us, as two months before that we thought we were going to die if we ran for 60 seconds. (Sad, I know. I mean I did just have a baby six months ago, but still). We've come a long way in a short time, and this is only the beginning! To go along with our new running routine, we are also trying to do better about eating healthy. Don't worry, I will continue to offer delicious dessert recipes, because, as I have mentioned before, I believe healthy eating is all about balance. I'm a proponent of a healthy, balanced overall lifestyle, which can include a few indulgences now and then. :)

Today's recipe, however, isn't an indulgence. It's a tasty breakfast bread that's packed with nutrients and none of the bad stuff. It contains no refined sugars or flours, and can be made gluten-free. (If you're looking for a breakfast bread that is more of an indulgence, try my Cranberry Orange Bread).

If fresh pomegranates aren't in season, try substituting blueberries or cranberries or some other type of fruit. Fresh or frozen berries should work fine in this recipe.

**Scroll to the bottom of the post for a printable version of the recipe.**

You will need:
Oatmeal (enough to make 2 C oat flour)*
1/4 C chia seeds
1 1/2 t baking powder*
1/2 t baking soda*
1/2 t salt
2 medium bananas
1/3 C unsweetened applesauce
1/2 C plain Greek yogurt
1/4 C honey
1/4 C milk
2 eggs
2 t vanilla
3/4 - 1 C pomegranate arils (or other fruit, such as berries)

*If you want to make this gluten-free, be sure to purchase gluten-free oats, baking powder, and baking soda.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Use a food processor to grind the oatmeal into oat flour.

Measure 2 cups of the oat flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the baking powder, baking soda, chia seeds, and salt. Combine.

In a medium mixing bowl, mash the bananas. I like to use a pastry blender for this job, but you can use a fork, too.

Add applesauce, yogurt, honey, milk, eggs, and vanilla to the bananas. Whisk until well combined.

Stir wet mixture into flour mixture and mix well.

Fold in pomegranate arils or berries.

Pour batter into greased loaf pan.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until bread is golden brown.

Cut yourself a hearty slice and enjoy your guilt-free breakfast!

Right click image below to download a printable version of the recipe.