Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Chocolate Maple Mini Wheats Birds Nests {Preschool Activities} #TryitHot

This is an updated recipe. Original post from April 2012.

I recently attempted this recipe with 9 toddlers...that's 9 children under the age of two. It was a success other than the fact that I didn't have butter, so substituted margarine. It happened to be really cheap watery margarine and ceased my chocolate. Actually, made it turn to the consistency of sand when I stirred the cheap margarine in (after melting in the microwave). This resulted in us having to use the chocolate like modeling dough to mash the cereal bits in when it cooled a bit. The little ones had a grand time and it added to the realistic quality of eating "bird's nests". My pride refused to let me document the first attempt, so I made it again with my own preschooler at home. She was eager to get into the kitchen with me and I'm sure she ate more than her fair share of ingredients before they could make it to the muffin pan. My first attempt with the toddler's yielded 12 bird's nests (doubled recipe). The second attempt gave us 8 treats on a single recipe.


Maple Bird's Nests


 Ingredients needed:

250 gram package Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

3.5 oz  Maple Mini Wheats Cereal - yields about 2 cups when crushed

3 tablespoons melted butter

2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup

200 grams of Candy Coated Chocolate Eggies

Part 1:
  • Measure cereal into a resealable food storage bag. 
  • Let the kids smash it up.
  • Line a muffin pan with 8 liners.
  • Melt your chocolate in a double boiler, add maple syrup and butter*Caution- mixture will be hot*.
Part 2:



  • Mix crushed cereal into the chocolate mixture and spoon into muffin liners.
  • Chill for at least 2 hours, add chocolate eggies to each nest.
  • Enjoy your treats and don't forget to share!



  • Optional:
    • Maple Mini Wheats can be substituted for any other flavour Mini Wheats
    • Package in cellophane candy bags to give away.
    • Add 1/4 cup of almonds or crushed pretzels to the chocolate and cereal mixture (reduce crushed cereal to 1 cup or about 2.5 oz)
    • Substitute crunchy or smooth peanut butter instead of Maple Syrup.
    • Use butterscotch or peanut butter chips instead of semi sweet chocolate. I would omit the Maple syrup and use 2 oz. butter as called for in the original recipe.


    Disclosure:
    My recipe is adapted from ~ "The New Cookie Book" by Atkinson, Farrow, and Bassett.
    Hermes House: Anness Pub. , 2003 (Page 216).

    Original Ingredient List:  7 oz chocolate, 2 oz unsalted butter, 3.5 oz Shredded Wheat Cereal, Candy Coated Chocolate Eggs


    Disclosure: I receive occasional perks and am posting as part of the Kelloggs Canada Blogger Network. All opinions remain honest and my own.

    Wednesday, March 18, 2015

    Kelloggs Mini Wheats #TryItHot #Giveaway (04/15 CAN) #sponsor

    I have always loved warm cereal for breakfast or even as a snack. Spring is around the corner but the early mornings are still chilly and I warm up my milk for cereal nearly every day.  Recently Kellogg's Canada gave me a few boxes of Mini Wheats in various flavours and a travel mug that is microwave safe (just remove the lid).  This will be handy for the days I leave for work at 5:45 am and need to bring my breakfast with me for the commute.

     Kelloggs also shared a few flavour inspirations and suggestions on how to try my Mini Wheats hot.  My favourite flavour combo is Strawberry Mini Wheats with heated Rice Milk and fresh berries.  Check out the other suggestions and let me know how you #Tryithot with Kelloggs Mini Wheats.

    Follow me on Pinterest and Instagram to see my breakfast inspiration.

    WIN IT!
    Kelloggs Canada is giving me one prize pack to giveaway.
    Easy entry below.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway
    Disclosure: I received Kelloggs products as part of my involvement with the Kellogg Canada Blogger community. All opinions on this blog remain honest and my own.

    Monday, March 9, 2015

    Fill Your HOME with Spring Favourites from @Hallmark_Canada #Giveaway #LoveHallmarkCA (March 29/CAN Only) #sponsor

    Here we are, counting down to Spring and dreaming of the freshness it will bring.  Hallmark recently sent me a preview of  some Spring products and Easter items as well.  I gift most of the items I receive from Hallmark, but just had to hang on to this darling, embroidered pillow. It retails for $19.95 CA and is joined in the collection by other endearingly embroidered items for the home.  Hallmark CA is generously giving me another cushion to give away.  I love the colours and it's the perfect size to tuck under my head or knees while doing pilates too...


    WIN IT!

    The back is embroidered with:
    "Right here, with these people I love,
    I have everything I could ever ask for."


    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Disclosure: I received product in exchange for posting a review. All opinions remain honest and my own.

    Wednesday, March 4, 2015

    "Now I Know My A.B.C's " Spicy Apple and Blueberry Crisp. {Updated Recipe}

    Image from finecooking.com
    As soon as the overnight temperature in my living room dips below 75 degrees, I begin to plan my winter pantry and stock up with the foods we love to treat ourselves to the most.  Apple crisp is in the top 3 recipes we crave.  It's an excuse to have our fruit servings baked up warm and sweet.  I've adapted the recipe to include lower calorie sugar and butter alternatives, just to remove the guilt factor.  Have your pie and eat it too.






    Spicy Apple and Blueberry Crisp.

    Mixture #1-
    2 cups large flake oats
    1/2 cup Brown Sugar Blend Splenda
    1/2 cup flour
    1/2 cup margarine
    1 tablespoon canola oil* or any bland oil
    1 pinch salt
    1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice blend

    Mixture #2-
    3 cups blueberries
    1 1/2 cups apples (Approximately 3 large)
    3 tablespoons orange juice
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    1/4 cup Granulated Splenda because it measures cup for cup like sugar.

    What I did:


    1. Combine the ingredients in Mixture #1 with a fork, it will look crumbly.
    2. Combine Mixture #2 in a separate bowl.  I prefer Granny Smith apples- peeled, cored, sliced.
    3. Toss the apple slices in orange juice to discourage browning.
    4. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
    5. Grease a large baking dish, I use my 2.5 L Corning Ware dish.
    6. Add blueberry and apple mixture to pan first.
    7. Sprinkle crisp mixture evenly over the fruit.
    8. Bake 35-45 minutes in a preheated 350 F oven until the top is brown and filling is bubbly.

    Serve with ice cream, whipped cream, or my favourite fresh FUSSELL'S Thick Cream.


    Hints:

    Granny Smith apples are tart but stay nice and firm when used in pies and crisps.

    Butter can be used instead of margarine. I would omit the oil and increase the butter portion by 2 tablespoons instead.

    I buy loads of fresh blueberries when they are in season. Wash and dry them, then freeze in 1/2 cup portions to use all winter long. Defrost them in your fridge about 3-4 hours before they are needed.



    Disclosure: Original post date 09/13/11. This is not a sponsored post.

    Wednesday, February 18, 2015

    Helping Children Cope With the Loss Of A Pet #Life

    "With all my heart I believe it is true, that there is a Heaven for animals, too."
    Nancy Tillman
    In Loving Memory of KOVU
    AKA Meow Meow and Kitty Boy
    August 1998-February 18, 2015
    This post is dedicated to everyone who has loved and lost a pet. There is no easy way out of dealing with loss. We have watched the steady decline of our lovely kitty boy since last July. It's hard for us as adults to cope with losing him after having him in our lives from the time we were newly weds 16 years ago, to now. The dread of breaking the news to our daughter brought me to tears many times throughout the day.  Here is how we are trying to deal with the loss...

    Be As Honest As Possible
    Our daughter is five and had noticed the changes in him, he slowly lost the use of his back legs, etc.  We began to talk about the fact that kitty was getting old and was probably experiencing aches and pains like an elderly person was. This opened the door for our girl to initiate many conversations over the last few months- mostly questions about what happens when he's too sick to get to his food and litter. We gave her the truth but also tried to offer comfort in advance.  We believe in heaven, so had told her he would go to heaven one day soon and wouldn't be in pain or sick any more. We haven't given any specific details on where he is physically or how it happened.

    Keep Memories Alive
    When tears are done we will be ready to talk about all the things we loved about our kitty and share funny stories about being a shameless mooch. We have taken many pictures over the last 16 years and especially in the last 6 months so Princess will have pics with our boy to look back on. We also got a paw print in clay to keep as a physical reminder.

    Cry and Talk It Out
    There is no replacing a good cry and letting each family member express their sadness and grief. Coming home to an empty house was hard and I'm sure there will be many more hard days and nights to come as we adjust to our routines that used to include our kitty.
    Available on amazon.ca for approx $12

    Read A Good Book
    I bought a book in preparation for this day. It's called The Heaven of Animals by Nancy Tillman. This lovely hardcover book captures my feeling about animals and what happens to them when they leave us, at least what I hope happens. The illustrations brought tears to our eyes all over again because we found a brown tabby that looks a lot like our boy.


    With lots of reassurance and hugs we will get through this sad time. I hope these tips have brought you some encouragement and hope in your own time of sadness. Disclaimer: This post is neither sponsored nor endorsed by any of the people or brands mentioned within.

    Monday, February 9, 2015

    Simple Weaving Crafts For Valentines Day {Preschool & JK/SK Activities}

    There are many ways to use paper in preschool activities.  Cutting and weaving paper into patterns can be delightful and encourage using familiar materials in new ways.  I did these activities with my JK children and older preschoolers in preparation for Valentine's Day cards we would be making and exchanging.  I promote freedom in exploring art materials, but also believe in the value of teacher lead opportunities if children have expressed an interest and need guidance to achieve their goals. I can't pretend these are activities inspired by original ideas. Woven Heart Baskets and Heart Envelopes are projects I remember doing in kindergarten more than 30 years ago.  Here is my interpretation of classic Preschool and JK projects. 

    Age Group: 3 1/2 to 5 year olds

    Learning Outcomes:
    1. To enhance cognitive skills as children create patterns with paper and learn the process of weaving (under, over, under). 
    2. Creative expression will be encouraged as children choose the colours of paper they would like to use. 
    3. Tool mastery (snipping with scissors) and fine motor skills will be practiced as children prepare their project for weaving. 

     Activity #1

    Heart Baskets.
    Overlap your woven plates in a cone shape.
    Secure the sides with staples and affix the large chenille
    wire as a handle.  The end result will be a basket
    to collect Valentine cards or small treats.
    Materials:
    • 9 inch paper plates- 2 for each basket
    • paper scissors
    • Tissue paper cut in 1 x12 inch strips
    • large chenile wires
    • stapler (adult help needed)


    Cut strips of tissue paper.

    Fold the paper plates in half and slice straight lines
    on the folded edge.

    Open the plate, lay it flat and begin weaving tissue
    paper one strip at a time. Repeat this step with a second plate.
    Activity #2
    Heart Envelopes.
    When the bottom edges are secured with invisible tape,
    this heart will open into an envelope for collecting
    Valentine's.
     Materials:

    • Construction paper
    • Paper scissors
    • Invisible tape

    Fold a piece of construction paper in half.  The goal is to
    preserve the folded edge for the entire
    project.

    Cut the folded paper in half .

    Cut two slices in each half, again preserving the
    folded edge.

    Carefully round the outer corners
    (this step can be saved to the end).

    Open the two halves of paper, over the bottom pieces
    into a woven pattern. Close the top pieces over
    the bottom and carefully weave these as well.
    Secure the bottom edges with two sided tape.