Archive for the ‘recipes’ Category


Doesn’t this look amazingly wonderful?!  Kara wanted to make something for this month’s church dinner, so she looked on my Pinterest Board and picked out the recipe for Triple Chocolate S’Mores Bark.  It was very, very easy to put together, and, needless to say, it was eaten up in a hurry!  We thought this recipe would be simple to change for different seasons by just varying the toppings.  I guess we might just have to try it again!

(Oh, yes, I almost forgot to mention something!  The recipe calls for the candy to be put onto parchment paper, but our local store was out of that.  So, we bought some Reynold’s non-stick aluminum foil to use instead.  I had never used this product before, but I can honestly say that it is amazing!  I will definitely be using it again in the future as well!)

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Kara’s Gummies

gummy Collage

Remember this post when Kara was making cotton candy?  Well, she’s been at it again, this time making gummy candy! She is definitely a kitchen girl!

We gave her this gummy making set that is actually made by the same company that made her cotton candy  machine.  It works very well, but actually, the secret to this isn’t the machine; it’s the molds.  Gummies can be made using a regular stovetop, but this kit makes it fun as well.

The process is really very easy!  All it is is 4 (yes, 4) packets of unflavored gelatin with one package of flavored gelatin mixed with 1/2 cup of cold water.  This is boiled until all of the gelatin is dissolved, and then it is poured into a mold.  After it sets up, the candies pop out and really do taste good!  The kit came with molds for gummy bears, fish, and worms along with the giant gummy bear mold.

It’s kind of funny because Kara has wanted a giant gummy bear for a long, long time!  🙂  Those crazy things are EXPENSIVE!  So, when I saw this kit, it had her name written all over it!  Now she can make giant gummy bears to her heart’s content–and she can give some to her friends as well! 

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Over Thanksgiving, Dan’s sister showed the Prairie Family kids how to make these yummy treats!  Kara was so impressed with these pretzel rods that she decided to make them for our church’s carry-in dinner the very next weekend!

The simple, kid-friendly process is really quite fun.  First, carmel candies are microwaved for about 10 seconds to make them moldable, but not squishy.  Then, the carmel is rolled into a long, skinny “snake” and coiled around the pretzel rods.  Melt the candy coating, and use a spoon to drizzle the pretzels until all of the coils are neatly covered with yummy goodness.  Then, candy, crushed cookies, sprinkles, etc. can be added for a finishing touch.  They can really be adapted for any occasion or season and look very pretty all lined up.

The pretzels all got eaten at our church dinner–in fact, one little girl was seen with a pretzel in each hand! 🙂  Although these came out pretty well, I think Kara should keep “practicing,” don’t you think?!  The more “practice” the better, right?!

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Church Dinner

Church Dinner Collage

On the first Sunday of each month, our church holds a carry-in dinner.  It is definitely a highlight for our family.  I have enjoyed it over the years because it gives me a chance to try out new recipes knowing that no matter how it turns out, it will get eaten!  🙂  My kids have picked up on that, and now I rarely have to make anything for the meal because my kids do all of the preparation!  In fact, right after one month is finished, they are already planning who is going to make what for the next month!

To help the process along, I put recipes that I think might work (or I’d like to try) on my Pinterest board.  With all of the yummy things I see posted on Facebook these days, I never run out of ideas for sure!  Then the kids can browse through those recipes and find what they’d like to try.  In July, John, Cosette, and Kara all wanted to take something, so I told them to make a main dish, a side dish, and a dessert.  Kara made a wonderful Chili Dog Casserole that tasted just like something that we’d eat at the State Fair!  John made a Deli Pasta Salad that he had made once before for our family.  It is delicious–and it only gets better after it sits in the refrigerator for a day or two!  Cosette made a very easy, but complicated looking Ice Cream Sandwich Cake.  The layers in this dessert make it look like someone has slaved for hours in the kitchen when, in reality, it goes together in a matter of minutes.  It tastes as wonderful as it looks, and, believe me, not one bite was left to bring home from the church dinner!

I’m glad that my kids think that cooking is fun.  I sure think it is fun to try new recipes and cook old favorites as well!


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Every year I try to make some special cookies to take with us when we go to our local fireworks display on the Fourth of July.  In the past, I have made Pillow Cookies, which are kind of a combination of a chocolate chip cookie and a brownie.  The kids always beg for these cookies, but they really are a mess to make, and usually end up taking me most of the day to put together.  So, this year I almost had myself convinced that we’d be all right just taking some pop cans to enjoy and forgetting the cookies….until I saw this new recipe!

I found the recipe for Patriotic Sandwich Cookies on Mommy’s Kitchen website.  They still took awhile to put together, but they were definitely easier than the Pillow Cookies.  The kids were so disappointed that I had not made the Pillow Cookies,  but I told them that their disappointment would quickly fade when they tasted these yummy treats!  Boy, was I right!  Now the kids all agree with me that these are my new July 4 cookies, and I know they will be begging for them next year.  The filling is soooo yummmy.  It did make a lot of filling, though.  Next time I make this recipe, I will double the recipe for the cookies, but make a single recipe of filling.  I think that should be about the right proportion.

Actually, there is no need to save them for just July 4!  Using seasonal cake mixes and sprinkles would make these fit any holiday really.  So, maybe they’ll make a comeback before next summer!

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At our last Cub Scout Blue and Gold Banquet, I ended up making the sloppy joes for the main course.  It was kind of a last-minute arrangement–very last minute!  In fact, I really didn’t know I was going to end up doing this until we went to the church to set up!  Anyway, I was given a recipe that had been used in the past, and Dan had bought the ingredients, so I just jumped right in there and started putting things together!  Unfortunately, I was not working in my own kitchen, so I didn’t have access to my normal equipment.  So, instead of measuring everything, I just ended up mixing a little of this and a lot of that until it “looked and tasted right.”  I didn’t know how it would go over, but it was all eaten up, and Dan said it was some of the best sloppy joe that he had ever tasted!  So, I thought I’d try to remember what I did and post it here on my blog where I can find it  if (and when) I will need to do that type of thing again. There are two pages to this Smilebox. The first page has the original recipe that was given to me, and the second page attempts to explain how I made it.  I don’t know if I’d ever be able to get it the same again, but it sure was good that time!  🙂

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Christmas Baking

This year the kids helped me make Christmas goodies a couple of times.  The first time was for our Christmas orchestra concert, and then we made some more on Christmas Eve to give as gifts.  It’s so much fun doing this type of thing now that the kids are getting old enough to jump right in and help.

We found a couple of really good recipes this year.  They are definitely not original, so I will link them on this blog–mostly just so I will be able to find them again!  🙂  Here are the original links:  White and Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Marshmallow Bits and Toffee and White-Chocolate Cherry Shortbread .

Here are a couple of tips we discovered on these recipes:  Letting the butter set out for a little while before making the shortbread cookies really makes the dough easier to work with.  Also, this recipe seems like it won’t work because the dough can be so crumbly.  But, being persistent with the kneading will eventually bring the dough to the right consistency.  For the chunky cookies, I found that I need to really watch the baking time.  It is very easy to over-cook this recipe for some reason.

I think the shortbread cookies are really pretty, and almost look like they are wearing little Santa hats!  What do you think?


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I had lunch in the school cafeteria growing up, and, like most kids, I complained about it.  I don’t know why kids do that–the meals were actually pretty good, but it just seemed to be the “thing to do” to gripe and make jokes about school lunch.  What was really funny was that just last week everyone was reminiscing on Facebook about school lunch and talking about how they missed this or that lunchroom fare-dinner rolls, chili, tater topped franks, homemade cinnamon rolls–all of those recipes came up in the conversation.  The one item that kept coming up, though, were the yummy peanut butter bars with the delicious chocolate frosting.

I’ve thought about those cookies several times over the years and have tried recipes that I thought might be similar, but I have never found just the right one.  Until now.  Yep, someone on that discussion group had THE recipe for those longed-for bar cookies!  I just had to make them!  So, make them I did! They got the reaction that I wanted:  the kids all loved them just like we did when we were little. So, I decided to put this recipe on my blog.  That way I will be able to find it again when I need it!  🙂

A note about this recipe:  it was a school cafeteria recipe, so it makes two pans of cookies.  Unless you want that many cookies (and that many calories!), it is best to cut the recipe in half.  Also, the frosting recipe is on this Smilebox, but it is on the second page.  Be sure to click that arrow–the cookies just wouldn’t be the same without that frosting!

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Valentine Cookie Adventure

The girls have been wanting to make cut-out cookies to decorate for a long time, and I thought that Valentine heart cookies would be fun to make for this month’s church dinner. Little did I know…

To make this task “easier” I bought a couple of cookie mixes.  Silly me, I thought that sugar cookie mixes would make sugar cookies!  No, these mixes made a crumbly mess that we turned into a pasty mess as we added water to make the dough a better consistency!  We ended up throwing out the whole batch of dough.

Thank goodness for the internet!  I told the girls that I would try to find a recipe that we could try if we had all of the ingredients.  I lucked out!  The first recipe I found was The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies on allrecipes.com .  We had everything we needed for the dough, so we gave it a try!  I am happy to say that the dough worked up beautifully!  It is definitely a keeper!

The girls had a blast decorating the hearts!  Luke even jumped in there and decorated a couple.  The neat seasonal sprinkles that are available these days sure make this part of the process fun!  We just might have to try this again!

Valentine Cookies

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