Growing up in my family it wasn't a holiday without this snack on the table. I think they fed this to me as an infant. You know things were a little different
back then. It's salty. It's addicting. It's one of my favorite all time foods! And it's even better when my dad makes it. Here's what I learned:
Beer SnackBy: Grandma ShirleyPrintable VersionINGREDIENTS
- It's kind of a pain in the butt having to stir it every 15 minutes for 2 hours. But, do it. It's worth it.
- Use roasting pans as it will fit nicely.
- Keeps for a few weeks or freeze for later.
- Once it's finished and cooled slide several Cheerios down a pretzel stick. Eat it. You are welcome.
1 box wheat chex cereal1 box rice chex cereal1 box corn chex cereal1 box regular cheerios1 bag pretzel sticks (not fat free)1 container mixed nuts2 cups oil
(vegetable, canola)2 tablespoons war/worcestershire sauce2 tablespoons garlic salt1 tablespoon onion salt1 tablespoon Lawry's Seasoned SaltDIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
Mix all of the cereals, pretzels, and nuts together in a large roasting pan. Combine the oil, war sauce, and seasonings in a dressing shaker, blender, bowl, (whatever suits you!) and mix well. Pour the wet mixture over the dry mixture and stir.Bake for 2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes. Once cooled store in airtight containers.
We took our toddler on her first airplane trip recently. This involved a layover each way for a total of 4 flights. Longest leg ended up being 5.5 hours on the airplane.
Doing research on toddler travel tips, talking to mommy friends, and having a solid plan really helped. All flights went great and my girl was on her best behavior. I’ve compiled the advice and made a list of what worked and didn’t work for us: Do it
- Bring a stroller! I can’t believe I ever considered leaving it home. Thank you to my super smart mommy friends for their advice on this one. It doubled as a toddler trapping device and luggage cart. And when we had to literally run to make one of our flights we could move quickly. *Bonus: You get to cut to the front of the security line at all airports! Just follow the handicapped entrance signs with your stroller.
- SNACKS! Have a lot of them. More than you think you will need. We brought little boxes of raisins, apple sauce pouches, cheese crackers, fruit snacks, marshmallows, PB&J sandwiches, dried fruit, animal crackers, and cereal.
- Good behavior prizes. A friend suggested wrapping a few new toys to give out during the flight. If she was good I gave her a “present” which in turn kept her busy! I did things like a new book, DVD, sticker book, etc.
- Electronic devices. We brought her Leap Pad 2 (with a few new games installed), mini DVD player, and our Kindles (new apps installed).
- Headphones. We brought these headphones for the airplane and they worked great! They don’t get too loud so I never had to worry about volume in her little ears.
- Wikki Stix. These little buggers are awesome for traveling. We spent a long time making various people and animals and playing with them. She loved it! The best part is they aren’t messy, don’t come apart, and you can reuse them.
- Wipes. Definitely bring a lot of wipes in your carry-on.
- Ibuprofen. We decided to give Penelope a dose before we left for the airport as a preventative measure. I know this won’t be for everyone.
- Small travel pillow/blanket. We ended up using our sweatshirts but I wish we would’ve had a better option. By the time we were on the last leg of our flight heading home my girl was exhausted. If we would've had a pillow and blanket it could have encouraged more rest time on the plane.
- Child's backpack. We really love this backpack. She was able to carry her own things and it wasn't too heavy. She still uses it daily.
- Other must have items in my carry-on: Extra clothes, favorite stuffed friends and lovey, band aids, extra batteries, sippy cup, extra baggies (big and small), DVDs, and chargers.
- Silly putty. I thought this would be a great “present” to bring along. It was actually a big mess. It’s stringy and pulls apart. I took it away and hid it. I would also stay away from play dough or anything like that.
- Small toys. I read they weren’t recommended and listened. You don’t want to be searching the airplane floor for a beloved small toy.
- Suckers. At least for us this was a bust. I bought ring pops for takeoff to help with the pressure change. They turned out to be a sticky mess. There was a constant line of sugary drool down her chin. Red licorice worked much better!
A few other items I wish we would have brought along for the trip: Outlet plugs and a power strip. We were fortunate to be staying with family and they had everything we needed. I ended up borrowing these items from them. Our toddler travel bed
was up against a wall that happen to have 2 outlets right by her face. She generally leaves them alone but I didn’t want to take a chance.
I have many wonderful memories of traveling to California as a child. It was like a fairytale land where I got to play with one of my favorite people in the world, spend time with Uncle Silly and Aunt Karen, and go to the Hello Kitty store. Being able to take Penelope there for her first vacation was something I have always wanted to do. I hope the fond memories I have will now be hers as well.
A big thank you to our hosts for everything they did to make our trip amazing! Here are some highlights:
- Penelope got to announce our flight on the airplane intercom. Yep, she’s cute.
- Turbulence is fun when you’re 3 years old.
- San Ramon: Bubbles, dupas, broken robots, hopscotch, chalk art, bean bag games, 80s vampire movie, playground visit, grandma’s coffee cake, addicting jalapeno popper dip, white linen drinks, chocolate sugar cookies, Mexican fiesta, In and Out Burger, hide and seek, baking “cookies”, Amici’s pizza.
- The BEST English muffins ever from The Model Bakery. Must attempt to re-create them.
- Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk: First roller coaster ride, first time seeing the ocean, many rides, sand castles, beach dancing, warm sunshine, intense air hockey match, pink sparkle sunglasses.
- San Francisco: Ferry rides, sea lions, aquarium visit (“mom, I told you there would be jelly fish”), lunch by the ocean, street performers, non-magic show, salt water taffy, sour dough bread.
- Sacramento: Playground visits, spicy Thai food, bad movie (Ted), stomach muscle pulling laughs, outlet shopping, coin operated ride bribes, stalking Lola kitty, Ali’s jewelry, Fairytale Town, Funderland, Roots and Shoots, the supa snacka.
Here are some of my favorite photos:
Toddler travel tips post coming soon :).
I decided to kick my Luna Bar habit a few weeks ago after reading and hearing not so great things about soy protein isolate. After a quick visit to Pinterest I found a delicious replacement! These energy bites are a perfect morning snack. I bring a few to work each day and they help keep me full between breakfast and lunch. Here's what I learned after making them twice:
No Bake Energy BitesAdapted from herePrintable VersionINGREDIENTS1 cup dry old fashioned oats1/3 cup dried cranberries1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips1/2 cup ground flaxseed
- I omitted the coconut. Don't like it. Also skipped the chia seeds.
- I added 1/3 cup dried cranberries.
- Definitely prefer the taste of all honey vs. maple syrup or a combo of the two. Stick with honey.
- Trader Joes ground flaxseed with dried blueberries. Try it.
- Used a medium cookie scoop and then my hands to press them into 1.5 inch balls. If they come apart too easily add more honey.
- I prefer the regular size chocolate chips. If you aren't into chocolate chunks in general I would go for mini chips instead.
- Put them in an airtight container in the refrigerator and they kept for 7 days easily.
- They taste better cool-ish.
1/2 cup peanut butter1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanillaIn a medium bowl mix the dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl mix the wet ingredients together. Combine the two and stir well. Put mixture into the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Using a medium cookie scoop press into balls (rolling them between your hands doesn't really work). Keep refrigerated in an airtight container.
Penny: Mom say "cup of water"
Me: cup of water
Penny: say "candy land"
Me: candy land
Penny: say "salt and pepper"
Me: salt and pepper
Penny: say "Christmas decorations"
Me: Christmas decorations
Penny: say "bath tub"
Me: bath tub
Penny: say "pretzel hearts"
Me: pretzel hearts
Yep, she's crazy.
Chili's ranch dressing is one of my favorites. Combine that with their chips and salsa and I have lost all self control. In my endless search for a delicious homemade ranch dressing similar to Chili's this recipe came along. I'm in love! Here's what I learned:
- PICKLE JUICE! Yes, I'm shouting at you. Next time you try homemade ranch dressing at a restaurant notice the pickle juice flavor. It's there. And that my fellow ranch lovers is the key ingredient!
- Make a double batch. And use it to dip pizza, veggies, pretzels, your fingers, etc. in it.
- I like to chill this for at least 30 minutes before serving.
- Keeps for about 4 days give or take.
- Give it a stir every time you use it.
Chili's Copycat Ranch DressingFound herePrintable VersionINGREDIENTS1/4 cup mayonnaise (NOT/NEVER Miracle Whip)1/4 cup sour cream
(add another dollop for a thicker dressing)1 tablespoon pickle juice, dill1 tablespoon buttermilk1/8 teaspoon salt1/4 teaspoon dried parsley1/4 teaspoon onion powder1/8 teaspoon garlic powder1 dash pepperDIRECTIONSCombine mayonnaise, sour cream, and dill pickle juice in a medium size bowl. Add in buttermilk and stir. Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes. Give it a stir before serving.*Edited to add: I put an extra dollop of sour cream into my last batch and loved it! Even more like Chili's and a bit thicker.
Daddy: Penny you need to help clean up.
Penny: I'm a princess daddy. Princesses don't clean up.
Happy Valentine's Day from my feisty princess!
And oldish Instagram randoms...
I would like to retract my previous statement about this
being the best basic guacamole. It's not. Because the recipe I'm about to give you takes the number one spot. SO. FREAKING. GOOD. And thank you to my friend Cheryl for bringing this keeper into my life. Please do yourself a favor and make this. Here's what I learned:
Chunky GuacamoleBy: Cooks IllustratedPrintable VersionINGREDIENTS3 ripe avocados2 tablespoons red onion
- Definitely follow the instructions and use a combo of diced and mashed avocado. Texture perfect.
- I use the juice of one lime.
- It calls for table salt but I prefer kosher.
- Minced onion = red onion for me.
- Make a double batch if you are sharing. Trust me.
1 garlic clove, minced1 small jalapeno chile, seeded and minced1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, minced1/4 teaspoon kosher salt1/2 teaspoon ground cuminjuice of one limeMash one avocado and put into a medium bowl. Squeeze lime juice over the top and sprinkle with kosher salt. Mix to combine. Dice two remaining avocados (cut a cross-hatch pattern in the flesh and gently scoop out) and add to the bowl. Add remaining ingredients and gently stir. I like to refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.*Tip from Cooks Illustrated (and it works!): Cover the guacamole tightly with plastic wrap
pressing directly onto the surface of the mixture to prevent browning.
Ginger the cat is my girl's very favorite. I think she loves her more than me. She has created this entire cat world involving many imaginary friends. They attend an imaginary daycare and do crazy things like play kitty Kindles despite running out of batteries, buy trapezoid shaped helmets, and live with a King in a very foggy castle. Her imagination is endless and stunning. Ginger has three imaginary friends: Capmit, Jewel, and Newnuts. And they all know a cat named Wally who got stuck in a snowman who then got stuck in a tree. All of this happened in a very secret storybook with a castle and a new shopping store inside that sells "elephants and stuff". We do realize we are raising a crazy cat lady.
"Ginger got married in that pink house. She doesn't want to live there at the King's castle because it's foggy. Not even for a little minute"
"Ginger has a trapezoid helmet. Is that cool?"
"Ginger named her Christmas elf Lion Mocha."
"Ginger has a lot of rope so she can catch people."
"Ginger said noonanette. That means I need to come home."
"Ginger's bridge is out so she cant' get across."
"D-I-L-P-I, that's how you spell Capmit."
"Ginger rides on roller coasters and puts her hands up and says weeeeee!"
"You know where Ginger lives? She lives at Target."
"Ginger does this (waves arms up and down) when she sings."
And on and on and on and on. You get the idea.
She even asked me if we could write a story about Ginger. She told me what to put on each page without prompting. I need to put this together soon. It involves a bike accident and cookies. Perfect.