Fantasy Fudge is freezer friendly

 

Just in case you love fudge or chocolate like my husband does, it’s beneficial to know fudge can be wrapped tightly in foil and frozen for a good while. I secretly saved a third of the fantasy fudge and stowed it away. Tonight, I unwrapped the large chunk of fudge and cut it into bite size portions, like the ones pictured above. It was still frozen while I chopped a small portion with a chef knife and this allowed it  to come to room temperature quicker. We were indulging in homemade fudge within ten minutes. My daughter was indulging within one minute and didn’t care if it was cold.

Items made with milk and butter, marshmallow creme and other goodies do indeed freeze well. Have you checked out the prices for fudge at speciality shops? A whopping $10 to $15 a pound.  Save yourself a bundle and make your own. You could make goodie bags in a flash  for others by having homemade fudge in your freezer. Cut small squares and place in cellophane bags tied with a grosgrain ribbon for any holiday or appreciation gift.  Or you could just save it for yourself and eat it all;)– that’s my husband’s vote right now.

Recipe for Fantasy Fudge

What’s your favorite freezer item to give away?

Healthy homemade Popsicles

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The sound of the icecream truck is a familiar tune to adults and children on a summer day. How many of you recall the astropop when you were a kid? It is a red, white and blue novelty  re-introduced in the grocery store. This mold reminds me of the familar shape of an astropop. I remember the cost was close to a dollar or right under. A popsicle is 90% water with added food dye and high fructose corn syrup. Juice bars are made from concentrated juice and water. Fudgesicles and creamsicles are made from dairy.

Today’s post gives you ideas how to make your own healthy homemade popsicles and frozen treats. For healthy juicesicles, you need one ingredient–100% juice and you pour it into a mold like the one above, which came from the dollar tree or dollar general. Do you prefer a dairy frozen treat? Try freezing your leftover smoothie made with milk or yogurt, like the Tinkerbell or Incredible Hulk, for an easy treat. Oh your love is chocolate? Then make chocolate milk and freeze it. Using a blender is a great way to create new popscicle treats and pour them directly into the molds (so grab a few at the store).  It’s fun for kids to watch you make their popsicle and a few hours later enjoy a healthy treat. You know exactly what went into your treat and it’s low-calorie enough to enjoy two if they are small like mine.

Be creative with your popsicles and have fun. We actually pour the leftover smoothie which contains spinach. I bet you’ve never heard of that. My kids are eating frozen spinach!

TIP: Turn the entire mold upside down and run warm water over them first, and then gently pull down on the sticks to remove them easily. You can also use small bath cups for thicker mixtures, such as smoothies, and insert craft sticks in them prior to freezing.

Tell us your favorite popsicle creation or store-bought popsicle so we can get our wheels turning.

Chewy Granola Bars-Freezer Snack

I remember when my mom stayed home from work and she would bake my brother and I an afterschool snack. When you opened the door, you knew right away it was chocolate chip cookies. Those were fond memories. Now I have the pleasure of creating memories for my kids with an afterschool snack. Sometimes, I’ll bake cinnamon rolls , brownies or cookies, but today I decided to whip up a batch of chewy granola bars.

I love to make things from scratch because it’s so much healthier and I’m able to control the ingredients. I can use organic or all natural ingredients to make it even healthier, but much lower in cost.

These granola bars are super easy with just a few pantry staples. It almost reminds me of the Cascadian Farms chocolate chip granola bars. I substituted the mini chocolate chips for the raisins because my kids aren’t a huge fan of them. However, you must press these on top of the bars once they are pressed into the pan, otherwise, they melt inside. 

Chewy Granola Bars

2 cups rice cereal

2 cups dry oatmeal

1/2 cup raisins or other dried fruit –

1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 tsp. vanilla

cooking spray

In a large bowl, combine cereal, oats and raisins or chips. In a small pan, mix brown sugar and corn syrup. Heat and stir until boiling. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and vanilla. Pour over cereal mixture and mix well. Press firmly into a 9×13 pan sprayed with cooking spray. Press 1/2 cup chocolate chips on top if desired.  Cool and cut into 15 bars. You can freeze these bars individually and thaw on the day you want to eat. Otherwise, store in an airtight container.

Printable Chewy Granola Bars recipe is linked to It’s a Keeper and Good Cheap Eats

What was your favorite after school snack as a kid?

Naughty or Nice Brownies

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Are you feeling naughty or nice today? Make the nice brownies by adding in white whole wheat flour and less sugar or make the naughty version by keeping the full amount of sugar and throwing in a handful of chocolate chips. Either way is a winner in my book.

We made brownie kabobs by threading brownie bites, strawberries, fresh pineapple and banana on a skewer and the naughty part was the hershey syrup for decoration purposes. My ten year-old daughter loved this recipe. We saw the idea in a Betty Crocker calendar and we adapted it to work for us.  

Enjoy the recipe either way you make it. These baked brownies are freezer friendly. Cool the baked brownies and cut into squares. Freeze in snack or quart size bags and pack them for lunch desserts, like my whole wheat chocolate chip cookies.

Naughty or Nice Brownies

1 cup canola oil

2 cups sugar or naughty (1 used 1 1/2 cups raw cane sugar plus 1/2 cup chocolate chips)

4 eggs

1  cup flour (1/2 cup white whole wheat plus 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose)

2/3 cup cocoa

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9×13 pan. Combine oil, sugar, and vanilla. Add eggs and mix until well combined. Add flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt mixing until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake 30 minutes.

Got Pretzels? Pretzel Recipes

Some of you know my husband is a middle school teacher and sometimes he’s given odd things. Odd things are good, when it’s pretzels. A student’s parent works for a chip company and gave him these three bags of Halloween pretzels. Initially I thought, “My kids are going to have plenty of pretzels for their lunches.” Then my creative juices started flowing and I found some pretty great ideas for these pretzels. I’m going to put these to use with some other pantry items and have some fun.

Here are some ideas for you if you get a big bag from someone:) or you want to pick up a bag at the store.

This pretzel berry dessert  looks amazing and I’m definitely incorporating this into next week’s dessert.

I’m also going to make some pretzel desserts similar to these pretzel turtles, but I’m going to use a Hershey kiss, which I already have on hand and put a Christmas m&m on top. I’ll use her baking instructions though.

If I have any extra pretzels, I’ll add them to my homemade chex mix for a snack while the kids are out of school. Colby and I just devoured a simple trail mix with pretzels, cheddar bunnies and dry roasted almonds.

I found another cute idea making snowflake pretzels with pretzel rods, but I only have the twist kind, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

One last cute idea I might have to break down and buy pretzels for this. I will need some white chocolate or white bark to make a pretzel wreath.

Bottom line: use what you have and use it creatively; that’s what I strive for.

Freezing Bananas and Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

Call it banana chocolate chip or chocolate chip banana bread if you like. Either name, I make 2 loaves at a time and freeze one loaf for a future snack or dessert for lunchbox treats. I use the Martha Stewart recipe and I tweak it with my usual King Arthur white whole wheat flour and I add about 1/2 cup mini or regular chocolate chips. I like the mini if I can find them on sale. I typically can find a coupon at the nestle website and then I pair it with a sale (which is 2 for $4). I do not buy my flour online. I buy it at Ingles or Super Wal-Mart for $3.50-$4 for a 5# bag.

Once the bread is completely cooled on a wire cooling rack. I wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and then I either stick it in a gallon size freezer bag (which is reusable) or I wrap it in foil (also reusable). This helps keep out all the moisture and the bread will stay fresh for months. When I am ready to serve, I thaw it for about 4 hours at room temperature and then I proceed to slice. If you need it in less than 4 hours, I recommend going ahead and slicing it and the slices will thaw sooner.

You can also freeze slices in snack size bags for lunch treats and freeze. Place the frozen slices in the lunches the night before or day of packing if you know your child will eat around noon. It may be slightly frozen if lunch is sooner so plan accordingly.

Did you know? Ripe bananas can also be frozen whole for future banana bread? The peel preserves the banana better than a bag. It is recommended to allow the whole bananas to soften for about 2 hours before you mash for banana bread or slice for smoothies. I find this method better than peeling and sticking in a bag because freezer burn is more likely. However, the thawing method is more time-consuming so experiment with it and see which method you like better. Either way, bananas should never be wasted.

Have you ever tried to freeze bananas? What are your experiences?

Martha Stewart’s Banana Bread
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour (I substitute 1 cup white whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed bananas
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
 
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts or chocolate chips (optional)
 
Directions
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, sugar, and eggs. Combine the dry ingredients and add to the butter mixture. Blend well. Add the bananas, sour cream, and vanilla. Stir well. Stir in the nuts if using. Pour into a well greased loaf pan. I spray mine with cooking spray. Bake for 55-60 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes then turn onto a rack to cool. Slice and enjoy!
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Make Ahead Holiday Meal For My Family

I have a confession to make. I don’t recall making a complete holiday meal on my own with all the fixings. In my fourteen years of marriage, I have always made several items to a family meal and feasted at someone’s house. Drum roll please-this year I’m going to make the turkey and all the fixings at my house and have leftovers, which I’m very excited about because I plan on freezing leftovers, of course.

So, I’m in the midst of planning my meal and I have found a few links for you to get prepared also. As I’m pondering over what to make my list becomes very daunting because there is so much hands on cooking and I start thinking about doing it in one day it feels overwhelming. Then I ask myself, why would I do everything in one day. Of course I can make desserts on a different day, which I think we all think of that, but what about the turkey and the stuffing and maybe the mashed potatoes. I’m brewing a plan to make ahead several items, including my turkey and have a less stressful Thanksgiving Day when my family is at home.

My thought is if I’m going to take time to make a feast, why not make a lot and freeze it for another feast!

Here’s what I’m thinking so far.

Turkey  (Wednesday; reheat Thursday)

Homemade Gravy (Thursday)

Mashed potatoes (peel and cut on Wednesday; store in cold water in fridge)

Fresh asparagus (Thursday)

Pumpkin yeast rolls (Thursday)  It yields 4 dozen rolls so I’ll have plenty to freeze for turkey sandwiches for lunches

Cranberry salad (Monday) I’ve got to locate my recipe from my mother-in-law and post it.

Pumpkin pie  with cool whip (Tuesday)

Homemade Ice cream cake for my son’s eighth birthday (Wednesday, leftovers for kids on Thursday)

Now I’ve got a menu and I’m getting all my recipes together to shop for this feast and we’ll supplement next week’s grocery trip with meals from the freezer, of course.

Have you made a menu yet or planned your items around your allowed time?

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