>homemade frappe.

>Today is a perfect day to enjoy a frappuccino … so is tomorrow, and the day after that. But since I happen to have 5 kiddos at home and really dislike spending money on frappuccino’s, I decided it would be much easier to make my own. I’ve had many requests for the recipe, so here it is!

Homemade Frappe (this makes a good 3 cups)
~2 cups milk (any kind works)
~1 1/2 T. instant coffee granules
~1 T. sugar, or other sweetener
~5-6 ice cubes (I use coffee ice cubes from leftover coffee that I freeze into cubes when I have them, but using regular ice cubes works fine and doesn’t water it down too much)
~Optional add-ins for mocha or vanilla frappe (see notes below)*

Put all ingredients into blender (I use a vitamix, but I’m assuming any blender will work) and blend for about a minute until all ingredients are combined and drink is frothy.

*For a mocha frappuccino add 1 heaping T. cacao powder (or you can use whatever cocoa powder you have and/or chocolate syrup … but if using syrup you probably won’t need to add any other sweetener); to make a vanilla version add 1 T. vanilla.

Enjoy and stay cool!

>snackin’

>Having lots of kiddos means lots of hungry mouths. I am always trying to provide healthy snacks that will actually fill them up until the next meal to prevent constantly hearing “Mommy, I’m hungry” all day long. The latest and greatest snack has been my homemade “Larabars.” And I’ll admit, they make a pretty good snack for Mommy too! The recipe possibilities are pretty endless depending on what you like, but below are some of our favorites!

For all of these recipes I used medjool dates. The instructions are the same for each recipe; put nuts in food processor and process until finely chopped. Add chopped dates (pits removed) and all other ingredients then process until a paste forms and all ingredients are combined. Remove and shape into bars on plastic wrap. I label a ziplock baggie for each kind and store them in the refrigerator. I make multiple different kinds back to back and don’t wash my food processor until I’m completely done to save time.

Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookie Bars (makes 4)
1/2 c. dates
1/3 c. almonds
1/3 c. cashews
1/2 c. coconut, shredded and unsweetened
2 T. chocolate chips
1 tsp. coconut oil

Coconut Cream Bars (makes 4)
1/2 c. dates
1/3 c. almonds
1/3 c. cashews
1/2 c. coconut, shredded and unsweetened
3 tsp. coconut oil

Chocolate Coconut Chew Bars (makes 4)
1/2 c. dates
1/3 c. almonds
1/3 c. walnuts
1/4 c. coconut, shredded and unsweetened
2 T. cacao powder

Cashew Cookie Bars (makes 3)
2/3 c. cashews
1/2 c. dates

Double Chocolate Brownie Bar (makes 4)
1/2 c. dates
1/3 c. almonds
1/3 c. walnuts
1/4 c. chocolate chips
2 T. cacao powder

Cherry Pie Bar (makes 5)
1 c. almonds
1/2 c. dates
1/2 c. dried cherries

These make for a great high protein snack that will fill up little and big bellies!

>for the health nuts.

>I get a lot of questions about the way we eat, and why we eat the way we do.
Probably because I make a lot of what we eat from scratch, and avoid the grocery store as much as possible. Or someone will hear that we pick up farm fresh eggs and raw milk every week and ask why.
Most think I’m crazy considering I have 5 kiddos and we homeschool, but I love being in the kitchen and enjoy learning new things. Like anyone, I have my limitations in different seasons of life since I’m not superwoman (try as I might … ha)!
And in case anyone is wondering … we don’t eat healthy all of the time, just most of the time.
As to the why part; I think that we tend to feel better and stay healthier when we’re eating well … and that enables me to fulfill my role as a wife, mother and homemaker much easier.
As to what we eat … I just found out that the Weston Price Foundation recently released a free e-book called Healthy 4 Life that discusses much of what we eat and what I use to cook/bake. If you’re at all interested you can check it out here …

Healthy 4 Life e-book

And don’t worry, I’ll still be your friend even if you think I’m a crazy health nut. I’ll even eat chocolate (especially dark) with you!

>Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte

>I recently made a comment on facebook about how much I’m enjoying (or maybe addicted to) my homemade pumpkin spice lattes. They are the perfect treat when I have some leftover pumpkin from baking pumpkin goodies … which is conveniently something I’ve been doing a lot of recently! Needless to say, there have been many requests for my recipe … so here it is!

Pumpkin Spice Latte
~1 1/2 c. milk and 1 T. instant coffee OR
1 c. milk and 1/2 c. strong brewed coffee
~3 T. pumpkin puree
~1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
~1/2 tsp. cinnamon
~1 tsp. vanilla
~2 T. sugar

Put all ingredients in blender … if you have a vitamix (or other high powered blender), allow to blend for 5-6 minutes until it’s good and hot.

If making in a regular blender, transfer to a stovetop pan and simmer until it reaches desired temperature.

Pour into mug (or in my case my contigo mug – I like my drinks to stay hot!) and enjoy saving yourself some money …

Better yet, have some TJ’s Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s with your latte …

Now just find yourself a cute baby to snuggle with …

The end.

>Scrapbooking, Granola Bars and Snow!

>This past weekend was my annual scrapbooking retreat. I always have a blast spending time with family and friends, getting lots accomplished in my albums (of course having a baby along makes it a little less productive!) and looking for good deals at the outlets. Having my Mom, Aunts and Cousins there was a huge help with Callie since there were plenty of ladies willing to hold Callie and entertain her when she was awake and not entertaining herself! Back at home, the older kiddos had a blast with Daddy. They worked outside, played games and did a great job keeping the house in order (even the kitchen!). Oh, and Brian decided to shave his head while I was away … but the good news is that it will grow back (so all you bald headed buddies of Brian better enjoy it while it’s here and be grateful I went on my retreat)!

For all my fellow scrapping family and friends who requested the granola bar recipe that I brought along, here you go …

Granola Bars
~2 1/2 c. oats
~1/2 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
~1/2 c. pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
~1/4 c. ground flaxseed
~1 c. almonds, chopped
~1 tsp. sea salt
~1 tsp. cinnamon
~1 tsp. vanilla
~1/2 c. raw honey
~1/4 c. peanut butter
~1 c. dried fruit (I use cranberries)

~Preheat oven to 315*
~Combine oats, coconut, seeds and nuts – spread out evently on bar pan (I use my large pampered chef stone) and toast for 15 minutes.
~Combine honey, peanut butter, salt, cinnamon and vanilla in saucepan over low heat to dissolve honey and peanut butter until smooth.
~Mix oat mixture, honey/peanut butter mixture and dried fruit together very well to combine all ingredients and coat evenly.
~Press into bar pan (I use my stone again) very well using something hard and flat to press down into pan.
~Bake for 20-25 minutes, let cool and cut into bars/squares using sharp knife (I find it best to cut before completely cool or they are much harder to cut). Store in an airtight container.

Today we have already gotten over a 1/2 ft. of snow! I love snow … of course I am really looking forward to spring, but if it’s going to be freezing cold anyway then snow is nice! The kids can’t wait to go out and play, but we’re trying to wait for it to stop first then we’ll venture out! We’ll probably end up with at least 8-9 inches which is our best snowfall all year … in March … typical PA weather!

Hopefully everyone else has a great snow day!