Chocolate Grissini Wands

choc grissini wandsMy two sisters and I all have birthdays within a few weeks of each other and when I was growing up birthday time was my favourite time of year! My mother always involved us in all aspects of party prep. We’d choose a theme, design the decor, decorate party hats, set up our favourite games and help with the cooking.

For me, all of these things helped build the magic and excitement of the big day.  I have continued this much loved tradition with my own three children, although thankfully their birthdays are more evenly spread throughout the year!

One of the easiest ways to involve kids in the preparation for their birthday parties is in the kitchen.  Something that is a staple at all of our birthday parties, always a hit and easy for kids to make are chocolate grissini wands.

Chocolate grissini wands

You will need
  • Small grissini bread sticks
  • Chocolate melts
  • Sprinkles
  • Spoon
  • Bowls
  • Mug or glass
How to

1. Melt the chocolate by putting it into a bowl in the microwave and heating for 30 second increments until melted.  Alternatively, you could use a double saucepan on the stove top to melt your chocolate.

2. Wait a few minutes so that the chocolate is not too runny and then spoon the chocolate over the top third of the grissini stick, twisting as you go so that the chocolate spreads as evenly as possible.

3.  Over a bowl, sprinkle the sprinkles over the chocolate.

4.  Pop your choc covered grissini stick into a mug or glass until the chocolate hardens.

Tip: If the chocolate starts to drip down the grissini stick at this stage, then your chocolate is too warm and you need to wait a few minutes for the chocolate to cool down a little before continuing.

You might like to measure the length of your mug so that the chocolate doesn’t stick to the mug as it dries.  You can do this by simply holding the grissini stick up against the mug, like my 6 year old son is doing in the pic below.

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and then keeping your finger there as you put the melted chocolate onto the grissini stick making sure that the chocolate always stays above that line.

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5. Once the chocolate has set, place your chocolate grissini wands in an airtight container until party time.  They’ll last for weeks so you can make them well in advance which is always a winner!

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It might get a little messy and they may not look absolutely perfect, but in the end it doesn’t really matter because they’ll still taste delicious. Besides, you just can’t beat that look of pride and satisfaction on your kids’ faces from having made something all by themselves!

Believe me, if you start them young, they’ll be running their own parties in no time!

How much do you involve your children in party prep?  

Do you have any tried and true recipes to share that are great to do with kids?

more-party-ideas

emma

A version of this post first appeared on kidspot.com.au in August 2013

Clare’s Christmas Parfait

My sister Clare made the most deliciously simple dessert for our (early) Christmas dinner at Mum’s on the weekend and it was so scrumptious that I had to share! 

CLARE’S CHRISTMAS PARFAIT

Layer 1: 
Raspberry jelly
Layer 2: 
Strawberry jelly
Layer 3: 
Jalna Vanilla Yoghurt
Layer 4: 
Raspberries & chopped strawberries
Layer 5: 
Custard
Layer 6: 
Another dollop of yoghurt
Layer 7: 
Toasted almond flakes
Layer 8: 
Red currants to decorate

She also made a fun Christmas salad the next day that I just had to share with you as well!  She’s a clever cookie that one.


How creative do you get with your food at Christmas time?

For more easy Christmas (and rest of the year) recipes from FGB you can head over here.

Easy Peasy Potato Salad

When I was a uni student and flatting with mates, whenever one was required to bring a salad or a dessert to a BBQ, I had my two standard dishes that I would bring.  Every single time.  Most likely because I had no idea how to do anything more elaborate and complicated and that these dishes required no effort whatsoever.

Those dishes were Chocolate Ripple Cake and this Cheat’s Potato Salad.

I got this recipe from a dear friend of my mothers who always makes the best salads!  I have been making it for almost twenty years and I still bring it to almost every BBQ that I attend and it’s always a winner! The beginning of daylight savings here in Victoria seems to herald in the BBQ season so I dare say it’ll be getting a good run in the coming months.

Lee-Ann’s Cheats Potato Salad

chat/small/mini potatoes
mayonnaise
bacon pieces, fried 
spring onions, thinly sliced

Boil the potatoes on the stove top in boiling water until the potatoes are cooked.  Let it cool down a little before popping them in a bowl and spooning mayo over the top.  If the potatoes are still too hot, the mayo goes a little yellow and it won’t stay on the top of the spuds.  Sprinkle the bacon and spring onion over the top of the mayo and you’re done.  

No need to put in the amounts, because it really doesn’t matter.  It’s all personal preference really.  I will say however that I have always used Kraft mayo because it has such a great tang, but you can use whatever mayo you like!



You can find plenty more simple recipes over here where I’m building a collection of 
my favourite easy peasy recipes.  

Do you have a staple food that you always bring to parties?

Is there a dish that you’ve been making forever that you’ll never get tired of?



Spinach, Cheese & Corn muffins

In the weeks after my recent op, I had many friends drop around with meals and goodies with I was extreeeeeeeemely grateful for!  The biggest surprise winner for my kids were some muffins made by my friend Anna.  I mean, they had green stuff in them and hers had three times more and in much larger pieces than mine in the pic above!  They chose them over her delicious handmade sausage rolls and had a couple each!

SPINACH CHEESE & CORN MUFFINS

2 cups SR flour
1 can of corn kernels
1/2 cup grated cheese
1/4 cup of chopped chives
2 cups of roughly chopped spinach
1 cup milk
1 egg
80g melted butter
2 tbs polenta

1.  Turn oven on to 200 degrees celcius.
2. Grease 12 cup capacity muffin tin.  Or just use muffin cases.
3. Combine flour, corn, cheese, flour & spinach in a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle.  
4. Combine milk, eggs & butter in a jug and pour into the well.  Using a wooden spoon, mix together until just combined. Try not to overmix (difficult with kids involved!)
5. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tins and sprinkle with polenta.  (The kids love this bit).
6.  Pop in the oven for 20-25 mins.  

They are particularly delicious fresh out of the oven with lots of butter!

Just like these, these & these lunchtime winners, they freeze well and are great to bring out and reheat when needing a yummy lunch or snack.



We have made them a few times since and they are still a hit.  

I always have lots of eager & adorable helpers in the kitchen.  


Can’t seem to get away with cooking on my own.  Is it the same at your house? 



For more easy peasy recipes, head over here.

Some EASY PEASY treats

We made this super quick and easy LCM bar equivalent slice last week from Katrina at The Organised Housewife and they disappeared VERY quickly.  With the ingredients of only rice bubbles, peanut butter, marshmallows & butter it is not healthy in the slightest, but sooooo good and so quick to make!  Winner!

Thanks to your fantastic suggestions here and on facebook, we used some of our mandarines in this delicious mandarine cake.  Another winner!  Anna always makes cooking with the kids fun due to her fantastic illustrations that make it sooooo easy!  Thanks Anna!  

Do you ever cook recipes that you find on blogs?

I’d love to know if you have ever tried any Frog, Goose & Bear recipes.  I am so glad that I have got so many of my regular easy recipes on this site now.  I don’t even use my recipe folder any more, I just go straight to my blog for the recipe.  Particularly handy when away from home, or if someone asks me for a recipe!  
Always a thrill as I’m actually not a great cook. I have many, many disasters as my poor family members will attest!  I’d rather be doing other things than cooking, so any recipe that is quick and easy and is also delicious is definitely a winner in my book!  I figure there are many people in the same boat which is why I share recipes on my blog which make me look good with little effort from myself and no need for great cooking skill!


EASY PEASY DINNER WINNER WITH GOOSE

Earlier this year, for school, Goose (grade 3) had to cook a healthy meal for the family and then present it to the class.  As we took photos of each step, I thought I might share this easy peasy three course meal with you and maybe your kids could give it a try! 

ENTREE
Pumpkin Soup with Toasted Cheese Skewers


MAIN
Baked Crispy Chicken Strips & Salad


DESSERT
Mixed Berries & Yoghurt


PUMPKIN SOUP
Melt 1 tbs of butter & fry one chopped onion in saucepan.
Add 500g pumpkin, 2.5 cups of chicken stock, a sprinkle of ground cloves & nutmeg, 1/2 tsp sugar, 2 drops of tabasco sauce to the saucepan & simmer.

When pumpkin is soft, puree with handheld blender.

Add lemon juice & cream to taste.
Serve in mug with mini toasted cheese sandwiches on skewers. 

BAKED CRISPY CHICKEN STRIPS

Set oven to 230C.  Make the breadcrumbs by placing some frozen bread into the food processor.

Place breadcrumbs, flour & egg into three separate bowls. 


Lightly coat each chicken strip with flour, then egg & then breadcrumbs.

It’s messy work, but that’s half the fun!

Once crumbed, place on a lightly greased baking tray, spray with oil and cook at 230C for 30 mins or until golden brown.
 Serve with a salad & dipping sauce.
Although not particularly healthy we use a yummy dipping sauce that we make from 1/3 cup tomato sauce, 2 tbs American mustard, 1 tbs honey & 1 tbs brown sugar.
 BERRIES & YOGHURT

Self explanatory really, but we just popped some raspberries, blackberries, strawberries & blueberries into a bowl with a dollop of yoghurt on the top.

Do you let your kids loose in the kitchen?  Is it more trouble than it’s worth?  Or an important life skill?

For a long list of our other easy peasy recipes – we only do simple here – you might like to head over here.

The bottomless jar of Vanilla Extract

Did you know that you could make your own vanilla extract?

I noticed a few people around the blogosphere making them around Christmas time as gifts and I had big plans to do the same, but I only ended up making one – a gift for myself.


DIY VANILLA EXTRACT

Fill a small jar with unflavoured vodka and pop in a couple of vanilla pods.  You might like to cut the vanilla pods in half lengthways first to let the goodness out.  Pop the lid back on and let it brew for a 3-4 months.

That’s it!

The beauty of this method is that when the jar is running a little low, you simply add some more vodka!  A bottomless jar of vanilla!  

I made this bottle back in December and it’s ready to use now.  The smell is divine.  If truth be known, I probably went overboard with vanilla pods

They would make a great little gift by adding this little free printable from the Graphics Fairy* of a vintage vanilla extract label.


Have you made vanilla extract before?

What is your favourite use for vanilla extract?  
Mine is adding it to cream and piling it on a bowl full of strawberries.  Yum!

For more easy recipes, head over here.


*If you are a fan of vintage graphics – you will find this site to be your mecca!

P.S.  I have seen many, many tutorials online for making your own vanilla extract and brandy & rum can also be used.  Here is a more detailed tutorial should you need it.

Mini Aussie S’mores

Ever since tasting my first S’more in Cranberry, Pennsylvania, USA 17 years ago I have been lamenting the lack of the Australian equivalent.  However, it seems that all this time I have been living unaware that there actually was one!

After being introduced to the answer a few weeks ago, I was keen to try it out on our Easter camping weekend.  

Instead of the American Graham Crackers, here in Australia Arnott’s Chocolate Wheatens or McVitie’s Chocolate Digestives serve the same delicious purpose.  After coming across some bags of mini chocolate digestives in the supermarket, I thought it would be fun to make a mini bite sized version of the classic camping treat using mini marshmallows!
MINI AUSSIE S’MORES

Place 2 mini marshmallows onto the perfect marshmallow stick that you have scavenged somewhere on the ground* and cook them to your liking in the coals** of a campfire.

Place a mini chocolate wheaten on your lap***, chocolate side up.  Then place your marshmallows, still on the stick, on top.  Then on top of your marshmallows, still on the stick, place another mini chocolate wheaten, chocolate side down.

Slide your marshmallow stick out, leaving the marshmallow behind so that you have a delicious marshmallowy, chocolatey biscuit sandwich.

Indulge in the mini bite sized moreish treat!


Of course we also made the other classic campfire dessert choc bananas wrapped in foil.  I think we might be adding Aussie S’mores to the camping repertoire from now on!


Do you have a favourite camping treat?

who knows where it’s been?!
** coals really are the best for cooking marshmallows.  I’m sure you’re all aware of this.  There are those who do like a charred marshmallow, I am not one of them.
*** Also filthy from a days worth of chocolate and fun outdoors with children.
I was always taught that a bit of dirt is good for the immune system…..although this recipe would no doubt work deliciously well, and more hygenically on a gas stove.

EASY PEASY BANANA POPS

With the hot, hot weather in Melbourne this weekend and bananas back to an affordable price, we’ve made some quick and easy banana pops!


Simply peel bananas, chop in half, stick in a paddlepop stick and pop it in the freezer for a few hours.  

A perfectly healthy summer treat!  
This same method also works very well with large strawberries – 2 or 3 to a stick.  
I’m sure it would work well with a multitude of fruits!

As with most of the ideas on this blog – this one came from my Mum.  She always has a box of these in the freezer at her house for when the kids come to stay.  Thanks Mum!  ;)
I have also seen something similar on ‘playschool’ with the bananas dipped in honey and then rolled in coconut which might well be worth a try also!

What do you do on summer days when it’s very, very hot?
I think we might just have to get the black plastic out again…

EASY PEASY CHOCOLATE DESSERT (with chocolate melting tip!)

I seem to have melted lots of chocolate lately.  I have melted it to make fairy wands & marshmallow teacups for birthday parties, chocolate christmas puddings, christmas bark and the odd bowl of chocolate fondue….


To make simple & basic chocolate fondue you just
 melt 250g of milk chocolate (using the method below)and then stir in 1/3 cup of cream.  

You don’t need a special fondue set, any old bowl will work perfectly well.  Using forks you can dip anything you like in the chocolate.  Grissini bread sticks work beautifully, as does fruit or marshmallows.

So decadent and soooo yummy.  Lots of fun for kids too!


Now, here is the promised chocolate melting tip….

In the past I have often found melting chocolate a bit of ‘hit & miss’.  Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t.  More often than not it went lumpy.  I could never get it right in the microwave even when others swore by that method.  But, with a bit of trial and error, I have found a foolproof way of melting chocolate perfectly every time.  A method no doubt well known by others, but new to me.

I like to use a double saucepan, but you could use a metal bowl on top of a saucepan.  
It looks like lots of writing, but really it’s 5 quick steps written in bold print.

1. boil water in kettle (or saucepan on stove).
2. pour boiling water from kettle into saucepan until approx. one third full.
(or remove saucepan from heat if you have boiled water on stove) 
3. place top saucepan (or metal bowl) onto bottom saucepan 
(making sure it is no longer on the stove – this is the key people!).
4. Place chocolate into top saucepan (or bowl).
 I like to use melts especially designed for melting.
5. Wait for chocolate to melt.  It will happen slowly….quite a few minutes, but be patient and stir as you go if you like.  You’ll think it is not working, but it is!  

What dishes do you melt chocolate for?

For more easy peasy recipes head over to the FGB easy recipes page here.

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