Oct 28

Apple Recipe Round Up

by Hannah Holt »

one comment

I keep buying huge crates of apples. I can’t help it. They are super cheap this time of year and absolutely delicious! How can I resist?

Well, I’ve processed over one hundred pounds of apples over the last few weeks. I’d like to share some of my favorite recipes!

1. Apples chips

Apple Chips

What you need:

-apples (we used Jonagold, but I bet any baking apple would do)
-a cookie sheet
-cooking spray or parchment paper
-a sharp cutting knife

Directions: Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. De-stem and core the apples. Slices them about the width of a quarter. (You can cut them thicker but it’ll take more time to dry that way.) Lay them in a single layer on a greased cookie sheet or one lined with parchment paper. Place them in the preheated oven for 4-6 hours, or until dry and crisp.

Tip: don’t have 4-6 hours to hang around the house while they dry? Cook them for 2-3 hours during an evening and then turn the heat off and let them rest in the oven over night. If they aren’t quite dry in the morning, cook them for another hour of so.

2. Slow-Cooker Applesauce

Crock Pot Apple Sauce

What you need:

-apples (we used Jonagold, but a mix of baking apples would be delicious)
-a slow cooker
-a sharp cutting knife

Directions: Peal the apples, core them, and slice them into pieces. (Some people prefer to leave the skin on…that’s fine, but I recommend at least removing the cores and stems. Because unless you have a Victorio Strainer you will have a lot of “texture” in your apples sauce. Crunch, crunch). Cook the apples on low for 8-10 hours. You might want to stir them occasionally the last few hours to keep them from sticking, but that’s pretty much it. The apples will be so soft that you can stir them into a mush pretty easily. Add cinnamon for more YUM!

I’ve used up most of my apples on the healthier fare above, but no apple post would be complete without diving into dessert!

Here’s a round up of some of our favorite apples desserts…

These cinnamon apple rings look divine.

You can’t go wrong with apple crumb cake.

If the words easy apple cream cheese pastry sound good, try this recipe.

Of course, apple pie has to make the list! Here’s a great crust recipe. And here’s for the pie filling.

As the German’s say, “Mahl zeit!”

Sep 24

20 Kitchen Activities for a Rainy Day

by Hannah Holt »



Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day…

We can wish all we want, but it looks like the rain is here to stay. We’re keeping cabin fever at bay on these rainy, rainy days by staying busy. I have two three-year-olds, so we need to stay really busy if I don’t want the laundry dumped all over the house or Vaseline smeared on the walls. Here’s how we create, engineer, grow, and explore in our kitchen.

Part I – Create


1. Grease cake pans and dust with flour. Instant finger painting.

2.  Cut a round oatmeal container in half. Using a strip of thick construction paper of thin cardboard, create a handle for the top. You now have a basket to decorate.

3. Using markers, crayons, and string, make a paper plate mask.

4.  Glue dried beans and pasta to a paper plate to create an artistic mosaic.

5. String penne, macaroni, or rigatoni noodles together to make a necklace. The fatter the noodle hole the easier it will be for little fingers.

Part II – Engineer


6. Use toothpicks and marshmallows to create shapes, structures, and more.

7. Build a tower out of clean food storage containers.

8. Hand your child a straws and have them blow feathers or small strips of paper across the floor.

9. Race canned foods on an incline. Try different sizes and weighs of containers. Guess which can will win.

10. Turn coffee filters into parachutes. Will the parachute still work if you attach a toy?

Part III – Grow

bean sprouts11

11. Place a handful of dried beans in a ziplock bag with a slightly damp paper towel. Over the next week, watch them sprout.

12. Cut a bunch of celery down to its base. Place it in a bowl of shallow water. It will regrow. This also works with lettuce heads and green onions.

13. Open a bell pepper and plant some of the seeds in cup with potting soil. Keep the seeds moist and place by a window with sunlight.

14. Cut a potato in half and place the cut side down in a mason jar with water (you will need to suspend it part way in the water with tooth picks). Make sure at least one of the potato’s eyes is below the water level. Place in a sunny spot and watch it grow.

15. Place a piece of white bread in a plastic bag with small helping of mud. Watch the mold grow.

Part IV – Explore

cups 16

16. Using a pencil, punch holes in a Styrofoam cup. Let the kids splash in the sink and watch the water drain out the holes.

17. Empty a cupboard, and turn it into a child’s hideout for the day.

18. Give children a cupcake pan and an assortment of colored beads. Have them count, sort, and arrange the beads.

19. Freeze toys in ice. Place the ice blocks in a big storage bin and have children chip away at the ice until the toys are free.

20. Create a masking tape grid on the floor. Have the kids jump from square to square. They can also make their own roads with the tape and design a city.

I hope all your rainy days are happy days!

Jun 11

Strawberry Fruit Leather (No Added Sugar)

by Hannah Holt »

Comments Off on Strawberry Fruit Leather (No Added Sugar)

I might have been a little over zealous with berry picking on Saturday…

straw fresh

It turns out 40 lbs of strawberries is a lot. I know, duh. But seriously, I made jam and froze berries and the kids ate more fresh berries than a digestive system really should have.

And yet, I still had gobs and gobs of berries. At eleven at night I was out of freezer space, so I started pureeing it by the bucket-load.

What can you do with berries when you have no more fridge or freezer space?

Make fruit leather, of course!

strawberry leather steps


Here’s the recipe I used. It’s sort of a choose your own adventure recipe depending on how sweet you want it. Let’s just say making fruit leather is not an exact science. Everything is plus or minus 20 minutes, but this will get you in the ball park…

Strawberry Leather

  • 3 cups pureed strawberries (about 1.5 pounds)
  • (You can sweeten it with up to 1 cup of sugar for super-sweet, but if your berries are really ripe you won’t need it. Also adding sugar, will increase the cooking time…and your dental bills.)

Step 1: Strain the pureed berries through a fine mesh strainer to remove seeds.

Step 2: In a thick bottomed sauce pan, bring the berries to a low boil over medium low heat. Then simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 50 minutes. (The mixture will be thick enough to mound slightly at the end.)

Step 3: Preheat oven to 200ºF and line a 15×10-inch pan with parchment paper.

Step 4: Pour the thickened puree into the prepared pan and spread as evenly as possibly.

Step 5: Dry the puree in the oven until it feels sticky but will not stick to your finger (about 2 hours). Or you may cook it for 90 minutes and the turn to oven off and leave it in there over night. If you choose not to leave it in the oven overnight you will need to let the dried puree cool on the counter for at least 3 hours before eating it.

Step 6: Using kitchen scissors, cut up the cooled leather on the parchment paper and roll it up. It may be stored in a plastic bag at room temperature for about a month.

straw done


FYI, many fruits can be dried in the oven at low heat over long periods of time. Here are some bananas I dried the next day.



The strawberry puree dipped ones were my favorite, but they were all delicious.



Dec 19

Star Wars Birthday Party

by Hannah Holt »

one comment

My big-little-man turned eight this month. His current passion is Star Wars, and that’s convenient for me because Star Wars is everywhere.

I picked up this banner from my local party supply store for about $3, and we played pin the lightsaber on Darth Vadar:


We pinned lightsabers by printing off paper lightsabers from this post.

At first the kids were, like…

Kids: Hey, Darth Vadar already has a lightsaber!

Me: If you win, you get silly putty.

Kids: Ooooh, can I go first? No me! No me!

Cheap motivational prizes solve pretty much all potential birthday party problems.

I also made a Death Star Piñata:

death star pinjata

Really, who doesn’t want to take a whack at the Death Star?

The nice thing about the Death Star is it’s round.


Don’t tell Darth Vadar we built this Death Star around a pink balloon. The piñata paste was made by combining all-purpose flour and water at a 1:1 ratio (one cup water, one cup flour). I dipped newspaper strips in the paste and covered the balloon until I felt like it was strong enough to withstand a rebel attack.


I let it dry for a few days and the cut a hole for the prizes. Then I taped up the hole really well and painted over the entire thing with black and gray acrylic paint (see above).

For the pièce de résistance, I made a Millennium Falcon cake:

melennium falcon cake

I baked two cake rounds, chopped one of the circles up, gave the entire cake a drizzle glaze (regular frosting with extra milk added) of white over they entire cake, and marked it up with gray and black cake decorating gel (click to see a larger step-by-step photo process. I usually frost my cakes with wax paper liners underneath. Then I can remove the wax paper and any frosting drips.

millenium falcon cake inst

Dec 04

Virginia Lee Burton’s The Little House (in Gingerbread)

by Hannah Holt »


If you could make any building from children’s literature out of gingerbread, what would it be?

I would love to make The Plaza Hotel from Elouise or Harry Potter’s Hogwarts. I used to make gingerbread castles, creating full scale models from cardboard and etc (hey, I was a civil engineering major).

But these days, with the kids, my gingerbread creations are more modest. This year I made Virginia Lee Burton’s The Little House.

The Little House in Gingerbread

I used the recipe and gingerbread template from Bon Appétit. This recipe is super-delicious, and it makes enough dough for six small gingerbread houses (like the above) or if you are feeling more ambitious…perhaps, the castle from Journey:

What would you build?