We wish you a “Merry Fishmas!”




You will want to make this mix every year!

Do you have a food that instantly reminds you of someone in your family? My Oma makes these seasoned oyster crackers that remind me of the holidays the second I pop them in my mouth. And I thought that they’d make a great gift idea for the upcoming holidays. ‘Tis the season for parties, get-togethers, teachers’ gifts, neighborhood pot-lucks, and so much more. I never want to show up empty-handed, and who doesn’t love a yummy snack?!
But I wanted to switch it up a bit, so I’m making the seasoned crackers using Goldfish instead!Β And because Goldfish taste amazing, come in super fun colors, and are always baked with real cheese, I can feel good about giving this gift to people I love and adore!
So without further ado, here’s the recipe for my version of Oma’s Fishmas Crackers (I did alter them slightly)!
Heat oven to 225
Put 15oz (half of the BIG container) of Goldfish into a big bowl
Melt 2T of butter (salted or unsalted) and pour over Goldfish
Add 1/2 packet of powdered ranch, 1tsp Italian seasoning, and 2T parmesan cheese to the crackers and mix well
Pour seasoned Goldfish onto a pan and bake at 225 for 15 minutes. Let cool completely and put into your favorite dish, gift tin, cellophane bag, etc.!
Here’s how I displayed mine for the perfect hostess gift! The multi-colored mix makes me think of Christmas lights…and actually it’s pretty neat how the Goldfish get their colors! Hint: it’s not food dye. Seriously, click here to see how they make the green color…I’ll wait!

My Oma also painted that tiny nativity scene next to the carton!

I love these cartons I found!

I couldn’t find the exact milk cartons I used, so I linked take-out containers I found which would work perfectly as well! I wrapped some Christmas ribbon around the side, and hung a tag that said “Merry Fishmas!”
But I also thought of another way to use these goldfish! Find the clear plastic round ornaments (I’ll link them below), and fill them halfway with the Goldfish. Using puff paint, markers, or even stickers, decorate the outside of the ornament to look like the ocean! It’s a fun craft project to do while the kids are home on Christmas break and you need to fill the time with projects they’ll enjoy (and can eat)! An activity that doubles as a snack=win in my book! For other awesome ideas, Goldfish has a Pinterest page, so check it out πŸ™‚

Try to find the fully clear ornaments to look like a fishbowl!

Have a very merry fishmas from my school (get it? a fish family is called a school πŸ™‚ ) to yours!
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Halloween meals from breakfast to dessert!





I LOVE THE HOLIDAYS! I long for a reason to celebrate anything, and with any given holiday, there’s typically the extra promise of more family time! And Halloween is no exception in our house! I decorated six weeks ago, and have been coming up with fun ideas to play up the holiday with THIS post, and THIS one too! Please go check them out πŸ™‚

But this post is all about the actual day, from start to finish! You have to feed your family/yourself anyways, right?! So why not make each meal have a Halloween component, or theme?! I’m giving you some ideas, and I promise you they are SIMPLE, CHEAP, and EASY (otherwise know as my “happiness trifecta”) πŸ˜‰

Let’s start with breakfast…

We don’t always start our days with sugary donuts, but it’s Halloween, so we’re going all out! Take a chocolate Entenmanns pop-em (or chocolate donut hole), and place it in the center of a cake donut (glazed would work fine too). Then take a piping bag filled with black buttercream, and pipe four legs on each side coming out of the spider “body.” DONE!
#protip: you may need to make the hole of the cake donut bigger, so carve out a bit with a knife to create more room!

Moving on to lunch:

I’ve already showed yall how to make these cute Halloween-themed Babybel treats over HERE, but look how great they fit in the girls’ lunch cubes (link will be at the bottom of post for these)!
#protip: use these silicone cupcake liners to separate the food!

On to after school snack:

Knowing that they’re going to eat more sweets than usual tonight, I’m going to give the minis fruit for their after school snack! Pineapple, mandarin oranges and whipped cream make the cutest candy corn fruit parfaits! You could even put a few candy corns on top if you want!
#protip: use a martini glass to get that perfect triangular shape (I used a low-ball because there’s a less likely chance it gets knocked over than one with a stem)

What’s for dinner:

I’m not reinventing the wheel here, as you’ve probably all seen this one, but it’s a crowd favorite so I keep making them! Hot dog mummies are not only cute, but with three ingredients, I’m sold! Take crescent rolls and cut the dough into thin strips. Wrap them around hot dogs in any design you want, leaving room for the mustard eyes! Bake according to package instructions!
#protip: you can cut into the hot dog to make legs and arms if you’d like, but I love them either way!

Room for dessert?!

Maybe you’re hosting a Halloween party? Or have a Halloween birthday? “Make” this cake! Make is in parentheses because I bought this one from the grocery store (ask for double layer, smooth base iced, no border…it’s only $10), and decorated it myself with Oreos, M&Ms and Wilton eyeballs! Use buttercream to attach the Oreos on to the cake, and the candy on to the oreos. The grocery’s bakery will sell you spare buttercream yall!
#protip: TWIST your oreos VERY slowly in order to keep as much cream on the one cookie as possible

If cupcakes are easier, use the same technique as the cake!

And for every special occasion, we buy the Welch’s sparkling juice, and our minis absolutely love it (probably because they don’t have juice on typical days)! I found these plastic goblets at the grocery store, and they make the perfect vessel to hold the vampire blood, I mean red grape juice πŸ˜‰

If you decide to do all, some, or even just one of these ideas, please make sure to tag me at #MirandainCLT so I can see your creations! Don’t forget to check out my gluten free Halloween bark treat HERE!

Check out my segment from NBC’s Charlotte Today!

Some of the things I used in this post:

Have so much fun, be safe, and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!




How to make gluten free Halloween Bark!





My daughter, Bella, recently went gluten free. Without getting too much into her personal body stuff, her stomach has been hurting for a long time. And with her aunt and nanna both having gluten sensitivities, I decided to eliminate it from her diet and see if there was an improvement. I knew it would probably be the first thing her pediatrician suggested too, so I figured I’d do this experiment before I paid a copay πŸ˜‰

My beautiful Bella!

Sure enough, she is feeling MUCH BETTER! She hardly ever says her stomach hurts anymore, and sure, it could be the placebo effect, but I’m thinking this really may be helping her for reals! But since she’s been gluten free for about 3-4 weeks now, she’s had to give up a lot of her favorite treats. And with Halloween coming up, I wanted to make her something special…to show her she can still indulge, and yet stay on track!

ENTER GLUTEN FREE BARK!!!

I’m a fan of making bark year round, for any occasion, because it is SO FREAKING EASY, but also because if gives me a chance to use up a bunch of random stuff I might have laying around in my pantry! For this bark, I honestly had put a bunch of gluten-free candy in my grocery cart, but then I started thinking about everything I already had on hand at home (that I’ve been putting in her lunches), and threw this together with only having to buy the chocolate at the store!

Start with melting the chocolate; I used this kind…

Remember our chocolate-dipped strawberries from Easter? I told yall to always save your colored chocolate, right?! That’s because you can reheat it again and again! So I grabbed my orange and got it all melted (add vegetable oil if it’s thicker than you’d like), and get ready to swirl!

Next, have all of your toppings ready to go! I used (always double check your packaging for gluten-free goods):

  • Gluten free pretzels sticks (love the ones from Aldi)
  • Mini marshmallows
  • M&Ms (orange)
  • Trail mix (peanuts, cashews, raisens, etc.)
  • Popcorn

Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper, pour the melted chocolate onto it, and spread it out in a nice even layer (edges do not need to be straight at all). Grab your orange chocolate and just drop it on the milk chocolate…no need to be perfect here either because you’re going to swirl it anyways! Take a toothpick, tip of a knife, skewer, butter knife, whatever, and start making figure eights all over the chocolate until it looks pretty!

Working quickly (while it’s still melted), drop the toppings all over the chocolate mixture! Once they’re all on there, press the pieces that are sticking up and not touching any chocolate, to make sure they’ll harden in it and stay put. Pop the cookie sheet in the fridge and let harden completely.

Once cooled, take it out, break it up (with your hands), and display/wrap them up however you’d like! I used clear spiderweb bags so the cute bark can still be seen through them, but use whatever you find that’s cute!

 

This treat is so perfect because it can be adapted to ANYTHING…any occasion, holiday, color scheme, etc. The possibilities truly are endless! These make a great hostess gift, especially with holiday season coming up. Because they can stay fresh in your fridge, you can always have some on hand, although you don’t have to refrigerate them by any means! You know what I would do if I were you? I’d take some of my kids’ Halloween candy and save it to make Christmas bark πŸ™‚

And guess who loved her gluten free surprise after school today?!

Poor girl busted her lip!

DON’T FORGET TO PIN IT!!

Check out my other Halloween post about how to use Babybel cheese as the perfect Halloween snack, and it’s also gluten free (plus I need your vote on something over there)!

What are you going to put on your bark?!




Cake isn’t my favorite dessert!

ARE YOU SHOCKED?!

Well, you shouldn’t be if you follow me on social media πŸ˜‰ Because I’ve admitted this a number of times! Don’t get me wrong…I like cake, but I don’t looooooovvvve cake. What I do love is sugar in general. I’m addicted to sugar (well I was until 6 weeks ago…more on that later). And since I owned a cakery for ten years, people assume that I must love cake the most! A fair assumption for sure, but nonetheless incorrect. I’m a pie, cobbler, crumble, cookie, ice cream, froyo, macaroon (NOT macaron), cheesecake, brownie kind-of-girl.




Which got me to thinking…can I make a tiered cake out of my favorite desserts?! And thus give people a different option to the traditional tiered cakes?!

Which led me to this precise idea…

A BROWNIE A LA MODE CAKE!!!

And I’m not gonna lie…I think it’s kind of brilliant πŸ˜‰ We have a restaurant we eat at often that has the best brownie a la mode (besides my dad’s), and it’s HEAVEN. So I recreated it in a tiered cake form, minus the chocolate and caramel drizzle (simply because I ran out of time), not because I didn’t want to do it πŸ˜‰

Watch the video! And even if you aren’t interested in a brownie cake per se, you’ll see other tips, tricks, and techniques used to stack/make a tiered cake in general! From how to use cardboard rounds and straws to support a tier to which piping tip is my favorite to how to make the perfect whipped cream!

And speaking of whipped cream…since it is used at the “icing” in this “cake,” make sure it’s not out of the fridge for longer than 4 hours at a time!

This would also make a great alternative to the “naked cake” trend right now, since brownie edges are supposed to be crunchy anyways #amiright?!

Without further ado, here’s the video!!!

Here’s the video I referenced on how to level a cake, or brownie πŸ™‚

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions, comments or concerns! And here are some of the products I used in the videos!

 

 

 

 

5 ways to use CHEERIOS throughout the day!

The back-to-school grind is VERY REAL #amiright?! So I’m always looking for ways to simplify…whether that’s what to fix for breakfast, a quick and yummy treat for lunches, or something educational to keep the kids busy while I get a meal cooked! I’m not only a mom of two, but I’m also a nanny to two! My days are crazy busy tending to kids’ needs, and Cheerios has found a way to help me out! PRAISE HANDS!!!

I’m going to show you how I used different kinds of Cheerios throughout one of my recent manic weekdays! The little ones you see are the boys I nanny, Cal and Row, just in case you’re confused as to where the minis are…trust me, they’re reaping the benefits of the cereal bars πŸ˜‰

Let’s start with a bowl of cereal, shall we?!

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios…but here’s the deal…it MUST have bananas in it! The combination is incredible; don’t knock it til ya try it! Come to think of it, a banana honey nut Cheerios flavor would be amazing {runs and emails Cheerios marketing now} πŸ™‚ I also love that these are made with real honey (my Uncle John is a beekeeper and makes honey…yay bees), and are naturally gluten free.

Next up, I headed out and about with the boys!

Cal wanted to take the whole box πŸ™‚

I brought along a snack cup filled with Very Berry Cheerios! Cal and Row’s mom is extremely careful about what she puts in her boys’ bodies, and I try to follow her same guidelines when I’m with them!Β With no colors from artificial sources, no artificial flavors, and no high fructose corn syrup, I got the thumbs up πŸ™‚

Time to stall, err, I mean LEARN!!!

Okay moms (or nannies), let’s be real…sometimes you need to just get stuff DONE! Whether it’s cook dinner, fold a load of laundry, type up some blog posts, send some emails, etc. So I came up with a little game for Cal, who just turned 3, that not only was fun for him, but also educational! We used the Fruity Cheerios, which have four different flavors and thus four different colors! I put one of each color in a bowl to start him off, and then told him to continue to put the colors that go together, in their respective bowls. It kept him occupied, and full, as he sampled about as many as he sorted! πŸ˜‰ And I even made a little video with Cal and Row, and it is PRECIOUS.

 

Make a special treat for my minis to celebrate going back to school!

My minis started to school this week, but the boys still have another week at home, and they LOVE to help me in the kitchen (and they love my daughters)! So I asked if they wanted to make them a special treat using the Chocolate Cheerios…I had Cal at “chocolate” because he knew he was going to get a few of them too πŸ˜‰ We simply melted the marshmallows and butter and poured the mixture over the cereal and pressed it into a pan! The minis were excited to have a treat greet them in the carpool line, and even got them as a surprise in their lunches the next day (or two) πŸ˜‰ These make a nice gluten-free dessert, or an easy gift to give someone who is g-free!

A guilt-free treat, for ME!

This summer has been crazy, and I’ve vowed to take better care of myself now that the minis are in school full-day again! This includes eating better, of course, but I still craaaaaave chocolate! So I put some greek vanilla yogurt in a bowl, sprinkled on a few chocolate Cheerios for crunch, and fresh tart raspberries on top. The perfect end to a busy day…now to do it all again tomorrow! πŸ™‚

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Cake Decorating with a SPOON?!




RED, WHITE AND SPOON?!

Why do I keep saying “spoon” over and over again?! Because I am desperately trying to show yall cake decorating techniques that are simple, and use things that you already have in your home! Enter the good ‘ole plastic spoon πŸ™‚ Yes, this entire cake was decorated using a plastic spoon! Don’t believe me?! Follow along…

This technique isn’t new, and as a matter of fact, here’s a wedding cake I made (back in the day) with this technique!

MEMORIES!

This one, although bigger, went very quickly because it was all one color, and I could pipe in a whole row, and then use the spoon technique! You’ll understand what I mean in a sec!

Back to the red, white and blue cake though! To start, you’ll need buttercream…white, red and blue. Now, keep in mind it takes A LOT of food dye to make a true RED buttercream, so get the gel red color, not the stuff you use to dye Easter eggs. And the red will darken as it sits, so make it a day or two in advance if you want! I used royal blue to get the blue color on the cake, and you don’t need nearly as much dye as you did to make the red, but still use gel for best results!

You can find my buttercream recipe in THIS post…just scroll til you find it! If you don’t want to make buttercream, ask your local grocery store if you can buy a couple of pounds from them (and then tint)?! You may even find pre-tinted buttercream near the cookie cakes in your store! However, if you do want to make your own, I will link the products I used at the bottom of this post!

The piping tips I used are Wilton 1A, and you can buy them for less than $2 each at your local craft store! However, they can be hard to find/out of stock, and thus I’m including the Amazon link at the end of post!

Here’s a quick video to show you how to fill a piping bag!

Once you have your piping bags ready to go, all you need is your three plastic spoons, and your cake! I’d also have three wet paper towels ready to go near your cake, so you can wipe off the backs of the spoons often! You will need to wipe off the spoons each and every time to keep the icing pretty!

Pro tip:Having separate paper towels will keep the colors from bleeding!

Are you ready to see how it’s done?! I used a styrofoam dummy in this video because I had ZERO time to make a cake! If you want to buy one to practice techniques on, do it (link at bottom)!

Check out the video:

If you are making your own cake…fill and stack it, crumb coat it, and put it in the fridge to harden the crumb coat layer (to see how to fill and stack, click HERE and scroll down). Pull it out whenever you’re ready to decorate it, and follow the video tutorial! If you want to buy a stacked and fully-iced cake, then do that! Just call your favorite grocery store/bakery and ask for a double (or triple) layer, smooth buttercream cake, with no borders on the bottom or the top of the cake. Chill it, and then follow the video’s instructions when you’re ready to decorate!

So there ya go! Every bit of decoration is done with a plastic spoon! Feel free add anything else on top of the cake that you want…but might I suggest to NOT do sparklers?! πŸ™‚

HAPPY 4TH OF JULY EVERYONE!

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Links for products used:

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