Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cereal Clusters: A tale of two treats

I have been on a no bake kick this holiday season. Lots of peanut butter cups, dipped cookies and pretzels have been shared with family and friends. I did make one batch of real cookies, our secret family oatmeal roll-out cookies, but that's about it. On my no bake mission I made two treats from my childhood that I always loved, cereal clusters. My family made two different types: a chocolate version with Cheerios, marshmallows and peanuts, and a peanut butter version with white chocolate, rice crispies, marshmallows and peanuts. Very popular in the 70s or so I am told because I wasn't alive then. Anyways I made both types for my boys because I was feeling a little nostalgic. I mixed up the peanut butter kind first and found them disappearing from the wax paper before they were even fully set. Next came the chocolate batch and as you can see from the picture below they weren't as popular.

While putting together treats for my family I told my mom about the cereal clusters. She said not to bother packing up any of the chocolate kind. After 31 years of marriage my dad informed her that he didn't like that kind. I imagine the conversation went something like this: "Emilie made cereal treats, do you want some?" "Yeah, but just the peanut butter kind, I don't like the chocolate kind." "But Kevin, you eat them." "Yeah, but I don't really like them." At least my boys didn't wait 31 years to tell me they didn't care for the chocolate kind. :) So you can make both kind for your family and decide which you like better. I hope it doesn't take your family decades to tell you they don't care for a treat you make. :)

Cereal Clusters Recipe

Chocolate Version

10 oz dark chocolate
1 cup peanuts
8 oz marshmallows
2 cups cheerios

Set aside about an oz of dark chocolate. Melt dark chocolate in microwave safe container for 30 seconds at a time. Stirring as the chocolate melts. When the chocolate is smooth and melted, temper it by adding the oz you set aside. When that melts it is ready to add the other ingredients. Add the dry ingredients and mix until coated.

Scoop into 1.5 inch clusters onto wax paper and set them in a cool area to set. We usually put them in the garage on top of the car. Out of the way of animals, and the cold winter air helps them set quicker.

Peanut Butter Version

10 oz white chocolate
1/2 cup peanuts
1/2 cup chunky (or smooth) peanut butter. I use chunky so I can use less whole peanuts.
8 oz marshmallows
3 cups rice crispies

Melt the white chocolate in microwave safe container for 30 seconds at a time. Stirring as the chocolate melts. When the chocolate is smooth and melted, add the peanut butter and stir that in to temper the chocolate. Sometimes I have to zap it in the microwave for 15 seconds if the peanut butter doesn't fully melt. Add the dry ingredients and mix until well coated.

Repeat scooping and setting process from the version above. :)

Here are some pictures from my latest batch of peanut butter cereal clusters.

Mixing in the PB to the white chocolate... Isn't it pretty? YUMMY!

Adding in the dry ingredients.

Finished product.



Saturday, December 22, 2012

Take 5 Brittle

One of my favorite candy bars is a "Take 5", a delicious combo of pretzels, caramel, peanut butter and peanuts covered in chocolate! It is the perfect salty sweet combo! While experimenting with making my own, this was the result... I knew something about making caramel, but instead of the ooey gooey goodness of the Take 5's caramel, it came out more like a brittle. Still delicious! Enjoy!


1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter
approx 3 cups of pretzels
12 TBS of crunchy peanut butter (I eyeball it)
1/2 cup peanuts
15 oz dark chocolate chips (1.5 bags of Nestle brand)
Kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Over medium/high heat, melt butter and brown sugar in a non stick pan, whisking until the butter is melted.

Once the butter has melted, stop whisking and let it come to a bubble. This happens quickly. Reduce the temperature to medium and set your timer for 5 minutes. Let the mixture bubble WITHOUT WHISKING for the entire time. While it's bubbling away, set up your pretzels on a foil lined rimmed cookie sheet (10X16).

Caramel starting to bubble.

Caramel near the end of 5 minutes.

When the timer beeps, remove the caramel from heat and slowly whisk. Then pour it as evenly as you can over the pretzels. You can carefully spread the caramel if needed, but the next step really spreads it all on its own.

Bake the pretzels for 5 minutes.

Remove from oven and turn it off. Glob the peanut butter evenly across the surface of the hot caramel pretzels. Let it sit for about 2-3 minutes and it will start to melt from the carryover heat. Once it starts to melt, spread it over the entire surface of the pretzel/caramel mixture.

Sprinkle peanuts on top.

Sprinkle Chocolate Chips on top and then put the pan back in the oven for no more than 2 minutes. I have found the peanut butter isn't quite hot enough to melt the chocolate chips so that's why I throw it back in the (cooling) oven.

Spread the melted chocolate chips over the top. They will come out shiny and still look whole, but as you spread them they will mix in and melt. The peanut butter will mix slightly with the chocolate, but as you spread the chocolate will start to cover the peanut butter.

Sprinkle with Kosher Salt and cool on cooling rack for at least a half an hour. Once cool to the touch, place it in your freezer for at least two hours. Once frozen, remove from the pan by lifting out the aluminum foil. Cut into 1.5 inch squares and store in the fridge in an airtight container.

Happy Holidays!


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Market bags with pockets

There are some really cute patterns out there for market bags. I wanted to make mine mimic the size and shape of a grocery bag, plus handles. At first I followed this tutorial.

I did have a few problems following the pattern as I am still fairly new to the world of sewing, but after completing my first one, I was hungry for more. I found that 2 yards of heavy duty fabric, I bought mine in the home furnishing section at Joann's Fabric, would yield 4 bags as long as I didn't make the straps from the same fabric. Denim, duck, and outdoor canvas also work well.

Here's what you need for 4 basic bags (no lining):
2 yards of fabric
4 yards of webbing (I purchased mine at an Army surplus store for 24 cents a foot)
coordinating thread

For each bag cut:

2 lengths of webbing 18 inches each.
One piece- 37x14 (for the front, back and bottom)
Two pieces- 15x7.5 (sides)

I had leftover fabric, perfect for pockets.

I had 2 pieces that were 15x7.5, that'll make 2 pockets. If you want pockets on all 4 bags, purchase 2 1/4 yards of fabric, or buy 1/4 yard of a coordinating pattern.

Fold the pocket material in half, right sides (pretty side) out.

I ran a 1/4 inch stitch on the folded side, just looks better to me.

Next line up the raw edges of the pocket, with the bottom edge of one of the sides, right sides together.

Sew a 1/4 inch seam down the sides and across the bottom. Go ahead and do this for the other side.

Attach the sides to the main long portion.

Right sides together, make sure your pocket is on the bottom, pin in place.

You'll need to turn the material around the corner. This is a photo of the pinning right before I turned it.

After the turn, there will be a little gap of fabric here, that's ok. We'll gather that in when we sew this down.

Pin all the way around. I pinned the other side too.

Using a 5/8 seam, sew down one side right up to about 1/2" from the corner.

Lift you needle up and turn to sew across the bottom.

Turn again at the next corner.

Go ahead and do the same on the other side.

Turn your bag right side out to check your work.

Now turn the bag back so the ride side is back in and finish your seams with either a zig zag stitch or as I did, with a pinking shears.

Hem the top of the bag, I do this by turning the edge in about 1/4 inch, sew that down.

Turn again, this time 1/2 inch. Sew that down.

Add the straps.

I measured in 3 1/2 inches from each side and sewed the X pattern.

Turn it out and admire your work.

Monday, November 26, 2012

What would Nancy do?: Are you ready for some football

What would Nancy do?: Are you ready for some football: It's football season, and around here that means one thing. PACKERS! I made this pattern a few years ago and thought I would share it wit...

What would Nancy do?: Christmas Traditions

What would Nancy do?: Christmas Traditions: I'm sure you all have Christmas traditions, if you're anything like me, these change as we our lives change. When I was a little girl, ...

Christmas Traditions

I'm sure you all have Christmas traditions, if you're anything like me, these change as we our lives change.

When I was a little girl, my sisters and brother and I couldn't wait to see the Christmas window displays at the H.C. Prange store in Appleton. Families would line the streets to walk past the windows and marvel at the animated figurines. You can click HERE below to take a peak into the past.

If you're up for a trip, you can see some of the displays at the Neville Museum in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Another favorite memory is driving around town and looking at lights. I did this with my family growing up and then with my children. Back in the 80s and 90s, in Milwaukee, there were 3 main neighborhoods to go to. Candy Cane Lane, Christmas Card Lane and Orchard Hills. Cars would wind through these neighborhoods night after night. One of these 3 remains: Candy Cane Lane

Besides being an excellent destination for Christmas light viewing, Candy Cane Lane also supports Midwest Athletes against Childhood Cancer (MACC). Click here for a listing of appearances of local celebrities.

We have other Christmas traditions, going to midnight services at our church, family gatherings and of course cookies. I'll be back later to share some favorite cookie recipes with you.

What are your family Christmas traditions?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe

Before I move on to the bulk of this post... I had to mention the most beautiful talisman roses I saw at the grocery store today. They were grandma's favorite. I said hello to her as I passed them by.

Anyways the post is dedicated to my Aunt Martha because she is a better baker and is certainly craftier than She-who-must-not-be-named. And certainly wouldn't end up in jail for tax fraud.

The cheesecake recipe unfortunately comes from She-who-shall-not-be-named, but the recipe looked too good and too easy to pass up. I used the homemade pumpkin purée that I made and froze a few weeks ago. You can click here to find the site I used to make my own.

The cheesecake is currently in the oven... The hardest part is knowing it has to sit in there for 2 hours and 45 minutes before I can successfully celebrate it! And then cooling it prior to letting it set for four hours in the fridge before I can EAT IT! This just might have to be breakfast!

Pictures will be posted when it is complete!

I don't think this will last until Turkey Day, but that was kind of the point! Enjoy!

Keurig K-Cup 18-Pk. Green Mountain Pumpkin Spice Coffee (Google Affiliate Ad)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Are you ready for some football

It's football season, and around here that means one thing. PACKERS! I made this pattern a few years ago and thought I would share it with you here.

This is my original pattern, I see that there a quite a few variations on Ravelry now. I love that!

This is knit flat for the first few rows and then knit in the round, I use the magic loop
I used Cascade 220, but you can use any worsted weight yarn and get similar results.
You’ll need less than one hank of the main color and just a few yards of the contrasting
Size US 7 (4.50) circular needles.
Pattern instructions are for newborn, toddler and child changes are listed in parenthesis ()
Cast on 54 ( 60, 70) in brown if making hat A(see photo above) or in your alternate
color if constructing hat B (see photo below).
Rows 1-10 knit each row, as if on straight needles. This will give you a nice 1 inch brim
in garter stitch.
Row 11 join for working in the round. You’ll need to switch to your main color if
constructing hat B. If you choose to use dpns you’ll need to place a marker to indicate
the beginning of a row.
Continue knitting for another 2 inches (3 inches total)
Decrease pattern
SSK, K to end of needle (26 (29, 34)remain on first needle)
K2 tog, K to end of needle (26 (29, 34) remain on second needle)
Knit next Row
Continue with decrease every other row until you have 21 stitches on each needle (having
just completed a decrease row.
Join contrasting color
Knit one row
Decrease one row (20 stitches on each needle)
Knit one row
Return to main color
Knit 8, K2 tog, to end
Knit 7, K2 tog, to end
Knit 6, K2 tog, to end
Knit 5, K2 tog, to end
Knit 4, K2 tog, to end
Knit 3, K2 tog, to end
Knit 2, K2 tog, to end
Knit 1, K2 tog, to end
K2 tog to end (4 stitches remain)
Cut yarn and run through remaining stitches to tie off.
Weave in ends on wrong side of hat.
Using Contrasting Color, embroider the laces as shown in the photos.

You can check out this design on Ravelry and download a PDF file for free. Just type in Are you ready for some football in Ravelry's search engine.

Happy knitting!

Check out Emilie's spin off mittens available on as well!

Monday, November 12, 2012

These are a few of my favorite things

I love Knit Picks knitting needles, their Harmony Wood needles changed my life as my hands don't "buzz" when I use them. They are so smooth, the yarn glides along the needles and they are reasonably priced. The options Interchangeable set is my favorite. If you are just starting to knit, Clover bamboo knitting needles are a great option. I found mine at Jo-Ann Fabrics.

Yarn, I love me some yarn. When I started knitting (again) a few years back, I used Red Heart, but I longed for a softer acrylic. Enter, Vanna Choice Baby by Lion Brand, excellent for baby hats. Then I found Cascade Superwash 220 at my FYS in Appleton, Wisconsin and it was love at first cast on.

Not that I don't love to shop for other yarns, one of my favorite places to discover yarn is,,,

It's free to join the community and there are not only tons of patterns (knit and crochet) but there are tons of hints and message boards. I have to give myself a time limit when I go there :)

And of course latest obsession. Here's what I pinned last, take a simple sweater and bling it out for the holidays!

And one of our groups original designs as shown on Pinterest

What are some of your favorite things?

Clover 71195 Bamboo Circular Knitting Needle 29 in. -Size 11 (Google Affiliate Ad)