Homemade Healthy Fruit Snacks


My kids love snacks. An hour after they eat a full meal, they will ask for a snack, and I don't mind, as long as it is a healthy snack. I don't even know why I cook for them... they can just eat snacks all day long. 

Even though I am not a "crunchy mama", I still try to make the right decisions for my kids, and tend to stick to the "healthier" versions of things. BUT,  I have to admit that sometimes "TASTE" wins over "good for you" things. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I bake atleast twice a week. We have muffins, cookies, cakes almost every week. When my mom was visiting, she told me that she no longer uses white flour, and avoids sugar, and I should try it to. How do I bake a cake without white flour and sugar?! Nope, sorry, won't do it. I have a major sweet tooth. But as I say, everything in moderation :)


So when Nadia from My Fruit Shack contacted me about trying out their fruit snack molds, I jumped at the opportunity. The idea of making a healthy version of my kids favorite snack appealed to me.

Since receiving the kit, we have already made fruit snacks on two different occasions, and my daughter is already thinking of different flavors she wants to try out next. 

The kit comes with 4 different molds, 4 trays, 2 droppers and a recipe card.  



There are two different ways to make fruit snacks, you can use juice or jello mix. I wanted to make a more healthier version, so I decided to use Naked juice. 



You also need gelatin. I bought my beef gelatin here
You can sweeten your fruit snacks with honey or sugar. 


Summer is fleeting by...



Summer is my most anticipated season of the year. Everything revolves around summer. We count down the days until school ends, we count down the days until 4th of July, until we have friends over for barbecues, play dates, swimming, trips to the beach.  We assume that we will have more time in the summer. Because we are on "summer break". But the harsh truth is we don't. We still have 24 hours in a day just like we do in October or January. The same amount of days in a month and the time flies by just as fast.

Its hard to believe that summer is almost over. School is starting next week and I am not ready. I am not ready to say goodbye to summer, I am not ready for the busy mornings and to be away from my two older kids for 6 hours during the day.

We have been trying to cram in as much summer activities as we can. Last night we camped in our back yard, roasted marshmallows over a campfire and stayed up way to late. This morning after a big breakfast of pancakes piled high with fresh berries, we decided to go on a bike ride. We tried out a new trial, and it was breath taking. It is all paved, which is great for the kidos. There are little brooks and streams running besides it, which made great resting points. The kids learned to skip rocks, and cooled off in the shade of the trees.














Now I am going to try and not think about school starting next week, I am planning to enjoy this last week on Summer break.

Thanks for visiting, 



Hawaii Getaway..





I am turning the big THREE OH this month and to celebrate, hubby and I decided to take a extended weekend getaway to Maui.  Without the kids. Now understand this, I have NEVER  even left them overnight before, let alone for a few days, so this was BIG. I felt all kinds of emotions, I felt excited, I felt guilty, I felt worried, I felt anxious.... Basically I was a basket case the entire week leading up to our trip. 

We left the kids with my sister (so off course I knew that they were in good hands). The kids were thrilled, they love having sleepovers with their cousins. They were even counting  down the days until they could go to their cousins house.

I will admit that it was very difficult to leave my babies for 4 nights. They were constantly on my mind, I face timed them, kept calling and texting my sister to check up on them and talked about them to anyone who would listen. I would open my photos on my phone and look at the pictures of them, you would think that I was away for a month.  On the 4th day, I was already counting the hours until I could see them and even told my husband that I am never leaving them again.

This trip was ALOT different then any of our other trips we have taken. 

1. For starters, we had 1 suitcase. One! it fit both of my husbands, and my things, a camera, laptop, and had room to take gifts home in. After always having to pack so much with the kids, I kept thinking that this cant be it. I must have forgotten something. But we didn't, in fact, I packed to much as always and didn't even wear everything I packed. 

2. I got to read on the plane. We live on the west coast, so although we have a short 5 hour direct flight to Hawaii, its still 5 hours of sitting in one seat. So having to be able to nap and read on the plane was amazing. If you have ever flown with little kids, you know how hard it is. The entire time, you are trying to keep the kidos comfortable and happy, pulling out little toys, snacks, ipads, anything. I even let William play with my makeup and brushes on our last trip just to buy another 10 minutes of him sitting still. Oh, and changing diapers in the tiny little bathroom? Come on! who's baby actually fits on that changing table? 

2. We rented a convertible mustang, which was a huge change from the usual bulky SUV we rent. This thing was tiny, and I fulfilled my dream of driving in a convertible in Hawaii. Oh, we didn't have to haul car seats with us! Thats a first. As we were waiting for the Avis bus to pick us up from the airport, there was a couple in front of us. They had two kids an airport cart full of suitcases, carseats and a stroller. It reminded me of every other vacation we have ever been on. I kept looking at our one suitcase and kept thinking, this is probably just a dream, I cant believe this is real. 



3. You know the “lounge” chairs by the pool? Well, we actually got to “lounge” on them. On a few occasions, we even fell asleep on them. It really  felt like we were on vacation. 
If you have any kids, then you know that going to the pool or the beach is a hectic and a exhausting event. By the time I get everyone in their swim suits, slather sunblock on them, get all the gear packed I am already tired. And when we finally make it to the pool, there aren’t any “lounge” chairs left, and if we do happen to find one near the kiddie pool, I end up dumping all the gear on it and spend the rest of the time watching the kids like a hawk. 

County Fair 2016



The county fair is one of our most anticipated summer activities. The kids start counting down the days until it gets here, talking about all the rides they are going to go on this year, and all the prizes they are going to win. I love how we have started this yearly tradition with them.
I just went back and looked at my last two posts to the fair in 2015 and 2014
Oh how fast time does fly. We can't stop it or slow it down, we can only live in the moment and enjoy every minute we have with our loved ones. 





This year was particularly fun. I don't know why, but I assume it is because the kids are a bit older and they actually wanted to go on alot of the rides. Well everyone but William. William gets a little nervous around loud noises: lawn mowers, leaf blowers, hair dryers, and in todays case: ALL ROLLER COASTER RIDES. Today is the only time he would ASK to go into his stroller, where he would sit back and pull the sun canopy all the way down. Guys, this was to funny to watch. I would try to pull it up so he could wave to his brother and sister as they went by on the roller coaster, and he wouldn't have any of it. Off course once we walked away from the rollers coasters, he would shimmy out of his 5 point harness, stand up and ask to be lifted out of the stroller so he could run off and explore all the colorful attractions around him, but he didn't want to go on ANY of the rides, and even fell asleep with all the noise around him (2nd nap of the day!) 

It also helped that we went on a less crowded day, the lines were actually short compared to last year when we went on the day of the Monster truck show. 

Mom's Refrigerator Pickles




My mom makes amazing Russian food, most of my "Russian" recipes come from her. She was and still is a supermom. She managed to work, run a household, cook  dinner every day, and raise 7 kids.   
Every summer she would can her own pickles and tomatoes. I actually dreaded those days as a child. It meant all hands on deck. Jars needed to be washed, garlic needed to be peeled, bags of pickles needed to be scrubbed, dill needed to be chopped. But now as a mom I look back  I realize those were amazing bonding moments, and I really miss those days. I miss sitting around the dining table with my sisters talking and helping out. Especially since they all live across the country from me. 

I love the idea of canning, but this is not something I want to do. However, making refrigerator pickles in ridiculously easy.  In Russian they are called: Mалосольные Oгурцы. (Low Sodium Dill Pickles) I grew up eating these pickles my whole childhood. My mom would make them often during the summer for the weekend. 

They last about a week in your fridge, but we always eat ours within 2 or 3 days. 


Print recipe HERE


Ingredients:

Pickling cucumbers (I use about 3 pounds)
8 cloves of garlic (roughly chopped)
3 bay leaves
1 cup of chopped dill
10 black peppercorns
2 TB of pickling salt to 4 cups of water

Directions:

Wash and cut both ends of the cucumbers. 

Place chopped dill, garlic, bay leaves, pepper corns in a large jar or bowl with a lid, then put in your cucumbers. 

In a medium size bowl or a 4 cup measuring cup, add 4 cups of cold water and 2 TB of picking salt. Mix until completely dissolved.

Pour over the cucumbers. Repeat until all of your cucumbers are completely covered with water. I had to repeat 2 times. 

Place into the fridge for 24 hours, and then enjoy. These are amazing and can get addictive. I love to slice some up to snack on during the hot summer days. 







Thanks for visiting, 


Peach Cream Cheese Coffee Cake


It is peach season here in the NW and we are taking full advantage of that. Not only have we been picking peaches, but I have been buying them by the box full.  We all love eating peaches, but I also love baking with peaches. I usually bake my peach pie and this yummy cobbler,  but today I decided to go with something a little more simple. A peach coffee cake. Let me tell you, it is so good! With the creamy cheesecake filling, succulent peaches and crumbly streusel topping. You won't be disappointed. 


Ingredients
    Streusel topping:
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cold and cubed
  • Cream cheese filling: 
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • Cake: 
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 stick butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 peaches, sliced into wedges

Instructions


            Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Grease a springform pan


          To make streusel topping: 
          Combine the sugar, flour, and butter (chilled and cubed) in a food processor and pulse until 
          crumbly. 
          Set in the refrigerator until ready to use. 

    To make cream cheese filling: 

    In a the bowl of your stand mixer, beat softened cream cheese and granulated sugar until smooth, for about 30 seconds. Add vanilla extract and an egg, and beat for about a minute more until combined and very smooth. Set aside. 

    Make cake:
  1. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, together into a medium bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat butter, sugar, and 2 eggs until very light in color and fluffy, 2-3 minutes on high speed. Add vanilla and Greek yogurt and continue beating until very creamy and light in color, for about 1 more minute.
  3. Keeping the mixer speed low, mix in the flour mix until combined. Do not overmix.
  4. Transfer the cake batter to the springform pan. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly on top. Top with sliced peaches. Sprinkle the streusel mixture over the fruit. 
  5. Bake until the cake turns golden, and a toothpick comes out clean in the center, about 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your oven. 
  6.  After cake has cooled, release the cake from the springform pan. 


What is your favorite thing to bake with peaches?