Mini Apple Pies

My husband is a food lover and usually likes something else other than basic cake for his birthday. So, when his birthday rolls around I always get to come up with something fun for him. This year his birthday fell on a day that he had to work and he wanted to bring apple pie to work. I made these little mini apple pies so we did not have to worry about cutting a huge pie and all the mess that goes with it. My husband liked these so much he asked me to make them again the next day! He said they were even better than regular apple pie, especially when they were super juicy. Yum, yum, yum!


What You Need:

  • Your favorite pie crust – store bought or made from scratch
    • the flour, salt, butter/shortening, water kind of recipe
  • Apple Mix
    • 6 chopped apples (peeling is optional)
    • 2 T lemon juice (adjust to taste, we love lemon)
    • 2/3 cup sugar
    • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon (to taste)
    • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (to taste, a little less if you do not like nutmeg)
    • 1/4 cup Craisins (optional – we chopped ours up)
  • Crumb Topping – Yummy!
    • 3/4 cups flour
    • 3/4 cups brown sugar
    • 5 T butter
  • Cupcake pan
  • Cupcake liners
  • Rolling pin or a solid cup/glass
  • Yogurt or sour cream lid
  • 2 med-large mixing bowls
  • 1 small mixing bowl
  • Pastry cutter/fork

* Bake at 375 Degrees


Step 1: Prepare your apple mix using recipe above in a medium sized bowl. Peel your apples if you do not like the skins baked. I do not mind them, my husband prefers them peeled! Add all the ingredients together and if you have time, let them sit in the fridge and soak. They will get quite juicy the longer it sits. I also suggest tasting to make sure it is the flavor you like. We like a lot of lemon and cinnamon, so start out light if you are unsure.

Step 2: Prepare crumb topping. Add sugar and flour together. Then cut in the butter with a fork or a pastry cutter. Make sure the butter is not melted, just soft like it has been sitting out of the fridge. Set aside. And just in case you do not know what cutting the butter is check out here. It is the same concept with a fork as with the pastry cutter.

Step 3: Prepare cupcake pan with liners prior to making the pie crust and preheat oven to 375 Degrees.

Step 4: Make (or buy) a basic pie crust. Nothing fancy just the kind with flour, water, butter/shortening and a bit of salt. Any should work.

Step 5: On a large, well floured surface roll out your dough really thin. I did it until I could see the counter through the dough. If you have difficulty rolling your dough out, save some muscle and put it in the microwave on defrost for 10 or so seconds at a time until it is slightly warm. It makes it a lot easier to roll out, but it will shrink on you this way so be quick! Make sure you flour the surface of the dough as well, so your “rolling pin” is not sticking to it.

Step 6: Use a lid the size from a sour cream or a large yogurt container to cut your pie crust into mini circles (see above picture). Place/press each circle once cut into the cupcake pan/liner immediately. The edges will overlap a little. If necessary, stretch it out a little as pressing.

Step 7: Once all the mini pies are made, Add apple mix to the mini pies. Fill it 2/3 – 3/4 full. Make sure you grab a spoonful or two of the juice and put it in. The first batch I made was quite a bit drier than the second without the additional juice.

Step 8: Sprinkle on crumb topping, covering all the apple mix.

Step 9: Place on top of another pan to catch drippings and bake in the oven until you can hear the juices sizzling/bubbling. Approximately 15-20 minutes. There should be a slight golden brown look to the top. But you know it is done because you can hear the juice, so if you hear the juice and it is not golden brown, go with your gut!

Step 10: Definitely share these, because they are addicting if you are a pie lover!


* Although I did not use any little helpers for this one, if you are not in a rush, it is a very easy recipe to let them help!


Come join Love the Pie with TidyMom sponsored by Cherokee USALe CreusetWiltonBags by Bloom,  Harvard Common Press and Pillsbury

How to Make Your Own Kettle Corn!

My family is a huge fan of Kettle Corn and at most community events we can usually find someone selling it for $2-$5 for a small bag. This yummy stuff is super easy to make and I refuse to pay for it any more! Eating my favorite popcorn and saving some money is a great reward for this lady! If you have not tried to make your own, you should give this a try!

What You Need:

  • Popcorn Kernels
  • Oil (any kind- I use olive oil)
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Large Bowl
  • Popcorn Popper (preferably one that can stir)
  • Large Spoon


There are 2 different variations. If you do not have a popcorn popper that mixes (see picture below) than the first variation is for you. It is still good, just not as good as variation 2! =)
Wabash Valley Farms 25008 Whirley-Pop Stovetop Popcorn PopperWest Bend 82386 Kettle Krazy Popcorn Popper and Nut Roaster
Here are a couple examples of poppers that stir. I have the one on the left. I know I have seen a couple others, but could not find pictures of the others.

**Variation 1**

Step 1: Pop the popcorn and place it into a large bowl.

Step 2: Sprinkle with salt and sugar to taste.

We made it this first way for quite sometime until I realized I had all the tools I needed to make it the way you find it at fairs and carnivals.

Here is the super yummy way…

**Variation 2**

This variation is a 2 to 1 ratio popcorn to sugar. I like to make smaller batches because it seems the sugar gets spread out more evenly. Have an oven mitt handy.

Step 1: Have sugar and popcorn kernels measured and a bowl set out ready before starting.

Step 2: Pour oil into pot and heat on medium high heat (4 Tablespoons-ish depending for 1/2 cup popcorn kernels.

Step 3: Add popcorn kernels. When the first kernel pops add the sugar. I usually add a little bit more sugar than called for. Quickly shake the pan to help spread the sugar around.

Step 4: The popcorn will stop popping for about 30 seconds. Once the popping begins again, quickly stir  the popcorn until you do not hear any popping for 3 seconds.

Step 5: Pour the popcorn into the large bowl and let it cool for a few minutes. There will be a glaze covering the popcorn and it will be really hot for a few minutes. I learned this the hard way!

Step 6: Once the popcorn is cool use the spoon (or your hands) to break it apart. Sprinkle salt to taste over the popcorn while mixing.

Step 7: Eat and Enjoy or bag it up and take it with you!

**Warning: This is a very fast and hot food  project. Once the sugar is added to the oil, it may splash out. Keep any helpers at a safe distance. Little helpers can help measure at the beginning and help with the salt at the end.

Homemade Granola Bars

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School is almost in session for everyone. If your kids are like mine, they love granola bars. I decided to give making my own a try. I could not find a recipe that I liked, so I made up my own from what I saw the other recipes were made of and what I had on hand. They turned out great! And the best thing is…they have a lot of healthy ingredients and since my kids helped me make them, they were much more willing to eat them, too. Give them a try and let me know what you think!
Granola Bars

What You Need:

  • 3/4 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1/8 – ish tsp Nutmeg (depending on how strong of a nutmeg flavor you want)
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup Honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 cups Rolled Oats – Measure and then blend
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 cup Wheat Germ
  • 3/4 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Applesauce
  • 1/4 cup Craisins
  • 3/4 cups chopped Nuts (I used 1/4 cup Pecans, 1/2 cup Nut Mix (Pumpkin, Sunflower, Pine Nut, Almond)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cups Milk Chocolate Chips (or White Chocolate Chips or a mix of both!)
  • 2 large bowls
  • Mixing spoon
  • 9×13 pan
  • Wax paper

Step 1: Mix dry ingredients together (oats, flour, salt, wheat germ, sugar, nuts, dried fruit). I mixed them all up and threw them into the blender/food processor to get a nice even blend. The less texture, the less questions I have about what is in it or phrases like “I don’t like it”!
Granola Bars
Step 2: Mix liquid and Spices together. I like to taste it here (before I add the egg) and add more cinnamon or nutmeg to see if it is what I like.
Granola Bars
Step 3: Mix liquid and dry ingredients together until evenly mixed. The mix should be sticky, not too dry, but not sticky enough that tons get stuck to your hand when you touch it.
Step 4: Toss in Chocolate Chips and quickly mix. The milk chocolate chips will melt if mixed up too much.
Granola Bars
Step 5: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray cooking spray into a 9×13 pan and then lay wax paper in the pan. The spray will hold the wax paper down and the wax paper will let you get the bars out easier once cooked.
Step 6: Press the mix into the pan. I found it was easier if I sprayed my hand with a little cooking spray. Then the mix did not get stuck to my hand and I could press it easier.
Granola Bars

Step 7: Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until edges are golden brown.

Step 8: Remove from oven and let the pan cool completely. Slice into mini granola bars store in a sealable plastic bag. Ours never last long enough to freeze, but plan on freezing if you are not going to eat them quickly.

Granola Bars

***Note: The nuts make a huge taste difference. I thought these tasted amazingly better with pecans than when I made them with walnuts…but that is just me!


Homemade Ice Cream in a Bag

My friend, Laurie, sent me this recipe for Ice Cream in a Bag. I would not have believed it would turn out like ice cream if I had not known someone who it worked for. It is just too simple and I am used to seeing recipes with some sort of  “cream” in them. But it does work and it actually tastes pretty good! It was the perfect activity for a morning of 6 busy little bodies to entertain!

What You Need:

  • Sandwich-size zipper bag
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 T sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • Quart or Gallon-sized zipper bag – the quart is smaller, but it worked just fine
  • Ice (fill larger bag halfway or more)
  • 6 T rock salt or ice cream salt – found in the baking isle at my store
  • Oreos and/or chopped fruit
  • a small cup

*makes a single serving



Step 1: Place oreos in bag and let the kids pound on them to break them up….or chop up fruit if you are going healthy! =)

Make homemade ice cream with kids


Step 2: Place zipper baggie in a cup with edges wrapped around the mouth of the cup. Combine milk, sugar, and vanilla in the bag. Seal tightly. I recommend taping it shut with packing tape to make sure it does not leak.


Homemade Ice Cream children can make

This seemed to be the easiest way to let them do it on their own


Step 3: Add rock salt and ice to larger zipper bag. Place the small sealed bag inside the large bag and seal. Make sure you use lots of rock salt even with the smaller bag.

easy homemade icecream


Step 4: Shake and squish for 5 minutes. For us, it ended up being more like 10-15 and maybe that was because we had the quart sized bag instead of the gallon. The next time I make this I am pulling out the oven mitts and snow gloves because it was too cold for my kids to squish past a few minutes. The more you shake it the smoother and more ice cream like it turns out…or you can be like my two kiddos and shove it in the freezer instead of squishing. It still turned out, it was just a little icier of a texture!


Step 5: Give the ice cream bag a quick rinse before you open to avoid getting salt in the ice cream once opened. Open bags carefully.

how to make homemade ice cream in a bag


Step 6: Now you have yourself a nice yummy bag of homemade ice cream! Add mix-ins and enjoy!

How to make easy homemade ice cream


Thanks Laurie for sharing this!


Root Beer Float and Real Fruit Pudding Pop Recipes

We have been having lots of fun making our own popsicles this summer. Here are a couple of our favorite recipes.


Root Beer Float Pudding Pops

What You Need:

  • 1 box Vanilla pudding – 4 serving or 6- it just depends on how strong of a vanilla flavor you want it.
  • 1 cup vanilla ice cream – Bryers now carries Lactose free, if you need it, and it is really good
  • 1 cup milk – lactose milk also works
  • 1 cup water (may want a little more if you use the 6 serving box)
  • 2 -3 tsp root beer extract – depending on how strong of a root beer flavor you want
  • Popsicle mold or cups – size is your choice!
*makes about 8 popsicles



Step 1: Combine all ingredients together.


Step 2: Mix everything together. In a blender is quick, but messy to get out once mixed and in a bowl uses extra energy!


Step 3: Put in cups or popsicle mold Freeze for 1.5 hours and then place sticks in, if you do not of the sticks that come with the mold. Will be solid after 4 hours and even better overnight.


Step 4: To remove from cup/mold, run cup under warm water for at least 15 seconds to help remove the popsicle. It usually took me longer than 15 seconds. A good squeeze or 2 to the sides helps and I knew I was close once I could see a few tiny air bubbles. Do not do it too long or it will melt the popsicle! =)

Step 5: Eat and Enjoy or remove and package them separately in plastic baggies with a tie to enjoy later. I am going to make a ton and stock up. We cannot keep these around long enough!

Here is another fun recipe:

Fruit Pudding Pops

What You Need:

  • 1 package pudding
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup vanilla ice cream
  • Chopped up fruit




Step 1: Mix milk and pudding together. Add chopped fruit. The strawberries were so yummy….possibly better than the root beer pudding pops! We had some pudding/ice cream/milk mix set aside from making the Root Beer Pops. That is why we have the small containers.

Step 2: Put pudding mix in popsicle molds and place in freezer. After 1.5 hours insert popsicle sticks (if needed) and wait for 4 hours to eat. Yum, yum, yum!




Homemade Doughnuts


These homemade doughnuts are super yummy and a fun treat to make! I let each child make their own batch and they seemed to enjoy having control over their bowl. One batch of this recipe is more than enough for one family, but since we had 3 batches we had plenty of doughnuts to share with friends.

It seems like I am posting a lot of recipes this summer, but if I have to make food, I might as well make it fun and involve the kids! I hope you enjoy this one!

What You Need:

  • 1 c Buttermilk
  • 1 Large Eggs
  • 3 c Flour (at least – you may need more)
  • 1/2 c Sugar
  • 1/3 c Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp-ish Nutmeg (add to taste. I like nutmeg, so I add more!)
  • 3 T Butter (melted)
  • 2 mixing bowls
  • mixing spoon
  • flat surface
  • cooking oil for frying doughnuts
  • tongs or large fork to flip doughnuts in pan
  • large pan
  • powdered sugar or sugar/cinnamon mix (optional)

** Do Not use a mixer for this recipe!**



 Step 1: Mix flour, salt, nutmeg, baking soda together.


Step 2: In a separate bowl mix together buttermilk, eggs and sugar. Mix well. Add butter and mix well again.


Step 3: Mix wet ingredients and dry ingredients together. It will be very sticky and when things get sticky kids start tasting!


Step 4: On a well floured surface pat out the dough. You will want to add a half a handful of flour on top before patting/rolling the dough out, this will prevent the dough from sticking as much on your fingers or rolling pin. Rub hands together to get extra dough off your hands…use flour to help rub it all off.


Step 5:  Preheat cooking oil in a pan to 375 degrees. Cut doughnuts with a doughnut cutter or make your own with 2 round cups (one smaller than the other).


Step 6: When the oil is ready, fry the doughnuts until brown. I do not have a thermometer, so for me, I knew the oil was hot enough when I added a bit of dough to the oil and it popped back up to the top quickly. I just had to play with the level of heat while frying.

…make sure you flip them over…

I tried to keep the kids at a safe distance, but they could still see what was going on.


Step 7: Remove browned doughnut from heat and place on a paper towel to cool for a few minutes. Once cooled roll/shake the doughnut around in some powdered sugar. If the doughnut is too warm, the powdered sugar will dissolve and be kind of sticky.

Step 8: Then eat and enjoy! Yum!



I did try baking these for a healthier version on 375 degrees. To be honest, they were not as tasty as frying. If I did it again, I would brush the dough on the cookie sheet with egg whites (like with the soft pretzels). Then brush the doughnuts with butter once removed from the oven and top with white sugar/cinnamon or powdered sugar.


If I had to do it again:

I would roll the dough out for one child at a time and then cut the doughnuts before moving on to rolling out the next child’s dough. Letting all three at once roll out their dough at the same time was a bit crazy! =)


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