Rock Cycle Cookie Bars

rock cycle cookie bars

Sometimes food makes the best object lessons, and this classic layered cookie bar was a yummy way to illustrate the rock cycle.

We started with “igneous rock” graham crackers. (Pretty sure I said something like “poop” so they’d smile for the camera. Oh, the drama of having a mom who wants to take photos of everything!)

rock cycle cookie bars

The crackers went into the food processor, we turned on the “weathering and erosion” and ended up with lots of “sediment” (graham cracker crumbs).

rock cycle cookie bars

(In hindsight, putting the crackers in a Ziploc and letting them “weather and erode” with a rolling pin might have been more fun, but I wasn’t in the mood to clean up the mess.)

Then we placed the cracker crumb “sediment” into a baking dish, added melted butter, and “compressed and compacted” the “sediment” to form the first layer in our “sedimentary rock.”

We added more sediment layers of gooey sweetened condensed milk “mud;” coconut flake “shells, plants, and debris;” and chocolate chip “rocks.”

rock cycle cookie bars

Then we applied pressure (gently press) and heat (350F oven) to change our sedimentary layers into delicious metamorphic rocks.

rock cycle cookie bars

 Rock Cycle Cookie Bars

  • 2 packages graham crackers (about 16 crackers)
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1.5 cups shredded coconut
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Crush graham crackers to crumbs. Mix butter with crumbs and press in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crust. Top with remaining ingredients and press down. Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes. Cool completely before cutting.

Mini Chicken Broccoli Pot Pies

To go with our Three Little Kittens theme we made mini pies–apple crumble for dessert, and chicken broccoli for dinner. Thanks to pantry ingredients, this is a simple recipe and quick enough for a kid-friendly lunch, or busy weeknight dinner.

Mini Chicken Broccoli Pot Pies

  • 1 package (2 crusts) refrigerated pie dough
  • 1 can Progresso Creamy Roasted Garlic Recipe Starters
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked and chopped chicken
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli florets (or frozen mixed veggies)

Roll out one pie crust dough and use a cookie cutter or rim of a cup to cut 12 circles (approx. 2-3 inches). Spray regular-size muffin cups with cooking spray and lightly press a circle of dough into each cup. (I use and love these silicone muffin cups.)

Chop chicken and broccoli into bite-size pieces and place in bowl. Add can of Progresso Garlic Recipe Starters and mix to coat. Fill each crust-lined muffin cup with chicken mixture.

Roll out second pie crust dough and use cookie cutter or rim of a cup to cut 12 more circles. Place a dough circle on top of each filled muffin cup. Press edges of dough together with fingers or fork, to seal. Use a paring knife to cut a slit in the top of each mini pie.

Bake at 400F for 20-22 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Cool slightly before serving.

To freeze: Bake as above. Allow to cool, remove from muffin cups. Place on a cookie sheet or plate and flash freeze. Once frozen, place mini pies in a freezer bag and seal tightly. To serve, remove from freezer and microwave 1-2 minutes or until heated through.

*This post is sponsored by Progresso Recipe Starters and My Blog Spark. Recipe, photos, and ideas are my own.

Gingersnap Cookies, with a Kiss

We’re usually a chocolate chip cookie-kind of family, plowing through those giant Sam’s Club-sized bags of chocolate chips faster than I’d like to admit. But when the crisp of fall arrives my senses crave the caramel and cinnamon aromas that remind me of the season, and our go-to baking treat is sweet and spicy Gingersnaps.

If the only Gingersnaps you’ve had are the rock-hard ones in a box, you’ve been missing out. The idea for this {genius!} variation started with an impulse buy on a seasonal bag of Pumpkin Spice Kisses that were hidden in the cupboard and rediscovered as I was making a batch of the sugar and spice cookies for a potluck. The creamy pumpkin drops combined AH-MAZINGLY on top of the gingery crisp-edged, chewy-centered cookies. Try them. Love them.

Gingersnap Cookies, with a Kiss

  • 1 1/2 cups butter-flavored shortening
  • 2 cups sugar, plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 cup dark molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 package Hershey’s Pumpkin Spice Kisses

In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar with an electric mixer. Beat in egg and molasses. Stir in dry ingredients until well combined. Roll into 1-inch balls, and roll in sugar. Bake at 350F for 8 minutes. Cookies will start to crack on the top when they are done.

Remove cookies from the oven and immediately press an unwrapped Pumpkin Spice Kiss into the middle of each hot cookie. Allow to cool and set before serving. (You may want to let the Kiss-topped cookies set in the freezer or fridge.)

This dough freezes well, just place in a freezer-safe bag or container. When ready to bake, remove from freezer and allow to thaw, roll into balls, roll in sugar, and bake as above. You can also pre-bake the cookies, and then freeze them in a freezer-safe bag or container, if desired.

Thrive Chopped Onions (Giveaway!!)

When I was in high school I waitressed at a soup and sandwich shop, and one of my duties was to prep the veggies for the day. I would slice onions and “cry” and “cry” from the sting of the vapor. Now it’s not so bad since I usually only need one or two at a time, but my eyes are still pretty sensitive to onions and it’s caused a love-hate thing with onions because I love the flavor they give, but hate chopping them.

A few months back when I started buying freeze-dried “food storage,” I didn’t really have a plan for using it. I just felt we needed some on the shelf in case there’s a “rainy day.” But after trying some samples and purchasing a few cans, unexpectedly, I became hooked and started incorporating much of it into my cooking. Onions and peppers are some of my favorite staple ingredients we’ve tried so far.

I will say I was a bit nervous the first time I tried the onions because my schema included those weird little bits on a dollar menu cheeseburger. But these are not those and I’ve been really impressed with how fresh the Thrive Chopped Onions taste and smell. I especially love that they come PRE-CHOPPED in the can! Maybe that’s lazy of me, but time is so precious these days.

Admittedly, when it comes to stirfry, roasted veggies, or a thick slice on a burger, fresh onions are still the way to go. But I’ve been replacing freshly chopped onions with the dried ones in recipes (and even omlets!), and they’re ah-mazing. Another bonus is that they’re chopped small enough that I don’t hear complaints from my kids who normally pick onions out of dishes.

Cost of Freeze-Dried Onions

But the cost. You know I’m all about saving money, and unfortunately, time-saving products are often expensive. So I was curious about the comparison and wanted to do some calculations to see if the cost of convenience was really worth it to me.

Here’s what I discovered:

  • I purchased a medium onion ($0.77/lb) at my local grocer for $0.47.
  • When using the Thrive chopped onions, 1/3 cup dried onions + 1/3 cup water = a medium onion, so a #10 can of Thrive chopped onions is the same as (about) 26 medium onions.
  • Based on the current sale price ($13.49) for a #10 can of Thrive onions, this makes each “onion equivalent” about $0.51 each.

Now I’m no math whiz, so correct me if I calculated wrong, but when I realized it was just a few pennies difference in price, the time-saving convenience is worth it to me.

Maybe you can decide for yourself if you like them too? I’m giving away a can!! Enter below!

Do you cook with onions? Do your kids pick them out?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

How to Prepare for a Road Trip With Kids: Eating on the Road

While preparing for our long trip and analyzing my stress triggers, I thought carefully about how we’d deal with meals on the road. Eating out was an occasional option, but since we’d be on the road for several days I considered the budget, the time it would take for each restaurant stop, and our overall health and energy levels from too much fast food.

We decided to bring most of our food, limiting restaurants to one meal a day. So the night before we left I did a big shopping trip, stocking up on easy-to-eat snacks, drinks, and sandwich-making supplies. Then we packed a box for paper goods, snacks and non-perishable foods, and a cooler for drinks and stay-cool foods.

In the cooler, reusable ice packs worked well because we were able to refreeze them each night we stopped (we mostly stayed with family or friends along the way). But we also bagged up ice from hotel ice machines or gas stations. (Just be sure to double bag with good quality ziptop bags so you don’t end up with a soggy mess!)

Some foods that traveled well for us included:

  • Bread or rolls
  • Lunchmeat, cheese, individual packets of condiments
  • Peanut (or alternative nut) butter, jam
  • String cheese
  • Beef jerky
  • Pre-cut/washed veggies such as celery, baby carrots, cucumbers
  • Easy to eat fruits like apples, bananas, grapes
  • Hummus
  • Bean dip and chips
  • Individual cups of fruit or applesauce
  • Trail mix
  • Yogurt tubes
  • Packaged cookies or crackers
  • Fruit snacks

How do you handle food on a road trip?