Tobins' Tastes: December 2016

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Cinnamon Muffins With Quaker® Simply Granola Streusel

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SimplySatisfying #CollectiveBias

People may find this hard to believe but until I was 31 years old, I did not wake up in my own home on Christmas morning. I spent 30 Christmas mornings waking up at my grandparents' house in West Palm Beach. It was an amazing tradition and loved waking up with my cousins and grandparents all together to open presents.

Since Santa brought our gifts to West Palm, our immediate family had a tradition where Santa would stop by our house in Vero on the night of the 23rd and fill our stockings. Even as adults in our own homes my parents would have us all come over (and beg us to spend the night) and open stockings together before we left for my grandparents.

After opening our stockings we would all sit down together for a breakfast of chocolate chip muffins and chocolate santas. A delicious breakfast but one that may or may not have been lacking in nutritional value. We would always tell ourselves that we would be sitting down to a huge lunch at my grandparents house so we didn't need much. However, as the day went on we would be running late, hit traffic, or arrive to my grandparents to find that there was some kind of crisis with the traditional Christmas play the younger cousins would put on and somehow it would be 2:00 and we wouldn't have eaten lunch.

This year I am going to be prepared for a long day with a breakfast that is a little more filling. These Cinnamon Muffins with a Quaker® Simply Granola Streusel are the perfect hearty breakfast treat for the holidays. The addition of Quaker® Simply Granola into my favorite cinnamon muffin recipe means that these will last you through morning. The crunchy granola, dried apples, cranberries and almonds are a perfect way to spice up any holiday recipe.

These are best served warm with some butter or jam on the side but they can be reheated too if you want to make them the night before. I used Quaker® Simply Granola Oats, Apples, Cranberries & Almonds but any of the other varieties would work great as well. Be sure to check out other flavors like Quaker® Simply Granola Oats, Honey & Almonds and Quaker® Simply Granola Oats, Honey Raisin & Almonds next time you are at Walmart.

Cinnamon Muffins With Quaker® Simply Granola Streusel
For the muffin mix:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup Quaker® Simply Granola Oats, Apples, Cranberries & Almonds 
For the streusel 

  • 3 tablespoons butter melted
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup Quaker® Simply Granola Oats, Apples, Cranberries & Almonds 
1.) Whisk milk, egg and melted butter until well combined. Set aside.

2.) Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large mixing bowl. 

3.) Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Don't over stir. 

4.) Line or spray a muffin tin. Using a cookie scoop or a tablespoon spoon one scoop of batter into each muffin cup. Sprinkle in some Quaker® Simply Granola and then top with a second scoop of batter. For a richer muffin, you could layer in the streusel mixture instead of the granola. 
5.) To make the streusel, simply combine all the ingredients together until the melted butter has moisten everything completely. The mixture should be crumbly. Top each muffin with a generous scoop of the streusel. 

6.) Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes of until the tops of the muffins feel firm to the touch. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Play & Grow With LEGO DUPLO Toys

I have vivid childhood memories of my brother playing with LEGO DUPLO toys. He had hundreds of them- a barn with farm animals, race cars, police and fire trucks and of course every color of DUPLO brick ever made. Even though we were technically "too old" for DUPLO products, my sister and I would always secretly try to play with them despite my brother's protests. I have been waiting for Easton to be old enough for them and we were so excited to get his first sets.

Our nephew Jack is a few months older than Easton so we decided to share our new DUPLO toys with him and let Justin help them build them together. They were so excited to open the boxes and it was too cute to watch them helping build the sets. I love that they sets had a learning component to each of them with the numbers on the caterpillar and the way the plants in the garden could be made to grow. We took the opportunity to explain to them about planting things and gardens and practiced our counting too.

Whether just learning to stack, building small structures or role playing with minifigures, LEGO® DUPLO® offers open-ended play for every stage of your young one’s development. Jack is only 10 months older than Easton but it was so neat to see how different they both were in their approach to the DUPLO bricks. Easton just loved to try and get the bricks to stack together while Jack was taking his time watering the plants and making the figurines walk around. He also was explaining things to Easton which may or may not have made me tear up. 

LEGO® DUPLO® preschool building toys are specially designed for the small hands and big imaginations of children aged 1½ - 5 years. DUPLO bricks are twice the size of standard LEGO bricks, making them a safe way to kick off a child's building career. Justin and I felt good knowing that they were safe for the boys to play with and even occasionally "taste" as they both have been known to do. 

After we built our sets we went outside in my mom's backyard and showed them the plants and flowers just like they had built in the garden set. I know they are young but it's never too early to start helping them make connections. Play is essential for early learning since it's the way young children learn about their world and as parents we can be their first partners in play. What is your number one tip for making the most of playtime?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

RITZ Crackers Christmas Tree With Goat Cheese & Fig Bites

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HolidayRITZ #CollectiveBias

Have you ever been to a party where you aren't 100% comfortable with the other guests? Like you know them well enough to be at a party with them but maybe not well enough to eat and talk with them at the same time? It's always such a dilemma for me especially when there's good food. Do I make myself a plate and then awkwardly try to eat and hold a conversation at the same time or do I skip the food and socialize without my hands and mouth full? Neither one seems like a perfect answer.

This holiday season I decided to save my guests the tough decisions and make an appetizer that can easily be eaten on the go without the need for making a plate or wielding a cheese knife. These Goat Cheese & Fig Bites are the perfect grab and go snack. They take my favorite cheese and spread combo and sandwich it between two buttery RITZ Crackers for an easy to eat treat that leaves your hands free for saying hello to people you haven't seen since last Christmas.

Not only are they ridiculously good but they are also really simple to make. I was able to grab everything I needed at Walmart including the goat cheese and fig preserves. My store usually has both near the deli but also check jelly aisle for the fig too if your deli doesn't have it. Also be sure to use the ibotta app to earn cash back on your RITZ Crackers too. 

What makes these delicious little bites even better is how they can be easily arranged into a Christmas tree to display them for party guests and make them even easy to grab in between conversations. I added a little extra garnish with dried cranberries and grapes but you can skip them all together or just go with whatever you have on hand. I used a cake stand for my display but you could just as easily set it up on a platter or right on your appetizer table. I can't wait to see what other spreads I can try next. I'm thinking cream cheese and pepper jelly or maybe even a whipped feta variety. For now I'll leave you with the 2 step recipe for assembling the goat cheese and fig version.

Goat Cheese & Fig Bites
  • 70 RITZ Crackers
  • 4oz package of goat cheese
  • 1 jar of fig preserves
  • green grapes and dried cranberries for garnish 
1.) Beat together the goat cheese and about 2/3's of the jar of fig preserves using an electric mixer. Let it set up in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.

2.) Spread a teaspoon of the mixture on a cracker and sandwich it with another cracker. Let them harden in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. 

3.) To assemble the tree start with a circle of crackers (I used seven with one in the middle) and layer in circles as you stack.

4.) Garnish with dried cranberries and sliced green grapes. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Peppermint Bark Fudge

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser, MARS Incorporated. All opinions are mine alone. #BakeInTheFun #CollectiveBias 

I love everything about the Christmas season. The decorations, the parties, the time with family and friends, the baking and sharing of treats, the two weeks off from work and so much more. Most of these are things that I think most people look forward to and associate with the holidays but I also have something that I consider my own secret cue that Christmas is on its way - seasonal flavored candies. 

I can't help myself. The minute stores start putting out their Christmas Limited Edition flavors I have to buy them all. And not because I'm someone who likes to eat candy straight from the bag (no  judgement if that's your thing), but because I can't stop imagining all the holiday treats I am going to bake using flavors like peppermint, gingerbread and white chocolate.  My personal favorite- holiday flavored M&M'S®. 

I seriously stockpile them. It starts with buying a bag or two of each limited edition flavor or colorway. Then usually a week or two later I swing back to Walmart and grab a couple more bags of my favorites. I have major issues with being worried that I will make an amazing recipe only to want to recreate it later in the month and not be able to find the flavor of M&M'S® I originally used. I may or may not have an entire storage bin in my pantry dedicated to seasonal baking products. While stocking up I am also sure to check out Ibotta (my favorite cash back app ever) and take advantage of the holiday baking rebates they have right now. 

What I purchase varies from year to year but every year I make sure to always stock up on my two favorites- M&M’S® Brand White Peppermint (Limited Edition) Candies and M&M’S® Brand Minis Milk Chocolate Baking Bits in the red and green colorway. I bake a ton over the holidays. Between parties, family get togethers, my own annual Christmas party and gifts and treats for coworkers and friends I may make my favorite recipes 3-4 times in the month of December.

One of the things I love the most about seasonal M&M'S® is that they make it so easy to adapt my tried and true baking recipes to holiday themed treats. I use them to mix into cookies to add a pop of festive red and green or to top my favorite buttermilk cupcake bites for an easy party dessert. With this recipe I simply took my easy, two ingredient fudge recipe and added in some M&M’S® Brand White Peppermint (Limited Edition) Candies to make it Peppermint Bark Fudge. It took minutes to make and is the perfect thing to wrap up and gift to family and friends.

Peppermint Bark Fudge
  • 1 bag of M&M’S® Brand White Peppermint (Limited Edition) Candies 
  • 2 cups of white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup of regular chocolate chips
  • 1 can of condensed milk
1.) In a saucepan, combine the chocolate chips and condensed milk and melt over medium heat. Stir occasionally.

2.) While that is melting, crush the entire bag of M&M’S® and separate them into two equal amounts. Line a 9x9 baking dish with tin foil and set aside. 

3.) Once the chocolate chips are melted stir in one half of the crushed M&M’S®. Pour the mixture into the lined 9x9 pan.

4.) Top the fudge with the second half of the M&M’S® and press them lightly into the fudge to make sure they stick. Let cool before cutting. Once cut the fudge will stay freshest if stored in the refrigerator. 

I love being able to spend time in the kitchen making holiday treats with my family and then sharing the love with our friends and co-workers. What makes me feel even better is that every time you buy a bag of M&M'S® at Walmart they are donating a gallon of milk to a local food back. Check out The Great American Milk Drive and learn more about how you can help this holiday season. 

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