Friday, February 28, 2014

DIY Key Lime Bars

These key lime bars are amazing.

I could just leave it at that, but really these are ridiculously good. As in they rival chocolate desserts good. And given how much I like chocolate, that is really saying something.

I combined these two recipes to make this Key Lime Bar Recipe.

Use freshly squeezed key lime juice for this recipe. The bars will be yellow in color, unless you add green food coloring, but delicious either way.

In the photos I made the wedge shaped bars in a round pan, no food coloring, and using oil for the crust. The square bars were baked in a square pan (imagine that), with green food coloring, and butter for the crust. Both were amazing, but I said that already, so here is the recipe.

Homemade Key Lime Bar Recipe

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup butter (you can use oil if you want, but butter is definitely better)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  1. Combine ingredients in a mixing bowl and cut together with a pastry cutter, unless corse crumbs are formed.
  2. Press crumbs into a greased 8x8 or 8-9 inch round cake pan. (You may want to line the pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil to remove more easily if not using a silicone pan.)
  3. Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes, until golden.
  4. Let cool at least slightly.
  • 1/2 cup key lime juice
  • 1-3 tsp key lime zest (extra zest for garnishing if desired)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • Green food coloring (optional)
  • Powdered sugar for dusting right before serving (optional)
  1. Zest and juice limes. Set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl combine sugar and flour.
  3. Beat in eggs until well combined.
  4. Add lime juice and zest (and green food coloring if desired). Beat until well combined again.
  5. Pour over cooled crust and return to oven to bake at 350F for 20-30 minutes or until set.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool on counter to room temperature. Then chill for at least hour to overnight in the refrigerator. (If you can wait that long.)
  7. Dust with powdered sugar, garnish with extra zest if desired, and serve.
Makes one 8x8 or 8-9 round cake pan of bars.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

DIY {Natural Mint} Grasshopper Brownies

These rich brownies with fluffy natural mint whipped cream were a huge hit around our house. We love mint and chocolate together and these beauties disappeared much too quickly.

Also if you ever need to make a quick pan of brownies and all you have is a cake mix, you can use this adaptation to turn it into brownies.

"Cake Mix" Brownie Recipe

  • 1 cake mix OR the following dry ingredients from homemade cake mix
      • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
      • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
      • 1 Tbsp powder
      • 1/2 tsp salt
      • 1/3 cup cocoa powder (for  chocolate cookies only obviously)
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • Up to 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (if desired)
  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl until well combined.
  2. Spread on prepared 9x13 pan and bake at 350F  20-25 minutes.
  3. Let cool.

Natural Mint Infused Whipped Cream

  • 1-2 cups whipping cream
  • 1-2 large handfuls of mint leaves
  • 2-4 Tbsp sugar
  1. Wash and dry the mint leaves well. Tear and bruise leaves slightly to bring out the most flavor. Place in colander inside of a bowl.
  2. Steep the mint leaves in the milk for several hours up to overnight. (See photos of mint steeping here.)
  3. Strain mint leaves from cream.
  4. Add sugar and whip cream until stiff peaks form.
Just before serving top brownies with mint whipped cream and chocolate chips if desired.

Friday, February 21, 2014

DIY Natural Mint Green Smoothie

Green smoothies are a great way to sneak an extra serving of veggies into your day. This natural mint smoothie provides all of the green, with a fun flavor twist.

Even my boys who are not always so found of drinking their greens really liked this refreshing smoothie.

Homemade Natural Mint Smoothie Recipe

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 large handful of mint leaves
  • 1-2 chopped and frozen bananas
  • 1 cup of your favorite greens chopped
  • 1-2 Tbsp sugar or honey if desired
  • Up to 1 cup ice if desired
  1. Wash and dry the mint leaves well. Tear and bruise leaves slightly to bring out the most flavor. Place in colander inside of a bowl.
  2. Steep the mint leaves in the milk for several hours up to overnight. (See pictures of mint steeping here.)
  3. Strain mint leaves if desired. (I usually strain mint leaves after steeping for most recipes, but since this one already had greens in it, I left them in.)
  4. Pour milk and all other ingredients into blender and blend until smooth.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

DIY {Natural Mint} Grasshopper Hot Chocolate

Living here in China has introduced us to a lot of new foods, and also given us a new appreciation for some common ones that we didn't use before. In the past here we have come to love natural mint leaves.

You can't buy mint or peppermint extract here, so we use it sparingly, but we all love the taste of mint. You can buy big bunches of mint in the markets very inexpensively though, so we have found all kinds of new ways to use pure mint leaves.

We love chocolate and mint together. This natural mint hot cocoa is a decedent, yet refreshing treat.

Homemade Natural Mint Hot Cocoa By the Cup

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 large handful of fresh mint leaves
  • 1-2 Tbsp cocoa
  • 1-2 Tbsp sugar
  • Dash of vanilla and/or salt if desired
  • Whipping cream for topping if desired (and additional mint leaves for making the cream mint flavored if you wish)

  1. Wash and dry the mint leaves well. Tear and bruise leaves slightly to bring out the most flavor. Place in colander inside of a bowl.
  2. Steep the mint leaves in the milk for several hours up to overnight. (Alternatively, because this is a hot recipe you can heat the milk with the mint leaves in it to bring out the mint flavor faster, and then strain after heating, but the best flavor is achieved with slow, cold steeping.) Also steep mint leaves in cold whipping cream for several hours to overnight if you want mint flavored cream.
  3. Strain the leaves out of the milk, pressing to get the full flavor.
  4. Heat milk in microwave or small saucepan, until just bubbling around the edges (not a rolling boil).
  5. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients, adjusting to personal taste.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

DIY Strawberry Granola Yogurt Parfait

If you are looking for a simple, healthy, yet still special breakfast for for Valentine's or Sweetest day (or any day for that matter) these Strawberry Granola Yogurt Parfait are perfect. Simply layer strawberries, yogurt, and granola in jars or other pretty individual dishes.

Super special without being super sugary. Homemade granola and yogurt work great of course, but if you bought these items pre-made this breakfast would be super easy to make as well.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

DIY Valentine's Day Treasure Hunt

Last year to make the boys Valentine's day a little more exciting my husband and I worked together to give them a treasure hunt. There were three small presents (one of which was edible play dough which was a huge hit), and they had to follow clues to each one.

My husband because he is awesome with writing poetry and just words and rhythm and rhyme in general, made the clues each a short poem.

The whole process of reading poetry, deciphering clues, running and searching all over,\and unwrapping each thing made the actually tiny gifts much more exciting.

Friday, February 7, 2014

DIY Human Love Letter Valentines

Last year we made a really fun digital Valentine, turning our cute little boys into human love letters. We had our boys lay down on the floor on a play mat and had them become letters and a heart. We got them to formed the  letters I {heart} U. XO

My fabulous husband then put together all of the images on a repeating play mat background he created to spell out. I {heart} U. XOXO

He used Gimp (a free open source program) and cut out all of them really carefully and I thought the results were really great.

You could use a different photo editing program of course or just put a series of photos together without cutting the figure out digitally.

Whatever way you make your human love letters the recipients are sure to love this unique Valentine.



Cute boys.

I {heart} U. XOXO

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

{Free Valentine's Day Ebook} Growing in Love: Garden of Charity Family Devotional

Updated February 9, 2015: My Husband and I are now offering our Family Devotionals through our educational site Greenfield Education. We are giving away the PDF version of Growing in Love from February 9-15, 2015

Our family has been really blessed by intentionally celebrating God's truth during the holidays. Our kids really enjoyed our Thanksgiving and Christmas books, so we decided to put together a Valentine's Day book as well.

Our children's excitement and anticipation of the coming holiday builds with our family time focused on the holiday's theme, and we like that they are learning valuable lessons along the way. You could even use this devotional as a seven day countdown to Valentine's day if you wish.

Our Growing in Love: Garden of Charity Family Devotional looks at what true Agape love really means through readings, songs, discussion questions, activities, and even decorations.

Here is an excerpt from the introduction:

We all love our families and friends, but it can be easy to act unloving. Our kids squabble over the silliest minutia. I find it all to easy to become impatient with my kids when they have the audacity to need attention when I am doing something as important as working, as necessary as making dinner, or, worst of all, during what I like to think of (or thought of before motherhood) as the self-evident and unalienable a right as sleeping. It is all to easy to think the worst of people or expect the worst out of the situation, rather than believing and hoping the best.

None of us can love perfectly. Only God can because God is love and because we are not God. However, we can choose to be intentional about allowing God to work in us to love more.

This short book is our way of studying true Agape love as a family. This book covers the Charity Chapter (First Corinthians 13:4–8a).

We have also created a variety of printable resources to go along with this short book.
  • Printable hearts and flowers with the attributes of true love so you can make growing in love bouquet or garden
  • Decorative printables for your home
  • Half-page and quarter page printables can even be used as greeting cards
Updated February 9, 2015: My Husband and I are now offering our Family Devotionals through our educational site Greenfield Education. We are giving away the PDF version of Growing in Love from February 9-15, 2015. 

If you prefer to read it in the Kindle format it is also reasonably priced on Amazon, with a link to download the accompanying free printables.

We hope this book is a blessing and help to your family and wish you a lovely Valentine's Day!


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