Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait

I find it a little difficult to find healthy snacks when I’m away from home.  It’s even worse that I often end up in the coffee shop, full of cookies and other fat-laden baked goods.  I’ve given up a lot of things for this diet, but I still budget in the occasional Starbucks drink now and then.  Recently, I discovered their yogurt parfaits in the refrigerated section.  The berry version is only 220 calories and it’s delicious.  It didn’t take long before I was wondering if it was something I could replicate at home.  Oh, yes I can.

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 1

This actually doesn’t take a ton of different ingredients, and one batch can make 4 – 8 servings, so you’re set for breakfast for at least a few days. 

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 2

Start the granola first, so it can bake while you whip up the fruit compote.

Granola

  • 3/4 cup oats (gluten-free, if that’s how you roll)
  • 2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • dash of salt

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl.  Spread on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes, then stir.  Bake for 15 minutes longer, stirring every 5 minutes, or until golden brown.  Pour onto wax paper to cool.  Once it has cooled, break up some of the larger pieces.  Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

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Once the granola is in the oven, you can start the fruit compote. 

Strawberry Blueberry Compote

  • 1 cup sliced strawberries (5 – 6 large)
  • 1/2 cup blueberries (frozen is fine)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water

Combine the strawberries, sugar, lemon juice and water in a small saucepan.  Cook over medium low heat until bubbly.  Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture starts to thicken, around 5 minutes.  Add the blueberries and cook just until they’re heated.  Remove from heat and cool.  Makes about 1 cup.

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You can also cook both berries together from the beginning, just be aware that while the flavor is there, your blueberries will not be recognizable in the final product.

To assemble the parfait, start with 2 tablespoons of the berry compote on the bottom for 8 servings, or 1/4 cup for 4 servings.

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Add 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt for either number of servings.  I like Zoi.

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Top with 1/4 cup granola for 4 servings or 2 tablespoons for 8.  You should have a little granola left over.

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After you’re done looking at how pretty it is, mix it all together and enjoy.  Oh, and it’s still pretty.

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One thing I really love about the Starbucks parfait is that the granola is in its own container so it doesn’t mix with the yogurt and get soggy.  You can just dump it in when you’re ready.  After a little brainstorming I solved that problem with my homemade version too.

Save and wash an empty applesauce container.

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Fill it with the granola and top it with a piece of foil.  Put it upside down on top of the wide-mouth jar lid and twist on the ring.  The foil keeps it in place!  I shook this and it didn’t budge.

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Reuse applesauce container to hold the granola - Crafty Staci

Here’s the REALLY good news.  If you make this recipe into four servings (as shown in the first photo above), each one will have 206 calories, which is 14 fewer than Starbucks’.  If you make it into eight servings, as shown in my awesome travel container here, it’s only 125 calories!

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Reuse applesauce container to hold the granola - Crafty Staci 2

Healthy on-the-go snack problem?  Solved.

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Mickey Mason Jar Lid Ornament

When my daughter graduated from high school, her gift from us was a family trip to Disneyland and she was allowed to bring a friend.  This summer it’s my son’s turn.  We told him we’d still bring his sister, since he got to go on her trip, even though she’ll be married by then.  So who did my son choose as his friend to bring along?  His soon-to-be brother-in-law!  Some days I think the kids are all more excited about that trip to Disneyland than the wedding.

Since we have a Disney trip on the calendar, I thought it would be fun to make a Christmas ornament to count down to it.  Anticipation is half the fun. 

Mickey Mason Jar Lid Ornament - Crafty Staci 2

This ornament is a great way to reuse old mason jar lids and is easy enough to make with the kids.  For the full instructions, visit me over at the Undercover Tourist blog!

Vanilla Brown Sugar Coffee Syrup

I live about 7 miles from the nearest store.  Not that far, I know, but when I only need one thing it’s impossible to motivate myself to make the half-hour round trip drive.  I’d rather spend that thirty minutes in the kitchen trying to make an acceptable substitute for whatever it was I thought I needed.  This time, it was coffee syrup.

I try to confine myself to two cups of coffee in the morning.  Most days I stick to it, but sometimes I cheat my own system.  Rather than having a third cup of hot coffee, I switch to iced instant espresso.  I know, it’s really no different, but I feel a little less like I’ve fallen off the wagon because it’s in a different cup. 

Vanilla Brown Sugar Coffee Syrup - Crafty Staci 1

Last week, on a particularly tiring day, I was headed for that third cup of denial when I realized we were out of both caramel and vanilla coffee syrup.  How does that happen and I don’t notice?  Anyway, I did a quick search for a caramel syrup recipe, but every one I found listed caramel sauce as an ingredient.  Huh?

I decided to aim for a caramel flavor on my own, so I whipped up this syrup.  And I wouldn’t really say it tastes like caramel, but it is oh-so delicious.

To make this, you’ll need:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

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Combine the water, brown sugar and salt in a saucepan.

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Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently but gently, until the mixture just starts to come to a boil and all of the sugar has dissolved.

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Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Cool, then pour into a bottle.  Add a tag or label and this would make a great gift.

Vanilla Brown Sugar Coffee Syrup - Crafty Staci 5

This would also be tasty with some other spices, like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.  I think I would try brewing them in the water  (the way the Chai Tea Concentrate is made), then using that water to make the syrup.

In case you’re wondering, the way I make my iced espresso is I fill the 20 ounce glass half full of water, add about 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons powdered espresso, fill to about 3/4 with coconut almond milk, sweeten to taste with the syrup, then finish filling the glass with ice.  Zero drive time.

Vanilla Brown Sugar Coffee Syrup - Crafty Staci 6

Speaking of my glass, these are in my Zibbet shop now, along with that stainless steel straw, which I completely love and is available straight or with that little bend at the top.  Also, that coaster?  It’s made from leather and a mason jar ring and you’ll find those in my shop as well.  I haven’t listed the wraps yet, but if you’re interested just let me know.  It’s been a busy couple of weeks around here!

New at Zibbet

When Etsy recently announced they were going to start allowing factory made items, I panicked a little right along with most other sellers.  After I calmed down a bit and came back to the Land of the Rational, I realized it was best to give it some time and see what happened.  So I plan to hang in there on Etsy, work hard and hope for the best.  However, in this whole process, I learned about another marketplace and decided I’d try it out too.  It’s called Zibbet, and so far I like what I see.

I started out by moving my Ninja Monkey Bags there.  After that, I added a few coffee cup sleeves.  It’s starting out slow, but I like having somewhere I can branch out from the photography accessories I’ve been making for the last couple of years.

Yesterday, I added something new.  I’ve partnered with my talented husband to make Mason Drinking Jars!  They’re so cute.  If you’re a fan of those little canning jars like I am, add these to your Christmas list.

Crafty Staci Drinking Mason Jar blue pint

They come in blue and clear, pint and 20 ounce and singles or sets. 

Crafty Staci Drinking Mason Jar set of 4 clear pints

Next week we’ll be adding handmade stainless steel straws.  After that, we’re planning mason jar soap dispensers, leather mason jar lid coasters and mason jar cozies.  But right now, this is my very favorite thing to drink from.  There’s nothing like a metal straw to keep your drink cold.

Crafty Staci Drinking Mason Jar 20 oz

These will be included in my sale on Black Friday weekend, so pick out your favorites now and sign up for my newsletter so you won’t miss out on that extra discount code!

Money Jar Wedding Gift

My family attending a wedding a week and a half ago that was a milestone, of sorts.  The bride’s mother and I have been friends since we were in kindergarten.  When my husband was first hired as a reserve (that means unpaid volunteer) police officer, it happened to be at the same department as her husband, before we knew that was where he worked.  They’ve been there together ever since.  Our kids went to the same schools and we live in the same little town.  The milestone I’m referring to?  This is the first wedding I’ve attended of a childhood friend’s child.

I may be getting up there, but I still remember what it was like to get married.  Money is a great gift because it can be used to fill in the holes left by things you still need after all the other gifts are opened.  I decided to give Sam and Jeremy cash, but I couldn’t just put it in the card and leave it at that.  In hindsight, that probably would have been the smarter way to go.  And the card did turn out pretty cute after all.

Money Jar Wedding Gift 1 - Crafty Staci

Instead, I got 50 $1 bills and proceeded to start folding them into hearts, using this tutorial:  http://www.instructables.com/id/Dollar-Bill-Oragami-Heart/.  Each one took me quite a while, and it started to become clear that if I wanted to finish before the wedding, I was going to have to come up with a different plan.

Money Jar Wedding Gift 2 - Crafty Staci

In the end, I folded about half of them as shown above, and the other half using this tutorial, which took less time:  http://www.origami-instructions.com/easy-money-origami-heart.html.  Of course, I forgot to take photos of those.

To hold all this cash, I bought a jar from Craft Warehouse and etched a P on the front.  It’s almost impossible to see in the photo, but I actually etched a circle with a P left clear in the middle.  I really liked how it turned out.

Money Jar Wedding Gift 3 - Crafty Staci

To fill in the space inside the jar, I stuffed in some Lindt truffles.  And we might have eaten a few as well.  I tied some silver wire ribbon around the jar, curled it around a pencil and slipped the whole thing into a bag.

Money Jar Wedding Gift 4 - Crafty Staci

I just hope the bride and groom don’t come over and throw eggs at my house after they spend way too long unfolding paper money hearts.  They were folded with love and only a hint of deviousness.

Etched Glass Jars

I’ve wanted to try glass etching for years.  It just never seemed to make it to the top of the list and, frankly, I thought it was harder than it actually is.  Apparently this was the year, because after buying the wrong product, then using the right product on the wrong type of glass, I finally nailed it.  I want to etch everything now.

Etched Glass Jars 1

I found these jars at the dollar store and decided for the price it wouldn’t be a big deal if I ruined them.  They had that nice framed area on each side that was just begging for embellishment.

Etched Glass Jars 2

I used this Armour Etch glass etching cream.  You’ll know you have the right stuff if it has warnings on every side that basically say not to touch it, breathe it, stick it in your eye or look at it wrong.  Oh, and it may be fatal.  Fun times.

Etched Glass Jars 3

To make the stencil, I used some ugly, old Contact paper.  I guess there was a day I didn’t think it was ugly, since I own it, but this is not that day. 

Etched Glass Jars 4

I cut out the stencil with a razor knife.

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I peeled off the backing and applied the sticky side to the jar.  If your design is very complex or your glass is very curved, it takes a bit of patience to get the stencil on straight.

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I applied a generous coat of etching cream inside the stencil. 

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The instructions on the jar say to leave it on for one minute, but after the glass block fiasco, I left it on for an hour to be safe.  I don’t know if it helped, but it didn’t hurt.  I also wiped a bit off to make sure it had worked before washing the whole thing.

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I did have a few small spots that didn’t etch, so I carefully brushed cream onto those areas and let it sit for another hour.  That did the job for most of it, except for one spot that just wouldn’t take.  It isn’t very noticeable, and one out of twelve panels isn’t bad.

My favorite jar turned out to be the one where I etched the negative space around the pictures, instead of the pictures themselves.  This is the one I gave to my sister as a hostess gift on Thanksgiving, full of Spiced Chai Tea Mix.

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I was curious whether this would work on mason jars, so I tried it on this one.  I love it so much I don’t even know what to put in it.

Etched Glass Jars 10

Join me again on Wednesday and I’ll share my Spiced Chai Mix and Salted Caramel Cocoa Mix recipes I used to fill these!

Refrigerator Pickles

I make dill garlic to give out as Christmas gifts to our friends and family.  I’ve been doing this for years, and every year when I spot the fresh dill in the grocery store it’s a mad rush to get everything together and canned before it disappears.  This year, I finally planted my own dill.

As luck would have it, it actually grew.  As soon as the dill heads started blooming, I panicked.  Never having grown my own before, I didn’t know how long it would bloom, or how many it would make.  The mad rush was on again.

Those of you who have grown dill already know this, but there was no need to hurry.  I made the garlic a month and a half ago, and there’s still dill.  I kept looking at it sadly out the window, until I finally decided to try something I’ve always wanted to do:  refrigerator pickles.

Refrigerator Pickles 1

I’ve canned pickles before, but I’ve never been happy with them.  The texture is weird.  Pickles should be crunchy, and mine just aren’t, no matter what I do.  These little babies, however, are crunchy, a little spicy and delicious.  I might not be able to go back to store-bought.  These aren’t the same, but I like them better.

Refrigerator Pickles

1 cucumber, peeled and sliced about 3/8” thick (I used a regular, garden-variety cucumber)

1 dill head

1 spring dill leaves

2 whole garlic cloves

2 – 3 slices, jalapeno, serrano or sweet pepper

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon dill weed

1/4 teaspoon dill seed

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

3/4 cup apple cider vinegar

Combine the vinegar, sugar and salt, stirring until the sugar and salt have dissolved.  Place the rest of the ingredients in a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jar.  Pour the vinegar mixture over.  Finish filling the jar with water.  Place in the refrigerator.  Wait a day or two before eating.  I can’t tell you how long they will last, because mine were gone in about 2 days.

Refrigerator Pickles 2

I don’t know if it was necessary, but I shook the jar every time I opened the fridge to redistribute the spices.  As usual, I made my husband an extra-spicy jar by adding extra pepper slices, another 1/2 teaspoon pepper flakes and, after putting on my hazmat suit, 1/4 teaspoon of ghost pepper powder.

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I don’t know what I’m going to do when all my dill is gone, but I’ll definitely be planting it again next year!

Mint Mojito Jelly

When I planted mint between my front yard and driveway, I was told I was crazy.  It would take over and I’d have mint everywhere.  Well, crazy or not, that was exactly my intention.  I have a huge mass of the stuff every year and it smells wonderful.  A pleasant side effect is that with the abundance of mint I have I can play with it as much as I like.

Mint Mojito Jelly 1

I can dill garlic every year in late August or early September, because that’s when fresh dill is available.  We give it out as Christmas gifts to anyone we know that wants some – and I’m up to about five dozen jars.  Whew.

When my daughter helps me, we usually end up making some jelly or jam as well.  We’ve make mint before, but this year we decided to change it up a bit and make some reminiscent of a mint mojito.  If you’re not familiar, it’s a drink flavored with mint and lime.  You can’t go wrong with lime.

Mint Mojito Jelly 2

Mint Mojito Jelly
  • 2 cups fresh mint leaves
  • 8 cups water

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Bruise mint leaves a bit with a fork or by twisting.  Add to the water in a saucepan.  Boil over high heat until reduced by half to 4 cups of liquid.  Mine took about 20 minutes.  And my house smelled fantastic.

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Strain.  Discard the leaves.  To the water, add:

  • one box powdered pectin

Stir until dissolved.  Add:

  • 4 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice

Bring to a boil.  Boil one minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and skim foam if necessary.

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If you’d like a greener color, add a couple of drops of green food coloring.

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Ladle into sterilized jars.  Process 5 minutes in a boiling water canner.

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This makes about 8 pints.  Thinking ahead, these would make a great Christmas gift, decorated with a little festive red ribbon. Oh yeah, it’s coming.

Mint Mojito Jelly 8

Who knew Mint Mojito was good with peanut butter?