Monday, December 19, 2011

A Peppermint Pause for the Holidays

Good Morning!

I just wanted to stop in to say that I'm going to disappear on you for a bit over the next couple of weeks.

You see, I'm always fighting an internal battle of being "in the moment," and during times when my task lists are a million miles long, I especially struggle with enjoying the here and now.  So this year, I'm vowing to let things fall off my gargantuan to-do list.  I'm allowing myself to be ok with doing less.  I'm embracing my inner slacker.  And, as a result, I'm really going to soak in the spirit of Christmas, and that alone makes my heart beat a little faster.

I had a handful of recipes I wanted to post this week, but I let my weekend get jammed with holiday crafting and baking and shopping and sitting with piping hot coffee.  And, honestly, all I can say is, "ahhhhh..."  I'm feeling much more centered already.  And after tomorrow night, my task list will be empty.  Which means that I can fill my evenings with Christmas movies and board games and a baking session or two.  Ahhhhhh...

I hope your holidays are magical and peaceful and filled with things that bring you contentment!

Happiness, Laughter, Love, and Vitality,

p.s.  I've put together a collection of past holiday recipes for easy reference.  Just look up to the new tab above or click this link!  CHRISTMAS COOKIES & CANDIES

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Homemade Cinnamon Ornaments

Whenever I see a link for an adorable/neat/funny kid craft, I think, "Oh! I wonder if Mellisa and her kids would like this one?"  So, I blast her email with links to random things in the hopes that at least a few will turn out to be goodies.

And look at these ornaments!  Mellisa and her family made them this week, and they're seriously adorable.  And, as I suspected, while the ornaments were baking, her house smelled like a cinnamon fairy had wafted through, making everything feel magical.  Ahhhhh.... Love it.

Click over to Mellisa's post for the recipe and photos of her sweet family!


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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cookie Dough Dip


Hold the show.

This dip is seriously scrumptious.  And it's way healthier than scooping out spoonfuls of regular cookie dough. (Not that I do that.) (Every single time I make cookies.)  And this dip is easier and faster to make too!

(And, psst - wanna know a secret?  Check out the ingredient list below.  You won't believe your eyeballs.  And then you'll accuse me of lying about how delicious this dip is.  But I promise you.  I cross my heart and pinky swear that it's super duper amazingly delicious.  I promise.)


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Cookie Dough Dip
adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (250g)
pinch salt
scant 1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 c. nut butter (if you use peanut butter, it’ll have a very-slight “pb cookie dough” taste)
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips, mini size is best
3 Tbsp. oats (or flaxmeal)
1-4 Tbsp. milk/nondairy milk (start with 1 Tbsp., and add more as needed)

Add all ingredients (except for chocolate chips) to a blender or food processor, and blend until very smooth. Then stir in the chocolate chips.

Oatmeal Raisin variation:  Use almond butter instead of peanut butter and add 1/4 tsp. cinnamon.  Swap raisins for the chocolate chips.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

It's A Marshmallow World

Oh gosh, oh gosh, oh gosh.

My mom and I are currently in love with homemade marshmallows!  We can't stop talking about them and gushing over how pretty they are and if I'm being honest, we can't stop sneaking them from the pantry to eat.  They taste so much creamier than traditional marshmallows, and the texture is soft without being mushy or sticky.  Oh me, oh my, how we love these things.

There are oodles of photos down below, but don't let that scare you.  There are lots of steps, but they're easy steps, I promise.  I included bucketloads of photos just so that you could see the process as it happens.  I'm a visual person; I like to see how things come together, and I thought you might too.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Recipe Sneak Peek - Marshmallows!


Mom and Dad are still here visiting, and I'm absolutely pooped (in the best way)!  So, I'm giving you a quick sneak peek of a second recipe I'll be posting later this week.

I will tell you this about it - YUM. YUM. ABSOLUTELY FREAKING YUM.

Can't Wait to Share!

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Caramel Nut Pops

I've been lucky enough to have my parents visiting for a week, so of course I demanded that my mom jump into the kitchen with me to make Christmas candies :)  How could I pass up the chance to soak up some of her wisdom and snap a few photos to share?

These little pops are a twist on a candy my mom has made since before I was born.  She makes this candy in a log roll shape, but we thought it would be cute on a stick.  Because sticks and ribbons make everything cute, am I right?  Right.  Plus, making them in individual portions makes it easier to share as gifts.

Later this week, I'll be posting our adventures making marshmallows from scratch (totally messy, totally fun)!

Candy Land,

Caramel Nut Roll Pops

1/2 lb. (230g) Kraft Caramels, 28-30 caramels
1/4 c. evaporated milk
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 c. sifted powdered sugar *
36 regular marshmallows
1 1/2 c. chopped peanuts or pecans

lollipop sticks
white melting chocolate or white chocolate chips

In a double boiler over a medium boil, melt the butter with the evaporated milk.  Add caramels and melt until smooth, stirring often.  Stir in powdered sugar and stir until smooth.  Remove from heat and dip marshmallows into caramel and then roll in chopped nuts.  Allow to cool and set on parchment or wax paper.  Melt white chocolate in the microwave at 50% power, stirring every 30 seconds.  Dip end of sticks into melted chocolate and poke into marshmallows.  Allow chocolate to cool and harden before handling.  Store in an airtight container or wrap in individual bags with ribbon.

* Note: Sift the powdered sugar before measuring.

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Ingredient Lineup:

In a double boiler, melt butter with evaporated milk.

Add the caramels:

 And melt, stirring often, until smooth.

Add sifted powdered sugar:

The powdered sugar will be lumpy at first:

But keep stirring until smooth:

Hold each marshmallow by the edges, and dip into the caramel.
Stir caramel often so that it doesn't become too thick to easily dip the marshmallows.

Roll the dipped edge in chopped pecans or peanuts.

Allow to cool on parchment or wax paper.

Dip the ends of sticks into melted white chocolate
and poke into each marshmallow.

Once cooled, bag and tie off with ribbon.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday Fun: Oddball Food Habits

'Mornin!  So, let's get right to it - Do you have any weird-to-other-people food habits?  Foods you love or hate that don't make sense to other people? 

I read the comments on this post the other day and thought it was both hilarious and fun.  And since my parents are here visiting right now, I thought I'd press them for details on their food habits.  Turns out that they don't have as many oddball food things as I do (OCD for the win!), but there are still some "good" ones we came up with.  Even Bo actually had a couple.

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One of my favorite things in life is that bananas will naturally break into thirds.  Isn't nature fascinating?  The only way I eat bananas is to break off a piece, then push it into thirds and eat the thirds individually.  Turns out my dog, Rory, is the same way!  She won't eat a chunk of banana, but she'll eat the thirds I break off for her.  Solidarity!  :)

I love Ranch Dressing on spaghetti, pizza, and lasagna.

Bean & Bacon soup and Vegetable soups are delicious straight from the can.  Something about the cold carrots makes their flavor so much better!

My mom loves salted radish and butter sandwiches.

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Apparently, way back in the day, it was popular to serve "pear salads" at parties - pear halves with a scoop of mayo in the centers, over a bed of lettuce and sprinkled with cheddar cheese.  I distinctly remember being grossed out by this as a kid whenever my parents ate it!

I just learned that my dad won't touch anything peppermint flavored but will chew any flavor of mint gum and not know the difference.

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Dad also loves an over easy fried egg sitting on top of his pancake stack, with syrup poured over the whole thing.

My grampa loved pouring vinegar into his cooked spinach. 

My gramma often served us a slice of white bread with gravy as a side.  Anyone else ever have this?  So good!!

Our first Christmas together, Bo threw me a curveball by insisting we stop to get ice cream on our way to look at lights.  Ice cream?  At Christmas?  But, oh yeah - he's from Florida!  He said that's how they tried to get chilly at Christmas while they were driving around to see lights :)  I've definitely embraced that tradition now; how fun!

My sister loves cold green beans, straight from the can, dipped into yellow mustard.

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Whenever I eat something in colored pieces - like Skittles or M&Ms - I first divide them into piles by color.  Then I eat pieces until each pile has the same number in each.  Then I eat them in order of least favorite to favorite.  I'm always sad when there are tons of greens and purples and hardly any reds or yellows.

So, it's not a shocker when I tell you that I can't stand for my food to touch on my plate.  I'll even take smaller helpings of each item and go back for seconds if it means that my steamed veggies won't dribble into my meat or my carb.  And if I'm being utterly honest with you - big sigh - I'll admit to having occasionally propped an edge of my plate up a little so that juicy items contain themselves and don't spread to the rest of my food. 

Canteloupe just doesn't taste as good if you don't salt it first!

I love salsa, tomato sauce, ketchup, and stewed tomatoes, but I cannot stand raw tomatoes.  The taste, texture, and slime gross me out in a huge way.

Your Turn!!
What are some fun/funny/interesting/weird things
you have with foods??

 So Fun,

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