S’mores Bark

 

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Ingredients:

  • Milk chocolate
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Crushed graham crackers
  • 1-2 Hershey bars

To make:

Melt milk chocolate and spread on wax or parchment paper.


Crush graham crackers and sprinkle over the top. Add marshmallows and bits of a Hershey chocolate bar.


Chill for one hour and then break apart.  Enjoy!

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Apple Cider Donuts

These were inspired by a recent trip to Carter Mountain Apple Orchard with the family where we fell in love with their apple cider donuts. I found an excellent recipe here: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/11/07/apple-cider-donuts/ and tried it out. Soooo Delicious. We chose to make donut holes instead of donuts.

Ingredients:

Donuts

  • 1 and 1/4 cups  apple cider
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg, room temperature1
  • 2 Tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup  packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature2
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • orange slices* optional
  • cinnamon sticks* optional

Topping

  • 3/4 cup  granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick or 60g) unsalted butter, melted

Directions

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  1. Simmer apple cider over low-medium heat in a small saucepan on the stove for 15-20 minutes. Add cinnamon sticks, spices, and/or orange slices for flavor if desired. In this step you are reducing the apple cider for a stronger flavor. You will need 1/2 cup from this reduced cider. Allow it to cool in the refrigerator as you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray a mini muffin pan or donut pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  3. Toss the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg, melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together until smooth. Whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla, and 1/2 cup of concentrated apple cider.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and very gently mix together with a whisk. Be very gentle as overmixing will develop the gluten and result in a tough textured donut. Whisk until all ingredients are *just combined.* Some small lumps may remain, but not many. IMG_0892  IMG_0893
  5. Pour the batter into the mini muffin pan, filling 3/4 of the way full. You’ll only need a couple teaspoons of batter for each. Or, if making donuts, follow my instructions in the post above about filling the donut pan. Bake the donut holes for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The donuts will take the same amount of time. IMG_0894
  6. Make the topping by mixing the granulated sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Dip the top of the donut holes or donuts lightly into the melted butter. Then dunk them all the way into the cinnamon sugar, using your hands to mix it around so the entire donut hole (or donut) is coated generously. Repeat with all the donuts. You may need more cinnamon-sugar. Donuts taste best on the same day, though they may be covered tightly and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days. IMG_0897   IMG_0895
  7. Make ahead tip: Prepared donuts freeze well up to 2-3 months. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and heat up in the microwave if desired.

Spooky sticks


This is a really fun and easy treat to make with children.

You will need:

  • Pretzel rods
  • Sprinkles (Halloween themed)
  • Wax or parchment paper
  • White or orange candy melts (from Michael’s or Walmart)

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Steps:

  1. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper
  2. Melt the candy coating in 30 second increments in the microwave or use a double broiler. I used a Pyrex measuring cup to make dipping the rods easier
  3. Dip at both ends of a pretzel rod in the candy coating in place on wax paper.
  4. Sprinkle the pretzels. When done place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for a minimum of 15 minutes to harden the coating.
  5. Enjoy:)
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Skeleton Bones


Here  is a fun little recipe for kids to make for Halloween. These taste like white chocolate pretzels and are a cute treat to get you in the spirit:)
You will need:

  • Pretzel sticks
  • Mini-marshmallows
  • White  chocolate candy melts
  • wax or parchment paper

To make:

  1. Add a mini-marshmallow to the end of each pretzel stick.

  
2.  Melt white chocolate candy melts according to instructions. Either use a double boiler or melt at 50% for 30 seconds at a time in microwave.

3. Dip pretzel-marshmallows into the melted white chocolate. I found this part to be a bit messy and awkward, but used a spoon to hold the pretzel stick and retrieve it from the melted candy. After a few tries, we got the hang of it.


4. Place dipped pretzels on wax or parchment paper. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes to resolidify.

Simple DIY Gifts for Christmas

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I’ve always thought that homemade presents were more thoughtful or special than something you could buy. For example, I value a handwritten note over a generic card from the store. Every year my sister makes me an ornament for the Christmas tree, and over the years I love unpacking them and hanging from the branches. They quickly became our favorites.  Homemade presents also are a practical way to go when you have a lot of people to give to. I am lucky enough to know a lot of people, and have a lot of acquaintances at work that I like to make feel special or thought of. Here are two that I like to do.

Homemade Bath Salts

Bath salts are really easy to make, and you can get really creative. You could add pink Himalayan salts, dried herbs, or even a little food color to make pretty colors. We stick to a basic recipe that I got from Martha Stewart.

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You need:

  1. glass jars – old salsa or jam jars work perfectly. Make sure to clean and air them out for odors
  2. labels and decoration – ribbons, rope, sharpies. A hot glue gun is nice as well.
  3. Epsom’s salt
  4. Sea salt
  5. Essential oils – we use lavender, tangerine, eucalyptus, and spearmint
  6. baking soda
  7. glass bowl

I lucked into a roll of burlap from Walmart for only $4.

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I blend 2 part sea salt, I part Epsom’s salt, 1 part baking soda in the glass bowl. Add a few drops of the essential oil of your choice. Store, label and decorate in your glass jar.

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I like the combination of eucalyptus-spearmint for energy, lavender for relaxation, or tangerine for a cheerful bath.

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Organic herbs

The first works if you keep a garden over the summer and is an excellent present for someone who loves to cook. If you grow any kind of herbs (I do organic – no sprays or additives), then this is a good trick. I usually have a ton of rosemary, basil, parsley and thyme in my garden, so those are my usual suspects. All you need:

  1. Herbs
  2. rubber bands or string
  3. glass jars – old salsa or jam jars work great
  4. labels or decoration
  5. oven

Cut the herbs you want to dry  in mid-morning before newly developed essential oils have been burned off by the sun, but after the dew has dried. Remove old, dead, diseased or wilted leaves.

You can dry them in several ways: air dry, the oven, or even the fridge – I have yet to try the last one – but here is some information if you would like to give it a try.

To air dry, bundle them and tie them with a rubber band or string and hang them in a place with low humidity – avoid the kitchen unless you have great air flow. Put a tray under them or put a brown paper bag (with a few holes for air) or a mesh bang. Let the herbs dry for a few days.

Then, put them inside the glass jars. I place a paper towel under the herbs to catch any extra and to cut down on the mess. You don’t need to crumble all of the leaves – actually the more the leaves are intact, such as for basil or parsley, the more flavor is retained.

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Label, decorate and date the jars. Now, your friends can enjoy fresh, organic dried herbs.

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Holiday Treats: White Chocolate candy cane popcorn

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This is another great holiday treat that is very simple to make. This does not seem like much, but it is irresistible. Whenever I set this out, people cannot stop eating it:)

All you need:

  • Air popped popcorn (ten cups)
  • 12 oz white chocolate, melted
  • crushed peppermints, a few handfuls

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Step one: Pop the popcorn in a very large bowl. Crush peppermints in a ziploc bag.

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Step two: melt the white chocolate. Melting white chocolate can be very problematic, especially in the microwave. If that is your only option, Sally’s Baking Addiction has good advice on how to do it.I recommend a double boiler, or you can rig one with a sauce pan and a pyrex bowl, like this:

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Step three: Drizzle the melted white chocolate and blend with the popcorn. It will be a gooey mess. Toss in the crushed mint.  Store in an airtight container.

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Delicious and addicting

Holiday treats: Rolo turtles

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Recipe source: my dear friend, Amy

This is a quick and easy treat to make after Thanksgiving, especially if you have extra pecans on hand from making a pie. Also, it is an excellent choice for children to make and it allows them a chance to make a present for someone they care about by hand. The hardest part is unwrapping the Rolos, but that is easy enough for a child to do;)

They taste like a poor man’s pecan turtle, and are pretty addictive.

All you need:

  1. Rolos
  2. square pretzels
  3. pecans

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FullSizeRender(24) Let the kids do all the work on this one

Step one: Heat the oven to 250 degrees.

Step two: place one Rolo on one square pretzel. I used a standard baking sheet.

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Step three: heat the pretzel/Rolos for four minutes. They should be soft, but not melted.

Step four: Place one pecan half on top of the melted Rolo. Cool completely.

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That’s it. Seriously.

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