Do you want something simple to give to friends and neighbors? Here are some quickies; if you have more time you might like Candy Cane Bread
, shaped and decorated like a candy cane.
Recipes for the fudge and the gingerbread syrup are below.
For the jars to pour syrup in, I save jars through the year: spaghetti sauce jars, pickle jars, jelly jars,baby food jars, peanut butter containers (don't use those for anyone with peanut allergies!)...
After Christmas, anything that didn't get used gets put in the recycle bin, and I have cupboard space once again!
2 c. sugar
1/2 c. milk
7 oz. marshmallow creme (may use 7 oz. marshmallows instead)
12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. cherry flavor (I used wild cherry, and it was amazing!)
1/4 c. dried cherries or cranberries, finely chopped
1/2 c. almonds, chopped
Line an 8x8 pan with parchment or foil; butter well if using foil. Set aside. Combine the sugar and milk in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring often, then boil for 3 minutes. Pull off the heat, then add marshmallow creme, chocolate chips, almond and cherry extracts, and dried cherries. Stir until smooth. Pour into prepared pan, and sprinkle with chopped nuts.
Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm, then cut into squares. Store airtight at room temperature.
Makes just over 2 pounds.
(notice this recipe is basically the same as above, only without the marshmallow, and with extra milk to make it pourable) If you don't have cinnamon chips, use white chocolate chips or butterscotch chips, then add 1-2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon, to taste.
2 c. sugar (can use brown sugar for deeper flavor, or add 1 Tbsp. molasses)
1 c. plus 2 Tbsp. milk
12 oz. cinnamon chips (I used Hershey's brand)
1 tsp. ground ginger OR 1 drop ginger essential oil
1/2 tsp. ground cloves OR 1 toothpick of clove oil
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 c. pecans, toasted and finely chopped
In a medium saucepan, bring the sugar and milk to a boil, stirring occasionally. Boil for 1 minute, then remove from heat. Stir in cinnamon chips, ginger, cloves, salt, and stir until smooth. Stir in pecans, then pour syrup into jars. Store in the refrigerator. Warm before serving. (If too thick, microwave briefly.)
Makes about 3 1/2 cups.
It's that time of year...
to make gingerbread houses! Whether you want to make one for a competition, or just make something fun with your children, here's my family's tried-and-tested favorite recipe for eating AND building
. (See here for a gluten-free recipe
, or just substitute a GF flour blend in place of regular flour.) We have a yearly tradition of everyone in the family decorating a small house. If you want a recipe that will bake up thin yet strong, suitable for competition-level houses, the next couple pictures are of this one. The eating/building recipe has more leavening and therefore a lighter crunch. The 'building' recipe, below, is also good, but more dense. Be sure to roll this one thinly!!!
See here for Part 2- Assembling and Decorating
For the full recipe, along with more instructions, tips, and things I've learned, it's also on the link above. Put in a large bowl or medium saucepan: 1 1/2 c. light corn syrup, 1 1/4 c. brown sugar, and 1 cup butter. This will be easiest if you cut each cube of butter into 5-6 chunks.
Heat in the microwave about a minute or until everything melts and can be stirred together. If using a saucepan, heat over medium-high, stirring until the sugar and butter melt.
Add the dry ingredients to the bowl:
6 3/4 c. flour, 1 Tbsp. cinnamon, 1 1/2 tsp. ginger, 1/2 tsp. salt.
I like to grab the dry stuff with my fingers and mix lightly before mixing it with the wet, this saves the step of pre-stirring all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl first.
Stir until everything is mixed well.
This dough will be warm and firm yet soft; it gets stiffer as it cools. It's easiest to roll out while still warm.
If it gets too stiff, return to the microwave for 30 seconds to rewarm it.
Divide dough into 2 or three pieces. Working with one a time, roll directly onto parchment, if at all possible. This will save you immeasurable aggravation!
Try to get it an even 1/8" thick. As you can see, this is quite thin. The corn syrup gives this dough a lot of strength.
Put your pattern on top of the dough, and cut around each piece. Try to have each piece touching as much as possible. The easiest way to cut them, by far, is to use a pizza cutter or pastry wheel.
Bake until golden brown and firm to the touch. Pull out of the oven, and IMMEDIATELY re-cut the pieces, if you need them to be exact. They will have spread a little bit. If you're making eight houses for your family, you can skip this step!
My favorite part of baking gingerbread houses: eating the 'twigs', the skinny little pieces trimmed off the house parts. They are addictive!
To make stand-up trees, cut out two for each tree. Cut a section out of the middle of one of the pieces, as wide as your dough is thick. You'll 'glue' one of these halves on the front of the whole tree, the other half on the back.
Cool on a cooling rack. When all the way cool, I like to stack all the pieces for one house in each stack. Here are five houses, ready to put together.
Next is the really fun part- decorating! That will be another post in a couple days.
It's the little details that make gingerbread so fun!
What a fun basket to make and give! (or eat...)
Chocolate-covered cherry marshmallow egg.
Marshmallows are one of those things that most people don't realize you can make at home. They are simple, pretty quick, (15 minutes if you make squares,) and superior to what you can buy. (Most homemade things are, aren't they?)
To get the actual recipe and to see photos of the marshmallow cooking- and beating- process, see this post. Egg- shaped marshmallows- fill a couple 9x13 pans (or one jellyroll pan) with 1- 2” of flour. Make egg-shaped indentions in the flour using a clean egg or the back of a large spoon. Pour, drop by spoonfuls, or pipe marshmallow into the indentations. When they’re set up, dust the tops with flour, cornstarch, or powdered sugar. Great dipped in chocolate (brush extra flour off first) and decorated. The flour can be put back in your canister and used for something else. Chick-shaped marshmallows (‘Peeps’)- Whip the mixture until it can hold a shape. Put the slightly-cooled whipped marshmallow mixture into a pastry bag, no tip needed. Or put in a gallon-sized ziptop bag, with ½” of one corner snipped off. Sprinkle a cookie sheet with a layer of granulated sugar, colored if you like. Squeeze the marshmallow sort of into an upright ‘Z’, pulling off to form a beak. Make them so the sides just touch; this gives them extra support. Sprinkle with sugar. When set, pull apart and roll in a small bowlful of sugar. Coating them with yellow-tinted macaroon coconut would be very cute, too.
The chick on the right was made when the mixture wasn't beaten quite enough. If you're not sure, scoop some on top of itself in the mixing bowl. If it flattens, it's not ready. If you already made them and they're flattening-- well, you weren't really going for realism anyway.
Don't be too hard on yourself- they still taste the same!
If you want colored sugar on your chicks: put about a cup of sugar in a ziptop bag. Add a couple drops of food color and a couple drops of water. Shake or rub the bag until the color is evenly distributed.
Shape the chicks by putting the marshmallow mixture into a pastry bag -or a ziptop bag with 1/2" of one corner snipped off. Pipe them by making sort of a 'Z'. Pull away to form a beak. (If they look more like a sleeping elephant than a bird, you can pinch of part of the 'trunk' when they've firmed. Or just call it "charm".)
Sprinkle more sugar over the top. This helps them not stick to you as much when you finish coating them.
How sticky are they without a coating? As my hubby said, "Ever hear about Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby?"
Put a chick in a bowlful of sugar, and flip it over using a fork or spoon. After it's completely coated, do the next one. If you want the external chewiness you get with Peeps, let them sit uncovered for several hours. Or a couple days.
To make marshmallow eggs:
Pour flour in a 9x13 pan. You need a layer at least 3/4" deep. Make egg-shaped depressions using an egg or spoon.
You can get the marshmallow into your 'molds' by using a spoon...
Or with a pastry bag. Make your own disposable pastry bag by snipping off 1/2" from one corner of a ziptop bag. A gallon-sized bag will fit the whole batch at once. Let the eggs sit aside at room temperature until they're firm. This usually takes a couple hours. Flip them over or sprinkle with more flour so they're not sticky. Brush off any extra, then call it good or dip them in chocolate.
Dipping chocolate or confectionary coating is the easiest option for good results. Sometimes you just don't have it, though, and a trip to the store defeats the purpose...
This is a 12-oz bag of chocolate chips, melted with 1 Tbsp. of coconut oil. (Use between 1 tsp. and 1 Tbsp.) Heat in the microwave for one minute, stir, and heat for another minute. Stir until smooth. Or heat over barely simmering water.
Chocolate chips are thicker than dipping chocolate when melted. The extra fat is to help thin them out. One downside is that it doesn't set up firm- or stay that way- unless it's chilled. So store in the fridge or freezer anything you coated with this.
Drop a marshmallow egg into the chocolate. Flip it over with a fork or your clean, DRY fingers, then lift it out, onto waxed paper or plastic wrap. If there's so much as a tiny spot not coated by chocolate, drizzle some onto it. The whole marshmallow can dry out through a small hole in the coating.
If you get even a tiny amount of water in melted chocolate, it will 'seize'- turn lumpy and thick.
If this happens, add a little more oil or shortening and try to get it to smooth out.
Put the dipped eggs in the fridge for 15 minutes, or in the freezer for 5-10 minutes, until the chocolate sets up.
If you have leftover chocolate, pour it onto waxed paper, plastic wrap, or parchment, chill until mostly set, then cut into small chunks. Use them in place of chocolate chips.
Or turn the chocolate into truffles by stirring in 1-3 Tbsp. butter. Pour into a foil-lined pan and chill until set. Cut in 3/4" squares and roll in powdered sugar, cocoa, or nuts.
An easy nest can be made with a lunch-size brown paper bag. Fold the top over, then scrunch it down to make a nest shape. Add some grass, and put in your eggs or chicks.
I saw the paper-bag idea in Family Fun magazine
They glued twigs on, but I didn't want sticks touching the marshmallows- and this way is is much quicker and simpler.
Light, fluffy, and springy homemade marshmallows.
Two quotes have been on my mind lately, they are:“Preparedness, when properly pursued, is a way of life, not a sudden, spectacular program." - Spencer W. Kimball * * * * * * *“ For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” -2 Timothy 1:7God is aware of us, and offers his love and power, as we keep trying to become the kind of person he intends us to be. Are we adjusting our way of life to become more self-reliant? I know he blesses us as we do.____________________________
This is a recipe my mom made every Easter; she made marshmallow eggs, dipped them in chocolate, and decorated them with a flower and our name. We made marshmallows other times of the year, too, in just a simple square shape. There are recipes available that use less gelatin; they are egg-white based. This recipe, however, is as simple and quick as you can get, and doesn’t require heating sugar syrup to soft-ball. These are also egg-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free. There’s even a version that uses honey instead of table sugar. To get instructions for making marshmallow eggs or chicks (“Peeps”), seehere.
Mom’s Marshmallows2 c. sugar
3 envelopes (2 Tbsp.) unflavored gelatin
1 c. water
¼ tsp. salt, optional
1 tsp. vanilla
Powdered sugar and/or cornstarch for dustingCombine gelatin and sugar in a small pan, stir in water and salt, if using. Heat just until sugar is dissolved, then bring just to boiling. Remove from heat and cool about 5 minutes. Stir in vanilla, transfer to a large bowl. Beat at high speed about 10 minutes or until it looks like thick marshmallow cream. Pour into buttered 9x13 pan. Let set a couple hours. With clean scissors dipped in hot water or shortening, cut into squares. Roll in powdered sugar and/or cornstarch. Store airtight, unless you like them crunchy!Flavored marshmallows: Instead of the 2 c. sugar and the gelatin, use 1 c. sugar, 1 big (6-oz) box of flavored ‘Jello’, and 1 envelope (2- 2 ½ tsp.) unflavored gelatin.Naturally flavored marshmallows: Use fruit juice in place of water, and reduce sugar by 1-2 Tbsp. Use vanilla or any other complementary flavor. Almond extract is great with cherry juice; orange oil, zest, or extract is good with strawberry, lemon oil/zest/extract with raspberry, 1 tsp. ground cinnamon with apple juice…. Just don’t use oils in an egg white-based marshmallow recipe; it won’t whip. Jell-0 brand gelatin says that it won’t set if you use “fresh or frozen Pineapple, Kiwi, Gingerroot, Papaya, Figs, or Guava.” So be aware those might not make marshmallows, either.Chocolate marshmallows: Add 1/3 c. cocoa to the mixture before whipping. Use the optional salt.Toasted-Coconut marshmallows- toast 1 ½ cups of fine-flake coconut. Take any shape marshmallows, after they’ve set up, and spray them with a fine mist of water or roll them on a lightly wet surface. Roll them in the coconut. If you don’t have fine-flake coconut, put two cups of regular sweetened shredded coconut in a food processor. Pulse until the pieces are mostly under ¼” long.Honey marshmallows: use 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. honey instead of the 2 c. sugar. Reduce water to ¾ c. Or use a 2/3 batch: ¾ c. honey, ½ c. water, 2 packages unflavored gelatin. These would be good with a little lemon extract/oil, or 1 c. fine flake (macaroon) coconut stirred in at the end. Using a couple tbsp. of lemon juice in place of some of the water may work, but having a lot of Vitamin C prevents the gelatin from setting properly. I wouldn’t use fresh lemon for sure, only bottled. If it doesn’t set, you’ll know why. If it does set, I’d love to know!
This batch was made with tart cherry juice instead of water. Normally the mixture is off-white before beating.
After you combine the gelatin, sugar, and water, you only need to bring it to a boil. You don't need any particular temperature, just make sure the sugar and gelatin have dissolved.
Prepare your pan while the mixture cools a few minutes. For square marshmallows, just butter a 9x13 pan. For eggs, fill couple pans with a 1-inch-deep layer of flour. Make egg-shaped indentations to mold your marshmallow eggs. A clean egg from the fridge, or a big spoon for big eggs.
Pour gelatin mixture into a big bowl (a standing mixer is ideal), add vanilla, and start beating it on high speed.
This is mostly beaten. It will set up great at this point, but if you want puffier eggs or chicks, keep beating.
This is thick and fluffy, perfect. It holds its shape pretty well. Pour into your prepared pan, and let set up, at room temperature, for a couple hours, until firm.
Cutting square marshmallows is easiest with scissors. You can dip them in hot water or grease them. A quick way is to poke them down into a container of shortening or coconut oil. After snipping, roll them in more powdered sugar or cornstarch. Store tightly covered.
This is the yield of a whole batch of marshmallows. Well, almost a whole batch. We had to taste-test, you know...!
Different pies and piecrusts. The card only covers cream pie varieties, but has a few different crusts.
Did you want to see closer?
This one is chocolate-peanut butter cream pie.
Apple Cider Syrup is YUMMY. We use the recipe to make many flavors. Our latest favorite is made using mango juice.
Crunchy on the outside, velvety on the inside, simple Drop Biscuits. The batch pictured uses about half whole-wheat flour.
Craggy, crisp, and hearty- use the Drop Biscuit recipe to make Drop Scones. Here, I swapped some oats for some of the flour, and stirred in chopped figs and toasted nuts.
Miscellaneous card 1 apple cider syrup, basic syrup, easy jam, cooking grains, 5-min marmalade
Miscellaneous card 2 granola, granola bars, home remedies, seasoned salt, seasoned flour, spice chart
Pies cream pie filling, shortbread crust, meringue, crumb crust, pat-in-pan crust, traditional crust
Quick Breads card 1 drop biscuits, English scones, biscuit mix, soft breadsticks, rolled biscuits, shortcake, biscuit dough ideas
Fresh fudge, made whatever flavor you feel like. This one is Gingerbread Fudge.
Truffles, the same on the inside but rolled in cocoa, powdered sugar, and sprinkles.
For this batch of chocolate-peanut butter fudge, I used the Five Minute Fudge
recipe but split the batch in half after adding the marshmallow. Half of it got peanut butter, half of it got chocolate chips. I spread the peanut butter layer into a lined pan, then topped it with the chocolate mixture.
Lining the pan with waxed paper or foil, buttered, makes it much easier to cut the fudge when finished.
To make the peanut butter swirl, drop several small spoonfuls of plain peanut butter on top.
Tap the pan on the counter to get the peanut butter to flatten into the fudge.
Drag a knife or spoon back and forth through it to swirl a bit.
It's best to not break it up too much. Tap the pan on the counter again to flatten the top.
Chill until it's firm, then lift the whole batch out. Put it on a cutting board, and cut into squares.
Right-click to save, it should come up full-sized once you do. You can also find this in pdf format
. The song is on page 25.
(originally from 4/15/10Now that the Three Month Challenge is over, the next step is finishing your year’s supply. In agrarian cultures, it was very common to have a year’s supply, in case the next year’s harvest was insufficient- hailstorms, drought, fire, flood, damage from animals or bugs. Since we don’t grow all our own food anymore, we sometimes become oblivious to the need to have backup. In reality, our food situation is more precarious- it involves a large web of people, machinery, and transportation, as well as Nature, all doing their part. If any one of these is messed with, the stores could be empty within a few days. Food storage is great insurance and brings peace of mind. I can’t afford to invest in gold, but I can afford wheat. You can’t eat gold, anyway. I’ll send a quote next week from Brigham Young about gold and wheat. A great article on what and how to store your long-term food is “Home Storage: Build on the Basics” from the Ensign magazine, June 1989. Some highlights from it are:“We continue to encourage members to store sufficient food, clothing, and where possible fuel for at least one year. We have not laid down an exact formula for what should be stored. However, we suggest that members concentrate on essential foods that sustain life, such as grains, legumes, cooking oil, powdered milk, salt, sugar or honey, and water. Most families can achieve and maintain this basic level of preparedness. The decision to do more than this rests with the individual.“We encourage you to follow this counsel with the assurance that a people prepared through obedience to the commandments of God need not fear.” (First Presidency letter to priesthood leaders, 24 June 1988.)If families would think in terms of storing only foods basic to survival, or if they would supplement the food storage they already have with the basics to build it up to a year’s supply, the task would be simpler than they might think. They would then be prepared for food emergencies.A year’s supply of food storage is beneficial in several ways:1. It provides peace of mind as we obey the counsel to store.2. It helps ensure survival in case of personal (including financial setbacks, health issues) or natural disaster.3. It strengthens skills in preparing and using basic foods.No single food storage plan will work for everyone. Each family’s needs differ, as does their financial ability to accumulate the storage items. But by working under the direction of the First Presidency “to concentrate on essential foods,” it can be done. President Ezra Taft Benson has said on at least three different occasions, “The revelation to produce and store food may be as essential to our temporal welfare today as boarding the ark was to the people in the days of Noah.” (Ensign, Nov. 1980, p. 33.)”
Noah didn’t build it in a week, and he didn’t take out a loan for it… but he worked at it until it was done.Are you building your ark?
* * * * * * *
The recipe this time around is for something fun to make and eat: Tootsie Rolls 2 Tbsp. butter½ c. corn syrup¼ c. unsweetened cocoa powder1 tsp. vanilla3 c. powdered sugar¾ c. dry milk powder Combine in a bowl, mix as much as you can with a spoon, then knead by hand. At first it will look like a big bunch of powdered sugar that won’t ever stick together….. but keep with it, and it will. Once it all turns brown and holds together, roll into long ‘snakes’ and cut into bite-size pieces.These are even better the next day, and if you want them chewier, let them sit out a few days. (Remember how old the store’s Tootsie Rolls must be…)
Vanilla Tootsie Rolls
Instead of corn syrup, use sweetened condensed milk and omit the milk powder. Increase vanilla to 1 Tbsp.
(Originally 9/2/10)I love this time of year! The temperatures have dropped enough that the roses are reblooming, the grass is having an easier time, and the mornings and late evenings have the smell of earth and coolness. The garden is in full swing, tomatoes are fragrant and sweet, most of the lumps that come out of my garden are potatoes instead of rocks, and I get to be creative using squash again. What a fulfilling time, enjoying the fruits of our labors (or others’ labors, if you prefer the farmers’ market or grocery store). It brings to mind D&C 59:18-19 “Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul.”I’m grateful for the beauties of the earth that the Lord has given us, for the wonderful things he’s put here for us to wisely enjoy. The recipe at the end of the email uses nothing but some of these things that grow for us. Enjoy!
Here is a bit from Elder Maxwell, from a talk he called “Be Of Good Cheer”- both sobering and encouraging. “We are living in a time in which we shall see things both wonderful and awful. There is no way that we can be a part of the last days and have it otherwise. Even so, we are instructed by our Lord and Exemplar, Jesus Christ, to “be of good cheer.” (D&C 61:36; D&C 78:18.) Jesus has given that same instruction to others before, when the stressful circumstances in which they found themselves were anything but cheerful. “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33; italics added.) What precious perspective we obtain from the gospel of Jesus Christ concerning things that really matter—against which we measure the disappointments of the day! Jesus calls upon us to have a deliberate trust in God’s unfolding purposes, not only for all humankind but for us individually. And we are to be of good cheer in the unfolding process. The Lord has made no secret of the fact that He intends to try the faith and the patience of His Saints. (See Mosiah 23:21.) We mortals are so quick to forget the Lord: “And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions … they will not remember him.” (Hel. 12:3.) Given the aforementioned grand and overarching reasons to rejoice, can we not “be of good cheer” in spite of stress and circumstance? President Brigham Young said of a geographical destination, “This is the place.” Of God’s plan of salvation, with its developmental destination, it can be said, “This is the process”! (from “Be of Good Cheer” by Neal A. Maxwell, Oct. 1982 Conference) http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=1ca9c5e8b4b6b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD
If you can make the time, please read the whole thing, it’s wonderful!Now for the recipe: these fruit/nut bars are basically the same as the old-old recipe for ‘fruit balls’ or ‘dried fruit candy’, if you’ve run across those before. The dates are there both for sweetness and stickiness to hold the whole thing together. Just-Fruit-and-Nut Bars (the original 'energy bar') and naturally gluten-free!1/3 cup chopped pecans - toasting the nuts will increase the flavor1/3 cup chopped dates 1/3 cup chopped dried apples Put the pecans in a food processor (or blender?) and chop until finely ground. Remove and do the same with dates and apples. Add the nuts back in, add a pinch of cinnamon, and process until it holds together. Divide into 6 pieces, mold each one into a bar, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap, waxed paper, or parchment. 81 calories each, if you care. (I’m thinking these things ought to be double-sized- plus I’ll make my batch with 1 cup of each ingredient.)If you can’t have nuts: the nuts are there to give body and fat for shaping, digestibility and energy, so try a combination of chopped-up rolled oats and coconut oil (or butter)Variations:Apricot-Almond: use equal amounts dried apricots, dates, and almondsCherry Tart: equal parts dried cherries, dates, and walnuts or almondsPeanut Cookie: use peanuts and only dates (2/3 cup). Add a pinch of salt and a bit of vanilla.Cashew Cookie: same as Peanut Cookie, except use cashews.How about using dates, dried pineapple, macadamias, then rolling in coconut?Or use any nut and dried fruit you have, or whatever else sounds good…..