After 4 hours of surgery yesterday, my mom is doing well. Right after the surgery everything was well and she was feeling understandably tired. So far the doctor has been positive about the results of the surgery and the future. Hopefully I will hear more as the day goes on.
These cake batter hearts would be a really cute Valentine’s Day present to hand out. It’s like a jumbo sized white chocolate candy cup stuffed with cake batter, except it’s formed in a cookie cutter. After the candy has been devoured the cutters can be used to make festive cookies! It’s a two-for-one gift. These could also be made in silicone molds, such as petite or regular hearts. Just pop them out after they set and wrap in plastic or place in a cute bag.
This is my fourth hot cocoa mix recipe. First I made a regular version, followed by Salted Caramel, then recently made Peanut Butter and now Red Velvet! In case that isn’t enough, since last time I made special peanut butter marshmallows to pair with the peanut butter hot cocoa, I decided to go ahead and make cream cheese frosting marshmallows to complete the full flavor of a red velvet experience. And I think I am now officially in love with homemade marshmallows. You’d think that would’ve been solidified when my first was the peanut butter version, but cream cheese marshmallows? Holy freaking awesomeness.
If you notice in the background, I packaged up single servings of hot cocoa and a marshmallow in mini red containers to give away as Valentine’s Day presents. It’s a present that warms the heart, body, and soul!
One year ago: Dark Chocolate Strawberry Shortcakes with Amaretto Cream
Valentine’s Day is officially one week away folks! So let’s gets our lips soft and ready with some homemade lip balm. You’ve ever got two different options to choose from! The bases for both are the same but with slightly different additions so if you have a flavor idea to build upon these, go for it!
But first you need a couple of things. I bought my beeswax, shea butter and peppermint essential oil from Whole Foods, however the beeswax was in a solid pound block that I had to struggle with to cut. But I’ve been told you can find beeswax and oil-based candy flavorings at craft stores, which is where I buy my colored candy melts. Also, I used mini plastic bead containers from Joann Fabrics for the peppermint lip balm and and 0.25 oz. mini glass jars from Freund Container & Supply for the honey lip balm. But you can really use anything you want that is lip-balm sized. Ready?
The first bath I made was the peppermint and it reminded me a lot of Burt’s Bees lip balm. If that doesn’t convince you to make this lip balm I am not sure what will. And it was so easy to make, I immediately set out to start another batch!
The second batch was a honey lip balm with some pink candy melts mixed in for a little festive coloring. Unfortunately, the pink candy melts didn’t add hardly any color, so next time I would use red instead. But it did add a hint of sweetness along with the honey, which was quite lovely. But don’t try to east it because it will definitely still taste like beeswax, haha.
One year ago: Whole Wheat Blueberry Cottage Cheese Pancakes
Two years ago: Velveeta Chicken & Veggie Mac
The other day while digging through my ridiculously deep and narrow cabinets, I knocked over a zip-top bag of granulated Swerve sweetener and upon picking it up discovered that it wasn’t sealed. Insert mildly colorful words as I watched the sugar pour out over everything. Why I continue to stock all my flours and sugars in the very back of the cabinet remains a mystery (not another pregret, just stupidity).
That incident really has nothing to do with making hot cocoa mix, other than the fact that hot cocoa is a sugar explosion in a cup instead of my cabinet. But for awhile now, I have been wondering how to make a mix version of peanut butter hot cocoa. Mixing the peanut butter spread itself into the steamy drink works fairly well, but I wanted an easier method. Then I realized that the mix I have been making for a couple years now uses white chocolate chips, and could easily substitute for peanut butter chip! Could it really be that simple? Yup, it certainly is! I thought of being bold and replacing it all with peanut butter chips, but I really like the flavor white chocolate adds to this so I kept some of it around as a sidekick.
We also need to talk about the giant Reese’s cups that I found at Target. TWO HALF POUND CUPS! They are freaking beautiful, people. If I had had a cart I would’ve knocked over the entire display. Instead I modestly placed 3 packages in my hand basket. But it got me thinking… Since it is peanut butter lover’s month you should definitely buy those giant Reese’s cups and make this hot cocoa as the perfect gift for the peanut butter lovers’ in your life! I know such a combination would win me over, and I am definitely a peanut butter lover .
Side note: I wonder if the Swerve powdered sugar (which did not have a release party in my cabinet) would work well in this hot cocoa? I shall try it out and get back to you. Speaking of Swerve, don’t forget to enter my Swerve baking kit giveaway! And my second blogiversary giveaway (including a jar of regular homemade hot cocoa mix) ends tonight.
In other semi peanut butter-related news, The Ohio State Buckeyes take on the Wisconsin Badgers today @ 3:30 eastern time! It’s an away game so we don’t have the home field advantage, but we already won our division last weekend even though we had a Bye (because Penn State lost). Unfortunately we won’t be able to contend our status in the B1G championship game, but we can at least enjoy the ride until then. And hopefully knock out Michigan (next week) on the way O:-).
This homemade mix was given as part of the gifts to my family this year. After Kate notified me of the depleted stock I had made last year, I took that as a hint/demand for more. Even though the previous recipe was delicious, I always spring on the opportunity to try out a new blend. Salted caramel seemed like a more than safe bet for being delicious.
Making this recipe definitely has a couple more steps – you have to make the caramel first and then pulverize it into powder – but is not as time consuming as it may first appear. Although noisy it most definitely was. I thought my food processor was dying at first hearing how loud the caramel pieces were whirling around in there, but thankfully all was well. Good thing too because I need to make more of this for myself after trying a sample.
One year ago: Bacon and Cheese Egg McMuffin Cups
SALTED CARAMEL HOT CHOCOLATE MIX
Makes 4 cups of mix – enough for 16 servings approximately
1-1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp fine sea salt
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably good-quality Dutch process)
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1/4 cup cornstarch (optional – makes for a creamier, thicker finished product and also helps your mix not clump in storage)
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
6 oz. good-quality bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (preferably from a block, but chocolate chips will work too)
- Line a baking sheet with lightly oiled parchment paper, set aside.
- In a medium pan, preferably non-stick, place the sugar over medium heat and allow it to melt gently without stirring. The edges and underneath will start to melt first and caramelize, you can then very gently jiggle the pan to help more of the sugar melt in to the mixture. This will only take 4 to 5 minutes at the most so don’t walk away, just watch your sugar melt into caramel and let it get to a medium golden color then remove from the heat and add the vanilla and sea salt. It will bubble a bit, so be careful and swirl the pan to mix it just a bit. It’s not really important if it mixes in because it’s all going to be pulverized in the food processor when hard.
- While the caramel is still liquid, pour it out onto your lined baking sheet and allow it to harden and cool completely, about 30 minutes. Use the bottom of your pan, a mallet, or rolling pin, to tap the caramel a few times and break it up into smallish pieces that you can easily fit into your food processor.
- Place the caramel shards into the food processor and with the lid completely closed allow the caramel to be pulverized into a fine powder – it will be loud at first and then more quiet as the caramel is turned into caramel powder. Don’t open the lid of the food processor until the powder has settled. This will all only take about 4 minutes.
- Add cocoa, dry milk powder, cornstarch and brown sugar to the caramel powder in the food processor. Pulse the mixture a few times to chop and combine thoroughly, then process for 15 seconds until combined and powdery.
- Too the cocoa/caramel mixture, add the chocolate. Pulse the mixture a few times to chop and combine, then allow to process for 15 to 30 seconds more or until the mixture is all combined and powdery. Don’t process it so long though that you start to melt the chocolate in your food processor.
- Store the mixture in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
- To make a cup: Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of mix to 1-1/4 cup hot milk and whisk or stir well. Top with whipped cream.
Source: Budget Gourmet Mom
In recent years I have ran across several people (including Brent) who not only have never tried Nutella, but haven’t even heard of it before! How is this possible!? These people must have lived such deprived lives before meeting me. It so wonderful, yet for some reason I rarely use it in anything I bake, although I use the crap out of it on toast, etc. This needs to change.
In preparation for World Nutella Day tomorrow, I decided to whip up a homemade version. I was running low of my latest jar of Nutella, so why not? Gotta have the right ingredients for the holiday! I originally found a recipe from In Jennie’s Kitchen, but decided to change it up a bit. First of all, I could only find chopped hazelnuts at my grocery store, but that probably just made things easier on my food processor. The rest of my changes just came out of my head: more milk chocolate in place of some cocoa, and less sugar. It just sounded right to me. And side-by-side comparison with the little Nutella remaining in the cupboard validated my intuition – it’s perfection!
1 cup chopped hazelnuts
6 oz milk chocolate, melted
1/2 vanilla bean, split
3 Tbsp powdered sugar
1 Tbsp cocoa
canola oil, if needed
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast the chopped hazelnuts spread on a rimmed baking sheet for 8 to 10 minutes, or until browned and fragrant. Allow to cool.
- Grind hazelnuts in a small food processor until it resembles peanut butter. Add the melted chocolate, vanilla, powdered sugar and cocoa. Pulse until well-mixed. If necessary add a drop or two of oil, while pulsing, until smooth.
- Pour into a tightly-sealing glass jar and let cool (it will thicken slightly). Seal for storage.
Source: Adapted from In Jennie’s Kitchen
P.S. I got my jar from Beanilla = <3.
I’ve always felt that the taco seasoning packets you can purchase at the grocery store were just a tad bit too salty. Then one day I found a recipe to make it myself, and I opted to reduce the salt. I’ve never looked back; it’s been years since I have used the packaged stuff!
This recipe is what I use for my stock.
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp paprika
2 Tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp sea salt
4 tsp black pepper
- In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients. Store in an airtight container.
- To use, add 1/8 cup seasoning + 3/4 cup water per pound of meat (or to taste).
Never use store-bought hot chocolate mix again! Seriously don’t do it. It is much too easy to make it yourself and much tastier!
I am beginning a kick of making things myself that I would normally purchase without a second thought at the store. Vanilla extract was the first thing I tackled, and that too was ridiculously easy. Today I have homemade hot chocolate for your viewing (and soon-to-be tasting) pleasure. When browsing for such recipes this one from Brown Eyed Baker caught my eye due to the addition of white chocolate chips as I absolutely adore white hot chocolate. Although this is obviously not white hot chocolate, the flavors incorporate extremely well.
For my brother’s birthday right before Christmas, I put some of the mix and mini marshmallows into a festive bag and purchased a penguin mug (his favorite animal) to go along with it. I originally intended the baggie to be inside the mug, but ended up giving him more mix instead of a prettier presentation (I wouldn’t have been able to fit in as much with the bag squished up inside the mug). This could be changed up for any holiday!
And then I saved the rest of the mix to enjoy for myself O:-)
3 cups nonfat dry milk powder
2 cup powdered sugar
1-1/2 cups cocoa powder
1-1/2 cups white chocolate chips
1/4 tsp salt
- Whisk together all ingredients in a large bowl.
- Working in two batches, pulse the ingredients in a food processor until the chocolate is finely ground.
- Store in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
- To make hot cocoa, put 1/3 cup of the cocoa mix in a mug and stir in 1 cup of hot milk. Top with
whipped cream or miniature marshmallows.
You could also make your own marshmallows. I skipped this option only because I knew I wouldn’t use them all before their shelf life was over. But if you eat a lot of marshmallows I highly recommend these, again from Brown Eyed Baker.
Source: Brown Eyed Baker