Cool Summer Treats

popsicle line

Summer is in full swing and full heat. While hanging out with the kiddos we’ve experimented with making our own popsicles,  this was so exciting and fun, at first but now the newness has worn off. It was so cool to choose 3 different juice flavors or even make a smoothie and freezing it overnight for a much anticipated awesome and unique flavored popsicles, concocted by the youngsters.

watermelon-fruit-popsicles

Now that they are tired of these cool fruit flavored popsicles I am looking to fudgesicles. I don’t want to buy them from the store mainly because I cannot pronounce most of the ingredients and I didn’t want to just buy box pudding for the same reason. I am that weird mom that will not buy anything unless I can clearly pronounce and recognize the ingredients. So with that being said here I am writing this blog on how to make fudgesicles from scratch.

And here we go……

Ingredients:

2 cups of whole milk

1 cup of dark chocolate chunks

2 Tablespoons of sugar

2 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder

Directions:

  1. Heat the whole milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Do not boil, just heat until the milk is steamy.
  2. Turn off the burner but leave saucepan in place. Add Cocoa & Sugar whisk together until completely blended.
  3. Pour chocolate chunks into a bowl.
  4. Pour Cocoa/Milk mixture over chocolate chunks. Stir until completely melted and well blended.
  5. Clean edges of the bowl with a spatula and let the chocolate mixture stand for 5 minutes.
  6. Pour into popsicle molds, place popsicle sticks in each compartment. Wait until fudgesicle is completely frozen.

We make our popsicles before bed and let them freeze overnight so the kiddos aren’t left waiting all day…. but 5-7 hours should do the trick too.

I hope this treat is as cool and pleasing to you as it was for my family.

fudgescil

Enjoy!

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Valentines Made By Hand

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Valentine’s Day has always been special, when I was a little girl my father would always be sure to give me a special gift on Valentine’s Day. He always made me feel loved and appreciated with chocolates, flowers and cards. When I grew older and more responsible he gave me some beautiful pieces of jewelry. Valentine’s Day has become sweeter to me as I’ve grown. I am married and as the years have passed we’ve had children. The depth of love I feel for my husband, children, family and friends continues to grow as I age and  I now see things through different a light.

“Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.”
– Aristotle

When my husband and I met, we were soulmates, best friends and inseparable. Neither of us had ever felt anything like this before yet alone ever loved that deeply, we were always together. 1 to 2 days apart was not an option for us because he really does complete me, I am whole when I am with him. He and I truly were made for each other. We fell in love as teenagers and as the days continue to pass and we get a little older every year I can honestly say that we are more in love now than ever before. I am not saying that our lives are perfect or without flaw, but despite hard times we’ve grown closer. we appreciate each other and the beautiful creation that each of us was created to be. We were brought together for a common purpose, to spread light, love, blessings and peace. It started in our hearts, grew when we met and has spread as our family grows and our children get older, they now are spreading light, love blessings and peace wherever they go. It fills my soul to know that love prevails in our family and in our home.

“Young love is a flame; very pretty, often very hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. The love of the older and disciplined heart is as coals, deep-burning, unquenchable.”
– Henry Ward Beecher

When I was young and in love, I have to admit that I viewed Valentine’s Day a little selfishly, “What will I get” I thought, or “Will the gift show how much he loves me or how important our relationship is to him.” I would try to get things that would impress him and show how much I cared. I wanted to be impressed and to see just how much we loved each other by the measure of material things. I now have a completely different view and to think back on those times gives me sick feeling in my stomach to think that I was that shallow. The bumps and bruises that life hurls at you makes you realize that none of the material things matter. What truly matters are the intentions of the heart. A smile, a warm embrace, a shoulder to lean on when you’ve had all you can take, a sweet gesture, the smile of an innocent child, or even the greeting of your pet after a long day. Love in it’s true form is innocent; “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (NIV 1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
– Lao Tzu

After we were married and had children the materialistic views and longings faded away, rather quickly, and those longings were replaced with gratitude, thankfulness and love, lots of pure, sweet love. As our family grew and life took its toll on us with struggles, triumphs,  losses, broken and mended hearts, we were brought closer together. These trials revealed the depth of love that  we couldn’t have imagined or felt without all the peculiarities life had in store for us.

“Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.”
– Zora Neale Hurston

This Valentine’s Day the truth remains that the love shown, felt, given and received is the beauty just for you and it is pure and natural and old as time itself. This love is meant to fill up your soul so you can reconnect with the purpose of life, to love and be loved.

If you want to spread love and care to those who are close to you, here are some sweet ideas to help you achieve that.

Heart Shaped Chocolate Chip Cookies:

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 Ingredients:

2/3 cup of butter (or shortening)

1/2 cup of granulated sugar

1/2 cup  of brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1  3/4 cups of all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. of baking powder

1/4 to 1/2 a tsp. of salt (depending on how sweet you like your cookies)

1/4 lb shaved bittersweet chocolate

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cream butter and sugars together, add egg and vanilla, mix well. Add flour, baking soda and salt, mix well. Add the Chocolate shavings and mix well one more time. Roll out onto a floured surface and cut using heart shaped cookie cutters.

Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes. When golden around the edges take out and cool on a wire rack.

After the cookies are cooled place in a clear cellophane bag and tie with a pink, red or white bow. Viola! Gift completed.

These cookie freeze well, this allows you to pull them out and enjoy them whenever you wish. They also make a beautiful and delicious gift for loved ones this Valentine’s Day.

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Melt Your Heart Lava Cakes:

Image result for valentine lava cake

Ingredients:

Cooking spray, for spraying custard cups
1 stick butter
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
2 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Spray the four custard cups with baking spray and place on a baking sheet.

In a saucepan melt the butter. Whisk in the chocolate until it is also melted. Stir in the sugar until well blended. Whisk in the eggs and egg yolks, then add the vanilla. Stir in the flour.

Divide the mixture among the four custard cups.

Bake until the sides are firm and the centers are soft, about 13 minutes. Let stand 1 minute. Invert on individual plates, serve while warm. Top with fresh raspberries, whipped cream and a mint leaf.

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Chocolate Fantasy Cheesecake:

Image result for valentine chocolate cheesecake

Chocolate Cookie Crust:

22 Chocolate Sandwich Cookies Crushed

3 Tablespoons of melted Butter

In a small bowl stir together the crushed cookies and melted butter until well combined. Press the crumb mix evenly on the bottom of a greased 9-inch springform pan.

Double Chocolate Filling:

19 ounces cream cheese, softened

2/3 cup granulated sugar

5 eggs

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup whipping cream

1/4 cup chocolate syrup

1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract

10 ounces Cocoa Mill Bittersweet Chocolate

3 ounces Cocoa Mill Milk Chocolate

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl combine cream cheese and sugar. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition.stir in the sour cream, whipping cream, chocolate syrup, bittersweet and milk chocolates . Pour the cream cheese mixture over the crust.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 200 degrees F and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until the center no longer looks wet and shiny. Remove the cake from the oven and run a knife along the edges of the pan. Turn the oven off and return the cake to the oven to sit for an additional 2 hours. Chill uncovered, overnight.

The next morning make the chocolate sauce topping:

2 Tablespoons Melted Butter

6 ounces Cocoa Mill Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped

4 Tablespoons Heavy Cream

To serve, place chocolate, remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and cream in the top of a double boiler or a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir  until melted. Remove he sauce from the heat and let cool slightly.off a bit. Pour chocolate glaze over cheesecake and spread into a circle, leaving a bit of a  border. Chill just until chocolate has set, about 10 minutes.

Image result for chocolate cheesecake with chocolate sauce topping

If you don’t want to make something or don’t have time:

cocoa-mill-staunton

Directions:

Go to Cocoa Mill Chocolate Company in Lexington or Staunton Virginia or go online to www.cocoamill.com  and pick up one of many selections of Valentine Chocolates. All made by hand using pure, simple and the freshest ingredients.

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While any of these ideas are sure to impress and show how much you care the greatest gift of all is to love and be loved.

 A Very Happy Valentine’s Day To You!

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Sweets For Your Sweet

Cocoa Mill

A brief history lesson before we delve into the sweet reason of Chocolate on Valentine’s day…

St. Valentine’s Day began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus.  The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

“Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.”
– Aristotle

Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until…

View original post 339 more words

Chocolate Glazed Cake Doughnuts

chocolate doughnut

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamonflour eggs butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 quart oil for frying
  • optional – powdered sugar or chocolate glaze (recipe at end)

Preparation:

For draining doughnuts, prepare a plate with paper towels.Heat oil in a pan. Sift flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix in butter until crumbly. Stir in milk and egg. With floured hands, lightly knead the smooth dough. Take a bit of dough out and roll into a ball. Poke a hole in the middle of it with your finger and shape into a doughnut. Carefully drop doughnuts into hot oil, only a few at a time. Fry, turning once, for about 3 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on prepared paper towels. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or dip into chocolate glaze.

Chocolate Glaze:

 

choc glaze

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, warmed
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions:

Combine butter, milk, corn syrup, and vanilla in medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until butter is melted. Decrease the heat to low, add the chocolate, and whisk until melted. Turn off heat, add the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth. Place the mixture over a bowl of warm water and dip the doughnuts immediately. Allow glaze to set for 30 minutes before serving.

Quick and Easy Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

peracher cookies2

These cookies are so quick and easy you won’t even worry about finding time to make them. Chocolate, Oats, Peanut Butter and you are pretty much good to go! This is a great gift or treat especially when you use a high quality dark chocolate. When these are cooled place them in gift bags and deliver for holiday gifts!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients:

chocolate shavings

                                1 stick of butter

2 cups of sugar

1/2 cup of milk

3 oz dark chocolate

1/2 – 1 cup of Peanut Butter (creamy or crunchy)

peanutbutter2-3 cups Quaker oats

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Directions:

In a large saucepan bring the 1st four ingredients to a boil. After the boil has begun time for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the last 3 ingredients and stir until fully

preacher cookies

blended. Let the mixture cool until you are able to comfortably handle, roll into

balls and place on waxed paper to

finish cooling.

Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

For some reason I have been baking up a storm lately, from homemade sweet rolls, to chocolate caramel brownies, I just can’t stop.

Here is a neat little recipe I wanted to pass along:

Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies:

cran choco

Ingredients:

  • 1/2  cup (1 stick) plus 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3/4  cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2  cup granulated sugar
  • 2  eggs
  • 1  teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-1/2  cups all-purpose flour
  • 1  teaspoon baking soda
  • 2  teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • !/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon of allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom
  • 1/2  teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 3  cups Oats (quick or old-fashioned, uncooked)
  • *6 – 8 oz of Cocoa Mill’s Dark Chocolate Cranberry Bark

Preparation

Heat oven to 350°F.

Chop chocolate cranberry bark up into nice bite size chunks, set aside (to snack on while you assemble the rest of the cookie).

 

In large bowl, beat butter and sugars until creamy.

Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.

Add combined flour, baking soda, spices and salt; mix well.

Add oats and chocolate cranberry bark; mix well.

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Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto un-greased cookie sheets.

choc oastmeal pan

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered or in freezer safe bags for later consumption 😉

Enjoy!

cran oat

* Bark may be substituted for 6 – 8 oz chopped bittersweet dark chocolate and 1 cup cranberries.

 

Chocolate Salads

The other day I made the comment “The best way to eat a salad is to throw it away and get a chocolate bar out of the cupboard.”

Being that it is January people have made their New Year’s resolutions, a lot of them involved not eating sweets, exercising more and doing away with certain vices. It seems to be increasingly hard to keep these resolutions; temptations seem to be lurking around every corner. This is an attempt at finding a way to help indulge the temptations that are faced without crossing the line of over doing it. Hopefully these next recipes will bring a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when tried.

Strawberry Salad with Chocolate Dressing:

choc salad

You will need:

1 bag spinach leaves
5 large strawberries cut in half
1/8 cup of feta cheese crumbled
½ of a purple onion
Handful of slivered almonds (sunflower seeds or your nut of choice)
3 oz. of dark chocolate
1 tbsp. of honey
1/8 tsp. of black ground pepper
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup of olive oil
4 tbsp. of water

Place the olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat, add the chocolate continue to stir the oil and chocolate until it is melted then add the water, pepper and honey, stir until well blended. Remove from heat and let cool 8 minutes. After the 8 minutes add the balsamic vinegar, stir until well blended.

chocolate dressing

Thinly slice the purple onions and place in a skillet that has been drizzled with olive oil. Cook the onions until they become soft, limp and begin to lose their color. Remove the onions from the skillet and place in an airtight container. Take a portion of the dressing and coat the onions on all sides. Place the onions in the refrigerator to cool. Also place the chocolate dressing in a container to cool in the frig for about 30 minutes.

spinach berries feta

Remove half of the onions from the dressing and place on a salad plate. Add the spinach leaves (make sure they are washed and all water has been spun off) Add the feta cheese, strawberries and almonds. Drizzle the chocolate dressing in a zigzag motion over your salad and enjoy.

This next recipe I ran across on ABC Health and Well Being it looks pretty tasty so I am passing it along…

Orange Mint and Chocolate Salad:

orange salad
• 3 oranges, peeled and thinly sliced
• 2 sprigs of mint, washed and leaves picked off the stem
• zest and juice of 1 lime
• 2 tsp of honey
• 20g dark chocolate, grated

Place the orange slices onto a large plate and sprinkle the mint and lime zest over them. In a separate bowl, whisk together the honey and lime juice. Pour this over the oranges and then top with the grated chocolate. Sweet, Simple, Enjoy!