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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Harvest Beans

The day was cooler and I was really craving something comforting and filling for dinner. I had never made this recipe before but I thought I would wing it and see what happened. Turns out it was pretty good and I have made it several times since. These Harvest Beans are full flavored BBQ enhanced bean, the peppers, onions and dark chocolate give it nice complexity that leaves your palate wanting another taste. I hope you enjoy this recipe as the leaves change and a crispness enters the air.

leaves

Harvest Beans:

What you will need:

beef

1 15.5 oz Great Northern Bean

1 15.5 oz  Pinto Bean

1 15.5 oz  Black Bean

1 15.5 oz Kidney Bean

2 tsp. Onion Powder

3 tsp. Ginger

1 tsp. Chili Powder

2 tsp. Garlic Powder

1 tsp. Pepper

1 1/2 tsp. Salt

1/2 tsp. Paprika

4 slices of Ham (hand chopped)

1 1/2 pounds Ground Beef

1 Green Pepper

1 Orange Pepper

1 Medium Onion

5 tsp. Truvia

1/4 cup Molasses

1/4 cup BBQ sauce

1/4 cup Ketchup

1 Tbsp. Honey

1.5 oz Dark Chocolate

chocolate shavings

How to make it:

Pre-heat the oven 250 degrees.

In a sauce pan melt the dark chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly. After melted add the BBQ sauce, Ketchup, Honey, Truvia and the Spices. Stir until completely combined into a rich sauce. Set aside.

In a large baking dish place the beans and pour all the sauce over it set to the side and let the beans soak up the flavor for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile chop the onion and peppers place in a skillet along with ground beef. Brown the beef until almost all the pink is gone, the onions are translucent and the peppers are soft and easy to cut. (You may want to begin cooking the onions and peppers 5 minutes or more before adding the beef.) Once done drain the grease and add the meat (ham and beef) and onions and peppers to the baking dish . Stir all ingredients until thoroughly coated.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 2.5 to 3 hours.

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Enjoy!

Chocolate Mug Cake

She Gets Into The Fridge

Ever wanted something awesome and sweet but when you go to look in the cupboard or the fridge… nothing. Then you get that sinking feeling in your stomach that you will have live the rest of the day unsatisfied?  Well this is a quick and easy way to fix that. NO preheating the oven and getting the whole kitchen dirty. Seriously all you need is a spoon, a large coffee mug, a couple of ingredients and a microwave.

Chocolate Mug Cake

                                ing mug ck              ing mug cck

Directions
Whisk 1/4 cup flour, 5 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 1 egg, 3 tablespoons milk, 3 tablespoons vegetable oil and a dash of vanilla extract and salt in a large mug until smooth. Stir in some chocolate chunks  Microwave until puffed, about 2 minutes. Let cool for a minute and top it off with whatever you like, strawberries, whipped cream, chocolate syrup or anything else you can think of. Enjoy!

mug cake

Adapted from FoodNetwork Instant Cake

Cinnamon Rolls With Chocolate Icing

Cinnamon Rolls just got better by adding Cocoa Mill’s white chocolate to the icing. There are several ways to make cinnamon rolls varying from making your own biscuit dough to using prepared biscuit dough that you can find in your local supermarket’s refrigerated section. It depends on how much time you would like to spend prepping before the baking begins.

cinnbun5

 

Here are some links to a basic biscuit dough recipe (note: you only need the dough, do not cook them, turning them into biscuits).

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/basic-biscuits/

http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/buttermilk-biscuitdough.aspx

 

You can also purchase prepared dough made by various brands.

 

What you will need for the Filling:

1 Stick Softened Butter (room temperature)

Dark Brown Sugar

Cinnamon

Allspice

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.

Once you have your dough ready you will need to clean a surface that can be used for rolling. Dust the area with flour and roll your dough into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle. Spread the softened butter onto the dough covering it completely. Sprinkle the brown sugar until you have a nice layer (as little or as much as you want), sprinkle brown sugar with cinnamon and allspice.

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After you have the dough covered in the sweetness of sugar and spice begin to form the rectangle into a rolled cylinder shape. Starting at one long end, roll the edge over, again and again until the whole thing is a cylinder.

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After you have rolled it up gently pull from the center of the cylinder out to the ends extending the length of the dough. Cut into 1/2 inch circles and place in a 13 x 9 baking dish.

cinroll cut

 

After you have filled your baking dish place the rolls in the oven and cook for about 20 – 30 minutes until tops are just beginning to turn brown, but are still primarily white. You will begin tho smell the sweetness of the rolls and this is how you know they are done. Take them out of the oven and let them rest for 5 minutes. Ice while the rolls are still hot.

 

What you will need for the icing:

1 Package Cream Cheese Softened

1/2 Stick Butter Softened

6 oz. Cocoa Mill’s White Chocolate  melted and slightly cooled

1 Tsp. Vanilla

Beat 2 Cups Powdered Sugar,  cream cheese and butter in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended.

Add melted chocolate and vanilla; mix well.

       CinnamonRoll-03

Enjoy!

 

Easy Danish – No Yeast

I don’t know why but avoid yeast recipes like the plague. I never have yeast on hand when I am baking, nor do I like to use it. I’m just odd I guess. Anyway my girls love danish and my mother makes an awesome danish for Christmas or Birthdays, however the day I decided to make a danish was neither of these occasions, it was a normal Sunday morning and I was up for the challenge of baking a new breakfast treat, and another recipe was added to my arsenal.

Cherry Jam Braided Danish

This danish fit the bill, it was quick, easy and yeast free. It was also sumptuous!

 

Danish

What you will need:

STRAWBEERY PRESERVES

3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

3 tbsp sugar

1/2 cup butter, cold

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup vanilla yogurt

3/4 cup milk

Strawberry Jam or preferred jelly

3 oz cream cheese room temperature

3 oz melted white chocolate

flour for dusting

Sugar for topping

braid how to

Pre-heat oven to 400F.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and sugar.

Cut butter into several large pieces and add to flour mixture. Rub butter into the dough until it is nice and flaky looking. Do not over-incorporate butter. Mixture should resemble peas.

Stir in milk, yogurt and sour cream.

Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead several times until dough is smooth.

Dough should be soft and easy to handle. Split the dough into 2 separate pieces.

Roll each piece of dough into two separate rectangles.

Spread the cream cheese and then jam lengthwise down center of the dough.

Using a knife cut  1-inch slits along both sides of the dough.

Fold strips over filling in the middle so the slits meet, place the danish very carefully onto a foil lined baking sheet.

Sprinkle the danish with sugar.

Bake for about 25-30 minutes.

Take out of the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 20 minutes.

After the danish has cooled melt white chocolate and drizzle over the danish for a decadent morning treat.

strawberry danish

Enjoy!

St. Patrick’s Day Chocolate Stout Cake

CHOCOLATE STOUT CAKE WITH BAILEYS IRISH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! This the perfect recipe for today! It came from The Brown Eyed Baker, you can find her full story, this recipe and many others by clicking this link:The Brown Eyed Baker

INGREDIENTS:

For the Cake:
1½ cups stout or dark beer, such as Guinness
1½ cups unsalted butter
1 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
2¼ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

For the Frosting:
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup butter, at room temperature
7 tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream
6 cups powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans, and line them with parchment paper circles.

2. Place the stout and butter in a large, heavy saucepan, and heat until the butter melts. Remove the pan from the heat, and add the cocoa powder. Whisk until the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

3. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; set aside.

4. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs and sour cream. Add the stout-cocoa mixture, mixing to combine. Add the flour mixture and mix together at slow speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, and mix again for 1 minute.

5. Divide the batter equally among the prepared pans. Bake the layers for 35 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and cool on a rack for 10 minutes before turning the cakes out of their pans and returning to the rack to finish cooling completely before frosting.

6. Make the Frosting: In a mixing bowl, blend together the cream cheese, butter, and Baileys Irish Cream on medium speed until completely smooth and combined. Gradually add the powdered sugar on medium-low speed until it has all been added. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is smooth and thoroughly mixed. Use immediately. You can refrigerate the frosting, but it will need to be brought to room temperature before using. This yields enough frosting to fill the cake and frost the outside, and do some basic decorations.

*Note: If the finished frosting is a little soft for your liking, you can add more powdered sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until you reach the desired consistency.

(Cake recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour, Frosting recipe adapted from Epicurious)