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.

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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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Owl Cupcakes

Hoo hoo,hoo hoo….Owl Cupcakes

Semi-homemade

If you are like me you totally forgot that you said you would donate a baked good to your child’s school for the “Fall Fundraiser”, and now it is the day of and the freaking out begins!  Have no fear Owl Cupcakes are here! These are so easy you could practically do this in your car on the way to the school (provided someone else is driving).

What you will need:

12 Premade Chocolate Iced Cupcakes (or you can bake them if you have enough time, if you do props to you!!)

1 Bag Oreos (I like the orange filled Oreos this time of year)

1 Bag Reese’s Pieces or M&M’s if you are worried about peanut allergies

Directions:

Open Two Oreos, place on the cupcake and place 2 Reese’s Pieces or 2 M&M’s for the center of the eye. Place another candy for the nose (sideways on the cupcake).

Basically, make it look like the picture below. This is fairly easy and not too involved!


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Enjoy!

Monster Brownies

MMMMM…Monster Brownies!

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Oh My G-O-S-H! These are so dang cute! I don’t know why but every time I look at these I feel really happy! So I felt it was necessary to share these with you all too! I have posted a brownie recipe before (click here for recipe) and we will be using the same recipe for these monster brownies, the only difference is this will have peanut butter frosting and added decorations. So again I hope this is fun and easy for you. Enjoy!

Cocoa Mill Brownies:

  • 2 sticks of butter (softened)
  • 6 to 8 ounces Cocoa Mill dark chocolate
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (can use whole wheat if desired, tastes just as good)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  1. In a saucepan melt 1 stick of butter and the chocolate, stirring continually so not to burn the chocolate.  Set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl place 1 stick of butter, sugar, powdered sugar and vanilla mix together.  Add eggs and mix again. Add flour and salt mix until well blended.  Add chocolate and stir until batter is chocolate through and through.  Add nuts last if desired.
  3. Pour batter into a buttered 13 x 9 x 2 baking pan. Bake at 325 degrees F for 35 – 40 minutes or until a knife stuck in comes out clean.
  4. Cool in pan on wire rack.

While the brownies are cooling start making your Peanut Butter Frosting:

Peanut Butter Frosting:
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 4-5 Tbsp. milk
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
You will also need, Peanut Butter Cups, 1/2 cup of white frosting, and chocolate chips for the eyes and white icing if you want to pipe mouths on too.
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Instructions
  1. For the peanut butter frosting, blend together peanut butter, powdered sugar, butter, and milk in a stand mixer for 3-4 minutes or until light and fluffy. If it is too stiff, add a bit more milk so it is easy to pipe.
  2. Using Wilton tip 233, pipe the peanut butter “hair” onto the top of a brownie in whatever way you’d like. Then use upside down Cocoa Mill Peanut Butter Cups to place eyes on your monster. Put a tiny dollop of white icing on top of the Peanut Butter Cup then place a chocolate chip in the center to use as an eyeball.
  3. If desired, use a decorating bag, small tip and white icing to pipe smile onto your monster brownie. Or you can leave them with just the eyes!


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Spooky Spider Cookies

Chocolate Peanut Butter Spider Cookies

choco pb spider

Alright, it is the first cold day in Fall and the first day of October, I am pumped for Halloween! I will, however, curb my enthusiasm with yummy recipes that are rather ghoulish in celebration of this Fall’s Halloween. I hope these recipes will be fairly easy and fun for you to share with friends, coworkers, or family.
These cute and creepy spider cookies are made on a peanut butter cookie base filled with a chocolate truffle .

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 24 round chocolate truffles
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
    • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
    • 48 candy eyes

    Directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
    2. Place the softened butter and peanut butter in the mixer and beat until fluffy. Then add both sugar and beat again until fluffy. Scrape the bowl and beat in the vanilla and egg.
    3. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Turn the mixer on low to slowly incorporate the flour mixture.
    4. Roll the cookie dough into 24 – 1 1/2 tablespoon balls and spread 12 out on each cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven. Quickly use a pestle to press a cavity in the middle of each cookie. Then place back in the oven and bake another 6-10 minutes, until golden.
    5.  Once the cookies are out of the oven, cool until almost at room temperature (but not very warm) and place a truffle in the cavity of each cookie. If the cookies are too warm, the truffle will melt. If the cookies are cool, the truffle won’t stick. (You can also wait until the cookies are completely cool, then glue the truffles in with chocolate to be safe.)
    6. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until melted and smooth. Scoop the melted chocolate in a zip bag. Close the bag and snip off a small portion of one corner to create a hole. Pipe 8 legs on each cookie, starting from the truffle body down.
    7. Then use the remaining melted chocolate to glue 2 eyes onto each truffle spider. Cool until the chocolate is firm and serve.     choco pb spider1Enjoy!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        PRINT RECIPE (Thanks to A Spicy Perspective for this fun recipe!)

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.

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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 Goulash

As my husband counts down the days to his fantasy football draft, hunting season, and the start of the NFL Football season, I am reminded that summer is in it’s end days. Fall is closing in with it’s crisp cool mornings and the changing of leaves. I am a fan of Fall so the change in season is welcome with me.

This recipe is a taste of Fall. I hope you enjoy!

Chocolate Goulash:

You will need

1 lb. ground hamburger

1 20 oz canned venison cut into cubes (or substitute whatever kind of meat you would like).

3 -14.5 oz diced tomatoes

1 onion

1 green pepper

3/4 cup sour cream

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

2 1/2 tsp. of salt

1 1/2 tsp. of pepper

1 1/2 oz Cocoa Mill’s Bittersweet Chocolate

1 tsp. toasted and crushed cumin seeds

10 peppercorns toasted and crushed

2 tsp. minced garlic

2 tsp. parsley flakes

1/2 tsp. horseradish minced (or creamed)

1 tsp. lemon juice

2 Tbsp. honey

1/8 cup of white vinegar

12 oz Tri-color rotini

1. In a large sauce pan combine cooked venison, tomatoes, sour cream, coriander, 2 tsp. of salt, 1 tsp. of pepper, toasted and crushed cumin and peppercorns, cumin, parsley, bittersweet chocolate and garlic. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes, then reduce to a simmer stirring occasionally.

2. Chop the green peppers and onions place in a skillet with with ground beef, cook until beef is done. Drain the grease and add meat and veggies to the saucepan.

3. In a small bowl mix the horseradish, lemon juice, honey, and white vinegar until well blended. Add to the sauce pan.

4. In a separate saucepan cook the rotini (about 7 minutes) al dente. Drain and add to the goulash. Simmer for 10 minutes. Serve immediately and Enjoy!