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.

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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:

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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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Bird’s Nest Cookies

easter basket

Every holiday Cocoa Mill Chocolate Shop is bustling as we hurry to make the appropriate seasonal chocolates that so many people have come to incorporate into their holiday traditions. This Spring we are busy making custom Easter baskets filled with Peanut Butter or Coconut Eggs, Chocolate Bunnies and many more fabulous confections. The smell of melting chocolate never gets old; it is howeegg2 (3)ver our job, so finding time and energy for fun Holiday activities and special time making memories with our children takes planning and preparation. Of course we will dye our Easter eggs and prepare for the Easter bunny to visit our house, as well as learn about what Easter truly means to our family, but this year I thought that I would do a little extra, a little more.

 

I know that this is an easy and simple recipe but I thought that it would work perfectly for and added Easter activity. We will be making The tried and true Bird’s Nest cookies, the only difference is we will be sprucing it up with Cocoa Mill’s gourmet white chocolate. So step aside chocolate or butterscotch chips, this isn’t your grandmother’s bird’s nest cookie (although I know grandma would enjoy them too :)ha ha ).

 

 

 

Bird’s Nest Cookies

 

What you will need:

 

white chocolate chunks

peanutbutter

 

How to make the cookies:

    1. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.
    2. Place White Chocolate and peanut butter in a microwave-safe container. Heat on 50% power for 1 minute. Stir, and repeat, until chocolate is melted.
    3. Stir in chow -mein noodles until fully coated.
    4. Drop by tablespoonful onto prepared baking sheet.
    5. Use your thumb and press down in the center to form a nest shape.
    6. Place a few candy robin’s eggs in the center of each nest for eggs.
    7. Refrigerate until firm.

 

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Enjoy!

 

Thoughts for Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day can be traced back to the Ancient Greeks and Romans who held festivals in honor of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele.

The ancient Greeks held an annual spring festival dedicated to honor the maternal goddesses Rhea. The wife of Cronus, Rhea was the mother of many deities of Greek mythology.

Ancient Romans also celebrated a spring festival, called Hilaria dedicated to the mother goddess Cybele. Ceremonies in honor of Cybele began some 250 years before Christ was born. The celebration was held on the Ides of March by making offerings in the temple of Cybele,  this festival lasted for about three days.

Mothering Sunday, from the UK is the most recent celebration, dating back to the 1600’s. This Christian festival was once a major tradition in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe, it fell on the fourth Sunday in Lent, it was a time when people would return to their “mother church”. (Much like homecoming that is celebrated in churches today when people return to their home church for a special service and a meal afterwards).

Mothering Sunday eventually took a more secular route when children would present their mothers with gifts and flowers to show their appreciation. Mothering Sunday eventually faded out but regained new life when it merged into the American born Mother’s Day in the 30’s and 40’s. In World War II servicemen would purchase trinkets to send back home to their Mother’s or wives.

In 1872 Julia Ward Howe (writer of the Battle Hymn of the Republic) suggested in her “Mother’s Peace Day Proclamation” that Mother’s Peace Day be celebrated on the second Sunday in June. This was to be a day that Mother’s would stand united against war and be dedicated to peace.

Around the same time  Ann Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia began holding meetings taught local women how to properly care for their children. These meetings became a unifying force in a region of the country still divided over the Civil War. In 1868 Jarvis organized “Mothers’ Friendship Day,” where mothers gathered with former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation.

The efforts of Ann Reeves Jarvis’ daughter Anna Jarvis gave birth to the official Mother’s Day holiday in the 1900s. After her mother’s 1905 death, Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother’s good faith efforts as well as all good Mother’s sacrifices. She used financial backing from a Philadelphia store owner named John Wanamaker and proceeded to organize the first Mother’s Day celebration at a church in Grafton, West Virginia. Seeing the success of the first Mother’s Day celebration she set out on a long journey to make the celebration a National Holiday.

By 1912 many States and churches celebrated Mother’s Day. Jarvis finally succeeded in her quest when President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day  in 1914.

Anna Jarvis had envisioned Mother’s Day as a personal day for families where they could gather together and spend time making precious memories. It wasn’t long after Mother’s Day became a national holiday before florists, card companies and other merchants capitalized on its popularity. This infuriated Anna Jarvis, she spent all her personal assets fighting to have Mother’s Day removed as a National Holiday because it had turned into something entirely different from her vision. By the time of her death in 1948, Anna Jarvis was penniless and confined to a sanitarium.


From Goddesses to penniless, motherless widows, Mother’s day has seen great extremes. Mother’s have fought and struggled throughout the years to make this world a better place for their children to grow up in; they are ever persevering the face of adversity, sacrificing in times of want and above all loving in all circumstances.

Celebrate the Mother you love and those who have loved you this Mother’s Day.

Beautiful Mother's Day Box of Assorted Chocolates

Information for this article gathered from History.com and mothersdaycelebration.com and cocoamill.com

Holy Mole: Chocolate Chicken

 The windows were down and a nice summer breeze was blowing through the car as we were driving home from work.  My girls asked their usual question, “Mommy, what’s for dinner?”

“I’m not sure what we are having tonight, but tomorrow we are having Chocolate Chicken.”  I responded nonchalantly, knowing this information will provoke some sort of contorted face and then perhaps a discussion.

“Ewwww. That’s gross.”  My nine and five-year olds say in unison.

“Chicken and chocolate do not go together Mom.” My nine-year old states as if she’s been cooking for years.

“Well if that’s what you’re cooking then I’m not eating it.” My five-year old informed me.

The girls continue to question my sanity and I just smile as we continue our ride home.

The following day we make our way to the grocery store to gather the ingredients for our chocolate chicken dish.  The girls watch very intently as I carefully select the chiles, spices, and tomatoes.

” Is that all we need?”  My nine-year old asks?

“Yep, that’s it!” I respond

“Does that mean we can go home now?” My five-year old asks impatiently.

“Yep, let’s go.” I answer, and just like that we are off on our journey to make the chocolate chicken.

Braised Chicken with Chocolate Mole Sauce:

You will need:

10 dried Ancho chiles

4 dried Chiles Negros

1/3 cup sesame seeds

1 tsp. allspice

1 tsp. ginger

1/2 tsp. chili powder

2 tsp. cumin

2 tsp. coriander

1/4 tsp ground cloves

20 black peppercorns

1 tsp cinnamon stick

5 Tbsp of butter or lard

1/4 cup of raisins

1 corn tortilla broken into pieces

4 tomatillos

10 cherry tomatoes

5 garlic cloves peeled

1 small onion chopped

5 1/3 cups of chicken stock

3  ounces Cocoa Mill Bittersweet Chocolate; coarsely chopped

Salt, pepper, garlic powder, dry mustard

1 large package boneless skinless chicken thighs, 3-4 large chicken breasts

2 Tbsp chopped cilantro

Olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 275 degrees F

1. In a medium bowl cover the dried chiles with boiling water and let stand for 30  minutes.

2. In a large skillet combine the spices: sesame seeds, all spice, ginger, chili powder, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and peppercorns. Toast the spices over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. Transfer to blender or food processor and grind to a fine powder.

3. In the same skillet melt 1 Tbsp of butter. Stir in raisins and tortilla. Cook the mixture until the raisins are nice and plump and the tortilla is lightly toasted (about 5 minutes). Transfer into a bowl.

4. In the same skillet add tomatillos and cherry tomatoes. Blister the skins for about 12 minutes. set aside.

5. Staying with the same skillet add onions and garlic cloves, cook until lightly browned (about 10 minutes)

6. In a food processor chopped all the tomatoes, onion and garlic. 

7. Blend the raisins and tortilla and 1/3 cup of stock in the food processor.

8.  Melt 1 Tbsp of butter in skillet, add vegetable mixture, spice powder and cook five minutes, drain chiles and 5 cups of chicken stock, cover and let simmer for 1 hour.

9. In a bowl add 1 Tbsp of salt, 2 tsp pepper, 2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp coriander powder, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp dry mustard. Mix together and rub on chicken.

10. In a skillet  heat a splash of olive oil and 1 Tbsp of butter until melted. Add chicken and brown on each side for 3-4 minutes. Transfer into a 9 x 13 casserole dish.

11. Chop the 3 ounces of Cocoa Mill Bittersweet Chocolate and place in food processor, remove chiles for the sauce and place in food processor over chocolate, mix until you have a thick paste, add back into the sauce, heat for an additional 15 minutes.

12. Take half of the sauce and spoon over the chicken, cover with aluminum foil and place in the oven and cook for 3 hours.

Serve with rice and a nice summer salad. Enjoy!

Side note: My girls thoroughly enjoyed the “Chocolate Chicken” and cleaned their plates.