Sunday

Peppermint Fudge Recipe





One of my favorite things to make during the holidays is peppermint fudge. Every year, I use my friend Shane's excellent fudge recipe. He is a fudge genius. It's quick and easy, and pretty flexible to let me use whatever kind of chips/candy I can get my hands on. Seems to always come out just fine.

This peppermint fudge is something easy to put into little gift bags and give to coworkers, teachers, or friends for Christmas gifts. Yahoo! DIY, who sponsored this post, has quite a few neato holiday things you can make yourself and share with others like DIY Christmas Cards to make in 5 minutes and DIY Party Host Gifts to Make and Bring.



Peppermint Fudge Recipe
Ingredients and Materials:
8x8 disposable foil pan
white sugar
stick of butter
can of evaporated milk
jar of marshmallow fluff
bag of Hershey's chocolate mint kisses or Andes mints, or Andes mint baking chips
bag of chocolate chips
peppermint extract (Don't spend a mint on mint extract, make it yourself)
a few peppermints or a candy cane to crush
2 little ziploc bags
hammer

Instructions:
To make this process smoother, butter your disposable foil pan ahead of time. Also, unwrap your Hershey’s kisses or other candy that comes in a wrapper ahead of time and have it ready.

Start with:
• 1 1/2 cups white sugar
• 1 stick of butter
• (5oz.) evaporated milk
• 1 (7oz.) jar of marshmallow cream
Combine above ingredients in a heavy, larger size sauce pan over medium heat. Stir constantly. Once boiling, continue to stir and cook for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and immediately add the following:
• 2 bags of Hershey’s Chocolate Mint kisses unwrapped, (or one bag of kisses and one bag of just TollHouse Chocolate Chips)
• 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract
Once combined, immediately pour into the buttered 8 x 8 disposable foil pan.

Double bag your peppermints or candy cane and hammer them into dust. (Luka calls this game CANDY CRUSH) Take out the peppermint candy dust and sprinkle on top of the warm fudge. Use a small piece of wax paper to lay on top and press the dust into the fudge a little.

Let set in refrigerator for a few hours. Take out, set on counter for 30 minutes. Cut the foil pan off of the fudge, and then slice into squares.



Yahoo is the kind sponsor of my blog this month, and of this conversation. Check out all the DIY tutorials they have to offer. You can find Yahoo DIY on Facebook and Twitter.

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Mommy's Wish List Disclosure: Thank you Yahoo! for sponsoring this post. While this was a sponsored opportunity from Yahoo!, all content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Friday

DIY Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe.




I am so addicted to the Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks. I actually *scream* in the store like a teenage girl at a Robert Pattinson sighting when I get one of those register receipts that lets me go take a survey and be rewarded with a free tall beverage of my choice. My choice? There is no choice. Pumpkin Spice Latte.

This past week I became obsessed with duplicating *to the best of my ability* the Pumpkin Spice Latte at home, so I could have one all day every day! Wheee! After sweetly asking my barista if I could read the label ingredients on the special Pumpkin Spice Latte Sauce (it is really a sauce, not a syrup), I discovered a few things that sent me off in the right direction. Key to that creamy pie flavor is actually using real pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, and Torani Pumpkin Pie or Pumpkin Spice Syrup. Warning: We are NOT counting calories on this drink, people. Focus on the fact that it has pumpkin in it. A superfood. A superfood with lots of vitamins!

My finished product after hours of experimenting did take the form of a sauce, which I shall keep in a bottle in my refrigerator. This bottle of sauce should last me a LOT of lattes, and make me a super happy mommy from now until Christmas.

DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe (The Secret Sauce)
1 can 15oz of pumpkin
1 can 14oz of sweetened condensed milk
6 teaspoons of Torani Pumpkin Pie syrup
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract or Vanilla

Dump all this in your blender and make sure it's all mixed up good. Put it in a bottle, and keep it in your fridge. This is your Secret Sauce for your Pumpkin Spice Latte.

The Pumpkin Spice Latte (One Serving)
1 tablespoon espresso grind coffee (I like to even use Pumpkin Spice flavored coffee which you can usually get at World Market! Espresso grind is like powder, and it makes for extra strong coffee in a regular coffee maker. If you have a grinder, put regular grind coffee in there and pulverize it until it is powder.)

10oz water (this will make your coffee stronger than a typical 12oz portion of water)

Brew your coffee using the above proportions. Pour it into a BIG coffee cup. Add 6 Tablespoons of Secret Sauce. Add 3 Tablespoons of milk. Stir together. Done! Now you're in Pumpkin Spice Latte Heaven. And it didn't cost you $4.50 a cup. You can, of course, put some whipped cream on top. 

Find Torani for yourself at these places:

World Market
Walmart
Most major grocery stores
Amazon


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Sunday

How to carve a Halloween pumpkin the easy way.




I watch Martha Stewart frost cookies, swirl ribbon, and carve magnificent jack-o-lanterns and I think WHY NOT ME? She's so cool. And I drool. In the past, I've left pumpkin carving to the manly man in my house, the one with the big knife. Daddy. I must be a big ol' wimp because I have always had the hardest time, physically, carving a pumpkin. BUT, yesterday I took a stand and decided not to let the pumpkin beat me. I learned from the carving pro Matthew McIntosh a few simple steps that made pumpkin carving as easy as Martha Stewart makes it look. Really. And these pictures? Yes, I actually carved this pumpkin.

My Martha Stewart Pumpkin Carving Tricks
First, remember that when you cut the top of your pumpkin off to make a lid, cut at an angle so that the lid does not fall into the pumpkin. Stop laughing, this was not a no-brainer to me. Then, seriously, invest in a Pumpkin Masters Pumpkin Carving Kit. This pumpkin tool box makes all the difference. I will never go back to using spoons and sharp knives.



Scrape out the inside of the pumpkin. Since I just carving a design into the skin of my pumpkin, not cutting it all the way thru, I want to scrape the inside of the pumpkin on the side the design will be on, down to about 1/2 inch thick. (That way when I put a light inside, my design will glow where there is no outer skin.) The scraping spatula makes this waaaaay easier than using a spoon.



Find a Halloween stencil or template that you'd like to become the design on your pumpkin, print it out,  and tape it to the outside of the pumpkin. (The Pumpkin Masters Kit comes with pages and pages of stencils by the way)



Take the sharp pointy tool from your kit, (or something like a toothpick or icepick) and poke tiny holes along the design. This will transfer the pattern to cut onto your pumpkin skin. Then take off your stencil.



Rub white flour into the surface of the pumpkin. You will see the flour will fill the tiny holes and illuminate them, making your stencil pattern look like a connect-the-dots pattern. Feelin' like Martha yet? I sure was at this point.

Use the sharp edge of a knife or the X-Acto looking tool to basically connect the dots, cutting a line from dot-to-dot to cut out your picture. Then, use the pointed, chiseled, X-Acto knife in the tool kit to scrape off the dark orange pumpkin skin in the negative areas on the pattern a bit at a time, revealing the light pumpkin flesh underneath. (One of those wood carving curved scooper tools works ok for this too. I remember using that in art school. Then I remember going to the emergency room.)



Now, mix up a little cup of bleach-water and paint it on to all the revealed surfaces of pumpkin flesh. This will kill the bacteria that causes your pumpkin to mold so fast. And finally, rub Vaseline onto all the exposed surfaces as this will lock in the moisture that prevents your pumpkin from drying up and shriveling so fast. Doing both of these steps will net you another 3-5 days of perfect pumpkin after carving. Are those Martha tricks or what?



Finally, put a Sylvania LED DOT-it Light inside the pumpkin to light it. Then, you don't have to worry about catching your pumpkin on fire (did it) or turning it black with candle smoke (also did it). There, don't you feel all superior now? Take that, Martha Stewart.

Saturday

How to celebrate the 4th of July in the 70s.


We were so patriotic, we even lived in a house that started with a "76"

Can I just say that man, I wish I had even one dress as cool as the one my mother wore on the Fourth of July in 1970? Of course, I'm not lookin' too shabby with my matchy-matchy shoes and purse.

As we pause to celebrate our nation's birthday next week at either Kaboom Town in Addison, or Fair Park Fourth downtown, I am reminded of my childhood patriotism. My neighborhood knew how to celebrate a nation's birthday, I'll tell you what.

Top Five Ways to Celebrate the 4th of July in the 70s.
1. Play Reveille on your front porch at 6am. What. Your mother didn't do this?

2. Shoot off a real cannon. After the reveille. Duh.

3. Roast an entire pig in your backyard. What. You mean your ex-marine neighbor across the street didn't roast an entire pig in his smoker, after shooting off the cannon in sync with your mother's reveille, for the whole block to eat on the 4th of July, scaring all the little kids half to death by chasing them around with a pig's head?

4. Blow up tennis balls. And soda cans. And Matchbox cars. And Barbies. One word: M80.

5. Play Poker. The great American past-time, at least from my perspective. I learned how to play 21 and Between the Sheets when I was five. For money. While eating a roasted pig, yo.

All those Fourth of July Pinterest Boards seem so passive. However, they do seem a tad safer than your little brother seeing if he can hit your head with a Roman Candle from up the block. (And, yes, he can.)

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