Sunday, November 22, 2009

Have a warm and cozy Sip-able Sweet Party

This is a fun and more than slightly impressive way to get friends and family together for a party in the wintertime that does not require a holiday. There is something for everyone and it’s rather easy on the host or hostess as well.

It’s fun to send wacky invitations to those you’d like to gather with by mail or email. You can require that those attending all wear their ugliest or wildest sweater or hat or , *teehee* leg warmers.

The Recipes:

Rich and Thick Hot Chocolate with 3 variations
makes 4 cups (eight 1/2 cup servings) *get real, make a bit more, it’s a party*

-2 teaspoons cornstarch
-4 cups milk, divided
-2 (3.5 oz) dark chocolate bars (at least 70% cacao), chopped *for the love of God, do not use hershey bars*
-1/3 cup honey
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-Pinch of salt (tip: do not omit the salt. It enhances the rich, smooth taste of the chocolate while buffering the naturally occurring bitterness.)
-Marshmallow whipped cream (recipe to follow) or Whipped party spoons (recipe to follow)

1) Whisk together cornstarch and 1/2 cup milk until smooth.
2) Cook remaining 3 1/2 cups milk over medium heat until bubbles appear around edge of saucepan (about 4 minutes; do NOT boil). Whisk in chocolate, honey, vanilla extract and salt until blended and smooth. Whisk in cornstarch mixture.
3) Bring milk mixture to light boil, whisking frequently (about 4 minutes). Remove from heat. Let cool just slightly. (mixture will thicken as it cools) Serve immediately with marshmallow whipped topping or whipped party spoons, if desired.


Mexican Rich and Thick Hot Chocolate

Prepare recipe as directed through step 2, whisking in 1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder with chocolate. Proceed with recipe as directed.

Orange Almond Rich and Thick Hot Chocolate
Prepare recipe as directed up to step 2, whisking in 3 tablespoons orange juice and 2 tablespoons almond liqueur with chocolate. Proceed with recipe as directed.

Grown-Up Rich and Thick Hot Chocolate
Prepare recipe as directed up too step 2, whisking in 1/2 cup Southern Comfort with chocolate. Proceed with recipe as directed.

Marshmallow Whipped Cream
makes about 1 1/2 cups

*maximum make-ahead time is 2 hours*

-1/2 cup whipping cream
-1 tablespoon powdered sugar
-1/2 cup miniature marshmallows

1) Beat whipping cream at medium high speed with an electric mixer until foamy; gradually add powdered sugar, beating until soft peaks form. Fold in marshmallows. Serve immediately, or cover and chill for up to 2 hours.

Everyday Hot Chocolate
makes about 4 1/2 cups

Kids will love to add stir-ins to theirs, while the adults may want to go fancier. Offer Whipped Topping Dollops on Spoons to add to theirs.

-4 cups milk
-2/3 cup chocolate syrup
-3 tablespoons hot fudge topping
-Pinch of salt
-Stir-ins: crushed hard peppermint candies, chopped thin creme de menthe chocolate mints, miniature marshmallows, milk chocolate kisses, cherry cordial creme kisses
-Whipped Party Spoons

1) Cook milk in a large non-aluminum saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently, 6 to 8 minutes or until thoroughly heated (do NOT boil). Whisk in chocolate syrup, fudge topping, and salt, whisking vigorously until chocolate is well blended and mixture is frothy. Serve immediately with desired stir-ins, if desired, or Whipped Party Spoons.

Whipped Party Spoons
makes 8 dollops

-parchment paper
-1 cup thawed frozen whipped topping
-1/4 cup desired topping (chopped toffee bars, shaved white chocolate, ground cinnamon and nutmeg, finely chopped crystallized ginger, chocolate covered coffee beans)

1) Line jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Place 8 spoons on pan, and freeze 15 minutes.
2) Spoon whipped topping into a 1 quart zip top plastic freezer bag. (do not seal) Snip corner of bag to make a 1/2 inch hole. Pipe dollops onto spoon. Freeze 5 minutes.
3) Sprinkle each dollop with about 1 1/2 teaspoon of desired topping. Freeze dollops 45 minutes. Serve immediately on a tray. Or, transfer to a 13x9 inch baking pan; cover tightly and freeze up to 2 days.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Chewy Granola Bars: Healthy Snack


Teach your kids to connect with their food and they will snack healthfully for life.
Yes, kids are definitely picky eaters, well most of them are. Some kids will eat and try anything given to them. Yay, for those parents.

Healthy snacking doesn't have to be hard. Take advantage of a child's natural curiosity about food. Take them to the farmers market, get them involved in gardening and cooking. You can simply help them grow herbs in a window box if you haven't got garden space. The earlier you spark their interest, the better for them. Let them choose which bunch of asparagus the family will have with dinner and then let them snap off the ends or let them pick the herbs that will be used in tonight's supper and let them throw them into the pot or pan and give it a stir. Get them involved and the more likely they'll be to try and even finish the dish.

There is nothing exciting about ripping open a bag of processed food. However, it is very exciting to help something grow and be part of the process of cooking it. They'll learn not to eat things that have no resemblance to real food.

You can wrap these healthy treats in wax paper or recycled aluminum foil for taking on the go.

Makes 16 2inch bars

-butter for pan
-1 1/3 cups rolled oats
-1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
-1/2 cup oat bran
-1 1/2 cups crisp brown-rice cereal
-1 cup dried cranberries
-2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
-1/2 cup brown rice syrup
-1/4 cup turbinado sugar
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1/2 teaspoon salt

1) (this is the kids part)
Lightly butter an 8 inch square baking pan. Mix the oats, seeds, oat bran, cereal, cranberries and ginger in a large bowl until well blended.

2) (mom / dad's part)
In a small saucepan, combine rice syrup, sugar, vanilla and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil and starts to thicken, 3-5 minutes.

3) Pour over the oat mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until evenly coated. Spoon into prepared pan and top with a sheet of wax paper. Press the mixture firmly and evenly into the pan. Cool to room temperature. Remove the wax paper and cut into bars. Wrap the bars individually or place them in an airtight container and store at room temperature.

Friday, November 20, 2009



Drakestail was very little. But, tiny as he was, he had brains, for having begun with nothing he amassed a hundred crowns.

Now the King of the country made a personal visit to borrow his hoard. And, my word, Drakestail was more than a little proud of having lent money to the King! But after the first and second year, seeing they never even paid the interest, he became uneasy and resolved to go and see his Majesty.

So one fine morning Drakestail very spruce and fresh, headed down the road singing "Quack, quack, quack, when shall I get my money back?"

He had not gone far when he met his friend Fox. "Good-morning, neighbor," says friend Fox, "Where are you off to so early?"

"I am going to see the King for what he owes me."

"Oh! take me with thee!"

Drakestail said to himself, "One can't have too many friends." "I will," said he. "But make yourself quite small, get into my throat, go into my gizzard, and I will carry you."

"Happy thought!" said friend Fox.

He takes bag and baggage, and presto, he was gone like a letter into the post. Drakestail was off again, singing "Quack, quack, quack, when shall I get my money back?"

He had not gone far when he met his lady friend Ladder leaning on her wall. "Good-morning, my duckling," says the lady friend, "Where are you going so boldly?"

"I am going to see the King for what he owes me."

"Oh, take me with thee!" said friend Ladder.

Drakestail said to himself, "One can't have too many friends." I will!" said he. "But with your wooden legs you will soon be tired. Make yourself quite small, get into my throat, go into my gizzard, and I will carry you."

"Happy thought!" said friend Ladder. Nimbly, her bag and baggage goes to keep company with friend Fox. "Quack, quack, quack," Drakestail is off again, singing.

A little farther along and he meets his sweetheart, friend River. "There my cherub, why is my handsome so lonesome on this muddy road?"

"I am going to see the King for what he owes me." "Oh, take me with thee!" said friend River.

Drakestail said to himself, "One can't have too many friends." "I will," said he. "But you who sleep while you walk will soon be tired. Make yourself quite small, get into my throat, go into my gizzard, and I will carry you."

"Ah, happy thought!" said friend River. She takes bag and baggage, and glop, glop, glop, she takes her place between friend Fox and friend Ladder. Then "Quack, quack, quack," Drakestail is off again singing as before.

A little farther along he meets comrade Wasp's Nest, maneuvering his wasps. "Well, good morning Drakestail," said comrade Wasp's Nest, "Where are we bound for so spruce and fresh?"

"I am going to see the King for what he owes me."

"Oh, take me with thee!" said friend Wasp's Nest. Drakestail said to himself, "One can't have too many friends." "I will," said he. "But with your battalion to drag along, you will soon be tired. Make yourself quite small, get into my throat, go into my gizzard, and I will carry you."

"By Jove, that's a good idea!" said comrade Wasp's Nest. He took the same road to join the other with all his party. Drakestail was off singing, "Quack, quack, quack, when shall I get my money back?"

He arrived at the capital, and threaded his way straight up High Street till he came to the King's palace. He strikes the door with the huge knocker. "Who is there?" asks the porter, putting his head out of the wicket.

"Tis I, Drakestail. I wish to speak to the King."

"Speak to the King! That's easily said! The King is dining, and will not be disturbed."

"Tell him that it is I, and he knows well why I must see him."

The porter shut his wicket and went up to tell the King, who was just sitting down to dinner with a napkin round his neck with all his ministers. "Good, good!" said the King, laughing, "I know what it is! Make him come in, and put him with the turkeys and chickens."

The porter returned and said to Drakestail, "Have the goodness to enter." "Good!" said Drakestail to himself, "I shall now see how they eat at Court." "This way, this way," said the porter. "One step farther, a little more. There, there you are."

"How? What? In the poultry yard?" Imagine how angry Drakestail was! "Ah! So that's it!" said he. "Wait! I compel you to receive me. Quack, quack, quack, when shall I get my money back?"

The turkeys and chickens are creatures who don't like those that are not like themselves. When they saw the newcomer they rushed at him all together to overwhelm him with pecks. "I am lost!" said Drakestail to himself, when by good luck he remembered his comrade, friend Fox, and he cried, "Reynard, Reynard, come out of your earth, or Drakestail's life is of little worth."

Then friend Fox, who was waiting for these words, hastened out, threw himself on the wicked fowls, and scared them back to their corners. Drakestail, quite content, began to sing again, "Quack, quack, quack, when shall I get my money back?"

Well, the King who was still at the table heard this refrain, and was terribly annoyed and ordered them to throw this tail of Drake into the well! It was done as he commanded. Drakestail was in despair of getting himself out of such a deep hole, when he remembered his lady friend, Ladder.

"Ladder, Ladder, come out of thy hold, or Drakestail's day will soon be told." Friend Ladder, who was only waiting for these words, hastened out and leaned her two arms on the edge of the well. Then Drakestail climbed nimbly on her back and with a hop he was in the yard where he began to sing louder than ever.

When the King, who was still at the table laughing at the trick he had played on his creditor, heard him again reclaiming his money, he became livid with rage. He commanded that the furnace should be heated and this tail of Drake be thrown into it. The furnace was soon hot, but his time Drakestail was not so afraid; he could count on his sweetheart, River.

"River, River, outward flow, or to death Drakestail must go." Friend River hastened out, and threw herself into the furnace which she flooded. After that she flowed growling into the hall of the palace. Drakestail, of course quite content, begins to swim, singing deafeningly, "Quack, quack, quack, when shall I get my money back?"

The King was still at the table, and thought himself quite sure of his game; but when he heard Drakestail singing again, he became furious and got up from the table, brandishing his fists. "Bring him here, and I'll cut him to bits! Bring him here quick!" cried he.

The King's ministers tackled Drakestail and forced him into a serving dish. Deep in the dish Drakestail feverishly chanted, "Wasp's Nest, Wasp's Nest, call your battalion or Drakestail will soon be served up with scallions!"

My friend Wasp's Nest led the swarm to attack all enemy hands so they could not strike back! Unknown to the palace and all those inside, the King was allergic to Wasp's poisonous sting. Swollen and heavy he met his demise, and the ladies and gentlemen broke out in cries!

These cries were full of surprise and joy, for planted on the royal throne was the kingdom's Viceroy! They took the newly polished crown and placed it on that of Drakestail, whom it fitted like wax.

Thus he became King. "And now," said he after a special ceremony, "ladies and gentlemen, let's go to supper. I am so very hungry!"

Goldilocks and the Three Bears


Once upon a time, there were three bears, Father Bear, Mother Bear and Baby Bear.

They lived in the woods and were very happy except for one thing, Baby Bear had no-one to play with.

One morning, Mother Bear made porridge for breakfast and while the porridge was cooling down, Father Bear said "Let's go for a walk!" So they did.

Somebody else was out for a walk that morning. It was a little girl called Goldilocks. When she came to the bears' house, the door was open and Goldilocks could see three bowls of porridge on the table.

"Ooh...I'm rather hungry!" said Goldilocks.
So she tried the first bowl. It was too hot.
Then she tried the second bowl. That was too cold.
Then she tried the third bowl. That was just right. So she ate it all up.
Then Goldilocks said, "Ooh.... I'm rather tired!" So she went upstairs to have a rest.

She tried the first bed. It was too soft.
She tried the second bed. Oh no, that was too hard.
She tried the third bed. That was just right. So she lay down and fell fast asleep.

Soon the three bears came back from their walk, ready for their breakfast.

Father Bear said "Who's been eating my porridge?"
Mother Bear said "Who's been eating my porridge?"
Baby Bear said "Somebody's been eating my porridge and they've eaten it all up!"

The three bears went upstairs.

Father Bear said "Who's been sleeping in my bed?"
Mother Bear said "Who's been sleeping in my bed?"
Baby Bear said "Somebody's been sleeping in my bed and she's still there!"

When Goldilocks woke up and saw the three bears she was so surprised she ran straight down the stairs.

"Don't go!" said Baby Bear. "Stay and play with me! Please!"
So Goldilocks stayed and played with Baby Bear and Mother Bear made them all some more delicious porridge.

The End.

The Elves and the Shoemaker


Once upon a time lived a very poor shoemaker.

He only had enough leather left to make one pair of shoes.

One night before he went to bed, he cut out the shoes so he could start work on them the next day.

The next morning, when the shoemaker woke up, he was amazed to find a beautiful pair of shoes standing on his table, where he had left the leather.

They were made perfectly!

In fact, the shoes were so beautiful that when someone came to try them on they paid twice as much as the shoemaker asked for them!

The shoemaker could now buy enough leather for two pairs of shoes.

Before going to bed, he laid out the leather for the two pairs of shoes.

When he woke up - lo and behold - there were two wonderfully made pairs of shoes standing on the table!

Soon the shoemaker became a very rich man.

One night, the shoemaker and his wife decided to stay hidden in the shop to see who crept in to make the beautiful shoes.

They were very surprised to see two very little elves who came into the shop and stitched the shoes together very carefully.

The peculiar thing about the elves was that they wore no clothes.

The shoemaker's wife wanted to show the little men how grateful they were for their help so she decided to knit them little socks, sew little trousers and shirts and leave them for them the following night.

When the elves crept into the shop that night and saw the lovely little clothes they were overjoyed.

They leapt about and sang with delight!

The shoemaker and his wife never saw the elves again.

But they would always be grateful to them for showing them how to make such beautiful shoes.

Homemade Crayons


Use old (or designate a thrift store pan for this purpose) non-stick muffin pans or non-stick candy molds in your child's favorite shapes or characters. Another idea is to place cut dixie cups inside muffin tins and peel the paper away when crayons are ready.

Procedure for Rainbow Crayons

Preheat your oven to 250

1. Peel the paper off the crayons

2. Put 5-10 different colors in each muffin or mold space

3. Place the muffin tins or molds in the oven until the crayons melt

4. Let the new crayons cool overnight

5. Remove the crayons the next day

Procedure for CHUNK crayons

sing those seemingly endless broken pieces, use plastic candy or sucker molds found in the craft section of most any store. The kids can pick out their favorite characters. The crayons can be melted in the oven or microwave in a glass measuring cup. This makes it even easier to pour into the molds. A spoon can be used for this also.

Melt crayon pieces

Pour into mold or muffin cups

Let set for 24 hours

Color and create

Procedure for Soap crayons (for bathtime)

7/8 cups of Ivory Snow powdered detergent

1/8 cups of water

Wilton's Cake Food Coloring

Ice cube tray

1. Add the food coloring to the water to make VIVID colors

2. Add the colored water to the Ivory Snow and mix well

3. Press the mixture into the compartments of an ice cube tray

4. Let the mixture set for a couple of days then remove the crayons

Play-dough Recipes


Traditional Play Dough
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • food coloring

Mix all ingredients, adding food coloring last. Stir over medium heat until smooth. Remove from pan and knead until blended smooth. Place in plastic bag or airtight container when cooled. Will last for a long time.

This recipe is the same as the Earth Friendly recipe. The only variance is the amount of ingredients. Therefore, this recipe is earth friendly.

Cornstarch Clay-dough

  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 2 cups salt
  • 1 1/3 cups cold water

Put salt and 2/3 cup water in pan and bring to a boil. Mix cornstarch with 2/3 cup water and mix well. Blend 2 mixtures together and knead into clay. The dough has to be heated as it is combined to set. Makes about 3 cups. This clay can be air dried and then painted. Store unused clay in airtight container in the fridge.

No-Cook Clay Dough
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 cups salt
  • 3 tablespoons alum

Combine ingredients and slowly add water, a little at a time. Mix well with spoon. As mixture thickens, continue mixing with your hands until it has the feel of clay. If it feels too dry, add more water. If it is too sticky, add equal parts of flour and salt.