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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

For Your Information

Please watch this area for important information like updates, food recalls, polls, contests, coupons, and freebies.
  • [January 15, 2016] - It's National Soup Month so this month's posts will focus on soups. Yum!
  • [February 1, 2016] - An interesting report on why you should always choose organic tea verses non-organic: Toxic Tea (pdf format)
  • Sticky Post - Warning: 4ever Recap reusable canning lids. The reports are growing daily of these lids losing their seal during storage. Some have lost their entire season's worth of canning to these seal failures!

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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

As 2013 Draws to an End...

It has been an exciting culinary year!  We have enjoyed a lot of delicious foods, visited several amazing restaurants and made a lot wonderful foodie finds.  And yes, unlike some, I will continue to use the word foodie because it's a fun word that describes us as a family, in a good way. 

The few months have been a bit challenging as far as writing blog posts.  Over the past year, I have made three major life changing decisions.  Although I don't regret doing so, I am still adapting to those changes.  We extended our time spent at our vacation home which had an impact on the posts as well, especially during the last five weeks before Christmas.  I will be making a few changes in the New Year so you can expect to see an increase in posts.  As always the focus will be on home cooking.

Thank-you for being a part of my blogging family over the last year.  May you and yours be blessed in 2014.  Wishing you a Happy New Year...


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas 2013
Merry Christmas to each and everyone!  Thank-you so much for being a part of my blogging family.  I wish you all the peace, joy and magic of the season not only today but everyday.  Special blessings for those traveling today and those who are missing someone this Christmas.  May your table always be laden with delicious foods! 


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Easy Holiday Appetizer - Bacon Wrapped Scallops

The holiday season means entertaining for many which ultimately means serving some type of food.  Appetizers are my go to for entertaining!  They are perfect for those events where a full meal is not planned.  It takes very little time or effort to make appetizers that look fancy, taste delicious and are made with only a few ingredients. 

bacon wrapped scallops
Bacon wrapped scallops are the perfect, easy to make appetizer that is always well received.  I made a tray of them for my husband to take to a small holiday house party.   I used one and a half pounds of 20/30 count per pound scallops and two packages of bacon cut in half.  A serving size of bacon wrapped scallops is 3 at 169 calories, 25 mg protein, 1.5 g total fat, 255 mg sodium and 0 mg carb.  All around bacon wrapped scallops are a healthy appetizer choice.  Be sure to drain before serving and make them healthier by using a low sodium bacon. 

Method:  Cut the package of bacon across the short end in the middle.  Wrap each half slice of bacon around a scallop, secure with a toothpick and place on sided baking sheet.  Bake at 177°C/350°F until scallops are opaque, about 45 minutes.  Carefully remove the baking sheet from the oven keeping it level to avoid spilling the liquid.  Remove the bacon wrapped scallops.  Drain.  Serve warm.

Bacon wrapped scallops should be served warm.  Surprising they do warm up rather well if there are any left overs or if you would like to take them cooked ahead!  If taking bacon wrapped scallops to a gathering, a short distance is best.  Place in a single layer in a shallow baking dish, cover with aluminum foil and wrap lightly with a T-towel.  You can also do all the prep work at home then take them ready to cook.  If you choose this method, be sure to ask the host ahead of time.  Taking the bacon wrapped scallops prepared but uncooked is not suitable for shorter duration gatherings due to timing. 


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Eggnog, A Holiday Tradition

The holidays are filled with a plethora of culinary delights.  Unfortunately, all of these tempting delights can be problematic for those on restricted diets, those with food allergies or intolerances or those simply trying to maintain their weight.  The average person gains one pound over the holiday season although some sources report the average gain is more like 5 to 8 pounds.  In order to lose one pound, a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories is needed.  The good news is, it doesn't matter what you eat be it all carbs or all fat the only requirement to lose weight is a calorie deficit.  If you require 1,550 cal for basic life functions and daily activities per day but you are eating 1,800 calories you will gain weight.  If you are eating 1,450 calories you will lose weight.  The calorie deficit does not need to come from reduced caloric intake though.  Add exercise or increased physical activity and you can eat the required 1.550 cal AND still lose weight because you are creating a calorie deficit through exercise.  One of the easiest ways to help prevent that holiday weight gain is portion control and the second is to be cognizant of the ingredients.  This is especially important if you are on a sodium reduced diet or have food allergies or intolerances.
 

three mug sizes
Pictured are three of our mugs.  Eggnog is usually served in mugs.  The largest mug is 14 oz (397 ml), the medium size is 8 oz (227 ml) and the smallest is 6 oz (170 ml).  The smaller two sizes are the most common sizes for holiday servings of eggnog or hot chocolate.  If the smallest size is not offered, ask for your mug filled 2/3 full or better yet half full.  You will be avoiding the calories in at least 2 oz of eggnog without really missing the larger size.

Eggnog is often spiked with rum.  One ounce of rum will add about 100 calories per drink.  In general, those restricting calories are advised to omit the alcohol however, as long as you are eating your daily requirement for weight maintenance or creating a calorie deficit for weight loss, it really doesn't matter if you add the rum providing you budget your calories to do so. 

a small mug of eggnog ready to be enjoyed
Eggnog is either homemade (traditional, dairy free)  or commercially made.  Our traditional eggnog is made just like my Mom made using whole milk and raw eggs.  Whole milk has 150 calories, 8 g total fat, 35 mg cholesterol, 120 mg sodium, 400 mg potassium, 12 g carbohydrates (11 g sugar) in an 8 ounces.  It also provides Vitamin A (6%), calcium 30%, Vitamin C 4%, Vitamin D (25%) and phosphorous (25%).  The other major nutritional ingredient in homemade eggnog is egg yolk at 55 calories per yolk.  Each yolk also has 210 mg cholesterol for those wishing to avoid dietary cholesterol.   Sugar adds another 15 calories per teaspoon.  Stevia can be substituted for the sugar to reduce the sweetener calories if desired.  A 6 oz mug of homemade eggnog comes in at about 225 calories. 

A 6 oz mug of commercially made whole milk eggnog is about 270 calories.  It is higher in sodium, lower in potassium, has no Vitamin D and double in carbohydrates.  Commercially made eggnog also contains yellow dyes #5 and #6 as well as corn syrup and carrageenan (thickener).  There are concerns with the aforementioned, all of which cause health problems.  Chances are very good at holiday gatherings, the eggnog will be commercially made.   Since commercially made eggnog is higher in calories, lower in nutritional value and contains at least three ingredients that can cause health problems, it may be one of those holiday treats you decide to not indulge in.  Homemade eggnog is high in nutrition and taste, with none of the problems of commercially made eggnog.  However, homemade eggnog can be problematic for those who are lactose intolerant.

A few days ago I came across a dairy free coconut eggnog recipe that would suitable for those who are lactose intolerant or for those following the Paleo diet.  Coconut milk is substituted for whole milk.  While coconut milk is a great substitute for either purpose, it is not suitable for those restricting calories.  Coconut milk has 93 calories in 2 ounces or 279 calories in 6 ounces without the calories of the egg yolks and sweetener which would put a 6 oz mug of this eggnog in the 420 calorie range.  Coconut milk is however, very low in sodium content (9 mg/2 oz) and carbohydrates (2 g/2 oz).

Of the three options, avoid the commercially made eggnog if at all possible.  Be sure to add a sprinkling of nutmeg and a cinnamon stick.  Cinnamon adds flavour while increasing sugar metabolism which aids in weight loss because sugar is burned rather than converted to fat in the body.  Cinnamon is also beneficial for circulatory problems.  Nutmeg improves concentration, increases circulation and lowers cholesterol.   Eggnog is a delicious holiday tradition that you can still indulge in without the guilt even if you are restricting calories. 









Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas Crispies

The holiday season is one of the best times of the year to get a bit of culinary inspiration.  The stores are filled with foods that aren't available any other time of the year.  Folks get creative in the kitchen!  Magazines are filled with holiday recipes and even store flyers have tips and recipes.  Sometimes the inspiration comes from within.  That happened to me recently as soon as I saw a new (one I had not seen before)  product at the grocery store. 

Christmas Crispies ingredients
Peppermint is one of the prominent flavours of the holiday season.  Kraft has responded by making Jet-Puffed peppermint mallows and other holiday themed marshmallows.  These mini marshmallows are naturally flavoured with other natural flavours.  They are pink and white swirled.  The package suggests using these marshmallows in your favourite fudge recipe, sprinkling into hot cocoa and using them to frost cookies or cupcakes.  As soon as I saw them, visions of a Christmas version of the familiar rice krispie squares came to mind.  I use one 12 oz box of Kellogg's rice krispies cereal, on 10 oz bag of Kraft Jet-Puffed peppermint mallows, one 10 oz bag of Nestle Toll House premier which morsels, one SweetNature candy cane (100% natural flavours, no artificial colours) and a little butter to make my Christmas Crispies

Christmas Crispies base formed
I don't make rice krispie squares exactly according to the original recipe.  My husband likes them a bit gooey rather than dry so I've made them that way ever since our newlywed days.  I used a little butter to lightly grease a non-stick baking pan and parchment paper.  I poured the rice krispie cereal into a large bowl then melted the marshmallows in the microwave oven, stirring to a smooth consistency.  I poured the melted marshmallows over the cereal then mixed well.  I filled the baking pan with the mixture and patted down with lightly buttered fingers.  I formed the remainder of the mixture into a rectangle on the parchment paper.  I left the prepared base on the counter to cool and firm up before moving to the next steps.

Christmas Crispies topped with white chocolate and plain squares
I cut the rectangular portion of the base into plain squares.  I melted the white chocolate morsels in the microwave, stirring until smooth then spread over the base mixture in the baking pan.  While the white chocolate was still warm, I sprinkled crushed candy cane over it.  I only used about a tablespoon of the crushed candy cane.  Then I used a flipper to carefully remove the topped base from the baking pan.  At this point, the Christmas Crispies were quite malleable so the flipper provided the needed support to slide the base out of the pan.  I allowed the topped base to cool completely on the counter before cutting into squares.  

Christmas Crispies
I initially cut the Christmas Crispies into 16 squares.  My husband did the taste test.  He declared them delicious but very sweet so I cut the remaining squares in half. The peppermint flavour is not strong, nicely enhanced with the white chocolate and touch of candy cane.  The squares have a pretty pinkish colour.  

I was pleased with the Christmas Crispies that came about simply through a vision.  It really was one of those "I'll bet that would make a tasty square!" as soon as I saw the peppermint marshmallows.  The only change I would make is make the base a bit shallower.  I think it would be easier to omit the baking pan entirely in favour of forming the base free hand the way I usually make rice krispie squares.  I'm sure the Christmas Crispies will be a holiday keeper!


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Hot Chocolate Baubles

Several years ago, I discovered clear glass Christmas bulbs that can be used for personalized baubles.  The first year I used a favourite picture of each of the kids printed on acetate for a very special Christmas keepsake bauble.  Each year I have used the clear baubles to create decorated baubles for gift giving and adding to our collection.  The clear glass baubles can be decorated in so many ways!

hot chocolate bauble ingredients
This year I discovered clear plastic baubles (88¢) at Walmart.  Unlike the clear glass version, the plastic bauble filled with candies or other seasonal dry goodies without the fear of breakage.  I also discovered Kraft Jet-Puffed Mallow Bits (dehydrated mini marshmallows), a new product that is perfect for gifts in jars or this purpose.  They are in the same aisle as the hot chocolate mixes not the aisle where the marshmallows are if you are looking for them.  I used Nestle hot chocolate packets for convenience but any hot chocolate mix including homemade can be used.  Each bauble uses 2 packets of hot chocolate mix.  I crushed a 100% natural candy cane to add that holiday sparkle to the mix. 

filling the hot chocolate bauble
Filling the baubles is not difficult but can be a bit tricky given their design.  There is no flat bottom so they won't stand up by themselves for easy filling.  I used a bowl to help steady the bauble for filling.   A funnel really helps with the filling to keep the layers neat and tidy.  A make-shift funnel can be made using a sheet of wax paper.  I poured two packets of the hot chocolate mix into the bauble.  I removed any hot chocolate powder film from the inside with a Q-tip.  There wasn't a lot but I like neat layers for these types of projects.  I added the mallow bits being careful not to disturb the hot chocolate powder.  I used a knife to help distribute the mallow bits.  Then I added crushed candy cane, not a lot, just enough to give the hot chocolate a holiday sparkle.  It's important to keep the bauble level so the layers don't mix together.

hot chocolate bauble ready for decorating
Once the bauble was filled, I added the curling ribbon bow.  This ribbon easily forms spiral curls when lightly pulled over the back of a knife or scissors.  It isn't expensive and comes in a variety of colours including prints.  Most dollar stores carry a good selection of curling ribbon.  With the ribbon in place, I added the bauble top and a piece of curling ribbon for hanging.  I was quite pleased with the results.  I'm sure the grandkids will be pleased to get their hot chocolate baubles!

The clear plastic baubles could be filled with: loose leaf tea, fruit and tea blends, candies, trail mix, dried fruit mix and so much more.  I recommend filling only half full and use light weight ingredients for the filling.  The bulk food store (eg. Bulk Barn) is an excellent source for fillings suitable for the baubles.  Depending on the recipient, you could also add a small toy if desired.  The limitation will be the size of the opening of the bauble which is about an inch.  Other than that, just let your imagination create a special unique gift for those on your gift giving list.  I hope you enjoy making these Christmas baubles!


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Candy Cane Christmas Magic

If you have ever did a bit of shopping in the quaint little shops in tourist villages, you likely have seen the creative efforts of enterprising folk.  These little packets of goodies have their origins in holiday bake sales and craft shows.  Some of these are so cute, they have gone into commercial production.  These include the little bags of snowman poop (mini marshmallows), bear droppings (chocolate covered raisins), doughnut seeds (Cheerios) and similar.  They generally have a cute little saying which just adds to their appeal.  A couple of days ago, a friend of mine posted a similar idea for growing candy canes on Facebook.  I don't know where she got the idea but I thought it was cute enough to pass along this little piece of Christmas magic!

ingredients for candy canes
This project is really cute, easy to make and kid friendly.  Although granulated sugar and Tic Tacs are used, they are not consumed.  Of note, I had to buy the Tic Tacs specifically for this project as they are not a product we use.  Tic Tacs come in a wide range of colours so you should be able to find a colour to match whatever kind of candy cane you use.  The only thing that is eventually consumed are the candy canes.

I used organic granulated cane sugar because that is what I use but regular granulated sugar could be substituted.   I used SweetNature candy canes made using 100% natural flavours from natural food sources and stripes created from natural colouring found in vegetable juice (likely beet).  While these candy canes are a little more expensive they have no artificial flavour or colours  and they are free of major allergens so I feel a bit better giving them to our grandkids.

planting the candy cane seeds
Any type of container can be used so one with a holiday theme would be really cute.  Initially, I was going to use the bowl in the first picture but substituted a juice glass for demonstration purposes.  I filled the glass with sugar as pictured then planted the candy cane seeds (red Tic Tacs).  Filling the container and planting the seeds is meant to be for your child to do but since I was home alone, well you know how that goes :)  Once your child completes this part, the container can be set in a safe spot until a given time.  For example, let your child plant the seeds a few days before Christmas Day then when he or she wakes that morning, there are the much awaited for candy canes.

grown candy canes
Once your child is safely tucked into bed, fast asleep the night before the candy cane seeds are to sprout, carefully remove the Tic Tacs.  Replace them with the same number of candy canes.  Place the container back into the same position for your child to discover when they wake.  Isn't is a cute idea?

I thought this was really a cute way to create a bit of Christmas magic for the little ones.  I'm sure our grandkids will be filled with anticipation waiting for their candy cane seeds to grow!  It might just be the perfect spot for that Elf on the Shelf to rest while the little ones open presents...


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Gift From the Kitchen - Cookies in a Jar (White Chocolate Chip Cookies Revisited)

 A few days ago, I mentioned I would be focusing on holiday related topics for the remainder of December.  Gift giving is a big component during the holiday season and what better way to bring a smile to a loved one's face than with a gift from the kitchen.  These gifts need not be complicated or expensive but rather they are a gift from the heart :)

white chocolate chip cookies in a jarSo it is with cookies in a jar!  In November of 2009, I shared a very easy white chocolate chip cookies in a jar recipe, perfect for holiday gift giving.  The complete instructions can be found in that post.  A jar of the white chocolate chip cookies in a jar was gifted to one of our kids who still has it on display in their china cabinet!  It brings a smile every time I see it.

Any cookie recipe can be used for a cookie in a jar gift.   Just follow the basic instructions for the white chocolate chip cookies in a jar.  In general, drop cookie recipes with nuts, baking chips, or other chunky ingredients work best for the layering effect. 

Cookies are not exactly health food but you can substitute healthier ingredients if desired.  Use organic granulated cane sugar rather than plain granulated white sugar.  You can substitute any sugar with a sugar replacement like Truvia (natural) or Splenda (artificial).  If you use Truvia, the conversion is ½ c Truvia equals 1 c sugar.  If you use Splenda, it is a 1 to 1 substitution.  Use organic, unbleached flour or substitute organic spelt flour.  The healthier ingredients will increase the cost of each jar slightly but not enough to make them cost prohibitive.   On average, a cookie in a jar gift will cost about $2 in ingredients.  Healthier ingredients will add about 50¢ or less per jar.  You can save on the cost of the ingredients by buying them at a bulk food store. 

The decorative mason jar lids are available year round at Canadian Tire and Home Hardware or online from Bernardin.  Bernardin also sells plastic storage lids for mason jars in standard and widemouth sizes, also available year round.  The one litre mason jars are available year round from the same sources as well as Walmart Canada, and many grocery store chains.  They can often be found on sites like Kijji, or at yard sales and thrift shops.  Older mason jars with glass lids are also suitable for this application giving a retro touch sure to please.  I do not recommend using older mason jars with glass inserts (eg. Gem jars) as these jars are more valuable for home canning use.  Vacuum sealing of the cookies in a jar is optional but a nice touch to keep the mix fresher longer for the recipient.

If you need a few last minute gifts, then cookies in a jar may be just for you! 


Sunday, December 08, 2013

Meatballs for the Masses

The holiday season is a time for gatherings, large and small.  Quite often they involve bringing a dish.  Immediately logistics come into play such as ease of traveling as some dished travel better than others.  At the same time the setting must be considered as well which will dictate the type of dish you can bring.   My husband was going to a holiday football game with 30 other football fans.  He wanted to bring something for the tailgate party before the game.  Since most of the offerings for the tailgate party would be snack type, we made a large batch of meatballs.  Meatballs are one of my larger gathering stand-by dishes.  Depending on the setting, I make and serve them in the slow cooker or in a large foil baking pan in the oven.  A larger batch can be made using the foil baking pan.  This method is great for those gatherings where using a slow cooking is not possible or for larger gatherings where the meatballs can be kept hot in the oven until ready to serve.

meatballs in the preparation stages
I make meatballs that are just that, meatballs meaning no fillers.  Calculating how much of a dish to bring can be a challenge.  Numbers tend to not be written in stone so even though a gathering may be for 30, there may be more or less.   In this case, there were 30 maximum so at best one or two would not attend.   I planned on 1/4 lb of beef per person, or 4 - 1 oz meatballs each which worked out to 120 oz or 7½ lb ground beef.  I started with 10 lb/160 oz of lean ground beef which would make 160 - 1 oz meatballs, enough extra. 

I started with 10 lb of lean ground beef in two batches for easier mixing.  I sprinkled a little garlic pepper over the meat then mixed well.  Actually, my husband did the mixing so this was a team effort!  I poured a bit of cold milk over the meat to serve as the binder for the meatballs.   Milk allows the meatballs to keep their shape during cooking resulting in firm yet tender meatballs.   My husband formed the meatballs by hand then we fried them using four non-stick skillets.  The cream interior skillets are ceramic non-stick while the darker interior ones are T-fal.  The browned meatballs were transferred to the foil baking pan to finish cooking in the oven as each pan was ready.  I poured  Sweet Baby Ray's barbeque sauce over each addition of meatballs.  I started the meatballs at 120°C/250°F to keep warm until all the meatballs were added to the pan then I made the final addition of barbeque sauce, about a cup of water and increased the temperature to 177°C/350°F.  Had I been cooking the meatballs in the slow cooker, I would have omitted adding the water.

cooked meatballs ready for the party
I cooked the meatballs uncovered at 177°C/350°F until the sauce was hot, bubbling and reduced.  In haste, I neglected to put a baking sheet under the foil baking pan so we carefully maneuvered one under before removing the meatballs from the oven.  Don't they look delicious?

I always make beef or venison meatballs using only meat, milk and either garlic pepper or Montreal steak seasoning.  I keep the seasoning light so the meatballs can be used with any desired sauce, homemade or otherwise.  These meatballs can be home canned in sauce if desired and they freeze nicely.  I like keeping a few pounds of cooked meatballs in the freezer for a quick entertainment dish or using a few for dinner.

meatballs packaged for traveling
I covered the piping hot meatballs with aluminum foil for traveling.  Then we carefully put a T-towel under the foil baking pan on top of the baking sheet (not pictured.  The meatballs would be warm in time to be enjoyed at the tail gate party.  This method works well for meatballs that will be enjoyed within a hour to forty-five minutes of removal from the oven.  If the meatballs will be served after that period they should be kept at 120°C/250°F in the oven.  As always when taking meatballs to an event, I included a package of round toothpicks. 

If you need a simple, easy dish that is sure to please make up a batch of meatballs.  Add a bottle of barbeque sauce of your choice and some toothpicks for a tasty appetizer perfect for holiday entertaining!  Don't forget to make extra for a quick meal start during the busy holiday season. 



Saturday, December 07, 2013

Perfect Gift for the Holidays - Apple Butter

Our little grandkids love apple butter!  Apple butter is one of those culinary delights that can be difficult to find in the grocery stores and if you do, it is likely filled with sugar, artificial flavours and colours or preservatives.  However, all natural apple butter can be found at farmer's markets as well as specialty food shops.  Apple butter is extremely easy to make!
 

apple butter
Essentially apple butter is cooked down applesauce.  I don't add any sugar or seasonings but many do.  I wash the apples and quarter then place the unpeeled pieces in a stock pot with just enough water in the bottom to prevent sticking.  I allow the apples to cook until soft, stirring often.  Once the apples are cooked, I run them through the Kitchen Aid food strainer attachment to remove the peels, seeds and core.  At this point depending on the apple used, the purée is thick enough to be canned as applesauce.  Sugar and seasonings (eg. cinnamon) can be added at this point also.  If they are added, the sauce is reheated and boiled down to the desired thickness.  Applesauce is home canned in a boiling water bath canner for 10 min at altitudes 1,000 feet above sea level.  At higher altitudes, the processing time is 15 minutes. 

Once the applesauce is made rather than leave as is, it can easily be made into apple butter or apple leather.  Both are excellent for gift giving!  To make apple butter, pour the prepared applesauce into a large Dutch oven.  Cover partially then let bake at 120°C/250°F, stirring occasionally until reduced by about half.  The butter with be thick with a nice caramelization and mounds on the spoon.  Once it has reached the desired thickness, the apple butter can be ladled into hot jars and processed in a boiling water bath canner as per applesauce. 

Our grandkids will be elated to find a jar of apple butter for each of them under Grandma and Papa's Christmas tree!  Shhh...we won't tell them about the other jars of apple butter stored safely in Grandma's pantry :)



Friday, December 06, 2013

ROLO Pretzel Delight

As promised, today is the first post of a series of posts featuring foodie related topics for the holidays.  Every parent has been there where their adorable little munchkin tells them at the last minute they need a treat for their class party the next morning.  It's nice to have an easy, no muss recipe to fall back on for just such times.  When I think of an easy, no muss recipe it usually means something I can put together quite quickly with few ingredients yet tasty results.

rolo pretzel delight' border=
I was browsing through the Walgreens flyer a couple of days ago where I discovered this easy, peasy sure to please recipe for ROLO Pretzel Delight just perfect for the holiday season.  The recipe actually comes from Hershey's on the rolo chey caramels in milk chocolate package.  These delicious treats are made with only three ingredients and take about five minutes total to assemble.  The combination of sweet and salty is sure to please! 

The recipe is quite flexible as far as quantity.  I made 24 (some not pictured) so needed 24 each tiny pretzels, ROLO candies, and pecan halves.  I only use about half a 240 g (8.5 oz) bag of rolo caramels!  These treats are so easy to make and so tasty.  That earns them a spot on my quick, tried and true recipes.   

Rolo Pretzel Delight
source:  The Hersheys Company, Celebrate with Hershey , 2013

small pretzels
pecan halves
ROLO chewy caramels in milk chocolate

Heat oven to 350°F.  Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or silpat.   Place one pretzel for each pretzel treat desired on the prepared sheet.  Top each pretzel with one unwrapped ROLO chewy caramel in milk chocolate.  Bake 3 to 5 minutes or until caramel piece begins to soften*, but not melt.  Remove from the oven.   Top each softened ROLO with pecan half.  Cool completely**.

*I kept a very close eye on the caramels that really don't change drastically as they soften.  I removed from the oven just at the 3 minute mark.

**The treats stay sticky on the bottom so need to cool completely for serving.  I let them cool on the parchment paper that was carefully transferred from the baking sheet to a cooling rack.  Once the treats were fully cooled, I placed them on a serving plate.


Thursday, December 05, 2013

Kitchen Quick Tips - Storing Ice Cream

kitchen quick tips Wrap the ice cream container in foil wrap to prevent ice crystals from forming on the ice cream.


Wednesday, December 04, 2013

The Holiday Season is Upon Us!

My gosh!  Where does the time go?  Here it is December 4 with time quickly ticking away to Christmas Day and New Year's.  Folks are busy shopping, entertaining and socializing.  I'm going to do a bit of a shift here for the rest of December to focus on some of the food related topics of interest for the holidays.  These topics include: gifts from the kitchen, holiday entertaining, holiday recipes and so much more.  I've compiled a list of our favourite Christmas cookies, sure to become your favourites as well.  They are perfect for gift giving, holiday entertaining or filling Santa's plate.  There are several recipes in the archives for appetizers suitable for holiday entertaining as well.  I plan to add a few healthy or healthier alternatives for those who are currently watching their weight or hoping to avoid that seasonal weight gain.  Just wait until you read about one simple, yet effect method I use!  A couple of the gifts from the kitchen involve a crafty touch.  Stay tuned for the holiday fun starting Friday...