DIY Hot Chocolate Mix

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The kids had been asking for hot chocolate for a while now, so I decided to let them make it 🙂 I love that there are only three simple ingredients in this decadent hot chocolate and it makes 4 cups of mix. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

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All Natural Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix – adapted from Clean Mama

  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa – I used this Dutch cocoa
  • 3 teaspoons sea salt

Directions – 

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients with a whisk. Store in a four cup, air-tight container or into smaller jars for gifting.

To make one serving of hot chocolate, combine 1 cup of warm milk and two tablespoons of mix. Stir to combine and enjoy!

**I added the milk and cocoa to my Vitamix and blended it up for a few seconds to make it nice and frothy. Top it with mini marshmallows or whipped cream if desired 🙂

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Milk and Honey Bread

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As I ate a slice, I was reminded of these Austrailian Toaster Biscuits that my grandma gave me when I was a kid. Sadly, those are no longer available, but these are a great substitute 🙂 The loaf is rich and delicious;  and a nice crumb, soft, but sturdy enough for your sandwiches. It’s much more rich, (read: fat-filled) than your average sandwich bread and the loaves disappeared quickly in this house :/ I will make this one again soon! Thanks for reading, enjoy 🙂

Milk and Honey Bread – adapted from The Slow Roasted Italian

  • 4 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast (2 packets)
  • 2-1/2 cups warm milk
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 6 – 7 cups all-purpose flour ( 750-875 grams )
Directions –
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add yeast, warm milk and honey.  Swirl with your fingers or a spoon to dissolve the yeast.  Allow to sit until the yeast starts to bubble and becomes aromatic, about 5 minutes.
Add butter and 4 cups of flour, mix on low using dough hook, until smooth.  Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (mine takes the whole 3 additional cups) add salt.  Allow to knead for about 5 minutes.  You should have a ball of tacky (not sticky) dough at this point.
Turn onto a floured board; knead about 10 turns. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down and shape into two loaves. Place in greased 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45-60 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350° for glass and dark pans (375° for light metal pans).  Brush tops with melted butter.
Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown

Dulce de Leche

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Would you believe that before today I had never even tasted dulce de leche? I have read rave reviews, and have seen countless recipes all over the place; but had yet to experience the sweet stuff. This was so easy to make, and probably the safest and cleanest method I have found. The directions told me that this would take 10 hours on low, but my two jars were caramelized to perfection in less than 6 hours. I’m sure I could have taken them out sooner, had I the nerve to do so. I’m happy to report that this wasn’t a waste of time or ingredient to make, because it does taste really good 🙂 I’m surprising my husband with a decadent dessert for Valentine’s Day that is right up his alley, and this dulce de leche is a pretty important to the final product. I hope he loves it!

Crock Pot Dulce de Leche – adapted from Your Homebased Mom

  • 1 – 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 half pint sized jars
  • crock pot (mine is 6 quarts)
  • enough water to cover the tops of the jars

Directions –

Open the can of sweetened condensed milk and divide evenly into the half pint jars. Put on lids and rings. Place jars in the crock pot and fill the crock pot with enough water to completely cover the top of the jars. Set your crock pot to low and cook until caramelized, about 6 hours. Carefully remove the jars and set aside, and once the jars are cool enough to handle; carefully open, stir and taste! Refrigerate leftovers.

**Also, if you’re looking for a crowd-pleasing goody for Valentine’s Day, make these and everyone will want the recipe!**

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Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Bites – adapted from Savory Sweet Life

  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (125 grams)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (40 grams)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 40 mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (or hearts), unwrapped

DIRECTIONS –

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray mini cupcake pan with non stick spray.  In a medium bowl, mix melted butter, sugars and vanilla.  Beat in eggs one at a time. Gradually add flour, cocoa, and salt and mix until combined.  Fill each cupcake slot slightly more than halfway but not more than 2/3 full.  Place a peanut butter cup in each slot pressing it down until it is almost level with the batter.  Bake in preheated oven for 15-18 minutes or until done.  Allow the brownie bites to cool for 5 minutes before removing from the cupcake tin.  Enjoy!

*Notes: Be sure to remove brownie bites 5 – 10 minutes after coming out of the oven.  Otherwise they might cool and stick to the sides making it difficult to get out.  If baking these in a pan, your baking time will increase to 25-30 minutes.  You can be sure they are close to being done when you can smell them from your oven.

 

 

Hot Chocolate for One

Sorry it’s been so long since my last post…I made this several weeks ago to remedy a craving for some real hot chocolate. I didn’t want to make a huge batch so late at night, so this was perfect. I tripled it so my kids could enjoy it too – they loved it! Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Hot Chocolate – adapted Jeyashri’s Kitchen

  • 1 TBSP good quality unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 TBSP vanilla sugar
  • 1 TBSP hot water
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • a pinch of salt

Directions – 

1. Place all the dry ingredients in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid and pour the hot water over all. Twist lid on and shake vigorously.

2. Pour contents into a small sauce pot over medium-low heat. Pour in the dairy and stir until combined. Heat gently until the desired temperature is reached. Pour into your favorite mug and top with marshmallows or whipped cream.

Miracle Mac n’ Cheese

It was getting closer and closer to dinner time, but I had no idea what to make. My girl and I flipped through Pintrest and came across this recipe and she said I should make it 🙂 This mac n’ cheese is so easy, you don’t have anymore excuses to buy boxed stuff, and if you can boil water, you can make this tasty macaroni and cheese! It’s pretty neat how cooking the noodles in milk makes all the difference. My daughter (aka. The Picky One) ate two servings of this – that is a very rare occurrence in this house. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Miracle Macaroni and Cheese – heavily adapted from Budget Bytes

  • 4 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni pasta
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese ( I used sharp white cheddar)
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt, More To Taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Seasoned Salt, More To Taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika

Directions –

Combine the dry macaroni and 4 cups of milk in a medium pot. Place a lid on top and bring it up to a boil over medium/high heat while occasionally stirring. As soon as it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low and let simmer until the pasta is tender (about 10-15 minutes). Make sure to stir often during this process to keep the pasta from clumping or sticking to the bottom of the pot. Promptly replace the lid each time to help hold in the moisture. Once the pasta is soft and has absorbed most of the milk, season with salts, pepper, paprika, and dry mustard, or the spices of your choice. If the mixture begins to look dry, add the remaining 1/2 cup of milk. Turn the heat off and stir in the shredded cheese. Serve immediately.

Macaroni (1870)

This macaroni and cheese is all about the cheese – duh, right? Quality is super important, so splurge  a little and do not use pre-shredded cheese!  This is quicker than other recipes I have tried and it’s great if you have less than a full box of pasta in your pantry (my box weighed 9.9 ounces) and remnant cheeses in your fridge. I used smoked gouda and some other chunk that might have been Emmentaler? Next time I will use a sharp English cheddar, although the kids might not appreciate it. The cheese sauce is much more “soupy” than other recipes that are thickened with a roux, but the longer it sits and cools the thicker it becomes. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Macaroni (1870) – adapted from Kitchen Historic

  • 10 ounces macaroni
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2/3 cup cream
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • cayenne, to taste
  • 8 ounces old cheddar, grated
Directions:

1. Set a large pot of water to boil and cook the macaroni until tender. Strain the water and return the macaroni to the pot.
2. While the macaroni is cooking, mix the milk, flour, and butter in a medium saucepan. Stir until combined and butter has melted.
3. To the sauce, add the cream, mustard, salt, pepper, cayenne, and cheese. Mix together and simmer for ~5 minutes or until thickened.
4. Add finished sauce to macaroni and stir, cooking until evenly heated.

Baked Rice Pudding

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I was in need of some comfort food! Rice pudding reminds me of my Gram, so what’s more comforting than that? 😉 The rice baked up perfectly, with a nice bite, not mushy, and it was just sweet enough for my tastes. The original poster claimed this recipe will serve four – ha! 😉 Let me put it this way:  if it was a really bad day, I could easily have eaten all of this myself! Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Milky Rice Pudding – adapted from The Parsley Thief

  • unsalted butter, for greasing baking dish
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup arborio rice
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Generously butter a baking dish, or pie plate.
Add the milk, rice, brown sugar & salt to a mixing bowl, or measuring cup. Whisk, until well combined & pour into the prepared baking dish. Bake for about 1 hour 10 minutes, or until the rice is very tender & most of the liquid has been absorbed. While the pudding is cooking, stir every 10 minutes, or so. When it nears the end of the cooking time, a skin will form on the surface of the pudding. When done, stir the pudding, divide into serving bowls & garnish with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon.

Homemade Fudge Pops

Quick Post: The kids couldn’t wait for these to freeze solid 🙂 They’re a little grainy, but the flavor is nice – not too sweet either. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Homemade Fudge Pops – adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

  • ¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2½ cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Directions:

1. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave on 50% power in 30-second increments, stirring after each, until melted and smooth.

2. Combine the melted chocolate, sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, and milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, add the vanilla and butter, and stir until well combined.

3. Let the mixture cool slightly (it should still be warm but not hot to the touch), and then pour into popsicle molds. Freeze for 30 minutes, and then insert sticks. Freeze completely before serving.

Coconut Milk and Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding

I’m trying something a little crazy…my go to arroz con leche recipe has plain ‘ol milk in it. This is my first time using coconut milk and it’s my first time knowingly trying any food with this in it. Hopefully it’s not a complete waste of ingredients and time…I love rice pudding and it’s something that reminds me of my childhood. My Gram made her version (my fave no matter what) often and my siblings and I ate it hot as a breakfast treat. I’m sure I’ll never be able to recreate hers, but in the meantime, I’m having fun tasting other versions. This need for rice pudding came when I realized that I have several Madagascar vanilla beans patiently waiting to be used in my pantry. I bought them over the summer and haven’t used a single bean! How dare I! 😉 It has been at least a full year since the last time I made this decadent treat, so why not put the two together? While searching through Tastespotting, I found several versions of the classic – some with coconut milk and some with vanilla bean seeds. This recipe is a mishmash of a few recipes and techniques that will hopefully come together beautifully!

Verdict: So good, I love this stuff! Creamy, slightly sweet and perfectly comforting in my book.  I didn’t notice the coconut flavor, but it wasn’t as thick or “butter fatty” as the other recipe. I only used one cup because coconut milk has such a  high fat content, so I’ll be on the look out for lighter coconut milk. Also, I was also able to make a bigger batch of vanilla sugar the day I made this, so hopefully I can find the perfect use for some of it. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Coconut and Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding – 

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • lemon zest (strips, not grated)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pinch of kosher salt

Directions –

Pour rice and water into a 4 quart dutch oven or larger. Add the lemon peel, cinnamon stick and vanilla seeds to the pot. Let sit for an hour.

After soaking, bring the rice mixture to a boil on high heat, uncovered. When it starts to boil (about 5 minutes), lower the heat to medium and cook for 10 to 12 more minutes or until water is almost evaporated.

Add the milk and stir well to mix, add the sugar  and cook over medium-low heat, stirring carefully, until it thickens slightly or until desired consistency, about 25 to 35 minutes. Remove the lemon zest and cinnamon sticks.

Serve hot, cold or room temperature.

Chocolate Pudding

My husband let me know on more than one occasion, that he wanted chocolate pudding. I was over the “man nagging” so I made it. Now I understand why there is a market for “instant pudding”, because this took at least 40 minutes to make! Here’s hoping that it was worth the work 🙂

Verdict: This was ssuuupppppeeerrrr sweet – way too sweet for me. I used semi sweet chocolate chips and all the required sugar, so next time I will use bittersweet or dark chocolate. The chunks you see in the spoon are the leftover pieces of chocolate chips that didn’t melt completely. Next time I would melt the chocolate before adding to the pudding, but other than those problems, it was tasty. If you have a craving for pudding, you’ll have to wait a while before you can eat this! It needed at least four hours in the fridge to firm up properly. My first time making pudding wasn’t a complete disaster and now I know what to expect for the next time 🙂 The kids loved it and my son asked when I’m making it again cause it was the “best dessert ever”. My son is notorious for “laying it on thick”, so I don’t know how good it is to him. He would have said that about anything 😉 Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Double Chocolate Pudding – adapted from Sophistimom

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup good quality chocolate chips, like Guittard brand, plus a small handful for garnish
  • whipped cream (recipe follows)

1. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, bring the milk almost to a boil. Meanwhile, whisk sugar and egg yolks until pale yellow, smooth, and it falls in ribbons. Whisk in cocoa powder and corn starch.

2. Whisk in hot milk, a half a cup at a time until mixture is warm to the touch. Pour entire mixture back into the saucepan and whisk constantly until pudding starts to thicken and it coats the back of a wooden spoon.

3. Pull off the heat and add in cream, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pour in chocolate chips and allow to rest for a minute. Stir the mixture to incorporate the melted chocolate. Pour into a bowl or into individual cups. Serve warm or cold and with a dollop of whipped cream. Chop a handful of chocolate chips and sprinkle on for a garnish