Posted in Candy, Christmas, Cooking, Foodie, Holidays, Instant Pot, Recipes, Winter

Multi-Cooker Monday – Christmas Candy

Just 8 days until Christmas, but don’t panic! There’s still time to knock out some gifts from your kitchen (check out this post  and  this post for other ideas too…)! I found the Instant Pot that I purchased, is really helpful when making Christmas Candy! Here’s a couple of ways I found to use it…..

To use as a double-boiler, put 4 cups of water into the Multi-cooker (mine is an Instant Pot, but there are lots of other brands too), Place a glass or stainless steel bowl into the opening, set the dial to “Saute” . Adjust to medium. Once your almond bark or chips are melted, set to “Keep Warm” setting and it keeps the candy at the perfect consistency for dipping.

Once your pretzels (cookies, dried fruit, nuts, or whatever else you want to dip….) are coated, remove to a parchment covered sheet pan. Sprinkle with crushed candies (like peppermint….), coarse sugar, finely chopped nuts or sprinkles if desired.

You can also pour your melted almond bark (or chips…..) over popcorn (with mix-ins like pretzels, dried fruit nuts, etc….). Check out this Popcorn Crunch Bark recipe to get some ideas! YUM!

Of course, you can also make Bark with your melted candy. Here’s a few recipes to try….

Another way I found to use the Multi-Cooker, is by using the “Slow-Cooker” feature. This Crock-Pot Fudge is very easy to make (okay, I actually made my fudge in my old Slow-Cooker, that way I could make fudge at the same time as I was dipping the pretzels…..multitasking at it’s finest!). I made one batch out of these Sea Salt Caramels (and no….no-one paid me to say this, it’s just what I decided to do. Although, if someone wants to pay me, I’d be open to negotiations…. 😉  )

When I poured the fudge into the prepared pan, I sprinkled with some course Sea Salt (it just seemed like the thing to do….you can’t go wrong with Sea Salt and Caramel! ).

It tastes AMAZING!!!

The final way to use your Multi-Cooker for candy making is by using the “Saute” setting to melt/cook your ingredients. I found this Instant Pot Rice Krispy Treats recipe and she uses the Multi-Cooker to melt the butter/marshmallow mixture.

Make sure your “Saute” setting is adjusted to the normal setting.

Stir until marshmallows are melted.

I mixed in red & green M&Ms (since I had some on hand…..) with the Rice Krispies. Christmas Candy doesn’t have to be complicated! 😉

Need some other recipe ideas that the “Saute” setting could be used on (just a note – not all of the following recipes have instructions for using a Multi-Cooker, you’ll just be using your Multi-cooker and it’s “Saute: setting in place of the stovetop)..….

Oh! I almost forgot! Your Multi-Cooker’s “Saute” setting is also a great way to clean up the whole sticky mess too! When you’re ready for clean-up, fill the pot 3/4 full of water and a little dish soap. Set on “Saute” and as the water gets hot, stir to dissolve all of the stickiness…..

Let the water cool and finish the cleaning! YAY! ANOTHER reason to LOVE your Multi-Cooker!

What Candy are you making first?

Happy Candy making!

Lori

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Posted in Baking, Cooking, Foodie, Holidays, Recipes, Tutorials

Foodie Friday – Gifts from your Kitchen

For neighbors and co-workers, I usually gift plates of homemade cookies and candy. I Love to cook and bake around this time of year, so it seems like a good idea to share the goodness. Here’s the thing though, I haven’t got my act together to get the baking done yet this year! That’s right, with just 11 days until Christmas, there’s been NO baking yet! YIKES! I better get busy! I’ve got a back-up plan though….Mixes! That’s right, let the recipient do the cooking or baking. The concept is simple too. Pack the dry ingredients of your favorite recipe (breads, cakes, drink mixes, cookies, soups, seasonings….) into either a Mason jar or zippered sealing bag. Add a recipe card with the remaining ingredients and directions for mixing and baking/cooking. Add some festive touches to the jar or packaging (I sewed up a simple bag from some cute Christmas fabric to put the zippered sealing bag into) and BOOM! Your gift is done!

You can find LOTS of recipes for mixes on Pinterest. If you’re really short on time, you could also pick up some store-bought mixes and dump them into a jar/bag….maybe even adding some dried fruit or candies to the mix….it’s a thought….

Here’s the Beer Bread Recipe I plan on mixing up for gifts…

Beer Bread

Ingredients:

  • 2-1/2 cups Self-rising flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning

(you could substitute other seasonings for the garlic powder and Italian seasoning if you wanted….Pumpkin pie spice anyone?)

Directions:

  1. Mix ingredients together and put in a 1 quart Mason jar or zippered sealing bag.

Additional Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. bottle of beer or club soda (I plan on including a bottle of a Holiday-type of beer)
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

Mixing/Baking Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Lightly grease a 9×5 loaf pan (not sure your recipient has a loaf pan, you could possible include this as part of the gift….)
  3. Place Beer Bread mix into a large mixing bowl.
  4. Pour the 12 oz. of beer over dry ingredients (if your recipient would rather drink the beer, they could substitute the club soda for the beer).
  5. Mix until just moistened.
  6. Transfer to your prepared pan. Pour melted butter over the bread mix.
  7. Bake 45 to 55 minutes in the preheated oven or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
  8. Enjoy!

There you have it…still plenty of time for gifts from your kitchen!   😉

Happy Cooking!

Lori

Posted in Cooking, FALL!, Foodie, Holidays, Thanksgiving

Foodie Friday – Thanksgiving Leftovers

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanskgiving! If you’ve got Thanksgiving leftovers you’re not sure what to do with…..I’ve rounded up some yummy sounding recipes you might like to try. Here they are….

Happy Cooking!

Lori

 

Posted in FALL!, Holidays, Ramblings, Thanksgiving, Thoughts

Thoughts on Thursday – So Thankful!

On this Thanksgiving, I feel particularly thankful for so many things. I thought I would share them with you….

  • I’m thankful for my hubby (known as Mr. Muddling or sometimes, the co-muddler…). He’s my best friend and my rock. He can make, build and fix anything (I’m constantly amazed at this….). There is no way the property we live on could have been developed on our budget without him. Period.
  • I’m thankful for where we live. A beautiful area in the great state of Oregon, in the good old U.S.A. Sure, every place, anywhere in the world, has it’s problems, but I’m convinced the good still outweighs the bad.
  • I’m thankful for our church, our pastors and prayer. All a major part of my spiritual journey.
  • I’m thankful for family, friends and neighbors. Even though we don’t always get together as often as we’d like (why is life so crazy busy?), we can always depend on each other to help out, cheer us up or even celebrate the joys in life.
  • I’m thankful for the blogging community. The sharing of this community has enriched many areas of my life. I’ve learned many crafty things, new recipes, new skills and different perspectives on many things.
  • I’m thankful for all the readers of this blog. Even though we’ve never met, I consider you friends. I have valued your advice and encouragement. I hope I’ve shared something of value to you (even if it’s just my quirky attempt at humor…. 😉 ).

This list is FAR from complete. There are just SO MANY things to be thankful for! I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Don’t forget to take a moment and reflect on all the things you’re thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Lori

Posted in Apples, Canning & Freezing, Cranberries, FALL!, Foodie, Holidays, Instant Pot

Foodie Friday – For the Love of Cranberries

Thanksgiving is on it’s way and if you LOVE cranberries (if you hate them, look away now….), I’ve found a couple of recipes for your Instant Pot! (And. because it’s how I roll, I’ll also tell you the modifications I made to them along the way…..).

The first recipe is this Instant Pot Cranberry Sauce. So good! Here’s the modifications I made….

  • I made a half batch (since I’m the only one in our household who eats cranberries….), so I cut all the ingredients in half.
  • I squeezed the juice from one orange (in place of the apple juice), including the pulp.
  • I also used the zest from that orange (about 2 Tbsp. of zest).
  • I used sugar-free (stevia) sweetener in place of the sugar (and sugar-free maple syrup).

Here’s another peek at the cranberries in their steamy loveliness…YUM!

Here’s MORE cranberry yumminess! Combined with Apples….I didn’t even peel the apples, just washed, cored and chopped them. To make this Instant Pot Cranberry Applesauce . Oh! My! It is GOOD! The only changes I made to this recipe was to eliminate the brown sugar and use sugar-free maple syrup.

After you whirr it up with the Immersion Blender, it has a beautiful rosy color to the applesauce. I canned up a few jars for later this winter (just using the processing time for the water bath canner of a standard applesauce recipe…).

Aren’t they pretty?

Happy Cooking!

Lori

Posted in 4th of July, Container, FOs, Gardening, Holidays, Tutorials

Planters for the 4th of July

I spent part of the morning planting some 4th of July planters. I’ve been meaning to get these planted for WEEKS now! Since I have a “staycation” day off from work, I decided today was as good as any! 😉

I brought home a few plants in the Red, White and Blue theme…….Victoria Blue Salvia, White Alyssum, Blue Lobelia, Red Petunias and Calibrachoa, Silver Falls Dichondra and ONE Night Sky Petunia (I would have bought more Night Sky Petunias, but ONE was all I could find!), some “rustic-looking” galvanized buckets and a couple of American Flags.

Here’s the tools I needed to “prep” the buckets. I found that if I soaked the buckets, the “majority” of the labels came off. I used the Goo-Gone and the steel scrubber to get the remainder off.

Since the container needs drainage, I used the hammer and nail to poke some drainage holes in the bottom of the bucket.

Now comes the FUN part….PLANTING! I fill the container about 3/4 of the way full of a good quality potting mix. After I take the plant out of it’s (4 inch) container, I “rough-up” it’s roots. That way the plant will root better into the potting soil.

I arrange all the “anchor” plants (I used 4 inch container plants….but you could use larger or smaller if you prefer). Nothing fancy here, I put the tall Salvia in the back, The Dichondra spilling over the front. The Lobelia on one side of the Salvia and the Night Sky Petunia on the other side. Once you have an arrangement you like, fill around your anchor plants with your potting mix.

You’ll find you have some blank areas of soil, that’s where you’re going to “tuck in” a few cells from your 6-packs (I put in 2 cells of the Red Petunias and 2 cells of the white Alyssum). Make sure to CAREFULLY water in your plants and add some time-release fertilizer!

Add your American Flags and enjoy your new containers!

Happy Gardening!