Peppermint Hot Chocolate Mix

Winter is…cold. (Thank you Captain Obvious) I’m not a fan. Therefore, there have been lots of hot bevvies filling my day – mainly coffee, but a little hot tea, some apple cider, a hot toddy here or there, and of course, hot chocolate.

I made these for Christmas gifts, and thought they turned out pretty cute…I do love a mason jar. Since my kids are constantly asking for hot chocolate, I am getting ready to mix some up to have on hand at home. It’s nice to have a dry mix available that the kids can prepare themselves.

You can layer it all pretty for gift giving, or mix everything together and store in a sealed container so it’s ready to go. One of my friends who received this did say it wasn’t quite sweet enough for her taste, so you may have to adjust the amount of sugar to your liking.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate Mix

1/2 cup dry (powdered) milk
1/2 cup cocoa, unsweetened
1/2 cup sugar (adjust to taste)
pinch of salt
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup crushed peppermint candy
1/4 cup mini marshmallows

 Layer ingredients in order listed in a pint sized jar or mix all together and store in an airtight container. For serving, place 1/3 cup mix in a mug, add one cup (8 ounces) boiling water. Stir well. Enjoy.
Recipe Source and Printable from Cincy Shopper
*For adults, you may want to add a little homemade Peppermint Vodka!
Maybe this will get me through another six weeks of winter. Damn Groundhog.

DIY Candy Flavored Vodka

I know, I know. This would have been nice to have posted before Christmas. But…uhm…yeah. Didn’t happen. See previous post for all the pre-Christmas drama. However, even though this was an awesome (if I do say so myself) Christmas gift, it would be an equally awesome Valentine’s gift, birthday gift, etc. For the over 21 crowd of course.

This is SO easy to make, and it doesn’t have to be candy cane…it can be any hard/sugar candy you like. For example, lemon drops are sitting on my counter right now, just waiting.
For Valentine’s Day you might want to use Red Hots for a Cinnamon Vodka, Cherry Sours for a Cherry Vodka, Starlight Mints for Peppermint Vodka…and of course, I’m sure there are still candy canes sitting in a clearance section somewhere!
All you have to do is add about a cup of candy to each pint of vodka. I put mine in mason jars. Because I love mason jars. Give it 2-3 days to dissolve, shaking occasionally, and viola! You’ve made your own flavored vodka.
I just love the color! I can’t wait to try other flavors. I will let you know how they turn out. Also, not only do they make pretty gifts, they taste really good too. I had just a tiny taste, before giving these away, but it tasted so much like a candy cane. The lushes friends I gave them to also gave them a thumbs up. They mixed it with a little Sprite, but you could also use this flavor to make Peppermint White Russians, or add to this Peppermint Hot Chocolate Mix! You can always pin them for next year! #betterlatethannever
I found this gem of an idea over at Scary Mommy and I found the label at Doodles, Dabbles and Dreams. Thank you ladies, and thank you Pinterest!

Low Sugar Frozen Hot Chocolate & Cookbook Review

Up until a couple of days ago, we were enjoying mild temps in the upper 70’s, even some 80 degree days. Then it suddenly became winter. Not a happy camper. Thankfully, we are getting back to some warmer temps, because I just don’t do cold well. Unless we are talking about cold drinks that is! With the chilly mornings and warm afternoons, my kids have been back and forth between wanting Hot Chocolate and Frozen Hot Chocolate. Since I worry about the amount of sugar my family has (especially since my husband is diabetic) I was happy to review the new 119-page cookbook ‘Cooking with SweetLeaf Stevia’ put out by SweetLeaf Stevia Sweetener and even happier to see it has a low sugar frozen hot chocolate recipe!

SweetLeaf® Frozen Hot Chocolate

1 cup instant dry milk
2 teaspoons SugarLeaf™ (a stevia/cane sugar combination)
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 cup milk
6 drops Chocolate Sweet Drops™ (we used Double Chocolate Sweet Drops)
3 cups ice
Stir dry milk, SugarLeaf and unsweetened cocoa in a small bowl until completely mixed.
Add ingredients to blender in the following order: milk, Chocolate Sweet Drops, dry mix. Blend for 5 seconds. Add ice and blend for 30 seconds until smooth and daiquiri-like in texture. Pour into a short glass. *I’m not sure “daiquiri-like” texture was the best descriptor that could have been used since my 11 year old was making this and she had no idea what that meant! 
Alternatives:
Add light whipped topping and chocolate shavings of your choice.
Nutrition Facts
Servings per recipe: 4 (we divided ours into 3 nice size servings!)
Amount per serving: Calories 83, Total Fat 3g, Cholesterol 10mg, Sodium 59mg, Total Carbohydrate 11g, Dietary Fiber 2g, Protein 5g (Does not include optional topping.)
*Recipe reprinted with permission from Wisdom Natural Brands cookbook Cooking With SweetLeaf Stevia®

There are many other food and drink recipes in the book that I am looking forward to trying. Stevia has been my preferred sugar substitute for quite some time and I love all the different flavored drops that are out now, like Double Chocolate and Peppermint Mocha! I will definitely be working on a Peppermint Mocha Latte recipe asap! I think I can adapt the Chocolate Almond Coffee recipe in the cookbook…I will let you know!

The book also has recipes for breads, muffins, pancakes, spirited drinks, holiday recipes, salads and dressings…the list goes on and they are all low in sugar! I really need that for the upcoming Holidays!

I was provided with a complimentary copy of the above mentioned cookbook along with samples of Holiday SweetDrops. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own. 

Sparkling Pineapple-Lime Punch {and Baby Shower Beverages}

Anyone who knows me knows that my sister is having her first baby very soon *squeal* and they also know that I recently gave her a baby shower. The colors for the shower were white, pink and green. As I was perusing Pinterest for ideas, I saw this punch recipe. The vivid green caught my attention and I thought it would look good on the beverage table with the pink lemonade we were serving.

A couple of things….first, those are mint leaves! For a baby shower, I probably should have removed the leaves, or really muddled them better. It kinda looks like my ducks are swimming in some very realistic pond water. (However, it gave me the idea that this punch would be awesome at Halloween. Take out the fruit and ducks, add in some creepy frogs/eyeballs etc…perfect!)
Other than the floating mint leaves/lily pads (haha) the punch was a pretty color and the best part – it was very good! Several people commented on it (and no one said it looked like pond water – except my middle child…which comes as no surprise to me. Who said honesty is the best policy? Oh yeah, that was me. *sigh*) It reminded me a little of a mojito, and you could easily add in some rum to make an adult, non-baby-on-board, beverage!
So – pretty color, tastes great, and EASY to make – that makes it a keeper in my book!

Sparkling Pineapple-Lime Punch

1 bunch fresh mint, stems removed

2 packs Kool-Aid Lemon-Lime Flavor Unsweetened Drink Mix

2 qt. (8 cups) pineapple juice, chilled

1 (2 L) bottle of carbonated lemon-lime soda, chilled (7-Up, Sprite, etc)

1 lemon, cut lengthwise in half, then sliced crosswise (I just quartered mine…oops)

1 lime, sliced

  • Muddle mint with the dry Kool-Aid. This can be done in the punch bowl or in a separate bowl using anything with a flat bottom or with a wooden spoon.
  • Once mint and Kool Aid are muddled together, pour in the chilled pineapple juice. Stir until Kool Aid is dissolved.
  • Add lemon, lime and 2 L soda just before serving.

Note: I made an ice ring with about a half quart of the pineapple juice, along with some whole mint leaves. This is optional, but helps keep the punch cold without watering it down.

 Recipe Source: Kraft

The green punch, aka ‘green juice’ as my sister referred to it, was served in a punch bowl I’ve had forevah. The pink lemonade, with slices of lime, was served in a glass drink dispenser that I picked up at TJ Maxx or Marshall’s relatively cheap. A tip about the the drink dispensers with the spout at the bottom – they either have to sit on the edge of the table/counter or they need to be on some type of stand. An inverted cake plate works great if your dispenser doesn’t come with a stand! We also had water bottles available…

The labels were a free printable from Over the Big Moon. We just cut them out and used packing tape to tape them on. The tape also helps keep them from ripping. If your water bottles are going to be in ice, or are cold and going to ‘sweat’, you may want to consider laminating them first. Ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat.

*Baby Shower Pinterest Board if interested*

I may be linking up at any of the following – (Monday) The Tumbleweed ContessaThe Dedicated HouseSkip to my LouMaking the World CuterI Should Be Mopping the FloorHuckleberry Love (Tuesday) Tickle My Tastebuds TuesdaySowdering About in SeattleNaptime CreationsMandy’s Recipe Box, Memories By the Mile,Inside BruCrew LifeVMG206Anyonita Nibbles,Tasty Tuesdays (Wednesday) The Newlyweds PilgrimageFluster BusterMostly Homemade MomAdorned from AboveLady Behind the Curtain,Ginger Snap CraftsNaptime is My TimeTessa the Domestic Diva (Thursday) Project Inspire,Joyful HomemakingMiz Helen’s Country CottageLamberts Lately (Friday) Foodtastic FridaysJust Us FourBacon Time with the Hungry Hungry HypoDiana RamblesThe Better BakerThe Best Blog Recipes,Close to Home30 Handmade DaysA Peek Into My Paradise,The Jenny Evolution Walking on SunshineVintage Chic (Saturday) Six Sisters’ StuffMade from Pinterest

Detox Drink

Yes, I’m back! After an unintentional blogging break (life got busy trying to get the kids finished up with school, and then a few days vacay) I am trying to get my blogging groove back. Of course, now it’s summer and the kids are home everyday…so we’ll see how it goes! Speaking of summer, that means it’s bathing suit time *groan* so I figured it was the perfect time to try out this…
Losing bloatPin
I imagine many of you have seen this pin floating around Pinterest at some point. I’ve looked and looked and couldn’t find the original source, but it is supposedly a recipe recommended by Jillian Michaels to BEAT THE BLOAT. Isn’t bloat such a gross word? It conjures up all sorts of not-fun images. I found another version of the drink on eHow with the same ingredients, just different quantities, and that’s the one I’m using. The ‘detox drink’ calls for Dandelion Root tea, cranberry juice, lemon juice, and of course, water.

I was given the opportunity to try Alvita brand Dandelion Root tea, and I immediately made this ‘detox’ drink. I was a little worried since I had read that dandelion root tea was very bitter, and could cause “GI discomfort” – I didn’t find either to be the case, but I did add a few drops of NuNaturals Orange Stevia to sweeten it up a bit. I am really, really bad about not drinking enough fluid throughout the day, so I did not manage to drink all 60 oz. in one day. I did however drink much more than my norm, which was good. Did I lose 5 lbs in 7 days? No. Did I lose some water weight/bloat? Yes! I was definitely better hydrated, which made me feel better. So, I’m trying to keep it going by keeping a pitcher of ‘detox’ tea or flavored water in the fridge (I’m currently drinking on a pitcher of “Flat Tummy Water” which I will share later!)

Jillian Michaels’ Detox Drink

60 ounces of distilled/bottled/filtered water
2 bags of Dandelion Root Tea
4 tablespoons lemon juice (fresh squeezed lemon tasted better IMO but I’ve used bottled too)
2 Tablespoons all natural cranberry juice (100% cranberry juice, no sugar added)

Place tea bags in a pitcher of water and let steep overnight. In the morning, remove tea bags and add remaining ingredients. Stir and drink! As noted, I added some stevia b/c I like my tea sweet…I don’t know if that makes a difference and was just my preference. 

*You can also steep the tea bags in hot water, then it doesn’t need to sit overnight.

(inspired by Pinterest, recipe from eHow)

As with anything, I suggest reading up on it yourself before starting any ‘fad’ drinks/diets/exercises. Dandelion Root Tea is an herbal supplement and traditionally used to support liver function, but as with all herbal supplements that I am aware of, they have not been evaluated by the FDA. The Alvita brand I used is certified organic.

I was sent a package of dandelion root tea for sampling/review purposes. No compensation was received.

National Margarita Day!

Yes, today is National Margarita Day! Let’s celebrate!!

National Margarita Day --- uh oh, Tequila Laurel might have to come out and play! Tequila @Lauren Ferchau too???
Margaritas are definitely one of my favorite adult beverages, and the variations are endless! I thought I would share just a few in honor of the holiday 🙂
Ginger Beer Margaritas (recipe at Minimalist Baker) Just made these last night….awesome!
Lower Calorie Options –
  
Slim and Sparkling™ Lemon Lime Margarita
3 oz Lemon Lime Sparkling ICE
1 ½ oz Tequila
Splash of fresh squeezed orange
Fresh squeezed lime
Directions: Shake and pour into a chilled rocks glass rimmed in salt. Garnish with a lime slice.
Calories per 6 oz serving: 100
 (Recipe and photo provided by Sparkling ICE – not a sponsored post)
For a non-alcoholic version, this one sounds pretty tasty!
 
And of course, no day is complete without DESSERT….
 
Happy Margarita Day!

Creamy Hot Cocoa Mix

Yesterday’s post was about easy, no bake gifts in jars. One of the things we put in jars this year for teachers’ gifts was this homemade hot cocoa mix.

It was very simple to mix together, and it was really good! Obviously we had to sample some before giving it away 🙂

We made hot chocolate to drink while watching The Polar Express. One of our favorite Christmas movies!

Creamy Cocoa Mix

  • 4 cups nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup non-dairy coffee creamer
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 box instant chocolate pudding (approx 4 oz size)

Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl. Stir to combine. For a finer consistency, process in a food processor or blender. (I ran mine through the food processor). Store in an airtight container. Add 1/4 cup mix (or to desired taste) to an 8 ounces of warm milk, water or coffee.

Recipe from The Motherload
To give as gifts, I put the hot cocoa mix in bags and placed in jars, along with marshmallows, peppermint sticks and Hershey’s Hugs and Kisses.
Then we added the jars to baskets with some other goodies and added this cheese-y little poem…
Because you are my teacher and I love you so much,
Here is some hot chocolate and such….
Just mix with warm milk or coffee too,
my mommy said about 1/4 cup should do.
Then to your cup add some yummy marshmallows,
and don’t forget the Hugs and Kisses from one of your favorite fellows!
Merry Christmas! Love, Mr. Three
 
Obviously these were for my son’s Kindergarten teachers! I hope they enjoy their baskets b/c they are awesome and my son loves them both.
I plan on making more mix soon to have at home, except I want to use Hershey’s Dark Cocoa and Hershey’s Dark pudding! yummmm! This Hot Chocolate on a Stick is also fun to make and eat…oh yeah, and to give away!

Southern Iced Fruit Tea

Southern Iced Fruit Tea

2 family-size iced tea bags
6 cups boiling water
1 cinnamon stick
1 can (48 ounces) pineapple juice
1 can (12 ounces) frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 can (12 ounces) frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
optional: fruit slices and/or mint, for garnish (I omitted)
  • Bring water just to a boil, remove from heat, then add tea bags and the cinnamon stick.
  • Steep for at least 15 minutes (longer for stronger tea).
  • After steeping, remove tea bags and cinnamon stick. Pour tea in a large pitcher (I used a sun tea pitcher).
  •  Stir in the thawed orange juice and lemonade.  Stir until blended.
  •  Add the pineapple juice, stir well.
  •  Refrigerate until fully chilled, and stir before serving (the juice tends to settle, so you will need to stir every so often,)

I think you could add in some rum for a delish grown up beverage too!

I may be linking up at any of the following – (Monday) The Tumbleweed ContessaHolly’s Stamping AddictionThe Dedicated HouseHomemaker on a DimeSkip to my LouMaking the World CuterI Should Be Mopping the FloorThis Gal CooksWatch Out, Martha!Huckleberry LoveThe Newlyweds Pilgrimage (Tuesday) Naptime CreationsMandy’s Recipe BoxBlessed with GraceLove in the Kitchen, Memories By the Mile,Inside BruCrew LifeSarah Lynn’s SweetsBeBetsy and VMG206The Real Thing with The Coake Family (Wednesday) Fluster BusterMostly Homemade MomAdorned from AboveLady Behind the CurtainGinger Snap CraftsHungry Little GirlNaptime is My Time, Cherished Handmade Treasures, The Wilderness Wife  (Thursday) Project Inspire ,Joyful HomemakingDesigned DecorMiz Helen’s Country CottageThe Mandatory Mooch,  The Busy Bee’s, Lamberts Lately (Friday) Not Your Ordinary Recipes,  Simple Living and EatingJust Us FourBacon Time with the Hungry Hungry HypoDiana RamblesThe Better Baker,CraftionaryOne Artsy MamaThe Best Blog RecipesOne Creative Mommy, Michelle’s Tasty CreationsClose to Home30 Handmade DaysA Peek Into My Paradise,The Jenny Evolution Walking on Sunshine(Saturday) Lemons for Lulu,  Or So She Says…Six Sisters’ Stuff (Sunday) Mommy’s Sweet Confessions 

Yay! This recipe was featured at Miz Helen’s Country Cottage!

Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

 

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Makin’ it Mo’Betta

Margarita Cake

I’ve mentioned that I made a Margarita Cake for Easter, and wanted to share the recipe.  It was really good, and it starts with a cake mix!

Margarita Cake

slightly adapted from the Cake Mix Doctor

  • Cake: 
  • Cooking spray, for misting the pan
  • Flour, for dusting the pan
  • 1 package (18.25 ounces) plain yellow or lemon cake mix (I used lemon)
  • 4 tablespoons vanilla instant pudding mix (I used fat free, sugar free instant pudding)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  • ½ cup vegetable olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime or Key lime juice
  • ¼ cup tequila
  • 2 tablespoons triple sec orange liqueur 
  • 1 teaspoon  tablespoon grated lime zest
  • 4 large eggs
  • Glaze:
  • 1 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon tequila
  • 1 tablespoon triple sec orange liqueur 
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice or Key lime juice
  • 3-4 drops Orange NuStevia (optional)
  • 2-3 drops of Lemon NuStevia (optional)
  • 1 lime, cut into thin slices (I omitted)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons coarse sugar (I omitted)
  •  
  • Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly mist a 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray, then dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour and set the pan aside.
  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix the cake mix, pudding mix, sugar, water, oil, 1/3 cup lime juice, ¼ cup tequila, 2 tablespoons orange liqueur, lime zest and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until the ingredients are combined, abt 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and mix on medium speed for 1½ minutes longer, scraping down the side of the bowl again if needed. The batter should look smooth and thick. Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan, smoothing the top with the rubber spatula, and place the pan in the oven.
  2. Bake the cake until the top springs back when lightly pressed with a finger, 42 to 47 minutes. Transfer the Bundt pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Run a long, sharp knife around the edges of the cake, shake the pan gently, and invert the cake onto a wire rack. Let the cake cool completely, about 25 minutes longer.  (My cake pulled away from the sides as it cooled and I didn’t need to run a knife along the sides of the pan.  It came out easily, unlike this one! My cake also fell some.  ALL my cakes fall…I don’t know what I’m doing wrong!)
  3. Meanwhile, make the glaze: Place the confectioners’ sugar, 1 tablespoon tequila, 1 tablespoon orange liqueur, 1 tablespoon lime juice, and the lemon and orange Stevia drops in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Slide the cake onto a serving plate. Using a long wooden skewer poke 12 to 16 holes in the top of the cake. Spoon the glaze over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides. Garnish the cake with the lime slices and a sprinkling of coarse sugar. Let the glaze set for 10 minutes, then slice and serve the cake.
Verdict – This cake was all I hoped it would be….dense and moist like a pound cake, with a nice citrus flavor.  The glaze was delicious and really complimented and added to the flavor of the cake.  The new flavored stevia extracts from NuNaturals are amazing!  Very intense flavor.  I can’t wait to try them in different recipes. (Review & Giveaway coming!)  I only tasted a hint of Tequila in the glaze, and I think that is just because I knew it was there.  It could be left out if you prefer, or increased if you want to intensify the flavor.  (If you add more liquid, you may need to add more confectioner’s sugar,depending on the consistency of the glaze.)  Overall, this is a perfect dessert for spring/summer and is going in the ‘keeper file’!
 
 

I’m linking this recipe up with Homemaker on a Dime, Delightfully Dowling, A Southern Fairytale, Skip to my Lou, The Girl Creative,  All the Small Stuff, Tasty Tuesdays, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Made from Scratch Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday @ For The Love Of Blogs,Blue Cricket Design,Ginger Snap CraftsLady Behind the Curtain, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, A Little Nosh, Simply Delish, It’s a Keeper, Bacon Time with the Hungry Hungry Hypo, Simple Living with Diane Balch, Around My Family Table,  Just us FourSix Sisters’ Stuff, The Sweet Details for Savory Sunday; Finding Joy in my Kitchen (Ingredient Spotlight: Citrus)