Food Gifts


Go ahead and add these Coconut Pecan Pralines to your holiday baking list!!! They are sinfully delicious!

coconut-pecan-pralines

My husband and I recently had a dinner meeting with some of our friends. When I asked our hostess what I could bring, she said dessert. Then her daughter chimed in and begged for No-Bake Cookies. Fine by me! I LOVE NO-BAKE COOKIES!

I had seen a new “No-Bake Cookie” recipe on Pinterest a while back. I thought I would try this new recipe along with the old faithful No-Bake Cookies and see what folks thought about them.

two-cookies

I had a little trouble with these new “cookies”…well, at least I thought I had.

They didn’t set up in time for me to take them to the meeting. UGH! I was a little frustrated. So, what else could I do but start eating the gooey cookies right off the waxed paper with a spoon! Oooohhhh! They were so yummy! Still a little warm…WOW!

I looked back at the recipe. I had not let the mixture boil quite long enough. I probably didn’t stir long enough either. The name of these “No-Bake Cookies” was actually Coconut Pecan PRALINES! I have made pralines in the past, successfully and unsuccessfully. The unsuccessful time, the mixture set up way too quickly. Maybe I cooked them too long. I was unable to set out the batch as individual pralines! It did make a fine topping for ice cream though.

As the afternoon went on, and I fixed a second batch of No-Bakes to take with me, I noticed my pralines starting to set. There was still no time for them to be ready for the meeting. So, I took a double batch of regular chocolate peanut butter No-Bakes to my friends’ house. Their daughter was excited that I left a bunch for their kitchen!

Back at home, however, I had a whole batch of Coconut Pecan Pralines! Oh, poor me! Well, it would be “Oh, my poor pants!” if I didn’t get rid of some of them~and fast!

It was just a couple of days later when we learned of my death of my husband’s 92 year old grandmother. You may remember Mamaw and her Lemon Jello Cake  being featured here as a “guest chef”.

cake with milk

Perhaps you remember some of her handiwork…

Chip's Mamaw made this plastic canvas mail box. Katie loves how it really opens.

We have so many special memories of time spent with Mamaw.

I took the Coconut Pecan Pralines to share with family after the funeral. Everyone loved them. I have to think Mamaw would have loved them too.

no-bake-cookies

No-Bake Cookies

2 cups sugar

1 stick of butter

3 Tablespoons cocoa powder

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups oats

Bring first four ingredients to a boil. Stirring to avoid scorching. Boil one minute.

Remove from heat. Add peanut butter and vanilla. Stir until peanut butter melts.

Add oats. Stir.

Spoon onto waxed paper in bite-sized mounds. Work quickly! They set up pretty fast.

plate-of-pralines

Coconut Pecan Pralines

2 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup evaporated milk

1/2 cup corn syrup

1 stick of butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/2 cups chopped pecans

2 cups coconut

Combine the chopped pecans and coconut in a mixing bowl. Set aside.

Bring the first four ingredients to a boil, stirring to avoid scorching. Boil for 3 minutes!

Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and coconut-pecan mixture. Stir until mixture starts to thicken~about 4 minutes!

Spoon onto waxed paper in bite-sized mounds.

A couple of these in a cellophane baggie with a ribbon and you may as well move to the North Pole!

 

 

 

Earlier this month, we had the opportunity to visit our college girl at school on homecoming weekend.

I couldn’t arrive empty-handed!

homecoming basket

Ouachita Baptist University holds a special place in our hearts. My husband and I met there! Now our oldest is a Ouachita Tiger!

Treats for OBU Homecoming HAD to  have a tiger theme!

Tiger Tails were easy to make and yummy to eat!

First, thread three marshmallows onto a bamboo skewer.

marshmallows on a stick

Melt orange candy melts.

Dip the marshmallows into the melted candy. I actually had to spread the melted candy on my marshmallows. Just be sure you get a little of the candy on the bamboo skewer and the under-side of the bottom marshmallow. If you don’t, the marshmallows will slide down the skewer.

orange candy melts

While candy coating is still wet, sprinkle with orange sugar for extra fanciness.

sprinkled with sugar

Stick the coated marshmallows in Styrofoam to dry.

Styrofoam cooling rack

If you ever let your children use your sprinkles, you can expect cross contamination of colors.

orange and blue

I had to pick out all the blue sprinkles. I think this was pay-back for the time I had them separate sprinkles for me.

blue sprinkles

Melt some chocolate chips in a zip top bag. Once melted, clip the corner of the bag. Drizzle the chocolate back and forth over the orange “tails”. Now they really look like tiger tails! Just don’t twirl the skewer. I tried it. The stripes looked like a spiral not a tiger. Carefree and unstructured is the way to go.

tiger tail treats

Of course I had to use cellophane wrappers to make them look more professional.

I thought this would be a good opportunity to practice my decorating skills a little, too.

college gift basket

I packed up the treats in an old purple Easter basket, handle removed, with yellow shredded copy paper. I needed the paper shreds to cover the foam in the bottom of the basket necessary for the tiger tails to stand.

homecoming basket

I happened to have a big cellophane bag that could house the basket and a big purple bow! Perfect!

The tiger tails were a hit! She even shared with the roommate and suite mates!

Ms. Leta' Chex Mix

We were at John and Leta’s house for a Bible study/prayer meeting last fall. Leta, being the hostess that she is, pulled out some Chex Mix for us to nibble. Y’all, I really needed prayer that night! I could NOT stop eating the stuff! It was so good!

Apparently, I was not the first of Leta’s friends to have this reaction. She had little green sheets with recipes printed up ready to pass out to those who could not control themselves.

I made some for our family that Christmas. Everyone went NUTS!

This year I decided to make the Chex Mix to send as gifts to Chip’s co-workers. (The cute little Santa tags were from the 90% off Christmas clearance one year.)

Chex Mix gift

Reactions at the office were very similar to mine.

I guess since Leta shared with me, I should share with them, and now you.

Thank you, Leta! Now I can get my “fix” any time I want.

Ms. Leta’ Chex Mix

1 bag each:

Turtle Chex Mix

Dark Chex Mix (I could not find this to save my life!)

Honey Nut Chex Mix

Caramel Bugles (Substituted for Chocolate Peanut Butter-they were hard to find.)

Muddy Buddies

Crunch & Munch (small box)

Can of Cashews (I used 8 ounces.)

Mix it all in a BIG bowl.

One batch filled about 10 little treat bags as pictured above.

Now you know my secret, well Leta’s secret.

Use caution when making Ms. Leta’s Chex Mix. It is highly addictive!!!

 

It’s not too late to make Christmas goodies. I made Cranberry Pistachio Bark for my hubby to take to his Christmas party at work.

It was very easy and very yummy!

Christmas treats

I’m convinced that you can glam up anything by placing it in a cellophane bag!

Cranberry Pistachio Bark

Recipe: Okay, it is not really a recipe. It’s just instructions. I doubt you really even need that!

Line a 10×15 pan with waxed paper. Be sure to let the paper hang over the edge.

Melt Almond Bark. I used the vanilla. You can use chocolate if you like.

Spread the melted Almond Bark into prepared pan.

Immediately sprinkle with chopped pistachios and chopped dried cranberries.

Let it sit until set.

Cut into pieces.

Package in cellophane bags. (optional-only for glamorous gifts)

packaged candies

I was inspired by Ina Garten’s version of this bark. She added apricots to hers.

It’s not too late! Head in the kitchen and whip up some Cranberry Pistachio Bark for your friends!

Christmas candies

What a great day we all had on Valentine’s Day!

It seemed to be a day full of FOOD! Yes, I know a muffin doesn’t actually mean “I love you.” My diet has not completely gone to my head!

(By the way, I managed to make it through the day without gaining any weight!

I’m now down 12 pounds! Woo Hoo!)

I didn’t really plan to take pictures of breakfast. Since it was an after-thought, there are bites missing.

We started the day with a toad-in-the-hole. The hole was heart-shaped!

Valentine breakfast

For those of you who may not know what a toad-in-the-hole is, here is what you do:

Cut out a hole from the center of the slice of bread.

Throw a pat of butter into a hot skillet. Add the “holy” bread and the cut out part.

Crack an egg into the hole. Let it set up nicely.

Add more butter and flip to toast on the other side. Finish toasting the toast and cooking the egg.

You can toast then flip and add the egg for a sunny side up egg. My family likes it the other way. They really like the little cut out toasty part, especially with strawberry jam!

I passed out little donuts and tried to say “Do you not know I love you a whole bunch.” Inspiration came from this cute idea. It came out all garbled and strange. Everyone got a big kick out of that!

On to packing the kid’s lunches.

I have been going to do this for a long time. When I cleaned out the craft closet I came across my supplies and MADE myself remember to do it!

Pizza Box Valentine copy

These little boxes came with stoneware cookie molds in them from Pampered Chef, like these. I saved them all these years to make them into pizza boxes! I just used some double-stick tape to attach a piece of cellophane over the opening.

I made cheese pizza from good old Pillsbury Pizza Crust. We usually make homemade crust. This was not the day for that.

Don’t you like my corny little Valentine saying?

The girls LOVED their pizza surprise. They usually take PB&Js to school. Pizza is king in the teen/pre-teen world. Score!

Not only did they have cute pizza boxes in their lunches, but they also had cute cookies!

Dipped Valentine Cookies

I got the idea for these here  on Pinterest one day. Why have I never done this before?!

This is what I took to my hubby for his Valentine treat:

Stud Muffin Valentine

A cellophane bag filled with store-bought mini muffins. Yes, it was another Pinterest inspiration! There are a lot of creative people out there! I did make my own tag though!

Dinner was our traditional steak and potato meal.

Steak and Potato

The girls took charge of the table this year.

candles and sequins copy

White tablecloth, pink tea light candles, red sequins.

water glass

It just wouldn’t be our Valentine dinner without tomato roses. I usually use Roma tomatoes. Walmart was out of them when I went shopping. I think the slicers actually made a better rose!

Tomato Rose

I got some lovely REAL roses from my Valentine! They looked great on the table, too!

Valentine roses copy

Let me just say, the fancy dessert we had this year was to die for!

Dessert

Barefoot Contessa’s Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp.

Oh, my lands! I can not even begin to tell you how yummy this was!

I have seen Ina make this before on her program. I had never had rhubarb before this Valentine’s night. You can read all that Wikipedia has to say about rhubarb here.

I had no idea what I was going to make for our fancy dessert. I was at the health food store with some friends last week when I saw the rhubarb. I recalled seeing the recipe on tv. I bought 5 stalks. Just a hint: unless you are really into organic food, don’t buy rhubarb at the health food store. The tag was missing from the produce section. I only was buying 5 stalks, how expensive could it be? $6.27! I almost didn’t get it. I knew my time to track down more was scare, so I bought it anyway. I’m really glad I did though!

Strawberries and Rhubarb

Just look at that fruit! The smell was amazing! This is the strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, orange zest, and orange juice mixed with corn starch.

crumble topping copy

There was so much crumble topping! Oats, sugar and butter=heaven!

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp baked copy

There were lots of oohs and ahs when it came out of the oven.

Serving Dessert

I borrowed the fancy glasses from my Mom.

family photo

The “Critics” are off at school today. If I remember, I’ll add their comments later. They did fuss at me for once again putting a vegetable in dessert. Hey, the Beet Cake was good, too!

Oh, yeah! I made ’em!

Okay, this information is actually from LAST Valentine’s Day, but it never got posted.

As soon as I saw this tutorial for Bacon Roses, I knew I would have to make them for my sweetie!

The tutorial is great!

Now, as I said, I made these last year, so the details are a little fuzzy.

bacon roses

I do wish I had made more!

I did not drill a hole in my muffin pan like the link suggests. Seems like I just rolled up the bacon slices and put them in my mini muffin pan. I may have stuck a toothpick through them.

I made them on Valentine’s morning–if that lets you know how easy they were.

They were a HUGE hit!

Group Therapy

My quartet helped me deliver my treat along with a song!

the happy couple

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Click here to see more of our family’s Valentine craziness.

What are you cookin’ up for your Valentine?

I say it every year…”I wish I had started earlier!” or “Next year I’m going to start earlier on Christmas!”

Well, this year I actually did it! Hooray for me!

I am a sucker for Christmas craft books! Just look at that cover! The bright green just grabs you doesn’t it?

The Spirit of Christmas 2005

This little gem from 2005 is chock full of great ideas.

One of the projects involved recycling a Pringles can. I like those something-for-nothing kind of projects.

I’ve spray painted Pringles cans before and filled them with goodies. That was easy enough. This project was a bit more involved and not just because I made 20 of them!

Aren’t they cute? Now, let me say this…the book is from 2005. Apparently the Pringles company changed the size of the can sometime between 2005 and 2012. This little template didn’t quite fit the can. I improvised and put a label on the bottom–as if he is standing on something.

nutcracker army

Naturally, you could make these any color you wanted. I made these for the folks at my husband’s work. Blue is the company color, so I went with that. I did toy with the idea of making them all different. Glad I came to my senses!

During the Olympic this past summer, as I watched track and field or swimming, I mindlessly cut out mustaches and eyebrows, etc.

Nutcracker faces

I knew I would never get twenty nutcrackers done for Christmas if I waited until the last minute–like I usually do.

assembly line

Putting the nutcrackers together was fairly easy. Well, mostly. The faces weren’t too bad. I put some of them together during craft days with my friend Joanna, so the time passed quickly.

When I first got started on covering the cans,  I used a large sheet of scrapbook paper. I didn’t like the way it looked. I was able to find some cheap red wrapping paper and thought I had hit a home run. When I wrapped the can with the paper, it was too thin. The words showed through. So, I had to double the paper. When I was down to 2 cans left to go, I ran out of paper. Fortunately, Walmart still had some in stock.

pringles cans

When it came time to actually adhere the nutcracker pieces to the paper-covered can, I was nervous! I tried strapping everything to the can with rubber bands. It seemed like it was a good way to keep everything in the right place and glue a piece at a time. It wasn’t. Besides that it squished the face a little. (Sidenote-The rosy cheeks are made by using a cotton swab and some pink chalk.)

holding on the face

These are the arms. I just rolled the rectangle on a pen to get the curve.

nutcracker arms

Then I just glued the arms on the sides. I used Tacky Glue for the whole project, except for the can. I used double-stick tape there.

gluing on nutcracker arms

The little jacket and belt were a little tricky to line up just right. If I make these again, HAHAHAHAHAHA, I would probably cut the jacket as one whole piece.

Nutcrackers

Lookin’ pretty cute, huh? I had a hard time finding just the right sized beads for the hands. I thought about just leaving them off completely. Then I found these.

wooden hands

They were perfect! I didn’t even paint them. I just squirted some glue up the nutcracker’s cuff and shoved in the little wooden ball.

nutcracker hats

The hats turned out really cute.

Here is a little video of how I made them. Aren’t you impressed at how “hi-tech” I am-ha!

Actually quite the dork! I had the camera strapped to my neck with a headband!

FYI-I did not poke myself with that corsage pin.

Of course there had to be something tasty inside these cute little canisters, and it HAD to be nutty! I thought about making sugared pecans or something like that. Since I was making 20 of these things, that seemed a little expensive. I came across a great recipe for caramel corn that you make in the microwave! It turned out great! The hardest part was finding a grocery store that still uses paper bags!

almond caramel popcorn

You can make your nutcrackers as simple or as fancy as you like. Glitter and trim are fun! I wish I had had time to put a little red glitter on there.

nutcracker army

I realize you won’t have the Olympics to watch this summer, but if you are like me and “say it every year” you might want hit the Red Box and get started soon!

Nutcracker template

Keep in mind the canister size!

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