Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hot Chocolate

It has been mighty cold here in south Texas,
and by cold, I mean in the 50's.

People are acting like it's the next ice age,
and by people, I mean my kids.

So I've warmed them up with an 'All You Can Drink' 
hot chocolate bar...

Creamer Family Hot Chocolate Mix

Mix together equal quantities of:

Unsweetened Cocoa
Dried milk
Powdered coffee creamer 
(I like a flavored one like French vanilla)

Mix together and store in an air tight container.
Put 2-3 teaspoons of mix into warmed milk or water.

Just remember to drink responsibly!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Just call me Lady Marmalade

The very first fruit tree I planted in our backyard was a Satsuma Mandarin orange tree.  We've only gotten 2-3 oranges the past couple of years, but this year we are up to our eyeballs in oranges!
 I thought a great way to preserve them would be in a batch of marmalade.

About 9 medium sized Mandarin oranges
Juice of two lemons
Approx 2 cups of water
3 cups of sugar

Peel oranges. Scrape the white pith off the peels using a butter knife or edge of a spoon. Cut the peel into fine strips. The amount of peel depends on whether you'd like more or less of it. I used almost 2 cups of cut peel. Place cut peel into a large pot and add the 2 cups of water. (If you're using more peel, add enough water to cover the contents of the pot).

Boil peel until soft, about 10 minutes. Measure out the liquid that's left (I had about 1 cup) and replace with the same amount of fresh water. Do this to lessen the bitterness, you can always omit this step if you like your marmalade more bitter. 
While the peel is boiling, pick off as much of the white pith and membranes of the oranges segments as you can. Also remove any seeds. Place fruit and lemon juice in a food processor and puree til an almost smooth consistency. Add this mixture together with peel and water into a large stainless steel pot and bring to a boil.

Add sugar. Stir often until consistency thickens, about 30 mins. depending on how juicy the fruits are, or until a candy thermometer reaches 220˚F (104˚C), that's the gelling stage.

In my batch below, I decided to just thinly slice my lemon instead of juicing it.  I like the look of "slices" in the marmalade and it also added a nice texture.

Fill into sterilized jars, seal with their lids and allow the jars to sit in a hot water bath for 10 mins. Remove and let cool at room temperature until you hear the "pop" of the button on the lid.  That means it's sealed properly and those jars will keep on the shelves for months. Those that don't seal properly can be kept in the fridge.

This is seriously good stuff!

It might even make you sing, 
"Gitchi Gitchi Ya Ya Da Da!"

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Halloween, just a few days late!

We had a super fun day on All Hallow's Eve starting with pumpkin carving.  The boys did great jobs on their pumpkins 
(and freaking out Mary Grace with "pumpkin guts!).
Kyle carved this awesome skull in a cave:

We stopped buying costumes years ago because I insist that we make them, I think it's sooo much more fun that way!
We had watched, "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" a few days earlier and Danny thought it would be funny to be Charlie Brown in his ghost costume.  There really is nothing better than a plain white sheet and black paint for a ghost costume!

"Did you get anything good in your treat bag, Dan?"

"I got a rock."

John Paul totally embraces the 
guts and gore of the season:

A little face paint and LOTS of fake blood 
and we have the "Turtle Creek Slasher!"

Last of all is the 

I made this princess dress without even asking Mary Grace what she wanted to be.  After raising four boys, I was going to get my pretty pink princess, dag-nabit!  
When I revealed her dress to her she was totally disappointed.
"I want to be Cookie Monster!" she said.
"Too bad, sister!  You're a princess THIS year!" I said.

And once she realized people give you candy, 
she was OK with it.

Now time to raid my kid's candy bags,
but not Danny's, 
all he got were rocks!

Happy Halloween!