Easy Gift Giving with Store Bought Treats

*This post is sponsored by Rich’s Products as part of the Bakery Because “Give the gift of deliciousness” campaign.
Easy gift giving with store bought treatsIf you know me well, you know that I over think everything.  Often, I get an idea and it spirals out of control until it is so big, and such a production that I don’t have the energy to do it anymore.  But if I can get out of my own head, I can simplify things and not lose the intention behind it.  Take for instance, sweet treats.  I love sugar.  And most other people do too.  But I don’t need to spend days baking special treats to show someone my appreciation or love.  Store bought treats are there for me, ready to use.  While they might be a little plain for my liking, all it takes is a moment to jazz them up and put a little “me” in it.

cinnamon-rolls-and-sugar-cookiesYour local grocery store’s bakery section is an untapped resource.  For real.  Mine has a crazy amount of baked goods, decorated cakes, cookies, and even accessories (the coolest candles and sprinkles!)  So why not embrace it and take some of the stress off of yourself.  And guess what else?  These things taste amazing!

use duct tape and cardstock to create cookie pouchesI decided to pick up some goodies and give them a little repacking makeover.  All I needed was some cardstock and Duck tape to get me started.  Super easy.

store bought cookies are perfect for gifting to othersThese little cookie pouches were really quick to make and I LOVE how they look!  Who wouldn’t want to get a bright pink cookie package?

Repackage store bought treats to share the love easilyI used plain cookies and then picked up other supplies at the store to create individual cookie decorating gifts.  For no other reason than to make someone’s day.  But of course these would work as Valentine’s too.  But guess what?  The store also has frosted cookies!  Instead of these kits, you could just pop the pre-decorated cookies in clear cello bags – letting their cuteness show through.  Even easier.

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Homemade Cinnamon Hard Candy

homemade-cinnamon-hard-candy-for-christmasGrowing up there were a few things I could always count on my mom to make during the holidays.  One of these things is her Homemade Cinnamon Candy.  Aside from working with boiling hot molten sugar lava, the recipe is pretty easy to make.  I had my mom make it with me (for me) for this post.  Side note, she also fed me and my son lunch while she made the candy.  I think I may make my mom a full-time blog partner.  It works out really well for me.

ingredients-for-cinnamon-candyYou just need some light corn syrup, straight up wonderful white sugar, water and cinnamon oil.  You can find the cinnamon oil at your local craft store.  Oh yeah, my mom also bought all the ingredients.  The cinnamon oil came in a pack of two, each bottle being 1 dram.  We only used one bottle, but if you like you cinnamon light-your-tongue-on-fire hot, you may want to use some of the other bottle as well.

stirring-sugarYou mix the sugar and corn syrup in a sauce pan.

candy-thermometer-and-bat-manThen you add a candy thermometer and wait for the sugar to get up to 300 degrees. I think this may also be known as hard ball stage, can anyone confirm?

making-hard-candy-for-christmasIt will take a while for the sugar to get to the right temperate.  I think it took us about an hour.  And can we talk for a moment about how freaking clean my mom’s stove top is?  Gosh I wish I got her cleaning gene. [Read more...]

Easy Microwave Applesauce

Microwave Applesauce RecipeThis is one of my favorite recipes.  Ever.  It is so easy and fresh and have I mentioned easy?  I make extra of this Easy Microwave Applesauce so that I have more of it all to myself.  The green apples make it a smidge more tart than normal applesauce which I love.  I usually make it for Christmas dinner.  Well, I make it a day or two ahead so that I don’t have to do anything on Christmas day.  That is reserved for lounging, eating yummy foods and spending time with the family.  I came across a recipe in Martha Stewart’s Every Day Food magazine (which I can’t find online to link to) years ago and have been making it ever since.

ingredients for applesauce recipeI know that Martha got some bloggers in an uproar recently.  I was not one of them.  I don’t totally disagree with some of the things she said.  She is absolutely correct that I don’t test my recipes until within an inch of their life.  If I had a million dollars, a test kitchen and support staff, then yes, I would test my recipes more.  But she is wrong that I am not an expert.  I am an expert in anything I do in my home.  Because that is where I am free to make whatever I do completely my own and put my spin on it.  I choose to share some of those things with my readers to give them inspiration.  If they make one of the recipes that I share and then make their own changes to it, that is amazing.  There is always room for improvement.  Which is why I made Martha’s recipe better.  OH SNAP!

lego-break-while-cookingSo once you have all your ingredients out and are just about to really get going, you are going to need to stop and listen to a Lego set review.  My oldest creates his own themed sets from the Legos he already has.  And then, like his fave, The Brick Show, he goes on.  And on.  And on about the Legos.  This is where you can feel free to make some changes.  Maybe you don’t have someone to requesting your attention and that is ok.  These are the types of things that happen in my “test kitchen.”

peel-and-chop-applesPeel and chop the apples.  Don’t forget to cut two extra apples for your kids.  If you don’t they will take the ones that are meant for your recipe whenever you turn your back.  I’m sure Alexis did the same thing.

add-spices-and-lemonHere is where I go rogue on Martha’s recipe.  I add a bunch of different spices that I love.  Like ginger, and cloves.  I’m sure Martha is clutching her pearls at the mere suggestion.

mash-applesOnce you mix everything together, you cover the dish and put it in the microwave.  About halfway through you mush the apples with a fork.  I like to leave it really chunky though, but this is totally personal preference.

cinnamon-apple-sauceAnd then you eat it.  It is yummy warm but I think it is even better cold.  I know sometimes tone doesn’t transfer well over this here internet and I want to make sure that you all know how much I respect Martha.  She has built an empire, amassing the most talented people under one company.  And you have to respect someone who is comfortable in her cold, sometimes harsh, persona.  She makes no apologies for being who she is.  And while not everyone will like her, and she may make lots of people angry, she is always herself.  As we all should be.

Easy Microwave Applesauce

Ingredients

  • Adapted from Martha Stewart's Cinnamon Applesauce Recipe
  • 6 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into roughly 1/2" chunks
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • Juice from 1/2 of a lemon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ginger
  • 1/16 tsp clove (use more if you like it, but it is a really strong flavor)
  • coarse salt

Instructions

  1. In a 2-quart microwave safe dish with a lid, combine apples, sugar, lemon juice, spices and salt
  2. Cover and microwave on high until very tender, 10-15 minutes, stirring halfway through
  3. Mash apples with a fork (leave larger chunks for an overall chunkier texture)
  4. Serve warm or cold
  5. Store covered in refrigerator for up to a week.
http://www.cupcakesandcutlery.com/easy-microwave-applesauce/

 

DIY Holiday Garland using Kids Photos

kids craftsI have a really easy DIY holiday garland for you today.  (Yes grandmothers, I made extra sets for you guys too).  Simply take photos of your kids, add letters in an editing program (I used illustrator but I think Pic Monkey works too) and have the photos printed in an hour (try to find a place that do a matte finish).  String it up and you have a super simple but totally adorable holiday DIY.

supplies-for-holiday-photo-garlandTo get the background, I taped wrapping paper to the wall.  I set my camera up on a tripod to try to get consistent shots.  I found the plain long sleeve shirts at my local Walmart (under $4 a piece).  One child gave good face for the camera.  The other barely allowed me to photograph him.  Isn’t that always the way?

DIY-Christmas-DecorI love this because the kid’s personalities really come through in these photos.  Using the holiday colors makes it festive and perfect for the holiday season.  But this would totally work for a birthday garland too (um, how awesome would this be for a teacher’s birthday using pics of the kids in the class?!)

easy-photo-garland-for-ChristmasKids can even help put these together with you.  Boy do I love easy crafts.

Edible Confetti for Drinks

Edible Confetti for Hot Cocoa and CocktailsI am in love with this edible drink confetti, aren’t you?!  I had seen sugar sheets at my local craft store and always wondered what I could do with them.  So one day I decided to grab one and see if I could use punches to make edible confetti for drinks.  It totally worked!  And I just love how they turned out.  While I only did the edible confetti in hot cocoa in these posts, I know they would be awesome in cocktails, juice and pretty much any other beverage you could think of.  They would even be pretty darn cute in milk (the sugar sheets come in colors too! And while my store didn’t have them they come in patterns and letters too!)

Use Sugar Paper Sheets and Hole PunchThe sugar sheets are pretty thin but still sturdy enough to work with.  I just cut a strip off with regular scissors and used it in my punch.

Use Sugar Paper to make edible confettiI tried a few different punches and they all worked great.  The options are totally endless.

Triangle edible drink confettiYou can do super trendy triangles.

Edible word drink confettiYou can holla at your girl.

heart shaped edible drink confettiYou can send a love note to your boo.

Polka dot edible drink confettiOr you can make cute little polka dots.

Hot chocolate with edible confettiMy youngest LOVED having them in the hot cocoa.  The sugar sheets are slightly sweet and taste kind of like fondant but are so thin there is actually very little flavor.  I was worried about how quickly the edible confetti would dissolve in the warm drink but they totally held up.  Quick tip:  to put them in the drink so they look cutest, you have to try to drop them so they land evenly.  If you drop them in sideways, they have a tendency to dip in to the liquid and you end up with some on top.  It still looks cute but you do not get the maximum cute factor.

I hope you will try this out in your beverages and let me know how you liked it!