Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dipping Chocolates

Today was the day to dip all that yummy creamed fondant.  I am getting ready for our Christmas Eve party and wanted to give each person a little piece of heaven on their plate.  Start with a high quality chocolate (Alpine- which is a milk chocolate); Peters Burgundy (which is semi-sweet); or others that are good quality.  I use 2/3 burgundy and 1/3 milk, which I think is perfect. If you put the chocolate in a metal or glass bowl, and set in your oven overnight with only the light on (the oven itself is NOT on), the chocolate will be ready to go in the morning.  That tip came from my friend Kristen, who is the chocolate goddess.  Once I stir the chocolate from the oven, I put it in a cold electric skillet.  When the chocolate gets too thick, turn on the skillet for about 5-8 seconds, while stirring, then turn off.  The chocolate will be perfect again.

 1.  Roll Fondant into small balls.  You want them to be at room temperature, or just slightly chilled.  If they are too cold, they will make your chocolate harden too quickly.

2.  Using fingers, dip each fondant ball into chocolate, shaking your hand as to get rid of the extra chocolate.  Open your fingers and place dipped ball onto pan with Silpat or waxed paper.  It is really messy on this step.

3.  Let chocolates sit at room temperature until chocolate is no longer glossy.  If desired, you can put white chocolate on top, dark chocolate on top, etc.  


4.  Put in individual boxes- and WOW your guests!  Delicious!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

English Toffee

This is definately the time of year that I love making candies.  This will be a gift for the music teachers, and for my dad, who loves nuts, and this type of thing. This recipe can be doubled, or tripled depending on the amount you need.  This recipe can either use a candy thermometer, or it will turn out well without (by following directions).

English Toffee
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 pound salted butter (no substitutions)
1 cup nuts (pecans, almonds, hazelnuts)

In large frying pan over high heat (you will keep it at high the whole time), melt together butter, water and sugar.  Stir constantly.    If using a candy thermometer, boil until mixture reaches 300 degrees F.

If you are not using a candy thermometer, do the following:  When mixture starts to turn brownish, add nuts.

Continue to cook and stir until mixture is the color of a brown paper bag.

Pour mixture onto UNGREASED jelly roll pan.  Let the mixture take its own shape.

When mixture starts to cool, you can sprinkle chocolate chips on top if desired.  Let sit until melted, and then spread.

Can add more chopped nuts on top if desired.

Package in cute jar and Wa-Lah!  Another great, fabulously delicious, inexpensive gift.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Homemade Fudge

It's Fudge Day!!!!  Every year, my sister and I get together and make fudge.  LOTS of fudge.  Usually 30-40 pounds of fudge!  This is what we give many of our neighbors, co-workers, and friends.  This recipe was handed down from my grandmother, Mazie, who said it was the original See's Candy fudge recipe.  In my opinion, it is better than the fudge bought at the candy store.  Another great thing about this recipe is that you don't even need a candy thermometer, AND it turns out perfect every time!

See's Fudge
4 1/2 cups sugar
1 large can evaporated milk (not condensed)
1/2 pound butter (no substitutions)
1 jar marshmallow creme
18 oz. chocolate chips (semi-sweet*)
Pinch of salt

In bowl of mixer, put chocolate chips, marshmallow creme and butter.


In heavy pan, mix together sugar and evaporated milk.


Bring to a boil, and boil for 8 minutes.

Pour sugar mixture over ingredients in mixer bowl.
Beat for 15 minutes on low-medium speed.

Pour into containers.

Decorate and give away {make sure you keep one-or two-for yourself!}

For Maple-Nut Fudge, use 2 1/4 C brown sugar and 2 1/4 C white sugar, and instead of semi-sweet chocolate chips, use white chocolate chips.  Add 1-2 tsp maple flavoring (to taste). 

You can also substitute milk chocolate chips for a lighter, milkier taste.  I have also mixed dark chocolate in with the semi-sweet.  YUMMY!!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Budgeting on an Irregular Income

The great thing about a budget is, it keeps us on track, right?  I have come to feel like a person without a budget is like a car being driven by an 8 year old!  Scary!  I only know that from experience, unfortunately.

What about when there is not a steady income?  Here is a small article that I submitted to the Random Sampler in the Ensign magazine a couple of years ago about budgeting on an irregular income:

“Random Sampler,” Ensign, Mar 2007, 72–73

Budgeting on an Irregular Income

Katie Stone, “Budgeting on an Irregular Income,” Ensign, Mar. 2007, 72
One of the hardest things my husband and I have encountered while being self-employed is maintaining a budget. With a fluctuating income, it can be a challenge to plan for expenses. For us, the key to successful budgeting is creating a “steady income.” We do that by depositing all net income into one account and paying ourselves a monthly household salary, a median of the highs and lows. In other words, even when the previous month’s income was high, we maintain an average income, thus leaving enough to cover the low-income months as well. To successfully track our spending, we have established a detailed spending plan that includes all our fixed and periodic expenses. We also maintain a careful savings plan. The saying “don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched” is especially relevant when you are self-employed. You cannot spend what you make month to month. You have to look at the overall picture and set a budget plan within fixed parameters.
Katie Stone, Utah

Monday, December 7, 2009

72 Hour Kit: Week #10: Children's Survival Kit

Store these items in a waterproof container. A plastic bucket is ideal for this! Store it near the other 72 hour kit items.

Scriptures (small military style, available at distribution center for $4)
Books and magazines
Activity and coloring books
Markers, colored pencils (do not store crayons as they can melt and make a huge mess)
Card games: Uno, phase 10, facecards
Small toys
Hard candy (individually wrapped lifesavers). Remember, hard candies can melt, so plan accordingly.
Creative games list
Wooden blocks
Metal washers

Creative Games List (this list was found in a friend’s file, and it didn’t have a name on it to give credit to)

Drop in a bottle
Pitch at a target
clothesline relay

Wooden Blocks:
Print letters on cubes. Roll cubes to spell words. First one to make 10 words wins.

Roll them at a target
Toss them in a box
Old fashioned marble game

Metal washers:
Toss them into numbered cups

Paper cups:
Tossing game
Blowing relay

Paper Plates:
Toss through a wire coat hanger

Marble blow relay
Bean relay

Carry ball
Flip beans at target
Carry cotton balls

Feather Volleyball: Blow feather over string or net
Toss them at target
Blow them over the line relay

To do this week at home: Relax and know that you have done what we have been counseled to do- your 72 hour kit is ready to go!!!!!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Storing Onions

I think one of the best ways to save money on my food budget is to not let food go bad!  Obviously when it goes bad, it must be discarded, therefore throwing money away.  This fall, I harvested about 100 onions from my garden.  Although we love onions, we can't eat that many in the very near future, nor do I have fridge space for them.  A great way to store them to last through the winter months, is to put them in old nylons!  This keeps the air circulating to the onions, as well as keeps them from touching one another.  Simply cut the old nylons in half, so the legs are separated.  Put an onion in, working it to the very toe of the nylon.  Tie a knot.  Put the next one in, etc.  I then tie the two legs back together and hang them in my garage. When you need an onion, just cut the bottom one off!  Stored this way, they will last through the winter months.  Note:  when you are putting the onions in the nylons, make sure you don't put any in that are soft, or that the stems are growing.  They won't last!  Just use them up.

This is also a great way to stock up when onions go on sale.  I saw yellow onions at the grocery store on sale for $3.99 for a 25 pound bag!  Fabulous!  much better than paying .69 cents per pound!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Homemade Neighbor Gifts Under $3.00

Here are some fabulous ideas for original neighbor gifts. And the best thing is, they are all under $3 to make! These ideas came from Kristine Mckay Designs where all the instructions and downloads are.  It is so refreshing to see some original ideas, that are do-able!  Have fun! 


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cream Centers For Chocolates (Creamed Fondant)

Doesn't the mere word of "Holiday" remind you of goodies?  For me, it sure does!  Here is a yummy recipe for the cream centers in dipped chocolates.  You know, the creamy, delicious middle that keeps you eating the chocolates?  Before you start, make sure you have a good candy thermometer, and a heavy pan.  Check your thermometer.  One way to check, is to put your candy thermometer in boiling water for 3 minutes. It should read 212 degrees F. If your thermometer reads any different than that, adjust accordingly. For instance, mine read 205 degrees. So, when the recipe calls for the mixture to be 235 degrees, mine was done at 228 degrees.

1 1/2 cups whipping cream
4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 TB corn syrup
1/2 cup butter

Butter sides of a heavy saucepan.  Combine cream, salt, sugar, corn syrup and stir until mixture comes to a boil.  You can put a lid on to steam down any sugar crystals if you prefer, or just wash the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush.

Without stirring, cook to 235 degrees (I cook mine to 228 degrees- see above).

Pour out on marble or granite counter.  If you do not have this type of counter, you can pour out onto a chilled jelly roll pan. Cut butter into small pieces and place on top of hot candy (it may not melt completely, but will eventually as you beat the candy).

When a fingerprint remains in the warm candy, begin beating.  I use a metal spatula in each hand and start working the mixture. You can add flavoring now.  If you are adding cherries, nuts, etc. wait until beating is complete and then knead desired additions into mixture.  Beat until dull and set up.

Mixture will begin to turn white and creamy. 

Fondant is ready!

Place into plastic bag and refrigerate until ready to form into centers for dipping. Can be refrigerated for 4-6 weeks, or frozen.

  • Mints: add 1 tsp peppermint flavoring
  • Fudge: add 2 squares unsweetened chocolate to sugar cream mixtrue at the beginning. Add 1 tsp vanilla when beating.
  • Fudge with pecans or walnuts: add 1 cup chopped nuts to fudge.
  • Chocolate mint: add 1 tsp peppermint flavoring to fudge
  • Coconut: 1/2 tsp cocolnut oil and 1 cup of Bakers Angel Flake coconut
  • Lemon: 1/2 tsp lemon oil, and 1 drop lemon yellow color
  • Orange: add zest of 2 oranges after beating
  • For Pecan Logs: Leave plain and form into logs.  Then wrap in wax paper and chill.
When ready to dip, melt good quality dipping chocolate, and using hands, dip each ball into chocolate.  Put on waxed paper to set up.  YUMMY!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Free Book Downloads at Deseret Book

Who doesn't love FREE?  For a limited time, you can download some great books from http://deseretbook.com/free.   Some of the included titles are:

1.       Please Pass the Scripture (John Hilton III).

2.       What I Wish I Would Have Known When I Was Single (by John Bytheway).

3.       Women at the Well (by Richard and Jeni Holzapfel).

4.       Digging Deeper (by Robert Eaton).

5.       10 Secrets Wise Parents Know (by Brent Top and Bruce Chadwick).

6.       Growing Up: Gospel Answers About Maturation and Sex (by Brad Wilcox).

7.       Saving Kristen (by Jack Weyland). (fiction)

8.       The Hidden Path (by C.B. Andersen). (fiction)

What a great opportunity!  

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pie Crusts

Several weeks ago I attended a class on "Holiday Pies and Candies".  With Thanksgiving just 2 days away, and my sister and I making all of the pies, I thought I would share some things I learned, as well as some GREAT crust recipes!  We started out with a taste test of 6 different crusts, rating them according to taste, flakiest, etc.  The #1 winner in my book was very similar to the recipe I use at home (go figure!).  I still prefer my crust, so I will give you mine, and the two top winners from the class.  Enjoy!

Pie Crust (my favorite)
3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups Crisco
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 pinch cream of tartar
1 egg, beaten lightly
1 TB vinegar
4-6 TB ice water

Mix together flour, Crisco, salt, sugar, and cream of tartar with a pastry blender or with hands (I use my food processor).  Mix egg, vinegar, and water and add to dry ingredients.  Knead lightly, being careful to not overmix.  3-4 single crusts.

Pie Crust II
3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups shortening
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 TB vinegar
About 7 TB ice water
Combine dry ingredients and cut shortening in with a pastry blender or two knives.  In electric blender:  mix egg, vinegar, and water.  Add to other ingredients, stirring with a fork until pastry forms a ball.  DO NOT OVERMIX!  Divide dough for crusts and form into balls.  Allow to rest in refrigerator, if desired, but warm to room temperature before rolling.  Roll 1/8" thick, starting from center using light strokes. Roll pastry over rolling pin; unroll over pie plate, fitting loosely onto bottom and sides.  Trim and crimp edges as desired.  Makes 3-4 single crusts.

Pie Crust III (Trans-Fat free)
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup oil
1/3 cup milk
Gently mix all ingredients together being careful not to over mix.  Form into two balls and flatten each abll slightly.  Roll dough between 2 pieces of waxed paper. Peel off top sheet and fit dough, paper side up, into pie plate.  Remove paper.

For single crust pie, trim 1/2 inch beyond edge of pan, fold under, and flute edge.  Prick bottom and sides well with fork.  Bake at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes or till golden.

For double crust pie, trim lower crust even with rim of pie plate.  Tuck top crust under edge of lower crust.  Flute edge of pastry as desifed.  Cut slits in top crust to allow steam to escape.  Bake according to individual recipe.

Soggy Crust: 
  • Do not let the pie sit too long before baking.
  • Keep the amount of water in the crust to a minimum.
  • Preheat the filling.
  • Spread the surface of the lower crust with melted butter.
  • Chill the dough for about 30 minutes to 1 hour before adding the filling.
  • Set pie pan on a metal baking sheet during baking.
Flour and butter mixture becomes pasty (butter starting to melt):
  • Proceed as quickly as possible to moisten the dough and force the dough to accept at least 3/4 of the liquid called for by gently stirring the liquid in with a fork.  The dough may be excessively soft.  Flour the outside of the dough generously.  Wrap and chill.
Large lumps of butter left int dough after moistening:
  • Flour work surface and turn out dough.
  • Press dough into a rectangle about 3/8" thick. This will help flatten the lumps of butter.
  • Fold dough over on itself; gently mold it into a ball, wrap and chill.
Dough is still dry after moistening:
  • Return the dry dough to the bowl; gently tear into pieces using two forks.
  • Scatter drops of water on it and toss with a fork till the dough adheres better.
  • Wrap and chill.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

6-Month Daily Quote Calendar from LDS General Conference

I have been working non-stop the past two weeks getting Christmas Eve presents ready.  We have a great tradition in our family (all my siblings, their kids, and my parents) that we have been doing as long as I can remember.  We draw names usually in July or August.  It remains a secret whose name we have drawn.  Then, we hand make a gift that costs us less than $10.00.  I think I speak for our whole family that we look forward to our Christmas Eve gathering even more than Christmas itself!   My mind is going full gear on Christmas now. 

I have also been working to finish (by request) a 6 month daily calendar with quotes from LDS General Conference.  I gave this to several friends last year, as well as my sister-in-law and mother-in-law.  The week after conference they both asked me if I would give them one for this year!  So, if this will help someone for a thoughtful gift, please feel free to use it!  Click here for the .pdf to download.  I have sent this to BYU for printing, so the whole thing is not put together yet.  When it is completed, I will post the picture.  I just felt good having the quote part done!

  1. I emailed the .pdf to BYU printing (you could email it to any print store), and asked them to print it, put cardboard behind it, cut it in 4, and glue the top, so it is in a pad.   This makes a nice binding so you can rip off the paper each day. Each file makes 4 calendars.
  2. Cut an 8.5x11" piece of heavy cardstock (or cardboard, or chipboard)  in half so you have two 8.5x5.5" pieces.  Glue each piece with cute scrapbook paper.  I bought pressboard from Home Depot, which my hubby cut for me.
  3. Hot glue calendar to the center of covered cardstock or cardboard.
  4. Tie with sheer ribbon
  5. Wa-lah!  A great gift for a friend, sibling, or neighbor.  If you want it to stick to the fridge, put magnets on the back.  These turn out so cute!

    Saturday, November 21, 2009

    72 Hour Kit: Week #9: Special Items

    This is a reminder to remember family members with special needs: infants, elderly, and persons with disabilities:

    For Baby:
    Formula and powdered milk
    Medication and toys

    For elderly:
    Denture care

    For pets:
    Extra water
    Leash, collar and tags

    You could do a food bucket for your pet and keep them together with the family food buckets. 

    Wednesday, November 18, 2009

    Slow Cooker: Chicken Cacciatore

    Chicken Cacciatore

    A 4-pound chicken, cut into individual pieces (or can use b/s chicken breast)
    2-3 TB flour
    1/4 cup olive oil
    2 TB chopped shallots
    1 minced garlic clove
    1/4 cup Italian tomato paste
    1/2 cup dry white wine
    1 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp white pepper
    3/4 cup chicken stock
    1/2 bay leaf
    1/8 tsp thyme
    1/2 tsp basil
    1/8 tsp sweet marjoram
    1 cup sliced mushrooms

    • Dredge chicken pieces into flour.  Heat olive oil in a skillet and saute chicken until golden brown. 
    • Place chicken and the rest of the ingredients into a 5-6.5 quart slow cooker.  Cook on low for 7-9 hours or high for 4-5 hours.
    • Serve with rice or potatoes

    Saturday, November 14, 2009

    Slow Cooker Stew- YUMMY!!

    This is one of our family's favorite cold weather dishes.  It is easy, and I usually have everything on hand. I make a big batch because my kids love to take it in their lunches the next day, and I love it as leftovers as well.  Give it a try!  This recipe was handed down from my husbands family. 

    2 pounds boneless stew meat (brown in a small amount of oil)
    2 medium onions, diced or sliced
    1 cup celery, cut in large pieces
    6 cups carrots, cut in bite size pieces
    4-6 potatoes, cut in large chunks

    Place in slow cooker in layers in order given.  Sprinkle top with:
    2 TB Minute Tapioca
    1 TB sugar
    2 tsp salt
    1 1/2 tsp pepper

    Mix 1 can tomato soup with 1 can of water.  Pour over top of ingredients.  DO NOT STIR.  Cover tightly and cook on Low for at least 5 hours.  Can also cook in the oven at 275 degrees for at least 5 hours.  YUMMY!

    Thursday, November 12, 2009

    72 Hour Kits: Week #8: Important Family Documents

    So, hopefully before starting this week's assignment, your food buckets, backpacks, and equipment tote is finished.  We jumped for joy when we finally finished the equipment!  Yay!

    Our finished equipment duffel.

    The finished food bucket (of course there is one for each person, and our dog).

    Now, to week #8: Important Family Documents
    Keep copies of these records in a waterproof portable container.  Keep originals safe in safety deposit box. Hopefully you have been gathering and copying these in the past few weeks.   Add this waterproof box to tote.

    • Wills, insurance policies, contracts, deeds, stocks and bonds
    • Bank account numbers
    • Inventory of valuable household goods
    • Important telephone numbers
    • Genealogy information
    • Cash ($50 per person). In an emergency, there may be no ATM access!
    • Credit card
    • Passports, social security cards, immunization records
    • Credit card account numbers and names
    • Family records (birth, marriage, death certificates)
    • Flash drive with important information

    To do at home this week: Check fire detectors and carbon monoxide detectors

    Tuesday, November 10, 2009

    Slow Cooker: Mexican Style Pot Roast

    1 TB salad oil
    3 medium garlic cloves
    1 (3-pound) beef chuck or rump roast
    4 medium, hot red or hot green peppers, diced
    2 medium onions, diced
    1 (16 oz) can tomato puree
    1/4 cup red wine vinegar
    1 TB sugar
    2 tsp salt
    1 tsp oregano
    4 medium green peppers, cut into quarters
    1 (10 oz) package frozen whole kernel corn

    Slow Cooker: 5-5.5 quart or 6-6.5 quart size

    In a large skillet, heat the oil. Add roast to skillet and brown on all sides. Remove meat to a plate and set aside. In the same skillet, add onions and hot peppers and cook until tender.
    Combine all ingredients except corn into the slow cooker. Cook on low for 8-10 hours, or high for 5-6 hours. Add frozen corn during the last few minutes of cooking time.

    Recipe used with permission by Ginger Hack (presenter of Gourmet Crock Pot class)

    Sunday, November 8, 2009

    Turkey Cake-Pops

    My kids and I had so much fun making these!  We gave them out to the Relief Society sisters after I taught the lesson today.  They were a huge hit!  These were modified from www.bakerella.com.  They are lots of fun, and so cute!!!  I can't wait to try some Christmas ones!

    1.  Bake a cake in a 9x13 pan until done.  I used a spice cake mix. Cool.
    1. Crumble cake into a large mixing bowl.
    2. Add 3/4 tub of prepared frosting (I used cream cheese flavor).  
    3. Mix well.  Mixture should hold together well when rolled in hand.
    4. Roll mixture into balls that are approximately 1.25 inches.  I used a small scoop to get the right amount, and then rolled it in my palms.
    5. Put a paper sucker stick into the ball, and place on waxed paper (or even better, a Silpat mat)
    6. When all balls have a stick in them, place in freezer for about 15 minutes or until they are more solid.
    7. In the meantime, melt dipping chocolate, or chocolate bark coating according to directions.
    8. Dip each ball, lightly tapping any excess back into the bowl.
    9. Place in strofoam to harden.
    To decorate:  Use your imagination! I went to the grocery store and in the bulk section, found a fruit/nut trail mix.  I picked out a few pieces of orange fruit (I cut them at home into small triangles) for the beak.  I used a raw almond for the head.  I used a small Christmas Light sprinkle for the waddle (is that even what it is called?), sugar eyes (on some, I just used an edible marking pen), and clearance candy corn (Indian corn) for the feathers.
    1.  Make up the heads.  Use the melted chocolate as a "glue".  Put the pieces on the head (beak, waddle, eyes) and let harden. In the picture they don't have eyes yet.

    2.  Take the top 1/3 off the candy corn.  This helps it stick better onto the body. Once again, use the chocolate as a "glue".  I found that the cooler the chocolate is, the better (right before it is too hard to use). This helps the candy corns stay in place better.

    3.  Attach the head.  Stick back into strofoam until hardened.
    4.  Put in sucker bag and tie with ribbon.
    5.  Enjoy!