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!