Homemade Strawberry Marshmallows

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omemade marshmallows are so easy and fun to make that I am surprised anyone is still buying the bagged version. Seriously, they are nothing alike. The homemade version is so silky smooth, light and fluffy…seriously amazing! The best part is creating your own flavors. I have been making my own marshmallows for years because of the flavor options you can create. Vanilla bean marshmallow creates a smores that makes camping a luxurious culinary experience.IMG_1055

For Valentines Day this year, we decided to take the recipe up a notch by adding freeze-dried strawberries to the mix. The result was so yummy I was left wondering why it took so long to try. Many people add artificial strawberry flavoring to marshmallows, but extracts can’t come close to this fresh flavor. Even adding fresh strawberries cooked down into a syrup does not provide the concentrated fresh flavor that freeze-dried pulverized strawberries create.

Cut the marshmallow into heart shapes and the possibilities are endless. Toss them in sanding sugars and sprinkles for a stand-alone confection or put them on top of a steaming mug of hot chocolate on a cold morning. I have to admit the strawberry flavor begs to be dipped in chocolate. Homemade strawberry marshmallows dipped in chocolate, decorated and packed in a box make the perfect Valentine’s Day gift.

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Superbowl Chex Mix

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his Chex mix is better than the halftime show! Everything about this ooey-gooey mix is incredibly addictive. Just one taste will make your guests wonder what sets this mix apart…psst…it’s the honey. Whether you are tailgating or having fifty of your closest friends and family over for the big game, make sure you make enough or it could disappear before the coin toss.




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Cream Cheese Buttermints

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From the time I was a little girl cream cheese buttermints were served at every baby shower and wedding, I can remember.  If the event involved a fancy dress you could be assured these melt in your mouth morsels were being served.

When I got engaged my mother offered to make her “town-renowned” wedding mints. I will never forget the night before my wedding. I was so nervous…I couldn’t sleep a wink. As I paced the floor worrying about caterers, florists, and the weather I felt the knots in my stomach tighten. Going over every single detail in my mind, I remembered the cream cheese buttermints in the kitchen. I nervously ate mints for what felt like an entire night.

Now, I can’t say for sure if it was the calming effect of the peppermint on my nervous stomach or the comfort of knowing they were my mom’s mints, but I can say I walked down the aisle the next day and twenty years later I am still making the same cream cheese buttermints.

This week I was organizing my cupboard of candy molds when I came across the exact heart-shaped mold we used to make the mints for my wedding day. I decided to reinvent these mints for Valentine’s Day with a little more shimmer, sparkle, and pizazz than a wedding or baby shower. Try these incredibly addictive mints and you will soon see why this vintage recipe has become a family tradition.

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Cheaters Fudge



y grandmother was a domestic goddess. She took homemaking to a whole new level and made it look effortless. So, it will come as no surprise that at my grandmother’s funeral a fudge story was included in her eulogy. My grandmother was a young girl during the great depression. Food was rationed and butter was a valuable commodity. One day my grandmother was questioned as to where the week’s rations of butter had gone. My grandmother was quick to boast that she had used the last pound of butter to make fudge. That was the beginning of a legendary candy maker, that I am proud to call my mentor. The patience that great woman possessed resulted in smooth, never grainy fudge perfection.

My grandmother would turn in her grave if she knew I was sharing a cheaters fudge recipe that involves using marshmallow creme. My grandmother did not take shortcuts when making fudge. Her recipe, however, is NOT for beginners or the novice fudge maker. By adding marshmallow creme to the fudge mixture you coat the sugar crystals, keeping them nice and small. Small sugar crystals equate to smooth non-grainy fudge. I have over the years tampered with versions of marshmallow creme fudge recipes, adding more and more butter until I created a version as rich as my grandmother’s original.

I can definitely see how I am genetically related to a woman who honestly felt the last pound of butter she had should be used to create fudge. However, in this busy modern world…I think we all deserve to cheat a little. Enjoy this recipe as the perfect compromise between classic hand-turned flavor and modern-day convenience!

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Chocolate Coconut Haystack

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his is quite simply the easiest recipe you will ever make. It only requires two ingredients…but two perfectly paired ingredients. Even people who think they hate coconut, love the nutty flavor of toasted coconut in mounds of milk chocolate. It is amazing how crunchy the coconut stays completely enrobed in chocolate.

Any candy store I visit is immediately scoured for coconut haystacks. Every box of chocolates I receive is instantly searched for a coconut cluster.  They are classic flavors you can never go wrong with. Sometimes a truffle or cream center can be disappointing, but never a haystack.

This is without a doubt the quickest candy to make, which is helpful as it gets so many requests. It is hard to explain just how good these mounds of chocolate are without popping one in your mouth.  The oil from the toasted coconut gives the milk chocolate a beautiful crisp sheen. The only thing that rivals how amazing they look is just how great they taste!

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Buttery Peanut Brittle



eanut brittle is hands down my favorite homemade Christmas candy. It was never my favorite as a child, it seemed to taste like burnt baking soda. As I got older and learned to make my own, altering the recipe one ingredient at a time, it soon became my absolute favorite holiday treat.

The key to peanut brittle is a little corn syrup to prevent crystallization and a whole lot of butter to enhance the peanut flavor. This recipe is packed with a full cup of butter. This is not common in peanut brittle recipes, but certainly gets credit for the caramel shards of peanut packed goodness! Now, I still add baking soda to create all of the signature air bubbles, just not enough to flavor the brittle.

Try this recipe and you will quickly see why it makes the perfect neighbor gift. This salty-sweet confection packages perfectly and lasts longer than baked goods. With simple ingredients and classic flavors, it is easy to see why peanut brittle has lasted the test of time and is still a holiday favorite!

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Sea Salt English Toffee

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have to pay homage to my amazing grandmother who instilled in me a love of handmade candy. The holidays would not be the holidays without a tray of homemade candy to munch on while playing board games at the dining room table. The buttery crunch of handmade toffee with rich milk chocolate perfectly accented by salty almonds…no commercial candy bar can even come close!

I understand the hesitation when it comes to making homemade candy. Arent the holidays busy enough without the stress of making candy? This toffee is definitely worth it! We are taking the fear out of candy making by providing tips and tricks paving the way to perfection.

For most of the calendar year ease and convenience takes control of my family’s menu. Not during the holidays. The flavors and foods we eat are as much a tradition as the ornaments on the tree. Make this year special as friends and family gather with the traditional flavors that make lasting memories.

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Christmas Crack

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ecember is here and that means it is officially time to make Christmas Crack. This sweet and gooey Chex mix goes by many names…my kids call it crack. Their friends now request crack, and the name has just kinda stuck!

One Christmas about twenty years ago a neighbor brought a version of this recipe to our door. I tried it, and I am ashamed to say that as much as I liked it, I instantly thought of ways I could make it better. The mixture had great flavor but the texture was crunchy. I thought it should be soft and gooey. Over the years I have changed the nuts from almonds to cashews. Added coconut, then decided to toast the coconut. Changed the syrup to include honey and then finally added pretzels. This recipe has evolved so many times, it barely resembles the original.

I am warning you, there is a reason people joke that this snack mix should be called crack…it really is incredibly addicting! I can’t think of a single time I have made just one batch of this mix. I always make multiple batches that cover my kitchen island. Although we still affectionately refer to it as Christmas Crack. Let me warn you that this will soon become New Year’s Crack…Valentine’s Day Crack…Easter Crack…etc.  In no time at all you will be requested to bring this to every gathering you are invited to. We have often joked that we get invited places just to bring the Chex mix. It is seriously that good!!! Pin this recipe as you will soon find yourself needing it over and over.

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Perfect Pie Crust 101

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or a long period in my life pie was my culinary nemesis. When people would use the expression (or is it an idiom?) “easy as pie” I was genuinely confused. Was this a sarcastic statement or were there people in the world who honestly thought pie was easy to make? And, if it was so easy for them to make, what in the world was I doing wrong? I think my lack of interest to conquer making pie came from my lack of interest in pie itself. I was the kid who ate the filling but left the crust behind. When I became a mother and started hosting my own Thanksgiving dinners, I knew this hate-hate relationship I had with pie would have to change. I decided to conquer pie, if for no other reason than to say Thanksgiving dinner had a homemade pie on the table.

I began doing my homework and learned that I probably hated pie because I wasn’t eating quality pie. I learned that there are four types of short-crust pastry (the type of pastry used for making pie). Pate a foncer is a french pastry that includes egg and a small amount of  sugar, this pastry is rich and perfect for tarts that shouldnt be overly sweet. Pate brisee is similar to pate a foncer but incorporates more butter allowing for a lighter crust. It usually has little to no sugar and is perfect for savory pies such as chicken pot pie. Pate sucree is made with a little more sugar which inhibits the gluten strands allowing for the perfect crumble and in my opinion creating the perfect pie crust. Pate sablee is basically a shortbread or cookie crust. It very often has the same ingredients as pate sucree but the process for making it involves creaming the butter, sugar and eggs before flour is incorporated. This is the perfect crust for dainty little tea tarts.

What I have learned is that great pie starts with great ingredients. Just because I don’t like to use vegetable shortening in…well anything, doesn’t mean I don’t understand why people use it. Butter has a lower melting point than shortening and lard making them much easier to work with than butter. So the challenge becomes learning tips and tricks that allow you to use the best ingredients, handle the dough less and create a perfectly flavorful, flaky pie crust. Over the years I have tried it all…shortening, lard, a mixture of two fats, all trying to balance flavor with function. I am here to tell you with this recipe and the step by step instructions and tips, you don’t have to sacrifice any flavor. This recipe uses all butter creating amazing flavor in a perfectly flaky crust. I now love making pie and love eating it even more. Please read all of the instructions after the ingredients. This is one recipe that the steps involved are as important, if not more important than the ingredients themselves. Some of my tips may seem crazy…but trust me. This recipe makes baking pie so easy you will become the star of Thanksgiving dinner!

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