Friday, December 31, 2010

The Perfect Cocoa

Now that it finally snowed in Colorado this year, it's time to break out the cocoa recipes. I love mine thick with melted chocolate, of course. No packaged cocoa for this chick! So, has a great recipe:

Bring 4 cups whole or low-fat milk to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Mix 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder and 3 to 4 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate in a bowl, then whisk into the milk. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring, until the chocolate melts and the cocoa is thick, about 2 minutes. Divide among 4 mugs and garnish each with homemade marshmallows (see below) or whipped cream.

Although, I use powdered sugar instead of regular sugar....and use a little more of the bittersweet chocolate. I never go exactly by a recipe. That's just me. I also like to add powdered espresso if it's just for the hubby and me. ;)

And, toppings, toppings, toppings!! My faves are: peppermint sticks, whipped cream, marshmallows, chocolate chips/chunks.... the richer the better, I always say. hehe

More toppings to use: cinnamon sticks, nuts, coconut, white chocolate, peanut butter chips, toffee, dried cherries, dried cranberries, candied orange peel, red pepper flakes, caramels.... oh the possibilities!!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Espresso Caramel Bars... oh my!

I just tried Giada's (you know the cutie patootie on Foodnetwork)... recipe for these super yummy espresso caramel bars. Oh my goodness... it's pure heaven in your mouth. You will love it. They are not hard to make and I am definitely adding it to my repertoire of Christmas candies.



  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • 12 whole (6 ounces) cinnamon graham crackers, crumbled or 2 cups cinnamongraham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, melted


  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
Chocolate Layer:
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked sea salt, optional
Special equipment: a candy thermometer
For the crust:
Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round springform panwith parchment or waxed paper. Spray the paper and the sides of the pan with cooking spray. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the graham crackers and sugar. Process until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Add the melted butter and blend until the mixture forms into clumps. Spread the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan, pressing gently to form an even layer. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until thecrust is golden. Cool for 15 minutes.
For the caramel:
While the crust is cooling, in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of cream, butter, sugar, and water. Stir over medium heat until the mixture is smooth. Bring the mixture to a boiland cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 240 degrees F, about 5 to 7 minutes. Carefully pour the caramel over the warm crust. Cool for 20 minutes. Freeze until firm, about 10 minutes.
For the chocolate layer: Combine the chocolate chips and cream in a small bowl and place over a pan of simmering water. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth, about 3 minutes.Whisk in the espresso powder. Remove the springform pan from the freezer. Pour the chocolate mixture over the caramel layer and smooth with a spatula. Sprinkle the top with smoked sea salt, if using. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour until firm.
Allow the layers to come to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Using a warm, slightly wet knife, carefully cut around the edges of the chocolate layer. Release the side of the pan and remove the paper from the bottom. Cut into 1 1/2 by 1/2-inch bars and store airtight in a covered plastic container.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A new obsession...

Yes, it's been 4 days now... and I'm completely obsessed with a tutorial I came across at Vanessa Christenson's blog. Oh my goodness... I can make my own beautiful flower pins AND flower rings now!! Let me show you...

My friends are all getting big beautiful flower pins to add to their purses or cute little cardigans... so beware!!! They're coming at you SOON! I can't stop making them....and you can check out the tutorials here... her site is pretty awesome!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A really tasty treat to give

Another great gift idea from Southern Living! I made Hot Espresso-Fudge Sauce and put them in 1/2 pint jars with a ribbon. Cute and soooo yummy!


Melt 8oz package of semi-sweet chocolate or unsweetened chocolate and 1/2 cup butter in saucepan. Stir, stir, stir... Add 2 cups sugar and 2 tablespoons instant espresso....stirring.... Add 1 cup milk... stirring..... Remove from heat and add 1 tsp. vanilla extract and 1/8 tsp. salt.

Cover and chill for up to 2 weeks. When giving as gifts make sure you include a reminder to refrigerate!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Is there anything prettier than a cookie wearing pearls?

Ok, so my pictures do not do these sugar cookies justice... I think they look so pretty and sweet out on a red plate. Go buy your cookies some pearls! They are precious... and an easy added touch.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Salt Dough Ornaments

These are so fun and easy to make. It's a super fun craft to do with your kiddos. Mine helped me, and they are so proud of their ornaments. What is better than that??

Recipe for Salt Dough:

3 cups flour
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 cup salt

Heat oven to 250. Roll out dough. We used cookie cutters to make our shapes. But we also made snowmen by hand. (I will post those pics later!)

Don't forget to make your holes for your ornaments to hang!! Bake about 45 min to an hour.

Let cool and then paint, decorate and glitterize!!!

This is also a great gift for your kids to give to grandparents.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Whimsical Kissing Balls?? What, Paula???

I love Paula Deen. Of course I do! And I usually love everything she does...with a little less butter. But I don't think I can get into the "whimsical kissing balls" found on her site. Maybe it's cute but I just don't get it. I would much rather see mistletoe hanging... sweeter and classier. Just my opinion!! Let me know what you think.

An easy and adorable cookie to pass along...

This is so cute and EASY. If you need a pretty little cookie to give to your neighbors, here it is! Just take your favorite oreos and dip them in white candy melts. Then sprinkle with crushed peppermint. They just look FESTIVE!

Just so ya know...

Being southern does NOT = Bama Belles on TLC! We do not have lawnmower races!! Oh my goodness...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Southern Staple at Christmas


This is so TINSEL!!

We've been watching a lot of Disney's "Prep and Landing" lately so the lingo is rubbing off. But, really, this is soooo tinsel!! I am totally planning on making these for preschool teachers. I love love love them!

My new blog!!

Welcome to my southern corner of the blogosphere! If you like a little southern charm, a little artsy fartsy(ness), and some cooking chat, then please join me. I love my Southern Living magazine! I love my Auburn football! And, I love to talk talk talk!!

That's right, y'all... let's keep it southern in Colorado. :)