Homemade Graham Crackers & Chocolate-Dipped Marshmallows

If you’re a semi-competent human being, this is probably the way that you make marshmallows. If you’re me, it goes something like this:

  1. Wait to do this until you’re at your parents’ house, because the 600 Series KitchenAid that you found for a super-awesome price won’t be yours until Christmas. (And because it’s more fun to make a giant mess in their kitchen.)
  2. Since this is your first time working with gelatin, stick your face in the bowl of gelatin and water to see if it smells anything like jell-o. Recoil in horror at the disgusting scent that assaults your olfactory system.
  3. After a few minutes of the mixer running on high speed, start milling around nervously because the motor sounds like it’s begging you to put it out of its misery. Consider that you might just be paranoid because your mother’s KitchenAid is near the top of the list of Things You Don’t Want to Break (second only to her Vitamix). Also consider that you could tell her to keep your new mixer, but that just makes the thought of breaking hers even more upsetting. Hover over the mixer with your hand inches from the off switch for the next ten minutes.
  4. After you’ve poured everything into the pan, smack yourself in the head because you were so worried about destroying the mixer, you forgot to add the vanilla extract.

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Holiday Giveaway: Winners!

Congratulations to the three randomly-chosen winners of the Homemade Peppermint Patties & Cow Tales giveaway!

Comment #1 | shana : “Homemade turtles. And I would *love* to win your treats!”

Comment #20 | gail {astackofdishes} : “These remind me of Goetz caramel creams that I used to stock in the ice cream parlour/candy store I managed when I was a teen. Wonderful link, thanks! and I like your creams recipe too. Dont like the pasty mint, prefer the creamier. Happy Holidays!”

Comment #10 | Tammy Campbell : “Is that sweetened condensed milk for the recipe? Just making sure :) I make toffee every year and rum balls that the hubby insists on, then scottish shortbread and sugar cookies – and whatever else strikes our fancy :) Can’t wait to try making the peppermint patties this year! :)”

Thank you so much to everyone for your wonderful comments—I wish I had enough to send to you all! But you’ve given me tons of great ideas and inspiration for next year’s goodies, so here’s to dreaming of an absurd abundance of treats in 2012. :)

Happy Holidays!

♥ Carey

Holiday Giveaway: Peppermint Patties & Cow Tales!

This is one of those years when I wonder why I even bother to make cookies around the holidays. Don’t get me wrong, I love cookies. And I love to give people treats. The problem is my inability to plan ahead. I devoted my entire weekend to making holiday goodies. And as I stood in my kitchen Sunday evening sipping a glass of wine and gazing at an endless line of cookies and piles of peppermint patties and cowtales, my sense of accomplishment was suddenly eclipsed by one question: What the heck am I going to put all these things in?! Stuffing some cookies in a ziploc bag might cut it at any other time of year, but this is December, and nothing less than fancy will do!

That’s why next year, I’m sticking to candy. It has a longer shelf-life, it’s cute, and it’s pretty impressive! And maybe it’s just my sweet tooth talking, but after trying the peppermint patties and cowtales then moving on to the cookies, my initial reaction was, “hmmm, these are good, but I think I’d like them more if they were CANDY.”

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Homemade Grenadine

Ah, December—the month of cookies and candy! Before I roll up my sleeves and get down to serious treat-making business, I’d like to focus the other, equally-tasty part of the holidays: drinks!

A recent interest in homemade soda almost instantly led me to the fascinating world of the cocktail. I’ve made ginger ale a few times in the past two years, and discovered that cooking rhubarb and raspberries down into a syrup will make an entire bottle of vodka vanish before your [somewhat glazed-over] eyes. But the idea of making homemade grenadine was a whole new level of exciting for me. The first time I ever had a Shirley Temple was after my brother discovered a caterpillar crawling over the lettuce on the side of his plate at a restaurant my family would frequent. In an effort to alleviate our horror (more amusement on my part, really), the waitress brought over two glasses of beautiful, bubbly pink liquid. One sip, and I was hooked.

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Shrimp & Alfredo Spaghetti Squash

Fact: This is one of the first dishes to spark my interest in cooking. Actually, the first first thing that set me on the path (other than my mother and all of her awesome home-cooked meals and treats that I took for granted as a young’un) was a Spanish tortilla my friend Whitney made after she returned from a semester abroad in Spain. I remember hovering over the stove watching her cook up a bunch of eggs and potatoes and thinking, “wow, that looks awesome, and really easy!” And then I tried to make one a few months later and totally screwed it up. :D Alas, there was not much room in my college life for cooking endeavors, and those pursuits were moved to the back burner.

But then, I graduated. And got myself a real, grown-up job. And the manager of my department just happened to be pretty awesome at food stuff. One day, she brought in spaghetti squash with alfredo, and I was in awe. “So you’re telling me there’s a squash that looks like spaghetti on the inside? And you cover it in alfredo? I need one. Now.” I found one. I made it. It was awesome. And it’s still one of my favorite dishes! Alfredo—amazing as it is—can be kind of heavy when paired with pasta, so using spaghetti squash is a great alternative. And when my friends at Wisconsin Cheese contacted me about doing a new guest post, I was more than happy to oblige with this. (Especially since it gave me an opportunity to rephotograph the dish, which did make an appearance in all of its icky point-and-shoot glory last year.) So head on over to Wisconsin Cheese Talk and check out the new and improved version!