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Saturday, December 16, 2017

National Chocolate Covered Anything Day

Any day is a good day for dipping things in chocolate.Today is a great day as it is national chocolate covered day. Most things taste better dipped in chocolate. Chocolate covered pretzels, marshmallows, cookies, strawberries, rice krispie treats and the list goes on and on your imagination is the only end. Dipping things in chocolate is a simple and easy way to make homemade goodies. 

Melting chocolate in a double boiler is a great way to start. Place small amount of water in the bottom pan just enough water to touch the top pot is needed. Chocolate or melting chocolate should be placed in top pot. Start heating, frequent stirring until chocolate is just melted, turn heat off and dip away. 

Melting chocolate in the microwave is quickest. Place chocolate in a microwave safe dish. The dish will get very hot so be careful. Microwave at 50% for 30 seconds at a time. In between 30 second intervals stir chocolate. Stirring will help you know when chocolate is melting. When almost melted slow cooking time down to 20 seconds , 10 seconds, 5 seconds. Be sure not to overheat. Stir chocolate when done

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Make Christmas Magical with PNP

Christmas Magic can be created and captured with Portable North Pole. Sending personalized videeo messages and calls from Santa from the enchanted North Pole to children young and old can all be created using the Portable North Pole 2017. 

The amazement of seeing Santa in his home, the magical reindeer, and the hustle and bustle of the elves as they prepare for Christmas Eve. This mobile Santa app will create cherished memories in this modern world we live in. Families all over the world will be able to create an adorable video from Santa that you and your child will remember forever. Visit the PNP website or download the mobile app on iOS or Android. 

PNP will give a free video to every child with a new option to purchase a single premium video ($4.99) or upgrade to premium package, including the Video Pass ($9.99) or Magic Pass (13.99). Both packages provide six enchanting video story lines to choose from. Each story line offers five or more minutes of footage to watch. Exploring Santa's workshop as well as an amazing gift wrapping machine are a couple of examples. Create an unlimited number of videos and you will also get a special "Santa's Coming" video to watch on Christmas Eve. The Magic Pass includes HD video downloads and five weekly bedtime videos read by Santa leading up to the big day.

You can save 20% and create Christmas magic with Portable North Pole! Simply use promo code PNP7Family Magic Pass discount at promocode PNP7FAMILY
Video Pass Discount Video Pass EN at use promocode PNP7FAMILY

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Lavender Sugar Cookies

1 stick of organic butter (1/2 cup)
3/4 cup fair trade sugar
1 organic (local, if possible) egg
1 tablespoon organic milk
1 1/4 cups organic, unbleached flour
2 teaspoons organic dried lavender flowers*
1/4 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
a pinch of sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Cream the butter, then gradually add the sugar, beating until light. Add the egg, vanilla, and milk, the beat until thoroughly combined.
Mix the flour, lavender flowers, salt, and baking powder together, then add this mix to the butter mixture. Blend well. Drop by teaspoonfuls on cookie sheets covered in parchment, about 1 inch apart.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges.

You can decorate them with a simple icing.

Pour a 1/2 cup of boiling water over 2 tablespoons of dried lavender flowers. Allow to steep for 10-15 minutes. Strain, then add 4 tablespoons of the liquid to 2 cups of powdered sugar, blending until smooth. Add coloring to tint, if desired, and decorate with colored sugar sprinkles.

*You must use culinary grade lavender, so as to avoid any unwanted chemicals
recipe source here

Why Do We String Popcorn on The Tree

Have you ever wondered why we string popcorn on the tree?? 

Christmas trees of today normally have electric Christmas lights, store bought and homemade ornaments and an angel or star on top of tree. Christmas trees of the past in the United States were often decorated with fruits and other items. Stringing popcorn and cranberries into a garland that wrapped around the tree. 
Fruit was used on trees as the dominant religion in Europe often included pagan rituals. A live evergreen tree or branch in the home was popular in pagan times. Whether it was wishes of prosperity and luck with the harvest or to celebrate the name day of Adam and Eve (Dec 24th) the pine was present. Paradise trees were decorated with apples in honor of Adam and Eve

Paradise trees would grow into Christmas trees. Germany all ready decorated Christmas trees and when they came to America they brought the tradition with them. It was Christmas of 1848 before the tradition of Christmas trees caught on. It just so happened that in the winter of 1848 The Queen of England married a German Prince named Albert. The Queen wanted to put a Christmas tree up as it was tradition of the Prince to do. The newspapers would capture the story of the Christmas tree. America would hear about this "Royal Christmas tree" and a tradition would begin. 

So that tells us how Christmas came to be decoration in the home at Christmas but we are looking for why we string popcorn. The origin may not be known but it may have come from necessity. Germans held a tradition of putting fruit on the trees and cranberries were harvested in November and popcorn is often a last of the season vegetable so the two were most likely strung together. 

You will need the following materials:
  • popped popcorn (unbuttered)
  • popped popcorn (unbuttered, of course!)
  • fresh cranberries
  • embroidery floss or other heavy thread
  • needle
  • Place the cranberries and popcorn into bowls to make it easy to access them as you string.

Cut the embroidery floss into 5-foot lengths. This makes it easy to manage. You can connect them later for longer garlands. Thread the needle with the embroidery floss (I used 3 strands), then thread one cranberry down to the end and knot the thread around it to make an anchor.

Thread the popcorn and cranberries in a pattern until thread is full (I did 1 cranberry, 3 popcorns, 1 cranberry, 2 popcorns, etc., but you can do whatever pleases you), avoiding any squishy cranberries

Leave enough of an end to tie another cranberry-knot when you’re done. If you would like a garland longer than 5 feet, leave a length of thread beyond the cranberry knot, which you can tie to the next garland.

When Christmas is over you can put the garland outside and let the wildlife enjoy it

Vegan Gingerbread Nicecream

8-10 frozen bananas
1/4 cup molasses
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 a batch of Gingerbread Cookies, crumbled

Blend everything except the cookies in a high speed blender or food processor until creamy and smooth.
Add 1/3 of the cookie crumbles. Blend briefly to combine.
Speed into a shallow pan or dish. Sprinkle more cookie crumbles on top.
Freeze for at least 2 hours.
Scoop into bowls, top with more cookie crumbles, enjoy!
Keep in the freezer for up to 2-3 days.

recipe source here

Happy Birthday National Guard:::: Thank You For Serving All These Years

December 13th is the day that the National Guard celebrated a birthday. The national guard is a part of the United States Army. Made up of citizen soldiers who hold down full time, civilian jobs, attend school or do both. They are available to provide support and protection to the states civilians or help the military when called upon.

Every state, District of Columbia, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and territories of Guam and U.S. Virgin Islands have both Army National Guard and Air National Guard. The mission of the National Guard and those that serve in it is to serve both community and country. Responding to domestic emergencies, overseas combat missions, counter-drug efforts, reconstruction missions and more. The guard always responds in timely manner, strength, and efficiency to help defend American freedom and ideals.

The National Guard originated before the American Revolution and have helped in many mission. While the guard was formed December 13, 1636 as directed by Massachusetts General Court it was prior to any official militia. All able bodied men from age of 16 to 60 were to join up and come together for battle. There were three regiments established that included the East, South and North. The guard is older than the United States and maintains its roots in Massachusetts. The East regiment is now known as 101st Engineer Battalion, the South regiment is known as the 101st Field Artillery and the North regiment is now split into the 181st infantry and 182nd infantry.

The national guard would grow as the United States grew. Each state would own its own militia as it was known until 1933. World War II  would see thee Air National Guard created to go along with the United States Airforce. Today more than 350,000 men and women serve in National Guard and the Air National Guard.

Root Veggies Help Stretch Your Budget

1 medium red potato (3/4 lb) $0.44
1 medium sweet potato (1 lb) $1.10
1 large turnip (1 1/2 lb) $2.12
1 medium yellow onion $0.70
1/2 lb carrots $0.54
4 cloves garlic $0.32
2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
1 tsp basil $0.05
1 tsp thyme $0.05
1 tsp rosemary $0.05
salt and pepper to taste $0.10
1/2 bunch fresh parsley (optional) $0.38

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel the carrots, sweet potato, and the turnip (turnips usually have a thick wax coating applied before sale). Peel the red potato if desired. Cut all of the vegetables into one inch pieces (potatoes, turnip, onion, carrots). Place all of the chopped vegetables on a large baking sheet covered with foil.
Mince the garlic and add it to the baking sheet along with the basil, thyme, and rosemary. Drizzle the olive oil over top of everything and then use your hands to toss everything to coat. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
Spread the vegetables out so that they are in a single layer on the baking sheet, moving half to a second baking sheet if needed. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes or until soft and golden brown on the edges. Stir the vegetables half way through.
After roasting, transfer the vegetables to a large bowl. Roughly chop the fresh parsley and stir into the roasted vegetables. Season with more salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm!

original recipe here

National Day of the Horse and a special treat recipe for your horse

There seems to be a day for everything. Holiday and / or observance days seemed to fill the schedule. Just take a look around our blog and you will find many great days. Whether you agree or dislike these holidays and awareness days. Since 2004 December 13 has been designated as National Day of the Horse.

Our regal animal friend the horse was recognized for many different reasons. The horse has contributed to man kinds history for centuries. Through history you will be able to see how horses have helped with economical, historical and the all together history of the United States. Today the horse continues to be a recognizable force as shown on the movie screen. Horses have given rise to the transportation system all over the world. Horses continue to work, provide companionship to their owners and contribute to the economy.

By many the horse is more than an animal, much more. Many would say they are objects of national treasure. To ensure that those that come behind up remember the horse we must preserve the history that was passed down. We must make sure that horses are treated humanly as they should be. They should not be used / sold as horse meat. The wild horses should be protected by the nation.

National Day of the Horse helps raise awareness of the contribution of horses and that we should preserve them as well. Spanish explorers are responsible for bringing the horse to North America. Horses that escaped helped the cause of wild horses to spread among the American Great Plains. The horses have helped to clear forest for farmland and offered a form of travel to pioneers.

Baked Carrot Crisp Horse Treats
(Preheat oven to 400 degrees.)
2 carrots, shredded
1.5 apple, shredded
1/3 cup molasses
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup bran
3/4 cup oatmeal
  • Generously grease a muffin tin.
  • Mix carrots and apples into a bowl with molasses, bran, water, flour and oatmeal. Mixture should have a thick and doughy consistency. Add more bran if needed.
  • Scoop dough into a muffin tin and bake in the oven for 30-50 minutes or until well cooked.

Set Up A Hot Cocoa Bar

Classic Hot Chocolate

7 c. milk
1 lb. bittersweet chocolate
1 c. heavy cream
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Winter-White Hot Chocolate

7 c. milk
1 lb. white chocolate
1 c. heavy cream
2 tsp. vanilla extract

For either variation, bring 7 cups of milk to a simmer in a small pan over low heat, then whisk in the remaining ingredients.

Great list of Hot Chocolate Mix ins include:

  • Hot Cocoa (mix, packets, K-cups)
  • Marshmallows (mini, Mallow Bits, peppermint, french vanilla, sugar cookie, caramel – any variety!)
  • Chocolate chips (or white chocolate chips, butterscotch, peanut butter)
  • Candy canes – whole for stirring, crushed for srpinkles
  • Caramel – sauce or Kraft Caramel Bits
  • PEEPS Marshmallows (they are an adorable hot cocoa topper!)
  • Toffee Bits
  • Cookies – Pepperidge Farm Pirouettes are a nice choice
  • Pretzel rods
  • Cinnamon
  • Finely chopped nuts
  • Ovation Chocolate Sticks
  • Whipped Cream
  • Flavored syrup
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Sprinkles
  • Bailey’s Irish Cream, Kahlua or other favorite spirits
  • Pretty straws or spoons
  • Mugs
  • To go coffee cups (not with the adult hot chocolates please!)
  • Tea, Coffee or Cider are nice options to have
Now that you have everything together you simply set out your favorite hot cocoa and fixings, mugs, and a way to heat up your milk or water, and let your guests create their own, delicious, custom drink creations!