Crock Pot Candy Gifts

I”m still baking and cooking for the upcoming Holidays. I find a lot of joy making yummy gifts for others. The following recipe is one of my favorites as it is SO EASY! Make up a double or triple batch and give to your friends and family. This also makes a great hostess gift!

Crock Pot Candy

32 oz. Pecans (you can also use peanuts, walnuts, almonds)

12 oz. Semi sweet chocolate chips

4   oz. German sweet chocolate

32 oz. Dark Chocolate Melts (or white chocolate)

I use all dark chocolate, as this is my favorite!

Place ingredients in a crock pot as listed. DO NOT stir. Cook on low for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. DO NOT open the lid. After cooked, stir and drop by spoonfuls on a parchment paper or wax paper lined pan..   Allow to harden (I stick mine in the refrigerator to speed this up) Store in a closed container. SHARE as these are addictive and you can eat them all yourself.

These make great Christmas & New Year’s gifts!

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In the Kitchen with Grandma Jo

I have been baking and cooking for the upcoming Holidays. Nope, definitely not good for the waist line as I do test them all.   This ritual reminds me of my Grandma Jo’s kitchen, always full of fantastic smells and always cookies in her cookie jar. There are times when I feel her in my kitchen shaking her finger at me for taste testing.

My latest culinary creation was “Cranberry-Ginger Chutney”

The ginger gives the cranberries a little kick. Here is a single batch of the yummy goodness. I double the recipe and bottle then freeze (leave room at the top for expansion) so I can have some all year around.

1 bag cranberries

2 cups spiced apple cider

1 cup brown sugar

3/4 tsp grated FRESH ginger (please remember to peel first)

1/2 tsp lemon, lime or orange zest (optional, I use lime)

1/2 tsp salt

In a medium sized pan, boil the cranberries with the apple cider 6 to 7 minutes until you hear the berries popping. Simmer on medium low for about 10 minutes. Then add the brown sugar, ginger, citrus zest and the salt. Let all this goodness simmer for another 20 minutes. Transfer to containers and refrigerate.

If making a large batch, pour the hot liquid (careful not to burn yourself) into canning jars. Invert (set jar on lid) so it will seal correctly. Store again in the refrigerator and give as gifts.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

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Handmade Gifts – Crock Pot Apple Butter

Again this year I am making my Home Made Apple Butter.  Great gift idea!

Crock Pot Apple Butter

6 1/2 pounds apples – peeled, cored and sliced
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (add when finished cooking)

  1. Core and slice apples. I do not peel mine.
  2. Put the apples in a 4 quart or larger crock pot, then add the sugar and spices. Stir the mixture the best you can then cover and cook on high for one hour.
  3. Cook on low (stirring occasionally, I stir every hour), until the apple butter reaches a spreadable consistency and is dark brown in color. This takes 12 or more hours depending on your crock pot.
  4. Transfer to hot, sterilized jars (aproximately 8 half pints), I boil my jars and lids and imediately fill as I take them out of the boiling water. Take care not to fill past the headspace line. Refrigerate any jars that fail to seal properly.

 

To Freeze: Allow the jars to cool. Then, place in the freezer. Use within a year, for the best quality.

 

Slow Cooker Apple Butter

Yield: 4 pints

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 12 hours

Ingredients:

Directions:

Notes:

– I used a combination of Granny Smith, Red Delicious and Honey Crisp apples for this recipe. I also increased my recipe to 9 pounds of apples and adjusted the rest of the recipe accordingly. This yielded 12 half pints.
– The sweetness of your apples will depend on how much sugar you use. I used mostly brown sugar as I try to stay away from white sugar. Adjust according to your apples and preferences.

– You can speed up cooking time by keeping it on high but you MUST stir every hour.
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What a Beautiful Morning

Morning Journaling

It is cloudy out this morning, which makes it a good time to sit down and journal. Although any time is a good time to journal. Day, night, rain or shine, journal and feel the stress leave your body.

Why journal? It clears the heart and soul of things that get in the way. Sorrow, fear, hate. Write them down and close the journal and walk away. Better yet, tear out that page and burn it. You will be surprised how much satisfaction and cleansing this will bring.

THEN, journal about the things you are thankful for in your life, be it either the past or the present. Your family, friends, the animals in your life, there is no limit of people or things that bring you great joy. There is so much to be thankful for each and every day.

I am thankful for the clouds and rain as they are rare where I live. The beautiful sunrise I got to see this morning because my cat Thor Kitty insisted I get up. Now, because I got up, I get the witness and enjoy the rare quiet of my house, as I sit here journaling with coffee in hand and my cat curled up at my side.

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Life is GOOD!

Some mornings are frustrating from the very beginning. My first clue, as I am stumbling down the hall with my eyes half closed, I step into cold cat barf. I suppress the urge to scream as I hop down the hall on one foot so I don’t spread the joy.   I grab paper towels and spray cleaner and clean the gross crap off my foot first. When that is cleaned up I run for the coffee which is so very necessary to get me through my mornings. COFFEE!   But wait…..the fancy automated coffee maker did not start. So I push the manual button as I stare longingly at the empty carafe. Must have my coffee.

To kill time, I start my computer only to find there are three bazillion updates waiting to load! I watch the counter 3 of 468, well this is going to take awhile. I really didn’t need to get any work done, at least not in the near future, as my computer continues to count down the numerous updates. COFFEE!

I stumble back down the hall to get my glasses so I can see…..yes that is the kind of morning I am having, I forgot my glasses when I got up and I really need to see.   On my way back out to check on my coffee, I peek into my daughters bedroom to see her peacefully sleeping.   A beautiful calm look on her face and suddenly everything is fine. Life is good.

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Wake Up!!!!

Wake up and smell the coffee. Well I must be honest, it usually takes drinking at least two cups some mornings.

But don’t you wish you could some times shake people and tell them “Wake Up” the world is passing you by. There is so much to see and do. Smell the roses, the coffee.

My favorite smell is the hint of rain coming. I live in Arizona so rain is rare and the smell in the air, the promise that rain is coming is exciting to me. I usually run to my patio and scan the sky looking for the one cloud that has the rain and then pray it does not pass by my house.

There is nothing like a nice gentle rain while you sit on the patio with your cup of coffee in hand.

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Small Business Owner’s, Diversify!

Diversify

If you’re a Small Business Owner then you probably already know that diversification is the name of the game. If you don’t diversify and grow your business almost daily then you will die a very painful death.

I know several Small Business owners that do one thing and do it well, but over the long haul they are loosing their buyers. You can buy the same product once maybe twice (the second time as a replacement or a gift) and then the buyer is done, they no longer need or want your single product. At this point your buyer moves on to someone else that has grown their business by adding to their product line. They have diversified and their business is growing!

Change or diversification is constant and if you want to grow your business then you to must change and grow. Stretch those creative juices. Look around you, what is your competition doing that you aren’t? Are they on more than one site? Do they promote their business on social media sites? Do they blog, send emails? Take a close look, why are they out selling you.

Don’t allow your business to become stale, reach for that brass ring. When you diversify test the waters first by making a few of your new product and see how that item goes over. No Small Business wants to be stuck with a lot product that bombed out in the market place. Go slow, test a few new products and make sure you market and promote your new line.

If you have a product that didn’t make it, CUT the price, put it on sale, get it off your shelves and make room for what your customer really wants.

“Just as variety is the spice of life, diversification is the key to success in business.” McNulty

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