Thursday, November 29, 2012

Homemade Candy Canes

Candy canes are a holiday favorite and with this recipe from, you can vary flavorings and minty flavor to suit your tastes!


3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
A few drops of red food coloring
Plastic gloves


1. Prepare two cookie sheets by spraying them with nonstick cooking spray or covering them with a light layer of oil. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.

2. Combine sugar, corn syrup, and water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring continuously, until the sugar dissolves. Insert a candy thermometer and continue cooking without stirring until the candy reaches 285 (soft-crack stage).

3. Once the proper temperature is reached, remove the candy from the heat immediately and stir in the mint extract. Pour half of the mixture onto the prepared cookie sheet and place it in the preheated oven to stay warm.

4. Add red food coloring to the remaining candy. Pour the candy out onto a marble slab or heat-safe cutting board. Allow it to sit briefly until it forms a “skin.”

5. Spray a bench scraper or heat-safe spatula with nonstick cooking spray, and use the tool to begin spreading the candy out and pushing it back together, working it across the board and allowing it to cool. Don’t forget to check out the instructions showing how to pull candy if you get confused about the process.

6. As soon as the candy is cool enough to handle (but still quite hot), begin to pull it.If you have never pulled candy before, check out the step-by-step photo instructions showing how to pull candy.
If you have plastic gloves, put them on and spray the gloves with nonstick cooking spray—this will help prevent overheated or burned hands. Take the candy in both hands and pull the hands in opposite directions, stretching the candy into a long rope. Bring the ends of the strands together and twist the candy into a rope, then pull the rope out into a long strand. Continue to twist and pull the candy until it has a satin-like finish and is an opaque red color. Once the candy is still pliable but barely warm, pull it into a strand about 2” thick, and place it on the remaining prepared baking sheet. Put this sheet back into the oven, turn off the heat, and remove the baking sheet with the other half of the candy syrup. The pulled candy will remaining pliable in the warm oven while you work the second portion.

7. Repeat the pulling procedure with the second, clear portion of candy. At the end, the candy should be a pearly white color. Form it into a log 2” in diameter, just like the red candy.

8. Remove the red candy from the oven. Cut a 5-inch segment from the white and the red log, and place them next to each other. Begin to pull the candies together, twisting gradually to form the familiar candy stripes. Once the twisted candy is the thickness you want, use oiled kitchen shears to cut them to approximately 8” lengths. Immediately form the hook at the top of the cane, and place it on a baking sheet to set at room temperature.

9. Repeat the twisting with the remaining candy. If the candy gets too hard to pull, place it in the warm oven for a few minutes to soften, but don’t let it sit too long and melt. The candy canes will get very hard at room temperature, but if left out for long periods of time they will get soft and sticky, so be sure to wrap them in cellophane once they are set.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Tree for Kids

Thanksgiving Tree

When the turkey is history and the kids are restless, here is a craft from Amanda at that is easy and also has a great message!

You will need: 

Poster board
Construction Paper
Marker, Crayons or Colored Pencils

How to do it:

Cut a piece of brown construction paper into the shape of a tree trunk with branches. Glue the tree trunk to the poster board. Help the kids trace their hands onto the construction paper. In each hand, let them write things they are thankful for (or write for them) and cut out the hands. Glue the hands on the branches as leaves".

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Gluten Free Macaroni and Cheese!

Gluten Free Holidays

Holidays are a wonderful time to gather together and share in the joy of family. This means FOOD! If you have a gluten allergy or sensitivity in your family, try this awesome baked mac and cheese recipe...they are shure to thank you!


For the casserole:

12 oz gluten free penne pasta

For the sauce:

2 T light olive oil or butter
2 T sweet rice flour
2 1/2 c milk or soy milk
1 1/2 c shredded aged sharp or mellow cheddar cheese
3/4 c small curd cottage cheese
1/2 t sea salt
1/2 t Dijon or honey mustard
1/4 t freshly grated nutmeg
1-2 T dry sherry or white wine

For the topping:

1 c Crunchy Gluten Free Bread Crumbs
Sprinkle of dried basil and parsley


To pre cook pasta, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil and partially cook the pasta- just to al dente. Drain pasta and rinse under cold water. Set aside.

In a sauce pan, heat olive oil to medium heat and whisk in flour. Cook for about 10 seconds and slowly add in milk. Keep stirring and bring it to a bubble and reduce heat to low. Add cheese, cottage cheese, nutmeg, salt and mustard. Stir. Add sherry or wine. Continue stirring and heating until the cheese melts, a couple of minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine pasta and cheese sauce. Stir,
Sprinkle top of casserole with breadcrumbs and basil.

Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes until heated through.

Serves 4.

Thanks to the wonderful goddess at for this amazing recipe!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Kids and Computers

Whether we like it or not, kids and technology is a combination that is here to stay. With all the rewards that come with learning the ins and outs of computers and the internet, there are also quite a few risks.

The absolute best thing you can do as a parent is to set rules, as well as a good example. offers some good advice on the topic:

1. Set up a where. What areas are technology free in your household? Bedrooms are difficult to monitor after lights out so younger children may be better off with access to a computer in a study or office.

2. Definitely decide on a when. Mealtimes and other family times are important to spend together without interruption.

3. Get Internet savvy. offers some tools to limit what your kids can access online as well as limiting time spent on the internet as well.

4. Have an open discussion about what is and what is not allowed to be done online. Younger children will probably benefit from a safe list of what sites are allowed.

5. Follow your own rules! If mealtimes are off limits for technology, parents should lead by example! Obviously, there are some occupations that are not limited by set hours...but do your best to limit yourself as well.

6. Decide which social media sites will be allowed and which ones aren't. The USA requires children to be over 13 in order to create profiles on most sites that can be accessed by adults as well. Play by the rules and allow children to create only profiles on sites that are aimed at kids.

Above all, talk to your kids about the dangers that can be found online. Let them know that not everyone will be exactly who they say they are and giving out personal information can be dangerous.