Monday, December 28, 2009

No-Bake Cookie Twofer: Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Cookies and Coconut Bon-Bons


Plateful of Christmas CookiesImage via Wikipedia

I hate to cook, but I quite like to bake. This really doesn't work out well for me because we don't have an oven here in Costa Rica. What's a girl to do for delicious baked goods during the holidays without an oven? Buy them at the local bakery? Nope. The bakeries here don't make anything good (in my opinion) besides doughnuts and whole cakes; everything else is dry and brittle, full of hydrogenated oils (trans fats), and/or tasteless. Costa Ricans also seem to be generally confused about chocolate; for some reason they think it's supposed to be made with shortening and have no taste of cocoa whatsoever. The result is much like the oily and rubber-like "icing" top on a Hostess cupcake. No thank you.

My solution to the no-oven dilemma? No-bake cookies! That's right, cookies made entirely on the stovetop. Quick, easy, delicious.

These first cookies, I'll admit, don't look that great, but they *do* taste good. A variation that I tried with half the batch is to roll them into balls instead of just plopping them onto the wax paper. Let them chill in the fridge an hour or two and then roll them in powdered sugar, so they end up looking like doughnut holes. The result is a much prettier, still tasty cookie that looks nice when paired with the bon-bons in the following recipe. Almost like I planned them to go together.

Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients
2 cups sugar
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 Tbs cocoa
1/2 cup peanut butter (optional but recommended)
3 cups rolled oats (or sub rice krispies cereal)
1 cup powdered sugar (optional)


Directions
  1. Combine all ingredients except peanut butter and oats in an medium-size pot and cook over medium heat. Bring to a boil.
  2. Let boil for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and oats.
  4. Spoon out quickly onto wax paper or aluminum foil.
  5. (optional) Refrigerate for 20 minutes to an hour, then roll into balls and coat with powdered sugar.
  6. Cookies will harden as they set.




Coconut Bon-Bons

Ingredients
1 (15 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup butter margarine
2 1/2 cups sugar (powdered works best, but either will do.)
1 (12 ounce) package shredded coconut
1 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup whole milk/cream/condensed milk
1 cup crumbled or ground peanuts

Directions
  1. Mix together condensed milk, butter, 2 cups sugar, and coconut. Cover with wax paper and chill for 24 hours.
  2. In medium-sized saucepan, combine cocoa powder, milk, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let cool 20 minutes.



  3. Roll coconut mixture into 3/4-inch balls and dip into chocolate.
  4. (optional) Roll in nuts.
  5. Place on wax paper to cool and dry.


Serving suggestion: Ever had frozen bon-bons? These are better; I guarantee it. Freeze them. You'll thank me. There's a reason there's only 1 left.







No-Bake Cookie Twofer: Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Cookies and Coconut Bon-BonsSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, December 21, 2009

Give Homemade, Wrap Homemade: How to create your own festive and frugal wrapping paper, gift bags, and gift boxes.


Since we've dedicated the last several posts to homemade and frugal gifts, it's only fitting that we now share homemade and frugal ways to wrap those gifts. There's no use worrying about saving money on gifts and then spending the money you saved just to wrap them, right? So here are some ideas for cheap, cute, thoughtful giftwrap.

Make your own wrapping paper
Turn paper grocery bags into functional works of art. Use them plain and dress them with pretty ribbon or colored twine or get creative and decorate the paper with paint, crayons, or colored pencils.

If you're making paper for more than one gift, chances are you'll want to mass-produce to save time. This is where the stamps come in. Use rubber stamps and ink, X-mas cookie cutters with paint or make your designs by carving some potato stamps. If you've got kids, give them some finger paint or crayons and let them go to town. This is a great opportunity to involve them in the giving process.

If you don't have paper grocery bags lying around, art and school supply stores offer economically priced brown or white butcher paper on large rolls. No paint around? Dying with coffee or tea can give some surprisingly classy-looking results. I especially like the vintage-y combo of coffee or tea-dyed newspaper.



Alternate Wrappings
Don't have the time to make your own wrapping paper? Or perhaps you're not feeling very artistic? No problem. Try wrapping gifts with other spare items such as:
  • scrap fabric

    Traditional Japanese wrapping cloth,furoshiki,...Image via Wikipedia

  • maps (if you don't have a bunch of old ones lying around like I do, you can pick them up from your local tourist information office for free)
  • old newspapers or comics
  • children's artwork
  • magazine pages—choose festive spreads or be clever and pick pages that hint at the recipient's interests or even the gift itself


Boxes, Bags, and More

Need something to protect your gift before you wrap it? Try one of these before you pay for a gift bag. (If you must buy gift bags, hit up the dollar store first; they usually offer them for 1/4 what regular stores charge.)
  • shoeboxes
  • coffee cans
  • oatmeal canisters
  • baskets
  • glass jars
  • check out this tutorial about how to turn a cereal box inside out for a frugal, eco-friendly gift box



Tags
Hole punch, add ribbon, et voila!
  • scrap cardboard from food boxes
  • scraps leftover from grocery bags or wrapping paper
  • cards from old board games
  • playing cards
  • last year's Christmas cards




Bows/Gift-toppers
  • old hair ribbons, bandannas, or scarves
  • scrap fabric or ribbon
  • Christmas ornament (homemade or otherwise)
  • for children: spare GI Joes, Polly Pockets, or other small toys
  • a sprig of holly or spruce
  • tissue paper (or plastic grocery bag) pom-poms
  • candy canes or other festive-colored candies
  • a few loops of cranberry garland
  • small glittered pine cones
  • paper grocery bag handles (these can be quite easily glued into cute bows)







Give Homemade, Wrap Homemade: How to create your own festive and frugal wrapping paper, gift bags, and gift boxes.SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Giveaway: Peapod $10 credit


A grocery store in David, PanamaImage via Wikipedia

In honor of nothing in particular, TAiMH is giving away a $10 credit, good on your next order from Peapod.com, the online grocery delivery service. There's no minimum purchase amount to use this credit, so if you just want to get $10 of free groceries, that's fine by me. Use it however you like. If you don't already have a Peapod account, it's quick and easy to open one. Peapod's service is not available everywhere; check their website for details.

To enter the giveaway, just leave your e-mail in a comment below, so we can contact you with the credit code when you win. ;)

Giveaway ends 12/30.


Disclaimer: Peapod.com does not sponsor this blog in any way. I'm pretty sure they have no idea we even exist.


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]






Giveaway: Peapod $10 creditSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, December 14, 2009

Quick Hack: Easy Recycled Materials Christmas Candle Holder



Make a pretty, festive, tapered candle holder for absolutely free with items you have sitting around the house.


Materials
4 toothpicks
glue
1 candle
2 rubberbands
pocket knife or craft knife
wide ribbon or scrap of fabric
any plastic container with a spout that roughly fits your candle (I used a small bleach bottle.)


Directions
  1. Cut your container about 2 inches from the top.

  2. Cut it again about 3 inches from the bottom.

  3. Discard the middle piece.

  4. Invert the top piece and insert it into the bottom piece. Glue to secure them together. This is your holder.

  5. With your knife, cut small notches into the middle of your toothpicks. This isn't essential, but it helps the glue hold them together better. Two of the toothpicks will need one notch on each side; two of them (the top and bottom toothpicks) will only need one notch each.

  6. Stack your toothpicks in a star formation and glue, preferably with either superglue or a hot glue gun.


  7. While the star is drying, wrap your ribbon or scrap fabric around the holder and glue in place. Use the rubber bands to hold the ribbon or fabric in place while the glue dries.

  8. If desired, paint or otherwise decorate the star. Gold glitter looks especially nice in candlelight, I think.

  9. Once both the holder and the star are dry, glue the star onto the ribbon/fabric. Balance between the candle and the toothpick container until it dries, et voila!






Quick Hack: Easy Recycled Materials Christmas Candle HolderSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

33 Easy and Frugal Homemade Holiday Gift and Decoration Ideas


a red blown glass Christmas tree ornament, a t...Image via Wikipedia

With the unemployment rate at a record high and the economy doing so poorly, many of us have resigned ourselves to giving and receiving less this holiday season. But that doesn't have to be the case. Homemade gifts are more thoughtful and personal, as well as more frugal. There's no reason being on a budget has to mean toning down the fun and festivity of the giving season.

Making homemade gifts for kids can be more challenging. They've likely had a list of expensive toys or video games ready for the past month. If this is the case, choose one or two of the less expensive items on their list and combine it with one or more homemade gifts from the "Especially For Kids" section below. This way they get just as many presents as they're used to, but you spend less money. Plus, it's a great way to introduce children to being creatively frugal and ushering them away from consumer comercialism.

The key to creating fantastic, frugal, homemade gifts is to know your strengths. What do you do well? Cook? Bake? Sew? Build? Knit or crochet? Draw? The following are a set of lists of inexpensive, easy-to-make homemade gifts your friends and family are sure to adore, organized by talent. I haven't seen this type of organization before; I hope it's helpful.

Cooking
  1. Homemade preserves, jams, and spreads. Make a variety, put them in cute jars with printed or handwritten labels, and arrange the jars in a basket. You can often find small inexpensive baskets at garage sales, craft stores, or home and garden stores.


  2. Homemade sauces, condiments, and marinades. Package as in #1.

  3. Homemade cookbook or recipe cards. Know someone that loves your cooking? Compile recipes of their favorite dishes (or ones you think they might like). Print them on paper and arrange in a decorated binder or write them by hand on homemade recipe cards. If you're not strong in the art department, you can usually find cute sets of inexpensive blank recipe cards at Marshall's. If you can find or decorate a cute box for the cards, even better.

Baking
  1. Loaf of special homemade bread. Make it a regular white loaf, or if your loved one is more health conscious, try a whole wheat or mixed whole grain loaf. Tip: Spice it up: make a flavored and herbs like rosemary, dill, tomato-basil, or sourdough or make it look fancy by braiding it.

    If fresh bread won't work for travel or other reasons, try making bread mixes instead. Put each in a small paper bag and label nicely. Include handwritten recipe cards with instructions. Collect bags in a basket or larger gift bag.

  2. Two words: gingerbread men (and/or women, snowmen, wreaths, etc.) These are super fun to make and decorate and they're a great project to do with kids. Make them to eat or to use as ornaments.



  3. Assorted homemade cookies. This is good if you have multiple people to "buy" for. Make one or more batches (depending on how many people your giving to) of several types of cookies and package in small baggies tied with festive ribbon. In a nice basket or other container, one for each gift recipient, put one baggie of each type of cookie. If you're in a pinch, even personalized brown lunch bags can be prettied up. As in #1, if the gifts have to travel a ways or for other reasons keep for a long time, consider making mixes instead.

  4. Homemade pancake, waffle, muffin, or biscuit mix. Package as above. A small wooden scoop is a nice touch. You can find these at craft stores. Package the mix in small brown bags or mason jars tied with a ribbon and hand-labeled.

  5. My all-time favorite baked gift: cherry pie. Do not underestimate the giving power of a homemade pie. Cake, flan, or other delicious desserts are also welcome. (Hint, hint.)

Sewing/Knitting/Crocheting
  1. Handmade tool belt, tote, makeup bag, purse, pencil organizer, or messenger bag.


  2. Ready-to-hang embroidered or needlepoint work in frame.

  3. Embroidered/personalized handkerchiefs, scarf, pillows, or sachets.

  4. (Relatively) quick knitted/crocheted items such as scarves, gloves/mittens/glittens, cozy winter hats, socks, woven belts, etc.

Building/Crafting
  1. Picture in handmade frame: Make your own from wood, or if you're less skilled with carpentry, try making simple ones from rigid cardstock and decorating them with felt, marker, paint, fabric, and/or glitter.

  2. Handmade Christmas ornaments. Ideas: dyed popcorn and/or cranberry strands, oranges with cloves, gingerbread ornaments, sparkly pine cones, photo ornaments, paper snowflakes, felt cutouts, etc.

  3. Try this fabulously simple salt-dough recipe to make paintable ornaments: Combine 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup salt, and 1/2 cup water. Roll out dough and cut either by hand or with cookie cutters. Bake at 250F for 2 hours.


  4. Colored, scented, and/or decorated candles. Go a step further and make candle holders, too!

  5. Bowls, planters, vases, or ashtrays made from old vinyl records—bad ones can usually be found for around 50 cents each at thrift stores.

Drawing/Painting/Design
  1. Coffee mug with treats: Find some plain mugs at a thrift store or garage sale, get some ceramic paint, and create a personalized, useful coffee mug. Stuff it with a baggie of whole coffee beans or candies, and tie with a ribbon.


  2. Decorated plant pot with seeds or small plant and care instruction card.

  3. Thoughtfully designed, personalized stationery, note cards, postcards, or phone/address book. Make them on the computer or by hand the old fashioned way with rubber stamps, colorful paper, and glue. Warning: rubber stamps and decorative papers don't come cheap. Attempt this only if you already have these items.

No talent required
  1. A pound of pistachios, nice teas, or coffees, packaged nicely by hand.

  2. Homemade cocoa mix: recipes here. Package in a decorated mason jar or paper lunch bag.

  3. Gourmet, homemade teas: Recipes here. If you can find a cute inexpensive teacup or pot, arrange your homemade teas inside it and add a pretty ribbon.

  4. Homemade organic body scrubs, lotions, oils, bath salts, or bath bombs. Recipes here.

Especially For Kids
  1. Homemade play dough: make a variety of colors and place in assorted tubs or other plastic containers. Label and package in a dressed up box or basket, preferably one that they can use permanently to store their new play dough.

  2. Handmade stuffed animals.

  3. Lacing cards made from old greeting cards or magazine pictures glued (glue stick works best) to cardstock.

  4. Homemade crayons. Collect broken or super short crayons, melt them down, and create beautiful swirled crayons in fun shapes.


  5. See "cookies" under "Baking" above. Duh.

  6. Painting Set. Combine some paint brushes, assorted paints (corresponding to the child's age and ability), paper, and perhaps a palette. For the palette, try an old cutting board or plastic lid with a child size thumb hole cut out. Or if that's out of your crafting league, check your local art supply store, dollar store, or toy store for inexpensive ones.

  7. Drawing Set. Combine assorted weight pencils, charcoal, and erasers with an inexpensive drawing pad and perhaps a tracing pad. Depending on the child's age and ability, you could throw in some drawing books as well. You can often find these in the "bargain" section at bookstores.

  8. Gardening Kit. Combine and package a few different types of seeds and/or bulbs, toy gardening tools (sand castle kits from the dollar store work well and are cheap), a labeling kit (popsicle sticks and cardstock rectangles), and perhaps a toy watering can.

  9. Costume Chest. In a large box, decorated perhaps with the child's name, combine various articles or clothing that would be fun for playing dress-up. Raid your closet for items that either don't fit or are out of style and make a trip to Goodwill to make up the rest. The more outrageous the better.






33 Easy and Frugal Homemade Holiday Gift and Decoration IdeasSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Quick Hack and Holiday Gift: Homemade body scrubs, lotions, oils, bath salts, or bath bombs


tower o' bombsImage by Amanda *Bake It Pretty* via Flickr

Everybody loves a nice relaxing bath, and I don't know a female on the planet who doesn't love receiving bath-related gifts. Last year, I made a batch of each of these and made bath gift baskets for all my friends and relatives, even the guys. (They got manly scented salts and bombs only, and they loved them. MDT especially is sucker for a hot bubble bath. His favorites are the bombs. What a surprise.)

This year I'm too far away from most of my friends and family to make these, so I'm sharing the recipes with you. Have fun!

Already got your holiday gifts covered? Get together some girlfriends and have a DIY pamper party. Everybody brings one ingredient, in bulk, and you get to spend an evening with your pals drinking wine and making pretty stuff. At the end of the night, swap for your favorite fragrance combos and take home a basket of goodies. You'll be set for the next year.


Bath salts

Ingredients
6 cups Epson salts
2 T baby oil
1/2 tsp of the essential oil of your choice
1/8 tsp food coloring - gel works best
assorted jars or containers

Directions
Mix liquid ingredients first. Add in salts and stir. Package in 1 cup jars.

To use
Add 1/4 cup salts to warm running bath water.


Salt (or sugar) scrub

Ingredients
6 cup sea salt or sugar (large grain, unrefined works best)
3 cup oil (almond, olive, baby, etc.)
30 vitamin E capsules
a few drops of the essential oil of your choice
Dried flower petals, dried herbs, the zest of lemons or other citrus fruits (optional)

Directions
Dissolve vitamin capsules in oil over low heat. Mix all ingredients, and package in small jars.



Powdered milk bath

This is one of my favorites. I love stepping out of the bath with baby soft skin and smelling pretty. It's a simple pleasure.

Ingredients
3 cup powdered milk
1/2 tsp essential oils

Directions
Combine and mix well. Package in small jars.

Additions/Substitutions:
You can substitute vanilla extract for the essential oils.


Vanilla and honey bath oil

Ingredients
1 cup baby oil
1/2 cup honey
1 T pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup liquid soap (optional, for foam)
small bottles (I save all my condiments bottles—hot sauce, soy sauce, etc.—and recycle them for this.)

Directions
Combine and mix well. Package in small jars.


Bath bombs

These are super fun. I love love love using them. So much, in fact, I always make several extra for myself.

Ingredients
2 T citric acid
2 T cornstarch
1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 tsp essential oil
5 drops food coloring
Dried flower petals, dried herbs, the zest of lemons or other citrus fruits (optional)
3 T oil—olive, coconut, almond, etc.
Wax paper, molds, or cupcake tin



Directions
  1. Mix dry ingredients.
  2. Mix oil fragrance and coloring in another bowl.
  3. Incorporate wet mix into dry mix.
  4. Roll into balls, place on wax paper. Or, if using cupcake tin or molds, scoop mix in and pack well.
  5. Wait 2 days.
  6. Store in sealed containers or wrap in colorful plastic wrap




Reblog this post [with Zemanta]






Quick Hack and Holiday Gift: Homemade body scrubs, lotions, oils, bath salts, or bath bombsSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, December 7, 2009

Quick Hack and Holiday Gift: Homemade Gourmet Tea Blends


Christmas spice teaImage by hiromy via

Besides tasting lovely, tea is said to have many health benefits including increased energy, reduced blood pressure, immune system strengthening, enhanced concentration, and even healthier, younger-looking skin.

But contrary to popular belief, you don't have to spend a small fortune for gourmet tea. If you make your own, it's ridiculously cheap, especially if you grow your own herbs. But not to worry if you don't have an herb garden—all the ingredients for the following recipes are easy to find and can be acquired on the cheap at your local grocery or farmers' market. Moreover, when you make your own tea blends from loose tea, not only is the quality of the tea much higher, but it's more economical as well. In general, loose tea costs less than tea bags and you can resteep loose tea, thereby stretching your tea dollar, so to speak.

Make these frugal, gourmet teas for yourself or package them in neat jars or tins and give them as gifts to your favorite foodies/tea-lovers. Include an inexpensive tea strainer or infuser, maybe a small jar of honey or some homemade tea biscuits or scones and you've got the perfect gift for your favorite foodies/tea-lovers/anglophiles.

Don't forget to check the brewing tips at the end of the post!

On to the recipes.


This first isn't exactly a tea but rather a spice mixture. Add a bit to your favorite black tea along with a splash of warm milk, and you've got Chai (literally just means "tea," but is used worldwide to refer to Indian-style spiced tea with milk). This mix is a personal favorite and a result of lots of trial and (tasty) error. Perhaps the name is a bit biased, but so be it.

Perfect Chai (Indian Spiced Tea) Mix
Yields 3 cups of mix. (Each cup of mix makes 24 cups of chai.)

Ingredients
2 cups powdered sugar
1 vanilla bean
4 tbsp ground ginger
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
4 tsp ground cloves
4 tbsp ground cardamom
4 tsp ground nutmeg
4 tsp ground allspice


Directions

1. Cover the vanilla bean with the sugar and store overnight in an airtight container. The sugar will absorb the vanilla flavor. In the morning, remove the bean and throw it out.

2. Combine all the ingredients and mix well. If some of the spices are not ground to a fine powder already, pulsing them all together in a food processor should do the trick.

Preparation
Add 2 tsp of mix to a half-filled cup of hot black tea, fill with warm milk, and stir.
It's also quite good cold; just sub iced tea and cold milk.



Gourmet Herbal Teas

Combine any flavors you like and mix with loose tea—red, green, or white all work well. For an even more thoughtful and personalized gift, choose herbs with target benefits to create a custom blend for your loved ones. (The links above are to the most economic bulk loose teas available on Amazon at the time of this writing.)

Supplies
your choice of herbs
mortar and pestle (depending on your selection of herbs)
small jars or plastic baggies
ribbon
basket or other gift container




Suggested Blends
(All herbs should be dried and either whole or crushed, not ground.)

1 part ginger root, 1 part cloves, and 1 part nutmeg
1 part chamomile flowers to 1 part peppermint leaves
1 part dried ginger root to 2 parts peppermint leaves
4 parts anise, 
1 part cinnamon
 bark, 1 part cloves, and 1 part vanilla bean

3 parts rosemary, 
3 parts lavender flowers
, and 3 parts marjoram

1 part cloves, 1 part allspice, and 1 part cinnamon bark
2 parts lemon verbena leaves to 1 part lavender flowers


Directions
Mix herbs thoroughly, toss the mixture with the loose tea of your choice, and store in an air-tight container.

Preparation
Brew 1 tsp of tea in 1 cup of not-quite-boiling water.


Tea Brewing Tips
1. Most teas take between 30 seconds and 2 minutes to brew. Any more and you risk oversteeping, which makes the tea bitter.

2. Like coffee, tea doesn't take well to boiling water. I do recommend boiling the water to purify it, but just make sure you let it cool a few minutes before adding it to your teapot.

3. You can reuse or resteep loose tea leaves up to 4 times. Just let each brew steep a minute longer than the one before. Don't try this with tea bags; it won't work. That's a difference between loose tea and tea powder. Just another reason why making your own loose tea blends is more economical than buying boxed flavored tea or tea bags.


Want to get ahead on next year's gifts or just want to keep yourself in organic cooking and tea ingredients? Winter's a perfect time to start a little indoor herb garden.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]






Quick Hack and Holiday Gift: Homemade Gourmet Tea BlendsSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Friday, December 4, 2009

Quick Hack and Holiday Gift: Homemade Hot Cocoa Mixes



One of my favorite things to do in chilly weather is to cuddle up under a patchwork quilt near the window with a good book and a cup of delicious homemade hot cocoa.

Below are recipes for American-style hot cocoa mix, Mexican-style hot cocoa mix, and chocolate syrup.

Not only are these recipes quick and cheap hacks that cost significantly less than making hot chocolate with a store-bought dry mix or Hershey syrup, but pair a jar or two of these mixes with a nice mug, a bag of mini marshmallows, and a few candy canes for stirrers, and you've got a great, homemade holiday gift.

Note: A lot of cocoa mix recipes call for powdered nondairy creamer, but you'll want to steer clear of those ones. Almost all nondairy creamers, such as CoffeeMate and Creamora, contain hydrogenated oils (trans fats). Because most store-bought hot chocolate mixes are made with these nondairy creamers, they too are choc (sorry, I couldn't resist) full of trans fats. Swiss Miss, get a clue: Drop the hydrogenated oils! (Ironically, even their sugar-free and low-fat packs, the types marketed to more health-conscious consumers, contain trans fats.) Tsk, tsk.


Delectably Fat-Free Homemade Cocoa Mix

Ingredients
4 cups nonfat powdered milk or powdered soy milk
1 cup cocoa powder
2 cups powdered sugar

Additions/Substitutions: You can use regular granulated sugar if you prefer, but I find that powdered sugar mixes better and makes the end product creamier. For a really rich cocoa, Italian style, add 4 oz unsweetened dark chocolate, coarsely chopped.

Directions
Combine all ingredients in large bowl and mix well. Transfer to storage jar(s).

To make hot cocoa
Use 2 Tb per mug (or to taste), fill with hot water.



"Chocolate Fiesta" Mexican Hot Cocoa Mix

Ingredients
1/3 cup light brown sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp powdered vanilla (or 1 whole vanilla bean)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups powdered milk or powdered soy milk
1/2 tsp of red (cayenne) pepper (optional)

Directions
Combine all ingredients in large bowl and mix well. Transfer to storage jar(s).

To make hot cocoa
Use 2 Tb per mug (or to taste), fill with hot water.


Chocolate Syrup

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups water
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Directions
In a small pot, boil water and sugar. Gradually whisk in cocoa powder, sea salt, vanilla extract, and corn syrup. Keep whisking until everything has dissolved and simmer until desired thickness. Let cool and transfer to bottles.

Use for hot chocolate, cold chocolate milk, or as a dessert topping.

Tip
Save your ketchup, mustard, syrup, and other squeeze bottles to reuse for this project. Remove the labels and add your own!








Quick Hack and Holiday Gift: Homemade Hot Cocoa MixesSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Quick Hack: Candle holders from bottles and cans


Last week the electricity kept going out, sometimes only for a few seconds, sometimes for several hours. I never did find out what was going on, but I found myself in need of candle holders, ASAP. And so I found another way to upcycle plastic bottles and aluminum cans.

What you need:
scissors
candles

These are both super quick and super easy.

Aluminum Can Candle Holder
  1. Carefully remove the tab from an empty can and cut around the can about an inch from the top.
  2. Recycle the bottom portion or reuse it, for instance, as a planter.
  3. Push the flap back up to create a flat surface on top.


  4. Flip the can top over and carefully fold in a couple centimeters of the edge, towards the inside, so that it doesn't have sharp edges.
  5. Set a tealight inside and you're ready to go.


  6. These also float, so if you feel like being fancy, you can make a bunch and float them in a large bowl, preferably glass for the nicest effect.


Plastic Bottle Candle Holder
  1. Cut the bottle roughly a third of the way from the top.
  2. Turn the top section upside down and insert a candle in the cap. If it doesn't fit snugly in the cap, drip some wax around the base until it's stable.
  3. Pour a few inches of water in the bottom section for stability.
  4. Insert the top section, upside down, with the candle into the bottom section. The water should not be high enough to touch the cap.
  5. Light and enjoy.

The bottle candle holder isn't very pretty when not in use, but the water and the clear plastic actually do very pretty things with the candlelight in the dark. With a bit of paint or some ribbon, I think it could look quite nice just sitting around.





Quick Hack: Candle holders from bottles and cansSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Got Design?

TAiMH blog design by Belle √Čtoile Studios.