The Maestro of Pancake FLIPPERY

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Oh Oona. You could be mine, dear.

A chip off this old sweetheart: brunette pigtails, a bit of a ragamuffin, passionate, bright, funny, foodie…

I love Master Chef and Master Chef Junior. Yep, I’m a Chef Ramsay fan.

I’m catching up on the current season of Master Chef Junior and Oona throws this gem out during the pancake challenge: I’m not the maestro of pancake flippery!

Love it, Oona. You may not be the maestro of pancake flippery, but you are a real winner at being a great kid!

Patience is a VIRTUE

I just hit delete on a whole big blog post. And it feels delish. I have the giggles of it.

It all needed to come up and out but really just belongs in a journal. Penning it came in a rush of joy. And victory. And relief. And love. And the realization of that, and the specifics of it all, belong in a journal.

Here’s the thing. The learning curve on life lessons and the refining of character is worth pursuing. I have such a long way to go, but I’m celebrating today.

Patience is a virtue. A virtue. When it’s your lesson to learn and you claim a milestone in it, the rush of triumph should be celebrated.

So I’m celebrating.

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Frosted Cranberry Pecan Bark

Frosted Cranberry Pecan Bark

So yummy! An original recipe straight from the Sweetheart kitchen.

Inspiration is everywhere. Especially in my pantry that I keep full of different gourmet baking bits.

I was hosting a winter bridal shower themed in red and white. I wanted to add in something different to my kitchen that was quickly filling with peppermint sweets. Inspiration.. dried cranberries. They are a beautiful shade of rustic red. Now what? A few creative thoughts later and waa-laa!

Frosted Cranberry Pecan Bark!

Prep is a snap. Simply line a baking sheet (with edges) with wax paper and you are ready to go! Here is the recipe:

Frosted Cranberry Pecan Bark
Almond bark, melted
Small pkg. dried cranberries
Pecan pieces
Clear sparkling sugar crystals

Melt almond bark, or your favorite white chocolate, to package directions. Working quickly, save out 1/4 to 1/2 cup, pour the rest onto prepped baking pan. Spread to desired thickness. Sprinkle on cranberries and pecans. Drizzle with the extra almond bark that you have set aside. This will help hold the cranberries and pecans in. Sprinkle liberally with the sugar crystals, for a snowy frosted look.

That’s it! Let sit until set. Break apart or cut into squares using a sharp knife.

It makes a beautiful presentation for your dessert buffet or gifts for the neighbors.

Enjoy!

Sweetheart Water Challenge

Ok Sweethearts! Here we go into the new year!

In just a couple of short weeks we will be ringing in the new year. You know what that means… a bunch of “better health” resolutions… or none… but you’ll still see “get healthy” commercials flood the airways.

The new year is a great time to make a fresh start. No doubt about that. It’s just a rude awakening to your belly and body if you quit bad habits cold turkey or start a strict health regimen without prepping for it.

One of the best things you can do for your body and skin is hydrate. Nothing fancy required. Just good old fashioned water.

How much water to drink depends on your weight. I’ve been comparing notes from different resources and most suggest drinking one half your weight in ounces. Basically, if you weigh 150 pounds, drink 75 ounces of water per day. Not Gatorade, not power drinks, not tea, not juice. Water. H2O. Plain old water.

The benefits of drinking water are plentiful: clearer skin, reduction of inflammation, kidney and liver flush, and more. Great incentives!

So. If you’re like me, this is a challenge. I am absolutely addicted to diet soda. Not hopelessly addicted, because I have high hopes I can quit. But addicted, yes.

My resolution for 2015 is simple. No more diet soda. I think it’s unrealistic to quit cold turkey on January 1. So I’m prepping for it.

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. ~Benjamin Franklin

You cannot prepare for everything that comes your way. You can, however, prepare for what you are planning.

I’m preparing for my resolutions. Now. I will be drinking less diet soda and more water during next couple of weeks. This will be a time of transition so that I can avoid the withdrawal pitfall of the dreaded headache.

Here’s the challenge. Drink one half your body weight in ounces of water. Get your best friend to do it with you.

Do it your way. Cold turkey, all in, more water each day. Make a water chart or get a pitcher to fill up with the appropriate amount of water to drink each day, or just wing it. Whatever suits your style.

Good luck!

Peanut Butter Fa•La•La•La FUDGE

It’s been a WOW week in the Sweetheart kitchen. Feels good. I love to cook and bake and create sweet treats.

I’m sharing this fabulous recipe that a facebook friend shared. It caught my attention because it had Easy, Peanut Butter, and Fudge in the title. What’s not to love about that!

I’m happy to report that the “easy” was correct and the ingredients are common in any cook’s kitchen. Bonus!

This recipe turned out great, especially considering the circumstances. I don’t follow the rule of “this will be funny when we look back on it”. I pretty much think things are funny right when they happen.

I like to plan well for the free time I have while the baby naps. I write a blog post, create graphics or prep dinner, answer emails or prep for an oils class. Whatever fits the day.

Today during nap time I was making a yummy chicken soup. Simple, rustic, comfort food chicken soup. My plan was to Chop-Chop-Chop the chicken and vegetables, spice it up, stir and let hum along in the crockpot for a few hours before dinner so that the ingredients marry well. Mission accomplished.

I finished up and tidied up the kitchen, then remembered the fudge recipe I wanted to test. I love new recipes and I test them out long before I need to rely on it to take it to an event. I would be cutting it close on time for the baby to wake up but couldn’t resist.

I put the milk and sugar on to boil and was in my own little fudge stirring world when the I Love Lucy moment occurred. The SMOKE ALARMS went off!

I scampered around to get the pot off the burner, and a chair over to the smoke alarm to reach to stop the blaring beep beep beep beep. Skittered down the hall to see if it woke the baby. He was stirring but still laying down snuggled up to his teddy bear. Sprinted back to my fudge, that was only supposed to boil for two and a half minutes.

I crossed my fingers that it didn’t overboil, and moved on to the next recipe step as if without a care in the world. Poured the fudge into my prepped dish and let the testing of the recipe begin.

I couldn’t help but peek at it and sample it as it was cooling off and setting up. It was setting up so well! Smoke alarms and all!

This recipe is an absolute winner for me in every way. Easy ingredients, easy prep, quick cook and delicious turnout. Enjoy!

Baking and treat making tip: use quality ingredients. I love my sweet bottle of Nielsen Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract. I’m a Kentucky girl. In Kentucky, when you say bourbon it means whiskey. Not this time. The vanilla beans used for this extract are grown on the Bourbon Island of Madagascar. They use a cold extraction process, and the results are fantastic.

Peanut Butter Fudge
1/2 cup milk
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla

Bring milk and sugar to a boil. Boil 2 1/2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter. Stir in vanilla. Mix well. Pour into a baking dish lined with wax paper. Let cool completely. Using a sharp knife, cut into squares.

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‘Tis the SEASON

‘Tis the Season to Be Jolly…. Fa La La La La La La La Laaaaaaaaaa…

‘Tis the season for twinkle lights, traditions, Santa sightings, family and friends gathered around for dinners and party fun.

‘Tis the season for giving and receiving gifts and tokens of affection, candies and cookies and everything sweet.

Unless…. you get your tinsel in a tangle!

It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and rush of the holiday season.

It is busy a time of celebration, or just the busy time of the ending of the year, depending on what your beliefs are.

Here’s the thing. Yes, its easy to get your tinsel in a tangle. Here’s the other thing. It’s awful to be around a jerk on any day of the year, but even more so at the holidays.

Yes, I said jerk. It’s what people think of us while we are busy excusing ourselves of being too busy, harried, worn out, grumpy, fussy, curt, overly bossy, dismissive, snarky during the holidays.

Here’s another brick wall to run into…

The holidays are scheduled at the same time every year. Exactly the same time. Every year.

That’s a blessing, a golden opportunity to plan well. We know when the holiday season is. We all can benefit from some advance planning. This includes me, too! We have all heard that old saying “failing to prepare is preparing to fail”, right?

My best holiday no-tinsel-in-a-tangle tip? Do your best to prepare well for the holiday season. Start early. Stay organized. Use a planning calendar. Make a list. Check it twice. No, really, check it twice. It’s then when you remember that extra thing you forgot when you made the list the first time.

Another tip: delegate. Even little helping hands in the home can help. My Christmas Village never looked more inviting than when my son put it up and thoughtfully placed the little villagers all through the town. Delegate.

Here is another no-tangle-in-the-tinsel-tip for the busy holiday season: pencil in free time. Take this time to care for yourself. It isn’t selfish or self-centered to take a break, take a nap, paint your nails, take a time out, or to watch Elf. No guilt. Even better, take a half hour and help someone. The needs during the holidays are plentiful. You will be blessed for it. Whatever it takes to restore the holiday magic. Well deserved, well worth it.

Now. It’s the first week of December. If you are the sweet friend who is looking around and a bit panicked because there is only half of a tree put up in your living room, you can’t find the family stockings, you forgot the office party was today at 5:30, etcetera, because of unexpected life events or health issues or family complications, this is for you.

When life gets in the way and throws some curveballs, it’s ok to be caring of yourself and your family and your schedule. It really is ok. It is ok to be caring of yourself and your family and your schedule during a difficult time.

The sweet news, from someone who has experience in a few holiday curveballs is this: you will be gifted with holiday magic and true love in your time of need.

The neighbors will understand why you sincerely decline the invitation to the block party. They will also send over a plate of party food. I promise.

Your co-workers will understand and will be creative. They may let you chip in on their gift, or know the baker who can bring a last minute cookie tray, or cover the phones, or run out with you at lunch to grab what you need.

The Sunday School class leader will understand that you can’t attend the sing-along at the retirement home. She will not only pray with you and for you, she will show up with a helping hand and a most likely a flower arrangement from the class.

The girls of your Holiday Girls Night Out will understand why there is only half a tree in your living room, why it’s upsetting, and will come over to put the rest of the tree up, decorate it, and vacuum, too. They will give you hugs. That’s what friends are for. Really.

Cheers to you! Cheers to a No-Tinsel-In-A-Tangle Holiday Season for you and yours, from me and mine. May your days be merry and bright now through the New Year.

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