Fireworks

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Some fireworks from the fourth!

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Peppermint Bark

I am hooked on Soule Mama, she is just amazing. Great ideas, great handmade goodies, and great recipes. When I found her recipe for Peppermint Bark I knew that it had to be made.

It’s almost like a steaming cup of hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps (but without the schnapps)! Mmmmmm. So good.

This is sure to become a family favorite. Yum 🙂

Three-Layer Peppermint Bark (from Orangette)
Adapted from Bon Appétit, December 1998

When you’re shopping for white chocolate, make sure that the words “cocoa butter” appear in the list of ingredients. When I went to buy mine, I was shocked by how many brands contain absolutely no cocoa butter. (Instead, you get only sugar, hydrogenated oil, artificial flavorings, and the like.) I wound up using Callebaut, which isn’t cheap, but it was a worthy splurge.

Also, to crush the peppermints coarsely, Bon Appétit advises tapping the wrapped candies firmly with the bottom edge of an unopened 15- to 16-ounce can. I used a heavy glass jar, and that worked fine too.

17 oz. white chocolate, such as Callebaut, finely chopped
30 red-and-white-striped hard peppermint candies, coarsely crushed
7 oz. bittersweet chocolate, such as Ghirardelli 60%, finely chopped
6 Tbsp. heavy cream
¾ tsp. peppermint extract

Turn a large baking sheet upside down, and cover it securely with aluminum foil. Measure out and mark a 9- by 12-inch rectangle on the foil.

Put the white chocolate in a metal (or other heatproof) bowl, and set it over a saucepan of barely simmering water. (Do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water.) Stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted and smooth; if you take its temperature with a candy thermometer, it should register 110°F. Remove the chocolate from the heat. Pour 2/3 cup of it onto the rectangle on the foil. Using an icing spatula, spread the chocolate to fill the rectangle. Sprinkle with ¼ cup of the crushed peppermints. Chill until set, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the bittersweet chocolate, cream, and peppermint extract in a heavy medium saucepan. Warm over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture is just melted and smooth. Cool to barely lukewarm, about 5 minutes. Then remove the baking sheet from the refrigerator, and pour the bittersweet chocolate mixture over the white chocolate rectangle. Using an icing spatula – make sure you cleaned it after using it for the white chocolate, above! – spread the bittersweet chocolate in an even layer. Chill until very cold and firm, about 25 minutes.

Rewarm the remaining white chocolate over barely simmering water to 110°F. Working quickly, pour the white chocolate over the firm bittersweet layer, using your (again, clean) icing spatula to spread it to cover. Sprinkle with remaining crushed peppermints. Chill just until firm, about 20 minutes.

Carefully lift the foil from the baking sheet onto a large cutting board. Trim away any ragged edges of the rectangle. (These are yours to nibble at, a little prize for your efforts.) Cut the bark crosswise into 2-inch-wide strips. Using metal spatula, slip the bark off of the foil and onto the cutting board. Cut each strip crosswise into 3 sections, and then cut each section diagonally into 2 triangles. Or, alternatively, just cut each strip into smaller pieces of whatever size you like. That’s what I did.

Pack into an airtight container, with sheets of wax paper between layers of bark to prevent them from sticking to one another. Store in the refrigerator. Serve cold or, to emphasize the slight softness of the bittersweet layer, let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

Note: This bark will keep for up to 2 weeks, if not more. If you plan to pack it in a tin or baggie with other holiday sweets, be sure to wrap it separately in plastic wrap. Or maybe wax paper and then plastic wrap, so that it doesn’t sweat. If you left it naked, so to speak, to mix and mingle with other cookies or candies, everything might wind up tasting and smelling like peppermint.

Yield: about 36 pieces, or more, if you cut them smaller

Old Fashioned Tree

The years have passed since the last time our family had a real Christmas tree. Years. Too many years to count. But, now there is a tree. With all of the wonderful smells of a real tree and tiny needles in the thick white carpet our family is sure to enjoy this one.

 

There were no shiny over the top ornaments this year. My decorating senses told me “Old Time Christmas” (yes like the song). Mom even let me be in charge of the decorating this year, minus her suggestion of red beads and Santa tree skirt.

Even the Fisherman Elf made it out of the box this year.

 

Someday I want to be able to share special memories like this with others that I love. Carry on traditions and make new ones. For now many memories will be made this Christmas season and possibly some new traditions too.

A Winter Wonderland

Wow… this weekend turned into a blustery white, Christmas filled couple of days. Full of happiness and reminiscing on old memories. We brought in our tree, no setting up an artificial one this year. A real one! Yes siree bob! More pictures of the tree to come. It seemed as if this snow wanted to stay around for a while. Over half a foot of soft, wet, fluffy snow on Saturday soon turned into hard icy snow by Sunday morning. It will be hanging around here for a while since the forecast calls for no temperatures above 30 until next Saturday. We are all hoping for everyone to be safe on the roads this winter season. Have a wonderful Monday!!

Thanksgiving weekend

The time flew by as family got together for a weekend filled of laughter, Turkey eating, fits (of joy!), more laughter, Christmas lights, left overs, and many goodbyes. It always seems to go by to fast. But, sometimes time went slow. For the past few years my mom has been trying to find the perfect date for our now growing family’s Thanksgiving day. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. This year it was Thanksgiving Day. For the first year, she let my sister and I help her. 23 years old and I finally got to help. YAY!!! It’s not like I have never helped before, setting the table, veggies for relish plate, drinks, and making pies. But, I guess making oreo fluff and apple snicker salad is added to the list. Boy I can’t wait to make turkey and ham. Mmmmmm…..so good. Maybe next year (wishful thinking).

 

With that said Thanksgiving break was a time well spent. Even though we now all have to get back to work and school, the memories and times spent with family will be cherished. The good thing that break is over means only one thing….. Christmas is almost here.

Weekend:: State Fair

 

 

Ice cream, funnel cakes, chocolate covered bacon. The Nebraska State Fair has arrived and vanished right before our eyes. It seems as if those two weeks go by so fast. Most of the time there are numerous hours and days spent walking around through buildings and exhibits but this year was all about the pigs. Andrew did great for his first time showing at the state fair. Blues and purples all the way around. Everyone is very proud of him.

 

 

Long Night

The greatest season has now begun…..football. Whether I cheer on my little bro’ on the football field or cheer on my Huskers you can feel the excitement in the air.

Last night, the game finally started at 10:00 p.m. after two weather delays.

It was a well fought game but the opponents came out on top.

We also made a friend last night who was not amused with us.

This weekend I am off to the Nebraska State Fair and will see you all on Tuesday!