A Tasty Treat

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I must admit, I have an obsession with “ABC’s The Chew.” I don’t always catch it when it comes on, but when I do I usually see something new that I have to try! During today’s episode, Clinton (from “What Not to Wear”) shared his Holiday Toffee Recipe. Not only did it look amazing, the ingredients are simple and the directions are even easier. 

All you need is: 

  • 1 cup Butter
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 cup chopped Topping (i.e. toasted Hazelnuts; White Chocolate; Candy Canes; Sea Salt)
  • 24 ounces Bittersweet Chocolate (chopped)

Start by lining a large rimmed baking sheet with a silicone baking mat.  Then combine butter, sugar, water and salt in a medium-sized saucepan. Whisk until smooth, simmer caramel mixture until a candy thermometer reaches 300F. Immediately remove from heat and stir in vanilla to combine. Pour directly onto prepared pan and spread into an even thin layer with a spatula. Let toffee cool completely.

Next, melt chocolate over a double boiler (I usually just use the microwave). Pour half of the chocolate over the cooled toffee.  Place the pan in a refrigerator and let cool until the chocolate has set. Then, carefully flip over so that the toffee side of the bark is facing up. Pour the rest of the chocolate evenly over the toffee and then sprinkle with the chopped topping over the chocolate. Let cool until chocolate has completely set. Afterwards, use a spoon to break the toffee into small pieces.

Aside from the fact it includes chocolate, the thing I love about this recipe is it’s something the kids can help with. The kids will feel like a big help as they measure out all of the ingredients, sprinkle on the toppings, and break up the toffee. Feel free to get creative with this treat by adding a few pieces into your ice cream or let the little ones pick the toppings for the next batch…Enjoy!

Can’t Forget the Stuffing

Pacing through Pier 1 looking for Christmas decorating ideas, I was stopped by a lady. Very sweet woman, but she was panicking about her upcoming Christmas party. She was asking everyone in the store what she should give as a small trinket/parting gift for under $5. Her anxiety had me racking my brain for a creative suggestion. Needless to say, I wasn’t of much help but it made me think…I completely forgot about stocking stuffers!

Nearing Christmas, gifts can start to push the budget (unknowingly, I start adding people to my list as I run across random gift ideas). This year I promised myself I would keep the stocking stuffers small so I started researching a few ideas. I assumed I wasn’t the only one thinking about this so I wanted to share my list with you. Keeping small children in mind, most of these grabs are for ages 3 and under and are very inexpensive.

-Mini musical instruments: recorders, whistles, tambourines, etc. You may question this by the time January rolls around but your toddler may be the next musical genius.

baby band

-Weebles: suggested on Parent.com Weebles are cute, egg-shaped toys characterized as different people and are pretty much unbreakable.
weebles

-Board books: A kid can never have too many books. Pick up a few books that your child may be currently learning like the alphabet or shapes. One of my all time favorites is Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.
brown bear

-Themed bathroom toys: Make staying clean fun by getting their favorite characters on their toothbrush or bathroom products.

doc

-Blocks/Stackable Toys– What kid doesn’t like to play with the box more than the toy? May be a bit old fashioned, but giving kids their own blocks (box) to stack is always a good time.
blocks These squeezable blocks by Toysmith can be found at Target.

Ok, Moms don’t panic! You will be surprised at what you can find at your local store that will surely keep your child entertained and won’t break your pockets. Keep us posted on stocking stuffers you come across!

Manners? Don’t Mind If I Do

Click the link to watch the video that started the conversation: The TODAY Show, Mind your Manners http://www.today.com/klgandhoda/how-get-your-kids-act-appropriately-2D11687789

Manners are defined simply as a way of doing things. We try to teach our children a little responsibility and independence by allowing them to do things on their own, but ultimately we have to teach them how things are done. Simple things such as please and thank you go by the way side when we sit them in their highchair with the latest tablet or gadget. I must admit I am guilty of this just to keep the peace at the dinner table, but catching a recent interview on TODAY reminded me that just letting table manners slide is not always best.

More than any other season, winter is filled with Christmas dinners, office parties, and gift exchanges. It’s not always cute when our little angels say exactly what is on their minds! To avoid this try to incorporate manners throughout your daily routine. Practice saying manners such as “yes, please” or “no, thank you” to your child as you interact with each other. As they see you doing it, they will surely reciprocate. Also don’t forget sharing. While playing games reward your kids for being polite to each other and passing toys without fighting. This may seem insignificant now, but it will be beneficial in the long run as your children grow and have to interact without you while at school or away from home.

One thing to be mindful of is the difference between rewards and bribes. Rewards are considered small and consistent treats for an approved action, however bribes are large gifts given for a one time act even if not well deserved. For example, you hear Susie say thank you at the dinner table, reward Susie with a few words of praise and encouragement to let her know she did a great job.

This can definitely be a challenge but remember you are not alone. All parents go through this and its better to start at a young age before its too late!