Thanksgiving Hostess Gifts

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Thanksgiving is fast approaching and I am excited about our Thanksgiving gathering planned for this year! Getting together to share what we’re all thankful for is always a terrific start to the winter holiday season.

But, what do you bring the Thanksgiving host? I found several super fun (and tasty) hostess gifts that you can bring to show your appreciation the moment you arrive.

Sweet Chaos

I highly recommend bringing more than one bag is you bring this as a hostess gift. It’s delicious and impossible to put down until the entire bag is gone! Black & White Sugar Cookie is my favorite, but in the interest of fully reviewing I tried all of these, and they’re all delicious!

They’re basically all drizzled kettle corns. And they’re basically all amazing. Seriously, you’ll probably want to hide a bag in your car for the trip home. They have just the right amount of sweet and salty, crunchy and gooey, and the perfect drizzle flavors to top it all off.

This hostess gift is simple, fun, and something your hostess can either share or enjoy later. Basically, perfect for Thanksgiving!

Color My Cookie

Anyone can create amazing cookies! Just check out my turkey before and after! Color My Cookie is awesome! They send you the white iced cookies, cookie “paint”, sprinkles, and everything else you need to create awesome looking cookies! The Gobble Gobble Cookie kit that they sent me is so cute!

Best of all, they taste as good as they look! Worried you might not have what it takes? Each cookie set comes with a QR code or link to watch a video tutorial. Seriously, though, these are so easy, even my 4 yr old made one!

Delysia Chocolatier

Looking for chocolates, but want something unique! Delysia Chocolatier is awesome! From unique flavors to fun shapes, they have so much chocolate to choose from that picking out the perfect hostess gift is a breeze!

Check out their Thanksgiving Hostess Truffle Collection. With flavors like sweet potato casserole – covered in chocolate, obviously – you’re sure to surprise your host with something unique and fun.

Plus, the prints are so fun and perfect for sharing with Thanksgiving guests. Because you know you want to try one!

Fun and Unique Easter Basket Ideas

*I received many of these items for free, to review*

So, we’re all stuck at home and trying to come up with some fun Easter plans for the kids! I’m working on an indoor scavenger hunt, and rounding up plenty of Easter Basket gifts that aren’t candy. Because kids, inside, with parents working, and lots of candy, just don’t mix!

B Nutty Peanut Butter

I have to admit, I opened these early and made snacks – check out these easy and fast snacks out here – because they’re so good! The little jars are perfect for kid’s baskets and the larger jars are for adults. Or just for me. I made the mistake of just grabbing a spoon and the Totally Toffee the other day, and I ate way too much! At least Peanut Butter is good for me, right?

This gourmet peanut butter is delicious and they have so many varieties, it’s easy to find one that will be perfect for your gift basket!

My kids love the Cinnamon Sugar Cookie peanut butter. They’re pretty sure that a little bit of this on a ritz cracker qualifies as dessert.

You can purchase directly from B Nutty’s website. And you can join their newsletter for 15% off a purchase.

Woodridge Snacks

I’m not sure that my kids will like these, but my husband and I are definitely enjoying them! The Sriracha Sticky Rice Chips are his favorite. He ate them all in one day and has requested more. So, guess what he’s getting in his Easter Basket!

The Mochi Rice Nuggets look suspicious, but they taste WAY better than they look. Just get a bag and try them. I opened them and was like “I guess I’ll take one for the team here” since I had agreed to test them (btw this was the first bag I tried, lol). They’re surprisingly good, and I love how crunchy and airy they are!

The Tempura Seaweed Chips have a decent crunch to them as well, but you can definitely taste the seaweed. If you love seaweed, you’ll love these, but as much as I try to like seaweed, it still always tastes really strong to me. Probably not my first choice, because the two rices are awesome! But they’re still pretty good, and if you just love seaweed snacks, you’ll definitely love these!

The Ginger chews are basically what I expected. They pack a lot of flavor, and probably not a snack that I’m going to sit down and just eat the entire bag, but one or two of these is perfect to finish off some snacking with. And with all the snacking I’m doing these days working at home, I need some snacks that are good for me.

Get 20% off your first order with code: WR20APRIL (expires April 30, 2020)Head on over to the Woodridge Snacks Website and order some tasty and order some unique and tasty snacks for those Easter Baskets you’re working on!

Choc Zero

First things first. This chocolate is sweetened with monk fruit extract instead of sugar. Meaning, that for chocolate, it’s quite low carb. So, if you’re gifting to someone doing a keto diet, you’re in luck!

I’m always skeptical of sugar free candies but I generally like monk fruit so I was willing to give this a try. It’s Delicious!

My favorite chocolate is milk chocolate and these milk chocolate squares are packed with real chocolate and perfectly sweetened without sugar.

I don’t always like dark chocolate but this dark chocolate almond bark is amazing! With all the stress of working from home, homeschooling, etc. lately, it’s nice to be able to stress eat some chocolate without feeling bad about it.

The white chocolate chips are amazing! As I expected, after trying the other 2 chocolates. I’ll be posting a recipe with them later. I’m way behind on recipe posting with all this craziness these days.

And, of course, the syrup. We’re eating so many pancakes with everyone home every single morning. This was such a fun treat for the kids. I’m thinking that they each need their own bottle of syrup for Easter this year.

Choc Zero can be purchased from their website, or from Amazon.

Unstable Unicorns

The first non-food item in my list, because I seem to have this thing for food in Easter baskets! I just couldn’t resist this game for my unicorn loving tween. This card game is a tad complicated, so definitely ideal for older kids. But once you figure it out, it’s so much fun!

We’ve spent hours this past week playing this game. It takes time to play, which is perfect for keeping the kids busy while we’re social distancing. If you have a kid who’s as in to unicorns as mine is, she’ll love this game! And with the hours upon hours of play time this card game offers, you’ll be glad you bought it.

Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza

If you have slightly younger kids who really want a card game too, but can’t handle the strategy required for Unstable Unicorns, you’ll love this game. Even my 2yr old tries to get in on it by slapping the pile randomly.

It’s super easy to play and fast paced enough that it keeps the kid’s attention easily. Between this game and the Unicorn game I’ve had my kids busy with card games for days! Definitely another great addition to your Easter Basket that will help entertain the kids.

Dinosaurs and Cookies

How do Dinosaurs Eat Cookies by Jane Yolen & Mark Teague.

Our book topic for this month’s book craft was “How Do Dinosaurs…” I’d never read this series before but it sounded like fun.

I went a little overboard and check out maybe a dozen from the library – and there’s still more! The kids didn’t mind because these books are super cute, and fun to read. They all have a fun rhyme and my 3yr old loves dinosaurs so he was very excited to have all sorts of dinosaur books to read.

With the cold snap last week, baking cookies together was a great project. We made chocolate cookies with multi-colored dinosaur eggs (mini m&m’s). So much fun, and so tasty!

Along we way we got to talk about how dinosaurs help in the kitchen – they don’t throw the m&m’s btw. And how dinosaurs are very polite when they eat their cookies.

How do Dinosaurs Eat Cookies is a super cute board book with “scratch & sniff” cookies throughout. Lots of fun to read together over and over.

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Dinosaur Egg Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 package mini m&ms – or other chocolate chips of your choice

  1. Heat oven to 350
  2. With an electric mixer, blend together butter, sugars, and vanilla until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to sugar mixture, until well blended.
  4. Stir in mini m&ms
  5. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.
  6. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Cool about 5 minutes then remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

Makes 5 to 6 dozen cookies

DinoCookies

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Come join us for the Monthly Crafting Book Club. Each month we focus on a different book and encourage early literacy by pairing it with a craft.

Monthly Crafting Book Club

 


Super Simple Mother’s Day Gift List

Looking to keep it simple this year? Just remember it’s the thought that counts. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get Mom a Mother’s Day gift she’ll love.

1. Flowers – There’s something for everyone in this category. I love red roses, and bonus points if there’s baby’s breath with them. My husband knows this and gets them for me often. My MIL doesn’t really like cut flowers. But she loves potted plants that she can either plant outside or grow inside. I got her a tulip house plant for her birthday a few months ago, she put it on her porch and it’s perpetually blooming for her. She shows it to me every time I’m at her house. For Mother’s Day, I’ll just run up to Home Depot the day before and pick out something that looks like it’s going to bloom soon. It’s a super simple gift, but something that I know she loves.

The key with flowers is to put out a little effort and find out what kind of flower your Mom likes. Cut or potted? Red, pink, blue, or yellow? Roses, tulips, daisies, or lilies?  Flowers get a bad rap because they’re often a thoughtless gift, you just pick up something random and give it to your mom because you can’t think of anything else. Find out what she really likes, and the’ll be appreciated.

2. Chocolate – Again, don’t just drop by Target the night before and pick up the first thing you see on the shelf. Does your mother like light or dark chocolate? What fillings does she like? Does she have a favorite brand? It’s not about just getting a gift because you have to. It’s about getting something special just for her. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does have to be something she likes.

My favorite chocolate is a bit pricey, I just love Godiva milk chocolate. And when someone gets it for me, it’s mine, and I don’t feel at all bad about not sharing with everyone. Do some research and get what she likes.

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3. Popcorn – I have a food theme going here, don’t I? The key with this again is thought. I know for me as a mom, a special snack just for me is hard to come by. I usually just snack on whatever everyone else is having. You know, stale goldfish from the kids, too-spicy salsa from my husband, and whatever else people in my house like to eat. I rarely purchase a snack just for me.

If your mom’s favorite popcorn is microwave popcorn, get that. You can get some really fun popcorn at specialty stores or even at your local grocery store. I love popcorn that’s been drizzled in chocolate. But it’s like $4 a bag so I don’t just go buy it for myself.

Better yet, get your mother some fun popcorn, her favorite sweet drink (coke, tea, lemonade, etc.), and a new DVD. I bet she’ll even invite you to join her movie night.

4. Coffee – Most moms I know consume a lot of coffee. My mom loves coffee. I know a few who don’t drink it at all and I’m not sure how they survive! If your mother doesn’t drink coffee, she probably drinks tea, hot chocolate, or cokes. The key here is, get her a beverage that she loves. My favorite coffee brand is Green Mountain. It’s always so smooth and delicious. Find out what your mom’s favorite brand is. Does she like beans, ground, or k-cups? Or, would she prefer a gift card to her favorite coffee shop? My mom always feels pampered with a Starbucks giftcard. Add a giftcard for her Kindle and she has a relaxing afternoon out. A lot of local coffee shops have their own special blends, maybe your mother likes trying new things. Just knowing that you put in some extra effort to get her something she likes will be appreciated.

Want to give a really special gift? Include a personalized coffee cup with her coffee. And she’ll think of you every time she drinks coffee.

5. Personalized Gift – Shutterfly has awesome magnets, scratch pads, and cards if you’re not crafty but still want to make something special for your mom. If you like to create things, make her something that she wants or something that will remind her of how much you love her everytime she sees it. For example, my MIL loves aprons, so I like to either make her an apron with the kids artwork on it, or buy her an apron from shutterfly or someplace similar with a picture of the kids on it. It’s useful, because she wears it while she cooks and it’s special to her because it lets her show off her grandkids. If you like to bake, bake your mom a special cake, or have her over for dinner one night. There’s so many personalized gifts you can give to your mom that let her know you were thinking of her way before Mother’s Day. (because these things take time)

Fudge

I just love Fudge! It’s one of my favorite holiday treats. I make it every year in December. The only thing about fudge, I like chocolate and my husband likes peanut butter. Actually, wait, that’s not a problem. I get to eat all the chocolate fudge myself. Well, this year, I don’t. My 7yr old discovered my fudge and she likes it too. And of course, she prefers the chocolate.

I’ve played with my recipe over the years, and finally found something that I like. It’s easy, virtually fail-proof, and tastes great!

Chocolate Fudge

2 Cups Sugar
2/3 Cups Milk
1 8oz jar marshmallow creme
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips (I used half semi- sweet and half dark chocolate)

1. Grease a 9×9 cake pan with unsalted butter. Set aside.

2. Combine sugar and milk in a pan on the stove. Cook over medium-high heat until mixture reaches 236 degrees F (soft ball stage). Stirring constantly.

3. Remove from heat and stir in marshmallow creme, vanilla extract, and chocolate chips until completely combined.

4. Pour into a greased 9X9 pan and let cool.

Super easy.

fudge

Peanut Butter Fudge

2 Cups Sugar
2/3 Cups Milk
1 8oz jar marshmallow creme
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup peanut butter (I use creamy because no one in my family likes chunks, use chunky if you want the little peanut pieces in your fudge)

1. Grease a 9×9 cake pan with unsalted butter. Set aside.

2. Combine sugar and milk in a pan on the stove. Cook over medium-high heat until mixture reaches 236 degrees F (soft ball stage). Stirring constantly.

3. Remove from heat and stir in marshmallow creme, vanilla extract, and peanut butter until completely combined.

4. Pour into a greased 9X9 pan and let cool.

That was easy, wasn’t it? Actually, it’s the same recipe just with the chocolate and peanut butter swapped out.

Want something a little different? Feel free to add nuts or other non-melting mix-ins to your fudge. Or swap out that 1 cup of peanut butter for something else melty or creamy and see what happens.

Monster Pretzels

pretzel

These are so easy to make. And so fun to make! My girls helped me with these and they opted not to put any of the halloween sprinkles on, but insisted on using hearts instead!

Any way you do it, have fun! They taste great too, so make a bunch, because if you don’t you’ll wish you had.

Pretzel Monsters

  • Bag (or two) of Chocolate covered pretzels – I just buy the cheapest chocolate covered pretzels I can find at the grocery store
  • Candy making chocolate in various colors – green and orange are great monster colors!
  • Assorted sprinkles

Spread parchment paper out on 2 cookie sheets.

Spread pretzels out on sheets in a single layer.

Melt the candy chocolate in a ziploc bag in the microwave. Microwave 15 to 30 seconds, mix and repeat until chocolate is smooth.

Cut a small hole in the corner of the bag and pipe into the top two sections of the pretzel. Immediately, add a large sprinkles for the eyes. (this is a great part for the kids, you pipe, and they stick on the sprinkles)

Let cool, remove from the tray, and enjoy.

I like to just set out a bowl of these on the counter when guests come over. They’re fun and so tasty!

 

Food Friday – Second CSA Box Recipes

I still have green onions to use up. That’s on my to-do list for this week. “Find Green Onion recipes that the kids will eat”. This could be interesting…

Did you know that soups are hard to photograph? Or maybe it’s just me. I feel like I need to take a class in food photography to do this right. Anyways…we already had a bunch of carrots in our fridge and we got some in our CSA box. My 6yr old has been begging to make carrot soup, and with all these carrots I agreed that this would be a good time to give it a try.

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Carrot soup

1 lb carrots – peeled, and sliced into small pieces.
1 onion – roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic – chopped
2 leaves fresh basil
2 Tbsp oil (I used coconut oil)
2 Cups chicken stock

Place first 5 ingredients in a skillet and cook, with the lid on, over medium heat until carrots are soft. About 30 minutes.

Transfer to a blender and blend until everything is blended well. Add chicken stock and blend until well combined and to desired texture.

Pour into a large pan and heat on low for as long as needed. I just let mine simmer while I made the rest of our dinner.

This soup was surprisingly rich, I was going to eat a huge bowl and just couldn’t.

 

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We had a few carrots left over so later in the week I made carrot sticks and red pepper sticks and we dipped them in ranch dressing – which is the kids favorite way to eat carrots.

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Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

These didn’t make it to the end of the day. They were eaten up almost immediately.

First, wash the strawberries and then cut off their tops. I put my tops in a tupperware in the freezer for later use in smoothies.

There’s two reasons for cutting the tops off before dipping. First, I want the tops for smoothies. Second, the kids will ask me to cut the tops off before they will eat them, so I may as well cut them off first and have tops for my smoothies.

Next, I highly recommend a decent quality dipping chocolate. I found this Ghirardelli dipping chocolate and it’s awesome. You melt it on the defrost setting in your microwave and it melts in just a couple of minutes. It’s also basically room temperature after you melt it so I don’t have to worry about the kids burning themselves on hot chocolate or melting something I don’t want melted with my chocolate when I dip.

Then, dip away!

It dries fast, by the time I had finished dipping all the strawberries, I could pick up and eat the first ones I had dipped. And they were delicious!

 

Easter Chocolate

I love making stuff in the kitchen with the kids and now that my oldest is almost 5 it’s gotten even more exciting. She’s actually able to do a lot of things by herself and supervision means I get to stand by and take LOTS of pictures!

One of the easiest projects I’ve found is the molded chocolate. I picked up a bunch of trays at a yard sale last year and I buy the chocolate when it’s 50% off after holidays so it’s really a pretty inexpensive project. I also got some flavorings over Christmas and we love using those. My husband found the blue cinnamon eggs to be a little unexpected so as long as guests are warned about the flavorings it’s all good.

The purple ones are peppermint and the brown are cherry. My favorite are the brown ones, you can’t go wrong with chocolate and cherry!

I did all the microwaving, but once the chocolate was soft my 4 yr old was able to do all the pouring and tray tapping (to get the bubbles out of the chocolate you have to drop the tray on the counter a gazillion times – which she loved!)

Add some coconut dyed green and you have a great, easy, edible, Easter decoration!

Review of Unreal Candy Unjunked

Received my Unreal Candy BzzKit from Bzz Agent last week. I was pretty skeptical. I mean, candy sweetened with cane sugar and agave sugar, Colored with beet juice (well, some of the chocolate pieces are), and with other healthier things, it was bound to taste different.

It’s definitely not your typical hershey’s chocolate but it is melt in your mouth delicious! And when I say melt in your mouth I do actually mean melt in your mouth. The chocolate is a tad softer than hershey’s so it melts a little creamier. Quite nice, in my opinion.

The chocolate tastes more like a semi-sweet so just don’t expect a milk chocolate. It’s almost halfway between a milk and a dark chocolate. And the agave sugar gives it a bit of a different kind of sweet taste. I wasn’t sure if I liked it at first but after trying several different varieties of the Unjunked candy, I actually like it.

My favorite is the candy bar without nuts (mainly because I don’t really like nuts in my candy bars, there’s nothing wrong with the bar with nuts). It’s a great combination of nougat, caramel, and chocolate. A little heavier than your usual candy bar so plan to be hungry when you start eating it or just eat half.

Next I like the peanut butter cups. Not as well as the candy bars but they aren’t bad. My husband and kids loved them! But, again, I’m not a big chocolate and peanut butter candy person so some of this is my personal preference. My 4 year old actually opened a package herself and ate it all before I realized she had candy.

The chocolate pieces are just ok. The ones with nuts are better, but for the plain chocolate ones, the chocolate just seems a bit bitter to me. I love milk chocolate m&m’s though so comparing the two chocolates the Unjunked chocolate pieces are kind of semi-sweet compared to the milk chocolate. Not terrible, but not my favorite.

In summary, I really like the Unjunked candy bars and I’ll be buying them again – probably as a substitute for granola bars. My husband and kids like the peanut butter cups so I’ll buy those for them. And I probably won’t purchase any more of the chocolate pieces. All in all, the Unreal candy is pretty good and if you’re looking for a healthier candy this is the way to go.

Smores

Something new I tried out this year.

Winter Smores
Graham cracker square halved
Smore marshmallow
Marshmallow creme
Chocolate for melting

Place the marshmallow between the graham crackers, fill in any gaps with the marshmallow creme.

Melt the chocolate. I found to to be really difficult to dip these so I just set them on wax paper and dripped the chocolate over them and it worked out well.