Chocolate Nut Clusters

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

If you interested in giving candy making a try, I’d like to introduce you to this Chocolate Nut Cluster recipe. It’s a very forgiving recipe that is as delicious as it is beautiful. Bonus, it’s my father’s favorite holiday candy! The recipe makes two dozen and let me tell you 6 of these make a perfect gift, so give away 3 gifts and keep one for yourself! Happy candy making! 

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Chocolate Nut Clusters
(makes 24)

What you need: 
1 pound white candy coating, chopped
6 ounces milk chocolate chips (can sub bittersweet chocolate or semisweet chocolate)
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (can sub bittersweet chocolate)
2 1/2 cups dry roasted and salted nuts (I used 1 1/2 cups cashews and 1/2 cup peanuts)
Maldon Salt (optional)
Chipotle chili powder (optional)
Sprinkles (optional)

What to do:
1. Prepare Trays: Line four 1/4 baking sheet trays or two 1/2 baking sheet trays (whatever will fit into your refrigerator) with waxed paper and set aside. *note: if you don’t have enough baking sheet trays, use any flat surface that you have that will fit into your refrigerator. Plates, platters or whatever.
2. Melt Coating and Chocolate: In a pyrex bowl set over a sauce pan of simmering water (a double boiler), add the candy coating and chocolate. Heat until melted and smooth.
3. Cool Chocolate Mixture: Remove the bowl from the double boiler and allow the chocolate to cool for 5-10 minutes. This step can not be skipped. Allowing the chocolate cool for a few minutes help keep your clusters together when you scoop them out.
4. Add Nuts: Stir nuts into the slightly cooled chocolate. 5. Scoop and Set: Using a small portion scoop (about a heaping 1 tablespoon size), scoop the chocolate nut mixture onto the prepared baking sheet trays. Sprinkle the tops of each cluster with a wee bit of salt, chipotle chili powder or sprinkles if you like. Refrigerate until firm (about an hour).

Try out these other Easy Candy and Sweet Snack Recipes!
They make great gifts from the kitchen! 

Homemade Tootsie Rolls
Beautiful Bark
Homemade Caramel Corn

Quick Craft: Patchwork Ornaments

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

This year, the holiday season is about all the the heart thumping cozy things that make this time of year special. No big box stores or mall shopping for me (in all honesty, nothing has changed there). This year I’m decorating my tree with homemade bits and bobbles including these Patchwork Ornaments. I’ve been collecting fabric scraps for years from old clothing and family heirlooms (like my grandmother’s bed sheets) that just couldn’t take another wash. Coupled with some of my new favorite fabrics from Rifle Paper and a modern nostalgic craft is born.

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Patchwork Ornament
(makes 1)

What you need:
1 smooth finish (not that rough styro) styrofoam ball (any size, I used a 4″ diameter ball)
Craft Brush
Mod Podge Glue Sealer (or make your own by mixing 1 cup white glue with 1/3 cup water)
Cotton fabric scraps cut into small squares (thin cotton is best, I cut mine into 1″ squares for the 4″ diameter ball. The larger the ball the larger the squares)
1 Screw Eye (size will depend on the width of ribbon you are using for hanging)
Ribbon for hanging
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What to do: 
1. Brush a thin layer of the Mod Podge glue sealer onto a small area of the ball. Apply one of the fabric squares to that area and coat the top of the fabric square with another layer of the glue sealer. Line up the next fabric square to the last square and top with a coat of the sealer. Continue around only half of the ball…applying the glue sealer to the ball and then topping with the squares and sealer (I only do 1/2 of the ball at a time because it’s easier to hold. The process can get sticky, this keeps your hand free and clean). Allow to dry (2-4 hours).
2. Continue the process with the other side of the ball until the ball is completely covered in squares. Allow to dry overnight.
3. Screw the eye screw into the ball.
4. Thread the ribbon through the eye screw and tie in a knot at the top.

To Use: Hang on a tree, decorate a package, tie on a doorknob or just fill a beautiful bowl with them.

PS Have a bandana collection? Try using bandana fabric
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More Holiday Crafting Ideas Here! 
DIY: FUN HOLIDAY WREATHS

12 Handmade Ornaments to Trim Your Tree

6 Unique Handmade Holiday Garlands

DIY: Pom Pom Tree Skirt

•Handmade Stockings

 

 

 

 

Two Last Minute Gifts From The Kitchen

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

Two fun gifts that require very little time, but pack a big punch! Don’t forget to package them in reuseable containers!

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Everything Bagel Topping Mix
makes 2 cups

What you need:
1/3 cup black sesame seeds
1/3 cup onion flake
1/3 cup garlic flake
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1/3 cup poppy seeds
1/3 cup flake salt

What to do:
In a large sauté pan over medium-low heat, add all the ingredients and stir together. Cook, stirring constantly until spices start to become fragrant. Remove from heat to a bowl and allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

Uses:
•Sprinkle over a poke bowl •Top a fried egg •Mix into coleslaw •Sprinkle on a salad •Season roasted vegetables
•Make a compound butter •Sprinkle on a bloody mary •Sprinkle on avocado toast •Season popcorn •Sprinkle on mac and cheese.
•Sprinkle on fried rice •Sprinkle over white rice •Sprinkle over a hot dog •Season grilled vegetables
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Tipsy-Spiced Cherries

What you need:
1 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cinnamon sticks
1 stem fresh rosemary (optional)
1 ¼ cups Gosling’s Black Seal® Rum
12 ounces frozen Sweet Black Cherries, thawed

What to do:
1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the sugar and 1 ¼ cups water. Cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the cayenne pepper, cinnamon sticks, rosemary (optional) and rum. Cool slightly. Add cherries and let stand 30 minutes. Remove rosemary stem. Store in airtight jars and refrigerate for 3 days before using. Will keep, refrigerated, for up to 2 months.

Uses:
•Spoon over ice cream •Make a Rum Old Fashioned •Use cherries for a Tipsy Black Forest Cake •Spoon onto chocolate mousse.

 

DIY: Felt Fortune Cookie Ornaments

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

Tie on a package or holiday tree or my favorite…a Chinese takeout container filled with homemade sprinkle fortune cookies! 
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Felt Fortune Cookie Ornaments
makes 1

What you need:
Felt Scrap (6″x 6″), I like to use a heavier weight felt
Ribbon, I used a printed holiday ribbon but you can use a blank ribbon and write your own message on it
Embroidery thread
Adornments like small beads and pom poms
Needle
Scissors
Pencil
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Step 1: Cut the felt. 
Using an item that is a 6-inch diameter (I used a bowl), trace around it with a pencil onto the piece of felt. Cut out circle.
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Step 2: Cut the ribbon.
Cut a piece of ribbon that is 2-inches larger than the circle.
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Step 3: Fold the Fortune Cookie. 
Place the ribbon (fortune) in the middle of the felt circle and fold in half. Hold/pinch the half circle at the top of the arch with two fingers. Use the other hand to push the bottom flat side in toward the top causing a crease and creating the fortune cookie shape. At this point you can hold the two ends together. If you need a more guided tutorial, watch my video HERE at :46.
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Step 4: Sew ends together. 
Using the needle and colorful embroidery thread, sew a stitch to keep the ends of the fortune cookie together. At this point, you have officially made a Felt Fortune Cookie! I love this idea for a place card or to use hundreds of them for a fun tablescape!
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Step 5: Make it an ornament (if you like). 
Using your needle and thread, knot one end and thread through the top of your fortune cookie. Thread on a bead and pom pom and tie a loop at the top.
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Hang your ornament on a holiday tree, tie it on a present or do what I LOVE TO DO and let it adorn a colorful Chinese takeout container that’s filled with easy to make SPRINKLE FORTUNE COOKIES.
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DIY: Cupcake Liner Wreath

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

Holiday wreath? Sure, ANY holiday with the right colored cupcake liners. I love this for a fun quick craft! 
Cupcake Liners, Wreath Making, Crafting, Paper Crafts, Baking Supply Crafts, Libbie Summers Crafts,

Cupcake Liner Wreath
makes 1 (12-inch) wreath

What you need:
120 paper cupcake liners in whatever colors you like (I used pastels for this wreath)
1 (12-inch) styrofoam wreath form
scissors
straight pins
Ribbon to hang
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What to do: 
Step 1: Prepare the cupcake liners.
Working with two liners stacked together at a time (doubling them up makes them more sturdy when pinning to the styrofoam), make a cut down one side just to the bottom and cut the bottom of the liners out (the circle part at the bottom of a cupcake!). Continue with all of the liners. You should have 60 sets and 120 colored circles (I’ll show you what to do with those later).
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Step 2: Attach the liners to the styrofoam wreath form.
Start anywhere on your wreath (this will become your “top” and be covered with ribbon when you hang it). Wrap one set of liners around the wreath and secure in the back with straight pins. You could also glue the cupcake liners with stick glue, but I find them secured better with straight pins AND you can take the pins out and reuse the wreath). Continue adding the liners (alternating colors) by overlapping the previous liners and securing in the back with straight pins. Work your way around the wreath until it is completely covered. Note: The last liner is a bit of a bear to add, but don’t worry, it will be covered up with a ribbon! 😉
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Step 3: Hang your wreath!
Cut a piece of ribbon the length you need for hanging over your door or wherever you think would be fun to hang! I hung mine over the side of our mid-century liquor cart from the rum decanter!
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PRO TIP: Remember all those circles you cut out? They make the BEST confetti!!!!
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