Chocolate Saltine Double Toffee

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

My Aunt Darlene used to make a version of this midwestern holiday treat when I was a kid. She called it her “Special Toffee”. It wasn’t until last year that I knew there was a cracker inside. Some call them cookies. I prefer to think of this as Aunt Darlene’s Special Toffee 2.0. I’ve taken her recipe and raised it a toffee. 

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Chocolate Saltine Double Toffee
makes one quarter baking tray/24 crackers

What you need:
1 cup butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
24 salted saltine crackers (or you can make these using  a 1/2 sheet tray and use a full sleeve of saltines. The rest of the recipe will work with either amount)
3/4 cup Chocolate Heath Toffee Bits
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

What to do:
1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Line a 1/4 baking sheet tray with foil and spray with a non-stick cooking spray. Get a timer ready!!
2. Arrange Crackers: Line the baking tray with the crackers in a single layer.
3. Start Toffee: In a small sauce pan over medium-high heat add the butter and brown sugar. Bring to a boil. Once the mixture has started to boil DO NOT STIR. Allow to boil for 3 minutes only. Pour the hot mixture over the tray of crackers and spread to cover crackers if you need to (I never need to). Bake for 5 minutes.
4. Add Second Toffee: Remove tray from oven and spread toffee bits over the bubbling mixture. Return to the oven for 2 minutes.
5. Add Chocolate: Remove tray from the oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Let it sit for 3-5 minutes until the chocolate chips are almost completely melted. Be patient! Once melted, use a spatula to spread the chocolate evenly over the top.
6. Rest and Cool: Let the tray sit at room temperature for 30 minutes (this will help the crackers soak up all the goodness) then refrigerate until hard.

To Serve: Remove from foil and cut into uniform pieces or break apart into irregular pieces (I prefer to break apart). Package in a cute vintage tin for a lovely gift from the kitchen.

Check out these other Easy Candy Making Recipes! 
Chocolate Nut Clusters: Recipe or VIDEO
Homemade Tootsie Rolls: Recipe or VIDEO
•Beautiful Bark: Recipe and Video 

 

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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