Chocolate Peanut Butter Bon Bons – Last Minute Christmas Goodies!

Hello all! It’s only two days until Christmas and I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season so far. I haven’t been able to post the last little bit due to being sick as a dog and then having family up to visit us but I wanted to share a recipe with you today! These are great little chocolates that you can whip up as home made gifts or to take as a dessert to Christmas dinner.

To make the Peanut butter filled chocolates you’ll need:

  • Your favorite type of chocolate (I used milk chocolate but this would work really well with dark)
  • 1/2 c peanut butter
  • 2-4 Tbs powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • candy mold in the shape you’d like. The mold I have is actually for cherry cordials but I like making bon bons from it.

Your first step is making your peanut butter filling. I used natural creamy peanut butter but you can use crunchy or regular smooth. Take about a half a cup of peanut butter and add in a teaspoon of vanilla and about 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and mix them together. If it’s still a little thin you can add in some more powdered sugar. You want it to be a consistency you can roll into little balls without it sticking to your hands. It’ll look something like this:

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It should also taste like the filling for a Reese’s cup and I had to hold myself back from just eating it right out of the bowl. Now that the filling is done you can start on your chocolate. You might be tempted to have the chocolate melting while you make the filling but don’t. Just wait and do it separately because it’s easy to accidentally scorch your chocolate. I used the double boiler method, but I’ll explain how to melt your chocolate in the microwave as well.

For a double boiler:

Take a medium saucepan and fill it about a third of the way up with water and set it on medium/low heat. Take about two cups of your chocolate and put it into a large mixing bowl and then set the mixing bowl onto the saucepan, like this:

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Make sure that the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water in the saucepan. You want the steam from the water to gently melt your chocolate. You don’t need your water at a boil either, I tried to keep mine just shy of boiling. Another word of caution, if you can use a bowl with a large lip on it like the one I used, definitely use it. You want to keep the steam and water away from your chocolates at all costs, otherwise the chocolate will seize up and it will be unusable.  It took me about seven minutes to get from this:

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to this:

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I used a whisk but it would be better to use a spatula to keep the chocolate from getting caught in the center of the whisk and melting slower. I also used chocolate chips but you can get molding chocolate wafers that melt much nicer that just plain chocolate chips.

Microwave method:

If you are melting your chocolate in the microwave start out with about 15 seconds, take it out and stir, then pop it back in for 10 second increments stirring in between until the chocolate is all melted.

After your chocolate is all melted its time to start filling your molds. If you used wafers and your chocolate is nice and thin you can use a spoon to fill each of your chocolate molds, let it set for a few seconds, and then pour the excess chocolate back out. My chocolate this time was a little too thick to pour in and out so I just used a pastry brush and brushed the insides of my molds to create a chocolate shell. Let the shell harden a bit while you separate out some peanut butter filling. Roll small pieces of your peanut butter into a ball and drop it into the center of your mold. You want them small enough that they don’t stick up over the top of your mold. Here are all my molds filled with peanut butter:

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Next you simply want to spoon a bit of chocolate over the top of each mold to seal in your peanut butter. After you’ve covered all your chocolates you need to tap your mold repeatedly onto the counter top to get rid of any air bubbles. This also helps the chocolate to settle around the peanut butter a bit better and makes sure your mold is completely filled. Finally either let your chocolates cool and harden at room temperature or stick them into the freezer for about ten minutes and they should be hard enough to pop out of your mold. You can wrap them in colored foil or put them straight into a decorative tin for a Christmas dinner dessert!

If you’d like you can also make a simple chocolate ganache filling. You simply heat one cup of heavy cream in a saucepan until it’s steaming, but not boiling. Remove the pan from the heat and pour it over 8 oz of your chocolate. You can let the mixture set up, then spoon out small pieces to drop into the center of your chocolates, or you can chill the chocolate shell while the ganache cools a bit and then pour the ganache into the center, let it set up and then put the bottom layer of chocolate on. The ganache does take a bit of time to set, let it sit in your fridge for at least 1.5-2 hours.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and that you have a wonderful Christmas. I’m going to do my last exercise blog this week to wrap up how I felt about the 30 day shred and then I’m going back to doing my once a week posts because life has been hectic lately with holidays and the weather!

Stay warm and I’ll see you next post!

Amber

Ten easy crafts to do with your kids this holiday season

Hi friends! Today I’m going to share ten different projects and ideas I’ve collected from around the internet that you can do with little ones to get excited for the holidays. You can find pins about all of these ideas on newlyweds Pinterest here:

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1. Plaster hand print ornaments and salt dough ornaments

 

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image via roxycraft.com

   Using plaster of paris sets or making your own salt dough is a great way to preserve little hands, feet, and fingerprints for years to come. Your basic salt dough recipe is one part flour, one part salt, and half part water. Another great example of salt dough ornaments is this evergreen ornament I found at roxycraft.com. Simply poke a hole in the top and bake them at a low temperature or let them dry out overnight before stringing them up and hanging them on the tree.

2. Hand print wreaths

 

handprint wreath

Lots of kids make these in school but it’s fun to put a twist on them and make them at home, too. You can use thumbprints to add holiday berries and try out different colors and glitters to match the rest of your decor at home. Plus what kid doesn’t like squishing their hands around in paint? I love this example but can’t find  what site it’s from other than the pinterest pin. If you know where it’s from let me know so I can give it credit.

3. DIY personalized ornaments

 

image via thenerdswife.com

image via thenerdswife.com

There are so many different ways to make ornaments. I love these personalized ornaments that I found on thenerdswife.com. (plus what an awesome site name, right?!) You can also use clear ornaments to insert holiday family photos, small vacation keepsakes, confetti, anything you might want that’s small enough to fit. Another great idea for small children is to use a wooden abc block with the first letter of their name. Let them decorate it up and paste a photo of them on front. you can drill a hole through the corner and tie it to a ribbon to easily hang it up on the tree.

4. Decorate sugar cookies

The possibility of decorating cookies are about as endless as the possibilities of what to stick in your ornament. Let your kids help you make up the dough, and after they’ve cooled set a few aside just for them to decorate. You can even use my sugar cookie recipe here for allergy free cookies! For some extra fun stock up on some edible pearls, metallic dragées (those shiny silver and gold balls), different types of sprinkles, licorice, jujubes, chocolate chips and kisses, the list goes on. Then just sit back and watch as your child creates a giant sugary monstrosity of a cookie, lol. To keep things a little less hectic you can tell them they’re decorating for Santa, and that they need to keep it neat and make nice cookies for him!

5. Reindeer ‘food’

 

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I think that this is absolutely adorable for small kids to do that still believe in Santa Clause. Make a mixture of oats, glitter, and birdseed and seal it up in a small baggy. On Christmas eve go outside together and scatter the reindeer food. When my brothers were little one year I went outside and left tracks in the snow to make it look like Santa and his reindeer came to see the treat we’d left outside. You can make reindeer prints easily by taking a piece of cardboard and cutting it into a hoof print shape, then hot gluing a dowel onto the back to easily press it into the snow. If you wear some big boots while you walk around it will look like Santa got out of his sleigh and walked around while the reindeer had their snacks. This is another image I couldn’t find a link back to, but clicking on it will take you to a printable pdf version in Google docs.

6. Elf on the shelf

 

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image via midgetmomma.com

 

I’ve heard so much about this little elf this year it’s crazy. Apparently it’s been around for a while now but it seems to have just made a comeback. You can get your own elf here at elfontheshelf.com. Each night your elf comes alive and flies to the north pole to report back to Santa about who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. He’s full of Christmas magic, but he can’t be touched or else his magic will fade away. When the kids wake up each morning the elf is in a different place and up to something mischievous! This page from midgetmomma.com has 60 different ideas for how your curious elf can entertain your kids throughout the holiday season.

7. Design your own stockings

 

image via atcompanyb etsy store

image via atcompanyb etsy store

 

If your Christmases are anything like mine were growing up, the first things to get tackled Christmas morning are the stockings. We all had the same stocking each year growing up and I love the idea of a home made, personal stocking. They don’t have to be sewn and made from scratch either. You can find plain stockings at craft stores and dollar stores and use no sew fabric glue to attach ribbons and trim. Use puffy paint and glitter paint for designs and add buttons and bows. You can do this each year or every few years and look back and see how your child’s creativity has grown over the years.

 

8. Design Christmas/Holiday cards

 

image via beautyandbeard.blogspot.ca

image via beautyandbeard.blogspot.ca

 

Christmas cards are another thing that is fun and are super easy to make. I love these from beautyandbeard that use paint chips and sequins to make cards. Some other good things to use on your cards are buttons, beads, craft paper, newspaper, ribbons, acrylic paint, stamps, pipe cleaners or stickers. You can find blank cards or card stock at just about any craft store for cheap. Add a holiday family photo to the front and have everyone add their signatures to the outside wishing others happy holidays. To keep short attention spans on track you can make each card different, or do just a few cards to send to close family members.

 

9. Snow globes from mason jars

 

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image via craftaholicsanonymous.net

 

This project generally involves using hot glue so it isn’t necessarily ideal for small children, but it’s a great way to let their creativity shine. You can make any scene that you’d like inside these and they are really fun to shake up and watch all the glitter/snow fall to the bottom. Plan out ahead of time what scene you’d like to create or go shopping together at the craft store to pick out items together.

10. Discuss what Christmas/ the Holiday season is REALLY about

To me, this is the absolute number one thing we should be doing with our children each year. Regardless of our religion, race, gender, income or where we live in the world, it is of the highest importance to teach our children compassion and respect. Even more so nowadays when holidays are looked at as a stressful time when people rack up hundreds or even thousands of dollars in debt and seem to become more obsessed with material possessions than any other time of the year. Life goes by fast, stress builds up and sometimes we tend to overlook the little things that really make life meaningful.

The memories that stick with me from my Christmases growing up aren’t of each and every gift I got, it’s of my grandmother making us all sit in a big circle and telling us the story of Christmas. Teaching us to love, respect, and forgive each other because that’s what was done for us. I remember the giant family dinners we used to have at my great grandmothers house and playing with cousins and second cousins after scarfing down huge amounts of chicken and dumplings and mashed potatoes. When you take away all the material things, the only things we have left are each other. This year don’t just make these gifts and projects with your children, make memories with them. Teach them that the love and cheer we all want to spread during the holidays is something we should strive for year round.

Til next post,

Amber

Gluten Free Chicken and Dumplings

Hey friends!

Since all of the recipes I’m posting this month are Christmas/Holiday themed, I wanted to share with you what we had for dinner just last night, gluten free chicken and dumplings! One of my favorite things about Christmas dinner growing up was my great grandma’s chicken and dumplings and it’s something I’ve really missed since going gluten free. You could make these as drop dumplings, but I prefer to roll mine out and cut them into squares. I also used boneless skinless breasts because it’s what we had in the freezer but feel free to use any type of chicken you prefer.

For the chicken:

I like to roast my chicken while I make the stock and dumplings and then chop it up and add it in. You can chunk up your chicken and put it directly into the pot and cook it but I feel like roasting/baking adds more flavour.

You’ll want 2-3 pounds of chicken, and I generally like to rub it with basil, oregano, thyme, and a little bit of salt and pepper. If you’re using chicken with the skin on I love mixing all the herbs with a little bit of butter and massaging it under the skin. Then I wrap it loosely in aluminum foil and bake it at 350 for about 15 minutes, peel back the foil and roast it for another 5-10 minutes. Having the foil around the chicken helps keep all the juices in a nice little packet that you can add into your pot

For the dumplings:

  • 2 cups gluten free flour (I like to use a 60/40 mix of brown/white rice flour)
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • dash of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T softened butter or Earthblend for lactose free
  • 1 cup water, milk or other lactose/dairy free milk (I would stick with rice or soy, almond or coconut could give it an odd flavour)
  • 1/4 tsp parsley

Add all of your dry ingredients into a mixing bowl, then add in the egg and softened butter. Mix by hand or on low until the mixture turns crumbly and the egg and butter are incorporated. Slowly add in your milk/water just until the dough comes together. You want it to look a bit like this:

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After I mixed the dough I covered it and set it in the fridge while I started on the broth.

For the broth:

  • 2.5 litres chicken broth
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup (optional)
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 T corn starch
  • 1/4 c. cold water

Add all the ingredients except for the water and corn starch into a large pot and bring to a boil. Save the cornstarch and water for later.

Add in the dumplings one by one, making sure that they don’t touch each other until they’ve begun to cook. (I always roll out my dumplings so I haven’t tried this recipe as drop dumplings.) If you want rolled dumplings take the dough and roll it out between two sheets of wax paper until they’re between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick, then cut into 1 1/2 inch squares using a pizza cutter. Don’t get to upset if they’re not all the same. They’ll look a bit like this:

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The dumplings will puff and rise to the surface as they cook. After all the dumplings are in the pot cover and cook for about five minutes, then add in your shredded chicken. If you’re lactose free like me you can’t add in cream of chicken, so I like to use cornstarch as a thickener instead. Mix the corn starch into the cold water and slowly pour into your soup, stirring constantly. The soup should start to thicken up instantly and thicken a bit more as you let it set. If you’d like your soup a little thicker you can add a bit more cornstarch when you make your mixture. I like to let it set for five minutes or so to make sure it’s thickened up. Now serve and enjoy! Not much more can get me in the holiday spirit than a bowl of chicken and dumplings on a cold night.

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I hope you enjoy this and I’ll see you all next post!

Amber

Fitness Update: Week 3

Hi all!

Checking in for my third week which I have to report wasn’t the greatest. I fell off the bandwagon with Thanksgiving and all, plus I missed a post on Monday so I apologize… But I’m back on it this week! I think the lesson to be learned this week is that if you mess up, there is absolutely nothing stopping you from just trucking on. There will be days (or weekends) you just don’t feel like working out and you give in and skip a day, or splurge on a meal, but that’s not the end of your diet! I think that an important thing to remember is that a diet is not temporary. A diet is how you eat and exercise for the rest of your life. Crash dieting, fad diets and things aren’t going to keep you healthy in the long run. If you stumbled a bit over the holidays, lets just keep on going forward together. You are in control of your own health and wellness! I’m starting what is supposed to be my last week of 30 day shred, but I’m going to push it to 5 weeks that way I can get in a week of level three. After the next two weeks I’ll not be updating every week but I would love to still do some fitness/get healthy posts maybe once a month. Let me know what you think!

Till next post,

Amber