Grinch Cocoa with Peppermint Marshmallows #ChristmasSweetsWeek

This post is sponsored in conjunction with ChristmasSweetsWeek. I received product samples from sponsor companies to aid in the creation of the ChristmasSweetsWeek recipes. All opinions are mine alone.

There are two things my four-year-old is loving this season: hot chocolate and the Grinch. I combined the two for him in this fun, festive treat.

Grinch Cocoa 3

Welcome to #ChristmasSweetsWeek 2018 hosted by Terri from Love and Confections and Christie from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures! What better way to celebrate the holidays than with food and a fun giveaway? 44 bloggers from around the country have come together to share over 180 sweet Christmas recipes!! Deck the halls and get ready for very merry sweet treats, like fudge, cookies, Christmas morning breakfasts, layer cakes, martinis, cocoa, and more! Our #ChristmasSweetsWeek sponsors are helping us give away some great prizes. Thank you so much, Sponsors, for your generosity. We have an incredible giveaway below and would love if you would take a moment to read about it and what you can win!

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Prize #1 Dixie Crystals

Dixie Crystals is giving one winner a Keurig K-Select Single-Serve K-Cup Pod Coffee Maker.

Since 1917, Dixie Crystals® has been the South’s choice for high-quality sugar and sweeteners. For generations, Dixie Crystals has been at the heart of family traditions and celebrations. Our pure cane, non-GMO sugar products guarantee that treasured family recipes will turn out right every time. Bake with love and Dixie Crystals.

Prize #2 Cabot Creamery Co-operative

Cabot is giving one winner a cheese gift set, including a Cabot Cheese slate cutting board, small cheese cleaver, Cabot custom Bee’s Wrap, an assortment of Cabot’s finest cheeses.

Cabot Creamery Co-operative, makers of naturally aged, award-winning cheeses and dairy products is owned by 1,000 dairy farm families in New England and New York.

Prize #3 LorAnn Oils & Flavors

LorAnn is giving one winner a collection of 6 LorAnn Bakery Emulsions, a collection of three LorAnn Oils vanilla extracts, a candy making cookbook, The Sweetapolita Bakebook, and a 12-unit variety pack of LorAnn super-strength candy oils.

Our flavors. Your creations. For over 50 years, LorAnn Oils has been supplying professionals and home chefs with the finest quality candy and baking flavors, essential oils, and specialty ingredients. Visit us at LorAnn Oils & Flavors to shop, learn, and discover new recipe ideas.

Prize #4 Joyjolt 

Joyjolt is giving one winner an Aurora Whiskey Decanter Set. Our Aurora Whiskey Decanter set has a timeless and sophisticated design that adds both class and style to any table. This set is hand made with top quality lead free crystal glass and cutting edge materials. The sets quality, design and upscale packaging makes the Aurora a perfect addition to your home, bar, hotel, restaurant, club or office. DRINK WITH JOY. ENJOY THE JOURNEY.

Here at JoyJolt we believe that so many of the moments you enjoy most include raising a glass. From the jolt you get from that first sip of coffee in the morning to toasting a milestone with close friends. Thats why we have created glassware equally as special and unique as your happiest moments.




Prize #5 Sweets & Treats

Sweets & Treats is giving one winner the Year of Sprinkles Box at a $150 value. It contains holiday mixes, classic sprinkles, and some of their most popular sprinkles.

Sweets & Treats, a party and baking supplies manufacturer and wholesaler, started out of a baking industry need for truly greaseproof cupcake liners. From there, the company expanded into a handful of specialized categories including the latest, Sweet Sprinkles, their one of a kind sprinkles and sprinkle mix line. With hundreds of truly unique products, they are a one stop shop for your next party!

Prize #6 Torani 

Torani is giving one winner a year supply of Torani: 12-750ml glass bottles, flavors will be winner’s choice, plus pumps for each bottle.

Torani inspires you to taste life, one flavorful experience at a time. Even though people all over the world recognize our iconic Torani bottle, we’ve remained a family-owned company — adhering to the high quality standards that Rinaldo and Ezilda set over 90 years ago. Each and every syrup, sauce, and smoothie is created with care and pride. Way back we started with just five syrups. Today, you can use more than 100 of our naturally flavored syrups, sauces and beverage bases in coffees, sodas, teas, smoothies, cocktails and more. And we’re excited to bring you new taste traditions and flavors as we move forward.

You can enter to win all of those fabulous prizes here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

#ChristmasSweetsWeek recipes:

Beverages:

Brownie Batter Hot Chocolate Mix from The Spiffy Cookie
Christmas Flip from Our Good Life
Easy Cranberry Orange Madras from Love and Confections
Glogg from Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Grinch Cocoa with Peppermint Marshmallows from Kate’s Recipe Box
Salted Caramel Toffee Martini from Family Around the Table
Sparkling Snowfall Cocktail from Seduction in the Kitchen
Sugar Cookie Martini from The Redhead Baker

Breakfast:

Christmas Cranberry Bread from Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
Easy Cinnamon Roll Christmas Tree from Jonesin’ For Taste
Overnight Caramel French Toast from Rants From My Crazy Kitchen

Candies:

Cherry Mash Truffles from Strawberry Blondie Kitchen
Chocolate Covered Orange Cheesecake Truffles from Cooking with Carlee
Dark Chocolate Cherry & Peppermint Snowflake Bark from Sweet Beginnings
Grinch Fudge Topped Brownies from Big Bear’s Wife
Pineapple Upside Down Cake Fudge from Lady Behind the Curtain
Red Velvet Fudge from Live Love Texas

Desserts:

Black Forest Tiramisu Parfait from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
Chocolate Bundt Cake from Juggling Act Mama
Chocolate Eggnog Cupcakes from The Crumby Kitchen
Christmas Chocolate Chip Sprinkles Butter Cookies from Moore or Less Cooking
Cookie Butter Pudding Cups from The Beard and The Baker
Cranberry Almond Ecstasy Bars from Tip Garden
Date Filled Cookies from Platter Talk
Easy Snickerdoodle Cake from Daily Dish Recipes
Eggnog Blossom Cookies from Blogghetti
Eggnog cookies from Karen’s Kitchen Stories
Gingerbread Cheesecake Trifle from My Suburban Kitchen
Gingerbread Cupcakes with Eggnog Buttercream from Tara’s Multicultural Table
Glazed Gingerbread Loaf from 4 Sons ‘R’ Us
Marbled Star Cookies from Eat Move Make
Mint Chip Cookies from The Mandatory Mooch
No Bake Peppermint Eggnog Pie from Who Needs A Cape?
Peppermint Shortbread from Cheese Curd in Paradise
Pepper Jelly Rugelach from Take Two Tapas
Red Velvet Whoopie Pies from April Golightly
Sugar Cookie Cheesecake from Cookie Dough and Oven Mitt
Toffee Thumbprint Cookies from The Bitter Side of Sweet
Ugly Sweater Cake from Mildly Meandering
Vanilla Yogurt Mousse with Cinnamon Apples from With Two Spoons
Vegan Hot Chocolate Layer Cake from The Baking Fairy
Winter Wonderland Snack Mix from An Affair from the Heart

This Grinch Cocoa is an easy treat that packs a big bunch of fun. Thanks to a little food coloring, this vanilla cocoa looks delightfully Grinch-y. And, of course, you need his heart to complete the look. These peppermint marshmallows cut with a heart-shaped cookie cutters are the perfect accompaniment! (And yes, I totally cut them in three sizes!)

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You’ll want to whip up the marshmallows in advance for this cocoa – but the good news is they can be made up to three weeks ahead of time. That means you can make them today and they’ll still be awesome for Christmas!

The cocoa itself is quick and easy – only about a 10 minute time investment. With the marshmallows made ahead, this is an easy treat to whip up during a party or while baking cookies.

Grinch Cocoa 1

The Torani vanilla syrup adds just the right sweetness and flavor to the cocoa, and the marshmallows melt in to create a fantastic peppermint layer on the top. And these mugs from JoyJolt show off the fun colors perfectly!

This is a drink you’ll definitely want to add to your holiday list!

Grinch Cocoa 2

Grinch Cocoa with Peppermint Marshmallows
(adapted from Big Bear’s Wife and Beantown Baker)
Serves 8

For the marshmallows:
3 pkgs. unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water, divided
12 oz. sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. peppermint extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Nonstick spray
Red food coloring

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the gelatin. Pour 1/2 cup of cold water over.

Spray a 9×13″ pan with nonstick spray. In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar and cornstarch. Dust the sprayed pan, making sure everything is covered. Tap excess into a bowl.

In a small saucepan, mix together remaining water, 12 oz. sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Cover, and cook over medium-high heat for 4 minutes. Uncover, and place a candy thermometer into the pot. When the mixture reaches 240 degrees, remove from heat immediately.

Using the whisk attachment on the stand mixer, slowly pour the cooked sugar mixture into the gelatin while mixing on low speed. When all added, increase the speed to high and beat for 12-15 minutes, until thick and lukewarm.

During the last minute, add in the extract and food coloring.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Spread out evenly and dust the top with the reserved sugar and cornstarch mixture. Let sit uncovered for at least 4 hours.

Turn out onto a cutting board and cut into hearts using a cookie cutter. Dust all sides with remaining powdered sugar and cornstarch.

Finished marshmallows can be stored in an airtight container for up to three weeks.

For the cocoa:
6 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
16 oz. chopped white chocolate
6 Tbsp. Torani Vanilla Syrup
Green food coloring

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk, heavy cream and white chocolate, stirring often, until the white chocolate is melted and fully incorporated. Stir in the Torani Vanilla Syrup. Add food coloring until desired color is reached.

Serve topped with peppermint marshmallows.

Grinch Cocoa

Thank you ChristmasSweetsWeek Sponsors: Dixie Crystals, Cabot Cheese, Lorann Oils & Flavors, Torani, Joyjolt, and Sweets & Treats Boutique for providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for ChristmasSweetsWeek recipes. All opinions are my own. The ChristmasSweetsWeek giveaway is open to U.S. residents, age 18 & up. All entries for the winner will be checked and verified. By entering you give the right to use your name and likeness. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. Six (6) winners will be selected. The prize packages will be sent directly from the giveaway sponsors. The ChristmasSweetsWeek Bloggers are not responsible for the fulfillment or delivery of the prize packages. Bloggers hosting this giveaway and their immediate family members in their household cannot enter or win the giveaway. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or any other social channel mentioned in the ChristmasSweetsWeek posts or entry.

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Cranberry Pear Mocktail Mules

I received complimentary products in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own.

You know what I realized this week? For the last five Thanksgivings, I’ve been nursing or pregnant (or both). Five. In a row.

Cranberry Pear Mock Mules

Suffice it to say things have swung in the opposite direction this year and it’s making me obsess over the perfect Thanksgiving cocktail. But, as a woman who has (very recently) been there, I know I want to have a mocktail on the menu too – not only for pregnant and/or nursing crowd but also for the designated drivers, kids, and people who would just rather not have the alcohol.

This Cranberry Pear Mocktail Mule is a non-alcoholic take on a Moscow Mule with a seasonal twist. I love the way the sweetness of the pear nectar plays off the tartness of the cranberries – and then you get the bite from the ginger beer at the end! Despite being a non-alcoholic, this drink feels celebratory!

Cranberry Pear Mock Mules 3

These gorgeous copper mugs are from Moscow Muled. All of their mugs are handmade (hand hammered!) and lined with high-grade nickle to prevent the copper from reacting with your drink. They’re truly works of art and perfect for your holiday drinks!

Cranberry Pear Mock Mule 4

Cranberry Pear Mocktail Mules
(a Kate’s Recipe Box original)
Serves 2

2/3 cup pear nectar
2/3 cup sparkling cranberry-apple juice
1 bottle ginger beer
Ice
Pear slices
Fresh cranberries

Fill the mugs halfway with ice. Stir together pear nectar and cranberry-apple juice. Divide between two mugs. Top off each with ginger beer. Garnish with pear slices and cranberries.

Fresh Corn Salsa (12)

Shrunken Head Punch

We are in full Halloween mode here: decorations are up, costumes are in progress, treats have been purchased. And something I’m extra excited about this year: we’re having a trick-or treat party.

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Every year while growing up, our house was home base for trick or treating friends. We’d all meet up there, my parents would order lots of pizza, and we’d spend Halloween coming and going and eating too much candy.  This year, we’re having some friends over to do the same thing with our kids, and I’m totally geeking out about it.

If you’re hosting a trick or treat party – or other Halloween party – this is the perfect spooky drink to make. Leave it virgin for the kids, or spike it up with caramel vodka, vanilla vodka, or Fireball for the adults.  You can make the apples ahead and mix up the punch in less than five minutes when you’re ready for it.

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Carving the shrunken apple heads is the most difficult part of this, but the beauty is it’s Halloween – they can be perfectly imperfect. You can also make the faces to match the crowd – scarier faces for an older crowd while silly faces would be perfect for a preschool gathering.

We had a lot of fun with this – the kids especially got a kick out of “the faces floating in there”!

ShrunkenHeadPunch1

Shrunken Head Punch
(a Kate’s Recipe Box original)
Serves 12

3-4 apples
1/4 cup lemon juice

6 cups apple cider
1 1/2 cups pear nectar
4 1/2 cups ginger ale

Optional: Vanilla vodka, caramel vodka, or Fireball, to taste

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Working with one apple at a time, peel and core the apples, then cut in half. Using a paring knife or other tool, carve faces into the apple halves and dunk in the lemon juice.

Lay the carved apples on a rack over a baking sheet. When they are all carved, transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 1-2 hours, until the apples appear shrunken. Remove from the oven and cool.

Combine the apple cider, pear nectar, and ginger ale in a punch bowl or large pitcher. Add the cooled apple heads, and alcohol, if desired.

Fresh Corn Salsa

Looking for more Halloween inspiration? Here you go! And check back on Thursday when we’ll have another round of Halloween goodies ready for you!

Roasted Peach Lemonade #farmersmarketweek

I’ve been waxing nostalgic lately about the summer before my senior year of college. I think a lot of it has to do with how easy life was then. I had cobbled together a few cushy jobs on campus – web design, the library – that were enough to pay my bills, but leave me with long weekends. I binge watched Sex and the City for the first time. Mark and I took our first real summer vacation. It was just a really laid-back time.

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And why have I been thinking about that summer? Because things here have been absolute chaos for months. I was overly hopeful that things would calm down once we’re in the new house, but the universe just laughed at that. I’ll be spending this afternoon home while the plumber fixes a leak from the kids’ bathtub (which involved cutting out the ceiling below it). And calling roofers, because the roof is leaking too. And did I mention I have a bubble in my tire that needs fixing? Of course, these are only the urgent things that have popped up in the last few days — the entire to do list is SO much longer.

But, back to that easygoing summer. One of the highlights was the fruit lemonades they served at the campus café. I randomly thought of their peach lemonade the other day, and decided I needed it asap.

This is a great recreation. Roasting the peaches brings out such a great flavor for really no effort. It’s the perfect addition for a barbecue or summer brunch!

Roasted Peach Lemonade

Roasted Peach Lemonade
(adapted from The Naptime Chef)
Makes about 4 cups

2 large peaches, halved and pitted
1 tsp. sugar
4 cups of your favorite lemonade

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with foil and place the peaches on skin-side down. Sprinkle the tops with sugar. Roast for 25 minutes.

Let them cool for a minute or two, then peel them (you should be able to easily pinch the skin off after roasting. Add the peaches to a food processor or blender, along with 1/4 cup lemonade. Blend until smooth and frothy. Stir into the remaining lemonade and serve.

Roasted Peach

#farmersmarketweek wraps up today! Here’s our grand finale:

Friday #FarmersMarketWeek Recipes

 

Strawberry Lemon Sun Tea

My first semester of college, I had a really mothering professor. She taught us how to take the train to Philadelphia. She clued us in on the best places to eat on campus. And she offered to bring us coffee to class. In one of the early classes, when I wasn’t indulging, she commented that if I could make it through college without developing a coffee habit, I’d probably never drink it.

She was right, so far. I’m really not a coffee person.

Or, tea. Unless it’s iced and fruited up, like this one. This is a perfect summer tea.

StrawberryLemonSunTea

Strawberry Lemon Sun Tea
(from Wonky Wonderful)
Serves 2-3

2 lemons
1 cup strawberries, halved
3 Tea bags
Water

Into a 24 oz. jar, juice one of the lemons. Slice the other lemon and add it to the jar along with the strawberries. Add the tea bags and fill the jar with water.

Sit in the sun for 2-3 hours, then remove the tea bags and chill. Serve over ice.

Homemade “Tru Blood”

I am so, so excited that True Blood is back. I’m a bit of a fangirl when it comes to this show. I have several True Blood tshirts and other trinkets – and got the True Blood cookbook for Christmas. Since the show takes place in the south, it’s full of classic Southern dishes. There are also a lot of cocktail recipes, as a lot of the characters work in or regularly frequent bars – and these are a lot of fun to make while watching the show.

A lot of the drinks include Tru Blood as an ingredient. HBO used to sell it – it was a specially bottled blood orange flavored soda – but it’s been discontinued. Instead, they included a recipe in the cookbook so you could make your own. It’s a little sweet to drink straight, but it’s perfect as a cocktail mixer!

TruBlood

Homemade “Tru Blood”
(from True Blood: Eats Drinks and Bites from Bon Temps)
Makes 2 1/2 cups

2 c. orange soda
3/4 c. grenadine
1/4 c. lemon juice

Mix all ingredients together in a pitcher and stir to combine before serving.

Make it Yourself Monday: Shamrock Shakes

For me, Shamrock Shakes appearing at McDonald’s are a sign that spring is coming. By the time you hit St. Patrick’s Day, the weather around here is starting to get decent again. And by decent, I mean you probably won’t need the scarf, gloves, hat AND your car warmed up so you don’t freeze on the way to work. I’ve grabbed two so far this season and have sipped them happily dreaming of warmer weather.

Of course, Friday morning we woke up to some unexpected snow – total buzz kill. I decided another dose of the minty goodness was what I needed to shake the snow blues. Luckily, these are ridiculously easy to whip up yourself at home.

I used low-fat ice cream and low-fat milk to keep these slightly healthier and it didn’t feel like I was missing calories at all. I also opted for the more generic mint extract over peppermint extract, which a lot of the Shamrock Shake recipes call for. I think the flavor of the mint extract is closer to what you get at McDonald’s. Add on some whipped cream, a cherry and a green straw and you’ve got a perfectly festive treat.

ShamrockShakes

Shamrock Shake
(adapted from Number 2 Pencil)
Makes 1 Shake

1 1/4 c. vanilla ice cream
1/4 t. vanilla extract
2-3 drops mint extract
1/4 c. milk (plus additional if needed to thin the shake)
1 T. sugar
2-3 drops green food coloring
Whipped cream and cherry, for garnish

In a blender, combine the ice cream, vanilla extract, mint extract, milk, sugar and green food coloring. Blend until smooth. If too thick, blend in a little more milk until the desired consistency is reached.

Top with whipped cream and a cherry.

DIY Hot Chocolate Mix

I’m not a coffee drinker. Or a tea drinker. Hot chocolate, though, I could drink by the gallon. I keep some in my desk at work and always have some in the house – even in the summer months. We could seriously go broke on cocoa mix.

Last year for Christmas, I made this mix for family members, and fell in love with it. It’s a great gift, or just great to have in your pantry.

DIYHotChocolate

DIY Hot Chocolate Mix
(from Brown Eyed Baker)
Makes approx. 20 servings

3 c. nonfat dry milk powder
2 c. powdered sugar
1 1/2  c. cocoa powder
1 1/2 c. white chocolate chips
1/4 t. salt

Whisk all ingredients together and then, working in batches, pulse in a food processor until everything in finely ground and well combined. Store in an air-tight container for up to three months.

To prepare: Mix 1/3 c. hot chocolate mix with 1 c. hot milk.

Strawberry Lemonade

Have you ever been on a college campus during the summer? They have a secret they don’t want the students to know: the food is much better in the summer. Seriously.

I worked on campus the summer before my senior year and was shocked the first day I walked into the student center food court and found a completely different menu. I was quite disappointed when the fall semester rolled around and the fresh salads and sliced steak sandwiches once again became chicken fingers and burgers.

One of the things they served that summer was fresh lemonade with fruit puree – a different fruit every day. The strawberry was my favorite. Even if I wasn’t planning to buy lunch, I’d stop down to make sure I wasn’t missing out on the strawberry lemonade.

This is a dead-ringer for my favorite drink of that summer. I’m not sure there’s anything better.

Strawberry Lemonade
(slightly adapted from My Baking Addiction)
Makes approximately 6-8 cups

1 c. sugar
1 c. of water
1 pint fresh strawberries
1 c. fresh lemon juice (approximately 8 lemons)
4-6 c. cold water (depending on your taste)

Make a simple syrup by combining the sugar with 1 cup of water in a saucepan. Place over medium heat and heat until the sugar in completely dissolved; swirl the pan occasionally. Let cool.

Once the simple syrup has cooled, puree strawberries in a blender with 1/2 cup water.

In a large pitcher, combine strawberry puree, simple syrup and lemon juice. If using the vodka, add it to the pitcher and stir to combine.

Add 4-6 cups of cold water. The amount of water you use will depend on your taste, so add as little or as much as you want to achieve your perfect sweet/tart balance. Serve over ice.

Watermelon Agua Fresca

A few weeks ago, we had a housewarming party to finally show off our now one-year-old house.  I had planned a slew of food, including watermelon with dessert. My plan was to cut up the watermelon right before dessert but in the hubbub of everything I completely forgot about it.

When we remembered it later we thought, oh well, we’ll just eat it ourselves. Clearly, we didn’t realize how much watermelon we had. After a few days of eating it with breakfast or lunch we were getting sick of it so I decided I needed to jazz things up a bit. 

Mark’s a big fan of juice so I knew this would go over well. It was light and refreshing – really a perfect summer drink. In the mood for a summer cocktail? It’s great with vodka.

Watermelon Agua Fresca
(slightly adapted from Chef In You)
Makes approx. 1 liter

1/2 large watermelon, seeded and cubed
1 1/2 c. water
3 T. agave nectar

In batches, use a blender or food processor to blend the watermelon and water. Filter using a fine strainer to remove any watermelon pulp. Stir in agave nectar. Serve well chilled.