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“Mug’o’cocoa” brownies

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Here is a fun spin on a yummy Christmas treat.

To make this I used boxed brownie mix, but instead of water I added a little bit of peppermint cream (you can make this by throwing heavy cream and peppermint extract or finely chopped candy cane bits into your blender and mixing until smooth). The frosting i just a plain butter cream I made with a little bit of the peppermint cream for flavor. The handle of the mug is simply the top of a candy cane broken off and stuck in the side. I threw a peppermint kiss, two marshmallows, and some mint cocoa mix on top for decoration – but you can get very creative 🙂

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Canning creativity

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This is a great time of year to get into canning!  With the winter months coming up, many of your favorite fruits and vegetables will be harder to find in their prime states or for good prices!  Canning things like apricots, green beans, nectarines, plums, raspberries, etc… (see http://snap.nal.usda.gov/resource-library/summer-sizzlers/whats-available-summer)

Canning will keep those fresh tastes so you can fabulous nectarines in late winter.  I like the Ball canning jars for canning my creativity.  Some of my favorite canning practices are  nectarines stored in brown sugar and bourbon (always a tasty treat).  Blueberries in raspberry syrup (and vice versa) and raspberries stored in honey make excellent desert or breakfast toppers.  There is an amazing book called ‘Food in Jars‘ which I highly recommend if you are new to canning or need some guidance.  You can also save a bundle at the grocery store by making your own jams, sauces, canned fruits/veggies, etc.  There is no end as to how creative you can get with it too.  If you know you have a party coming up in a few months (or for big holidays like thanksgiving) you can give some of your appetizers/entree’s a real kick with your creative canned concoctions.  Another great thing about canning, is you can turn it into a party.  Have a canning party where everyone brings some of their favorite farmers market finds!  Have a variety of fresh herbs, juices, spices, etc on hand to allow people to get creative with their canning process.  Print off some cute tags on white computer paper, cut them out, and have them available with twine or string so people can label their jars!  this will be an easy party because you have the entertainment there, and all sorts of yummy food to snack on as you can!  If you don’t want to get messy, you could even keep it as simple as a canning exchange party if you know a few other people that can.  Set up the table with just a few small bowls and plates, colorful napkins and a few candles or fresh flowers for some pizazz.  Have everyone bring a few of their original canned products and have an exchange!  You can have a small tasting party too for those that want to show off their creativity!

Buy guide:

Food in Jars: http://www.amazon.com/Food-Jars-Preserving-Batches-Year-Round/dp/0762441437/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1378401804&sr=8-1&keywords=food+in+jars

Canning Jars: http://www.amazon.com/Ball%C2%AE-Regular-Bands–Jarden-Brands/dp/B004YVOS0Y/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1378401870&sr=8-7&keywords=Canning

Jar labels: http://www.amazon.com/Ball%C2%AE-Dissolvable-Labels-Jarden-Brands/dp/B004NGVIIK/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1378402702&sr=8-7&keywords=labels