Do you want to build a snowman-pop?

build a snowman craft/treat for kids - via milissweets.com

If there is ever a moment during a kid’s winter break, when they need a little something to do and enjoy, I have an idea. I came up with a super-cute and super easy craft that kids love – to build and eat their own edible snowman-pop. It’s a craft and a snack and you can guarantee a “nailed it” every time.

I have taught art class for a number of years, as a docent for my children’s school. I absolutely love being with the kids and seeing what they accomplish through art. Sometimes I give them a challenging project or a more challenging medium, so that they can discover how awesome they are at something new. Love and encouragement to set the tone, can really help to build a child’s confidence. If they are already confident, they will find this fun and memorable.

This school year, I didn’t sign up to be an art docent, but I did sign up to be a room parent. For our Christmas party before school let out, I tried this craft. The 7-8 year old second graders absolutely loved this! The bigger kids in my world loved this one too. Let’s give it a whirl!

“Do You Want To Build A Snowman-Pop”

Here’s what you’ll need:

a straw – plastic or paper

1 large marshmallow

1 small/standard size marshmallow

2 pretzel sticks

plastic sandwich bag

chocolate ganache, prepared

other tools: scissors, teaspoon, rubber band

Here’s what you’ll do:

First, you’ll want to have the ganache prepared. I had some in the fridge/on hand, so all I had to do was microwave scoops of it for 10 seconds at a time, until I achieved a flow-consistency. If you are making a chocolate ganache recipe from scratch, then you’ll want to allow it to cool to warm or room temperature.

Next, it’s time to prepare the world’s smallest piping bag. It needs to be small, in case you have a hungry or ultra messy child on your hands. A little goes a long way and the only way that they can turn their snack into art, is by allowing for a very small amount of the chocolate to come through at the corner of the bag. I’ll show you how.

build a snowman craft/treat for kids - via milissweets.com

I had the craft all set in production-mode for the cute bunch of 2nd graders.

First, cut plastic sandwich bags in half, so that there are two corner bags. Next, place one corner bag into a small glass jar (a cup would be handy too) to hold the bag. Then spoon in about one teaspoon of chocolate ganache into each bag. Then, use a rubber band to close each bag. Small scissors are used to cut a tiny hole at the corner, but only when your crafter is ready to play.

Next, ask your little crafter to start assembling their snowman!

build a snowman craft/treat for kids - via milissweets.com

I told you this was easy and fun!

After this is done, you can slide the two pretzel sticks into the bigger, bottom marshmallow. Now it’s time to get really creative. Cut a tiny hole at the corner of the chocolate pipping bag and tell the kids to go for it.

The children were not shy and LOVED sharing their creations with me. I was really proud of them and super impressed with their creativity and piping skills! I’m glad I took a photo of some of them, since the kids made their creations disappear only moments after they were made. They were so precious!

build a snowman craft/treat for kids - via milissweets.com

xox

cranberry-orange scones for Christmas morning

Cranberry-Orange Scones for Christmas morning - recipe and how-to via milissweets.com

Cranberry-Orange is my favorite flavor combination for Christmas-time desserts. There’s something extra wonderful about fresh scones, sweet breads and biscuits this time of year. For some reason, I always seem to crave them more in the month of December.

Scones are one of my favorite treats, especially if there is a cup of coffee involved. There’s a little person at my house who confessed that she loves scones more than cupcakes. Well there you have it. We know exactly what we are having on Christmas morning!

If you’re thinking the same, well you came to the right place! I’m sharing my recipe and how-to to make them super special.

Cranberry-Orange Scones for Christmas morning - recipe and how-to via milissweets.com

I have come to find that it takes a little bit of experience with working with dough, to know when it is just-right, based on the feel of it. The recipe itself is super-simple but the handling is what matters. You don’t want to over-work it and you don’t want to over-flour it. If you haven’t made scones before, then it’s worth a little practice to get it right. You will know if you have succeeded if your dough has come together enough for you to cut it and bake it. If that’s not the case, try again and you’ll get there. I’ll be cheering you on!

Cranberry-Orange Scones, recipe by Mili’s Sweets 

Here’s what you’ll need:

3 cups all purpose flour, plus a 1/2 cup reserved flour for dusting

1/4 cup granulated sugar

5 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 and 1/2 sticks of cold salted butter (12 tablespoons), cut into pats

zest of two oranges (about 2 tablespoons)

3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice (about half of an orange)

1 and 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 cup cranberry sauce, strained for only the whole, cooked berries, or 1 cup dried cranberries

Cranberry-Orange Scones for Christmas morning - recipe and how-to via milissweets.com

Here’s what you’ll do:

First, let’s talk cranberries. They should be highlighted nicely.  No matter what, you’ll want to prepare them properly so that they are ready for the recipe. I prefer to strain the whole cranberries from my Cranberry Sauce. If you’d like to make my 10 minute recipe, I recommend omitting the apples and substituting orange juice for the water. For best results, the sauce should be chilled before you use it for scones. If you want, you can use a canned, whole berry cranberry sauce, but it won’t taste the same (of course not). If you prefer to use dried cranberries, I recommend soaking them in a bowl with water for about 20 minutes, to plump them up a bit. Either way, you’ll strain them to separate them from the liquid.

Cranberry-Reduction Glaze Recipe: You can have a nice little addition to your scone by reserving the strained liquid from the cranberry sauce (my recipe, not the canned version). Place it pan at medium heat. Once it starts to bubble at the edges, place a timer on for 10 minutes. Stir while it reduces. Once 10 minutes are up, remove from heat and allow to cool.  I used the glaze to pipe onto the top of the royal icing on the finished scone.

Cranberry-Orange Scones with (cranberry-reduction glaze) for Christmas morning - recipe and how-to via milissweets.comNow that we’re all set with the cranberries of your choice, you’ll want to prepare the orange zest and juice and set aside.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with either a silpat mat or a piece of parchment paper.

Place all of the dry ingredients, including flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, in a large bowl.

Next, add the pats of butter. Use a pastry-blender to cut the cold butter into small pieces, into the dry ingredients.

Make a small well and pour in the orange juice and buttermilk.

Use one hand to rotate the bowl around in a circle while you work. Use your other hand (I’m a lefty) to sweep your hand in from the outside edge, gently bringing the flour into the buttermilk. It will soon be incorporated. Add the orange zest and cranberries.

Cranberry-Orange Scones for Christmas morning - recipe and how-to via milissweets.com

Dust a flat, clean surface with a small handful of flour, from your 1/2 cup of reserve.

Once your dough has mostly come together in the bowl, you’ll want to handle it (gently)  to bring it together and shape it for cutting into scone pieces.

Cranberry-Orange Scones for Christmas morning - recipe and how-to via milissweets.com

Dust the top with a small handful of flour, from your 1/2 cup reserve. Bring the dough together by handling it so that all of the pieces have formed a ball. This will not take a lot of time. You just don’t want to see crumbling or coming apart. If the dough is crumbling, it needs a little more moisture. If that is the case, bring your dough back into the bowl and add a tablespoon more of juice or buttermilk to work in.

The dough should not be too wet with the ratio in this recipe, but if you see see many pockets of  wetness from the buttermilk, then first work the dough just a little more. If that still doesn’t help, give the dough another liberal dusting of flour from  your reserve.

Cranberry-Orange Scones for Christmas morning - recipe and how-to via milissweets.com

Once it’s just right, you’ll be able to stretch and bend it and pat it down into the shape you want. For scones, I make it into a narrow rectangle. Create a shape that is a little less wide than the size of scones you want. Sometimes I like to offer little scones. This time, I went big. Either way, you will want to the dough to be between one and one and a half inches in height.

Cranberry-Orange Scones for Christmas morning - recipe and how-to via milissweets.com

Use a large knife to cut through the dough to make pieces to bake. I make a pattern that creates several triangles, where the back, imperfect dough will be the back side of the scone.

Cranberry-Orange Scones for Christmas morning - recipe and how-to via milissweets.com

On the prepared cookie sheet, place the cut dough with plenty of space in a criss-cross pattern.They will expand while baking and it’s best that they do not touch. On a typical cookie sheet, I was able to bake 8 at one time.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the scones are golden brown and cooked-through. A good test to see if they are ready is to look at the bottom (kind of like a cookie). Take a spatula that has peek-holes. Lift the scone from the cookie sheet and peek under it. If it is consistently golden brown, your sones have finished baking.

Cranberry-Orange Scones for Christmas morning - recipe and how-to via milissweets.com

Allow to cool completely. Maybe you like them just like this. If that’s the case, you case done!

If you need a little more sweetness and beauty, then I have some ideas for finishing them off.

I love adding sweetness onto the scone, since the pastry itself is not very sweet. I love a good drizzling of royal icing to start. To see my same classic recipe paired with Gingerbread Cookies or iced Shortbread Cookies, please go to my recipe links.

Cranberry-Orange Scones for Christmas morning - recipe and how-to via milissweets.com

I drizzled on royal icing so that most of the top of the scone was completely coated.

I took a small piping bag and used the Cranberry Reduction Glaze (that had already cooled at room temperature) and made a little flower pattern at the top. At the center, is a whole cranberry, taken from the strained cranberry sauce. I used white, coarse sprinkle-sugar to completely coat the berry and place it on top. I also sprinkled a little more of the lovely sugar at the top, before the royal icing set.

Cranberry-Orange Scones for Christmas morning - recipe and how-to via milissweets.comThe inside of the scone is tender, buttery and flavorful. The outside has a nice bite, with the perfect amount of sweetness and the added flavor of cranberry with the glaze and yummy sugar-coated fruit.

I love this treat and can’t wait to make Cranberry-Orange Scones at least a few times before saying goodbye to the Christmas season.

Hope you can make these! If you do, please let me know how it goes!

xox

 

 

[…] Link to: Mili’s Cranberry-Orange Scone Recipe […]

family desserts at the wedding

family desserts at the wedding, via milissweets.com

Several months ago, my friend asked if I’d cater and set the desserts for her son’s wedding. I said yes. Since Mili’s Sweets became a retail business almost a year ago, working as the bakery inside MiaBella, I have had to let go of the catering portion of my business so I just can’t do both and maintain a balanced life, but I work it out to say yes to close friends a couple of times a year.

Anna was helping to throw a big, beautiful reception at The Santaluz Club. I was so honored and excited to make everything she wished for come true, inside the tented area, placed just outside this gorgeous restaurant.

family desserts at the wedding, via milissweets.com

She ordered a tiered cake from Jenny Wenny (I made room for it on the tables. It’s not shown because I finished my work before it arrived.) and I filled in all of the blanks to feed the more than 200 guests and add to what her mother and sister in law were making for the wedding. There would be many, many, many (you get the point) Italian cookies, made by hand and at home by these two wonderful ladies. We really wanted to be respectful and honor them at the dessert tables, so besides catering, I also set everything with my own plating and labeled the items so that they can receive their due credit.

family desserts at the wedding, via milissweets.com

The cookies were lovely and I’m sure enjoyed by the family and friends in attendance! Many of them looked similar to cookies that I had as a child. Some of the cookies had almonds but I didn’t mind plating them since she is my friend sand I could clean all of my items at home.

Now for what I made. I filled my glass cylinders and apothecary jars with her items and some candy. One thing I made for the jars were chocolate-dipped pretzels.

family desserts at the wedding, via milissweets.com

The funny thing about this day and the whole situation of setting the tables, was that it was incredibly hot and humid in the tent and the chocolate did want to melt. I felt like I was melting! To top it off, I had to wait to set the tables since they were not prepared for me when I arrived, so that created a little unorganized situation that made the job take longer. No matter what, the job will always get done. Thankfully, I had my daughter with me to help.

family desserts at the wedding, via milissweets.com

The bride wanted cupcakes, but she wanted the frosting to be very low-profile and have a different look than my typical frosting technique, which is tall and generous. One you-tube video later, I figured out how to frost in a style that she preferred, and added a touch of edible pearls. On her menu were Italia, Perfectly Pineapple and Espresso Chip.

family desserts at the wedding, via milissweets.com

Alongside these cupcakes, I stacked the vanilla biscotti that I made and half-dipped into chocolate. I could eat one of these each and every day, if only my jeans would let me!

family desserts at the wedding, via milissweets.com

I added more chocolate to my menu of offerings since I knew that the treats that they would offer would not be chocolate. I also wanted to take care of any gluten free guests, so I offered decadent, flourless brownies. For my recipe, please see my post: heaven by flourless chocolate cake.

family desserts at the wedding, via milissweets.com

My very favorite item that I prepared for the wedding, were the cannoli. I am in love with this dessert! I think that they are so beautiful too. They are tedious and time consuming to make since the pizzelle on the iron press come out very hot and you can only roll them while they are hot. My finger tips were tender for a whole day after rolling this order. It was totally worth it and makes my baker-fingers even stronger!

family desserts at the wedding, via milissweets.comMy sweetheart of a daughter took the camera to snap some shots of the table while I organized our things to head home from our job of setting. She snapped this photo of me with the desserts. It was nice for my daughter to be behind the camera this time.

This was a lot of work but it was a wonderful feeling to be trusted by my friend to make it happen. I always feel so honored and grateful when I can accomplish my work.

xox

Glenny - November 2, 2015 - 9:28 am

You are amazing

let’s get out there make something

This week has been pretty incredible, as I’ve witnessed many young girls and women around with some of the same struggles as I have had in the past, with perfection and courage. Some of us have an issue with making mistakes in front of peers. We don’t have the confidence to just go for what we want to do, even if it means we’ll fail or make mistakes the first few times or the first 100 times.

I want to share with my friends out there, what I am now telling my own daughter and anyone I run into. Just go for it! You have nothing to lose! Take a leap of faith and just have the courage to do it because you love it.

Love and passion for your work or anything you want to achieve will take you anywhere you want to go. If you have faith in the process, you have solid ground. Love really is the driving force behind good things. Without it, we’re just robots. Without it, there’s no point in what we’re doing here or anywhere.

Without love and passion, you aren’t going to care about having courage to do what you really want to do in life. By looking around at what everyone else is doing or looking like, you are only hurting yourself.

One of my many personal examples is making cakes. Oh my goodness, years ago, when I was a new, young mom, I wanted so badly to make beautiful and delicious cakes for my family. Guess what? I was terrible at it. However, my love and passion was not terrible. I had the courage and determination to just keep at it, because I really wanted to. It was for my own personal enrichment and joy to do it and my motivation was to give that joy to others. After too many attempts to count and a whole lot of good intentions later, a beautiful and delicious cake was finally made. The cherry on top, is that it’s not by anyone else’s standards but my own. It’s my gift to share. I really do believe each of us have very special gifts that we need to unwrap and discover. We just have to get out there and live in our own package.

A woman came up to me at the store just yesterday and said, “I’ve never seen a 25 pound bag of sugar! What are you making? Are you a baker?” That started a conversation. She said she has always wanted to start an event business of her own, but that she’s scared to go for it. I told her, what have you got to lose?! Have faith and just go for it! If she had enough faith to have seven beautiful children and drop them off to school every day, she can sure enough have the faith to just do what she wants to do on the side. You are in control to live your life and love your life. Take it one step at a time and then one day at a time. As long as there is love and passion in it, you’ll find joy and a good use of your time for just trying.

My daughter loves to swim. She is now on a swim team, which is a dream that we were finally able to make happen for her. When she was first on the block, learning to dive in, she just couldn’t get herself to take the plunge, literally and figuratively. I knew what she was feeling in her heart. She didn’t want to be judged in front of her peers for not doing it perfectly. Guess what?! You’re going to belly flop at first! You’ll just have to keep getting out and back into the water, if you want to fulfill your personal goals! Everyone who matters is cheering for you! Say a little prayer, give it to God and just go for it! TAKE THE PLUNGE!

With that, I’m leaving it to St. Teresa of Avila. She has so many awesome words of encouragement and inspiration and today is her Feast Day. Leave it to her to break it down for us: “One who makes no mistakes, makes nothing.”

Let’s all promise to get out there and make something!

get out there and make something

game-day popcorn buffet

Game-Day Popcorn Buffet, recipes via milissweets.com

Here’s an awesome snack idea for Game Day this football season: set up a party-style, popcorn buffet. I have four recipes to share to make it fun and super special, and you may want to save this idea for your parties in the future.

First, you need to know how to make perfectly popped popcorn on the stovetop. Do yourself a favor and make it from scratch. You’ll be glad you did. It’s kind of my philosophy when making all things. Like cake for example: a boxed recipe can still taste pretty good, but in all ways, it’s just not as good as making it from scratch.

perfectly popped, stove-top popcorn, recipes on milissweets.com

Mili’s Sweets Perfectly Popped Popcorn Recipe

Here’s what you’ll need:

3 tablespoons of canola oil or grape seed oil

1/3 cup corn kernels

Tools: stopwatch, pot, oven mit

Here’s what you’ll do:

For every 1/3 cup of kernels, use 3 tablespoons of oil. In my 10 quart pot, doubling this is the perfect amount, for an even distribution at the bottom. Therefore, I use 2/3 cup kernels and 6 tablespoons of oil.

Both oils are good and perfect for popcorn popping, since they burn nicely at high heat. I’ll explain how to work with each one.

how to make perfectly popped, stovetop popcorn, recipe on milissweets.com

First, measure your kernels and oil and place them in a cold pot. Move the ingredients around to completely and evenly cover the bottom.

Next, place the pot on the stovetop and set to medium-high heat. Set your stop watch to start. When 3 minutes are up (when using canola oil) you’re oil is ready. When 4 minutes are up (when using grape seed oil) your oil is ready, and at least one kernel will be popped.

At the moment you see a single kernel popped, (when the 3 or 4 minutes are up) cover the pot with a lid. Reset your stopwatch. Move the pot back and forth, over the medium-high heat. Once your stopwatch reads 3 minutes, remove it from the heat. You’re done.

There you have it! Perfectly-popped popcorn, with no burn, in 6 minutes. I love this recipe since it’s easy to remember with all of the 3s: 3 tablespoons of oil, 1/3 cup kernels, three minutes to heat, three minutes to pop. Perfect! xox

It’s always fun to offer a variety of flavors. Below are a few recipe ideas. I’m going to share how to make “Chocolate Caramel Pretzel,” “Caramel Corn,” “Cracked Pepper” and “Kids at the Movies.” Each flavor is great, but if your home is like mine, the caramel corn will be the first to disappear!

photoGame-Day Popcorn Buffet, recipes via milissweets.com

Mili’s Sweets Caramel Corn Recipe

Here’s what you’ll need: 

8 cups popped popcorn

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

10 standard sized marshmallows

kosher salt, to-taste

how to make caramel corn. Game Day Popcorn buffet recipes on milissweets.com

Here’s what you’ll do:

While stirring constantly, melt the butter and brown sugar in a non-stick pan, at medium heat.

Place the marshmallows and continue to stir. Allow the marshmallows to break down and melt.

Pour the mixture over the popped popcorn and mix with a spoon.

Place in a serving bowl, sprinkle with salt to taste and serve. This is a more sticky, pull-apart snack. It’s the only popcorn flavor recipe I’m sharing where a scooper can’t be used when serving.

This week in the shop, I came up with a very good use for caramel corn. My FunFriday cupcake flavor was Carnival Caramel Corn!

carnival caramel corn cupcake by Mili

Mili’s Sweets Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Popcorn Recipe 

Here’s what you’ll need:

8 cups popped popcorn

1 cup chocolate covered pretzels

1/4 cup prepared caramel (I sometimes use my homemade version. This time I used Mrs. Richardson’s Butterscotch Caramel Topping.)

kosher salt, to taste

how to make chocolate-caramel-pretzel popcorn. Game-Day Popcorn buffet recipes via milissweets.com

Here’s what you’ll do:

In a non-stick pan, on medium heat, place the caramel and heat until it simmers.

Pour the warm caramel on top of the pretzels and popcorn. Mix with a spoon. Some of the chocolate on the pretzels will melt onto the popcorn. That’s what you want! If you want the end-result to be more beautiful, remove the melted pretzels and replace with fresh ones. Sprinkle with salt to taste and serve.

Mili’s Sweets Cracked Pepper Popcorn Recipe

This is the easiest and the healthiest! Honestly, I can enjoy this popcorn, plain and unsalted. To but to kick up the flavor, I like adding freshly cracked pepper, using a pepper mill. Sprinkle kosher salt to taste, and you’re done. It’s super simple and amazingly delicious, especially when the popcorn is fresh and warm.

Mili’s Sweets Kids at the Movies Popcorn Recipe

This is all about my kids. Whenever we go to the movie theatre, our tradition is for the kids have a box-tray on their lap. I give a portion of popcorn and sprinkle onchocolate covered raisins and sour candies. They love the combination of sweet, salty, chocolatey and sour. It’s a no-brainer for kids of all ages.

game day popcorn buffet, recipes by Mili

So there you have it! I’m sure you can think of 100 other different flavor combinations for freshly-popped popcorn, but this is a nice start. I hope these easy-breezy recipes make for lots of fun at home.

Take care and enjoy.

xox

a happy halloween » Mili's Sweets - October 29, 2014 - 10:21 am

[…] My husband and kids love candy corn, so I always make a point to have some in the house around fall. I couldn’t resist adding them into the desserts. One of their favorite treats at the dessert table were the candy corn popcorn balls. […]