Peppermint Marshmallows With Nutella Hot Chocolate

12.18.2014

This is absolutely the most delicious thing I have ever made. I promise I am not just saying that to be gushy. My vanilla buttercream sprinkled cake stirred some intense feelings of euphoria, but these homemade peppermint marshmallows with Nutella hot chocolate are outshining all of the other desserts I have yet to make.

If we are speaking in second grade lingo, I love these marshmallows so much I would marry them if Matt hadn't come around first. Is that weird I have borderline romantic feelings for food? Perhaps there is an underlying psychological issue at hand here? Whatever, I am just going to inhale all of these and then open up my own marshmallow shop, because it may just be my calling in life.

Enough of me rambling about sugar and gelatin. Let's get down to business, so you can start your own love affair with this perfect holiday treat.



Homemade Peppermint Marshmallows
Yields 25 gigantic marshmallows
Total cook time: 8 hours
(Adapted from this recipe)

Ingredients:

Butter to grease pan
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup cold water
1/3 cup gelatin (5 packets)
3 cups granulated sugar
2 cups light corn syrup (or 1 cup light colored honey for healthier option*)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
5-6 drops peppermint essential oil
6-8 drops red food coloring

Directions:

1. Grease an 8x8 glass baking dish with the butter and then sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar so it is covering the dish. In a large mixing bowl, mix 1/3 cup of gelatin over 1 cup of cold water and set aside.

2. In a large saucepan, combine granulated sugar, corn syrup (or honey), salt, and water. Stir this mixture on medium-low heat until all the sugar has dissolved, and then bring it to a boil. Once it is boiling, turn it down to medium-high heat and don't stir until it reaches 240°F. Or if you don't have a candy thermometer, cook it until the mixture turns into a pliable, gel-like ball when placed in cold water. (That is how I always test it. You will know your mixture is getting to the correct temperature because the bubbles start getting viscous and are slow to pop.)

*If you decide to make your marshmallows with honey, be aware that honey tends to burn more quickly and will harden very easily, so make sure you are keeping a watchful eye! I made a batch with honey and one with corn syrup, and I do have to say the corn syrup is a little more forgiving, and gives fluffier, lighter marshmallows.

3. Pour the syrup gently into the gelatin and begin by mixing on low speed for about 5 minutes. Once it starts to thicken, add in your peppermint essential oil and food coloring. Turn the speed up to high until it has doubled in size and becomes thick. Pour into the baking dish and allow it to set for 8 hours or overnight.



4. Once the marshmallow has set, dust a cutting board or pan with powdered sugar and gently pull the marshmallow mold out. Cut five, 1 1/2 inch wide rows with a pizza cutter until you have 25 marshmallows. Dust all of the sticky sides in powdered sugar. And voilà! You have the most delicious treat in the world. Store in a cute jar or container and display them proudly on the counter because they are as beautiful as they are delicious.



Okay, so this next part is the crème de la crème. Literally. Putting one (or two) of these peppermint marshmallows in the Nutella hot chocolate turns it into a creamy, minty drink. You know how Judy the elf makes hot chocolate for Tim Allen in The Santa Clause when he first gets to his room in the North Pole? This stuff is thick and amazing like that, and I have seriously been waiting my whole life to drink something on the same level. You're welcome.





Nutella Hot Chocolate
Yields 2 servings
Total cook time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup Nutella

Directions:

1. In a small saucepan, heat your milk, heavy cream, vanilla and Nutella over medium heat. Stir with a whisk for about 5-10 minutes until the Nutella has completely melted.



2. Pour your piping hot chocolate into a mug, about 3/4 full. Put one or two peppermint marshmallows in, and drizzle with chocolate syrup and crushed peppermint candies for garnish if you so desire. This stuff is Christmas cheer in a cup, so savor every velvety sip and then go make a cup for someone you love!


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How To Manage Naptime With Two Toddlers

12.17.2014

I nicknamed naptime at our house the Battle of Naptietam. When you have two small kids under the age of three who share a room, managing naptime schedules truly turns into a mom versus baby warzone.

Let me paint the scene for you...




It's 2:00 pm and there are tears springing from the cheeks of your exhausted children. You quietly lay one down in their crib, and it seems all is well as they crash into a deep sleep once their head hits the mattress. You say to yourself, Ha! That was easy. Better go grab the next one. (It's never that easy, though. And it's a cruel trick I've played on myself one too many times.)

You have every intention of the next one going down just as peacefully, but they can a) talk and b) end up voicing their opinions for the world to hear, let alone your supposed-to-be napping baby in the crib, which is three feet away.



Then all hell breaks loose and the bombs of emotion start exploding. The toddler is wailing because they are so tired they can't settle down to sleep. The baby is wailing because they keep getting disturbed AND they are teething. And then mom starts wailing because, well, because parenting has its crappy moments and sometimes the only thing that fixes a moment of temporary insanity is a good cry. Right?


Now, you are probably thinking, Abbey, why don't you just put them in different rooms? But that would just make too much sense! And I have a knack for making my life far more complicated than it needs to be. Well, luckily for the happiness of all parties involved at the Rodriguez Casa, I let go of my pride and finally started putting the boys in separate rooms during naptime. And let me tell you, life is a lot more calm now.


Here are my tips on learning how to manage naptime with two toddlers (or babies):

1. As obviously stated above, separate their naptime spaces. I didn't want to do this at first because I didn't want to deal with having a portable crib in our room, but I quickly realized I valued my sweet, sweet quiet time in the afternoons more than the extra four feet of space in our bedroom. I recently received the 4moms Breeze playard and I love it. It snaps open and shut with one push of a button, and it is sleek looking so it isn't an eyesore being in the corner of our room. Yes, it is a teeny tiny bit larger and heavier than our old Graco one we used before, but the ease of use and maneuvering the 4moms playard has me completely sold. That is now wear Wes sleeps during naptime and he actually goes to sleep more quickly and soundly in there than in his crib! 4moms has a lot of other amazing baby gear you can check out here.

2. Stick to the same naptime every day. This can be tricky if you have older kids or errands to tackle, but it makes things incredibly more manageable. My boys are creatures of habit (I really think all children are, actually) and they are in their best spirits when life is predictable and consistent. Naptime in particular. I try my best to get all the errands done in the morning so they can go down for a long, peaceful nap around 2:00 pm. The days this happens, they sleep for longer stretches and wake up in time for dinner. It gives me my sacred alone time, and then allows us to clean up and get ready for dinner without busy hands around us.

3. Find a fun routine when tucking them in to sleep. Luke climbs into his bed and we tuck him in with all 500 bajillion of his stuffed animals, and then we go through a very specific set of high fives and kisses. Every time we do this, he rolls over and is asleep within two minutes, but if I am rushed or in a frenzy and forget to do it, the naptime sailing isn't as smooth. He will eventually go down, but it can take up to 30 minutes for him to settle. With Wes, we sing a little song and he gets his "mimi" and some milk and he is out like a light. Again, if I miss this, it is nothing but ginormous tears, which are the most heartbreaking thing in the world. (Seriously, if you ever see Wes cry, you will know what I am talking about. The kid has an Oscar in his future.)

4. Get them used to sleeping with noise. We are still working on this one. Luke is pretty good at sleeping with all the racket going on in the background, but Wes is a fairly light sleeper still. We put fans on for white noise when they sleep, which is helpful. By the way, how do you feel about white noise? I feel like there is a controversy about it. Some experts say it is bad for their brains and doesn't let them fully relax and rest, but then there is the whole thing about how white noise when they are infants actually helps them relax because it reminds them of the womb. So what is it? I think I just answered my own question in reaffirming that you should always parent by what feels right for you and your kids.

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A Random Thing Or Two-sday

12.16.2014






LOFT Honeycomb Sweater (similar)
LOFT Modern Skinny Jeans in Black
Forever 21 Western Ways Booties
Target Knit Beanie
Emilie M. Satchel Handbag
Make Pie Not War Triangle Necklace via Mommy Mailbox

1. This outfit, guys. This is the perfect on-trend mom outfit. A pair of well-fitting skinny jeans, comfortable booties, a loose sweater, and a beanie to cover dirty hair. Add some delicate jewelry and a big bag to stow away the diapers and, BOOM. You've got trendy mom dialed in. This is actually the main type of outfit I wear. I just rotate the colors, shades and hats.

2. Fact: Back in the day when chocolate first reached western civilization, it cost about $50-70 per pound based on the current US dollar (source).

3. There is an amazing giveaway going on over on my Instagram for some adorable activewear, in case you missed yesterday's post.

4. Raise your hand if you love the terribly corny Hallmark Christmas movies as much as I do! Can't stop, won't stop.

5. Would you rather have to wrap all of your Christmas gifts with your hands tied behind your back, or have to use your teeth to adhere the tape on your gifts but be able to wrap everything else normally?
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