Thursday, December 23, 2010

Chocolate Covered Caramel Corn Recipe

I am in the midst of holiday baking, and thought I would share my latest recipe creation. I have spent plenty of money in the past buying chocolate covered caramel corn from various children's fundraisers. I thought I would try my hand at my own version of this tasty treat. I will be giving it out as part of our treat gift packages for Christmas. This is my own original recipe.

Chocolate Covered Caramel Corn

14 cups popped popcorn

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup corn syrup

2 packages of milk chocolate almond bark

Pop the popcorn (I have a regular popcorn popper, and 1/2 cup unpopped popcorn yielded 14 cups popped). In a medium saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup. Heat on medium low heat, stirring constantly until mixture is lightly boiling. Continue to simmer and stir until mixture is a caramely texture. Immediately pour mixture over popcorn, stir and mix well until popcorn is evenly coated. Allow caramel to set. Take the chocolate almond bark, a few squares at a time, and melt in a small saucepan. Remove from heat. Roll chunks and pieces of the caramel corn in the chocolate, and place on waxed paper to cool. Let cool, then enjoy or gift wrap!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Probiotics Help Allergies?

I am by no means a medical doctor or expert, but I do try to keep educated and informed about ways I can improve my health, especially in ways that do not require putting medication in my body. Don't get me wrong, I do believe medications can be a blessing in many ways, but if I can find a solution to my health issues without using medication, I will try to go that route.

For many years, I required prescription medication and treatments for my allergies and asthma. If necessary, I will seek those treatments again, and I still have my rescue inhaler handy at all times. However, I have, through natural remedies and dietary changes, been able to keep my allergies and asthma at bay. One of the things that I have recently discovered that affects my allergies and asthma are probiotics.

Recently, I had run out of probiotics and had decided I could just forgo them until I was ready to put another order in at A week had gone by, and all of a sudden I was having allergy attacks, which often lead to asthma attacks for me. I got to thinking about why my allergies were flaring up suddenly again. Then I remembered I had stopped taking my probiotics for the time being. Curious, I decided to look up online whether or not probiotics affected allergies. Sure enough, there is ample evidence that suggests good bacteria in the gut affects allergies. I stopped by the local drugstore to pick up some more probiotics for the time being, and shortly after starting them, my allergy issues began to subside again.

There are many good food sources that contain probiotics, such as yogurt, kefir, raw honey, raw milk, etc. I am not always good at getting these foods into my diet regularly, but they definitely do contribute to a healthy gut (if you are ever looking for some interesting health reading, studying up on how the gut affects overall health is fascinating!). While I try to eat some probiotic foods, in order to positively affect my allergies, a probiotic supplement is what seems to have the most effect. My preferred probiotic supplement is called Kyodophilus and contains several strains of good bacteria. This link is one of the Kyodophilus products that I have successfully used: .

Obviously, my story is more of an anecdotal type of evidence, but when looking into the issue, the scientific evidence backs up my experience. For further reading on this subject, you can click on the links that follow: . For even further reading, an internet search should turn up additional information.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Salt Dough Christmas Ornaments Craft Project

Yesterday, the kids and I started the process of making some Christmas ornaments out of a homemade salt dough. It was really simple, I mixed up the dough, then we rolled the dough out with a rolling pin and used cookie cutters to cut out different shapes. You do have to bake these ornaments, but before I put them in the oven, I used a skewer to poke a hole in the top of each ornament, so that we can use some ribbon, yarn, or string to be able to hang them. We will be keeping some of these for our own Christmas tree, but will also give a few for gifts. I got the recipe for the salt dough from .

Salt Dough Recipe

4 cups flour

1 cup salt

1 1/2 cups water

Mix ingredients together well and knead dough until well blended. If too sticky, add additional flour a little bit at a time until the right consistency is met. If too dry, add additional water in small amounts until desired consistency is achieved. Roll out dough and cut with cookie cutters, place shaped dough on a foil lined cookie sheet. Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes. Let cool, then paint.

I was going to buy some special paint to decorate the ornaments with, but the article at the above posted link suggested nail polish as a nice, decorative paint. Since I had plenty of nail polish around, we decided to try that out. I must say that it adds a nice touch to the ornaments, and the shine is lovely!

Overall, this was a great activity to do with the kids, and they loved it!