Midday Fix: Hand made gifts from Carol Mackey’s kitchen

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Carol Mackey


Peppermint Bark

1 lb chopped bittersweet chocolate
peppermint extract
1 lb chopped white chocolate
crushed peppermint

Line a 11x17 baking sheet with parchment paper or waxed paper. Melt bittersweet chocolate over a double boiler, stirring constantly. Stir in four drops peppermint oil or more to taste. Spread chocolate evenly onto the prepared cookie sheet. Chill until just set, about ½ hour. Melt white chocolate over double boiler, stirring constantly, if white chocolate seizes add a little canola oil. Quickly spread white chocolate mixture over chilled dark chocolate, spreading to the edge of the pan, sprinkle with peppermint. Chill until set. To cut, I trim the edges with a chef’s knife and then cut into squares and cut the squares into triangles.

Personalized boxes from: www.thestationerystudio.com


10 organic lemons, washed and dried
1 750-ml bottle vodka
1 cup sugar, to taste

Peel the lemons: Use a vegetable peeler to remove the peels from all the lemons. Try to remove only the outer yellow skin and as little of the pith as possible. Transfer the lemon peels to a 1-quart jar and cover with vodka. Screw on the lid.
Infuse the vodka: Let the vodka and lemon peels infuse somewhere out of the way and out of direct sunlight for at least 1 week or as long as a month. The longer you let the vodka infuse, the more lemony your limoncello.
Strain the vodka: Line a strainer with a large coffee filter and set it over a 4-cup measuring cup. Strain the infused vodka through the filter. You may need to stir the vodka in the strainer if the flow stops.
Prepare sugar syrup: Prepare a sugar syrup of 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar — bring the water to a simmer and stir in the sugar to dissolve; allow to cool.
You can play with the ratios of water to sugar. Start with 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar, taste the limoncello, and add additional sugar syrup gradually until you reach a flavor you like. More water will dilute the alcohol base, making a less alcoholic, milder, and smoother-sipping liqueur. More sugar will make a sweeter limoncello.
Mix the sugar syrup with the infused vodka: Pour the sugar syrup into the infused vodka. Stir gently to mix. Taste and add additional sugar syrup if desired (see above).
Bottle the limoncello: Insert the funnel in the neck of one of the bottles and fill with limoncello. Repeat with remaining bottles.
Chill and store: Chill the limoncello in the fridge or freezer for at least 4 hours before drinking.  Limoncello can be kept in the fridge for up to a month or the freezer for up to a year (and often much longer!).

I tied a ribbon around the bottle and glue gunned the lemon slice on the ribbon. Write on the tag: Serving suggestion: As an after dinner drink, serve one ounce in a small chilled aperitif glass. Limoncello is best when served directly from the freezer.

Hot Chocolate on a Stick

wood spoons
silicone square mold or 9x9 pan, lined with parchment paper
metal rim tags
clear bags and ribbon
washi tape for spoons

Hot Chocolate Blocks:
Place chocolate in a metal bowl over simmering water (double boiler) stir until completely melted, pour chocolate into prepared pan or mold and spread chocolate as level as you possibly can, once it begins to solidify place spoons in chocolate. Let sit until hard. Makes about 24 squares.


3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
powdered sugar, for dusting

Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup of cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and allow to sit while you make the syrup. Meanwhile, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin. Put the mixer on high speed and whip until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly. With a sieve, generously dust an 8 by 12-inch nonmetal baking dish with powdered sugar. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan, smooth the top, and dust with more powdered sugar. Allow to stand uncovered overnight until it dries out. Turn the marshmallows onto a board and cut them in squares, insert a sharp paring knife to make slits and slide over chocolate square.

Place in clear plastic bags and tie with ribbon. I packaged each stick in a cellophane bag and tied it with a ribbon and attached a metal tag with a picture I printed off the computer of my boys, glued a small square of glittered red cardstock to a make it look like an ornament. The idea for this is from the kids to the kids!

One stick is good for about 8 ounces of hot milk.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Mini Chocolate Chip Walnut Oatmeal Pancakes
Makes approx. 12  6-inch pancakes

2 eggs
2 cups flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp.salt
1 cup Oats
1 1/2  cups buttermilk; can use regular milk and add 1 ½ Tbls. lemon juice or vinegar and let sit about 10 minutes
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup Nestle holiday morsels with red and green or milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

I layered in the following order:  flour and baking powder, baking soda and salt, next layer oats, chocolate chips, brown sugar and walnuts.

Layer in the pancake dispenser, tie holiday spatula around dispenser, tie cute cooking ornament around the dispenser! I wrote the message:  We Fippin Love You!

Pour dry ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Add 2 eggs, 1 1/2 cups buttermilk (can use regular milk and add 1 ½ Tbls. lemon juice or vinegar and let sit about 10 minutes), 1 tsp. vanilla to a large bowl, add dry mix, use the pancake dispenser that the dry mix was in.

Asiago Dip and Rosemary Garlic Crackers

Libby 15 oz. Jar
Mailing tube 3.9 x 6.2
Wrapping paper and nest ornament
branches and bark from your yard
gold spray paint and glitter
recipe stamp

Asiago-Parmesan Dip
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 lb. Parmesan Reggiano cheese
1/2 lb. Asiago cheese
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp. Italian seasonings
1 1/2 Tbs. green onions; diced fine
1/2 Tbs. Italian flat leaf parsley
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Pulse cheese in food processor so that it is in small chucks. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add garlic, pepper, oregano, crushed red pepper, green onion, balsamic and olive oil.  If time allows let it marinate 45 minutes at room temperature.

Rosemary and Garlic Crackers
(makes about 60 crackers)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 to 4 teaspoons dried rosemary
2/3 cup warm water
1/3 cup olive oil
granulated garlic, for topping

Preheat oven to 400. Grease two baking sheets with cooking spray and set aside. In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and rosemary. In a separate bowl mix together the water and olive oil; add it to the flour mixture. Stir it all together until you get a smooth dough. Cut the dough in half, one for each baking sheet. Using your hands and fingers flatten the dough onto the bottom of the baking sheet. Get it as flat and as thin as possible. Do the same with the other dough ball. Sprinkle granulated garlic on top then cut the dough into squares with a pizza cutter or can cut into holiday shapes. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes.

Wrap mailing tube in wrapping paper; adhere with glue stick, place crackers in mailing tube lined with tissue paper.
I decorated the top of the jar with small branches from my yard that I spray painted gold and glittered, another option I showed is a piece of bark that I sprayed gold and glittered, adhere with a glue gun.  I attached a bird nest ornament that had a clip on it to the branches. Place glass jar with dip on top of mailing tube, adhere with strong tape for 3M removable adhesive strips.

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