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Chocolate Mocha Punch

Seriously, a recipe today! :D I drafted this November 14th so it’s about time I posted it-lol.  I’ve shared a few of my friend, Teri’s, recipes before (see them all here), and this one is just as wonderful as the others.  She made this punch for my last baby shower and it was delicious! I’m sure once you scan the ingredients, you won’t have a hard time figuring out why.  It’s very decadent!  She also made it for her daughter’s wedding and the holiday party at her home last week, and I think it’s great for any occassion.  New Year’s Eve, maybe? :)

Chocolate Mocha Punch

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

3 quarts water
1 cup Nesquik
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup instant coffee granules (decaf is fine)
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream
1/2 gallon chocolate ice cream
2 cups whipped cream (Teri uses Cool Whip)
Chocolate curls for garnish

In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Remove from heat and add Nesquik, sugar and coffee; stir until dissolved. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. About 30 minutes before serving, pour into a punch bowl. Add ice cream by scoopfuls, stir until partially melted. Garnish with dollops of whipped cream and chocolate curls.


Cranberry & Apple Cider Punch

There’s probably not a huge need amongst the masses for an ice-cold autumnal punch recipe, since usually you want to start drinking hot beverages when the weather cools, but this is a nice refreshing drink that is a great alternative to serve at holiday gatherings. Thanksgiving, even?  My sister, Lacey (that’s her hands pouring the punch below), mixed up a big punch-bowl full for my Lil’ Pumpkin Baby Shower and there was hardly a drop left by the end.  It was so perfect with the pumpkin cupcakes and the entire theme and tasted wonderful!

And if you’re in need of more Thanksgiving recipes, I’ve updated my current favorites on the side bar. I love everything over there and can’t wait to eat some of it soon! Gobble gobble! :D

Cranberry & Apple Cider Punch

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1/2 gallon apple cider
1 (64 oz) bottle cranberry juice cocktail
1 (2 liter) bottle ginger ale
1/2 gallon orange sherbet

Combine the apple cider, cranberry juice, and ginger ale in a large punch bowl.  Scoop the orange sherbet on top and allow to sit for at least half an hour before serving.  Stir the sherbet into the punch and serve.  Fills 1 large punch bowl.

*Veronica’s notes: I made ice cubes by freezing two batches of the single serving recipe for this punch linked to below, however the ice cubes aren’t really necessary with the orange sherbet, which keeps the punch cold. Also, Dennis added the sherbet and only used half of the half gallon, but I think it would be best with a full half gallon.

Recipe source: adapted from Jam Hands (click the link to get Ali’s single-serving recipe)

Other favorite autumn drinks from my archives…

Skinny Pumpkin Spiced Latte

Easy Iced Pumpkin Spice Latte


Thankful Thursday #119: A Dr. Seuss Baby Shower

It’s appropriate that I’m posting this shower, my third (but not final), on Thursday, just in time for Thankful Thursdays!  I’m so incredibly grateful to God for giving me the most wonderful second family I could have ever imagined, and for all the wonderful, loving people in my life that made four showers necessary!  I may be spoiled at this point, but I do so appreciate all the love, encouragement, and support we’ve gotten since finding out we’re pregnant – in the form of comments, cards, prayers, words, and gifts.  I love that so many are celebrating with us! :)

This shower was thrown by my family-in-law– cousin Andrea spearheading it with help from her three sisters, her Mom, and my sister-in-law, Joan.

Hostesses & sisters Andrea & Jessica with their beautiful baby girls.

~Photo by Katerina~

Aunt Becky (Andrea, Jessica, Katerina, and Tessa’s Mom-you can see why they’re so beautiful!) and Auntie-to-be, Joan.

~Photo by Katerina~

~Photo by Dennis~

I was so impressed with all the creativity that went into this shower!  I was in love with everything on the food table and it took me a while to look past the food and notice the letters spelling out Joshua’s name, painted to match our nursery.

~Photo by Katerina~

~Photo by Dennis~

I had these letters pinned on my Pinterest registry and hoped I could talk an artist friend into making them because they would have cost quite a bit from the Etsy artist who was selling them (not that they’re not worth it, but I’m thrifty).  I never did ask anyone since Momma Donna put vinyl decals over the crib, but I’m so glad Andrea saw my pin…and made them herself!  I had no idea she was an artist, let alone an amazing artist!  She surprised the heck out of me.  I cried, especially when I saw that she managed to incorporate a Bible verse into them.

My only regret about our Seuss theme is that there are no good Seuss quotes about or connection to God or the Bible, but she nailed it with this translation of of Psalm 127:3, which could have come straight from a Seuss book, and she made it even better by putting a cross in the middle of it.  If that isn’t the most wonderful, creative thing, I don’t know what is.  Thank you so, so, much Andrea!  You are a treasure.

~Photo by Katerina~

I know I tend to focus on food, but like I said before, this is a food blog after all, so I figure if you’re reading, that’s what you’re most interested in too.  Each thing on the table had a cute Seuss-y label.  These seasoned crackers (“fish food”) were made by Auntie-to-be, Joan.

~Photo by Katerina~

“Who Food” by cousin Katerina (Andrea’s sister).  She cut the cheese into fun shapes. :)

~Photo by Katerina~

Did you just die? Because I almost did when I saw these Lorax Nutter Butters and truffula trees made with chocolate wafer rolls and coconut marshmallows melted onto square cookies (possibly Lorna Doone shortbread).  Andrea did these, of course, as well as all the signs and the truffula trees in the jars with the signs, made with fancy spiral straws and pieces of feather boas!  I could just die.

~Photo by Dennis~

I can’t get over them.  Sorry, moving on beyond these cookies are hard.  But I’ll try.

~Photo by Katerina~

Green Eggs & Ham Pretzels? Seriously?  Too much cuteness!  Becky and Katerina made these together – just some white chocolate melted on top of pretzels with a green M&M in the middle.  Love.

~Photo by Katerina~

So colorful and cute! They were the perfect size and even had little sprinkles inside. Not to mention delicious!

~Photo by Dennis~

Pink Yink Ink Drink made with diet 7-Up and slices of lemon, lime and orange.

~Photo by Katerina~

~Photo by Katerina~

Each table had books with covers made to look like Dr. Seuss books, drawn by Andrea’s daughter, Faith.  I guess we know where Faith inherited her talent from!

~Photo by Dennis~

We started with games created by Tessa, who helped from afar while on her mission trip in SE Asia.  I thought that was really neat that she could help from so far away so that all the sisters were involved!

But filling in the blanks on Seuss books was HARD.  I’m sure I’ll be a Seuss expert in no time, but I hadn’t heard of a single book on the game.  I had to get creative.  “I will not kill anyone today.”

~Photo by Jessica~

Dennis stayed for about half the shower, then escaped with his Dad to a gun show (how funny that he did the same thing at my Lil’ Pumpkin shower, leaving with his Dad to go to the shooting range. Men and their guns! ha!).  We were blessed that his old friend, Stacia, could make it, and he got to spend some time with her.

~Photo by Joan~

If it weren’t for Stacia, Dennis and I never would have met.  I’m about to go off on a tangent here, and hope you’ll bear with me…or you can just move ahead and skip this paragraph.  To make a long story short, she was in a bad car accident (she has been a paraplegic ever since) and was in Wesley hospital at the same time Kirstie Alley’s father was there for an operation.  Kirstie connected with Stacia while visiting her father, and then gave her some Dianetics and Scientology books (she’s a Scientologist and started the mission in Wichita, if you didn’t know).  Stacia wasn’t interested, but when Dennis came to visit, he took Dianetics, as he loves to learn and read everything.  He was intrigued, and one thing led to another, and he ended up on staff at the Church of Scientology in Wichita.  Not long after, I filled out a personality test they’d put in the newspaper and ended up taking my first class there, and eventually ended up on staff too.  We married two years later! I know that’s a crazy story (and I didn’t even include the part about dating Dennis’ best friend first-lol), but basically we have Stacia to thank for bringing us together!  And it was so worth all the grief we went through as Scientologists in our early days.

~Photo by Joan~

Stacia is one of the most loving, truly sweet people you could ever know.  I was so glad she was able to make it, as we hadn’t seen her (or her daughter, behind us in the picture above) for about ten years!

~Photos by Dennis~

Gift-opening photos bore me, especially when they’re of myself, so I made a couple collages so I wouldn’t bore you too much with them.  I started off opening the  big gifts (with some help from little Madalee, Den’s third cousin) since they were closest, and just feel so blessed we got the few big things left that we really needed!  A gate with a swinging “door” to block the stairs leading to the back door and basement once Joshua begins to crawl.  The door you can swing open on it will make letting Jessie through it to go to her doggy door and outside so much easier!  A bunch of Den’s family chipped in to purchase it, along with the high chair/booster seat that I wanted instead of a regular high chair. It came highly recommended to me by three Moms because it doesn’t take up extra space (you put it on a regular chair), it’s easy to clean, and you can travel easily with it.  So glad to have that!  And Phyllis, Den’s Mom, also got us a car seat.  We had bought a used one from our neighbor but feel so much better having a new one that we don’t have to worry about being out of date or having any issues, plus it’s padded better for an infant and doesn’t have any sawdust on it (we’re having some sawdust issues right now-lol). Hurray!!

~Photo by Dennis~

We got a lot of cute baby clothes, a lot of useful things like wipes, a lot of special things like handmade blankets, burp clothes, and  bibs, and on the left of the collage above I’m opening a gift of big, thick books filled with Seuss books, fairy tales, and Winnie the Pooh stories.  I have to say books are one of the most exciting gifts for me because I loved my Mom reading to me and plan to do the same for Joshua.  Jessica also gave me some Seuss books too and Joshua’s library has grown so much that Dennis has to re-install our bookshelves to make sure they’re stable enough to hold the weight (he thinks the brackets were put in upside down).  A good problem to have. :)

~Photo by Joan~

This blanket was made by a woman I’ve never met!  Do you remember Janice? Well her Mom made it for me – mind blowing!  See what I mean about me getting spoiled?  :)

Just had to share this lovely photo of my Mother-in-law and Aunt Becky (Aunt Lois in the background) – Katerina takes such beautiful photos.  And I also wanted to share it because right now, on this Thankful Thursday, my gratitude for my second Mom is filling my heart.  I just got the most wonderful letter from her yesterday and while I know I will never stop yearning for my own mother to return to the more reliable, there-for-her-loved-ones person she used to be, Phyllis more than makes up for my Mom.  She’s like two Moms or more in one.  She’s even saving money for a hotel so she can stay in Wichita for a while after Joshua is born to help us out with cleaning and cooking while we’re settling into a new routine with him.  Wow.  (For the record, I offered her our couch, but she wants to give us some alone time with Joshua even while she’s here – see how thoughtful she is?)

It’s really hard for me not to want my Mom to be excited, and to want  her here with me, or at least have her want to be here with me, and doing the things she did for Lacey when she was pregnant with and had Owen.  But I have to be fair and acknowledge I’m blessed beyond what a lot of women are in that I have four Moms and they are so great,  it’s really like having ten Moms.  It doesn’t take away the pain, but it adds a lot of joy.  Thank you Lord, for this gift of Mothers.  <3

Can’t believe I’m going to be one soon! :)  Check in tomorrow for one final shower if you can stand all the showeryness! :)

Cream Cheese Mints & Peppermint Patties

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I’ve been making these mints for years and they are always a hit.  Unlike the hard & powdery ones you buy at the store, these are soft and the flavor far superior to the aforementioned imposters.  Combine them with white cake and nuts, and you’ve got my idea of heaven.  :)  They are also very simple to make, though if you use a mold, it is a little time-consuming.  You can let them air dry until they are almost like the classic mints that accompany most wedding and baby shower cakes, but I usually only let them dry overnight so they are just dry enough to hold their shape (unless smashed), but are still soft and creamy on the inside.

I made this batch because a co-worker requested them, and after turning 1/4 of the batch into the classic square mints for him and a girlfriend that loves them, I got bored and tried a couple other things with the dough.  I figured I could use them as filling for peppermint patties, and although the flavor is a little different than the classic (I have a recipe for York-style peppermint patties here), I like it even better because I like the added tang of cream cheese.  I also had another stroke of genius (if I do say so myself) after I made the peppermint patties, but that one deserves a post all of it’s own.  Check back Friday!

Cream Cheese Mints

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 lbs. powdered sugar
Food coloring (optional)
Granulated sugar, for coating (if using a mold)

Beat the cream cheese until creamy, then beat in the extract. Beat in the powdered sugar until well blended.  Depending on your mixer, you may have to use your hands to fully incorporate the sugar.  The mixture will be smooth and like a stiff dough. Add icing gel coloring if desired. Pinch off a chunk of dough and roll it into a slender log.

Cut the log into small squares set onto waxed paper to dry.(Keep the remaining dough covered or sealed in Ziploc bag(s) during the rolling and cutting process, or it will dry out.)

Repeat until all the dough has been cut into squares. If you wish to shape the mints using a mold, pull off a small piece of dough, enough to fill the mold, and roll it into a ball. Roll the ball in granulated sugar, coating it very well, then press into the mold. Turn it over and pop the mint out onto wax paper. Allow to dry overnight before packing in an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Yield: 2 1/2 lbs. mints

To make peppermint patties, roll dough out to desired thickness and use a small round cookie cutter or juice or shot glass to cut circles.

Place on wax-paper lined baking sheet and freeze, uncovered, for an hour. Melt a 12-oz bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips with 1 teaspoon oil or shortening and drop the peppermint patties in one at a time, turning and lifting out with a fork. Quickly tap off excess and use another fork or your finger to help slide the dipped patty onto another waxed paper-lined baking sheet. Once all patties are dipped, place baking sheet in refrigerator until chocolate is set, about 15-30 minutes. Store in airtight container and keep refrigerated.

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