English Toffee Traditions

Every year for as long as I remember my dad made English Toffee for Christmas. In fact, a lot of my family has a special thing that they make/made for holidays that I attach to them personally. Having my own family has made me think a lot about traditions and starting new ones. This year was the second year I made the toffee and the first year it turned out well.

We started a tradition 4 years ago, The Mack Cookie Party. This year was our 4th and it keeps getting better. I also will make Rachel Ray’s “Christmas Pasta” again and we will have a couple friends over to eat for Christmas Dinner.

This year is extra special with the birth of our second child, Evelyn Louise. Thomas (17 months) is becoming a little boy more and more every day. It will be exciting to watch him open up gifts from Santa Christmas morning.

Now for what you’ve been waiting for… The Recipe.

The end result... Delicious!

The end result… Delicious!

English Toffee *

1 cup butter (extra for greasing pan)

1 cup sugar (I used granulated organic sugar)

1 six ounce package of semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped walnuts                                                             (I found them already done at Trader Joes)

What you will need:

Heavy saucepan

wooden spoon

9×9 metal pan (cake pan) although, I used a glass 9×13 and made a double batch

Candy Thermometer ( digital one would work)

wax paper

festive tin

The important part

Butter your pan well and set aside. Combine butter and sugar in pan and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly. ** Be careful with the heat… You may need to adjust as you watch the time and temperature rise on the thermometer. Once the thermometer reaches 305-310 take it off the heat and test it by dropping a little into a glass of water; you want it to form into a hard ball and be brittle when removed from the water.Pour quickly into the greased pan and spread evenly with a spatula. Cool until hardened. Melt half the chocolate in the top part of a double boiler (I used a small metal bowl over a pan of boiling water). Spread the chocolate over the candy and sprinkle with nuts. Cool until chocolate has hardened. Turn candy out of the pan onto waxed paper with chocolate layer on the bottom. Melt remaining chocolate and repeat above process. Cool until this layer has hardened (this can take awhile, be patient it’s worth it). Break toffee into pieces and store in a tightly covered tin for at least 2 days to develop the flavor. ***           Makes 1 pound.

Pour into the buttered pan and smooth out with spatula or spoon.

Pour into the buttered pan and smooth out with spatula or spoon.

Pour over melted chocolate and sprinke with nuts. I pressed them down into chocolate slightly too.

Pour over melted chocolate and sprinkle with nuts. I pressed them down into chocolate slightly too.

After the chocolate gets hard, turn out on the waxed paper. This is where I came into trouble using the glass pan, a metal pan has some give.

After the chocolate gets hard, turn out on the waxed paper. This is where I came into trouble using the glass pan, a metal pan has some give.

* Recipe taken from The Redbook Cookbook

Dad pointers

** This section should take about 40-45 min and the outcome is a nice caramel colored sugar mixture. The better the color the better the flavor.

*** This is true, but let’s be honest… It’s still darn good right away

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Cubby madness!

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This de-clutter project is getting serious… I’ve moved to the giant cubby filled bookshelf we have in the nursery that separates the office from the nursery/guest room.
It is filled with crafts, books, toys, baby shoes, baby clothes,stuff that should have been thrown away years ago, and books that I have out for guests to read( why I’m trying to pretend we’re a cute little bed and breakfast I will never know).
I started the project yesterday to get a jump start since we leave for WI for a few days on Wednesday. Thomas is growing out of clothes lengthwise, but still can wear 3 month around the waist (long and lean baby). I have NO idea where he gets that from.
Anyway, out with the high waters and in with the pants around his knees! He may have to wear overalls until further notice.
So, his dresser is once again organized and the clear tubs are filled and ready for storage. I’m keeping everything until we have baby number 2 and know what we are having. I’m pretty sure we’ll be a two boy house, but you never know.
Tomorrow I’ll begin to tackle the cubbies and hope to throw out quite a bit. I’ll post some pictures of the madness.
Happy Monday!

***Just to clarify, we are not pregnant yet :0)

The Kitchen- Part 1

I made my decision on what project will be on my plate this week, the dreaded kitchen! I was busy doing dishes and getting it clean to start the de-cluttering this morning and realized how much stuff I have managed to jam into my poor cupboards.

Soooo… Time to streamline the spices and toss the expired. I’m breaking it down into two weeks because I don’t think I can spend THAT much time in the kitchen and smaller goals seem to work better and produce a better outcome. I will take everything out and wash the shelves and then only put back what is still edible or usable.
My birthday surprise is tonight!! Looking forward to a night on the town with the hubby.
Happy Monday!!

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Oral Surgery and the Art of Letting Go…

Yesterday, I went to the oral surgeon and had to have two teeth removed. This of course was entirely my fault and could have been TOTALLY prevented. I broke my lower back molar on the left years ago while eating a raw almond and did nothing about it and the same thing happened to the top back right molar but a year or so ago I added to the problem. I was home in California and visiting Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and NEEDED to have salt water taffy. Yeah…really needed it! Well, on my first delicious bite it stuck to my back tooth and as I opened to chew again I felt something hard in the taffy. ” What was it you ask”, OH, just a chunk of my tooth, no biggie. I think you get the point. This is not even about teeth, but can serve as a reminder if you’re reading this that you should…

1. Get regular cleanings

2. Maybe limit your intake of raw almonds ( read: candy, soda and all things that can rot teeth)

3. If you break a tooth go directly to a dentist to have it fixed, so you won’t end up like me with two missing teeth ( did I mention they were BOTH infected…EW!)

I got home last night safely with the help of my sweet husband, who not only had to deal with the biggest baby he also had to deal with our 5 month old son. We live on a 4th floor walk up. For non- New Yorkers, we had to climb up 56 steps. I woke up this morning and the last thing I really remember was telling the doctor three, when asked how many kids that I wanted before becoming unconscious and eating Velveeta Shells and Cheese so I can take my Vicodin and Antibiotic.

I have a hard time letting someone else take care of me and letting go of control of pretty much everything. Since getting married and having kids ( probably before) I have figured out how I like things done. And that goes for doing dishes, please use HOT water; mopping the floors, please fill the bucket FULL; cooking, pretty much MY way or the highway and a million other things. My husband calls me a Diva…

The new year is quickly approaching and I’ve been reading my friends posts about resolutions they are planning on tackling. I always like the idea of changing myself for the better, but as we all know, is much more difficult than just saying it out loud or writing it down on “paper”. I was crying to my husband today because I felt like I had to do everything and that he wasn’t capable of doing what I needed him to do, I realized that I felt that way because I never let him do anything. I always have to do it ALL.

Fast forward a couple hours…I have started a blog for 2012, relaxed while the hubby picked out a recipe and went shopping for the ingredient while baby napped and now as I type my boys are reading on the bed in the other room.

I’m looking forward to having a home cooked meal made entirely from scratch by the hubby while I either watch TV or read “The Paris Wife”, which I love so far. So, at least for today and hopefully a few more times during 2012 I am letting go…

Happy New Year!