What To Do With Leftover Halloween Candy

November1

What to Do With Leftover Halloween CandHere's what to do with all that leftover Halloween Candy! Cook with it, share it or send it to the military!

When I was a kid, Aba let all of us keep every single thing in our trick-or-treat bag.

My brother Gary had an uncanny way of parceling out his candy and then teasing the rest of us later on with his sweet riches. In fact, he’d make his Halloween candy last until Christmas… his Christmas candy last until Valentine’s Day… and his Valentine’s Day candy last until Easter… but then he would go into a dry spell and we’d all laugh.

But I digress.

I know there are a lot of you (the good parents) who don’t want their kids sitting on 6 pounds of creamy chocolate, rich gooey caramel, chewy sweet nougat, or crunchy peanutty peanuts.

So here’s what you can do to whittle down that pile of Halloween candy (you are going to let them have some of it, aren’t you?). My tips on what to with leftover Halloween Candy:

Freeze It

Divide candy into different categories (bars, hard candies, jelly candies, etc.) and put it in different Ziploc freezer bags. Once this task is accomplished, you’ll be able to use it in coming months for:
Thanksgiving: Decorate Turkey Day Dinner place cards with M&Ms and hard candies.
Christmas: Create fantastic Gingerbread Houses decorated, of course, with Skittles, licorice and Tootsie Rolls.
New Year’s Eve: Thaw the candies (especially the candy bars) and fill a piñata.

Share It

If you want to get the candy out of the house, giving it away is a great idea. Decide how much of the loot the kids have to give up and then let them decide which pieces to share. Before you donate, call ahead.
Nursing Homes: Rather than giving the home one large bag, divide the candy into several sandwich-size Ziploc bags. Also, think about taking the candy to a nursing home in an under-served part of town.
Women’s Shelters: Smaller bags are a good idea here, too, especially since some shelters allow younger children to stay with their mothers.
U.S. Military: There are several organizations that facilitate these donations to American Soldiers, but Mama’s favorite is Operation Gratitude. Make sure the kids write a little note thanking the servicemen for their dedication and courage.

Cook With It

How do you make a calorie-bomb cookie even more decadent? Stick a candy bar in the middle and decorate the top with even MORE candy!
Candy Bar Ice Cream Shakes: Chopped-up candy bars, milk, ice cream and a blender. Need I say more?
Cupcake Surprise: Drop a candy bar mini (those teensy-tiny candy bars) into the center of each cupcake before baking. Decorate the top with M&Ms.
Chocolate Dipped Everything: Melt chocolate bars and then dip strawberries, dried apricots and marshmallows… and then roll them each in chopped up Pay Day or Butterfinger candy bars.

A few other ideas

1. Hide most of the bag and dole it out to the kids as you see fit… school lunches, rewards for jobs well done, or heck, just because it’s Friday.
2. Take it to the office.
3. Use it as gift wrap. Wrap a gift with plain paper and tape on candy bars or candy packets.

So, let’s be honest here. How much candy did YOU eat BEFORE Halloween or while you were handing it out to the trick-or-treaters? Mmm-hmmm…. I thought so.  THAT’s why you’re so desperate to get rid of it!


 

Perfect Caramel Apples Recipe

October21

Mama's High Strung - Caramel Apples Recipe

Have you ever made Homemade Caramel Apples?

I’m not talking about Caramel Apples made with those cute little candy squares that you buy in packages.

I’m talking about REAL honest-to-God Caramel Apples that you make from scratch from REAL HOMEMADE Caramel. This is the Perfect Caramel Apples Recipe.

You absolutely need a candy thermometer for this recipe. A lot of recipes will give you visual cues, but using a thermometer will guarantee that you’ll get it right the first time (yep, I learned the hard way).

If you’re wondering what kind of apples to buy, get what you like to eat out of hand. Honey Crisps are delicious but HUGE! Granny Smiths are tart, but balance out the sweetness of the caramel. Red Delicious are pretty bland, but tend to be uniform in shape.

Decorate the apples or leave them plain… they’ll be delicious no matter what you do!

This recipe was featured on:


     

A savory Feast

Extra Helpings: Chocolate Dipping Tips

February13

Chocolate Dipping TipsHere are some terrific Chocolate Dipping Tips (and an easy recipe) if you want to create Valentine’s Day enchantment!

What to Dip

Fresh Fruit:

  • Make sure it’s fresh and ripe. Even the richest chocolate can’t hide the sour taste of an unripe, mid-winter strawberry.
  • Remove the fruit from the fridge about 10 minutes before dipping in order to take the chill off and prevent the chocolate coating from cracking.
  • The fruit needs to be absolutely dry and free of moisture before dipping.

Nuts:

  • Whole or halved nuts work best, but sliced almonds, or pecan pieces are great, too. Put them in small clumps on a parchment  paper-lined baking sheet and spoon on the melted chocolate.
  • If you’re buying a large bag of nuts from a big-box store, taste them as soon as you’ve purchased them. If they taste stale, take them back!

Other Dip-ables:

  • Pretzels, potato chips and other salty junk food can bring a delicious balance to the sweetness of the chocolate. If you’re buying these in a super-sized quantity, make sure they are fresh!
  • Bacon! Thick cut bacon works best. Fry it until very crispy. Cool completely before dipping.
  • Marshmallows and cookies.
  • Dried fruit. Apricots, pineapple and apples are addictive.
  • Zucchini. I’m not kidding. Slice fresh zucchini sticks and dip them in powdered sugar… then into chocolate. Amazing.

Chocolate Dipping Tips:

  • Water or moisture in your chocolate will cause it to “seize.” This means it will get hard, crumbly and grainy.
  • Chocolate that gets too hot will also seize. That’s why you need to melt chocolate slowly and at the lowest possible heat until smooth.
  • If chocolate seizes, blend in 1 tablespoon shortening for every 4-ounces of chocolate and stir constantly until the chocolate is smooth again.
  • Chocolate bars and squares are best for melting. They put additives in chocolate chips so the chips will keep their shape. You want the best and purest chocolate you can afford with only these ingredients: cocoa beans, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin (an emulsifier) and vanilla.
  • Chocolate should be warm (not hot!) and have a thin consistency so it gently coats what you’re dipping. If it’s too cool it will be thick and ugly.
  •  Use a potato masher to dip fruit, pretzels or cookies in hot melted chocolate.
  • Don’t waste the last bit of chocolate in the pan! Spoon the remaining chocolate into a plastic re-sealable bag and seal. Snip off a tiny piece from the bottom corner and drizzle it over anything still left to dip!
  • Cool your dipped items on a tray lined with parchment paper.
  • After coating the goodies, tightly wrap the chocolate and store it in a cool, dry place. You can also refrigerate for up to 2-days.

Plated + Served: Decadently Delicious Chocolate Dippers

February3

Chocolate… is there anything more decadently delicious?

sharri's berriesjpg

So it makes sense that anything dipped, coated or drizzled in chocolate is going to be nirvana… and you’d be surprised at how easy it is to create enchantment. But before we launch into the “how-to,” here are some things to keep in mind:

• Dipping fresh fruit? Make sure it is fresh and ripe. Even the richest chocolate can’t hide the sour taste of an unripe, mid-winter strawberry.

• Before dipping, remove the fruit from the fridge for about 10 minutes to take the chill off and prevent the chocolate coating from cracking.

• Make sure the fruit is absolutely dry and free of moisture before dipping.

• Water or moisture in your chocolate will cause it to “seize.” This means it will get hard, crumbly and grainy. (If this happens, reheat heat the chocolate and stir in a teaspoon of shortening until it is smooth again).

• Love chocolate covered nuts? Be careful if you’re buying a large bag from a big-box store. Taste the nuts as soon as you’ve purchased them. If they taste stale, take ‘em back!

• Pretzels and potato chips also need to be fresh, so do the taste test on those, especially if you’re buying them in a super-sized quantity.

• After coating the goodies, store the chocolate tightly wrapped in a cool, dry place.

Dipping strawberries, marshmallows and pretzel rods is easy when you have a full pot of chocolate. But what happens when you get down to the last tablespoon or two of deliciousness? Easy. Spoon it into a plastic re-sealable bag and seal. Snip off a tiny piece from the bottom corner and drizzle it over cookies (freshly baked or store bought), ice cream or fruit salad.

Now, if you want something really decadent (okay, downright naughty) for that special someone, here’s what you do:
1. Send the kids to bed.
2. Melt the chocolate as directed in the recipe.
3. Cool the chocolate and find a basting brush or small paintbrush.
4. The rest is up to you…

 

 

 

Hi…
I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: mamashighstrung@gmail.com