Holiday Poppers Project

Holiday Poppers Project

Enjoy creating with the holiday poppers project during the holidays. Use colors appropriate to any holiday. These are fun to do for kids of all ages and make a great Christmas treat on the fly.

Valentine’s poppers can be made in pretty red, pink and white and Easter, of course, in pretty pastels. For Halloween you could create unique sweet treats using orange and black tissue paper and Halloween candies! Makes 8 poppers.

For your holiday poppers you will need:

  • 2 (16 x 27-inch) sheets red tissue paper
  • 2 (16 x 27-inch) sheets green tissue paper
  • Red curling ribbon
  • Green curling ribbon
  • Gold curling ribbon
  • 8 (5-inch) paper tubes (either cut a paper towel tube in half or use a toilet tissue tube)
    Selection of individual wrapped miniature candies in holiday colors/décor such as Dove chocolates, Snickers, Milky Way, Twix, etc.
  1. Cut the tissue paper in half lengthwise. Cut 8 strands of each color of ribbon 15-inches long.
  2. Fill the tubes with a selection of candies.
  3. Lay one sheet of tissue paper flat on a surface. Place the tube at one edge and roll the paper tightly around the tube. Tie the ribbon tightly at both ends of the tube.
  4. Once all the tubes are wrapped and tied, arrange in an attractive presentation, such as the one pictured below.
Holiday Poppers Project
Red and Green Holiday Poppers

Extra: Christmas Place Cards

This season, why not make special place cards for Christmas dinner?Heart Beat

Get some thick construction paper, then let everybody pick their own color. Each sheet of paper can make four cards. Fold the paper into fourths and cut along the folds.

Fold each rectangle either way you like to make a tent. Write each person’s name on one face in pencil, then trace the name with glue and sprinkle the glue with colored sparkles.

To add a holiday shape, draw a pine tree or wreath on the back side using the fold as your base line. Cut out the shape with a knife, except along the fold.

To make sure the shape sits upright, tape a toothpick to the back across the fold. Decorate with glue and sparkles.

Extra idea: Paste on that person’s favorite movie star or athlete or hero.

You may want to save these place cards to use next Christmas, too.

If you’re interested in some DIY Christmas gift boxes, check out our friends over at Mayda Mart – DIY Gift Boxes.

DIY Christmas Gift Box

Using Raisins in Foods

Using Raisins in Cooking and Baking

Available year round, using raisins in a wide variety of foods is easy. Cereals, breads, cookies, candies and energy snacks are just a few examples. The raisin is truly one of the world’s most versatile food ingredients.

Raisins are low in fat and sodium, but high in carbohydrates for a quick pick- me-up snack. Raisins are also high in antioxidants and cholesterol free. One-quarter cup of dried uncooked raisins provides 1 serving from the fruit group of the Food Guide Pyramid.

Raisins in Baked Goods

Raisins provide more than just flavor to the cereals and baked goods. Using raisins, bakers can reduce or even eliminate the use of preservatives. This is because of the propionic acid found in raisins. It acts as a natural preservative.

Another naturally occurring acid in raisins, tartaric acid, enhances the flavor of baked goods. Tartaric acid can also help reduce
the amount of salt needed to flavor breads, cakes, cookies, and pastries.

Chocolate Raisins

Confectionery items that use raisins include the following.Using raisins for chocolate covered raisins

  • Yogurt covered raisins.
  • Chocolate bars with raisins.
  • Chocolate covered raisins.

Barbecue and Steak Sauce

Raisins add flavor and texture to foods. Raisin juice concentrate and raisin paste are flavor enhancers. You can find them in everything from breads, cakes and cookies to barbecue and steak sauces.

Many popular barbecue and steak sauce brands combine raisin paste and raisin juice concentrate with ingredients such as tomato paste, soy sauce, and vinegar. This helps create a wide selection of bold sauces.

More Foods for Raisins

  1. Granola Bars
  2. Raisin Stuffing
  3. Bread Pudding
  4. Classic Coleslaw
  5. Celery Sticks
  6. Salads

Did you know?

Raisins should be stored in the refrigerator to keep them soft and moist.

Actually, the ways of using raisins in your cooking and baking are seemingly endless. Use your imagination! You can also get some terrific recipes from the Sun Maid web site.

Top 15 Sun Maid Recipes
Top 15 Sun Maid Recipes

Resource: Raisins and Dried Fruits Publication from Sun Maid

Popular Candy Servings 100 Calories

Popular 100 Calorie Candy Servings

Here we have a list of some of the most popular candies on the market, and their 100 calorie serving equivalents.

  1. 1/2 Kit Kat bar – this one is awesome; you can just split the Kit Kat in half and re-wrap the rest for next time.
  2. 2/3 cup mini marshmallows – little sticky on the fingers but soft, sweet, and delicious.
  3. 29 M & M’s – count ’em out, then let ’em “melt in your mouth, not in your hands!” 🙂
  4. 10 Peanut M & M’s – chew these up well and savor the protein-packed peanuts.
  5. 1/3 Snickers bar – a little more difficult to break into 3rds (knife works best), but worth the effort.
  6. 1/3 3 Musketeers bar – same as our beloved Snickers bar.
  7. 1/2 York Peppermint Patty – Yummy! Let the chocolate and peppermint blend melt slowly while you savor the flavor!
Popular 100 calorie candy servings
Popular 100 calorie candy servings.


Making candy at home can be a fun and even a special event. You can do it with your kids, or dig in when you have some alone time. While the candies listed above are all popular favorites, candy servings from home made candies can be even better! Plus, you can control the calories and fat.

Whatever diet you practice, or if you just try to lighten up your diet from time to time to avoid extra pounds, you’re sure to find something suitable to add to your candy recipes in our Candy Recipe section. If you don’t have a recipe collection for candy, why not get started? Enjoy a sweet treat from time to time – you’ve earned it.

Chocolate Rice Poor Man’s Pudding

Yummy Chocolate Rice Poor Man’s Pudding

A spoonful of molasses chocolate sauce adds extra richness to this homespun chocolate rice pudding dessert. You can substitute dark corn syrup for the molasses, if you prefer.

Poor Man's Chocolate Rice Pudding

Chocolate Rice Poor Man’s Pudding Recipe


4 eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups half-and-half, light cream, or whole milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup cooked rice, cooled
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons chocolate-flavored syrup
1 tablespoon molasses


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Beat together eggs, half-and-half, light cream, or whole milk, sugar, cocoa; and vanilla in a large bowl. Use a rotary beater or wire whisk. Stir in rice and chocolate. Pour custard mixture into a 1-1/2- or 2-quart casserole. Place dish in a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan set on an oven rack. Carefully pour 1-inch of boiling water into the baking pan.
  3. Bake, uncovered, for 60 to 65 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean.
  4. Stir together brown sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan. Stir in water, chocolate syrup, and molasses. Cook and stir mixture over medium-low heat for 2 minutes more or until thickened and bubbly.
  5. To serve, spoon warm pudding into bowls. Pour 1 to 2 tablespoons sauce over each serving.
  6. Recipe makes 6 to 8 servings.

Nutritional facts per serving of Chocolate Rice Poor Man’s Pudding (1/8th):

  • Calories: 401
  • Total fat: 19 grams
  • Saturated fat: 11 grams
  • Cholesterol: 172 milligrams
  • Sodium: 84 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 52 grams
  • Fiber: 1 gram
  • Protein: 10 grams

Download recipe in PDF:
Download Poor Mans Chocolate Rice Pudding Recipe

Poor Man’s Pudding Circa 1914

1914 Poor Mans Pudding Recipe
1914 Poor Man’s Pudding Recipe

One coffee-cup rice, two quarts milk, eight tablespoons sugar, one teaspoon salt, butter the size of an egg, melted; nutmeg to taste, cinnamon also if liked. Wash the rice and soak in one pint of the milk two hours. Add the rest of the milk, the sugar, salt, butter, spices, and also some raisins. Bake two hours, and eat cold.

From the “Second Edition of The Neighborhood Cookbook” published by the Council of Jewish Women, Portland, in 1914.

How About Going Organic This Easter?

How About Going Organic This Easter?

Just some food for thought. Have you considered going organic and filling your Easter baskets with organic chocolates? It’s very healthful!

Why Organic Chocolate?

Raw, organic chocolate is a wise choice. Organic chocolate is not polluted with toxic chemicals and pesticides.

Going Organic this Easter with Organic Chocolate
Commercially produced cocoa beans are grown with more pesticides than any other plant, besides cotton! Chocolate that is marketed as organic is grown without the use of chemical pesticides.

Best of all, consuming organic chocolate can offer significant health benefits. The variations in processing sweetened organic chocolate are the secret to maintaining the natural health benefits.

Conventional vs. Organic Chocolate

  1. Conventional chocolate is usually sweetened with corn syrup. Corn syrup is an artificial sweetener derived from genetically modified corn.
  2. Organic chocolate is sweetened with fruits (dates, raisins, etc.) malt syrups, or cane juices.

Organic chocolates contain plenty of flavonoids. These are a form of antioxidant that can help support your immune system. It will also protect your body from illness and possibly even prevent premature aging.

You can find high quality organic chocolate in health food stores, online and possibly at your local grocery store. The demand is on the rise.

Are you now thinking of filling those Easter baskets this year with organic chocolates instead of conventional? Chances are kids won’t know the difference – but their bodies will! There may be other online retailers selling organic Easter chocolates, but we get ours from Lake Champlain Chocolates. Follow this link for their Easter treats. (Disclosure: We have no affiliation whatsoever with Lake Champlain Chocolates, other than enjoying their products).#

Kids tend to enjoy the flavor of milk chocolate over dark.

Beyond Easter, going organic can become a habit. Stock up on organic chocolates for yourself! Then, the next time you have an intense craving for chocolate that nothing else will satisfy, you can enjoy healthful organic chocolate. Your body will thank you in many ways.

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The History of Chocolate

The History of Chocolate

The history of chocolate brings us back to the term cocoa.

The term “cocoa” is actually a corruption of the word “cacaoa” that is taken directly from Mayan and Aztec languages. Chocolate is derived from cocoa beans, central to the fruit of cocoa tree, Theobroma cacao, indigenous to South America, is believed to have originated from the Amazon and Orinoco valleys.

The History of Chocolate Begins with the Cacao Tree

Cocoa beans play big role in history of chocolate

The history of chocolate involves the cocoa beans. Use of cocoa beans dates back at least 1400 years (Rossner, 1997). Aztecs and Incas used the beans as currency for trading or to produce the so-called chocolatl. Chocolatl was a drink made by roasting and grinding cocoa nibs, mashing with water, often adding other ingredients such as vanilla, spices or honey.

In the 1520s, the drink was introduced into Spain. Coe and Coe (1996) emphasized that the European arrivals in the new world, including Christopher Columbus and Herman Cortes, were unimpressed with the Mayan beverage. They proceeded to sweeten it with honey.

Nevertheless, the conquistadors familiarized the chocolate beverage throughout Europe. It was expensive, so it was initially reserved for consumption by the highest social classes. As we move forward in the history of chocolate, we see in the 17th century the consumption of chocolate spread through Europe.

The consumption of chocolate became more widespread during the 18th century. The Spanish monopoly on the production of cocoa soon became untenable. Plantations were soon established by the Italians, Dutch and Portuguese.

At this point in the history of chocolate, chocolate was still consumed in liquid form. It was mainly sold as pressed blocks of a grainy mass. These blocks had to be dissolved in water or milk to form a foamy chocolate drink. Mass production of chocolate blocks began in the 18th century when the British Fry family founded the first chocolate factory in 1728. They used hydraulic equipment to grind the cocoa beans. In 1847, the Fry’s chocolate factory, located in Bristol, England, molded the first ever chocolate bar suitable for widespread consumption. Learn more about the Fry Family on Digplanet.

The first US factory was built by Dr James Baker outside Boston a few decades later. In 1778 the Frenchman Doret built the first automated machine for grinding cocoa beans. This history of chocolate is making serious progress!

The production of cocoa and chocolate was truly revolutionized by Coenraad Van Houten in 1828 by the invention of a cocoa press. This press succeeded in separating cocoa solids from cocoa butter. The resulting de-fatted cocoa powder was much easier to dissolve in water and other liquids and paved the way.  In 1848, the invention of the first real eating chocolate was produced from the addition of cocoa butter and sugar to cocoa liquor.

Cocoa Powder

In 1847, in the UK, Joseph Fry was the first to produce a plain eating chocolate bar. This was made possible by introduction of cocoa butter as an ingredient. Demand for cocoa then sharply increased. Chocolate processing became mechanized with development of cocoa presses for production of cocoa butter and cocoa powder by Van Houten in 1828. Milk chocolate arrived in 1876 by Daniel Peters, who had the idea of adding milk powder, The milk powder was an invention of Henri Nestle a decade earlier.

This was followed by the invention of the conching machine in 1880 by Rudolphe Lindt. Chocolate came to take on the fine taste and creamy texture we now associate with good-quality chocolate. It was still very much an exclusive product, however. It was not until 1900 when the price of chocolate’s two main ingredients, cocoa and sugar, dropped considerably that chocolate became accessible to the middle class.

By the 1930s and 1940s, new and cheaper supplies of raw materials and more efficient production processes had emerged at the cutting-edge of innovation with fast-manufacturing technologies and new marketing techniques through research and development by many companies in Europe and the United States, making chocolate affordable for the wider populace.

Chocolate Squares

Best of all, we now know that chocolate is healthy! See: The Nutrients in Chocolate.

Resource: Science of Chocolate

Fireside Cinnamon Chocolate Coffee

Fireside Cinnamon Chocolate Coffee

If you live in a cold winter climate, give this warming, comforting hot coffee beverage a try. It is wonderful to sip on for a pick-me-up.

No Worries. Caffeine is Safe!

Back in 1958, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration classified caffeine as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS). In 1987, the FDA reaffirmed its position that moderate caffeine intake produced no increased risk to health. Both the American Medical Association and the American Cancer Society have put out statements confirming the safety of moderate caffeine consumption.

If you need to avoid caffeine for health reasons, or because you are sensitive to it, use your favorite decaf coffee.

How About the Chocolate?

Not only is chocolate considered an herb, it contains many health benefits. Read The Nutrients in Chocolate for more information on this amazing, appealing food.

Combine these two favorites, add a little spice and you’ve got a warming cinnamon chocolate coffee treat.

Finally…the recipe!

Fireside Cinnamon Chocolate Coffee Recipe

Cup of Cinnamon Chocolate Coffee

2 cups brewed strong hot coffee
1/4 cup chocolate syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup Half and Half
Aerosol Whipped Light Cream
Chocolate shavings, if desired


Pour coffee into 1-quart saucepan. Stir in chocolate syrup, vanilla and cinnamon. Add half and half. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through (3 to 4 minutes).

To serve, pour into individual coffee mugs. Garnish each serving with whipped cream and sprinkle with chocolate shavings, if desired.

Cinnamon Chocolate Coffee Notes:

  • If desired, add a dash or two of ground red pepper for a little extra heat.
  • Instant coffee is not recommended; however, if in a pinch, it will do. The flavor won’t be quite as good, though.
  • Use organic ground cinnamon to reap the most benefits from cinnamon, which also contains many healthful properties.
  • A 4-inch cinnamon stick is a nice garnishment in addition to the chocolate shavings.
  • Cut fat dramatically by using Land O’ Lakes Fat Free Half and Half.

Make An Ounce of Chocolate Healthier

Make An Ounce of Chocolate Healthier

“Chemically speaking, chocolate really is the world’s perfect food”.  –Michael Levine

Some Quick Facts

  • Cocoa flavanols may help to support cardiovascular health.
  • The scientific data that cocoa flavanols may make an important contribution to cardiovascular health continues to grow rapidly.
  • Other studies suggest cocoa may help decrease blood pressure. They also say cocoa has prebiotic potential. (Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition) Prebiotics are defined as, “non-digestible food ingredients that have a beneficial effect through their selective metabolism in the intestinal tract.” (Gibson et al. 2004)

Sources: Cocoa Flavanols and Cardiovascular Health Report by Bernard R. Chaitman, MD, Harold H. Schmitz. PhD and Carl L Keen, PhD; Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, Saint Louis University School of Medicine; Mars, Incorporated; and Department of Nutrition, University of California, Davis.

How YOU Can Make Chocolate Healthier!

Make an ounce of chocolate healthier! Simply use 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder plus 1-teaspoon vegetable oil instead of solid chocolate. Preferably use organic unsweetened cocoa powder.

Go super healthy!

Use Organic Cocoa Powder – it is the guilt free way to satisfy your family’s chocolate sweet tooth without high amounts of sugar, fat and preservatives that are common in many commercially available baking cocoa powders. Organic cocoa powder naturally contains cocoa flavanols (polyphenols).

For brownies: Use 3 tablespoons of high-quality organic cocoa and 1 tablespoon of fat-free condensed milk in place of 1 ounce of baking chocolate in your favorite brownie recipe. You will cut 6 grams of fat from the batch.

Chocolate Healthier in Mini Cocoa Cupcake Kabobs

Thread bite-size chocolate cupcakes made with organic cocoa powder onto skewers with marshmallows and strawberries. This makes a delightful finish to your next barbecue or picnic. Get a sweet-treat embedded with something good-for-you-to-eat!

Mighty Chocolate Morsels

Get the heart benefits of chocolate without blowing your diet. A report found that just one ounce of dark chocolate was enough to inhibit blood platelets from forming clots. Until now, it was thought it took four times as much. Get one ounce of healthful chocolate by enjoying 57 semi-sweet chocolate morsels (150 calories).

Make an ounce of chocolate healthier
Make an ounce of chocolate healthier by using 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder plus 1-teaspoon vegetable oil instead of solid chocolate.

A Smores Keyboard

A Smores Keyboard

S’mores lovers can’t help but love this – a keyboard that looks as if it was made with Smores ingredients of chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers!

Smores Keyboard

Original source unknown – please post if you know where this originated from as we’d love to give credit where credit is due!

Did you know?

The first printed S’mores recipe appeared in 1927 in the Girl Scout handbook called, Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts. Folklore tells us the name “S’mores” came about because everyone who tasted one asked for “some more.”

Chocolate was once a luxury item for the wealthy, but thanks to Milton Hershey it became an affordable indulgence for all.


Microwave Smores Recipe

  1. On a small saucer, place half a milk chocolate bar on top of one-half of a graham cracker. Add one large marshmallow.
  2. Cook in your microwave on medium for about 10 to 15 seconds or until marshmallows puff and grow.
  3. Remove the plate from the microwave, top with the other graham half and gently press down on the gooey marshmallow.
  4. Let cool a bit before eating. Have a napkin ready – these are deliciously messy!

Super Summertime Smores: Use fudge striped cookies and slide a roasted marshmallow onto the bottom of one cookie and top it with another cookie.

Grins and Giggles: Strength

Strength from Chocolate

Strength proven by chocolate!

“Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands and then eat just one of the pieces.” – Judith Viorst

Other Chocolate Quotes to Gather Strength From!

“All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt!
— Lucy Van Pelt in Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz

And above all… Think Chocolate!
–“Betty Crocker

Caramels are only a fad. Chocolate is a permanent thing.
— Milton Snavely Hershey

“Chocolate is cheaper than therapy and you don’t need an appointment.”
— Catherine Aitken

“I could give up chocolate but I’m not a quitter.”
— Author Unknown

“Nine out of ten people like chocolate. The tenth person always lies.”
— John Q. Tullius

“When the going gets tough, the tough eats chocolate.”
— Author Unknown

Here are a couple more for that strength.

“Chemically speaking, chocolate really is the world’s perfect food.”
— Michael Levine

“Chocolate is a perfect food, as wholesome as it is delicious, a beneficent restorer of exhausted power. it is the best friend of those engaged in literary pursuits.”
— Baron Justus von Liebig

A favorite that gives me strength in love…

“Love is like swallowing hot chocolate before it has cooled off. It takes you by surprise at first, but keeps you warm for a long time.”
— Author Unknown