Whether you want it dipped, seasoned, rolled or simply as is, there’s no doubt that soft pretzels are a delicious treat that everybody loves! This month, you have all the right reasons to enjoy this tasty snack with the whole family. Why? Because it’s National Soft Pretzel Month! [Read more…]
Throughout the year, people celebrate a number of different holidays. Be Black Friday or Thanksgiving, people have assigned almost every single day to any holiday that they could think of. But what’s so special about chocolate to have a day for it?
Chocolate, just like wine, is fermented. This happens when farmers harvest cacao pods, clean them, free them from the white material, and dry them out. Cacao beans undergo the process of fermentation. Little by little, the papery shell gets removed and reveals the cacao nibs. Afterwards, chocolatiers grind them into a cocoa mass and separate it into solids and butter. Others then process the mass and mix in milk and sugar. Some transform it into white chocolate by just using chocolate butter, milk, and sugar. People celebrate National Chocolate Day every October 28! Remember to mark that on your calendars as it’s a very chocolatey day!
What recipes can you try for National Chocolate Day?
A lot of people wonder how to incorporate chocolate into almost anything that they eat. Now, we have these three (3) recipes that you may try in order to celebrate this very chocolatey day!
For the French toast:
- 6 large egg yolks (save the whites for your ultra-healthy breakfast tomorrow!)
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
- 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
- Kosher salt
- Unsalted butter, for frying
- 1 small loaf challah bread, sliced 1 inch thick
- Small handful of semisweet chocolate chips
- 4 dates, pitted and chopped
For the syrup:
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon bourbon
- Make the French toast: Whisk the egg yolks, milk, vanilla, orange juice and zest, brown sugar, cinnamon, garam masala and a pinch of salt in a large glass baking dish.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Put a wire rack on a baking sheet and place in the oven.
- Set a large skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon butter. While the butter melts, prick a few holes on each side of a slice of bread with a fork. Lay it in the egg mixture and, using either a fork or your hands, push the bread into the egg mixture so the bread loosens up a little and soaks up the liquid. Flip and repeat.
- Using a slotted spatula or tongs, pick up the bread, allowing the excess egg mixture to drip off, and lay it in the hot pan. As the first side is cooking, 2 to 3 minutes, push chocolate chips and chopped dates into the soft, uncooked side of the bread. Be assertive! Then flip and cook 2 to 3 more minutes. Remove and set on the rack in the oven to stay warm. Repeat with the remaining slices of bread, adding more butter to the pan if needed.
- Meanwhile, make the syrup: Combine the maple syrup and bourbon. Warm it in the microwave, if you want. (You can make the syrup the night before; store in a jar in the fridge, then warm before serving.)
- 36 Oreo cookies
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
- 1⁄4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk, cold
- 1 (12 ounce) container Cool Whip, divided
- 2 (4 ounce) packages chocolate instant pudding
- 3 1⁄4 cups milk, cold
- 1 1⁄2 cups mini chocolate chips
- Begin by crushing 36 Oreo cookies. I used my food processor for this, but you could also place them in a large ziplock bag and crush them with a rolling pin. When the Oreos have turned into fine crumbs, you are done.
- Transfer the Oreo crumbs to a large bowl. Stir in 6 tablespoons melted butter and use a fork to incorporate the butter into the cookie crumbs. When the butter is distributed, transfer the mixture to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan. Place the pan in the refrigerator while you work on the additional layers.
- Mix the cream cheese with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add in 2 Tablespoons of milk and sugar, then mix well. Stir in 1 and 1/4 cups Cool Whip. Spread this mixture over the crust.
- In a bowl, combine the chocolate instant pudding with 3 and 1/4 cups cold milk. Whisk for several minutes until the pudding starts to thicken. Use a spatula to spread the mixture over the previous cream cheese layer. Allow the dessert to rest for about 5 minutes so that the pudding can firm up further.
- Spread the remaining Cool Whip over the top. Sprinkle mini chocolate chips evenly over the top. Place in the freezer for 1 hour, or the refrigerator for 4 hours before serving.
No Bake Chocolate Oat Bars
- 1 cup butter
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups quick cooking oats
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- Prep: 30 m
- Ready in: 3 h 30 m
- Grease a 9×9 inch square pan.
- Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and vanilla. Mix in the oats. Cook over low heat 2 to 3 minutes, or until ingredients are well blended. Press half of mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Reserve the other half for topping.
- Meanwhile, melt chocolate chips and peanut butter in a small heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently until smooth. Pour the chocolate mixture over the crust in the pan, and spread evenly with a knife or the back of a spoon.
- Crumble the remaining oat mixture over the chocolate layer, pressing in gently. Cover, and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours or overnight. Bring to room temperature before cutting into bars.
Hopefully, this makes your National Chocolate Day more sumptuous!
Children love the magic of Christmas and Santa Claus coming to town has made many Christmases merry and bright. Santa can be found in many different locations during the holidays but finding the perfect Santa experience for you children and family can be a little daunting. Listed below are a few of the Winter Wonderlands you and your family can visit this year.
Santa at the Chapel Hills Mall is a fun and convenient way to let your children visit Santa while also getting some Christmas shopping done. Santa is available Monday-Saturday 10:00 am – 8:00 pm with breaks from 1:00-2:00 pm and 5:00-6:00(Even Santa has to stop to eat), Sunday 11:00 am – 6:00 pm with a break from 2:00-3:00 pm, and December 24th from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm with a break from 1:00-2:00 pm. He will be at the Mall through December 24th. Do your fur babies want to meet the big guy? Chapel Hills Mall offers pet night every Monday through December 17th from 6:00-8:00 pm. Pictures can be purchased at the time of visit.
Another convenient way to meet Santa is through the Citadel Mall. They have the same hours for Santa as the Chapel Hills Mall but instead of offering pet night, the Citadel has partnered with NORAD Tracks Santa. Their web page https://www.noradsanta.org opens December 1st and tracks Santa though the Christmas season.
Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops offers a different free craft each week, a free 4X6 photo, and games and activities. From now through December 1st Santa is available Monday-Friday 5:00-8:00 pm and crafts from 5:00-7:00 pm, Saturday 10:00 am – 8:00 pm with crafts from 12:00-5:00 pm, and Sunday 12:00-5:00 pm with crafts those same hours. December 2nd-24th hours are Mon-Sat 10:00 am – 8:00 pm and Sunday’s and Christmas Eve from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm. with crafts on weekday evenings 5:00-7:00 pm and weekends 12:00-5:00 pm.
If you are looking for a Santa tradition for your family, catch the Santa Express Train from the Royal Gorge Route Railroad. Pricing Varies from day and seating; $44-$74 for adults and $34-$69 for children ages 1-12. Guests can pre-purchase meals or purchase them on the train. Passengers can also buy a photo to document their Santa Express experience. Call or log on to make reservations 719-276-4000 or https://royalgorgeroute.com/santa-express-train/ Santa Fe Depot off of Highway 50 Canon City CO 81212
Holiday Evening at Rock Ledge Ranch invites you to celebrate an old fashioned Christmas with light tours, blacksmithing demonstrations, barn dancing, Victorian celebrations, Edwardian festivities, and a visit from St. Nicholas. The general store will be open for purchasing hot cider and other goodies. This event takes place December 15th starting at 4pm. 719-578-6777. 3105 Gateway Rd 80904. Adults $8, Seniors $5, andChildren 6-12 $4.
Here are just a few places near Colorado Springs to bring the magic of Christmas to your family. No matter how you chose to visit Santa, with kids and/or pets, in the mall or on a train, be sure to have fun and enjoy time making new holiday memories.
Health & Wellness Coordinator
Lead Early Preschool Teacher
Did your kid really just ask you that deep question about life? Where babies come from? Why does she have two daddies? Where did grandma go? The list is endless, and perhaps your answers are not. Have books help you with those hard conversations. As a parent it is your job to explain the good, bad, and the ugly to your children. Some of these conversations we dread, some we look forward to, and others we just plain hope they never pop up. Those are the ones that you may need a little more help on, but you might not want to go around asking others for advice. The best option is to find a book that can prepare you for the conversation as well as guide your child through it. Books offer a great concrete way to talk about possibly abstract subjects. It will help your child gain a better grasp on things. Some books might even have multiple pieces; one for you and one for your child with pictures or activities.
You have on your superhero capes every day, and your children look up to you as someone who knows everything. Then one day they ask you a question that stops you in your tracks. Do I answer? What do I say? Do I ignore it? Are they asking other people this? So many questions may flood your mind. If you are not ready to have the conversation at hand, then give your child an answer along the lines of ‘we will talk about this together at a special time’. Or ‘please hold your questions and I promise we will talk it all through before the end of the week’. Not to say that they are going to like that answer, but give them the best answer you can; you know your child the best so go with your gut. Now luckily the younger they are the less they are going to ask. The older they are, the more likely they will be able to understand what you mean when you say we will come back to this conversation in a couple of days. You’re not off the hook though, kids remember EVERYTHING. They will not let you forget this conversation. You will need to be prepared in the near future, so a book will be a great place to help you start. Next stop barnesandnoble.com with rush delivery!
Some topics are not what we ever thought parenting would be, but we are our children’s first teachers, and we want to be their best. It may be a sensitive subject, but wouldn’t you rather your child hear it from you rather than asking anyone else. You lose the control of subject that way. They will remember the way they were told first. The second person who changes things is the liar in their eyes and the one that will confuse them. Be the first person! You have lots of resources at your fingertips to help you get your point across in a graceful way. You’ve got this.
Curriculum & Literacy Coordinator
Lead Pre-K Teacher
Now that Thanksgiving has passed, the countdown to Christmas is in full swing! Decorations all over town are going up, Christmas lights are shining bright, and the Christmas music is blaring. As you walk into every store all the Christmas displays are set up and all the advertisements are filled with Christmas sales. I’m sure your kiddos have started to make requests about things they want for Christmas and all the relatives are asking what to buy. Some might be feeling a bit of anxiety as the season approaches when this should not be the case. I would like to share how to take a step back a little on the Christmas presents this year and to focus on what matters most.
As you start to plan out what your Christmas will be like this year, it doesn’t have to be consumed by the number of presents under the tree. This is something to really think about when your children are young. As you begin starting your Christmas traditions, don’t make it about filling the stockings to the brim. If you are stacking gifts under the tree to the max, they may start to expect it as each year passes and they become more aware of what is going on. This could cause your kiddos to loose sight of what Christmas is all about.
A really awesome idea I heard about a few years ago was to plan your gift giving around this mantra: Give your child what they want, need, wear and read. So simple! It really narrows it down to four easy categories to shop for and will drastically cut down on over giving. This really works great for all ages! Maybe you feel compelled to do a few items in each category depending on your family dynamics, but still stick to the categories. Buying even 2 items from each one will still cut down on the overflow of gifts. Continue to have fun and have your child create their Christmas list, but have them break it down into these categories.
Include them in the idea of not buying all the toys off the shelf and help them to understand as they grow older as to why. Also, it’s super important to not spend beyond your budget. Set a budget for each child and really stick to it! It is hard, I know! But doing the want, need, wear, read breakdown really helps!
Be intentional about filling Christmas time with other things instead of presents. Make the memories and show kindness to others during the holiday season. There are lots of events around town to attend, looking at Christmas lights while drinking hot coco is always fun, or even reach out by having you and your children do kind things for others or those in need. Christmas is really not about checking every item off your child’s Christmas list; it’s about spending time together, creating memories and starting lasting traditions as a family.
Lead Pre-K Teacher