Tag Archives: gift

Peppermint Bark: Two Ways

Peppermint Bark | RevamperateI’m all about the peppermint, guys. Mint and chocolate are a heavenly combination for me, so I really take advantage of all of the treats this time of year. In honor of my strong bond with peppermint, I made some peppermint bark, but I tried a new way of doing things. See, the easiest way, as you may know, is to spread out the chocolate on a piece of wax paper and break off pieces.

Instead of doing things the easy way this time (still a big advocate of the “easy way”), I tried to use cookie cutters to make fun shapes out of the chocolate. It kind of works and kind of doesn’t so here are two different ways you can make shaped peppermint bark as well as two different sets of ingredients you can use. I’m totally bias here – I’ll tell you what I liked best and what worked for me, but figure out what works best for YOU. I still love the look of the shaped ones because they look really pretty as a gift.Peppermint Bark | Revamperate Peppermint Bark | Revamperate The first set of ingredients:

  • Chocolate chips or cocoa candy melts
  • White chocolate chips
  • Peppermint candy

The second set of ingredients:

  • Chocolate chips or cocoa candy melts
  • Peppermint candy melts

As you can see, you can either use peppermint candy melts (the easiest way) or you can use white chocolate and sprinkle it with crushed peppermint (the slightly harder way). Personally, I still prefer using white chocolate and crushing the peppermint topping myself, but the candy melts still do taste great. You can crush the candy by placing unwrapped pieces into a zip-lock bag and using something heavy (I use the end of a rolling pin) to break them into smaller pieces. Then I use a rolling pin to further crush small pieces. Like I said, this just my opinion. They both taste like peppermint bark!

Now, moving on to the different ways to fill the stencil with chocolate. First, lay multiple cookie cutters on a parchment lined baking sheet. Melt the milk or dark chocolate first – melt on defrost mode in 20 second increments until smooth. You can either use a spoon to pour the chocolate into the mold, or you can move the chocolate to a piping bag to distribute it into the mold.

Pros: It’s easier and a little faster to use a spoon, but the piping bag makes it easier to reach corners of the mold.

Cons: Using a piping bag tends to take longer, but using a spoon means you have to use something else (like a knife or toothpick) to move the chocolate into small crevices.

Once the dark chocolate has hardened (which takes longer for chocolate chips than candy melts), you have two more options. You can either leave the the candy in the mold or you can gently remove it. It is difficult to remove the peppermint bark without breaking it, which is why it can help to remove it before you add the next layer.

Pros: The chocolate is much easier to remove when you only have one layer, but leaving it inside the mold keeps the next layer looking significantly cleaner.

Cons: The thicker the bark, the more difficult it is to remove from the mold, but if you remove it early, the peppermint layers won’t look very clean.

Personally, for the aesthetic aspect of it, I preferred to leave it in the mold because it looks much better. If you gift it with it still in the mold, you don’t have to worry about accidentally breaking it.Peppermint Bark | Revamperate Peppermint Bark | Revamperate Next, repeat the process with either the white chocolate or the peppermint candy. Before it dries, sprinkle the crushed peppermint on top of the white chocolate. Then let the chocolate harden. If it is still in the mold, you can use a spoon or piping bag to fill it in. If you’ve removed it from the mold, you would need to use a piping bag to shape the candy as best you can, which is quite difficult to do. I wasn’t pleased with the final look of this technique, but it did keep my bark from breaking.

In summary, I actually think the best choice is to leave the peppermint bark inside of the mold until you are ready to eat it or gift it. After all, it’s pretty heartbreaking when it breaks after you’ve worked so hard to make it look nice. However, if you grease the sides of the cookie cutter with some oil, it can be easier to slip the chocolate out of the mold. I also preferred the white chocolate with crushed peppermint over the candy melts because of the crunch and look – it’s easier to hide imperfections with candy topping.Peppermint Bark | RevamperateNow, get out there and make some beautiful and delicious peppermint bark! Enjoy!

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Christmas Pinwheel Sugar Cookies

Christmas Pinwheel Sugar Cookies | Revamperate Christmas Pinwheel Sugar Cookies | RevamperateWhat treats come to mind when you think of Christmas? Eggnog? Peppermint? Pie? Well, I just think of cookies. Sometimes even pie cookies and cookies with peppermint or eggnog. Yeah, those are real things I’m planning. I’m actually really excited because this is the only time of year it’s social acceptable to share eggnog recipes.

Anyway, this cookie is a classic one with a Christmas spin. These classic sugar cookies feature red and green spirals (aka pinwheel cookies) to get you in the holiday mood. You can also see how I used this recipe to make autumn themed sugar cookies with royal icing a while back.

To make 20-25 cookies, you’ll need:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1 egg
  • Red and green food coloring

First, beat together the softened butter and sugar until creamy. Add in the vanilla and egg and beat until combined. In a separate bowl, combine flour and baking powder, and slowly add to the wet mixture. It will become very thick and difficult to mix. If that happens, pull the dough onto a piece of wax paper and continue to massage with your hands until the flour is completely mixed.

Separate the dough into two large balls and use your knuckle to push a small hole in each piece. In one, add about 4 drops of red food coloring, and in the other add about 4 drops of green (note, this can get messy so wear gloves if you prefer). Use your hands to close the opening and, one at a time, massage the food coloring into the dough until it is not longer streaky. Add more food coloring until you reach you desired color. I kind of looked like I’d beat someone after I finished kneading the red dough because my hands were covered in red coloring…but luckily it’s washable!

Sprinkle some flour on the waxed paper and on a rolling pin, and roll out each piece of dough separately until it is about 1/4 inch thick. If you can, try to maintain the same shape between the two colors. Then peel one piece off of the paper and place it on top of the other, evening it out as much as you can. If needed, use the rolling pin to gently roll over the dough to maintain shape. Christmas Pinwheel Sugar Cookies | Revamperate Christmas Pinwheel Sugar Cookies | RevamperateStarting at one end, roll the dough into a log as tightly as you can without tearing it. Leave it on a cookie sheet and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Once chilled, it should be a little stiffer and easier to cut. Using a sharp non-cerated knife, cut off a 1/2 wide slide at the end of the dough (set aside if the dough didn’t match up). Reshape into a circle with your hands if needed and continue to cut until you have used the entire log. Christmas Pinwheel Sugar Cookies | Revamperate Christmas Pinwheel Sugar Cookies | RevamperateBake on 350 degrees for 12-16 minutes until the edges begin to lightly brown. Baking times will vary depending on the thickness of the cookies. Let them cool on a cooling rack before devouring, and enjoy! These holiday cookies make a nice holiday party item for your friends, family or coworkers. For an added touch, you can also roll the sides in sprinkles before baking if you’re a sprinkle fanatic (yeah, that’s a real thing). Now get baking!

Homemade Twix Bars

Homemade Twix Bars | Revamperate Homemade Twix Bars | Revamperate Homemade Twix Bars | RevamperateRecently, I made these homemade butterfingers bars, and they were so popular that I thought it would be fun to make more candy. These Twix candy bars can be as easy or as difficult as you want them to be, depending on whether or not you make everything from scratch, and they make a nice last minute gift for someone! Plus, you know, they taste pretty good. Parts of this recipe you can make from scratch or purchase as a time-saver, such as the shortbread and caramel.

First, you’ll need to make shortbread with these ingredients (or you can buy shortbread cookies):

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

You’ll also need:

  • 1 bag of caramel candies (I used Kraft brand)
  • 1 bag chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon of water

Start out by making the shortbread by creaming together the butter, sugar and vanilla. Once it’s completed mixed, slowly mix in the flour. It may begin to get really thick and hard to turn. If so, pull it onto a piece of wax paper and kneed with your hands until it’s soft and combined. With a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough onto the wax paper until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Using a ruler and a sharp knife, cut the dough into rectangles. You should be able to get 20-24 3×1 inch pieces out of the dough. Leave the pieces on a cookie sheet in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Bake on 325 degrees for about 25 minutes until the edges begin to brown. Remove immediately and cool on a cooling rack.

Turning to the caramel middle of the candy – melt the caramel candy on low heat with 1 tablespoon of water, stirring constantly with a spatula so it doesn’t burn. When all of the pieces are melted remove the pan from heat, and use the spatula to spread caramel onto the shortbread while it’s hot. The caramel will harden on top if the cookies shortbread pretty quickly.

In a separate bowl, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave on defrost mode for 30 seconds, removing it to stir and continuing to microwave and stir until the chocolate is completely melted. If it’s too thick, add a small amount of vegetable oil.Homemade Twix Bars | Revamperate Homemade Twix Bars | RevamperateUse a fork to carefully dip the caramel-covered cookies and chocolate and let them dry on a sheet of wax paper. Then they’re ready to eat! Store the Twix bars in an airtight container on the counter or in the fridge for several days. Note, the caramel hardens in the fridge, so let them sit out for a few minutes before eating so the caramel has time to soften slightly. Enjoy!

You can also see this shortbread recipe in my sweet and salty pretzel shortbread bars.

I’ll be going off the grid for the rest of the week to celebrate Thanksgiving in Northern California with Andrew’s family. When I come back, you can expect to see lots of lots of Christmas ideas. I’m honestly so excited!

This is the first Thanksgiving I’ve been able to enjoy in at least five years because I always worked in retail during the holidays, and before that, my sister worked in retail, so my family got used to not really celebrating Thanksgiving. We’ve always been more into celebrating Christmas, so it’s really wonderful to be able to spend this week around family. Happy Thanksgiving!

Salted Pretzel Almond Bark

Pretzel Almond Bark | Revamperate Pretzel Almond Bark | Revamperate Pretzel Almond Bark | RevamperateFor the days your sweet tooth needs some satisfaction but your mind keeps talking you out of it, you can still find a way to compromise. With this incredibly easy salted pretzel almond chocolate bark, you not only get a nice combination of sweet and salty but can snack without feeling super guilty. This sweet and salty bark makes a nice gift or just a good midnight snack.Pretzel Almond Bark | RevamperateTo make a small batch (about 10 pieces), you’ll need:

  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 handful of small pretzels
  • 1 handful of sliced almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt (optional)

First, lay out a piece of wax paper on a cookie sheet. In a small bowl, microwave the chocolate chips on defrost mode for 30 seconds, stir and repeat until the chocolate is completely melted. Pour the chocolate onto the wax paper and use the back of a spoon to spread it out until it’s about 1/4 inch thick, if not a little bit thicker.

Take a handful of pretzels and use your hands to crunch them into smaller pieces. Spread over the chocolate and gently press the pieces down. Do the same with the almond slices, pushing down slightly to press them into the chocolate. Place the salt in your hands and evenly sprinkle it around the chocolate. It adds a little extra salt if you want it. Otherwise, the pretzels also give it a saltiness.Pretzel Almond Bark | Revamperate Pretzel Almond Bark | Revamperate Pretzel Almond Bark | RevamperateLet the chocolate sit for a while, or put the sheet in the fridge to speed up the hardening of the chocolate. When it’s hard enough, use your hands to break it into pieces.

That’s all there is to it. Pretty easy, right? Package it up for a cute holiday gift or snack on it yourself. Enjoy!

DIY Personalized Gift Wrap

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IMG_5105I don’t know about you, but I find good wrapping paper expensive and hard to come by. Target (my go-to store for everything) generally has a pretty limited selection, and the good stuff can be pricey. Plus, I don’t always need an entire roll for small items.

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IMG_5088 Enter scrapbook paper and leftover scraps – you can wrap gifts with cheap, patterned scrapbook paper or dress up boring old wrapping paper with personal touches. If you’ve ever tried to nicely wrap something for an adult male’s birthday, you may notice that it’s really hard to find paper that is both not girly and not boyish. Using $.50 scrapbook paper, you can wrap small items with so much more variety than your average grocery or department store has to offer.

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For slightly larger items, take some plain colored paper, or perhaps even the white side of patterned paper, and use paint and a stencil to add the first letter of their name or even their full name. Similarly, dress up plain paper with stamps, watercolors and other embellishments!

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For an added touch, add ribbons and bows (I like to believe that even boys appreciate these things). Even though wrapping paper gets ripped off, people usually appreciate a nicely wrapped gift. Well, I do at least.

With Andrew’s birthday and my aunt’s falling on the same day, we planned a trip to Arizona on the river. Not only did I personalize my wrapping, I made Andrew go on a scavenger hunt around my aunt’s house to find his gifts. We had a wonderful weekend away full of lots and lots of celebrating. His actual birthday is tomorrow, so the celebrations don’t end here!

DIY Wedding Card Box

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My coworker is getting married in June, and when she showed me the card box she wanted to rent for the wedding, I insisted I could make her one instead. It was a long and daunting process because I had never tried something like this before, but I’m glad to see that it’s finally finished! This is a fairly long tutorial because it includes a lot of small details, but they are all important for making the project a little easier for you.

To do this project, you’ll need:

  • At least two layers of thick cardboard boxes, such as hat boxes
  • Fabric, stretchy is best
  • Spray adhesive – I recommend Elmer’s Craft Bond brand
  • Tulle
  • Embellishments
  • Cutting tool and scissors
  • Glue gun

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First, measure your fabric by placing the side of the box on the fabric and cutting one to two inches from the edge. It is always better to have too much leftover fabric than not enough because you can easily cut off the excess. Most likely your boxes will have tops like mine do. To measure fabric for the tops, lay the top flat on the fabric and cut a large circle around it, leaving at least one to two inches of space from the edge of the top. Set aside for now.

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If using only two tiers, place the smaller tier on top of the larger tier. It should be centered in the middle. Using a pencil, trace the outline of the smaller box onto the top of the larger box. This will give you an idea of how large of a hole to cut between the boxes.

Using your cutting tool, cut approximately one inch into this outline on the larger box top. Cut a circle as best you can. The boxes are made of a heavy paper mache-like cardboard, so they are not easy to cut. The circle doesn’t have to be pretty because you’re going to cover it. Be sure to leave at least one inch all the way around so that your smaller box will have space to rest around the hole in the large box.

Based on the size of the hole you just created, you need to create a similar hole in the bottom of the smaller box that is at least one to two inches from the edge. If it helps, use a ruler to measure about one inch into the box to begin cutting a role or use any additional smaller tiers to measure the size. Remember that the holes in your boxes need to be large enough for an average envelope to fall through them, but you need to leave enough space for the boxes to fit together on top of the holes.

Next, use the cutting tool to cut a five inch slit centered in the top of the smaller box. This will be where people drop their cards. Try to open it up to approximately 5 inches by half an inch so an average card will easily slide through.

When everything is cut, you can begin gluing on the fabric. I tried at least three different kinds of spray adhesive doing this project and learned that Elmer’s Craft Bond works the best by far. It’s easy to find at Michael’s (and it’s coupon-eligible!). Also an important tip – wear gloves when doing a project like this with spray adhesive. It takes days to scrub off otherwise!

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Take off the tops – you will cover these separately. Lightly cover the surface with spray adhesive  and slowly attach the fabric, leaving the extra fabric hanging over the top and bottom. Next, you’re going to glue the fabric into the inside of the box and to the bottom. Using your scissors, make small slits from the edge of the fabric into where the fabric meets the box about one inch apart. Do this for both the top and bottom. Even if the fabric is stretchy, gluing down the edges is difficult without these slits. Spray the adhesive into top, inside edge of the box all the way around and smooth the slitted pieces of fabric down onto the adhesive. Use the same technique for the bottom.

Repeat for all tiers.

Next, you’ll need to use your scissors to cut holes where the holes in your boxes are – the large hole in one and the long slit in the other. Leave space for the excess fabric to fold inside like you did with the other edges. For the edges of the tops, use the same technique as before, cutting slits to glue it inside. You will likely notice that the fabric bunches up around the edges, regardless of this slit-and-glue technique. This is pretty unavoidable for a round top. After everything is finished, you can add embellishments to the sides to cover up this imperfection.

When everything is glued down and glued to the insides, you can use a glue gun (the heavier duty, the better) to glue the smaller tier to the larger tier, ensuring that is centered. It will stick but can come apart if you pull on it too much, so be careful when moving it.

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Then you can start adding embellishments! I used a piece of tulle to tie around the middle into a knot, cut the ends and added a broach to the center of it. My coworker also found this great rhinestone ribbon that you can easily cut to be the correct size, so we sprayed it with adhesive and placed it around the edges of the tops and around the slit in the top to hide any imperfections.

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And with that, it’s finished! She was really happy with the outcome, and this tutorial allows you to simply take the top off to get the cards out, making things a little easier. It’s fragile but reusable for many years to come!

Girl Scout Tagalong Cookie Truffles

IMG_3741 Who doesn’t love Girl Scout cookies, right? I grew up as a Girl Scout, so I’d always try to beg my mom to buy enough to survive on for the rest of the year. Even know, during Girl Scout cookie season, I will always have a cookie-stocked pantry. Hence the dawn of baking with Girl Scout cookies. Of all the things I could do with them, I decided to make truffles.

This recipe only makes ten truffles, so double up if you want more!

IMG_3697 You’ll need:
6 or more Tagalong cookies (or knockoffs)
1/4 cup peanut butter
Bar of baking chocolate
2 1/2 ounces cream cheese

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First, grind up the cookies in a food processor. Move the mixture to a bowl and use the back of a spoon to crush any remaining crunchy pieces. Because of the soft chocolate coating, the cookies would not grind very finely in my ancient food processor. Add in approximately 1/4 cup of peanut butter and 2 1/2 ounces of cream cheese. Use a spoon or spatula to mix everything together. It should be somewhat smooth but still thick.

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Form balls with your hands and place them on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper or aluminum foil. Then melt the bar of baking chocolate according the instructions on the package. Dip each ball into the chocolate and lay back on the cookie sheet. Refrigerate until the chocolate has solidified.

While their cooling, microwave a tablespoon of peanut butter in a small bowl. 30 seconds is all you need. Mix it well. It should be very thin. Using a spoon, gently pour a little bit of the peanut butter over the truffles and put them back in the refrigerator.

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Ta-da! All done and they taste delicious…obviously, since they’re made with Girl Scout cookies.

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