Tag Archives: candy

New Year’s Eve at Home

As 2012 comes to a close tonight, I’m looking forward to celebrating with friends at home tonight.  I’ve enjoyed New Year’s Eve a number of ways in the past- sometimes visiting friends, sometimes hosting parties at home, and sometimes hanging out on the couch eating Chinese food and waiting to see the ball drop on tv.  This year, we’re enjoying the evening at home with M and O, and a dear friend of mine and her two girls.  I won’t be making fancy things, or coming up with signature drinks.  Instead, we’ll have some kid-friendly snacks (snacks as a meal are a New Year’s Eve guilty pleasure tradition for me), maybe in our pajamas, and see which of the grown-ups is snoring first.

I had a good year here at Diana’s Dishes, and it seemed fitting to celebrate that as I look forward to a better one in 2013.  A lot of posts were competing for popularity on here, but these are the top ten as determined by my readers.

soft pretzel#10 Soft Pretzels

I made these for day 6 of my Summer Olympics feature, showing foods from countries that have hosted the Summer Games.  These soft pretzels, for Munich, are easier than they look and incredibly delicious.

cannoli cupcake

#9  Cannoli Cupcakes

What happens when the birthday girl loves cannolis and the baker can’t find her cannoli forms?  These cannoli cupcakes, which made a delicious dessert for M’s eighth birthday.

barbecue sauce

#8  Homemade Barbecue Sauce

I made a huge batch of this and put it in jars for both of my dads, and for Lane as a Father’s Day gift and it met with rave reviews. Definitely man-approved.

monster cookies (1280x856)

#7 One Bowl Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chcolate Chip M&M Cookies

We had absolutely no trouble working our way quickly through four dozen of these easy one-bowl cookies.


#6  Basic Belgian Waffles

Ditch the boxed mix and make fresh waffles.  These are amazing with fruit and whipped cream or butter and syrup.  Make a big batch and freeze them for another day!

arroz con pollo

#5 Cheater’s Arroz con Pollo

An amazingly easy chicken and rice dish, simplifying a classic.


#4 French Onion Stuffed Mushrooms

There are hardly words for how delicious these are.  Oh, and if you were wondering how “Lane” got his nickname, this would be an entertaining post to read.


#3  Milk Chocolate Whisky Marshmallow Candied Bacon Bark

There are hardly words for how absolutely amazing this stuff is.  I made it for a New Year’s Eve party last year, and a year later, we’re still talking about it.

smores bars

#2  S’mores Bars

When I ask if I can bring anything to a party, the answer now is almost always “yes, those amazing s’mores bars.”  Every bit as delicious as traditional s’mores, but without the open flame and sticks.

honey ginger chicken wing

# 1  Honey Ginger Baked Chicken Wings

Great for a snack anytime, super for a party and easy on your waistline since they’re baked, not fried.  Isn’t the Super Bowl coming up?

While I completely enjoyed every one of the things in my top ten as determined by my readers, there were a few things that were my personal favorites that didn’t make the list.  I’d like to take a moment and give these ten recipes the love they deserve, in no particular order.

high heel cupcake 2

The high heel cupcakes I made for my birthday.  Time consuming? Yes.  Worth it? Absolutely.  We’re still talking about these!


The homemade Cookie Puss ice cream cake replica I made for Lane’s birthday.  This was worth the effort, and I solved the mystery of how to make amazing ice cream cake cookie crunchies.

perry the platypus cake

The Perry the Platypus cake I made for O’s birthday.  Perry starts out as a pound cake!

fettucine alfredo

Fettucini Alfredo, for my grandmother’s 80th birthday.  It turned out to be her final birthday, and I’m glad I got a chance to make her one of her favorite dishes.


The chicken sandwich that was so good, it changed my life.

bacon roses

Roses, made out of bacon.  I’m sure no further explanation is necessary.

blue moon cupcake

Blue Moon beer cupcakes to celebrate the blue moon we had in August.  Hope you made it count!

apple crumble pieApple crumble pie we made after apple picking.  It was the first project I took on with Chef M and Chef O, and I can still hear O declaring his love for the “apple peeler machine.”

cranberry apple sangriaCranberry Apple Sangria.  This delicious (and easy) beverage saved my sanity this holiday season.

cheesecake3Classic cheesecake.  I brought this for dessert the first time I met Lane’s family and it was enjoyed by all.

Looking through the twenty posts above has provided me with a great look back at 2012, and I can’t wait to share the excitement of 2013 with all of you.  Happy New Year!

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The Lull

This is that odd time of year when no one seems to know what to do with themselves until New Year’s Eve.  I admit, I’m guilty of being in a post-holiday pre-new year fog myself.  For some reason, I don’t mind leaving the tree up for a little while and enjoying the lights on the house for a little while longer but the rest of the holiday decorations are taken down in a hurry.  I don’t leave out the red and green candles, or the holiday dish towels, and my grandmother’s Christmas dishes although beautiful, return to the basement almost immediately.  After cooking for dinner with friends, Yule dinner, baking for Christmas, cooking for Christmas morning and making Christmas dinner I’ve had enough of the kitchen for a while. Yet, I want to play with the new pressure canner Santa left for me under the tree and make a nice stew in my new enameled cast iron Dutch oven.  As you can see, the post-holiday fog never lasts long for me.

I say all of this because I understand if the last thing you want to see is red or green food, or anything great for holiday treat gift-giving.  I completely understand if you have no interest because the easy candied popcorn I’m sharing today was made for a holiday movie watching session with M and O.  If you’re still interested, I will warn you that this popcorn goes fast.  It’s definitely a sweet treat, and it is a little sticky but it’s worth getting past that.  I’m sure it’s obvious, but you’re not obligated to make this in red and green.  If you can find gelatin in whatever color you desire, it will work fine for this.  Need orange popcorn, or purple, or blue for a party?  This is an easy way to make that happen.  Butter the foil on the pans well to avoid sticking.  Now, I’m not going to lie to you- this stuff is going to stick to the pans a little even if you use a dump truck full of butter to butter the pans.  As it bakes in the oven and you turn it every five minutes or so, it sticks less as the condensed milk sets.  I used air-popped popcorn for this, but you could use the stuff you microwave if you like.  Whatever kind of popcorn you use, be sure to remove any un-popped kernels before you toss the popcorn with the coating.  M and O devoured this and that was after eating a huge lunch.  I strongly advise making one color at a time, managing two pans of this at a time almost caused me to burn one batch entirely.

colored popcorn

Easy Candied Popcorn


  • 12 cups popped popcorn
  • 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 oz. package any flavor gelatin (I used cherry and lime Jello to make the red and green)


Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a large shallow pan with heavy aluminum foil, extending the foil over the edges of the pan.

Butter the aluminum foil and spread the popped popcorn onto the pan.  Keep the popcorn warm in the oven while you prepare the candy coating.

Combine the sweetened condensed milk and gelatin in a medium saucepan.

Heat and stir over low heat until the mixture thickens slightly and is bubbly, 4-5 minutes.

Pour the milk mixture over the popcorn and stir the popcorn gently to coat it with the mixture.

Bake for 20 minutes, turning the popcorn with a long-handled wooden spoon every 5 minutes.

Remove from the oven and turn out the popcorn onto a large piece of heavily buttered aluminum foil.

Allow popcorn to cool before breaking it into clusters or pieces.

Makes 12 cups.

Source:   A Mom Not a Professional or a Perfectionist, originally from Eagle

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Easter Day

Happy Easter to my readers who celebrate, and happy Passover to some of my readers as well.  I personally celebrate Ostara, which was back in March, but I do celebrate Easter with friends and family.  My family doesn’t have a big get-together for Easter anymore so I’ll be spending Easter with Lane and his family, who graciously invited us.

A few weeks back, Lane decided he wanted to make something that would be appropriate to put in an Easter basket for some kiddos.  I can’t ever just leave it at one thing (kids need variety, right?), so along with the coconut macaroon nests, I made these chow mein noodle bird nests again.  Last year, I made them with some milk chocolate.  This year, I had to change them slightly for a young one who doesn’t eat chocolate.  Last year, I made them on my own.  This year, Lane helped :)

Peanut Butter Chow Mein Noodle Bird Nests


  • 16 oz. chow mein noodles
  • 24 oz. peanut butter melts (I use Wilton, you can also use any other flavor of melt)
  • candy for garnish, preferably in Easter colors (jelly beans, M&M’s, Robin’s Eggs)


Either using a double boiler or in the microwave, melt the candy melts as directed on package.

Put the chow mein noodles in a large bowl.

Pour the melted candy melts over the chow mein noodles and stir to coat the noodles completely.

Line two baking sheets with waxed or parchment paper.

Scoop the noodle mixture onto the prepared baking sheet in 1/2 C. increments.

Using clean hands, shape the noodle mixture into nest shapes.

Top each nest with candy.

Place the baking sheets into the refrigerator until the nests are set.

Makes about 14 nests.


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Marsh Mellow Field

After making milk chocolate bacon bark and beer brittle for New Year’s Eve, I couldn’t stop there.  Blame the overachiever in me, but I figured if bacon and chocolate is good, then combining bacon, whiskey, chocolate, and marshmallow can only be better.  The end result? A heavenly confection combining things that you’d never think would go together, but somehow just work.

My only complaint about this is that after refrigerating it to set, the caramel hardened significantly.  Bringing it back up to room temperature helped, but not entirely.  I’ll have to experiment with this further to see what kind of changes might fix that.  Trust me though, it’s worth a few cavities.

Whiskey, Caramel, Marshmallow and Bacon Bark


for the bacon crumble:

  • 16 oz. good bacon
  • 1/4 C. sugar
  • 4 Tbs. water
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

for the caramel filling:

  • 1 C. sugar
  • 4 Tbs. water
  • 4 Tbs. butter
  • 7 Tbs. heavy cream

for the marshmallow layer:

  • 4 C. mini marshmallows
  • 5 Tbs. whiskey

to assemble:

  • 16 oz. semi-sweet chocolate


Line an 8×8 inch baking dish with parchment paper.

To make the bacon crumble, cook the bacon until crispy, set aside to cool, and then crumble into small pieces.

Heat oven to 300 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Put the sugar and water in a medium saucepan and heat until sugar dissolves.

Toss bacon in the sugar mixture to coat and drain excess using a mesh strainer.

Beat egg white until fluffy and foamy then stir in the black and cayenne pepper. Add the crumbled bacon and toss to coat completely.

Spread coated bacon on prepared baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven, cool, and crumble again.

Melt half of chocolate in a double boiler, or microwave.  Spread into bottom of prepared baking dish.  Put the dish in the freezer to set for five minutes.

Make the marshmallow layer by melting the marshmallows in a large saucepan over medium heat until web-like strands start to form.

Remove from heat and stir in the whiskey.

Pour marshmallow mixture over chocolate layer and spread evenly (spray a spatula with cooking spray to keep the marshmallow from sticking).

Make the caramel filling by combining sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir until sugar dissolves and use a wet pastry brush to remove crystals that form on the sides of the pan.

Once sugar dissolves, increase heat to high. Swirl the pot using the handle (do not stir directly!!) to keep the mixture moving. The mixture will start to bubble after one minute.

When the mixture turns a medium amber color (5-7 minutes), add the butter and cream to the pan.  The mixture will rapidly bubble, this will subside as the mixture cools. Set aside to cool completely, then spread over the marshmallow layer.

Finish the bark by melting the remaining half of chocolate. Spread over the marshmallow layer, then top with the crumbled bacon.

Refrigerate to set, bring to room temperature before cutting.

Source: Endless Simmer


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I don’t often have occasion to use my candy thermometer.  In fact, candy making of most kinds scared me to the point that I wondered why I even had a candy thermometer to begin with.  As it turns out, candy making is really not that frightening as long as you make sure you watch what you’re doing and remember that in some cases, you’re dealing with sugar that has been heated to over 300 degrees. Despite this fear and avoidance, for some reason, I decided to yet again try my hand at making brittle. 

This brittle was really good, and much better than the stuff you buy in boxes from a store. I used Brazil nuts, but peanuts or cashews would work just fine as well. There’s beer in the mixture for this, but only 1/2 a cup, and it must be warm.  So, pour out 1/2 C. of beer and while it’s getting warm, enjoy the rest of the bottle. For the record, I used Blue Moon and that worked just fine. I really recommend a citrusy IPA over anything else.

Beer Brittle


  • 1/2 C. unsalted butter
  • 2 C. sugar
  • 1/2 C. beer (something citrusy works best)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 C. nuts (Brazil, peanuts, cashews) lightly toasted


Lightly grease a baking sheet (with butter, not cooking spray), or use a Silpat.

Put butter, sugar, beer and salt in a large, thick-bottomed saucepan and stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved.

Bring to a boil and cook to hard crack stage (300-310 degrees, not more than 325 degrees).

Remove from heat and stir in nuts.

Pour onto prepared baking sheet, spreading evenly.

Let cool completely, and then crack into bite-size pieces.

Source: adapted from The Homebrew Chef

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