It was such a beautiful day out at Line Creek with these lovely little sprites!! Julia is super helpful and full of sunshine and Avery is very interested in everything and quite a thinker. They loved dressing up and even though Julia fell in the creek at the end, she stopped crying so quickly and was a good sport about it! Love these girls.
Well this was a twist for me: we started out our session at Line Creek Nature Center in Peachtree City, only to return to our cars halfway through (for an outfit change) and find my clients’ car window smashed and most of their valuables gone, and the police already waiting for us–other people had also had their cars broken into and it literally happened within ten minutes of us walking down the trail. So, lots of sad faces from them and angry faces from me and we decided to finish another day. In the meantime I made a couple flower crowns and discovered that it’s AWESOME!!! and Lauren was super excited to wear them at the re-shoot. A week later, we met up at Turnipseed Nursery and spent a lovely–albeit chilly–hour amongst the daffodils and new leaves. I can’t wait to meet their little girl when she comes in April! These two are super patient, kind people–as evidenced by the fact that they’re both teachers and also handled the whole mess with their car with grace and good humor–and will be awesome parents.
This is going to be a slightly different sort of post because it’s not so much a recipe so much as an example of a yummy sandwich made with my special spice mix and the list of ingredients for the spice mix. The story behind this particular mix of spices is that when my bestie’s youngest sister got married, they gave out a bottle of spices (as favors) to each guest; it was a spice mix that her dad always has on the table for them to use. They’re South African, so they don’t just dump salt and pepper on everything and consider it done like Americans do lol. I will admit that I am a huge fan of garlic pepper and Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning but it is REALLY salty and I don’t like it on meat–I mostly put it in chicken pot pie and chicken soup.
Anyways, this mixture is AMAZING on meats and sandwiches–I also love using it on burgers–and when I recreated it for myself (after I used up what they’d given me) I made a new batch and added a couple more ingredients to it to really tailor it to my taste, and now I’m passing it on to you! I’m going to put a relatively small quantity so that you can mix it together and tweak it to your own palate before filling a big bottle. Yum!!!
HAPPY SPICE MIX
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp + 1/8 tsp garlic flakes
- 1/2 tsp + 1/8 tsp curry
- 1/4 tsp coriander
- 1/4 tsp lemon pepper
- 1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp thyme
- 1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp oregano
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
Mix them all together in a bowl and then pour into desired dispenser.
The second thing I’m going to share here is how to make a killer ham + cheese (or in my case, turkey + cheese) sandwich. Seriously. You’re going to wonder why you’ve been doing it wrong all these years.
- 4 slices honey-smoked turkey or ham
- 3 slices havarti cheese
- 1 slice provolone or mozzarella
- 1 slice pepperjack
- Italian herb bread (I really need to post the recipe!!)
- dried onion flakes
- cream cheese
- Spread cream cheese onto 2 slices of Italian herb bread.
- Drizzle honey over each and then sprinkle with onion flakes.
- Shake some Happy Spice Mix over it all.
- Place pepperjack & provolone (or mozzarella) cheese onto slices, then follow up with turkey or ham. Put havarti on last, follow up with more Happy Spice Mix if desired.
- Toast in a toaster oven for 5-10 minutes or until cheese is all melty and bread is toasty and crispy. Allow to cool a bit before noshing.
- You’re welcome. 🙂
Need to cook for a crowd? Want them to be impressed? Don’t have a lot of time? Than this lasagna recipe is for YOU. It only takes about 20-25 minutes of easy prep (less if you multi-task), has yummy pepperonis in it and only bakes for 20 minutes and is ready to serve! Note: get the lasagna noodles that are not pre-cooked or oven-ready.
LASAGNA (SERVES 8-10)
- 2 pounds turkey sausage
- 1 24 or 28 oz jar spaghetti sauce (I like chunky vegetable)
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 eggs (beaten)
- 2 15oz cartons of ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- 1.5 tbsp parsley flakes
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 box of uncooked lasagna
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella
- 1 7oz jar sliced mushrooms & mushroom pieces
- 1 3.5oz pack sliced pepperoni
- Put a large pot of water on the stove and turn heat to high to start heating up the water. If you want to save time, put the pasta in before you move on to step #2, since the pasta will need 10-12 minutes to cook.
- Brown sausage and break up so that it’s crumbly, then drain.
I couldn’t find actual turkey sausage, so I used plain ground turkey and added extra Italian seasoning, garlic pepper & Tony Chachere’s seasoning. Hopefully you can just find turkey sausage!
- Pour sausage into a bowl, add spaghetti sauce, water and mushrooms and mix together. Set aside.
- In another bowl, beat eggs, add ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, parsley, oregano, and pepper and stir til blended. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Drain noodles, and then either leave in the colander or place back into pot for easy retrieval. Place the first layer of noodles into a 9×13 pan. My pan was rather narrow so only 3 fit in each layer but many pans can accommodate 4 noodles wide.
- Put a couple spoonfuls of the cheese mix onto the noodles and spread evenly, followed by a generous scoop of the meat sauce. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over it and then add a few pepperonis (spaced a couple inches apart–you’ll want to pack them in when you get to the top layer).
- Repeat layering of noodles, cheese, meat sauce, mozzarella cheese and pepperonis until all noodles are gone, then put all the remaining pepperonis on top.
- Place lasagna on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, cover with foil to keep cheese from burning, and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes. If you have a convection oven like I do, you probably will only need 20 minutes of baking time total.
- Remove from oven, allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, then serve. So yum! I brought it plus my pull-it bread (recipe here) to my lovely friends Kaye & Jon’s house on move-in day for their first meal in their new home! Together with Jon’s parents, there were five of us pigging out (while my husband installed a ceiling fan because he doesn’t like lasagna). Both the bread and lasagna got many thumbs up! Love feeding a crowd 🙂
I have been wanting for years to make my Nana’s amazing pull-apart rolls and the recipe (which I got from my mom) that I had just did NOT work. The last time I tried to make it was around 2005 or 2006, and it pretty much tasted entirely of yeast. Gross. I asked my mom and a couple of my cousins if they had any other versions of the recipe, and theirs was the same as mine. So I just figured I’d never have Nana’s special bread again (although she did make a mean monkey bread, which is pretty easy to do, so there is that). Enter my amazing Aunt Jane. She dug around for a couple days and found the original typewritten copy (dictated by Nana, typed by Pappaw using his trusty typewriter and edited with clarifications when he thought it necessary), took a photo of it with her phone and texted it to me and I made it today!!
Reading through the recipe brought back so many memories–my sister and me playing with Pappaw’s typewriter, Pappaw typing up his sermons and putting on his ‘good hair’ for church (lol), us making Jell-o in the kitchen with Nana (always mixing it in Mason bell jars), picking vegetables in the backyard, and of course Nana serving this yummy bread every Christmas. I can still see all my cousins around the table and remember the fun times we had! I never laugh so hard as I do when I’m with my cousins. And at the end of those meals, there was never ANY bread left. If you were even able to get second helping of it that was a bonus. In the photo of the recipe isn’t it sweet that Nana’s little signature is at the bottom? :o)
Moving on! If you’ve baked with yeast before you know that there are a ton of instructions and temperatures and measurements that need to be exact as possible…and I personally have not liked any of the yeast breads I’ve made by hand (thank God for my breadmaker!), other than Amish Friendship Bread, which grows its own yeast, so I was a bit worried about getting this one right. In the recipe Nana used some of her own vernacular (“don’t put too many pieces in but don’t put too few–you’ll know how many to do so that it’s just right” lol) and some of the measurements (such as saying a cube of butter instead of a stick of butter) can be confusing, so I’m going to try and make everything as simple and clear as possible so that you can make this recipe too! It is actually real easy and so very worth it. :o)
***FYI before you get started–you have to start this bread in the evening, let it sit in the fridge overnight and then bake it the next day, so don’t start in the afternoon and think it’ll be ready for dinner–it’s just not that kinda bread. It IS easy to make, but it is definitely a bread dough that values alone time for personal growth (HA!).
PULL-IT BREAD (YIELD: Three 8-inch pans of bread)
- 1 cup milk
- 3/4 cup butter (cold is fine)
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 1/4 tsp yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1 tsp sugar
- 3 eggs
- 4 cups sifted flour
- 3/4 cup butter
- sesame seeds
1. In a small pot, scald the milk (ie, heat until it’s almost boiling). Pour into a medium-sized bowl and add 3/4 cup butter, 1 1/2 tsp salt, a 1/2 cup sugar, and stir until blended. Note: the heat of the milk will help dissolve the sugar & salt, melt the butter and hold it all together.
2. While the milk mix cools, start your yeast in another small bowl or measuring cup. Mix warm water (between 110 and 120 degrees–use a candy thermometer to get the temp right!!) with the 1 tsp of sugar and stir until dissolved, then add the yeast. Stir again and allow to sit and foam up for 5-10 minutes. If you look at the photo below, the very bottom (slightly darker) portion of the yeast is the original part that I mixed together, and everything above it is the risen-up yeast.
3. Pour risen yeast into the bowl with the milk mix and stir til blended.
4. In another separate bowl, beat 3 eggs until foamy. I recommend a hand mixer.
5. Add eggs into the milk mix and stir gently until blended. 6. Add 4 cups of sifted flour into the bowl and gently stir until evenly mixed. It will be very lumpy. I also dropped accidentally dropped a bunch of flour and before I could wipe it up, Zippy snarfed it right up off the floor….wouldn’t have thought plain dry flour would be tasty…course he also eats leaves and turds so who am I to question such a discerning palate?
7. Cover bowl (with a towel or lightweight baking cloth) and place somewhere warm and let it rise until it doubles in size, around 30 minutes to an hour. I put my bowl on my dining room table and placed a space heater near it and found that it didn’t rise very much over the course of an hour, so I moved the towel back a little bit so some air could get in and out of the bowl and then it doubled up in about 30 minutes. Look at that nice rise!
8. Stir the dough back down, cover and place in the fridge overnight.
9. DAY 2. Take 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup) and use some of it to grease 3 8-inch cake pans. You can melt it if you like but I find it easier and way less messy to just peel the wrapper back and rub the flat end all over the pans. Make sure you get every inch greased up. A thick layer is fine.
10. Take a third of the dough out of the fridge and place it on a lightly floured surface–I prefer parchment paper taped to the counter. Gently roll the dough into a ball and then hold it in your hand and pat it lightly into a flat disc til it’s about a half inch thick. Place back onto floured surface and use your hands to flatten and spread it out. It will probably be around 9-12 inches across. Cut into strips that are about a 1/2 inch wide.
11. Melt the remainder of the butter (plus another 1/4 cup), then pour into a shallow pan. At this point the doggies are getting real interested in what I’m up to. Noses a-sniffing!
12. Dip a strip of dough into the melted butter, then starting from the middle of the cake pan, make a spiral in the middle, and continue to add each of the other strips (dipping them in butter first) around it to make one big spiral. Each time you add a new strip, press the end of it onto the end of the previous strip to make a continuous rope. Do not squeeze them too close together and when you get close to the outer edge of the pan, make sure to leave a bit of a space around the outermost edge–you want room for the dough to rise. Repeat the process to fill the other two pans. Pour any remaining melted butter over each pan so that the top of each spiral is evenly coated. I think the heat of the butter helps the dough to rise but I’m no scientist. Sprinkle sesame seeds onto each spiral.
13. Put the pans somewhere warm, cover with a light cloth, and allow to rise for 1.5 to 2 hours. I put mine in my dining room, stuck a space heater about 2 feet away from them (if it has multiple settings, put it on medium or high and make sure it’s no closer than 2 feet away) and left a little gap in the towel on top of each pan so that air could circulate under it. This is called ‘proofing’. Nana liked to put her dough to proof in her laundry room (which adjoined her kitchen) while the dryer was going lol. In my case, the dining room had some sunshiney warmth coming in, the space heater provided a warm breeze and I put up gates in the doorways so that my dogs couldn’t mess with my little masterpieces. The dough should rise until it is near to the top edges of the pan. I had to shift my pans around so that they all got air from the space heater equally. By the way, isn’t my baking towel cute? It’s about as thin as muslin and perfect for proofing.
See the difference before & after the dough rose? The spirals are fatter and taller.
14. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put the pans on the middle rack and bake for 15 minutes or till very light gold and the middle is not spongy (stick a toothpick in the middle and make sure it comes in and out both easily and cleanly). The dough will have come all the way to the top or higher than the edge of the pan. If you have a convection oven, start checking on it at around the 11 minute mark to make sure it doesn’t get burnt.
15. Allow to cool, then either serve straight from the pan or flip it over onto a plate to serve. It doesn’t need any more butter at this point (HA! we went through almost 4 sticks) but it’s tasty with jam and cinnamon, according to Nana. This is SUCH yummy bread–I brought it to dinner with 4 other people and even though I was serving some very filling lasagna, we still ate two of the three pans of bread!
15. LEFTOVERS: Wrap in plastic wrap (I like press n seal), then foil, then place in a ziploc bag and freeze. When you want to serve the bread, remove from the freezer, take off the plastic & foil wraps (duh) and place on folded foil and bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees. You do not have to thaw it before putting it into the oven.
Willow Kate is the fourth little girl in this family and the third one whose baby photos I’ve done! She was a stubborn one but once we listened to what she was telling us (I like to be wrapped up, please let me lay on pillows) we got some great photos. And her big sisters are having so much fun taking care of baby! Such sweet girls.
Ashley & I went to high school together and she was always the sunniest, kindest person and I loved seeing her perform in school plays. Well, 17 years later she’s still delightful and has the sweetest family! I love seeing them every year and watching little Miss A grow up–isn’t she so sassy? Such a little doll. It’s so special working with families through the years!
Finally getting around to posting this sweet family’s session! It was a bitter cold morning but they were all smiles. And can you believe Little Miss never complained or whined?? We tried to let her run around to warm up and she was just all smiles the whole time. It was such fun to work with her and her lovely parents. What a doll and wonderful family!!!
Hey, there! If you’ve landed on this page, chances are you either know me or know somebody who has raved about the benefits of elderberry syrup. Increasingly in scientific studies elderberry has been proven to shorten the duration of or prevent the occurrence of colds and has also been shown to be effective against flu. Pregnant & breastfeeding women should only take elderberry after consulting with their doctor and you should NEVER give it to children under age one without consulting with their pediatrician (and only the commercial, non-honey based elderberry syrup for infants under 12 months). Here are a couple articles if you have spare time on your hands and like to read:
Research demonstrates that elderberry extract has particular immune-modulating and antioxidant properties that neutralize the activity of viruses so they can no longer enter the cell and replicate. The berries also contain vitamins A and C, and the flavonoids quercetin, anthocyanin and rutin, all of which boost immune function.
My mom and I started making elderberry syrup when we realized that buying the pre-made stuff was going to put us in debt. Seriously–it’s like $14-20 for a bottle that will last one person maybe a week at the most (2 or 3 days if they’re actually sick). Most bottles–whether you get the Sambucil or some other brand–contain around 15-16 teaspoons.
An adult dosage (of the commercial elderberry syrup) is 2 tsp and if you’re sick, you take it every 3-4 hours. Are there multiple people in your family who would be taking it too? You do the math. Crazy. So, now I make it and give it to my parents whenever Dad goes through all of it. I do sell the syrup to local friends and family, but if you don’t live near me (or don’t know me), I’m going to share my special syrup recipe with you. YOU’RE WELCOME. After I put the recipe in here, I’m going to list at the bottom WHY you want to put the different ingredients in there and what the benefits are of each ingredient. Again, you’re welcome :).
ELDERBERRY SYRUP RECIPE (yield: 4-5 pints)
- 3/4 cup dried elderberries (fresh elderberries are poisonous)
- 5 cups water
- 2 Tbsp fresh ginger
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- half of a lemon (a whole lemon if you like things tart)
- 1/2 cup pomegranate arils and optional seasonal ingredients: 1/2 cup rhubarb, 1/2 cup blueberries or 1/3 cup cranberries (whichever are in season and suit your taste preferences…I tend to do all three to really pack an antioxidant punch…and only 1/3 cup of cranberries because they are way sour)
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups raw local honey
- 1/3 cup Madhava Organic Very Raw Unfiltered honey (from Brazil)**
**WHY Madhava Very Raw Unfiltered honey? Its thickness and crystalized sugars really improve the flavor of the syrup. The couple times when I couldn’t find any at the store (3 different stores, actually) and left it out I had to double the amount of the other honey to make up for it. Trust me when I say it’s worth the money (it’s about $10 a jar) but you DO want the majority of the raw honey to be local honey so that you’ll get the allergy benefits of it, so rather than go broke, use the prescribed amount of Madhava and do local honey for the rest. It’s available at Walmart, Kroger, online at Amazon and most major grocery store chains.** I keep a separate jar for snacks :oD Here’s a photo of what it looks like:
- Pour all ingredients EXCEPT the honey into a large pot. Stir ingredients to make sure cloves & cinnamon disperse throughout the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let simmer for one hour. Do not overheat or stuff will burn to the bottom of the pot. Liquid should reduce down a bit. If you want it to be more potent (and make less jars overall), let it simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours.
- Carefully (this is where I tend to burn myself) pour half of the mixture into a blender and puree until smooth. Small seeds from the arils & random debris will be present–leave them in there for the time being. Pour the pureed syrup into a bowl and then pour the remaining mixture from the pot into the blender and puree it as well. Pour everything back into the pot and cook on medium heat for five minutes.
- Remove from heat. Mixture will be thick and will taste wretched…like the most sour, green blackberries you’ve ever had. Don’t worry, that’s normal. It’s disgusting until you add the liquid goodness that is honey. It’ll be especially bitter if you put the full lemon in it and opted for cranberries but no blueberries.
- Place a mesh strainer over a large bowl and slowly pour a third of the liquid through the strainer into the bowl. Use a spoon to scrape the bottom of the strainer as needed and help press the syrup through it. Repeat with remaining 2/3 of the mixture. Press until there’s as little liquid left in the strainer as possible. Throw away the junk that’s in the strainer (it will mostly be seeds and small debris). You should have about 1/2to 1 cup of junk to throw away.
- Return the (now thickened) syrup to the pot on the stove and cook on low heat for five minutes. Add the Madhava honey into the pot and stir until completely dissolved. Add in remaining 1 1/2 cups of local honey, and stir until blended. Keep on low heat until everything is dissolved and blended before turning it off. The syrup should be a little thicker than whole milk. Get out a funnel to help pour the syrup into jars.
- Pour syrup into pint-size jars, twist lids tight to seal, allow to cool completely and then store in fridge. Since the syrup just came off the stove, it’ll be really hot, which is good because it’ll help you get a good seal in the jars and bad because it will make it easy to burn yourself and hard to handle the jars once they’re full. Fun tip: you can also make popsicle-lozenges by pouring the syrup into ice cube trays and freezing it. Then take one out and pop it in your mouth when you have a sore throat :). Syrup will last a couple months in the fridge as long as it gets shaken up every so often and stays air-tight. You want to shake it up every time you take some so that everything stays mixed and also to push any built-up condensation back into the syrup. You can also freeze the extra syrup (use a plastic bottle–don’t be a total dummy) and when ready to use, let it thaw out naturally–do NOT put it in the microwave or on the stove to thaw it. You don’t want to heat the honey up and kill off the good stuff in it. REGARDLESS OF HOW SOON YOU ARE PLANNING TO USE IT, YOU MUST STORE THIS STUFF IN THE FRIDGE OR FREEZER. YOU JUST MADE IT SO YOU KNOW THERE ARE NO PRESERVATIVES IN IT. Don’t waste the goodness by letting it sit out and grow stuff or turn into bootleg liquor!! If you don’t like how thick it is, mix a little water into it and shake it up really good.
- ELDERBERRY SYRUP DOSAGE AMOUNT: Children: 1/2 to 1 tsp daily. (1/2 tsp for regular vitamin use, 1 tsp daily if they have allergies or if it’s cold & flu season). If they catch a cold or something else, they can take the 1/2 tsp of syrup every 3-4 hours until symptoms are gone. If they catch any strain of the FLU, do 1 tsp every 3-4 hours until not only symptoms are gone but they also have been fever-free for 48 hours. Adults: 1/2 to 1 Tbsp daily (1/2 tbsp for regular daily vitamin use, 1 tbsp for allergies or cold & flu season). Adults can also increase to 1/2 Tbsp every 3-4 hours for non-flu illnesses and 1 Tbsp every 3-4 hours for any strain of flu.
DISCLAIMER: This should go without saying but you absolutely CANNOT give this syrup to kids under age 1–they can’t eat honey because there is a huge risk of botulism for babies, even more so with raw honey AND you need to what, if any, food allergies they have (just because YOU are not allergic to something doesn’t mean they aren’t allergic). If you have an infant 6 months to a year old and really want to give them elderberry, CHECK WITH THEIR PEDIATRICIAN FIRST and then buy the dry capsules of elderberry (ie, the supplement form), bust one open and mix HALF of it into milk or baby food. Elderberry can cause young immune systems to spike and drop, and in the case of viruses, this can be deadly. Many doctors do not know much about elderberry, so they will most likely say not to use it, but if your pediatrician is familiar with it you’ll get an educated answer regarding whether you can give it to your child based on their medical history and possibly advice as to dosage. Again, you don’t want to shock their immune system and you HAVE to figure out all their food allergies before giving them any of this stuff. You may also look into elderflower or roiboos tea.
Various benefits of each ingredient:
- ELDERBERRIES: Elderberry is used for the flu (influenza), H1N1 swine flu, cold & allergies, and boosting the immune system. It is also used for sinus pain, back and leg pain (sciatica), nerve pain (neuralgia), and chronic fatigue syndrome.
- HONEY: Healthy weight management, counters pollen allergies, is a natural energy source, antioxidant powerhouse, sleep promoter, wound and ulcer healer, and natural cough syrup. Why local honey? Bees jump from one flower & plant to the next and end up covered in pollen spores, which are then transferred to their honey. Eating that honey — even just a spoonful a day — can build up immunity through gradual exposure to the local allergens that make life so miserable for allergy sufferers.
- GINGER ROOT: Soothe digestive disturbances, alleviate nausea, reduce fever, calm coughing and respiratory troubles, stimulate the circulatory system, relieve muscle aches and pain, emerging evidence shows it helps lower cholesterol, and Japanese research has found ginger is effective in lowering blood pressure and cancer risk.
- LEMONS: health benefits of lemon include treatment of indigestion, constipation, dental problems, throat infections, fever, internal bleeding, rheumatism, burns, obesity, respiratory disorders, cholera, and high blood pressure, while it also benefits your hair and skin. Lemons help to strengthen your immune system, cleanse your stomach, and are considered a blood purifier, it is also useful treatment for kidney stones, reducing strokes, and lowering body temperature.
- POMEGRANATE: Research shows that pomegranates can help prevent or treat various disease risk factors, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, oxidative stress, hyperglycemia and inflammation. Pomegranates have even been shown to provide anti-carcinogenic effects. They’re loaded with fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K and potassium.
- CINNAMON: High source of antioxidants, contains anti-inflammatory properties, protects heart health, fights diabetes, helps defend against cognitive decline & protects brain function, protects dental health & freshens breath naturally.
- CLOVES: Temporarily treat a toothache, relieve upper respiratory infections, reduce inflammation, improve digestion.
- CRANBERRIES: The nutrients in cranberries have been linked to a lower risk of urinary tract infections, prevention of certain types of cancer, improved immune function, and decreased blood pressure.
- RHUBARB: Every serving of rhubarb provides 45% of the daily value in vitamin K, which supports healthy bone growth and can limit neuronal damage in the brain, even to the point of Alzheimer’s prevention.
- BLUEBERRIES: The fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and phytonutrient content in blueberries supports heart health. The absence of cholesterol from blueberries is also beneficial to the heart. Fiber content helps to reduce the total amount of cholesterol in the blood and decrease the risk of heart disease. And they balance the nastiness of the cranberries.
(yield: 60-70 square lego gummies**)
- 1 1/2 cup cold elderberry syrup
- 1/4 cup + 1/8 cup unflavored gelatin
- 1/3 cup of either tart cherry concentrate (if you want it thicker) OR cherry juice or a healthy, natural juice blend–I like Aldi’s Black Cherry Plum juice the best (no added sugar and doesn’t taste like cherry lollipops). Avoid artificial sugars, “filtered juice drinks” or any with ingredients in them that you aren’t familiar with–these are going to be more sugar and water than they are fruit.
- In a large measuring cup, mix cold elderberry syrup with 1/4 cup of gelatin, adding gelatin in a spoonful at a time. Add a little at a time until mixed–if you dump it all in at once, it will turn into a big gross lump and you’ll have to throw it out. Use a fork to whisk until gelatin is dissolved, then add more, and repeat.
- In a separate cup, heat the juice for 20-30 seconds in the microwave, then add to syrup & gelatin mix, stir until mixed. Mix in the last 1/8 cup of gelatin and stir until dissolved. The mixture will appear grainy but should not have lumps in it. It will have the consistency of applesauce.
- Pour into lego molds. Do not let it overflow the top of the molds. If there are gaps in the molds or if it’s really lumpy, place molds one at a time in the microwave and heat in 20 second bursts until it levels out in each mold. Some people prefer to use little medicine droppers to get it into the molds but I found that takes entirely too long and makes me have to reheat it again and again (which is not good because it kills the healthy stuff in the honey). Each “lego” takes about one spoonful (cereal spoons, not serving spoons) of syrup. I bought a bunch of the lego molds–specifically the light blue & red molds on the second row of the picture–and these make lego bricks that are about a centimeter thick, 2 inches long x 1 inch wide and have 10 legos to a mold tray. You should be able to easily fill 3 trays and a quarter to half of a 4 tray. Each lego is about 1 to 1.5 tablespoons of syrup.
- You may want to let them firm up on the counter for a few minutes to make transferring them to the fridge easier. I put all of my molds on a cookie sheet each time and just stick the whole thing on the top shelf in my fridge. Place the trays in the fridge and let them set up for 3-4 hours.
- Pop legos out of the molds and slice each one in half so that they are all square legos. Store in a ziploc bag in the fridge. If you see lots of condensation in the bag after a day or two, transfer them to a new bag.
- DOSAGE INFO: With the mixture of gelatin & cherry juice added to it, ONE square gummie = a little more than 1 tsp of elderberry, so a child’s dosage is a half gummie per day for daily vitamins, a whole square gummie if they have allergies OR if it’s cold & flu season. An adult dosage is 1 gummie per day for regular vitamin use, 2 gummies if you have allergies or it’s cold & flu season. As with the syrup, you can increase to a dose every 3-4 hours if you’re sick.
I personally prefer just taking the syrup, but that’s because it feels good in my throat and I’m not a huge fan of cherries–these gummies are GREAT for kids and are easier to administer than the syrup. My 18-month-old nephew gives them two sticky thumbs up! He thinks they’re candy. 🙂 His older sister does not agree (she loved them in November but then decided in December that she didn’t like them anymore because it was no longer November. Preschool logic at its finest). Whether you go with the gummies or the syrup, your family will be really blessed by these. Happy cooking and good health to you!!