Mom’s Homemade Peanut Brittle

We are back to cooking at Mom’s and this time it is the most delicious homemade peanut brittle you can put your hands on.

If you are a sugar addict like me, this will be right up your candy-coated highway.

This is a great gift for teachers, neighbors, or anyone else that is appreciated. Just grab a $1 tin and fill. It’s the perfect present – yummy and homemade.

Warning, this recipe is not diet, or diabetic friendly.

You need a lot of sugar, and then some corn syrup. Which? I believe is sugar? Ahem.

And let me give you the key to this whole thing.

Timing is most important.

Preparation is second.

Have everything laid out and measured BEFORE you start. This is important. We made two batches at the same time, so above recipe is doubled. But for the purpose of this blog, I will list as one.

Have the super greasy (buttered) pans laid out as well. You don’t want the brittle to stick to the pan at the end (you’ll see why).

Like I said, preparation is key to the whole operation.

So start with water, sugar, and corn syrup (1/2 cup water, 2 cups sugar, 1 cup light Karo syrup). Mix up and cook to boiling. This is the longest part. If you have two people, the other can be measuring out the rest of the recipe so it’s ready.

After it is boiling for a while and the mixture spins a thread, it is time for the peanuts, but not before it does that sew thing. This is a tricky step. In other words, it’s not a drip. It stiffens like a sharp shard. Hold the spoon up, it may drip, then spin. You have to watch real close.

When you see it spin, then you add your raw spanish peanuts – not roasted, salted, or cooked – raw.

Stir the sugar mixture and the peanuts while boiling until it is a golden brown. Did I mention there is a lot of stirring? I noticed the brown more on the edges than in the mixture itself.

Once it is golden brown, remove from heat, and add the last set of ingredients – 1 t vanilla, 2 t of baking soda, and 2 T of butter.

Stir, and watch closely.

The more watchers the better.

The mixture turns, and I missed it. It was that quick, but when it happens (quick!).

Pour into the greasy pans.

Then you want to spread it out with a wooden spoon, so you have thinner peanut brittle (unless you don’t).

Let it cool, and harden (maybe 30mins in a cool room).

Then, lift up the brittle with a knife.

And break into pieces (it’s great anger management).

Then put into bags, or tins for gifts.

Or better yet, eat it like we did.

This is probably the best Peanut Brittle I have ever tasted. Truly…. homemade is the greatest.

I am so glad Jason’s Mom took the time to show us how and pass the tradition on.

Making the List

It’s been quite a while since I had little kids on Christmas morning.

For the last several years, Sydney “the typical teenager” sleeps in until 1-2pm. Our reign of Santa ended when she stopped believing, and of course, in recent years her Christmas mornings have been in Mississippi with her dad.

Christmas morning has been just another morning. No joyful moments of waking up before the sun to see what Santa brought. Hey, it happens. Children grow up. The magic grows up with them and that’s the end. Unless…..

You become a step-mom of two little girls ages four and six who still believe in Santa Claus.


Enchantment returns…….and let me tell you something, it is a treasure trove of goodness to have it back.

Christmas Eve in my family was the night you opened EVERY present under the tree that was wrapped. The next morning Santa would leave his unwrapped gifts around the tree.

That was our tradition.

Jason’s family has different traditions. They open everything Christmas morning, including the wrapped Santa presents.

So that is what we did, except I let them open two presents Christmas Eve (in honor of my tradition).

Bridget, age four, has been my absolute favorite this year. She believes in Santa Claus 100%. She takes everything Santa related with absolute gravity. She got shy and nervous when we took her to see the Santa at Santa Land. She wouldn’t even sit on his lap.

When we told her he wouldn’t bring her anything if she didn’t tell him what she wanted. She got brave enough to stand at the edge of the platform nervously wringing her hands and telling him in a loud clear voice her Christmas wishes. It was the sweetest thing to witness that earnest belief in all it’s sincerity.

Because Santa… real to a four-year old.

Molly, age 6 (and a HALF), is quite different. She knows the Santas in Santa Land are the “fakes”. But she also knows the real Santa sees EVERYTHING..especially when you are bad. I can not even tell you how great that is. Every mis-behavior is reprimanded with an, “Oh my GOSH, Santa sees you! He is going to bring you NOTHING!” Followed by a look of how could you let Santa down like that.

I mean it works……for a few minutes anyway.

I think that’s part of the magic of Christmas. Santa might not come. He might skip your house. Did you really make the list?

Then, there is my favorite ruse.

“Does he know you are HERE? What if he goes to your mom’s house?!?

I was assured Santa got a very detailed letter explaining where the children would be and on what night. He was making two stops one at dad’s and the next night at mom’s. And, didn’t you know? He sees everything and knows where you are.

Oh yeah.

Santa came!

I had fun this year and fun with the new traditions. Coming from a family that never wrapped Santa presents, I used special Santa wrapping paper. I had Jason go out on Christmas Eve to buy labels to use. They couldn’t be like the other presents, right? I mean, we have a six-year old sniffing out fakes. Let’s be real.

I must say, I was impressed. Jason added an empty milk glass and cookie crumbs along with a letter from Santa, in the same writing as the Santa tags. It was genius. I don’t think I ever got a letter from Santa on Christmas day. Apparently, that is another tradition in their family.

I went to bed more excited than the kids. I couldn’t wait to see their lit up faces and their happy grins. Surprisingly enough, they waited until the sun came up.

Christmas Morning. Upper left, Jason and Molly reading Santa's letter. Lower right, the pile of shredded wrap reaches the height of one of our big dogs. Not sure where little Brownie is...

I woke immediately upon hearing their door open (and I’m a heavy sleeper). I heard them enter the living room with whispered excitement. It was a flat two seconds later that they crashed open the bedroom door.

Dad, dad, dad, dad! Come look!

We didn’t move. They ran back to the living room and we listened. Molly was saying, “Oh MY! Oh MY!” Bridget, I couldn’t quite understand. She was saying something over and over in an excited rush.

What she said?

“We made the list! We made the list! We weren’t too bad!”


Before they could tear the presents to bits, we got up to witness the carnage of my all-day wrapping.

It was brutal. It was savage. It was perfect.

I got many hugs and kisses from both girls. They hugged daddy. They hugged puppies. They even hugged each other.

Those were the happiest children in the world…because? They made the list!

Now, hopefully, they will make the list next year.

Santa is watching….

The Not So Nuclear Family’s Christmas Tradition

A new family tradition was born this past weekend in a very simple situational formula. Because if you take a nuclear family, split the Adam (and Eve), blend, divide, and add a little sugar and sprinkles. You would have our “new” family tradition.

Baking cookies with the ex-wife, all the girls, cousins, and some of the in-laws (or ex-in-laws depending on who you are) including mom-in-law fresh out of the hospital.

It started with a suggestion by Jason’s ex-wife; aka, the girls mom, to begin (try) a new family tradition at Christmas. A baking tradition. I was open to it.


Well, the cookies of course the kids of course.

Actually, the cousins are very close and it would be nice to gather and bake (or man the oven if you don’t bake-just sayin’) while everyone has fun doing their thing (like the oven) (or taking pictures). Hey, I am not a baker. I am a burner. I am shocked I was in charge of the oven. More shocked that I could work the ovens. Ahem. Only one parchment paper got singed in the making of these cookies. Heh.

The cookies – all three? four? five? dozen(s) – turned out YUM-a-licious. Thanks to the baking and rolling and stirring skills of others. My reward for loaning my kitchen and hosting the Olympic cookie baking event. COOKIES. Yeah!!

I missed a lot of stuff growing up when my mom and dad divorced; like baking cookies with cousins on my dad’s side. I, also, gained a lot by celebrating holidays with my sister and brother’s grandma and dad, who were not blood related to me, but accepted the new extended family (me and my brother from my mom’s second marriage) with open arms.

Maybe, I have taken the best and worst of divorce from my life as a child to help formulate this new branch of togetherness. I like “new” traditions. I like being open to change. To advance and grow as families just as the world changes, advances, and grows.

Blended. Mixed. Extended. Kindred. We are all in this together…..for life! I don’t think it ends at eighteen. These children graduate from college, marry, and have children of their own. It goes on and on. Might as well make the best of it. We can make the best of it.

Salem, Brownie, and Anna dressed and ready to par-tay.

Once every guest was greeted with raised paws and a nose in the proper place. The furry welcoming committee was sent out of the kitchen. Well, except for one fur friend who found a pretty sweet spot in Grandma’s wheelchair and did not MOVE for hours.

Meet Brownie, the cuddle buddy, renamed BrownieSue.

Syd and Aunt Tricia making magic happen.
The makings of a great tradition
A little black & white editing fun.
The New Nuclear Family of Today.
I never said NORMAL. Look closely there are issues. HA.

After the chaos of atom bomb sprinkle explosions and gel icing shots. The hazemat team cleared the kitchen. The dogs undressed (some of them). All was quiet. We had the remains of DOZENS of cookies, a grandma and her grand dog still on her lap. A four-year old with her extended/blended/kindred family pet.

Sue and BrownieSue

Cookie bake until you drop, then crawl.

All parties have deemed this day tradition worthy and we can’t wait for next year.

Well…maybe Salem can wait. She looks pretty patient.

What you do think? Should we redefine family relationships? Or let it alone?

Dear Trick or Treater

I have a confession to make. When shopping for Halloween candy to give out this year, I had you in mind. You wouldn’t receive the “bad” candy; tootsie rolls, pixie sticks, or smarties. That just wasn’t good enough. Not for you. Not for my trick or treater. Nope, for you, I would splurge on (gasp!) chocolate. Because? It’s Halloween. It’s a treat. You deserve it! You deserve it for all the times the wee will be scared out of you on this Hallowed frightfest night. And what could I get you that would be most deserving of your adorable costume? Your pumpkin bucket? Your painted green witch face? Your big smile and open mouth? A treat, I myself would love to receive. A treat that is chocolaty, and peanut buttery, so smooth in all it’s yummy goodness it should be renamed chocolate heaven.

Reese’s Peanut Butter cups

Scrumptious, most delicious treat of all Halloween time.

This is the good stuff.

This is what you deserve my little sweet faced friend. I bought bags with you in mind. With your well-being. With your coming home shrieking in pleasure, “Reese’s! Reese’s! I got a Reese’s from the house that gives out the good candy. Yeah!”

I felt like the Grinch who saved Halloween and grew a heart to stop handing out orange and black peanut butter chews for something with substance. Good candy. Chocolate candy. I am nothing but over generous.

Then, it happened.

I had one little bite. Just one Reese cup package. Just a little snack. Just a desert after dinner. It was my biggest mistake and a pitiful spiral of self-control defeat worthy of any horror flick.

One opened the sacred bag. One lead to another. I was taking “one” to eat after lunch, then “one” mid-breakfast, and then “one” as an after work snack; after stress treat, after dinner, before bed. And……and….and….and…..

I’m sorry.

I hang my head in shame. The Reese’s are gone. I am not allowed to buy anymore. There is no more “good” candy allowed in this house. Only the stuff I won’t touch. Maybe you should just skip our house?

I apologize dear trick or treater. It’s all my fault. Enjoy your dots….


Next year. NEXT year, we will have the “good” stuff……..I (um) promise.

*images by Google