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Thursday, February 10, 2022

We Got Rocked, Plus Making Candy for Son and Daughter-in-Law

We got rocked again. No, that's not a bad thing, but actually a very sweet thing. Someone left some Valentine painted rocks on our driveway Thursday afternoon. Here they are. now I need to get busy this weekend and paint a couple of rocks myself to leave on others' driveways.

Every year, I make some Valentine candy for my son and daughter-in-law. It's nothing fancy, but they really appreciate it. So easy-- this must be the easiest candy I make. It's simply melted chocolate chips/melting wafers-covered mini pretzel twists. Don't these even look like little hearts?

Anyway, I make red or pink ones, using colored Wilton melting wafers and dark chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate with basic chocolate chips. The Wilton melting wafers keep for years. I've had the same bag for at least 5 years, bought at Jo Ann Fabrics and Crafts on sale. I buy several bags at a time in different colors to use for different holidays. 

The bag has some melting instructions on the back of the package that I think work well. basically, you melt the wafers in a microwaveable bowl for 60 seconds at 50% power, stir, then melt again in 15 to 20-second intervals, stirring in between melting. Once fully melted, I add about 1 teaspoon of vegetable shortening (Crisco) for every 1 cup of wafers or chocolate chips. This just helps thin the melted chocolate enough for dipping or coating.

I made 3 different flavors/colors of coated pretzels on Thursday in about 1 hour of hands-on time. I use a couple of forks to turn the pretzels in the melted chocolate and to transfer to a waxed paper-lined baking sheet. I place the sheet in our "cold" room (it's about 55 degrees F in there) to firm up over a day or two.

I just wanted to mention these because even if you think you can't make candy, anyone can make chocolate-covered pretzels. You know, there's a commercial brand of chocolate-covered pretzels. Flipz is the brand name. They sell for about $7 for a 24-oz bag at Sam's Club. I can make about 24 ounces of chocolate-covered pretzels for about half that cost, using 1 1/2 bags of chocolate chips (under $2 a bag) and about a half-pound of mini pretzels ($1.52 for 16-oz bag) for a total cost to make around $3.50 to $3.70 (depending on whether I use semi-sweet chocolate chips, milk chocolate, or 60% cacao dark chocolate). Colored chocolate, such as the red Wilton Candy Melts, if bought on sale or with a higher value coupon from Jo Ann's, cost me about the same.

One other Valentine thing to mention -- since my Cooky-Jar Sugar Cookies recipe made so many cookies, (66 total, 
I rolled them thin), I was curious how much sugar, fat, and calories they each had. I don't normally count calories, but I do like to know if I'm eating something that is super high in fat, sugar or calories, so I don't overdo it and then feel sick later. Anyway, I plugged all of the ingredients and their quantities plus servings (cookie count) into an online recipe nutrition calculator (I used the calculator on this site). I was very pleasantly surprised to find that each cookie has about 42-47 calories. Compared to many other cookies, this makes a very light, sweet snack with a cup of coffee or tea in the afternoon.

Anyhoo, I hope you have a wonderful weekend!


  1. If you want to change the pretzels up next time, you could add some flavorings to the chocolate. I got Girl Scout thin mint covered pretzels for Christmas that were delicious. Basically, they were mint chocolate covered pretzels.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      Flavoring is a terrific idea. I would have liked to add some berry or cherry flavor to the red ones. Next year . . .
      Those mint chocolate pretzels sound delicious. Girl Scout Thin Mints were always my favorite GS cookies.
      Thanks you for the suggestion. Have a wonderful weekend, Live and Learn!

  2. You are rocking it out with Valentine's treats! They look yummy. Your cost comparison made me think of an article that I read this morning. It said that due to rising food costs, Americans are paying $250/month more in groceries. I haven't done the math but I know I'm not spending that much more. Thanks to all the frugal tips you and your readers have given over the years, I have the tools in my kit to combat the increase in cost.

    1. Hi Kris,
      Love the play on words ("rocking").
      Wow! $250 more per month. I know I'm not spending that much extra per month. I saw an article interviewing the CEO of Kellogg's this morning. He actually said their 4th quarter profits were strong, but still said they'd likely increase prices soon. Ouch. That felt a bit like gouging so the execs could have their share of the pie. I suspect that the $250 number is hitting folks who buy more processed foods. But (the big "but"), we're all seeing increased food costs. Some of the most used crop fertilizers are derived from petroleum. Farmers will have to increase their price on crops, which will affect everything we eat, unless we grow it ourselves. You're right, though, that there is a lot we can do to keep our own spending increases as low as possible. Cooking from scratch, making economical recipe substitutions, shopping sales and markdowns, and growing a garden are all time-proven ways to save on groceries.
      One more thing that stuck in my mind -- in one of the Wartime Garden shows I watched, the narrator mentioned that because folks in Britain had to change how they ate during WW2 to more veggies and fruit, less fat and meat, on the whole, people emerged from the war period healthier than they'd entered it. So, that may be the good by-product of increased grocery costs, if it means we have to eat leaner with more produce to offset grocery $$ increases.

      Have a wonderful weekend, Kris!

  3. Well, I have seen higher prices on many things at Aldi! Toilet paper was double as was a lot of other things. But cereal was still low priced. I don't buy meat there since it tends to be higher priced and really never a good tender type of meat. We went to a different store and cereal was over $5 close to $6 for the same cereal Aldi had at 1/2 the price.

    We have a Save-A-lot close by and they often reduce their meat that is nearing the sell-by date and I will always buy that at greatly reduced prices. All of my upbringing on being frugal and waste nothing mentality is coming in handy (well, it has my whole life) and I'm not one of those that will see an overall spending of $250 or more each month. I'll pass on a lot of those things if they are too high priced. I also found a store that has a fruit and veggie discount rack which I haven't seen in a long time. We found so many good deals on that rack this weekend and all of it was fairly good quality. We got broccoli, potatoes, mango, bananas, brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes and we'll be going back weekly just for that.

    1. Hi Alice,
      Oh that's so great that you have a new produce discount rack to shop. I only have one store that does that and it's hit or miss. I'll have to check more often and at different times/days to find when it's most likely restocked. It sounds like you got quite a lot of good produce from yours.

      What I noticed as costing much more is vegetable oil. It has nearly doubled in price since 2020. Also flour has gone way up, here. Other products have gone up some, like applesauce and graham crackers. I need the flour and oil for cooking/baking, but I can get by without some of the prepared foods that are seeing price increases. Sounds like you'll be doing something similar.


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