Homemade Cough Shards

Today was day two with sick toddlers. Leeloo started feeling bad and got a fever yesterday. By this afternoon, Monkey was also starting to feel a little toasty and had developed a cough that was progressively worsening. So far, I only have a headache. Who knows. Everyone I know is sick with the flu or some respiratory thing. If I knew who they got it from, I might know a bit more about what to expect, but we’re in wait-and-see mode. Fun stuff.

Anyway, Leeloo doesn’t mind Children’s Tylenol, but she hates cough syrup with a passion. Monkey will take neither unless we hold her down and pour it down her throat, so she’ll be dealing with this unmedicated unless it gets too bad. So, two kids with horrible coughs that hate cough syrup. Not great. I decided to look for something else, dug around in my Apothecary board on Pinterest, and found a Homemade Cough Drop recipe by Elise at Frugal Farm Wife.

It was basically herbal tea and honey cooked into hard candy drops. I didn’t have exactly what was in the recipe, but I improvised, and despite also burning the honey a bit, THE DROPS WORK AND MY KIDS WILL TAKE THEM.

If you want to try them, use her recipe. I’m just talking about what I changed in case you’re in a similar situation.


Elise’s recipe called for peppermint, chamomile, cinnamon, and ginger, though she said peppermint tea and chamomile tea were fine. Since the first part of the recipe is to basically make a strong tea, I just went with it and added ginger tea too since I didn’t have ginger root. I had a cinnamon stick, but forgot to let it steep with the tea. Oops. I’m sure it would have been better, but I just added a tiny pinch of ground cinnamon to the tea/honey mixture.

The next part involves cooking the tea/honey mixture until it reaches hard-crack stage (300ºF). I don’t have a candy thermometer, so I used this amazing guide from The Spruce which explains how to test for hard-crack stage in candy without a candy thermometer. It worked great.

I burned the sugar in my honey just a touch at the end, but that wasn’t related to anyone’s instructions. I just didn’t stir fast enough for about 5 seconds of the whole process. Burning the sugar is super easy to do at those temperatures, by the way, if you’ve never made candy before. It didn’t affect the functionality of the drops and the texture is still very nice. They just have a little bit more of a bitter flavor than I would have preferred. I added orange zest on the outside of the candy as I spread it out to cool, and the flavor could be improved but it’s not bad.

I intended to roll it out and shape it, but just as I was ready to start rolling, there was a toddler crisis of some variety, and it set up too hard. So…I don’t have cough drops, I have cough shards.

cough shard

They look a little like beef jerky, IMO, but they taste like strong minty honey and orange.  I’m trying a new batch soon and will hopefully 1. not burn the candy and 2. actually get to roll it out and shape it. I like my candies and things to look like I want them to look, so I’m slightly annoyed by these, but you can’t really do a damn thing about toddler timing. Plus, considering that these “cough shards” work and the kids will actually suck on them, I don’t give a fuck what they look like. Bonus point: if you hate the way the stuff tastes alone, the pieces can be dissolved in hot tea to take the edge off a cough.

Obligatory disclaimer: I’m not a medical doctor. Nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I feel comfortable giving my kids honey (they’re almost 3) and the herbs in the teas. If you don’t, don’t try it. If my kids get sicker, we will go to the doctor and get medication, but until then, I’ll keep making cough drops they won’t immediately spit out.

XX Nic

Sick Little Pickle

I’ve been pretty lucky on the sick-kid front, as they aren’t in daycare (aka germ repositories), but we did not luck out this go around. My tall, strong, sweetheart was knocked on her ass this afternoon by one hell of a cold (or something TBD). We went from playing outside in sandpiles and climbing on livestock panels to splashy, giggly bathtime, to featherbed-and-blanket nest in the living-room hammock and leave me the fuck alone. By dinner, she had a 100º fever and a surprisingly decent appetite. She’s such a little trooper. Then my husband, Superdad tonight, got home with toddler cough syrup and liquid Tylenol.


The hard part is that her sister still feels good.  I assume, in about 48 hours neither she nor I will feel good in the slightest, but maybe we’ll luck out. Anyway, the sprightly little fireball misses her friend and just doesn’t quite understand what “sick” means. Like, why is it a big deal today if we switch sippy cups, wtf, mom? What do you mean I can’t tackle her from the back of the couch? I tried to explain, but showing works best, so I said “Hey, Monkey, will you come help me take Leeloo’s temperature?” She runs over, “Tematur?” I put the thermometer under Leeloo’s arm as she snuggles her dad, “See Monkey? We have to check her temperature because sometimes, when people are sick they get a fever and it makes them hot.” Her eyes open big in recognition and concern “Leeloo hot?” “Yeah, Baby, Leeloo’s hot. See her temperature is 99.6 now; that’s a whole degree above what it normally is.” Monkey runs off to get Leeloo her juice. Toddlers are so smart and awesome and thoughtful and sweet.

So, the Tylenol brought it down a little bit. Yay. I’ll keep checking, and hopefully will not wake either of them up. Ha.

The point of this post, however, is what does one feed a sick little pickle with a fever, cough, and sore throat? Mom’s Magical Calorie-Bomb Baby Smoothie. Fuck yes. A more meaningful name would probably be Peanut Butter, Banana, and Chocolate Smoothie, but I gave it a cool name because it made it up when I was pregnant and had god-awful morning sickness for literally 28 weeks. I digress. I love it. Nauseous me loves it. Hypoglycemic me loves it. My kids fucking love it. Here’s how to make it.

Mom’s Magical Calorie-Bomb Baby Smoothie
Blender: I make this in a “personal smoothie-sized” blender, but it would obviously be fine in a full size too.
Banana (regular or frozen. Frozen makes it thicker)
2 TB peanut butter (smooth almond butter is fine if you’re no-peanut people)
2 TB Nesquik (powdered chocolate milk mix)
milk (I use whole milk, but anything’s fine, even almond, coconut, etc.)
2-5 ice cubes


Pour some milk, the banana, and some ice in the blender. Yep, the whole banana. I just broke that one in half.


Add the Nesquik and the peanut butter. I definitely vote for creamy peanut butter for this particular recipe. The Nesquik is more of a “to taste” kind of thing. I’m sure Ovaltine, Carnation Instant Breakfast, Chocolate Muscle Milk, or hell, Hershey’s chocolate syrup would all taste about the same. You’re just getting some extra nutrition from some of the options.

Blend. Check on it. Add more milk if you want it to be thinner. My girls like it thin enough to be easy to drink with a straw.


Et voilà.

Tinker with the ratios of ingredients or leave one of them out. It’s hard to fuck up so badly that it’s undrinkable. Enjoy.

I must go prepare for a day of sick pickle snuggles, Tylenol distribution, and toddler grumps.

XX Nic