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Christmas Meal

  • Christmas Morning Pancakes

    christmas pancakesIf you told your kids (okay, your husband too) that there would be cookie-like fare for Christmas morning breakfast, what do you think they'd say?

    "Mom, we can't have cookies for breakfast, it's just not right."

    "Are you sick?"

    "You mean we don't have to eat eggs?"

    Yeah, right!! They may think it, but they aren't going to be saying anything that might make mom come to her senses!

    Now you can surprise your family with regular ol' pancakes, even healthy ones, and make them look like Christmas Coookies by using your cookie cutters. Just prepare your batter as you normally would, place your cookie cutters in the skillet and fill. The trick is to cook them on a lower heat so they have more time to set before removing the cookie cutter to flip.

    Decorate with mini chocolate chips, and serve sausage on the side. Yummy. Your kids will think, no, they will KNOW you are the best mom on the block. Cookies, er, pancake cookies for Christmas morning breakfast. Genius.

     

    Photo courtesy:  http://pinterest.hus.lv/

  • Red Velvet Snowball Cookies

    red velvet cookiesThis week we're focusing on all things snow! For those of us that live in the northern parts, we are bracing ourselves. And, for the rest of you who regularly dream of snow at least once a year, feel free to enjoy your snow(ball cookies) as you sit out in the sun. We are jealous, yes. :)

    Oh, the drama of it all! Who doesn't love Red Velvet Cake with it's brilliant pop of color and familiar hint of cocoa? There is simply nothing to not like. There are rumors that making red velvet cake requires much skill, but I'm here to tell you it doesn't have to. These cookies replace the ubiquitous buttermilk with butter to make a deliciously easy cookie that still delivers on all the drama. You will be the rock star at the cookie exchange with this one. And, for the record, you can never go wrong with any cookie that has chocolate.

    Another thing I love about these cookies is that they aren't too sweet. True, the confectioners' sugar that they are covered in is, well, sweet, but the dough itself is just delightful. Let's get started.

    • 1 1/2 cups butter
    • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon (or more if you want them REALLY dramatic) red food coloring
    • 3 cups all purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup almond flour/meal
    • extra confectioners’ sugar, for rolling 'em around
    1. Preheat your over to 375, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
    2. Beat together butter, sugar, vanilla and salt until creamy.
    3. Beat in cocoa powder and red food coloring until you have a solidly bright red batter.
    4. Gradually add the flour and almond meal until thoroughly combined.
    5. Shape the batter/dough into 1 inch balls and bake until lightly browned, about 10--12 minutes.
    6. Cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.
    7. When cookies are completely cooked, roll 'em in the powdered sugar. Do it more than once if you have to. They are snowballs. :)
    8. These girls (red velvet cannot be a boy, no way) store well when in an airtight container or bag.

    This will make about 4 dozen snowballs! Red Velvet Snowballs!!!

     

    Photo and recipe courtesy of: bakingbites.com

  • Kiss Pies, O My!

    Kiss-Pies-6There is a cookie exchange party running through my brain, I'm even dreaming about it at night! I know lots of people have heirloom cookie recipes that have been passed down through the generations, secret recipes for the most delectable goodies. I love doing the cookie exchange thing, one where there's about 6 people participating. That way I end up with 6 different varieties while only contributing the work of 1. I think they call that leveraging your friends, but shhh, don't tell anyone I said that. :)

    These cute little Kiss Pies will be a huge hit this year. Best part? You don't have to make the dough yourself! Using the ready-made pie crust from the refrigerated section of your grocery store, you're going to truly love this unique but super easy cookie, err pie, recipe!

    Here's what you'll need:
    1 refrigerated pie crust, thawed
    14 Hershey Kisses of choice, Mint Truffle is pictured
    1 egg white whisked with 1 Tbsp water
    Powdered sugar for dusting

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. Unroll pie dough onto a lightly floured counter top, and let set for about 20 minutes to allow the dough to come to room temperature.
    3. Place 10 kisses around the edges of pie dough, about 2 1/2-3"  apart
    4. Cut out the dough with a juice glass around each kiss.
    5. Fold half of the circle around top of the kiss and seal by pinching closed.
    6. Now fold up the other sides to the tip of the kiss, and press the edges together, forming an x.
    7. Brush the cookie pies with egg white, sprinkle with sugar, and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.
    8. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.
    9. DONE!

    Talk about the perfect cookie exchange recipe, this one is fun and festive and easy. These would also be great served at a Christmas party or as dessert for Christmas dinner. The possibilities are endless. :) What's your favorite cookie exchange recipe?

    Merry cookie baking!

     

    Photo and recipe source:  picky-palate.com

  • Grinch Kabobs!

    Grinch KabobsI can think of nothing more effective in chasing away the Grinch-like attitudes around the holidays than bright, cheery food. And, if that food can be healthy, all the better, right? These Grinch Kabobs will make even the most grumpy, Christmas-spiritless person smile or at least get a little healthier while remaining in their grouchy world. :)

    Pretty easy stuff here today....all you need to make these are:

    • Strawberries
    • Green grapes
    • Bananas
    • Mini marshmallows
    • Wooden skewers

    The only real instructions you need are to make sure you immerse the banana slices in some kind of citrus. Pineapple juice works just as well as lemon juice and tastes better I think.

    These would make really fun little treats for the kids after school, for those last minute treats for the school party that you find out about the night before, or for any other holiday gathering for that matter. They'd also be fabulous on the Christmas Dinner table either as dessert or as a sweet appetizer. Very versatile. Very easy. Very good.

    Take that Mr. Grinch.

     

    Photo courtesy:  www.facebook.com/CookingWithMissy/photos_stream

  • Wine Glass Christmas Centerpiece

    Wine Glass CenterpieceIn a perfect world, we would all have created a Christmas Notebook back in July, we would have been gathering ideas all year long and filling said notebook and all its various categories and sections. AND, we would have been busy creating all kind of handcrafted beauties for the people we care about and want to give to so that when the day after Thanksgiving rolls around, we can smile with confidence knowing we've got it all under control. Even the Christmas Day meal would already be organized, invites would go out early, lists would be made and cross referenced with other lists. Is it like this at your house too?

    Wait, who are we kidding?! My world is not perfect and I suspect that unless you are Martha Stewart yours isn't either. But, that doesn't mean we have to sacrifice elegance and charm, especially when it comes to the centerpiece for Christmas Dinner.

    I so so so love this idea. And, one of the best parts is that this is not just for Christmas. By switching out the color of the bulbs, this elegant centerpiece can be used many times over for New Years Day, Valentines Day, Easter, Fourth of July, Veterans Day and Thanksgiving! Even for birthdays and anniversary parties, all you have to do is choose a favorite color of the one you're honoring and you've got such a gorgeous display.

    Simple. Easy. That's how we roll around here.

    Merry entertaining!

    Photo credit:  http://www.pinterest.com/pin/543106036284489651/

  • Santa Cake

    santa cakeAs much as we talk around here about keeping things simple and quick, sometimes spending a bit more time is just really nice, and ever so appreciated. A couple of years back when the two girls were just finishing up school and starting out (read: no money), they made a suggestion for Christmas gifts. The suggestion was that we exchange hand-made gifts that year, and the "rule" was that all the supplies to make said gifts could total no more than $10 each. It was challenging, but I gotta say that it was one of the best, most meaningful Christmases for us. There was more anticipation when opening the gifts that year maybe because we DID spend more time and had more personally invested! Lotsa smiles 'round the tree that year.

    So it is with today's Christmas dessert idea, one that will take a bit more time but be totally worth it.  Just to look at this Santa Cake makes me smile, and I'm guessing it does that for you too.  You can pass the tedium of slicing the heads, err hats, off of the strawberries with Christmas music, no? :)  And, yes there is a cake underneath all that cuteness, but I'm going to assume that we all know how to make a basic cake mix and frost it. :) Here's the deats for this adorable Santa Cake:

    • 1 lb large strawberries
    • 1 package cream cheese
    • 4 Tablespoons powdered sugar (or sugar substitute - to taste)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1. Cut the strawberries in half, creating the hat from the top.
    2. Mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla together until creamy.
    3. Using a piping bag (or Ziploc with the corner snipped off), fill the bottom half of the strawberries.
    4. Top with the hats and decorate!

     

     

  • The Incredible Edible Christmas Tree

    cheese platterSometimes the simplest ingredients put together in a creative way make the best food. Are you going to a holiday party, perhaps your office party or a neighborhood gathering? Short on time? Or are you having some friends over for a casual holiday shindig and you know you don't need to be fussy with the food? This edible Christmas tree, made of your favorite cheeses, grape tomatoes and fresh sprigs of rosemary is the perfect ticket.

    I was thinking, too, that if you want to add even more interest, you could sprinkle on some snow i.e. feta crumbles! If you don't like white space, you could fill in the border by drizzling some raspberry chipotle sauce.

    Speaking of raspberry chipotle sauce, another really easy appetizer to take to or serve at a holiday party that is also quite the looker is to empty a bottle of that spiciness over brick of cream cheese. Use a very festive platter and you won't believe the compliments.  The combination of the heat from the sauce and the creaminess of the cheese is only surpassed in delectability by how this looks. So stunning!!

    The recommendation temperature for cheese in order to have superior taste is, you guessed it, room temperature! Setting this platter (or your Chipotle Cream Cheese) out ahead of time could prove hazardous if you are hungry!

    How would you modify this delicious, pretty, edible Christmas tree?

     

    Photo courtesy

  • Christmas Soup

    thai curry corn soupI don't know what temperatures you are experiencing lately, but here in Minneapolis it's been all over the place! Fall, however, is coming, and in fact is here according to the calendar at least. As much as I love the heat of summer, I am IN love with the cool temps of the autumn season, and inevitably I get the urge to cook up some savory soup.

    Today I had some fun with a Creamy Winter Vegetable Soup that I saw online. And, don't ya think that when it comes to soup, adaptation is where it's at? So adapt away I did, and created a pure vegetarian creamy soup with all those warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and curry. I guarantee we'll be nomming on it for the next few days.

    This got me thinking about how NICE, utterly FANTASTIC it is to have yummy soup around the holidays. It's easy, it's quick, and a nice hot bowl can get you all warmed up for dinner, no? So, let's make some Christmas soup.

    Christmas soupFor today's delectable recipe, I turned to one of my favorite chefs on the food network, Alton Brown. He tells this cute story of how he's been making this soup ever since he was allowed in the kitchen, and it's become one of those great traditions in his family. I loved how the recipe sounded.....yes, it's easy (we've clearly established that's what I do best), but so savory and salty and filling too. I do love to create gourmet-ish soups during wintertime, but this one is not fussy like that at all. I did adapt it a little, sorry Alton, I couldn't help myself.

    So, when you need to be warmed to the bone, try this:

    • 1# kielbasa, sliced 1/4-inch thick on bias
    • Olive oil, as needed
    • 8 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1# red kidney beans, soaked at least 4 hours and up to overnight
    • 2 quarts chicken (or vegetable) broth
    • 1# red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
    • 4 handfuls of kale
    • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1. Sort your kidney beans the night before (or morning of), and soak for at least 4 hours.
    2. Heat up the oil in a large soup pot over med-low heat, and brown the kielbasa for about 15 minutes, turning frequently.
    3. Remove the kielbasa, and add the garlic to the rendered fat in the pot, stirring so it doesn't burn.
    4. Drain the beans and add them to the pot along with the chicken broth (use vegetable broth for a delish vegetarian option).
    5. Cover and cook for about 45 minutes.
    6. Add the potatoes and cover again for 15 more minutes.
    7. Remove the ribs from the kale and tear into bite size pieces, then add it to the pot.
    8. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes or just until the kale is tender (you don't want it mushy).
    9. Finish it off by adding the red wine vinegar, and pepper to taste.
    10. The kielbasa is added after the soup is plated which makes it super easy to accommodate your vegetarian friends too!

    And, there you have it.....Christmas Soup. Maybe it will become your traditional Christmas Eve meal, too.

     

  • Whose Bringing the Dinner Rolls?

    The day is finally here. You've planned for weeks, decorated for days, cooked for hours and in just a little while it'll be time to eat. You glance at the table, all set with your favorite dishes, table and chairs decked out with the colors of the season, and the food . . . there isn't one single thing missing. You sigh with relief that you actually pulled it off.

    Oh. But, wait. Where are the rolls? Who did I ask to bring the dinner rolls? That's right, it was Aunt Cynthia who came down with the flu and couldn't make it!! Your father doesn't understand a meal without rolls, so you slip away to the kitchen to think and figure something out. And, then it comes to you....that recipe you saw on that Christmas blog for 7-Up Rolls. They are easy. They are fast. And you bought 7-Up for your brothers wife who always seems to need something to settle her stomach.

    7 up rollsAren't you glad for quick and easy solutions? I know I am. Here's what you'll need for these fluffy, soft, delish dinner rolls:

    • 4 cups Bisquick
    • 1 cup sour cream
    • 1 cup of 7-Up
    • 1/2 cup melted butter
    1. Mix Bisquick, sour cream and 7-up (dough will be very soft).
    2. Knead and fold dough until coated with your baking mix.
    3. Pat dough out and cut biscuits using a round biscuit/cookie cutter.
    4. Melt butter and spread on the bottom of cookie sheet or 9x13 casserole dish.
    5. Place biscuits on top of melted butter and bake at 425 for 12-15 minutes or until brown.

    Your dad is going to love them.

     

    Recipe adapted

     

  • Tie-Dye Ice Cream for Christmas

    Tie Dye Ice CreamI was watching Shark Tank the other night, a reality TV show where "ambitious entrepreneurs present their breakthrough business concepts to ruthless investors to convince them to invest in the concept." There were a couple of women in the tank, presenting their premium ice cream idea to the sharks. Evidently the ice cream really was delicious, and despite the steep price of $80 for 4 pints of personalized ice cream, the sharks saw it as a gift item much like flowers. One even commented that every time he has a disagreement with his wife it costs him $250 for a dozen red roses, so he could definitely see the value!

    Today I bring to you a very creative way to personalize your own ice cream without that hefty price tag. No, it'd probably not be the best idea to ship this, but if you serve these cute little balls of tie-dye ice cream at any social gathering, you will be the coolest, hippest host on the block, promise.

    Of course, we want to switch this idea up a bit for Christmas, so we'll adapt the recipe to fit our colors. Here's what you're going to need:

    • 1 gallon of vanilla ice cream in a square carton
    • 9 tablespoons of strawberry Jello powder
    • 9 tablespoons of lime Jello powder
    1. Start by opening up all the sides of the ice cream carton.
    2. Using a sharp knife, cut the ice cream block into 6 equal portion.
    3. Place each portion in a separate bowl and set aside to slightly melt.
    4. Next, sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the strawberry Jello powder over the bottom of the empty ice cream carton.
    5. Using a small knife, cut slices of ice cream from one of the portions and place on top of the dry Jello powder in the ice cream carton. Smooth out with the back of a spoon.
    6. Next, sprinkle the lime Jello powder on top of the first layer, and place slices of ice cream from another one of the portions and smooth over.
    7. Repeat this pattern two more times, and you'll end up with a layer of ice cream on top.
    8. Close up the ice cream carton, and put it back in the freezer, preferably over night.
    9. When you're ready to serve, remove the ice cream from the cardboard carton and place it on its side in a plastic bowl.
    10. To get the tie-dye effect, or in our case a swirl effect, scoop the ice cream from the side going over the alternating colors.

    Have fun!

    Photo courtesy

     

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