Wednesday, December 26, 2012

15 Days of Elf Mischief

Day one: Our Elf arrived on the front porch

Day two: Our elf made herself at home

Day three: She stole our TV

Day four: She got drunk as a skunk

Day five: She colored all over my son and daughter

Day six: She stole my car keys

Day seven: She cut my son's hair while he was sleeping

Day eight: She played in the Play Room

Day nine: She dyed my daughter's doll's hair

Day ten: She slid down the banister

Day eleven: She wrote on the mirror in my daughter's bathroom

Day twelve: She went "ice" fishing

Day thirteen: She played in a pile of clean laundry

Day fourteen: She did acrobatics on a wine bottle
 
Day fifteen: She got put in time out and was sent back to Santa
 
As I said in my original Elf on a Shelf post, here, I am not a typical Elf adopted mom. I tried to make it fun and funny for adults this year. All  my son ever saw was his elf moving from place to place. On Christmas morning he even asked where she was and was looking around for her. Next year I will do a little more PG version, but this year I was able to push the limits a bit. Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Easy Peasy BBQ Wings




Easy Peasy BBQ Wings
Yield: 8-10 servings

Ingredients:

2-3 lbs of Chicken wings or drummettes
1 12oz bottle of original BBQ sauce
1/2 cup of brown sugar
salt and pepper

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, add half your bottle of BBQ sauce and mix in your brown sugar.
2. Salt and pepper your raw chicken.
3. Add your wings to your bowl and let them marinate for about 10 minutes.
4. Line your baking sheets with tin foil and spray with cooking spray. Preheat your oven to 415 F.
5. Evenly space your chicken wings or drummettes on your baking trays and cover with tin foil. Bake for 20 minutes.
6. At the 20 minute mark, remove your tin foil and baste your chicken with the remainder of your BBQ sauce. If you have sauce left over than that is okay. Place back in the oven for an addition 20 minutes at 415 F with no foil covering.
7. When they are finished baking, remove from the oven and let rest for about 10-15 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

I originally made this wing recipe up to serve at my son's second birthday party. I made them again for our Christmas Party this past weekend. They were devoured both times. I love that they are so easy to make, not messy to eat, and gobbled up by guests in a blink of an eye! Win Win Win! :)

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Bite Sized Pecan Pies

 
Bite Sized Pecan Pies
Yield: 120 pies
 
Ingredients:
 
120 Athens Phyllo Shells
2 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup of Karo light corn syrup
1 stick of melted butter
3 large eggs (beaten)
 
 
Directions:
 
1. Chop your pecans roughly and portion out about 3/4 teaspoon to each phyllo cup.
2. Melt your butter in the microwave for about a minute.
3. In your Kitchen Aid Mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat your eggs for about a minute.
4. Add in your salt, brown and granulated sugars, and melted butter. Mix well.
5. Add in your corn syrup and mix well.
6. Carefully pour your mixture over your pecans in each phyllo shell. Only fill half way!! I know it is tempting to cover the pecans with the mixture, but if you do the shells will overflow while baking.
7. Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes. Only bake one tray of pies at a time.
8. Let your pies rest for at least an hour before serving, or let cool for serving. They refrigerate well and will last about 3-4 days in your fridge.
 
 
These Pecan Pie Bites are so much better than traditional pecan pie because you get all the "good stuff" from the pecan pie with out the feeling of it being so heavy. I surely didn't regret eating five last night, where as I would have regretted eating a whole slice for pecan pie. Ahh, the guilt we put on ourselves for eating yummy food.... Happy Holidays!


Mini Pumpkin Pies



Mini Pumpkin Pies
Yield: 32 pies


Ingredients:

2 cans of Libby's Pumpkin Puree (15 oz each)
1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of ginger
1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice
4 large eggs
2 cans of evaporated milk (12 oz each)
32 unbaked mini pie shells

Directions:

1. In your Kitchen Aid Mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat your eggs for about a minute.
2. Add in your evaporated milk, salt, and all your spices. Mix well.
3. Add in your sugar and pumpkin puree and mix well.
4. Place all your pie shells on a cookie sheet (or two) and make sure they are evenly spaced. Gently pour your pie mixture into each shell. Fill them right below the crust lip...does that make sense?
5. Heat your oven to 425 F and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the temp down to 350 F, while your pies are baking, for an additional 20 minutes.
6. Let pies rest for at least one hour before eating warm or let cool and serve cool. You can store them in your fridge for a couple of days, but after about three days they start to get funky!
Enjoy! :)

These make for perfect neighbor gifts. I plan wrapping some pies up in cellophane and giving them to our neighbors today. Happy Holidays!



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Mudslides



Yield: 14 servings

Ingredients:

3 quarts of Vanilla Ice Cream
2 cups of Irish cream (Bailey's)
2 cups of coffee liqueur (Kahlua)
2 cups of vodka
chocolate syrup

Directions:

1. Pull your ice cream out of the freezer and run under water for about a minute. Let it sit in the container and in the sink for about 10 minutes un-thawing.
2. Dump your ice cream into a large bowl.  Add in all your alcohol and mix well with a large spoon or spatula. It is okay to leave ice cream lumps.
3. Drizzle your chocolate syrup into your martini glasses and poor your mixture in. Top with whip cream and more chocolate syrup or leave it as is.

I picked up these martini glasses from the dollar store...for you guessed it $1 each! I had several containers of vanilla ice cream in my freezer that needed to get used so I mixed these up to serve at our Christmas Party last night. I'm really pleased with how they turned out.  I had planned on topping them with whipped cream, but I didn't whip enough cream to go with my cheesecake and the Mudslides. In all honesty, I didn't measure anything and I just dumped alcohol into my melting ice cream, but I am guesstimating that is how much I put in them. Enjoy!!


Monday, December 10, 2012

Cookie Exchange Made Easy

 
 
Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies
Yield: 3 dozen
 
 
Ingredients:
 
2 sticks of butter (salted) at room temp.
1 cup of granulated sugar
1 cup of brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons of vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 bag of Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups of chopped walnuts
 
Directions:
 
1. In your Kitchen Aid mixer, with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar. When well blended, add in the vanilla and eggs.
2. Turn your mixer off and add all your dry ingredients. Mix on low until smooth and creamy.
3. Add in your chopped nuts and chocolate chips. Mix until blended.
4. Spray cooking spray on your large cookie sheets. Spoon out, or use your fingers, to evenly disperse the dough onto your cookie trays. Each dough ball should be about 2 inches in diameter. I can fit 12 on each of my baking trays.
5. Bake separately at 375 F for 9 minutes each.
6. Let cool and then bag for your cookie exchange, gift giving, random act of kindness, etc!
 
 


 
     This recipe takes just a couple minutes to whip up and then a couple minutes to bake. Cookie Exchanges can be stressful and time consuming, especially when you need to bring approximately ten cookies per person attending. Going the easy route, is sometimes the best route! These cookies have such a spectacular crunch on the outer ring and such an amazing buttery smoothness in the middle. I love that they both manage to crunch and melt in your mouth all at once!
     I bough a box of "cake bases" at Micheal's about two years ago and have been slowly using them. They are a really cheap way of dressing up something that you are bringing to a potluck, exchange, etc. I also bought the cellophane from Micheal's at the same time. Using a cake bottom, cellophane, a pretty ribbon, and a homemade tag can really dress up any Cookie Exchange and make your cookies look extra special and extra yummy!

The Perfect Pancake



Pancakes
Yield: 2 dozen

Ingredients:

2 cups of milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/4 cup of sugar
2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of baking powder

Directions:

1. In your Kitchen Aid mixer, with the whisk attachment, add all of your liquids and blend.
2. Next add your eggs and sugar and blend well.
3. Add in your flour, salt, and baking powder and blend well.
4. Heat your griddle on Medium and spray with cooking spray. When ready, dollop palm sized portions of batter on to your griddle that are evenly spaced. Cook for about a minute on each side. When bubbles start to form you know it is time to flip! :)
5. Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar, real Vermont Maple Syrup, and a side of fresh fruit. I also love yogurt on mine, but my husband thinks I'm a weirdo!


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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

DIY Christmas Decor


Welcome to my living room!


I bought these wood letters at Hobby Lobby for about $2 each when they were on sale last week. I painted them with Martha Stewart metallic paint and glitter paint that I bought at Michael's. I bought the glittery silver garland for $10 at Home Goods and used the extra to hot glue on to the "O" in "JOY". I also used left over pearls from the pearl wreath I made to add a little more pop to the "O". This was by far the cheapest and easiest Christmas decor project I have done so far.


I decided to use jingle bells as my vase filler to go with my silver Christmas decor. I had a 25% off coupon for my total purchase at AC Moore, this past weekend, so I went and bought roughly 20 bags of bells in three sizes. My total after sales and my coupon was $47. I was NOT expecting to spend that much on jingle bells. After all, for $47 I could fill up half my fridge... but what is done is done. I bought the glass hurricanes at TJ Maxx for $12.99 each along with the candles for $4.99 each.


This was one of the hardest projects I have done. Well, I guess hard isn't the right....tedious is more like it. I bought three different sized fake pears at both AC Moore and Micheal's and proceeded to paint four primer coats of white craft paint to cover the flaws and imperfections. If I could do it again, I would go buy real primer at the hardware store and do it in one or two coats tops. I then used the same Martha Stewart paint from the "JOY" project and a few others. I used Metallic Pewter, Metallic Sterling, and Mother of Pearl. I then topped the pears with dustings of fine glitter while the paint was still wet. I ran out of paint, but if I hadn't I would have done two coats of the Martha Stewart paint instead of the one.


I was at Target on Friday and they were having a gift card promotion on Glade seasonal candles. My son insisted we buy them so that he could unwrap them. I couldn't argue with his adorable and curious face, so I bought them. I don't normally buy scented candles. It just isn't something that I use in my house. That being said, I still think that they are pretty, so I figured out how to display them on my dining room table with the left of jingle bells from my glass hurricanes.



And finally, my pearl wreath. This project took about a week to complete. First I bought a green foam wreath base from AC Moore and wrapped it with white ribbon. I then started hot gluing on different sized pearls. I bought my pearls at both AC Moore and Micheal's. I only covered about three quarts of the wreath in pearls, leaving a naked strip in the back where nobody can see. I love my pearl wreath!

Merry Christmas everyone! Happy decorating!

\\
Here is a snapshot of the kids on Christmas Eve!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Elf on the Shelf: Bedazzled

 
 

     It is that time of year again! In fact, it is the BEST time of year; Christmas time! I have always loved this time of year, but I love it even more now that I have children of my own. I did not have that many traditions growing up, so I am constantly trying to think of fun things I can add to our Christmas that will become our new traditions.
     This is our first year participating in the Elf on the Shelf craze. In all honesty I had never heard of it until a couple years ago. I used to be in the "That's creepy" school of thought and "My child is so young he would use the Elf as a chew toy" school of thought. I have since succumbed to peer pressure, that and Grandma bought it for my children, and have a new school of thought, "Why not make this super fun for 24 days of December?"
     To make our elf "fun" I decided to first, change Him to a Her. I then bedazzled Her. I sewed her a skirt, added a lace flower, a bow on both the skirt and her hat, and blinged Her out with pearls. If you want to bedazzle your Elf, all you need is some felt for clothing, scissors, gems or pearls for bling, a hot glue gun to secure all your bling, and a sewing machine or needle and thread to sew the clothing. We named our Elf, Claire. She seems like a Claire doesn't she? I just hope she doesn't get into too much mischief while we are sleeping!

Directions to make Elf Skirt:
1. Cut one large circle out of white felt (aprox. 8in diameter)
2. Cut one medium circle out of red felt (aprox. 6 in diameter)
3. Sew the two circles together.
4. Cut out a slit in the middle (aprox. 1.5 in) and sew around slit opening.
5. Put your elf in her new skirt.
6. Add a ribbon around the top, secure with hot glue in back, and tie a pretty bow.
7. Add any bling you want on to Elf's new skirt.




 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pumpkin Cupcakes


 
 
Pumpkin Cupcakes
 
Yield: 22-24 regular cupcakes
 
Ingredients:
 
1 cup of vegetable oil
1 can of Pumpkin puree (I used Libby's)
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups of granulated sugar
2 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon ginger
 
Directions:
 
1. In your Kitchen Aid Mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, add your eggs and oil. Mix well.
2. Add in your Pumpkin puree, vanilla, and all your spices. Mix well.
3. Add your sugar and mix well.
4. In a separate bowl, mix together your flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Add your flour mixture slowly to your pumpkin mixture on low.
5. Line your muffin tins with cupcake liners and scoop out your batter with a 1/4 measuring cup. Add only 1/4 cup to each regular sized muffin tin.
6. Bake your cupcakes at 350 F for 20-22 minutes. Let cool before frosting with Cream Cheese Frosting.

 

 
I made this recipe up last night and I think they were a success! I made them for my son's Thanksgiving Feast at his Preschool today and all the little ones gobbled them up! I topped the cupcakes with my homemade Cream Cheese Frosting and some Wilton orange sprinkles and pumpkins I picked up at AC Moore this morning. There are four cupcakes left over that I have hidden in the back of my fridge and I am trying my hardest not to eat them!
 
 
 
 



Thursday, November 15, 2012

Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream

For those of you who have been following along my food journey, and for those that know me, know that the only chocolate I use is Ghirardelli. The other night I decided to take what I had in the pantry and in the fridge and turn it into ice cream. Oh MMM Gee! It turned out to be the best chocolate ice cream I have ever had! It is a small quantity, but large in flavor so you only need a little bit! I just made the recipe up as I was going along and thankfully things went smoothly!






Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract
1 cup Ghirardelli Ground Chocolate
1/2 cup Ghirardelli Unsweetened Cocoa


 
I didn't end up using the Ghirardelli bar pictured
 
 
Directions: 
 
1.  In a medium saucepan, add your milk, cream, and vanilla. Let simmer on Low-Med for 15 minutes.

 
2. Add your sugar, chocolate, and cocoa.

 
3. Mix well with your immersion blender. If you don't have an immersion blender than dump into your food processor and then add back to your pot when blended.

 
 
4. Let your mixture simmer on Low-Med for another 20 minutes until it has thickened.

 
 
5. Let your mixture cool and then refrigerate over night.
 
6. The next day, turn on your Cuisinart Ice Cream maker and add your chocolate mixture to it. Let it run for 20-25 minutes.
 


 
7. Your mixture should like this when finished. Serve immediately or store in a freezer safe container and enjoy late! :)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Homemade Apple Sauce



Homemade Apple Sauce
Yield: 10-12 cups

Ingredients:

1 bag of Granny Smith Apples
1 bag of Gala or Honeycrisp Apples
1-2 tsp Cinnamon
1 pinch salt
1/4 cup of lemon juice
1 cup of water
1/4 cup of sugar if you want to add sweetener

Directions:

1. Peel and core all your apples. I bought a $20 apple peeler and corer from Bed Bath and Beyond (this one) three years ago and it is still going strong. Place all your apples in your Slow Cooker and it should be full to the brim with apples.



2. With your fingers, separate your apple slices and make sure there are no seeds hiding.
3. Sprinkle the cinnamon and salt across your apple slices.


4. Drizzle your lemon juice and water all over your apples.
5. If you choose to add sugar, do so now. I don't add sugar to my apple sauce.
6. Put the lid on your Slow Cooker and cook for 5 hours on low. Stir occasionally.
7. Enjoy your yummy homemade apple sauce served warm or chilled! Enjoy!


My 7 month old daughter chowing down on the apple sauce that I made for her!


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Friday, October 19, 2012

Pumpkin Centerpiece

 
 
      Part three of my fall decorations included painting artificial pumpkins for a week straight. I was covered in paint! My arms, legs, nails, and clothes were covered in metallic, pearl, and glittery paint. There are still a few holes in my centerpiece, but I can't figure out what to fill them with. I am happy to be done with it for now, and maybe I will fill the holes next fall!
     Do you want to hear something crazy? My husband took one look at my finished centerpiece and said, "You should Bedazzle them!" in a completely serious voice, tone, and face. I busted out laughing until I realized he was being serious. My response was, "I thought about adding some gems or pearls, but didn't want to go overboard with the sparkle." I am still replaying the very odd conversation that we had over and over in my head. I can honestly say that was the first time "Bedazzle" has ever come out of my husband's mouth!
    What are you all decorating this fall?