Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!  Thank you to everyone that follows me, I appreciate your friendship more than you can imagine!

I’m sending you all wishes for peace and joy!

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Cinnamon Christmas Ornaments

Looking for something fun to do with the kids this week?  Make these very aromatic ornaments!!!  You can use them on your tree as decorations or tie them onto gifts.  They are very easy to make and need about 2 to 3 days to completely dry.

Here’s the recipe (but DON’T eat them, they are NOT edible!!):

2 cups Cinnamon

1-1/2 Applesauce, NOT chunky

2 tsp ground Nutmeg

2 tsp ground Cloves

4 Tb Elmer’s Glue

Mix all the ingredients well.  When completely mixed, divide the dough in two parts,  roll out one batch between sheets of plastic wrap. Keep the dough around a 1/4″ think, if you make it too thin the ornaments will curl or break.  Using a toothpick or a small straw, put a hole in the top of the ornaments for the ribbon.  Place on cookie racks to dry.  After they are completely dry, you can carefully use a fingernail file to finish off the edges, tie a pretty ribbon in the ornament for hanging.

Spiced Apple Cider Float

If  you love a good root beer float, you might want to try a spiced apple cider float!  I posted this last Christmas season but thought I would share it again since its the best time to buy apple cider!!  Oh, and I am pretty sure if you wanted to make an “adult” float, eliminate the pumpkin pie spice and use cinnamon whiskey instead.  Enjoy!

I bought some root beer and a pork roast to make pulled pork sandwiches along with a root beer barbeque sauce; the root beer had me dreaming of a root beer float.   But I was sipping a cup of hot spiced cider, so my thoughts went down a different path, I don’t know about you but my mind is like a computer with about 100 tabs open…. Anyway,  I made an apple cider float instead.  And boy oh boy was that yummy!

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It’s not all that difficult to make, the amount of ice cream and cider you use depends mostly on the size of mug you use, you really don’t need a recipe but here is what I did.

Of course I pulled out the BIGGEST mug I had and filled it with vanilla ice cream.  I’m sort of ashamed but yet a little proud that I used about 1-1/2 cups of ice cream…well, it was actually frozen yogurt but anyway… I heated 3/4 cup of apple cider with a dash of pumpkin pie spice, it’s not just for pumpkin pie…its combination of all the spices I love so why not!!  Heating the cider is not necessary but I love that it melted the ice cream and made it so much more creamier and the heat also helps to blend the spice into the cider instead of it just floating on top.

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Then I poured the hot spiced cider over the ice cream, put on a big dollop of whipped cream and drizzled it with caramel sauce, instant heaven!  I curled myself up with a blankie on the sofa and watched a Christmas movie while enjoying my new treat!

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Cranberry Sauce

According to some conversations I’ve heard, you are either a fan of homemade cranberry sauce or canned.  And this is true as there have been many members of my family that will only eat one or the other.  For me, it has to be homemade.  My Mammaw taught me how to make her recipe and for years that’s exactly how I made it.  Until about the last 7 years.  I started to cook the berries on the stove and each time I made it I would vary the ingredients.

But this is by far my favorite!

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1 bag of Cranberries

1 cup Apple Cider (or water)

1-1/4 cup Sugar

Pinch each of Nutmeg and Ground Cloves

1/8 tsp Cinnamon

1 T Brown Sugar

1/4 tsp Vanilla

Zest from an orange, and the juice

Wash, drain and pick through the cranberries.  Place the berries in saucepan and add the cider (or water) and cook over a medium heat until the berries have popped, this should be a low simmer.  Stir often and don’t let them boil!!

Reduce the heat to low and add the sugars, the spices, the orange zest and juice and stir until the sugar is melted.  If you have some berries that have not popped you can mush them while you are stirring the mixture together.

When the sugars have melted, remove the pan from the heat and add the vanilla.  The sauce will thicken as it cools.  Once cooled cover and refrigerate.

You can really change this up with some different flavors; I’ve added honey, orange marmalade, mango nectar, different liquors, and apples.

This is great served with your holiday meals or as a condiment on your sandwiches.  Enjoy!

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The BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER!!

I love this chocolate chip cookie recipe!  LOVE IT!

Chocolate Chip Cookies (2)

I love making them for me!  I love making them for family!  I just love eating them fresh out of the oven with an ice cold glass of milk!!!

Chocolate Chip Cookies (1)

Here’s the recipe:

2 cups plus 2T flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

Place in a large bowl and set aside.

1 cup butter (2 sticks) melted

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed (( I have been known to throw in an additional 1-2 T))

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 egg yolk

1/2 T vanilla extract

Add the melted butter to the sugars and whisk well, set aside to cool.  When cool, add the eggs and vanilla.  Transfer butter and sugar mixture to the flour bolw and mix by hand until ust combined.  Don’t over mix!

Add 2 cups of chocolate chips

3/4 cups walnuts chopped (optional)

Fold in the chocolate chips and nuts if using to the cookie batter.  Cover and refrigerate for and hour or two, or overnight which is what I typically do.

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Preheat oven to 325.  Drop balls, a little smaller than a golf ball onto your cookie sheet.  Bake for about 12-14 minutes.  Allow to cool on your cookie sheet for about 5 minutes or so, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.  I bake mine on a baking stone and they bake up perfectly every time!  Store in an airtight container….if they last that long!

The Crafty Side of Me!

I was so busy over the holidays with a new job, physical therapy and making a few crafts.   I had intended to post them as I made them but it just didn’t happen.  So I guess I’ll just have to post it all now!!

Christmas a year ago, my daughter and I made those Christmas balls with the glitter, yanno which one I mean right?  They are now all over Pinterest!  But this year I wanted to use paint, not glitter.  So I checked out TONS of You Tube tutorials and they were pretty much all the same technique. 

I may have used too much paint because I had some gorgeous color combinations but by the time all the excess paint drained out it had altered my designs. 

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What I did was gathered and arranged my acrylic paint into the color combos that I wanted.  I would strategically squirt in the paint, cover the opening with a piece of paper towel and shake it until I got the design and mixture I wanted.

Then I set the balls upside down, turning them occasionally to get the paint to run out.  Unfortunately, I did these in the evening and by the time I got up in the morning some paint had settled in one spot and ruined my design.  Oh well, lessons learned.  They still look pretty good and next year I’ll put them in a jar or basket for display.  Next Christmas I hope to do a better job so I can hang them on my tree.

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I made 2 shadow boxes and I love them so much that I may do them as gifts next year.  So that means I will need to start collecting coupons from craft stores and buy them months before Christmas so I can get them at a discount.

Here is the first one that I did, I saw it on Pinterest:

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I took the back off of the frame and cut a piece of scrapbook paper to fit and attached it to the back of the frame.  My girlfriend has some sort of machine that prints the vinyl letters so she did that part for me.  Then, while the back of the frame was off, I added different sized bells.  You can add as many or as little as you want.  I put the back on the frame and put the letters on top of the glass.

Then I started to think of other designs and came up with this one:

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I basically did the same thing but added some “snow”.  I bought the bagged snow at the craft store, I really loved using that because some of it stuck to the inside of the glass and it looks like it is snowing!!!

With the snow that was leftover, I dumped in an apothecary jar and set 2 silver glitter ornaments that I had from last year.  I saw this in a magazine somewhere but they had something different setting in with the snow.  The jar is pictured to the right of the glitter votive cup below.

I made 2 glitter candle votive cups.

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I bought the glass cups at the dollar store.  I quickly slathered on the Mod Podge to the outside of the glass containers and then dunked each side in a plate full of glitter.  A girl can’t have too many sparkly and glittery things!!  I loved the look of them in the evening when the only light I had going on was candle light!  However the glitter does drop off when touched so I think I might look into some sort of a sealer to spray over it.

I also made several scarves, here’s three of them:

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I’ll be setting up an Etsy shop and selling them there.

And finally, my gorgeous peacock feather Christmas wreath!  LOVE!! 

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I bought an peacock feather wreath at an import store and simply added the blue balls and hydrangea flowers.  I was however, stuck on which color to go with.  I also had some green balls and flowers that matched the inside of the feather but decided to stick with the blue. 

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Stay tuned though, there are some additional types of ornaments that I will be making yet!  I’m saving those for some cold wintery weekend when it’s just too bitter outside and I want to hibernate for a few days.  It doesn’t have to be Christmas to make ornaments!!!

Thanksgiving (and Christmas) Dinner

WOW it’s been a long time since I have last posted anything!  Guess a new job and physical therapy will keep a girl busy.  I’m kinda tired of grilled cheese, guess it’s time to start cooking!!  And man oh man do I have some idea’s so stay tuned!

I was hoping to post this before Thanksgiving so you could see what delicious dishes I was serving my family, but yea, that new job and PT changed my plans a little…  BUT this will also be my Christmas dinner!

I heard someone talking at work about making mashed potatoes the night before and then baking them just before dinner.  Hmm, I can do that.  I found “butter potatoes” at the store so I thought I’d give them a try.  So Wednesday night I peeled and cooked them, mashed them with a masher (not the mixer as I usually do).  Add about half a stick of butter and mix them in well.  This time I added some softened cream cheese too, it just made them a little more creamier, I wanted to use sour cream but since I forgot to put that on my shopping list…. I improvised and used the cream cheese.  I greased a casserole dish, poured in the mashed taters and in the fridge they went.  This can be baked at 275 till warm, but first dot the top with butter and cover.

Then I started on the cranberries.   Here’s the recipe:

1 bag of cranberries

¾ cup sugar

½ cup water

½ cup apple cider (NOT vinegar)

1 orange, run thru the food processor

1 tablespoon of Disoranno (optional)

Cranberry Sauce

Add the berries, sugar, water and apple cider to a saucepan.  Start with a high heat and as the mixture starts to bubble, you need to start turning the heat down.  You want the heat to be hot enough for a light boil/light simmer so the berries pop.  If you turn the heat too low, they just cook.  Whatever you do, DO NOT walk away.   I also like to cover the pan to keep the mess at a minimum AND so I don’t get splashed either!

Also, you can adjust the sweetness or tartness as your taste prefers.  You can start with just a half of a cup of sugar and add one tablespoon at a time.  Be careful when tasting, its hot!!!

While the berries are bubbling, go ahead and process your orange.  Now, I know we are always told not to use the pith of the orange, its bitter.  But, my Grandmother taught me to use the whole orange so that’s what I do.   I cut the orange up in quarters and toss it in the food processor until it is completely chopped up (smooshed up).    Remember to remove theseeds first!!!  When the berries are popped, reduce the heat to a very light simmer and add the orange and Disoranno if you are using it.

 If you don’t want to do the orange that way then don’t.  Instead you can zest the orange peel and set aside.  When the berries are popped go ahead and cut the orange in half and squeeze all the juice into the pan of berries and add the orange zest.

Cook the berries on low for about 5 minutes or so and remove from heat, transfer the berries to a heat resistant bowl to cool and thicken.

Next, I prepared the sweet potato casserole.  I’m in love with this dish.   And the recipe is:

5-6 Sweet Potatoes

4 T Butter, softened

1/3 cup Sugar

FOR THE TOPPING:

1 cup Brown sugar

1/2 cup Flour

1 teaspoon Cinnamon

Butter, cold and cubed

Sweet Potato Casserole

Mash the cooked sweet potatoes in your bowl, add the softened butter and sugar.  Pour into a greased 9×9 casserole baking dish.  In a separate bowl,  add the cinnamon, flour and brown sugar and blend with a fork.  Toss in the butter and cut in with either 2 knives or with a hand-held pastry blender.  When the mixture is all crumbly, place on top the mashed sweet potatoes and smooth over evenly.   At this point I covered the dish with foil and put it in the fridge with the other potatoes.  Bake at about 325 for about 30 minutes, or until heated thru.  About the last 10 minutes I remove the foil.

I made my traditional maple glazed carrots but I made them boozy too! 

1 bag frozen carrot slices

¼ cup water for the steamer

¼ cup Maple syrup

¼ cup Brown Sugar

1-2 tablespoons Whiskey

Boozy Glazed Carrots

I steamed a bag of carrot slices in my microwave.  I have this awesome steamer from Pampered Chef that I just love.  When the carrots are tender I drain them, add the butter, maple syrup, and brown sugar and heat in the microwave for about 2 minutes.  Stir in the whiskey and heat again, for about 3 more minutes.  Feel free to add a little more syrup or brown sugar if you want them sweeter.  A little more whiskey would also be delish!

*I didn’t take a picture of the turkey, not quite sure why, guessing we were really hungry and there was no time.  It was prolly more like me forgetting…. sigh

For the turkey, I quartered a large onion and placed that in the cavity of the turkey.  I then take about 3-4 tablespoons of butter cut into cubes and set aside on a plate.  In a bowl I mix up some garlic powder, seasoned salt, poultry seasoning, and salt and pepper.  If I am feeling a little daring, I go thru all my spices and herbs and play around with other additions.  Set this aside.  With clean hands, gently slide your fingers under the turkey skin, try to slide them all over the breast meat in down into the thighs if you can.  Then, grab some small amounts of the seasoning you mixed up and begin to spread that under the skin, rub it all over the meat.  When you are finished with that, start to place the butter dots under the skin too.  Tie up the bird and try to pin down the skin so it covers the breast meat.  I couldn’t find my turkey pins this year and I really wanted to cry over that.  I will probably find them next week, after I buy new pins for Christmas dinner.

For my stuffing (not sure why I call it stuffing as I don’t stuff the bird)

3 bags store bought bread cubes

6 eggs

2 tablespoons parsley

1 tablespoons poultry seasoning

1 tablespoon sage

5 cups chicken or turkey stock

1 large onion

½ stick butter

Salt & Pepper to taste

Stuffing

I chopped and diced the onion, melted the butter on the stove and simmered the onions until they were tender.  Remove from heat.  I sometimes use a stalk of celery along with the onion but I omitted it this time around.   Put the eggs in a large bowl and lightly break them up, add the parsley, poultry seasoning and sage and some salt & pepper, whisk until blended.  Pour in about 5 cups of broth.  This can vary depending on how moist you like your stuffing.   Then, when the onions and butter are cool, add them to the egg mixture.

I usually work with one bag of bread cubes at a time.  Pour one bag into a very large bowl and start ladling the egg and broth mixture over the bread.  Mix with your hands, add more as you need it but don’t make it so wet that it is all mushy, it is bread after all!! When you have that bag done, add it to your baking pan ( I use a very large foil pan ).  Repeat with each bag.  If you are noticing that you are running low on liquid and you are on the last bag, add some more broth and another egg to liquid bowl.  After you get all the bags done and into the pan mix them together too.  Now, My Mom used to kinda make large balls of stuffing.  You can if you want but I just bake loose.  I cover with foil and put it in the oven with the sweet potatoes.  When the potatoes are done I remove them from the oven, uncover the stuffing and bake for about 15 more minutes or until it is completely heated thru.  Or longer if you prefer your stuffing a little more….. Crispy?  Toasted?  Crunchy?

The only other thing I made was buttered corn and heated some store bought rolls. 

My 9 year old grandson said that it was the BEST Thanksgiving EVER!   These recipes fed 4 and I had enough leftovers to send home with my kids.  I love doing that!!!  Christmas will pretty much be a repeat of Thanksgiving dinner, my kids love it and refuse to let me try new dishes.  Warms my heart that they love our traditional dinner (sigh)

Happy Holidays everyone!!