Friday, December 19, 2014

my wish to you...

My wish to you is that you keep Christmas in you heart all year long; that you remember the value and worth of your family and friends.  My wish to you is that you show your loved ones how much they mean to you ALL year long, and not just at Christmas.  My wish to you is that this new year will be all that you hope--DREAM BIG!!!

I am taking a break for the next two weeks.  Not tired of blogging or anything, but even doing what you love the most, you sometimes need to recharge your batteries.  What better time than when I am off work too?  Perfect timing is what it is!  Follow me on Instagram for my latest adventures!

Thanks so much for reading and supporting me!  I hope that you have felt how much I value you, my dear reader, with my many giveaways!

Have a joyful holiday, and a beautiful new year!  <3

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

German butter cookies

One of my favorite holiday traditions is making Christmas cookies.  My favorite cookie?  A delicious butter cookie (although shortbread is a very close second).  During the Christmas season as a child, my family would make butter cookies.  My mom would make the dough; my dad would roll the dough out, and my brother and I would press the cookies.  Then mom would watch while they baked.

German butter cookies
{German butter cookies}

This year, I wanted to share this recipe because this is the first time that I have made the dough myself.  I rolled the dough out, and I pressed cookie with cutters that I used as a child.  It brought back so many good memories, but I also made new ones.

German butter cookies
 {My mom prefers them with jelly in between, but I prefer the single cookie}

German butter cookies
{Jelly-filled and single cookies}

German butter cookies

Makes 36-48 cookies (depends on the shapes and sizes)

2 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature (250 g)
2/3 cup sugar (140 g)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour (500 g)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
Zest of a lemon
  1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  2. In another bowl, mix dry ingredients together and whisk until combined.
  3. Once the butter and sugar are creamed, add eggs and vanilla, beating until light and fluffy.
  4. Slowly add flour mixture and mix until just combined.
  5. Allow dough to sit in the fridge overnight.
  6. Preheat oven to 350.
  7. Roll out dough until about 1/4 inch thick; cut cookies out of dough.
  8. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges just begin to turn golden.
  9. Cool for 1-2 minutes on a cookie sheet and then transfer to cooling racks.
  10. These can be eaten plain, with jam sandwiched in between, and/or with powdered sugar.
Does your family make Christmas cookies?  Do you have a favorite?  If you're still looking for that perfect cookie, head over to this Christmas cookie recap for some ideas!

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

brown butter sweet potato alfredo

I absolutely love sweet potatoes, but I don't eat them very often because The Hubby doesn't like them at all.  I've tried every which way.  So when he has dinner with his friends, I invite my mom over to share in my food indulgences. 

I know this combination of sweet potatoes and brown butter and Alfredo sounds completely ridiculous, but people--it's ridiculously DELICIOUS!  I cooked the sweet potatoes beforehand so this recipe was done in about 30 minutes.

Brown Butter Sweet Potato Alfredo
 {Brown Butter Sweet Potato Alfredo}

Brown Butter Sweet Potato Alfredo
 {Brown Butter Sweet Potato Alfredo with Parmesan on top}

Brown Butter Sweet Potato Alfredo
from table for two

Makes 4 servings

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound sweet potato, cubed into 2-inch cubes (KY Proud)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less depending on heat preference)
Cooked pasta
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the cubed sweet potatoes and cook until fork tender. Carefully place sweet potatoes into a blender and puree until smooth.
  2. In a large pot over medium heat, add the butter and brown.  Click here for a tutorial.
  3. Once the butter is browned, whisk in flour for 30 seconds. 
  4. Turn the heat up to medium-high and carefully add the milk and continue whisking until mixture thickens, about 3-4 minutes. 
  5. Add the pureed sweet potatoes. 
  6. Let the mixture simmer for 5-7 minutes until thickened then add the Parmesan cheese, cayenne, salt, pepper, and turn off the heat. If the mixture seems too thick, you can add more milk to thin it out.
  7. Add the cooked pasta to the pot and toss until well-coated.
  8. Serve! 
This is a great way to indulge but not over-do it.  You can even make this for lactose-intolerant family members.

So tell me, besides sweet potato casserole at Thanksgiving, do you eat sweet potatoes?  I have a weakness for sweet potato fries and curried ketchup.  Or even baked sweet potatoes with butter and cinnamon!  Okay, so you get I love sweet potatoes!  How do you love yours?

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

parmesan pull aparts

Another great Christmas, or any party, idea for bread is this recipe for Parmesan garlic bread (essentially).  My family has been making these for years, and they always go quickly!  They are so easy, and they can be made ahead of time then popped in the oven.

parmesan pull aparts
 {parmesan pull aparts}

parmesan pull aparts
 {The bottom of the biscuits that have absorbed the buttery goodness and had a crunchy, cheesy bottom}

Parmesan Pull Aparts

Makes 12 servings

2 cans of jumbo buttermilk biscuits (8 each)
1 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 teaspoon garlic powder
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Pour butter in a 9x13 casserole baking dish.
  3. Sprinkle cheese and garlic powder on top of butter.
  4. Using a knife or scissors, cut each biscuit into quarters.
  5. Drop biscuit quarters on top of butter mixture, making sure at least some of each biscuit touches the butter.
  6. Bake until golden on top, about 15-20 minutes.
  7. Serve!
Does your family have a favorite bread recipe?

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Monday, December 15, 2014


One of the most famous drinks of Christmas is eggnog.  I'm not the biggest fan; usually one glass a year will cure me of the craving.  The Hubby on the other hand, can drink it in gallons.  He loves my mom's eggnog so this year, I asked her if she could teach me.  She was happy to (especially because now she'll ask me to make it from now on--love you mom!), and I couldn't believe how easy it was!

 {eggnog with spice cookies}

 {The color of the eggnog will depend on the eggs that you use--using fresh farm KY Proud eggs will result in the color above while using store eggs will make it much lighter yellow, almost white}


Makes 2 quarts

8 egg yolks (KY Proud)
2 whole eggs (KY Proud)
3-5 cups powdered sugar (depends on how sweet you want it)
1-12 oz can evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup clear vodka or rum (optional)**
  1. Place yolks and whole eggs in a mixing bowl and turn to medium for 2 minutes.
  2. Slowly add sugar 1 cup at a time, waiting until each cup is fully incorporated.  My family typically uses 3 1/2-4 cups.
  3. Slowly add the milk and vanilla to the egg mixture.
  4. Taste and adjust.
  5. Optional:  Slowly add liquor and turn to low to combine.
  6. Store in an airtight container like a Mason jar for up to 2 weeks (at the most!  It's best to drink it all as soon as possible)
This will definitely be a big hit with the parties and family gatherings you still have coming up!  Do you like eggnog?

**If you are using alcohol, then please enjoy responsibly!Pin It

Friday, December 12, 2014

food for thought

I know that I've used this quote before, but it's one of my absolute favorites!  I believe this especially rings true during Christmas time.  As you are running around stressing out about presents, just remember the Christmas was never about buying audacious presents; it's about spending quality time with those you care the most about!

I am so proud and happy that my family decided not to buy each other Christmas presents this year; instead, we made the decision to spend time together doing some fun Christmas activities like going to see the Nutcracker, baking cookies, and having lunch together.  I must say, I believe this is my favorite Christmas yet!

I am also using this quote because we are having a Hobbit Party on Sunday (complete with breakfast, lunch and tea!) in preparation of the movie coming out on Wednesday (which The Hubby and I are seeing right after I get out of work!).

I hope that you have a wonderful weekend!

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

gourmet gifts | recipe in a jar

I have been meaning to try these recipes in a jar gift ideas for a few years now so this year I did it!  I even converted one of my original recipes into a jar recipe!

First up are cookies.  These cookies were fabulous and so easy; plus the jar looks beautiful!

 {Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies in a jar}

Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies
from cul de sac cool

Makes 18 cookies

1 quart Mason jar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans (nut-free option: 1/2 cup rolled oats)
  1. Mix the flour, baking soda and salt together.
  2. Layer all the ingredients in a 1 quart mason jar in the order listed.
  3. Print this FREE DIY Printable PDF file on card stock and cut out.
  4. Attach recipe tags to jar.
  5. Give out to family and friends! 
You can substitute out the dried fruit and chocolate for other flavors like raisin/semi-sweet chocolate, cranberries/semi-sweet chocolate, strawberries/semi-sweet chocolate, banana/semi-sweet chocolate, etc.  They are only limited by your imagination!
Next, I made my favorite bean/legume soups into a recipe in a jar!  This is so easy, and it was delicious!  This is even vegetarian friendly!

 {Lentil Soup in a jar}

Lentil Soup

Makes 8 servings

1 quart Mason jar
2 cups lentils
1 cup dried soup mix (carrots, onions, parsley, celery, etc)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 bay leaf
  1. Layer all the ingredients in a 1 quart mason jar in the order listed.
  2. Print this FREE DIY Printable PDF file on card stock and cut out.
  3. Attach recipe tags to jar.
  4. Give out to family and friends! 
I've already given them out to a couple of co-workers, and they said the jars were too pretty to empty!  Plus, they even got to try them out before I gave them the jars (I'm sneaky like that).  That is my one BIG piece of advice: try out the recipe BEFORE you give it out.  Most importantly, make it exactly how your gift-receivers would make it.  I made the cookies and soup exactly how they would if I had received them in a jar.  Luckily, they both turned out great on the first try for me, but that might not be true of other recipes.

So there you have it!   An entire week of homemade, easy, gourmet gifts!  I hope that you and your gift-receivers enjoy these delicious recipes!

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

gourmet gifts | infused oil

Another great and easy homemade gourmet gift is infused oils.  Flavored oils add more depth to dishes.  Plus they can be customized so you can give personalized gifts to your friends and family!

infused oil
 {infused oil}

infused oil
   {Don't forget to put expiration dates on the oil!}

Be careful when making infused oils from fresh ingredients like garlic because it can lead to botulism.  Read here for more information, but if you follow the directions for the fresh method below, you will greatly reduce the risk of botulism.

Infused Oil

Makes 1 quart

1 quart olive oil
Herbs and spices
Bottles with airtight lids
  1. Dry method: If using dried herbs and spices, mix with olive oil and allow to set for 1 week before gifting.  Attach gift tag with expiration date of 3 months from original mixing.
  2. Fresh method:  If using fresh herbs and spices, mix with olive oil in a casserole dish.  Roast in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes (oil should be bubbling).  Cool.  Store in the the fridge.  Attach gift tag with expiration date of 6 weeks from original mixing.
  3. Give out to family and friends! 
For more flavor combinations and ideas, head to Epicurious!

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

gourmet gifts | spice gift basket

You know those little spice packets you get at the store for like taco seasoning, etc?  For someone in your life who uses those, why not give them the gift of homemade spice mixes?  They do not have any of the preservatives or other chemicals found in those packets from the store; plus they can be made in about 5 minutes!

spice gift basket
 {spice gift basket}

spice gift basket
{Make sure you label those jars!}

Spice Basket

Fajita Seasoning
Taco Seasoning
Cajun Seasoning
1 basket
3 airtight jars
  1. Mix enough of each spice mix to fill your jars.
  2. Using a marker or label, mark which jar contains which seasoning mix.
  3. Place spice mixes in a basket.
  4. Give out to family and friends!  
As an added bonus, here's the gift tag already created!  You can just print it off and attach it to the basket!

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Monday, December 8, 2014

how-to | freeze cookie dough

During this Christmas season, lots and lots of cookies will be made and consumed.  If your family is like mine, we make our more difficult cookies around this time of year (the ones you have to chill, roll out, etc).  Why not freeze that cookie dough so you can have those cookies throughout the month or over the the next few months?  Exactly!  So here's a short tutorial on how to freeze cookie dough

Step 1:  Make dough according to directions.

Step 2:  Line a platter or baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.

Step 3:  Scoop dough out with cookie scoop onto lined sheet.

Step 4:  Allow to freeze overnight.

Step 5:  Label a storage bag with cookie dough type and date.

Step 6:  Store up to 3 months in the freezer.

BONUS!!!  Give out cookie dough as a Christmas gift (especially to those who don't like to bake)!  Just get some nice gift bags and make tags for the temperature and time to bake them.

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

candied roasted nuts

Have you ever walked through the mall this time of year and smelled those roasted nuts?   Yeah me too!  Then I get some, and I can only eat a handful because they are so very sweet.  This year, I decided to try and replicate it at home.  Boy was it a success!  I took it to my family's Thanksgiving dinner to have them try it, and I was left with a quarter of what I came with!  It was a hit!

candied roasted nuts
 {candied roasted nuts}

candied roasted nuts
 {candied roasted nuts close up}

Candied Roasted Nuts

Makes 6 cups

6 cup pecan halves
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 egg whites
4 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 300.
  2. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or foil.
  3. Place pecans in a bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together cinnamon and sugar until well combined.
  5. In another bowl, whisk together egg whites, vanilla and salt until well combined.
  6. Pour egg white mixture over nuts and stir until completely coated.
  7. Add about 2/3 cinnamon sugar mixture to nuts and stir until completely coated. 
  8. Place nuts on baking sheet and sprinkle remaining cinnamon sugar mixture on top.
  9. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until nuts are browned and crispy.
  10. Cool completely.
  11. Enjoy!
These are perfect for a party because they can be made ahead of time (just try not to eat them all before the party!).

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

turtle candies

Christmas time means all kinds of parties, and that means food too!  I had these Turtle Candies a few years ago, and I have been obsessed ever since!  I made them and took them to work, and they were gone before lunch!  These are so easy and fast (10 minutes max), and everyone loved them.

turtle candies
 {turtle candies}

turtle candies
 {Close up view}

turtle candies

Makes 40-50 each

1 bag waffle style pretzels
1 bag Rolos, unwrapped (a small bag made about 50)
2 cups whole pecans, roasted
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. On a lined baking sheet, place a pretzel down first. 
  3. Top pretzel with one Rolo.
  4. Place baking sheet in oven for 2-3 minutes or until Rolo begins to melt.
  5. Pull out baking sheet and top each Rolo with 1 pecan half.  For a nut free option, top with another pretzel instead.
  6. Cool.
  7. Enjoy!
When I told my co-workers how I made them, they were all shocked because they thought it was going to be complicated.  In fact, someone went home that night and made them for family coming in that night.

What kinds of foods do you like to have around the holidays and at parties?

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

mulled wine

Christmas season means parties, families, and lots of food/drinks.  I'll be sharing some party recipes this week including this delicious mulled wine recipe that's been in my German family for years.  Germans drink this throughout the Christmas season, and I can't remember a Christmas without it!  (It's called Gluwein in German)

mulled wine
 {mulled wine}

mulled wine
 {If there is any left over (we've never had any but I made this recipe at home with just me, and I didn't feel like drinking an entire bottle of wine), cool and store in an airtight container.  Just reheat on the stove or in the microwave}

This recipe is very easy for a party in the crock-pot or on the stove, and then it just stews for a few hours. 

Mulled Wine

Makes 4 servings

1 bottle red wine
2 clementines, peeled and separated into segments
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
1/4-1/2 cup sugar (depends on your preference)
  1. Pour wine into a crock-pot.
  2. Place clementines, cinnamon, and cloves into the wine.
  3. Heat on low for 3-4 hours.
  4. Before serving, mix in sugar and taste.  The amount of sugar used depends entirely on your preference and what wine you purchased.
  5. Serve in coffee mugs and segments of clementines (they are the best part!).
  6. Enjoy!
This is a great after-outdoor activities like caroling, playing in the snow, decorating the house, etc.  It really warms your insides up.  Plus, your house smells amazing because of the cinnamon, cloves, and clementines.  As with any alcoholic drink, please enjoy responsibly!

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Monday, December 1, 2014

monthly munchies | December

I hope that everyone had a wonderful and relaxing Thanksgiving holiday!  Can you believe it's already DECEMBER?  Where does the time go?!

{Clementines--so cute, delicious, and healthy (especially this time of year)!}

Around this time of year, I simply devour clementines.  They are one of my absolute favorite fruits, and this is definitely the time of year to eat them to avoid getting sick!  I'll eat at least two per day until they aren't on sale anymore.  I'm also a snob; I only eat the ones grown in Spain (they taste better to me).

December is packed for me this year, but here is what's happening:
  • The first week of December I'll be sharing some of my favorite party recipes (hint: they are easy and so delicious!).
  • The second week of December I'll be sharing some homemade gifts that you can make in a series called gourmet gifts!  They are so easy and tasty (see a trend here?)
  • The third week of December I'll be sharing some recipes featuring local ingredients that are in season.
  • During December, I have booked myself every weekend with fun holiday stuff--a Christmas tea/brunch, decorating the house, the Nutcracker, cookie baking with the family, work Christmas party, The Hobbit movie, shopping for our yearly Christmas ornament, Christmas movie party, and Christmases with both of my families.  Whew!!!
  • I'll be taking about 2 weeks off around Christmas and New Year's.  It's the first time in several years that I have had a proper break so I am taking advantage of it (have I mentioned that I love my job--mall of that time is a paid holiday!).  Plus, I'll be in California for a week with my best friend!  I am SO EXCITED!!!!!
You can keep up with me on Instagram!  (or at least you can try!)

Since beginning in December, the local produce available drops down to almost nothing, I'll be combining it with this series just until April.  The local produce available in December is as follows:

Apples (beginning of month)
Sweet potatoes

Yup--that's it!  You can get these at Good Foods Co-Op (definitely); they will also have other produce that was grown in a greenhouse in Kentucky so that's the place to go!

Happy December everyone!

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