Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Minty Wonderfulness

Image: Maggie Smith / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mint is definitely one of my favorite flavors, especially around Christmas because I associate Christmas with peppermint candy canes. Here are some of my favorite ways to incorporate peppermint into December besides the traditional candy canes!

Peppermint Patty Cookies from Ava Catau

Peppermint Mocha Hot Chocolate from Clumbsy Cookie

Chewy Molasses Peppermint Cookies from Tasty Kitchen

Monday, November 29, 2010

Blogger Love: Giveaway at Gimme Some Oven

As you can see from my earlier post today, I absolutely love Gimme Some Oven and frequently take her recipes to try! But something great going on over there is her giveaway of a $50 Marshalls Homegoods Gift Card! So head over there and enter!

Delicious: Recipes I Tested After Thanksgiving

I know, I know- you're supposed to cook everything BEFORE Thanksgiving and then enjoy the leftovers all weekend. But my family always eats with our neighbor's family and they take over on the cooking. So I had to spend Friday and Saturday testing out some of the recipes I wanted to try. But it was delicious time spent in the kitchen!

Friday, I woke up and made pumpkin pancakes for my family to try another pumpkin recipe. It was super delicious and tasted vaguely like the pumpkin pie I had enjoyed the day before. Apparently, though, I left the picture on my mom's camera. But trust me, you should make them TOMORROW. They are so easy and super tasty!

After shopping a little in the late morning because crazy shopping in the morning is not my thing, I mixed up some apple cider vinaigrette for a salad with leftover turkey and radishes.  It was a light, refreshing salad to combat the overeating from Thursday!

I also whipped up some spice cookie dough to freeze until I get home in December from the December Martha Stewart magazine. We mixed some up for rolled and cut cookies and some for thumbprints. The pan wasn't big enough to freeze all of the thumbprints, so we just HAD to bake up the remaining three cookies and topped them with key lime marmalade. Yum!

On Saturday, I mixed up some pumpkin biscotti from Gimme Some Oven, but I used Heath bar pieces instead of nuts because my mom doesn't like nuts in baked goods. Go figure. So the biscotti taste more like Heath bars than pumpkin, but are great for a snack.

I also mixed up some of my favorite gingerbread cookie recipe to freeze for Christmas time. The recipe is actually from one of the little box kits at Barnes and Noble with the tiny gingerbread house, but here it is:

Gingerbread Recipe

1 c vegetable shortening
1 c sugar
1 c dark molasses or corn syrup
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
4 or 4 ½ cup flour

Melt the first 3 ingredients in the microwave.  Stir in the next 5 ingredients.  Then stir in the flour, one cup at a time. (You may want to use an electric mixer on the last cup as the dough gets quite thick and hard to stir).  Split the dough into manageable balls and wrap in plastic wrap.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour. Preheat the oven to 375°

Roll the dough, working with half of a batch at a time on a lightly floured work surface with floured hands.  Knead the dough until smooth.  Place a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and roll the dough to 1/8 inches thick.

Dust the cookie cutters in flour so they don’t stick.  Bake the cookies for 6-10 minutes or until they are not over-soft when lightly touched.  Transfer to a baking rack and let cool completely.

Oh, and I whipped up this super delicious cranberry pomegranate sauce from Gimme Some Oven. It is really tart, but simple to put together and cook.

And I whipped up some peppermint mint marshmallows and will post a picture when I start handing them out as early Christmas presents with hot chocolate! Beware, though, making marshmallows is quite a process- messy and time consuming but so worth it!

Have a wonderful week!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wonderful Weekend: The Food

Fresh Carrots from City Roots at the Farmer's Market 
(I ended up getting a bunch of them because they looked too good to pass up)

I had the pleasure of going to the Columbia All Local's Farmer's Market this past Saturday at City Roots because the market moves out of downtown when there is a football game downtown. 

It was so great to walk around the farm literally inside of the city and next to the airport. I love being able to see where my food comes from because it just feels right.

And there was a vendor I hadn't seen before. They started their business a couple of months ago as ARTISAN SALT MAKERS. So neat! The lady at the table was so enthusiastic and explained that they only make small batches of their salt and hand grind it for the consistency they aim for.  She also let the group that had formed around her table try a pink peppercorn (actually a berry) and it was delicious! 

They have some great flavors like rosemary, rosemary & pink peppercorn, pink peppercorn, three mushroom, a really strong truffle salt,  and lavender salt. I bought one as a present, but I can't reveal which one here! I'm definitely going to get more when I go back, but I ran out of cash before I went to her booth.

After getting some food shopping done, I made these peanut butter cookies for my friend's wedding shower. I dipped them in dark chocolate because the cookies were not super sweet and the chocolate just was the perfect complement. I think this will be my go-to peanut butter cookie recipe from now on- it doesn't require shortening and all of the ingredients are usually around my house.

And I also made these cinnamon cupcakes but I just made a simple glaze with powdered sugar, a little milk, cinnamon and vanilla extract. It was perfect because the cupcakes were a cross between a cupcake and a muffin so a thick icing would have just been too heavy. 

It was a great shower with all of our church friends around and just a refreshing way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

I hope you are getting prepared for the big Turkey Day- I'm headed home today to help prepare with my mom and try a great cranberry dressing recipe. I couldn't be more excited to just spend time at home and in the kitchen with my mom (spoiler: she has a ton of molasses and we're making a batch of gingerbread dough for the freezer). 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Wonderful Weekend 1: Thrifty Finds

By all accounts, I had a wonderful weekend- my friend and I went shopping for a wedding shower, my dad met me in Columbia and we had a wonderful lunch and walked along the river bank, and my dad even went to the antique store with me!

I was beyond surprised that he agreed to come, but he actually found some cool stuff and enjoyed looking around!

One of the vendors was in the antique mall when we were there and was marking all of his items in various booths 66% off and told us that if we found anything else, he would discount it further! I found this amazing Indian wood carved stand with a detachable top ($17.50) AND a cookbook holder in the same woodwork style ($7.50).

I have been dying for one of the cookbook holders after I saw one at a thrift store and decided to not spend $10 on it (silly me) but I was so excited to find these two pieces!

I also picked up 5 depression glass sherbet cups in my pattern, yellow Madrid. So wonderful! I'm working on creating a 6 piece tea set with plates and bowls and sherbet cups, so this was great! And they were only $2.50 a piece- a steal.

And I went to the Salvation Army on Saturday after going to the farmer's market and picked up a great printed scarf, a weekly meal planner and some Christmas presents.

These weekend make the looking all worth it. I love thrifting and antiquing! 

PS: check back later today for the post about my wonderful FOOD weekend events!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Sides

To complement the wonderful turkey (or other main dish) you make, try these great sides! I looked for easy ones because if we all can eat delicious food with minimal effort, why not?!

Easy Brussels Sprouts from Sprout and Pea

Roasted Pear-Butternut Squash Soup from Eating Well (can be made and refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month)

Roast Pumpkin Salad from Closet Cooking

Garlicky Green Beans from Eating Well (can be made 1 day ahead)

Easy Cranberry Sauce from Confessions of a Foodie Bride

Pumpkin Gorgonzola Flan from Eat. Live. Travel. Write

Chili Beer Bread from (never home)maker

Red Pepper-Cheese Dip from Cooking Light (can be made a couple of days ahead)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving Menu Ideas: Turkey


"There are four unbroken rules when it comes to Thanksgiving: there must be turkey and dressing, cranberries, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie."
John Hadamuscin
'John Hadamuscin's Down Home' (1993)

I'm excited! This week, I want to share some awesome recipes that would be great on your Thanksgiving table this year. I hope you enjoy!

Herb Roasted Turkey Breast with Pan Gravy from the Food Network

Roasted Turkey Breast (great if you don't need to feed a ton of people!)
from What's Gaby Cooking?

I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving with family and friends! Look forward to more recipes for sides and desserts this week too!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Calendars, Anyone?

This would SO be the perfect gift for an owl-lover, or organized person, on your list. As I fall into both categories, I am going to download this after class today and hang it as soon as the calendar year changes. 

Happy gifting!

Christmas Presents: Packaging

How are you going to package all of your lovely Christmas presents? I love these ideas for making presents even more special!

Something Special Card + Envelope from Sew, Mama, Sew!

JCasaSMSProjectJan2010envelopes.jpg title=

Newspaper Gift Bag from Jessica at How About Orange

Felt Bow at Twig and Thistle


Mini Take Out Boxes at Mirkwood Designs

Transformer-Envelope-Tote Tutorial from Etsy's Blog

Covered Paint Can from Design*Sponge


And of course Martha has a slideshow of her favorite packaging ideas. More inspiration!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Christmas Ornaments

So how are you decorating your Christmas tree? You should whip up a few of these wonderful ornaments to hang on your crafty tree!

Accordion Fold Book Ornament from Stephanie at By Stephanie Lynn

Cupcake Ornament at Craft Bits (a little bit of low calorie goodness!)

Image for Tree Ornament - Cupcake DIY Craft Project

Edible Cupcake Ornament (not low calorie, but still goodness) from Family Fun

Edible Ornament Cupcake

Mini Mittens at Pink Argyle

Felt Pomander at Betz White's blog

I hope you enjoy these ornaments- I can't wait to start my crafting!

I linked up to:

Harry Potter BROWNIES

Well, they're actually pumpkin blondies, but they remind me of Harry Potter a lot and the Half Blooded Prince premieres tomorrow, so they are Harry Potter brownies!

I adapted this recipe from Baking Junkie, but only used about 1/2 to 3/4 cup pumpkin puree because thats what I had on hand (its slowly disappearing!) Also, I used allspice instead of cloves because I just don't want to buy cloves when allspice is a perfect substitute. I even think it has a tad better flavor also, I may cut the butter down by 4 tablespoons or so because they were a little too moist for my taste (they took a long time to cook, even though I used a 9x13 pan instead of an 8x8 pan.

You should run out and try this recipe RIGHT NOW because it smelled so good while cooking and reminded me of a pumpkin spice latte. It might just be a perfect Thanksgiving weekend dessert!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Christmas Presents: Food Lovers

Its not really a secret that I love food and a lot of things revolve around food, so why can't some of my Christmas presents?  Some of the ideas that I'm thinking about are already in the Christmas Present Ideas: Large Batches, but here are some more ideas that I've bookmarked.

Tea Wreath from Kojo Designs

Oven Mitts from The Idea Room

Rubber Lace Coasters from Design*Sponge

Mailing Tube Wine Rack from Design*Sponge

Insulated Lunch Bag from Sew 4 Home

Click to Enlarge

Insulated Shopping Tote from Sew 4 Home

Click to Enlarge

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Holiday Flavors

I'm so excited for the holidays and its taking all of my strength to not start decorating for Christmas, but I can plan out what I'll be serving throughout the season!

Please vote and tell me what YOUR favorite flavor is, because I love a challenge and I want to feature some recipes that I normally probably wouldn't.

So what do you want to see on my blog for Christmas recipes?