Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sierra Mist giveaway winner

Thanks to all who participated in the Sierra Mist giveaway, there were some realy awesome recipe ideas!

The winner is AubreyLaine whose recipe idea was:

"Coconut rum and sierra mist!"

Have a wonderful New Years Eve!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Real party: my North Dakota baby shower

Over the holidays my mother-in-law, Karen hosted a baby shower for me.  She really put in a lot of effort to make the shower lovely.  My favorite element of the shower was the dessert table.  We had cake, cookies, cupcakes, cinnamon twists, cream puffs, lemon bars and jelly beans.  I'm embarrassed to admit I ate one of everything...ok, not all in the same night, but over the course of the next few days. 

My sister-in-law, Nikki of Lovely Scribbles designed the invitations. 
Karen had pink roses at the table with pearls draped over the vase.  Karen's good friend Joan helped with all the decorations. 

The cake was super cute, made with fondant and buttercream, to look like a little girl's dress. 




Pretty bunting that said "it's a girl".


Adorable onesie cookies and sugar cookie sandwiches. The little sandwich cookies were SO GOOD.
More pretty centerpieces and an old photo of Erik and I right when we first started dating.  Don't we look young?
My mother-in-law and I snapped a quick photo before leaving for the shower. 

Erik's cousin Michelle made me an awesome diaper cake.


Karen had all the guests write advice on a little card for Erik and I.  There were some pretty funny ones.
Pretty, yummy red velvet cupcakes.


Tons and tons of presents.  People are way too generous....and they love to buy cute clothes and blankets for baby girls.  We received so many cute onesies, one piece pajamas, blankets, socks, booties, etc.  Erik and I could barely fit them all in our car on the way home. 

Huge thanks to Karen for hosting such a wonderful shower!!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cranberry kiss mocktail and a Sierra Mist giveaway

I have a fun post for you today that includes mocktails and a giveaway.  Ok, so maybe it would be a bit more fun if the drink was a cocktail, but hey, I haven't had a drink in about 7 months so it's all about the mocktail for me these days.

The Cranberry Kiss mocktail is something I whipped up with the holidays and New Years Eve in mind.  The key ingredient is Sierra Mist Natural, which gives it those festive bubbles! Pretty, aren't they?


Cranberry Kiss (Mocktail)

Ingredients:

• 2 oz. Sierra Mist Natural
• 2 ½ oz. cranberry juice
• 1 mint leaf
• Fresh lime juice (about 1/4 of a lime)

Directions:

1. In a martini shaker, muddle one mint leaf with lime juice

2. Add cranberry juice to the shaker; shake well and strain into a champagne glass

3. Top with Sierra Mist Natural

4. Garnish with three cranberries skewered on a toothpick

Now for the giveaway...Sierra Mist and I would like you to share a creative cocktail/mocktail recipe. One winner will receive a Sierra Mist Natural holiday gift pack which includes:
  • Martini shaker
  • Drink garnish/sugars
  • Party glasses
  • $50 Amex Gift Card (this will come in handy with all those after-the-holiday-sales) or perhaps you are hosting your own New Years Eve party? 
How to enter:

Leave a comment on this post with your own Sierra Mist Natural mocktail/cocktail recipe idea (it doesn't have to be exact...for example, you can write, "I would love a cocktail with Sierra Mist, vodka and a splash of pineapple juice")

I will choose one comment/winner using random.org.  Giveaway ends Friday, December 30 at midnight.  The winner will be announced on Saturday, December 31st.  US residents only.

Be sure to check out Sierra Mist on Facebook and submit your recipes on the Sierra Mixolgy tab!!

Disclaimer: I have partnered with Sierra Mist for this giveaway post. They provided me with the prize as well as compensation. The photos, recipe and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas in North Dakota

Every other year Erik and I spend the holidays with his family in North Dakota. The days spent are filled with lazy kitties, tons of food, relaxing and quality family-time.  Usually we sit in Erik's mom's hot tub and drink booze but this year with a baby on the way there was none of that (for me, Erik still did plenty of both).

Here is our Christmas in photos.
Christmas Eve dinner was awesome, we started off with appetizers including bruschetta, oysters and crackers (Erik's favorite), cheese and crackers, shrimp cocktail and cookies (yes, I ate cookies before dinner!).  If I can't drink wine then I should eat sweets, right?






One of Erik's mom's friends makes these amazing cinnamon twists.  They are delicious with a cup of coffee, or anytime really.
The traditional Christmas Eve dinner includes lobster tails and prime rib.  Next to chicken and dumplings (which we had on Thursday night) this is Erik's favorite meal.
Dessert was homemade maple nut ice cream. Amazing.
I missed my kitty Kody, who is a terrible traveler and stayed home.  Karen (Erik's mom) has two cute kitties that we snuggled with all weekend.
Present time!  This year Erik's mom bought us a washer and dryer.  Best Christmas present ever.  We also got a few other things including a Keurig coffee maker, gift cards, clothes, etc.  She gives us way too many presents every year.
Erik and his mom on Christmas day.
Breakfast on Christmas day included chocolate chip pancakes!
I ran outside when I saw the gorgeous orange sky as the sun set across the flat plains in North Dakota.  Lovely and strange, there was no snow in ND for Christmas this year.  It was also 40 degrees when we left to drive back to MN.  This type of mild weather is crazy!  But it sure makes the 6 hour drive nice and easy.

Karen hosted a wonderful baby shower for me while I was in North Dakota.  She had a dessert table filled with an adorable cake and tons of other sweets (she reads my blog everyday so she knows about my pregnancy-induced sweet tooth!).  Our nursery is filled with gifts (cute baby booties, clothes, gear, etc).  People are soooo generous.  I'll be sharing photos from that shower this week!

I hope you all enjoyed the holidays!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holiday cookie recipe: frying pan cookies

Frying pan cookies (recipe adapted from Cooks)

Ingredients

1 1/2 c. chopped dates
1/4 c. butter
1 c. sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cap full of vanilla
3 c. Rice Krispies
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped fine
1 bag coconut

Preparation

Mix dates, butter, sugar and eggs in frying pan. Cook 10 minutes or until dates are soft. Cool some, then add vanilla, Rice Krispies and walnuts.

Butter your hand well, roll mixture into balls then roll balls in coconut.

Holiday cookie recipe: Russian tea cake cookies

Russian tea cake cookies (recipe adapted from Allrecipes)

Ingredients

1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar for decoration

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a medium bowl, cream butter and vanilla until smooth. Combine the 6 tablespoons confectioners' sugar and flour; stir into the butter mixture until just blended. Mix in the chopped walnuts. Roll dough into 1 inch balls, and place them 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven. When cool, roll in remaining confectioners' sugar. I also like to roll mine in the sugar a second time.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday cookie recipe: Christmas cornflake wreaths

Christmas cornflake wreaths (recipe adapted from Kelloggs)


Ingredients

1/3 cup margarine or butter
1 package (10 oz. about 40) regular marshmallows
1 teaspoon green food coloring
6 cups cornflakes
Red cinnamon candies

Preparation

Melt margarine in large saucepan over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat. Stir in food coloring.



Add cornflakes cereal. Stir until well coated.


Portion warm cereal mixture evenly by using a 1/4 cup dry measure coated with cooking spray.

Using sprayed or buttered fingers, quickly shape into individual wreaths.  Dot with cinnamon candies or Skittles.

Store in single layer in airtight container.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday cookie recipe: snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles (recipe from Food Network)

Ingredients

For the topping:
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
or (for holiday baking) use red and green sugar

For the cookie dough:
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon and set aside.

To make the cookie dough, stir together the dry ingredients.

In a bowl with a paddle attachment, cream the butter. Add the sugar and continue to mix, then add the eggs, corn syrup, and vanilla, and mix thoroughly. Add the dry ingredients and mix until blended. Chill dough 1 hour if it's sticky or difficult to handle.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Roll balls of dough about the size of a walnut then roll them in the cinnamon sugar (or red/green sugar) to coat. Place on an un-greased sheet pan 2 1/2 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until puffed up and the surface is slightly cracked. Let cool on the sheet pan a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday cookie recipe: peanut butter blossoms

Peanut butter blossoms (recipe from Bakerella)

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, slightly softened
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
Hershey’s Kisses or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, or both

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Sift flour, soda and salt with a wire whisk and set aside.
Beat butter and peanut butter
Add sugar and beat until fluffy.
Add egg and vanilla.
Add flour mixture and combine.
Roll dough into 1 to 1-1/2 inch balls and then roll the balls in sugar to coat.

With Hershey Kisses or Peanut Butter Cups:

Place rolled balls on parchment paper covered baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and press an unwrapped Hershey’s Kisses candy or Peanut Butter Cups into the center of each cookie.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holiday cookie recipe - Farmhouse chocolate mint cookies

Farmhouse Chocolate Mint Cookies (recipe via Nikki of Lovely Scribbles, original source is the Gooseberry Patch Old Fashioned Country Cookies cookbook)

Ingredients

3/4 c. butter
1 1/2 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. water
12 oz. pkg. semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
2 1/2 c. flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 lb. Andes Mints

Preparation

Place butter, sugar and water in sauce pan on low heat until butter is melted. Add chocolate chips and stir until partially melted. Remove from heat. Continue to stir until chocolate is completely melted. Pour into large mixing bowl and let stand 10 minutes to cool slightly. With mixer at high speed, beat in eggs one at a time. Reduce speed to low and add combined dry ingredients beating just until blended. Chill dough 1 hour.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Take tsp. full of dough and roll into balls. Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Bake 11-13 minutes (do not over-bake). Immediately place mints on hot cookies. Allow to soften, then swirl mints over cookies. Remove from cookie sheet and cool completely.

Holiday cookie recipe - chocolate candy cane cookies

Chocolate candy cane cookies (recipe from Epicurious)

Ingredients

Cookies
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg

Filling
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 drops (or more) red food coloring
1/2 cup crushed red-and-white-striped candy canes or hard peppermint candies (about 4 ounces)

Preparation

For cookies:

Whisk flour, cocoa, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended. Beat in egg. Add dry ingredients; beat until blended. Refrigerate dough 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop out dough by level tablespoonfuls, then roll into smooth balls. Place balls on prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Using bottom of glass or hands, flatten each ball to 2-inch round (edges will crack). Bake until cookies no longer look wet and small indentation appears when tops of cookies are lightly touched with fingers, about 11 minutes (do not overbake or cookies will become too crisp). Cool on sheet 5 minutes. Transfer chocolate cookies to racks and cool completely.

For filling:

Using electric mixer, beat powdered sugar and butter in medium bowl until well blended. Add peppermint extract and 2 drops food coloring. Beat until light pink and well blended, adding more food coloring by dropfuls if darker pink color is desired. Spread 2 generous teaspoons filling evenly over flat side of 1 cookie to edges; top with another cookie, flat side down, pressing gently to adhere. Repeat with remaining cookies and peppermint filling.

Place crushed candy canes on plate. Roll edges of cookie sandwiches in crushed candies (candies will adhere to filling). (Cookie sandwiches can be made ahead. Store in single layer in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days or freeze up to 2 weeks.)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday cookie extravaganza

The holiday baking party I hosted was SO MUCH FUN. And a bit chaotic. Beyond holding the party at my house, I didn't do much for hosting. My aunt, sister, mom, sister-in-law all brought ingredients, cleaned the kitchen as they baked and were in general, awesome guests.

Here is our day in photos. I'll post more cookie photos with all the recipes tomorrow so stay tuned.

The photos above are of my mom and sister.  Cute matching aprons, huh?

I made a yummy spinach, onion and cheese quiche for breakfast.  I make a lot of quiche and this one is at the top of my fave list.  The recipe calls for cottage cheese, which I really liked.  My sister brought white chocolate raspberry scones and my mom brought a fruit salad.  We properly fueled before a big day of baking!
My kitchen is not very big, so the idea of baking 8 different baked goods was a bit scary.  We had ingredients piled on top of more ingredients.
I made chocolate peppermint cookie sandwiches. 
Nikki made chocolate Andes mint cookies. 
We made wreaths, so simple and so damn good.  I could eat a hundred of these.  Instead of red hots I used Skittles to embellish the wreaths.  Wrigley's sent me a HUGE box of candy the other week so the Skittles came in handy.
My aunt made Russian tea cake cookies.
My mom made snickerdoodles (about to go in the oven). These are so classic and taste best with a huge glass of milk.
My niece Chloe also joined us.My sister Katie made peanut butter blossoms with peanut butter cups and Hershey Kisses.


My aunt also made frying pan cookies.

We had tons of cookies for everyone to take home.

After all was said and done, my kitchen was still a bit of a disaster but it didn't take long to clean up. And then I realized I had about 100 cookies in my house all within reach. And so I packed a big container to send with Erik to work on Monday and I'm taking the rest with me to the office. I hope my coworkers are hungry!

I loved having a whole day set aside for hanging with some of my fave ladies and baking. Can't wait to do it again next year.