Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash recipes + a giveaway

I have some fun recipes for you today, just in time for New Years.  If you are still wondering what to bring to that New Year's party, then this post is for you.

I have partnered with Sierra Mist to share a delicious mocktail recipe (warm and perfect for those winter nights) and have also created my own bubbly cocktail.

Sierra Mist sells Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash around the holiday season.  It's sweet with a touch of cranberry, but without any artificial sweeteners.  And of course, you can get regular Sierra Mist all year long.

Be sure to enter the giveaway at the end of the post!


I am a big fan of warm drinks during the cold months for comfort.  This berry cider was really good and so easy to make.  The thyme adds some nice depth and creates a nice contrast to the sweetness.  

Warm Berry Cider (recipe via Sierra Mist)

Ingredients

16 oz. Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash
2-4 sprigs of fresh thyme (you can also use 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme)
Fresh berries (cranberries, blueberries or strawberries)
1 lime wedge

Directions

Place the thyme in a medium pot and add Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash.

Heat to a simmer and pour over fresh berries in a mug.

Spritz with fresh lime

Makes 2 drinks



If you read my blog regularly, then you know that I am sort of obsessed with brunch.  So when I was tasked with creating a cocktail using Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash I was inspired by the bellini.

Cranberry Splash Bellini

Ingredients

8 oz. Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash
4 oz. orange juice
1 oz. vodka
Fresh strawberries

Directions

Combine all ingredients, except the strawberries, in a pitcher.

Stir well.

Pour into two champagne glasses and add the strawberries.

Makes two drinks.

Now here's your chance to win a Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash entertaining pack. It's got fun cocktail gear like a cocktail shaker, glasses, Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash plus more (retail value $110).

To enter leave a comment on this post with your drink of choice for the New Year.

Eligible to US residents only.  The giveaway will close on Friday, January 4th at midnight and I'll announce the winner on January 7th.  Good luck!

For more recipes and tips check out the Sierra Mist Facebook page.

Disclosure: I participated in this sponsored campaign for One2One Network. I received product to facilitate my post and monetary compensation, but all opinions stated are my own.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Our Christmas - part 1

We celebrated Christmas with both sides of our families this year.  Erik and I traveled to North Dakota to spend the holidays with his family, so my family celebrated the weekend before.  We invited everyone to our house and had a big brunch.

We had amazing food (fruit christmas tree arrangement courtesy of my sister, Katie).

I got this make ahead breakfast casserole recipe from my friend Emily.  She made it for a brunch a few months ago and I loved it and have made it twice since.  It's a perfect dish to serve at a brunch because it's hassle-free, you do all the prep work the night before.  Erik thinks the dish has a "bit too much bread" but I love that aspect of it.  It definitely is different than a traditional egg bake that has more of an egg base, this has more of a bread base.  

  • Make Ahead Breakfast Casserole (recipe via Cooking Light)

  • Ingredients
  • 8 ounces ciabatta bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 pound turkey breakfast sausage (I've used turkey sausage and pork sausage, both work well)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions 
  • 1 1/4 cups fat-free milk
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) reduced-fat shredded sharp cheddar cheese 
  • large eggs
  • (8-ounce) carton egg substitute 
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Preparation 
  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Arrange bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 8 minutes or until toasted.
  • Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add sausage to pan; cook 6 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Combine sausage, bread, and onions in a large bowl. Combine milk, cheese, eggs, and egg substitute in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add milk mixture to bread mixture, tossing to coat bread. Spoon mixture into a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Uncover casserole. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes or until set and lightly browned. Sprinkle with parsley; serve immediately.


My aunt made these cute mouse treats. My aunt also made a cheesy quiche, it was super rich and delicious with tons of cream cheese.  The holiday pounds began adding to the scale after this brunch.   Awesome cheesy potatoes, brought by my brother and sister-in-law.  Everyone should eat monkey bread (or caramel pull-apart biscuits) at least once in their life.  Preferably many more times than just one.  My mom makes this and it is freaking delicious.  My mom and aunt.  It was fun watching Juliet and her cousin Chloe open presents.  Babies this age generally just prefer to eat the wrapping paper (I watched her closely and made sure she didn't actually swallow any). Juliet loved her push around pink buggy.  My brother Joel and his girlfriend bought Juliet this cute little Minnie Mouse chair.  She sits in it while I read her books.  She looks like such a big girl sitting there!

Juliet also got a bunch of adorable clothes from aunt Chris and some fun toys and more clothes from the other aunties and uncles.  Grandma and grandpa give Juliet money towards her college fund.  She got her first tea set and we had her first tea party that day.  So cute.

Thanks to my family for celebrating Christmas early with us and for all the wonderful presents for Juliet.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy holidays!

We are busy celebrating the holidays with family, eating too much food and enjoying lots of quality time with sweet Juliet.  I am thrilled to have almost a whole week off work to spend with her.   We will spend time snuggling, napping, reading books and playing with all the new toys her family has spoiled her with this Christmas.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday!

Photo credits to Lulabella Photography.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tips for throwing a holiday brunch sponsored by Diet Pepsi

Diet Pepsi approached me earlier this month to create tips on how to throw a holiday party. It's no secret that I love hosting parties, but I especially love holiday parties. Cookie baking parties, festive dinner parties...but my all-time favorite holiday party to host is a brunch party.

I focused on tips for throwing a holiday brunch and the content is live on Diet Pepsi's site today! What's a fabulous brunch without a sparkly champagne cocktail bar and a mini donut tower?  These are easy tips that will help you host a quick holiday brunch or incorporate the ideas into your Christmas morning breakfast.  Be sure to head over to Diet Pepsi's website to check out my brunch holiday party planning tips and be sure to try for your chance to win fabulous prizes!

Disclosure: Diet Pepsi and I partnered to create content on holiday party planning tips and I was compensated by Diet Pepsi.  As always, all the opinions are my own.  

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Juliet: 10 months

Juliet turned 10 months today! She is now in the double digits and I feel like the countdown to turning one is on. Don't get me wrong...I want these last couple months of having my sweet baby girl still an infant to go SLOW. But I have learned a thing or two in the past 10 months and I know that I'll blink and she'll be one.

Month 10 has been an awesome month, just like all the rest.  It's been a month of firsts and milestones.  This month has been the perfect age.  Then again, I've thought that about each month along the way.

Juliet's month 10 firsts and milestones:

  • She said mama!  It is the most beautiful sound.  Sometimes it comes out as nana, but every one in a while she says mama. I know the m sound is not easy for her to make, but when we practice and she is determined, it comes out just perfect.  I'm not sure if she knows the connection between mama and me, but it won't be long.   
  • I know I've talked about Juliet's mobility for a couple of months now, but I can officially say that Juliet is full-on mobile.  She doesn't crawl, technically, but can get anywhere she wants to be, and pretty fast.  She is always on all fours...yet instead of a traditional crawl she sort of propels herself forward, using her tummy as a landing pad and then does a tummy scoot to get where she wants.  
  • I'm not sure if this is considered a milestone but Juliet's hair has been growing like crazy!  It is getting so long and unless we sweep it over to the side, it is in her eyes.  I can't wait to put her beautiful hair in little pigtails!
  • I can finally say that my little girl is, in fact, teething.  It took 10 months for this to happen but her pediatrician confirmed she had a tooth poking up and I actually felt a sharp little bud of a tooth yesterday (I try to peek in her mouth but she doesn't like it and sticks out her tongue and blocks me, haha).  It's probably silly but I feel so excited and proud of my baby for getting her first tooth.  When I describe Juliet I often say she is very laid back and easy going.  Here is an example, last week she had a terrible cold.  She also had her very first ear infection and was teething.  Do you think she was fussy at all?  No.  She was her normal sweet, happy self. 
  • Juliet started "singing".  I noticed this when I sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to her.  She sort of hums along....sometimes I even think she's following the rhythm!  Then in church the past couple weekends ago she was "singing" along with the choir.  It's so adorable.  
  • Juliet is still a very good eater when it comes to solids.  She is still getting purees but is getting more and more table food.  She loves blueberries and raspberries and usually finished those first.  She loves meat!  I think she likes pork the most and also chicken.  She had her first pancake this month and also her first taste of spaghetti.  It was messy which I think is adorable but it makes Erik cringe when she drops handfuls of food on the floor.  
This past weekend was a difficult one, as I know you all share in my sorrow for what happened in our world.  I was away from Juliet all day and night Friday because I had my work holiday party and she stayed at grandma and grandpas.  When I got her on Saturday morning we spent the rest of the day wrapped in a tight hug, with me whispering her name over and over as I breathed in her sweet baby scent and feeling thankful for every second I have her in my life.  There are a lot of seconds in 10 months and I can honestly say that I've cherished every single one of those seconds.  

Breastfeeding is going amazingly well.  Honestly, sort of magical.  I know I got this from my own mom.  She breastfed me for two years and my younger brother was extended breastfed as well.  The bond I feel with Juliet when I breastfeed is so awesome and I have no intentions of stopping anytime soon.  The thought of weaning saddens me so much.  So the plan is to allow her to baby led wean whenever she is ready.  It might not be for another year.  We'll just go with the flow on this one.  But I hope to breastfeed her well past a year.  

And here are the cute outtakes from our quick 10 month photo shoot (daddy was there helping to make sure she didn't topple off the chair). 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

4 year anniversary dinner

Today is Erik and my 4 year wedding anniversary.  We celebrated last Friday with a nice meal at home.  We thought about going out to dinner but both decided a quiet night in was what we wanted.  Times sure have changed!

Erik surprised me with a nice bottle of wine and pretty red roses.
On the menu

Bacon-wrapped shrimp
Steamed carrots
Pimento-cheese potato gratin (amazing)
T-bone steak

We had an awesome meal and a great night.

Happy anniversary sweetie, love you!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas cookie baking party

Saturday was my family's annual Christmas cookie baking party.  My mom, aunt, sister-in-law, sister, my brother's girlfriend, my niece, Juliet and I are gathered at my house to bake up a frenzy.  Six gals, two babies, a few mimosas, flour everywhere and about six hours later we had cookies.  Lots and lots of cookies.

I slacked on my photography duties and missed snapping shots of a few we made toward the end.

I love this day.  It's the second year my family has gotten together to bake cookies and I'm looking forward to doing it every year around the holidays.  I love my family.  I love making new traditions.

Pictured above are my sister-in-law, Nikki's awesome Farmhouse Chocolate Mint Cookies.  My brother's girlfriend, Katie (we call her Lumbie) made pizzelles.  She brought over her pizzelle maker and it made a really cool hissing sound when the batter hit the hot metal.
My mom and aunt getting down to business.   My mom's friend knitted Juliet and Chloe (my niece) adorable hats.  As I was going through these photos I noticed that my baby girl doesn't look like such a baby anymore.  She is getting so big!

Also on the list of cookies were Snickerdoodles.
My aunt Chris made Frying Pan Cookies.   Lots and lots of ingredients ready to make a mess.  And of course we opened a bottle of bubbly.   Lumbie also made these tasty Honey-Roasted Peanut Butter Bars with Chocolate Ganache.   Christmas Cornflake Wreaths are classic and so simple.  My faves.   My niece Chloe and Juliet are such cuties.  But taking photos of two squirmy babies is super challenging.  I managed to quickly snap this one before they took their hats off.  The little girls had fun hanging with all the ladies and playing with each other.  It's so fun to have cousins so close in age.

Other cookies we made that aren't pictured:

Peanut Butter Blossoms
Ginger cookies 
Rice Crispy Bars
Christmas in a Cookie (I don't know if I messed up the recipe but these were only ok)

We all have more cookies than we know what to do with.  I'll probably be sending them to work with my husband and taking the rest to my office.

The weekend was great.  And sweet.  Literally.  I hope you enjoyed yours as well!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Crock pot chicken chili


This chili recipe is a go-to for our household.  It takes about 5 minutes to throw everything together in the morning and by the time you get home from work dinner is (amost) served.  This chili has great flavor and makes for awesome leftovers.  Very pinnable!  

My former boss sent me the recipe, so I have no clue where it originated before that.  Note, this has a lot of canned items that go into the crock pot.  I always buy the lower fat/lower sodium versions of chicken broth and condensed chicken soup.

Crock Pot Chicken Chili

Ingredients

3 chicken breasts
2 (15 oz) cans great northern beans or navy beans, partially drained 
1 (15 oz) can corn or hominy, drained 
1 (1 1/4 oz) envelope taco seasoning
1 (4 1/2 oz) can of shopped green chilies
1 (10 3/4 oz) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 (14 oz) can chicken broth
1/2 cup sour cream

Directions
1. Place chicken breasts in the bottom of a crock pot 
2. Top with beans and corn
3. In medium bowl combine taco seasoning, chilies, condensed soup and chicken broth. Pour over top of ingredients in the crock pot
4. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours
5. Before you are ready to eat, pull out the chicken breasts and shred them in to the chili mixture
5. Serve topped with sour cream, cheese

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas baby

Sorry for the lack of posts this week. I am working on content for a Diet Pepsi partnership and that's been taking up my evening time after the girlie goes to sleep. More on that later this week.

We have been enjoying all things Christmas at our house lately...meeting Santa, loving the twinkly lights, etc. This was a photo I took the other weekend...I took 86 to get one decent photo. Juliet is on the move (not quite crawling but scooting all over) and she doesn't sit still for photos anymore!

The holidays have a whole new meaning when you have a sweet baby girl to share all the excitement with.  Loving it all so much.