Christmas Cookies

Christmas Cookies

Thinking back on my childhood Christmases, there are lots of great memories but a few memories stick out more than the others. I remember how much I loved our house at Christmas time. My mom decorated our home, changing out practically every decoration she could to replace it with something festive. It was so fun seeing our home transform into a Christmas wonderland. Besides the home, my mom's Christmas cookies are another thing I remember so vividly. I can't recall how long my mom would bake for or even exactly what kind of cookies she was making but I do remember our entire dining room table being stacked with bins and bins of cookies. My mom would give some away as gifts and keep the rest for our family. I still have my favorites and request them still to this day. 

Read More

Friendsgiving 2017

Friendsgiving 2017

Another successful Friendsgiving is in the books and the day did not disappoint. I feel a little dramatic when I say that Friendsgiving is one of my favorite nights of the year but I'm being totally honest. I love hosting parties at my house, I love Thanksgiving, and I love seeing all of my friends eating, drinking, and enjoying each other's company.

Read More

Autumn Sangria Recipe

Autumn Sangria Recipe

I shared my Fall Bucket List with you all a few weeks ago and on my list was this guy, Autumn Sangria. I used this recipe last year for Friendsgiving and it was a huge hit so I thought I would share it again. I made it with honeycrisp apples which give it the perfect sweetness. Throwing it in a Weck jar adds the perfect charm for fall too I think. 

Read More

Happenings Lately

Happenings Lately

It’s a Wednesday that feels like Friday if that says anything about my week so far. Work has been busy and mentally tiring. There has been so much I have needed to accomplish and my days have been filled with meetings and interviews. I am getting done what I need to but everything else -- working out, eating clean, and writing -- have all fallen to the wayside.

Read More

Christmas Eve Menu

Christmas Eve was always a bigger day for celebrating with my family as a kid. We used to go to my grandparents house with my dad’s family & all of our cousins, it really was a great time. Once that tradition ended due to life circumstances, my parents kept it going at our house with my siblings and Christmas Eve really became such an amazing day for us all.

As an adult, I’ve hosted my mom and siblings for Christmas Eve for about four years now. Picking the menu is always fun because we aren’t committed to a set menu like we are for Thanksgiving, seriously my siblings would cut me if I altered our traditional Thanksgiving lunch -- ever.

Last year I did a fun Grinch theme complete with “roast beast” and “who hash”. This year I wanted to do something a little different so we are planning to get a ham.

This is our menu so far, complete with appetizers and desserts.

My mom makes a sausage bread every year and has been making this for as long as I can remember. Of course, as is the case for most moms, she has no recipe but I asked her for a high-level summary:

Take two loaves of frozen bread, let thaw and rise.
Take two "tubes" of breakfast sausage, diced onions, and diced green peppers and brown all together. Take it off of the heat and let cool. Once cool add in shredded mozzerella cheese and two beaten eggs. Roll out the thawed dough and put the mixture on the dough. Roll up and brush with egg wash. Bake at 350 degrees until brown and the bread is cooked through. Let rest and then dig in!

It’s really tasty and the whole family devours it within minutes. This recipe would also be great for a breakfast bread for Christmas morning.

I love making brie topped with cranberries, brown sugar and pecans. This recipe with puff pastry is great but brie is also good with a topping of cranberries and brown sugar alone. We usually eat this with crackers or little toasts.

My most favorite appetizer of all time are these stuffed mushrooms from Ina Garten. They have sausage and mascarpone cheese and are a hit everytime I serve them. These can be made a few hours in advance and then just popped in the oven an hour before serving. They do taste the best served hot but I have reheated them for leftovers and they are still pretty good.

For our ham we are cheating a bit and ordering it from Honey Baked Ham. They are just so amazing and with one less thing to make, my husband is as happy as a clam. Everytime I think about getting a ham from there I think of that scene in ‘Christmas with the Kranks’ where Nora is chasing her Hickory Honey Ham into oncoming traffic, I just love that movie! (Side note if you are getting one of these hams I highly recommend reserving online picking up first thing Friday morning, they get so crazy!)

My mom is bringing green beans that are packed with flavor. They are cooked in chicken broth and have red potatoes and bacon in them----seriously, who doesn’t like bacon! The recipe is from Paula Deen so don’t be surprised by the lack of nutrients.

The next side we are making is going to be some sort of mashed potatoes. I will probably end up jazzing it up with sour cream, bacon, and chives. I love mashed potatoes with the skins on but my brother can’t stand it so peeled it will be.

We will have rolls too that I planning to buy frozen and just bake, I’m not motivated enough to make some from scratch but if you have an awesome recipe to share I’d love to see it.

I’m still undecided on dessert. I have a few options but I just can’t quite decide. I love Giada de Laurentis’ recipe for Panna Cotta with Berries, that’s usually a hit and the honey in this recipe gives it such an interesting taste. I was also considering creme brulee or a family favorite, banana pudding. My mom will also bring a dessert of some kind so I’m thinking something opposite of hers.

With dessert the options are endless really, and with that they are also overwhelming. I’m also planning to make something the kids will enjoy as well such as cake pops or rice krispie treats.

Last but not least are the drinks. I am planning to try this recipe for Santa Claus-mopolitans (love that name!) and we will have both red and white wine on hand.

I am looking forward to Christmas Eve so much, from the dinner with family and friends and the kids opening presents, it’s such a fun time. And let’s not forget the guaranteed easy bedtime---”if you don’t go to bed, Santa won’t come!” Ha the perks this time of year.

What does your family plan to do on Christmas Eve? Any fun traditions to share?

::Craftie:: Fall Pinterest Party

This weekend I hosted my very first Pinterest Party. For those of you not quite sure what this is, it's a party where you and a bunch of friends get together, eat some great food from recipes found on Pinterest, and make crafts or other ideas from...yep you guess it...Pinterest!

I have been working on so many baby crafts lately that I thought a Fall themed party would be a great opportunity to branch out from my baby bubble. 

I made finger foods from recipes that I found on Pinterest (praying they didn't bomb since most were being made for the first time). I thought I would share if any of you were interested in your own Fall themed party.

I was thinking of using this pin to make mini caramel apples but then I saw this idea from this blog to make a DIY Caramel Apple Bar!
I bought bagged, pre-sliced apples for this since I knew the apples would be sitting out while everyone grazed and I didn't want them to brown. I skewered each slice and set out mini chocolate chips, coconut, mini marshmallows and candy corn for everyone to make their own caramel slices. My favorite combination was the chocolate chips with coconut. This was a really fun alternative to caramel apples and everyone was able to make their own variations and try different combinations.

Nothing exciting here, just hummus with carrots, cucumbers, and pretzels.

There have been many recipes (here, here, and here) for various fall trail mixes floating around Pinterest and I took a little something from each of these and came up with this yummy mix.
Fall trail mix: Cheezits, pretzels, Reese's Pieces, candy corn, chocolate chips, and salted peanuts

Pigs in a blanket are always a yummy, quick treat. I attempted to make them "mummy" pigs in a blanket but it wasn't working out so we just settled on the norm.
This recipe for stuffed mushrooms got tons of great reviews but didn't really seem to have much substance, various reviews altered it by adding sausage or crab. I added chicken Italian sausage to the mix and dipped the mushrooms, once stuffed, in bread crumbs and grated Parmesan cheese prior to baking.

This dip is delicious! It's a pumpkin dip with cool whip and was light and airy while still quite tasty. 
The creator of this used Nilla Wafers and apples as dippers, the apples were my favorite.

Decor from Jo-Ann's and everything fall was 40% off.

My father-in-law brought tables over that I put end to end on the balcony since our inside space is quite limited. Thankfully the weather wasn't too hot or humid once the sun set.
Fall table cloths also from Jo-Ann's. 

I didn't get pictures of anyone's crafts before they left but here is what I made based on this pin. I printed out the letters on legal paper and used an exacto knife to cut them out. Then I taped the outline of the letters to this foam pumpkin and traced the letters with pencil. Using acrylic paint in brown and a teeny paint brush I filled in the letters and topped it off with a brown polka dot bow. It's in our foyer as a cute way to greet guests.
It was a pretty quick and easy craft which I recommend for these kind of parties since you don't want anything too complicated.

This party was pretty fun and was one friend even suggested we make it a seasonal thing. Have any of you attended a Pinterest Party? What do you think?

Monday is over friends---one step closer to the weekend!

Mere :-)