51/52: Merry Christmas!

From our family to yours, we hope you have a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Kwanza!

Cheers!

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50/52: Whoa! I actually made something I pinned!

Seriously. Shut. The. Front. Door. I made something that I pinned. haha. If you are a Pinterest frequenter, like I am then you certainly get the humor in my title. To just beat the humor further into the ground, I will explain! Pinterest is phenomenal. Phenomenal. Have you ever been surfing the ‘net and thought “Man! That is the coolest idea. I really want to remember that for later.” And then you bookmark the page and never go back to it? Well Pinterest eliminates that. It’s a virtual bulletin board! So cool. But there are sooo many cool ideas that you more often than not find yourself pinning zillions of things, most that you will never re-visit.

Well, I have finally beat this! I have made something that is a compilation of two pins I saw marked on my profile. Psst… by the way – go follow me on Pinterest! {See that cool ‘Pinterest’ button on the right of my blog? Click it. I dare ya!}

I am hosting a Christmas brunch for both sides of our family on Christmas morning, so I have been looking for festive, fun and inexpensive decorations. I saw this vase and fell in love. I can’t explain why. It’s absolutely, 100% cheesy. But, I love it. I love anything having to do with Santa. Now, I must say one of the two vases is way, way, way cuter than mine. But hey, you gotta work with what ya got!

Here are the two ideas I had found:

Via: Sew Many Ways

Via: Hostess with the Mostess

And… here is my little creation…

Via: Moi!

Totally cheesy, right?! Hah. I love it. It will be so cute with all of our food surrounding it. Cheap, cute center piece. Here is how I made it… You will need:

Santa Vase

1 round vase, any size
red construction/colored paper
black construction/colored paper or black ribbon
gray construction/colored paper
tape
florists foam
evergreen sprigs – fake or real
fake red berries

1. Cover vase with red paper, secure with loops of tape
2. Cut black paper for belt, or use ribbon. Wrap around the middle of the vase. Secure along the back by the seam of the red paper with more tape.
3. Cut out a belt buckle shape from your gray paper. Secure on either end with more tape. Don’t secure too tightly, you want it to appear loose like a buckle.
4. Cut florists foam to easily fit in the bottom of your vase.
5. Add evergreen sprigs and red berries. Tweak until you like the look!

Simple, right? I probably did not need to write that up – but you never know.

Leave me a comment – tell me what you are doing with your family for Christmas. Are you creating or decorating for anything? What are your favorite types of decorations?
me: I love, love Santas. I always have but I think it has become an obsession since my last name became Santie. 😉 

48/52: Phew! I survived fall semester! {And Peppermint Bark}

Oh my goodness. I haven’t posted since… November?! I have been on somewhat of a hiatus, but for good reason. Life has been absolutely, undeniably nuts! Between lesson planning, interning/teaching, classes and finals… throw some life in there… mix well… needless to say I haven’t had much time to post. I really haven’t had a ton of time to cook or bake either. But, not to worry I will be finished my last final today and then I have lots of goodies planned.

I can’t even remember the last time I baked, it was probably for Thanksgiving! Well, even though I had a final due today {yay! I’m free!} I couldn’t stand it any longer and had to get into the kitchen last night. So I whipped up some… peppermint bark of course! It is such a simple recipe, but so yummy and screams Christmas! I just love the crushed candy cane on top.

It is so easy I honestly feel silly posting a recipe for this, but sometimes it is nice to have something to go off of. My peppermint bark became somewhat of an experiment because all I had in the cupboard was unsweetened chocolate, and I only had 4 oz. while most recipes call for at least 6 oz. So when melting my unsweetened chocolate on the double boiler, I added 1 TB of sugar for each ounce of chocolate. And 4 oz made plenty of bark when put into a 9X9 pan!

I plan on sharing this with people who are coming over for Christmas now that I’ve made my first batch. But this would be very cute wrapped up in goodie bags and given away as gifts. See my Halloween bark post for ideas!

Peppermint Bark

Ingredients:
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped {you can use unsweetened – add 1 TB of sugar for each oz of chocolate you are using}
4oz. white chocolate, chopped
2 tsp vegetable oil {adds shine to bark}
crushed candy cane {I used about 4 crushed candy canes to top a 9X9 pan}

Directions:
1. Line a 9X9 pan with foil, make sure you have a bit of overhang so you can pull the foil and bark out of the pan later. Set aside.
2.  Melt chocolate and vegetable oil in a heat proof bowl of a pot of simmering water {or in a double boiler}, continue melting until it is fully melted and appears thin. If you are using unsweetened chocolate make sure the sugar gets a chance to melt into the chocolate before removing from heat.
2. Pour chocolate into the foil lined pan, rotate pan to spread chocolate into each corner of pan. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, crush your candy cane. The size is a matter of preference, some prefer large pieces, some small.
4. Melt your white chocolate using the same method as the chocolate.
5. Pour on top of chilled chocolate, rotate pan to spread white chocolate over every inch of chocolate.
6. Sprinkle crushed candy cane over top of the bark.
7. Refrigerate over night if possible.
8. Once fully chilled, pull foil out of pan and break bark into pieces of desired size.
9. ENJOY!

I hope everyone is set to have an awesome weekend. I am seriously looking forward to catchin up on a few things so when Christmas break hits {the elementary school I intern at still has 2 more school days until they are on break — gee, thanks strike!} I can dive into Christmas, and then afterward… lesson planning! Full time student teaching hits in February and I want to get ahead of the game as much as possible. For now, off to make up my Christmas cookie baking list. Can’t wait to share some pictures with you!

Ciao!

47/52: Wednesday Words of Wisdom – Gratitude

Considering tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and I have quite a bit to accomplish before then. Yes, I have put off my final grocery shopping for Thanksgiving baking/cooking until today — however in my defense, we just decided to do a small Thanksgiving of our own this last weekend. I have no excuse for putting off buying baking ingredients though. 😉 Rather than posting a yummy recipe, I thought we could all use some words of wisdom to start our day and put us in an appropriate mindset for the holiday tomorrow. Thanksgiving is probably one of my favorite holidays. I have so much to be gracious for – I try to live my life with gratitude everyday but I welcome the time to reflect and be thankful for everything that we so often look past. I enjoy this holiday the most because it is about family, and enjoying each other’s company. I am greatly looking forward to tomorrow!

What Thanksgiving traditions does your family have? What are you thankful for this holiday?

 

Happy early Thanksgiving to everyone. I hope you have a blessed holiday!

Halloween Candy Bark

Tra-la-la… I can’t even begin to express how excited I am that we are just reaching Halloween, and making the turn toward Thanksgiving and Christmas! I like Halloween okay, but love the rest of the holidays. I generally don’t get too into “Halloween” baking, but this month have way too many ideas in my head. With the craziness of school and my internship, I hardly have time for the weeknight baking I used to do so I am always looking for quickie recipes. This is definitely one of those!

I am sure most people who live in large trick-or-treating communities purchase large quantities of candy, and generally have some left over. Are you looking for a way to use leftover trick-or-treat/Halloween candy? Well, look no further! I have had my eye on this recipe all year but haven’t been able to convince myself it was necessary to make until now. And to my surprise, this recipe is so yummy – not overly sweet as you would assume, but most of all – simple. Now that I know how simple it is to make candy bark I am going to try different combinations. I think this would be really yummy with candy corn added as well!

The recipe makes quite a bit – so we decided to share some with our friends. It makes a super cute gift, just wrap up in treat bags, tie with cute ribbon and keep refrigerated until gifting time!

Cute, right?

Halloween Candy Bark

Ingredients:
1 lb. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 Butterfinger candy bars (or 8 fun size bars), roughly chopped
3 toffee candy bars (or 6 fun size bars), roughly chopped
8 Reese cups, cut into wedges
¼ cup honey roasted peanuts
3 oz. yellow and orange peanut M&Ms, coarsely chopped
3 oz. good quality white chocolate, finely chopped

Directions:
1. Line a baking sheet with foil.  Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat, stirring occasionally until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.  Pour the chocolate over the foil and smooth into a thin layer with a spatula.

2. Evenly sprinkle the chopped candy bars, Reese cups, honey roasted peanuts, and peanut M&Ms over the melted chocolate.  Press gently to adhere the candy to the melted chocolate.  Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes.

3. Melt the white chocolate, again using the double boiler method, until smooth. Drizzle over the chilled candy bark.  Return to the refrigerator and let chill again until the white chocolate is set, 3o minutes more.

4. Peel the sheet of chocolate away from the foil and break into irregular pieces.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Source & Recipe: Annies-Eats, originally from Bon Appetite, October 2010

Enjoy! And, I hope all you little Halloweenies have fun tomorrow! And please pray that my first graders aren’t too crazy in the morning…ahh, wish me luck.

Happy Independence Day!

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that
they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among
these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Can you name the “author” of this quote? Just a little Independence Day trivia for you! I hope everyone has a happy and safe Independence Day, and don’t forget to remember what we are celebrating today. We are free to be, so be grateful! Thank you to all the men and women who have and continue to fight for the freedom we celebrate today. God bless!

26/52: Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Happy 4th of July weekend everyone! I don’t know about you all, but I am ready to enjoy this long weekend by relaxing and celebrating time with my family. For me, it doesn’t get much better than that. 🙂 Whenever rhubarb season hits I start craving anything strawberry rhubarb — it is what I grew up with and what I know. It isn’t summer in my eyes until I’ve had a warm piece of strawberry rhubarb crisp or pie… yum! While I was on the other side of town picking up some shoes I had repaired I figured I should stop into Metropolitan Market and check out their produce. First thing when I walked in I was greeted with delicious looking, local strawberries. We were having a few friends over last night for dinner so I immediately picked up a 1/3 flat of strawberries and some rhubarb — what better way to end our dinner then with some yummy dessert?!

When I got home, somehow I didn’t realize I was out of brown sugar {rookie mistake… grocery shopping without a list}. So here I was, in the middle of assembling my crisp and I had to run up to the store for just brown sugar. So needless to say the crisp didn’t turn out exactly like it should have. Normally you add your rhubarb into one bowl with sugar, add your strawberries into another and then combine. I got that far and by the time I came home I had double the juice I normally would have {Normally your “juicy” edges are about half of what you see in the picture below}. Oops. 😉 Oh well, the dessert was still yummy — it just looks more “juicy” then normal. Lets just say I didn’t have any complaints! 🙂

Now as far as the recipe, I don’t have one from my family and I couldn’t find one online that I really liked so I just made one up myself! Enjoy.

Santie Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Ingredients:

Filling:
2 c. rhubarb, cut into pieces
1 1/4 c. sugar
2 1/2 c. strawberries, sliced
3 T cornstarch
2 t fresh lemon juice
1 t vanilla

Topping:
1 stick butter, softened
1 1/2 c. dark brown sugar
1 1/2 c. flour
1 1/4 c. old-fashioned oats
3 T canola oil
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt

Directions:

1. Filling: Toss rhubarb with 3/4 c. sugar and let stand for 15 minutes. Toss strawberries with 1/2 c. sugar and let stand for 10 minutes. Transfer rhubarb into strawberry mixture. Add cornstarch, lemon juice and vanilla – stir well. Transfer mixture into a 13X9 baking dish and set aside.

2. Topping: Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender or fingers, mix until large crumbs begin to form. Sprinkle topping evenly over filling.

3. Pre-heat oven to 375° and bake crisp for 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°, cover dish with foil and continue to bake crisp for another 30 minutes or until fruit is nice and bubbly and topping is browned. Let stand for at least 30-40 minutes prior to serving. Serve with a nice dollop of home-made whipped cream and fresh strawberries!

This is such a fun, easy dessert. It’s refreshing and always a hit – a perfect dish for the fourth. I hope everyone has a fun, safe and enjoyable holiday weekend. Happy Fourth of July!