Thursday

In The Kitchen With Allie, April and Nina: Cocktails




Today, the final post in a collaboration between three girlfriends who are also bloggers: April from A. Liz Adventures, Allie from Key Ingredients, and Nina from Peace, Love, and Good Food.

This is a three-part series all centered around holiday cuisine! Today we will share a cocktail recipe with you. So, from us to you, cheers, happy holidays, and bottoms up!




I'm going to share a tried-and-true cocktail recipe favorite of mine today and then give you some ideas about how you can put your own holiday twist on it.

Don't let fancy-frou-frou sounding cocktail names scare you away. If you can mash things up and measure liquids, then you've seriously got this cocktail recipe figured out. It's child's play ... well, children 21 and over. :)


Muddled Blueberry Moscow Mule 
makes 2 

Blueberry vodka
One bottle ginger beer 
Small handful blueberries
One lime
Ice

 Slice your lime in half and use a citrus squeezer to add the juice to each copper mug. Toss the hull of the lime in each mug. Add in blueberries to each mug and use your muddler (I have this exact one) to muddle, muddle, muddle all of those great flavors together. Top each mug off with 2oz. blueberry vodka, half of the bottle of ginger beer (which is non-alcoholic), and enough ice to fill the mug.
Done!

Okay, and some simple swap-outs for the holidays:
Instead of blueberry vodka and muddled blueberries, use...

+ Cranberry vodka and muddled rosemary (so holidayish)
+ Regular vodka and muddled thyme and cucumber (perfectly herby)
+ Citrus vodka and muddled jalapeno and mint leaves (spicy and fresh)







Key Ingredients


   
The Christmas season is officially upon us and that means holiday parties are in full swing. This Cranberry Gin Fizz is perfect for the season. It's festive for a dinner party and easy enough for a cozy night in watching Netflix or wrapping Christmas gifts. The cranberry puree can be made ahead of time so that it's ready and waiting when the time allows.

  img_4308

  Cranberry Gin Fizz Ingredients:
  For the cranberry puree:
- 1 cup cranberries
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon honey, or other natural sweetener
** This cranberry puree makes enough for 4-5 drinks

For each cocktail:
- 2 tablespoons Gin
- 1/4 cup cranberry puree (recipe above)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (half a lemon)
- 1/2 cup soda water
- Ice cubes

  Directions: 
1. Stir together the cranberries, water and honey in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often until the cranberries burst and the water begins to turn pink. (About 5 minutes) Allow to cool then store in the refrigerator in a pitcher or bowl.
 2. To make one cocktail: In a cocktail shaker combine Gin, cranberry puree, and lemon juice. Shake well. Pour over fresh ice cubes in a glass. Top with desired amount of soda water and garnish with lemon and additional cranberries (Optional).

  img_4312

Happy hour is the best hour and when the Christmas season rolls around, everyday deserves a festive drink! You are going to want to have these sweet little berries on hand for your holiday cocktails. They are sweet, slightly bitter and have a crispy coating of sugar and the perfect pop when you bite in! They are the perfect finishing touch to a Holiday Mule- my personal favorite this time of year! 







Sparkling Cranberries

recipe from Cooking Light, December 2003

2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups water
2 cups fresh cranberries
3/4 cup superfine sugar

Combine granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring mixture until sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer; remove from heat. (do not bring to a boil or the cranberries may pop when added) Stir in cranberries and pour mixture into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. 

Drain cranberries in a colander over a bowl, reserving steeping liquid if desired. Place superfine sugar in a shallow dish. Add cranberries, rolling to coat with sugar. Spread sugared cranberries in a single layer on a baking sheet and allow to dry for 1 hour. 


Holiday Mule




Fresh orange wedges
Ice
2 oz. vodka (Tito's is my fave right now)
4-6 ounces ginger beer
2 oz. cranberry juice
Sparkling cranberries, for garnish
rosemary sprigs, for garnish

Squeeze orange into copper mug or stemless wine glasses. Fill with ice and pour in vodka, ginger beer and cranberry juice. Stir and garnish with sparkling cranberries and rosemary sprigs. Enjoy!  




Thank you so much for joining us for this three-day blog series!
If you would like to see more of these themed posts, please let us know. :) 

Wednesday

In The Kitchen with Allie, April and Nina: Desserts




Today, part two of a collaboration between three girlfriends who are also bloggers: April from A. Liz Adventures, Allie from Key Ingredients, and Nina from Peace, Love, and Good Food.

This is a three-part series all centered around holiday cuisine! Today we will share a dessert with you. Tomorrow, the final day, is all about cocktails!




It was 2005, I was a year out of college, and I was looking to satisfy my sweet tooth and treat my Supper Club girlies to an out-of-this-world dessert. But nothing too difficult. I printed off this recipe from Southern Living, and it's so delicious that it still maintains a spot in my recipe binder to this day.

If you had pecan pie for Thanksgiving but would like to serve it again for Christmas with a TWIST, why not add caramel to it?


Caramel Pecan Pie
From: Southern Living, Nov 2005

Ingredients
1 refrigerated pie crust
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted

Fit pie crust into a 9" pie plate (I have this simple one) and crimp edges. Poke holes with a fork in the bottom of crust. Bake at 400 degrees 6-8 minutes.

Combine caramels, butter, and 1/4 cup water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, 5-7 minutes or until caramels and butter are melted. Remove from heat.

Stir together sugar, eggs, vanilla, and salt. Stir into caramel mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in pecans and pour this mixture into crust. 

Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce to 350 degrees and bake 20 minutes more. You may want to use a crust shield to keep the edges from browning too much. Remove, place on a wire rack, and cool.




Key Ingredients

Today we're talking desserts and that makes my sweet tooth very happy indeed. This festive Gingerbread Trifle could not be a more perfect ending to your holiday meal. It's beautifully presented with layers of gingerbread, creamy pumpkin filling and whipped cream. Due to the versatility of trifles and the fact that they are easy to assemble, I find myself making them year around and switching up the flavors and ingredients based on the season. Nothing makes me happier than finding simple yet elegant recipes to serve to friends and loved ones. If you don't currently own a trifle dish I highly recommend adding one to your kitchen so you can wow your guest with this impressive dessert and others like it.

  trifle 

  Gingerbread Trifle Ingredients: 
2 (14oz.) packages gingerbread cake mix 
– 1 (5oz.) box sugar-free, vanilla pudding 
– 2 (15oz.) cans pumpkin 
– 1/2 cup brown sugar 
– 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
– 1 container lite whipped topping 
– 1/2 cup gingersnap cookies, crushed 
– 3/4 cup Heath Toffee Bits 

  Directions: 
– Bake gingerbread cake according to the package directions. Allow to cool completely. (I ended up only using about 3/4 of the two cake boxes. Portion may vary depending on the dish size). 
– Meanwhile, prepare the pudding and set aside to cool. 
– Add pumpkin, sugar and cinnamon into the pudding. 
– In a decorative trifle bowl, crumble in about a 1/4 to 1/2 of the gingerbread cake, filling to the bottom. 
– Pour half the pudding mixture on top of the gingerbread, sprinkle with 1/2 cup toffee bits, then add a layer of whipped topping (half of the container). 
– Repeat layers crumbling in more (if not all)of the gingerbread, add pudding mixture and top with the rest of the whipped cream. 
– On top of the trifle add crushed gingersnap cookies and the rest of the toffee bits (1/4 cup). 
– Refrigerate overnight or 8 hours.

  trifle-2 

Cookies are a Christmas MUST! A fresh batch of cookies on the counter always reminds me of Christmas time. With all of the parties, unexpected guests and HELLO, the visit from the big guy in red, it's so fun to have a plate of treats on the counter! We have a cookie exchange coming up and I'm totally bringing these! Dark chocolate has my heart and the olive oil and sea salt add an unexpected twist. If you are local to Charlotte, pop into Pour Olive for the best olive oil in Charlotte! (and tell them that I sent you!)



Olive Oil + Sea Salt Brownie Cookies
recipe from Butterlust

1/2 cup good olive oil
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. hot water
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1.5 cups 60% cocoa dark chocolate chips (Ghiradelli is my favorite)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking silpat or baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the olive and sugar and mix on medium until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure to mix well between each one. Add the cocoa powder, flour and salt and mix until a dough forms. 

In a small bowl, dissolve the baking soda into the hot water. Add the dissolved baking soda and water mixture as well as the vanilla to the batter, and beat until just combined. Gently stir in the chocolate chips. Refrigerate the batter for at least 30 minutes or overnight. 

Using a tablespoon, scoop out heaping tablespoons of dough onto your cookie sheets. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are set. 11 minutes was the perfect amount of time in my oven. 

Let cool for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.





We will see you back here tomorrow for the final day ... COCKTAILS!

Tuesday

In The Kitchen With Allie, April and Nina: Appetizers


Today, a little special treat -- a collaboration between three girlfriends who are also bloggers: April from A. Liz Adventures, Allie from Key Ingredients, and Nina from Peace, Love, and Good Food.

This is a three-part series all centered around holiday cuisine! Today we will share an appetizer with you. Tomorrow will be a dessert or sweet treat. Thursday is all about cocktails!





Hot Cheesy Mushroom Dip

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour - 1 hour 20 minutes


 Ingredients
• 1 tablespoon oil
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 1 medium onion (sliced)
• 1 pound mushrooms (cleaned and sliced)
• 1 clove garlic (chopped)
• 1 teaspoon thyme (chopped)
• salt and pepper to taste
• 1/4 cup white wine
• 4 oz. cream cheese (room temperature)
• 1/2 cup sour cream
• 1/4 cup mayonnaise
• 1/4 cup mozzarella (grated)
• 1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano

Directions
1. Heat the oil and melt the butter in a skillet.
2. Add the onion and cook until it starts to caramelize, about 20 minutes.
3. Add the mushrooms and saute until they start to caramelize, about 20 minutes.
4. Add the garlic and thyme and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
5. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Add the wine, deglaze the skillet and cook until it has evaporated.
7. Puree 1/2 of the mushrooms in a food processor.
8. Mix all mushrooms, cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, mozzarella and parmigiano reggiano and place in a baking dish.
9. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until bubbling and golden brown on top, about 20-40 minutes.





Key Ingredients

This simple yet elegant crowd pleasing appetizer will make a beautiful addition to your holiday spread. It's full of flavor from the tender squash, creamy goat cheese, sweet dried cranberries and earthy sage. A little bit of sweet, a little bit of savory and a whole lot of deliciousness is packed on to this bite-sized crostini.

img_4330-2

img_4333  

Butternut Squash, and Goat Cheese Crostini
Author: Allie
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8-10

Ingredients
  • Crostini
    • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 baguette, thinly sliced into 1/4" round pieces
    • Salt and Pepper
  • Topping
    • 4 ounces goat cheese, softened
    • 1 1/2 cups peeled and diced butternut squash
    • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
    • 1/2 medium onion
    • 10-12 fresh sage leaves
    • Salt and pepper
    • 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Brush each side of the sliced baguette pieces with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add to a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Flip each crostini and continue to bake for an additional 3-4 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
  3. Turn the oven up to 400 degrees. Cut butternut squash into 1/4" cubes (if not using pre-chopped squash). Dice the onion toss onto a baking sheet with the butternut squash. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons olive oil and roast until tender. (About 25 minutes).
  4. Meanwhile in a skillet, heat an additional 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium heat. Add in the sage leaves and fry until crispy. Remove sage from pan and set aside.
  5. Once the butternut squash has roasted, remove from oven.
  6. To assemble: Spread a small amount of goat cheese onto each crostini and add desired amount of squash mixture over top. Finish off with a small spoonful of cranberries and a single sage leaf cut in half.
This colorful appetizer looks so pretty on a simple white serving platter!


Image result for peace love and good food

Ohhhhh this baked brie. It's become a staple for my family and a Thanksgiving and Christmas favorite. It's never a bad idea and now I'm wondering why we only wait until this time of year to make it. I guess it wouldn't be as special but still. Cranberries, cinnamon and brown sugar with melty brie!? So much goodness in one bite. Serve it with baked crostini and Honeycrisp apple slices. 




Cranberry + Cinnamon Brie en Croute

1 wedge of brie
1 sheet puff pastry
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 egg, lightly beaten

Defrost puff pastry for 15-20 minutes and unfold. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

On a baking sheet, lay puff pastry flat. Place brie on top of puff pastry. 

In a small bowl, mix cranberries, butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Spoon cranberry mixture on top of brie. Fold puff pastry over the wedge, making sure there are no holes or air pockets. Brush with egg wash. For a little extra pizazz, cut out a piece of puff pastry with a cookie cutter and arrange on top for a decorative detail, like I did with the Christmas tree above.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until pastry is browned, puffed and brie is nicely melted.

I like to plate this on a giant cutting board (like this one) Add in these appetizer plates and mini spreading knives for a gorgeous and festive holiday cocktail spread! 



Nice and tidy.


We will see you back here tomorrow for desserts and sweet treats!

Monday

Our 2016 Christmas Cards

I think the perfect Christmas cards should be:

+ beautiful and unique in design ... a background image or color scheme that coordinates with your photo(s) and draws attention to the photo's subjects

+ printed clearly on heavy quality paper

+ easy to customize and order online.

Our 2016 Christmas cards are officially DONE and in the mail, and I wanted to share them here with you. I'm so pleased with the way they turned out, and I just have to brag on Tiny Prints!



I opted for the heavier cardstock this time around and am really happy with that choice. Definitely worth the extra little bit.


And I also had this little image printed on the front of the cards which just makes them even cuter to address.


If you haven't already ordered your Christmas cards, here are some of my other favorites from Tiny Prints. You really can't go wrong with any of their options. 




So, thanks to Tiny Prints for the lovely Christmas cards and for allowing me to sing your praises!

+++

Check back tomorrow for a three-part feature that I'm doing with some girlfriends. :)


Sunday

Saturday (okay, SUNDAY) Sip and Shop: My 2 Fave Holiday Candles



Soooo, this post was written yesterday, and I thought this morning "oh well, I guess I didn't get a single comment on that post, that's a little odd" only to see that it never published. So here's your Saturday Sip and Shop ... on a Sunday. :)

Sip:

Rosemary Gin Grapefruit Cocktail

Rosemary Grapefruit Gin and Tonic
Recipe HERE from Simply J&K




Shop:


Main Image - Voluspa 'Maison Holiday - Spruce Cuttings' Two-Wick Candle
This is my #1 favorite holiday candle.
I love, love the Nest Holiday candle, but this one is easier
on the wallet which makes it pop up to the number one position.

I bought mine the other day from Nordstrom (HERE)
and lit it for the first time this morning!

Either brand is perfect for holiday gift swaps like White Elephant or Dirty Santa parties ... just depends on the dollar limit you're working under.



Friday

Five On Friday: Happy December!

It's time for another edition of Five on Friday and I do hope you'll join along!

Remember, all you have to do is post about five things on your mind, add our logo (found at the bottom of this post), and join the party using the linky tools below. Easy, and a great way to find new blogs and be found. :)

O N E
Yesterday I got to have an impromptu breakfast date with a girlfriend and her babe. I was on the way to drop Camille off at preschool when I got a call from her asking if I wanted to meet at a local pancake house. Well YES!

Char slept through most of it and then woke up towards the end. The guy at the table next to us was looking at her saying "aww" and then he said "You made up her face?" It took me a while to figure out that he thought I had makeup on her!!! I died! I said "Oh no, she just has naturally rosy cheeks!" - I was so caught off guard! That's one for the baby book!



T W O
I went to LOFT yesterday to scope out some wishlist items for my husband to get me. :)


Hey, hubs? One item I'd love for Christmas is this quilted sweatshirt
Sweatshirt = automatic coziness. But it also has gold embroidery on it for pizazz!
Also, I think 3/4 length sleeves are so flattering on petites.  
Above I'm wearing the petite XS (I find their sizing to be a bit generous). 
And they also have it online in winter white although my store didn't have it in stock. 


And this off-the-shoulder option is so pretty and forgiving in the midsection. I'm always down for tops that highlight my shoulders and not my tummy pooch :) I'm also wearing a petite XS in this one since it has a blousier fit. 

T H R E E
Camille is on a major Shimmer and Shine kick (she gets two 30-minute shows after nap) and I was so excited to see this coloring set on Amazon for right around $3.50. Stocking stuffer! It already arrived and is hidden :)


F O U R
ThredUp for the win ... again! I just scored these two dresses for Camille recently and they are set to arrive today. I love the print on that Tea Collection dress, and the smocked holiday dress is still casual enough to wear to preschool for their Christmas program.

Never ordered from them? This referral link will give you $10 off of your first order.



F I V E
I am excited about Columbia's Junior League Holiday Market going on now! My sister Laura has her booth there, so if any of you are in the area and looking for great gifts, find her there!



Fun things coming next week ... I'll show our Christmas cards Monday, and I also have a 3-part collaboration with some of my girlfriends who are bloggers as well on Tue/Wed/Thu. And then Five on Friday as usual!

TGIF y'all, and hope you will join in on Five on Friday this week! Cheers to the weekend!

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