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Category Archives: Holidays

Chewy White Chocolate Chip & Cranberry Cookies

The chocolate chip cookie is truly an ‘All-American’ classic. It’s also pretty traditional anytime of year. I don’t know what it is, or why, but around the holidays my brain demands I change things up. And to said brain there are a few things that just *say* Christmas, one of them being a switch to white chocolate chips in my cookies.

 Chewy White Chocolate Chip Cranberry Cookies

And another thing? The add-ins change. Gone are the extra candies, even the oats got kicked to the curb. And although our favorite Christmas cookie add-in, Cranberries, are healthy, trust me when I say it’s not at all intentional.

Chewy White Chocolate Chip Cranberry Cookies 3

For real though, I love these cookies so much, I’d make them in Summer too if it was seasonally appropriate. (They’re so good, you can go ahead and insert a boo, hiss from my boys over that sad fact) So let’s recap, soft and chewy, yet crisp too, cookies that pair decadent white chocolate chips with sweet/tart dried cranberries. These are the perfect Christmas cookie combination, and any cookie aficionados dream.

Chewy White Chocolate Chip & Cranberry Cookies

Chewy White Chocolate Chip Cranberry Cookies 2

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
3/4 cup dried cranberries

Directions

  1.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the softened butter and sugars on medium-high speed until they’re whipped and creamy. Next, add in the egg and vanilla, and beat on high speed and mix until evenly incorporated.
    2. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Working a little at a time, mix the dry ingredients into the wet batter. (The batter should be pretty thick, and that’s ok) Use a spatula to gently fold in the white chocolate chips and the dried cranberries. Cover the dough tightly with plastic wrap, or transfer to a Tupperware and seal, and chill for at least 2 hours, or up to 2 days. Do not skip this step!
    3. Remove the dough from the refrigerator about 10 minutes prior to baking to allow it to come almost to room temp, if you let it chill overnight. It may take up to 30 minutes. While the dough softens, prep two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats, and set aside.
    4. Scoop about 1 tablespoon of dough and roll, between your hands, into a ball. If the dough is crumbly, no worries, it will smooth right out when you roll it. Put the dough balls onto a non-stick baking sheet, about 1-1/2 – 2 inches apart from each other, to allow for spreading. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes, or until just barely golden brown around the edges. They will look extremely soft when you remove them from the oven. Let the cookies rest for 5 minutes or so, until you transfer them to cooling rack to finish cooling completely.

White Chocolate Gingerbread Crescent Rolls

I can’t believe Christmas is only a week away. It never ceases to amaze me how fast a year goes by the older I get. And while I may have perfected my Masters in Procrastination over the years, gift buying is always an exception. I’m usually done with everything, except stocking stuffers, before the school year starts. And while I may *have* all the gifts hidden in sneaky little spots, that I can only hope I remember all of, it’s still the week before Christmas and I haven’t wrapped a single thing. Ya know what? It’s all going to work itself out, and every darn thing will get wrapped and placed perfectly under the tree, even if it’s not until 3am Christmas morning.

 White Chocolate Gingerbread Crescent Rolls

One thing I do enjoy wrapping up? Surprises, in the middle of snacks for the kids. And whether I’m serving them for brunch, for snack, or even dessert, there’s nothing quite as perfect for this as the crescent roll. Just picture it: the flaky outer pastry of a perfectly cooked crescent roll, with crumbled spicy ginger snaps, a dash of Christmas colored sprinkles, and a white chocolate drizzle are a perfect outer shell, hiding the perfect complimentary flavors inside, rich cream cheese and sweet white chocolate.

White Chocolate Gingerbread Crescent Rolls 3

Think of it as a present for your mouth, one that’s just waiting to tickle those tastebuds.

White Chocolate Gingerbread Crescent Rolls

White Chocolate Gingerbread Crescent Rolls 2

1 8 oz, 8 count, tube of crescent roll dough
4 oz cream cheese, softened and cut into 8 equal cubes
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
8 gingersnap cookies, crushed
red, green, and/or white candy sprinkles

Directions

1. Roll out the crescent dough onto a lightly greased baking sheet.
2. Fill each crescent roll with 1 cube of the cream cheese, 1 tbsp of the white chocolate chips, and a pinch of the crushed gingersnaps.

3. Start at the fat end and gently roll up the triangle to form crescent shape, repeating for the remaining crescents.

4. Bake the prepared rolls at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.
5. In a double boiler, or in the microwave, melt the rest of the white chocolate chips. Drizzle the chocolate over the crescent rolls and then sprinkle the rest of the crushed ginger snaps over top. Finish off with a handful of candy sprinkles. Serve warm.

recipe adapted from Lemon Tree Dwelling

Like what you see? There’s more …

4 Sons 'R' Us: Nutella Crescents

Nutella Crescents

4 Sons 'R' Us: Snickerdoodle Crescents

Snickerdoodle Crescent Rolls

4 Sons 'R' Us: Sugar Crumb Crisps

Sugar Crumb Crispies

Candied Caramel Apple Cream Cheese Spread

The holidays can be such a chaotic time with all the activities, shoot sometimes I get sensory overload from all the bright lights alone. And planning, hosting, and delivering on family parties and potluck a is often no exception, so when I came across a recipe that simply doused a block of plain old cream cheese in caramel sauce, I knew it was perfect. (And not just because I can never get enough cream cheese; you know my feelings about cheesecake and dips.). ​When in doubt keep it simple. This is going to be my new go-to party spread.

 Candied Caramel Apple Cream Cheese Spread

According to Buddy, the elf, ‘the best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.’ And while we whole-heartedly agree, tasty treats are always a close second for spreading warmth and comfort to family and friends anytime of the year.

Serve this cream cheese spread and watch everyone cheer. We’ve topped it with Heath candy bits, but you could opt for plain toffee bits, or even nuts like pecans or walnuts for a less sweet, more rustic feel. Either way, it invites guests to dig right in.

Candied Caramel Apple Cream Cheese Spread

Candied Caramel Apple Cream Cheese Spread 2
8 oz cream cheese
caramel sauce (homemade or store-bought)
crushed Heath bar candy, toffee bits, or nuts such as pecans or walnuts for topping
sliced apples, pears, pretzels, or graham crackers for serving

Directions

  1. Place the cream cheese on a serving dish. Pour as much caramel sauce as you want evenly over top of the cream cheese. Sprinkle with a generous helping of your topping of choice.
    2. Serve with sliced apples, pears, pretzels and/or graham crackers.

recipe adapted from She Wears Many Hats

Pomegranate, Feta, and Chive Pinwheels

Everywhere we go everything is decorated. And while there may be a whole spectrum of ‘holiday’ colors, red and green are by far the stars of this show. One thing I don’t see a lot of? Festive dishes.

Hold on, let me stop you right there. I’m not talking about the traditional holiday favorites. Or even all the cute ones made to look like Holiday favorites, like our Christmas Tree Pull-Apart Bread or our Christmas Tree Pancakes. Those are a given. I’m talking about ‘decorated’ festive dishes made specifically with Christmas colors in mind. My Mom used to say that at least half of her enjoyment in a dish wasn’t just taste or even presentation, but about the colors and whether or not they spoke to her. She loves a vibrant presentation, and I can honestly say that I’ve come to appreciate one as well.

Pomegranate & Feta Pinwheels 2

Red pomegranate arils and bright green chives stud a bed of snowy white feta and whipped cream cheese, and it’s all wrapped up into perfect pinwheels. Talk about the total package! Visually engaging with a mouth-watering flavor combination, these just beg to be included in your Christmas buffet or at any holiday party.

Pomegranate, Feta, and Chive Pinwheels

Pomegranate & Feta Pinwheels

8 oz whipped cream cheese
5 oz crumbled feta cheese
¼ cup chives, chopped
⅓ cup pomegranate arils, rinsed and gently patted dry
4 fajita size tortillas

Directions

  1. In a medium size bowl, stir together the cream cheese, feta, chives and pomegrante arils.
    2. Spread the cream cheese out evenly over all four tortillas.
    3. Roll each tortilla tightly (like you would a Swiss or jell roll) and wrap the roll in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the filled tortillas for at least one hour, or overnight if making ahead of time.
    4. Use a serrated knife to slice each tortilla into 12 pinwheels before serving.

recipe adapted from Melanie Makes

Eggnog Monkey Bread

Monkey Bread is one of the sons’ favorite things to eat, and it’s little wonder why. It’s sticky, it’s sweet, and it’s basically dessert that they have permission to eat for breakfast and they get to wash it all down with a tall glass of cold milk.

Think you don’t have time to make such a yummy dish from scratch? We’ve made this super simple to make, so simple you’d have to try hard to actually mess it up.

Eggnog Monkey Bread 2

Even better? This isn’t any ordinary monkey bread recipe, this one is dressed specifically for the holidays, with its typically sugary sweet, pull apart pastry and a liberal buttered eggnog cream poured overtop.

Eggnog Monkey Bread

Eggnog Monkey Bread

1 can (16.3 oz) regular refrigerated biscuits, no flaky layers or butter flavored

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp nutmeg

6 tbsp butter, melted

Directions

1. Mix 1/4 cup of the sugar and the nutmeg, stirring to combine.

2. Separate the biscuits and use a pair of kitchen shears to cut each one into 4-6 pieces and put the cut pieces in a large zip locking bag, or a large tupperware.

3. Add the sugar mixture to biscuits, seal, and shake well to evenly coat the biscuit pieces.

4. Transfer the sugared biscuits to a greased 6 cup bundt pan.

5. Mix melted butter and the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and pour it all over the biscuits in pan.

6. Bake at 350 degrees for 28 minutes, or until golden brown.

7. Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing. To remove, tip the bundt pan upside down onto a serving plate, give it a pat or two if needed to release the bread, and top it with the eggnog glaze.

Eggnog Drizzle

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tbsp butter, softened

1/2 tsp rum extract

3 tbsp eggnog

1/8 tsp nutmeg

Directions

1. Stir together all the ingredients until evenly combined, add more eggnog if you’d prefer a thinner consistency. Drizzle the eggnog glaze over the monkey bread.

Cranberry Orange Rice Krispie Treats

Cranberry and orange is such a dynamic flavor duo, and it seems to pop up a lot during Fall. We also think it’s perfect for The Winter Holidays. And Rice Krispie treats have and will always one of the kids’ favorite things to make and to eat. So combining the two was a win for everyone. They still got to make , play in, and eat sugary, sticky crunchy melted marshmallow goodness, and we got to experiment with adding in some gourmet (that’s a stretch, isn’t it?) grownup mix-ins.

Cranberry Orange Rice Krispy Treats

If you haven’t experimented with going beyond the basic Krispie treat, this recipe is a perfect starting point. The tartness of the dried cranberries is balanced out by the sweet orange and packed into every chewy bite.

Cranberry Orange Rice Krispie Treats

Cranberry Orange Rice Krispy Treats 2

3 tbsp butter
1 bag (10 oz.) mini marshmallows
1/4 tsp orange zest
2 tbsp orange juice
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1 cup dried cranberries, such as Craisins

Directions

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Once melted, add in the marshmallows and stir. Let marshmallows melt completely, stirring occasionally. Stir in the Orange zest and juice. Remove the skillet from heat and set aside.

2. Pour in both the cereal and dried cranberries, carefully stirring (so none spills out) until everything’s evenly coated with the melted marshmallow. Coat a 9×13 baking dish with non stick spray, and then transfer the cereal to the dish. Use the back of a greased spatula to gently press the mixture down and out, evenly into the dish. Let the treats cool completely, then cut into squares before serving.

recipe adapted from Love Bakes Good Cakes

DIY Fireman Costume

Did you hear somebody yell, ‘Fire’ ?

DIY Fireman Costume 4

No worries. With the help of a little duct tape, an old t shirt, and a couple of iron on’s … an adorable little helper is on the way.

DIY Fireman Costume 3

Do your kids’ have Career Day at school? The sons’ elementary school hosts one every year, and you can literally be anything you want when you grow up. Well, besides a Ghost ‘Butter’, much to our honey nugget’s initial disappointment. The school does require they be legitimate ‘carrier’ choices, and since I haven’t heard that the cast of Ghost Adventures is looking to hand over the reigns anytime soon (or in the future), we went with the youngest son’s second choice.

DIY Fire man Costume 5

If he can’t be a hunter of wayward souls, he’s perfectly content spending his adult hood ‘saving people’. He couldn’t have pickled a nobler profession.

Whether it’s for Career Day, Halloween, or just creative play where we encourage them to ditch the batteries for a few and stretch their imaginations, this DIY costume is too easy not to make. The whole get up cost me less than $10 (it could be significantly less depending on what supplies you have on hand, too).

Directions

DIY Fireman Costume

yellow duct tape
smaller silver duct tape
American Flag iron on patch
iron-on letters that spell FIRE DEPT
over-sized, black long-sleeved t-shirt
fireman hat
black or yellow galoshes, optional

DIY Fireman Costume 2

1. We used a hand me down black t that had a graphic design on it and just turned it inside out. Take the standard size yellow duct tape and wrap it in a complete circle about 1/2 inch above the bottom of the t shirt. Do another under the armpits at ‘chest’ level. Then do two more yellow circles on the sleeves, one towards the bottom and one up towards the shoulder. Go over each yellow circle with a strip of the smaller silver tape creating another band right down the middle.
2. Have a heated iron ready. Follow the directions on the patches. Iron the flag patch above the upper band on the right sleeve of the outfit. Iron the letters for ‘Fire Dept’ above the top/chest band on the back of the outfit.
3. Complete your child’s fireman costume by wearing the shirt with black pants, a fireman hat, and rain galoshes for ‘boots’.

Monster Sandwiches

My lunch is grinning at me. (help?)

I’m gonna go ahead and file that under the ‘Things I Never Thought I’d Say’ tab. And in this case it’s a good thing, because it means I’ve succeeded in making adorable, edible little monsters for my little monsters.

Monster Sandwiches

These are ready in mere minutes, making them a perfect addition to any little lunch box and easy enough to whip a batch large enough for the food table at just about any Halloween Monster Mash bash.

Monster Sandwiches

Monster Sandwiches 2

2 slices of your favorite sandwich bread, we used honey wheat
1 slice sharp cheddar cheese
2-3 slices of lunch meat, ham, turkey, or chicken
2 pimento-stuffed green olives
mayonaiise or mustard (optional)
toothpicks
large round cookie cutter, or biscuit cutter

Directions

  1. Use a large cookie or biscuit cutter, press into the slices of bread, pulling away crust and excess to cut into circles. Use a paring knife to cut jagged little ‘teeth’ into one side of the slice of cheese. Stack the slices of lunchmeat on the bottom piece of bread & put the slice of cheese on top with the jagged edge facing ‘out’ and slightly hanging over the edge. Spread a bit of mayo and/or mustard onto the inside of the other cut piece of bread and then top the sandwich. Break a toothpick in half & insert one half into a pimento stuffed olive & the other into the top of the sandwich. Repeat with the other one forming your monster eyes. Repeat as many times as needed for your desired number of sandwiches.

Sous Chef Sunday: BOO-NANAS

These sweet little treats are too cute to be truly spooky, but they sure are fun. They’re also perfect for little hands, both to make and to enjoy.

BOO-nanas

And what’s not to enjoy? White chocolate covered bananas? Move over chocolate covered strawberries. Chocolate covered bananas rolled in shredded coconut? Yes, please. A delightfully adorable spooky snack (or dessert) served on a stick (because everything’s better served on a stick, am I right?), hand them over.

Boo-nanas 3

And then there’s the fact that they’re a much healthier alternative to candy or other sugary, although festive, option for your little ghosts or goblins.

BOO-nanas 

BOO-nanas 2

4 bananas, peeled and cut in half
8-12 oz white chocolate
1 cup shredded coconut flakes, sweetened or unsweetened
mini chocolate chips
popsicle sticks or wooden skewers

Directions

1. Melt the chocolate using a double boiler, stirring frequently until melted and smooth.
2. Gently insert the sticks or skewers into the center of the banana through the cut end. Carefully dip the bananas into the melted chocolate, turning to evenly coat before removing from the chocolate.
3. Quickly transfer the coated fruit to a plate of shredded coconut, again turning to coat. Place the banana onto a sheet of wax paper. Place two chocolate chips onto the fruit, and gently press them into the coated fruit for eyes.
4. Repeat the steps, as needed, until all the bananas are done. Leave them resting on the wax paper until the chocolate coating has hardened.

Pumpkin & Olive Oil Dinner Rolls

It only took me 29 years to figure out my problem. And a debilitating one it was! From September – December, every year, it’s the season of Pumpkin everything. And I didn’t like pumpkin. Survival was a struggle. It was real, ya’ll. So good thing this year, I was able to self-diagnose and resolve my issue. It’s not with pumpkin. I actually like pumpkin (well, in certain recipes). My issue is with pumpkin ‘spice’. Which actually makes me feel kind of dumb, because it’s well documented that I abhor cinnamon, and a lot of other nutty flavors, like nutmeg and allspice, so it is only logical that I would loathe pumpkin ‘spice’.

Now that I’ve gotten that all squared away, I’ve been going a little pumpkin crazy, well with pumpkin purée, not the pie filling, well because the ‘spice’. And these soft and savory rolls are by far my favorite thing I’ve discovered yet. The pumpkin adds extra vitamins and fiber, without altering the doughy, yeasty bread taste in anyway. So basically, they’re more healthy than regular rolls, and they taste amazing, and because they have pumpkin in them they’re pretty much mandatory at Thanksgiving and any other Autumn activity.

Pumpkin & Olive Oil Dinner Rolls

Pumpkin Olive Oil Dinner Rolls

1 3/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 cup milk
2 1/2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing/brushing
1 tsp salt
1 egg
1/3 cup, plus 1 tbsp, pumpkin puree
2 cups, plus 1 tbsp, all-purpose flour

Directions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, use the dough hook attachment to mix all of the ingredients listed together, at a medium speed, until evenly incorporated and everything pulls together into an elastic, slightly sticky dough ball.
    2. Use the extra olive oil to grease the inside of a large bowl. Use your still oiled hands, and then pick up the dough and transfer to the prepared bowl, turning it over just until all sides are coated with the older be oil too. Cover the bowl, we use plastic wrap or a dish towel, and let the dough rise in a warm place until it has sufficiently risen (but not necessarily doubled in size), about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes. Grease a work surface, such as a clean, clear kitchen counter, with olive oil and then turn out the dough onto the prepared surface. Knead the dough For about a minute and then pull it apart into roughly 8 equally-sized pieces, gently rounding out each into a ball again.
    3. Grease a 9″ round cake pan with olive oil and place all 8 rolls in the pan with equal spacing between. We got seven in an outer circle with the eighth in the middle. Cover and let the dough rise again for 30 – 45 minutes, or until the rolls have expanded to cover the surface of the pan and are touching each other and the sides of the pan.
    4. Bake the rolls at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, and carefully form a loose aluminum foil tent over it and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven and brush the tops of the rolls with some additional olive oil. Let the rolls rest and cool for five minutes , and then gently run a butter knife around the edges to loosen the rolls before removing them individually.

recipe adapted from My Sequined Life

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