Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Deck the Halls...

Hodge Podge cuteness, if you ask me! 

It all started with some bulbs...I bought loads of shatter proof bulbs
at Target after last Christmas.  Great deals and I just knew I would
find a tree-free purpose for them, this holiday.  New (deeply discounted) 
bulbs, a few old bulbs, fish line...and I was off.

This old dresser (a fantastic mid-century Craigslist find) usually is
the base for family photos, some family art and the candles (as seen).

I pulled the photos and art and moved in some holiday cheer.

My mom gave me the Twinkle sign years ago and it is still a holiday favorite 
and looks cutie with the (once again,a cheapy find at Target) felted trees.  
I pulled out my trifle dish, filled it with bulbs and balanced it with a holiday postcard 
that I plopped in a frame (the postcard looks vintage, which I totally love).

Simply plopping the glitter bulbs on top of the well used 
candles adds quick and instant holiday pizazz.  To add a bit 
 more dimension, I threw the remaining bulbs (that were housed in 
a tube, 8 bulbs total, in the $1 section at Target...which I 
 proudly paid 50 cents for) in a vintage mason jar.  
The BE MERRY sign was also sourced from the 
$1 section at Target (again, a 50 cent score!)

I just picked the table runner up at Home Goods (because, as they 
say, Home Goods makes you happy) and pulled out a rad enamel bowl
that I picked up years ago at a garage sale (for $1...for reals) and filled it
with several of my favorite, oversize bulbs.  I filled a vintage mason jar with the
 garland beads I usually string from a cut tree.  I topped my favorite little cake
stand with a glass dome (filled with bulbs).  Major props to that cute little
dome.  I picked it up at Goodwill (it was the topper of a wooden cheese board).
I just bought the topper, for $1.  Keep watch for them, as they seem to be plentiful 
on the shelves of thrift stores, and make a wonderful statement for a birthday cupcake,
stack of cookies or...a pile of Christmas bulbs. 

I want to live in this potpourri of colorful holiday cheer!

Seriously, how fab is this bowl?  I am mildly obsessed with it's beat up beauty!

I went fish line crazy with the table lighting.  Super random, yet balanced.

Logi has stood on the table no less than 10 times and asked me,
 is it snowing? while she bangs these around.  Lawdy!

Super simple, quick and wicked cheap holiday creation!!!

I purchased a few packages of faux greenery 
garland (last winter, after season sale, of course)
knowing that I wanted to doll up the stairs.

Using fish line I bundled random bulbs and 
tied to the posts.

Bundle of bulbs!

I tucked this gorgeous winter picture of my nieces
on my metro rack of crazy.  It looks perfect.

In other news...
Logi is ready to take on winter!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Crispy 'Nests' with Grape 'Eggs'

I didn't even think of putting this on the blog, but when I told one of my besties about them she said, YOU HAVE TO BLOG THAT!  This tasty treat turned out cuter and tastier than I could have imagined, and were the perfect treat for little kindergarteners learning about birds! 

Here's what I did:

Simple, simple...follow any ol' recipe for rice crispy treats EXCEPT sub out 1 cup of golden graham cereal and 1 cup pretzel sticks for 2 of the cups of rice cereal.  If you aren't making these into nests, transfer the mix to a buttered 9x13 pan and watch the bars quickly disappear.  If nests are on the agenda, use a large scoop to portion out the sticky mix onto parchment paper.  I then put a bit of coconut oil on a standard tablespoon and formed the nests.  Nests are organic matter, so remind yourself of that if a few look like they belong in the HOT MESS column. 

 Little nests.  I transferred them to a lidded container for transport to kindergarten. 
Sending the washed and dried grapes in a separatecontainer to be added at snack time. 

Of course these will be a perfect spring treat, to switch up for the old
chow mein bird nests we all devour around Easter time!  

Kid and Parent approved in taste and appearance, FYI!


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ghostly Pretzel Rods & Cookie Headstones

I am in charge of dessert for Logi's kindergarten class Halloween party, and I decided I would create a graveyard of cupcakes and top them with frosting and Oreo cookies crumbled into dirt.  and then top the dirt with gummy worms, ghosts and headstones.  Very spooky and Very tasty! 

 I buy bags of melting vanilla chips online.  I am certain you
can find at any baking supply store. 

Use a glass or stainless steel bowl, over a pot of water 
(only a few inches of water, as the water should never touch the 
base of the bowl) on medium heat.  Stir often.

Keeping the the double boiler on medium heat, I switched out bowls
and started melting some standard dark chocolate chips.

I used a spoon to coat the pretzel rods (broken in half, as I am going
to stick them in cupcakes and full size would be maj overkill). Then
set dipped (and dripped off, into bowl of coating) pretzels on a 
parchment lined tray to fully set up.

Melted dark chocolate.  Be responsible, don't like the bowl!
After melted turn the heat off, but leave over the warm water until
you are ready to transfer.  The best thing about working with melted 
chocolate, if it starts to harden, pop it on the heat for a minute and it
will quickly melt again!

I bought single layer cookies (this cookie is usually sandwich cookies,
so I was excited to find them as singles)  I placed them plain side up, on
a parchment paper lined tray.

Transfer the melted dark chocolate to a bottle. 

 They aren't perfect, but sure did turn out cute! 

 I used too many vanilla chips, so placed the excess melt on a piece
of parchment and spread out with a spatula to set.  I then broke
it up into bits and popped in a freezer safe bag and into the freezer for
a later date bake session. 

I will certainly post a picture, once these little goodies are plopped 
in the cupcake graveyard!!!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

October Fest Egg Bake

Just under the end-of-October-wire I knocked out this egg bake today.
I have been thinking about it for weeks (as pretzel buns feel like a pantry
staple this time of year AND who doesn't love an egg bake on a Sunday morning?)

Slice (or chop, however you desire) a large yellow onion, over medium/high
heat slowly saute with 3 T of butter.  Add salt & pepper.

After ~10 minutes the onions will be soft and translucent. Transfer to 
a bowl and pop in the refrigerator to cool.

Some of the other ingredients, in addition to the sauteed onions:
pretzel buns
peppers (mild, slightly sweet)
sausages (any variety would work just fine)
 3 T spicy brown mustard

Not pictured:
shredded cheese (any variety will do, so use up what you have)
Eggs (I used a 32 ounce carton of egg whites)

Wash the peppers, cut off the tops, and cut down the middle lengthwise.
Use a spoon to scoop out all of the seeds. Then chop the peppers.
 I did to say how much peppers to add, as you can add as little or many
to your liking.  I cut enough peppers to yield 1/2 cup chopped.

I cubed 6 cups of pretzel buns.  To the bowl of sauteed onions I added
the chopped peppers, spicy brown mustard and sausages.  

 Place the pretzel bun chunks in the base of a greased pan (this oval
is just  a couple inches shy of being the equivalent of a 9x13 pan).

Top the pretzel chunks with the onion & sausage mixture.

Top with cheese (I used 2 cups total of shredded jack, asiago and parmesan)
Like I said, any cheese will work. I had a bag of shredded jack in the
refrigerator and always seem to have a wedge of parmesan and asiago on
hand.  The combo of these cheeses was excellent!

Top with eggs (I used a 32 ounce carton of egg whites) that have been 
whipped with salt and pepper and cover for the night.  
A true egg bake always sits in the refrigerator overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350, uncover the 
dish and bake for ~1 hour.

The egg bake will be golden brown, crusty and puffy like a souffle!

Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving!

It's probably appropriate to serve this with beer, at breakfast!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Heavenly (seriously I heard angels singing) Cheesy Pumpkin Noodles

I cannot quit the squash family, this time of year.  It is a deep seeded love, 
and I am super excited to share this quick and super tasty recipe with you.

What you need:
1- 15oz. can of pumpkin puree (I prefer Trader Joe's brand)
1- 8oz tub of whipped cream cheese
2 cups whole milk
1 & 1/2 bags of 1 lb. spaghetti noodles
5 T. butter
1 large onion, sliced thin
1 & 1/2 cups finely grated parmesan cheese
1 T. pure maple syrup
8 sage leaves
hearty pinch of grated nutmeg
salt & pepper

Begin melting the butter in a saute pan.  Add the thinly 
sliced onions, salt & pepper.Cook over medium heat.
The butter will be bubbly and slowly start to brown.

 After the onions start to tenderize and the butter starts to brown, toss in 
the sage (I stack the sage and slice twice down the length of the leaves, then
chop across).  Cook an additional few minutes, while stirring the sage around.  

 Brown butter and onion perfection.  This will smell like heaven, 
infused with fresh sage!

 Toss the prepared spaghetti noodles in the onions and brown butter
 (the spaghetti is cooked to al dente in a big pot of boiling salted water),
coating each noodle with the infused butter.

Set the noodles aside on a platter, while you whip up the sauce in
the saute pan 

In the noodle free saute pan, add the milk, cream cheese, pumpkin,
maple syrup and fresh grated nutmeg.  Combine, then salt and pepper 
to taste. Like with any milk base sauce, I always think I end up 
needing more salt and pepper than I originally thought, so taste as you 
go and continue seasoning.  

After the milk, cream cheese and pumpkin are combined, stir
in the grated parmesan cheese. Taste it.  Is it seasoned appropriately?

The sauce will be thick and absolutely mouth watering!  If it is too 
thick for your liking, thin out with a tiny bit of milk.

 I simply garnished with some maple spiced pecans I had in the
kitchen. They are so good and were the perfect tiny crunch.
Do click above to see how absolutely simple they are to whip up.

I think some other wonderful additions to this heavenly pasta 
would be:
sauteed portobello mushrooms, chicken, bacon...mmmm!

Report back with the goodies you throw in.