Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Years Eve Drinks

I can't believe that it so close to 2013! These are some of my favorite drinks from this year. (Plus a new one!) I picked the ones that I felt best fit the season. They will be perfect for any new years eve celebration.

Hope you have a great new years!!

Top (Left to Right)
Frozen Hot Chocolate
Salted Caramel Pretzel Martini (See Recipe Below!!)
Holiday Red Wine Sangria

Bottom (Left to Right)
Sweet Tart Shot
Pumpkin Pie Martini
White Cranberry Cosmo

Salted Caramel Pretzel Martini
I was out for cocktails with my friend Ann a few weeks ago and tried this AMAZING drink. I bought the ingredients for the martini shortly after, and I now love to recreate the drink at home. The salty and sweet balance is perfect.

  • Stoli Salted Karamel vodka
  • Frangelico
  • Caramel Sauce
  • Crushed Pretzels
  • Pour caramel sauce on a plate.
  • Spread out crushed pretzels on a second plate.
  • Dip top of martini glass in caramel sauce, and dip glass in pretzels immediately after.
  • For each martini, pour 3 oz of vodka and 2 oz of frangelico in a martini shaker with ice.
  • Shake vigorously and pour into martini glass. 

    Friday, December 28, 2012

    White Cranberry Cosmo

    My signature drink is usually cranberry and vodka, but once in a while I like to change it up a bit. Using white cranberry juice instead of regular cranberry juice was an ingenious exchange if I do say so myself. This cosmo has definitely become a new fave of mine. It is fruity and sweet, just like I like it. My favorite part of the drink are the frozen cranberries dredged in sugar. It really makes the drink look festive! This recipe makes 2 to 3 drinks. I tripled this recipe and put all all the ingredients in a pitcher to serve at a party and that worked too. Just make sure you keep the cranberries on the side so that the sugar doesn't float to the bottom of the pitcher.  

    Recipe Source:The Chew

    • 1 cup white cranberry juice
    • 4-5 ounces vodka
    • 2 ounces cointreau
    • 1/2 ounce sweetened lime juice
    • 1/2 cup cranberries
    • granulated sugar
    • Make the cranberries at least 3-4 hours before you are planning to serve the drinks.
    • To make the cranberries, rinse the cranberries with water.
    • While they are still wet, dredge them in sugar.
    • Spread them evenly on a pan and freeze for 3-4 hours.
    • Fill a martini shaker with ice. Add the cranberry juice, vodka, cointreau, and lime juice.
    • Shake vigorously and strain into a martini glass.
    • Add ice and garnish with the sugared cranberries.

    Thursday, December 27, 2012

    Apple Cider Cupcakes

    These cupcakes are delicious. The spiced apple cake is perfect for the fall and winter season. I decorated these cupcakes with christmas decorations, but of course they would be delicious any time. The best part about these cupcakes is that they come with a little secret. This recipe is actually made with boxed cake mix which makes it super easy to make. Some other ingredients are added to enhance the cake mix so they are KINDA homemade. Don't worry, your secret is safe with me.

    Recipe Source: Cupcakes: Sensational Sweet Treats for Any Occasion

    Cake Ingredients:
    • 1 package spice cake mix
    • 1 1/4 cups apple cider
    • 3 eggs
    • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
    Frosting Ingredients:
    • 1 stick softened butter
    • 1/2 cup apple cider
    • 4 cups powdered sugar
    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    • Line a cupcake tin with 24 cupcake liners.
    • Beat cake mix, apple cider, eggs, and oil in a bowl with a mixer on low until blended.
    • Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.
    • Spoon batter evenly into prepared tins.
    • Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
    • Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Afterwards, remove to wire racks to cool completely.
    • Prepare Apple Cider Frosting by beating the butter and apple cider in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on low speed.
    • Once blended, gradually beat in 4 cups of powdered sugar until smooth.

    Monday, December 24, 2012

    Cheese Blueberry Danish

    I'm making this for Christmas morning because it is really easy to make and super delicious! If you don't like blueberry you can swap it out for any fruit pie filling (as long as it's in syrup!). A red pie filling like cherry would be especially festive for the holidays. You can even get creative with the crescent roll topping. If you don't like the lattice, try a different design. If you aren't creative, feel free to just lay the crescent roll down as it comes in the can (like you do on the bottom). It will all taste the same!

    Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday!

    Adapted From: Kitchen Girl

    • 2 cans ready to use refrigerated crescent rolls
    • 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
    • 1 egg
    • 1 (21 oz.) can blueberry pie filling (or any fruit pie filling, as long as it's in syrup!)
    For the glaze:
    • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
    • 2 Tablespoons milk
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    • Grease a 13x9 inch baking pan.
    • Lay a pack of crescent rolls on the bottom of the pan. 
    • Pinch the openings of the crescent rolls together.
    • In a medium sized bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and egg until smooth.
    • Spread the cream cheese mixture on top of the the crescent rolls.
    • Spread the blueberry pie filling over the cream cheese mixture.
    • Lay out the second pack of crescent rolls on a flat surface, and pinch together the openings.
    • Using a knife, cut 1 inch strips of the cresecent rolls and lay on top of the blueberry mixture to create a lattice design.
    • Bake for 35-45 minutes until the top is golden brown.
    • Let the danish cool for 20 minutes before topping it with the glaze.
    • For the glaze, mix together the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. 
    • Drizzle glaze over danish

    Sunday, December 16, 2012

    Graham Cracker "Gingerbread" House

    Dan and I spent our Sunday building this "gingerbread" house made out of graham crackers. We followed the template from this blog but we added our own decorations. Using graham crackers was a little easier because we could skip the step of baking gingerbread. We used a lot of different candies and treats to decorate the house. The top of the house is covered with frosting, gum drops, and snow caps. We used square pretzels to make windows, and a small piece of graham cracker to make the door.
    We even made a patio in the back of the house surrounded by green "hedges" aka gum drops.
    The trees were made from icecream cones that we dipped in melted white chocolate. We used shredded coconut and green sprinkles for the leaves, and M&Ms for lights. We continued the green sprinkles and coconut on the ground to make it look like snowy grass.
    I also found these really cute gingerbread men peeps which we put in front of the house. We had a great time putting this together!! I hope you like the pictures!

    Thursday, December 13, 2012

    Creamy Pesto Chicken Pasta with Bacon and Veggies

    Hi everyone! I'm Sarah - I blog over at Fantastical Sharing of Recipes. I'm excited that Lauren was willing to let me take over the blog for a day :) Fantastical Sharing is my way of documenting (and sharing) all the recipes I test out. I'm a cooking/baking maniac. My family strives on variety and I try to stay away from prepared or boxed meals as much as possible.

    I have been exploring foods lately that I have never tried including "weird" cheeses like Gruyere and super secretive things like pesto. I always thought pesto was some kind of concoction that only vegetarians ate. Don't ask me where I got that from - I don't have an answer.

    Anyways, one day I stumbled across a blog post sharing a pesto recipe (I think on Chef in Training). I looked at the ingredients and my jaw dropped. Everything in pesto was something I would eat and something all of my family would eat. So now I'm definitely trying to be careful of what I assume of foods. Most likely it isn't true!

    This recipe combines some of my favorite things, like pasta, broccoli, and bacon, with pesto, beans, and chicken. It's fantastic. There are many different textures and flavors in each bite - it was such a hit at my table!

    Creamy Pesto Chicken Pasta with Bacon and Veggies (Print)

    from Picky Palate

    What you need:
    • 2 Tbsp. EVOO
    • 2 chicken breasts, seasoned with salt and pepper
    • 1 lb. mini bowties
    • 2 Tbsp. EVOO
    • 1 medium onion, diced
    • 3/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
    • 2 Tbsp. minced garlic
    • 4 cups broccoli florets
    • 15 oz. white beans
    • 15 oz. chicken broth
    • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
    • 1/2 cup prepared basil pesto (I used this one from Savory Sweet Life)
    • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
    • 1 cup bacon, cooked and crumbled
    1. Heat 2 Tbsp. EVOO in a skillet over medium-high heat. Brown chicken for 4 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Remove to a plate and set aside.
    2. Cook bowties al dente, rinse, and drain. Set aside.
    3. Heat 2 Tbsp. EVOO in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, pepper, garlic, and broccoli. Saute for 10 minutes.
    4. Meanwhile, slice chicken into strips, cubes, or bite-size pieces - whatever you prefer. Set aside.
    5. Stir in beans, broth, cream, pesto, and Parmesan. Reduce heat to low. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes to heat everything through.
    6. Add bacon, pasta, and chicken. Heat through.

    Hot and Spicy Tuna Melt

    Anyone that knows me knows that I LOVE spicy food. I found this tuna melt recipe and altered it slightly so that every part has some spice in it. Of course, if you're not a lover of spicy food you can swap out the ingredients for something more mild. Either way this is a really fun way to have a tuna melt. It makes a perfect lunch.

    Recipe Source: Sweet Potato Chronicles

    • 1 pita bread
    • 1 can tuna
    • 1/3 cup chopped celery
    • 1/8 cup chopped banana peppers (Swapping these out for pickles would be find if you are not a fan of spicy peppers.)
    • 2 tablespoons light mayo
    • 1/2 cup habanero cheese (I used cabot habanero cheddar cheese. Now, this stuff is potent even for a spicy lover. I'm warning you! You can always swap for regular cheddar cheese if the habanero scares you). 
    • Siracha hot chili sauce (You can find it in the asian section of your grocery store.)
    • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    • In a large bowl combine drained tuna, celery, banana peppers, and mayo
    • Take your pita and poke small holes throughout the pita with a fork. This will prevent the pita from bubbling up.
    • Spread the tuna on one side of the pita leaving a small border around the edge.
    • Sprinkle cheese over the tuna.
    • Place pita on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and edges are golden brown.
    • Remove from oven and cut pita into quarters.
    • Drizzle Siracha sauce on top and serve.

    Sunday, December 9, 2012

    Holiday Red Wine Sangria

    I love trying new Sangria recipes. I made this Sangria for Thanksgiving and I really liked it. This sangria recipe would be great for any holiday party. I served the sangria cold so that guests could serve themselves. The original recipe served the sangria warm which I think may be nice  if you are having a small get together on a cold winter day. I would recommend making the sangria about 6-8 hours before the party. This will allow all the flavors to blend together. I find that if you make the sangria too far in advice, the fruit rinds will make the sangria too bitter. Hope you like!

    Recipe Source: Food Network

    • 1 bottle red wine
    • 1/4 cup orange juice
    • 1/4 cup brandy
    • 1 orange, sliced into rings
    • 1 lemon, sliced into rings
    • Fill a pitcher with ice
    • Combine wine, orange juice, brandy, and fruit slices in the pitcher
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