Thursday, December 30, 2010

Menu Boards

This year for Christmas Savannah gave me a menu board, but she decided that instead of making it for me she wanted to get together with our group and have a craft night. Last night we all got together at my house and assembled our boards. They were fairly easy to make thanks to Savannah's Cricut and endless supply of Close To My Heart paper. ;) Here's how mine turned out. Thanks Savannah!



Cupcakes

During these past several months that I've been taking cake decorating classes, my sister Leisa has been really excited about what I've been learning. This year for Christmas I had her name so when my mom suggested I buy her a cake decorating set I knew it would be the perfect gift! I bought her a small cake decorating set and a cupcake decorating set and she loved them!

Sunday I baked 2 dozen cupcakes and made buttercream and we got together to decorate. I showed her a few things I had learned in cake class and together we made some pretty awesome cupcakes! Jade and Lincoln were also there and had fun watching and licking the buttercream. :)



Holiday Sticky Buns

As part of Christmas breakfast this year I tried a new recipe from my favorite Food Network chef Barefoot Contessa...Holiday Sticky Buns!

Holiday Sticky Buns

Ingredients
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped in very large pieces
  • 1 package (17.3 ounces/ 2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
For the filling:
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup cranberries
  • 1/2 cup white raisins
Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees f. Place a 12-cup standard muffin tin on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 12 tablespoons of butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Place 1 rounded tablespoon of the mixture in each of the 12 muffin cups. Distribute the pecans evenly among the 12 muffin cups on top of the butter and sugar mixture.

Lightly flour a wooden board or stone surface. Unfold one sheet of puff pastry with the folds going left to right. Brush the whole sheet with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter. Leaving a 1-inch border on the puff pastry, sprinkle each sheet with 1/3 cup of brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, 1/4 cup of the cranberries and 1/4 cup of the raisins. Starting with the end nearest you, roll the pastry up snugly like a jelly roll around the filling, finishing the roll with the seam-side down. Trim the ends of the roll about 1/2 inch and discard. Slice the roll in 6 equal pieces, about 1 1/2 inches each. Place each piece, spiral side up, in 6 of the muffin cups. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry to make 12 sticky buns.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the sticky buns are golden to dark brown on top and firm to the touch. Allow to cool for 5 minutes only, invert the buns onto the parchment paper (ease the filling and pecans out onto the buns with a spoon) and cool completely.

Just a few things...I didn't use the pecans because Andrew doesn't really like nuts. I also didn't use the cranberries and raisins because I don't really like fruit in baked goods. They were still absolutely delicious and flavorful though and super easy!


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Merry Christmas!

We always spend Christmas morning at our house so that morning we got up and went out to open our presents to each other.

Andrew spoiled me like usual! He bought me the thing I wanted most, which was a Le Creuset 5.5 qt round french oven in the color Cassis. It's so beautiful I don't even want to cook in it! ;) I will though because it's supposed to cook everything so amazingly well!

He also bought me a few things from one of my favorite stores, Williams Sonoma and he had the gifts he bought wrapped in their signature Williams Sonoma Home pineapple wrapping. I loved it!

Here's the final picture of how spoiled I really was this year. :)

I got Andrew mainly all electronic stuff (surprise, surprise!). His main gift was a new video card for his computer. I also bought him Jazz tickets that is quickly turning into a Christmas tradition for him.

In the afternoon we went up to my parent's house for more present unwrapping.

My mom got all the girls in our family aprons and they all turned out so cute and personalized for us. Unfortunately my sister Heidi couldn't be there on Christmas day so she's not in the picture and we missed her!

Merry Christmas!


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Goodies

Every year around Christmas I enjoy spending a day in the kitchen making goodies for our family, friends and co-workers. This year I made a big cheeseball that I divided up into individual cheeseballs, 3 batches of caramel and 1 batch of divinity. I plated everything up on cute Christmas plates and last night we drove around and delivered most of them. I enjoy visiting with everyone we love the week of Christmas and while we're driving around delivering, it gives me a chance to see a lot of houses lit up with Christmas lights. :)


Our Christmas Tree 2010

Every year of my life I have gone with my family up into the mountains to cut our Christmas tree and that tradition carried on when Andrew and I got married also. Except one year where we bought our Christmas tree on a lot, Andrew and I have always joined my family to go up into the mountains to cut our Christmas tree. We always have a lot of fun searching for the perfect tree, sledding and laughing and now going with nieces and a nephew, it's becoming one of my most favorite family traditions. Here's this year's Christmas tree...Christmas Tree 2010!



Monday, December 20, 2010

December Book Club

A little over a week ago we got together again for book club. I chose this month's book, "The Christmas List" by Richard Paul Evans.

"Dear Reader,

When I was in seventh grade, my English teacher, Mrs. Johnson, gave our class the intriguing (if somewhat macabre) assignment of writing our own obituaries. Oddly, I don't remember much of what I wrote about my life, but I do remember how I died: in first place on the final lap of the Daytona 500. At the time, I hadn't considered writing as an occupation, a field with a remarkably low on-the-job casualty rate.

What intrigues me most about Mrs. Johnson's assignment is the opportunity she gave us to confront our own legacy. How do we want to be remembered? That question has motivated our species since the beginning of time: from building pyramids to putting our names on skyscrapers.

As I began to write this book, I had two objectives: First, I wanted to explore what could happen if someone read their obituary before they died and saw, firsthand, what the world really thought of them. Their legacy.

Second, I wanted to write a Christmas story of true redemption. One of my family's holiday traditions is to see a local production of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. I don't know how many times I've seen it (perhaps a dozen), but it still thrills me to see the change that comes over Ebenezer Scrooge as he transforms from a dull, tight-fisted miser into a penitent, "giddy-as-aschoolboy" man with love in his heart. I always leave the show with a smile on my face and a resolve to be a better person. That's what I wanted to share with you, my dear readers, this Christmas -- a holiday tale to warm your season, your homes, and your hearts.

Merry Christmas --Richard Paul Evans"

I have loved Richard Paul Evans' books for as long as I can remember. I think I started reading them as a young teenager when my mom gave me The Christmas Box Collection as a Christmas present and I've been hooked ever since so needless to say its been fun introducing all my friends to his books! Since I chose this month's book, I also got to be the hostess. I made sloppy joes for everyone for dinner and just enjoyed talking about the book and everything else that goes on in life. :)


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Card 2010

I found these Christmas cards last year on an awesome after Christmas sale and knew I loved them so I couldn't wait to get them out this year and mail them to all our family and friends. This year we decided to include a picture of us taken in Grand Cayman from our cruise with my family this past July.

Merry Christmas from our house to yours!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Jingle Kit

The Idea Closet came out with a few more Christmas kits and I just couldn't resist getting this one. I put it together last night and I love it!


Friday, December 10, 2010

Dried Citrus Ornaments

Last week Bountiful Baskets offered a citrus pack. It was a 24 lb box that contained:
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruits
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Satsumas
  • Pomelos
Kim asked me if I wanted to share the box with her and make dried citrus ornaments so I immediately said "Yes!". Monday night we got together and sliced the fruit and put it on my dehydrator.

Because we had so much fruit, it took 2 batches and about 3 nights for it all to be dried! This is what some of them turned out like.

Then I put a ribbon through each of my slices and am getting ready to hang them on my Christmas tree. :)

At the end we decided not to dry all the satsumas and instead leave some whole and put whole cloves in them. They smell wonderful!