Tag Archives: Christmas

On the 4th Day of Christmas…Give Cookies!

IMG_0434I’ve never used my mom’s ceramic cookie stamps and I’ve been dying to for years.  I decided to make sugar cookies for my son’s therapy school teachers and thought the stamps would be perfect for banging out a large quantity of simple but gorgeous cookies.  At the last second, I thought it might be pretty to dry brush some gel food coloring over the larger designs and they turned out great!   These only took about 2 hours total to make, so they are perfect for a last-minute gift or for making in large quantities. Continue reading

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On the 3rd Day of Christmas…Bake!

IMG_0433Is there anything more wonderful than bread smeared with butter straight out of the oven?   No.  Not really.  This nutty and fruity cinnamon swirl bread is my favorite bread to make around the holidays.  It combines everything delicious into one loaf; cinnamon, sugar, nuts and dried berries swirled into a soft, squishy and ever so slightly chewy white bread.  Don’t be scared of baking bread!  I know it can be daunting, so I’ve broken it down with photos to help make it fool-proof.  Continue reading

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On the 2nd Day of Christmas…Send Cards!

christmascard2011Don’t you just love getting holiday cards in the mail?   I know people are always scrambling to get them out every year, but they are much appreciated…so keep it up or start a new tradition!  Tiny Prints has gorgeous designs that are super easy to use online, so there’s no excuse, really.   Every year, Jeff and I come up with a fake Christmas album as our holiday card and while I think some of our family members might be a little confused by them, we know how much they all look forward to seeing what we come up each year.    If I leave nothing else behind in this world, I love thinking that these weird cards could be floating around out there for many years to come! Continue reading

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On the First Day of Christmas…PARTY!

I made this silly little Christmas train cake for all the kids at the party! I got so much cute candy cargo at Dylan's Candy Bar.

I made this silly little Christmas train cake for all the kids at the party! I got so much cute candy cargo at Dylan’s Candy Bar.

It’s that time of year again and I am SO excited for our upcoming Christmas party in a few weeks.   We usually have anywhere from 40 to 60 people come by our party every year, so this post is mostly about how to feed and water a crowd without going completely insane.  My photos from last year are seriously lacking in number and quality, but hopefully you can get the gist anyway! Continue reading

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Holiday Party for a Crowd

The Christmas table, ready to be devoured.

The Christmas table, ready to be devoured.

This holiday party post is very, very late, but hopefully still helpful if you ever find yourself trying to entertain for a large crowd.  We throw two large annual parties, but our holiday housewarming this year took the prize for most guests next to our wedding!  Since returning to Los Angeles, we have found that our old friends have paired up and multiplied, making our two biggies (Easter and Christmas) even merrier!  It’s wonderful, but feeding 60 people can be daunting…so here are some tips on how to do that without breaking the bank (or losing your cool): Continue reading

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Christmas Party Round Up

IMG_7742Saturday marked the last party in the garage and it was a huge success!

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OH Don’t worry…..it’s O’Douls!

We figured it was time to find a new place to decorate, cozy up and entertain in since we aren’t quite edgy enough to raise a baby in a garage loft.  For now, enjoy this holiday party post, use the recipes (everything was delicious!) and next year, get ready for new-apartment posts and baby nesting!

Our party had a much looser theme than last year, but we encouraged people to wear “vintage holiday” attire….any decade would do.  Jeff and I channeled the 60’s, mostly because it was the only vintage maternity dress I could find!   Here’s what we served:

MENU

Starters

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  • Hot Artichoke Dip with Pita Chips and Toasted Baguette Slices (Martha Stewart)
  • Cheese and Meat Plate (Trader Joe’s cheeses, salamis, fig butter and hot pepper jelly)
  • Dill Dip With Veggies (recipe below)
  • Marcona Almonds (Trader Joe’s)

Dinner

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  • Glazed Ham with Mustard (Trader Joe’s)
  • Roasted Winter Vegetables (recipe below)
  • Butternut Squash and Turnip Gratin (Wine Garage)
  • Classic Stuffing (recipe below)
  • Touch-of-Grace Biscuits (from The Bread Bible, but these are similar)

Desserts

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Dill Dip

We served this with raw veggies at the party, but traditionally, my family serves it in a rye or pumpernickel bread bowl with rye and pumpernickel bread cubes (it’s the best!).

  • 16 oz. mayonnaise
  • 16 oz. sour cream
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small (or 1/2 large) yellow onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dry dill weed

Mix everything together in a bowl and let sit in the refrigerator at least 4 hours before serving.

Roasted Winter VegetablesIMG_7736

  • 5 cups whole cremini mushrooms, cut into quarters
  • 6 cups brussel sprouts, cut in half
  • 2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into hunks
  • 1 large acorn squash, seeds removed, cut in wedges along grooves, peeled and cut into hunks
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • fresh thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 425.  Line 2 sheet pans with foil and put the mushrooms on one and the sprouts on the other.  Drizzle both with olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme leaves.  Roast both for 15 minutes, stir and flip and continue roasting until tender and browned, about 5 minutes.  Dump both into a serving dish or casserole and toss to combine flavors.  Lower the heat to 400 and repeat the process for the parsnips and acorn squash.  These will take longer than the mushrooms and sprouts.  Toss everything together and add more salt if needed.   IMG_7732

Classic Stuffing

I made this vegetarian this year with veggie stock, but I recommend using chicken stock if you have meat eaters around…it’s a lot tastier that way!

  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 cup butter
  • 9 cups soft bread cubes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed sage leaves
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups stock (veggie or chicken)

Preheat oven to 350.  Toss bread cubes, salt, pepper, thyme, and sage in a large bowl.  In a large skillet, cook and stir onion and celery in butter over medium heat until onion is tender.  Pour over the bread cubes and toss until coated.  Transfer mixture to a casserole dish, drizzle with stock and bake, covered with foil for 30 minutes.  Uncover, increase heat to 375 and bake until browned and crispy on top, about 10 minutes.

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As promised….Our 2012 Christmas card “album” cover!

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And back!

 

 

 

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DIY Truffles

Truffles are the easiest candy to make at home, they are basically composed of only two ingredients and you can flavor them in a million different ways…which makes them the best Christmas gift EVER!

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I carved a large stamp for the truffle boxes (click the image for the video tutorial), stamped one in red on white paper, scanned it and printed a bunch on sticker paper. They still look hand stamped but they are all perfect and low maintenance.

Since truffles are mostly just heavy cream and chocolate, you can either pre-infuse the cream with flavors by using a steeping method (whole ingredients left in hot cream for 30 minutes and then strained out) or you can add flavorings or liqueurs to the melted mix.

The basic ratio for the simplest truffle is 1 cup of heavy cream to 1 pound of chocolate (a mix of bittersweet and semisweet).    The basic method is this:  heat the cream to boiling, remove it from the heat for 30 seconds and then pour it over the chopped chocolate and whisk until smooth.  Add a tablespoon of dark brewed coffee and a little vanilla to heighten the chocolate flavor.  Let sit at room temperature until firm, scoop and form into balls and roll in cocoa powder or powdered sugar.

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SUCCESS! Left to Right: Holiday Spice, Peanut Butter and Pretzel.

I decided to make 3 “truffles” this year as my Christmas gift using the steeping method…although one is really just a classic peanut butter ball!    After successfully making a delicious Cinnamon Toast Ice Cream this summer by steeping the cream with buttered cinnamon toast croutons, I thought, “why not try this same technique with pretzels?”  The resulting “Pretzel Truffle” is subtle, but delicious, while the other “Holiday Spice Truffle” is punchy and perfect with every one of my favorite flavors this season.   How you can make your own truffles and my recipes from this year after the jump! Continue reading

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