Monday, December 30, 2013

Life Lately

1)-4) Some of our decorations this year...

This month was filled with Christmas fun, including decorating, holiday parties, and sweets galore!

1) Holidazzle Parade: every year, Minneapolis has held a lighted parade around the holidays, and this year was the last :(
2) Dressing up for John's office holiday party.  It was so cold out, I wore yoga pants and boots until I got to the coat check!
3) We have a new cupcake shop in our neighborhood!  This one is the waffle breakfast cupcake.
4) Inga and our Christmas tree
1) My Christmas morning- I believe!
2) Inga loves all the snow we've been having :)
3) Champagne by the fire
4) More cupcakes!  This time, candy cane made by yours truly

Friday, December 27, 2013

My Very Merry Christmas

The tree at my in-laws

Hi everyone!  I hope you all had a wonderful time with your families and friends this week.  My week was full of food and family, and I wanted to share some of my pictures with you :)
Centerpiece at my parents' Christmas table
We got my mom a Kate Spade iPhone case, so cute!
The most lovely kind of mess in the world!
Lefse is always a holiday tradition for us
Inga found a nice sunny spot to enjoy

Santa must know me very well- I received some beautiful presents this year (from both Santa and my family) including a year of dates, a ukulele (!), and lots and lots of hot chocolate :)
A year of dates!
Sparkly nail polish in my stocking this year
Home sweet home!  Two Twin Cities mugs for my hot chocolate :)

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday!  What were your favorite memories made this year?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Our tree this year

I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday that is filled with family, friends, and food!

Warmest wishes to you all, and merry Christmas!!
Painted glass ornaments
Snowflake gift toppers
Faux metal Christmas ornament

Monday, December 23, 2013

Date Nut Drop Cookies

So.... these are a failed attempt at making a Granny recipe.  I meant to make Date Nut Pinwheels, but totally messed up by adding the filling to the batter.  Instead of tossing the whole batch, I thought I'd see if they could be saved.  They could!

You will need:

  • 2 1/4 cup pitted dates, chopped up
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Combine the dates, white sugar, and water in a pot.  Cook over low heat until it is thickened.  Add the nuts, remove from the heat, and allow to cool.

Using a stand mixer, cream the shortening and brown sugar.

Add the eggs and mix well again.

And here is where I messed up.  The directions say "add remaining ingredients" which meant to add the flour, salt, and baking soda.  And if you want to make pinwheels, that is what you should do.  However, I added EVERYTHING, including the cooled mixture of dates and nuts.

Whoops!  Well, it was late at night, and I didn't read ahead in the directions.  Once I did, I quickly realized I had made a mistake.  So, the plan changed and I was making date nut drop cookies instead!  

Refrigerate the dough overnight or at least a few hours to cool thoroughly.  Then, preheat your oven to 400.  Place tablespoon sized drops of the dough on a pan lightly sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Allow to cool for a couple minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

They actually turned out pretty well!  Not as pretty, but just as tasty :)

Now, a few tips to help save baking recipes you think you've botched:
1) Ask yourself if you can still go forward with the original plan.  If you can, great!  Give it a try.  For me, my batter was way too sticky to be able to roll out, so I knew it just wouldn't work.

2) If it can't be kept like the original, see if you can come up with a couple of variations.  Maybe it would make a good crumble topping, drop cookie, or pancake?  The internet is always an option for finding ideas!

3) When you move forward with your new idea, bake with the oven light on and stay close by.  This way, you can pull cookies out before they get too crisp.

4)  Experiment with baking times, too.  If your recipe is large enough, you can try two or three sheets at different baking lengths.

5)  Don't beat yourself up!  It's really not the end of the world if it doesn't work out.  Stop by a bakery for replacements and laugh about it :)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Candy Cane Cupcakes

These are so fun :)  What I like about them, beside the fact that they're tasty, is that you can customize the peppermint amount to your personal taste!  Plus, with store-bought frosting and a box cake mix, these are totally doable!

You will need:

  • White cake mix (and the ingredients your box calls for)
  • White frosting (if you like minty desserts, you can substitute a peppermint frosting or add a few drops of peppermint oil to your white frosting)
  • Candy canes
  • Red food coloring
  • Toothpick
  • Optional: Cupcake liners
Preheat your oven and mix up your batter according to the box directions.

Fill your cupcake tin 2/3 full.

Add a drop or two of red food coloring.

Use your toothpick to swirl it around.  A surface swirl looks pretty, but if you jab the toothpick into the mix, the red food coloring will distribute throughout the cake.  Play around with this, but be careful not to swirl too much, or you'll end up with solid red cupcakes :)

Bake according to the box directions.

Allow to cool completely before adding frosting.

Then, using a ziplock bag and a rolling pin, crush up your candy canes to place on top.

Yum!  I can honestly say I ate far too many of these :)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

DIY Christmas Dog Collar Slide

Have I mentioned how much I love Christmas?  Today I've got a cute little puppy project for you to try.  To make your own, you will need:

  • Scissors
  • Green felt (dark green and kelly green)
  • Green embroidery floss
  • Red embroidery floss
  • Red plastic round beads
  • Elastic
First, cut your felt into four rectangles.  The size will depend on the size of your puppy :)

Then, cut one lighter green rectangle into a holly leaf.  This is much easier than you think!  Just cut out a quarter circle from the corners on one end.  Then, cut out half circles along the sides.  Finally, end with a curved V

Place this holly leaf over a darker green rectangle and use it as a guide so that the two are nearly identical in shape.

Then, use your embroidery floss (I separated out two strands) and do a running back stitch down the center of the felt leaves, joining the two colors together.

Continue with the same stitch around the outside of the leaf.

Repeat the process with the remaining two felt rectangles.

Next, take three of your red plastic beads and, using the red embroidery floss, stitch them onto the overlapping leaves.  This will not only add your red holly berries, but it will also join the two leaves securely together.

Finally, take your elastic and cut a piece that fits snugly around the collar.

Stitch it to itself so that it forms a loop.

Then, simply stitch it to the holly leaves.  (This part doesn't have to be pretty since no one will ever see it)

Stretch the elastic over the collar clasp and you're done!

I think Inga looks pretty cute in this :)  If I can just keep her from trying to eat it....
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