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Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

If you woke up this morning and suddenly realized today is Christmas Eve and you’ve not started your shopping, here are a few last minute gift ideas.

gift-cardGo for a gift card to their favorite store. Don’t know their favorite store? Try one to a nice restaurant, to the movie theater, where they buy coffee or get their hair done.

wine-bottle-caddy

Bottle of beverage. If they don’t drink alcohol, go for a nice bottle of sparkling cider (emphasis on nice – do not buy the $3 bottle of stuff, get a bottle of real sparkling cider). If they hate cider, put together a basket with mugs, hot chocolate mix and marshmallows.

basket of fruitsPut together a basket of their favorites foods – are they into jerky? Love fine chocolates? Healthy eater who likes fruit?

Single green book

If they like to read, get them a book by their favorite author – or a similar author. If you don’t know what types of books they like to read, get a gift certificate to a book store or a retail outlet like Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

coupon
Make up a booklet of coupons redeemable for fun items like a free coffee, an hour of house cleaning, etc.

If you know their hobbies, go to a locally owned store and purchase something that goes along with it. For example, if they love to knit, go to the local yarn shop and buy some of the latest yarns.

Good luck with your last minute flurry of gift buying!

She Who Is Glad to be Done Shopping!

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red velvet pancakes

If you are looking for some great last-minute recipe ideas and resources, here are a few links you’ll want to check out.

Betty Crocker  – where you can find everything from brunch ideas to munchies for gifting. Considering my current obsession with all things red velvet, these pancakes are calling my name!

Taste of Home – great recipes, easy to follow instructions and simple to find ingredients.

cheeesecake

I mean, just look at these cheesecake. How fun is this?

Pillsbury – good place to go for appetizer recipes. I’m not sure I’ve made it though a party without opening at least one tube of crescent roll dough and wrapping it around some meat or cheese filling.

Tasty Kitchen – also a great place for a wide variety of fantastic recipes!

Whatever you decide to make for the upcoming holiday celebrations, I hope it is tasty, wonderful and well-received. Happy Baking and Cooking!

She Who Needs to Get Crackin’ with Her Holiday Menu

25 days 2011

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placemat front

The other day Captain Cavedweller came home with this pad of vintage printed paper placemats and handed them to me with a “thought you might like these.”

placemats back

Like them?

There are six designs and I love them all!

The question now is what to do with the placemats. I could use them as, well, placemats but that hardly seems like a fun or creative way to use these beauties.

I could frame them, laminate them, make a decoupage box out of them.

What I’d really like, though, is to hear your ideas!

What would you do with them?

She Who Anxiously Awaits Some Ideas

25 days 2011

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coconut cake plated

I love coconut. It is right up there behind chocolate and raspberries.

The deliciously delightful thing about this cake is that I get my coconut fix along with raspberries. I could even work some chocolate in there, but I managed to restrain myself. Barely.

This recipe is fast and easy to put together and always gets rave reviews. Moist and super good, it is the perfect way to end a holiday meal or as an accent at a buffet.

coconut cake ingredients

Ingredients

coconut cake pour in pans

Once you’ve mixed up the cake batter, pour into three 8-inch pans that have been greased.

When the cake is cool, begin layering it with jam and whipping cream.

When the cake is cool, begin layering it with jam and whipping cream.

Add layers until they look like this. If your cake isn't perfectly flat, no worries. Just add extra whipping cream to even it out.

Add layers until they look like this. If your cake isn’t perfectly flat, no worries. Just add extra whipping cream to even it out.

 

Cover the entire cake with whipping cream. At this point, I freeze the cake until I'm ready to serve. Even if you are making it the same day you want to serve, at least give it time to get thoroughly chilled in the fridge. Serving it cold is part of what makes it so good.

Cover the entire cake with whipping cream. At this point, I freeze the cake until I’m ready to serve. Even if you are making it the same day you want to serve, at least give it time to get thoroughly chilled in the fridge. Serving it cold is part of what makes it so good.

 

Smother the cake in shredded, sweetened coconut.

Smother the cake in shredded, sweetened coconut.

 

If you want you can add a mint garnish.

Add raspberries on top.
Add raspberries on top.
Ta-Da!

Ta-Da!

Coconut Cake

1 white or vanilla cake mix

3 eggs

1/2 cup oil

1 1/3 cups water

3 cups of freshly whipped whipping cream

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup raspberry jam

14 ounce bag of shredded, sweetened coconut

fresh raspberries

mint for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix cake mix, eggs, oil and water, following cake mix package directions. Pour into three 8-inch cake pans that have been greased (or sprayed with non-stick spray). Try to get the layers as even as possible.

Bake until cake bounces back when touched lightly or toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (about 18 minutes or so).

Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Whip whipping cream until stiff. Add in vanilla and powdered sugar. Stir in gently.

Place first layer of cake on a cake stand or serving platter. Spread a thick layer of whipping cream then a nice layer of jam. Repeat with the second layer then top with the third. Generously cover the entire cake with the whipping cream.

Freeze the cake until ready to serve. This is particularly handy because you can freeze it well ahead of time. When you are ready to serve the cake, remove it from freezer with enough time for it to thaw (an hour – or get out the night before and leave in the fridge).

Generously place coconut all over the cake. When buying the coconut, give the packages a little squeeze. You want the coconut to be really soft and fresh. This is really important. Do not use dried-out coconut. You want it to feel moist when you take it out of the package.

Once the cake is completely covered, top it with raspberries and a garnish of mint. Be prepared for rave reviews!

She Who Loves This Cake Way Too Much!

 

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During the holidays I like to fill my home with scents that accent the season.

From candles to soaps, it is all about making this cozy and inviting. Some of my favorite products come from Bath & Body Works and Yankee Candle.

winter spice soapWinter Spice Vanilla  from Bath & Body Works is a great soap scent for the kitchen. Warm and soft and wonderful.

candy cane bliss soap

Another good choice would be  Candy Cane Bliss.

holly berry wreath

For the bathrooms, I like Holly Berry Wreath.

vanilla bean noel

Vanilla Bean Noel is a great lotion choice to have on hand for guests to use because it has a light, warm fragrance that isn’t overpowering, yet still offers a hint of holiday cheer.

spice candle

One of my favorite, favorite candle fragrances is Spice from Bath & Body Works. It makes me nostalgic and wistful.

red berry candle

I also love Red Berry & Cedar from Yankee Candle.

home for holidays candleHome for the Holidays is a scent that makes you think of Christmas Eve at Grandma’s house. Old-fashioned and delightfully wonderful.

 

pomegranate cider

Pomegranate Cider is a fresh and updated scent that still has a lingering hint of Christmas past.

cinnamon twist

And my latest find from Yankee Candle is their room fragrance twists that smell divine. The Sparkling Cinnamon was my first choice!

However you decide to scent your home for the holidays, remember to stick with one main (and predominant) scent or your house will smell like a batch of potpourri gone bad. Look at the description of your scent and find the strongest scent then look for scents that accent that, not compete with it. Or just go with the same scent throughout your home.

She Who Loves the Scents of Christmas

25 days 2011

 

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PENTAX Image

When we were in Las Vegas a couple weeks ago, we made time to visit Ethel M. ® Chocolates.

About 15 minutes south of the Strip, the facility is owned by Mars, Inc., the people that Make M&Ms® and other yummy treats yours truly should stay far away from.

The Mars tradition of candy making began in 1911 in the kitchen of Frank and Ethel Mars home in Tacoma, Washington. Their son, Forrest Mars. Sr.,  retired to Henderson, Nevada in 1981 and created Ethel M.® Chocolates to honor his mother by creating a line of gourmet chocolate candies that reminded him of how he learned about quality chocolate making. Ethel M.® Chocolates are sold in various locations throughout Las Vegas, and via the web at www.ethelm.com.

The factory is still located at its original location at Two Cactus Garden Drive in Henderson, where gourmet chocolate gifts are made from Ethel Mars’ original recipes. Captain Cavedweller and I were completely enthralled with the pecan brittle. It was beyond wonderful.

Guests to the factory can take a self-guided tour and also stroll through the cactus garden. At night, the garden comes alive with hundreds of lights and decorations artfully placed along the three acres of beautiful and rare plants.

Although we went during the day, we did have fun checking out the garden.

PENTAX Image

PENTAX Image

PENTAX Image

PENTAX Image

PENTAX Image

She Who Enjoyed Seeing the Exotic and Interesting Plants – and Sampling the Chocolate!

25 days 2011

 

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This weekend, I finally got around to baking sugar cookies.

I was pretty sure one of us was going to founder on them and it wasn’t me.

Despite the fact Captain Cavedweller isn’t a big sweet eater, there are a few treats that he can’t pass up.

Sugar Cookies are definitely on the short list.

https://entertainingmadesimple.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/ta-da.gif

Here is the recipe. These take a little time and effort but it is well worth it!

Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

dash of lemon juice

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

2 1/2 cups flour

Frosting

Cream together butter and sugars. Add in eggs, vanilla and lemon juice. Mix dry ingredients together and gradually add into creamed mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour (or overnight).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Generously flour a flat surface and your rolling pin. Scoop out half the dough and roll until about 1/4 inch thick. You want to work fairly quickly at this point because the warmer the dough gets the stickier it becomes and you don’t want to add more flour. Cut into shapes and bake about 6-8 minutes or until cookies are just set. You do not want them to get brown at all. Cool in pan for one minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely. Frost and decorate then watch them disappear.

You can use a royal icing if you are of a mind to stir up a batch or, if you are a lazy slug like me, I whip out a can of Betty Crocker vanilla frosting and frost away. I also like to use decorator gels, especially the sparkly variety, along with sprinkles!

Here are a few links to some of our other favorites!

Gingerbread Bars

Nut Goodie Bars

Pumpkin Roll

Seven-Layer Bars

25 days 2011

 

 

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