Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy Birthday



The photos above are from the past six years that the hubs and I have been together. Happy Birthday J and I hope you know how much I love you!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

While I was out

Hey sweet bloggers! I am at my parents writing this post with my left foot propped and taped up. I went to deliver some Christmas goodies to a few neighbors this afternoon and had a little slip. I was hoping to take care of my bagged goodies before everyone was busy with Christmas gatherings. No one was at the last house, so I left the bag on their porch, and as I turned to leave I slipped on some leaves and fell back (and down) six concrete stairs.

I started laughing as I am sure it was hysterical to watch. My gladiator sandal (dang things have no stability) broke, my tush took a lot of the fall, but more than anything I can't figure out what happened to my left foot/toe that is throbbing in pain. Once I grabbed my sandals (and what was left of my dignity) I hobbled back over to my house to cry and assess the damage. Even when adults get hurt they want someone to ask if they are okay and see what they need. So I called the spouse in between tears and laughter telling him the story and that my foot really hurt. I hate to say it, but it totally took the cheer our of my holiday mood. (Dang those stairs!)

So here I am. Grouchy, and trying to muster a little bit of my hurt pride to give you a great holiday recipe. I cannot take credit for this one as it happens to be from a fellow blogger who graduated from Auburn a few years before me. If you have never read Darby's blog at Fly Throught Our Window I suggest popping on over. She's hysterical, crafty, and has the cutest little children I have ever seen!

::Honey Butter::
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup honey
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Soften butter and mix all ingredients in an electric mixer. It tastes amazing on big fluffy buttermilk biscuits or your wheat toast in the morning. This needs to be refridgerated, because it is butter, but you can totally dress it up to give as gifts during the holiday season.

I doubled the recipe and bought a pack of four medium mason jars from Target at $4.00. I had some leftover red and white polka dot fabric that I cut in squares and used some jute string that I keep on hand for projects like this. Super easy and sooooo delicious that I can guarantee you will have a hard time not trying to eat it out of their containers. Th eprecious gift tags were purchased from my friend Jessica at Empress Stationery... love them to pieces I almost wanted to save them!

Only a few more days 'til Christmas ladies!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Baking Frenzy

Hey ladies! As I mentioned in my last post I have been in a frenzy. I posted up in my kitchen on Saturday making rounds of toffee, bourbon balls, crinkle cookies, and fudge. I listened to my huge stack of Christmas music, drank cups of coffee, and baked/ate to my hearts content.
One of my favorite things to do around the holidays is making treats for others to enjoy. I love it that so many of my blogging friends do homemade gifts too. Getting my treat bags together is definitely a labor of love, but I have found a few traditional one's that bring back fond memories to those I give it to. One of the newest recipes I have tried is from my Nana, which is why I am calling this treat Nana's Bourbon Balls. I don't remember her making these growing up, but that could be that my parents never let me try one because it had bourbon in it. I suppose since these little delights are not cooked the alcohol would still be in it; good call mom and dad, but there's not enough to get anyone tipsy off a cookie (wouldn't that be funny!)
 Me prior to baking... I realize I am not in very many pictures so the self-portrait off the bathroom mirror will do. I did not intend for my shirt and apron to match, haha!
 ::Nana's Bourbon Balls::
Easy peasy recipe and if you use a bourbon like Crown Royal it smells amazing!

2 Cups powdered sugar
2½ Cups crushed vanilla wafers
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Cup chopped pecans
3 Tbsp corn syrup
¼ Cup Bourbon

Spread 1Cup sugar on square pieces of waxed paper. Combine remaining sugar, wafer crumbs, cocoa, pecans in a small bowl. It's okay if you have some medium wafer chunks as you may get bored of hitting with a kitchen hammer like I did.

Stir in corn syrup and bourbon. Knead until holds together. (may be a little sticky, but it's okay)

Roll 1Tbsp at a time into balls. Roll into sugar on waxed paper to coat and dry.
Refrigerate several days to mellow flavor of bourbon (or do like I do and wait an hour because you have zero self control when it comes to sweets and dive right on in). Reroll (or sift) in sugar before serving if desired. Makes 2 pounds. Sorry there's no "after" picture. I had to place them in a sealed container quickly and hide because of exhibit 1...
And exhibit 2...
Two of my three brothers came to stay with me this weekend. I know they love hanging out with me because I am loads of fun (insert laugh here), but I have a hunch it's because they knew I was baking, offered to take them to dinner, and they love our dog. I will mention that they are more eager to try anything I offer than the hubs. I say this because their metabolism still works and they have not learned what happens to sweets and fast food when you are out of college. (Just saying, enjoy it while you can boys!)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tis the Season to eat sweets

Fa la la la la La la La la! Hi sweet bloggers! I hope you had a wonderful weekend finishing up holiday shopping and wrapping, traveling to Christmas parties, looking at Christmas lights, and who knows what else.
J has been out of town this weekend hunting with his dad which means I have been busy in my kitchen and perfected my toffee recipe. Believe me when I say a few burnt batches and some very chewy one's have hit the bottom of my trash can in order to present this recipe to you!

::English Toffee::
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 package semisweet chocolate morsels
Lightly spray rimmed baking sheet. In a medium sauce pan combine, sugar, butter, water, and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over med/low heat stirring until sugar is dissolved. Cook, without stirring until mixture is golden brown and reaches 305 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Pour mixture onto prepared pan. Spread evenly with heat proof utensil. Wait a few minutes then sprinkle chocolate chips over mixture. Wait two minutes until you see the chocolate melting and being to spread over the hardening toffee. The chocolate will being to spread evenly and smooth to cover the entire batch. Sprinkle crushed pecans over chocolate if desired. Let cool for 2 hours at room temperature then place in fridge for 30 minutes. The cool environment will help when you go to break toffee.
The best part about this recipe is while it's rising to 310 degrees or cooling you are able to work on something else! I love this recipe and my siblings are beginning to expect this treat each holiday season!
I would stay and share more with you, but I am looking forward to some quality time with the hubs and enjoy the fire he just built.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bird Sighting: For the Holidays

Seasons Greetings and a little more from the Bird Sighting! I thought these bird holiday items were awesome and seriously think I may get the bird wrapping paper next year. Do you like uniform wrapping or all mixed up? Hmmmm may have to stew on that one for a bit.

Natural Owl Bird Ornaments  {via}

Blue Bird Ornament {via}

Christmas Wrapping Paper 1 {via}
Christmas Wrapping Paper 2 {via}

Holiday Bird Card 1 {via}

Holiday Bird Card 2 {via}

I wish I could post more on my toffee recipes, but the last couple of batches have not turned out as planned. Candy thermometer or not, I have burned the bottom of my medium sauce pan trying to get the toffee to 310 degrees. This recipe requires patience and thankfully Jonathan says he loves the "smoked toffee flavor". Hate to break it to everyone, but the burnt taste only came so naturually with that batch. (teee heee)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

If I were a Wreath?

Hi sweet ladies! I hope you are having a great day and actually reading this post since my last one was fairly lengthy. Bless those who read all the way through! I was looking for some wreath inspirations and found some amazing finds. I hope you enjoy the pictures... and if you were a wreath which one would you be?

Leafy Wreath #1
Sweet Wreath #2

Breaking the Mold Wreath #3

Bubble Wreath #4

Natural Wreath #5
 Kiss Me Red Wreath #6

Glitz & Glam Wreath #7

Bowutiful Wreath #8
Happy picking!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Some Bark for your Birthday

Ho Ho Ho!!! I have felt like one of Santa’s helpers with as busy as I have been the past week. I have been raking tons of leaves and my four legged-friend was not very helpful as he crashed through each pile I made. (Thank you Dax)

Our Angel Tree Child’s gifts were due December 5th, which I thought was sooooo early compared to the past few years. Needless to say we had fun picking out sports books, toys, and clothes for our church Angel. I am going to confess an emotional moment I had this weekend. When I dropped off the packages at our church on Saturday I started crying as I walked out to the car. I was just so happy to think a little boy we sponsored will have a nice Christmas and how giving to those in need is what this time of year is all about. Sometimes it's hard to not get all wrapped up in your own gift giving, traveling, family events, and office parties when poverty, hunger, and the wintry cold do not cease for those less fortunate. I cried for a few minutes, said a small prayer, and got myself together while listening to Christmas songs on the radio. Please tell me I am not the only person who will get really emotional like that and sorta have a moment? (Sigh)

Tonight, we are finally decorating our Christmas tree. This is the fun part, where Jonathan and I drink White Russians, listen to Christmas carols, and have Elf on mute in the background. It’s a tradition we have created ever since we got married and it’s a blast!!
Lastly, I have to share my first treat of the season, which is a Chocolate Bark Recipe I made with my mom this weekend. It was her Birthday and what a better way to spend time together than making sweets for the holidays! I am making this recipe again because you only need four ingredients, a microwave, and a hammer :) (The above picture is us singing to her and laughing because I think the whole family is tone deaf except for her!)

The Chocolate Bark recipe is so easy! First, lightly spray a flat cookie sheet. Then melt your semi-sweet chocolate morsels in the microwave. Keep an eye on these because you do not want the chocolate to burn in the hot bowl. Once melted spread evenly on the sheet and let cool a few minutes.

 I know I said use a flat sheet, because we had a lot of trouble getting ours out of this pan. (FYI) Now, melt your Andes (or white chocolate mint morsels) in another bowl. We added another half bag of white chocolate morsels because we love it! Once heated add this layer to the top of the chocolate layer. Be careful because the chocolate may show through and smear if it's still warm.
Once the second layer has been applied we decided to make it a little more festive. We took the remaining half bag of white chocolate, melted it, and made stripes. (It looked a little to Pepto pink for our tastes)
I took the end of a spoon and made lines through the chocolate going back and forth down length of the pan. It makes this great swirl effect for the top layer. (Don't press too hard because your brown chocolate layer will come through). Finally, crush the soft peppermint sticks (this is where the hammer is helpful) and sprinkle over the warm chocolate.

Once this has cooled over a few hours (can be placed in fridge) begin to break the Bark apart! Voila... delish sweets your neighbors and friends will love. A special thanks to my mom for doing all the work, messing up her kitchen, dishes, and letting me take pictures (as well as add commentary). She's the best!