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Very Merry Indeed

Posted by casey on December 30, 2010 in Caden, Family, Home, Nieces and Nephews Oh My!

An exciting, family filled, loving, memorable Christmas was had by all and I am tired.  Am I supposed to admit that?  I think  I am still finding flour from baking in strange places too.   Pockets…socks…you know, perfectly normal right?

I remember last year’s Christmas like it just happened; there I was waddling around thinking about how the little man who was having a party inside my tummy would be partying with us the following Christmas.  Boy was I right. Party,party party!  Since the decor went up after Thanksgiving I have been so looking forward to Caden’s first Christmas.  Not looking forward to it in the sense that he would remember it etc. – because he won’t, but looking forward to having a little family of my own to celebrate with.  He may not remember his first Christmas, but we will.  Christmas is truly magical with kids around, even when they are too young to understand or grasp the whole idea.  Magical.  Fortunately we not only had Caden, but his Cousins too: Cathryn, JP and Braiden were all in town with us!

In my completely biased opinion, Caden was the perfect age for his first Christmas. Old enough to love the lights, want to torment the tree, laugh at the music (Jingle Bells in particular)and snuggle his very own Rudolph but young enough to still let us dress him in ridiculous holiday get-ups and cuddle us to sleep.  You know, the important stuff. :)

Caden was spoiled by all (and we were too) and I can honestly say he has been using every contraption (which he unwrapped like a pro) that is causing our living room to look like Toys R’ Us with the excitement of well…a kid who has new toys.  Funny how he is already bored with the old “junk”.

Dana hosted a beautiful Christmas Eve dinner complete with Cinnamon Corn Casseroleas I mentioned on the 12 Days of Treats and Eats.  Christmas Eve is where we get to spend time with my side of the family and Caden loved watching Cousin Cathryn run around.  I can already sense the trouble they will get into once he is off and really running!  I know that my Dad, Jill and Grandma thoroughly enjoyed having kiddos around at Christmas again too.  We had a real treat on Christmas Day with all the the Kazmann brothers in town!

Nonna and Pa Pa loved on our sweet boy and his cousins and showered him with all the necessary essentials a boy of ten months should have! We are so fortunate to be loved by so many and to have all of them want to love on us and Caden as well.

It is hard to believe that a baby boy who wasn’t even present Christmas was very much the center this year.  As we weaved our way through the shreds of wrapping paper of stacks of boxes we realized that our holidays have forever changed and even with the impossible to get out of the box toys (we aren’t talking silly twist ties anymore people) we are grateful for all of our family and friends who made this Christmas so wonderful!

Now…if only I could find my way to the bed without stepping on a block or a car or a cookie monster doll or a….I think you get the idea.

 
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12 Days of Christmas Treats & Eats – Day 12 – Gingerbread Man Army

Posted by casey on December 29, 2010 in In The Kitchen, Sweet Treats, Uncategorized

It has come to my attention that I never posted the Day 12 Recipe…woopsy daisies! I blame my flour covered hands and the consumption of too much sugar for causing me to write the recipe and post but never hit publish. So, in case you are now getting hungry again after a few days of post-holiday recovery, the last recipe of the 12 Days of Christmas Treats & Eats!

On the the twelth day of Christmas Treats & Eats, my mess of a kitchen gave to me….
Gingerbread Men, Ruby Jewel Cookies, Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Icing, Festive Oatmeal, Perfect Kahlua Fudge, Pecan Pie to Die For, Grown Up Hot Cocoa, Cinnamon Corn Casserole, Gingersnap Cherry Cheesecake, Candied Pecans, Snowtop Cookies and Peppermint Pretzel Baaaarrrrrkkkk !!!!!

We did it, we did it! We made it to Day 12 and despite the sugar coma we are still alive! Hip Hip Hooray! Maybe that is the sugar talking.  For the last day of the 12 Days of Christmas Treats & Eats I thought an adorable classic was fitting and if you need they will probably guard your house for you while you are sleeping – or try to eat you.  Whatever right?

Gingerbread Men
1 cup unsalted butter at room temp
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
1 large egg
5 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon ground ginger

1. Cream the butter on high speed until fluffy. Add in the brown sugar and regular sugar and beat until the mixture feels smooth when rubbed between your fingers. (As in, not super gritty)

2. Turn your mixer to low and gradually beat in the molasses.  Once incorporated, add the eggs and beat until completely blended.

3. Sift the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt together in a separate bowl.  Slowly add this dry mixture to the molasses/sugar/butter concoction you have whipped up in your mixer’s bowl.  Mix it in with a spoon or on low speed until blended.

4. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions, flatten into round discs and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours (Or you can keep them in the fridge for up to 2 days prior to baking)

5. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  You either need to line your baking sheets with parchment paper (my personal  preference) or lightly grease them.

6. Roll out your dough on a floured surface, cut them out using your gingerbread man cutter of choice, transfer to the prepared cookie sheets and bake for 6 minutes. Wam – bam, a gingerbread man army!

Why an army you ask?  Because well…this recipe makes 2 to 5 dozen gingerbread men depending on your cutter size.  My guess is you have to have a lifesize cutter for it to be 2 dozen because my 3 1/2 inch tall cookie cutter produced exactly 60 gingerbread men.  So many gingers that the tray full of iced little men creeped my husband out.

Oh yes…the icing.  Once cooled, whip up any batch of royal icing that you like and decorate those men!

 
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12 Days of Christmas Treats & Eats – Day 11 – Ruby Jewels

Posted by casey on December 24, 2010 in In The Kitchen, Sweet Treats

On the eleventh day of Christmas Treats & Eats, my mess of a kitchen gave to me….
Ruby Jewel Cookies, Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Icing, Festive Oatmeal, Perfect Kahlua Fudge, Pecan Pie to Die For, Grown Up Hot Cocoa, Cinnamon Corn Casserole, Gingersnap Cherry Cheesecake, Candied Pecans, Snowtop Cookies and Peppermint Pretzel Baaaarrrrrkkkk !!!!!

I mean come on, who doesn’t like rubies and jewels right? Who is with me?  Fine, I’ll proceed with a recipe perfect for a party and too tempting to keep popping in your mouth!

Ruby Jewel Cookies
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup cold, unsalted butter cut into small pieces
1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam
powdered sugar for dusting
mini paper muffin cups

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line mini muffin pans (2) with the muffin cup liners.

2. Whisk the egg yolks and vanilla together and set aside in a small bowl.

3. Combine the flour and sugar and mix to blend.  While the machine is still running, add your butter pieces 2 or 3 at a time and mix until the mixture looks crumbly.

4. With the machine still running, add the egg yolk mixture and blend until the dough starts to stick and well, actually look like dough.

5. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for one hour.

6. Roll the chilled dough into 2 cm balls and place in the muffin cups.  Use the end of a wooden spoon to make a large indention in each ball.

7. Put the jam in a sandwich ziploc bag and cut a small hole off one of the bottom corners.  Squeeze the jam out of the whole and into the indention of each cookie dough ball.

8. Bake approx 15 minutes (20 maybe) until the edges are golden.  Let them cool completely before eating or that jam will stick to your gums and scorch them, Ouch!

Mmmmmm rubies and jewels!
Need another cookie idea? Look at some of last year’s!

Original Recipe from Williams Sonoma Cookies

 
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Team Player? I Think Not.

Posted by casey on December 22, 2010 in Caden, Snapshots

Caden isn’t being a team-player.
He is sad you see.
Sad that Mommy & Daddy are going to the Cottonbowl without him.
Heartbroken that while we will be in a suite at Jerry World, he will be sleeping.
He feels left out.  Poor thing…so deprived.
The only redeemable factor in his eyes?
He gets to be with his Nonna & Pa Pa. (And Auntie Meghan and Uncle Asher!)

One day son. One day. Your time will come.

 
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12 Days of Christmas Treats & Eats – Day 10 – Gingerbread Cupcakes

Posted by casey on December 22, 2010 in In The Kitchen, Sweet Treats

On the tenth day of Christmas Treats & Eats, my mess of a kitchen gave to me….
Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Icing, Festive Oatmeal, Perfect Kahlua Fudge, Pecan Pie to Die For, Grown Up Hot Cocoa, Cinnamon Corn Casserole, Gingersnap Cherry Cheesecake, Candied Pecans, Snowtop Cookies and Peppermint Pretzel Baaaarrrrrkkkk !!!!!

If you haven’t come across Tasty Kitchen before, maybe you were introduced when I mentioned it on a recipe a few days ago.  I have found several recipes from appetizers to side dishes and beyond all which have been successful thus far.  We can add this recipe from Tasty Kitchen to the top of the successful list. (I think you will like it too!)  Seasonal? You bet. Pretty? Yes.  Oh…and they are delicious too!

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Cupcake Ingredients

  • ¼ cups Butter, Softened
  • ½ cups Sugar
  • 1-½ cup All-purpose Flour
  • ½ cups Water
  • ⅓ cups Molasses
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ¾ teaspoons Cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoons Ginger
  • ¼ teaspoons Nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoons Cloves
  • _____

FROSTING Ingredients

  • 1 stick Butter, Softened
  • 2 packages (8 Oz. Each) Cream Cheese, Softened
  • 2 pounds Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
    (I used half of this recipe and it made PLENTY of frosting for the 12 cupcakes. Plenty.)

1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees  and prepare 12-count cupcake pan with paper liners. (You always have the option of spraying the cups with cooking spray and not using liners but why?)

2. Cream together your softened butter and sugar. Add in flour, water, and molasses. Mix well until combined.

3. Nexy, add into the bowl your egg, baking soda, and spices. Continue to mix until just combined.

4. Using a large cookie scoop or measuring cup, evenly fill your cupcake pan.

5. Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean or with just a few crumbs. Let cool completely before frosting. Makes 12 cupcakes.

For the frosting:

Cream butter and cream cheese together with an electric mixer until well combined. Gradually add in the sugar until fully incorporated. Finally mix in cinnamon and vanilla.

(Oh and by the way, my house is filled with the sweet aroma of the cookies I just baked for day 11. Mmmmmm)

 
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12 Days of Christmas Treats & Eats – Day 9 – Sweet Festive Start Oatmeal

Posted by casey on December 21, 2010 in In The Kitchen, Most Important Meal of the Day, Sweet Treats

On the ninth day of Christmas Treats & Eats, my mess of a kitchen gave to me….
Festive Oatmeal, Perfect Kahlua Fudge, Pecan Pie to Die For, Grown Up Hot Cocoa, Cinnamon Corn Casserole, Gingersnap Cherry Cheesecake, Candied Pecans, Snowtop Cookies and Peppermint Pretzel Baaaarrrrrkkkk !!!!!

I realized that you might not be in charge of bringing dessert this year and maybe you are frantically trying to find something festive to serve for a Christmas morning breakfast that is adorned with shreds of wrapping paper and new toys being rolled about the house.  I have several options for you.  Some being those that I have shared in the past like my Saturday Scones, Weekend Waffles or Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake.  Today’s addition though is quite comforting for a cozy holiday morning, and nourishing too!

Festive Spiced Oatmeal
(recipe for one bowl)
Oats (You can Used “Quick” Oats or the Old Fashioned Kind)
1/2 Fuji Apple (Or Apple of Your Choice – Just Make Sure it is A Sweet One)
Pomegranate
1 1/2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon sugar

1. Peel and core your apple.  Then cut it into bite sized chunks.  I think you need at least 1/2 of the apple in one bowl of oatmeal but feel free to use an entire apple for each bowl!

2. Cut your pomegranate and begin removing the seeds.  If you have never done this I suggest looking on YouTube or the “POM” site for easier directions.  Yes…those little red corn looking things are the pomegranate seeds and yes that is what you will be eating.  I think 1/4 cup of seeds is appropriate for this bowl.

3. Cook your oatmeal to the specified directions.

4. While it is cooking place your apples in the bottom of a soup bowl.  Sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon sugar on top.

5. Dump the hot oatmeal over your apples and stir until thoroughly mixed.  If you like your oatmeal very sweet just tack on some extra brown sugar.  A sort of “season to taste” recipe.

6. Sprinkle the pomegranate seeds on top and there you have it, festive spiced and fresh oatmeal!

(The pomegranate seeds can really dress up any morning sweet especially for Christmas.  Consider throwing them on top of the Weekend Waffles with some butterscotch chips, os adding them to the icing drizzle on the Saturday Scones)

 
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12 Days of Christmas Treats & Eats – Day 8 – Candy Addition

Posted by casey on December 20, 2010 in In The Kitchen, Sweet Treats

On the eighth day of Christmas Treats & Eats, my mess of a kitchen gave to me….
Perfect Kahlua Fudge, Pecan Pie to Die For, Grown Up Hot Cocoa, Cinnamon Corn Casserole, Gingersnap Cherry Cheesecake, Candied Pecans, Snowtop Cookies and Peppermint Pretzel Baaaarrrrrkkkk !!!!!

Last year I shared in my little secret of Christmas Candy with you.  I gave you some of my traditions such as peanut clusters, chocolate covered pretzels and puppy chow that get made each year.  While those have already been made for this season, I thought it was time that I show you another holiday candy treat that is always made and handed out for everyone to enjoy. You see, I really owe it all to Brianne.  I was thirteen and somehow or another we ended up at her Aunt’s house and her Aunt had just made some Kahlua Fudge.  Maybe it was the booze (L) ) but from then on I was hooked and it became a holiday staple in our house.

Kahlua Fudge
1 1/3 cups sugar
1- 7oz jar marshmallow cream
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup Kahlua
1/4 cup butter
_____________
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

1. Line a 9 X 13 inch baking dish with foil so that it goes up the sides as well.

2. Cook the first five ingredients (sugar, marshmallow cream, evap. milk, butter & Kahlua) in a saucepan over medium heat stirring constantly. (Don’t cheat…get that forearm workout and keet stirring).

3. Stir constantly until you bring the ingredients to a boil.  Continue stirring at a full boil for 5 minutes. (Don’t cheat again – five minutes, watch you clock.)

4. Remove the pan from the heat and add in the last four ingredients (both chocolates, walnuts and vanilla).  Stir until melted throughout and completely combined. (The walnuts might make it look as though the chocolate chips aren’t melted so keep stirring until it is smooth.  The chocolate chips will be bigger than the walnuts and more obvious until they are melted.)

5. Pour into your foil lined pan and refrigerate until hard!

This fudge is best served cold.  Yes, it can sit out cut into squares from your dish at a party but I would put a small amount out and replenish from your refrigerator stash so that is is nice and cold and firm.  Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container!

Don’t forget to add to your Christmas Candy with last year’s recipes here and this year’s Peppermint Bark.

 
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12 Days of Christmas Treats & Eats – Day 7 – Pecan Pie

Posted by casey on December 19, 2010 in In The Kitchen, Sweet Treats

On the seventh day of Christmas Treats & Eats, my mess of a kitchen gave to me….
Pecan Pie to Die For, Grown Up Hot Cocoa, Cinnamon Corn Casserole, Gingersnap Cherry Cheesecake, Candied Pecans, Snowtop Cookies and Peppermint Pretzel Baaaarrrrrkkkk !!!!!

Last year around the holidays, I introduced you to a favorite recipe of mine I like to call “Pie in a Bar“.  Not because you take pies into a bar persay…although I suppose you could but because it is a Pecan Pie Bar dessert.  So instead of having an actual pie, you have it in a bar form.  I feel as though I am rambling or explaining the obvious.  Regardless, this year I am bringing you the actual pie – no bar.  I am quite partial to Pioneer Woman’s pecan pie recipe which I will so gladly share with you on our seventh day of sweets overload!

  • 1 whole Unbaked Pie Crust ( You can use my apple pie crust or “sylvia’s Perfect Pie Crust” recipe if you don’t have your own)
  • 1 cup White Sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • 1 cup Corn Syrup
  • ¾ teaspoons Vanilla
  • ⅓ cups Melted Butter
  • 3 whole Eggs Beaten
  • 1 cup  Chopped Pecans ( I like to overload the pecans)

1. First make your pie crust of choice.  If you don’t have one there are links to two different pie crusts above.  One is the crust I use for my apple pie and the other one is found on Tasty Kitchen and is perfect for pecan pie.  Place your crust into a plain on circular baking dish and scallop the edges as you please.

2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

3.  Mix together your sugar, brown sugar, salt, corn syrup, butter, eggs, and vanilla together in a bowl.

4. Finely chop all of your pecans.  Yes…chop them.  This isn’t one of those pecan pies where you will see all the pecan halves on top.  Chopping them distributed them much more evenly and allows you to cut your pie into clean slices! Pour chopped pecans in the bottom of the unbaked pie shell.

5. Pour syrup mixture over the top of your pecans. You will see the pecans float to the top in a moment so don’t think that your pecans will be throughout the filling. Relax. :)

6. Cover the top of your pie and crust lightly with foil.

7. Bake pie at 350º for 30 minutes. Remove foil, then continue baking for 20 minutes, being careful not to burn the crust or pecans.

NOTE FROM PIONEER WOMAN: PIE SHOULD NOT BE OVERLY JIGGLY WHEN YOU REMOVE IT FROM THE OVEN. If it shakes a lot, cover with foil and bake for an additional 20 minute or until set. Required baking time seems to vary widely with this recipe. Sometimes it takes 50 minutes; sometimes it takes 75!
(I had to bake it quite a bit longer myself…seems to depend on the oven)

You can make this the night before but if you make it the day of it will need to cool in the pan and then in the refrigerator for several hours before you serve it! So whether it is Pie in a Bar or pecan pie, make it part of your holiday dessert selections this Christmas!

 
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12 Days of Christmas Treats & Eats – Day 6 – Grown Up Cocoa

Posted by casey on December 18, 2010 in In The Kitchen, Sweet Treats

On the sixth day of Christmas Treats & Eats, my mess of a kitchen gave to me….
Grown Up Hot Cocoa, Cinnamon Corn Casserole, Gingersnap Cherry Cheesecake, Candied Pecans, Snowtop Cookies and Peppermint Pretzel Baaaarrrrrkkkk !!!!!

Shout out to the husband on our grown up cocoa concoction and pat on the back to myself for the delicious garnishes.  A comforting after dinner drink/dessert that will make you want to snuggle up to the fire each night and sip away.

Grown Up Hot Cocoa
One Steaming Mug of Cocoa
3 Tbsp Bailey’s
3 Tbsp Kahlua

Garnishes:
– Large Toasted Marshmallows
– Fresh Whipped Cream
– Candy Cane Dipped in Chocolate

1. Prior to brewing up your cocoa, I would prepare your garnishes.  You can obviously toast some marshmallows over a fire OR you can do just as good of a job with a shiskabob skewer over your gas stove. You might consider spearing them with a toothpick for easy eating out of the cup if you don’t want to drink it with them inside.

 As for the candy canes, you can melt baking chocolate squares (white, milk chocolate or dark) or use the candy melts like used for the peppermint bark.  Just dip the end of (stem end) your candy cane in the chocolate and let it harden. These serve as festive stirrers for your cocoa and leave behind just a hint of peppermint flavor.

2. Brew your cocoa, measure and pour in your liqueurs (or just use the whole bottle if you have had bad enough of a day), stir it up and then garnish to your tasting!

For a party I would set out your garnishes in separate dishes and make a sort of “cocoa bar”! Drink up and enjoy!

 
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12 Days of Christmas Treats & Eats Day 5 – Cinnamon Corn Casserole

Posted by casey on December 17, 2010 in In The Kitchen, Snacks and Sides

On the fifth day of Christmas Treats & Eats, my mess of a kitchen gave to me….
Cinnamon Corn Casserole, Gingersnap Cherry Cheesecake, Candied Pecans, Snowtop Cookies and Peppermint Pretzel Baaaarrrrrkkkk !!!!!

I know what you are thinking already. Cinnamon and…and…and….corn?  In a casserole?  There must be a typo.

Alas, there is no typo and I once again, am asking for your trust.  Want to know a little secret?  I had the EXACT same reaction.  It was about twelve years ago and we were sitting at my Aunt’s dining room table for the first Christmas Eve dinner she had ever cooked for us.  You may not think that is strange, but we loved this Aunt because at the time her specialties included taking us to Dave & Busters and microwaving turkey bacon.  So when she wanted to cook us a Christmas Eve dinner she was as nervous as us and then there it was…cinnamon corn casserole.  We thought she had mixed up her dessert and side dish recipe. Nope!  This sweet side has become a staple at our holiday meals ever since as has her masterfully cooking a huge Christmas Eve feast every year.  She may be far from her microwaving turkey bacon days and has become quite the Martha Stewart, this recipe though has stuck around and is always a pleasant surprise to newcomers at the table.

Cinnamon Corn Casserole

2 cans whole kernel corn, drained well
1 stick butter
½ cup sugar
1 Tablespoon and ½ teaspoon flour
½ cup evaporated milk
2 eggs well beaten
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder 

 1. Heat your butter and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until melted.

 2. Stir in flour and whisk until blended.

 3. Remove the pan from heat, stir in evaporated milk, add eggs, baking powder and blend. (Make sure you do the evaporated milk first so you cool the mixture and don’t end up cooking the eggs!)

 4. Stir in corn.

 5. Pour into greased 13 X 9 dish.

 6. Sprinkle the top thoroughly with cinnamon sugar.

7. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour

A few tips: This is best served fresh and hot and remember, the top isn’t burnt, that is the cinnamon sugar!

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