Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How to make an inexpensive, easy and beautiful Thanksgiving Centerpiece

If you are spending most of your time today cooking away trying to prepare for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, you probably don't even have time to think about decorating the table.
I have a super fast solution for you that will make your table look festive for the Holiday and take only take you a few minutes to put together.
I always love using nature in my centerpieces. I think it adds so much because whatever you are using is "in season" at that time i.e.: flowers in summer, apples for fall, acorns, sticks from a tree, pine cones.... whatever you have.
I happen to have a friend with a chestnut tree, and I heard her mention that she has to pick up all of them off of the lawn before she can mow. I said "let me come pick them up!"
I gathered a small bag full and went on my way. If you don't have a friend with a chestnut tree though, it's ok! You can buy them in bulk this time of year at the grocery store.
I clipped a few branches from a pine tree (they smell so good) and used a red candle for the center. Its just one I had in my basement going unused. You could use white candles in a bunch, or some of those pretty faux candles that look half melted already, with a flickering light.
Use a big plate or dish to hold your chestnuts, and place the candle in the center. Surround the candle with the pine branches, and cut an orange into three slices. Add whole cloves in them for scent and a touch of prettiness!
A cheap and simple centerpiece that adds a punch of Holiday flare to your table!
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Monday, November 25, 2013

Holiday Snow Angel milkshakes

Ah, Thanksgiving time is once again upon us, bringing together so many wonderful flavors of the
 season. Herb roasted turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, warm apple pie and last but not least, EGG NOG SHAKES. Its one of my favorite flavors of the Holiday season.
These tasty little shakes whip up in no time, and they are sure
 to please a family member of any age! A little pinch of cinnamon on top of a fluffy pillow of whipped cream will leave your taste buds begging for more!
Happy Thanksgiving!
3 cups of ice
2 cups of Egg Nog (I prefer Darigold it's simply the best!)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup heavy cream
Blend together until smooth.
Whip 1/2 cup of heavy cream with 1/4 teaspoon of powdered sugar to top shakes.
(Add to a zip lock bag and cut the bottom corner to pipe cream into a pretty topping)
Add a pinch of cinnamon on top of the cream.
This recipe yields (3) 8 oz cups of milkshake, double or triple if you have more guests.
THIS RECIPE IS GLUTEN FREE (make sure to check the label on your egg nog if you are using a brand other than Darigold).

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Barefoot Contessa's Lemon Yogurt pound cake

This week I was craving some kind of lemon-poppy seed deliciousness so I looked up a few recipes and decided on this one. I was so pleasantly surprised, I had to share it with you.
I substituted a few things according to my own likes (and what I had in the cupboard) and the result was a delicious moist lemony pound cake. I barely had enough time to snap a pic before my family attacked the tray full of sliced up heaven.
Hope you enjoy it!

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt                                                   
    1 cup plain yogurt ( I USED SOUR CREAM)                                                  
    1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
    3 extra large eggs                                                  
    2 teaspoons lemon zest, grated (zest of 2 lemons)
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract                                                   
    1/2 cup vegetable oil                     
    1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
    (I ADDED 1 teaspoon of POPPY SEEDS)
Glaze topping:
Powdered sugar
lemon juice
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Grease an 8 1/2 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan.
Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.

In a different bowl mix yogurt or sour cream, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest and vanilla.
Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet, adding it in 3 parts to allow the wet to slowly absorb the dry ingredients.
Once mixed, use a spatula to fold the vegetable oil into the batter.
Pour the batter into your greased pan, and bake for about 47-50 minutes. Toothpick test to make sure it is cooked through. 
    Allow the cake to cool completely before glazing.
    Mix the lemon juice and powdered sugar together and spread over cake.
    Recipe adapted from Here.
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Sunday, November 17, 2013

{Sunday morning} Oat and Honey breakfast cakes

These lovely little tasty cakes are perfect for a leisurely Sunday morning breakfast. They are packed with tender oats, sweet honey, and whole wheat flour.
Even my pickiest eater was begging "momma! more pancakes!"
While my favorite way to enjoy this breakfast is warm with a little melted butter, they are equally as delicious chilled in the fridge. They make for a great grab and go snack when Monday morning comes and you are short on time.
Hope you enjoy!

Recipe for Oat and honey breakfast cakes
Recipe from: Emmy in her Element

1 cup milk
1 beaten egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons oil
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tablespoons honey- (warm in microwave for 10 seconds to help it incorporate easier)

In a medium bowl, beat one egg. Add salt, oil, baking powder, warmed honey and milk. Mix well. Add whole wheat flour in 2 parts, letting the wet ingredients absorb it slowly. Now stir in oats.
Spray pan with cooking spray, and cook pancakes on medium-low heat. They make take a few minutes to cook through as they are so moist inside.

Serve warm with butter and syrup, plain, or chilled in the fridge.

This recipe makes 7 regular sized pancakes.

Happy Sunday!

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Saturday, November 9, 2013

How to plan an inexpensive party that still looks adorable!

I thought tonight I would share how I planned and executed a really cute and inexpensive party for my 4 year old little boy. This party doesn't have to just be for kids though, it would be super fun to do as a one on one or group date, for a family reunion or friend party!
I have struggled for ideas for fun birthday parties since there are less options for things to do in the winter weather. I was first inspired by this idea of doing an "at home drive in movie" on Pinterest, but with a little creativity, my husband and I were able to switch things up a little from the original posts I had seen. He suggested that it would be fun to have the kids color their own car instead of us doing all the work before hand. GENIUS!
Here are a few steps of how I put together the party, on a dime. I was able to borrow a few things, and use a lot of what I already had at home to make the decorations. Forcing yourself to get a little creative with things you already have can really stretch a buck. Plus we can even say we are going green by reusing what we have one more time... ok maybe it's a stretch but it's a start!
Here's a step by step guide to a party on a dime. Hope you enjoy!
THE INVITATION(as seen above)
I designed for free on and then the prints were ordered through Costco for only 13 cents/invite.
The cars are made from cardboard boxes purchased from Home Depot for $1.30/box. We painted them with 1 layer of cheap white paint we had in our basement. I bought black paper plates from the dollar store (24 plates per package) and  with 2 packages I had enough for 10 cars and some leftover. Total cost, $2. Next, I hot glued them on for tires. I chose to use Vinyl lettering to add the children's names to the top of the car. I printed it myself so it was inexpensive, but to save on cost you could just paint or write the name in marker, and color two yellow head lights on.

For the simple table setting, I used plates and cake holders to stack and add height to my table and to make it a bit more visually pleasing.
The balloons were about 99 cents a piece, and using gold blue and red added a more "circus-y, vintage-y" kind of feel. I had a tablecloth that I purchased from a spool of clearance fabric at Joanne's a few years ago. It's neutral brown color matches just about anything I do. If you have never looked at Joanne's section of tablecloth fabric, check it out!
The popcorn machine was a total hit, and it was no added cost because I borrowed it from a family member. A similar one can be found HERE at
I made the banner last summer for my 4th of July using scrapbook paper and gluing it onto twine. It happened to match so I thought it would add some extra color and help add height to my table décor.

Did you know that instead of buying labels you can just make your own cute ones in Microsoft word? UM YES PLEASE!
Its so easy Ill be making a post to share this secret very soon.
I made my own label, printed it and glued it to some old scrapbook paper I had in storage.

For the popcorn cups I did the same thing, and then just glued them to a clear cup so you can see the pretty golden popcorn inside.

I covered the original label for the licorice and changed it to "old fashioned licorice" to add more to the vintage feel. Adding it on top of a cake stand made it extra special!

I thought it would be fun to just do a simple but creative cupcake for the party. After learning how easy it is to create a popcorn look-a-like cupcake, I knew this was the perfect compliment to my table.
To save money on the cake, bake your own made from scratch cupcakes, and homemade buttercream frosting. Frost the cupcakes once they are cooled, and immediately add your faux popcorn topping.
These are so dang easy you will laugh. All you have to do is take some mini marshmallows, cut them twice with kitchen sheers, and then brush a little bit of yellow food coloring (I used gel) on the tops. Let the gel dry for about 20-30 minutes before using so it doesn't get all over your fingers.

I bought these cute little cupcake covers at the same party store I purchased the balloons. They were only $2.39 for 12.
I made little baggies filled with "movie treats" for the kids using dollar store candies.
Then I filled other baggies full of stickers and crayons also purchased from the dollar store. Total cost for 100 crayons, candy for 10 kids, and 200 stickers... $11.00.
I found that putting them In individual packages for the boys and the girls helped the decorating process go very smoothly with no chaos! Just what a mommy needs :)

The kids got to watch Monsters University, eat popcorn, treats and decorate a car. Then we opened gifts and enjoyed cupcakes. Overall I think it was a hit, and I loved hearing the kids giggle and have a fun time together.
Benson even got to wear shorts... in November. :)

Happy 4th Birthday Benson, you are so loved!
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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Asian Chicken Lettuce wraps- a healthy and flavorful meal

Most chicken lettuce wrap recipes I have found are made with ground chicken. I prefer shredded instead so I'm sharing my version with you for something a little different. These lettuce wraps make a statement with their beautiful bright color and delicious Asian flavors. These make for a great lunch, party side dish, or light and healthy dinner for your family. I hope you enjoy!
3  large chicken breasts
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 cup water
Cook in the crockpot on high heat until easy to shred.
1 small yellow onion chopped
3 garlic cloves minced
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh minced ginger (use ground if that's all you have!)
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
Sauté together on medium heat until onion is tender.
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
4 teaspoons Asian chili sauce
4 teaspoons sesame oil
whisk together
Give the shredded chicken a rough chop and add it to the pan with onions, garlic and ginger. pour sauce over the top. Sprinkle with slivered almonds and 1 small can of water chestnuts (roughly chopped).
Wash and prepare butter lettuce leaves.

Rinse and clean lettuce leaves in cool water. Lay out a kitchen towel and place the leaves flat on it. wrap up the towel in the shape of a hobo bag, and hold the towel tight in your hand while swinging your arm in a circular motion to quickly air dry the lettuce. When you open up the towel, the lettuce will be dry as all of the moisture has been whipped into the towel. Cool, I know. :)

You can also use iceberg or romaine lettuce for the wraps, but butter lettuce is my first choice.
I have found that the meat filling is most flavorful when it is served at room temperature or chilled in the lettuce wraps.




 Here are a few pictures using the romaine lettuce. Equally as beautiful to look at, but the butter lettuce is easier to handle and doesn't have the bitterness of the romaine.


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