Holiday Best

Best of holiday posts. Everything from decor, crafts and lots of yummy treats.

Last minute gift idea for your girls

Photo garland with your kid’s photos

 

Holiday Entertaining:

Chic Cookie Exchange Inspo

Balloon signs for your party decor

 

Party Foods, Treats and Drinks:

Best Cheese Ball Ever

Best Caramel Corn Ever

Kitchen Sink Oreo Cookie Balls

Peanut Butter Pie

Homemade Cinnamon Candy

Edible Confetti for hot beverages and cocktails

Orange Cardamom Hot Chocolate

Brown Sugar Bacon Butter

Spiced Clementine Margarita

Spiced Cranberry Bourbon Cocktail

Sherry Cake

Cinnamon Walnuts

Spiced Pear Cocktail

Orange Spiced Iced Coffee

Spiced Pear Bellini

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Bacon and Sage Dip Recipe

Bacon and Sage Dip RecipeSo there is this dip. And I love it. I love it so much that I decided to add bacon and sage to it and make it even better. Because why not. The dip is super easy and tasty. To eat this the right way, you must eat it with Ruffles. (Not sponsored.) Ruffles are the perfect saltiness and the perfect crunch. I didn’t have them on the day I shot this and I was super disappointed. The chips I had on hand were too crunchy and hard which does not provide optimum enjoyment for the dip experience. But I am sure that even with just a spoon to shovel it in your pie hole you will love this Bacon and Sage Dip Recipe.

Bacon and Sage Dip RecipeMayo. Gross. While I can’t eat this on its own I still use it in recipes. As soon as the other ingredients mask the smell I’m totally fine. When you have fresh sage and bacon bits around, well, that’s all you smell. Thank goodness. The cream cheese helps to make it super creamy and the one clove of garlic provides the right amount of flavor and heat.

Bacon and Sage Dip RecipeAnd the wooster sauce adds a nice depth of flavor and meatiness. Ain’t no body able to spell Worcestershire.  Wait, did I do it? Did I spell it right?

Bacon and Sage Dip RecipeWith a hand mixer you just beat all the ingredients together and once creamy, mix in the sage and bacon.

Bacon and Sage Dip RecipeAnd then eat it. Eat it all up.  And then play around with it. Add in other ingredients. Make it your own. All I know is that I love it and the sage makes it perfect for holiday entertaining.

Bacon and Sage Dip RecipeSee. These chips are all kinds of wrong. That is not the color of Ruffles.

Bacon and Sage Dip RecipeBut don’t worry. I powered through and ate the chips and dips anyway. I’m not generally going to turn away a snack food unless it is truly horrid. What is your favorite dip recipe?

Bacon and Sage Dip Recipe
 
I took my favorite dip and jazzed it up with bacon and sage. You're welcome.
Author:
Recipe type: Snacks/ Appetizers
Ingredients
  • 1 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 3 TBSP mayo
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Season salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Enough cream or milk to make desired dip consistency. (for me it's approx. 3 TBSP)
  • 2 TBSP chopped fresh sage
  • 2 TBSP bacon bits
  • Serve with Ruffles chips.
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients (except milk, bacon and sage) in to a medium bowl.
  2. Using a hand mixer, beat all ingredients together until smooth.
  3. Add milk or cream, a TBSP at a time until you reach your desired consistency.
  4. Add bacon and sage and stir in to the mixture.
  5. Season to taste.
  6. Enjoy with Ruffles.

 

Things I Love : November, 2014

Take time to stop and bake mini donuts with your kids. Random things that I loved this month…

I usually work on blog stuff in the mornings. Even the weekend. So it was a really nice change of pace when my son found our mini donut baker in the garage and all but demanded we make them immediately. So we did.  And they loved them. And it was really fun to make something for breakfast and take a little more time with them instead of being on the computer. I guess sometimes you have to stop and smell the mini donuts.

The styling in Bon Appetit Magazine is the best. They get me. I die for food magazines. I rarely make anything from them, but I have to read them each month. Over the last year or so I’ve been falling in love with Bon Appetit and their styling. They just get me. It’s all I can do to wait patiently for the new issue to arrive each month. The creative direction is SO GOOD. Like, I want to rip out these pages and decoupage them on my dresser like I did with bands in high school.

Celebrating a friend who is following her dream. This didn’t happen in October but I didn’t download the photo until now so it missed last month’s ‘Things I Love.” My dear friend, Erika, was an extra on Brooklyn 99, one of my fave shows. So of course we had to have a viewing party at her house and experience it together. It was the Halloween episode. She nailed it. I love watching her explore this new path in her life and think she is awesome. See her on Cougar Town here.

My favorite Erin Wasson for RVCA shirt and vintage necklace. You guys. I’ve only been wine tasting twice now but both times I really felt like I needed to wear this vintage grape necklace that my grandma gave me. Do you really need to have a good luck charm for wine tasting? Because I think this is mine. My grandma wasn’t in to wine per se although she always ordered a Chablis when we ate at the pizzeria. One of the funniest conversations I ever had with my grandparents was them making fun of pretentious wine tasters and the adjectives they use to describe the wine. I will never forget it. I love this necklace. And this shirt. I will die if anything happens to it. It’s Erin Wasson for RVCA and it is my all time fave. If we’ve hung out in person you have certainly seen me in it. And I love my new necklace from Shop Serene Sky. I won it at a blogger event and it’s totally my style! So glad I didn’t win the free month of exercise.

Fried Green Beans from The Habit. Dearest fried green bean, how did I not know about you until now? I saw someone post about these on their instagram account and later that day went to try them. I adore green beans. It’s the world’s best vegetable. And fried?! Yum. This was my first time at The Habit, although it is in the same parking lot as my Joann’s so you know I’ve passed it and smelled it like a gazillion times. The burger was also amazing! Can’t wait to go back and try out more things! I also love that they put a gummy hamburger in the kids meals! Nice touch.

Nerds against bullying! You know I love Nerds, right? They are my fave. But if Nerds and green beans got in to a fight, I’m not sure whose earrings I would hold. That’s not true. I would mean mug the green beans and back my Nerds. And then eat the green beans and then the Nerds.  So when Geeky Hostess posted this it made my heart sing. Candy against bullying. Now that is a cause I can get behind. Well done Wonka.

High waisted jeans changed my life. YOU GUYS! I’m sorry to shout at you but these pants changed my life. So I’m pretty cheap about my denim. I used to buy pricey pants, and they really did fit and wear well. But it just isn’t the right time for me to spend a lot on good denim. So I’ve been hitting the cheapy stores for my pants. These stores usually go for a younger audience so the pants are all low-rise and terrible whiskering. Well, I finally came across that was high-waisted (but not in a Jessica Simpson high-waisted pants debacle, high waist) jeans and they are awesome! The whiskering and details are still not something I would typically go for, but the fact that my muffin top is fully ensconced in these pants is amazing! I instantly felt pounds lighter. Shirts lay nicer. And I don’t constantly have to hitch them up. Because they sit above my hip bones, they don’t slip down much to create saggy butt. Life changing. So now I wear them every day. I apologize in advance.

Kids on the red carpet. This one is also from last month. My husband has a friend who is an artist and he created some custom pieces for a show at the Long Beach Museum of Art. One of the pieces is a sort of team photo from a made up sport and my husband is one of the players. So of course we had to go see my husband hanging on a museum wall.  We took the kids and they were so much fun to have there. My oldest dressed like he was going for an art heist (here he is missing the beanie and hood up). And my youngest was super in to the receptions happening outside including dancing like a spaz to the band and sucking down Sprite from the bar. And, of course, we had to get them on the red carpet. The docents only had to talk to the boys a dozen times to remind them not to touch anything.

My favorite wines from @lorimarwinery/.I have new favorite wines! I fell in love with Trio from Lorimar Winery on my first visit (a red with notes of coconut, yum). But this last visit I was lucky enough to get to taste even more of their wines. Their sparkling wine is my fave sparkling! SO delicious!  And the Grenache Blanc is where it’s at. I can’t wait to crack that baby open! Looks like I’ve got my holiday drinking game plan set.

Tillamook Chef event with Haven Gastro Pub at Provisions Market in Orange. I was invited to attend a Tillamook cheese event a few weeks ago and it was amazing. Tillamook partners with chefs from all over the country and has them create sensational dishes using Tillamook product. This event was in conjunction with the Chef’s of Haven Gastro Pub and Provisions Market in Orange. The servers strolled around with platters of beer and cheese beignets and other delightful cheesey dishes. There was a fantastic cheese tasting spread set out complete with beer pairings and then there was this Mac and Cheese. Best. Ever. For this recipe they used the Extra Sharp White Cheddar and added bacon and other yummy goodness.  The event was awesome but my favorite part is that they are sharing all the recipes! I want to make everything!  Here is the White Cheddar Bacon Mac and Cheese.  I fell in love with the Black Pepper White Cheddar and can’t wait to find that again in a grocery store. Mmmmmm.

Lavender Lemonade Recipes

Lavender lemonade recipe for summer picnics and parties.  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comLavender lemonade!  How refreshing does that sound?!  It has been in my head since before school was out and I finally decided to make some.  I’m not usually a big fan of lemonade.  It can’t be made from a powder and it certainly can’t be too sweet.  I did tons of research on how to make it before I started.  And then had to research a little more when I finally came across food grade dried lavender.  I mentioned I was making this to several people and they all looked at me funny.  I guess lavender lemonade recipes are not something that a lot of people are looking for.  I get that there is a fear that whatever the lavender is in might end up tasting a little soapy since that is how we know lavender.  I love me some lavender soap and lotion.  But I adore the herbal quality to it and thought it would bring a really cool “flava” to lemonade.  And I just tried to turn lavender “street.”

Lavender lemonade for your next picnic!  //  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comLavender lemonade is the perfect thing to bring to a summer picnic.  I also brought it along on our duffy boat trip through Newport Harbor.  I mean, you can’t JUST drink wine.  That would be uncivilized.  And if you actually drank it and didn’t forget that you brought it with you, it would probably prevent you from getting a severe hang over the next day.  Not that I did…

Dried lavender can be found in your local health focused market in the herbs section.  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comSo, I headed straight towards Mother’s Market (hippie town) looking for a lavender plant.  In most of the lavender lemonade posts, people have these beautiful sprigs of lavender (see above photo.  spoiler alert, I finally found some beautiful sprigs!) that I am guessing they fuss and fiddle with in order to make an infused simple syrup of some kind.  Well, there were no beautiful plants to be found that day.  Wait, I’m a liar.  They had one plant that they brought out for me from the back that they “were trying to save” that they let me buy.  But hold the phone, it didn’t look at all like the sprigs I had seen.  Apparently there are different varieties of lavender plants.  And we weren’t sure that it was food grade.  Luckily they also sold the dried leaves in the spice section.  You guys! 

Lemons and limes.  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comYou’ll also need a crap load of lemons.  And maybe some limes.  I freaking love limes.  Like, I love limes like I used to love the California raisins (not the fruit just the characters).  I got one of those hand squeezer juicer things and it’s AWESOME!  It makes juicing citrus super easy and you get the more out of the fruit than if you are doing it by hand.  If you don’t have one, and you want to make lemonade, or margaritas, go get one (but not at Target.  Apparently Target thinks these squeezer things are a luxury item and wants to charge you $12 for one.  Uh, no.  My grocery store had it for about $6.  Come on Target, be cool.)

Make lavender "tea" to add to your lavender lemonade. // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comBut these photos are a little misleading.  Because if you are using the dried lavender, you really need to start this process the day before you want to make the lemonade.  I know!  What a pain!  But worth it.  Now, if you ARE making a simple syrup with the pretty sprigs, then you can do that the same day.  I don’t like simple syrup.  I think it makes everything too sweet.  And I like really bold flavors so when you infuse the simple syrup, it is hard to get the flavor I like, without it turning too sweet.  That and the fact that I still hadn’t found those dumb supermodel sprigs yet. 

But I digress.  So lavender “tea”.  I took about 1 cup of water and 1 TBSP of dried lavender and put it in a mason jar.  Then I shook it up a little and left it at room temperature overnight.  In the morning, you’ve got lavender “tea”.

Strain the lavender tea for use in delicious summer beverages.  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comAll you have to do is strain it through a coffee filter.  And you are left with this fantastic amber-ish water.  Which smells awesome.  

Natural lavender lemonade recipe.  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comAnd THEN you are ready to make your lavender lemonade.  So you need fresh squeezed citrus, lavender “tea,” raw honey and water.  The sprigs above are purely decorative at this point. BTW I found the pretty sprigs at Trader Joe’s.  But there was no telling if they were food grade or not.  I’m wasn’t going to take any chances.  I didn’t want my tombstone to say “She died, super relaxed, drinking lavender lemonade.”  How much cooler if it said something like “She died valiantly while trying to defend the world from evil clowns.”

A great blend of lavender, citrus and raw honey for the perfect summer treat.  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comTo a pitcher, add all the things.  

Raw honey is great for mixing in to drinks. Just whisk it until it dissolves.  //  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI was worried that the raw honey wouldn’t be a great choice for mixing in to liquids.  But it worked great, actually.  I just used a whisk and whisked for a short time and it blended right in.  I also thought it might harden back into a solid when I put it in the fridge, but it didn’t.  I’m a fan. 

Lavender lemonade recipe for your summer bbq or picnic.  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comAnd there it is.  A delicious lavender lemonade.  Everyone drinks their lemonade differently so modify any of these recipes to suit your tastes!  I think I may have put a little bit too much lime in mine.  It was quite bitter.  Which I didn’t hate, but it also wasn’t the taste I was going for.

Take a look at these recipes and find one that works for you!

via Home Cooking Adventure
via A House in the Hills
via Amy’s Lavender Lemonade via AllRecipes.com
via Small Footprint Family
via They Call Me Oyster Girl

Clean Eating Recipes

Roasted veggie farro salad.  So yum!  //  www.cupcakesandcutlery.com I found myself in a really crazy, unhealthy spot a month ago.  I was concurrently taking antibiotics for a sinus infection, along with steroids for said infection, a muscle relaxer for a strained muscle and had a pain shot for the pain from said strained muscle which I was instructed not to take with my headache pill because they would not react well together.  I looked at all of that and just stopped.  I don’t want to be taking all of that.  It just shows how unhealthy my whole life is.  I don’t fault the doctors for just layering all of that on, they can’t be the only director of our health at this point.  Gone are the days where they truly care about our overall health and focus more on the ailment at hand.  Which leaves us to be the controller of our temple.  And my temple was falling apart.  In conjunction with Andrea’s challenge, I decided that I need to make some changes in my life.  And I’m starting with food.  I attribute all my cellulite to processed foods and see that my kids are consuming an awful lot of junk food in our crazy, busy life.  So while I am not going whole hog (I refuse to throw away the food that is in my freezer and cupboard simply to start over – there is far too much money invested in that to throw it away), I am changing our meals a little at a time and taking this time to really learn about clean eating.  My kids don’t love it but they are trying.  My husband is totally on board.  And I have to say, aside from trying to get in enough protein to keep me feeling full, the food has been delicious!  I wanted to share a few of the things I have made recently with you.  So feel free to change these up to suit whatever your diets needs or flavor preferences are.  And not all of these recipes might not be the cleanest as written, I know I can modify them to be.

Fantastic Clean Eating Recipes

This cold, roasted veggie farro salad is AMAZING!  I brought this to a barbecue and everyone loved it.  I was able to make most of it the day ahead so it is a great entertaining recipe.  I left the cheese out of mine but served it for anyone else who wanted it.  And the leftovers were fantastic too!

A strawberry vinaigrette?  Yes!  SO good!  Perfect on baby spinach and chicken and whatever.  I have not made her whole salad recipe as she has it in this post, I just wanted to try out the dressing recipe for my son who doesn’t like salads.  This didn’t make him like salads.  But it made me love this dressing.

I’ve been addicted to popcorn because I get snacky and feel like it is probably a pretty safe, clean bet.  Well, probably better than cheetos.  I have not tried this Sea Salt and Coconut Popcorn recipe yet but it seems like the perfect snack when you need a little treat.

I made this strawberry chia seed jam to replace the hopped up stuff I had been putting on my kid’s sammies.  Chia seeds are amazing.  They sort of congeal making the fresh cooked strawberries not runny but, duh, like jam.  And it tastes amazing!  And it is super easy.  And you can see how you could use all different kinds of berries to make more combos.  Mmmmmmms, maybe a little ginger peach chia jam for my oatmeal?

I have not made this yet but how crazy does this coconut “bacon” sound?  I know it will probably never really take the place of legit bacon but I love coconut and might be another great way to add some texture to salads.  I try not to have too many nuts around the house because of an allergy so sometimes my salads aren’t as well-balanced, texturally speaking.

I’ve started a clean eating board on Pinterest if you want to find more recipes to try out.  And don’t forget to browse Andrea’s site for some REALLY helpful posts on healthy swaps and how to handle the prep involved for making clean eating meals a priority.