Tag Archives: christmas

Merry Christmas

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I want to wish you the merriest of Christmases. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my little blog.  It truly does mean a lot to me, especially since this is a small hobby of mine.

These past few days I have been baking up a storm for last minute parties and am looking forward to a few days off.  In case you’re wondering though, here’s what I am making Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.  Christmas dinner is at my parents, so wahoo!, I can take a bit of a break.

Christmas Eve Dinner:

lasagna from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

Cat Head Biscuits from America’s Test Kitchen

lemony green beans + roasted Brussels sprouts

Cheesecake

Black Bottom Brownies 

Christmas Morning:

Cranberry Streusel Scones

fresh fruit

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For us, Christmas day is about family and reflecting on all the wonderful blessings that God has given us.  It has been an amazing year and I am so thankful and utterly grateful.  Can’t wait to see what the future holds!  I’ll be back next week with something yummy to share.  In the meantime, I hope you have a fantastic time with your family and friends and wish you a Merry Christmas!!!  xoxo

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Cranberry Streusel Scones

css4It’s no secret that I love scones.  Done right, they are melt-in-your-mouth goodness.  I have had my share of dry scones and my share of hard scones, and these, my friends, are neither.  There’s something about fresh cranberries that make everything taste a bit better.  Maybe it’s the fact that you really only crave them during one season of the year, late fall to early winter, that makes it extra special.  These scones have a hint of orange and light spices, so you have a bit of citrus that cuts down on the tart berries.

My son thought it was really funny to shake the berry.  Because, if you shake it hard enough, you can hear the seeds rattling around inside.  It was like his own personal maracas, and he would violently shake the berry next to his ear and laugh.  It was fun until he shook it a bit too hard and hit himself on the side of the head.  Sigh…

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Christmas Scones

CS1Thanksgiving flew by and now Christmas is almost here.  I have been piled under a mountain of essays these past few weeks and have just now emerged. Yeah to Christmas Break almost being here!  And speaking of Christmas, one tradition that I had growing up was my mom making cinnamon rolls Christmas morning.  In elementary and middle school, I was up before the rolls were done, but once I hit high school, it was the smell of the rolls from the oven that awoke me.  (You can read about these cinnamon rolls here .)   Now that I have children of my own, I am thinking about what traditions I want to continue, and a large breakfast spread is on the top of my list!

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I had some leftover fresh cranberries from Thanksgiving that I wasn’t sure what to do with.  And believe it or not, I have never worked with fresh cranberries before.  Wow, what a difference is fresh versus dried! I didn’t realize how naturally sweet fresh cranberries are! I’m not sure I’ll ever go back.  Dried, schmied…well, maybe in a salad.   Continue reading

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Pastel Christmas Sugar Cookies

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Decorating sugar cookies puts me in my happy place.  There’s just something cathartic about making and decorating your own creations.  In my previous life, a.k.a. BC–before child, as my in-laws say, haha–I would spend hours with multiple colors and design combinations, spending up to a whole Saturday decorating cookies.  However, because I now have a newborn to add to my already rambunctious toddler, having a few hours to myself is such a rare thing.  My hubby gave me a wonderful gift of a few hours on a Saturday morning, and a friend came over to decorate with me.  (She is one of my few friends who completely understands sugar cookie decorating without giving me weird looks.)  In years past, I have made these and these, but this year, I wanted to go lighter.

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A few of them are from stamps, and I used my Kopykake, (boy, do I love that thing!).  I consider myself a quazi-artist, because I can make something if I can copy it, even if just slightly, but I am not good at free-hand at all.  Whenever I draw something for my students, which is rare because I teach English, they always question my pictures–is that a dog or a horse, I can’t tell.

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Mitten Sugar Cookies [tutorial]

Today is my 32nd birthday. I used to like getting older, but since I hit 30, I wish I didn’t have any more birthdays, that I could stay 30 forever.  Okay, maybe not forever, but at least longer than 364 days.  Since I turned 29, I’ve kind-of had a mini pity-party the morning of my birthday, all of about an hour, and then I get out of my funk and move on with life.  Besides, who has time to dwell on the fact that you’re getting older?  It’s inevitable.  You’re just wasting time.

So I thought today I’d stop dwelling on myself and share a step-by-step tutorial on how to make mitten sugar cookies.  You might remember seeing these cute little mittens when I posted about sugar cookie tips in late December.  I originally made these cookies for a cookie swap in mid-December, so that’s why they’re all Christmas-y.  (Yes, that is a word.  I should know, I’m an English teacher.)  To make the polka-dot mitten cookies, you need to make sure you have these “extra” items: white sanding sugar, toothpick, and a small paintbrush (that you only use in the kitchen).  In terms of basics, you’ll obviously want to have royal icing colors, flooding and piping, in red and white.

If you’re new at sugar cookie decorating, I highly suggest you try these. (Or, if you’ve decorated a little while, but never tried this technique, then I recommend it for sure!)  They always turn out beautiful and they’re fun to make.  The number one advice I can give you is to make sure you have a prepped work station.  It’s really frustrating (and a time-sink) running back and forth to the kitchen to get whatever you need.

Outline the base (or cuff) of the mitten in white using the piping icing.  I like to use a #2 tip, but you could use #3 or #1.5.  Outlining will create a dam to hold the thinner icing, called flood icing.  Once you’ve outlined the cuff, fill it in with flood icing.  I like this recipe for both flooding and icing. Continue reading

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Chocolate-Peppermint Cupcakes

Peppermint is one of my all-time favorite flavors.  In fact, when I go to Starbucks, 9 times out of 10, I order a peppermint mocha (except now, when they charge me more for it because it’s considered a “holiday” drink).  And peppermint, when paired with chocolate, is one of the most heavenly desserts I have ever had.  So when I thought of creating a dessert for a holiday party a few days ago, this was the first thing that came to mind.

If you love chocolate, or mint, or both, these are the cupcakes for you.  The mint adds a subtle contrast to the chocolate cake, and when you take a bite, you get a nice, even flavor of both cake and frosting.  (It was really difficult for me to eat just one.  I have such a hard time with self-control!)  However, if you’re like me and you eat cake because you love frosting, then pile the buttercream on, and get a little bit of cake with your frosting! Continue reading

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Christmas Cake Balls + 10 Tips [for successful Cake Balls]

Cake balls have become one of my favorite desserts to make.  I don’t make them all fancy and wonderful like Bakerella does, (she’s amazing!); mine are just plain and simple.  And I’ve learned a lot in the two years that I’ve been making them.  In this post I’ll tell you some tips I’ve learned along the way through trial and error.  This post isn’t a tutorial, but if you’d like one, check out these posts here and here I made over a year ago and this past July, respectively.  Just please be kind to me and naivety.  As I said, I’ve learned A LOT.

So here are my top-10 things to do/not do when making cake balls.  (And they are in no particular order.)

1.  To melt candy melts, or chocolate, (which I’ve done before too), do not use a double boiler to melt the cancy coating.  Or, if you do, make sure it’s still not on the burner and the stove top isn’t on.  You’ll melt the cake balls, which will make it very difficult to coat, since most of it will end up being clumps in the candy melts.

2.  Don’t use too much frosting.  Start with 1/2 of the can and then work up to 3/4 of the can if need be.  It’s a lot easier adding more than taking it away.  (To see if you have just the right amount of frosting, make sure there are no traces of frosting in the cake.  Then grab some cake in your hand and gently squeeze.  If the shape holds, then you have just the right amount.)

3.  Watch the microwave.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve burned the candy melts!

4.  Shortening is your best friend when the melts are too thick.  Put in 1 tablespoon at a time and fully mix it in to thin it out.  The candy melts should be the consistency of heavy cream.

5.  Take your time.  This can be said for everything, but it’s important to not be rushed or distracted. Continue reading

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