Monday, December 23, 2013

German Gluwein in Crockpot

Family and friends are arriving tonight to celebrate the holidays so we made some Gluwein! This is a family tradition and recipe. Merry Christmas!


- 1 bottle red wine
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 lb. sugar
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- lemon and orange peel 

Boil all ingredients, except wine, and reduce the quantity in half. Strain, add to the wine and bring to a boiling point. Serve hot- we keep it warming in the crockpot!


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

DIY Christmas Pajama Play Date

Last year I threw a Christmas Pajama Play Date, and just had to throw another this year! What fun the kids had and what fun I had baking up a storm and decorating!

I found this awesome website with free printables for my "Fa La La" banner, antler name plates, and invitation. Then I made sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies for the kids and mommies to decorate. The kids had green or red frosting and sprinkles, and the mommies had just white icing in a piping bag. I had chocolate and powdered mini donuts for the kids and some pretzels as well. Actually the kids barely touched the donuts since they were overloaded on cookies!

For the mommies I got creative last night and baked a Stout Gingerbread Bundt bread. It was super moist and delicious, but not too sweet. I also made Polar Express Hot Cocoa, which is always a hit! I sent the mommies home with leftover cookies and bread, too!

For crafts for the kiddos we had each decorate an ice cream cone to look like a "Christmas Tree." Green frosting was used to cover the cone, and then white coconut shavings was used as 'snow.' I nought each kid a container of mini holiday M&M's to use as "ornaments" for their trees. They had so much fun... eating everything!

 Free printable invitations, banner, and name plates

 Stout Gingerbread Bundt 

Polar Express Hot Cocoa

 "Decorate Your Own Cookie"

 The Girls Decorating 

 The kiddos

 Kinley decorating his cookie and his "Christmas Tree"

Levi and his sprinkles with a side of cookie :)

- 1 1/2 heavy whipping cream
- 2 cups chocolate chips
- 6 cups milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- dash of salt

1. Heat heavy whipping cream and chocolate chips until chocolate has melted.
2. Add milk, vanilla, sweetened condensed milk, and salt. Mix together and let simmer and keep on low until ready to serve. You can also make this recipe in your crock pot.

- 1 cup of oatmeal stout beer
- 1 cup dark molasses
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 2 cups all purpose flour (plus 2 tbsp. at high altitude)
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 2 tbsp. ground ginger
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- dash of cardamon 
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- powdered sugar for dusting 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour the inside of your bundt pan. 
2. Heat molasses and beer in a medium pot until hot. Remove from heat and add baking soda. Let cool to room temperature.
3. Beat eggs, brown sugar and granulated sugar together.
4. In a separate bowl, mix flour and spices together.
5. Add vegetable oil to the egg mixture.
6. Add beer mixture to egg mixture. Mix well.
7. Add flour mixture to beer/egg mixture.
8. Pour into bundt pan. 
9. Bake for 40-50 minutes.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

De Ja Vu Christmas

I've been pretty nostalgic lately this Christmas. I just want to recreate my childhood memories for my kids this year! I've made Candy Cane Cookies, Gingerbread Cookies, my famous Sugar Cookies and a few memorable decorations. I remember my mom asking us to hand her Christmas cards from a pile so she could tape them on the back of a door in the shape of a Christmas tree... low and behold I did the same thing this year!

Decorations wise I tried and FAILED miserably at making Cinnamon Applesauce ornaments for our Christmas Tree. My dough never got brittle and just stayed super moist - hopefully you have better luck! To cheer myself up I found an adorable printable I printed and put in my 'seasonal' 8"x10" black frame.

We actually celebrated an "Early Christmas" this morning and boy do my husband and I love playing Santa! So awesome to see our kiddos run down the stairs and their faces light up with their new gifts! Both boys were good this year and we really just enjoyed watching them play all day, eating cinnamon rolls, and drinking coffee. We look forward to spending 'real' Christmas with our family on the East Coast.

Easy way to display Holiday cards!

FREE Printable!

Sugar Cookie Recipe

- 3/4 cup butter, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- 2 1/2 cups flour (plus 2 1/2 tbsp. at high altitude)
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt

1. Beat butter and sugar until well combined.
2. Add eggs and vanilla. 
3. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
4. Slowly add to butter mixture until a ball forms. Place dough in plastic wrap in the fridge for 2 hours.
5. Roll out and use your favorite cookie cutters. Bake on parchment paper lined baking sheets at 400 degrees for 6-8 minutes.

Gingerbread Cookies

- 2 3/4 cups flour (plus 3 tbsp. at high altitude)
- 3/4 tsp. baking soda
- 2 tsp. ginger
- 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. cloves
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup. unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup molasses 

1. Beat butter and brown sugar together until well combined.
2. Add egg and molasses. 
3. In a separate bowl mix flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt together.
4. Slowly add to molasses mixture until ball forms. Place dough in plastic wrap in the fridge for 2 hours.
5. Roll out and use your favorite cookie cutters. Bake on parchment paper lined baking sheets at 400 degrees for 6-8 minutes. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Sugar Cookies and Gingerbread Cookies

*I got a new camera for my blog so I hope my pictures will only get better as I learn how to use it!

My Christmas babies in their pajamas!


Bonus: If you are looking for a cute "Teacher Gift," I found these super cute glasses by Lyla Bug Designs for my son's Preschool teachers. They can be personalized and you can choose what color fonts and bow you want. I chose red and blue because those are their school colors. Plus I am a sucker for "Keep Calm and..." sayings so I had to get these! I found cute gift bags and tags at Hobby Lobby and just filled the cups with holiday Hershey kisses. I want one of these cups for myself :) (They have other sayings as well!)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Fire Truck Birthday Party

Months and weeks and days of planning and my sweet 3 year old finally got to celebrate his 3rd Birthday with daddy in town! He is currently obsessed with fire trucks, so we threw a fire truck themed birthday party! I will include pictures and links to the things I used/bought/made to make this party a success!

Here in Colorado Springs you can not throw birthday parties at the local Fire Station, or have a fire truck visit your home... so I made my own "Fire Station" in our home. Nine cardboard fire trucks graced our living room and each kid was handed their own 'fire hat.' Enter the chaos. These kids had a blast! They also got to take their hat and fire truck box home with them after the party!

- lemonade
- Royal Icing Fire Truck cookies
- hot dogs in crescent rolls
- apple slices
- popcorn
- veggie tray
- bratwursts for the adults
- red vines
- goldfish
- cupcakes

My inspiration for decor were these super cute linen bags that had a fire truck stamped on them. I found them on Etsy from the shop Jennifer's Cookies. I painted a picture of the fire truck on some paper and framed it for our party table. I also found a picture of the fire truck bags being used for a birthday party on a blog and was able to use PowerPoint to create my own cupcake toppers.

 Goody Bag "Fire Truck" Inspiration

 Hand-painted Picture of Fire Truck 

 Fire Truck Party Table

Fire Truck Cupcake Toppers

3 tissue paper 'puffs' that can be made easily here, and a banner I made with scrapbook paper from Hobby Lobby with black, red, and yellow chevron paper and red paint

 Table Scape with rented chairs (cost $10 for 10 chairs)

 Fire Truck plates from Amazon, fire truck hats from Amazon, Take and Toss cups with straws from Target, popcorn red/white bags from Party City

The Army of Fire Truck boxes!

 Royal Icing Cookies I made

Cupcakes with Fire Truck Toppers

Inside each Goody Bag I included some small candy canes, some "Cars" candy, an awesome Fire Man Badge crayon I ordered from Etsy, fire truck stickers from Amazon, and a packaged Fire Truck Cookie. I bought tags from Hobby Lobby and wrote each kids' name on them and attached them to the bag. 


Overall, my son had the best time playing and celebrating with his friends! I will have to upload pictures of the actual party later to show proof of all his joy and all the chaos! My favorite part of the party was when Kinley opened his presents and was so grateful and thankful to all his friends for bringing him something. I guess we are doing something right. :)


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Old School Candy Cane Cookies

Well it's 8 degrees and snowing outside here in Colorado Springs... and tomorrow is our MOPS holiday cookie contest. Of course my cookies are ready to win, I mean, go. But we may have our meeting cancelled. Sad. But my cookies turned out so cute and delicious!

I remember making these cookies with my mom and sister when I was younger and thought I would try them as an adult. They are fairly simple, but the rolling out the separate colors to make the actual 'candy cane' takes some time. I think it took me about 20 minutes to make 10 cookies. So make sure you have some time to do this! Also, the recipe I used called for shortening, I used an additional 1/2 cup and 2 tbsp. of butter instead. Here is the recipe:

Candy Cane Cookies *makes about 2 dozen cookies

- 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. butter, room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups flour (plus 2 1/2 tbsp. at high altitude)
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. red food coloring

Peppermint Sprinkle Topping
- 1/2 cup crushed peppermints (I used candy canes)
- 1/2 cup sugar

1. Mix butter and powdered sugar together until well blended.
2. Add the egg, almond extract, and vanilla.
3. Mix flour and salt together in a separate bowl and add slowly to the butter mixture.
4. Divide your dough into two equal balls. Place "white" ball in cling wrap and in the fridge to chill.
5. Add red food coloring to the remaining ball of dough and blend until red. Place in cling wrap and into the fridge.
6. Chill dough for 2-3 hours.
7. Make 1 inch balls in each color, roll out into a 4 inch strip, twist together and place in a 'candy cane' shape on a baking sheet with parchment paper.
8. Bake at 375 for 6-9 minutes. (Mine took 6 minutes)
9. Sprinkle sugar/peppermint mix on cookies generously immediately when cookies are removed from the oven.

 Candy Cane Cookie "White" Dough

 "Red Dough"

 Chilled dough being rolled into balls/strips

 Peppermint Sprinkle Topping

 Candy Cane Cookies

Baked Cookies with Peppermint Sprinkle Topping

 Festive Candy Cane Cookies


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Simple Crockpot Cider

Nothing gets me into the holiday spirit (other than baking) than drinking hot apple cider! When it's warming in your crockpot, the house smells so good! Here is a quick and easy recipe you can make and drink as you wish. We also like to use it to make hot toddy's in the evening - just add a shot of Spiced Rum (we love Sailor Jerry's!).

My husband loves hot apple cider and recently returned from a deployment, so this had to be one of the first things on our list to make for when "daddy comes home!"

Crockpot Cider

- 1 gallon Apple Cider
- 1 tsp. nutmeg
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- a dash of ginger
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- orange with cloves

1. Place all ingredients in your crockpot and set to 'high' for about 2 hours and then keep it on 'low' or 'warm.'

Crockpot Cider

Hot cider in my special "Winterbaum" mugs from Germany

Kinley was more than thrilled for daddy to be home!