Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"Hollywood Moms Night" - The Next Best Thing To Going Out With Your Girlfriends!

Can’t make it to girls’ night out tonight?  Hollywood Moms Night is the next best thing!  Stay with me, mamas!  I know what you’re thinking…the “Hollywood” makes you think of the Kardashians, private chefs and limousines, 24-hour nannies to moms who’ve never woken up in the middle of the night to their crying gassy babes.   This delightful show isn’t about those Hollywood moms.  It’s about as close to real as I imagine you can get in Hollywood.
The dish is this… if you can’t get out for a dinner party with your girlfriends (and you don’t feel like cleaning your home to host one), just pour a glass of vino and join these moms for a relaxing night in filled with laughter and nods of understanding – you’ll be shouting out:  “I’ve been there!” and “Oh, no she didn’t!”.  Just like us real moms, they enjoy taking the time to get pretty and put on that new dress, delight in bringing their own dishes to the party (who really cares if it was bought or cooked) and just talking about what girls talk about.  From how they met and fell in love with their men to what to call their sons’ privates-I was happy to hear that penis is indeed one of them! 
Known for their fun dinner parties, besties Alison Sweeney and Ali Landry are now hosting these dinners on-camera.  I decided to tune-in because I’ve always been a fan of Alison; I adore her style and down-to-earth persona as seen on The Biggest Loser.  The hour-long premier proved Hollywood Moms Night to be the essence of a real dinner party with real moms!  I love it!  The show even caught Alison having to balance decorating, cooking and dolling up all before and after a day at work.  Sound familiar?  That’s why this show is beautiful…it’s relatable!
It’s what Trina and I are so passionate about.  Real moms being real.  Beautiful.  Strong.  Even sassy – Niecy, we’re talking to you!  As we’ve said in many of our posts, we’re all in this world of motherhood together…we might as well share the great things we find that make us smile, laugh or even just know we’re not alone in some of our crazy motherhood experiences.
If you like reality shows but you’re tired of the over-the-top, over-dramatized, not-a-bit-relatable takes on reality, you have to check this out!  It’s refreshingly gratifying.  So ladies…moms…join me Sundays via TV Guide channel at 8:00 p.m. and let’s raise a glass to real moms, even if they are in Hollywood!
***Going to be up late tonight?  Tune in at 11:00 pm. for a showing of the premiere episode of Hollywood Moms Night on TV Guide Channel!  If not, it looks like they will rerun the premier every day from now until Sunday.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Body Image ~ What It Means In the World of Parenting

What is body image? Wikipedia says: "Body image refers to a person's perception of the aesthetics and sexual attractiveness of their own body."  I say, it's much deeper than that. We blame the media for today's assumption of beauty.  Back in the day there was Marilyn Monroe and more recently, Tyra Banks, who have been replaced by much skinnier versions of beauty such as Kate Moss and Giselle Bundchen.  The depressing fact that America's view of perfection in a woman has been changed from a more round, curvy figure to that of a stick-thin-nearly non-existent being, is somewhat disgusting.  No offense, of course, to the women that are naturally thin and happy with it.  Quite honestly...wherever you are in life...if you are confident and happy with it; more power to you.  


So...where do we get so screwed up?  Society?  The Media?  Or is it much simpler than that? I think my childhood explains so much of what I now call-my "issues."  I've been told I'm an attractive person.  And I believe I am. Many of my physical attributes are desirable.  Big lips. Large, distinctive green eyes.  A smile that rarely goes unnoticed.  All that and a figure that would've been applauded back in those Marilyn Monroe days.  Yet I grew up on diets...on different fads and physique changing mentalities that have only further warped my already screwed-up sense of self.


I remember in seventh grade my skin started to break out.  Call it puberty, or whatever you like...but my skin had become zit-central.  Unfortunately, due to some not-so-great-genes...this trend continued beyond my period-starting and boob-growing days.  My mom immediately put me on birth control to rein in both the insane breakouts and the out-of-control periods I was facing.  Immediately, I went from an average seventh-grade body to a grown up, much-bustier and more well-rounded body.


My mother had faced criticism from her mother all her life.  So naturally, my mother also wanted me to be perfect.  She explained that hair was 80% of your looks, so I focused much time on curling or fussing with my hair; trying to get the most beautiful look.  I'll never forget the day she said, "Trina, your butt is looking big."  And to be honest, it was.  The birth control pills had kicked my hormones into overdrive; and my butt wasn't the only thing growing.  Don't completely blame it on my mom folks; nobody knew during those times the full affects of birth control.


In seventh grade, I went on my first diet.  The cabbage Soup diet was a big hit at the time, and my mother and I took it on like everyone else we knew.  From then on, I began my yo-yo with weight-control, and the love-hate relationship I had with my body.  The more I lost,the more control I had.  And I sure loved control.


There were some months I starved myself...and when low-carb came out?  A dream-come-true for the diet-addict!  I watched my weight deteriorate along with my health...and then bounce back up when I started eating normal again.
   
The main problem I have is wondering...honestly...would I have ever been overweight in the first place?  I mean, yes, maybe I gained a few pounds due to the circumstances, but would I have actually ever been fat?  Was there ever a true need to start dieting?


When I look in the mirror now, I see a strong, beautiful, curvy woman...most days.  I still feel the pull from those other days when I want to pinch my fat roll, throw away the bread and swear off carbs.  It's okay that I'm fucked up.  I mean...honestly...I can handle that.  I can control it.  


What I can't handle is thinking that my four-year-old is going to have the same, messed up thinking and lack of full-self confidence that I've battled my whole life.  So, in this, I make a promise to myself:  I promise to shut my mouth when I want to say un-positive things about my body image.  I promise to urge my daughter to be happy with herself, no matter how she looks or what she weighs.  I swear to inspire her to love her uniqueness...and focus on her strengths....and not so much what America considers her flaws.  I say...screw America and what it's portrayed as hot; because I'm thinking my much-rounder-than-popular ass is looking much more appealing.  And so is a confident body image.


I look to my friend Amber; a vision of confidence and perfection in herself.  She is no size zero; she is no "common" blonde beauty-yet she portrays what all of us woman desire: being secure in who we are, having confidence in what we were born with; and flaunting all we've got.  And with that oozes a gorgeousness no model could even attempt compete with.  Below is her version of how she is, well, the way she is.


~Trina



Body Image- by a happy & confident woman
A gift was passed on to me as a girl.  A secret message whispered in code so complex that I could not understand it at the time or decode it until recently.  My mother failed at many things. It is only in the last 5 years have I begun to understand her message and come realize that many of my friends did not hear the same voice.

Growing up my mother was at ease with her body.  She never was shy or apologized for her shape when I saw her naked, or dressed for that matter.  She was who she was and that was enough.  She never commented on my body either.  When I was crying in my room as an adolescent, she never said  “But you are the most beautiful girl in the world…you are perfect…you are skinny…you are_____________.”  She simply said “You are who you are.  Be the best you can be.”  Simple. Clear.  Possible.

I became that woman.

At 27 I had a baby.  There are many things that will never be the same, and by newly “arranged” body is one of them.  I began to hear my friends comment on their changing shapes or flaws promising to “swear off carbs” and “start working out everyday” in a effort to rid their bodies of those imperfections.  I did not identify.  Sure, we all have flaws or things we wished were different about our bodies.   Especially post-baby!  I accepted that as a part of life.  I was never a version of “perfect.”  I did not expect that of them or myself either.  We  as moms were becoming something else.  We were growing into ourselves.  My body is not perfect.  I had never had that illusion.  Looking back…I could have been easier on myself.  There was a time when I was just short of awesome-and now there is a new amazing.

My body has given life to two awe-inspiring girls.  In that process, my stomach and breasts have taken a toll!  However, I would not trade them for my flat tummy and perky boobs.  I am amazing, and sexy, and really fun on a dance floor. I look great in a black shirt and a push up bra.  I am not the teenager or 20-something anymore.  I am MORE. I am who I am….and I think she is pretty great…flaws and all.  I have earned these imperfections on my journey.

There will always be someone prettier.  Skinnier. More toned.  You go girl, be your best self…and I will be mine.  Nothing is sexier than confidence; so own it!


~Amber (Trina's fabulous & trusted friend)


We hope in this article that we will inspire women to stop trying to become America's version of beauty; and instead, create and honor their own...  Trina & Leah

Holiday Recipe Spectacular - Appetizer - Thai Chicken Wonton Cups

If you are looking to impress your guests and satiate taste buds - this is ALWAYS a hit!  It looks so delicate and everyone thinks you put hours into it.  But it’s really a breeze; the hardest part is not ripping the wonton wrappers when placing them in the mini tin.  Original Recipe
Thai Chicken Wonton Cups
28-30 square wonton wrappers
2 tablespoons oil, divided
1/2 cup chopped cashews
1/2 cup pineapple chunks in juice (cut in quarters), or pineapple tidbits (reserve 2 tablespoons juice)
10 oz (1/2 package) ground chicken or turkey
2 teaspoons Fish Sauce (I hardly ever use this)
2 teaspoons Red Curry Paste
1/2 cup minced onion
1/3 cup minced red peppers
1/3 cup minced green peppers
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon lime juice
Hot mango chutney
Optional: chopped cilantro (cilantro should always be required, in my opinion)

Directions
For Cups:
Preheat oven to 375°F. 
Lay wonton wrappers inside mini muffin tins. With slightly dampened fingers gently press wontons down inside of cup and against sides, conforming to pan shape. Bake a few more than needed, just in case some collapse or break. 
Bake 6-8 minutes or until lightly browned. 
Remove wonton cups from tins and cool on wire racks. If not using immediately store cooled cups in air tight containers. Cups will keep crispy for 1 week. 
 For Filling:
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large non-stick skillet, over a high heat. Pat pineapple dry with paper towel, and add to pan with cashews. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly browned. Drain and remove to plate, leaving as much oil in pan as possible. 
Add remaining oil to skillet. Add ground meat, Fish Sauce and Curry Paste. Stir fry 2-3 minutes, breaking into small pieces. Cook until paste is dissolved and fragrant. 
Add onions, peppers, ketchup and reserved pineapple juice. Stir fry until meat is cooked through and sauce is thickened. 
Stir in lime juice and reserved nuts with pineapple. Cook 1 minute to combine flavors. Just before serving, fill cups with 1 tablespoon of filling and sprinkle with cilantro.  Have hot mango chutney on the side for guests to spoon on top of their wontons.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Holiday Recipe Spectacular ~ Peppermint Bark

Recipe photo



What a yummy recipe & fun activity for you and the kiddos to do together.  Of course, I LOVE peppermint so it's a no-brainer.



  • 2 2/3 cups bittersweet chocolate bar, chopped into coarse pieces
  • 3 to 5 drops peppermint oil (baking aisle)
  • 2 cups white chocolate bar, chopped into coarse pieces
  • ¼ cup peppermint crunch or finely chopped hard peppermint candies

directions

1) Gently melt the dark chocolate, heating it on very low heat or over hot water until it barely melts
2) Stir in the peppermint oil, then spread it into an 8" x 12" oval on parchment paper or foil.
3) Allow the chocolate to set, but not harden completely.
4) Melt the white chocolate the same way, and mix it with about half the peppermint crunch.
5) Spread the white chocolate over the dark chocolate.
6) Sprinkle the rest of the peppermint crunch on top, pressing it in gently.
7) Allow the candy to cool until hardened, then break or cut it into chunks.
8) Store airtight at room temperature for up to a week; freeze for longer storage.
Yield: about 2 dozen pieces.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Holiday Recipe Spectacular~Southern Green Bean Casserole

Image Detail

Warning: This dish is not healthy.  And addicting!  I look forward to it EVERY thanksgiving as my mother-in-law makes it.  She taught me to use cheez-whiz...which is so yummy.  I try to forget about being too healthy on days on like Thanksgiving!

3 pkg. (9 oz. each) frozen French cutgreen beans, thawed, drained
1 can (10-3/4 oz.) condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 cupCHEEZ WHIZ Cheese Dip*
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1 can (2.8 oz.) French fried onions, divided

*Or use CHEEZ WHIZ LIGHT Cheese Dip. (or don't!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

MIX all ingredients except 1/2 can onions in 1-1/2-quartcasserole.

BAKE at 350°F for 30 minutes. Topwith remaining 1/2 can onions. Bake 5 minutes. Garnishwith slivered red onion, if desired.

TO Make Ahead: Prepare as directed except for baking; cover. Refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, bake, uncovered, at 350°F for 45 to 50 minutes or until thoroughly heated, toppingwith remaining onions during last 5 minutes of cooking time.

Happy Eating Friends!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Holiday Recipe Spectacular - Beverages - Orange Almond Sparkle

This is THE punch to serve at your holiday party!  I'm a huge fan of almond extract, so I use double what the original recipe calls for.  Adults-only shindig?  Add coconut rum...ooohhh yeah!

Orange Almond Sparkle

•1 6 oz. can frozen lemonade, thawed
•2 c water
•2 T almond extract
•2 2-liter bottles chilled ginger ale
•1/2 gal orange sherbet, softened
Garnishes:
•Orange slices
•Maraschino cherries

Combine lemonade, water & extract. Stir well & keep mixture chilled until ready to serve. Place sherbet by spoonsfuls into punch bowl as needed to keep punch cold. Add lemonade mixture. Slowly add ginger ale. Stir gently. Garnish. Serve immediately. Make 7 1/2 quarts.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Holiday Recipe Spectacular - Dessert - Apple Dumplings

Another one of my childhood faves!  This was probably my most requested dessert when I was growing up.  Love it!  Especially because you got your own individual dumpling, it was all yours!  This recipe goes way back to my great-grandmother in Kentucky.  My mom's mom would make them, then my mom and now I can make them on my very own-cute, right!  It's such an easy recipe, but what an impressive show it would make when you hand each of your guests their very own warm apple dumpling!  It'd look like it took hours to prepare-and just for them!  You're the best hostess ever!!

Mother and Mom's Apple Dumplings
•2 cups peeled, pared and sliced tart apples (or 1 16 oz. can apple slices)
•1 pkg. pie crust mix (for two pies)
•1 cup sugar
•1/2 t cloves
•1 t cinnamon
•1/2 t nutmeg
•1 cup milk
•1/4 c flour
•Cool Whip

Prepare pie crust sticks as directed. Roll out into 8 equal squares. Place two T apple slices on each and fold up each corner. Place in greased baking pan and dot with butter. Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes. (For fresh apples, bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes). While cooling, prepare cinnamon sauce. Mix sugar, spices and flour together and gradually stir in milk. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Spoon warm sauce over dumplings and top with Cool Whip or fresh whipped cream.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Things We are Thankful For This Thanksgiving

Trina

I'm thankful first and foremost for a healthy, happy and whole family.  I gave birth to two absolutely perfect babies...beautiful and flawless.  In today's world, this itself is a miracle.

I'm thankful for a husband that is my best friend, for a partner that would rather spend time with his family than be out at the bars or with the "guys".

I'm thankful for the many successes I've seen in my lifetime.  Career-wise, I've always climbed and stayed at the top...and for my age...that's pretty amazing.

I'm thankful for inspiration that can only come from God...enthusiasm that can only be placed in me specially...

I'm thankful for meeting Leah, for a dream that has become a reality, for a hope that someday will actually transform into truth.

I'm thankful to be surrounded by fabulous friends; friends who would drop everything to be there for me, that support my crazy personality, my outlandish dreams...my wildly colorful imagination.  Anyone who is willing to to support me like they have; well they are amazing in themselves.

I am thankful for a family that has raised me to believe I can...and will do anything within my dreams.  Dream big!

And for IT ALL I thank God...for blessing me beyond measure or what I could possibly ever deserve.  Don't think for a moment I would give anyone but you first praise.  AMEN!

-------------------------------------------------------

Leah

I am thankful for my healthy and happy family.  My boys never cease to amaze and delight!  I have never felt such breathtaking love in my whole life!  I am so blessed to have a sweet and supportive husband who believes in family and is the best father!  And I'm just so thankful to have a man who stands by me through the crazy ups and downs that life loves to throw at us.  I am thankful for my amazing parents who I give credit to all of my successes in life.  And my little brother who is always just a phone call away!  For my friends (vintage and all) who listen to my zany ideas and tell me to go for it even when the boys are shouting in the background!  For Miss Trina who, in less than a year, has become a very close friend and confidant who probably knows what I'm thinking before I even think it...the best writing partner a girl could have!  And I'm thankful for "Stereo Hearts" featuring Adam Levine.  I am just so grateful of this life and where it's taking us.  And I am so thankful for all of you who follow our blog.  These last three months have been the most inspiring of my life!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Holiday Recipe Spectacular - Side Dish - Glazed Sweet Potatoes

This has been one of my favorite Thanskgiving treats-even beyond childhood!  So delectable, and why wouldn't it be?  Sweet potatoes, butter, brown sugar!  Another one of my mom's recipes, but I've been using real sweet potatoes.  And I always add more than a 1/2 cup of marshmallows, I can't resist! 
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1 c packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 c butter or margarine
  • 1/4 t salt
  • ½ c miniature marshmallows

Glazed Sweet Potatoes
Boil sliced sweet potatoes until tender.  Drain.  Combine sugar, butter & salt in skillet.  Cook & stir over medium heat until bubbly. Add sweet potatoes. Cover & cook 10 minutes over low heat. Uncover, cook 10 minutes longer, basting frequently.  Add marshmallows.

The Anti-Chicken Fingers Movement - Penne Pasta Bake

Thanksgiving Eve...Christmas Eve...Or even when all the turkey and leftovers are gone this Sunday, turn to this quick and easy, very satisfying Italian meal.  Add another 1/2 lb of beef if you've got meat lovers in the house.  Serve with salad and garlic bread.  This is another recipe direct from my mom's kitchen, I changed it just a little from her original.  This is also a great dish to make ahead, freeze and then reheat.  A perfect solution to feed your family this holiday season or anytime of the year!  And don't forget the red wine!

Penne Pasta Bake



  • 12 oz. penne pasta






  • 1 lb. ground beef






  • 1/2 onion, chopped






  • 1 T oregano






  • 1 bay leaf






  • 15 oz. tomato sauce






  • 14 oz. canned tomatoes, pureed






  • 1 6 oz. can tomato paste






  • 4 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded







  • Directions

    Cook pasta according to directions. Drain. Cook meat and onion in large skillet until browned. Drain. Stir in tomato sauce, pureed tomatoes, tomato paste, spices and 1/2 cup water. Cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Remove bay leaf.  Layer half pasta, half sauce and half cheese in 13x9"" baking dish. Repeat. Cover and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.

    Buon Appetito!
    Leah

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    Bossy Mommy

    I had to share this funny tidbit from Saturday.  My husband called from Oklahoma, where he and my 4-year-old are visiting his family.  His grandma has been keeping Callie while my husband does what he loves to do most: hunt.

      "Hi honey, how are you?"  I answered the phone, ready to hear about white tails galore.

      "I'm great, you will never believe what Callie told Grandma today!"  He said, laughter already in his voice.

      "What!" I said, a little cautious already.  My little Callie says whatever is on her mind-sometimes things we don't neccesarily need to be sharing with other people!

      "She was watching a move with Grandma and it was the one about the horses.  When the girl horse told the boy horse something she turned to grandma and said: You know why that girl horse said that?  Because girls like bossing around boys.  Just like mommy always bosses daddy around!"

    ~Trina

    Holiday Recipe Spectacular - Pumpkin Tiramisu



    Okay, I promise to post something that's not a dessert for my next recipe.  Because all these holiday sweets just make me want to eat!  But...I couldn't help myself when I found this recipe.  I LOVE TIRAMISU. It's  my favorite dessert of all time.





    • 1 1/2 cups chilled whipping cream
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 1 (8-ounce) container mascarpone cheese*
    • 1 (15-ounce) can pure pumpkin
    • 3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or 1/4 teaspoon each cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg)
    • 2 (3-ounce) packages halved ladyfingers
    • 1/4 cup rum
    • 2 ounces crushed amaretti cookies*

    *Mascarpone cheese (Italian cream cheese) and amaretti cookies (Italian macaroons) are available at many supermarkets and Italian markets, Ask for help if you can't find them!

    Beat whipping cream and sugar until peaks form. Add mascarpone cheese, pumpkin, and pumpkin pie spice; beat just until filling is smooth.
    Line bottom of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides with 1 package ladyfingers, overlapping and crowding to fit. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons rum. Spread half of filling over ladyfingers.
    Repeat with second package ladyfingers, remaining 2 tablespoons rum, and remaining filling. Smooth. Wrap tightly in plastic, then foil. Chill overnight.
    To unmold, run knife around inside edge of pan. Release pan sides; sprinkle with amaretti cookies.

    Happy Eating Friends! ~ Trina




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    Monday, November 21, 2011

    Holiday Recipe Spectacular – Appetizer – Honey Brie Spread


    My husband and I will admit to eating this as dinner some nights after the boys have gone to bed (just like the original recipe sites).  We were enjoying this delicacy even before we had the kiddos.  We have found this to be a wonderful hors d’ouever to bring to a party if you have the luxury of using their over.  Better yet, have this be on your menu when hosting your own party!
    Holiday Recipe Spectacular – Appetizer – Honey Brie Spread
    1 (14 oz) round Brie cheese -  we used the triangle
    1 (10 oz) can refrigerated crescent roll dough
    1 ½ cups honey
    1 ½ cups pecan halves - not used in the pictured version
    Directions:

    1.
    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Unwrap the wheel of Brie, and crescent rolls. (I cut off the rind).
    2.
    Unroll the crescent roll dough, and wrap around the Brie. Press seams together to seal in the cheese. Place in a 9x9 inch baking dish. Sprinkle pecan halves over the top, and drizzle honey over the whole thing.
    3.
    Bake for 30 minutes (ready in my oven in about 20) in the preheated oven, until golden brown and cheese is soft. Serve with apple slices or crackers.

    Sunday, November 20, 2011

    Holiday Recipe Spectacular - Pumpkin Spice Latte Cheesecake

    Pinned ImageYummy, just in time for thanksgiving, or Christmas.  I'm in the mood for sweets, if you can't tell!  Instead of pumpkin pie, try this awesome pumpkin dessert with vanilla ice cream! I got this via pinterest from http://www.sprinklebakes.com

     Crust:

    2/3 cup all purpose flour
    2/3 cup almond flour
    1 tsp. cinnamon
    3 tbsp. sugar
    4 tbsp. cold butter, cut into pieces

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a food processor, blend ingredients until mixture resembles coarse sand.  Press into the bottom (not up sides) of a 9-inch spring-form pan.  Bake 10 minutes.  Cool completely.

    Filling:

    2- 8oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
    3/4 cup white sugar divided
    1 tbsp. vanilla extract
    3 eggs
    1 cup of canned pumpkin
    2  tsp. ground allspice (substitute recipe here)
    1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
    3 tsp. espresso powder, or Starbucks VIA instant coffee (for authenticity)
    Using an electric hand mixer, combine the cream cheese, 1/2 cup of sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl and mix until smooth. Mix eggs in one at a time, blending well after each addition.

    Remove one cup of the mixture and transfer to another bowl.  Add the espresso powder to the 1 cup of filling and mix until coffee has dissolved and is uniform in color.  Set aside.

    Blend 1/4 cup of sugar, pumpkin, cinnamon and allspice into the remaining filling.  Pour the pumpkin mixture on top of the crust in the spring-form pan.  Top pumpkin mixture with the 1 cup coffee filling mixture.

    Bake for 55 minutes or until filling is set. The cheesecake will puff up in the middle a little bit as it bakes and then relax back down as it cools. Run a knife around the edge of the pan for easy un-molding.  Allow the cheesecake to cool before removing rim of spring-form pan.  Chill until ready to serve.

    Garnish:

    Whipped cream (1/2 cup heavy cream, 3 Tbsp fine white sugar, beat together with electric mixer)
    Cinnamon, nutmeg and powdered sugar for sprinkling
    1 Cinnamon stick broken in half (decor only) 

    Top cake with whipped cream, sprinkle with spices and powdered sugar.  Garnish with cinnamon sticks.    



    Holiday Recipe Spectacular - Dessert - Butter Horns

    If you’re looking for buttery and light, this delicate dessert will headline any holiday party!  Thanks mom!
    Butter Horns
    2 cups flour         
    1cup butter, softened
    ½ cup sour cream
    ¼ t salt
    ¼ t baking powder         
    1 cup (divided) sugar
    2 eggs                  
    2/3pecans, finely chopped
    ¾ t cinnamon
    Directions
    Into large bowl, measure flour, salt, baking powder, ½ sugar and one egg yolk.  (Place egg white in small bowl and set aside.) Mix ingredients until dough holds together. Shape into ball and refrigerate 2-3 hours (or place in freezer for 40 minutes.) In small bowl, stir pecans, cinnamon and sugar. Preheat oven to 375◦.  Roll one-third of dough on floured counter or mat into 10” round.  With pastry brush, brush with egg white.  Cut into 12equal wedges.  Place one teaspoon sugar/nut mixture in center of each wedge and roll up from curved edged.  Place cookies on ungreased baking sheet; curve into crescent.  Brush with egg white and sprinkle with sugar/nut mixture.  Bake cookies 10-12 minutes until light brown.  Remove to wire racks to cool.  Store in tightly covered container.  Makes 4 dozen cookies.

    Saturday, November 19, 2011

    Holiday Recipe Spectacular - Dessert - Angel Cherry Pie

    For as long as I can remember, this has been my dad’s favorite dessert.  My mom, an amazing baker, has always perfected the  meringue (click here for more of her recipes).  Though I have done well with the coloring of the meringue, I cannot make it look as pretty as her work of art along the rim. 
    Meringue Shell
    • 3 egg whites
    • 1/4 t cream of tartar
    • 3/4 c sugar
    Heat oven to 275 degrees. Click here for more info on making the perfect meringue. Beat egg whites until quite stiff. Gradually add cream of tartar and sugar, beating until stiff and satiny. Spread about 2/3 of meringue over bottom and sides of well-greased 8" pie plate. Drop remaining meringue in mounds along rim of plate. Bake 1 hour or until shell is light brown and crisp. Cool on rack.
    Cream Cheese Filling
    • 1 3oz. package cream cheese
    • 3 egg yolks
    • 1/4 c sugar
    • 1/ 2 t vanilla
    • 1 c Cool Whip
    • 1 c mini-marshmallows
    • 1 can cherry filling
    Beat softened cheese, egg, sugar and vanilla. Fold in Cool Whip and marshmallows. Spread cherry filling on top. Refrigerate until serving.

    Friday, November 18, 2011

    Holiday Recipe Spectacular - Cookies - Colorful Swirl Christmas Sugar Cookies



    I love baking!!! Love it, love it, love it.  And the best part about the holidays are being able to have an excuse to make yummy cookies, cakes, and desserts in general.  I got this off Pinterest via http://ouritaliankitchen.blogspot.com/2010/12/colorful-swirl-cookies.html, how adorable are these cookies, I mean, really!?  Practice makes perfect, so try a batch early, say...right after thanksgiving and right before the next round of dieting begins.




    2- Cups of Flour, plus 1 tbl Flour
    1/2-tsp baking powder
    1/4-tsp salt
    2/3-cup unsifted powdered sugar
    1/4-cup granulated sugar
    2.5-sticks unsalted butter - cut into chunks
    1-tsp vanilla
     1/2-tsp food coloring of your choice
    1 1/2 cup holiday sprinkles

                                                         
    In a stand mixer, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugars with paddle on medium until well blended.

    Add butter in, gradually and continue mixing. Add in vanilla extract. At this point, your dough will form a ball on the paddle.



    Remove all dough and divide into two equal parts.  Return one portion back into the mixer and add the food coloring.  If using liquid food coloring, add a few more tbl of flour so the dough doesn't become too wet.  Mix until color is spread evenly.

    Roll each portion of your dough, between two sheets of wax paper until it reaches about 11x9 inches and is 1/4 inch thick. Slide both onto a cookie sheet and chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours.
    When firm, remove top sheets of wax paper from both.  Brush the uncolored dough lightly with with water using a pastry brush.  Then flip the colored dough onto the vanilla uncolored dough so they are stacked atop each other and even.  Press the edges lightly with your fingertips to seal them together.  Using a small paring knife, trim the edges to make the dough straight, even lines.

    Pour out sprinkles onto a large platter and set aside.  Be sure your dough is still cold, but flexible.  Once it's ready, being rolling the long side of the dough into a swirl, jelly-roll style.  Now, don't get nervous if the outer layer of the uncolored dough tears a bit, it's okay.  Just pinch and pat...and keep rolling.

    Now gently lift the log onto the sprinkles and roll away.  Cover the log completely with your sprinkles.  Wrap in plastic twice, and put in the fridge for 3-4 hours or freeze up to two months (SEE YOU CAN PLAN AHEAD!)

    Slice your dough in 1/4 or 1/8 inch slices and bake on parchment lined baking sheets at 350 for 15 to 17 minutes.  Let them cool for five minutes.

    A lot of work?  Sure!  But how else do you imagine a fun filled Christmas Eve, standing in the kitchen cooking and baking...surrounded by family and great friends.

    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    Holiday Recipe Spectacular - Appetizer - Red Pepper Hummus

    This appetizer has it all.  The punch of zesty flavor and festive holiday colors; the red of the pepper and the green of the jalapeno will ring out to your guests, "oh come, all ye faithful and dip a warm pita into my bowl!"

    Hummus

    • 2 (16 ounce) cans garbanzo beans, drained
    • 1 c roasted red peppers (NOT from a jar)
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1/4 cup lemon juice
    • 2 tablespoons tahini
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/2 jalapeno, minced
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 3/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
    • pita bread or pita chips
    Directions
    In a food processor on low speed, combine the garbanzo beans, olive oil, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, and jalapeno until the ingredients start to blend.  Process until smooth. Season with black pepper, cayenne, cumin and oregano.  Add red peppers and garlic, then turn the speed to medium, and blend to your desired consistency.  Serve with warm pita triangles or pita chips.