Tag Archives: holiday

Christmas Recipe: Eggnog Cupcakes

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Christmas is the time of year for friends and family, but almost as importantly for baking, eggnog, and rum!  In an effort to make the most delicious holiday dessert known to man, I decided to seek out a recipe for eggnog cupcakes.  I had the criteria that this ultimate recipe had to contain both rum  and eggnog in both the cake and frosting.  I found the perfect recipe on Annie’s Eats Blog.  You can find a link to the original recipe here.  I mainly only modified the recipe for use as mini cupcakes.  I also used Sailor Jerry spiced rum, a family favorite around this time of year!

Cake Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ cup spiced rum
  • 1 cup eggnog
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sugar

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 2½  sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2½ cups powdered sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 2½ tablespoons eggnog
  • 1 tablespoon spiced rum
  • cinnamon for dusting

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line the mini muffin tins with mini muffin cups.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg.  In a large bowl, combine the rum, eggnog, vegetable oil, cider vinegar, vanilla, and sugar.  Slowly add the dry ingredients to the large bowl with the wet ingredients.  Mix well.

2.  Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 of the way full.  I used a cookie scoop to do this and it worked very well.  Bake for 16-18 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  When you are able to handle the cupcakes, transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

3.  In a large bowl, whisk the butter on medium-high speed until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar, salt, and nutmeg and whisk until well incorporated and smooth.  Add the eggnog and rum.  Whisk until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.

4.  Frost the cupcakes using your desired frosting method and dust with cinnamon.  I used the Wilton dessert decorator plus since I have had trouble in the past with pastry bags.  I have to say, it was awesome!

The frosting did turn out a little too buttery for my taste, but others loved it…It may just be due to the fact that I actually saw how much butter went into it!

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Holiday Gift Guide: Find the Perfect Gift for Him

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Boys.  They are so hard to shop for!  If they want it, they already have it…so where does that leave us ladies at Christmas time?  Staring blankly at lists of useless gadgets in the hopes that we will find a piece of junk that he will find interesting for at least one day before it gets tossed. Well, we all have one weekend left to figure it out!  If you live in the Portland area, there are several fun craft shows going on this weekend where you might be able to find something unique.  They include the Handmade NW Formal Artisan’s Fair, Crafty Underdog, and the 3rd Annual Heart of Craft Show.  There may also be time to have items shipped.  Just be sure to let the seller know that you need it by Christmas!

Well, I think I have my husband’s gifts set this year, but most of the time it is a giant struggle to find the right thing!  While I am by no means then expert on the subject, I have compiled the following list of items that I have (or would) buy for my man.  Hopefully this helps!  Happy hunting!

Stocking Stuffers

What about some beer soap?  It is a funny, yet useful gift that is sure to put a smile on his face! There are several shops on etsy that sell it.  The picture on the right is from Anderson Soap Company.

Beer Soap By Anderson Soap Company

Flasks seem to be really big right now.  As you’ve seen in previous posts, I have a fun chalkboard flaskin my etsy shop.  You could write him a little message on the flask and wrap it up!  If chalkboard is not what you are looking for, try searching for your perfect flask on etsy…they have thousands of unique choices!

Chalkboard Flask By Elation Greetings

A wallet is a great choice.  Just don’t go to the department stores to get it.  There are many, many great hand made wallets out there that can suit any taste.  Myfavorite have to be the duct tape wallets by jDuct.  Note that they also sell some awesome flasks!

Duct Tape Wallet by JDuct

Finally, in the category of smaller items, why not consider a wooden guitar pick if your guy plays.  They look awesome and supposedly improve your grip.  You can find the one below at NuevoWoodcrafts.

Wooden Guitar Pick by NuevoWoodcrafts

Drink

If your guy is one who likes to imbibe, some mulling spices would be a great, inexpensive gift.  I have found cans at the grocery store for around $5.  YOu can also look up a recipe and make some yourself.  The best par is that they work great with both apple cider, and surprisingly, wine!

Whisky stones make a great gift for the guy who loves his scotch!  They keep your drink cold, without watering it down.  They also supposedly do not absorb refrigerator odors.  We found this not to be the case, so think carefully about where you store them!  ThinkGeek has them for only $20.  I have also seen them at high end kitchen stores.

Whiskey Stones at ThinkGeek

Home Brewing has become a really, really popular hobby here in Portland.  If you thin your man would be interested in starting it up, you can get a starter kit from your local brew store that includes the basic equipment that he would need.  There are also ingredient kits that can help get him started on his way to brewdom!

If he is already a brew master, making him some kick ass labels might be a fun gift!  You can design them yourself and print them on sticky paper, or have someone else do the design for you.  Girl In Gear Studio has these great ones ready to go!

Beer Labels by GirlInGearStudio

More Gadgets

My husband is both into hiking and photography.  lugging a big heavy tripod on a hike is not really very fun, but he has a Gorilla Pod, which works great!  Now we don’t have to spend half an hour looking for the perfect rock to rest the camera on for our “here we are” photo!  You can find these babies at REI.

gorillapod at REI

I have seen both expensive and inexpensive versions of Tech gloves around recently.  They allow you to use your smart phone without removing your gloves!  How handy!  You can now find these fancy gloves at REI, Target, and my personal favorite, SockDreams!

Tech Gloves At Sock Dreams

This last one sounds so silly, but trust me, he will LOVE it.  It’s a green laser.  This is not just any laser.  It is super bright and can travel up to 5 miles.  Not only is it fun to play with, but it is very useful if you are into astronomy at all.  I have purchased them for my dad, husband, and groomsmen at our wedding from z-bolt.  They even come in a fancy box that you can personalize!

Laser Pointer From Z-Bolt

Get Him Out of The House

If all else fails, get him something that gets him out of the house!  With all of the groupons floating around recently you could easily get him some golf lessons or a paintball session with his friends.  Better yet, get all of your friends to get the same thing for their guys…then the boys can all have a day out together!

DIY Christmas Wreaths: 5 Wreaths You Can Make to Decorate Your Home

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Grape Vine Wreath

A few years ago, I thought that it would be fun to make a little wreath to help decorate my home for Christmas.  I expected it to be somewhat difficult and time-consuming, but the opposite was true!  It turns out that making your own christmas wreaths (if you start with a base) is really, really easy…and you get some gorgeous results!  The wreath that is pictured above is my own creation.  I just purchased a grape-vine wreath and some artificial flowers and berries from the craft store and threw it all together in less than an hour!  I just used hot glue and crafting wire to hold everything together, and made a little hook out of crafting wire for the back.  It was super simple, and has been a part of my holiday decorations for years!  It got me to thinking though, what other awesomely easy Christmas wreaths are out there to make?  I did a little searching and this is what I came up with.

One of my favorite looks for wreaths has been the cluster of christmas ornaments.  They are just so bright, shiny, and festive that you can’t help but stop to admire them!  Turns out, they are not too hard to make either!  I found a great tutorial on Matt and Becky’s Blog.  You can see their results below, and I have to say they did a beautiful job!

Matt and Becky's Ornament Ball Wreath

Recently, I have been seeing a lot of felt flowers around.  I love how soft and cute they are!  Jen, from Tater Tots and Jello has shared her sister’s awesome tutorial for how to make a gorgeous wreath and even provides a link showing how to make one of her favorite felt flowers.  It all came together quite nicely, and looks fantastic!

Felt Flower Wreath from Tater Tots and Jello

Recently, I have been intrigued by all of the awesome things that you can do with paper…particularly recycled paper.  I have seen many, many fun crafts that can be done using old toilet paper tubes.  Of course, making a wreath out of them is on the list!  See you there design provides a great tutorial for making a really cute wreath out of recycled toilet paper and paper towel tubes.  Just don’t forget the most important tool of all…that glass of your favorite wine!

See You There Design's Cardboard Tube Wreath

Finally, it wouldn’t be right to have a post about Christmas wreaths without a tutorial on how to make the classic fresh fir wreath.  Let’s be honest…nothing beats the real thing!  Save-on-Crafts has a great post with directions for how to make your own fresh greenery wreath.  There is also some discussion about different wreath forms and many more ideas for making some awesome wreaths!

Fresh Wreath

How to Cook a Turducken: My Turducken Experience

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Turducken!

I have always been intrigued by the idea of doing a turducken for Thanksgiving.  Nothing seems more like a feast than stuffing a turkey with a duck and a chicken!  I have seen turducken available at the store for several years now, but they look more like a weird, processed turkey ham than an actual turkey, so I have avoided them.  Recently, it occurred to me that I could just stuff one myself.  The one problem with this concept was that I would have to de-bone all three birds myself.  This was a task that I was really not looking forward to, and almost killed the thought of doing a turducken at all this year.  I called around, however, and found that not only could I buy a turkey, duck, and chicken at whole foods, but that they would de-bone all three for me…for free!  At that movement, it was decided.  On the spot, I ordered a 12 to 16 pound turkey, a 4 pound duck, and a 3 pound chicken and started looking for instructions on how to cook this beast!

De-Boned Turkey, Duck, and Chicken from Whole Foods

I found conflicting results on the temperature to cook at, and the length of time cooking would take.  The only recommendation that whole foods had for me was to cook the beast low and slow.  I settled on 300 degrees, and based on my research assumed it would take 5 hours to roast (in reality, it took 7, and that was after we got desperate and raised the oven temperature around hour 6).

First thing in the morning, I made up a batch of my cornbread stuffing with apricot and pancetta (minus the chicken broth).  I also made a batch of sausage and cornbread dressing (minus the chicken broth), a recipe that I found on Allrecipes.com.  We were planning to eat around 6, so I got to work assembling the bird a little after 11am.  I opened the paper to find a nearly totally de-boned turkey.  I had expected them to leave the wings and drumsticks intact, but only the wings remained.  There were also no giblets or bones reserved for my stock, as requested…we made it work though.

De-Boned Turkey

I laid out the turkey, seasoned with salt and pepper, and added a layer of sausage and cornbread dressing.

Turkey with Sausage and Cornbread Dressing

Next, I laid out the duck, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and added a layer of the cornbread stuffing with apricot and pancetta.

Duck with cornbread stuffing

I repeated this with the chicken, seasoning with salt and pepper, and adding cornbread stuffing with apricot and pancetta.

Chicken with Cornbread Stuffing

Next, I folded together the sides of the chicken.

Fold together the chicken

I also folded together the duck, and used a metal skewer to hold it together.

Fold together and skewer duck

I repeated this with the turkey, leaving the skewer for the duck in place temporarily.

Skewer the back of the turkey

I then flipped the turkey onto it’s back and removed the skewer from the duck, leaving the skewer for the turkey in place.  Since the legs were de-boned, I filled them with stuffing and tied them with butcher’s twine.

Tie legs with butcher's twine, if necessary.

I then carefully placed the bird into the pan, tucking in any extra skin.  I sprinkled it with paprika, covered with foil, and stuck him in the oven!

Place the Turducken breast side up in a roasting pan. Cover with foil until the last hour of roasting.

At 300 degrees, I would recommend allowing 7 to 9 hours for cooking.  The internal temperature of all layers should be at least 165 degrees.  Also, allow the beast to rest for 30 to 60 minutes before cutting.  The cooler the bird, the easier it is to cut and see the beauty of all layers of poultry and stuffing!

Allow the birds to rest for 30 to 60 minutes before cutting.

For the record, the turducken turned out amazing!  I served it on hot plates, and it helped keep the meal hot at serving time, even after letting the bird rest for so long.

I hope this has been helpful!  Enjoy the Holidays and all that they have to offer…including turducken!

Halloween Decorations: How to Make Cheesecloth Ghosts

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Halloween is just around the corner, and I have been thinking up fun, crafty ways to decorate.  Thinking back, I remember making cute, spooky ghosts using cheesecloth and Elmer’s glue.  In fact, my crafting career started with these cute little guys!  When I was about 12 years old, I had a booth in a children’s craft fair where I sold Halloween decorations that included these cheesecloth ghosts.  Back then, I remember staying up late into the night adding the final touches to my spooky creations.  Embellishments included witches hats, broomsticks, top hats, canes, and tiny trick-or-treat bags that actually contained candy.

I recently decided to give these guys another try.  I had the Charlie Brown Halloween Special, “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” in mind as my inspiration.  With the help of good friend, we were able to create four costumed characters.  My husband and I set them up in our back yard and created the above photo.

If you want to make your own spooky decorations, here are the instructions for these cheesecloth ghosts:

What You Need:

  • Wax Paper
  • Plastic Bottle
  • Dowels or Pencils
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Water
  • Elmer’s Glue
  • Shallow, Disposable Dish
  • White Cheesecloth*
  • Embellishments, As Desired

Directions:

1.  Spread out the wax paper on your working surface, taping together if needed to protect your table and keep your ghost from sticking.

2.  Create a form for your ghost using the plastic bottle, dowels, and aluminum foil.  Get creative with this!  You can use large or small bottles, styrofoam balls, sticks from your yard, or anything else that you find to make a form.  Just make sure that it won’t stick to the cheesecloth, and is relatively sturdy.

3.  Mix one part water and two parts glue in the dish.  Cut the cheesecloth into approximately 3 inch wide strips and coat with the glue mixture.  Remove the excess glue with your fingers, spread out the cheesecloth, and drape it over your mold.

4.  Repeat step 3 as needed until your mold is covered with several layers of cheesecloth, and you are happy with the way that the ghost looks.  Allow the ghosts to dry for at least 24 hours before removing them from the mold.  They should be dry to the touch.

5.  While the ghosts are cute on their own, you can add hats, eyes, and props to really make these cute decorations stand out!

*Note: You can purchase cheesecloth at the craft store, at the grocery store in the kitchen department, or at the hardware store.  Just make sure to get white cheesecloth, as it also comes in a natural color for more industrial purposes.