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Dec 27, 2010


Are you going to be throwing a New Year's Eve party? Here's an idea for a great appetizer: Cheese Fondue!
I have a recipe for you that tastes amazing and is even easy to make. I made it for our family's Christmas Eve dinner and it got rave reviews...one of my sisters-in-law said she loved it so much that she wanted to bathe in it. Mmmmm.....

You will need these three elements for a great fondue presentation:

1) A great warm cheese sauce. Most cheese fondue is made with wine and cheddar or swiss. But this one uses parmesan! It is different and delicious.

2) Bread. I use regular old french bread from the grocery store, but you can really not go wrong on the bread choice. Just cut it up into 1 1/2 inch cubes for dipping.

3) Blanched vegetables. You can choose any kind you want. The blanching just gives them a super-bright  glow and a perfect crunch. Just be careful not to leave them in the boiling water too long or they will lose their crunch.

That's it! You don't even need a real fondue pot...you can use a small crock pot or a soup tureen.

{Parmesan Fondue}
2 bricks cream cheese (I used Neufchatel)
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups grated parmesan
1 tsp garlic salt

Melt cream cheese and milk in a pan on low heat until warm and melted through. Add grated cheese and garlic salt and continue heating on med-low until heated through and cheese melts, but don't let it boil. This sauce isn't perfectly smooth, so don't worry...it's supposed to look a little grainy. Transfer to a fondue pot or small crock pot and dip breads and veggies in it.

Happy New Year!


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Dec 25, 2010

{To You And Yours...}

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Dec 21, 2010

{Pinecone Cheeseball}

Christmas isn't Christmas without our mom's Pinecone Cheeseball. No holiday season has passed without this appetizer's presence. The flavors mix perfectly, even though they might seem (at first glace) a little odd for cheeseball ingredients. But trust me...it's delicious. It's really easy to make and always impresses guests.

{Pinecone Cheeseball}
2 8-oz bricks cream cheese
1/2 packet Ranch Dressing dry seasoning mix
1 12-oz can crushed pineapple, drained very well
Whole roasted almonds

Mix ingredients together in a medium bowl. Scoop onto your serving dish, and with the back of a spoon, shape into the shape of a pinecone:

Starting at the bottom, stick almonds in (pointed side in), layering as you go up:


Add some sprigs of evergreen and a festive bow and you have an impressive holiday appetizer!



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Dec 20, 2010

{Handmade English Crackers}

Nope, not edible crackers...
Christmas crackerscandy and goodie-filled tubes that *CRACK* when the ends are pulled!

Granted, these simple homemade versions wont exactly *POP* when opened, but they sure are cute and fun to make.

Did I mention easy-peasy?  Really... in the time it takes to look over the following tutorial, you could have made some already!

Start by gathering your goods:

Helpful tip:  Use double-sided tape instead of a glue stick.  So much faster!

I'm making these three crackers for my nephew who has the cutest obsession with cars.
You can fill yours with anything that's small enough to fit into a toilet-paper or paper-towel roll.

Start with one sheet of tissue paper.

Fold it in half.
Tape the empty tube to the paper.
Place glue or tape in a few places around the tube and roll it up.

Now tie off one end of the wrapped tube.

Now that one end has been tied off, it's time to add the goodies inside!


Once the treats are safe inside the tube, tie off the other end.
Snip the remaining tissue paper ends and fluff them up.


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Dec 19, 2010

{Crochet Chain Garland}

I made this crochet chain using the only crochet stitch I know -- the double crochet.
It's fast and simple and looks great!

If you need a refresher course on crocheting, or want to start for the first time, there are tons of awesome video tutorials on YouTube. Just search for "How To Crochet For Beginners" or something of the sort. (I'm still trying to master the flowers... sadly, it's not happening. Straight lines for me, thank you!)


Step 1:  Crochet a bunch of strips the same length and width
(I made mine by chaining 20, double-crochet back once, then double-crochet back again, so 3 crochet lines total)

Step 2:  Once all of your strips are completed, start sewing them together, one by one.
Thread each un-sewn strip through a completed sewn circle.

Step 3:  Continue sewing all of your strips together until your garland is at your desired length

Then hang it in a place in your house that makes you happy!



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Dec 18, 2010

{Chocolate Peppermint Chip Cookies}

I'm not sure if it's because it's in our name, or because 'tis the season for candy canes...
 but lately I've been obsessed with

So when my friend Carie, the best cookie baker I know, shared her recipe with me, I knew I was in big trouble. As in the I-need-to-give-plates-of-these-cookies-to-neighbors-really-quick-or-I'll-eat-the-whole-batch-by-myself kind of trouble. But that hasn't stopped me from making them twice in a week!

You can only get these Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips around Christmas time. I have seen them at Wal-Mart and King Soopers. The bag describes them as "Creamy Chips with Bits of Peppermint Candy." Let me tell you...these things are magical. They give just the right amount of peppermint flavor, and the lightest, tiniest, perfect-est crunch. You must try them to see what I mean!

{Chocolate Peppermint Chip Cookies}

1 1/2 sticks butter
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups flour
5 oz (1/2 bag) Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips

Cream butter and sugars, and then add eggs and vanilla. Gradually add dry ingredients. Roll into balls and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand:

Bake at 350* for 10 minutes.

These chocolate cookies are delicious on their own, or rolled in sugar, or with white  or regular chocolate chips. Pretty much anything you add would be good, because this is a fabulous recipe.
Chewy goodness with just the right chocolate flavor.
Thanks, Carie!

Let me know if you try them!


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Dec 17, 2010

{Sewn Paper Candy Pouch}

These sewn pouches are really fun and easy to make!
You can probably use any paper and any candy you like (as long as it hides nicely inside)
I used brown/craft/postal paper for these.  It's thick enough to hold its shape, but thin enough to sew with the sewing machine.

Things you will need:

sewing machine

Lay out the candy you want to hide inside and draw your desired shape around it, leaving enough room to sew.

Next, set the candy aside and cut out the shape you have drawn.
Make sure the paper is folded in half so you will get 2 exact shapes.

Sew around the edges of your shape, leaving one side/corner/bit open to slide the candy in before you completely sew it up.

Like so:

Once the candy is tucked nicely inside, finish sewing up the pouch.
Leave a few longer strings of thread hanging off to give a good starting point for the tearing into.

That's all there is to it!  If you use blank paper like this craft paper, you could easily stamp or write anything you want on them.  I preferred to keep mine simple.

These would make great stocking-stuffers or class/church treats or even potty-training tools!  What toddler wouldn't love tearing into one of these pouches with a hidden gummy bear inside?



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Dec 15, 2010

{Miniature Christmas Symbols Kit}

I will be teaching the children at my church about the symbols of Christmas on Sunday.
I want them to be able to have something to take home and share with their families, so (with my mom's help) I came up with this cute little kit for each family.

I found all these minis at Hobby Lobby and Michael's.

I typed up, printed, and laminated a small card that briefly tells
about what each Christmas symbol means and put it, along with the symbols, into a little ziploc baggie (also from Hobby Lobby).
Just to put these into perspective...that candy cane is an inch tall.

You could attach one of these tiny kits onto a plate of goodies and it would make a thoughtful gift for neighbors and friends!

*** EDITED TO ADD:  A better printable!


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