Christmas food wrap-up

We had a wonderful Christmas holiday and hope that you did too! We celebrated with Brandon’s family in Idaho the weekend before Christmas, cooking and bringing nothing but a few bottles of wine.

Our Christmas Eve feast

Our Christmas Eve feast

We celebrated with my family on Christmas eve and brought several varieties of sweets. They look really nice plated together, don’t they?!

Christmas 2014 desserts

Christmas 2014 desserts (not pictured: raw chocolate macaroons)

All of my sweets were gluten-free and while none of the recipes were my own, I put my own creative flare on each of them. Here are the recipes for you to use as you see fit:

  • Polar bear peanut butter cups (So cute! However, these are crazy sweet! You’ve been warned! )
  • Raw chocolate macaroons (So good and so easy!)
  • Christmas tree meringues (We made several batches of these and while I would follow the instructions again, I would advise you to work quickly — the meringue liquefies if too warm — and don’t get too ambitious with the size of these trees. We found that keeping the base the size of a silver dollar worked best.

On Christmas day, Brandon and I had a leisurely morning and then hosted a brunch with my parents and Grandma. We cooked a feast and it was delicious! The frittata especially drew rave reviews.

Here was the menu:

  • Kale frittata
  • Aebleskivers with jam (a Danish Christmas specialty!)
  • Perfectly crispy hashbrowns
  • Turkey breakfast sausage
  • Assorted fruits
  • Orange juice

I started with this recipe for the frittata and then changed it… again.

  • Using the same technique, I made the following alterations:
  • I swapped the pepperoni for thin-sliced honey ham from the deli
  • I also swapped the Parmesan for reduced-fat smoked gouda from Trader Joe’s
  • I halved the onion, using only 1/2 a medium size onion
  • I added 1 c. of diced mushrooms. I cooked these and the onion down for about 10 minutes, prior to adding the other ingredients
  • I added a couple of pinches of the Pasta & Co. House Herbs (similar to Italian Seasoning)
  • Finally, I used too large of a frying pan, so I added 2 more eggs to even things out. It turned out great!
My off-the-cuff kale frittata

My off-the-cuff kale, ham and Gouda frittata

Abelskivers and sausage

Aebleskivers and sausage

Our Christmas morning spread!

Our Christmas morning spread!

After we went for a nice long walk, we also made tamales (from scratch!) on Christmas evening. I’m still working on that post and will share it soon!

I hope you’re enjoying your holidays and I’ll see you here {and on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter} soon!

 

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{Wine Wednesday} Christmas cookie & wine pairing

‘Tis the night before Christmas and I’m excited! We’ve been celebrating the holidays all month (sorry for my lack of posting!) and the next few days promise to be full of great company, food, and wine!

We’re celebrating Christmas with my family this evening and I’ve been assigned dessert for our feast. Here’s a sneak peek of some of the goodies we’re bringing:

White Reese's peanut butter cup polar bears

White Reese’s peanut butter cup polar bears

Meringue Christmas trees

Meringue Christmas trees

Leave it to VinePair to read my mind and send this “favorite Christmas cookie and wine pairings” infographic. Sadly none of the cookies we’re bringing are on this list. But, I’m sharing it with you in hopes that you’ll be able to better pair your cookies and wine. 

Have a wonderful Christmas eve and check back tomorrow for our magical 2014 family Christmas photo!

14-christmas-cookies-wine-pairings

 

 

3-D Husky tailgating cake

I kept a lot of you in the loop via Facebook and Instagram but for those of you who only follow me here, I wanted to show off this year’s tailgating feat: My husky cake!

Woof! Here's my University of Washington Huskies cake

Woof! Here’s my University of Washington Huskies cake

It didn’t turn out quite as well as I had hoped, but I was pretty pleased with the final product. (This cake was for the University of Washington football game against UCLA. Unfortunately the rare November Seattle sun turned the purple cake Bruin blue. Totally not cool. 100 percent Wilton food coloring fail!)

And now it's a Bruin cake!

And now it’s a Bruin cake!

This was the goal cake and I followed the instructions very closely. Unfortunately I didn’t have a large enough plate, so I had to freehand the shape, hence the squatty pup.

The original inspiration

The original inspiration

Here are some photos of the progress of the cake. Please excuse the poor lighting:

Baked cakes!

Baked cakes!

Frosting, I mean glue, I mean frosting!

Frosting, I mean glue, I mean frosting!

Cake progress!

Cake progress!

Huskies cake: assembled but not frosted!

Huskies cake: assembled but not frosted!  It’s 3-D!

Might I suggest you try making this cake for the Cactus Bowl on January 2? Gooooo Huskies!

Woof! Here's my University of Washington Huskies cake

Woof! Here’s my University of Washington Huskies cake

PAC 12 party pinatas

As you know, I love parties: attending and hosting. When I’m attending, I enjoy every little detail and special touches the host puts on the party to make it their own. When I’m hosting, I really like to do it right and I try to make sure every little detail is perfect. For my birthday last year, we hosted a tailgate for the University of Washington/Oregon football game.

This wasn’t just any tailgate. It was a tailgate with a PINATA! The pinata was definitely the star of the show and although the Huskies didn’t beat the Ducks the way we beat the pinata, I still felt pretty positive. I’m just bummed the videos and photo footage didn’t go viral. Maybe next time…

Oregon Duck Pinata

Back to the duck pinata. I did an exhaustive internet search (both Bing and Google images AND Pinterest) and I only found one (ONE!) Oregon Duck mascot-looking pinata, via Twitter. I reached out to the person who tweeted it and got the phone number of the seller. After my message was un-returned, I decided I could make it myself. (It’s kind of my mantra…)

It’s been about 10 years since I had even thought about paper mache, so I sought out a teacher. Lucky for me, one of my work friends fit the bill. Thank you, Patrick for all of your guidance!

First: Collect your materials. Patrick recommended Sta Flo starch, available at most grocery stores. I bought mine for ~$4 at QFC. I ended up using about a third of the bottle. (Meaning there was more left for that Cougar pinata…) I also used about three free small-sized newspapers. Make sure you find one that isn’t glossy. Look for your run-of-the-mill, classic newsprint paper. You’ll also need two normal-sized balloons (not yet blown up) and some painters tape. I used the 1/2″ thick blue version. I also used a cardboard ring that I found in the cat toy area and another cardboard box. You’ll create quite a mess, so have a large garbage bag and paper towels ready for clean up.

Paper mache supplies

Paper mache supplies

Next: Set up your station. Spread out your garbage bag and cut some of your newspaper into 1-1.5″ strips, about 7″ long. Blow up your balloons to the appropriate size: one is the abdomen (slightly larger, more oblong) and one is the head (smaller and more round).

Now let’s get messy:

1. Dip a handful of paper strips in the starch. Let them soak for 30 seconds to a few minutes.

2. Drape the wet strips over the balloon. This will be one of the messiest, most awkward steps. The balloons will get static-y and will roll around on their own and starch will get everywhere. That’s where your boxes/cardboard rings come into play. Plop those wet, paper covered balloons in the boxes and let them dry. (Likely overnight.)

Doesn't look like much yet... but it will!

Doesn’t look like much yet… but it will!

3. Repeat! You’ll need 3 layers or so, depending on your amount of starch and thickness of paper. Make sure each layer dries fully.

4. Once your last layer is dry and more-or-less hard, pop those balloons! Don’t worry if your  balloons sort of implode. Mine did and I was able to pop them back into the right shape. This is what they could (will most likely) look like:

Don't worry: it's supposed to look like this!

Don’t worry: it’s supposed to look like this!

5. Once the balloon is removed (it might stick a bit) trim up the openings a bit. Connect the two open edges and cut it so the head fits over the abdomen. Make sure there is some overlap, but as little of a gap as possible. Since this gap will be sealed up eventually, you’ll need to cut another opening. I prefer back or top of the head for my openings.

6. Once the base is complete, it’s time to determine your PAC 12 mascot and add the extremities and other features. I was having some issue visualizing the finished product on my first pinata, so I sketched the eyes, which helped me figure out the design for the beak. Use some cardboard (I used something similar to the back of a notepad) and a pen or pencil to curl the edges out a bit. Like this:

It looks a lot like a duck!

It looks a lot like a duck!

For the cougar I waded up more newspaper and created a nose and snout:

Cougar head

Cougar head

Side view of the Cougar snout

Side view of the Cougar snout

7. It’s a similar story for the limbs: design them off of the “body” and then attach them using painter’s tape. Don’t skimp on the tape. The more, the merrier. I crumpled and bent large sections of paper for the legs and then used a spiral tape pattern to make sure they kept their shape. I then taped on the hands and feet or paws, depending on your PAC 12 mascot. Cut holes where the limbs will go in the body and tape them in place. BEFORE YOU CUT: Make sure the hole is a little bit smaller than you think it needs to be. You can always scrunch the crumbled paper.

Leg hole!

Leg hole!

Duck limbs for days

Duck limbs for days

8. Once all of the pieces are ready, tape them together and your pinata will really start looking like an actual mascot.

Duck pinata: about half way done

Duck pinata: about half way done

Cougar pinata: About half way done

Cougar pinata: About half way done

9. Get out the starch and more strips of paper. Time for more layers! Put on another two layers of starched newspaper over everything, especially the seams. It’s boring and you have to be methodical, making sure that the whole area is covered. Just do it.

10. Once those layers are dry (each independently), bust out your solid white drawing paper. (Probably a normal printer paper would work too…) And it’s time to put another few layers on! The total number will depend on how thick paper is as well as how well it covers. I only needed one layer of the drawing paper.

One layer of white paper

One layer of white paper

A couple of layers of white

A couple of layers of white

11. Once all those layers dry, it should be time to fill the thing! For our Duck pinata we used some mini-sized Halloween candy, mini plastic tequila bottles (make sure they’re plastic!) and yellow and green feathers picked up from Michael’s. (The feathers were the best part of the pinata, so make sure you get those! I was thinking about including some cat hair leftovers in the Cougar pinata, but we’ll see. That could be really gross.)

I layered the fillings: feathers, candy, tequila. Repeat. But don’t fill too full. This thing has to be able to hang at its final location.

12. Hang it up! I made a hangman’s noose with yellow nylon rope with these instructions I found on Pinterest. (Yes, it was weird to “pin” noose instructions!)

Oregon Duck on a noose

Oregon Duck on a noose

Finished WSU Cougar pinata

Finished WSU Cougar pinata

Good luck on your pinata endeavor! Please leave any pinata-making feedback in the comments below. And, GO HUSKIES!!

{Wine Wednesday} Holiday wine crafts

WineWednesday

Last week, I asked you to save your bottles for this very post and the great ideas I am about to share. These ideas are for all-things wine and while I haven’t actually done any of them, I plan to before Dec. 25! All of my wine-related crafts can be found on my “Respect the Grape” Pinterest board.

Without further ado, here are the ideas:

Cork crafts:

Santa corks 

Santa corks

Gingerbread cork man 

Gingerbread cork man

Wine cork tree 

Wine cork tree

Snowman corks 

Snowman corks

Snowman wine tag 

Snowman wine tag

Glass crafts: 

Mr. & Mrs. Claus wine glasses 

Mr. & Mrs. Claus wine glasses

Gingerbread wine glasses 

Gingerbread wine glasses 

Christmas light glasses 

Christmas light glasses 

Naughty or nice? Pour accordingly with these glasses 

Naughty or nice? Pour accordingly with these glasses

Snowman wine glasses 

Snowman wine glasses

Bottle decor:

Gnome bottle covers

Gnome bottle covers

Christmas wine tags 

Christmas wine tags 

Happy crafting and happy wine Wednesday!