Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Baking

Who needs dinner this week when all we will be doing is eating the sweets that are all around us this time of year? I just finished my grocery list for all the yummy goodies I want to bake to give as gifts to our neighbors, family, and Luke's old coworkers. 

Here's the plan:
Peanut Butter Blossoms 
I got this recipe from my Aunt Becky and it is so easy and so yummy! There are many different variations on this recipe I'm sure but these turn out so soft and perfect every time I don't think I'll ever try another recipe. I am a huge fan of peanut butter and chocolate and these look so cute on a plate. Plus, they are so great for little hands to help with -- unwrapping all those Hershey kisses and  rolling the dough in sugar before baking.
Peanut Butter Blossom
Photo from here.

1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
3/4 - 1 Cup peanut butter 
1 egg
2 C Bisquick
Hershey Kisses

In a large mixing bowl, beat sweetened condensed milk, peanut butter, egg, and vanilla until smooth.  Add Bisquick and mix well, Chill at least 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350. Shape dough into 1 inch balls and roll in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cooking sheet. Bake 6-8 minutes until lightly browned. While they are baking unwrap the Hershey kisses. When cookies come out of the oven, immediately press a kiss into the center.
Makes about 48 cookies.

Oreo Truffles
Yum!! Cream cheese and Oreo's -- how can you go wrong? These look really pretty on a plate and because they are pretty rich you can get away with only putting a few on a plate to share.
Pinned Image
Photo from  here.

1 pkg. Oreos, divided
1 pkg. cream cheese, softened
2 pkg. (8 squares each) Baker's  semi-sweet chocolate, melted

Crush 9 cookies to fine crumbs, set aside.  Crush remaining cookies to fine crumbs. Place in medium bowl and add cream cheese. Mix until well blended. Roll mixture into 42 balls, 1 inch in diameter. 
Dip balls in melted chocolate. Place on a waxed paper covered baking sheet. Sprinkle with reserved crumbs. 
Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

 Maybe I'm crazy for trying a new recipe to give as gifts but these look delicious and hard to screw up! 

Pinned Image

Again, another new recipe but they look so delicious! She has a great step by step tutorial that will make them easy to try.  

I think that's going to do it this year... if I get really brave I'm going to try Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls but that's if I'm bored and looking for something to do, which I highly doubt will be the case.

And to work off all this lovely baking and eating I want to enjoy -- here's a quick easy workout you can do while your food is baking in the oven. 
Found this here.

Happy  baking and Merry Christmas!

* I changed the comments section and you don't have to be a member now to leave comments! Please comment away! *

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hand Print Christmas Tree

We made these adorable hand print Christmas trees with two other friends and their kids yesterday. It was fun (messy, chaotic, fun) project to do together. They turned out so cute and were all so different. I love that it's a reminder of how small their hands are and will be a fun decoration to get out every year since it's on canvas. I found the original idea for this here.

Supplies you'll need:

3 year old Kasen
  • Green acrylic paint (we did a dark shade and a light shade)
  • Brown paint
  • Gold paint,
  •  Red paint 
  • Paint brushes, 
  • Canvas (as big or small as you'd like)

I used a foam brush and painted Norah's hand dark green - we did four hand prints for the sides and five across the bottom. I stuck with the same hand for the entire tree but it probably would've been cute to do her opposite hand on the other side of the tree so her thumbs were out on both sides - live and learn I guess. Then it was on to Stella's hands -- I did hers in a lighter shade of green and we filled in the spaces in the middle as best we could. I painted the trunk with brown and added the star with gold paint and gold glitter paint. (I wish I could say Norah painted that star because it's not my best work and looks like a 3 year old did it but sadly, it's my own work.) I wish I would've made it with a pencil and then painted it on - live and learn again I guess. Then we decided it could use a little more color and we just used red to make little dots as ornaments in the white spaces. One of the girls had some gold and red glitter puffy paint and she went over her star and ornaments with that and it looked really good too.  A small 2011 in the corner and our piece of art was ready to hang up. If you notice on Denai's tree she used her almost 3 month olds little feet as the trunk - super sweet touch! A friend that saw it today said she might paint the canvas red and then do the tree on top of it - anyway you do it it's going to look adorable and the imperfections and smudges are what make it cute.
3 year old Norah and 1 1/2 year old Stella
3 year old Catalina and 3 month old Aida

Sunday, December 11, 2011

What's for Dinner?

Another week closer to Christmas! This week I might try to start wrapping gifts since I've had two rather large Amazon boxes sitting on my porch for a few days because I just haven't been ready to deal with them yet. Getting closer to being done  -- my goal is to be all done by Friday so I can enjoy doing some baking the week before Christmas. My sister in law and I are planning a holiday dinner for this weekend with our families and our in-laws. If it's a good menu I'll be sure to share it!

Here's what's for dinner at our house this week:

Chicken Rollatini with Prosciutto & Cheese (because I have left over prosciutto from an awesome pizza recipe and I don't know how else I'd use it), Vegetable & Spinach Salad

Meatball and Spaghetti Soup, French Bread, Sliced Fruit

Roasted Potatoes, Chicken Sausage & Peppers, Salad

Turkey Chili Taco Soup

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Feel Good Friday on a Saturday

This definitely counts as a "feel good" event and I'm so glad we were able to do this as a family. We got up this morning and rang the bell with Luke and one of his Sunrise Rotary buddies for the Salvation Army in downtown Chico. A beautiful, crisp, winter morning, warm jackets, coffee and lots of people out Christmas shopping were the perfect combination for our morning of bell ringing and handing out candy canes. The girls loved ringing the bell and Norah handed out candy canes to anybody that would take one.  And, how you could pass a candy cane up from that little sweetheart, I don't know.
We saw people from all walks of life donate money - from a handful of change to ten dollars bills they donated their money to those that could use it.  I was the most touched by the man who was dressed in dirty, wrinkled clothes, looked like he could have used a shower and a shave and walked up and donated some change. Now, I know that you can't judge a person by what they are wearing or how they look -- he very well could have been a successful businessman who was taking it easy on his weekend --  but he also could have been someone who needed every quarter he had and he still found a way to give. I will always try to have change to donate or to give to the girls to donate when we are out shopping and I hope ringing the bell will stay one of our Christmas traditions.

Luke rocking the red apron and Norah adding some coins to the pot.
Our little bell ringer.

Dancing, shaking, and smiling the whole time she rang the bell.

Taking a little break from bell ringing and handing out candy canes.

"We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give."  
Winston Churchill

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Lean & Mean


Start 2012 off on the right foot!  Build lean muscle, get your heart rate up and have fun!  A combination of resistance training and high intensity cardio intervals will be used to make you “lean and mean.” All levels are welcome as you’ll set your own pace and no coordination is needed.  Please bring 5-10 lb. hand weights and water.  Come prepared to sweat and feel the burn!

Monday/Thursday starting January 2nd for 8 weeks from 5:15-6:15 p.m.
 at the Orland Rec Center

Instructor:  Lindsay Reimers

$40 including childcare
$30 without childcare

You can sign up early at the Rec Center or the first night of class.  Make checks payable to Orland Rec Department.                                                        
 Call 865-1630 for more information or to sign up.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What Can We Make?

Toilet Paper Roll Bird Feeders:
What a fun morning craft this was! I've been wanting to do some sort of craft with birdseed to hang in the trees for the hungry birds and squirrels around here and this was the perfect one. (I found this idea here). Norah loved this -- she sat at the table and worked on spreading the peanut butter with her little knife very content for quite a while. The perk of this activity is that it is also a snack (the peanut butter, not the birdseed!). In between smearing the peanut butter on the roll she'd take a little lick and enjoy her snack. Stella is not quite at the age to appreciate the fun in this craft; she basically ate her bowl of peanut butter then asked for a banana. Can't fault her for the peanut butter/banana combination though - that's one of my favorites!
We spread peanut butter all over four rolls, two toilet paper and two paper towels, then it was on to the fun part - rolling them in birdseed. We covered the rolls the best we could then used a string to be able to hang them from the tree, (you could also just stick the roll directly on the branch).

Spreading the peanut butter on the tp roll (and below is a picture of Luke on our wedding place mats).
Stella quickly decided eating the peanut butter straight was a much better idea.

The fun part!

Now a paper towel roll.

The finished products ready to hang in a tree.

Stella had more fun carrying the feeders to the tree than actually making them.
Bird feeders waiting for hungry birds to find them . . . 
And instead a hungry kitty found them . . .

Saturday, December 3, 2011

What's for Dinner?

Since we are out of town in Reno till Monday I tried thinking of a few meals we'd eat this week before we left. Seems like the evenings are getting busier and busier with parties, dinner with friends, shopping, and all the other fun stuff I love about Christmas, so I'm still trying to make a conscious effort to have healthy meals at home.

Oven Baked Chicken Fajitas, Brown Rice, and some sort of vegetable

Chicken Pot Pie Soup, Salad ( If you are looking for a good salad idea I made a great spinach salad with strawberries, blueberries, feta, toasted walnuts and used Lucero's Peach Balsamic with a tiny bit of olive oil on it --  it was delicious! It earned rave reviews from the ladies at our book club dinner on Thursday! Love, love, love Lucero Olive Oil and all of their products.

Lemon Feta Chicken with Oregano,  (I think I'm going to use chicken breast since that's what I already have) I might have to make that Broccoli Orzo from last week to go along with this.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Feel Good Friday

Here we are in December and the countdown for Christmas is on!
 I was recently reading a blog where she did a Random Act of Kindness each day leading up to Christmas with her kids and I fell in love with the idea. (I have a girlfriend who did something similar for her 30th birthday, you can read about it here.) I knew I wanted to try this this year and I hope we can make this a tradition for our family in the years to come.  It is a good reminder, for us and our children, that Christmas isn't about the gifts we receive but it's about the joy of giving to others. For now we are going to use Friday's as our RAK Day; I hope you'll join me.
 I used these printables and  decided to spread some Starbucks cheer today. I love my Starbucks and think most people would agree. I bought four $5 gift cards and attached them to the card I printed. On the gift card itself I wrote: For: You, From: ,? Price: $5 Merry Christmas! Please spread the cheer!

We had so much fun driving around and letting the girls help pick out which cars to leave them on; we left one in the parking lot of a middle school, in the Denny's parking lot, Safeway parking lot, and Premier West parking lot.  Throughout the morning we talked about the surprise someone would get when they walked to their car and I asked Norah how she thought the'd feel, "very happy"  she replied. Yep, I'd have to agree.