Rosemary Parmesan Popcorn

Sometimes you just need to eat an entire bag of popcorn in one sitting. Sometimes you drizzle that popcorn with fattening goodness before eating it. And sometimes, you lay all the blame on the baby by telling yourself she wouldn’t be able to fully enjoy her movie unless there was popcorn involved.

Ok, you caught me. The above statement is totally something I did last week. Twice.

Little Darling is cutting a molar. Yippee! So she isn’t sleeping very well, isn’t eating very well, and in general is being a total grouch on most topics (lets not even talk about the bottle vs sippy cup issue). So I have been trying to make her happy and we have been having some treats this week.

One of those treats was a movie night, we netflixed a movie, ate popcorn, drank a huge bottle of milk (ok she did, I had long islands, don’t judge me), and stayed up way past our bedtime. She had a fabulous time.

We got the movie Home, it was recommended by my aunt who has a little one and she said it was totally kid friendly and really cute.

I know Little Darling loves popcorn, but I wasn’t feeling just a big bowl of puffed air that I normally get with my Aldi fit&active popcorn that has a whopping 20 calories per cup. I needed something more satisfying, with more flavor and deliciousness. Enter a fond childhood memory of my parents making us kids popcorn.

We had a hot air popcorn maker. Do those even still exist? It was old when we had it but it was AMAZING. My brother and I would always fight over who got to dump the kernels in and then we would hover over the yellow plastic top to watch them pop into popcorn and slowly rise up to fall out into the bowl.

Now my family was hard core about popcorn. We didn’t make a measly serving, we didn’t even make a couple servings. We had this metal bowl that, I kid you not, probably held a good 3 gallons of popcorn. The thing was huge. And we filled it to the brim with hot air popped goodness. Then my dad would melt butter in the glass measuring cup in the microwave and he would proceed with the magic process of buttering the popcorn.

He could spin that metal bowl like dradle, and then ever so slowly he would pour the melted butter into the spinning bowl. He would stop a few times to flip the popcorn, the popcorn artist that he was, with no spoon, no nothing, he would just flip the bowl up and the popcorn would fly into the air and then gracefully back into the bowl. Then we would salt it. Then we would all watch a movie and eat our way into diabetes. I am kidding, none of us have diabetes. I am really not sure how.. but we all have pretty good eating habits now.. must have gotten it all out of our systems. Until now.

I decided that now was as good a time as ever to introduce Little Darling to Diabetes this buttery goodness. Since we do not own a hot air popper, I made a bag of regular popcorn and then poured it into a bowl. I melted the butter in the microwave and poured it onto the bowl. Sadly, My bowl does not spin like my parents giant one, and I have yet to master the art of popcorn mixing with no hands. I had to use a wooden spoon to toss my popcorn. Then at the last minute I got creative and sprinkled in some rosemary and parmesan cheese. Ok, I added A LOT of parmesan cheese.

It was delicious. I mean it was DAMN DELICIOUS.

Little Darling, who normally watches movies by wandering around and playing and not paying a bit of attention to the tv, plopped her butt on the couch and watched the entire movie without moving. The only movement she made was to stick her skinny little arm out at me and motion for more popcorn like some tiny PJ clad mobster. I picked around and made sure she didn’t get any super buttery, salty, or cheesy pieces, those I, obviously, saved for myself.

The movie was super adorable!! It is all about this little alien who isn’t very well liked and ends up with a human girl who is searching for her mom. It was super super kid friendly. Other than a Busta Rhymes reference, I didn’t notice anything that could even remotely be inappropriate and even the Busta reference wasn’t bad, but most kids are not going to know who he is (most adults won’t either, I mean he was popular for, what, like 10 minutes?). My aunt said the music was annoying, but its a bubblegum pop instrumental version of How Low by Ludacris. Little Darling loved it and I am sure if she hadn’t had fistfuls of popcorn she would have been dancing along by the end.

We had so much fun that the next night we did the same thing with popcorn and a movie, except this time I let her watch a Hallmark Christmas movie with me. She wasn’t as interested in the movie and spent most of it playing but she would still come over and demand popcorn off me, sadly, there was no popcorn left either night because we ate it all.

Definitely not a habit to get into and do constantly, but it was so nice to watch some movies together and to have some junk food as a treat during a rough week. Besides, its the holidays, there are no rules at the Christmas time!

Christmas Bark

Christmas recipes galore!

First it was apples, then pumpkin, and now Christmas. Just think of how many ideas you will have for your own gifts to give to friends and family this year or next!

Before I realized I would be baking cookies until my eyeballs fell out, I was lacking on one last thing to fill up the Christmas baskets I am giving out. They had a good amount of nice things in them, but I felt like I needed one more treat to really fill up the tray and make it look extra fancy.

Little did I know that soon the Pampered Chef order would be coming in that I completely forgot about, that I would be struck with the motivation to bake 12 dozen cookies, or that the liquor store would have a sale on nip bottles. No one could have seen these events coming.

So I decided to make Christmas bark.

This is seriously one of the simplest things you can do and it has a phenomenal presentation, looking like you took a lot of time and effort to make it. Bag it up pretty and folks will think you slaved over this gift.

Are you ready?

Christmas Bark

Ingredients:

  • Red creme Oreos
  • Pretzels
  • Red and green M&Ms
  • Edible glitter
  • Melting chocolate (you need way more than you think you do)

All you do is crunch up some Oreos and pretzels and lay them on a baking tray, melt the chocolate in the microwave at 30 second intervals until smooth, pour it over the pretzels and Oreos. Before the chocolate sets, sprinkle on M&Ms and glitter. After the chocolate sets, break into pieces and serve.

Bam. It is gorgeous, festive, and so easy. It is nowhere near healthy, and you can almost feel yourself getting fatter as you eat it, but its PRETTY!

This can also, obviously, be customized to whatever holiday is (or isn’t) happening. I had grand plans of making this for Little Darlings party with gold glitter, yellow chocolate etc and calling it Pixie Dust Bark to go along with her Jake and The Neverland Pirates theme, but then I remember the chocolate drizzled popcorn we made for her baby shower and Pixie Dust Popcorn sounds so much cooler..But more on that after the party when I have pictures!

So there you have it, the next time you are stuck for an idea on what to gift or bring or anything just whip up some holiday bark and take it. People will rave and you will feel fancy.

Turkey Crescent Roll Ups

Back, a few weeks ago, right after Thanksgiving, I had a friend over to visit. We sat and talked and drank wine and watched sappy Hallmark Christmas movies. It was a fabulous girls night.

Around 6pm, my stomach started growling and I realized I had been so caught up in talking and visiting that I hadn’t even considered dinner. Damn.

I quickly trolled through Pinterest and my fridge and came up with these left over Thanksgiving turkey crescent roll ups. They were super easy, ready in about half an hour, and so delicious I am debating buying another turkey so I can make more..

Turkey Crescent Roll Ups

Ingredients

  • 1 package refrigerated crescent roll dough
  • approx 2 cups turkey (I didn’t measure this, I had a huge container of leftovers and just pulled some out)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • about 1 soup can of milk

unroll the crescent rolls and separate the pieces of dough. Mix the soup, milk, and cheese together. In a greased 9×13 pan, spread a couple spoonfuls of soup mixture. On each piece of dough, place some turkey and a spoonful of soup mixture. Roll it up and put it in the dish. When all the dough is rolled up, pour the remaining soup mix on top. Bake until golden brown.

I covered mine, thinking it would keep the rolls from burning on top but it mostly just made them take forever to bake, next time I wouldn’t cover it and just keep a close eye on it.

This was super easy and delicious and a great way to use up some leftover turkey. I wish I would have thought ahead enough and added a small spoonful of leftover cranberry sauce to each roll up. Yummmmm!

Stepford and the Kitchenaid Mixer

I didn’t grow up with a Kitchenaid mixer. Or any kind of mixer that wasn’t our hands, a fork, and rarely a hand mixer. When I would go to peoples houses and see a stand mixer two thoughts would enter my head:

  1. They must be SUPER rich, and
  2. They must be lazy as all hell

I mean what kind of person can’t be bothered to use a fork to mash their cookie dough together? Who doesn’t hand knead their bread dough? What a cop out!

I apologize for every silent judgement I ever had about these wonderful devices. I take back every bad thing I ever thought about stand mixers and anyone who uses them. They are obviously sent from heaven and people who use them are demi gods.

When MIL and I did cookies last weekend, she came bearing gifts (of course she did!! You know they never enter the city limits without having something for us or Little Darling) of everything we needed to make cookies, and their beloved, bayberry colored Kitchenaid mixer.

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At first, I was like I-cannot-believe-she-carted-this-thing-down-here, but within about 10 seconds of using it, I was like please-dont-ever-take-this-thing-away.

Let me just say. Holy God this thing is AMAZING.

Number one, it cuts the time of almost any recipe in half because instead of spending 15 minutes with a fork digging into the palm of your hand while you curse under your breath at the butter that wasn’t soft enough, you toss the butter into the mixing bowl and the mixer is like WHAM, BAM- butter is smeary and ready.

Number two, it keeps your fingers and hands clean, for the most part. There was an unfortunate incident where we thought we could fit a triple batch into the mixing bowl (for future reference, don’t do that) and we got pretty messy. But as long as you are just dropping ingredients in, it is pretty mess free.

Number three, it mixes everything perfectly. When you are normally biting into hunks of unmixed brown sugar and wondering why your cookies spread so funny or aren’t very chewy or any of those weird problems you encounter even though you followed the recipe exactly, that doesn’t happen with the stand mixer. Your cookies are perfectly mixed, and come out pretty beautifully.

This was my first time using a stand mixer and I was pretty much instantly in love. I am already looking for counter space I could open up so I can fit one permanently. I have made quite a few cookies in my life time, and I can say the cookies coming out of this stand mixer are by far the best cookies I have ever had and the chocolate chip cookies are bordering are best chocolate chip cookies I have ever tested ever, included the store bought ones and the bakery cookies. I mean it.

So. Grab yourself a stand mixer, and whip up a quick batch of chocolate chip cookies for you and your loved ones. Or maybe just for you since you will probably eat the whole batch before any one else eats one..

Chocolate chip cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups chocolate chips

Mix the butter, sugars, and vanilla in the stand mixer. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well in between each one. Slowly mix in flour, salt, and baking soda. Mix in the chocolate chips.

Drop spoonfuls onto cookie sheets covered with parchment paper. Bake 8-11 minutes until the edges are golden brown but the middle is still pale. Let cool for a few minutes before moving to wire racks to cool completely. Eat every cookie in one sitting  Enjoy.

Christmas Cookies

Growing up, one of the best things about the Christmas holiday was baking with my mom. We made huge batches of cookies and would spend hours icing them. We only ever made Gingerbread, Orange cookies, and snickerdoodles. I think because those are the only ones people liked? The recipes were super old and had been handed down for generations. We would always show up to my grandparents on Christmas eve with a huge platter of cookies.

When I was in college, moms interest in baking cookies kind of died out (I suspect that there was never a great love of cookie baking and she was simply doing it because it was a fun memory to be made with us kids) so one year I tried to do it myself. I ended up with an army of over 200 gingerbread men that lived in my freezer and got handed out to everyone I knew. Last year there were no cookies because I was so insanely pregnant I could barely move.

This year, I enlisted MIL to come help. She was looking for someone to help with her family recipes and I was looking for help wrangling Little Darling while I baked. We only managed to get two recipes done, but we had a great time doing it. Since then I have been sneaking in batches of chocolate chip cookies at night while Little Darling is sleeping and we have planned another baking day this weekend to get another large portion done.

My favorite christmas cookie, and probably all time favorite cookie ever, is my moms gingerbread recipe. It is soft and chewy and delicious. We ice them with a simple powdered sugar glaze and they are so good! Growing up we made them in circles because its easy, but I have been branching out into gingerbread men, boys, and even little house shaped cookie cutters.

Here is the recipe:

2 eggs
1 cup shortening
1 cup baking molasses
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup boiling water
2 tsp baking soda (dissolved in boiling water)
2 tsp ginger
2 tsp cinnamon

Add flour to make soft dough to roll
Bake at 375 for 5 or 6 minutes

That is the recipe as it was given to my mom a million years ago. I have learned to not over work the dough or your gingerbread men taste like dough boys. Not a good taste. I have no idea how much flour I ever use, I just mix until it is a nice dough that I can work with my hands.

After they have cooled down you can ice them. Here is my icing recipe:

4 Tbsp butter (melted)
2 cups powdered sugar
4 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla

Work with it until it is a good consistency to pour or spread, whichever you prefer.

I love these cookies, they are super delicious and the perfect addition to any holiday party.

CHRISTMAS IS COMING!

Ok. Big confession. ..

I LOVE Christmas.

Something about the holidays just makes me feel like a little kid again. Pretty lights on all the houses, the smell of pine everywhere, family get togethers, food, cookies, christmas movies.

Seriously, I get giddy when I think about it. I hate winter, but Christmas is a magical time.

The day after Thanksgiving (it used to be the day after Halloween, but I have been trying to give every holiday its due), I drag out our seven boxes of Christmas decor. I string lights, I decorate, I fluff tinsel, I bend wire, I tie stockings on the banister, I fight with Wonderful Husband about a real tree, a fake tree, or any tree at all. I listen to Christmas carols and my TV is continuously tuned to Hallmark to catch every Christmas romance movie. I bake, I wrap. Every day is fun and festive.

This year is even more magical because it is Little Darlings first real Christmas. Last year she was 4 days old and didn’t do much more than sleep, eat, and poop.  This year, she can walk, and aalllmost talk, and really enjoy the holiday. It makes me so happy that I can share the magic with my daughter.

The first thing I did this year was run the outdoor lights. I wanted to do just a strand of icicle lights on the porch roof and a light up tinsel tree on the front porch. However, my neighbor that I don’t get along with ran one strand of icicle lights and a light up wreath on her front porch. Under no circumstances can I even remotely match her, and I obviously must do better than her.

So I spent half an hour running lights up and down the banister and over the door and all over the tinsel tree. I climbed onto the porch roof and ran icicle lights. I was a light running maniac. Until I got to the outlet and realized I HAD STRUNG ALL OF THE LIGHTS BACKWARDS.  I futzed and I fiddled. I tucked and I pulled. I ran an extension cord. I called Wonderful Husband in a panic. I finally reran the entire left side of the porch and got it to light. Then I realized I had two sides of the porch and both sides were strung backwards. It was a long night with lots of alcohol, but I can proudly say that the front of my house is now sparkly and pretty (except that two strands of lights already burned out and I hate my life)

After the light incident, I decided Little Darling and I would go get a Christmas tree. With Wonderful Husband away at work, I get to pick whatever tree I want, Mwahahahahahahahaha!

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ITS A PLANTABLE TREE!!

It is a tiny, live, tree in a pot. We can keep it after Christmas and then when it gets too big we can plant it!

It wasn’t my idea, it was a friend of mine who gave me the idea when I said I wanted to get a small tree to put on the bar so Little Darling wouldn’t get into it. I was happy to find them at Lowes for only $59.

The “snow” is cotton balls on fishing line. This whole set up took me less than an hour.

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After tree decorating, when Little Darling was tucked happily into bed. I wrapped all the presents! Baskets for all our friends and family, wrapped presents for Little Darling, A few small bags for special friends/family, and two small gifts for Wonderful Husband.

After the package wrapping and tree decorating, I borrowed  a friends glue gun and updated my old ugly wreath.

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I bought this thing for $5 at a thrift store. It had the big red bow, but it also had weird pine cone and faded red packages and dust and dirt and disgusting-ness. I ripped everything off, bought ornaments off the clearance rack at Joann Fabrics for 60 cents a pop and glued them on. Instant pretty!

I have a few more things to do for Christmas, some chocolate to package, a few more gifts in the mail. But, so far, I am so happy with how the holidays are going. I have Little Darlings party invitations in the mail, I have her cake and food ordered, I have the christmas shopping done, I have most of it wrapped and finished. No stress. No mess. I only had to start in July! (no seriously, I started baking in July)

I love the holidays and I am so excited that I now have Wonderful Husband and Little Darling to start making new family traditions with!