Monday, December 17, 2018

Weekend Round-Up

Best quote of the week 
“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmastime.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder

Worth Noting-very little snow as the temps soared to 49. A real heat wave for December 16th in Minnesota!  

The yuletide season is well on its way. I made a quick trip to Bachmans Annual Holiday Idea House just in time as Sunday was their last day. This year, as a nod to the sometimes nostalgic and traditional plaid, the Idea House welcomed modern luxury as a twist. Plaid went glam and modern by mixing in galvanized textures, mixed metals and lots of glimmering lights in every room. Nearly every item in the Holiday Ideas House was priced for sale in the main store. Each room of this historical home had a distinctive decor filled with inspirational decorations alongside fresh seasonal arrangements, trees, wreaths, and garlands. The house was brimming with inspiration and ideas galore.
Here's a genius idea in my estimation. Each panel was a table runner to create these curtains above the sink so no sewing was involved. The tension rod came from Ikea with rings that had little clips (like small clothes pins) to hold the curtain panels up.  
These plaid curtains below are perfect for another small window. The curtains are dish towels. Just think, you could change your curtains all the time with this idea. The rod and clips are the same ones used above with table runner. 
A reindeer bar idea that was totally overlooked by Ever Ready Postings, a    
Hot Chocolate Bar with all the toppings.
Festive looking tree to put you in the holiday mood as well as 
a brightly decorated kitchen and 
luxurious looking bedroom 
and a sign outside that caught my attention.
Most creative appetizer of the week
Thanks to Joni for this idea.
Christmas Olive Tree 
You will need 
one Styrofoam Christmas tree shape from a craft store
3 different bottles of olives
1 bottle of pickled onions
Start at the bottom and work you're way up arranging olives on toothpicks to secure to the Styrofoam.
Cook's tip Save the bottles with their juices in case there are some leftovers that need to be saved. 

Current book I am reading 

Becoming like Michelle Obama herself, the book is both eloquent and relatable. And well written as Obama talks about becoming her, becoming us, and finally, becoming more. 
A  definite put on your December/January list.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Holiday Brunch

Hash Brown and Egg Breakfast Cups

Cook's Notes: Add a spin to your holiday entertaining with Hash Brown and Egg Breakfast Cups. Recipe was adapted from   and makes 12 breakfast cups. Refrigerate leftovers and reheat during the week for a quick breakfast pick me up. Be creative as there are plenty of options for this recipe that include: diced ham, broccoli florets or make vegetarian cups with spinach and peppers. 
  • 1 package Jimmy Dean Sausage 
  • 3 cups refrigerated shredded hash browns
  • 2 TB. butter, divided
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup combination of diced sweet mini peppers 
  • 3/4 cup diced sweet onions
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 7 eggs
  • 1/4 cup whole or 2 % milk
  • 1 TB hot sauce e.g. Sriracha
  • 1 tsp. parsley flakes
 Step One
  • Brown sausage, crumble and drain and wipe pan clean. Set aside. Saute peppers and onions  for 3-4 minutes in 1 TB. butter. Add in garlic cloves, and saute 2 minutes. 
  • Combine sausage, peppers, onions and garlic. This step can be done ahead, refrigerate until needed.     
Step Two 
  • Spread refrigerated shredded hash browns patted dry out on a baking sheet for 1-2 hours to dry out a bit. 
  • Toss with 1 TB. melted butter, shredded cheddar cheese, salt and pepper mix well. 
Step Three
  • Generously grease muffin pan wells.

Step Four 
  • Preheat oven 425 degrees and press heaping 1/4 cup hash brown mixture into bottom and up sides of muffin wells. 
  • Bake 10 minutes until starting to brown.    
Step Five 
  • Whisk together eggs, milk, parsley flakes and Sriracha. 
Step Six
  • Divide sausage mixture evenly over hash brown cups (about 1/4 cup). Slowly pour  milk/egg mixture over sausage mixture. 
  • Bake 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from center. Loosen cups from pan by running a knife around edges.  
Looking for more brunch ideas? Try some of these previously posted recipes from Ever Ready. 
Puff Pastry Egg Cups
Eggs Benedict Casserole
Chicken Pot Pies
Creamy Scrambled Eggs with Salmon
Como Park Conservatory St. Paul, Minnesota 

Friday, December 14, 2018

Reindeer Bar Last Call

Themed ideas for serving a crowd DIY during the holiday season
Walking Taco Bar
Set up a table with lots of topping choices
Salad Bar
A chance to offer some healthy choices with greens, a variety of toppings and dressings
Chicken Burrito Bowl
toppings served with a side of rice
And don't forget to end the evening with the ever popular crowd favorite Build Your Own Ice Cream Sundae Bar
Happy Holiday Planning

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Reindeer Bar Part Three Drinks

Top Choice Reindeer Drinks
Grinch Inspired Hot Chocolate
Recipe from
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup green candy melts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5-6 drops green food coloring (optional)
  • whipped cream (optional)
  • assorted green, black and red sprinkles
  • Add milk to a medium sauce pan and heat thoroughly. Do not boil. Lower heat and add white chocolate chips and green candy melts and stir until they dissolve. 
  • Add vanilla extract and 5-6 drops of green food coloring. 
  • Pour green hot chocolate in a cup. Top with whipped cream and assorted colored sprinkles.

Christmas Mimosas
Recipe adapted from and serves 1 and is easily multiplied.
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate juice
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1/3 cup champagne
  • Add the pomegranate juice and orange juice to a champagne glass. Top with champagne. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Mistletoe Margarita
Recipe comes from and makes 1 Margarita but is easily multiplied.

  • coarse salt for the rim
  • 2 ounces Grand Marnier
  • 1 1/2 ounces Tequila
  • 2 ounces white cranberry juice
  • 2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • lime for garnish
  • fresh cranberries for garnish
  • rosemary for garnish
Simple Syrup Ingredients:
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • Rim each glass with a lime wedge and dip in the coarse salt. Fill each glass with ice.
  • In a cocktail shaker, add the Grand Marnier, tequila, cranberry juice, lime juice and syrup and shake for 30 seconds. Pour over the ice. Garnish with extra limes and fresh cranberries! 
Simple Syrup Directions:
  • Stir together the water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk until the sugar dissolves and bring the mixture to a simmer. Remove from the heat and let it cool to room temperature.
Reindeer Food Bar with 3 options

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Reindeer Bar Part Two: Snacks

Sweet and salty and delicious – this Grinch Popcorn will be popular with kids and adults alike at your How the Grinch Stole Christmas movie night.
Recipe found at

Reindeer Food Recipe
for printable tag, recipe and poem go to
  • 2 Cups Oats
  • ¼ Cup Green Sprinkles
  • ¼ Cup Red Sprinkles TWO
  • ¼ Cup Shaped Sprinkles
  • Mix all ingredients together in a ziplock bag. Spoon into smaller bags, tie with a twist tie or ribbon. Add your Poem Tag.
  • Have children sprinkle on the lawn Christmas Eve! The sprinkles will catch the attention of Santa's reindeer.

Cheese Straws
  • 1 box frozen puff pastry (such as Pepperidge Farm) defrosted overnight in the refrigerator
  • 1 extra large egg
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1 tsp. each dried thyme and sesame seeds 
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper or cayenne pepper
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Roll out each sheet on a lightly floured surface until it is 10 x 12.
  • Beat the egg with 1.tsp. of water and brush the surface of the pastry.
  • Sprinkle each sheet evenly with ¼ cup of Parmesan, ½ cup Gruyere. ½ tsp. thyme and ¼ tsp. salt and some pepper and sesame seeds
  • With a floured rolling pin press the flavorings into puff pastry.
  • Cut each sheet crosswise with a floured knife into 11-12 strips.
  • Twist each strip and lay on a baking sheet.
  • Bake 10-15 until lightly browned and puffed.
  • Turn each straw and bake another two minutes.
  • Cool and serve at room temperature.
  • Options: Brush pastry with pesto, tapenade or sundried tomatoes instead of sprinkling with cheese.
For more holiday ideas follow my Pinterest board

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Reindeer Bar Part One Kid Friendly


Peanut Butter Reindeer Cookies

  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1- 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter 
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Chocolate-covered mini pretzels
  • Mini brown M&Ms and Regular-sized red M&Ms
  • Preheat oven to 375° degrees 
  • Combine brown sugar, peanut butter, butter, milk, and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until well blended. Add egg; beat until just blended.
  • In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to creamed mixture at low speed. Mix just until blended.
  • Form dough into 1-inch balls. To make reindeer-shaped cookies, pinch the bottom of the ball slightly to form a point, then gently flatten with your hand. Space cookies about 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 7 to 8 minutes, until set or just beginning to brown.
  • Remove from oven and immediately (and gently) press two mini pretzels into the tops of the cookies for the reindeer’s antlers. Press two mini brown M&M's s in for the eyes and one red M&M for the nose. 
  • Allow to cool 2 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rack or paper towel to cool completely.
  • Makes about 40 reindeer cookies.
M & M Candy Cookie Pie
Cook's Notes: This may be your next new favorite cookies. Buttery cookie dough? Check. Dozens of M&M’s? Check. Handfuls of mini chocolate chips? Check. This just might be the biggest and best cookie ever! Made in a springform pan, serve the buttery cookie in wedges. My only advice is to be careful not to over bake your cookie cake, as it tastes best when it’s under baked and a little gooey in the middle. Fresh from the oven with a cold glass of milk? Yes please!


  • 1/2 cup  butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1-1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda 
  • 1/4 tsp. salt 
  • 1/2 cup red and green holiday M&M’s, plus extra for decorating
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate baking bits, plus extra for decorating
  • Preheat oven to 360 degrees. Spray with PAM a 9 inch springform cake tin. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until pale and creamy. Add vanilla extract and egg and continue to beat until soft and creamy. Sift in the flour, salt and baking soda. Gently mix until cookie dough comes together.
  • Add in M& M’s and chocolate baking bits and mix well. Place all the dough into your prepared tin and spread out as evenly as possible.
  • Floured hands help spreading out the dough. Press extra M&M’s on top. Place in the oven for 16-18 minutes or until golden brown on the edges.
Reindeer Donettes

Ingredients:You will need one package of 6 Mini Chocolate Donettes
pretzels for antlers, mini white chips for eyes, red M&M 's for noses.
Directions: Use the photo for placement of reindeer parts. 

Monday, December 10, 2018

Mini Bites of Holiday Cheer

"Christmas Sparrow"
by Billy Collins

The first thing I heard this morning
was a rapid flapping sound, soft, insistent—

wings against glass as it turned out
downstairs when I saw the small bird
rioting in the frame of a high window,
trying to hurl itself through
the enigma of glass into the spacious light.

Then a noise in the throat of the cat
who was hunkered on the rug
told me how the bird had gotten inside,
carried in the cold night
through the flap of a basement door,
and later released from the soft grip of teeth.

On a chair, I trapped its pulsations
in a shirt and got it to the door,
so weightless it seemed
to have vanished into the nest of cloth.

But outside, when I uncupped my hands,
it burst into its element,
dipping over the dormant garden
in a spasm of wingbeats
then disappeared over a row of tall hemlocks.

For the rest of the day,
I could feel its wild thrumming
against my palms as I wondered about
the hours it must have spent
pent in the shadows of that room,
hidden in the spiky branches
of our decorated tree, breathing there
among the metallic angels, ceramic apples, stars of yarn,
its eyes open, like mine as I lie in bed tonight
picturing this rare, lucky sparrow
tucked into a holly bush now,
a light snow tumbling through the windless dark.

"Christmas Sparrow" by Billy Collins, from Aimless Love. © Random House 2013.

Pesto Cheese Tarts 
Recipe from Taste of Home and makes 15 appetizers. This recipe was served on medium sized dish  glued to an upside down martini glass for a base. The plate and glass were found at a local thrift shop.
  • 2/3 cup diced tomatoes, patted dry on a paper towel 
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip 
  • 1/3 cup prepared package grated 6 Cheese Italian 
  • 5 TB. grated Parmesan cheese 
  • 2-3 tsp. prepared pesto 
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper 
  • 1 package frozen mini fillo shells, thawed

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  • In a small bowl combine the tomatoes, mayonnaise, cheese, pesto and pepper. 
  • Remove tart shells from plastic tray and place on an ungreased baking sheet.
    Spoon a heaping teaspoon in each tart shell. Bake 6 minutes.
Walnut Cranberry Crostini

  • 1 small French baguette cut into 12 slices
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts 
  • 1 cup crumbled Gorgonzola, Swiss or Blue-Cheese 
  • 3/4 dried sweetened cranberries 
  • 2 TB. chopped green onion 

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees and brush both sides of bread slices with olive oil. 
  • Bake 2 minutes on a baking sheet, turn once-cook 2 minutes more.
  • In a bowl mix cranberries, cheese, walnuts and onions. 
  • Place 2 TB. walnut mixture on bread and toast 3 minutes more. Serve immediately.

Chutney and Boursin Cheese Appetizer
Cook's notes: This is the perfect appetizer for the busy hostess who needs an appetizer but short on time. It can be assembled in less than 15 minutes

  • 1 jar chutney (I tested with Major Grey's Chutney)
  • 1 container garlic and herbs Boursin
  • toasted baguettes or crackers
  • chives
  • On low heat warm up chutney.
  • Optional adding in 1 TB bourbon.
  • Spread Boursin cheese on toasted baguettes slices bread or crackers.
  • Top with chutney.
  • Optional adding a halved grape tomato or red grape.

2018 Reindeer Bar Returns:Part One 
featuring all new drinks and appetizers