Friday, December 27, 2013

~ Christmas 2013 ~

We had a wonderful Christmas this year. Got some new records, clothes and my personal favorite kitchen/cooking toys!!!

We spent lots of time with our crazy lovable families, and it was nice to have our own little Christmas this year too. I am so blessed to have such incredible people in my life.

Here are a few pictures that I took this December.

Day after Thanksgiving. Pulling out the few Christmas items we have from last year. This year marks our 2nd Christmas together in our home. 

This year I bought stockings since last years DIY stockings were a disaster. Hopefully these will last us for many many years. 

I also made our own DIY advent calendar. This was a lot of fun and I loved how it turned out.

Our Christmas Tree all set up. All of the ornaments were from last year, but we can't wait to keep adding to it in the years to come. 

The cats really loved the Christmas tree. We would continuously catch them drinking water from the base and they loved to hang out right next to it. Oh yeah, and every time I bring out the camera Apollo likes to charge at it, as if he is ready for his close up. Silly kitties!

My favorite part about our tree this year was the cranberry garland I made for it. I just adored the way it looked on the tree. I used fresh cranberries and strung them on embroidery thread. I read that you can take them off the tree, soak them in water and use them just as you would right out of the bag. So clever and festive!

I love to use butcher/craft paper for wrapping. I always have it on hand so I don't have to go buy special wrapping paper for birthdays, holidays or events. This year I added little personal touches such as the bakers twine and even hand painted on a few of the packages. The gifts looked beautiful under the tree and every time I walked by it would put a smile on my face. 

I conquered my goal of making tamales this year. It took me all weekend to make the pork and then assemble the tamales. They were somewhat successful, but you live and you learn. Next years tamales are going to be phenomenal I'm sure of it!! : )

We also went to see Anchorman 2!!!! We did the Anchorman and Anchorman 2 marathon with a few of our friends. We had more fun than was necessary, but I wouldn't have done it any differently!!

I told myself I wasn't going to make cookies this year since I made tamales, but it just doesn't feel like Christmas without my usual Christmas cookie extravaganza. 

We spent Christmas Day at my parents, ate lunch then headed home for a little nap before heading over to David's parents for stockings and dinner. 

Here are some of my favorite gifts this year. I always love getting cooking related gifts. David surprised me with the hot/cold culinary whipper kit. I didn't even ask for one, but it is my favorite gift this year and I can't wait to "whip" up some special meals with it. The cookbook and the mandolin were on my wish list this year and I have already marked off all the recipes I want to try (so like every page of this book is marked, because I want to make it all!)

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas spent with loved ones. 
This year was extra special and I'm glad I can document it here. It's like a scrapbook without all the mess! Love you all and see you next year!!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Toasted Fluffernutter Ice Cream

Everyone knows the Fluffernutter. That creamy peanut butter and sweet marshmallow cream sandwich.  Brings me back to my childhood days of after school snacks.

I had a few marshmallows left over from a previous recipe and found some great peanut butter chips at Trader Joes not too long ago so I knew what I had to do next….Fluffernutter Ice Cream!!!

The combination of creamy peanut butter and toasted marshmallows is perfect for ice cream so here is how I did it.

You will need:

- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup milk
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1/2 cup sugar divided
- 5 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup peanut butter chips (or regular peanut butter)
- 2 cups marshmallows

Start off by making your ice cream base. I poured the heavy cream and milk into a small sauce pan with the whole vanilla bean. Bring that to a low simmer, cover the pan and take off the heat. Let that sit for about 30 - 45 minutes. This will infuse the cream with a little bit of vanilla flavoring. 

Once you let that sit you can place the pan back over medium heat and add 1/4 cup sugar. While that is heating up, separate the egg yolks and add the other 1/4 cup of sugar to the yolks and whisk to combine. 

Now for the marshmallows. Place the oven rack in the middle and turn your oven temperature to a low broil (if you don't have an option, just set it to broil). Place a piece of parchment paper over a baking sheet and grease the parchment paper. This will ensure that the marshmallows don't stick too much to the parchment paper once they melt. Spread out the two cups of marshmallows onto the greased parchment paper and place in the oven for about 5 minutes. Check on the marshmallows frequently because they will brown quickly. Once the marshmallows get a nice toasted color take them out of the oven and scrape them into a heat proof bowl.

Return the cream and milk to the stove. Once it starts to simmer you will want to slowly temper your egg yolks. To do this, add 1/2 cup at a time of the hot milk mixture to your bowl of eggs and sugar while whisking quickly to ensure the eggs do not cook. Keep adding 1/2 cup of hot cream to the eggs while whisking until more than half of the pan is gone. Then return the eggs and cream back into the saucepan over low/medium heat. Continue to stir frequently until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon.

Then you will want to strain the hot cream and eggs into the bowl with the marshmallows. ( You can save the vanilla bean and use it for a future recipe, just make sure to rinse off all the cream. ) Then add the peanut butter chips (or peanut butter). Stir until all the peanut butter has melted and combined with the cream. Place the cream mixture into a bowl of ice water until it has cooled off. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for about 8 hours or overnight.

Once the cream has chilled for awhile, pour into your ice cream maker and freeze per the manufacturer's instructions.

If you want soft serve ice cream then you can eat it right from the ice cream maker, but if you like your ice cream a little firm, then place into the freezer for a few hours or overnight.

It seems like ice cream is tedious to make, but it gets easier each time and it's so much better than store bought ice cream. Hope you guys enjoy!


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

DIY - Advent Calendar

One of my favorite memories about living in Germany when I was younger was the advent calendar in December. Every year my German teacher would have one in the classroom, and she would choose a different student each day to open up the little paper window and eat the chocolate. It was also fun counting down the days, but as a kid the candy is most important. Once we moved back to the states the tradition continued and every year I would beg my parents to get one for my sister and I, and once I moved out on my own I would continue to purchase an advent calendar each December. This year I decided it would be better to make my own that I can keep year after year. There are tons of tutorials online and all over pinterest. Here are some of my favorites.

So I used these as inspiration to create my own. I went to the craft store and found some little white boxes in the wedding section and picked out a few sheets of decorative scrapbook paper. I also found these great little printables from 

So I cut, pasted, painted and assembled all 25 of the little boxes and bags. Earlier that day we went to the store and picked out the candy we wanted for the calendar. I found the stick in the backyard and tied each of the bags and boxes to it. Needless to say, I think it turned out great. It was very time consuming, but worth it in the end. Let the countdown begin!!

*Note: My pictures were taken from an iPhone. Sorry for the poor quality of some of these.