Search This Blog

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Mele Kalikimaki

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!

I am making the rounds this year from Cincinnati to Cleveland to New Mexico and finally on to Florida. I have been very excited about seeing family and friends this season and am so thankful for the chance to do travel! I wish everyone Happy Holidays to you and yours.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Eggnog Frosted Nutmeg Sugar Cookies

I wanted to share this fun festive recipe that I found. The cookies bake up nicely and you can really taste the nutmeg and vanilla but they aren’t sweet. The icing makes the cookie though! I’m not usually much of an icing person but I have to admit these cookies are vastly improved upon by the addition of the eggnog icing with a sprinkling of coarse sugar. You can really taste the eggnog flavor and it also adds just the right amount of sweetness. They aren’t too rich, but quite lovely especially with coffee or tea (or eggnog if you’re feeling indulgent).

For some reason my hyperlinks won't work so please click for a link to the recipe:

For reference, I used vanilla bourbon extract instead of real vanilla bean and Horizon reduced fat eggnog. I bet adding some rum, whiskey or brandy to the icing would be delicious!

I hope everyone is getting ready for the holidays, I know I can’t wait!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Botanical Facial Treatment

It’s almost time for the holidays! If your schedule is anything like mine you have one more week of work to get through before the true celebrating can occur. Even though this is a short week for me, it seems like I’m struggling to get to the holiday finish line. How about a little DIY home-spa treatment to pamper and treat yourself? Not only is it a fun activity but it will be relaxing and help to give your skin a radiant glow for your friends and family this Christmas.
Using ingredients from your kitchen is cheap and easy. The combinations are endless and I’ve only just started experimenting with botanicals that I know are mild and helpful for dry skin. I will share one or two of my favorites with you but don’t forget that you should cater to your skin needs. My skin was getting very dry and flakey from the cold weather so I focused on moisturizing ingredients but there are also facial masks and exfoliants that are targeted for oily or acne prone skin.

Simple exfoliant: I have started using dried oatmeal as an exfoliating agent. By just adding a pinch (approx ¼ teaspoon) to your regular face wash, the oatmeal will gently exfoliate and moisturize. Your face will feel softer and smoother immediately. To apply, mix up in your hands and gently apply to face using slow circular motions then rinse off with luke warm water. I have been doing this maybe 2 to 3 times per week and it feels wonderful. People with oily skin would probably benefit from exfoliating more regularly and with a stronger exfoliant. I have read that crushed almond works wonderfully but to be careful with the jagged edges of the nuts.

Facial Mask: After spending money on product after product, trying new moisturizers, new foundations, new primers… everything… I was tired of buying new things that didn’t work but I needed something to help with my dry flaking skin around my T-zone. I thought I should at least try this all natural and FREE facial before buying anything else. I have to admit I was scared to try this… but I knew I had no allergies to any of the ingredients so I figured the worst thing that could happen would be a break out. Well after using ONCE I couldn’t believe the difference in made within minutes. Not only did it pretty much completely take care of my dry skin, it also had some wonderful effects that I was not expecting. The mask helped to reduce the redness around my nose and also to reduce or even eliminate some small blemishes around my T-zone! Who would have thought?!? Anyway, here is the recipe:
- ½ teaspoon Honey
- ¼ teaspoon Olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Dried oatmeal (I just used instant)
- 1 egg yolk

To apply: Before using the mask I washed my face using the oatmeal exfoliant, then pat face lightly with towel. Mix together the ingredients into a paste (mine was a bit wet) and apply to the face and neck. Leave on for 10-15 minutes…. It looks funny but smells great! Go ahead and throw two cold cucumber slices on your eyes and lay down while you’re waiting for the true spa experience. Then rinse off thoroughly with luke warm water. I followed by applying my regular moisturizer.

Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Chocolate Almond Cookies

I had good intentions of making festive gingerbread cookies for our work holiday party last week. However, after mixing all of the dry ingredients and proceeding to cream the butter with the brown sugar, I realized that we were out of brown sugar! Although I was disappointed, there was a recipe for chocolate roll-out cookies I had been meaning to try for a while.

The recipe was very basic (and looked a bit boring to be honest) so I added in some vanilla extract and crushed raw almonds for excitement. I loved the way these turned out, they were so rich but not too sugary, they really reminded me of a nice Dutch Chocolate Cookie. I sprinkled the raw almonds on about half of the cookies and left the others as simple chocolate cookies that were tasty as well. The shapes I used were: Rocking horse, winter mitten, candy cane, Christmas tree, and little men.


- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (this ingredient really makes or breaks the cookie, I always use a nice and rich cocoa powder)
- 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened (I never said they were good for you…)
- 1 ¼ cups white sugar (I think I used more like 1 1/8 cup actually)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract (I use a bourbon vanilla ext!)
- Optional: crushed almonds ( I just grab about 2 handfuls of raw unsalted almonds and grind in a food processor)


- Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt and set aside. Cream together the sugar and butter until smooth then beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Slowly incorporate the dry mixture making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl frequently. Once a soft dough is formed, separate into 2 sections, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 375 deg F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch thick and have fun with your cookie cutters!!
- Place them on a cookie sheet (I always use parchment paper on the sheet to prevent burning the bottoms of the cookies). At this point you can add the crushed almonds if desired (just sprinkle on top of each cookie). Cook for 8-10 minutes.

As a side note, I also had raw hazelnuts and pecans which would have been good on top of the cookie for something different!

What’s on your baking agenda this holiday season? I’ve already gotten to make about 6 pumpkin pies (my favorite), gingerbread men, muffins of all sorts and Christmas cookies. I would still like to attempt to whip up some eggnog and some hot buttered rum..

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Hopefully everyone is enjoying the holiday season as much as I have been! Due to computer issues I haven’t been able to post very much but hopefully that will be resolved shortly.

This year I am lucky enough to enjoy TWO Christmas trees!

This lovely white tree was left behind by my sister upon her move to Chicago. You can’t really tell in the picture but the lights include blue and pink and match the vintage ornaments from my recent antiques trip! I love the way this tree looks in our living room.

And this classic Douglas Fir was cut down by my very own fiancé on a trip out to a tree nursery that had hot chocolate, wreaths, and even goats! Our good friends, Jordan and Amber of Shiny and the Spoon went out with us and got a lovely tree and wreath of their own. A stop at the Dilly Deli for lunch on our way home completed the trip and to our delight they had Great Lakes Christmas Ale on tap!

And this gorgeous wreath was MADE for us by my soon-to-be mother-in-law who is so thoughtful and amazing! There are even little Stockings for the doggies.

We are also excited for Little C.B. to experience his first Christmas with us! He is such a good boy and has been doing wonderfully adjusting to his new home. After a bit of training he has learned how to walk on a leash. I truly enjoy taking long walks with Pierre and C.B., they both seem to really enjoy it as well!

The holidays are fast approaching! Enjoy this magical time of the year.