Thursday, December 19, 2013

Make It Personal

I really can't believe that Christmas is right around the corner! The final countdown is on and the constant reminder of how many shopping days remain can give us all anxiety. Tis the season for giving and I love coming up with the perfect item that will make someone happy.  This year I decided to put together some gifts for friends with a personal touch by making them myself. 

It's no surprise that the weather is dry and freezing during the winter in New England. When I hosted a ladies holiday party last week, I wanted everyone to leave with something special. So I created a homemade peppermint sugar body scrub. It was super easy, inexpensive and smelled amazing!

Peppermint Sugar Body Scrub
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil
3-4 drops peppermint extract
5-6 drops red food coloring 

I found cute canning jars at Christmas Tree Shops. This is a New England store but the same jars can be found at Home Goods, Target, Amazon....pretty much anywhere. I mixed the ingredients with my hands until the sugar was fluffy. For the candy cane effect, layer the white mixture and the red. Make sure you press down each layer with a spoon to pack in as much as possible. This will keep it from shaking around in the jar. I made half candy cane and half solid white and accessorized the jars with candy. The sugar and coconut oil leave your skin so silky! 

My parents have a group of friends who they always exchange gifts with each year. I think it's pretty cool that they keep it up year after year so I wanted to start the same with our group of friends on Cape Cod. The gifts are always festive and usually involve food that can be enjoyed with family or when friends stop by during the holidays. Chris and I decided to make our own herb infused olive oil. It's a great item to have around the house with some bread, olives and cheese. 

 We started with a mixture of spices and crushed them with a mortar and pestle. This opens the herbs up and will allow the flavor to infuse in the oil. I really love the 21 Seasoning Salute from Trader Joe's. If you have your own garden, it's great to use fresh rosemary with this as well.

Herb Mixture
21 Seasoning Salute
Sea Salt
Black Peppercorns
Red Pepper Flakes 

We put 1 jar of each spice in the mortar and pestle to crush up. Be modest with the red pepper flakes because not everyone likes it spicy. We only used half the jar in our recipe. Then using a funnel we added 4 tablespoons of herb mixture to each bottle before filling with a really good extra virgin olive oil. 

I found the bottles on Amazon and they are perfect because the cork top will keep the oil fresh. I plan to tie a wooden gift tag around the neck and they will be ready for delivery. If you are a baker, you could even bake some bread to go with the oil. I am putting that on my list of things to learn to do in 2014! 

Have a wonderful holiday season! I hope to share more of what's going on in our home and various projects I'm working on in 2014. Stay tuned!!!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Holiday Treats

My apologies for taking so long to update my blog. I promise more excitement to come as I am working on a few fun projects that I can't wait to share! Today, I would like to share what's going on in our house during this holiday season. This is the time of year to enjoy friends and family. I love entertaining whether its a huge dinner party or a few friends for a glass of wine. In any situation, we are always in need of some snacks to go with that glass of wine or eggnog. I like to keep these items around during the season in case friends stop by without notice or in case I haven't had time to go to the store. It saves time and allows you to enjoy friends and family without worrying if you have something to serve. My grandmother always had bowls of various candy and treats so my inspiration comes from her. There was never any lack of food at her house!!

Spiced Oyster Crackers
These are super easy and only take about 30 minutes to make. You can prepare them in bulk and store in a large tupperware container. Then pour out in a small bowl as needed.

1 package Ranch Dressing Dry Mix ( I use Hidden Valley)
1/2 tbsp Dill Weed
1/2 tbsp Lemon Pepper
1/2 tbsp Red Pepper Flakes (leave out if you don't like spicy)
1/4 tbsp Garlic Powder
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
5 cups Oyster Crackers

Mix ingredients together and pour over crackers. Stir to coat and transfer to baking sheet. Bake at 250 degrees for 20 minutes.

People Puppy Chow
A sweet treat that will be a fan favorite for sure! I usually have to make this a couple of times since my husband loves it so much. It should be covered in a bit more powdered sugar than my photo. I ran out on the day I was taking photos.

1 package Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips (I use Nestle Toll House)
3/4 package Peanut Butter Chips (I use Reece's)
1 stick Butter
1 box Rice Chex Cereal
1 box Powdered Sugar

Melt chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and butter together in microwave safe bowl or on stovetop. Pour over cereal and stir to coat. Pieces will clump together and this is okay. Using your hands to mix ensures all cereal pieces are covered. Place mixture in a large plastic bag and add powdered sugar. Shake to coat. I have used a trash bag for this or you can split recipe into 2 large ziplock bags and shake until contents are covered in white sugar. Store in a large tupperware container and serve in small bowls as needed.

Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats
This is an oldie but goodie and takes no time! The peanut butter is a nice twist or you can always do the traditional plain marshmallow.

1 stick butter
1 package Mini Marshmallows
1 package Peanut Butter Chips
5 cups Rice Krispies

Melt butter, marshmallows and peanut butter chips together. Stir in Rice Krispies until all are coated. Pour into 9x12 pan. I usually spray with Pam to make sure the bottom doesn't stick. Allow to cool then slice into squares and serve.

Happy Holidays!!