Friday, December 19, 2014

Happy Hour: Pomegranate Rosemary Vodka Tonic

I always wanted to be one of those people who had a signature drink.  Something I'd get every time I went out to the bar or had a drink with dinner.  That way whenever the waiter or bartender asked for my order, I'd have it at the ready.  

And it'd sound cool when I ordered.  Every early 20-something drinking their rum and coke would be super jealous.  It couldn't be anything frilly.  No soda.  No juice.  No Redbull. 
After years of experimenting, I settled on a vodka tonic with lemon about a year ago.  It's not exactly the most impressive drink, but it's not the most embarrassing one either.  

So, to spruce up my favorite go-to cocktail for Christmas, I added some fresh pomegranate juice (I know, I said no juice, but this is a special circumstance) and rosemary and it is soooo good!  The pomegranate juice is really more for color and festiveness than anything else, but you can really taste the muddled rosemary.  

People will definitely be impressed if you shake some of these up on Christmas Eve!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

7 Up Salad

In case you didn't know this about me, I'm from Utah.  Technically, I lived in Indiana until I was 11, but since I would never be able to find my childhood house without a GPS, I don't really consider that home.

I feel like I am really from Utah.  It's where I went to middle school, high school and college.  It's where I learned to love the outdoors and where I got married on a cliff edge.

And in Utah, we love our green Jell-O.  Actually, I don't know if that's at all true, but that is the stereotype and I'm just going to go with it.  So it's just a little bit ironic that this recipe is not something my family found upon our migration to the West, but rather something we brought with us from the Midwest.
Doesn't really matter where it's from.  It's delicious.  A little weird, yes.  And yes, you'll probably get strange looks the first time you serve it.  But remember, it is delicious.  We've been having it as part of our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for as long as I can remember, and now you're welcome to add it to your spread!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Sweet Potato Casserole

On Saturday, Austin and I had the best intentions to go snowshoeing, but when we got up into the mountains, we realized there was really no need for the snowshoes.  So we went for a hike instead.

Once we were back there, it turned into a blizzard though!  We had to keep our heads down as we walked about 4 miles back to the car to keep from going snow-blind (not really, but seriously it was snowing hard)!
Then, this morning we woke up to the thinnest layer of snow covering the ground.  Quite frankly, not the white Christmas I'm hoping for, but that's what we're getting used to in Utah.  My point is: I'll take it.  The littlest snowflakes make me want to start up a fire, sip some cocoa and watch Miracle on 34th Street.

I'd also like to eat some holiday food.  When it comes to holiday food, sweet potato casserole has always been and will always be my favorite.

Sweet potato mash that's been made even sweeter topped with a pecan streusel - I mean, what's not to like?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Friday, December 12, 2014

Happy Hour: Muddled Cranberry Orange Old Fashioned

I like to make cocktails a lot more than I like to drink them.  I understand a lot of people out there are the opposite, and that's great!  I need someone to give my concoctions to.

We have people over quite a bit and when you're a guest at our house, I will gladly mix you up something special and after years of accumulating piece-by-piece, I feel like we are pretty well-equipped in the 'bar' to make you just about anything you want.  The problem arises when I am at someone else's house.
Sometimes it feels like I am the only person that owns a muddler!  I have had to crush herbs with the handle of a wooden spoon and even just squished them between my fingers, which works, but not very well.

It's a whole lot nicer, and easier if you have a real muddler.  One that's made for squishing fruit and bruising herbs.  One that looks cool and fits in your hand well, like the Arctic Chill one is a bonus.

For this cocktail, you're really going to need one.  Other recipes you might be able to get away without, but I don't think there's any way to crush raw cranberries without one (challenge?).

I've never had a wooden muddler, but I've heard that they can start to dry out and flake off which really doesn't sound much better than the wooden spoon option. Sure, they're a little cheaper than the Arctic Chill muddler, but I prefer not to give my guests splinters. This one has a fairly large nylon head with a bunch of little bumps to break down the herbs and fruit and it's easy to push on because of the shape of the handle.  And the most important part: it looks good sitting on your bar!

Now for the festive, easy-to-drink cocktail!
This post was sponsored by Arctic Chill, but the opinions are my own.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

7 Christmas Cookie Recipes

When we were little and would go up to the farm every year for Christmas, everyone brought cookies.  There were way too many to ever fit in the fridges or even on the counter and tabletops, so they all stayed outside on the screened-in porch.

You had to go brave the cold in your socks to get one.  We were pretty brave though.  We would eat every single caramel cup before Christmas day.  

My parents, grandparents, great-grandma, aunts, uncles, cousins and sisters all knew that I was making frequent trips to that side of the house, but even still, I was pretty sneaky, so I don't think anyone really knows just how many I ate.

I still love Christmas cookies but now I don't have to sneak them.  Takes some of the fun out of it to be totally honest with you.  Maybe I'll recapture some of that childhood Christmas magic if I start stuffing cookies in my pockets this year!
1. Vanilla Bean Snickerdoodles
2. Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
3. Lemon Glazed Ginger Cookies
4. Pecan Fingers
5. Molasses Cookies
6. Frosted Sugar Cookies
7. Chocolate Chip Meringues

Monday, December 8, 2014

Cheesy Green Bean Casserole

Green beans were one of the few vegetables my sisters and I could all agree on as 'the vegetable' when I was little - Darcie was a little picky.  Just the plain old canned version.  The ones that squeak against your teeth.
Actually, I still like them, but when you're asked to bring the beans to a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, you can't really just show up with a can.  Well, you can and if you did, you'd be my hero, but if you're like me, you feel the pressure.

And while I like canned green beans just fine, I felt like using the fresh ones this go around.  I snapped off the ends of what felt like 80,000 green beans Thanksgiving morning and mixed them with some cheesy buttermilk ranch sauce.
Of course, you can't even call it a green bean casserole if it doesn't have the french fried onions.  So there's some of those mixed in with the panko bread crumbs and a little extra cheese for good measure.

If you want to switch up your sides a little bit for your Christmas dinner this year, this recipe is going to be the one.  It's different, but it's not too different.  It's the good kind of different.

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