Cousin Christmas 2012 is tonight!! I can't remember how long this has been going on, but some years back my cousin Jill, my sister Natalie & I instituted a holiday tradition we call Cousin Christmas. We exchange small gifts (shopping primarily from each other's Amazon Wish Lists), eat our favorite snacks, and drink our favorite beverages. Oh, and wear our Christmas pajamas as you can see in the photo above from Cousin Christmas 2010. That year I decided makeup was not necessary. Then my cousin decided to take a bazillion photos and I regretted that decision.
I hear she got a new camera as an early Christmas present. This year I will be wearing makeup.
After some group-text-planning, we decided to have chips & salsa from Chili's restaurant, hummus and we are going to try a special holiday cocktail called Winter Wonderland (above). The recipe comes from singlemindedwomen.com and it is a lovely concoction of vanilla vodka, white chocolate liqueur, creme de cacao and coconut. It sounds like a warm snowball in a glass... or something less cheesy. Anyway, I'm looking forward to trying it, I don't see how it can't be yummy.
Of course, if that doesn't work out I can always have my standard mug-full of marshmallows.
Cousin Christmas is the official kickoff of my holiday celebrating and I'm so excited to eat good food, share time with my loved ones, and remember the greatest gift of all: a tiny babe who came to us one holy night.
Baby, it's cold outside! When I say cold what I mean is this: I live in Northern California and it is below 65 degrees. I realize that for some of you temperatures in the 60's is bathing suit weather but this California girl can't hack it. The forecast for this weekend is cold rain and a frigid 43 degree overnight low. It makes my teeth chatter just thinking about it!
Here is what I plan to do to combat the wintery chills: warm beverages. Hot chocolate, hot apple cider, special coffee drinks, hot water with lemon & honey and any other toasty beverage I can curl my fingers around.
Enter this recipe from Sunset Magazine, Warm Apple Pie Cocktail. Doesn't' that sound like comfort in a cup? And it is so simple: warm unfiltered apple juice with cinnamon, cloves, and allspice then add a splash of spiced rum and top it all off with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream.
Of course if you don't mind leaving out the rum, you could make this drink with your favorite little ones. Let them toss in the spices and spoon in the whipped cream. Maybe even sprinkle a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg on top. Ohhhhhhh, such goodness!
Yep, this weekend I'm going to throw some logs on the fire, do some online Christmas shopping and enjoy this yummy drink. And you? What will you be doing to stay warm and cozy?
First of all, by the time most of you are reading this I will be on a big ole jet plane headed out to see Wonder Twin!! Ohhh there will be adventures to share when I get back.
Now, back to the "recipe". OK, it's not really a recipe. It's more of a "look what I made" post. This is how it started:
My uncle showed up at the house the other day with this bag. He plopped it on the counter and said something like, "You're not going to believe what I brought you." Oddly enough, this happens a lot with my Uncle, my mother's youngest brother. Like the time he showed up to a birthday party with a pickup bed full of packed, freshly fallen snow and freshly cooked crab embedded into it. Yeah, this kind of thing happens a lot.
So cautiously, I opened up the mysterious black bag to reveal yet another bag: a bag full of orange ice cubes.
What you need to know about my Uncle is that he is very resourceful. He knows all the local growers and just about every week he talks them into selling him a bounty of little-heard-of produce that you will not find down at the local Bel Air shopping center. One such week he received a bunch of juicy, ripe Cara Cara oranges. I bet most of you (like me) are saying "What is a Cara Cara orange?"
Cara Cara oranges are a variety of navel orange that are known for their almost salmon colored flesh. They are truly beautiful and the flavor is great as well. Something like a cross between flowers, oranges, berries and apricots. But he had A LOT of oranges and rather than let them go to waste (how many oranges can you really eat in a week?), he juiced them and put them into ice cube trays. And that's what was in the bag.
... covered them with a little club soda we had stashed away from last week's birthday party...
...and had a refreshing, bubbly treat! The more the cubes melted, the more I could taste the floral sweetness of the Cara Cara.
It was a good day.
I wonder what Uncle will bring this weekend?
I am still without internet capabilities a mi casa, if you're wondering why the posts have been lean lately. I literally had to wander around in a walnut orchard this week to find enough cell bars to send a text message. I finally found 4 bars about 50 yards from the house, it was pretty exciting. And so although I've been cooking up a storm and have about 200 projects in line, I can't share most of them with you yet!
It will all work itself out eventually. Maybe after I get back from my trip I will park myself at a local Starbucks and get some stuff done!
Happy weekend everyone! I hope yours is full of sunshine and joy!
Normally for our Friday Recipe I will go through my Google Reader or my Pinterest Food Board and share something that has caught my eye recently. Other times I will actually pull out an old family recipe or a recipe shared by a friend. But today, it all comes down to what I am craving and I am seriously craving one of these:
Yep, a good ole fashioned Orange Julius. I want the frothy, citrusy, creamy goodness! The problem is, there is nowhere in my town to get one. And while we’re at it, there’s no where to get a good soft pretzel like Auntie Ann’s. I was craving one of those this week too.
So, I will have to resort to making one at home this weekend. And that’s OK because I’m sure it will be a lot cheaper to make it at home than driving 45 minutes to the mall and paying for an overpriced drink.
Now… over the years I have heard that the secret to an Orange Julius is… well, actually I’ve heard there are 2 secrets:
Egg whites. I can already some of you screaming “Ewwwwww!” Settle down, you can omit it or use egg white substitute and I’ve even heard of using egg white powder. I guarantee the original is NOT made with raw egg whites (due to health codes) so my best guess would be powdered egg whites and I hear you can get them at Walmart. However, raw eggs do not scare me in a recipe so I might give it a shot.
Powdered sugar. I have seen recipes with regular granulated sugar, and I’ve seen them with powered sugar. And I’ve seen recipes with both types of sugar. The powdered sugar makes sense to me because it will dissolve better and it has a touch of thickener in it so it will add some body to the shake. I’m sure either will taste good. And if you are one of those people who must use a sugar substitute or honey, I’m sure that will work quite well too.
I’m going to give you a few different links, some with eggs, some without, some with powdered sugar, some with regular, some with milk, some without. You can pick which one you want to try!
First I had to keep it a secret because I didn’t want to spoil the surprises for anyone. Then I had to keep it a secret because I didn’t have time to edit the pics off my camera. The life of a blogger, sheesh! This is going to be the world’s longest post, but I don’t want to split it up into 2 or 3 posts so grab a cup of coffee and enjoy as I take you through our evening.
My sisters and I have been talking about doing a Pinterest Party for… forever. We are all on Pinterest, pinning this and that, following each other’s boards, experimenting, etc. We wanted to throw a party where everything was inspired by the things we saw on Pinterest: we would cook Pinterest recipes, decorate with Pinterest decor & give gifts of DIY Pinterest.
Finally Natalie pulled the trigger and said, “My house, be there!” So last Friday night we finally had our Sisters Only Pinterest Party! I will try to link you to our “pins” that inspired all this merriment.
Natalie & I worked on the decor earlier in the week. Our goal was to keep the decorations, foods, gifts, etc. fun but still simple & inexpensive. So we used picture frames we already had and printed out the Pinterest logo (which they so willingly provide on their website) to fill them. I created a simple “Welcome to our Pinterest Party” sign that sat on the main table along with some pretty PInterest inspired vases that Natalie pinned.
And see all those little “p’s” on the table? I just used a template from Avery for 1” circle labels then used my 1” circle punch to cut them out. Instant Pinterest confetti!! We spread them all over the room.
At each place setting Natalie placed a little card of her favorite Pinterest quotes.
The food, oh the food! When you combine 6 girls who love to cook (and eat) you are going to get one crazy good meal.
We started out with appetizers from Adrienne and beverages from Andrea. The appetizers were bacon wrapped jalapenos with a cream cheese filling. Oh...my...goodness. I could have eaten the whole plate. But those other 5 couldn’t keep their hands off of them either, darn it.
Then there was the main course by Natalie: grilled spice rubbed chicken, veggie couscous and grilled asparagus (which we forgot to serve, oops!). Really tasty, but also really easy to put together. I don’t have her pins for those, maybe she’ll share later.
Each of us brought a small gift for each of the other sisters, which of course, was inspired by something we had pinned on Pinterest. My gift was hand dyed ombre tea towels, inspired by this pin:
They were sweet, salty, buttery… all the things a dessert should be.
It was a fun night of sharing, gabbing, eating and just being sisters. We plan to have more Pinterest Parties in the future, this was just the trial run. But it was so much fun and I look forward to the next one!