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My Cup Runneth Over: December 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

ORANGE CRANBERRY WHOOPIE PIES

Happy Friday all!  Around my full-time job, this is a great day... weekend here we come!  Recently though, I traveled to the office for our annual work Christmas party.  It is so nice to take time to see my co-workers and hear about their adventures.  

Every year, we are asked if anyone would like to bake for the dessert table. They provide the yummy lunch (thanks KB and KP!) and we provide the sweetness.  Now, this is where it gets embarrassing. I always bake. always. I just didn't bake these...
No, I didn't buy cookies this year, but I did make something very basic because I ran out of time.  Why is this embarrassing, you wonder?  Because, when I got to the party this year, a fellow co-worker said "OOO, what did you make this year?!!?"  LOL.  You see, last year I created a recipe for them -(posted here) Mini Peppermint Bark Cheesecakes.  AAnnnddd, once you have made "a special" treat, it's expected.  OOPS.

This is what I was planning to make for them, it just didn't happen until this week.  Sorry ladies!!
I love orange and cranberry together.  It's very holiday feeling and a whoopie pie just sounded right this year!  Turns out, these were much easier to make than I originally thought.  WOO HOO!  I love easy recipes, don't you?
Orange Cranberry Whoopie Pies

For the cookie/pie part:
4 cups flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. grated orange peel
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups frozen, fresh cranberries, chopped 

For the filling:
2 - 8oz.  packages of cream cheese, softened
1 cup butter, softened
6 cups confectioner sugar
2 tsp. vanilla

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in one bowl.  In a larger bowl, mix all remaining ingredients except for cranberries.  Add dry ingredients to wet all at once.  Stir just until combined.  Fold in cranberries.  

Using parchment paper, drop amounts of batter by tablespoon (or 2 tbsp if you want them bigger) onto cookie sheets.  Bake at 400 degrees for 9 minutes.  (11-12 minutes if you dropped by 2 tbsp).  Cool one minute on sheet and then remove to cooling racks, covered with parchment paper.  

While cookies are baking, mix filling recipe ingredients with mixer until well combined.  Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Once cookies are cooled, match up closest sizes and shapes.  Pipe filling (however much you like) onto bottom of one cookie and place the matching one on top.  Press gently to sandwich together.  Continue until done.  Makes about 36 whoopie pies.  (1 tbsp size)
Can I just say.. OH.MY.YUM.  I love the orange and cranberry!! I hope your holidays are merry and bright!! Great big squeezie hugs to ya!  Thanks for stopping by... reading... have I told you that you are AWE-SOME?!?! 

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

HOW TO MAKE A HOLIDAY MAILBOX SWAG

Happy Tuesday!  How are you?  Getting ready for your holiday?  I spent most of the weekend in full Christmas mode.  I was decorating, baking (can't wait to share that with you!!), watching the pretty snow fall and Christmas crafting with the kiddos.  Bliss.  True bliss.

One of the things I enjoy most about the holiday is giving to others.  I want to teach my kids about doing nice things and surprising others with a bit of holiday cheer.  If I could sing, we would totally Christmas carols, but this girl is totally tone deaf!  So, I must come up with other ways to give.  

This year I made some mailbox swag for our friends with fresh greens.  I packed up the kids and we secretly decorated our friends mailboxes.  After we were done, we knocked on the door to say Merry Christmas!  What an amazing blessing we get from seeing their eyes twinkle!

Here's how I made the swag:
Buy some fresh cut greens from your local nursery or produce place.  I suggest buying a variety - cedar, white pine, pine, etc.  I purchased bundles that had a variety for only about 3.50 each.  
Make even amounts of each kind of branches and start with the longest ones.  I used a bucket to mimic the shape of the mailboxes.  
1.  Lay the first branches in opposite directions and secure with wire.  (you may need a bit a help to make it tight)  2.  Continue to add the differing branches in opposite directions to the original bundle - going from longer to shorter, securing again each time you add another set of branches.  3.  Close up of how to secure.  

4.  Gather decorative items to add to your branch bundles.  I used ornaments from the dollar store, ribbon and bows I made.  (see below) 5 & 6.  Add the ornaments by cutting 2 pieces of ribbon or twine to 2 lengths.  Tie an ornament on each end and secure to middle of your bundle. (Don't you just love those little pine cones!!)
Here is how to make the bow.  Wrap ribbon around itself, making sure to have 4 loops on each side.  Secure tightly in the center.  Once secure pull loops out, 1 at a time, and twist up toward the middle.  Alternate sides of the loops until they are all pulled up and arrange as desired.  It really is much simpler than it looks, as long as you have wired ribbon!

I secured the ribbon, as well as one long piece to hang down on each side, to my bundle of branches.  Last, but not least, secure a tag with your greeting.  I just wrote Merry Christmas on one side and signed the back.  

Here's how ours turned out!  We took some extra wire and just secured to the mailboxes.
Our friends were very happy to see us and their fun decor.  Now they make all their neighbors jealous ;).  I hope you are having a wonderful holiday - spreading joy and cheer wherever you may be!  XOXO,
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Linking up with:
Thrifty Decor Chick 2013 Holiday Party
Link Party Palooza - Tater Tos and Jello

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

MULLING SPICES GIFT and FREE GIFT LABEL PRINTABLE

Hello. Hello! How's it going?  Happy holidays to all of you!  Have you decorated yet?  Not much has happened here yet this year... Why?? Well, it seems we spent too much time lately redoing a room I am bursting at the seams to show you.  I will, I promise.  It's just not quite done yet.  

This fall has been a super busy one for us.  It started back in October when the hubs and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary and visited the NY Finger Lakes.  It was an amazing trip! Here's our cheeseball picture of us - not bad for a cell phone selfie, right? I love this guy!
One of the many things we did while we were enjoying the beautiful views, was visit a few wineries.  There are so many amazing ones around each lake, and it was cool to taste many and get to take a few home with us to enjoy.  

That is the inspiration for our gift this year to our neighbors, friends and anyone on your list (that is an adult, of course)!  While visiting one of the wineries, they gave us a sample of their mulled wine.  Wow, I really loved it. It was warm, and made us feel super cozy - perfect for a winter day!
I wrote down the ingredients for the mulling spice and bought a bottle of the wine they suggested.  It is a semi-sweet red wine, but really you could give mulling spices with apple cider as well. 

We also found a local bulk food store outside of Penn Yan, NY and bought most of the spices.  Do you have a bulk food store in your area?  Holy cow, was this one neat.  Amazing prices for so many great things- just weighed and priced per pound.  (I totally asked around and found out we have one in our area here too! Score!)

Here's what you will need to make the mulling spices:  Whole Cloves, Whole Allspice, Cinnamon Sticks and dried orange peels.  You will also need cheesecloth and baker's twine.  (They were out of dried orange peel at the bulk foods place so I just peeled a bunch of oranges and used my food dehydrator to make my own)  
Place a pinch of each in a square of cheesecloth and tie in a knot.  The wine cork is tied to the spices to help them float in your crock pot.  Just make sure to purchase a bottle of wine that has a cork for your gift!  The instructions are included below.
Now the fun part!  I created these fun {FREE!!} labels to add to your wine bottle and a tag to hang on the mulling spices with instructions.  I just love the song "Baby, It's Cold Outside" and couldn't resist including it for this gift.Just click here to download them.  There's 2 per sheet. 

This is the label for the front of the bottle - it's 4 X 6.
The below is the tag for the mulling spice.  Just cut it out, fold in half at the middle and punch a hole for the twine.  
I know you are thinking to yourself, would this be yummy?  It really is! As soon as I made this first bag of spices, we used it right up.  I was so excited to try it, I forgot to take a picture of the bottle of wine before I poured it in the crockpot.  Darn.  I had to run to get another one..... oh well ;).   
Don't forget that the mulling spices could also make great home scent by just adding the spices to a pot of water and heating on the stove!

Here are the instructions as they are printed on the tag above:

Instructions for Holiday Cheer:
Remove cork from wine bottle and tie to mulling spice bag.  Mix the following ingredients in a crock pot and warm on low.  
1 bottle red wine (semi-sweet) 
1/2 cup brown sugar 
1 1/2 cup water
package of Mulling Spices
Steep Mulling Spices for 45 minutes.  Serve warm.  Enjoy!
I love this gift - and can't wait to hand it over with lots of holiday cheer!! What are you giving this holiday season?  Anything to warm up down to your toes?  I'd love to hear about it!  Leave a comment, post up on Facebook - spread the Christmas spirit!  Thanks for stopping over!
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Linking Up with the great blogs!
Someday Crafts
Get Your DIY On - The Happy Housie
Link Party Palooza - Tater Tos and Jello