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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Soft Lemon Poppyseed Cookies: January Mystery Dish

I love the citrus flavor, so today I've made a luscious and soft Lemon Poppyseed Cookie that you won't be able to resist!

It's time for some more Mystery Dish!  Katie from Made to be a Momma came up with the following list of ingredients from which we were all asked to use three.

1. Poppyseed
2. Lemon
3. Cream cheese
4. Hot sauce 
5. Chicken
6. Orzo Pasta
7. Baby spinach 
8. Coconut
9. Mushrooms
10. Ritz crackers
11. Fresh herbs ( any kind) 

Because I look for every opportunity I can get to make a dessert, I knew I needed to incorporate poppyseed, fresh lemon, and cream cheese into a yummy cookie!  
It was fate that I made these delicious puppies, because not a few hours after doing so, the missionaries from our church dropped by for a surprise visit.  I always like to offer them food when they come, because they're starving young boys (lol), so I was really glad I'd whipped up some cookies.

The cream cheese makes them really soft.  I rolled them in sugar for an added sweet pop as they hit the palate.  

They're a naturally very fluffy cookie, but I chose to press them with a fork as you might a peanut butter cookie, after pulling them from the oven.  

{SOFT LEMON POPPY SEED COOKIES}

1 c. granulated sugar, plus extra for rolling
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 large egg
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
3/4 tsp. lemon extract
3 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 drops yellow food coloring (optional), or more to yield a deeper yellow color
2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. poppy seeds

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine sugar, vanilla, butter, egg, lemon zest, lemon extract, lemon juice, cream cheese, and food coloring.  In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and poppy seeds,  

Add flour mixture to wet mixture and mix until combined.  Form cookies into balls slightly bigger than walnut-size.  Roll in sugar and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and press each cookie top with a fork cross-wise.  Return sheet to the oven and bake for another 2 minutes, approximately.  Don't allow the bottoms to get too brown or the cookies will not be soft.

Let cookies sit for three to five minutes before removing to a cooling rack. Store in air-tight container to preserve their softness.


They have the perfect amount of lemon flavor and a fun sprinkling of poppy seeds in every bite, because lemon and poppy seeds were meant to be married. :)

I hope you love this super soft and tasty cookie!  I know we often associate citrus flavors with summer time, but I could eat these wonderful things all year round!

Enjoy this handheld treat!


Check out what the rest of the talented bunch made this month!

Lemon-Poppy Seed-Coconut Cookie Cups by The Smart Cookie Cook
Lemon Poppyseed Coconut Waffles by Made to be a Momma

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

DIY Burlap and Lace LOVE Pillow

This burlap and lace LOVE pillow is a perfect way to decorate for Valentine's Day! It's a simple DIY project that lends a romantic touch to any sofa or bed!  All it takes are a few inexpensive supplies, too.
This time of year has a special place in my heart because I get to look forward to Valentine's Day, or "LOVE DAY" as we call it at my house.  I appreciate that there is a day devoted to recognizing and expressing greater love to those we hold dear.  My kids look forward to February 14th because it usually means a small gift for them as well.

If you read my blog, you'll know that I look for any reason I can to celebrate!  I love to party and enjoy special time with my friends and family.  Valentine's Day is just another of those excuses, so I'll take it!

I wanted to make a home decor item that would symbolize this special day, so here goes! I originally shared this project over at The Ribbon Retreat where I am thrilled to be a quarterly contributor.

{SUPPLIES}

Lace I used Natural or Off-White in 7/8"
Burlap
Sewing Machine (or you can hand stitch)
Batting

I originally planned to use the satin ribbon to make a bow, but decided against it in the end.
Cut two squares of burlap equal in size.  Mine measured 12" x 12".
Start by arranging your lace lettering in the center of the pillow.  I used a separate piece of lace for each letter and used a heart shape in the place of the "o".  You'll want to leave some space on the edges for the seams.
I wanted my letters to pop, so I just tacked/hand sewed them in certain places, such as where the lace crossed and a few other spots, to ensure they would stay put. 
Now you're going to sew around the pillow, using 1/2" seams, leaving one side open.  I failed to take a picture of this last step, but simply stuff the pillow, leaving a little space at the open edge so you can sew it closed.  Then sew the opening closed (I used a machine) and you're done! 
I love that the lettering has a 3-D effect. As time goes on, the edges will fray, which is just the look I was going for.  The pillow lends a fun touch of shabby chic to my sofa!  And it really pops next to my red chevron pillow, don't you think? 

Of course this pillow is purely decorative and won't be able to be washed, but I don't think that will be a problem, since it will only be making a short appearance each year around Valentine's Day.

Happy Love Day!

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Create a Simple and Charming Brunch Bar with Sweet Rolls

I can't wait to show you how easy it is to set up a simple and charming brunch bar with lots of cinnamon roll appetizers for a fun morning gathering!

I've said before that I believe entertaining should be simple and as low stress as possible.  When guests are in the home, I want to spend as much time enjoying their company, because isn't that what partying is all about?

I absolutely love breakfast foods!  You'll never catch this girl skipping the first and most important meal of the day.  :)  So I wanted to put together a fun brunch bar with easy appetizers and lots of color!

I wanted the table spread to look like what a bright, happy morning should...with a few rays of yellow sunshine peeking through the window shades, urging me to get up and start my day.

I had so much fun planning all the little details of this morning event!  Come see!
I used a few, very easy-to-find staples from Walmart for the hors d'oeuvres.  I grabbed a plethora of canisters of Pepperidge Farm Sweet Rolls and stocked up on Tropicana 100% Florida Orange Juice (mmmmmm!) in preparation.
The sweet rolls are located in the refrigerated foods section at Walmart near the butter and biscuits.
I whipped up some pretty Bacon-Wrapped Sweet Roll Bites by first baking a few batches of Pepperidge Farm Sweet Rolls (in Apple Cinnamon and Pecan Caramel), then cutting each in fourths.  Then I simply wrapped a piece of cooked bacon around each quarter and secured with a toothpick.  Easy peasy and so impressive-looking!  Who doesn't love bacon and sweet rolls?  Combine the two and you've got perfection in every bite! 
I found a fun yellow hexagon box that was perfect for housing some fresh oranges.
I lined the table with some patterned fabric that coordinated splendidly with the yellow accents.  I purchased some plain chipboard pennants and painted them with antique white craft paint, then gave them some cute brown polka dots.

A decorative white shutter was the perfect backdrop to hold my handmade chalkboard quotes.

I love the wooden "hello", because I feel like it's a perfect word to signal a new day with new opportunities!
These Cinnamon Roll Mini Waffles are a breeze to "make".  I'll show you how.
It's as easy as 1-2-3!  First, spray your waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray, place your Pepperidge Farm Sweet Roll in the center (or wherever you'd like), allow it to cook, then remove and admire your cute little sweet roll waffle! 
We topped ours with some phenomenal homemade Orange Syrup...
...it's a thing of beauty...I could watch that gorgeousness pour all day...
...and some chopped pecans that came in the (Pepperidge Farm Pecan Caramel) sweet roll canister.  You'll want to lick the platter clean.
I can't forget the Cinnamon Twists!  These were the quickest item on the menu to make! I simple unrolled each sweet roll, cut the strip in half, and twisted each piece by holding each end with a hand and turning my hands.  Place on a cookie sheet and bake for approximately 10 minutes at the temperature directed on the canister, or until not doughy. 
We washed everything down with some delicious Tropicana 100% Florida Orange Juice in pretty milk glasses with chevron-printed straws.  
To round things off, I served an Orange-Glazed Fruit Salad.  I simply chopped up some mixed fruit (strawberries, cantaloupe) and some whole green grapes, then topped it with some Homemade Citrus Glaze.

{ORANGE-GLAZED FRUIT SALAD}
Adapted slightly from Taste of Home

2 cups orange juice
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. corn starch
3 cups cubed cantaloupe
2 1/2 cups green grapes
2 1/2 cups halved fresh strawberries

In a small sauce pan, whisk together orange juice, sugar and cornstarch.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens.  Remove from heat.  Allow to mostly cool.  Transfer to a different bowl if desired.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.  Pour over fruit and toss to coat just before serving.

I thought the party spread was totally charming with all the fun colors, textures, and patterns.  See, hosting a brunch doesn't have to be a ton of work!  

What was your favorite element of this event?

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Family Movie Night Fun with The Boxtrolls and Gooey Salted Caramel Popcorn Balls

“This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Universal Pictures, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #BoxtrollsFamilyNite http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

We love watching movies as a family and recently discovered the oh-so-adorable movie called The Boxtrolls! Combined with Soft and Gooey Caramel Popcorn Balls on sticks, easy Boxtroll costumes, and paper cheese hats, it was the perfect night!
We've designated every Monday night at our house to what we call "Family Home Evening".  We spend time together without distractions from school work, video games, tablets, and smart phones, etc.  It's a breath of fresh air that we look forward to each week.

We choose a fun activity to do as a family this particular night, which typically ends up being a movie that we see together.  The evening just isn't complete without a special dessert!  That's usually my favorite part. :)
When we saw The Boxtrolls on shelves during our last shopping trip to Walmart, we knew we needed to give it a watch! And because it's not a movie without popcorn, we picked up some Pop Secret (10 count) to use in our family night treat.  We like Pop Secret because it's the butteriest, most flavorful popcorn and tastes just like the kind you can get at the movie theater.

I was in the mood for some serious Soft and Gooey Salted Caramel Popcorn Balls, so that's what we got.  :) And, it's a snack that I'm sure The Boxtrolls would gobble right up!
Because everything needs a little dose of chocolate, at least in my book, I drizzled them with melted dark chocolate. It's an easy breezy thing to make that the whole family will love!

{SALTED CARAMEL POPCORN BALLS}

16 c. popped popcorn (about two bags of Pop Secret popcorn)
2 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. karo syrup
1/4 c. salted butter
1/4 tsp. salt
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla
Chocolate chips for melting and drizzling
Pop 2 bags (or about 16 cups) of Pop Secret Movie Butter Popcorn.
Prepare caramel sauce by stirring together brown sugar, karo syrup, butter, and salt in a large pan over medium heat.  Allow to boil, stirring constantly.  Immediately remove from heat and stir in sweetened condensed milk and vanilla.  Return to heat and allow to boil again, stirring constantly.  Immediately pour over popcorn and lightly toss/stir to coat.
Allow popcorn to cool for a little while or it will be impossible to form balls.  When it's mostly or all the way cool, get two pieces of wax paper and use them to grab a handful of caramel popcorn.  Insert a popsicle stick and pack it together tightly with your hands over the wax paper.  Carefully remove wax paper.  You'll need new pieces of wax paper for each ball.
Lay the balls on a wax or parchment-paper lined cookie sheet.  Drizzle with melted chocolate,  if desired.
Now enjoy them while watching The Boxtrolls!  My kids were mesmerized by it.
I whipped up some Boxtroll costumes by simply cutting out circles for the head, and arms in some boxes we had in our garage.  I like to keep boxes around just for occasions like these.  They always come in handy.  :)

I was the coolest mom on the block for this!  The kids thought being a Boxtroll was pretty awesome.  My son woke up the next morning and first thing put his box on.  :)  He decided he was "Fish" because "Fish was the nicest Boxtroll". :)

Since the city's mayor/Lord in the movie is obsessed with fine cheese, I made some cheese hats by folding yellow paper and cutting out holes.  It was super easy.  See a quick tutorial HERE for how it's done.  I made mine without the tassels of course.  Just make sure your paper isn't square.
 It was such a fun evening and I loved that the movie had an underlying value of "You make you"  No one else can tell you who you are or who you should be.  

The "lessers" in the village wore red hats and the "higher ups" wore the white hats.  The goal, of course, especially for the main villain, was to become a "white hat", so he tried to claw his way to the top, without a care for others. 

I got to talk to my kids afterwards about how each of us determines our own destiny and can choose our own path.  Also, that we should be careful about judging others based solely on their appearance.  Everyone in the town seriously misjudged the Boxtrolls just because they looked scary and mean, but they weren't like that in actuality. 

We had a wonderful evening dressing up, eating yummy caramel popcorn balls, watching The Boxtrolls, and just enjoying some precious time together as a family.  The movie has been on instant replay at our house since we got it! :)

Be sure to grab a copy and some 10 count Pop Secret popcorn (while supplies last) on your next trip to Walmart so you can have your own fun family movie night soon!

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Friday, January 23, 2015

10 Indulgent Valentine's Day Desserts

Celebrate Valentine's Day with one of these decadent red and white desserts!
I look forward to Valentine's Day not only because I get to celebrate and recognize the ones I love, but also because it's an excuse to eat a tasty and festive sweet treat!  Yum! 

There are so many tempting options out there on Pinterest and in blogland, but this bunch of ten caught my eye and got me drooling!  Today's post is loaded with red and white cakes, layered confections, and handheld treats! 

I hope you have a wonderful Love Day!
No-Bake Cheesecake Truffles @ A Beautiful Mess

Heart-Shaped White Chocolate Bark Bites @ No. 2 Pencil

Cherry Bark @ Shugary Sweets

Strawberry Bliss @ Make Bake Celebrate

Raspberry Mousse @ Love Grows Wild

Red Velvet Ice Cream Cake @ Taste and Tell

Red Velvet Cake Roll @ Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Strawberries and Cream Poke Cake @ Six Sisters' Stuff

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake @ Cooking Classy

Raspberry Chocolate Crumb Bars @ I Dig Pinterest

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