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Thursday, December 18, 2014

20 of The Best Christmas Mason Jar Gifts

Mason jars are all the rage right now, so with the holidays quickly approaching, I wanted to share a bunch of beautiful, simple Mason Jar Christmas Gifts ideas that are perfect for giving to neighbors and friends!

It's so easy to make a big batch of goodies, package them up all pretty in a jar and use it to make someone's day.  There are so many festive, fun Christmas desserts that can easily be thrown into Mason jars, and they always seem to look prettier and more professional that way too!   

I usually make about five different treats to include on the plates that I take to neighbors and friends, but this time, maybe one variety will suffice.  I bet your loved ones would be perfectly thrilled to receive any one of these!

I hope you find lots of holiday gift inspiration from this collection!
Mason Jar Santa Cakes @ Celebrations

Reindeer Chow Muddy Buddies @ This Silly Girl's Life

How-to Candy Cane Mason Jar @ Mason Jar Crafts Love

Gingerbread House Kit in a Jar @ 30 Minute Crafts

Peppermint Bark Dessert @ Hungry Happenings

Hugs & Kisses Mason Jar Gift @ Uncommon Designs

DIY Mint Sugar Scrub @ Love Grows Wild

Cookies in a Jar for Santa @ Make it Do

Candy Cane Bark @ The Frugal Girls

Cookie Mixes in a Jar @ The Life of  Modern Housewife 
Stacked Jar Hot Chocolate Snowmen @ Bargain Blessings


Snowman Hot Cocoa @ Serendipity Refined

Hot Cocoa Mason Jar Gift @ A Pumpkin and a Princess 

Countdown to Christmas in a Jar @ How Does She

Hot Chocolate Mix Gift in a Jar @ Love Grows Wild

Peppermint Sugar Scrub @ Mommy Musings

Peppermint Crunch Dark Chocolate Cookie Mix @ The Frugal Girls

Peppermint Pampering Gifts in a Jar @ The Gunny Sack

Cowgirl Cookies @ Bakerella

Peppermint Popcorn Neighbor Gift @ Design Dazzle

Which Mason jar gifts caught your eye?

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas Wreath Peppermint Chocolate Cookies

Christmas Wreath Peppermint Chocolate Cookies are a festive holiday treat that the kids can help make too!  
I just love this time of year and the fun desserts that come with it!  How about you?  Cookies are one of my favorite confections because they're hand-held and a snack-as-you-go type of thing.  I'm a multi-tasker, after all.  :)

I mean, why not enjoy a luscious chocolate goodie while prepping the house for guests?  These cookies are a perfect way to reward yourself for all your hard work gift shopping and cleaning before gatherings with friends and family.

If you're looking for a fun treat to make with the young ones when the weather's keeping them cooped up inside, these Christmas Wreath Cookies are just the thing!  I think they're pretty dang adorable.  They are super simple to make, but just remember to plan a little ahead because the cookie dough roll does need to chill for a few hours before baking. 
These cookies have the texture of a shortbread cookie, but with an incredible chocolate peppermint flavor that symbolizes the holiday season.  Yumm-o!  Ok, call the kiddos in, because we're ready to get started!

Recipe from Taste of Home

3/4 c. butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup milk (2%)
1 tsp. peppermint extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
1 lb. dark chocolate or white candy coating, baking chocolate or chocolate chips, melted
Assorted sprinkles

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in milk and extracts.  combine the flour, cocoa, cornstarch and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.

Shape dough into two 1 1/2-in. diameter rolls; wrap each roll in plastic wrap.  Freeze for 2 hours or until dough is firm.

Unwrap and cut into 1/4-in. slices.  Place 1 in. apart onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets.

Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-12 minutes or until set.  Remove to wire racks and let cool completely.

Dip cookies in candy coating; allow excess to drip off.  Place on waxed paper.  Decorate as desired with sprinkles to resemble wreaths; let stand until firm.
I just love the fun green and red sprinkles!  Too cute!

These are also perfectly beautiful gifts for neighbors and friends!  Happy holidays and  baking!  

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Reindeer Tracks Chocolate Mint Christmas Bark

Chocolate Mint Bark sprinkled with marshmallows, mini M&M's, almonds, and crispy rice cereal combines in a holiday treat I'm calling "Reindeer Tracks"!  These also make a great neighbor gift in a simple Mason jar tied with a bow.

If all the magic of Christmas could combine into one dessert/munchie it would be in the form of these Reindeer Tracks!  The fresh chocolate mint bark whisks me away on a sleigh ride through a white-frosted forest, while the pretty white marshmallows remind me of building snowmen as a child.  Fun red and green M&M's resemble cute reindeer noses, with almonds and crispy rice cereal for that extra crunch, like the reindeer feet make while prancing in the snow. 
It's a gorgeous and festive confection that just begs to be prettily packaged and given to neighbors and friends!
I love this time of the year for the gift-giving, merry-making with family and loved ones, Christmas caroling, reading heart-warming stories by the light of the tree with my kids, Polar Express rides, decking the halls with beautiful trinkets and wreaths, and the list could go on and on. 

What do you most enjoy about the holidays?
The excitement and butterflies that fill my soul during this season are all contained in this fun dessert, just waiting to be released with a bite.


1 1/2 c. mini white marshmallows
1/2 c. whole roasted, salted almonds
1/2 c. mini M&M's in Christmas colors
3/4 c. crispy rice cereal
1 bag (10 oz.) Nestle Winter Dark Chocolate & Mint Morsels (green and brown chips)

Measure toppings and have ready.  Melt the morsels in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between.  Stir until smooth.  Pour into a greased 13"x9" cake pan and spread evenly.  It will thinly cover the bottom.  Immediately sprinkle marshmallows, almonds, crispy rice cereal, and M&M's.  Cover pan with foil and place in the refrigerator until chocolate has completely set and is hard.  Remove and with a butter knife, break bark into pieces.  You may need to use a metal spatula to release the pieces from the bottom of the pan cleanly.  Place pieces in an air-tight container and store in the refrigerator until ready to eat.


These beauties are simply phenomenal and SO easy to make! In fact, call the kids in and let them help!  We watched the cartoon "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" while playing with the ingredients in the kitchen.  Good times and memories!
I hope you get caught up in the joy and magic of this wonderful season and that these Reindeer Tracks make their way into your home.  They won't disappoint! 

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy Family Movie Night with Groot Pretzel Dessert and Rocket Raccoon Felt Masks

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #OwnTheGalaxy #CollectiveBias

We were super excited when Guardians of the Galaxy released on DVD not long ago, so we had a family movie night to celebrate!  Are you as thrilled about it as we are?
We watched it in the theater and then waited with bated breath until we could own a copy of our own!
While we watched the movie the kids enjoyed holding their new Disney Infinity figures, that they played with prior to the show, and we made some adorably simple Groot figures out of chocolate-covered pretzels, that were gobbled right up.
The kids pretty much talked about Groot and cute little Rocket Raccoon nonstop after we first saw the movie in theaters.  Aren't they just the most adorable characters?  We think so.

So I whipped up a few Rocket Raccoon masks for the kids to wear while we watched the show together.  

Here's a quick "how-to": First measure the kids' heads.  Free-hand the individual parts (eyebrows, ear pieces, eye and nose pieces) on paper to use as a pattern.  I don't consider myself an artist, and this part was really easy.

Cut out the pattern pieces, trace them onto felt, cut, then sew them all together!  Hot glue would work too, but would not be as permanent.  Sew some ribbon pieces onto the sides of the mask so it can be tied in the back.

My son loved playing Rocket for the evening, as you can easily tell by his expression. :)
Walmart saved the day again in preparation for our fun evening together.  I picked up the Rocket, Star Lord, and Gamora Disney Infinity figures to add to the Groot figure that we already owned.  Then I of course grabbed a combo pack of the Guardians of the Galaxy on DVD and we were good to go!  (Pssssstt...all of these things make great Christmas gifts!)

You'll receive a $5 Walmart gift card when you purchase a Groot, Drax or Rocket Raccoon figure for Disney Infinity 2.0. From 12/7 - 12/13, when you buy one of these Disney Infinity 2.0 figures, the cashier should be prompted to give a $5 Walmart gift card instantly.  How awesome is that?  Hurry because the offer ends soon!
As for the movie, well, it's hard to miss on this display at Walmart and there will likely be flocks of people swarming around. :)
The DVD features an exclusive Character O-sleeve and exclusive music zinepack and a 64 page magazine with cast and crew interviews, exclusive behind-the-scenes photos and trivia PLUS a custom “cassette" laptop decal!
Peter Quail, i.e. the Star Lord is so cool and we think he's absolutely hilarious!  He carries around a sentimental Walkman from which he blasts tunes and dances.
Gamora is more on the serious side, but her abilities in battle are unmatched!  And, how could you not be intrigued by her green hue?
Silly Rocket the Raccoon was possibly my son's favorite personality in the show, thus the masks. :)
I've got three words for you..."I am Groot!"
The kids couldn't help but dance when Peter Quail turned on that Walkman.  The tunes really make you want to move!
It was a relaxing, but very fun night, and the entertainment couldn't have been better.
We topped it off with a Groot Pretzel Dessert!  I simply covered some straight pretzels in melted chocolate, let them set, then the kids arranged them to look like little Groots on the cookie sheet and admired them for about two seconds before helping themselves.

Though Groot doesn't say much, he has such a presence in the movie.  We laughed and laughed when his answer to everything was, "I am Groot".  And he sure is yummy in snack form!

Have you seen Guardians of the Galaxy yet?  If not, you need to jump on that.  :)

Who's your favorite character from the movie?

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Shabby Chic Winter Party with Perfect Pepperoni Recipe Ideas!

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PepItUp #CollectiveBias

I've always loved the shabby chic look, so I incorporated a pretty burlap and white theme into a fun winter party, complete with the yummiest Hormel Pepperoni appetizer bar!  Trust me when I say you need these fabulous recipes in your life. :)  The best part was that they were easy to prepare, which is what I need when I'm in full party mode.
I love winter for its many wonders, including the gorgeous white sparkly snow (if you're lucky enough to have it), the brisk air, and the overcast skies that make you want to snuggle up in a blanket, sit by the fire and watch a heart-warming movie.  So I included a sparkly white garland at the forefront of the table to remind me of the powdery white stuff that I so desperately miss from my growing up days.

I threw in some snowflakes on the party tablescape to represent that aspect of the season as well.  I lined the table with burlap, layered it with a burlap table runner for added texture and dimension, then pinned some burlap bows up front. It's simple, clean, and elegant...just the way I like things.
I whipped up some white tissue paper medallions that I overlapped on the wall for a pretty backdrop.  To make them, simply fold two pieces of tissue paper separately in accordion style.  Then tape or glue them on top of one another while still folded.  Fold it in half to create a guideline for the center of your medallion, then open it, fan it out in a circle and tape or glue the end pieces together.  Easy peasy!  I made five of them in no time at all, and I appreciate that they're an inexpensive and disposable decor piece.
I displayed snowflake picks in additional milk jars on an overturned wood crate. 
Isn't the backdrop breathtaking?  I think paper medallions-especially in jumbo form-are so impressive-looking!  I love inexpensive decor pieces that make a big impact, as this one certainly does.

I filled glass hurricanes with white chocolate candies and white candle votives and put them on either side of the centerpiece for symmetry. 
I used milk glass jars for the drinks with polka dot paper straws in them.  A simple limeade drink made from concentrate, with sliced limes and cranberries floating on top was a perfect thirst-quencher.
 I'm going to tell you all about these phenomenal Cranberry Meatball Sliders soon, but I added some large snowflake foam cutouts that I purchased, underneath each of the dishes at the buffet table.
I grabbed a few sizes of Hormel Pepperoni from Walmart in preparation for this wonderful event.  Since I chose to serve appetizers, Pepperoni Minis made total sense. But those found in the Original pillow pack were ideal for the sliders.
Now let's discuss in detail my favorite part of the entire event...the food, of course!  I wanted to serve a delightful array of appetizers for a late evening party so guests could munch as they pleased.  

I have to say that these Twice-Baked Pepperoni Potatoes are completely delectable!  Filled with a blend of mashed potatoes, feta and cheddar cheeses, cream cheese and rosemary, then loaded with Hormel Pepperoni Minis in the filling and sprinkled on top, this hors d'oeuvres is simply irresistible!  I love how unusual it is, as well.  And, it ended up being a hand-held delicacy for those who chose to eat the potato skins!

Yield: 12 halves

6 small potatoes, baked
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 c. cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp. salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1/4 c. sour cream
2 oz. cream cheese, softened
Milk for thinning filling mixture
1/2 c. Hormel Pepperoni Minis, plus more for topping

Bake your potatoes.  I baked mine at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes since mine were small.  Let cool slightly.  Cut each potato in half lengthwise, then use a spoon to scoop out the potato.  You'll want to leave enough potato lining the skin so it doesn't fall apart.
Add the potato, garlic powder, cheddar cheese, salt, pepper, and rosemary to a large bowl.  
Mash mixture together until well combined.
Add sour cream and softened cream cheese.
Mash together well.
Add milk, a few tablespoons at a time, and continue to mash until mixture is creamy.  Add Hormel Pepperoni Minis and stir.
Fill each potato and place on a baking sheet.
Top with cheddar cheese and sprinkle with additional Hormel Pepperoni Minis.
Next up are these yummy, spicy Pepperoni Jalapeno Poppers!  They of course have a kick even after removing the seeds and membranes from the peppers, but the heat adds another dimension of delicious!  The creamy, cheesy filling is to die for, and the Hormel Pepperoni Minis on top give it a nice meaty pizzazz as it reaches the palate.

Yield: 8 poppers

3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. Feta cheese
2 Tbsp. finely minced onion
2 Tbsp. chopped, fresh cilantro
1/4 c. shredded Pepper Jack cheese
Hormel Pepperoni Minis for topping

Cut off the top 1/3 of each Jalapeño.  Remove the seeds and membranes.  Wear kitchen gloves and use caution not to touch the face while working with jalapeños.    
Place cream cheese, Feta, minced onion, cilantro, and Pepper Jack cheese in a bowl.
Fill each jalapeño with mixture (use about 1 Tbsp) and place  on a baking sheet.
Top with Hormel Pepperoni Minis and bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 18 minutes.

Save $1.00 on the purchase of any two (2) HORMEL® Pepperoni packages with THIS coupon.
And last, but certainly not least, we enjoyed some phenomenal Cranberry Pepperoni Meatball Sliders!  The sweet and savory cranberry chili sauce was a perfect compliment to the meatballs and Hormel Original Pepperoni.  They were meaty, flavorful, and yummy in every way!
Makes about 10 sliders
Based on allrecipes 

16 oz. meatballs, prepared and baked (Mine were ready-made, but homemade is great too)
1 (8 oz.) can jellied cranberry sauce
3/4 c. chili sauce
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 c. Hormel Original Pepperoni

In a large skillet, stir together jellied cranberry sauce, chili sauce, brown sugar, and lemon juice.  Add meatballs and Hormel pepperoni and stir until well coated.  Simmer over low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  Serve on slider rolls.

The pepperoni foods were the talk of the evening and made for the perfect spread of appetizers at this beautiful Shabby Chic Winter Party!  

Be sure to follow Hormel on Facebook and Twitter for more great recipe ideas!

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