Talk to you all when we get back!
Hope everyone is having a good week! I’m loving all things Christmas around here. Its getting pretty cold (for Portland), but it just makes me want to snuggle
my cats my husband and watch Christmas movies.
I’m also excited because I have Cooking Club with my girlfriends this week! (One of our fave recipes here.) We try to have Cooking Club once a month, but as these things go, sometimes we miss it and sometimes not everyone is able to come.
This month all the gals are available and I’m so looking forward to catching up with everyone. In true Cooking Club form, we decided that we’d just have pizza, salad, and drinks to leave maximum time for chatting :)
So when I was given the opportunity to write about Duncan Hines, it was perfect! What a great time to make an easy dessert and fun drink to share with my friends!
I made the Duncan Hines milk chocolate brownies. Its family size, so there was enough to give Matt a couple and have plenty for the girls.
I just followed the super easy directions on the back, but replaced half of the oil with homemade applesauce. It turned out great!
To go along with the brownies, I made a festive peppermint martini. The peppermint flavor is the perfect complement to the brownies, they taste great together!
Now Cooking Club isn’t until Thursday but of course Matt and I had to taste test the drinks.
Here is the easy recipe.
Combine equal parts 2% milk (could use cream or nonfat, just depends on your preference), vodka, and peppermint coffee creamer. Put in a shaker with a few ice cubes. Shake and pour. Simple as that!
The peppermint martini and Duncan Hines brownie combo is a perfect holiday dessert for a night with friends! Can’t wait :)
Do you have a favorite holiday dessert or drink? Please share!
Remember to check out Duncan Hines' website www.duncanhines.com to find some great recipes for your holiday get-together! I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective.
Last weekend Matt and I joined my sister and parents in a hunt for the perfect Christmas trees.
Actually, the Christmas trees were more of an excuse to visit this guy.
Plus all of his animal friends. Our family went to a Christmas tree farm on the outskirts of the Portland suburbs in order to visit some cute animals.
The baby alpacas are so cute! We loved them. We also got to visit a cute set of friends – a sheep and a cow (damn! I don’t remember what type of cow it is but I think he’s Norwegian).
On our walk to the tree lot, we got to say hi to these gals. Matt and I don’t think we’ve ever seen a camel in person before!
Don’t worry – we did remember to get a Christmas tree. We decided to put it in the TV room so it was visible as you walked in the house (and let’s face it, Matt and I spend a lot of evenings in front of the tube).
We had Spanish coffees, turned on the Christmas music, and decorated the tree. Diego helped.
I love our tree! We throw all decor rules out the window and just use colorful lights and ornaments that have been given to us, ‘borrowed’ from our parents, or picked up along our travels.
I got that tree skirt at the dollar store. For a buck, its perfect :)
Here’s the cats view. They sit under the tree a lot. I think they’re pretending they are outside, but with a heater :)
Have you decorated your tree? Do you have a decor theme? Use sentimental ornaments?
Since Thanksgiving is coming oh so soon, I thought I’d the very best cranberry sauce recipe in case you need something to add to your meal on Thursday.
How to Make Fresh Cranberry Sauce
4 packages cranberries (3 lbs)
The rind of 3 oranges
One cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups sugar
2 cups brown sugar
Pick over and wash cranberries and place in a roomy saucepan with sugar, brown sugar, orange rinds, orange juice, and cinnamon.
Bring to a boil, stir occasionally, cover and boil just until the cranberries burst - four to five minutes. Sauce jells when cold.
(For me it was sorta hard to tell when the cranberries burst. It looks like this.)
Makes about 2 quarts (and makes your house smell great!).
Its starting to get chilly in Portland, which makes me crave soup, apple crisp, hot cocoa, pretty much any comfort food. I love curling up on the couch with a blanket, hot dinner, and a little Modern Family. (Yes, we usually eat in front of the TV. We take advantage while we don’t have kids. Once kids come along, to the dinner table we go.)
One of my favorite comfort food recipes is this butternut squash risotto. Some of my girlfriends and I get together around once a month to try new recipes, drink wine, and best of all, gossip :) I got this recipe last Fall from one of my cooking club friends, and I’ve made it several times since then. Its delicious!
Creamy Orzo Risotto with Butternut Squash (serves 4)
1 spray cooking spray
2 cups butternut squash, cut into small cubes
1/2 tsp olive oil
1/8 tsp table salt, or to taste
1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup uncooked orzo
1/2 a small onion (not part of the original recipe, I just added it)
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup canned chicken broth
1 tsp thyme, fresh, or 8 whole sprigs (sprigs preferred)
2 Tbsp fat-free half-and-half
1/3 cup(s) grated Parmesan
1/8 tsp table salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp black pepper, freshly ground, or to taste
Wine (at cooking club, we don’t dine without wine :))
Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat a small rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
(My first step is to con my husband into peeling and chopping up the squash. For some reason I just really don’t like this step.)
In a medium bowl, toss squash with oil and salt; spread in a single layer on prepared baking sheet, leaving space between squash cubes. Roast, stirring halfway through, until squash is tender and lightly browned, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat; add orzo. Stir constantly until orzo begins to smell toasty, about 3 minutes. This is where I added the onion. It was still pretty strong but a great addition. Next time I’d probably sauté the onion first for a couple minutes before adding the butter and orzo.
Add water, broth and thyme sprigs; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until liquid is nearly absorbed, about 15 minutes.
Remove thyme sprigs; stir in half-and-half, cheese and roasted squash. Season well with salt and pepper; serve.
Can I just say that food is really hard to photograph? I can’t seem to get a picture that looks appetizing :)
I’d love to hear if you try this recipe! What is your favorite comfort food for the chilly weather?Pin It
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