Recipe, Party and Decorating Ideas
|December 2006 Tip - Gift Guide and Snoball Cookies|
Holiday Gift Giving Ideas and Snoball Cookies
|Still searching for that perfect gift? No idea what to get the folks on your gift list this year? The mind is completely void of all holiday ideas? With all the|
|holiday activities that go on during this wonderful, but sometimes hectic season, it can be very difficult to come up with that great gift idea on top of everything else. We put together a few gift ideas that we hope will help you in your quest for the perfect gift or spark an idea or two to help you fulfill your holiday gift-giving list. Of course the one thing that always makes a fabulous gift, or just to have when sitting down planning out your holiday gift giving strategy...cookies!! Below you will find our Mom's recipe for one of our favorite holiday cookies, snoballs.
Tea LoversTea has become very popular in the last few years as well as tea accessories. You could put together your own tea gift basket or purchase a tea gift set. To make your own, start out with an oversized latte cup and fill with loose tea in a small tea tin, a box of make your own tea sacks ("t-sacs"), and the perfect teaspoon. For a little extra fun you could add-in decorative teacup magnets and notecards. A great place for tea and tea accessories is Bonjour Gourmet. They carry several varieties of loose-leaf tea, St. Dalfour tea, Stash tea, Yogi Tea, Chanakara Tea, and many more. Bonjour Gourmet also carries tea accessories such as the T-Sacs, teaspoons, tea strainers, tea presses and teapots. If you don't want to put together your own tea gift basket, Bonjour Gourmet also has a huge selection of tea gift boxes and gift sets. I will admit, I am a coffee drinker myself, but after looking at Bonjour's adorable tea gift sets, I may just have to give tea a try, especially the Stash Holiday Tea Trio Gift of Holiday Chai, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Morning teas.
The CookA great idea if you have a culinary genius on your list who loves to create in the kitchen is a cookbook basket. For your basket, use a nice mixing bowl, colander, or baking pan. Then mix in slowly...okay just kidding. You can then fill the bowl or pan with a favorite cookbook, kitchen utensils such as spatulas, whisks, measuring spoons or cups. Another nice touch is to add in a few bookmarks, post-it flags, or recipe cards so they can mark or write down their favorite recipes. If your cook is a veteran chef when it comes to the kitchen, more than likely they will already have all the latest in kitchen utensils and accessories. If this is the case, instead of the utensils, pick out one of the recipes in the cookbook and put in those ingredients, especially if there are unique spices or oils needed for the dish. An enchanting cookbook just released for the holidays, is Colorado Cravings, Recipes and Romance, by Gail Riley with Bette Milleson James, gorgeously illustrated and designed by Pamela McCarville. Gail Riley, innkeeper of the award winning Highland Haven Creekside Inn in Evergreen, Colorado, invites you to experience some of Colorado's rustic mountain charm and hospitality throughout the pages of this beautifully done cookbook. Colorado Cravings not only provides delicious recipes, but charming decorating ideas too. To read more about this stunning book and purchasing information, visit our Favorite Cookbook Blog. In addition, if you need kitchen utensils, Bonjour Gourmet has a great selection of those too.
The TravelerIf you have a jet setter on your list or someone who has a big trip planned in the near future you could put together a travel bag for them. Get an inexpensive tote or small bag and fill it with travel guides and maps to either their destination or unique and unusual places. Include luggage tags, passport cover, water bottle and a writing journal for them to record all their adventures. All Us All the time has a large selection of uniquely designed luggage tags as well as matching key chains and compact mirrors.
The Movie BuffThis is a particularly fun idea if you need a gift for a couple, a movie basket. Start out with a good-sized popcorn bowl and fill it with microwave popcorn, licorice, pretzels, and chocolate candies. Then select a DVD, which can be a recent release or old time classic. A perfect gift for a couple to have a perfect evening together watching a movie. Depending on the movie, you could even throw in some fun accessories such as movie posters, calendars, and little action figures. Action figures? Why yes, if you have looked at any ads or have watched any TV at all, you could not have missed the release of the summer blockbuster hit, Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Man's Chest and the plethora of merchandise to go with it. You can't turn around in a store without running into a teeny tiny pirate. So we say if you can't beat them, you might as well join them. If you happen to be giving the gift of Pirates this holiday, we have the perfect greeting cards, gift tags, button gift tags, and gift labels for you. Our Santa Pirate Skull is sure to bring a few laughs this holiday with his "Shiver me Timbers" holiday greetings. The perfect accompaniment to any pirate flick.
The PoetFor all of those who love to correspond and write beautiful letters and poetry, I would be remise not to mention the unique and whimsical stationery, notecards and journals we are offering on our site, and what an absolute wonderful gift they would make. We have our romantic hand-sewn stationery sachets filled with enchanting stationery, tie them up in a bow and they do not even need to be gift wrapped. Also available on our site is Stationery Sheet gift sets, playful stationery sheets with coordinating envelopes, gel pens, and matching stickers. Our notecard and magnet sets also make lovely gifts with whimsical and playful designs. We also just added over 20 new journal designs available in two sizes for both writers and artists. Be sure to visit our site for these great gift items as well as our collection stocking stuffer gifts.
The Cookie EaterTis' the season to spread good cheer and nothing spreads cheer more than cookies. Below you will find a recipe for a festive, delicious and one of the simplest cookies to make for holidays, snoball cookies. Bake up a batch or two (depending on how much cheer you are wanting to spread) of the snoball cookies. Then take small clear cellophane bags fill them up with cookies and tie a ribbon around the top. Perfect for giving to teachers, neighbors, the postman, and all those folks you want to show your appreciation to and wish a wonderful holiday season. To add even more holiday cheer to your packaging, come see our holiday paper gift tags, printed on watercolor paper with a ribbon tie.
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|November 2006 Tip - Pumpkin Pie & Wholewheat Crust|
|The holiday season is officially upon us. What a wonderful time of the year.
A time where things shimmer, glisten, sparkle, twinkle, and jingle. A time of year where whiffs of cinnamon, cloves, and ginger fill the air. A season for rejoicing, singing, sharing and gathering. Where all is merry and bright.
I do love this time of year and living in the Rocky Mountains I get the added joy of having a winter wonderland too. There is nothing like an early morning in the Rocky Mountains after a snowstorm. The sun shines bright and the clear skies are the purest blue. Yet the air is crisp and you see your breath as you breath out into the frosty air. The snow is fresh and undisturbed, a blinding blanket of white interrupted only by the tall Douglas pines with the green of their branches peaking out from under their white and icicle covering. For one small fleeting moment, the earth is still; quiet, and you feel a sense of inner peace. Then your arm is almost jerked out of its socket as that bundle of fur at the other end of the leash does a flying leap into a drift of snow. The tail is going 100 m.p.h. as this new white world is totally different from the one it left the night before. With its nose burrowing through the fresh powdered snow we are in hot pursuit of...something. Perhaps the snow
|fairy that mischievously covered us with this white dust during the night? I am never sure, all I know is we must go really fast and though we never find anything, we are still as happy as can be. I myself am a cat person, but between my sister and my folks, I have the pleasure of four canines in my life. All wonderful creatures with their own unique and special personalities, and who all get very excited when their Aunt comes to visit them (who is occasionally known to sneak them a few treats now and then).
There are so many things I love about the early morning walks in the mountains with my four-legged buddies, but one in particular only happens during the holidays. That is coming from the frosty outdoors into a warm and toasty house, and sitting down to a big breakfast of a piping hot latte with extra foam and cinnamon on top with a nice sized piece of pumpkin pie with a pretty healthy dollop of whipped topping. I know that is just terrible isn't it? I think though pumpkin is a very healthy fruit with lot of nutrients, just not so sure about all of that when it is served in pie form? Can't help it though, during the holidays when with family I just love having pumpkin pie and latte for breakfast. I am sure if their owners would just let them join me in this decadent breakfast of pumpkin pie, my four-legged pals would agree.
Of course you don't have to have pumpkin pie for breakfast, my understanding is that pumpkin pie goes great as any meal, uh...I mean it goes great as a dessert after any meal. Sure, that's what I meant. Any hoo, through out the years I have experimented with our pumpkin pie recipe, because, well, that is just who I am. Some years are better than others, but here is a pumpkin pie with whole-wheat pie crust recipe that got the family seal of approval. The whole-wheat pie crust recipe actually came from a very famous executive chef in our area, it is quite good and is great with fruit pies too. Enjoy!
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Note: This whole-wheat pie crust is also great for fruit pies such as apple, blueberry or blackberry. To make this whole-wheat piecrust for fruit pies double the recipe to make both a top and bottom crust.
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Low-fat Creamy Sour Cream Pumpkin Pie Recipe. Substitute any or all of the following: sugar-free instant pudding, egg beaters, low-fat or non-fat sour cream, and low-fat or fat-free evaporated milk.
|October 2006 Tip - Halloween Mischievous Menus|
|If you missed out on our last month's tormented tip be sure to check out our archives on throwing a Halloween Fiendishly Fiesta Feast along with a sinisterly scrumptious recipe for Spanish rice. See our archives directory above for all months' past tips.
My sister and I each had a Mischievous Menu party when we were kids, but this unique idea can add some twisted fun to your ghoulish gathering no matter the age of your guests. Here is how it works. Create a Mischievous Menu consisting of 5 parts, utensils, horror d’oeuvres, entrée, dessert, and beverage. For each section make up 5 to 7 spooky names for each utensil and dish; see the sample menu below as an example. Print out a menu sheet for each of your guest with a line at the top for the Spook’s or Ghoul’s name. Place a menu and Halloween pencil or pen at each place setting. Have your guests fill out the menu by writing in their names and then selecting 1 to 3 choices from each section depending on the number of choices in the category. The fun is that you know what the menu items are, but your guests do not. Really nothing is more amusing then watching your dear friends and family trying to eat their spaghetti with chopsticks as they wash it down with a nice cold glass of ghoul drool (orange juice).
Below is a sample of a Halloween Mischievous Menu that can be modified for any Ghoulish Gathering or Boo Bash or check out our entertaining page for preprinted Halloween Mischievous Menus. Let your inner ghost run wild and have a Hauntingly Happy Halloween!
|Utensils - choose 3
Horror D'Oeuvres - choose 3
Entree - choose 3
Grated Wolf Bone
Dessert - choose 3
Frozen Brain Brulee
Brews & Spirits - choose 1
Melted Garlic Butter
Grated Parmesan Cheese
|Additional Tips: You can make shapes out of your cheese with small Halloween cookie cutters such as witches' hats, skulls, bats, or black cats. Cut the tops off green olives stuffed with red pimentos and place them on the meatballs to give them monster eyes. Give your severed fingers (sausages) black nails with ripe black olives.
Remember in preparing a Fiendish Feast, food coloring is your friend. Add some red and blue to make purple milk, add blue and yellow to make green water or murky ice tea. Add blue to your orange juice to make a nice ghoulish green. If you make home-made ice cream for the occasion, add in food coloring to the mixture for putrid purple, ominous orange, ghastly green, or a blood curling red.
For the Yummy Mummy cookies, take refrigerated cookie dough, shape in to a mummy, bake and cool. Once completely cooled, dip into melted white chocolate. Use chocolate chips or chocolate-coated candies for the eyes.
Plates can be garnished with gummy worms and/or plastic spiders and bugs, though be sure to point out to your gremlins and goblins what is edible or not. You can also get miniature pumpkins and with a black marker or paint, write your guests' names on them. They can also be decorated with pictures of spiders, bats, and black cats with stencils or cutouts. They make festive place cards and/or party favors.
See last month's tip for more Haunting Halloween party treats.
All Us All the Time...We make entertaining eerie and gift giving ghoulish
|September 2006 Tip - Halloween Fiendishly Fiesta Feast|
A Halloween Fiendishly Feast with Recipes
|Since Halloween is such a fiendishly fun holiday, we decided to devote both September's and October's tips to mischievous menus and devious decor for your Halloween sinister soirées. This month we will be featuring a fiendishly feast with a sinisterly scrumptious Spanish rice recipe and next month we will be treating you to a fun party trick with a mischievous menu.
Let us start out with throwing a Halloween Fiendishly Fiesta Feast. Along the lines of Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) this is a unique and fun way to celebrate All Hallows Eve. Instead of cloaking your Halloween party color scheme in black, which is never out of style, add in some more lively colors to your normal deathly color palette such as vivid yellows, greens, fuchsias, and aqua blues. This does not mean you need to go out and get all new Halloween decorations, well, that is unless you want to, because we all know you can never really have too much Halloween decor.
For your collection of skulls, dress them in either vibrant party hats or sombreros...and is that a noisemaker in their mouths...why yes it is! Rather than a broomstick in your witch's hand, what about a pair of maracas? Typically I recommend a few black vases with dead roses as the Halloween floral selection; however, for this festivity, multicolored carnations, and lots of them. You can still use your black vases, or if you do not have any, take clear vases and make the water black with food coloring. By not cutting the stems and adding the black food coloring right before the party, the petals should remain vibrant through out the evening. You can also add in some fuchsia, yellow, and aqua blue candles to your black, orange, and purple collection.
Conjure up a table of terror with gory goodies and spooky spirits. Garnish serving plates with gummy worms and in moderation, gummy rats always add a nice touch. Use Halloween place cards to identify your dastardly dishes. You can also throw in some ghoulish Halloween disposable party coasters and drink charms. Paint miniature pumpkins bright yellow, green, fuchsia, and aqua blue. Then decorate with black paint or marker for spooktacular party favors. Sugar skulls also make great decorations and party favors.
Below find the menu for this fiendishly fiesta feast followed by a few additional food preparation tips and the sinister recipe for Maggots in Banshee Blood (Spanish Rice):
Fiendish Fiesta Feast
Boo Chips with Screaming Sauce - Tortilla chips with salsa
Brain Skull Dip with Cruelties - Spicy ranch dip with veggies
Goblin Head Cheese with Cauldron Crackers - Cheese and crackers
Mummy Wraps - Chicken enchiladas with mozzarella cheese
Monster Mash - Refried beans
Maggots in Banshee Blood - Spanish rice
Putrefied Pumpkin Cakes - Decorated orange frosted cupcakes
Ghoulish Ice Scream - Ice Cream
Ghost Cookies - White chocolate covered cookies
Menacing Margaritas - Strawberry margaritas with curacao for a poisonly purple potion
Zombie Zinfandel - White Wine
Monster Merlot - Red Wine
Ghoul Drool - Frozen limeade with citrus flavored soda and green food coloring
Fizzy Fiend - Pop
Additional Tips and Recipes: For your cheese tray, you can make shapes out of your cheese with small Halloween cookie cutters such as witches' hats, skulls, bats, or black cats.
For the Mummy Wraps (chicken enchiladas) spread about 2 tablespoons of refried beans on flour tortillas. Mix together 1 can of condensed cream of chicken soup undiluted, 1 cup sour cream, and 3 to 4 cups of cubed chicken. Spoon 1/2 cup of mixture down the center of each tortilla; top with 1 tablespoon mozzarella cheese. Roll up tortillas and place seam side down in a greased 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Sprinkle generously mozzarella cheese over the top. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until heated through. Before serving, cut ripe black olives in half and place at one end of each enchilada as two eyes and then use sliced green olives for the month. Optional to have on the side a bowl of finger slices (tomato slices), crisp mildew leafs (lettuce), and screaming sauce (salsa).
Place two large dollops of sour cream with green olives stuffed with red pimentos in the center to make eyeballs for your monster mash (refried beans). Next add two long slivers of red peppers for fangs and then two tortilla chips for horns.
For the Putrefied Pumpkin cakes (cupcakes), make cupcakes from a mix and then take a can of frosting and add orange food coloring or red and yellow to make orange. Once frosted, you can either serve plain or make two eyes with black gum drops and then make a mouth with strings of black licorice.
For the ghost cookies, take refrigerated cookie dough, shape in to ghosts, bake and cool. Once completely cooled, dip in melted white chocolate. Use chocolate chips or chocolate-coated candies for the eyes.
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Coming in October more tormented tips for Halloween. Come see our frightfully fun array of printable and fill-in Halloween invitations. Now available, Halloween printable menus and Halloween place cards. Be sure to check out our on-line store for more Halloween ghoulish goodies.
|August 2006 Tip - Chilled Watermelon Soup|
Last month our Tip Page included a handful of ideas for a summer ice cream social, see July tip archives for the scrumptious details. Then back in June we featured summer party ideas including a Flower Power Party, Nautical Party, Potluck Party, and Garden Party, see June tip archives for all those details.
This month we are featuring a unique and "cool" recipe using one of summer's sweet and delicious fruits - the watermelon. You can serve watermelon soup as an appetizer, dessert, or cocktail, and it is perfect for picnics, potlucks, ice cream socials, or even dinner tonight. Enjoy!
Chilled Watermelon Soup
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Here is an icy twist: Split soup into 2 portions. Freeze a portion for 3 hours to make watermelon slush and chill remaining half for 3 hours. Scrape watermelon slush into 4 bowls (chilled or frozen bowls are a nice touch) and pour chilled soup over top. Garnish with mint leaves; serve immediately. Another cool idea, pour into ice-cube trays and freeze for sweet flavored ice cubes to add to fruit cocktails or punch.
|July 2006 Tip - Summer Parties - Ice Cream Social|
Last month our Tip Page included a recipe for Fruit Pizza and a handful of ideas for summer parties including a Flower Power Party, Nautical Party, Potluck Party, and Garden Party (see tip archives). There was one party idea though we forgot, a hug oversight that we must apologize for because it is the happiest kind of party of all...an ice cream social. Oh come on, what is happier than ice cream, especially during the long hot days of summer.
When decorating for an ice cream social, just think bright and colorful with playful and whimsy. Brightly colored tablecloths, soda glasses filled with long-stemmed spoons, straws or flowers, baskets for napkins, place cards listing flavors or toppings, colorful coasters, balloons tied here and there, and then cardboard cut outs of ice-cream cones with fun messages like "$1 a scoop" or "Your Name Ice Cream Parlor".
You can either provide all the fixings, or make it potluck and have some folks bring the ice cream, others the toppings, while a few bring the cookies and brownies. You can also do store bought ice cream but we highly recommend homemade instead. Below we put together a few ideas for toppings, flavors, and basic homemade ice cream recipe to get the mouth watering, er, I mean the juices flowing.
Homemade Vanilla Ice CreamYou will need:
Coffee: Add 4 tablespoons of espresso powder or instant coffee to the sugar, flour, and salt mixture.
Cookies and Cream: Crumble chocolate sandwich cookies in to the mix before freezing.
Chocolate Chip: Add shaved chocolate in to the mixture before freezing.
Strawberry/Blueberry/Raspberry/Blackberry/Peach: Mix in 1 to 2 cups of puree fruit to the mixture before freezing.
Cinnamon: Add a teaspoon of cinnamon to sugar, flour, and salt mixture.
Chocolate: Stir in 1 cup or more of chocolate syrup into mixture before freezing.
Food Coloring: For some added fun, add in a teaspoon or more of food coloring to your plain vanilla for a striking bowl of orange, green, blue, red, purple, or yellow bowl of ice cream.
Puree Fruit Sauce
Cookie Crumbs (chocolate sandwich, chocolate chip, vanilla wafers, graham crackers, animal crackers)
Chocolate Coated Candies
Chopped Candy Bars
Marshmallows or Marshmallow Cream
...and don't forget the cherries for the top!
You can also include brownies and cookies for ice-cream sandwiches or root beer for homemade floats.
For adorable coordinating Sundae Fill-in Invitations, Disposable Party Coasters, and Place Cards, please visit our Invitation Page. Also available Sundae Notecards and Magnets.
You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream!!!
|June 2006 Tip - Summer Parties & Fruit Pizza Recipe|
Tis the season to...grill! Yes, summer is one of the best times to entertain, especially since you can do it in your backyard. Here are a few tips and ideas to get you going for your sensational summer soirée:
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|May 2006 Tip - Swedish Pancake Recipe|
Here is a delicious dish for Mother's Day breakfast or brunch, a simple alternative to crepes but just as wonderful. These Swedish pancakes are very thin and have a slight sweet taste. They are a perfect accompaniment to any breakfast or brunch menu you are preparing or wonderful just on their own with a glass of juice and cup of tea or coffee. They can be topped with traditional maple syrup, or you can top them with powder sugar or jelly.
Mix together the first 4 ingredients, batter should be smooth. Then add the flour, mix well, but do not over mix. Add in oil or melted butter and mix well. Cook on a hot oiled or sprayed griddle. Pour or spoon batter on griddle to make 3-4" pancakes. Makes about 12.Serve with syrup or jelly. You can also serve them with powdered sugar sprinkled on top.
|April 2006 Tip - Easter Egg Decorating|
The egg, a symbol of fertility and new life, has been an Easter tradition since the earliest of times. Brightly decorated eggs are to symbolize the sunlight of spring and a celebration of the spring equinox. Many cultures have adapted their own way of decorating Easter Eggs, from the intricate designed Pysanki eggs to those dyed from kits purchased at your local store. Here are a few ideas for decorating your master pieces this year:
Here are detailed instruction on how to make your own personalized sticker eggs, which can also be used as cute personal place cards at your Easter Brunch or Dinner:
Scan in photos or use digital photo images. In your photo software size your images appropriately according to your egg size, probably no bigger than 2"x2". Print images out on the print and stick adhesive sheets according to the printing instructions provided with the sheets. Cut out printed images (in all sorts of funky shapes and sizes), and apply to your hard boiled eggs. Voila! You now have Personalized Easter Eggs with pictures of those you love. Whether you put them in egg cups and use as unique personalized place cards at your Easter meal or to fill up your Easter baskets, they are sure to bring smiles and laughter on Easter Day!
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