Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Follow Me Wednesday!

A blog I follow, 3 Four and Under, is hosting a Follow Me Wednesday. I decided to join the fun and hopefully gain some new followers too.  If you found me during today's Follow Me please leave a comment and I'll follow you back!

Happy Following!
Kelly Anne 

O Tannenbaum

I just wanted to share the evolution of our tree over the years. Keep in mind our living room dimensions have not changed.




Kelly Anne 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

White Christmas Sangria & Cheddar Sausage Balls

In addition to the tons of sweets at the cookie swap, I also served a Sun-dried Tomato Cheese Spread (for details, check here for a Feb. 2011 post) , Cheddar Sausage Balls and White Christmas Sangria. 

The sangria was a hit, and I only wish I had made more!  Recipe Link.
White Wine. Apples. Pears. Grapefruit. Tangerines. Fruit Juice of Choice. 
Sparkling White Wine before serving.
 It turned out to be more "blush" in color than white. I used Cran-Apple juice which added the hint of color; I could not find white cranberry juice, and I'm unsure if it even exists, even though many recipes called for it to be used. 
The drink spread: White Christmas Sangria, White & Red Wine, 
A Sam Adams Holiday Sampler and Sodas.

Cheddar Sausage Balls
I have to admit, I felt a bit guilty at how easy this recipe was to prepare.  I had never made sausage balls before, and I just assumed there was more to the recipe, but I was pleasantly surprised at my mistaken assumption.

The basic recipe:
- 2 cups Bisquick Mix
- 10 oz. Cheese of Choice 
(I used cheddar, but I've heard using a mexican blend turns out great!)
- 1lb. Sausage of Choice
- Mix all ingredients together, shape into balls, bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. That's it!

 I used mild sausage since I was having guests, but I bet the spicy with the mexi cheese would be awesome!
All kids (ingredients) in the pool
You've got to get your hands dirty on this one.
I added a touch of finely chopped onion to my recipe; I believe you could dress up this recipe with any extras you find fun and tasty.  I'm thinking peppers and garlic too!

Again, if you're feeling stressed to come up with a Christmas Eve treat at the last minute tonight, this recipe would be perfect!

Merry Christmas Eve Cooking & Baking!

Kelly Anne 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Greetings!

Our first Christmas as the Mudds!

Married Christmas & a Happy Newlywed Year!

Kelly Anne 

My Christmas Cookie Swap Recipes

On Sunday, I hosted the "2nd Annual Christmas Cookie Swap" at casa de Mudd. The premise of my cookie exchange is for each guest to bake and bring 4 dozen cookies - one dozen to taste/eat at the party and three dozen to share. Each guest shows up with four dozen cookies and each guest should go home with roughly three donzen cookies of all varieties. 

I knew that I wanted to bake something new.  It is always risky to try anything new when you're inviting guests over, but I trusted my baking skills and decided to try two Pinterest recipes.  (um, did you expect anything less than a Pinterest idea).

Both recipes turned out fabulous! It was definitely worth the risk. Now for the details...

White Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies
I absolutely love the taste of gingerbread, but I'm not a huge fan of the hard texture of traditional gingerbread cookies (like the gingerbread men cookies).  These cookies were the perfect balance of taste and texture. Recipe Link.
 The players: Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Ginger, Egg, Unsalted Butter, Baking Soda, Salt, AP Flour, Molasses, Vanilla.
 This is a great little cooking tip: When a recipe calls for tightly packed brown sugar, use a gallon sized zip-lock bag - place the brown sugar and a measuring cup into the bag, then pack the brown sugar using the bag as a barrier between your hand and sugar.
 Dark Karo Syrup would work just as well as Molasses
 It looked and smelled like gingerbread!
 Shape into large "dome" and place in fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.
 Roll cookie balls in sugar before baking.
Place Hugs Kisses into the center of the cookies immediately after removing from the oven. I baked these on parchment paper, and then just slid the paper/cookies off the baking sheet, then I added the Kisses. This was great because I didn't have worry about the excess heat from the baking sheet melting the Kisses too quickly.

Apple Cider Carmel Cookies
These were super easy and quick. One side note: it is best to zap these in the microwave for a few seconds before eating, as the caramels hidden inside do get a bit hard (especially if you're enjoying a few days after baking). Recipe Link.
The players: Apple Cider Drink Mix Packets, Kraft Caramels, Vanilla, Eggs, Melted Butter, Sugar, Baking Powder & Soda, Flour.
You do have to unwrap all 10 individual drink packets - the drink mix gets added in with the flour, sugar and baking powder & soda.
 One by one everything ends up in the mixer.
 Scoop into balls, and then press and small "bowl" into the middle of the cookie ball.
Add an entire Kraft Caramel and seal the cookie dough completely around the caramel
(and yes, you have to unwrap each individual caramel).
This is a picture of my last batch, which I made JUMBO sized, because I was running out of caramels. The recipe makes enough dough for about 60ish regular sized cookies, but one bag of Kraft Caramels only contains 50 candy pieces.  I would suggest buying two bags of caramel if you would like the cookies to be uniformed in size...or I guess you could just make all the cookies a little bigger :)

Both recipes turned out fabulous, and were super easy & fun to make. I will definitely be adding these to my traditional holiday baking list. The apple cider cookies would actually be a great Thanksgiving treat too! The cookie swap was a great success once again; stay turned for a post about my White Christmas Sangria and Cheddar Sausage Balls that made their debut at the party as well.

Merry Baking!

Kelly Anne 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Card Wreath

Once again, Pinterest sparked my interested and the spray paint, glue guns and ribbons were ready to go! 

This festive project is a clothespin - christmas card wreath. You'll have to head over to the Gwenny Penny blog for all the details, as this isn't a KA original idea. But, it is an idea that is just way too cute to pass up (and serves a great purpose too)!

The basic steps are: 
- Spray paint about 50 clothespins green. 
- Shape wire coat hanger into a circle.
- Alternate clothespin and red pony bead until the circle is complete. 
- Add some hot glue and a ribbon to secure.

For the most part this project is fairly straight forward, until the very last step.  I had some difficultly securing the coat hanger; my hot glue wasn't doing the trick. I ended up using an excessive amount of hot glue, which wasn't very pretty at all and did not read, "finished project." In fact it looked more child-like and kindergarten crafty than anything else.  My solution was to use excessive amounts of ribbon to hide the hot glue.  As with most things, polka dotted ribbon came to rescue and saved my wreath.  Polka dots and ribbons always add the best finishing touches, in my opinion. 
Just be a warned that it will take more glue than you expect, and it is tough to manipulate. The clothespins want to go in opposite directions and can be a bit difficult; HOWEVER, when all was said and done and I finally got my wreath on the wall, I couldn't be happier!

And in the era of flat picture cards, this idea is just perfect. It is a great solution since the picture cards can't be sat-up on a mantle or table.
without cards
with cards
Once again, Pinterest doesn't disappoint. What are you pinning these days? Has anything caught your eye?

Kelly Anne 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Dear Santa...

A few of my blogger friends have posted Christmas wish lists, and I've decided to join the fun too.
Top Row (from left to right): JPK Bucket Bag in Grass Green / Dansko Clogs in Bright Red / Any Bright Green Pea Coat (I'm having trouble actually finding this item, but hey this is my wish list. The photo is an Old Navy coat from 2010). / Kindle Fire.

Bottom Row: Marc Jabos Daisy / Sperry Topsiders / Monogramed Silver Earrings.

Of course this is just a wish list, and Santa knows that I'm always happy with family, friends and fun during the holiday season...but a girl can dream and a polite southern lady never turns down a gift and is always grateful :)

Kelly Anne 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Cookie Part One

Like all things Christmas, I am always up for a cookie swap and holiday baking in general.  And as a "polka dot" (which I have been dubbed by my favorite coworker and is defined roughly as: a female obsessed with all things monogrammed, ribboned, polka dotted and cute) I love the opportunity to be as festively cute as possible with, of course, ribbons and dotted cookie tins/boxes/bags.

The climate committee at school hosted a cookie swap to kick off the holiday season last Thursday (Dec. 1).  I jumped at the chance to bake two Pinterest recipes that I'd being eyeing for a while.  

The first recipe wasn't actually a cookie and didn't actually require baking, but  I decide to sneak Peppermint Bark  into the cookie swap. I felt there was no need to be so rigid in our definition of "cookie." (recipe link)
 Start with candy canes. I grabbed the smaller sized ones & tossed them in a ziplock bag.
 SMASH the bag of peppermint to pieces. 
Any heavy object will do. An old skillet worked like a charm.
 The players: brown and white chocolate, peppermint extract & veggie oil
 Holiday silicone mold are super cute and work great. I would have preferred a snowflake mold as pictured in the original Pinterest post, but I wasn't able to find any.  I did snag these Christmas tree molds at Michael's.  On a complete side note: Why haven't I been experimenting with silicone molds before now - they are awesome!
 Check the recipe link for all the details, but I think the trees turned out pretty great!


The next recipe was also a Pinterest find and was definitely a cookie that required a mixer, oven and bake time - The Oatmeal Toffee Cookie. (recipe link)
 The cast o' characters: melted butter, egg, vanilla, oats, flour, brown sugar, & 
(saving the best for last) Heath Bar bites!
 I failed at documenting this recipe well, but all ingredients end up in the mixer EXCEPT the Heath Bar. Toffee bits get stirred in at the last minute. One note: nuts can be added to this recipe as well, but I omitted them as I wasn't sure the swap was allergy free.
 Spoon onto baking sheets.
 Bake @ 375 for 10 minutes.
So the Oatmeal Toffee Cookies turned out absolutely delicious, but I have to warn that they are super fragile and crumbly.  I didn't have the opportunity to test this theory, but I can only imagine they would be just perfect for crumbling over ice cream or vanilla greek yogurt.  Yummy!

I neglected to take a photo of the Christmas themed Chinese takeout boxes (@ Michael's) or the red & green polka dotted recipe cards that I ribbon tied to each box, but I asure you it was all so very cute and festive.

I am having my very own cookie swap next Sunday ( the 2nd annual cookie gala to be exact), but I haven't decided on a recipe or two just yet.  But no worriers, I am sure I'll be a baking machine next Saturday in preparation.  Happy Holiday baking to all my "Polka Dots" out there :)

Kelly Anne