Monday, December 31, 2012

Champagne Ideas

I just walked into my condo after a fabulous and whirlwind trip to Amsterdam.  What are we doing for New Years, you say?  Nothing.  Absolutely NOTHING and I couldn't be more ecstatic about it.

Even though I have total faith that all of our little readers out there have fabulous, perfect plans for the evening...there might be a few peeps that need a few last minute ideas. 

A little champagne never hurt anyone.  But then again, who just drinks a little champagne?

1. Skinny Champagne Cosmos by Whipped

2. Pink Platinum Champagne Cocktail by Creative Culinary

3.  Champagne Jello Shots by 1 Fine Cookie

Champagne Jello Shots by 1 Fine Cookie , champagne jello shots, 2013, champagne, new years recipes, jello shots, sparkling, drink, cider, soda, blue, yellow, gold, dessert, stars, glitter, edible, new years drinks, drinks,

4. Champagne Mint Mojitos by be filled up

5. Can't choose?  Make your own champagne bar!

Along with your favorite champagne, get a mixture of fresh fruit and mixers.  Here are some ideas:
  • Fresh raspberries
  • Fresh blueberries
  • Fresh peaches
  • Fresh cranberries
  • Lemon twists
  • Sugared & dried ginger
  • Peach juice
  • Orange juice
  • Pomegranite juice
  • Lemonade
  • Sugar for rimming your champagne flutes!
Just organize everything so it looks inviting to guests and enjoy!  Have a safe and very happy new year to all of our readers out there.

Stay hungry!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

96 Days to Go

I have always been an enthusiast when it comes to dates and countdowns.  For somebody who hates math so much, I sure do like counting down the days until big things happen.  When I was younger, it was summer camp and spring break.  In college it was weeks until finals.  And spring break.  In my adult life, it's all "twenty business days left in the quarter" and "OMG eleven months until my thirtieth birthday".  But the biggest countdown I've had yet is quickly ticking down... and Babycenter was kind enough to alert me - 96 days until my due date.

Which brings me to our nursery-to-be... what started as a very sparse and unused extra bedroom upstairs is slowly starting to fill up.  Amazing, generous gifts from family over Christmas mean that I am no longer freaking out about needing to buy baby gear.

But before we get to unpack the baby carrier and the stuffed bunny, our first project in this room is to cover up the ugly popcorn ceiling.  Our whole house has popcorn ceilings and I HATE it.  The baby's room is the first one we are attacking and it will be covered with some sort of planked ceiling or beadboard tiles.

We'll also install some shelves for baby books (we were lucky to receive the beginning of the baby's library as gifts this week), reconfigure the closet for maximum storage, and then begin the decorating process!

(Jesse has had that boxed up fan since I've known him - it moved [still boxed] with him from Colorado to Seattle to NYC to our current home and was immediately dumped in this extra bedroom.  We'll install it in this room, assuming it still works.  Which I'm not.)
So... expect lots of baby-prep-related posts from me in the next 96 days.  We'll be painting, sanding, spackling, hanging, and (with a little help from Jaisa and my father) also cooking all of the delicious, freezable meals we can!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Very Special Ornament...

Caitlin has mastered the art of ornament making.  I don't know how she does it.  If I used a sewing machine, I'd sew my two fingers together.  Anyway, we are winding down yet another wonderful Christmas in Minnesota and I'm taking a very special gift with me - my very own Hardly Housewives ornament.  My mother in law, Nancy, has given me several special ornaments over the years, but this one has to be my favorite.  Thank you for another delicious, hilarious, and fun filled Christmas. Stay hungry!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Hope you are cozy and happy today and able to celebrate with your loved ones.  We are both spending the day with family, warm fires, and, of course, great food.  Merry Christmas, readers!  

We'll be back later this week with more general housewifery, but until then, stay hungry & stay homey & stay happy.  xox

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Dinner Ideas

Christmas is near!  If you're still looking for some last minute dishes to make your dinner a little more "wow" or your husband thought the spiraled ham in the fridge was for his own consumption and now you have nothing for the 20 people coming over...fret not.  Here are some last minute ideas to make your Christmas dinner divine.

1.  The Perfect Prime Rib.  I could eat this until the cows come home.  Garlicky, perfectly medium rare, and just amazing.

2. The Best Baked Ham.  Ever. I love me some ham and this ham....OHHH NELLY.

3. Oven Roasted Mushrooms. If you want a yummy, no fuss side dish - this is for you. 

4.  Yorkshire Pudding.  Mmmm like popovers but so much better.

5. Eggnog Creme Brulee.  I LOVE this recipe.  So festive, so delicious, so impressive.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Mint Oreo Truffles

So we went to see Lincoln last Friday night and I fell asleep during the movie.  It's things like this that must make my parents cringe when they think about sending me to Bates.  "Lincoln was boring." Nice use of a liberal arts education. I am the worst.

On the way home from the movie, I somehow remembered to stop at the grocery store because I needed to make some sweet treats for a holiday gathering with my in-laws the next day.  Still half-groggy, I went with Jesse's suggestion to use Mint Oreos instead of regular ones for Jaisa's Oreo truffles even though I think Mint Oreos look like some sort of toothpaste-based April Fools prank and that they must be the only food on the planet more processed than regular Oreos.

(If you've ever actually tried Mint Oreos, you know I was totally wrong.  They are killer delicious and they made for an amazing twist on regular Oreo truffles.)

Per Jaisa's instructions, I blended them up with a package of cream cheese.  We maaaaaaay have snacked on a few beforehand, so the Oreo to cream cheese ratio was slightly off.  Fear not.  Everything worked out in the end.  It's cream cheese and cookies, after all.  How bad could things get?

I don't own a double boiler, so I just used a glass bowl perched over some boiling water in saucepan to melt the chips.  I also forgot to buy white chocolate chips in my Lincoln-induced stupor, so these truffles are coated in semi-sweet melted chocolate chips only.  Again, do not worry.  Everything ends up just fine.

See?  Delicious.  There is a definite mint flavor in there that is a nice twist on regular Oreo truffles.  You could also add a dash of mint extract (or, even better, peppermint extract) to Jaisa's recipe - the mint taste makes these feel festive and Christmas-ready.  Enjoy and stay hungry!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Eggnog Bar

I don't know about you guys, but I absolutely LOVE eggnog.  My dad always drinks eggnog around the holidays, so I'm pretty sure my obsession comes from him.

Last weekend was my company's holiday party so we invited a few people over for drinks before.  That's right.  We invited people over to our place to have drinks before the open bar.  Totally normal...right?

Anyway, I had a particularly outrageous week of work, 7am to late in the evening basically every night last week.  Saturday was the day of the party and I had a fairly extensive "to do" list, including getting my hair done.  My hair dresser was running late and it was pouring out...needless to say I showed up at home TEN minutes before everyone was supposed to arrive with absolutely nothing purchased or set up.   Lucky for me, I married Superman and came home to find this:

Charlie came up with an EGGNOG BAR complete with four different types of eggnog.  Is my husband just the BEST or what.  There was regular, low fat, vanilla spice, as well as soy eggnog.  Yes, soy eggnog.
To make the bottles stand up right, he filled the ice bin with Tupperware and then poured the ice on top.   Oh yeah, he also put out fresh nutmeg and a micro-plane.

He also had light refreshments for everyone, including an assortment of meat, cheese and crackers.  Wow.  Just wow.  The man is good.  Very, very good.

I absolutely LOVED the idea of having an eggnog bar.  We had so much fun trying all of the different types.  It was the perfect way to start the evening.

Thank you to my very special husband, who bales out his crazy wife when she bites off a little more than she can chew.  Stay hungry!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Homemade Gifts You Can Make Before Christmas

Okay, guys... Christmas is a week away which means it's time to do an inventory of your gifts and figure out which one of your loved ones still needs something from you.  Instead of worrying about express shipping rates or crowded shopping malls, how about making a few simple gifts at home?  Here are some tried and true Hardly Housewives handmade gift ideas that aren't too tough to make and are easy on the bank account:

"Dipped" spoons (also seen here and here) were a gift favorite of mine in 2012 and requested by a handful of family members.  I am proud to report that despite frequent use, the red ones that I made for my dad in March are still just as shiny and new looking as they were back then.  You'll need basic wooden spoons, craft paint, and non-toxic shellac.

Speaking of those cherry spoons, I gifted them along with some embellished dishtowels that were a breeze to sew.  These are easily customizable and easy enough to sew even if you don't have a sewing machine (you just need some patience and a steady hand).  

Speaking of easy sewing, embellished burp cloths are pretty much the same idea and a colorful gift for the new parents in your life, not to mention a great way to use up smaller pieces of fabric you may have lying around...

Let's get away from sewing for a minute and check out a gift that my mother in law does most years as stocking stuffers for friends and family... DIY herb salt.  Jaisa made it this winter as a bridal shower favor and explains exactly how you can make a batch to wrap up nicely and give away:

And while we're talking about salt, here's a quick project you can do that is perfect for mothers, mothers in law, and any other gift recipient who would love to relax... lavender bath salts:

If all else fails, check out Jaisa's list of delicious, sweet holiday treats.  There is no way you can go wrong with any of those.  I will be making both handmade gifts and sugary baked goods this week.  Wish me luck!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Zucchini Chips

So this a pretty random post, considering the holidays and all but I made these a couple of weeks ago and they. were. delish.  They are also paleo friendly and low carb friendly.  So if you indulged a little too much on eggnog and cookies, this would be the perfect snack to get you back on track. 

I am absolutely obsessed with my V-Blade Mandoline Slicer. I use it all the time.  I actually made these chips because I wanted to use it again.  It's so easy to use.

Can you imagine slicing all of these with a knife?  Me neither.

Golden brown, salty chips.  Yes please.

I ate two pans worth of chips in about 2 minutes.  I'm not even joking.

1 Large Zucchini, Sliced in 1/16" Slices 
Non Stick Cooking Spray (preferably olive oil) 
Garlic Salt 

Preheat oven to 275.  Line cooking sheets with parchment paper.  Arrange zucchini slices on the pan and spray with cooking spray.  They shrink up a TON so only add a tiny bit of seasoning to each piece.  You can always add more later.  They will need about 60-90 minutes to cook completely.  It's worth the wait, trust me.

Stay hungry!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Command Strip Wreath Hanging

Our mudroom door leads out to my small herb garden and our driveway, so we use this entrance to the house much more often than we use our front door.  I wanted to add a Christmas-y touch to it, but wasn't sure how to attach a wreath to the glass door.  Here's an idea I found on Pinterest but all of the links I tried to use to find the actual post were broken or incorrect, so I had to wing it.  Luckily, it was pretty self explanatory.

I grabbed one of those 3M Command Strips, turned it upside down, and affixed it to the inside of the glass on the mudroom door.

From there, I affixed thick red ribbon around the wreath and left enough of a tail to get it over the door.

It's exactly what I needed... festive but easy and removable come January.  Share some more no-brainer holiday ideas with me and stay homey!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Mmmmmm provoleta.  How do I love thee?  Let me count the pounds.

Provoleta has absolutely nothing to do with the holidays.  It's just delicious.  Oh wait!  It's red, and green and white!  It can also replace your favorite but "cheesy" holiday movie.  Ok, I'm done.

I can justify anything.  Really.  It's a talent of mine.

I love this dish because it's so communal.  You throw it down in between a crowd and people just dive in and help themselves.   I mean, what else are you supposed to do with bubbling creamy cheese.

...besides get a fork and shove some in your mouth?

This is embarrassingly we go ya'll...

1/2 inch Slice of Good Provolone (deli counter can do this for you) 
1/4 Tsp of Dried Italian Seasoning
1/4 Cup of Chopped Roasted Red peppers 
Olive Oil

If you want to do it the real way, rub the provolone with olive oil and grill it on each side until you begin to see grill marks.  If you want to do it the lazy way (insert Jaisa here) just throw it in a small casserole dish (so the provolone just fits inside) and then top with a drizzle of olive oil, dried herbs, and roasted red peps.  Bake in a 425 degree oven until the cheese begins to get hot and bubbly, which is about 8-10 minutes.  Serve as is or with a crusty loaf of bread.

Stay hungry!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Compound Butter: A Simple How-To

I've said before that Jaisa and I don't agree on a lot of things, from politics to high heeled shoes.  Don't get us started on bacon or baby names, either.  But here's something simple we do agree on:  butter.  I know.  Way to come together on the really important issues.  But hey, Jaisa has a serious gym regimen and I have maternity jeans on so forgive me as I share how I dressed up some simple butter for a fancy touch at a holiday meal.

Compound butter is a really easy way to seem like a fancy chef when you're really just mixing softened butter with some tasty ingredients.  I have seen recipes for sweet, savory, and salty compound butters and they all look like a delicious way to dress up breads, pasta, veggies, or meat at the dinner table (or, in my case, spread on toast while standing around your kitchen at 3 am when "the baby" needs a snack).

I went with a savory butter, using the hardy herbs that are surviving the New England winter out in my little herb garden - rosemary, sage, oregano, and thyme.  This is a great "recipe" because you can choose the flavors you like and add as much (or as little) as you'd like.  Here's what I used:

1 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup fresh herbs 
dash of sea salt

Chop up the herbs.  Again, this is a matter of personal preference - if you are fine with big pieces, only chop them loosely.  I cut them up into fairly small pieces since I wanted to be able to use this butter as a coating for roasted veggies AND as a spread for fresh bread and I thought a finer chop would be better for both.  Mix your herbs into the softened butter until they are evenly distributed.  Spread into a bowl for serving (or roll into a log and slice off "coins").  Return to the fridge until it has hardened and serve!

Enjoy and stay hungry!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Rudolph Nose Cookies

I grew up with these adorable (and ridic tasty) cookies my entire life during Christmastime.  My Mom always went above and beyond to try and think of creative and fun treats for each holiday and this was no exception.  Our family (of two) decided to make these this year and it was so much fun.  

When Charlie suggested doing these cookies together, I wasn't totally sure I wanted to.  The last time I baked with him, this happened:

I'm glad I gave him a second chance because these came out just perfect.  I am smiling thinking of him reading this...because I'm actually the hazard in the kitchen.  I baked him a cake a couple weeks ago for his birthday and it was a DEEEESAAASSSSTTTERRR.  We're still finding butter and flour in the oddest of places.

These took us about 2 hours to make, start to finish.  There are lots of little tasks (cutting marshmallows, cutting cherries in half, etc) so this is definitely a twofer bake job.  Which I actually love, because it's fun to bake together, especially around the holidays.

Don't these look JUST like Rudolph Noses?

These are pillowy soft and the icing is almost fudge like.  I've already eaten THREE today.  Good gracious get these suckers out of here. 

Rudolph Noses Recipe: 

1.5 Cups All Purpose Flour 
1/2 Tsp Baking Soda 
1/2 Tsp Salt
2/3 Cup Light Brown Sugar 
1/2 Cup Shortening
1 egg
1/4 Cup Maraschino Cherry Juice
2 T Half & Half (or Milk)
4 Oz Unsweetened Chocolate, Melted
1/4 Cup Chopped Maraschino Cherries
18 Jumbo Marshmallows - cut in half

6 Tbs of Butter 
3 Cups Powdered Sugar
1/4 Cup of Unsweetened Cocoa 
1/4 Cup of Half & Half 
2 Tsp of Vanilla 
18 Maraschino Cherries, Sliced in Half 

Preheat oven to 350.  Cream together brown sugar, shortening, and egg until fulling incorporated.  In another bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.  Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.  Add cherry juice, half and half, melted chocolate, and chopped cherries.  Cut marshmallows in half and set aside.  Drop rounded tablespoon of mixture onto two ungreased cookie sheets. You want to make 36 cookies total.  Bake for 12-15 minutes.  These are cake-like cookies, so a good way to check is to insert a toothpick into one of the cookies.  If it comes out clean, they are done.  Immediately after taking cookies out of the oven, press a marshmallow half (sticky side down) into the center of each cookie.  The heat from the cookie will help adhere the marshmallow.  Let these cool.  To prepare the icing, get a heavy/good quality pan and melt the butter over low-medium heat.  Add the rest of the ingredients (except cherries) and stir over the stove top until everything is nice and smooth and begins to thicken (about 5-7 minutes).  Pour icing into a glass bowl and let it cool for 10 minutes or so.  You want to begin icing while it's still warm but not hot, otherwise it won't stay on the marshmallow.  With a frosting knife or back of a spoon, ice each marshmallow, careful to not let any white show through.  Top with a cherry half to complete Rudolph's nose.  If the icing begins to crystallize too much, you can heat it in the microwave for 10-15 minutes.  We did this about 2-3 times during the process, FYI.

Stay hungry!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Holiday Roundup: Top 10 Hardly Housewives Holiday Appetizers

I love the holidays.  Mostly because it means I get to MOW delicately sample all types of new appetizers.  Here is a list of all of my favorites.  I got a few of these recipes from family and friends from Christmas get togethers and others I just cooked up in my little brain. Enjoy!

1. Mini Philly Cheesesteak Bagel Bites.  I love these.  So cute, so little and so easy to make.  E-v-e-r-y-o-n-e will go loco over these.  No need to let people see you slave over the stove - make them before everyone arrives and keep them in a 200 degree oven to stay nice and toasty.

2. Skinny Buffalo Chicken Bites. Don't let the "skinny" deter you.  These are cheesy, delicious and packed with flavor.  And they are cute and little.  It's a holiday miracle people.

3. Minnetonka Sushi. No Minnesota Christmas would be complete without these babies.  LOVES me some salami.

4. Crab Cake Canapes.  This is a family holiday tradition, if you count Patriot's games as a holiday...which you should.  My mom whips these up like it ain't no thang and they are always the first to go.  Buttery, cheesy, and toasty crunchy.  Noms.

5. Cranberry Green Onion Dip.  I had this last year at Christmas.  It sounds...weird...but I promise - it's soooo good.  And it's green and red.  So there.

6. Cheesy Pull Apart Bread.  This isn't the most refined appetizer, but who cares.  It's bread, toasted with butter and cheese and garlic.  It's amazing.  Duh.

7. Baked Crab Rangoon Cups.  These are SO good and very easy to make.  No need to wrestle with boiling hot oil.  Save some time (and lots of calories) and make this yummy take out classic.

8.  Mini Cuban Sandwiches.  I love mini food.  Mini burger and mini hot dogs are so...yawn.  Surprise your guests with an awesome Cuban sandwich, complete with ham, pork, pickles and nutty Swiss cheese.  Yes please.

9. Porchetta & Pickled Fennel Crostini.  Oh, I just love this recipe.  Mostly because it's super unique and different and just SOOOO amazing.  I love how the unctuousness (yup, unctuousness) contrasts with the sweet and sour pickled fennel.

10.  Better Than Boursin Cheese.  I love this because it's so versatile.  It's amazing on just crackers, to make mini tea sandwiches, or to just spread on your hands and lick them.  Just kidding.  I never do that.  Tee hee hee yes I do.

Happy, happy holiday appetizer making.  Stay hungry!