Throwback | diy holidays

Christmas sled

We found this vintage sled in the garage when we moved in – I knew it would be a perfect to add a little holiday spirit to our porch!

This holiday season has varied a little from our norm…

Usually, we’d be knee-deep in greenery and cookie baking by this time in December. But, this year, we have no place to put a Christmas tree yet because apparently it’s not super simple to renovate a 145-year-old kitchen, or something. And, obviously, cooking is hard when your new oven is still shrink-wrapped in the garage. So, my living room still looks like the pic below, but, with some help from my awesome mom who has been visiting (who, side-note, will paint your kitchen cabinets until 6am for you, and do your laundry…) at least the outside of the house is looking festive!

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The filter makes this pic look way more serene than it feels irl… But, the end of our sea of boxes is near!

Things are different, BUT, I’ve found comfort in some old and new traditions – some of which I’ve shared on FreshlyMinted in the past! And, a white-and-grey-and-butcher block-and-harringbone – and subway tile- rustic farmhouse kitchen is now totally within sight… so I can be patient a little longer ;)

In the meantime, here are a few of my favorite throwback holiday posts and projects:

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Handmade Holiday | Rustic Boxwood Garland & Mini Wreaths, Newsprint Tree, Perfect Christmas Bow and Popcorn garland (I used holly for my garland this year – much more prickly, but just as lovely!)

Salt Dough | Gift Tags & Ornaments 

Secret Holiday Treats | Aunt J’s Top Secret Chocolate Mint Cookie Recipe

A Cookie-Swappers Daydream | Salted Mudslide Cookie Recipe

Enjoy!

Salt Dough {Gift Tags}

Family Christmas 2012My family likes to joke that we have a lot of very important Christmas “traditions”.

Like, where we cut down our tree (Timbuk Farms), that we have to ride the dusty old school bus at the tree farm (even if our tree type is within walking distance), where we eat afterwards (Brew’s Cafe), that we play Holly & the Ivy sung by Roger Whittaker while we decorate, that we always drink UDF egg nog (it’s the best…really), and that somehow Joe is always swindled out of either picking the tree, or putting the star on top.

I think he has a complex.
Tree HuntThough many of them are silly, those goofy traditions are what my Holiday memories are made of… and I love them all. And, my family laughing, joking, poking fun and reminiscing is the BEST part of any gathering… it wouldn’t be Christmas without it.

{Side Note: This year, Joe’s girlfriend Melissa was able to join us, too! It made me think of the Husband’s first time getting the family tree with us (almost nine years ago!). Another thing that made this year special was the fact that we got to walk through the historic home where we had our wedding reception more than three years ago – The Robbins Hunter Museum in Granville, OH. They just renovated, and it’s stunning! More great memories relived…}Family tree dinnerAnother highlight? We actually agreed it was Joe’s turn to put on the star.

He was so happy, he took a bow.

And, that fire. Perfection.

Family tree at homeThese family get-togethers always make me want to buy everyone the PERFECT gifts – ENORMOUS presents that they will remember forever, and tear-up over, and hug me, and tell me I’m their favorite relative…

But, that’s not realistic: I haven’t won the lottery, my parents would be mad if I got Bekah a pony, and Joe hasn’t been able to decide what he wants really for Christmas since 1992. About the same year he claims was the last time he put the star on the tree.

So instead, I decided to make the pretty-cool gifts I DID get them look really sweet. How? With a little velvet ribbon, a little brown paper, lace, pom-poms, twine and these lovely salt dough tags…

Salt Dough tagsHere’s how to do it yourself!

Stamped Salt Dough Gift Tags

(Even if you were a pro at this in Sunday school 20 years ago, you might need a refresher. Also, don’t be tempted to eat the dough. It still tastes as awful as it did back then. Inspiration.)

Dough Ingredients:

  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1cup water

Other Tools:

  • Rubber stamps – letters, flowers, plants, whatever you’d like
  • Basic ink pad of the color of your choice
  • Small, round biscuit cutter or other cookie-cutter shapes
  • Drinking straw
  • Ribbon or twine

Tags how-toDirections:

  • Mix all ingredients in a mixer until a smooth dough forms
  • Roll out the dough to 1/4″ thick on parchment paper
  • Stamp, with or without ink
  • Cut out shapes (easier after stamping the dough)
  • Use a drinking straw to punch the hole at the top for hanging
  • Place on baking sheet, bake at *250 for three hours

Presents!We chose to use a mix of recipient’s initials, our monogram, simple words like “Joy!”, and vintage-looking prints of animals, flowers, crowns and keys. They turned out great, and added a ton of flair to our gifts. Not quite a pony, but I’m sure your friends and family will adore them – they can use them as ornaments next year!.

I think we found another tradition.

Merry Christmas – Enjoy!

{Handmade} Holiday

Merry & BrightI hope everyone has been having as much fun prepping for Christmas as we have! It’s no secret that I LOVE the holidays, and all that comes with them. The family, the TV specials, the food, and our annual forced popcorn-stringing marathon that The Husband simply adores…

Not. But, we like the end result ;)

This year, I was a little dismayed when I pulled out my rag-tag/hand-me-down/college-dollar-store-purchase Christmas decor. Yes, we have a few nice things I’ve picked up since we’ve been married, and lots of gorgeous ornaments for the tree that my mom has bought me every year since childhood, but nothing super put-together… and nothing like my Pinterest Holiday inspiration boards.

Home for the Holidays

So, I took matters into my own hands, and did a few experiments. And somehow, week-old bush clippings salvaged from the compost pile, leftover burlap, a giant Frosted Mini-Wheats box, an old newspaper and clearance-rack ribbon transformed the house into a little winter wonderland…

Here’s How:

Rustic Boxwood Garland & Mini Window Wreaths

Supplies:

  • A bucket of boxwood clippings
  • Green floral wire
  • Ribbon for hanging, bows for decoration

Garland!

Garland Directions:

  • Choose 3-4 sprigs of boxwood, varying lengths
  • Wrap the ends tightly 3-4 times with the floral wire
  • Gather another bunch of boxwood, and lay along the wire, overlapping the last bunch. Wrap tightly. Repeat until garland reaches desired length.

Wreath Directions:

  • Use the same method as above, but begin your garland with a longer piece, then choose slightly shorter clippings for your bunches.
  • Once you reach desired length, form into a circle, cut wire, and attach your first, longer clipping to end.
  • Use ribbon to hang several of varying sizes in the window.

Vintage Newsprint Christmas Tree

Newsprint TreeSupplies:

  • Empty cereal box
  • Packing tape
  • A pencil or pen
  • Newspaper
  • Glue stick or rubber cement
  • Ribbon or other topper

Directions:

  • Deconstruct and flatten the cereal box
  • Cut into a rough circle, and cut a slit to the center
  • Roll into a cone shape, tape, and trim bottom so it stands level
  • Cut the black and white text sections of the newspaper into strips, roughly 1″ wide (I alternated making the text horizontal and vertical on the strips – variations in size and direction of the text adds to the vintage look)
  • Roll strips around pencil to give them a slight curl, and cut to about 2-3″ in length
  • Start on the bottom, and glue strips around the base. Allow them to hang over the edge of the cone slightly, and overlap each piece. Work your way up the tree, one layer at the time, overlapping each.
  • Top with a bow, or other decorative piece.

Perfect Christmas Bow

Watch this slightly annoying video, and you’re set!

Bows!

I used strips of burlap for the garland on my mantle and bay window, and ribbon for my newspaper tree and hutch in the kitchen – get creative – it’s so easy!

Classic Popcorn & Cranberry Garland

The directions on this one are pretty obvious, but I do have a few tips:

Pop!

  • Pop your popcorn the day before and let it go stale – it’s easier to string that way!
  • Use plain kernels, and pop in a paper lunch bag in the microwave. Just put about 1/4 cup in the bag, roll top twice, and pop. No grease, no weird butter-flavoring color (a great, healthy, snack, too ;)
  • Mix up your patterns!
  • Use a thimble if your fingers get ouchy.
  • Make your husband help while watching Christmas specials. Require he completes at least two full strands, and doesn’t use a 10-1 cranberry-to-popcorn ratio because the berries are easier string.

ChristmasA&RHave fun!

Salted Caramel {Brownie Bites}

Every once in a while, you stumble upon something unexpected,  but totally life-changing. Often, its a new best friend, a profound novel, a moving song…

For me, it was salted caramel. And more specifically, these perfect bite-sized treats.

Everyone you share these with will thank you. And, they’ll think you’re super-fancy, ’cause everyone knows stuff like sushi, brie, that Asian hot sauce stuff, red wine, hummus and salted caramel makes you fancy. Proven fact.

Perfect for your next Holiday party, cookie swap, gift-wrapping marathon, or to eat delicately while watching Home Alone for the 1,000th time…

Dark Chocolate Caramel Brownie Bites with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Based on this recipe

Makes 4 dozen bites

Ingredients:

Brownies:

  • 2 boxes of brownie mix (I recommend the Ghiradelli dark chocolate mix – it’s my secret weapon…)
  • A piece of soft caramel for each brownie bite (I used a local confectioners homemade caramels, and cut each into fourths for a piece of caramel about the size of a dime, and 1/4″ thick. You can use any soft caramels, and adjust to taste)

Frosting:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 12-20 caramels
, depending on size
  • 2 T. heavy cream
  • 
2 c. powdered sugar
  • kosher sea salt

Directions:

Brownies:

  • Preheat oven to 325. Mix brownie batter as directed.
  • Lightly grease mini-cupcake pan, and fill cups 1/3 full with batter. Place a caramel in each, and fill the rest of the way with batter. Be sure to cover caramel.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, let cool, and gently remove from pan.

Frosting:

  • First, melt the caramel with the heavy cream. You can pop it in the microwave for 30 second increments, until the caramel is smooth. Allow it to cool in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
  • Whip the butter for about 30 seconds on med-high speed, until fluffy. Add in about one cup of powdered sugar, and mix until combined. Once the caramel is cool to the touch, turn the mixer on medium speed and then drizzle the caramel into the frosting, reserving just a little to top the brownies. Beat until fluffy.
  • Add the other cup of powdered sugar and the salt, a 1/4 to a 1/2 t. at a time, mixing and then tasting after each addition to make sure you don’t add too much. A little goes a long way!
  • Use a pastry bag, or a baggie with the tip cut off, to pipe a little of the frosting in a swirl on top of each cooled brownie. Top with a hint of a drizzle of the reserved caramel, chocolate shavings, and another little dash of sea salt.
  • Enjoy!

{Biscoff} Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

There is just something about Thanksgiving.

The family, the history, the stories, the shopping, the parade, the naps…

<;– My mom's amazing dry-erase art from my family's visit last weekend! If you couldn't tell, that's me,the husband and a plate of cookies…

Oh yeah, and the FOOD!

This year, go beyond the pumpkin pie and turkey… not too far (let’s face it, grandpa won’t dig tofu or quinoa), but far enough to make people think you’re fancy.

It’s nice when people think you’re fancy. Particularly when it takes very little actual effort. Kind of like these cookies.

Most people have tasted those lovely, sweet, slightly spicy little cookies that are handed out on Delta flights – Biscoff. What you may not know is that you not only can find the cookies at your local grocery store, but you can also find Biscoff spread.

This creamy concoction tastes like pulverized cookies mixed with peanut butter – Totally dreamy, and full of possibilities. Put it on your oatmeal, toast, yogurt, apple slices or pancakes. OR, you could make these fluffy perfect-for-Thanksgiving little cookies.

From cookie, to spread, and back to cookie again. You’re just completing the circle of life.

Biscoff Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

From this recipe – yet another great Pinterest find!

Makes 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/3 cup Biscoff Spread (or Trader Joe’s Cookie Spread)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • Optional Add-ins: Chocolate chips, pecans, dried cranberries…

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and salt. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter and sugars. Beat until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the pumpkin and Biscoff spread and mix until combined. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until smooth.

4. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients, beating only until blended. Stir in the oats.

5. Form the cookie dough into rounded tablespoons and place them 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are golden and just firm around the edges. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then remove with a spatula onto a cooling rack.

Enjoy, and Happy Thanksgiving!

{Decadent} S’More Trifle

If you have to feed a crowd, this is your dessert. If you need to make something easy, this is your dessert. If you want to make people smile when you walk in the room lugging this bowl with you, this is your dessert. If you love the feeling of marshmallow fluff between your fingers, this is your dessert.

Actually, you really don’t have any excuses. Just save yourself the trouble, and make this now. Trust me… your smiling friends will thank you.

How can you not drool over this picture?:

Gooey S’More Trifle

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages of brownie mix (I use Ghiradelli – it’s the BEST)
  • 1 packet of instant chocolate pudding
  • 1 large tub of light whipped topping, thawed (see – this dessert is practically a health food!)
  • 1/2 box of graham crackers, crushed
  • 2 large containers of marshmallow fluff
  • 2 Hershey’s candy bars
  • 1 cup of mini marshmallows

Directions:

  • Bake brownies as directed. Let cool, set aside.
  • Make pudding using 1/2 milk required, let set. Once firm, mix entire tub of whipped topping, set aside.
  • Break cooled brownies into chunks, use as the first trifle layer in the bottom of the bowl. Follow with a layer of marshmallow fluff, then crushed graham crackers, then pudding mixture,. Repeat until bowl is full. (Hint: It might be easier to spread fluff if you scoop it into a piping bag, or baggie with hole cut at the tip. Remember – it doesn’t have to be pretty!)
  • Top bowl with broken-up candy bars, and mini-marshmallows.
  • Get a really big spoon, and enjoy!

This could also be perfect for the “kid’s table” at Thanksgiving…. come on, admit it. Everyone knows we’ll never “graduate”. But, with awesome kid food like this, who wants to ? ;)

Spicy-Sweet Roasted {Pumpkin Seeds}

To be honest, I’ve never had much success with roasting pumpkin seeds…

Unless, of course, by “roasting” you mean creating a clump of gunk charred beyond all recognition, or some soggy things that get stuck in your teeth and are a little slimy. If that’s the case, I usually nail it.

BUT, this time, my seeds were a resounding success. They tasted awesome, had the perfect *crunch*, a delightful honey-smokiness, and a pretty caramelized color…

Almost as beautiful as the Husband’s “Avenger” pumpkin.

So, grab up those discount-pumpkins, scoop ’em out, and enjoy these awesome little treats! Perfect for get-togethers, on salads, or a before-dinner snack…

Spicy-Sweet Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 pinch cinnamon
  • 1 pinch cumin
  • 1 pinch cayenne
  • 1 pinch chili powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove seeds from pumpkin. Discard membranes and spread seeds on baking sheet. Bake for about 10-15 minutes – this will make them nice and crisp!
  • Remove from oven. Toss seeds with olive oil, honey and spices to taste – don’t be afraid to be liberal with them. The more flavor the better…
  • Return to oven and roast coated seeds until golden, about another 10-15 minutes. Watch very closely to prevent burning, and stir several times during cooking. Let cool, and enjoy! Keep in an airtight container, and much on ’em for over a week.

P.S. The Husband makes a pretty cute Gondolier, no?

…now if I could only get him to STOP singing “‘O Sole Meio”…

Easter {Fun}day

I, like many of you, am still recovering from/basking in a weekend of fabulous Easter celebrations. Full of all things wonderful: family, friends, dark chocolate, church, presents, breakfast dates and mashed potatoes, we couldn’t have asked for a more full, refreshing time (or tummies! ;)

(Title~ pun intended)

We started the weekend early with my family’s traditional Passover Seder meal on Thursday evening. Though we are Christians, the symbolism of this night is very special. We do a Messianic version of the readings, and I love reflecting on the history and meaning behind the words. The same ritual has been performed by the Jewish people for thousands of years, and Jesus said the same words at the last supper… amazing to ponder.

{Berry pies, turkey and matzo ball soup… My mother works wonders!}

Good Friday dawned with an intense kickboxing class with my good friend, Steph (and getting Bekah dressed for the a “Cross Walk” event uptown – Isn’t she cute!?) The class. Was. Amazing. And, it totally worked up my appetite for a scrumptious grilled feast that evening. The Husband and the other guys played golf all morning while we hit up Great Harvest (yay for those warm, wonderful samples!), World Market (their little milk frothers make great gifts – I LOVE mine, $2.99!) and the grocery store to get the goodies for dinner. “The Gang” is ALWAYS a blast, and we totally enjoyed their company.

{Sirloin burgers= boys. Homemade ELR black bean burgers = girls. Soooo good!}

On Saturday morning, I had the chance to go to one of my favorite restaurants of all time – Northstar Cafe – with one of my favorite people – Samantha! She and her husband were in town for the holiday, and we managed to carve out some time to catch up (over to-die-for ricotta pancakes, eggs and coffee). Isn’t Sam gorgeous?!

{Wonderful organic, whole foods, wonderful company. Our lives are so fun and crazy right now… We had no idea we’d be ‘here’ when we took Chemistry together 8 years ago!}

The rest of our Saturday was jam-packed with a family Easter-present/candy hunt, and a trip to visit my great-grandma and cousins for yet another great meal, golf in the backyard, baby goat petting, egg hunt and sunny porch sitting. We rounded out the evening back at Samantha’s parents house (her mom, dad and siblings are close friends of my family) for a glass of wine, brie en croute and s’mores… whew!

{Dietsch’s dark chocolate salted caramel, chick cookies, hugs, and hidden surprises…}

Sunday morning was a fun rush of (more) food, the donning of crisp dresses and colorful shirts and a rich celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. The Husband and I we are fortunate enough to have met at church, so both of our families are a part of the same congregation, along with a ton of long-time friends. After church, we headed over to the Husband’s parents’ house to hang out with his siblings, and eat another great meal!

{Fresh strawberry scones, mini-quiche, fruit and bacon for breakfast, and brisket and fixin’s for dinner… along with my sister-in-law’s jaw-dropping cinnamon roll cake *cue angels singing*}

…now see why I’m recovering?

I hope you all had a sweet, fun weekend with your families and friends and favorite dishes :) Did you have any fun eats? Please share!

Boston {carrot cake} Pancakes

Nothing brings back memories for me like the weather. Weird, huh?

…sometimes, it just feels like Christmas, or summer vacation, or camping, or the first day of school outside, you know? You can almost smell it, sense it, in the air…

Lately, Boston has been drifting on the wind.

A year ago, about this time, I visited my best friend Hannah in Massachusetts just before her graduation from college. We’ve known each other for a long time (learn more about our friendship in this post, and the other trip I’m planning to visit her here!), but school and work and travel and a wedding had kept us apart for too long.

So, on a whim, I hopped on a plane.

So worth it… isn’t it always?

It was a wonderful trip full of adventures, reminiscing, historic sights, whispers, hopes, plans and daydreams. Every minute of it was glorious, but one particular thing sticks in my mind more than the rest.

Not an ancient church, or view of the ocean…

It was a pancake.

A carrot cake pancake with maple cream cheese butter from Sugar Magnolia’s in Gloucester, MA, to be exact. Ahhh… a thing of dreams.

When the weather changed this spring, that pancake started haunting me once again. So, I decided to do something about it:

So sit back, grab a copy of the House of the Seven Gables or On Walden Pond, and enjoy.

Whole Wheat Carrot Cake Pancakes

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Food4Fitness

Makes about 8-10 small, 4-5 large pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup of whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 Cup of wheat germ
  • 2 T Toasted chopped pecans
  • 2 t Baking powder
  • 1 1/4 t Cinnamon
  • 1/8 t Ginger
  • 1/8 t Nutmeg
  • 1/4 t Salt
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 T EVOO
  • 2 T Brown sugar
  • 1 -1 1/4 C Unsweetened vanilla almond milk (Start with one cup – add if needed)
  • About 1 1/2 -2 C Finely grated, peeled carrots (Peel to reduce bitterness, grate finely so carrots soften with cooking. Start with 1.5 cups, add as needed. )
  • 1 t Vanilla extract

Maple Cream Cheese Butter

  • 4oz. (1/2 block) Neufchatel Cheese (or cream cheese)
  • 2 T Maple Syrup
  • 2 T Butter, softened

Directions:

  • Combine flour, wheat germ, pecans, baking powder, salt and spices in a large bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, combine egg, sugar, milk, oil, carrots and vanilla.
  • Add the carrot mixture to the flour mixture and mix until combined.
  • Use butter or oil to grease a skillet or frying pan, and cook until done (about two min. on each side. I like to watch for bubbles on the first side, then flip!)
  • For topping, mix softened ingredients together and spread, dollop or dip generously. Garnish with real maple syrup and a dash of cinnamon.

These pancakes are dense, hearty, and packed with fiber and other good-for-you-ness. Not too sweet (you can really taste the carrots!), and perfect for an Easter treat, or any time you want to take a trip to Boston in your head…

What are you making for Easter this year? Do you have any special family traditions? Please, share!

Asian Lettuce Wraps {for a Crowd}

Every once in a while, you stumble upon a truly great recipe. It’s simple. It’s healthy. It’s tastes great. Even boys like it…

In my experience, these rare and wonderful dishes usually come from a single source: A mom.

This surprising dish is no exception. Thanks to my good friend Steph’s lovely and talented mama, the Husband and I were introduced to her lettuce wraps at a Birthday party. It was Cole’s 25th Birthday, to be exact, and there was football, beer and lots and lots of boys there. And, they loved each and every healthful green-wrapped bit of the stuff.

Impossible, you say? Just try it.

Asian Lettuce Wraps
Serves 4 as written. Quadruple for a crowd!
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 lb. ground turkey
  • 1/2 lb. hot Italian turkey brats
  • 1 lg. yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1/4 C Hoisin sauce
  • 2 tsp. ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. Asian chile pepper sauce, opt.
  • 1 – 8 oz. water chestnuts, drained and chopped
  • 1 green onion bunch, chopped
  • 2 tsp. Asian dark sesame oil
  • Head of  bib, romaine or iceberg lettuce
Directions
  • Rinse whole lettuce leaves & pat dry, set aside.
  •  In a med skillet over high heat, brown both kinds of turkey together, stirring often, drain.  Break turkey up into small pieces when cool to touch, set aside.
  •  Cook onion (til opaque) in skillet used to brown turkey, stirring frequently.  Add garlic, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, vinegar & chile pepper to onions & stir.
  • Add turkey mixture to skillet, coating turkey with onion mixture.  Stir in chopped water chestnuts, green onions & sesame oil. Continue cooking until onions just begin to wilt, about 2 min.
  • If you plan to eat immediately, arrange lettuce leaves around serving platter & pile meat in the center. For a crowd, simply transfer the mixture into a crock pot and set on low until you’re ready to serve!
  • It’s magic. Tasty, “a-mom-must-have-made-this!”, magic.

You might not wean party-goers and guests off of artificial cheese dip and buffalo chicken flavored pretzels all in one foul swoop… but this is a start.

I made this dish as an appetizer for our recent family Christmas party, and it got rave reviews. I made the filling a few days ahead, and popped it in the freezer. The morning of the party I put it in a crock pot, and it stayed warm and had an amazing flavor (it had time to “marinate”). No fuss, no worry that my dish would get cold, and it looks totally impressive…

AND, I made that delightful looking little treat above to accompany them. Lettuce wraps and dark chocolate drizzled, candy cane sprinkled, homemade rice crispy treats on a stick = a match made in party heaven.

Thank God for Pinterest.

Enjoy!