Sunday, December 18, 2011

How: Candy Cane Place Card Holders

Candy Cane Place Card Holder

Christmas is my favorite holiday.  For lots of reasons.  One reason is that my parents host a framily* get together and it is always a wonderful time.  For the last few years, I have prepared a few of the appetizers.  Last year I made little signs to label the apps.  This year I decided to step it up a notch and make these candy cane place card holders to fancy up the app labels. These took me maybe 15 minutes from start to finish.  Super easy and also awfully cute, if I do say so myself.

Start with two candy canes.
Glue the two candy canes together to create the label holder.
Glue on a third candy cane so the holder can stand on its own.
Add labels or place cards and ta-da!
(Yes, these are the apps I'm making for Christmas dinner.)

What You'll Need:
Small candy canes, three for each place card holder, unwrapped
Glue gun
Index cards or other heavy paper for the labels
Ribbon, optional

1. Place a dot or small stripe of glue along the side of one candy cane and press the second candy cane against the first.  Hold for a few seconds until the glue has cooled.
2. Glue the third candy cane to the back of the first two so that the holders can stand on their own.
3. If using ribbon, now is the time to add a little bow around the three candy canes.
4. Make place cards or food labels out of small tags cut from index cards, or other heavy paper, and pens.
5. Place finished cards in the candy cane place card holders.

* Framily = friends who are family

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Recipe: Winter Sangria

Winter Sangria
Citrus, cinnamon, and cloves.

Winter Sangria
Based on Cooking Light's Winter Sangria recipe.


6 tangerines -- 4 juiced and 2 sliced
1 lime, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
4 whole cloves
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup triple sec
1 bottle dry red wine, such as cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, merlot, or zinfandel

In a large pitcher, combine juice of 4 tangerines, tangerine slices, lime slices, lemon, slices, cinnamon stick, cloves, sugar, and triple sec.  Stir to combine.  Pour in wine and stir to combine. Refrigerate for a few hours, preferably overnight. Cheers!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Recipe: Artichoke and Mushroom Crusted Chicken Breasts

I will be the first to admit that I usually buy pre-made chicken breasts for dishes that call for chopped or shredded chicken.  I think it is worth the extra cost because then I don't have to touch raw chicken.  Ew.  Sometimes I even avoid a chicken recipe altogether.  This recipe just goes to show that I will do most anything for artichokes, mushrooms, and cheese.  We enjoyed this chicken dish with a side of roasted fingerling potatoes and asparagus.  It was delicious and well worth having to touch raw chicken.

Oh, and if you don't like mushrooms you can either 1) suck it up and give them a try in this recipe because they are chopped up small and mixed in with artichokes and cheese or 2) omit the mushrooms and substitute chopped spinach for an artichoke and spinach crusted chicken.


Artichoke, mushroom and cheese mixture.

Chicken breasts topped with artichoke, mushroom, and cheese mixture.

Artichoke and Mushroom Crusted Chicken Breasts
Adapted from

Serves: 4
Total Time: 25 minutes


  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup chopped artichoke hearts
  • 1 cup chopped crimini mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp white cheddar
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

  1. Pound the chicken breasts between saran wrap to an even thickness.  Salt and pepper both sides.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook the chicken breasts until browned and cooked through, approximately 5 minutes on each side.  
  3. While chicken is cooking, mix the artichoke hearts, mushrooms, cheese, and mayonnaise together in a bowl. 
  4. Once chicken is cooked, remove from pan and onto a baking sheet.  
  5. Top each chicken breast with the artichoke and mushroom mixture. 
  6. Broil the chicken in the oven for approximately 5 minutes, or until the artichoke, mushroom, and cheese starts to brown.  Watch the chicken carefully so that it does not burn. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Recipe: Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Sure, you can buy soup ready to heat up and serve in two minutes but this soup is so easy and delicious that it is well worth a little extra time in the kitchen.  Also, you control the salt content, versus the grocery store offerings which are chock full of sodium. 

Roasted red pepper soup w/ a sharp cheddar and gruyere grilled cheese.

This soup is perfect for lunch or dinner with a grilled cheese on the side.  Or, if you are having guests over, leave the soup simmering on the stove with a ladle, mugs, and spoons standing by.  People tend to congregate in the kitchen so you might as well let them serve up their own portions of soup to enjoy before the main course. 

Soup on the stove.

This recipe is adapted from Sunset magazine. 

  • 3 red bell peppers, halved and seeds removed
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • salt and pepper
  • Optional toppings: tabasco sauce, creme fraiche, chopped parsley

  1. Preheat the broiler. Place the red pepper halves, cut side down, in a baking pan and broil until the skins are black and blistered, about 10 minutes.  Let cool on pan for 10 minutes. 
  2. While red peppers are roasting, heat a large pot on the stove over medium heat.  Add the olive oil and the onion and cook, stirring often, about 5 minutes. 
  3. Add the garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes. 
  4. Add the tomatoes (undrained) and the paprika. Bring to a low simmer and cook, stirring occasionally until the red peppers are ready.
  5. Peel the roasted red peppers, add to the pot, and simmer for 5 minutes. 
  6. Puree the vegetable mixture with an immersion blender* until smooth.  
  7. Stir in broth and lemon juice and cook over medium heat until hot. 
  8. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  9. Ladle soup into mugs or bowls and add any optional toppings. 

*If you don't have an immersion blender you can also puree the vegetable mixture in small batches in a food processor or blender.