Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday Time :)

I just love the holidays! I mean really, twinkle lights, glitter everywhere, cheery Christmas music playing in every store, hot chocolate, beautiful Christmas trees everywhere you look, cozy nights watching old movies or reading a book... the list goes on and on and I mean really if you can't find just one single thing you don't like about the holidays, there has got to be something wrong with you.

So, in the spirit of the holidays, here are a few things I've done recently to get into (or spread) some Christmas cheer!

I made these little numbers to give out as treats for the peeps at work.
I don't really know what call them, I just saw a picture of them online and decided to make them. Super simple! Just take the waffle pretzels (small square ones) and spread them out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Then you just place a Hershey Kiss in the center of each pretzel and bake them for about 4-6 minutes at 170 degrees. As soon you remove them, press Christmas M&M's on top. You can let them stand for a while to cool or place the tray in the fridge for about 20 minutes and they'll firm up instantly. I packaged them in clear plastic party bags and tied them with Christmas ribbon and an ornament. I didn't take a picture of any, sorry. I thought they were pretty good, not near as great as the puppy chow I usually make, but good none the less.

That same weekend my mom and I made Christmas cookies! :)
Well, she makes the cookies and I do the decorating. This year I wanted to have more colors, so I played artist and mixed some food coloring up and made purple icing too, it turned out to be my fav! Making Christmas cookies is one of my favorite things to do every year, for those of you who aren't big bakers, you can always buy frozen sugar cookie dough or one of the mixes where you add water/eggs etc. I've used both methods before in college and we still had a blast and they tasted just fine ;)

My friend Candy had been a busy little elf these days making all kinds of garlands and wreaths for her house, friends, and coworkers! She surprised me with a wreath last week as a gift for my mom, it's super cute! She decorated it with ornaments, lights, and this beautiful material that reflects the lights. 

Last week I also made a gingerbread house. I LOVE making gingerbread houses! Usually there's a group of us making them together but this year I did mine on my own, I think it still turned out ok. It's just a kit from Target - I don't go too crazy and have to make my own gingerbread or anything that's insane! 

Thursday was our department Christmas party. This year instead of renting one of the buildings from campus, the party was held at one of our faculty member's houses. Rather than having a caterer, we did it potluck style and it turned out pretty well. I made pasta salad, which of course I forgot to take a picture of. It was pretty yummy and super easy to make! 

1 box Rotini Pasta (I used plain, colored are fine too, bowtie also work great too)
1/4 lb deli pepperoni
1/4 lb deli hard salami
2 containers olives
shredded parmesan cheese
italian dressing
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
3 tbsp EVOO
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 minced garlic cloves

The first thing I did was make a marinade for the olives. The olives I purchased came in a resealable container (not a jar) but a tupperware would work fine too. Drain the olives and then sprinkle them with the thyme, rosemary, black pepper, garlic, and EVOO. Seal the container and shake. Shake some more. And then when you think you're done, give it another shake just to make sure the olives are good and coated. Let the olives sit in the refrigerator for 1 hour or up to 5 days. I let mine sit over night and they tasted delish!  The next step is obvs to cook the pasta. Since this was for work and I didn't want to be running behind, I cooked my pasta the night before and did a light cover of Italian dressing (so the noodles didn't stick) and kept it in the fridge overnight. When you're ready assemble the entire pasta, cut the pepperoni and salami into strips and toss into the pasta with the olives and sprinkle with a handful of cheese. Using a large spoon, mix that baby up! Give it a taste, if you think it needs it, add more Italian dressing. I usually add a lot of extra dressing to mine, however since I marinated the olives this time I didn't want to over power their flavor, so I didn't add to much extra - that's all in your hands ;) The pasta salad was a big hit at the party, and it's so easy!

I also made these little appetizers for the party. I just used store bought toasties and pipped some herb cream cheese onto them and sprinkled bacon on top. The herb cream cheese is a secret recipe, sorry ;) But you can experiment with your own variations, the possibilities are endless!
Please excuse the "in the refrigerator" picture hehe ;)

Also, this weekend the Bearkats clinched their first ever FCS National Championship birth! I'm so proud of them! I went to the tailgate Friday and then came home to watch the game, it was just too cold for me, guess that means I'm getting old... I'm super pumped for the game January 7th! Get ready Candy, I'm already planning all kinds of stuff to make for our viewing party hahaha!

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