It’s Fall, y’all. Part Two: Cookies and Crafts.

Scratch that.

It doesn’t feel like fall at all.

It feels like icemageddon played ding dong ditch at my home in North Texas.

Technically, winter begins December 21st a the start of winter solstice; however, this year it showed up a little too early to a party that it was never invited to in the first place.

Global Warming? Where you at?

Here are some yummy goodies to help you finish fall strong and bring you right into the Christmas spirit!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins.

pumpkin cream cheese muffin

  • Filling
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Muffins
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • Streusel Topping
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons softened butter

Prepare filling by beating together all ingredients. Freeze for at least 1 hour.

Line 18 muffin cups with paper baking cups or grease and flour the muffin cups. Heat oven to 375°.

Muffins: In a large mixing bowl with electric mixer, combine the 2 2/3 cups of flour, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices. Add eggs, pumpkin, vegetable oil, and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Beat until well blended.

Streusel Topping: In a small bowl, combine the 1/3 cup flour, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and butter. Work together with a fork or fingers. Set aside.

Fill muffin cups about one-third full with the muffin batter, then put about 1 tablespoon of frozen cream cheese mixture in the center of each. Top with about 1 more tablespoon of the pumpkin batter, or until cups are about 3/4 full. Make sure all of the cream cheese is covered. Sprinkle each muffin with a little of the streusel topping. Bake for 18 to 24 minutes, until firm.

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese filling and Chocolate Ganache. *I know this is a terrible picture but it was all I had left*

cake

  • Pumpkin Cake
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 4 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Chocolate Ganache:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 10 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, being sure to scrape down the edges after adding each egg. Beat in the vanilla.
In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and pumpkin spice. Slowly beat the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Once mixed, turn the mixer off and gently fold in the pumpkin puree.
Scoop batter equally into the cake pans and level with a knife. Bake in preheated oven for 35 – 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool for several minutes. Gently remove the cake from the pans and place on a cooling rack.
Make the cream cheese frosting filling by creaming together the butter and cream cheese. Beat in the vanilla. Beat in the powered sugar and mix until a stiff but spreadable mixture forms.
Place one of the cakes bottom side up on a cake stand. Spread the cream cheese frosting over the top. Place the other cake, top side up, on top of the frosting.
Make the ganache right before you are ready to use it, by heating the heavy cream in a saucepan just until simmering. Place the chocolate chips in a bowl you can easily pour from (I used my 4 cup measuring cup). Pour the hot cream over the top. Make sure all of the chocolate is submerged in the cream. Let stand for two minutes.
Gently whisk the chocolate and cream together until the chocolate has melted and the mixture has a glossy look to it.
Carefully, and working from the center outward, pour the chocolate ganache over the cake. The ganache will be thick, you can use a knife to spread it around. Do this quickly before the ganache hardens.
After ganache hardens, about 15 minutes you can slice and serve the cake.
Keep any leftovers in the refrigerator. Remove from the fridge about an hour before serving to allow the cake to come to room temperature.

Dark Chocolate Popovers and Cinnamon Whipped Cream.

popover

  • Popovers
  • 4 tablespoons butter, browned
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk, slightly warm in temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped and tossed in a bit of flour
  • whipped cream
  • 1 1/4 cups cold heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Brush a popover pan (muffin pan or deep mini cake pans work well too) with 2 tablespoons of the browned butter.

Add the eggs to a blender and puree until combined. Add in the warmed milk, the vanilla, remaining butter, flour and salt, blending until the batter is combined.

Place the pan in the oven and heat it for 5 minutes. Remove it from the oven and pour the popover batter in the pan, filling the tins 3/4 of the way full. Add half of the chopped chocolate to the tins. Bake for 25 minutes and do not open the oven!

Once the popovers are finished, remove them from the oven and sprinkle with the remaining chocolate. Let cool slightly before serving with whipped cream.

whipped cream
Add the heavy cream to the bowl of your electric mixer. Beat on low speed, gradually increasing to high speed, until peaks form and the whipped cream is thick. Beat in the sugar and vanilla extract. I added 1 TSP of cinnamon and used it in Mexican hot chocolate, as well as with my popovers. It was delicious. I plan on making it again using real strawberries. The possibilities are endless! Refrigerate any leftovers.

Turkey Wild Rice Soup.

turkey wild rice soup

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups cooked, cubed turkey breast
  • 1 cup uncooked wild rice
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat.

Add carrot, celery, onion, green onion, rosemary, thyme, pepper and garlic. Sauté about 8 minutes or until browned.Stir in broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.

Stir in turkey and rice; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour and 15 minutes or until rice is tender (15-20 minutes if using quick cooking rice).

Combine flour and milk in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk until there are no lumps. Add to soup and stir well.

Cook over medium heat until thick (about 8 minutes), stirring frequently. Season with salt, to taste.

As I have been iced in since Thursday night, I’ve had ample time for crafting. These things are so cute and make great gifts.

Mugs.

mugs

Find a mug you like- I bought mine at Target and choose your medium. I did one with sharpie and the other with sharpie paint. If you choose paint, a little goes a long way.  If you use too much, it will bubble when you cook it.

Bake the mug for 30 minutes at 350. Hand wash to ensure design will be maintained. You can wash it in the dish washer, but the design might not last as long.

Celtic Knot headband.

headband

Literally all I had to do was watch this video. I chose to make mine with grey polar fleece. I LOVE the way it turned out.

Pine Cones.

pine cone garland

cotton and pine cones

I love pine cones any time of year, but Christmas pine cones are the best because they’re scented with cinnamon. I hot glued some onto twine and hung it in my cube at work. Now my desk is winter wonderland. I also paired some with cotton in a vase, for a chic-southern look.

Bow Ties.

merry christmas bowtieChristmas bow tie

Bow ties are my favorite thing to make, so I love incorporating them into Christmas decorations and giving them as gifts.

Painting.

Fall deer and pumpkintoesIt may be time to move from pumpkins to peppermints, but glitter deer heads are always in style. I simply got a wooden piece and glued it to to a canvas, painted, and glittered. Christmas nails are also a must. I always love O.P.I. and Essie, but my newest obsession is Julep.

May your Christmas season be filled with JOY!

JOY

Total Sorority Move: Not paying for friends.

I graduate this Saturday and I am already being nostalgic about my Baylor career. Looking back I know without a doubt that joining a sorority, more specifically Tri Delta, was the best decision I made in these past 3.5 years. Tri Delta has given me so much- endless opportunities and a lifelong friends. It was great to be a part of it in college, but I know that my eyes are only beginning to be opened to  the benefits of joining Delta Delta Delta.  Sororities are often given a bum rap for being used to obtain an MRS degree, excessive partying and my personal favorite: paying for your friends.

I joined Delta Delta Delta for none of the previous, and I know my friends didn’t either. I had friends in high school, but I wouldn’t deem them as true friends. Yes, I do still keep up with a handful of them who are great friends, but other than those, we’ve all changed and decided to take different routes in life. I rushed as a freshman at Baylor, but dropped out mid process because of personal reasons. I went through recruitment again as a sophomore, but went this time with the pursuit of Tri Delta in mind.  I wanted to be a DDD because those girls were genuine friends to me- more-so than any roommate or friend I had at the time.

The first year I joined, I  immediately began reaping the benefits of sisterhood. I was able to be in our singing group Tried and True. Singing has always been a passion of mine, but I could never coordinate Baylor Choir into my schedule because Apparel Merchandising classes are only offered at one, maybe two class times. That same Spring, I won a national t-shirt design competition through Tri Delta Headquarters and my shirt was sold to Tri Deltas everywhere. I was chosen to be a float chair the following fall, where I got to put my creative skills to work.  For the past two years I have been given the pleasure of modeling for Tri Delta Nationals and being featured on the cover and inside the Delta Shop Sophie National Tri Delta Catalog and website, as well as inside the Trident, our national magazine. This past year I served our Beta Tau chapter of Tri Delta as their licensing chair where I got to design and sell apparel to my liking.  Through these positions I have learned more people skills than I could ever imagine and Tri Delta has truly prepared me for the real world.

Last summer when I was interviewing for internships, many of the employers would comment on my involvement in Greek life and I think it is one of the things that helped me get passed along to second round interviews.  Everywhere I go, I always run into current and Tri Delta alums.  Once we figure out our connection, whether it be from a bracelet, keychain, or simply wearing letters, I always have the best conversations and am reminded why I chose to pledge my love to Delta Delta Delta.

Yes, I have friends outside of Tri Delta, but I’d say that my Delta girls are the ones who have made my best college memories. They’re there when I’m happy, sad, or being an occasional brat. I often wonder who came up with the saying that Greek life is just “paying for your friends,” because I’ve only heard it from those who weren’t involved in such an organization. Tri Delta has made my friends my sisters, given me service opportunities, resume boosters, and kept my grades up…We do have the highest group’s GPA on the Baylor campus;)

Think I’m crazy? Well I know from personal experience, that many if not all girls are touched this same way. To some, it got them out of their shell. To others, it turned their life around for the better. Tri Delta can and will have a positive aspect on your life if you let it. Is it perfect? No. But then again, nothing is.

So when asked what I will miss most about college, it won’t be the naps, the parties, or the fact that I can wear leggings to class without getting judged; it will be the friends and lifelong memories I will have for years to come. On Bid Day my sophomore year, I was so happy to throw on some “D’s”; now I know that when I put them on, they weren’t just printed on my shirt- they will be  forever printed on my heart.

Merry Christmas and DLAM y’all.

Food Coma.

This past week I have experienced a plethora of sweets and treats and am now beginning to feel the effects of my previous dining choices. Before I totally drift off into a sleepy state induced by too much tryptophan, I thought I’d share a couple of the goodies we had at my house for the Christmas season.

Nutella Peppermint Cocoa Truffles

  • 8 ounces milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup of Stephen’s Candy Cane Cocoa mix (with extra for rolling finish truffles in, about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 heavy spoonfuls of Nutella

In a small, heavy saucepan bring the heavy whipping cream and 1/3 of the cocoa mix to a simmer. Whisk occasionally to make sure the cocoa is dissolving into the cream.

Once dissolved, place the chocolate in a medium bowl and pour the cream over the chocolate and let it stand for a few minutes then stir until smooth. Once mixed, stir in the Nutella.

Let chocolate cool down and then place in the fridge with plastic wrap over the top for at least two hours. Remove and with a teaspoon roll out balls of the chocolate. Roll in your hands quickly and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper.

Roll in the remaining hot chocolate mix and place into the refrigerator. Keep stored in fridge.

Sopapilla Cheesecake

  • 2 cans Crescent Rolls
  • 2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese (room temp)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350, then unroll 1 can of crescent rolls and lay flat in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Stretch the rolls to cover the bottom of the pan. Pinch any seams closed.

Then, in a mixing bowl combine cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and vanilla until combined and smooth and spread it over top of the crescent rolls. 

Unroll the remaining can of crescent rolls and lay this on top of the cream cheese mixture, again, pinching closed any open seams.

Pour your melted butter on top of the crescent roll. In a bowl mix the remaining sugar and tablespoon of cinnamon together and sprinkle that evenly on top of butter. 

Bake for 30 minutes until top is golden brown and let cool for approximately 20 minutes and then put in refrigerator to completely   chill before cutting into squares.

Sugar Cookie Bars with Buttercream frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 then line a jelly roll pan (15x10x1) with aluminum foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.

Cream butter, cream cheese and sugar together, then add in egg and vanilla and mix until incorporated.

With mixer on low, add in your dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and baking soda and mix until just combined.

Press dough evenly into your prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes until edges begin to golden. Cool completely before frosting.

Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups room temp butter (3 sticks)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 8 cups sifted powdered sugar (2 lb)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla

 Cream butter and shortening together until smooth, then slowly add sugar and mix for 1 minute on high. Add milk and vanilla and mix for 2 minutes, then add food coloring and mix for another minute or until blended.

Queso

  • 1 block (32 Oz. Block) Velveeta Cheese
  • 1 package (8 Oz. Package) Cream Cheese
  • 1 can (10 Oz. Can) Rotel
  • 1 can (10.75 Oz. Can) Cream Of Mushroom Soup
  • 1 lb ground sausage

Brown ground sausage  in a pan over medium heat and set aside. Slice the Velveeta and cream cheese into cubes and place into a crock pot. Pour in the Rotel and the cream of mushroom soup and stir ingredients together. Place the crock pot on low setting for an 30, then add the sausage. Continue occasionally stirring until all melted.

Have a wonderful rest of 2011- make it count!

“George Bailey, I’ll love you ’til the day I die.”

I enjoy a good movie in almost any genre, but I LOVE Christmas movies. Here are my personal top five:

5)Miracle on 34th Street (The version from 1994). This was probably my favorite one as a child. Well… besides “Treasures of the Snow” that is…but I figure no one else knew that one, so I went with one more known.

4)The Grinch Who Stole Christmas . Who (pun…sorry. Had to) doesn’t like Jim Carrey in green and pre-goth and Gossip Girl, Taylor Momson? Plus it’s directed by the King of the Gingers.

3)Elf. If Will Ferrell can’t make you laugh, who can?

2)White Christmas. It’s my second favorite, but I love it almost as much as the first.  With the talent of Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, you know it’s a good one. One reason it is close to my heart is because my sister and I, as well as our  sister friends, Laura and Sarah, performed the Sister Song in our elementary school talent show.

1)It’s a Wonderful Life. My favorite, favorite, favorite Christmas movie. It has so many good messages and is the ultimate classic, not to mention, the title of this post is a quote from this film. If you haven’t seen it, stop reading this post and watch it!

Of course, I couldn’t leave you without something tasty. These might kill you, they’re so good. Death by chocolate, for sure.

Cinnamon Chocolate Crackles.

1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (divided as 1 cup and a half cup to be used at different times)

3 large egg whites at room temperature

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (1 cup for the cookies, half a cup to roll them in)

1/2 cup cocoa powder

-1 TBS cornstarch

-1/4 tsp salt

– 2  1/2 tsp cinnamon extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Melt 1 cup chocolate chips in glass bowl in microwave, stirring twice, about 2 minutes. Cool slightly.
Using a mixer, beat whites in large bowl to soft peaks. Gradually beat in 1 cup sugar. Continue beating until mixture resembles soft marshmallow creme.

Whisk 1 cup sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt in medium bowl to blend. On low speed, beat dry ingredients into meringue.

Stir in lukewarm chocolate, 1/2 cup chocolate chips, and cinnamon extract. It is normal for it to be stiff.
Place 1/2 cup sugar in bowl. Roll 1 rounded tablespoon dough into ball; roll in sugar, coating thickly.  Repeat with remaining dough, and space 2 inches apart.
Bake for 10 minutes; tops should be cracked. Let cool for 10 minutes.
And remember… “every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.”

Recollections of Christmas as a 90’s Girl.

IT”S TEN DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS.

And we all know that the best way to spread Christmas Cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.

Well, that’s according to Buddy the Elf, but one of my favorite ways to celebrate Christmas (and there’s a lot) is buying gifts for people.

I remember as a child, saying I didn’t want to grow up because “old people” got boring things for Christmas like clothes and shoes. I mean why would you want a sweater, when you could get a princess costume instead?

Funny.

That’s all I really ask for now.

Not to mention, that’s what my career path revolves around…

I was thinking the other day about what crazy things the manufacturers, er I mean, Santa’s Elves, come out with for children around Christmas. Of course I had Barbies, Cabbage Patch Kids, Polly Pocket, and my Easy Bake Oven- but those are normal. Here are some of the gifts I remember getting that revolved around rather weird fads…

Doodle Bears. You drew on it and then put it in the washing machine and the marker would come off…Watch this commercial if you don’t remember them. It’ll be sure to spark your memory.

Betty Spaghetty. Besides teaching little girls the wrong way to spell Spaghetti, they reminded girls to remain “put together.”  Think I’m joking? Watch This commercial for a laugh…

Whatsherface doll. This commercial shows you how to draw the faces on; unfortunately, I never could get them just quite right., and I don’t believe it was due to a lack of artistic ability…

Bopit. Even Bopit Extreme… I loved this game and would play it  all the time. I was basically the Bopit Master. But where do you get the idea to bop, twist, or even pull something as a game?!

Giga Pets. I had this exact one…Why they were so cool, I’ll never know. It might have been the hot shorts in this commercial…

Furby. I don’t know what crazy person invented this, but it was so weird, it caught on. I remember having to take the batteries out of mine because it would spookily turn on. Ridiculous. How did I fall for this?

Some other random toys I remember having in my house via my sister were Diva Starz, Sky Dancers, and a Robotic Dog.

While it is fun to purchase gifts and give them, the true meaning and celebration of Christmas is often forgotten. It definitely has to do with the mindset of the world.   Here is a good article by a Tri Delta; it reminds us to not focus too much on material things, which is rather hard to do while living in a material world.

As a girl who has a healthy obsession for clothing and studies fabrics and the fashion world almost everyday,  it is even harder to clear this mindset. While I love a good purchase, I have to constantly stand back and remind myself that it’s not about the shoes, the cardigan, or the classic leather bag in the store window. Christmas is about loving people, spending time with family, and reminding ourselves of the ultimate gift that we were given- the birth of Jesus.