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Mimosa Bar

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‘Tis the season of brunches, showers, and gatherings. As we all emerge from our winter hibernation, we seek time with friends and family. We also are juggling entertaining opportunities to celebrate holidays, sacraments, showers, and time with friends and family. One way to make these get togethers feel a bit more fancy is with a mimosa bar!

This is an easy entertaining trick that is a real crowd pleaser.

What you need:

  • Glass carafe- one for each type of juice or nectar (I got mine from Wal-Mart for a few dollars)
  • Wine glasses (many places sell the stemless variety for $1)
  • Champagne, prosecco, or any other variety of sparking wine.
  • Nectar- I prefer mango & pear
  • Juice- Orange, pineapple, & pomegranate are good choices
  • Fresh fruit- I chose raspberries & star fruit, but you can add any variety.

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How it works:

  • Set up the mimosa station where guests can easily access it.
  • Pour nectar and juice into the carafe
  • Slice fruit and place in pretty bowls
  • Arrange glasses
  • Open chilled Champagne bottles
  • Encourage guests to mix and match flavors.
  • Pour a few ounces of champagne into the glass, then add nectar and/or juice, and garnish with fruit.

Enjoy!

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What Leftovers? Mashed Potato & Cheddar Soup with Stuffing Croutons

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‘Tis the season for leftovers, because this mama is pretty cooked out. Really, I’ve spent weeks cooking, cleaning, shopping, serving, etc… I just want to plop on the couch and ignore the impending doom that is the end of my long weekend.

Usually, I don’t get into the leftover craze. I either try to plan my meals well enough to prevent a huge surplus of food, or I divvy them up among my guests so that everyone has a second taste of the meal, but this year, I have a lot of stuffing and mashed potatoes. I chose to freeze some, but I was also in the mood for some soup. Potato soup is the perfect dish to compliment a cold beer and a good football game! This soup is so creamy and full of flavor, you will find it hard to believe that it was simple mashed potatoes in a previous life.

Mashed Potato & Cheddar Soup with Stuffing Croutons

Ingredients:

2 cups of mashed potatoes (I used roasted garlic mashed potatoes)

1 1/2  cups of chicken broth

1/2 cup of light cream

4 oz. of extra sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup of leftover Simple Sausage Stuffing

2 scallions, sliced thin

Preparation:

The Croutons—Spread 1 cup of stuffing onto a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes, until the bread is toasted and crispy on the outside.

The Soup—Meanwhile, on the stove top, pour cream and broth into a large stockpot and slowly bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add mashed potatoes, 1 cup at a time, whisking briskly. Once all of the mashed potatoes have been blended into the soup, simmer until it’s hot.  Chop cheese into small chunks, or shred it, then add to the soup and stir until it is melted and incorporated. Once the cheese is melted, and the soup is hot, it is ready to be served.

Presentation—Spoon the soup into individual bowls, then top with the toasted stuffing and scallions. Serve immediately. This soup pairs well with a fall beer.

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Extra Creamy Pumpkin Dip with Chai Whipped Cream

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This recipe is an old favorite with a new twist. I have made this simple pumpkin dip for many fall occasions, but this is the first year I have topped it with the chai whipped cream. This marriage of flavors makes a simple recipe into something sophisticated that is sure to catch the attention of your fellow party goers.

Extra Creamy Pumpkin Dip with Chai Whipped Cream

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Preparation:
I recommend making the whipped cream first. While you can used a pre-made whipped topping, it’s really not the same as homemade.

Chai Whipped Cream

1 pint of heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup of confectioner’s sugar
3 tbsp. of powdered chai drink mix ( I prefer Tastefully Simple)

1. Place an empty metal mixing bowl in the freezer for about 5 minutes.
2. Remove the chilled bowl and add the cream.
3. Using an electric mixer, whisk on high-speed until it starts to stiffen.
4. Add sugar & chai slowly until fully blended.
5. Set aside in a clean bowl.
6. ** Be sure not to over-whip it so that it is stiff and firm. It should be soft & fluffy.

Extra Creamy Pumpkin Dip

2 blocks of cream cheese, softened
1 can (14.5 oz) of pumpkin puree
2 cups of confectioner’s sugar
2 tsp of ground cinnamon
1 tsp of ground ginger

1. Place the softened cream cheese into the same bowl that you just used to make the whipped cream. (I don’t even wash it.)
2. Using the whisk, whip the cream cheese on medium until it is fluffy and free from any lumps.
3. Spoon in the pumpkin puree, 1 dollop at a time, until it is completely incorporated.
4. Add the sugar and spices until creamy & smooth. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl!

The Final Presentation

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Pour the pumpkin dip into a shallow dish. Then gently spread the whipped cream on top. Garnish with a few sprinkles of cinnamon. Keep refrigerated until you are ready to serve it.
I have served this dip with apple or pear slices, ginger snaps, Nilla Wafers, or graham crackers, but be creative and see what else you can pair with this simple favorite.

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Note: The chai whipped cream is great on pumpkin bread or gingerbread. It is also heavenly on top of pecan pie 🙂

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Apple Cider Doughnut Bread Pudding With a Salted Caramel Sauce: Dethroning My Old Favorite Breakfast Monarch

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I did not discover bread pudding until about nine or ten years ago, most likely because the younger me would have heard the name and thought it sounded disgusting (I am a closet picky eater). One morning I was watching Good Morning America, and a woman had won a recipe contest sponsored by the show, I knew at that instant that I had to make it, and since then, it has become a fixture on holiday mornings in my house. It was our favorite!

Until today.

Last week, I chaperoned my daughter’s kindergarten field trip to our local orchard, Highland Orchards. They have the BEST apple cider doughnuts EVER! As I sat on the hayride with my friend Tara, the idea struck me. Why not make bread pudding with the doughnuts? I had all intentions of getting to it that weekend, but time slipped away and I never made it back to grab some doughnuts.

Let’s fast forward to this weekend. My sister just happened to mention that they were taking their kids to the orchard on Saturday. I asked her if she could please pick up a dozen doughnuts for me. Who knew this would be the text that would change my family traditions!

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Late last night, as I headed to bed, I assembled the ingredients, covered them in foil, and put them in the fridge, hoping to God that I didn’t just ruin a dozen fabulous rings of cinnamon awesomeness. It was the first thing I thought about this morning when I woke up. I popped downstairs and got it into the oven. It was bubbly, and golden, and the house smelled amazing. But then I had a momentary panic attack.

What should I top it with?

I looked up recipes for a vanilla sauce, but the ingredients gave me heart failure just imagining the calorie count. Then I thought of a salted caramel sauce. As I scoured the internet, my hopes started to sink. I was out of heavy cream, and I didn’t have any condensed milk, but then, as if a gift from above, I stumbled upon a recipe by Ree Drummond on Food Network. I was in business. I grabbed a pot from the cabinet and in about eight minutes, I had the best caramel sauce to top my absolutely beautiful casserole.

The result was out of this world. My husband, who can be my biggest critic, was enamored. He asked me what I planned to call it. I told him I wasn’t sure, to which he replied “Ridiculousness”. According to him, it’s the perfect name because it’s so ridiculously good!

So there you have it. My old favorite bread pudding has been dethroned as the reigning monarch of breakfast casseroles. This new outsider has come in, with overnight success, and has pushed out the queen of my recipe box.

 

Apple Cider Doughnut Bread Pudding

Ingredients:

1 dozen of apple cider doughnuts

3 eggs

1 cup of heavy cream

1 cup of half & half

¼ cup of cinnamon sugar (prepared)

 

Preparation:

The night before (or at least an hour before you bake):

Grease a medium sized casserole dish.
Break up doughnuts into large pieces and place in the dish.
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Whisk together the eggs, cream, and half & half.

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Pour over the doughnuts, the pat them down with a large spoon making sure each piece gets dunked.

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Cover with foil and leave in the refrigerator to soak.

The next morning (or hour depending how on the ball you are):

Remove the foil and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on top of the bread pudding.
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Set oven to 350˚, and place the dish into the cold oven.
Bake for about 35 minutes covered, then remove the foil and bake for about 10 minutes longer. (You may need to adjust these times based on the depth of the dish)
At this point the top should be browned and bubbly at the edges. The cinnamon sugar should have created a crispy crust on top.

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Remove from the oven and set aside for about 10 minutes.

The Sauce:

Recipe Courtesy of the Food Network

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ree-drummond/easy-caramel-sauce-recipe/index.html

Ingredients:
1 cup of light brown sugar
1/2 cup half & half
4 tablespoons of salted butter
A pinch of course salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Preparation:

Combine the brown sugar, half & half, butter and salt in a saucepan over medium heat.
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Stir while cooking for about 5 to 7 minutes, allowing it to thicken.

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Add the vanilla and cook another minute stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and spoon it over each serving of bread pudding, allowing it to drizzle down the sides.

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Be prepared. This will dethrone your family favorites too!

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Trix Crispies

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I cannot take credit for this idea, but I just had to share!! I popped onto Pinterest to find a quick and easy dessert for a picnic we were attending, when I stumbled onto this awesome recipe for “Trix Crispies”! They were so easy, very tasty, and adorable. I highly suggest you pop over to this blog and try them.

http://www.cravingsofalunatic.com/2012/04/trix-krispies.html

Check out these pictures of mine:

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So my husband is thinking I am not so fabulous this week. I have hit the internet to holiday shop because, frankly, I hate shopping in real life. The problem lies in the fact that I have also purchased almost one of everything for me too!! OOPS!

Well, there is one purchase for which I will not shed any buyer’s remorse. It is a handmade dipping oil bowl from Neal Pottery. It is the coolest thing ever!

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This all started at dinner with friends. My friend, Susan, was telling me about a dipping oil bowl that she had received as a gift a few years ago. She shared how much she loved it, but regretfully has never found where to buy another one. Thanks to the wonders of Google…I was able to find on ETSY! Right there, at the table in the restaurant, I ordered a few as gifts (and maybe one for myself, because I AM the Fabulous Food Fairy!)

Well, I was impressed from the moment I opened the box. Not only are the bowls beautiful, but sweetly tucked inside was a personal thank you note. How’s that for customer service? My own reaction to this handmade creation fills me with excitement to give this gift!

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The box has been sitting in my dining room for a week now, with all the other unwrapped holiday loot, but curiosity got the best of me, and I had to give it a go!

First, the bowl is beautiful! Second, it came with a recipe! Here is the process. I dare you to read on and not jump over to ETSY and buy one!

According the recipe, I grated a fresh clove of garlic on the raised ridges on the bottom of the bowl.

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It smells so freakin’ good!

Next, I mixed the suggested herbs and spices, in a separate bowl. It is a great feature that they have you make the herb mixture in bulk. I think I will make some for each bowl I plan to gift. It is also great because it is all ready to go, should a quick impromptu party erupt at your house, which is common in my neighborhood.

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Next, you sprinkle some of the herb mixture into the bowl, over the freshly grated garlic.

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Finally, pour some olive oil into the bowl, coating the seasoning goodness!

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Then dip away with fresh crusty bread!

No need for an enchanted wand, the bowl does all the magic.

So, Neal Pottery sent me a thank you note, but I truly believe they are the ones who need to be thanked. This is one of the greatest gifts I have purchased this season…even if it was a gift for myself 🙂

To purchase your own, click here:

Neal Pottery Dipping Oil Bowl

Enjoy!

Disclaimer– I purchased this product on my own, and this post is an expression of my own opinion.