Thursday, November 18, 2010

Two of My Favorite Holiday Dishes!

I think I've officially made it official...I am in love with November. I imagine in great part my thoughts of November are laced with happy memories and occasions: My dad's birthday, my parent's anniversary, my husband and son's birthday, and of course, Thanksgiving. I love the simplicity of the holiday---no expected gifts to give, no costumes to conjure up, no massive amounts of candy to buy. Just a beautiful meal intertwined with notions of gratitude and thanks, shared with the ones we love the most. I truly love it.

We recently shared a pre-Thanksgiving dinner with a dear family in our neighborhood who is moving the day before the holiday and will likely be spending Thanksgiving Day traveling. We had all the traditional yummy foods, and I shared two of our family's favorite holiday dishes: My sister's "Raspberry Pretzel Salad" and my dear friend Lara's "Sweet Potato Crescent Rolls". They are both fabulous recipes and I would love to share them with all of you. I promise you won't be disappointed!

Raspberry Pretzel Salad

2 c. smashed but chunky pretzels
3 T. sugar
1/2 c. melted butter

8 oz. cream cheese
1 c. sugar
1 small can (or half of a large one) crushed pineapple
8 oz. Cool Whip Topping

2 small or one large package raspberry Jello
2 c. boiling water
1 package frozen raspberries

1. Mix pretzels, 3 T. sugar and melted butter. Bake in a 9 x 13 oblong casserole dish for 5 minutes at 400 degrees.
2. Blend together cream cheese, 1 c. sugar, pineapple, and Cool Whip. Pour mixture over cooled pretzels and refrigerate.
3. Mix Jello with 2 c. boiling water until dissolved and add frozen raspberries. Mix until syrupy.
4. Refrigerate Jello mixture until it is no longer runny, then pour on top of cream cheese mixture and chill until completely set up.
5. Slice into squares and serve. Yummy!!!

Sweet Potato Crescent Rolls (this recipe is actually doubled for feeding a larger crowd. You can half it for a smaller amount of rolls if desired.)

2 c. hot water
1 c. sugar
4 pkgs. active dry yeast (equivalent to 9 teaspoons or approx. 3 tablespoons)

1 29 oz. can Cut Sweet Potatoes, drained and mashed
1 c. butter
2 eggs

3 tsp. salt
9 1/2-10 cups flour

1/2 c. melted butter

1. In a small bowl, dissolve sugar in hot water. When water has cooled to a warm temperature, add yeast and allow to foam up a bit.
2. While yeast mixture is sitting, beat together the potatoes, butter, and egg in a mixer.
3. Add the yeast mixture when ready, followed by the salt.
4. Add the flour a few cups at a time to form a stiff dough.
5. Knead until smooth.
6. Place dough in a greased bowl and let rise about an hour until doubled. Punch down and divide into six sections.
7. Roll each section into a circle and slice into several wedges.

8. Brush with butter and roll into a crescent shape starting at the wide end.

9. Place on greased baking sheet and let rise.
10. Bake at 375 degrees for 13-15 minutes, or until golden brown, depending on your oven.

I hope you enjoy planning your meal for the upcoming holiday!! What are your favorite holiday dishes?? I'd love to hear!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Blanket Stitch Tutorial

The Blanket Stitch is an embroidery stitch that provides a nice edging for blankets, table runners, bibs, burpies, table cloths, appliqued items, and anything else that needs a finished border. It can be embroidered with large stitches, or petite ones, depending on the area that you are edging, making it very versatile for a number of projects.

To Blanket Stitch around the edges of an appliqued section of fabric, simply do the following:

1. Bring the threaded needle up from underneath the fabric (be sure the floss is knotted) to the immediate left of the appliqu├ęd fabric at point A. Pull taut, and hold floss down with your left thumb.

2. With the needle, go back down at point B, and come up again at point C, making sure the needle passes over the top of the floss you are holding with your thumb. Pull taut once again. Repeat.

To Blanket Stitch around the edges of a runner or table cloth, follow the same basic instructions above, but when coming up for the first time, simply bring your needle up at the edge of the fabric (point A). Go back down at point B, then come up from under the fabric at the edge but without catching the fabric in the needle (point C). Again, make sure your needle passes over the top of the extended floss and pull taut. Repeat.

I have a table runner that I stitched and sewed 9 years ago, designed by an incredible embroidery designer, Sandra Workman of Pine Mountain Designs. She is also the owner of Pine Needles of Gardner Village in Utah. She is extremely creative and has a myriad of darling designs that I see everywhere. Anyway...the instructions call for a blanket stitch around the edges of the runner to finish it off (at least as I remember it way back then). Well, for 9 years, I've just displayed this runner without the blanket stitch edging because I've simply not taken the time to finish it, but it has nagged at me all these years.

As I pulled out the runner just the other day to display in my entry way, I decided that this was the year to finish it off. I was tired of being reminded yearly of tasks left unfinished!

My two gals were scheduled for back-to-back haircuts yesterday, and since I can't sit still and be empty-handed for that long anyway, I figured I would make use of the hour I would be waiting there. I grabbed the runner, some floss, a needle, scissors, and away we went!

I finished most of the edging as we all chatted through the haircuts, and I finished the rest of it during my daughter's dance class. What a great feeling to accomplish something in those minutes that could have been wasted by just sitting.

Finally! A finished project just for myself--nothing to sell or give away, and after 9 years, it's finished at last! (Eleventh hour, anyone?)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Merry Un-Halloween...

Yes, I breathe a sigh of relief every time November rolls around. The Halloween festivities, parties, costumes, and trick-or-treating are all great fun, yet most of the time stressful too. I must say, I am one happy chick when it is all over. Does that make me a Halloween Scrooge? Hmmm...Perhaps a tiny one. With that said, I leave you some images of our Halloween festivities and gleefully say farewell to Halloween, and give a hearty welcome to November! A Merry Un-Halloween to you!!

Shortly after I posted my last posting about creating the Dorothy costume, my sweet neighbor and friend Dana called to let me know she had a Dorothy dress my little gal could use. (Hooray!!) I hadn't gotten too far on the dress I had started making, so I decided to revamp it a little and make it into an actual dress, rather than a costume to give her for Christmas. (Hopefully, I won't put that off until the eleventh hour!)

And my other little gal (yes she's a SHE) dug through our box of wigs and found my hubby's old football jersey for a completely cost-free costume as well. Gotta love that! (And don't you just love that mullet? It's the best.) I was a bit melancholy however, as my boys were too old and of course too cool for dressing up this year---sad for me to realize that those days of Woody/Puppy/Nerd/Hobo/Goldilocks (yes, your read it right) costumes are now simply memories...

On the Saturday before Halloween, our church had a "Trunk or Treat"---a unique tradition of parking our cars in a parking lot and trick-or-treating at each other's car trunks...(crazy, I know). Anyhoo, my little gal had gotten her fill of candy and as it was cold and rainy that night, she opted to stay home and hand out candy to the trick-or-treaters. She sat perched here on this chair by the door, waiting for the door bell to ring. Each time she'd shut the door after handing out candy, she'd exclaim, "Yes!! This is sooooo much fun!!" Can't argue with that kind of glee.

And our Crazy Halloween Dinner turned out to be great fun once again. Here you can see my son eating his "Wrapped Raven Remains" (chicken enchiladas) and "Goopy Grave Markers" (brownies, ice cream, and topping) with his "Vampire Vengeance" (knife). Ah, good times.

Merry Un-Halloween!

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