Snowmen Cookies by Callye of Sweet Sugarbelle

When I first saw Callye’s incredible blog, The Adventures of Sweet Sugarbelle, I was in awe. My daughter, Leigh, and I couldnt decide which cookie to make first. Every time she posts, it’s the first thing I post on Pinterest. I look forward to her incredible inspirations weekly, and I truly believe she is one of the sweetest, most humble and most talented cookie decorators out there. I’m so honored to know her, and I’m so excited that she was willing to show a new creation for Snowmen Cookies to my readers at Ingredients, Inc. She will be on the Martha Stewart show on December 12th on the Hallmark Channel so check her out. Take it away Callye, and thank you so much!

Hi, I’m Callye, and I love to decorate cookies. I am here today to show you how to make snowmen Cookies with an easy to find Christmas ornament cutter. These cookies are simple enough for even a beginner.

To make these cookies you will need:

If you need help with coloring and preparing icing, click HERE.

If you need help with outlining and flooding cookies, click HERE.

Begin by outlining and filling the snowman’s face.

Then, quickly use tweezers to make a face with candy pearls.  Work one cookie at a time so that the  beads will stick in the wet icing.  Let the faces dry for about thirty minutes.  Next outline and fill the blue portion of the hat.

At this point, let the cookie dry for four to five hours.  When the base is dry, use a #13 tip to add accents to the hat and orange twenty-second icing for a nose.

Let the cookies dry completely, preferably overnight.

Show up to your next Christmas party with a plate of these.  You will be amazed at the reaction you get.  It’s one of the most rewarding feelings.

This is the perfect time of year to try a little cookie decorating. If you’d like to know more, please come visit my blog, The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle, where I write about my cookie decorating fun. See you soon!


Peppermint Dark Hot Chocolate Mix

Okay…my kids are obsessed with Peppermint Hot Chocolate. The past few weeks we have been visiting Starbucks more than often to savor their craving. Since I have been working on my Christmas list, I decided to create my own homemade version of Peppermint Dark Hot Chocolate Mix that will make the perfect holiday food gift. I used dark chocolate instead of milk or semisweet chocolate, but feel free to use your favorite. It has been said to lower blood pressure, work as a powerful antioxidant and even help release endorphins to boost your mood. It’s super easy and inexpensive to make, and everyone loves it.

Date-Pecan Bread with Greek Yogurt

This Date-Pecan Bread with Greek yogurt is my newest favorite healthy, quick bread recipe. I used whole wheat and all-purpose flour, flaxseed and nonfat Greek yogurt to create a flavorful, moist bread. My kids were skeptical at first, but shortly after they tried it, they were gladly helping themselves to seconds. Perfect for breakfast, dessert, an afternoon snack or holiday gift, this recipe is a cinch to prepare (no mixer needed). I bought my dates at Costco, but you can find them at any local grocery store. Dates are filled with so may health benefits. They’re full of fiber, Vitamin B, Vitamin, A, Vitamin C, Iron and potassium. They are an excellence source of energy and work wonders for the digestive system.

Acai Pomegranate Smoothie and Blendtec Blender Giveaway

I hope everyone has had a great holiday weekend. Did you go shopping? I am so excited about sharing my recipe for Acai Pomegranate Smoothie (my kid’s favorite). It tastes great, and it’s full of vitamins and antioxidants. Now, I can’t wait to announce my Blendtec Blender giveaway: One lucky winner will receive the Total Blender Combo including the Fourside and Wildside Jar, a $474 value. This blender is my newest all-time favorite all-in-one kitchen appliance. Not only does it make the best smoothies, but I have used it to prepare dips, fondues, ice cream, salad dressings, sauces, soups, milkshakes and even bread dough.

My kids have been making smoothies and milkshakes daily, and I feel great letting them try different fruits and yogurts to create new concoctions. Whether you’re in college, single or have a family, using a Blendtec is a great way to stay healthy this time of year. The winner will be able to choose a white, red or black model, and this is one of the best holiday presents ever.

To enter this giveaway, follow the steps below. Winner will be chosen by random.org on Thursday, December 1st, at 9 a.m EST.

1. Follow Alison Lewis on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know

2. Like Ingredients, Inc. on Facebook and leave a comment letting me know

3. Follow Alison Lewis on Pinterest  and leave a comment letting me know

 4. Follow Blendtec on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know

5. Like Blendtec on Facebook and leave a comment letting me know know

6. Join the Blendtec Mailing list and leave a comment letting me know

7. Join the Ingredients, Inc. email list and leave a comment letting me know

8. Tweet about this giveaway by mentioning the following or something similar:  check out @alisonlewis @Blendtec giveaway just in time for the holidays

How to Maintain Your Weight During the Holidays

I was so excited last week to be asked to be on a very popular radio station in Birmingham, WMJJ Magic 96.5, and do a show on “Tips for Eating healthy during the holidays”. Before I went on the air, I thought about what I do personally, and I asked some of my friends on Facebook and Twitter for their input. The thing to remember is to eat everything in moderation. Also, make good food choices (such as my favorite Winter Radicchio Salad with Pomegranates). The radio show was so popular that I will be doing a monthly radio show with them, and I am so excited about that!

Here’s my list of Top 10 Healthy Holiday Eating Tips:

1. Exercise during the holidays.

2. Before you leave your house, eat a small snack and eat small meals throughout the day so you’re not binging at night

3. Eat breakfast on Thanksgiving and Xmas morning

4. Eat only what you love at the holiday table

5. Don’t rush to eat. Socialize as much as you can, but do it away from the holiday table.

6. If you’re drinking alchohol, drink a nonalcoholic version first

7. Drink a lot of water that day so it makes you feel full

8. Eat veggies everywhere you can, and fill your plate up with a lot of them

9. If there are 2 plate sizes, put your meal on a salad or dessert plate

10. When you’re done eating, wait and don’t go back for more.

In Search of the Perfect Pumpkin Pie Recipe

This weekend I have been in search of a great Pumpkin Pie recipe to make for Thanksgiving. You see, I’m getting off easy this year (yea!). I’ve hosted Thanksgiving at my house the past several years, but my sister and I swapped holidays this year (her request). I still have to make several things to bring to our family event of over 20 people. Since she assigned me the Pumpkin Pie, I have been searching for something new and different. The recipe (above) is a Pecan Streusel Topping from my friend Marge at A Sweet and Savory Sweet Life. It looks so fabulous, and it was one of the first ones I came across. Here are some others, including a “lightened up recipe from Cooking Light as well as vegan version. Enjoy!

Cheesecake Pumpkin Pecan Pie by Parsley Sage, Desserts and Line Drives

Pumpkin Pie Pops from Munchkin Munchies

 Pumpkin Pie Bites from Bakerella

 Vegan Pumpkin Pie from Vegetarian Times

Spiced Pumpkin Chiffon Pie from Cooking Light

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Healthy Side Dish: Lemon Kale with Walnuts

If you’re looking for a healthy side dish to add to your weeknight table or Thanksgiving or Christmas menus, I definitely have one for you. Lemon-Walnut Kale only takes 15 minutes to prepare, and it’s full of fresh vitamins, protein and so many health benefits. Kale is super healthy with more iron than beef, and it’s loaded with calcium, fiber, omega-3 acids and more. It’s said to have detoxifying properties, cancer and heart disease fighting properties and antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Just cook it like you would spinach, and top it with your favorite ingredients. It’s going on my holiday table menu this year for sure.

Breakfast Almond and Raspberry Quinoa

I’m a huge fan of quinoa, and one of my favorite ways to enjoy it, is for breakfast. Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah) is one of the “it” or “super” grains right now, and it’s one of the best plant sources of protein with more high quality protein than any other grain. It’s loaded with protein, fiber and, best of all, is gluten-free. It is light, tasty and easy to digest, with a slightly nutty flavor. This recipe for Breakfast Almond and Raspberry Quinoa is fabulous. I had all 3 of my kids try it too, and they loved it. I love the combination of using almond milk, almonds and raspberries, but feel free to use any of your favorite fruits and toppings. Enjoy!

Virginia Willis New Cookbook Giveaway & Winter Greens and Butternut Squash Gratin Recipe

I was fortunate to meet Virginia Wills several years ago, and I had the pleasure and honor to co-speak with her last year at Food Blog South. Last fall, I attended an event in Atlanta where she previewed some of her recipes for her new book, “From Basic to Brilliant”. I couldn’t wait for it to be released. Virginia is a graduate of  L’Academie de Cuisine and Ecole de Cuisine LaVarenne and, previously, was the Kitchen Director for Martha Stewart Living. Virginia expands on her incredible style in this 150 recipe cookbook where she offers incredible preparation and presentation techniques (her writing is amazing too). This recipe for Winter Greens and Butternut Squash Gratin is just one of the many stellar recipes in this book. I served it to company this weekend on a cold evening, and I received rave reviews. Her amazingly beautiful photos were taken by Helene Dujardin of Tartlette. “From Basic to Brilliant” can be found at Amazon or any of your favorite online stores as well as bookstores nationwide.

For a chance to win a copy, leave me a comment telling me why you want a copy of this book. Winner will be drawn on Thursday, November 10th and must be a U.S resident. For more chances, leave as many comments as you like telling me that you did the following:

1. Follow Alison Lewis on Twitter

2. Like Ingredients, Inc on Facebook

3. Follow Virginia Willis on Twitter

4. Like Virginia Willis on Facebook

 

“Reprinted with permission from Basic to Brilliant, Y’all: 150 Refined Southern Recipes and Ways to Dress Them Up for Company by Virginia Willis, copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.”

Photo credit: Helene Dujardin © 2011

How to Store & Freeze Basil & Gluten-Free Recipes

Basil is a wonderful herb to use year-round, but its growth season is during the summer months. Here are some tips on how to store it for later use. Storing basil in the refrigerator isn’t a long-term solution, but it works great for short term. Just place it in a glass of water and change the water daily. Freezing is a popular method of storing basil. Place 1 tablespoon basil in an ice cube with water and freeze. When you’re ready to use it, just take out an ice cube, and use it in your recipe. Another way is to place the leaves in a food processor with a little oil, and then place it in an airtight container. See my friend, Kalyn, from Kalyn’s Kitchen for more great information on this tutorial. You can freeze basil for up to 6 months if you use a properly sealed container. Here are a few of my favorite gluten-free recipes using basil such as Quinoa with Lemon and Fresh Herbs

Kaniwa with Lemon, Basil and Tomatoes

Game Day Basil Bloody Marys