Advent Tablescape

During the first week of Advent, our church hosts Advent by Candlelight for the women of our parish.  The event is beautiful, filled with a candlelit procession, speaker, music and fellowship.  Many women host tables of 8.  This was my 5th year hosting a table for our MOMS group.  I completely enjoy creating a beautiful candlelit tablescape that will be perfect for the Advent season.  This year, I went with a elegant and natural woodland setting.

Advent By Candlelight Tablescape

On pale green table linens, I cut sprigs of pine from my yard and elevated white votive candles on paper birch logs.  A few shiny silver ball ornaments were scattered on top to add reflection when candlelit.  Two cylinder vases were filled with fresh greens and a small statue of the Blessed Mother and Child.  Since we represent the Ministry of Mothers Sharing group, we have always tied Mary into our table.

Advent By Candlelight Tablescape2

Every table is unique and beautiful and the gathering space at our church is the perfect setting.

Advent By Candlelight Tablescape3

Especially at night when candlelit.

Advent By Candlelight Tablescape4

Another beautiful event to prepare for Christmas!  Once the event is complete, I transfer the centerpiece to my dining table at home.  It is now ready for a candlelight Christmas Eve dinner with my family.

Sweet Stackers – A Cookier’s Product Review

I was totally thrilled and honored to have Kim the Cookier, from The Cookie Puzzle, write a review on how she uses Sweet Stackers for her cookie decorating.   After learning about Sweet Stackers, Kim has changed the way she stores her cookies while decorating.  She used to store her cookies in large under-your-bed bins that were not air-tight to smaller, deeper food storage containers using Sweet Stackers.  Sweet Stackers layer your cookies on stackable trays which insert into your containers.  She was able to get 37 thickly rolled cutout cookies in one container.  The trays can be easily removed during the decorating process – as you can see from icing to stenciling and more!

Stop by The Cookie Puzzle to read – Sweet Stackers a Cookier’s Dream

The Cookie Puzzle Product Review The Cookie Puzzle coupon

Kim also hosts a weekly party called Party in Your PJs.  It’s a Tuesday night link party, where your can link your blog to collaborate with other bloggers or simply just stop by to get some great crafty & foodie ideas!  So stop by The Cookie Puzzle to say “hi” and check it out!

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving & a Giveaway!

Hoping that you have a thankful day filled with family, friends & feast!

thanksgiving

It’s time to start your holiday baking & Sweet Stackers is hosting a Facebook giveaway.

Sweet Stackers convert your containers to multi-level, layer your baked goods neatly and make it easier to store and transport to a party!

Stop by https://www.facebook.com/SweetStackers – winner will be picked at 10pm CST on Friday, 11/18/14.

Plus find out about current promotions for the big shopping weekend!

Sweet Stackers 7.75x11

Pumpkin Pie Filled Kolacky

This traditional Czech/Polish pastry has acquired an American twist!  Kolacky (or Kolaches) are cookies traditionally filled with a variety of fruit, poppy-seed or cheese fillings.  My family serves them at most holiday dinners and they are the perfect bite-sized treat after any feast.  This time, I made them with a homemade pumpkin pie filling.

The baking season has really kicked in this week since I was invited to attend the Chicago Food Swap this weekend.  The Chicago Food Swap is an organization that meets monthly to swap homemade and homegrown food in the Chicago area.  No money changes hands and it is free to participate, plus it is a great way to form friendships and trade inspiration.  I am baking a few varieties of goodies in preparation for this event.  My baked goods will be stored and transported using Sweet Stackers.  Special for the November swap, I will get to showcase my Stackable Food Storage System and even raffle Sweet Stackers as a door prize.

These homemade Pumpkin Pie Kolacky are on my swap list and I will probably be making more for Thanksgiving dinner.

Pumpkin Kolacky

Click to get my PartyKitchen Kolacky Recipe

Pumpkin Pie Kolacky Filling

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree

  • 2 tablespoon sugar

  • pinch of salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

  • 1 tablespoon egg, beaten

  • 1 tablespoon milk

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

Place a teaspoon dollop of filling on kolacky dough.  Bake in 400° oven for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Cookie storage container

Sweet Stackers – economical and versatile system to convert your containers to multi-level and maximize food storage.  The Stackable Food Storage System allows you to store and transport layers of baked goods in one container.  Available in 4 trays sizes made to fit major brand food storage containers.  Visit sweetstackers.com to learn more about this product.  Sweet Stackers are available to purchase on Etsy.

Cookie Stackable Food Storage

 

 

 

 

Happy Halloween!

I can feel the holiday season ahead…it’s time to start baking up a storm. But before the season kicks in…I thought I would share our Halloween Pumpkin!

Here’s our Haunted Fairy House Pumpkin! Hope everyone has a Happy & Safe Halloween!

Haunted Fairy House Pumpkin

Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

October is National Cookie Month!  Aside from baking this delicious recipe, we are also celebrating with a Sweet Stackers Facebook GIVEAWAY!  This is the perfect chance to try out a NEW way store and transport layers of baked goods in one container.  Sweet Stackers are designed to fit major brand containers and are versatile, reusable and economical!  Imagine storing your Christmas cookies and holiday desserts neatly.

Check out our video of storing these frosted Pumpkin Cookies using Sweet Stackers…

So visit the Sweet Stackers Facebook page to enter in this easy contest!  A winner will be picked on 10/16/2014.  Now back from the commercial break and onto this perfectly delicious cookie recipe to celebrate the fall season!  Who wouldn’t like the combination of spicy pumpkin and the lightly sweet cream cheese frosting?  It will be hard to only eat one!

SS Frosted Cookie Storage

Pumpkin Cookies

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350°.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars together at a high speed.  Add the egg, vanilla and pumpkin.  Turn the speed of mixing down and gradually add the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and baking powder.  Stir in the pecans.

Using a cookie scoop, drop a tablespoonful of dough 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges are golden brown.

(note: after 10 minutes, I removed from the oven and gently pressed the cookies flat with a flat spatula, otherwise the cookies are puffed like a pillow.  Bake for an additional 2 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.)  Let cool completely.

For the frosting, beat the butter and cream cheese.  Reduce speed to low and gradually add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla.

Frost the cookies and store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

Sweet Stackers Layer Cookies

Sweet Stackers are a great way to store your baked goods in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent them from sticking together!

Apple Harvest Bars

Do you love the chill in the air, the change of color?  All reminders that it is apple harvest time!  This recipe will remind you of apple pie, but in dessert bar form.  Layers of a buttery crust, spiced apples and a lightly sweet topping.  Let the aroma fill your kitchen!

Apple Harvest Bars2

Apple Harvest Bars

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar, divided
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup cold butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 cups peeled and sliced apples (about 2-3 large apples)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375° and grease a 9 x 13″ baking pan.

In a food processor, add flour, 1/3 cup sugar and salt, pulsate once to combine.  Add butter and pulse a few times until the mixture turns to dry crumbs.  Press the crumb mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared baking pan.

In a medium bowl, toss the sliced apples in lemon juice.  Arrange the apples slices in rows on top of the crust.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Sprinkle over the layer of apples.  Bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the coconut, egg, condensed milk, vanilla and pecans in a medium bowl.  Remove the pan from the oven and spoon the coconut mixture evenly over the layer of apples.  Bake for an additional 20 minutes until the coconut is golden brown.

Slightly cool in pan and cut into bars while still warm.

Apple Harvest Bars Sweet Stackers

The aroma of apple pie fills the house!

Apple Harvest Bars Dessert Container

Tip:  Cut dessert bars ahead of time to make an easy-to-serve dessert. Sweet Stackers layer your baked goods in one container so they are ready to serve or transport to a party!  Visit sweetstackers.com to learn how you can convert your containers to multi-level.

 

Lunch Box: Frozen Sandwiches

Attention Moms with school aged kids!

Preparing school lunches turns into a dreaded chore for Moms, especially during the morning rush.  A couple of years ago, one of my Mom friends mentioned that they freeze sandwiches.  Pull a sandwich out of the freezer when packing lunches in the morning and by lunch time the sandwich is perfectly thawed.  At the time I didn’t think much of it, but I also only had one lunch to prepare.  Now that I have two kids in school – I totally get this idea!  Of course I have two kids that have their own preferences – one like cheese, the other doesn’t – one likes mayo, the other prefers mustard.  How can I keep track??!!

Lunch Box

This is a great way to save time preparing your kid’s lunch box!  Now I make it part of our Sunday night routine.  The kids prepare clothes and backpacks and I make sandwiches for the week.   Sandwiches can be stored in plastic storage bags or plastic wrap, but I am trying to make an effort to reduce waste and especially at school.  I use an air-tight food storage container that will fit sandwiches in layers, using a Sweet Stackers tray to separate each kids lunch.  One kid’s sandwiches are layered on the bottom and the other’s layered on top – this way I can keep track when I am packing them.  Since, I am not storing the sandwiches for a long period of time, there are no problems with freezer burn or the bread drying out.  The kids love them and they do not get soggy.  Plus I like that the sandwiches are kept colder longer preventing deli meat or spreads to spoil.

Many Moms have asked, “What type of sandwiches do you make?”.  I do prefer to use whole grain breads, but I noticed that my kids get bored with the same sandwich.  All kids are different, but changing up the “traditional PB&J” can be fun and a good change for them!  This week I am making ham and cheese sandwiches using Hawaiian dinner rolls and peanut butter and Nutella on whole grain Raisin Bread.

A couple of tips:

  • Do not freeze lettuce, tomatoes or other similar toppings on the sandwich.  Pack these items separately on the side.
  • When making PB&J, smear peanut butter on both sides of the bread (at least a thin layer) to prevent the jelly from touching the bread.  Jelly will make the sandwich soggy.
  • Bento style storage containers (with dividers) are fun for the kids to store sides, dips, crackers, fruits & veggies.  (We found some neat ones in the dollar section at Target!)
  • Make your own Uncrustables – there are tools that will seal and cut the crust off.
  • Shaped sandwich cutters (or cookie cutters) are a fun way to remove crust and cut into cute shapes.

 

Do you have any great tips to share?

 

 

Coconut Key Lime Bars

Most of the time, I bake from scratch.  But there are those times when you need a quick dessert.  I always keep a couple of cake box mixes in my pantry and tada…we have super simple dessert bars!  The marshmallow crème makes a tasty and easy topping – a bit of sweet to complement the tart lime flavor.

PartyKitchen Coconut Key Lime Bars

Coconut Key Lime Bars

  • 1 box of Pillsbury Key Lime Cake Mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of butter, melted
  • 2 cups of sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 cup of marshmallow crème *

Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease a 9 x 13″ pan.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs, butter and 1 ½ cups of coconut.  Spread evenly in pan and bake for 19-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean and the edges turn golden brown.  Let cool.

Sprinkle remaining ½ cup of coconut on a cookie sheet.  Bake for 6 minutes, watching carefully until it is lightly toasted.

Spread marshmallow crème in a thin layer over the dessert bars and sprinkle with toasted coconut.

*note:  could use fresh whip cream or Cool Whip as a topping

Sweet Stackers KLB Squeeze Risers  SweetStackers risers squeezed between dessert

Layer baked goods in one container using Sweet Stackers!  This stackable food storage system insert into major brand food storage containers.  The trays are available in 4 sizes and the risers come in two sizes for either cookies or dessert bars.  They can even be squeezed flat in between bars or brownies.  Why not layer cookies and brownies in the same container?!

SweetStackers dessert storage solution

Stack the dessert tray over the bottom layer and they are ready to go!

sweetstackers.com

SweetStackers layer bakery

Tomato Harvest Bruschetta

Loving my veggie garden this year because with all of the rain – comes a huge harvest of tomatoes!  For Labor Day weekend, I made a few different recipes using tomatoes.  Bruschetta was at the top of my list!  So easy to make and you don’t need plum tomatoes.  I used the large juicy big boy-type tomatoes!

Tomato Harvest Bruschetta appetizer

Slice a baguette thin and place on a cookie sheet in one layer.  Place under a hot broiler for just a minute or two until they start to brown.  Flip to the other side and repeat.

When they come out of the oven, drizzle with olive oil and rub the top surface with a sliced garlic clove.

Toasted Baguette

Using 3 or 4 large tomatoes, slice a tomato side ways (so that the top half of the tomato has the vine) and squeeze the juice and seeds over the kitchen sink.  Repeat with the bottom half to remove seeds.

Dice the tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil, S&P to taste.

Fresh basil!  Pull 10-12 fresh basil leaves, roll them up together and slice thin.  Add to the tomato mixture and stir.

Scoop the tomato mixture on each toasted baguette slice.

SweetStackers food storage tray inserts

A fresh tomato appetizer perfect for late summer.  Ready to serve or transport to a party!

Sweet Stackers Food Storage trays appetizer

Sweet Stackers are reusable, stackable trays that insert into a container your already own.  The classic Tupperware 9×9 inch container and 8×8 inch Sweet Stackers tray set is pictured.   Two layers of bruschetta in one container without a soggy mess.  Ready to transport to a party or picnic!

sweetstackers.com

or

Sweet Stackers Etsy Shop