Saturday, December 17, 2011

Bubbles, Berries and a Bit of Merry!

This time of year is always wonderful for seeking out new ways to celebrate the holidays. I'll be heading home soon for some celebrations with both family and friends, where I hope to share these wonderful little favors and nibbles.

Blackberry Kir Royale

4 blackberries, quartered
3 Tablespoons Creme de Cassis
1 bottle Champagne, Prosecco or other dry sparkling white wine, chilled

In a small nonreactive bowl, combine the blackberries and Creme de Cassis and let stand for 15 minutes to let the fruit macerate. Spoon 4 pieces of marinated blackberry into each flute. Top with Champagne & serve immediately.
Serves 4.

[Image and Recipe Courtesy of The Food Channel]

Sparkling Cranberry Brie Bites

Sugared Cranberries

2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup good maple syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
Rinse cranberries and place in a medium bowl. Heat syrup in a small sauce pan just until warm. Pour over cranberries when syrup is warm, not hot, or cranberries may pop. Cool, cover, and let soak in the refrigerator overnight.
Drain cranberries in a colander. Place sugar in a large bowl or baking dish. Add cranberries in 2 batches and roll around until lightly coated in sugar. Place on a baking sheet until dry, about 1 hour.

16 crackers
8 oz Brie cheese
cranberry chutney or cranberry relish
fresh mint for garnish

Assemble crackers with one slice of brie, a light layer of cranberry chutney, and 4 or 5 sugared cranberries. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs.

[Images and Recipe Courtesy of Yummy Mummy Kitchen]

Crepe and Lace Party Crackers


Cardboard tube about 4-5 inches long (paper towel rolls and wrapping paper tubes are good sources)
Lace fabric
Crepe Paper
Double stick tape
Very sturdy thread or twine

Optional: For added interest we added star shaped sequins (found at fabric stores) and stars punched from gold paper


1. Begin by cutting lace fabric and crepe paper into rectangles. The shortest side of the rectangle should be long enough to wrap around the tube - usually about 6-7 inches. The longest side should be the length of the cardboard tube plus an additional 6-8 inches. Once you've determined your dimensions write them down so all your favors will be uniform.

2. Wrap crepe paper and lace fabric around tube so that the lace fabric faces outward as shown. Secure with double stick tape. Then tie one end with twine. Fill with candy or other favor item and tie remaining edge closed.

3. Optional: Add stars or other adornments to all or a few of the favor crackers.

[Images and instructions courtesy of The Bride's Cafe]

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Give a Joy Jar This Holiday Season!

Once in a while, you stumble upon something that just gives you the warm fuzzies all over. And so I introduce to you a little girl who is turning her struggle into triumph.

Jessica Joy Rees is a smart 12 year old girl with bright eyes, an infectious smile and a love of swimming. She was also diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor earlier this year, which she and her family are fighting to help her overcome. Through her treatment, she witnessed other children undergoing their own struggles, many too sick to be able to go home with their family like she could. She saw how hard it was on them and she wanted to encourage them to NEGU, Never, Ever Give Up. She spoke with her family and found a way to do just that.

They began her charity, the NEGU Foundation, to provide support for other children and their families who were fighting against cancer, and also created Joy Jars, a special gift full of presents for the children.

For this holiday season, and even beyond, you can purchase a Joy Jar for your friends, family and/or colleagues, and the NEGU Foundation will also give one to a child in need. This is such a wonderful organization from such a brave little girl. Consider skipping that default bottle of wine or basket of unhealthy cookies, and send a gift that goes beyond just your giving, and helps bring hope to someone who needs it.

I'm so impressed by Jessica and her family and will keep them in my thoughts and prayers. Their decision to turn hardship into an opportunity to help others is truly remarkable and inspiring.