I love making Cinnamon Sugar Pull Apart Bread for special occasions and at Christmas I like to make it in the shape of a wreath. I put in it a pie pan to look like a wreath and make a bow out of dough for the top of the wreath. It adds a festive touch to our Christmas morning breakfast and the kids love it.
This may look complicated, but it's not. I make the dough in the bread machine. See step by step directions here.
When the dough is prepared for a wreath, cut a strip of dough from the center to make a bow, then cut each remaining half in half again to get 4 long strips of dough. Cut the strips again following the instructions in this post. Then you put the layers of dough in a circular fashion in a pie pan instead of a loaf pan. I've started lining my pie pan with a little sheet of parchment paper when making this bread and it makes clean-up so much easier.
This warm sweet bread with its crispy cinnamon sugar coating will be the hit of your Christmas brunch!
Also pictured: Sugar Cookies and Bacon and Egg cups (the linked recipe is for ham and egg cups, but I used bacon and cheese instead)
Clam chowder is one of our favorite soups of all time and this one does not disappoint. Rich creamy chowder with hearty potatoes and clams...it's more than just dinner, it's a culinary experience for the senses.
This is actually pretty easy to throw together and doesn't take very long to make. The only prep-work is dicing an onion and a few potatoes (no need to peel them). Plus, canned clams are pretty easy to find in your local grocery and are affordable. I usually keep some in the cabinet just for making clam chowder since it is one of our favorites.
I often use vegetable broth in soups, but I like to use seafood stock when making clam chowder. Vegetable broth is fine, but I think the flavor is amazing when made with seafood stock.
Homemade clam chowder is so much tastier than canned soup and not that much work. Add this to your soup rotation for a delicious, hearty meal on cozy winter nights.
2 T. butter
1 onion, diced
4 T. flour
2 1/2 C. seafood, chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 C. cooking sherry
2 (10 oz.) cans baby or chopped clams in juice
1 C. heavy or whipping cream
2 bay leaves
1 lb. russet potatoes, diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, stirring frequently.
2. Sprinkle the flour over the onion and mix in.
3. Add the stock, sherry, juice from both cans of clams (reserve the clams), cream, bay leaves, and potatoes and stir to combine.
4. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently while the soup thickens.
5. Reduce the heat to a medium-low and cook, stirring frequently until the potatoes are tender. (About 20 minutes.)
6. Add clams and cook for about two minutes until the clams are firm. Salt and pepper to taste.
Disclosure: The links in this post are referral links.
I don't know about you, but I have been doing most of my Christmas shopping online this year. It's so convenient and I have gotten some really good deals. I haven't been very good about using cash back sites over the years because I always forget about them and sometimes they don't seem worth the trouble.
I got an email from Ebates the other day and I thought fine...I'll see if I can remember how to log in and see how this works since I am ordering gifts online anyway. I was able to log in and there was a special promotion with really high cash back percentages. I was ordering from Land's End so I typed Land's End in the search bar to see if they worked with Land's End and they did. (Land's End has been having great 50% off sales most of the month.) I got 12% cash back on my order which was over $9!
I wish I would have been using ebates sooner this Christmas, but at least now I know how to get great cash back deals!
If you are new to ebates and sign up through my referral link, you will receive a $10 bonus! Cash back and a bonus! That's a really big win!
Since I haven't been a big ebates user in the past I wanted to see what someone else thought and found this great comprehensive blog post from The Selling Family. From reading her post, I learned that ebates are paid four times a year through paypal or a check and there are coupon codes on ebates.com too. Seems pretty easy to me.
Disclosure: I received complimentary product in exchange for an honest review.
Are you tired of the over commercialization of Christmas? If you answered yes, then this is the sweater for you. My husband couldn't resist this Seinfeld sweater from UglyChristmasSweater.com. They have so many funny Christmas sweaters that it is hard to choose just one. My husband loves this sweater! He has worn it to several Christmas parties already this year and I'm sure it will be making more appearances over the next two weeks.
This cute Ugliest Sweater medal came with the Festivus sweater. It would make the perfect prize for your Ugly Christmas Sweater party.
To get into the true Festivus spirit, get a Festivus pole, have Festivus dinner, air your grievances, and participate in the feats of strength to celebrate Festivus like a true Seinfeld enthusiast. Or just get this sweater and let Kramer and Frank Costanza show you how it's really done.
Add a little fun to your next Christmas or Festivus party with a sweater from UglyChristmasSweater.com. For more ugly sweater ideas follow UglyChristmasSweater.com @UglyXsweater on twitter, @ugly.christmas on instagram and @UglyXmas on facebook.
While we wind down from our Thanksgiving feasts, prepare to make more room for the good times and company that are bound to come. As we enter December, be sure to take a break from your monotonous routines to slow down and spend some quality time with loved ones. In preparation for the arrival of cherished friends and family, take steps to make your house feel like a home to all who enter this holiday season.
Decorate your home with coziness in mind
With the weather becoming increasingly colder or snowier, your guests are going to be in search of warmth once they hang their coats by the door. When giving your home a makeover for the holidays, be intentional about incorporating coziness into your decor. Keep these tips in mind:
Tis the season to break out the tree and Christmas decor! Placing a tree into the corner of the room will fill up space. Yes, it may make the room seem smaller, but the aesthetic of pine partnered with shiny ribbon and white lights will be sure to make the room feel cozy. Already have a tree in your living room? Try for a smaller one in your dining area!
Allow your rooms to feel lived in
When expecting company, it is normal to feel the need to make your home look as tidy as possible. Making sure surfaces are wiped clean and messes are tidied up is one thing, but sometimes a room that looks too pristine and bare can work against you. This can make your guests feel uncomfortable making themselves at home in your house out of fear of messing things up. You want your loved ones to feel like members of your household, not just visiting guests.
Take cues from farmhouse style living rooms, which utilize design techniques like draping blankets over chairs rather than neatly folding them away in order to make the space feel utilized. Leave out coasters and wicker baskets full of books in order to subtly convey that they do more than simply admire the space from afar. Play some festive music or leave a holiday movie playing on the television to create background noise. There are tons of fun Christmas movies available to choose from!
Showcase memories with photos of friends and family
Show your loved ones they are valued by displaying your favorite memories that you’ve shared together. This is a great opportunity to get creative with frames as a significant aspect of your home decor. Fill the spaces your guests will spend most of their time in with lovely stills of moments spent with one another.
Have too many photos to choose from but not enough frames? Before guests arrive for your big holiday gathering, create a wall of gratitude and post all of your favorite photos with loved ones. Use paint-friendly tape to prevent damage and sticky notes to create fun captions next to the photos. For a more designed focused take, try out a geometric wall display. For a quick and simple tactic, hang up the photos on a twine clothesline. Get into the spirit of the season by only displaying photos taken during past holiday gatherings!
Let laughter lead the way!
Although it’s wonderful to want to be the perfect host, try to be mindful of spending more time creating new memories with your loved ones rather than catering to them. After all, how else are you going to get new photos to add to your wall of gratitude?
Remind yourself that those dishes will still be there when everyone has said their goodbyes, and a slightly disheveled living room is just a sign that people enjoyed themselves. Let the laughter of friends and family fill your house and you’ll quickly realize that the best way to make your four walls feel like home is by filling it with people who you love most.
Disclosure: I received complimentary product to facilitate my review. All opinions are honest and are my own.
I have a toddler who really needs his afternoon nap. Honestly, the calm and quiet in the house is good for me too. Naps are a win/win. Most days he sleeps really well, but add in brothers playing (when home from school) or dog barking if the mailman comes to the door (we are dog sitting for family) and the whole nap situation can get really out of whack.
In the summer months I run a fan in his room during nap time both to keep it comfortable and provide white noise. I was considering looking into getting a white noise machine since it's too cool to run a fan so I was happy to try the AuCuTee White Noise Sound Machine.
This has been a handy little appliance. I have been running it for the entire nap time in the afternoons and running it on a 30 minute timer at night. It has been working wonderfully at helping our toddler take good solid naps every afternoon and at helping him fall asleep quickly and easily at bedtime.
This little machine is so easy to use. Simply plug it in and turn it on. There is a 30 or 60 minute timer switch (pictured on the left) and an on switch which has a lower or higher sound option (pictured on the right).
Once you turn it on, you can rotate the top of it to adjust how much air flows through it which adjusts the sound even further.
I had the perfect picture of this sweet sleeping boy and then Sage, the dog, came running in excitedly and his eyes popped open before I got the shot. LOL He sleeps so well with his AuCuTee sound machine that I usually have to wake him up to go get his big brothers from school. Sage gets really excited about getting the boys and rides along so she just couldn't contain herself.
AuCuTee has generously sponsored a giveaway of 5 White Noise Sound Machines! Enter here to win on the rafflecopter form and I will select 5 winners!
Disclosure: The links in this posts are referral links. I will receive referral credit when you make a purchase through one of my links.
Pact Organic has a deal today on sock gift sets for the whole family. These are the most comfortable socks. I love my Pact organic socks and already ordered some of these sets for gifting this year. You can save 20% off your order through my referral link. I put Pact Organic in my gift guide because I love them! Looks like you can also use coupon code GIFTGREEN for free shipping today. (not sure how long the code will work)
So thanksgiving turkey is pretty awesome, but so is turkey noodle soup from the leftover turkey. It really hits the spot when the weather turns cold and the whole family loves it!
Don't throw out the turkey carcass after Thanksgiving dinner is over. Save it to make a delicious, hearty soup. Plus the homemade bone broth will be full of healthy nutrients. I love homemade turkey noodle soup and look forward to it even more than the turkey dinner.
This is a lot like making chicken noodle soup, just bigger. Get out your biggest pot for this one. Soup is very forgiving too. You can change things up a bit with seasonings, vegetable variations, or even the amount of liquid. So have fun with it and customize it to your family's liking. The kids struggled with egg noodles in the past so I now make chicken or turkey noodle soup with small ditalini pasta instead. No more tears and frustration from noodles slipping off the spoon:)
Another bonus...LEFTOVERS!!!!! Turkey noodle soup leftovers are the best!
1 onion diced
3 cloves garlic minced
1 stalk celery diced
2 T. butter
14 C. water
6 t. chicken base or bouillon
1 turkey carcass
1/2 t. salt
1 t. Cajun seasoning
1 C. sliced carrots
1 C. frozen peas (You can also just use a bag of frozen peas & carrots)
12 oz. Amish home-style egg noodles or small (kid-friendly) ditalini noodles
1. In a large pot, sauté onion, garlic and celery in butter until tender and slightly caramelized.
2. Add water, chicken base, and turkey carcass (I break it into 2 pieces to fit it in the pot or rotate it while cooking so that each part of the turkey simmers in the broth). Then add salt and Cajun seasoning. Cook on low for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
3. Remove turkey carcass from the pot and pull meat off the carcass with a knife and a fork. Cut up the meat and return it to the pot. Add sliced carrots and peas and bring pot to a boil.
4. Add noodles and continue to boil uncovered until noodles are tender. (Check noodle package for cooking time.)
Here are a few of my favorites:
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Since I am a foodie mom blogger, I thought I would share my favorite gifts for foodies, moms, and bloggers just in time for the Christmas season. I actually wrote this post last year, but thought I would update with a few new favorites.
First, let me tell you about my favorite jeans. Every mom needs a great pair of comfy and fashionable jeans that she can dress up or down and wear almost anywhere. Last year I wrote a review for prAna Kara jeans and they are still my favorite jeans. In fact, I am wearing them now. In addition to these jeans being super comfortable and cute, they are also made with organic cotton and they are fair trade. My only complaint about these jeans is that I have to wear longer shirts because they are lower waisted. A reader commented on my post that I should try the Kayla jean which is the same jean, but with a higher rise. I think my next pair will be the Kayla jean.
(2018 Update) I got the Kayla jeans for Christmas last year and LOVE them! I wear them all the time and they have replaced the Kara jean as my favorite. I prefer the higher waist of the Kayla jeans. I got them in tall and wear them with a small roll up at the ankle since they are so long. My next pair will probably be Kayla jeans in regular length to wear for a cropped summer look. These are the most comfortable and stylish jeans I own.
Since we are still talking clothes, I'll share another favorite. I love love love my Pact Organic hoodie. I wear it all the time. This was also a blog review favorite from the past year. Soooooo comfy and cute! They actually have a really good sale going on at their website today. Use code MONDAY to save 20%. (today only) My husband reviewed their underwear for my post and he now calls them his favorite underwear. This would be a great stocking stuffer idea as they are a really good deal right now. I have Pact organic underwear and socks too and have to say they are so incredibly soft and comfy.
I don't actually have any of these yet, but see everyone wearing these cute little boots and think I am finally ready for this fashion trend. I know they have been around awhile and I am slow to adopt trends, but I am a practical mom so that's how it goes. Anyway, I think the practical, but fashionable woman in your life would love a great pair of booties. Update: So I still haven't taken this fashion trend on, but think it is time (as long as my ankles don't get too cold LOL).
I've got one more fashion related item and it's actually makeup. Three years ago, I had my 20 year high school reunion. I decided it was time for a great under-eye concealer. I walked into a Sephora store and asked for help. I came out with the most amazing concealer I have ever used. It is Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer in light vanilla. It is on the pricier side, but lasts a long time. I am only on my second tube in 3 years. I asked for this one for Christmas last year and this tube will probably last me another year with almost daily use. I do use a small brush to apply it which was recommended by the Sephora lady. My sister did a blind test with my concealer and her own and my mom, my other sister, and myself all thought she looked younger using my Nars concealer.
Update: I am just about ready to replace my concealer as it is about time, but I am planning on trying the same concealer in a slightly more concentrated formula. My sister tried it and loves it and since these old eyes really need their concealer, I am going to try it. It's the same brand, but a thicker formula. I'll ask her which one and add the link below.
Now for some foodie gifts.
We'll start with the instant pot craze that is all over the blogesphere. I don't actually have one of these yet, but will probably get one at some point. As much as I love my slow cooker, an instant pot would be nice for the time factor. I asked a fellow food blogger, Lindsay from pinch of yum, who uses an instant pot a lot, which one she would recommend and this is it. You can check out pinch of yum for lots of great instant pot recipes too.
Since this post is starting to get long, here are some more of my favorite foodie gifts. My husband gave me my 12" Lodge cast iron skillet our first Christmas that we were married 16 years ago. It must be my most used gift ever. One year I got a Nordic Ware cookie scoop in my stocking and I use it every time I make drop cookies of any kind. For the baker in your life, you can't go wrong with parchment baking sheets. We just discovered at Thanksgiving that we don't have a small gravy ladle so this will go on my list.
Some gifts for the blogger.
How to blog for Profit by Ruth Soukup is a must read for every blogger. I learned so much from reading her book. I use my Lowell EGO light for almost all of my indoor food photography. It is really easy to set up and works well for close-up still photos. I photograph in front of a window in our kitchen nook, but find I usually need more light than just natural window light. This is also be a great tool for anyone taking photos for ebay or Etsy sales.
As far as blogging resources go, the most beneficial book I have ever read was actually an ebook Tasty Food Photography written by the highly successful food blogger Lindsay of Pinch of Yum. Most of what I know about food photography I owe to her. In fact, many of my photos have been accepted on foodgawker since reading Tasty Food Photography and this is after having at least 100 rejections. If you are a food blogger and you want to improve your photography, you have to read this book! (affiliate link below)
Food bloggers are always on the lookout for interesting dishes that would photograph well. You can find absolute treasures in thrift stores. My current favorites are these homemade bowls which I did find in a thrift store. I usually look for rustic looking pieces without a lot of shine. Shine doesn't photograph well.
In addition to dishes, I keep a lookout for interesting and attractive kitchen towels. Simple patterns in lightweight cotton (no terrycloth) and colors that compliment my dishes are best. I love this striped towel I found at Walmart for a dollar. Another favorite is this towel my sister-in-law brought me from New Zealand. Towels and fabric pieces add dimension and style to food photos and can really make the food pop in the picture. I also use this piece of burlap fabric a lot. I found it in the remnants section in the fabric department at Walmart.
Some gifts just for fun.
I got The Magnolia Story for my birthday and it's a fun read. If you are as obsessed with Joanna Gaines and Fixer Upper as half of the US is, you'll love this behind the scenes look at their lives.
Our family is a board game family, as in serious gamers who go to board game conventions and own hundreds of games (more my husband and the boys than me). While they often play serious strategy games, I enjoy the more lighthearted family type games. My favorite (which we all love) is Wits and Wagers. It's a great game for get togethers, parties, or just family time that anyone can play. We have the family edition too which is geared towards a younger crowd, but our kids play the original version with us and do just fine.
It has always been hard for me to keep up with devotionals, but I have one I always go back to and love. I love my Jesus Calling devotional. I think my sister Rebecca gave it to me years ago and it is always on my nightstand or with me when I travel. Every time I read it, I feel like Jesus is speaking to me. It is such a great way to start or end the day. My husband and I even read it together sometimes and there is always a bible verse or two which gets me reading my bible which is good since I need a little extra motivation. Our kids have the children's Jesus Calling bible story book and LOVE it. They always ask me to read it to them.
Happy gifting. I hope you all find the perfect gifts for your loved ones and still have time to enjoy the Christmas season and celebrate God's greatest gift, Jesus. Blessings to you all.
Rich, creamy butter bean soup... I worked on this recipe for months, maybe even a year. Each time I made it, I took notes of how I thought I could improve it the next time. Then one day, when I made it for dinner we decided it was finally right.
This is one of our favorites that has been on the blog for a few years. Since I made this a couple of times recently, I snapped some new pictures to update the post. I even made a video which you can see below.
This recipe is one of my favorites because it is delicious, easy, and budget friendly. The boys love it too. Such an easy meal to throw together in the morning and have a hot cooked meal on a busy weeknight.
This recipe was inspired by our favorite butter bean soup from Taylor's Chili Parlor in Carlinville, IL. I make it less spicy than Taylor's, but still very good. It is more kid friendly with a little less kick. If you want it spicier, just add more pepper.
Watch my video and see how easy this is to make. You can even make it with a toddler on your lap:)
1 lb dried lima beans (also known as butter beans)
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 large sweet onion, diced
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. or more freshly ground black pepper (I don't measure, just grind some pepper into the soup)
2 tsp. creole or cajun seasoning (you can see which kind I use in the video)
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. corriander
1 quart (4 cups) vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 stick real butter
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1. Soak the beans for about an hour.
2. Rinse and drain the beans before placing them in the crock pot.
3. Put the rinsed beans, garlic, onion, salt, pepper, creole seasoning, cumin, and corriander into the crock pot along with the broth and water.
4. Cover crock, and cook on low for around 10 hours, or until beans are tender and creamy. Usually longer is better to get the beans to break down and become soft and creamy giving the soup a slight pureed effect. It is always thicker the next day too so leftovers are amazing.
5. During last hour, add 1 stick butter and tomato sauce.
6. I like to take the lid off and let the soup thicken a bit before serving.
Delicious with some homemade beer bread or bread machine bread.
Welcome to Home Ec @ Home
Hi, I'm Faith, a former Family and Consumer Science teacher turned work at home Mom blogger. I love God, my family, and food. You can usually find me in the kitchen preparing family friendly, homemade recipes and taking lots of pictures.
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