Fancy Soup Shots

Christmas is over, are you wiped out? Don't forget that New Year's Eve is coming!
One of my favorite things to do when entertaining is to "dress up" comfort foods. Everyone loves them and they're easy to make. Plus, they're all the rage right now.
Above are my "Tomato Soup Shots". Aren't they fun? I simply put warmed Progresso Tomato & Basil soup in shot glasses, cut up grilled cheese sandwiches into triangles and balanced them on the top! So easy, inexpensive and they always disappear as fast as I can make them! I used bamboo skewers but you can use toothpicks as well. You could change up the soups, use a parmesean crisp or a simple piece of toast, the possibilities are endless!
Tip: if you don't have shot glasses, use clean votive candle holders! You can usually find them for 50 cents or less.
Cheers to easy entertaining for the New Year!


Merry Christmas!

I just wanted to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas!
I hope it's full of family, fun, love, laughter and of course fabulous food. Thank you so much for joining us on our kitchen adventures and here's to a New Year full of delicious possibilities!

This Christmas, we're going for one last crazy food fling beore we buckle down and give up the treats. It's a killer (definitely a once-a-year food!) but my friend Lenore sent this recipe and I just can't resist!! She is an amazing caterer & foodie, you can check out her website here.

from Lenore Nolan-Ryan

12-16 Krispie Kreme Glazed Donuts
8 large eggs
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash salt
Praline Topping, recipe follows

Tear Krispie Kreme Donuts into one inch pieces. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half- and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and beat with a rotary beater or whisk until blended. Pour mixture over the donuts making sure all are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. Next day preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pour mixture into a 9x13 inch baking dish.

Spread Praline Topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden.

Praline Topping
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, melted
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well.


12 Days of Christmas Cookies

Merry Christmas!
I love gorgeous cookies but honestly, I'm a terrible artist. So, for those of us that are “icing challenged”, edible images are a lifesaver!

Even though I can't draw, I do have some fabulously talented friends! My amazing friend Annie drew these 12 Days of Christmas designs for me and we are so happy that they’re available to you for free to download and print!

Not many people own edible image printers but if you take this graphic to your local bakery or supermarket, they should be able to do it for you for a few dollars per sheet.
These couldn’t be more simple to make! I started with a pouch of Betty Crocker Gingerbread Cookie Mix. Prepare as directed on package and roll it out and cut into circles. No need for a fancy cookie cutter—use a drinking glass!
Bake as directed then frost the middle with a thin layer of your favorite icing. Cut out images, peel off backing, and place on top of the icing, pressing gently. Tip: if your images are sticky or aren’t coming off the backing, pop them in the freezer for a few minutes and they will peel right off. Pipe out a border of icing around edges. Done!
Click here to download your free 12 Days of Christmas template.
Tip: No access to an edible image printer? You can print these fun images on your regular printer as gift tags to top your cookie plates.

Do you have a favorite Christmas cookie? I've got a cookie exchange this week and need some inspiration!
Please link up your favorite cookie posts so we can all try them out!


Confetti Egg Cups

Well, we've taken care of your school party snacks with these two extremely quick ideas, so now let's tackle those Holiday guests!
We made these Confetti Eggs Cups for Tablespoon today and they are a huge hit around here. They're gorgeous but are so easy that my 6 year old made this batch...My entertaining woes solved AND my kids put to work? I'm in love...
Click here for the full recipe.

To assemble, grab a muffin/cupcake pan and place a thin slice of ham in each space. Crack an egg into each ham “cup”. Season with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle finely chopped red and green peppers on top. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with cheese and bake an additional 5-10 minutes (depending on how done you like your eggs). Remove from oven and serve! So easy! You could also assemble these cups ahead of time and bake them right before you have guests arrive. Do you have any easy Holiday "go-to" recipes for entertaining? I'm looking for new ideas to try this week!


Elf Tinker Toy Snacks

Right now my kids are getting treats at school, treats from neighbors, treats from the post office, you name it. So, for their upcoming Holiday class parties, I wanted to bring along something semi-healthy along with the goodies. Now, if you told me last week that I'd be taking pretzels and cheese cubes to my kid's class party, I would have thought you were nuts. Unless...
We use a little imagination and turn them into
Elf Tinker Toys!
This just goes to show that simple things can be crazy fun with a little imagination. Not only is it a great snack, the kids can have some fun playing with their food. The baggie toppers I made are yours free to download! Click here or on the image below to open and print.
Elf Tinker Toy Snacks
(do we really need a recipe...?!)
Cheese Cubes
Pretzel Sticks
Directions: Place desired amount of each in a baggie and attach label. Take a bubble bath or do something productive with all the time you just saved. Hooray!
We're sharing this over on Works for Me Wednesday. Come on over and share your favorite quick tips!

Want to share? Here's a one click Tweet!


Holiday Swirl Cookies

Even though I've been making quick school snacks lately (another one coming Thursday!), it's not Christmas without COOKIES! Here are some Holiday Swirl Cookies that we whipped up for Tablespoon this week.
These were actually inspired by those giant Christmas suckers they have at Wal-Mart right now (and yes, I bought a bunch...)
They're super cute wrapped as little "candies'. Simply wrap in a piece of cellophane and tie the ends with ribbon. One or two of these would be adorable on top of a cookie plate!
What makes these super easy is that I went to my stand-by favorite, Betty Crocker Cookie Mix, to whip up the dough.
Divide dough in 3 pieces, tint one red and one green.
Roll out one section of dough into a 9” x 11” rectangle. Roll out the second section of dough into the same size. Repeat with third section of dough and stack all rectangles on top of each other. Roll all together into a log.
Cut 1/2" slices with a very sharp knife.
Bake at 375 degrees for 7-10 minutes, until barely brown.
Click Here for the full recipe. Enjoy!

Want to share? Here's a one-click Tweet!


iPad Giveaway!

Happy 3rd Birthday to Gourmet Mom!
3 years ago I started writing this blog as a creative outlet to encourage more family fun in the kitchen. I definitely had some not-too fantastic posts when I first began, but at least I started off with chocolate...

I have loved hearing your kitchen adventures and sharing our own with you. So much, in fact, that I wanted to give one of you something really special....

Yep, we're giving one lucky Gourmet Mom reader a brand new iPad loaded with Kraft Food's fabulous app, Big Fork Little Fork!!
(Note: I don't have and iPad so I'm insanely jealous. Hopefully GourmetDad will take the hint and get me one for Christmas.:))

Time is up!
Our lucky winner is:
The Karlinsey Family who said...
"the number one thing on my christmas list is new knives"

Now, Karlinsey Family, you didn't have an email address on your blog profile, so I left you messages on both your blogs. You need to contact me within 3 days to claim your prize or we'll have to pick another winner (sorry, we've got to get it out in time for Christmas!). So, please shoot me an email w/ your address and it's yours!

Open to US Residents. We'll chose one winner via random.org to receive a 16 gig WiFi iPad on December 16th.

If you haven't checked out Big Fork Little Fork, it is a fantastic resource for you and your kids in the kitchen! It's designed to bring both parents and children in the kitchen to make cooking a family affair (and a fun one at that!). Anything that brings your family together in the kitchen gets two thumbs up from me.

This holiday season, Kraft Foods teamed up with celeb Chef Marcus Samuelsson to bring in an exclusive recipe collection for Big Fork Little Fork. The new content contains globally-inspired recipes, how-to videos and a ton of tips and tricks from Marcus himself to show just how easy it is to get everyone involved in creating meals together.

As a teaser, here's the recipe from the app for Red Grits (pictured above). This side dish is a great alternative to rice and pasta, and particularly good served with shrimp, as they do in the Low Country of South Carolina and other regions of the American South.

Prep Time: 5 min. Total Time: 20 min. Makes: 4 servings, about 2/3 cup each.
What You Need
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. tomato paste
1/8 tsp. smoked paprika
½ cup old-fashioned grits
1 cup finely chopped tomatoes
1 cup tomato juice
1 cup fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
¼ cup KRAFT Shredded Colby & Monterey Jack Cheese
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil

Make It
COOK first 3 ingredients in medium saucepan on medium-low heat 1 min. Add grits; cook and
stir 2 min. Add tomatoes; cook and stir 2 min.
STIR in juice and stock; simmer 10 min.
TOP with cheese and basil.

How to Wash Fresh Herbs: Always wash fresh herbs before use. Rinse small bunches under cold running water and blot dry. When you need to clean a large amount of herbs, fill a large bowl or clean sink with cold water and swish the herbs around to remove any dirt. Remove the herbs from the water and dry in a salad spinner or gently blot dry.

Nutrition Bonus:
The combination of tomatoes and tomato juice not only adds color and flavor to the grits, but it also provides a good source of both vitamins A and C. Carb Choices: 1 Nutrition Information Per Serving: 160 calories, 6g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 5mg cholesterol, 360mg sodium, 20g carbohydrate, 2g dietary fiber, 3g sugars, 6g protein, 20%DV vitamin A, 15%DV vitamin C, 6%DV calcium, 6%DV iron.

Disclosure: Thanks to Kraft Foods for providing the iPad and app for this giveaway. Thanks to GourmetDad for providing me an iPad for Christmas (hint, hint!). I was not compensated in any way for this post and all opinions, as always, are my own.


Mixed Up Snowman Snacks

I've been crazy busy lately and it has made me discover something...
Holiday Treats don't need to be fancy or complicated to be special!
We whipped up these Mixed-Up Snowman Snacks for Little C's school class and they were a huge hit. There was absolutely no cooking involved, just a few fun ingredients and some imagination.
And, we've made it super easy for you to re-create! Simply gather your ingredients, put into baggies, and print and attach the label I made. Enjoy!
Mixed-Up Snowman Snacks
Pretzel Sticks
Junior Mints Candies
Orange Sprinkles (the long variety)
Fruit Roll-ups, cut into strips
Small Marshmallows
Mini Chocolate Chips
Sandwich Baggies
Snowman Bag Labels

Put desired amount of ingredients into baggies (you can do however much of each that you want). Download and print the Mixed-Up Snowman Snack Label. (click image to download)
In case you can't read the poem, it says:
Serve to your favorite little (or big!) people and do something fun with all the extra time you saved. I just may get out Christmas cards this year, ha!

And, FYI, if you're looking for a fun, relaxing, romantic read, grab copies of Incognito and Mr. Malcom's List by Suzanne Allain. I bought them to read during my recent travels and both were absolutely delicious! They have great characters, plenty of romance (and it's clean!), and several laugh-out-loud places. I don't usually talk about books but these are seriously MUST READS!! I'm going to be buying copies for my girlfriends this Christmas and I am double crossing my fingers that she writes more books!
Be sure to come back later this week--we are having an AMAZING giveaway (hint: it's the #1 item on my Christmas Wish List!) to celebrate Gourmet Mom's 3rd Birthday!


Zhu Zhu Pet Makeover Party

As you may/may not know, my kids are Zhu Zhu Pet crazy. So, my girls were super excited when they heard that we were going to have a Pampered Hamster Zhu Zhu Pet Playdate! Of course there had to be food involved...

(click for recipe)

When the guests arrived, they were each greeted this poem I wrote up and they all ran downstairs to find their hidden Rock Star Zhu Zhu Pets. You can click here to download/print. In case you can't read the text, it says:

"The Rockstar Zhu Zhu Pets have come to play,
They are SO excited to meet you today!
They each need a Mommy who will take good care
to make sure they dress well and brush their fabulous hair.
They're all a little shy and are hiding around,
But they're excited to meet you and to be found!
So, find the Zhu Zhu with your name on the top,
Then we'll get out accessories and pull out all the stops
for a fabulous makeover party. Are you ready to play?
It's time for a rockin' Pampered Hamster Party today!"
The five girls got right to work pampering their Rock Star Zhu Zhu Pets...

The new Fall Outfits and the Beauty Salon were fantastic! Everyone lined up for turns to put them in the "beauty chair"! Check out a video of the fun!

Finally, of course we had to show off their new looks! So I whipped up an inexpensive (but fabulous!) runway and they spent over an hour letting their Zhu Zhu Pets strut their stuff.
I made a quick video tutorial to show you how easy it is to put together your OWN runway...

What a great party! A huge thanks to our friends at MomSelect and Zhu Zhu Pets for our fabulous playdate party!
Disclosure: Zhu Zhu Pets through BSM Media profided the Zhu Zhu Pets™ Rockstars, Deluxe Fashion Carriers, Assortment of Zhu Zhu pets Fall Outfits, and Zhu Zhu Pets Beauty Salon. I was not compensated for this post and all opinions, as always, are my own.


Big News in NYC!

I'm en route to NYC (don't you love in-flight WiFi) and am so excited that I can FINALLY spill the beans about some amazing news!
Kraft is launching a new product called Philadelphia Cooking Creme on January 1st! Just imagine a spoonable creme that you can use for everything from pizzas to pastas to casseroles. It comes in several delicious chef-inspired flavors. I've been playing with the product for awhile and all I can say is that it's amazing! It will totally change the way you cook. Whipping up a quick dinner for my family has never been easier.

To start the launch of Cooking Creme, my Real Women of Philadelphia Hosts and I will be doing a cooking demo tomorrow evening (12/3) at Real Simple's Pop-Up Shop in Rockefeller Plaza (10 West 49th Street). The demo will be at 6 PM and you can be one of the first to try out Cooking Creme! Plus, I've heard rumors that Real Simple has some amazing Holiday ideas in their Pop-Up Shop...I'll be there tonight checking it out!
So, if you're near NYC, come on over to say Hi and for some Holiday fun!

Holiday Playlist

My grandmother hasn't been doing well...to cheer her up, I rounded up a few of my musical friends and made an album of Holiday songs fo...