Valentine’s Party (for a slightly older crowd)

In the past I posted a link to My Blessed Life and 16 Homemade Valentines Ideas. I was contacted and asked if I had any Valentine’s inspired ideas for a couple’s party. So for you, Jennifer, and anyone else who might want some ideas.

1. Hearts  – Make individual heart shaped pizzas (each couple can custom make their own), heart shaped veggies, and of course, heart shaped desserts like decorated cookies, chocolates, and even maybe some hot chocolate with a heart shaped dollop of whipped cream as the topping.

2. Candlelight – Even though there are multiple couples coming to dinner does not mean you can’t enjoy a romantic candlelight dinner. Set your lighting and decorate your table with some beautiful candles. Have a Valentine ready to send home with each couple describing why you appreciate them as friends. You can even include a rose with each note.

3. Kids- Sometimes it is hard to find babysitting. Why not have a wonderful Kids Valentine’s Party. Make those special crafts as families complete with heart shaped grilled cheese, and a cupcake decorating station. If you don’t bring the kids or don’t have kids you can still have fun being a kid again.

4. Memories – Another great idea is to have your guests bring their wedding albums to the party. You can spend time sharing memories. If the couples you are inviting are not married you can always have a time sharing first dates or best date nights, or even share worst date nights.

I hope some of these ideas have inspired you. Please feel free to share some ideas that you have used in the past.

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Candy Bar Cookies

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So, last week, while my little ones were napping I was able to do some baking. It is very rare these days that both kids nap at the same time so I took advantage and took some pictures of my favorite cookies, as I made them, to share with all of you. However, like I said both girls napping together for a long period of time hardly ever happens, so it has taken me a week to get back on to my blog to actually post my pictures. So I hope you get a chance this weekend to try this recipe out for yourself. Enjoy!

Cookie dough Recipe:

I use my favorite peanut butter cookie recipe

1 ¾ cup flour

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

½ cup shortening/butter

½ cup peanut butter

½ cup sugar

½ cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

 

Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Then cream together shortening and peanut butter. Add both sugars, egg and vanilla. Beat well. Blend in dry ingredients. Mix well.

Once the dough is mixed take mini candy bars, I used Snickers, and press into a lump of dough. I roll into a ball to completely cover the candy bar with the cookie dough.

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Bake in the oven at 375 for about 11 to 15 minutes or until they are firm. I like them slightly raw. I think they stay chewy longer.

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How Was Your Thanksgiving?

My Thanksgiving was awesome thank you for asking!

We started our day by going to our church’s Thanksgiving praise service. As always, it is one of the highlights of my year. It is always a good way to reset my mind for the day. To remember that it is God who provides all and it is to God that I should be giving thanks for the food, family, and even the money that I am planning on spending during the Black Friday sales.

So, how was your Thanksgiving?

One more thing I wanted to share. Our menu. I thought about sharing this before Thanksgiving but I wanted to try it first. Let me just say, these recipes are amazing and so I can’t help but share them with you now. Maybe you can use them in time for Christmas or one of the many parties you might be throwing this Christmas season.

Here is my turkey. Looks amazing doesn’t it.  Here is the recipe for the turkey.

Sausage cornbread stuffing

Pumpkin cheesecake with a brownie crust

Pumpkin cake with caramel cream cheese frosting

These made awesome additions to my table. If you make any of these please let me know how they turned out for you.

Carrot Cake Cheesecake (THE BEST)

Derick and I make an awesome Carrot Cake Cheesecake that I just have to share with you. We love going to Cheesecake Factory and fell in love with their carrot cake cheesecake. Since we can’t get there as much as we used to we decided to make our own. Of course, after making this recipe we returned to the Cheesecake Factory and realized that we liked our rendition better. I hope you get a chance to try this recipe yourself.

We combined two separate recipes to make our Carrot Cake Cheesecake. We used the cheesecake recipe from Lincoln’s Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake and the Carrot Cake Recipe from Allrecipes.com Best Cheesecake Ever.

The Cheesecake

1 1/4 pounds bar cream cheese (20 oz), room temperature
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Set a kettle of water to boil. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese on medium until fluffy, scraping down side of bowl. Gradually add sugar, beating until fluffy. Beat in lemon zest and juice, and salt. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down side of bowl after each addition. Beat in sour cream.

Cut parchment paper in a circle and line the bottom of the cheesecake pan. Wrap bottom half of pan in foil. Pour in filling; place in a roasting pan. Pour in boiling water to come halfway up side of springform. Bake until just set in center, about 45 minutes. Remove pan from water; let cool 20 minutes. Run a paring knife around edge; let cool completely. Cover; chill overnight, then wrap in plastic wrap and freeze.

It is important to freeze the cheesecake for at least 2 hours or overnight. This helps for assembling the cake.

Carrot Cake Recipe

  • 6 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine grated carrots and brown sugar. Set aside for 60 minutes, then stir in raisins.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 10 inch cake pans.
  3. In a large bowl, beat eggs until light. Gradually beat in the white sugar, oil and vanilla. Stir in the pineapple. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, stir into the wet mixture until absorbed. Finally stir in the carrot mixture and the walnuts. Pour evenly into the prepared pans.
  4. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes in the preheated oven, until cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. When completely cooled, frost with cream cheese frosting.

Frosting

12 oz. cream cheese, softened
12 oz. butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 c. confectioners’ sugar

Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until combined. Add sugar and beat until frosting is light and fluffy, 5–7 minutes.

When you assemble place the bottom layer of carrot cake then add the frozen cheesecake add the other layer of carrot cake and then frost all over. You can either add white chocolate shavings or you can add walnuts on the outside. Image

White Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Craisin Cookies

These cookies are so good for the holidays and so easy to make. I hope you enjoy them. There are a couple of ways to make them more fancy, but who wants more to do around the holidays? But if you are looking to make them look a little more fancy check out the alternatives below.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups dried cranberries
  • 2/3 cup coarsely chopped white chocolate

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Combine oats, flour, salt, and baking soda; stir into butter mixture one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in preheated oven, or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.

If you would like to make the cookies a little more fancy only put half the amount of white chocolate chunks in the cookie batter and save the other half. Once cookies are cooled you can melt the remaining white chocolate and drizzle chocolate over cookies. Or you can dip the cookies in remaining white chocolate. I love this recipe and I’m not even a white chocolate fan.

Pumpkin Creamcheese Muffin

Derick and I saw this recipe on a fellow blog brownsugartoast.com. A blog I highly recommend. But I also highly recommend these muffins. they are so yummy both warm and cold. We are currently working on our family Christmas party menu and these have definitely made the list.

I hope on this beautiful Fall morning you take some time to make your stomach happy by making your own. They are worth every minute. Here is a link for the full recipe: pumpkin cheesecake muffins.