The Electric Mimosa (Champagne+Orange Juice+RED BULL)

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This is the PERFECT Christmas drink that we invented.  With equal parts Champagne, orange Juice and Red Bull, it is even suitable for brunch! (or breakfast).  The addition of the Red Bull gives you just enough of that extra “pep” you need to get through the craziness of the holidays.

Enjoy!

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Christmas Knitting: Hats and Fingerless Mitts

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For Christmas I knit my mom and sisters hats and matching fingerless mitts.  Above is my mother modeling her hat in teal.  I asked my mom and sisters early on what colors they wanted for “mystery holiday knitting.”  My mom and sister Kirsten both wanted teal/turquoise, but I chose a saturated color for my mom (Heritage Sock Yarn by Cascade Yarns) and a soft color way for my sister (Mini Mochi).

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The pattern I chose for the hat is Elizabeth Pedersen’s Boardwalk hat.  I took some liberties with the yarn and used sock yarn to make it look lacier!  The mitts are my own design (my first!) and I used the lace pattern from the hat to make them match.  Aren’t they cute?

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I’ve been keeping these items a secret for so long, it was driving me CRAZY!  I’m so glad to see them with the loved-ones I made them for!

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Finishing the Never-Ending Scarf

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With mere hours to spare, I finished the infamous Never-Ending Scarf just in time for Christmas!

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I knit the scarf until it reached 62 inches, and then attached 6 inches of trim at both ends.  It seems to be just the right length, and my boyfriend LOVES it.  Mission Accomplished!

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I am SO excited to start on some “selfish” knitting.  Maybe a shawl?  Or a hat?  Both?  What knitting are you working on now?  With the holiday season nearly over and done with, its time to start a project for yourself.  Please share!  🙂

Sparkling Ginger Cookies–the Perfect Holiday Cookies

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Growing up, my mom didn’t bake much, so that meant I didn’t either.  When I was 22, I decided I would try being Vegan, but that meant all those frozen and ready-made foods weren’t available to me any more, and I had to learn to make everything for myself.  In this way, I learned to cook and bake.  I learned without the use of butter, eggs, or milk.  (The STAPLES of baking).  And while I’m not Vegan anymore, my first experiences of baking have stayed with me, and many of my favorite recipes still come from my favorite cookbook, Vegan with a Vengeance, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.

Rolling them in raw sugar.

Rolling them in raw sugar.

Years ago, when I was experimenting with baking, I made her Sparkling Ginger Cookies, and they were an instant hit!  My mom loves them, and every year around Christmas she begins asking me (read:begging me) to make them.  With plenty of ginger, cinnamon, and cloves, these cookies are a spicy-sweet delight.  To this day, I have been unable to find a better ginger cookie (vegan or NOT).  The recipes from this book have continued to permeate my kitchen even though I am now a full-fledged carnivore.

The wet ingredients looked artistic...

The wet ingredients…

Give them a try.  You won’t be disappointed!

What recipes do you make for the holidays?  Please share your stories! 🙂

Perfect White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

Decadent raspberry swirls.

Decadent raspberry swirls.

My favorite dessert in the whole world is this white chocolate cheesecake from the Olive Garden.  No, I don’t go to the Olive Garden that often, but the few times I have, this dessert has left an impression.  I decided that I needed to re-create this masterpiece and set out looking for recipes.

I will admit, I was scared.  I had NEVER made a cheesecake before, but I wasn’t about to make the basic version and work my way up, I needed a white chocolate raspberry cheesecake and nothing else would suffice.  I compared tons of recipes looking for a grouping of ingredients that would spell success, and enough instruction to get me there.

Finally I came across the recipe with great reviews that would soon become my own.  My own Perfect White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake.

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As I began dutifully reading the comments and suggestions, anxiety and confusion swept over me.  People are very opinionated about the “proper way” to bake a cheesecake, and the consequences of not doing so seem to be perilous!

After my research I decided to make the following changes to the basic recipe:

First, The crust on bottom I made entirely from crushed up Oreos and half a stick of melted butter.  I mashed up all of the Oreos and butter together with a potato masher, then pressed it into the bottom of my spring form pan.

Rather than make the raspberry sauce from scratch, I purchased seedless raspberry jam and used it instead.  (I also doubled the amount used and saved some for a great topping).

Finally, I would preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and after putting the cheesecake in, reduce it to 250.  After the cheesecake had baked for 1.5 hours, I turned the oven off,  but left the cheesecake inside to SLOWLY cool down.  (Apparently this reduces cracks and cave-ins).

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With all of these adjustments in place, I made my first cheesecake.  I guess the pictures are a bit of a spoiler!  It turned out WELL.  I must tell you, I was VERY surprised, but I must have beginners luck!  I recommend this cheesecake to all of you, it was absolutely amazing!

Have you ever made a cheesecake?  What are you experiences?  Do tell.  I’m dying to hear.

 

 

 

The Never-Ending Knit Scarf!

Beautiful Cables

Beautiful Cables

Oh Christmas knitting, I should know better!  I guess I should preface this by saying that this year I had a plan.  I decided to knit my mother and sisters some fingerless mitts and matching hats (pictures and story to come).  I started these projects FAR in advance because I know, only TOO well, what chaos Christmas knitting always becomes.  And a week or so before Thanksgiving, I was sitting smug on my high-horse, knowing I had only a few rows left to complete ALL of my Christmas knitting.

Then my boyfriend changed everything.  “Do you think you could make me a scarf?”  He asked with those big, blue eyes.  How could I say “no” when he treasures the hat I made him last year?  Now I should tell you, I hate scarves.  Ever since I moved on to more lucrative lace-shawl knitting, I feel like a simple scarf is some-what beneath me.  But Paul wanted a simple, warm scarf.  Just something he could wear when he bikes to work.  How could I resist?

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I decided to try to make the most of the situation, and searched for a pattern that would be mindless, repetitive, and semi-interesting.   I finally decided on the Miranda Cable Scarf by Smariek  (found on Ravelry—of course).  For the most part, I feel like this scarf met my qualifications.  The K2 P2 ribbing was certainly mindless and the cables kept me interested.

Before I knew it, the scarf had reached an entire foot!  And then another foot!  But the thing with scarves is—they have to be around 70 inches!  Arg!  That is why this post is called “The Never-Ending Knit Scarf!”  I’ve started taking this scarf EVERYWHERE and neglected all of my “selfish” knitting, and still, I don’t think it will be done by Christmas!  Oh well, I’m sure my boyfriend won’t care if it’s done late—he’s very sweet and understanding.  But it has becomes my personal mission to put this scarf before everything else.  I maybe have ¼ to go.  Wish me LUCK!

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How are you doing on your Christmas knitting?  Is everything finished?  Do you have a few more rows?  Did you decide not to do any Christmas knitting at all?  Please let me know! I would love to hear. J

Best Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER!

Chewy, gooey, amazing.

Chewy, gooey, amazing.

There is nothing better than a chewy, gooey, lightly crispy, perfect cookie hot out of the oven.  But, as I’m sure you will agree, finding the right recipe can be a challenge.  Some like their cookies crunchy, some like them flaky or cakey, but I like a chocolate chip cookie that barely holds together as it is lifted from the cookie sheet.  A cookie that is slightly browned only at the edges and underneath and is chewy and decadent.

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Thanks to Tessa from the Handle the Heat blog, I have FINALLY found this perfect cookie!  I have made the recipe twice now, and both times I was pleasantly surprised and delighted!

I live in a high altitude area, but I didn’t need to change the recipe at all.  I switched the cookie sheets halfway through baking (total 11 minutes).  When I took them out of the oven, I wasn’t sure if they were done.  I have had this problem before when baking, where it is really hard to tell.  I decided to err on the side of caution and decided to wait and see how they looked after cooling for a few minutes.  To my delight, I discovered that 11 minutes was absolutely perfect for my oven and the cookies were gooey and chewy, but nicely browned on the edges and underneath.

These are easily the BEST chocolate chip cookies I have ever had in my life and I hope you will try them!

Have you ever found a cookie you were very passionate about?  What is your favorite cookie recipe and why?  Please share!  I’d love to hear what you think!

Welcome to the Craftcastic Craft Cast!

Knit from Peaches and Cream cotton.

Knit from Peaches and Cream cotton.

Welcome to my new blog, “Craftcastic.”  As a 26-year old under-employed college graduate, I have some time on my hands.  I spend much of that time cooking, knitting, sewing, singing, and creating.  I’m ready to share my adventures with the world, so join me as we explore the world of creation together!