Irish Soda Bread

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Happy St. Patrick's Day! In honour of this Celtic holiday and my heritage, I'm celebrating. I don't go out drinking green beer or anything, but rather, wear green and feel lucky. Oh and like all holidays, I like to eat so I also like to have some traditional Irish food. Today's post celebrates Irish culture as it's all about Irish soda bread! It's quick, easy, and very tasty. You'll be able to knock out this bread quickly, which makes it even more appealing. There's also no yeast involved, and the ingredients are very sparse. Once you make it, you'll want to make it all the time! irish soda bread 1

You will need:

3 2/3 cups of flour

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 3/4 cup of buttermilk*

*If you don't have buttermilk, add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar to 1 3/4 cup of milk, and leave it for 5 minutes.

To start, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. In a mixer with a dough hook or a bowl if you're comfortable doing it by hand, add in all of your dry ingredients. Let them combine together, then add the buttermilk. Mix until everything comes together and starts looking like a ball of dough. You'll need to knead the bread for about a minute or so. Do this on a floured surface as the dough is quite sticky. Once it's shaped into a circle, cut a cross into the centre. The cross should extend to almost the outside edges, and should be fairly deep. Bake in the oven for about 20-15 minutes or until its golden brown.

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This bread is best enjoyed warm with butter or as an accompaniment to a stew or soup. You can also add in a handful of raisins as that is also very traditional. This bread is definitely a crowd pleaser and perfect for a St. Patrick's Day feast!

(Kiss me I'm Irish! haha)

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Twelve Days of Baking: Upside Down Pineapple Cake

Merry Christmas! I hope everyone is having a wonderful day with your friends and family! And that you're eating delicious food! Today is the last day of the twelve days of baking, and it is featuring the festive upside down pineapple cake! IMG_4670

You will need:

1 1/2 cups of flour

1 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon of baking powder

2 eggs

1/2 cup of milk

1/2 cup of butter

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1 can of sliced pineapple

8 maraschino cherries

1/4 cup of brown sugar

To start, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cream the eggs with the sugar. Add in the flour, baking powder, milk, and vanilla extract.

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Grease your springform pan, and sprinkle the brown sugar in one layer along the bottom. You need to coat it very well. Add your pineapple slices (7 around, and 1 in the centre). Pop the cherries in the centre of each piece of pineapple. IMG_4649

Pour the batter over the top of the pineapple and cherries, and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until dry in the centre. Let it cool before you remove it from the pan.

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Very carefully, flip it upside down (hence the upside down pineapple cake). The top will be nice and caramelized, while the cake is fluffy and delicious. Serve and enjoy!

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I'm serving this cake for my Christmas meal, and I'm sure everyone will be impressed! I hope you have enjoyed the Twelve Days of Baking on my blog. Let me know what you think in the comments. Enjoy your Christmas and you'll be hearing from me soon!

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Twelve Days of Baking: Shortbread Cookies

This is the 11th post of my series of the 12 days of baking. Today's post is all about shortbread cookies! With this recipe you can leave them as is, or add in whatever you desire! IMG_4710

You will need:

2 cups of flour

1 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of salt

1 cup of butter, softened.

To start, mix the butter with the sugar so it can form a creamy mixture. IMG_4561

Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. The mixture will become a little hard to stir by hand so I recommend using an electric mixer.

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From here you can divide the mixture into 3 dough balls. I added a 1/4 cup of earl grey tea into one ball. Another ball I added 1/4 cup of chopped white chocolate and a 1/4 cup of chopped dried cranberries. The last one I added into a 1/4 cup of a chopped up skor chocolate bar. Add whatever you please, or leave them plain! They will be delicious no matter what.

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Each ball needs to be turned into a log, and then must be wrapped in cling wrap. Before you can cook these cookies you need to keep them in the freezer for a minimum of 1 hour (they can be left for 3 months in the freezer). Once you're ready to bake your cookies, cut each log into about 12-15 1 inch coins.

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Bake them for 15-20 minutes or until they're golden on the bottom. Serve and enjoy! IMG_4697IMG_4707

The last day of baking is coming tomorrow and I have to say its a good one! Enjoy your Christmas eve!

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Twelve Days of Baking: Caramel Chocolate Brownies

Merry Christmas Eve! Today is a special day because there will be TWO baking posts! One is this post, and another will be coming this evening. The last day of baking will be tomorrow, Christmas Day! (And that's a good one!) Today's post is all about caramel chocolate brownies! They're easy, delicious, and oh so addictive!

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You will need:

12 ounces of chocolate (chips, squares, or anything you have)

1/4 cup of butter, softened

3/4 cup of sugar

2 eggs

1 cup of flour

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of vanilla

Caramel (homemade, store-bought or even a can of dulce de leche)

To start, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Melt your chocolate on a double boiler. Mix your butter with the sugar, and add the rest of the ingredients aside from the chocolate and caramel together. Mix thoroughly. Add the chocolate in slowly, and once again, mix thoroughly.

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Pour your brownie batter into a square pan. IMG_4553

Add the caramel (I used homemade) and make swirls through the batter with it. IMG_4556IMG_4558

Pop them in the oven for about 20-30 minutes or until the centre is dry. Let them cool, cut into squares, and serve!

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These are highly addictive. I am eating one as typing up this post. Uber delicious, uber easy, and uber special with the caramel!

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Twelve Days of Baking: Cinnamon Swirl Layer Cake

As Christmas approaches, it's nice to have an easy recipe that you can count on to make for your guests. The Cinnamon Swirl Layer Cake is this. And sometimes you just need a piece of cake and a warm cuppa on a cold night, and this cake can aid in that too. IMG_4494

You will need:

1 1/2 cups of flour

1 cup of sugar (+ 1 tablespoon)

1 teaspoon of baking powder

2 eggs

1/2 cup of milk

1/2 cup of butter

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

3 tablespoons of cinnamon

To start, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients together in one bowl. IMG_4458

In another bowl, mix the wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet slowly, and mix thoroughly.

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Grease your cake pan (I used a 7 inch pan), and pour in half of the batter. Mix together the cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of sugar together in a small bowl, and add half of that mixture to the cake batter.

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Pour the rest of the batter on top, and add the rest of the cinnamon sugar to the top. IMG_4463IMG_4465

Pop in the oven for 40-50 minutes or until its golden brown and dry in the centre. IMG_4471

Once cooled, top the cake with powdered sugar and chocolate shavings. You can add more of both to each piece of cake when sliced on a plate. Add some whip cream, and you've made this simple cake fancy! IMG_4506IMG_4525

This cake is great for a party or just to have on hand if you have people dropping by during the holidays. It's delicious, light and fluffy, and the swirl is sure to impress your guests!

More recipes to come!

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Twelve Days of Christmas: Peppermint Hot Chocolate Cookies

Just like the chocolate bark, this recipe is a little bit of a cheat during this time of year. I love baking so I'll always make time for it, but other people have much busier schedules than I do, which means less time for baking. This recipe uses Pillsbury chocolate chip cookie dough, but feel free to adapt your own chocolate chip cookie recipe to it! (I've tried this recipe both ways and it works perfectly with both!) IMG_4474

You will need:

1 roll of Pillsbury cookie dough (or your own recipe)

1 cup of nutella

3 tablespoons of cocoa powder

1 tablespoon of cinnamon

48 mini marshmallows or 12 large marshmallows

A handful of crushed candy canes

To start, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Add the cookie dough, nutella, cocoa powder, and cinnamon into a bowl and mix very well.

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From here, you could easily make little balls and pop them in the oven for double chocolate chip cookies.

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For the peppermint hot chocolate cookies, you'll need to roll them out into little balls first. Once you've done this, squish the balls into flat rounds, and add 2 mini marshmallows or 1/2 of a large marshmallow to each cookie round.

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Enclose the marshmallows inside the dough and make a round ball. Add your crushed candy canes to the top, and pop them in the oven for about 10 minutes.

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These cookies can really impress people because they're stuffed. They're really delicious once out of the oven because the marshmallow is very gooey. Enjoy these cookies with a warm drink or send them as a yummy gift to someone. They're easy, quick, and impressive!IMG_4408

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Check out tomorrow at 7 pm for a new recipe!

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Twelve Days of Baking: Simple Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles are perfect. They're crisp on the outside, and soft and chewy on the inside. Not to mention they're covered in cinnamon and sugar. Just yum. Yum yum yum. I've adapted a traditional snickerdoodle recipe to be easier and quicker, making them the ultimate christmas cookie! IMG_4308

You will need:

2 3/4 cup of flour

1/2 teaspoon of salt

teaspoon of baking soda

1/2 cup of softened butter

1 1/2 cup of sugar (+ 3 tablespoons)

2 eggs

tablespoon of cinnamon (+ 1 teaspoon)

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1/2 cup of shortening

To start, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In one bowl, mix together all of your dry ingredients, except for the extra 3 tablespoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, butter, vanilla extract, and shortening. Slowly add the dry into the wet ingredients, and you have your dough! In a small bowl, add the rest of the sugar and cinnamon. Make little balls of your dough and toss them into the cinnamon sugar mixture.

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Once done, lay them on a baking sheet that's lined with parchment paper, and pop them in the oven for 12 minutes. Once they're out of the oven, place them on a cooling rack so they can stop cooking. Continue this until they're all done. You should get about 3 dozen cookies out of this recipe!

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These cookies had my family going nuts. They're so delicate and delicious, and not overly sweet! Enjoy them with a coffee, tea, or decadent hot chocolate. Give these cookies as a gift or bring them to someone's house, and you'll be sure to become popular; the compliments will be overwhelming!

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Check out days one through six of the twelve days of baking! More recipes to come!

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Twelve Days of Baking: Cherry & Pistachio Chocolate Bark

I love baking, but sometimes you're in a little bit of a hurry or you're feeling a little tired and taking the time to bake isn't really appealing. A solution: chocolate bark! Bark is delicious, easy to make, and can be gifted to those special friends and family of yours during the holiday season. IMG_4230

You will need:

1 cup of chocolate (whatever you have on hand)

1/2 cup of shelled pistachios

1/2 cup of dried cherries

To start, either melt your chocolate in a double boiler or place in the microwave to heat for 30 seconds intervals. Between each interval, stir the chocolate. After about a minute or so, it should be melted to perfection. Add the pistachios and dried cherries and mix very well. Lay out the chocolate mixture onto a board or pan that is lined with parchment paper. Now you have two choices: 1. leave your bark to harden and cool by itself or 2. place in the freezer or fridge. The fridge option will have your bark done within half an hour. Once it has cooled, just break up the bark! You don't need to get fancy as it looks better rustically broken. You can either serve the bark at a party or wrap them up in little baggies with ribbon for your friends and family. It will become a hit! Trust me!

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There are five other days of the twelve days of baking that I suggest you check out!

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Twelve Days of Baking: Festive Sugar Cookies

There's something about sugar cookies that are so festive and christmassy! Especially when you deck them out with icing, sprinkles, gumdrops, and crushed candy canes! Today's recipe is super easy, and so rewarding (well not to your waistline). IMG_4158

You will need:

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To start, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and sugar in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the butter, egg, and vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, and mix thoroughly. Your dough should be soft but a little tough. The toughness allows your cookies to be cut into cute shapes. IMG_4083

Sprinkle either a little bit of flour or icing sugar onto a board, and roll out your dough to about 1/8 inch thick. IMG_4085

Cut your cookies into whatever shapes you like, and pop them into the oven for about 10-15 minutes. The bottom of the cookie should be slightly golden and the tops should be puffed up. Once out of the oven, place your cookies onto a cooling rack to ensure they don't keep cooking. You'll get about four dozen cookies out of this recipe.

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Once cooled, you can ice them with your favourite icing and sprinkles!

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Sugar cookies should be comforting and cute. I added sprinkles, gumdrops, and crushed up candy canes to my cookies for extra yumminess and a bit of fun. These cookies will easily become a go-to for you and your family during the holiday season! IMG_4125IMG_4147

Check out day one, day two, day three, and day four of the twelve days of baking!

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Twelve Days of Baking: Mini S'mores Pies

Today's delicious dessert is miniature s'mores pies! They're super easy, and definitely cute! You'll probably have everything on hand already which makes these little pies very inexpensive. IMG_3970

You will need:

3 tablespoons of melted butter

3/4 cup of crushed graham crackers

4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate

1 tablespoon of sugar

1/3 cup of cream

Mini marshmallows (the more the better!)

To start, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Combine the melted butter with the graham crackers thoroughly. The graham cracker crumbs must be fully coated.

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Separate the graham cracker mixture into muffin tins. Press them into each tin so you can form the crusts of the pies. Bake for about 5-6 minutes.

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On a double boiler, melt the chocolate.IMG_3944IMG_3947

Once the chocolate is melted, add the cream and sugar.

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Mix thoroughly. Once the graham cracker crusts are out of the oven, divide the chocolate mixture into each crust evenly.

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Pop on as many mini marshmallows as you can on each pie, and put back into the oven. IMG_3952

Set your oven on broil to brown up the marshmallows. Keep an eye on them as this shouldn't take more than a minute! After you've taken them out of the oven, let them cool for a minimum of 30 minutes before you try to take them out; they need to harden up!

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They're crisp on the outside and soft and gooey on the inside, making them the perfect combination for a delightful dessert. You can serve these individually with whip cream or ice cream, which will make them extra special!

Check out day one, day two, and day three of my twelve days of baking!

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Twelve Days of Baking: Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

It's the third day of baking, and today we're making flourless peanut butter cookies! They're soft and chewy on the inside and crisp on the outside. Also, they're only made from 3 ingredients! (Woo!) IMG_3819

You will need:

1 cup of peanut butter

1/2 cup of sugar

1 egg

To start, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Mix the peanut butter, sugar, and eggs altogether.IMG_3751

I used a mini ice cream scooper to portion out my cookies, but feel free to just eyeball it!

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Standard peanut butter cookies have a crisscross pattern on top, I just did one set of lines. Make the grooves with the back of a fork.

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Bake for 5-10  minutes or until the bottom is slightly golden. Let them cool and enjoy them with your favourite holiday drink!

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These are super easy, gluten free, and absolutely delicious. They also take no time at all so you can satisfy your cookie cravings quickly! I use these cookies as treats for Mr. Bingley. He can't eat wheat and he loves peanut butter so they're perfect for him, and I'm sure for all the dogs in your life!

If you didn't see day one or day two of the twelve days of baking, check them out!

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Twelve Days of Christmas: 7 Egg Clementine Cake

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... a 7 egg clementine cake! This cake recipe comes from my Nonna so you know its good. It's so light and fluffy, and christmassy! Clementines for me represent Christmas on the whole, which is why I had to add it to this wonderful cake. IMG_4016

You will need:

7 eggs

1 1/2 cups of sugar

1/2 cup of oil

1 1/2 cups of flour

1 pouch of instant cake yeast

Zest and juice from 1 clementine

2 tablespoons of a liquor of your choice (I used strega)

And preferably a high bundt pan

To start, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray your pan with non-stick cooking spray. Mix the 7 eggs on high until they are light and fluffy. Add the sugar slowly, and mix thoroughly. Add the oil and flour and continue to mix. Add the pouch of instant cake yeast and mix on high. Add the zest, juice, and liquor and mix thoroughly. Pour the mixture into your bundt pan, and pop in the oven for 30-40 minutes.

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Try not to open your oven until the cake has fully risen as it is a little delicate. The cake will be golden on top, and dry in the centre.

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To serve, I flipped the cake upside down as the bottom is almost caramelized. I topped the whole cake generously with icing sugar (its snow!), and slices of a clementine. To serve each slice, I sprinkled more icing sugar, added whip cream, and finely grated chocolate on top (any type of chocolate you have on hand will do).

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This cake is super easy and can be transformed into something very fancy for a holiday dinner party or as a hostess gift!

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If you haven't seen yesterday's baked goods, check it out here!

Follow me on instagram @melodyannep and bloglovin! Day three to come tomorrow!

Twelve Days of Baking: Puff Pastry Cinnamon Buns

Get ready for the twelve days of baking! (Except I'm a little late as Christmas is 9 days away, but there will still be 12 recipes!) Every day there will be a new baking post that will be easy, delicious, and low on costs! The first recipe is for my Puff Pastry Cinnamon Buns. They're flaky, buttery, and sweet all in one little bundle. They're also super easy to make, and take less than 30 minutes from start to finish. IMG_3922

You will need:

Puff Pastry (Either homemade or bought). Note Bene: Store bought puff pastry is high quality, already rolled out for you and a cost-effective option.

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cinnamon

1/2 cup of butter, melted.

To start, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and spray your muffin tins with a non-stick cooking spray. Lay your sheets of puff pastry out, and brush on a nice layer of melted butter on each sheet. Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon on top.IMG_3833

Next, tightly roll up the sheets into logs. Divide your logs in halves, then half the halves, and then once again. You'll end up with eight pieces per sheet.

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Add a little bit of melted butter to each muffin tin. Place the puff pastry pieces within the tins and add a little bit more butter and sugar on top of each piece.

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Pop them in the oven for about 10-15 minutes or until they are flaky and golden brown. Once they're out of the oven and cooling, flip them over as the bottom is the part you want to showcase.

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These are great for a party you're hosting or a holiday dinner you're going to. They look fancy and taste even fancier, but are just so easy! You can drizzle on an icing to make them even more fancy.

For the easy icing, mix 1 cup of milk and 1 1/2 cups of icing sugar together. It should become a smooth thick consistency, which is perfect for glazes.

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Try them out this holiday season, and they will quickly become your go-to dessert! Stay tuned for tomorrow's day of baking!

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Tis the Season for Decoration!

Happy December everyone! Hopefully you're getting into the spirit of the holidays! I've had my Christmas tree up for a couple of weeks now and it just adds so much warmth to my tiny apartment. I had to buy a new tree as its my first Christmas in a new place. I was scouting for the perfect tree that was small enough for my small condo but also substantial enough to look like a regular tree. I found it and you won't believe the bargain it was!IMG_3742

If you need a tree of my description, go to Target. This tree is six feet tall and forty inches wide. It fits perfectly in the tight space but is really hardy too. It came with 275 lights on it that glow ever so nicely! And it was only $30! That's with tax and everything included. It was $60 originally, then went down to $35 and I had a coupon for 20% off. It's the deal of the year. I'm so happy with it, and to be honest, I don't think it looks like a $30 tree.

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(Don't mind my yucky paper blinds! Since I will be on break very soon, I will finally have time to go pick out my blinds!)IMG_3597IMG_3610IMG_3601

Let me know what you think of my tree! More holiday decor posts to follow!

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Thanksgiving Yumminess

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! Hopefully you all enjoyed yourselves and your tummies did too! (I know I did) My long weekend consisted of parties, family time, birthday time, and lots of food! The food is obviously the most important part of Thanksgiving, aside from your family! To make a foolproof and easier meal for yourself, start ahead of time. My mom is the turkey master! She cooked the turkey the night before with loads of butter, beer, and wine among other things. After cooking, she sliced it up and let it rest overnight in its own juices. Next day, she heated it up for lunch and it was a hit! We served the turkey with roasted garlic mashed potatoes, roasted veggies, corn, cranberry sauce, gravy, salad, and some brisket. We also had gnocchi and lasagna to start (we're Italian okay?).

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After lunch we had cheese and fruit. I made a cheese platter that included brie, grand padano and asiago with nuts, dried fruit, and crackers. I had also olive tapanade, red pepper jelly, and apricot jam. The fruit was all seasonal. IMG_2940

And after all of that food, we had dessert! Homemade tirasmu cake, vegan and gluten free pumpkin pie, apple pie, and my homemade birthday cake!

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Also, make the table look special while not spending very much. Set your table with the best you have, make it look coordinated, and add some candles, flowers or pumpkins as a centrepiece! Inexpensive and makes a huge difference! IMG_2843

Keep all of this in mind when planning your next holiday at your house, and remember, easy and simple is always better when hosting. More posts coming soon!