Natalie: Eight Months

Natalie 8 Months

December is always such a whirlwind month with Christmas. This month was so busy, but also full of fun things for this little bug! She’s been standing up every chance she gets. She loves crawling up to coffee tables and pulling herself up to see what’s on the table. We’ve been trying to be extra careful with small things like pieces of food or little toys. She’s also been trying to move herself along and will try standing against the ottoman to moving herself over about a foot to the couch. She definitely wants to walk!

Natalie took her first plane ride to Cleveland last week to celebrate her baptism and Christmas with my family. She did okay on the plane. She really wanted to get down and move around and spent a lot of the flights pushing off of me. Of course, she was also really tired. She fell asleep on me a few times, but they were all really short naps. Really though, she behaved pretty much like I expected her to so I can’t really complain! She loved meeting more family including her great-grandparents which was such a treat for me! The 3-hour time change is obviously throwing us off a bit. I tried to keep her on Pacific-time which worked pretty well.

Gingerbread Cake Pops

Gingerbread Cake Pops

Remember that gingerbread cake I posted a couple of weeks ago? What I didn’t tell you guys in the post was that the first time I made it, it was kind of a disaster. I had accidentally set my oven temperature a bit higher and was not patient enough when I tried to transfer the cake out of the pan and it completely fell apart on me. Ugh!

I’m not a baker and this is totally the perfect example of why! Ha. Anyway, I tasted the cake and kept thinking, hey, this is really delicious despite the fact that it’s in a bunch of pieces. What better way to use up crumbled cake than in a cake pop?!

Gingerbread Cake Pops

I definitely do not consider myself to be a cake pop expert, but I did my research and learned one important tip in making perfect cake pops. Many people add way too much frosting to their cake pops which results in the cake pop falling off the sticks. If you have a really moist cake, you likely won’t need much frosting. I tested this out when making these and tried rolling them into a ball without any frosting and found that they held their shape pretty decently, so I only added about 1/3 cup of frosting to these with about 3 cups of crumbled gingerbread cake.

In the directions, I placed a link to my gingerbread cake recipe if you want to use it to make the cake pops, however, if you have a favorite gingerbread cake recipe or even if you want to use a boxed mix, feel free to save yourself some time! I dipped these in some white chocolate and then covered them in festive sugar! These cake pops are so much fun and people of all ages love them!

Gingerbread Cake Pops

Sausage and Pepper Breakfast Casserole

Sausage and Pepper Breakfast Casserole

What do you guys eat for breakfast on Christmas morning? Is it a big deal in your house? I love making a special breakfast for Christmas morning. It’s the perfect way to top off an early morning of opening presents with a huge mug of coffee or hot cocoa. Even better though? Not having to do any work in the morning and being able to enjoy time with family while breakfast is baking away!

Enter the breakfast casserole! You can prep it all the night before, stick it in the fridge overnight, and then transfer it directly to the oven in the morning to bake!

Sausage and Pepper Breakfast Casserole

This breakfast casserole starts with cooking crumbled breakfast sausage along with some bell peppers and onions. Then, you just have to add the frozen potatoes and egg mixture! It couldn’t be easier to prep! I think I prefer savory breakfasts more often than something super sweet so this casserole is perfect if you want to go the savory route!

This casserole is nice and hearty and how perfect are the little red and green specks of bell pepper for Christmas?! You can also add some crumbled feta on top if you also want to work in some white!

Sausage and Pepper Breakfast Casserole

Baked Pears with Oat Streusel Topping

Baked Pears with Oat Streusel Topping

I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for a while because life just got in the way, but it’s SO simple and yummy and the holiday season isn’t over yet, so I’m squeezing them in as a bonus weekend post for you guys! I think pears are totally underrated. Apples always seem to get the spotlight during the fall and holiday season, but pears are so dang good and just perfectly ripe this time of year!

I love making individual desserts and these baked pears make for the best little individual dessert to serve. First, they are a bit lighter than a big heavy piece of cake or pie. Don’t get me wrong, I’m ALL about cake and pie, but sometimes after a really big meal, it’s nice to just finish with something lighter.

Baked Pears with Oat Streusel Topping

These couldn’t be easier to make! The trick is to find pears that are not super hard, but also not super ripe. If you try to use really ripe pears for this recipe, they may come out mushy after baking. I like to look for pears that are just lightly soft to the touch. Then I cut them in half, scoop a bit out, and brush them in cinnamon butter and then they are stuffed with a totally delicious oat streusel topping and baked! Need another reason to make these? Your house is going to smell AMAZING while these guys are baking. The oat topping gets nice and crispy on the outside, but is soft in the middle.

After baking, I just drizzled some caramel sauce over mine, but whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream would be even better!

Baked Pears with Oat Streusel Topping

Soft and Chewy Snickerdoodles

Soft and Chewy Snickerdoodles

It’s cookie season and if you are still considering what to cookies to make to add to your cookie tray, snickerdoodles are always a good choice! Snickerdoodles are simple cookies and may not seem all that impressive, but they are indeed a group favorite and they can be tricky to get right! I like my snickerdoodles just like I prefer, well, all my cookies…thick, soft, and chewy. I’m just not a fan of really thin crispy cookies. No, I say!

Soft and Chewy Snickerdoodles

In my humble opinion though, these snickerdoodles are everything a snickerdoodle should be. They have that classic tangy flavor thanks to the cream of tartar, an important ingredient in traditional snickerdoodle cookies. To give the cookies their thickness, I use a bit more flour in this recipe. The other secret to soft, pillowy snickerdoodles is the bake time. I bake mine for about 10 minutes, this is just enough time for the cookie to bake through and maintain that doughy texture. If you overbake them, they will have a crispier texture. You do not have to chill the dough. I did not chill my dough when baking the batch photographed in this post, but you can chill it if needed and you may end up with a slightly thicker cookie, which is never a bad thing!

Soft and Chewy Snickerdoodles

Of course, before baking, you will roll them in cinnamon sugar, and I also add a bit of cinnamon to the dough. I love these cookies because they are so simple, but also so dreamy. And even better, they are so easy to make! I had them ready for the oven in about 20 minutes. I should also add that these cookies freeze really well so you can make them in advance until you are ready to serve them!

Mini Bacon Cheddar Cheese Balls

Mini Bacon Cheddar Cheese Balls

It’s holiday party time, friends! The parties have begun and it’s time to start planning your menus! I feel like I’m always invited to a lot of pot lucks this time of year so I love having lots of good appetizer recipes on hand. You guys love my Cranberry Pecan and White Cheddar Cheese Ball seeing as it’s one of the most popular recipes on the blog so I decided to do a twist on that one with these mini-sized cheese balls!

Mini Bacon Cheddar Cheese Balls

The mixture for these is quite simple, just cheddar cheese, cream cheese, some walnuts, chives, and then instead of cranberries, I coated these guys in bacon bits! I love the added crunch from the bacon bits. Also, how festive are the red and green colors?! If you don’t want to do bacon bits, you can use cooked chopped bacon. Or, if you want to keep these vegetarian-friendly, dried cranberries or currants work well too!

I used pretzel sticks to serve these and actually didn’t mind not eating them with other crackers, the pretzel stick was enough for me, but you could also serve these with crackers if you wanted to.

Mini Bacon Cheddar Cheese Balls