Monday, December 30, 2013

Rum Balls - The Perfect Holiday Treat!!

Hello Lovelies and Happy Almost New Year!

Let's talk about rum balls for a minute.  I would be willing to bet that most of you haven't had a rum ball in a good long time.  And that's incredibly sad.  For some strange reason, these tasty little vehicles for rum and chocolate consumption aren't as popular as they used to be and if I can be the catalyst for just one change in your lives, I'd be happy if it had something to do with rum balls.  It might be a bizarre aspiration, but I stand by it.

In my post about the holiday soirées I threw this season, I mentioned that I made rum balls.  I would be remiss if I didn't share the recipe here since they are amazing and were a HUGE hit!  And as an added bonus, they're incredibly easy to make!

This is my mom's recipe and is probably from the '70's which itself is vintage.  Perfect!  Although I try to focus on eating clean, after a few of these, you won't care in the slightest that they don't fall into that category!

Rum Balls are a holiday treat that many sources credit Germany for.  I'll buy that.  There are many variations, but as long as you've got some cocoa and rum involved and don't bake them, they count.  Without baking them, the alcohol doesn't dissipate, meaning they're way more fun than most desserts!  This recipe calls for the balls to be rolled in granulated sugar after forming which Wikipedia tells me is a Hungarian tradition.  Salivating after these multicultural boozy treats yet?  Well, then without further ado...


-2 1/2 cups pulverized vanilla wafers (essentially a regular sized box)
-1 cup pulverized walnuts
-1 cup confectioner's sugar
-2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
-3 tablespoons light corn syrup
-1/3 cup rum or bourbon
-Granulated sugar for rolling

1.  Pulverize your vanilla wafers and walnuts and combine in a medium sized bowl.

2.  Using a sieve, add the confectioner's sugar and the cocoa and mix well.

3.  Add the corn syrup and the rum or bourbon and mix well.  (I needed to add additional rum - TERRIBLE turn of events, I know!)  Add sparingly as you don't want the mixture too wet.

4.  Form into 1" balls.  Mine were slightly smaller - ball size comes down to personal preference...  Ummmm....sorry, there's no better way to word that!

5.  Roll in granulated sugar.

I ended up with 70 Rum Balls after sampling a few.  I'm big on Quality Control.

5.  Refrigerate in an airtight container.  While they are delicious, the balls are even better after a few days when the flavors really start to marry.

While I've only made these twice, I'd say you probably want to make them with a buddy.  They are incredibly easy to make (though I think the recipe is one you might want to play with a little bit to get it just how you like it), but the forming of the balls themselves can be somewhat time consuming - especially if you happen to have OCD and want them all uniform like I did.  Admittedly, this could be a personal problem.

I made these tonight for a New Year's Eve party a friend of mine is throwing tomorrow.  In retrospect, I should have made them over the weekend and also made a double batch...I have the sinking suspicion that these aren't going to last very long.  I hope you all have a fabulous time ringing in the new year with some fabulous people and equally fabulous treats (if that's possible)!

Until next year, my Lovelies!!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

It's Still Looking A Lot Like Christmas...

Good Evening Kittens and Happy Boxing Day!

I hope everyone had a lovely Holiday, whatever you were celebrating.  While I am not religious, I enjoy decorating for Christmas as part of the cultural and family traditions that are wrapped up in the holidays.  People of different backgrounds may have different variations on the main theme, but the Christmas tree is an undisputed staple.

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While the tree itself is a staple, everyone has their own preferences as far as size goes.  Some like them tall.

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Some like them wide.

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And some don't particularly care as long as they have a buddy to help them decorate.

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  Take Princess Grace and Prince Albert, for example.

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And still, on the other hand, some like to go it alone.  Like Rita Hayworth.

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And Jayne Mansfield.

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While I went it alone like Jayne and share her love of a good color scheme, my tree was not decorated in pink, but rather in red.  Unlike my usual preference for black with accents of red (I'm sure that information shocks you), my tree is the opposite - mostly red with accents of black.  And, if I do say so myself, it's pretty fabulous!

Unfortunately, with all the red, it's rather difficult to get a photo that clearly shows the beauty of the tree.

Since I favor a nice big, full tree and decorate on my own, I like to have my decorations up for as long as possible.  I put my tree the first week of December and like to have it up through the first of the year.  I consider New Year's Eve to be part of the holiday season and who can't use a little more sparkle through that time?  

With all the other lights out, my tree gives off an amazing red glow!

The history of the Christmas Tree as well as the different amounts of time they are left up is actually quite interesting.  I had fun on this Wikipedia page...maybe some of this will come in handy during a holiday-themed trivia game?

I'm excited to spend another week with my tree.  How long do you keep your tree up?

Since the month of December is almost over, I'm going to stuff as much into the remaining few days of the year, so until next time Kittens!


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

This Charming Dame Lesson 8 - Wrap Your Packages

Gift Giving.

Unless a truly terrible gift giver is involved, the act of giving and receiving gifts makes everyone happy.

While we participate in the act of gift giving all year round, there is no time like the Holidays to shine a light on this practice.  Obviously.  And beyond the gifts themselves and whether or not you have deep-seated beliefs or perhaps even some rage about the commercialization of Christmas and the Holidays, as we all get older, there is a certain joy in simply receiving a gift.  Sometimes what's in the box is irrelevant, someone took the time and effort to  get you something.  And if you're REALLY lucky, it's been wrapped up in pretty paper.

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I'm not quite sure the last time I used a gift bag, but it's safe to say, it's been a few years.  A while back, I decided that I wasn't going to take the easy way out anymore.  That I was actually going to WRAP my presents.  Gasp!  I know!  WHY make more work for myself??  Well, to me, there is something infinitely more special about a present that someone has taken the time to actually wrap as opposed to just stuffing it into a bag.  After wrapping a package and tying it up with some ribbon, it not only makes the recipient feel good to get it, but their reaction and the the fact that you are giving them the experience of untying the ribbon and actually unwrapping the package is like a little bonus.  The whole process adds to the whole experience and, selfishly, it makes me feel good to be able to do that.

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Don't misunderstand, whether they are on or under the tree (the different versions of I'll Be Home For Christmas don't always agree), truly any gift is appreciated.

Be it large or small, on the beach or in a living room, in a box or in a bag...

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Also a pile of wrapped boxes just look so much more polished than a pile of bags.  And can be easier to transport.

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Here are just a few of the beautiful packages I've gifted this year.  How polished do these look??  I was quite proud of some of these!  (Alright, I might be tooting my own horn just a little...)

I just gave this one in our department gift exchange at work.  I thought that it turned out quite well, but was truly impressed with myself when everyone thought this had been professionally wrapped.  That wouldn't have happened with a bag...

And having some help is always nice.

When you take the time to actually wrap something, it's so nice to receive a wrapped gift yourself.  How cute is this owl wrapping paper on my Christmas gift from my friend Kim??

Your packages don't have to be overly elaborate with pine cones and pieces of shrubbery and handmade ornaments.  Some nice paper, carefully wrapped, with a ribbon is more than fine.  You're already not taking the easy way out, no need to go overboard!

When was the last time you wrapped a present?  Perhaps you'll consider doing that the next time you reach for a gift bag...

Happy Holidays and Happy Gifting!

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Merry Fabulous Holiday Soirée with Apple Cidercars!

Hello Lovelies and almost Merry Christmas!

During the first two weeks of December, I hosted two holiday events at my place.  While I was too busy with the hustle and bustle for the family Advent Party to take even ONE photo, I did snap a few of the hors d'oeuvres for my Holiday Soirée the following week.  Since my little cocktail party was a week after the Advent Party, I was able to use that as a way to gauge what worked and what didn't in terms of food and drink.  Thankfully, EVERYTHING worked, so I set essentially the same table and had the same results - more specifically that there was not much left by the end...

I seem to be gaining notoriety for my mushroom dishes and my stuffed mushrooms have been a HUGE success each time I've made them.  At both parties, all the mushrooms were demolished and the platter looked like it had been licked clean!  Perhaps I should make a double batch next time around?

Also a huge success?  My goat cheese logs.  I had been throwing the idea of making cheese balls around and then saw a goat cheese log rolled in chopped pistachios and dried cranberries.  I decided not to wrap one log in both as I'd seen on Pinterest, but to deconstruct it a bit and make two separate rolls - one with pistachios and one with cranberries.  They were delicious, easy to make, and looked incredibly festive!

Personally, I feel that no party is complete without some dessert and coffee.  The rumballs and traditional German Christmas cookies, compliments of Oma, were a huge hit at both parties as well!

While I'd like to share the recipes for the mushrooms and the rumballs here, I thought I would first share the incredible cocktail that's been a hit with everyone who's tried it.

The Apple Cidercar from Williams-Sonoma is a sidecar made with apple cider.  And it's delicious!

The original recipe calls for apple cider concentrate, but since that's difficult to find, I made my own by boiling down a bottle of apple cider.

I wasn't paying attention to how long this process took, but I reduced the cider to about 30% of the original amount.

The ingredients:

-5 oz. apple cider concentrate
-5 oz. water
-3 oz. brandy
-5 oz. Cointreau or triple sec
-2 oz. lemon juice

Mix everything together in an ice-filled shaker and serve.  These can be mixed up hours before actually serving.  I forgot to add the water, but since I don't think my homemade concentrate was as potent as actual concentrate would have been and it was sitting on ice for a bit, it was quite tasty!

If your cocktail is too sweet, you can always add more brandy.  And if, like me, you couldn't find the concentrate, you can have quite the good time by experimenting with these ingredients and their measurements!!

If you were looking for something special to make for a party or celebration you might have in the next week or so, I would HIGHLY recommend this one!

Cheers, Lovelies!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Everyone's Getting Dolled Up For The Holidays!!

Good Evening Kittens!

The Holiday Party Season is in full-swing and I'm sure that many of you have already attended or hosted a few parties.  Chances are, many of you will be celebrating with friends or family tonight as well.  And probably getting all dolled up to do so.

While I will be donning a fabulous wrap dress and red tulle petticoat tonight, I thought I would show off my very fashionable little man.  My lovely friend Brianne gave him an early Christmas present and he's been quite the little dapper gentleman all season!

He received a festive sparkly red collar with a little bell on it.  You'd think he'd hate it, but I think he realizes how good he looks, so he's fine with it.

While Port is most certainly dressed for the occasion, he will not be attending any soirées.  He wishes you a fun and safe evening!

Happy Celebrating!