Monday, December 3, 2012

I'm Back....and boy do I have a lot to say!


Welcome to the month of Christmas!

The older I get, the more lazy relaxed I get about the Holiday goings on.  I love to think each year will be the year that I have the magazine Christmas tree.  Usually it doesn't happen and I'm totally fine with it.  But each year (after Christmas) I get a few more ornaments in the style and color I'm going for so one year I'll get there.  And I'm sure I won't be any happier than I am already.  It doesn't have to be perfect.  We also drink lots of hot cocoa during December.  I'm drinking some right now, as a matter of fact.  With a dash of cinnamon.  Yum!  Cocoa makes everything better.  Especially when topped with whipped cream, yes?

Yes, Christmas is pretty special at our house.  I may have told you this before, but one year, Superman and the kids secretly put up and decorated the Christmas tree BEFORE Halloween!  Yeah.  I wasn't very happy about that one.  I like each holiday to have it's own celebration, people!  So it really ticks me off when Thanksgiving pretty much gets the brush-off in the retail world.  I mean like REALLY.

So anyway, now that Thanksgiving is over, I can say that I'm ready to get the Christmas season underway!

How about a simple, yet cute, neighbor gift idea?  This would also be a fun teacher gift if you're looking for ideas for that.

A year or two ago, I stumbled upon a candied almond recipe that sounded too tempting not to try.  And try I did.  With success!  It's so easy, but tastes very gourmet.

Let me tell you, if you make this (and you most definitely should), while the almonds are roasting in the oven, your kitchen will smell like Christmas at the mall!

So here's the recipe: (and don't complain to me when you gain 5 pounds in an hour because you just can't stop eating them!)

Candied Cinnamon & Sugar Almonds (makes 2 cups)
1 egg white
1 tsp cold water
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups unsalted whole almonds (I get the big bags at Costco)
1/2 C packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a large (11x17") rimmed baking sheet with foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, beat the egg white until stiff peaks form (about 4-5 minutes). Add the water and vanilla and beat again until stiff. Add the almonds to the mixture and stir gently to coat the almonds with the egg white mixture.
In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. Add this mixture to the almonds and stir gently to mix well.
Pour the almonds out onto the prepared baking sheet and carefully spread them out into a somewhat even layer. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for about an hour, stirring/flipping every 15 minutes, until the almonds look and feel dry.
To check to see if the almonds were done, I carefully picked one up in my fingers and when I pressed around it, I didn't get any wet sugar on my hands. The coating on the almonds felt hard and crunchy.
Cool completely before serving or packaging.
NOTE:  While these are super delicious the day you make them, they're even more delicious a day or two later, provided they last that long!

Now how about a card and cute packaging to go along with your delicious almonds?
The card started as a We R Memory Keepers stocking shape in the Silhouette store.  I copied and pasted the shape and made a card base out of it.  Then I cut the front out again using patterned papers from the Yuletide collection.  I embellished it with a crochet doily from the Yuletide line, Stickles, and a stamped label from Stampin' Up Itty Bitty Banners.

The packaging is just a leftover mini paint can that once housed some chipboard alphas.  I just decorated it using We R/Silhouette snowflake shapes and the Yuletide paper, plus some ribbon (you can see the lid a little better in the photo above).  I cut thin, thin strips of patterned paper, crumpled them up, and placed them in the bottom of the can. Then I placed a few of the almonds in a cellophane bag and tucked them safe and sound inside their pretty new home.

So there you have it.  A simple yet delicious gift and I tell you, if you give these this year, you'll be a favorite on everyone's list!
Check back tomorrow when I show some of the Christmas cards I've been working on lately.
Thanks for joining me at the Table today!

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