Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Bellini Time

My Christmas holiday was spent with family, surrounded by my favorite foods and the sound of joyous laughter. A spontaneous addition to the holiday meal was some decadent mango and strawberry bellinis, one of my absolute favorite drinks. I created my own puree with frozen fruit, but fresh fruit can also be used. The bellinis came out amazing and added a festive touch to my holiday dinner.

Homemade Fruit Puree:

1 bag (10-12 oz.) fresh fruit or thawed frozen fruit
1 cup sugar

Put fruit in bowl and drizzle with a pinch of sugar. Let sit for 5-7 minutes. Pour into blender, add sugar and puree until fruit turns into a thick liquid and sugar is completely dissolved.

For bellinis, pour ice into martini shaker, add 1/4 cup puree and your favorite champagne to shaker. Cover, shake and pour into chilled glass. Love <3

Thawed mango with a sugar drizzle
Puree preparation
Yum <3
A little bottle of bubbly

Friday, December 24, 2010

Peppermint Bark Swirl

I can proudly say I have finished all of my Christmas shopping and am ready for the hustle of the holiday. Tomorrow, my family will come over and we will spend the day talking, laughing and sharing memories. One thing my family truly enjoys is a good meal and some amazing desserts. My mother and grandmother have always made the most wonderful holiday meals, so I am very excited to continue this tradition. Today I made some pretty peppermint bark to share with holiday guests. It is so easy to make, fun to eat and makes a great, inexpensive gift. I used this recipe and added my own little twist by swirling in some melted semi-sweet chocolate with a toothpick. I can honestly say this is one treat that made my day.

White chocolate chips
Melted goodness
Semi-sweet chocolate swirls
Solid peppermint bark right out of the refrigerator
Ready to share with my family and friends

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gingerbread Hideaway

Candy corn door

Snow as soft as marshmallow

Peppermint borders
 Right now, California is literally under a cloud full of rainwater. The sun has not came out to say hello since Thursday and it is just not something I am used to. After trying countless ways to occupy myself indoors,  finally decided to venture out an finish my Christmas shopping. Amongst the hustle and bustle of the holiday shoppers, I found the perfect gift to hand out this year, something that will put a smile on everyone's face. I found some unbelievably cute gingerbread house kits for $8-10 dollars at my local craft store. At home, I have made it a tradition to make one of these darling little houses every Christmas holiday season. There's nothing better than putting on some Christmas music and putting one of these together. Last year I gave them away as gifts and my friends had so much fun with them; this year I plan on doing the same.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Pink Peppermint Ice Cream

Decembers in California never fail to surprise me; one day it is 85 degrees outside, the next day the rain comes pouring down. I like to stay in the holiday spirit no matter the weather, so I decided to duplicate one of my favorite holiday treats, pink peppermint ice cream. This ice cream is served at the Gibson Girl ice cream parlor inside the Disneyland theme park and is the most perfect blend of sweet and minty. It is absolutely heavenly to look at and even better to eat. The pretty pink coloring gives the ice cream a festive appearance while the candy cane pieces add a fun texture. Here is my adaptation of the recipe:

3 cups of heavy whipping cream
1 and 1/2 cups of finely ground sugar
1 cup whole milk
a pinch of salt
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
4 drops of red food coloring
1 pack of candy candy

1. Use a whisk to mix cream, sugar, milk, salt, peppermint extract and food coloring until mix is frothy. Cover and refrigerate for two hours.

2. After two hours, remove from refrigerator and pour mix into pre-frozen ice cream maker. Let the ice cream maker do the work for about 25 minutes or until ice cream rises to the top.

3.Once ice cream looks about ready, add crushed candy cane pieces to ice cream. Make sure to save some crushed pieces to use as toppings too. Mix for 5 minutes.

4. Remove ice cream from maker and scoop into a freezer-safe bowl with a lid. Cover and freeze, usually overnight.

5. Remove ice cream and top with crushed candy cane pieces. Enjoy.

Peppermint prep
All ingredients, whisked together
Crushed candy cane pieces
Ice cream dream
Love <3

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's The Holiday Season

Indoor Christmas lights
After enjoying three amazing days of warm weather, I woke up to a thick cast of drizzle this morning. I was entirely unmotivated to do anything but to open my window and dive further into the bed covers. Since Christmas is just over a week away, my early morning laziness was also a great time to plan some dishes for the upcoming holiday festivities. I can hardly wait to make and taste these amazing recipes. I plan on sharing each one of these with you. On my list:

1.  Tasty apple and cheddar crostini appetizers using this recipe. It looks unbelievably quick and easy to make, plus the presentation is beautiful. And extra sharp cheddar is one of my favorite indulgences.

2. Ina Garten's roasted shrimp cocktail always makes me smile and the Barefoot Contessa can do no wrong in the kitchen. I think this one will be a hit for years to come.

3. A Christmas candy that pairs two of my favorites together, white chocolate and peppermint. This recipe will allow me to give some tasty gifts to my family and friends. I plan to add a dark chocolate drizzle on the top.

4. Growing up in Southern California, Disneyland has always been a favorite place of mine. During the holidays, it is even more magical because the ice cream parlor on Main Street always serves pink peppermint ice cream. The heavenly flavor of peppermint with little candy cane pieces is like no other ice cream in the world. I hope my version of this Christmas classic tastes just as amazing.

5. For my grandfather, bread pudding during the holidays is a must. He is 82, but his eyes still sparkle like a child at Christmas. This dish is always a favorite, mainly because of the hot vanilla sauce that covers it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Winter Wonderland

There's something about the atmosphere during the holiday season that makes it a little more warm and cozy, no matter where you are. Even though California is enjoying 80 degree temperatures right now, I still get into the spirit of the season. I spent the weekend decorating my house for Christmas and doing a little baking on the side. Christmas cookies are one of my favorite parts of the holidays because it takes me back to my childhood, making cookies with my mom and sister. Mexican wedding cookies have always been on the top of my cookie favorites, mainly because they are fun to eat, fun to make and covered in powdered sugar. Who can resist that, right? I used this recipe and my cookies came out just as tasty as I remember them.

*On a sidenote, the recipe called for the cookies to bake for 35 minutes, I cut it down to 30 minutes and they came out perfecto!

 Dry ingredients mixed together first.
Room temperature butter to be added in pieces.
Use your hands to mix ingredients. It's fun.

Warm cookies

Get ready to dive into the powdered sugar. The cookies, of course.
Voila! Aren't they cute?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Follow the Cheery Brick Road

Welcome to Cheery Tree Lane! 2010 is almost gone and 2011 is right upon us. The New Year is like a breath of fresh air, a clean slate, a chance to start over. I decided to start my New Year a little bit early because I am so excited to start writing and sharing. This blog is my own little corner of happiness, let it be yours too.