Macaroni and Cheese

I have a cold.
It’s freezing cold outside.
It’s almost 2012.

Excuses, excuses.  Oh heck, I’m in the mood for comfort food and that’s all there is to it.

Cheesy.  Creamy.  Gooey.  Buttery.   Macaroni and Cheese.  I don’t know if there are more words I can type to describe such deliciousness.

Once you make homemade macaroni and cheese, you will never go back to the boxed stuff.  Sure it takes a few extra minutes but believe me, the end result is worth the effort.

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Vanilla Extract

This year I got a little bit fancy with my food gifts.  I did make the normal baked goods but then, thanks to my little friend named “Pinterest,” I stumbled upon a fun project.

I decided to try my hand at homemade vanilla extract and I gotta say, it was SUPER fun and SUPER easy!  And, bonus… my family and friends love it!

You start like this…

You will need about 24 vanilla beans, which you can purchase here.  You will also need 12, 4 oz. jars, again, purchase here.  Lastly, you need a big ol’ bottle of vodka.

Cut each vanilla bean in half lengthwise and then in half again crossways (so you have 4 pieces).  Put 8 pieces (the equivalent of 2 whole beans) into each jar.  Pour vodka into each bottle.  This process goes smoother if you use a funnel or a liquid measuring cup.  Twist the cap on and that’s it!  You’re done!

The longer they sit the better, but they have to set for at LEAST a month.  So, it’s a good idea to label the bottles so you know when it’s ready to use.  Vanilla doesn’t expire so you can use it all year long!

My good friend Nikki, over at Pennies on a Platter, made a great downloadable label for these jars, which you can find here.

Vanilla extract makes a great gift any time of year, not just Christmas.  Valentines day, birthdays, housewarming gift, host/hostess gift or just because!

Buckeyes

I have fun memories of visiting my dad’s parents at Christmas time!  They had this big, old house and I remember thinking it was so cool that the doors had old keyholes.  They had a basement and I had never seen a basement before so I thought my grandparents must live in some kind of mansion because NO ONE in Texas had THREE floors!  There was a huge hill behind their house that went down to the barn and we would sled down that hill all day with my cousins.  My grandma would spend hours in the kitchen making all kinds of delicious things but the one thing I remember most was the BUCKEYES.

It’s called a “buckeye” because this candy resembles the nuts of a buckeye tree, which is the state tree of Ohio.  It is a sweet confection of peanut butter, powdered sugar and butter dipped in chocolate.  They are sweet, sweet, sweet!  One or two of these puppies, and you are on your way to a sugar coma.  But, it’s worth it because it’s the holidays and you only have them once a year.

As I am getting ready to go home to Texas for Christmas, I can only hope that when I arrive, my grandma will have a fresh batch of buckeyes sitting on the counter.

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White Trash

Have you made all of your Christmas giveaway goodies?  Let’s check the list:

  • fudge
  • peppermint bark
  • sugar cookies
  • gingerbread cookies
  • chocolate covered pretzels
  • white trash

What?  What’s that you said?  What’s white trash?

Oh, only the yummiest, most addictive stuff in the world!

Make sure you read the fine print warning that comes with this sweet treat before reaching for that first fistful:

Warning:  The candy you are about to consume is extremely sweet and extremely addictive.  Over consumption of this product can lead to impairment of your mind, due to an extreme sugar high.  This impairment may cause you dance like a nutcracker or jump around like a crazy lord-a-leaping.  Proceed with caution.

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