Peppermint Bark Brown Sugar Lip Scrub (+ GIVEAWAY)

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Dixie Crystals. I received products in exchange for this post. They also supplied the items for the giveaway. All opinions are my own.

Peppermint Bark Brown Sugar Lip Scrub

This past week, I started wrapping Christmas gifts to place under the tree. The day after Thanksgiving, my husband took down the gift wrapping boxes from the attic, and I just had a wrapping spree. Gift wrapping takes me a while, because I try to make the packaging as pretty as possible, just because I enjoy the heck out of it. Wire ribbons, festive paper, gift tags…so fun! When I was younger, I remember watching my mom meticulously wrap presents for others. She would make these gorgeous bows, to where they were almost too pretty to unwrap. She is so skilled at it…she can wrap nearly anything. I’m pretty sure that she would put mall gift wrappers to shame. :-P

When I wrap gifts, I like to add a fun little gift on the outside, whether it’s a candy cane, lip gloss or a mini ornament. It just adds a little something to the gift, and it’s easy to tie or tape on. This year, these brown sugar lip scrubs are going to be part of our gifts. The chocolate and mint are just a perfect combination for the holidays, and with brown sugar, along with coconut oil, they not only exfoliate, they also moisturize like crazy!

Dixie Crystals has so many great homemade sugar scrub recipes, and since I gifted peppermint sugar scrub as a gift last year, I wanted to go with a lip scrub this year. With the winter as crazy cold as it’s been so far (it reached the 20s a couple of weeks ago), this lip scrub is definitely needed.

Peppermint Bark Brown Sugar Lip Scrub

I placed the lip scrub in these mini (food-safe) glass jars that I found at a craft store. I then placed them in these large, ornament shaped plastic balls that you can pop open, and on the inside, I added thin, red tinsel and this leafy looking pipe cleaner with the lip scrub jar. Festive, right?

This brown sugar lip scrub couldn’t be easier to make. You just throw the ingredients in a bowl, mix and add to clean, food-safe jars of your choice.

Peppermint Bark Brown Sugar Lip Scrub
Source: slightly adapted from Dixie Crystals

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups Dixie Crystals packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. mint extract
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl, until everything is combined well.
  2. Place in containers, and gift! They keep for 2 months, when kept in a cool, dry place.
  3. To use, place a small amount on the lips and gently swirl around in a circular motion for at least a minute. When done, rinse the scrub off in cool water or if you want a sugar-y treat, you can lick this off, too.

The generous folks at Dixie Crystals are offering a lucky reader of The Nifty Foodie the ultimate sugar prize package! :-) As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big fan of Dixie Crystals’ products, so this is perfect if you enjoy baking!

The prize includes:

  • Five 4-lb. bags of Dixie Crystals granulated sugar
  • Six 2-lb. bags of Dixie Crystals light brown sugar
  • Six 2-lb. bags of Dixie Crystals dark brown sugar
  • Six 2-lb. bags of Dixie Crystals powdered sugar

To enter, use the Rafflecopter widget below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: This giveaway is supplied by Dixie Crystals and is open to readers in the continental US only. Entries will be accepted until December 11th, 2014 at 11:59am (central standard time). Winner will be emailed (make sure you leave an email address in the form), and will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.

 

Raspberry, Pistachio & Dark Chocolate Rugelach

Disclosure: I received a copy of “Baking Chez Moi”, as well as a gift card and coupons for ingredients used in this recipe, in exchange for this sponsored post. All opinions are 100% my own.

Raspberry, Pistachio & Dark Chocolate Rugelach

So, this past long weekend threw me way off. Our house is decorated for Christmas, and it’s officially the holiday season. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but it really doesn’t feel like December. Sure, the UPS guy probably knows us on a first name basis by now, and my dog is randomly bringing me ribbon scraps, but it just doesn’t FEEL like the holiday season. I’m sure the 70 degree weather outside isn’t helping right now, either. Where did the year go?!

I’m actually fairly behind on things. By now, I would normally have my homemade holiday gifts planned out, but I haven’t even made the cookie dough yet to place in the freezer..heck, I haven’t even chosen the recipes to make! Yikes. I still need to do that…haha.

In the meantime, I’m still baking on the weekends (and my/my husband’s coworkers are loving it). I was recently sent a copy of Dorie Greenspan‘s latest book, “Baking Chez Moi“. I just adore Dorie Greenspan, so when I was approached about this post idea, I couldn’t reply soon enough! Her tall and creamy cheesecake is my favorite recipe of hers, which I make at least 5 times in November and December (between Thanksgiving and Christmas). One of the things that makes Dorie so wonderful is that she makes intimidating recipes completely approachable to the home baker. She writes out everything in perfect detail to where you feel like she’s right there in the kitchen with you. This book is no different. The instructions are perfectly detailed, and her recipes are mouth-watering. Her book contains recipes, like limoncello cupcakes, gingerbread buche de noel, cocoa linzer cookies, caramelized rice krispies…just to name a few. I have so many recipes bookmarked already!

For this post, I was asked to incorporate Driscoll’s berries into her famous rugelach recipe. While I’ve had rugelach before, I’ve never made it. After a bit of brainstorming, I thought that raspberry, pistachio and dark chocolate would go together perfectly in this bite-sized dessert. I’ve used the cranberry/pistachio/white chocolate combination before in biscotti, so I had a feeling this combination would work. Also, after making it, if you look at the picture, don’t they look like peppermint swirls? So festive for the holiday season!

As for the recipe, it tasted great! I reduced a pint of Driscoll’s fresh raspberries (along with sugar, lemon juice and zest) to a spread-like consistency (to avoid watering down the cookies), and sprinkled finely chopped chocolate and pistachios on top of the raspberry spread to make the filling for the rugelach. This combination works so well…sweet raspberries, melted chocolate with a hint of crunch from the pistachios? Oh man, I love it! My coworkers also went crazy over these the next day…they were perfect with a morning coffee. :-)

Raspberry, Pistachio & Dark Chocolate Rugelach
Source: Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan (filling adapted)

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 4 oz. cold cream cheese
  • 1 stick (8 tbsp.) cold, unsalted butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt

For the filling:

  • 1 pint fresh Driscoll raspberries, washed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 tbsp. granulated sugar, mixed with 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg (for glazing dough)
  • sanding or granulated sugar, for dusting

Directions:

  1. Remove the cream cheese and butter from the refrigerator 10 minutes before you’re ready to make the dough and cut each into 4 equal pieces. This will allow them to slightly soften, but still be cold.
  2. After the 10 minutes, place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor, and scatter the pieces of butter and cream cheese over the flour/salt. Pulse the mixture 6-10 times, until flour coats the cream cheese and butter. Then, process the mixture, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl ever so often, until large curds form in the dough (before it processes into a ball of dough).
  3. Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface, mold it into a ball, and divide the dough in half. Then, shape each dough half into a square and wrap the squares in plastic film or wax paper. Place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours (or up to a day).
  4. To make the filling, cook the raspberries, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest in a small pot over medium heat. Cook the mixture, stirring ever so often, until it reaches a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the mixture thickens (about 10 minutes) to a spread. Set the raspberry filling aside to cool.
  5. Place the pistachios and chocolate chips in the food processor and pulse the mixture until the mixture looks finely chopped, but not crumbs. Set aside.
  6. Working on a lightly floured surface, sprinkle flour on top of one piece of dough, and using a rolling pin, roll the dough until it’s about a 12″ square, making sure to turn the dough frequently while rolling (and flouring lightly, if necessary). It doesn’t need to be precisely a square. The dough will be rather thin when finished.
  7. Cut the rolled out square of dough in half, to where you will have two pieces of dough that are approximately 12″x 6″. Brush the tops of each half of dough with the melted butter, and then sprinkle the tops with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Thinly spread 1/4 of the raspberry filling on top of the butter/cinnamon sugar mixture. Then, add 1/4 of the pistachio/dark chocolate mixture, gently pressing it into the dough.
  8. Starting from the long (ragged) side of the dough, carefully roll the sheet snugly (like you would when making cinnamon rolls), ending with the neat, cut edge at the bottom of the roll.
  9. Wrap the roll in plastic wrap or wax paper, and place it in the freezer. Fill and roll the other rectangle the same way as above. Then, repeat the whole dough rolling/filling process with the other square of dough.
  10. Ideally, you want the dough to rest for an hour in the freezer, to allow for easier slicing, but you can take them out of the freezer and (carefully) slice them after about 15-20 minutes. You can also freeze these rolls for up to two months, if you don’t want to bake all of the cookies at once.
  11. To bake the cookies, place the oven racks to where it divides the oven into even thirds. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
  12. In a small bowl, beat the large egg lightly with a splash of cold water.
  13. Working with one roll at a time, remove the rolls from the freezer, and brush the top of each roll with egg wash. Then, generously sprinkle the tops of the rolls with sugar. Using a sharp knife and a gentle sawing motion, divide each roll into 12 slices, and place the cookies seam down on the baking sheet, with a little space between each cookie (each baking sheet held 24 cookies for me).
  14. Bake the cookies for 15-17 minutes, making sure to rotate the cookie sheets in the oven from top to bottom rack, and then flipping them front to back, being sure not to under-bake these. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and allow them to completely cool to room temperature. Enjoy!

White Chocolate Peppermint Mousse Pie

Disclosure: I received a copy of “Southern Living Christmas All Through the South” at no cost to me, for a fair and honest review. Southern Living/YC Media is providing the giveaway item. All opinions are 100% my own.

White Chocolate Peppermint Mousse Pie

I’ve had a really rough past week. Two deaths in my family (one being my grandmother and the other being the family dog) happened, and I just don’t know how to stop randomly crying when I start thinking about a world without either of them. I know that humans > dog, and my grandmother and family dog don’t compare. They don’t. Just two large pieces of bad news, and I’m terrible at grieving. I do know that they are both no longer suffering ,and that gives me a bit of solace. It’s just really hard with the holidays around the corner.

I’m an early holiday celebrator. I just love the holidays, as I’m sure this is no secret to y’all. However, when my husband offered to take down the decorations this week (the same husband who is firmly in the post-Thanksgiving decorating camp), I said no. I’m just not feeling the holiday spirit right now. The idea of taking everything down and making the house Christmas-y is suddenly making me a bit overwhelmed. Honestly, I’m starting to wonder if I would be perfectly content just taking down the gift wrap and not decorating at all this year. This is so not like me. I’ve tried watching “Christmas Vacation”, listening to Christmas Pandora, and I’m just meh about it all. I know this has a lot to do with our family’s losses, so I’m hoping my mini holiday funk will pass.

In another attempt to get the holiday spirit back, I decided to make something with holiday flavors. I was sent a review copy of Southern Living Christmas All Through the South, and I picked out the most seasonal sounding recipe to me at the time to whip up: White Chocolate-Peppermint Mousse Pie. Peppermint Bark is one of my favorites around the holidays, and I thought with the chocolate cookie crust and white chocolate peppermint mousse, I couldn’t go wrong with this recipe. Something about whipping egg whites and heavy cream into fluffy goodness is oddly therapeutic. Just watching the components come together distracted me enough to forget about the bad news for a while. It was really pleasant…

Hopefully, I’ll shake out of this mini funk soon. I’m just going to take this weekend to relax a bit, since I feel like this has been the longest week ever. I need Monday.

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My Ultimate Gift Guide + GIVEAWAY!

Disclosure: I was sent an Aerogarden 3SL at no cost to me, for a fair and honest review, by Miracle Gro (through KitchenPLAY). They also supplied me with the giveaway item. All opinions are 100% my own.

Gift guide

I’ve been asking my husband almost every day if I can convince him to go in the attic and bring down all of our Christmas decorations. The answer never changes…”Wait until Thanksgiving.” Well, next week is Thanksgiving!!

Also…next week is Thanksgiving? Dang!

It’s getting to be that point of the year where family/friends are asking me what I want for Christmas. While I can’t really figure things out (besides new plates/bowls in our kitchen…how boring!), I figured I’d share my favorite things that I’ve been using this year. Maybe this will inspire your wish lists? Who knows…but I figured I would share some of my favorite things with you guys, and also offer a pretty awesome giveaway (at the bottom of this post, if you make it that far…) :-).

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Hosting your First Thanksgiving & Giveaway!

Disclosure: Butterball provided me with a turkey gift check, as well as two other turkey gift checks to giveaway, in exchange for a post. All opinions are 100% my own.

ThanksgivingMeal

I’ve always been a fan of having big family gatherings for holiday meals. I used to watch my mom, aunts and my grandma flawlessly host Thanksgiving year after year, so when I got married, I thought I would give it a try. I mean, how hard could it be?

I’ll never forget that first year. I ran out of counter space, I ran out of oven space, I ran out of time…I mean, there was a meal at the end, but I was a stressed-out mess. I learned quite a few things, and ever since, while there’s always SOMETHING that doesn’t quite go as planned, our holiday meals have been a whole lot better.

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Creamy Tomato Basil Soup + A Giveaway

Disclosure: I received samples from Swanson® for review purposes, as well as soup dinnerware/serveware for this post. All opinions are completely my own, based on my experience. Swanson also provided the prize for this giveaway.

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

Just a couple of days ago, my husband and I started looking into redoing some aspects of our kitchen. Well, it’s been on the backburner for quite some time, but we seriously looked for the first time this past week.

While I love our current house, I’ve always drooled over gorgeous granite countertops in other homes. I highly doubt we’ll have granite in our kitchen before the holiday season, but hey, it will be soon enough!

Speaking of the holiday season, our radio station started playing Christmas music 24/7. Holy moly….I’m so ready to fork out the decorations and wrap presents! I know I’m in the minority, my husband included..he immediately dismissed me asking him to pull down Christmas stuff when we were putting up Halloween decorations last week. :-P

With the holiday season growing near, we’re finally feeling weather in the 40s (and sometimes, even 30s) here in south Louisiana. Since then, I’ve been craving a lot more soup than usual. After I had some dental work done last month, all that really sounded good was tomato soup (I’m pretty sure I had it 3 times that week), and I wanted to make a big pot of it ever since! I just can’t shake the craving!

The folks at Swanson reached out to me, and asked me if I’d like to try out their new products. I’m a big fan of Swanson broths, so of course, I couldn’t say no! For the new products, I was sent their new cream starters, as well as the Louisiana Cajun and Tuscan Chicken flavor infused broths.

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Apple Cinnamon Margaritas

Disclosure: I received a sample of Casa Noble Crystal Tequila, as well as a gift card for ingredients used in this recipe, in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Please drink responsibly.

Apple Cinnamon Margarita

I seriously cannot get enough of this weather, y’all. We sat outside this past weekend at a neighbor’s house to watch the game, and I was actually CHILLY outside. I was tempted to walk home and grab my blanket for REAL. I love me some chilly weather, but I have a feeling I’m going to be itching for warm Caribbean weather VERY soon (The vacation countdown has begun!).

When we went on our first cruise, we visited Cozumel, Mexico. I made it my mission to look around at all of the gift shops for the perfect Christmas ornament (it’s my little tradition for our vacation spots), and while I was shopping, I started to notice a lot of (what I now know as) sugar skulls. I found them to be beautiful, with all sorts of different color combinations, and confession time: I honestly had no idea what they were for. When I got home, I googled and found out all about The Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos).

Dia de los Muertos is a family-focused holiday from November 1-2, where family and friends gather together to pray for and remember those who passed away. In Mexico, families build private altars and include candy skulls, marigolds (which are known as flowers of the dead), chocolate coffins, as well as favorite food/drinks of the deceased family members to entice them to return.

To celebrate Dia de los Muertos, I am sharing this recipe for Apple Cinnamon Margaritas, using Casa Noble Crystal Tequila. Margaritas are one of my favorite cocktails, but my go-to is usually a strawberry, mango or lime margarita. For this tequila though, I wanted to make a fall version of this tasty beverage, and that’s how this apple cinnamon margarita happened. I kept some of the classic citrus flavors in there, but with the addition of an apple cider base, this drink is delicious! The Crystal Tequila is also very smooth and worked perfectly in this drink! This margarita would be perfect to enjoy on a cool, fall evening! This recipe makes one large or two small margaritas.

Apple Cinnamon Margarita
Source: an original

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Casa Noble Crystal Tequila
  • 1 oz. Triple Sec (or other orange liquor)
  • Juice of ½ of a large orange
  • Juice of ½ of a lime, reserving the other half of the lime for rimming
  • 4 oz. apple cider
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • crushed ice
  • Optional: festive colored sugar, additional 1/4 tsp. cinnamon & apple slices for garnish

Directions:

  1. Place the first 6 ingredients in a shaker with the crushed ice, and shake the mixture thoroughly until all ingredients are blended.
  2. Optional: Place some colored sugar & 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon on a flat plate and mix together. Using a slice from the remaining half of the lime, run the inside of the lime along the rim of your serving glass(es), and then dip the rim in the sugar/cinnamon mixture.
  3. Pour the margarita into your serving glass(es), being mindful not to pour any on the rim. Garnish with an apple slice and enjoy!

Chewy Quinoa Monster Cookies & A Contest!

Disclosure: I received no compensation for writing this post, but I did receive whole grains products at no cost to me as an ambassador. I developed this recipe for the “Make the Switch” campaign since I’m a 2014 Whole Grains Ambassador for the Whole Grains Council. This recipe is an entry into a recipe contest for a potential prize. All opinions are 100% my own.

Chewy Quinoa Monster Cookies

Right now, I want nothing more than comfort food. It feels like 100 degrees outside, but with crisp, fall weather on the horizon, I’m in the mood to practically live in my kitchen right now. I mentioned that there would be quite a bit more baking on the blog, and well…here’s more of it! This time, however, I’m pushing all-purpose flour to the side and giving you guys quinoa cookies.

No, really. These cookies aren’t exactly diet-friendly (hello PB and M&Ms!), but they do make use of whole grains, which is a great thing to incorporate into every day recipes. As a whole grains ambassador, I was challenged to “Make the Switch” to whole grains using a well-known dish to celebrate Whole Grains month in September. I decided to bake up these chewy quinoa monster cookies, since monster cookies are one of my favorite cookies. You can’t go wrong with peanut butter, M&Ms and raisins. So tasty!

Check out the other 15 bloggers who came up with fantastic ideas for all of us to make the switch towards using whole grains. There’s everything from soups to entrees to dessert! So many wonderful ideas. I’m so excited to be included in this group of bloggers, and I hope some of these recipes inspire you all in the kitchen to try more whole grains in your every day cooking/baking.

Now, you may notice that there is a way to VOTE for your favorite recipe by a blogger. One lucky voter could win $500, along with a prize package of whole grain products! I’d really appreciate your vote for my recipe, if you have a moment. The top 5 blogger recipes voted through by readers will be judged in a recipe contest, and the winning bloggers from the resulting contest will win some great cash prizes as well! Voting is open now through September 30th (official rules and further details are linked on the voting website). :-)

Now, this recipe….

Y’all. I really was worried about developing a recipe for quinoa cookies, because I’ve never used quinoa in a dessert, but they came out SO chewy and decadent. My husband brought these to his work, and his coworkers loved them! These quinoa cookies went just as fast as the usual baked goodies that I send to work with him. And yeah…I really did eat three of these the night I made them. They are fantastic!

Again, thanks in advance for reading this post and for potentially voting for my recipe! I really appreciate your support!

Chewy Quinoa Monster Cookies
Source: A Nifty Foodie Original

(makes about 30 cookies)

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cups peanut butter (not natural)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¾ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup pre-cooked and cooled quinoa
  • 1 cup candy coated chocolate candies (like M&Ms)
  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup raisins

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, stir the peanut butter, egg and sugar together for a minute or so, until everything is thoroughly mixed. Add in the salt, vanilla extract and baking soda and mix until just combined.
  3. Gently stir in the quinoa, candies, chocolate chips and raisins, until just combined.
  4. Using a standard size cookie scoop, scoop the cookies about 1 ½ inches apart on the baking sheets.
  5. Bake the cookies for 13-15 minutes, and keep them on the cookie sheet for another 10 minutes out of the oven, to continue the baking process and to allow them to set a bit. They will be very soft just out of the oven, so those extra 10 minutes allows them to be easily transferred. After the 10 minutes, place them on a cooling rack to finish cooling. Bake the rest of the cookies on one of the cookie sheets once the first batch has cooled enough to free up the pan.
  6. Enjoy!

 

Grilled Corn Guacamole

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, on behalf of Amaize Sweet Corn/Golden Sun Marketing. I was compensated for this post, and all opinions are 100% my own.

Grilled Corn Guacamole

Confession time. For the longest time, the types of corn I was familiar with was canned corn and frozen corn on a cob. I never thought to buy fresh corn from the grocery store, since those other types were what I really knew. I was pretty intimidated by fresh corn for a while, but after having freshly grilled corn a couple of years ago, I got hooked!

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Vanilla Sugar-Crusted Scones & A Giveaway!

Disclosure: I was provided Nielsen-Massey vanilla products at no cost to me, as well as the products for the giveaway, at no cost to me. All opinions are 100% my own.

Vanilla Sugar-Crusted Scones

Today is my 10th day of counting calories, and for the first time, I felt comfortable enough with baking to where I knew I wouldn’t eat 3-4 servings of desserts. The weight has been falling steadily, and I’m down a little over 4 lbs. in about a week’s time. To me, that’s pretty darn exciting, but big picture wise, I still have about 80-90 lbs. to go. Instead of my past weekly weigh-ins, I’m going to post monthly goals and monthly progress on here, and share weekly/daily stuff on my Instagram page (if you’d like to follow along).

I’ll have to admit, this was tough to resist. I only had one piece of a scone, just to taste it and share this recipe is with you guys. I truly enjoy baking, and I’m so happy that I’m in a place again where I can enjoy my hobby, but not sabotage my weight loss efforts. Thankfully, my husband’s coworkers and my coworkers enjoy my baking hobby to where nothing will be wasted. :-)

A few weeks ago, I received an email from Nielsen-Massey featuring this recipe for vanilla sugar-crusted scones, and I was intrigued. They just sounded so simple and delicious. The recipe calls for not only vanilla bean, but also vanilla extract, boosting the vanilla flavor like crazy. The vanilla flavor, along with that buttery scone flavor, just makes for a great snack. You could serve these with various citrus curds or fruit jams, since vanilla goes with just about anything, or if you wanted to drizzle some chocolate on top, that would work beautifully too. This is a great, basic scone recipe, and the dough came together very quickly.

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