Beer Advent Calendar – 12 Beers of Christmas

We all have that special someone that just loves counting down the days until Christmas, right?  Well, my big guy (husband) isn’t much into chocolate.  But he loves his beer!  He does so many special things for me through out the year and the season, that I decided he needed some extra cheer in celebrating the season.  He puts up the tree and all the lights, he gets a beer advent calendar.  Sounds like a good deal to me.

Here is how I did it, and how you can do it to get ready by December 13th, so your favorite someone can start celebrating ’12 Beers of Christmas’.

Gather these materials:

  • 12 Beers
  • Recycled wine box (with partitions still in box)
  • Wrapping paper
  • Ribbon
  • Box knife
  • Packing tape
  • Card stock paper
  • Sharpie or number stickers

First, start collecting different types of bottles of beer.  Think local, think seasonal and think international! This is the basic expense of the project. It’s fun to mix up the 12 beer selection with cans, 12 oz bottles and some 22 oz bottles. Look for the stores that sell single bottles.  And careful about taking one from a six pack.  I was informed at one store that the price would be hefty to break up a six pack.  So be thrifty.  Hit your local specialty grocery stores or bottle shops/tap houses for great selections.  And it’s OK if you sneak one that just happens to be your preference.  I won’t tell! (Just like you won’t tell that I slipped in a ‘Not Your Father’s Rootbeer‘ – have you tried this with ice cream for a float – oh my!).

Next, you need a sturdy box already partitioned into 12 slots.  I asked while at Trader Joe’s if their boxes of two buck Chuck (well, now $3.99) were available and they asked me how many I wanted and were happy to send me on my way with a few; free of charge.

box

materials

I found my paper at Hobby Lobby.  Any holiday paper will do, but I liked the simplicity of this butcher paper look.  It seemed a little more masculine! But I couldn’t resist a simple gold sparkly tulle to wrap around the box!

After you get the box home, you will need to use a box knife and trim up the box to accommodate your biggest bottle.  Next, you will need to reinforce the individual slots to the cardboard sides.  Look at the provided space divider and pull it forward so it is more centered as it’s laying down, but more importantly so it lines up so when you cover each beer slot, you have room to tape the square over and have it extend past the bottle.

fixbox

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Use packing tape to go through all 12 slots and tape corners and edges to allow for the weight of the beer while the box lays on it’s side.  Remember, this box is used to hold upright bottles!

Now you can measure the square covering for the 12 days.  Measure twice, cut once (my dad would be proud of this one).

numbers-ready put-on-numbers

Carefully attach each square with tape so it is all lined up (I get a little OCD on this.  Sometimes I have to let it go). I did this by laying a large piece of packing tape across the back, folding it and then placing it centered in the square.

done

Now you are ready to fill it with your beer!  How fun.

Creamy Pesto Pasta Chicken Bake

Creamy Pesto Pasta Chicken Bake is a CROWD PLEASER!  I make this dish for so many reasons: for my tennis post-match parties, for making batches to put in the freezer when a family needs a meal delivered, or just to have some freezer ready meals for upcoming busy weeks. This recipe will make 2 full meals for a family of 4. (This is just one of the two meals this recipe makes!).

I love this dish as it can be altered in so many ways to accommodate those with special dietary needs or preferences.  Gluten free?  Replace the pasta with noodles such as Trade Joe’s Organic Brown Rice & Quinoa Fusilli , Trade Joe’s Brown Rice Fusilli or any of your personal favorite GF noodles.  Vegetarian?  Simple, don’t add the chicken or replace it with your protein rich substitute.  Intolerance to store bought taste of Alfredo Sauce?  I’ve got you covered on that with this simple and fast homemade Alfredo sauce.

Serving a large crowd?  Mix everything together, place in large crockpot, place on low/warm setting until ready to serve at your party.

Putting the Dish Together

Gather noodles, prepared chicken cubes, cheese, spinach, diced tomatoes, sauces (Alfredo and pesto), and milk.  I guess if this were a fancy cooking show, this would be your Mise en place!

While your noodles are cooking (and possibly while you are preparing your chicken and homemade Alfredo sauce!), start mixing all the other ingredients in a large bowl or stock pot.  Once noodles are drained, add to the mixture. Mix until noodles and chicken are well coated.

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When you add chicken and noodles and need to start mixing, you need a seriously large bowl so you can mix without overturning your meal on the counter!

Here is my beloved bowl that was the largest from a Costco set.  I placed a large drinking glass to show you the size of the bowl.  Unfortunately, after this photo, my bowl tumbled off the counter as it was drying and is no longer with me.

I use a large stock pot to mix everything in with success!

pesto-pasta

Here is an alternate way I portioned out my meals.  2 larger pans for my family and a gift for a family of ours.  My good friend was going back to work full time after working from home with her two young kids.  I thought this would be a nice “first day back to work” meal that even dad could pop in the oven for their weeknight family meal.  The smaller is a bread loaf that I made for my neighbor.  We just take great care of each other and this was my gesture of saying thanks and I’m grateful for her. Mix and match pans to accommodate your meals.

pesto-pasta2

This pan served my family of 4, and there was even left overs for lunches the next day.

seerved

Creamy Pesto Pasta Chicken Bake

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A crowd pleasing casserole.

Source: livingohsopeachy.com

Ingredients

1 package penne or fusilli noodles Cooked and cubed Family Style packaged Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breasts or one Rotisserie chicken 4 cups Shredded Italian Cheese 1 can Fire Roasted Diced tomatoes 3 cups baby spinach, chopped 2 cups Alfredo Sauce (try this homemade) 1 cup pesto sauce 3/4 cup milk 1/4 Parmesan cheese, to sprinkle on top

Directions

  1. Cook noodles according to directions.
  2. If using boneless, skinless chicken breasts, prepare chicken with seasonings and cook through. Once cooled, cube into bite sizes. If using store bought Rotisserie, begin trimming meat and cutting into bite sizes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a very large bowl or stock pot (not on burner), start adding the cheese, diced tomatoes, spinach, Alfredo, pesto sauce and milk.
  4. Once chicken and noodles are cooked, add to mixture. Mix to coat chicken and noodles.At this time decide how to portion out the meals. This mixture will fill two 8 x 8 baking dishes (foil is perfect for freezing).
  5. If baking, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake at 350° for 35- 40 minutes.
  6. If freezing, sprinkle with cheese, cover in foil and freeze up to 3 months.
  7. TO USE FROM FROZEN: Thaw in the refrigerator overnight then remove from refrigerator 30 minutes prior to baking. Keep covered and bake for 45 – 50 minutes for 350°.

Drunken Pumpkin Pie Cocktail ~ Four Ways!

It’s Thirsty Thursday!

A few years ago while at the liquor store – because here in the OR, hard liquor is only sold in liquor stores – don’t ask… Anyway, we came across this pumpkin liqueur that we had to try.  It’s like a preloaded egg nog drink, just pumpkinny for the fall holidays when you’re not quite ho ho ho ready.

pumpkin-pie-cocktailIt’s a thicker sipping drink,  so I thought what of different ways of enjoying this festive fall cocktails.  It is 12.5% alcohol, so go easy.  It’s also a reason why I came up with a few different variations. You can enjoy this 4 ways! On with making your choice of The Drunken Pumpkin…options

 1.  On the Rocks!

This is just the straight out of the bottle style.  Enjoy the full flavor of this liqueur!

Fill a low ball glass with ice, shake bottle of liqueur and pour. Top with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice.

2.  With Vanilla Vodka

OK, this is punched up with a kick!  Go easy on this one.

Fill a low ball glass with ice.  Shake bottle and pour 1/3 cup Pumpkin Pie Cream Liqueur into glass.  Add  1 shot of Vanilla Vodka. Top with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice.

3. With Cream Soda

This will add a touch of vanilla sweetness that will blend with the richness of the liqueur.

Fill a low ball glass with ice.  Add 1/4 cup of Pumpkin Pie Cream Liqueur.  Add 2 ounces of Cream Soda.  I really enjoy this Virgil’s.  No preservatives and no corn syrup! Top with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice.

4. With Vanilla Iced Coffee

Of course coffee and pumpkin go together, right?

Fill a low ball glass with ice.  Add 1/4 cup Pumpkin Pie Cream Liqueur.  Add 2-3 ounces of any iced coffee, flavored if you prefer.  Top with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice.

drink

Cheers, everyone!

Drunken Pumpkin Pie Cocktail

A rich and creamy fall or winter cocktail.

Source: livingohsopeachy.com

Ingredients

Pumpkin Pie cream Liqueur (Such as Fulton’s Harvest)
Vanilla Vodka
Whipped Cream
Nutmeg or Pumpkin Pie Spice

Directions

  1. Add ice to a low ball glass.
  2. Add Pumpkin Pie Cream Liqueur.
  3. Float an ounce of vanilla vodka.
  4. Top with whipped cream.
  5. Sprinkle with nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice.

Easy does it! The liqueur is already 12.5% alcohol. And we are adding a shot of vodka here. Drink safely!

Erasable Menu Frame Craft

Custom Weekly Menu Frame

How often do you hear, “Mom!  What’s for dinner?”.  Daily?  Here is fun craft you can do (even with the kids!!) to display your weekly menu.  And potentially not here those famous words.  Now, the kids know where to look.  Or if they forget and ask, I just point!

Grab these items, or add them to your next shopping list!

  • 5 x 7 Frame
  • Craft paper – one background, one solid color
  • Number stickers (or a sharpie if you like your handwriting!)
  • Round large hole punch (an alternate would be to just cut a square)
  • Adhesive squares or glue stick
  • Scissors or paper trimmer
  • Bistro Pen (it will wipe easily from the glass)

Disassemble frame.  Use backing to use as your template as the size to cut your background paper.  Use a steady hand and scissors or use a paper trimmer.  Once paper is cut, place in frame to make sure it fits properly.  Keep it inside frame as template.

Gather your materials

Punch out the circles with solid paper (or cut squares).  Apply stickers or hand write M-T-W-T-F. Now cut your solid paper slightly smaller in width as your “day of the week” circle (or square).    Line this up on top of the glass on the frame.  Play around with the layout and trim as needed.  Don’t forget to leave room at the top for your Family Menu title!

 

Once your layout looks all peachy keen, remove the glass, but keep the background paper still in frame (you may need to put the glass behind the paper then attach the back so the paper stays tight with the frame or you might not get your solid papers lined up properly.  Now, start applying the solid weekly strips to background paper.

Now for the title.  I have used Microsoft Publisher for years and am very comfortable with the formatting.  Use any publication at your fingertips!  I love fonts (I mean, I even have a board on Pinterest called ‘font freak’ if that tells you anything!).  Play around with a few that are your style. A few I like are www.dafont.com/ or  www.1001freefonts.com/.  I also print out a few in different sizes so I have one sheet with 3-4 variations.  That way, when I go to look for the one that fits, I am only printing once and I’m pretty guaranteed one is a winner!  No back and forth to the computer resizing and printing and cutting…

Find fonts the compliment each other for the Menu title

Find fonts the compliment each other for the Menu title

Apply the title (left side, centered, right side, oh the choices!) and assemble the frame.  Your done!  I like to put my left over paper in a paper tote labeled ‘Scrap Paper’ because I always seem to find projects where I just need a little bit of colored paper.

One last option is to purchase a book or plate stand.  This adds another layer of fun and adds to your decor.  Plus, it gives you something to hide the bistro pen behind 😉

frame-craft-5

 

Grab that Bistro pen and plan away!  Happy meal planning!

frame-craft-6

 

 

Homemade Verde Enchilada Sauce

My family loves ‘Taco Tuesday’.  We use this term loosely around here and it’s safe to assume it just means it’s anything Mexican food night!  One of our favorite dishes is Verde Enchiladas. For years I would throw a can of green enchilada sauce into the grocery cart and call it good.

In the recent year, I’ve been really challenging myself to look closer into labels and ingredients.  Then comparing those to recipes and asking myself what it would take to make the same product at home.  My mind has been blown.  So much simpler, so much easier, so much healthier.  And oh so much more rewarding.

Off to the store I went with a list of ingredients I collected from a variety of different recipes.  First on the list was a tomatillo.  First item on my agenda when I entered the produce department was to seek out the produce guy and quietly ask “excuse me, I’m looking for a tomatillo?”  He happily took me over to the green section of the department by peppers, cucumbers and lettuce.  Nestled in there were these little foreign looking objects that look like they are covered in… paper leaves?

Behold...the tomatillo

Behold…the tomatillo

verde1

I needed between a pound and a pound and a half.  After a few times making this, I know 14-16 will get the job done.  Off they go into my basket. Luckily these guys are nestled by the peppers, so I pick a peck of peppers…just mostly the mild ones.  I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to heat in my food, so I stick to the mild peppers.  You can make this as mild or as spicy as you like.  I like the flavors of Anaheim, poblano and pick smaller jalapeno and Serrano peppers. Then I find a nice bunch of organic cilantro if my plant at home isn’t cooperating.  (Ok, still working on that green thumb of mine).  The rest, I usually have in good supply at home: garlic, cumin and chicken stock.

Now your back at home and ready to start making your sauce!

Peel away all the husks and you’re left with a little sticky green looking tomato!  Wash those up and chop them in half.

Remove stem and innards of remaining peppers.  Play around with a variety of peppers according to what’s in season and your heat level preference.  I’m pretty low on the heat level scale, so I gravitate to the milder peppers, but if you like heat go for the peppers with heat.  Just don’t invite me for dinner!

Place all the peppers and tomatillos on a oiled baking sheet.  Toss in your peeled garlic.  (I like to give my garlic a good crack with the flat edge of my knife to start to release it’s awesome aroma).

verde5

Roast for 20-30 minutes until skin is wrinkled and slightly charred.  An alternate is to broil them on low for the last 10 minutes.  Remove and cool.

Now you’re ready to make this an official sauce!  Place contents of baking pan into a blender, Vitamix or food processor.  Add 1/4 cup cilantro and 1/2 TBSP cumin.  Add 1/2 – 2 cups chicken stock.  Blend until smooth.

verde1

This goes great in a pan of chicken or pork enchiladas.  Keep following me and watch out for an upcoming post (my Recipe/menu Monday) for a quick and easy weekday version of Skillet Enchiladas with Verde Enchilada Sauce!

Homemade Verde Sauce

A delicious homemade version of your favorite green enchilada sauce.

Source: livingohsopeachy.com

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pound tomatillos
  • 1-2 Anaheim or poblano peppers (both fairly mild)
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers (medium to hot, depending on age. If you like heat, look for more reddish peppers and white lines)
  • 1-2 Serrano peppers (medium to hot)
  • 3-4 garlic cloves1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 TBSP cumin
  • 2 Cups Chicken Stock

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Remove husks from tomatillos. Rinse and cut in half.
  3. Cut and remove stems and innards of all other peppers.
  4. Place tomatillos and peppers on baking sheet skin side up. Drizzle sheet with oil.
  5. Peel garlic and add to baking sheet.
  6. Roast for 20-30 minutes until skin is wrinkled and slightly charred. An alternate is to broil them on low for the last 10 minutes.
  7. Remove and let cool.
  8. Add peppers and garlic to food processor, blender or Vitamix.
  9. Add cilantro, cumin and chicken stock. Add salt and pepper according to taste based on how salted your stock is.
  10. Blend until well mixed.

 

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Balsamic Glaze and Chèvre

Last month in October, my husband and I attended the Maroon 5 concert (amazing show!).  We went for dinner and drinks before the show.  After perusing the menu, our eyes instantly went to an appetizer ‘Roasted Brussels Sprouts’.  Every bite was divine, and we savored every flavor.  My husband exclaimed, “you need to make this at home!” as we did all but lick the plate clean. (Don’t judge!)

I realized how simple the ingredient list was: Brussles, bacon, balsamic and goat cheese.

We planted some Brussles in the back yard late spring, but they are just too little to satisfy our portion size at the moment so off I went to the market.  There I found beautiful stocks of these sweet little cabbage looking veggies!  Next, on to the bacon, because everything is better with bacon.  I prefer uncured bacon.

Here’s why:  uncured bacon is cured with just salt.  NO nitrites.  Nitrites are an additive used to preserve the color, flavor and shelf life.  It is found naturally in many foods like vegetables, but loaded into processed meats.  However, when nitrites are exposed to high heat (like we like our meats!), they turn into a compound that is a potent carcinogen (Read more about nitrites here).  Lucky, you can search for better options like uncured and nitrite-free bacon.  Just read those labels! If in doubt, cook it slow and low!

Back to the food…and the bacon.

Preheat oven to 350°.  Cut bacon into bite size chunks and place on baking sheet.  When oven is ready, cook bacon 10 – 15 minutes until it’s done to your likeness.  I prefer it medium for this dish.  Not to limp and not too crisp.  Check after 8 minutes or so as bacon can quickly go from just right to singed in no time.  When bacon is done, crank oven up to 400° for roasting the Brussels Sprouts.

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While oven is heating, wash those sprouts and remove any outer leaves that just don’t muster up.  Next, cut them in half.  Place into a bowl and drizzle with Olive Oil.  Salt and pepper and mix until well combined.

stalk

sprouts

Now time to roast the sprouts!  Lay them on a baking sheet (you know what? I like putting them on the sheet after the bacon.  Why not use all that bacon goodness to roast your veggies in?  Plus, just one pan to clean up.  Winning!)  Bake for 20-30 minutes, checking often.  Even if they look like they are crispy on the outside and done, take a bite to make sure they are not too firm.

While the sprouts are roasting, let’s make our balsamic glaze!  This is so simple.  I know specialty stores sell Balsamic Glaze and I honestly haven’t looked at a label, but this is so simple, you’ve got this on your own!  Heat up 1/2 -3/4 cup of balsamic vinegar in a pan to boiling.  Once boiling, reduce to a simmer until it reduces by half, about 15-20 minutes.  Allow too cool.  Yep, that’s it!  OK, technically this isn’t all “glazy”, but it’s straight up real food and real delicious!  If you have the need to make it sticky sweet, you can add 1-2 TBSP sugar.  I won’t tell. 

The bacon is done, the sprouts are done and your balsamic reduction is done.  Toss together in a bowl.

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Now all that is missing is the cheese.  My go-to cheese for this dish is goat cheese.  I love the creamy buttery flavor of Chèvre .  It’s soft and will become warm 
Combine bacon, Brussels Sprouts and sauce to a bowl. Mix until combine. Place in serving bowl and add cheese.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Balsamic Glaze and Chèvre

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Print

A savory appetizer.

Source: livingohsopeachy.com

Ingredients

1 pound Brussels Sprouts (1/2 stalk), trimmed and halved
4-6 slices thick cut uncured bacon
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2-3 TBSP goat cheese

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350°. Chop bacon into large bite sizes. Place on baking sheet covered with aluminum foil. Bake until medium, about 10-15 minutes.
  2. While bacon is cooking, wash and clean Brussels Sprouts. Trim and halve. Place in mixing bowl and olive oil and salt and pepper to coat.
  3. Once bacon is done adjust oven temperature to 400°, remove bacon and place on paper town to drain.
  4. Add sprouts to baking pan. Roast until golden brown and lightly crispy, about 20-25 minutes.
  5. While sprouts are roasting, make the balsamic glaze.
  6. In a small sauce pan, add 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup of balsamic vinegar to pan. Bring to boil, then simmer 15-20 minutes until sauce thickens.
  7. If desired, add 1-2 TBSP sugar for a sweeter, thicker glaze.
    Combine bacon, Brussels Sprouts and sauce to a bowl. Mix until combine. For low carb, use a substitute like Swerve.
  8. Place in serving bowl and add cheese.

Welcome!

Well friends…here I go!  I’m starting a blog.  I hope you will enjoy Living Oh So Peachy as much as I do.

So, what’s it going to be all about?

Well, I’m a wife and a mom.  Like so many of you, I spend a lot of time planning and keeping this household functioning.  It would all fall apart without us, right? 🙂 Not everything is oh so loving about it, but it’s all about making the best of what we have…and loving what we have and what we have created for ourselves.  To me, it’s creating my life to get to that happy place of everything is just “oh so peachy”!

I plan on sharing with you ideas that I hope will inspire you. I love creating and I love sharing ideas with friends.  I love discovering a new food flavor or project idea and the first thing I think of is “Oh, I have to share this”.  This will be a place I can bring it all together.

I will share good eats that I love making that I discovered on my journey of reducing processed foods in our family diet.  Many of them are long time recipes, just adapted with healthier real food choices.

I will share fun sips for girls night out (or in!), party time, cozy night in with your love or that occasion when you can indulge in some day drinkin’!

I will share simple ideas that you can include in your daily routine of house cleaning, family planning and making our house feel like your home.

Cheers to this adventure of Living Oh So Peachy!

~Angie

Read more about me here.

 

 

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