Missalaney – December

Missalaney-December

1. Have you seen Emily Henderson’s finished kitchen? Those navy cabinets and brass knobs are a winning combination.
2. So, my Bloglovin feed has been all cookies and delicious treats, but these little endive appetizers from Smitten Kitchen have caught my eye. Who would have thought?
3. These cookies from SkinnyTaste are healthy and only use three ingredients. I’m in.
4. Cupcakes and Cashmere shared this gift wrapping kit. It is adorable and would make a really cute gift.
5. This top is on my mind. It would be perfect for date night or even New Year’s, right?
6. Kitchy Kitchen posted this genius idea – create five appetizers with just five ingredients. I think it would be fun to use this for an informal lunch or dinner on Christmas day.

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Carmelita Bark

reaching-for-bark

In elementary school, Sarah Swafford brought oatmeal carmelitas for her birthday. Have you had them before? They’re a layered bar cookie with chocolate, oatmeal and caramel. One bite and I was hooked.

I can’t remember why, but her mother shared the recipe. I don’t know if I asked for it or if they were so popular that she sent it along later, but being a pretty quick kid, I immediately shared it with my mom, who made them for us for weeks on end. And then, we sort of forgot about them, and I didn’t have them again for years.

Now, as an adult, I occasionally come across them. If I see a cookie bar resembling a carmelita, I always pick one up. Every, single time. Sometimes it works out; others it doesn’t. Last week, a blogger shared her recipe for salted caramel chocolate chip cookies, and it got me thinking about chocolate bark and oatmeal carmelitas.

bark

And, here we are. So today, I’m sharing with you the stickiest, most delicious bark on the planet. Dark chocolate is drizzled with a salted caramel sauce and topped with toasted pecans and the lightest sprinkle of sea salt. Pretty good, right?

My intention was that this would be a great gift item for the holidays, but truthfully, it’s so gooey that it might be better suited to your home. I’m sure you won’t mind a bit.

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Gingerbread Oatmeal

ballet-cups

*In this photo, her cups are ballet dancing.

Last year, Ellie wouldn’t touch oatmeal. In fact, I made her a bowl, and she straight up spit it out. Well, actually, she let it fall out of her mouth, but it was the same result.

Cut to this winter, I had mixed myself up a batch of oatmeal and was doctoring it up with mashed banana and maple syrup. I was sure she wouldn’t want any. As soon as I got settled at the table, I heard “Aya wants some too.”

stir-oatmeal

It was an instant hit, and for the last week, as we’re walking into the kitchen, she requests “meal” for breakfast. It used to be “cereal, and water, and milk and a ba-na-na-na.” Now, it’s just meal.

Most of the time, I make it with maple syrup, cinnamon and milk, but lately, I’ve been putting together a gingerbread version. It’s really quite lovely. Spiced with ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves, it is very Christmas-spirity.  A splash of maple syrup and a swirl of butter make a wholesome breakfast taste special.

reading-cookbook

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Anatomy of a Cheese Board

cheeseboard

A cheese board or platter is my go-to appetizer. It’s elegant, a crowd-pleaser and ridiculously easy to put together. Whether we’re having date night at home, throwing a birthday party for Ellie or hosting Thanksgiving, I love how easy it is to customize and scale up.

When it comes to my cheese game plan, I follow the same recipe no matter the occasion. I choose at least two kinds of cheeses – one on the stinkier side of things and a favorite hard cheese. It can also be fun to choose cheeses from the same country. (Things can get pretty wild at our place.)

To go with it, I add in any combination of the following items:

- Honey

- Cured Meats (Prosciutto, Jamon and Chorizo are all great.)

- Sauces (Pesto, romesco sauce and chutney are wonderful options.)

- Crackers (I like cracked black pepper, rosemary, whole wheat and/or some pita crackers – definitely the more the merrier.)

- Bread/crostini (A baguette is perfect.)

- Fruit (Bunches of grapes or thinly sliced pears and apples work. If using the latter two, add a squeeze of lemon.)

- Nuts (Marcona almonds, pecans, raw almonds or walnuts are wonderful, but find out if your guests have nut allergies before adding them.)

- Olives (Pitted Kalamatas are my favorite.)

- Sun-dried tomatoes

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Toddler Gift Guide

ToddlerGiftGuide

Buying toys for little ones is a lot of fun, but it can be intimidating – even for parents. Finding something age appropriate for toddlers can seem impossible, but trust me, there are millions of options out here. Most will make you wish you were two.

In this toddler gift guide, nearly all of the brands or toys have been road tested by a very discerning style setter at our house. For the most part, these ideas are suitable for kids 2 and up. Happy shopping!

1. Puzzles - The graphics on this sea creature puzzle are really cute, but in general, I love all of the versions Melissa and Doug offers.

2. Blocks – Ellie really enjoys building with blocks of any kind. This transparent version is beautiful.

3. Baby Stella - One of our favorite toys – if it’s a big hit at your house, there are a million accessories you can add to your collection, like a cradle, bathtub and feeding supplies.

4. Train – We have dishes from this brand, but this teddy bear train is adorable.

5. Dress-Up Clothes – Ellie likes to pretend to be a dinosaur all the time. How perfect would this set be for your favorite kiddos?

6. Play Food – New Sprouts makes the best toy food. I’m showing the breakfast one here, but they’re all really fantastic.

7. Books – Board books make great presents for toddlers. Bunny and Bee: Playtime is a personal favorite.

8. Little People – The Little People Disney Princess castle is permanently played with at our house. She loves arranging her “gwirls.” This farm would be a hit with most kids (Ellie included).

9. Art Supplies – Watercolors, crayons, construction paper and drawing pads are all great picks. The first two are washable, which makes them parent-friendly as well as fun.

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Gift Guide: Your BFF

Gift Guide

She has great taste (she picked you as a friend, right?), so buy her something fantastic. Here are eight gorgeous ideas to add some sparkle and glamour to your favorite lady’s life.

Everything in this gift guide is under $50, so if you decide to slip something into your own stocking too, I won’t tell. And, your bestie won’t mind if you match – the best ones never do.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

P.S. Number 2 is from a local KC company that makes the most beautiful pottery. If you’re working with more than $50, these throws from Happy Habitat are showstoppers. Less than $50 to spend? These notebooks from Ampersand are also really adorable (and around $10 smackers).

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Winter Wishlist

snow

What I’d really like to do this winter is sit on my couch and watch Christmas movies for days on end while wrapped in a fur throw. I have a feeling someone (Ellie) has other plans. So, I expanded my wishlist for the season. (It’s pretty good.)

- Drink hot cocoa.

- Build a gingerbread house.

- Find the perfect moisturizer.

- Wear something fancy.

- Decorate Christmas cookies.

cookies

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