December 7, 2015 | by Cyd Converse
As I’m spending time with our new little one, some of my best blogging buds are covering for me.
Today please welcome my super sweet pal Courtney from Pizzazzerie!
Merry December, ya’ll! I’m Courtney (from over at Pizzazzerie.com) and I’m thrilled to be swinging in to share one of my favorite cookie recipes with you while Cyd enjoys some sweet baby snuggles! Cookies are the perfect holiday baking treat because they’re easy to make, quick to cool, and perfect for packaging. Any excuse to whip out cute ribbon and gift tags is a yes for me! Plus, these salted ginger cookies are to die for good! You might even want to double the recipe!
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 ½ sticks butter, softened
- 1 egg, room temperature
- ¼ cup molasses
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons ginger
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 teaspoon sea salt (or more to taste)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, molasses, and vanilla extract. Combine until smooth. In a separate mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients (reserving 1 teaspoon of sea salt for garnishing). Slowly add to wet and beat on low until just combined. Scoop balls of dough onto parchment-lined baking sheet and flatten slightly with hand. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until slightly golden on edges. Do not over bake, you want the cookies to be chewy, not crunchy!
I highly recommend you make these for upcoming cookie exchanges, Christmas parties, or just a weekend baking session with your girlfriends. The kids might not like the strong sea salt flavor so you can feel free to omit it from their cookies. Just add extra to taste if you’re a salt-a-holic like me! The salt really enhances the sweetness of the molasses and brown sugar. It’s a wonderful combination and definitely my go-to cookie recipe! Happy baking!
[Photos + recipe by Courtney Whitmore of Pizzazzerie for The Sweetest Occasion.]
December 3, 2015 | by Cyd Converse
As I’m spending time with our new little one, some of my best blogging buds are covering for me.
Today please welcome our old friend Chelsea from Lovely Indeed!
Hey party animals! Chelsea here from Lovely Indeed, so happy to be helping out while our girl Cyd is getting used to life with a new little nugget. There are so many reasons to celebrate right now, not the least of which is the holiday season! If you find yourself entertaining a few guests here and there, upgrade your hostess game with a few of these beyond simple tricks for dressing up a good old fashioned glass of champagne. No fancy cocktail mixing here, y’all — just a few quick ways to take your champs up a notch.
Make it Fizz.
While you’re picking up groceries for your party, grab some candied ginger. As you’re pouring champagne, drop a small piece in the bottom of each glass. It’ll keep it fizzing forever and give a little hint of ginger! Add a small piece to the rim of the glass just for kicks, too.
Add Some Antioxidants.
Pomegranate seeds look so lovely floating around in a little pool of bubbles, don’t they?! And with all of the antioxidant properties in pomegranates, you can brag to your guests that you’re watching out for their health…
Fancy Up the Flavor.
A little St. Germain never hurt anybody! The elderflower liqueur adds just a hint of flavor to a glass of champagne, making it feel extra special and the absolute perfect amount of fancy. Just fill a glass almost full of bubbles and add a floater of St. Germain for the perfect cocktail.
Hope you have lots of reasons to try these out this holiday season! And when you do, be sure to raise a glass to new mama Cyd and #thesweetestbebe! xoxo
[Photos + styling by Lovely Indeed for The Sweetest Occasion.]
December 2, 2015 | by Cyd Converse
You guys know by now that I have a killer sweet tooth, which makes it only appropriate that today marks the first of several Christmas cookie recipes I’ll be sharing with you throughout the month. Even better? Today, nine of my best blogging buds and I have teamed up for our take on a virtual Christmas cookie swap! We’re talking ten blogs, ten recipes and ten ways to wow all of your friends and family this holiday season. Personally, I’m all about these Italian meatball cookies. Topped with rich dark chocolate ganache, they’re a tradition in my family and my all-time personal favorite Christmas cookie. Think a semi-sweet spiced chocolate cookie and the simplest yet most decadent ganache. That is what I am talking about, friends! Delicious.
I can’t remember a single holiday season in my life that has not involved these cookies. Not a year goes by without taking the time to bake up a big batch or two. In fact, if there is only one cookie I make every year, it’s these bad boys. If you’re feeling frisky, might I suggest a pinch of coarse sea salt on top? Because that would take these right over the top. Keep scrolling to find all of the recipes in our Christmas cookie swap! We’re pretty sure these are the only Christmas cookie recipes you’ll ever need, but we might be a smidge biased.
- 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup shortening
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 cups milk
- 2 oz spiced rum
Preheat oven to 375°. Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer. Blend in the shortening. Add the milk and rum (whiskey, bourbon or brandy will also work) and combine well. The dough will be very stiff and sticky. Roll into approximately 1″ balls and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 12 – 13 minutes or until they look slightly golden. Remove from the oven, allow them to rest for a couple of minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool, dip in warm chocolate ganache (see the recipe below) and allow cookies to cool slightly before enjoying.
- 8 oz dark chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 oz spiced rum
Heat chocolate chips, heavy cream, and rum over a double boiler of simmering water until completed melted and smooth, stirring or whisking occasionally. Feel free to sub whiskey, bourbon or brandy for the rum. (But I don’t suggest skipping it – it really enhances the flavor!) Once the ganache is smooth and creamy, dunk each cookie to coat the top completely and then return cookies to the wire rack to cool until ganache sets.
Anyone else have a major cookie craving going on now? Be sure to check out the rest of the Christmas cookie recipes coming your way compliments of my pals and our self-declared Christmas cookie squad! Oh, and we want to check out your favorite cookie recipes, too. Join us over on Instagram and tag your favorite cookies with the hashtag #christmascookiesquad so we can drool together!
Color Dipped Gingerbread Cookies from Studio DIY
Everything Sweet Sugar Cookies from Sugar & Cloth
Peppermint Drops from Julie Blanner
Linzer Christmas Cookies from Freutcake
Elf Quote Christmas Cookies from Lovely Indeed
Blood Orange Vanilla Bean Meringues from Paper & Stitch
Cream Wafer Tree Cookies from Inspired by Charm
Almond Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies from The Effortless Chic
Candy Cane Peppermint Bark Fudge from Sugar & Charm
[Photos + recipe by Cyd Converse for The Sweetest Occasion.]
December 1, 2015 | by Cyd Converse
It’s about to get all sorts of merry and bright around here, friends! If I’m honest with you, I am so excited to share this project with you! This is one that has been floating around in my brain for the last couple of holiday seasons but somehow just made it to fruition this year. Enter the DIY marquee Christmas tree! AKA the cutest damn Christmas tree you ever did see. (Or something like that.) Believe it or not, this bad boy is made from super simple supplies (we’re talking foam core and hot glue) and isn’t overly complicated. So let’s do this, shall we? Giddy up!
- Large sheets of foam core
- Clear globe string lights
- X-Acto or utility knife
- Hot glue gun + glue sticks
- Spray paint
- Metal straight edge
To begin you’ll need a large sheet of foam core. You can decide on the specific size of foam core depending on the finished size tree you’d like to have. (A smaller one would be super cute, too!) I used one of the large presentation boards (the kind with the fold-in sides) and ended up with a tree roughly 32″ tall. You’ll start by penciling a tree onto the foam core and then carefully cutting out the tree using an X-Acto knife and a metal straight edge. I simply took my time and used a pencil and the grid pattern that appears on the backside of the presentation board to create a tree shape that I thought worked and then cut it out. Alternately, you could use a stencil of some kind or even just cut out a large triangle and make a simpler, modern tree shape. It’s your call!
Next up it’s time to create the side walls. First you’ll want to measure the size of the lights you’re using to make sure the walls extend out past the lightbulbs. I used large clear globe lights, but if you’re making a smaller size tree you might want to use a smaller light. Then it’s a simple process of measuring the length of each side of your tree shape, cutting it to length and using hot glue to fix it into place. This process can take a bit of time, but it’s really quite simple. Also, you don’t need things to be totally perfect. By the time you glue it down and paint everything, a lot of mistakes will be forgiven so no stressing about perfection!
After your shape is built, it’s time for paint! Spray paint works great on foam core as long as you use thin, light coats. I used a Christmas green in a glossy finish and did about five or six light coats with ample drying time in between. Then the final step is to place your lights! Use your X-Acto knife to cut out holes for the socket of each light bulb. I found it easiest and most effective to use the tip of my knife to drill a little hole, then to cut outward to create a larger hole for the socket to fit thought.
Remove the light bulbs from each socket and then push the socket up through from the back of your tree. You can get really precise with the measuring or just eyeball the placement of each light bulb, which is what I did. Then the final step is to screw in all of the lightbulbs. If you have excess cord, use painter’s tape or masking tape (or whatever tape you have handy) to tape everything down nice and flat on the back of your tree. Then you’re all set! Plug in your tree and your house is ready to go for the festivities.
Call me crazy but I am so in love with this little tree. I think it makes a great addition to your existing holiday decor or would make an amazing alternative to a Christmas tree if you live in a small space or will be traveling over the actual holidays but still want your house to feel all kinds of merry and bright. Don’t forget to share what you’re crafting, making and baking with me this holiday season over on Instagram using the hashtag #thesweetestholidays. I can’t wait to see what you’re working on!
[Art direction + styling by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]
The fine print: Please link with love! As with all of our posts, DIY projects featured on The Sweetest Occasion may not be copied, distributed or reproduced without express written permission. Love and links are always appreciated! If you’d like to share a maximum of 1 – 2 images from this post, please link to this post directly for the DIY tutorial and do not include the instructions in your own post. Thanks so much! xoxo
November 30, 2015 | by Cyd Converse
Hi, friends! I have never been happier nor more overwhelmed to make an announcement in my life. Please welcome our sweet baby girl, Emerson Gray! (Her middle name comes from a hybrid of my maternal grandparents’ names – Gary and Kay.) She arrived right on time a week ago today, November 23 at 8:21am weighing 7lbs 15oz and measuring 20-3/4″ long. She is seriously the definition of perfection. It’s sincerely an understatement to say that her daddy and I could not be more in love if we tried. We are all doing great although I’ll be honest and admit that a week out, those postpartum emotions are proving to be very very real. All of that said, I’m definitely going to be laying low for a while and enjoying all the baby snuggles I can. In the meantime, here’s hoping you all had a beautiful Thanksgiving! We, for sure, have never had more to be thankful for than we do this year. xoxo