Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Teens and Tweens New Years Party

Christmas is always such a great family day. 
The day after Christmas is wonderful too.
We have so much fun playing and goofing off.
But a few days after Christmas the relaxing leaves the kids ready for some action. 
Luckily New Year's is right around the corner to give us something to plan and celebrate.
             We love to celebrate just about anything at our house and New Years is no exception.
Our yearly tradition usually includes the kids favorite snacks, karaoke, games, and kiddie cocktails.

This year we went all our because our friends were going to join us for the evening.
The kids surprised me by giving the Christmas tree a makeover.
 They chose silver, white, blue and green ornaments.  
I cannot believe what a good job they did.  
They are so hired for future decorating.     

We decided a buffet would be a good idea for the snack foods the kids wanted. 
We went house shopping for a few items to dress up our table.  
Silver was the main theme, but I love the clock and the pop of color from the vase of eucalyptus.   

The kids always pick the menu for our New Years Eve bash. 
This year they chose some of their very favorites like pizza rolls, pizza dip with bread sticks, Capresse salade, chicken bites and cupcakes. 
We had a lot of fun making all our treats and even more fun enjoying them.

We decided on a simple dessert of cupcakes.  
I used fade resistant cupcake papers, box cake mix and store bought frosting. 
For a little sparkle I used some aqua sanding sugar. 
I love how they turned out.
  So simple, yet so pretty.  
I added fun candles so everyone could make a New Years Wish at midnight.  
I just thought it would be fun for the kids.   

Honestly, for the kids, the real star of the show is the Cappucino Punch.
It's so easy.
It's so good.
It wouldn't be New Year's Eve without it.

I am so lucky to have the best ticket in town for New Years Eve. 
 When I was a youngster, my grandmother taught me how to toast properly. 
And every time we had a glass in our hand, we would anything and everything.
 She had a couple of toasts that were pretty standard, but my favorite was a toast to happiness. 
I hope your New Year brings you happiness. 
Happy New Year!

Okay, so let's make some punch.
The board of ingredients is super simple.
  •  Sugar
  • Instant Coffee
  • Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Chocolate Ice Cream
  • Milk
  • Boiling water

Start by adding the instant coffee to the boiling water.

Add the sugar to the hot water as well.

Stir it all up til the sugar and coffee is dissolved.

Add the milk.

At this point you can stick this in the fridge until party time.
Or you can do what I do and make the punch immediately.

When you are ready to make the punch, pour the coffee and milk mixture into your punch bowl.

Add scoops of the ice cream.

Stir the punch til the ice cream is mostly melted.
Serve and enjoy.
Happy New Year. 

Cappucino Punch


1/2 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Instant Coffee
1 Cup Boiling Water
1/2 Gallon Milk
1 Quart Vanilla Ice Cream
1 Quart Chocolate Ice Cream


1. In a small bowl combine the sugar, instant coffee and boiling water. Stir until dissolved. Cover and refrigerate until ready to make the punch or use immediately.
2. When ready to make punch add the coffee mixture, milk and ice cream to your punch bowl. Stir until combined and ice cream is mostly melted. Makes about 1 Gallon.

For a printer friendly version of this recipe please click here.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Breakfast - Crème Brûlée French Toast

One of the kids' favorite traditions is our Christmas morning breakfast.  
We go to midnight mass on Christmas Eve and try to sleep in on Christmas morning.  
Our traditional breakfast is apple sausage ring, scrambled eggs, Crème Brûlée French 
toast, and fresh squeezed orange juice.  
Every year Joel and the kids squeeze the orange juice and they have it down to an art.  
I love sitting back with a cup of coffee watching them do their thing.
I get to sit back and watch because every thing else was made the night before. 

The Crème Brûlée French Toast is such a special treat. 
It is rich, sweet and decadent.  
I found the recipe in Gourmet magazine and held onto it for years before I tried it.  
Underneath that layer of custard soaked bread is a sweet syrup.  
The syrup is just the perfect touch of 'Oh My Gosh!' 
As a mother and hostess, this is a great dish.  
It needs to be prepared they day before making Christmas morning a breeze.   

We pair the sweet french toast with a savory slice of this apple sausage ring.  
This is also prepared the night before.  
All we have to do Christmas morning is to bake, scramble and squeeze.  
This is the perfect breakfast for Christmas morning leaving plenty of time 
for opening presents and family time. 
The kids honestly talk about this breakfast all year long.  

Looks.  So.  Good. 

Today we are making the Crème Brûlée French Toast.  
I am using Grand Marnier.  
If you do not have it or do not wish to use alcohol, then orange juice is a great substitute.

      Board of Ingredients:
  • 1 Loaf of Country White Bread {I prefer not to use sourdough for this recipe}
  • Eggs
  • Half & Half
  • Vanilla
  • Grand Marnier
  • Salt
  • Butter
  • Brown Sugar 

The first step is making the syrup.
Start with a stick of butter.
I feel like I'm Ina or Paula.

Add the brown sugar.

Add the corn syrup.

Now, stir.  
Stir it over medium heat until you get a nice, smooth syrup.

Getting there...

Make sure you do not over cook this syrup.
As soon as it is smooth, take it off the heat.
Over cooking this means you will have caramel in the bottom of your dish the next day.

Pour the syrup into your baking dish.

Spread the syrup out over the bottom of the dish.

Now, slice the bread in once inch slices

Cut the crusts off too.
{Make sure all those bread crusts get make into bread crumbs!}

Lay the bread over the syrup layer in the pan.
I cut a few pieces of bread up and stick them in the cracks and corners.  
We want as much of that syrup covered with french toast as we can get.

Now, let's make the custard part of the french toast.
Start with some lovely eggs.

Add the half and half.

Add the vanilla, Grand Marnier or orange juice and salt.

Whisk until well combined.

Pour the custard over the bread.

Right now it looks like a mess.
Cover the pan and refrigerate until the morning.
When you pull it out in the morning, the custard will have soaked into the bread.

This is what is looks like in the morning.
All the custard has soaked into the bread.
Just throw it in the oven and wait for the ohhs and ahhs!

It comes out of the oven puffed and golden.
It's the perfect breakfast to make Christmas morning as special as it can be.
I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

Crème Brûlée French Toast


1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar2 tablespoons corn syrup
8- to 9-inch round loaf country-style bread
5 large eggs
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon Grand Marnier
1/4 teaspoon salt


1. In a small heavy saucepan melt butter with brown sugar and corn syrup over moderate heat, stirring, until smooth and pour into a 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking dish. 
2.  Cut six 1-inch thick slices from center portion of bread, reserving ends for another use, and trim crusts. Arrange bread slices in one layer in baking dish, squeezing them slightly to fit.
3.  In a bowl whisk together eggs, half-and-half, vanilla, Grand Marnier, and salt until combined well and pour evenly over bread. 
4.  Chill bread mixture, covered, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day.
5.  Preheat oven to 350° F. and bring bread to room temperature.
6.  Bake bread mixture, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed and edges are pale golden, 35 to 40 minutes.
7.  Let French toast rest for five minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

For a printer friendly version of this recipe click here.