The Blog @ Carissa Designs

Did Someone Say Brunch?

Posted by on 10:21 pm in Parties | 0 comments

Did Someone Say Brunch?

Whoever invented brunch deserves a medal. It’s a great concept. Sweet and savory food, good friends, and an excuse to drink in the morning. What’s not to love? Waking up early to prepare all the food, that’s what. My secret to a great brunch is doing as much as I can the day before. This way I don’t have to wake up hours before everyone to make sure the food is ready at a decent hour. I love feeding people, but I like sleep more. So, if you are interested in hosting a fun and easy brunch, here are a few tips to point you in the right direction. Tip number one, no boring bread. Muffins and scones are a must in my book (along with butter and assorted jams). Most scones can be made a day ahead, shaped, and refrigerated. This way, all you have to do is pop them in the oven. I’ve also got these French Toast muffins that I make. They are a cross between French toast and bread pudding. I make them a day ahead and bake them in the morning. I’ll try to make them this weekend and post the recipe soon. My second tip, don’t overdo the sweets. While a mountain of pastries is joy to behold, it’s not the most filling way to get your day started.  Be sure to include something savory for your guests. Whenever I am planning brunch, my sage gravy usually makes the menu. I cook it the day before, but hold back on some of the milk. The result is a super thick gravy base. The next morning, I throw the base into a Crockpot and add the milk. This brings the gravy back to the right consistency and keeps it warm while serving. Next, eggs. There are plenty of recipes out on the Internet for baking large batches of eggs in the oven. I’ve never tired any of these. I usually just pull out my wok and cook a dozen scrambled eggs at once. Finally, top all this off with a bowl of fresh fruit (it’s important to be healthy) and you have yourself a delicious brunch buffet.   But why end there? If you are hosting a brunch for the over 21 crowd, why not set up a mimosa bar? It’s super easy and adds a little charm and sophistication to the party. Like this set? Purchase it here. While orange juice is the old faithful when it comes to mimosas, I like to jazz things up by offering a few different juices for my guests. Pineapple, mango, and cranberry often make the cut. After all, who decided that orange juice got to have all the fun? Don’t forget to include some fresh fruit for your guest to use as garnishes.  The combinations are deliciously endless. All the patterns can be purchased in my shop. Check it out when you are planning your next party. Cheers! Here’s to many great...

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Have You Found Plastic Baby Jesus?

Posted by on 10:07 pm in Recipes | 0 comments

Have You Found Plastic Baby Jesus?

Yesterday was Three King’s Day, which means that today I will be taking down all my Christmas decorations. It is officially the end of the Christmas holiday season. It’s a sad day. The only thing getting me through is the miniature slice of King Cake I snagged from my mini get-together last night. nom. King Cake is a bit of a misnomer. It’s actually more of a sweet bread than a cake. I make one every year, and I have to admit, it’s a bit of an ordeal. It takes several hours and goes through multiple phases of resting and rising. All this considered, the final product is totally worth the effort. For those of you unfamiliar with the tradition of the King Cake, here is a brief history: In many Spanish-speaking countries, the King Cake (or Roscón de Reyes as I grew up calling it) is traditionally eaten on January 6th in celebration of Three Kings Day. The round cake represents a crown an is often decorated with colored sugars and fruits to symbolize jewels. A small baby figurine is baked into the cake. Whoever finds the baby in their slice of cake is responsible for buying next year’s cake. I’ve always baked my baby into the cake, but to be safe, you might want to wait until after your cake is baked and insert it through the bottom to avoid a melting catastrophe. I somehow manage to lose my plastic baby Jesus every year and find him right in the nick of time (but not before walking around the house asking people if they have found Plastic Baby Jesus). Anyway, I spent a good portion of the day yesterday prepping my cake. Like I said, it’s an ordeal. Once the cake has been cooled and frosted, there is only one thing left to do. Dig in and search for Plastic Baby Jesus. Just make sure you don’t accidentally cut him in half while you are slicing the cake. That would probably be bad luck. Congrats KyLeigh, we’ll all be headed to your place next year for the King Cake festivities. King Cake 2014-01-07 16:01:37 Serves 8 A traditional King Cake with cream cheese filling. Write a review Save Recipe Print Prep Time 4 hr Cook Time 30 min Total Time 4 hr 30 min Prep Time 4 hr Cook Time 30 min Total Time 4 hr 30 min For the cake 1 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast 1/3 cup warm water 1/2 cup milk 2 Tablespoons Butter 1/4 cup white sugar 1 eggs 3/4 teaspoons salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour For the filling (double this recipe it you want a thicker layer of filling) ½ package cream cheese (room temperature) ½ cup sugar ½ teaspoon cinnamon Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg For the glaze 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar 1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter 2 - 4 tablespoons of milk 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract Food coloring (optional) To make the cake Combine the yeast and water in a large bowl. Heat the milk over medium/high heat. Add the butter and stir until melted. Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool. Add the cooled milk mixture to the yeast. Whisk in the egg. Using a wooden spoon, stir...

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Homemade Christmas & Free Mason Jar Printables

Posted by on 10:45 pm in Free Printable!, Recipes | 0 comments

Homemade Christmas & Free Mason Jar Printables

Less than one week until Christmas. It’s official, we are very quickly approaching “last minute gift” territory. It’s that time of year where you run around the mall trying to find some small gift that says I’m thinking about you… without resorting to the sample size bin at Bath and Body works (if you do stop by Bath and body, Cucumber Melon is always a safe choice). I try to avoid during the holiday season. There are far too many people rushing around and it stresses me out. Instead, I shop from the safety of my computer and bake things from the comfort of my kitchen. My latest obsession this year has been gifts that come in mason jars. These jars are so versatile and can be used to gift anything from cookie mixes to bath salts. Also, I just love the way they look (I know, I know… another blogger who is obsessed with mason jars). My two favorites are beer bread and hot chocolate jars. I try to keep a few of these sets on hand during the holidays. You never know who is going to stop by and it’s a nice little way to let people know you are thinking about them. Hot Chocolate: — Layer two servings of your favorite hot chocolate mix in the bottom of the bottle — Add layers of chocolate chips, marshmallows, and crushed peppermint For a fun twist, pick up some clear plastic ornaments and use them instead of the jars. Beer Bread: Fill each jar with the following ingredients: — 3 teaspoons baking powder — 1 teaspoon Kosher salt — 3 cups flour — 1/4 cup sugar Baking Directions: 12 Ounce Beer ¼ Cup Melted Butter Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a loaf pan and set aside. In a large bowl combine the contents of the jar with the beer. Mix well. Pour into the loaf pan and pour the melted butter over the mixture. Bake for one hour. Over the last few weeks, I have been working on a bunch of labels that will help dress up wrapped presents, gift bags, and mason jars. To my faithful readers (you know who you are) here is a free set of cute snowman labels for all your holiday gifting needs. Free – Free - Mason Jar Gift Tags Checkout Added to cart The full set of labels can be purchased in my shop. You will receive the files through instant download and can print off as many as you need: Mason Jar Tags, Hot Chocolate, Beer Bread If you want all the mason jar tags, the value pack includes the beer bread, hot chocolate, and generic tags: Value Pack Also, do you have friends who like wine? I’ve got them covered too: Wine...

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Winter Cookie Exchange

Posted by on 2:48 am in Holiday, Parties, Recipes | 0 comments

Winter Cookie Exchange

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, it is officially the beginning of the Christmas season. I have been working on a few Christmas-themed blog posts over the last few weeks and have had the house decorated since the beginning of November. I promise I’m not usually one of those people who decorates for Christmas before Thanksgiving… Lucky for me, I have great friends that are willing to dust off their holiday attire and humor my crazy by joining me in a Cookie Exchange a little early in the season (thanks guys). We had a great time watching Elf, eating cookies, assembling gift bags, and getting in the Christmas spirit in the middle of November. I set up two separate areas for the party — a cookie buffet so that we could all taste and vote on the cookies that everyone had brought and gift assembly area for guests to put together their goodie bags. Click here to see the full set. For the tasting buffet, I decided to play around with the idea of milk and cookies and give it a bit of an adult twist. I checked out a few milk-based cocktails and opted to make something special just for the night. While I was experimenting, I noticed that using ice cubes would dilute the drinks and make them, well, icky. Then I had a brilliant idea. Why not make flavored milk ice cubes? This way, the milk stays cold and you don’t have to worry about watering down your drink. Also, since the milk cubes are flavored, they add an extra layer of flavor to the drink as they melt. I tried a few different recipes before I settled on the final ingredients: vanilla, orange rind, sugar, and cinnamon. The orange added the little flavor kick I was looking for. It reminded me of the Spanish rice pudding my grandma would make during the holidays when I was a little girl. I dropped a few cubes into a glass of milk and decided to keep the Spanish theme going. I grabbed a bottle of Licor 43 from the cabinet (this is a Spanish liqueur that is quite possible made of unicorn tears) and added it to the milk. Delicious. For more pictures from the party, check out my Facebook page. Want to host your own Cookie Exchange? Purchase the party set here. Looking for more decorating ideas? Follow me on Pinterest. Flavored Milk Cubes 2013-12-02 20:10:54 Frozen flavored milk cubes. Write a review Save Recipe Print Prep Time 45 min Total Time 45 min Prep Time 45 min Total Time 45 min Ingredients 3 cups milk ½ orange rind 3 teaspoons vanilla 2 cinnamon sticks 3 tablespoons sugar Instructions Place all ingredients in a pot and warn on medium-low heat for about 30 minutes. Do not allow contents to boil and stir regularly to keep a skin from forming on the milk. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Remove the orange and cinnamon. Poor contents into ice cube trays. Freeze over night. Notes Serving: Drop a few milk cubes into a glass of milk. For an adult version, put three milk cubes in a glass and add on part Liquor 43 and two parts milk. Stir and enjoy. By Carissa Carissa Designs...

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Pineapple Pound Cake and Lessons Learned from Fantasy Football

Posted by on 8:41 pm in Recipes | 0 comments

Pineapple Pound Cake and Lessons Learned from Fantasy Football

I have a love/hate relationship with fantasy football. At the end of every season I swear up and down that I will never play again. Come draft time, I’ve already made my short list of who I want on my team. I’ve been known to hold grudges against players who have burned me in the past *cough* Frank Gore *cough* and will always have a special place in my heart for Eli Manning (or “Lil Manning” as I’ve come to call him). For the first time in years, my fantasy football team has been… and I hesitate to say this… good (quick, find some wood to knock on). And while I do enjoy trash talking my weekly opponent, I am really nervous when I do it. I subscribe to the “if you ignore it, you won’t jinx it” school of thought. Kinda like when baseball players stop talking to their pitcher when he’s on a run for a no hitter or perfect game. Last week I was playing Clint’s dad. Our projected scores were within two points of each other going into the Monday night game, I had Aaron Rodgers yet to play, and was feeling a little bold. I suggested a wager, loser cooks dinner. Not even five minutes after the parameters of the bet had been set, Rodgers goes down and is “slow to get up” after a particularly hard hit. Defeat tastes an awful lot like pot roast and pineapple pound cake. Yum.  Pineapple Pound Cake 2013-11-14 14:38:37 Serves 6 Fluffy pound cake with a hint of pineapple. Write a review Save Recipe Print Prep Time 20 min Cook Time 1 hr Total Time 1 hr 20 min Prep Time 20 min Cook Time 1 hr Total Time 1 hr 20 min Ingredients 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/4 cup shortening 1/4 cup butter 3 large eggs 1 1/2 cups sugar 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 1/2 cup pineapple juice Instructions 1. Cream sugar, shortening and butter. 2. Add eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition. 3. Wisk the baking powder and flour together. Add to the batter in ½ cup increments mixing well after each addition. 4. Add the vanilla and pineapple juice to batter and blend well. Scrape down the edges of the bowl to make sure everything is well combined. 5. Pour the batter into a well greased and floured or parchment paper lined 9 x 5 loaf pan. 6. Place in a cold oven; set oven to 325 degrees and bake for 1 hour or until done. Cake should be completely set and springy when touched Notes Since you are starting this cake in a cold oven, bake time will depend on how quickly your oven comes to temperature. The cake should take between 1 and 1 1/2 hours to bake. By Carissa Carissa Designs...

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Halloween Party + Witch’s Brew Recipe

Posted by on 12:53 am in Parties, Recipes | 0 comments

Halloween Party + Witch’s Brew Recipe

It’s November. Boy, did October fly by. I’m slowly talking myself into taking down my Halloween decorations. I was able to stretch the season a few days longer since my Halloween party was this past Saturday. I tend to plan my Halloween party for the weekend after Halloween for two main reasons: I have an excuse to leave the decorations up I can hit up the stores for half price party supplies This year, I decided to create an elegant but haunted feel for my theme. I covered the house with spider webs, crystals, and lights. The buffet table was set up with lots of treats, both sweet and savory. A big thank you to everyone who contributed food for the party. The next morning, there were only a few sad cupcakes and cookies left over (and I might have eaten a few for breakfast). Along with all the edible treats, I made a big bowl of Witch’s Brew. I was honestly surprised by how much of a hit this ended up being! Sweet and tangy, this punch is great right out of the bowl but subtle enough that it lends itself well to the addition of a shot of your favorite liquor (I recommend rum, vodka, or tequila). The bright green color is super fun, too. I’m including the recipe at the end of this post for anyone who wants to make it. And finally, what Halloween party is complete without a costume contest? Shout out to all of the winners: Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, Flo, Forrest Gump (After he had been runnnning), Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, Jack Skellington, and a lovely Peacock. Not going to lie, I was pretty impressed with by the level of commitment. Especially from our grand prize winners: Walter White and Jesse Pinkman for the win. If you want to see more pictures from the party, check out my facebook page. Thanks again to everyone who came out and made this party such a huge success!  Witch's Brew 2013-11-05 18:27:19 Serves 20 A delightfully green witch's brew perfect for Halloween. Write a review Save Recipe Print Prep Time 20 min Prep Time 20 min Ingredients 3 (3 ounce) packages lime flavored Jell-O® mix 1 cup white sugar 13 cups boiling water 2 (46 fluid ounce) cans pineapple juice 1 (12 ounce) frozen lemonade concentrate 2 (2 liter) bottles ginger ale, chilled Instructions In a large bowl, combine gelatin and sugar. Stir in boiling water until mixture is dissolved. Stir in pineapple juice and lemonade concentrate. Divide into 2 freezer bags (it will fit, I promise), and freeze until solid. To serve, take one bag of frozen gelatin and one bottle of ginger ale. Run the bag of frozen gelatin under some warm running water to loosen it up a bit. With a pair of scissors, cut the bag away, place gelatin mixture in punch bowl, and chop into pieces. Pour in ginger ale. Repeat this process when the punch bowl is empty. By Carissa Adapted from All Recipes Adapted from All Recipes Carissa Designs...

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Magic Kingdom Scavenger Hunt

Posted by on 3:57 am in Free Printable! | 0 comments

Magic Kingdom Scavenger Hunt

I’ve been planning a trip to Disney World over the last few months and it’s finally here. I’d like to take a moment and thank my family and friends for not strangling me when I started my countdown 6 months ago (and started driving them all crazy). Over the last few weeks I’ve tried to keep myself busy with planning, creating lists, and watching too many Disney movies. For the most part, this has been enough to keep my obsession in check. On the occasion that I needed something more, I started working on some Disney projects. A few weeks ago I made a Food and Wine scavenger hunt for EPCOT. I had so much fun designing that game that I decided to do it again. I present the Magic Kingdom Scavenger hunt: I’ve made two versions of this game. The short version is available as a free download. There are 12 riddles to solve that will take you all over the Magic Kingdom. The extended version is the project that kept me busy when the Disney itch needed scratching. It is available for sale in my Etsy store.  This version has 24 riddles and is formatted as a scrapbook where you can store all the photos you take while completing the hunt. I’ve also included a section of autograph pages: The files will download instantly and the book only takes about an hour or two to assemble. It’s pretty easy to figure out, but I have also included step-by-step instructions to get you from printer to completed book. The finished book is about 8 x 5 inches and makes a nice keepsake of your Disney trip. I’ll be taking my book with me on this upcoming trip and update this post with pictures from my own trip. There are two ways to use the scavenger hunt. You can divide into teams and compete against each other to see who can get the most points or you can use the hunt as a guide to explore The Magic Kingdom and play without a time limit. I plan on making more of these books when I get back from my trip. Are there any scavenger hunts you want to see in the future? Leave a comment and I’ll see if I can make it happen.  Click here to purchase the extended Magic Kingdom Scavenger Hunt. Free – Magic Kingdom Scavenger Hunt Checkout Added to cart...

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Elegant Black Cat Halloween Party

Posted by on 7:25 pm in Free Printable!, Parties | 0 comments

Elegant Black Cat Halloween Party

Halloween is just around the corner and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve already made several trips to the craft store to assemble the pieces of my costume and apologized to Savannah for roping her in to this year’s theme. She was a pumpkin last year. While I know that pictures of Savannah dressed up as a pumpkin could fill up the blog, I actually have an important announcement to make: The final part of my website is live. That’s right, my online store is open! Check me out on Etsy: CarissaDesignsShop. CarissaDesigns was already taken. Go figure. I only have one set for sale at the moment, but I will be adding many things over the next few months. This means that I will be baking a ton of cupcakes for these upcoming photo shoots (and sending them to class with Clint so I don’t end up eating them all). My first pattern set is just in time for Halloween. It’s an Elegant Black Cat party. The set includes cupcake toppers, cupcake wrappers, table cards, treat cones, thank you treat bag decorations, and a Happy Halloween banner. The files are all high quality PDF’s and will be available to download once payment has been processed. Files can be printed at home or at your local print/copy store. I’ve also created a Halloween Party board on Pinterest with recipe and decoration ideas. As a thank you to those of you who are reading the blog, I’m uploading the cupcake toppers as a free download. Free – Black Cat Cupcake Toppers Checkout Added to cart If you like the cupcake toppers, be sure to visit the shop to buy the whole set: Elegant Black Cat...

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Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Posted by on 7:11 pm in Recipes | 0 comments

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

It’s October. I can start blogging about Halloween now, right? Good. Weeeeeeeee! MY FAVORITE TIME OF YEAR IS HERE! Halloween is, by far, my favorite holiday. Nothing else comes close. I have a timer on my computer that counts down to Halloween every year just like the clock tower in The Nightmare Before Christmas. I have two boxes of Halloween decorations and one box for the rest of the holidays. I’ve known what I’m going to be for Halloween since August and have already started prep work for my annual Halloween party. Even though my birthday is in September, I can remember having Halloween themed birthdays and a jack-o-lantern piñata full of treats. Yes, I am *that* person Speaking of parties, my birthday came and went last month and I didn’t even bake myself a cake. The Halloween party, on the other hand, will have a full dessert buffet. Yes, my priorities are exactly where they need to be. Along with a table of desserts, Clint and Carl are brewing some of their famous pumpkin ale. Last year, we had 5 gallons and it was gone halfway through the party. This year they decided that history wouldn’t repeat itself. Behold, the makings of 30 gallons of pumpkin ale. Yes, I said 30 gallons. Granted, we will only have 15 gallons on tap at the party. I don’t think we have to worry about running out this year… provided that we don’t drink it all before the party. mmmmm… pumpkin beer. While all the pumpkin flesh went into the brew kettle and gave up its pumpkin goodness for the sake of the beer, we were left with a mountain of pumpkin seeds. The only logical action at this point would be to resort to my favorite post pumpkin carving treat: oven roasted pumpkin seeds. Since I had over 8 cups of seeds, I decided to make three flavor versions. The first batch is what I consider my “traditional” recipe. I toss the seeds with onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and salt. My second batch was sweet. I tossed the seeds with sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little salt. For the final batch, I decided to do something a little out of the box. I combined garlic powder, onion powder, Worcester sauce, soy sauce, a few drops of sesame seed oil, and salt. While the Asian flavor was a great take on this snack, the seeds themselves were a little soggy. I’m going to give them a few more tries before I give them the seal of approval. I’ve included my basic recipe for making pumpkin seeds. Feel free to play around with flavors you like and post your favorite combinations in the comments.  Oven Roasted Pumpkin Seeds 2013-10-02 14:01:04 A tasty snack for fall pumpkins. Write a review Save Recipe Print Prep Time 15 min Cook Time 1 hr Total Time 1 hr 15 min Prep Time 15 min Cook Time 1 hr Total Time 1 hr 15 min Ingredients 1 ½ cup pumpkin seeds 2 tablespoon melted butter 2-3 tablespoons seasoning Instructions Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Cover a baking dish with a piece of parchment paper. Wash the seeds and remove the large chunks of pumpkin guts. Don’t worry if there is still some pulp, it will...

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EPCOT Food and Wine Festival Scavenger Hunt

Posted by on 8:04 pm in Free Printable! | 1 comment

EPCOT Food and Wine Festival Scavenger Hunt

This blog has been up and running for several months now and I’m surprised that this is the first time I’m typing the following sentence. I love Disney. I grew up in California about an hour away from Disneyland. My parents took me to see Mickey for the first time when I was just a few months old and it was all downhill from there. Over the years, I’ve somehow convinced family, friends, and my boyfriend to take trips with me to the parks. My brother could tell you stories of being dragged around Disneyland when my parents decided that we were old to tour without them. He wasn’t too happy to find out that he would be the one getting up at 7:00 while my parents slept in and met us at lunch. I think he forgave me once he realized that getting to the park early meant that we got to ride Space Mountain 5 times in a row with no wait. When it comes to vacations I am, without a doubt, a researcher. I like reading everything I can while preparing for my upcoming trip. It gets me excited and keeps me from driving everyone around me crazy. Although there is an endless supply of Disney planning information out there, my favorite website has to be The DIS. This is my go to website when I’m planning a trip… or going through withdrawals between trips. I spend most of my time on the forums keeping up the latest news and park developments. I mostly lurk, but every now and then I contribute some of my Disney knowledge. Recently, one of my fellow message board contributors posted a question to the community. They wanted to know if anyone had suggestions for an EPCOT Food and Wine Festival scavenger hunt. Well, I love scavenger hunts. I love EPCOT. And, as you can see from this blog, I love food. A perfect combination.   Ah, EPCOT. How I love thee. I immediately started making a list in my head of fun scavenger hunt type activities around World Showcase. I could have stopped there, but where’s the fun in that? I decided to make an actual printable scorecard for the game that people could print out and use for their own Food and Wine festivities. Free – Food and Wine Scavenger Hunt Checkout Added to cart  This game is geared for adults and there are a few alcohol references. It is the Food and Wine Festival, after all. I recommend printing these scorecards on cardstock so that they hold up during the game. Feel free to use this game for your next Food and Wine adventure or post them on your own website. Just be sure to link back here.   Some tips: This game works best with a group of six or more. Play during the day before World Showcase becomes super congested. Set a two to three hour time limit for the game. Be sure to visit the shops in the different pavilions if you are stumped while trying to find something on the list. Save the pictures as a fun reminder of your trip. Enjoy!...

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