Sweet Holiday TREEt

Holiday Sweet Tree-t

I clipped this recipe from a magazine last month thinking it would be a fun treat to make with the grandkids. I’m glad I decided to do it myself. My suggestion is to have all the shapes cut beforehand and let the kids do the assembling. No doubt the sticky, gooey sweetness will score big for the little ones.

What this recipe lacks in ingredients, it more than makes up for in calories. Let’s see, an entire box of Fruity Pebbles cereal, 1/2 stick of butter, one bag of mini marshmallows and frosting. Need I say more? Bite-size portions are in the neighborhood of 105 calories (most being sugar grams). I am guessing the recipe can serve up to 36.

Mix together melted marshamallows and cereal


  • 1 box Fruity Pebbles cereal
  • 1/2 stick butter (you use margarine)
  • 1 package mini-marshmallows ( 10 1/2 ounces)
  • 16 ounce ready-to-spread cream cheese frosting (or vanilla) 
  • Stacking cookie cutters (I used both round and daisy shapes because it’s what I had). The recipe called for star shapes. Improvise if you must.


Melt the butter in a deep fry pan over low heat. Add the marshmallows and continue to melt and stir on low heat.

When marshmallows are completely melted, gradually add cereal. Mix well ensuring cereal has an even coat of marshmallow mixture.

Spread mixture in a 13"  x 9" baking dish

Lightly coat a 13″ x 9″ pan with non-stick cooking spray. Evenly and firmly spread the gooey mixture into pan . I found a sheet of wax paper helps.

Let the mixture set up for 45 minutes to an hour before cutting with shaped cutouts.


The tree is stacked with 5 different size cut-outs. You need two of each size. I used a large circle for the base of tree, and rotated each shape based on diameter size (largest to smallest).

Each cut-out is attached to the next by frosting.  Fill in any bare spots with additional frosting and decorate with holiday candies. I used a peppermint candy as the tree topper.


You will need to bear down on the cookie cutter to cut through the gooey mixture. This is why I suggest making the cut-outs ahead of time when working with small children.


Cut shapes with cookie cutters

The cookie cutters should have some depth and be stable enough to cut without bending.


Cut out the stackable shapes from the cereal mixture

Attach the pieces with ready-to-serve frosting

Once the tree is constructed, keep it covered. I placed the tree on a holiday plate and covered with tented aluminum foil. Store in the fridge for up to 7 days.

Now, here is the big question. How in the world do you cut this tree for serving? My answer, “I have no idea”. My thoughts are you start disassembling at the top of tree and work your way down, cutting into serving sizes.

Bunyan Backwoods Bologna Breakfast

I’m not certain who cooked it, where it was  or even when it was, but I vividly remember the taste of fried bologna sandwiches as a kid. It would blacken in the cast-iron skillet while pan-searing. Oh so crispy, and oh so good. Where am I heading with this?

Fried BolognaWell…the other night I spotted a package of bologna in the fridge. It was purchased to make sandwiches for the grandkids. Unfortunately, they aren’t nuts about bologna and I wasn’t going to waste an entire package of bologna. A revised game plan was needed.

Fried bologna, fried potatoes and fried eggs dance around in my head (not really, but I just wanted to say it). This is a campfire breakfast. Something Paul Bunyan might have eaten before cutting down an entire forest. Hence, the name Bunyan Backwoods Breakfast. At least that’s the story I’m sticking to. My end results proved worthy of the idea and effort. Even the wine guy had a helping (or two).

 I use dehydrated hash browns (you add hot water and soak 10-12 minutes before cooking) and add freshly diced onion. Once the hashbrowns were a nice golden brown 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar was added and topped with 3 eggs.

Season with salt and pepper. Place a cover over the skillet and kick up the stove top heat to ensure the eggs cook through.

You can also cook the fried eggs separately. Plate hashbrowns and top with pre-cooked fried eggs.

Or, how about an egg scramble? Beat 3 eggs just as you would for scrambled eggs. Mix into hash browns and cook until the eggs are a nice yellow color, flipping or stirring halfway through.

Whatever egg variation used, the key ingredient is the blackened bologna. If you seek something leaner and lower in calories, consider turkey bologna.

A number of ingredients can be added to this dish. I selected chopped tomato and fresh spinach leaves as my garnish. But, banana pepper rings, diced red pepper or sliced mushrooms are other options.

Serving size is 1 cup of potato/egg mix plus (1) slice of fried bologna. It generously serves three and is in the neighborhood of 350 calories. Substituting low-fat cheddar cheese (I used 1/2 cup of cheese) and reduced-fat turkey bologna will bring the caloric intake down to 300.

Use non-stick cooking spray to cook the potatoes and pan-sear the bologna. Reserve the cherished olive oil for dishes where it really makes a difference in taste. This isn’t one of those meals (my opinion).

Cinnamon Roasted Almonds

Cinnamon Roasted Almonds

I love the smell of cinnamon at the holidays, come on, who doesn’t? This week, the wine guy brought home a plentiful amount of raw almonds. A California winery sent him a 50 pound box for servicing and managing their brands. He shared the wealth with co-workers and brought home a few pounds for us to have at the house for Christmas.

Cinnamon and sugar seemed a perfect union for the almonds. And that’s what I doing on this snowy Saturday morning. I’m roasting almonds in the oven. I plan to gift most of them because Blimpy Girl doesn’t need the taunt of a temptation everytime I pass the nut dish.

Coat the raw almonds in egg white

This is such an easy recipe and takes about 15 minutes to prepare and 1 hour to roast.

I purchased Mason jars at Hobby Lobby to package the roasted goodies. I’ll dress the jars with some creative touches and gift tags and post a picture later this week.



  • 4 cups whole almonds
  • 1/2 cup white sugar mixed with 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg white mixed with 1 teaspoon cold water

Kick up the oven to 250 degrees F. While it’s warming up, beat the egg white and water in a good size bowl. You want the egg to be frothy, but not stiff. Add the almonds to the egg mixture and toss until they are completely coated.

Dump the sugar mixture in the bowl and mix until the nuts are covered with the sugar. Lightly spray a cookie sheet with non-stick oil and spread the almonds onto the pan. You want a single layer of nuts.

Pop into the oven and roast for 1 hour, turning the almonds at mid-point. Once the almonds cool, store in an airtight container.

I told you this easy! What I won’t tell is how many calories you consume when shoveling a handful in your mouth. **wink**

Create Holiday Table Atmosphere

Make your own table centerpieces for the holiday

I have a number of clear vases leftover from a summer wedding event. I had actually forgotten about them until digging in the attic for Christmas stuff. I was determined to find a a use for them this holiday. They were purchased at the local Dollar Store for $1 each.

Walking to the mailbox, I noticed straight twigs sticking out of ground. They were the remains from a plant cut back this fall. I fumbled around the garage for my garden clippers and away I went.

A few snippets of cedar pine, 4 or 5 twigs, water, a few drops of food coloring (I used orange to create an amber color) and I was ready to assemble my vase.

I partially filled the vase with water and added the coloring. The greens and twigs were placed around the inside perimeter of the vase.

A 6-inch stearine candle, purchased from Ikea, was centered inside the vase. They burn clean with no dripping. Be sure to have enough cedar clippings to keep the candle upright.

I do have concerns about what will happen once the candle burns down to the twigs and greenery. I’m giving it a test run, but have a back up plan. I certainly don’t want to set the holiday table on fire.

Inserting a clear glass taper candle holder inside the vase will lift the base of the candle above the greens/twigs. I will fill the vase with water to the top of the candle holder which should prevent any fire hazards.

The second plan is using floating candles. I’ve already tested this and it works well. The only problem with floating candles is their burn time is very limited. They should, however, last through a holiday dinner.

I am excited about using these at my annual Christmas Eve dinner. Fresh boughs of pine and colorful Christmas bulbs will be the table runner. These candles will be placed throughout. Love it! Total cost was around $2 per candle centerpiece.

Handmade Sourdough Pizza

My good friend, Charlie, gifted me and the wine guy with an incredible loaf of freshly baked sourdough bread and a batch of fresh dough for pizza.

Homemade Sourdough Pizza

It didn’t take long for us to use the dough, or for the wine guy to devour the baked pizza. This is what was left of the pizza once the man sunk his teeth into it. I got one corner piece. The dough was hand spread onto a cookie sheet and brush with basil olive oil. Finely chopped garlic and sliced tomatoes were the only toppings.

It’s amazing how awesome a pizza can taste without cheese. Certainly the olive oil makes up the difference in cheese calories, but a light brushing of olive oil isn’t going to do much damage in the way of calories.