Today is my third annual Christmas cookie roundup! I selected my favorite Christmas cookies from all over the web to share today. I will note most of these cookies do have gluten in them, but the gingerbread love cookies are gluten free. Pick out a recipe or two and get to baking this holiday weekend!Christmas Cookie Roundup 2014 // Twin Stripe

Clockwise from top left: Brown Butter Maple Gingerbread Cookies, Beth Cakes Blog  |  Raspberry Linzer Snowflake Cookies, The Speckled Palate  |  Date “Snow” Balls, Crumbs and Chaos  |  Chocolate Shortbread Cookie with Boozy Whipped Cream and Cinnamon Caramel, Kale & Caramel  |  No-Bake Avalanche Cookies, Feast + West  |  Chocolate Shortbread Cookies, Chez CateyLou  |  Gingerbread Love Cookie, Wallflour Bakery  |  Chocolate Covered Pretzel Presents, Half Baked Harvest

Want more cookies? Don’t miss the 2013 and 2012 cookie roundups!
What cookies are you baking this year? What’s your favorite Christmas cookie?

I can’t believe Christmas is less than a week away! Chad and I have a holiday date night planned on Saturday evening that will be filled with cocktails and Christmas lights. I’m heading to Chicago on Sunday evening to spend a few days with my girlfriends and celebrating “SLAPR Christmas”, a holiday tradition I’ll be sharing on Monday. Have a wonderful weekend!

katie

La Marquita Cocktail & The North American Whiskey Guide Giveaway

Are you looking for a new cocktail to round out your holiday party menu? Last week Nicole from NC Made shared a tasty recipe for a La Manzana, a tequila based cocktail. Today I’m sharing a whiskey cocktail that is filled with fruit and spices. I’ve never been a huge fun of whiskey, but this cocktail really grew on me and I can’t wait to make it again!

I was recently given The North American Whiskey Guide from Behind the Bar: Real Bartenders’ Reviews of More Than 250 Whiskeys by Chad Berkey and Jeremy LeBlanc. It is perfect for your bar cart. It contains over 250 whiskey reviews and tasty cocktail recipes.

Click through to learn how to make the La Marquita and win a copy of the Whiskey Guide!

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Almond Chai with Dates and Honey from Almonds - Recipes, History Culture

The past few months I’ve been on a chai tea latte kick. The spices in it are cozy, perfect for a chilly day. I had been wondering how to create my own chai latte when I found a recipe for an almond chai beverage in a new cookbook, Almonds: Recipes, History, Culture, that was sent to me for review. I can’t wait to try more of  the recipes, but this one seemed perfect for the holiday season. Accompany your holiday brunch or late night dessert with a comforting cup of spicy almond chai.

Almond Chai with Dates and Honey from Almonds - Recipes, History Culture

Almonds: Recipes, History, Culture - Book Review // Twin StripeAlmond Chai with Dates and Honey
Recipe courtesy of Almonds: Recipes, History, Culture

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups water
4 cloves
3 cardamom pods, crushed
2 Medjool dates
1 cinnamon stick
1-in fresh ginger, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk (see recipe below)
1 tablespoon black tea
Honey

Combine the water, cloves, cardamom, dates, cinnamon, ginger and peppercorns in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Partially cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add the almond milk and tea. Simmer, partially covered, for 5 minutes. Add honey to taste if desired. Strain into warm mugs. Serve immediately.

Unsweetened Almond Milk
Recipe courtesy of Almonds: Recipes, History, Culture

Ingredients

1 cup (4 oz) raw almonds
3 cups water

Soak the almonds in water to cover overnight. Drain. Puree the almonds and water in a blender or food processor for 1 minute. Strain through a sieve lined with cheese cloth. Discard the solids. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Almond Chai with Dates and Honey from Almonds - Recipes, History Culture

This recipe is easy to follow and creates a delicious and comforting drink. After you taste it, you may find it needs to be sweeter, so be sure add a little bit of honey. Grab your mug and curl up on the couch with a good book and relax! And, if you are looking for a perfect last minute Christmas gift for someone who loves to cook, I would highly recommend picking up a copy of Almonds: Recipes, History, Culture!

katie

 

Last Minute Gift Ideas: Themed Gift Boxes // Twin StripeDo you need a last minute hostess gift or need some inspiration for a hard to buy for friend? Putting together a custom gift basket filled with goodies you know they will love is the perfect solution! Today I’m sharing my gift box ideas for the coffee fanatic, baking queen and cocktail lover, but the types of gift baskets you can make are endless. Even if you are running out of time, you can still put a great gift basket together at Target the grocery store.Here are a few other gift basket ideas to get your wheels spinning:

  • Spa/relax basket
  • Movie night basket
  • Wine basket
  • Craft basket
  • Locally-themed basket
  • Manicure basket
  • Beer basket
  • Healthy snack basket

What type of basket would top your holiday list?

Last Minute Gift Ideas: Coffee Fanatic's Gift Box // Twin Stripe

For my coffee basket, I started with the most important item – coffee. I recommend picking their favorite blend or something special like locally roasted Counter Culture holiday coffee. If you aren’t able to get coffee from a local roaster, Starbucks and Caribou always have tasty holiday blends too. I added two large striped mugs that are from the fall Oh Joy! for Target collection. I also love the gold monogramed mugs from Anthropologie if you’re looking for a different option. I also found these fun vanilla stirrers that sound like a perfect addition to any cup of coffee. I placed all of the goodies in a small round basket and added some greenery to make it festive.
Last Minute Gift Ideas: Baking Queen's Gift Box // Twin Stripe

There are so many different things you could put in to a baker’s box depending on how often the receiver’s baking stye. I lined my box with an adorable “Sugar Cookies for Santa” tea towel and added goodies from there. I picked up traditional baking supplies such as chocolate chips, cookie cutters and sprinkles, but I also decided to add a maple pecan bread mix. The holidays can get crazy, so having a boxed mix at home can come in handy. You can also add flour, sugar or anything else your baking queen would love! Last Minute Gift Ideas: Cocktail Lover's Gift Box // Twin Stripe

I’m not going to lie, this is the gift box I would want! I love a good cocktail and it would taste even better in the Mr. & Mrs. Holiday Cocktail Glasses from Furbish. I also added an easy to use mixer, The Filthy Liar from White Whale. All you need to do is add some ice and gin and your cocktail is ready to go. (Be sure to know your friend’s favorite liquor.) I rounded out the basket with festive napkins and holiday cocktail picks. Depending on your budget, you can a bottle of liquor, additional mixer or other bar supplies.

I had such a great time putting these gift baskets together, I need to make them more often for my friends and family! If you need more gift box ideas, stop by Design Love Fest’s currated gift boxes for some beautiful ideas.

Also, congratulations to Katie of Hot Tea and the Empty Seat, she was the lucky winner of a set of Jamberry Nail wraps!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. This month is sure going fast! It’s hard to believe that Christmas is only 10 days away. Chad and I had a busy weekend filled with holiday parties, gift wrapping and more! See you on Wednesday.

katie

Plaid Holiday Tree for Small Spaces // Twin Stripe

Do you have a small space you want to decorate for the holidays but aren’t sure what to do with it? I created a plaid Christmas tree for my gold striped bulletin board that takes up little space and looks so festive! If you have a small space that needs some holiday cheer, put up your own plaid tree.

Plaid Holiday Tree for Small Spaces // Twin Stripe

To put up your own plaid tree, you will first need to get it printed. The image is 23″x 18″ so you will need to send it to a copy store with a wide format printer like Office Depot or FexEd Office.

Plaid Christmas tree download (23″x18″)

Plaid Holiday Tree for Small Spaces // Twin StripeOnce you have your tree printed, tack or tape it to your bulletin board or wall. (You might also want to remove the excess white, depending on where you are hanging it.) I used baker’s twine and gold baubles to create a garland that runs from top to bottom of my tree. The sky is the limit when crafting your garland. I used and assortment of things that I had left over from other projects including:

  • ribbons
  • bows
  • beads
  • mini bells
  • tassels
  • sequins
  • washi tape
  • crepe paper

I used clear tape to secure the garland on each side of the tree. I topped my tree with a gold fan from the Oh Joy! for Target collection and surrounded my tree with holiday cards we have received. It makes my office look so festive and takes up none of my work space!

Plaid Holiday Tree for Small Spaces // Twin Stripe

Tonight is my office’s holiday party! I’m looking forward to dressing up this evening and spending time with coworkers out of the office. Tomorrow I’m heading to the Triad’s NC Blogger Network’s holiday soiree! (And don’t miss my profile on NC Blogger Network.) I will also be spending a lot of time wrapping presents and sending holiday cards. What do you have going on this weekend?

katie