Archive for December 15th, 2012

December 15, 2012

Veggie Christmas Tree

Nice veggie tree online

Hi, there, HH Family and Friends! It’s Brooke here. Are you looking for a show-stopping appetizer for your holiday parties or for Christmas dinner? I have a great solution for you . . . a Veggie Christmas Tree! Now, for those of you who are craft-challenged like I am, just take a deep breath and relax. I worried about making this little masterpiece all week long, and when I finally got to it, this project was surprisingly easy and fun. This is also a great way to involve your kiddos in your kitchen festivities. Here is the link that I got my instructions from: http://www.squidoo.com/veggie-christmas-tree. I had too many veggies (is that possible?), so I adjusted the amount of broccoli, etc. from the recipe online.

What You Need

-For this project, you will need some craft items and plenty of fresh veggies.
-I used 8″x3″ green Styrofoam cone, for a just over 12″ tall finished tree, so the shopping list will work for this size tree.
-If you want a smaller or larger tree, just adjust your groceries accordingly.

Craft Items:
– Styrofoam cone – approx. 8”x3″
– small disposable veggie tray (you will be hot gluing the tree to the tray, so plastic, disposable works best BUT you could forego the glue and just set the tree on a nice dish, too)
– hot glue gun & glue sticks (optional)
– flat toothpicks
– round wooden skewers (optional)
– Linzer tart cookie cutter (for tiny star shape cutter)
– wire cutter or strong scissor (to cut skewers)

Grocery List:
– 2 large bunches Broccoli
– 1 large Broccoliflower
– 1 large Cauliflower
– 1+ Red Bell Pepper (depending if you would like to serve extra on the side)
– 1+ Yellow Bell Pepper (depending if you would like to serve extra on the side)
– 1 package cherry tomatoes
– 1 jar cocktail onions
– 1 bag of baby carrots

STEP 1 – Hot glue your Styrofoam cone to your plastic tray (optional). This makes a stable base and makes transportation very easy.STEP 2 – Cut your Broccoli, Cauliflower and broccoliflower into dipping sized pieces. Sizes should vary but shouldn’t be too large or too small.

STEP 3 – Attach your broccoli and broccoliflower to the cone with ROUND toothpicks, grouped in clusters, with larger pieces at the bottom and graduating up to the top. Don’t worry if there are small holes in your design, they will be filled in later with carrots and other decorations.

When you get to the top, and toothpicks are not long enough, cut skewers with a wire cutter or strong scissor to pick your veggies into place until you achieve a perfect tree shape.

STEP 4 – Cut 1 red pepper and 1 yellow pepper into dipping size strips. Tuck the ends of those strips into the tree, in a spiral, starting at the top and spiraling down to the bottom. Tuck a carrot in next to them to hold them in if needed. No toothpicks needed, here.

STEP 5 – Poke carrot sticks intermittently in holes between the broccoli and broccoliflower florets. No toothpicks needed.

STEP 6 – Use FLAT toothpicks to secure cherry tomatoes and cocktail onions to the tree. Poke small side all the way through onion or tomato. Press tomato or onion into tree.

STEP 7 – Cut out stars with small linzer tart cookie cutter from 1 yellow pepper. Save 1 large piece to hand cut 1 larger star for top, or make a paper stencil or use a larger cookie cutter if you’d like for large star.

Secure stars with toothpicks poked and secured right in broccoli pieces.

STEP 8 – Fill tray base with cauliflower.

STEP 9 – Refrigerate until serving. I spritzed it with water and covered with Press ‘N Seal, and it still looked completely fresh the next day!

Dips to Go With the Tree

You can also offer a selection of healthy dips for your guests to enjoy as they dismantle the tree. Hummus makes a wonderful, protein-rich dip for raw veggies. And if you think hummus tastes only slightly more interesting than wallpaper paste, you need to follow me! Here are two of my favorites:

Baby Zach’s Spicy Smoked BBQ Hummus—I mark the start of my love affair with hummus the day I tasted this. All of Baby Zach’s hummus blends are creative, vegan (and gluten-free), and delicious. You will be SO glad you tried it. Here’s the link: http://babyzachs.com/products/

Eat Well Enjoy Life’s Spicy Yellow Lentil Hummus (with Sunflower Seeds and Apricots)—If you like your food tricked up and awesome tasting, you have to try this gem. Eat Well Enjoy Life has a number of great hummus blends, which are also vegan and gluten-free. They will change your opinion of healthy snacking, I promise! Here’s the link: http://eatwell-enjoylife.com/our-hummus/

The Finished Product

My version of veggie tree

Well, mine didn’t turn out quite as lovely as the one shown at the beginning, but no matter. I still had fun putting it together, and you will too. Good luck and healthy holidays to you!

Cheers,

Brooke

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December 15, 2012

1st Annual Healthy Holiday Party!

104

Happy Holidays Housewives!

The holiday season is in full effect and that means time for holiday parties! The past few years, I have thrown holiday parties and have grown to love the hosting part. There is so much preparation that goes on behind the scenes from buying the food, decorations, and table settings that it could be overwhelming. Having a plan surely helps. It takes a few parties to get it down, but once you do, you will throw a great party and enjoy the process!

This year we had our 1st annual healthy holiday party at our beauty expert’s, Shelly Mac, home. So Shelly and I were the host this year. We were using her house and my party planning expertise. We had so much fun planning that the party was absolutely perfect!

Shelly Mac as a sexy santa host!

Shelly Mac as a sexy santa host!

An experience host knows that the most memorable dinners have more in common than just good food and great company. I love a fancy table setting with fresh flowers, candles, and nice tableware. This presentation makes a statement when your guests sit down to eat. Hearing your guests compliment the table makes all the hard work and effort worth it.

Our holiday table setting

Our holiday table setting

Shelly and I greeted our guest at the door and welcomed them with a glass a wine as we made our final preparations to the food. To make the party more special we decided each Healthy Housewife would be in charge of a part of the menu. I love when guest take part of a party! It makes it more fun for everyone. Our menu looked like this:

Brooke- (appetizers) Veggie Christmas tree with a few different dips

Marzia- (main meal) Vegan meatloaf with gravy and wine selection

Danielle-(side dish) Sweet potato casserole

Shelly-(side dish) Acorn squash

Kathy- (dessert) Pumpkin  chia pudding

Sandy-(dessert) Santa berries

Also, Shelly came up with a great cocktail to toast to. It’s called a pointsetta. It is champagne with some cranberry juice. We used POMS cranberry cherry juice. Our bubbly drink had the right taste of sweetness. I brought a few different types of wine as well for the dinner part. I brought an old favorite called the Chocolate Shop. (A friend introduced it to me last Christmas.) It a sweet red wine with a taste of chocolate. Also, I couldn’t help myself and I bought a wine because the label had “Housewife” in it. Why not! We also had a couple white wine selections as well. We got all these selections at our local Krogers.

Christmas Cocktails

After our guest had a cocktail in their hand we brought out some fun little party outfits for the kitchen. I had bought some elf and santa hat headbands with matching aprons. We are a fun group and we rocked our kitchen outfits!

Kathy Hamilton and Shelly Mac in thier Christmas kitchen wear

Kathy Hamilton and Shelly Mac in thier Christmas kitchen wear

We all had a great time preparing our healthy feast and enjoying each others company. We love to joke around and catch up with each other’s busy lives. The holiday party was flawless as we wrapped up the party with a gift exchange.

The gift table

The gift table

When the party was over, all the housewives pitched in to help each other clean up. We said our goodbye’s and it was time to turn in. I am really blessed to have met a great group of women who are positive role models for many women out there. We are a tight knit group who are eager to change the world for the better and share the same vision. I am grateful that these type of women exsist in today’s world!

The BEST group of women hands down!

The BEST group of women hands down!

The 2012 healthy holiday party was a HUGE success. Looking forward to our next adventure together. Love these ladies!

My next blog will have all our recipes and the images.

Marzia

December 15, 2012

Happy and Safe Howlidays!

sweet doxy

Hi, there! This is Brooke, your pet-loving gal here. The holidays are in full swing, and you are probably up to your eyebrows in things to do, cookies to bake, and cards to send—I know I am! Here are some tips on keeping your cherished pets safe and happy during this festive season.

Christmas Trees

This is an example of a bad kitty!

This is an example of a bad kitty!

  1. Make sure to anchor your trees from adventurous kitties that climb and dogs with crazily wagging tails—you don’t want all your hard work “decking” the tree to come crashing down in the middle of your eggnog!
  2. If you have a live tree, keep your animals from drinking the tree water, which may be full of pesticides as well as bacteria from the stagnant water. Ingestion of these nasty things can cause diarrhea, nausea, and upset stomach.
  3. Regardless of whether your tree is real or artificial, be sure to clean up the dropped needles often. Curious pets will eat those needles faster than you can say “No, don’t—!“ They are toxic and will cause vomiting, even if fake (trust me on this).
  4. Do not leave pets unattended with the Christmas tree, if possible. A fully decorated tree comes stocked with all kinds of dangerous “toys”:
    • Hot light strands can burn or electrocute dogs or cats, which have a tendency to chew on things. Keep light strands secured and covered or away from the lower levels of the tree.
    • Be sure to put glass or metal ornaments higher up on the tree, and watch for broken ornaments with sharp hooks or attachments—little paws can easily step on these items.
    • Tinsel may be beautiful, but it’s a big no-no, especially for cat households. Cats will ALWAYS find stringy, dangly items, and tinsel (along with other strings or wires) can be ingested and can get tangled in the stomach or intestines, leading to scary emergency surgery or even death if not caught in time. No thank you!!

Holiday Plants

Many plants that make our houses cherry and bright this time of year are bad news for our furry family members. For a more extensive list of toxic and non-toxic plants, check out this link from the ASPCA: http://www.aspca.org/Pet-care/poison-control/Plants. If you suspect your pet has gotten into anything suspicious, whether plant, food, or otherwise, be sure to call your veterinarian or emergency vet clinic IMMEDIATELY. You can also call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Hotline, which is open 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year: (888) 426-4435.

Common Holiday Plants Your Pets Should Avoid

  1. Lilies: deadly to cats, can cause kidney failure
  2. Mistletoe (especially the berries): highly toxic, causes upset stomach and potentially fatal heart problems
  3. Holly: causes nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and lethargy
  4. Poinsettias: not as toxic as often thought, these should still be avoided as they can upset pets’ digestive system
  5. Amaryllis: causes diarrhea and vomiting
  6. Certain species of ivy, namely English ivy: can be extremely harmful if ingested

Forbidden Food and Drinks

fridge danger

We all know that your animal friends are very skilled at watching you pitifully as you shove another yummy treat in your mouth. Their doleful eyes entreat you to share a bit of delicious food with them. Don’t do it!! You can show your pets that you love them in so many healthier ways.

  1. Be sure and feed your pets before dinner or party guests arrive—that way, Spot will have a full tummy and be less likely to beg for scraps from your guests. Also, give your animals some special treats made just for them when they have been good (or just because), and politely ask your guests to avoid passing along tasty morsels to your pets.
  2. This shouldn’t even need to be mentioned, but be sure to keep the dogs and cats (and any other small creatures) in your house out of the booze and smokes. Even accidental ingestion of alcohol or nicotine by a curious pet can be deadly, so if your party is getting very merry—be careful!!
  3. Some foods that can be harmful to your furry friends are:
    • Turkey skin and gravy: can cause pancreatitis
    • Onions and onion powder: can destroy red blood cells, causing anemia
    • Chocolate: can damage the nervous system and urinary tract as well as the heart muscle; can be deadly
    • Grapes and raisins: grapes, especially, can cause kidney failure (who knew?)
    • Cooked bones, especially poultry bones: can tear or block the intestinal tract; these injuries can be fatal
    • Not a food but food items: strings that are used in turkeys or roast, as well as the little  “pop-up” thermometers; discarded aluminum foil; food and fixings garbage—make sure to keep these items picked up and thrown away, with garbage sealed tightly

Joy to the Animals

Christmas rat

We can absolutely include our furry or feathered family members in the holiday festivities—we just have to be smart pet parents. Stuff your pets’ stockings with worry-free toys, like rubber dog toys, indestructible Kongs filled with special treats, durable rope “bones”, size-appropriate balls, catnip mice, interactive krinkle mats, and even nesting boxes and soft hammocks for your favorite little rat!

Ok, you guys. Get to jingling those bells, and stay warm!

Blessings,

Brooke