Cheese Ball Recipes


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Holiday cheese ball recipes from Michelle Buffardi

Cheese balls are back and just in time for the holidays.  I watched Access Hollywood, my first time, and they were making these adorable cheese balls which I love.  I’m a big cheese and cracker fan, especially during the holidays, so these are going on my menu this season. 

Here’s the recipes that were used on Access Hollywood:

Herbed Turkey
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 6 oz. goat cheese
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. herbs de Provence
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp. mustard
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds

Note:  I will be substituting my Chipped Beef and Green Onion cheese ball recipe instead of the herbed.  Not a big fan of goat cheese, but I love the turkey idea. 

For decorating:

  •  dark raisin for eyes
  • 1 whole almond for nose
  • 1 small piece red pepper
  • Thin pretzel sticks for feathers
  • Dried papaya for feet (I will be using an orange pepper)
  • Chopped almonds to roll cheese ball in.  (I’m going to substitute chopped walnuts)
Using a stand mixer or a bowl and a spatula, mix together the cream cheese, the goat cheese, the herbs de Provence, garlic, mustard and salt. Form the mixture into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least two hours.
Making the Turkey Cheese Ball: 
Before serving, pinch a walnut-sized portion of cheese mixture from the ball; you will use that for the head. Re-form the remaining cheese ball and roll the ball in the almonds. Roll the remaining portion of cheese into a small ball and set it on top of larger ball – this is the turkey’s head. Cut the raisin in half and place each half on the head for the eyes. Place the almond in the middle for the beak, and arrange small piece of red pepper under the beak for the turkey’s wattle stick dried papaya slice into the bottom of the cheese ball for the feet. Last, arrange pretzel sticks on the back of the cheese ball to look like tail feathers

Chilly Penguin

  • 16 oz. cream cheese
  • 4 oz. blue cheese
  • 2 tsp. chopped shallots
  • 1/4 tsp. coarse salt
  • Dash hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup poppy seeds, for coating
For decorating:
  • 2 dark raisins
  • 1 almond
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 scallion
Using a stand mixer or a bowl and spatula, mix together the cream cheese, the blue cheese, shallots, salt and hot sauce. Form the mixture into a ball and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Before serving , remove a 2-inch piece of the cheese mixture, roll into a ball, and set aside, this will be the head. Re-form the remaining cheese mixture into an egg shape. Cut out a triangle shape roughly the length of your cheese ball from a sheet of wax paper. Press the wax paper into the cheese ball , with the widest part on the widest part of cheese ball. Roll the cheese ball in the poppy seeds and set the ball on a plate.
Slowly remove the wax paper; the ball should be covered in poppy seed, except for the penguin’s breast. Set the head on top of the penguin’s body and add the raisins for the eyes and almond for the beak. Slice off 2 equal sized rounds of the carrot and arrange them on either side as earmuffs. Connect the earmuffs with the green part of the scallion. Using a vegetable peeler, peel 1 long strip off the carrot; winds this around the penguin’s neck as a scarf. Slice the remaining carrot into toes and arrange at the bottom of the penguin’s body to make its feet, or use two red bell pepper slices.

                                                               

Free Letters To Santa


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letters to Santa

Stop, don’t pay for that letter to Santa.  Christmas is around the corner, and every child dreams of writing a letter to Santa with his wish list.  This year I will be helping Xavier write a letter to Santa and I’ve found the perfect site, The Christmas RegistryIt’s free.  I’ve seen sites that charge as much as $9.95 for a child to write a letter to Santa.  Personally, I think it should be free too.  I know that everyone is looking to make a profit, but off the dreams of little children. 

This site doesn’t have a profit in mind, only the happiness and excitement of the holiday season and helping to make a child’s dream come true.  It’s full of activities for children which includes games, crafts, and recipes from Mrs. Clause.  One of my favorites during the holidays is Candied Almonds.   They have the recipe on the site.  I’ve made this recipe with pecans when I didn’t have almonds on hand.  Are you interested in making a gingerbread house?  Here’s a link to making a, Gingerbread House, the site has step by step instructions.

I played several of the games while I was visiting.  Xavier who is 6, will enjoy the Crazy Santa Racer game.  I rather enjoyed it myself after I figured out how to play it.  I’m looking forward to playing it with my grandson.  Another game that I enjoyed was the Match Game.  Children will have to remember where they’ve seen various pictures to make a match.  

A few additional things about the site and the letter to and from Santa.  You will be responsible for composing the letter and the reply from Santa.  The site does give suggestions to help you compose the letter; however, the return reply will be sent via email rather than through the post office from the North Pole.  Possible drawback, but remember the site is free.  You can look at things from another perspective, Santa is now technically savvy.  Sending an email cuts down on the number of trips that his elves have to make to the post office to mail letters and emails are much faster.  After all we do live in a technological world.   Don’t want to write a letter, it has a message option.  Santa can also reply with a message.  Oh, the letter to Santa is delivered directly by one of Santa’s elves, so you won’t have to make a trip to the post office or worry about it getting lost in the mail.   I like the idea of having direct access to Santa via elf.    

There’s a Wish List section.  You can help your child enter their wish list to Santa.  There’s also a Naughty/Nice Meter that you can play with.  It ranges from 1(Naughty) to 10(Nice).  This meter can keep your little ones on their toes during the holiday season.  You can adjust it accordingly. 

Lets talk about setting up the accounts because it can be confusing.  You must register as the adult since you will be controlling your child’s activities on the site, but you must also create an account for your child.  When I was logged in as the adult, I was unable to access the games, recipes, or crafts.  It seems that only the child can access these activities.  Since they can’t cook alone or prepare crafts without assistance, this was somewhat confusing to me.  No worries though, the Activities Area is appropriate for children of all ages.  

All in all, I think the site is great for composing a free letter to Santa and allowing the kids to play games.   I also like the Naughty/Nice meter.  Take a few minutes to check it out. 


Note:  This review is my opinion, I was not compensated in any manner for this review. 

                                                                                      

The Benefits Of Reading To Your Child


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To prepare your child for academic success, expose them to books early. Studies have shown that reading is one of the keys to academic success. Xavier and Zarriah love for me to read to them.  I’ve started a library for both.  I’m all for downloading books and apps, but I love seeing shelves full of books in the children’s rooms too.  It’s amazing how far we have come with technology. 

I read to my daughter when she was a child.  Her love for reading stayed with her.  As a child, she loved Strawberry Shortcake, The Berenstain Bears, and any classic bedtime story. As she got older she continued to read for hours. One of my fondest memories was our book fair excursions. We would plan a day where I would meet her at college and we would spend hours at the local book fair. Later we would discuss our finds as well as the latest happenings on campus over dinner. I do believe that our mutual love for books helped to create a strong mother – daughter bond.

My daughter was an honor student, a member of Who’s Who in America, and a member of the Spanish Honor Society. I believe that her early exposure to books helped her to excel in her academics.  Start reading to your child at an early age.  It’ never too soon.

reading to your child



I’m hoping that our love for reading will be instilled into Xavier and Zarriah.  I know that habit must be taught, and it starts at home.  It’s a great way for toddlers to learn word associations.  I ask Zarriah, who is 2, to point to cars, ice cream or whatever happens to be on the page.  She loves both hardback and books on the computer.  Xavier, who is 6, still loves for Mawmaw to read to him.  He’s now reading to me as well  now.  Here, he’s reading his iPad.  We also download books to his Kindle.   

early childhood development

We’ve taught Xavier how to access various sites on the computer.  He’s astute at navigating the notebook, laptop, Kindle and iPad.  Zarriah mimics everything her big brother does.  He has taught her the ABC’s, she can count to 10, and she knows various colors.  Our preemie has come a long way.  She just turned 2.  

Other Benefits of Reading to Your Child:

  • Reading together creates a bond.
  • Reading helps to build a child’s vocabulary.
  • Your child will learn to follow a story from beginning to end. (You won’t be able to fool them if you try to skip pages. If it’s one of their favorite stories, they will know it by heart).
  • Your child will have an appreciation for writing.
  • Builds a strong foundation for academics.

Reading Tips:

  • Start reading to your child as early as 6 months.
  • Select reading material that interest your child and is appropriate to his/her age group. Toddlers love bright colors and books that are simple.  Board books are perfect.
  • Use different voices and pitches (vary your tone) when you read. Young children usually prefer to hear the same story over and over.
  • Purchase a personalized book for your child. They love reading about themselves.  I had a personalized book made for both Zarriah and Xavier.
  • PBS has great programs where they focus on words, spelling, and their meaning. Check out you TV Guide for time slots and programs.
  • Have your child turn the page when you’re reading paper or hard back book. This gets them involved.
  • Allow your child to ask questions, and be sure to ask your child questions about the story.
  • Allow your child to select books from his or her age group.  This will work with buying in a store or downloading. 
  • Take them to the local library for story hour.
  • Set an example. If your child sees you reading, they will follow.  I read my Kindle while my Xavier is reading his Kindle or iPad.   
  • Don’t substitute books on tape. The true bonding experience and benefits come from you taking the time to read to your child.


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Girls Holiday Hair Styles

With holidays on the horizon, you and your brood have plenty
of parties to attend, and you know what that means—picture time! This holiday
season, it’s easy to keep your little angel looking cute, coifed and
camera-ready with simple yet stylish hair looks from Cozy
Friedman, author of Cozy’s Complete Guide to Girls’
Hair
.

The French Braid Headband

Besides being a great fuss free style, this braided band
makes its own accessory. Girls can wear it with their hair hanging down in back,
or with a ponytail. Complete this look for the holidays with fun beads or
barrettes.

 

The French Braid Headband

 

Props:

Wide-tooth comb
 
Fine-tooth comb

Ponytail holders

Jaw clip

Decorative bobby pins

 

Step 1: Start with damp hair (either towel –dried or
misted) and use a wide-tooth comb to detangle the hair.

Step 2: Use a fine-tooth comb to draw a horizontal
line across the crown from the top of one ear to the top of the other ear. From
the line, comb the hair forward to the face. Pull the hair in back of the line
into a ponytail holder or jaw clip so it stays out of your way.

Step 3: Choose which ear you want the braid to start
from. Tilt the head so the ear you’ve chosen is facing up toward the ceiling.
With your child’s ear tilted up, being making the braided headband using the
hair in front of the part.

Step 4: Once you’ve reached the other ear, secure the
braid with a ponytail holder. If you like, tuck it behind the ear and pin it in
place with a few bobby pins. Remove the ponytail holder or jaw clip use in Step
2 and style as you like. Finish by adding sparkly or decorative hairpins through
different parts of the braid.

 
The Heart Braid

This is a
must-have look for the holidays. To really make this look extra special add a
clip to the end of the heart that coordinates your child’s holiday outfit. You
can also use a colorful ponytail holder at the end or add decorative beads in
the braid.

 

The Heart Braid Compressed

Props:

Wide-tooth comb

Fine-tooth comb

Decorative hair clip

Ponytail
holders

 
Step
1: Starting with damp hair (either
towel-dried or misted), use a wide-tooth comb to detangle the hair.  Then, using
a fine-tooth comb, part the hair down the middle of the head.  Clip one side up
right above the ear.

Step
2: On the other side of the part, use the
fine comb to gather a thin section of hair from the crown.  This section should
measure about 2 inches from the hairline to the top of the
head.

Step
3: Divide this section into three, and
begin a French braid starting at the crown and curving toward the temple, then
toward the back of the head, like the top lobe of a heart.  You will be lifting
hair into the braid only from this side of the part.  Leave no loose hair in
front of the ears.

Step
4: When you reach the center part at the
back of the head, secure the braid with a ponytail holder.  If the hair is very
long, end the braid about midear; the ends will hang down the
back.

Step
5: Unclip the hair on the other side of
the part and repeat the process.  Secure with a ponytail
holder.

Step
6: Join the ends of the braids together in
the back with a decorative bow or ponytail holder to form the bottom point of
the heart.
Cozy Friedman is the creator of the So Cozy product line and
founder of Cozy’s Cuts for Kids. She is an expert authority on cool,
childhood style
and recognizes – and celebrates – that children today are
more style-conscious than ever. Decades ago, getting a child to take a bath was
a challenge but now, thanks to places like Cozy’s Cuts for Kids and
product lines such as So Cozy, children are embracing grooming from a
very young age
. Cozy has coined this trend the “metro mini”
phenomenon
and believes that encouraging it in a healthy way allows
children to be expressive and self-confident
.

 




Cookie’s Kids PJs – Great Finds


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Beverly Hills Polo Club “Rider Print” Fleece Pajama Pants (Sizes 4 – 7) - CookiesKids.com
Beverly Hills Polo Club “Star Print” Fleece Pajama Pants (Sizes 4 – 7) - CookiesKids.com

I found these Great Finds, Polo Club pajamas, for my grandson at Cookies Kids for a bargain, $5.99.   He’s getting older now, and moving away from the Car, Sponge Bob etc. characters, so   I was looking for PJs that were warm, stylish and he could throw on with a tee shirt.  I found these fleece PJs bottoms at Cookie’s KidsMy grandchildren do not like to sleep under covers long, so their PJs must keep them warm, but not overheat them. 

These were perfect for Xavier, especially on the week-ends when he plays video games and just relaxes with the family. 

I purchased this pack of Hanes tee shirts along with the pajama bottoms.  I like the colors, he can wear them with the pj bottoms as well as a pair of sweat pants.    

I couldn’t leave my granddaughter out.  She loves the Disney princesses and Dora so these pajamas were perfect for her.  These sets were $12.99 each.  She’ll get a lot of wear out of them  this winter.  I went with long sleeves for her, she shuns blankets more than her brother.   

Hop over to Cookie’s Kids and find your bargain.  I’m inviting all of my readers to Sign up for the Treats by Cookie’s Kids .  Tell them Rhonda@gigglesnsugarkisses.com referred you.  You’ll get $10.00 off your order of $50.00 or more order and I will get $10.00 toward my next purchase of $50.00 or more.  

Easy Homemade Vegetable Soup Recipe

                                                     

         
I love making soups and chili during the fall and winter months.  I adapted a soup recipe that you don’t have to spend all day in the kitchen making and it’s delicious.  Here’s what you will need:

  • 1 package of stew beef
  • 2 cartons of Swanson’s Beef broth (32 oz.) or store brand  (I have used Food Lion brand)
  • 1 quart of your whole canned tomatoes or 32 oz. from the grocery store 
  • 1 package of Hanover frozen veggies or your garden veggies from your freezer
  • 2 -3 small potatoes cubed
  • 1/4 box of elbow macaroni (optional)
  • 1 cup water

Brown your beef in a tablespoon of butter or margarine. Drain, remove from skillet and place on a cutting board. Add your tomatoes, 1 carton of Beef Broth and 1 cup of water to a stock pot and bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer.  (You can cut up your tomatoes before placing them in the pot if you like smaller pieces). 


While tomatoes are simmering, cut beef into bite size pieces.  Add  beef and additional broth to pot and simmer for 30 minutes. Peel and cut potatoes into cubes. Rinse and add to pot. Simmer until almost done.  (You don’t want them to be completely done or they may get mushy). Add frozen vegetables and simmer until all vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.  Stir pot occasionally. Add 1/4 – 1/2 box of elbow macaroni and simmer until tender.  Season to taste. 

This soup gets better if it sits for a few days. You can freeze it in mason jars or soup containers for a quick and healthy meal.  It’s Yummy!

                                                           

Boo – Happy Halloween!

My adorable Minnie Mouse and Ninja.  Happy Halloween from my family to yours. 
                                                                             

Thirty One Tote Review

I received this Thirty One bag for review, and it’s a keeper.  It was larger than I expected, but I’ve found that the possible uses are endless.  I love the plaid, it’s a classic design.  The bag is well made and can serve as a week-ender, diaper bag, and would be great for carrying supplies to a scrap book party or beach bag. 

It has a hard bottom, which helps to ensure the content stays in place and the bag keeps its shape.  The bag is deep, which makes it an excellent week-ender.  The material is study enough to handle the beach.  Notice the pockets on the side.  It’s great for carrying baby’s bottle and sippy cups.  Toss in a bottle of water or drink for yourself.  You don’t have to worry about the liquid spilling inside, but if it does the fabric on in the sides are made of a vinyl like material.  Wipe it clean.   

Back to utilizing the bag for the beach.  Carrying a few beach towels won’t be a problem in this bag.  It’s big enough to handle the sun screen, tanning lotion and the shells that the kids find on the beach too.  Although I didn’t try it, I believe the sand can be easily wiped off.   

The only issue that I had with the bag were the straps. I wasn’t particularly happy about the material.  I’m not sure how to describe the material, they look similar to straps that you would find on a backpack.   They actually look nice going down the center of the bag, my problem was the handles.  Would that be a deterrent to purchasing the bag, no.  I’m a big fan of Thirty-One products.  I encourage you to check out the products at Thirty-One  and take a look for yourself.   They have great bags and accessories. 

Note:  I received this bag as compensation for this review, however, my opinion of the bag is my opinion only. 

Finding Love Again



I’ve met a man that could potentially be my soul mate.  I may be falling in love again!  After my on-line dating fiasco, I had just about given up on love.  When it was the least of my concerns, I met a gentleman that has potential.  I met this gentleman through my Uncle, who had met him on his job.  For some reason, he believed that we would be perfect for each other. 

I was leery, but also intrigued.  My Uncle had never involved himself in my love life in any way.  I was curious as to why he believed this person was a match for me.  He also has tons of other nieces, I wondered why he chose me.  After chatting with him to get answers to these questions, he said he believed that we had many things in common and I should at least meet him.  I agreed to give up my cell phone number, and I would take it from there.  I received a call the next night, but I decided not to answer the my phone when the call came through.  

The gentleman left a message, and I must admit his voice captivated me.  I decided to wait until the next day to  return his call.  When I did he was unavailable, so I sent a text.  He responded immediately.  I soon learned that he was a weapons expert and was teaching a class.  We texted off and on for the next 2 hours.  We decided to exchange pictures, we both liked what we saw.  We talked on the phone and texted each other for the next two weeks.  We decided to meet and we’ve been inseparable ever since.  We’re hitting the seven month mark.  He believes that I’m the one, and he’s going to marry me.  We’ll see about that, but I’ve decided to enjoy the ride. 

He currently lives in the next state; however, he will be relocating to my area.  I learned that he has been teaching in my area and along the east coast for about a year, and plans to relocate to my town.  That was a plus.  We found out that we had many things in common.  He’s divorced and has 3 children and 1 grandchild, I have 1 child and 2 grandchildren.  We both love seafood, wine festivals, amateur photography, travel and the Lord

There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to get my hopes up because I’m afraid of another disappointment, but there’s another part of me that’s saying take the risk.  He may truly be the one.  Things have already gone better than what I encountered on the on-line dating sites.  He’s a romantic, holds my hand, opens the door for me,  pulls out my chair, he conducts himself like a perfect gentleman.  A man who has a job and is a gentlemen, nice start.  I was curious to see what was under the exterior. 

I felt that I needed to do thing differently in hopes that I would attract someone worthy of my time.  You may be wondering what I did.  I read Steve Harvey’s book Act Like A Lady Think Like A Man and decided to follow his rules.  I decided that I would not lower my standards.  If he wanted to be with me he would raise his if necessary.  I can’t say that he raised his, but he respected mine. 

Secondly, I didn’t let my emotions get the best of me.  I followed my head and stuck to my guns on becoming intimate too soon.  He pressed initially, but I held my ground.  I made it clear that I wanted to wait and get to know him and I wanted him to get to know me before we took that step.  Becoming sexually involved too soon clouds a woman’s judgment.   He backed off and actually said he respected my decision and he would wait until I was ready.  Ladies, if he respects you he will wait.  There’s times when we meet someone that we’re attracted to, and get involved too soon because we’re afraid they’ll go elsewhere.  My attitude was go, but you won’t be visiting candy land anytime soon. 

As we spent more time getting to know each other, I leaned that he has been divorced for 10 years, and has had time to heal.  No excess baggage and no baby’s mama drama!  He clearly stated that he has a 13 year old; however, he doesn’t allow her mother to interfere in his relationships.  Another plus.  He’s ready for a permanent relationship.  He also stated that if I wasn’t ready for a serious relationship he would accept that, but he would have to move on. During one of our conversation, he said there were three ingredients to a successful relationship, God, trust and respect and they must be in that order.  If any of the ingredients were missing, the relationship would fail.  Wow, he really got my attention there. 

Another thing that I really like about him is that we can talk for hours about nothing in particular.  We burned the phone lines for 4 hours one night and I think we hit the 1,334th text message in a three month period.  We’re still going strong.  Stay tuned for periodic updates on my journey to love. 

How did you meet your significant other/husband?  I’m always up for a good love story.   

                                                                           

Freezing Green Tomatoes

fried green tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes anyone?  They’re delicious.  I had a ton of green tomatoes left in my garden, and decided to freeze them for use during the winter.  Yes, you can freeze them or water bath them in the canner in wide mouth pint jars. 

I decided to slice and freeze mine.  The easy way to prepare them for the freezer is to slice and than place individual slices on a cookie sheet or pizza pan.  Make sure slices are completely frozen, otherwise, they will stick together.  Place individual slices in freezer bags.  When you’re ready to prepare them, place the frozen slices into an egg and flour batter and drop them into hot oil until golden brown on both sides.  Season to taste.