Friday, December 15, 2017

Friday Pick-Six: 12/15/17

Here's what we're loving and living for this week!

1.  Since it's release last week, we've been watching season two of The Crown on Netflix.  We're only about half way through (NO SPOILERS!) but so far, Prince Philip is NOT our favorite.  Hoping to finish up the season this weekend.

2.  Our cousin's adorable girlfriend and faithful blog reader (Hi, Kayleigh!) is having an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party this weekend!  We don't want to give our looks away just yet, but if you're looking for an ugly Christmas sweater, try Target!  They just have everything, right?

3.  We're big fans of stashing cookie dough in the freezer, but we never thought of this brilliant suggestion on Cup of Jo this week.  Bring frozen cookie dough as a hostess gift!  Your hostess can store it to enjoy later, or bake it off as an impromptu dessert!  What a great tip!  Plus that Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe looks like a winner!

4.  We've talked about our love for Mrs. Meyer's Cleaning supplies before, but how about this Peppermint scented holiday hand soap?  Love it!

5.  I was looking to do a little holiday baking with the kiddo on our Snow Day this week, but I didn't want to get into mixing ingredients.  Luckily, I grabbed a package of Betty Crocker Gingerbread Cookie Mix at Target last week.  You just add egg and butter and you're good to go!

6.  One of Ry's favorite things is the annual Haters Guide to the Williams-Sonoma catalog.  We always crack up reading this!

What are you up to this weekend?  Hope you have a great one!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Holiday Nail Polish Picks

If you're like us, you start planning your manicure colors months before the holiday season arrives!  Here are few of our favorites that will have your nails looking amazing this holiday!

1.  Essie Gel Couture in Jade to Measure
2.  Essie Gel Couture in Flashed
3.  CND Shellac/Weekly Polish in Cream Puff
4.  Julep Diamond Theory
5.  CND Shellac/Weekly Polish in Crimson Sash
6.  Essie No Place Like Chrome

What's your favorite holiday nail color?  Give us some ideas in the comments and Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

TTO the Holiday: Christmas Cookies and Sweets

The holiday season is the perfect time to indulge in some sweets.  Cookies are a staple around the TTO holiday headquarters!  Here are a few of our favorite holiday cookies!

Don't forget that cookies aren't the only way to cater to your sweet tooth this holiday.  If you're looking for a different spin, try making our Chocolate Bark!  It's easy and doesn't require any cooking!

Twins Take On Holiday Chocolate Bark

  • 2 12-ounce bags of chocolate chips (We used 1 milk chocolate and 1 semi-sweet)
  • Bark Toppings (almonds, peanuts, peanut butter chips, dried cherries, pretzels, ANYTHING ELSE YOU LIKE WITH CHOCOLATE)

First, pour the chocolate chips (except for a large handful of chips) into a glass microwave-safe bowl.  You could melt over a double-boiler, but we think the microwave is so much faster and easier.

Just microwave at 20-30 second intervals and stop to stir in between.  The chips will melt more as you stir.  You don't want to scorch your chocolate, so don't just set the microwave for 2 minutes and walk away.  You want to do short bursts of heat, stir and only reheat if necessary.

Now, here a trick we've discovered.   Tempering chocolate is a little time-consuming and requires a thermometer.  We want things to be as easy as possible at the holidays, so here's our cheat.  Once the chips are melted all the way, add the reserved handful of chocolate chips and stir them in.  The heat from the melted chocolate should melt them in and will give you a very similar sheen and texture to actually tempered chocolate.

Now, pour your chocolate out on a cookie sheet lined with Silpat or wax paper.  Use an offset spatula to spread it out to your desired thickness.

Time to get creative!  Sprinkle on your desired toppings, pressing gently to make sure they stick down onto the chocolate.  We tried a few different combinations in this batch.  The consensus favorite was the peanut butter chip-pretzel combination!

Let the chocolate cool and set up for a couple of hours.  Then you can break the bark into pieces with your hands (or try a pizza cutter) and there you go!  Chocolate bark makes an easy dessert or a great hostess gift!  Just package it up in a pretty container or cellophane bag with a festive ribbon.  How easy was that?

What's your favorite cookie or sweet treat at the holidays?  Let us know in the comments below!

Monday, December 11, 2017

TTO Holidays: Gift Guide--Stocking Stuffers

We've already given you our Gift Guides for everyone on your list, but thought we'd share a few of our favorite stocking stuffers in case you're still out shopping!

What are your favorite stocking stuffers?  Let us know in the comments and hope your shopping is going well!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Friday Pick-Six: 12/8/17

Here's what we're loving and living for this week.

1.  This week, our family was in the mood for breakfast for dinner.  We decided to try out this amazing Potato Tot Breakfast Casserole from Real Simple.  It was easy, hearty and the leftovers held up great!  I think this would be perfect for a holiday brunch, too. --J

2.  We both love the look of shellac nails, but we hate trying to remove them ourselves.  What a mess!  Ry discovered these gel nail remover packets at (where else?) Target.  You simply rip open the packet, stick in your finger and let it sit for 15 minutes.  Much less mess than foils and cotton balls all over your bathroom!

3.  If you're Christmas shopping for a kid, I found a great book this week.  Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison was a student-requested book I purchased for our class.  It features 40 important Black women in American History (and adorable illustrations).  It would be great for a little gal in your life who was in the 6-10 age range. --J

4.  We've mentioned how much we love Julep before, but one of our current faves is the Eyeshadow 101.  It's a crayon style eyeshadow with a smudge stick built in!  Such a great add to your fast makeup routine!

5.  Starbucks has their seasonal drinks out in full force these days, so we've tried a few new options.  Just to change it up a little, we tried the Snickerdoodle Hot Chocolate this week.  It was a little chocolatey, a little cinnamony and totally Christmasey.

6.  At Target's Black Friday sale, I stocked up on pajamas for the whole family.  I am in love with the plaid PJ set from Gilligan O'Malley I got for myself.  It's so cozy and warm! --J

What are you loving and living for this week?  Let us know in the comments below and have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

TTO's Best Holiday Cocktails

We've got the holidays on our minds these days!  What holiday party would be complete without a great cocktail.  We love the idea of a signature cocktail for your party.  It's easier and less time consuming than mixing drinks on the fly, so that you can spend more time with your guests.

Here are a few of our favorite festive cocktails for your next get-together!
We've also developed a few of our own signature cocktails (along with our Mom, who is the resident Mixologist at our family functions).  Here is a recipe we have served at our own parties!

Jess's Holiday Spritzer
  • White Wine
  • La Croix (I used Cran-Raspberry but any flavor would work)
  • Cranberry Juice
  • Splash of Grenadine
  • Pomegranate seeds
Mix all ingredients in a festive glass and serve over ice!

What is your favorite cocktail to enjoy at the holidays?  Let us know below and cheers!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Christmas Morning Cinnamon Rolls

Happy Holidays, pals!  Jess here, with another holiday recipe!  Every Christmas morning, I make cinnamon rolls which we enjoy while opening presents and watching Christmas movies.  My usual recipe involves prep on Christmas Eve and then proofing and baking off on Christmas morning.  This is great for the morning, but since our family often gets together on Christmas Eve, I find myself running around that day trying to get everything together.

This year, I decided to try out a new recipe that purported to be ready in only an hour from start to finish.  To get things moving, gather all ingredients.

First, mix together the dry ingredients (including yeast) in the mixer bowl.  If you do a fair amount of baking, it's definitely worth buying your yeast in the jar instead of those packets.  It stays good in your fridge for a while and 2 1/4 teaspoons is the equivalent of a packet.

Then I mixed the butter, sugar, milk and water in a microwave-safe measuring cup.  I microwaved in 30-second intervals until the butter was melted.  Make sure you cool this off enough before mixing it into the flour-yeast mixture.  If it's too hot, it will kill the yeast.  You want it warm to the touch but not hot.

Once it's cooled enough, drizzle it into the flour with the mixer running, then add the egg.  The dough will be super sticky.

Switch to your dough hook, and knead it for four minutes!

Once it's been kneaded, roll it into a ball and drop it onto a floured surface.  Cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest for 5 minutes.  While you're doing this, preheat your oven to 200 degrees.  The warm oven is the key to getting this dough to proof quickly.  Also, you should butter your 9x13 pan.

Next, roll out the dough to about 16x9 and spread on the softened butter. Then sprinkle on the filling mixture.  I added a touch of Pumpkin Pie spice which is my holiday secret ingredient.

Carefully, roll the dough up from one end.  I do one roll at a time and push the ends in a little so it stays together.  Then you'll have a nice little log.

To cut 12 pieces, start by cutting down the middle and then cut each half in sixths.  If you're not perfect like me, you might end up with 11 instead of 12, which is totally okay.

Place the rolls into the pan.  TURN THE OVEN OFF and cover your pan with foil.  Place the pan in the oven to rise for 25 minutes.

The rolls with grow a little bit in size as they proof.  Take them out, turn your oven back on to 375 degrees and once it's heated bake them off!  The recipe suggested 15-18 minutes, but mine took about 25 minutes until they were golden brown and cooked through in center.

While they cool, make the glaze.  I halved the glaze recipe (due to a powdered sugar shortage) and I still had plenty.

Glaze your cinnamon rolls (I used a palette knife) and you're good to go!

Will I make this recipe on Christmas morning?  I am still debating.

Pros--I liked that I didn't have to do any advance prep and was able to pull this recipe out in the morning.  Also, all ingredients were things we regularly have on hand, so you could make this at the spur of the moment.

Cons--This recipe definitely took longer than the hour it suggested.  I'd say start to finish, this was about two hours of time.  Granted, I had a preschooler "helping me" (i.e. eating brown sugar by the handful, dumping flour on the floor, demanding that Alexa play "Charlie Brown Christmas" at increasingly loud volumes).  Also, we liked the vanilla glaze because the traditional cream cheese icing can get a little heavy, but the other recipe gives you a more traditional "Cinnabon-style" frosting.

Either way, this definitely passed the taste test, so I'll definitely be making it again, Christmas or not!

If you give these cinnamon rolls a try, let us know in the comments below and happy baking!