Cranberry Eggnog Cupcakes with Spiced White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Warm, cozy cranberry eggnog flavored cupcakes are topped with a light and fluffy spiced white chocolate buttercream. With a little bit of magic in every bite– these Cranberry Eggnog Cupcakes with Spiced White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting are a perfect way to savor the season of Christmas with every bite.

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Monster Sandwiches

My lunch is grinning at me. (help?)

I’m gonna go ahead and file that under the ‘Things I Never Thought I’d Say’ tab. And in this case it’s a good thing, because it means I’ve succeeded in making adorable, edible little monsters for my little monsters.

Monster Sandwiches

These are ready in mere minutes, making them a perfect addition to any little lunch box and easy enough to whip a batch large enough for the food table at just about any Halloween Monster Mash bash.

Monster Sandwiches

Monster Sandwiches 2

2 slices of your favorite sandwich bread, we used honey wheat
1 slice sharp cheddar cheese
2-3 slices of lunch meat, ham, turkey, or chicken
2 pimento-stuffed green olives
mayonaiise or mustard (optional)
toothpicks
large round cookie cutter, or biscuit cutter

Directions

  1. Use a large cookie or biscuit cutter, press into the slices of bread, pulling away crust and excess to cut into circles. Use a paring knife to cut jagged little ‘teeth’ into one side of the slice of cheese. Stack the slices of lunchmeat on the bottom piece of bread & put the slice of cheese on top with the jagged edge facing ‘out’ and slightly hanging over the edge. Spread a bit of mayo and/or mustard onto the inside of the other cut piece of bread and then top the sandwich. Break a toothpick in half & insert one half into a pimento stuffed olive & the other into the top of the sandwich. Repeat with the other one forming your monster eyes. Repeat as many times as needed for your desired number of sandwiches.

Super-Soft Eggnog Cookies

I remember growing up and seeing all the adults drinking eggnog on Christmas Eve & Christmas day. Us kids were left at the ‘kids table’. It was a table. It was also in my grandmother’s laundry room/pantry/sewing room off of the kitchen. It didn’t bother us though. The grown-ups didn’t see us sneak a glass of the good stuff for ourselves or notice it make it’s way quickly around our little table as we each took a sip. I know what you’re thinking. Shame on you! It was non-alcoholic. Being an adult now with four boys, I totally get why they hoarded the stuff. I’m pretty stingy doling it out myself as well.

To this day, my kids and I (still) love eggnog. We wait all year long for the creamy concoction to hit the store shelves again. My husband, he hates it. This cookie won him over. He was impressed. It was moist, chewy, and the eggnog taste was just right. Seriously, he ate 12. In less than 5 minutes. He may not be ready to actually drink a cold, frothy glass full but he’s behind eggnog a little bit. And that’s enough for me! For now. Before he avoided it like that little milk jug was hiding the Ebola virus in our refrigerator.

As for me, and my family, we’ve seen the light. Eggnog is so much more than just the nectar of the gods a drink. It’s an amazing, drool-worthy addition to multiple recipes. Cookies today. Tomorrow, the world! It’s time for an eggnog revolution. What do you say?

Super-Soft Eggnog Cookies

4 Sons 'R' Us: EggNog Cookies

recipe originally from I Heart Naptime

2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter, slightly softened
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup eggnog

Eggnog Icing

1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
3 tbsp eggnog
ground nutmeg, for garnish

4 Sons 'R' Us: EggNog Cookies

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350┬░. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Add egg yolks and vanilla to the mixture and beat until smooth. Finally, add eggnog and mix on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Slowly add flour mixture into the eggnog mixture and stir until combined. Chill dough for 20 minutes.
3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and use a cookie scoop or drop spoonfuls of dough onto the cookie sheet. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Do not over cook. Remove cookies from pan and allow to cool on a cooling rack.
4. For icing, whisk powdered sugar and eggnog together. Add more sugar or eggnog, depending on the consistency you prefer.
5. Drizzle icing on cooled cookies and sprinkle with nutmeg. Store in a air tight container in the refrigerator.

Holiday-Themed Sensory Bags

According to Buddy, the elf, “The best way to spread Christmas Cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.” While I certainly believe this to be true, I can’t always just break out into song. I mean I could, but then everybody in the middle of Target would probably stare and there’s no way my kids would ever, EVER go out in public with me again. So, in the interest of self-preservation I have to reign it in. Sometimes. Like in public.

Still, I absolutely love to get my family, and pretty much everyone I know, into the holiday spirit, even the little ones who still aren’t quite sure what’s going on and why Mom’s dancing around and singing about a fat man with a scratchy beard. A holiday-themed sensory bag was my compromise with myself, and a favor to my kids. I mean, come on, spreading the love cheer and stimulating little minds and developing gross motor skills? That’s what I’d call winning!

The ‘Holiday-Themed’ Sensory Bag

4 Sons 'R' Us: The Holiday-Themed Sensory Bag

hair gel
ziplocking bag
decorative buttons or beads
strong tape

Directions

1. Squirt hair gel into a zip-locking bag.
2. Add in your decorative buttons, beads, etc and zip the bag closed making sure it’s secure.
3. For extra peace of mind re-enforce the top with tape so the bag can’t accidentally open.
4. Let your little ones squish it around and explore the different pieces included.

The ‘Snowman In A Bag’ Game

4 Sons 'R' Us: Snowman In A Bag

a large ziplocking bag
shaving cream
orange foam sheet
black felt
glitter, optional
glue

Directions

1. Cut 6 small, ‘lumpy’ circles (you’re going for the lumps of coal look) from the black felt for the snowman’s mouth. Cut out two larger lumps for it’s eyes.
2. Glue the lumps onto the outside of your ziplocking bag to resemble a face. Let dry.
3. If using, add a little glitter to the inside of your bag. Squirt in a little shaving cream. Securely seal the bag closed and squish it around to mix up the glitter and shaving cream.
4. Cut a carrot shape out of the orange foam.
5. Put the carrot shape into the bag, making sure you securely seal the bag closed again.
6. Have fun watching/helping your little ones move the nose around until they’ve completed the face.

Don’t you just love ‘baggie’ projects? They’re so simple, but so fun, and all for practically free! These are great manipulative toys that all ages love. They are great for a rainy, dreary days when you can’t go outside. Let these help keep those little hands busy. You can squish and wiggle that snowman all afternoon. ­čÖé

How do you spread the cheer & get your family into the Holiday Spirit?

Crockpot Cinnamon Sugared Almonds

My kids love almonds. Come to think of it, they go ‘nuts’ for any type of nut really. I always keep almonds stocked in the pantry and they’re constantly sneaking handfuls here and there from the 3 lb bag. They think they’re being sneaky. Naturally, I don’t dissuade them of their ideas. I can’t have them thinking that I actually want them eating moderately healthy snacks, or worse that they like them. Plain-Jane almonds? How boring. ┬áImagine their surprise and delight when they came home from school to a batch of candied almonds to munch on during homework time. They loved these.

I usually get the eye roll whenever I mention the healthy benefits of anything to my boys. Like, really Mom? We just want to eat. Don’t ruin it by making it good for us! I refrained from mentioning that almonds are ‘good for them’ as the crunched away on ‘candy’. My house smelled like fall the entire day after making these. I just couldn’t resist the temptation to sample a few while they were still cooling and let me tell you, they were de-lish when still warm! Eat them out of a bag for a quick snack or sprinkle a few over a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a truly delicious dessert.

I ended up taking the leftovers on a trip out of town and sharing them with our entire family to rave reviews from all! It doesn’t get more tried and true than that from a family full of Italians.

Crockpot Cinnamon Sugared Almonds

4 Sons 'R' Us: Crockpot Cinnamon Sugared Almonds

recipe adapted from Six Sisters’ Stuff

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp of vanilla
  • 3 cups of almonds
  • 1/8 cup water

Directions

  1. In a bowl, whisk egg and vanilla until it begins to get a little frothy. Stir in your almonds until the are all coated in the mixture.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add Almonds to cinnamon mixture and toss until completely coated.
  3. Spray your crock pot with non stick cooking spray. Cook the almonds on high for two hours stirring every 20 minutes.
  4. After 2 hours pour your water over the almonds and mix very well to make sure there are no clumps! Reduce heat to low and cook for one more hour, still stirring every 20 minutes.
  5. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and evenly spread out the almonds to cool and dry on the paper.

P.S. Christmas is coming and these make delicious gifts for neighbors, teachers, even family dinners!