Tag Archives: Holidays

  1. Take life’s lemons and make shortbread cookies, fancy ice cubes and more

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    December 30, 2014 by Ashlee Clark Thompson

    The year has turned sour. Unfortunate events have bombarded me, my family and friends as we crawl toward the end of 2014. The challenges have been as small as an overweight pug stealing a cookie from my two-year-old niece (I’m watching you, Sampson) to a good friend’s cancer diagnosis right before the holidays. It’s enough to make even the most steady person shake their fist at whatever god in which they believe.

    A few years in adulthood have given me enough wisdom to know that life is a series of obstacles that sprout at the most inopportune moments, a depressing thought if there ever was one. But these years have also planted enough optimism in me that I am determined to demolish life’s challenges with the tenacity of an American Gladiator contestant.

    With the spirit of perseverance in mind, let’s turn life’s lemons into some awesome stuff. Here are some suggestions for what to do with the literal lemons in your life. And regarding to those figurative lemons, we’re all going to be OK.

  2. Don’t sleep on Aldi for your holiday baking needs

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    December 10, 2014 by Ashlee Clark Thompson

    Three years ago, I started a Christmas tradition by accident.

    It was a bittersweet holiday season. I had just started a new day job, but the first paycheck hadn’t come in yet. I was also freshly married, so my family tripled in size. I didn’t have a lot of money, but I wanted to do something nice for my relatives.

    That November and December, I baked and baked and baked. Batches upon batches of sugar cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, chocolate chip cookies and double-chocolate cookies filled my freezer. Cookie sheets and parchment paper were my faithful companions, along with a dog eager to catch batter that flew out of the mixing bowl. And bless my poor oven’s heart — that thing really earned its keep that winter.

    Fortunately, the cookies were a hit. And to keep up with my annual holiday baking, I’ve turned to one of my favorite retailers — Aldi.

  3. Hungry for Valentine’s Day gift ideas? Try these 6 edible treats.

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    February 13, 2013 by Ashlee Clark Thompson

    What sad lives we lead if they are, indeed, like boxes of chocolate.

     

    It’s true that, like life, you never know what you’re going to get when you tear through that red cellophane. But is life also full of disappointment coated in sugary promise?

     

    Boxes of chocolate are the most discouraging Valentine’s Day gift. When someone mistakenly gives me one, I try to activate my dormant X-ray vision to find the two caramel-filled chocolates that are hidden in every box. Even with a little help from the Rosetta Stone of a guide that’s sometimes included in the lid, I still end up biting through ghastly coconut and raspberry filling. Yuck.

     

    There are other edible presents I’d rather see this Valentine’s Day. Consider these when picking out something for your sweetie.

     

    • An Edible ArrangementNo one in the office is upset when their coworker gets an Edible Arrangement. This bouquet of fruit (and sometimes chocolate) is meant to be shared, not envied like a traditional bunch of flowers.
    • A Panera bagel. If you follow me on Twitter, you know that my love for the cinnamon crunch bagel at Panera runs deep. Real deep. A warm, chewy bite of the pastry along with a cup of coffee would start Valentine’s Day off right.
    • Twix/Take 5. Stick with one or two types that your significant other loves if you insist on giving something from the candy aisle. My personal favorites are Twix and Take 5.
    • Cookies. Specifically, two cookies, a rose and a mixtape from the coffee shop/record store Please and Thank You.
    • Pizza. Rob and I have done the heart-shaped pizza for Valentine’s Day, but that isn’t even essential. Order me some Bearno’s and reserve your judgement when I eat half of a large pizza.
    • Cellar Door ChocolatesThis isn’t the stale variety you find in your neighborhood drugstore. This local business offers a variety of fresh, decadent chocolate treats.

     

    What do you think is the best edible Valentine’s Day present?

     

  4. Six ways to save yourself this Thanksgiving

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    November 21, 2012 by Ashlee Clark Thompson

    It’s the day before Thanksgiving. Do you need some helping getting dinner together tomorrow?

    I’m fresh out of miracles. Instead, I have a good dose of keepin’ it real.

    We are delusional in the weeks before Thanksgiving. We convince ourselves that we can cook a 20-pound turkey because Alton Brown says it’s easy. We fill our grocery cart with pounds and pounds of potatoes because boxed mashed potatoes will just not do. We buy a rolling pin and a pastry blender because this will be the year we finally make that pie crust from scratch. And we sincerely believe that from our kitchens will emerge a display of culinary prowess that would make Martha Stewart throw her panties at our feet in adoration.

    That fantasy is a few turkey trots away from our realities. For 364 days of the year, dinner is something simple enough to fix after an eight-hour workday, be it pasta with a homemade mushroom cream sauce, scrambled eggs or a bowl of cereal. Why do we think we can pull off a full Thanksgiving spread?

    We can’t. No one can achieve the high expectation we set for ourselves. And that’s why you made it to the blog today, because the turkey is still frozen, the mountain of potatoes haven’t been peeled and the butter just won’t blend with the flour for that pie crust.

    I can’t save your disaster. But I have some tips to save your sanity.

    • Stick with what you know. Do you have a killer chocolate chip cookie recipe? Do your friends rave about your fried corn? That’s what you need to cook for Thanksgiving. Everyone has a recipe that they have mastered over the years and made their own. Now is the time to whip it out of your recipe box (or iPad).
    • Just make a salad. I can’t think of one Thanksgiving meal that included a salad. It’s not that my family is full of salad-haters; everyone’s just too busy with mashed potatoes and the like to put together some fresh greens. Buy a bag of pre-washed lettuce, toss it with sliced apples, dried cranberries, feta cheese, almond slivers, and a raspberry vinaigrette, and veg heads will be grateful.
    • Think outside the casserole dish. There are lots of other items you can bring to the celebration besides food that your family and friends will appreciate. Run to your nearest dollar store and get some paper plates, napkins and cups.
    • Never underestimate the power of a beverage. Be the cool cousin and bring a few bottles of wine. Is your family more conservative? Stop by a gas station and get some two-liters (bonus points if you get Coke Zero).
    • Break it and bake it. Grab a pack of the ready-to-bake Nestlé Tollhouse cookie dough. No mixing and barely any work — you just separate the squares of dough, put on a baking sheet, and let cook in the oven. Dessert in less than an hour. What’s not to love?
    • Be honest about your shortcomings. Just come right out and say you’re frazzled and can’t fulfill your culinary commitment. So what if the crust never came together? Your family and friends will love you anyway. And that’s what Thanksgiving is about.
  5. Cooking tip: Freeze your dough ahead of time to ease holiday baking

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    December 1, 2011 by Ashlee Clark Thompson

    This will be a homemade Christmas season for the Ashlee Eats empire. I’m making a lot of gifts for my …
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  6. Share your favorite holiday food for a chance to win a $25 gift certificate to Avalon

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    November 30, 2011 by Ashlee Clark Thompson

    I’m so excited about hosting my first giveaway on the blog. “How excited? ” you wonder. This excited:   I’m …
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  7. There’s plenty of ways to wine, dine and White Castle the one you love on Valentine’s Day

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    February 10, 2011 by Ashlee Clark Thompson

    Still looking for something to do for Valentine’s Day? February 14 is a great day to spend with people you …
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