Holiday Spiked Egg Nog and Blog Hop

It’s another Holiday Blog Hop from Savvy Sassy Moms and the ScoutBox team. This time I am one of the hostesses, because this week’s theme is holiday drinks! One of my favorite topics.

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What drink says “holiday” more than egg nog? For years I struggled to get mine just right, and then finally I focused on it. I didn’t make the nog from scratch – just got some at the grocery store.

egg nog ingredients

I experimented with all of the dark liquors in the liquor cabinet to see what egg nog recipe I liked best. This is a combination of old-fashioned recipes and what I thought tasted best. I actually liked it better over ice, too.

Holiday Spiced Egg Nog

1.5 tbsp bourbon
1.5 tbsp dark rum
1/3 cup egg nog
dash nutmeg

What’s great is that you can pour a little non-alcoholic egg nog for your kids, then spike it up for the grownups. A great holiday tradition!

This is part of the Holiday Blog Hop hosted by Savvy Sassy Moms and some other great bloggers. Check out their holiday drink specials here:

Savvy Sassy Moms

Lindsey of The Nashville Mom

Natasha of Hello, Happiness

Carrie Beth & Jen of Magnolia Mamas

Sara of Running from the Law

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You can share your own posts with recipes for special holiday drinks by joining in. Just put the URL and name of your blog post into the InLinkz widget below. It would be great if you could visit 3-5 other blogs in the Holiday Blog Hop and leave a comment on their posts. Share this Holiday Blog Hop with your friends and readers on social media using the #SavvySassyHoliday hashtag.


Let It Snow and Mercato at Four Seasons Westlake

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For a luxurious holiday getaway, look no further than the Four Seasons Westlake Village. If you stay there on Friday or Saturday night over the next few weekends, your family can enjoy its Winter Wonderland, as well as a gourmet Italian buffet dinner and dessert at Mercato, the market-style dining experience.

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Let It Snow has turned into a wonderland of winter-themed activities for families. Once you go through the portal to Let It Snow, Olaf and the Minions greet you for a photo op! Then follow the signs to the fun activity stations set up along the Look Out outdoor bar area:

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Holiday train rides
Hot chocolate and coffee station
S’mores at the fire pit (helpful elves are standing by)
Santa’s house – visit Santa, take a pic, and get a candy cane
Cookie decorating with Mrs. Claus
Pizza, adult beverages, and snacks for purchase
Ice skating!

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There is a small ice skating rink set up downstairs just outside the indoor pool. It’s a fascinating construction – made with fiberglass panels, skaters glide along on the skates provided and when they fall (because they will, let’s be honest) there is no cold ice to hurt or freeze them! My kids loved this and wanted to go back for more after dinner! Plan your visit well, because this is a popular activity, but staff keeps the line moving with skater time limits so everyone gets a turn.

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The activities make for a fun evening, and the icing on top is the festive sprinkle of snow that happens about every 15 minutes.

Let It Snow tickets are available to overnight guests who purchase the Winter Wonderland package. But Mercato Italiano, the bustling Italian evening in the hotels lobby restaurant, is open to anyone.

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At this buffet, we enjoyed the top-notch customer service we can always expect from the Four Seasons. We started with drinks – a Paso Creek merlot for me, and a Ladyface Alehouse dark amber for my husband. The kids loved their lemonade and chocolate milk served in “fancy glasses.” Warm bread is served with Ojai Olive Oil and balsamic vinegar, another local favorite.

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Servers recommended that we start with the antipasto side of the buffet, which actually turned out to be my favorite. The marinated mushrooms and artichoke salad, and the bruschetta, were good enough to bring me back for seconds, even after I had tried the entrees! Then we moved on to pasta, which was the kids’ favorite (of course), and I liked that there was a gluten free penne to try.

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The star of the entree section, for my husband, was the seafood cioppino, with mussels, clams, shrimp and crab. For me it was the lasagna. For the kids, well, it was making pizza with Chef Jim!

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For dessert, gelato flavors included pumpkin cheesecake and toffee crunch to pair with delicious custards and pastries. You’ll have to make sure to leave room though. It’s easy to indulge here! Reservations are wise, and cost is $31-50 per person.

My family enjoyed Let It Snow as guests, along with complimentary dining at Mercato Italiano, to facilitate this feature. All opinions are my own. And my husband’s and children’s.

Super Lemon Bars

 

These easy-to-make lemon bars are extra lemony with a cup of fresh lemon juice in the filling!

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A batch of lemon bars. This special occasion treat might be easier to make at holiday time in Southern California, where your neighbor just might have a lemon tree whose branches grow over the brick wall between your houses and into your yard, so that you are free to harvest as many ripe or almost-ripe lemons on your side of the wall as you want.

Ahem.

IMG_2640That is a 5-gallon bucket of ripening lemons right there.

Let’s just say we’ve made a lot of fresh lemonade this November. My boys demanded a lemon meringue pie, but never having made one before I decided to start with a simpler confection. So I tested a few lemon bar recipes and settled on something I can turn to again and again, and I can whip up fairly easily as long as I have enough eggs in the house.

So, with props to The Pioneer Woman, The Joy of Cooking, and the Food Network test kitchen, here’s my hacked-up recipe for lemon bars that are super lemony!

Super Lemon Bars

super lemon barsIt’s a bird. It’s a plane. Nope, it’s a delicious lemon bar!

Ingredients

2 cups flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into little cubes

4 large eggs + 2 egg yolks
2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup fresh lemon juice

Directions

Crust:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease a glass 9 x 13 baking dish
Mix flour, sugar, and salt
Add diced butter pieces and work them into the flour mixture with your fingers until the mix is pebbly and sandy
Press mixture evenly into the bottom of the baking dish
Bake for 20 minutes

Filling:
Beat eggs and egg yolks in a large bowl
Add flour and sugar
Add lemon juice and lemon zest; mix well
Pour filling over the baked crust
Return dish to oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until filling is solid
Let cool on stovetop or rack for 20 minutes. Chill in refrigerator for 2 hours.
Sift confectioner’s sugar over the top (I just use a fine strainer). Cut into bars and enjoy!

Makes 24 bars – they are very rich, so a little goes a long way!

If you’re surfing for recipes for sweet treats to serve at your holiday party or to give as gifts, this week Savvy Sassy Moms is doing a blog hop featuring sweet treats! Check out this recipe for egg nog cookies – these I’ve gotta try -and the links at the bottom with more great ideas!