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As always, all opinions are mine alone.
One thing that I love about this time of year, even more than the food and the smells and the super cute boots that are in style, is the fact that around this time of year we get more visitors. Between Halloween and New Year’s we usually have guests about 2-5 times each year. Last year one of my oldest and dearest friends came to visit between Christmas and New Year’s and my husbands Aunt and Uncle came to stay for Thanksgiving. To prepare for extra guests I love to head over to my local Smart & Final store for great deals on everyday items.
Last year when my best friend visited, we spent a lot of time in the kitchen (of course). We cooked together, developed a few recipes and just caught up on old times. On more than one occasion we’d sit together and enjoy a delicious cup of coffee or tea while chatting and laughing hysterically. It was a great visit that still brings a smile to my face.
This year we don’t have any concrete plans for guests just yet, but it’s pretty inevitable that we’ll have a few. Because the holiday season is on it’s way, it’s now the perfect time to stock up on coffee and other fun items for the holiday visiting season and I even came up with a fun little idea and recipe to help your own guests feel more welcome.
I think it’s a great idea to welcome your overnight guests with a little coffee bar set up. I’m in California so if any family or friends are visiting from any other U.S. time zones, their internal clock is going to be different than mine and they may wake before me. So why not let them feel right at home with a travel cup of their very own, coffe, hot chocolate, tea, creamer and all the fun mix-ins they may love.
This way they don’t have to wait for you to get up or try to look through your cabinets when they aren’t familiar with where things are. Instant comfort! I’d even leave a few magazines to read and maybe a few other welcome baskets in the guest room or bathroom too. All those little things that can help people feel at home are a great touch for visitors. And they also won’t worry they are drinking the last of your creamer if they know you set this up especially for them!
I love these little mini marshmallows and cinnamon sprinkles. They inspired me to create my own Café Cocoa recipe that I just know my friends would love to sip with me in the kitchen. Let’s call it a mix of a classic hot chocolate and a fancy coffee from a coffee house.
Another thing you can include in your coffee welcome basket is homemade biscotti. Package some up so your guest can take a few home to enjoy with that travel mug, and include some extras that you can enjoy too while you both sip on the Café Cocoa together. I wanted to create a Biscotti that would be perfect for the holiday season, and I think this is it. It’s a little bit Snickerdoodle with Pumpkin in it as well, these are classic holiday flavors and they taste delicious with the Café Cocoa.
Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Biscotti Recipe
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup pumpkin
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon all spice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar * for the snickerdoodle coating
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon * for the snickerdoodle coating
Café Cocoa Recipe
- 1 Ambiance Donut Shop Coffee pod
- 1 package hot chocolate
- french vanilla creamer
- sweetener (sugar or substitute)
- whipped cream
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar on medium/low until combined. Stir in the pumpkin.
Add the eggs, one at a time. Then add the vanilla.
Divide the dough in half, then shape into two flat 10×3 loaves on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon mixture.
Bake in preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool on wire racks for about 30 minutes.
Place cut side up on baking sheet lined with parchment or silicon mat and bake another 15 minutes at 350. Turn the biscotti over to the other cut side, and bake another 15 minutes.
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I found my Ambiance coffee and all of the mix-ins in the coffee aisle at my local Smart & Final store. Stay in touch with Smart & Final via Twitter and Facebook, and don’t forget to enter the sweepstakes!