Sweet Shoppe Mom

Monday, November 30, 2015

Anthem's Christmas Tree { #myphx }

For this week's #myphxmonday I wanted to feature some of Phoenix's unique holiday sites. In North Phoenix at the Outlets at Anthem every year they have a huge live Christmas tree. This year's tree stands 115 feet tall and has been designated the tallest live Christmas tree in the nation. The tree has 180 strands of light and over 6,000 ornaments!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Tis the Season for Chocolate Peppermint Biscotti { recipe }

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SendHallmark#CollectiveBias

I love decorating for all holidays though Christmas is my favorite - our Christmas tree, the indoor decorations, the outdoor decorations and my son's Christmas tree. We started collecting ornaments for my son's tree, his first Christmas and every year we've added more.

We enjoy getting in the festive mood with Christmas music, wearing Santa hats, and drinking hot cocoa. Chocolate Peppermint Biscotti is the perfect treat for this holiday tradition (recipe below).

My son and I picked out a few new ornaments this year to add to his tree.

He was very excited about the Snoopy ornament after seeing the new Peanuts Movie last week. Frosty the Snowman is one of our favorite Christmas classics that we watch every year together. We both love Dr. Seuss and always add a few Dr. Seuss ornaments each year - Cat in the Hat is a great classic. He also picked Eeyore wrapped in holiday lights because of one of his special stuffed animals - Eeyore was the very first stuffed animal his dad and I bought for him when I was pregnant.

Chocolate Peppermint Biscotti

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
1 3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons peppermint extract

dark chocolate appeals
candy canes, crushed

Step 1: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Step 2: Using a metal blade in a food processor, combine semisweet chocolate and sugar until finely chopped. Set aside.

Step 3: Mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Mix together using a wire whisk. Set aside.

Step 4: In a mixer, beat eggs, vanilla extract and peppermint extract on medium speed.

Step 5: Slowly add dry ingredients to the mixer bowl and beat on low until just combined.

Step 6: Place dough on a floured surface and split into two sections. Make two logs on the parchment lined baking sheet. Logs should be approximately 10 inches in length.

Step 7: Baking for 50-60 minutes until just firm to touch. Remove from over and cool for 5 minutes.

Step 8: Using a serrated knife, slice into 3/4 inch thick slices. Place slices on their side and bake for 25 minutes. Flip and bake for an additional 25 minutes until cookies are crispy.

Step 9: Cool

Step 10 (optional): melt dipping chocolate. Dip each cookie in chocolate and add sprinkles or crushed candy canes. Set in fridge.

The Hallmark Christmas ornaments at Walmart are located in the seasonal section near the front of the store. Lots of great choices for everyone - 16 designs exclusive to Walmart, Holiday Barbie, resin figurines and more. My son carefully studied all the choices to make his selection.

Which Hallmark Holiday ornament would you choose to add to your tree this year?

Northsight { #myphx }

This is a relatively new sculpture constructed in 2014 in the center of the round-about at the intersection of Hayden and Northsight in Scottsdale. Created by artists Simon Donovan and Ben Olmstead, the statue is three figures reaching up as if taking flight. The inspiration is the nearby airport as well as man's desire to take flight. Constructed out of stainless steel washers welded together, the sculpture is internally illuminated with LEDs to glow in the evening.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

One Pot Penne with Salami and Roasted Peppers { #recipe }

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HolidayPairings #CollectiveBias. The following content is intended for readers who are 21 or older.

Holidays should be enjoyed. With some days requiring more effort than normal, it's so great to simplify on the other days. Barilla's Pronto Pasta is the perfect solution for simplifying - only one pan needed, no waiting for the water to boil and no pasta to drain. 

One Pot Penne with Salami and Roasted Peppers is a very simple yet elegant pasta dish with minimal preparation and very simple cooking steps - prefect for holiday entertaining when you want to keep things low stress. This dish pairs perfectly with red wine - I selected The Dreaming Tree's Crush Red Blend.  Red wines always goes well with pasta dishes and cured meats like salami. The Dreaming Tree wines are from the North Coast of California. The Crush Red Blend is a mix of several varieties from the area that give it its caramel oak and berry notes. The winery is a collaboration between musician Dave Matthews and partner Sean McKenzie.


1 box Barilla Pronto Penne Pasta (12 oz)
3 cups cold water
4 oz Genoa Salami
3/4 cup red and yellow roasted peppers*
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 t dried oregano
olive oil
salt and pepper

*you can purchase roasted peppers in a jar or you can roast them yourself.


Step 1: Pour pasta into a 12 inch skillet and add the water. Add a pinch or two of salt. Cook on high for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Step 2: While pasta is cooking, chop the peppers and salami.

Step 3: When water is almost absorbed add salami, oregano, garlic and a drizzle of olive oil. Stir and cook for a few minutes.

Step 4: Add peppers and stir until peppers are warm. Remove from heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Step 5: Serve. Don't forget the wine.

I picked up the The Dreaming Tree wine and Barilla Pronto pasta at Walmart. Walmart has a great selection of premium wines at great prices. I also picked up Pepperidge Farm Chocolate Cookie Collection for a simple dessert. Pepperidge Farm cookies bring back childhood family memories - my grandmother would always put out a plate of these at the holidays - my favorites are the Milanos.

For a super simple meal, the Barilla Pronto Pasta can be mixed with Barilla Pasta Sauce - pick up a few extra boxes and jars to stock your pantry. Walmart is the go-to place for all your holiday entertaining needs.

Visit the Simple Entertaining hub to learn about upcoming wine tastings and pairing events at your local Walmart.