Welcome to the Christmas Blog Hop, Hosted by Divine Promotions – You have made it to Alpha Book Club’s Stop!
What Does Christmas Mean to You? Well, we were asked this question and I asked the team! So here are some answers – Please feel free to share yours Below the post in a comment!
When the children were young we had so many traditions. One being putting five excited kids, my husband and myself in the car in search of the perfect Christmas tree. Strapping it to the top of the car, and bring it home. Of course, it would never fit in the stand. With some cutting and trimming, we would always get it up. I would string the light. The kids would put on their favorite ornaments, and my husband always put the angel on the top of the tree. As the kids got older, getting everyone together to pick out the tree got harder. Some of our kids didn’t return home from college until Christmas eve, and that is when we would get our discounted not so perfect tree. This year we will be short at least two children (adults really). Maybe with the help of technology, they can still join us in selecting the tree. I wish you all a very happy holiday season and hope that you all enjoy your own traditions. ~ Mollien
Christmas time has always held a bit of magic to me, but it’s definitely deepened once I became a mother. We’re a big outdoors family, so the sharp cold in the air, the frost hanging on the trees, icicles on the eaves, and fluffy snowflakes all lend that enchanted feeling to the season. When the trees, mountains, and houses are covered in white, everything looks fresh and peaceful. The decorations that only appear once a year enhance everyone’s moods, people seem to slow down a bit and enjoy the little moments more, and strangers offer smiles and well wishes more readily, all of these elements makes the season special. I love to cook, and the flavors and recipes that come out during Christmas season help get me in the spirit. I grew up making Christmas treats with my mom, and happily share that tradition with my kids. We like to make small batches so we can have lots of different special, holiday treats. My favorite scents are those I associate with Christmas- especially pine trees. I probably overdo it between the fresh wreath on the door, fresh tree, potpourri, and candles- but it warms my soul whenever those fragrances fill my home. Once we had children, we started creating some new annual traditions that we hope they will carry with them as they grow. Some of our favorites include: going to a Christmas tree farm, selecting, and cutting our own tree down as a family; advent calendars with special goodies for each day; new Christmas pajamas from the grandparents on Christmas Eve; hockey games during winter break; and reading some favorite holiday books in the weeks leading up to Christmas while sipping hot cocoa and steamers. My four year old is utterly captivated with the holidays this year, and it’s so much fun seeing it through her eyes.
- We decorate our tree with personal ornaments that each have a story. We try to buy one ornament a year during a vacation or outing that will represent the past year’s experiences.
- Cutting down our own Christmas tree
- Making cookies with the kids all December (they especially like the ones that require smashing candy canes)
- Watching the animated version and reading the Grinch Who Stole Christmas
- Finding a new display of Christmas lights to check out each year – Annie
Over the years it has changed, just slightly, but still the same. I love the traditions. It’s to me, the best time of year. People come together, that you may not have seen in a while. It’s about love, family and friends. To me giving is the best part. My immediate family doesn’t just give gifts, but we give our time as well. To see the faces light up, even with the smallest of things. It’s about the holiday cheer but most of all love as I said. ~ JoAnna
Christmas to me – hmmm, it has changed as I age. I Think this happens to all of us? I know Christmas used to be a huge ordeal in my family. All the aunts and uncles got together at one-another’s house, all the cousins, grandparents etc.. it was something we looked forward to each year. I loved it as a child. Now that I am older and have my own family – unfortunately we don’t live by any of our extended family. So now, Christmas is about doing things with just us – helping others and of course trying to make awesome memories for my daughter. Christmas is about being together – appreciating what you have – and being happy. Some traditions we always do is decorate the tree together, watch “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Story” – Of Course, we have to watch “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (the original and new version) and we make cookies each year just because its fun! ~ Jaime
The meaning of Christmas to me is spending time with family and friends. One of my fondest memories is going to my grandparents house and having my grandmother’s awesome homemade buns, nobody to this day can match my grandma’s buns. Once everyone was done eating my grandmother would play the piano and we would all sing Christmas songs. This is what Christmas means to me. My Christmas tradition is to watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation while I am wrapping presents. I also like to buy homemade ornaments for my kids and grandkids with the years on them. ~ Michelle
1 (12-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate morsels
9 ounces (3/4 of a 12-ounce bag) butterscotch morsels
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (8-ounce) can walnut halves
1/2 cup (a couple of handfuls) currants
8 -inch cake pan, lightly greased with softened butter
Candied cherries, red and green, for garnish, optional
- Place a heavy pot on the stove and preheat it over low heat. Add chips and milk and stir until chips are melted and milk combined. Save the empty condensed milk can. Stir in vanilla and remove fudge from heat. Add nuts and currants and stir in immediately.
- Cover empty condensed milk can with plastic food wrap and center it in the greased cake pan.
- Spoon fudge into pan around can, making sure to recenter can if it drifts.
- The fudge will set up almost immediately. Garnish can only be added in the first minute or 2 the fudge is in the pan, so work quickly.
- Decorate your wreath with “holly” made from cut candied red and green cherries. A wreath left plain can be garnished with a pretty fabric bow when serving.
- Chill covered in the refrigerator and slice fudge very thin when ready to serve, a little goes a long way.
I learned this Recipe from the Rachel Ray show – and I make it every single year – it is super easy – you can ad-lib to it as well – we add nuts, marshmallows, different flavor chocolate chips, and even crushed candy canes with white chocolate. Trust me, If I Can make this.. so you can you! – Jaime
Video Link to Watch Rachel Ray Make the Fudge – http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/five-minute-fudge-wreath-recipe.html
Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies
Makes 4 dozen cookies
Cookie Dough Ingredients:
2 squares (2 oz) unsweetened baking chocolate
5/8 cups (1 ¼ sticks or 5 ounces) chilled butter
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 beaten egg
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
2 Tbsp & 2 tsp corn syrup
1 Tbsp water
1 ½ tsp vanilla (or do 1 tsp vanilla and ½ to 1 tsp peppermint extract if want strong mint flavor)
2 cups flour (packed down when measured)
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup semi to finely crushed candy canes- don’t use too big pieces or won’t have enough for all dough (approx 3 full size or 12 minis)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F…rack in the middle of oven
- Melt butter and chocolate squares together either in microwave (2-3 min on high) or on stovetop over low heat. Mix together thoroughly (if using microwave mix 12 times while cooking). Set aside to cool
- In large bowl combine white sugar and egg, beating until it’s a uniform pale yellow color.
- Add baking soda and salt, mixing in thoroughly.
- Mix in corn syrup, water, and vanilla (and peppermint extract if using).
- When bowl of chocolate and butter is cool enough to cup in hands comfortably, add to bowl and mix in.
- Add half of flour to bowl, mixing thoroughly. Add remaining flour and mix again.
- Give bowl final stir by hand, cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rest.
- Spray cooking sheets with cooking spray or line sheets with parchment paper. Crush candy canes and mix topping.
- Roll dough into 1” balls. Dough may be sticky- keeping in fridge between batches in oven helps.
- Roll balls in topping and place them on greased cookie sheet. About 12 balls per std size cookie sheet. If you like, flatten slightly with hand/spatula (I prefer not flattening)
- Bake 8-10 minutes. Cool on sheet for a minute or so and then place on wire rack. Allowing to cool too long on sheet may cause peppermint candy to stick to sheet
Make-Ahead Holiday Mashed Potatoes
(makes 8-10 hearty servings)
9 large baking potatoes (about 3-3.5 pounds), peeled and cut into chunks
½ cup butter, softened + more for buttering dish
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature (1/3 fat cream cheese works fine)
¼ – ½ cup sour cream (add amount based on consistency and taste)
Pinch of nutmeg (optional)
¼ teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon salt
- Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water; bring to a boil, then simmer until tender.
- While potatoes cook, heavily buttered casserole dish.
- Drain potatoes and place in mixing bowl; beat with an electric mixer until potatoes are light and fluffy.
- Beat in the butter and cream cheese, cut into small pieces.,
- Beat in the seasonings and sour cream. Add sour cream in increments and watch consistency and flavor.
- Add potatoes into buttered casserole, cover, and refrigerate.
- When ready to cook, bring potatoes to room temperature (approx. 30 min). Reheat in oven at 350 degrees F, uncovered for 30-45 minutes or until warmed through.
Cranberry Salsa with Cream Cheese
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 1 1/2 cups
1 (12-ounce bag) or 3 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup minced green onions
2 small (approximately 2 tablespoons) jalapeno chile peppers, cored, seeded, and minced
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, minced
2 tablespoons finely-grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese
Cranberries and/or cilantro sprigs for garnish
- Rinse, drain, and pick over cranberries, (discarding all that are soft or bruised).
- Place the cranberries in a food processor; pulse until finely chopped but not mushy.
- Place chopped cranberries in a bowl; mix together with onions, jalapeno peppers, sugar, cilantro leaves, ginger, and lemon juice.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours so flavors develop (salsa will be too sharp and tart to begin with).
- On a serving plate, place cream cheese; cover with the dip. Garnish, if desired, and served with crackers.
Below you will find all the blogs taking part