Christmas Review

Christmas week is over and it was full of fun and festive events with my family. Most of which is to come in future posts. But for now, on Christmas Eve we prepared holiday dishes. When making our traditional meat pie for Christmas Eve dinner Luke wanted to cook up 2pound of meat but I was concerned it would not fit in our small pie tins, Next thing I know out comes an early Christmas gift labeled “kitchen Santa”. So we had a new large deep dish fiesta-ware pie tin to put our Christmas Eve dinner in.

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That night went to service at our church where Luke and I sang in the choir. It was a wonderful celebration with plenty of singing and of course a candle lighting. We enjoyed cookies and punch downstairs then came back and enjoyed our meat pie.

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Later that evening we opened our one Christmas Eve present then enjoyed  a local favorite: concord grape pie from Monica’s with homemade whip cream.

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On Christmas day the tree was full with presents around one of our other gifts a homemade quilted Christmas Tree Skirt. Below’s picture was before it was full so I could see the skirt.

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We started the morning with coffee and opened Kira’s stocking which my mother brought. She found treats and new toys to keep her busy as we opened our own stockings.

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We then had our traditional breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage, and blue/blackberry buckle. After this we read our Christmas story for the year, a children’s book my grandmother gives us each year focusing on the Christmas story. Then opened presents.

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I had to wake her up from a nap to give her her gift on Christmas Eve

She enjoys the new blankets she got: lightweight but warm easy for her to pick up and drag to the living room

She enjoys the new blankets she got: lightweight but warm easy for her to pick up and drag to the living room

We cleaned up some of our Christmas morning mess and spent the rest of the day playing board games and skyping other family members in our PJ’s. We had prime rib with au jus, and family dipping sauce called ‘ham sauce’, parmesan green beans and rosemary/thyme potatoes for dinner.

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Then we enjoyed more pie from Monica’s and watched a movie we got for Christmas. It was a fun holiday.

 

Merry Christmas 2015

This year we are attending a early afternoon Christmas Eve service where both of us will be singing in the holiday church choir. We also enjoying the company or my parents who are visiting us for an upstate New York Christmas.

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No matter where you are we hope you are having a wonderful holiday season. To all of my readers: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!

From the Greenes

White Chocolate Ginger Snap Cookies

So my second new cookie experiment this year was a white chocolate dipped ginger cookie. I’ve always wanted to learn how to make ginger snaps and found this recipe on pintrest.

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The cookies themselves ended up taking a long time to bake, I’m guessing because of the molasses.

White chocolate can be hard to work with it can burn easily or harden quickly. So I decided to use my fondue pot to dip the white chocolate halves; the perfect solution.

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I found a sprinkles pack that had red balls, and Christmas trees. This worked out perfect to make holly. I think they were the biggest hit this year because they are so attractive and they taste great.

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Unfortunately the pictures you see are the leftovers least attractive cookies, but they taste just as good as the rest.

I do not have a modified recipe for them yet but I got the recipe from a fellow blogger Cookingclassy

Hope you are all enjoying the holiday season!

 

Holiday Velvet Cookies

So if you follow my blog at all you know I love to bake and most of all to bake cookies. And Christmas is the perfect time of year to experiment with new recipes.  This year I did two new experiments.

In the past I have worked with several different cake mixes to make cookies for more on this see 4th of July funfetti cookies or strawberry cheesecake cookies.

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So when I saw in the store a holiday velvet cake mix I thought: why not? I have before done a cake mix cookie for Christmas with the funfetti cake, but I had to add a lot of food coloring to make them festive.

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So this year the color was already in the mix and they turned out great! Similar to the other cake mix cookies I used the cake mix, vegetable oil, but this time I also add a little extra coco for a stronger velvet taste and cheesecake pudding mix.

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Here’s the full recipe below.

Holiday Velvet Cheesecake Cookies

Makes about 32 cookies

Prep time 10 minutes

Cooking time 30 minutes

  • 1 box Holiday Funfetti cake mix
  • 1 ½ small box instant cheesecake pudding mix
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ C of flour
  • ¼ C coco
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
  • 1/2 cup white baking chips, divided

 

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, vegetable oil spray, or a Silpat.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding mix, coco and flour
  3. Add in the 3 eggs, vegetable oil, and vanilla until a dough forms
  4.  Stir in  the white chips.
  5. Using a cookie scoop, drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets 2 inches apart.
  6. Press a few chips onto the tops of each cookie or seasonal sprinkles

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cookies just start to lightly brown.

 

The centers will still be very soft – that’s okay!

Cool for 2 minutes, then remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

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To make them extra festive I rolled the tops of the cookies in red, white, and green sprinkles and placed a snowflake on each. They are bright, ,moist, colorful and most of all taste great!

And for the second experiment . . .  you’ll have to wait for the next blog.

O Christmas Tree

This past weekend I was in-between classes: finished grading finals with one and preparing to grade final projects with another and I needed a break. So we went to get our Christmas tree.

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Fortunately, where we live there are many farms, including Christmas tree farms so finding a great tree is easy. We drove less than 2 miles up the road from our house to the closest tree farm. We were given a saw and told to bring back the tree to pay for it  when we were done.

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We were able to take Kira with us, who thoroughly enjoyed smelling all the trees and playing with pine cones.

Growing up we didn’t have much choice in trees. We would go to open lots or hardware store parking lots that have a limited selection and high cost. All trees had already been dead for days and transported from the Northwest.

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On the opposite end, Luke’s family owned a Christmas tree farm for a few years. So I am usually done searching and ready to settle for something much sooner than Luke who who enjoys the hunt for the “perfect tree”. He was even able to tell me different types of trees and if a different person was trimming a different row or section of trees than another.

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After I reminded him that this was mini-break we finally settled on a tree. He cut it down for us and dragged it to the car. They offered to wrap it up for us but since we lived so close we just used some straps and headed home.

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We had it home soon after and it didn’t take long to get it decorated. This year I was finally able to use the crochet snowflakes my mom made me last year on the tree. I think they help balance out the multi-colored lights.

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It’s amazing how much getting the tree up and ready for the holiday makes a difference in the home-it feels like Christmas.

Busy Holiday Season

It has been a very busy holiday season. Because I am a teacher not only is the holiday season busy because of holiday parties, gift-buying, etc. but also because I am grading final project and proctoring finals.

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I am in the count-down, not to Christmas, but to the end of the semester. T-minus 8 days. In those 8 days I have 25 final tests and 17 research papers to grade. Almost there (with many cups of coffee).

That of course does not include:: taking, creating, and writing holiday cards, strategizing long distance about presents and wish lists, and planning holiday travels or outings.

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In this busy-ness it is difficult to focus on the importance of the season, to find rest, to be present in the traditions and activities. But I have managed to enjoy participating in our church Christmas choir, going caroling, and of course holiday baking (more on this to come). These types of actives help me de-stress and re-focus.

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This weekend Luke and I plan to get and decorate our Christmas tree and  the outside of the house. Both will be new challenges since we were not home last Christmas.

Plus we have to consider what to put on the tree with a curious almost 6 month old puppy (who I have already had to scold for trying to steal candy canes off a shelf).

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But I am looking forward to it and am going to do my best to be in the moment enjoying these activities instead of thinking about grades and grading.

Anyone else struggle to stay focus on the importance of the season? Some advice I am working on myself: take breaks, do de-stressing activites, rest, laugh, determine to not over multi-task, and get time for yourself and others.

Hope you are enjoying the holiday season.