Friday, December 12, 2008

Holiday Recipes for Everyone

To me, every hour of the light and dark is a miracle, every cubic inch of space is a miracle. ~Walt Whitman

Sorry for the lateness of today's post. I was out shopping for my daughter's third grade class. I'm in charge of the Christmas party! So far we are going to make homemade Christmas cards, frost cookies, make "reindeer poop", and craft a homemade ornament. I will be sure to take pictures next week during the party.

Today I have holiday recipes from Laura at Eggland’s Best eggs, who was kind enough to send me the recipes and pictures.

Hanukkah begins this year at sundown on December 21 and to celebrate the The Festival of Lights, make these scrumptious latkes to share with your loved ones!

Sweet Apple Latkes

2 Eggland’s Best eggs
1-1/2 cups yogurt, nonfat
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup sugar substitute
Dash of salt
3 medium apples, peeled and grated
Vegetable oil for frying
Confectioner's sugar (optional)

In a bowl, mix eggs with nonfat yogurt, beat well. In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture along with the grated apples. Coat skillet with a thin layer of oil and heat. Drop in 1 tablespoon of batter per latke into the oil. Cook latkes approx. 2 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Drain excess oil on paper towels, and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.


When your family and friends gather ‘round the tree to open presents this December 25, pass around mugs of this yummy (and nutritious) eggnog to bring the Christmas spirit to your home!

Holiday Eggnog

6 large Eggland's Best eggs
1/2 cup sugar substitute
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 quart skim milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whipped topping (optional)
Garnishes or stir-ins (optional - chocolate curls, cinnamon, extracts or flavorings, ground nutmeg or peppermint sticks)

In a large saucepan, beat together Eggland's Best eggs, sugar, and salt. Stir in 2 cups of the milk. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until mixture begins to boil and is thick enough to coat a metal spoon. Remove from heat. Stir in remaining 2 cups of milk and the vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
Just before serving, pour into a bowl or pitcher. Fold in whipped topping and garnish or add stir-ins, as desired. Serve immediately.


When you are prepping for your New Year’s Eve party, make up a batch of the delicious casserole for the New Year’s Day fiesta the next morning! Salsa and chiles, plus Eggland’s Best eggs, add just the right kick (and nutrition) to start 2009 with a bang!

New Year’s Fiesta Breakfast Bake

4 large Eggland’s Best eggs, beaten
12 slices whole wheat or grain bread
1 can (11-15 ounces) corn
1 can (4 ounces) green chiles, chopped and undrained
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded low-fat Monterrey jack cheese or Mexican-blend cheeses
2 cups nonfat milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup salsa


Remove crust from bread. Place 6 slices in a lightly greased 12x8x2inch baking dish. Spoon half of the corn and half of the chiles over the bread. Sprinkle with half of the cheese. Layer the remaining bread, corn, chiles and cheese. Whisk together eggs, milk and salt. Pour over top layers. Cover and refrigerate casserole overnight to blend the flavors and soak the bread. In the morning, remove from refrigerator and let stand 30 minutes.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes until warm and bubbly. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon of salsa.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Simple Christmas Crafts

Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas. ~Peg Bracken

Today I have more easy crafts to make for the holidays!

I made these ornaments years ago in my Kindergarten class and it was so successful. They make beautiful gingerbread men. ~Nani

You'll need:
2 cups flour
1 cups salt
1 cup water

Mix dry ingredients. Add the water a little at a time and knead until the dough is smooth. Roll out as you would any cookie on a floured surface. Cut out in your favorite shapes or mold like Play-Doh. Make a hole before baking if you plan to hang the ornament. Bake at 325 degrees F. for an hour to hour and one-half. Paint with acrylic paints and decorate. When they are very dry varnish to preserve and keep any dampness out.

A friend substituted coffee for the water in this recipe for her Gingerbread men and I intend to try it this year. I've wanted to do a very natural color and glue on buttons for trim. They would look darling on a wreath or just piled in a pretty basket on a table with greenery. You can add cinnamon and other spices for the aroma of Christmas.

Note from MaddeesMom: I made the gingerbread men ornaments with the recipe listed above, and I tried it with the coffee ... they turned out okay the first time, except they were kind of puffy in some places. So the next time I made them I laid parchment paper over them and put another cookie sheet on top with a heavy casserole dish on top of that ... they turned out really cute! The coffee
made a difference too. I liked the color!

Lina shared this two natural decorations:

Sugared-Cranberry Garland
To make sugared cranberries, roll fresh cranberries in lightly beaten egg whites and then in superfine granulated sugar. Place cranberries on waxed paper to dry. To make garland, thread a large needle, such as a darning needle,with cotton string or dental floss, (I use dental floss). Loop and knot end for hanger loop. String the cranberries until the garland is desired length; then loop and knot end for hanger loop...use on tree with birdseed ornaments.

Dried-fruit Wreaths
Thread a large needle, like a darning needle, with cotton string or dental floss. Make a knot 4 to 6" from 1 end. String dried fruit (I use apricots, papaya,raisins and cranberries) until you have enough to form a small wreath; know string together to secure circle. If desired, place paper twist or raffia bow on top and know string to secure. For hanger tie some kind string through wreath around bow if you have one, tie string next to bow
to secure and then tie a know of two strings on top...hang on tree with birdseed ornaments and sugared-cranberry garland.

On OFL: Give these easy to make coffee mixes for gifts!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas Activity Tips and Ideas

Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childhood days, recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth, and transport the traveler back to his own fireside and quiet home! ~Charles Dickens

We'd all love it if all children were magically perfect with long attention spams during the holidays, but all moms know this just isn't so. The key to having fun with kids during Christmas, or other holidays, is to keep them busy with fun, quick activities. My daughter and I decorated today and I realized how much better she was doing this year at eight years old then she had in the past. With age they can do more, and it's important not to have expectations they can't meet. Just like most of us aren't Martha Stewart, neither are our kids!

Bearwoman, one of our creative community members,shared these great tips for keeping the kids busy and helping them have a great time.

-Give each child their own miniature tree to can get these at the dollar store, along with cheap ornies and everything you'll need. Let them pick a few things out too!

-Use construction paper to cut out giant stars and candy canes to hang on the full sized Christmas tree. You can also glitter them and place the child's picture in the center for a family heirloom. We still have ours from our dear daughter's kindergarten and she is now 20!

-Have the kids use cut out construction paper to make cards for their friends at school,or church. Use markers, stickers, and old cut up Christmas cards. You don't need envelopes. They can just hand them out. Add a curling ribbon and small candy cane too.

-Have story time with library Christmas books. Let them pick the ones they want...and enjoy a cup of cocoa and popcorn while reading these together. Great for families and don't forget to invite the little friends over.

I have to add that we sing and read each night, and during Christmas change our selections to Christmas carols and books. This is always so much fun, and makes the season extra special.

On OFL Mary Emma shares about her cookie traditions:


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Wrapping Your Christmas Gifts

From home to home, and heart to heart, from one place to another. The warmth and joy of Christmas, brings us closer to each other. ~Emily Matthews

Lizzy, one of our community moderators, gave us these great suggestions on wrapping gifts. I know from being on the receiving end of her gifts, that she knows her stuff!

I know it's easy to buy a roll of wrapping paper but if you have a little time and collect a few things during the year,you can make some imaginative and creative gift wraps for not much money. ~Lizzy

Brown paper - this looks great stenciled with gold stars,red Santa's or green Christmas trees. Or just wrap your gift and glue spray painted gold dried leaves on it. Don't forget some raffia, ribbon, string or rope.

Brown bags - again these can be stenciled as above or with the receivers name on them. If they are lunch bag style, fold the top over hole punch 2 holes in the fold. Thread raffia, string or ribbon through and tie in a bow.

White butchers paper - the kids will love to help with this. Just some stamps and paint and stamp it all over with whatever takes your fancy. It looks good with primary bright paints and matching ribbon.

Organza bags - these little beauties can be found in all the discount shops. They come in plain colours, prints and painted swirls etc and they look great filled with a gift. If you want some stand by gifts for anyone who might drop by in the holiday season you can't go wrong if you fill some of these bags with home baked cookies, candy, wrapped chocolates, assorted teabags etc.

Recycled containers, tins and boxes-keep an eye open during the year and collect any boxes or containers that you can recycle and renovate for gift giving. Often all you need is some glue, paper, paint, ribbon etc to make a beautiful container to hold that special gift. Plain plastic boxes make great containers for homemade rum balls, truffles, candy, or cookies. Line the box with tissue or cellophane and place the items in. Finish up with a big organza bow. Wash out those Pringles containers, dry and air. Paint the outside, stamp or use holiday stickers to decorate. These are the perfect size for round cookies. Add a spray of mistletoe glue to the top of the lid -presto.

Gift tags - my favorite gift tags are the ones I make like old style luggage tags - a rectangular piece of cardboard (use coloured cardboard or even cut up boxes) with the one end cut into a point. Hole punch the pointy end so you can add a ribbon, string or raffia to tie to the gift. Decorate the edges of the tag by gluing on a row of buttons or beads or maybe some seeds or berries. Alternatively you can buy those little painted wooden cut outs of stars etc - glue one of those on, easy. Write the name of the recipient and you're done. Another easy gift tag is a dried leaf-just write the recipients name in a thick gold pen on the leaf and glue it to the parcel.

I have one male cat who is always wondering what I am doing in the kitchen. I hope that you cat lovers out there will give this a try for your furry feline. ~ScrappinNut


7 oz. mashed up sardines in oil
1/4 c. dry powdered milk
1/2 c. wheat germ

Mix all ingredients well. Roll into small bite sized balls. Place
on greased cookie sheet. Flatten with a fork. Bake at 350
degrees F. for 8-10 minutes.

On OFL: Elegant Bow Tips for Decorating & More:

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sharing Christmas Traditions

Whatever else be lost among the years, Let us keep Christmas still a shining thing: Whatever doubts assail us, or what fears, Let us hold close one day, remembering its poignant meaning for the hearts of men. Let us get back our childlike faith again. ~Grace Noll Crowell

Today I have some more neat traditions from our readers. I love hearing about how others celebrate the season!

A Wish List Tradition
Every Christmas as our boys, now 23 and 19, were growing up they would write out their "wish list" for Santa. Once the list was finalized we would pick an evening about a week before Christmas, have a fire in the fireplace, and each boy would get to burn their list. You see, as the list burns it goes up in smoke to the North Pole, so they could be certain Santa would get their requests in plenty of time before December 24th! We live about a half hour from San Francisco. Another family favorite is to make our holiday visit to the city. We usually ride rapid transit or the ferry, window shop, and when they were younger visit Santa at Macy's, then have lunch. The hustle and the bustle of the city all decked out makes for a special day. ~Vanessa

Nadine's Special Traditions
The kids in my family are all too old for this (until the next
generation!) But one year on Christmas Eve after all were tucked in, I took my honey's old work boots and patted them in the fireplace ashes and then made boot tracks from the fireplace to the Christmas Tree. The next day when the kids woke up I said,"Would you just look at that- I told that Santa to wipe his boots before coming in - Now just look at this mess I have to clean up." the kids love it and it "proves" Santa is real and that I know him! I've also put a piece of nice leather with bells and printed "Prancer" on the underside and left it in the yard for the kids to find Christmas day. I tell them I'll give it back to Santa next time I see him.

Oooh and just one more - very carefully open walnuts, take out the meat and replace with a folded dollar bill. Glue the nut back together and wrap with a length of ribbon leaving enough to hang from a tree branch. Each kid who comes to visit gets to pick one as an extra surprise! I LOVE Christmas! ~Nadine

On OFL: "Shop" in your backyard for holiday trimmings!