Hot Chocolate and the holidays just go hand-in-hand. That warm cozy feeling in your tummy while gathered around the fire or Christmas tree with loved ones is what Christmas is all about.
Daughter, Sarah, requested that we try this recipe for Christmas morning 2012 and it was delicious. It took a little longer to heat in the crock pot so allow plenty of time for it to warm to serving temperature.
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas!
CHRISTMAS CROCK POT HOT CHOCOLATE
1.5 cups heavy cream
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz.)
2 cups milk chocolate chips
6 cups milk (I used 1%)
1 tsp. vanilla
Stir together the whipping cream, milk, vanilla, and chocolate chips in a crock pot.
Cover and cook on low for 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until mixture is hot and chocolate chips are melted.
Every Christmas, for many years, we have made Cinnamon Hard Candy. I’ve often wondered how Peppermint hard candy would taste and it is also very good. My girls are freaked out by the blue color but you could also make it without any food coloring if you are smurf-adverse.
PEPPERMINT HARD CANDY
1 cup white sugar
1 cup Karo syrup
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon peppermint oil (usually behind the prescription counter at your grocery store)
1/4 teaspoon blue food coloring powdered sugar
Combine sugar, syrup and water in a sauce pan.
Boil without stirring, over medium-high heat until it reaches hard crack stage (300-310 degrees).
Once the candy starts to thicken and turn golden brown, watch carefully or it can scorch.
When done, remove from heat and quickly add peppermint oil and food coloring.
Pour into a metal pan that has been lined with about 1/4 to 1/3″ powdered sugar.
Sprinkle powdered sugar on top of candy immediately. Let cool until the edges start to firm up and then immediately begin to score the pieces from around the edges and keep cutting inward, in squares, as the candy hardens. This makes it easier to break into more uniform pieces once the candy has hardened.
Seafood Chowder is so easy and so delicious! I love recipes that are easy to prepare and contains items in your pantry and freezer. This Chowder fits the bill. My friend and former co-worker, Cyndi, shared this with me a few years ago and it’s a regular on my winter menu.
Hope you enjoy as much as I do!
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 large potato chopped small (or 10 or 12 red new potatoes)
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 cups chicken broth (equals 1 can plus some water)
1/2 cup cream (or evaporated milk)
1 can corn (drained)
1 can chopped clams with juice
1/2 lb. Tilapia – cut into bite size pieces (
1/2 lb. Shrimp peeled and cut into bite size pieces
Sauté onion, celery, potato in butter for 5 min. Season with salt and pepper.
Add chicken broth, Worcestershire, and thyme and cook until potatoes are tender (about 15 min)
Add clams with juice, fish and shrimp. Cook over med heat about 10 min
Add can of corn and cream, season with pepper to taste, heat to serve immediately.
It serves 4 smaller serving bowls or 2 large servings as main meal.
I love traditional cornbread but for those trying to avoid gluten, it isn’t a fit. Last night I made a big pot of beef stew with cornbread for the family but needed a gluten-free version. The Almond Flour Cornbread is delicious with the slight sweetness of honey. Yummy!
While I was writing this post today my good buddy, Jan, sent me a link to a ‘Today’s Dinner Party‘ that brought a smile to my face, given all of the dietary restrictions we all face.
ALMOND FLOUR ‘CORNBREAD’
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup honey
4 eggs, beaten
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the flour, baking soda and salt into a bowl and whisk to combine.
Add the honey to the beaten eggs and add to flour mixture. Stir until fully combined and no lumps remain.
Pour into a well-greased 8×8″ baking pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.
Autumn inspires me to bake, especially the traditional Apple Pie. Don’t get me wrong, I love traditional, 2 crust apple pie but I LOVE a Dutch Apple pie with its delectable crunchy topping. This recipe, from McCall’s Cook Book 1963 has been in my recipe box for a L-O-N-G time and always a winner. It’s a crowd-pleaser and the aroma of the baking pie fills the house with baked love!
DUTCH APPLE PIE
9 inch unbaked pie shell
2/3 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/3 cup butter
1 pound tart cooking apples
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Prepare pie shell; refrigerate until used.
Preheat oven to 400F.
Make Topping: Combine flour and sugar in medium-sized bowl. Cut in butter, with pastry blender or 2 knives, until mixture is consistency of coarse cornmeal. Refrigerate.
Make Filling: Core apples, and pare; thinly slice into large bowl. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Combine flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon,mixing well. Toss lightly with apples.
Turn filling into unbaked pie shell, spreading evenly. Cover with topping.
Bake 40-45 minutes or until apples are tender.
Serve warm. Options: top with whipped cream or ice cream
Spiced Pecans are a family and gift tradition started a few years ago. I do not remember where the recipe came from, but it is an all-time favorite. It makes a great gift for friends and family and a nice change from the traditional sweets of the holidays. Spiced Pecans can be made early in December and given throughout the holidays. I typically triple the recipe and make several batches. Enjoy!
GLAZE: 1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon canola oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast pecans on a baking sheet for 6 minutes.
Stir together the spice mix in a small bowl.
In a saucepan, combine the glaze ingredients. Bring glaze to boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Stir in toasted nuts and continue to stir until all the nuts are shiny and the liquid is gone (1-2 minutes).
Place glazed nuts in a bowl, sprinkle on the spice mix, and toss well to coat. Spread the coated nuts on a cookie sheet and return them to the oven for another 4 minutes.
Aunts and Uncles are a bit like Grandparents. They get to spoil the nieces and nephews, shower them with affection and love, and leave when they are amped up on sugar and fun. It’s a good gig! I was an Aunt at age 7 and grew up with my niece and two nephews. It was wonderful having playmates and helping out my older sister and brother. A highlight of every year was when they came to stay with us and go to Bible School at the rural Carlton Brethren Church, a half mile from our house. There were sticker charts, ice cream, indoor picnics, dress-up (sorry Jeff and Duane), and so many stories!
After college I moved out-of-state and was always sad not to be closer to my family but treasured each of the visits back to see everyone. I was very fortunate to have wonderful Aunts and Uncles as well. Not all of them lived close but my siblings and I always knew we were loved with the hugs/kisses that went with their visits.
At this state of my life, I have 3 Aunts and 1 Uncle. Uncle Jack will be 90 this month and planning a big celebration. Aunt Joyce (Jack’s wife) turned 86 in February. Aunt Lora (also my Mother’s BFF in school) turned 94 this year. Aunt Wilma will turn 100 next June. From these wonderful people I learned the importance of family/loyalty, laughter, music, traditional dishes prepared for holidays and family gatherings.
Several years ago, when camcorders were new to the market, we traveled to Iowa with our newborn daughter to celebrate Christmas. Christmas Eve day several of my family members were visiting at my Mother’s House.
We turned on the camcorder asked our family members ‘what is your favorite Christmas memory?’ I tear up just thinking about it. The heart-warming, loving, funny, and sarcastic stories were great at the time but are true treasures now.
This holiday season let’s spend our time BEING PRESENT and sharing stories for our children and grandchildren to treasure. Break out the smart phone and make a video, perhaps the best PRESENT of the season!