Friday, December 31, 2010

I Resolve...

Every New Year's Eve, I make my list. These are the things that I vow to do in the new year. I typically put things like - "Get Promoted","Lose Weight" or something selfish like that. Please know, I am not an overly selfish person, I have 2 kids and house full of pets, not much time for myself. But I feel like I can give more.

So here are my thoughts on this new year full of promise...
  1. Say "I Love You" more often. To my parents, to my children, and especially to my husband.
  2. Volunteer my time. Make someone, who I don't even know, feel special.
  3. Start a new tradition with my family. 
  4. Be thoughtful in gift giving. In the rush of life it's so easy to buy anything at a store but this year I want to think of the person and what they mean to me. Homemade gifts would be the best.
  5. Eat Healthier - Ok well I can't very well do the things above if I don't at least do one thing for myself. ;)
Happy New Year! May you have a healthy and prosperous 2011!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

O' Christmas Tree

If you have a lot of left over hard candy from Halloween, or if you're like us, left over from last Valentine's Day, don't throw it away - make something! I found this idea in the December issue of Better Homes and Gardens. {I love that magazine}

"Crush hard candies like Jolly Ranchers to create shimmery ornaments that resemble stain glass. Just line a cookie cutter with foil, spritz it with cooking oil, and fill it halfway with candy pieces. Bake for approximately 7 minutes at 350 degrees to melt the candy, then cool for 10 minutes. Use a hot-glue gun to add a hanger." - BHG

Mine turned out pretty well, and I ended up making 2 or 3 other pieces but this one was by far the best. If you try it, send me a picture. I would love to see how it turned out.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

They look good, don't they?

They are...well, were {grin}. The kids thought they tasted like mint chocolate chip ice cream, but warm. They were originally just cocoa fudge cookies, but I added a bit of a seasonal kick to them. They look like teeth breakers but actually the candy canes soften after a bit.

Cocoa Fudge Cookies {w/Candy Canes}
Yield: 2 dozen
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter
7 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cooking spray

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
2 packages of 12 {or more} candy canes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cup; level with knife. Combine flour, soda, and salt; set aside. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat; stir in cocoa powder and sugars (mixture will resemble coarse sand). Add yogurt and vanilla, stirring to combine. Add flour mixture, stirring until moist. Drop by level tablespoons 2 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until almost set. Cool on pans 2-3 minutes or until firm. Remove cookies from pans and cool on a wire rack. This recipe is actually from a Cooking Light recipe, so in case I've made a mistake you can get it here.

For topping {this one's all me}, lightly crush candy canes with a rolling pin in a plastic bag. Pour crushed candy canes onto a shallow dish. Combine powdered sugar and milk to make icing and spread over top of cookie {you don't need very much}. This will act like a glue. So now, either sprinkle candy cane on top of cookie or turn cookie upside down onto plate to pick up the candy canes. Let sit until icing is solid.

Voila! Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hunting Season

When you think of hunting season, I bet you don't think of it as a family event. Well not an "everybody and your grandma" event, anyway. But that's just what it is when my family goes hunting. Hunting for our Christmas tree...parents, kids, cousins, uncles, grandmas and grandpas all head out to the great tree farm to honor the yearly tradition. Usually it's chili and hot dogs before, to keep us energized and warm for the trek ahead. And then hot chocolate after, when we haul our "prize" home. 

Once home, the fun begins. Dan relinquishes all responsibility for decorating to myself and the kids. He killed it, we dress it. Sounds fair. In place and smelling wonderful, I notice this tree is tall, it is VERY tall. Now removed from the wide, open air, our perfect tree has magically grown to enormous proportions. "But it was the right size when we picked it!" they exclaim. "It must be magic!" they say. What we thought was only maybe 8 feet at best was 11 feet tall!!!

With "Jingle Bells" in the background, the kids and I set to work. Of course, we needed a little help getting ornaments to the top and to the kids excitement we received it by way of a very tall ladder. My husband's work was not quite done. Even with a ladder, the star still required an extra long arm.

 With night falling and the lights glowing, I think to myself that the traditions are well worth it.

Happy Holidays everyone!