Can’t believe how cold it is through out the country… great day to read a good book in front of the fire. Gather kids around for some board games and drink some hot chocolate. Get that fire going. For my friends in the south who don’t have a fireplace. Put on the Yule log video on the tv. It’s amazing how just looking at a fire with some crackling sounds makes the room feel warm and cozy.
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup baking cocoa
pinch of salt
1/3 cup hot water
4 cups milk ( I like whole milk for a creamier drink)
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
handful of fresh raspberries
handful of marshmallow if desired
In a saucepan, combine sugar, cocoa, cinnamon and salt. Add water; bring to a boil. Lower heat and stir for 2 minutes. Stir in milk; heat to serving temperature (do not boil). Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla. Whisk until frothy. Pour into cups and add marshmallow and raspberries. Dust with cinnamon powder.
the cocoa flavor is very rich so if you don’t like your hot cocoa super strong I recommend using 1/2 cup more milk.
3 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons cinnamon
6 ounces semisweet chocolate morsels
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper ( adjust if you don’t like spicy)
whipped cream for topping
Bring milk and cinnamon to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally and making sure milk doesn’t boil,
cinnamon should be floral and fragrant, about 10 minutes.
Stir in chocolate, sugar, vanilla, salt, and ¼ tsp. ground cayenne pepper (or less if you don’t like hot and spicy) and cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is smooth and creamy and chocolate is melted, about 5 minutes.
Pour into cups, add whip cream and dust with cocoa powder and a touch of cinnamon
Every Tuesday we have Pizza and a Movie Night. A different family member chooses the pizza and movie each week. The family member or “host” of the evening introduces the movie and tell why they choose it.
This teaches the kids how to express their thoughts in front of people
Teaches the rest of the siblings to try new things
learn how to be supportive and a gracious guest. The movie might not be something they are interested in but they learn to be a good guest, enjoy it because it makes another person you love happy. Respect others opinions and tastes.
It also give a great topic of conversion through out the week on everyone’s different opinions… learning to agree to disagree or find a common like it a great life skill
Want to up the football fun? By just adding some simple lines to your food, you can theme the party in a flash
Friends and family have been asking for my Banana Bread recipes for quite some time now. Here it is. Enjoy
The twelve day of Christmas is also know as 3 Kings Day or The Epiphany. On this day, the Three wise men or Magi brought Jesus presents. It is celebrated in many parts of the world with feasts and gift giving. It is also the unofficial day to take down your Christmas decor. In fact, some people are superstitious and think it’s bad luck to take down Christmas decorations before the 12th day. I celebrate this with a fabulous meal after taking down and packing away my Christmas decor. I also focus on some gift giving. The Christmas season is filled with hustle and bustle and we all try to fit in as much as possible before Christmas Day. I’m always so touched when my neighbors stop by with presents and christmas cheer. Even though one of my joys in life is baking treats for my neighbors for Christmas, it is always a struggle to find the time between events. The 12th Day of Christmas is a perfect opportunity to reach out to friends and neighbors after the Christmas rush with a little gift of gratitude to show them how much they mean to you. So this year, I baked and packaged up Banana Bread, Breakfast Puffs and ground up some holiday coffee for all the people who had so thoughtfully brought gifts over to me during the Christmas season. Because it was after Christmas, when I arrived with my Epiphany presents, we actually had time to sit down and visit. It was relaxed, casual and a great way to give gratitude to those who take the time to make your life special.
Years ago I got some cute holiday mugs on sale and switched them out with my regular coffee mugs. They really set an instant mood when neighbors come over for coffee or we are watching a holiday movie with hot chocolate. So every December, I put my regular cups in the holiday mug storage box and place the holiday mugs in the cupboard. At the end of December I replace my regular mugs and put the holiday mugs back in the their storage box until next year.
At your next holiday party, don’t forget the teenagers. Pull out all the stops with a glittery non-alcoholic specialty drink station. Make sure you use real glass to give it a more sophisticated look. They really enjoy being junior mixologists and creating their own drinks.
PICTURES BY CHLOE BAKER
I’m always looking for ways to include the children in whatever occasion we are celebrating. Our kid’s juice bar is a family favorite and always a bit hit. It’s a simple idea that the kids love and delight in making custom “mock”tails through out the party.
PICTURES BY CHLOE BAKER
with all the holiday parties coming up, why not bring something with some extra holiday spirit? These easy brownies are a big hit. Adding red and white paper straws to your drink table, sets a holiday mood.
Use your regular brownie mix but instead of putting in pan, grease and coat mini cupcake pans with cocoa power.
*TIP. I always use cocoa powder to coat any chocolate cake or brownie pan. It acts like flour and doesn’t leave that white powdery look.
Fill the bins 2/3 full and bake at 350 and bake for 10 to 12 minutes depending on your oven.
* TIP watch the 1st batch, because these are small they bake quickly.
while brownies are cooling on rack, prepare strawberries, wash and pat dry. Cut off green stem and cut a bit of point (better for putting that final dab of frosting for hat.) You can either use the strawberry like this or hull (remove center)
After brownies cool, use your favorite white frosting and either pipe on white M1 tip or smooth on a layer with knife.
Place strawberry on top and dap frosting on tip of strawberry to finish off.
For added holiday fun. Put milk out with a pretty red ribbon, red and white paper straws. I get small glass milk containers at the dollar store in the glass section and put those out for added fun.
Every season, my mom would put out our Advent wreath on our dining room table to light every night while preparing for Christmas Day. In the middle of the wreath, she would place a small wooden crib. During advent, instead of saying our bedtime prayers in our rooms, we would gather around the dining room table, pray and then put a piece of straw in the crib for every good thing we did or thought we had that day. By the end of advent, the crib was filled with our good deeds and intentions. Before we went to sleep Christmas Eve, my parents would get the beautiful porcelain Baby Jesus out of his box. My Dad would give us long tapered candles, and turn of the lights. All six kids and my parents, would make procession into the living room singing Silent Night, lighting the way for Baby Jesus, before placing him on our crib of good deeds. this is a wonderful way to remind everyone the real reason for the season.
I know that wooden cribs and porcelain Baby Jesus figurines are still available on line. Or make the crib yourself out of popsicle sticks (picture below post) This is something to bring the joy of the season back in your hearts.
It’s always essential to remember to slow down and just be. Sundays are great for taking the time to sit back with a cup of your favorite tea or some sparkling water and enjoy a good book. Here is one that I just finished and really enjoyed. It’s well written and an easy read.
What do you do with your old family Christmas cards? Why not frame them and display them every year? I took some frames that I got on sale and painted them red to enhance the holiday feeling. I have christmas cards from George’s 1st year on… Lovely memories and instant holiday cheer.
Why drive yourself crazy if a glass breaks. By having different glasses in a group, if one breaks it doesn’t matter. You can get individual glasses on sale and add on at your leisure. Not only do your guests get to pick their individual style but everyone knows which glass is theirs.
After spending time decorating for the holidays, what is a better way to keep the holiday spirit going than preparing this easy chocolate peppermint martini. Don’t have a martini shaker? Use a large glass or jar. Want a less filling cocktail? Use almond milk instead of regular milk. Cheers!