Category Archives: Holiday fare

green eggs

Green Eggs

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

This morning, my boys asked for green eggs for breakfast.  Since we just observed the shared birthday of Dr. Seuss and myself, the whole green egg concept isn’t strange to them.

I just throw a handful of baby spinach leaves into the blender with 2 eggs.

making green eggs

Blend it all up good.

blend green eggs

And scramble it as I would any other scrambled eggs.

scrambled green eggs

Serve excited children.

green eggs

They’re SO good for you.  2 eggs and 1/2 cup baby spinach has the following nutritional information:

green eggs nutrition

Low in sugar
High in phosphorus
High in riboflavin
Very high in selenium
Very high in vitamin A
High in vitamin B12

As a bonus – and something fun – for those of you who would like to see the origins of St. Patrick’s Day, as told by Veggie Tales, watch this video:

Hallee


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candy cane star

Candy Cane Star Wreath

I love the way this wreath forms a star.  All you need are 10 candy canes, 5 peppermint mints, some ribbon, and a hot glue gun.

candy cane star

Start off by gluing two candy canes together to form a heart, using a dab of glue at each of the two points where the candy canes meet.

glue hearts

Repeat until you have 5 hearts.

Shape the hearts into a star following the visual below. You form a star into the center of the larger star – I love that.

candy cane star put together

Hot glue the star together.

Hot glue the mints to the tips of the star.

glue on mints

Add a large ribbon by which to hang the wreath.

candy cane star

Hallee


I’m so grateful for your visit today and would LOVE to have you leave a comment and give me your thoughts on this post.
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Gingerbread Cookies

Christmas Baking Planning

I have a confession to make: I barely baked last Christmas at all.  I did gifts for Scott’s teacher, and that’s about it.
This year, my intention is to do my mammoth baking that I’ve enjoyed in the past.  I want to make cookies and candies and breads and just have a blast doing it.  But, to incorporate something like that into my schedule, it takes some planning and some time. With just three weeks until Christmas, and only two full weeks of school left, it’s time to get to planning!
I love giving my friends delicious homemade treats as a Christmas gift. I used to do it while I worked full time, and would spend and entire Saturday and most of a Sunday baking and cooking and cleaning and mixing. Over the years, I’ve learned how to space the work out so that it’s not so frantic and exhausting.

Candy

My fudge recipe was given to my grandmother in 1946. A friend brought a plate of fudge to a Christmas party at church, and wrote the recipe down on the back of a church bulletin. The only thing that I changed was to remove the margarine from the recipe and replace it with half butter and half coconut oil. This fudge is amazing — it’s even better with homemade marshmallow cream.

We call this Captain Crunch Candy. I don’t know what the original name was, or where my mother got the recipe. However, I remember eating this every single Christmas of my life. It’s amazing and a favorite in our goodie baskets we make for friends.

This year I tried my hand at a layered Jell-O recipe. The Christmas Jello Stars were so festive and so good.

Cookies

Now that Gregg is home, he is in charge of making Gregg’s Gingerbread Cookies. He will make them at night, and have the dough ready to go the next morning. This is a huge batch – plenty for Christmas gift giving, or for a gingerbread house decorating party. We use Gregg’s Quick & Easy Royal Icing when we decorate them.

I grew up making Traditional Sugar Cookies at Christmas time. My mom would have them baked and ready for when I came home from high school, and I would decorate them with Buttercream Frosting – colored all different colors. We had a variety of sprinkles and imperials. I’d pull out my decorating tips and bags and spend hours on Christmas trees and angels, making each one perfect. The flavor combination of the sugar cookie and frosting is wonderful, and they are always so pretty in gift baskets.

Kaylee tried a new recipe last year – Engaging Eggnog Cookies. She sandwiched the cookies with Engaging Eggnog Icing. They were so yummy and will now be part of our Christmas gift baskets.

I love my spritz cookie press. You can bake a pan of spritz cookies in no time. I have a butter recipe and a chocolate recipe. I like to make the wreaths and dip them in white or dark chocolate, then sprinkle them with Christmas imperials. The Christmas trees are also awesome to make – just sprinkle them with green sugar and you’re good to go.

I also came across this tip on how to decorate Christmas sugar cookies.

I have a fresh ground flour/sweetened with honey sugar cookie that I fell in love with last year.  I’ll get the recipe posted early this year so that you can have a real-food option for baking.

Breads

I love making miniature loaves of breads for my gift baskets that I hand out to friends and families. Two recipes that are a must each year are Shannon’s Banana Bread and Delicious Cranberry Nut Bread.

This year, I will also be making loaves of my Whole Wheat Honey Oatmeal Bread.

Cakes

red velvet cakeI have a miniature bundt cake pan set. I make Heavenly Red Velvet Cakes and just drizzle them with mascarpone cheese frosting.

And a new try this year: Red Velvet Cake Roll. Heavenly. It would be a perfect gift to accompany with Pumpkin Roll.

Once you have your lists made, go ahead and stock up on the supplies. A lot of the cookies and breads can be made ahead of time and frozen.

During the remaining weeks leading up to Christmas, I’ll be making breads, cakes, candies, and cookies, getting ready to put the baskets together.

Do you give homemade treats as gifts? What are you making for Christmas?

 

Hallee


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pumpkin cake

Wonderful Honey Pumpkin Cake

pumpkin cakeWonderful Honey Pumpkin Cake

This cake has all the wonderful flavors of fall — cinnamon, pumpkin, walnuts — and is make with honey instead of refined sugar.  Top it with a light whipped cream, or Lick-the-Bowl-Good-Cream Cheese Frosting.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups unbleached or whole wheat flour (I use fresh ground soft white wheat)
1 TBS aluminum-free baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
1/4  tsp salt (Kosher or sea salt is best)
1/3  cup honey (preferably local, raw honey)
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups mashed pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 cup chopped walnuts

 

SUPPLIES:

Sifter/small bowl
large mixing bowl
stand mixer or beater
measuring cups/spoons
13×9 baking pan

PREPARATION:

Preheat oven to 350° degrees F (175° degrees C)

Grease and flour baking pan.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Set aside.

DIRECTIONS:

In a large mixing bowl, combine honey and butter.  Beat until fluffy.  Add the vanilla and pumpkin.

Beat in eggs one at a time.  Reduce mixer speed to low.  Gradually beat in flour until just mixed.

Stir in nuts.

Bake at 350° degrees F (175° degrees C) for 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

YIELD:

(yield)

NUTRITION: ~*~
High in IronHigh in vitamin A pumpkin cake nutrition
~*~
NOTES:

I would love to hear any feedback about this recipe. Did you make it? Did you enjoy it? Did you make any adjustments to it?

Hallee


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dining start of party

A Sweet Sixteen

A follower on my Hallee the Homemaker Facebook page asked me, during my hectic week last week, if I would blog about Kaylee’s birthday party and what I did.  The problem is, during party planning, I get immensely busy and don’t stop to take pictures. I have this weird hangup that if I can’t take a picture, then I can’t blog about it because it’s almost like the picture validates what I’ve done.  Silly, I know, but nevertheless…

So, I told her that I would be happy to talk about it, but that I would have no pictures to back it up.

I will start off talking about the parties I do by saying this: to me, the food is the most important aspect of the party.  If food is good, if drinks are fun, if you have good people, you almost always will have a good party – especially now that Kaylee’s older.  The boys’ parties still require an effort toward games/prizes, but that’s another post.

A couple of weeks ago, Kaylee gave me her preferred menu.  She wanted to do a “make your own pizza” bar, serve hot wings, have a fruit pizza, a vegetable tray, homemade pico de gallo and homemade guacamole with tortilla chips, homemade French onion dip with potato chips, a 7-layer hummus dip I make with pita chips, and cake pops instead of a cake.

I’d never made cake pops before, so I did some research and settled on two kinds: white cake with a vanilla buttercream and tinted vanilla shell with colorful sprinkles, and a brown sugar cake with salted caramel buttercream and a chocolate shell with a salted caramel drizzle.  I found both recipes at 52 Kitchen Adventures Blog.  I made the cakes and mixed the crumbs with the buttercream early in the week and put them in the fridge.  What I learned from that adventure was this: I should have made the salted caramel cake balls then put them in the fridge (or freezer).  Lesson learned.  With the vanilla cake, I pressed it flat, then used cookie cutters to cut “1′s” and “6′s”.  Those I did freeze early, and that worked just fine.

On Wednesday, it occurred to me that I had about ten girls coming to spend the night and we have tile or hard wood floors – not really conducive to just throwing a sleeping bag down.  So, I put a call out on social media and local friends responded with air mattresses for me.  I did an inventory and made sure I had enough bedding and pillows.

The day before the Friday party, I went shopping for my ingredients.  I mainly shopped at Meijer and  Trader Joe’s — their produce prices rival Whole Foods, and it saved me an extra stop just to get it all within those two places.  For drinks, I bought Trader Joe’s “vintage” sodas in orange creme, cola, and root beer.  I also bought a couple six-packs of Ale-8, a local soda that is bottled about two miles from my house.  I went to Party City to find “Sweet 16″ decorations, but their supply was sorely lacking.  My only options were hot pink and black – not my first choice – and their prices were unreasonably high.  So, I bought the least I could buy and went to a discount store and bought the remainder of the decorations using plain colors to match the theme.

The night before, I decorated as much of the house as I had energy to decorate.  I kept it simple – just balloons and dangly things from the ceiling.  Like I said — it’s my opinion that the food is the heart of a good party (if you have good people).

living start of party

The morning of the party, I started working on cake pops.  About four hours later, I emerged from what I called “cake pop hell”, determined that I would never do them again.  The effort was incredible, but the results were visually appealing.  My personal opinion was that the vanilla cake pops (the 16′s) were really good, but the salted caramel was incredibly rich.  But, Kaylee was pleased, and that’s what matters.

salted caramel cake popsweet 16's

I made the sugar cookie crust for the fruit pizza, and while it was baking I finished decorating then worked on the rest of the party food.  I put tablecloths on the tables, and as I finished each dish, I just went ahead and set it out.  By the time I picked Kaylee up from tennis practice, nearly everything was ready.

dining start of party

We have an HD DVD thing hooked up to our television that can access all sorts of fun Internet things – including Pandora radio.  So, I set it to a Top 40 playlist and let the girls have at it (I think at one time, it was set to “Disney Movie Songs” — which was fun because they were all singing along.  I should have probably recorded that one!)

For the make your own pizza bar, I set out toppings — turkey ham, turkey Italian sausage, turkey pepperoni, shredded Mozzerella, shredded fresh Parmesean, sliced purple onions, sliced green peppers, black olives, mushrooms, fresh pineapple, fresh tomatoes — I even had a can of anchovies (that, strangely, no one wanted).  I made a quadruple batch of pizza dough (which was too much – I could have done a triple or a maybe even a double), then rolled out pizzas that were about five inches in diameter.  I was able to do four at a time on flat sheet pans, so the girls just came in batches and we baked them as fast as we made them.  When it was all over, I made one big pizza and set it out so if anyone was hungry again, they could just help themselves.

I cleaned the kitchen, blew up air mattresses and made up enough beds between Kaylee’s room and the boys’ room for 10 girls to sleep, set the boys up in my bedroom, and Gregg and I crashed around midnight.  The last batch of girls (four of them) all finally fell asleep around four.

sleeping boys

The next morning, I reset the dining room and set the table for breakfast.

ready for breakfast

Gregg and I brewed a few batches of coffee, fried 2 pounds of beef bacon, 1 pound of turkey bacon, and made chocolate chip waffles with chocolate whipped cream.  There was also the leftover fruit pizza that got inhaled.

breakfast

By 11:00, everyone was gone, and dishwasher load number three was running, and we all kind of deflated, lying around until we had to meet a friend at five for dinner.

All in all, it was a great party.  It’s awesome to overhear your daughter, at her Sweet 16 party, talking with her friends about their favorite Bible verses.  It makes me pleased at how she’s turning out and the quality of friends with which she surrounds herself.

Hallee


I’m so grateful for your visit, today.
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valentine cookies

Double Decker Valentine Cookies

Every year, I make Valentine’s cookies for gifts for my kids’ teachers (except Kaylee — apparently when you’re in high school, it’s not “cool” to give your teachers cookies – heh).  One of the cookies going into the basket this this year, is a a double-decker cookie.

valentine cookies

Make Traditional Sugar Cookies.  The only other thing required is some colored sugar sprinkles.

Cut out two sizes of hearts (or whatever your design is).

2 sizes

Place the larger hearts on the pan.

large on pan

Take one small heart and brush it lightly with water.  Don’t try to make it wet as much as provide something to which the sugar could stick because the dough is dry.

waterbrush little with water

Sprinkle the surface liberally with sugar.  It’s best to do this over a ramikin or something similar so that you can catch the excess sugar.

sprinkle with sugar

Dump it.  What remains is what is stuck to the water.

brush excess sugar

Brush the larger heart lightly with water.  This will help “cement” the two together.

brush with water

Place the smaller heart on top of the larger heart.

place on larger

Gently press.  Don’t squish it.

ready to bake

Bake at 350° for about 10 minutes, but watch them after 8.  It just all depends on the thickness of the cookies.

Cool on a cooling rack.

cooling

 

Hallee


I’m so grateful for your visit, today.
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Santa Cupcakes

Planning for Christmas Baking

As I write this, it’s December 13th and we have just under two weeks to prepare for our Christmas baking gift giving. This is a tradition my mother taught me, and something I look forward to and plan for every single year.
I love giving my friends delicious homemade treats as a Christmas gift. I used to do it while I worked full time, and would spend and entire Saturday and most of a Sunday baking and cooking and cleaning and mixing. Over the years, I’ve learned how to space the work out so that it’s not so frantic and exhausting.
However, I found myself writing a book during peak holiday planning time instead of planning, prepping, and blogging for/about Christmas baking.  So, here it is, a week later than usual, but still on time to make amazing gifts in the coming weeks:

Candy

My fudge recipe was given to my grandmother in 1946. A friend brought a plate of fudge to a Christmas party at church, and wrote the recipe down on the back of a church bulletin. The only thing that I changed was to remove the margarine from the recipe and replace it with half butter and half coconut oil. This fudge is amazing — it’s even better with homemade marshmallow cream.

We call this Captain Crunch Candy. I don’t know what the original name was, or where my mother got the recipe. However, I remember eating this every single Christmas of my life. It’s amazing and a favorite in our goodie baskets we make for friends.

This year I tried my hand at a layered Jell-O recipe.  The Christmas Jello Stars were so festive and so good.

Cookies

Now that Gregg is home, he is in charge of making Gregg’s Gingerbread Cookies. He will make them at night, and have the dough ready to go the next morning. This is a huge batch – plenty for Christmas gift giving, or for a gingerbread house decorating party. We use Gregg’s Quick & Easy Royal Icing when we decorate them.

I grew up making Traditional Sugar Cookies at Christmas time. My mom would have them baked and ready for when I came home from high school, and I would decorate them with Buttercream Frosting – colored all different colors. We had a variety of sprinkles and imperials. I’d pull out my decorating tips and bags and spend hours on Christmas trees and angels, making each one perfect. The flavor combination of the sugar cookie and frosting is wonderful, and they are always so pretty in gift baskets.

Kaylee tried a new recipe last year – Engaging Eggnog Cookies. She sandwiched the cookies with Engaging Eggnog Icing. They were so yummy and will now be part of our Christmas gift baskets.

I love my spritz cookie press. You can bake a pan of spritz cookies in no time. I have a butter recipe and a chocolate recipe. I like to make the wreaths and dip them in white or dark chocolate, then sprinkle them with Christmas imperials. The Christmas trees are also awesome to make – just sprinkle them with green sugar and you’re good to go.

I also came across this tip on how to decorate Christmas sugar cookies.

Breads

I love making miniature loaves of breads for my gift baskets that I hand out to friends and families. Two recipes that are a must each year are Shannon’s Banana Bread and Delicious Cranberry Nut Bread.

This year, I will also be making loaves of my Whole Wheat Honey Oatmeal Bread.

Cakes

I have a miniature bundt cake pan set. I make Heavenly Red Velvet Cakes and just drizzle them with mascarpone cheese frosting.

And a new try this year: Red Velvet Cake Roll.  Heavenly.

Something the kids have loved in the past, and that I’ve taken to Kaylee’s school for her Christmas parties all through elementary school are my Santa Cupcakes and Reindeer Cupcakes. They are way easier to make than they look.

Once you have your lists made, go ahead and stock up on the supplies. A lot of the cookies and breads can be made ahead of time and frozen.

During the remaining weeks leading up to Christmas, I’ll be making breads, cakes, candies, and cookies, getting ready to put the baskets together.

Do you give homemade treats as gifts? What are you making for Christmas?

 

Hallee


I’m so grateful for your visit, today.
You would bless me if you added me to your Subscribe via any Reader feed reader or subscribed Subscribe via Email via email.
You can also become a fan on Become a Facebook Fan Facebook or follow me on Follow me on Twitter Twitter. I would love to see more of you!


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stars

Christmas Jello Stars

Christmas Jello Stars

These were so much fun to make.  The flavors worked really well together and it looked incredibly festive on the platter. They were gone within minutes at a church potluck dinner. Be prepared, though.  It takes a little over 2 hours of regular (20 to 25-minute intervals) working with it.

INGREDIENTS:

2 2-ounce package green Jello
1 2-ounce package red Jello
1 2-ounce package yellow Jello
6 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
5¾ cups boiling water (used separately over stretches of time)
¼ cup cold water

SUPPLIES:

Measuring cups
small glass or ceramic bowls
spoons
larger bowl
small amount of oil and paper towel

PREPARATION:

Bring water to a boil

Using a small amount of oil on a paper towel, grease the inside of the pan.

DIRECTIONS:

Mix package of green Jello and one envelope of unflavored gelatin.  Add one cup boiling water.  Stir about two minutes or until dissolved.  Pour into the pan.  Refrigerate until set, but not firm — about 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, sprinkle two envelopes of unflavored gelatin over ¼ cup cold water.  Let stand for 1 minute.  Stir in ¾ cup boiling water.

In another bowl, mix condensed milk with one cup boiling water.

Add the gelatin mixture to the milk mixture and stir.

Pour 1 ¼ cup of the milk/gelatin mixture over the first layer and refrigerate until set, but not firm — about 25 minutes.

Mix the red Jello with one packet of unflavored gelatin and one cup boiling water.  Stir about 2 minutes or until dissolved.  Pour into the pan and refrigerate until set, but not firm — about 20 minutes.

Pour 1 ¼ cup of the milk/gelatin mixture into pan and refrigerate until set but not firm — about 25 minutes.

Mix the remaining package of green Jello with 1 package of unflavored gelatin and 1 cup boiling water.  Stir 2 minutes or until dissolved.  Pour into the pan and refrigerate until firm but not set — about 20 minutes.

Pour the remaining milk/gelatin mixture into the pan and refrigerate until set but not firm — about 25 minutes.

Mix the yellow Jello with 1 packet of unflavored gelatin and one cup boiling water.  Stir 2 minutes or until dissolved.  Pour into the pan and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

When it is fully set, cut into star shapes with a small cookie cutter.

Serve.  Refrigerate any leftovers.

 

YIELD:

Depends on the size of the cutter.  My instructions said to cut into 1-inch squares — that would yield 117 servings.  I got about 20 stars and a whole bunch of scraps that my kids have been eating off of — and they love the scraps as much as the stars.

~*~
~*~
NOTES:

I would love to hear any feedback about this recipe. Did you make it? Did you enjoy it? Did you make any adjustments to it?

Hallee


I’m so grateful for your visit, today.
You would bless me if you added me to your Subscribe via any Reader feed reader or subscribed Subscribe via Email via email.
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picture source

Thinking of Christmas in June

One of the easiest things I’ve ever made homemade is homemade vanilla extract .

picture source: http://www.couponsaregreat.net

The instructions to make it are found by following this link.

You literally cut vanilla beans in half, length-wise, then put them in a mason jar filled with clear alcohol — like vodka or Everclear.  That’s it.

Homemade vanilla extract makes a beautiful gift come Christmastime.  It’s something most people don’t think to make or know how to make, and the pure, real stuff is expensive.  Put it in a neat little jar and you have an easy, loved, homemade gift.

But, it takes a while to make it.  You can’t pop beans into alcohol and the next day have it ready.  It takes MONTHS to steep.

Hence this little reminder.

If you want to give homemade vanilla extract to your friends and family for Christmas this year, you need to go ahead and make it now.

Your friends and family will LOVE it!

 

Hallee


I’m so grateful for your visit, today.
You would bless me if you added me to your Subscribe via any Reader feed reader or subscribed Subscribe via Email via email.
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